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river cruising

Bike tours are a great way to see the countryside and get some exercise.

Bike tours are a great way to see the countryside and get some exercise.

I’m always glad to run guest posts that contain valuable information for baby boomer travelers, and my friend Samantha Scott at StrideTravel.com has put together a good compendium of the most popular trends in boomer travel today — as well as some excellent suggestions for tour companies that will help you join in the fun.

Samantha’s post strikes on many of the themes I’ve been discussing here for nearly three years now: that baby boomers are dedicated travelers and life-long learners, love to take river cruises and travel with their grandchildren, are embracing the wide diversity of tours now available — including adventure travel — and are far more tech savvy than is generally believed.

While not a boomer herself, Samantha “gets it” — boomers are big travelers, are open to and eager for new experiences,… Continue reading

Yangtze River, China: Sunrise over the Three Gorges. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Yangtze River, China: Sunrise over the Three Gorges. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

I spent much of the fall of 2015 taking river cruises, in China and Europe. China’s Yangtze and Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, and Main rivers were all on the itineraries.

I’ve already blogged about the Yangtze cruise here and will write about the two European river cruises as time goes along (one was for a magazine, so I’ll have to wait for that article to appear in the spring of 2016 before writing about it here, but my Danube cruise accounts will appear in this space shortly).

I was already sold on river cruising before taking the last three — two of my past favorites were the Nile in Egypt and the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans — but with every new river cruise I take, the more I like them.

As much as… Continue reading

A Viking longship cruises the Rhine. Photo from Viking Cruises.

A Viking longship cruises the Rhine. Photo from Viking Cruises.

River cruising has exploded in popularity over the past decade. River cruise lines are rapidly expanding from their strongholds in Europe into North America, Asia, Africa, and South America, adding new ships and innovations such as all-weather “indoor balconies” – sitting rooms facing floor-to-ceiling windows — every year.

It’s recently become the hottest segment of the cruise industry, with no signs of slowing down. Here are some reasons why:

  • River cruising is more intimate than ocean cruising. Rather than the multi-thousand-passenger megaships that resemble floating cities — with built-in malls, casinos, and giant waterslides – the long, sleek river cruise ships typically hold from 120-200 passengers. And most won’t be getting any larger, due to the constraints posed by passing through locks and canals and under bridges. With fewer passengers, you won’t have to fight… Continue reading

First in a three-part series. 

While all European rivers offer memorable scenery and an alluring array of port stops ranging from big cities to atmospheric villages, they also differ from each other in significant ways. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which river cruise is right for you. (Keep in mind that itineraries may vary a bit among the different cruise lines.)

The Danube

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

>Europe’s second longest river is second to none in romance, scenic beauty and high culture. Most one-week Danube itineraries run between Nuremberg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, with stops in Vienna, Austria, and a voyage through Austria’s scenic Wachau Valley along the way. The Wachau Valley features the town of Dȕrnstein – where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned during the Crusades – and the nearby town of Melk, home to a… Continue reading

American Cruise Lines' paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi. Photo from American Cruise Lines.

American Cruise Lines’ paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi. Photo from American Cruise Lines.

River cruising is the hottest trend in the cruise world right now, and not just in Europe. It’s also thriving right here in the United States — and the aptly named American Cruise Lines (ACL)  is leading the
way.

ACL has ships cruising the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, the Hudson River in upstate New York, the Intracoastal Waterway in the Southeastern U.S., and many more.

But my wife, Catharine, and I were most intrigued by ACL’s cruise down the lower Mississippi — from Memphis to New Orleans — partly because it was an area of the country we hadn’t explored as much as some others, and partly because the ship, the Queen of the Mississippi, was built in the style of an old-fashioned paddle wheeler, allowing us to return to Mark… Continue reading

A boat sails through Qutang Gorge, one of the fabled Three Gorges, along China's Yangtze River. Photo by Liu Liqun/ChinaStock.

