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UNIWORLD’S INSPIRATION

UNIWORLD’S INSPIRATION

While most cruise-related blogs have focused on the pandemic, we thought this month we’d remind everyone why river cruising is so popular and will bounce back quickly once we merge from the other side of the coronavirus era. Our focus is one of our favorite river operators in Europe, Egypt, Russia, Asia and India, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. A guiding force behind their product has been a truly remarkable woman by the name of Bea Tollman. We discovered some fascinating and revealing behind-the-scenes information on Uniworld’s website that we wanted to share with you.

“While each Uniworld ship is unique, what Uniworld’s guests most delight in is one constant—the spirit of hospitality with which they are welcomed onboard, from the time they are welcomed at the airport until they disembark with memories of a lifetime. To truly understand that spirit—and what makes a Uniworld cruise so special—you need to meet Bea Tollman, the creative mind behind their one-of-a-kind floating boutique hotel experience.”

NOTHING IS OVERLOOKED

“Now in her eighth decade, Bea continues to be hands‐on. Her keen eye for detail stretches to the design of each room, the menu, the carefully chosen staff, and even from pen to paper in the form of handwritten notes to her valued guests. It’s the smallest details that often draw the biggest smiles—and Bea and her family have made it their business to create an experience to remember.

“The spirit of service is one that is rooted in the Tollman family values and is carried out by each and every member of the staff and crew. Whether remembering a favorite drink order from day one or surprising a guest with a treat mentioned swiftly in passing, these small but important touches are just one emblem of Bea’s thoughtful nature.”

SETTING THE STAGE

“As a wife, a mother, and now a grandmother, Bea has created a home for each guest to be a part of onboard. A life well lived and well traveled shouldn’t come with sacrificing the comforts of home, and thanks to Bea Tollman, you don’t have to. Bea is still integral to the design vision for each new Uniworld ship that sets sail, a process that involves herself and daughter Toni sitting down in a room to brainstorm ideas.

“Bea designs each ship interior based on the very destinations through which they sail. With distinctive themes, color palettes, personally selected original art, sumptuous furnishings and antiques, Bea blends old-world elegance, the latest technological innovations, and ultra-luxurious amenities on every ship. Each element—down to the smallest detail—has been thoughtfully considered and flawlessly rendered.”

INSPIRATION ABOUNDS

“Like many great stories, Bea Tollman’s is one built on a love of life, a passion for people and a distinct vision of travel that only she could create. She began her career intending to become a teacher, though a school trip to Europe presented her with a different vision. It was then that her palate was first truly piqued, a hunger for fine cuisine was born, and an idea was sparked: to combine exquisite gastronomy with enchanting world travels.

“A few years later, Bea caught the eye of a distinguished South African hotelier, Stanley Tollman, a man with a passion for good food, a heart for hospitality and a red carnation nestled in his lapel. Though they didn’t know it then, they would later go on to build the world-renowned luxury brand, Red Carnation Hotels. But Bea had even bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water, eventually leading her to acquire Uniworld River Cruises in 2004.

“With Red Carnation as her guide, Bea sought to bring the feeling of staying in a luxury boutique hotel to the rivers, and thus, the Uniworld of today is largely influenced by Red Carnation’s key tenets: unparalleled hospitality, unmatched service and a dedication to going above and beyond for guests.”

EACH MEAL IS MEMORABLE

“Bea’s hands-on approach and attention to detail took root in the kitchen. Her culinary career was founded on a temporary solution. She remarks, ‘The idea was that I would help my husband out at the beginning [with his first hotel] before going on to teach, but I ended up staying in the kitchen for 15 years.’

“And it’s no wonder! Bea’s food dazzled the guests. With each passing dinner service, Bea watched patrons finish their dishes with a smile, and ask to speak to the chef, only to learn that the culinary feats and epicurean delights came from none other than a self-taught 22-year-old woman. Bea began to revel in the world of fine dining and as the hotels grew, so did the number of her recipes and her love for the industry. Since then, her food has become a cornerstone of Red Carnation Hotels and Uniworld River Cruises alike.”

It’s not hard to see why Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has become such a unique and well-loved brand. While we all hope to be on the other side of the pandemic by this time next year, it’s never too early to start planning your Uniworld river cruise. Contact Select Waterways today!

We are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. 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. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. 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.

CORONAVIRUS PROTOCOLS

CORONAVIRUS PROTOCOLS

In this month’s blog, we’re taking a closer look at the coronavirus protocols of Victory Cruise Lines, which many months ago cancelled all its 2020 sailings and is focused on 2021. The information below is pulled from a letter by John W. Waggoner, CEO, and shows what small ship cruising will look like next year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world for a loop, and Victory recognize the impact that it has had on plans for travel. Small ship cruising along with many other experiences that we’ve come to know and love are changing – and that can be stressful.

Victory Cruise Lines is staying current with Centers for Disease Control (CDC), United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) guidance, mandates and public health advancements. Plans are in place to keep guests, crew and ports of call safe.

Victory has implemented multiple processes to identify and combat the risk of COVID-19 which include new steps in pre-cruise screening, crew screening and boarding processes. Both onboard and ground operations will feature enhanced cleaning procedures.

PRE-CRUISE SCREENING

Communication with guests begins before they have committed or booked their experience on Victory vessels. Health and safety information will be communicated to guests and a pre-cruise screening process has been instituted to determine the health eligibility of those who wish to cruise. In accordance with industry standards, Victory will conduct pre-voyage screenings for the protection of all guests, staff and crew at the designated check-in hotel. Before boarding the vessel, all guests will be required to complete a health and safety questionnaire and bring it with them to check-in.

At guest check-in a medical professional will perform health screenings and answer any guest or crew questions. The medical professional will have the authority to deny boarding to anyone that may pose a health risk. All guests and crew will complete a medical travel screening survey and have their temperatures taken. All forms will be reviewed by a medical representative and a member of shipboard staff. Thermal camera technology may be used to conduct noninvasive temperature checks as a supplement to manual temperature screening. Because of changes in check-in and boarding processes, no guests or crew will be allowed to check-in directly on the vessel. Only those who have completed and passed the medical screening will be allowed to board the vessel. Information will be provided to all guests and crew regarding onboard sanitization and safety procedures.

BOARDING PROCEDURES

Victory representatives will greet each visitor at the vessel access point. All procedures will be enforced and will be managed by the Master and a medical representative. One controlled access point will be maintained on the vessel and Victory will require a 24-hour notice for anyone that needs access to the vessel and has not been pre-screened during hotel screening. This includes all guests, crew, visitors and contractors. Onboard medical representative will be used to conduct screening, complete the health and safety survey and provide reports to the Master and each Hotel Director. Also, the vessel will utilize thermometers, supplemented by thermal cameras, to take temperatures of every individual (guest/crew) boarding the vessel.

DURING YOUR CRUISE

Monitoring both guests and crew during the cruise for symptoms and ensuring compliance with written policies and procedures is vital to maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Screening during the cruise will be handled through several methods. 

Trained staff will maintain protocols and observe passengers and crew for symptoms. The ship’s captain and medical representative will respond to medical calls, keep records, practice quarantine procedures and utilize shoreside medical facilities for passenger and crew follow-up.

The vessel access point will be monitored when in port, and controlled access to the vessel will be maintained. All passengers and crew will be passively monitored by thermal imaging when returning to the vessel.

Victory vessels will support random manual screening at the primary vessel access point in addition to passive thermal screening. In the event of a confirmed positive case, the vessel will manually screen 100% of all individuals coming and going from the vessel.

If a guest or crewmember has an elevated temperature, he or she will be evaluated by the medical representative before being allowed to board the vessel. Any guest who has an elevated temperature, shows signs or symptoms of illness or that vessel management feels needs to be further assessed will be sent directly to a local medical care partner for evaluation and testing. Any guest or crew that tests positive for any contagious condition will not be allowed to rejoin the vessel.

SANITATION PROCEDURES

Victory has instituted new training procedures for all housekeeping and sanitation staff. Increased sanitation of all contact surfaces such as handrails, tables, chairs, desks, work surfaces, door handles, telephones and elevator controls in both front and back of house will be conducted hourly with higher concentrated solutions.

MEDICAL SUPPORT

Each Victory vessel carries a certified onboard medical representative to respond to and assist guests with urgent medical care and coordinating shoreside medical assistance as needed. Quarantine procedures are in place for short term separation of potentially ill guests or crew until the next port of call, at which advanced medical care can be accessed. Upon a positive test or elevated response, the Victory response team will determine what additional company resources are required.

Given the nature of Victory’s coastal itineraries, they have the ability to reach shore-based medical facilities very quickly. Victory has established relationships with regional medical treatment facilities in key cities along vessel routes. While in port most days, guests and crew have access to shoreside medical evaluation and treatment if needed. In an emergency, Victory has the ability to quickly transfer passengers and crew to emergency medical services ashore by coordinating pick-up at municipal landings and docking facilities.

GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Victory will feature new protocols for all motor coach sanitation and safety. A reduced number of guests being transported on each motor coach (targeting 52% of capacity) will allow adequate space between individuals.

Contact Select Waterways to begin planning your next river or small ship 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. 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. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. 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.

SAFETY FIRST

SAFETY FIRST

In today’s blog, we wanted to answer some of the questions potential travelers have regarding how safe they will be onboard a river or small ship cruise the midst of a pandemic. First of all, there’s a vast difference between sailing with 100 or so other guests on a small ship or river vessel than on a 4,000-passenger ocean-going megaliner. Many people don’t have a comfort level regarding vacationing by large cruise ship but feel better about a smaller ship. Major cruise lines don’t plan to resume service for months, while some smaller companies sailing America’s rivers and coasts plan to ease some ships back into service in the next few weeks. In fact, with international travel borders subject to closure, now is the time to travel within the Untied States. 

Each line with which we do business has their own protocols, of course, but to give you some idea of the extent to which river and small ship operators are going to ensure your safety during these challenging times, we decided to look at what American Cruise Lines is doing. The following information comes straight from their website. We’ve chosen not to edit this list down because we believe it’s important to know how extensive the changes that cruise lines such as American Cruise Lines are making.

SHIP DESIGN & SIZE

  • American Cruise Line (ACL) ships have approximately 350 square feet of passenger space per guest at full capacity. This amount was increased to approximately 450 square feet per guest through capacity reduction measures and compared to approximately 140 square feet per guest on other ships.
  • There are independent HVAC systems in every stateroom and lounge. Air conditioning ducting is cited as a source of virus transmission; ACL ships have no shared ducting between rooms or public spaces.
  • UV-C water filtration systems for all potable water. These filtration systems kill a wide range of bacteria and viruses.
  • ACL has implemented a touchless boarding and check-in process. Medical screenings may require contact between a medical professional and the guest, however proper PPE will be donned and utilized.

NEW OPERATING PROCEDURES

  • Guest capacity has been reduced by 25%. Each cruise will sail with a maximum of 75% of the allotted guest capacity. Capacity reductions increase distancing measures and increase the ability for private crew accommodation.
  • Increased time between cruises to allow for full vessel sanitation.
  • Extensive pre-cruise screening measures and denial of boarding to anyone with flu-like symptoms or other qualifications of concern.
  • Sanitation rounds to be conducted on an hourly schedule, including sanitation of all touchpoints, including railings, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and gangways. 
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) to be available at all times for guests and crew. PPE includes face shields, gloves, and face masks. PPE may be required during certain events as situations dictate.
  • Public bathrooms will be closed. Guests will be asked to use the restrooms in their stateroom.
  • Hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the ship and at the gangway before each boarding and unboarding.
  • Luggage sanitation prior to loading on the ship. Deckhands performing sanitation will be wearing PPE.
  • Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be kept behind transmission barriers and passed to guests individually. American Cruise Lines will not have buffets.

