The growth in river cruise marks an undeniable shift in passenger appetites and inclinations. This combined with the strength of river cruise in its return to the water post-COVID-19 no-sail orders marks a turning point for river cruising in its future popularity. River cruising is also innovative – space restrictions on board require designers to be more creative than usual. Below we’ll take a look at some ‘firsts’ on river cruise ships – recent advancements to the onboard guest experience that have never been seen before…

The First Swimming Pool/Cinema

Emerald Waterways’ range of star-ships, sailing along the Rhine, Maine, Danube, and Moselle, all feature this space-saving innovation. Situated towards the back of the Horizon Deck on each of the nine ships, this leisure activity area functions as both a daytime pool and an evening cinema. For a daytime swim, the infinity-style pool has a retractable roof and floor-to-ceiling windows. Once the evening comes, the floor of the pool rises up at the push of a button to become a cinema, where the passenger has a choice of films to watch.

The First Herb Garden

Viking River Cruises claim to use fresh produce in their meals on board – and it doesn’t get much fresher than this. Each of Viking’s many Longships features a herb garden, growing herbs used in the meals right there on the Sun Deck, next to the putting green. The herbs grown differ depending on the menus from ship to ship, but the basil on your pasta or the dill on your seafood will always come from the herb garden.

The Herb Garden on a Viking Longship, right next to the putting green

The First Swim-Up Bar

For paramount relaxation, on AmaWaterways ships you don’t even have to get out of the pool to grab a drink. With a swim-up bar on board several of their river ships, passengers are treated to the triple luxury of sipping a cocktail, having a dip, and enjoying 360-degree views all at the same time.

The swim-up bar on an AmaWaterways ship

The First Silent Disco

U by Uniworld is a relatively new line from Uniworld focused on the millennial market. With Paint & Wine classes, an onboard yoga instructor, mixology classes, and free WiFi, U by Uniworld are banking on the idea that millennials care more for experiences and self-improvement than the traditional river cruise crowd. One of these experiences is the Silent Disco, a first for river cruising. With a resident DJ running the party, passengers don a pair of headphones to enjoy the music in sync with the other passengers.

A passenger enjoying the Silent Disco on a U by Uniworld river ship

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