“The general ocean liner cruise with 30 restaurants and 4,000 people, I don’t know how long that’s actually going to survive,” said Joshua Smith, the founder and travel designer at Global Citizen Travels, a travel company that caters to millennials. “I see more and more companies introducing niche cruises, such as the groove cruise music festivals or small-scale boutique cruises to target younger millennial audiences. It was a success.”

River cruises, which are offered on much smaller ships that typically accommodate fewer than 200 guests, are especially popular among first-timers looking to distance themselves from crowds during peak travel seasons, especially in Europe. Christine Chambers, a 42-year-old book editor from Boston ordered an eight-day Uniworld a river cruise to Burgundy and Provence in June to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary.

“We’ve traveled around Europe by plane and train, but wanted to try something different, a bit off the beaten path,” Ms Chambers said. “I would never go on one of those giant ships with thousands of people, but I’ve always wanted to try a river cruise – they seem to be more elegant and serene.”

The couple splashed out in a deluxe stateroom with a balcony, costing $14,000, with food, drinks and shore excursions included. “We would never spend that much on a one-week vacation, but we’re making up for the years we didn’t travel during Covid,” she said.

Nora Hope, 20, took a much bigger cruise to Greece with her family last year, sailing on one of Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, Odyssey of the Seas, which has a capacity of more than 4,000 passengers. Her parents were desperate for a family vacation after two years of pandemic restrictions, and after researching options on various Greek islands, decided that a cruise offered the best value and least hassle. They spent a total of about $4,300 for their one-week, all-inclusive vacation, staying in two ocean-view rooms.

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