The ever-growing appeal of river cruising has led to a significant rise in the number of UK passengers taking a holiday on Europe’s waterways, with 2013 seeing a jump of 22% according to figures released today by CLIA UK & Ireland.
20,000 more Brits chose a river cruise holiday on the continent in 2013, taking the total number to almost 110,000 passengers. Europe now accounts for 83% of river cruises by UK passengers compared to 50% in 2009
The growth on Europe’s rivers was underpinned by a significant increase in the number of new cruise ships. Twenty-seven ships were introduced in 2012-3 and more are on the way. The 260 river cruise ships currently sailing the European waterways will be supplemented by a further 24 presently on order – an increase of 12%.
The Rhine, Danube and Moselle rivers and their tributaries are the most popular accounting for 52% of all UK passengers in 2013. However, other rivers are growing even faster with the Rhone and Seine seeing 38% more passengers in 2013 and the River Elbe leaping by 50% over the same period.
A key reason for the growing popularity of river cruising is the transformation of the holiday experience with new larger ships with greater amenities. A third of European river cruise ships have been built within the last ten years - a quarter within the last five. These are larger and 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.
Andy Harmer, Director CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “Europe’s phenomenal growth as a river cruise destination for UK passengers clearly shows how the industry has transformed the passenger experience in recent years.
“New, more modern ships, coupled with an ever-widening choice of destinations, are opening up Europe to a whole new generation of river cruisers.”
For UK passengers, the itinerary and destinations on a journey were by far the most important factor when choosing their last river cruise, with 78% citing it as one of the principal reasons for choosing their last river cruise.