Monday, 22 August 2022

River Cruises on Danube, Drava, and Sava Coming Back in Style

August 22, 2022 - The trend that saw continuous growth before the pandemic, river cruises, seems to be coming back in style. From this year, all Croatian river tourism piers will welcome guests with a uniform visual identity.

As SiB writes, from this summer going forward, Croatian river piers will have a common visual identity. A logo, six identical masts, and seven flags were created for the Danube ports of Aljmaš, Batina, Vukovar and Ilok, the Drava port in Osijek, and the Sava ports in Slavonski Brod and Sisak.

The project is worth slightly less than HRK 92,000 and was fully financed by the Croatian Tourist Board, and was realized with the cooperation of the project holder, the Tourist Board of the Vukovar-Srijem County, and the regional tourist boards of Osijek-Baranja, Brod-Posavina, Sisak-Moslavina and the competent port authorities of Vukovar, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, and Sisak.

“With this joint project, our goal is to raise the awareness and interest of the tourism sector in the area of ​​nautical tourism of river cruises. The common visual identity and its application at all seven river piers promotes and strengthens the visibility and position of the Croatian Danube and the Sava River on the market of organised tourist traffic for river cruises”, said Kristjan Staničić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board.

Before the pandemic, river cruises recorded continuous growth, and this year that trend has returned. Additional infrastructure investments on the Danube and Sava will make river tourism in Croatia more attractive.

“This is a rapidly growing product and market within which the Croatian Danube area has taken a significant position. According to data from the Port Authority of Vukovar, 339 dockings at Vukovar pier and 89 at Ilok pier were announced for this year. 75 dockings were announced in Batina, and 62 in Aljmaš, a total of 565 dockings only at the piers on the Danube. For comparison, in pre-pandemic 2019, a total of 557 river cruise ships docked on the Danube”, points out Rujana Bušić Srpak, director of the of the Vukovar-Srijem County Tourist Board.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Arriva Travel Looks to Make Croatian Danube River Cruises a Hit

June the 27th, 2022 - One company is making a comeback following a two year coronavirus pandemic-induced break with Danube river cruises, providing a chance for people to see part of Croatia and of Europe that few pay much attention to - a river known as the main artery of this part of the continent.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, the Danube is known by many as the main artery of Europe, it's the mighty river that both connects and separates. It used to be the border of worlds, and for some it is still to this very day. The Danube is sung about in the Croatian national anthem (Croatian: himna), it's in the title of the most famous Strauss composition and in countless verses sung by the Pannonian sailor Djordje Balasevic, born in Novi Sad, Serbia, on the Danube.

The eternal inspiration of poets, painters and novelists, Italian writer Claudio Magris dedicated a famous novel to this river, following the flow of the Danube to the mouth of the Black Sea, revealing that there are still disputes among towns in southwestern Germany about exactly where the Danube originates.

All of the above is only a small part of the reason why at least once in a lifetime, it's worth embarking on a voyage along the great river that flows through the far east of Croatia, in an area very few people from abroad ever visit or think of. The starting or ending point of the cruise, depending on the choice, is in the port of the Croatian hero city of Vukovar.

The Arriva travel agency has been organising river cruises for years, and following a pandemic-induced break, they're now offering Danube river cruises - the Vukovar-Vienna route, as well as the even more eastern variant of Vukovar-Vidin (an ancient city in northwestern Bulgaria).

''We also offer cruises along the Rhine, but we don't have any realisations for that yet this year. However, the Danube river cruises are more attractive to people precisely because of the departures being from Croatia, where we organise group departures,'' explained Tamara Cerneka, the director of Arriva Travel.

''The specificity of the Danube river cruises and indeed most others is that passengers board at one port and disembark at another, which requires a transfer in one direction. That's why group departures are more attractive. The first group of Danube river cruises organised by Arriva travel started this year on May the 27th, and by mid-June, we'd realised four departures,'' Cerneka added.

Cruises, both those at sea and those along rivers, are still a segment making a more slow and cautious return following the global coronavirus pandemic. Travellers are still unsure and have their eyes fixed on autumn, afraid to book a cruise in advance for fear of new epidemiological measures being introduced as has been the case over the past two years.

Danube river cruises will certainly be a way for visitors to Croatia to spend time in a part of the country which is the bipolar opposite of the likes of Dalmatia with its rugged mountains, intense dry heat and crystal clear waters. It's also wildly different to Kvarner and Istria, known for similar traits. Eastern Croatia, once the breadbasket of the country, heavily wounded during the Homeland War and now shamefully neglected and suffering from a severe demographic crisis, has a lot to boast about when it comes to its natural and cultural charms - this might just be the perfect way to see that.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Croatian Tourism: Foreign River Cruise Ships Want to Enter But They Can't

When one thinks of Croatian tourism, they likely think of the coast, but as the limelight is finally being shone on continental Croatia, what about cruises along the country's inland rivers? As Novac writes on the 11th of July, 2020, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) River Tourism Association has demanded that "river cruising", ie passenger ships carrying more than forty passengers, be allowed to dock in Croatia's inland ports, which is currently prohibited.

Namely, due to the coronavirus pandemic, at the end of May this year, a Decision was passed on the necessary measure of banning the entry of passenger ships on international cruises to Croatian seaports and inland ports. This decision introduced a ban on the entry of passenger ships carrying more than forty passengers to Croatian inland ports and thus directly prevented the return of river cruise tourism, given that river cruisers have a capacity of up to 220 passengers.

"It isn't profitable for companies to operate with less than twenty percent of their usual capacity. I'd like to emphasise that the companies, in accordance with the measures adopted, have already made sure to secure five percent of their passenger capacity for accommodation in case one of their passengers becomes infected with coronavirus, and therefore I urge that the decision be changed as soon as possible,'' said Bozana Matos, president of the HGK River Tourism Association which sent a letter on behalf of the assotiation, ie a request to amend the Decision to the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Croatian tourism still focuses primarily on the sea, but the country is actually very well recognised as a river cruise destination. Last year, 61,000 passengers visited Eastern Slavonia and Baranja by river, and passenger ports on the Danube and Drava recorded 560 docks with continuous annual positive growth trends. In June, some river cruise programmes began, in compliance with all of the epidemiological recommendations of the time, organised by the German company Nicko Cruises, and announcements of the return of river cruises continue, organised by A-Rosa, European Waterways and Croisi Europe.

"Some of these cruise companies have cruise programmes in Croatia, and the current Decision doesn't allow them to dock in one of the passenger ports along the Danube and the Drava, so we need to urgently change the Decision, which wouldn't limit the number of passengers on river cruises," explained Matos, noting that this should be re-visited with a special emphasis placed on the context of the latest data on the decline in the number of foreign cruise ships in Croatian seaports.

According to the CBS, in the first five months of 2020, foreign cruise ships recorded a decrease in the number of voyages of 91.2 percent and the number of days spent on the Croatian Adriatic declined by 87.8 percent when compared to the same period back in 2019. The number of passengers on these ships recorded an enormous and concerning decrease of 98.5 percent when compared to the same period in 2019.

"Unfortunately, these are very bad numbers and Croatia will need a long time to recover from this situation, but at the same time, this is an opportunity to strengthen the river cruise sector, provided that the decision is changed in time," said Matos.

The recommendations introduced measures to protect passengers on vessels in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, such as daily temperature measurements, mandatory social distancing, wearing masks, special epidemiological measures during boarding and disembarking and so forth.

For more on Croatian tourism in the coronavirus era, follow our travel page.