Bob Hoelscher

September 25, 2018 Update – Group Cruise News

 
 

Bob Hoelscher
Published September 25, 2018

Welcome!  Last week I interviewed Joelle Davis, Vice President Brand Management for Scenic Luxury Tours & Cruises, at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Boston.  Look for details of our conversation in my “Changing Horizons” column in the November/December issue of The Group Travel Leader.  This well-respected and widespread organization, which also maintains offices in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Croatia and Canada, operates river cruises under both the Scenic and Emerald Waterways brands, land tours worldwide, and is eagerly looking forward to the inaugural, sold-out sailings of its first luxury, 226-guest, 17,085-ton “Discovery Yacht,” Scenic Eclipse, beginning this coming January.  This extraordinary expedition vessel is sure to “wow” guests with an ice-hardened hull for navigation in the Arctic and Antarctica, extra long and wide stabilizers, ten different dining venues, a 5,900 square-foot spa, and even an onboard submarine and two helicopters for providing some of the most incredible sightseeing experiences imaginable.

 

The 16 Scenic river vessels offer cruises on all the major European waterways except for the Elbe (in Germany) and Po (in Italy) Rivers, as well as on the Mekong and Irrawaddy in Southeast Asia.  If it weren’t for the shopping opportunities available in these areas, one hardly would even need to take along his or her wallet, as virtually everything else imaginable is included in the basic cruise fares of this five-star line.  With the 75th anniversary of D-Day coming up in 2019, Normandy is currently one of Scenic’s hottest sellers.  And already well-known for providing excellent value during its first five years of existence, the seven ships of the four-star Emerald Waterways fleet ply the Danube, Rhine, Mosel, Main, Rhône, Saône and Douro Rivers, plus the canals and waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium, while an eighth  is currently being built for the Mekong.  Both lines are especially fine choices for group sailings.  Furthermore, Scenic purchased longtime group-favorite Mayflower Tours in the U.S. earlier this year.

 

Incidentally, please accept my apologies for the September GCN Update being distributed several days later than normal.  Being “on the road” since September 7, I ran into some technical challenges with my new, much lighter and easy to carry notebook computer that I hadn’t anticipated, which took some time for me to figure out how to correct.  Nevertheless, have a great autumn season, and remember that now there are only three shopping months left until Christmas!

 

 

 

 

AIDA Cruises christened its newest ship, AIDAnova, on Friday evening, August 31.  At the sold-out “AIDA Open Air,” the christening show took place on the grounds of the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg in front of 25,000 spectators.  The evening was crowned with a solo show by star DJ and producer David Guetta.  AIDAnova was staged in front of the Werfthalle with light and laser effects provided by 20 multi-color laser projectors, over 300 strobes and more than 100 spotlights, as well as by stunts performed by water acrobats.  Then on September 11, around 280 executives of AIDA Cruises welcomed the prime minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig, as part of the AIDA Management Days in Rostock.  The occasion was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the line, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the City of Rostock and Rostock Port to jointly promote environmentally friendly and sustainable cruise operations in Rostock.  The aim of the agreement, analogous to Hamburg and Kiel, is to build a shore power system for cruise ships in the Rostock-Warnemünde harbor, so that the first AIDA ships converted for the purpose will be able to be supplied with shore power here as early as 2020.  www.aida.de/

 

American Cruise Lines is offering 2018 holiday sailings to several popular river and coastal cruising destinations in the U.S.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s departures are available along the lower Mississippi River and along the Southeast Coast to Florida.  The line has also scheduled a “Colonial Christmas Cruise,” an 11-day itinerary including both Christmas and New Year’s which travels the line’s “American Revolution” itinerary in Chesapeake Bay, round-trip from Baltimore, and also features a rare stop inside Washington, D.C. on the Capital’s southwest waterfront.  In other news, ACL has announced that its new American Song has successfully passed her Sea Trials and subsequently arrived in New Orleans in advance of her inaugural sailing to Memphis on October 6.  American Song will follow a schedule of eight-day Lower Mississippi River cruises throughout the remainder of 2018, and will then reposition to the West Coast for Columbia and Snake Rivers voyages beginning in March, 2019, joining two of the line’s paddlewheelers, American Pride and Queen of the West as they cruise the route of Lewis & Clark.  Also new for next year, American Harmony, the second vessel in the new series, will begin service on the Mississippi, joining paddlewheelers America and Queen of the Mississippi, which already sail nine different Mississippi, Ohio and Cumberland River itineraries. www.americancruiselines.com/

