By Ensemble Travel Group · October 2021
The travel industry as a whole has evolved in recent months, but despite the frustrations of many changes, there are some changes we’re pretty happy about. Here are the new things happening in river cruising:
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ new Cruise & Rail program has officially launched, and it looks incredible! These journeys combine all the best of luxury travel by river cruise and by private train, with both travel styles affording guests all-inclusive amenities with the comfort and convenience of being able to visit a multitude of destinations without having to unpack in each city or live out of a suitcase. And, of course, boutique style and excellent service are par for the course on any Cruise & Rail journey. Combine a memorable sailing through the islands of the Venetian lagoon with a voyage across the Balkan Peninsula into Istanbul or a trip through the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. Or, perhaps, add a layer of intrigue to your Enchanting Danube cruise as you venture into Romania’s mystical past and tour the Castles of Transylvania. There’s even a rail-only option on The Trans-Siberian Express, the world’s longest journey by single train carried out in complete elegance onboard the Golden Eagle.
Avalon Active Discovery Cruises introduce you to the people and places of Europe in the most engaged, exciting and fun ways imaginable. Immerse yourself in the history and culture at each port with an excursion to a historic castle, a culinary tour, a painting class, or even a chance to dress up in real Roman attire at a Roman Clothes Workshop or reenact the Roman Games. Tour an extinct volcano and coal mine, or visit sites off the beaten path, such as a chocolate museum ... sure to entice your sweet tooth! You can descend into an underground salt mine … or ascend a mountain during a guided climb. Avalon even offers the chance to explore an ice cave, take an archery lesson, help a farmer in his apricot orchard, or conduct an orchestra and compose your own waltz. Every port gives you a world of possibilities as you interact with the locals and choose the dynamic and interactive activities that appeal to you most. It's the Old World in a whole new way!
Founded over 20 years ago, Viking’s award-winning, state-of-the-art Viking Longships®, destination-focused itineraries, and culturally immersive experiences have awarded them several accolades including the #1 River Cruise Line as voted by guests in Cruise Critic’s Cruisers’ Choice Awards. Viking offers prime docking locations in the heart of Europe and cruise fares that include everything you need. Additionally, starting in 2022, guests can set sail on Viking’s highly anticipated voyages along the Mississippi River, bringing the Viking experience closer to home! All five Mississippi River journeys will include a free shore excursion in every port, as well as a variety of optional choices.
Image Credit: Viking Cruises, Mississippi River
Whether you’re planning your first-ever river journey or your fifth, AmaWaterways’ award-winning AmaMagna will exceed your every expectation as you sail through the heart of Europe along the legendary Danube River. Twice the width of traditional river cruise ships, AmaMagna offers the ultimate luxury of space within stunning balcony suites measuring 355-710 sq. ft. For even more breathtaking river views, head up to the Sun Deck where you’ll find a heated swimming pool, whirlpool, walking track and innovative pop-up sky bar. Indulge in the freshest locally sourced cuisine within four unique restaurants on board, enhance your best self at the expansive Zen Wellness Studio with outdoor spin bikes, massage rooms and a juice bar, or cozy up in the chic onboard cinema. On shore, you’ll explore Europe’s grand capitals and charming hamlets on a variety of included excursions. AmaMagna’s specially curated 7-night itinerary, Magna on the Danube, includes a visit to Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace and an exclusive evening wine tasting experience in the Austrian town of Spitz not offered on any other ship.
You can also discover a new level of luxury along Europe’s majestic waterways with Crystal River Cruises. Crystals’ gorgeous fleet of all-suite, state-of-the-art river ships feature the largest suites in all European river cruising, extraordinary personal attention, butler service for every suite, and delicious farm-to-table dining. With the highest staff-to-guest ratio among all European river lines, and professionals chosen for their expertise and friendly personality, Crystal’s genuine hospitality sets the stage for a journey beyond compare. Experience Crystal Bach’s summer series where you can revel in the charms of the Low Countries - Holland and Belgium - as you sail through a network of canals and rivers to discover the treasures of the region. Or make up for lost time with Crystal Mahler’s 10-night destination-intensive voyages where you can enjoy the wonder of the Moselle Wine Region on a journey rich in contemporary beauty and UNESCO treasures: from Basel’s architecture to Amsterdam’s canals and café culture to iconic cathedrals in Cologne and Strasbourg.
American Queen Steamboat Company has grown beyond their signature paddlewheelers with the addition of Victory Cruise Lines, and it was important they build on their namesake flagship American Queen to encompass the new experiences they offer. Introducing American Queen Voyages™, their new brand that offers the most varied and comprehensive portfolio of North American itineraries. American Queen Voyages is comprised of river, lake and ocean voyages, as well as expeditions, which include their new Alaska and Central America expedition experiences beginning in 2022. Accented with the tagline Discovery Runs Deep™, American Queen Voyages usher in a new era in travel experiences. Mighty rivers, lakes and oceans will transport you to places few others have really seen, where tradition lives and breathes, but the heritage, tradition, and incredible service of American Queen Steamboat Company will continue to live on. The American Queen Voyages rebrand will take place over the next few months as they unveil additional exciting aspects. Stay tuned!
To learn more about any of these river cruise experiences, contact your travel advisor.
Main Image Credit: AmaWaterways AmaMagna, Bratislava, Slovakia