River Cruise Newbuilds for 2011

New designs and enhanced features make river cruise ships stars of the waterways By: Marilyn Green
AmaWaterways’ Panoramic Lounge// © 2010 AMAWaterways
AmaWaterways’ Panoramic Lounge// © 2010 AMAWaterways

Agent Education, Resources and More

As new ships enter the market in 2011 with features never imagined for river cruising, the companies are offering extensive support, education and fam opportunities. Here are a few recent announcements.

In 2011, AmaWaterways will launch a new-and-improved online agent training program called AmaAcademy that will provide all the latest updated information about the company’s ships, destinations, agent selling tools and more.

In April, Avalon Waterways unveiled an agent specialist program and, since then, more than 1,500 have participated in at least one facet, with more than 150 becoming Avalon Waterways Specialists. To qualify, agents must review the recorded four-part Avalon Waterways Webinar Series, complete two Travel University courses and participate in an interactive course showcasing the new Avalon Panorama.

Scenic Tours is developing a plan to allow agents to access promotional templates, rebrand them with their individual identity and send them directly to their clients through a third party. In early 2011, agents will be able to access the e-mail platform directly from the Scenic Tours website and go to a branded portion of the e-mail platform to access content and send it to their clients. Agents will be able to measure the success of their campaigns in real time and download prospect lists of clients who have expressed interest.

Tauck offers an online agent river cruise training seminar, co-op programs, self-mailers and sell sheets. It also provides financial incentives to encourage agents to experience a Tauck river cruise for themselves.

November, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection introduced a new Web-to-print online program that allows agents to select a marketing piece, customize the piece with their agency branding, pay online and mail to clients. In addition, the line has updated its online River Cruise Specialist training program and currently has 4,000 graduates.

In June, Viking River Cruises began paying commission on every aspect of a client’s booking, from the cruise and airline tickets to shore excursions, port charges, taxes, fees, travel protection plans and more. In addition, Viking will offer commissionable upgrades — such as Premium Economy or Business Class air upgrades, beverage packages, gift orders and more — and continues to pay commissions 29 days prior to departure. 877-668-4546

More Images

Restaurant on the Avalon Panorama // © 2010 Avalon Waterways
Restaurant on the Avalon Panorama // © 2010 Avalon Waterways

On board restaurant // © 2010 Scenic Tours
On board restaurant // © 2010 Scenic Tours

A suite on Tauck’s Swiss Treasure // © 2010 Tauck
A suite on Tauck’s Swiss Treasure // © 2010 Tauck

A stateroom on Uniworld’s River Antoinette // © 2010 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise collection
A stateroom on Uniworld’s River Antoinette // © 2010 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise collection

The lobby of the Viking Emerald // © 2010 Viking River Cruises
The lobby of the Viking Emerald // © 2010 Viking River Cruises

Web Exclusive

Click here for an update on 2011 River Cruise itineraries

River Cruise ships making their debut in 2011 are so far from the vessels we saw 10 years ago that they hardly seem to be the same breed. Designers have found ways to make staterooms larger and have added amenities such as king-size beds, luxury linens, flat-screen televisions, full and French balconies, complimentary Internet access and room service. New vessels have as many as four restaurants, heated pools, fitness rooms and saunas. Here are some newbuilds that are sure to appeal to your clients.

AmaWaterways’ 161-passenger AmaVerde makes its debut in 2011, representing the next generation of ship design for the company. The new ship features all outside-facing accommodations and the line’s new twin-balcony concept, which combines a step-out balcony with a floor-to-ceiling French balcony. Staterooms average 214 square feet, with suites running 255 to 350 square feet, including a sitting area with a sofa and two chairs, minibars and bathrooms with a separate bathtub and shower. AmaVerde has an extensive choice of dining venues with two main restaurants: the Verde Fine Dining Restaurant and Bella Cucina, which serves classic Italian fare at dinner. Another innovation is the Erlebnis Chef’s Table, which features a private chef who prepares a special tasting menu in a 24-seat venue. The ship also has al fresco dining on the Sun Deck and private dining in the six-seat Wine Room. Room service is available in the suites for breakfast and dinner.

Other public areas include the main lounge; a wellness area with a sauna, a massage area and a beauty salon; and an Observation Lounge. The ship also has a heated swimming pool on the Sun Deck and complimentary bicycles. AmaVerde will be sailing two-week Magnificent Europe itineraries between Amsterdam and Budapest.

Also launching in 2011, AmaWaterway’s 124-passenger AmaLotus will expand the line’s pioneering success on the Mekong with seven-night cruises from Siem Reap, Cambodia, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, part of the line’s Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong program. The custom-designed vessel has a restaurant, Panoramic Lounge, Saigon Lounge, a library, a gift shop, a spa, a fitness room and a sauna. The Sun Deck has an outdoor whirlpool and a bar.

AmaLotus’ 62 staterooms and suites are all outside-facing and more than 90 percent have balconies. Deluxe category staterooms are 226 square feet; 10 junior suites provide 290-square-foot accommodations with a king-size bed, a balcony and a sitting area, plus a bathroom with a shower and a separate tub. AmaLotus’ two, 452-square-foot suites have king-size beds, private balconies, sitting areas with full-size sofas and bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and separate showers.

Avalon Waterways
Avalon Waterways’ new ship, the 162-passenger Avalon Panorama, opens up the entire suite as a balcony. The new design element — a large seating area next to a sliding-glass window that’s seven feet tall and 10 feet wide — is found in the 64 Panorama Suites located on the top two decks (each suite boasts 200 square feet). Seventeen Deluxe Staterooms on the lower deck measure 172 square feet.

