More Kiwi cruisers are booking river sailings than ever before, with figures steadily climbing for experiences along European, American and Asian waterways.
Recent industry figures showed that river cruising is up 31% compared to 2014. The popularity of river adventures echoes the increasing demand for vacations by Kiwis which sees a 10% growth in numbers for 2014 season, making New Zealand the 3rd in the world fastest growing cruise market.
According to the manager of House of Travel Lower Hutt, Loren South, the popularity of river voyages was growing as consumers were looking for alternatives to over-land holidays and big ocean liners.
South said that as river cruises were on smaller vessels, with a smaller number of guests, they were more intimate and got passengers much closer to the places visited because the boats could dock in the heart of a village. River sailings also offered the advantage of convenience for those who didn’t wish to do self-drive vacations, or spend time in moving from hotel to hotel.
River cruises are usually associated with Europe. While there are many voyages offered on rivers such as the Danube in Belgium, the Loire River in France and the Elbe River in east Germany, New Zealanders choose increasingly different locations to sail. There are voyages all over the world today, such as the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar, Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia, cruises throughout the USA - down the Snake, Willamette and Columbia rivers through Washington and Oregon, even the Amazon River in South America.
Some river cruise lines have introduced themed cruises for extra novelty value. Beer tasting voyages through Germany and Austria, wine tasting journeys through France, impressionist art and jazz music themed cruises are all on offer.