Saga sees boom in first time river cruisers with more than half of bookings coming from new travellers

Spirit of The Rhine (Courtesy Saga)Travellers new to river cruising represented more than half of Saga’s bookings in the last six months (January 31 to July 31, 2023), indicating that the perfect way to take several city breaks in one trip – from a ship – is booming.

That’s an increase of 32% versus the same period in 2019 (previously 39.76%) and an increase of 21% since the same time frame in 2022 (43.22%).

In fact, they’re proving so popular the cruise line now only has some limited availability on its October and November 2023 cruises left, but continues to offer its early booking discounts for guests choosing a 2024 itinerary.

Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, said: “More than half of our guests this year are river cruising for the first time – an increase of 32% versus 2019 and 21% versus last year”.

“We put that down to a few key factors. Savvy travellers are realising they can take five or six city breaks in just one trip, all from the comfort of one of our boutique ships – there’s no need to unpack in between each destination. They’re also aware that all-inclusive makes a huge difference as everything from food and drink to Wi-Fi and gratuities are included so there’s no hidden costs to pay at the end.”

“We have also introduced more seven-day cruise options, reducing the number of 14-day trips and this has proved hugely popular for people who want to test river cruising and we look forward to welcoming them back again for our 2024 season.”

Shorter options available for 2024 with up to 25% early booking discount currently applied, include: the seven-night all-inclusive Windmills and Tulips of Holland cruise from £1,804 per person; Vienna and the Blue Danube, and a week-long all-inclusive itinerary costing from £1,519 per person.

Saga all-inclusive river cruises include free Wi-Fi, travel insurance and the option to travel on back-to-back cruises. Guests can also take advantage of the included chauffeur service to take them from home to either the airport or St Pancras, and back on their return. Alternatively, guests wishing to drive to the airport themselves will be offered free parking. Transfers are also included to/from the ships.

There are no hidden costs on-board either with all dining and house drinks (including a selection of cocktails, draft beers and lagers, wines, spirits, mixers, and soft drinks), Wi-Fi, gratuities, sightseeing tours in selected ports, entertainment, luggage porterage and travel insurance also included. Saga also offers a price promise, whereby if the price of the cruise ever drops, guests who have paid the higher price will get the value difference.

Windmills and Tulips of Holland departs the UK on 28 March 2024 via flight or Eurostar and guests will join Spirit of the Rhine in Amsterdam. This is peak tulip season with visits to Enkhuizen and Lelystad, set along the Markermeer lake, plus colourful displays at Keukenhof Gardens. There is also an included tour of Rotterdam and the opportunity to get up close to the Kinderdijk Windmills. This seven-night all-inclusive cruise is currently available with 20% off the full fare for early bookers, with prices from £1,804 per person. There’s also an alternative departure on April 9, 2024.

Vienna and the Blue Danube departs from a range of UK airports on 22 March 2024 to Vienna where guests will join Spirit of the Danube for a seven-night all-inclusive cruise through Austria and Germany. From Vienna the ship sails to the village of Dürnstein with its picturesque setting beneath the ruins of Kuenringer Castle. Continuing to Linz, there’s the option to explore elegant Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and setting for ‘The Sound of Music’. Over the border into Passau, the most easterly city in Bavaria for an included walking tour and then on to Melk, known for its Benedictine Abbey, and Tulln with an included excursion to the Garden Tulln. Finally the ship returns to Vienna for an included city tour. This cruise is currently available with 20% off the full fare for early bookers, with prices from £1,519 per person.

(Saga sees boom in first time river cruisers with more than half of bookings coming from new travellers – Saga)