TORONTO — European Waterways is reporting record sales of its luxury hotel barge cruises as post-pandemic concerns continue to drive major trends.
With some travellers still preferring to create a “travel bubble” composed of families and small groups, for example, the company says that its private charter bookings have increased more than 45%. Travellers are also seeking experiences that take them “off the beaten path”; they want to be more than observers, but also become immersed in the local culture, gastronomy, and history of the region.
“We had a record year in 2022, with bookings 16% higher than our previous record, because our cruises tick all the boxes,” said Derek Banks, European Waterways’ managing director. “We offer exclusive ‘slow travel’ and ‘relaxed luxury’ experiences that are consistently among the most frequently cited industry trends.”
During the many years helping to grow the canal cruising market, European Waterways has developed close relationships with many local businesses, vineyards, personalities, and restaurants along their routes. These have proven essential in creating highly curated experiences for their guests that have become a hallmark of European Waterways cruises. For example, guests aboard La Bella Vita on Italy’s River Po can enjoy a private lunch with a Countess at her legendary villa, while cruising the Champagne region on Panache, they’ll embark on a private tour, wine tasting and gastronomic meal at the boutique Grand Cru winery of Frerejean Frères.
Throughout all this, guests enjoy private chauffeured transportation in air-conditioned Mercedes-Benz minibuses to and from their excursions. Onboard their hotel barge, highlights include meals every day prepared by a master chef, including wine pairings from local vintages. Barges also include onboard amenities such as spa pools and bicycles, available for guests’ use.
“Our 2023 bookings are already on another record pace,” said Banks. “We’re also seeing strong bookings for 2024 and even 2025. It reflects another travel trend of people feeling more confident about the future and booking their dream, ‘bucket list’ vacations far in advance.”
Banks added: “More and more travellers are discovering the ‘joys of luxury hotel barge cruising,’ and we are thrilled and honored to be recognized as a pioneer and standard-bearer for the industry.”
For more information go to www.europeanwaterways.com.