It’s going to be a big year for river cruising, with lines adding more ships as well as itineraries, after a massive surge in demand.
River cruise lines are tempting passengers with multiple new river vessels launching this year as well as makeovers and upgrades on the existing fleet.
Viking River Cruises, Tauck and Crystal River Cruises are also debuting new itineraries to sail the Rhone, Seine and Danube.
Viking River Cruises is leading the pack with seven new ships set to launch in the European rivers but other river cruise lines like AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways, are rolling out new vessels in their fleet as well.
APT and AmaWaterways
APT and AmaWaterways’ debut of AmaMagna in the Danube River in May will be hard to miss as she is going to be the largest ship to cruise any European river – twice as wide as any other river ship, to be exact.
The line will use extra space to provide their guests with a spacious and intimate experience for all 196 passengers.
Expect an elegant and contemporary design onboard at the public spaces as well as the roomy accommodation. Most cabins feature balconies and range from 355 square feet to 710 square feet.
The ship boasts a variety of dining options a Zen Wellness Studio, a Water Sports Platform that houses a 14-passenger Sundowner excursion vessel. For dining, check out the new alfresco restaurant with retractable windows.
AmaMagna will be sailing the week-long “Melodies of the Danube” from Budapest, Hungary, to Vilshofen, Germany, “Romantic Danube” from Vilshofen to Budapest, “Christmas Markets” voyages and “Wine Themed Cruises.”
The line is also launching the 156-passenger AmaMora on Portugal’s Douro River this year.
The line will be launching their 165-guest Avalon Envision on the Danube River this spring. The popular Panorama Suites feature windows that can be dropped at the push of a button to transform your living space into an open-air balcony, has been expanded to their whole European fleet.
Avalon Envision did not miss out on this delightful concept expansion and the Panorama Suite can on two full decks. Other features onboard include a Fitness Center and Adventure Center with bicycles and active gear.
An Avalon Adventure Host will also be on hand to assist guests with active excursions, maps and such activities as kayaking, canoeing and jogging.
Guests will dine at the casual Panorama Bistro, al fresco Sky Grill or the glass-walled Dining Room and can order Avalon Fresh selections created in collaboration with famous Austrian chefs Leo and Karl Wrenkh.
The line is also newly introducing FlexDining with more flexible seating times, more two-top tables for couples, Sky Deck bar service, and nightly food fare upon request at the bar. Guests can now also request made-to-order picnic lunch boxes to take ashore.
Itineraries for 2019 range from 10 to 19 days, bringing travellers to Europe’s capital cities such as Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague.
Riviera Travel is also launching a new 167-guest ship on the Danube River, William Wordsworth. Riviera’s 132-guest George Eliot, of a smaller ship-class, will also be making her debut to sail the Rhine and Moselle rivers.
Makeovers and upgrades
Scenic is also extending their new design concept on all eight Space-Ships after a successful debut on two vessels sailing France’s Saone and Rhone rivers.
Scenic Ruby, Scenic Pearl, Scenic Jasper, Scenic Opal, Scenic Amber, Scenic Crystal, Scenic Jade and Scenic Jewel, sailing the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers are all being revitalised this winter.
Scenic Ruby and Scenic Pearl will have fewer cabins and a smaller guest count of 161.
Other additions on the vessels include two new 520-square-foot Royal Owners Suites plus a larger wellness centre with gym, massage and hairdresser services, and even a salt therapy lounge, hand-crafted from salt bricks.
Scenic is also rolling out e-bike tours such that guests can explore their destinations with ease.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection gave River Royale an extensive makeover and is relaunching it as Bon Voyage in spring 2019.
The 130-passenger Bon Voyage will be debuting a fresh look that is inspired by the renowned wine and gastronomic expertise of the French regions it will be sailing through the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde rivers.
Highlights onboard include the newly added chef demonstration area in the dining room and a new bistro inspired by Paris’ Bouillon Pigalle.
Guests will also be able to enjoy marble bathrooms throughout the ship as well as four new luxurious Grand Suites.
Uniworld offers eight, 15 and 22-day itineraries onboard Bon Voyage which are made for wine lovers and gastronomy fans. The itineraries will bring guests on excursions to local towns to wine and dine, go on heritage walking tours, craft shopping and even new thrill attractions.
Tauck introduces their third adults-only itinerary on the Seine. The eight-day “Impressions from the Seine: Paris to Normandy” itinerary is aimed at younger professionals with limited vacation time.
Guests will get to enjoy a full day in Paris, exploring a choice of museums and visiting Versailles. The itinerary also features time to explore independently or shop and be treated to a Tauck exclusive dinner at the 16th-century Chateau du Taillis.
There are also plenty of opportunities to go ashore elsewhere along the river to visit places such as the D-Day Beaches at Normandy, Les Andelys, Vernon, and Giverny for a pre-opening visit to Claude Monet’s home, gardens and studio.
Crystal River Cruises has opened their 2021 itinerary reservations nearly three years in advance, giving travellers more time to plan their vacations.
Their new “Eastern Danube Discoveries” itinerary will debut on the line’s largest river vessel, Crystal Mozart, to Hungary, Serbia and Croatia.
Other 2021 highlights include springtime “Tulips & Windmills” sailings, Christmas markets sailings and “Enchanting Moselle” voyages.
Viking has also added two new itineraries in their 2019 line up, an eight-day Rhône Explorer itinerary which is a round trip from Lyon, and a 10-day Holland and Belgium in Bloom tour from Amsterdam to Antwerp – or the reverse journey.