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Luxury river cruise line to debut in 2008

SmarterTravel

The mainstream lines may complain that economic downturns are keeping travelers from taking a first-ever Caribbean cruise, but the luxury lines are having no such problems. Many of the high-end lines have new ships on order to meet the rising demand for upscale vacations. So it’s not too much of a surprise that a new luxury river cruise line is set to debut in 2008.

Former [% 16844 | | Silversea %] CEO Albert Peter announced the launch of Jewel River Cruise Line for 2008. The new company will feature three brands: Jewel River Cruises, offering “boutique-luxury” river cruises; Emerald River Journeys, a premium line; and the mainstream Princess River Journeys.

The line’s flagship, the ms Jewel Imperial Blue, will sail her maiden cruise on April 5, 2008, along the River Seine. Prior to setting sail, the ship will receive a $3.5 million retrofit. When it emerges, the Jewel Imperial Blue will become the first all-suite river cruise ship, with 45 suites and a 2:1 guest-to-crew ratio. Two new-builds are planned for 2009 and 2010.

The five ships belonging to the premium and mainstream brands will cruise the waterways of Central Europe in 2008. American travelers won’t have access to these ships for at least a year because all five have been fully chartered to European tour operators.

If you’ve got a large vacation budget and want to be one of the first to experience high-end river cruising, Jewel River Cruises will go on sale in January. Check back in December for itinerary and fare information.

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