by Steve Hartridge
Cunard plans winter royal return
Cunard will return to international waters this winter with over 40 new voyages across its fleet in 2021 and 2022.
The ‘Overseas Escapes’ will range from two- to 40-night sailings, visiting more than 49 destinations on board Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
Queen Mary 2 will resume her iconic transatlantic crossings in November 2021 before sailing new short breaks in Western Europe followed by three winter sailings to the Caribbean.
Guests will be able to enjoy the flexibility of embarking the Caribbean voyages from Southampton, New York, Fort Lauderdale or Hamburg with overnight calls in Bridgetown and Barbados as well as visiting St. Maarten and Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Kitts.
Queen Victoria will mark her return to sailing in April, 2022 with three new round-trip itineraries from Southampton, visiting 11 countries, including time ashore in destinations such as Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallinn and Gdynia, together with overnight calls in Amsterdam, Lisbon and St Petersburg.
Following her summer exploring Britain’s coastline, Queen Elizabeth will depart on a series of new sailings from Southampton to Western Europe followed by the Iberian Coast and the Atlantic Islands. Overnight port stays will include Lisbon and Fontal as well as late departures from Malaga, offering time to experience these destinations after dark.
In late February, Queen Elizabeth will depart for Asia, sailing through the Suez Canal to Dubai, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, where she will resume her scheduled programme in April.
The ‘Overseas Escapes’ new itineraries go on sale July 21, at 14.00.
A seven-night cruise on Queen Mary 2, sailing from Southampton to New York on February 15 2022, starts at £1,299pp (based on two sharing) for a balcony room.
A 16-night St Petersburg and Baltic Explorer cruise on Queen Victoria, departing April 27 2022, costs from £2,999pp, for a balcony room. Stops include Tallinn, Copenhagen and the Lithuanian town of Klaipeda.
AmaWaterways joins forces with Metropolitan in Colombia
AmaWaterways has teamed up with Metropolitan Touring, a leading South American tour operator, to introduce a new river cruise experience in Colombia.
The partnership will see the company offering the first luxury river cruise on the Magdalena River, starting in December 2023.
Guests, who will travel on a new custom-built, all-suite, eco-friendly river cruiser, will be offered two seven-night itineraries with pre- and post-cruise land programmes featuring local nature, wildlife, culture, flavours and people, as well as activities such as kayaking, hiking and birdwatching.
"It is incredibly exciting to be able to launch a new river cruise destination like Colombia, with such a colourful history and artistic background,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways.
Added Paulina Burbano de Lara, Chief Executive Officer of Metropolitan Touring: “Colombia has always been a country close to my heart and every trip I’ve made to the Magdalena over many years has been full of amazing, life-affirming experiences that touched my soul. Finding the right partner to develop the first-ever eco-friendly river cruise experience for Colombia was therefore of utmost importance to me and our company.”
Specific itineraries are currently being developed with more details anticipated in the coming weeks.
Swan Hellenic's new inaugural cruises
Swan Hellenic has unveiled 10 new itineraries for its 2022 inaugural season, which it says is in response to Australia and New Zealand’s extension of government restrictions to contain the pandemic.
Ranging from Patagonia and the Antarctic to Mexico, Alaska and the Russian Far East, each will be abord the company's new purpose-designed five-star expedition cruise ship SH Minerva, which was recently floated out of her dry dock in Helsinki Shipyard.
The cultural expedition cruises, encompassing the whole American continent west coast connecting the extreme polar regions, will depart Ushuaia, Valparaiso, Lima, Panama, Puerto Quetzal, Mazatlán, San Diego, Vancouver and Seward on 10-14-day itineraries between February and May next year.
The cruises will introduce guests to wildlife, archaeological and cultural attractions, ranging range from encounters with penguins, seals and whales to Chilean fjords, glaciers and native settlements, (desert towns), volcanoes, Nazca lines, Moche and Zapotec remote archaeological sites, desert islands with rich marine ecosystems and the wilderness areas and glaciers of the North.
The expeditions by zodiac will offer varied activities, including snorkelling, kayaking and trekking, as well as guided wildlife watching and site visits, all supported by onboard expert lecturers .
"Although disappointed we can't explore Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) in the first half of 2022 – and of course we are planning to be there in late 2022 and again in 2023 – we’re very excited to offer these wonderful new cruises to the curious-minded and adventurous voyagers for whom a Swan Hellenic cultural expedition cruise is the natural choice,” said Andrea Zito, Swan Hellenic's CEO.
Swan Hellenic has two new five-star polar PC 5 ice-class expedition cruise ships arriving in November 2021 and April 2022, with a larger PC 6 ice-class vessel due to be delivered by year-end 2022.
Fred Olsen plans Antarctica Grand Voyage
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will introduce a new South American and Antarctica Grand Voyage in 2023.
Balmoral’s 78-night South American exploration will sail the Chilean fjords and the Antarctic Peninsula’s icy coastline, on a handcrafted adventure that will depart from Southampton on January 5 2023, the first-ever Antarctic itinerary for the company.
Shore excursions for each port of call will include the chance to learn to dance the tango in Buenos Aires and time with a Gaucho cowboy on ranches in Argentina and Uruguay.
There will also be opportunities to delve into the history of the Incas at Machu Picchu and experience the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands in extended overland tours from Peru and Ecuador respectively.
