River boat cruises are becoming more and more popular. Over the past 5 years, bookings have increased as much as 60% for some cruise lines. Many of the lines are introducing new ships in 2011, and quite a few of the existing ships will be undergoing complete refurbishments.
Viking River Cruises plans to build 8 new ships and totally refurbish two other ships over the next 3 years; Avalon Waterways will introduce the gound-breaking Avalon Panorama in 2011; AMA Waterways will deploy the Amalotus in the Mekong River and the completely refurbished Amakaterina in Russia; and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will introduce 2 new ships in Europe and 1 in Russia, along with the refurbishment of 3 other ships in 2011.
Why all the interest? Consider the top ten reasons to take a river boat cruise:
1. Modern river boats are luxurious, offering fine dining, and small but excellent accommodations. Travel on a river boat cruise is leisurely, elegant and easy.
2. River boats offer the easiest way to see and explore multiple destinations, sometimes more than one in a day. Unpack once and relax. There’s no need to haul luggage on and off trains or buses as you make your way from one destination to the next.
3. River boats are small enough to pull right into the heart of small towns along the rivers of Europe, Egypt, Russia, China, Southeast Asia, and North & South America. This convenience extends to the larger cities as well. In Paris the ships dock at Port de Grenelle, within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
4. Sit on the deck or at your cabin window – most open wide for a clear, unimpeded view – and take pictures of picturesque villages, ancient castles, and beautiful countryside, sometimes mere feet from your chair.
5. Like their far larger brethren, the ocean going vessels, modern river boats have all the amenities you’ve come to expect – fitness centers, libraries, spas, internet centers and, in many cases, pools.
6. Gourmet meals are served in beautiful surroundings, often with complimentary wine. There is one seating with a casual, relaxed dress code. Seating is open, so you can sit wherever and with whomever you wish. Meals are prepared with fresh, local ingredients, often reflecting the cuisine of the country through which you are passing.
7. Entertainment is low key. Gone are the glitzy Las vegas revues and Broadway samplers. Local entertainment and folkloric troupes come on board, while local experts give talks on the area, further immersing the passengers in the detination.
8. Local guides lead the shore excursions, typically included in the price of the cruise. Time is built in to the day for the all-important souvenir and gift shopping. For the adventurous who’d rather take their own path, bicycles are provided, usually free of charge.
9. River boat cruises are on far smaller ships than most ocean going vessels, allowing for easy navigation about the boat. Instead of traveling with thousands of strangers, you sail instead with 200 like-minded travelers as eager as you to delve into the destinations. Fellow passengers become friends.
10.Rivers flow smoothly, without swells and waves. The leisurely pace will make you forget you’re on water at all. Motion sickness is not a concern.