By Eliza Myers
Groups tired of packing up their belongings and hopping into a motorcoach every night have a new way to travel. Now guests can sit back, sip some wine and watch the European countryside go by without ever touching their suitcases on a river cruise.
During the last five years, European river cruising has taken off. Tour operators have increasingly been joining the river cruising game, buying more cruising ships and developing new river cruising itineraries.
“The motorcoach is still our primary means of transportation,” said Suzanne Kinahan, product team manager for Collette Vacations. “However, our river cruises in Europe have become very popular. Our European Christmastime tour does very well on the riverboat.”
River cruising allows groups to unpack their bags only once and gives them the freedom to move about the boat during transit. Popular river cruises, such as those along the Danube, the Rhine, the Rhone and the Seine rivers, follow waterways through charming European towns.
“River cruises are limited to the rivers, but they offer convenience,” said Tom Armstrong, corporate communications manager for Tauck. “The motorcoach tours can go high into the Alps and many other places you can’t access on a river cruise. So everything is about choice.”
Guests can also choose niche cruises that cater to special interests, such as Tauck’s Italian river cruise that focuses on local cuisine or a Danube River cruise that delves into classical music.
“You just do not have a bad experience on a river cruise,” said Jennifer Halboth, director of channel marketing for the Globus Family of Brands. “It’s about the destination versus the ocean cruises, which are more about the ship. You get to go to these little towns with guides and really get to the heart of these places.”