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TOLL FREE 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847) [email protected]
OUR FAVORITE SHIPBOARD DINING SPOTS

OUR FAVORITE SHIPBOARD DINING SPOTS

Dining on a European river cruise or Mississippi river cruise is almost certainly going to be one of the highlights of your voyage. While we try not to play favorites, we must admit that there are a few river cruise dining experiences that really stand out. We have a feeling you will enjoy them as much as we do.

We adore The Chef’s Table on any of AmaWaterways ships. Join a few of your fellow travelers at The Chef’s Table, where the fully visible kitchen becomes part of the entertainment. You’ll have the opportunity to watch the chef prepare a special, multi-course meal right in front of you. The menu here is unique, making this a truly distinct gastronomic experience. Indulge in delectable dishes paired with unlimited fine wines, hand selected just for this dinner. You’ll need reservations but don’t worry because everyone aboard gets their chance. We always try to dine at The Chef’s Table on the last night of our voyage. It ends the cruise on a culinary high note.

If you want to step back in time the J. M. White Dining Room on American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen is just the ticket. With its ornate fretwork and galleries rising two decks high framed by narrow, Victorian-draped windows, this elegant room is one of our favorites because it feels completely authentic. It’s easy to imagine you’re drifting along the Mississippi with Mark Twain as a charming table companion 125 years ago. Along the way, indulge in Southern favorites like bourbon pecan pie, Cajun shrimp and cheese grits, spicy gumbo, fried green tomatoes and, of course, a refreshing mint julep.

Maybe you’ll think we’re cheating a bit when we talk about our favorite river cruise dining spots if we include all the restaurants on Uniworld River Cruises but, to be honest, we just can’t help ourselves. You see, Uniworld boasts the only Zagat-rated restaurants on the rivers, and it shows. When dining onboard, you’ll be treated to world-class cuisine made from fresh ingredients, locally sourced from the destinations you visit. For example, a dinner menu on the Catherine, en route to Avignon, features delicacies such as cod loin in bouillabaisse jus, barigoule artichoke, broad beans and saffron potatoes; roasted rack of lamb in mustard herb crust, olive and sweet garlic sauce, eggplant mash, tomato provençale and boulangère potatoes; iced Montélimar nougat parfait with red berry sauce; and French lemon tart with homemade melon ice cream. Delicious!

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

WHAT IS VAT?

WHAT IS VAT?

When sailing on your dream European river cruise, the chances are that you’re going to do some shopping. Maybe a lot of shopping. But when you do, you’ll discover a little thing called VAT which can be confusing if you’re not in the know. Let us help you become a savvy shopper and get the refunds you’re due. 

The Value Added Tax, or VAT, in the European Union is a general, broadly based consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. It applies more or less to all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the European Union. You’ll find that a standard VAT is about 15% to 25% depending on the specific country and it’s added to everything from a hotel bill or restaurant bill to a small purchase at a boutique or a ticket to a museum.

However, goods that are sold for export or services sold to customers abroad are normally not subject to VAT. That means that if you’re bringing goods back into the United States, you can often get a VAT refund. Getting a VAT refund is, quite frankly, a hassle. We’re not huge shoppers so we don’t find it worth the time and effort. But if you plan on buying thousands of dollars in jewelry or electronic equipment, it might be worth your while to seek a refund. The VAT you pay on hotels, meals or other services is not refundable. Only merchandise qualifies for a VAT refund, but the process can be rather complicated. So, what to do?

1 – Bring your passport with you when shopping. 

2 – Ask the merchant if they participate in VAT refunds. 

3 – If they do, ask the merchant to fill out the required tax-free form and then attach your receipt to the form as you leave .

4 – Some stores will work with you at the time of purchase to get you a refund by asking that once the forms are stamped at the border, you mail them back to them and they can then credit your charge card at a later date.

5 – If a store does not work with you on-site for a VAT refund, bring all your paperwork and receipts of your major purchases (in most cases, each individual purchase must exceed a set amount ranging as high as $300 depending on the specific country) to the airport or border crossing.

6 – For purchases made in the European Union, you can’t collect a VAT refund until you depart the last country in the European Union.

7 – Get your documents stamped at customs as you leave Europe but be prepared for long lines of others doing the same thing.

8 – Be prepared to show the goods you’ve purchased if you are asked to do so by the customs officer; if your purchases are not in your carry-on luggage, don’t check your bags until you’ve completed this step.

9 – If the merchant belongs to a refund service, you’ll need to find the desk for that service at the airport or border crossing; Global Blue and Premier Tax Free are the most common.

10 – You may get a cash refund right then and there from a refund service or you might have to then mail the documents to the refund service.

11 – Be patient, because it can take several weeks or even months before a VAT refund shows up on your credit card or a check arrives in the mail.

12 – Remember that your refund will be paid in the same currency used for the purchase, such as the Euro, which means you will pay a currency exchange fee in order to convert the payment to US dollars.

Hopefully this information helps shed light on this process. Select Waterways will be glad to provide more details when you travel on a European river cruise.

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

WORLD’S FIRST EXPEDITION WORLD CRUISE

WORLD’S FIRST EXPEDITION WORLD CRUISE

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

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

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

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

SMALL SHIPS GET BIGGER… AND NICER

SMALL SHIPS GET BIGGER… AND NICER

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

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

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

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

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

TIPS ON TIPPING

TIPS ON TIPPING

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

SHIPBOARD STAFF

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

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

BUS DRIVERS AND SHORE EXCURSION GUIDES

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

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

SHIPBOARD BARTENDERS

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

PORTERS

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

CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT OF ALL

CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT OF ALL

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

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

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

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