 

American Queen Steamboat Company is offering savings of $700 per person on double-occupancy cruise fares on American Empress Pacific Northwest voyages on October 28 and November 4, and $400 per person on double-occupancy cruise fares on the departures of November 12 and 16.  Savings are not available on cabin category CS.  Also, three five-day “Extended Season” Pacific Northwest sailings of American Empress have been added this fall, departing from Vancouver, Washington (across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon) on November 24, 28, and December 2.  In other news, the line has announced an agreement to build a new, 245-guest riverboat, the fourth vessel for its U.S. flagged fleet.  The new paddlewheeler will be built using the existing hull of Kanesville Queen, a former gaming vessel built in 1995.  The boat will soon travel under its own power from a shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana, to Houma, Louisiana, where construction will commence this fall, employing nearly 150 skilled laborers in the community.  A delivery date for the new American Countess will be announced during the coming months.  www.aqsc.com/

 

Austin Adventures has doubled its small-ship cruise itineraries for 2019 from six to 12, all with season-specific weekly departures.  New destinations include the Baja and Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Panama, Australia’s Kimberly Wilderness, Alaska’s Prince William Sound, plus an African River Safari.  www.austinadventures.com/

 

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has announced a new partnership with Fit Bodies, Inc., to provide guests 16 and older with free exercise classes from certified fitness, Zumba and yoga professionals onboard Grand Celebration starting in September.   Fit Bodies, Inc., the largest teaching exchange program for fitness, yoga, tennis and wellness professionals in the world, will provide guests with workout experiences to unwind and recharge on their cruise to and from Grand Bahama Island.  In other news, the company has introduced four and six-night “Cruise & Stay” packages, offering the opportunity for travelers to take a cruise one way from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island, stay two or four nights at one of their partner resorts on the island, and then cruise back to Palm Beach.  With several properties to choose from, guests can stay in an all-inclusive resort that includes food and beverages like the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach or Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan, or they can opt for a lodging-only plan at the Pelican Bay Hotel or the Marlin at Taino Bay.  www.bahamasparadisecruise.com/

 

Belmond Afloat in France is adding two new barges, bringing the line’s fleet to a total of seven.  Belmond Pivoine is to cruise between Meaux and Châlons-en-Champagne along the River Marne and Canal Lateral de Marne, while Belmond Lilas will cruise the Canal de la Marne au Rhin through the heart of the Alsace region.  Belmond also offers tailor-made itineraries around Burgundy, Côte D’Or, France Comte, Saône, Provence, Valle du Rhône and Canal du Midi.  Barges can accommodate between four and 12 passengers, and available activities include cycling along the canal paths, market tours and cooking classes with the chefs.  www.belmond.com/

 

