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Discover the world by river

River ship cruising is the fastest growing segment in the travel and cruise industry, as more and more passengers, especially Australians, see the benefits of exploring areas by river ship. Europe is especially popular due to the fact that most cities are located on rivers as, for centuries, they were the main route of transportation and commerce. European river ships are limited in their width and height due to the many low bridges, but this has been compensated for with them becoming longer. Most river ships boast very luxurious cabins and public areas, rivaling or bettering their ocean going cousins. With river cruising, virtually all day-to-day costs are included. These include wine and beverages with meals, half-day tours with local guides, on-board entertainment and more. Simply unpack once and enjoy. The Retiree Magazine’s editor at sea, John Pond asks senior executives of the most popular river ship companies, what makes river cruising so enticing and why their company is the one to choose?

Tauck Riverboat
Tauck

The Tauck Difference provides four Tauck Directors on every river cruise (the highest tour director-to-guest ratio in the industry) and no more than 118 or 130 guests onboard (intimate – the most space per guest on any European riverboat). We have the most suites on any European riverboat, no options sold, single supplement waived on all cruises in category 1, and uncommon access to one-of –a-kind venues ashore. With Tauck, it’s what happens ashore that really sets us apart. What do Australians look for when booking a river cruise? A fully inclusive high quality product. Tauck always goes beyond the expected. What is your most popular cruise/cruises purchased by Australians? Prague to Budapest and Budapest to Amsterdam. Europe and Asia seem to be the most popular river cruising destinations, does your company have any plans for new itineraries in other areas? Tauck plans to unlock more of Europe, to continue to craft experiences that go beyond the ordinary. In 2014 Tauck has released four new itineraries cruising into Bavaria, the Black Forest and the Alsace plus cruises that include city stays in Vienna, Paris, Versailles and London. Food plays an important part in cruising. Is the cuisine on river cruising different from ocean cruising? High quality cuisine that reflects the region and season is as beautifully presented on river cruising as it is on ocean cruising. On Tauck River Cruises you also dine on-shore frequently getting to experience the region your in for many meals. What are the additional costs, apart from the fare, when river cruising? With Tauck there are no extra costs. It’s all inclusive – airport transfers, luxury accommodation, exclusive access to unique onshore experiences; all dining onboard & ashore, unlimited beverages onboard, gratuities, port & fuel charges plus more. What are your company’s plans for future river ships? In 2014, Tauck is launching two new riverboats. With a maximum of 130 guests, ms Inspire and ms Savor continue Tauck’s tradition of providing the most space per guest on Europe’s rivers through an innovative deck plan including eight lower deck cabins with an innovative loft design that introduces more light. “On Tauck River Cruises you also dine on-shore frequently getting to experience the region your in for many meals.”

Uniworld
Uniworld

What makes your company different from other river cruise companies? Our goal at Uniworld is not to be the biggest river cruise line but to be the absolute best in providing our valued guests with the highest standards of excellence in luxury river cruising. We provide our guests a six-star experience with attention to detail and quality evident in everything from the dining experience, décor, shore excursions and staff. Our partnership with sister company Red Carnation Hotels, a collection of five-star boutique hotels, means we’ve been able to create a boutique hotel experience onboard our ships. All of our vessels are lavishly appointed and our staff are trained with the philosophy ‘no request too large, no detail too small’. What do Australians look for when booking a river cruise? Our guests regularly tell us they enjoy the lack of hassle and high level of hospitality and luxury that comes with such a high staff to passenger ratio and the accessibility of docking right in the heart of a city. Our vessels have an average of 130 guests so there’s a level of intimacy and personalised hospitality that you won’t find on mainstream ocean or river cruises. What is your most popular cruise/cruises purchased by Australians? Our European voyages on the Rhine, Moselle and Danube are perennially popular though as the segment grows so does the popularity of all the regions. France is increasingly popular as a river cruising destination and we’ve already seen a lot of interest in our new Bordeaux itinerary for 2014. We find many of our guests develop a deep affinity for river cruising and it’s not unusual to find a large amount of repeat visitors onboard who return to cruise with us in other parts of Europe or in Asia. Food plays an important part in cruising. Is the cuisine on river cruising different from ocean cruising? The food alone would make a Uniworld cruise worthwhile! Industry veteran and renowned chef, Berhnard Zorn leads Uniworld’s culinary team and meals are prepared with the freshest ingredients – don’t be surprised to see a Uniworld chef picking up produce in the local farmers markets throughout the trip. What are the additional costs, apart from the fare, when river cruising? In 2014 Uniworld is for the first time introducing an all-inclusive price structure on European cruises. We’re very excited about this as it means our guest experience will be completely seamless, guests can focus on making the most of the unparalleled luxury on-board with the convenience of not having to reach into their pockets and worry about further outlays of cash once they join the cruise. What are your company’s plans for future river ships? We’re very excited to be launching the S.S. Catherine in March next year which will service the Burgundy & Provence cruise. Every Uniworld ship is a work of art – completely boutique and truly unique – and the S.S. Catherine will be no different with hand-selected art, antiques, marble and mirrors throughout the ship. We’re also adding a new destination with the eight-day Bordeaux, Vineyards and Chateaux itinerary in the southwest pocket of France. “Our goal at Uniworld is not to be the biggest river cruise line but to be the absolute best in providing our valued guests with the highest standards of excellence in luxury river cruising.”

