More and more (young) Dutch people are going on sea and river cruises.

During their vacation they stay on a large ship and sail on the Rhine or moor at Caribbean islands.

Why is this mode of travel becoming more popular?

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the international trade association of cruise lines, 113,000 Dutch people took a cruise in 2018. The year before that, this was 2.2 percent less.

Stefan Driehuijs of Zeetours Cruises also sees that the cruises are becoming more popular.

"The cruise market in the Netherlands is quite small. In Germany, 3 percent of the population goes on a cruise, here it is 1.5 percent. But we certainly see growth in the market."

Cruising has become more accessible, he says.

"People think that cruising is very expensive, but nowadays you can sail along the Canary Islands all week for a few hundred euros. You see five different islands and everything is included on board. Relatively speaking, you lose so much less. "

“It's no longer the stereotypical cruise à la Titanic, with a gala and luxurious clothing and on the dance floor in the evening.”

Stefan Driehuijs, Sea Tours Cruises

In addition, the cruise lines are also doing everything they can to receive other target groups, says Driehuijs.

According to him, ships are becoming more innovative.

Among other things, they are becoming more sustainable.

"I think the Dutch are thinking more and more about how they travel and what the impact of this is on the climate. Some boats are almost completely CO2 neutral."

There is also more and more to do on board.

"It is no longer the stereotypical cruise à la Titanic, with a gala and luxurious clothing and in the evenings on the dance floor. Now you can also dress casually, there are go-kart tracks, there will even be a ship with a roller coaster this year."

Sometimes there are up to twenty restaurants on board, there are theater shows and if you want, you can stay in a bar until the sun comes up.

"And in the morning you will sail to a new destination, where you can explore freely or book an excursion. You are actually staying at a floating resort."

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Not just seniors on board anymore

The average age of the Dutch cruise passenger in 2017 was 53 years old.

According to CLIA, this is not a deviation from the previous year.

Jeroen Biesheuvel of ANWB Reizen, however, sees that the target group is rejuvenating.

"A cruise holiday is very suitable for families with children or a three-generation holiday with grandparents. There are many activities for young and old. Shipping companies are increasingly responding to this by offering children's discounts and an entertainment program."

According to Driehuijs, it is indeed not only more seniors who get on board.

"Of course they have the most time, but we have seen much more rejuvenation in recent years. Young families with babies, for example, like it when their child is cared for if they want to do something."

Driehuijs has spotted another trend: the world cruise.

"With that you sail around the world for a year. Those cruises are always sold out in no time."

Cruise ship on the river Elbe in Germany.

(Photo: 123RF)

Sailing on the Rhine and Danube

With 27,000 visits, the Mediterranean was the most popular cruise destination in 2017, according to CLIA, but the Dutch are increasingly opting for a trip to Northern Europe.

Cruises through the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda were also booked more than ever.

“During a cruise along the Norwegian fjords you come to places that you cannot reach by car.”

Stefan Driehuijs, Sea Tours Cruises

According to Driehuijs, cruise ships now travel all over the world, but he mainly sees the Dutch leaving for the Norwegian fjords.

"Then you sail into coves, you see waterfalls and mountain peaks and you end up in an idyllic village. You can't experience that so quickly by car."

According to CLIA, Dutch people go on a cruise for an average of 9.2 days, but they mainly opt for a 7-day trip.

The largest increase occurred in the short three-day cruises.

This could be river cruises, for example, which, according to Biesheuvel, were increasingly booked in the past year.

From the Netherlands, they mainly cross the Rhine and Danube.

River cruises also increasingly luxurious

According to Biesheuvel, the difference between sea and river cruises is mainly the number of travelers on board and the large-scale facilities that they can use.

There are fewer of these with river cruises than with those by sea.

The number of travelers on board a river cruise varies from 80 to 180 passengers and for the large sea cruise ships there are 2,400 to 6,000 passengers.

A river ship usually carries about 150 passengers on average, compared to sometimes 6000 on a cruise ship.

"But you see with the river cruises that it is all becoming more and more luxurious."

Boat trips to Antarctica, Spitsbergen and Galapagos are rising in popularity, according to the experts, as they are seen as a

once in a lifetime


These are special trips that you make once and compared to the world cruises, they are more accessible and more affordable.

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