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Your Questions About River Boat Cruises In France And Italy

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Nancy asks…

river cruise between France and Italy for 3 couples?

would love to stay a few days in each place and then cruise.

John answers:

Nancy, I’m not entirely certain what you are asking for.  Are you looking to go from town to town, stopping for a day or two in one,  and then take another boat to the next town on your list, and so on?

If so, this may be possible on day-trip boats that work their way up and down some of Europe’s rivers, but you will not be able to do it on one of the high end 7 to 14 night river cruises that have become so popular in recent years.

If you are asking if you can arrange hotel stays at either end of a river cruise, then the answer is yes, of course you can.

Now, you cannot cruise fron France to Italy on the same river cruise.  You can take separate cruises in each country.  France will offer you more options and a more deluxe experience.

There is a cruise on the Po River in northern Italy, but the focus is really on Venice, and much of the time is spent in Venice using the boat as your floating hotel.

Finally, if you’re intent on combining Italy, France and a cruise, there are numerous Mediterranean cruises that visit ports in both countries.

Jenny asks…

Is anyone familiar with the river cruise dock(s) in Arles, France?

I am to leave Arles on a river cruise on October 6, and the cruise line told me the ship leaves from Quai Lamartine in Arles.  Because I must get to the ship on my own I have tried to find a map of that dock without success.  The only dock with that name is in Macon France, many miles away, which is even past our destination city of Lyon.  I am sure that the Macon dock is not the dock from which I am leaving.

Any help would be appreciated.
(I must travel from Marseilles to the cruise ship.)


John answers:

There is a quai Lamartine in Arles where all the cruise boats are docked!  It is situated 2.5 kilometers from the city center and you should not have any difficulty finding it when arriving in Arles.

Do not hesitate to ask your way and if you don’t speak French, show your cruise program and I am sure there will be a kind person there able to help you.

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Technorati Tags: Po River, river boat cruises, river boat cruises in France, river boat cruises in Italy, river cruises

Uniworld Launches Its Best Ship Yet

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SS Antoinette

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises latest and best ship, SS Antoinette, was christened last Sunday by her godmother and namesake, Antoinette (Toni) Tollman in Amsterdam.  Ms. Tollman, daughter of parent company Travel Corp’s CEO, Stanley Tollman, was also the lead designer and guiding spirit for the ship’s interior decor.

The ship’s design was inspired by the Chateau de Versailles, and embodies an 18th century French style brought into the 21st century.  As she explains it: “The design of the ship began with the spectacular blue sapphire 10-foot Baccarat chandelier that adorns the Antoinette’s two-story lobby.  This very chandelier once hung in New York’s famous Tavern on the Green restaurant. My family and I had dined many times under that chandelier, and when the restaurant closed, we purchased it for sentimental reasons, planning to use it somewhere.”

Guests will see echoes of Versailles throughout the ship.  Of particular note, the Salon du Grand Trianon was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors, and the Restaurant de Versailles by the ornamental gardens there.

The Antoinette, sister ship to River Beatrice (launched in March 2009 and named for Ms. Tollman’s mother), is 443 feet long and 37.5 feet wide.  She has 73 staterooms, ranging from 167 square feet up to 391 square feet for the Owners Suite.  Suites and staterooms on Deck 4 have private, open air balconies which can be enclosed by a retractable glass wall in cooler weather.

Among other innovations, the Antoinette has the first heated indoor pool on a river boat, as well as a 20 seat movie theater.

The Antoinette will sail the Rhine River, offering the “Castles Along The Rhine” itinerary.  Service begins this Sunday, March 27th.

Technorati Tags: Antoinette Tollman, Rhine River, River Beatrice, river boat cruises, river cruise, river cruises, SS Antoinette, Tavern on the Green, Trianon, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Versailles

Viking River Cruises Unveils Details Of Four New Ships

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Artist's Depiction of Viking Freya

As I first mentioned in a previous post, Viking River Cruises is in the midst of a $250 million fleet development program, solidifying even more strongly its place as the leading river cruise company in the world.

In a recent announcement, Viking has released details of four new vessels, designated longships, which will be introduced into European waters at the beginning of the 2012 river cruising season.  No other river cruise company has matched this milestone.  For Viking, however, this is the second time since 2001 that they have accomplished this feat.  I would imagine they are quite proud of this, and justifiably so.

Named after four gods in the Norse pantheon, the ships – Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord and Viking Odin – will blend cutting edge technology with unrivaled amenities, including the largest real suites available on European rivers.

