First in Service News

River Cruising Takes Off

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Belmond Fleur de Lys tours through Burgundy’s chateaux and vineyards

“Imagine passing magnificent castles while relaxing in a hot tub,” says First in Service river cruise specialist Gordana Sirota, CTC. “This is after a full day of exploring historic small towns and enjoying a local wine tasting.”

This proximity to beautiful landscapes and local life helps explain the rise in popularity of luxury river and barge cruising. Statistics show that the industry has evolved from attracting a traditionally older demographic to now appealing to active travelers in their 30s to 60s.

In addition to younger passengers, lines are seeing more solo travelers, and more celebratory travel including family reunions, weddings and graduations. Gordana notes, “The service on board is generally superb. And with the high staff to guest ratio, it becomes very personal.”

Europe – especially France – remains a very popular destination, but Gordana says that adventure travelers are being drawn to off-the-beaten-path itineraries in Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia too. Belmond is one specialty line that has both covered. Belmond Afloat in France has five luxury barges navigating through charming riverbanks along the French countryside. The crew includes a personal guide, and bikes are stored for offshore exploring. The intimate Belmond Orcaella takes up to 50 passengers through the heart of Myanmar along the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers.

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Belmond Orcaella explores exotic Myanmar

One final benefit, according to Gordana, is the ability to extend the journey with a cruise and land package. “That way you can add on at either end of the cruise and get to explore a destination more fully.”

Other popular river cruise lines include Viking River Cruises, Ama Waterways, Tauck River Cruising, and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

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