One of the first signs of spring for travel and cruise lovers like me… isn’t the first tulip or robin. It’s the return of river cruising in Europe.
This year especially celebrates a fresh new season, after two pandemic years when many people weren’t traveling to Europe and can’t wait now to return to their favorite European memories and make new ones.
Just before the start of the season, I had the chance to meet with one of the founders of the family-owned river cruise line, AmaWaterways.
Kristin Karst is the co-founder and executive vice president of the company (pictured second from left above), and her top-level, insider insights are invaluable to travelers thinking about Europe, especially this year.
By: Lynn Elmhirst, producer/host of World's Greatest Cruises
River Cruise Trends That May Surprise You
Who’s New to River Cruise:Kristin says AmaWaterways is seeing a lot of guests who have ocean cruised but not river cruised. Although partly driven by a quest for new travel experiences, she says in the post-pandemic travel world she sees ocean cruise guests looking to river ships for the advantages of “smaller ship experiences.”
That might not surprise you – but this might. AmaWaterways is also seeing an influx of river cruise bookings coming from travelers who previously traveled independently or by coach tours. She cites the “less stressful” experience of river cruising where everything is taken care of for guests by river cruises as a draw for independent travelers, and “more personalized” experiences getting into the heart of a destination for guests who have previously traveled by busy roads on crowded streets.
Longer cruises: Many people haven’t traveled for a couple of years, and that means they are making up for lost time and are unwilling to delay bucket list trips, says Kristin.That’s why they’re seeing people opting to travel longer. And in terms of river cruises, that means back-to-back cruises on different rivers or river segments.
To meet that demand, the company a few months ago introduced ‘7-River Cruises’ that take the same group of guests together on weeks-long journeys from one river to another. It’s a river cruise innovation that feels a lot like extended ocean cruise Grand Voyages.
Two other big trends for river cruise travel the company is focusing on are also about bringing people together: food and wine experiences, and also solo travel.
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