Sustainable Tourism & Cruising

Cruising is a booming market, which has weathered the recession and the stream of new ships very well. As the industry grows worries will develop about the islands and destinations the ship visit, and if they are being overwhelmed by a huge influx sometimes significantly bigger than the local population.

According to Wikipedia; Sustainable tourism is about making a low impact on the environment and local culture, but providing jobs for local people. Sustainable tourism is about providing a positive experience for all stakeholders, tour operators, locals, tourists and so on…

We at think this is only going to be coming increasingly important over the next few years, as people don’t want to go to destinations ruined by the commercialisation but experience truly different locations with interesting cultures and wonderful environments.

Cruise Lines have taken strong steps to improving their green credentials, and are making steps towards promoting sustainable tourism. Crystal Cruises ‘You Care, We Care’ Voluntourism series of excursions allow passengers to help local communities, such as in Antigua passengers can feed, walk and look after stray donkeys. Others include preparing winter items for low-income & homeless children as well as working in a kitchen to feed the homeless & less fortunate.

Windstar Cruises provided us with their Commitment to Environmental Protection document, this outlines what Windstar does to improve their procedures and practices to be an environmentally friendly business. A quick outline of the initiatives are:
– Each cruise has a senior crew member dedicated as Environmental Officer, whose job it is to preserve and protect the marine environment.
– Windstar recycles cooking oil from galleys and printer and photo cartridges
– Unlike any other cruise line Windstar can use the vessels sails to reduce fuel consumption, and will revise itineraries to reduce the use of fuel.
– Working with suppliers to reduce waste packaging.

Windstar isn’t alone in this as many cruise lines have similar policies to environmental protection. However during our research for this article we found that Uniworld River Cruises has invested a significant amount of time, money and effort to be a sustainable cruise operator.

Uniworld works with charities in the destinations it visits to support sustainable tourism, through protection of environments, and local community engagement, to the promotion of sustainable tourism as a tool for economic growth. See More Here:

The river cruise lines to appear to be ahead of the ocean cruise lines in sustainable tourism and environmental practices, Viking River Cruises hybrid Viking Legend is a perfect example (seen here)

Our next article, tomorrow, will look at the effect of Cruise Lines on the islands & destinations they visit. Check out our previous articles on Green Cruising & Vikings Hybrid Cruise Ship The EOSEAS Concept.

Do you think cruise lines can do more to promote sustainable tourism and environmental practices? Let us know, comment, email, facebook & twitter.

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Windstar Cruises –
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Green Cruising.

We have touched on the topic of ‘Green’ Cruising in our article on EOSEAS, the concept environmentally friendly cruise ship. See that article here (opens in a new window)
However when we did that article we were unaware that Viking River Cruises, seen here, actually operate two hybrid Diesel Electric river cruise vessels.

These ships, Viking Legend & Viking Prestige, run on diesel-electric propulsion this means that they use 20% less energy than comparative vessels. Which has a significant cost saving over the life of the vessel. Also due to the nature of these engines they vibrate less, offering a significantly quieter and more comfortable vessel. All this means the ship produces 20% fewer emissions. The ship also uses four propellers compared to the conventional two.

Many people argue that to be green you have to save more, and have less, however this diesel-electric propulsion is allowing for reduced energy costs, less emissions and a more comfortable journey.

In the ferry industry, It is our understanding that LNG is being used in the construction of ferries, as a way of saving money on fuel, rather than as a great environmental issue. We actually have very little knowledge about the ferry industry, but if you do know let us know too!

Now all we need is a cruise line to supersize this. Less Vibrations + Higher Profit + Fewer Emissions = Everyone’s a winner (except the fuel companies…they dont win)

We think that this hybrid type of vessel is interesting and the benefits are significant. We hope that more ships like this are built, it could even lead to cruise prices falling by 20%! That would be nice…but somehow doubtful!

This has made us wonder why no major ocean-going cruise line has committed to building a hybrid vessel, when the reduction in fuel usage would surely pay dividends, we can only think that this is because cruise lines the other cruise lines are behind the curve, however as the new Safe Return to Port legislation has meant that there will be lots of new designs, we expect that RCI’s Project Sunshine will incorporate some form of hybrid technology.
Check our blog here, about what we are expecting from Project Sunshine. The cruise industry is likely to wait and see how the commercial ferry operators & Viking River Cruises find operating an alternative fuel source vessel.

