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March 2, 2015 Update!

March 2, 2015 Update!

Welcome!  Thanks again for the kind responses I’ve received on the inauguration of Group Cruise News last month.  Here is my first update for March…

American Queen Steamboat Company has announced refurbishment details of American Queen as part of a six-week annual layup in New Orleans.  A number of engineering and cosmetic upgrades, including a new yacht white polymer paint finish on the refinished exterior decks, new and upgraded mahogany accents, and a new paddlewheel were evident to guests that boarded for the launch of her 2015 season on February 21.  The line is currently offering savings of 30% off, up to $4,000 per stateroom, on 2015 peak-season, April and May voyages of American Queen, as well as springtime American Empress cruises of the Pacific Northwest.      

Cunard is offering a special October 2-7 sailing to mark Queen Elizabeth’s fifth birthday, on which guests will be invited take to the dance floor for a gala Big Band Ball.  A balcony stateroom for the five-night sailing begins at $1,298 per person.  The ship will sail from Southampton to Amsterdam and Zeebrugge (for Bruges), then back to Southampton.

Disney Cruise Line is now offering parents an easier way to identify healthier menu choices for their children.  As part of Disney’s commitment to make healthy living simpler and more fun for families, Mickey Check meals are now being offered in restaurants aboard all four Disney ships.  To receive the Mickey Check, foods must be nutritious and meet “Disney Nutrition Guidelines” for calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar that were developed by leading child health experts.  

Emerald Waterwayshas lowered the price on all of its 2015 cruises, by $500 per couple on 8 to 11-day sailings and $1000 per couple on longer departures.  Similar savings are also being offered on the line’s 2016 programs, which are now available for booking.

Holland America Line is now packaging Denali National Park, the centerpiece of its “Land+Sea Journeys,” with Dawson City in the heart of the Yukon’s Klondike Gold Rush Country, including a one-hour flight between Fairbanks and Dawson City.  HAL has also acquired the McKinley Chalet, an upscale 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River.

Hurtigruten is offering a unique opportunity for voyagers interested in climate change by exploring how global warming is effecting Greenland, as well as its impact on the global environment.  Dr. Jason Box, one of the world’s leading experts on climate change, will lead small groups of guests on actual data-collecting expeditions to a working Greenland ice sheet weather station during an upcoming 12-day journey along Greenland’s northwestern coastline. Dr. Box will explain the results of the data collection back on board Fram and engage guests with lectures, films and discussions on climate change evidenced in the High Arctic.  New ports have been added, including Qasigiannguit, Illorsuit and Qullissat, on the sailing which will depart Reykjavik, Iceland, on June 23.   

Norwegian Cruise Line is extending its “Freestyle Choice Spectacular” to those who book a new three-day or longer cruise vacation through April 6.  Guests have the option to choose from up to four special offers…a free “Ultimate Dining Package,” a free “Ultimate Beverage Package,” up to $300 in onboard spending money or free gratuities, plus receive “Friends & Family Sail Free” on select sailings, where the third through eighth guest in each stateroom sails for free.

Paul Gauguin Cruises operator of cruises in the South Pacific aboard Paul Gauguin and the 88-guest Tere Moana, has announced 2016 voyages that include a new 7-night “Tahiti, the Society Islands & Tuamotus” itinerary and an 11-night “Society Islands & Tuamotus” voyage on the Gauguin, as well as a new 7-night round-trip sailings from Athens, Greece, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten on the MoanaThe line is offering savings of 50% off standard cruise fares on all 2016 voyages of both ships, plus included airfare from Los Angeles on Paul Gauguin itineraries.

Princess Cruises’ 2016 vacations in Europe will feature five ships sailing to over 130 destinations from the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of the continent.  Guests can choose from itineraries ranging from three to 48 days on ships ranging from the line’s newest and largest, Royal Princess and Regal Princess, to its Caribbean Princess, Emerald Princess and small ship Pacific Princess, which will be assigned to visit “off-the-beaten path” destinations.  The 2016 season will include a return to the Canary Islands and maiden ports of call for Princess in Croatia, Ireland, Norway and Scotland.  Furthermore, six of the line’s ships will sail Alaska’s scenic wonderland in 2016, offering multiple itinerary options, onboard native cultural experiences and a variety of land and sea vacation packages for exploring the 49th state’s interior.  The line’s signature “Voyage of the Glaciers” itinerary will be offered on Coral Princess, Star Princess and Island Princess between Whittier and Vancouver, while cruises through the Inside Passage will be offered aboard Ruby Princess and Crown Princess from Seattle and Grand Princess from San Francisco.  All 2016 Princess Europe and Alaska cruises will open for bookings on March 19.

Scenic Cruises is offering new 16-day “Vienna to the Danube Delta” itineraries docking in five capital cities:  Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Belgrade (Serbia) and Bucharest (Romania), in addition to smaller towns and villages along the route.

Tauck:  Members of the Tauck family, the company’s employees, board members and key partner-suppliers gathered recently at Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies for a four-day celebration to kick off Tauck’s 90th anniversary this year.  In all, nearly 500 people attended the February 6–9 event, which centered around a theme of “Celebrate 90. Imagine One Hundred,” reflecting on Tauck’s history and heritage, underscoring the principles that have guided the company since Arthur Tauck, Sr.’s first tour in 1925, and envisioning what Tauck will look like when it marks its 100th anniversary in ten years.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced that their 2016 cruises and journeys are open for booking, along with significant early-booking savings.  Uniworld has added more all-inclusive European river cruises to their portfolio and has increased their multi-generational, family-friendly programs.  The company will also expand into a new destination, India, with a new all-suite ship, Ganges Voyager II, and will increase their departures in Egypt. An online 2016 “preview” brochure is available at    

Viking River Cruises will be entering the domestic river cruising market in 2017, when the first two of six initial, 300-passenger vessels are scheduled to be home-ported in New Orleans for sailings on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  Plans call for two additional ships to join Viking’s Louisiana-based fleet in both 2018 and 2019.  All vessels will be built in the U.S., carry U.S. crews, and fly the American flag.