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Sometimes river cruising can be reminiscent of the biblical story of Noah: It focuses on things in pairs.
A quick look at river cruise brochures makes it clear that couples are the target market. But solo travelers as well as families are also drawn to river cruising, with its friendly atmosphere, easy companionship and long, free days onshore with flexible schedules and activities such as bicycling. So as the segment matures, cruise lines are broadening their demographics and finding ways to appeal to everyone.
AmaWaterways has heightened its marketing to single travelers with a new policy: There will be no supplement for singles on the lowest category level for all sailings onboard all ships in Europe and Asia. In some cases, the single supplement will be waived throughout a vessel, but the lowest category accommodations will be sold to singles without extra charge on every departure. These may be fixed-window, double occupancy staterooms or dedicated single staterooms.
Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner for AmaWaterways, says the line currently sees 8 to 10 percent of all bookings coming in as solo travelers.
“We see this as a growing market and are committed to doing all that we can to continue bringing the beauty of river cruising to solo travelers,” she said. “This segment of traveler is an important customer for AmaWaterways, as well as for the travel agent community at large.”
The line is making special accommodations for solo cruisers beyond finances, as well.
“AmaWaterways continues to see great success with our solo travelers because we are truly passionate about making each river cruise experience feel like a home to our guests, including making each passenger feel as though they are part of our family,” she said. “With this philosophy in mind, we have added special gestures, such as a solo traveler welcome reception on the first night onboard, so that guests can mingle and get to know one another.”
The move comes in addition to this year’s launch of the 158-passenger AmaViola, which has a design impacted by the line’s partnership with Adventures by Disney. A new family and multigenerational stateroom configuration offers 12 staterooms that can each accommodate up to three family members; six sets of adjoining staterooms that can hold families of up to five people; and four suites with convertible sofa beds that can work for a family of four.
The growing popularity of river cruising was bound to open the segment up to new demographics sooner or later. While travel agents have already been booking solo travelers and families, the new, increased attention to their needs is likely to create a real expansion in sales.