The fabled rivers of Europe, rich with looming castles, shore-side vineyards and romantic cafés, remain the special domain of very small vessels. Among the premium and luxury cruise lines plying the Rhine, the Rhone, the Danube, the Seine and other great European waterways, Viking River Cruises set the standard, and it set it high. The world’s largest river cruise line, Viking has more than one dozen ships based in Europe, including no fewer than six longships launched this year. Viking’s hallmark longships each carry 190 passengers, all in outside-facing cabins, and each European sailing includes guided shore excursions, onboard lectures and open-seat dining with regional specialties and complimentary wines. Viking’s Explorer Suites, two on each longship, are the largest on Europe’s rivers. It’s not surprising many passengers consider Viking’s river cruises an experience of sheer luxury, although its fares are quite affordable.
Meanwhile, fully half a dozen luxury river cruise lines, focusing on North American passengers, are stepping up efforts to outdo Viking. AmaWaterways, the first line to offer two-balcony cabins, a fleet of bicycles and a specialty restaurant, is highly regarded for its wine cruises and Christmas market sailings; its three dozen luxury riverboats each carry fewer passengers than Viking’s longships. A second rival, Avalon Waterways, boasts the youngest fleet in Europe, and its two newest ships, both launched this year, come with an extraordinary number of small suites. The Avalon Imagery II has 52 suites and 12 staterooms; the larger Avalon Passion features 67 suites and 16 staterooms. In the suites, glass walls retract to create “open-air balconies.”
Another luxury riverboat line, Scenic, is known for its Space Ships, so named to emphasize their spacious cabins and public areas. Scenic includes tips, tours and drinks in its fare, as well as a fleet of bicycles with electric motors and private butler service for each stateroom. In 2017 Scenic will introduce Scenic Culinaire on its Bordeaux and Rhone cruises, an onboard cooking class with local ingredients, cooking stations and a cheese and wine cellar.
Tauck River Cruises, known for the “relaxed elegance” of its small European ships, will launch its newest vessel, the 130-passenger MS Joy, in 2017. The Joy offers the most space per guest of any European riverboat, with 22 suites measuring 300 square feet and eight two-story loft cabins. Not to be outdone, Uniworld launched the Danube River-based SS Maria Theresa in 2015. This ornate 150-passenger vessel, dubbed by Uniworld president Guy Young a “floating castle,” boasts regal, 18th-century-style interiors. Moving ahead, Uniworld will launch another elegant, all-inclusive super-riverboat in 2017, the 128-passenger Joie de Vivre, for cruising the Seine River from Paris to Normandy.
And there’s more. Crystal Cruises created Crystal River Cruises as its entry into the crowded waterways of Europe. This year marks the inaugural sailings of the 154-guest, all-suite Crystal Mozart, the only riverboat with a full wrap-around promenade. The Crystal Mozart currently waltzes its guests up and down the Danube River. And in 2017 and 2018 Crystal will debut no fewer than four more ultra-luxury riverboats. No doubt Crystal’s rivals, including Viking, can be counted on to add yet more high-end vessels to the interiors of Europe, a region said to have more navigable rivers than any other in the world.
Corsica with steep, gray cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean and sandy beaches attracting summer visitors, is a French-governed island sometimes confused with Sardinia and Sicily, Italian islands to the south. Fortunately, all three islands share the same love for good wine, food and sun-splashed beaches.
IHG Hotels & Resorts is thrilled to announce the launch of a new mobile product feature for members: IHG Wi-Fi Auto Connect. This feature is now available exclusively in the IHG One Rewards mobile app for both iOS and Android users and will automatically connect IHG One Rewards members to WiFi upon arrival at more than 5,000 IHG hotels worldwide — no separate passwords or log-ins needed. This is in addition to the exciting benefits of being an IHG Business Edge member. IHG Business Edge provides small- and medium-sized businesses access to a user-friendly portal that displays comprehensive spending and savings data while providing the convenience of direct booking with a guaranteed discount.
If you’re ready to do a little holiday catch-up with your besties, make a beeline for Conrad New York Downtown. The lobby metamorphosed into a holiday forest of heavenly scented, decorated Virginia Spruce trees. Make your first stop ATRIO Barista Station in the lobby for a complimentary hot spiced apple cider (until Dec. 3) or hot chocolate (Dec. 22–24).
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
London welcomes its newest boutique hotel just in time for the holiday season. The Chelsea Townhouse, located on Chelsea’s exclusive Cadogan Gardens, sits within proximity to its sister hotel, 11 Cadogan Gardens, and joins the Iconic Luxury Hotels portfolio.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
The Tampa EDITION recently launched two new offerings this festive season. Book the Holiday in the Sun promotion and receive complimentary valet, $50 in food and beverage credit, $50 in spa credit, and a signature EDITION Le Labo amenity. This offer runs through Jan. 5. Book here.