WASHINGTON — Low water levels on Europe’s rivers made 2018 a challenging year for river cruising but that hasn’t stopped this one-time cruise niche, and now a cruise industry phenomenon, from posting double-digit growth.
River cruises in Europe have seen a 53% year-over-year growth to eastern waterways (Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Elbe) and a 30% growth to western channels (Soane, Seine, Loire) as well as a 24% growth to the south (Douro, Rhone, Dordogne, Garonne, Po), according to CLIA’s 2019 Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report.
River cruises remain one of the top trends in the cruise industry, says CLIA. And close to four out of five travel agents (79%) say a river cruise is a good way to introduce ‘new to cruise’ travellers to cruising. Agents surveyed in CLIA’s report also say river cruises are ideal for clients looking for new or different experiences, smaller ships, destination immersion and a relaxed way to see Europe.
“The results of last quarter’s survey were no surprise,” says Rob Huffman, Vice President Sales, USA, Scenic Group. “We’ve seen tremendous growth for both of our river cruise brands – Scenic and Emerald Waterways – on the traditional European routes like the Danube, as well as on newer routes like the Douro.”
Here are some of the CLIA report’s top findings:
- Cruise bookings, spending up
Four out of five travel agents (84%) say bookings are up when compared to last year. Additionally, 83% reported spending is up, as well. More than a quarter of agents (28%) reported clients are spending greater than 10% more than one year ago
- Alaska still strong
Alaska has been consistently the top growth destination for the last three years of the report. More than two-thirds of travel agents (67%) reported seeing increased interest in the Northern-most U.S. state. Alaska has gained an even wider margin than in the past.
- Destination interest up double digits
Some cruise destinations have seen a double-digit spike in interest from just a year ago. In Mediterranean Europe increased interest has jumped from 25 percent to 42% (up 17%) over the past year. South America has seen growth in interest from just 9% last year to 20%.
- Travel Agent Knowledge and Advocacy
Overwhelmingly, travel agents stated the most beneficial attribute for travel clients is the ability to providing valuable experience and product knowledge (86%). Agents also reported another travel agent benefit is the ability to leverage relationships and expertise if something goes wrong (81%).
For the full report see: https://cruising.org/-/media/ta-outlook/travel-agent-cruise-industry-outlook-december-2018.pdf