Australians have taken to river cruising in a big way, with more than 50,000 going on a river holiday each year, managing director of Avalon Waterways, Stewart  Williams said.

“It’s one of the fastest growing markets – the number of Australians who go on river cruises has been growing at double-digit since 2007.

“Seven years ago only 12,500 Australians went on a river cruise. In 2013 the numbers surged to 50,000,’’ he said.

Already, Avalon’s river cruises have been selling fast with expectations that 97 percent will be sold this year – up from 94 percent last year.

“Bookings for 2015 are already 11 percent up,’’ he said.

To meet this surge in demand Avalon will launch two new ships, Avalon Tapestry II and Avalon Tranquility II next year, taking its total fleet  to 15. The all-suite ships will have 64 cabins each.

The company will double its presence in France to four ships in 2015.

“Australians love cruising in Europe, especially in the romantic Rhine, Burgundy, Provence and Normandy,’’ Mr Williams said.

One of its new routes next year will be the  dual-river itinerary which will combine a cruise on the  Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel followed by a cruise on the Rhone from Beaune to Cote d’Azur.

In Asia, Avalon will also introduce the new 36-cabin Avalon Myanmar to cruise the Irrawaddy in 2015 and a new Avalon Siem Reap on the Mekong between Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Siem Reap in Cambodia.

Avalon has also appointed television personality Deborah Hutton as its new Australian ambassador.