The American Queen Steamboat Company Acquires New Ship, Expands Westward and Partners with the National Trust

Featured

American Empress joins fleet, Pacific Northwest Voyages begin April 2014

The American Queen Steamboat Company, owner and operator of the U.S-flagged American Queen, has purchased the Empress of the North from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) for an undisclosed amount. To be renamed the American Empress, the vessel is scheduled to resume sailings on the great rivers of the Pacific Northwest April 2014, calling her homeport Portland, Ore. The American Empress will deliver riverboat opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake American Queen, and proudly serve as the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River.

american empress

The American Queen Steamboat Company has added a new boat, the American Empress, to the fleet.


“The American Queen has ushered in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising, welcoming thousands to discover the heartland of the United States and its iconic port cities,” shares Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “Now the American Empress will continue that tradition as an ambassador to the Pacific Northwest, a region equally rich in American and natural history.”

A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in 112 staterooms in seven categories. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore. and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash.

In describing the American Empress, Sykes said: “The staterooms are very spacious and they are all outside. She is not a steamboat, but she is a paddlewheeler, so the look and feel is similar to the American Queen. They are both American icons. The Empress will be refurbished before she is put into operation next April.” He added that there has been huge interest in the new boat by current passengers, and expects that many of the 600,000 Americans who go overseas for river cruising will look to exploring the rivers of their own country.

In describing the all-inclusive nature of the American Empress cruise, Sykes added that there would be some premium shore experiences, such as jet boating on the Snake River, which would carry an extra cost. These would be fully commissionable to travel agents.

The company has also partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which helps preserve American heritage, culture and promote National Treasures. As a key feature to the partnership, the American Queen Steamboat Company will make a corporate donation of five dollars to the National Trust for every river cruise booking as well as give guests the opportunity to match the donation.

Beginning June 30, 2013, American Queen travelers will have the opportunity to learn more about the National Trust’s National Treasure sites, located along the Mississippi River as well as the Pacific Northwest, where the American Empress will launch in April 2014. Special attention to preservation concepts and techniques, as well as the work of architects, historians and other professionals in the field of historic preservation will be highlighted onboard and onshore.

“We are proud to partner with the American Queen Steamboat Company and help bring America’s National Treasures to life,” shares Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust. “These places along our great waterways present the diversity of our nation’s built history and remind all of us of the importance of preserving the irreplaceable places that tell America’s stories.”

Through the partnership with the National Trust, American Queen Steamboat Company will become a contributing sponsor for four of the National Trust’s National Treasures: Mississippi Delta Heritage Area, Manhattan Project Historic Sites in Washington State, Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks in Oregon and a future site to be named at a later date.

“Thousands of guests onboard the American Queen have rediscovered the treasures the U.S. heartland has to offer over the past year,” said Ted Sykes. “We are honored to play a role in the preservation of these sites with the National Trust and add new treasures for our guest experience as the American Empress sets sail in April 2014 on the majestic Columbia and Snake Rivers.”

American Queen Steamboat Company
The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is the owner and operator of the U.S. flagged American Queen, the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world. Longer than a football field, towering six decks in height and laced with fanciful gingerbread trim, she is a marvel of modern engineering. Her journeys through the heartland offer a unique perspective on America’s history, culture and landscape with convenient departures from some of America’s most iconic river port cities including Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and St. Paul. In April 2014, the AQSC will begin serving the Pacific Northwest with the opulence and grandeur of the American Empress. For additional information and reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online or call a professional travel agent.

The American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils Guest Loyalty Program

Featured

The American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils Guest Loyalty Program: “Steamboat Society of America”

Much of the American Queen Steamboat Company’s early success can be attributed to guests sharing stories of their memorable trips with friends, family and booking another voyage shortly after arriving home.

Valued return guests share a passion for U.S. river cruising and can now join the Steamboat Society of America, the company’s loyalty program, for special benefits and rewards on the American Queen and soon-to-be sailing American Empress (April 2014). Among the many benefits, guests receive their 10th cruise free.*

“As I visit with American Queen guests onboard I am always amazed how many have already sailed on multiple voyages with us and are now setting their sights to explore the Pacific Northwest on the American Empress,” shares the company’s President and COO Ted Sykes. “The Steamboat Society of America rewards our most loyal guests and encourages them to share their stories of why they are hooked on river cruising with the American Queen Steamboat Company.”

Among the benefits to the free Steamboat Society of America loyalty program are the following:

· A $100 per guest credit on each cruise and $200 per guest credit towards a future cruise fare when booked with deposit while onboard

· Priority check-in and early vessel pre-boarding

· Member access for breakfast or lunch when American Queen or American Empress are in port near home town and family or friend tours of the boat when sailing **

· Credits toward future cruise fares for members referring friends who book***

· Dedicated reservations line providing special service for members

· Private cocktail party for members-only hosted by the captain and executive officers onboard

*Up to $3,899 per person
**Subject to availability and reservations in advance
***$100 per referred guest booking and $100 per guest booking when providing member’s name at time of booking

To learn more about the Steamboat Society of America, request additional information and make reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online or contact a professional travel agent.

