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And The Good News For Singles Continues

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Uniworld River Cruises adds its overture to singles, joining Azamara Club Cruises and Silversea Cruises in greatly reducing or eliminating single supplements on select sailings.  Unfortunately, you need to act very quickly, as Uniworld’s offer is valid only until June 30th.

“Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has announced it will waive its single supplement charge on a selection of popular 2010 European river cruises allowing solo travellers to cruise at no additional charge.

John Molinaro, general manager, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection said, ‘We know that luxury European river cruising is a popular holiday option for people who wish to travel on their own. To continue to grow this market, we have decided to waive single supplement charges on many of our 2010 cruises.’

This offer is available on a range of dates on the following popular itineraries:

  • Eight-day Castles Along the Rhine travelling from Basel and Amsterdam priced from $2,577
  • Eight-day Enchanting Danube travelling from Budapest to Passau priced from $2,452
  • 10-day Paris & European River Romance travelling from Paris to Vienna priced from $4,177
  • 10-days Rhine & Main Holiday Markets from Nuremberg to Cologne from $3,214
  • 11-day Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley travelling from Lisbon to Porto priced from $3,952
  • 13-day European Serenade travelling from Vienna to Amsterdam priced from $4,743
  • 15-day Grand European Discovery travelling from Basel to Vienna priced from $5,304

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises are an intimate holiday experience where your elegant floating hotel actually travels with you!  Your magnificent stateroom is adorned with the finest Egyptian cotton sheets, luxurious towels and plush robes, European toiletries, individual air conditioning and a flat screen television.  From beauty salon to sauna, the exquisitely appointed ships are decked out for your every comfort.  You’ll enjoy world-class cuisine prepared by chefs using fresh ingredients sourced from local markets along the way.  Altogether, it’s a hypnotic blend of history and culture with award-winning hospitality.

Conditions apply.”

Technorati Tags: Cruise line, single supplement, Uniworld River Cruises

Silversea Announces Lower Single Supplements

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Following Azamara Club Cruises’ announcement detailed in yesterday’s post, Silversea announces new, discounted single supplements that range from only 10% to 25% of the per person double occupancy fare on select 2010 sailings in select stateroom categories.

“Silversea’s new solo traveller fares are among the most generous at sea – now only 10% – 25% above the double occupancy fares on select 2010 voyages. These special rates allow single guests the freedom to travel independently without the inconvenience of finding a travel companion to keep costs down.

With savings of up to 60% plus the value of these low single supplements, this is the perfect time to treat yourself to a luxurious Silversea cruise. All-inclusive fares include a spacious, ocean-view suite – most with private veranda, personalised butler service, complimentary wines and spirits, fine dining, sophisticated enrichment and entertainment programmes, a full-service spa and all onboard gratuities.”

Silversea listed well over 20 cruises on which the reduced single supplements are being offered.  While numerous, it is important to remember the usual caveats.  Inventory is limited. Savings may vary by category, and may not be available in all categories.

This is welcome news.  As the population ages, and the number of singles increases, I think this will be a growing trend.  I selfishly hope so.

Technorati Tags: Cruise line, reduced single suppplement, Silversea Cruises

Mexican Riviera Cruises In Decline

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Royal Caribbean recently announced that the 3835 passenger Mariner of the Seas will leave the Port of Los Angeles in January for its new home port of Galveston, thus ending its weekly cruises to the Mexican Riviera.  Norwegian Cruise Line had already announced last year that it will no longer offer Mexican Riviera cruises after May 2011, when the Norwegian Star is relocated to Tampa. A bit further south, Carnival moved the Elation, the only major cruise ship based in San Diego, to Mobile.

Bookings on Mexican Riviera cruises have declined 21% in the past two years.  Industry observers believe this is the result of the ongoing war between the Mexican government and the drug cartels.  Widespread coverage of the terrible violence throughout the country has made the potential passengers cautious.  Not only having bookings declined, but those who do sail have become less inclined to go on shore excursions, further reducing the ships’ revenues.

