Bikes & Boats: River Cruising As An Active Experience

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On bicycles while cruising AmaWaterways. Apologies for the yellow shorts!

On bicycles while cruising AmaWaterways. Apologies for the yellow shorts!

 

For active travelers, river cruising too often gets a bad rap. It’s thought of as an inactive form of travel when nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve straddled a saddle at nearly every port of call on nearly every river cruise I’ve done for the past ten years.

26 Day Private Luxury Round the World Journey

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All travel lovers have their own ideas about what the ultimate vacation would consist of.

Still, this one is hard to beat: a 26-day, around-the-world journey on a private luxury jet and in the company of Geoffrey Kent, the legendary founder of Abercrombie and Kent.

Kent designed the itinerary, which bypasses well-traveled destinations: don’t expect Paris or Hong Kong. Instead, the 50 lucky travelers who accompany Kent will visit places that don’t see a lot of tourists, from remote South Pacific Islands to the icy expanses of Greenland.

Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresa: A Floating Palace

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Uniworld's S.S. Maria Theresa. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresa. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

This week I have been cruising on Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s S.S. Maria Theresa. Because I was on the new Viking Star when the Uniworld cruise started, I joined the 15-day Amsterdam-to-Budapest voyage five days late.

Even so, ten days on board has been enough to see that Uniworld operates a nearly flawless product, offering what may just be the highest standard of luxury possible on a river cruiser.

2015 Silversea World Cruise Review

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Thanks to our world cruise hosts Kevin LaGraff and Susan Atkins for taking us on their journey around the world aboard the Silversea Whisper world cruise!

We’re so lucky to have them as part of the Cruise Specialists team and know our guests feel the same ways as Kevin and Susan make every day at sea more enjoyable and every port call more interesting.

After 115 days, over five continents, 35 countries and 50 ports it’s time to close the book on this world cruise.

What You Should Know About Small Ship Cruising

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Cruise lines understand that different guests look for different types of onboard experiences; and, the onboard experience on any ship is largely driven by its size.

Viking Star Main Pool with Roof Open

Larger ships amaze guests with expansive dining options, activities and performance spaces, while small ships excel at providing a more intimate, even cozy, atmosphere.

If your ideal cruise features lots of on-board activities, Vegas-style shows, multiple dining venues, and special programs for children and teens, a small ship may not be for you.

Viking Star Revealed, Our Firsthand Report

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Nordic inspired. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Nordic inspired. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

 

This past Saturday, I boarded the new Viking Star in Barcelona. I was only on for six days, disembarking in Lisbon. Viking Ocean Cruises had invited a couple dozen travel writers on this preview sailing as Viking Star makes her way to christening ceremonies in Bergen, Norway, on May 17.

Our group had time not only to explore the vessel but also to hear from Viking Ocean Cruises’ Chairman Torstein Hagen, who flew from his base in Basel, Switzerland, to spend a few hours with us.

World Cruising: The Ultimate Dream

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Each year, in its annual Travel Dreams Survey, Virtuoso Life magazine asks savvy travelers to name the “experience of a lifetime.” Topping the ambitious list year after year: a World Cruise.

This doesn’t surprise any of us at Cruise Specialists. As North America’s go-to agency for World Cruises since 1987, we’ve sent more than 8,000 inquisitive travelers around the globe to pursue their ultimate dream.

HAL Amesterdam on Easter Island from Tom Mullen

Amesterdam on Easter Island from Tom Mullen

Sailing with Holland America

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Cruise Specialists is proud to partner with Holland America Line for their world cruises. Our guests continually tell us they love the atmosphere, the service and the destinations!

In case you’re wondering what makes these sailings so extra ordinary, here are just a few of the reasons our hosts, consultants and guests enjoy Holland America Line.

EXCELLENCE

It’s a philosophy that guides everything they do – from crafting interesting itineraries and designing passenger-friendly ships to creating a warm and welcoming onboard ambiance.

What’s Coming For Seabourn Encore

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What can we expect from Seabourn’s newest ships?

I met with designer Adam D. Tihany in his New York studio to discuss what he’ll bring to the Seabourn’s twin ships, Seabourn Encore to launch in 2016 and Seabourn Ovation to launch in 2018.

First, it’s important to note that the ships’ designs will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. The new ships will build on the success of the Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest, which were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation will maintain Seabourn’s high ratio of space per guest and many of the same features as the existing vessels.

River Cruising with Scenic Tours – An in depth look

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At times, we pedaled alongside Scenic Jasper © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Scenic Jasper on the Danube. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

 

Earlier this week, I was in Vienna for the christening of a new river cruise vessel from a company that I knew little about. Scenic (formerly Scenic Tours) launched its new Scenic Jasper alongside the Danube River in the lovely Austrian city.

As is customary at such events, the godmother, Australian novelist and comedienne Kathy Lette, made a speech and cut a ribbon that sent a bottle of champagne smashing against the hull.