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The ever increasing popularity of river cruising


notamermaid
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I would love to see more places added to the North American market especially. After all, that appears to be where the biggest growth is. It could help to get people to do repeat trips along the Rhine, for example. The river being so long there certainly is potential. One newspaper article from New Zealand or Australia I read a few days ago surprisingly stated the small town of Andernach is a must-see on a river cruise. I figured out that the author must have been on an APT river cruise, well, that is my assumption, and was intrigued by the amazing geyser that few people outside of Germany know about. APT so far, from what I have read, is the only company outside of Europe stopping there as there is an agreement between the company and the owner of nearby Namedy castle. Yet, in Andernach they get a lot of tourists from river cruise itineraries from the UK and Dutch ships (that some UK operators charter).

 

Avalon has branched out to Engers; if only for an overnight stop, I wished they would include a concert in the palace, it is a beautiful venue, I have been there.

 

Others now include Duisburg and Viking will have its own landing stage there.

 

But there are more places that, if people where willing, could easily be included with a coach ride of 30 minutes, like Xanthen and Krefeld.

 

There are other places that could be of interest.

 

I was happy to read that Avalon now includes Thionville/Metz on one of their itineraries, so there is also "room to grow" on the Moselle. I could even imagine a pre-cruise stay in Nancy (on the Meurthe) and then start the cruise in Metz.

 

I am sure this also applies to other rivers to some extent.

 

It is up to local authorities to provide the infrastructure, the river cruise companies to be willing to include new places and then passengers to take the plunge and book those itineraries that do not all include tried and tested capitals and tourist attractions.

 

Logistics can be a problem, of course, you need to get to an international airport. It makes perfect sense to start a river cruise in Paris and Amsterdam. A major factor in planning a new itinerary for a river cruise company outside of Europe. UK river cruise operators have no hesitation in starting a river cruise in Cologne, for example. An airport that is regularly served by flights from London.

 

Smaller river cruise ships start from Frankfurt for example, also close to an international airport, but Arosa has stopped using Frankfurt as an embarkation port for logistical reasons.

 

CroisiEurope always starts from Strassbourg when offering a Rhine cruise downstream, that is where they are based. They never go to Basel.

 

European river cruise itineraries vary much more than North-American ones. That is fine, tried and tested, who would not want to see the Eiffeltower or Neuschwanstein castle? I have seen both as well and enjoyed them.

 

But I like seeing smaller places, too and am the sort of person who can delight in shopping at a small village shop in Italy or walk over a tiny bridge in the English marshland.

 

One does not need go to such extremes but, in my opinion, those moments have their merits on holiday, as well.

 

notamermaid

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totally agree with the charm of smaller places in Europe along the rivers.

 

even the opportunity to spend longer in a town and eat off the ship would be a delight. I suppose that 1 reason many of us like to combine land content when cruising to enjoy time in places we want experience.

 

there are challenges of movement of course around locks/bridges/water issues, but no doubt more variety will happen with time.

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We all know the basics of supply and demand. And marketing plays a major role in this. Marketing on a very grand scale for cruises was apparently launched last year in the US. It is called "Plan a cruise month". In years before that it was only a week long.

 

In the UK this year there are also some river cruise companies taking part in this with different bargains. This is how the cruisecritic editor in the UK reported about it: http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=7262

 

A good thing? Certainly for the deals. As for the rivers and crowded towns, hmm, we have discussed this.

 

A little note on ocean cruises here. The people of Venice have launched a campain and have been attacking ocean liners. Video about this: http://www.usatoday.com/videos/travel/cruises/2016/09/27/91162836/

 

Fortunately, river cruisers are still very much welcome in cities. Well, apart from Koblenz locals complaining about the engine noise at night. That problem was solved with better electricity supply for the vessels on the Moselle by the town council.

 

Even Erlangen, I read today, is trying to improve the facilities in its harbour seeing that there has been an increase in dockings recently.

 

notamermaid

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We've really enjoyed our 8 river cruises, all in Europe. We leave soon for our 9th. We prefer the smaller boats and some of our best have been older. The itinerary and staff have made the difference on all of our best cruises.

