One of the most popular trends in river cruising in recent years has been the expansion of wellness programmes and more choices in excursions featuring things like hiking and biking, even canoeing and kayaking.
And as European river operators return to the water this year, expect to see even more outdoor active options, thanks in part to the pandemic.
Avalon Waterways in 2019 launched Active & Discovery itineraries that, as the name indicates, guarantee both active and discovery excursion options in addition to traditional tours on each sailing. This year's lineup adds a cruise through the Netherlands and Belgium.
"I love this itinerary, as it is a new way to experience tulip season unlike any other cruise you'll find," said Avalon managing director Pamela Hoffee. "Our included excursion choices feature biking tours, a Delft pottery painting class, chocolate workshop, nature walks, tasting at an oyster farm, guided sightseeing with expert local guides and much more. While tulip season is what comes to mind first, there is so much to do in this region beyond the spring that we offer this itinerary in the summer, too."
The company said it will also be adding Active & Discovery itineraries on the Moselle and the Seine in 2022.
Additionally, Hoffee said Avalon used some of its time during the pandemic shutdown of the 2020 river cruise season to add some alternative excursions to all of its sailings, "as we found our guests were looking for more of these options and know that this will be even more of a trend as we come back in 2021 with the desire to be outside".
The company now has adventure hosts on all of its cruises to lead the excursions and help create more outdoor activities.
Likewise, AmaWaterways, which was among the leaders in introducing a more active focus in river cruising when it became the first line to put bikes on all of its ships back in 2006, has wellness coaches on its ships and continues to expand its health-focused and outdoor offerings.
"Our guests have always embraced different ways of enjoying the open air and staying healthy while on vacation," said Kristin Karst, co-founder and executive vice president of AmaWaterways.
"The concerns and restrictions related to Covid-19 have many people craving travel experiences that take them to less crowded destinations and offer more time to explore the natural settings around them. All our river cruises provide that opportunity, with four or five included hiking and biking excursions. But we have also thoughtfully curated new itineraries like the Impression of the Seine & Paris, which slows down the pace of travel to allow more time in each port to soak in local colour or enjoy extended biking and hiking excursions."
Source: Travel Weekly