Moving Forward: The Top Developments for River Cruise Lines
As the brand new 12 months begins, Luxury Travel Advisor has chosen the “Top Three Developments” for main luxurious river strains for 2020 and 2021. What are the highest “threads” of change? Here’s a glance.
Building on its success in “the exotics,” Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is extending its attain farther throughout the globe. For our prime improvement for 2020 and past with Uniworld, we cite two new itineraries within the Peruvian Amazon, a completely new area of crusing for the posh river line. Guests will set sail on the 16-suite Aria Amazon, beginning in late September 2020.
Travelers on the brand new 15-day “Peruvian Amazon & Machu Picchu Exploration” itinerary will first keep in a five-star resort in Lima, Peru; will probably be adopted by a seven-night cruise via the Amazon rainforest, and finish with journey in Peru’s Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco. Alternatively, the 11-day “Peruvian Rivers & Rainforest Discovery” itinerary contains Lima time plus Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and an Amazon voyage roundtrip from Iquitos.
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Onboard Aria Amazon, friends can have panoramic Amazon rainforest views and five-star delicacies created by chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. Among the numerous inclusions are limitless alternative of spirits and wines, scheduled airport transfers, all gratuities onboard and ashore, curated excursions and onboard leisure and enrichment.
Certainly, Amazon eco-adventure is a main draw of those new voyages, however foodies additionally will love exploring Lima’s searing-hot restaurant scene. Reservations made months prematurely are a “must” to dine at Central, serving yummy dishes with indigenous Peruvian elements created by prime chef Virgilio Martinez Veliz, or, alternatively, Maido for Japanese-Peruvian seafood fusion delicacies.
Uniworld’s Sao Gabriel will launch on Portugal’s Douro River in April. Shown here’s a Grand Suite, which affords 307 sq. ft of area. // Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Our number-two decide for Uniworld is its fleet information with a number of new vessels. Uniworld’s new Sao Gabriel will launch on Portugal’s Douro River in April, with a whole prime deck of suites with enhanced butler service that enables for anytime eating flexibility. Across the continent, River Countess is being fully revitalized and can re-emerge in March as La Venezia. A 10-day northern Italy itinerary will start with a two-day Milan keep, adopted by eight-days of cruising via and round Venice, the Po River and to such outer Venetian isles as Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello; an eight-day, cruise-only choice can also be supplied.
Debuting this month on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia is the brand new Mekong Jewel, 33 ft longer than Mekong Navigator (which it replaces) however with comparable capability so friends can have extra space and facilities. Look for 2 eating venues, a fundamental restaurant and an al fresco eatery on the higher deck. Traveling on a 13-day itinerary between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, Mekong Jewel friends additionally will go to Phnom Penh and Angkor in Cambodia.
Egypt is again on customers’ radar and Uniworld’s new Sphinx will debut on the Nile River in September. Guests will spend 12 days exploring Egypt’s prime websites on an itinerary that’s roundtrip from Cairo. Sphinx can have three eating venues, a swimming pool, therapeutic massage room and 42 luxurious suites.
The most spacious lodging are the 4 495-square-foot Royal Suites and the 20 430-square-foot Grand Suites. But even the lead-in lodging are roomy with French Balcony cabins at 233 sq. ft. Delivering the “Egyptian experience,” the ship’s inside design will embody domestically sourced Egyptian art work, materials and hand-carved furnishings.
Our third decide for Uniworld’s prime improvement is a brand new 12-day “Rhine, Moselle and Blissful Baden-Baden” itinerary. It will start in Germany’s spa city of Baden-Baden and, at Frankfurt, friends will go to the famed Caracalla Spa or Sea Salt Grotto.
One of the most recent traits is for river strains to delve into genuine storytelling — usually by way of video — so potential luxurious cruisers can visualize the experiences. With that in thoughts, we’ve chosen Crystal River Cruises’ new “MasterClass Video Series” (simply launched) as that luxurious line’s prime thread for the approaching 12 months. As they’re launched, the brand new MasterClass movies might be viewable on Crystal’s YouTube channel and distributed by way of the Crystal Insider weblog.
