A slowly growing number of European river cruise lines are looking to court more U.S. customers, in part by offering river cruises for less.
When it comes to river cruising, European passengers are often more price-sensitive than their American counterparts. Consequently, lines such as France-based CroisiEurope, the Austrian Amadeus River Cruises and the U.K.-based Riviera Cruises, which have traditionally catered to Europeans, were already set up to often offer sailings for less than their U.S. competitors. So when they began pushing their product more fervently in the U.S. market in recent years, they did so at very competitive prices.
But they have more to offer than attractive rates. These lines realize it's going to take a bit more than an alluring price tag to court U.S. travelers in a competitive marketplace where the quality of the product has been steadily on the rise.
At the same time these European players have been working to grow their presence stateside, by adding U.S. staff and headquarters and attending travel conferences and trade shows, they've also been investing in their vessels and overall offering.
The interiors of their newest and recently renovated ships are sleeker, and they are upping their game with better food onboard and enhanced shore excursions. In essence, they are embracing many of the trends that river cruise lines catering to the U.S. market a bit longer have embraced, from themed sailings to a greater variety in onboard dining options, from more active excursions to more comfortable staterooms.
These are, however, still European brands, which means there's a more European feel onboard than on lines dedicated mostly to the U.S. market. It's not uncommon to hear multiple languages or have several nationalities onboard the European river cruise companies' vessels, for example.
But for travelers that don't mind or even prefer having that more multi-culti vibe onboard, the European lines could certainly be an option, especially for those that think of river cruising as a cost-prohibitive way to travel.