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A-RosaTHC: A Little-Known River Cruise Gem

Here's a secret worth sharing. In the burgeoning river cruise market, there's a relatively unknown (at least to North Americans) German line that's quietly been providing its guests with good value and superb cruising experiences on the rivers of Europe for more than 14 years. But its anonymity is about to change. A-Rosa now is being represented in North America by David Morris International, a firm whose execs are no strangers to heading up luxury cruise lines. Among them is Executive V.P. Marilyn Conroy, who recently chatted with Hideaways about the philosophy and attractive offerings of this little-known river cruise line, which we've recently welcomed into The Hideaways Collection®.


We asked Marilyn about her cruise industry background, how she became involved with A-Rosa--which sails the Rhine, Danube, and Rhône/Saône rivers of Europe--and what she finds unique about the river cruise line.

"I've been in the cruise business for 30-plus years," says Marilyn in her distinctly British accent, "having started as the first-ever female V.P. at Cunard. Eventually, I was headhunted by Silversea and spent a number of years there, until about six years ago I decided I'd had enough of corporate life and wanted to go into business for myself. So I went into partnership with David Morris, also from Silversea, and we found this intriguing river cruise line that fills a niche for clientele 40 to 75 years of age who have a younger, more active mindset. We found that most lines popular with North Americans are geared toward older guests, so this was something new.

"A-Rosa really was a non-entity in North America until two years ago," Marilyn continues. "They own and operate all their own vessels and have a great all-inclusive product--I'm convinced that people don't want to be nickled and dimed. A-Rosa is geared toward the upper market; I won't say luxury, because I use that term very judiciously. I also like the philosophy behind the A-Rosa name, the rose representing a passion for life. It may seem corny, but every cruise begins with each female guest being presented a rose as she comes aboard, and I love that."

There are many interpretations when it comes to the term "all-inclusive," and we asked Marilyn how it applies to a cruise with A-Rosa. "First, all meals and beverages are included--not just beer and wine at lunch and dinner. If you want a Bloody Mary at 10 a.m., then fine, you should have one. All your gratuities are included, and that represents a great value. We have complimentary Wi-Fi on board and a fleet of 15 city bikes on each ship for guests' use. And finally, we offer up to €200, or about $280, in on-board credit to use for shore excursions, spa treatments, gift shop purchases, whatever you like.

A-Rosa Cruises

"We found that when all shore excursions are considered 'free,' people won't show up or are late, and that inconveniences everyone," Marilyn explains. "This way, you have the choice of using your credits for a shore excursion--maybe somewhere you've never been before--or using them for a wonderful massage, for instance. Maybe you prefer to wander around on your own or take the bicycles out for a couple of hours. It's all about choices."

Since the dining experience is such an integral part of a European river cruise, we asked Marilyn how A-Rosa stacks up. "Food and wine is where I believe we really shine," she says. "We always have a sommelier on board, so essentially all our cruises are wine themed. And once again, it's all about choices. We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner as buffets with cooking stations, with all three meals served in two-hour spans. For instance, dinner is open seating from 7-9 p.m., so you can linger in port if you like and have a later dinner. Or, you can choose to dine by reservation in our private dining room, which starts serving at 7 p.m. and offers a four-course sit-down dinner with wine pairings.

"Everywhere on board, the dress code is resort casual," notes Marilyn. "Men really don't need to bring a jacket, though some do. I have noticed that women tend to dress a bit more for dinner, however. Again, your choice!"

With A-Rosa's tagline of "Escape the Ordinary" and its aim to please active-minded guests, it's no surprise the line offers some on-board amenities that other river cruise lines don't. In addition to a heated swimming pool, you'll also find an expansive Spa-Rosa with an attractive relaxation area, two treatment rooms, a whirlpool on deck, and a glassed-in sauna offering panoramic views of the passing countryside. Professional trainers are on hand to work with you in the well-equipped gym, you can join yoga sessions on the sun deck, and there's a putting green, shuffleboard court, and giant chessboard to nurture a little friendly rivalry among guests.

Cabins and suites are another area where you have choices, according to Marilyn. "All our cabins are light, bright, modern, and trendy, and 70 percent have a French balcony. Our standard cabin has two twins pushed together and is 156 square feet, but we've heard guests say it's so well laid out that it feels more spacious. We also have a Junior Suite with 225 square feet and a Balcony Suite with 312 square feet. There's always lots of under-bed storage, plenty of drawers, and a nice big closet.

