Q – Our friends found an ad for a river boat company we’ve never heard of called A-Rosa. They sound like a spaghetti sauce but they claim to be both deluxe and inclusive. Is this a line we should be looking at for a summer Danube cruise. From their ad, it looks as though they might still have space.

A – A-Rosa is a well regarded river boat company that, up until quite recently, was dedicated to the German market. This coming summer, for the very first time, they are being represented by David Morris International, a company owned by former top executives at Cunard and Crystal Cruises. They will be operating cruises specifically geared to American guests this summer on the Rhine, the Danube, and the Rhone. They will also offer several Christmas sailings,

Since they have not yet sailed as a revamped product on boats that will carry predominantly Americans, we would be cautious about the “deluxe” or “5-Star” designation. When we see a five-star river boat we will believe it, but let’s give these folks a little room and see what develops. The “inclusive” part of their claims is generally true with shore excursions, gratuities, transfers and “unlimited” beverages all part of the package.

The business plan of this river boat alternative is to serve a somewhat younger demographic by offering more active and off-the-beaten-track shore excursions. This is easier said then done so we will be watching their progress carefully. Finally, A-Rosa will make everfy one of the voyages they operate for Americans themed, to attract those with specific interests.

The crew, of course, has been trained to offer high levels of service to a demanding German clientele. They are most familiar with serving the need sof the German guest. Witht hat said, we think your risk is low and the potential plusses of this experience might make it a good “be the first on your block” kind of river boat experience.