 

We wish there was more variety in itineraries. We would love more 10-15 night cruises with time to explore. Why not offer a short and a longer version? We've done repeats of 3 of our itineraries and will do a 4th next year. Including (no extra charge) some special meals off the boat often with entertainment really enhances the experience and staves off boredom.

 

It's a long way to travel for a 6-7 night trip and cruiseline pre and post stays are very expensive and offer little in the way of extra activities. They are often a bed for 2 nights, breakfast and one Greyline-type bus tour for an inflated price. We always go early, stay after and often do a bus or train trip on our own for much less money and more included. We'd love to be offered better value and service - include some sights/experiences and meals.

 

We've loved it but it's getting harder to find new and interesting without variety.

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  • 1 month later...

You do not hear that much about the company so the fact that they have a new-built and are as a company obviously confident in the market despite a slight decline due to a few unsettling events in Europe has somewhat quietly made into the news, belated. Here is the respective article from Travel Weekly: http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cruising/Gate-1-quietly-enters-river-cruise-fray?ct=river

 

notamermaid

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River cruise lines are getting more and more inventive to stand out from their competitors, with special enhancements and themes on food, drink, LGBT and foreign language. Here is an article on the new itineraries in 2017 of several cruise lines: http://www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/savory-sailings

 

I can still see no industrial heritage /technical devices themed cruise for 2017. But then I am probably one of very few people who like looking at fly wheels and old metal on holiday. ;)

 

In another article travelagentcentral reports that statistics show for 2017 an increase in river cruise capacity of CLIA members by seven percent.

 

notamermaid

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Mentioned in the article above, but a bit more in-depth, more about Arosa now cruising the Seine: http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/64612/a-rosa-announces-seine-river-cruises Arosa are certainly confident about introducing their Seine cruises to the British market. For Germany I certainly would be confident, as there are not that many other German based companies doing the Seine. But CroisiEurope is also doing that market, i.e. is competition. In Britain and its potential customers Arosa will compete against Riviera Travel who offer the Seine.

 

Riviera Travel also have big plans for this year. As they are not mentioned in the article linked in my last post, here is some more info. This year they will have official launches (with celebratory do and official godmother) for their new vessels for the first time. On the Rhine (and other rivers) they will operate three new ships: the MS Emily Bronte, the MS Oscar Wilde and the MS Thomas Hardy. On the Douro they will operate the new MS Douro Elegance and the new MS Serenity.

 

As we know there are more launches in 2017 by other companies and new-builts announced for 2018.

 

More and more ships on the rivers of Europe, even sailing the lovely, more tranquil Moselle. Large towns like Trier can take this but the small Remich as an embarkation port for more cruise ships? Bernkastel-Kues with even more visitors? I hope it will not turn into a "Rüdesheim-on-the-Moselle". It would be a pity.

 

But in general I am happy for the towns and the many cruisers that there are now so many options as regards time of year, itinerary and price out there.

 

notamermaid

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I have mentioned the problems towns face with the trend towards larger ships. The 135m vessels are a relatively recent phenomenon and old landing stages are often not safe (or even equipped) for those ships; the "parking lots" can just be too small. So Duisburg in Northrhine-Westfalia (Germany) invested 500,000 euros in a new landing stage with new infrastructure around it and updated embankment. Signs in German and English informing the passengers about the town were to follow. This is the article from July 2016 with a photo of the new pontoon: http://www.derwesten.de/staedte/duisburg/neuer-anleger-fuer-flusskreuzfahrtschiffe-empfaengt-touristen-in-duisburg-id11994189.html

 

A spokesperson for Duisburg harbour said: "with this new landing stage Duisport (the harbour) will become the gateway for all international tourists that want to get to know Duisburg and the industrial heritage route more closely."

 

Last season there were already 200 bookings - that figure could incorporate ships from German companies, French, British and Dutch (charter), no specific companies are mentioned. A 24-hour booking costs 460 euros.

 

Viking was planning on using Duisburg as a port. But I could not find Duisburg on the Viking website. Have any of you cruisers stopped in Duisburg?