A boat sails through Qutang Gorge, one of the fabled Three Gorges, along China’s Yangtze River. Photo by Liu Liqun/ChinaStock.

River cruising has been one of our big topics recently, and for good reason: it’s the hottest segment of the cruising market, and it’s become a global craze, especially popular among baby boomers.

Asia is one of river cruising’s new hotspots, and while China’s Yangtze River cruises have been around for a while,  it’s hard to think of a better way to experience the country than cruising through China’s heartland, with visits to Shanghai and Beijing on either end of a nine-day river voyage.

Pacific Delight Tours, one of America’s leading tour operators to China, has just announced a two-week all-inclusive package that includes those three highlights — as well as transpacific airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco to boot (airfare from JFK in New York will… Continue reading

Uniworld's River Victoria sails Russian waterways. Photo from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

Uniworld’s River Victoria sails Russian waterways. Photo from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

River cruising has gone global, in a big way.

In yesterday’s post, we had a look at the phenomenal rise of European river cruising over the past few years, to the degree that many 2014 cruises are already sold out or nearly sold out.

Baby boomer travelers are the primary driving force behind the river cruise phenomenon, which has averaged a 14 percent annual growth over the past decade.  (Just 20 years ago, most European river cruises were day cruises only.)

One line alone, Viking River Cruises — which caters mainly to baby boomers —  will soon have 48 river cruise ships operating on European waterways, with 30 of them launched in the past three years.

In Russia, a series of waterways links Moscow and St. Petersburg. Viking, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Imperial River… Continue reading

Scenic Cruises delivers just that and more.

Scenic Cruises delivers just that and more.

Sure, most European river cruises are scenic. But I know of only one company bold enough to capitalize the “S” and “C” and call itself, simply, Scenic Cruises.

That takes confidence, but Scenic Cruises has staked a claim to those capital letters.

How? By setting the pace for innovations in European river cruising — from more spacious viewing areas to all-inclusive pricing to exclusive and stimulating land excursions — this Australian-owned company has helped make river cruising one of the hottest segments of the cruise industry, attracting baby boomers and younger travelers alike.

No wonder: slowly wending your way down some of the world’s most romantic, historic rivers offers a relaxed, intimate perspective on Europe like no other. And unlike sea cruises, you’re always close to land and won’t get seasick.

While there are plenty of reasons to take a European river… Continue reading

One of the big developments in cruising in the past few years is the rapid rise of river cruising, which has a big marketing advantage over ocean cruising among a certain segment of the population: namely, those who don’t like the idea of being out in the ocean on a big ship.

Emerald Waterways features an innovative

Emerald Waterways features an innovative “indoor balcony” in some cabins. Photo from Emerald Waterways.

Whether it’s fear of open water, fear of getting seasick, fear of overcrowding, or fear of being on a big ship if a crisis strikes at sea — such as some of the highly publicized events of the past year or two — a number of people just won’t consider taking a traditional ocean cruise. (No matter how much I or many other cruising advocates try to convince them otherwise.)

River cruising, on the other hand, enables you to stay close to land on… Continue reading

Captain Cook Cruises' 130-passenger vessel sails through Fiji. Photo by Clark Norton

Captain Cook Cruises’ 130-passenger vessel sails through Fiji. Photo by Clark Norton

Possibly due in part to recent bad publicity about large ocean cruising vessels gone wrong, travel agents are seeing an upsurge in interest in small ship and river cruising, according to an internal American Express Travel survey released during a recent cruise industry conference in Vancouver.

The survey of 250 Amex agents showed that 38 percent of them ranked small ship cruises as their highest-demand voyages, followed by megaships at 31 percent and river cruises at 27 percent.

This dovetails with my own surveys of baby boomer travelers, who have often told me they would never consider taking a cruise — until I ask about small ship and river cruises. Then I often get this kind of reply: “Oh, those are different — I’d try them.”

Megaships carrying thousands of passengers — with their myriad on-board activities, entertainments,… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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