River cruising is growing so fast that guests – and travel agents – almost need a flowchart to keep track of the rapid changes. Next year, for example, the industry will see 25 brand-new ships enter service in Europe alone.
Here’s a brief overview of what river cruisers can expect next year in the way of new vessels:
Viking River Cruises, not surprisingly, leads the pack with an astonishing 14 Viking Longships, four more than this year’s Guinness World Record-setting christening in Amsterdam, and ten more ships than were christened at the same time in 2012. Expect the buzz around these to be big – very big.
Emerald Waterways is another line worth watching next year, as it takes delivery of its first new vessels, Emerald Sky and Emerald Star. Emerald Waterways is an offshoot of Australian tour operator Scenic Tours, and will be positioned as a more mainstream alternative to the company’s existing river cruise product, which features the line’s trendsetting Scenic “Space Ships.”
AmaWaterways will take deliveries of AmaReina and AmaSonata in 2014, another pair of sisters to the highly successful AmaCerto. Aside from offering guests more personal space, AmaReina and AmaSonata continue the line’s tradition of offering Twin Balconies on almost all of their new vessels. These are staterooms that feature both French and full step-out balconies.
Avalon Waterways is taking delivery of three new vessels next year, Avalon Poetry II; Avalon Illumination and Avalon Impression. Illumination and Impression will be sisters to the highly popular Avalon Panorama, while the Avalon Poetry II will be slightly more intimate at 361 feet in length as opposed to 443. She will be able to accommodate guests in 52 suites and 13 staterooms, creating a spacious and welcoming environment onboard.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection will debut the highly anticipated sister ship to its runaway hit, S.S. Antoinette. But S.S Catherine will, in typical Uniworld fashion, boast her own unique styling and décor. No two Uniworld vessels are entirely alike, and the line’s cautious and measured approach to expansion has served it well in the past.
Long-standing tour operator Tauck is also pulling out all the stops on two brand-new vessels that will enter service next year. MS Inspire and MS Savor will be significantly larger than the line’s existing vessels, yet they will carry just 12 additional guests. Tauck is also pulling out all the stops to revitalize the lower accommodation levels by creating river view staterooms that feature raised “loft style” seating. Each ship will also have some of the largest suites afloat – and more of them, too.
A-ROSA will also be launching a new vessel next year, to be called A-ROSA Flora. Not much is known yet about A-ROSA Flora, but we do know she’ll be a sister to the line’s popular A-ROSA Silva and will sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. She is currently under construction at the Neptun Werft yards in Rostock, Germany.
We’ll bring you more information on this new ship and others as it becomes available.
What ship launch are you most excited about for 2014? Let us know by using the comment form below.