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Is River Cruising for You?

clock 23rd August 2018 | comment0 Comments

Over the years river cruising has become an increasingly popular way to see the world, in a relaxed setting. This is evident in the fact that more than 150 river cruise itineraries have been launched in the last 5 years alone. But what is it all about? Read on to find out if river cruising is for you.

 

 

A Quick Overview of River Cruising

 

River cruise ships are much smaller than ocean cruise ships, which is often what attracts people to travel onboard. In many cases the smaller size means guests are more personally catered for, and truly receive that flawless service that you might not get on a ship of over 3,000 passengers. River cruise ships general accommodate between 100-200 people; creating a perfect, intimate experience.

The size of the vessel also creates a completely different kind of cruise holiday where destinations are concerned. The ships traverse the world’s rivers, which often pass through integral inland cities, such as Paris, Budapest, and Cairo. On a river cruise you will usually visit a new port each day, and possibly more than one a day sometimes. This means you might visit an incredible four or five countries in just one week, which is very uncommon on ocean cruises.

 

 

What’s Life Onboard Like on a River Cruise?

 

With fewer people onboard, river cruise ships are generally comfortable and intimate, but with plenty of space for everyone. Usually, you’ll find a restaurant, one or two lounges, and a deck on top with loungers, a bar, and sometimes a pool.

Generally all meals onboard are included, complete with complimentary drinks such as wine, beer, and soft drinks at dinner times. Along with those drinks, you’ll often have unlimited coffee, tea, and bottled water. During meal times there is open seating, so you are able to sit where you like each night. Tables are usually arranged to sit between six and ten guests, so you’ll be able to mingle with and get to know fellow cruisers more easily.

 

 

The dress code onboard is laid back, with no formal requirement. However, it is suggested that you bring at least one smart outfit, to wear at events like the Captain’s reception and gala dinners. You should also bring comfortable shoes and clothing due to the extensive menu of excursions, which range from castle hikes and bike rides to walking tours and wine tastings.

Entertainment on river cruises varies depending on the vessel and destination. Most river cruise lines prioritise the destination rather than onboard entertainment, as the itineraries are so port-intensive. This doesn’t mean there is nothing happening onboard however. You’ll often find a pianist playing during cocktail hour and after dinner, and many lines invite local entertainers onboard to provide a culture show of some sort.

 

What Are Excursions Like with River Cruising?

 

Excursions are a huge part of river cruising, so much so that generally all of them are included in the overall cost of the cruise. This is great because often excursions can tally up to a significant sum on an ocean cruise. This is one of the main attractions of this type of holiday to many frequent river cruisers.

 

 

The excursions themselves are designed to highlight the local culture and history of the port you’re stopping in. So if you are someone who enjoys getting out and about and discovering new things, know that river cruising creates captivating, unforgettable memories with truly insightful opportunities. You could visit a local orphanage in Southeast Asia, go to a cookery demonstration in Africa, or see some important World War II sites on a European river cruise, to name just a few.

 

Why should Ocean Cruisers try a River Cruise?

 

Many fans of ocean cruising will find themselves thinking about a river cruise at one time or another, so here’s why we think you should take the plunge and give river cruising a try.

 

  • The inclusions in your fare. All your food, free-flowing wine and beer at dinner, and all your excursions are completely taken care of.
  • The size of the ship. Whilst some ocean cruisers love the city-like feel of a liner that can take over 5,000 passengers, we promise you will enjoy the personal service and intimate surroundings of a river ship.
  • There are almost no days without a port stop. You’ll never find yourself bored on the ship with nothing to do, as river cruise ships do most of their travelling at night.
  • The number of destinations. Just about every day you can get out and about and discover somewhere new. With some excursions starting as early as 7am, no time at all is wasted.
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    Would a river cruise float your boat? There are countless top-class river cruise lines sailing Europe, Asia and beyond, including Emerald Waterways, Saga River Cruises, AmaWaterways, and more,so you'll find countless itineraries to choose from. For sailings tailored around a specific country, try Discover Egypt and Pandaw River Cruises, both offering excellent knowledge and guidance throughout their journeys.

