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STARTING A RIVER CRUISE COMPANY

STARTING A RIVER CRUISE COMPANY

You’re enjoying a European river cruise, everything is perfect, you’re sailing the Rhine but then you suddenly wonder how it all began. How does a river cruise line get started? What does it take in terms of time, effort and vision to create a premium river cruise? In this week’s blog, we take a look at how AmaWaterways climbed that mountain.

Family-owned and operated, AmaWaterways was founded in 2002 by three families; however, the river cruise story began well before that. Co-Founder and President Rudi Schreiner was born in Vienna, at the heart of the Danube. His love of design drew him to architecture, but his even greater love of travel drew him to places far and wide. In 1975, he traveled to South America for a journalism assignment on the Amazon. It was here he designed his first ship, using what he could find to build a raft that would take him up and down the river during the next 7 months. Soon thereafter, he started working in travel, creating unique tour experiences in Europe.

When the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal was completed in 1992, Rudi was quick to envision a new tourism business developing around long-distance river cruising. The significance of the canal’s completion meant connecting two of Europe’s greatest rivers: the Rhine, via its tributary the Main, with the Danube, allowing travel from the North Sea all the way to the Black Sea. More than 800 years prior, Charlemagne dreamed of connecting these two rivers, so 1992 fulfilled his vision and created a new visionary in Rudi. 

Rudi started the North American operations for many of today’s major river cruise companies, developing itineraries and ships that would become the templates for what we know river cruising to be today. After years of success as a driving force in the industry, Rudi decided to start his own venture — one that would provide guests with a higher standard of luxury travel by river. That’s when he teamed up with Co-Owners and Co-Founders Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy to start AmaWaterways.

In 2016, Rudi was inducted into the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Hall of Fame and was honored with their Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of devotion to the river cruising industry.

Kristin was born in Germany and brings extensive experience in travel, river cruising and customer service to the company in her role as Executive Vice President. Jimmy Murphy was a brilliant travel entrepreneur, having built Brendan Vacations, one of the most successful tour operators in the U.S. Jimmy’s son, Gary, who also played a major part at Brendan, is now Senior Vice President of Sales at AmaWaterways. Together with Rudi, a true team of pioneers emerged.

From the beginning, the goal was to create a river cruise company that the owners and founders themselves would enjoy. That meant the highest-quality, locally sourced food and wine; elegantly appointed ships with staterooms offering maximum views to enjoy the ever-changing countryside; and a crew who goes above and beyond, treating every guest like they are family.

With that in mind, AmaWaterways has been building one-of-a-kind ships with added comforts and conveniences ranging from revolutionary twin balconies with both a French balcony and an outside balcony to the one-and-only Chef’s Table specialty restaurant. In 2019, innovation continues with three new ships, including the extraordinary AmaMagna—a distinctive evolution of the line’s exceptional European river cruise fleet, offering the ultimate in luxury with even more space and more choices while sailing the legendary Danube.

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.

THREE MORE NORWEGIAN EXPEDITION SHIPS ON TAP

THREE MORE NORWEGIAN EXPEDITION SHIPS ON TAP

Hurtigruten, the world leader in exploration travel, will begin refurbishing three of their cruise ships for advanced upgrades over the next few years. Equipped with battery packs and other green technology, each ship will operate year-round expedition cruises along the Norwegian coast from 2021 on yet-to-be-disclosed itineraries.

As they are transformed into fully-fledged premium expedition cruise ships, the current TrollfjordFinnmarken, and Midnatsol, will be renamed Maud, Otto Sverdrup, and Eirik Raude, respectively. Otto Sverdrup will have battery packs installed during a 2020 drydock, with a letter of intent for the same battery installation on Maud and Eirik Raude in 2021. The battery packs will support the ship engines, and drastically cut emissions.

The keel-to-mast upgrades will introduce several new features and venues on each of the ships. For example, using natural Scandinavian materials such as granite, oak, birch, and wool, all public areas will be redesigned to create a relaxed and stylish look and feel and add to the premium onboard experience. All cabins and suites will be completely refurbished, including several new suites with spectacular views. 

Hurtigruten’s signature Science Center will be added to each ship. Packed with state-of-the-art technology and high-tech gadgets such as touch screens, science equipment, and other interactive features, this edutainment area will also serve as the onboard headquarters for the ship’s Expedition Team.

Three brand-new restaurants will be added, matching Hurtigruten’s restaurant concepts for its growing fleet of expedition cruise ships. First, the main restaurants will be transformed into Aune; social and informal, with the use of natural elements in design and interiors, Aune will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner based on Scandinavian identity.

Restaurant Lindstrøm, a specialty eatery named after a favorite chef of Norwegian polar heroes, will be an upper premium fine dining restaurant with strong roots in traditional Norwegian cooking that are contrasted with modern cuisine.

The informal eatery Fredheim, named after a legendary 1920s hunting station in Svalbard that sheltered adventurers from around the world, will also be part of the refurbishment. In addition, a new outdoor grill venue will be added outdoor on the top decks.

Maud, the current Trollfjord, is named after one of the most famous polar vessels of all time, Roald Amundsen’s Maud from 1917. The original Maud got her name from the first Queen of modern-day Norway, who also had her namesake in Hurtigruten’s 1925 flagship Dronning Maud. 

Otto Sverdrup, the current Finnmarken, is named after one of Norway’s most notable polar heroes. Alongside Fridtjof Nansen, he was the first to ski across Greenland, a key contributor to several expeditions and captain on the legendary polar ship Fram. Sverdrup also has a close connection to Hurtigruten: Between the expeditions he was a captain on board Hurtigruten ships. 

Eirik Raude, the current Midnatsol, is named after one of the most famous Viking chiefs in history. Eirik Raude—also known as Eric the Red—got his name from his huge red beard, and is not only known for discovering Greenland, but also for giving the island its name.

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.

STAR DINING ON WINDSTAR

STAR DINING ON WINDSTAR

We’re big fans of fine dining and were excited to hear that Windstar Cruises is continuing to perfect its culinary program with the announcement of a new modern, casual outdoor restaurant in partnership with global grilling authority Steven Raichlen. Star Grill by Steven Raichlen will be a modern, casual, al fresco restaurant that serves up grilled, smoked and rotisserie specialties, including seafood, meats and vegetables cooked with global flavors and techniques, alongside craft side dishes and sauces.

Windstar’s alliance with Steven Raichlen was born from a desire to create a modern, yet casual outdoor eatery, an inviting escape where guests will enjoy inventive, modern cuisine, while embracing the al fresco ambiance and casually intimate experiences of small ship dining after a busy day discovering distant ports of call.

Windstar’s culinary team and Steven Raichlen have been working in collaboration to develop the ideal al fresco dining experience, crafting food and beverage menus that will be one-of-a-kind in the cruise and restaurant industries. In 2020, Windstar cruise guests will have the opportunity to taste firsthand Raichlen’s fascination with global grilling.

International TV host and author of 31 books, Raichlen is considered the man who reinvented modern barbecue.  His most recent television series, Project Fire 2019, debuted this July on PBS, and his latest book, The Brisket Chronicles, was released to critical acclaim in May.  Raichlen was inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2015, and his books have won multiple James Beard Awards and IACP Julia Child Awards. Raichlen is the founder of Barbecue University™ and has lectured on the history of barbecue at institutions as diverse as Harvard, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian.

Star Grill by Steven Raichlen will first debut on Windstar’s award-winning small ship Star Breeze in February 2020 and then on her sister ships Star Legend in July 2020 and Star Pride in November 2020, all part of the line’s $250 million upgrade and enhancement of the trio of vessels, setting new standards in small ship cruises.

At Star Grill by Steven Raichlen, guests will enjoy seafood, lamb, beef and more from the grill, smoker, and slow-roasted on the rotisserie, along with innovative sauces. The top-deck, al fresco restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner service and will feature menu items such as Danish smoked shrimp, lemongrass pork skewers, and Hill Country brisket — or on sea days, enjoy a mid-morning Frühschoppen with artisanal grilled sausage and pretzel rolls.

Located just steps away from Star Bar, the ship’s popular open ocean-view top-deck bar, Star Grill by Steven Raichlen will feature deck-side dining with seating for 95, two carving stations, a selection of mouthwatering dishes with a modern twist, and refreshments enjoyed in a relaxed, al fresco bar-restaurant area with dining tables starboard and lounge seating portside, all served with a sea view.

Diners relaxing poolside during the day, or enjoying a casual evening meal after touring ashore, may enjoy select local/regional beers, along with flights to offer guests a selection to taste and compliment the cuisine. In addition to a selection of beer and wine, the restaurant will feature cocktails specially-designed for the venue with a breezy summertime vibe, like a Strawberry Pimm’s, Pineapple & Coconut Slushy, Raspberry & Melon Slushy, and Strawberry + Basil Smash; all served from the nearby Star Bar.

In addition to the new restaurant partnership, Raichlen will sail aboard one culinary-themed cruise each year with Windstar Cruises, leading grill demonstrations and lectures, as well as socializing with guests on board the small ships, catering exclusively to fewer than 350 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.

AMERICAN RIVER HOLIDAYS

AMERICAN RIVER HOLIDAYS

Our friends at American Queen Steamboat Company recently compiled a list of the best holidays to enjoy on a Mississippi River cruise and we thought we’d share their thoughts with you as we think they’re spot on. Because whether you hope to start a new family tradition, or simply enjoy a carefree, easygoing holiday, a river cruise on an elegant paddlewheeler is an experience to cherish. So, when to go and why?

THANKSGIVING

Traverse the mighty Mississippi, gather with family and friends to feast and take time to appreciate the many things we have to be thankful for. On an American Queen Steamboat Company riverboat, the staff has formed a family – they live and thrive together – and they welcome each guest as their kin. The smell of the harvest waltzes through the air – turkey, dressing, cranberries and more. Indulge in a feast fit for a queen without the stress of preparation and cleaning, ensuring a worry-free holiday. Viewings of the parade and football games invite travelers to dwell in the blessings of sweet nostalgia, and masterfully prepared tales of the adventures of Mark Twain transport the audience to a period much closer to the holiday’s origin.

AN AMERICAN MUSIC HOLIDAY

Memories are made of music, especially aboard the American Duchess. Wend your way through time and space with the songs of the ages as your guide. The spirits of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan live on in the soul-stirring spectacle of special guest and Memphis legend Joyce Cobb, joined by her band. Almost no genre goes untouched by Cobb, from country, disco and R&B to her beloved jazz. Sounds of the season join modern favorites in a show guaranteed to warm hearts and inspire joy. Along the journey, merry activities enrich each day, from ornament decorating to singalongs of treasured tunes we all know and love.

PLANTATION HOLIDAY MARKETS

Amid the glittering elegance of an American Queen Steamboat Company holiday cruise is a seasonal spirit larger than life. Experience the best of the South during a magical time of year aboard the company flagship, the American Queen. Delight in all your favorite holiday treats while becoming acquainted with the classic traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures. At the center of each holiday cruise is an enchanting gala at Nottoway Plantation, complete with live music. Watch each skillfully rehearsed footstep of costumed dancers, indulge in scrumptious hors d’oeuvres or decadent desserts and witness the ceremonial lighting of the bonfires on the levee.

NEW YEAR’S

New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and celebration with family and friends. Honor the year’s end on board the American Queen or American Duchess for exclusive experiences. All week, the evening entertainment sets the scene for revelry with shows that reveal the gaiety of the season. On the big day, an onboard gala is planned to provide hours of music and dancing – complete with champagne toast. Just after midnight, fireworks launch from the levee over Nottoway Plantation.

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.

SEEING EUROPE BY RIVER

SEEING EUROPE BY RIVER

If you want to see the true soul and personality of a country, head into its heart. Our River Collection meanders into the center of fascinating cultures, grand palaces, acclaimed museums, historic sites, and quaint cafes and boutiques. Nurse a refreshing Vinho Verde on the Douro, a bold glass of Cabernet along the Gironde, a dry Chardonnay on the Seine, or a sweet Riesling on the Danube. Pedal a bike through Ghent and tour Avignon’s Papal Palace. Attend a pasta-making workshop in Bologna, discover the roots of Protestantism in Wittenberg and spoon caviar onto your blini pancakes along the Volga. Which river cruise will you choose?

DANUBE RIVER

One of the great rivers of Europe, the Danube is the second longest on the continent and flows through 9 countries. Walk in the footsteps of history in the medieval Bavarian streets of Nuremburg, buy a local trinket at the market in the center of Vilshofen, and admire the Gothic and Italian Baroque wonders of Passau. Explore the contrast between modern glass and steel buildings and the traditional architecture of Linz, visit the amazingly preserved medieval Czech town of Cesky Krumlov and sing in joy at the sounds of Salzburg’s musical legacy, birthplace of Mozart.

Explore the winding mountain roads of the Austrian Lake District, visit the glorious Benedictine Abbey at Melk, buy some apricot liqueur, and stroll the cobbled streets of Dürnstein. Enjoy an after-dinner wine tasting in Weissenkirchen, hike up to Bratislava Castle, and learn how to prepare stuffed potato ravioli from a local chef. In Vienna, bike through Donaupark and ride to Klosterneuburg Monastery, or discover the elegance of Vienna at its storied Opera House, the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg Emperors, Parliament, Town Hall, Vienna University, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Graben, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

Save your energy for Budapest with its spectacular views from Matthias Church, Buda Castle, and Fisherman’s Bastion. Visit intriguing Belgrade, and enjoy a Yugoslav Civil War tour of Vukovar followed by a trip to Vidin Castle in Bulgaria. A Danube cruise is a classic journey into the heart of Europe.

RHINE RIVER

Flowing 766 miles north through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and Holland, the Rhine is perhaps the most famous of Europe’s rivers. Treasure a twilight cruise through colorful Amsterdam’s narrow homes lining the canals and a stroll through the Middle Ages among the buildings of Begijnhof. From Cathedral Square, admire Cologne’s splendid Gothic cathedral and in Koblenz, head ashore for a stein of beer made exactly as it has for centuries.

Cruise through the overwhelming natural beauty of the Rhine Gorge with its castles and fortresses perched high above the placid river. In Rüdesheim, taste the fruits of a vintner’s labor, soar above the streets on a gondola to Niederwalddenkmal Statue or go for a leisurely bike ride alongside the river. Spend a fascinating evening among the shops and taverns of Rüdesheim’s Drosselgasse, see a 49,000-gallon wine cask in Heidelberg, and explore one of Germany’s oldest cities in Speyer 

In Strasbourg, the capital of France’s Alsace region, amble through the enchanting La Petite France neighborhood, and in Breisach, sample a sweet Riesling and bike through the Rheinau woods. Explore the medieval old town center of Basel around Marktplatz, visit the 16th-century, red-sandstone Town Hall and take in the view from the 12th-century Gothic cathedral which shelters the grave of the 16th-century Dutch scholar Erasmus.

DORDOGNE, GARONNE, GIRONDE, MOSELLE, RHÔNE, SAÔNE AND SEINE RIVERS

The many winding rivers of France reveal a country more fascinating, refined, and welcoming than you ever imagined. Gaze down upon Paris from the resplendent Eiffel Tower and relish an impromptu lunch of baguettes, brie and chardonnay on the steps of Sacré-Cœur. Sip the sensational white wines of Cadillac, the rich Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignon of Pauillac, and enjoy a Grand Cru Classé wine tasting in Liborne.

Go for a bike tour of Bordeaux, the wine capital of the world, and visit the beguiling home and gardens of Impressionist master Claude Monet in Giverny. Stand in gratitude upon Omaha Beach in Normandy and in awe at the spot where Joan of Arc was martyred. Explore the hilltop ruins of Richard the Lionheart’s Château Gaillard, climb historic Fourvière Hill in Lyon, attend a wine tasting paired with chocolates at Le Château de Tournon, and tour Avignon’s Papal Palace.

ELBE AND MAIN RIVERS

Many cruises on the Elbe begin in magnificent Berlin and end in beguiling Prague. Along the way, tour a palace built by Prussian king Frederick the Great, discover the roots of Protestantism in Wittenberg at Martin Luther’s House and St. Marien’s Church, and learn how porcelain has been made by hand in Meissen since the early 1700s. Comb through Frauenkirche in Dresden, rebuilt after the bombings in World War II, and in the Green Vault view a stunning array of precious gemstones. Cruise among the other-worldly rock formations of the Saxon Switzerland region, visit Hradčany Castle in Prague and admire the glass dome atop the rebuilt Reichstag in Berlin. Though often incorporated as part of a Rhine or Danube cruise, the Main River has its own glittering cultural pearls, such as the famed 13th century Leaning Tower in Kitzingen and the Residenz Palace and gardens in Würzburg.

DOURO RIVER

Explore the cobblestone medieval streets of Porto and then leap ahead several centuries at the Museum of Modern Art in the Boavista area. Savor a wine and cheese tasting at Quinta de Avelada and discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guimarães. Tour the majestic Mateus Palace in Régua, make a pilgrimage to the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios in charismatic Lamego, and enjoy the impressive gorges cradling the Douro river valley. Navigate the labyrinthine street of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, a 16th century town perched on a hilltop, and pop into a local market in Spain’s Vega Terrón.

PO RIVER

Ride a gondola along the canals of Venice and steal a kiss under the Bridge of Sighs, shop for glass treasures on Murano, and enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner at a café overlooking the city’s lagoon as the moon glimmers like a promise kept. Bicycle along Chioggia’s beaches, attend a pasta-making workshop in Bologna, and sip a glass of local Chianti as the Po River winds through northern Italy’s stunning countryside. Be sure to add in a trip to the designer boutiques of Milan and the ancient ruins of Rome before or after your voyage.

NEVA, SVIR, AND VOLGA RIVERS

Walk across the vast expanse of Red Square, gaze at the crenellated walls of the Kremlin, and ride subways with stations so ornate they appear to be museums. Onion-domed cathedrals abound in Russia’s capital but the best views of Uglich, founded in 1148, are from your ship on the Volga River. Learn the legend of Prince Yaroslavl the Wise of Kiev, who established his namesake town more than a thousand years ago. Tour Kuzino’s fabled Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery and stride among the buildings of Ishi’s Open Air Museum of Architecture. Spoon caviar on to your blini pancakes and discover the legacy of Communism with a visit to a Soviet-era kommunalka.

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.

GOING DEEP WITH SEABOURN

GOING DEEP WITH SEABOURN

Even among small ships and river cruisers, innovation is the order of the day. Just take a look at Seabourn Cruise Line, which is building two new expedition ships, both featuring submarines. Expedition cruises just got a whole lot more interesting!

Seabourn, the world’s finest ultra-luxury cruise line, is preparing to take travelers into the depths of the ocean for the first time by revealing the design and details for its custom submarines that will operate excursions for an additional charge from the line’s two upcoming ultra-luxury purpose-built expedition ships. Both Seabourn Venture and her yet-to-be-named sister ship will sail to the far corners of the Earth carrying two U-Boat Worx Cruise Sub 7 subs designed specifically for Seabourn.

Each battery-powered sub will carry six guests as well as one pilot, who will guide the journey up to 330 feet beneath the surface to explore sunken wrecks, reefs, and view marine wildlife in their natural habitat. Guests are seated in two clear acrylic spheres flanking the center pilot’s station, with an awe-inspiring perspective of the marine world just outside thanks to undisturbed and undistorted views in virtually all directions. The three passenger seats in each sphere are mounted on a rotating platform that can turn for best sightlines.

“The undersea world is often considered as the last great frontier on Earth, with more than 80 percent of the underwater realm remaining unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” said Robin West, vice president of Expedition Operations for Seabourn. “With these subs, we’re going to take our guests to places that few have ever seen firsthand, leaving them with a perspective on the world around us that is jaw-dropping and will create stories to last a lifetime.”

To maximize the guest experience, the subs will be outfitted with a host of optional equipment to enhance this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A 4k underwater video camera system will record the world outside while an internal video recording system will capture imagery of guests inside and their direct surroundings. Video footage can then be downloaded and projected on large screens in the Discovery Center during lectures aboard the ships. A six-function manipulator arm capable of lifting up to 70 pounds will also be mounted on the side of the sub. In keeping with the luxury experience found on Seabourn, each sub on both ships will be outfitted with custom embroidered leather upholstery, two air conditioning systems, a Bluetooth stereo system, and champagne chiller for guests looking to toast their voyage of discovery. 

The subs will be operated multiple times per day in regions around the world where conditions are suitable. They will be equipped with underwater LED flood/spot lights, imaging sonar that acts as a second set of eyes, and an advanced underwater tracking and navigation system.

Seabourn Venture is scheduled to launch in June 2021, with a second yet-to-be-named sister ship slated to launch in May 2022. The ships are being designed from conception for expedition travel blended with ultra-luxury and personalized service by leading travel experts and seasoned professionals with great depth of experience in expedition, hospitality, and luxury cruising.

Between July 2021 and April 2022, Seabourn Venture will visit a vast number of breathtaking locations and remote destinations in the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as in the Amazon, Caribbean, Central and South America and more, offering guests the unique opportunity to experience ultra-luxury expedition cruising and exhilarating adventures. The ship is scheduled to visit more than 150 unique and fascinating destinations across the globe – many of which few travelers have ever been – and over 65 new or notable destinations with a multitude of new and compelling expedition experiences.

Both ships will be designed and built for diverse environments to PC6 Polar Class standards and will include a plethora of modern hardware and technology that will extend the ships global deployment and capabilities. The ships will also be designed to carry a number of kayaks and 24 Zodiacs that can accommodate all onboard guests at once, which will allow for a truly immersive experience. Each ship will feature 132 luxurious oceanfront veranda suites.

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.

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.

GOING DUTCH

GOING DUTCH

One of our favorite European river cruises is a 7-night roundtrip jaunt from Amsterdam with Crystal River Cruises. While you may think you need two weeks to do Europe justice, this compact cruises packs a lot of punch in just one week. You’ll cruise the inland waters of the Netherlands and Belgium to discover the land of windmills, tulips and wooden shoes; marvel at the spectacular modern architecture of Rotterdam, the medieval charm of Ghent and the artistic masterpieces of Antwerp. With Crystal’s luxury reputation and all shore excursions included, it’s an enlightening and enriching look at the best of Holland and a taste of Belgium with visits to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ghent, Antwerp and Middleburg. Best of all, you’ll spend two full nights in Amsterdam, allowing plenty of time to explore this treasured city without the need for a hotel. Yes, you really can do a fulfilling European river cruise in just a week!

Everyone has an image of Amsterdam. For some, it’s small boats gliding on the canals and locals two-wheeling on bikes to work and, as frequently, to meet friends for drinks. For others, it’s gabled buildings leaning, seemingly precariously, over cobbled streets and cozy taverns illuminated by candles. Still others imagine tulips in bloom and the paintings Vermeer, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Each vision is even more beguiling when experienced in person.

Much of Rotterdam’s edgy, sophisticated personality is a result of the destruction of much of the city by the WWII blitz, which left it to be rebuilt with a contemporary approach to design. Modern, eye-catching buildings of concrete, glass and steel stand in stark contrast to the few remaining “old city” areas of Delfshaven, or Delft Harbor, and Oude Haven, or Old Harbor, and outstanding museums, hotels and restaurants consistently earn Rotterdam top rankings for best places to visit.

See buildings with stair-stepped gables, the meeting of the rivers Scheldt and Leie, intact and well-preserved medieval architecture, a brooding castle, and the famed Ghent Altarpiece. Ghent is a welcoming center of industry with a lively cultural scene. Walk along pretty canals, wander into stunning churches and appreciate the flowers adorning squares and alleyways as you explore what was once one of Europe’s richest cities and one that continues to enrich travelers.

What Milan is to Italy, Antwerp is to Belgium, a historic city that is on-trend with a finger on the pulse of fashion, art and entertainment. A dynamic energy fills Antwerp’s old squares, gorgeous with cobbled centers and edged, like a cake with decorative icing, by ornate buildings. High-reaching church towers and fountains with cherubic sculptures add to the feeling of antiquity, while the port – the largest in Belgium and one of the largest in the world – brings a sense of purpose and prosperity. Surely, you associate Antwerp with diamonds. More than 70 percent of all diamonds are traded through this sparkling city, one that also shines under the light of celebrated painter Peter Paul Rubens, who lived and worked in an Italianate city manse, now a museum.

A key player in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology, Middelburg scientists are credited for the invention of the microscope and telescope. Famed explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who discovered Easter Island, was also a resident. Today, the city continues to thrive with its rich cultural and scientific history with gothic buildings, centuries-old canals and the Delft Market Square, where old and new worlds come together.

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.

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.

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