Crystal’s first new MasterClass episode, “The Art of Food,” options Georg Pfandl, the road’s government chef; he relates his imaginative and prescient behind the mixing of Asian and Austrian delicacies and the way Crystal River Cruises’ menus are tailor-made day by day to mirror contemporary finds at native markets. Other movies will illustrate behind-the-scenes actions and “the art” of meals, wine, leisure, locations, dessert and repair.
The MasterClass sequence may even convey viewers face-to-face with most of the crew members who create the Crystal expertise. Sommelier Ilija Marojevic will showcase wine pairings utilizing native vintages within the area of crusing whereas Jozsef Reichenbach, pastry chef, will define the creative desserts that mirror the river locations. Hotel director Sonja Gruber will discuss private touches that distinguish Crystal’s model of luxurious and repair. Another video will function Norbert Wittmann, an area German grasp butcher, and famend tenor Steffan Mullan who performs onboard the river vessels.
Our second “top thread” for Crystal River Cruises is an attractive new 2020 three-night Prague prolonged land program. Luxury friends on dozens of Crystal Ravel and Crystal Mahler voyages that function between Regensburg and Budapest can go for this new Prague extension both pre- or post-cruise. Among the interesting perks are a half-day go to to Prague Castle to tour areas of the palace and grounds not usually open to the general public, plus an tour to Kutna Hora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site within the Czech Republic.
Pick number-three is Crystal’s fine-tuning of itineraries for its 4 106-guest ships to focus extra strongly on seven-night cruises. This speaks to a altering luxurious market as extra luxurious vacationers are executives, entrepreneurs or working professionals who can’t be away for weeks at a time. Others are loyal previous friends and new-to-Crystal vacationers now more and more needing a couple of trip yearly.
So, transferring ahead, Crystal is providing largely seven-night European voyages — which could be prolonged with pre- or post-cruise choices. That mentioned, it’s sprinkling in a mixture of 10- to 16-night voyages, too.
AmaWaterways has a better deal with France for 2021. Shown right here is AmaLyra on the Seine River in Rouen, France. // Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways
For AmaWaterways, our prime decide is the road’s better deal with France for 2021, in response to burgeoning shopper demand for extra French itineraries. In 2021, AmaKristina will reposition to the Rhône River, becoming a member of AmaCello, which may even sail a brand new Rhône / Saône itinerary, “Essence of Burgundy & Provence” between Chalon-sur-Saône and Arles. Cruise friends can study to cook dinner French meals at a culinary faculty in Valence. Land choices embody three nights pre-cruise in Geneva, Switzerland and three nights post-cruise in Barcelona, Spain.
Most notably, although, we like that for 2021, AmaDante will be part of AmaLyra on the Seine River and function a brand new “Impressions of the Seine & Paris” itinerary from Paris to Le Havre or in reverse. New land choices for that itinerary will embody two nights pre-cruise in Paris and 4 nights post-cruise in northern France (three in St. Malo with a go to to Mont St. Michel and one in Paris).
While in Paris on a pre- or post-cruise keep (from mid-July onward), a brand new sightseeing choice for cruisers is a tour of Hôtel de la Marine, an 18th-century palace on the Place de la Concorde. It was the French Navy’s headquarters from the time of the French Revolution via 2015. Reopening to the general public for the primary time in two centuries this summer season, it’ll showcase royal and state “period furniture,” tapestries and ornamental objects, displayed within the palace’s ceremonial ballrooms.
For those that love a little bit of bubbly, what higher place to style it than in France’s Champagne area? AmaWaterways will add a brand new land extension there in 2021; friends will go to vineyards and savor Veuve Clicquot and Moet et Chandon in tastings. This new land program might be accessible as an add-on to AmaWaterways’ “Europe’s Rivers & Castles,” “Rhine & Moselle Splendors” and “Vineyards of the Rhine & Moselle” itineraries.
