Category Archives: River Cruises

Scenic Eclipse

by Don McCann

Scenic Eclipse

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!

Scenic Eclipse preview brochure cover


Filed under adventure cruising, Cruise News, European Cruises, European River Cruises, Italy Cruise, luxury adventure cruising, Mediterranean Cruises, New Ship, Our Cruise Stories, Our events, River Cruises, Scenic Cruises, Scenic Eclipse, Uncategorized

WindSurf: photo follow-up

by Don McCann

In our last post, I promised to post photos of the WindSurf from our recent cruise in Italy & Croatia.  The photo link is below, but I also want to add a few comments…

Although WindSurf looks unlike a traditional cruise ship from the outside, the interior is very much like many ships.  It is very comfortable for someone looking for the Lounge, the Dining Room, or a Specialty Dining alternative.  It’s very stable; we had only one night of ‘some’ motion and the winds were such that I’m sure ANY cruise ship in the area had motion, as well.  The cabin is designed to look like more of a yacht-type accommodation, than a cruise ship, but you’ll find all of the same amenities, but with maybe more storage (the storage was really great).  What you don’t find is a crowd.  With only 310 guests, it’s very relaxed, with no lines, no competition for best seats in the lounge, etc.  If you’ve only cruised on large ships, it’s difficult to imagine how much better the experience can be on a smaller vessel (maybe ask someone who’s taken a river cruise).

Regardless of which of the Windstar Cruises’ yacht ships you might select, you’ll have an upscale experience – trust me!

Now for those photos……

Camera icon click here mod

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Filed under Croatia Cruise, Cruise Ship Dining, European Cruises, Italy Cruise, Mediterranean & Europe Cruises, Mediterranean Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, Our Cruises, River Cruises, Uncategorized, Windstar Cruises, Windsurf

Monet, Monet

by Don McCann

In a previous post, I mentioned about my recent Avalon Waterways cruise on the Seine River to the Normandy Region of France.  On our itinerary, the first port of call was the quaint town of Vernon, the gateway to Monet’s home at Giverny.  I think most of us probably envision lily pads on a tranquil pond when we hear the name “Giverny” and that’s JUST what we were lucky enough to see that first morning!

Vernon, France on a quiet Sunday morning

Vernon on a quiet Sunday morning

Our tour departure time allowed us enough time to disembark and wonder the little town of Vernon before we boarded the motorcoach for the short drive to Giverny.  Being a Sunday morning, Vernon was noticeably quiet and made for a delightful early walk as we quickly explored what charming & historic sights the village had to offer.  As is true with so many European locations, the church was the dominant landmark and it was a very short distance from our ship.

As we arrived in Giverny, the anticipation grew with each phase of the tour.  First, a walk from the parking lot to the outer area of the village, then into the gardens themselves, next into Monet’s home, and finally a short walk to the far end of town to the cemetery for Monet’s grave.  In the gardens, on the path, over the famed arched bridge, it all seems as though the paintings of Monet have come to life and you are directly ‘in the thick of it’!  It is an area of impressive beauty and its preservation seems to have been successful to maintain an authentic “Monet experience”.  I could say more, but the photos say it best, take a look…

Giverny, France lily pads

Giverny lily pads

Giverny, France foot bridge

Giverny, France foot bridge

Giverny, France area map

Giverny area map

Giverny, France gardens

Giverny, France gardens

Monet home in Giverny, France

Monet home in Giverny

Monet's bedroom at Giverny , France

Monet’s bedroom at Giverny

Monet's grave in Giverny, France

Monet’s grave in Giverny

for more on Avalon Waterways, click here

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Filed under Avalon Waterways, European River Cruises, Giverny, Monet, New Ship, Our Cruises, River Cruises, Seine River Cruise, Vernon France

Open House Sale Coming Soon

by Don McCann

We are very excited about our upcoming Open House Sale on Saturday, February 1.  Why be excited?  Well, it is always a treat for us to bring together our clients with some of our favorite cruise line representatives.  Nothing beats personal contact and most people really enjoy being able to meet and chat with some one from these lines.  They can tell you what is new, what itineraries have changed, or have been added, AND what specials we have to offer!  We’ve worked with these people for a very long time and we are fortunate to have them in our office to meet with our clients (both long-time and new clients).

If you are in the Dallas Ft.Worth area, we hope you will join us, along with Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Viking Cruises on Saturday, February 1, 2014 from 11am to 2pm in our office at 14464 Midway Road, Dallas 75244.

< more details, click here >

Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Viking River

Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Viking River

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Filed under Celebrity Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, Our events, Princess Cruises, River Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Viking Cruises, Viking River Cruises

Viviers, France

by John Lane

A dreary day, but great time on the Rhone River

We are floating up the Rhone towards Lyon and enjoying every minute of it.
Avignon was our second stop and the Palais de Papes (Palace of the Popes)
dominates the city.   This walled city dates back to the 14th century and I
always wonder how they built all this stuff so many years ago. Shopping and
sidewalk cafes dot the streets and we enjoyed all.   I enjoyed a typical
french lunch at a local restaurant compliments of Tauck which they gave
each guest 20 Euros to immerse themselves in the local French food…and
we did it was wonderful.

