COCHEM, Germany — In the spring of 2012, Avalon Waterways will introduce two sister ships to the Panorama — the Vista and the Visionary.

Onboard the Panorama’s christening cruise this past weekend, Avalon executives announced that the 164-passenger Vista will be almost identical to the 164-passenger Panorama at 443 feet in length.

The 128-passenger Visionary will be the same class of ship but 361 feet, which gives Avalon better docking options along the Rhine River, closer to city centers.

Like the Panorama, the two new river ships will feature newly designed 200-square-foot staterooms with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic windows that when opened transform the room into an open-air balcony. They will also have 172-square-foot cabins on the lower deck.

Also, the Vista and Visionary will have a bar and lounge, dining room, hair salon, fitness room, sky deck whirlpool and an open-air area for grilled lunches.

In 2012, Avalon will offer free wireless Internet for all passengers, and guests staying in the royal suites will have use of in-room iPads.

Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon, said the company is considering dining changes on Europe ships, such as dividing the main restaurant into two rooms with separate culinary experiences, creating a bistro at the aft of the ship or adding a wine and cheese lounge.

Avalon does not plan on retiring any of its older vessels next year. Thus, Avalon’s Europe fleet will total 11 ships in 2012, increasing the company’s capacity in Europe by 22%.

While Clark did not say how much the new ships cost, he said that “ships that are now costing 18 million euros, you could buy for 12 million euros in 2005.”

He said the rising cost of the ships is mainly due to onboard enhancements such as panoramic windows, marble bathrooms and improved sound-proofing.

In 2012, the Panorama will again sail cruises between Amsterdam and Budapest. The Vista will sail Danube cruises between Prague and Budapest, plus Amsterdam-Budapest sailings.

The Visionary will sail Rhine cruises between Basel and Amsterdam as well as several Christmastime cruises.


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