CroisiEurope will launch a third paddlewheeler for service in 2018. // © 2015 CroisiEurope
Feature image (above): CroisiEurope sails on the Elbe River, a shallow waterway that flows through several cities and famous wineries. // © 2015 iStock
The 96-passenger Loire Princesse, which debuted on the Loire River this year from Strasbourg, France-based CroisiEurope, has been a success for the cruise line. So much so that not only is the huge, family-run company launching a similar ship — Elbe Princesse — on the Elbe River next year, but it has also just announced a third ship order for 2018.
The Loire and the Elbe are wonderful waterways, lined with top-draw cities and famous wineries. The only catch is that they are difficult, shallow-water rivers, with eccentric variations. A specially designed shallow draft ship is crucial to successful cruising on these rivers.
Rather than using its own shipyard in Strasbourg to build these unusual vessels, CroisiEurope has turned to companies that are part of the Neopolia Marine group, in partnership with STX France shipyards in Saint-Nazaire, France, which have produced some of the most important seagoing ships in the industry, including Norwegian Epic and Queen Mary 2.
The ships’ design, with two stern paddlewheels, has very shallow draft and two pump jets that give the vessels exceptional maneuverability. Therefore, the company expects the 80-passenger Elbe Princesse to be able to cruise the river year-round. When it debuts in April, sailing between Prague and Berlin, Elbe Princesse’s technical features will allow it to berth at the center of cities, just steps away from historical sites in destinations such as Potsdam and Dresden in Germany. The ship will be 311 feet long and will have 40 outside staterooms, each 161 square feet.
CroisiEurope’s third paddlewheeler (deployment has not yet been announced) will be 50 feet longer than Elbe Princesse, with 58 staterooms. Both the Elbe vessel and the new order will use the line’s signature fabrics from Missoni Home in their decor.
With the launch of Elbe Princesse, CroisiEurope — which in 2016 will celebrate its 40th year in business — will deploy a fleet of 44 vessels. Onboard announcements are made in both French and English on the line’s ships, and accommodation size is on par with most river cruise ships. All CroisiEurope executive chefs work with Michelin-starred Paul Bocuse, and beverages are always unlimited. Shore experiences are exceptional and varied, and beginning next year, all itineraries will offer selections that are included in the fare.
Agent commission starts at 15 percent and rises with productivity through the company’s Mon Ami Club.