Our second choice for a prime improvement transferring ahead for AmaWaterways is its total fleet progress. This 12 months, the road will launch the 156-passenger AmaSiena on the Rhine, Main and Moselle. Look for connecting staterooms, eating decisions together with a Main Restaurant and an intimate Chef’s Table Restaurant, a sundeck strolling monitor and a pool with swim-up bar. A professionally skilled Wellness Host might be onboard to conduct lessons.
In March 2021, AmaWaterways additionally will launch a sister vessel, AmaLucia, on Tulip Time cruises within the Netherlands and Belgium, earlier than repositioning it to the Danube, Rhine, Moselle and Main rivers. Separately, AmaBella and AmaVerde will rejoin the AmaWaterways European fleet in 2021, crusing Dutch and Belgian Waterways and the Danube.
And third on our listing of “top threads” for AmaWaterways is a brand new area of crusing. Although no particulars had been accessible at press time, Luxury Travel Advisor has confirmed with the road that AmaWaterways plans to introduce Egypt cruising and land adventures, beginning in January 2021.
For Avalon Waterways in 2020, our prime improvement is the road’s embracing of extra choices for time-starved vacationers and new-to-cruise friends needing a shorter voyage to see what river cruising is all about. Avalon is providing new four-, five- and six-day river cruise itineraries together with “Taste of the Rhine,” “Taste of the Danube” and “Heart of Germany.”
Formerly a vacation season cruise, the six-day “Heart of Germany” cruise is newly supplied in 2020 as a year-round choice. Sailing the Main River and Main-Danube Canal between Frankfurt and Nuremberg, Germany, the cruise additionally contains guided mountain climbing via a Bavarian village, touring of Wurzburg and Bamberg, beer tasting and far more.
Striving to create better consistency in ship and stateroom experiences is our quantity two decide for Avalon. The line will launch the brand new 164-passenger Avalon View on the Rhine this 12 months. It’s the road’s 14th so-called Suite Ship in Europe and its 17th worldwide. The new ship will embody two full decks of 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, famed for his or her floor-to-ceiling glass with one portion that drops all the way down to create an open-air balcony. Seeking the highest suite? Select both No. 308 or No. 310, each Royal Suites.
Greater deal with personalization / customization is our third prime improvement for Avalon Waterways in 2020. Its new “Your Way” program invitations cruisers to chart their very own tempo and faucets into Avalon’s sister firms, Monograms and Globus, so friends can e book their river cruise, then add on a land extension.
One choice is an Avalon land extension with knowledgeable, guided sightseeing. Another is a Monograms unbiased trip bundle with resort lodging, metropolis sightseeing and native host providers. Yet one other is a completely escorted Globus tour with sightseeing, resort lodging, transportation, and providers of a coach driver, tour director and licensed native guides.
For Tauck, Luxury Travel Advisor’s prime new improvement decide is the upcoming launch of the brand new, 84-passenger Andorinha, slated to sail Portugal’s Douro River beginning in March with three new itineraries. A hovering glass-ceilinged atrium will span each the Ruby and Diamond decks, filling the Andorinha’s foyer, reception space, fundamental restaurant and lounge with pure mild. Throughout the ship, choose native cultural touches embody beautiful Portuguese tiles.
Forty-two cabins will embody 300-square-foot suites (12 of them) on the higher Diamond Deck, and 225-square-foot staterooms (20 of these) totally on the vessel’s Ruby or mid-level deck. Other cabins vary from 150 to 200 sq. ft.
Douro River cruise vessels can function solely within the daytime by legislation, so Andorinha’s Sun Deck has been designed and outfitted to function a sightseeing platform with canopied Balinese day beds for snug, shaded lounging, plus an infinity-style pool that’s 5 occasions the dimensions of the plunge swimming pools on Tauck’s different river-boats. This deck additionally can have an out of doors grill, bar and pop-up Arthur’s restaurant that rises on hydraulic lifts to turn out to be a completely functioning informal eatery serving steakhouse fare and regional dishes. It’s an alternative choice to the principle Compass Rose restaurant.
Tauck’s new 12-day itinerary includes a seven-night Douro cruise on Andorinha with two-night resort stays in Lisbon and Madrid. Other choices are an eight-day “cruise-only” itinerary and an eight-day Tauck Bridges household cruise.
