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River cruise attracts ‘new-to-cruise’ clients, agents say

A new CLIA report for travel agents says that river cruises are a great way to introduce clients to cruising.

River cruises are currently one of the hottest trends in the cruise industry, a new Cruise Lines International Association report points out, and are “a great way to introduce ‘new-to-cruise’ travellers to cruising”.

Nearly four out of every five travel agents (79%) in a survey said that a river cruise is a good introduction to cruises in general, CLIA’s latest Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report says.

The agents also remarked that river cruises are ideal for clients looking for new or different experiences, smaller ships, destination immersion or a relaxed way to see Europe.

As a result, Europe is seeing an uptick in popularity. River cruises in Europe have seen a 53% year-on-year growth to eastern waterways (Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Elbe), 30% growth to western channels (Soane, Seine, Loire) and 24% growth to the south (Douro, Rhone, Dordogne, Garonne, Po).

“The results of last quarter’s survey were no surprise,” says Rob Huffman, vice president for US sales at Scenic Group.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth for both of our river cruise brands – Scenic and Emerald Waterways – on the traditional European routes like the Danube, as well as on newer routes like the Douro.”

Cruise soaring
The report also finds that overall cruise bookings and spending are soaring. Four out of every five agents (84%) said bookings were up compared to last year and 83% said spending was up.

Alaska has consistently been the top growth destination for the last three years of the report and more than two-thirds of agents (67%) report seeing increased interest in the state.

“Alaska is selling like crazy right now and families are liking the big ships travelling to Alaska,” agrees Amy Madson of Cruise Inc.

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