    For those who have previously cruised on ocean-ships, many cruise lines have brought their fantastic service to the river, such as Thomson-Marella. With TUI River Cruises sailing the waterways of Europe, you will enjoy your favourite cruise line on a smaller, more intimate scale.

    If you're still undecided you can also find out more about first-hand river cruise experiences, with this customer review onboard Emerald Waterways, or get in touch with our expert team for more advice!



    Cruising for Wine Lovers

    clock 7th February 2018 | comment0 Comments

    Cruising and wine are two interests that make a perfect pairing. Not only can most cruise lines transport you to notable wine districts all over the world, but many also bring wine tastings, presentations, and experiences onboard as well. If you consider yourself something of a connoisseur, or even just enjoy a simple glass every now and then but would like to learn more, there are a number of destinations and types of cruises that could be right for you.

    European Cruises

    When it comes to European wines there are an incredible number of places worth exploring. Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Portugal are generally the most popular, but just about every country produces their own blend – not forgetting the UK. Try a punchy local Rioja in southern Spain on a Mediterranean cruise, or a classic Riesling on the Rhine on a German river cruise; wine lovers will not be disappointed in Europe– especially with most cruise lines offering various wine-themed excursions.

     

     

    Celebrity Cruises

    This popular cruise line has partnered up with Channel 5’s The Wine Show, to bring guests some extra special wine-related experiences. Presenters Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer have put together a series of recommended excursions – including vineyard tours and tastings across Europe. They will also often appear onboard to host talks and tastings on the ship. Celebrity Cruises also boast an enviable collection of rare wines at sea, and an expert team of sommeliers.

     

    Australasia Cruises

    Although Australian wine came pretty late into the game considering the history of wine in other regions, its popularity has seen a dramatic rise in recent years. In fact it is now the fourth biggest exporter of wine in the world. There are wine regions all over the vast country, including around Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne. In the Adelaide Hills alone there are around 50 different wineries, and you’ll find cruise excursions taking you to tastings in several of these, with a delicious gourmet lunch included too.

     

     

    Cunard: Queen Mary 2

    Cunard offer a unique cruising opportunity onboard QM2, in that guests can earn themselves a Level 1 or 2 Award in Wines; a recognised qualification in the wine industry. These are gained by spending time learning about oenology with the help of sommeliers, and renowned global winemakers who are brought onboard. You can expect tutored wine tastings, production workshops, fine wine seminars, and more. Port lovers will be especially delighted with the impressive array of 46 vintage ports in the Carinthia Lounge.

    California Cruises

    Around 90% of North American wine is produced in the sunny state of California – another popular cruise destination. A number of round-the-world, America, and even Caribbean cruises include stops in California, and ports like San Francisco are a great place to spend a few extra days on a cruise and stay holiday. Visit the glorious wine regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley for some brilliant wine experiences, either on an excursion or individually. Horse-riding here is a very special and memorable way to explore the vineyards.

     

     

    APT River Cruises

    For those who seek a cruise spent truly immersed in oenology, APT River Cruises’ Wine Series is a fabulous option. The line has collaborated with the winemakers of Australia’s First Families of Wine, in order to provide some wonderful wine-themed experiences on their selection of Wine Series cruises. Wine ambassadors will be onboard to host each river cruise, on which they will give talks about traditional wine-making in Europe, and of course wine tastings and meals with paired wines. These cruises take place in the wine regions of Europe, and include visits to various vineyards.

    South Africa Cruises

    A cruise in Africa is a fantastic and exhilarating opportunity to experience some of the most wonderful and unique aspects of our world. As well as new scenery, food, and of course culture, if your cruise includes a stop in South Africa, you’re in for a treat where wine is concerned as well. With 17th century European settlers came wine-making, and so viticulture here is in fact older than you might expect. Many cruise lines offer some brilliant wine-themed excursions, including tastings, tours of famous wine estates, and of course the chance to buy some exquisite bottles.

