Week in Review: Riverside Adds Crystal Ships, Orient Express' Yacht

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Orient Express

21 January, 2023

In the top river cruise news of the week, the new Riverside Luxury Cruises acquired four former Crystal Cruises’ European river vessels.

Two will begin sailing in 2023. Riverside Ravel will operate on France’s Rhône and Saône rivers, while Riverside Debussy will sail the Rhine River. Itineraries for the Riverside Bach and Riverside Mahler will be announced later this year. Previously, Riverside had acquired the former Crystal Mozart; that vessel will begin sailing for Riverside on the Danube River in spring 2023.

A top development on the ocean cruising front, Orient Express’ owner Accor and leading shipbuilding company Chantiers de l'Atlantique are partnering to create the world’s largest sailing ship, Orient Express Silenseas. As reported by sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, the ship will begin sailing in 2026..

New Itineraries

Viking announced its 2024-2025 World Cruise itineraries, including the new “Viking World Voyage I," setting sail on December 19, 2024, from Port Everglades, FL, it will sail around the world in 180 days. Travelers will visit 85 ports in 37 countries, with 13 overnight stays in ports.

Longer cruises are becoming increasingly popular with consumers eager to make more of their vacation. For example, Holland America Line is among the lines planning some longer cruises in 2024.

Scenic Group unveiled three new 2024-2025 East Antarctica and Ross Sea voyages on Scenic Eclipse II. Travelers will journey to areas famed for the historic explorations of Dr. Douglas Mawson, Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

In the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin Cruises has unveiled a brochure highlighting its collection of 2024 voyages, with all-inclusive cruises offered aboard the intimate Paul Gauguin. Of the line’s seven itineraries departing next year, two are new, including a seven-night “More Society Islands & Tahiti” cruise featuring a return to Raiatea and a 14-night “Islands of the Marquesas & Tuamotus” itinerary showcasing five calls in the Marquesas.

One Challenge

One challenge this month for the cruise industry’s return to the South Pacific, and specifically New Zealand, has been that several lines have had issues with sea snail and algae infestations on ship hulls. Port visits have been changed or canceled as divers have worked to clean the hulls. New Zealand has strict regulations to prevent contamination of its reefs.

More Cruise News: Cruise Planners Releases List of 2023 Travel Trends Outlook

A cruise ship in Antarctica

Cruise Planners ended 2022 on a positive note, with purchases up 15 percent versus 2019, which was a banner year for travel. Heading into this year, the home-based travel agency shared its top travel trends and what its network of advisors are focusing on during wave season.

When it comes to one of the biggest travel trends for 2023, luxury travel is the name of the game. In 2019, the global luxury market size was valued at $945.6 billion and is expected to grow 11 percent in the next four years. “We know 2023 is the 'Year of Travel' just by looking at the incredible number of sales we have on the books and it is not even a month into the new year,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners. “Luxury is at the top of the list and clients want to make memories and are sparing no expense to create them with loved ones.”

One of the segments within the luxury travel market that has seen an influx of growth is the luxury cruise segment. Cruise Planners advisors are booking these popular destinations:

  • European River
  • Mediterranean
  • Baltic Sea
  • Antarctica
  • Africa/Middle East/India

Other key cruising destinations include Alaska (trending at 32 percent for 2023 departures compared to 2019), Caribbean (+12 percent for 2023 compared to 2019) and Europe, which is also seeing a strong interest with 32 percent for 2023 departures compared to 2019.

Other trends looking up include:

  • Increased focus on sustainability: With concerns about the impact of tourism on the environment growing, it's likely that we'll see more travelers seeking out eco-friendly options for their vacations. This could include an increase in the popularity of eco-tourism, as well as a greater emphasis on sustainable practices at hotels and resorts. LNG powered ships are also on the rise for major cruise lines as they look to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Rise of domestic travel: High air fares have made some people hesitant to travel internationally, and this trend is likely to continue in the short-term. As a result, we could see an increase in domestic travel, as people explore more of their own country and region.
  • Growth of remote work: The pandemic has accelerated the trend of remote work, and it's likely that many people will continue to work remotely, at least part-time, even after the pandemic ends. This could lead to a rise in "digital nomad" travel, as people take advantage of the freedom and flexibility that remote work offers to travel more.
  • Multi-Generational Travel: Families are maximizing time together by making sure grandparents, parents and children travel together. Caribbean cruises and Mexican all-inclusive resorts are great options for those looking for this type of travel.
  • Personalization and customization: With so much choice available, travelers are increasingly seeking out personalized and customized experiences that cater to their individual interests and preferences. This could include everything from custom-tailored tours to personalized vacation packages.
  • Wellness vacations: According to the Global Wellness Institute report, wellness tourism will see a combined 21 percent of growth from now until 2025. These days, a new crop of getaways caters to every aspect of your well-being.

Overall, it's clear that the travel industry will continue to adapt and evolve in the face of changing trends and circumstances. By staying attuned to these trends, travelers can be sure to have a safe and enjoyable vacation experience in 2023 and beyond.

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