American Queen Steamboat Company

The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is the owner and operator of the U.S. flagged American Queen, the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world. Longer than a football field, towering six decks in height and laced with fanciful gingerbread trim, she is a marvel of modern engineering. Her journeys through the heartland offer a unique perspective on America’s history, culture and landscape with convenient departures from some of America’s most iconic river port cities including Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and St. Paul. In April 2014, the AQSC will begin serving the Pacific Northwest with the opulence and grandeur of the American Empress. For additional information and reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online

New loyalty program for American Queen guests

American Queen Steamboat Company unveils new loyalty program.

or call a professional travel agent.

MSC Roadshow for Agents

Featured

During the MSC Agent Roadshow, agents can discover the latest highlights about the soon-to-arrive MSC Divina.

In October 2013, MSC Cruises kicks off its North American travel agent road show with presentations in New York, NY, King of Prussia, PA, Miami, FL and Toronto and Montreal, Canada. MSC expects to reach more than 400 agents during the tour. (Dates for MSC’s 2014 road shows are to be announced.)

NOTE: Road show events below are by invitation only and on an RSVP basis as space is limited

Agents will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the MSC sales team, discover the latest highlights about the soon-to-arrive MSC Divina, learn about the company’s overall commitment to the North American market as well as its policies, procedures and overall agency support. All events will include dinner presentations and special giveaways for agents.

“This upcoming road show is part of our ongoing commitment to working with agents and helping them grow their business,” said Ken Muskat, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, MSC Cruises USA. “They are truly our number one resource. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with our loyal travel partners and strengthen our relationships, while giving them a taste of what’s to come in North America.”

For more information, contact sales.service@.

MSC North America Roadshow Dates:

New York, NY
October 9, 2013
6:00-8:30PM
Crowne Plaza
66 Hale Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: (914) 682-0050
RSVP: http://bit.ly/WhitePlainsNY

King of Prussia, PA
October 10, 2013
6:30-8:30 PM
Little Italy’s Maggianos
160 N. Gulph Road, Suite 205
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone: (610) 992-3333
RSVP: http://bit.ly/KingOfPrussiaPA

Miami, FL
October 15, 2013
6:30-8:30 PM
Intercontinental Doral of Miami
2505 Northwest 87th Avenue
Doral, Florida 33172
Phone: (305) 468-1400
RSVP: http://bit.ly/MiamiFLA

Toronto, Canada
October 29th
5:30-8:30 PM
Sapore by Zafferano
8000 Highway #27
Woodbridge
located just north of Highway #407 on Highway #27
Phone: 905.851.3355

Montreal, Quebec
October 30th
Ristorante Bice
1504 Sherbrooke Street West
H3G 1L3
Phone: 514.937-6009

About MSC Divina
Christened by legendary actress and “diva” Sophia Loren, MSC Divina features 1,751 staterooms, 322,900 square feet of public space, a casino, seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools (including an infinity pool), a bowling alley, theater, gym, spa, internet café, conference center, kids and teen areas, and the lines signature ship within a ship, MSC Yacht Club.

American Queen Steamboat Company Celebrates River Traditions with 2013 Old Fashioned Holidays Voyages

Featured

Celebrate the holidays Cajun-style aboard the American Queen.

“ ‘Tis the season” and “deck the halls” aboard the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world on the mighty Mississippi River. The American Queen Steamboat Company is stuffing stockings and celebrating classic Cajun and Creole traditions of the antebellum south. Three Old Fashioned Holidays on the American Queen have limited availability remaining with sailings from New Orleans roundtrip or between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn.

“This December guests on the American Queen will be immersed in Lower Mississippi holiday traditions celebrated by generations,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “We look forward to sharing these many traditions in luxurious fashion and creating lasting memories all will enjoy.”

Holiday itineraries offer guests authentic experiences including the old Louisiana tradition of bonfires on the levees, special Christmas shows in the Grand Saloon, door-decorating contests, the reading of the Cajun Night Before Christmas and nationally renowned Mississippi woodcarver Jim Moore carving a Victorian Santa onboard. Seasonal culinary delights and decadent desserts including a Creole Réveillon Christmas Dinner, prepared by Culinary Director Regina Charboneau’s team, as well as a shore side Cajun deep fried turkey cooking demonstration will be among the tasty highlights.


Voyages in 2013 are the following:

· The nine-day Old Fashioned Holidays voyage begins in Memphis, Tenn. to New Orleans on Dec. 6 and an upriver voyage is available from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn. beginning Dec. 20 with itineraries calling on favorites including Vicksburg, Miss.; Natchez, Miss.; and Helena, Ark.

· One special nine-night New Orleans roundtrip Old Fashioned Holidays voyage departs Dec. 13, featuring the ports of Oak Alley, La.; St. Francisville, La.; Houmas House, La; Natchez, Miss.; and Baton Rouge, La.

