Still Rolling On The River No longer emerging, river is still in a growth phase
by Vanessa Lee
cruising on a river
U by Uniworld
is so much going on in the river sector of the cruising biz that I thought it
was high time for a review.
segment is no longer an emerging one,
but still in a solid
growth phase although some aspects have plateaued. The lines have
differentiated their offerings somewhat, as ocean did previously -- there are
river players in the luxury segment with the balance mostly in what I would
call mainstream and contemporary.
is still much that is new and I really like the fact that all the major players
are striving to raise the bar on a consistent basis.
I am also intrigued by how often I am asked about
river cruising and how much interest there still is -- a good sign. It still
comes mostly from baby boomers or older right now but there is a definite
fascination and a strong desire to try it.
you have NOT been on a river cruise yet, may I respectfully suggest you have
missed the boat and that you should get yourself on a ship and a river soon!
such a big audience and so much continued growth, you really need to see and
experience what it is all about so you can be a positive reinforcement and
recommender. I take a river cruise at least once a year and I notice the
difference in inclusions and standards each time. We all have to keep up with
of those is the exciting venture into a younger market by Uniworld with its U
by Uniworld ships launching in Spring 2018 for 21 to 45 year olds only.
It’s certainly a game-changer though
I would feel more comfortable though if the age range were, say, 25 to 40. A
45-year-old could ostensibly be cruising with a son or daughter of 21. And I
’t think that’s what they have in mind.
have butlers on Scenic and also on the new Crystal ships
– the Mozart, and the newly
Crystal Bach. With three more
purpose-built river vessels coming within the year from Crystal, that
’s a lot of new inventory. And we have Active Discovery
tours from Avalon which also has a new ship sailing the Mekong next year.
are lots of affinity group opportunities, especially with AmaWaterways and its
various itineraries which have a strong focus on wine as well as many other
interests. Wellness is big on the rivers too -- look for bigger spas on some
ships, along with healthier food, yoga and fitness options.
are all-inclusive cruises
– Uniworld is one of the
leaders here -- and Tauck features fewer guests and larger staterooms on some
’s a recent entry in
Emerald, offering a solid 4-star experience as opposed to big sister Scenic,
which has gone way up the luxury scale.
still has many ships on the rivers but has shifted some of its focus to ocean
cruising and have done a mighty fine job.
Then there are Europe-based river lines like Amadeus which have solid
4-star ships that offer a more a la carte experience by NOT including shorex.
Unusual, but they are creating an audience.
ships are growing in size. AmaWaterways will build the widest ship on the
rivers and launch it next year. Due to her size, the
AmaMagna can only sail the lower Danube,
but I saw a mock up stateroom and it was beautiful
– very spacious at about 300 sq. ft. This ship will have
extensive dining options, a big spa and a watersports platform.
what can river lines still do to improve?
are enhanced dining choices but some ships still need more. Most now offer wine
and beer with both lunch and dinner -- a positive. Some have small staterooms and
they need to enlarge them. For a couple on a 14-day cruise 200 sq. ft. is
simply not enough.
ships must invest in more interesting, creative evening entertainment.
AmaWaterways had two talented singers doing an ABBA show on the
Kristina this year and literally most
guests were dancing.
On Uniworld’s River Royale there’s a covered restaurant on deck –
Available a few nights a week and by reservation, it offers a wonderful
evening. More on deck opportunities, like a casual bar or on-deck bbq
lunch/dinner would add allure.
am clearly a river ship fan and enjoy the sense of relaxation as one journeys
along beautiful waterways amidst bucolic countryside. What I also like is that
the segment is being thoughtful, separating their offerings and achieving
wonderful onboard service, cuisine and accommodations.
Vanessa Lee Columnist
An internationally-known luxury cruise expert, Vanessa is publisher and editor of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles magazine. She contributes a column every other Friday for OJ’s Splash News and appears with Nina on the bi-monthly video Cruise Factor.