by Steve Hartridge
Scenic's new European excursions
Scenic's 2022 European river cruising programme features a host of new immersive excursions that are included in the cost of the river cruise.
Among the experiences on offer are learning the art of centuries-old silk production in France and kayaking on the Danube in Serbia.
Clients sailing the Saône and Rhône Rivers on Scenic’s 11-day South of France itinerary will learn all about the region's heritage of silk production that dates back almost five centuries. Lyon is home to established silk artisans and craftsmen and Scenic guests will have the opportunity to to explore the artistry up-close by visiting a workshop.
Prices start from £3,295pp, departing April 11 2022.
A lesser-seen side of Belgrade is on offer with a kayaking tour gliding along the Danube River.
The excursion is available on Scenic's 16-day Danube Delta Discovery cruise, which starts from £4,645pp, departing March 19 2022.
Scenic is currently offering savings of up to £1,500 per couple and complimentary chauffeur-driven transfers on 2022 Europe river cruises booked before July 15 2021.
Those opting to pay for their cruise in full 12 months prior to departure will save an additional 10% when booking a balcony suite or above.
MSC shifts U.S. restart to August 2
MSC Cruises has announced plans to restart cruising from U.S. ports beginning this August.
MSC Meraviglia will begin three- and four-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas on August 2, with seven-night cruises beginning on September 18.
MSC Divina will start begin three-, four and seven-night cruises from Port Canaveral to The Bahamas and Caribbeanon September 16.
Both itineraries will include a stop atMSC Cruises’ exclusive new private island destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
Bookings for the U.S. bookings open June 16 and MSC says it will release additional itinerary details for cruises on board both ships in the coming week, as well as health and safety measures and guidelines for guests.
It previously announced that the cruises will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. Those who are not vaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be subject to requirements such as additional testing, as well as restrictions, which will be announced at a later date.
MSC Cruises has also confirmed the cancellation of existing U.S.-based sailings, which affects the schedules of three ships based in Florida: MSC Divina (scheduled to sail from Port Canaveral), and MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia (scheduled to sail from PortMiami), as follows: Cruises onboard MSC Divina from July 1, 2021 through to and including September 15, 2021; cruises onboard MSC Meraviglia from July 1, 2021 through to and including September 17, 2021; cruises onboard MSC Armonia from July 1, 2021 through to and including October 24, 2021.
MSC says it has won approval from thr CDC to conduct a simulation cruise on MSC Meraviglia from PortMiami on July 17, 2021
Norwegian outlines plans for U.S. restart
Norwegian Cruise Line has added more sailings from several U.S. ports as it ramps up preparations for its return to the seas.
Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Port Canaveral all feature in the cruise line's itineraries.
Norwegian's return will see Norwegian Gem cruise seven-day Caribbean itineraries ourt of Miaimi from August 15 and four-day voyages to the Bahamas in November.
Other itineraries on sale include Bermuda departures from New York, beginning September 26 on Norwegian Breakaway; the Mexican Riviera on October 24 from Los Angeles on Norwegian Bliss; and the Caribbean on November 13 from Port Canaveral on Norwegian Escape.
The cruise line's newest ship, Norwegian Encore, will replace Norwegian Bliss this summer on the popular Alaska cruises. Based in Seattle, Norwegian Encore will call into Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point.
All voyages are contingent on the company obtaining a conditional sailing certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and all will operate with crew and passengers fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The Cruise Line’s Peace of Mind cancellation policy remains in effect for guests sailing on cruises with embarkation dates through October 31, 2021.
Swan Hellenic's offer to celebrate return
Swan Hellenic has a 'celebration spring sale' to coincide with its return to cruising and to mark the forthcoming arrival of three new five-star ships.
Running until July 31 2021, the incentive gives 20% off the brochure value of all its cultural expedition cruise itineraries across the globe and a $300 on-board spending credit for every guest. Single supplements have also been waived.
Updated booking terms and conditions mean guests pay a 15% deposit when booking to reserve a suite or stateroom, with the balance due 60 days before departure.
An extended 'no-quibble' cancellation policy means that cancellations due to Covid are allowed up to 30 days before departure. Swan Hellenic will offer a future cruise voucher valid for two years.
If the cruise line can’t fulfil any cruise, its clients will be entitled to a full refund or a future cruise voucher to the value of 110% of the cruise fare they paid, valid for two years.
Agents qualify for a £50 Amazon Voucher for every booking they make.
Swan Hellenic's two new five-star polar PC 5 ice-class expedition cruise ships arrive in November 2021 and April 2022, each accommodating 152 guests in 76 staterooms and suites.
A larger PC 6 ice-class vessel for 192 guests in 96 staterooms and suites is expected by the end of 2022.
UK cruisers seek more time at sea
Bookings for longer cruises, of at least 21 nights at sea, are outstripping pre-pandemic levels for UK guests, says cruise specialist cruise.co.uk.
Demand for extended sailings have increased by 10% this year compared to 2019, with voyages of three weeks and over to destinations across the world - often includinghotel stays and tours either side of sailing - proving increasingly popular.
Sailings from Sydney to the Pacific Islands such as Bora Bora, Tahiti and Hawaii, have seen the biggest percentage spike in popularity, says cruise.co.uk.
Other, more extensive, itineraries proving popular with UK guests include a 30-night tour of the Far East including Singapore and Tokyo; 27 nights in Australia and New Zealand; and a 37-night ‘Pacific Paradise’ sailing to Fiji, Vanuatu and Hong Kong.
All are for sailings in late 2022 and 2023.
Longer cruises can include a greater variety of port calls as there’s more time to reach different destinations, plus larger ships with a greater range of facilities.
Cruise lines will often offer additional incentives to long-term cruisers such as free drinks, complimentary Wi-Fi, a door-to-door luggage service, valet laundry and inclusive tips.
Tony Andrews, Deputy Managing Director of cruise.co.uk, said: “Guests are increasingly booking for longer periods of time away to really make the most of their holiday after so much time indoors. It’s clear there is a real appetite for extended cruises, in part because our opportunities to travel have been so limited for nearly 18 months now.
“Extended cruises are a fantastic holiday option; not only will you enjoy a wonderful time on-board and at the various stops your ship calls at, but there’s also the opportunity to explore your destination on land both before and after sailing.”
Celebrity Cruises has a 24-night Pacific Islands cruise aboard Celebrity Eclipse, leaving Sydney on April 16, 2023. Price start from £3,899pp, including flights and transfers and a two-night stay at a central Sydney hotel.
Calls include Tahiti, Bora Bora, Bay of Islands and Auckland and guests disembark in Hawaii.