CLEANING & SANITATION

  • PPE will be provided for all housekeepers.
  • Guests will have the same housekeeper for the duration of the cruise.
  • Cleaning chemicals meet EPA and CDC Guidelines. Most cleaning and sanitizing chemicals provided by Ecolab, a company providing hygiene products to more than three million customer locations around the world, including to the foodservice and healthcare industries.
  • Hypochlorous Acid Electrolyzed Water (HOCI) system onboard for sanitation.
  • Daily sanitation of all touchpoints in staterooms, including doorknobs, light switches, sink, balcony railing, thermostat, etc.
  • Disposable cover applied to each TV remote control prior to guest boarding.

MEDICAL SERVICES

  • Onboard medical services provided by Vikand Solutions, a certified global medical company, with long-standing experience in the maritime and cruise industries.
  • Resident nurse or EMT on each ship for the duration of each cruise.
  • Compliance with CDC sanitation guidelines.
  • Medical facility to be provided onboard with supplies.
  • Covid-19 testing in conjunction with facilities ashore.
  • Isolation rooms will be created and made available as necessary. An allotment of staterooms aboard each ship to be sanitized and kept unoccupied unless they become necessary for isolation purposes.
  • Outbreak Management Plan in place to respond to confirmed Covid-19 case onboard.
  • Coordinated care with shoreside medical facilities and evacuation plans in place from every port of call.

EMBARKATION SCREENING

  • Denial of boarding to anyone with flu-like symptoms or who has tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 30 days.
  • Denial of boarding to anyone who has travelled internationally in the past 14 days.
  • Private transportation directly to the ship (or to the arranged pre-cruise hotel, if the hotel has implemented suitable sanitation practices).
  • Medical tent with pre-boarding screening including respirations, oxygen, and temperature check. Covid-19 testing will performed as needed.
  • Touch free boarding and check-in process.

DINING

  • Main dining room capacity reduced with removal of tables and chairs to allow for social distancing.

  • All dining tables to be used only once during each meal service. There will not be multiple seatings at any table during any meal.

  • The Back Porch Café will continue operating as an additional dining option.

  • PPE will be provided for all chefs and galley workers.

  • In-room dining will be available to all guests upon request.

  • Breakfast service to private balconies will remain available.

  • Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be kept behind transmission barriers and passed to guests individually.

DINING

  • All tour venues screened for social distancing and sanitation practices.

  • Private coaches travel directly to and from each venue.

  • Coaches sanitized before every boarding.

  • Reduced coach capacity to allow for social distancing during rides.

  • Excursion capacities reduced to allow social distancing at each venue. Additional excursion times will be added as needed for guest enjoyment.

CREW TRAINING AND SCREENING

  • Pre-boarding screening practices will apply to guests and crew members. Additionally, crew members will be screened at the conclusion of every cruise.
  • Reduction of crew movement in public spaces and reduced shore leave. Crew trained to engage in social distancing at all times, including when off-duty.
  • Covid-19 identification training for all crew members. This includes training on how to observe and report symptoms, as well as how to self-identify their potential symptoms.
  • Covid-19 response training for all crew members.
  • PPE training for all crew members, including the purpose, use, and donning of PPE.

Contact Select Waterways to begin planning your next river cruise and anticipate the time when the world of river cruising returns. 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. 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. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. 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.

CRUISING IN A NEW WORLD

CRUISING IN A NEW WORLD

The world changed completely in just two months. We’ve never said that before in our lifetimes. Even the changes to travel wrought by 9/11 pale in comparison to the COVID-19 pandemic. Air travel is down 95%, countries have shut their borders and issued mandatory two-week quarantines for visitors and the entire cruise industry has shut down. We are living in an entirely new world. 