The culinary highlight of each sailing, the typical Réveillon menu served in homes along the Mississippi River or the fine restaurants of New Orleans’ French Quarter included Daube glace or veal grillades, egg dishes, breads, puddings and often included turtle soup and oysters. Naturally there was always an abundance of wines, cordials and fortified drinks. Eventually this tradition slowly began to disappear like many classic holiday traditions on the river. As the Réveillon is revived on the American Queen steamboat, Chef Charboneau’s menu will include Sazerac and Champagne Cocktails, Tomato Aspic with Fried Oysters, Deviled Eggs with Lump Crabmeat and Caviar, Pheasant Gumbo, Pork Grillades over Savory Grits, Almond Tarts and Bouche Noel. This festive dinner will be re-created in the J.M White Dining Room.

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, nine-day Old Fashioned Holidays fares begin at $2,495 per person based on double occupancy. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and a host of other amenities. For additional information and reservations, kindly contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online or call a professional travel agent.

Cruise Year Round From Berlin to the Heart of Prague with CroisiEurope


Cruise Year Round From Berlin to the Heart of Prague on the Elbe & Moldau with CroisiEurope

Berlin–Magdebourg–Wittenberg–Meissen–Dresden–Litoměřice–Prague

Beginning in the spring of 2016, it will be possible to cruise year round from Berlin to the heart of Prague along the Elbe and Moldau (Vltava) rivers thanks to the launch of CroisiEurope’s newest ship, the MS Elbe Princesse.

Following in the footsteps of sister ship MS Loire Princesse, the MS Elbe Princesse has also been designed using advanced paddle wheel technology allowing it to travel year round in the lowest water levels of the Elbe – something that vessels with regular propulsion are unable to do.

Inspired by ancient technique, the MS Elbe Princesse is 321.5 feet long with two decks and two paddle wheels on the back. It has 40 spacious outside staterooms and can accommodate 80 guests in maximum comfort offering Wi-Fi, air conditioning and heating, flat screens, hair dryer and safe. The ship also features a panoramic restaurant that can accommodate all guests for single-service dining, a welcoming lounge bar with a central dance floor and a large sun deck with chairs. The stylish and contemporary décor throughout the ship features fabrics by MissoniHome creating a warm and inviting atmosphere onboard.

Beginning in April 2016, the MS Elbe Princesse will visit iconic sites along the Elbe and Moldau including, Berlin; Potsdam and the Sans Soucis Park; Wittenberg, town of Luther; Meissen and its porcelain; Dresden, the Florence on the Elbe; Elbsansteingebirge, with its natural and architectural wonders; Litoměřice, one of the most beautiful cities in the Czech Republic; and Prague, the mythical golden city. Thanks to its size, this new ship will be able to port in the heart of these towns near historical centers and landmarks, which is a key selling point.

The MS Elbe Princesse will be built in the prestigious world renowned shipyard of Saint-Nazaire.

With its extensive fleet cruising on the loveliest rivers in Europe combined with this new and innovative project, CroisiEurope continues to demonstrate its leadership, creativity and dynamism in river tourism after 39 years in the business.

About CroisiEurope

Established in 1976, CroisiEurope has been a leader in affordable European river cruises for nearly 40 years. Based in Strasbourg, France, CroisiEurope is headquartered at the epicenter of Europe with offices in Paris, Lyon, Nice, Brussels, Lausanne, Madrid, London and New York. With an English-speaking crew of 700, this family owned company operates 43 vessels that sail along Europe’s most famous rivers, canals and coasts. Passengers can choose from a variety of itineraries that explore picturesque riverside cities in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Germany and Belgium while treating guests to an on-board gastronomic dining experience designed alongside Michelin-starred chefs, unlimited beverages and free Wi-Fi. Today, CroisiEurope offers cruises not only in Europe but also in the Mediterranean, Russia, Vietnam and Cambodia. For more information about CroisiEurope, please visit the website or call (800) 768-7232.

Uniworld’s Queen of the Nile, River Tosca, Resumes Sailing Egypt’s Legendary River

Uniworld’s River Tosca


Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced they will set sail once again on Egypt’s great Nile River onboard the elegant, all-suite River Tosca, commencing October 2015.

Uniworld is one of several companies in The Travel Corporation family of brands, including Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, and Contiki, to bring back travel to Egypt. According to The Travel Corporation’s CEO, Brett Tollman, “We are seeing a pent-up demand for the destination and are delighted to be able to elevate our support for this truly remarkable part of the world.”

Uniworld will resume its first sailing on October 3, 2015 with “Splendors of Egypt & the Nile,” a 12-day program starting and ending in Cairo. Guests will spend four nights at the luxurious Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza—recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of the finest hotels—and they will spend seven nights onboard the elegant 82-passenger all-suite River Tosca—recognized by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism in 2012 as “Best Cruise Ship” out of nearly 300 cruise ships sailing the Nile River. “Egypt is one of the most awe-inspiring destinations that I have ever visited, and one that no culturally curious traveler will want to miss. I am delighted we are able to resume sailing the Nile and taking our guests to Egypt’s most historic sites,” states Guy Young, President of Uniworld.

From the moment guests arrive in Egypt, Uniworld’s team of dedicated professionals will be on hand to take care of all guests’ details. Egyptologist lead small group excursions to such culturally significant sites as the Temples of Karnak and Luxor; various monuments around Ancient Memphis, including the great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx; the Valley of the Kings; and the Temples of Horus, Hathor, and Hatshepsut.

Uniworld encourages travelers to book early for the greatest savings. For couples who pay-in-full at time of reservation before March 30, 2015, they can save $1,000 on Uniworld’s “Splendors of Egypt & the Nile” boutique river cruise and journey.

For more details, please visit the website.

About Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection—the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line™—features luxurious ships with an average capacity of 130 guests, exclusive excursions, gourmet cuisine, and the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the river cruise industry. Based in Los Angeles, California, Uniworld offers truly all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, India, and Egypt—a total of 22 rivers in 29 countries worldwide. Uniworld is a member of CLIA and is highly regarded by discerning travelers, media, and cruise industry experts:
Listed among the “World’s Best River Cruises” by Travel + Leisure, and recognized for “World’s Best Service” in the River Cruise category
Seven ships listed among Travel + Leisure’s “Top 20 River Ships,” with River Countess rated highest of all cruise ships (river & ocean)
Included on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List for seven years (2008 – 2014)
Top 3 ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top Ten Cruise Lines” (river & ocean)
Top 4 ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for ‘Top Cruise Lines” (2014)
Named “Best Luxury River Cruise Line” by Cruise International (2012 – 2014)
Name”Best Culinary Cruise Line” by readers of SAVEUR (2014)

About The TreadRight Foundation

At Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and parent company The Travel Corporation, we understand that travel matters; it allows us to explore the world and gain a deeper understanding of each destination, its history and culture, through enriching experiences. We also recognize that it is our responsibility to help protect the places we visit and take care of the world around us.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant and preserved for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has donated more than USD 2.5 million to sustainable tourism projects worldwide. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is proud to be active founder and supporter of TreadRight’s projects and work. Go to www.uniworld.com/giving-back to learn more.

TreadRight’s guiding principle is to encourage sustainable tourism development through conservation, leadership and support for communities. We encourage each of our partners to use this principle to guide all of their actions, whether at our regional offices or when taking guests around the world. By providing grants to organizations that encourage sustainability in different destinations, we hope to maintain the natural attractions across the world that defines each unique region. Foundation priorities are set by the Steering Committee, which includes sustainability leaders like Céline Cousteau and Costas Christ.

To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, please visit our website.

MSC Cruises Groups Promo Gets Even Better

MSC Divina


MSC CRUISES ANNOUNCES 18% COMMISSION ON GROUP BOOKINGS AS HOLIDAY THANK YOU TO TRAVEL AGENTS

All Group Blocks – staterooms of 8 or more – for 2015/2016 Caribbean sailings on MSC Divina booked by January 15 will receive the following:

· 18% flat commission for all – NEW addition to existing group promo

· Waiver of Good Faith Deposit until March 31, 2015

· Up to $100 Shipboard Credit per balcony stateroom

· Tour conductors on the basis of 1 free for 13 full fare guests

· 2 Amenity Points to use toward the amenity of the Travel Agents choice, including cocktail parties, bonus commissions, marketing funds, etc.

· Match of any competitor’s Best Group Offer (must be equal itinerary and nights as MSC Divina)

AND, as an additional Thank You for any groups already booked, MSC will automatically increase commission on these groups to 18 percent.

Additional Key Info:
Book By Date: January 15, 2015
Sail Dates: Between Nov. 11, 2015 – April 9, 2016 for MSC Divina Caribbean bookings

Quote from Ken Muskat, Executive Vice President of Sales, PR & Guest Services
“Travel agents are critical to our success at MSC Cruises. We greatly value our travel partners and work hard to make sure we’re making it as easy as possible for the trade community to work with us and get rewarded for their efforts. Increasing the commission paid on groups is one more way we are able to show our appreciation to the travel agents supporting us.”

Travel agents looking for more info should visit this website.

Book Star Clippers’ 2014 Holiday Sailings and Receive a $500 Onboard Credit

Star Clipper

Book Star Clippers’ 2014 Holiday Sailings and Receive a $500 Onboard Credit, No Single Supplement and Extra Perks

Travelers looking to get away from the hectic holiday season this year can take advantage of perks on Star Clippers‘ 2014 Christmas and New Year’s Caribbean cruises. In celebration of the season of giving, the tall ship cruise line is waiving single-supplement fees on select itineraries on Royal Clipper and Star Clipper.

In addition, two guests in the same cabin are eligible for complimentary champagne and sweet treats, as well as a $250 per person onboard credit or free massage, depending on the departure date.