It becomes a question of economics.  Moving the ships from a port with declining revenue to one with greater potential is an obvious decision.  The cruise companies can hardly be faulted for taking these steps.

It is, however, very sad.  There are perhaps thousands of Mexican citizens in the major ports of call who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihood.  They live and work in cities which have barely been touched by the violence so prevalent in other areas.  They will, nevertheless, become indirect victims of the rampant crime.

The cruise industry won’t vanish completely from Mexican waters.  Princess Cruises has not announced a reduction in their schedule, and Disney Cruise Line is bringing a ship to California early next year.  The industry’s presence, however, will be significantly reduced.  With a reduction in ships and passengers comes a reduction in tourist dollars, and a blow to a precarious standard of living.

Technorati Tags: Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise lines, NCL, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

A Bargain for Singles

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Azamara Club Cruises is offering a great promotion for single travelers.  Singles pay just 125% of the total cabin fare on select 2010 European voyages.  On select sail dates, a single guest wishing to book a stateroom will be charged 125% of the total cabin fare. This price will include all taxes, fees and onboard gratuities. This offer is valid for new bookings only unless sold out. Sail dates applicable for this offer are subject to inventory control and may be closed at any time without notice.

This promotion is being offered on Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.  Sail dates in 2010 are:

Azamara Journey
30 Jun, 24 Jul, 29 Aug,22 Oct, 3 Nov

Azamara Quest
2 Jul, 12 Jul, 24 Jul,3 Aug, 15 Aug,27 Aug, 2 Oct, 16 Oct,23 Oct, 30 Oct, 6 Nov,
13 Nov, 20 Nov

I think this is a great opportunity for single travelers to experience Azamara without having to pay twice as much as their partnered fellow passengers.  I hope we see more of this in the future on other lines.

Technorati Tags: Azamara Club Cruises, Cruise lines, discounted single fares

Princess Cruises Announces Their Art Connoisseur Cruises

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Interested in art?  Do you think you might be interested in purchasing a new work or, perhaps, meeting some artists?  Princess Cruises has a number of art-themed cruises coming up that might intrigue you.  According to their press release issued today:

“Some of today’s top contemporary artists will be making appearances aboard nine upcoming Princess Cruises sailings as part of the line’s Art Connoisseur Cruises.  Featuring as many as 10 contemporary artists in a single voyage, these special sailings offer activities for both avid collectors and art newcomers.

A wide range of internationally acclaimed artists will join the ship for Art Connoisseur cruises, including names such as painter Howard Behrens, bas relief sculptor Bill Mack, pop artist Allison Lefcort, and marine life artist Wyland.  The voyages offer a variety of events with the artists, such as meet-and-greet sessions or demonstrations.  Some artists, including pop fusion painter Eric Waugh even entertain crowds with live painting sessions set to music.  Other famous names onboard will include young phenomenon Alexandra Nechita and “rock star of the art world” Michael Godard.

Art Connoisseur cruises are part of Princess’ Fine Arts program, an onboard program that offers passengers the opportunity to see and learn about some of the notable artwork produced in the last century.  Each ship features artwork from collectable artists for sale on board with art auctions during each cruise.

“These special sailings offer our passengers the opportunity to go behind the art by meeting the artists and learning more about what inspires their work,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president.  “Passengers often find a new artist whose work they enjoy, or learn more about one they’ve admired.  Others simply like exploring the world of art and the work of an artist.”

