Europe River Cruises – Now Booking 2021 & 2022
More, bigger, better - that was the plan for European river cruising in 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic slammed the brakes on what was shaping up to be a great year for European river cruising, with new ships and great offers from the cruise lines. Unfortunately, Americans most likely will not be able to travel freely into Europe until a vaccine is readily available, and the number of cases in the US decreases dramatically – hopefully sometime in mid-2021.
However, European river cruises continue to grow in popularity, with a steady flow of new and bigger vessels, enhanced shore excursions, engaging themes, luxury amenities and more dining choices (especially regionally-inspired cuisine).Bookings are currently being accepted for 2021, and 2022 – many with special booking bonuses and cancellation flexibility. Your clients can plan now, and travel later.
Viking alone is adding six new ships in the region, including two 190-passenger vessels on the Rhine, the Gersemi and the Hervor. The Gersemi will sail a variety of Rhine cruises. Sister ship Hervor sails voyages from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, or the reverse.
Updating and improving its presence on the Seine, Viking debuts four identical 168-passenger longships: the Fiorgyn Kari, Skaga and Ragrid. All will sail the line’s eight-day Paris and the Heart of Normandy itinerary by 2021. Though smaller than Viking longships, the new vessels will feature many of the line’s popular features, including an Aquavit Terrace, a wide variety of stateroom choices and onboard solar panels, as well as Viking’s signature Scandinavian design aesthetic. Designed specifically to navigate the Seine River, these four ships will dock in the center of Paris, adjacent to the Eiffel Tower.
AmaWaterways announced the suspension of its remaining 2020 river cruise season, including all regularly scheduled departures in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This suspension does not apply to the chartered river cruise series on the Rhine that has been in operation since July.
AmaWaterways has a new ship – the 156-passenger AmaSiena, sister ship to AmaLea and AmaKristina. In addition to longer 10- and 11-night sailings, she has an itinerary that will appeal to clients looking to see more in less time: the seven-night one-way voyage between Nuremberg and Amsterdam that calls at major stops on both the Rhine and Main.
To accommodate those booked on a 2020 suspended sailing, the river cruise line has offered a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) equal to 115 percent of the value of AmaWaterways purchased services, allowing guests to reschedule their luxurious river cruise in Europe, Asia, or Africa through December 31, 2022.
In response to ongoing travel restrictions and government advisements, Avalon has made the thoughtful decision to suspend operations through January 31, 2021 for guests from the United States.
Avalon is allowing guests with bookings on any suspended travel dates to move dates easily and without incurring cancellation fees, land or airline penalties. Guests are free to move their booking on any suspended cruise to any Globus family of brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms or Avalon Waterways) vacation for any destination. For added flexibility for future travel plans, they’re also offering a Peace of Mind Travel Plan, allowing guests to move their 2021 or 2022 booking to any other date, departure or brand up until your final payment date.
Scheduled to sail seven-night Danube voyages, the new 166-passenger Avalon View will travel between Deggendorf, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary. This will make a total of 14 Avalon “Suite Ships” in Europe.
Tauck’s passion for exploring the world is as strong as ever, and they remain committed to providing truly life-enhancing travel experiences. During their 95 years, they have navigated events ranging from World War II and the Great Depression to 9/11 and SARS. Due to continued uncertainty about their ability to deliver the level of experience expected from Tauck, and consistent with the latest guidance from the U.S. State Department, they’ve decided to cancel all land tours and cruises with departure dates through December 31, 2020.
With 2021 scheduled cruises on the Douro River, Tauck’s 84-passenger Andorinha marks the company’s first appearance in Portugal. Described by Tauck chief executive Dan Mahar, the new ship was “purpose-built for hot summers and daytime sailing through pastoral scenery,” with such features as a sun deck with canopied Balinese day beds, an infinity-style pool, as well as an outdoor grill and full-service bar. The Andorinha will operate several itineraries: the eight-day Villages and Vintages, Cruising the Douro River Valley and the longer 12-day Exploring the Douro, Plus Lisbon and Madrid cruise tour.
Another new ship debut on the Douro, Europe’s current “hot” river, is Uniworld’s 100-passenger Sao Gabriel, which will sail 11-day itineraries between Lisbon and Porto. The new ship will feature more lavish and luxurious suites than Uniworld’s current Douro ship, the Queen Isabel and will also offer butler service. (The Queen Isabel will leave the Douro next year.)
Looking ahead to 2021, Uniworld has announced the introduction of two new itineraries that incorporate cruise, land and train travel. In partnership with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, the two packages will travel through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, offering the opportunity to explore destinations across several countries in one journey.
Though we are seeing increased activity on all the world’s rivers (including those in North America), the greatest growth continues to be in Europe. While the Douro River is the rising star in river cruising, with almost all lines introducing itineraries, the 765-mile Rhine continues to lead in popularity, especially among first-timers. The most popular Rhine cruise is a one-week sailing between Amsterdam and Basel, or vice versa. There is a lot for cruisers to look forward to.