New River Cruise Ships in 2015

River cruise in Paris

2015 is shaping up to be another banner year for river cruise ship launches. As it has done since 2012, Viking Cruises will again lead the river cruise shipbuilding race by launching a double-digit number of ships -- 12 in Europe and a couple in Asia.

Viking's not the only river cruise line launching ships, though. No fewer than 15 river cruise lines have or will launch at least 40 new cruise ships this year, a number that, when compared to the seven oceangoing ships set for launch in 2015, is astonishing, even when size differences and total passenger counts are factored in.

And just as interesting as the sheer number of new ships are their destinations. Europe still leads the way by a considerable margin, but new river cruise hardware will be popping up all over Southeast Asia in 2015. About 25 percent of the new ships being built are destined for itineraries in India, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia, opening up new markets and solidifying more established routes.

Americas

American Cruise Lines

American Eagle

Ship and Launch: American Eagle, March 2015

The Lowdown: American Cruise Lines' new paddlewheel riverboat, American Eagle, will closely resemble its 2012 sister vessel, Queen of the Mississippi -- the first new paddlewheeler built specifically for the Mississippi in nearly 20 years. Staterooms range from 300 to 600 square feet, with 60-square-foot balconies. Other facilities include elevators to all decks, an outdoor exercise area and putting green, passenger laundry facilities and complimentary wireless internet. American Eagle will offer various weeklong itineraries on the Mississippi from March through December.

Deployment: Mississippi River, U.S.A.

Haimark Travel

Ship and Launch: Amazon Discovery, June 2015

The Lowdown: Amazon Discovery is Haimark Travel's 44-passenger ship, set for launch in Peru in June 2015. Cabins on the all-suite ship range in size from 237 to 597 square feet, and they're divided into four categories arranged over two decks. There is a pool and separate spa onboard, and the ship sails six-night return trips through the Peruvian Amazon. 

Deployment: Amazon River, Peru

Asia

Haimark Travel

Ship and Launch: Ganges Voyager, January 2015

The Lowdown: Ganges Voyager is a 28-suite ship, which is chartered out to other cruise lines and tour operators, including Vantage and APT. Suites onboard range from 261 to 400 square feet, and they're divided into five categories, with 10 cabins on the main deck and the remainder on the upper deck.

Deployment: Ganges River, India

Pandaw River Cruises

Ships and Launch: Kha Byoo and Kaladan Pandaw, January and September 2015

The Lowdown: Kha Byoo Pandaw, starting service early in 2015, and Kaladan Pandaw, joining the fleet in September, will both have a shallow-draft design to allow access from Mandalay to Bhamo, the most northern navigable point of the Irrawaddy, close to the China border. Not all details have been released, but the 20-passenger ships will have two walk-around passenger decks. The upper will have three cabins measuring 170 square feet and one premium cabin. The main deck will have six cabins.

Deployment: Irrawaddy River, Burma

Avalon Waterways

Ship and Launch: Siem Reap, January 2015

The Lowdown: Sailing in Vietnam and Cambodia, Avalon Siem Reap carries 36 passengers in 18 cabins that each measure 245 square feet. Each stateroom features a 14-foot-wide wall-to-wall panoramic window, which opens to create an indoor-outdoor living space. Built by local craftsmen, the ship has been designed so it can cruise to places not accessible on larger ships. Avalon Siem Reap will replace the line's current Mekong vessel, Avalon Angkor. Most notably, the new ship's design will enable it to sail the entire route from Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap in Cambodia without the need for a seven-hour coach transfer at the end of the itinerary.

Deployment: Mekong River, Vietnam & Cambodia

Avalon Myanmar

Ship and Launch: Avalon Myanmar, September 2015

The Lowdown: Sailing on the Irrawaddy River, Avalon Myanmar carries 36 passengers in 18 cabins that each measure 245 square feet -- somewhat larger than Avalon's European river ships. Each stateroom features a 14-foot-wide wall-to-wall panoramic window, which opens to create an indoor-outdoor living space. Built by local craftsmen, the ship has been designed so it can cruise to places not accessible on larger ships. Avalon Myanmar will sail itineraries on the upper, northern stretches of the Irrawaddy.

Deployment: Irrawaddy River, Burma

Haimark Travel

Ship and Launch: Mekong Princess, September 2015

The Lowdown: Mekong Princess will deploy in Burma in September 2015 as an all-suite spa ship featuring spa cuisine and enhanced spa treatments. The 200-foot, 24-passenger ship will sail the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia and homeport in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The 12 suites onboard range in size from 234 to 495 square feet. Only the two largest suites -- Angkor Suites -- have balconies, with the rest offering French balconies.

