(8:55 a.m. EST) -- As it continues to transform its fleet, luxury river cruise line Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection released more details on its new lineup of “super ships” coming in 2020.
The new ships will replace older vessels on some of Uniworld's more exotic itineraries, including the Mekong in Southeast Asia, the Nile in Egypt, the Douro in Portugal and the islands surrounding Venice in Italy.
"We have been in a consistent and relentless pursuit of excellence,” Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge said. “Our ships are absolutely unique and like a boutique hotel, reflect the destinations they serve from décor and artwork to food, beverage and programming. We look forward to making our high caliber of service and personalization in these remarkable destinations even better.”
The names and debut dates for the three new vessels are:
S.S. Satet, which will offer 12-day Nile River cruises to and from Cairo beginning January 6, 2020. The 84-passenger chartered ship will have three dining venues, including an al fresco dining experience on the upper deck, a swimming pool and a massage room. It replaces River Tosca.
Mekong Jewel, which will sail a 13-day itinerary on the lower Mekong River with stops in Vietnam and Cambodia beginning January 3, 2020. The 56-passenger ship will have two dining venues: one main restaurant and an al fresco eatery on the upper deck. The chartered boat is being constructed with sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as special paint used for the hull of the ship that creates less drag, specially designed ship propellers that increase performance and efficiency, energy-efficient LED light fixtures, and a water-cooled air-conditioning system that will save energy. It replaces Mekong Navigator.
S.S. Sao Gabriel, which will launch on the Douro River in Portugal on March 26, 2020. The 100-passenger chartered ship will have butler service and feature Spanish and Portuguese culture and cuisine; it replaces Queen Isabel.
Finally, Uniworld will remove River Countess from service to undergo a complete renovation. It will re-emerge as S.S. La Venezia on March 27, 2020 and offering 10 or 8-day itineraries that focus on the Venetian lagoon; longer trips will offer a land-trip option to Milan. Bettridge said last year that guests wanted to move away from the Po River in Italy and spend more time around Venice and surrounding islands such as Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello. At 130 passengers, the line is slightly reducing capacity; River Countess carries 134 guests.
Uniworld has steadily been removing its older river cruise ships and refitting them to "super ship" status. Last year, River Beatrice became S.S. Beatrice and in April 2019, River Royale will be rechristened S.S. Bon Voyage.
Super ships are larger and include a lounge with a signature grand staircase, more suites and more connecting rooms for people traveling together. Most have locally-sourced art and cuisine; added dining options; and are built with eco-friendly materials.
Uniworld received the top award for river cruising by Cruise Critic's editors in 2018, due to its commitment to keep its ships updated, as well as for its dining and shore excursions.