“Star Clippers guests are like family, and there’s no better time to have a family celebration than at the holidays when it’s simply magical onboard,” said Mikael Krafft, owner and president of Star Clippers. “With these special offers, we’re making a holiday under sail a more accessible option for travelers this season.”

The single supplement waiver is available on three itineraries: Royal Clipper’s and Star Clipper’s Christmas sailings, both departing Dec. 20; and Royal Clipper’s New Year’s sailing departing Dec. 27.

Guests sailing in double occupancy cabins are treated to other benefits including complimentary champagne and sweets on all three sailings; a $250 per person onboard credit on Royal Clipper’s and Star Clipper’s Dec. 20 Christmas sailings only; and a complimentary one-hour massage in the ships’ Captain Nemo Lounge and Spa on Royal Clipper’s Dec. 27 New Year’s sailing only.

Royal Clipper sails a seven-night Windward Islands Christmas cruise roundtrip from Bridgetown, Barbados, with calls at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia; Cabrits and Roseau, Dominica; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; a Christmas Eve call at Basseterre, St. Kitts; Christmas day at Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes; and a call at Fort de France, Martinique.

To add to the festivities, renowned Austrian entertainer Peter Grimberg will be onboard Royal Clipper’s Christmas sailing, bringing his unique blend of pop music, jazz, rock and roll, and comedy. Grimberg, who will perform in English, tours his musical comedies throughout Germany and Austria.

Rates start at $1,932 per person, cruise-only for Royal Clipper’s Dec. 20 departure.

Star Clipper also sails a seven-night Leeward Islands roundtrip itinerary from St. Maarten departing Dec. 20. The ship calls at Charlestown, Nevis; Cabrits; Terre de Haut; Christmas eve at Deshaies, Guadeloupe; Christmas day at Falmouth Harbour; and Gustavia, St. Barts. Rates start at $1,872, per person, cruise-only.

Royal Clipper’s New Year’s itinerary explores the Grenadine Islands with a seven-night roundtrip sailing from Bridgetown, Barbados. Calls include St. George’s, Grenada; Tobago Cays, Grenadines; and New Year’s Eve at Bequia, St. Vincent. Guests can then start the New Year with a beach day at Fort de France, followed by a call at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Rates start at $1,932 per person, cruise-only for the Dec. 27 cruise.

These offers are available for residents of the US, Canada, and Latin America. Other restrictions apply.

To request a brochure, call toll-free 800-442-0556 or email brochures@starclippers.com. To make a reservation, contact a travel professional. For information, call Star Clippers at 800-442-0551 or visit the website to view a video about the line or take a virtual tour of Star Clippers’ tall ships.

Scenic Cruises Introduces new 12-day Bordeaux River Cruise in 2015

The Scenic Diamond


Scenic Cruises, which operates all-inclusive luxury river cruises throughout Europe, continues to expand its offerings in France by introducing a new 12-day Bordeaux River Cruise to its 2015 itineraries. With seven departures between August and October, pricing for this tour along the Gironde, Dordogne and Garonne rivers start at $5,580 per person, based on double occupancy. Early booking incentives result in free flights to Europe and substantial savings on balcony cabins.

The trip starts with arrival in Paris and an overnight stay in a luxury hotel; on the following day the ultra-fast Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) takes guests to Bordeaux, where they board the Scenic Diamond, their home for the next several days. At this point, guests unpack their bags just once … but they’ll visit countless fascinating and photogenic locations throughout their journey. Among the stops are Cadillac, originally established in the 13th century; Saint-Émilion, home to underground catacombs at its iconic Monolithic Church; Libourne, the wine-making capital of this part of France; Cognac, where guests have the opportunity to sample brandy at the famed Rémy Martin property; Médoc, where visitors traverse a scenic wine route; and Arcachon, known for its culinary delights.

This itinerary incorporates several special features that are unique to Scenic. In 2015 the company will introduce the concept of “Scenic Sundowners” to its cruises, in which guests toast the end of the day in a spectacular location. On the Bordeaux trip, guests will enjoy an afternoon cocktail in picturesque Saint-Émilion. The journey aboard the TGV – which moves at speeds up to 199 mph – is a new offering in 2015, as well, as Scenic begins its partnership with trains throughout Europe to deliver the ultimate land-to-water experiences on several of its itineraries. The Bordeaux trip also features a “Scenic Enrich” experience, a once-in-a-lifetime event unique to this cruise line. On this itinerary, guests will enjoy a private dinner and classical concert in the beautiful Château Giscours in the Médoc countryside.

The Scenic Diamond is one of Scenic Cruises’ fleet of “Space Ships,” which have won acclaim as the next generation of river cruising. These ships are five-star floating hotels, with spacious public areas as well as private suites that feature “Scenic slumber beds,” plus bathrobes and slippers, a flat-screen television and Mac mini infotainment system enhanced by the ship’s complimentary Wi-Fi. Scenic is the only brand afloat that offers a “Sun Lounge,” a system through which each suite’s private balcony can be quickly transformed into an indoor lounge, allowing guests to enjoy the passing views regardless of the weather.

