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?…..
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 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, 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!
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: http://www.tauck.com/tours/travel-to-cuba/travel-to-cuba-cv-2015.aspx
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.
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
Inside the Melk Abbey
Mondsee, Austria – enroute to Sound of Music area
Strauss in Stadtpark, Vienna
Private evening concert performance at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna
Scenic Jasper near Durnstein, Austria
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……….
approaching Vienna in one of many locks along the Danube River
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna
Rack of Lamb, onboard Scenic Jasper
Scenic Jasper approaching Durnstein
One of the Danube’s most picturesque churches in Durnstein
Quaint, charming Durnstein
….let’s all hope Bill sends us some more photos soon!
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
Bill Edwards enjoying the balcony on Scenic Jasper
Scenic Jasper Portabello’s alternative Dining Room
Budpest’s famed Parliment building
Matthias Church in Budapest
Heros’ Square in Budapest
Chain Bridge in Budapest