Tauck’s two particular 2020 departures will function Mickela Mallozzi, who’s seen above on the Asrlar Sadosi Festival in Navoi, Uzbekistan. // Photo by Madina Khusanova
A second new prime improvement for Tauck is its new eight-day “Christmas” crusing, “Yuletide Spirit: Brussels to Amsterdam” on Grace, with visits Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges in Belgium, plus Rotterdam, the Netherlands. While the December 6 departure is offered out, the December 13 and December 20 departures had availability at press time. Four 2021 departures are additionally accessible.
Our third “top thread” for Tauck is its persevering with deal with progressive cultural choices, together with two particular 2020 river cruise departures that includes Mickela Mallozzi, knowledgeable dancer, musician, and host and government producer of the Emmy Award-winning PBS sequence, “Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi.” The present chronicles her experiences touring the world, immersing herself in native folks dance, music and cultural traditions.
During the April 22 crusing of Tauck’s eight-day “Danube Reflections” crusing from Regensburg, Germany, to Vienna, and the reverse journey on October 14, she’ll present Savor friends how journey and dance intersect, and supply lighthearted, entertaining and interactive performances and workshops.
Luxury Travel Advisor’s prime decide for a serious improvement with Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours is its choice to tackle full administration of its complete European river cruise fleet this 12 months. That contains ships on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Saône, Rhône, Seine and Douro rivers. It’s all a part of Scenic’s international focus to make sure consistency and excellence in product supply throughout your complete fleet.
Scenic has managed six vessels within the fleet internally since 2017, with G&P Cruise Hotel Management dealing with a further 5. Scenic pressured that G&P has achieved a implausible job, provided that visitor satisfaction charges are about 95 p.c optimistic. But the choice to go in home is what the road calls its “next logical step” in consistency for a world model.
In addition, Scenic Group will profit from elevated buying energy, however extra importantly, it believes having your complete hospitality crew instantly employed and managed by Scenic will create the appropriate tradition. Scenic plans to spend money on high-level crew requirements, leverage e-learning and allow crew profession paths.
Another prime improvement for Scenic, second on our listing, is enlargement of cruise and land-based excursions to Egypt and Jordan for the 2020-2021 season, with new Oman and Israel escorted excursions as nicely. A brand new 12-day “Wonders of the Nile” itinerary features a cruise on Sanctuary Sun Boat III. This itinerary is roundtrip from Cairo and begins in Giza with a luxurious resort keep and three days of excursions (the Great Pyramids and different prime spots).
Guests then board the 34-passenger boutique ship to sail from Abu Simbel to Aswan. Fun actions for friends? They can take an non-compulsory scorching air balloon flight and so they’ll have curated, themed leisure afloat, comparable to a celebration full with Egyptian delicacies, music and dancing.
Another new choice is a 19-day “Egypt and Jordan Experience,” which incorporates sightseeing in each nations and a six-night Nile River Cruise on Sanctuary Sun Boat III. Scenic friends are immersed within the historic websites of each nations throughout excursions and whereas on a six-night Nile river cruise. Creativity abounds as friends can choose from a number of “one-of-a-kind” experiences, together with a re-enactment of Roman chariot races; a personal go to to the Royal Automobile Museum in Amman, Jordan; and floating within the Dead Sea.
Sanctuary Sun Boat III delivers an intimate boutique expertise modeled on the “Roaring Twenties.” Spacious cabins have outsized image home windows and facilities present in high-end motels, together with a Sun Deck pool and tented lounge chairs, in addition to high-quality eating within the Copper Tray Restaurant.
As a 3rd “thread” for the approaching 12 months, Scenic continues to develop robust enrichment choices. For instance, National Geographic photographers will sail on the April 13 crusing of Scenic Jade and the April 15 crusing of Scenic Pearl; each function roundtrip from Amsterdam. In addition, Scenic just lately expanded its partnership with National Geographic Expeditions to incorporate new itineraries — Rhône River, Rhine Christmas Cruise, Russian river cruise and so forth.
Fleet enlargement is our prime decide for what’s forward for Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line. This 12 months it’s including 4 new river vessels custom-built to navigate the Seine River in Paris. With design impressed by the road’s Viking Longships and constructed particularly to sail the Seine, these new 168-passenger vessels will function the eight-day “Paris and the Heart of Normandy” cruise, all beginning by 2021. Sailing roundtrip from Paris, friends on this itinerary will discover Giverny and Claude Monet’s gardens / farmhouse; find out about Joan of Arc in Rouen; and concerning the historical past of World War II in Normandy.
We imagine friends will love that the brand new Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid and Viking Skaga will dock adjoining to the Eiffel Tower, good for strolling out to discover town. The new Seine vessels are all barely smaller than the Viking Longships however can have most of the similar options, together with the Aquavit Terrace, a large stateroom selection and a Scandinavian design aesthetic.
Nothing has put European river cruising on the map like Viking’s sponsorship of PBS’ Masterpiece sequence via the years that the “Downton Abby” sequence air on TV. So, our second “top thread” for Viking is the continuation of robust partnerships that commemorate tradition and the humanities — drawing subtle luxurious vacationers and new-to-cruise friends onboard.
The Highclere Castle might be visited by Viking friends throughout a brand new five-day “British Collections of Ancient Egypt” extension. Seen driving is Lady Carnarvon. Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises
Viking just lately partnered with Focus Features, Universal Pictures and Carnival Films for the final fall’s launch of the brand new full-length “Downton Abbey,” movie based mostly on the sequence. Honoring the movie, the road just lately unveiled a brand new five-day, pre- and post-cruise extension, “Great Homes, Gardens & Gin,” that may give friends an unique have a look at a number of nation estates which have served as settings for PBS and Masterpiece productions.
Starting in 2021, this add-on might be accessible for Viking’s “Rhine Getaway” itinerary. Guests will obtain a Viking Privileged Access tour of Highclere Castle (the place “Downton Abby” was filmed) with gin tasting. They’ll additionally go to Broughton Castle, setting for the Masterpiece sequence, “Wolf Hall,” plus tour Chavenage House within the Cotswolds, identified from Masterpiece’s “Poldark.”
Finally, for our third Viking spotlight, we’re citing the brand new 82-passenger Viking Osiris, debuting on the Nile River in September — doubling the dimensions of Viking’s “owned capacity” in Egypt. Just a 12 months in the past, Viking launched the fully revitalized Viking Ra, its first owned-and-operated Nile vessel. During the 12-day, “Pharaohs & Pyramids” cruisetour, friends can expertise Egypt’s cultural treasures in seven locations. It begins with a three-night keep at a first-class Cairo resort and sightseeing. Guests will then fly to Luxor, go to the Temples of Luxor and Karnak after which board their Viking vessel for an eight-day roundtrip cruise.
They’ll obtain Privileged Access to Nefertari’s tomb within the Valley of the Queens and head out on excursions to Esna’s Temple of Khnum, Qena’s Dendera Temple advanced, Abu Simbel’s temples and Aswan’s High Dam. Other actions embody a go to to a Nubian village and elementary faculty, earlier than friends board a flight again to Cairo and keep one evening.
Some first-time Egypt vacationers might really feel a bit overwhelmed as tour guides relate unfamiliar tales of pharaohs and historical Egyptian gods. So, we like Viking’s innovation in launching two new, five-day pre-cruise extensions for this itinerary. These permit friends to boost their primary Egyptology information earlier than arriving in Cairo. Cruisers can have Privileged Access to archives and displays in London and Oxford that aren’t usually accessible to the general public. Guests will find out about well-known Egyptologist, Howard Carter, discoverer of Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s tomb, and Carter’s benefactor, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon.
On the brand new five-day “British Collections of Ancient Egypt” extension, cruisers will go to the Egyptian Collection on the British Museum early morning earlier than it opens to most of the people. They’ll get pleasure from a candlelight go to to the house and private museum of Sir John Soane, whose Egyptian antiquities embody a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus. Additional museum visits are included, as is a tour of Highclere Castle, the nation seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, to view the earl’s non-public assortment of Egyptian artifacts.