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New River Cruise Ships Coming in 2020

As you may know, the AmaMagna was the IT ship for 2019.  It’s a wonderful ship that sails the Danube River.  I talked a little about this in a podcast last week.  It’s twice the width of the average river ship.  It’s currently sailing on it’s inaugural season and it’s a wonderful ship!

So, what’s new for 2020?

AmaWaterways launched 3 new ships for 2019 including the AmaMagna.  For 2020 they’ll be introducing 1, the AmaSiena in July.  The AmaSiena will sail on the Main, Rhine, and Mosel.  Ama builds their own ships which is not a common practice.  Most river cruise lines lease ships.  Ama builds and owns them so they have all the say in how they want them build.  And they win awards all the time!

Tauck (luxury tour company in operation since 1925, fully all inclusive, and one of the best tour operators and river cruises in the world, these guys do it right).  Tauck is launching a new river ship for the Douro, ms Andorinha.  Very intimate with just 84 guests.  A beautiful ship to sail on Portugal’s river of gold.

Uniworld is going to be super busy in 2020.  They have 4 new ships (well, 3 new and 1 complete renovation).  Uniworld is ultra luxury and has a distinctive interior design that’s classically modern European elegance.

– S.S. La Venezia sails in Italy on the Po River.  This is their former ship, the River Countess.  It’s being completely redone and made into a Super Ship.  Uniworld has been busy refitting some of their older ships.

– S.S. Sao Gabriel will sail on the Douro.  Also intimate with just 84 guests.

– S.S. Sphinx launches on the Nile in Egypt this January 4.

– Mekong Jewel sets sail on the Mekong on January 3.  I did a Mekong river cruise last year and it was one of my favorite trips.  I highly recommend it.

And of course, there’s hardly a year without a new Viking river ship.  Viking has 1 coming in 2020, the Viking Osiris sailing on the Nile.

In the U.S.:

American Queen Steamboat company is introducing the American Countess sailing on the Mississippi.  This is a true paddlewheeler with a classic decor and that brings you back to another time.  It’s not completely new, the hull dates from 1995 but American Queen Steamboat Company is stripping it down to the steel frame, adding a new 60 foot midsection, so it’ll essentially be a new ship.

American Cruise lines has the American Jazz coming in August 2020 and the American Melody soon after.  Both will sail on the Mississippi – contemporary style and modern with a unique opening bow and retractable gangway at the front of the ship.

Feeling a bit more adventurous?  An Amazon River Cruise should be on your bucket list. It’s the wold’s second longest river and more than a third of the world’s animal species live in this vast river basin’s rainforest.

Aqua Expeditions (they sail luxury river cruises and yachts) is introducing the Aqua Nera.  Small ship with no more than 40 guests.  It’s a stunning ship, i’ll link some photos in the show notes.

New Ocean Cruise Ships Coming in 2020

There are several new mega ships coming out next year.  Virgin Voyages (new cruise line started by Sir Richard Branson) has the Scarlet Lady which is the first of 3 ships coming to Virgin, Celebrity has the Apex (not sure how much I like that name), Princess has the Enchanted Princess, Carnival has the Mardi Gras, MSC has Virtuosa, Royal Caribbean has the Odyssey of the Seas.  And there are another handful of new mega ships already slated for 2021.

But what about the smaller ships.

Hurtigruten has a new hybrid expedition ship coming.  This year they introduced the MS Roald Amundsen and a sister ship joins in 2020, the MS Fridtjof Nansen to sail on all corners of the globe including the polar regions.  Both ships are names after 2 heroes of polar expeditions.

 

Regent has the Seven Seas Splendor debuting in February.  With 750 guests it’s not exactly small ship but it’s a super luxurious and beautiful ship.

Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection is launching their new yacht line.  The first of 3 ships start sailing in February, called the Azora.  This yacht is amazing.  Under 300 guests.  World class accommodations and amenities.  Michelin starred chef, marina at the back of the ship.  Helicopter.  It’s not a ship, it’s a yacht!

Ponant is introducing 2 new ships – Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier).  They’ll have 6 new yachts since 2018 so they’ve introduced 2 every year the last few.  Ponant is a French luxury cruise line sailing to all corners of the world including the polar regions.  Their ships are named after French explorers.  Ponant’s unique feature to their ships is a multi-sensorial underwater lounge called the Blue Eye lounge.  Located beneath the water line, here you’ll be able to see and hear the passing marine life.  This is a world’s first and it looks totally amazing.  I’ll include a link to see some photos in the show notes and on my website, upclosetravel.com

Scenic is introducing the Scenic Eclipse II.  The Scenic Eclipse I debuted this year.  Scenic is an ultra-luxury river cruise line sailing all over the world.  They’re new to ocean cruising but the ships look magnificent.  They are a 5-star experience.  So, I have no doubts that their ships will be a huge hit.

Silversea will replace its Galapagos island ship with the new Silver Origin.  This new ship will be environmentally conscious while sailing in this delicate region.  But it is Silversea, so you can expect luxury, all suite, butler service, and the best Ecuadorian inspired cuisine.

Crystal Cruises is launching the Crystal Endeavor.  This is Crystals first expedition ship.

Lindblad is building their first new polar ship in its line’s history.  The National Geographic Endurance is coming in early 2020.  Fully stabilized with the highest ice class (PC5 Category A) of any purpose-built passenger vessel.  This means the Endurance will provide access to more polar environments opening previously unexplored opportunities.

Quark is also building a new ship designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration, the Ultramarine.  2 twin engine helicopters on board, a robust portfolio of adventure activities – the Ultramarine will sail in Antarctica when it launches in 2020.

Viking Ocean has been on a tear building new ships. They’ve built 6 since 2015.  They have none scheduled for 2020 but starting in 2021 they have 12 scheduled over a 6-year period.

These are some amazing ships!

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us anytime at 305-814-8184.

A Magical Holiday Christmas River Cruise

I love the Christmas Holidays.  Once we get to Thanksgiving, I start feeling that Christmas spirit.  Christmas music around the clock, Christmas movies, the cooler weather.  I love it all. 
 
As much as I love to river cruise.  Combine them, perfection.
A Christmas river cruise is pure magic.  And the Christmas season is one of the best times to go to Europe.  A true winter wonderland.
 
Glide by storybook villages and snow-capped castles on the riverside.
 
Each year, timeless traditions spring to life at European Christmas Markets, where rows of colorful lights illuminate cobblestone streets and charming booths brimming with traditional handcrafted souvenirs in historic town squares. 
 
A river cruise visits some of the most delightful Christmas markets.
Indulge in gingerbread, Christmas cookies and sugary chimney cakes
Feast on mulled wine or sip hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.
Shop for Hand-carved toys and ornaments from Christmases past.
Listen to Angelic songs of strolling carolers.  
And romantic ice-skating in front of the beautifully illuminated Vienna City Hall.

Some of the time honored Christmas Markets include:

– The Budapest Christmas Market – it’s Hungary’s largest.  It’s strict “handcrafted-only” policy makes it the ideal shopping spot for the one of a kind gift.
– Vienna – situated in front their impressive 19th century town hall with awe inspiring decorations that illuminate the city.
– Strasbourg, France – the self proclaimed “Capital of Christmas”.  The oldest, largest, and most famous Christmas Markets in France. 
– Nuremberg, Germany – One of the largest and most popular in all of Europe.  Nuremberg’s 400 year old Christmas Market offers live music, hand crafted souvenirs, a nostalgic carousel, and a children’s steam train.
– Regensburg, Germany – which an independent jury has described as one of the loveliest in Germany
– Cologne, Germany – featuring their specialty – potato pancakes with applesauce
You’ll be transported from one Christmas wonderland to another by river ship. 
 
Onboard festivities include music performances, tree trimming, exquisite feasts, and engaging in customs that have long since passed.  

Christmas river cruises sail on the Rhine, Danube, and on the Seine in Paris:

– Danube river cruises sail from Budapest to Germany (Vilshofen, Passau, Nuremberg).  Extend in Prague which is less than 2 hours from where the cruise ends in Germany.  Transfer and hotels included so no need to worry about how you’re getting there.
 
– Rhine river cruises sail from Amsterdam to Basel.  Extend in Paris or Switzerland.
 
– Or a Parisian holiday on the Seine. 
 
Christmas river cruises start when the Christmas Markets open (Towards the end of November – could start as early as the 22nd or as late as the 29th).
 
Best time to go, I’d say anytime.  My opinion, that early part of December.
 
There’s also cruises that are out on Christmas day so you can celebrate on the ship.  And you can even celebrate the new year on a river cruise.  Keep in mind that most Christmas Markets do end just after Christmas day so if you’re most interested in the Christmas Markets, go a bit earlier in the month.
 
Christmas on a European river cruise is magical.  It’s a great option for couples and families.  If you’re looking for a holiday getaway, I would highly recommend a river cruise.  No better way to get into the Christmas spirit.
Please feel free to call with any questions at 305-814-8184!

Seabourn Journeys to some Spectacular Destinations

In the old days of cruising, when I say this, I mean in the last decade or so, a cruises ship was the destination.  You booked a cruise for all the activities on board (and the food).  Sometimes, you didn’t even get off the ship at your ports of call.  More and more, people craved something different from their cruise.  Better food and more of an enriching experience.

After all, a ship can access some of the worlds most intriguing and unique ports of call.  But sometimes a day is not enough to experience a destination.  You need more time to explore.

Seabourn has taken this to a new level.

Seabourn is an ultra luxury cruise line that takes you to all 7 continents with top notch service and intimate ships.

