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Ponant Partners With National Geographic

clock 1st October 2018 | comment0 Comments

The only French cruise line, Ponant is still relatively niche with British cruisers despite sailing luxury yacht cruises all around the world since 1988, offering bilingual, all-inclusive sailings to Alaska, the Indian Ocean and even the Amazon River. Having said this, with National Geographic selecting Ponant as their partner cruise line, we are set to see Ponant emerge fully onto the already growing British cruise market

Beating off fierce competition from their competitors such as Seabourn and Silversea in a partnership said be worth around 200 million euros, National Geographic was impressed by Ponant’s upholding of the non-profit organisation’s three core principles of adventure, education, and conservation.

 

 

With their luxury explorer yachts named after famous French explores, Laperouse, Champlain, Bougainville, Dumont-D’Urville, Surville and Bellot, Ponant are trailblazers when it comes to adventure and expedition cruising. Their small yachts have hull draughts of less than five metres, meaning Ponant’s fleet of luxury yachts can go closer to nature than other ships. Plus their new icebreaker, le Charcot, is the world’s first officially classified, cruising icebreaker-class ship. Their fantastic Blue Eye lounge even lets you be immersed in nature while aboard the ships too. The multi-sensory lounge is located 2.5 metres below sea level, and features a window in each side of the ship to gaze through, as well as hydrophones, and vibrating furniture to pick up and immerse you in your surroundings.

Education also plays a large part of the Ponant cruise experience. To fully appreciate the wonders you are seeing each day, Ponant provides fantastic lectures and excursions led by expert guides. Now in partnership with National Geographic, many of these excursions and presentations will be hosted by one of National Geographic’s own naturalists and photographers. Ponant are also dedicated to the communities they work with around the world, and take pride in showing their guests the real lives of people who live at one with nature. Experiences include everything from local aboriginal dances in Australasia to cooking seal outdoors with a native Alaskan fisherman. The partnership with National Geographic gives these communities even more of a chance to flourish.

 

Conservation is another factor that’s important to Ponant, and influences the creation of their life-changing itineraries and the design of their yachts. With their new icebreaker, le Charcot, Ponant are the first line to not only have a genuine icebreaker, but also have a hybrid powered cruise yacht with liquid natural gas engine. The result is a noise and toxin pollutant-free sailing, a dynamic positioning system rather than anchors that destroy fragile seabed ecosystems, energy saving lighting, liquid refrigeration, and even pollutant free paint. Ponant and National Geographic share a mission of showing the present generation the wonders of our world, and preserving it for those in future.

The amazing sailings from 31 July 2018 will go to all corners of the planet, from the poles to the tropics. Check out our Ponant sailings with National Geographic and start your adventure here.



Discover the Danube with AmaWaterways

clock 23rd August 2018 | comment0 Comments

When Kate from our marketing team got the opportunity to experience an AmaWaterways river cruise on the Danube, she was keen to jump at the chance. The trip was a 7-night adventure onboard AmaSerena, from Vilshofen to Budapest. Countries en route included Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Having never been to these places before, Kate was excited to see the culture and spirit of each destination. Thankfully, with AmaWaterways excursions are included, so she had plenty of opportunities to get to know every town and village on the way. Here’s what she made of her experience of AmaWaterways’ excursions.

 

 

I found there is plenty of choice when it comes to opportunities and experiences with AmaWaterways. Included tours and excursions were available in each port, or you could also explore at your own leisure, either on foot or with one of the ship’s bikes. The options ranged in fitness level, start time, and activity, from castle hikes and cycle trips to walking tours, and tastings. We opted for the slightly more active excursions including hikes, which also included brief city tours too. The hikes were amazing taking you high above each town for absolutely astounding views, and the local guides were excellent.

 

Germany

Passau

Here we opted for the castle hike, and I’m so glad we did. It was stunning. From the heights of Passau’s castle, you could see out across the Bavarian and Bohemian forests, and you also had an excellent vantage point for seeing where the three rivers – Danube, Ilz, and Inn – converge.

 

Austria

Durnstein

After enjoying the hike in Passau, we decided to go for another one in Durnstein. This hike was just as impressive, though a bit of a higher fitness level is definitely required, on this hike you could actually climb to the castle where Richard the Lionheart was held captive and stand upon the ruins.

Linz

In Linz, we opted for a morning bike ride along the ‘Culture Mile’, which was an informative and fun way of getting to all the hotspots and sights of the city including the Ars Electronica Center, Lentos Kunstmuseum, the mighty cathedral, and both the new and old town squares.

