The popularity of European river cruises continues to rise amongst New Zealand travellers. The cruise industry body Cruise Lines International Association - Australasia recently reported in its Cruise Industry Source Market Report for 2014 that in New Zealand:
River cruising’s rise continued unabated with passenger numbers increasing 31.2 per cent to pass the 5000 mark for the first time.
One river cruise line that has made a signficant impact on the New Zealand cruise market is APT (also known as APTouring or Australia Pacific Touring) with its APT and Travelmarvel cruise brands. An APT river cruise can be an event itself - the centre piece of your European holiday - or it can form part of a larger itinerary that includes an ocean cruise, coach tour and more (APT now has a growing presence in small ship cruises in Europe).
1. What Makes APT European River Cruises So Popular?
For river cruises in Europe, APT is popular for a number of reasons:
- All inclusive itineraries - you know how much you are going to spend on the major elements of your river cruise before you leave New Zealand.
- Sought after cruise itineraries including Rhine river cruises, Rhone river cruises and Danube River cruises
- Beautifully appointed luxury river cruise ships.
- Exceptional shore excursions that are once in a life time opportunities.
The fact that APT river cruise itineraries are all inclusive is a significant bonus for many travellers from New Zealand. The comfort of knowing upfront what is included and how much you have to spend to get it, makes the rest of the journey more enjoyable (and budgeting easier). APT often runs special offers that include airfares to Europe as well.
2. What are APT's European river cruise ships like?
The APT fleet includes three classes of ship:
- Aria River Cruise Ships - Rhine, Rhône, Main, Danube, Moselle, Seine, Saône and Garonne River
- Concerto River Cruise Ships: Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle Rive
- MS Amavida Douro River (Portugal)
As a luxury river cruise line, each ship is of the highest quality and each class of ship has special features including:
- Aria River Ships boast a genuinely warm onboard atmosphere due to their boutique size, low number of guests and high number of staff.
- Concerto River Ships are the only ships in Europe that present Twin Balcony Suites, featuring a large Outside Balcony and a Panoramic Balcony
For more information on the APT river ship on a particular APT itinerary, you can select the "ship" tab on any of the APT Europe river cruise itineraries on the Fine Travel website.
3. What do you mean by "Exceptional Shore Excursions"?
APT has established Royal Invitation Shore Excursions which are available on select itineraries. The Royal Invitation Shore Excursions are:
- The Majestic Imperator - Recreated based on the original designs of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Sisi’s royal train, the Majestic Imperator offers a rare glimpse into the sheer decadence of imperial rail travel. Spend a day discovering the idyllic scenery of Austria and Germany, with a stop in Salzburg. While aboard, enjoy drinks, hors d’oeuvres, musical performances and a unique atmosphere.
- Namedy Castle - Discover where royalty rests its head as Princess Heide von Hohenzollern welcomes you into her home, Namedy Castle. As a guest of honour, you’re granted the freedom to wander about the castle at your leisure, followed by a Champagne Reception and an indulgent banquet dinner.
- City Palace in Vienna - Delight in an exclusive Cocktail Reception and a private concert at Vienna's unforgettable City Palace. Enjoy an orchestral performance of classical masterpieces by Strauss; angelic music from members of the acclaimed Mozart Boys’ Choir; and a breathtaking operatic recital.
The itineraries around these shore excursions are truly spectacular (and will be the subject of an upcoming blog). Be sure to contact us for a copy of the itineraries.
4. When is the best time to book my APT river cruise?
This can be a tricky question and often depends on your circumstances.
APT release "SuperDeal" specials which provide very attractive Earlybird offers. APT releases "Fly Free" special offers and deals (or sometimes a credit towards your airfare) which are always eye catching. This offer ties in with the all inclusive nature of the APT river cruises and the flights are generally with premium airlines (often Singapore Airlines or Emirates).
Taking advantage of an Earlybird offer provides you with a greater chance of securing the cruise itinerary and the cabin / suite that you want before it sells out. The earlier you book the more chance you have to get exactly what you require. Importantly, you generally only have to pay a deposit at that time too - not the entire cost of the cruise. The longer you wait the greater chance you will have to pay more for a higher cabin / suite category.
If you are willing to be flexible you may be able to benefit from last minute river cruise deals. There is no guarantee that APT will release last minute deals - or that they will come out for the river cruise itinerary you want - but last minute deals can include significant discounts.
5. Which APT European River Cruise itineraries are the best?
APT has a vast range of river cruise itineraries (and not just in Europe). Three of the more sought after European river cruise itineraries are:
- Magnificent Europe - Amsterdam to Budapest
- Bordeaux and Rhone - Paris to Paris
- Rhine, Rhone & Moselle - Amsterdam to Arles
Often these river cruises are covered by APT SuperDeal specials, so be sure to sign up for our cruise sales alerts.
With the growth in European river cruising and the importance of making such an significant journey as memorable as possible, it is reassuring to be able to rely on luxury river cruise lines like APT. Through APT's all inclusive cruise offering, its luxury river cruise fleet and exceptional shore excursions APT popularity is unquestioned.