Viviers, Fr

Viviers – unique trees lining the street into the city center

Viviers, a small ancient city of about 4,000 is a maze of small
cobblestone streets and not much life as most of the people have left the
town and moved to the countryside.   We did visit a local potter and
purchased two bowls that would of cost three times the cost in the U.S.   I
will enjoy those and put the chocolate sauce, carmel or basil mustard that I bought in Avignon in them…YUM! Lyon will be our last stop and hoping for better weather but on the river all things are good and relaxing!

Note: John is onboard the Swiss Emerald with Tauck River Cruises this week, sailing from Arles to Lyon, France and will be posting blog updates as his time allows; check back for more!

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Filed under European River Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, River Cruises, Tauck European River Cruise

A Day in Arles

by John Lane

Who would of thought that a Roman Ampitheater would be in the middle of Arles in Southern France?   Arles, the southernArles amphitheater most point of our Rhone River cruise, became a Roman colony in 49 BC when Julius Caesar took over the region.   Arles is also known for Van Gogh.  He settled here in 1888 and entered into his period of uniques light colors of the region.

Camargue, outside of the city, is Western Europe’s largest river delta and home of more than 400 species of birds including the pink flamingo.   The famous Camargue black bull and the Camargue white horse are also found here.

A wonderful walking tour of the city in the morning and a “Tauck exclusive” afternoon at the ranch of the Laurent Family where we dined on a provencal lunch and watched the bulls and horses in action.   It was a truly amazing day in Arles.

Note:  John is onboard the Swiss Emerald with Tauck River Cruises this week, sailing from Arles to Lyon, France and will be posting blog updates as his time allows; check back for more!

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Filed under European River Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, River Cruises, Tauck European River Cruise

Tauck River Cruise – Initial Impressions

by John Lane

Elegant was the first thing that came to mind once I entered the Swiss Emerald of Tauck River Cruises. The two-story reception area with the marble floors, rich woods, and crystal chandelier greet you as if you are in a fine hotel. The dining room and lounge are forward from the reception; the staterooms and bistro are aft.

Tauck interior

Elegant Interior of Tauck Swiss Emerald

My junior suite (cabin 302) is one of the nicest cabins I have ever had.
There is plenty of closet space with a safe, mini bar, and plenty of nice wooden hangers. A queen size bed with nice reading lights, along with a glass top dressing table and then a table and two chairs are situated in front of the french balcony. The marble and granite bathroom are what I would consider one of the best I have had on a cruise. Molton Brown toiletries, thick towels, and blow dryer await you.

I have found a good friend in the self serve coffee/cappucino/espresso machine in the bistro. It is open 24 hours and offers continental breakfast in the morning starting at 6 am and later a light lunch; cookies, tea, coffee are available 24 hours. A bistro dinner is served each evening and you must make your reservation by 2 pm to be one of the lucky ones to dine in this small venue. But more on the food later. Today we will explore Arles, our first port, and learn more about “cultural immersion”, as Tauck calls it.

Note:  John is onboard the Swiss Emerald this week, sailing from Arles to Lyon, France and will be posting blog updates as his time allows; check back for more!

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Filed under European River Cruises, River Cruises, Tauck European River Cruise

Heartland River Cruises

America’s heartland will again be the home of two riverboats from two different cruise lines this year. American Cruise Line and The Great America Steamboat Company will offer 3 to 10 day voyages on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennesee and Cumberland Rivers.

The Queen is back! The American Queen (formerly of Delta Queen Steamboat) will enter service in April of this year under the flag of The Great America Steamboat Company. The American Queen, the larger of the two paddle wheelers, can accommodate 436 guests. Included in the voyage fare is a luxury one night hotel stay and transfers, select shore excursions and complimentary wine and beer with dinner.

American Cruise Line’s Queen of the Mississippi will be the first authentic overnight paddle wheeler built for the Mississippi in the last twenty years. She will enter service this August. Queen of the Mississippi will have the largest staterooms ranging from 300 to 600 square feet with 85% of those having private balconies with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors. She will offer six spacious lounges, American cuisine from the regions you travel. The Queen of the Mississippi will accommodate 150 guests with an all American crew. Complimentary cocktails, wine and beer with lunch and dinner are included along with daily high tea!

Both of these offer great itineraries to the heartland of America. Now is the time to see the great heartland of America on one of these fine paddle wheelers.

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Filed under American Queen Steamboat, River Cruises

River Cruise 101….

Although they have been in the marketplace for many years, river cruises (mainly in Europe) have exploded in popularity in the last few years.

European river cruiseSo what is a “river cruise” and why have they become so much in demand?          First, a river cruise reaches inland destinations, not possible for ocean ships.      This means that you very often “dock” in the heart of town and can walk directly  into the center of each day’s destination.  It also means that you have continuous    scenerywhen you are cruising, often some of the highlights of the itinerary, such as castles along the Rhine!  You are also guaranteed a view from every  accommodation as all staterooms are oceanview (or maybe we should say  ‘riverview’), there are no interior cabins.  Lastly, and perhaps the most notable point, the pricing is virtually all-inclusive:  shore excursions and wine with  lunch & dinner are included!

Needless to say, after having taking numerous ‘deep water’ cruises over the past 25 years, I was quite excited to embark on my first river cruise.  Our itinerary was “Tulip Time” through Holland and Belgium with an April 5 departure date on Avalon Waterways. Continue reading

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Filed under European River Cruises, River Cruises