New River Cruises Are Setting Sail in Europe, Egypt, and the U.S. This Year

From family-friendly Nile sailings and ultra-luxurious Danube cruises to a Black history-focused journey on the Rhone and an exploration of Northern California’s Napa Valley, these are the new river cruise experiences to book in 2023.

Historia luxury river cruise ship on the Nile

Sail the Nile with new Egyptian luxury cruise operator Historia.

Photo by George Fawzi/Historia Boutique Hotel Nile Cruises

There are cruises and then there are river cruises—small-ship sailings along inland waterways that amble from one city to the next, allowing passengers to take in the sights as the riverbanks roll by. If this is a style of travel you have been dreaming about, now is as good a time as any to start considering where a river cruise might take you in 2023.

New itineraries, destinations, and ships launching this year aim to provide travelers with even more ways to slow down on a more immersive vacation experience sailing on rivers from the world-famous (hello, Danube and Nile) to those less traveled (San Joaquin River, anyone?).

From off-the-beaten-path destinations to classic routes with a cultural twist, here are a few new river cruises launching this year to consider booking for your next vacation.

New cruises on Egypt’s Nile River

A rendering of the <i>Viking Aton</i>, which sets sail in Egypt this August.

A rendering of the Viking Aton, which sets sail in Egypt this August.

Courtesy of Viking River Cruises

Egypt has seen a fresh batch of new river cruises along the antiquities-rich Nile River. Viking, for instance, is growing its fleet of ships on the Nile this year with the launch of the Viking Aton in August. The 82-guest vessel will join its sister ship, Viking Osiris, sailing the company’s 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary. Visiting Egypt’s famed UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Pyramids of Giza and historic Cairo will naturally be included, but guests will also have the option to extend their stays before or after their cruises for a deeper dive into nearby destinations. You can book an extra four nights on a precruise land tour of Jerusalem or a postcruise tour of Jordan with visits to Petra, the Dead Sea, and Amman. Cruise prices start at $6,499 per person, with extension packages starting at $2,199.

Luxor-based Historia Boutique Hotel Nile Cruises is the newest river cruise company to enter the Egyptian market, focusing its sailings on the route between Luxor and Aswan. The company currently offers four itineraries ranging from three- and seven-night sailings on the 36-cabin Historia, a luxury cruise ship styled after a boutique hotel experience complete with a gym, spa, sun deck, and a pool. Each cruise visits the Valley of the Kings and a number of temples, including Luxor and Karnak. Departures occur on Mondays and Fridays, so guests can choose a full week stay or opt for a short weekend getaway. Rates range between $374 per night for a twin bed cabin and $1,414 per night for a royal suite.

Ultimate luxury is back on Europe’s rivers

The former <i>Crystal Mozart</i> super-luxe river cruise ship has been reborn as the <i>Riverside Mozart</i>.

The former Crystal Mozart super-luxe river cruise ship has been reborn as the Riverside Mozart.

Courtesy of Riverside Luxury Cruises

Speaking of new kids on the block, a brand new river cruise company debuting its first sailings in Europe this year will undoubtedly sound familiar to seasoned cruisers. Riverside Luxury Cruises is launching its inaugural cruises along the Danube River in April on its first ship, Riverside Mozart. The vessel was formerly the Crystal Mozart of the now-defunct Crystal Cruises. The Crystal Mozart was widely considered the standard-setter in ultra-luxury river cruising with its double-wide build, walk-in closets, double-vanity bathrooms, butler service for every cabin, plus its fine dining and indoor swimming pool—all of which guests will still be able to experience with Riverside.

The company acquired four other ships from Crystal Cruises this year, two of which will also set sail in 2023 offering 3- to 14-night itineraries. Riverside Ravel will sail the Saône and Rhône rivers from Burgundy to Provence in France, and Riverside Debussy will set sail on Europe’s Rhine River. Prices for three-day cruises start at $1,848 per person, and seven-day sailings in midrange suites start at around $5,000 per person, including meals and beverages, select excursions, Wi-Fi, transfers, and gratuities.

Floating through France with a focus on Black heritage

Paris bridge over the Seine River

A new AmaWaterways cruise includes two days of exploring Black Paris.

Photo by Anthony Delanoix/Unsplash

Travelers who would like to enhance their river cruise vacation with a more in-depth understanding of Black history should consider AmaWaterways. In 2023, the river cruise line is launching its first Soulful Epicurean Experience, which will sail the company’s seven-night Colors of Provence itinerary through southern France. The cruise will shine a light on France’s Black heritage and will feature a full-day Black heritage tour in Arles and a three-night stay in Paris that includes two days of exploring Black Paris as well as diving into American entertainer Josephine Baker’s history there. Live jazz performances and specially curated food and wine experiences on board the AmaKristina will also be staples of the itinerary. The cruise runs from August 24 to September 3 and prices start at $4,899 per person.

River cruises closer to home

Rolling on down the Mississippi: a newly launched American Cruise Lines ship

Roll on down the Mississippi on a newly launched American Cruise Lines ship.

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

For those wanting to sail along waterways right here at home, there are a wider variety of river (and coastal) cruise options than you may realize in the United States. American Cruise Lines, for example, is launching three new ships in 2023, two of which are part of the company’s new hybrid catamaran fleet called Project Blue and can sail on both rivers and coastal waterways. American Eagle and American Glory, both 109-passenger ships, will sail on the East Coast covering waterways in Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Maine’s Penobscot River and Harbor, Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and the South Atlantic Coast. Departures for American Eagle begin in the South in mid-February with prices starting at $4,425, while American Glory launches its first cruises in Maryland in mid-March with fares starting at $6,750.

The cruise line is also launching its sixth river ship, American Serenade, on the Mississippi River in April and is introducing its first-ever river cruise in Northern California. The eight-day San Francisco Bay cruise will explore the wine region of Napa Valley and the Gold Rush history of the Sacramento Valley from the San Joaquin River and San Pablo Bay. Departures for the Northern California cruise begin in late February and prices start at $5,990 per person.

Viking is also adding to the growing mix of domestic river cruise sailings. The company recently launched its 386-guest Viking Mississippi, which travels between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minnesota. Rather than a more classic paddlewheel-style vessel that other lines such as American Queen Voyages operate on the Mississippi, Viking has brought its trademark contemporary Scandinavian style to the United States with sleek staterooms and bright and airy public areas. Itineraries range between 8 to 15 days and prices begin at $3,999 per person.

Family travel returns to the rivers

Luxor temple in Egypt

For a history lesson the entire family will enjoy, head to Egypt with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

Photo by AXP Photography/Unsplash

Multigenerational travel is back with demand higher than ever as family members seek more ways to travel with loved ones and make up for time lost during the pandemic. To facilitate these reunions and travel-fueled bonding experiences, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offers a family-friendly Generations Collection, which is launching a new destination in 2023. Families will not only explore the ancient sites and temples of Egypt but will also have the chance to meet local children and donate gifts such as school supplies, books, and games. Departure dates for this Nile River program are December 16, 23, and 30, 2023. All of the dates for the company’s Generations Collection cruises coincide with school breaks in order to better accommodate family trip planning. Fares start at $6,659 per person, and include on board and offshore activities, meals, transportation, luxury accommodations, internal flights, and gratuities.

Nicole Edenedo
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR