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The ever increasing popularity of river cruising


notamermaid
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Thanks pinotlover and notamermaid for your truthful posts about the river crowding.

 

You did forget one related problem, no dock space at all. The Vantage Splendor last April skipped Hoorn because "there was no space to dock". :eek:

 

The cruise companies seem as hell bent to destroy these river cruises just as they have destroyed many other great travel destinations.

 

Sorry for this because I've been looking forward to repeating these trips in the future.:(

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Hello xmaser,

 

I remember you mentioning that one about Hoorn. Weird incident.

 

In brutal terms one might say that river cruising companies will shoot themselves in the foot very soon by adding yet more of the same itineraries to the same destinations.

 

You mention repeating the trips in the future. I think one could certainly do such a trip again in length but with different places to visit that are also on the river Rhine for example. Here there is still much to explore. I would be happy to get such an itinerary together. I would focus on industrial heritage and places related to the North-American continent for US and Canadian passengers and places related to British history for British passengers, respectively. You would still see the river but mix and stagger ports and dock locations. Companies are certainly looking for more destinations.

 

I am sure other rivers have gems, or at least interesting places, that have yet to be explored.

 

One example of an awkward situation on the Rhine: Tourists do want to go to Heidelberg. I am sure justifiably so, I have never been there. But Heidelberg is on the Neckar. So ships dock in Speyer (good docking location, exploring of Speyer easy) or Mannheim (docking location industrial, no easy access to the interesting Mannheim) to bus passengers to Heidelberg. Yet ships could go onto the Neckar. Why they do not I have not been able to find out. One reason might be that turning the ship is not possible. That would apply to the 135m vessels only as CroisiEurope for example sails the Neckar. There are more destinations out there to add to international itineraries if one so wants and overcomes the language barrier.

 

One example of a new destination on the Rhine: Duisburg. The first river cruise went there in April of last year. Viking is building its own dock there.

 

The only problem that will not go away is the impending longer queueing at locks.

 

notamermaid

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We have just returned from an Avalon River Cruise. There was only 36 passengers on our boat. We were told that none of the cruises have been near full. So much for needing to book early. Next time I am going to wait for a sale!

 

 

Which itinerary? Our Ama Danube cruise was full.

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We have just returned from an Avalon River Cruise. There was only 36 passengers on our boat. We were told that none of the cruises have been near full. So much for needing to book early. Next time I am going to wait for a sale!

 

We leave in six weeks on an Avalon cruise (Trier to Amsterdam), and according to the web site, only 12 cabins remain out of 64 total. So our cruise should be fairly full.

 

Did the small number of passengers affect service--either positively or negatively?

 

FuelScience

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I am sure other rivers have gems, or at least interesting places, that have yet to be explored.

 

One example of an awkward situation on the Rhine: Tourists do want to go to Heidelberg. I am sure justifiably so, I have never been there. But Heidelberg is on the Neckar. So ships dock in Speyer (good docking location, exploring of Speyer easy) or Mannheim (docking location industrial, no easy access to the interesting Mannheim) to bus passengers to Heidelberg. Yet ships could go onto the Neckar. Why they do not I have not been able to find out. One reason might be that turning the ship is not possible. That would apply to the 135m vessels only as CroisiEurope for example sails the Neckar. There are more destinations out there to add to international itineraries if one so wants and overcomes the language barrier.

 

One example of a new destination on the Rhine: Duisburg. The first river cruise went there in April of last year. Viking is building its own dock there.

 

The only problem that will not go away is the impending longer queueing at locks.

 

notamermaid

 

Notamermaid, I think that you have the right idea. I agree that creative itineraries would help a lot. The example of CroisiEurope on the Neckar is a good one. A look on their website shows a lot of other fascinating itineraries. For instance, they offer an Amsterdam to Berlin trip--all via ship. They also have several cruises that go north from Berlin that look intriguing.

 

FuelScience

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I lived on the Neckar for over a year. It's a river only in your mind part of the year. See reports on the Elbe cruises. The truth is most all of the commercial river traffic takes place on a canal that runs beside the stream. In Summer one can wade completely across vast sections of the river, if the pollution didn't get them first!

