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MORE EUROPE FOR WINDSTAR IN 2020

MORE EUROPE FOR WINDSTAR IN 2020

You can do a European cruise or you can really see Europe. With our partner Windstar Cruises, you can do both. And we’re happy to say that in 2020 they’re upping their game.

The small ship cruise line just announced its an in-depth exploration of Europe in 2020, featuring a variety of itineraries sailing through the Baltic, Norwegian, North, Tyrrhenian, and Mediterranean seas visiting hidden harbors and small ports of call not accessible by larger cruise ships. There are new and returning ports in Greece, Turkey (plus overnights in Istanbul), Israel, and Egypt – along with new ports of call in Cyprus, France, and Iceland – 2020 promises to be a chance to discover Europe like never before. Windstar’s 312-passenger Star Legend will debut in Europe in July of 2020 and sail in the region through November after an extensive renovation as part of the line’s comprehensive $250 Million Star Plus Initiative, featuring the addition of 50 new suites, two restaurants, an enhanced spa and fitness center, an elevated pool, and several other upgrades on board each of the line’s three Star Class ships. 

Despite the diverse array of new European ports, Windstar’s Director of Itinerary Planning Jess Peterson is most excited for the Sail Amsterdam Celebration in 2020. “Windstar’s Wind Surf, the largest sailing cruise ship in the world, will be anchored in the company of legendary sailing ships over three days at Sail Amsterdam, a global event that only occurs every five years,” Peterson explained, adding that Windstar is the only commercial cruise line to offer this one-of-a-kind experience. “The ship will be in Amsterdam proper, which allows guests to view the event from on land and on board and will be the ultimate viewing location for the parade of dozens of unique sailing vessels, with fireworks displays overhead.”

Also of note in 2020, is not one but two epic European voyages. These 60+ day itineraries are port-intensive journeys with few days spent at sea. One itinerary aboard Wind Surf will include the Sail Amsterdam experience outlined above. It begins in Sweden and ends in Italy, visiting 48 total ports in 20 countries over 62 days in Northern Europe and the western and central Mediterranean. Another itinerary will sail from Iceland to Greece over 66 days aboard the newly reimagined Star Legend, visiting 53 ports in Iceland, Faroe Islands, Scotland, Norway, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Malta, Greece, and Turkey.

Other new itinerary highlights for Windstar’s Europe 2020 Season include:

Rome & Grand Prix of Monaco returns onboard Wind Surf. Because the ship is the largest commercial sailing ship in the world, she’ll make a scene-stealing arrival in glamorous Monte Carlo. The itinerary will explore unique small ports like Portofino, Bastia, and Saint Raphael. For the first time in 2020, this themed cruise will also be a portion of a longer sailing, meaning guests can pair the experience with another cruise.

Quintessential Croatia will be a James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection sailing, with eight days aboard Wind Surf from Venice to Venice while Autumn on the Atlantic Coast will boast the cultural ports of Bilbao, Spain; Bordeaux, France; and Honfleur, France – a maiden port for Windstar that has been heralded as “the prettiest harbor in all of France.” This cruise will also be a James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection offering.

Greece, Israel & Egypt: Footsteps of Faith in the Holy Lands will include Windstar’s return to Cypress; Haifa and Ashdod in Israel; and Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt after a several-year absence from each. Late nights/overnights mean that guests can arrange overland tours to Petra, Jerusalem, and even Cairo and the Egyptian Pyramids.

Greece via the Corinth Canal & Turkey: The Marvels of Ancient Rivals will witness the first-ever Windstar visit to Lemnos, Greece, the return of Windstar to Istanbul after a several-year absence (and an overnight), as well as the lovely “old Venetian harbor” of Chania on Crete. Also notable is the transit of the Corinth Canal – a legendary passage only small ships like Windstar’s Star Legend can negotiate.

Ancient Epicenters in Autumn via the Corinth Canal will be an interesting journey from Athens to Rome with stops in Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Valletta, Malta; and transit of the famed Corinth Canal.

Eire with Fire & Ice: Ireland and Iceland’s Overlooked Treasures will access natural destinations inaccessible to larger ships as well as make a first-ever stop in Djupivogur, Iceland (the gateway to the Jokulsarion Glacier Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular attractions).

Fado Folksongs, Tapas & Crystal: Portugal, Spain, Britain & Ireland promises unique stops in Isles of Scilly, England (known for the best and most unspoiled beaches in Cornwall), along with Fishguard, Whales and Waterford, Ireland.

