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notamermaid

The ever increasing popularity of river cruising

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Here is a cruise critic article on the popularity of river cruising among UK travellers:

 

http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=6885

 

A recent study published by IG River Cruise shows that in 2015, for the first time, North-American travellers outnumbered German travellers on European river cruises.

 

The German news agency dpa issued an article.

 

But more on that later.

 

notamermaid

Edited by notamermaid

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Here is part one of a translation (in short) of the dpa news article. I have taken the article from a Southern German newspaper, so the wording might not be identical to the original publication.

 

US-Americans like cruising the rivers of Europe

 

In 2015 more US-Americans than Germans took a river cruise in Europe. This is a river cruising industry first. The past year saw a plus in passenger numbers of North Americans of 42.9 percent, whereas there was an increase of only 0.5 percent of German passengers.

 

The figure of of German travellers on river cruises worldwide has risen by 1.9 percent to 424,000 passengers.

 

My comment on the figure for US-American travellers: all those new ships, especially, some certain longships, have helped... But, of course, they do not account for the whole figure statistically, as German companies and a French company (CroisiEurope) have also introduced new ships on the rivers of Europe. And the Dutch might have added one or two as well, I have not looked into that.

 

There is some truth in the comment "the rivers are getting more crowded". Yet, there is still room for more ships and tourists in towns. After all, one more ship means a maximum of 200 more people. Quite insignificant to the numer of day trippers and holiday makers in a town like Strasbourg.

 

notamermaid

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Here is part one of a translation (in short) of the dpa news article. I have taken the article from a Southern German newspaper, so the wording might not be identical to the original publication.

 

US-Americans like cruising the rivers of Europe

 

In 2015 more US-Americans than Germans took a river cruise in Europe. This is a river cruising industry first. The past year saw a plus in passenger numbers of North Americans of 42.9 percent, whereas there was an increase of only 0.5 percent of German passengers.

 

The figure of of German travellers on river cruises worldwide has risen by 1.9 percent to 424,000 passengers.

 

My comment on the figure for US-American travellers: all those new ships, especially, some certain longships, have helped... But, of course, they do not account for the whole figure statistically, as German companies and a French company (CroisiEurope) have also introduced new ships on the rivers of Europe. And the Dutch might have added one or two as well, I have not looked into that.

 

There is some truth in the comment "the rivers are getting more crowded". Yet, there is still room for more ships and tourists in towns. After all, one more ship means a maximum of 200 more people. Quite insignificant to the numer of day trippers and holiday makers in a town like Strasbourg.

 

notamermaid

 

That's quite an increase in one year! It will be interesting to see if fears around terrorist attacks have an effect on passenger numbers in the next year or two. Many of the posters on this board are experienced European travelers and from what I've read most will continue to travel, but I'm sure there are others who will postpone travel to Europe for awhile. I've received a lot of emails from cruise companies offering sale prices in the past few weeks...

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KathyK13,

 

that is interesting about the emails. Quite likely it has something to do with the latest happenings in Europe. Actually the report stated that prices for river cruises in the original 2016 brochures had gone up a little compared to 2015.

 

But again, the European and the North-American markets differ.

 

notamermaid

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Here is part one of a translation (in short) of the dpa news article. I have taken the article from a Southern German newspaper, so the wording might not be identical to the original publication.

 

US-Americans like cruising the rivers of Europe

 

In 2015 more US-Americans than Germans took a river cruise in Europe. This is a river cruising industry first. The past year saw a plus in passenger numbers of North Americans of 42.9 percent, whereas there was an increase of only 0.5 percent of German passengers.

 

The figure of of German travellers on river cruises worldwide has risen by 1.9 percent to 424,000 passengers.

 

My comment on the figure for US-American travellers: all those new ships, especially, some certain longships, have helped... But, of course, they do not account for the whole figure statistically, as German companies and a French company (CroisiEurope) have also introduced new ships on the rivers of Europe. And the Dutch might have added one or two as well, I have not looked into that.

 

There is some truth in the comment "the rivers are getting more crowded". Yet, there is still room for more ships and tourists in towns. After all, one more ship means a maximum of 200 more people. Quite insignificant to the numer of day trippers and holiday makers in a town like Strasbourg.

 

notamermaid

 

The issue is not the number of people visiting towns from river cruise ships, but more of the number of prime anchorages close to those towns. As the traffic increase you get more rafting on prime anchorages and more ships docking farther away from the towns themselves.

