European river cruising grows in popularity // (c) 2012 Janeen Christoff
Travel Leaders Franchise Group’s poll of agencies coast to coast showed more than 75 percent of responding agents seeing an increase in interest and bookings for international river cruising (24.2 percent said “Yes, significantly” and 50.9 percent said “Yes, somewhat”).
While this question addressed river cruising in general and didn’t specifically call out European river cruises, it should be noted that European river cruises rank number 13 overall on the survey’s list of Top International Destinations, an impressive jump of eight spots in competition with international destinations and cities worldwide. Also encouraging: More than 91 percent of Travel Leaders surveyed say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2012 as compared to last year.
The 2012 Travel Trends Survey presents responses from 640 Travel Leaders owners, managers and frontline travel experts. Conducted from Nov. 21 to Dec. 16, 2011, it is based on actual booking data. And the majority of those agents who primarily book leisure travel indicated that they are seeing an increase in interest and bookings for small-ship cruising, off-the-beaten-path travel and international family travel.
Travel Leaders said Americans are confidently booking cruise vacations to Europe thanks in part to the European economic woes, which have resulted in the declining value of the euro against the dollar; in fact, 71.2 percent of those polled indicated that they are booking European cruises for 2012.
Within the Travel Leaders Group, 118 Cruise Holidays consultants responded to a survey between Dec. 21, 2011 and Jan. 4, 2012 with an unexpectedly strong polling results in the river cruise ships category. Two of the top five vessels expected in 2012 are European river vessels: AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto ranked second among all cruise newbuilds for 2012 and Viking River Cruises’ Viking Freya ranked fifth.
The survey also traced the progress of booking windows in recent months, with an increase at both ends: a higher percentage of consumers (14.2 percent compared to 11.8 percent) booked cruises more than 11 months in advance during 2011, but there was also an increase from 5.9 percent to 7.2 percent of consumers booking less than a month out.