River cruise companies are on a building spree and are readying to launch an abundance of ships in Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. Here is a company-by-company breakdown of launch plans for 2011:
Uniworld River Cruises
One of the first river cruise launches of 2011 will be Uniworld River Cruises’ River Antoinette, which will launch in March on the Rhine River. The River Antoinette will have a 20-by-13-foot, heated swimming pool (pools are a rarity on Europe’s river ships) and glass-enclosed balconies. Sister ship to the River Beatrice, the River Antoinette will be the largest ship in Uniworld’s fleet at 443 feet long and 37.5 feet wide. It will sail Uniworld’s Castles Along the Rhine itinerary.
One month later, Uniworld will introduce a newbuild in Portugal: 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.
In May, Uniworld will unveil the 206-passenger River Victoria on Russia’s Volga River.
Uniworld signed a five-year deal to charter the Russian river ship, which is being completely refurbished. Series of three cabins will be combined into two, which will create cabins ranging in size from 135 to 210 square feet. There will be 10 suites.
Viking River Cruises
In 2010, Viking River Cruises said it was investing $250 million to build eight ships over the next three years. The first of these, the 264-passenger Viking Emerald, will replace the Viking Century Sun on China’s Yangtze River in March.
The Emerald will be 361 feet long, with 128 staterooms, including two 840-square-feet presidential suites. All staterooms will have a balcony with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.
In July, Viking’s new 188-passenger Viking Prestige will start sailing the eight-day Romantic Danube itinerary from Budapest to Nuremberg, Germany (and the reverse). It is being built at the Neptun Shipyard in Rostock, Germany, with environmentally friendly engines, suites that measure 310 square feet and French balconies on the upper and middle decks.
In May, Avalon Waterways is scheduled to unveil the Avalon Panorama, which will feature 64 newly designed, 200-square-foot suites on the top two decks.
Each suite will feature a seating area adjacent to an 11-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic window.
The suites will be in addition to 17 staterooms on the lower deck measuring 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.
Ama Waterways is launching its second Mekong River ship in September. The 124-passenger Amalotus will make stops in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, Cambodia. It will feature 226-square-foot standard cabins, 10,290-square-foot junior suites and two 452-square-foot suites. Like its first 94-passenger Mekong ship, La Marguerite, Ama Waterways will take partial ownership in the Amalotus, as well.
On Russia’s Volga River, Ama Waterways is launching the newly renovated, 212-passenger Amakatarina. Ama has signed a five-year lease agreement with the ship’s owner, a Russian company, Vodohod.
The Amakatarina will replace Ama’s existing leased vessel in Russia, the 160-passenger Tolstoy. The ship 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.
Tauck is back in the shipbuilding game, too, with the 118-passenger Treasures scheduled to set sail in August.
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 different Tauck itineraries throughout Europe.