After all the European-based river cruise hoopla of the past few weeks, one news item has gone largely unnoticed by the mainstream press, even though it stands to be one of the more significant developments in the Asian river cruising theater: Century Cruises took delivery of its new Century Paragon.
Capable of carrying 398 guests and measuring 465 feet, Century Paragon would be noteworthy on its own merits. After all, the ship is one of the most luxurious vessels afloat on the Yangtze, with an indoor swimming pool; a well-stocked Library and Internet Café; alternate dining venues; and a towering, seven-deck high atrium. That’s not to mention the staterooms, which range in size from 301 square feet all the way up to the 1,140 square-foot Presidential Suite.
This is different from, say, river cruising through Portugal where lines have entered into long-term lease agreements with ship owners and operators for exclusive use of the vessel, including naming rights. Instead, both Avalon and Uniworld will market Century Paragon as Century Paragon, with their own special touches.
Uniworld, for example, will host the majority of guests sailing aboard Century Paragon in what it calls “Uniworld Signature Suites” located aft on Bridge Deck, along with Presidential Suites 301 and 302. A dedicated Uniworld Desk will be situated in the Atrium, just outside the main cabin corridor for easy access.
Avalon guests, on the other hand, will be able to choose from other similarly sized staterooms.
Is there an advantage to sailing with one line over the other? You’d have to look at the full itineraries to determine that for yourself. But it does point to the complexity of cruise operations in Asia as the region becomes increasingly important to many North American-based river cruise lines that have the bulk of their operations and guests on the rivers of Europe.
Is Asia the next big river cruise destination? Perhaps, but it has been on the map for some time now. Experienced river cruisers are beginning to look beyond the Danube and the Rhine in search of new adventures. And if the launch of the Century Paragon is any indication, the next new adventure has arrived in full.
More information on the Century Paragon can be found by viewing our complete ship profile here on River Cruise Advisor.