This year is proving to be a huge river cruising season for luxury lines APT and AmaWaterways. Along with a range of new itineraries and offerings on the current fleet, they're also welcoming the debut of two new state-of-the-art vessels.
MS AmaStella and sister ship MS AmaViola will both be cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, ticking off a range of exciting destinations and experiences along the way.
Here are eight reasons to get excited for this new breed of river cruising.
1. Double Balconies
Despite being able to carry 158 passengers, both AmaStella and AmaViola boast twin balconies in most staterooms. A charming French balcony and a more private outdoor sitting area are available for unwinding.
2. Free Bicycles
APT's two new vessels make it easier to explore the various port cities and towns thanks to one invaluable inclusion: bikes. Guests are now able venture out on two wheels at no extra cost, enjoying the beautiful riverside bike paths and sights. Guided bike tours are also available.
3. Private Chef
Along with the delicious meals available in the main dining room, both ships feature the Chef's Table restaurant. Enjoy impeccable wait service, wine from the local region and gourmet meals prepared by your own private chef.
4. Personalised Small Group Tours
There's nothing worse than feeling like you're being hurried through your holiday. While cruising on AmaStella or AmaViola you're able to join a group tour to suit your pace.
These complimentary walking excursions are led by local guides and come in three styles: Gentle Walkers for the leisurely types; Active Walkers for those with a bit more leg; and Late Starter if you treasure your sleep.
More APT river cruising inspiration
5. Swim-Up Bar
The size of the ships allows for even more on-board entertainment areas. You'll be able to select from a heated pool with 'swim-up' bar, gym, walking track, massage and hair salon, lounge with piano bar, and sun decks on which to kick back and admire the view.
6. Themed Itineraries
Accompanying the regular journeys are multiple themed cruises set around specific times throughout the year.
In 2016, both ships will be embarking on a Christmas Market-focused trip that includes Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. AmaViola will also offer a wine-themed cruise with complimentary tastings, lectures and special events. AmaStella will follow the same path in 2017.
7. Spacious Living
The four suites on board each ship are a rarity for river cruising, offering an abundance of space with more than 32 square metres of room.
It's been used well too. Each suite includes a large double bed, two balconies, en suite with shower and bathtub, and living area with flat-screen television.
8. Free Internet
Although complimentary internet is slowly becoming a norm with cruising vessels, too many still continue to charge for connectivity.
Not river cruising's two newest ships. Both are fitted with in-room computers that grant convenient and free access to internet. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the ships.