CruiseRiver cruisers seek longer trips, active itineraries, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and the chance to travel solo or with a partner.

Top destinations and trends for river cruising in 2023

The Rhine is the No. 1 river that respondents to Globus’ Wish List survey want to visit.
The Rhine is the No. 1 river that respondents to Globus’ Wish List survey want to visit. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/janny2

The Globus family of brands — which includes Globus, Cosmos and Avalon Waterways — sent out a “Wish List” survey to the brands’ previous travellers back in December. 

In total, the company received 28,971 responses (almost 10,000 of which were from Avalon guests, specifically), about what they most desire in 2023.

The most popular countries and rivers

First on the list were the most sought-after countries and rivers.

“From Paris to Prague, Amsterdam to Zurich, and Budapest to the Black Sea, the storybook landscapes, castle-dotted cliffs and vineyard-lined waterways of Europe continue to drive river cruise interest,” according to a press release from Avalon.

The top five “must-see” countries for Avalon cruisers are France (39%), Portugal (31%), Germany (30%), Austria (25%) and Switzerland (24%).

And the results for the top five rivers these clients wish to navigate are the Rhine River (76%), the Upper Danube River (64%), the Seine and Rhone Rivers (39%), the Lower Danube River (34%) and the Douro River (31%).

“River cruise bookings for 2023 are being led by the Rhine River; however, our most popular destination for the new year is France,” said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways. “We expect both the Seine and Rhone Rivers to sell out this year. And, on the heels of announcing the new Avalon Alegria on the Douro River for 2024, we’re enjoying early-booking success. The new ship and itinerary are already 50% sold more than one year in advance.” 

Meanwhile, waterways outside of Europe are popular, as well, including the Nile River (15%), the Mekong (13%) and the Amazon (9%).

With less-frequented rivers garnering interest, off-the-beaten-path destinations are increasingly picking up steam. In fact, close to half of Avalon loyalists (44%) said it’s important to them to visit new ports and have new experiences.

Other post-pandemic river cruise trends

Who clients are seeking to travel with is evolving after the pandemic, as well, with more guests looking to share the experience with others (and some preferring to go it alone).

The largest grouping (73%) said they want to cruise with their partner or “better half,” while 30% expressed a desire to sail with friends or family. And still a good amount — nearly a quarter of respondents, at 24%— indicated they like to cruise solo.

“Catering to this trend — and recognising that river cruising is a perfect travel style for solo travellers — Avalon waives the single supplement on a select number of rooms on every departure across Europe and Southeast Asia,” Hoffee said.

The desired length of a cruise is also shifting. According to Hoffee, seven- to 10-day journeys were previously en vogue, as well as trialing the travel form on three- and four-night voyages. But the Wish List survey indicates that river cruisers are increasingly looking for longer vacations in 2023.

Over half of river cruisers — 51% — told Avalon that they want to reserve a two-week trip in 2023, versus the 38% who still prefer a one-week sailing.

Active itineraries are trending

Not only does Avalon offer two-week cruises — such as its “Magnificent Europe” and “Grand France” routes — but the brand also offers “Active” itineraries that are growing in popularity. Among those surveyed, 26% of respondents enjoy hiking, biking and paddling during their excursions.

“Our fastest-growing itineraries on Europe’s rivers are Active & Discovery cruises,” Hoffee said. “Since launching Active & Discovery cruises on the Danube River in 2017, we have added these popular itineraries to every major European waterway, increasing offerings by 600%.”

Source: TravelAge West

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