River Cruise Passenger 84

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PAR IS TO AVIGNON

15 DAYS | 1 COUNTRY | 13 GUIDED TOUR S PARIS | NORMANDY | LYON | AVIGNON

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15 DAYS | PARIS – AVIGNON or vice versa SET SAIL 2022; 2023 From

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$6,495pp $9,495pp

in Standard stateroom

in Veranda stateroom

Cruise with Viking and explore the world in serene Scandinavian comfort, on modern spacious ships with only 190 guests. With the added comfort of industry leading health and safety protocols, this ultimate European itinerary will give you peace of mind in this new age of cruising, whether it be your first time or the next. Discover the romance of France’s waterways on a 15-day river cruise from Paris to Avignon. Luxuriate in Parisian sophistication, savour Lyon’s culinary heritage, toast the Beaujolais vineyards and pay your respects at Normandy’s World War II beaches. If you love everything Français, this is the cruise for you.

ENJOY, IT’S ALL INCLUDED RIVERVIEW STATEROOM | SHORE EXCURSIONS | ALL ONBOARD MEALS | WINE & BEER SERVED WITH LUNCH & DINNER UNLIMITED WI-FI | TIPPING & GRATUITIES | INDUSTRY-LEADING HEALTH & SAFETY PROGRAM

MOST AWARDED | VIKING INCLUSIVE | VALUE LARGEST & MOST MODERN FLEET 138 747 VIKING.COM OR SEE YOUR LOCAL VIKING AGENT *Conditions apply. Prices are per person, in Australian dollars, based on double occupancy, subject to availability, includes all advertised discounts and correct at time of printing. Guests are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at time of travel. France’s Finest based on 7 November 2023 departure. Economy class flights included up to the value of $1,800 per person. Included Flights will be booked by Viking and with Viking’s choice of airline from major gateway cities in Australia. These offers are valid on new bookings made between 1 October – 24 December 2021 unless sold out prior. For full terms and conditions visit viking.com.


PUBLISHER’S LETTER

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Adventures on the river

elcome to Cruise Passenger’s River Cruise special, powered by our sister brand rivercruisepassenger.com.au. I’m often asked why I river cruise. Today, the answer is simpler than ever: it’s safe, it’s convenient and I get to travel with a small crowd of like-minded, intelligent travellers from all over the world. They are fully vaccinated, and the ship is never further than a few metres from the shore… and any medical facilities that may be needed. And the cruise line is right there to deal with the library-like paperwork you need to travel between countries, and sort out any “irregularities”. The chatter over a drink before dinner is always a pleasure. Once the day’s shore excursions have been put to bed, we talk

about our own stories. There might be a musician or a dance troupe, but no big shows to interrupt proceedings. And if you feel adventurous, you can pop ashore and talk to the locals. My last cruise was in the south of France aboard the Viking Delling. It was just eight days, but we still managed to experience more in that time than on many ocean cruises twice as long. I learned how to bake the local bread, visited my all-time favourite winery Châteauneuf-du-Pape, saw artworks by Monet and Van Gogh in the villages where they actually painted them, and foraged for truffles with dogs in a forest. And every night there’s a new wine and dish to be discovered in the ship’s restaurant, although the really fun

evenings were finding your own piece of French gastronomie ashore. It was relaxing, non-intrusive and delightfully in touch with the French culture all around us. Thankfully, many lines are sailing today and the Christmas markets have reopened. More lines have meant it’s possible to get incredibly good value for a European holiday that visits up to five different countries with no fuss and no unpacking. More importantly, many of the stuffy ideas about river cruising have at last been tossed overboard. Lines like Uniworld, Avalon and Scenic now offer kayaking, hiking, cycling and wellness coaches. So welcome back to river cruising. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter at rivercruisepassenger.com.au.

SPRING 2021 NEWS

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Cover image: Scenic Azure in Portugal’s Douro Valley/courtesy of Scenic

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4 / 8 reasons to cruise rivers right now River cruising has come of age after years of being typecast as an offering for older travellers.

6 / Keeping you safe

Your river cruise ship may well be the safest way to travel through multiple countries.

19 / Wellness on the waterways Beyond spa treatments or yoga classes, Scenic’s wellness program aims to enrich and invigorate.

REVIEW

14 / The super ship born by accident Completely revamped and upgraded to Super Ship status, Uniworld’s SS La Venezia is wonderfully over the top.

