Dear Vacations To Go Customer,
River cruise companies are incorporating unique elements into their
ships, like onboard herb gardens, heated pools and innovative designs
for private balconies. I've highlighted some of these features below.
For more details on the riverboats, and to see the itineraries they sail
along with departure dates and prices, click the applicable links.
Opulent fabrics, rich color schemes and fine art and antiques from auctions and private collections are used for the fleet of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. No two ships are alike. The S.S. Beatrice displays artwork by Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder, while the S.S. Antoinette has a 10-foot blue Baccarat chandelier that once hung in New York's famed Tavern on the Green. The S.S. Joie de Vivre has a pool with a hydraulic floor that can turn into a dance area or outdoor cinema at night.
The Suite Ships of Avalon Waterways feature 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, which have nearly 11-foot-wide, wall-to-wall windows that slide open to transform your entire stateroom into one large, open-air balcony. Plus, beds face the windows so you'll always see the view.
The Viking Longships of Viking River Cruises have the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace at their bows, with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Longships sail with energy-efficient, hybrid diesel-electric engines and solar panels, as well as organic herb gardens. Two-room, 445-square-foot Explorer Suites have private wraparound verandas.
Several ships in the AmaWaterways fleet include staterooms with twin balconies: a French balcony with glass doors that open to a railing (but you can't step out), and a full balcony that you can walk out on. Some vessels have heated pools with swim-up bars on their sundecks. The AmaMagna, debuting in 2019 as the line's largest ship to date, will have a water-sports platform stocked with Zodiac boats, canoes and other recreational equipment.
AmaViola, AmaKristina, AmaLea and AmaMora -- which sail for AmaWaterways and Adventures by Disney -- boast connecting staterooms that can accommodate up to five family members.
The Crystal Mozart, the first ship to sail for Crystal River Cruises, has a sundeck with a "pop-up" bar, a retractable movie screen, a rooftop garden and skylights that invite natural light into the deck below. Two tender boats help guests explore waterways up close. The line's four smaller ships feature all-balcony, all-suite accommodations with walk-in closets and double vanities in most cabins, the "pop-up" bar concept and indoor pools.
New river cruise brand U by Uniworld launched two sleek ships, The A and The B, each with matte black exteriors and contemporary interiors. The Rooftop Lounge hosts morning yoga classes and late-night snacking, and the top-deck Ice Bar is on hydraulics so the entire space can be lowered to fit under bridges as the ship sails. Cabins feature built-in Bluetooth speakers.
The American Song (debuting in October) and American Harmony (launching next May) are the first in the "Modern Riverboat Series" from American Cruise Lines. They sport contemporary styles and airy, light-filled spaces. All staterooms have private balconies, even the single cabins for solo travelers. The 900-square-foot Grand Suites provide separate living and sleeping areas and wraparound verandas with private dining areas. The bow of each ship opens so that a retractable gangway can extend to the riverbank or dock for easy disembarkation.
Though they offer all the comforts of contemporary cruising, the paddle wheelers of American Queen Steamboat Company were designed to resemble the riverboats of the past, with fluted stacks, gingerbread trim and large red paddle wheels. Accommodations on the American Duchess include the 550-square-foot Loft Suites -- these have dining and lounging areas, a bathroom and private balcony downstairs, and a bedroom and second bath on the upper level.
Cabins aboard the Space-Ships of Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours can be transformed into weatherproof "sun lounges." If the weather is chilly, just press a button and a glass pane will rise to create an enclosed space. The Scenic Diamond and Scenic Sapphire offer Scenic Culinaire, outfitted with cooking stations for classes, and the Salt Lounge in the spa, constructed of handcrafted salt bricks and said to provide therapeutic benefits.
Emerald Waterways has a fleet of young ships; the earliest were built in 2014 and three more were released last year. Among the attractive features are heated swimming pools with retractable roofs (this space converts to a movie theater on some evenings), as well as balcony suites that open to the outdoors with the push of a button.
The MS Monarch Empress is the first riverboat to be built and operated solely by Gate 1 Travel. Common areas and cabins (most with French balconies) have been designed to capitalize on unobstructed views.
The ships of Riviera River Cruises display an understated elegance, with marble floors, hardwood furniture, polished brass and copper, leather and Italian fabrics. More than half the fleet was constructed in 2017 or later. The MS Douro Splendour, launching next month, is designed to sail through the locks of the Douro River in Portugal; its upper-deck balcony cabins come with windows that slide down halfway to create a small balcony-like area within your stateroom.
CroisiEurope strives to make its ships as eco-friendly as possible. Last December, the line debuted its smallest river ship: The 16-passenger African Dream, sailing in southern Africa, has balcony cabins and a rooftop patio with a pool. The new MS Elbe Princesse II was built to cruise the shallow waters of the Elbe River; it's a modern two-deck ship with two paddle wheels at its stern.
The MS Grace, Inspire, Joy and Savor from Tauck come with eight uniquely designed loft cabins on their lower decks. Each has a raised seating area with a high ceiling above, which permits the use of a tall window and allows natural light to stream into the cabin. Part of the window can be raised electronically to let in fresh air.
When Luther Blount, founder of Blount Small Ship Adventures, was told that cruise ships could not navigate the Erie Canal because the bridges were too low, he headed to his workshop. There, he designed a vessel with a retractable pilot house that could slip under the lowest bridges, with inches to spare. Both the Grande Caribe and the Grande Mariner have this unique feature, as well as shallow drafts that allow them to sail in less than 7 feet of water.
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