European river cruising is seeing a surge in popularity, driven by new vessels and itineraries targeting millennial passengers.
A different type of cruise experience along the rivers of Europe is helping to blow away the perception that these trips are the preserve of older generations.
In keeping with efforts to broaden the appeal of cruising, operators are serving up trips aimed at millennial and Generation Xers who want to visit Instagram or Snapchat-worthy rivers such as the Danube, Rhine or Rhone.
These more active trips combine scenery and city tours with activities such as rock climbing, while on board there are rooftop bars and international DJs.
According to travel industry body ABTA, river cruising has become the fastest-growing sector of the worldwide cruise market, thanks partly to the introduction of new vessels and facilities to rival those found on ocean liners.
New arrivals include U by Uniworld, whose first cruises aimed at the 21 to 45 age group depart this spring. Billed as the best way to experience Europe, they promise a “full on, activity packed, culturally enticing immersive travel experience”.
Amadeus is another company going after the millennial market, with its six-day sailings in 2019 due to be hosted by a well-known person from social media.
Technology to match
But new initiatives in the river cruise market are not just aimed at millennials. For example, more cruises are being planned in 2018 to tap into the popularity of visiting Christmas markets along Europe’s Danube and Rhine rivers.
This broader range of activities explains why 14% of UK holidaymakers are planning on taking a cruise in 2018 — almost double the number that went on one in the previous 12 months. More than one in ten holidaymakers between the ages of 18-24 are planning a cruise this year, the ABTA research added.
But in order to appeal to the next generation of holidaymakers, cruise operators need to ensure they have the technology to match the scenery, which is why leading liners are investing heavily in lightning fast wi-fi across their fleets.