9 / New kids on the block

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River cruising has returned with a vengeance, with new offerings from some of our favourite lines.

12 / The rise of the Rhine Put a Rhine cruise through up to five European nations on your bucket list.

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RIVER CRUISE NEWS

8 REASONS TO CRUISE RIVERS RIGHT NOW River cruising has come of age. After years of being typecast as an offering for older travellers, it’s now for everyone. Peter Lynch explains why.

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e’re standing on the deck of a river cruise ship in northern India. It’s 4am and we’re munching fresh bread rolls and sipping coffee in the cold. Shortly, we’ll disembark for an elephant camp where we plan to go hunting for tigers (cameras only, of course). Afterwards, we’ll be camping on an island where we’ll build a bonfire and have the most amazing curry feast, followed by fireworks. For decades, river cruising was the sedate elderly cousin of the mighty ocean fleet. Today, with itineraries in Africa, Asia and South America, it’s anything but. The breadth of experiences is extraordinary. And its time has come. The pandemic may have halted the fleet, but now, as cruisers consider their options, river looks extremely enticing. Here’s why.

/ IT REALLY IS HASSLE-FREE Even in a post-COVID age, you can travel across borders knowing your cruise line is taking care of the health regulations, correct documentation, masks and tests. You’ll unpack only once and be transported to some of the world’s most fascinating towns with historic connections you thought were fairytales. And you only have to walk down the gangplank to sample regional food or meet the locals. All this in an atmosphere of camaraderie among the 200 or so guests that you just don’t get on a big ship. / WONDERFUL DESTINATIONS River ships really do go to places others can’t. That trip to India was on the 4 cruisepassenger.com.au

Avalon Waterways offers cooking classes on board.

Brahmaputra River. The Amazon, the Chobe River in Africa, the Yangtze in China – these are all adventurous locations that a river cruise can transport you to, mostly in the lap of luxury. And then there are the amazing river systems of Europe.

/ LUXURY IS ALL INCLUDED From Scenic’s white-gloved butlers to Viking’s Owner’s Suites, and from Avalon’s river-facing beds to Uniworld’s over-the-top decorations, river ships are amazing pieces of maritime architecture. And today, there are chef’s tables for fine dining and paired wines, cooking schools, spas and swimming pools all tucked into exactly the same space, at least in Europe. (Each ship must pass through the intricate system of locks and are the same length.) Australian Glen Moroney of Scenic created the craze for balconies, thanks to his revolutionary ‘space ships’. And Viking’s longships, Europe’s biggest fleet, have perfected outside dining.

/ THE EVER-CHANGING WORLD OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW Amsterdam to Budapest is one of the world’s most popular river routes, but it’s still an amazing experience (go in spring when few are around to witness it). As you relax, your ship takes you from Holland to Germany – the Rhine Gorge is probably the most beautiful stretch – Austria for Vienna and the white horses and the Wachau Valley, and into Hungary for Budapest. Remember, you only unpacked once. / PERFECT FOR IMMERSIVE CULTURAL EXPERIENCES Your tour guides all come from the town or city you’ve docked in. So they are not only experts, but part of the local culture. You’ll get to have lunch or dinner (or both) on shore and see markets and shops. Often, you can pack in tours that take in cooking schools, wineries and exclusive concerts. I could hardly believe one cruise line’s boast that a Viennese orchestra would play for us in the concert hall, but they did, and they took us for drinks afterwards. / SMALL LUXURY SHIPS Most river ships take a maximum of around 200 guests and a crew of around 50. So you’ll soon get to know your fellow travellers. There is a briefing over cocktails each evening, and entertainment, although that might just be a piano man. Many lines provide bikes, cruise directors, wellness managers, activity managers – even kayaks. There will be three or four decks, depending on the vessel, and some have beauty salons, fitness centres and spas. / NO PROBLEMS WITH SEA SICKNESS There are no waves, no sudden movements – just the gentle swaying of the vessel. The flat-bottomed ships provide a perfectly pleasant ride. / VALUE PROPOSITION River cruising is good value. For a start, most provide all food, wine with meals and even transfers from the airport (a big bonus today, when so much regulation can trip up the unwary traveller). Guides, shore excursions and just being there is important, too. Some include air travel – even business class for the luxury lines – and lines like Avalon specialise in booking stays in cities at either end of your cruise, or even a land segment followed by another river cruise.