Viking
Viking

What makes your company different from other river cruise companies? When you cruise with Viking you sail with the world’s leading river cruise company, and you enjoy the rewards of more than 175 years of heritage and a level of expertise second to none. Our fleet is the newest and largest – and importantly, the ships are owned and operated by Viking which means a superior level of customer service. Our customer-service focused English speaking crew is employed directly by Viking. Our cruise prices include; shore excursions, all sumptuous meals onboard, deluxe hotel accommodation during land portions, a variety of enriching lectures, demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes, and all tipping and gratuities in Europe and Russia We are all for eliminating nasty surprises in the form of unexpected expenses. What do Australians look for when booking a river cruise? Australians choose river cruising because they are sophisticated travelers interested in art, music, history, culture and people. They also appreciate fresh, local cuisine and good wine. We find that Australians like relaxing, all-inclusive holidays so they don’t need to worry about a thing once on board. What is your most popular cruise/cruises purchased by Australians? Our 15-day Grand European Tour is our most popular cruise. Food plays an important part in cruising. Is the cuisine on river cruising different from ocean cruising? Yes it is, to some extent. Our chefs source fresh produce daily from the local markets and don’t need to store items in a cool room for long periods like they have to on ocean going ships. They offer international cuisine with a local flavour, a combination that seems to appeal to most taste buds. What are the additional costs, apart from the fare, when river cruising? We offer a handful of optional shore excursions, but find that most people are quite content with the one included daily excursion. Laundry and souvenir shopping are also excluded from the cruise fare. What are your company’s plans for future river ships? Amid record levels of consumer interest in river cruising, Viking has just increased its order for additional Viking Longships, bringing the total number of new ships launching in 2014 from 12 to 14 vessels. The increased order reflects the popularity of river cruising as the fastest growing segment of the travel industry and the leadership position of Viking, the world’s leading river cruise line. By the end of 2014, Viking will have introduced a total of 30 new ships in a three-year period – the most rapid fleet expansion program the cruise industry has ever seen. The 14 new ships in 2014 will sail Viking’s most popular itineraries in Europe. “When you cruise with Viking you sail with the world’s leading river cruise company, and you enjoy the rewards of more than 175 years of heritage and a level of expertise second to none.”

Globus
Globus

What makes your company different from other river cruise companies? Being backed by 85 years of experience distinguishes Avalon Waterways from the rest. In addition to having Europe’s youngest fleet, our state-of-the-art Suit Ships offer luxury and appointments not found anywhere else. What do Australians look for when booking a river cruise? Once a budget is established, they tend to look for itineraries that will help them achieve an experience they’ve longed for. This includes the destinations and shore excursions that they desire as well as time of year, ships and cabin they’ll stay in. What is your most popular cruise/cruises purchased by Australians? Typically, the first-timer tends to cruise between Amsterdam and Budapest over 14 nights. We call this itinerary Magnificent Europe. Food plays an important part in cruising. Is the cuisine on river cruising different from ocean cruising? Avalon offers all meals while cruising including four-course dinners with wine, beer and soft drinks and ‘light fare’ that feature in our Panorama Bistro. We’ll have freshly baked cookies, espresso style coffee and ‘night snacks’ for those that are feeling puckish around the 10pm mark. What are the additional costs, apart from the fare, when river cruising? The only additional costs would be to excursions not included in the itineraries as well as items of a personal nature such as shopping. What are your company’s plans for future river ships? The story of Avalon is one of expansion. In 2014 we’ll be cruising in the Amazon and we’re set to expand yet again for 2015. There is plenty of room for expansion both in Europe and Asia so our plans for growth and adding additional capacity will include these regions. “Being backed by 85 years of experience distinguishes Avalon Waterways from the rest.”

