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Crystal has successfully expanded from ocean to river cruising, and Viking has gone the other direction in a big way — already launching six award-winning sea vessels with many more scheduled to come. Following in the river brand’s footsteps are CroisiEurope and Vantage Cruise Line with their own ocean entries.
Vantage, whose parent company just celebrated its 35th year in operation in 2018, owns and operates a fleet of riverboats on the Rhine, Danube, Main, Moselle and Seine rivers, and claims approximately 5% of the European market. In the past, the group has chartered vessels beyond Europe, but now it’s gearing up to introduce its own global ocean ships, the brand-new Ocean Explorer in 2021 and Ocean Odyssey in 2022.
Unlike Viking — which scaled up with larger seagoing ships, carrying close to 1,000 passengers each — Vantage is staying consistent with its current 134- to 176-guest capacities, with a pair of sister ships accommodating up to 170. Thanks to its size, the vessel will be expeditionary in style and head to remote regions such as Antarctica. In fact, Explorer’s initial 11 itineraries are now on sale, and the maiden run will be the “Essential Asia: Hong Kong to Singapore Adventure Cruise.”
Guests will be divided across a total of 77 cabins, including TriLuxe Suites that can be connected for family and group travel. Staying true to its solo traveler-friendly nature, the ship will encompass 15 staterooms just for individuals. The vessel’s X-Bow will also be noteworthy for facilitating greater stability and smoother sailing for all, as well as being ideal for penetrating icy waters.
Congruent with most river amenities, creature comforts will additionally extend to gourmet regional cuisine; included beer and wine at dinner; and a small passenger-to-crew ratio. Upping the ante will be a multilevel observation lounge, a swimming pool, a spa and fitness center, an outdoor movie screen, an expedition staff and multiple platforms for launching Zodiacs, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
In much the same way, CroisiEurope, the French line known primarily for its barge and river cruising, is planning an even greater ocean presence. Second to its La Belle de l’Adriatique vessel, La Belle des Oceans will be added to the fleet this fall. While not a new build, the acquisition is a solid player, having last operated for Silversea Expeditions as the Silver Discoverer.
For CroisiEurope, the expedition ship will accommodate 120 guests in 60 cabins from 47, 183-square-foot Horizon suites to a singular 409-square-foot Ocean suite. Common amenities include a bathroom with walk-in shower, a desk, a hairdryer, a wardrobe, a safe, a minibar, a flat-screen television and air-conditioning. The ship will also feature two lounges, a restaurant, a grill, a pool, a fitness center, a spa and a salon.
It will navigate itineraries starting between Singapore and Phuket before embarking on several global cruises and then summer home-porting on the Saint Lawrence River in Canada come June 2020. Highlighted routes include an 11-day sailing around India and Sri Lanka, a 9-day voyage from Abu Dhabi to Muscat and a 10-day cruise from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
Travel agents already familiar with these companies’ river products now have even more inventory to offer their clients, and loyalists of each company now have even greater variety to choose from.
Vantage Cruise Linewww.vantagetravel.com