Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hapag-Lloyd's 2012/13 Expedition Season

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises announces the arrival of their March 2012-May 2013 expedition brochure. Their small and beautifully appointed expedition ships, MS Hanseatic and MS Bremen, will be offering 12 international (English/German) itineraries next season.

They include travel in Antarctica, the Northwest Passage, Greenland, Spitsbergen, Norway, the Amazon, the South Seas and New Zealand. In addition, the expedition itineraries feature new ports of call in Madagascar and Mozambique and a maiden voyage through theSea of Okhotsk in Russia’s Far East.

The two ships were created to provide intensive exploration in the most elegant surroundings for a maximum of 184 guests on Hanseatic and 164 on Bremen.

Expedition Highlights:

Sea of Okhotz

For the first time, Hanseatic sets out to circumnavigate the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia’s Far East, taking guests to volcanoes, geysers and glaciers. Zodiac stops will include Iony, a tiny island populated by sea lions, and Shantar Islands and Malminskie Islands, natural sanctuaries for songbirds, birds of prey, seals and sea otters.

Indian Ocean

Guests will experience lemurs in pristine nature, animals in the wild, and wonderful beaches on romantic coasts through Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa. This tropical 16-day adventure will include ports in Madagascar and a first time stop in Mozambique.

The Northwest Passage

In 2012, the popular exploration route will be offered on board Hanseatic. It starts in Nome/Alaska amidst impressive testimonies of the Inuit culture before sailing through the Canadian Arctic, the heart of the Northwest Passage and ending in Reykjavik/Iceland.


Glaciers, icebergs, deep fjords and bays offer the setting for an unforgettable Antarctic expedition. In addition to observing bird colonies, guests will also have the opportunity to explore the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, bath in the hot springs on Deception Island and observe whales in the Antarctic Sound.

For more info, visit www.hl-cruises.com or contact the UK's expedition cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Great Azamara Offer

Join Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Journey for a seven-night Spain & Portugal fly/cruise from just £1,618 per person this June (based on two people sharing an inside stateroom).

The price includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers and a seven-night Spain & Portugal cruise departing from Lisbon and calling at Bilbao, St. Jean De Luz, St. Malo and St. Peter Port (Guernsey) before arriving in Rouen (for Paris); meals and room service; destination-influenced entertainment and enrichment programmes; housekeeping and dining gratuities; bottled water throughout the cruise; house wines with meals; speciality coffees and teas; and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price is based on June 25 departure.

For more info, visit www.azamaraclubcruises.co.uk or the UK's leading luxury cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Orion Expeditions - Samurai and Snorkelling

Join the Orion Expedition team onboard the newly re-fitted Orion II for her maiden Ryukyu Islands voyage exploring from Japan through the rarely visited sub-tropical Ryukyu Islands to the Philippines and Sabah.

This 14-night voyage on July 28 features diverse elements for adventurous spirits seeking cultural experiences far removed from the predictable tourist hotspots of Asia, including two destinations unique to this voyage, Shimonoseki and Kagoshima, plus a visit to Coron Palawan in the Philippines, the first by a foreign ship.

Guests can try their hand at the fine art of preparing Fugu – poisonous puffer fish - warm their feet in a volcanic-heated foot bath, explore an impressive cave and underground river system and remove their clothes and inhibitions in a very elegant private hot spring onsen (public bath).

Active volcanoes and traditional samurai castles contrast with beautiful bays and islands perfect for snorkelling and diving, while a buffalo cart ride across tidal flats, cultural performances, art galleries and exploring a little township with bars and cafes offer other dimensions to this voyage.

Reminders of World War II abound, including visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as a fascinating Kamikaze museum and, in Okinawa, a former Japanese Imperial Navy HQ underground tunnel command centre.

The significant red Shuri Castle has many ancient links to the unique system of paying tribute to both Japanese and Chinese emperors and an archaeological dig site guests may visit contains some of the oldest human remains found in Asia.

Orion II’s visit to Coron Palawan will be celebrated with welcoming cultural displays, performances and interaction. Guests will have time for snorkelling, relaxing in hot springs, a village visit and scenic Zodiac cruising to capture the dramatic sunset.

Lecturers in the expedition team include:

Amy Loewen - Japan expert, many years of experience leading groups in Japan

Grace Winer - expert geologist to provide interpretation on the regions stunning and active geology

Justin Friend - to lecture on Filipino and Ryukyu cultures

Expedition Leader Alastair Newton - with many years experience in the region.

The 14-night cruise also visits San Fernando (for Baguio), Puerto Galera and Coron before finishing in Kota Kinabalu. Prices start from £6,680 per person including all meals, entertainment and educational programmes, use of the ship’s sporting equipment and facilities, Zodiac excursions, port and handling charges, tender transfers and government fees and taxes.

For more info, visit www.orionexpeditions.com or contact the UK's leading adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tall Ship Cruise Offers Classic Yacht Race Action

This September, tall ship specialist Star Clippers is offering guests a chance to follow the action of the Voiles de St Tropez, one of the world’s most glamorous yacht regattas, from the comfort of the historically styled, square rigger, the 170-passenger Star Flyer.

Les Voiles de St Tropez is one of the principal events in the classic yachting calendar, bringing together magnificent racing boats with world-class crews from all over the world. The regatta runs this year from September 27 to October 2 and Star Flyer will be in the bay of St Tropez on September 30, perfectly situated to view the racing and admire the yachts from the heart of the action.

Later, the ship moves to St Tropez port, where it will remain until late at night, giving guests the chance to soak up the festive post-race atmosphere, with unrivalled opportunities for boat-spotting and people-watching.

Star Clippers’ Voiles de St Tropez sailing departs Cannes on September 24, calling at some of the Mediterranean’s finest yachting harbours: L’Ile Rousse and Bastia in Corsica; Portoferraio in Elba; Portofino in Italy; and Iles d'Hyères and Sanary-sur-Mer in France, as well as St Tropez for the racing.

The ship will also operate a seven-night Monaco to Cannes sailing, departing October 1, which coincides with the last two days of the Voiles de St Tropez, ideal for anybody wanting to overnight in or near St Tropez to watch the racing prior to joining the ship.

The sailings cost from £1,295 per person, including full board on the ship and port taxes, excluding flights. For more details, visit www.starclippers.co.uk or contact the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

This Summer's Arctic Scramble

Hurtigruten's Arctic Cruises on board the MV Fram this summer are seeing a massive surge in bookings due to the Arctic Exploration vessel MV Polar Star's owner Karlsen Shipping co. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, being placed into receivership. Polar Star had recently undergone repairs, in the Canary Islands, after a grounding in the Antarctic on January.

The Karlsen vessel would have been sailing in the Arctic until September. However, with her being unable to sail, anyone considering a cruise in this region this summer is advised to contact Arctic expedition companies such as Hurtigruten (www.hurtigruten.co.uk) or, for a more detailed list of operators with vacancies, adventure-cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

It's All Above Board for Gap Adventures

Whilst the imminent heavy fuel ban will take the wind out of the sails of many larger cruise ships, Gap Adventures’ owned and operated vessel the M/S Expedition will continue to cruise the Antarctic waters.

A ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Antarctic becomes law on August 1, meaning larger liners will no longer be able to ply the waters, leaving the seas and breathtaking scenery to smaller ships like the Expedition and its travellers.

Large ships that offer cruise-only trips, carry heavy fuel and more than 500 passengers will no longer be able to sail in Antarctica’s waters. However, Gap Adventures’ ship uses marine fuel instead of heavy diesel and its zodiacs have 4-stroke engines rather than 2-stroke, which create fewer emissions and noise that could disturb wildlife.

Not only is the recently-renovated Expedition committed to responsible environmental practices, it also boasts one of the largest average cabin sizes in her class and several spacious public areas, providing an exceptionally safe and comfortable expedition experience for all her guests. Alongside a highly experienced crew, there is an impressive ratio of one expert expedition team member for every 10 guests.

The world’s largest independently-owned adventure travel company, Gap Adventures launched camping and kayaking in its 2010/2011 Antarctic itineraries, enabling holidaymakers to encounter the intimacy and power of the polar regions in ways few have experienced before.

John Warner, Vice President of Global Sales for Gap, explains: "We are seeing a surge in the Expedition’s forward booking numbers for the Antarctic Season. There is no doubt the limited number of permitted ships, coupled with continued demand from travellers seeking the ultimate adventure cruise, will drive travellers to our ship.”

Take a look at two of Gap Adventures’ Antarctic tours:

Antarctica Classic in Depth; price, was £4,619, now £3,969pp; Duration: 13 days; Departure date: Nov 7. Price includes 11 nights on board M/S Expedition, 1 night’s accommodation with breakfast in Ushuaia, all meals on ship, Zodiac excursions with expedition team, lecture and educational programme, waterproof boots, Antarctica destination guide book and Canada Goose expedition jacket for guests who pay for a Category 5 suite.

Spirit of Shackleton; Price, £7409pp; Duration: 20 days; Departure date: Jan 11, 2012.

For more info, visit http://www.gapadventures.co.uk/ or the UK's leading adventure cruise specialists, The Cruise Line Ltd.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The 'Fairytale Ship' Completes Sea Trials

Costa Favolosa, the new Costa Cruises flagship, has successfully completed her official sea trials. The ship, the 15th in Costa’s fleet, completed her first crossing during which tests were conducted to verify the correct operation of the various systems, equipment and engines.

During the tests at sea, Favolosa was brought up to her maximum speed (more than 23 knots or 40km/h) which was maintained for eight consecutive hours to test the ship’s endurance. There was also a “crash stop”, meaning a complete stop at maximum speed to determine in how many metres the ship comes to a stop during an emergency.

During the test known as the “UMS”, Favolosa sailed for six straight hours only using the automatic energy and propulsion system controls. Finally, with the “blackout” test, the electric power was cut off to check that all ship functions automatically returned to normal when the power was restored.

After completing her trials, the ship returned to the shipyard in Marghera, Italy, to complete the fitting-out of the interiors prior to being placed into active service. Costa Favolosa will be ready for delivery on June 30, while the naming ceremony will take place two days later in Trieste.

Costa Favolosa - The Fairytale Ship

As her name suggests (Favola is Italian for “fairytale”), Favolosa is a veritable “fairytale ship”, a “contemporary enchanted castle” with a perfect combination of fabulous atmosphere and state-of-the-art hi-tech fun. The main innovations on board include:

Six new veranda suites with their own Jacuzzis

A new entertainment area for teenagers with 4D Cinema, PlayStation World, and a bar with ice-cream, drinks and popcorn

A new children’s open-air Aqua Park water playground with its own pirate galleon

The Samsara Spa, one of the largest and most exclusive wellness centres ever built on a cruise ship

A large central lido extending over two decks, with a sliding glass roof and giant movie screen

A Grand Prix driving simulator

A golf simulator

In addition, the shipboard gym will offer all the latest state-of-the-art Technogym equipment, including machines with Internet access, so you can surf the Internet while guests work out.

The brand new pool area will be particularly large and inviting, with 1,000sq m of space dedicated to relaxation and entertainment, 160 sun loungers and whirlpool tubs and an invigorating waterfall.

Costa Favolosa is set to make her debut on a three-day vernissage cruise departing from Venice on July 4, and calling at Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Koper (Slovenia). This will be followed by her grand inaugural cruise on July 7, an 11-day itinerary taking in Greece, Turkey and Croatia with stopovers in Bari, Izmir, Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens, Olympia and Dubrovnik. Throughout the summer, Favolosa will be offering seven-day cruises from Venice and Bari to Olympia, Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik

For more info, visit www.costacruises.com or The Cruise Line

Friday, 27 May 2011

Fred. Olsen's Worldwide Voyaging

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has launched its new worldwide brochure for 2012/13, detailing a comprehensive programme of ex-UK cruises aboard classic ships Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch. All the new cruises feature Fred. Olsen’s ‘No Fuel Surcharge Guarantee’.

The 2012/13 programme includes an enormous choice of destinations, varying in duration from a mini-cruise of just two nights to an epic world voyage of 112 nights. The itineraries feature new and exciting destinations, along with many old favourites, with departures from convenient regional British ports, Dover, Southampton, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Greenock (Glasgow) and Rosyth (Edinburgh).

Highlights include:

- A ‘Christmas Markets’ cruise aboard Black Watch, travelling to the Baltic and calling at Warnemünde (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), St Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Kiel (Germany).

- The chance to sail over 50 miles up the Guadalquivir River to Seville, in Spain.

- A return call to the newly-accessible Banjul Harbour in The Gambia, on Balmoral’s 21-night ‘West Africa and Cape Verde’ cruise.

- Three brand new destinations on Canada’s east coast – Port Saguenay, Trois Rivières and Havre St. Pierre.

- Some enticing longer cruises in 2013 – Balmoral’s new ‘Around the World’ itinerary and Black Watch’s epic cruise, down the West Coast of Africa and into the Indian Ocean.

- Another opportunity to take a Winter cruise to Norway, ‘In Search of the Northern Lights’, with Boudicca in February 2013, or to cruise into the heart of the mighty Amazon River, also aboard Boudicca, on a long (35-night) cruise in early 2013.

- Christmas 2012, when both Balmoral and Braemar will be visiting the Cape Verde Islands, as part of their festive itineraries, while Black Watch offers a real getaway, with her ex-UK ‘Caribbean Christmas’ cruise of 25 nights.

Fred. Olsen also continues to make regular enhancements to its fleet. Boudicca benefitted from a major refit in January 2011, allowing for extra cabins, smart new shopping outlets and a top-deck fitness centre. The onboard experience continues to benefit from an ever-increasing choice of activities and interests for guests to pursue. The cruise enrichment programme, Vistas (formerly The ArtsClub), has been re-launched and reinvigorated, with many distinguished new names joining the panoply of on-board experts, covering an even wider range of subjects.

Other additional attractions, on selected cruises, include ‘Flagship Golf‘, boasting even more top courses in 2012/13, and, for the best in entertainment, Fred. Olsen’s ‘Music and Laughter’; programme. This gives guests a wonderful opportunity to enjoy live music and comedy in an intimate setting, from some of the top names in the business, and all at no extra cost. Past favourites include the Divas of Motown, The Drifters and Lulu, and big names lined up for this season include The Operababes – back by popular demand – The Sounds of Boney M, featuring Sheyla Bonnick, and The Tornados – the first UK group to top the US charts, with ‘Telstar’, and original backing group to 60s legend, Billy Fury.

For more info, see www.fredolsencruises.com or contact the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Head For The Sunshine with Celebrity

Join Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Constellation for a sunshine-laden 12-night Greek Isles & Turkey fly/cruise from just £1,294 per person (based on two sharing an inside stateroom) this autumn.

The price includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers and the 12-night Greek Isleas & Turkey cruise departing Istanbul and calling at Ephesus, Bodrum, Marmaris, Rhodes, Santorini, Athens, Mykonos and Chania (Crete), before returning to Istanbul; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price based on September 19 departure.

For more info, visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk or contact the cruise-agent specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Great Summer Sailing With Royal Caribbean

Join Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas for a 14-night Mediterranean Treasures cruise-only from £1,205 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin) this June.

This excellent price includes the full two-week cruise, departing from Southampton and calling at Gibraltar, Cannes, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante, Lisbon and Vigo before returning to Southampton; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price is based on a June 25 departure.

For more info, see www.royalcaribbean.co.uk or call the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Oceania Cruises Appoints New Culinary Enrichment Director

Oceania Cruises, who are renowned for offering some of the finest cuisine at sea, has named former businesswoman and passionate chef Kathryn Kelly as the company’s Culinary Enrichment Director.

In this newly-created position, American-born Kelly is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, the first hands-on cooking school at sea on Oceania's recently-launched luxury ship Marina. The Center will also feature on sister ship Riviera, launching in April 2012.

Chef Kelly was previously the executive chef of the Culinary Center and will now develop the curriculum, recruit instructors and guest chefs, as well as integrate cooking classes with the shore excursion programme, in addition to teaching classes. Her love of cooking began in her grandmothers’ kitchens, and she was awarded a scholarship from Pillsbury as a “promising young chef,” subsequently working her way through college at Seattle’s prestigious Northwest Passage restaurant, where she discovered the bounty of the region.

After a fulfilling career that included founding one of the earliest healthcare software ventures, leading a multi-billion dollar global outsourcing company and being named one of the Top Female Executives by the YWCA, Chef Kelly returned to her passion, cooking.

Kelly has completed her ProChef certification from the American Culinary Foundation and is a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and Chefs for Sustainable Agriculture. She holds two master’s degrees in Public Health and Community Medicine and completed her doctoral studies in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

For more information on Oceania Cruises or to order a brochure, visit www.oceaniacruises.co.uk or The Cruise Line Ltd.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Fred. Olsen's Weekend ‘Summer Sale’

For a limited period over the Bank Holiday period, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will be offering special reduced prices on six summer cruises, with durations ranging from 7 to 16 nights, to a variety of exciting destinations. These deals will be available from Friday 27th to Monday 30th May 2011 inclusive, and offer, amongst others, the chance to view the volcanic region of Iceland from the comfort and safety of a cruise ship!

Available from a choice of convenient regional UK departure ports – Southampton, Rosyth (Edinburgh) and Dover – these great prices start from just £56 per person per night, representing incredible value, with sale fares available across a range of cabin types.

The cruises selected for the special sale are:

· M1114 – a 13-night cruise to the Baltic, departing Dover July 2, priced from £799 per person, based on two adults sharing a twin cabin.

· D1115 – a 16-night cruise to Greenland and Iceland, departing Rosyth (Edinburgh) July 28, from £899 per person.

· M1116 – a 14-night cruise to the Canary Islands, departing Dover July 30, from £849 per person.

· L1111 – a 7-night cruise to France, departing Southampton on August 1, from £599 per person.

· W1112 – a 16-night cruise to Greenland and Iceland, departing Dover on August 11, priced from £899 per person.

· L1113 – a 14-night cruise to the Baltic, departing Southampton on August 18, from £899 per person.

Prices include accommodation, all meals and entertainment, port taxes and any applicable Fuel Supplement. Themes of ‘The History of Weather’ and ‘Classical Music’ are available on cruises W1112 and D1115 respectively through Fred. Olsen’s onboard enrichment programme, Vistas, which is free to guests.

Find out more at www.fredolsencruises.com or contact the cruise-agent specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Star Clippers - And a Load Of Rubbish!

Guests from niche tall ship operator Star Clippers have removed 1,700lbs of rubbish from North Friar’s Beach and Keys Beach in St. Kitts in a beach-clean operation organised by on-board marine biologist Mariano Peruzzo. This is the third time Star Clippers guests have taken part in clean-ups, on this occasion joining volunteers from a local charity to rid the island’s beaches of plastics and other litter.

Star Clippers’ vessels operate under wind power up to 70% of the time. All ships use high-quality low-sulphur gas oil, for which the company has been awarded the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate. And all three ships’ crews operate on a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ policy, while only eco-friendly, biodegradable products are used for cleaning on board the three ships.

