We’re ten days into the New Year, and here at River Cruise Advisor, that means it’s time to issue our annual January river cruise advice: Book now.
Whether you’re looking at sailing the Amazon or the Yangtze, booking early is the name of the game in the river cruise industry, and at no time has that ever been more true than now.
Europe remains an enormously popular destination for river cruising. But if you’re planning to partake in the springtime Tulips and Windmills voyages that highlight the best of the Netherlands during its most vibrant season, we have bad news: A quick check of the Viking Rivers website shows nearly all departure dates in March are already sold out; a handful of dates in April and May still remain.
What makes this more noteworthy is the fact that Viking has not one, but eight, of its new Viking Longships operating this itinerary.
Regardless of river, destination or time of year, it’s not too early to book Europe; in fact, if you have aspirations of heading to the Christmas Markets along the Danube or the Rhine next year, you might want to think about putting a deposit down now. Last year, most of the choice departure dates and staterooms started to sell out in the summer.
Special events and theme voyages are also likely to sell out fast. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy with a special Paris & Normandy voyage that takes guests to some of the most hallowed sites, from the D-Day Museum in Mulberry Harbour to the American Cemetery. The line will also offer excursions to Juno Beach, where Canadian and UK troops pushed inland; and Omaha Beach, where American landings were depicted and popularized by the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan.
Uniworld’s eight-day sailing departs roundtrip from Paris and includes visits to Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise.
New itineraries are also in high demand. Avalon Waterways launches its first voyages down the mighty Amazon River this year, while AmaWaterways explores Myanmar (Burma) for the first time aboard the intimate, 56-guest AmaPura. Exotic voyages like these are extremely popular with travellers looking to experience unique and off-the-beaten path locales, and the relatively low passenger counts aboard these vessels mean that spaces can get snapped up quickly.
In short, if you know you want to river cruise this year (or if you think you might), now’s the time to seriously look into it. Unlike some other travel products, last-minute deals in the river cruise world are few and far between; a trend that’s likely to only increase in 2014.
River Cruise Advisor will return on Monday.