The July 2021 cover of Cruise Adviser, featuring the city lights of Singapore – a key destination on a number of epic cruises
Find out what's in the latest issue of Cruise Adviser
Plus P&O Cruises reveals Arvia features
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Paid partnership: A voyage with Aurora Expeditions offers something for all types of expeditioners, from camping on ice in Antarctica to tropical scuba diving
Each issue, cruise expert Jane Archer shares her tips on selling a specific area of cruise. This time, she looks at river
Cruise Adviser is the leading cruise publication for the travel trade. The award-winning magazine contains insightful comment, features, news and advice for those looking to sell cruise holidays. Uniquely aimed at frontline travel agents, two thirds of readers say the magazine has helped them make a sale.
Cruise Adviser is published monthly, and is out on the second Wednesday of the month.
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Saga’s new boutique cruise ship Spirit of Adventure has become the first-ever ship to be named at Portsmouth International Port.
The luxurious cruise ship was named with a traditional bottle smashing ceremony by Commodore Inga J Kennedy, the recently retired head of the Royal Navy Medical Service.
The blessing took place ahead of its inaugural round-Britain voyage on July 26 from Tilbury.
The ship was due to take to the waters last year after being handed over by the shipbuilder in September 2020, but it remained anchored due to Covid-19.
Nick Stace, Saga’s CEO of Travel, said: “Today has been a long time coming for everyone, so it feels symbolic that the naming of our brand-new cruise ship, ‘Spirit of Adventure’ will be part of such an historic day for the UK.
“Those who love to travel have waited patiently for it to resume, and what better way to mark a return to the freedom that travel gives us than with the launch of a new cruise ship.”
The bottle – a jeroboam of English sparkling wine from Balfour Hush Heath Estate – was smashed against the hull of the ship to offer a blessing of safe sailing and good fortune.
Commodore was chosen to be the ship’s godmother in recognition of the countless hours of service given by medical professionals during the pandemic.
Stace said: “We felt it was important to recognise the outstanding work the medical profession has undertaken during the pandemic and wanted to pay our respects the best way we knew how. Commodore Kennedy has served in the Navy for 20 years and within healthcare for 40 years, so we felt she was the perfect choice for the role and we’re honoured that she accepted.”
The ceremony ended with Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts singing the national anthem.
Spirit of Adventure has 10 passenger decks with 554 all-balcony cabins and a maximum capacity of 999 people.
The ship features five restaurants, including The Main Dining Room, The Grill, The Supper Club, Amalfi and Khukuri – the only Nepalese dining spot on the High Seas.
All restaurants are complementary to dine in. Facilities include an observation deck, full wraparound promenade and terrace, a lido, sports court and deck games.
There’s also a 444-seat theatre, a library and a spa with hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam and treatment rooms.
Stace said: “Every aspect has been designed with our guests in mind, from the bold colours and the wrap-around promenade through to the numerous restaurants and entertainment facilities.
“Every cabin has its own private balcony with uninterrupted sea views and everything from the chauffeur service to meals and wi-fi are included in the price.”
All guests need be fully vaccinated to travel with Saga Cruises.
Maritime minister Robert Courts delivered the “much appreciated news” to the All Party Parliamentary and Ports Group
UK cruise lines will be able to restart domestic sailings from May 17, the maritime minister has told a group of MPs.
Robert Courts was appearing at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group (APPMPG).
On Twitter, the group said he had announced “the reopening of the domestic cruise market in England”.
It added: “From repatriation procedures and risk mitigations to Covid-19 protocols and the domestic vaccination programme, a great APPMPG session [with] Robert Courts who delivered some much appreciated news.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said that the return of domestic cruises would be aligned to the reopening of domestic tourism and indoor hospitality.
Last month, it was confirmed that holidays will resume no earlier than May 17, as the government laid out its roadmap for exiting lockdown.
A DfT review into how to allow inbound and outbound travel to restart will report on April 12. Domestic cruises were outlined as the first step in the sector’s reopening by the Global Travel Taskforce in autumn.
