NEW YORK — European Waterways says its advance bookings for 2021 have nearly doubled year over year.
While health concerns have severely impacted the travel industry worldwide this year, travellers are “unquestionably optimistic” about the future, according to the luxury hotel barge cruising specialist.
The company, which recently launched its season following the reopening of borders by EU nations, reports that pent-up demand is leading to brisk booking activities for 2020. Meanwhile, advance bookings for 2021 are currently up 170% compared to last season. This includes more than 90% of Americans who rescheduled for next year after their cruises were cancelled due to government border restrictions.
“Travellers want to travel,” says Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “For many people, hotel barge cruising is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and they want to do it at the first opportunity they get. They are especially attracted to our excursions, which do a ‘deep dive’ into the fascinating history, cuisine, and architecture of the regions we cruise, many of which contain UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”
To address the uncertainties of today’s travel environment, the company offers a “Book with Confidence” policy that provides greater flexibility in rescheduling future cruises, should they be impacted by government restrictions. The health and safety of guests are also top priorities, with strict protocols in place that include crew and passenger temperature checks as well as deep cleaning and disinfecting of all cabins and public surfaces on the boats.
As an incentive for new guests, European Waterways is offering 10% off advance bookings for 2021, valid on select departures and based on availability. Eligible vessels include the 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland, which cruises the legendary Caledonian Canal in the Scottish Highlands. In addition to exceptional views of the Highlands, the cruise treats guests to traditional Scottish cuisine and a range of the country’s best whiskies. Another eligible vessel, the eight-passenger Anjodi, cruises the 330-year-old Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“In the age of social distancing, hotel barge cruising is ‘in the right place at the right time,’” says Banks. “We sail the picturesque canals and waterways through often unspoiled countryside, in the less populated regions of the country. Since most boats hold just six to 12 guests, social distancing is easier, if necessary, with exclusive excursions and private tours arranged during less crowded times. Families and small groups often book the whole vessel and have it all to themselves.”