Cruise
Adviser

March 2021

The rivers rise again

Cruise
Adviser

March 2021
Editor’s letter

Back to the source

In summer last year, as the overwhelming majority of cruise ships sat offshore, empty of guests, river lines on the continent quietly began operating again. In July, amid increasing confusion created by changing advice from the Foreign Office, it was established that British holidaymakers could, in theory, take a river cruise – although few actually did.

As inland cruises were given the green light by French and German governments, various cruises lines – AmaWaterways, CroisiEurope and Nicko Cruises among them – welcomed guests back on board. At the time, Clia UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer spoke of a “gradual, phased-in approach to resumption of cruise operations across Europe, initially domestic and regional”.

Although, with the vaccine rollout, the landscape has changed – and British Isles cruises may now become the dominant form of cruise this summer – last year’s short river season has put the sector in good stead for a quick return. In this issue, we celebrate this relaxing but nevertheless exciting holiday choice, with expert tips from Jane Archer and Light Blue Travel MD Rupert Thomson and an interview with Paul Melinis of APT.

As ever, we have all the latest cruise news, incentives and offers, plus our comprehensive directory listings and our cancellations document – keeping you up to date with all the latest changes.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new edition and what you’d like to see more of, so please do email info@cruise-adviser.com. We hope you enjoy reading – and good luck selling.

Why we’ve gone digital

Over the summer of 2020, during lockdown, we dropped our print edition – and we’ve now made that move permanent. This is the fifth issue on a new interactive platform which allows us to incorporate video, audio and animations into the design, creating a unique proposition. 

We believe that now is the right time to move away from print – with a fast-changing news cycle, the industry’s push towards more sustainable practices, the rise of remote working and busier-than-ever work schedules, a proper, thought-out digital magazine is the only sensible way to go. You can read more about our thinking here

Cruise Adviser exists to make your job easier, help you better understand cruises and, ultimately, sell more of them. Our reader surveys over the summer have helped us understand the challenges you face and the questions your customers are asking. This issue, and the ones that follow, will help you navigate these stormy waters – explaining the latest Foreign Office and travel corridor advice, safety protocols, testing breakthroughs, as well as covering the latest news, from ship launches to fam trips and incentives; features about the best new itineraries; comment; interviews; and analysis.

About

Get in touch

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

To view our 2021 media kit and forward features list, please click hereCruise Adviser is created by Waterfront Publishing. See waterfront-publishing.com for more details.


Contacts

Editorial
Anthony Pearce, director
anthony@waterfront-publishing.com

Design: The Studio
Sub-editing: Nathaniel Cramp

Advertising and partnerships
Sam Ballard, director
sam@waterfront-publishing.com

Bryan Johnson, senior sales manger
bryan@waterfront-publishing.com
020 3865 9338
07532 709 734

Cruise Adviser
Hop Exchange,
Southwark Street,
London,  SE1 1TY

020 3865 9360
info@cruise-adviser.com

News

Domestic sailings from May 17

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.”

News

P&O Cruises reveals Arvia features

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.

Promotion: Norwegian Cruise Line

Video: Norwegian Cruise Line

Click play to watch in full
Imagine cruising just the way you want it, with no timetable to follow but your own. That is the freedom Norwegian Cruise Line provides on all of their ships and itineraries. Indulge your taste buds at one of their wide-ranging dining options, or perhaps you would prefer a dinner and a show combination. Relax at some of the most spacious and modern staterooms in the cruise industry, before venturing out to experience the shore excursion of your choice.
News

Uniworld boss aims for May return

The luxury river cruise operator hopes for a quick resumption of European sailings


Ellen Bettridge, the CEO of luxury river cruise operator Uniworld, has said she is hopeful that the company will return to service in May.

Bettridge, who was speaking at Clia’s Virtual River Cruise Showcase, said that the Danube, Rhine and Douro would all return to service quickly, with Asian rivers such as the Mekong coming back in September.

She said: “We don’t really know for sure what’s going to be required, but what we do know is that guests will still have a fantastic experience.”

Demand for the company’s cruises is high, with 11 per cent of bookings being carried over from 2020. Overall, 52 per cent of bookings so far for 2021 represented people new to the brand.

“People see [river cruising] as the opportunity to be close to land, on a smaller vessel and you have the space, comfort and luxury – I think they feel more comfortable being close to land.”

However, Bettridge conceded that shore excursions were still a big unknown for Uniworld, with different destinations expected to have different rules.

Clia’s Virtual River Cruise Showcase replaced its member event, which is usually held in November. Other speakers included Walter Littlejohn, the managing director of Crystal River Cruises, and Rudi Schreiner, co-founder of AmaWaterways.

News

Cruise lines make vaccinations mandatory

Ultra-luxury line Crystal joins the likes of Swan Hellenic and Saga in asking for proof of vaccination before sailing


Crystal has announced that it will now require all guests to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days prior to embarkation.

Guests will need to provide proof of vaccination before sailing and must have received both doses of the vaccine if recommended by the manufacturer. The ultra-luxury line joins the likes of Swan Hellenic and Saga in making the measure mandatory.

The vaccine requirement is part the company’s comprehensive Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, including negative Covid-19 tests for guests and crew, temperature checks at the terminal prior to boarding, a “nimble” mask policy, social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures, reduced capacity and more.

“We are encouraged by the progress being made with the Covid-19 vaccines and what this means for our Crystal Family and the travel industry as a whole as we eagerly look forward to exploring the world again,” said Crystal’s interim president and CEO, Jack Anderson.

“We know that peace of mind is the greatest luxury; and the vaccine requirement is simply the best way to ensure the safest possible Crystal Experience for all on board. This sentiment is underscored by conversations with our guests and travel partners and a recent survey of cruisers that revealed more than 80 per cent of respondents would cruise if a vaccine were required.

“As part of the company’s Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, crew members will be tested for Covid-19 prior to leaving their home location to join the ship and must receive a negative result. They also will take a Covid-19 test at embarkation; quarantine for seven days upon arrival; be tested again at the end of that seven-day period and must receive a negative result before beginning their duties,” Anderson said.

“When vaccines are widely available, they will be a requirement of employment for crew which must be completed at least 14 days prior to service.”

In addition to providing verified documentation of their Covid-19 vaccine at the time of boarding, guests will complete an online form acknowledging this requirement before their cruise tickets will be issued. Crystal has published a frequently asked questions document on the advisory alert section of its website for further reference.

Crystal said it will continue to evaluate and update its Crystal Clean+ 4.0 health and safety protocols for its luxury brands – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and the upcoming Crystal Expedition Cruises – according to the latest scientific data and expert guidance.

Promotion: Cunard

News

Nicko Cruises joins Clia Europe

The Stuttgart-based line is well known in Germany and is keen to raise awareness of the brand in international markets


German river cruise operator, Nicko Cruises, has been confirmed as a member of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) Europe.

The Stuttgart-based line has operated as a specialist in small ship cruise for 25 years. Its all-inclusive ships are designed for between 50-125 passengers, with English spoken on board and no-fly options available from the UK.

Andy Harmer, Clia UK & Ireland director, said: “We’re delighted to have Nicko Cruises join Clia. They are a well-established, premium brand which provides guests with unique river cruise experiences. We look forward to supporting them as they develop and build relationships with the trade across Europe.

“Their addition to Clia’s membership is testament to the continued desire for travellers to cruise, and their confidence that the industry will always have the health and safety of passengers and crew as the number one priority.”

Rupert Thomson, managing director of river cruise specialist company Light Blue Travel, which represents Nicko Cruises in the UK, said: “Nicko Cruises is very well known in the German market and we are keen, with the help of Clia, to raise awareness of the brand to a wider international audience. We look forward to participating in Clia events and reaping the benefits membership offers.”

Nicko Cruises, took part in last week’s Clia’s virtual river cruise showcase, which brought together river cruise operators and experts.

The line became one of the first operators in the world to restart operations last year. You can read more about river’s restart here.

Comment

10 tips for selling river

Rupert Thomson is MD of river cruise specialist Light Blue Travel, UK representative for the American Queen Steamboat Company, Victory Cruise Lines and Nicko Cruises. Here, he’s compiled the top ten tips for selling river cruise


1. Cruise customers will be desperate to get back on the water, but there may be some nervousness to board the big ocean ships, so suggest river cruise as an option to ease back into life onboard. Smaller vessels, less people, social distancing easier to control and very strict health and safety protocols – plus you’re never far from land!

2. A customer wanting to maximise their first holiday after lockdown? River cruise offers the chance to visit a different place every day and even several countries in one trip, without the hassle of transfers and you only have to unpack once. Suggest river cruise to customers who say they are put off by mass ocean cruising and want something more personalised, where the staff will call them by name and remember what they like to drink.

3. Most river cruises dock in the historic centres of the port of call, so it’s possible to step straight off the boat and walk into town – no hanging around for coaches or even having to use tenders to get off ocean ships at some destinations. River boats are also usually easier for those who are unsteady on their feet to manage, too.

4. Most river cruises include excursions at each port; if your customer likes to know that everything is paid for check that all-inclusive deals really include everything – all drinks, gratuities, wi-fi, port fees as well as fine dining – it’s increasingly becoming the norm.

5. If you’ve got a repeat cruise customer, who’s ‘done’ European river cruise, why not suggest a US river cruise? In terms of safety, they are rolling out the vaccine programme in the US at a similar percentage rate as the UK. It is very different – historically, culturally, in terms of dining and, of course, it’s always English language. The Lower Mississippi is the most popular with first time US cruisers and it’s a joy to package with other US attractions either end. It’s higher value, so there’s great commission to be made too!

6. Agents who know their product tend to earn more commission as they know how to upsell – one agent started off with an enquiry for an eight-day Lower Mississippi cruise and ended up selling the Mighty Mississippi – an epic 23-day cruise (now also available with a 16-day option) sailing from New Orleans to Minneapolis – worth £29,000!

7. In order to know the product, sign up to all the river cruise training sessions offered by the operators. Light Blue Travel is about to launch its 2021/22 accredited training modules with multiple choice questions, pre-recorded webinars, video onboard tours and much more. And when we can travel again keep asking about fam trips – they will restart!

8. To make up for missing a year, 2021/22 is tipped for booking the BIG holiday – be sure to offer upgraded options, as an alternative to the standard cabins and economy flights – there are bound to be great upgrade deals.

9. Younger customers? Don’t discount cruise, the demographic is getting younger, thanks to programmes like Cruising with Jane McDonald. River cruising has a laid-back but sophisticated vibe.

10. And the final selling tip – when confronted by a customer who dismisses ocean cruise because they get seasick, tell them there’s no sea sickness on rivers!

Video: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Click play to watch in full
Jules Verne’s famous novel Around the World in 80 Days will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2023, and guests can join Fred Olsen as they set out to repeat the feat. Across 80 days, Borealis will guide guests on an epic circumnavigation of the globe – via Africa, Asia and the Americas – encountering many of the places that Phileas Fogg and his companion Passepartout travelled through.

Promotion: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

News

P&O plots ‘staycation’ cruises…

Iona

However, cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura cancelled until the end of August and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September


P&O Cruises will offer a series of short break and week-long UK cruises this summer, which go on sale this month.

However, the line also announced that cruises on ArcadiaAuroraAzura and Ventura have been cancelled until the end of August and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Following recent Government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end. Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.

“While holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.

“These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine. More details of dates, prices and the experience on board will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence.

“We hope that the UK ‘ultimate escape’ staycation option will have wide appeal and we will do our utmost to make it a very special time. There really will be something for everyone and the opportunity to spend precious and much longed-for time with family and friends.

“In order to offer these UK breaks it does mean that, unfortunately, we need to cancel some of our current published programme of holidays this summer.

“We remain in very close contact with the UK government and associated bodies as we monitor the latest situation and guidance on travel. From the moment we see travel restrictions lifting we will begin the significant logistical task to restart our operations. It will take some time for the first ship to return to service, followed by the phased return of the remaining fleet. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back on board with the protection of effective protocols to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all crew and guests.

“I really am so sorry for the disappointment these cancellations will cause, but hope that the new UK cruises will enable everyone to enjoy a wonderful holiday this summer.”

All guests whose cruises have been cancelled will automatically receive a future cruise credit (FCC) worth 125 per cent of what they paid. This 125 per cent FCC can be redeemed against any new booking made by the end of December 2021, on any cruise on sale at the time of booking.

Alternatively, a 100 per cent refund is available through the form on pocruises.com and may be requested until December 2021.

News

…as Princess follows in its wake

Sky Princess

Regal Princess and Sky Princess ex-UK cruises cancelled until September, but short UK cruises to go on sale in their place later this month


Princess Cruises will launch a series of short UK cruises departing in late summer, which go on sale later this month.

Following in the wake of sister company P&O, which has announced ‘staycation’ cruises this summer, Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer short breaks and week-long holidays sailing from Southampton to UK guests. The shift to UK-focused cruises does mean that original ex-UK sailings on these ships, as well as on board Island Princess, have been cancelled until September 25.

Thanks to the line’s MedallionClass experience and OceanMedallion wearable device, guests will enjoy ‘Truly Touchless’ experiences that are in line with current health guidance. The technology allows for more streamlined check-in, simplified safety training, reductions in queuing and the ability to order food and drink to anywhere on the ship.

Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK & Europe, said: “Recent announcements from the UK government on the roadmap to the end of lockdown has given us all optimism that we will be able to have a summer break.

“When restrictions are lifted, it is clear that holidays in the UK will be the first to restart before the gradual return of international travel. We are eager to welcome our guests back on board as soon as it is safe to do so. By offering a series of short UK breaks, we can provide guests with a relaxed holiday at sea so they can enjoy a much-needed getaway.

“In order to offer these new cruises, we have unfortunately had to cancel our current ex-UK programme until late September. We share in the disappointment over these cancelled cruises and we appreciate the continued patience from our loyal guests and travel agents.”

Princess will offer to move guests booked on a cancelled voyage to the equivalent cruise in 2022. Alternatively, guests can choose a future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100 per cent of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to ten per cent of the cruise fare paid (minimum £25) or a full refund to the original form of payment. Where there is no matched cruise available in 2022, guests will automatically receive a refundable FCC, or they can request a full refund.

Requests must be received through this online form by April 15, 2021 or guests will automatically receive the FCC option. FCCs can be used on any cruises booked by and sailing by December 31, 2022.

For agents, Princess will transfer the commission earned from the cancelled 2021 cruise to the new booking in 2022.

Roberts added: “We are extremely appreciative of the unwavering support from our trade partners and would like to thank them for their continued understanding and cooperation.

“As we prepare our ships for our return to service, we remain in close contact with Clia, the UK government and associated bodies to monitor the latest travel guidance. More details of dates, itineraries and prices for the new UK cruises will be announced later this month. We look forward to welcoming our guests back on board to create summertime memories in a safe and relaxed environment.”

Through Princess Cruises’ ‘Book with Confidence’ policy, for bookings made by April 30, 2021, guests can cancel up to 30 days prior to sailing for voyages departing through October 31, 2021, and receive cancellation fees back as an FCC.

Promotion

Emerald Cruises’ 2022 European Collection

City stays, rare horticultural activities and mini-break itineraries on offer


From a once-in-a-decade chance to explore Amsterdam’s magnificent Floriade Horticulture Expo to sailings through some of Europe’s breathtaking countryside, Emerald Cruises’ 2022 river programme offers ideal itineraries for those looking ahead and planning their dream holiday.

Its new 2022 European River Cruise brochure is now available to download from TradeGate, highlighting all that’s new for 2022, such as an extended city stay in Amsterdam on a range of Rhine itineraries and the chance to now book five-day Christmas market cruises on the Rhine, Danube and Rhône rivers.

What’s more, book a 2022 river cruise through Europe before March 31, 2021 and your customers can enjoy generous savings of up to £1,200 per couple and a free Premium Drinks Package, entitling guests to unlimited onboard drinks. Plus, when booking a balcony suite and choosing to pay the holiday balance in full 12 months before departure, guests can save an extra ten per cent with the Super Earlybird limited-time offer. To provide additional peace of mind when booking, Emerald Cruises is offering a Complimentary Deposit Protection Plan valued at £100, plus the reassurance of a Flexible Booking Policy.

Extend your cruise with a selection of city stays
For those who want to explore independently and immerse themselves further in incredible European cities, Emerald Cruises’ city stays are an ideal choice to add on to an itinerary. They include two-night stays in Berlin, Prague, Paris, Madrid and now, new to 2022, Amsterdam.

On a selection of itineraries on the Rhine, extend the trip with two nights in a centrally located hotel in the heart of Amsterdam, just a short walk away from the city’s artistic heritage, picturesque canals and modern art museums. Guests will enjoy breakfast daily and transfers to and from the airport. Book the 13-day Jewels of the Rhine with Amsterdam itinerary from £2,345 per person (departing October 23, 2022) on the Emerald Dawn Star-Ship, saving £1,200 per couple, or take advantage of an extra ten per cent Super Earlybird saving and stay in a balcony suite from £2,775 per person.

Visit the once-in-a-decade Floriade Horticulture Expo
Emerald Cruises’ DiscoverMORE optional excursions enable guests to see and do even more on their trip and present opportunities to feel closer to the history and culture of a destination. In 2022, guests will have the chance to visit the Floriade Horticulture Expo, which takes place every ten years between April and October. It’s set in an extraordinary park in Amsterdam, where the Dutch horticulture industry presents its latest trends and developments to the rest of the world, making it an ideal destination for garden and horticulture lovers.

Guests can experience the 40 inspiring country presentations, a spectacular greenhouse complex, a cable car over the Floriade park, pavilions with sustainable innovations and a vibrant arts and culture programme. To experience the once-in-a-decade Floriade Horticulture Expo, book the ten-day Springtime Delights river cruise from £2,445 per person (departing April 11, 2022) on the Emerald Luna Star-Ship, saving £1,200 per couple, or take advantage of an extra ten per cent Super Earlybird saving and stay in a balcony suite from £3,015 per person.

Five-day Christmas market cruises
Emerald Cruises has increased its portfolio of Christmas market river cruises in 2022 to now offer five-day cruises – perfect for those looking for a short Christmastime getaway. It includes itineraries on the Danube, Rhine and even the Rhône. On the five-day Christmas in Southern France river cruise, journey from Avignon and enjoy the many festive celebrations that take place in the city, such as carol singing, parades and folk dances. In Tarascon, visit a traditional olive mill and explore the twinkling Christmas markets of Arles. This mini itinerary takes guests on a festive journey through medieval southern France, feasting on traditional fayre and witnessing Christmas in true provincial style. Prices start from £1,595 (departing December 14, 2022) on the Emerald Liberté Star-Ship, saving £1,200 per couple, or take advantage of an extra ten per cent Super Earlybird saving and stay in a balcony suite from £1,714 per person.

All prices include return flights or the option to travel via Eurostar and rail, transfers, the cruises as stated above, all tipping and gratuities, and all on-board meals, as well as included excursions and experiences with knowledgeable local guides.

To provide guests with maximum flexibility, all bookings are covered within Emerald Cruises’ flexible Booking Policy, meaning guests can change their booking up to 60 days prior to departure without any fees. Emerald Cruises’ dedicated Health & Safety Steering Committee oversees all health and safety policies, going above and beyond to ensure the well-being and safety of all guests is taken care of to the highest standard. For more information, please read Emerald Cruises’ Cruise with Confidence policy.

For more information or to book please visit emeraldcruises.co.uk, call 0808 115 0469 or speak with your local sales manager

About Emerald Cruises
Emerald Cruises (emeraldcruises.co.uk) river cruising – the multi-award-winning riving cruising company, operates nine Star-Ships, eight sailing in Europe and one sailing in Southeast Asia. It also hosts two chartered river ships in Russia and Egypt. Emerald Cruises’ luxury yacht cruising hosts guests on the Adriatic Sea, the Red Sea and along the Mediterranean on board Emerald Azzurra.

Emerald Cruises is including a flexible booking policy which allows guests to defer travel and transfer to an alternate departure or itinerary up to 60 days prior to travel, with no Scenic Group fee’s (third party fees may apply). Please note, final payment due date will remain as per standard booking conditions, however this flexible policy allows changes to be made up to 60 days prior to travel. Flexible booking policy is not available on our Russia or Egypt cruises.

 

Promotion: Emerald Cruises

Incentives

Seabourn relaunches Early Bonus Savings, plus offers from Silversea, Riviera and

Seabourn has relaunched its Early Bonus Savings promotion, allowing agents to earn commission now during the pause period.
Guests who pay their booking in full by March 31, 2021, will receive an additional 10 per cent saving off the cruise fare. The promotion applies to select voyages that depart on or after July 15, 2021 and includes voyages throughout summer and autumn 2022.
“We chose to extend the Early Bonus Savings offer because guests have reacted so favourably,” said Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn. “We are also motivated to help our travel adviser partners earn much-needed revenue immediately as we pay commission in period for early bonus savings bookings.”
Early Bonus Savings can be combined with other promotions including group rates, solo traveller offers and the Signature Savings Event, featuring benefits such as shipboard credits, suite upgrades and more. Early Bonus Savings is not valid on the World Cruise. A complete listing of the applicable sailings, including terms and conditions, for the Early Bonus Savings promotion can be viewed on the Seabourn website.

Ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea has announced a new referral programme. Sail With Us will give Venetian Society members a £350 saving per suite when they refer a new-to-Silversea guest who books a new voyage. The referred party also gets a £350 saving. Savings of £1,100 and £750 per suite can be enjoyed by both parties when referring guests for World Cruises or Grand Voyages respectively. The offer runs until the end of March.

“We know that our valued Venetian Society members are our greatest ambassadors and that the majority of our most loyal guests regularly refer their friends and family to Silversea,” says Barbara Muckermann, Silversea’s chief marketing officer. “We have launched the Sail With Us referral programme to extend our gratitude to our close-knit community, recognising their trust in our cruise line and rewarding them with savings on voyages to all seven continents. Our Sail With Us promotion makes it possible for our loyal guests to introduce their friends to the unrivalled comfort and elegance of our ships and the amazing destinations to which we sail.”


Riviera Travel has extended two of its guest offers – covering booking flexibility and onboard credit – until the end of March. The offers were originally due to stop at the end of February.
Riviera Travel’s fully flexible booking promise means that customers can change their booking for free up to 45 days before travel on all 2021 holidays. The offer also runs up until June 30 for 2022 holidays. The company will also be offering up to €400 onboard credit on select European river cruises.
Jim Forward, Riviera Travel’s chief commercial officer, said: “We’ve had a particularly positive response from the trade to these offers, so are pleased to be able to extend their availability. With the assurances we have in place, plus the onboard credit offer, now is the time for agents to encourage their customers to look to the future and start planning their ideal holiday on a risk-free basis.”
Riviera’s Holiday Happiness Guaranteed assurance gives guests benefits that include a promise to bring home and fully refund any guest who is on a tour or cruise of eight days or more and is not completely satisfied with their holiday by the second day; a Covid-19 cancellation policy, which allows guests to transfer their holiday free of charge to a later date, if they have to cancel due to the pandemic; Covid-19 curtailment protection, which automatically compensates any guest who has their holiday cut short as a direct consequence of the pandemic and isn’t covered by their insurance provider.
For more information visit rivieratravel.co.uk or contact your Riviera account manager.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering guests the chance to enhance and extend their holiday by up to six nights in a range of exotic destinations across Africa, Asia, Australia & New Zealand and South America, with their FREE Extended Explorations offer. In total, there are 13 complimentary pre and post-cruise land programmes that can bookend 22 voyages sailing between October 2021 and March 2022 on Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Voyager.

FREE Extended Explorations also offers reduced 10 per cent deposits and is applicable to bookings made between March 1 and 31, 2021. Alternatively, guests who do not wish to take advantage of one, or both, of the free land programmes can opt to receive savings of up to £2,320 per suite. There is a dedicated toolkit for travel partners to access guides and digital assets here.

All travel partners booking any of the FREE Extended Explorations up to March 31, 2021 can enter a prize draw to win one of five luxury Globe-Trotter suitcases. Simply register your booking at RSSC.com/FREE-Extended-Explorations-Globe-Trotter-Contest

“With massive pent-up demand for the ultra-luxury cruise experience we have no doubt that Regent guests will want to extend their travel in some of the most exotic destinations in the world, at no extra cost,” said Graham Sadler, senior vice president and managing director, EMEA, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “I strongly encourage all of our Travel Partners to utilise the dedicated FREE Extended Explorations toolkit to take advantage of this incredible opportunity and to also enter the prize draw to win one of these stunning Globe-Trotter suitcases.”

For more information, please visit RSSC.com/agent or call 023 8068 2280.

Interview

Paul Melinis, MD UK & Europe, APT

The boss of the luxury touring specialists and sister brand Travelmarvel says they’re ready to return and “we’ve already started filling those ships”


In the UK, APT operates its five-star eponymous product, as well as Travelmarvel, which is four stars and offers a more relaxed atmosphere on board. All being well, the latter will be sailing from August to the end of November. Cruise Adviser spoke to Paul Melinis, MD UK & Europe about European cruises in 2021 and the return of long-haul in 2022.

Cruise Adviser: APT is perhaps best known for its long-haul itineraries, but with short-haul likely to open sooner, is there a renewed focus on Europe?
Paul Melinis: “We’re the number one river cruise specialists going into the Mekong; we sell more cabins to the Mekong than anybody else, and we also operate in Myanmar and do a little bit in China on the Yangtze. But Europe is a big focus for us. So, it’s not a renewed focus, it’s a focus that has been there, and continues to be. We sell longer trips – the majority of UK operators sell seven-night cruises, but the majority of ours are 14 nights, because, as an Australian company, we obviously have to serve the Australian guests, and they’re not going to just come to Europe for seven nights. That said, we do also operate seven-night cruises, so we’ve got a mixture that we specialise in.”

When do you expect to be sailing?
“We will operate a programme in August, if we can, to the end of November. It is going to be UK guests only, because obviously no Australians can travel. I can tell you that we’ve already started filling those ships and I think it is going to be a two-pronged attack. What I mean by that is that the majority of people booked to travel with us in Q2 will move to Q3, which is your best-of-August class. And then there’ll be a time when people will be vaccinated and there’s so much pent-up demand for travel it will become a late booker’s market. And then [operators] will be scrambling around saying, ‘Should I put a ship on the river?’ It’s like a chess game at the moment, people are waiting to make the first move. But we’ve made the move, and we’re travelling if borders allow it; if we can offer the same experience that our guests know and want, then we will operate.”

River quietly got back up and running last summer when the majority of cruise couldn’t operate. That puts it in good stead.
“We’re not really comparable to ocean cruise lines; they’re a lot bigger and so their protocols are going to be a lot different, and most worldwide cruises float into a lot of ports. Sure, we cross a lot of countries so there’ll be a many border restrictions, but I think you know with ships carrying 160 guests, it’s a lot easier to get your protocols and everything correct. You’re more nimble; you can make changes quickly on the ground. Our guests are 55-plus, so the majority of those will have been vaccinated hopefully by the end of May, then will be ready to go. And you know we’ve seen the difference in [attitudes] once people get a vaccination – they want to travel, they want to take a holiday this year. We all want to take all a holiday this year, it’s just being able to do it safely and in a way that we are used to. But, you know, it’s going to be an ever-changing scenario and we’re just going to have to get used to some rules. I can’t see masks going away any time soon; I can’t see social distancing being abolished. Even with the vaccine, the virus is here to stay, so it’s just how we deal with it.”

Are you looking at formalising a vaccination policy?
“I don’t think you can force anybody to have a vaccination, everyone’s got their own views on it. I think we take it day by day and see what the government asks us to do, and we’ll follow the guidelines. If they say that everyone must be vaccinated before getting on board, then we’re going to follow that. It’s just more of a ‘watch it and see’ exercise. One thing that we will guarantee is safety and security. It’s absolutely the heartbeat of what we’re going to do.”

How have you been keeping in touch with travel agents during the pandemic?
“That’s been a new experience for us! The trade continues to be just over 75 per cent of our business, so we’ve spent a lot of time and effort working with trade. We’ve got a team of business development managers, and our national sales manager, Jess [Shelton-Agar], speaks to the trade on a regular basis. We’ve been there for every agent; they’ve done a fantastic job, because it has been very difficult. You can imagine the number of changes they have had to make. We’re talking about river cruise, but these guys are selling across the board, and across the world – so it’s been a lot harder for them.

“We’ve worked very closely with them to make sure that all of our APT guests have been looked after, to a point of working with some partners, where we’ve said, ‘Look, we know that you’re super busy, we know you’ve got tons of incoming calls, we know that most of your staff are on furlough and some are down to a one and two-person show, so what we’ll do is go above and beyond’. So I brought a lot of the staff back, we upped our reservations, numbers and we started calling APT guests on behalf of travel partners for a while just to share the load. And that proved very successful. It shows  how strong our partnerships are, because we are actually calling their clients that are booked through us, but on behalf of them. So, we got the messaging right, and they were happy with it and we found that very successful. Our move-over rate was nearly 80 per cent, which was fantastic. We weren’t expecting anywhere near that – in a world today where a refund is widely available and anybody who wants a refund must be paid a refund, we managed to save that money, which was very, very good.”

How was your wave period?
“We knew it was never going to be a normal January, but we went out and ran a small campaign with a selection of partners. I was actually surprised at the results. We had targeted a certain number of new bookings and, although we didn’t get the same amount as we normally do – that was never going to be the case – I was quietly pleased and surprised how many new bookings we had. The majority now are looking at 2022. We started out with Europe because we saw that Europe is going to be the place that everybody wants to go. Europe is very close to home, and you know it’s not that long a flight, so people will be OK with masks. Then we launched Asia, and Asia outperformed Europe in some weeks, which was incredible. So, people are thinking about Asia in Q1 in 2022.”

It’s really interesting to hear that long-haul might return sooner than expected.
“Yes, I’m surprised. We did not predict that it would come back like it did. Asia will always be on the long-haul dream map and I think Asia has done a really good job [of handling the pandemic]. If you look at the numbers in Cambodia, for example, you’ll be shocked. So, I think that they’re going to be up and running quicker than we think.”

One of Cunard’s signature travel offerings is its World Voyage – an in-depth exploration of the globe. Cunard made history when, in 1923, Laconia became the first cruise ship to complete a global circumnavigation, and in 2023 it plans to mark the centenary of this milestone with a series of new adventures on board its fleet.

Promotion

Celebrating a century of pioneering world travel

From spellbinding journeys through Japan to vibrant explorations of Jordan, Vietnam and Namibia, when it comes to destinations with a difference, Cunard always delivers.

Its action-packed itineraries offer something for every type of traveller, from Transatlantic Crossings between Southampton and New York to sun-soaked adventures in the South Pacific, Central America and the Caribbean. If your customers have ever dreamt of visiting the Whitsunday Islands, sailing the Panama Canal or navigating New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, Cunard can take them there.

One of Cunard’s signature travel offerings is its World Voyage – an in-depth exploration of the globe. Cunard made history when, in 1923, Laconia became the first cruise ship to complete a global circumnavigation, and in 2023 it plans to mark the centenary of this milestone with a series of new adventures on board its fleet.

These voyages, on sale now, offer the chance to cruise Asia, Central America, Australia and New Zealand, plus South Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean. While each voyage promises discovery mixed with relaxation, circumnavigations of Japan and Australia, coupled with two Centenary World Voyages, are undoubted highlights of the itineraries on offer.

Earn Shine points when booking Cunard’s new 2023 voyages.

Cunard’s Shine Rewards Club has a host of supporting materials and assets for your own marketing, from guides to build your own web banners to ready-made window cards. And as they launch its new voyages they’re also offering more ways for you to earn Shine points, whether through making a booking, joining its training webinars or testing your knowledge. For more information, visit shinerewardsclub.com

For the Centenary World Voyages, your customers can choose between a 101-night sailing on board Queen Victoria, and a 102-night voyage on Cunard’s flagship liner, Queen Mary 2. Both cruises depart from Southampton and call at ports visited by Cunard on its first ever global circumnavigation – Cabo San Lucas, Colombo and San Francisco among them.

Queen Victoria’s Centenary World Voyage will offer time ashore in 20 countries and 26 ports, with Aruba, Tonga, Jordan and Mexico just a hint of the magical destinations in its itinerary. The ship will transit the Panama Canal, giving customers a front-row view of the dense jungle lining the banks of this iconic waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It will also make overnight port calls in some of the world’s most legendary cities – New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore; all of them destinations that truly come to life after dark.

Not to be outdone, Queen Mary 2’s Centenary World Voyage is full of equally unmissable moments. Like its sister ship, Queen Mary 2 will travel to ports featured in Cunard’s inaugural global sailing, calling at some of the world’s oldest and youngest cities. The voyage takes in myriad Unesco sites, from the colourful Moorish palaces of Sintra to Egypt’s ancient city of Thebes and Oman’s Bahla Fort. There’s also the chance to explore the Sacred City of Kandy in Sri Lanka and a transit of the Suez Canal.

Cunard’s third ship, Queen Elizabeth, will be based in Australian and Japanese waters for its 2022–2023 Centenary World Voyage celebrations. It will make full circumnavigations in both regions, offering time ashore in Arlie Beach, Melbourne and Port Douglas, along with Tokyo (from Yokohama), Kochi and Otaru. Queen Elizabeth will make a maiden call for Cunard’s fleet in Vladivostok, where the mix of Russian and Asian culture makes for a captivating visit.

There’s a Cunard World Club member saving of five per cent on the cruise-only Cunard Fare when booking before June 1, 2021. Remember, your customers only need to have sailed once with Cunard to become a Cunard World Club member.

Visit shinerewardsclub.com for more information

News

Cancellations

From river to ocean, small-ship to mega-vessels, this is our comprehensive list of cruise line cancellation policies and suspension dates

A-Rosa

A-Rosa River Cruises has suspended all Rhine and Danube sailings suspended up to March 28. Sailings in France and on the Douro in Portugal are suspended until further notice.

AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways has suspended sailings until April 30.

They are automatically issuing a future cruise credit equal to 115 per cent of the value of the funds received for all purchased services through AmaWaterways, redeemable on any AmaWaterways river cruise in Europe, Asia, or Africa (including Egypt) up to December 31, 2023. These FCCs are transferrable at any time prior to December 31, 2023 with the original owner’s written authorisation.

APT Touring

APT Touring has suspended all tours and cruises until April 30.

 

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways has suspended cruises until April 30.

All 2021 and 2022 bookings come with their Peace of Mind Travel Plan, which gives guests the ability to move their booking to another destination, brand or date until 2023.

Azamara

Azamara has cancelled all sailings until June 30.

In January, Royal Caribbean Group announced it was selling the Azamara brand to Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has suspended cruises in North America until May 31.

Carnival Miracle cruises from San Diego and San Francisco are suspended until further notice.

Voyages aboard Carnival Liberty (September 17-October 18) and Carnival Sunshine (October 11-November 13) are cancelled to accommodate drydock work.

Carnival Magic, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Valor and Carnival Victory/Radiance won’t return to service until November.