According to The Independent, Courts told MPs that the government is working with the home nations to ensure the return of UK-wide domestic cruise.
A DfT spokesperson said: “We are committed to restarting cruise travel when it is safe to do so and we are working closely with the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart.
“The restart of domestic cruises in England will be aligned with the wider resumption of the domestic tourism and indoor hospitality sectors.
“As set out in the prime minister’s roadmap, the earliest possible date for this step is May 17.”
Andy Harmer, director, Clia UK and Ireland, said: “We strongly welcome the announcement that cruise will be included alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK. The industry has been working with the government over the last year on health protocols which put the safety of our passengers and crew first. Many of these protocols have already been tested successfully where cruise has been able to operate elsewhere in Europe.
“The industry has long planned a phased restart for cruise, with domestic cruises representing the first stage of this plan. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Government, including through the Global Travel Taskforce in order to ensure the safe restart of international cruise in time for the summer season.”
The second LNG-powered Excel class ship is set to arrive in December 2022 and is designed to appeal to all ages
P&O Cruises’ new Excel class ship Arvia will feature Altitude Skywalk high-ropes, minigolf, a swim-up bar and new restaurant Green & Co featuring Mizuhana.
Arriving in December 2022, the ship is designed to appeal to all ages, P&O Cruises said as it unveiled new renderings.
Guests will be able to choose from two different adventurous Altitude Skywalk high-ropes courses while suspended 54m above the ocean. Altitude Minigolf, comprising nine minigolf challenges and another P&O Cruises first, will be located below.
A swim-up bar and infinity pool with views of the ship’s wake will also be part of the on-deck experience.
SkyDome is a pool by day with dining and entertainment by night, including aerial performances, theatre productions and blockbuster movies al fresco on SeaScreen.
As well as entertainment, Arvia will feature 12 restaurants plus a further eight more casual places to eat.
Green & Co featuring Mizuhana with a “plant and fish-led” menu has been especially developed for Arvia. Mizuhana sushi bar will be within Green & Co.
Also on board is 6th Street Diner, informal by day, but with a sophisticated night-time vibe, featuring retro seating, atmospheric lighting and jukebox and serving all-American flavours including speciality fried chicken and waffles with bourbon mascarpone.
P&O Cruises’ signature restaurants Epicurean, Sindhu, The Glass House, The Keel & Cow and The Olive Grove, already across the fleet, will feature on Arvia.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Arvia is the latest evolution in the P&O Cruises experience, embodying the newest trends in travel, dining and entertainment, and will be the epitome of a sunshine resort sailing year-round to the warmest climates.
“New restaurant Green & Co featuring Mizuhana will have a plant-led menu, reflecting the latest trends in vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian dining, while Altitude Skywalk and SeaScreen will entertain all ages.
“Arvia’s extraordinary features maximise views of the ocean, seashore and destinations from everywhere on board, while guests enjoy the next generation of onboard entertainment.”
The 185,000-tonne ship, which is 345m in length and boasts 16 guest decks, will also be home to Ocean Studios cinema, 1,300 square metres of shopping and the Oasis Spa and Health Club.
The Oasis Spa boasts new treatments exclusive to Arvia – two couples’ suites, each with a hammam and steam room, a therapeutic cool room, a restorative salt sauna and an invigorating Kneipp Walk, which combines a pebble foot massage with hot and cold water treatments to stimulate circulation and boost vitality.
Similar to its sister ship Iona, Arvia will be powered by liquefied natural gas as part of P&O Cruises’ ongoing commitment to sustainable travel. Building of the ship is already underway at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.
We’d like to celebrate the best cruise has to offer with our second Cruise 20 awards. We want you, our loyal readers, to pick your favourite cruise lines in 20 different categories, from the most environmentally friendly cruise line to the best pizza at sea, as well the best overall lines in both river and ocean. We’ll be announcing the winners in the September issue of Cruise Adviser.
With its picture-perfect red roofs set against the deep blue Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik has become one of the most adored Mediterranean ports for cruisers.
That adulation is both a boon and a bane. On the one hand, it brings more and more cruise ships and passengers to the city – some 466 cruise calls were recorded in the first eight months of 2019, up from a total 475 in 2015 – which in turn brings port fees and people with money to spend.
On the other hand, the medieval old city, which is about the same size as Disneyland Paris, is too small to accommodate the thousands of tourists and cruise passengers trying to squeeze into its narrow streets each summer (2019 saw some 1.5 million overnight visitors and about 800,000 cruise passengers, according to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board).
When Unesco warned in 2017 that it might revoke the city’s World Heritage status due to overtourism, the authorities acted. In 2019, a limit of two ships and a maximum 5,000 cruise passengers at any one time was imposed. Additionally, starting January 1, 2021, the city is slapping a tax on cruise ships of between 2,000 and 40,000 kuna (£227 to £4,525), depending on their size, which works out at an average £1.20 a head.
It sounds draconian but it should make things more pleasant for everyone, and so far at least cruisers are not missing out as schedules have been juggled to make sure ships passing through the Adriatic can still visit.
Viking Cruises, MSC Cruises, Silversea, Holland America Line, CroisiEurope, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International are among the many cruise lines that will be there in 2020, along with Celestyal Cruises, which is visiting Dubrovnik for the first time in December on new out-of-season Romantic Adriatic voyages round-trip from Venice.
Small ships such as SeaDream’s diminutive duo anchor off the old city harbour and tender passengers ashore, but most vessels dock in Gruž, about 1.5 miles from the old city. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the port to the city, and there is a steepish hill to negotiate, but it’s a pleasant walk. Alternatively there are always plenty of taxis and shuttle buses.
Taxis take euros, and you can use them in most restaurants and bars, but Croatia’s official currency, kuna, will be needed for the key attractions.
Once inside the pedestrian-only city walls, most first-time visitors make a beeline for the steps that lead to the top of the city walls. It costs about £22 and the full circuit is just over a mile, but it takes ages because you have to keep stopping to admire the fabulous views over the city’s picturesque terracotta rooftops, turrets and towers on one side and the calm Adriatic on the other.
Another good vantage point is from Sr Mountain behind the town. There’s a cable car to the top (about £19), and you can visit the Homeland War Museum remembering the 1991 conflict with Serbia while there, but most people are content to enjoy the views.
The best way to explore the old city is to just wander the maze of narrow streets, marble-paved squares and steep alleyways, peeking into churches and admiring the beautiful palaces you stumble across here and there. For a cultural fix, there are maritime, modern art and history museums to explore.
For those keen to get an insight into the city’s history, culture and cuisine there are various walking tours, including Game of Thrones themed outings that take fans to locations where scenes from the programme’s fictional city of King’s Landing were filmed.
Guides take GoT devotees to the 11th-century Fort Lovrijenac that guards what was known in the HBO series as Blackwater Bay, and share behind-the-scenes stories at locations such as Pile Gate and the Jesuit Stairs. An optional extension to Viator’s Games of Thrones Tour visits Trsteno Arboretum, which doubled as King’s Landing’s palace garden.
Cruisers back in Dubrovnik for a second or third time and keen for something new to do can take a 15-minute ferry ride from the old harbour to the island of Lokrum, where there’s swimming, snorkelling and a botanical garden to explore, or see the old city from a different vantage point on a kayak tour around the walls.
There are also trips to Cavtat, about 12 miles south of Dubrovnik, a pretty town with sandy beaches, a picturesque waterfront and plenty of restaurants, while oenophiles can go wine-tasting in the Konavle Valley, an hour outside the city.
First published in January 2020
It’s no surprise that many travellers are looking to reconnect with the natural world. So what better than combining a bucket list ocean adventure with the best of nature on Aurora Expeditions?
A voyage with Aurora Expeditions offers something for all types of expeditioners, from camping on ice in Antarctica to tropical scuba diving, taking the Polar Plunge and ski touring in a frozen terrain. Transformative and unforgettable, sailing with Aurora Expeditions will encourage you to push your personal boundaries while creating extraordinary memories.
Plunge wetsuit free into icy waters
Featuring a spectacular, otherworldly landscape studded with incredible wildlife, there is no place on earth like Antarctica. And there’s no experience like the Polar Plunge. A time-worn tradition, this celebrated (optional) rite of passage is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fearless polar travellers. Join the club – jump in to cheers of encouragement from all on board! See more here.
Scuba dive in Antarctica
Discover a fascinating underwater world on an Antarctic dive. In 1998, Aurora Expeditions offered a world-first commercial dive trip in the region, and have built on this unique experience ever since. With numerous diving opportunities, we guarantee that no two days will be alike: one minute you could be swimming among tranquil humpback whales, the next uncovering historic shipwrecks. See more here.
Try your hand at underwater photography in the Sea of Cortez
Dubbed the ‘Aquarium of the World,’ the strikingly beautiful Sea of Cortez offers some unmissable photographic opportunities for wildlife fanatics – its turquoise waters are teeming with over 900 species of fish (including sharks and seahorses), plus whales, dolphins, rays, sea turtles and sea lions. Not only that, the snorkelling and diving here is among the best in the world. See more here.
Kayak in search of wildlife
Jump in a kayak for one of the most exhilarating ways to navigate the Alaskan wilderness. Paddle between icebergs of all sizes, glide past penguin rookeries or just drift while taking in the majestic scenery. You’ll kayak in small groups with experienced guides whose aim is to make sure you see as much as possible, with steaming flasks of hot chocolate on hand for sustenance. See more here.
Snorkel the Arctic’s icy waters
Float through crystal clear waters to see the region in a new dimension – watch penguins as they enter and exit the ice, marvel at icebergs and shipwrecks and witness incredible marine life in this solitary world. Led by expert polar diving guides, you’ll wear state-of-the-art kit and be provided with training for the ultimate experience. See more here.
Rock climb the remote, rugged summits of East Greenland
Want to take in views that few people will ever be lucky enough to witness? Experienced climbers will literally be on top of the world when scaling the sheer granite cliffs, peaks and glacial remnants in pursuit of killer views such as Scoresby Sund’s ice-filled fjords. So clip on your carabiners and don’t miss the chance to participate in a thrilling Arctic climbing adventure. See more here.
Take a ski tour in Antarctica
Forget the well-trodden European slopes, true adventurers get their ski and snowboarding fix on some of the world’s most incredible terrain. You may not have considered it before, but Antarctica offers a range of options for experienced participants: from alpine bowls to long, open slopes and pristine bays filled with floating bergs and breaching whales, you’ll be exploring where few have ventured before. See more here.
Camp on the ice in Antarctica
Fancy a night on the ice? This popular activity gives you the chance to soak up the atmosphere of this unique region, while witnessing the stunning Antarctic night sky with its extended sunset and sunrise. If you’re wondering how you’ll stay warm, you’ll be provided with thermal sleeping bags, although sleeping might be the last thing on your mind as you won’t want to miss a thing. See more here.
Follow the footsteps of a polar pioneer
Want to retrace the steps of famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton? Since 2001, Aurora Expeditions have offered guests the chance to repeat his 1916 crossing, by trekking for up to three days across South Georgia. Suitable for those with alpine trekking or mountaineering experience, this extreme adventure traverses glaciated, rugged and remote terrain and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. See more here.
Search for polar bears in Wrangel Island
Located in the Arctic Ocean, Wrangel Island is home to the world’s largest polar bear breeding grounds, so if seeing these iconic animals is on your wishlist, here’s where to do it. You’ll be joined by knowledgeable local rangers on the ice or in a Zodiac boat, beneath slopes dotted with polar bear adults and cubs. If you’re lucky, you may also spot ringed seals, walruses, reindeer and arctic foxes. See more here.
With the most comprehensive activity programme within the expedition voyage industry, Aurora Expeditions currently have Early Bird offers on a range of seasons:
- Arctic and Global 2022: Save up to 20 per cent
- Antarctica 2022: Save up to 25 per cent
Head to auroraexpeditions.com to find out more
Five of the best sailings off the beaten path
From December 2023, AmaWaterways will be offering the first cruise to sail Colombia’s Magdalena River, after partnering with South American tour operator Metropolitan Touring. It’ll be an intimate 80-passenger cruise on a custom-built ship that’s heralded to be eco-friendly and luxurious. The 956-mile Magdalena River is known for its rich biodiversity and culture, and the new ship, AmaMagdalena, will embrace this through a mix of onboard and immersive shore experiences. [no pics in media library for this one]
Viking, Norway to Switzerland
Travelling from Bergen in the Norwegian Fjords to the Swiss city of Basel (or vice versa), this is a river and ocean cruise combo. Both inland and coastal destinations are taken in on this itinerary, exploring the Nordic seas and the Rhine River over 14 days. As well as stops in Norway and Switzerland, there’s port calls in Denmark, The Netherlands, France and Germany that take in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Black Forest and the North Sea. [got images]
Great Lakes Cruise Company, North America
The only cruise company to specialise in the area, these ships sail through the five Great Lakes — a series of unique, interconnected inland freshwater lakes in the USA and Canada, created after the last inland glaciers melted over 10,000 years ago. The cruises cover a range of places and itineraries across the lakes: Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario, focusing on luxury adventure that combines beautiful scenery with unique destinations. [no image library]
Croisi Europe, Spain
Croisi’s cruises in Spain explore the rivers of Andalusia (Guadalquivir and Guadiana), taking in some of the most renowned sites in southern Spain from a different angle. Jerez, Cadiz, Granada, and Andalusia’s capital, Seville, are visited on these tours that focus on local culture and gastronomy. There’s a selection of port-to-port cruises offered by the company, with itineraries centred around Christmas, New Year and landscapes of Andalusia, lasting six or eight days. [applied for image access – waiting]
Hurtigruten coastal, Norway
There’s plenty of cruises available in the Norwegian Fjords, but Hurtigruten stands out for its exploration of these waters. The Original Norwegian Coastal Express has been sailing for almost 130 years with the 12-day itinerary starting in Bergen before sailing up to the Arctic Circle, to the small town of Kirkenes, and back again. The ship stops at 34 coastal communities along its path, with each season providing a completely different experience. [can’t request access for some reason]
Each issue, cruise expert Jane Archer shares her tips on selling a specific area of cruise. This time, she looks at river cruise
A river cruise is a river cruise is a river cruise, right? Wrong. Every river cruise is different, even those on the same waterway, because all companies have their own take. Let’s take the Rhine. One cruise might have a history theme, another might focus on gentle sightseeing, another still could go for activities galore. That mix of attractions goes for all rivers. Be it wine, wellness, war, music, flowers, wildlife, there is a river cruise to suit everyone – even families. Agents who take time to successfully match first-time clients with the right river are onto a winner – especially as history shows that having enjoyed one river cruise, customers will check out other waterways in Europe and then graduate to waterways around world. This week we look at three different ways agents can sell the Rhône in France, the Danube, which flows from Germany all the way to the Black Sea, and the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Who? Avalon Waterways
When? August 24, 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £2,438pp
With hikes through vineyards and nature reserves, biking in the Camargue and kayaking in the Ardèche on the menu, Avalon’s ‘Active’ Rhône cruises promise to please even the itchiest feet. The cruise, from Lyon to Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, is on the 128-passenger Avalon Poetry II. The price, valid until April 26, includes excursions, tips and drinks with lunch and dinner.
Who? A-Rosa Cruises
When? August 28, 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £1,427pp
A-Rosa not only offers free cruises for children aged 15 and under, but on its Rhône ship, the 174-passenger A-Rosa Stella, a family of four will be allocated a second cabin at no charge. Talk about fab for the family finances. The cruise is fun for all ages, with villages to explore, cycling tours, kayaking and trips into the wild Camargue. Price includes drinks and wi-fi.
Don’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to selling rivers; instead ensure the sales process is nuanced to suit your client’s interests
With its something-for-everyone appeal, the Danube is a gift for agents. Great cities, wonderful scenery, fun activities, history, culture, music, dance, wine, art, architecture, wildlife. You name it, the Danube has it and river cruise lines offer it. Clients can cruise the upper reaches of the river from Germany to Hungary, or sail on through Eastern Europe, visiting Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania as they journey all the way to the Black Sea.
When? June 15, 2021
How long? 12 days
How much? From £5,760pp
This is a lesson in how to do special-interest cruises, with music-themed tours and private concerts most days, and even a chance to sit in on an orchestra rehearsal and attend the opera in Vienna. The holiday combines seven nights on the 130-passenger Joy with hotel stays in Budapest and Prague. Price includes transfers, all tours and concerts, drinks, tips and wi-fi.
Who? Amadeus River Cruises
Where? Lower Danube
When? September 22, 2021
How long? 10 days
How much? From £1,996pp including flights
Binoculars at the ready because Amadeus is off to the Danube Delta, dubbed the Amazon of Europe by the WWF on account of all the wildlife that lives there. The safari into the Delta comes on day eight of the cruise from Vienna to Bucharest on the 164-passenger Amadeus Star, with calls in Bratislava, Belgrade and Svistov. Price includes drinks with meals and wi-fi.
Where? Upper Danube
When? November 13, 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £2,689pp
Experts from Kent winery Chapel Down will be hosting wine tastings, vineyard tours and wine-paired dinners on this cruise from Budapest in Hungary to Vilshofen in Germany. On the 162-passenger AmaCerto, it also includes plenty of wine tastings ashore and ends with a mini Oktoberfest in Vilshofen. Price includes excursions, pre-dinner drinks, wi-fi and drinks with lunch and dinner.
Think beyond age. River cruise does appeal to the over 60s, but it’s a great holiday for 30 or 40-somethings, and even for families
Most Mekong river cruises are seven-night voyages between Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia (or vice versa) that include pre and post-cruise city stays, and deliver shed loads of history, culture and colour. Simply find out what your client likes and tailor the sales pitch accordingly. There are numerous lines to choose from, all offering something different. Consider this cruise also for Asia newbies nervous about going it alone.
Who? Uniworld River Cruises
When? December 8, 2021
How long? 15 days
How much? From £4,499pp including flights
Passengers visit the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War, meet a retired VC general and discover the horrors of the Khmer Rouge as Uniworld pairs city stays in Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap with a cruise between the two cities on the 68-passenger Mekong Jewel. The price, valid until March 31, includes tours, drinks, tips, wi-fi and one-way business-class flight.
Think of a river cruise as an escorted tour on water. Clients see a lot of places, as they would on a coach tour, but a floating hotel is a much easier way to travel
When? October 1, 2021
How long? 15 days
How much? From £4,440pp including flights
Menus created by leading Australian chef Luke Nguyen, an exclusive night out at Vietnam House, his restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, and cooking classes await on APT’s foodie-themed cruise-and-stay holidays on the Mekong. The stays are in Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, the cruise on the new 88-passenger Mekong Serenity. Price includes all tours, drinks, tips and wi-fi.
When? October 23, 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £2,680pp
Pandaw’s cruises between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap turn the spotlight on the lives of the people living along the banks of the Mekong. This cruise, on the 52-passenger Tonle Pandaw, includes visits to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, walking tours around villages and trips to temples and traditional workshops. Price includes pre and post-cruise transfers, excursions and tips.