Avalon Waterways has launched its newest luxury river cruise ships, Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary, at a double christening in the Netherlands, the latest stage in a major expansion of its successful Suite Ship concept.

The new ships – each with two entire decks of all-suite accommodation – were launched on Friday at a ceremony in the historic Dutch harbour town of Enkhuizen.

The 135m Avalon Vista, which has 83 cabins, is identical to Avalon Panorama while the 110m Avalon Visionary is slightly smaller at 64 cabins. Avalon Waterways Managing Director Australasia Stewart Williams said the Suite Ship concept had been an outstanding success, thanks largely to Australian travellers.

“Everything about the Suite Ships has been designed with Australians in mind, from the décor and fittings right through to the cuisine and the espresso coffee,” Mr Williams said.  “The response has been fantastic and Avalon Waterways has this year broken all previous sales records in Australia as a result.”

Next year, Avalon Waterways will introduce another two new Suite Ships, Avalon Artistry II and Avalon Expression. They will give Avalon a total of five Suite Ships when they enter service in April and May 2013, joining an overall European fleet of 12 luxury ships with an average age of less than three years.

To celebrate the release of its 2013 program, Avalon is offering savings of $1,000 per couple on select European river cruises, with more than a dozen different itineraries to choose from and more than 60 available departures. Savings of $500 per couple are available on all other European cruises in 2013. For details, see your travel agent.