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  • Unique River Cruise Features

    1/3/2015 10:05:43 AM Link |  | Add comment

    In this Blog, we will  highlight some of the unique features that river cruise companies are incorporating into their riverboats. These include onboard herb gardens, heated pools and innovative designs for private balconies.

    The ships of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises have distinctive interior designs. Opulent fabrics, rich color schemes and fine art and antiques are used to create the "boutique" feel of these ships -- no two look alike. The S.S. Antoinette, for example, has a Baccarat chandelier that once graced New York's famed Tavern on the Green; it also boasts a glassed-in, heated swimming pool and a 20-seat movie theater. The Ganges Voyager II, which will debut in 2016 on Uniworld's new Ganges River itinerary in India, will have high-ceilinged suites with hand-painted murals.

    Several ships in the AmaWaterways fleet include staterooms with twin balconies: a French balcony with glass doors that open to a railing (but you can't step out), and a full balcony that you can walk out on. Some vessels have a heated pool with swim-up bar on the sundeck.

    The Suite Ships of Avalon Waterways feature 200-square-foot Panoramic Suites, which have nearly 11-foot-wide, wall-to-wall windows that slide open to transform your entire stateroom into one large, open-air balcony. Plus, beds face the window so you'll always see the river views.

    The Viking Longships of Viking River Cruises boast some of the largest riverboat accommodations in Europe, the 445-square-foot Explorer Suites. They have a separate living room and bedroom and a private wraparound veranda offering 270-degree views. The indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, found at the bow of each Longship, has retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Longships sail with energy-efficient, hybrid diesel-electric engines and solar panels, as well as organic herb gardens.

    Carrying 432 passengers for American Queen Steamboat Company, the American Queen is the largest riverboat sailing the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers. It's a modern ship that was designed to resemble the riverboats of the past, with fluted stacks, gingerbread trim and a large paddle wheel. It even has a calliope, on which passengers can play a few notes. Interiors carry out the 19th-century design theme, with Tiffany glass and antique furnishings.

    Cabins aboard the Scenic Crystal, which sails for Scenic Cruises, can be transformed into weatherproof "sun lounges." If the weather is chilly, just press a button and a glass pane will rise to create an enclosed space.

    A-ROSA Cruises, an established German river cruise company, has introduced five of its vessels to North American travelers. The ships are equipped with a number of amenities designed to make the most of life on board, such as putting greens, pools or whirlpools, spa relaxation rooms and saunas with expansive windows that frame the passing scenery.

    The Queen of the Mississippi recalls the grand riverboats of Mark Twain's era, from its crimson paddle wheel to its "wedding cake" layers of whitewashed decks. Its 300-square-foot staterooms are the largest on the river, and most sport private balconies. American Cruise Lines built this ship specifically for cruising on the Mississippi.

    When Luther Blount, founder of Blount Small Ship Adventures, was told that cruise ships could not navigate the Erie Canal because the bridges were too low, he headed to his workshop. There, he designed a vessel with a retractable pilot house that could slip under the lowest bridges, with inches to spare. Both the Grande Caribe and the Grande Mariner have this unique feature, as well as shallow drafts that allow them to sail in less than 7 feet of water. The ships also sport bow ramps that let guests disembark right at shallow waters and sandy shores during the line's tropical sailings.

    This year, Tauck launched its Inspiration Class of ships, the ms Inspire and ms Savor. Each offers eight loft cabins that extend from the first to the second decks, offering more natural light. These vessels also have 300-square-foot suites, plus dedicated cabins for solo travelers. Bathrooms in larger staterooms will have double sinks. 

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