RIVER CRUISE NEWS

With a river cruise you only have to walk down the gangplank to sample regional food or meet the locals.”

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HEALTH

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Health protocols on Uniworld’s ships include regularly sanitising high-traffic areas.


HEALTH

KEEPING YOU SAFE Your river cruise ship may well be the safest way to travel through multiple countries.

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iver cruise lines were quick to implement new health protocols last year. And that’s on top of the added complexity of travelling across multiple country borders, something their oceangoing colleagues don’t have to deal with. Now they have some of the safest practices on the water. First and foremost, before you take a river cruise again, you’ll need to ensure you meet the vaccination requirements. Scenic, Viking, Uniworld and Avalon Waterways are among the cruise lines that require proof of full vaccination before you can set sail aboard their ships. Before you embark on your journey you will need to show proof that you have been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine. The approved vaccines are Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Moderna and Janssen. Many of the travel destinations you’ll be sailing to require proof of vaccination as well. You’ll need to show that you are fully vaccinated to get into museums, restaurants and historical sites. You should ensure that you bring proof of your vaccination status with you so that you can enter venues. Accepted forms of proof include a printed vaccine certificate or digital evidence you’ve been vaccinated at least two weeks before departure. If you’re taking a river cruise to Egypt, you’ll have to show a printed vaccine certificate with a QR code. You’ll also be required to fill out a health declaration before departure. Children who are not eligible to be vaccinated will be asked to supply a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. As COVID policies vary between countries, it’s recommended you check the requirements in the country you’re visiting. Some countries ask that cruise passengers have a COVID test before they

Mask wearing is one of many health measures deployed on Viking’s river cruise fleet.

disembark. Uniworld and Scenic are among the cruise lines that will facilitate mid-cruise testing so that any illness can quickly be detected. You may also need to have a test three days before you disembark from the ship. Viking, Scenic, Uniworld and Avalon river cruise ships are all equipped with medical centres, so if you feel unwell you can seek treatment. If it’s been determined that you have COVID, you and any of your close contacts will be asked to self-isolate in your room and arrangements will be made to repatriate you to your home country for medical treatment. Having medical treatment on a cruise ship can be expensive, so it’s advised that you obtain travel insurance prior to departure to ensure you are protected should you get sick. All of the aforementioned cruise lines have mask policies in place, so if you are in a public area such as a dining room, near the pool on the deck or in a corridor, you should wear a mask. You can bring your own or head to the guest services counter on board and they will supply you with

one. Some locations require a respirator mask, such as an FFP2, N95/99 or KN95. Some suggest travellers pack their own hand sanitiser so that they can regularly sanitise your hands, however, every cruise line has dispensers throughout their ships. All of the cruise lines are cleaning their ships multiple times a day, sometimes hourly, or after use in high-traffic areas. They have also partnered with onshore companies who adhere to their strict cleaning protocols. For example, if you’re taking a motor coach, it will be cleaned before and after your trip, and social distancing will be observed, so you’ll travel in smaller groups than before the pandemic. The cruise lines have also updated their air circulation systems, so that no air will be recirculated between rooms in the ship. Any air will come directly from the outside, so you can be confident that you’re not breathing in contaminated air. As the COVID pandemic is a constantly evolving situation, cruise lines are also in regular consultation with governments around the world and medical experts to review their health and safety protocols. cruisepassenger.com.au 7


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RIVER CRUISE NEWS

New kids on the block River cruising has returned with a vengeance, with new offerings from some of our favourite lines, reports Teresa Ooi. / VIKING RIVER CRUISES After a 16-month hiatus, Viking Cruises returned to French rivers in July with the launch of four new longships – Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid and Viking Skaga. The line offers itineraries on the Seine, Rhône and Garonne rivers, as well as the Rhine and Douro rivers. With alfresco Aquavit Terrace casual dining aboard every ship, Viking longships are designed with understated elegance with spacious staterooms. Each ship has 84 cabins for up to 168 passengers. The ships, which dock near the Eiffel Tower, are the perfect getaway for people longing for a romantic French escape. “France is at the top of our guest’s travel list, so we are delighted that our river vessels are once again sailing in this beloved destination,” says Viking chairman Torstein Hagen. / UNIWORLD Uniworld’s SS Le Venezia was the first river ship to launch during the European

A Viking longship on the Main River in Germany. Below: an open-air Aquavit Terrace on a Viking longship.

