At the 2023 CLIA RiverView Conference, travel agents were urged to make the most of the opportunities in the river cruise sector, as 2023 has the potential to be the “best year ever”.
Those words, from AmaWaterways managing director Jamie Loizou during the first keynote speech of the event – held in Vienna for the first time – come off the back of what has been a successful wave period for many river operators, not least AmaWaterways.
“We are in the midst of a fantastic wave period and river cruising is well and truly back. The sector is on the verge of something big and this year represents a huge opportunity to make it the best year ever,” Loizou told delegates.
“However, it won’t be good fortunate alone that makes it happen. We need to take the opportunities we’ve been given and make our own luck. Let’s ensure that we capitalise on the time that we’re investing in being here in Vienna.”
This point was reinforced by A-Rosa UK MD Lucia Rowe, who added: “There is a wonderful time ahead for river, but only if you make it so. So, go all in.”
Exotic rivers and family travel
Digging deeper, Loizou said there was pent-up demand for exotic river destinations, something that AmaWaterways is hoping to tap into with the launch of operations on the Magdalena river.
The luxury river line, which will start itineraries in 2024, will welcome guests on board the custom-built AmaMagdalena and AmaMelodia.
Loizou said: “All of this offers the consumer more choice and means that there truly is a river cruising experience for everyone.”
Rowe highlighted the growing desire for family and multi-generational travel, claiming that river is “well placed” to take advantage of this trend.
Agents at the CLIA RiverView event also heard from TUI River Cruises UK & Ireland MD Chris Hackney, who revealed that the line is seeing a younger demographic on board and new guests coming into the river market.
The operator recently increased capacity for its winter 2023 programme due to increased demand.