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AmaWaterways – What’s Included In Your Rate!

AmaWaterways is a family owned and operated river cruise line that’s been in business since 2002.

Year in and year out they win countless awards, here are some of the recent awards:

  • Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards for Best River Cruise Line, Best River Cruise Line for Active Cruisers, Best New River Ship
  • Travel Weekly Magellan Awards for Overall River Cruising, Overall Cruise Ship (AmaMagna), Luxury Ship (AmaMagna)
  • Porthole Cruise Readers’ Choice Awards for Best River Ship (AmaLea)
  • Travy Awards for Best Overall River Cruise Line, Best River Cruise Line in Africa/Egypt, Best River Cruise Line in Asia, Best River Cruise Line in Europe.
  • Much much more….
At the Travy Awards 2020. Me with AmaWateways owners Kristin Karst and Rudi Schreiner

AmaWaterways sails in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Egypt.

They offer Wine Themes Cruises, Christmas Cruises (Magical!!!), and they have a Golf Program!

They have a fleet of 22 ship – including the revolutionary new AmaMagna (which is twice the width of a normal river ship).

AmaWaterways falls into the category of ALMOST ALL-INCLUSIVE (Europe):

  • All your meals on board are included
  • Beer & wine is served with lunch and dinner (very generous pours.  No skimping!)
  • Sip & Sail cocktail hour every day offering beer, wine, and spirits
  • Gourmet coffee, teas, bottled water 24 hours a day
  • All land tours included (available to reserve 60-90 days prior to sailing but you can wait to book on board. Not capacity controlled so you will not miss out!)
  • Special Interest Tours included (these are capacity controlled so book them the minute you get on board on your first day)
  • Bikes on board all ships (there are a certain number on board so book ahead of time when you know you’ll want to use them)
  • WiFi included (AmaWaterways knows people want to stay connected and they put a lot of money into WiFi technology)

Not included in your rate:

  • Gratuities
  • Spa services
  • Alcohol drinks outside of beer & wine with lunch & dinner and daily cocktail hour.

If you have any questions about AmaWaterways or anything else, please feel free to call 305-814-8184 or send us a note.

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Virgin Voyages Exciting New Cruise Line coming to Miami!

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a Virgin Voyages cruise line boot camp.  This is a training session informing travel advisors about all the ins and outs of their cruise line.

Virgin Voyages is a new cruise line brought to you by Richard Branson.  And it looks fantastic! I was expecting just another addition to the cruise line roster.  But Virgin Voyages is going to be a bit different!

Two things that tipped me off to this immediately are:

  • It’s adults 18 and over only.  Leave the family at home for an adults only break.  Or if you don’t have kids, you won’t have a ship overrun by children!
  • The new ships will do shorter itineraries.  This is a big thing in my opinion. Most cruise lines that offer 4-5 night sailings are using much older vessels.  With Virgin, you can do a cruise as short as 3 nights on a brand new cruise ship.

Here are some other key differences:

  • There is no main dining area.  And, there are no buffets! There will be 20 eateries where you can pick and choose.  No extra charge! It’s included in your cruise fare.
  • Beverages included like soda, coffee, tea’s, and juice.  Alcohol is extra.
  • Gratuities are included.  For everything. Your meals, drinks, cabin…
  • WiFi is included.  Internet at sea can get pricey but it’s nice to not have to pay for this.  There is a premium version they sell if you want to stream video. But having the free version to keep connected is great!
  • Skipping the Broadway shows for more contemporary and immersive entertainment.
  • Parties, parties parties.  Pool parties. Night clubs.  
  • DJ’s on board!  From the likes of Diplo and Mark Ronson (both super famous DJ’s)
  • Exclusive beach club in Bimini.  It’s a tranquil environment and magnificent!  

All this and I haven’t yet mentioned the ship!  Named the Scarlet Lady, it holds 2,770 passengers with 1,160 crew.  It’s a high tech ship that’s sleek and modern.  

  • Cabins transform from sleep mode to day mode giving you more space to live and sleep. 
  • Rainshower with real glass doors (not the plasticky shower curtains).
  • Handmade hammock on your terrace for zen like relaxation.

Suites take it up a notch!  Categorized as Rock Star and Mega Rock Star.

Rock Star Suites:

  • Your very own concierge agent called “Rockstar Agent”
  • Better and stronger WiFi
  • Private transfers
  • In room bar (the first round is on Virgin!)
  • Priority access to all restaurants
  • VIP access to the Beach Club 

Mega Rock Star Suites:

  • Daily bar tab is on Virgin
  • Personalized bottomless bar
  • Thermal Suite daily access
  • Hair and makeup done daily
  • Prime location on deck 15 near Richard’s Rooftop (A chic top deck private club exclusively for suite guests)
  • Suites range from 570 SQFT to 2,147 SQFT

Virgin calls their guests “Sailors” and the travel agents who serve them “First Mates”.

Sailings start on April 1st of 2020 from Miami to the Caribbean on 4 night to 7 night sailings and in the Mediterranean during the summer months.  

In 2021, Virgin will introduce their second ship.  The ship is named Valiant Lady and will sail from Barcelona!

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 305-814-8184 or send questions or comments here!

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Benefits of adding pre and post days to your river cruise

If you can, always arrive early for your river cruise.  If you can, get to your starting destination a few days early.  I recommend 2-3 days but if you can only do 1, that’s OK.

This tip is not just for a river cruise, I recommend adding a few days for ANY trip you do.  River cruise, ocean cruise, land tour, etc…

Benefits of arriving early:

  • There’s no doubt that you’ll be starting in a wonderful city.  Spending some extra time there will be magnificent. Explore the city, do some of the things that are not part of the tour, venture out of the city to do something different.  Your travel advisor can give you some recommendations here.
  • It will help you get over jet lag for the start of your trip.
  • Flight delays are unpredictable.  Weather, mechanical issues, airline strikes, can affect your flight.  I’ve seen them all happen!  By leaving earlier, you minimize missing the start of your trip.  Most of the time you’ll be meeting your tour guides and fellow travelers over dinner on the first night and you don’t want to miss that!

In addition, you’ll be ending your river cruise in different spectacular city.  If you can add another couple days on the end of your trip, I always recommend that as well.  You’ve traveled a long way, why not make the most of it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Prague – Although Prague is not on a river, it’s a short bus or train ride from cruises that start or end in Germany on the Danube River.  Almost all river cruise lines offer pre or post cruise stays in Prague and they offer transfers to make it easy.
  • Amsterdam – One of the most popular river cruise itineraries are on the Rhine River.  Many either start or end in Amsterdam. This is an excellent city to spend a few extra days!
  • Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise on the Mekong River – Add some time in Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap.
  • Ski the Swiss alps when starting or ending your Rhine River cruise from Basel.

We certainly don’t have to keep it just to the cities that start or end your river cruise.  It’s super easy to fly from one city to another in Europe.  

  • Experience London or Paris then hop on a flight or train to start your Rhine River cruise in Amsterdam.
  • One of my favorite countries in the world is Italy.  Spend some time in Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice… Uniworld has a river cruise starting in Venice on the Po.  Or hop on a short flight to your starting tour destination.
  • I’ve added a few days in Thailand as it’s just a short flight away!  Add a stay in Krabi, Thailand at the end of your river cruise to soak in the sun at some of the most beautiful beaches.  And the Thai food is the BEST I’VE EVER HAD!

There are MANY options!  As a travel advisor, I can offer some fantastic recommendations and help plan your trip from A to Z…


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Prediction: What the future of travel looks like in 2040

Here’s a fun and interesting article I came across.  There’s a new report released by Allianz Travel Insurance (they are a fantastic company providing travel insurance and a host of other things).  The article is “Future Travel Experience” which predicts what the travel industry will look like in the year 2040.

It’s written by renowned futurologist Ray Hammond who has 40 years experience writing about trends in the future.  He’s got a long record of accurate foresight and the UN has awarded him the Gold Medal of Services to Futurology in 2010.

Here’s what Ray Hammond predicts:

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Multi-sensory virtual reality will allow you toe “step into” your cruise ship and walk around.  Explore a city that you’ve been thinking about visiting. Walk around a museum half way around the world.  I know it may sound as if VR & AR will be taking the place of travel but that’s not the case. This may help you decide on what you’d like to experience in real life. 

 

Instant check-in thanks to new technology

Facial pattern recognition systems are already in experimental use at airports, and within 20 years computer systems that can reliably identify your face will be in widespread use to check-in seamlessly.

 

Hotel software assistants

While some luxury hotels will greet their guests with a human face, many business and budget hotels will use automated check-in and guidance to rooms provided by software assistants. Some hotels will even provide robotic baggage carriers to move luggage.

 

Super-fast trains

Cross-border train journeys will be smoother and much improved in many parts of the world. Computer networks and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will manage national and international rail networks, allowing trains to run faster and closer together. Train speed will also increase on most rail networks, with most high-speed trains running at speeds above 125 mph.

 

On-site 3D clothes printing

In 2040, it will be possible to send your measurements to your hotel in advance of your arrival and heavy or bulky clothes (e.g. raincoats or shoes) will have been printed out to await your arrival, reducing the amount of luggage the tourist of 2040 will have to transport. The low cost of 3D printed garments means travelers will be able to leave the clothes behind for local recycling.

 

Sustainable cruises

Cruise ships will be far more environmentally friendly than today’s giant ocean liners. Vessels will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), a light fossil fuel with almost no greenhouse gas emissions, transforming cruise vacations into one of the greenest ways to travel the world. The range of cruise destinations will also continue to grow, with Asia proving particularly fertile ground.

 

Space as a regular destination

For some travelers in 2040, the world may not be enough as it may not offer a sufficiently large choice of destinations. By that time, it’s likely that tourists will be flying to and from the Moon on a regular basis as they seek the experience of seeing the Earth from space.

A lot of these do not sound too far fetched, even space travel…

Let’s check back here in 2040 and we’ll see how Ray’s predictions came out!

Epic Total Solar Eclipse on a Cruise to Antarctica

Here’s a bucket list trip that doesn’t come around often.  If you want to take a once in a lifetime adventure, read on…

Back in 2003 Quark Expeditions became the first and only operator to successfully lead a Total Solar Eclipse sailing to the 7th continent, Antarctica.

The next total solar eclipse in Antarctica will be happening on December 4, 2021.  Quark will have 2 scheduled expeditions to witness this rare occurrence.

They’ll have world-renowned Eclipse experts like Mr. Eclipse Fred Espenak, Babak Tafreshi, and David Baron onboard to host talks and presentations.

One voyage includes the Antarctic Peninsula and wildlife-rich South Georgia, while the second also travels to the remote Falkland Islands. Both journeys highlight the wonders of an Antarctic expedition: towering icebergs, glaciers, whales, penguin rookeries, walruses, seals and other iconic wildlife, as well as visits to significant historic sites.

There will be several cruise and tour operators that will be offering Total Solar Eclipse expeditions.  Feel free to contact me to discuss what option is best for you.  And don’t forget to sign up for updates below.

 

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