Thursday, 21 August 2014

Europe cruises a holiday bargain

Europe cruises a holiday bargain

By Michelle Baran
InsightWhen I first heard that river cruise lines offered holiday-themed sailings during Christmas and New Year’s, I was bewildered. Not only can it be really cold in Europe during that time of year, but the holiday season seems like a time to be closer to home, surrounded by family, friends or loved ones. Right?

Wrong. Interest in holiday season river cruising is growing, and river cruise lines across the board are boosting capacity for the upcoming season to keep up with demand.

River cruise executives say that holiday cruisers can include everyone from single travelers to those who don’t necessarily have family to visit as well as those who simply prefer to get away for the holidays, for instance.

And in addition to the charming itineraries and activities river cruise lines develop for the holiday season — rich in colorful markets, seasonal food and beverages and festive activities (gingerbread making lessons anyone?) — there is another competitive advantage that could further bolster the river cruise segment during the winter season.

What is traditionally considered high season on land in Europe is still the lower off-season in river cruising, where ever-growing capacity is likely to keep it that way for some time to come. And river cruise lines are increasingly marketing that fact.

For instance, AmaWaterways is promoting several of its New Year’s-inclusive river cruises in Amsterdam and Vienna against the higher-priced land options in those cities for ringing in 2015.

What was once a small slice of business that filled in a bit of the river cruising industry’s low season could start to see greater momentum as some of the advantages and the value pricing of holiday river cruises catch on.

So why not pack a warm coat and get onboard the river cruise party boat?