Focus On Cruising

Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

River Boat Cruises in China

No Comments »

Victoria Jenna

River boat cruises in China are essentially limited to the great Yangtze River.  Rising in the Tibetan Palteau and traversing the width of China before emptying into the East China Sea near Shanghai, the Yangtze -at 3915 miles- is the third longest river in the world, behind the Amazon and Nile rivers.  Historically, the Yangtze marks the division between North and South China.

While there are many sites of historical and cultural interest along the way, the highlight of any river boat cruise on the Yangtze is the mesmerizing Three Gorges Region.  Arrayed along approximately 150 miles of the river, the gorges enchant and awe the visitor.  The Qutang Gorge is the shortest and narrowest, with the tallest peaks and the most spectacular scenery. Wu (Witches) Gorge passes through lush, mist shrouded mountains. Finally, Xiling Gorge at 47 miles, is the longest of the three, with high, narrow, precipitous cliffs.

Many passengers opt to transfer to a smaller vessel for the popular excursion up the Daning River to visit the Three Lesser Gorges – Dragon Gate, Misty and Emerald Green.  Narrower than the Three Gorges, these gorges offer dramatic canyon scenery.  Man-made sites are also included in these river boat cruises.  Of particular note are the Shibaozhai Temple, a dramatic, red, 12 story wooden structure and the immense Three Gorges Dam.

The majority of the river boat cruises sail between Chongqing and Yichang, for either 3 or 4 nights, depending on direction, or 7 nights roundtrip.  For those with more time, there are longer cruises from Chongqing to Nanjing or Shanghai.  Depending on direction, these can take up to 11 days.

Viking River cruises operates 2 vessels on the Yangtze, Viking Century Sun and Viking Emerald, offered in conjunction with land tours.  Victoria Cruises, the other major river boat cruise operator in the region, has 8 ships deployed on this magnificent river.

Technorati Tags: China, river boat cruises, Three Gorges, Victoria Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Yangtze River

River Boat Cruises in Europe

No Comments »

The Viking Pride

Europe has the most developed and extensive river boat sector in the world. River boat cruises are offered along the Danube, Main, Rhine, Moselle, Rhone, Saone, Seine and Douro rivers. Competition is brisk and the selection wide. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, AMA Waterways, Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways, in addition to many smaller companies, all have numerous vessels plying European rivers.

Europe’s rivers were the highways and trade routes of early Europe. As a result, the river banks became the birthplace of many towns and cities. River boat cruises afford the traveler the opportunity to visit great cities, such as Paris, Vienna, Budapest – and smaller towns, like Koblenz, Trier, Wurtzburg.

BY exploring Europe via its beautiful rivers, one experiences European travel in a more traditional manner, approaching destinations the way they were originally meant to be reached. And since river boats are relatively small, carrying perhaps a couple hundred passengers, they are able to dock in the heart of town. Gone are the hassles of train and bus travel. Passengers spend less time getting there, and more time being there.

A river boat cruise along one of Europe’s great rivers allows the traveler to immerse himself in the cultures of several regions in one trip. Consider the Danube, the second longest river in Europe. The Danube rises in the Black Forest and empties into the Black Sea. Along the way, it passes through 10 countries. More than a dozen languages are spoken along its banks.

The Danube is witness to 2000 years of European history, with all the variety of culture, food, and architecture that that history implies. Four capitals grew up along its banks – Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Belgrade – more than any other river in the world.

The Rhine rises in the Swiss Alps, passing through Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Germany, France and the Netherlands, before emptying into the North Sea. Only about half the length of the Danube, the Rhine still engages the traveler, boasting more than 40 castles and fortresses along a single stretch in Germany.

The rivers, the sites, the options and the opportunities go on and on. A river boat cruise offers just about the best way for a traveler to visit the heart of Europe. Perhaps even more accurately stated, it is the best way for the traveler to be touched by Europe’s heart.

Technorati Tags: Danube River, Europe, Rhine River, river boat cruises, river cruises

Paradise on Sale

No Comments »

Paul Gauguin

French Polynesia is definitely on my list of must-see places.  It is said to be exquisitely beautiful, often cited by returning visitors as the most beautiful place they have ever been.  One of these days…

How about you?  Have you dreamed of sailing around the Society Islands, feeling the warm sun on your face, sinking your feet into the white powder sand, swimming in the clear, clean water?  Do you long to sit and watch a flaming sunset from your veranda, the cool soft blues and greens of the water gradually melding with the vibrant reds and oranges of the sky?