Carnival Cruise Line reached an agreement in principle with the Canaveral Port Authority on a new state-of-the-art terminal able to accommodate its new 180,000-ton ship, the largest ever constructed for the line, set to debut in 2020.  The agreement clears the way for the line’s plans to homeport the as-yet-unnamed 5,286-lower berth ship at Port Canaveral, further bolstering the line’s position as the port’s largest cruise operator.  The vessel will be the first North American-based cruise ship to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, part of Carnival Corporation’s “green cruising” design platform.  Elsewhere, Carnival Captain Gaetano Gigliotti and the crew of Carnival Elation have been recognized with the Cruise Line Humanitarian Assistance Award from the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS), an organization whose mission is to provide worldwide support and assistance to volunteer maritime rescue services and recognize and honor extraordinary maritime rescues.  Presented during AFRAS’ annual reception in Washington, DC, the award honors Captain Gigliotti and his team for their incredible bravery in the rescue of a stranded fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Irma last year.  Next, the line took to the sky on August 29 with the “Carnival AirShip,” a 128-foot-long red, white, and blue blimp promoting the line’s “Homeport Advantage” campaign, which was designed to raise awareness of new ship deployments in several key markets along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.  The AirShip made its debut at Carnival’s Sixth Annual “Day of Play” at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, the first stop in a 30-day airborne journey across seven states to Dallas, Houston, Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Jacksonville, Charleston and Atlanta.  On September 21, Carnival Horizon’s arrival at PortMiami, its new year-round homeport, was marked with a larger-than-life celebration highlighted by a basketball-themed event featuring the company’s “Chief Fun Officer,” NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, along with Miami Heat legends Alonzo Mourning, Shane Battier and Glen Rice.  Then, on September 23, Carnival solidified its place as the cruise leader in Texas with the arrival of Carnival Vista, the largest ship ever homeported in Galveston.  The arrival celebration featured the line’s President, Christine Duffy, and the ship’s Godmother, Deshauna Barber, the first member of the U.S. military to be named Miss USA, before the ship left on its first voyage from Galveston on Sunday afternoon.  www.carnival.com/

 

Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Xpedition, in a recent makeover of the Galapagos Islands vessel, received the following enhancements:  suites and staterooms were refreshed with new carpeting and balcony upgrades; suite and stateroom doors were outfitted with new RFID lock technology that makes it easier for guests to access their rooms; an upgrade to the shipboard IT systems included the addition of an O3B satellite to improve the speed and reliability of the ship’s Wi-Fi access; the Beagle Grill was outfitted with new furniture and lighting as well as state-of-the-art new culinary equipment; a new video wall, upgraded finishes, updated textiles, and a new dedicated DJ station were installed in the Discovery Lounge; the Darwin Dining Room received new lighting, carpeting and millwork; a new water filtration system was added to every deck; and crew area additions included new mattresses, carpets, and dayroom TV.  www.celebritycruises.com/

 

CroisiEurope is offering several special sailings during the coming holiday season. “Southern Africa: Travel to the Ends of the Earth,” departing December 19, includes Johannesburg (South Africa), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), and Christmas.  “A Bountiful Christmas in Alsace and The Black Forest” features a journey on the Rhine during three departures on December 3, 9 and 13.  Also, “Christmas on the Loire” will depart on December 22, and a “Prestigious New Year’s Eve” in Paris and on the Seine departs on December 30.  Elsewhere, the line has announced its latest new program for 2019, adding to its existing 170 itineraries on over 50 ships on 39 waterways and in 37 countries.  In addition to a new ship joining the fleet on the Douro River, CroisiEurope will be introducing a new coastal cruise along the Adriatic, which will include stops in Croatia, Greece, Albania and Montenegro on board Belle de ‘Adriatique. Prices for this 8-day cruise start at $2,518 per person, with cabins on select February and March 2019 departure dates still available.  In 2019 the company will offer cruises on the Seine, Garonne & Dordogne, Rhône, Loire, Guadiana & Guadalquivir, Po, Douro, Rhine & Danube, Elbe, Mekong and Lake Kariba in Southern Africa, as well as on the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas and on the French canals.  www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/

 

