Archive for the ‘River Cruising’ Category

European River Cruise Market Grew 2.7% In 2016

March 19, 2017

1.36m passengers cruised on Europe’s rivers in 2016, up 2.7% from the previous year.

The North American source market provided the greatest share of guests, corresponding to 38.7%, followed by the Germany with 28.4%

(Seatrade)
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Are you a keen ocean cruiser?

Are you thinking of trying your first European river cruise?

The high fare that are charged for many river cruises is the main stumbling block for many would-be-river cruisers.

River cruises are often called ‘good value’ by the river cruise lines, but their definition of ‘value’ is quite different to mine. (A million pound diamond on sale for half-a-million pounds is fantastic value, but I won’t be buying one.)

You can easily pay twice the price for a river cruise, when compared to an ocean cruise – but will it be twice as good?

I made the swap from ocean to river about a year ago. My latest/second river cruise review is available to read.

My review helps explain the differences between the two genres (ocean & river) and highlights some truths that the glossy brochures and web sites fail to tell you.

Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

Malcolm

 

CroisiEurope’s Elbe Princesse

February 13, 2017

CroisiEurope’s remarkable paddle-wheeled river ship, designed for the shallow waters of the Elbe.

MS Sudan

February 11, 2017

Here is a feature on a classic river vessel:

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(Click to enlarge)

M/S Sudan Nile Cruise Is like being on no other cruise ship on the Nile, build at the dawn of the 20th century, the steam ship Sudan brings turn-of-the-century travel on the Nile to life again.

The 5 suites and 18 cabins are laid out between the two decks, off broad passageways where the passengers can sit, relax and read in the evening, or enjoy a drink. Each cabin proudly bears a name linked to Egyptian history.

On the upper deck, the Agatha Christie and Lady Duff Gordon suites, at the prow of the vessel, benefit from spectacular views over the river. The Aida and Queen Victoria suites nestle spaciously in the gentle curves of the stern. The warm-toned wooden panelling, gilded and copper bed-frames, classical furniture and distinguished parquet floors bestow a definite period charm, revealed in every detail, such as the bathroom fittings.

A Legendary boat

A boat inhabited by the memory of the King Fouad who received it as a gift in 1885, the memory of the Belle Époque travellers who used it, or that of Hercule Poirot who Agatha Christie had walking its decks in her writings. (The BBC’s ‘Death on the Nile’ with David Suchet, was filmed on-board).

Almost one hundred years old, the Steam Ship Sudan is the last witness to the Belle Epoque days of Nile cruising. In its wake floats the visionary spirit of Sir Thomas Cook and the history of cruises on the legendary river.

Poirot (Courtesy BBC)

Poirot on board Sudan (Courtesy BBC)

Sudan Web Site: HERE

History

1869 The Suez canal is created, opening the maritime trade route between Europe and Asia. Egypt’s economy and tourism immediately benefit. Thomas Cook, the visionary British entrepreneur, seizes the opportunity to explore a country boasting thousands of years of history and a uniquely comfortable climate and way of life.

Convinced that this potential would appeal to the British aristocracy, Cook and his son (Cook & Son) organise the first cruise on a boat rented from the Khedive, or vice-roy.

1876 Egypt becomes a British protectorate. Cook further develops his Nile cruises. In 1880, he obtains the concession for all tourism-related river sailing. In 1884, his vessels are requisitioned for the military campaign in Sudan, and return seriously damaged. The British pioneer therefore launches his own fleet of steam ships. Prince Abbas, Tewfik, Rameses are built in Scotland, and the parts later assembled in Cairo.

1899 Cook extends his empire along the Nile banks with the construction of the Old Cataract Hotel at Aswan, designed to cater to cruise passengers obliged to stop off on their way to the great temples of Upper Nubia, reached on another ship. The Aswan dam, inaugurated in 1902, changes the situation, and the numbers of tourists rises constantly.

1911-1921 Cook builds a new fleet of faster steam ships, composed of the Egypt, the Arabia, and the Sudan. They reduce the length of a Cairo-Aswan voyage to 20 days, and eager tourists flock on board.