     

     

    Please remember to drink responsibily when enjoying wine or other alcoholic beverages.



    So You Think You Know the Canary Islands?

    clock 29th January 2018 | comment0 Comments

    Cruising in the Canaries is hugely popular among holidaymakers for a number of reasons. The islands offer some stunning scenery, delicious food, relaxing beaches, and a whole world of interesting anecdotes, traditions, and snippets from history! While many Brits have been to at least one of the islands, there are so many things that remain unknown to its visitors. You may think yourself an expert on the Canary Islands, but did you know these ten interesting facts?

     

     

    1. The word ‘Canaries’ has derived from the Latin word, ‘Canaria’, meaning dog. It’s thought that the name was attributed because early European settlers found wild dogs on the island, or Roman explorers chose it because of the nearby seals - which they called sea dogs.

    2. The most popular sport in this part of the world is known as Lucha Canaria – a form of traditional wresting. Dating back to the 15th century, Canarian wrestling can still be seen in full swing in many venues across the islands.

    3. While the small, yellow Canary birds are native to the islands, many people don’t realise that it is they who are named after the land, rather than the other way around.

     

     

    4. The total population of all the Canary Islands is just over 2 million, but this popular holiday destination generally sees more than 12 million tourists every year!

    5. Admiral Lord Nelson is most famous for his military action against the French, but it was actually in the Canaries that he lost his right arm – at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

    6. At the time of writing, La Palma is home to the world’s largest working telescope. It’s situated at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, and has a mirror of just over 34 feet (10.4 metres) in diameter.

     

     

    7. Various parts of Spain – including Tenerife, La Palma, and Gran Canaria – maintain the ‘Burial of the Sardine’, or ‘Entierro de la sardina’, tradition to end carnival events. This ceremony dates back many centuries, and involves a symbolic portrayal of burning or burying a fish.

    8. The aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands are known as Guanches, who hailed from the North African Berber people. It’s thought that they migrated to the islands in around the year 1000 BC.

    9. The Canary Islands were a common stop on journeys between the Americas and Europe. This means that there are culinary influences here from all over the world, and produce such as potatoes, beans, and avocados were all introduced from South America.

     

     

    10. The ancient whistling language of La Gomera – known as Silbo Gomera – is still used and even taught in schools here today. It was originally created to help communicate across the hilly terrain.

    There is much more to the Canary Islands than first meets the eye, but take the time to explore it, and get to know some of the locals, and you will find a land of intrigue and rich history. Take a look at our range of cruises to the Canary Islands and discover more on your next holiday.



    River Cruising at Christmas

    clock 13th December 2017 | comment0 Comments

    The infamous European Christmas markets are right on our doorstep, and yet so many Brits are yet to see them. With cities like Cologne, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Copenhagen all offering some of the best options around, it can be difficult to decide just where to visit when you do finally make the decision to go! One way to remedy this, however, is to opt for a river cruise in December. This way it’s possible to see multiple destinations on one trip.

     

    Which Christmas markets can I see?

    Europe is not short of waterways by any means, and as such there are a number of strategically-positioned, important cities that can be accessed on a river cruise. In December, The Rhine, The Danube, The Rhone, and The Seine are just some of the most popular rivers that can transport you to some incredible winter wonderlands. The Rudesheim market, in The Rhine valley boasts over 100 stalls with gifts and treats from all over the world, Budapest on The Danube offers a traditional Hungarian feel, and of course in Paris on The Seine visitors will find delicious crepes, tartiflette, and all manner of keepsakes. These are just a handful of the top Christmas markets you could see.

    Can I bring my children?

    While most river cruise lines are designed for adults, in general children are also welcome onboard. Amawaterways have taken steps to make their ships more family-friendly, by introducing adjoining staterooms on both AmaViola and AmaStella. Tauck River Cruises and Uniworld River Cruises are also slightly more geared towards children than some other river cruise lines, offering excursions like scavenger hunts and family bike rides. Selected Uniworld ships also offer a games room for kids and activities like craft workshops and cookery lessons which can be especially fun at Christmas. It is worth keeping in mind however, that some Christmas market locations can get very busy, and can involve a considerable amount of walking, so it’s important to consider this if bringing children.

