What's on deck for river cruising in 2024?

Kir Royale, European Waterways' newest hotel canal barge, will begin sailing in France's Champagne region in May.
Kir Royale, European Waterways' newest hotel canal barge, will begin sailing in France's Champagne region in May. Photo Credit: European Waterways
Nicole Edenedo
Nicole Edenedo

River cruise lines from Amadeus River Cruises to AmaWaterways and Tauck had strong showings in 2023 as more travelers returned to Europe and other international destinations this year post-Covid.

There were a number of new river cruise developments throughout the year: continued expansion in Egypt and destinations farther afield; lines making more investments in sustainability initiatives; and Eastern Europe river cruises rebounding following the start of the war in Ukraine, to name a few.

But as 2023 comes to a close, there's much to look forward to from suppliers in 2024 as more of them expand destination offerings, launch itineraries and debut ships. Here are some we're most excited about:

AmaWaterways introduces river cruises in Colombia

AmaWaterways will launch its first river cruise itineraries in South America in 2024 on Colombia's Magdalena River.

The line will debut two ships there, the AmaMagdalena and the AmaMelodia, along with two seven-night itineraries, Magic of Colombia and Wonders of Colombia. The itineraries will be offered on both ships, sailing between Barranquilla and Cartagena.

Both itineraries will offer a number of pre- and post-cruise extension packages, visiting destinations like Medellin and Panama City.

The AmaMagdalena is scheduled to debut first in November, while the AmaMelodia is expected to join the fleet in June 2025. Fares start at $3,599 per person based on double occupancy.

Avalon Waterways sets sail for Portugal

Avalon Waterways is breaking into Portugal's popular river cruise market with a new ship and itinerary that will debut on the Douro River beginning in April 2024.

The new Avalon Alegria, a 102-passenger Suite Ship vessel, will give guests an up-close view of the hillside vineyards and historical villages scattered across Portugal's Douro Valley.

The Alegria will operate roundtrip from Porto on an eight-day Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro itinerary that will feature Avalon's Classic, Discovery and Active excursion choices in each port. Fares start at $3,299 per person.

Egypt expands with more river cruise options

Despite the ongoing geopolitical strife in the region, development has not slowed down in Egypt, where Nile River Cruise sailings have been in high demand throughout 2023.

Viking is expanding its fleet of ships on the Nile with the addition of the Viking Hathor next year, along with the Viking Sobek, which will debut in 2025.

The 82-guest Hathor will be a sister ship to the existing Viking Osiris and Viking Aton, along with the upcoming Viking Sobek and will feature the line's signature indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace; a number of libraries in common areas and staterooms; and a pool on the sundeck.  

The Viking Hathor will begin departures of the company's 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, which sails roundtrip from Cairo and kicks off with three nights in the capital city before embarking on an eight-day, roundtrip cruise from Luxor.

AmaWaterways will also put a new ship on the Nile River next year, debuting the 41-cabin AmaLilia, which will be a sister ship to the existing AmaDahlia.

The AmaLilia will feature 13 suites, regionally inspired decor and a specialty restaurant. Both ships sail the company's 12-night Secrets of Egypt & the Nile itinerary that also starts with three nights in Cairo, followed by a roundtrip 7-night river cruise on the Nile from Luxor.

Fares for both AmaWaterways' and Viking's Egypt sailings begin at $5,999 per person.

New canal barge cruises in Europe

If you or your client hasn't tried a canal barge cruise in Europe yet, then 2024 might just be the right year.

European Waterways will introduce a new luxury canal barge in France's Champagne region in May.

The eight-passenger Kir Royale will join the company's class of Ultra Deluxe barges, which feature cabin suites that are similar in size to a hotel room.

Kir Royale will sail six-night, all-inclusive itineraries on the Marne River and Canal lateral a la Marne from May through October, offering excursions to renowned Champagne houses, including Moet & Chandon.

CORRECTED: This report was corrected on Dec. 29 to say that the AmaMelodia will join the AmaWaterways fleet in June 2025. The original report incorrectly gave the date as January 2025.


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