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River Boat Cruising In Russia Has A New Star

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Suite On Board MS Amakatarina

MS Amakatarina, the offspring of the partnership between AMA Waterways and APT, remains on schedule for its debut in May.  APT released artists’ impressions today which highlight the luxurious suites awaiting its first passengers, one of the benefits of the 14 million dollar reconstruction of the highly anticipated ship.

According to Debra Fox, APT’s General Manager, Marketing, “comfort has been given high priority. River ships of this quality and innovation haven’t been seen before in Russia”.

The ship is designed to carry 212 guests in 106 cabins, 76 with balconies.  An incredible 24,025 square feet has been dedicated to passenger staterooms.  By comparison, other recently renovated ships in Russia, with the same number of staterooms, devote only 16,793 square feet to passenger accommodations.

MS Amakatarina is scheduled to make 14 sailings between Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2011.  Each of the 11 night/12 day cruises will spend several nights in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, using the ship as the guests’ hotel.  Cruise fares begin at $3299 per person, based on double occupancy, and include shore excursions, wine with dinner, and gratuities.

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Moscow, MS Amakatarina, river boat cruises in Russia, St. Petersburg

AMA Waterways Launches A Sale

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MS AmaLyra

AMA Waterways, one of the principal operators of river boat cruises worldwide, has announced a major sale.  According to the press release:

“Award-winning river cruise line, AMA Waterways announces the World’s Largest River Cruise Sale, featuring an exciting array of offers on select 2010 and 2011 cruises.  The promotions are designed to support CLIA’s World’s Largest Cruise Night and “National Cruise Vacation Month initiatives and include “2 for 1″, “Companion Flies Free” and “Up to $2,000 Savings per Stateroom”.

The “2 For 1″ promotion is available on select October and November departures of popular itineraries such as Romantic Danube (3-nights Prague, 7-night cruise Vilshofen to Budapest); Paris to Amsterdam (3-nights Paris, 7-night cruise from Trier to Amsterdam); Blue Danube Discovery (2 nights Budapest, 7-night cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg, 3 nights Prague) and the Rhine Winter Voyage (7-night cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, 2 nights Lucerne and 2 nights Zurich). Two available Danube cruises (Romantic Danube Nov. 20 and Blue Danube Discovery Nov. 19) include special Jewish Heritage itineraries.

Additionally, AmaWaterways will present an exciting wine cruise celebration from November 11-22, 2010, as part of an Amsterdam to Paris itinerary highlighting the famous vineyards of the Rhine and Mosel. Join AmaWaterways President, Rudi Schreiner and Jim Clendenen, owner of the internationally-acclaimed Au Bon Climat Winery, and enjoy a special air offer of $500 from JFK and $700 from LAX or SFO; a complimentary upgrade plus $100 spa credit per stateroom.

AmaWaterways is also making the holidays bright, with an exciting promotion on festive Christmas Time cruises of $1,000 per stateroom, a free upgrade plus shipboard credit of $100 per stateroom. The cruises are available as 7- night sailings from Budapest to Nuremberg or from Nuremberg to Amsterdam (with a 2-night stay in Prague). Travelers embarking on a 14-night Magnificent Europe cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam during the holidays will enjoy even greater savings of $2,000 per stateroom, plus a $200 per stateroom shipboard credit and a free upgrade.

For those interested in 2011 departures, AmaWaterways is offering an enticing choice of “Companion Flies Free” or “$1,000 per Stateroom” savings on departures from May to August of select Romantic Danube; Blue Danube Discovery, Melodies of the Danube (7-night cruise Budapest to Vilshofen, 3 nights Munich); Europe’s Rivers and Castles (2 nights Prague, 7-night cruise from Nuremberg to Luxembourg, 3 nights Paris); Vineyards of the Rhine and Mosel (7-night cruise from Amsterdam to Luxembourg, 3 nights Paris) and Legendary Danube (3 nights Prague, 7-night cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest) itineraries.