 

Enjoy the beautiful drive or the train ride between Heidelberg and Neckarsulm , with all the ruins and vineyards along the way, because making a boat trip out of it isn't going to happen.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So how is the industry doing? Still doing very well indeed, it seems. New vessels for 2017 have been ordered, vessels will be refurbished, a "new" company has entered the river cruising market (Crystal River Cruises) and there is a new company structure for river cruise vessels in Vietnam (CroisiEurope).

 

This is an article from 21 April 2016 that expands on articles previously mentioned on this thread and others published by cruisecritic. The article does not mention, however, vessels that have been ordered by some other European companies and those built for charter by several operators.

 

http://www.passengership.info/news/view,record-orders-for-river-cruise_42678.htm

 

notamermaid

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After Crystal's step into the river cruising market the author of this article wonders which company migth be next: http://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/what-other-ocean-cruise-companies-could-enter-the-river-market.html

 

Not a far-fetched idea at all, but one that has getting me slightly worried. More ships in the same towns/ports, etc., etc. Or will companies begin to include other ports? Who would want to leave out Vienna on the Danube or Strasbourg on the Rhine, I wonder?

 

notamermaid

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probably inevitable that other docking places will occur and a good idea to spread the business opportunities around.

 

on a Avalon cruise we were docked in Roth and bussed to Nuremberg. there was a ceremony to open the new docking place and celebrations and speeches for the locals and passengers. quite festive.

 

lots of charming places along the rivers of Europe. repeat travellers may like to visit somewhere new too.

 

we will be doing Budapest to Amsterdam with AMA and are looking forward to our 1st time in Budapest, we will have 5 nights pre cruise. its a great way to travel.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ever wondered just exactly how many cruise ships sail the rivers? Well, I do not know if there is a comprehensive list of all of them (I mean one that you and me can access easily) but with the help of this list we can do some maths and come close:

 

http://www.swiss-ships.ch/rheinschiffe/ch-rheinlisten/aktuelle-ch-rheinschiffsliste.pdf

 

It lists all the ships registered in Switzerland as of 12 June 2016. Of those ships the ones with the abbreviation KFGS (Kabinenfahrgastschiffe or passenger vessels with cabins) under the heading Typ are river cruise ships. There are 127. 49 (!) of those are Viking ships.

 

What about other companies? CroisiEurope's ships are registered in France (33 I think when I exclude what I think are the exceptions). Arosa and some other companies together have some 45 ships. On top of that there are an estimated 6 from Bulgaria, at least 30 Russian ones, the Dutch registration are a mixed bunch of Dutch and German operated ships - My guess is 15plus. Then there are the ones on the Douro, I think seven at the moment?

 

For the USA I could find six.

 

Unbelievably, around 50 ships are registered in Malta.

 

Added to that are the "odd" countries in Asia, etc. adding another 20 or so to the lot.

 

My calculation is 336!

 

But I am sure I have forgotten some.

 

Remember these are not the ones sailing in Europe, but all the ships. As things stand at the moment - with the popularity of river cruising and all the new-builts in the pipeline - by April next year I will have to count again. :)

 

notamermaid

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This list doesn't seem to have most of the Uniworld ships. Some of the older ones were registered in Switzerland, but I can't find many of their other ships. I don't know where they are registered; it doesn't show on the website.

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There is a list of where ships are registered on Wiki although I tend to take Wiki with a large pinch of salt. Scenic register in Malta but I'm sure when we first cruised with them some where registered in Switzerland, it's all tied up with cost.

Another point is that some of the established lines when they refurbish are going for less passengers rather than more, maybe this will be a trend for the so called more upmarket cruise lines. CA

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gnome12,

 

It is a little (British understatement) chaotic with some ships and some companies. Indeed, they are re-registered sometimes and yes, Canal archive, often to Malta. Avalon has most (or almost all?) ships registered in Germany. The Uniworld SS Catherine is registered, somewhat unusually, in the Netherlands: http://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=721 Just an example.

 

Change of ownership sometimes means a change of registration but it is not the norm.

