How river cruising is shaking its ‘little sister’ status

2 young sisters having a flour fight in the kitchen

River cruising is known for being the ‘little sister’ to the larger ocean-going vessels, but according to CLIA Managing Director, Joel Katz, it’s one of the fastest-growing segments in travel.

River cruises, typically, get stuck with the slow, older demographic stereotypes, which as Katz told us last week simply isn’t true.

But now, Katz tells us that river cruising is coming after ocean cruising in a big way.

“River cruising has been growing in popularity in recent years and at the moment there is nothing to suggest this will decrease,” Katz told Travel Weekly exclusively.

“The challenge will be meeting demand during peak season and scheduling vessels in some of the major river destinations.”

And yes, they might be smaller, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Generally speaking, river cruising is more intimate with vessels carrying fewer passengers,” admitted Katz.

“[But] they also enable the traveller to immerse themselves into the destinations, whilst combining comfort, ease and value for money.

“Passengers of river cruises are able to reach in-land destinations, adding to the overall experience of a country that ocean cruises are not always able to provide.

“It’s not only new rivers, but new small-town stops on existing rivers. These smaller cities don’t have the size for bus transportation; guests have to walk to access the attractions.

“River cruise lines often offer slow, medium and active paced walking tours. Today more and more people want to be active and involved. Farm-to-table dining is one such example of being involved in the local experience. “

And if you still think river cruising is just for the oldies wanting to sit back and watch the world float by, then you’re sorely mistaken.

As Katz told TW, one of the big trends in the business is a shift to “appeal to a greater range of demographics”.

“In the past two years there has been a greater shift to the family market (though Tauck and Uniworld have been doing selected family departures for a little while longer), which has helped change the way river cruising is being viewed by the consumer.

“AmaWaterways teamed up with Disney for many family departures in 2015, raising a few eyebrows to the stereotype associated with River Cruise Passengers.

“The response was tremendous, so much so that they started creating adjoining cabins on the family departure ships, and now operate at least two or three guided bicycle tour cruises per week.

“Uniworld also had a great response, tripling their family departures in 2016. Cruise lines are finding that the baby boomer grandparents increasingly want to show their grandchildren a bit of the world.

“Although river cruising has many attributes that match the holiday aspirations of the senior market, under 50’s including families also enjoy this type of travel,” Katz added.

“Also, most people think river cruising is a very sedentary form of exploring, but it doesn’t have to be; as you are in port every day, you can make it as active and dynamic as you want to make it.”

Latest News

  • Cruise
  • Travel Weekly Features

PROFILE: Julie Rogers MBA, Director of Sales Asia Pacific of Ponant

With increasing interest from Australians in expedition cruises, Julie Rogers MBA, Director of Sales Asia Pacific of PONANT, shares with Travel Weekly the new experiences she is excited about in cruise. Is there any significant increase in Australians/New Zealander’s heading north to the Arctic instead of the Antarctic? We have seen a steady growth in […]

  • Products

Mandarin Oriental takes a dive into swimwear with $360 board shorts

If you were inspired by The Inspired Unemployed’s Liam Moore limited-edition pair of Budgy Smugglers but want a bit more coverage, then here’s your chance. The Orlebar Brown brand has introduced an original design of the Bulldog swim short for Mandarin Oriental hotels – yours for a snip at US$242.25 (AU$360). They have been “designed […]

  • Health & Wellness
  • Luxury

Trisara showcases sustainable dining via wellspring program

Phuket-based resort Trisara is transporting guests from resort to farm to table then back again courtesy of a new limited-time program, Wellspring. The package is a collaboration with Tri Vananda, a US$182 million (AU $270 million) wellness community in northern Phuket, conceived by Montara Hospitality Group, the owners of Trisara. In addition to entitling guests […]

  • Aviation

Emirates SkyCargo expands fleet with five Boeing 777 freighters

Emirates SkyCargo announced an investment of US$1 billion (AU$1.484b) to expand its fleet with an order of five new Boeing 777 freighters. The investment follows a strong performance in the first quarter of the 2024/25 financial year. Emirates SkyCargo expects the new freighters to increase its capacity by 30 per cent. The increase enables the […]

  • Events
  • Tour Operators

ITE HCMC 2024 focuses on sustainable tourism for creating a future

The 18th annual International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC) will take place from 5 to 7 September at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center. Under the theme “Responsible Travel, Creating Future”, the expo will highlight its dedication to promoting sustainable tourism practices and showcasing innovative tourism products and services to meet rigorous […]

  • Appointments

Seasoned pro Chris Waite goes out on his own in corporate affairs & communications

Seasoned tourism and hospitality industry corporate affairs and communications professional Chris Waite has unveiled his new consultancy. Drawing on his 25 years of experience across Australia, Europe, and Asia, Chris Waite Corporate Affairs & Communications is dedicated to helping businesses build and safeguard their most valuable asset: their reputation. Waite will focus on delivering results through […]

  • News

Travel becomes the leading retirement priority in latest Equip Super research

A staggering 71 per cent of Australians are prioritising spending their retirement savings on travel, according to a recent survey by leading superannuation fund, Equip Super. Health concerns were ranked as second as the most significant priority in retirement with 56 per cent and spending on hobbies and interests takes the third spot at 54 […]