Page 1

Start planning your holiday

A

APRIL/MAY 2013 | £3.95

iISn w OR CRU E F TWO OLN ROYA S PRINCES

NEW TO CRUISE? Brilliant tips to help you plan your dream trip

179 AMAZING

THE WORLD’S GREATEST RIVERS 23-page guide inside

HOLIDAYS

INCREDIBLE ASIA

STUNNING DESTINATIONS, FAB ITINERARIES & LUXURY SHIPS

Uncovering hidden treasures from Burma to Ho Chi Minh City

cruise-international.com 04 9 771758 232012

PLUS MARCO PIERRE WHITE RUSSELL WATSON ATUL KOCHHAR'S RECIPES O

O


Hot sp t !

PRASLIN, SEYCHELLES With its spectacular wildlife, including the endemic Seychelles Babul and the Seychelles Black Parrot, and beautiful Vallée de Mai Nature Preserve, known for its unique coco de mer and vanilla orchids, the island of Praslin is one of the most stunning places in the world, and has even been called the ‘Garden of Eden.’ Wish you were there? We certainly do.

PHOTO: © SEYCHELLES TOURIST BOARD

>> Turn to page 13 to find out about cruises in the Seychelles


INSPIRATION


NEW TO CRUISE

!"#$%&'"'$()"#*%

EVERYTHING

PHOTO: © ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL

Cruise holidays offer an incredible range of experiences and the chance to see some of the world’s most memorable destinations in style. But if you’re booking a holiday, where do you start? We asked the experts for their top tips

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

21


!"#$"#%&'#$&()'##"#%&'&*+,"-. “A

ll cruise ships are different, so it’s a case of choosing the ship that would appeal to you most,” says Andy Harmer, director of the Association of Cruise Experts. “It could be a larger ship with plenty of facilities or a small intimate one that can access ports other ships can’t. There are river and expedition ships that explore off-the-beaten-track destinations around the world. You need to decide the style of holiday you are looking for, then think about where in the world you would like to visit.”

4

/01"+-2&*+,"-.33

“It was with Disney to the Bahamas. My son was thrilled with the kids’ club, we both learned to snorkel and I couldn’t believe how much better I slept on a ship.”

LIZ JARVIS, EDITOR

Cruises from a home port – particularly if you live nearby – can be more relaxing and cheaper than those that involve flying. If you’re not sure whether cruising is for you, “try a short cruise,” suggests P&O managing director Carol Marlow. There are more short breaks than ever before, she adds, with P&O including entertainment from top names including Russell Watson and Britain’s Got Talent duo Jonathan and Charlotte.

Decide what is most important to you – the destinations or the ship – and work from there. Some cruises have a stop every day (so you’re on board for late a!ernoon and evening) while others can be at sea for days at a time.

PHOTOS: DISNEY CRUISE LINE/UNIWORLD/ISTOCK/123RF

Watch out for all-inclusive cruises, says Silver Travel Advisor – they can be great value for those who like a drink, but if you’re a person of more modest tastes you’ll be subsidising other passengers.

River cruises offer the adventure of a cruise combined with that of an escorted tour. Excursions and guided walks are included in the price – which is very good value if you like seeing a destination to the full. Many river cruises also offer wine with dinner, leaving little else to pay for. 22

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


NEW TO CRUISE

“Be flexible,� says Raphael Giacardi, cruise deal expert at Travelzoo. “If you’re looking at booking your first cruise, you probably won’t want to pay over the odds. Prices change radically depending on the sailing date – it might be that you can score a bargain by taking the same cruise a few weeks earlier or later. Also, check how much similar cruise lines are charging for equivalent or comparable itineraries.�

O

booking look closely to see whether tipping is included – some cruise lines add a sum per person per day to your bill, which can add several hundred pounds to the cost per couple.

OWhen

if you like the good life, ultra-luxury cruising can be a great deal. Philip Ordever, VP of international sales at Crystal Cruises, says a cruise that includes champagne and other top-shelf drinks, as well as wine pairings with dinner, can be had for ÂŁ130 a day.

OHowever,

cruise travel agents have access to all the cruise lines’ offers and can often tempt you with a better deal by foregoing part of their commission.

