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BUILDING A MISSISSIPPI RIVER PADDLEWHEELER

BUILDING A MISSISSIPPI RIVER PADDLEWHEELER

To us, there are few things more fascinating than the construction of a riverboat. How is it built? Why is it designed as it is? And what does it look like under construction? In today’s blog, we wanted to give you an insider’s peek at American Queen Steamboat Company’s new American Countess, which is under construction right now AT Gulf Island Shipyards in Houma, Louisiana, as she is readied for her Mississippi River cruises debut in April 2020.

The latest addition to American Queen Steamboat Company’s fleet of authentic paddlewheelers and the newest on U.S. rivers, the American Countess offers many of the same exciting heartland and deep South itineraries as her sisters the American Queen and American Duchess. Built from an existing hull that was once the casino riverboat Kanesville Queen, the American Countess is undergoing a significant reconstruction, including lengthening the boat by 60 feet to a final figure of 361 feet from stem to stern. When the paddlewheeler is finished, 245 guests will enjoy the signature distinctions that have made American Queen Steamboat Company the most award-winning river cruise line in America.

A total of 98 crew will be at the beck and call of the guests and they’re sure to be proud of their new vessel. In her previous life as the Kanesville Queen, she boasted an 1,800-horsepower engine and three Z-drives (imagine an outboard motor mounted underneath the ship that can swivel 360 degrees). As American Countess, a 2,000-horsepower red paddlewheel is being added, as well as a bow thruster to help maneuver in and out of small towns along the rivers.

With four decks, including a Sun Deck, and 123 comfortable, inviting staterooms in four categories, this new paddlewheeler will become a home away from home on 6- to 15-day itineraries, including her own epic Mighty Mississippi cruise. Cabins feature a sleek and modern design that will provide guests with the perfect place to relax after enjoying an included shore excursion or an evening Broadway-caliber performance presented in the Theater onboard.

As an award-winning culinary team takes full advantage of each region’s diverse bounty of fresh, local ingredients to fashion authentic dishes, gracious staff will charm guests with friendly, courteous attention in the Grand Dining Room. A more casual atmosphere will be offered in the River Grill, which allows guests to dine at their own pace.

It will be easy to stay active onboard the American Countess in her well-appointed Fitness Center, while the Card Room will provide a perfect spot for guests to mingle with fellow travelers and newfound friends.

It may be a bit hard to tell from these construction photos, but the American Countess is sure to be another stunning paddlewheel riverboat from American Queen Steamboat Company.  Enjoying a U.S. river cruise will never be better. We can’t wait to see her!

We invite you to experience Mississippi River cruises from the decks of the American Countess. 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.

WORLD’S FIRST EXPEDITION WORLD CRUISE

WORLD’S FIRST EXPEDITION WORLD CRUISE

Silversea Cruises continues to push boundaries with the announcement of the world’s first ever Expedition World Cruise in 2021. Fully inclusive, the cruise is unprecedented with regards to the scope of immersive experiences on offer because the itinerary is crafted to connect the most rewarding travel experiences around the planet. This experience-focused expedition will appeal to those with a passion for discovery, who like to stay active on their travels, and continue to challenge their own sense of adventure. From Ushuaia to Tromsø, the 167-day voyage will call at 107 of the planet’s most amazing destinations, in 30 must-visit countries—including six new ports of call for Silversea (Naxos, Folegandros, Nafpaktos, Ksamil, Bejaïa, and Fort William).

This highly experiential expedition will enable guests to engage with remote destinations through hands-on exploration; immersive shore excursions, which are included; informative lectures from Silversea’s Expedition Team; and featured lectures from many world-class experts, including, among others, the inspirational Felicity Aston MBE—a recipient of the Polar Medal and the first and only woman to cross Antarctica alone—and Tim Severin—a world-renowned explorer who has retraced the storied journeys of Saint Brendan the Navigator, Sindbad the Sailor, Jason and the Argonauts, Ulysses, The First Crusade, and Genghis Khan. Guests will enjoy a private dinner on London Tower Bridge’s walkway, an exclusive Viking feast in Kjarnaskogur Forest in Iceland, and a number of other bespoke events around the world. Moreover, for a segment of this innovative World Cruise, Silversea’s Senior Vice President of Expedition and Destinations Experiences, Conrad Combrink, will feature as Expedition Leader, enriching the voyage for guests.

Departing Ushuaia on January 30, 2021, Silversea’s ultra-luxurious ice-class crossover, Silver Cloud, will journey between Antarctica’s highlight destinations, before setting course for Chile’s Valparaiso via the Chilean Fjords. Subsequently, guests will set sail for Papeete, Tahiti, via Easter Island and the fabled Pitcairn Island, before voyaging towards Lautoka, Fiji. Calls in a number of other iconic destinations in Oceania—including remote exploration stops in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea—precede guests’ arrival in Cairns, Australia, which then leads to the Kimberley Coast. Guests will subsequently unlock various destinations in Indonesia, before arriving in Singapore. Next, Silver Cloud will set sail for Sumatra, Sri Lanka and Cochin, India, prior to reaching Piraeus (Athens), Lisbon, and Reykjavik. Part of an emphatic conclusion, guests aboard Silversea’s 2021 Expedition World Cruise will then explore the highlights of Iceland, ahead of calls in the Svalbard Region and the voyage’s conclusion in Tromsø, Norway, on July 16, 2021.

There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world of expedition cruises and we’d love to help find you the cruise (and adventure) that’s the perfect fit just for you.

SMALL SHIPS GET BIGGER… AND NICER

SMALL SHIPS GET BIGGER… AND NICER

At Select Waterways, we’re the experts in river and small ship cruises but, we freely admit, the definition of “small ship” is rather amorphous.  Thirty years ago, for example, of 70,000-ton ship was a megaship. Today, it is considered midsized or even small. However, we prefer to define the term “small ship” by the number of passengers carried. While we generally prefer ships of under 500 guests, we make a few exceptions. Hurtigruten offers a small ship feeling even though their ships carry as many as 600 people but thanks to the expedition itineraries and voyages in the Norwegian fjords, the entire experience feels more intimate.

Likewise, luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas and upper premium cruise line Oceania Cruises carry more than 500 guests per ship but have created vessels so spacious and service so personalized, you feel as if you’re on your own yacht.  While Oceania has two newer ships that carry 1,250 guests, we gravitate toward their fleet of four older vessels that carry 684 lucky travelers each. Regent Seven Seas has settled on about 700 to 750 guests as its standard size and we find that ideal as well. And for both companies, there’s big news this year.

First, Oceania Cruises has committed to a major refurbishment program for its four smaller ships, redoing them from stem to stern and keel to funnel. Amazingly, the staterooms and suites have been stripped to the bare walls and rebuilt, so while the changes appear cosmetic, they are more than skin deep. We were invited to a special preview of the first ship to get the special treatment, the Insignia, and can tell you first hand that the ship is lighter, brighter, more contemporary and more luxurious. In its previous guise, the Insignia had a warm glow but now she boasts a sophisticated sparkle.

Regent, which has six ships including the acclaimed 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer introduced in 2016, has not only one sister ship, Seven Seas Splendor, on order for delivery in 2020, but just announced a third sister ship for a 2023 debut. Building on the success of its predecessors, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newest addition will continue to set the standard for defining elegance at sea. Accommodating up to 750 guests, the intimate and spacious new ship will be the brand’s sixth-all-suite vessel. Details regarding her itineraries, accommodations, dining venues, amenities and onboard experiences will be revealed leading up to her 2023 debut. Voyages for the ship’s inaugural season will go on sale in 2021.

So, it’s safe to say that there are a lot of exciting things happening among small ships and we’re eager to help you select the voyage that is just right for you.

TIPS ON TIPPING

TIPS ON TIPPING

We’re all used to tipping in a shoreside restaurant, tipping a valet or tipping the porter at the airport,  but tipping on a river cruise seems far more intimidating when, in fact, it couldn’t be simpler.

SHIPBOARD STAFF

On every voyage offered by Select Waterways, you really don’t have to worry about a thing. All lines will automatically take care of charging gratuities with no need for you to feel like you need to slip a staff member some cash for every special request. Many will charge a daily rate for gratuities to your onboard account. Depending on the cruise line, this amount may vary from as little as $12 to as much as $25 per person per day. Once aboard, you simply let the purser know this is how you would like to handle tipping.

But we suggest you go the pre-paid gratuities route. These days, most lines will simply add the cost of gratuities to your fare at the time you pay for your booking—the ship is notified that you have pre-paid gratuities, and there’s nothing else you need to do. It’s completely hassle-free and the service is so exceptional you won’t even blink at the gratuity surcharge.

BUS DRIVERS AND SHORE EXCURSION GUIDES

Though not everyone does, we find it’s nice to extend a small gratuity to your motorcoach driver and tour guide following a shore excursion. Keeping in mind that in most cases on our voyages the shore excursions are included, it feels nice to reward those who made your day ashore so pleasant. We usually reserve $1 to $2 per person for the driver and $2 to $5 per person for the tour guide. Tip at the low end for half-day excursions and the higher end for full day excursions.

If you’re dissatisfied with the experience don’t tip at all. Fortunately, we’ve only encountered that situation once in all our years of travel, in Tunis, when a tour guide was reluctant to follow the itinerary and take us to the ruins of Carthage. On some luxury lines, you’ll find that tipping of any kind is discouraged entirely so follow the lead of your cruise line’s guidelines and your fellow guests.

SHIPBOARD BARTENDERS

On most of the river cruises in the Select Waterways collections, onboard beverages are either completely complimentary or offered at no charge at certain times, such as champagne, Bloody Mary and mimosas at breakfast, and wine and beer at lunch and dinner. When the beverage is included, there’s no need to tip. If you buy a top shelf drink with a charge, the gratuity is usually included in the bill when you sign it to your shipboard account. Once aboard ship, you need carry no cash at all.

PORTERS

This can get tricky. When traveling independently, we always extend a small tip of $1 to $2 per bag to those who transfer our bags to or from our rooms in a hotel, at the airport or when boarding or disembarking a ship. However, keep in mind that a great many of the cruises featured by Select Waterways are so all-inclusive that if they include transfers between airports, hotels and ships, you won’t be expected to tip at all since all costs are covered by the cruise line.

DEAD FISH FOR FUEL AT HURTIGRUTEN

DEAD FISH FOR FUEL AT HURTIGRUTEN

Hurtigruten, the world’s largest expedition cruise operator, has invested heavily in green technology, including battery solutions, and is considered the world’s greenest cruise company.  Their next step in small ship expedition cruising is a bit fishy though. Yep, they are planning on powering their cruise ships with liquefied biogas (LBG)—fossil-free, renewable gas produced from dead fish and other organic waste.

“What others see as a problem, we see as a resource and a solution. By introducing biogas as fuel for cruise ships, Hurtigruten will be the first cruise company to power ships with fossil-free fuel,” Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam says.

Renewable biogas is a clean source of energy, considered the eco-friendliest fuel currently available. Biogas is already used as fuel in small parts of the transport sector, especially in buses. Both Northern Europe and Norway, the latter of which has large fishery and forestry sectors that produce a steady volume of organic waste, have a unique opportunity to become a world leader in biogas production.

“While competitors are running on cheap and polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO), our ships will literally be powered by nature. Biogas is the greenest fuel in shipping and will be a huge advantage for the environment. We would love other cruise companies to follow,” Skjeldam says.

But that’s not all, folks! After celebrating their 125-year anniversary by being the first cruise line to ban single-use plastic, 2019 will mark two green milestones for Hurtigruten. The first is the introduction of the world’s first hybrid-electric powered cruise ship, Roald Amundsen, custom built for sustainable operations in some of the world’s most pristine waters such as Antarctica.  The second is the start of a large-scale green upgrade project, replacing traditional diesel propulsion with battery packs and gas engines on several Hurtigruten ships. In addition to liquified natural gas (LNG), these vessels will also be the first cruise ships in the world to run on liquefied biogas (LBG). By 2021, Hurtigruten plans to operate at least six of its ships using biogas and batteries, combined with LNG.

There are more than 300 cruise ships in the world, many of them running on cheap and polluting HFO. The daily emissions from one single mega cruise ship can be equivalent to one million cars. That’s one reason that Hurtigruten is currently building three hybrid electric-powered expedition cruise ships at Norway’s Kleven Yard. Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen, and the third, still unnamed sister, will be delivered in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Hurtigruten expects to invest more than 850 million USD in building the world’s greenest cruise line. Hurtigruten is the world’s largest expedition cruise line, and that comes with a responsibility. Sustainability will be a key driver for the new era of shipping and the travel industry. Hurtigruten’s investments in green technology and innovation set a new standard and are the cornerstone of their ultimate goal to operate our ships completely emission-free.”

Though it may all sound rather ambitious, we have no doubt Hurtigruten can pull it off. If you’re looking for an Antarctica cruise, Arctic cruise or Norwegian Fjords cruise, discover environmentally-responsible expedition cruises with Hurtigruten and Select Waterways. It’s a winning combination!

CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT OF ALL

CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT OF ALL

While it may be too late for this year, it’s not too early to plan your 2019 holiday getaway to the Christmas markets of Europe, a once-in-a-lifetime river cruise that will have you feeling as jolly as St. Nick himself!

There are few experiences more joyous, more full of life and more colorful than a cruise along the Rhine or Danube during the holidays. In quaint towns and refined cities, you will find an array of Christmas markets, a European tradition that infuses each destination with the spirit of the holidays. Located in prominent parks, city squares or sometimes outside the gates of castles, Christmas markets are filled with gaily decorated stalls filled not just with one-of-a-kind gifts but also local food and drink. Best of all, although the markets draw their fair share of tourists, they are a favorite spot for locals to immerse themselves in the spirit of the season.

Share a hot mug of traditional mulled wine called glühwein with an Austrian and learn more about their land from a native’s perspective. Pop by a booth selling hand-carved egg shell ornaments, then try a slice of black forest cake with a friendly German. Sample a chocolate-laden linzer torte, a delicate dominostein, a cup of warm almonds coated in crunchy brown sugar, or tackle the best apple strudel you’ve ever tasted. Don’t leave without savoring a stein of the local beer and a fresh soft pretzel so large that you’re happy to share it with your new friends.

So as you cozy up with friends and family for the holidays this year, try not to think of what you’re missing. Instead, book your 2019 Christmas markets cruise today. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

MORE OF A GOOD THING AT WINDSTAR

MORE OF A GOOD THING AT WINDSTAR

Windstar Cruises, one of Select Waterway’s premier small ship cruise providers, is starting a major investment and expansion of the Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride. Each will be lengthened and completely refurbished, with many new features added.

The initiative will expand guest accommodations on the boutique line’s three all-suite vessels increasing capacity from 212 passengers to 312 guests per ship, following the lengthening. The work will be done to Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride in succession between October 2019 and November 2020, and take place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, Italy.

Each ship will be cut in half to allow the installation of a new section that will lengthen each vessel approximately 25.6 meters bringing the total length to just over 159 meters, still the right size to access the smaller ports and harbors that Windstar favors on the line’s immersive itineraries. The project adds 50 new suites, bringing the total number of suites per ship to 156.

The project also involves is the creation of state-of-the-art public spaces including two new dining locations; new shop and retail space; a much enlarged fitness center; and a new world-class spa.

In addition to the impressive scale of work to be done, the renovation includes a comprehensive re-engine project for each ship. This complex undertaking is an uncommon occurrence in the cruise industry and involves the removal of seven current engines and installation of four new, more environmentally friendly engines that will run on cleaner fuel and reduce emissions impact to sailing regions.

Windstar has partnered with acclaimed designer Ray Chung, Director of Design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, to create modern and inviting design aesthetics for the new public spaces and new suites.

Among new guest amenities and accommodations in the planning phase are:

  • 50 new suites featuring new suite categories and open floor plan configurations.
  • Creation of two brand new, larger Owner’s Suites, that combines existing suites to create up to a three-bedroom, two-balcony suite – the first of its kind in the cruise industry.
  • Two brand new dining experiences including: an intimate, alternative dining restaurant, and a casual barbecue space adjacent to the top deck Star Bar, perfect for outdoor grilling during Windstar’s Signature Onboard Barbecue celebration or enjoying while spending time on deck.
  • Expanded Veranda Restaurant to offer significantly more ocean-view seating and upgraded dining area.
  • For existing suites, all-new bathrooms and installation of new sliding doors for the Balcony Suites.
  • Larger pool and hot tub that will be reconfigured and elevated offering outstanding views, along with more and enhanced outdoor deck area for relaxing and sun-bathing.
  • A completely re-imagined and enlarged spa and fitness center to invigorate active guests.
  • A new elevator mid-ship, making access to all decks easy from anywhere on board.
  • A comfortable, new tender loading area located mid-ship and two new 90-passenger tenders that will ferry guests to port when ships are at anchor.
  • In addition, ship staff and crew areas and accommodations will be expanded and upgraded. Additional crew will be hired and the increase will maintain the line’s impressive 1.5:1 guest to hotel staff ratio.

Additional details about the extensive work to be done, new onboard experiences, and new partnerships will be revealed and highlighted in 2019. Keep in touch with Select Waterways to learn the details!

VICTORY FOR AMERICAN QUEEN

VICTORY FOR AMERICAN QUEEN

It turns out that mergers and acquisitions in the cruise industry aren’t just for big cruise conglomerates. American Queen Steamboat Company has just announced a definitive agreement to acquire the Victory I and sister ship Victory II from Sunstone Ships, Inc., owners of the Victory Cruise Lines brand, which is currently marketing the two ships on Great Lakes cruises, Canada/New England cruises, Cuba cruises and voyages to Mexico’s Yucatan. The deal isn’t anticipated to close until January 2019 so don’t expect any changes until then. After all, it’s a big step for fast-growing American Queen Steamboat Company. The 5,000-ton, 300-foot-long, 202-guest Victory I and Victory II are both identical and details of upcoming operations on both of vessels will be announced in the coming months.

“We are pleased to purchase the Victory I and Victory II which will fuel the continued success and growth of American Queen Steamboat Company,” said American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “We look forward to working closely with Victory Cruise Lines’ new and existing travel partners. These vessels enable us to provide guests with more diverse cruising options particularly in the Great Lakes, a region that our customers have been requesting for years.”

The Victory I and Victory II will join the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet under the Victory Cruise Lines name, alongside the flagship 436-guest American Queen and 166-guest boutique paddlewheeler American Duchess sailing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the 224-guest American Empress in the Pacific Northwest. The new 245-guest American Countess, currently under construction in Louisiana, will debut in 2020.

Victory Cruise Lines has established itself as the leading cruise line on the Great Lakes, and demand for our cruises for 2019 is already 35% grater than this year. American Queen Steamboat Company’s established and strong product and brand is well-suited to take the Victory vessels and Victory Cruise Lines brand forward creating one of the largest North American Great Lakes and U.S. River cruising companies in the country,” said Victory Cruise Lines President and CEO Hans Lagerweij. Also, Victory has a new ship on order, the 180-guest Ocean Victory for delivery in 2021, which is designed for worldwide expedition cruises, further expanding the reach of small ship cruising.

So, what does all this mean for you? It means that you can choose from cruises in America on the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, America’s Heartland, Canada/New England as well as journeys to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba all from the same company, with the promise of expedition cruising yet to come. Coastal cruises, small ship cruises, American river cruises and expedition cruises will all be under the same umbrella. And if the rave reviews of American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines are any indication, you’ll be able to do so in incomparable style as well!

Give Select Waterways a call and let us help you navigate the abundant new world of small ship and river cruising.

5 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME RIVER CRUISERS

5 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME RIVER CRUISERS

Have you been considering U.S. river cruises, but aren’t sure which one is right for you? Riverboat cruises are a unique way to explore America’s waterways and discover the picturesque towns that have sprung up alongside them. Our friends at American Queen Steamboat Company offer a wide variety of cruises tailored to suit different interests. Now is the best time to book a ticket, but if you’re a first time river cruiser you may not know all the tips to get the most out of the experience. So, courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company, we’re passing along their five tips for taking an American river cruise.

1. Book Early for Big Savings

It’s no secret that booking early can give you access to the best deals. American Queen Steamboat Company offers an extensive range of savings for early bookings. You can find savings of up to $1,800 per stateroom on certain routes. Another advantage of booking early is that it gives you plenty of time to plan an extended vacation in one of the ports, which brings us to the next tip.

2. Extend Your Vacation in the Port

Scenic river cruises begin and end at major port cities including Memphis, New Orleans, and Chicago. Those places are amazing destinations in their own right, and many river cruisers want to explore them further. That’s why American Queen offers City Stay packages. The packages vary but may include accommodations, breakfasts and tours of local attractions. You can book for before or after your cruise. This option lets you extend your trip and experience the magical musical scene of Memphis, the history and vibrant culture of New Orleans, and more.

3. Research What is Included

Even among the riverboats of American Queen Steamboat Company, each vessel and each cruise offer different experiences, so you’ll want to do a little research to know what you can expect. Get an itinerary of the included excursions and look up the local weather before the departure date so you’ll know what to pack. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Select Waterways and we’ll be happy to help you. Your booked cruise will typically include onboard meals, porterage, and transfers. Other amenities vary by the vessel and cruise.

4. Hit the Shore with Fun Excursions

Shore excursions are what really make American river cruises stand out. Many itineraries have been customized for each cruise theme, whether it’s the Bourbon Trail or searching out America’s best music. Packages feature included and premium excursions, which cost extra but are usually well worth it. Through these, you get VIP treatment and exclusive access to attractions and sights that aren’t usually on a typical tour itinerary. They can really enhance your cruise experience.

5. Choose the Right Vessel

Each of American Queen Steamboat Company’s vessels have their own unique character and offer different amenities. You can choose the right vacation experience, whether you want a nostalgic journey through golden eras past or modern comforts and décor.  For example, the American Duchess is a charming, traditionally styled paddleboat that includes modern amenities and décor. The American Queen is the largest steamboat ever built and offers an amazing variety of onboard entertainment in opulent surroundings, while the American Empress is a paddlewheeler with nostalgic décor that combines classical elegance with an impressive collection of historical artifacts.

So, which will you choose?

THREE MORE NEW SHIPS FOR SILVERSEA

THREE MORE NEW SHIPS FOR SILVERSEA

Anyone worried that Royal Caribbean’s acquisition of the majority of luxury cruise line Silversea Cruises needn’t have worried. It’s clear Royal Caribbean is fully committed to growing and improving the renowned luxury brand. The two companies recently announced agreements to build three new ships for Silversea.

Silversea signed a memorandum of understanding with German shipbuilder Meyer Werft to build two new vessels in a new “Evolution Class.” The first Evolution-class ship is expected to be delivered in 2022.

Silversea also signed a contract with Dutch shipbuilder Shipyard De Hoop to construct a new expedition vessel, named Silver Origin, that will serve the Galapagos Islands itinerary currently sailed by Silver Galapagos. The new ship is expected for delivery in March 2020. Silversea intends to push the boundaries of ultra-luxury cruising, as well as expedition cruising in the Galápagos Islands and beyond, by redefining the concept of immersive travel.

Silversea Cruises is recognized as an innovator in the ultra-luxury cruise line industry, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Spirit and Silver Muse – all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the inclusion of the expedition ships Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos, Silver Discoverer, and with Silver Cloud recently joining the line’s expedition fleet, Silversea’s itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, both Polar Regions and hundreds of fascinating destinations in between.

Silversea also has two more ships in the Silver Muse class already on order, the Silver Moon and Silver Dawn, scheduled for delivery in 2020 and 2021. By the time all five new ships are delivered, the Silversea fleet will have grown to 14 luxury ships visiting well over 700 ports of call each year.

With so many options, which ship and destination will you choose?

AMAWATERWAYS TEES UP EXCLUSIVE CONCIERGE GOLF PROGRAM

AMAWATERWAYS TEES UP EXCLUSIVE CONCIERGE GOLF PROGRAM

AmaWaterways is teeing up an incredible roster of amenities for guests traveling on board the one-of-a-kind AmaMagna when she makes her debut next year– including a brand new Exclusive Concierge Golf Program. The program will give travelers the opportunity to experience five top-level golf courses in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic and Germany while enjoying the beauty and luxury of river cruising. Pricing starts at an additional $2,399 per person on the seven-night Romantic Danube and Melodies of the Danube itineraries beginning in May 2019.

AmaMagna embodies our invariable world-class service with even more to love, and we are thrilled to add the Exclusive Concierge Golf Program to her line-up of offerings,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “Pairing luxury river cruising with golf gives travelers the incredible opportunity to play top-rated courses in five different countries.”

In addition to the expansive selection of amenities and immersive shore excursions that travelers can expect from an AmaWaterways cruise, guests participating in AmaMagna’s Exclusive Concierge Golf Program will receive the following:

  • One Welcome Packet, which includes: a dozen Titleist Pro V1 golf balls per golfer, one pitch repair tool, course guides and a leather shoe bag
  • Concierge service, including club care
  • Private luxury Mercedes transfers between the ship and courses
  • A la carte lunch at each course with beer and wine included
  • One round per golfer at each course
  • One shared golf cart per round
  • One range token per round
  • Club cleaning after each round

AmaMagna provides excellent options for multi-generational groups or those that may have differing interests, with an avid golfer or two amongst them. She is nearly twice the width of traditional river cruise ships, but welcomes only 20 percent more guests, allowing generous personal space with more than half of the 98 staterooms designated as suites (355 sq. ft. or larger). Enticing onboard amenities include Sun Deck with a large heated pool, relaxing whirlpool and pop-up sky bar, as well as a Water Sports Platform at the rear of the ship, where complimentary tours will be offered on the intimate Sundowner vessel.

Guests on board AmaMagna will enjoy four unique dining venues – the Main Restaurant and The Chef’s Table Restaurant, plus the new Jimmy’s Wine Bar Restaurant and Al Fresco Restaurant. The expansive Zen Wellness Studio is complete with large exercise area offering group classes focused on stretching, cardio and core strengthening led by a professionally trained Wellness Host, as well as a juice bar and two massage rooms, along with manicure, pedicure and hair services.

Ready To go golfing and cruising?

AMERICA‘S FIRST ULTRA-MODERN RIVERBOAT COMPLETES SEA TRIALS

AMERICA‘S FIRST ULTRA-MODERN RIVERBOAT COMPLETES SEA TRIALS

While riverboats operating European river cruises have always been known for the sleek profiles, modern lines and contemporary touches, riverboats sailing Mississippi river cruises and journeying along other American rivers have emulated the great 19th century steamboats. Until now, that is.

American Cruise Lines’ brand new ship, American Song, has successfully passed it sea trials and is now on its way to the “Big Easy.” The first modern riverboat in U.S. history is expected to arrive in New Orleans the first week in September. American Song passed Sea Trials with flying colors and is the second new vessel completed and delivered to American Cruise Lines by Chesapeake Shipbuilding this year. American Harmony, the second modern riverboat in the series, will be completed and delivered in the first quarter of 2019.

Now that American Song’s sea trials are completed, we’re all looking forward to the ship’s inaugural cruise from New Orleans to Memphis on October 6th. American Song will cruise a full schedule of 8-day Lower Mississippi River cruises throughout the remainder of 2018 and then will reposition to the West Coast in 2019, for American Cruise Line’s Columbia and Snake Rivers cruises beginning in March.

American Song integrates modern design without sacrificing the refined comfort that American Cruise Lines is known for. Wider, faster, and quieter than any other American river cruise ship, American Song will be the most environmentally friendly ship in the industry. Showcasing gorgeous interior design elements, from a four-story glass atrium to spectacular spacious lounges, American Song will be unique. Thoughtfully designed to bring the outside world in, American Song boasts sweeping views throughout the ship. With the largest staterooms in the American river cruise industry, private furnished balconies, full-size bathrooms and all the finest amenities available in cruising, American Song is really going to be something to see!

For example, the enormous Grand Suites aboard American Song are 900 square feet and offer panoramic views through floor-to-ceiling glass panels along two walls. Each suite has a separate living and sleeping area, as well as a spacious marble bat with double vanities. The suites have wrap-around balconies featuring private outdoor dining areas, the perfect place to lounge and enjoy room service or cocktails with friends.

All staterooms aboard American Song are outfitted with personal refrigerators stocked with complimentary juices, waters, white & red wines, and Keurig coffee makers. The Grand Suites will also have extra treats delivered each evening, including a bottle of premium champagne during the cruise and access to concierge service as needed. The Grand Suites, like all spaces aboard American Song bring the outside world in through a design palette of light colors and the highest glass-to-space ratio in the industry.

GOING PLASTIC-FREE AT SEA

GOING PLASTIC-FREE AT SEA

You’ve probably noticed a lot of stories in the news recently about restaurants eliminating plastic straws. I think we all realize that the fewer plastics used, the healthier our environment. But did you know that one of the leaders in eliminating plastics is the cruise industry?

Because of the pristine and sensitive ecosystems viewed on expedition cruises during Antarctica cruises and Arctic cruises, expedition cruise lines are particularly attuned to going that extra mile when it comes to reducing plastic usage on board.

In fact, just last week Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic announced that they have successfully completed a comprehensive single-use plastics elimination program across their fleet.  Lindblad’s ships are now 100% free of all single-use plastic bottles, cups, straws and stirrers. The effort supports National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic? campaign, a multiyear initiative aimed at raising awareness about the global plastic crisis and reducing the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans.

“The ocean is under major assault on so many fronts, and its protection is both a business mission and a personal passion,” stated Sven Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, ocean advocate and founding member of Ocean Elders. “It is enormously gratifying that our team has achieved this milestone in our elimination program. The health of our planet is dependent on our oceans, and it is essential that we change our behavior regarding plastics.”

Lindblad Expeditions has been a valued partner since 2004, when we first started working together to offer extraordinary expedition cruises to some of the world’s most fascinating places,” said Gary E. Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners. “Our shared passion for adventure and conservation made our alliance a natural fit, and their tremendous effort to eradicate single-use plastic reaffirms that. We are proud that Lindblad is taking action to make a positive impact on this pressing problem, and we hope that their efforts inspire other travel companies to do the same.”

Lindblad Expeditions began working towards the elimination of avoidable plastic waste in 2007 when they banned single-use plastic water bottles. Instead, guests receive individual reusable stainless-steel bottles that may be refilled at filtered-water stations located around the vessels. Lindblad’s commitment continues as they work with suppliers and seek partners to eliminate and reduce plastic packaging for the items they supply.

We think Lindblad Expeditions deserves credit for going above and beyond what international regulations require and for its understanding that on any vacation, especially expeditions cruises, we should leave nothing behind but footprints. That’s all because Lindblad has built a global travel company with conservation and environmental stewardship as core business tenets. The company’s commitment to the places they explore includes more than $15 million to support stewardship efforts through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund (LEX-NG Fund), which awards approximately $1.5 million dollars in grants per year. In 2017 that funding supported initiatives in Alaska, Baja, Galapagos, the Peruvian Amazon, Cambodia, Antarctica, the Pacific Northwest, Central America and more through the Pristine Seas project, National Geographic’s largest initiative dedicated to environmental preservation. Initiatives included killer-whale research in Antarctica, artisan training in the Peruvian Amazon and Galapagos, and conservation-based research projects to protect humpback whales in Southeast Alaska.

If you feel inspired to do the right thing as well, take the National Geographic pledge to reduce single-use plastics at nationalgeographic.com/planetorplastic.

SILVERSEA PARTNERS WITH ROYAL CARIBBEAN

SILVERSEA PARTNERS WITH ROYAL CARIBBEAN

In the biggest news in the cruise business in a number of years, Silversea Cruises announced it is partnering with Royal Caribbean for future growth, with Royal Caribbean taking a 66.7% ownership stake in the ultra-luxury small ship and expedition cruise line. The cost to Royal Caribbean? A cool $2 billion.

Naturally, people might worry that a mass-market company like Royal Caribbean may downgrade the Silversea onboard service and food. Actually, we expect the opposite to happen, just as Seabourn has improved its product and built new ships with owner Carnival Corporation and Regent Seven Seas have done the same with Norwegian Cruise Line as the parent company.

Silversea is a crown jewel, and the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests.”

Based on experience (and knowing Richard Fain personally, having worked for him directly for 6 years), we’re inclined to believe him. After all, Manfredi Lefebvre, the visionary whose father created and grew Silversea Cruises, will remain in charge of the company.

“We are proud to welcome aboard Manfredi Lefebvre, whose high standards and history of innovation we deeply respect,” Fain added.  Lefebvre and Fain also confirmed that Silversea’s CEO Roberto Martinoli will continue in his role, working with the existing Silversea management team.

“This partnership will bolster the growth of this exceptional brand founded by my father,” said Lefebvre. “I have always been kindred spirits with Richard and we share a vision of offering excellence and leadership to our guests. This new partnership gives Silversea the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the most successful luxury and expedition cruising brand in the world.”

So, we fully expect to see more new ships for Silversea announced in the next few years, and even purpose-built luxury expedition ships as well.

Silversea, with its intimate, all-suite ships, full spectrum of global cruise offerings sailing to more than 1,000 global destinations, and unique luxury expedition vessels, adds a pioneering ultra-luxury brand to RCL’s brand lineup. RCL’s largest brand, Royal Caribbean International, is a contemporary brand focused on adventure-seeking families, Celebrity Cruises is a premium brand providing a modern luxury experience to discerning global travelers, and Azamara Club Cruises is a destination immersive brand offering luxury voyages to unique ports. The company also operates the regional TUI Cruises and Pullmantur brands in Europe as part of long-term joint ventures.

So, raise a glass and toast the bright future of luxury cruises, small ship cruising and expedition cruises with Silversea!

WHEN TO BOOK YOUR CRUISE

WHEN TO BOOK YOUR CRUISE

Don’t expect a lot of deals and offers at the last minute these days on river cruises or expedition cruises. In the world of cruising, these are hot properties. Most cruise lines actually offer the lowest prices as far in advance as possible and then gradually raise the price as the sailing nears. It’s called yield management and the cruise lines have become masters of this strategy. They want to fill a ship as full as possible with people paying as much as possible. Select Waterways will endeavor to find you the right cruise at just the right price and though these strategies might seem incompatible, they actually aren’t.

BOOK EARLY

For the best offers, book early. The earlier the better. If for any reason the cruise line lowers the price after you book, almost all will match the new lower prices for you if it’s brought to their attention. Sometimes, they’ll even do it on their own. You also want to book early to get the suite or stateroom of your choice. Many lines will not just guarantee you a certain category of accommodations, but will allow you to request a specific stateroom. If you wait too long, it won’t be available. In fact, sometimes the pricing category you wanted will not even be available.

FREE UPGRADES

Another advantage to booking early is that there is a greater chance we can work with the cruise line to get you a free upgrade. Generally, ships are booked from the bottom up and the top down. That simply means that both the cheapest and most expensive accommodations are reserved first. If you book earlier and you’re not already in a top suite, cruise lines will often upgrade guests in lower categories to higher categories located in the center of the ship or even higher up to make room for new customers who, if they can’t get a lower-priced accommodation, won’t book at all.

KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING

As a general rule, the longer the cruise or the more exotic the destination, the earlier you should book. There are fewer longer cruises and fewer ships going to exotic destinations which means they are in higher demand and book faster. Also, if the cruise requires long flights, such as an Antarctic cruise, an Amazon River cruise or cruises in China, Vietnam and Australia, people plan further in advance for their once-in-a-lifetime vacation. For cruises in North America (American rivers, Alaska, Canada/New England), we suggest booking 4 to 9 months in advance. For Europe,  especially European river cruises, you should firm up your plans 6 to 12 months in advance. For more far-flung destinations such as the South Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, Asia, Africa, India, and South America, you should try to make reservations 10 to 15 months in advance.

IT’S RARELY TOO LATE

But don’t worry if you just now decided today that you want to be in Europe on a river cruise in 2 months. We can probably still find you a spot but there will be fewer ships, stateroom categories and destinations from which to choose.

OUR INSIDER PICKS FOR EXOTIC RIVER SHIPS

OUR INSIDER PICKS FOR EXOTIC RIVER SHIPS

While a European river cruise may be the most popular of all river cruises, the elegance and comfort found with companies such as AmaWaterways can take be found in the less traveled corners of the world as well. In today’s blog, we take a look at one of our favorite ships for Vietnam river cruises on the Mekong, and a top pic for an African river cruise on the Chobe on a waterborne safari.

VIETNAM & CAMBODIA

There are a few different ways to explore Vietnam and Cambodia on a Mekong river cruise, but AmaWaterways has one of our favorite ships. The 124-passenger AmaDara made her debut in 2015 and is in a class unto herself with distinct French Colonial décor and accented by Mekong artifacts made by native craftsmen.

Elegantly appointed staterooms are 251 square feet and suites range from 366 to 502 square feet. Staterooms and suites feature twin balconies, both a French and outside balcony, so you can enjoy the ever-changing scenery however you wish. Additional stateroom amenities include a cozy sitting area, climate-controlled air conditioning, in-room safe and mini bar. Spacious bathrooms have a shower, bathrobe, slippers and hair dryer. Suites have additional enhanced amenities with a large sitting area and bathrooms with both a shower and separate tub.

AmaDara offers a host of added comforts and conveniences, including a spa, fitness room, gift shop, hair salon and Sun Deck pool. The stunning Saigon Lounge provides a wonderful place to meet fellow guests, and enjoy local entertainment. Savor authentic regional delicacies and Western cuisine in the main restaurant or dine at The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant; and throughout your cruise, be treated to unlimited complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, as well as house brand spirits, local beer and soft drinks.

AFRICA

AmaWaterways’ intimate 28-passenger Zambezi Queen made her debut in 2009 in one of the world’s most captivating places, Africa’s legendary Chobe River. Unlike a typical Chobe river cruise that travels from one port to the next, the Zambezi Queen was designed for an entirely different purpose—to facilitate optimal game viewing along the Chobe.

As this floating hotel drifts along the river, animals perceive no threat and come to the water to drink and bathe, affording you with an amazingly up-close view and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Additionally, to ensure no harm to the environment, the eco-friendly Zambezi Queen uses a water jet propulsion system, fuel-efficient and low-emission generators, and a solar heating system.

The Zambezi Queen provides guests with all the modern-day conveniences to ensure a perfect journey. The top deck features an enclosed air-conditioned dining room, lounge and bar, as well as an open-air Sun Deck complete with a plunge pool. Bountiful breakfasts and lunches prepare you for your invigorating daily adventures, and during the evening, enjoy multi-course dinners. Throughout the day, be treated to complimentary South African wines, beer, local spirits, soft drinks and bottled water. On one of the nights, enjoy an African-themed dinner with traditional dishes and entertainment.

The 14 suites, including four master suites, feature air-conditioning and a private balcony where you can enjoy unobstructed views of the river and African landscape. Wake up to the sight of an elephant drinking from the river, or watch a fish eagle take flight—all from the comfort of your own luxurious bed.

Ready to travel to exotic lands with the comfort, convenience and luxury you expect at home? Select Waterways has just the ticket.

SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN IN THE HEART OF EUROPE

SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN IN THE HEART OF EUROPE

In the world of European river cruising, we’ve that there is as much variety among ships as there is among destinations. However, Viking River Cruises has come up with a tried-and-true design of their Viking Longships that they have well over 50 in service and another half dozen on other. You may not realize that during the Age of the Vikings from 800 to 1100 or so, these savage warriors roamed deep into the heart of Europe in their shallow draft, dragon-headed longships. Viking River Cruises, proud of its heritage, coined the name Viking Longships for its popular class of vessels and incorporated modern Scandinavian design as an homage to the owner’s home country, Norway. The simple, uncomplicated interior design makes the myriad destinations the true star when floating down the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Po or Douro rivers. Here, then, is a photo tour of these beautiful vessels.

AQUAVIT TERRACE

Each Viking Longship features the inviting Aquavit Terrace, an open area at the very bow (front) of the ship that is the ideal spot to relax with a drink and watch the world pass by. This outdoor space is protected by large glass panels, so a hearty breeze is never an unwelcome guest.

ATRIUM

The atrium is the hub of every ship and is a showcase of clean Scandinavian design from the sleek stairs to the simple furniture and the abundance of glass and light. Everything aboard radiates from this central gathering point.

EXPLORER SUITE

Viking Longships’ top accommodations are the Explorer Suites, measuring a generous 445 square feet and boasting a private wraparound veranda off the spacious living room with 270-degree views, and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors (known as a French balcony) in the bedroom. A large bathroom features a shower, heated mirror & floor, premium bath products. You’ll also find thoughtful touches such as two 40-inch Sony flat-panel TVs, 220V and 110V outlets, telephone, refrigerator, safe, and hair dryer. Bottled water is replenished daily, and bathrobes and slippers are available upon request. You’ll also enjoy special early check-in (no later than 12 PM), private airport transfers in Europe, a complimentary Silver Spirits Beverage Package, Viking Air Plus services, laundry service, welcome champagne, daily fruit basket, mini-bar with wine, beer and soft drinks (replenished daily). There are even in-suite binoculars, coffee brewer, cashmere blanket and complimentary shoe shine service.

FRENCH BALCONY STATEROOM

By far the most popular staterooms onboard, the French Balcony categories measure a cozy 135 square and feature hotel-style beds (with optional twin-bed configuration), floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open to create a French balcony, private bathroom with shower and premium bath products, space under the bed for storing suitcases and a roomy wardrobe with wooden hangers. Naturally there is a telephone, refrigerator, safe, hair dryer, a 40-inch Sony flat-panel TVs, and 220V and 110V outlets. Bottled water is replenished daily, and bathrobes and slippers are available upon request.

A REVOLUTIONARY NEW RIVER SHIP

A REVOLUTIONARY NEW RIVER SHIP

In the world of river cruising, something’s coming. Something big. AmaWaterways, one of Select Waterways’ favorite cruise lines and what we believe to be among the brands offering the best value for a European river cruise, has just released details about its upcoming Danube river cruise ship, the AmaMagna. Keep in mind that river vessels are constrained by the size of the locks they must sail through, and that’s why the biggest on the Danube are currently no more than 443 feet long. However, as long as a cruise line keeps its ship solely on the Danube, they can build it wider. Thus AmaMagna was conceived, a revolutionary ship that is nearly twice as wide as her peers. Though north of Passau, Germany, the locks are too narrow for an extra-wide river cruiser, the remaining length of the Danube offers a richly varied experience for a first river cruise, and here at Select Waterways we’re delighted that AmaWaterways is taking this all-new approach.

As imagined by AmaWaterways co-owner and president, Rudi Schreiner, the “godfather of river cruising,” the AmaMagna, years in the making, represents a new concept specifically designed to elevate river cruising to a new level. AmaMagna offers the luxury of more space than ever before, which means enticing new ways for every Select Waterways traveler to enjoy the journey, including a water sports platform. Both a sun deck pool and whirlpool give guests the option of taking a refreshing or soothing dip while enjoying the views. When she debuts with all her other exciting innovations in May 2019, AmaMagna will sail some of AmaWaterways most popular itineraries along the storied Danube River.

With a width of an amazing 72 feet, AmaMagna will be nearly twice as wide as traditional European river ships, and able to offer larger staterooms similar to those on ocean ships, plus more choices in onboard activities, dining, and evening entertainment. She is a compelling choice for ocean cruisers or any active travelers who value generous personal space and variety on board.

AmaMagna will boast multiple dining venues in addition to AmaWaterways’ signature Chef’s Table and main dining room. Look for a dedicated al fresco restaurant, and a wine bar & restaurant for intimate wine pairing dinners with friends. At the stern, a water sports platform will feature equipment including a Sundowner for intimate excursions. Up top, a large heated sun deck pool comes complete with a whirlpool and sky bar, while a multi-functional Health & Wellness Studio will be large enough to accommodate group classes. Those seeking extra pampering will find a hair salon, two massage spas and manicure/pedicure services. Despite her larger size, the AmaMagna will have smaller spaces such as a split-level lounge creating intimate pockets in which to relax unhindered.

 

In the world of river cruising, something’s coming. Something big. AmaWaterways, one of Select Waterways’ favorite cruise lines and what we believe to be among the brands offering the best value for a European river cruise, has just released details about its upcoming Danube river cruise ship, the AmaMagna. Keep in mind that river vessels are constrained by the size of the locks they must sail through, and that’s why the biggest on the Danube are currently no more than 443 feet long. However, as long as a cruise line keeps its ship solely on the Danube, they can build it wider. Thus AmaMagna was conceived, a revolutionary ship that is nearly twice as wide as her peers. Though north of Passau, Germany, the locks are too narrow for an extra-wide river cruiser, the remaining length of the Danube offers a richly varied experience for a first river cruise, and here at Select Waterways we’re delighted that AmaWaterways is taking this all-new approach.

As imagined by AmaWaterways co-owner and president, Rudi Schreiner, the “godfather of river cruising,” the AmaMagna, years in the making, represents a new concept specifically designed to elevate river cruising to a new level. AmaMagna offers the luxury of more space than ever before, which means enticing new ways for every Select Waterways traveler to enjoy the journey, including a water sports platform. Both a sun deck pool and whirlpool give guests the option of taking a refreshing or soothing dip while enjoying the views. When she debuts with all her other exciting innovations in May 2019, AmaMagna will sail some of AmaWaterways most popular itineraries along the storied Danube River.

With a width of an amazing 72 feet, AmaMagna will be nearly twice as wide as traditional European river ships, and able to offer larger staterooms similar to those on ocean ships, plus more choices in onboard activities, dining, and evening entertainment. She is a compelling choice for ocean cruisers or any active travelers who value generous personal space and variety on board.

AmaMagna will boast multiple dining venues in addition to AmaWaterways’ signature Chef’s Table and main dining room. Look for a dedicated al fresco restaurant, and a wine bar & restaurant for intimate wine pairing dinners with friends. At the stern, a water sports platform will feature equipment including a Sundowner for intimate excursions. Up top, a large heated sun deck pool comes complete with a whirlpool and sky bar, while a multi-functional Health & Wellness Studio will be large enough to accommodate group classes. Those seeking extra pampering will find a hair salon, two massage spas and manicure/pedicure services. Despite her larger size, the AmaMagna will have smaller spaces such as a split-level lounge creating intimate pockets in which to relax unhindered.

 

But the additional space really comes into play in the suites and staterooms. Her 182 guests will find luxurious accommodations, the majority with outside balconies measuring 205-355 square feet, 25% to 100% larger than on similar, narrower ships. Six Grand Suites at 474 square feet and an Owner’s Suite measuring an impressive 710 square feet with spacious seating areas and beds facing the river are the crème de la crème.

River cruising’s popularity continues to grow and even though AmaMagna’s debut is 14 months away, we urge you to give Select Waterways a call at 1.844.792.7847 if you want to be one of the first to sail the remarkable new vessel from AmaWaterways.

A TASTE OF VIENNA

A TASTE OF VIENNA

One of the joys of a river cruise, especially a European river cruise, is the ample time in ports of call to explore. Since river cruising gets you up close and personal in each city, we like to experience the cuisine of the land while touring ashore.  At Select Waterways, one of our favorite memories is exploring the city on foot, after getting our bearings with the complimentary guided motorcoach tour during a recent stop in Vienna on a Danube river cruise with AmaWaterways. On a misty afternoon, we popped into the Demel Bakery some coffee and a slice of Sachertorte, a Viennese specialty. To this day, we’ll crave a Sachertorte on a cool, misty afternoon and reminisce about that perfect moment in Vienna.  Thanks to our friends at AmaWaterways, what follows is a bit of history about this glorious chocolate confection and, more importantly, the recipe!

The crème-de-la-crème of cake wizardry in Vienna is the iconic Sachertorte, available at the renowned Hotel Sacher. Rich dark chocolate, apricot jam and utter deliciousness will send your taste buds spiraling into sensory overload. Always served with a side-dollop of schlag, aka whipped cream, this cake promises to indulge your most delightful champagne wishes and decadent dreams.

Celebrating its own national holiday on December 5th, the Sachertorte had its not so-humble beginnings in 1832 when Franz Sacher first created the dessert for Prince Wenzel von Metternich and his very important guests. Just sixteen years old at the time, the young chef-in-training received this lucky break when his boss, the Prince’s actual chef, fell ill. It’s been said that the older man cautioned his apprentice with ‘Let there be no shame on me tonight!” — and the rest, as they say, is the chocolate history dreams are made of.

Fueled by the cake’s immense popularity, Sacher’s son Eduard ultimately built the Hotel Sacher, a luxury hotel which has hosted such notable guests as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, JFK, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Leonard Bernstein over the years. Some of these guests’ famous signatures can even be found on one of four tablecloths the hotel keeps on display.

There is also a stunning art gallery with works from the 19th century, so stop by here for an extra slice of culture. Of course, you can find variations of the Sachertorte throughout the city (most notably at the Demel Bakery, which waged a legal war for decades for the right to the name), but many consider the hotel’s to be the most authentic. While in Vienna, experience a true taste of Austria. It is a treat for the taste buds as much as the senses.

Ingredients

  • 4.5 oz. butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 7 egg whites, whipped
  • 7 oz. flour
  • 2 tbsp. apricot Jam

Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 stick butter

Preparation Method

Mix butter, sugar, and egg yolks together until creamy. Fold the melted chocolate into the mixture. In a separate bowl, fold the whipped egg whites and flour together. Combine with the egg yolk and chocolate mixture. Pour into a greased 9” round cake pan. Bake for approximately 45 min. at 370 F°. Let the cake cool and remove from pan. When fully cooled, cut the cake in half horizontally. Fill with apricot jam and glaze top of cake with the ganache. Makes 8 servings.

Recipe courtesy of AmaWaterways

OUR TOP 3 RIVER SHIP DINING INSIDER PICKS

OUR TOP 3 RIVER SHIP DINING INSIDER PICKS

When travelers are selecting a river cruise, especially a European river cruise or American river cruise, we’re often asked about our favorite ship dining experiences. That’s always a tough question to answer, since river cruising affords so many culinary delights. While where to dine ashore is best left to a future series of blogs, dining aboard a river ship is a bit easier to narrow down. Of course, it’s all about the food but don’t forget the importance of ambiance as well. At Select Waterways, we have a few clear favorites. Our choice on AmaWaterways is all about the presentation, sweeping river views and the intimate room with only a handful of diners. On American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen, the largest vessel ever built for US river cruising, the throwback décor and soaring windows are the star. With Uniworld, it’s solely about the extraordinary food, especially since they are such a gastronomic star in European river cruises. Here then, without further ado, are our Top 3 River Ship Dining Insider Picks:

The Chef’s Table

AmaWaterways (All European 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—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.

J .M. White Dining Room

American Queen Steamboat Company (American Queen) 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.

All restaurants

Uniworld River Cruises (All European Ships) 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, enroute 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!

THAT PERFECT MOMENT

THAT PERFECT MOMENT

As you can guess by our passion, there is something special about river cruising. But like any vacation, a river cruise is often remembered for those handful of special moments where time seems to stand still, and the world’s focus is on you, and only you. You know that moment we’re talking about. You might have forgotten every detail of a vacation from two or three decades ago except for that one special event, amazing day, incredible meal, or special feeling that still comes up in conversation today. What we love about European river cruises is that it’s not just one of these moments that stand out, it’s several.

One of our favorite memories is from a recent Danube river cruise with AmaWaterways. It was a wonderful day exploring Budapes that turned into an absolutely unforgettable evening. AmaWaterways has a complimentary specialty restaurant they call the Chef’s Table. Each guest makes reservations once during the cruise and the experience is heavenly. It was the last night of our Danube cruise and with the addition of the Chef’s Table, it was already building into a memorable evening.

What happened next was completely unexpected. In recent years thanks to a grant from UNESCO, Budapest has been able to dramatically light its awe-inspiring architecture at night, from the stunning Parliament building to its many graceful bridges. Visitors to Budapest regularly book evening river cruises on small dinner boats, paying a pretty penny to traverse the river and see the amazing light show. As our vessel, the AmaSerena, began to pull away from the dock, we realized we were going to have the same experience, all included in our fare.

We finished our dessert and champagne in the Chef’s Table and then headed up on deck. This is where things fell into place and perfection became the order of the evening. It was a chilly night in November and as we settled into a deck chair on the top deck, we learned what a luxury river cruise is really all about. A staff member passed by, handing out cozy wool blankets, which we wrapped around our legs. Just as the warmth was starting to cradle us in its comfortable embrace, we passed the Parliament building, looking for all the world like a fairytale castle or elaborate gingerbread house. The elegant Chain Bridge draped across the river just ahead and to the other side, the Hungarian National Gallery glowed atop the bluffs overlooking the water, its reflection sparkling like diamonds. It was positively sublime.

But premium river cruises are about more than just the sights. From the darkness came a parade of twinkling lights onto the upper deck. We turned away from the picture postcard view for a moment and squinted our eyes. A white gloved gentleman bent down, and we saw that surrounding a single candle in the middle of a tray were several small glasses with an enticing amber liquid. He explained that it was a peach liqueur, produced and bottled in Durnstein upriver. We took the glass and sipped the nectar of a drink so deliciously European, so delightfully unexpected, and so utterly ideal for that moment.

For that moment, everything was utterly, impossibly, and wonderfully perfect. We knew we would talk about that evening for years.

These are the moments that all of us at Select Waterways wants to create for you. We 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.

VIKING ORDERS SEVEN NEW RIVER SHIPS FOR 2019

VIKING ORDERS SEVEN NEW RIVER SHIPS FOR 2019

Viking, the world’s leading river cruise line, today announced it has placed an order for seven new river ships that will debut in 2019. The newbuild order includes six additional award-winning Viking Longships, which will sail the company’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, and one additional vessel, inspired by the Longships and specifically designed for Portugal’s Douro River. This announcement comes on the heels of Viking being named the #1 River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in the publication’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. With the addition of the new river ships, Viking will operate a fleet of 69 river vessels around the world in 2019.

“We knew there was an opportunity to do things differently when we started this company 20 years ago,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “In the last two decades, we have led the industry to define what modern river cruising looks like today. We continue to lead the industry with the largest fleet, the widest selection of itineraries and stateroom categories, and the most awards of any river cruise line. The Viking way of exploration has resonated with our target audience of experienced travelers, and this new ship order is a reflection of strong demand for more destination-focused cruises.”

Of the seven vessels on order for 2019, six are Viking Longships, which have amassed a long list of prestigious awards since their debut. Viking’s accolades include recognition by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s “Editors’ Picks Awards.” More recently, Viking topped USA Today’s annual Readers’ Choice Cruise Poll for “Best River Cruise Line,” and was named “Best Danube River Cruise Operator” in AFAR magazine’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco.

Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Staterooms include comfortable amenities such as hotel-style beds, heated bathroom floors, mini fridge, and both U.S. and EU outlets. Additionally, all Viking Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.

Viking’s additional ship on order for 2019 will be designed specifically for the company’s Portugal’s River of Gold itinerary. As a result of high customer demand, the new sister ship will join Viking’s existing fleet of three ships on the Douro. Hosting 106 passengers in 53 staterooms, the Douro ships are smaller than Viking Longships, but feature many of the same popular features – including an Aquavit Terrace, a wide variety of stateroom choices, onboard solar panels and an organic herb garden, as well as Viking’s signature Scandinavian design aesthetic.

Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. And only The Viking Way of exploration brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

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 CRYSTAL RIVER CRUISES FOR 2019

OUR FAVORITE CRYSTAL RIVER CRUISES FOR 2019

Crystal River Cruises recently announced their 2019 itineraries and we were excited to see shorter options highlight European journeys along the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Main rivers for the fleet of five luxury river ships. The itineraries span the most beautiful waterways in Europe, with each ship offering varied routes focusing on the Rhine and Danube rivers, with sojourns along the Moselle and Main Rivers incorporated into select sailings. We love that each itinerary has been carefully crafted to showcase not only the medieval and modern towns along the rivers’ shorelines, but the tranquility, intimacy and beauty of river cruising itself. Crystal sailings offer more extended and overnight stays in port, complimentary Crystal Adventures shore excursions in every port, and a host of world-class culinary and cultural pursuits to enhance the journey. Major hubs of commerce and government like Amsterdam, Vienna, Frankfurt, Budapest and Basel display their prominence in the modern global landscape while paying homage to their storied pasts at every turn. Our four favorite new itineraries for 2019 feature quaint towns boasting cobbled alleyways and pristinely preserved historical landmarks, along with welcoming hospitality and charm:

Wonders of the Danube, 7 days, Linz to Budapest/Budapest to Linz
Crystal Mahler, Crystal Ravel
Bookended with overnight stays in Budapest and Linz, this voyage also offers two full days in Vienna, plus calls to Krems and Melk, Austria and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Danube Dreams & Discoveries, 7 days, round-trip Vienna
Crystal Ravel, Crystal Mozart
Venturing from Vienna to Hungary’s Esztergom and Budapest (overnight), and Bratislava, Slovakia, this itinerary returns to Austria to visit Melk, Spitz (overnight) and Krems before concluding with an overnight in Vienna.

Magnificent Christmas Markets, 7 days, Passau to Budapest/Budapest to Passau
Crystal Mahler
Showcasing the glittering sights and sounds of the traditional holiday festivities, this itinerary offers longer stays in port throughout, with overnights in Passau, Vienna and Budapest, plus a visit to Linz.

Grand Danube Celebration, 11 days, Budapest to Nuremburg
Crystal Mahler
This singular Christmas holiday voyage features a double overnight stay in Budapest, with Christmas Day spent sailing the Danube River. New Year’s Eve will call in Regensburg, Germany, with other destinations including Bratislava, Vienna (overnight), Krems, Melk, Linz, Passau and ending with an overnight in Nuremberg.

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.

HURTIGRUTEN BUILDING UP TO FOUR NEW SHIPS

HURTIGRUTEN BUILDING UP TO FOUR NEW SHIPS

There’s big news from the expedition cruising arm of legendary Norwegian coastal operator Hurtigruten. They’ve signed an agreement with the Kleven Shipyard for the construction of up to four new explorer ships. The first vessel is to be completed the summer of 2018. We’re excited not just because I’m part Norwegian, but because this is the largest investment in Hurtigruten’s more than 120-year history. It is a milestone for the Norwegian travel industry and the Norwegian shipyard industry. I have no doubt they will build the most formidable expedition ships in the world. The agreement ensures Hurtigruten’s position as world leading within adventure tourism in the Arctic and in Antarctica. The agreement includes the construction of two new Hurtigruten vessels designed for exploring polar waters and an option for the construction further two explorer ships.

The ships are designed and developed by Rolls-Royce with the assistance of the renowned Norwegian ship designer Espen Øino. The ships are customized for adventure-rich expedition voyages and can also operate on the Norwegian cost. Knowing Hurtigruten’s reputation, we’re confident that the ships are in the very forefront when it comes to utilizing new environmental technology, on board and for the propulsion systems. Hurtigruten has taken a leading role when it comes to green shipping. Sustainability is given top priority and new technology contributes to reducing emissions. We can’t wait to see these new ships in service, bringing the remotest destinations to our doorstep with concern for the environment and plenty of amenities for their guests.

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.

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