Princess’ upcoming Art Connoisseur cruises include:

July 4 – 16                              Ruby Princess – 12 days Grand Mediterranean

Howard Behrens, Michael Godard, Dorit Levi, Aldo Luongo, Sharie Hatchett Bohlmann, Allison Lefcort,      Alexandra Nechita, Bill Mack, Manoukian Martiros

July 16 – 28                            Ruby Princess – 12 days Grand Mediterranean

Bill Mack, Howard Behrens, Michael Godard, Eric Waugh, Sharie Hatchett Bohlmann, Dorit Levi, Alexandra     Nechita, Aldo Luongo, Manoukian Martiros, Alexandre Renior

Sept 17 – 27                           Crown Princess – 10 days Classic Canada New England

Wyland, Walfrido Garcia, James Warren

Oct 4 – 20                              Diamond Princess – 16 days Southeast Asia & China

Alina Eydel, Sharie Hatchett Bohlmann, Bill Mack

Oct 17 – 29                            Star Princess – 12 days Egypt & Aegean

Allison Lefcort, Nobuaki Haihara, Michael Godard, Nicola Berardino, Des Brophy

Nov 3 – 19                             Diamond Princess –16 days Southeast Asia & China

Eric Waugh, Nobu Haihara, Sharie Hatchett Bohlmann, David Schluss, Bill Mack

Nov 11 – 13                           Pacific Princess – 12 days Holy Land

Allison Lefcort, Dorit Levi

Nov 19 – Dec 5                      Diamond Princess – 16 days Southeast Asia & China

Dorit Levi, Sharie Hatchett Bohlmann, Aldo Luongo

Dec 28 – Jan 7, 2011             Emerald Princess – 10 days Caribbean

Bill Mack, Allison Lefcort, Martiros

In addition to presenting works from collectable contemporary artists, Princess also offers a special ScholarShip@Sea presentation for those who would like to learn more about the world of art.  The free course, Art History@Sea: Botticelli to Warhol, The Evolution of Art, was developed in conjunction with Dr. Thomai Serdari, Professor of Art History and Director of Research Collections for New York University. Presented by the onboard art director, this course makes 500 years of art come to life in a one-hour session.  This course is available on Art Connoisseur Cruises and most other Princess sailings.”

In light of the news yesterday that 2 dozen litigants sued Park West, the biggest player in on board art auctions, it is, I think, worth noting that Princess does not use their services and is not in any way involved in the litigation.

Technorati Tags: art auctions at sea, art on cruise ships, Cruise line, Princess Cruises

Crystal Simplifies Check-in and Pre-Cruise Operations

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Crystal Cruises has announced a brand new online tool to simplify check-in and pre-cruise operations for its worldwide itineraries.  Effective this July, the Priority Check-in & Planning Center will allow guests expanded options to complete tasks prior to sailing, from submitting guest immigration information and airport/ship transfer requests to booking spa treatments and shore excursions.

Immigration and flight details can be submitted upon initial deposit via the new ‘Priority Check-in’ portion of the system, which also allows guests to request bed configurations and register their credit card for onboard charges, and provides easy access to partner websites like Luggage Concierge.  Guests can view availability of restaurant and spa reservations, including Crystal’s new Perfect Choice Dining, available in 2011.

Once the Priority Check-in and full cruise payment are complete, the ‘Planning Center’ enables guests to customize their Crystal cruise by making real-time reservations for the ships’ restaurants and the spa, as well as reservation requests for Vintage Room experiences, pre-reserve shore excursions and sign up for Crystal’s Creative Learning Institute courses.  As the system will only show available restaurant and spa openings, guests will receive immediate confirmation of their reservations, whereas previously, only requests were submitted, and later confirmed on board.  Another convenient feature allows gentlemen to pre-reserve tuxedo rental for formal evenings. 

“The Priority Check-in and Planning Center is designed to make the Crystal Experience more convenient for our guests by allowing them to take care of embarkation day arrangements on their own time, from the comfort of home,” says Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president, operations.  “By checking in and making arrangements before boarding, travelers can eliminate time spent in the terminal waiting in line, and begin their luxury vacation almost immediately.”

Also brand new, the Planning Center’s comprehensive Cruise Calendar organizes daily requests and activities.  The calendar will also advise dress codes, docking times and port locations for each day of the voyage, and will alert guests to any conflicts between their planned flight itineraries and embarkation/disembarkation schedules.  Travelers simply print their completed itineraries and present them at embarkation for priority boarding.

