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Travelers want to cruise again, and, fortunately, they have plenty to look forward to on both domestic and international rivers.
Domestic OptionsAmerican Cruise Lines (ACL) is reporting increased demand for 2021 in part because of “guests’ desire to support all-American businesses,” according to a press release. To be exact, the regional brand is seeing a 25% booking bump versus the same period last year.
“People want to travel, and they are beginning to plan experiences for later this year and in the year ahead,” said David Luxeder, director of marketing for ACL. “American’s modern fleet, unique itineraries and low passenger counts allow us to offer amazing domestic options as folks begin to cruise again. The desire to travel and the American spirit for exploration is alive and well.”
ACL’s 2022 and 2023 calendars are already available to peruse, encompassing more than 35 river and coastal itineraries, and its new vessel building program remains on schedule.
American Queen Steamboat Company has also announced a new route for 2021. The U.S.-flagged American Countess will embark on a “Heart of the Mississippi Cruise” next February in support of the American Heart Association. The itinerary will showcase Vicksburg and Natchez, Miss.; and St. Francisville and Baton Rouge, La.; it also includes a special 5K fundraiser for heart and stroke research and awareness. The sailing offers heart-healthy meals including salmon en papillote and chicken piccata.
Even before it makes its grand introduction on the Mississippi River in August 2022, Viking has added additional sailings to its upcoming domestic offerings. Citing strong demand, the company has released its 2023 departures early. Eight- and 15-day circuits onboard Viking Mississippi will cover combinations of Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Darrow, New Orleans and St. Francisville); Mississippi (Natchez and Vicksburg); Tennessee (Memphis); Missouri (Hannibal and St. Louis); Iowa (Burlington, Dubuque and Davenport); Wisconsin (La Crosse); and Minnesota (Red Wing and St. Paul).
International OptionsFor clients seeking future adventures abroad, European Waterways is “unquestionably optimistic,” according to a press release from the barge brand, that indicates a 170% booking increase year over year for 2021. These numbers include more than 90% of Americans who rescheduled next year following cruise cancellations.
In fact, AmaWaterways still has hopes of restarting international operations with American guests later this year. But if that is not possible, the line is planning new routes and riverboats into 2021 and 2022.
Among the line’s upcoming opportunities are “A Celebration of Wine River Cruises Through Europe” and “The Secrets Of Egypt & The Nile.” The first collection encompasses more than 60 exclusive wine-themed departures in 2021, three of which are entirely new itineraries: “Essence of Burgundy & Provence,” “Impressions of the Seine & Paris” and “Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps.” The second collection includes 17 departures in 2021 and 38 in 2022 onboard the newly designed AmaDahlia, which will set sail on 11-night voyages in northern Africa.
Altogether, AmaWaterways has already opened its full inventory of 2022 river cruises due to demand.
Avalon Waterways is also getting a jump on next year with the unveiling of a new “Active & Discovery” sailing. In 2021, the eight-day “Active & Discovery in Holland & Belgium” itinerary will include a mountain bike tour of Ghent, a hike through the Sonian Forest and more bicycle tours. Guests will also discover a Netherlands oyster farm, Graffiti Street in Ghent, Belgian chocolate making and a Delft tile pottery workshop.
Also for 2021/2022, Emerald Waterways has opened reservations on its Mekong River season. The line’s newest Star-Ship, Emerald Harmony, will accommodate just 84 guests in Cambodia and Vietnam all the way to Ho Chi Minh City. The four available itineraries are the eight-day “Majestic Mekong Cruise,” the 13-day “Majestic Mekong Discoverer Cruise,” the 17-day “Treasures & Temples of Vietnam & Cambodia” sailing and the 21-day “Grand Tour of Vietnam & Cambodia” voyage.
Reverting back to its original name from the short-lived U River Cruises, U by Uniworld is plotting out new theme cruises and additional onboard inclusions. “GenZ on U” will be a series of six sailings tailored to teens and their parents complete with an onboard teen lounge, while a July 24 departure will be dedicated to foodies. The special “Rolling on the Rhine” sailing will partner with top food influencer Salvatore DiBenedetto and present a curated menu, excursions and shipboard activities such as a cooking demonstration with a local chef, a food and travel photography and business workshop, and more.
Newly included for 2021 will be the additions of complimentary beer and wine at lunch and dinner onboard The A and The B, as well as roundtrip airport transfers.