The company’s signature all-inclusive luxury means that absolutely everything is included: unlimited beverages including premium wines and spirits; all meals (with six different dining experiences); personal butler service for all guests; all excursions, events and entertainment; the Scenic Riverview personal GPS commentary device, which acts like a personal tour guide for guests while on board the ship; electronically assisted bicycles; Wi-Fi; airport transfers; and all tips and gratuities. On-shore experiences are made exceptional by the included Scenic Tailormade handheld GPS guided tour system that’s provided to every guest in his or her suite. This GPS system works in conjunction with guides on tours and also acts as a navigation system that allows guests to explore destinations on their own without the worry of getting lost or missing important points of interest.

Additional information on these and other cruises, brochures, and reservations can be obtained via travel agents; the company’s visitor-friendly website, by phone at 844-788-7985; or by e-mailing usaoffice@scenictours.com.

Holland America’s new ms Koningsdam to Debut an Innovative Design Approach

Rendering of ms Koningsdam


First reveal of interior renderings available now on the Holland America Line website

When Holland America Line welcomes ms Koningsdam to the fleet in February 2016, the ship will debut a new era in design approach for the line. As the first ship in the Pinnacle class, the 2,650-guest ship will have an interior that blends a fresh, contemporary styling in perfect harmony with the line’s renowned classic elegance.

Future guests, travel agents and ship fans can now get the first look at select interior renderings on Holland America Line’s website. The story of the ship will unfold online over the coming months through vibrant renderings, engaging videos, ship facts and more details about the interiors created by Adam D. Tihany and Bjørn Storbraaten.

“When guests come aboard ms Koningsdam they’ll know they’re on a Holland America Line ship, but they’ll see we’re taking a forward-thinking approach to many of the design elements,” said Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group. “Revealing the first renderings and video of ms Koningsdam enables us to give future guests an advance look at the stunning interiors and over the coming months will reveal innovative new features along with our classics hallmarks that will create a cruise experience for the travelers of tomorrow.”

At the helm of the interior conceptualization is Tihany, regarded as one of the world’s pre-eminent hospitality designers. A leader in creating luxurious and creative interiors at some of the world’s most iconic properties, Tihany has approached ms Koningsdam with an eye toward creating public spaces that reflect the tradition and signature elegance for which Holland America Line is known, while elevating the design to strike a more modern balance of past, present and future.

Focusing on fluid curves and graceful lines, light-filled spaces and the natural flow of public areas, Tihany’s metaphorical approach to the interiors of ms Koningsdam was inspired by the “architecture of music.”

“The idea was to tell a story that guests can connect with throughout their voyage,” said Tihany. “I was inspired by the thought of what you might see from the inside of a musical instrument, what the architecture of the surfaces and the geometry look like.”

Key to his concept is utilizing visual interaction, where guests actively engage with the architecture rather than passively moving through it.

“The design isn’t a literal translation of music, but a conceptual approach where we seek to evoke the feeling and beauty of an instrument with graceful lines, dramatic textures, lighting effects and use of materials,” said Tihany. “My inspirations were not only instruments, but also majestic spaces and exaggerating the feeling of height, so guests feel the grandeur of every room.”

For example, at the heart of the ship Tihany is creating visual drama with the central atrium. Soaring three decks high, the space is graced by an airy stainless-steel sculpture that represents the synthesis of a string quartet. Like music, the experience changes as guests move around and through it, so no two perspectives are the same. The atrium is capped by a ceiling “skylight” that serves as a backdrop for subtly changing high-definition projections. Guests will look up by day and see wispy cirrus clouds floating in an azure sky or perhaps soothing images of light in water. By evening, the atrium takes on dramatic lighting hues or reflects the starlit constellations of the night sky.

Hallmark Venues Reimagined with A Fresh Approach

The main Dining Room aboard ms Koningsdam will span two floors and be framed by views of the sea. A bright interior will be inspired by a modern, global design and sets the stage for the exceptional culinary experience to come. Strong, curved architectural pillars will accentuate the soaring ceiling. Chic, custom furnishings and modern glass lighting are being fabricated especially for the ship. The centerpiece is a curved copper sheath surrounding a two-story wine tower showcasing an impressive selection.

The iconic Queen’s Lounge has been completely reimagined as an elegant theater and entertainment venue that spans two floors. Tihany once again drew inspiration for the space from music, nodding to the sensual curves of a violin and featuring extensive use of wood, fluid waveforms and light. With state-of-the-art technology, the Queen’s Lounge will showcase world-class musicians and the largest dance floor on the ship.

Architect and Designer Bjørn Storbraaten Joins Tihany in Blending Contemporary Styling with Brand Hallmarks
Architect and designer Bjørn Storbraaten joins Tihany in bringing the ship to life in a familiar yet innovative style. With his previous work on ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Storbraaten adds continuity of the brand to ms Koningsdam, while taking elegance to the next level.