1922-1935 The Sudan and Nile cruising in general enjoy a golden age. Diplomats, businessmen and archaeologists pay handsomely to discover the fabulous sites of Ancient Egypt. In 1933, Agatha Christie embarks, accompanied by her husband, on an archaeological mission. During the cruise, the grand dame of mystery is inspired to write Death on the Nile.

1939-1991 The Second World War rings the death knell of tourism in Egypt. The Sudan lies abandoned and docked for more than 50 years. In the early 90s, with the advent of more democratic tourism and a new boom in Nile cruises, an Egyptian shipowner relaunches the Sudan for a German tour operator, but the vessel is once more abandoned.

2000 Two directors of Voyageurs du Monde discover the Sudan in a pitiful state. They join forces with the Egyptian owner and after six months of refitting work the vessel is ready to sail.

2017 – onwards: This classic boat continues to charm its many passengers.

(egypt-nile-cruise.com)

Malcolm says: Here is a slide show from my Nile cruise, on-board  a more modest boat than Sudan:

CroisiEurope Builds Second Ship For The Elbe

January 28, 2017
Elbe Princesse (Courtesy CroisiEurope)

Elbe Princesse (Courtesy CroisiEurope)

CroisiEurope has started construction on a third paddle wheel riverboat to be called MS Elbe Princesse II, to cruise the shallow Elbe River.

This follows the success of the MS Loire Princesse in 2015 and the Elbe Princesse in 2016.

Taking into consideration the navigational limitations on these rivers, MS Elbe Princesse II also has only two decks, a very shallow hull draft and stern paddlewheels. These  do not require a lot of water under them, compared to conventional propellers. .

MS Elbe Princesse II will be the second ship operating between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and the Vltava Rivers.

(CroisiEurope)

Malcolm says: Old propulsion technology being used on a new ship, clever. However I have heard that these ships can rattle a bit at higher speeds.

Interestingly the MS Loire Princesse (not surprisingly cruising on the River Loire) has two paddle wheels, one mounted on each side of her hull. However the Elbe Princesse has two mounted at her stern.

I wonder why the difference? Maybe the best technical location for paddle wheels is on the ships sides. Maybe this allows for more manoeuvrability? Maybe the Elbe is too just narrow for that configuration?

Loire Princesse (Courtesy Croisieurope)

Loire Princesse (Courtesy Croisieurope)

The British ocean going paddle steamer, the PS Waverly (1946) has two paddle wheels, one on the on the port side of the hull and the other on the starboard side of her hull. This is similar to the Loire Princesse.

However traditionally the Mississippi type paddle-steamers of course have one very large stern paddle wheel. This of course has more in common with the Elbe Princesse, although she has two smaller stern mounted paddle wheels rather than one large one.

American Queen: the biggest, carrying 436 passengers

American Queen: the biggest, carrying 436 passengers

Can anybody tell me why there are two different paddle-wheel locations on these ship?

Malcolm

Amadeus Provence – The New Flagship

January 15, 2017

Many of you may not have heard of Amadeus river cruises (formerly Luftner cruises) before, at least until you read my blog.

Amadeus are a family owned business (the Austrian Luftner family) who will introduce their fourteenth river ship in April year.

I have now cruised with them twice simply because of their good quality product and some very competitive fares.

Their new ship called ‘Amadeus Provence’ (not Silver 4) is currently being built in the Dutch shipyard ‘De Hoop’.

She will be 110 meters long and carry 140 passengers. She is  shorter than some newbuilds, probably because of the constraints the rivers she will be cruising on. She will sailing on the French rivers Rhône and Saône.

Amadeus Provence (Click to Enlarge)

Amadeus Provence (Click to Enlarge)

In their own words: The AMADEUS Provence offers custom-designed luxury and features a unique combination of modern elegance and superb amenities:
8 spacious Suites with comfortable corner sofa, luxurious bathroom and walk-out exterior balcony
62 Staterooms with mainly drop-down panoramic windows, luxurious bathrooms and walk-in wardrobes
Spacious public areas such as the pool deck with swimming pool and Lido-Bar or the outdoor glass-shielded “River Terrace”.

