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Just like the ocean and expedition cruise segments, the river cruise market has a steady backlog of new ships to introduce to clients eager to return to domestic and international waterways this year. While most of the nearly two dozen vessels set to debut are carried over from 2020 following pandemic-related delays and suspensions, a few were meant to launch in 2021.
Of course, all dates are subject to change, as river cruising’s eventual return for North Americans (at least in Europe) is contingent upon U.S. travelers being permitted to fly there. On the other hand, domestic river cruising — not under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) capacity-determined no-sail ordinance — may come back before ocean cruising does. These are the shiny new vessels to anticipate once that happens.
AmaWaterways: AmaDahlia, AmaLucia and AmaSienaAmaWaterways was ready to launch AmaSiena, the sister-ship to the recent AmaMora, last summer — but now the fresh riverboat will take its maiden European voyage this year in March. Joining the fleet will be another in the series, AmaLucia (also in March), as well as AmaDahlia, which was purpose-built for the Nile River in Egypt and is set to launch in September.
American Cruise Lines: American Jazz and American MelodyFor customers looking to resume cruising closer to home, American Cruise Lines will unveil a pair of new riverboats along the Mississippi River. American Jazz, which is set to launch in February, and American Melody, which will set sail in August, will be continuations of the brand’s Modern Riverboat series, which began with American Harmony and American Song.
American Queen Steamboat Company: American CountessAlso waiting since 2020 to introduce its latest ship on the Mississippi, American Queen Steamboat Company will finally launch its new American Countess in 2021. The 245-guest vessel sneaks just under CDC’s 250-passenger definition of a cruise ship and can set sail starting in March.
Aqua Expeditions: Aqua NeraAnother ship from the original 2020 bunch, Aqua Expeditions’ Amazon-based Aqua Nera is on the calendar for a June launch. The contemporary newbuild will carry only 40 guests in 20 suites from Iquitos, Peru.
Avalon Waterways: Avalon ViewLast year, Avalon Waterways planned to expand its Suite Ship fleet and signature Panorama Suites with the new Avalon View. In 2021, the line will have the chance to do so in April through the Netherlands and Belgium.
Emerald Waterways: Emerald LunaAlways earmarked for this year, Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Luna will extend the Star-Ship fleet with another 180-guest riverboat along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. A staff of 51 will attend to 72 suites and 19 staterooms beginning in April.
Riviera River Cruises: Geoffrey ChaucerRiviera River Cruises’ claim to fame is that it sells exclusively through travel advisors. As the U.K.-based brand expands into the American market, it is also growing its fleet with the new all-suite Geoffrey Chaucer, built in 2020 and launching in April from Amsterdam.
Tauck: AndorinhaAnother river vessel on hold since last year is Tauck’s Andorinha, which is slated to sail Portugal’s Douro River. The intimate 84-guest riverboat chartered from Scylla will first embark on weeklong journeys in April.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: S.S. La Venezia, S.S. Sao Gabriel and S.S. SphinxUniworld Boutique River Cruises has three unveilings pushed into 2021. Among the line’s fresh Super Ships will be S.S. Sao Gabriel on the Douro and S.S. Sphinx on the Nile, as well as S.S. La Venezia, redesigned from River Countess, in Italy. Uniworld’s riverboats are scheduled to restart in late spring.
Victoria Cruises: Victoria SabrinaAmerican-managed Victoria Cruises was set to debut Victoria Sabrina as the world’s largest river cruise ship last year. However, it won’t officially launch along China’s Yangtze River for the international market until 2021. The season typically begins in March.
Viking: Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Gersemi, Viking Hervor, Viking Kari, Viking Osiris, Viking Radgrid and Viking SkagaEver-expanding Viking has a total of seven ships slated to launch this year, carried over from 2020. Two will be additions to its signature European fleet of Viking Longships — Viking Gersemi and Viking Hervor — and four will be shorter variants for the Seine River — Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid and Viking Skaga. All ships are expected to set sail in the spring. Viking Osiris, meanwhile, will be the line’s first Longship-inspired ship built just for Egypt’s Nile in December.