They introduced 4 new Seabourn Journeys in 2020 to exceptional destinations in Europe.  These are extensions that you can add to your cruise before or after your voyage.  These are not your ordinary single day excursions from the ship.  They can last from 6 to 13 days.

These journeys enable you to combine exceptional land and sea experiences seamlessly.  They’re kept small, between 2 and 10 guests.  This offers a more intimate and personalized adventure.

There are 14 options and most visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  • UNESCO Banff National Park & The Rocky Mountaineer
  • UNESCO SOUTH AMERICA: RIO, IGUAZU FALLS & BUENOS AIRES
  • UNESCO Splendors Of Peru: Lima, Cuzco & Machu Picchu
  • UNESCO Sydney, The Red Centre & Great Barrier Reef
  • UNESCO Lakeside Gems Of The Swiss Alps
  • UNESCO Treasures Of Tuscany
  • UNESCO Cambodia: Phnom Penh & The Temples Of Angkor
  • UNESCO Treasure Of China: Beijing, Xi’an & Hong Kong
  • UNESCO India’s Golden Triangle: The Taj Mahal & Jaipur
  • UNESCO Imperial Heritage Of Europe
  • South Africa: Cape Town & Kruger Park Safari Lodge
  • South Pole Quest
  • The Denali Experience 2020
  • Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

These are some fantastic pre and post cruise options.  Many cruise lines offer extensions, although not all on this grand level.  Whether you book your extension with the cruise line or set something up on your own, I always recommend adding a couple days before and or after.

If you have any questions, please feel free to write us or call 305-814-8184.

Adventure river cruise in the U.S. with Uncruise

Uncruise is a small ship adventure company started in 1996.  They sail in Alaska, Galapagos, Hawaii, Latin America, Mexico, the Pacific Northwest.  And if you’re feeling a river cruise, they’ve got one right here in the US – Columbia & Snake Rivers.
The Columbia & Snake rivers is the recreational mecca of the rivers.  For the adventurer, you can explore by kayak, raft, skiff, swim or a hike.
This cruise is not a sit on the sideline cruise.  You’re in the middle of it all.  Each day the great outdoors calls:  Coulees (pronounced coolees) and canyons, evergreen forests, and dramatic basalt (busalts) cliffs.  You can explore the rivers’ trails by foot or by bike, and along the shore by kayak and raft.  Or you can opt to focus on wine, craft beer, and culinary touring and tasting at vineyards, wineries, breweries, and cideries. The areas along the Columbia and Snake rivers are like California’s Sonoma Valley winemaking region.  It is a blossoming wine region and the quality of wine is astounding!  There are new award-winning wineries opening all the time.
Plus, get a dose of history and geology.  Follow the path of Lewis and Clark from desert to rainforest.

There are 2 itineraries:

Rivers of Adventure – 7 night cruise from Portland, Oregon to Clarkston, Washington (or you can do the reverse).  
INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS:
  • River rafting trip
  • Hike, kayak, swim, and skiff at: Palouse Falls State Park, Columbia Hills State Park, and Ft. Clatsop, a Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
  • Multnomah Falls walk and visit
  • Jet boat ride into Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Bike (or shuttle) and wine outing in Hood River Valley
  • Rowena Overlook hikes at Tom McCall Nature Preserve
  • Transit eight locks and tour the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center
  • Presentation by a Nez Perce tribal member
  • Narration by natural and cultural history guides
Rivers of Wine & Culinary – 7 night cruise from Portland round trip.
INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Onboard sommelier (sumulyay) and farm to table culinary demos
  • Winery tours in Washington and Oregon AVAs: Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla, Red Mountain, Willamette Valley
  • Cruise through the heart of the Columbia River Gorge
  • Wine, craft brews, kombucha, and cider tastings
  • Wine-pairing lunch and cooking demo at Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center
  • Food and beverage demo with a local chef in Astoria
  • Local culinary delights at historic Gesa Power House Theater
  • Rodin sculptures, European paintings, Native artifacts, and Northwest art at the Maryhill Museum
How will you be getting from point A to point B?  On the S.S. Legacy which is a 90 passenger replica of an early 20th century coastal steam ship with a Victorian look and feel.  If is a wonderful ship!
Uncruise also has some fantastic theme cruises set for 2020.
There’s an Insiders theme cruise, here you’ll be taken behind the scenes with people who live and breathe in the places you explore.
If you love birds, there are Birding cruises, with birding experts on board.
And if you have a love of photography as I do, there are some great photography cruises with the pros .
Uncruise is all about small ships, BIG adventures.  Their small ships are intimate with no more than 90 guests on any itinerary.  Guides have vast and deep experience, plus an impressive collection of advanced degrees in curiosity peaking subjects from whales to fungi to geology.
If you have any questions on Uncruise, or anything else, please feel free to reach out to us 7 days a week.