The River Cruise Line Sees Growing Theme Cruise Demand

Lady Anne

While many European cruises take passengers past a queen’s palace, only one is all out Queen themed. As an arm of Arena Travel, The River Cruise Line is able to build on its parent company’s vast specialized offerings. Knitters, quilters, card players, history and art buffs, and, yes, rabid fans of Brian May and Freddie Mercury can book niche motif cruises.

“We are seeing a growing demand for themed cruises or cruises with experts onboard, for example gardening, battlefield cruises, crafting, bridge holidays, etc.,” said Pat Tempest, marketing and communications manager for the Market Harborough, UK-based cruise line. Tempest wasn’t on the Queen-themed cruise but said it received strong favorable feedback, she said in the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

The line books space on 14 ships operated by other brands and has exclusive charter agreements with two other ships. The River Cruise Line staffs and operates the 75-passenger Lady Anne and, beginning in 2020, the 192-passenger Arena.

Most passengers are over 55 and sourced from the UK, she said. They also host many British expats from Europe and overseas – as well as other nationalities. The line works in conjunction with the Royal British Legion, which charters Remembrance Day cruises.

The three-star, 90-meter long,  Lady Anne was first launched 116 years ago, in 1903. “It’s what we call our heritage ship,” Tempest said. “She’s small and has a lot of character.”

In contrast, the 135-meter long Arena was launched in 2005. It’s a four-star experience. All cabins have French balconies.

“They’re not huge, massive ships. It’s got a nice intimate atmosphere onboard. It’s a stylish ship,” she said.

Every cruise has a tour director who accompanies guests ashore. The smaller ships are often able to dock in city centers.

“Cruises along the Rhine are very popular, as well as our cruises along the Danube to Vienna and Budapest, with some continuing to the Black Sea. Our spring cruises in Holland visiting the famous Keukenhof Gardens are always appealing too,” Tempest said.

The River Cruise Line sails the Dutch waterways, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Danube, Douro, Thames, Black Sea, the Volga, and Rhone. In 2020 it adds lagoon cruising to Venice and, in the Iberian peninsula, a  Guadalquivir cruise from Seville.

About the 2020 European Cruise River Market Report 

The new European Cruise Market Report provides a comprehensive look at the river cruise business with capacity metrics by river and brand, company profiles and much more. 100+ pages of insights. Learn more. 

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