Over the next 10 years river cruise revenues are expected to increase by 18%, from $1.45 billion in 2022 to $1.71 billion in 2032. With that in mind, we wanted to discuss the trend and what to consider if you plan to book a river cruise.
Why Take a River Cruise?
River cruises allow you to enjoy almost all the benefits of a traditional ocean cruise with the chance to have a less crowded, more intimate travelling experience. As with traditional cruises, river cruises offer the benefit of only unpacking once while being able to explore numerous destinations.
The biggest way a river cruise differs from its ocean counterpart is that you’ll likely spend much more time at each destination. This gives travelers a chance to explore vibrating cities and laid-back towns and villages, while also going to unexplored areas where large ships cannot go. Cruisers often say they “feel like river cruises gave me the opportunity to be a traveler, not just a tourist.”
River cruise ships are smaller vessels (usually 100-250 people), which means getting on and off of the boat is much easier, and navigating the boat is less complicated. River cruises give you access to intracontinental cities you cannot visit on traditional cruises. Being on a smaller boat in shallower waters means people who might have gotten seasick on the ocean may not have the same experience on a river cruise, opening up the experience to people who otherwise would not have been able to enjoy it.
Where do river cruises go?
River cruises first launched in the 1960’s in Europe. As a result, many of the biggest names in the industry such as Viking River Cruises, Avalon, and Scenic offer several options through Europe, including on the Rhine, Moselle, and Douro, around the Mediterranean, and even in Northern Africa. Many cruise lines have expanded into Southeast Asia, allowing you to tour the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia.
But you do not need to cross an ocean to enjoy a river cruise. There is a growing market here in the US- boats travel along the Mississippi, Hudson, Columbia, and Snake rivers, discovering natural, cultural, and historical attractions along the way. Popular routes include cruises from Memphis to Nashville, St. Louis to Minneapolis as well as cruises through the Lower Mississippi and Snake River.
Things to Know Before Taking off On Your Cruise
Previous travelers have noted that, because you are traveling to smaller destinations, your ship may be docked next to another (known as rafting), meaning you will need to disembark through the other ship’s lobby or up and over some sun decks. These cruises can feel a bit regimented to more self-guided travelers. Meals and tours are usually at set times, and they are usually quite strict about being back on the boat by departure time. You can choose whether to engage in any of the tours or activities, and as the industry has expanded some cruises have started implementing “anytime dining.” Finally, river cruises usually involve several miles of walking at their destinations, so it’s best to build up your endurance so as to get the most possible out of the trip. If you have mobility issues or that would otherwise be a problem, be sure to check with the cruise company or a travel advisor to make sure the cruise you choose is a good fit.