More Kiwi travellers are booking river cruises than ever before, with figures climbing steadily for adventures along European, Asian and American waterways.
Recent industry figures* show that river cruising was up 31% compared to the previous year.
The popularity of the cruises echoes the increasing demand for cruise holidays by Kiwis which saw a 10% growth in numbers for the 2014 season, making New Zealand the third fastest growing cruise market in the world.
Loren South, manager of House of Travel Lower Hutt, says the popularity of river cruises is growing as consumers look for alternatives to large ocean liners or over-land holidays.
“River cruises are on smaller boats, with a smaller number of people, so they are more intimate and also get you much closer to the places you visit as the boats can dock right in the heart of a village,” says South.
“However they still offer the advantage of convenience for people who don’t wish to do self-drive holidays, or spend their time moving from hotel to hotel to see different parts of the country," says South.
She says river cruises are often associated with Europe, and while there are many trips offered on rivers such as the Elbe River in east Germany, the Danube in Belgium, and the Loire River in France, South says New Zealanders are travelling to increasingly different locations to cruise.
“There are cruises all over the world now, such as the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia, the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar, cruises throughout the USA such as down the Columbia, Snake, and Willamette rivers through Washington and Oregon, and even the Amazon River in South America,” she says.
South says some river cruise companies have even introduced themed cruising for extra novelty value.
“Wine tasting cruises through France with an expert onboard, beer tasting cruises through Austria and Germany, jazz music, opera and impressionist art themed cruises throughout Europe are all on offer,” says South.