 

notamermaid

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So Duisburg in Northrhine-Westfalia (Germany) invested 500,000 euros in a new landing stage with new infrastructure around it and updated embankment.

notamermaid

 

This is an interesting development. I wonder if Cologne is at capacity for river ships. From what I've heard and seen on marinetraffic.com, Viking tends to dock north of the city. Our Avalon cruise last year (Remich to Amsterdam), skipped Cologne and stopped in Dusseldorf. That was on a 110 meter ship.

 

I'll be interested to see what the cruise lines provide for their passengers to do in Duisburg. I did a little looking, and I didn't see a lot. I did notice that there are museums nearby that seem to be appropriate for the "Ruhrgebiet"--like a interesting mining museum in Essen.

 

I hope that the investment pays off and that passengers will find interesting things to see and do in the area.

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FuelScience,

 

the museum in Essen - Zeche Zollverein - is one of the points of interest and has been mentioned by Duisburg spokespeople as a destination for river cruisers. Industrial heritage will be the focus at Duisburg, well, it is the "Ruhrgebiet" after all, the old German centre for iron and steel. This is the website (pdf file) that gives a good overview of the sights: http://www.route-industriekultur.ruhr/fileadmin/user_upload/metropoleruhr.de/Channel_Route_Industriekultur/Downloads/RouteAllgemein/routenkarte-engl.pdf

 

Duisburg has a museum for river traffic. It is on my bucket list.

 

notamermaid

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Hi rcclfanbp, I read your post with interest and would like to add my two cents worth. We sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam in 2015 with Scenic. There were under 200 passengers on board and yes, it is a fairly intimate experience onboard compared with ocean ships. However, please don't think river cruising is a 'slower pace'. As there is a new port each day, we chose to take a tour every day rather than remaining in the ship. The itineraries are exceptionally well organised and the places we visited were stunning, and we were kept very busy. We walked approx 5-8 km most days, took copious photos, had exceptional food, slept the sleep of the exhausted each night and absolutely felt the need to pinch ourselves every day. We could have stayed on the ship if we wished, but we took the cruise to see these countries (5 in all) and loved being kept so busy. My husband and I even lost a couple of kilos! To be honest, I would far prefer disembarking and visiting a new city each day, than being at sea on a massive ship, but that's a personal choice. We loved our trip so much we are booked on the Douro with Scenic in April this year. We also love Scenic because everything is included; all food, drinks, gratuities, excursions, toiletries, etc. We only open our wallets to purchase gifts etc. I hope one day you try river cruising and enjoy it as much as we have.

 

 

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Hi rcclfanbp, I read your post with interest and would like to add my two cents worth. We sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam in 2015 with Scenic. There were under 200 passengers on board and yes, it is a fairly intimate experience onboard compared with ocean ships. However, please don't think river cruising is a 'slower pace'. As there is a new port each day, we chose to take a tour every day rather than remaining in the ship. The itineraries are exceptionally well organised and the places we visited were stunning, and we were kept very busy. We walked approx 5-8 km most days, took copious photos, had exceptional food, slept the sleep of the exhausted each night and absolutely felt the need to pinch ourselves every day. We could have stayed on the ship if we wished, but we took the cruise to see these countries (5 in all) and loved being kept so busy. My husband and I even lost a couple of kilos! To be honest, I would far prefer disembarking and visiting a new city each day, than being at sea on a massive ship, but that's a personal choice. We loved our trip so much we are booked on the Douro with Scenic in April this year. We also love Scenic because everything is included; all food, drinks, gratuities, excursions, toiletries, etc. We only open our wallets to purchase gifts etc. I hope one day you try river cruising and enjoy it as much as we have.

 

 

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Thank you very much for your input OhJoyOhBliss. I had to go back and read what I originally posted since it has been a while. (lol)

 

My wife and I are still considering a river cruise although we have not yet made a booking. In our cruise travels, we invariably meet folks who have taken at least one river cruise. Everyone that we have talked to seems to have really enjoyed their experience. I mentioned my interest in river cruising on a current CC Roll Call (Celebrity Infinity March 5th South America cruise) and that prompted a lot of comments from others with the same interest. As result, a group of us (newbies and experienced river cruisers) plan to meet during our cruise to discuss. Talk about "The ever increasing popularity of river cruising". (lol)

 

I am glad you enjoyed your experience with Scenic. Our next "exotic" cruise after South America is Japan in April 2018. I think we will be ready for our 1st river cruise after that and will research Scenic as well as others. Thanks again!