OSpecialist

change dramatically in the run-up to a cruise, and are at their highest a few months before departure. If you’re happy with pot luck you can find bargain late bookings (especially if you hold your nerve until the last week) but these tend to be on the big ships; small vessels tend to sell out.

OPrices

best deal (at least one that gives you a good price allied with choice) comes as soon as the cruise has gone on sale, generally a year or so in advance. It might also come with money credited to your account to spend on board (and if you’re not on an all-inclusive cruise, do remember that drinks can add to your final bill). Online booking often brings a discount, maybe five per cent.

OThe

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

!"#$%"&'$(&)$ P

lan your budget – make a list of extras (tips, excursions, any travel costs) so that you know what the end price will be, and how much you’ll be happy to spend when you’re away.

There are excursions available in every port, many of which can give you a good overview of a destination. Pre-booking o!en gives you better prices, and guarantees you get the ones you want. But don’t make the mistake of feeling you need an excursion to help you see a place every time you get off the ship. Cruise lines make lots of money from them and want you to think they’re indispensable – but they can involve long spells on a coach when you’d have a nicer time just wandering around the port or city on your doorstep.

Make sure you have valid insurance – even modest Mediterranean cruises try to find new destinations, o!en outside the safety of EU medical cover. Pack swimming gear in your hand luggage so you can head straight for the pool when you get on board – your bags can take a while to be delivered on a 4,000-passenger ship

*'#+%,-&.%(+,"

/

HOW TO GET A GREAT DEAL ON YOUR CRUISE

“I went on the QE2. I fell in love with the whole concept of cruise holidays – and was really impressed with the food.�

JULIE PEASGOOD

Enjoy the ship at its best by staying on board during a full day in port – almost everyone else will have gone ashore and you’ll have the place to yourself. You’ll also often find special offers for spa treatments when the ship’s deserted.  A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

23


NEW TO CRUISE

0+/$&1(.2'/&($&3(4'5

G

“Make sure you know where to find the dining room, the gangway and the show lounge, and everything else will fall into place,” says Mike Hall, head of marketing at cruise line Cruise & Maritime Voyages.

Most dining these days is open-seating – for the chance to meet new people opt to share a larger table. Get a bonus at the bar by buying the drinks card available from some cruise lines. “You can normally choose from bottled water cards, soft drink cards and alcohol cards, or a combination,” says Lynn Narraway, UK managing director of Holland America Line. “For example, we sell a $90 card that gets you $100 of drinks.” It’s also worth preordering a drinks package if your cruise line offers one of these.

There’s always a daily newsletter, delivered the evening before, which tells you what’s going on the next day (and the weather), so you can plan. Use it to help structure an otherwise formless day at sea with themed restaurant offerings, exercise classes, activities, talks, demonstrations and shows.

!

61&7#'89&:'.#8/;; !

“I cruised down the Rhine with Uniworld and loved waking up to a new view every morning.”

JESSICA TOOZE, DEPUTY EDITOR

24

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

"#$#$%&'(()

“Control that thirst,” says Douglas Ward, one of the world’s leading cruise experts, author of the book Cruising & Cruise Ships. “You are greeted by a smiling waiter offering you a colourful, cool drink but put your fingers on the glass and he’ll ask for your cruise card.” And you’ll have paid up to £5 for what could be a weak, ice-filled drink. Bottled water is usually charged for, too – you can drink by the glass for free from the coffee station instead.

*+(,&-(.$%/

A cruise can’t make you fat – it’s eating the constant supply of free food that does that. Ships have gyms, walking and jogging circuits and plenty of stairs so there’s no excuse for not getting active. It’s easy to be over-awed by a huge, modern cruise ship but just remember that it’s full of free things to do – so relax and enjoy yourself. Above all, think of your cruise ship as a floating hotel, but one that takes you to a host of fabulous destinations - and if you don’t get to do everything, there’s always next time. Go online: See more tips for first-time cruisers and take our quiz to help you plan your holiday at cruise-international.com

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

WORDS: NICHOLAS DALTON PHOTOS: P&O/DISNEY CRUISE LINE/VIKING/ISTOCK/123RF

o to the port lectures – they might sound dull but they’re a great help if you’re planning to go it alone when you arrive. Often they’re even better – on a recent Celebrity cruise in the Adriatic the speaker was a veteran US professor whose wise guy take on the Roman Empire would have made him a great TV series host.


