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River Cruise French Balcony


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 Suite Ships cabin

Avalon Waterways Suite Class French Balcony


AMA Waterways split balcony

AMA Waterways French Balcony (left) and Outside Balcony (right)


Viking River Cruises balcony cabin

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!!

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July is River Cruise Month!

by Don McCann

AMA generic

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….

  1. Now is the best time to book for next year, 2017; river cruises fill far in advance
  2. Most lines have advance booking discounts which will expire soon
  3. 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!!!

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Sip & Sail? Yes, Please!

Princess Sip and Sail logo

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.

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New Ship: Koningsdam

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……

Koningsdam ship

Koningsdam Atrium

Koningsdam Blend



Koningsdam Canaletto


Koningsdam Crows Nest 2


Koningsdam Crows Nest


Koningsdam Culinary


Koningsdam Dining Room



Koningsdam Lido


Koningsdam Pinnacle Grill




Koningsdam pizza & deli


Koningsdam pool


Koningsdam Queens Lounge


Koningsdam Sel De Mer


Koningsdam Verandah


Koningsdam Vista Suite


Koningsdam Pinnacle Suite

CE phone tag 2016 contact us

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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

Celebrity Cruises to Europe

Celebrity photo Santorini

Many people want to take a European cruise, but sometimes they don’t know what it costs.  Well this year is a great time to take a cruise in Europe and we’ve put together a rate summary to give you some idea of the current pricing.  All rates are per person; airfare & taxes are not included, but as you can see, there are some really attractive rates right now!  Take a look and contact us for details.  You could be saying arrivederci in no time!!!

CEL grid Eur Mar16

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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