And that means that even as cruises resume, countries open their borders and flights begin to fill in the weeks and months ahead, we will be sailing in a new world as well. That’s why travel by river cruise and small ship, with passenger capacity limited to around 200 people or less, is going to boom. Not to mention it’s easy to stay close to home if you travel on America’s coasts and rivers. 

In today’s blog, we’re not going to recount or list when our river and small ship cruise line partners are going to begin sailing again, since that changes on an almost daily basis. Quite frankly, it’s too hard to know when it will be safe to sail again. And even then, your decision to sail is a personal choice and not one we can make for you.

However, how we cruise will be different thanks to masks, testing and social distancing. One of the biggest changes we’ve seen since the pandemic is in the cancellation policies.  Most companies are allowing guests to book future cruises and cancel those bookings with no penalty as close as 48 hours before sailing. Not to mention that there are some great deals to be found for cruises in late 2020 and through much of 2021. 

All that said, it’s still important that we all stay safe until we can travel with peace of mind again. And when we do begin cruising, the cruise lines will be working hard to keep us safe onboard. So, we suggest you do what we’ve been doing the past two months, which is following the guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

First of all, know how it spreads and be aware that though there is hope on the horizon, there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, which is spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). The virus travels through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Importantly, realize that some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms at all. 

Since there’s no way of knowing if the people you come in contact with have the virus or not, make sure you wash your hands often and do so with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands as these are easy entry points for the virus.

Next, avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. Naturally, put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home and, once again, remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people and do not gather in groups. Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. As you can imagine, keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

While the wearing of masks has become politicized, the simple truth is that wearing a mask provides you some protection but mostly protects other people if you happen to have the virus and you have no symptoms. That why you should always cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others because you could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Please observe proper social etiquette and remember that the cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Even with a mask, continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing. 

If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Both clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Lastly, take care of yourself and be alert for the most common symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. This is especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet. Take your temperature if symptoms develop but not within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

Take care of yourself in these unprecedented times and with liberal cancellation policies and great offers, it’s never too soon to start planning your river or small ship cruise.

Contact Select Waterways to begin planning your next river cruise and anticipate the time when the world of river cruising returns. 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. 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. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. 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.

SPAIN COMES TO WINDSTAR

SPAIN COMES TO WINDSTAR

If you love to eat, relish unique cuisine, adore Spain and are passionate about small ship cruising, then your dreams have just come true. Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso is a trailblazing new restaurant at sea that Windstar Cruises is introducing on its three all-suite ships as part of their $250 million reconstructions. It will debut in May 2020 on Star Breeze, followed later in 2020 on sister ships Star Legend and Star Pride.

Anyone who has tasted a true pan con tomate in Spain knows that this iconic Spanish dish is so much more than bread, tomato, and olive oil. Now, put it in the hands of celebrated chef Anthony Sasso — one of the youngest chefs to be recognized by the Michelin Guide — and pair it with 24-month aged jamón Ibérico sourced from pigs raised solely on acorns in Southern Spain, and you have something very special indeed.

By opening Cuadro 44, Sasso’s mission is to introduce cruisers around the globe to the flavorful and varied cooking of Spain, one of the world’s great food capitals. And no chef better embodies its cutting-edge yet rustic cuisine than Sasso, who earned his reputation as a culinary wunderkind while overseeing the kitchen at the New York restaurant Casa Mono, where he spent 13 years and earned the restaurant a Michelin star every year for 10 years.

Gourmands around the globe have been waiting in anticipation for Sasso’s next move, and with Windstar’s announcement of the inaugural menu for Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso, their wait will not have been in vain. “I want our guests to taste the kaleidoscope of Spain’s flavors,” says Sasso, whose menu spans the country from seaside País Vasco to North-African influenced Andalucía. “We’re going to make it feel as real as possible – like you’re floating on land in Andalucía with flamenco music playing and you’re looking out at the water from the beach.” Everything will be cooked from scratch in an open kitchen, and Sasso is eager to teach guests about the vernacular of Spanish cooking while also delighting their taste buds.

