THE ABTA MAGAZINE GUIDE TO
Rise of small ships The joy of ex-UK Sailing the Elbe
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THE ABTA MAGAZINE GUIDE TO
Holidaymakers take the plunge
nce a tiny part of the travel industry, cruise has become a staple of the Great British holiday. More than two million passengers from the UK and Ireland took a cruise in 2018 – a record number. It is higher still when you include river cruise, an area that is experiencing a massive boom. While many preconceptions still exist about what a cruise entails, there are now more options than ever: from luxury yachts to family-friendly megaships, tiny river vessels and ice-strengthened expeditions ships, meaning there is no one definition of a cruise. With one of the highest retention rates in the industry, it is a lucrative area for sellers of travel: according to the Cruise Line International Association (Clia), nine in ten cruise passengers have said they would cruise again, meaning those “new-to-cruise” customers are most likely to become regular bookers. Increasingly, cruise lines are targeting these clients who are curious about ship-based travel but haven’t yet taken the plunge. Take a look at our On trend report on page 7 to see all the figures behind the incredible rise of cruise. The ABTA Magazine Guide to Cruise hopes to demonstrate the great diversity of cruise. In this issue, we take a look at small-ship cruise on page 14, and look at the alternative side of the Mediterranean, by far the most popular cruise destinations for Britons, picking itineraries and cruise lines that allow clients to see the region without the queues (page 12). Elsewhere, we take a closer look at Barbados, one of the blockbuster stops on Caribbean cruises (page 10), plus we take a cruise down the Elbe, the little-explored river that runs through northeastern Germany (page 16). We hope you enjoy reading this issue.
Rise of small ships The joy of ex-UK Sailing the Elbe
In the 2019 issue
Editor’s letter Welcome to this year’s ABTA Cruise Guide
Ports of call: Barbados Explore the sights and delights of this enduringly popular Caribbean destination
16 The ABTA Magazine Guide to Cruise is created by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA Waterfront Publishing 12-18 Hoxton Street London N1 6NG waterfront-publishing.com 020 3865 9360
Director Sam Ballard email@example.com Director Anthony Pearce firstname.lastname@example.org
On trend The facts and figures behind the biggest stories in cruise
Far from the Med-ing crowd Anthony Pearce shares alternative Mediterranean trips that avoid the hordes
Small wonders Sam Ballard looks at the big appeal and growing popularity of small-ship cruise
Beneath the surface The Elbe’s waterways drift through some of Europe’s most historical spots
The joy of ex-UK Avoid the hassles of flying by heading to a UK port and sailing to anywhere in the world
Set sail on safari The best ways to watch and wonder at Africa’s abundant wildlife
Sales manager Bryan Johnson email@example.com 020 3865 9338 Sales manager Emily Norris firstname.lastname@example.org 020 3865 4815 Head of design Billy Odell billy@ABTAmag.com Sub-editors Nathaniel Cramp, Emily Eastman
With thanks to: Heidi Fuller-love ABTAmag.com info@ABTAmag.com Twitter: @ABTAMagazine Facebook: ABTAMagazine
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On trend 2,009,000 For the UK and Irish market, the number of ocean cruises taken last year reached more than two million for the first time, hitting a record 2,009,000 in 2018 – up two per cent from 2017. The UK & Ireland is only the second European market to have reached this figure and the fourth globally.
32k 2018 saw a significant increase in the number of cruises taken in exploration destinations, such as the polar regions, the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica, with bookings growing from 22,000 in 2017 to 32,000 in 2018 – an increase of 44 per cent.
We reveal the numbers behind the biggest stories in cruise
The average cruise duration – indicating that British and Irish travellers enjoy longer cruises, with the number of 14day cruises taken last year increasing by five per cent, totalling 397,000.
149,000... The number of passengers taking one-to-three-day “taster cruises”, representing an increase of 29,000 in 2018. This suggests that new-to-cruise guests like to “try before they buy” when it comes to a cruise holiday.
Cruises in Europe remain the most popular choice for British and Irish holidaymakers, with the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Baltics accounting for almost 70 per cent of all cruises taken. The market is still dominated by the Big Three: the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Caribbean.
Data from the Cruise Review industry report, produced by Cruise Lines International Association (Clia)
Guide to Cruise
News May 2019
All the latest headlines from the world of cruise USA
New green partner for Virgin By Emily Eastman
Coral Expeditions launches new ship By Emily Eastman Coral Expeditions has launched its fourth and largest expedition ship, Coral Adventurer. Mark Fifield, group general manager at Coral Expeditions, said: “We have stuck to our conviction of a true expedition product, with capacity limited to only 120 guests so we do not dilute the guest experience.”
