12 New and Refurbished River Ships to Get Excited About in 2018

by Donna Heiderstadt

12 New and Refurbished River Ships to Get Excited About in 2018

by Donna Heiderstadt

We’re just three months into 2018 and, already, the ever-expanding river cruise category has welcomed two new ships. Another 10 — most new, a few refurbished — are scheduled to debut over the next three months on European rivers and in Africa. If you enjoy cruising on the latest vessels afloat, check out these 12 recently or soon-to-be launched ships and itineraries.

11
River Beatrice, undergoing renovations to become S.S. Beatrice / Uniworld
Avalon Siem Reap, sister ship of Avalon Saigon
1 of 11
Avalon Saigon

Launched on the Mekong in late January, Avalon Waterways’ 36-passenger Avalon Saigon joined sister ship Avalon Siem Reap as the only river ships cruising the Mekong all the way from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (and vice versa). Suites measure 245 square feet and have colonial-inspired design while dining is focused on seasonal menus featuring regional and Western cuisine. Avalon Saigon’s 13-night Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River itineraries continue until late March and resume in July through December.

Launched on the Mekong in late January, Avalon Waterways’ 36-passenger Avalon Saigon joined sister ship Avalon Siem Reap as the only river ships cruising the Mekong all the way from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (and vice versa). Suites measure 245 square feet and have colonial-inspired design while dining is focused on seasonal menus featuring regional and Western cuisine. Avalon Saigon’s 13-night Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River itineraries continue until late March and resume in July through December.

Rendering of Viking Ra
2 of 11
Viking Ra

Designed to cruise the Nile River in Egypt, 52-passenger Viking Ra made her debut in late February sailing a 12-night Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary roundtrip from Cairo. Both Verandah Suites and Suites measure 291 square feet and feature modern Scandinavian decor. Dining in the The Restaurant features regional and contemporary cuisine, and there’s a pool and two Jacuzzis. Highlights include the ancient temples of Luxor and Aswan, but you’ll have to plan ahead because 2018 sailings are already sold out and 2019 dates are almost gone, too.

Designed to cruise the Nile River in Egypt, 52-passenger Viking Ra made her debut in late February sailing a 12-night Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary roundtrip from Cairo. Both Verandah Suites and Suites measure 291 square feet and feature modern Scandinavian decor. Dining in the The Restaurant features regional and contemporary cuisine, and there’s a pool and two Jacuzzis. Highlights include the ancient temples of Luxor and Aswan, but you’ll have to plan ahead because 2018 sailings are already sold out and 2019 dates are almost gone, too.

Rendering of African Dream
3 of 11
African Dream

Europe’s largest river cruise company heads to Africa in late March with the inaugural cruise of African Dream, a 16-passenger vessel that will visit South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe on eight-night itineraries (though late September and then again in December) that mix time onboard (three nights exploring Lake Kariba and the Gache-Gache and Sanyati rivers) with overnights in safari lodges. African Dream’s contemporary suites measure 182 square feet and feature panoramic windows and there’s also a restaurant, lounge bar, and rooftop terrace.

Europe’s largest river cruise company heads to Africa in late March with the inaugural cruise of African Dream, a 16-passenger vessel that will visit South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe on eight-night itineraries (though late September and then again in December) that mix time onboard (three nights exploring Lake Kariba and the Gache-Gache and Sanyati rivers) with overnights in safari lodges. African Dream’s contemporary suites measure 182 square feet and feature panoramic windows and there’s also a restaurant, lounge bar, and rooftop terrace.

Rendering of MS Elbe Princesse II
4 of 11
Elbe Princesse II

As her name implies, CroisiEurope’s 86-passenger Elbe Princesse II will explore ports along the Elbe River from Prague to Berlin (and vice versa) when she debuts in early April. The ship is pretty much identical to Elbe Princesse (launched in 2016) and features modern décor and French cuisine. On its eight-night itineraries, Elbe Princesse will call on Litomerice (one of the oldest Bohemian cities), Dresden, Meissen, Wittenberg, and Nedlitz (for Sanssouci Palace) among other ports.

