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River cruise hits record as growth slows

The number of river cruises taken by British and Irish passengers has reached record levels but the rate of growth has slowed by 11%.

Latest Clia figures, announced this morning, show that 232,300 river cruises were taken last year – up by 21,900, or 10.4% year on year.

That compares with a 21% hike in 2017 when the annual total jumped by 36,000 to 210,400.

Clia UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer said the 2018 figures were “extremely positive”.

He dismissed suggestions that last summer’s heatwave, which disrupted hundreds of departures due to low water levels, affected numbers. Instead, he pointed to the number of beds available to British and Irish passengers.

Harmer told Travel Weekly: “The UK is competing with other nationalities for those beds. If the North American market decides to book early there will be less beds available for other markets.

“10% growth in any holiday sector is extremely positive.

“The figures show that agents have embraced river cruise holidays both for the range of products and experiences on offer and the level of investment that the cruise lines have put in. It is good growth.”

Clia said the average length of a river cruise in Europe increased “slightly” to eight nights and non-Europe cruises had an average length of 6.7 nights, an increase of 3.1% from 2017.

A toal of 18 new vessels are due to launch between now and 2020.

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