River cruise lines are looking for ‘a normal season’ in 2022 with most companies reporting that they plan to return to full capacity in Europe by spring.
AmaWaterways which is sold through APT in Australia said that sales are up around 40 per cent on the same period in 2019, including used future cruise credits.
“This year we anticipate cruising throughout its entirety,” managing director Jamie Loizou told Travel Weekly in the UK.
He said the line was prepared to “pivot and change” 2022 itineraries if restrictions were imposed due to a fresh Covid outbreak or a variant of concern, saying: “We roll with the punches.”
Luxury line Uniworld said it will bring all its river ships back by the end of March, including the first full season for three Super Ships it launched in Portugal, Italy and Egypt last year.
UK managing director Chris Townson told Travel Weekly in the UK said he expects a “bumper year” in 2022. “Guests are keen to lay down longer-term plans now, to have something truly amazing in the diary,” he said.
A-Rosa hopes all its 13 vessels will be sailing by the spring and reported a return of British customers to its European river cruises this year, with last year’s guests “mainly European”. UK managing director Lucia Rowe said: “As testing restrictions ease for UK travellers, we’re seeing more wanting to travel.”
Agents reported a rise in bookings of longer cruises, and customers spending more, as confidence returns.
Scott Anderson, cruise product and marketing director at Luxury Cruise and More, said: “We’re seeing luxury river cruise clients upgrading to higher-level cabins. Luxury ships have more space per guest and smaller numbers, which may be reassuring for clients.”
Alison Earnshaw, managing director of River Voyages parent World Travel Holdings, urged agents to reassure clients on lines’ safety protocols.
“Our river cruise demographic is over-65s who have stronger concerns about testing, health and safety,” she said.
“Collectively, it’s important to educate customers. This will improve confidence and, in turn, short-term bookings in the summer.”