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With river cruising still on pause for most U.S. travelers, lines are expecting high demand in 2021 and beyond, and are planning their future itineraries accordingly.
Here are the latest developments as of press time.
AmaWaterwaysAmaWaterways has three new ships coming online in 2021, but the one it is highlighting most is the 68-guest AmaDahlia, bound for the Nile River in Egypt. Scheduled to start operating in September, the extensive 11-day Secrets of Egypt & the Nile route will include pre- and post-cruise land portions that bookend a weeklong cruise roundtrip from Luxor.
Travelers will spend three nights before the sailing and one night after at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence. Featured along the way will be UNESCO World Heritage sites and iconic wonders such as the Great Sphinx and three pyramids of Giza, the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak, the Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings, the tomb of Queen Nefertari and the Egyptian Museum.
American Cruise LinesAmerican Cruise Lines (ACL) is still holding out hope for 2020, but in case the line isn’t able to resume cruising this year, the brand is readying for a big 2021 season along the Mississippi River. Besides officially welcoming American Jazz to the fleet along with the new American Melody, ACL will introduce its maiden eight-day Music Cities itinerary. In July, August and September, the cruise will visit Nashville, Tenn.; Clarksville, Tenn.; Dover, Tenn.; Paducah, Ky. and Memphis, Tenn.
Plus, the line will feature special Holiday Cruises for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations later in the year, and additional cruise schedules are available through 2023.
American Queen Steamboat CompanyNext year, American Queen Steamboat Company will spotlight a trio of unique domestic itineraries, each nine days in length.
Sailing from Memphis, Tenn., to Nashville, Tenn., (or reverse), the American Duchess will take music and art aficionados to Ashport Landing, Tenn.; New Madrid, Mo.; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Paducah, Ky. (known as a UNESCO Creative City and home to the National Quilt Museum) and Dover, Tenn.
From Louisville, Ky., to St. Louis, Mo., both the American Duchess and American Queen will make their way through bluegrass country to Brandenburg, Ky. (near the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln); Owensboro, Ky.; Henderson, Ky.; Paducah, Ky. and Cape Girardeau, Mo.
The new American Countess, meanwhile, will cruise from Chicago, Ill., to St. Louis, Mo., visiting the traditional heartland with stops in Ottawa, Ill.; Peoria, Ill.; Havana, Ill. and Hannibal, Mo., the historic town that houses the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.
Avalon WaterwaysGetting a jump on 2022 to meet increased demand, Avalon Waterways has released several of its European itineraries for the year early.
“Our 2021 sales are on pace with what was set to be a record volume year, prior to the pandemic,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon, in a press release. “Thanks to a large number of travelers resetting 2020 vacation plans with Letters of Credit, early 2021 sales tied to a Panorama Suite upgrade offer as well as an increased interest in river cruising as an alternative for big ship cruising, we’re enjoying a wave of new bookings and anticipate more. By releasing several 2022 Europe itineraries today, we know we will be ready for the surge, ensuring travelers have access to the vacations and departure dates they crave.”
Emerald WaterwaysEmerald Waterways is taking a similar approach, also opening bookings for much of its 2022 European program. In fact, 75% of the line’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Rhone, Saone and Douro cruises to over a dozen countries are on sale. Even sailings on the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam on the line’s newest Star-Ship, Emerald Harmony, are available to reserve for the year.
Riviera River CruisesIn 2021, Riviera River Cruises will offer an especially unique opportunity: a sailing hosted by cruise expert Ralph Grizzle, departing on Oct. 4. The eight-day Blue Danube itinerary will cruise roundtrip from Budapest and visit Esztergom, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Durnstein, Melk Abbey, Salzburg and Vienna in Austria.
"Ralph Grizzle is one of the foremost experts on river cruising and we’re thrilled to have him join us on this Danube River departure,” said Marilyn Conroy, Riviera River Cruises’ executive vice president of sales and marketing for North America, in a press release. "Ralph will host specially tailored tours in destinations along the way and share his knowledge of the region and river cruising with guests. Offerings like this are another reason to make Riviera your go-to river cruise line for your clients.”
Scenic Luxury Cruises & ToursLike its Emerald Waterways corporate cousin, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours has opened up its 2022 European sailings for early booking. Featured options include the five-day Tastes of Imperial Europe voyage between Vienna and Budapest, as well as two culinary-focused itineraries: Tastes of Southern France and Flavors of Bordeaux. Both include an onboard dinner from Michelin-star chef Didier Goiffon and a course at three-star Michelin chef Georges Blanc’s restaurant. In addition, the new Ancestry of the Kitchen program offers cooking classes at local homes.
Advance planning is now also possible for Scenic’s 2021/2022 Southeast Asia sailings aboard the 68-guest Scenic Spirit on the Mekong and the 44-guest Scenic Aura on the Irrawaddy, as detailed in the newly released Exotic Wonders of Southeast Asia River Cruising brochure.
VikingViking has already revealed its new Viking Mississippi, and now the riverboat has a fresh itinerary for clients to put on their calendar. The eight-day Mississippi Holiday Season route will sail in December 2022 from New Orleans to Memphis, visiting Christmas-decorated ports and featuring privileged access to Graceland, where guests will enjoy a special after-hours visit.
Additionally, Viking is preparing for a series of four postponed Oberammergau itineraries between May and October of 2022 to take in the once-per-decade Passion Play, which reenacts the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Voyages range from 10 to 12 days and head from Munich to Budapest, Oberammergau to Budapest, Amsterdam to Oberammergau or Munich to Amsterdam.