As her name implies, CroisiEurope’s 86-passenger Elbe Princesse II will explore ports along the Elbe River from Prague to Berlin (and vice versa) when she debuts in early April. The ship is pretty much identical to Elbe Princesse (launched in 2016) and features modern décor and French cuisine. On its eight-night itineraries, Elbe Princesse will call on Litomerice (one of the oldest Bohemian cities), Dresden, Meissen, Wittenberg, and Nedlitz (for Sanssouci Palace) among other ports.

River Beatrice, undergoing renovations to become the S.S. Beatrice
5 of 11
S.S. Beatrice

Uniworld’s former River Beatrice has been refurbished into a 152-passenger “super ship” and will make its Danube debut on April 4. Two new 375-square-foot Royal Suites and another Owner’s Suite were added, as were connecting staterooms for families. Other enhancements: a dramatic staircase and a renovated lounge. Itineraries on S.S. Beatrice include seven-night Delightful Danube (Budapest to Nuremberg and vice versa) and nine-night Highlights of Eastern Europe (Budapest to Bucharest and vice versa) through late October followed by European Holiday market cruises.

Uniworld’s former River Beatrice has been refurbished into a 152-passenger “super ship” and will make its Danube debut on April 4. Two new 375-square-foot Royal Suites and another Owner’s Suite were added, as were connecting staterooms for families. Other enhancements: a dramatic staircase and a renovated lounge. Itineraries on S.S. Beatrice include seven-night Delightful Danube (Budapest to Nuremberg and vice versa) and nine-night Highlights of Eastern Europe (Budapest to Bucharest and vice versa) through late October followed by European Holiday market cruises.

AmaLea
6 of 11
AmaLea

In early April, 164-passenger AmaLea will become the newest in AmaWaterways’s fleet of luxury vessels. Notable for its sophisticated contemporary design, spacious staterooms and suites (upper categories feature twin balconies), two restaurants serving locally inspired cuisine and tasting menus (plus tapas in the Main Lounge), and a heated pool, AmaLea will sail seven-night Tulip Time cruises until late April; seven-night Romantic Danube and Melodies of the Danube itineraries from May until November; and Iconic Christmas Markets in November and December.

In early April, 164-passenger AmaLea will become the newest in AmaWaterways’s fleet of luxury vessels. Notable for its sophisticated contemporary design, spacious staterooms and suites (upper categories feature twin balconies), two restaurants serving locally inspired cuisine and tasting menus (plus tapas in the Main Lounge), and a heated pool, AmaLea will sail seven-night Tulip Time cruises until late April; seven-night Romantic Danube and Melodies of the Danube itineraries from May until November; and Iconic Christmas Markets in November and December.

The B, sister ship of The A
7 of 11
The A

Tapping into a new demographic for river cruising—passengers 45 and under—U by Uniworld will launch The A on April 14 with a seven-night Rolling on the Rhine itinerary from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. Cruises on the 120-passenger ship, which features modern design, a DJ booth, a lounge with a late-night small-plate menu, and nighttime excursions, will be limited to those aged 21-45 (except on select “open-age” sailings). The Rhine itinerary (also cruising Frankfurt to Amsterdam) operates through September, as does a seven-night Germany’s Finest, while The Danube Flow itinerary (visiting Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary) sails through October.

Tapping into a new demographic for river cruising—passengers 45 and under—U by Uniworld will launch The A on April 14 with a seven-night Rolling on the Rhine itinerary from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. Cruises on the 120-passenger ship, which features modern design, a DJ booth, a lounge with a late-night small-plate menu, and nighttime excursions, will be limited to those aged 21-45 (except on select “open-age” sailings). The Rhine itinerary (also cruising Frankfurt to Amsterdam) operates through September, as does a seven-night Germany’s Finest, while The Danube Flow itinerary (visiting Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary) sails through October.

The B
8 of 11
The B

On April 21, U by Uniworld’s second 120-passenger ship, The B, will depart Paris on its seven-night “The Seine Experience” itinerary. Featuring all of the same youthful amenities and décor as its sister ship The A (as well as select “open-age” sailings, which passengers outside the 21-45 demographic can book), this vessel will cruise roundtrip from Paris through October to Normandy: Vernon (for Giverny) Rouen, Honfleur, and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. It’s a familiar route for river cruisers — but nighttime excursions, onboard parties, and active daytime options will up the energy level.