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Hello RDC1,

 

good of you to point that out. The thing with this is that some ports are more prone to these problems than others. Staggering the cruises, i.e. staying four hours and leaving, the next boat comes for - say - six hours can be managed by the harbour master. Bigger problems arise where ships always want to dock at a specific time and / or where they stay overnight, especially the embarkation ports. Of recent concern here have become Amsterdam and Paris. The fact that boats have become larger certainly does not help. 90m used to be a common size, those boats are still around (some of them), 110m used to be the maximum for many years. Viking is supposed to have started this trend according to a report in "Kreuzfahrten-Pool". One needs so much space to manouvre, just like in and out of a parking lot. Another issue there: you cannot just change the embankment to your liking to make anchorage for a 135m boat save. Water level issues aside, these measures are very much regulated and overseen by the regional water boards as they change water flow and environmental impacts need to be considered. Financial concerns are another matter.

 

In Koblenz, for example, the locals where not happy with the noise at night, as boats use their engine at night to keep the electricity generators going. Makeshift electricity boxes and plugs where put in place so that boats would turn off their engines at night and get the electricity from the embankment supply.

 

notamermaid

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We lived in Germany for four years and visited most of the sites and cities that are included on the Rhine and Danube cruises. The cruises dominate the European cruise market.

 

I can understand why Germans are not as interested in such cruises, since most have likely been there and seen what is on the cruises. There are river cruises in the USA, but none have our interest, since we have largely already been there.

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Not to mention that US river cruises are EXPENSIVE :eek: !

 

Roz

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Hello RDC1,

 

good of you to point that out. The thing with this is that some ports are more prone to these problems than others. Staggering the cruises, i.e. staying four hours and leaving, the next boat comes for - say - six hours can be managed by the harbour master. Bigger problems arise where ships always want to dock at a specific time and / or where they stay overnight, especially the embarkation ports. Of recent concern here have become Amsterdam and Paris. The fact that boats have become larger certainly does not help. 90m used to be a common size, those boats are still around (some of them), 110m used to be the maximum for many years. Viking is supposed to have started this trend according to a report in "Kreuzfahrten-Pool". One needs so much space to manouvre, just like in and out of a parking lot. Another issue there: you cannot just change the embankment to your liking to make anchorage for a 135m boat save. Water level issues aside, these measures are very much regulated and overseen by the regional water boards as they change water flow and environmental impacts need to be considered. Financial concerns are another matter.

 

In Koblenz, for example, the locals where not happy with the noise at night, as boats use their engine at night to keep the electricity generators going. Makeshift electricity boxes and plugs where put in place so that boats would turn off their engines at night and get the electricity from the embankment supply.

 

notamermaid

 

Yes, if the growth is going to continue then there is going to have to be both more investment in docking infrastructure, as well as more control on what the lines can or cannot do.

 

As with the size of larger ocean cruise ships, larger river boats are more profitable then the smaller ones are. So the trend is going to be to go larger, like Viking has done.

Edited by RDC1

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It would be interesting to see a breakdown, in the overall numbers, between straight river cruising and land/river tours. For example, our Douro River cruise had us in Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, Coimbra, and Lisbon for far more days than we were actually on the river. The actual river portion of my upcoming China "river cruise" is about a third of the time. My Egypt river cruise next winter also has a huge land component. Just wonder what the overall statistics are?

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Hello pinotlover,

 

interesting thought. All I can say is that in Europe, as obviously there is not such a great feeling of making a long flight worthwhile by adding days onto the river cruising experience - although I am sure that is not the only reason for extra days away from home - people do not really book pre- or post- cruise days. But there might be extra days on river cruise experience where no sailing is involved. River cruises booked in Europe are there very often shorter than the North-American version.

 

To put this into perspective: I live only a 90 minute train journey away from the next major embarkation port.

 

A difference is the Rhone for example. Here CroisiEurope offers a coach journey to get to the embarkation port which necessitates an overnight stay along the way. Also from the UK, again due to the distance from the embarkation port, overnight stays are available, depending on company and where you live in the UK. Of course, flight options are also available, again, depending on where you are headed and where you live. When you do that there is normally no overnight stay necessary. Unless you live somwhere quite remote...

 

Overall statistics might be found in tourism business magazines or the like, I am sure the companies keep records of what is popular and what is not and what they need to do to give their customers a great experience.

 

notamermaid

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How are European cruise companies profiting from the increasing popularity of river cruising?

