Travel Trends Driving Record River Cruise Bookings

AmaWaterways was the only U.S.-based river cruise company to sail in Europe during 2020, and the cruise line has noticed some trends that have made their cruises for 2021 and 2022 even more popular.

“North American luxury travelers are beginning to plan their next vacations, and based on what we are seeing, river cruises are poised to be among the first to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “River cruise vacations take place on smaller ships with fewer guests, cruise within countries and conveniently dock in the center of charming towns and hidden villages. Looking ahead, we anticipate travelers will prioritize meaningful and authentic travel experiences that create true connections with their loved ones and the destination they are visiting. Travelers seeking this type of unique, intimate experience are driving increased demand for AmaWaterways.”


There are several trends spurring people to book river cruises: an interest in family travel, slower, more authentic travel and a focus on sustainability and recovery.

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The first is celebration travel. While many families have had to put large celebrations on hold in 2020, they’re still going to want to take that big vacation in order to commemorate a birthday, graduation or another special occasion. AmaWaterways noticed a growth in multi-generational bookings and a special interest in 2021 Christmas Market cruises, indicating that families will use this time to cruise to reconnect and make up for lost time.

The second trend is twofold: longer stays and shorter booking windows. With international travel regulations constantly adapting, people want to book their trips closer to when they can actually travel. They’re also more likely to add extra days to their vacation, or even combine back-to-back river cruises. AmaWaterways currently has two offers for those who wish to extend their vacations or go on back-to-back cruises.

Another trend is slower travel. People desire an authentic experience tailored to the organic discovery of a destination and its culture. River cruising offers just that: with many stops being less crowded destinations with longer stays, passengers can explore at their own pace or take a small tour with up to 10 to 15 other people.

Health became not only a priority this past year but also a necessity. On AmaWaterways’ river cruises, passengers can take guided fitness classes and guided hikes with its dedicated Wellness Host.

Regenerative travel is also expected to become a big travel trend. Many tourist destinations have been struggling to recover throughout the pandemic, and travelers are more interested in doing good and traveling sustainably than ever before. AmaWaterways is dedicated to helping in the recovery efforts, and also received the Green Award certification for its entire European fleet in 2020.

Lastly, but definitely not least, is the importance of using a travel advisor. With more complex policies and rules than ever, the travel advisor can help make the process of planning a trip much easier. They will likely be in high demand for the next several years.

Check out AmaWaterways’ Referral Savings Offer that rewards guests by referring others to their travel advisor.

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