The most successful river cruise promotion by far has been Viking Cruises’ national sponsorship of PBS’ Masterpiece, featuring Downton Abbey.
The problem is, if you want to book a river cruise on a popular route in Europe for this summer, you may be out of luck. There’s a reason river lines are collectively building more than two dozen ships and seeking new destinations for all of them. The cruises in Europe are selling out.Now that the highly popular show has started up again, accompanied by those lovely promos showing beautiful scenes along the rivers of Europe, you might find yourself seeking a river cruise vacation.
According to USA Today, agents are getting calls and trying to find pockets here and there for the 2014 season, but it’s not too soon for cruisers to look at 2015.
“If Europe could find a way to create additional scenic rivers, the travel industry – and, in particular, our agents – would be sending even more clients on European river cruises,” said Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. “Demand is definitely outpacing supply even as major river cruise lines build more ships.”
In fact, if you search river cruises online, you’ll see a lot of “sold out” dates. Why the popularity? Marketing, of course, helps. But in addition to seeing the sights on legendary waterways including the Danube and Rhine (with Bordeaux another hot destination this year), river cruise passengers have also embraced the virtually all-inclusive aspect of the experience.
They like paying for shore excursions, Wi-Fi, and wine and beer upfront, as part of the cruise fare – and aren’t intimidated by seeing fares that reflect the inclusions.
The casual aspect of river cruising – you never have to dress up – may be another reason for its booming popularity. Modern ships with hotel-like accommodations (including cabins with balconies and suites), and the fact that the age of river cruisers has come down (from very senior to Baby Boomer) are also contributing factors.
Look for river cruising to continue as a hot trend.