Virgin Voyages has partnered with manufacturer of sustainable products Emerald Brand to provide Tree-Free items on its ships when the line launches next year. Emerald Brand manufactures products including facial tissues, cups, paper towels and napkins from non-edible agricultural by-products, such as wheat and sugarcane stalks. These so-called Tree-Free goods are manufactured using material that is between 60 and 100 per cent Tree-Free. The materials would otherwise be discarded in a landfill or burnt in fields. The partnership begins on Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady. The line is one of the first to ban single-use plastics on board – part of a broad plan to fully embed sustainability into its business model. ABTAmag.com
Coral Adventurer’s maiden voyage is an 18-day expedition cruise through the Indonesian Archipelago, retracing the historic adventures of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Explaining how Coral’s trips combine expedition cruising with decades of experience, senior master Gary Wilson said: “Our itineraries are like no other … [We] take travellers even closer to places that haven’t been explored before.”
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Fares are per person, cruise only in UK sterling based on double occupancy in a deluxe suite and include port, security and handling charges, which vary by departure. All fares, offers and itineraries are subject to change and availability and can be withdrawn at any time. Fares may fluctuate and should be used as a guide only. Prices may go up or down. You should contact us on 0207 399 7603 before booking, or visit our website www.crystalcruises.co.uk. The fares are available to new bookings only and are only available to UK & Eire residents. Restrictions apply. See crystalcruises.co.uk for complete terms and conditions of all offers. ©209 Crystal Cruises, LLC. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. ( ) = Overnight stay
Guide to Cruise
Ports of call: Barbados H
ome to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, a Unesco World Heritagelisted capital and the sprawling, colourful Crop Over carnival, Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s most fascinating and enduringly popular destinations. The former colony, where English is the official language, is unsurprisingly popular among Brits and is connected to the UK by regular, direct British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights. The island has a wealth of hotels, world-famous beaches (all of which are public), and fantastic culture and cuisine. Visitors usually choose between the West and South Coasts as a
10 May 2019
base. The West Coast, also known as the Gold Coast, is made up of the parishes of St Peter, St Michael and St James, and is famed for its pristine and quiet beaches. Guests can choose between the likes of Brandons, Batts Rock, Fitts Village, Paynes Bay, Sandy Lane and Folkestone Park in St James, or Mullins Bay and Heywoods in St Peter. The upmarket St James is home to hotels such as the extravagant Sandy Lane, and welcomes celebrities including Simon Cowell, Mariah Carey and Bajan singer Rihanna, who grew up on the modest Westbury New Road (since renamed Rihanna Drive). The South Coast is known for its nightlife and water sports, and
is generally more affordable than some parts of the upscale West Coast. The North and East Coasts offer some of the island’s most majestic views, but are generally better suited for walking than for swimming, given the ferocity of the Atlantic waves. Carlisle Bay, just south of Bridgetown, is also a good bet. But given Barbados is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, it doesn’t take long to get from one end of the island to the other. Many will spend their days sunning themselves, but the historical sights in and around Bridgetown – such as the 19thcentury Parliament Buildings and the city’s synagogue – are worth exploring. Ten minutes outside the
Q&A with Kerrie Symmonds Minister of Tourism and International Transport How many Brits are coming to Barbados?
Last year we had 225,000 Brits visiting Barbados, which is just off the record of about 227,000. This year has been fantastic – for the first two months of the year it was almost impossible to find an empty hotel bed in Barbados because of the cricket. We’re on for our best year ever. That is just land-based, but cruise is doing well too. P&O is projecting a 15 per cent increase in its activities in Barbados.
It’s an informal programme to educate travel agents about Barbados. It has been reformatted and relaunched.
and Sea Cloud Cruises all begin itineraries in Barbados. The cruises tend to range from seven to 14 nights and take in the likes of the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, St Kitts and St Lucia. The cruise terminal is located in its capital, Bridgetown, found in the south-west of the country. The harbour is just 13 miles from the Grantley Adams International Airport, and transfers cost around £20. P&O Cruises, for example, charters flights to the country,
meaning customers are taken directly from the airport to the port, without having to wait around at passport control. The port itself has cafés, bars and shops, and is a 20-minute walk to the centre of town – or there’s a minibus shuttle, which costs £1.50. A walk will take in the impressive Cheapside Market, where vendors sell clothing, crafts, fruit, vegetables, spices and more. It’s busiest and most enjoyable on Saturday mornings.