Unlike many contemporary seaside Spanish fare restaurants, where guests have to select among a number of options — feeling a sense of FOMO due to what they didn’t choose — a hallmark of Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso will be its appetizer presentation. Every guest will be welcomed with an array of options from the menu. “A lot of the first dishes will be small bites of very typical Spanish foods,” says Sasso. “We want it to feel like you’re at a tapas bar in Spain, presented with a ton of small plates that you can share with the people next to you.”

A trademark dish on any Spanish menu is the humble yet powerful Spanish tortilla from Madrid, made with potatoes, eggs, onions and olive oil. In Sasso’s hands, this rustic appetizer is elevated to culinary greatness with the addition of parsley crème fraiche and a potato chip gremolata, which is like a seasoned bread crumb. Another Spanish staple is the mighty paella from Valencia, combining arborio rice and seafood. At Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso, paella will be rolled into a ball-shaped croqueta and topped with nori panko crust, saffron sofrito, and chorizo aioli.

Next up are the Platos Grandes, the entrees — and while the list is highly curated, with just six options — what’s in store for guests will prove to be revolutionary when it comes to dining at sea. Sasso wanted to get away from expected dishes and can’t wait to introduce guests to Fideos Mar y Montaña, which is a surf-and-turf from Valencia. Sasso takes the unsung angel hair pasta, chops it up, and toasts it. After sautéing the pasta in a pan, he combines a confit chicken leg, chorizo, manila clams, beans, tomatoes, and lots of saffron. “It breaks every rule, which is why I love it,” says Sasso. “It’s one of the most fun dishes to eat at a Spanish restaurant because it’s sloppy and you put a spicy garlic mayo on it. It makes no sense, but it totally works and it’s great to eat with a group of people.”

Another highlight is the cod from País Vasco. Here, bacalao (cod) is poached in olive oil and served with a “pil pil” salsa, Yukon gold potatoes, pickled red jalapeños, and enough parsley to tint it green. “One of my favorite sauces of all time is pil pil, which is a crazy Basque preparation,” says Sasso. “You take the forgotten part of the cod, the fish cheeks, and throw them into a sizzling terracotta casserole. The name is an onomatopoeia. When you add the cold cheek to the hot oil, it makes a ‘pil pil’ sound.”

Even the unassuming sangria gets reinvented here. Sasso has incorporated it into the dessert menu with a dish called Torta de Santiago from Galicia, which is a boozy almond cake with sangria-soaked fruit and whipped nata ice cream. He is also putting his own spin on Churros y Chocolate, one of the most famous desserts in Spain, using a tamarind-infused chocolate sauce that is similar to mole. “We’re going to spice this chocolate up with chile flakes, some salt, and hibiscus to give it floral notes,” says Sasso.

Ultimately, Sasso wants to thrill diners with a sense of discovery. “We’re trying to go off the ledge and serve people something they’ve never tried before,” says Sasso. “It’s exciting for me, for Windstar, and for the guests aboard the ship.”

Contact Select Waterways to get a taste of Spain on your next Windstar Cruises’ small ship 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. 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. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1-844-SWCRUISE (1-844-792-7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

VIKING GOES EXPLORING

VIKING GOES EXPLORING

Viking Expeditions, a sister company to Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises, will begin sailing in January 2022 with its first vessel, Viking Octantis, embarking on voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes. A second expedition vessel, Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. Bookings for the inaugural season opened on January 15. 

The new Polar Class 6 Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will host 378 guests in 189 staterooms; both ships are currently under construction and will be delivered in Norway by Fincantieri’s VARD. Designed by the same experienced nautical architects and engineers that designed Viking ocean ships, the ships are optimally sized and built for expeditions – small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St. Lawrence River, while large enough to provide superior handling and stability in the roughest seas. The ships will feature public spaces that are familiar to Viking’s ocean cruise guests but that have been reimagined for expeditions, as well as new public spaces created specifically for expeditions. Straight bows, longer hulls and state-of-the-art fin stabilizers will allow the ships to glide over the waves for the calmest possible journey; ice-strengthened Polar Class 6 hulls will provide the safest way to explore; and U-tank stabilizers will significantly decrease rolling by up to 50 percent when the ships are stationary. Viking’s expedition ships will feature modern Scandinavian design with elegant touches, intimate spaces and attention to detail.