The AMADEUS Provence will transport you on the river cruise of a lifetime. Don’t miss the breath-taking 8-day cruise “French Savoir Vivre” from/to Lyon and experience world-famous sights such as Pont du Gard, Gorges de l´Ardèche, the nature reserve Camargue und the wine area Beaujolais. 

The design of Provence is a little different to all the other Amadeus ships.

The ship has to pass under a number of low bridges on these itineraries, which means the sun deck has to regularly be closed to passengers.

However I believe the new ‘pool deck’ at the stern (not featured on any of their other ships) is located lower so it can still be used when the sun deck is closed.

Malcolm

Amadeus Silver II ship review: HERE

Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

Crystal Cuts Riverboat Steel

January 11, 2017

Crystal Cruises and MV Werften today celebrated the cutting of the first piece of steel in Wismar,  Germany.

This  ceremony marks the start of construction of Crystal River Cruises’ two additional Rhine-class river yachts, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, scheduled to sail in spring 2018.

The first plates of the 106-guest river ships were cut in the presence of the Genting Group Executive Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and numerous other guests.

(Crystal)

Malcolm says: I don’t doubt the quality of Crystal’s cruise products. However unless they give me a free cruise (which is very unlikely) you will not see a Crystal review on this site. Unfortunately I can’t afford their fares!

Crowded Waters

January 10, 2017

There has been a lot of talk about the increasing number of ocean cruise ships in the past decade. In particular about the negative impact of mega-ships on the environment and their ports of call.

There are now ships on order that will carry in excess of 6,000 passengers, plus crew.

However, what about European river cruising which is a now booming business?

‘Viking River Cruises’ are a good example of success and expansion…

Read more…HERE

A busy Danube - Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

A busy Danube – Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

 

The Danube

January 7, 2017

Below is a short slide show of the Danube River form on-board Amadeus Elegant:

 
Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE.

Don’t Book An Ocean Cruise…

January 5, 2017

…until you have read my latest review.

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For twenty years I have been ocean cruising. I am lucky enough to have experienced many big ships, small ships, old ships and new ships.

To keep the whole thing fresh I tried many different ships and some different cruise lines. These have included Cunard, P&O, Fred. Olsen, RCI, P&O, Princess, Celebrity, Thomson and CMV.

Each ship and line is different, yet they are all similar.

While searching for something different, I tried my first European River Cruise in 2015.

I did enjoyed it, it made a refreshing change, but the experience still felt a little ‘alien’ to me compared to an ocean cruise.

However something drew me back to river cruising this year (after fitting in another ocean cruise) and I took my second European river cruise over Christmas 2016.

This time something ‘clicked’ inside of me. (And I don’t mean my spine or knee cartilage.)

I really got into the format and style of the experience this time around. Many aspects of the experience were actually better than on-board most ocean ship.

Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

I’m NOT seriously suggesting that you give up ocean cruising, but maybe your New Year’s Resolution should be to seriously consider the idea of a River cruise in 2017.

I would bet that some of your most dreaded annoyances about ocean cruises probably do not exist on river cruises.

Happy New Year

Malcolm

American Queen Steamboat Company- New Vessel

September 18, 2016

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Two-floor loft suites will be among the features on a new US river cruise vessel to be built by American Queen Steamboat Company.

The 166-passenger American Duchess is due to join the fleet in June 2017 as the Memphis-based line’s third ship.

The company claims the all-suite American Duchess will be the first purpose-built boutique paddlewheeler, featuring the largest suites in every category.

The vessel will sail on the Mississippi and its tributaries offering new overnight stays in destinations such as Nashville as well as shorter itineraries from New Orleans. Departures from Chicago will also be available for the first time.

The American Duchess will feature a generous space ratio showcased by three 550 sq. ft. Owners’ Suites, and in an US riverboat first,

Accommodation will include four 550 sq. ft. duplex-style, two floor, two bathroom loft suites.

(American Queen Steamboat Company)

Malcolm says: I’ve always fancied the idea of cruising down the Mississippi on board a paddle-steamer (sorry, paddle-wheeler, there’s no steam here).  However I think somebody will have to pay for me. Any offers?