A survey of nearly 10,000 past Avalon Waterways cruisers found that European river cruises continue to be of interest with the Rhine River (75%) leading the pack. Rounding out the top five rivers of interest are the Upper Danube (64%), Seine and Rhone (39%), Lower Danube (34%) and Douro (31%).
Despite the Rhine being most popular, when asked which country on the itineraries covered by the above rivers, past cruisers were most interested in seeing France (39%). This was followed by Portugal (31%), Germany (30%), Austria (25%) and Switzerland (24%).
"River cruise bookings for 2023 are being led by the Rhine River, however, our most popular destination for the New Year is France," said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways. The river cruise company's parent company, the Globus family of brands, distributed the "Wish List" survey last December to past travelers.
"We expect both the Seine and Rhone Rivers to sell out this year. And, on the heels of announcing the new Avalon Alegria on the Douro River for 2024, we're enjoying early booking success. The new ship and itinerary are already 50% sold more than one year in advance."
Outside of Europe, the Nile River (15%) garners the most interest followed by the Mekong (13%) and Amazon (9%).
The survey also found that more than a quarter (26%) of respondents are most interested in active river cruising, with excursions such as hiking, biking, and paddling in demand.
"Our fastest growing itineraries on Europe's rivers are Active & Discovery cruises," Hoffee said. "Since launching Active & Discovery cruises on the Danube River in 2017, we have added these popular itineraries to every major European waterway, increasing offerings by 600%."
A shifting pattern, post-pandemic, that emerged in the survey is who people want to travel with. While 73% of respondents still consider their partner to be the best person with whom to share their vacation, 30% said they wanted to travel with friends and family. And nearly one-quarter (24%) said they prefer to go solo on their next trip.
Another new trend is longer trips. More than half of respondents (51%) said they want to book a two-week vacation this year, 13% more than those who said they plan to book a one-week trip.