A Guide to New and Refurbished Riverboats for 2019 and Beyond

Uniworld is launching the Mekong Jewel in 2020.
Credit: 2019 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Only shortly after four cruise lines revealed upcoming and new riverboats do we have even more to look forward to in 2019 and beyond. From Avalon Waterways to Viking, fresh fleets are the way of the future. That translates into more berths and more chances to book clients on their preferred brands.

Here is what to expect by cruise line.

Besides the upcoming Avalon Envision in April 2019, Avalon Waterways will launch the new Avalon View in 2020. It will count as the line’s 14th Suite Ship in Europe and 17th internationally, exhibiting the line’s Panorama Suites. The signature accommodations have scenic beds facing windows that open into balconies. While the Envision is slated for the Danube River, the Vision will sail the Rhine River. Guests will find two 300-square-foot Royal Suites, sixty-five 200-square-foot Panorama Suites and sixteen 170-square-foot staterooms on each ship.


European Waterways
In anticipation of this year’s hotel barging season, European Waterways is investing more than $500,000 on a fleet-wide refurbishment. Enhancements will include updated cabins on L’Impressionniste and en suite bathrooms onboard Spirit of Scotland, Scottish Highlander and Finesse. Enchante will also sport a new built-in saloon bar, and La Bella Vita will showcase a new spa pool. Plus, updated soft furnishings and upgraded lighting and sound systems are coming to other ships.


Riviera River Cruises
Spring 2019 will see the launch of Riviera River Cruises’ two newest ships: the George Eliot and the William Wordsworth. The 361-foot George Eliot is slated to begin embarkation on April 4 with cabin and suite accommodations, and the all-suite, 443-foot William Wordsworth is scheduled to set sail on April 5. Shared amenities encompass a panoramic observation lounge, a main dining room, The Bistro secondary restaurant, a wellness area, a boutique and a sun deck. The larger William Wordsworth adds a fitness center and spa.

George Eliot and its 70 staterooms will first cruise the Amsterdam, Kinderdijk and the Dutch Bulbfields itinerary, sailing mostly on the Rhine, and the William Wordsworth and its 88 suites will operate only on the Danube.


The Douro River in Portugal proves to be ever popular as Tauck is set to launch its very first sailings on the waterway in spring 2020. The Andorinha will be a purpose-built vessel that will comfortably carry only 84 guests on three itineraries. Fewer passengers will have private suites and public venues to enjoy, all serviced by 36 crew including a Tauck cruise director and a trio of Tauck director guides.

Scylla AG is designing and building the ship for Tauck via Vahali Shipyard in Serbia and Hardinxveld in the Netherlands. It will highlight a number of as-yet-undisclosed unique features plus a Panorama Lounge, Compass Rose fine restaurant and Arthur’s secondary dining room. A total of 42 cabins will range in size from 150 to 300 square feet.

Its three routes will encompass an eight-day cruise-only option, an eight-day Tauck Bridges sailing for families and a 12-day opportunity that bookends a seven-night Douro voyage with two-night hotel visits in Lisbon and Madrid.


Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Also detailing its offerings for 2020 is Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection with four new ships set to come online along the Douro, Mekong and Nile rivers as well as the Venetian Lagoon.

First up, the Satet will grace Egypt with its presence come Jan. 6, 2020. Featured onboard will be three dining venues, a swimming pool, a massage room and 42 suites. The vessel will embark 12-day voyages roundtrip from Cairo.

The Sao Gabriel will journey through Portugal starting on March 26, 2020. Highlights will include suites serviced by butlers and meals sourced locally. The route will follow the UNESCO-designated Douro River Valley.

Meanwhile, La Venezia in Venice will be the redesigned River Countess remade as a Super Ship by March 27, 2020. Following a complete refurbishment, the vessel will traverse Northern Italy on a 10-day itinerary comprising a two-day land stay in Milan followed by an eight-day cruise, which is also available as a standalone option.

Lastly, the Mekong Jewel will discover Vietnam and Cambodia starting from Jan. 3, 2020. The all-suite vessel will showcase a duet of restaurants plus an indoor swimming pool. The spacious ship will measure in 33 feet longer than the Mekong Navigator, sailing on 13-day journeys from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap while sharing the same capacity.


Viking will continue its fleet expansion in 2019 with another six signature Viking Longships and one smaller variety. The half dozen will head out on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, and the seventh will sail the Douro.