CHOOSING A CRUISE IS A COMPLEX BUSINESS, a talk by Malcolm Ginsberg is available. Contact him for more email@example.com and 07973 210631 www.ginsberg.co.uk
The big news this month is the return of 6-star Crystal Cruises under the guardianship of the British Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) Travel Group. The first sailing is the Mediterranean cruise of Crystal Serenity on 31 July from Marseille and Crystal Symphony, scheduled to depart 1 September from Athens. Serenity ports in Southampton from Lisbon on 22 August, and then takes in Plymouth the next day (see below) before visiting Cork, Holyhead, Isle of Man and Londonderry, completing the voyage in Reykjavik (Iceland). By the time of the first sailing some exciting news of Crystal’s future plans might be available.
Plymouth, some would say, Britain’s prettiest port, ought to be busier than it has been cruise ship wise, but that is in the past.
This is all about to change with Plymouth City Council officially handing over to Cattewater Harbour Commissioners (an official title) the Barbican Landing Stage. This is close by the Mayflower Steps from where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked on their historic voyage to North America. Cruise ships will now be even more welcome to moor in Plymouth Sound and ferry holidaymakers virtually into the centre of the city made famous by Drake in the reign of Elizabeth I, and which sent the first ever woman to Parliament, Nancy Astor, born American, in 1919. What a way to arrive in Devon (or perhaps the UK).
Cruise ships are not new to Plymouth, but rare compared to the offshore mooring at Guernsey with 60 arrivals in a normal year. Smaller vessels, typically Fred Olsen’s Braemar, will berth in the unsightly Millbay Docks later in 2023, but with the new arrangement growth is expected in the coming years. Unlike other offshore mooring ports, Plymouth South is not normally subject to the vagaries of the weather. A ship’s tender will take about ten minutes. Passengers like this way of arriving and it breaks the monotony for the crew.
Captain Richard Allan, Harbour Master and CEO of the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, said: “We are really pleased that after so long the decision on the Barbican Landing Stage has now been ratified. We have plans for significant investment in the facility, and this decision by Plymouth City Council allows us to unlock that funding. We have worked up, fully costed designs in place which we can now progress that will look to extend the pontoons and open it up to a wider range of users.
CRUISE CALLS AT PLYMOUTH 2023
|SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY
With something less than 200 holidaymakers per ship, river cruising is back in a big way, the business decimated by Covid in 2020 and 2021 with the European borders mostly closed. Here is a selection of what is on offer followed by a listing of river cruise operators.
The highest rated performer in Douglas Ward's River Cruising in Europe and the USA, AmaWaterways (AMA) have introduced for 2023 a short five night only Danube cruise which explores the old-world grandeur of Europe’s most spectacular capital cities along the river highway, visiting Budapest (Hungary), Bratislava (Slovakia) and Vienna (Austria) There is a choice of up to five included excursions per day.
From Strauss’s The Blue Danube to Mozart’s Linz Symphony, the Danube River has inspired countless musicians throughout the centuries. On this incredible classical music-themed journey, guests will be treated to a variety of live performances by renowned musicians, as well as exclusive musical experiences, as they travel some of the most spectacular capitals.
Family-owned and operated for over 20 years, AMA will offer 26 custom-designed ships sailing Europe’s Danube, Douro, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhône, Saône, Seine, Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, and Dutch and Belgian Waterways.
A brand new Christmas itinerary sails from Budapest to Giurgiu (Romania).
Emerald Cruises offers this summer six European rivers. The focus of the on board luxury is a swimming pool that transforms into a cinema at the stern of the ship. New additions to the programme include a 11-day Danube river cruise from Passau to Belgrade. Guests sailing in 2023 will also be able to enjoy new city stay extensions in Copenhagen, Munich (including Oktoberfest), and Seville. Prices include flights, transfers, most shore excursions, all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi and gratuities. Sister company Scenic bills itself as six-star luxury with butlers and other embellishments. Scenic River Cruises also sail on several more rivers in France than Emerald and is adding two new itineraries, including the 8-day Charming Castles and Vineyards voyage on the Rhine and Moselle, a host of fresh excursions and two new Christmas sailings.
Best known for its deep sea cruise liners Saga is now developing the river cruise market with three purpose-built ‘Spirit class’ river ships – Spirit of the Danube, Spirit of the Rhine and Amadeus Elegant which is joining the fleet in May. Collectively they operate on the Rhine, Danube, Main, Moselle and, with Amadeus Elegant’s arrival thanks to its boutique size, the Saar. The new craft offers guests the opportunity to experience smaller and more unusual docking places such as Zell on the Moselle, which are not practical for larger ships. Saga offers a complimentary chauffeur drive, a no-fly option on selected departures and holidaymakers have also join via Eurostar from St Pancras. Only over 50s, with the ships and land programmes tailored to that market.
In 2023 Tauck will operate 30 European river cruise itineraries in Europe, on the Douro, Danube, Rhone, Rhine, Seine, Moselle, Saone and Main rivers. Included in the company’s river cruise collection are six Tauck Bridges trips, designed specifically for families (on the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Seine and Douro), Christmas market cruises, and a themed cruise exploring classical music along the Danube. Tauck’s river cruises are fully inclusive (with zero options sold), and each leverages the company’s 98 years of expertise providing award-winning land tours to deliver a superior destination experience. And even though Tauck intentionally limits the capacity on its river boats to as few as 84 guests, it still staffs each ship with a Tauck Cruise Director and three Tauck Director guides to ensure the highest levels of service.
Sailing Europe’s historical rivers, identical Viking Longships offer a variety of stateroom categories and true two-room suites with full-size verandas. Onboard amenities include a restaurant, bar and lounge, library and expansive sun deck. The ships feature al fresco dining on the revolutionary indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, elegant Scandinavian design and environmentally considerate features, such as solar panels, an onboard organic herb garden and energy-efficient hybrid engines for a remarkably smooth ride. European river voyages range from 8 to 23 days, with itineraries featuring Europe’s Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine, Rhône, Douro, Moselle, Elbe, Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers.
Viva Cruises will christen its new flagship Viva Two on 23 March. Godmother will be Shiri Gordon, CEO and co-owner of the Tel Aviv-based leading tour operator The Gordon Travel Group and long-time partner of Viva Cruises and its parent company, Scylla AG.
|River Cruise Company
|• A-Rosa Cruises
|• Avalon waterways.co.uk
|• CroisiEurope Cruises
|• Emerald Waterways
|• English Holiday Cruises
|• European Waterways
|• Hebridean Island Cruises
|• Majestic Line
|• Riviera Travel
|• SAGA River Cruises
|• Scenic River Cruises
|• Swiss Excellence River Cruises
|• Tauck European River Cruising
|• Tui River Cruises
|• Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
|• Viking River Cruises
|• Viva Cruises
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