Crystal Cruises has announced that Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises celebrated the next important milestone in the construction of Crystal Endeavor, as the keel was laid at MV WERFTEN’s shipyard in Stralsund, Germany on August 21 for the company’s first luxury expedition yacht.  The line has also opened bookings for the vessel´s inaugural season, from August of 2020 through January of 2021, offering voyages of 12 to 22 days that will explore the cultural and bio-diversity of Japan and the Russian Far East; Indonesia, Borneo and the Philippines; New Zealand and Tasmania; Australia and the Great Barrier Reef; and Antarctica via the Ross Sea.  In other news, On January 5, 2021, the line’s 26th and most extensive annual World Cruise ever will depart from Miami, as Crystal Serenity sets sail on a 139-day voyage concluding in London.  “Ancient Dynasties & World Wonders” will follow a route through the Caribbean, Hawaiian Islands, South Pacific, Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, India, the U.A.E. and the Mediterranean, and feature a Panama Canal transit as well as visits to Egypt’s Valley of Kings and the winelands of Western Europe.  Offered in nine focused segments of 12 to 21 days, the sailing will explore iconic locales and less visited destinations alike, allowing guests to explore wild shorelines and landscapes, remote villages and untouched natural beauty, historically profound sites and monuments, and epicenters of modern culture and commerce.  www.crystalcruises.com/

 

Cunard’s “Three for All” promotion applies on select voyages from May through December, 2019, and can be booked until this November 19th.  Included are the brand’s iconic Transatlantic Crossings, Caribbean, New England & Canada voyages on Queen Mary 2 and a variety of European voyages on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.  The offer features free upgrades from oceanview to balcony staterooms; free upgrades to and within the Grill Suites; free gratuities and a $150 reduced deposit on all categories; and free drinks for all Grill Suite bookings.  In other news, the line has announced onboard programming for 2019 voyages of Queen Elizabeth for her 10-night roundtrip Alaska voyages from Vancouver departing May 21, 31, June 10 and 20, with port calls in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Victoria.  Highlights include scenic cruising through the famed Inside Passage, Tracy Arm Fjord, and Hubbard Glacier.  Featured in Cunard’s “Alaska Insights” program will be award-winning naturalist Dr. Rachel Cartwright, “Alaska Native Voices” and members of the Huna Tinglet tribe, plus commercial fisherwoman and cookbook author LaDonna Rose Gundersen.  Also, Cunard has announced an expanded program for the remainder of 2020, including new voyages to the Norwegian Fjords, Southeast Asia, Japan and Australia.  In total, the Cunard fleet will travel over 169,000 nautical miles with calls at 110 destinations in 34 different countries, with eight maiden calls including Bornholm, Denmark; Nordfjordeid, Norway; Ringaskiddy, Ireland; Jakarta, Indonesia; as well as Kurhiro, Ishigaki and Tokyo, Japan.  Finally, along with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the line will award the fourth annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity to Kenneth C. Rowe, Founder and Chairman of IMP Group International Inc., a Halifax-based company.  New this year, Cunard and its partners will also institute the Samuel Cunard Innovative Spirit Award, which will be awarded to Paul Yeatman, President of GeoSpectrum Technologies. The two recipients will receive their awards on October 5 onboard flagship Queen Mary 2 while she is docked in Halifax, birthplace of company founder Sir Samuel Cunard.  www.cunard.com/

 

Dream Cruises‘ Genting Dream was honored as Asia’s Best Cruise Ship by the Jeju Cruise Industry Association at the Asian Cruise Awards held in Hong Kong on August 29.  And on September 11, parent Genting Cruise Lines announced the latest addition to the Dream Cruises family…Explorer Dream, a 75,338 gross ton, 1,870 passenger cruise ship that will join the fleet in spring, 2019.  Formerly SuperStar Virgo of sister brand Star Cruises, the vessel will undergo a $30 million transformation in March that will incorporate new facilities including “The Palace,” Dream Cruises’ signature, luxury private enclave featuring 50 suites and butler service.  Additionally, guests will be able to enjoy new “East meets West” food and beverage options and a new Crystal Life Spa.  Also on September 11, the keel laying ceremony for Dream Cruises’ new, as yet unnamed “Global Class” flagship took place at the MV WERFTEN shipyard in Rostock, Germany.  The “laying” of the first section measuring 22 meters long, 26 meters wide and weighing 410 tons, about half of the full keel, marks the start of construction of the largest cruise ship ever to be built in Germany, to measure 204,000 gross tons and house 2,500 suites and cabins when completed. Approximately one thousand shipyard employees, partners, and guests from the worlds of business and politics accepted invitations to attend the event.  www.dreamcruiseline.com

 

Emerald Waterways, through October 31, is offering guests who book an Emerald stateroom (Category E or D) a free upgrade to a Category C Panorama Balcony Suite.  Those who book a Balcony Suite (Category C and above) will upgrade at half the published price and enjoy a free premium drink package.  A 50% reduced deposit is also part of the promotion.  Another promotion is giving travelers who book by October 31 a $1,200 per couple discount on the company’s 10-day Cairo & Ancient Egypt River Cruise, and a $2,400 per couple discount on its 15-day Cairo to Amman Tour & Ancient Egypt River Cruise.  www.emeraldwaterways.com/

 

Genting Cruise Lines has announced the deployment of Star Cruises’ SuperStar Gemini to Malaysia from this November 5th until April 28th 2019.  The vessel will be home-ported in Port Klang, Penang and Langkawi, along with Phuket in Thailand, and focus on destinations around the calm waters of the Straits of Malacca.  SuperStar Gemini’s Malaysia deployment is intended to reinforce the company’s ongoing commitment to growing Malaysia’s cruise industry and builds on its history of over 50 years in the country.  www.gentingcruiselines.com/

 

Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam, the second “Pinnacle Class” ship in the fleet, returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard on August 22 for finishing touches to be completed, following her successful completion of two sets of sea trials off the coast of Italy.  In other news, HAL will be offering more than 100 Caribbean cruises between this October and next April.  With voyages ranging from three to 21 days, guests can choose from eight of the line’s ships, including the Nieuw Statendam.  Seven vessels will sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, while Rotterdam takes over the round-trip departures from Tampa.  Most Fort Lauderdale departures include a visit to the line’s private island, Half Moon Cay.  Elsewhere, both HAL’s Amsterdam (on August 9 in Sitka, Alaska) and Noordam (on August 29 in Juneau, Alaska) recently earned perfect scores of 100 on surprise routine United States Public Health inspections conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These scores follow sister-ship Zuiderdam’s perfect 100 earlier this year and adds to Eurodam’s record-making six-year run of perfect scores.  Over the past five years, HAL ships have achieved a perfect score of 100 nearly 30 times.  Next, HAL President Orlando Ashford presented a check for $25,000 to the Seattle Children’s Uncompensated Care Fund on September 11 at the Seattle Mariners’ home game at Safeco Field.  The company made the donation as part of its partnership with the Mariners and the “K’s for Kids” program.  The line became the presenting sponsor of the program during the 2014 baseball season.  Finally, HAL guests interested in transiting the Panama Canal will have five ships and 30 cruises to choose from in 2019, in addition “Sunfarer” itineraries featuring a partial canal transit in combination with Southern Caribbean ports of call.  From January through December next year, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam and Oosterdam will also sail a series of seven and 11-day cruises roundtrip from San Diego that include calls at Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  www.hollandamerica.com/

 

Katarina Line is promoting 2019 luxury yacht charters to the Adriatic coast of Croatia aboard motor vessels Ave Maria, Black Swan, Avangard, Adriatic Sun, Futura, Infinity, Maritimo, Markanis and Riva. www.katarina-line.com/

 

Lindblad Expeditions successfully launched National Geographic Venture earlier this month at the Nichols Brothers yard in Freeland, Washington, as she took to the water for the first time.  Following her launch celebrations in San Francisco during late November, she will depart on two new inaugural itineraries that explore the Pacific coast, before beginning her seasons in the Baja, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.  Sister ship of National Geographic Quest launched in 2017, the 50-cabin coastal vessel is the second newbuild for the line.  www.expeditions.com/

 

MSC CruisesMSC Fantasia will be adding a full-day call to Naples to her weekly Mediterranean itinerary next summer.  www.msccruises.com/

