As river cruise lines look forward to a year with their full fleets
back in the water, they are finding that, going into the third year of
the pandemic, passengers' wanderlust has surged.
River brands seem unanimous in saying that guests are booking longer itineraries and more add-ons.
"We believe travellers are eager to return to international travel
and are looking to extend their trips to maximise their time away," said
Maggie Carbonell, vice president of marketing for Scenic Group, who
said that Scenic is seeing a booking shift to 14 days from seven.
Ellen Bettridge, CEO of Uniworld, agreed, saying that the line is
seeing "a spike in longer, back-to-back trip bookings and a rise in
bucket-list trips." For Uniworld, those include sailings in the Peruvian
Amazon and in Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong.
Richard Marnell, executive vice president of marketing at Viking,
also cited interest in "farther abroad" sailings, such as Egypt and
Southeast Asia, and longer itineraries, such as Viking's 15- and 23-day
"These longer trips appeal to guests who are looking to maximise
their time abroad and visit more regions in one seamless journey," he
Carbonell said the longer-cruise trend is also being driven by cruisers having spent almost two years working from home.
"With many Americans working remotely over the past two years, it's become easier to take a longer trip," she said.
River cruisers are so excited to travel again, Bettridge said, that
when the line came up with a Mystery Cruise it sold out in less than 48
"We anticipate that all of these trends will continue as travellers
are ready to make the most of their banked vacation days and really
surprise and treat themselves," she said.
Other trends Uniworld is seeing include a rise in solo travellers and
rail travel, with the line saying its cruise-and-rail combo itineraries
are in "very high demand".
River cruisers not yet ready to travel internationally are exhibiting the same booking habits for domestic river sailings.
David Luxeder, director of marketing for American Cruise Lines, said
the brand is experiencing higher demand for longer cruises as well as
more add-on land excursions. In response, the company has added more
pre- and post-cruise packages and extended its land adventures.
Bookings are also being driven by travellers who not only want to
stay domestic and cruise "closer to home," Luxeder said, but who are
taking advantage of the line's many drive-to embarkation ports.
Marnell also cited "strong interest" for Viking's first Mississippi River sailings, set to launch in July.
Source: Travel Weekly