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Although it seems as if the 2018 European river season has only just begun, cruise lines are already releasing details of new ships, itineraries and special offers for 2019. And it’s promising to be a busy year – here are some highlights to plan for.

After Viking took a break from its record-breaking christening of 14 ships in 2014, it is coming back with seven new ships in 2019. Six are Longships that will sail popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, while the seventh is a little smaller and specifically designed for Portugal’s Douro. In 2019 Viking will be by far the biggest river cruise operator, with 69 river ships sailing around the world.

Size is an important consideration for APT too, as it prepares to launch its biggest river ship, the aptly named AmaMagna, in May 2019. At 135 metres long and 22 metres wide – twice the width of most river vessels – it can only sail on the Danube, although there is no shortage of beautiful ports of call between Vilshofen and Budapest. Its 190-odd passengers will enjoy bigger staterooms and suites as well as a watersports platform equipped with Zodiacs, canoes and jet skis. APT also has a new ship, AmaMora, for Portugal in 2019.

Scenic is focusing on refurbing eight of its Space-Ships that sail on the Rhine, Main and Danube. They will feature fewer suites (but the new Royal Owners Suites are a massive 48 square metres), meaning there will be a higher crew/passenger ratio. New ‘salt therapy lounges’ that reportedly offer “a non-invasive way to feel energised and healthier while relaxing” will be installed – intriguing!

There are some great deals around for 2019 itineraries. Scenic has a selection of special offers on its European cruises that are open for booking until August 31, 2018; they include free flights on all cruises of 11 days or longer, in all suite categories for all of 2019. APT’s Superdeal savings are available until November 30, 2018, including free flights for all cruises of 14 nights or longer.

New itineraries include ocean-river and river-train combos and a resurgence of interest in the Nile – we’re checking them out for our next report. Happy cruising!