We want to grow and diversify our homeporting operation.
FROM LAND TO SEA
Barbados is a key port of call on Caribbean cruises: the likes of P&O Cruises, Fred Olsen, Seabourn, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Star Clippers
Why should agents send customers to Barbados?
We are constantly trying to reinvent our product, partly because we have to tailor it to cruise guests who are visiting for perhaps just one day. We’ve recently reopened Sunbury Plantation House, which is about 350 years old. In the north there is St Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway. Another great attraction is Coco Hill Forest where you can take a hike, which is perfect for guests looking for soft adventure. I have done part of it and pledged to return to complete it!
What are your plans to grow cruise in Barbados?
city is the impressive George Washington House, where the US president once resided. It’s found in the Garrison area, once a British military base. Elsewhere, the Mount Gay Rum bottling plant hosts tours with tastings. There’s also the 17th-century St Nicholas Abbey, a plantation house, museum and distillery that’s one of only three Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere.
The best-performing agents to have completed the training will be taken to Barbados for a fam trip.
What can you tell us about the Elite Club?
May 2019 11
Guide to Cruise
Far from the Med-ing crowd The Mediterranean remains the most popular cruise choice for Brits, but there’s a lot more to it than you might think. Its sheer size and diversity of destinations allow for a number of alternative itineraries that avoid the overcrowded parts, writes Anthony Pearce
hile the Caribbean may be the most popular cruise destination worldwide, when it comes to the UK market the Mediterranean reigns supreme. According to Clia, between January and September last year UK guests took 444,000 cruises to the region – the majority as fly-cruises, but increasingly from UK ports. Broadly, these cruises are divided into west and east itineraries, with Barcelona, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Venice and Dubrovnik among the blockbuster hits. It’s no surprise then that these holidays are so popular, particularly during the summer months: who can resist these sun-kissed hotbeds of culture, civilisation and superb food? Nearly every major cruise line sails to the Mediterranean
12 May 2019
(with the notable exception of Carnival Cruise Line, which will return in 2020), with the likes of MSC Bellissima, Disney Magic, Celebrity Edge and the refitted Independence of the Seas operating there this summer. But it’s because of these famous ships, celebrated ports of call and the divide between western and eastern itineraries that it’s easy to oversimplify what a Mediterranean cruise entails. There is, in fact, an incredible amount of choice. When you study a map, it’s no surprise. The Mediterranean is a huge area: the sea covers 2,500,000 square kilometres, and is almost completely surrounded by land. Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Greece all have Mediterranean coastlines, as do Turkey, Israel,
Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and even Syria, Lebanon and Libya in north Africa and the Middle East; while Malta and Cyprus are island countries in the sea. As talk of overtourism in some of the Mediterranean’s bestknown ports continues, cruise lines are increasingly looking to offer alternatives. This summer, for example, Princess Cruises is operating an ex-UK sailing on Sapphire Princess that takes in Malaga, Corsica’s capital Ajaccio, Sète in France and Spanish/ Moroccan Ceuta. It departs July 27, from £1,349pp. It’s worth remembering that many Mediterranean cruises go beyond Europe, even in week-long itineraries. Celestyal Cruises’ new seven-night Three Continents cruise, which launches in December, is a round trip
from Athens to Alexandria and Port Said, Egypt; Ashdod, Israel; Limassol, Cyprus; Rhodes, Greece; and Kusadasi, Turkey. There are departures on December 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 during the off-peak season (from £1,059pp). While it’s no surprise that most want to take advantage of the hot summers, it’s still warm in autumn and not inhospitable in winter. In Dubrovnik, for example, the average temperature is 18°C in October, 14°C in November, 11°C in December and 9°C in January. With cheaper air fares and, sometimes, cruise fares, plus fewer crowds, seeing the Med in winter can be a thoroughly enjoyable, more relaxing experience – particularly for clients hoping to see historic landmarks, where queues can be unbearable in summer. Viking Cruises offers a number of offseason itineraries, including its tenday Empires of the Mediterranean (Venice to Athens) and 22-day Antiquities of the Mediterranean (Venice to Rome), which take in classic Med ports such as Naples, Dubrovnik and Kotor, but at a time when many ships are back in the Caribbean (from £3,490pp and £7,440pp respectively). Another option is a coastal cruise: CroisiEurope, the river cruise line known for traversing unusual rivers such as the Loire and Guadalquivir, runs a sevennight coastal cruise round-trip from Larnaca, Cyprus that explores
the treasures of the Holy Land. The cruise calls at Haifa, Israel and Limassol and includes two excursions to Jerusalem and Nazareth as well as optional excursions to Bethlehem and Jericho, Galilee, Nicosia, Kyrenia and Paphos (from £1,062 per person, with departures between January and March 2020). Intrepid Travel has a new Greece and Turkey itinerary that explores the Cyclades on a yacht, which accommodates a maximum of 47 guests. In Greece, the cruise takes in the rock-hewn monastery in Amorgos, ancient archaeological sites such as Delos and Akrotiri, and, in Turkey, the ruins of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Prices start from £2,350 per person for an eight-day tour and include accommodation, transportation by bus and small ship, varied activities and select meals. Filippos Venetopoulos, general manager, marine, at Intrepid Travel, says: “The Mediterranean is a popular destination for UK cruisers and the likes of Barcelona, Rome and Venice tend to be hotspots. But the region is diverse and has a lot more to offer. As part of Intrepid’s recently launched small ship Adventure Cruising range, we explore less-travelled regions and smaller ports, taking travellers away from the crowds.”
Azamara Club Cruises is another cruise line that takes in some of the Med’s lesserknown ports of call, particularly its 11-night Greece Intensive Voyage, which visits intimate ports including Gythion, Chania and Patmos. As a company that prides itself on ‘destination immersion’, it also has a number of impressive excursions, including a taste of village life in Croatia, where guests head to the village of Cilipi and the home of a local family. Here, they learn about the family’s rich history of producing fine brandy, olive oil and wines and sit down to a traditional home-cooked meal. In Italy, guests on Azamara have the chance to experience Italian farm life at a Campania dairy, a producer of mozzarella cheese in Pontecagnano. As we point out on page 14 (Small wonders), small ships offer a chance to see ports that larger ships cannot access, and are becoming increasingly popular. Seabourn’s 11-day Mediterranean Islands Odyssey (departing May 1, from £3,999pp) not only takes in Barcelona and Valencia, Spain, but also Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Syracuse, Italy; Golfo Aranci (Costa Smeralda), Sardinia, Italy; and Calvi, Corsica. Star Clippers’ Star Flyer and Royal Clipper also sail the Mediterranean, calling at ports such as Gozo, the Maltese Island; Piran, Slovenia; and Rovinj, Croatia.
May 2019 13
Guide to Cruise
Small wonders As cruise ships get bigger and bigger, some people are looking in the opposite direction for more authentic experiences. Sam Ballard looks at the big appeal of small-ship cruise
hether it’s Royal Caribbean’s sixth Oasis-class ship, Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras or even P&O’s Iona, it seems like the trend for large cruise ships has never been greater. This year alone, Norwegian Cruise Line (Encore), MSC (Grandiosa) and Costa (Smerelda) are all launching their largest ships to date. However, while there’s no doubt the trend for bigger ships is growing apace, there is also a pull in the other direction. It’s little wonder why. While the sheer variety of what’s available on a megaship cannot be competed with – whether it’s a Beatles tribute act in a mock Cavern Club or having the option to eat in dozens of different restaurants – they tend to suffer when it comes to what’s happening off a ship. In short, the bigger the ship, the more infrastructure a destination needs to handle it. Only the most developed ports – and therefore a minority – can handle ships with
14 May 2019
6,000 guests plus a few thousand crew. It also means that each individual passenger’s experience will be shared with a lot of people – leading to some criticism of lines swamping a destination when multiple ships call in one day. With experiences suffering – and ships showing no sign of shrinking – lines with megaships have begun either developing their current private islands (Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day) or even buying their own (MSC’s Ocean Cay). That way they can better control the experience for their guests. However, this isn’t for everyone and has left a major part of the market open: small ships. What they lack in choice on board they make up for in itineraries. Put simply, they call at ports that the bigger ships can’t get into. That means less-visited ports, with fewer people and more authentic experiences. A perfect example is Paul Gauguin Cruises, which specialises in cruises around the
Pacific islands on board its one vessel – the tiny Paul Gauguin. That connection with a local area has led to a more authentic experience, according to Elaine Gillard, senior sales and marketing manager for the line in the UK. “Cruising the islands of the South Pacific is so much about the people and the culture that these islands offer up,” she explains. “With just 332 guests, the Paul Gauguin is not only the perfect size to ensure the islands aren’t overwhelmed with visitors, it is the perfect build to cruise into the lagoons that surround these beautiful locations. Small ship cruising really ensures an authentic experience in this bucket-list destination.” That intimacy with a destination is something that larger ships simply cannot offer – they’re not physically capable, nor is it their ambition to. There is also a sense of community on board smaller ships that is more akin to the feeling in
your local – rather than the floating cities that some lines specialise in. When it comes to intimacy few lines can offer anything like that of Intrepid Travel, the small-group adventure-tour operator that is targeting cruise as a major growth area for the business going forward. Filippos Venetopoulos, Intrepid Travel’s general manager for adventure cruise, explains: “We see adventure cruise as a huge opportunity. Clients are looking for an authentic and sustainable alternative with a focus on truly exploring the destination. Our small ships carry up to 50 passengers, allowing us to access those smaller ports and islands the large ships can’t reach. “We had 23 departures in 2018 and we’ll have 66 this year, with 100 planned for 2020. Our new Asia cruises got off to a great start this year and received fantastic feedback from customers and agents.” Another line that is offering more unusual small ship cruises is Star Clippers. The company, which has ships modelled on classic sailing clippers, is inversely all about the ship – unusual for a small ship operator – with the theatre of its masts and sails offering a real selling point to potential travellers. The fact that the ship can enter smaller ports is an added bonus. “Star Clippers’ guests like sailing with us because they know that our historically styled clippers can enter ports and harbours inaccessible to large cruise ships,” says Fay McCormack, general manager at Star Clippers UK. “This gives them a greater sense of independence and adventure, because they can explore on land without thousands
of other guests, allowing for a more authentic environment. “They also enjoy the more intimate spaces on board the ships, with the central Tropical Bar providing a convivial social point with friendly, familiar bar staff and like-minded guests. Though Star Clippers’ ships are far from small, guests consider our ships to be more akin to vast, private yachts rather than floating hotels.” Ian Warren, an agent with GoCruise, agrees when it comes to the sense of community on smaller ships. “Despite the recent move to building much larger ships, there is still a good demand from clients for smaller cruise ships. Often, but not always, these are the more mature cruisers and they like smaller ships for a number of reasons, including the fact that they can get to know members of the crew and other passengers. Other benefits include the smaller ports that the ships can get into, and the much quicker embarkation and disembarkation. In my view there will always be a demand for small ships, offering a more traditional cruise experience.” However, without the economies of scale that the big ships offer, small ships are often the domain of the luxury lines. If you are only going to offer a few restaurants, you may as well have one of them backed by a Michelin-starred chef – or three in the case of Thomas Keller, who has a restaurant on board Seabourn. For Lynn Narraway, Seabourn’s UK managing director, the chance to travel with a small community of like-minded travellers is where the company really shines. “Seabourn’s ships are designed to offer guests an intimate, elegant
ambience, which encourages sociability – our guests love to get to know their fellow travellers,” says Narraway. “Seabourn also offers very high levels of personal service, so that staff will get to know guests and their preferences very early in the cruise. The personalisation extends to enrichment and activities – for example our ‘Seabourn Conversations’, where experts from the worlds of arts, history, Unesco, the natural world and beyond will not only talk to guests, but dine and socialise with them – extending the ‘conversation’ over the length of the cruise.” Another luxury line that operates on small vessels is SeaDream Yacht Club. The company’s UK sales director, Mark Schmitt, cites the level of service, as well as the lesser-known ports of call they serve, as being a prime reason why the company has connected so well with its clients. “Our customers love sailing with SeaDream Yacht Club (small yachts) thanks to our unprecedented levels of luxury and service. Our itineraries are designed to call at the intimate ports and harbours in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Cuba that larger cruise ships cannot reach. Along with our amazing, award-winning cuisine, SeaDream Yacht Club is a once-in-a-lifetime, every-time experience.” Whatever the end of the market that you are selling into, remember there is something out there for everyone. And if your client is particularly keen on seeing a destination – and potentially a quieter, less developed part of it – chances are that it will pay to get them on a smaller ship.
