But is it really so bad? Here's what we see happening based on our business. Go Astro Travel, as part of the Avoya Travel Network does a significant business with European River Cruise industry, so we feel we have a pretty good pulse on what's happening. Hint: it's really not so gloomy.
There's no doubt about it, there's more availability on river cruises than ever before. But there are several causes including a huge increase in capacity over the past few years. Viking for example launched 52 Longships in Europe in five years. It launched 12 in 2015, following a record-breaking 18 in 2014 according to Travel Weekly. In years past, unless you booked 6 - 8 months ahead of time, you would not be able to get onto a river cruise. This year, we see good availability even for cruises a month or two out.
Don't let the bad guys win
We saw some uptick in cancellations due to the recent terrorist events, but certainly nothing catastrophic. In fact our bookings are running slightly ahead of last years' bookings. Most travelers understand the world is an unpredictable place and understand that statistically it is very improbable that they will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And they certainly don't want the terrorists to win (ie: be terrified at traveling).
It's a big world
Certainly France is soft but there's been an uptick in Ireland, Iceland and Scandinavia in Europe while US National Parks, Alaska, Hawaii and the South Pacific are all seeing an increased activity as well.
Certain river cruise companies are doing some innovative things to offset weakness in their traditional travel demographics. AmaWaterways for example, has paired up with Adventures by Disney (family oriented trips) and Backroads (active bicycling adventure trips) to broaden their appeal. They have been very successful at filling up their ships.
Most of the river cruise companies are offering promotions and discounts to keep their ships. Which means this is a great time to be opportunistic and go on a European River Cruise. There are some great bargains available.
The strength of the US dollar also makes this a great time to travel to Europe. At the time of this writing (Sept 2016), $1 = 0.9 Euro's. This makes it relatively inexpensive for Americans to go to Europe. And while the Canadian dollar is currently weak relative to the USD, many river cruise companies have adjusted their pricing in CAD to be on par with USD payments.
In summary, from our leads and bookings, while we see some slowing in bookings to Europe overall people are still traveling. Savvy travelers are taking advantage of several factors to book European River Cruises.