While the Caribbean continues to lead – due, in part, to an ever-expanding selection of closer-to-home cruise ports that appeal to a wide range of travelers – demand for cruises in Europe and China, continues to grow demand for both for deep water and river cruising, says a recent Cruise Holidays Cruise Trends report.
The biggest gains among European river cruise destinations have been charted for Passau, Germany, and Lyon, France, while the top five list for river cruises outside of Europe includes destinations in China, Vietnam and Myanmar, the report says.
The report is an annual look at actual cruise bookings made for the year ahead by Cruise Holidays' 1,300 cruise-focused travel agents in the United States and Canada.
“What’s especially attractive to a growing number of travelers is how the cruise industry is adapting to their desires to visit Europe, be it coastal or inland. We see strong growth there both for deep water and river cruising. They have emerged as complementary – not competing – forces in travel,” said Kevin Weisner, senior vice president of sales for Vacation.com, of which Cruise Holidays is a part.
He notes some traditional open water cruise lines are packaging their itineraries with river cruise trips.
Top 10 Cruise Destinations for 2015
Top River Cruise Destinations
The top three river cruise destinations are centered around historic cities and landmarks along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, plus the scenic waterways of The Netherlands. Passau, on Germany’s border with Austria, jumped into the top 10 thanks to increasing interest in exploring the Danube. Lyon, France, also climbed into the top 10.
While the overall top 10 river cruise destinations are all within Europe, there is a growing demand for Asian cruises.
The top five river cruise destinations outside Europe include Beijing and Shanghai, China; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; and Mandalay and Pyay, Myanmar.
“Beijing and Shanghai, China, along with Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, have been perched in the top three positions in this category for two years running," Weisner said.
"Two destinations in Myanmar (Burma) have gained a foothold in our top five, as the country opens its doors to visitors. We believe the growth of the European river cruise traveler has created this demand from those looking to collect new destination experiences,” added Weisner.
Cruise Holidays urges early booking to ensure the best selection of itineraries, staterooms, and excursions.
“If you wish to have adjoining staterooms, a suite, or other special accommodations, these room types are consistently the top sellers on any given ship,” said Weisner. “Additionally, with more cruise lines offering reservations for onboard shows and specialty dining, we encourage all of our clients to secure their reservation well in advance. We are also seeing a trend whereby the cruise lines are rewarding the early bookers with complimentary beverage packages, pre-paid gratuities and shipboard credits and this is helping them better manage their pricing and removing a lot of inventory from last-minute sale pricing.”