If so, there is no better way to do this than on the Paul Gauguin.  For a limited time, Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering last minute savings on its Fall/Early Winter sailings.

Receive the following Ship Board Credits on these select 2010 sailings:

*   $250 pp ($500 / stateroom) - Oct. 30 (7 nights)
*   $500 pp ($1000 / stateroom) - Nov. 6 (14 nights New Zealand,
    Tonga, Cook & Society Islands)
*   $500 pp ($1000 / stateroom) - Nov. 21 (14 nights New Zealand,
    Tonga, Cook & Society Islands)
*   $500 pp ($1000 / stateroom) - Dec. 4 (14 nights Marquesas,
    Tuamotus, & Society Islands)
*   BOOK BY AUGUST 31, 2010

*   $250 pp ($500 / stateroom - Dec. 18 (9 nights to Society &
    Tuamotus)
*   $250 pp ($500 / stateroom - Dec. 27 (9 nights to Society &
    Tuamotus)
*   BOOK BY SEPTEMBER 15, 2010

This is for NEW BOOKINGS ONLY and combinable with 2 for 1 or free
airfare from Los Angeles.

It is my custom to pass information of this sort on to my readers without
suggesting you book the cruise with me.  I will advise you, this time,
that my agency has a further amenity of $100 per person Ship Board
Credit ($200 per stateroom) in addition to the credits mentioned above.

If interested, you may contact me through the contact form on the sidebar.   

Technorati Tags: Cruise line, French Polynesia, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Polynesia, ship board credit, Tahiti

Legendary Journeys

No Comments »

Seven Seas Voyager

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering some remarkable savings on segments of its 2011 World Cruise on Seven Seas Voyager.  Dubbed “Legendary Journeys”, these sailings offer remarkable ports of call for those with the necessary time and resources.

Guests will enjoy 2-for-1 cruise fares plus additional bonus savings of up to $3000 per person, in addition to the all-inclusive amenities always offered by Regent:

  • FREE Roundtrip Air
  • FREE Ground Transfers between airport and ship
  • FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions
  • FREE beverages including fine wines, beer and premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees and tea served throughout the ship
  • FREE in-suite mini-bar replenished daily with soft drinks, beer and bottled water
  • FREE 24-hour room service and no additional charge for specialty restaurants
  • FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities

Regent is also offering Business Class upgrades on international flights for $1499 per person each way.

Five World Cruise segments are included in the promotion:

San Francisco to Auckland, January 14, 2011, for 25 nights;

Sydney to Beijing, February 23, 2011, 25 nights;

Beijing to Bangkok, March 20, 2011, 20 nights;

Bangkok to Dubai, April 9, 2011, 25 nights;

Dubai to Rome, May 4, 2011, 20 nights.

With cruise fares starting at $12, 999 per person, these cruises will be available to a relative handful of people, but their appeal, I think, is far more universal.  Which fan of cruising doesn’t dream of the day when he or she can wander the world by ship, stopping in one exotic port after the other, unconstrained by time or money?

These cruises are aspirational.  Certainly not this year, probably not next year either, but one day I’d love to board a ship for a world cruise, slipping away from port, intent on seeing the world before I catch sight of home again.

Technorati Tags: cruise fare savings, Cruise line, Regent Seven Seas, Seven Seas Voyager, World Cruise

Celebrity’s August Promo Is In Full Swing

2 Comments »

Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity is currently running a nice promotion for its Fall/Winter season in the Caribbean.  From now through August 14th, book a veranda, Concierge Class or AquaClass® stateroom, or a suite for a Caribbean vacation, and you’ll receive up to a $200 onboard credit per stateroom.  The credit can be used toward a large number of on board options.

The Solstice, the Eclipse, and the Summit will all be offering cruises in the region this year.  With veranda cabins starting at $799 per person for a 7 night cruise, based on double occupancy, and with onboard credits of $100 for veranda cabins, $150 for Concierge and Aqua Class cabins, and $200 for suites, the time to act is now.

This is a great opportunity, to paraphrase Celebrity, to put some sunshine in your life, and some green in your pocket.  As always, this offer is based on availability and is limited.  The prices are good, the ships are excellent, and if you were considering a winter Caribbean cruise anyway, the extra on board credit is a very nice little perk.

Technorati Tags: Caribbean cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cruise line, on board credit

Maybe Magic Really Does Exist

No Comments »

Disney Magic departs Port Canaveral for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. Photo by David T. Flaherty

It is being reported today that the crew of the Disney Magic rescued 18 Algerians stranded at sea in the early morning hours last Friday.