Italian

!"#$%&'"('

Ana Silva O’Reilly wasn’t sure what to expect from her first cruise on board MSC Splendida – but she soon felt quite at home

26

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


NEW TO CRUISE

A

s a total newcomer to cruise holidays, a long weekend cruise sounded like a risk-free trial, and the prospect of shopping in Rome, followed by exploring Genoa and Portofino, plus tapas and the beach in Barcelona, was very exciting.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS We flew to Rome early on a Friday, and after spending our day shopping and having a wonderful lunch at a taverna, transferred to the magnificent Splendida. I tried really hard to take a photo of the ship, but it was impossible – it was just too big. On board, we were lucky enough to be staying in the Yacht Club and were met by our personal butler, who quickly helped us check in and ensured our luggage magically appeared in our stateroom. The Yacht Club has 71 suites and its own lounge, bar, pool deck and spa. Like a small ship inside a ship – or a boutique hotel inside a big resort. All the staff learnt our names pretty quickly, which was a really nice touch. After we’d settled into our stateroom, which was nice and modern, we went for drinks at the Top Sail pool bar, which felt wonderfully exclusive. All guests in this area of the ship have meals in the fine dining restaurant included, as well as drinks (there is a supplement for premium spirits such as Tanqueray Ten and fine wines), but I knew it would be OK when I realised Prosecco was on tap. I couldn’t get over the wonderful views – and the excitement of being in the middle of the ocean. It was simply stunning. The Yacht Club rooms are great; everything worked perfectly, and of course I loved having a butler. I was an easy passenger really as I didn’t ask for much but I can see the appeal of having your ironing done, which I would totally use, if necessary.

“The Yacht Club rooms are great; everything worked perfectly, and of course I loved having a butler”

RELAXING ON BOARD

ANA BLOGS AT MRSOAROUNDTHEWORLD.COM PHOTOS: ISTOCK/ANA SILVA O’REILLY

I adored the Yacht Club pool deck, a huge area with a bar, lounging chairs, a pool, two Jacuzzis and a viewing deck. It was super spacious and not crowded at all. There are more sun loungers than guests... so even at full capacity, it would never look too busy. The Aurea spa was wonderful – it was one of the best experiences ever, and I have had a few massages and facials around the world. The treatment rooms are state of the art, and the view... wow, that will be difficult to replicate anywhere else. The Yacht Club lounge is fabulous – just like any luxury hotel lounge – with simple meals and drinks available throughout the day.

INCREDIBLE SIGHTSEEING Our visit to beautiful Portofino was magical, and we had plenty of time to explore Genoa – the home of focaccia, pesto and Christopher Columbus. It made me want to return again. In Barcelona we relaxed on the beach before catching our flight home, which was just what we wanted. We had an amazing weekend on our first cruise – not a lot of sleep, but we returned to the UK feeling happy and chilled. Next time I’d love to go with a big group of friends. Left: Portofino. Above, from top: Ana relaxing; with her husband Simon; enchanting Italy; plenty of space on the Yacht Club pool deck

Go online: Read more first-time cruiser reviews at cruise-international.com For more on MSC Cruises see msccruises.co.uk

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

27


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Rivers

world PHOTOS: © ISTOCK/CORBIS/AVALONWATERWAYS/UNIWORLD

OF THE

F

rom the longest river on earth, the magnificent Nile, to the Amazon, the Yangtze, the Mississippi, and the stunning rivers of Europe, great waterways cut through some of the most incredible places in the world. Rivers can carry you to fascinating sights including the famous Lorelei Rock in Germany’s beautiful and historic upper middle Rhine valley, the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat on the Mekong River in Cambodia, the baroque architecture of St Petersburg, and many more. Here we explore these wonderful rivers and the treasures that line their banks and discover how you can see them for yourselves with some of the world’s best cruise holidays.