 

UK-based Riviera Travel - a tour operator for land travel and river cruises - operates 18 ships now and will add another four in 2017: the MS Emily Bronte, the MS Oscar Wilde, the MS Douro Elegance and the MS Douro Serenity. They operate the ships, some are only used by them for part of a season and also used by other companies - on different sailings.

 

According to a recent article in a German tourism industry magazine CroisiEurope now has 44 ships, adding more in 2017. In 2015 passengers - for the first time - amounted to more than 200.000. Of those around 23.000 where from Germany. CroisiEurope is based in France and therefore attracts many travellers from France especially with their small boats - the peniches - on the canals of France. I would like to see the company's statistics on how they are doing on the North American market now.

 

Likewise, I wonder how many North American travellers are on the Arosa boats this year.

 

notamermaid

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How are European cruise companies profiting from the increasing popularity of river cruising?

 

notamermaid

 

Hi Notamermaid,

 

I have taken a lot of ocean cruises (mass market lines), but have never done a river cruise. I am reading up on the industry now and see your posts on quite a number of threads here on CC.

 

I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge. As a newbie in this area, I very much appreciate learning from you and others.

 

Brian

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Thank you, Brian.

 

So much info on CC and I learn about exciting places to go to, as well. :)

 

If you consider taking a river cruise yourself and have not read it yet I highly recommend the excellent introduction to river cruising of our host jazzbeau, the sticky called "New to RIVER CRUISING??? START HERE!!!"

 

notamermaid

Edited by notamermaid

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Thank you, Brian.

 

So much info on CC and I learn about exciting places to go to, as well. :)

 

If you consider taking a river cruise yourself and have not read it yet I highly recommend the excellent introduction to river cruising of our host jazzbeau, the sticky called "New to RIVER CRUISING??? START HERE!!!"

 

notamermaid

 

Yes, thank you Notamermaid. I spent a good part of yesterday reading about river cruising. But the more I read, the more skeptical I became of doing a river cruise (lol).

 

I am very interested in the cities/countries visited and would love the views from the river. But I guess I am spoiled by the amenities offered on the large ocean ships. My wife and I very much enjoy having multiple music, eating, and lounge venues. The flexibility is great. And an adequate onboard gym facility is important to me. We are active seniors and may not yet be ready for the seemingly slower pace of river cruising.

 

I still have much more research (and soul searching) to perform so do appreciate all of the valuable insight shared by our CC members.

 

Cheers!

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Rcclfanbp,

 

I've only done one river cruise, but I can tell you the days we spent in port cities were so busy that there was no time for multiple ship venues even if they existed. There's very little "down time" on a river cruise as opposed to an ocean cruise. My cruise was anything but slow paced, and I chose the more active excursions and tours when they were offered.

 

Roz

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Rcclfanbp,

 

I've only done one river cruise, but I can tell you the days we spent in port cities were so busy that there was no time for multiple ship venues even if they existed. There's very little "down time" on a river cruise as opposed to an ocean cruise. My cruise was anything but slow paced, and I chose the more active excursions and tours when they were offered.

 

Roz

 

Thank you Roz. That is good to know. The cities/countries the river vessels visit are so desirable to us that I am hoping to eventually conclude it is worth a try. We are an adventuresome couple so do enjoy exploring new things. Cheers!

 

Brian

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Yes, thank you Notamermaid. I spent a good part of yesterday reading about river cruising. But the more I read, the more skeptical I became of doing a river cruise (lol).

 

I am very interested in the cities/countries visited and would love the views from the river. But I guess I am spoiled by the amenities offered on the large ocean ships. My wife and I very much enjoy having multiple music, eating, and lounge venues. The flexibility is great. And an adequate onboard gym facility is important to me. We are active seniors and may not yet be ready for the seemingly slower pace of river cruising.

 

I still have much more research (and soul searching) to perform so do appreciate all of the valuable insight shared by our CC members.

 

Cheers!

