River cruise lines are steering more ships toward France for 2014 in what appears to be a continued increase in interest in the destination.
Since first introducing river cruises on France’s Rhone River in 2011, Tauck has experienced a 137% increase in bookings in France, where it sails its 118-passenger Swiss Emerald. The company started sailing a partial season in France in 2011, and due to demand it has been sailing a full season there since 2012.
Adding to that, in 2014, the company will also deploy its 118-passenger Swiss Sapphire to sail two new itineraries on the Seine River: a two-week Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London itinerary, from $6,790 per person, not including airfare; and a 10-day “Rendezvous on the Seine” itinerary from $4,590 per person, not including airfare.
Tauck’s preseason bookings for 2014 for France river cruises are already up more than 650% over the same time last year, and up nearly 1,300% over the same time two years ago, the company reports.
And other lines have plans to sail more ships in France in 2014 too. Next spring, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection will unveil the Catherine, sister ship to the 164-passenger Antoinette, on France’s Rhone and Saone rivers.
Uniworld’s 132-passenger River Royale, which is currently sailing those rivers, will move to France’s Bordeaux region, a new destination for Uniworld. The new Bordeaux itineraries will be an eight-day Bordeaux, Vineyards & Chateaux and 15-day A Portrait of Majestic France cruise.
Uniworld will have some company in Bordeaux — a new river route for U.S. river cruise lines, which typically offer France river cruises either on the Rhone and Saone rivers in Provence, or in Paris and Normandy in the North.
For 2014, Viking River Cruises will introduce a seven-night Bordeaux itinerary on the 190-passenger Viking Forseti, a Viking Longship that was christened this year.
The developments in France come on top of growth in 2013 in the destination. This year, AmaWaterways moved its 150-passenger Amalegro from the Danube to the Seine, a move that gave the company 43.6% more capacity in France in 2013 compared with 2012.
And Scenic Cruises repositioned its 169-passenger Scenic Emerald ship to France from the Main and Danube rivers for the 2013 season.