River cruising continues to boom in Europe

River cruising continues to boom in Europe

The popularity of river cruises has continued to grow with the number of UK passengers taking a holiday on waterways in Europe and further afield growing by six per cent in 2014, according to figures released by CLIA UK & Ireland.

The number of British travellers taking a river cruise grew by almost 8,000, taking the total number to 139,400 in 2014.

Europe remains by far the most popular region for UK travellers to take a river cruise accounting for 86 per cent of all passengers.

Within the continent, the River Danube’s popularity continued to soar, growing 41 per cent, while cruises on the Danube and Rhine rivers grew 37 per cent.

Cruises on Russia’s rivers grew in popularity too, climbing 15 per cent, while further afield, cruises on rivers such as the Mekong are up 55 per cent, and in India, rivers including the Ganges and Brahmaputra are up 24 per cent.

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A key reason for the growing popularity of river cruises is the evolution of the holiday experience with the arrival of new, larger ships with greater on board amenities.

A third of European river cruise ships have been built within the last ten years - a quarter within the last five.

These offer the kind of multiple dining venues, spa facilities and range of cabins with balconies which have already combined to transform the experience offered on many ocean cruise ships.

The cruise industry’s investment in new ships is set to continue with 16 CLIA member river vessels due to be launched in 2015 alone.

Andy Harmer, director of CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “With the continued investment in new, more innovative ships and the ever-increasing choice and diversity of itineraries in Europe and further afield, it’s no surprise that more UK passengers than ever are opting for river cruises as their holiday choice.”