On April 21, U by Uniworld’s second 120-passenger ship, The B, will depart Paris on its seven-night “The Seine Experience” itinerary. Featuring all of the same youthful amenities and décor as its sister ship The A (as well as select “open-age” sailings, which passengers outside the 21-45 demographic can book), this vessel will cruise roundtrip from Paris through October to Normandy: Vernon (for Giverny) Rouen, Honfleur, and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. It’s a familiar route for river cruisers — but nighttime excursions, onboard parties, and active daytime options will up the energy level.

ms Treasures
9 of 11
ms Treasures

Fresh from a refurbishment that created more spacious staterooms and suites — more than 70 percent are now 225 to 300 square feet — Tauck's 98-passenger ms Treasures will cruise on May 5 from Amsterdam on a 14-night itinerary to Budapest and continue through October (also sailing northbound cruises from Budapest to Amsterdam)—but many dates are already sold out.

Fresh from a refurbishment that created more spacious staterooms and suites — more than 70 percent are now 225 to 300 square feet — Tauck's 98-passenger ms Treasures will cruise on May 5 from Amsterdam on a 14-night itinerary to Budapest and continue through October (also sailing northbound cruises from Budapest to Amsterdam)—but many dates are already sold out.

Rendering of Amadeus Queen
10 of 11
Amadeus Queen

The 15th river ship in Amadeus Cruises’ fleet debuts on April 27 in Amsterdam with a seven-night Tulip Serenade sailing. Amadeus Queen, which accommodates 162 passengers in staterooms and suites ranging from 172 to 284 square feet, also features an indoor pool (with retractable roof) and an open-air River Terrace lounge. From May to October, the ship offers seven-night Classical Rhine, Three Rivers, and Danube Rhapsody itineraries and 14-night Across the Heart of Europe cruises, among others (but many 2018 sailings are already sold out).

The 15th river ship in Amadeus Cruises’ fleet debuts on April 27 in Amsterdam with a seven-night Tulip Serenade sailing. Amadeus Queen, which accommodates 162 passengers in staterooms and suites ranging from 172 to 284 square feet, also features an indoor pool (with retractable roof) and an open-air River Terrace lounge. From May to October, the ship offers seven-night Classical Rhine, Three Rivers, and Danube Rhapsody itineraries and 14-night Across the Heart of Europe cruises, among others (but many 2018 sailings are already sold out).

Rendering of Crystal Debussy/Ravel
11 of 11
Crystal Debussy & Ravel

Crystal’s foray into luxury river cruising continues with the April 9 debut of 106-passenger Crystal Debussy and its sister ship, the Crystal Ravel, on May 10. The purpose-built ships feature upscale amenities and ambience, fine dining in multiple restaurants, and spacious suites (the largest is 750 square feet, the smallest 188 square feet). Debussy sails seven-night Tulips & Windmills cruises roundtrip from Amsterdam until mid-April, and then cruises the Rhine on seven- and 10-night itineraries through the New Year. Ravel will embark on 14-night “Majestic Europe” itineraries that cruise between Basel and Vienna and seven-night Danube Serenade sailings between Vienna and Budapest (through November), followed by seven-night Danube Christmas Dreams sailings.

Crystal’s foray into luxury river cruising continues with the April 9 debut of 106-passenger Crystal Debussy and its sister ship, the Crystal Ravel, on May 10. The purpose-built ships feature upscale amenities and ambience, fine dining in multiple restaurants, and spacious suites (the largest is 750 square feet, the smallest 188 square feet). Debussy sails seven-night Tulips & Windmills cruises roundtrip from Amsterdam until mid-April, and then cruises the Rhine on seven- and 10-night itineraries through the New Year. Ravel will embark on 14-night “Majestic Europe” itineraries that cruise between Basel and Vienna and seven-night Danube Serenade sailings between Vienna and Budapest (through November), followed by seven-night Danube Christmas Dreams sailings.

Up next...

10 Best Ports for Fun Fall Activities

Koblenz, Germany
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices