Let’s start with some mouthwatering options. On AmaWaterways’ 2017 Provence and Spain itinerary, with dates running March through November and rates starting at $2,899, foodies have the opportunity to go on a truffle hunting excursion. During the morning outing, guests will learn about what truffles are, how they grow, how they’re priced, the different types, and the process of “cavage,” or hunting for truffles with dogs. The hunting dogs then demonstrate the “hunt” of sniffing out the truffles from the ground. To finish off the excursion, each farm offers a truffle-focused tasting menu paired with French wines.
For 2018, AmaWaterways is proposing 50 wine-themed cruises sailing through the wine regions of Austria, Germany, Portugal and France. Highlights include special wine tours and tastings at local wineries and private cellars, visits to renowned vineyards and wine expert-led informative sessions. The goal is to bring a more in-depth epicurean approach to the itineraries and your clients will be happy to hear that it’s all at no extra cost. Other new items for 2018 include the daily “Sip and Sail” cocktail hour with complimentary wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks, as well as the 158-passenger AmaLea, sailing the Danube, and spring Tulip Time cruises.
Clients booking 2018 itineraries can save up to $500 pp, depending on the duration of the cruise, and $750 pp on European Wine Cruises when they book by July 31, 2017.
Emerald Waterways, meanwhile, is offering its first-ever LGBT river cruise in 2017. The 8-day LGBT Danube Explorer will depart from Budapest on July 29, and stop in Bratislava, Vienna and Passau before concluding in Nuremberg. It will feature gay-themed tours in
Vienna and Budapest; a gay film festival in the onboard cinema and an LGBT quiz night, as well as a live broadcast on board the ship for three days during the sailing by the breakfast show hosts of UK radio station Gaydio. Rates start at $2,545 pp dbl.
Targeting active travelers between the ages of 18 to 40, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is debuting U BY UNIWORLD, set to launch sales this March and begin sailings in early 2018. Two of Uniworld’s existing ships—the River Baroness and the River Ambassador—will undergo extensive renovations and design changes that will tailor the ships to be completely dedicated to the U BY UNIWORLD experiences. The ships will feature a contemporary look and feel in all public areas and open spaces and offer communal tables for dining, with a new culinary program, creative mixologists and international DJs on board.
According to press material, “U BY UNIWORLD will offer immersive, authentic and adventurous experiences for the next generation of river cruisers along the Instagram- and Snapchat-worthy rivers of Europe and amazing cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Budapest.”
In the U.S.
Nine ships and counting…. With the debut of the American Constellation, American Cruise Lines will have nine ships on its fleet, and two more are on their way. Set to debut this May, the 170-passenger Constellation features marbled tile bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors in each stateroom, and private balconies. Uniquely designed to navigate the coastal waters of the U.S., the Constellation will spend much of its inaugural summer season on a new 10-night roundtrip itinerary—Grand New England (rates from $5,890)—from Boston to such ports of call as Bar Harbor, Newport, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Then comes #10—Constellation’s sister ship, set for 170 passengers and debuting in 2018. The third vessel is a “modern riverboat” that will hold approximately 195 passengers (look for more details online on the NEW recommend.com).
As we’ve been reporting, American Queen Steamboat Company will debut the 166-passenger American Duchess on the Mississippi River in June 2017. If your clients want in, they need to make their decision quickly, because the cruise line is reporting record-setting bookings for the inaugural season. This will be the first and only all-suite vessel with lofts on
the river, featuring three 550-sq.-ft. Owner’s Suites, four 550-sq.-ft. Loft Suites, and two 450-sq.-ft. Deluxe Suites, as well as spacious Verandah Suites and Interior Suites. Fares begin at $1,499 pp dbl.
For its 2017-2018 season, Windstar Cruises’ 212-passenger Star Legend yacht will sail to new harbors in Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Borneo and India. Windstar’s six Asian itineraries offer a choice of 10 departure dates and include a roundtrip Singapore cruise to Malaysia and Thailand; three cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong via Malaysia, Borneo, Brunei and the Philippines; and two Hong Kong to Bangkok cruises via Vietnam, among others. Guests will have the opportunity to visit cosmopolitan cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok, as well as explore smaller ports and villages, unspoiled islands and exotic shores in Thailand, South Korea and Borneo. The yacht will anchor at hidden harbors and tropical islands along the South China Sea, where cruisers can swim, snorkel, water ski and go paddleboarding. There are sailings on the Yangtze River and kayaking amidst towering limestone pillars in Halong Bay.