Also the lower pollution of these vessels will improve the case for cruising as ‘sustainable tourism’. At we think ‘sustainable tourism’ is set to play an important part in future cruise line practices as the industry grows. We will be developing the concept of sustainable tourism in our next blog. Remember to check our EOSEAS blog & River Cruising Blog to know more about river cruising and green ship technologies!

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Want to cruise with Mickey? Dream on.

The Magic Kingdom is having a great season on the high seas, with Disney Cruise Line posting excellent occupancy rates. The Orlando Sentinel has said that the new Disney Dream has been very popular with consumers showing an average occupancy of around 150%.

Occupancy is worked out on lower berths, so once children are added to a cabin, which Disney is a family cruise line, drastically increasing occupancy rates. While this is a good figure in itself it is also much higher than Carnival & Royal Caribbean achieve.

Cruise Radio ( recently pointed out that the Disney Dream is managing to charge very good rates, suggesting that you book early as the ship is quickly booking up. The current average nightly rate is $233, and the average balcony cabin is selling for 25% more than onboard Freedom of the Seas and 66% more than Carnival Dream, Surely Disney must be amazed with these results.

Before these vessels were launched the inside cabins, which have no windows or view, where boasted about by the magic portholes, which show a view of the sea outside with various Disney characters popping up every so often. This has allowed these cabins to achieve a rate 60% higher than those on Freedom of the Seas and 78% higher than those on Carnival Dream.

Disney Dream is the largest cruise ship ever built in Germany, built at Meyer Werft, as the first half of an order of two ships, the Dream & Fantasy are 40% larger than Disney’s two current ships Disney Wonder & Disney Magic. The line was launched in 1998 following the end of an agreement for Premier Cruise Lines to be Disney’s official cruise line.

The Disney Dream features an array of interesting features, with the AquaDuck, a water slide going around the top deck and it looks great.

While this ship seems set to become a great financial success for the line, we can only hope that this will lead to more Disney ships, with the fleet growing further when Disney Fantasy enters service next year. We think the Disney ships look great, with there two funnels and modern twist on a traditional design they are instantly recognisable. We do however need them operating out of Nice or Barcelona so we can spend four days in Paris followed by a week cruising the Med, every week. 😀

It has also been reported that the Dream has re-invigorated demand for the older Disney Dream & Wonder, With Disney Wonder having been moved to the West Coast of America.

While Disney is a family cruise line it also has a significant amount of adult only areas, allowing you to escape the kids for a while. While we havent yet been on a Disney Cruise we do think it is a must do, if Disney does cruising as well as it does theme parks is set to be a great time.

Have you been on a Disney Cruise, Let us know what you think! Comment, Email, Facebook & Twitter!
Liam Kinsella
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Empty Ships: Aquarama & SS United States

Recently we have been mesmerised by the story of some ships which spend a large part of their life laid up and empty, so we are going to have a look at two ships, the United States and SS Aquarama which have interesting stories to tell.

SS United States

America’s flag-ship is by far the most well-known ‘Empty Ship’ having been in lay up for over 40 years, She is still the worlds fastest liner, and is now in the ownership of  SS United States Conservancy who have an ambition of developing the vessel for future use, and are currently working with key regional partners to develop their plans.

The United States was built for United States Lines in 1950 entering service in 1952, she quickly claimed the Blue Riband for the fastest ship on the Atlantic, but the Airplane was set to take over, and transatlantic passenger shipping quickly disintegrated, once the subsidy was pulled the ship was laid up.

In 1979 Norwegian Cruise Line investigated a purchase of the vessel, but instead opted for the SS France. In 1994 she was towed to Turkey and the Ukraine for Asbestos removal, before returning to Philadelphia where she has laid up ever since.

Having been laid up for such a significant part of its life, the exterior of this ship is now a period piece showcasing transatlantic ship design of the 1950’s, and America’s greatest passenger vessel. We hope that the ship will see successful future use.  Liner Lovers recently did a blog on the Conversion of the SS Rotterdam, which higlights some of the problems of static ships: (Check it out here)

SS Aquarama

The Aquarama is a ship that fires our imagination, it looked amazingly retro, yet only served in a short amount of service. No ship looks like this one, yes the bridge is in the dummy funnel, and unfortunately the operational history made her rather ‘white elephant’ for the owners.

If Aquarama was light, and high in the water, she was known for causing large wakes, one which nearly pulled a young girl out into the water, She was given the nick-name Crusharama due to hitting several dockside’s and generally being a hard ship to steer due to her single propeller.

Originally built in 1945 as a World War troop ship, she was converted at a cost of $8 Million to a cruise ship, painted green she operated on a run around the Great Lakes. However being taken out of service in 1962 this ship has been wondering empty berths in lay up, with various schemes and plans considered, non came to fruition. However in 2007 it was towed to Turkey for scrap, a sad end for a ship which spent so little of its life in service, but an interesting vessel non the less.

We believe that a cruise ship of similar size, with balconies would be a success on the great lakes, with an Itinerary of sailing all around the lakes, It’s something we would love to do!

Do you have any ‘Empty Ships’ near you, let us know: Comment below, Email, Twitter & Facebook! Don’t forget to check our other Articles 😀

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– Pictures from a Ghost Hunt – Inside Aquarama

– SS United States

A Life on the Ocean Waves

A life at sea is something which has tempted many a sailor in to the maritime industry, now there are several plans to launch floating communities. As every other blog is full or NCL’s stock market listing and Royal Caribbean’s ‘Royal Advantage’ refurbishment program (which we covered here), we thought we would do something different!

In 2002 ResidenSea launched The World, the first ocean-going community, the ship cruises the world and spends longer in ports. The ship has all the main functions of a cruise ship, with five restaurants, movie theatre, grocery store, casino, putting green, and library, the ships cabins benefit from private kitchen facilities. The World’s capacity varies from 100 to 300 passengers due to the residents having guests. The ship is 196 meters long and 30 meters wide, being 12 decks high, there is 250 crew members onboard.

The ship has not however been the great success that was hoped for, with disputes between the vessel management company and the residents and sales of the residences on the ship have fallen, due to worries about fuel prices, terrorism and the economy in general.

This however has not stopped rivals organisations trying to build similar vessels, the cruise ship Magellan and Utopia are two of the most developed projects. However Magellan appears to have stalled and the website has been taken down, if constructed Magellan would have been almost twice the size of ‘The World’.

Utopia is planned to be a Hybrid cruise ship/floating community with the ship having cabins targeted at the traditional cruise market, this keeps restaurants busy and stops the ship from appearing to be a ghost ship. It is planned to be built in South Korea.

In addition there has been the suggestion that a cruise ship could be converted for the elderly as a retirement residence. The American Classic Voyages, which collapsed after 9/11, the Cape May Light and Cape Cod Light, which have been laid up for several years following the bankruptcy of AMCV, a business case is being developed for the conversion.

There is of course the required ‘Pie-in-the-sky’ scheme, which in our case is the Freedom ship, development of the project started in the 1990’s, and calls for a ship over 1300 meters long, with an airstrip on the top deck, and accommodation for 50,000 people.

The ship would be three times larger than anything to have ever sailed the seas before.
The ship would be composed of several floating barges as the stresses would cause the ship to break up if constructed conventionally. Initially the ‘in service’ date was intended to be 2001, however no construction has started.

We think river cruise ships would actually provide interesting floating homes due to the smaller size, and the lower start-up cost, especially the new Viking longships project vessels. (Check out our blog on River Cruises & the Viking Longships project)

So would you live at sea? Let us know Email, Comment, Facebook & Twitter.

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Linked Articles
Our Guide to the Future of River Cruising
Royal Caribbean’s Royal Advantage Program

The Rise and Fall of : Regency Cruises

We’re going to be doing a series of blogs titled ‘The Rise and Fall of : …’. These will investigate the business decisions and influences that caused some cruise businesses to end services. Our intentions are to run an article on each of the on the following: Regency Cruises, First European/Festival Cruises & Royal Olympic Cruises and of course Premier Cruises. We hope you enjoy them and if you have anything to say about any of the above get in contact with us:, Comment below or Facebook or Twitter.


