So you loved that river cruise but your one thought at the end of a hot day’s touring as you returned to your floating home was, “Hmm, this ship could really do with a pool.”
River cruising companies have read that thought bubble and in their bids to make their offerings stand out in a burgeoning market, an increasing number have added spots for a dip to their vessels, especially those in the waterways of warm-climate destinations.
Oftentimes, they’re not much more than a plunge pool or hot tub. That’s not due to the company itself being stingy – river cruise vessels are narrow and plough relatively shallow waters. The mechanics of adding cruise ship-sized swimming pools are complex.
APT has raised the bar though – quite literally – and a new river cruising ship under its banner will have the largest swimming pool of any. In fact, APT’s two new custom-designed and built river vessels feature sun decks with yes, bars, plus plants, lounges and sizable swimming pools each measuring 3 metres by 5.7 metres.
And their design has been specifically tailored to the needs and wants of Australian travellers. The luxurious, 88-passenger Mekong Serenity has just launched in the Mekong and is merrily rolling along on Vietnam and Cambodia itineraries.
And next year, the similarly sumptuous 114-passenger MS Estrela will launch in Portugal’s Douro River.
APT, in the travel business for 97 years and the company that introduced Australians and New Zealanders to European river cruising in the mid-2000s, has, as David Cox, APT Travel Group chief executive says, “helped thousands of Aussies see the world from the world’s most famous waterways ranging from the Danube to the Nile to the Mekong. We now operate on 14 rivers around the globe.”
“It’s that idea of a ‘floating hotel’ that avid travellers love. Also, sailing through key villages and cities with memorable stops along the way is one of the great appeals of river cruising,” Cox says.
He says there is a significant surge in popularity among Australian customers interested in Vietnam and Portugal. Indeed, both these countries are showing extraordinary growth in visitation generally.
Mekong Serenity and MS Estrela are a result of this, combined with APT’s aim of “... creating the most luxurious ships plying the river ways of Vietnam and Portugal. With both these ships we are now without doubt the premium cruise operator in both these countries.”
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