There is going to be a plethora of river cruise launches next year. So many, in fact, that it's hard to keep track. There will be newbuilds big and small, on rivers as far ranging as Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. So, as 2010 comes to a close, here is a calendar of river cruising events for 2011 -- which ships are launching, when and where.
Uniworld River Cruises' River Antoinette, which will launch in March on the Rhine River, will have a 20-by-13-foot, heated swimming pool (a rare feature on European river ships) and glass-enclosed balconies featuring window panes that slide up and down. At 443 feet in length and 37.5 feet wide, the River Antoinette, sister ship to the River Beatrice, will be the largest ship in Uniworld's fleet.
Most of the 73 staterooms will be 196 square feet, and 20 staterooms will be 163 square feet. There will be eight junior suites measuring 294 square feet each and one owner's suite at 391 square feet.
The River Antoinette will sail Uniworld's Castles Along the Rhine itinerary. The ship is being built at the Shipyard de Hoop in Lobith, Netherlands. The inaugural cruise will take place March 18 to March 21.
• • •
This year, Viking River Cruises announced that it is investing $250 million to build eight new ships over the next three years. The first of those ships, the 264-passenger Viking Emerald, will replace the Viking Century Sun on China's Yangtze River in 2011.
The Emerald will be 361 feet long and will have 128 staterooms, including two presidential suites that will measure 840 square feet each. All staterooms will have a balcony with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. The Emerald is sailing on three Viking itineraries: the 12-day Imperial Jewels of China, the 16-day Roof of the World and the 17-day China's Cultural Delights.
Uniworld is introducing a newbuild in Portugal in April, the 128-passenger Douro Spirit, which will replace the 126-passenger Douro Queen on Uniworld's Portugal, Spain and Douro River Valley itinerary. Uniworld will have a long-term charter on the Douro Spirit, which is being built at the Navalria shipyard in Portugal by the ship's owner, Douro Azul. The Douro Spirit's maiden voyage sets sail on April 28, sailing along the Douro River roundtrip from Porto, Portugal.
In May, Avalon Waterways is unveiling the Avalon Panorama, which will feature 64 newly designed, 200-square-foot suites on the top two decks. Each suite will have a seating area adjacent to an 11-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window. The suites will be in addition to 17 staterooms on the lower deck that measure 172 square feet each. Avalon employed a new interior-design team to tackle the Panorama's design features, which include marble bathrooms, new Avalon-branded bedding called Comfort Collection by Avalon and love seats in the suites. The Panorama's inaugural sailing will take place from May 13 to 18, departing from Amsterdam. The christening ceremony will take place on May 14 in Mainz, Germany.
• • •
Also in May, Uniworld will unveil the 206-passenger River Victoria on the Volga River. Uniworld signed a five-year deal to charter the Russian river ship, which is being completely refurbished. The number of staterooms will be reduced, creating cabins ranging in size from 135 to 210 square feet. There will be 10 suites. The River Victoria is being rebuilt at the MRSC Shipyards in Moscow. Its maiden voyage will take place on May 20 along the Volga River, sailing from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
• • •
The River Victoria will be joined on the Volga by the newly renovated, 212-passenger Amakatarina. Ama Waterways has signed a five-year lease with the ship's owner, Russian company Vodohod. The Amakatarina will replace Ama's existing leased vessel in Russia, the 160-passenger Tolstoy. The Amakatarina is being stripped entirely and is being converted from a 400-passenger to a 212-passenger vessel with 106 cabins, 76 of which will feature balconies.
Viking's new, 188-passenger Viking Prestige will sail the eight-day Romantic Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg, Germany (and the reverse). It is being built at the Neptun Shipyard in Rostock, Germany, with ecologically friendly engines, suites that measure 310 square feet and French balconies on the upper and middle decks.
Tauck World Discovery is back in the shipbuilding game, too, with the 118-passenger Treasures scheduled to be christened in August in Germany. Currently under construction at the Vahali Shipyards in Gendt, Netherlands, the Treasures will feature improved bedding and an enhanced cabin decor, both of which Tauck is implementing fleetwide for 2011. The ship will sail on five Tauck itineraries throughout Europe.
Ama Waterways is launching its second Mekong River ship next year. The 124-passenger Amalotus -- which will make stops in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, Cambodia -- will have standard cabins that will be 226 square feet, 10 junior suites that will be 290 square feet and two suites that will be 452 square feet each. Like with its first 94-passenger Mekong ship La Marguerite, Ama Waterways will be partial owner of the Amalotus, as well.
Pandaw River Cruises is adding another ship to its fleet of Southeast Asia river cruise vessels, the Saigon Pandaw, construction of which is slated for completion in November.
The ship will be Pandaw's fourth Mekong river ship, joining the Mekong Pandaw, Tonle Pandaw and Indochina Pandaw. All four ships will offer cruises through Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Saigon Pandaw will have 30 cabins averaging nearly 200 square feet in size. The cabins will be outfitted with French doors that will open onto a common deck, where passengers can sit to view the passing landscape.
For late 2011, the Saigon Pandaw is sailing charter only and will sail a regular season for 2012-13. It will sail Pandaw's Mekong Exploration seven-night cruise from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City through Phnom Penh.
In the last year and a half, Pandaw River Cruises, a Singapore-based river cruise line with headquarters in Scotland, opened a U.S. reservations and sales office in Breckenridge, Colo., to boost sales stateside.