While only a small portion of the population has boarded a ship to cruise along rivers in the United States, Europe or Asia, consumer interest in river cruising is growing exponentially. According to a new AAA survey, 14 percent of Americans have enjoyed a river cruise, but approximately four in 10 would consider river cruising for an upcoming vacation. Following this trend, AAA’s river cruise bookings have increased more than 16 percent in just the last year.
River cruises have become a popular trend among AAA East Central members as well. More river cruises were booked in the Club’s five state territory over the last year than ever before.
Despite the perception that river cruising appeals primarily to older generations, millennials respond more strongly to several key attributes of river cruising than members of Generation X and Baby Boomers. The younger generation is less likely to have taken a river cruise vacation (11 percent), but they are more likely to consider one for an upcoming vacation (42 percent internationally; 45 percent domestically) than either Generation X or Baby Boomers.
“River cruising offers travelers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the heart of multiple destinations in comfort and luxury,” said Tracy Edwards, Managing Director of Travel for AAA East Central. “It also provides an intimate view into the culture and history of some of the world’s top destinations. Millennials tend to place great value on experiential travel opportunities and are looking to river cruising as an increasingly viable option for their future vacations,” he mentioned.
Overall, one in four Americans say they are very likely or likely to take a river cruise vacation in the U.S. or internationally in the next five years. River cruising tends to encourage repeat visitation with nearly half (48 percent) of past river cruisers reporting that they are likely or very likely to take a river cruise vacation again in the next five years.
Fifty-four percent of adults in the U.S. feel the all-inclusive experience focused on the journey, not just the destination, is the top benefit of river cruising. Other attributes that are similarly appealing include the ability to visit unique destinations not accessible by larger cruise ships (cited by 50 percent of survey respondents), the opportunity for an authentic travel experience (48 percent) and the convenience of docking right in the heart of a city or town (48 percent).
Travelers considering a river cruise vacation should consult with a travel agent to explore the various options and special offers that are available. For example, AAA members who book a 2017 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection sailing with a AAA credit card in August or September can receive additional savings. Members can also enjoy added amenities on select river cruise departures as part of AAA Vacations, a collection of unique, engaging travel experiences designed specifically for AAA members.
To evaluate consumer river cruise travel intentions and perceptions, AAA contracted with a national research company to perform a telephone survey of 1,012 adults living in the continental United States. Survey results are an accurate representation of the total continental U.S. population with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The survey was conducted June 23-26, 2016.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 82 local offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Kentucky serving more than 2.7 million members.