The tide is turning and the popularity of luxury cruising for exclusive small groups is on the rise – so much so that, due to popular demand, Luxury Escapes has just launched its very first private charter luxury river cruise.
We’ve already determined that Cruising is Now Cool, but the appeal of exclusive boutique ships for a limited number of guests is more popular than ever – and despite misconceptions that river cruising is solely for the older generation, even honeymooners, couples and young groups are getting on board.
CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) confirmed that 27.2 million passengers were expected to cruise in 2018 (compared to 25.8 million in 2017), a figure which has steadily increased since 2011 – so it’s clear that cruising business is booming. The association has hotly tipped one of the biggest current trends in cruising as ‘transformational cruise travel’, whereby cruisers will return from their trip with ‘a shift in perspective’ after immersing themselves in local culture through authentic experiences, such as guided tours through local villages and visits to local homes. Small-group cruising is the perfect opportunity for travellers to access these exclusive destinations and experiences, which they might not otherwise get to on a large ship.
CruiseCritic.com editor-at-large Carolyn Spencer Brown says there’s a ‘huge shift’ underway to ‘small ship cruising,’ whether luxury, river or expedition trips, saying “people are looking at cruising as a way to be a traveller rather than be tourists” by choosing itineraries and shore excursions “that help you meet local families or learn local culture.”
Tours by Luxury Escapes – Luxury Escapes’ bespoke tour division – has long specialised in curating unforgettable small-group experiences on land, granting insider access to experiences that can’t be found in guide books. The move into river cruising is a new and exciting evolution which promises to unlock even more priceless experiences for the increasingly discerning traveller.
“We have seen an increased demand from our members for all different kinds of touring, of which cruising in particular has seen a lot of interest of late,” says John Saporito, Product Manager for Tours by Luxury Escapes. “It allows the luxury of unpacking once and sitting back and enjoying more time sightseeing and socialising, and less time packing and unpacking moving from hotel to hotel. Luxury river cruising also has the advantages of accessing small towns and villages that are inaccessible by the larger coaches and untouched by the normal tourist market, giving a more authentic local experience.”
Whilst Tours by Luxury Escapes has worked with luxury cruise brands such as Sanctuary Retreats in China and Egypt, Aqua Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia and The Strand in Myanmar as part of its land packages, this is the first time Luxury Escapes has chartered its own specialty cruise.
“After the success of our Created by LE tours and the positive feedback from our members who had enjoyed short river cruises within these tours, it made sense that the next step in our ever expanding product offering was European river cruising,” says Sonia Pilovska, Head of Tours at Luxury Escapes. “By partnering with one of the finest ships on European waters, and taking exclusive charters, we’ve been able to tailor an experience that falls in line with what LE members have become accustomed to.”
“The smaller luxury cruises are very unique,” adds Luxury Escapes’ Partnerships & Contracting Manager and cruise expert Aaron Corbett. “They can sail into the heart of a city, explore the rivers or even the edges of the earth on a luxury expedition ship. There is a level of luxury which is very intimate, staff members remembering your name and your favourite cocktail in the evening. The personalised service gives you the ability to see the world from a new perspective away from the crowds, immersing yourself among the locals and exploring a culture without thousands of people in tow.”
The exclusive 15-day Luxury Escapes charter accommodates just 171 guests, taking passengers from exotic Budapest to vibrant Amsterdam (or vice versa). On board, guests can indulge in all-inclusive dining with unlimited beverages whilst taking in sights including historic Cologne, the dramatic Rhine Gorge, UNESCO World Heritage sites and picturesque medieval villages together with the assistance of an experienced Luxury Cruise Director.
Want to experience Luxury Escapes first luxury, small-group river cruise for yourself? Check out the exclusive offer here.
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