Regency Cruises was found in 1984 with the Regent Sea (Get the terrible pun?) by two former directors of Paquet Line. The original business plan called for former ocean liners converted for cruising with the aim of running these cruises offering first class service, comparable of the ‘golden age of sea travel’. The company was shown to have a very successful first season, after which ownership reverted to The Lelakis Group, who were the owner of the vessel, from then on in the cruise line quickly developed adding Regent Star in 1986 and Regent Sun 1987.

It is discussed on cruise message boards across the internet that under Lelakis the Regency Cruise product was changed, with an emphasis on costs the product was evolved into that of a budget cruise line, with Regency’s previously high standards said to dropped significantly during this time

The same message boards play host to comments about the impending collapse of the cruise line. It is reported that the Captain of the Regent Star sent a Telex, remember this is before emails and the internet, saying ‘We were just arrested by the French authorities. Now what?‘, Interestingly by the time the Regent Star finished the cruise the Line had entered bankruptcy, and an agent for the bank had to assist passengers getting home.

Another makes a comment about a cruise on the Regent Star, and how a few months before bankruptcy they had been told by the cruise director that they would not be able to transit the Panama Canal, in the eventuality they did manage to transit the canal, the likely reason for this being problems paying the canal fees.

Devils on the Deep Blue Sea, one of our favourite books says that the cruise line was spectacular at staying operating in its final days, When the toilets broke on Regent Sun, were most lines would have cancelled the cruise, Regency just provided several portable toilets, which were loaded onto the aft deck. Also when the air-conditioning system failed on the same ship, it was not repaired just lied about. Embarking Passengers who questioned about the heat were advised it was due to the holds in the vessel being opened during changeover day an that once the vessel was underway the vessel would cool down as the air-conditioning would kick in, of course not being true, it didn’t work, but what where they going to do, jump overboard?

The same book says that when a vessel was arrested on behalf of a creditor by the Honduran authorities the hotel manager offered a lifeboat and a room steward as collateral to continue the cruise.

The day before Halloween the company finally collapsed, in the words of the trade press the company had ‘Abandoned its ships as sea, turned on its answering machines at its New York head office and left several hundred passengers to fend for themselves.’

In total around 30,000 passengers joined the list of creditors to reclaim the money against the line. Staff had been unpaid for weeks, and following the bankruptcy where left stranded around the world on empty cruise ships, the staff sold televisions and other fixtures onboard to make money to buy food, the ships safes where quickly emptied to buy food for the struggling employees.

There are numerous reasons for the collapse, but the cruise line had grown quickly in its final years and competition had increased, the low-cost value nature of the product, as well as operating older vessels left the company at a disadvantage, the cost of keeping the vessels operating in line with SOLAS guidelines was huge.

By the time of collapse the line had grown to seven ships; Regent Star, Regent Sea, Regent Sun, Regent Jewel, Regent Spirit, Regent Rainbow, with the Regent Sky under construction, upon the collapse the shipyard stopped work and the ship is currently still awaiting to be finished. A few of the ships saw service again:
– Regent Jewel as Calypso for Louis Cruises
– Regent Spirit saw service as Salamis Glory
– Regent Rainbow as the Emerald for Louis Cruises & Thomson Cruises
The rest of the fleet either sunk or was scrapped.

We hope you enjoyed that, And if you have anything to add let us know, Facebook , twitter, comment below or email us, we would love to hear from you!

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Out with the old and….In with the refurbished?

As the Global Economy has stalled, cruise line have worked hard to keep vessels full, and weather the storm. Carnival axed its dividend…Royal Caribbean …er… got the Worlds two largest cruise ships drastically increasing capacity… okay, bad example. (We have a blog for that)

But as the growth of the industry has created a market of ‘large players’ namely Carnival, NCL/Apollo/Star, Royal Caribbean and MSC. The number of smaller-medium sized players have disappeared. This has been great as it has stabilised prices (as these smaller lines where heavy discounters). However the large players used the smaller players to dispose of excess capacity, such as the Song of Norway-era vessels.

