Last updated: 04:52 PM ET, Mon March 14 2016

River Cruising Sets Sail for Millennials

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Viking Cruises | Jason Leppert | February 04, 2016

River Cruising Sets Sail for Millennials

Photo courtesy of Adventures by Disney

River cruising is booming, and it’s not all thanks to older generations, although that has been the traditional crowd for some time. Now, millennials, myself at 32 included, are becoming more and more attracted to international travel along historic and scenic banks, and there is plenty to hold our attention onboard and off.

Personally, I have yet only traveled with Viking River Cruises, a company not specifically interested in accommodating youth nor families with children, but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming an unapologetic fan. Regardless of the line chosen, there is not a more relaxing way to travel Europe, for instance, unpacking once and sailing straight into the heart of some of the most iconic cities in the world. Many ocean cruises don’t even come as conveniently close.

“...When travelers embark on a river cruise, they can experience the quaint villages and thriving cities that rest along the beautiful rivers that wind and bend through Europe, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, South America and Egypt...,” said Steve Born, VP of marketing for the Globus family of brands, including Avalon Waterways, but some can’t escape for long durations. For them, he adds, “...shorter, more diverse and active itineraries are another way river cruise companies are luring younger travelers...”

READ MORE: Tauck Doubles River Cruise Capacity for Families

By virtue of the locks they traverse, riverboats are also by no means ocean-plowing mega cruise ships, but innovations still abound. One of the more modern players, Emerald Waterways, draws “ the younger market by offering contemporary, stylish river ships with amenities not found on other river ships – all of which appeal to the millennial generation...,” according to Lisa Norton, vice president Emerald Waterways Brand Management, North America.

She explains such Emerald amenities include “...the only indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool on the river with a current generator for swimming laps, a fitness center, a walking track, a putting green, and bicycles on board for guests to use at their leisure or to enjoy on guided biking excursions...”

In fact, staying fit while also relaxing on the rivers is important to younger crowds, and AmaWaterways has recently renewed its commitment to biking and hiking tours ashore in 2016.

When you think of the millennial traveler, you may be picturing a young, unattached globetrotter out for that perfect selfie. But plenty of travelers that fit the millennial demographic are starting families of their own, and they're more than happy to take the whole family along for the trip. Adventures by Disney has teamed up with AmaWaterways to offer successful family-friendly journeys. AmaViola’s connecting cabins are particularly well suited to large parties as are some of its staterooms and suites that can accommodate up to three or four to a room.

READ MORE: 7 River Cruise Ships That Should Be On Everyone's Short List

“We've had a fantastic response to our Adventures by Disney river cruise itineraries,” says Heather Killingbeck, director program development and operations for Adventures by Disney. “By combining the luxury experience that AmaWaterways offers with the types of active family experiences that Disney can provide, we have created something that many parents have told us they wanted to do for a long time...”

Tauck is another cruise line eager to please families as it is, “...particularly well-suited to host millennials as they become parents, because [it] operates three Tauck Bridges river cruises – on the Danube, Rhone and Rhine – designed specifically for families with young children,” says Katharine Bonner, Tauck's Sr. VP for River and Small Ship Ocean Cruising.

As for Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, its ships may not exhibit a modern decor – in fact, they eschew it – but its president, Guy Young, says, “...we were the first river cruise company to offer multi-generational itineraries, which have proven to be extremely successful – we doubled these offerings for 2016 and they now have their own dedicated brochure. These family-friendly departures attract both parents and grandparents traveling with children, effectively introducing the newest generation to river cruising...”

That’s the sweet spot: appealing to all generations and sharing the experience with larger family trees. Just as once perceived stodgy ocean cruise lines are broadening their horizons from an older clientele to a younger one, so too are river cruise lines offering youthful active groups, couples and solo travelers alike a growing list of enticing options.


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