“It’s been fascinating to work on ms Koningsdam where we are introducing design elements never before seen on Holland America Line,” said Storbraaten. “We were tasked with evolving the look and feel of the ship while keeping it true to the brand, making this an exciting and rewarding project.”

Storbraaten’s hand is clearly present in the design of the central pool area. The Magrodome, which typically is a single level on Holland America Line ships, has been expanded to two levels to create a vast glass-enclosed space. The lower level will have more traditional poolside elements, while the mezzanine level will be a new concept for the brand. In addition to other areas, Storbraaten is designing the exotic look of Tamarind, the line’s Pan-Asian restaurant that emphasizes nature’s basic elements: water, wood, fire and earth.

Across the ship, Tihany and Storbraaten are working together to make ms Koningsdam an evolution of the Holland America Line brand.

Over the coming months, even more innovative features and detailed renderings of ms Koningsdam will be released on the company’s website. Early season premier itineraries will be revealed in the coming weeks, in advance of these first ms Koningsdam sailings opening for booking on Dec. 1.

For more information about ms Koningsdam and Holland America Line, consult a professional travel agent, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit the website.

CroisiEurope Introducomg MissoniHome Fabrics on Barges and New Ships

MS Loire Princesse cabin rendering



CroisiEurope
has announced that its three newest ships, set to launch in 2015, will be decorated with MissoniHome’s textiles and furnishings. Europe’s longest running river cruise line has teamed up with MissoniHome to outfit the interior of the three ships: the MS Camargue, the MS Gil Eanes and the MS Loire Princesse, which will be the first overnight cruise ship to sail along the challenging Loire River in France.

CroisiEurope’s three new ships launching in 2015 with MissoniHome fabrics include:

MS Camargue: This newly rebuilt ship will sail along the beautiful Rhone and Saone Rivers through France;

MS Gil Eanes: Sailing along the Douro, this 132 passenger ship will explore beautiful sites in Portugal and Spain;

MS Loire Princesse: The first ship with cabins to sail along the Loire due to the paddle wheel design, this 96 passenger ship will travel to some of France’s most coveted UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Three of CroisiEurope’s barge ships, which launched earlier this year, also feature the design house’s bold fabrics and contemporary furnishings, giving the interiors a fresh, modern ambiance. While three barge ships in the fleet currently feature MissoniHome accents in the common areas, the MS Madeleine barge is already completely outfitted in MissoniHome fabrics and furniture. The barge, which sails along the Marne-Rhine canal, is decorated with MissoniHome furniture, pillows and curtains in the common areas and MissoniHome curtains and pillows inside the staterooms.

For more information on CroisiEurope, please visit the website.

Costa Cruises and Central Holidays Partner to Create Costa Cruise Tours

Costa Diadema


Costa Cruises and Central Holidays have announced a new partnership to develop a new vacation packages brand: Costa Cruise Tours.

The new alliance features Central Holidays as the operator of Costa Cruise Tours packages that include air, land and Costa Cruises’ cruise arrangements to destinations throughout Europe departing from the following ports of call: Civitavecchia (Rome) and Savona, Italy; Marseille, France; and Barcelona, Spain.

“With more than four decades of expertise in travel throughout Europe and the Mediterranean and success as a leading provider of packaged travel across the globe, it is with great enthusiasm that we announce a new partnership with Costa Cruises in the development of Costa Cruise Tours,” said Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays. “Our shared goal in Costa Cruise Tours is to create the go-to option for European cruise and land packages that inspires prospective cruisers to make the most of their vacations by combining a Costa Cruises sailing with air and pre-cruise land arrangements — including accommodations, sightseeing tours, special experiential activities, and other unique offerings for the ultimate in packaged travel by land and sea. We are thrilled to be partnering with such a professional team at Costa Cruises and we look forward to a long, successful alliance.”

“Costa Cruises guests are sophisticated and discerning travelers, and we knew we needed to find a partner that could provide a superior landside experience to match our shipboard product,” said Scott Knutson, vice president sales and marketing for Costa Cruises North America. “In Central Holidays we found a tour operator whose quality offerings and approach to customer service is a perfect match to Costa’s.”

Costa Cruise Tours can be booked now for the 2015 travel season via Central Holidays by calling 800-720-3009. The new brand will be launching a website in December that will feature its full range of vacation packages for booking online.

Carnival Cruise Lines Gift Cards Now Available In More Than 9,000 Retail Locations

Carnival Cruise Lines Gift Cards Now Available In More Than 9,000 Retail Locations Throughout the U.S.
Blackhawk Network and Carnival Partner to Expand Gift Cards Into New Locations

Carnival Cruise Lines’ popular gift card program – a prepaid card that can be used as payment toward a “Fun Ship” vacation or a variety of shipboard purchases – is now available in more than 9,000 retail outlets throughout the U.S. This marks the first time that a cruise line-specific gift card has been made available at retail establishments ashore.