The launch date for Mardi Gras has been put back to May 29.

European itineraries for Carnival Legend have been cancelled until October 31.

All Australian cruises on Carnival Splendor and Carnival Spirit have been cancelled until June 28 and September 12, respectively.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has cancelled all sailings until April 30, including the May 1 transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Apex.

All cruises in Asia, Australia and New Zealand are cancelled for the entire 2020-2021 cruise season, while South America sailings are also cancelled until April 7.

All May to October Europe and transatlantic cruises on Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Constellation are also suspended.

Celestyal Cruises

Celestyal Cruises has suspended all cruises until April 24.

CroisiEurope

CroisiEurope are due to resume ocean cruises in early March; river cruises in late March.

Crystal

Crystal has cancelled all ocean, river and yacht sailings until the end of 2020. Sailings on Crystal Serenity and all river cruise itineraries are cancelled until May; Crystal Symphony until June; Crystal Esprit and Crystal Endeavor until August.

Crystal is providing all affected guests with credits equal to 125 per cent of the cruise fare paid on fully-paid reservations – along with a refund of port charges, taxes and fees paid, and any air and hotel packages booked through Crystal. For guests who have not fully paid, the credit will then be based on the deposited amount. Credits are valid on any Crystal experience (ocean, river, yacht or expedition) embarking through December 31, 2023.

For river sailings, guests can move their current 2020 reservation, including all payments made, to an equivalent sailing during the same time period in 2021, with price protection on the cruise fare and port charges – representing a significant value for them. If a guest chooses not to rollover their cruise to a 2021 river sailing, they may transfer their reservation to any Crystal experience (ocean, river, yacht or expedition) embarking up to December 31, 2023 at prevailing rates. All monies paid will be transferred to the new reservation.

Cunard

Cunard has suspended operations until June 4 for Queen Elizabeth; May 28 for Queen Mary 2 and May 16 for Queen Victoria.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line has cancelled all sailings until the end of May.

Disney Magic sailings are suspended until August 10. Alaska sailings aboard Disney Wonder departing after May 31 are “under evaluation”.

Emerald Waterways/Scenic

The Scenic Group, including Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises has suspended all itineraries until May 31.

The Scenic Group is offering booked guests a flexible future travel credit (FTC) valued at 110 per cent of monies deposited on any affected river and cruise booking and 100 per cent of monies deposited on any affected land tours. Guests will be offered a FTC that can be applied to any new or existing booking across the portfolio of brands through to June 30, 2023. The FTC is fully transferrable to another guest. Should a guest be unable to travel by June 30, 2023, they will be given a refund.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has suspended cruises on Balmoral, Bolette and Borealis until July 1; Braemar until spring 2022.

The line has cancelled its entire 2021 river cruise season aboard Brabant in order to focus on its oceangoing operations.

G Adventures

G Adventures has suspended all cruises until April 30, 2021, including the 2020-2021 Antarctic season aboard Expedition.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line has cancelled all cruises until June 30.

This will impact cruises departing in May and June on Nieuw Statendam, Volendam and Westerdam, along with the Collectors’ Voyages associated with those cancelled cruises.

Guests currently booked on the cancelled Europe departures will be able to rebook on an equivalent cruise in 2022 at the 2021 fare – with all cash and future cruise credit (FCC) funds moved to the new booking.

If guests decide not to accept a cruise booking in 2022 by April 15, 2021, they automatically default to receive a FCC of 110 per cent of any cash paid on the booking. Guests will retain any other FCC used for the cancelled 2021 booking with all FCC amounts moved to their loyalty account for use on a future cruise booking. FCC is valid for sailings departing until December 31, 2022. For all bookings in 2022, standard cancellation policies apply. A 100 per cent refund is also available.

Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten expanded its Norwegian coastal sailings to five vessels in January to serve local and freight traffic for residents of Norway.

Expedition voyages are cancelled until May, while voyages aboard MS Roald Amundsen are cancelled until July.

 

Marella Cruises

Marella Cruises has cancelled all European sailings until May 16.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises has suspended cruise operations until May 31 for its Caribbean voyages from North America aboard MSC Divina, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia and MSC Orchestra in South Africa until November.

The line restarted limited Mediterranean cruises aboard MSC Grandiosa on January 24Sailings in Greece aboard MSC Magnifica are now paused until April 29.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has suspended operations until the end of May 2021, with a planned restart date of June 1.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises has cancelled all cruises until May 31.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises has cancelled all international cruises until September. It is scheduled to restart domestic UK cruises in April.

Guests with a holiday affected will automatically receive a 125 per cent future cruise credit (FCC). FCCs may be used for any sailing up to the end of March 2022.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin Cruises has suspended sailings until June 5.

Ponant

Ponant has suspended all cruises up to April 2021.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has cancelled cruise holidays sailing the Caribbean, California Coast, Mexico and Mediterranean until June 30.

The  affects the following voyages: Caribbean Princess (seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises); Enchanted Princess (seven-night Mediterranean & Adriatic, seven-night Western Mediterranean, and 14-night Western Mediterranean & Adriatic Medley); Ruby Princess (seven-night Classic California Coast, seven-night Mexican Riviera, and five-night Cabo San Lucas Getaway sailings).

For guests booked on a cancelled voyage, Princess will offer to move guests to the equivalent cruise in 2022. The rebooking process will have the added benefit of protecting the guests’ 2021 fare on their 2022 voyage. Alternatively, guests can choose a future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100 per cent of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 10 per cent of the cruise fare paid (minimum £25 or a full refund to the original form of payment).

For guests currently booked on a cancelled voyage where there is no matched cruise available in 2022, guests will automatically receive a refundable future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100 per cent of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 10 per cent of the cruise fare paid (minimum £25). Alternatively, guests can request a full refund to the original form of payment.

FCCs can be used on any cruises booked by and sailing by December 31, 2022.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has suspended its global cruise operations until May 31.

Riviera Travel

Riviera Travel has cancelled all cruises until May 17.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled all sailings until April 30, excluding sailings from Singapore on Quantum of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas from China.

Saga

Saga has cancelled all cruises on Spirit of Discovery until June 27 and the new Spirit of Adventure until July 26.

Seabourn

Seabourn has paused global operations, with Seabourn Encore cancelled until May 28; Seabourn Quest until November 6 for voyages longer than seven days and calling at a US port; Seabourn Sojourn until May 24, including the 2021 World Cruise; Seabourn Odyssey until November 5, apart from seven-day Alaska/British Columbia and Pacific Coast sailings; all 2021 Alaska sailings on  Seabourn Ovation are cancelled.

In addition, the line has announced a further delay to its new purpose-built expedition vessel, Seabourn Venture, until December.

Silversea

Silversea has suspended sailings until the following dates: Silver Cloud (May 5); Silver Wind (November 20); Silver Shadow (May 15); Silver Spirit (May 5); Silver Muse (May 20); Silver Whisper (June 20); Silver Explorer (May 28); Silver Moon (May 4); Silver Dawn (November 9); Silver Origin (May 1).

Titan

Titan has suspended all tour and cruise departures until April 30.

Uniworld

Uniworld has suspended all river cruises until April 2021.

Viking Cruises

Viking has suspended all ocean and river cruises until May 31, 2021.

For passengers booked on one of the canceled sailings, Viking is offering future cruise credit of 125 per cent of the fare paid, or a refund equal to the amount paid. Passengers have 24 months to use their FCC. If passengers opting for FCC are then unable to use their voucher, Viking will automatically send a refund equal to the original amount paid.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages has postponed the inaugural season of its first ship Scarlet Lady until June 30 and for its second ship, Valiant Lady, until November 14.

Those booked on a cruise that has been cancelled can opt for 200 per cent in future cruise credit (FCC) which can be applied to another sailing, up to $500 in onboard credit, or 100 per cent refund, plus 25 per cent FCC on the value paid to use for a future booking. Bookings made prior to December 10, 2021 for sailings in 2021 and 2022 will be eligible for cancellation up to 48 hours in advance, with a full credit given.

Windstar

Windstar has suspended all cruise operations. Wind Spirit will resume sailing on June 10; Star Breeze (June 19); Wind Star (June 19); Wind Surf (June 29); Star Legend (July 4); Star Pride (July 14).

Guests on cancelled cruises receive the choice of a future cruise credit valued at 125 per cent of all monies paid to Windstar Cruises or a refund equal to the amount paid on the Windstar booking. Guests have 24 months to book and embark on any available Windstar cruise using their future cruise credit. In addition, Windstar has launched a new Travel Assurance Booking Policy, which is applicable to new and existing cruises departing until December 31, 2021. Travellers who cancel a cruise booking up to 15 days prior to departure will receive a 100 per cent future cruise credit to be used on another Windstar departure within one year of the issue date of the credit. The offer is for cruise fares only.

Promotion

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines: From here to anywhere

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is renowned for offering enriching and immersive itineraries, and this week it is unveiling a brand new programme of cruising for 2022 and beyond. The launch of the new schedule is always a cause for celebration for cruise lovers, but this year it feels even more so, as people dream of their holidays for the next year.

The programme includes closer-to-home excursions around the British Isles and shorter, five-night breaks for those wanting to dip their toe back into the travelling world. Of course, there are also many sailings for those looking to venture farther afield and explore our wonderful world once again, including an 80-day circumnavigation for the real adventurers.

Cruises closer to home
A big part of travel for 2022 will be making the most of our beautiful British Isles, and Fred Olsen is celebrating the very best of the landscapes, coastlines and landmarks that can best be enjoyed from the water. In addition, each cruise has been handcrafted to showcase some wonderful scenic cruising, which is considered just as important as the destinations themselves.

On northerly sailings, witness the towering columns of Fingal’s Cave and Duart Castle. Visit Skara Brae – home to Neolithic structures pre-dating Egypt’s pyramids – in calls to Kirkwall, and be on the lookout for puffins, ponies and fulmars in Lerwick. Or, venture south to delight in views of the Fal estuary and the Lizard Peninsula, and explore the famous Eden Project and 16th century Pendennis Castle in sailings to Devon and Cornwall, plus walk the Isles of Scilly’s magnificent sandy beaches.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Shorter discoveries
For those looking to set sail on a shorter cruise, there are plenty on offer, each with the opportunity to experience all that is great about cruising, from time ashore to sea days packed with entertainment on board, and scenic cruising aplenty.

Of course, the smaller size of Fred Olsen’s ships really come into their own in the Norwegian fjords, and the northerly departure ports of Newcastle and Rosyth in Edinburgh are ideally placed to showcase them at their best in just five nights. Aboard these small ships you will sail size-restricted waters, away from the well-sailed routes, right into the heart of the fjords.

But the shorter escapes are not just bound to Norway, with sailings to Belgium, France, Denmark and Spain available in six nights or fewer right across the fleet.

Reconnect with the world
Those looking to venture farther afield can revel in the autumnal beauty of America and Canada, with Balmoral to depart on a 34-night adventure in September 2023. Explorations of the Adriatic’s many treasures await on a 27-night sailing aboard Braemar in October 2022, with opportunities to walk inside the walled cities of Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia and witness many natural and man-made marvels, from the Skradinski Buk Waterfall to the canals of Venice and Chioggia.

Or for a truly remote sailing, join Balmoral for a 15-night journey to Spitsbergen in June 2022 to sail along Norway’s west coast, past glaciers and rugged mountains and into narrow fjords on a cruise specially timed to take in the eerie Midnight Sun.

Around the World in 80 Days
For the true adventurers, there is the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, with new ship Borealis to set sail on an ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ adventure in February 2023, with departures from Southampton or Liverpool. The cruise, timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the novel, will call into many of the ports visited by Fogg, including Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and San Francisco. But there will also be opportunities for tales of new adventures to be made, with a visit into Safaga coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun; chances to explore the bustling metropolises of Singapore and San Diego; opportunities to visit the Taj Mahal; and calls into Japan timed specially to capture the beautiful cherry blossom in bloom. It will also include a maiden call into Hakata, Japan.

New ports
Fred Olsen prides itself in adding more and more destinations to its programme every year, and 2022/23 is certainly no exception. Borealis’ ‘Rugged and Rural Canada’ sailing in August 2022 will call into Louisbourg for the first time; with maiden sailings to Bandol in France, Neum in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Progreso in Mexico, Liepāja in Latvia, and Kalvåg and Lyngdal in Norway also on offer.

Solo guest and Balmoral Eskifjörður, Iceland

Even more regional departure ports
With the addition of Tilbury and Belfast, following on from the introduction of Portsmouth this year, there will be even more departure ports to choose from for 2022 and 2023. It means sailings will be available from eight UK ports, with Newcastle, Liverpool, Rosyth in Edinburgh, Southampton and Dover also on the cards. These additions mean guests are always within a few hours’ reach of a port, meaning they never have far to travel to their next Fred Olsen holiday.

New ships
This will be the first full season to be sailed with new arrivals Bolette and Borealis among the fleet. The new ships, purchased by Fred Olsen in July 2020, bring a number of new and exciting facilities, including an all-weather pool with a retractable roof; grand, two-tier theatres; culinary demonstration theatres and wine tasting venues; additional dining venues; and more space throughout the ships, meaning more space per guest while on board.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Oceans members will have a sneak peek of its 2022/23 programme from March 10, 2021, ahead of its general release on March 15.

Plus, those who book one of the new cruises will be able to enjoy a choice between a free all-inclusive drinks package or credit to spend on board.

For added reassurance, Fred Olsen has evolved its Plain Sailing Guarantee, giving flexibility to transfer any deposits paid to another cruise at any time before the final payment is made.

For more information, visit fredolsencruises.com/agent  

Feature

Five river cruise destinations we can’t wait to return to

Porto

By Sam Ballard

With its brightly coloured townhouses perched alongside the deep blue of the Douro River, it’s little wonder that interest in Porto has rocketed for cruise passengers.

According to statistics released by Clia, UK passenger numbers grew by 15 per cent on Douro cruises in 2018 alone, bolstered by a number of new ship launches.