Booking is now open for Europe 2020 on more than 80 itineraries on 116 cruise dates throughout the season, with rates starting at $2,399 per person, double occupancy. The majority of cruise departures in Europe are aboard Wind Surf, Wind Star, and Star Legend, with a limited number of sailings available as early as February 20 and as late as November 20, 2020 on board the Star-Plus renovated Star Breeze and Star Pride.

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

OUR FAVORITE SHIPBOARD DINING SPOTS

OUR FAVORITE SHIPBOARD DINING SPOTS

Dining on a European river cruise or Mississippi river cruise is almost certainly going to be one of the highlights of your voyage. While we try not to play favorites, we must admit that there are a few river cruise dining experiences that really stand out. We have a feeling you will enjoy them as much as we do.

We adore The Chef’s Table on any of AmaWaterways ships. Join a few of your fellow travelers at The Chef’s Table, where the fully visible kitchen becomes part of the entertainment. You’ll have the opportunity to watch the chef prepare a special, multi-course meal right in front of you. The menu here is unique, making this a truly distinct gastronomic experience. Indulge in delectable dishes paired with unlimited fine wines, hand selected just for this dinner. You’ll need reservations but don’t worry because everyone aboard gets their chance. We always try to dine at The Chef’s Table on the last night of our voyage. It ends the cruise on a culinary high note.

If you want to step back in time the J. M. White Dining Room on American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen is just the ticket. With its ornate fretwork and galleries rising two decks high framed by narrow, Victorian-draped windows, this elegant room is one of our favorites because it feels completely authentic. It’s easy to imagine you’re drifting along the Mississippi with Mark Twain as a charming table companion 125 years ago. Along the way, indulge in Southern favorites like bourbon pecan pie, Cajun shrimp and cheese grits, spicy gumbo, fried green tomatoes and, of course, a refreshing mint julep.

Maybe you’ll think we’re cheating a bit when we talk about our favorite river cruise dining spots if we include all the restaurants on Uniworld River Cruises but, to be honest, we just can’t help ourselves. You see, Uniworld boasts the only Zagat-rated restaurants on the rivers, and it shows. When dining onboard, you’ll be treated to world-class cuisine made from fresh ingredients, locally sourced from the destinations you visit. For example, a dinner menu on the Catherine, en route to Avignon, features delicacies such as cod loin in bouillabaisse jus, barigoule artichoke, broad beans and saffron potatoes; roasted rack of lamb in mustard herb crust, olive and sweet garlic sauce, eggplant mash, tomato provençale and boulangère potatoes; iced Montélimar nougat parfait with red berry sauce; and French lemon tart with homemade melon ice cream. Delicious!

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

WHAT IS VAT?

WHAT IS VAT?

When sailing on your dream European river cruise, the chances are that you’re going to do some shopping. Maybe a lot of shopping. But when you do, you’ll discover a little thing called VAT which can be confusing if you’re not in the know. Let us help you become a savvy shopper and get the refunds you’re due. 

The Value Added Tax, or VAT, in the European Union is a general, broadly based consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. It applies more or less to all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the European Union. You’ll find that a standard VAT is about 15% to 25% depending on the specific country and it’s added to everything from a hotel bill or restaurant bill to a small purchase at a boutique or a ticket to a museum.

However, goods that are sold for export or services sold to customers abroad are normally not subject to VAT. That means that if you’re bringing goods back into the United States, you can often get a VAT refund. Getting a VAT refund is, quite frankly, a hassle. We’re not huge shoppers so we don’t find it worth the time and effort. But if you plan on buying thousands of dollars in jewelry or electronic equipment, it might be worth your while to seek a refund. The VAT you pay on hotels, meals or other services is not refundable. Only merchandise qualifies for a VAT refund, but the process can be rather complicated. So, what to do?

1 – Bring your passport with you when shopping. 

2 – Ask the merchant if they participate in VAT refunds. 

3 – If they do, ask the merchant to fill out the required tax-free form and then attach your receipt to the form as you leave .

4 – Some stores will work with you at the time of purchase to get you a refund by asking that once the forms are stamped at the border, you mail them back to them and they can then credit your charge card at a later date.

5 – If a store does not work with you on-site for a VAT refund, bring all your paperwork and receipts of your major purchases (in most cases, each individual purchase must exceed a set amount ranging as high as $300 depending on the specific country) to the airport or border crossing.

6 – For purchases made in the European Union, you can’t collect a VAT refund until you depart the last country in the European Union.

7 – Get your documents stamped at customs as you leave Europe but be prepared for long lines of others doing the same thing.

8 – Be prepared to show the goods you’ve purchased if you are asked to do so by the customs officer; if your purchases are not in your carry-on luggage, don’t check your bags until you’ve completed this step.