Launching May 14 in Mainz, Germany, Panorama is meant to appeal to all the senses — from its sweet-smelling bath amenities to the spectacular views of the river and countryside. The ship will sail the 14-night Magnificent Europe itinerary between Amsterdam and Budapest and some of the Christmas market departures.

“Our new ship redefines space,” said Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Space that was thoughtfully designed to enhance traveler comfort and views, while also bringing an indoor/outdoor living experience onboard.”

Scenic Tours
After its maiden voyage in March, Scenic Tour’s new Scenic Pearl, with 85 double cabins and one single, is scheduled to operate the 15-day Jewels of Europe itinerary between Budapest and Amsterdam, as well as departures of the Black Sea Explorer seven-night cruise between Budapest and the Black Sea. Eighty-two percent of all cabins on the ship have balconies. Private balcony suites have full-size outdoor balconies, while Royal and Junior suites, and suites on the superior Danube Deck, include the services of a private butler.

Public rooms include the 102-foot Panorama Lounge and Bar and three outdoor viewing areas; the Observation Lounge, a teak deck at the bow of the ship, is a passenger favorite. There are three separate dining areas, a wellness area and a small fitness room, and complimentary bicycles are available.

Structurally, the ship will have water-injected exhaust gas silencers for all diesel engines to reduce smoke and noise levels; exceptional sound insulation, ventilation and air conditioning; and LED lighting.

Next year, Tauck will be introducing the new 118-passenger Treasures, sister to the line’s current vessels. The ship will introduce a new interior design style, which is also being rolled out fleetwide in 2011. By keeping passenger numbers down to around 120 guests, Tauck aims to reserve more space for accommodations. The new ship will have fourteen, 300-square-foot suites with marble baths; the additional 45 junior suites and cabins range from 150 to 183 square feet. Eighty-five percent of the cabins will have floor-to-ceiling windows and French balconies.

Room service breakfast is available in Category 6 suites, and an alternative bistro featuring lighter fare will be available in the Lido Bar. Passengers also have some complimentary meals on shore that feature regional cuisine at local restaurants. Public rooms onboard include a fitness center and a 24-hour Jacuzzi on the Sun Deck and an Internet Corner in the Lido Bar. There is complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship, and Nintendo Wii games are also available.

The ship will sail several itineraries during its debut year, including The Rhine & Moselle; Amsterdam to Budapest; Budapest to the Black Sea; The Blue Danube; and The Grand European Cruise.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s 160-passenger River Antoinette — the sister ship to its River Beatrice — debuts in March. Among its outstanding features are made-to-order English Savoir beds with fine linens and flat-screen televisions. Suites are designed with full balconies, and staterooms on the Princess and Duchess decks have French balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be raised or lowered with the touch of a button. Most of the 73 staterooms will measure 196 square feet, with 20 staterooms at 163 square feet; eight junior suites are 294 square feet, and the Owner’s Suite is 391 square feet.

Public rooms include the main lounge with a full-service bar, a cozy library, an elegant restaurant, a sun deck with chess boards and shuffleboard, the Leopard Bar, a Sky Lounge, a fitness room, a pool, massage treatments, a gift boutique and an elevator. Guests will find a complimentary 24-hour specialty coffee and tea bar, as well as wireless Internet in the public rooms, and they can make use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks on land.

In 2011, River Antoinette will sail the eight-day Castles Along the Rhine itinerary between Amsterdam and Basel, Switzerland, as well as the eight-day Rhine Holiday Markets between Basel and Cologne, Germany.

On the 128-passenger Douro Spirit, Uniworld’s second newbuild for 2011, each stateroom will have a French balcony and a flat-screen television. Public areas include a lounge with a full-service bar and a dance floor, an open-seating restaurant, a sun deck with a swimming pool and a boutique. The ship features  L’Occitane amenities, complimentary bottled water in the staterooms and complimentary coffee and tea throughout the day. The ship will sail the 11-day Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley between Lisbon and Porto, Portugal.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises is launching two newbuilds in the company’s $250 million fleet development program, which includes eight new ships in the next three years.

Leading the way, is the 188-passenger Viking Prestige, which is due to launch in July. Prestige will sail the eight-day Romantic Danube itinerary between Budapest and Nuremberg, Germany. Sister ship to Viking Legend with its innovative propulsion system, the newbuild will have two suites at 310 square feet with separate sleeping and sitting areas, two flat-panel televisions, walk-in closets and larger bathrooms with bathtub/shower facilities. Deluxe staterooms are 155 square feet and singles are 135 square feet. All staterooms are outside-facing and 75 percent of them have French balconies. Public areas include a single-seating restaurant, the Observation Lounge and Bar, a sun deck, a library and an onboard boutique.

Viking Emerald, another new ship in development, is due to launch on China’s Yangtze River in March, sailing 12-, 16- and 17-day itineraries. Emerald will have two Presidential suites — at 840 square feet each — with a separate sitting area, two flat-panel televisions, a bathroom with bathtub/shower facilities and a walk-around balcony. The ship also has 14 suites (measuring 327 square feet each), four junior suites (at 301 square feet) and 112 deluxe staterooms (at 269 square feet). All are outside staterooms with balconies and sliding-glass doors.

Public areas include a single-seating restaurant, the Observation Lounge and bar, Emerald Bar, a sun deck, a library, a boutique, an Internet cafe and a coffee bar.

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