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AmaWaterways to launch Seine River cruises

Add the Seine River in France to the list of places you can visit with fast-growing AmaWaterways.

The California-based river line will launch its first weekly voyages on the Seine starting in March 2013 with an itinerary that starts in Paris and includes stops in the cathedral town of Rouen and the cozy coastal town of Honfleur.

AmaWaterways also plans a new itinerary in 2013 on Portugal’s Douro River, where it hasn’t offered trips since 2010, and additional sailings on France’s Rhone River.

“We have a very strong past passenger client base from Rhine and Danube cruises, and they are looking for other areas,” AmaWaterways founder and President Rudi Schreiner tells USA TODAY.

RELATED:  River lines add trips on Portugal’s Douro
PHOTO TOUR:  A look inside a European river ship

The seven-night “Paris Normandy” trips on the Seine will include a visit to Giverny, where Impressionist artist Claude Monet lived for 43 years, as well as the cities of Vernon, Caudebec-en-Caux, Les Andelys and Conflans. They’ll take place on the 150-passenger AmaLegro, which debuted in 2007.

AmaWaterways also will offer extended, multi-week France trips in 2013 that combine the new seven-night sailing on the Seine with a seven-night Rhone River cruise (on the 150-passenger AmaDagio) and several nights in Barcelona. Dubbed Jewels of France, the extended trip will be offered starting on March 26, 2013.

Schreiner says voyages on the Rhine and Danube continue to be the biggest draw for North American vacationers interested in river cruising, but a growing base of river cruise fans looking for new options is supporting new alternatives across Europe as well as in Africa and Asia. He notes that AmaWaterways this year is adding its first safari cruises in Africa and also recently added its first sailings on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia — both destinations that are drawing more attention from vacationers as well as vacation companies.

One area of river cruising that is struggling mightily this year, he says: Trips on the Nile in Egypt. In the wake of last year’s “Arab Spring” revolution, it is “really out. Egypt is really empty,” he says.

RELATED:  AmaWaterways adds Africa trips

Founded in 2002, AmaWaterways plans to add two more vessels in 2013, bringing its total to 15. The 164-passenger AmaPrima, debuting in April 2013, will sail mostly on the Danube. The 108-passenger AmaVida, debuting in March 2013, will sail on the Douro.

AmaWaterways will offer two Douro River itineraries on the AmaVida: A 10-night trip that includes seven nights on the ship and three nights in a hotel in Lisbon; and a 13-night trip that also includes three nights in a hotel in Madrid.

The seven-night cruise portion of the two itineraries will feature visits to the Douro River towns of Porto, Régua, Barc d’Alva, Vega Terrón, Pinhão and Bitetos.

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