AmaWaterways’ World’s Largest River Cruise Sale is applicable to new FIT bookings made by November 2, 2010, is not combinable with other promotions and is limited to availability. Dates listed are U.S. and Canada departure dates. The “2 For 1″ offer applies to cruise portion only and does not apply to Junior Suites or A+ categories and is based upon 2 people traveling together in the same cabin. Call AmaWaterways at 800-626-0126 for additional details and restrictions, including gateway cities in the U.S. and Canada for “Companion Flies Free” offer.”

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Danube, Mosel, Rhine, river boat cruises, world's largest river cruise sale

River Boat Cruises In Russia And The Ukraine

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There are two main options for river boat cruises in Russia and the Ukraine – sailing along the Volga and Svir rivers in Russia and the Dneiper River in the Ukraine.

The Fountains of Peterhof, St. Petersburg

The cruise between Moscow and the incomparable St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s “Window on the West”, is the classic river boat cruise in Russia.  This cruise, bookended as it were by Russia’s two principal cities, typically visits two of the Golden Ring cities en route, Uglich and Yaroslavl (founded in 1010).  Other stops, at smaller and quainter villages, provide a first-hand glimpse of typical Russian village life.

The cruise traverses the two largest lakes in Europe, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega.  Cruising on Lake Onega provides the opportunity for the ship to visit the island village of Kizhi, site of the Open Air Museum of Architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The highlight of this visit is Preobrazhenskaya Church, the Church of the Transfiguration, a three-tiered wooden structure built in 1714 without a single nail.

The major river boat cruise companies on this route include three day visits to both Moscow and St. Petersburg, giving guests ample opportunity to explore the important sites in each city.  Shore excursions are included in the package and the ship serves as the guests’ hotel.

A cruise along the Dneiper River in the Ukraine is the second option in this region.  Sailing between Odessa and Kiev, the cruise includes some time on the Black Sea as well.  Surprising Sevastopol, home of the Russian Black Sea fleet, is also the jumping off point for a visit to two important historical sites.  One is the archaeological site of Chersonese, a Greek city founded in the 6th century BC.  The other is the Tatar city of Bakhchisarei, capital of the Crimean Khanate, site of the Khan’s residence, and cultural and political center for the Crimean Tatars.  It was in Sevastopol that the light brigade made its fateful charge, memorialized in verse by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Additional stops on this river boat cruise include Yalta, where passengers visit the White Palace, a former imperial residence and site of the 1945 Yalta Conference of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill; Zaporozhye, ancestral home of the Cossacks; and Kiev, with its UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Sophia Cathedral.

River boat quality in Russia can be fairly questionable, and care needs to be taken in choosing the boat to book.  Focusing consideration on several major lines is well-advised.  AMA Waterways has one ship on the Volga, the totally gutted and rebuilt Amakaterina, sailing in 2011.  Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has a single ship as well on the Volga, the River Victoria.  Viking River Cruises, the major operator here, has four ships on the Volga and one on the Dneiper.

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Dneiper river, Moscow, river boat cruises, Russia, St. Petersburg, Svir river, Ukraine, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Volga river

River Boat Cruises in South East Asia

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Angkor Wat

While there are numerous opportunities of varying length and quality for river boat cruising on the rivers of Southeast Asia, there are two of particular interest.

The mighty Mekong River rises in Yunan Province in China and flows through 5 countries before emptying into the South China Sea.  The most appealing river boat cruise on the Mekong is the 7 day sailing between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Siem Reap in Cambodia, with a visit to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, en route.  Along the way passengers will encounter temples, fishing villages and floating markets untouched by time, a glimpse into a way of life virtually unchanged in hundreds of years.

AMA Waterways currently has La Marguerite in service between Saigon and Siem Reap.  La Marguerite will be joined by a new-build, as yet unnamed, in the Spring of 2011.  Pandaw River Cruises has two ships on the Mekong, Mekong Pandaw and Tonie Pandaw.  Pandaw offers not only the usual Saigon to Siem Reap river boat cruise, but also some longer cruises into areas less frequently visited by tourists.  Lastly there is Jayavarman Cruises, with one ship, the Jayavarman.

Burma (or Myanmar), hidden away for decades, has only in recent years re-opened itself to the outside world.  A land of great geographical diversity, Burma offers the visitor stunning beauty, abundant history, and a way of life virtually unchanged in centuries.

