A cover story about the new batch of executives that took over last year at a few of the major river cruise lines will be out next week. And in reporting the story, I have to admit, I got kind of amped up about river cruising again. These new leading ladies spoke with that newbie zeal that is kind of contagious.

Which isn't to say river cruising ever totally lost its groove, but between Viking's shipbuilding slowdown this past year and a post-Paris terror attacks slump that cast a shadow over Europe business in 2016, the segment was kind of begging for a refresh.

And it feels like it's coming. Between the launch of the millennial-focused U by Uniworld next year, AmaWaterways' double-wide, mega river cruise ship slated for 2019, and American Cruise Lines unveiling its modern U.S. riverboat this spring, among other buzz-worthy developments, it just seems like a fresh wave of energy and investment is bestowing itself on the river cruise world.

Viking is back in shipbuilding mode too, with seven new vessels slated for 2019. Including the extra-wide AmaMagna, AmaWaterways is launching a total of three vessels in 2019, the most it has launched in a single year since 2002. And other river cruise lines are growing and innovating too.

Avalon is expanding its Active Discovery program, which I was told includes such activities as kayaking and spelunking (okay, they called it "cave exploration," but I'm calling it spelunking because when else will I get to use that word?). CroisiEurope is launching a vessel on Africa's Chobe and Zambezi rivers next month. Viking will have its first company-owned ship on Egypt's Nile River in 2018. And Scenic has partnered with National Geographic on river cruises next year.

There are changes afoot, that's for sure. And it feels like river cruising is entering its next interesting chapter of evolution. Should be a fun next couple of years.
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