River Cruise Popularity Surges in 1st Half of Wave Season

Minneapolis, MN - February 14, 2013 - With the cruise industry’s 2013 "Wave Season” nearly half-completed, the popularity of river cruising continues soaring to new heights, according to booking data from Cruise Holidays International and its cruise experts across North America. Cruise Holidays analyzed its river cruises booked on four major river cruise lines, and the total number of reservations has jumped nearly 25% when comparing bookings made January 1-February 13, 2013, to the same time period last year. This dramatic increase follows similar growth from 2011-2012. Comparatively, CLIA, the cruise industry’s largest cruise association, cites annual passenger growth for the past 30 years at just under eight percent.

Cruise Holidays also asked its cruise experts why river cruising is increasing in popularity. The company provides more information today on which of the most popular overall cruise destinations can be experienced via a river cruise.

"Cruise Holidays agents have been at the forefront of advocating and booking river cruises over the last four years, particularly as an increasing number of river cruise ships come on-line, adding more creature comforts and destinations to itineraries,” said Mark Schiffner, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Cruise Holidays International. "We are reaching a tipping point where the question is no longer, ‘What is a river cruise?’ but ‘Which river cruise is right for me and can you help me plan my next river cruise vacation?’”

As part of its 2013 Cruise Trends Survey, Cruise Holidays International asked 165 of its cruise experts, "What makes river cruising such an attractive vacation option?”
Here are the top responses based on optional answers:

1. (tie) Opportunity to see ports that can’t be reached via an ocean-going ship
1. (tie) Guided tours that often are included in the price of the cruise
3. Docking in the heart of river cities
4. Being able to see the countryside or cities from a unique perspective
5. Small ship ambiance
6. Convenience of only unpacking once
7. That river cruising is still an emerging concept – being able to do something different

One significant write-in response provided several times was that travelers appreciate the free-flowing wine and beer that typically come with lunch and dinner on river cruises, along with the availability of complimentary specialty coffees, soda and bottled water. "River cruising encourages a culture of congeniality with its small ships, the tours offered to passengers in most ports, along with complimentary drinks and dining options that reflect the local flavor of the cities where they’re docking,” said Schiffner. "River cruising is certainly an alternative for someone who is ready to try something a little bit different with their next vacation.”

River cruising offers a unique way to experience some of the world’s most coveted destinations. In the Cruise Holidays 2013 Cruise Trends survey, Europe placed second as an overall cruise destination, only behind the Caribbean. European river cruising contributed to Europe’s success in that ranking.

Additionally, some ports considered the most desirable in the world are also accessible via river cruise vacations. For example, Cruise Holidays experts wrote-in those international cruise destinations they feel are most under-rated. Three out of the top five – Istanbul, Turkey; Tallinn, Estonia; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands – are all available on various river cruise itineraries, or are offered as "add-ons” prior to or after the river cruise. Most notably, there are no less than 25 varying itineraries offered by major river cruise lines that include Amsterdam, including "Tulip Time” cruises or other itineraries that link to the Rhine River and beyond.

"Of course, since so many of Europe’s most significant cities were built on rivers, there’s a good chance that you can visit it while on a river cruise,” noted Schiffner.

*The Cruise Holidays 2013 Cruise Trends survey gathered responses from 165 Cruise Holidays experts located in the United States and Canada, from November 29, 2012 to December 17, 2012.

About Cruise Holidays®

Cruise Holidays®, the world’s most far-reaching cruise-specialty retail franchise, features stores and virtual offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Cruise Holidays is also a distinguished provider of land tour vacation packages. Founded in 1984, Cruise Holidays is part of Travel Leaders Leisure Group.

SOURCE Cruise Holidays

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