An industry first, The Hangar brings true comfort to expedition cruising. This enclosed, in-ship marina permits the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s multiple shell doors. The Hangar’s most innovative feature is an 85-foot slipway that allows guests to embark on RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves. 

Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, while hosting guests, will also be working research vessels with an onboard team of Viking Resident Scientists working on a variety of studies. Developed in consultation with Cambridge University and Viking’s other academic partners, The Laboratory, at 430 square feet, is designed to support a broad range of research activities and is equipped with wet and dry laboratory facilities, a sample processing area, fume cupboard, freezer and cool storage, comprehensive microscope optics and extensive bench space for analysis-specific instruments. Guests will have supervised access to The Laboratory, which is located in a glass-enclosed mezzanine above The Hangar, to learn from and participate with scientists undertaking primary research, an experience unique to Viking. 

Viking will offer a variety of ways for guests to experience their destination, according to their interests and activity level, at no extra charge. With a robust program of complimentary experiences, expedition equipment available for guests on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will include a fleet of military pro zodiacs designed for professional use in the harshest of environments; a fleet of two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks; and two 12-seater convertible RIBs. Each ship will also feature two six-guest submarines that feature revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows for an incomparable undersea experience. Everything guests need will be provided: a Viking Expedition Kit will contain items like boots, binoculars and waterproof pants; each excursion will carry a full range of Safety Equipment, such as satellite phones, VHF radios, ropes, life jackets and a comprehensive shore survival kit; and all guests will receive complimentary use of Viking Excursion Gear, which includes specialty items like trekking poles, snowshoes and skis.

Viking has created the world’s most advanced venue for learning at sea with The Aula, a stunning panoramic auditorium at the stern. Inspired by the University of Oslo’s famed ceremonial hall where the Nobel Peace Prize was historically awarded, The Aula will offer a dynamic venue for lectures and entertainment, with floor-to-ceiling windows and 270-degree views. Adjacent to The Aula through sliding glass walls is the Finse Terrace, an outdoor lounge area with comfortable couches and warming lava rock “firepits” – perfect for panoramic views of the surroundings. Together the two spaces can be combined to create an unmatched indoor-outdoor al fresco experience for guests to be immersed in nature.

A first for polar expedition cruise vessels, all staterooms on board Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an al fresco viewing platform. Harnessing the Norwegian reverence for light and to create the optimal wildlife observatory at sea, the Nordic Balcony’s floor-to-ceiling, distortion-free glass at the very edge of the ship lets guests take the views in, while keeping the elements out. Should guests wish to feel even closer to nature, the top of the panoramic glass lowers to transform the stateroom into a sheltered lookout, with an observation shelf at elbow level to stabilize binoculars or a camera. Guests can choose from six stateroom categories that range from 222 to 1,223 square feet. All staterooms feature a Nordic Balcony, as well as a king-size bed and large bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor and anti-fog mirror. Every stateroom is also equipped with a unique floor-to-ceiling drying closet that circulates warm air to dry and stores clothing and expedition gear.

Located at the stern and featuring a retractable glass dome, The Aquavit Terrace is an indoor-outdoor heated sanctuary will allow guests to be surrounded by their destination as they swim and lounge in three different temperature-controlled pools, including an “inside-out” swimming experience. 

In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, The Nordic Spa on board is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind – with a thermal suite that features a Sauna, Snow Grotto and chaise lounges, as well as a warm hydrotherapy pool and badestamp (hot tub), surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. A state-of-the-art Fitness Center will also provide the latest equipment and workout gear.

Similar to Viking’s ocean ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris have a two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ship, offering the perfect spot for taking in stunning scenery through double-height windows over a mug of mulled wine or glass of Norwegian aquavit. 

