As the founder, editor and publisher of River Cruise Advisor, I am extremely gratified by the level of engagement we have with our readers. You write to inform us, you query us with your questions, you comment when you can add to the discussion and whenever we send a survey, you respond with a slew of opinions, which collectively can sometimes be in the high hundreds. Thank you for being part of our community.
Our survey question last week was no exception. We asked how we were doing and you responded generously. Our goal was to learn how we could better provide you with the information that you want as we move into 2016. This post outlines a few changes, based on your responses, for River Cruise Advisor.
In 2016, More Inclusiveness
A few readers told us that they wished that we covered all of the river cruise lines. I’ve always believed in full transparency and honest discussions, so I don’t mind telling you that in order for this website to operate, we have to balance our need to make a living with our goal to be the consumer advocate.
As editor, I strive to eliminate from our commentary biases for or against any particular cruise line. That said, our site exists because of the support of several river cruise companies. Those same companies are also active in keeping us informed about developments related to their brands, inviting us (along with journalists from other publications) on press trips and making sure we experience their products firsthand.
One reader suggested we pay for our trips and charge subscription fees for our site. That’s a business model that would be unsustainable for us. Would you pay a hefty subscription fee? I doubt it.
We choose instead to continue offering free access to all of our content. We have found the best balance that we could, and our survey tells us that for most of you, that balance works. “I like everything about River Cruise Advisor,” responded one reader to our survey. “Nowhere have I found the information that you possess — not on other websites nor from travel agents.” Another reader told us: “I find more useful information on your site than in any of the three books that I purchased on river cruise ships.”
Rest assured that we are making the effort to be more inclusive than we are now, and we’re hoping that in 2016, we will see more river cruise companies represented on River Cruise Advisor.
Pricing & Currency Conversions
Readers tell us that they would like for us to talk more about the cost of river cruising. We do discuss general guidelines in our Price Comparison charts. Those charts outline comparative pricing for various river cruise regions in Europe. You can learn, for example, How Douro River Cruise Prices Compare or How Prices Compare for River Cruises Between Amsterdam & Budapest.
In 2016, we plan to bring you posts about special offers, and in that spirit, we’re running an article this week about some of the exceptional values currently available for river cruises in 2016.
A reader from Australia asked that we convert prices to Aussie dollars. We scratched our heads on that one. If we did so, what would the Dutchman say? Or the Brit? The Scandinavian? Our neighbors up in Canada? Can you imagine if we converted to all currencies? Our copy would read like, “This river cruise cost US$2000, CAN$3000, AUS$3000, £1500, €1900 SEK10,000.” To those of you Down Under and closer abroad, keep a calculator handy.
Comparisons & Live Voyage Reports
Some of you said you were glad that our website was searchable. I use the search feature everyday, and I encourage you to do the same if you’re struggling to find posts about a particular company, river cruise or destination.
Another reader told us, “I especially like the charts with comparisons of the river cruise companies and ships.” We have lots of charts, the most popular featuring highlights of what’s included on river cruises, company-by-company.
Another said: “I like the scope of information you cover from staterooms to shore trips and how various lines compare for the same region. It makes choosing the right trip much easier for the novice traveler.”
People love our photos and also our insights into new river cruising destinations. Folks said they rely on us to tell them where to go next. “I find the articles and reviews useful when making plans for another river cruise,” wrote one reader. Another reader who had done three river cruises already added: “The stories help us to choose which cruise line to use next.”
Many said they like our day-by-day reports, such as Aaron’s recent ride along the Irrawaddy. We’ll be doing more of those in 2016. “I love the detailed descriptions … both good and bad … of various cruises,” another wrote. “It literally puts me on the cruise and gives me much needed information for making decisions for future cruises. Your photography is the icing on the cake.”
Quite a few of you said that you appreciated our personal replies to your questions. Continue to write to us. We enjoy hearing – and learning – from you.
We are building a community of people who have an interest in river cruising, or if you feel as I do, who love river cruising. After all, what’s not to love? For starters, river cruising is extremely accessible. You cruise through the heart of Europe, dock both in small towns and large cities. You never tender ashore (except on some river cruises in Asia), and the major attractions are usually just steps away – or an easy bike ride away – from your stateroom.
“I am learning so much about river cruising by reading River Cruise Advisor,” one reader responded. “I am doing my first river cruise in 2016 from Amsterdam to Budapest … I will certainly be looking at others in the future.”
Another told us: ” … it has taken me years to book my first river cruise which is, in fact, not until May. I think you had a big impact on that.” And yet another said: “You help us to make educated decisions about our river cruise experiences.”
Those sentiments were gratifying for us to read, because we work hard to create posts of significant value, to organize the site so that you can easily navigate it and to always remain relevant to your needs. By quite a few counts, we appear to be doing a good job, and for that, I have to give credit to the team — there are only three of us: Aaron Saunders, Lauri Wakefield and me.
“If you changed it in any way, it would be sad,” wrote one reader. “It is the best and so very helpful. You seem to answer all my questions before I ask them.”
We will always work in a manner that helps both those who are initiated in river cruising and those who are not to make informed decisions about one of our favorite forms of travel. Our goal is to help you have the best river cruise experience possible. “Just keep on doing what you are doing and I will be extremely happy,” responded one reader.
Again, thank you for being part of our community. We’ll “keep on doing what we’re doing,” and a bit more in 2016.