River Cruise Industry Grows Despite the Economy
Despite the economy, the river cruise segment continues to show signs of growth. Travelers are realizing that river cruises offer comfort, convenience and variety. The ship is both a hotel and a means of transportation. You don't have to get up early like you do when on a traditional tour or cruise to see the sites. Your ship will be in a new and exciting place every day. Ranging from picturesque villages, breathtaking riverbanks with castles, colorful fields with windmills or vibrant capitals, every day will be a unique experience on your European waterways cruise. So you get to go inland in Europe, which you cannot do on ocean cruising, but still don't have to pack and unpack like you do on bus tours.
In response to increased demand, several companies have plans to introduce new ships in the coming year, while others are renovating.
Avalon Waterways will launch two new 138 passenger ships in 2010, the Felicity and the Luminary. These ships have the unique feature of sky grills and an alternative lunch dining option on the outdoor roof area that can accommodate 40 passengers. The will also both feature elevators, which not all river cruise ships have. On deck: one additional ship in 2011 and two more in 2012. This expansion is after Avalon launched the Affinity and Creativity ships just this year.
AMA Waterways will launch the Annabella and possibly another new build in 2011. AMA is also looking to expand it's Southeast Asia Mekong River program with a second ship in 2011.
Uniworld launched the River Beatrice this year and introduced the River Tosca in Egypt. They'll also be "touching up" other vessels in 2010. The River Countess and River Dutchess will have French balconies added and the River Empress will have refurbishing done on her staterooms. The River Baroness will have a refurbish of her public areas and the River Queen will have a total refurbish.
Viking River Cruises will be renovating their Russian Vessels. The Viking Pakhomov will undergo a total renovation similar to the overhaul of the Viking Surkov and Viking Kirov, which will result in larger staterooms with hotel-style beds, among other updates. The Viking Lomonosov will undergo an interior refurbishment slated for completion in 2011.
Tauck launched its third vessel in three years, the Swiss Jewel in April. There are no plans for new ships in 2010, but two new European itineraries will be added; the 12 day Strasbourg to Prague Serenade and the 19 day Romance of the Rhine and Danube.