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

63


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

PHOTOS: Š UNIWORLD/RHIAN COLLEY

Mekong The mighty Mekong (translated from the Thai, Mae Nam Khong, or ‘The Mother of Water’) rises together with the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers from the Tibetan Plateau and then runs through China’s Yunnan province and onwards, entering Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam until it reaches the South China Sea. Broadly, navigation of the river is divided between the upper and lower Mekong, broken by the Khone Falls in southern Laos. The mountainous upper stretches are the background for scenic cruises between Houaysay in northern Laos and the ancient royal capital of Luang Prabang. In the south of the country, you can explore the natural beauty of Champasak province and the region of the so-called 4,000 islands and the largest waterfalls in Asia. Most Mekong cruise itineraries though tend to go from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam, or vice versa. This offers the chance to see the watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages in the ricegrowing area of the Mekong Delta, the capital and largest city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, and one of the most important archaeological sites in SouthEast Asia, the temples of Angkor.  CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights – APT Cruise the mighty Mekong in style with APT’s fabulous holiday, highlights of which include Ho Chi Minh City, the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda at Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and the last capital of the Khmer empire, Angkor Thom, and a seven-night cruise. 14 days from Saigon to Siem Reap on 1 June 2013 costs from £3,395pp. aptouring.com

Clockwise from main: The Mekong near Luang Prabang; a young Buddhist monk; riding elephants through the rainforest; Luang Prabang morning market (Laos) A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

65


Yangtze The third longest river in the world, the Yangtze flows from its source in Qinghai Province, where it is called Tongtian (‘through heaven’), almost 4,000 miles eastwards through China’s dramatic and varied scenery into the East China Sea at Shanghai, dividing China into north and south. Most cruises travel between Chongqing and Wuhan in the southwest, through the thousands of years of history and timeless beauty of the Three Gorges to the modern magnificence of the Three Gorges Hydroelectric River Dam, which spans the Yangtze and, at more than five times the size of Hoover Dam, is the largest in the world. Many of the luxury cruise companies also offer the opportunity for you to combine your holiday with land tours and/or rail journeys so you can experience the best of China and meld the wonders of the Yangtze with a visit to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors in Xian or the Great Wall of China. Make sure you also have time to explore Beijing. Visit Tiananmen Square; tour the mysterious Forbidden City; walk among the elegant buildings and landscaped grounds of the 700-acre Summer Palace; and stroll along the Sacred Way, a tree-lined avenue of massive animal sculptures guarding the Ming Tombs. Left: Cruising through the Three Gorges. Below: Beijing’s Imperial Palace or Forbidden City where, for the five centuries of its operation, ordinary Chinese were forbidden from even approaching the walls

Impressions of China & the Yangtze – Uniworld

PHOTOS: © CHRISTINE KOLISCH/CORBIS/UNIWORLD

This wonderful trip features a full programme of excursions, including the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. 10 days from Shanghai to Beijing on 15 June 2013, costs from £3, 129pp if booked before 24 March 2013 (saving £750pp). titan.co.uk/uniworld

66

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Irrawaddy Burma’s largest river and most important commercial waterway and lifeline, the Irrawaddy flows from north to south through this time warp of a country that, in many ways, has changed very little since British colonial times. The tourism boycott that persuaded many to steer clear of Burma (or Myanmar) for over a decade has been lifted and this once isolated nation now welcomes visitors while its beauty and charm have remained unspoilt. The Irrawaddy (or Ayeyarwady) is one of the most pleasurable ways to see Burma. As you glide by, children run along the riverbank from small teak and bamboo dwellings, ox carts cultivate the fields and elegant monasteries and ancient temples rise above the trees. During dry season it’s possible to travel from Bhamo, just 50 miles from the Chinese border, and discover the remote northernmost reaches of the Irrawaddy. The most common cruise though is from Bagan to Mandalay, exploring 2,000-year-old temples, remote villages and important Buddhist sites in this mysterious yet welcoming country.  Left: Stupas stand on a hillside in the holy city of Bagan, on the flood plain of the Irrawaddy River

Images of a Golden Land – Orient Express Make this cruise part of your Burma adventure and visit Bagan, where the ruins of more than 2,000 temples stretch into the distance; cruise the Irrawaddy to Mingun and enjoy a guided tour of Mandalay; and see Sagaing, considered to be the centre of the Buddhist faith. Five days from Bagan to Mandalay on 5 October 2013 costs from £1,830pp. orient-express.com

 CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

67


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

New Orleans to Memphis – American Queen Steamboat Company

Mississippi updated for the 21st century. These cruises travel through remnants of an era when, in the years before the Civil War, plantation wealth made this part of the Mississippi home to perhaps two-thirds of the country’s millionaires. Voyage aboard a genuine paddlewheel steamer and while it might have large balconies, wi-fi in every stateroom and satellite TVs, you can still imagine times gone by as you visit historic ports of call like New Orleans, Nashville and Pittsburgh – a wonderful way to experience the American South from past to present. Above: Beautiful wooded scenery on the banks of the Mississippi. Below: The New Orleans skyline seen from the river

