Full Speed Ahead: Industry Predictions for 2021 – AmaWaterways

As we move at what seems like breakneck speed into the second month of 2021, we remain confident in a more positive year for the cruise industry. With high amounts of newbuild and refurbishment projects in the books, pre-bookings for cruises through the roof, and exciting new ships launching on their delayed first sailings, this confidence is not unfounded. To launch into the year in a positive way, we’ve been featuring predictions for 2021 from our star-studded Advisory Board. Today we’re taking a slight diversion to look at five customer experience predictions for the year from luxury river cruise brand AmaWaterways.

The predictions were published in a release to travel agents last week, and detail five trends AmaWaterways believe will shape the industry in the coming year. Driven by booking trends observed in a period during which guests were unable to cruise, the predictions are reflective of the heightened demand of stuck-at-home cruisers. The predictions also reflect the small-ship strength of river cruise in the return to sailing, with AmaWaterways’ president Rudy Schreiner forecasting:

“[…] river cruises are poised to be among the first to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. River cruise holidays take place on smaller ships with fewer guests, cruise within countries, and conveniently dock in the center of charming towns and hidden villages.”


AmaWaterways’ Predictions for 2021:

Celebration Travel

With many group gatherings to commemorate milestone birthdays and anniversaries postponed throughout 2020, celebration travel is anticipated to be a top trend among travellers of all ages in the year ahead

Longer Stays, Shorter Booking Windows

With international travel regulations still evolving, booking windows are expected to shrink, as travellers stand by ready to leap at the opportunity to escape to a new destination as soon as conditions are right. AmaWaterways is seeing its guests increasingly adding extensions to their seven-night river cruise – combining back-to-back cruises through Europe and adding pre- and post-cruise land packages.

Slow Travel

Trend analysts report that more travellers are opting for unhurried and authentic experiences within less crowded destinations that offer a true immersion in the region’s culture, history, and gastronomy.

Regenerative Travel

Now more than ever, travellers are actively seeking ways to give back to destinations by contributing to local economies and choosing sustainable ways to explore the world.

Holistic Wellness

With the pursuit of improved physical and mental health becoming more prevalent, the global pandemic has inspired many to focus on wellness, connect with new activities in the outdoors and improve their health and fitness.

Of the trends, AmaWaterways president Rudy Schreiner said:

“Looking ahead, we anticipate travellers will prioritse meaningful and authentic travel experiences that create true connections with their loved ones and the destination they are visiting.


A few of these, including ‘regenerative travel’ and ‘holistic wellness’, were forecast to be future trends before the pandemic, and have only been pushed forward by an increased awareness of personal and public health. Others, such as ‘celebration travel’ are fuelled entirely by time lost due to the pandemic. The most interesting is perhaps the idea of ‘slow travel’ – that, while keen to make up for lost time, guests are happy to spend more time looking for a holiday that will be wholesome and fulfilling.

Interested in industry trends? Keep up-to-date and get involved with Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo on our LinkedIn page.

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