Celebrity Cruises’s Exciting Deals

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Celebrity Cruises announced details of a one-day sale scheduled for this coming Tuesday, June 22nd.  These offers are special rates for upcoming cruises with limited availability. Only a selection of staterooms are available, and these rates must be booked on Tuesday, 6/22/2010.

The sale fares are on select Alaska cruises departing between July 9, 2010 and July 23, 2010.

As an example, oceanview cabins in Categories 3, 4 and 5 on the July 18th sailing of Celebrity Mercury from Vancouver are priced at $799USD or $819CAD per person, 1st and 2nd passenger.  Third and fourth passengers will pay $499USD or $509CAD.   Similar sale fares are offered on Millenium and Infinity, as well.

As usual, the small print restrictions apply. To wit:  “All prices are per person, double occupancy, cruise only. The staterooms available at these prices are limited. All itineraries and prices are current at time of transmission and subject to change without notice.  Government taxes and fees are additional. Certain restrictions apply.”  

If you’ve been holding off on your summer travel plans, this might be a good time to consider an Alaskan cruise.  If you’ve never been there, it is well worth it.  July is peak season and the scenery is extraordinary.

Libya Beckons

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Following Libya’s recent decision to grant visas to cruise ships carrying US citizens, Voyages of Discovery has announced a Fall departure that includes two ports of call in Libya.

Voyages of Discovery was founded in 2003 by Gerry Herrod, a well known veteran of the cruise industry and former chairman of Orient Lines, Ocean Line Cruises, and Pearl Cruises.  The intended purpose of the line is to offer soft adventure to passengers who are drawn to port intensive, educational trips, while enjoying the creature comforts that a classic cruise can provide.

MV Discovery, the only ship in the fleet, is the former Island Princess, one-time sister to the original Love Boat.  At 20,216 tons, she holds 650 passengers and provides most of the amenities found on larger ships.

Cyrene

The Grand Voyage of Exploration begins November 3, 2010 with a two-night stay in Cairo, followed by a 28 night cruise departing from Alexandria.  There will be two stops in Libya – Benghazi for a visit to Cyrene, and Al Khums, a short distance from the magnificent Leptis Magna.  Both sites have been designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.  From there the ship will wend its way through the Mediterranean, stopping at nine other ports, including Valetta, Malaga and Gibraltar, before eventually crossing the Atlantic for a visit to several islands in the Caribbean.  The cruise will end with an overnight in Barbados.

Cruise fares start at $3637 per person, and include the 2 night hotel stay in Cairo with breakfast, sightseeing and transfer, and free air from select gateways.

This is not a cruise that will appeal to everyone, nor is it practical for most people who have to work.  But still, it does resonate with me.  I won’t be on this cruise. A month at sea is not yet in the cards.  Thankfully, there are still some things for which I am too young. But Libya – I need to get there soon.  I look forward to other entrants into this new cruise market.

Princess Cruises Launches New California Coastal Cruises

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Princess Cruises has decided to offer something a little different on the West Coast next year.   Sapphire Princess will sail round trip out of Los Angeles late in 2011 on two 7 day California Coastal Cruises.

The cruises are scheduled between the end of the ship’s Alaska season and the beginning of her alternating Mexican Riviera/Hawaii season.  Sapphire Princess is scheduled to depart Los Angeles on September 24th and October 1st.

Published cruise fares on the 2670 passenger, 116,000 ton vessel for theses cruises range from $799 per person for an inside cabin to $1299 per person for a mini-suite.  Ports of call include San Diego, Ensenada, Santa Barbara and San Francisco, where passengers will enjoy a particularly long 15 hour stay:

Itinerary
Port
Arrival
Departure
1
Los Angeles, California 4:00 PM
2
Santa Barbara, California
7:00 AM
6:00 PM
3
At Sea
4
San Francisco, California
7:00 AM
10:00 PM
5
At Sea
6
San Diego, California
8:00 AM
6:00 PM
7
Ensenada, Mexico
8:00 AM
5:00 PM
8
Los Angeles, California
7:00 AM

I like this idea.  It seems to me to be a great way, for those disinclined to drive, to experience some of what the Pacific Coast has to offer, with all the advantages that cruises provide.  I’d do this myself.  Anyone else?

