Captain Rivers brings you some updates on what's new in 2015 for some smaller players in the cruise-company business.
|Artist's impression of Volga Dream II, Russia.|
Photo: Abercrombie &Kent
ABERCROMBIE & KENT
This British luxury travel company made its reputation with safaris. River cruising is a modest part of operations, but supplies top-quality experiences in interesting locations.
New ships: Aqua Mekong has just launched on the Mekong, and Sanctuary Ananda arrives on the Irrawaddy this November. In early 2015, Volga Dream II sets sail between Moscow and St Petersburg. More: abercrombiekent.com.au
Australian-owned travel agency Active Travel doesn’t own ships, but specialises in Asian river cruising, especially from always-interesting Pandaw River Expeditions.
New ships: Kha Byoo, currently under construction in Myanmar, launches late this year or early next year. The 10-cabin ship’s shallow draft enables it to sail the Chindwin River year-round.
|American Cruise Lines ship, USA.|
Photo: American Cruise Lines
AMERICAN CRUISE LINES
This highly-regarded small-ship company operates in the US on the Mississippi (where it has new gourmet- and jazz-themed itineraries for 2015) and Columbia and Snake rivers.
New ships: New paddlewheeler American Eagle offers various week-long itineraries on the Mississippi River in 2015. A new ship on the Columbia may follow.
Another Australian travel agency with river-cruising expertise, Beyond often uses Amadeus ships owned by Austrian-based Lueftner Cruises. New for 2015 is a cruise-tour between Budapest and Prague.
New ships: Amadeus Silver II arrives in 2015 on the Amsterdam-Budapest route. The new vessel features sundeck with bar, putting green and walking track.
|CroisiEurope ship on the Rhone River in Avignon, France.|
This eco-friendly French-owned company is the biggest river-cruise operator in Europe, but not yet widely recognised in English-speaking countries. It offers a huge range of cruises, with French and English used on board.
New ships: Gil Eanes on Portugal’s Douro River, Rhone Princesse and (in a first for any company on the Loire River) Loire Princesse.
The America family-owned company, launched in 2006, is a relative newcomer, but among the best for consistent quality and service. Airport transfers and pre- and post-cruise hotel stays are inclusive.
New ships: MS Esprit joins the fleet on the Amsterdam-Budapest route. There’s also a new family cruise on the Rhine, and a new 23-day trip linking cruises on the Rhône and Seine with London and Monte-Carlo.
Travelmarvel started in 1980s Melbourne in Australia, expanded worldwide and was sold to APT in 1996. Expect to hear more from the budget-conscious brand as it expands.
New ships: RV Rajmahal starts on the Ganges. MS Sapphire begins full service on Amsterdam-Budapest cruises and the refurbished MS Excellence Queen sails the Rhine.