River Cruise Boom

Just got my 2nd shot this week. I am vaxxed to the max! How about you?


The 2nd shot brings a wave of optimism.


And while my American colleagues and clients are a little ahead of us on the optimism stage, Canadians are now starting to feel it too.  We’re starting to get back to planning travel – and hopefully, one day very soon, starting to travel again.

And it’s about time to really start focusing on plans too! Especially if a river cruise is something you’d like to consider. Whether that’s the rivers of Europe (like the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, etc) or maybe the Mekong or Nile or Chobe or Amazon, we are really entering a river cruise boom.

River cruisers are a dedicated lot of travelers, and they love this style of travel. So, they were disappointed by the cancellations in 2020 and early 2021 (I’ve rebooked one client 4 times). No doubt, we’re all eager to have the ships be back in the water this summer.

River cruising is booming. And there’s no secret as to why. If you’ve not done one yet, you should know that they feature smaller more intimate ships with an average of only 160 people onboard. Great food and wine. And you’re sailing through the heart of Europe (or another destination).

So, if you think about the 160 people booked on a ship who’ve had to be re-accommodated many times, the already smaller inventory (compared to ocean cruising ships) for 2022, and 2023 is already filling up.  Demand is up, supply is small, and price is increasing.  River cruising always tended to book a year out, so with more interest and displaced previous cruisers rebooking, the booking curve is getting longer.

I’m working on a repeat river cruise group with Shepherd’s Fashions (the ladies boutique fashion store in Ottawa – if you don’t already watch their facebook fashion shows, I highly recommend them. Check out https://www.facebook.com/shepherdsfashions and http://bit.ly/shepherds3v9S8yp ). It’s taking a bit to work through all the machinations, but we hope to have details soon. Let me know if you are interested in a Rhine September 2022 getaway with them. I took a group of 73 with Marlene Shepherd and Kathie Donovan for the Christmas markets on the Danube at the end of 2019, and we had a marvelous time.

I’m also working on some other groups – both family reunions and some for solo ladies. Let me know if you have a big celebration you’d like to celebrate on a river cruise with some family and friends.

And, of course, a river cruise is really popular with solos and couples as well.


I’m updating my “Beginner’s Guide to River Cruising” – so let me know if you’d like a copy. Here’s a sample of what’s included – I highlight the 3 things ocean and river cruising have in common, and the 10 things that are different between ocean and river cruising:


Let me know if you’d like to see the full guide.

Want to whet your appetite further on why river cruising may be right for you? Here’s a recent article.

Avalon Invites Travelers Back with 8 Reasons to Choose River Cruising https://www.insidertravelreport.com/avalon-invites-cruisers-back-with-reasons-to-choose-small-ship-river-cruising 


Avalon Waterways plans to return to European rivers this July, sailing select departures on the Seine River with the Rhine, Danube, Rhône & Moselle Rivers following shortly thereafter.

“The interest in small ship river cruises has never been greater and we’re excited to help lead cruising’s comeback with Suite Ship sailings in Europe this summer,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Aboard our spacious, state-of-the-art ships, travelers enjoy the company of an expert cruise director, appealing crew-to-passenger ratios and seamless dock-and-go sightseeing with insider tips and experiences only the locals can provide. River cruising is the perfect way to see and explore the world.”

In the last decade, Avalon says river cruising has grown by 250 percent, showing when it comes to bodies of water and ships, bigger is not necessarily better. Avalon is highlighting eight reasons to consider river cruising that travel advisors can use to sell to their clients.

Size Matters: To sail under centuries’ old bridges and squeeze between 12-meter-wide locks, Avalon’s floating “boatique” hotels hold an average of 150 guests, although some are smaller. Although small, the average guest-to-crew ratio is 3:1.

See, Not Sea: On a river cruise, travelers are not at sea. Instead, river cruises wind and bend through the heart of countries providing a panoramic view of the Old World. Always within a few feet of shore, on a river vessel, travelers pass clifftop castles, hillside vineyards, ancient villages, and capital cities. This also means travelers have quick and easy access to ports-of-call at all times.

Cruising Focused on “To Dos,” Not Crowds and Queues: River cruise itineraries are destination-focused, with local guides who help travelers connect with the world around them. Most river cruise itineraries sail off-the-beaten-path, visiting small fairytale villages, quaint village squares and family-owned wineries, bakeries and restaurants. Avalon’s excursions typically accommodate no more than 30 guests at a time, providing every traveler an immersive and authentic experience with no lines.

Fresh Air and Perspectives: On board Avalon’s Suite Ships, guests on two full decks are welcomed with 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, each featuring a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that open seven-feet wide and converts into an open-air balcony. No Avalon ship has interior cabins. Instead, every Deluxe Stateroom and Panorama Suite offer guests natural light and most feature beds facing the river views. Public spaces also provide guests room to move and view the scenery. Avalon’s Suite Ship Sky Decks run the length and width of each vessel (approximately 65 feet longer and 6 feet wider than a football field) with open spaces, fresh air and lounge chairs.

Warm “Welcomes” Along the Way: Avalon works to engage with communities visited by hiring local drivers, guides and operators for land activities. This “give back” mentality extends to the purchase of local produce, wines, beers, and even bread, further connecting our guests to people, places, and culture.

Charting a New Course in Sustainability: The natural surroundings of the world’s rivers are a benefit of river cruising, and it is up to river cruise companies to preserve the environment. As a result, Avalon has launched the Lighthouse Project, to improve monitoring and measurement to reduce environmental impact, to save water, to limit waste and to foster a sustainability culture among crew and guests. This work includes supporting Ocean Cleanup in its efforts to renew the world’s rivers and oceans.

Ship-Shape Suite Ships: Avalon is committed to guest safety, comfort and peace-of-mind. To that end, the company has developed a new Avalon Assurance program, with help from its Global Health & Safety team, dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s standards from start-to-finish.

Not Everything in the World Goes as Planned: Avalon is prepared to offer the highest standards in the lowest situations. “We understand that our value and our service is measured by what we do when things go wrong even more than when everything runs as planned,” said Hoffee. “We are there for our guests, offering refunds for missed services, alternative sightseeing or the opportunity to rebook and try again another time. We are a long-term business, prepared to tackle short-term obstacles.”