We are lucky enough to be heading back to Europe early next week for our first River Cruise experience with AmaWaterways. Around a wonderful 7-day itinerary that sails from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam in the Netherlands we will also be spending time in Zurich and Berlin. We have certainly been spoiled with this summers travel, but there is a serious side to it, and we will enjoy a "seminar on the river" to help us grow our group travel side of the company. Yes, we do book and plan for large groups, both family and corporate!
Expect another couple of trip reports for the 2 other blog posts. For this week, I will focus on developments in the world of cruising in the small luxury ship market which is enjoying a huge boom of both new and younger travelers and the building of more incredible and exciting ships.
TOP 5 NEW SMALL LUXURY CRUISE DEVELOPMENTS
1. Scenic Eclipse World's First Discovery Yacht
Launching in summer 2018 Scenic Eclipse will set a new standard in ocean cruising in terms of technology, size and luxury (above). State-of-the-art safety features will unlock destinations others can only dream of. Designed to deliver the ultimate experience of a lifetime for only 228 guests, and only 200 in the Arctic and Antarctica, Scenic Eclipse will take ocean cruising to a whole new level – marrying luxury, discovery and safety, and giving guests the opportunity to explore above and beyond what was previously imaginable.
2. Ritz-Carlton (below)
Ritz Carlton Cruises will launch in 2019 with three of their own spectacular luxury yachts. Though not as adventurous itineraries as the Scenic offering will be sailed, the focus on luxury will be absolute. Catering to just 298 passengers each, they will be exclusive and demand is likely to outstrip supply.
3. Amandira (below)
Probably where Ritz Carlton got their idea, Aman resorts have recently launched the Amandira, a super luxury vessel, with just 5 cabins on board. Aman are a luxury based hotel group headquartered in Singapore with gorgeous properties in 31 different countries. Amandira conducts expeditions of the greater Indonesian archipelago and has an itinerary that includes the volcanic isles of Komodo National Park, yes, where the dragons are!
For those who can't wait until 2019, Seabourn have the answer for you now. Launched just this spring Seabourn Encore is currently the most modern and most acclaimed vessel in the ultra-luxury segment. A sister ship will launch in 2018 and itineraries include Australia and New Zealand early in 2018, Indonesia and SE Asia, and then the Mediterranean for most of the second half of the year.
The luxury end of the river cruise market continues to grow apace, as the demographics shift quite dramatically to younger travelers. The Crystal Bach was launched this very week and is the first of 4 Rhine based vessels from the luxury cruise line. They will be all-balcony, all-suite vessels, and each of its butler-serviced accommodations will be positioned above the waterline.
TRAVEL TIP OF THE WEEK
If you do ever take a European cruise, river or ocean, please consider extending at either end by at least a night or two.
1. It will help you over any jetlag before you board the ship, which can make a journey far more enjoyable as jetlag is an underestimated beast.
2. The extra cultural benefit of seeing a port or city in detail is significant.
3. It could be that flights are less expensive if you are not on the Saturday in and out flights. Sometimes this is enough to cover the extra nights hotel costs!
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