9 – If the merchant belongs to a refund service, you’ll need to find the desk for that service at the airport or border crossing; Global Blue and Premier Tax Free are the most common.

10 – You may get a cash refund right then and there from a refund service or you might have to then mail the documents to the refund service.

11 – Be patient, because it can take several weeks or even months before a VAT refund shows up on your credit card or a check arrives in the mail.

12 – Remember that your refund will be paid in the same currency used for the purchase, such as the Euro, which means you will pay a currency exchange fee in order to convert the payment to US dollars.

Hopefully this information helps shed light on this process. Select Waterways will be glad to provide more details when you travel on a European river cruise.

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

LUCKY SEVEN

LUCKY SEVEN

Recently, the world of Europe river cruises got a lot more interesting when Viking River Cruises welcomed the latest additions to its river fleet, with the naming of seven new river ships during a celebration on the Rhine River in Basel, Switzerland. Of the seven ships, six are Viking Longships (Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, Viking Tir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali) which will be deployed on Viking’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. The seventh new ship, Viking Helgrim, was inspired by the Longships design and built specifically for the Douro River, bringing the company’s total number of sister ships in Portugal to four.

“We began hosting guests on the rivers of Russia 22 years ago, and we have always done things differently. We focus on the destination, and we provide travel experiences that allow our guests to learn, to enrich their lives and to explore the world in comfort. It is ‘The Viking Difference’ that has made us the leading river cruise line in the world – and has helped river cruising become one of the fastest-growing segments of travel,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “As the leader, it is also important that we recognize those who have helped us achieve success. This year I am especially proud to honor members of the Viking family as godmothers of our newest river ships.”

In keeping with a maritime tradition that dates back thousands of years, Viking invited seven long-serving employees and important members of the company’s family to serve as honorary godmothers of the new ships. Leah Talactac served as godmother of Viking Einar, Natalia Hofmann as godmother of Viking Helgrim, Wendy Atkin-Smith as godmother of Viking Sigrun, Rikke Semb Pertile as godmother of Viking Sigyn, Gisela Rückert as godmother of Viking Tir, Linh Banh as godmother of Viking Ullur and Minxuan Zhao as godmother of Viking Vali.

The naming event was executed by connecting the new ships via satellite across four European cities. Viking Einar and Viking Sigrun were docked in Basel and named in-person by their godmothers. The other five ships were “virtually” named by their godmothers: Viking Sigyn and Viking Ullur in Rostock, Germany; Viking Tir and Viking Vali in Brunsbüttel, Germany; and Viking Helgrim in Porto, Portugal.

In keeping with another maritime tradition, a bottle of Gammel Opland aquavit was broken on the bow of each new ship. Gammel Opland hails from the same county in Norway where Chairman Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild, also lovingly known as “Mamsen”, was born and was her favorite brand of aquavit. Following the naming event, guests enjoyed dinner at Basel’s Fondation Beyeler museum, set amid the museum’s newest and most ambitious exhibition: The Young Picasso – Blue and Rose Periods. Guests were also treated to a performance by Alma Deutscher, the 14-year-old English composer, pianist, violinist and child prodigy who is a favorite of Chairman Hagen’s.

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

ALASKA BY SMALL SHIP

ALASKA BY SMALL SHIP

It used to be that there were only two ways to see Alaska. You either had to go by a megaship carrying as many as 4,000 people or on a tiny ship with fewer than 100 but with few amenities. Fortunately, we’ve found the perfect balance with Windstar Cruises and their Alaska cruises by luxury small-ship. Here’s a sample of what you can share with only 200 like-minded travelers on a 12-night roundtrip Alaska cruise from Vancouver.

VANCOUVER

Vancouver’s location at the mouth of the Fraser River and on the waterways of the Strait of Georgia, Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet and all their tributaries makes this busy seaport an easy place for meeting. It is one of Canada’s most populated, most ethnically diverse cities and a popular filming location. Visit the interesting neighborhoods of Gastown, Granville Island and Chinatown. Walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge and stroll through Stanley Park. Roam the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology. There is an amazing variety of things to see and do here.

SCENIC CRUISING CANADIAN INSIDE PASSAGE

Cruise the fjords of Canada’s Inside Passage, which boast centuries-old coastal rainforests, beaches, waterfalls and mountains. Over 25,000 miles of rugged coastline lie in Canada’s Inside Passage, joining Alaska’s 15,000 miles of inside waters and providing a safe and sheltered West Coast waterway transit.  In this isolated wilderness look for coastal First Nations longhouses fronted with proud totems and a variety of marine life, from orcas and porpoises to some of the largest populations of bald eagles in the world.

