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Do First-Time Cruise Passengers Find Value in Their Experience Despite the Stereotype of Being ‘Corny’?

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

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

“We’ve traveled all over Europe by plane and train, but wanted to try something different, a little off the beaten path,” Ms. Chambers said. “I would never go on one of those behemoth 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 splurged on a deluxe stateroom with a balcony, costing $14,000, with food, beverages and shore excursions included. “We would never spend so much on a one-week vacation, but we are 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 hassles. 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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