River cruises took an enormous beating during the pandemic as many of them — both in the United States and Europe — were cancelled. But as river cruise companies have announced plans to resume sailing in Europe this summer, such excursions are becoming a popular option for travelers.
And one of the major beneficiaries of the surge in interest in river cruises is travel advisors. Although travel advisors still face major hurdles in getting their clients back on ships, they’re using the benefits of river cruises to overcome travelers’ concerns after a year of bad press about the safety of ocean cruises. Advisors are pointing out that river cruise ships have fewer people on board, and the itineraries allow cruisers the freedom to deboard more often.
The numbers certainly back up many travel advisors’ belief in a pent-up demand for river cruises. “Our bookings are 400 percent of this time last year and within 20 percent of pre-pandemic booking levels,” said Annette Stellhorn, an advisor at Accent on Travel, a Delaware-based travel agency specializing in cruises.
Laurel Brunvoll has also seen a surge first hand as the founder and owner of Maryland-based travel agency Unforgettable Trips. “[We’ve] seen a 100 percent increase in requests and actual bookings for 2021 river cruises,” she said. Furthermore, 70 percent of her company’s future client reservations are for river cruises.
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