     

    What’s it like for solo travellers?

    River cruising can be a fantastic option for solo travellers, owing to the extremely relaxed and sociable atmosphere onboard. Generally, river cruise ships have multiple public lounges where entertainment such as live music and quizzes will take place. This makes it all the more easy to meet fellow cruisers and converse with new friends. Excursions on these cruises are also perfect for solo travellers. Take part in an organised group tour of a new city and, of course, its Christmas markets. River cruise lines like Scenic River Cruises and Avalon Waterways often do great deals for solo travellers too.

    Are there other Christmassy things to do?

    While river cruises in December do have a real focus on European Christmas markets, there are other festive things to do and see in these beautiful cities. When you’ve had your fill of gluwhein and pretty trinket stalls, take a look around and you will find all sorts of other activities. Why not show off your skills on the ice rink on the Champs-Elysees, sip on a hot chocolate while becoming enchanted by the twinkling lights and decorations in Vienna, or admire the magnificence of German Christmas trees – or Tannenbaum – in Cologne.

     

     

    River cruises in December can be anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your preference and time limitations. Considering this, and the wide selection of destinations, dates, and types of cruise, it is usually possible to find a European Christmas market cruise to suit everyone.



    How might Brexit affect your annual holiday?

    clock 22nd June 2016 | comment0 Comments

    On Thursday 23rd June 2016 the EU Referendum (commonly referred to as Brexit) will take place to decide Britain’s future in the European Union. Those eligible to vote on Thursday include British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK, plus British expats living abroad for less than 15 years.

    Many stats, reports, theories and facts have been put to the voting public backing LEAVE or REMAIN; discussing the potential impact on trade, education, health, finance, economics, migration, travel and much more.

    One big question voters have on their minds (us cruise fans included) is how might Brexit affect our annual holiday to Europe? Below are a few responses currently doing the rounds on the nation’s hottest holiday topic.

     

     

    ”May lead to increased costs for the travelling public” – Mark Tanzer, CEO ABTA

    ABTA, the UK’s largest travel association and well known trusted travel brand released a report alongside Deloitte titled What Brexit might mean for UK Travel. The report looks at the current circumstances concerning travel and holidays with Britain in the EU, as well as the likely impact should Britain decide to leave.

    Key findings suggest that Brexit could jeopardise the free movement and flow of travel between the UK and EU. The value of sterling could also be impacted, making foreign currency destinations and the cost of a holiday to Europe more expensive for UK travellers.

    “Assume European airfares are going to go up” – Andrew Swaffield, Monarch Airlines CEO

     In an interview with the BBC, Monarch Airlines Chief Executive Andrew Swaffield says that “we can reasonably assume that European airfares are going to go up if we leave the EU”. Referencing the freedom of well-known low cost airlines and their ability to operate due to EU backing and agreements.

    “Fewer allocated aircrafts for the UK” – Michael O’Leary, Ryanair CEO

     When asked about capital expenditure plans, budget airline boss Michael O’Leary told Bloomberg news this morning that “there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we will allocate fewer aircrafts to the UK in the next number of years if they vote to leave the European Union”.

    “The EHIC European Health Insurance Card could become invalid” – EHIC

    EHIC (replacement of the E111) currently provides card holders with access to medical treatments in most countries in the European Union. On their official website, EHIC states that if Britain leaves the EU they may also leave the European Economic Area (EEA), which would result in the loss of benefits for card holders.

     

    One thing to remember is that no one has a crystal ball when it comes to Brexit and your vote will no doubt take into consideration a number of important factors that matter most to you. It has also been widely reported that the true effects of Brexit could take up to two years to materialise, so your impending holiday plans shouldn't need to change.

    For more information on the developments of Brexit and its potential impact on the cruise industry and your future holiday, check out our up-to-date Brexit cruise guide.

    Got a comment regarding the future of EU holidays and the referendum? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



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