 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun completed her first season of cruises to Cuba from Port Canaveral with her last sailing on September 3, before moving to Miami for several departures and then repositioning to South America for her fall/winter season.   As the only home-ported ship to cruise to Cuba from Port Canaveral, the vessel welcomed over 30,000 guests on 15 voyages of a four-day Cuba itinerary including Key West and an overnight in Havana.  Norwegian Sun will return to Port Canaveral next April to operate more Cuba sailings.  Next, the line has revealed that award-winning Spanish artist, Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, has created the hull artwork for the fourth and final ship of its “Breakaway-Plus” class, Norwegian Encore, debuting in Miami this November.  A representation of his modern and abstract style, the ship’s hull will feature a labyrinth of color inspired by Arranz-Bravo’s life by the sea in Barcelona.  And on September 18, Norwegian opened for sale the summer, 2020, itineraries for 11 of its 17 ships, including voyages of Norwegian Encore, and summer, 2021, through spring, 2022, sailings of Pride of America in Hawaii.  The summer schedule includes three ships cruising to Alaska, four ships in Europe and two sailing to Bermuda from New York City and Boston, including Norwegian Encore, which will begin sailing from the “Big Apple” on April 22, 2020.  www.ncl.com/

 

Paul Gauguin Cruises has released its “2019 Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji & the South Pacific” brochure.  The 74-page publication is designed with a travel magazine approach, featuring extensive destination content and imagery that celebrate Polynesian culture and provide details about the line and its 2019 voyages.  In other news, the company is taking part in CLIA’s “#CHOOSECRUISE campaign, which takes places during October.  Those who book a 2018, 2019, or 2020 sailing aboard Paul Gauguin by November 10 will receive a $100 per-person shipboard credit, which can be used towards spa treatments, gift purchases in La Boutique, or booking shore excursions.  Savings of 50% off standard all-inclusive cruise fares on all voyages and included airfare from Los Angeles are also being offered.  www.pgcruises.com/

 

Ponant has ordered the world’s first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker, which is scheduled for delivery in 2021.  Propelled by Liquified Natural Gas, not only will the vessel advance Ponant’s commitment to “clean” technology designed to protect and sustain the environment, it will ensure that the line can visit such seldom explored polar destinations as the true geographic North Pole (90 degrees North Latitude), the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Island, one of the remotest on the planet.  In other news, Ponant has inaugurated its newest vessel, Le Lapérouse, the first in the line of six new Ponant Explorer ships.  Following her successful maiden voyage out of Reykjavik, Le Lapérouse will sail year-round through Northern Europe, The Mediterranean, Asia, and the Pacific and Oceania with fares beginning at $3,990 based on double occupancy.  The vessel offers 92 staterooms and suites, each with their own private balcony or terrace; two dining options; a library filled with books and board games; a wellbeing center offering treatments from Parisian beauty brand Sothys; plus the initial “Blue Eye” multi-sensory underwater lounge created by architect Jacques Rougerie in an effort to “let guests become modern-day explorers, following in the wake of Jules Verne, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the great adventurers.”  www.ponant.com/

 

Princess Cruises‘ 3,560-guest Royal Princess will make her West Coast debut next March and begin sailings from the Port of Los Angeles with a Mexican Riviera itinerary departing on March 23.  Elsewhere, the brand is celebrating its fourth year of an exclusive partnership with Discovery, offering immersive “Discovery at Sea” experiences, including newly branded “Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers,” “Discovery Family” shore excursions and numerous educational and interactive activities for family members of all ages.  Since 2014, more than 1,000 Discovery, Animal Planet and Discovery Family shore excursions in worldwide ports have been added, including 300 tours that can only be experienced with Princess.  In addition, onboard “Stargazing at Sea” programs have allowed guests to look up and learn about the billions of stars to be viewed across the night sky.  www.princesscruises.com/

 