"We just launched the Flora in 2014, and it has two brand-new Family Suites that we're excited about," Marilyn continues. "These have two bunked beds on one side and the parents' bed on the other. Above all--and this may not be politically correct to say, but--I hate smoking, and you'll never smell cigarettes in any cabin, or anywhere on the ships for that matter. Smoking is only permitted on the Sun Deck, and at the very back of the ship."

Marilyn sums up the A-Rosa experience by saying, "If I were to describe A-Rosa, I'd use phrases like 'young and active' and 'contemporary sophistication.' And because we're the new guys on the block in North America, we've priced ourselves very competitively. I think we're the best-kept secret in the river cruise industry right now, and the best value out there."

A-Rosa currently is offering special savings and incentives for 2015, including waived single supplements on many itineraries and a "Kids Sail Free" program for children ages 2-15 (when sailing with at least one adult). You also can save $1,000 (double occupancy) when booking your 2015 cruise by December 31, 2014. Your exclusive Hideaways member perk is an additional €75 per stateroom shipboard credit. So now is a great time to give A-Rosa a try and experience something new in the world of river cruising.

Compare These Top River Cruise Lines

We hope this comparison chart helps you decide which line might be right for you. When you're ready to book your tailored-to-you river cruise experience--or if you still have questions--be sure to call Hideaways Travel Services for expert and personalized planning: 800-843-4433, or email ts@hideaways.com.

Cruise Line

Who It Appeals To

What's Included

Why We Like It

Where It Sails/Ship Details

A-Rosa THC

Perfect for the casual, independent, and value-minded traveler looking for an active-lifestyle river cruise experience

All on-board meals, open bar, bottled water, and gratuities included in rate; fleet of bicycles; up to €200 (about US$280) in shipboard credit to use toward excursions, spa treatments, etc.; wireless Internet access

The option of two-hour, eat-when-you-like buffet dining or by-reservation, four-course dining with wine pairings; shorter itineraries (as few as four nights) for greater flexibility when combining with land stays; family cabins with bunked beds which sleep two adults and two children

Cruising Europe's Rhine, Danube, and Rhône/Saône rivers, aboard five contemporary ships-the Stella, Silva, Flora, Viva, and Donna-each carrying fewer than 200 passengers, and 70% with French balconies; avg. cabin size of 156 square feet

AmaWaterways

Upscale river cruise line aimed at those who want a deluxe on-board experience and a focus on cultural immersion

All on-board meals; soft drinks with lunch, wine and beer at dinner; bottled water, specialty coffees, and teas; daily guided excursions; fleet of bicycles; wireless Internet access

Unique themed itineraries like Jewish Heritage, Jazz, Chocolate, and Christmas Markets; comprehensive pre- and post-cruise land tours

Cruising the major rivers of Europ, plus Portugal's Douro, as well as Russia, Africa, Myanmar, and Vietnam/Cambodia; fleet of 20 vessels; avg. cabin size of 170 square feet

Avalon Waterways

Ideal for the casual, independent-minded traveler

All on-board meals; soft drinks with lunch, wines and beer at dinner; wireless Internet access; basic guided sightseeing (optional tours available for purchase)

Flexible touring; unique staterooms with a variety of choices; a la carte dining

Cruising the major waterways of Europe plus China, Myanmar, Vietnam/Cambodia, and the Peruvian Amazon; 23 ships of varying size; avg. cabin size of 200 square feet

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Designed for those who want the ultimate in luxurious river cruising, with a boutique-hotel-like experience

Truly all-inclusive cruising: all meals, open bar, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas, excursions, gratuities, wireless Internet access, even airport transfers on embark/debark days

A focus on gourmet food and wine both on board and in excursion options; the most comprehensive all-inclusive policy in the river cruise market

Cruising the major rivers of Europe plus Portugal's Douro, as well as China, Russia, and Vietnam/Cambodia; 18 boutique-style ships with luxe Euro-chic decor; avg. cabin size of 150 square feet

Viking River Cruises

Geared toward Americans, great for active cruisers interested in taking lots of excursions

All on-board meals; house beer and wine with lunch and dinner; soft drinks and bottled water; all excursions; wireless Internet access

Sailing the newest ships on the rivers of Europe, each with a modern, contemporary feel; many cabins now with full balcony and/or French balcony

Cruising the major waterways of Europe plus Russia, Egypt, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam/Cambodia; dozens of new ships in Europe; avg. cabin size of 150 square feet

September/October 2014

 
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