by Don McCann
Thanks to a great sponsorship of Downton Abbey and an aggressive mail campaign, Viking River Cruises is virtually a household name. They have launched many river ships (mostly in Europe) in the last several years and have become the industry’s most recognized leader. The experience of docking right in the heart of quaint communities, or famed European capitals along the river, makes for a wonderful sightseeing vacation. These river cruises also include shore excursions at each port, as well as wines & beer at lunch and dinner so the value is tremendous!
Building on this success, Viking decided to bring their ‘river’ concept to ocean itineraries and they launched Viking Ocean Cruises last year. The Viking Ocean ships have all balcony accommodations and, just like their river sister company, they include a shore excursion in each port AND they include wines & beer with lunch and dinner, as well. They carry only 930 guests and they have garnered only outstanding reviews in their short history, thus far.
This unique and popular company literally has something for everyone interested in cruising, be it river, or ocean. So it’s easy to see why we are so excited to share all this information at our upcoming Viking Cruises Event next week! Laurie Smith of Viking Cruises will be the guest speaker and she’ll share what is new with both river and ocean, as well as the latest special offers! Click here for all the details and the RSVP link; please plan to join us – we look forward to seeing you!
by Don McCann
When most people think of an Alaskan cruise, I imagine they don’t think beyond the cruise. There is spectacular scenery, for sure, as you cruise along the coast of Alaska and it’s glaciers, but there is much more to see if you can take the time to ‘go inland’. This is what’s called a cruise-tour, or land-sea package, where a 7-night cruise is combined with a land package to such sights as Mt McKinley and Denali National Park. Here you’ll experience incredible scenery, majestic wildlife, excellent lodge accommodations, vista dome train sightseeing, and much more!
Even if you’ve been on an Alaskan cruise in the past, consider going back and seeing more this time. There are many different options on these cruise-tour combinations, but here’s an example of one of the most popular choices from Princess Cruises:
by Don McCann
Most of our experienced ocean cruisers prefer to travel in a balcony cabin (and if you have ever experienced one, you certainly know why!) So when booking a river cruise, many are unsure as to the meaning of a “french balcony” and how that will compare. Well, to begin with, the entire river cruise experience is so different that the balcony preference is not nearly as relevant. In Europe, all river ships are restricted in size due to the many locks which they will traverse during the cruise. This limited size requires the ship designers rethink and rework the standard cruise accommodations. So in order to allow the maximum amount of space for the cabin itself, the ‘balcony’ space is a challenge. Therefore, many ships feature the french balcony, which is really floor to ceiling, sliding glass doors which open up for the fresh air (and to stick your head out), but you don’t actually step out onto a true balcony; many people like to think that this transforms the whole cabin into a balcony! Also, the nature of river cruises is such that you are in port a great deal, so there is not as much time to sit out on the balcony as you might think.
To illustrate how different lines offer their accommodations, I’m enclosing a few photos:
Avalon Waterways Suite Class French Balcony
AMA Waterways French Balcony (left) and Outside Balcony (right)
Viking River Cruises balcony cabin
As you can see, there are many options and we can help you sort them out. Whichever you choose, river cruises are wonderful and we hope you’ll be taking yours soon!!
by Don McCann
AMA Waterways, gliding through Europe
River Cruises, primarily in Europe, have exploded in popularity in recent years and there is a very good reason: They are WONDERFUL! As we have mentioned in past posts, they carry between 130 to 190 guests and dock in the heart of the city in many ports of call. A very good industry friend told us “on an ocean cruise, you cruise TO a country; on a river cruise, you cruise THROUGH a country“. Simple observation, but yet so true.
So we take July as River Cruise Month for several reasons….
- Now is the best time to book for next year, 2017; river cruises fill far in advance
- Most lines have advance booking discounts which will expire soon
- Crystal River Cruises has their inaugural cruise in July; an exciting, new product
This month we’ll be sending out examples of special offers for River Cruises, but we’ll also be sending out some photos and observations on our own past River Cruises. Watch for more posts and remember to THINK RIVER CRUISES all month long!!!
by Don McCann
Several major cruise lines have released ‘beverage package’ promotions in the last year, or so and they have proved very popular. Even for those who are not heavy drinkers, it simply makes the cruise experience that much nicer to have that expense included with the cruise rate. Some lines have a premium level package at an additional cost, but the classic, or standard package works for most cruisers. Your soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages (up to a certain value, usually about $10) are complimentary on these promotions. One such example is with Princess Cruises and their current Sip & Sail promotion. Bookings have to be made by August 31 of this year for cruises in the summer of next year, in 2017. For some sample rates and details, click here.
Holland America’s newest ship, Koningsdam, is about to debut next month, but this ship introduces a whole new era to a very established cruise line (this is NOT your grandmother’s Holland America!). This magnificent ship will begin sailings in Europe for the summer months, then she’ll reposition to the Caribbean for the winter months. So we could quote you lots of impressive facts & figures, but perhaps a few visuals will tell the story much more effectively. Take a look at Koningsdam……
by Don McCann
We went to a presentation yesterday on a brand new ship and new offering from Scenic Cruises. Currently, Scenic offers river cruises in Europe and some exotic locations, but this new ship will be an ocean-going vessel. However, this is not ‘just another cruise ship’; on the contrary, this will be somewhat unique in several ways.
Scenic Eclipse is a luxury yacht-inspired cruise ship accommodating 228 guests and it will launch in August, 2018. So your first thought might be “2018!?” Why talk about it now? Well, there are several reasons. To begin with, the ship will sail primarily very intriguing, trip-of-a-lifetime type of itineraries, such as around Iceland, Antarctica, or some smaller European ports. Such trips usually take some advance planning, not to mention that with only 228 passengers, the ship will most likely fill much farther in advance than larger ships. Also, it’s not cheap. It’s a true luxury experience, with pricing to match, and this often evokes careful consideration before a commitment is made. That being said, while price is one thing, “value” is another and Eclipse will definitely be a good value with the experience AND the inclusions. Just as with Scenic Cruises’ river ships, the Eclipse fares will include all gratuities, all beverages, specialty dining options, and shore excursions. The only exception will be the excursions available from the two onboard six passenger helicopters, or the seven passenger submarine. These unique options will make the overall experience just THAT much more impressive.
We feel confident that the Scenic Cruises management team can truly ‘deliver’ a wonderful and exciting cruise experience with Scenic Eclipse. Take a look at some of the photos & video links below and contact us for more details!
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