In addition to cabin & layout innovations, here are some other “firsts” from innovative river cruise companies. I interviewed several river cruise lines and asked each what they consider to be their key innovations, inventions, or ideas that have they provided to make the industry better.
Amawaterways was the first to custom design a rivership (AmaDagio), add fleet of Bicycles, add Hiking Tours, add a Wellness program and a Dedicated Wellness Host, to have all ships designated Green Award, the first to sail Mekong in SE Asia, first to offer a river cruise safari in Africa, to have a Chef’s Table Restaurant in addition to the Main Dining Room, to have all ships inducted into la Chaine des Rotisseurs (oldest gastronomic society, invitation only), to have dedicated Hosted Wine Cruises, to sail in Europe successfully during covid with enhanced health protocols, and to offer a 46 night, 14 country, Seven Rivers Journey throughout Europe.
American Cruise Lines
We released our first modern riverboat, American Song, which debuted in 2018. We launched another modern riverboat in 2019 and have 2 more coming in 2021. I mention these because they are totally innovative for Domestic U.S. River cruising and the first of their kind here in the U.S.A. More specifically, they each have a patented opening-box and retractable-gangway, which is a cool innovative feature and allows passengers to access locations that do not have a dock!
American Queen Steamboat Company
Operating America’s most authentic paddlewheel riverboat – American Queen® – America’s only true steam-powered paddlewheel riverboat. Guests can go down to the engine room (special viewing area) and take a look, where an engineer is always there, as it has to be oiled every 20 minutes.
In January 2021, American Queen Steamboat Company was the first river cruise line to announce that beginning July 1st, 2021, all guests will be required to provide proof of covid vaccination in order to board. This was a brave call, and has resulted in new customers for the line.
Avalon has implemented the following firsts and innovations:
In February of 2021, Crystal was the first European river cruise line to announce that they will require proof of covid vaccination to sail. This policy also applies to their ocean cruises, and is certainly a first.
Crystal is also the only line that does not have any “swan” rooms – meaning all categories have a french balcony (or higher) and full sized windows. They are the first to have no fixed dining times and no need to dine with strangers (unless you’d like to).
The “value” edition of Scenic, this line was probably created to compete with Viking’s river cruises. They offer a few interesting innovations:
The only company to offer on every departure 5 cabins with no single supplement even if the cabins are meant for double occupancy.
Scenic River Cruises pioneered many firsts and innovations:
Tauck invented the loft cabin, and also innovates in service offerings:
Uniworld ships are one-of-a-kind floating boutique hotels, uniquely designed to reflect the destinations in which they sail, boasting some of the most distinctive interior designs afloat.
This year, 2021, Uniworld is launching exclusive cruise & rail itineraries in Europe in partnership with Golden Eagle Rail, allowing travelers to explore both major cities and hidden gems on one adventure by land, cruise and train. Following a successful debut, Uniworld is offering even more cruise & rail itineraries through Hungary, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Austria, Switzerland and more in 2022.
Uniworld is the first river cruise line to have their European ships sprayed with ACT Clean Coat—an antimicrobial coating that is odorless, nontoxic and kills bacteria and viruses including COVID-19.
U by Uniworld
U paved the way for a new generation of active adult travelers interested in river cruising, with a sexy, stylish look and feel. U itineraries focus on longer stays in-destination, allowing guests to connect with local people, experiences and each city’s vibrant nightlife.
U has a few triple staterooms that have 3 separate safes, tv’s, and “pods.” To appeal to millennials, they offer foosball and other games, ultra-modern styling, and guest DJs.
U introduced unique Themed Cruises for travelers, most recently launching:
Gen Z on U: First of its kind itineraries created exclusively for teens and their parents on six select 2021 sailings.
Viking River Cruises
Viking transformed the river cruise experience with the launch of the award-winning, state-of-the-art Viking Longships, featuring:
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