cruising season. She set sail from Venice in June this year. Once known as the River Countess, the ship has been reimagined as one of Uniworld’s Super Ships that now sail northern Italy. Famed Italian artist and fabric designer Mariano Fortuny inspired the redesign of the reborn vessel. “For our guests, this means a setting and style of service that is wholly immersive in the enduring fascination and magic that is Venice; and is born from more than 100 years of experience,” said Uniworld CEO and president Ellen Bettridge at the unveiling of the new ship last year. The ship can accommodate up to 126 guests and has five classes of staterooms, all capturing the design elements of Venice. Rialto, the main restaurant, serves traditional Venetian cuisines, while Hari’s Bar and Lounge, La Cantinetta and Cielo’s offer more casual dining options.

/ AMAWATERWAYS AmaWaterways launched the elegant 156-passenger AmaLucia this year with comfortable and contemporary twinbalcony staterooms, a sundeck walking track and a pool with swim-up bar. There are tempting tapas served all day, free high-speed WiFi and a complimentary fleet of bicycles. You can explore European cities on guided bike tours or take a bike and go out exploring on your own.

Whether it’s traditional Bavarian music, modern piano favourites or a local quartet, there’s always an eclectic schedule of entertainment on board. Itineraries include a seven-night legendary Danube sailing from Nuremberg to Budapest, and an enchanting seven-night journey from Basel to Amsterdam.

/ RIVIERA TRAVEL The line’s newest ship, the 176-passenger Geoffrey Chaucer, debuted last year, sailing the Danube, Rhine and Main rivers. With two dining venues, a small fitness centre, spa, small pool, putting green and ample deck space, the ship offers a comfortable ‘home base’ to explore Europe. European itineraries include eight nights from Bruges through medieval Flanders and Amsterdam, and the classic eight-night Blue Danube river cruise, a round trip from Budapest. cruisepassenger.com.au 9


RIVER CRUISE NEWS

Crystal River Cruises has been named Best Luxury River Cruise Line in the 2021 Wave Awards held in the UK in October. “This is a testament to our amazing onboard Crystal Family, who provide the genuine and authentic service that makes the Crystal River Cruises experience come to life,” says Walter Littlejohn, senior vice-president and managing director of Crystal River Cruises.

SCENIC’S NEW SOUTH EAST ASIA OFFERING Scenic has released its 2022/2023 South East Asia river cruising collection with a wealth of exciting new activities and itineraries. These range from private Angkor Wat experiences to a nine-night Treasures of the Mekong Meandering Cruise and plenty more packed into the longest sailing season across the region. Highlights of the Treasures of the Mekong Meandering Cruise include exploring Ho Chi Minh City, hopping in a tuk tuk in Phnom Penh, visiting the beautiful Angkor Wat and surrounds and, to top it off, enjoying a gala dinner in Angkor’s Prasat Kravan with performances from Apsara dancers. If you’re seeking even more adventure, the 18-day Highlights of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong cruise will take you through the same experiences while also visiting Hanoi and Halong Bay. In Hanoi, passengers will get to work with the region’s flavours in an absorbing cooking class and then have plenty more options for excitement, such as a Ho Chi Minh City-by-night foodie tour by Vespa, or all the drama and gasps of a Phare Cambodian circus performance in Siem Reap. Every Scenic South East Asia river cruise also features dining at Buffet Nineteen, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most acclaimed seafood spots and a five-star dining experience.

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AMERICAN REVOLUTION American Cruise Lines will undertake a major refurbishment of its fleet of paddlewheelers. The four ships will sport new interiors and three will be given new names. Queen of the Mississippi will become American Heritage; Queen of the West will become American West; and America will be known as American Splendor. American Pride will retain its name. The refit will include textiles, furniture and carpeting in new colour palettes across all staterooms, lounges and dining rooms, as well as artwork inspired by the region in which the riverboat is sailing. American Splendor and American Heritage, which operate on the Mississippi River, will be inspired by Mark Twain’s works as well as the musical genres of jazz, blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll. On the Columbia and Snake rivers, American West and American Pride will feature touches that highlight Native American and Western themes, referencing the Lewis and Clark expedition. The redesign, according to American Cruise Lines, “will elevate those classic riverboats to the more cosmopolitan ambience of American Cruise Line’s newest small ships, while still celebrating the traditional paddlewheel style that is as fundamentally American as the rivers themselves”. It’s anticipated that all four entirely refurbished paddlewheelers will be available to book for next season.


SPECIAL REPORT

Sail the mighty Murray

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es, the Rhine and the Danube have their appeal, but aboard a Murray River paddlesteamer you can experience that same sense of peace and tranquillity without the long-haul flight and the jet lag. Echuca’s Murray River Paddlesteamers offers an authentic Australian river-cruising experience, enabling you to soak in the beauty of your own backyard and support your local region, as well as exploring our gorgeous outdoors with onshore tours. The Murray River, Australia’s longest river, is currently seeing water levels at a 20-year high, meaning you can experience more of the river than ever before, amid the crisp fresh air tinged with the scent of eucalyptus and the call of native bird life.

PS Emmylou provides an historic journey like no other. The world’s only cruising wood-fired paddlesteamer, this boutique luxury cruise accommodates just 16 guests and provides a bespoke and personalised experience. Murray River Paddlesteamers offers two- to six-night cruises, each including regionally inspired chef-prepared meals matched with complimentary wine and beer at dinner. If you’re flying into, or travelling from, Melbourne, take advantage of the return transfer option to the northern Victorian town of Echuca, where you’ll board PS Emmylou and begin your incredible experience. Learn more: psemmyloucruises.com


RIVER CRUISE NEWS

THE RISE OF THE RHINE

Put a Rhine cruise through up to five European nations on your bucket list.

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valon Waterways is offering massive savings on Rhine river cruises for the 2022/23 season. With savings of up to $3,400 per couple on select 2022/2023 Rhine river cruises, Avalon Waterways have launched an array of itineraries for both those new to river cruising and returning cruisers. “With nearly two dozen cruise itineraries in our Rhine holiday portfolio, Avalon Waterways offers more ways to discover the Rhine River Valley, year-round, than any other river cruise line,” says Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Whether you’re dipping your toe into river cruising or diving headfirst into your next cruise, the Rhine realises the Europe of every traveller’s dreams.”

The Rhine winds its way from Switzerland to Germany and The Netherlands to the North Sea, making it a must-do river cruise.

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For the newbies, Avalon Waterways has designed the five-day A Taste of the Rhine sailing bookended by two bucket-list cities, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. This short and ‘suite’ sailing adventure gives travellers the opportunity to test the river cruise waters while enjoying the sweeping, dramatic views of the Rhine Gorge. There’s also an eight-day cruise for those looking for a longer holiday. For returning travellers, the Rhine & Moselle – Canals, Vineyards & Castles itinerary is a great for cruisers looking to get the most out of their sailing. The Rhine River crosses five countries and weaves together diverse cultures and cuisines. It also connects to other legendary waterways to create an in-depth river cruise holiday.

And for regular river cruisers looking for something different, Avalon takes travellers off the beaten path to discover – and re-discover – the Old World in new ways. The eight-day Active & Discovery on the Rhine cruise has a varied selection of classic, active and discovery excursions. From history to food and nature to art, the breadth of excursions includes everything from a regional wine-tasting in Eltville and hike up to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress to a Düsseldorf biking tour and Dutch painting class. For a more, in-depth adventure, consider 15-day Magnificent Europe itinerary.

For more information, visit avalonwaterways.com.au.


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Visit avalonwaterways.com.au, call 1300 640 154 or see your travel agent * Conditions apply. Prices correct as of 14/10/21. All prices are per person, twin share and include applicable savings. Save up to $3,400 valid to 03 Jan 22. Visit avalonwaterways.com.au/deals for full offer terms

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RIVER CRUISE REVIEW

The super ship born by accident Who can forget the images of the giant MSC Opera ploughing into a river ship moored in Venice? Sue Bryant sails on that river ship, now reborn as SS La Venezia, and finds her wonderfully over the top.

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t’s nearly evening, and Venice’s lavish Saint Mark’s Basilica has closed to the public for the day. Just 40 of us file in, clutching our vaccination certificates and ID. We’re invited to sit in front of the altar. Slowly, the lights dim until we are immersed in pitch darkness. Nobody speaks. There’s a collective intake of breath as a light flicks on, and then another one, casting shadows across the domed ceiling. Moment by moment, almost 8,000 square metres of shimmering gold mosaics above us, some of them 800 years old, are illuminated. If you imagine Venice on a typical day, with thousands of visitors thronging Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square), the queue for the basilica snaking around the block, you’ll get a picture of just how special this after-hours visit is. This is just one of the treats that was lined up for my week exploring Venice and its misty lagoon on Uniworld’s new 14

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SS La Venezia. The vessel is not entirely new, of course. Cruise fans may remember the events of June 2019, when what was then Uniworld’s River Countess was moored at San Basilio, the small-ship dock on Venice’s Giudecca Canal. The out-of-control MSC Opera ploughed into the tiny ship, crushing it against the sea wall and destroying a section of wall in the process. Two years on and Uniworld has completely revamped the ship, renaming it and upgrading it to Super Ship status, the classification for the line’s poshest and most opulent vessels. And opulent it is. Uniworld’s Toni Tollman and designer Brian Brennan have taken inspiration from the sumptuous fabrics and Art Nouveau designs of legendary Spanish designer Mariano Fortuny. The Fortuny company factory lies on Giudecca island, just across from our dock. Swagged curtains in deep bronze, throne-like chairs with gilded detailing, and bathrooms lined in grey and white marble


RIVER CRUISE REVIEW Main image: SS La Venezia navigates a canal in Italy’s Veneto region. Left: When in Venice, a gondola ride is a must. Below, left: Fine food is a focus on board the ship, with three dining options. Below, right: While larger vessels are now blocked from entering Venice’s canals, SS La Venezia is free to venture deep into the city centre.

feel madly over the top, but combine to create a truly decadent effect. The cabins are startling, to say the least. A pale beige-gold motif covers the fabric walls, the ceiling and the furniture, so there’s a sense of being in a luxurious cocoon. My bedside light is an intricate Murano glass flower in pale peach, while the heavy door handles are brass snakes coiled around themselves. The public areas of the ship are beautiful, too. The reception is done out in a daring black and gold scheme, while ornate Venetian masks adorn one end of Hari’s Bar and Lounge, the bar itself painted a burnished gold. As well as the main Rialto restaurant, which has open seating dining, there’s a smart little pizzeria, Cielo’s, on the top deck. Here we enjoy a delicious array of antipasti, a top-notch pizza and rich tiramisu. Less popular is La Cantinetta, a private dining room for up to 12 with a show kitchen, where you pay around AUD$150 a head

for a wine-paired tasting menu. With four nights alongside in Venice, we spend our money on dinner out in the city instead. The week-long itinerary fluctuates according to the capricious tides in the lagoon. We’re supposed to head into the River Po and dock at Polesella, a convenient jumping-off point for the ancient cities of Bologna and Ferrara. But the water in the river is too shallow, so we spend two nights at Chioggia instead, in the far south of the lagoon, taking a longer road journey to Bologna. This is no great loss; the Po isn’t a particularly scenic river, as its banks lined with trees and reeds, and so the itinerary doesn’t really suffer. Much as I love Venice itself, I enjoy every minute of the scenic sailing south to Chioggia, and north again to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. Autumn is arguably the most perfect time to explore the city, when the summer crowds have thinned and an ethereal mist hangs over the water. cruisepassenger.com.au

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RIVER CRUISE REVIEW

One night, a big storm blows away the mist. I lie awake listening to water slapping against the hull and wake to warm sunshine, the crags of the Dolomites forming a jagged line across the horizon. The colours of the fishing villages we pass are dazzling against the monochrome of the lagoon. Houses are painted in lime green, electric blue and shocking pink. Egrets, herons and cormorants perch on the wooden pilings that mark the navigation channel across the lagoon. Stray from the channel and the water is only 30 centimetres deep at low tide. The threat of flooding to Venice and its fragile lagoon is well documented. At acqua alta, or extreme high tide, water rushes in through the three entrances to the lagoon, often causing catastrophic flood damage to the city. Now, an AUD$9 billion system of flood barriers, the Mose, has been built across each entrance, rising up from the seabed on command to hold the water back. I can see why it’s necessary, After the storm, we sail alongside the skinny sea wall, the teal-green Adriatic lashing angrily at one side, the lagoon serene and sparkling on the other, several meters lower. The other big environmental challenge, of course, is big cruise ships, noticeable by their absence on my visit. The cruise port, Stazione Marittima, lies empty. Although cruise passengers make up less than 10 percent of the 20 million or so annual visitors who would descend on Venice before the pandemic, 16

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the big ships have vanished. Since August 1 this year, vessels of more than 25,000 tons have had to dock at the unromantic ferry port at Fusina, in the industrial area of Marghera on the mainland. From our mooring at San Basilio, I can see Silversea’s Silver Moon in the distance and, the following day, a Viking ship. Small vessels like SS La Venezia, which carries a mere 126 passengers, can still moor at San Basilio, in the Dorsoduro district, and Sette Martiri, even closer to Piazza San Marco. We make the most of our privileged location, from where you can walk anywhere in the city centre. Excursions are arranged to a mask-maker and a gondola yard. One morning, a group heads off early with the chef to the Rialto Market, to buy fish for supper. From Chioggia, I join a cycling tour, pedalling around the green Lusenzo lagoon. From our mooring in Burano, we visit the extraordinary Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on sleepy Torcello island.


RIVER CRUISE CRUISE REVIEW NEWS The view from Cielo’s pizzeria, on the top deck of the ship. Below: one of SS La Venezia’s striking staterooms.

Small vessels like SS La Venezia can still moor at San Basilio and Sette Martiri, near Piazza San Marco.”

+ FACT FILE CRUISE LINE: Uniworld VESSEL: SS La Venezia LAUNCHED: 2021 STAR RATING: Not yet rated PASSENGER DECKS: 4 PASSENGER CAPACITY: 126 CREW: 42 FACILITIES: Spa; gym; bicycles; sun deck; open seating dining room; pizzeria; private dining room; bar; WiFi; elevator; laundry; butler service in suites.

+ THE VERDICT HIGHS: Elegant ship with many inclusions. Being one of the few ships still allowed in central Venice is a big plus. LOWS: Cabins are compact. The itinerary is often changed because of water conditions. BEST SUITED TO: Active cruisers; romantics; anyone looking to explore Venice in some depth.

Founded in 639AD, the basilica predates much of Venice and is adorned with dazzling 11th-century mosaics. Uniworld’s regular guide, Venice-based art historian Susan Steer, brings these ancient sites to life with her witty, informed commentary. On my last day, I take the vaporetto to San Giorgio Maggiore, the much-photographed church that guards the entrance to the Giudecca canal, opposite Piazza San Marco. This is one of Venice’s best-kept secrets. From the top of the 18th-century bell tower, 63 metres high, the whole of the city stretches away: Piazza San Marco, grand palazzi, crooked bell towers and the lacy network of canals, gleaming in the sunlight, boats whizzing up and down the Giudecca far below. Cruise passengers may no longer get that iconic view of Venice from the top deck of the big ships sailing along the Giudecca, but it’s here, in all its glory. Admiring it will cost you a mere AUD$9 – and it costs the environment nothing.

Top: SS La Venezia’s charming sun deck. Centre: the main lounge is decorated with glittering Venetian masks. Above, left: Rialto, the ship’s opulent main restaurant. Above, left: Be prepared to pampered on board. Right: With several nights moored in Venice during the cruise, there’s plenty of time to shop for masks in town.

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L VE toTRAVEL

EUROPE RIVER CRUISING 2022 Grand Opening Sale

As the world and our international borders start to re-open, it’s time to reignite your Love to Travel in 2022. Plan and book now to experience Europe on a Scenic 5-star luxury river cruise. Be immersed in historic European waterways. Rejuvenate with Scenic’s truly all-inclusive philosophy where we take care of everything. With Scenic, it’s more than a 5-star river cruise – it’s intriguing itineraries, enriching experiences and having your travel dreams met by an expert team.

15 Day River Cruise Amsterdam > Budapest

Balcony Suite from $9,595*pp Cruise the magnificent Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, passing grand palaces, romantic towns and fairytale-like castles along this ancient trade route.

Scenic’s truly all-inclusive luxury is in a class of its own.