River Cruising Returns to the American Heartland

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Great news!  For those of you who have been hoping for the return of river cruising to America’s heartland, Cruise West issued the following press release today.  With interest in river cruising booming worldwide, this comes at a particularly good time:   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 16, 2010

Cruise West Sails the Mississippi River

Exploring the Big Easy by Small Ship

SEATTLE, WA (June 16, 2010) – Cruise West, a global leader in small-ship explorations, today announced two new itineraries sailing on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers, starting in March, 2011. These inaugural voyages will take place aboard the Spirit of America, formerly the Spirit of Glacier Bay.

“Many of our loyal customers asked us to bring the Cruise West small-ship experience to the Mississippi and other “heartland” rivers… and we are delighted to be able to deliver an experience that will surprise and delight guests with a perspective of the South that can only be achieved by small-ship,” shared Dick West, Cruise West’s Chairman and Managing Director. “My family is extremely proud to offer guests the opportunity to sail an American flagged ship on one of the most iconic American rivers.”

Known to many as America’s Great River Road, the Mississippi is North America’s longest river. For centuries, it has played a major role in commerce as a vital transit route for passengers and freight of every description – including cotton, timber, food, and Appalachian coal. The writings of Mark Twain turned the river into a cultural icon as well. So today, a cruise on the Mississippi is an adventure through history and literature, as well as spectacular vistas.

“This market has been underserved since 2008 with the departure of Majestic Cruise line,” commented Dietmar Wertanzl, Cruise West’s President and CEO. “We are proud to be the only cruise line offering overnight cruises on these great American Rivers.”

Guests will enjoy the iconic South, while sailing the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis, taking in the sights of white mansions, lush gardens, historic plantations, and poignant civil war monuments. In addition to exceptional scenery around every bend, guests on this 7-night itinerary will enjoy all of the following:

• Stopping in Vacherie to visit Oak Alley Plantation, the most photographed plantation in the South.

• Visiting The Myrtles – “America’s Most Haunted House.”

• Discovering the spectacular antebellum and Victorian architecture of picturesque Natchez, Missouri.

• Touring Vicksburg National Military Park, scene of the Civil War battle that gave the North control of the Mississippi.

• Strolling through Helena, Arkansas – one-time home to no fewer than seven generals of the confederacy.  

The second new river voyage – a 7-night excursion further up river – begins and ends with two hotbeds of American music, Memphis and Nashville. Guest will follow the Mississippi north to Cairo, at the confluence of the Ohio River. They will cruise on upriver to the Tennessee and the narrow Cumberland River. On this journey, guests will enjoy:

• Exploring the charming and historic town of New Madrid, Missouri.

• Taking in numerous galleries and the Center of Maritime Education in Paducah, Kentucky.

• Walking through Fort Smith – a Civil War staging area once occupied by Ulysses S. Grant.

• Touring Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Dover, Tennessee, site of the first major Union victory.

• Discovering Clarksville, Tennessee, one of the South’s most historic cities and home to memorable architecture and attractions.

Between these itineraries, guests may choose from 8 departure dates with prices starting at $3,499 before savings and include all excursions and hotel nights as listed. The New Orleans to Memphis (reverse dates noted with asterisk) dates include March 19, April 9*April 16, and May 7*, 2011. The Memphis to Nashville dates include March 26 and April 2*, 23, 30*,2011. Guests can save $600 per person by paying in full by July 30, 2010. For further details, contact a travel professional.

About Cruise West

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful. Small-ship explorations allow up-close and personal experiences unmatched by the traditional larger cruise lines. For more than 63 years Cruise West has provided authentic travel experiences where the destination is the focus. The fleet of small ships with guest capacities ranging from 78-148 explores remote and distinctive destinations throughout the globe. A robust onboard enrichment program further enhances the guest experience through topical guest lecturers, additional exploration by Zodiac and included excursions at every port.