I love to cruise, and in my experience, river cruises are a wonderful way to explore the countryside on a beautiful stretch of water. The small ships and hotel barges of these lines offer an intimate experience for travelers who wish to see villages, medieval towns and the lovely European countryside in an up-close and uniquely personal way.
I am always excited to see what new ships and amenities the cruise lines are offering… so what’s in store for the river cruise ships debuting in 2011?
Here’s the latest information on this lovely and unique cruise experience:
AmaWaterways will offer two new ships. The first, AmaVerde, which will cruise the Rhine, Mosel and Danube, will launch in late March. A sister ship to the AmaBella, the 162-passenger AmaVerde will offer bow-to-stern Wi-Fi, fine dining restaurants and “infotainment” systems in every cabin. AmaWaterway’sAmaLotus debuts in September, accommodating 124 passengers, and will include an impressive 624-square-foot suite. It is a companion ship to the popular La Marguerite and will feature authentic Vietnamese-style dining as an option. The AmaLotus will cruise the Mekong River from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City to Cambodia’s Siem Reap. In addition to the new ships, the AmaKaterina has been completely redesigned, as well, and will replace the Tolstoy to enter service on the Volga River May 10th.
Avalon Waterways has already sold out its inaugural cruise for its new ship, the Avalon Panorama, May 13th. The sought-after Panorama will feature two full decks of suites (200 square feet, much larger than the industry standard), each with a wall-to-wall panoramic window that transforms the living space into an Open-Air BalconyTM. This 166-passenger Avalon ship will cruise the Danube, Rhine and Main rivers.
Pandaw River Cruises is adding a new ship, the Saigon Pandaw, to its fleet of Asian river cruise vessels in November. Pandaw’s new ship will cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia, and will feature large cabins (nearly 200 square feet) with French doors and a common terrace. The ship will sail charter only through the end of 2011, then begin a regular season in 2012.
Tauck Small Ship Cruising is introducing its new ship, the 118-passenger m/s Treasures, in August. This small ship offers many amenities not seen on some of the other small lines, including 14 suites (300 square feet) that have French balconies, walk-in closets and marble baths. Tauck has also added 400 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and Hungarian down pillows to all of Treasures’ cabins, which also feature plasma TVs, mini-bars, terry cloth robes, radios, safes, individual air conditioning and L’Occitane toiletries.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruising will introduce two new ships this year, starting with the 164-passenger S.S. Antoinette on March 27th. Uniworld works with Red Carnation hotels to make each Uniworld ship unique, and the Antoinette will include rich woods, Russian paintings, marble bathrooms and a Blue Straus Baccarat chandelier. This new “super ship” (the largest in the fleet), which will cruise the Rhine River, will also feature a swimming pool, movie theatre (with state-of-the-art flat screen) and top-deck suites with private balconies. Secondly, the Douro Spirit, sailing April 28 with a capacity of 128 passengers, will cruise the Douro River as a replacement for the Douro Queen. This ship’s focus will be on providing the private ship ambiance preferred by Uniworld’s experienced travelers while visiting vineyards, monasteries and ancient port cities. In addition, the completely refurbished River Victoria will enter service on the Volga River in May; the ship will feature individual climate-control thermostats and flat-screen TVs with satellite.
Viking River Cruises is debuting its 188-passenger Viking Prestige on March 19th. The ship, which will cruise the Danube, will have two spacious 310-square-foot suites and 97 staterooms (six of which are singles), most of which feature French balconies or picture windows. The Prestige will feature a streamlined shape and this new Viking vessel is a “green” ship, operating on hybrid diesel-electric engines that produce 20-percent less emissions. The 264-passenger Viking Emerald also enters service in China in 2011. She will replace the Viking Century Sun on the Yangtze River and will sail three Viking itineraries. The Emerald will feature the largest suites in river cruising; Presidential suites will span 840 square feet with separate sitting/sleeping areas, flat-screen TVs, panoramic windows and balconies.
For more information on river cruises, please visit our river cruise section.