 

I tend to think that marinetraffic and similar sites will be quite accurate as regards the registration.

 

Canal archive,

 

there is definitely a trend with some cruise lines to go for fewer passengers on their ships, but some do build the 135m vessels. Some go for the smaller version. CroisiEurope, by the way, is sticking to their "policy" of 110m or smaller. They have not got a larger boat in their portfolio.

 

As regards Uniworld: I mentioned in another thread that for the Seine they are building a boat of 125m. That is such an unusual length that I have wondered if they talked to the French authorities and asked "what is the maximum you will allow us to turn around with in downtown Paris?" or some other river logistics connected issue. Really, just wondering.

 

notamermaid

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I did this about 6 years ago when I was 50 with my elderly mother and just to verify what someone said.. "slow pace"

 

if you are no good at self entertaining (i.e. enjoying history, scenery, sightseeing at every port) then these cruises are not for you. The nearly 3-1 ratio was great and the food was terrific. Never felt crowded or rushed although the ship was full and every cabin is terrific. 1st class coaches to take you to the sites along with great guides. But... no real entertainment at night, expensive cocktails, no real movies, no casino, no rock wall. Its certainly not a cruise for everyone but for the right cruiser.. its perfect@;)

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Notamermaid, a couple of years ago we sailed on the inaugural Seine cruise on Scenic Gem she is 110 metres long to allow her to use all the locks on the Seine and to dock in Honfluer, not that we did as the French authorities had not signed the required paperwork.

Scenic Azure is only 80 meters to fit on the Douro and the other Europe Scenic vessels are 135 metres long so they can fit in the locks on the other Europian waterways.

Lock width and length govern all shipping even on our British tiny canals compared with the rest of Europe.

As it is a lot of the locks will take two river cruise ships but some ships are just that bit wider so two will not fit therefore slowing the locking up and down.

 

At least the authorities seem to now be either billing the cruise companies direct or charging in advance. The captain of our first cruise had to pay in cash on at least two occasions. CA

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My current best guest is that within five (5) years at most, maybe as little as two (2) years, we will see river cruise itineraries shorten. The distances down river that one once traveled in five days will become seven day itineraries. The reason will be the inability of the river boats to schedule reservations through the locks. The ships will have to spend more time docked in many of the major cities than they currently do. This could produce good results or poor ones depending upon the city docked. Those boats are often billed by the hour for how long they are at dock, so expenses will likewise increase. This doesn't even address the increase in rafting that will occur! :eek: It is also highly likely to increase the amount of night cruising, thus lessening the time one gets to enjoy what can be beautiful scenery along the river, and one of the reasons we take the tours to start with!

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Notamermaid, a couple of years ago we sailed on the inaugural Seine cruise on Scenic Gem she is 110 metres long to allow her to use all the locks on the Seine and to dock in Honfluer, not that we did as the French authorities had not signed the required paperwork.

Scenic Azure is only 80 meters to fit on the Douro and the other Europe Scenic vessels are 135 metres long so they can fit in the locks on the other Europian waterways.

Lock width and length govern all shipping even on our British tiny canals compared with the rest of Europe.

As it is a lot of the locks will take two river cruise ships but some ships are just that bit wider so two will not fit therefore slowing the locking up and down.

 

At least the authorities seem to now be either billing the cruise companies direct or charging in advance. The captain of our first cruise had to pay in cash on at least two occasions. CA

 

Canal Archive,

 

I remember from my river cruise that there was a mention of "scheduled to go through this lock at such and such a time". Itineraries are carefully planned and with more ships I am sure it can feel hurried and hectic to try to stick to the time slot for the lock. Not a good thought ...

 

Pay in cash??? That must have been an odd sight in these modern times.

 

notamermaid

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My current best guest is that within five (5) years at most, maybe as little as two (2) years, we will see river cruise itineraries shorten. The distances down river that one once traveled in five days will become seven day itineraries. The reason will be the inability of the river boats to schedule reservations through the locks. The ships will have to spend more time docked in many of the major cities than they currently do. This could produce good results or poor ones depending upon the city docked. Those boats are often billed by the hour for how long they are at dock, so expenses will likewise increase. This doesn't even address the increase in rafting that will occur! :eek: It is also highly likely to increase the amount of night cruising, thus lessening the time one gets to enjoy what can be beautiful scenery along the river, and one of the reasons we take the tours to start with!

