River Cruise Ship Evolution

Relatively minor changes in river cruise ship design has led to big results By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West

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To read more about changing river cruise ships, click here.

I can still remember a lesson from my college history class on how small innovations can result in major cultural and historical changes.

Take the invention of the cash register, for example. “Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier,” as it was first called in 1883, was popularized by the National Cash Register Company, which itself had a long and unique history as one of the first major U.S. corporations. With the growth of the cash register, all sorts of accounting procedures — not to mention sales tax calculations — became standard. Ultimately, U.S. business and government saw monumental changes thanks to this simple machine.

You’ll find a similar theme in this issue’s cover story, “Blueprint for Success,” where we look at some of the changes in architecture, engineering and design in river cruising and how those changes have influenced the overall industry. For instance, the creation of a shallow-water propulsion system has helped to open new rivers to cruising, while a fresh way of looking at ship design turned a hard-to-sell cabin category into one of the most sought-after spaces.

The spirit of innovation is strong in the river cruise industry, and it has led to another change that will most likely have a major impact on the entire travel segment. As you can read, Adventures by Disney is partnering with AmaWaterways to offer family-focused river cruise itineraries. While family river cruising is not necessarily new, the first family-friendly river cruise newbuild is definitely pioneering. With a new ship and the Disney brand behind it, this initiative is bound to introduce river cruising to a much larger market, which will be good for travel agents and the industry overall.

For our part, once again we salute the innovators in our industry with our annual Western Agents Vote of Excellence (WAVE) Awards. Visit TravelAgeWest.com/WAVE before April 30 to cast your vote for your favorite travel companies and support those suppliers that are not afraid to make history with bold ideas.