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August 20, 2014
River cruise lines are expanding their fleets in response to consumer demand

By: Marilyn Green
With demand for river cruises still growing (to the degree that travelers are advised to book far ahead if their hearts are set on a particular date, destination or ship), many river lines are adding more ships to their fleets.
Thousands of new berths are under construction and scheduled to launch in 2015, when they will sail on a host of different rivers from Mississippi to Europe and Asia. 
The new builds will give travel agents many more options to offer both repeat river cruisers and first timers. Here is an overview of the new river cruise ships that will start sailing worldwide in 2015. 
American Cruise Lines will launch a new 150-passenger riverboat, whose name has not yet been announced, on the Mississippi River in the spring.
Avalon Waterways will debut four new ships next year including: the 36-passenger Avalon Myanmar on the Irrawaddy River; the 36-passenger Avalon Siem Reap on the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam; and two 128-passenger ships, Avalon Tranquility II on the Rhine River and Rhone River, and Avalon Tapestry II in France. Both of the latter two ships will have 12 staterooms and 52 suites.
AmaWaterways’ 124-guest AmaDara will join AmaLotus for sailings along the Mekong River, and the new 164-passenger sister vessels AmaSerena and AmaVista will sail the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers.
CroisiEurope, currently in the midst of an ambitious newbuild program, will have a fleet of 41 river cruise vessels by the end of 2015. On the Rhone River next year, the company will launch the 100-passenger Rhone Princesse; and the 96-passenger, shallow-drafted paddle wheeler Loire Princesse will launch on the Loire. The 132-passenger Gil Eanes, built entirely by CroisiEurope without the usual partnership with Douro Azul, will set sail in Portugal on the Douro River.
Currently only one year old, Emerald Waterways will double its fleet next April when two 182-passenger ships, Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn, begin cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers and their tributaries.
The new Haimark Luxury Cruises will introduce early next year the 56-passenger Ganges Voyager, the 44-guest Amazon Discovery and the 24-passenger Mekong Princess.
Scenic Cruises will launch its 10th and 11th ships in April, the 169-passenger Jasper and the Opal, sailing on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers and their tributaries.
Tauck will launch Esprit, a new 130-passenger Jewel Class ship, in the spring. Esprit will sail on the Rhine, Danube and Main rivers.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will inaugurate the 155-passenger Maria Theresa to sail on rivers through regions of Hungary and Bohemia on set and seasonal holiday itineraries.
Viking River Cruises has 12 vessels on order for 2015 including 10 of its 190-passenger Viking Longships. Spring launches include Viking Eir and Viking Mani, sailing the Rhine River; Viking Skirnir, which will cruise Holland’s waterways and the Rhine/Main/Danube rivers network; and Viking Lofn and Viking Modi sailing the Rhine/Main/Danube rivers network. Summer launches include Viking Gefjon and Viking Vidar in May; Viking Ve and Viking Mimir in June; and Viking Vili in July; all dedicated to sailing the network of Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.
The other two new Viking vessels are the specially designed 98-passenger ships Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla, to sail the Elbe River. The newbuilds join the recently refurbished Viking Schumann and Viking Fontane to double the company’s capacity on the Elbe River.

Special excursions and incentives
for trips on America's only hotel barge


The only hotel barge traveling America's inland waterways. Built in 1998, the 198-guest R/B River Explorer was conceived by barging expert Edward G. Conrad, Jr., who wanted to share America's stories while offering travelers a complete vacation experience. He believed that exploring the heritage and culture of the country's waterways and nearby towns aboard a spacious, relaxing vessel would let travelers experience America in a whole new light. He was right! Today, the R/B River Explorer offers four to ten-day excursions to seven regions of America's rivers, including the lower and upper Mississippi River, the Cumberland River Valley, the Ohio River Valley and Missouri River and along the inland Texas-Louisiana Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The R/B River Explorer is made up of three separate vessels - the DeSoto, the LaSalle and the Miss Nari, a 3,000 horsepower towboat, the only one of its kind in the U.S. On board, guest can enjoy homestyle family cooking, including the "Blue Plate" specials, the Perpetual Cookie Jar (it's bottomless!) The Guest Pilot House and regional entertainers. Every excursion's pricing is fully inclusive of specially planned shore activities, meals and tips.

Lou Hammond & Associates
Phone 616-552-9194, fax 616 552 9218