River Cruise News

Spine-tingling activities, deeper cultural experiences, sports-specific itineraries, and much more


Adding Glam to U.S. Waters 

Move over paddlewheel riverboats draped in last-century nostalgia. New-school ships cruising home waters look stylish enough to sail the Seine. Shout-out to the 184-passenger American Song, American Cruise Lines’ first in a fleet of five modern river cruisers, touting a four-story glass atrium, top-deck putting green, and all outward-facing cabins with private balconies. Doubles begin at a generous 304 square feet. Yea to complimentary amenities, including daily cocktail hours, Wi-Fi, and some shore excursions. The Song debuts this fall on the Mississippi, then moves to the Columbia and Snake rivers in 2019. 800-814-6880; americancruiselines.com

Wooing a Younger Crowd

Imagine a hipster hotel, taxi, bar, restaurant, nightclub, and yoga studio rolled into one sleek, black riverboat. No surprise then that U by Uniworld, an offshoot cruise line of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, books only 21-to-45-year-olds.

On U’s two ships, the A and the B, sip craft cocktails at the rooftop lounge, where DJs spin. Other allures? Mixology classes and silent discos where you don headphones to dance. U even partners with the VizEat app for supping in host homes along the ships’ routes.

U also embraces the heart-pumping pursuits of active-minded travelers, such as paragliding in France’s Vexin Nature Park. Seven-night cruises promise longer stays in buzzy cities such as Paris and port overnights for wee-hour club crawls. Go ahead, party hearty; morning excursions start late for needed sleep-ins.

The A plies the Danube, Main, and Rhine rivers; the inaugural cruise sails between Amsterdam and Frankfurt, departing April 14. The B sticks to the Seine; inaugural cruise sails round trip from Paris, departing April 21. 800-883-8785; ubyuniworld.com

Jean-Michel Cousteau gets up close and personal with a Hawksbill Turtle in Paupa New Guinea. PHOTO BY CARRIE VONDERHAAR.

Debuting Enticing New Programs

 Pick the brain of world-class explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of legendary ocean adventurer Jacques Cousteau, now partnering with Aqua Expeditions. Introduced briefly last year, the program rolls out in force this year, with multiple-night cruises on the 32-passenger Aria Amazon. Join Cousteau for jungle excursions and interactive Q&A sessions; he’ll even fine-tune your travel-video techniques. 866-603-3687; aquaexpeditions.com

 AmaWaterways launches “Sip and Sail,” a complimentary pre-dinner cocktail hour on board its European fleet when the season restarts late March. Martinis + no bill = new friends fast. 800-626-0126; amawaterways.com

Pairing Cruises With More Experiential Land Tours or Ocean Sails

A vintage Citroën

 Abercrombie & Kent ups the luxury quotient on its 12-night “Paris, the Loire & a Seine River Cruise,” combining a seven-night sail on the 146-passenger Amadeus Diamond with private shore excursions and pre-and-post boutique hotel stays including exclusive private tours. Explore Paris in a vintage Citroën, sip Vouvray at a primo vineyard, get goosebumps at a private organ recital in a Rouen monastery. The A&K group, limited to 24 guests, also gets perks such as a cocktail party, lunch at a Provençal farmhouse, a dedicated A&K resident tour director, reserved dining tables, and premium cabins and suites on board. Journey round trip from Paris, departing Sept. 9. 800-554-7094; abercrombiekent.com

Ocean cruise and longship river cruise

• For Tauck’s “Rhine Enchantment” trip, bunk three nights at Milan’s splendid Hotel Principe di Savoia, ogle da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and feast on a six-course lunch at a family-owned trattoria in Lake Como before boarding a seven-night Rhine cruise on the Grace or Inspire (each with 130 passengers). Journey between Milan and Amsterdam, departing April 9, with additional departures through October. 800-788-7885; tauck.com

Unveiling Radical Renovations

• CroisiEurope Cruises’ Renoir and Van Gogh unveil complete rebuilds this year. Expect more spacious staterooms and fresh contemporary designs with everything new from bow to stern. Experience glammed-up Van Gogh first on a four-night cruise, sailing round trip from Lyon, France, and departing April 2. Renoir struts its new stuff on a five-night cruise, sailing round trip from Paris and departing April 23. 800-768-7232; croisieuroperivercruises.com


• Tauck’s revamps of its Esprit and Treasures decrease capacity from 118 passengers to 98 and replace 30 150-square-foot cabins with 20 225-square-footers. The ships’ former Bistro, renamed Arthur’s, now employs a dedicated chef and features an open kitchen, ensuring deliciously casual alternative eats to Compass Rose’s fancier fare. The made-over Esprit sets out on its first cruise for seven nights between Amsterdam and Brussels, April 7. Treasures re-greets guests on a 14-night cruise, sailing between Amsterdam and Budapest and departing May 19. 800-788-7885; tauck.com


• Sail like an Egyptian on Ra, Viking’s recently acquired and radically rebuilt 48-passenger all-suite riverboat. Book the boat’s “Pharaohs & Pyramids” itinerary to bed at a Cairo haute hotel; gawk at Luxor, Egypt; cruise seven nights exploring less-crowded sites such as the Temple of Hathor in Qena and the Temple of Khnum in Esna; and relish a last-night Cairo fling. The 11-night cruise-tour sails round trip from Cairo, with departures March-June and August-December. 855-884-5464; vikingcruises.com

Le Golf National Golf Club

Targeting Specific Markets

• Amadeus unveils seven-night golf cruises this year. Packages include playing historic 18-hole courses such as Le Golf National Golf Club outside of Paris and Le Kempferhof Golf Club near Strasbourg, France. You get green fees, shared golf carts, and an onboard PGA teaching pro providing insider tips and advice. Amadeus Silver sails between Budapest and Passau, Germany, departing May 24; Amadeus Diamond sails round trip from Paris, departing Oct. 25. 844-462-6727; amadeus-rivercruises.com

• One’s no longer the loneliest number when you sail solo on some boats. New single cabins shout comfortable, not claustrophobic. Check out these singles options:
American Cruise Lines designed new solo staterooms at a generous 250 square feet for its modern riverboat fleet debuting this fall. You also get a spacious bathroom, private furnished balcony, and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. 800-814-6880; americancruiselines.com
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection touts numerous sails with waived or reduced single supplements. The River Royale’s “Bordeaux, Vineyards & Châteaux” itinerary that sails round trip from Bordeaux, France, offers deals for solo travelers on 33 departures, beginning March 18. 866-883-3684; uniworld.com

Uniworld buffet

Raising the Bar With More Excursions and Cultural Experiences

• Avalon Waterways debuts Active Discovery Danube cruises featuring fitness-focused and culturally immersive excursions. Hike to retrace WWII smugglers’ routes, jog through Vienna, and canoe down the Danube on the 138-passenger Avalon Luminary. Sails eight nights between Linz, Austria, and Budapest, with June, July, and September departures. On the 138-passenger Avalon Felicity, join a running tour in Amsterdam or a guided hike around Duisburg, Germany, on seven-night Rhine sails between Frankfurt and Amsterdam, with June through September departures. Additional Felicity seven-night high-energy cruises include biking along the Rhine and hiking on the Rheinsteig trail; sails between Amsterdam and Wiesbaden, Germany, with May, July, August, and September departures. 877-797-8791; avalonwaterways.com

Test your endurance on EmeraldACTIVE’s urban bike rides. PHOTO BY GREG PETERSON.

• Emerald Waterways unfurls 17 new complimentary “EmeraldACTIVE” excursions on its nine most popular itineraries, including the Douro and Danube rivers this year. Test your endurance on urban bike rides, or canoe on the Douro River in Pocinho, Portugal. Onboard yoga classes on some journeys encourage well-being stretches between rigorous outings. Among the energetic excursion itineraries: “Enchantment of Eastern Europe” and “Secrets of the Douro.” 844-428-8389; emeraldwaterways.com

• Set Twitter ablaze during a gala dinner at iconic 12th-century temple complex Angkor Wat, as Apsara dancers performing Khmer classical dance dazzle in an otherworldly candlelit setting. Find this inspiring new escapade on Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours’ “Luxury Mekong and Temple Discovery” journey aboard the 68-guest Scenic Spirit, custom-built for the Mekong. The 10-night trip travels between Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with departures from July through December. 855-430-4464; scenicusa.com 


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