Prices start at £8,999pp for a trip that will take in places that include Ponta Delgada, Azores; Hamilton, Bermuda; Havana, Cuba; Colon, Panama; Panama Canal; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Valparaiso, Chile; Cruising Chilean Fjords; Ushuaia, Argentina; Cruising Drake Passage; Cruising Antarctica Peninsula; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Recife, Brazil; Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde; and Santa Cruz, Tenerife.
Martin Lister, Head of Destination Experience and Itinerary Planning at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “Balmoral’s smaller size also allows us to call into some fantastic ports, from Havana in Cuba and Hamilton in Bermuda, meaning explorations can start right at the end of the gangway.”
Riviera brings back Canada Maritimes tour
Riviera Travel has confirmed its ‘Maritime Canada’ tour will resume in 2022.
The 11-day trip takes in the landmark Atlantic coastline provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Six tours are available, from May to September, accommodating up to 49 guests per tour, who will stay for at least two days in each province.
The itinerary includes a journey along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s most scenic drives; a visit to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is host to a wealth of local wildlife including moose, black bears, beavers, red foxes and raccoons; excursions to Halifax, the home to many of the region's major cultural attractions including the Citadel National Historic Site; Fundy National Park, which experiences the world’s highest tides; outings to both the Anne of Green Gables and Alexander Graham Bell museums; and a trip to the much-photographed Peggy’s Point Lighthouse.
Prices start from £2,399pp, including direct return flights from Heathrow, an accompanying tour manager, hotel transfers and accommodation.
Katja Hildebrandt from Riviera Travel said: “We’re pleased to confirm our Maritime Canada tour is available again, meaning guests have the opportunity to explore these three picture-postcard provinces, with their own distinctive character and attractions.
"From the beautiful scenery, to the coastal cliffs, lush highlands and forested valleys, to quaint fishing towns and the world’s highest tides, this will be an unforgettable journey to one of the most memorable parts of the world.”
The tour was originally introduced in 2020 but had to be postponed as a result of travel restrictions.
CLIA's ‘Selling Cruise Day’ returns to Ireland
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK & Ireland's ‘Selling Cruise Day’ will return to Dublin on November 11, 2021.
The event wills marks the first in-person conference CLIA will have held in Ireland since 2019.
Free for the trade, it will take place at Clontarf Castle and be hosted by Andy Harmer, CLIA managing director UK & Ireland.
The day will bring together agents, CLIA cruise lines, associated company partners and industry speakers for a full programme of business sessions, panel discussions, interviews and trade networking.
Harmer said: “We’re thrilled to be returning to Dublin and are looking forward to a productive and engaging day for the trade.
"As cruise continues to open up, now is the perfect time to register for our free event and take advantage of the insight and expert opinion that will help support sales in 2022.”
CLIA had previously announced that a Selling Cruise Day event would take place for the UK trade in Southampton on November 4.
Scenic tests the waters in Saudi Arabia
The Scenic Group will bring Scenic Eclipse to the Red Sea for the first time in 2021.
The ultra-luxury Scenic Eclipse, the company's Scenic Group’s first purpose-built ocean cruise ship and the World’s First Discovery Yacht, will sail Saudi Arabian waters from July 17 to December 9 2021.
Selected sailings from October to December will be open to international guests to experience Saudi's heritage, historic cities to ancient monuments, with helicopter flightseeing and submarine opportunities also offered.
Scenic Eclipse will homeport in Jeddah Port on the Red Sea coast. It will offer tailor-made itineraries, as well as pre-planned itineraries. Destinations on offer include Yanbu, the diving capital of Saudi Arabia and a beach destination that offers opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and water sports in the Saudi Red Sea, as well as cultural experiences. Yanbu also features the Iona wreck, a well-preserved British merchant steamer sunk in 1915, which can be explored by diving, snorkelling or submarine.
Scenic Eclipse will also have the possibility of visiting Aqaba in Jordan and Port Ghalib Marina, just a short distance from Luxor in Egypt.
The ship is equipped with an on-board submarine, two helicopters, a fleet of Zodiacs and a Specialist Discovery Team. It also has 10 dining options and entertainment and wellness areas.
Glen Moroney, Founder and Chairman of Scenic Group commented: “Saudi Arabia will be one of the hottest tourist destinations in coming years and we’re very glad our guests will get to experience it in six-star comfort on board Scenic Eclipse."
Cruise lines in the dock as Venice bans ships
The Italian Government has confirmed that large cruise ships will be permanently banned from Venice from next month.
Ships weighing more than 25,000 tonnes will be barred from entering the city’s Guidance Canal, the gateway to some of the city’s most popular landmarks such as Piazza San Marco, from August 1.
The move comes after Unesco threatened to blacklist Italy for failing to ban cruise liners from what is a World Heritage Site, say reports.
Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini took to social media to say he was "proud" the Italian government had made the move to protect Venice's heritage.
In June, MSC Cruises’ MSC Orchestra sailed through the city en route to Croatia and Greece, sparking the latest round of protests in the city over the damaging effects of the cruise sector.
Cruise lines will be hoping that plans to build a new passenger terminal at the nearby industrial port of Marghera, can be expedited. The development is expected to be open by the end of the year.