However in the late 90’s and early 2000’s Festival, Royal Olympic, Regency, Premier and American Classic Voyages all collapsed into bankruptcy. These are the companies who would have purchased the excess capacity from the growing lines.

This has meant that lines have had to place tonnage elsewhere, the easy card has always been Australia, Asia and Europe. Pullmantur has seen a series of transfers from Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Ibero Cruceros, Carnival’s Spanish brand, has seen a few vessels transferred from Carnival Cruise Lines, as they are no longer competitive in the Caribbean.
Once the worlds largest cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas has been sent to Asia in search of higher yields. (We have a blog for that too!)

The Norwegian Dawn has become the unwanted cruise ship, at an inappropriate age that no cruise market wants her, she has been idle for a few years now and is in ownership of Star Cruises.

Recently this has meant that cruise ships are having expensive ‘refreshment’ programs, keeping them up to date with the other vessels in the fleet. Royal Caribbean has launched a $300 Million refreshment of its fleet bringing aspects from the Oasis class across the fleet, this is widely covered on other websites and blogs, Royal Caribbean is calling it the Royal Advantage program. Interestingly Monarch & Majesty of the Seas are not on the refurbishment list, We expect them to join one of RCI’s other brands.

Carnival has been refurbishing the Carnival Fantasy ships, adding amazing water parks to the ships. Other lines have also been engaged in this such as Celebrity following the arrival of Solstice, and Holland America performed a ‘Signature of Excellence’ refurbishment across the fleet to standardise the product.

So cruise lines are having to keep hold of ships longer, and refurbish them to maintain standards and expectations across the brand, this is due to variety of reasons namely:
– Few middle tier players to sell to (Louis being the main)
Over capacity in the Med, leading to falling yield

But we are hearing great reviews following the refreshment of these ships such as Radiance of the Seas and Grand Princess. So long may it continue.

Please comment, email, follow us on Facebook and twitter! You can keep upto date with all are goings on!

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What is so great about No-Fly Cruising?

Well its obvious, isn’t it? No Airplane, no flights, no airports. Now we are fans of avoiding the Airport, The queues, the shops, the gates, the lighting, na… We would rather not go to the Airport.

This appears however to be the view of an increasing amount of cruisers, while this has been popular in the States for some time, the European market has been slow to follow, however in the past few years ‘ex-UK’ or ‘No-Fly Cruising’ has taken off, with 40 ships operating from the UK on a total of 506 cruises during 2011. It is also our understanding that 40% of UK cruise passengers sail on a no-fly cruise.

This rapid growth in cruising from the UK has meant that UK ports have been working hard to develop facilities for the ships, with Southampton adding to its five cruise terminals, and Portsmouth opening a new one, as well as ongoing problems regarding Liverpool’s Cruise terminal (check our previous article).

Southampton leads the way with 65% of all cruise departures from the UK, Royal Caribbean, P&O, MSC and Cunard all depart from here. The UK is perfectly positioned to operate cruises to Northern Europe, in the Norwegian Fjords, and to the Med, Across the Atlantic, or round the British Isles. We recently visited the MSC Opera which is currently operating out of Southampton (Check out our Ship Visit Article). RCI’s huge Independence of the Sea’s has also been operating out of Southampton.

However the only drawback from an Ex-UK cruise is that it can take a long time (2/3 Days) for a Cruise ship to arrive in warmer climates, which for those who cruise to the sun, and be a large portion of their holiday. We think the strength of these no-fly cruises will benefit those who don’t like flying, we recently recommended this to a friend who hates flying. Also For Northern European Cruises to Amsterdam, Denmark and the Baltic, what better place to start your cruise.

With the rapid increase in fuel prices expected to continue, airfares are only expected to keep rising too, So we expect to see the growth of No-Fly Cruising to continue. This is also the belief of the Cruise Lines, who have home-ported more vessels in the UK than ever before.

If you are considering a No-Fly Cruise, there is a free book which may interest you available from, this is free and we have our own copy, very useful when making this article and suggesting possible cruises to people.

Let us know what you think! Comment, Facebook, Twitter and Email

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Liverpool Cruise Terminal Woes
MSC Opera Ship Visit in Southampton


Our Project Sunshine

Royal Caribbean is planning new ships, slightly larger than the Freedom class, but smaller than the Oasis class. Royal Caribbean is like Apple, and is amazing at keeping ship under wraps. So we have to guess, and this is what we think will happen.

Now if we were Royal Caribbean we would be building this new ship in the style of the Oasis class, the media and the public have fell in love with these ships. They love how amazing the split superstructure allows inside facing balconies and the feel of Central Park and the Boardwalk. So we believe that the split superstructure will be a feature, this is set to become a Royal Caribbean signature just like the Viking Crown lounge was and now the Royal Promanarde.

However due the constraints of shipbuilding at Meyer Werft we do believe that the cabins on these vessels will be rearranged, just like Viking River has done with the new Viking longships (check our previous article). The below picture shows how much space the ships have to fit through.

The codename ‘Project Sunshine’ is of interest as we think this means the vessels will, unlike the Oasis class, be suitable for use worldwide.  We’re expecting thats the ‘Central Park/Boardwalk’ area to have a glass roof, which can open and close, allowing the vessels greater flexibility. If you remember Royal Caribbean didnt stop in Southampton to show off the Oasis or Allure as the outside areas look rubish in the rain.

Meyer Werft and Royal Caribbean are expected to promote the vessels green credentials, this could mean LPG and other technologies currently envisioned in concept cruise ship EOSEAS (another previous blog). Like fleetmates Oasis and Allure the ship is expected to use solar energy.

We expect in general that the Project Sunshine ships will be slightly scaled down versions of the Oasis class, with the ability to be operated in both the Med and Caribbean. Other are however expecting the ship to be an evolved Celebrity Solstice-class ship, for which we have a picture for. (if you click on it, it gets bigger).

We hope it doesnt end up as a Solstice class ship, as I would love to see the features from Oasis and Allure in this new vessel, but until Royal Caribbean tells us we wont know!

So what are your expectations of Project Sunshine? Let us know Facebook, Twitter, Comment and Email.

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River Cruising

Aside from the disastrously boring title of this post, and the fact instead of ‘three a week/two if slow’ policy on blogs I have been busy (and hurt my finger) so this week is a pretty bad week. I do hope this interests you however.

I think River Cruising is going to be huge, I have a feeling that it’s just like cruising in the 80’s on the verge of explosion. i believe four main ponts are causing this growth, The new ships coming on stream, the development of industry brands, the international possibilities of a river cruise and the changing demographics of the population.

Several new river cruise vessels are being delivered this year, however the new ‘Viking Longships’ project by Viking River Cruises has interested me most. These vessels where pointed out to me in an excellent #cruisechat on twitter (it happens at 7pm GMT every Tuesday, just search #cruisechat!). These vessels look great, they are very modern river cruise ships with full balconies (most have french balconies).  An excellent interiors (below)

These ships have taken River Cruising to the next level, in the way Grand Princess was so different to anything before, I believe these ships will change the idea of River cruising for many, as they look like floating boutique hotels. Four are planned for delivery in 2012. They also have a great luxury pedigree having been designed by Yran & Storbraaten, who have previously designed for Seabourn.

The largest river cruise operator is Viking River Cruises, they started in 1997 and have, in that short time grew to a fleet of 19 ships. I believe it is the growth of the companies, including tauck, Ama waterways and a few others which due to investment in the product, and marketing will allow a huge growth in the market. Viking is clearly committed with a huge new building order book. Interestingly the opposite appears to be happening in the Ocean Cruise market, with the lines having slowed growth from the speed of the mid 2000’s.

There has been an amazing growth in international markets with the opening up of china allowing a development of river cruising there. In addition river cruises have been operating on the Nile, in Spain and Portugal as well as Russia and traditional northern european rivers like the Rhine and Seine.

Also with an aging population, who doesn’t like to been seen as aging, the baby boomers as they are known, don’t want to sit back and relax, however as with old age mobility can be limited and the smaller vessels with the luxuries as well as the different ports everyday will appeal to them. You only have to unpack once.

Have you been on a river cruise? What do you think of the new ships?
Let us know! Comment, Email, Facebook & Twitter

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Cruise Log New Vessels for 2011 Guide

Viking River Cruises New Longships