 

Cheers!

Brian

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Here is an article from October 2016 on Viking wanting to explore the Chinese market and providing European river cruises to the Chinese: http://www.seatrade-cruise.com/news/news-headlines/viking-dedicates-2-europe-river-ships-to-chinese-cruisers.html?highlight=WyJyaGluZSIsInJoaW5lJyIsInJoaW5lJ3MiLCIncmhpbmUiXQ==

 

I hope this link works, the address looks very long. Interesting to read some statistics about Viking's fleet and customers. With the new-builts for 2017 the number of all Viking river cruise ships will increase to 61!

 

notamermaid

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In December 2016 on the AMAPrima we were docked next to the 'Rhine' ship with Mandarin signage at the St John's dock in Basel. It was parked there and we had to crawl over and then through it. Interesting to see it. The staff did a lot of smiling and bowing as we staggered through. This was especially hard on those leaving and boarding the ship with luggage.

Another pain for travelers on the crowded rivers. :(

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In December 2016 on the AMAPrima we were docked next to the 'Rhine' ship with Mandarin signage at the St John's dock in Basel. It was parked there and we had to crawl over and then through it. Interesting to see it. The staff did a lot of smiling and bowing as we staggered through. This was especially hard on those leaving and boarding the ship with luggage.

Another pain for travelers on the crowded rivers. :(

 

 

What do you mean, you had to crawl over and then through it?

Was it configured any differently from other river cruise ships?

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It was a longship. The over and through is the same old rafting issue from over crowed rivers. It was a real obstacle for travelers since this was a disembarkation and embarkation port. I felt sorry for the crew who had to drag baggage over the Viking ship. There were physically challenged passengers who had a very hard time disembarking with hand baggage. More victims of 'popularity'.

 

The entry lobby was configured differently from the other longships I've sailed on, larger with little furniture and signage in Mandarin. Obviously we did not access other parts of the ship.

 

The 'Rhine' refers to the location and route of the ship, not the name. I used 'Rhine' because the posted article referred to a ship on the Rhine and a ship on the Danube and I encountered it on the Rhine. I do not recall the name, but it was Viking. If I remember correctly, the name of the ship was in Mandarin and English.

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It was a longship. The over and through is the same old rafting issue from over crowed rivers. It was a real obstacle for travelers since this was a disembarkation and embarkation port. I felt sorry for the crew who had to drag baggage over the Viking ship. There were physically challenged passengers who had a very hard time disembarking with hand baggage. More victims of 'popularity'.

 

The entry lobby was configured differently from the other longships I've sailed on, larger with little furniture and signage in Mandarin. Obviously we did not access other parts of the ship.

 

The 'Rhine' refers to the location and route of the ship, not the name. I used 'Rhine' because the posted article referred to a ship on the Rhine and a ship on the Danube and I encountered it on the Rhine. I do not recall the name, but it was Viking. If I remember correctly, the name of the ship was in Mandarin and English.

 

Thank you for the additional information. That is certainly a nuisance. Out of courtesy the ship disembarking passengers should be closest to the dock but in a busy port where all ships more or less disembark at the same time I fear this is not possible. When I arrived at Passau train station to get to my ship, the Belvedere, the station was full of passengers from other ships as well. In Vienna we were docked third in line and while I had no problems with the different levels of the ship decks and several narrow staircases I certainly did not enjoy the experience.

 

notamermaid

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As many of you know I live close to the river, so it would normally not have been unusal for me to see a cruise ship, there are lots of them about these days...

 

But it is only February so when I do see one I am intrigued immediately wondering why it is on the river right now. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the MS Thomas Hardy sailing for Riviera Travel UK (from April 2017) having just come from her christening in Amsterdam! It was a double celebration as the Emily Bronte was with her in the Netherlands.

 

Both ships are owned and managed by Scylla AG in Switzerland and I guess the Thomas Hardy is on her way to the port in Basel awaiting the season.

