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Which Do You Find More Exciting?

by Don McCann

Last month my wife and I were lucky enough to take a 7-night river cruise from Paris to the Normandy region with Avalon Waterways on the Seine River. Then we stayed in Paris for a week afterwards in an apartment where we’d stayed twice before.

Before the trip, I was quite excited and then I started to wonder which was more exciting: going to some place new, which had been of interest for many years, or returning to my favorite city? It was probably 50-50, but it got me to thinking about our clients and their perspectives on travel. So when it comes to your next trip, which is more exciting for you: A new destination, or returning to a favorite place from a past trip?

I’m going to blog about some of the individual ports on our cruise in upcoming posts, but reply to this one and let us know – which scenario is more exciting for you?…..

Seine vs Paris


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It Was Only a Matter of Time….

by Don McCann

With all of the growing popularity of European river cruises, it’s not too surprising that one of the major ‘ocean’ cruise lines has decided to launch their own river cruise division. Recently, Crystal Cruises announced that they will begin river cruises within Europe in 2017. At the time, they released virtually no details, but earlier this week they announced some date information and even showed us a couple of renderings!

Crystal Cruises European River CruiseCrystal Cruises will begin European river cruises in March, 2017 and reservations will open in December of this year, in 2015. That far in advance, you might ask? Yes! With the demand for river cruises and the limited number of cabins onboard, they sell much further in advance than many ocean cruises.

The river vessels from Crystal will each feature standard ‘suites’ at 250 square feet,Crystal Cruises river cruise suite as well as two 500 square feet penthouse suites. Accommodations will have walk-in closets, king-size beds and the bathrooms will have double vanities. As with their ocean ships, the river ships will include their signature Palm Court, which will have a glass roof & dance floor and there will be a fitness center and spa. The ships will carry only 140 guests.

The other lines in the luxury arena of European river cruises (Uniworld, Tauck, and Scenic) will surely be interested to see how Crystal will create their own style of luxury river cruises and we’ll all be interested to see at what price point, as well. Stay tuned for more info!

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Who Wants to go to Cuba?!

by Don McCann

Having grown up in Florida in the 60’s, Cuba always held a fascination for me (and many others) during that time.  It was a place of some mystery and sort of the forbidden fruit of travel destinations.  This all intensified as the years of our strained relations between countries continued, decade after decade.  Attitudes softened for some and travel restrictions opened the slightest little crack in recent years with “people to people” exchange programs.  Basically this means that tour companies could take Americans to Cuba, legally, if we were on a structured, sort of ‘cultural’ type itinerary (lazing on the beaches and playing in the casinos NOT).  These packages have been sort of a trip-of-a-lifetime for those who have been, but most U.S. travelers are unaware this is possible.

Enter the new era of much publicity for Cuba with the U.S. establishing diplomatic relations and related speculation about when travel will really OPEN UP.  So now, Cuba is suddenly of interest to many travelers, but options are still very limited.  The good news is that there are excellent tour companies who can show us the ‘classic Cuba’ with the vintage cars and the colonial charm of today, which many fear will quickly vanish once our unrestricted travel is allowed.  The bad news is that such ‘open’ travel is still a few years away.

If you have an interest in seeing Cuba, before it all changes, here’s an example of a top-of-the-line package from Tauck:

Tauck Tours Cuba

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The Surprising Wonders of the Douro River

by Don McCann

When most of us think of a Europe river cruise, we think “Danube”, or “Rhine”, or maybe “Seine”.  If you have never visited Portugal, you are in for a treat; or, see a dramatic new side of this beautiful country on the Douro River.  Some of the most spectacular river cruise scenery can be found in Portugal along the DOURO River!   The river takes you on a winding easterly course between steeply terraced vineyards, stopping at ports of call largely unchanged for centuries with charming town squares, colorful castles, baroque mansions and historic monasteries.  At the Spanish border you can indulge in a scenic ride into Spain to visit the medieval city of Salamanca before your leisurely voyage back to Porto.

Sound interesting? Watch the video below.

Click here to see our special offer! 

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Sights along the Danube ….. just a few more

So Bill Edwards’ Danube cruise has come to an end, but we thought we’d post just a few more of the many wonderful photos from the later portion of the itinerary.  Soon we hope to have a post, or two, in the form of his review and observations on this enchanting river cruise itinerary with Scenic Cruises.

Melk Abbey in Austria with Scenic River Cruises

Melk Abbey in Austria

Inside the Melk Abbey with Scenic River Cruises

Inside the Melk Abbey

Mondsee, Austria -with Scenic River Cruises

Mondsee, Austria – enroute to Sound of Music area

Salzburg tulips with Scenic River Cruises

Salzburg tulips

Bratislava with Scenic River Cruises


Strauss in Stadtpark, Vienna with Scenic River Cruises

Strauss in Stadtpark, Vienna

Private evening concert performance at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna with Scenic River Cruises

Private evening concert performance at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna

Scenic Jasper with Scenic River Cruises

Scenic Jasper near Durnstein, Austria

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The Danube …. continued

As we mentioned in our last post, Bill Edwards is cruising on the Danube this week onboard the Scenic Jasper and is sending us some sample photos.  Enjoy these, as we all wish that we were there with him……….

Danube River lock with Scenic Cruises

approaching Vienna in one of many locks along the Danube River

Vienna with Scenic River Cruises

Stunning Vienna

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna with Scenic Cruises

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna

Rack of Lamb, onboard Scenic Jasper with Scenic Cruises

Rack of Lamb, onboard Scenic Jasper

Durnstein with Scenic Cruises

Scenic Jasper approaching Durnstein

Durnstein church with Scenic Cruises

One of the Danube’s most picturesque churches in Durnstein

Durnstein with Scenic Cruises

Quaint, charming Durnstein

….let’s all hope Bill sends us some more photos soon!

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One Picture is Worth …….

by Don McCann

This week, our own Bill Edwards is on a preview cruise with Scenic Cruises‘ new ship, the Scenic Jasper, sailing from Budapest to Vienna.  Even though Bill is not here yet to share his thoughts and review of the ship & itinerary, he’s been good enough to send back some photos as a preview of this trip.  Here are just a few examples to view until he returns next week when he can share some ‘words’ to accompany these great photos………

Scenic Jasper in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Scenic Jasper in Budapest

Bill Edwards enjoying the balcony on Scenic Jasper with Scenic Cruises

Bill Edwards enjoying the balcony on Scenic Jasper

Scenic Jasper Portabello's alternative Dining Room with Scenic Cruises

Scenic Jasper Portabello’s alternative Dining Room

Budpest's famed Parliment building with Scenic Cruises

Budpest’s famed Parliment building

Matthias Church in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Matthias Church in Budapest

Heros' Square in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Heros’ Square in Budapest

Chain Gate Bridge in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Chain Bridge in Budapest

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