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.
Situated deep within the Scottish Highlands, just steps from many lakes and mountains, lies 57 Nord. This collection of two design-led boutique hideaways blends the region’s Norse-Gael heritage by incorporating Scottish craftsmanship, modern Scandinavian design and panoramic views into both structures.
Oslo’s Art Deco connections just grew stronger with the opening of Sommerro, housed within a historic building in the city’s West End neighborhood of Frogner. The structure itself was once the location of the city’s original electrical company, Oslo Lysverker. The conversion to urban, luxury lodging features 231 guestrooms, 56 residences, seven restaurant and bar options, and meeting and event spaces for up to 150 people. There’s also a 100-seat gilded theater and expansive wellness space, including a full-service gym and Oslo’s first, year-round rooftop pool, sauna and terrace.
Key West International Airport recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of its $100 million expansion. Roman Gastesi, administrator, Monroe County; Richard Strickland, director of airports; and others attended the ceremony and outlined details of the Concourse A terminal expansion project.
From 24-Hour Butler Service to a Sky Pool: Boutique Luxury Awaits at Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences in Los Cabos
Set on a seaside bluff overlooking Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences is a Baja paradise specializing in serene vistas and impeccable hospitality, offering a Pacific coast lifestyle with authentic Mexican touches. Guests can now earn a fourth night free at the stunning resort, plus a $100 resort credit, when booking through March 20, for travel through June 15.
Adventure tour operator Explore Worldwide recently conducted a study to find the most underrated travel experiences around the world. The operator analyzed more than 350 lesser-known destinations and experiences across more than 130 countries, ranking them based on how high its Trip Advisor score fared against how many people actually reviewed the activity and how many Google searches the experience received.
Lodging and hospitality company Angama announced the November 2023 opening of Angama Amboseli, an intimate, 10-suite lodge set in Kenya’s private, 5,700-acre Kimana Sanctuary, against the iconic backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, located just across the border in Tanzania.
There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*
There is nothing better than the gift of travel. Instead of giving your loved ones material items, give them an experience they will never forget. This year, Emerald Cruises offers excellent Black Friday deals on Europe and Southeast Asia river cruises, as well as on the latest collection of luxury ocean yacht sailings on Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara.