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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.

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!