Other eco-initiatives include the appointment of a qualified naturalist/marine biologist to accompany all cruises on the 170-passenger square rigger Star Flyer on winter sailings in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, providing passengers with first-hand information about the incredible diversity of flora and fauna in the region, as well as the volcanoes and cloud forests.

On December 11, one of Britain’s most respected authors, environmental campaigners, broadcasters and botanists, David Bellamy, will be on board Flyer in Central America to host a shore excursion, mingle with guests and give presentations about the environment.

Including an additional three days land stay, the 10-night Central America holiday costs from £2239pp, with return flights from London, transfers, 3 nights’ hotel accommodation and the seven-night cruise with David Bellamy, including all meals on board.

Star Flyer also carries a highly qualified dive master, who will give talks on board on invertebrates, crustaceans, fish and marine mammals.

To find out more, visit www.starclippers.co.uk or contact the UK's leading adventure-cruise specialists, The Cruise Line Ltd.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

In the Wake of The Vikings with Zegrahm

Zegrahm Expeditions is excited to announce a community-based partnership with W.I.L.D. Expeditions, an adventure education organisation dedicated to empowering our youth to be stewards of the environment through life-changing kayaking and sailing experiences.

W.I.L.D. Expeditions has recently begun work building a traditional 56-foot Viking ship to educate kids about Viking heritage and give them additional means to explore the waters of the Pacific north-west. In conjunction with Zegrahm’s July 'In the Wake of the Vikings' voyage, the adventure travel company is offering any traveller who lives in the north-west and books this upcoming voyage an exclusive tour of the Viking ship in Anacortes, Washington, including the opportunity to meet the shipbuilder himself.

In addition, for each of these bookings Zegrahm will donate $1,000 per booking to W.I.L.D. Expeditions to help complete the building of the ship and fund upcoming youth programmes.

The building of the vessel is being completed by master shipwright Jay Smith, who was recently featured on the History Channel special, “The Big Build: Viking Longboat.” Jay has gathered over 70 crooks from oak trees in Oregon for the ship's frames and pure Alaskan yellow cedar from British Columbia for planking. Studying with Scandinavian masters to perfect his trade, the ship will be traditionally built by hand, using many of the old Viking tools.

Not only will 'In the Wake of the Vikings' expose travellers to the unspoiled islands of the Faroes and the volcanic wonders of Iceland - two areas difficult to explore unaided - but Zegrahm’s expert expedition team adds an educational component by bringing the region’s cultural heritage and natural history to life. Among others, archaeologist Colleen Batey will share her stories of excavating Viking sites in Northern Scotland, Iceland and the Orkney Islands, and her work with the Smithsonian on the 'Vikings: North Atlantic Saga' exhibit.

Iceland native Ragnar Hauksson will lecture on the everyday life of Icelanders coupled with the folklore, fairy tales, and sagas. And, expedition leader and Zegrahm co-founder Mike Messick will ensure travellers make the most of their time in these northern realms with ample opportunities to explore the itinerary’s planned ports of call and several expeditionary exploits by Zodiac. Additionally, travellers will have the opportunity to:

• “Storm the beach”—via Zodiac—at Dunrobin and explore this 13th century castle and its Versailles-inspired gardens.

• Sail past seabird colonies perched on cliffs along the region’s dramatic fjords.

• Take a cliff-side hike and enjoy stunning views while learning about the volcanic geology below your feet.

• Tour (and taste!) Scotland’s best-known industry: whisky.

• Visit picturesque coastal villages still steeped in Viking tradition.

• Embark on a thrilling snowmobile ride across Europe’s largest glacier.

To learn more, visit Zegrahm’s Web site at www.zeco.com or contact the UK's leading adventure-cruise specialist agents The Cruise Line Ltd.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Time To Repeal The Jones Act

World of Cruising editor Simon Veness writes:

A story on loss of business at the port of Los Angeles today started me thinking - if this huge sea-going destination on the US West Coast is struggling to stay busy, isn't it time to look at the root cause why?

Because it seems increasingly clear that the archaic Jones Act of 1920 is now a serious millstone around the necks of the US cruise industry, and something urgently needs to be done about, for the sake of the cruise lines AND their passengers.

The Jones Act was originally designed to prevent unfair foreign-flagged competition for ships carrying the stars and stripes by insisting that only US-flagged vessels can operate solely in US waters (i.e. without having to visit a foreign port).

This was vital for the 1920s and 30s when American vessels were commonplace, and even has relevance today in the sections of the Act that relate to accident and disability benefits for America seamen.

But what it is also doing is squeezing business away from US ports; making it hard for cruise lines to put together some really meaningful itineraries; and making passengers pay more in various places. It is so anti-competitive to the cruise business it beggars belief.

And, at a time when the cruise liens are shying away from Mexican ports over safety concerns, it means places like Los Angeles will find themselves increasingly out in the cold.

Put simply, the Jones Act forbids foreign-flagged cruise lines (i.e. all of them these days!) from having itineraries that visit just US ports, hence it stops round-Hawaii cruises (requiring ships make a long haul to add Mexico or a South Pacific port to their route), West Coast voyaging, and trips that take in purely the eastern seaboard.

These are areas all rich in cruise possibility, yet they are denied to the cruise lines and their passengers by an Act that could never possibly foresee a situation where American lines (i.e. nearly all of them!) have foreign-flagged ships that are prevented from offering all-American cruises.

It is so patently daft in this day and age - and so dangerous for US interests and jobs, as evidenced by Los Angeles - that you have to wonder why something isn't being done about it. Does the industry not have an effective polotical lobby? Are there other interests working against them (hard to imagine, but possible)? Are people asleep at the wheel over the possibilities?

It is an issue that demands attention in the cruise world of today - and I'll be very keen to see if anyone picks up the cry on cruising's behalf. Because there are great possibilities going begging here.

I'd love to see a cruise that takes in purely the Carolinas and Florida; New England; California; or Hawaii (apart from the one exception of NCL's lone American-flagged ship).

And it's about time others did, too.

Greenland & Iceland With Fred. Olsen

As a complete change from the traditional ‘sun and sea’ holiday, a Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines summer cruise to Greenland and Iceland offers some spectacular scenery, and the chance to visit some unforgettable ports, in a very different landscape, while you experience the long days in the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’.

Cruising from a northern port saves time at sea, and Boudicca’s 16-night cruise to Greenland and Iceland (D1115) departs on July 28 from Rosyth (Edinburgh). After a day at sea, the first port of call is Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. The cruise then offers a chance to visit some little-known ports in the south of Greenland - Qaqortoq, Narsarsuaq and Nanortalik.

Qaqortoq was founded by Norwegian traders in 1775 and retains some lovely old colonial buildings; it also boasts a magnificent fountain, with carved whales blowing water from their blowholes.

There is a scenic cruise around Cape Farewell, the southernmost tip of Greenland before the voyage reaches Iceland; first, Isafjordur, then Reykjavik, for an overnight stay. This allows time to visit the 'Big Three’ geological wonders of Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, with its steaming plumes of naturally hot water from the earth’s centre, and Thingvellir National Park. Boudicca then returns to Rosyth.

This cruise additionally offers a theme of ‘Classical Music’, through Fred. Olsen’s cruise enhancement programme, Vistas. Guests can join in with this activity at no extra cost.

Prices start from £1,750 per person, based on two adults sharing an outside twin cabin, Grade ‘E’, and include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

Black Watch has a similar itinerary on her 16-night cruise to Greenland and Iceland from Dover, departing on August 11, W1112. This voyage also visits the rarely seen ports in southern Greenland and some extraordinary landmarks, including the Mountains of 12 Apostles and Cape Farewell. Like Boudicca, Black Watch has an overnight stay in Reykjavik, before returning to Dover.

The cruise additionally offers a theme of ‘The History of Weather’, hosted by the scientist, physicist and climate-change expert Professor Henry Hutchinson, through Fred. Olsen’s cruise enhancement programme, Vistas. Guests can join in with this activity at no extra cost.

Prices start from £1,729 per person, based on two adults sharing an outside twin cabin, Grade ‘E’. The price includes accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

Find out at www.fredolsencruises.com or contact the cruise agent specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

eWaterways Rhine Cruise ‘Taster’

eWaterways, the niche river cruise experts, have launched a 3-day ‘taster’ cruise along the magical Rhine with five-star river yacht Royal Crown. Ideal for those new to cruising or short on free time, the cruise comprises a round trip from historic Cologne to Koblenz for a concentrated mix of German culture, sightseeing and leisure along one of the world’s most beautiful rivers.

It is the first taster cruise to be offered on Royal Crown and represents excellent value for money. At just £229 per person on a full board basis, guests will enjoy a truly luxurious cruise experience on a vessel often described as “the Orient Express on water” and renowned for its bespoke client service.

In addition, there will be no single supplements for the cruise, which takes place on July 26 and 28, with a 4-day option on July 23 that takes in wine-making town Rudesheim in addition to Cologne and Koblenz and costs £339 per person.

Starting in Cologne, the famous cathedral city crammed with museums and art galleries, guests are able to explore the sights and sounds before boarding Royal Crown in the late afternoon and setting sail for Koblenz in the evening.

This lesser known destination is a beautiful Roman town situated on the Deutsches Eck (German Corner) where the Rhine and the Mosel rivers meet. It is a tourist’s dream with numerous castles, palaces and monuments to explore. En route to Koblenz, Royal Crown will sail through the glorious Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before mooring below its ancient fortress walls.

In Koblenz, guests can enjoy the picturesque public gardens, discover the town centre, which is made up of narrow lanes and romantic squares or visit the stunning Federal Horticultural Show, an annual event in July with more than 48 hectares of flowers arrangements.

At full capacity, Royal Crown caters for just 88 guests in 44 luxuriously appointed cabins with flatscreen TVs and fully-stocked mini-bars to promise an all-inclusive and sophisticated cruise holiday. The river yacht’s design exudes 1930s glamour and the 52-strong team caters to individual needs, with every comfort onboard considered, from the choice of pillow to a favourite tipple.

The traditional ambiance and décor is propelled into the 21st century with modern facilities, including a spa, golf putting area, well-equipped fitness room and 24-hour multimedia business lounge. Those new to cruising or cruise lovers in need of a quick battery recharge can relax and enjoy a luxurious mini break inclusive of exquisite fine dining, entertainment and the Rhine’s stunning vistas.

For more info, vist www.ewaterways.co.uk or contact the river-cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Aalborg Set To Welcome Fred Olsen

The Danish port of Aalborg will be opening its new city centre cruise berth this Wednesday (May 25), and the first ship to dock there will be Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 1,350-guest Balmoral. The new Aalborg Royal City Berth is right in the centre of the town, making it extremely convenient for cruise ship guests to go ashore. This quay is also used by the Danish Royal Yacht, Dannebrog.

On inauguration day, there will be a ceremony on the quayside, with a performance of music and dance – Samba Show, performed by members of the Aalborg International Carnival, the largest carnival in Northern Europe. This will be a delightful spectacle for crew and guests on board ship and visitors to the quayside.

There will also be a ceremonial opening of the cruise berth, with Balmoral's Master, Captain Olav Soevdsnes, cutting the ribbon. The City of Aalborg will then present a plaque to the Captain, commemorating the ship's first visit to the new berth.

Find out more by visiting http://www.fredolsencruises.com/,

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Court Approves Sale of Windstar

Ambassadors International Inc. has announced the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved the sale of substantially all of Ambassadors’ assets, including its principal operating unit, Windstar Cruises, to TAC Cruise LLC, an affiliate of Xanterra Holding Corporation. The sale is expected to close next week.

All of Windstar’s luxury yachts are still sailing as scheduled, and the handover to the new owners is not expected to interrupt future bookings.

During a court-supervised competitive bidding process in compliance with Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, TAC Cruise LLC submitted a winning bid of $39 million in cash.

Windstar will now be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xanterra Holding Corporation of Greenwood Village, CO. Xanterra Holding Corporation and its affiliates have operated in the hospitality and leisure industry for more than 100 years.

“Windstar emerged as a tremendous long-term opportunity due to the line’s exceptional product, loyal following and high level of guest satisfaction in the luxury travel market,” said Andrew N. Todd, CEO of Xanterra Holding Corporation. “Xanterra intends to maintain Windstar’s business and operations and to invest in Windstar’s growth following the close of the sale.”

Hans Birkholz, CEO of Ambassadors and Windstar, said: “Windstar is very pleased with the successful outcome of this sale process and expects to complete it by early next week. Windstar is excited to have its new owner join in building Windstar’s world class brand. Windstar will be well-positioned for long-term profitability and success under new ownership and we will continue to provide exceptional service and extraordinary luxury travel experiences for our guests.”

However, it is expected that Ambassadors’ stockholders and holders of Ambassadors’ convertible notes will not receive any distribution following the sale and these securities will likely have little, if any, value following Ambassadors’ Chapter 11 proceeding.

For more info, look up www.windstarcruises.com.

Celebrity's Interactive Art Programme

Celebrity Cruises is offering guests the opportunity to create original works of their own, within “The Art Studio” onboard Celebrity Silhouette through a new partnership with ArtCenter/South Florida.

Located within the distinctive Lawn Club area on the top deck of Celebrity's newest ship, The Art Studio will offer a wide variety of lectures, demonstrations and interactive classes, including jewellery creation, sketching and painting. When Celebrity Silhouette debuts in July, guests will have the opportunity to participate in interactive sessions with artists Leslie LaCombe and Armando Droulers.

LaCombe worked in the art departments of film and television for many years. She then studied silver jewellery design with accomplished artist Billy King in Mexico, and soon found her work on display at a prominent local gallery. She has travelled extensively in south-east Asia, India and Europe, with the various cultures inspiring many of her works. Today, LaCombe lives in Miami, teaches at ArtCenter/South Florida, and continues to produce handcrafted precious stone and metal jewellery in her studio located on Miami’s famed South Beach.

Armando Droulers is an art historian, artist and educator who studied at Bard College, Academia de Arte Federico Brandt, New World School of the Arts, and the University of South Florida. He lectures extensively on art and culture, and also organises art tours and cultural events across the globe. Droulers has lived in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the U.S., and speaks fluent English, Spanish and French. On Silhouette, Droulers will teach drawing, watercolour and collage classes, offer presentations on the history and art of the destinations the ship visits, and will lead art and wine lectures in the ship’s CellarMasters wine bar, and sketching courses in various ports of call.

Celebrity Silhouette is one of FIVE Celebrity ships offering premium cruise options in Europe this year, from six departure ports. She sets sail in July, offering a host of industry-first venues and experiences within The Lawn Club. In addition to The Art Studio, the new venues include the interactive Lawn Club Grill, where guests can select and grill their own meats alongside Celebrity's expert chefs, or have them cooked to order; the relaxing, private, Wi-Fi-equipped cabanas, called The Alcoves, and The Porch, a breezy, casual dining spot offering sandwiches, coffees and views of the sea and the ship’s lawn. Silhouette also will present another entirely new venue, The Hideaway, an intimate, quiet space reminiscent of a childhood tree house.

For more info, visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk or try the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Enter, Adonia!

I thought it was worth posting this first-look photo of P&O Cruises' new ship Adonia, which arrived in her home port of Southampton for the first time today.

The former Royal Princess of Princess Cruises (and the ex-R Eight of failed Renaissance Cruises), she boasts a smart new paint job and a variety of internal modifications to make her suitable for P&O passengers.

Now on to the naming ceremony with Dame Shirley Bassey tomorrow...!

Royal Caribbean's Great Dubai Deal

Join Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas for an eight-night Dubai fly/cruise from just £999 per person this winter (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

The price includes return flights from London Gatwick, transfers and a seven-night cruise departing from Dubai (UAE) and calling at Fujairah (UAE), Muscat (Oman) and Abu Dhabi (UAE), before returning to Dubai; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price is based on 28 November 2011 departure.

For more info, see www.royalcaribbean.co.uk or the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Free Flights With Star Clippers

Niche tall ship cruise operator Star Clippers is offering free flights up to £400pp with bookings for tall-ship cruises from Athens, through the Greek islands, this August. Sailings include all meals and a choice of two superb itineraries, the Southern Cyclades (August 6 and 20) and the Northern Cyclades (August 13 and 27), on board the 170-passenger, 4-masted Star Clipper.

The cruise costs from £1295 per person, based on two sharing, for bookings made by June 30. Guests on the August 6 and 20 departures can also enjoy complimentary instruction from yoga teacher Christel Vollmer who will be holding daily sessions of Astanga yoga on deck in the cool morning air, with a second session just before sunset, including meditation. Christel will also deliver lectures on the philosophy of yoga and advice for practice at home.

The Northern Cyclades itinerary departs from Athens and calls into Camlimani and Kusadasi (for the antiquities at Ephesus) in Turkey, and Patmos, Amorgos, Mykonos and Monemvasia in Greece. The August 13 departure has a qualified yoga teacher on board and also offers complimentary talks, classes and guided meditation.

The Southern Cyclades itinerary is a round-trip from Athens, calling at Rhodes; Bodrum and Dalyan in Turkey; and dramatic Santorini and Hydra, haunt of many artists. The August 6 departure has a qualified yoga teacher on board and also offers complimentary talks, classes and guided meditation.

For more info, visit www.starclippers.co.uk or contact the UK's leading adventure-cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Uniworld Launches New Douro Spirit

This week, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ new ship, the Douro Spirit (above), made its debut on the "Portugal, Spain and Douro Valley” itinerary.

The Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage region, is being increasingly recognised for its wine making and natural beauty, reflected in an impressive 80% growth in UK river cruisers in 2010 over 2009, according to recent figures from the Passenger Shipping Association.

Its port heritage dates back over 2,000 years, with the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. The Douro Valley is also a cultural landscape of exceptional beauty, with rambling vineyards and charming quintas clinging to the steep slopes of its valley, creating an incomparable backdrop to one of Europe’s most unspoiled regions. And this is what you can expect to see and experience from the comfort of Douro Spirit.

Every riverview stateroom and suite onboard features a French balcony, so guests can get closer to the breathtaking scenery of the region’s unspoiled natural landscapes. The Spirit’s common areas provide added comfort with a main lounge featuring a full-service bar and dance floor, a restaurant, sun deck with jacuzzi and small swimming pool, a lovely onboard restaurant with open seating, fitness room, massage room, beauty salon and a boutique.

And all of this is presented on an intimate ship built to accommodate a maximum of 128 passengers and provide the small-ship boutique ambience that Uniworld has become known for.

The 11-day "Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley" cruise includes: three nights in Lisbon at a deluxe hotel; a 7-night cruise in a stateroom with a French balcony onboard Douro Spirit; all meals, with complimentary fine wine, beer and soft drinks served with dinner onboard; 10 fully-hosted shore excursions by English-speaking local guides; return flights and transfers. Prices start at just £2,499 per person.

For more info, visit www.uniworldrivercruises.co.uk or contact the river-cruise specialists of top UK cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd.

Learn Digital Film Making with Crystal

Lights, camera, action! Guests on Crystal Cruises’ October “Digital Film-Making”-themed voyage will get to hone their production skills with an intense video production programme that focuses on creating extraordinary travel videos.

During the 12-night New York to Miami Caribbean cruise, Michael Rosenblum - a digital film groundbreaker who led the BBC’s transition to digital production and created The Travel Channel Academy, among other credits - will lead a team of instructors in teaching guests how to create the best travel videos possible. The pros will cover every step of the production process and teach travellers to think through their videos before shooting, so the finished product will be a more watchable and compelling film to share with friends, family, or the world.

“Whether a complete novice, or a veteran videographer, there will be instruction geared toward every level of shooting experience,” says Crystal’s Vice President of International Sales & Marketing, Philip Ordever. “It’s an exceptional opportunity for travellers to gain a practical education in a fast-growing arena from one of the top experts in the field—all for free.”

Onboard, guests can attend multiple training classes, seek daily one-on-one assistance at a programme “base camp” and view other guests’ raw footage and finished films in a constructive workshop setting. On various excursions, instructors will accompany guests to provide hands-on shooting guidance.

Production areas that will be covered include:

Pre-production and storyboarding

Setting up/framing shots

Shooting time/clip lengths

Uploading footage




Finalising finished product for sharing

Crystal will provide all equipment for programme participation, including video cameras, Macintosh laptop computers and editing software.

The 12-night “Pink Sands & White Beaches” cruise starts in New York on October 25 and visits Bermuda, St Maarten, Antigua, Aruba and Grand Cayman before finishing in Miami. Prices start from £4,221 per person, including return scheduled flights, transfers, 12 nights in a deluxe stateroom with picture window with all meals and soft drinks, port taxes and a $500 per person onboard credit.

For more info, see www.crystalcruises.co.uk or contact the UK's leading luxury-cruise specialist agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

OperaBabes Set Sail With Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

As part of the popular ‘Music and Laughter’ programme of cruises, with high quality, live entertainment, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is delighted to welcome back, for a second season, The OperaBabes.

Rebecca Knight, soprano, and Karen England, mezzo soprano, were discovered by a talent scout in 2001 when they were busking in Covent Garden. Their first big break came when they were booked to perform at the FA Cup Final, giving them a worldwide audience of 500 million people, and they have never looked back.

Their first album was launched to great critical and popular acclaim and reached Number 1 in the UK Classical Charts, selling over a million copies, and also reaching Number 4 in the USA chart.

They entertained guests aboard a Fred. Olsen cruise last October, to enormous acclaim, and will now be cruising once more and delighting guests with their special style of opera and glamour.

The cruise featuring this high class headline act is Braemar M1123, to Iberia, an 11-night voyage departing from Dover on October 28. The OperaBabes will join the cruise to entertain guests from November 3-8. The ports of call visited are Motril (Spain), Ibiza (Spain), Cartagena (Spain) and Lisbon (Portugal) before returning to Dover.

Prices start from £948 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside twin cabin, Grade ‘I’, and include accommodation, all food and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

Find out more at www.fredolsencruises.com or contact specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd.

MS AmaKatarina's Russian Debut

The newest addition to AMA Waterways’ award-winning river cruise fleet, the 212-passenger MS AmaKatarina celebrated its inaugural “Russian Waterways” itinerary from Moscow to St. Petersburg on May 10 with an 11-night sailing through the heart of Russia. The ship provides the most luxurious and spacious accommodations on Russia’s famed Volga-Baltic Waterway.

Completely redesigned and rebuilt from the hull up, AmaKatarina features outside balconies in 76 of her 106 staterooms and suites ranging up to 432sq ft in size.

The ship's modern, upscale décor is evident in her staterooms, which feature a sitting area, bathroom with separate shower, a refrigerator, hairdryer, safe and telephone (onboard communications). Spacious public areas include a beautiful Panorama Lounge; Conference Hall for onboard entertainment/lectures; Solarium and Gift Shop. An American chef with extensive experience in Russia oversees onboard dining.

AmaKatarina also features two separate dining venues, including a beautiful Main Restaurant with panoramic views of riverside scenery. Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks are served with dinner, bottled water is replenished in staterooms daily and speciality coffees are available throughout the day. The ship also has Internet access; a fitness centre on the Sun Deck; a hair dresser and masseuse; an elevator reaching all four decks and an onboard physician.

Guests aboard the 11-night itinerary between Moscow and St Petersburg experience an unforgettable cruise into the heart of Russia, from bustling Moscow to the enchanting Golden Ring cities of Uglich and Yaroslavl to the splendours of St Petersburg.

Highlights include visits to the Kremlin, the Hermitage Museum, a day boat luncheon cruise on the Moscow River; an exclusive ballet performance at the Hermitage Theatre and a specially-arranged visit to the home of a local Russian family in Uglich. During the cruise, guests will enjoy onboard music performances and Russian language classes, as well as lectures from experts on topics such as Russia’s history, culture, art, politics and economy.

The Russian Waterways cruise costs from £2,249 per person, including 11 nights’ accommodation; all meals as detailed on the itinerary; wine with dinner; complimentary soft drinks, mineral water and speciality coffee; all shore excursions as featured on the itinerary; and port charges. Price excludes flights and transfers.

For more info, visit www.amawaterways.co.uk or contact the river-cruise specialists at The Cruise Line Ltd.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Aqua's New Ship Under Way!

I make no excuses for highlighting this great piece of cruise news from Peru, as we rate the operations of this specialist cruise line among the best of its kind, and well worth considering for those who like to get off the beatean track but still enjoy first-class creature comforts.

Aqua Expeditions have operated the 24-passenger MV Aqua for several years now, featuring superb up-close encounters on the Upper Amazon and journeys into the amazing wildlife preserve of the Pacaya Samiria Park.

It is a rare and eco-friendly opportunity to really experience a part of the world that remains fairly remote and inaccessible for the most part, plus great service and fabulous local cuisine.

And now Aqua has a second ship offering the same level of exclusive, deluxe travel in this part of the world, with the MV Aria joining the fleet earlier this month. And, following its maiden voyage, a delighted chief executive officer Francesco Galli Zugaro emailed us this letter, which we think is worth re-printing in full to highlight their latest offering:

"It is with great pleasure that I announce the MV Aria, Aqua Expeditions' second five-star luxury river-cruiser on the Peruvian Amazon, set sail this past Friday on its maiden voyage with 21 passengers aboard including myself, my wife and three children.

Completed in just 12 months and in the most remote inland seaport of the world, this brand-new addition to our fleet features 16 sleek cabins with floor-to-ceiling picture windows, a fully air-conditioned top deck with a cool and contemporary observation lounge as well as Aqua Expeditions' signature Amazon Grill with menu designed by award-winning Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. In addition, the Aria has an exercise room and an outdoor jacuzzi with sun deck, designed to accommodate the fitness-conscious traveler.

The boat's itineraries vary slightly to complement those of its sister ship, the MV Aqua, exploring remote areas of the Amazon River and the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. The 24-crew-member Aria is staffed with four world-class nature guides and also includes an Amazon wildlife reference library and air-conditioned multimedia room.

The Aria will provide the ever-growing number of travelers who wish to explore one of the world's last great wilderness areas with a one-of-a-kind travel experience.

Thank you for your ongoing support and I look forward to hosting your clients with us soon.


Francesco Galli Zugaro
Chief Executive Officer"

Hurtigruten's Special Flight-Inclusive Offer

Anyone who fancies a trip to Norway with Hurtigruten later this year to search for the Northern Lights can take advantage of a new flight-inclusive offer. A special package has been created that includes flights and transfers (usually, prices are exclusive of flights and these have to be added) with savings of up to 35%.

Available on the 12-day Classic Round Voyage, for selected dates in October and November, this is an ideal time to spot the Northern Lights. These offers are limited in number and must be booked by June 30. Demand is anticipated to be very high.

A voyage with Hurtigruten offers passengers the opportunity to get closer to the shores, coastline and communities of Norway as the ships call at over 34 ports, many not visited by the larger cruise ships. The ultimate voyage journey is the full 12-day voyage from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north, taking guests high above the Arctic Circle and back.

Classic Round Voyage – From £999 (saving £35%) - travelling on select dates in October and November, this includes full board on the ship and return direct flights from Heathrow to Bergen with BMI. Based on two sharing.

Dates are: October 1, 20, 23, 25 and 31 and November 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 22, 25 and 28.

For more info, visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk or the UK's adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

A Luxury Hotel Barge Cruise

A cruise through Provence with European Waterways aboard luxury 8-passenger hotel barge Enchanté is genuinely like no other. After some Spring cruises along the 300-year-old Canal du Midi, she embarks in June on a series of delightful cruises through Provence, known for its gorgeous climate and fine cuisine.

Passengers joining Enchanté for any of these 6-night cruises along the Canal du Rhône à Sete can be sure of a fascinating voyage of discovery, whichever itinerary they choose.

On the Beziers and Aigues Mortes cruise, they will visit Pezenas, home of the playwright Moliere and cruise through the Camargue National Park, with its wild horses and pink flamingoes. On the Agde to Avignon route, highlights will include a cruise across the Thau Basin, an inland seawater lagoon full of oyster beds, and a tour of the impressive Palais des Papes in Avignon itself.

And on the Avignonto Marseillan voyage, there will be an excursion to see the amazing three-tiered Pont du Gard aqueduct built by the Romans, and a private wine tasting in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. To really make it a special cruise, passengers will enjoy gourmet Provencale cuisine prepared by their onboard chef and fine local wines.

Prices for an all-inclusive 6-night cruise aboard Enchanté start from £3,300pp in an air-conditioned, en suite cabin, and from £23,500 for a full boat charter. The price includes gourmet meals, fine wines, an open bar, all excursions and local transfers.

For more info, visit http://www.gobarging.com/ or contact the luxury cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Noble Caledonia's Burgundy & Provence Special

Leave the crowded roads behind and relax onboard Noble Caledonia's first class river vessel through Provence and Burgundy on a seven-night river journey along the Rhone and Saone Rivers - at a special reduced rate this June.
This sailing has been chartered by the company's US associates, Travel Concepts. Due to some late availability, the remaining cabins can be offered at very special prices. The 78-passenger MS Rembrandt will sail all the way from the enchanting town of Arles to Chalon-sur-Saone near Beaune.

Enjoy time in historic Avignon and Arles, forever associated with some of the greatest impressionist artists. From here, there will be the opportunity to visit some of the great Roman sites for which Provence is justly famous. Continue to the ancient town of Vienne with its dramatically sited medieval cathedral, then visit the gourmet capital of Lyon before cruising through the vine-covered hills of Burgundy, ending in the historic town of Beaune, the region's wine capital.

The 7-night voyage now costs from just £995 and departs on June 30. For more info, visit www.noble-caledonia.co.uk or contact the river-cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Zegrahm Expeditions - "Tours of a Lifetime"

Zegrahm Expeditions has been selected for National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “Tours of a Lifetime” honour for the second time, highlighting the company's keen eye for superb adventure travel.

In the past, the honours have been bestowed upon Zegrahm's natural history-focused expeditions — Beyond Rapa Nui, Ultimate Seychelles, and Faces of Melanesia — but, this year, they are excited to announce the award has been bestowed uopn a new, in-depth cultural tour: Voyage Through the Red Sea. This 17-day expedition, aboard the Clipper Odyssey, departs November 6 and visits Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea.

This voyage combines the Red Sea’s best cultural attractions along with several opportunities to snorkel and dive, plus offers a rare glimpse into a number of hospitable countries rarely visited by Western travellers. Highlights of this tour include:

• Exploring the rose-colored wonders of Petra, the capital of the ancient Nabatean Empire and now a World Heritage Site.

• Cruising along the Nile in a traditional felucca sailing vessel.

• Visiting several exquisite World Heritage Sites in Egypt — the Monastery of St. Catherine (above) and the treasures of ancient Thebes, including Luxor, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings.

• Walking tour of Jeddah’s well-preserved old city, considered the gateway to Mecca.

• Snorkelling and diving in the shimmering waters of the Dahlak Archipelago, an area renowned for its rich marine life and scenic beauty.

To learn more about this voyage, visit www.zeco.com or contact the UK's adventure-cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Med Cruise For Less than £55 Per Night? Yes, With Royal Caribbean!

Join Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas for an 18-night Ultimate Mediterranean cruise from just £948 per person this November (based on two people sharing an inside cabin). That's less than £55 per person, per night - including meals.

The price includes the full 18-night voyage departing Southampton and calling at Lisbon, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Livorno (for Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia (for Rome), Naples (for Capri and Pompeii), Gibraltar and Cádiz before returning to Southampton; plus all meals and entertainment, and relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price is based on November 11 departure.

For more info, visit www.royalcaribbean.co.uk or specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd.