Consumer interest in river cruising is growing exponentially, according to a new travel survey by AAA. 14 percent of Americans have enjoyed a river cruise, the report says, but approximately four in 10 would consider river cruising for an upcoming vacation. Following this trend, AAA’s river cruise bookings have increased more than 16 percent in just the last year.
The findings come from a telephone survey of 1,012 adults living in the continental United States by a national research company contracted by AAA. Survey results are an accurate representation of the total continental U.S. population with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The survey was conducted June 23-26, 2016.
Despite the perception that river cruising appeals primarily to older generations, Millennials respond more strongly to several key attributes of river cruising than members of Generation X and Baby Boomers. The younger generation is less likely to have taken a river cruise vacation (11 percent), but they are more likely to consider one for an upcoming vacation (42 percent internationally; 45 percent domestically) than either Generation X or Baby Boomers.
“Millennials tend to place great value on experiential travel opportunities and are looking to river cruising as an increasingly viable option for their future vacations,” said Bryan Shilling, managing director of AAA Travel Products and Services.
Overall, one in four Americans say they are very likely or likely to take a river cruise vacation in the U.S. or internationally in the next five years. River cruising tends to encourage repeat visitation with nearly half (48 percent) of past river cruisers reporting that they are likely or very likely to take a river cruise vacation again in the next five years.
Fifty-four percent of adults in the U.S. feel the all-inclusive experience focused on the journey, not just the destination, is the top benefit of river cruising. Other attributes that are similarly appealing include the ability to visit unique destinations not accessible by larger cruise ships (cited by 50 percent of survey respondents), the opportunity for an authentic travel experience (48 percent) and the convenience of docking right in the heart of a city or town (48 percent).