May 2019 15
Guide to Cruise
16 May 2019
Beneath the surface The Elbe’s waterways may be quiet, but they drift through some of Europe’s most historical spots, as Anthony Pearce discovers
uropean river cruise has exploded in popularity in recent years, but on the Elbe, you wouldn’t know it. To say this river, which we join on the Czech-German border, is quiet is a huge understatement: on our five-day cruise with Viking Cruises we barely see another ship. Our captain quips that, if the Rhine, Europe’s most popular river, is a motorway, this is a country back road. A famously difficult river to navigate, the Elbe can only be sailed by the likes of our home for the week, the low-draft Viking Astrild, one of Viking’s two ships sailing it. The Astrild is based on the design of the celebrated Viking Longships, but is far smaller – an entire deck and 46 cabins smaller, to be precise. It carries a maximum of just 98 guests at double occupancy (compared to a Longship’s maximum of 190 guests). Designed with the company’s Scandinavian heritage in mind, the Astrild is clean, functional and elegant; its understated style is a million miles from the chandeliers and gilded staircases of some ocean ships. The company used to sail further down the Elbe, but lower water
levels meant regular late changes to the itinerary, which irked guests, so they instead decided to bookend a five-day cruise with hotel stays in Prague and Berlin, with a trip to Potsdam on the way to the German capital. The result is an innovative itinerary that offers a surprising amount of diversity given the two cities are only 500km away – just four hours by train. This being the start of the season the weather is, as is often the case in Europe in March and April, a little patchy. I get sunburnt one day; the next, I’m reaching for a hat and scarf; then the umbrella – and that’s just in Prague. In the city, Viking puts us up in the five-star Corinthia (Kongresová 1655/1), one of the few high-rise buildings in the city, and runs a shuttle service to and from the Old Town every half hour (although the Vyšehrad underground station is so close it’s basically attached). It’s good to have a few nights here: the capital of the Czech Republic remains one of Europe’s most pristine and beautiful cities, made up of cobbled lanes, grand medieval squares, Gothic churches and Renaissance palaces – perhaps only Paris can rival it for beauty. While its tourist-heavy Old
Town offers countless architectural delights, including the famous Charles Bridge and the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn with its astronomical clock, the New Town offers a more realistic insight into Czech life. Here you can enjoy some of the world-famous Czech lager for as little as £1.50 and hearty, simple dishes such as goulash at similarly wallet-friendly prices. It’s just a case of following the locals. After the river you will find Prague Castle, which dates back to the ninth century. Said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, it attracts more than 1.8 million visitors annually. Visible from across the river, the complex was once the home of the Kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperors; today it houses the Czech president, and also contains the magnificent St Vitus Cathedral, built over 600 years. Letná Park, which offers views of the city, including seven of Prague’s bridges (one of which is the impressive Charles Bridge), is also worth taking in. After leaving Prague, we join the ship in Děčín, in the north of the Czech Republic and once part of the Sudetenland, given to Adolf
May 2019 17
Guide to Cruise
Hitler’s Germany in 1938 as part of the Munich Agreement. From there we sail to Bad Schandau, a pretty German spa town in Saxony. Viking includes a tour each day (as well as offering optional, more extravagant excursions), and today we head to Bastei, a rock formation 194 metres above the river in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which is also home to the impressive Bastei Bridge, built into the rock in 1851. The area is known as Saxon Switzerland, named by two Swiss artists as it reminded them of the dramatic landscape of their home country. It makes sense when you see it: it’s a mystery that it isn’t more famous. That evening we sail to Dresden, a city I last visited a decade ago and which has changed considerably since. Decimated by allied bombings in February 1945, which killed 25,000 people, the city has been slowly and lovingly rebuilt, mostly since the fall of communism
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in 1990. The city was once known as the Jewel Box because of its baroque and rococo – or “late Baroque” – city centre, and the project to restore it is a story of endurance: each year, Dresden edges closer to its former glory. The head chef on board our ship, Patrick, who grew up and lives in the city, gives us the chance to learn more about the region’s overlooked cuisine. It’s as hearty and potato heavy as you might expect, but no less delicious for it. In fact, the food and wine all week is exemplary. From Dresden, we take in Torgau, where Soviet and American troops met while liberating Europe in 1945; Meissen, famed for its porcelain, red-roofed houses and hilltop Gothic cathedral (so beautiful is the town, Viking’s room key card across its fleet bears its image); and Wittenberg, where Martin Luther taught, preached and posted the Ninety-five Theses to the All Saints’ Church in 1517.
