Trends, benefits and deals for waterway vacations

Trends, benefits and deals for waterway vacations

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Alec Harvey


Carol DiOrio knows cruises. As vice president of travel for AAA Western and Central New York, it's her job. So listen to her when she says this:

In 2018, European and U.S. river cruises, as well as close-to-home cruises from ports close to upstate New York, will be hot. Those are the trends we're seeing, she says. Cruising continues to be an excellent option for travelers.



Getting on a cruise ship or a riverboat can often take New Yorkers to more vacation-friendly climates, DiOrio says. Due to where we live, warm-weather ocean cruising is most popular, she says. Travelers are looking at the Caribbean and Mexico, along with Bermuda and Hawaii. The Danube and Rhine rivers are popular for river cruises. The appeal of cruising starts with its pretty much all-inclusive cost, DiOrio says. That cost includes accommodations, most meals, entertainment and many fitness and workout classes. If bought separately for a land vacation, the cost could be hundreds of dollars or more for those things.

In addition, cruising takes travelers to different destinations, rather than travelers having to pack for separate trips. You only need to pack once, and you can visit so many destinations, DiOrio says. There are also not a lot of decisions to make while you're on a cruise vacation because dining and entertainment is all right there on the resort, she says. There is an endless variety of amenities to suit every passenger, including theme cruises, popular lectures, casinos and other things. Many of them have activities such as rock walls, miniature golf, movies under the stars. I always enjoy a massage, and it's well worth the extra charge.


There's a variety of sizes when it comes to cruise ships, too, from multi-story megaships that are virtual floating cities to more intimate yachts that carry just a handful of people. One difference between the larger cruise ships and the smaller ones would be the entertainment, DiOrio says. Larger ships have a variety of nightclubs, bars and theaters, some with Broadway-like productions. Smaller ships have similar entertainment but on a smaller scale, often a shipboard cast of singers and dancers who put on a show. Expedition ships offer enrichment programs on board, says DiOrio, featuring specialists discussing wildlife, architecture or other topics that tie in with the itinerary.

Whatever kind of cruise a traveler is looking for, it's always best to consult with travel professionals, according to DiOrio. Travel agents can provide you with the very best value, she says. Many times, we receive specials and sales in advance. Potential cruisers should also take advantage of cruise events offered by AAA and other professionals. It's a great way to learn more about the destinations and cruise lines along with money-saving or additional amenity booking offers.




River Cruising: Whether it's cruising down the Danube and enjoying Hungary, Austria and Bavaria, or cruising down the Nile in Egypt or Mekong in Asia, river cruising is gaining popularity. And don't forget closer-to-home cruises such as down the Mississippi or Columbia and Snake rivers. These ships have some of the same amenities as their ocean-cruising counterparts, including fine dining and entertainment, but the feel is more personal and intimate.

Close-to-home ports: The ship can take you far away, but close-by ports are saving travelers a lot of money when it comes to vacations by eliminating airfare costs. Driveable ports for those in Central and Western New York include New York City, Baltimore and Bayonne, New Jersey.

New destinations: More cruise lines are adding Cuban destinations, as well as Abu Dhabi and the Albanian Riviera.

Solo traveling: More and more cruise lines are catering to the solo traveler by offering single cabins with single rates, DiOrio says.  

Activities: Ships are offering more itineraries that include cycling, running, hiking and other physical activities.

Millennial cruising: U by Uniworld, launching in April, is designed for cruisers ages 21 to 45. Itineraries include the Danube, Rhine and Seine rivers. 


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