To those who know the city, it will come as no surprise. Porto, which sits at the mouth of the Portuguese river, is a city of cobbled streets, pretty churches and tiled facades. It’s a place where you can eat very well for not very much money – try the pastéis de nata (custard tarts) or bifana (traditional pork sandwich), which can be picked up at little hole in the wall type joints. Wash it down with a glass of the city’s most famous export, port, in one of Porto’s many atmospheric wine cellars.

Fans of interiors should take a pilgrimage to the Church of St Ildefonso which shows off the talents of the city’s tilemakers. Although the city’s train station, São Bento, is arguably more impressive – with a vast wall of about 20,000 tiles really highlighting the incredible craftsmanship.

Clients who want Instagram-worthy photos won’t miss out, either. Send them to Livraria Lello – a bookshop that is said to have inspired JK Rowling, who lived in the city in the ’90s. Although popular with tourists, it really does feel like you’ve stepped into Hogwarts. Read more here.

Vienna

By Anthony Pearce

With its plentiful art and culture, manicured parks, efficient public transport and mix of old and new architecture, Vienna is a one of Europe’s most remarkable cities: grand, elegant, clean and easy-going. Although Budapest, with its iconic Chain Bridge and elevated palace, is perhaps the highlight of any Danube cruise, the Austrian capital is a special place, home to monumental baroque masterpieces and striking examples of new architecture.

Either preceding or following Austria’s remarkable, sun-kissed Wachau Valley, depending on the direction of travel, Vienna is a city worth exploring in depth. As itineraries don’t tend to include overnights, many will plan to return – on eastbound itineraries it’s very easy to head back from Budapest, just two hours 40 minutes on the train, and clients can fly home from the well-connected Vienna International Airport, which is served by a number of direct flights from the UK and just 16 minutes from Wien Mitte (the city centre) by train. Vienna is a manageable size with an excellent public transport network, made up of the U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (tram) and Autobus (bus).

Most cruise ships dock at Reichsbrücke. On a recent visit, rather than take a daytime excursion, we opted to explore the city alone and took the U-Bahn from here to Stephansplatz, next to St Stephen’s Cathedral, a towering Gothic wonder. The city still feels like the political and cultural centre of a mighty empire, a position it held for centuries. It is dominated by grand imperial palaces, strictly maintained royal gardens and statues of serious-looking men on horses.

The historic centre, a Unesco World Heritage site, covers three square kilometres, of which 82,000 square metres is pedestrianised, so it’s best enjoyed on foot: most cruise lines will include a walking tour of the city, which takes in most of its famous architecture. There are more than 50 preserved Baroque palaces, churches and landmarks in the city, such as the Schönbrunn and Belvedere palaces (two more popular excursions). The latter is breathtaking and houses one of Austria’s most valuable art collections, with works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. Read more here.

Avignon

By Anthony Pearce

Although best known for its bridge, there is plenty inside the city walls that make Avignon the biggest draw on any Rhône cruise – although Lyon, Arles, Viviers and, well, every call make this such a special itinerary. It’s telling that cruise lines mostly use Avignon on their marketing materials.

The city is actually much bigger than most realise, but of its 90,000 inhabitants, only 12,000 live in the ancient city centre, encircled by the medieval ramparts. During the Avignon Papacy, between 1309 and 1377, seven successive popes resided in Avignon. The influence is still apparent today – Papal control lasted until 1791 when, during the French Revolution, it became part of France – making the Palais des Papes and the cathedral the must-see sights for many visitors.

One of the joys of a Rhône cruise – particularly when paired with a Seine sailing as many, particularly Americans, are wont to do – is taking in the shifting culture and geography of France, a country that is more than twice as large as the UK but with the same population. Avignon is distinctly Mediterranean in feel, due to the Roman architecture, hot weather and fresh food. Provençal cuisine is simple and full of flavour, making good use of fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, saffron, peppers and olives, with herb-crusted fish often on the menu. This being Provence, it’s rude not to enjoy it all with a glass of rosé.

If your guests are there in July, the Avignon Festival, founded in 1947, is a cultural highlight (this years is set to go ahead between July 5 and 25), featuring theatre, dance, music and cinema. About 100,000 people attend the festival each year, dividing their attention between the Festival In, which presents plays inside the Palais des Papes, and the Festival Off, made up of as-yet undiscovered plays and street performances. Read more here.

Moscow

By Sam Ballard

Russia is a land of mystery. Those who have never been know little about it beyond political stories that talk of its bare-chested leader and geopolitical shadow-play. Those who have been, however, know the truth behind the headlines. Russia is a country of beautiful landscapes, fascinating history and some of the friendliest people in the world.

As a cruise destination, Moscow can be found at either the beginning or end of a Russian Waterways sailing, bookended with St Petersburg. These itineraries give passengers an incredible insight into Russian life – with some of the most beautiful churches you will ever see (just Google Kizhi to see what we mean) as well as world famous cultural institutions (St Petersburg’s Hermitage is hard to beat).

A number of river cruise lines have Russian Waterway itineraries, including the likes of Viking, Vodohod, Uniworld, Scenic, Riviera and CroisiEurope operating between Russia’s two biggest cities. Vodohod, the Russian line, runs cruises beyond the Volga, where most Western companies operate, including a Siberian Wilderness itinerary.

Naturally, St Petersburg and Moscow are the two standout ports of call on the most well-known Russian river cruises. The two cities are incredibly different – St Petersburg’s palaces and waterways have the grandeur of Vienna – while Moscow is far more identifiable as Russian. Whether that’s because of Red Square, which contains Lenin’s Mausoleum, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, or because of the ever-present military presence you will find there. There is a changing of the guard every hour by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Kremlin itself is actually a fortress which contains an entire complex of buildings, you’ll find a number of palaces, an armoury and cathedrals inside. The Assumption Cathedral, the most famous, is where tsars of old were crowned since the 15th century. The Grand Kremlin Palace is the official residence of Vladimir Putin, although he actually lives elsewhere within the fortress’s walls. Read more here.

Siem Reap

By Jane Archer

Chances are no one outside Cambodia would ever have heard of the town of Siem Reap were it not for one thing: that it is the gateway to Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Empire some 1,200 years ago and home to a complex of iconic temples – some part-reclaimed by the jungle.

Some 2.5 million people a year visit the temples, making them the biggest visitor attraction in Cambodia and, by default, making Siem Reap the country’s largest tourist destination. As a result, it is well served by local flights feeding from international hubs such as Bangkok and Singapore and has a plentiful supply of hotels to suit all budgets.

Several thousand visitors each year are cruise passengers who are in town as part of a package pairing a few nights in Siem Reap with a voyage along the Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam. A handful will even have come from ocean ships, on overnight tours from port calls in Sihanoukville and Ho Chi Minh City with lines including Silversea and Holland America Line.

Siem Reap is in northwest Cambodia, at the western end of the Tonlé Sap Lake, a large body of water that is home to floating villages and which feeds into the Tonlé Sap River, which then flows into the Mekong near Phnom Penh, the country’s capital.

It means river ships sailing the Mekong could, in theory, cruise all the way to Siem Reap; in practice, CroisiEurope is one of very few companies to do so because, in the dry season, from November to May, the lake is so shallow that even local sightseeing boats can get stuck in the mud (CroisiEurope transfers passengers by either speedboat or coach when the water is too low).