River cruising continues to rise in popularity as visitor numbers soar

Advice

River cruises are on the rise. A total of 232,300 river cruises were taken by British and Irish holidaymakers last year, an increase of 10.4 per cent from 2017, according to figures released from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK today. 

The Danube overtook the Rhine to become the most popular destination for UK and Irish passengers. Together the two rivers and their tributaries accounted for 58 per cent of passenger numbers, compared to 53 per cent in 2017. The Douro in Southern Europe experienced the highest growth with an increase of almost 15 per cent in passenger numbers.

Passengers are also spending fractionally longer (eight nights) on European river cruises compared to 2017.

Outside of Europe, the Mekong and the Nile continue to entice passengers with the latter witnessing a 21 per cent growth. North America – a relatively new destination to the river cruise market – also proved popular with passengers and saw a healthy 50 per cent growth. The average length of time spent on non-European cruises grew to 6.7 nights, an increase of 3.1 per cent from 2017.   

Andy Harmer, director of CLIA UK and Ireland, attributes the incredible rise of the river cruise market to “the incredible experiences [on 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 Nile

Experience the rhythm of life on the Nile

Credit:
iStock

“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.

“River cruise lines are also focussing 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.

“As such, the interest in river cruises continues to grow and CLIA anticipate this popularity continuing to increase in years to come.”

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