Scenic‘s new “Discovery Yacht” Scenic Eclipse will carry two, state-of-the-art Airbus H130 helicopters to provide guests with unparalleled access to some of nature’s most beautiful sites.  As one of the quietest helicopters in the skies, the H130’s reduced sound levels are seven decibels below International Civil Aviation Organization requirements and is quieter than the most restrictive sound limits defined for flights over national parks, animal and nature reserves across the world.  The H130 is also one of the most environmentally friendly helicopters on the market with an efficient fuel burn that ensures lower emissions and less fuel usage.  Also, Scenic Eclipse will provide guests with exceptional underwater experiences on board the Scenic Neptune U Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7.  Capable of diving to 300 meters, or 984 feet, with seating for up to six guests, the submarine has been custom-built for optimal sightseeing of marine wonders, offering excursions into the blue depths and unique access to some of nature’s most beautiful sites.  In related news, the company is offering plenty of details and highlights in its new 2019-2020 Scenic Eclipse brochures, issued in three versions…Europe, the Med and the Americas; Antarctica; and the Arctic/Baltic region…which encompass both cruise offerings and land-cruise combinations, some of which can be split so non-cruisers can take the escorted land tours.  Scenic has also announcing several booking incentives, beginning with early-bird fares offering up to 10% savings on all sailings, while those paying in full by this October 31st on any departure will save between $300 and $750 per person.  Guests booking a cruise-land departure will receive the early-bird fare, regardless of when it is booked, as well as a free 20-minute submarine excursion or equivalent on-board credit.  And on many sailings, Scenic is offering free private, door-to-door airport transfers, $500 per person onboard credit, and complimentary Deposit Protection, plus there are a limited number of sailings offering 50% off the single supplement.  All offers are available on sailings through August, 2020. and are combinable with past offers and vouchers.  www.scenicusa.com/

 

Seabourn is offering travelers new worldwide itineraries for the fall, 2019, and winter, 2020, seasons including more than 70 sailings to hidden harbors, marquee ports and cities accessible only by smaller ships.  Voyages range from seven to 146 days, the latter being the line’s “World Cruise: Extraordinary Destinations.”  Departures feature South America & Antarctica, Africa, India, Arabia, Australia & New Zealand, Southeast Asia, plus such standard favorites as the Panama Canal, Canada/New England, and the Caribbean.  Also new for 2019 are 11, 12 and 14-day voyages to Cuba aboard Seabourn Sojourn.  Elsewhere, the line’s “Set Sail Event” runs through November 13 on select departures through May, 2020.  Among the benefits being offered, which vary by voyage, include a complimentary Veranda Suite three category upgrade; a complimentary 300-minute per person internet package; up to $750 per person air credit; up to $500 per suite shipboard credit; a 50% reduced deposit; and up to 15% savings on select Combination Cruises.  In other news, Seabourn will return to Asia in late 2018 and early 2019 with an schedule of 14-day voyages aboard its newest ship, Seabourn Ovation.  From the natural splendors of Vietnam and Thailand to the modern skylines and urban cultures of Hong Kong and Singapore, the vessel will visit an array of exotic destinations and major cities, as well as offer a variety of optional shore excursions and pre- and post-cruise “Seabourn Journeys” to UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Finally, the brand will also return to Alaska and British Columbia next year, with 10 departures of 11, 12 and 14-day cruises onboard Seabourn Sojourn from June to October, 2019.  www.seabourn.com/

 

