River cruising is the best and most comfortable way to experience all that Europe has to offer, and it is also ideal for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) planners seeking new, off-the-beaten-track itineraries for their groups, according to Henry Yu, manager for Asia, Uniworld, a luxury river cruise line.
Yu says river cruising is highly suitable for incentive and corporate groups because of the consistency in accommodation, food and beverage quality; and because cruise pricing is all-inclusive, there are no additional costs. Guests can stay together in the same cabins when visiting multiple cities during the journey, and there is no need to change hotels or arrange transfers between different cities. They are also presented with plenty of opportunities to sample the local cuisines.
Uniworld’s ships offer various meeting venues to accommodate different needs and purposes. The ship’s staff can arrange meeting amenities for the group. After meetings, guests can relax and mingle with their colleagues at the lounge and bar on board. Using the free Wi-fi on board, guests can stay connected throughout the voyage.
Yu says Uniworld’s river cruises allow guests to step back in time and explore some of Europe’s history and legends. For instance, the new 10-day Highlights of Eastern Europe tour sails through Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Hungary and starts or ends in Budapest or Bucharest. Guests can tour Belgrade by bicycle, marvel at the massive People’s Palace in Bucharest, or see Vlad the Impaler’s tomb in the Romanian countryside. They can also visit scenic towns like Arbanassi and the Unesco World Heritage site Ivanovo in Bulgaria.
In April, Uniworld adds the S.S. Beatrice – formerly named the River Beatrice – to its fleet, especially for its European river cruises. The luxury “Super Ship” features a redesigned lounge and an elegant grand staircase. All public spaces and rooms have been redesigned with original artwork, and incorporate the latest innovations and hi-tech amenities. Additional dining venues include a private space, two new Royal Suites measuring 35 square metres each, and an Owner’s Suite. The ship’s 12 existing suites have been refreshed, and connecting rooms have been added for families travelling together.
AmaWaterways, another river cruise specialist, is launching a new 154-guest European ship – the AmaLea – in May in Germany. According to the company, the ship boasts the most advanced design of any river cruise vessel in operation. It features the line’s exclusive Twin Balconies in most staterooms. It also has four suites, interconnecting staterooms and triple occupancy staterooms designed for families. Guests can enjoy gourmet dining on board with free-flowing wines at multiple venues, a heated sun deck swimming pool with a swim-up bar, a fitness centre and spa, and free Wi-fi.
AmaLea starts her inaugural season with a series of six Tulip Time cruises from Amsterdam, before hosting seven-night cruises on the River Danube between Vilshofen and Budapest, with optional three-night pre- or post-cruise land programmes offered in Munich and Prague. The 2018 season ends with four Christmas Market cruises on the Danube.