Each ship will have two Explorer Suites, measuring 445 square feet with wrap around veranda, and seven Veranda Suites of 270 square feet with a full veranda.  All of these suites will feature separate bedrooms and living rooms.  The ships will measure 443 feet in length and offer 95 staterooms.  In addition to the suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms will feature full verandas as well.

The four longships will sail some of Viking River Cruises’ most popular European river routes, including the 10-day Tulips & Windmills, 8-day Romantic Danube, 15-day Grand European Tour and 8-day Danube Waltz.

With the two new ships entering service this year, Viking Emerald and Viking Prestige, and the four ships just announced for next year, Viking is more than half way to their stated goal of ten new ships by 2013.  Add in several refurbishments of ships already in service, and the outlook for river cruising with Viking just keeps getting brighter.

Technorati Tags: 2012, Danube River, European river boat cruises, longships, newbuilds, river boat cruises, river boat cruises in Europe, river cruise, river cruises, riverboat cruises, Viking River Cruises

Single Supplement Begone!

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River Queen

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has waived the single supplement on dozens of European river boat cruise departures in 2011.  And lest you think these departures are relegated to the less desirable early Spring and later Fall, many of them sail in June, July and August, the height of the river cruise season in Europe.

With river boat cruises becoming increasingly popular, this is an excellent opportunity for the single traveller to experience one without the onerous supplement with which they are usually saddled.

River boat cruises are a particularly pleasant way for a single traveller to experience the very heart of Europe.  There are, of course, the general benefits of river cruises – unpack once, let the destination come to you, avoid fickle train schedules, no need to manhandle your luggage every other day.

Beyond those, however, are benefits of particular interest to the single traveller.  Instead of retuning each evening to another unfamiliar, lonely hotel, one returns to a ship full of faces which become more and more familiar and welcoming.  Each day brings the opportunity to strike out on one’s own, or to join a group in exploring a new destination.

Opportunities abound to share the day’s experiences with like-minded fellow passengers.  Conversations flow naturally, without the awkwardness usually associated with such encounters when travelling alone.

One can dine alone, if that’s the preference.  But if the thought of sitting at an empty table is daunting, dinner companions are in abundance.

The following are a sample of  the departures being offered with single supplement waived:

Paris & Normandy                7 nights             July 3, 17, 31 August 7

Enchanting Danube             7 nights             June 26, July 10, 31 August 7

Imperial Capitals                14 nights            July 17, 25

Space is limited and subject to availability.  Sales have been very brisk.  If this is of interest to you, I’d suggest you look into it as soon as you can.

The savings are wonderful, the experience is memorable, and the opportunity won’t last.

Technorati Tags: European river cruises, river boat cruises, single supplement, single traveler, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Your Questions About Assorted Riveboat Cruises

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Donald asks…

I am going on a riverboat cruise with my wife for her birthday and I have no idea what to wear?

We are going August 15, on the Ohio River, but I have no idea how to dress on these things, is it super dressy? or just dress slacks and a shirt? or just normal? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

John answers:

People will generally dress as they would when going out for dinner at a good restaurant or dinner theater.  In cruise terms, it would be similar to a non-formal night on a cruise ship.  You’ll be fine with a nice blazer, collared shirt (no tie), dress slacks and dress shoes.  You’ll probably find many of your fellow guests dressed more casually and a few others in ties, but you’ll strike a nice balance dressed as I mentioned.  Your wife can then choose an appropriate outfit based on your clothes.

Sandy asks…

on a riverboat cruise, a plastic bottle is accidentally dropped overboard. A passenger on the boat estimates the speed as follows:

on a riverboat cruise, a plastic bottle is accidentally dropped overboard. A passenger on the boat estimate that the boat pulls ahead of the bottle by 5 meters each seconds. Is it possible to conclude that the boat is moving at 5 m/s with respect to shore? Account your answer


John answers:

Well, Sandy, this is a bit out of our normal sphere.

This answer is no.  This is an example of relative motion.  The riverboat is moving relative to the bottle.  Both are in the same medium (water).  To determine the boat’s speed with respect to shore you need to estimate the bottle’s speed with respect to the shore as it has no propulsion.

In other words, the only data you have is the estimated speed of the riverboat relative to that of the  bottle. To establish the speed of the boat with respect to the shore, you would need to know the speed of the river (or bottle , in this case) first.  Then you can add the boat’s relative speed (5 meters per second in your example) to that of the river to get the riverboat’s estimated speed with respect to the shore.

