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River Cruise Market Report


River Cruise Market by Type (Ocean Cruises and River Cruises), and Region (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA): Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2023-2032


Pages: 310

Oct 2023

River Cruise Overview

River cruises are a form of enjoyable journey where passengers can experience a unique and scenic experience, whilst exploring a range of locations along the world's rivers. River cruises are generally held on navigable rivers and waterways, such as the Rhine, Danube, Nile, Mekong, Mississippi, and Amazon, amongst others. These cruises offer a distinct perspective in contrast to typical ocean cruises, as they enable passengers to sail through picturesque landscapes, travel through historic cities, and enjoy the cultural beauty of the regions they visit. River cruise ships are smaller in size compared to ocean cruise ships, permitting them to navigate narrower waterways and get the access to ports and locations that larger vessels cannot. They usually offer extra intimate and immersive experiences, with fewer passengers on board and a center of attention on the personalized provider and guided excursions to explore the destinations along the river route.

Global River Cruise Market Analysis

The global river cruise market size was $7,785.05 million in 2022 and is predicted to grow with a CAGR of 9.9%, by generating a revenue of $19,240.73 million by 2032.

COVID-19 Impact on Global River Cruise Market

The global river cruise market has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak of the virus and subsequent travel restrictions, lockdowns, and fitness worries have had a profound impact on the complete cruise industry, along with river cruises. One of the instant effects of the pandemic was the suspension of river cruise operations worldwide. Governments imposed travel restrictions and blocked borders, resulting in the cancellation or postponement of scheduled cruises. This resulted in substantial income loss for cruise operators and disrupted the entire river cruising grant chain. Cruise operators have updated their cancellation and refund policies to supply extra flexibility to passengers.

As the world steadily recovers from the pandemic and travel restrictions ease, the river cruise market is expected to revive.  However, recovery may be slow and based on factors like as vaccination distribution, government rules, and passenger confidence in travel. The river cruise industry is set to transition towards smaller ships and more off-the-beaten-path excursions for travelers looking for more intimate and isolated experiences.

Increasing Demand for Special Journey Experiences to Drive the Market Growth

The river cruise market is expected to witness growth in the coming years owing to several factors. One of the key drivers for the increase of the river cruise market is the increasing demand for special and immersive journey experiences. River cruises offer passengers the chance to explore picturesque landscapes, ancient cities, and cultural sites along the world's rivers. The intimate and customized nature of river cruises, with smaller ships and guided excursions, appeals to travelers searching for a more real and in-depth exploration of destinations. Moreover, the demographic shift towards an ageing populace affords a favorable market opportunity for river cruises. Older adults, who often have more time and disposable income for travel, make up a sizable segment of river cruise customers. The industry caters to their preferences with excellent onboard amenities, a relaxed pace, and access to a variety of places. As the global population continues to age, the demand for river cruises is anticipated to grow.

Prevalence of Global or Regional Economic Downturns to Restrain Market Growth.

One of the enormous elements that can restrain the growth of the river cruise market is the prevalence of global or regional economic downturns. During periods of economic instability or crisis, customer spending on discretion tends to decrease and people may also prioritize vital expenses above luxury vacation experiences such as river cruises. Reduced trust among customers and discretionary income may reduce demand for river cruises, limiting the market's growth potential. Furthermore, issues such as geopolitical instability, natural disasters, or public health problems might have a negative impact on the river cruise industry. Unexpected occurrences such as political disputes, terrorism, or natural disasters in popular cruising destinations can raise safety concerns and dissuade travelers from booking river cruises. Similarly, global health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can have a significant impact on the market, leading to travel restrictions, cancellations, and a drop in passenger demand.

Advancements in Technology to Drive Excellent Opportunities

 Technological advances are poised to create stunning opportunities in the global river cruise market, transforming the industry and upgrading the conventional cruise journey for travelers. The integration of modern technological advances is revolutionizing many aspects of river cruising, from ship design and onboard amenities to tourist offers and destination discovery. One of the most important advancements is the development of environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient propulsion systems. Cruise operators are increasingly investing in cleaner, more sustainable propulsion technology such as hybrid engines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion, and electric propulsion systems. These advancements not only reduce emissions, but also allow for peaceful and better cruise experiences, minimizing the environmental impact on river ecosystems and enhancing the overall sustainability of river cruising.

Global River Cruise Market Share, by Type, 2022

The ocean cruises accounted for the highest market size in 2022. In the river cruise market, there is a type of cruise known as "ocean cruises". These are certain types of river cruises that allow tourists to enjoy the beauty and charm of rivers while also travelling into larger bodies of water, such as oceans or seas. Ocean cruises in the river cruise market usually include sailing around coastlines or navigating through canals where the river meets the sea. Ocean cruises offer an exceptional blend of river and ocean experiences. Passengers can enjoy the peaceful and beautiful scenery of rivers while also exploring coastal areas and experiencing the vastness of the ocean. These cruises frequently offer a mix of river and ocean itineraries, allowing travelers to revel in the fantastic of each world.

Global River Cruise Market Share, by Region, 2022

North America River cruise market holds a giant market share in the river cruise market.  The region has a diverse range of rivers that entice both domestic and international travelers. The iconic Mississippi River, Columbia and Snake Rivers, and the Great Lakes are amongst the popular river cruise locations in North America. One of the key factors contributing to North America's market share is the cultural and historical significance of the rivers. Passengers can explore attractive riverfront areas, learn about indigenous cultures, while discovering the region's fascinating history. The shiny cities alongside the rivers, such as New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago, and Vancouver, additionally serve as appealing starting or terminating locations for river cruises.

Competitive Scenario in the Global River Cruise Market

The global river cruise market is incredibly competitive, with various key players vying for market share and striving to differentiate themselves in terms of offerings and services. The competitive situation in the global river cruise market is characterized by  an amalgamation of major ships, specialty operators, and regional companies, each offering their own unique strengths and business strategies. Some of the leading international river cruise operators consist of Viking River Cruises, Am Waterways, Avalon Waterways, Umbworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, and Tauck River Cruises. These companies have established themselves as industry leaders, renowned for their excellent service, advanced ships, and comprehensive travel plans.  They often compete primarily on the quality of their onboard experience, several destinations available, and the amount of personalization and luxury they offer.




Historical Market Estimations


Base Year for Market Estimation


Forecast Timeline for Market Projection


Geographical Scope

North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA

Segmentation by Type

  • Ocean cruise
  • River Cruise

Key Companies Profiled

  • Carnival Corporation & Plc
  • Royal Caribbean Group
  • MSC Cruises S.A.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Genting Hong Kong Limited
  • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines


Frequently Asked Questions

A. The size of the river cruise market was over $7,785.05 million in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9% from 2023 to 2032.

A. Carnival Corporation & Plc, Royal Caribbean Group, and MSC Cruises S.A. are some of the key players in the global river cruise market.

A. The North America region possesses great investment opportunities for investors to witness the most promising growth in the future.

A. Strategic acquisitions and collaborations, as well as geographic expansion and market penetration are the two key strategies opted by the operating companies in this market.

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