Royal Caribbean would consider offering river cruises

25 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Would Royal Caribbean ever consider offering river cruises? It's not as far-fetched an idea as you might think.

Would Royal Caribbean ever consider getting into river cruises?

The Royal Caribbean Group has ownership in many cruise lines, but none are river cruises.  River cruises are quite popular in Europe, and it's an area of the market untouched by the company.

During Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call with investors on Thursday, a Wall Street analyst asked if they'd ever consider getting into river cruising.

Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty didn't dismiss the idea, "that could be something that we would consider at some point in the future."

Jason Liberty

But before you pack your bags, it's not on the horizon, "we're very focused on excelling in our core, growing our core and also further building out our destination platform."

He sees those tenants of the brand being the best path forward to deliver returns to their shareholders and grow the business.

However, Royal Caribbean Group does see the market as an opportunity, "River is an area where we do see some overlap, not a lot of overlap, but we do see some overlap occurring."


River cruising is a rapidly growing market and appeals to a lot of people who also enjoy expedition cruises.

River cruises are significantly smaller ships than an ocean going vessel, and travel slowly down popular rivers to offer stops at major cities along the way. 

Family touring in Europe

Traditionally, river cruises appealed to an older clientele, primary retirees.  But in recent years that has changed. Some river brands are targeting younger vacationers who are interested in active outings.

Companies such as Viking, Avalon Waterways and AmaWaterways have all added more ships to their fleet to respond to a growing market.

Keeping customers within the brands

One reason that getting into river cruises might make sense is it would align with Royal Caribbean Group's general strategy of offering something for everyone.

Mr. Liberty spoke about the importance of retaining its customers as they age during the earnings call, "We remain intensely focused on attracting and keeping guests within our unique portfolio of brands, and providing experiences for all of life's moments."

"We have been very thoughtful about having the right brands and the right segments," he explained and gave an example of how customers can dip between the different companies.

Silver Endeavour

"You could have a set of grandparents on Silver Sea that next month are going on a cruise with their kids and grandkids on the Royal Caribbean brand."

"That happens all the time. And one of our ultimate goals here is to make sure that we keep our customer and our ecosystem."

Offering different types of sailings has been a strategy Royal Caribbean Group has embraced ever since it acquired Celebrity Cruises. Since they, the company has grown to include full and partial ownership in other lines.

Celebrity Edge

The company has full ownership of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises and it is also a 50% owner of a joint venture that operates TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Mr. Liberty indicated they're always looking for ways to get better at what they do, and making their customers aware of ways to cruise within the company ecosystem is one component to their plan.

Cruise lines offering combined river and ocean itineraries

Viking river cruises

A few companies have already started to embrace river and ocean cruises together.

Viking Cruises was the first line to offer both river and ocean cruises.  

They started out offering river cruises and has added ocean going vessels to their fleet.  They even offer "Ocean & River Voyages" where you can go on a river and ocean going cruise in the same vacation.

Disney river cruises with Ama

Disney Cruise Line bridged the gap by partnering with AmaWaterways. Through the Adventures by Disney brand, Disney employees act as guides on the sailing that is operated by Ama.

There are special excursions that include a Disney touch to the experience.

However, AmaWaterways are adults-only, and kids aren't allowed on these sailings even if they are sold by Disney.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost experts on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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