River cruise ships launching in 2017
The boom in river cruising shows no signs of slowing down, in Europe, Asia, North America or anywhere else for that matter. If you haven't taken a river cruise, it's a completely different experience than what you'll encounter on an ocean cruise, and often tailored to a slightly older, sophisticated, more well-heeled (but no less adventuresome) crowd.
Most of the major river cruise lines are introducing new ships in 2017. Here's our rundown of what to look for in the new year:
Perhaps the biggest change in the landscape is that the world's top luxury cruise line, Crystal Cruises, has moved into the luxury river cruising space. Crystal began offering all-inclusive river cruises on a new fleet of luxury river yachts with the launch of the retrofitted Crystal Mozart in July 2016.
Crystal plans to launch two completely new river yachts in 2017, plus two more in 2018. As usual with Crystal, the early sailings are already selling out or sold out.
- Crystal Bach will debut on June 18, 2017, and begin sailings on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers of central Europe. At about 443 feet long, the yacht will feature a swimming pool with a sliding glass roof, multiple restaurants and 53 suites for just 106 guests (wow!). Your fare will cover select shore excursions, butlers, gratuities, unlimited alcohol (including wine, spirits and beer), meals at all restaurants, 24-hour room service, at least 60 minutes of free Wi-Fi per person per day and airport transfers to/from the ship.
- Crystal Mahler will debut on August 29, 2017, and begin sailings on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers of central Europe. At about 443 feet long, the largest size allowed on those rivers, the yacht will feature a swimming pool with a sliding glass roof, multiple restaurants and 53 suites for just guests, including large staterooms up to 759 square feet. Mahler is also all-inclusive.
Well-regarded AmaWaterways will launch one new ship in 2017, but she's a beaut!
- AmaKristina: The all-new AmaKristina will begin sailing Rhine River itineraries from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, on April 1, 2017. A sister ship to the AmaViola, the 158-passenger AmaKristina will feature the most advanced design of any river cruise vessel currently in operation. Passengers will enjoy gourmet dining with free-flowing fine wines at multiple onboard dining venues, a heated swimming pool with a swim-up bar, fitness center and spa, complimentary shipwide Wi-Fi and more.
- S.S. Joie de Vivre: When it debuts on March 26, 2017, S.S. Joie de Vivre will show off Uniworld's penchant for vibrant, elegant design. Specifically curated art and antiques can be found throughout and Savoir of England beds will ensure a comfortable sleep. She will sail 10-day round-trips from Paris to destinations such as Bordeaux and Avignon (and then back). The Seine River voyages will carry only 128 passengers and showcase handcrafted furniture, fine art, sumptuous fabrics and beautiful antiques. At 410 feet long, the ship is smaller than its sister Super Ships but is the longest permitted on the Seine.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises introduced seven new Longships in March 2016, and this year it's rolling out two new ocean ships and two new river ships. By my count, that gives Viking 58 river ships based in Europe, more than the next three largest North American-focused river lines combined. Coming up:
- The Viking Longship Hild will debut on March 18, 2017. She will carry 190 passengers with both cruises and cruise tours along the Moselle and Rhine Rivers with the option of beginning in Paris.
- The Viking Longship Herja will debut around the same time. She will carry 190 passengers and sails 8-day "Danube Waltz" itineraries from Passau, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, including calls on Vienna.
Both ships were designed as “green ships” by the legendary architects Yran & Storbraaten, with solar panels, hybrid energy-efficient engines and an organic herb garden. Viking Hild will offer a 12-day “Paris To The Swiss Alps” cruise tour that visits four countries, with included hotel stays in Paris and Zurich (near the port of Basel, Switzerland). The 10-day Rhine-Moselle cruise tours pass ancient castles, vineyards, Trier’s Roman vestiges, Lorelei Rock, and the German cities of Cochem, Mainz and Bernkastel, plus visits to Luxembourg City and Strasbourg, France. Included: 10 guided tours, 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners, complimentary drinks, complimentary Wi-Fi, visits to 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites and port charges.
Avalon Waterways introduced two new luxury river ships in 2016, the 128-passenger Avalon Imagery II, offering cruises along the Rhine River, and the 164-passenger Avalon Passion, with cruises to the Danube River and Black Sea. Avalon has no new ships on tap for 2017 that we know of.
Tauck River Cruises
For 2017, Tauck is planning a top-to-bottom overhaul and update to the 98-guest ms Sapphire, which cruises the waters of the River Seine in France, from Paris to Calvados country to Normandy’s beaches and Monet’s Giverny. Look for an innovative deck plan featuring 14 300-square-foot Tauck Suites and 20 225-square-foot cabins.
Scenic, the Australia-based cruise line and tour company, launched several new "space ships" in 2016: Scenic Spirit on the Mekong River, Scenic Azure on Portugal's Douro River and Scenic Aura along the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. They're also excited about their first ocean ship, Scenic Eclipse, debuting in August 2018.
For 2017, Scenic is introducing a new culinary experience, Scenic Culinaire, on its Bordeaux and Rhône river cruises. They're adding a new enrichment experience, Scenic Rouge. And they're planning top-to-bottom refurbishments of three ships: Scenic Emerald, Scenic Diamond and Scenic Sapphire.
American Cruise Lines
We covered the upcoming launch of American Constellation from American Cruise Lines in our roundup of new ships debuting in 2017. The 170-passenger American Constellation plies both the inland waterways and coastal areas of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. She debuts on May 6, 2017, in Baltimore.
Other river ships
Other river cruise lines launching new ships in 2017 include American Queen Steamboat Company, CroisiEurope and Emerald Waterways, which we don't yet include in the Cruiseable database.
Interested in a river cruise?
How about you? Are you thinking about a cruise on any of these ships? Add a comment below. Or, if you'd like to book a cruise with the best fares and best value, call a Cruiseable travel advocate at 1-877-322-3773.