 

I do hope you this scenario will not happen. Local authorities and the river traffic institutions are working on these issues. See next post.

 

notamermaid

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Here is an example of how a town, Bamberg, is tackling the issues it faces with the increase in river cruise traffic:

 

http://www.seatrade-cruise.com/news/news-headlines/bamberg-tackling-shoreside-issues-related-to-increasing-river-cruise-traffic.html?nspPage=94

 

It says in the report that Bamberg "received 796 riverships last year, up 243 from 2013." That is a lot, and I can understand that even such a town that is used to tourism due to its status as a UNESCO world heritage site would struggle with this increase.

 

Bamberg, by the way, lies a little upstream from the confluence of its river Regnitz with the Main. When travelling through Bamberg ships use the Main-Danube-Canal, apart from the short stretch at the confluence where it is indeed the Regnitz.

 

I can see a town like Rüdesheim on the Rhine struggling with the increase in tourism, seeing that it is smaller in actual "interesting for tourism sites" size than Bamberg. Here also river cruise tourists have mentioned on CC that they have had to dock "further out". In Rüdesheim length is a real problem, as I know from a local news report. CroisiEurope with its 110m boats can dock right at the town centre, next to the dock of the local cruise boats.

 

But more on that later.

 

notamermaid

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last month our local television station SWR published a (text-only) article online with the title “The Rhine needs new landing stages”

 

I have mentioned before that some towns are struggling with the increased demand of river cruise ship companies for infrastructure of any kind.

 

One major concern is the lack of landing stages that are able and allowed to accommodate the large ships of 135m. So what is the situation on the Rhine as described in the article?

 

Here is a shortened translation:

 

Phoenix Reisen (a German company) critizes the fact that “the growth in infrastructure cannot keep up with the increase in the number of ships sailing”.

 

The US-based company Avalon Waterways declared, that South of Mainz more places for ships to dock are needed.

 

Towns react to the wishes of the river cruising companies as the passengers visiting the town create revenue in the local hospitality trade. Speyer, for example has just given permission for the building of a new landing stage as mainly in the high season between April and October all the demand for docking could not be met, according to the town council.

 

Koblenz has seen a steady increase in the number of dockings. The trend towards larger ships creates problems there as currently only two large ships can dock at the same time.

 

In Ludwigshafen, where there is not yet a landing stage, an owner of a shopping centre is planning a place to dock in front of the building complex for Spring 2017. A local harbour in Ludwigshafen would also like to build a landing stage.

 

Bingen still has capacities, here the landing stage is not fully booked during the season as tourists prefer to see the internationally more well-known Rüdesheim on the other side of the Rhine.

 

Mainz is able to fill its five landing stages well with dockings during the high season and during Advent.

 

To fulfill the increasing demand for infrastructure for the large ships Speyer will build its landing stage for the 135m ships.

 

The landing stage in Bingen is already suitable for the large ships, complete with fresh water and waste water system.

 

To satisfy the river cruise companies towns need to step up their game. A spokesperson for Avalon put it this way: “To those who offer interesting tourist attractions, a good infrastructure and great food we will come.”

 

notamermaid

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Many thanks for your interesting, informative, and realistic information about the increasingly 'chancey' docking situation on European rivers. Current and future cruisers need to know about this and the cruise companies need to publicly adjust their itineraries to avoid customer disappointment and dissatisfaction.

 

Sadly, it looks as though the river cruises will become mostly water busses connecting with land busses.:(

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We have seen at least two new mooring pontoons being built over our last two cruises and each time talking to the locals they want more built. No wonder it's not only the money but the cuddos that the area gains from more visitors. The tourist pound/dollar/euro is welcome wherever we go. CA

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yes I think its a good idea to have new stopping places. often we have sailed past some pretty places and wondered why we could not stop there instead of the same often crowded areas. especially for repeat trips it would be nice to vary the stopping places.

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