Many river lines have changed itineraries and shore excursions to attract regular cruisers back to popular routes like Amsterdam to Basel next year.
Guests will see new castles and cathedrals, experience more foodie tours and much more during the 2021 river cruise season, now expected to be a boom year.
The Danube, the Grand Dame of rivers, has the most new offerings each season. From Viking’s new call in Golubac, Serbia; Scenic’s new choir performance in the magnificent Temple Crypt of the St Sava Cathedral in Belgrade; Avalon Waterways chocolate workshop in Belgium and Crystal Cruises wine-themed voyage featuring Australian winemaker Henschke.
Viking is also offering new included and optional historical tours on other popular rivers like the Rhine. While Uniworld is sailing to the spa town of Baden-Baden for the first time.
In France, Scenic features two new tours. One at the Palais Garnier – one of the most visited monuments in Paris and another at the Château Malmaison in Conflans – the former residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine.
The lines are also expanding their land extension options for guests who enjoy exploring destinations in detail. Viking is offering a three-night Switzerland extension in Lucerne, Crystal Cruises has a three-night Prague extension. Meanwhile Avalon Waterways is exploring La Panier in their new extension in Marseilles. And Uniworld is debuting three to four-night rail extension on the Golden Eagle Danube Express Luxury Train travelling through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
So who is offering what next season:
The eight-day ‘Rhine Getaway’ river cruise now features two new included excursions in 2020 — an informative tour of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress and a walking tour through the historic town of Speyer. There are also two new optional excursions that guests can choose — a tour of the 700-year-old Marksburg Castle and a full-day tour of Heidelberg.
Viking’s Passage to ‘Eastern Europe’ and ‘European Sojourn’ itineraries now include a brand new call in Golubac in Serbia, where guests are treated to an included tour of Golubac Fortress, built in the 14th century in a strategic position on the Danube where the river narrows into the Iron Gates gorge.
Viking has also launched a brand new three-night cruise extension in Switzerland’s stunning Lucerne region, allowing guests to experience the Viking difference while enjoying the Alpine Backdrops of Lake Lucerne extension. It can be added to the beginning or end of selected eight-day Rhine Getaway 2020 departures, sailing from Amsterdam to Basel or vice versa, and includes three nights in a First-Class hotel in Lucerne, four guided tours, four meals and all transfers, all the while fully escorted by a Viking host.
A brand new wine-themed voyage in 2020 brings Australian winemakers from Henschke to Crystal River Cruises. The celebrated winemaking duo of the family-owned, Australian winery, Henschke will join the October 2020 wine-themed sailing aboard Crystal Ravel.
Fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his viticulturist wife, Prue will join the seven-night Danube River voyage, departing 9 October, 2020. It will sail from Budapest to Vienna through the Riesling-rich wine region of the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley, visiting the enchanting abbey of Melk, beautiful sights of Linz, and the breathtaking vineyards and hilltop castle of Dürnstein.
While onboard, Crystal Ravel guests will be invited to enjoy tastings of specially chosen Henschke wines, as the passionate winemakers share their story of growing some of the oldest vines in the world, in the high country of Barossa’s Eden Valley.
The line is also a new Prague Overland Adventure for 2020. Guests sailing on dozens of 2020 voyages aboard Crystal Ravel and Crystal Mahler can extend their luxury Crystal holiday with an optional in-depth exploration of Prague, as Crystal River Cruises unveils its new “Prague Discovery” Extended Land Program.
The three-night immersive program is offered pre- and post-cruise from Vilshofen on voyages between Vilshofen and Budapest and includes luxury accommodations at the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the heart of the Czech capital city.
Also included is a half-day visit to Prague Castle, allowing guests to explore areas of the palace and grounds not typically open to the public, such as access to Rothmeyer and Spanish halls, the Rudolph Gallery, the Throne Hall, the Glass and Habsburg salons and the Golden Lounge. Guests can also visit the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Palace and St. George Basilica.
