This time of the year for many people signals the start to search what’s new and available in the travel market as they begin to plan vacations. Many of our clients have been meeting with us already and are deep into or finished with the planning stage.
We know what is trending for the current year and beyond. Our travel advisors see new travel venues and cherished favorites that continue to please. One of these, river cruising, fits both.
While river cruising has been popular for years, it has now remarkably expanded in a couple of ways. As the strongest growth segment of the cruise market, new boats are being launched every year.
We like river cruises for travelers that are looking to immerse themselves more fully into destinations and prefer an all-inclusive, one-fare vacation that includes all shore excursions. Vacationers are pleasantly surprised to find fresh local food specialties, cabins and suites redesigned with more living space, larger bathrooms, panoramic cabin windows, and French balconies on some. Public areas now include upgraded lounges with panoramic views, exercise facilities, Wi-Fi coffee bars, and more.
River vessels won’t replace ocean cruising, but they have added variety to the whole cruise experience in several ways. For those looking for a change from larger ocean vessels (most river boats are less than 150 passengers), and who enjoy touring multiple ports and the no-hassle unpack once sailing experience, this is ideal. I love the small ship experience. My personal favorite activity is just wandering off the boat to tour, shop or dine leisurely in a quaint European city on my own schedule. Boats are usually docked just a few steps from the port city center.
A new program has been developed by Celebrity Cruises that combines European river cruising with an ocean cruise. As part of the package, a pre-cruise hotel stay is often included. These packages offer 16- to 24-night itineraries. Wayfarer Travel sees this as an attractive combination and a strong alternative to planning an a la carte itinerary. There are a great number of picturesque and interesting ports along the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, and Seine rivers. Travelers may not have the opportunity to visit these inland ports on an ocean cruise. River cruising itineraries have also expanded to Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, China, Russia, and Africa.
For a cruise vacation that’s closer to home, and along the same theme, we are excited to share that there are now quality overnight sailings on the Great Lakes. On a new five star, 210-passenger ship this convenient itinerary sails from Chicago to ports in all five Great Lakes and disembarks in Montreal. It is a remarkable all-inclusive value with fine dining, sightseeing and drinks included, and, excuse the expression, “a boatload of amenities.”