 

You really can't compare river cruising to ocean cruising, and until you have tried a river cruise the comparison probably makes river cruising seem weak [but read on]. There are a few river ships that offer one or two extra dining choices [usually a chef's table and a casual option] but the daily itinerary is based around the Cruise Director's presentation before dinner and then everyone trooping down to the dining room together. The galley is tiny, and it is much easier to produce quality meals if they can concentrate on just appetizers, then just mains. But the resulting food can be very good indeed, with enough choice to allow most people to find something they like [and "everyday" choices that are simpler]. As to entertainment, as noted above you will be so tired out from the active daytime tours that the low-key entertainment in the lounge will be more satisfying than you expect [especially when it is local performers giving you some "local culture"] Some river ships have a gym [not Viking, per the explicit statements of their President] and a pool -- Emerald even has the pool indoors. Plus many cruise lines are now carrying a fleet of bicycles which are offered both for bike-based tours and for free use. This all may sound like small potatoes compared to what you are used to on ocean ships, but it is balanced by the unique benefits of river cruising: constant scenic views on both sides, docking right in town in most places, included small-group walking tours [that are much better than ocean ships' cattle cars], free time in many towns [because you are docked so close in], and the camaraderie with new friends on a ship that only holds ~150 passengers. We continue to like both [along with fly-drives], because we appreciate the unique pleasures of each.

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You really can't compare river cruising to ocean cruising, and until you have tried a river cruise the comparison probably makes river cruising seem weak [but read on]. There are a few river ships that offer one or two extra dining choices [usually a chef's table and a casual option] but the daily itinerary is based around the Cruise Director's presentation before dinner and then everyone trooping down to the dining room together. The galley is tiny, and it is much easier to produce quality meals if they can concentrate on just appetizers, then just mains. But the resulting food can be very good indeed, with enough choice to allow most people to find something they like [and "everyday" choices that are simpler]. As to entertainment, as noted above you will be so tired out from the active daytime tours that the low-key entertainment in the lounge will be more satisfying than you expect [especially when it is local performers giving you some "local culture"] Some river ships have a gym [not Viking, per the explicit statements of their President] and a pool -- Emerald even has the pool indoors. Plus many cruise lines are now carrying a fleet of bicycles which are offered both for bike-based tours and for free use. This all may sound like small potatoes compared to what you are used to on ocean ships, but it is balanced by the unique benefits of river cruising: constant scenic views on both sides, docking right in town in most places, included small-group walking tours [that are much better than ocean ships' cattle cars], free time in many towns [because you are docked so close in], and the camaraderie with new friends on a ship that only holds ~150 passengers. We continue to like both [along with fly-drives], because we appreciate the unique pleasures of each.

 

Thank you Host Jazzbeau for sharing your insight. Yes, I certainly see the appeal of river cruising. And I am beginning to see the real distinctions among

the river cruise lines. I must honestly say, the more I read about Viking, the less interested I become in sailing with them. I hope this does not offend anyone, just a personal preference.

 

Brian

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Hello rcclfanbp,

 

excellent insight from our well-travelled host Jazzbeau!

 

What he describes is exactly what appealed to me on my first river cruise. We met a few locals, got to see new towns and in the evening we could reflect on what we had seen during the day over a cocktail in the bar with some light music. From the herds on ferries to the UK I can honestly say that ocean cruising is not something I want to try very soon. I do not need a pool, but more importantly I do not feel comfortable with idea of not seeing land for 24 hours. Unless someone gives me a suite for free on the QEII.

 

I think companies are getting better at reaching their customers and compiling themed itineraries that appeal to different people and offering amenities, like bicycles onboard. One company even offers a "traditional coffe and cake afternoon with a German family". I do not recall the name of the river cruise company. Amawaterways (here: APT for Australia and New Zealand) has a unique itinerary with a royalty theme offering an exclusive dinner in a castle on the Rhine.

 

Many options and companies to choose from. A personal preference is a good thing to have in my opinion. And to make it an informed preference is what CC is great for.

 

Enjoy reading and perhaps one day soon we will see your post that you have booked a river cruise... :)

 

notamermaid

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Hello rcclfanbp,

 

excellent insight from our well-travelled host Jazzbeau!

 

What he describes is exactly what appealed to me on my first river cruise. We met a few locals, got to see new towns and in the evening we could reflect on what we had seen during the day over a cocktail in the bar with some light music.

 

I think companies are getting better at reaching their customers and compiling themed itineraries that appeal to different people and offering amenities, like bicycles onboard.

 

Many options and companies to choose from. A personal preference is a good thing to have in my opinion. And to make it an informed preference is what CC is great for.

 

Enjoy reading and perhaps one day soon we will see your post that you have booked a river cruise... :)

 

notamermaid

 

Thank you Notamermaid. Everyone here on CC has been so helpful. I'll be sure to post when I have booked my 1st river cruise. You folks have gotten me excited about the idea! :)

 

Brian

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Another ship has just been christened:

 

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/tauck-names-godmothers-for-new-ms-joy-river-cruise-ship.html

 

The ceremony took place in Vienna yesterday. I have not been able to find a news report but I am sure cruisecritic will have some news soon.