Truly all-inclusive luxury Balcony Suites with innovative Scenic Sun Lounge Butler service with full mini-bar restocked daily All meals and premium beverages all day, every day^ Three exclusive Scenic Enrich experiences 39 Scenic Freechoice activities to personalise your days Salt Therapy Lounge plus fitness and wellness area E-bikes and Scenic Tailormade App Cruise Director and expert local guides Return airport transfers All tipping and gratuities on board and onshore

SUPER EARLYBIRD FLY BUSINESS CLASS from $2,995pp*

Jewels of Europe

Embrace your love to travel in 2022

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE Flexible Booking Policy Included*

Schermerhorn & Alkmaar

Amsterdam

Netherlands

Rhine

Germany

Cologne Main-Danube Canal

Rüdesheim Miltenberg

Bamberg Würzburg

Rothenburg

Nuremberg Danube Slovakia Dürnstein Vienna Bratislava Melk Burg 14 Salzburg Aggstein

Regensburg

Austria

STC

Budapest Hungary

SMALL-SHIP EXPERIENCE

Scan to view itinerary and offers

FLEXIBLE BOOKING POLICY

CRUISE WITH CONFIDENCE

Now is the time to book and secure this limited Super Earlybird offer Call 138 128 or your local Scenic Travel Advisor | Brochures: scenic.com.au/europe *Conditions apply. Prices and offers are based on per person, twin share in AUD, strictly limited, not combinable with other offers, and subject to availability. Super Earlybird offers are for new bookings only until 18 February 2022, unless sold out prior, and not available for bookings using a Future Travel Credit (FTC) Voucher. Fly Business Class for $2,995 per person is subject to availability ex SYD/MEL/BNE/PER and based on Business Class with Emirates in O class. If that airline and/or class is not available a surcharge may apply. Offer is available when booking selected Sapphire and Diamond Deck suites on selected departures only. Airline/airport taxes of up to $205 per person are included but may vary depending on gateway cities travelled. Any additional taxes are at guest’s expense. Airfares must be booked through Scenic. All airfare deals are scheduled for travel to best suit the tour departure and conclusion dates on available scheduled flights. Any requests outside of the tour dates may incur seasonal surcharges as enforced by the airline. We reserve the right to ticket any flights upon receipt of deposit and any subsequent changes will incur change and/or cancellation fees. To receive Super Earlybird offers full payment is required 12 months prior to departure if departure is within 12 months, payment is due in full within 7 days. From prices and offers are based on STC071122.1 in a Cat C Balcony Suite. A non-refundable deposit of $1,000pp is due within 7 days of booking. Prices correct as of 7 Oct 2021. For full terms and conditions visit scenic.com.au/terms. ABN 85 002 715 602.

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RIVER CRUISE NEWS

WELLNESS ON THE WATERWAYS

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ourishing the body, mind and soul, luxury river-cruise line Scenic offers not only a European holiday but a holistic journey on its ships. There are more than just healthy choices, a spa treatment or a yoga class: Scenic’s wellness program aims to enrich and invigorate.

/ IT’S MORE THAN AN ONBOARD GYM… Every five-star Scenic Space-Ship has a walking track on the Sun Deck and a state-of-the-art gym, plus an onboard wellness coach. You can even choose from a range of active Scenic Freechoice activities, such as guided hikes and cycling tours. / IT’S MORE THAN A BIKE RIDE… E-bikes* are complimentary for you to use on forays from a Scenic Space-Ship, and your cruise director will guide you on how to use the simple touch-pad system. You can explore further with your e-bike – independently or on a guided tour – and the bike will assist with the journey. *Excluding Portugal. / IT’S MORE THAN A SPA… Unwind in the serenity of the Salt Therapy Lounge# and breathe in the health benefits of this ancient practice. Scenic’s modern

A Scenic tour guide details the history of the Château Pichon Longueville Baron winery in Bordeaux to cruise guests; every five-star Scenic Space-Ship has an onboard wellness coach.

answer to the medieval salt caves of Europe involves salt-brick walls in a humidity- and temperature-controlled lounge. These offer a range of health benefits for your respiratory and immune systems. #Not available on Scenic Gem or Scenic Azure.

/ IT’S MORE THAN RELAXATION… The expert wellness team on your Space-Ship will ease any tired muscles or stress with a range of massage, hair and beauty treatments^. You can also take a dip in the invigorating Vitality Pool, available on the Sun Deck of selected Scenic Space-Ships. ^Additional cost for massage and hair services. / IT’S MORE THAN GOOD FOOD AND WINE… The truly all-inclusive meals and premium beverages on your Space-Ship will be a highlight of your river cruise. You will see healthy choices noted on each menu. It’s more than fine dining: it’s your choice of up to five dining venues with dishes inspired by the regional cuisines of the countries you sail through. Join cooking demonstrations in Bordeaux and the south of France, which include Scenic Culinaire, Scenic’s onboard cooking school. For more information, visit scenic.com.au. cruisepassenger.com.au

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