River Cruising

by Margaret Backenheimer and J.D. Brown

May 1, 2019
Cruising

RIVER CRUISING HAS BECOME one of the fastest-growing segments of water travel, enabling passengers to take in the sights of the world’s great inland waterways, especially in Europe. The rising tide of interest in river travel prompted an upgrade of the ships themselves, where the facilities and amenities increasingly resemble those of their big sisters, the swank, ocean-going, “all-inclusive” luxury cruise ships.

Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, initiated this upscaling a decade ago with the introduction of an extensive fleet of sleek, 190-passenger Longships. These premium-grade vessels, including six more launched this year alone, prove far more than floating tour buses with beds, bars and buffets, offering sleek, well-appointed staterooms, free shore excursions in every port, complimentary WiFi and beer and wine with lunches and dinners.

To compete with Viking, several river cruise lines further closed the luxury gap between river and ocean cruising. AmaWaterways, for example, now operates 16 river ships in Europe. Its newest models feature heated pools with swim-up bars; marble bathrooms; suites with twin balconies; fleets of 25 bicycles for shore use; cooking demos; and a wealth of workout, wellness and exercise classes — luxury flourishes once associated exclusively with top-notch ocean-going cruise ships. The 194-passenger AmaMagna, launched this year, is Europe’s largest and widest river ship, boasting elevator service to its sundeck, a wellness studio with spa, four dining venues and a fold-down watersports and leisure platform with a tour boat aboard. Uniworld, another staple of the luxury river cruising industry, is not to be outpaced. Uniworld is set to introduce the S.S. Bon Voyage in 2019 and the S.S. La Venezia and S.S. São Gabriel in 2020. S.S. Bon Voyage was previously known as the River Royale. Once the renovation is complete and the ship is ready for service, it will include a new swimming pool and a new lounging area. Newlydesigned suites and marble bathrooms adorn the entire ship.

Not to be outdone, Australian-based Scenic River Cruises updated all eight of its vessels sailing the Rhine, Main and Danube in 2019. Scenic’s 163-passsenger Space Ships offer all-inclusive fares that include gratuities, private butler service for all passengers, unlimited free beverages and spirits, temperature-controlled therapeutic salt lounges and 24-hour room service. As the first river cruise line inducted into La Confrérie de la Châine des Rôtisseurs, Scenic provides true gourmet dining as well.

The newest all-inclusive luxury line to hit the waterways of Europe is Crystal River Cruises, offspring of Crystal’s renowned ocean-cruising operation. Since 2016 Crystal brought five ships to the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers, where they stand out as the only fleet of all-suite, all-balcony, all-butler vessels. Among Crystal’s lavish perks are the inclusion of all gratuities, 24-hour dedicated private butler service, 24-hour in-room dining, farm-to-table cuisine, king-sized beds, extensive spa facilities, guest laundries, power-assisted e-bikes and at least two free shore excursions at every port.

If the posh amenities and deluxe onboard options of a luxury ocean cruise are what you’re looking for on Europe’s inland waterways, this rising tide of premium and all-inclusive boutique river ships should fit the bill.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

© Ukrphoto | Dreamstime.com

News
Sep 15, 2019

Cunard Launches Exclusive Musical

Cunard premiered the musical Top Hat aboard Queen Victoria last week. Next week, the musical premieres aboard Queen Elizabeth. The musical is slated to appear exclusively on Cunard ships for the next four years.

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

Lufthansa. Photo: Alexander Efisko | Dreamstime.com

Feature
Sep 15, 2019

Lufthansa Launches Innovative Carbon Offset Program

Lufthansa is starting an innovative new carbon offset program, Compensaid, which will allow customers to purchase CO2 neutral aviation fuels. The platform allows customers to replace the fossil fuel of their flights with sustainable aviation fuel.

Desert. Photo: Galyna Andrushko | Dreamstime.com

Daily
Sep 15, 2019

Shop New Desert-Inspired Capsule Collection From The Luxury Collection

The Luxury Collection again teamed with artist Sofía Sanchez de Beta to unveil an exclusive capsule collection, this time with 54 pieces inspired by the Arabian Desert and Emirati culture. The ready-to-wear line includes an array of separates created with Dubai’s climate in mind, such as lightweight blouses and tunics, flowing jumpsuits, long skirts and dresses.

© GNTO

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

LG Pay. Photo: Piotr Swat | Dreamstime.com

Feature
Sep 14, 2019

LG Pay

With more mobile pay options like Apple Pay and Venmo becoming commonplace, electronics manufacturer LG is getting in on the action.

Hawaiian Airlines. Photo: Ajdibilio | Dreamstime.com

© Brett Critchley | Dreamstime.com

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. Photo: Jason P Ross | Dreamstime.com

Santa Monica, California. Photo: Tupungato | Dreamstime.com

© GNTO

The Island of the Knights

Sponsored Content

Google Search. Photo: Viorel Dudau | Dreamstime.com

Feature
Sep 13, 2019

Google Expands Price Comparison Tool

Google announced last month it added additional features to its price comparison tool. The tool helps users plan trips and compare rates. The new features include one that shows whether the price of a planned flight plus accommodations is low, average or high.

© VanderWolfImages | Dreamstime.com

News
Sep 13, 2019

Singapore Airlines Begins Non-Stop Service Between Singapore, Seattle

Singapore Airlines launched its non-stop service between Singapore (SIN) and Seattle (SEA), Sept. 3. Seattle is Singapore Airlines’ fourth U.S. destination following Los Angeles (LAX), New York (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) to receive non-stop service to and from Singapore.

Beach access ramp for wheelchair on South Beach, Miami. Photo: Alkan2011 | Dreamstime.com

Daily
Sep 13, 2019

Florida Beaches Put Accessibility First

For those without accessibility issues, going to the beach can be simple. There’s nothing to do but pack up your gear, head to the shore and walk out onto the sand. For those who may be inhibited, however, the beach poses more of a challenge.