There are six major trends that we see having an impact on the river cruise industry: Personalization, Multigenerational Family Groups, Wellness Travel, Food & Wine, Respect for the Environment and Role of Travel Advisors. I’d like to share my thoughts on the first three trends and I’ll talk about the last three in my next blog.
Personalization of the Travel Experience
River cruising can be a luxury product and experience, but the word “luxury” is being constantly redefined and has become more about time, space, service, and personalization of the travel experience. Acting as floating luxury hotels docking in the center of most towns and cities, river cruising almost doubles the amount of leisure time guests can enjoy in each destination. The small size of our river cruise ships allows for unique opportunities to personalize the onboard service and with over 20 shore excursions offered during the week, there are so many different ways for our guests to tailor how they choose to experience the destination.
Anticipating this demand for a more personalized luxury experience, AmaWaterways announced our newest ship, the AmaMagna, which will debut on the Danube River in May 2019. The ship is twice the width of traditional river ships, offering 196 guests the luxury of more space and more ways to personalize their river cruise experience. Space abounds with more than 50% of the ship featuring “ocean-cruise” sized suites – the majority between 355 and 710 sq. ft. with full balconies, and with eight pairs of suites connecting. The culinary experience on board is taken to new heights with four unique dining venues, including The Main Restaurant, The Chef’s Table, Jimmy’s Wine Bar Restaurant and the Al Fresco Restaurant. The Water Sports Platform, Zen Wellness Studio and expansive Sun Deck with large swimming pool, barbecue area and first-ever pop-up elevator all make this one-of-a-kind ship very appealing to guests looking for the luxury of space and choices matched with warm, friendly service.
Multigenerational travel continues to be an area of focus for cruise lines because the demand for family-friendly options continues to grow. AmaWaterways has always welcomed families on board (for safety reasons, children must be 4 years of age or older on our European ships) as we believe that travel for young people is so important to opening up their understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and people.
Starting in 2016, the company introduced connecting and triple-occupancy staterooms on all new ships being built, something uncommon on river cruise vessels but perfect for the multigenerational market.
Families appreciate the wide choice of tours offered that meet the needs of all three generations – shore excursions are conducted in small groups catering to gentle, regular and active walkers and bike tours really appeal to younger family members. Our guest feedback shows we have a unique vacation product that meets and exceeds the expectations of three generations of travelers together.
A new trend we are seeing is that the Holiday Cruises over the Thanksgiving and Christmas period are becoming very popular with families. Guests appreciate how stress-free it can be to leave all the festive meal planning and preparation, décor and entertainment to us! All they have to do is enjoy precious family time together which is what the holiday season should be about
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become essential for many travelers when choosing their next vacation. More and more guests on board our ships consider daily exercise a part of their routine – steps are counted and heart rates monitored with wrist-band technology and the 25 bikes on board are constantly in use.
The first in the river cruising industry to offer bicycles on board in 2006, AmaWaterways continues its leadership in active cruising through the introduction of Wellness Hosts, who teach morning and afternoon group classes in stretching, cardio/core strengthening and resistance band workouts. Additional "Signature" classes, based on the specialty of each dedicated Wellness Host, may include yoga, Pilates, dance classes or circuit training. Activities are complemented by discussion groups on healthy eating and relaxation techniques. The focus of the program is diversity of activity not intensity, although the Wellness Hosts are available for individual coaching sessions.
AmaWaterways offers a minimum of three biking and two hiking tours on most European itineraries and continues to increase these options to meet the demand from guests. Wellness activities were rolled out on six ships in 2018 and will be offered almost fleet-wide in 2019.
Trends may come and go but we believe that the human connection in travel is essential and that feeling of being treated like “family” will always remain the top priority at AmaWaterways. Our goal continues to be to exceed guests’ expectations and that means recruiting staff with a “sparkle”; training them carefully and anticipating what will surprise and delight all of our guests.
Stay tuned for Trends in Travel Part 2 coming next.