Deployment: Amazon River, Peru

AmaWaterways & APT

AmaDara

Ship and Launch: AmaDara, August 2015

The Lowdown: AmaDara will join AmaLotus -- the AmaWaterways & APT vessel that's cruised the Mekong since 2011 -- on Vietnam and Cambodia itineraries in 2015. The 124-passenger vessel features 48 standard 226-square-foot staterooms, which all have private twin balconies (a French balcony and a full-size step-out balcony). In 2015, the vessel will be dedicated to a 15-night itinerary that also includes land-based stays in Hanoi, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City.

Deployment: Mekong River, Vietnam & Cambodia

Europe

AmaWaterways & APT

Ships and Launch: AmaSerena and AmaVenita, March 2015

The Lowdown: AmaVenita and twin sister ship AmaSerena will join AmaWaterways' & APT's European fleet in 2015. Each ship offers 82 staterooms, measuring 210 to 235 square feet. Most feature twin balconies -- a French balcony and a separate outside balcony. There are also four suites that measure 300 square feet apiece. All cabins feature a state-of-the-art "infotainment" systems, including television, on-demand films and high-speed Internet access.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Avalon Waterways

Ships and Launch: Avalon Waterways' Tapestry II and Tranquility II, March 2015

The Lowdown: Avalon Tapestry II and its sister ship Avalon Tranquility II are the ninth and 10th additions to Avalon Waterways' "all suite" ships in Europe. The ships feature two full decks of suites, all with wall-to-wall sliding panoramic windows that create an open-air balcony with a seating area for six people. Standard cabins are 200 square feet each, with Royal Suites measuring 300 square feet and featuring king-size beds and full-size bathrooms.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Emerald Waterways

Emerald Sun

Ships and Launch: Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn, March 2015

The Lowdown: Emerald Waterways' innovative new 182-passenger, 443-foot-long ships have 92 cabins divided into five different categories -- two solo (130 square feet), 18 Staterooms (162 square feet), 60 Panorama Balcony Suites (180 square feet), eight Grand Balcony Suites (210 square feet) and four Owner's Suites (315 square feet). The Owner's Suites each comprise a separate, closed-off bedroom, a separate lounge area and an outdoor balcony. The most innovative bit of design planned is a dual-purpose area at the aft of the ship that transforms from an indoor heated pool with retractable roof during the day to a cinema at night.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Tauck River Cruising

Ship and Launch: Tauck Esprit, March 2015

The Lowdown: One of Tauck's four Jewel-class vessels sailing on the Rhine, Main and Danube, Esprit accommodates 118 passengers. Stateroom types include 14 spacious 300-square-foot suites with walk-in closets and marble bathrooms with full-size tubs. Esprit also has seven 183-square-foot cabins, and standard cabins are 150 square feet. Eighty-five percent of cabins have floor-to-ceiling windows with French balconies.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Uniworld Boutique River

S.S Maria Theresa

Ship and Launch: Cruise Collection's S.S. Maria Theresa, March 2015

The Lowdown: Maria Theresa, the 150-passenger sister ship to S.S. Catherine and S.S. Antoinette, will feature the line's distinctive, rich design details, including original, hand-selected art, classic furnishings and antiques. The majority of the 75 lavishly appointed cabins measure 162 and 194 square feet. Maria Theresa will offer its 159 passengers sumptuous decor and a touch of luxury on its European itineraries. The 80 cabins range in size from 162 square feet at the smallest to more than 400 square feet for the single Royal Suite.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

CroisiEurope

Ship and Launch: Camargue, April 2015

The Lowdown: CroisiEurope's Camargue, a 148-passenger vessel based on the Rhone and Saone, is the smaller version of CroisiEurope's other three-deck European ships. However, instead of providing the same ratio of cabins in relation to the size, the line has reduced the number of staterooms on Camargue to provide more spacious public areas. There are 76 cabins, which are situated on the main and upper decks, and all have floor-to-ceiling picture windows. In addition to the two cabin decks, there's also a sun deck; other public areas include a panoramic lounge and bar.

Deployment: Rhone and Saone rivers

Gil Eanes

Ship and Launch: Gil Eanes, April 2015

The Lowdown: In April 2015, 142-passenger Gil Eanes will join three other CroisiEurope river vessels already sailing on Portugal's Douro. At 262 feet in length, Gil Eanes will be slightly larger than the existing ships -- Infante Don Henrique, Vasco de Gama and Fernao de Magalhaes -- which each measure 246 feet. It will have the same number of cabins, 71 in total, each measuring 129 square feet. They'll be divided between the upper, middle and main decks.