APT
APT

What makes your company different from other river cruise companies? With accolades including Best International Cruise Operator, (NTIA 2011 & 2013) and Best River Cruise Operator 2013 (Gourmet Traveller Magazine), APT is recognised for setting incredible standards. Our outstanding personal service, awe-inspiring and exclusive sightseeing, gourmet cuisine and resplendent river ships sets us apart. What do Australians look for when booking a river cruise? Australians want to be pampered, enjoying APT’s personalised service and truly all-inclusive luxury; they enjoy exploring new destinations with like-minded travelers ; finally, they like choice, that’s what makes our array of dining experiences, Freedom of Choice™ sightseeing and wide range of spacious onboard suites so attractive. What is your most popular cruise/cruises purchased by Australians? Magnificent Europe covering Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia Austria, and the Netherlands. Food plays an important part in cruising. Is the cuisine on river cruising different from ocean cruising? APT’s difference is its high quality and choice. Our European river cruises offer seven unique dining experiences ranging from Chef’s table degustation dining experience at the private Erlebnis restaurant to our casual River Bistro. In Asia, guests enjoy a special banquet designed by APT’s ambassador, celebrity chef, Luke Nguyen. What are the additional costs, apart from the fare, when river cruising? It depends on the destination. For Europe, it’s essentially nothing – only laundry, beauty treatments and gifts to take home. What are your company’s plans for future river ships? APT continues to push the boundaries with its ships, delivering guests more space and facilities. However exceptional quality,service and choice will remain our priority. Australians no longer book a ‘once-in-a- lifetime trip’, they want ‘many-in-a-lifetime’ experiences. Our river cruising product caters to this demand; exceeding expectations, delivering dream holidays and offering huge choice. That’s why our guests choose APT time and time again. “Our outstanding personal service,awe-inspiring and exclusive sightseeing,gourmet cuisine and resplendent river ships sets us apart.”

Cruiseco
Cruiseco

What makes your company different from other river cruise companies? Cruiseco is always looking for different and unusual destinations to charter river cruise vessels. We have been sailing continuously in Vietnam & Cambodia for five years and were one of the first companies to be plying the waters of the Irrawaddy in Myanmar after the Countries borders opened. We have also had several unique itineraries through the water ways of Europe. What do Australians look for when booking a river cruise? Australian’s enjoy good value, extensive sightseeing and unusual ports of call. Aussies are well travelled, and like to be treated as such. What is your most popular cruise/cruises  purchased by Australians? Our own vessel, the Cruiseco Adventurer is our most popular river cruise. It was custom built for the Australian traveler, light and airy, air-conditioned bar areas and private balconies all make it the perfect vessel for our passengers. Food plays an important part in cruising.Is the cuisine on river cruising different from ocean cruising? The standard of food on a river cruise is no different from that of an ocean cruise. We have local chefs onboard each of our vessels providing local dishes for our guests to sample, but also the creature comforts from home. What are the additional costs, apart from the fare, when river cruising? River cruising in generally all inclusive. Just keep in mind however due to the often exotic destinations, visas may also be required. What are your company’s plans for future river ships? You will just have to wait and see – but needless to say – it is very exciting! “We have been sailing continuously in Vietnam & Cambodia for five years and were one of the first companies to be plying the waters of the Irrawaddy in Myanmar after the Countries borders opened.” [related_ad category=”995″ max_size=”3″ title=”Related Offers”] [related_ad category=”7″ max_size=”3″ title=”Related Stories”]