Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

With travelers increasingly flocking to the exotics, river cruise operators are responding.

In just the past month, two lines, Avalon Waterways and CroisiEurope, said they will sail the Nile this year. And Uniworld River Cruises will test the waters of the Peruvian Amazon.

"I think it is a really exciting destination," said Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge. "We've seen so much interest from our guests in what's new and different. We are very excited to have pulled (the Amazon) together."

Uniworld will sail the river in partnership with Aqua Expeditions, using its 32-passenger Aria Amazon. Bettridge said the agreement came together very quickly and has had great response. Likewise, she said the company's ships on the Nile and the Mekong are selling fast.

Asked if the partnership might be a precursor to Uniworld launching its own ship on the Amazon, Bettridge said the sailings will help the company "understand what the environment is about. What are the best opportunities for Uniworld? How can we do it with the highest quality?"

She said Aqua Expeditions is a great partner because it meets Uniworld's luxury standards.

"The ship is just stunning. It's also about the level of quality they are able to bring, whether through customer support, wellness, dining. All those things come together."

Uniworld is offering six and seven-day sailings on the Amazon in conjunction with land trips put together by sister companies under the Travel Corporation umbrella. One is a 15-day itinerary that includes Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and Cusco. The other is an 11-day trip that includes time in Lima.

Avalon Waterways, which partners with Delfin, is currently is the only other U.S.-based river line selling Amazon cruises.

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