While sailing from Gibraltar to Barcelona, the crew of the 2400 passenger vessel heard radio communications between two other ships engaged in the search.  The Disney Magic joined the search and soon spotted the open boat.  It had lost power and had been drifting with its 18 occupants for 4 to 5 days.

The rescued passengers were taken aboard and provided with food and cabins.  The ship notified authorities in Barcelona who will coordinate their debarkation.

The Disney Wonder has also been involved in a rescue at sea.  Last year they fished a man out of the water who had jumped off the Carnival Sensation on a bet.  Does make you Wonder, doesn’t it?

At any rate, hats off to the crew of the Disney Magic.  Well done!

Technorati Tags: cruise ship, Disney Magic, rescue at sea

Viking Enters the Southeast Asia Market

No Comments »

RV Tonle

Viking River Cruises, the world’s leading river boat cruise company, has announced a new itinerary along the Mekong River for 2011.  While this does not entail the introduction of a new vessel on the river, it does mark the entry of the major supplier into the region.

Viking will partner with Pandaw River Cruises, chartering their ship RV Tonle for the season.  This partnership will bring Viking’s expertise and experience into the area, enabling them to craft an inclusive land/river itinerary that presents the best of Vietnam and Cambodia to the traveler.

Magnificent Mekong, as the new itinerary is billed, will have as its centerpiece an 8 day cruise on the Mekong River between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam.

“Our guests have requested that we expand to other destinations so they can experience even more of the world,” said Chairman Torstein Hagen. “With the addition of this new Mekong River program, Viking now offers itineraries in six regions, which is more than any other river cruise line worldwide.  We are proud to launch this new Mekong River program and know that it will soon become a favorite of both past and new Viking guests,” adds Hagen. “This itinerary was created by the same expert Viking team who developed our award-winning and highly rated China cruisetours. We have partnered with the world’s best hosts to provide a once-in-a-lifetime journey highlighted by the history, culture and charm of the region at a value-packed price.”

Guests on the Magnificent Mekong tour will see lively floating markets and sleepy riverside villages; Hanoi, Phnom Penh, and Saigon with all their hustle and bustle amidst often charming French colonial architecture; and Siem Reap, site of the Angkor Archeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and masterpiece of Khmer architecture.

Siem Reap alone is worth the trip and should be on everyone’s bucket list.  In addition to the great Angkor Wat, there are several smaller sites which simply must be visited.  Two in particular, the mystical Angkor Thom and the haunting Ta Prohm, are not to be missed.

Add to all this two optional “Explore More” land extensions to either Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, achingly beautiful, or Bangkok, Thailand, and you have an extraordinary vacation experience, currently on sale at 2 for 1 prices.

Technorati Tags: Mekong River cruises, Pandaw Cruise Company, river boat cruises, Southeast Asia cruises, Viking River Cruises

Queen Victoria On Sale

No Comments »

Queen Victoria on Sale

If you have given any thought to sailing on Cunard’s Queen Victoria in 2011,  now is the time to consider booking that trip.  Today marks the first day of Cunard Lines’ three day sale of Queen Victoria’s 2011 debut sailings in the Americas.  The sale ends August 6, 2011.

Book one of these voyages during this limited three day window and enjoy the following benefits:

1.  Savings of up to $1,200 per stateroom, based on stateroom category;

2.  On-Board Credits of up to $300 per stateroom, based on stateroom    category;

3.  Reduced Deposit

Featured sailings are available from the convenient North America departure ports of New York, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.

There’s always the fine print and this is no less true with this promotion.

Offers are available on Queen Victoria departures between 5 January and 29 March 2011, apply to the first two guests in a stateroom and do not apply to exclusive occupancy or third-berth guests. This promotion is subject to availability, is capacity controlled and applies to select categories. Government fees and taxes of up to $318.45 are additional, per person, may be higher for Canadian residents and are subject to change. Fares include a fuel supplement of $3.85 USD per day (up to a maximum of $154) on all guests. This fuel supplement amount is subject to change even after a reservation is paid in full. This offer may not be combinable with any other promotion, savings program or public, group or past guest discount, including On-Board Credits. Offer may be withdrawn at any time without notice.

Deposits made under this promotion are immediately non-refundable and non-transferable.

Technorati Tags: cruise sale, Cunard Cruise Line, Cunard Line, Queen Victoria