PHOTOS: © MISSISSIPPI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY/CORBIS/RHIAN COLLEY

Rising in northern Minnesota and meandering slowly southwards for 2,530 miles to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi is the world’s fourth longest river. The Mississippi River Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions of the United States, which resulted in the river’s storied steamboat era of around 1830 to 1870, and it is in this region, the south-central United States, where you can best experience the history, heritage and culture of America’s heartland on a cruise. Between 2008 and 2012 cruises were virtually nonexistent here when the river was beset with flooding and an oil spill, and two lines operating on the river went bust. But they’re back in business and the golden age of Mississippi steamboats is being recreated and

Enjoy a journey on board a wonderful steamboat, and visit the historic towns that line the Lower Mississippi River, including Natchez, Mississippi and Helena, Arkansas. Nine days between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee on 2 November 2013 costs from £1,341pp. gorivercruise.com

70

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Amazon Expedition Cruise – Aqua Expeditions

Amazon The Amazon River is huge, expanding during the wet season to 30 miles wide or more. It contains a fifth of all the water in all the rivers in the world, and the amount it discharges into the Atlantic is greater than that of the next seven largest rivers combined, ten times that of the Mississippi alone. The river runs through Brazil, Columbia and Peru – and you can cruise on big ships and small, although the larger vessels primarily sail only as far as Manaus in Brazil. More traditional vessels can venture deeper into the river’s Peruvian roots, where the banks are covered by dense, lush rainforest. And for most people who yearn to come here, venturing into the heart of the jungle, the wildlife is the main draw. The Amazon rainforest is home to more than one-third of all animal species in the world and more than 2,100 species of fish swim in the river basin alone. The Bolivian section of the river is a great place to spot wildlife such as caimans, piranhas (you can fish them and eat them for breakfast), monkeys, macaws and pink river dolphins. Boat trips here often include a jungle walk to a native Amazon community. You can also cruise along Amazon’s three powerful tributaries: the Maraùón, the Ucayali, and the Puinahua and visit Pacaya Samiria Reserve, a world filled with brilliant birds, playful Amazon monkeys, graceful hawks and herons and millions of butterflies But where human life is scarce your river ship will bring all the luxuries of home into the rainforest with you, allowing both creatures and comfort. 

Join the beautiful MV Aqua in Iquitos, Peru for a luxury adventure experiencing the Amazon’s three powerful tributaries, the Maraùón, the Ucayali, and the Puinahua, as well as several hidden black water lakes. Combine this cruise with a pre-departure or post-cruise Peru tour of Machu Picchu, Lima and Cusco and you have the makings of an unforgettable holiday. An eightday round trip from Iquitos departs every Saturday and costs from £4,000pp. aquaexpeditions.com Clockwise from above: The Amazon River at sunrise; travelling down the Amazon River basin; see the wildlife up close from your ship

For most people who yearn to come here, venturing into the heart of the jungle, the wildlife is the main draw. The Amazon rainforest is home to more than one-third of all animal species in the world and more than 2,100 species of fish swim in the river basin alone CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

71


PHOTOS: Š PHILIPPE BODY/HEMIS/CORBIS/TONY CRADDOCK/SANCTUARY RETREATS

As the sun-god Ra was believed to be ferried across the sky daily in a boat, cruising is an easy way to visit the sites of old, from Karnak to the Valley of the Kings

72

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Nile The River Nile conjures images of Pharaohs and hieroglyphics, of ancient temples and deserts and valleys, and of sun-baked sands turned into fertile flats with the annual floods. But the Egyptian Nile Valley with its mummies and pyramids is only a section of this, the world’s longest river, which flows north from Rwanda through Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Cruises on the Nile focus on the magnificent Egyptian stretch between the tourist mecca of Luxor and beautiful Aswan – this section is home to the nation’s best-preserved monuments. And as the sun-god Ra was believed to be ferried across the sky daily in a boat, cruising is an easy way to visit the sites of old – Luxor, Karnak, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Dendera, the Valley of the Queens and Valley of the Kings all converge on the banks of the river. The Cairo-to-Luxor section of the Nile reopened to cruise ships last year after a 15-year ban that was put in place due to concern over water levels. Now you can also visit The Great Pyramid, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the iconic site of the Sphinx.  Clockwise from below: Pyramids of Giza; the Nile at Aswan in the evening; a mosque on Nile river side at Cairo; Sanctuary Sun Boat IV, one of the finest ships operating on the Nile

Wonders of the Nile Cruise – Cosmos Tours and Cruises See the stunning sights of ancient Egypt as you cruise through boundless desert landscapes. An eight-day round-trip from Luxor on 22 April 2013 costs from £1,004pp. cosmostoursandcruises.co.uk

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

73


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Rhine

PHOTOS: Š VIKING RIVER CRUISES/AVALON WATERWAYS

Winding 830km northeast from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, the Rhine has defined this part of the European continent for centuries – as the historic barrier between Celtic and Germanic tribes, as the backbone of the Frankish, Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires and, later, as the much disputed border between France and Germany. One of the most spectacular sites in Europe must be the view from the river as it winds through the Rhine Gorge, a 65km section of the Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany. Steep vine-clad cliffs slope sharply skywards from quaint clustered villages on the river’s banks, crumbling castles from ancient times perched precariously on promontories above. And as well as this magnificent stretch of the ‘heroic Rhine’ of literature and legend, there are many more stunning vistas and historic sites along its route, justifiably making it one of the world’s most popular rivers with cruise holidaymakers – from Basel in Switzerland to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the river winds through the beautiful Alsace region of France, multicultural Strasbourg, and the ancient cities of Speyer and Cologne. 

One of the most spectacular sites in Europe must be the view from the river as it winds through the Rhine Gorge between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany

Top right: The instantly recognisable shape of Cologne’s cathedral, seen from the river. Right: Bernkastel-Kues is a well-known wine-growing centre

Rhine Discovery – Viking River Cruises Visit all the highlights of the legendary Rhine in just eight days. See the castles commanding the riverbanks as you sail through the Gorge and experience the lush landscape of the Black Forest region. Sail from Amsterdam to Basel on 18 October 2013 from £1,995pp. vikingrivercruises.co.uk

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

75


Danube Deep in the Black Forest of Germany the Danube begins its journey towards the Black Sea, passing through ten countries and four European capitals. Discover the music of the river immortalised by Strauss in the Blue Danube waltz for yourself as it flows through an ever-changing landscape of picturesque valleys and perfect panoramas, its glorious banks forming a patchwork of picturebook castles, medieval monasteries, luscious vineyards, historic cities and tranquil villages. The river is ideal for cruise holidays and offers many diverse wonders, from Austria’s picturesque Wachau Valley and the magnificent cities of Budapest and Bratislava, to imperial Vienna and Romania’s impressive Iron Gates Gorge. Most cruises run from April until October, starting from various points in Passau, Vienna and Budapest, sailing upstream to Vienna and touring riverside towns of cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses along the way. Above right: On the Austrian border at the confluence of the rivers Inn, Ilz and Danube, Passau is a lively, cosmopolitan city. Right: Budapest and the Hungarian national parliament

A Taste of the Danube – Budapest to Vienna – Avalon Waterways

PHOTOS: © VIKING RIVER CRUISES/AVALON WATERWAYS/JEAN-BAPTISTE RABOUAN/HEMIS/CORBIS/ISTOCK

This itinerary takes in the picturesque towns of Dürnstein, Melk and Linz and the lively capitals of Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. A nine-day cruise on 8 October 2013 costs from £1,465pp. avalonwaterways.com

76

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Elbe Perhaps the least well known of central Europe’s major rivers, a cruise on the Elbe is the perfect way to see the natural beauty of Saxony and discover the treasures of Germany and the Czech Republic. From Bohemia in the northwest the river runs through beautiful countryside and historic cities all the way into the North Sea near Hamburg where the Elbe basin is home to some of the most rewarding and breathtaking vistas of Europe. Bookended by stays in buzzing Berlin and picturesque Prague, an Elbe cruise allows you to tour the opulent palaces of Saxon monarchs, glide between the dramatic sandstone cliffs of Germany’s ‘Saxon Switzerland’, marvel at the beautifully restored capital city of Saxony, Dresden, and see how the famous Meissenware porcelain is produced. You may also have the opportunity to visit the well-known Wittenberg Church where Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in 1517, beginning the Protestant Reformation.  Clockwise from left: A couple look over the green dome of the church of St Francis of Assisi in Prague; aerial view of Prague’s old town, which contains the majority of the city’s most famous tourist sights; the old city of Dresden where the Baroque streetscape of its glory days shines once more after horrific WWII bombing CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A cruise on the Elbe is the perfect way to see the natural beauty of Saxony and discover the treasures of Germany and the Czech Republic