Deployment: Douro River

Ship and Launch: Loire Princess, April 2015

The Lowdown: In 2015, CroisiEurope will debut a new generation of paddleboat on the Loire. It will also be the first-ever overnight cruise vessel on the river. The 295-foot, 96-passenger ship has been designed for shallow waters with a small paddle wheel on the side that will help propel the vessel (as opposed to the large wheels on the sterns of traditional paddle steamers). Cabins on the ship's upper deck will have balconies measuring 10 feet by four feet each, and all cabins will have flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi access.

Deployment: Loire River

Luftner Cruises

Ship and Launch: Amadeus Silver II, April 2015

The Lowdown: Austrian-based Luftner Cruises' Amadeus Silver II will enter into service in April 2015, increasing the size of its fleet to a total of 12 vessels in Europe and two on the rivers of Southeast Asia. A new feature on the European ship is the River Terrace, which is an open-air space at the bow of the boat. Also new to the ship are 12 cabins with walk-out balconies. Silver II's 78 standard cabins measure 173 square feet. It also has 12 suites (258 square feet each), all located on Mozart Deck and all offering full balconies (27 square feet each).

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Riviera Travel

Ship and Launch: Charles Dickens, April 2015

The Lowdown: Riviera Travel, which operates river cruises throughout Europe and on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, will launch 140-passenger, 360-foot Charles Dickens on the Rhine in April. The ship boasts sustainably sourced tropical hardwoods and brass fittings in its 161-square-foot cabins and 245-square-foot suites with sliding-glass doors leading to each balcony. The other cabins on the upper and middle decks have French balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows where both panes of glass slide back over the outside of the ship to allow the whole window to open to the fresh air. Amenities include a fitness room, sauna and hair salon.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Jane Austen

Ship and Launch: Jane Austen, April 2015

The Lowdown: U.K.-based Riviera Travel's European fleet will grow to 10 vessels with the launch of sophisticated Jane Austen. The ship is owned and operated by Riviera's partner, Swiss-based Scylla AG, and has been designed to Riviera's requirements. Seventy cabins laid out over three decks range in size from 200 to 240 square feet. Jane Austen will cruise through the heart of Europe on a variety of itineraries on the Rhine, Moselle and Danube, carrying up to 140 passengers.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Scenic Tours

Ships and Launch: Scenic Jasper and Scenic Opal, April 2015

The Lowdown: Australian-owned Scenic Cruises is increasing its European fleet to ten vessels with the launch of two more 'Space Ship' class vessels, Scenic Opal and Scenic Jasper. Passengers can expect some design tweaks from earlier vessels, such as two pools: a splash pool and a resistance swimming pool. The 85 cabins on 169-passenger vessels range from 160-square-foot standard cabins with picture windows on the lower deck to the two 475-square-foot Royal Panorama Suites. Cabins located on the middle and upper decks have "Sun Lounge" balconies, where the top half of the floor-to-ceiling retractable window can be opened. Scenic Jasper and its sister vessel, Scenic Opal, will join Scenic Crystal, Jewel, Ruby, Pearl and Jade for itineraries on the Rhine River.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers

Viking River Cruises

Viking Skirnir

Ships and Launch: Viking Eir, Viking Gefjon, Viking Lofn, Viking Mani, Viking Mimir, Viking Modi, Viking Skirnir, Viking Ve, Viking Vidar, Viking Vili, Viking Astrild, Viking Beyla, Viking Mandalay and Viking Orient, 2015

The Lowdown: Continuing at its frenzied pace of building new ships, Viking River Cruises will launch another double-digit round of new ships in 2015. There will be 10 new Longship-class ships sailing on the Rhine, Main and Danube, two new similarly designed, but smaller, ships sailing on the Elbe and two new ships sailing in Burma. The same team -- Yran & Storbraaten -- designed all the ships, and the 12 ships sailing central Europe are nearly identical. Each Longship carries 190 passengers and offers five classes of cabins. Each suite features two rooms, with a French balcony off the bedroom and a full balcony off the living room. Onboard, passengers can hang out at the Aquavit Terrace, an indoor-outdoor space with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The pair of ships sailing the Elbe -- Astrild and Beyla -- carry only 98 passengers each, and they have different dimensions from the original Longships with a different layout. Viking Orient and Viking Mandalay -- the two ships sailing in Burma in Southeast Asia -- accommodate 60 passengers apiece in 168-square-foot staterooms decorated in the colonial style that's typical for river ships in the region.

Deployment: Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, Elbe River and Irrawaddy River

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