This Week in Cruise: 5 River Cruise Developments to Keep on Your Radar

maria theresaWith spring just around the corner, the river cruise market keeps heating up. Here are five major developments from the past week to keep in mind as you chart a course for the coming year. 

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's newest super ship, the Baroque-styled Maria Theresa, is set to make its debut March 26. This week saw the release of the first pictures of the new vessel, and we've compiled a photo tour of the Maria Theresa to share with your clients

Following its March 26 christening, the ship will set sail on her inaugural voyage on March 28 on "Tulips & Windmills." She will also serve the line’s "European Jewels," "Danube Holiday Markets," and " Enchanting Christmas & New Year’s Cruise" itineraries.

Tom Harper River Journeys has announced the debut of its own river vessel for the 2016 season, MS Birdsong

Built and based in Europe, the 88-cabin Birdsong includes an array of cabins dedicated to singles with no single supplement charge, and a fitness and wellness center. The ship’s inaugural 12-day cruise from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam is slated for March 2016, and reservations can be made via Tom Harper’s online booking system. 

In itinerary news, French Country Waterways has announced it will lengthen the route on its Upper Loire Valley voyage aboard the Horizon II luxury barge for 2015. 

This year, the route will be extended from Chatillon-sur-Loire to Saint-Satur, with visits to two additional chateaux - Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire and Chateau Guedelon - along the way. Pricing for these all-inclusive journeys, which operate from April through October, begins at $6,095 per person, based on double occupancy.

In the U.S., American Cruise Lines has announced its lineup of Independence Day celebrations for river cruisers. 

The five Fourth of July cruises on offer this year include a "Heartland Celebration Cruise" from New Orleans, a "Lower Mississippi" cruise from Memphis, a "Columbia and Snake Rivers" cruise from Fort Vancouver onboard the Queen of the West, a "New England Islands" cruise from Providence, Rhode Island, and a "Maine Coast and Harbors" tour from Frenchman Bay

In land and cruise tours, Key Holidays has announced it will offer a new travel package as part of the company's 2015 American Heritage Series

The package includes train travel by Pullman Rail Journeys and sailing by the American Queen Steamboat Company

Guests will travel by rail from Chicago to New Orleans for an overnight stay, then board the American Queen for a seven-night voyage on the Mississippi river. The getaway ends with a two-night hotel stay in New Orleans or Memphis and a complimentary return home by either rail or air.

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