Music Along The Elbe – Noble Caledonia Discover the natural beauty of former East Germany’s dramatic landscape whilst cruising along the Elbe River from historic Berlin to beautiful Prague. This 11-day cruise costs from £3,095pp on 7 October 2013. noble-caledonia. co.uk

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

77


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Douro and Po A wonderful way to explore the southern European countries of Italy, Portugal and Spain is by river, and new cruise itineraries have been launched that offer distinctive experiences. Italian cruises on the Po River start in the unique waterways of Venice, where cruise ships can moor along the astonishing quayside from St Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal. The islands of Burano and Murano in the Venice lagoon are well worth visiting, while longer cruises offer excursions to cities such as Padua and Verona. From Portugal’s second city of Porto the scenic River Douro extends inland through vineyards producing the port wine for which this region is famous. A Douro river cruise travels upstream through steep gorges almost to the Spanish border and offers time to explore the historic Spanish city of Salamanca, the churchshrine of Lamego over 600 steps above the town, and the Baroque Mateus Palace at Vila Real.  Clockwise from above: Riviera Paleocapa in Padua and in the backround the Specola Tower and ancient astronomical observatory; vineyard of Porto Wine; Rebelo boats in the Douro framed by the old city of Oporto

PHOTOS: Š ISTOCK

Enticing Douro – AMA Waterways Journey down the Douro River, with its dramatic gorges, lush vineyards, and tranquil fishing villages. A seven-day cruise from Porto on 5 November costs from £1,499pp. amawaterways.co.uk

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

79


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

Rhône and Seine The Seine and Rhône Rivers are wonderful routes into the heart of France, allowing you to access the north of the country, including Paris and Normandy, or head south to the sunny Rhône, visiting lively Chalon-sur-Saône and Avignon. A Seine cruise of course takes you into the heart of Paris, dubbed the world’s most romantic city, but there’s plenty more to see along the way. Experience history firsthand at the Normandy beaches, site of the Allied invasion on D-Day in 1944; delight in the Gothic architecture of Rouen, and see where Joan of Arc was tried and executed; lose yourself in the exquisite gardens of Giverny that inspired the Impressionist painter Claude Monet; and walk the cobblestone streets of provincial Vernon. The Rhône River flows to the Mediterranean through the gastronomic capital of Lyon and the picturesque wine regions of Beaujolais and Cotes du Rhone. Cruising north from Lyon to Chalon-surSaône are Tournus and the pretty pastoral villages of Beaujolais and the Maconnais wine region. South of Lyon Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage face each other across the Rhone, and as the river approaches the Mediterranean, the famous bridge at Avignon and the huge Palace of the Popes appears on the horizon.  Above right: A Bordeaux vineyard. Right: Lyon, famous for its gastronomy; there are more restaurants per Gothic and Renaissance square metre of the old town than anywhere else on earth

PHOTOS: Š ISTOCK/SAGA

Enchanting Rhône – Scenic Tours Glide through the famous Beaujolais wine region and sample the local produce, before arriving in Lyon, the gastronomic heart of France. This eight-day cruise on 1 April 2013 costs from £1,695pp. scenictours.co.uk

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

81


GREATEST RIVER JOURNEYS

A cruise of the waterways will take you from ancient Golden Ring towns such as Yaroslavl, Uglich and Mandrogy to the great cities of Moscow and St Petersburg

Palaces by the Water – IntouristUK This cruise route from Moscow to St Petersburg captures the best of these two Russian giants as well as almost everything in between. The 12day trip costs from £1,280pp on 17 September 2013. intouristuk.com

heading off to see the opulent palaces, monasteries and cathedrals of this unique country. In St Petersburg you can also board a canal boat for a short cruise, traveling down the Fontanka and Kryukov Canal. You will have an incomparable view of the city’s beautiful baroque and neoclassical architecture, and pass under some of its 400 bridges, including the iconic Palace Bridge over the Neva.

