Which is the best River Cruise Company for Europe ?

This is a question I get from my clients all the time and to answer it would be like choosing which child was the best of your children!

They all have their redeeming qualities and differences and it could really depend on ones own preferences as to the outcome. Let me give you an example – Uniworld River Cruises  www.uniworld.com has announced that they are going totally all inclusive for their 2014 European River Cruises (which means they will include unlimited beverages onboard including wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks, juices, plus all shore excursions) which sounds the best except for the non-drinker who ends up paying more for their river cruise for those beverages they won’t consume. These people might think its best to choose Avalon Waterways www.avalonwaterways.com who only provide wine, beer and soft drinks at dinner which is reflected in the price.

Another example is with Viking River Cruises  www.vikingrivercruises.com and all their brand new “longships” that they have recently christened.  While it is so nice to be able to travel in the comfort of a new ship, in order to keep their pricing competitive, they made the decision to put in more staterooms which in turn hold more people.  All river cruise ships that travel on the Danube are regulated and cannot be longer than 443 feet.  The new Viking ships have 95 staterooms or 190 passengers where if you compare that to AMA Waterways www.amawaterways.com whose new ships are the same size, they only have 82 staterooms holding 164 passengers.  So Viking River might have the best pricing, but AMA Waterways have more public space onboard.

Talking about having more space onboard brings me to Tauck River Cruising  www.tauck.com/river-cruises  as they step it up a notch with their new ships having larger rooms, more dining options and capping the passengers at 130 in 67 cabins to get the best space ratio category. They include all beverages, the gratuties, a signature special experience and all shore excursions.

Unique for 2014 is Scenic River Cruise www.us.scenictours.com introduction of their new lower priced line Emerald Waterways www.emeraldwaterways.com which will be a first in the industry where one company has two distinct types of river cruises to choose from.  Scenic Tours originated in Australia selling package tours and is still privately owned there. Scenic also  offers the all inclusive concept but Emerald will only have wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Their aim with the new Emerald line is to target a younger demographic with their two ships having swimming pools that inventively convert into a cinema and their open-air balcon system that allows you to enjoy it no matter what the weather.

A new player in the North American market is A-Rosa Cruises www.arosacruises.com which has been operating in Europe for years but has now picked a few of their departures to cater exclusively to English speaking passengers. It will be interesting to see if they are able to keep up with the other big operators.

So you can see that its tough to pick the “best” one as each has their own unique benefits.  Viking River claims to have the “greenest” ships featuring diesel-electric hybrid engines specially designed for low vibration and minimal environmental impact. AMA Waterways is famous for their fresh food brought on from local ports. Avalon Waterways have the most innovative design in their cabins where they’ve turned the bed to face the french balcony sliding glass doors. Uniworld offers an interesting mix of programs for their shore excursions including Go Active, Gentle Walking, Do as the Locals Do and Village Day.

If you would like some additional information on any of these companies, ships or their itineraries, please feel free to drop me an email.  If you’ve already sailed on any of them – which one was your favourite and why ?

RiverCruiseLadyLinda

linda@therivercruiselady.com

 

Scenic Tours Launches Emerald Waterways

Scenic Tours announced the launch of a new premium river cruise line called Emerald Waterways, which will debut two new ships in early 2014 and is aimed at attracting a younger audience. The 182-passenger, 443-foot long sister ships Emerald Sky and Emerald Star, will debut in spring of 2014 and will cruise 7 to 14 night itineraries on the Rhine, Danube, Main and Mosel rivers.

 

Managing Director for Scenic Tours and Emerald Waterways, Chris Townson said “We believe we can attract a younger demographic, too, with value for money as the emphasis”, although he stressed the line would not be actively marketing to families.

 

Townson also said Emerald Waterways is positioning itself as a competitor to brands such as Viking Cruises and Avalon Waterways. He said the line would be competitive within the four-star range of cruise products while also boasting a handful of innovative design touches and nearly all-inclusive pricing. The most innovative new bit of design planned for the twin ships is a dual-purpose area at the aft of the ship that transforms from an indoor, heated pool with retractable roof during the day to a cinema at night. The rest of the ships’ new features have become standard, these include: good-sized suites, balconies in a majority of cabins and an open-air alternative dining space.

 

Emerald Waterways will include beer, wine and soft drinks at meals, shore excursions, transfers and tips within the cost of the overall fare, as does Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. Additionally, the line will offer free return flights to U.K. passengers traveling from London’s Heathrow airport and other regional airports. For passengers traveling from cities and countries outside the U.K., a spokesperson for the line said: “We can arrange flights for guests on a case by-case basis — however if the cost of the flight from a country other than the U.K. goes over an allocated budget, we would charge the guest extra. Or they can take the cruise as a ‘cruise only’ and book their own flights.”