Viking’s expedition ships will offer an array of dining options that build on the successful venues from Viking’s ocean ships, but which have been redesigned for expeditions. The Restaurant will offer fine dining featuring regional cuisine and always-available classics; the casual World Café will be a new “market” concept that offers live cooking, an open kitchen, bakery, grill and premium seafood and sushi choices, as well as a wide range of international flavors; Mamsen’s, named for “Mamsen,” the Hagen family matriarch, serves Scandinavian-inspired fare; Manfredi’s offers the best of Italian cuisine; and 24-hour room service will be complimentary for all guests.

2022-2023 VIKING EXPEDITION INAUGURAL VOYAGES

Antarctic Explorer (13 days; Buenos Aires to Ushuaia) – This ultimate adventure takes you into the heart of the Antarctic peninsula, where you will see where penguins and seals compress the cycle of life into a short season; hike on “The Last Continent” with your expedition leader for insight into the extreme geology of the dramatic landscape; and watch whales breach and glaciers calve into the sea from the comfort of your ship. Multiple sailing dates in January, February, November and December 2022; January and February 2023.

Antarctic & South America Discovery (19 days; Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro) – Embark on a journey of extremes, taking you from icy Antarctica to tropical Rio. Explore the Antarctic Peninsula, covered in ice and teeming with penguins, seals, whales and other wildlife; witness one of the thriving penguin populations of the Falkland Islands; and discover the cultural treasures of Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Paranaguá. Multiple sailing dates in March, October and November 2022.

Arctic Adventure (13 days; Roundtrip Tromsø) – Experience the Arctic summer on this expedition, centered on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Discover dramatic landscapes far north of the Arctic Circle, where deep fjords give way to glaciers; and look out for polar bears and seals from a RIB. Multiple sailing dates in August and September 2022.

From the Arctic to the Antarctic (44 days; Tromsø to Ushuaia) – Traverse the globe from the far north to the extreme south on this ultimate journey. Start in Norway’s northernmost town above the Arctic Circle and continue past rugged peaks and fishing villages to the rolling landscapes of the Shetland Islands and Ireland’s green shores. Next, cross the equator on your trans-Atlantic sailing to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, then further on to Buenos Aires and finally—to the “Last Continent”—to be amazed by the otherworldly scenery, pristine nature and abundant penguins, seals and other wildlife few will ever see. Sailing date: September 21, 2022.

Undiscovered Great Lakes (8 days; Thunder Bay, Ontario to Milwaukee) – From Northern forests to pristine lagoons, encounter the natural splendor of the Great Lakes. Visit bald eagle and bear habitats that abut charming frontier towns in this remote region of North America; and pass between Lake Superior and Lake Huron via the impressive Soo Locks.

Great Lakes Explorer (8 days; Milwaukee to Thunder Bay, Ontario) – Embark on a true expedition along “the nation’s fourth seacoast,” from Georgian Bay’s granite islands to Thunder Bay’s towering cliffs. Experience the car-free idyllic Mackinac Island, and learn about indigenous cultures and frontier life along the way.

Niagara & The Great Lakes (8 days; Toronto to Milwaukee) – From urban skylines to uninhabited islands, discover the wilderness nestled in the interior of North America alongside world-class cultural attractions in Detroit, Toronto and Milwaukee. Witness the majesty of Niagara Falls, and enjoy scenic cruising past North America’s busiest border as you cross Lake Huron.

Canadian Discovery (13 days; New York to Toronto) – Cruise from Canada’s southeast coast to the St. Lawrence River, where you will learn about the region’s rich past amid stunning natural settings and celebrated cities. Sail along the coasts of New England and Nova Scotia; discover the remote reaches and locally sourced seafood of Prince Edward Island; explore the Saguenay Fjord, home to seals, whales and other sea mammals; and go salmon fishing in Quebec’s Moisie River.

Just give us a call at Select Waterways to become one of the first to go exploring with Viking. Select Waterways are also 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. 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. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. 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.