River cruising has never looked better with a raft of new ships, itineraries and fabulous facilities being floated out for 2014.
The just launched AmaPrima, one of APT’s Concerto Class river ships and sister to award-winning AmaCerto, will sail Dutch and Belgian itineraries plus the Danube and Rhone in 2014.
Highlights include a heated pool with swim-up bar, massage and beauty salon, and Chaine des Rotisseurs culinary creations with unlimited fine wine and beer.
Two more Concerto Class ships, AmaSonata and AmaReina, will launch in early 2014 and operate on the Rhine and Danube.
Also being introduced next year is the Royal Experience, a new level of indulgence that will see passengers enjoy invitations to fairytale castles, Michelin-starred dinners, personal butlers and lots more.
The sister company to Scenic Tours is launching Emerald Star and Emerald Sky next April to cruise the Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers. Each 135-metre ship will feature a 24-square-metre all-weather pool with a bar that converts into a cinema by night, and a range of suites up to 30 square metres. Emerald Star and Emerald Sky will sail the 15-day Splendours of Europe and the new 12-day Magical Rhine and Moselle itineraries.
Next year Evergreen is introducing 21-day Christmas markets cruises, new itineraries in France (including Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley) and an 11-day Russia cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow.
Pandaw River Expeditions
Pandaw, which has six vessels on Burma’s Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers, is launching two more – Kindat Pandaw and Kalaw Pandaw – in July 2014. They will be 56 metres long and have an ultra-shallow draft that enables them to pass through channels that are blocked to other vessels at low water. Each ship has 20 cabins to accommodate a maximum of 40 passengers.
Kindat and Kalaw will be finished in traditional Pandaw style with teak and brass. Like their six fleet mates, they will be exact replicas of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company ships of the 1920s.
The ships will operate on the new Mandalay Pagan Packet service alongside Indochina and Orient. Pandaw is also launching Kalay, a 10-passenger boat based in Mandalay available for private charter.
Australian owned and operated Scenic Tours is launching two more “space ships”, Scenic Gem and Scenic Jade, next year, bringing its fleet to nine.
Scenic Jade will operate the 15-day Jewels of Europe river cruise between Amsterdam and Budapest from May 14 to November 12, 2014. Scenic Jade will feature the same embellishments as the rest of the fleet, including butler service, luxury suites with all-season “sun-lounge” private balconies and a complimentary mini-bar stocked daily.
Scenic Gem will be the largest ship custom built for the Seine River and the only one to sail from Rouen to Honfleur.
New itineraries from Scenic include the 11-day Gems of the Seine; an extended, 19-day Budapest to Amsterdam cruise; and the 20-day cruise from Passau to the shores of the Black Sea, which includes stops at Belgrade, Pecs, Osijek, Arbanassi, Tulcea and Bucharest.
Tauck’s original four sister river ships – its Jewel Class vessels – are 110 metres long and have a capacity for a maximum of 118 passengers, offering more space per passenger than many of its competitors.
Tauck’s next generation of ships, known as the Inspiration Class (Inspire and Savor), are set to launch in June next year and will each be 135 metres long and carry just 130 passengers. Luxury cabins will all be outside and 85 per cent have floor-to-ceiling windows.
Tauck ships sail the Danube, Rhine, Rhone and Seine rivers. New for 2014 is a 10-day itinerary from Vienna to Regensburg that includes wine tastings and a private lunch at Cesky Krumlov Castle in the Czech Republic.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Along with the addition of a new “super ship” – SS Catherine – and its new all-inclusive pricing structure, Uniworld is refurbishing River Royale and River Empress in time for the start of the 2014 season.
SS Catherine will cruise on the Rhone and Saone rivers in Burgundy and Provence. She will be similar to SS Antoinette, and, at 135 metres long, one of the company’s largest ships. Her first sailing is on March 30.
River Royale‘s refurbishment includes a new dining area on the sun deck similar to the indoor/ outdoor L’Orangerie on SS Antoinette. The area will be collapsible to fit under bridges. From April 2014 River Royale will operate from Uniworld’s new destination of Bordeaux. Her eight-day Bordeaux, Vineyards and Chateaux cruise takes in the Garonne, Gironde and Dordogne rivers.
River Empress‘s refurbishments include a sky lounge with dining facilities.
Viking River Cruises
Next year Viking will take delivery of another 14 of its 190-passenger Longships to cruise the European waterways, taking its overall fleet to more than 40. These “green” ships boast energy-efficient hybrid engines, solar panels and an organic herb garden.
Cabins on the top two decks feature french balconies (floor- to-ceiling sliding glass doors) on one side of the ship and verandahs on the other, and some suites have both. Viking will offer 22 itineraries in 2014, ranging from eight to 23 days.
Proving once again that there’s a strong demand for France, Viking is running a new eight-day Chateaux, Rivers & Wine itinerary from Bordeaux.
Two new Longship-style ships will be cruising Portugal’s Douro River, with a 10-day cruise from Oporto via Pinhao and back to Oporto.
Also new for 2014 is Memories of Mandalay, a 16-day itinerary in Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand that marks the company’s first offering on the Irrawaddy River.
Avalon is launching three more “suite ships” in Europe next year: Avalon Impression and Avalon Poetry II set sail in March, and Avalon Illumination, to be christened in June by glamorous media personality Deborah Hutton. The previous Australian to christen an Avalon ship was Lisa Wilkinson, who launched Panorama in 2011.
The 135-metre Impression, 110-metre Poetry II and 135-metre Illumination will cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Like their predecessors, the new ships will have two full decks of suites featuring the line’s signature panoramic windows that transform the living space into an open-air balcony.
Avalon is also set to operate its first Amazon itineraries in 2014, on board the contemporary 16-suite Aria.