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River cruises are one of the stars of the industry at the moment, showing rapid growth again this year, according to agents discussing the 2012 Wave season.
In early February, the Travel Guard Update, a monthly review of key travel trade issues, showed that agents reported that river cruising was continuing to grow in popularity worldwide, from traditional European itineraries to itineraries in destinations such as West Africa’s Gambia River and, even closer to home, on the Mississippi River. Fifty percent of respondents believe river cruising will be the biggest trend of 2012.
Similarly, in Cruise Holidays’ 2012 Cruise Trends survey, released in January, agents voted two river cruise ships among the most anticipated for 2012: AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto and Viking River Cruises’ Freya.
“We have had incredible interest in river cruising.” said Leslie Fambrini of Personalized Travel Consultants in Los Altos, Calif.
Likewise, Bonnie Habel, president of Fuller Travel in San Antonio, Texas, said, “We are seeing a lot of interest in river cruising and our early bookings have been strong. It really has nothing to do with the fear of ocean cruising but more to do with wanting a new experience. Many clients like the option of seeing a country in depth and in a leisurely fashion, unpacking only once as they would on an ocean cruise as well as having the all-inclusive advantages of ocean cruising.”
The only river cruising region that did not look good was Egypt.
“I think Egypt has really done itself in for the foreseeable future given the major damage done during the elections and the conflict,” said Tom Baker, Houston-based Cruise Center co-owner. “I hoped for better.”