PHOTOS: © PRINCESS CRUISES/ISTOCK

Clockwise from above: The Kremlin in Moscow; St Michael’s Cathedral, Kiev; Russian dolls; The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St Petersburg; St Petersburg is a fascinating city, with high art, lavish architecture, an extraordinary history and rich cultural traditions. Previous page: The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood at sunset

Moscow to St Petersburg – Volga Dream Volga Dream is the ideal vessel if you’re seeking an intimate cruise experience. This journey includes stays in five-star hotels in Moscow and St Petersburg and tours in a group of no more then 15 guests. A 12-day cruise on 7 September 2013 costs from £2,855pp. volgadream.com 84

| A PR IL /M AY 2013

CRU ISE-I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM


ASK THE EXPERTS

Ask the !"#$%&' Got a question about cruise holidays? Get in touch with our experts at info@cruise-international.com

Q

How far in advance should you book a cruise in order to get the best deal? A. The most important aspect of a cruise is selecting the right cruise line, ship, itinerary and date so that holiday expectations will be met and you’ll have a wonderful time. Once that decision is made, it is then important to act early as availability is limited, particularly on popular itineraries. A cruise is different to a hotel where you can simply move your dates a few days either side to find availability. As cruise ships sail on fixed itineraries, you may miss your preferred choice if your dates don’t match. Booking early also ensures you get the best choice of accommodation on your chosen sailing. And obviously booking early means you can start planning your holiday – you may want to arrange a number of trips ashore, a special treat in the spa or perhaps a romantic dinner for two in a speciality restaurant to make your cruise holiday even more memorable. And, of course, your local ACE member travel agent can help you with all these selections – sifting through the many different cruise lines and destinations to find the perfect one for you. Andy Harmer

Q

I’m thinking about taking a cruise to Africa – do you have any tips about where to go/who to travel with?

A. Having just cruised around South Africa, and found it one of the most exciting, diverse and spectacular places I’ve ever visited, I would encourage you to book your cruise asap. There is so much to see, but my top tips would be to take in the craft markets in Cape Town, and to go on excursions to the nearby award-winning vineyards and The Garden Route. (Best of all, treat yourselves to an early morning hot-air balloon ride over the vineyards if you can.) I would also pick a cruise that stops at Walvis Bay in Namibia – from here you can fly inland to Omguma and experience a magical safari which isn’t commercialised. Many cruises also take in Madagascar and Mauritius, both blessed with beautiful beaches. It’s also a very favourable time for us to visit currency-wise: a glass of wine costs around £1.25, and main meals are between £5 and £7. Fred. Olsen, Regent, Crystal, Holland America, Cunard and P&O all offer cruises to Africa – so you’re spoilt for choice for what to do and who to travel with. Julie Peasgood

Q

I keep hearing about private jet cruising. Can you tell me a bit more about it?

PHOTOS: © PRINCESS CRUISES/CAPTAIN’S CHOICE

()*'+*'',$-'+$"#$%&'

Andy Harmer is Director of ACE, the Association of Cruise Experts (cruiseexperts.org)

CRU ISE -I N T ER NAT IONA L .COM

Julie Peasgood is a TV presenter, travel expert and Contributing Editor for Cruise International

Gary Bartelings is the Director of The Captain’s Choice Tour (captainschoice. co.uk)

A. Private jet cruising is when you take the same plane from one destination to another – just as you would a ship. The advantage is that you’re able to stay overnight or longer, so you can really immerse yourself in the culture and history of the regions you’re travelling to, and you’re able to get much closer to famous sights such as the Himalayas. You’re also fully escorted. So for example at The Captain’s Choice we offer itineraries including a journey from Istanbul to Russia which takes you into the heart of the Ukraine. You stop off to explore each destination and stay overnight or longer, and you don’t have to worry about your luggage as this is taken care of, and expedited customs and immigration is arranged where possible. Itineraries can include river and ship cruises, which makes them very popular with those who love cruising but want to try something different. Gary Bartelings A PR IL /M AY 2013 |

95

Cruise free preview  

Cruise International Free Preview

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you