While travel to Europe may be slowing down a little with the emergence of stiff competition from exciting Asia, African and Latin American destinations, one sector is nevertheless seeing a rapid rise in popularity.
The emergence of the river cruise industry was one of the most keenly discussed topics at the recent Travel Weekly Consumer Travel Editors Roundtable, a get-together of some of the top travel editors in the U.S. today.
The popularity of river cruising is growing at almost three times the speed of sea cruises, according to the latest figures. The boom in this travel sector is evidenced by the fact that more than a dozen new ships were built last year to cater for the European river cruise industry.
“Travelers want an authentic experience,” says Nancy Novogrod, chief editor of Travel + Leisure, explaining the reason for the increase. “ It’s all about the experience now, getting in touch with something authentic and enduring”.
With new, stylized cabins the norm, smaller groups, WiFi connections and the chance of docking in the middle of several cities, people can enjoy much more ‘local’ experiences than they can with a traditional seaborne cruise.
River cruises are also ideal for solo travelers, which is another strongly emerging trend in the travel industry. The Norwegian Cruise Line, one of Europe’s biggest river cruise operators, recently created solo cabins on their ships, eliminating the requirement of lone travelers to book an expensive single supplement.
It’s not only the traditional cruises that are rising in popularity either. While traditional cruises on the Rivers Rhine, Po and Danube remain the most popular, they have to contend with the emergence of adventurous new routes such as those on the spectacular Volga and Dnieper rivers in Russia and Ukraine.