METLAKATLA, ALASKA

Located on Annette Island, 15 miles southwest of Ketchikan and midway in the Inside Passage 600 miles from Seattle, Washington and 600 miles from Skagway, Alaska, Metlakatla is the only settlement of the indigenous Tsimshian people in the U.S.  Membership in this community is by Tsimshian lineage but may also include other Alaska Native tribes who wish to join. Visitors to the community can take in dance and song shows in the longhouse performed by local dancers dressed in full Tsimshian regalia.

WRANGELL, ALASKA

One of the oldest towns in Alaska, Wrangell is located near the mouth of the Stikine River. Much of its history can be seen in the impressive collection of totems scattered throughout the town. Highlights here are the amazing Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park, where you can find primitive rock carvings, and just 30 miles away the Anan Wildlife Observatory with the largest pink salmon runs in the Inside Passage as well as a platform from which you can look for eagles, harbor seals and black bears.

SCENIC CRUISING TRACY ARM / ENDICOTT ARM, ALASKA

Stunningly beautiful Tracy Arm is a fjord 45 miles south of Juneau that actually consists of two deep and narrow fjords – Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. Both fjords are over 30 miles long. At the end of Tracy Arm are the impressive twin Sawyer Glaciers. Wildlife in the area includes black and brown bears, deer, wolves, harbor seals and a variety of birds. What you’ll be able to see today and how far we can travel up Tracy Arm is weather and ice dependent.

SCENIC CRUISING INIAN ISLANDS / ICY STRAIT POINT

Managed by the Forest Service, these scenic Inian Islands are located in Icy Strait near the entrance to Glacier Bay. Several small pieces of land make up these islands, with dense tree growth that provides a restful home to deer. This has become a popular area for sea kayaking.

ICY STRAIT POINT, (HOONAH) ALASKA

Privately owned Icy Strait Point is a tourist destination and the only privately owned cruise destination in Alaska. It is the property of 1,350 Alaskan natives with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area. Visitors here enjoy an educational experience learning about Alaska’s native cultures, and the natural history of the region. There is much to do here including a brown bear search, tram excursion, flightseeing over Glacier Bay and the biggest zipline in the United States.

JUNEAU, ALASKA

Located on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, Juneau sits at sea level below steep mountains between 3,500-4,000 feet high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow, and two of them – Mendenhall Glacier and Lemon Creek Glacier – are visible from the local road. A unique feature of Juneau is that it is the only U.S. capital that has no roads connecting it to the rest of the state.

MISTY FJORDS, ALASKA

Misty Fjords, with its gorgeous views of natural formations, is a national monument and wilderness area with steep valleys formed by glaciers and lava flows. It is part of the Tongass National Forest and is about 40 miles east of Ketchikan along the Inside Passage. With its icy blue lakes, waterfalls, snowcapped peaks and glacial valleys literally everywhere you point your camera you will get a postcard picture, depending on the weather of course. For a more up-close opportunity in this beautiful scenic sanctuary, optional expeditions excursions will be available.

KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

Dubbed the Salmon Capital of the World, Ketchikan is the southeastern-most town in Alaska and is home to the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, which are found throughout the city and at four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park and the Totem Heritage Center. Other attractions of Ketchikan are Creek Street, a boardwalk road built on pilings over Ketchikan Creek, and the Waterfront Promenade, which skirts the bustling shoreline with inviting whale-tail benches to take in the view.

PRINCE RUPERT, BC, CANADA

Picturesque Prince Rupert, located on Kaien Island just north of the mouth of the Skeena River, is rich in culture and heritage. Prince Rupert was founded in 1910 on a site that has been inhabited by First Nations people for over 10,000 years. The area teems with wildlife like whales, eagles, salmon and grizzly bears.

SCENIC CRUISING CANADIAN INSIDE PASSAGE

Cruise the fjords of Canada’s Inside Passage, which boast centuries-old coastal rainforests, beaches, waterfalls and mountains. Over 25,000 miles of rugged coastline lie in Canada’s Inside Passage, joining Alaska’s 15,000 miles of inside waters and providing a safe and sheltered West Coast waterway transit.  In this isolated wilderness, look for coastal First Nations longhouses fronted with proud totems and a variety of marine life, from orcas and porpoises to some of the largest populations of bald eagles in the world.

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA

Return to Vancouver and bring your Alaska adventure to a close. It’s time to call Select Waterways and book your next voyage with Windstar Cruises!

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.