The UK and Ireland river cruise industry grew by 10.4 per cent in 2018, according to figures released by CLIA UK & Ireland.
A total of 232,300 river cruises were taken by British and Irish passengers.
Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director, said: “The river cruise market is certainly proving popular in the travel sector with passenger numbers continuing to grow year on year. This can be put down to the incredible experiences a river cruise has to offer, as guests can sail through the heart of a destination – as well as the plethora of fantastic itineraries and the high standard of the ships.”
The Danube became the most popular river, overtaking the Rhine, with the two waterways accounting for 58 per cent of the total, compared to 53 per cent in 2017.
The Douro, which has seen a number of new river ships launch on it this year, grew by 15 per cent in 2018.
The Nile grew by 21 per cent, from 4,700 to 5,700 passengers – an indication that the once popular river could be making a return.
“One-third of all river ships have been built within the past 10 years, with 18 new vessels set to launch from now to 2020, meaning that guests can sail on ships that are contemporary, luxurious and have plenty to offer. This attracts the modern-day traveller, who seeks to explore the world in comfort and style,” Harmer added.
“River cruise lines are also focusing on shore excursion choices with activities that either keep guests active with biking, hiking or canoeing or that offer enriching experiences, where guests can learn a new skill or improve an existing one.”
North America enjoyed a 50 per cent increase in bookings.
The average length of a river cruise in Europe increased to eight nights and non-Europe cruises had an average length of 6.7 nights, an increase of 3.1 per cent from 2017.