| Date Published: March 27, 2014 |
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|River Cruise Market Enjoys Booming Season|
(12:03 p.m. EST) -- The 2014 river cruise season is shaping up to be the busiest ever, with two multi-boat and several single boat christenings thus far, as well as announcements of more boats on order.
Here are some highlights the industry has seen so far this season.
2 + 16 = A Whopping 18
Viking River, which last week christened an unprecedented 16 of its Longship series of vessels over a 24-hour span, finished out the week in Portugal's Porto with two more: Viking Torgil and Viking Hemming. The ceremony was presided over by its godmothers: Ana Moura, a Portuguese fado singer, and Laura Ferreira, the wife of Portugal's prime minister, respectively.
The two ships are what Viking's CEO Torstein Hagen dubs "baby" Longships. They're true to the Longship style -- spare interiors, lots of light, and the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Lounge -- but because of restrictions on Portugal's Douro River, they're smaller, holding just 106 passengers.
Viking's Porto-based Douro sailings are sold out for 2014, Hagen told the crowd.
A Bigger Circle
Grand Circle Corporation has acquired two new ships -- a river cruise ship and an oceangoing cruise ship -- in the same week, expanding its privately owned fleet to 20 ships.
The line, which offers a full range of small-ship cruise tours for the over-50 set, picked up the M/V Corinthian from educational travel tour operator Travel Dynamics and the River Cloud II river boat from luxury cruise operator Sea Cloud Cruises.
Corinthian is a luxurious, 98-passenger oceangoing expedition ship chartered by Grand Circle Cruise Line for Antarctic cruises because of its ice-strengthened hull. The line plans to expand Corinthian's sailings with the launch of three new cruise itineraries in 2015 -- an eight-night Iberian Peninsula and Morocco cruise, a 12-night Baltic Sea cruise and an 11-night round-Britain cruise -- along with various repositioning cruise itineraries.
River Cloud II, which will be renamed M/S Chanson, will sail Grand Circle's first itineraries in Bordeaux -- a quickly growing destination in the river cruise sector -- beginning in 2015. Carrying just 90 passengers, Chanson will sail seven-night itineraries in Bordeaux combined with six nights staying in hotels.
It's Good to be Green
Fledgling river cruise line Emerald Waterways, which will shortly christen its first two river ships Emerald Sky and Emerald Star, has ordered a further two vessels for 2015 launch in Europe.
Emerald Sky, the line's first new "Star Ship," was delivered on March 21 in Lobith, Netherlands, and will be christened by British style icon Twiggy on April 9 in Amsterdam. Emerald Star will be christened in May, and Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn are currently under construction for delivery in early 2015.
Emerald Waterways is an offshoot of Scenic Tours, which also operate river cruises in Europe.
The most innovative bit of design planned for the fleet of 182-passenger Emerald Waterways' ships is a dual-purpose area at the aft that transforms from an indoor, heated pool with retractable roof during the day, to a cinema at night.
Emerald Waterways includes soft drinks, beer and wine at meals, shore excursions, transfers and tips within their cruise fare.
More river cruise news:
Catherine Denueve Christens Uniworld's New River Boat
UK Godmother Names River Cruise Ship in Dual Christening Ceremony
Avalon Confirms New Ships for 2016
Viking Cruises Shatters Own River Record
--By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief and Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor
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