One of the clever things about the itinerary is the chance to take in Potsdam after we leave the ship in Wittenberg on the way to the German capital. It breaks up our coach journey and gives us the chance to explore Potsdam’s lively, charming town and remarkable architecture. There’s the Cecilienhof Palace, built in the style of an English Tudor manor house, which hosted the Potsdam Conference in 1945, where the Soviets, British and Americans planned a post-War world; as well as Sanssouci, the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, built in breathtaking rococo style. Later that day we check into the beautiful Grand Hyatt in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, and head out immediately to explore. Many of Berlin’s most recognisable sites, such as the impressive Brandenburg Gate; the restored Reichstag parliament, featuring Sir Norman Foster’s now-iconic glass dome; and
Museum Island, home to the Berlin Cathedral and the neoclassical Altes Museum, are relatively close together, so many walking tours will take in these in a morning. For history buffs there are, of course, few cities that compare: Berlin is elevated and burdened by its history. Whether it’s Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s imposing Prussian architecture, Weimar Republicera Bauhaus, Albert Speer’s Nazi neoclassicism or Soviet brutalism, every building tells its own story. It is a city that has been forced to address this history and has done so in subtle, intelligent and moving ways. Take the stolpersteines, brass cubes inscribed with family names and dates of Jewish people murdered by the Nazis, found on pavements throughout the city. Or the memorial that marks the site of the Nazi book burnings outside Humboldt University (Bebelplatz), a glass window set into cobblestones, giving a view
of empty bookcases large enough to hold the total of the 20,000 burnt books. Or the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Cora-Berliner-Straße 1), designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. Made up of 2,711 concrete slabs of different heights over a sloping 200,000-sq-ft site, the memorial is said to provoke uneasiness as you enter it and represent an ordered system that lost touch with reason. For those wanting to learn more, the Topography of Terror (Niederkirchnerstraße 8), built on what was the SS headquarters during the Third Reich, provides an unflinching and detailed examination of the period. Outside the museum is also one of the best places to see a stretch of the Berlin Wall, although the most popular place to see the construction that divided the city from 1961 until 1989 is the East Side Gallery (Mühlenstraße
3-100), a 1,316-metre-long stretch of the Wall where artists from across the world have painted murals. Checkpoint Charlie, a Cold War-era border check, is worth seeing, but, with its uniformed “guard”, feels a little tacky in comparison to the city’s other, more subtle markers of history. But there is much beyond Berlin’s historical sites, too: the neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg are bursting with creativity and culture, including in the art galleries, the city’s famed nightlife and its burgeoning restaurant scene. Some of the best new restaurants are to be found in Mitte – central Berlin, but north of Museum Island – such as Katz Orange (Bergstraße 22), Lokal (Linienstraße 160) and Pauly Saal (Auguststraße 11). It’s also well worth seeking out the best Turkish and Vietnamese food throughout the city.
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Guide to Cruise
The joy of ex-UK
The joy of ex-UK Anthony Pearce on the benefits of being able to circumvent the hassles of flying, stepping on board a ship at a UK port and sailing to anywhere in the world
irports are stressful. The battle against traffic to arrive on time, the bother of getting through security, overcrowded departure lounges (with overpriced restaurants), uncomfortable airplane seats, the long and anxious wait for your luggage to appear at the other end, then having to navigate your way to your final destination. Compare that with an ex-UK cruise. All you have to do is get to the port, whizz through security, and that’s it: you’re on holiday, smiling staff greeting you with champagne.
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While there are clearly advantages to spending a few hours on a flight to Barcelona rather than a few days on a ship, ex-UK cruises offer a romantic “Old World” way to travel. Even at this steady pace, sailing from the UK makes every holiday feel like an adventure. And for older and less mobile customers they make perfect sense, particularly when you consider lines such as Saga, which offer door-to-port pick-ups. There are also some incredible cruises to choose from. This year, there are 742 departures from 25 cruise lines spread across 18
ports, from Southampton up to Invergordon. Of course, the southcoast city remains the king of exUK with more than 400 of these departures heading from there. This means it’s also where you’ll find the greatest diversity: from boutique ships such as Azamara Journey through to the enormous 4,370-passenger Independence of the Seas and the ultra-luxury Seven Seas Explorer, which features handmade chandeliers, some 2,500 works of art and palatial suites. Those living in the south still have much more choice, but
there remain some great options from the north and Scotland. Cruise & Maritime Voyages has six departures from Hull, including its Baltic Cities & St Petersburg on Astoria, while it has eight cruises departing from Liverpool and eight from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Fred Olsen, another ex-UK specialist, with a focus on regional ports, also has 21 from Liverpool and 16 from Newcastle, while there are a total of 51 cruises from Scotland, many of them with Hebridean Island Cruises. Many assume that, aside from Cunard’s iconic transatlantic voyages, ex-UK cruises only cover the Eastern Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords and Baltics. While these are undoubtedly the bread and butter of the
no-fly industry, there really is an incredible amount on offer. Take, for example, Viking Sun’s 245-night Ultimate World Cruise London, which departs from London Greenwich on August 31, or Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Canada in the Fall epic on the historic Marco Polo, departing from London Tilbury on September 1. Your customers will have just missed World Voyages (which can be taken in segments) from Cunard and Cruise & Maritime, which are worth looking out for in 2020. The latter’s Grand Round the World Cruise 2020 on Columbus, which departs on January 6, 2020, from London Tilbury starts from just £17,999pp for 120 nights – £150 a day. It’s staggeringly good value when you think that
it takes in Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Petra. Fred Olsen’s 22-night Amalfi Coast, Tuscany & Italian Riviera on Boudicca, which departs from Dover on April 26, 2020, is also a fabulous way to see the Mediterranean. In fact, longer cruises are definitely a common theme – this year there are 89 that are 20 nights or longer. This year also marks the very exciting introduction of Spirit of Discovery, the first of Saga’s new-build ships, and next year promises to be even more exciting. Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas will return to the UK for the first time since its launch; Princess Cruises’ ex-UK capacity for 2020 will be 30 per cent more than in 2019; and Saga’s Spirit of Adventure will launch.
