I spent Tuesday morning cruising the Thames with 100 travel agents and 13 river cruise operators.

Before the Clia event, I wasn’t aware there were 13 river cruise operators wanting to sell through UK travel agents.

But the City Cruises boat we were on was heaving – and unsurprisingly so, given that river cruise has seen significant growth over the past few years.

It’s off a low base, but with the outbound market only now showing signs of recovery and ocean cruise growth slowed to just 1.5%, the fact river cruise grew 22% last year is very encouraging.

And river cruise lines need agents to sell them – and will support and reward those who do.

Just last week, I spoke to an operator promising fam trips and increased commission; and I have a meeting this week with a previously direct-sell brand now keen to sell through the trade.

This is in keeping with a general trend of river cruise lines wanting to communicate more frequently with good agents.

In the first four months of this year, we have seen a 64% increase in marketing activity in Travel Weekly by river cruise lines compared with the same period in 2013.

Furthermore, data from our Aspire Luxury Travel Club also shows that river cruise bookings have jumped from 3% to 9% of all logged cruise bookings over the past four years.

It’s a good news story for all – except, perhaps, for one agent I spoke to who said he’d specialised in river cruise for years and was now miffed so many of his peers were jumping on the bandwagon! Happily, with so many new ships being launched, there is more than enough to go around.