 

 

Lake District

This was by far one of the best excursions! The guide on the coach getting there was great, giving lots of information about the area, and when we finally arrived at the first lake I was truly in awe. After a brief tour we were let loose to wander at leisure, and of course, we had to dip our toes in the beautiful Moon Lake. A few scenic drives and lakes later it was safe to say we were exhausted from such a long and brilliant day. It really is impossible to describe the magnitude of the beauty here.

Vienna

In Vienna, we opted for the ‘active walkers’ city tour, which takes in a few more sights than the gentle group. We had a guided drive on the Ringtrasse where our guide brought history to life with each building! After the tour, we opted to stay in the city and explore for ourselves, from the Cathedral to the Strauss Statue, and plenty of gardens in-between. After some much-deserved strudel, we headed back to the pickup point, where shuttle buses arrived every half an hour to go back to the ship.

The pièce de résistance in Vienna had to be the optional Mozart & Strauss Concert in the evening. This was at an additional cost but was worth every penny. Everyone dressed for the affair and the music was sublime, but it’s not all serious - there were a few comedic moments in the performance too.

 

Slovakia

Bratislava

We enjoyed panoramic views of the Wachau Valley as we sailed to Bratislava, whilst listening to incredible commentary from our brilliant Cruise Manager. Arriving in Bratislava, we opted for the tasting and brewery tour where we got to sample three local beers and delicious, traditional Slovakian snacks.

 

Hungary

Budapest

 

 

When we reached Budapest, we chose to take part in the city tour, to try to cover as much as possible in this beautiful city. In total, we were out for around 4 hours and still didn’t see everything! The Pest side is like a classic cosmopolitan city reminding me of London with a lot of history and character, but a walk over the bridge to Buda is a must as well. This side of the bridge is another world entirely, especially if you head up to the castle. Here you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy-tale, with spires and towers and incredible views.

With at least three excursion options every day, it’s clear that the crew at AmaWaterways think of everything. If you’re feeling inspired to get out and see Europe on a river cruise, why not browse through our range of AmaWaterways Danube cruises and see this gorgeous region for yourself.



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!



    Historic Cruise Excursions in Normandy France

    clock 7th November 2017 | comment0 Comments

    European countries generally have a very varied and interesting history, and France is of course no exception. For many people, a cruise in France means relaxing in warm weather, seeing some picturesque scenery, and indulging in delectable French treats such as delicious wine and incredible cheeses and pastries. While this is undoubtedly a fantastic way to experience France, it is also worth considering the wide variety of optional - and often complimentary - historic excursions, which are available on many itineraries.

    One brilliant, excursion-rich region is Normandy. A natural first port of call after leaving the UK, many cruises to France include a stop here. Ports include Cherbourg and La Harve, and both are in close proximity to a number of important sites that you could have the chance to visit;

     

  • The landing beaches of World War II. See the infamous sites where British, Canadian, and American troops arrived to invade on D-Day.
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  • Normandy cemeteries. This opportunity is pensive and moving, as you see the extent of the loss of life caused by war.
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  • Pegasus Bridge. This played an integral part in the events that make up D-Day; it's where British troops were sent to prevent Germans from accessing and attacking the allied forces.
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    Many cruise lines will offer excursions to these locations, complete with informative guides who will explain the significance they had during the war. But in addition to these, Normandy offers several opportunities to learn about earlier French history.

    Bayeux

    One fascinating spot is the commune of Bayeux - home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry. This medieval location still boasts cobbled streets, traditional beamed-housing, and the 1077 Cathedrale Notre-Dame. Not to mention the stunning tapestry itself. This important, 69 metre long record of the Norman conquest of England is on display at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, and is an absolute must if you are in the area.

    Cherbourg

    The port of Cherbourg has played a major role in the history of France. In the Contentin peninsular, this area of France has several harbours which you can visit for another snippet of a bygone era. Over the years, there have been Celts, Romans, and Saxons in Cherbourg, but it is the Viking invasion that is most well-known. Its history is indicative of its strategic position, which has led to Cherbourg being fortified and repaired a number of times. Unsurprisingly, the city was heavily damaged in World War II, but once again it survived and continues to thrive today.

    Rouen

    Once the capital city of Normandy, Rouen remains an important location, that is steeped in history. Travel the route of the Vikings along the Seine on a river cruise, and explore the place either individually or on an excursion. Since the Viking incursion, Rouen has seen some major historic events, including the famous burning of Joan of Arc by British conquerors. Also having suffered major destruction during the war, there are important sites and memorials here that are both interesting and thought-provoking.

    Those curious about France's past, or even those who are interested in World War II, may not have realised just how much a cruise in this area can offer. Whether you're a history buff or not, a trip around Normandy will undoubtedly leave you feeling fascinated and enlightened after each excursion.



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