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Set sail on safari Watch and wonder from the water at Africa’s abundant wildlife, writes Heidi Fuller-love
ith its leopards and lions, medicinal plants and colourful birds, it’s no wonder that the vast continent of Africa is renowned for the diversity of its wildlife. If you’ve ever dreamed of getting up close to the “big five” – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo – what better way to do so than to take a safari cruise? For these, you’ll glide through the jungle, stop over in remote lodges or travel to ports that offer easy access to world-class game parks and nature reserves.
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If you’re seeking comfort, choose companies such as Silversea or Regent Seven Seas, which have larger ships featuring more facilities. But if your main concern is encountering the local wildlife, it’s best to pick smaller expedition vessels owned by companies such as AmaWaterways or CroisiEurope. So grab your binoculars, slip on some safari wear and follow us on a bucket-list tour of must-not-miss safari cruises for nature lovers.
are relatively quiet and can travel along narrow waterways – is ideal. To spot big cats as well as giraffe and Cape buffalo, choose a cruise along the Cuando River, which follows the northern border of Botswana’s Chobe National Park. If you prefer to see lions, hippos and elephants, you should consider heading for the shores and waters of Lake Kariba, on the Zambia and Zimbabwe border.
WILD ON THE RIVER
For lashings of adventure mixed with a good old dose of comfort, choose AmaWaterways’
If you wish to see wildlife up close, a river cruise – on vessels that
WHO DOES IT?
12-night Rivers & Rails of Africa Cruise (amawaterways.com). This exciting safari cruise combines time in Cape Town and Victoria Falls with a thrilling four-night trip along the Cuando (Chobe) River. There’s also a breathtaking three-night luxury rail trip from Zimbabwe to South Africa, stopping at Hwange Game Reserve, which is home to elephants, lions and African wild dogs.
SAFARI ON THE OCEAN
Several major cruise lines offer wildlife-spotting options in Africa and some offer pre- and post-cruise safari land extensions, too. Most cruises leave from Cape Town and call at Richards Bay, which offers easy access to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – renowned as one of the country’s best reserves for spotting rhino – as well as Port Elizabeth, which is close to Addo Elephant National Park. Some cruises also include Kenya’s Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary near Mombasa on their itineraries.
WHO DOES IT?
Azamara Club Cruises (azamara clubcruises.co.uk) has a 10-night South Africa cruise with a five-night post-cruise Kruger safari, which includes flights and excursions to world-renowned game reserves including Kapama Game Reserve. Here, guests can look out for more than 40 different mammal species and relax at the Kapama River Lodge. The cruise also includes a visit to Richards Bay – the gateway to Zululand – and a docking in East London, another safari hotspot. Alternatively, Crystal Cruises’ breathtaking 15-day Mombasa to Cape Town itinerary (crystalcruises.com) offers opportunities to take in several of South Africa’s top game reserves. With a stop in Zanzibar, guests can also visit Jozani Forest Reserve, which is famous for its rare red colobus monkeys. But for those seeking the ultimate bucket-list trip, you
USEFUL TIPS Do take it as it comes – unlike many aspects of a cruise, spotting wildlife can’t be planned. Don’t be careless – trailing a hand in the water or getting too close to that hippo could easily end in disaster.
should take Cunard’s 25-night cruise from Hong Kong to Cape Town (cunard.co.uk) on board the Queen Victoria. From exclusive, one-of-a-kind wildlife excursions to a plethora of exotic port calls, this luxurious cruise is sure to tick all the boxes.
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The latest ABTA Magazine Guide to Cruise, featuring a a look at small-ship cruise, river cruise on the Elbe and the other side of the Medite...
Published on May 1, 2019
The latest ABTA Magazine Guide to Cruise, featuring a a look at small-ship cruise, river cruise on the Elbe and the other side of the Medite...