Silversea Cruises is promoting a number of unique 2019 departures in the Far East, including “The Pacific Ring of Fire and Japan” (13 days from Apra, Guam, to Kobe, Japan) on April 29; “Land of the Rising Sun” (9 days from Kobe to Busan, South Korea) on May 12; “Semi-Circumnavigation of Sumatra and Java” (15 days from Yangon, Myanmar, to Bali, Indonesia) on March 5; “A Kaleidoscope of Culture and Nature in the Banda and Arafura Seas” (16 days from Bali to Darwin, Australia) on March 20; and “Indonesia by Land and Sea” (15 days from Darwin to Bali) on June 24.  Early booking bonuses are available.  In other news, the line’s 62-port World Cruise 2020 will reportedly be the first time that travelers will be able to step foot on all seven continents on a world cruise.  The voyage will incorporate many ‘soft expedition’ features, including a 3-day Antarctic experience that will be led by a team of nine qualified specialists, including marine biologists, a geologist, a naturalist, an ornithologist, a glaciologist, and more.  Likewise, guests will experience a range of immersive travel experiences in the South Pacific, accompanied by a team of nine expedition experts.  Standout destinations here will include the notoriously hard-to-reach Pitcairn Island of HMS Bounty fame, as well as Pentecost Island, where Silversea’s guests will witness the land diving ritual performed by locals to celebrate the yam harvest.  And at a local festival on Champagne Beach in Vanuatu, guests will attend a local festival showcasing a unique water dance.  Next, Silversea is planning to operate191 voyages between summer, 2020, and winter, 2021.  The new collection of itineraries will take guests to 572 destinations in 84 countries on all seven continents.  Among other highlights, the line’s new Silver Moon will set sail on her inaugural voyage on August 6, 2020, departing Trieste, Italy, for Civitavecchia (Rome) on an 11-day cruise.  Bookings for all departures will open to the general public on October 1.  www.silversea.com/

 

Tauck is launching a new “Alaska’s Inside Passage” cruise for 2019 that will be highlighted by up to six daily shore excursion choices, with all selections already built into Tauck’s all-inclusive prices. The new eight-day itinerary will sail southbound from Juneau to Vancouver with departures on July 20 and August 3, 2019, plus a northbound sailing is scheduled for July 27.  All three departures will be aboard the 240-passenger Ponant small ship Le Soleal.  Typical of the multiple shore excursions available on most days are the six varied choices slated for Skagway. www.tauck.com/

 

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, on September 10, made its television debut as the founding corporate underwriter of Amanpour & Co., a new nightly series on PBS featuring CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, and presenting wide-ranging and in-depth conversations with various noteworthy contributors.  The line is also introducing S.S. Bon Voyage, which will be joining S.S. Joie de Vivre and S.S. Catherine on France’s waterways as its newest “Super Ship” in 2019.  Existing vessel River Royale will soon undergo extensive renovations and will reemerge next spring as S.S. Bon Voyagewww.uniworld.com

 

Vantage Adventures is promoting the 2019 departures of its “Ancient Wonders: Egypt & Nile River Cruise” program, featuring a seven-night sailing aboard Mojito, the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor and Aswan.  And for its 11-night cruise program featuring the Norwegian coastline, the company is so sure that Norway’s natural wonders will dazzle travelers that it has announced a new “Northern Lights Promise” on select departures.  If guests don’t see this unique natural phenomenon, they will receive a refund of $500 per person. www.vantagetravel.com/pr

 

Windstar Cruises has announced the hiring of Mary Beth Wressell as the small ship company’s new Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, where she will oversee brand communications, digital marketing, customer relationship marketing, partnerships, and public relations.  Wressell has more than 25 years in the travel and luxury travel segments, most recently as Vice President of Marketing Communications for Holland America Line.  She spent nearly 13 years with HAL, held several marketing roles at the Virtuoso consortium of luxury travel agencies, and also spent nearly a decade at Elgin DDB Advertising in Seattle, the company responsible for developing Windstar’s tag-line of “180 Degrees from Ordinary.”  In other news, the line has created a new series of videos featuring its ships, personalization, culture and culinary program from the crew’s perspective.  With visuals and soundbites from actual Windstar employees…including Corporate Executive Chef Graeme Cockburn and Destination Manager James Anderson Smith, among others…the videos demonstrate how Windstar is attempting to differentiate itself from other cruise lines.  Videos can be viewed at https://www.windstarcruises.com/beyond-the-expected/.  Finally, the company has added the availability of “Luggage Forward” service, allowing guests to ship their luggage from their doorstep directly to their onboard accommodations (and home again), transforming the airport trek to traveling light.  “Luggage Forward” has more than a decade of experience as a premier door-to-door, international luggage shipping provider to 200 countries and territories worldwide, and employs a team of customs specialists to handles all the country-specific paperwork to ensure seamless, on-time delivery.  www.windstarcruises.com/