River life dominates this country to this day.  Mountainous terrain helped to make the rivers the main transportation route; farm lands rely on the rivers for irrigation; and river fishing provides the primary source of protein.

Most river boat cruises ply the waters of the Irrawaddy River, also known as the Ayeyarwady.  2000 years of Buddhist art and architecture are found along its banks.  Depending on the cruise chosen, passengers can visit the ancient capitals of Ava and Amarapura, visit pagodas and villages along the way, and experience the wondrous Pagan (Bagan).

Pagan, an ancient Burmese capital and spiritual center still awaiting its

Pagan (Bagan), Myanmar

rightful designation as a World Heritage Site, has literally thousands of surviving monuments.  Only Angkor Wat in Cambodia can compare.  Abandoned as a capital some seven hundred years ago, Pagan declined as a religious center as well.  Today, the temples and monuments remain, rising from the vast plain in stunning beauty.  Pagan is a place of peace and calm, a site of enduring wonder.

The iconic river boat cruise in Burma is the 7 day roundtrip sailing between Mandalay and Pagan.  Orient Express offers this cruise on the deluxe Road to Mandalay.  Pandaw Cruises operates one vessel, the Pandaw II, in their native land.  Pandaw offers a number of different cruises of varying lengths and ports of call throughout the sailing season.

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Angkor Wat, Bagan, Burma, Cambodia, Irrawaddy River, Mandalay, Mekong River, Myanmar, Pagan, Pandaw Cruises, river boat cruises, Siem Reap, Viet Nam

Love Wine? Love Cruising? Love This

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AMA Waterways has announced a unique variation of its popular Fall river boat cruise between Amsterdam and Paris.  Designated the “Vineyards of the Rhine and Mosel” cruise, it is aimed in particular at wine enthusiasts.

From their press release:  “Europe’s Rhine and Mosel rivers are famous for their bucolic scenery, historic destinations and hillside vineyards. This fall, AMA Waterways showcases this spectacular region with a unique wine-themed cruise on the luxurious MS Amalegro.  Departing November 12, 2010, the “Vineyards of the Rhine and Mosel” cruise will sail a special itinerary that includes visits to world-famous wineries, off-site dinners hosted by renowned winemakers, onboard lectures and more.  Hosted by AMA Waterways President, Rudi Schreiner, the 7-night cruise will travel from Amsterdam to Trier, Germany, followed by 3 nights in magnificent Paris.

Accompanying the cruise will be winemaker Jim Clendenen, owner of the internationally-acclaimed Au Bon Climat winery in Santa Maria, California and Archie McLaren, founder and chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic. A portion of the cruise proceeds will be donated to charities supported by the Central Coast Wine Classic, one of the country’s preeminent wine auctions.

Highlights of the “Vineyards of the Rhine and Mosel” itinerary include the scenic Rhine Gorge town of Rudesheim, famous for its quaint wine taverns and the setting for an exclusive wine tasting dinner sponsored by renowned local vintner Georg Breuer.  In Koblenz, guests will discover a 2,000-year old wine town at the confluence of the Mosel and Rhine Rivers.  Continuing through the Mosel river valley, the world’s steepest vineyards, picturesque villages and charming wine towns appear at every turn.  Guests will enjoy a wine tasting at the small riverside wine town of Winningen, followed by a visit to Cochem, known for its perfectly preserved timber-framed homes, medieval squares and the spectacular Reichsburg Castle perched above the Mosel.  A welcoming wine fest awaits in the Mosel town of Zell, famous for its “Zeller Schwarze Katz” (Black Cat) wine.  An evening wine tasting in a local underground wine cellar showcases the area’s famous varietals.  Guests will also enjoy a wine tasting at the Wine Museum in Bernkastel hosted by the famous Dr. Loosen winery.  Strategically located in the heart of the Mosel wine-producing region, Bernkastel boasts over 500 years of documented wine history, and is known as “the international town of vine and wine.”

