Sailing on Europe’s Rivers

Keeping up With changes in Europe’s river cruise marketplace isn’t easy. Here’s a sampling of what’s new on the Rhone, Danube, Rhine and Douro.

On April 25, June 28 and August 17, Tauck is operating new “Taste of France” river cruises crafted in partnership with Churchill and Turen. The 10-day itinerary focuses on French cuisine and village life with a seven-night Rhone River cruise onboard Swiss Emerald. It includes market visits in Lyon and elsewhere, wine tasting in Beaujolais, culinary experiences in Paris and a Provencal evening in the shadow of Pont du Gard, the famous Roman aqueduct.

AMA Waterways has launched Rhone wine cruises onboard AmaDagio. Features include excursions to historic vineyards and cellars; complimentary wine lectures; wine tastings onboard and ashore; and fine dining with wine pairings. The cruises are part of AMA Waterways’ 15-day Provence and Spain itinerary. Guests spend three nights in Paris, embark the cruise in Lyon, and take excursions to the Beaujolais wine region and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Avignon and Arles. Guests then visit Perpignan, France, before the itinerary ends in Barcelona (the itinerary also operates in reverse). North American departure dates are November 4 and 11.

In May, Avalon Waterways will christen two new ships, Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary, in Europe. Avalon Vista, which will sail Danube cruises, is a sister to the Avalon Panorama. The smaller Avalon Visionary has 52 suites and will sail Rhine voyages and Christmas-time cruises.

Starting in 2013, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection will introduce a new Douro river vessel on its Portugal-Spain cruises. The 118-passenger Queen Isabel will have 18 spacious, 215-square-foot junior suites and two 323-square-foot suites with full balconies on the top deck. In addition, Queen Isabel will have a classic Old World style and elegance similar to Uniworld’s other European ships.

Viking River Cruises will enter the Portugal and Spain market in 2013. Its new “Portugal’s River of Gold Itinerary” on Viking Douro is a 10-day cruise-and-land journey along the Douro. Guests will visit a monastery in Lisbon, sample port from traditional wooden casks, tour a baroque mansion in Regua, stroll through medieval Salamanca and more. The itinerary begins with a land tour and overnight in Lisbon, followed by a drive to Coimbra, before guests board the vessel in Porto. Guests will visit Bitetos, Regua, Pinhao, Barca d’Alva, Salamanca, Vega de Terron and Rugia before returning to Porto.

Sign up for Travel Agent’s new river cruise newsletter, published the first Monday of the month, at www.travelagentcentral.com.

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