Jasmine O’Donoghue lines up the new and exciting additions available in river cruising in 2018.
APT will return to river cruising in Russia in 2018 for the first time since it was put on hold in 2014 due to political uncertainty. Two river cruise departures are scheduled for August, both designed to tie in with land journeys. The 13-day Russian Waterways itinerary will explore the network of rivers and lakes that joins Moscow with St Petersburg, stopping by lavish city palaces, country towns and Soviet era remnants. Two shorter river cruising itineraries in the Balkans and Netherlands have been introduced: the eight-day Springtime In Holland And Belgium and 14-day Balkan Gems. In the 2018 Europe brochure Freedom of Choice sightseeing activities have also been grouped into themes to suit individual preferences. The choices are: Cultural Insight, Gourmet Delight, Active Exploration, Relax & Revive.
Avalon Waterways will introduce a new ship in Asia, a refurbished Treasure of Galapagos in South America and roll out four new special interest cruises. The 36-passenger Avalon Saigon will begin sailing in Myanmar and Vietnam from September 2018 and a new 16-day itinerary on Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River will also make its debut. Nature lovers will be able to take part in the new Gardens & Nature experience on the Tulip Time cruise in Apr, including a visit to Keukenhof Gardens and a guided walk of Amsterdam’s secret hidden gardens. Other special interest cruises include a Managing Directors’ cruise led by Avalon Waterways’ Australasian head Stewart Williams, for the first Active Discovery on the Rhine cruise departing 3 June 2018; and two departures of a Journeys Club Cruise through France with some of the company’s leadership team.
Evergreen Cruises & Tours
Evergreen Cruises and Tours has expanded its cruise portfolio, offering new river and ocean combinations in 2018. River cruises can be linked with select ocean cruises with Princess Cruises, Holland America Line or MSC Cruises. Since the program launch, the 26-day Best of the Baltic — a 15-day Budapest-Amsterdam river cruise paired with an 11-day Baltic itinerary with Princess Cruises — has proved the most popular. By the end of 2017, three new river cruise ships will have been introduced: Emerald Destiny in May; Emerald Radiance in June and Emerald Liberte in September.
Scenic’s 2018 program introduces an 11-day Scenic culinary cruise in the Bordeaux region of France on 8 May 2018, joined by Australia’s first MasterChef Julie Goodwin. The operator has recently debuted Salt Lounge on Scenic Diamond in Bordeaux and Scenic Sapphire in the south of France. Scenic said the lounge is a “luxurious space handcrafted out of salt bricks” which “creates the health benefits and therapeutic microclimate of a natural salt mine”. Also new is the Scenic Culinaire cooking class on offer along the Rhone or through Bordeaux. Scenic Culinaire participants will shop with the chef before heading back to the ship for an on board cooking class.
Travelmarvel is introducing the MS Kronshtadt river ship on three charters in its 2018 Russia program. Itineraries are the 11-day Treasure of Russia Cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow, 14-day Treasures of Russia & Helsinki from Helsinki to Moscow and 20-day Baltic Charm & Treasures of Russia. The company has also enhanced its most popular itinerary — the 15-day Amsterdam to Budapest — with the introduction of Express Tour options in select destinations. The operator is also offering three departures for its Douro Discovery cruise through Portugal and Spain on board the MS Douro Serenity, a new addition in 2018.
U by Uniworld
The new travel brand for 21-45 year olds from Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, U by Uniworld, will make its debut in 2018. U by Uniworld will be semi-inclusive and the fare will cover two meals a day, gratuities and some excursions, while alcoholic drinks will not be included. On board, guests will be able to take part in painting classes on the top deck, mixology and cooking classes, a silent disco and yoga. Nine itineraries are available on two ships, with The A sailing along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers and The B deployed on the Seine River. U by Uniworld will offer four eight-day itineraries with overnight stops and longer stays in major cities and three “super cruise” options which combine two or more of the eight-day itineraries in a 15-day or 22-day trip. Rounding out the nine options are two five-day holiday departures – Dashing Through The Danube and A Merry Little Christmas Cruise – incorporating Christmas in Europe and a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Uniworld’s 2018 portfolio features itineraries in Europe, Russia, Egypt, India, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The program includes the new Remarkable Rhine, which cruises from Basel to Amsterdam, showcasing The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland along the way. Uniworld has enhanced the 10-day Enchanting Danube with either a Munich pre-extension or Prague post-extension now available. The Morning with the Masters exclusive excursions have also been expanded and are now offered at the Hermitage in Amsterdam on the Tulips & Windmills/Legendary Rhine/Remarkable Rhine, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on the European Jewels and KHM fine art museum in Vienna on multiple itineraries.
Viking Cruises’ 2018 river program features new itineraries in Ukraine and Egypt, along with cruises across Central Europe, France, Portugal, China and South East Asia. Viking will welcome the 48-passenger Viking Ra to the fleet in March 2018, offering three room categories, a spa, two Jacuzzis and an outdoor pool. The new addition will introduce the 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids cruisetour, which begins with a three-night stay at a hotel in Cairo, followed by a flight to Luxor, for a seven-day roundtrip sailing on the Nile River to Aswan, before a flight back to Cairo for a final night in the city. Also new is the 11-day Kiev to the Black Sea itinerary, which visits Ukraine’s historic cities of Zaporozhye and Kherson.