 

Is this the last one for this year? It appears to be in Europe. There is another christening of a river cruise to come, the Scenic Aura will sail the Irrawaddy from September.

 

However, the Danube will see the inaugural cruise of the first Crystal river cruise ship. The completely refurbished Mozart will sail the river as the Crystal Mozart from July.

 

notamermaid

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Cruisecritic has a report on the christening of the Crystal Mozart:

 

http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=7124

 

Crystal, although launching their first river cruise ship, are well-known for their ocean cruises and I guess will have a had start on the market compared to a line that does not have such a background. To some ocean cruisers trying out the river cruise product of a familiar company will come easy to them, I am sure.

 

Crystal will add itself and its ships to a competitive market, but clearly they see the potential in getting even more passengers to experience the rivers of Europe on a luxury river cruise.

 

2017 will see the launch of their four new ships, but Viking is planning two more launches as well. Emerald will add three ships to river traffic, five more come from Uniworld, Phoenix Reisen and CroisiEurope. There are more in the pipeline that will be chartered by Riviera Travel UK, as well. CroisiEurope is building a new ship for the Mekong and American cruise lines for the Mississippi.

 

Phew, out of breath, almost. ;) Have I missed any?

 

And that is only 2017, I have not listed the already planned ones for 2018 and 2019!

 

notamermaid

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So this is a good thing!

 

1.What commercial traffic are the affected countries eliminating to give better passage for the tour boats? Example - on my last Viking tour, we pulled out of Tain heading downriver, we hadn't gone a half mile until we returned to the dock and picked a very stupid woman that had gotten off the boat(long story). The time lapse for that maneuver was about 30 minutes. Result: the boat missed it appointment time at getting to the next locks. Next slot they could get through said locks was over two hours later. We sat dead in the water and waited, watching other ships lock through. Result: we missed our next scheduled tour because the ship came in to late. Those locks are mostly ,except the Douro, running 24/7 now. Where is this excess capacity to facilitate numerous new ships that take up the entire lock system?

 

2. Which cities are building new docking areas for the new cruise lines? Will the new ships now dock in the middle of industrial areas a long way from City Centers, or are we going to see boats rafted up 4 deep at the existing docks?

Should the river boat cruise lines be required to tell its passengers if they will be rafted at certain docks. Will those boats that have an inside docking and/or an outside docking space be able to charge more for the open side of the boat?

 

3. Some of the current docking areas are now zoos when all the tour buses show up. So who thinks its a good thing to add 5-15 more tour buses to the current zoo when scheduling mandates? Additionally, the thought of having all the extra loaded tour buses crowding in to sights just thrills me! :eek: All the overriding frequencies on the whisperers going in and out!

 

Guess I'm glad most all of my river boat bucket lists are finished, with just a couple left in smaller markets! I wish the rest of you 15 or 20 more wonderful new ships, especially more Viking long boats with 190+ paxs, to add to the current fleets as your fellow cruisers! Actually, I see nothing positive in any of this!

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Hello pinotlover,

 

 

Guess I'm glad most all of my river boat bucket lists are finished, with just a couple left in smaller markets! I wish the rest of you 15 or 20 more wonderful new ships, especially more Viking long boats with 190+ paxs, to add to the current fleets as your fellow cruisers! Actually, I see nothing positive in any of this!

 

I intended my post as a neutral - factual - account of the river cruising market. Notice I did not put any smilies anywhere. For myself, I can say that I am sceptical of this trend towards even more boats and often of the longer type. As you know I live close to the river and know from business acquaintances and the local newspapers that some ports and docking areas are reaching "saturation point". Amsterdam being the best meaning worst example here.

 

And yes, trade comes before tourism, so barges have priority over river cruise ships at the locks. It has to be. River cruising creates a tiny portion of the revenue that commercial transport creates on the Rhine. Other rivers might not have that problem so much, and the ratio is more in favour of tourism.

 

Viking now has 49 vessels registered in Switzerland, I am not sure if they still have any of the old fleet that was registered in Germany. Not all of those sail in Europe, but so many other companies are also sailing. I will come back to that at a later date.

 

Will the bubble burst, some time soon? There are a limited number of rivers in Europe that can take financially successful river cruise ships. I do wonder if there is any section now that has not been conquered by one company or the other yet.

 

notamermaid

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