Another, full-day inclusive excursion takes guests to UNESCO-listed Kutná Hora, just east of Prague, known as the “city of silver” and the “national treasury” as it was the royal mint under King Wenceslas II of Bohemia.
The line is introducing a new Scenic Enrich experience and three Scenic Freechoice tours in 2020. The Scenic Enrich experience are exclusive events that the line has planned for their guests in each itinerary. For their ‘Danube Delta Discovery’ and the ‘Black Sea Explorer’ itineraries guests can enjoy a new choir performance in the magnificent Temple Crypt of the St Sava Cathedral in Belgrade.
The new Scenic Freechoice tour includes a tour of the Palais Garnier in the heart of Paris – one of the most visited monuments in Paris. The new Spectacular South of France program also has a new tour of Château Malmaison in Conflans – the former residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine along with a ‘meet the locals’ excursion in Miltenberg, Germany. Guests can choose between chose between visiting various local producers – a local winery, a beer-producing monastery, local schnapps distillery, or a family run farm for a tasting of their fresh produce – or meeting royalty with a tour of a real castle.
The line is offering two new highlights, one for the chocolate lovers in Belgium and another for guests who love discovering historic French towns.
A brand new Discover Brussels and DIY Chocolate Workshop excursion is offered exclusively on Avalon’s ‘Tulip time in Holland & Belgium’ itinerary.
Begin with a 45-minute orientation drive through Brussels to see the major landmarks, then become a chocolatier during a hands-on workshop. In just under two hours, learn everything from tempering chocolate, craft your own pralines with ganache from scratch.
Then, as the pralines cool, learn to make French mendiants (topping-garnished chocolate discs) and divine Belgian hot chocolate. You’ll also get to learn the history of Belgian chocolate and the importance of fair-trade cocoa beans. By the end of the workshop, you’ll come away with a beautiful take-home box filled with almost three dozen of your chocolates.
In France, the new excursion to discover Marseilles’ Le Panier is offered exclusively on Avalon’s extension on their ‘Burgundy & Provence’ itinerary. Explore Le Panier, the “Basket” of Marseilles, on this 3-hour guided walk through the city’s oldest district. The district features colorful street frescoes, the old port and Town Hall. Other highlights include La Vieille-Charité, a home for the poor in the 16th century, ancient churches and cathedrals and the national museum that inaugurated Marseilles as a European Capital of Culture in 2013.
Along the way, you also get to sample an authentic Navette de Marseille pastry, and stop by a local shop to learn about Savon de Marseille, vegetable oil-based soap that’s been produced here for more than 600 years.
The line is sailing to a new port on the Rhine, the spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany. It is offered in their 12-day ‘Rhine, Moselle & Blissful Baden-Baden’ itinerary, sailing between Baden-Baden and Frankfurt. Explore city and see Germany’s largest opera house the 2,500 seat Festspielhaus then proceed to discover the natural hot springs that it offers
Highlights include the Caracalla Thermal Bath which has mineral-rich waters the Romans discovered some 2,000 years ago. It started a bathing culture under Emperor Caracalla which has continued till today. You can also head on to the Salina Sea Salt Grotto to experience the benefits of Dead Sea and Himalayan salt. The grotto is dressed wall to wall with all-natural salt bricks and the floor is blanketed with a thick layer of salt.
In 2021, the line is also debuting a brand new luxury rail extension on two Venice itineraries. Excursion highlights on the train journeys include a visit to Gutenberg Castle in Balzers, Liechtenstein and an evening with a private concert in the caves of Postojna, Slovenia.
The exclusive partnership with luxury train line Golden Eagle Luxury Trains creates itineraries will allow guests to travel through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, combining major cities with little-known destinations. The three or four-day train extensions are available on the line’s 14-day ‘Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice & the Swiss Alps’ and the 12-day ‘Cruise & Rail: Venice & the Swiss Alps‘.