In the Galapagos
For 2017, UnCruise Adventures has 10 opportunities to discover Ecuador with updated 9-day trips in Quito and the Galapagos. One of the cruise line’s new itineraries, Darwin’s Islands & Colonial Quito, spends two days sightseeing in Quito and seven days cruising the islands on the 48-passenger La Pinta. The 7-day cruise portion sails from Isla Baltra and visits Seymour Norte, Isabela, Fernandina, Rabida, Santa Cruz and Floreana. There are stops at the Charles Darwin Research Center, the geological marine site of Punta Vicente Roca and Isla Rabida’s red beach. Rates start at $8,295 pp dbl. And for those who can’t tear themselves away from the adventure, the line is offering two land tour extensions, including a 4-night Amazon rainforest cruise that explores the Amazon Basin (rates start at $2,725 pp dbl); and a 6-night tour that takes in Machu Picchu and Peru’s Sacred Valley (starting at $4,695 pp dbl).
Celebrity Cruises, too, is putting the focus on the Galapagos in 2017 with the newly upgraded 16-guest Celebrity Xploration catamaran (only eight staterooms and jr. suites, all offering luxury amenities) sailing two alternating itineraries: the 7-night Galapagos Southern Loop and Galapagos Northern Loop (rates start at $6,799). Newly upgraded public areas include a refreshed bar in the Al Fresco outdoor grill area; a modernized dining room; climate-controlled wine storage for each varietal; revitalized sun deck; and renovated main lounge and boutique area featuring two 65-inch TVs. Cruises will offer shore excursions led by expert naturalists and feature fresh regional seafood and fish with menus inspired by Celebrity’s Michelin-starred chef. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, suggests travel agents recommend the small-sized ship to multi-generational families or those looking to charter a sailing.
American Cruise Lines: americancruiselines.com
American Queen Steamboat Company: americanqueensteamboatcompany.com
Celebrity Cruises: celebritycruises.com
Emerald Waterways: emeraldwaterways.com
UnCruise Adventures: uncruise.com
Uniworld River Cruise Collection: uniworld.com
Windstar Cruises: windstarcruises.com
Your Chance to Sail on the new Scenic Eclipse
The 228-guest Scenic Eclipse, with six restaurants, a 5,000-sq.-ft. spa, multiple pools, all-verandah suites that range from 350 to 2,500 sq. ft., two helicopters, a 7-seat submarine, and more, will cruise throughout the world, including Antarctica and the Arctic, and travel advisors will have a chance to experience the vessel when it launches in 2018. Here’s the scoop: Scenic’s river cruise booking contest for travel advisors, running through April 30, 2017, features as its grand prize a Deluxe Verandah Suite on board the yacht as it sails the 10-day Eastern Mediterranean Treasures itinerary from Venice to Barcelona, departing on Sept. 18, 2018. Prize includes two roundtrip business class tickets, taxes and transfers. One prize entry will be awarded for every five deposited bookings. scenicusa.com/eclipsewinner
A Star is Born
We know it’s not a “small ship”—although by today’s standards, it’s quite intimate with only 922 guests—but we wanted to call out Crystal Cruises’ Film & Theatre Voyage aboard the Crystal Symphony. Paying tribute to Barbra Streisand, the sailing will feature leading Streisand tribute artist, Sharon Owens, who will perform in stage shows and host receptions. Additionally, industry producers, songwriters, musicians, costumers and photographers who have worked with the artist will share stories and anecdotes of their careers. Of course, there will also be special screenings of Streisand’s hit films shown in the Hollywood Theatre. This will all take place during the 19-day Panama Canal Adventure, which departs LA for New York on April 30, calling in Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco, Mexico; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Panama City, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia; and Charleston, South Carolina, and, of course, transits the Panama Canal. Rates start at $5,995 pp. crystalcruises.com