 

As the Thomas Hardy is owned by Scylla and chartered to Riviera she can be used by other companies and actually sailed the Rhine for Plantours (a German company) during the holiday season (meaning November an December 2016). Before she was christened. Somehow this does not seem right to me, I prefer the traditional inauguration cruise with christening setup.

 

Anyway, two more ships for the rivers and not the last christenings we will read about this year.

 

Here is an article about the christening and Riviera Travel, highlighting the growth of and interest in river cruises on the British market (as we know the US still has the biggest growth, but Europeans are still also showing an increased interest):

 

https://www.ttgmedia.com/news/news/more-ships-on-the-horizon-for-riviera-9260

 

notamermaid

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Anyway, two more ships for the rivers and not the last christenings we will read about this year.

 

Here is an article about the christening and Riviera Travel, highlighting the growth of and interest in river cruises on the British market (as we know the US still has the biggest growth, but Europeans are still also showing an increased interest):

 

https://www.ttgmedia.com/news/news/more-ships-on-the-horizon-for-riviera-9260

 

notamermaid

 

Thanks for keeping us informed Notamermaid. I also found the article on the swimming pigs in the Bahamas interesting. I was not aware it was a tourist attraction.

 

It must be wonderful having views of the river from your home.

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Busy!

 

Just to give you an idea of how busy a harbour master can be in a relatively small place like Rüdesheim here is the list of dockings (as of 22 February) for the next two months. These are all ships that have overnight cabins. Day excursions boats are not listed: http://www.fremdenverkehrsgesellschaft.de/pdf/schiffsanlegungen_zwei_monate.pdf

 

To put this into perspective. Most tourists in Rüdesheim stroll through four to five streets, or go into the hills. There are no excursions to other towns nearby, I believe. So they all descend on the town itself. And how many people life there? ..... Just 9873 according to German wikipedia!

 

Koblenz with a similar amount of moorings has about 12 streets of interest in the old town and 112.586 people live there (including all the suburbs) according to German wikipedia. From Koblenz tourists do excursions, even if only a few.

 

notamermaid

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Busy!

 

Just to give you an idea of how busy a harbour master can be in a relatively small place like Rüdesheim here is the list of dockings (as of 22 February) for the next two months. These are all ships that have overnight cabins. Day excursions boats are not listed: http://www.fremdenverkehrsgesellschaft.de/pdf/schiffsanlegungen_zwei_monate.pdf

notamermaid

 

This is an interesting list. I have one question. Where are the Viking ships? There's not a single one on the list. Do they dock some place different that's out of the harbor master's jurisdiction?

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A horrifying thing to see, in small towns such as Rudesheim, is 25-30 tour buses lined up to carry the cruisers around the small town and surrounding countryside!

 

I remember back a few years ago, with one of the river cruise companies (unmentioned), they would pick us up in a big bus at the boat, carry us a quarter mile to let us all out. We would walk around a couple of blocks to then load back up on the buses to be driven another quarter of a mile! :rolleyes: The buses created their own traffic jams, in the small towns, and we could have walked the entire way easier and swifter than the bus rides. Sometimes the buses would have to drive over a half mile to deliver one that quarter of mile away! Of course asking, or expecting, many Americans to walk an extra 400 meters might create a backlash!

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Busy!

 

Just to give you an idea of how busy a harbour master can be in a relatively small place like Rüdesheim here is the list of dockings (as of 22 February) for the next two months. These are all ships that have overnight cabins. Day excursions boats are not listed: http://www.fremdenverkehrsgesellschaft.de/pdf/schiffsanlegungen_zwei_monate.pdf

 

To put this into perspective. Most tourists in Rüdesheim stroll through four to five streets, or go into the hills. There are no excursions to other towns nearby, I believe. So they all descend on the town itself. And how many people life there? ..... Just 9873 according to German wikipedia!

 

Koblenz with a similar amount of moorings has about 12 streets of interest in the old town and 112.586 people live there (including all the suburbs) according to German wikipedia. From Koblenz tourists do excursions, even if only a few.

 

notamermaid

 

 

As many as 11 ships in one day and not even in peak season. That is getting beyond crowded.

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