Of course, throughout the cruise, guests will enjoy gourmet dining accompanied by complimentary local wines (plus beer and soft drinks) at dinner. Additional AMAWATERWAYS amenities include French Balconies, complimentary 3G high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi; complimentary first-run Hollywood films; complimentary specialty coffees and bottled water, a fleet of bicycles on board plus much more. After the 7-night cruise, guests will head to Luxembourg for a city tour of the Grand Duchy, followed by a high-speed TGV transfer to Paris. The three-night stay in the City of Lights includes a guided city tour, plus an exclusive excursion to the Champagne region.”

For this special river boat cruise, AMA Waterways is offering very attractive airfares from select gateways in the United States.  Passengers can fly from New York Kennedy for $500, or from Los Angeles and San Francisco for $700.  Airport transfers, air taxes, fuel surcharges and fees are all included.  This cruise must be purchased by August 30, 2010 to qualify for the airfare promotion.

In addition, passengers will receive complimentary upgrades from select cabin categories to a French Balcony cabin and a $100 per cabin spa credit.

This sounds like a delightful river boat cruise.  Learn about wines while enjoying the cruise , and maybe even do a bit of holiday shopping.  How efficient is that?

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, river boat cruise, river boat cruise in Europe, wine cruise

Top 10 Reasons to Take a River Boat Cruise

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River boat cruises are becoming more and more popular.  Over the past 5 years, bookings have increased as much as 60% for some cruise lines.  Many of the lines are introducing new ships in 2011, and quite a few of the existing ships will be undergoing complete refurbishments.

Viking River Cruises plans to build 8 new ships and totally refurbish two other ships over the next 3 years; Avalon Waterways will introduce the gound-breaking Avalon Panorama in 2011; AMA Waterways will deploy the Amalotus in the Mekong River and the completely refurbished Amakaterina in Russia; and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will introduce 2 new ships in Europe and 1 in Russia, along with the refurbishment of 3 other ships in 2011.

Why all the interest?  Consider the top ten reasons to take a river boat cruise:

1. Modern river boats are luxurious, offering fine dining, and small but excellent accommodations.  Travel on a river boat cruise is leisurely, elegant and easy.

2. River boats offer the easiest way to see and explore multiple destinations, sometimes more than one in a day.  Unpack once and relax.  There’s no need to haul luggage on and off trains or buses as you make your way from one destination to the next.

3. River boats are small enough to pull right into the heart of small towns along the rivers of Europe, Egypt, Russia, China, Southeast Asia, and North & South America.  This convenience extends to the larger cities as well.  In Paris the ships dock at Port de Grenelle, within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.

4. Sit on the deck or at your cabin window – most open wide for a clear, unimpeded view – and take pictures of picturesque villages, ancient castles, and beautiful countryside, sometimes mere feet from your chair.

5. Like their far larger brethren, the ocean going vessels, modern river boats have all the amenities you’ve come to expect – fitness centers, libraries, spas, internet centers and, in many cases, pools.

6. Gourmet meals are served in beautiful surroundings, often with complimentary wine.  There is one seating with a casual, relaxed dress code.  Seating is open, so you can sit wherever and with whomever you wish.  Meals are prepared with fresh, local ingredients, often reflecting the cuisine of the country through which you are passing.

7. Entertainment is low key.  Gone are the glitzy Las vegas revues and Broadway samplers.  Local entertainment and folkloric troupes come on board, while local experts give talks on the area, further immersing the passengers in the detination.

8. Local guides lead the shore excursions, typically included in the price of the cruise.  Time is built in to the day for the all-important souvenir and gift shopping.  For the adventurous who’d rather take their own path, bicycles are provided, usually free of charge.

9. River boat cruises are on far smaller ships than most ocean going vessels, allowing for easy navigation about the boat.  Instead of traveling with thousands of strangers, you sail instead with 200 like-minded travelers as eager as you to delve into the destinations.  Fellow passengers become friends.

10.Rivers flow smoothly, without swells and waves.  The leisurely pace will make you forget you’re on water at all.  Motion sickness is not a concern.

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Avalon Waterways, river boat cruise, river boat cruises, top 10 reasons, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Viking River Cruises