Now, here’s one for you Sandy.  If two trains are traveling in opposite directions….

George asks…

Portugal and Spain riverboat cruise?

Portugal and Spain riverboat cruise – Have you ever experienced this cruise, or do you know of any small groups forming that will be traveling in Portugal and Spain… I am searching to join a group and traveling next summer!

John answers:

I took a Uniworld riverboat cruise on the Douro River, through the port wine region of Portugal.  The tour started in Lisbon and included a tour of Lisbon, then bus to Oporto.  I spent 7 nights on a river boat and then returned to Oporto for my flight home.

As part of the cruise we visited Salamanca, Spain.  I enjoyed the trip very much.

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Technorati Tags: algebra, Douro River, Ohio River, river boat cruises, river cruises, riverboat cruises, riverboat speed

River Boat Cruising On The Hudson River

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American Cruise Line's Independence

Friday morning was a beautiful day in New York, clear and crisp.  I arrived at the MetroNorth platform at the usual time.  Today, however, we harried commuters had a bit of a treat.  Directly opposite the platform, much closer to the New Jersey coast, was a cruise ship.  At first it didn’t quite register.  My first thought was that it was a very large private vessel, but it really was too large for that.  When I noticed the distinctive red, white and blue funnel, I realized that this was one of the American Cruise Lines’ ships on one of their Fall Foliage cruises up the Hudson to Albany and back.

In years of taking the railroad to work, I have never seen one of these ships on the river.  Our schedules never quite matched up.  Yesterday was a perfect day for my first sighting.  The air was clear, the Palisades were resplendent in their Fall colors of red and orange, and the ship shone in the bright sunshine.  Looking up the itinerary in the office, I learned that the ship had over-nighted in Sleepy Hollow, a charming suburban town made infamous by Washington Irving, just 15 miles upriver from where I stood.  One wonders what Ichabod Crane would have made of the ship.

It occurred to me too late to take a picture with my phone, the thought springing to mind at the same time as the train pulled in to the station.  It also occurred to me, as the doors closed, that it would have been so much nicer to glide down the Hudson to the city on board the ship, an exciting day exploring New York in the offing.  Instead we rumbled inexorably toward Grand Central and our day at work.

Technorati Tags: American Cruise Line, Cruise line, cruise ship, Hudson River, Ichabod Crane, river boat cruises, Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

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 Return to The Mississippi After All

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Artist's Rendering of the New Paddlewheeler

For the past week or so, the hopes of a re-birth of overnight river boat cruises on the Mississippi River seemed to have died with the closure of Cruise West.  It was just this past June that Cruise West announced with great fanfare their intention to relocate one of their West Coast-based ships to the Mississippi River in 2011.  Regularly scheduled overnight river boat cruises on the Mississippi River ended in 2008, when the Delta Queen Steamships sailed for the last time.

But now along comes American Cruise Lines, with the welcome news that they will fill the void.  On Tuesday of this week, the following was released to the press:

“American Cruise Lines has announced it is expanding to the Mississippi River system with a brand new sternwheeler, already under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury,MD. It plans to operate the new riverboat on routes similar to those formerly run by Delta QueenSteamboat Company, which will include the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers.

Cruising the Mississippi River on a sternwheeler is a true all-American experience that American CruiseLines is pleased to bring back. The new paddlewheeler will recreate the grandeur of past riverboats while possessing the latest safety, environmental and construction technologies. The ship will have the look of a traditional riverboat along with more amenities, a faster speed, and an unmatched level of comfort. Features include six unique lounges, a library, an elegant dining salon, elevator service to all decks, and the exceptionally large staterooms found on all American Cruise Lines ships. With only 140 passengers, each guest will receive personalized service in the intimate and friendly atmosphere for which American Cruise Lines has become known.

The first cruise is a scheduled to depart August 11, 2012 from New Orleans, Louisiana on a 7-night journey up the Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee. The ship will then begin a series of 7-night cruises travelling as far north as St. Paul, Minnesota while utilizing its remarkable speed to open up new itinerary possibilities. As on all true riverboats, a stage and bow ramp will give the ship access to the many interesting ports without docking facilities.”

The purpose-built, 5 deck paddlewheeler won’t begin service for almost two years, further delaying the highly anticipated resumption of overnight river boat cruises on the Mississippi River.  It is, however, anticipation delayed, not anticipation dashed.

Technorati Tags: American Cruise Line, Cruise West, Delta Queen, Mississippi River boat cruises, Natchez, New Orleans, paddlewheeler, river boat cruises

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