Partnering with Blackhawk Network, a leading prepaid and payments network, Carnival will offer its gift cards at such locations as Giant Eagle, Kroger and Safeway beginning later this month.

“We’re excited to partner with Blackhawk Network, as their distribution expertise allows us to expand our popular gift card program to a wide range of retail outlets ashore,” said Gus Antorcha, senior vice president of guest commerce for Carnival Cruise Lines. “Based on feedback from consumers and our travel agent partners, we’re very pleased to enhance the availability of our gift card program and provide consumers with even greater convenience and flexibility.”

Also available online at www.carnivalgiftcards.com or sold on board Carnival’s ships, the gift cards are ideal for any occasion – from weddings and graduations to birthdays and anniversaries – and offer consumers flexibility and convenience in their vacation purchases. The cards can be pre-loaded with funds ranging from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $1,000.

The Carnival Gift Card is simple to use – it may be applied online via the dedicated web site using the 16-digit card number, redeemed by calling 1-800-CARNIVAL or used like cash on board as payment toward guests’ “Sail & Sign” shipboard account.
For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit the website.

Emerald Waterways’ “tulip cruise” showcases the Netherlands and Belgium in bloom


Book by December 31 to Save $1,170 Per Couple

Travelers interested in experiencing the beauty of the Netherlands and Belgium ablaze with millions of vibrant tulips will love Emerald Waterways’ brand new Highlights of the Netherlands & the Beauty of Belgium cruise.

Running round-trip from Amsterdam through northern Belgium, this picturesque eight-day voyage is ideal for gardeners, flower lovers and photographers alike, as well as anyone interested in taking in the splendor of field after field abloom with tulips, daffodils and hyacinth as they float down the Rhine River and along the scenic canals of Holland and Belgium. Guests with some flexibility in their schedules can take advantage of the excellent pricing on this voyage, which departs from Amsterdam on April 6, 2015, the shoulder of the river cruising peak season. Booking by December 31 saves $1,170 per couple; discounted prices range from $1,995 to $4,290 per person, double.

The voyage includes seven nights aboard one of Emerald’s “Star-Ships” and departs from charming Amsterdam, where guests will enjoy a canal cruise and walking tour along the city’s historic, cobbled streets. An excursion to Keukenhof Gardens, regarded as the most beautiful spring garden in the world and Europe’s largest, introduces fans to an incredible displays of flowers and plants, including more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths filling close to 80 acres with color and fragrance. In Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city and home to baroque artist Pieter Paul Rubens (as well as the famed diamond district), a walking tour reveals a modern and organized city that retains an intriguing medieval heart. Bruges, once home to the world’s first stock exchange in the 13th century, looks like something out of a fairy-tale, with dreamy canals, historic churches and whitewashed almshouses…not to mention the delicious chocolate for which the region is famous.

The sights in Arnhem, Holland include beautiful Dutch waterways and iconic windmills as well as historic sites dedicated to the World War II Battle of Anhem. A walking tour of Edam, a town known all over the world for its cheese, allows guests to browse the city’s many cheese shops, authentic 17th-century architecture, monuments and quiet canals, and discover the Great Church, one of the largest churches in the Netherlands. A highlight of the guided tour of the fishing village of Volendam is the old center, where some residents still wear traditional Dutch costume.

Emerald Waterway’s inclusive pricing plan means guests don’t have to worry about daily budget or mounting costs. The Highlights of the Netherlands & the Beauty of Belgium sailing includes seven shore excursions either by foot or first-class coach, including visits to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites; two EmeraldPLUS experiences, including a visit to Keukenhof Gardens; 20 meals, including seven breakfasts, six lunches, four dinners and three highlight dinners; wine and beer with lunch and dinner; complimentary tea and coffee available onboard at all times; complimentary bottled water in suites and staterooms, restocked daily; a variety of onboard evening entertainment; first-class service from an English-speaking crew and knowledgeable local guides; complimentary WiFi onboard; all port charges and airport transfers within Europe; and Emerald takes care of all tips, saving guests up to $350 per couple for an eight-day sailing.

Emerald Waterway’s ships – Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 72 suites and 20 staterooms, including two built for solo occupancy. Unique items include an onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, which transforms into a movie theater in the evening; two restaurants – Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for breakfast and lunch; and a new type of cabin design that replaces the run-of-the-mill French balcony, common to most ships, with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system. The system allows guests to push a button and the upper half of the floor-to-ceiling panoramic window drops down to allow an open-air opportunity; top suites separate the balcony from the cabin with sliding doors. Ships also feature an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area.

As part of the Scenic Tours Group, Emerald Waterways is backed by the award-winning expertise of the world’s leading luxury river cruise operator. Additional information can be found by contacting your local travel agent; on Emerald Waterways’ website or by calling the US consumer/travel agent reservations line (855-222-3214). Brochure orders may be placed on the website, or a digital downloadable version is available.