River cruising is by far the fastest growing segment of the travel industry. In the last decade they (river cruise companies) have burst upon the travel scene and the number of ships they are sailing in many cases has quadrupled! And don’t think it is because this ships are smaller and less expensive to build… river cruise companies are spending millions on ships to build or to gut out and rebuild from the hull upwards.
2011 will continue the trend as a number of major operators roll out new vessels. Nearly half a dozen companies that market to North Americans including AmaWaterways, Uniworld and Avalon Waterways are unveiling new, built-from-the-ground-up ships during the year, and several lines are also bringing out revampaed versions of older ships (case in point Uniworld River Cruises has two new refurbished ships for 2011… the Douro Spirit sailing in Portugal and the River Victoria which brings Uniworld back into the Russian River marketplace).
Most of the new ships will be heading to the rivers of Europe. But several lines also plan new ships for Asia. AmaWaterways will bring out its second ship on Vietnam’s Mekong River and Viking River Cruises has a new vessel debuting on China’s Yangtze River.
In order of their upcoming appearances:
Viking River Cruises’ Viking Emerald… Maiden voyage March 16th 361 feet 256 occupancy….
The buzz: Billed as the most elegant river ship ever designed for China’s Yangtze river, the Viking Emerald boasts a balcony with sliding glass doors with every cabin and some of the largest suites ever on a river ship. Among them: The Presidential suites, which are an industry-leading 840 square feet and have separate sleeping and sitting quarters, two flat panel TVs, a bathroom with a bathtub/shower, panoramic windows and a private wrap-around balcony. Public areas on the ship include a sun deck with a shaded sitting area and bar; restaurant with panoramic windows; observation lounge and bar; onboard boutique and tailor; library; Internet café; coffee bar; gym; sauna and laundry.
Itineraries: 12- to 17-day voyages on the Yangtze River that start at $2,642 per person, based on double occupancy
Uniworld River Cruises’ Antoinette… Maiden voyage March 27th 443 feet 164 occupancy
The buzz: Decorated in a French chateau style, Uniworld’s longest and widest ship ever boasts a 10-foot Baccarat lobby chandelier that once hung at New York’s famed Tavern on the Green and fine Brazilian marble along its walls and floors. Most of the 73 cabins on the ship measure 196 square feet, with suites starting at 294 square feet in size. Top deck suites and cabins feature full open-air private balconies, which convert to enclosed conservatories. The vessel also is home to a 20-seat cinema, a rarity for river ships, and the sun deck features a jungle-themed lounge.
Itineraries: 8-day “Castles Along the Rhine” voyages starting at $2,049 per person, based on double occupancy
AmaWaterways’ AmaVerde… Maiden voyage March 27th 443 feet 161 occupancy
The buzz: Like its one-year-old sister ship, AmaBella, the AmaVerde offers the line’s new “twin balcony” cabins that include both a full step-out balcony and a French balcony. The ship also offers multiple dining venues; room service for passengers sailing in larger Junior Suites; a library with (faux) fireplace; an observation lounge; a 24-hour specialty coffee and tea station; a heated swimming pool on the vessel’s top deck; and free wireless Internet access throughout the vessel. Cabins and suites range from 170 to 325 square feet and feature the line’s signature infotainment system that includes free Internet and first-run Hollywood movies.
Itineraries: 16-day voyages on the Danube River starting $4,799 per person, based on double occupancy (this ship is chartered however until October 2011)
Avalon Waterways’ Avalon Panorama… Maiden voyage May 18th 443 feet 166 occupancy
The Buzz: Billed as the river cruise industry’s first “suite ship,” the Avalon Panorama features 64 newly designed Panorama Suites across its top two decks that offer 200 square feet of living space (30% more than the standard river ship cabin). In addition to marble bathrooms, the cabins include a large seating area adjacent to a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic window that stretches 11 feet wide and opens up seven-feet wide — a first for a river ship. When open, the line says, it’ll give passengers the feel of being on an open-air balcony. The vessel also has two even bigger Royal Suites that measure 300 square feet. Cabins also will boast fresh flowers, premium L’Occitane toiletries and new Avalon-branded deluxe bedding. Elsewhere on the ship, cruisers will find common spaces with floor-to-ceiling views, a large fitness room and an open-air bistro for outdoor grilled lunches.
Itineraries: 15-night “Magnificent Europe” sailings between Amsterdam and Budapest starting at $3,549 per person (the Nov. 1, 2011 departure is music focused); a 13-day “The Blue Danube Discovery” sailing starting at $3,039; 5- to 12-night Christmas season cruises on various routes starting at $1,099
Viking River Cruises’ Viking Prestige… Maiden voyage July 2nd 443 feet 188 occupancy
The buzz: A sister to the Viking Legend, which debuted in 2009, the Viking Prestige will offer cabins with floor-to-ceiling French balconies and sliding glass doors (on its top two decks) as well as some suites that measure up to 310 square feet. New, hybrid engines will provide a quieter-than-normal ride, the line says, and public areas include a sun deck with shaded sitting area and bar; restaurant with panoramic windows; observation lounge and bar; library; onboard boutique coffee bar; and free shipwide wireless Internet. The Viking Prestige is the first ship to be built as part of a massive, $250 million expansion announced by the line in May 2010.
Itineraries: 8-day Romantic Danube sailings starting at $1,656 per person, based on double occupancy
Tauck River Cruises’ Tauck Treasures… Maiden voyage August 13th 361 feet 118 occupancy
The buzz: Tauck’s newest ship will feature upgraded beds and bedding in cabins (including new 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets) — something the line will be implementing fleet-wide this year. Cabins also will feature plusher towels in bathrooms and other improvements. Like other Tauck ships, Treasures also will carry fewer passengers than is the norm in the industry, as the ship is built with a higher-than-normal number of larger suites (14) and junior suites (7). Nearly nine out of 10 cabins will have full floor-to-ceiling windows, and the 14 larger suites will feature French balconies, walk-in closets and marble baths with full size tubs. All cabins will have plasma TVs, mini-bars, terry cloth robes, slippers, radios, safes, individual air conditioning and L’Occitane toiletries.
Itineraries: 8- and 13-day voyages on the Rhine, Moselle and Danube rivers starting at $2,990 per person, based on double occupancy.
AmaWaterways’ AmaLotus… Maiden voyage September 15th 302 feet 124 occupancy
The buzz: Like AmaWaterways’ 92-passenger La Marguirite, which debuted in 2009, the line’s second vessel on the Mekong features all-outside accommodations and deluxe, 226-square-foot cabins with all the amenities of a fine hotel. Nine of out 10 cabins also feature balconies, and 10 “Junior Suites” provide an even more spacious 290 square feet of space that includes a King-size bed, balcony, sitting area and luxurious bathroom equipped with both a shower and tub. Even larger suites measure 624 square feet and boast a private balcony with two lounge chairs and a table. The ship also features a restaurant serving Asian and Western specialties; an authentic Vietnamese “Lau” (Hot Pot) dining facility; a lounge; an outdoor pool and Sun Deck bar; a spa, fitness room and sauna.
Itineraries: 8-day voyages on the Mekong River starting at $1,799 per person, based on double occupancy
As always Champagne Vacations is your River Cruise Specialist! For more information on any of these ships, brochures or pricing please visit our website Champagne Vacations or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet call us at 888 877 8464.