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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.

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!

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.

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?