Posts Tagged ‘cruising Europe’

Azamara Club Cruises’ Introduces New Insider Access, Nights and Cool Places Programs, Adding to Immersive Experiences

February 14, 2014
Azamara Journey 2

Azamara Journey 2

In much the same way as it transformed cruising by offering up-market guests longer stays and more overnights on nearly all of its voyages, Azamara Club Cruises is once again evolving its Land Discoveries shore excursion program with two new offerings aimed at culture-seekers. Beginning with the 2014 Europe season, guests searching out a more in depth, personalized destination experience can choose from two exclusive programs that will immerse them in a destination through its people.

The first program, Insider Access, features exclusive invitation into the ancestral home, workshop or place of business of a local insider. It allows guests to actively engage with knowledgeable individuals who will share colorful stories and historic tales of their home destination on a personal level.

The second, Nights and Cool Places, makes the most of Azamara’s longer stays in port and overnights with an intimate night touring program. These custom after dinner experiences give guests exclusive opportunities to visit world-famous museums after hours, such as Malaga’s Picasso Museum; sip cocktails at a local hot spot, such as Rio de Janeiro’s Scenarium; or take a stroll on an intimate guided architectural walk – all with a local guide.

“Azamara Club Cruises offers our guests access to the nightlife of captivating places worldwide by creating voyages with the unique ability to stay at port well after other ships have departed, and often overnight,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.  “This access allows travelers to engage, explore and discover a culture when it is at its most vibrant. The demand for immersive experience is such that we developed two new, intimate shore excursion programs to provide our guests with an insider’s perspective that, not only connects them to local environments, but that will stimulate their mind and senses.”

Azamara and its two intimate boutique ships are known for their hand-crafted voyages which discover the world through lesser-known and less traveled ports of call.  Guests of the up-market cruise line are often port collectors looking for their next adventure to add to the collection.

Through these new Land Discoveries programs, Azamara is curating these sought-after collectible moments for its guests. For example, as part of the new Insider Access program, guests calling at Haifa, Israel, can step into the home of a Druze family for a hands-on cooking workshop. While the meal is being prepared guests will get insight to the secret religion, tradition and culture of the Druze people who have inhabited the holy for hundreds of years.

Both of these new programs continue to build on Azamara’s promise of destination immersion to its guests.  The Insider Access program creates an intimate group of eight to 12 curious and adventurous guests and provides them with access to the people of a destination, while the Nights and Cool Places program will offer 15-20 guests exclusive access to some of the world’s best known sights.

For example guests sailing an Asia itinerary can sign up for a night tour to view Hong Kong’s famous Symphony of Lights from the Sky Terrace at the Peak following a tram ride offering incredible panoramic views.
The Insider Access and Nights and Cool Places programs will be available for booking beginning late March. For a full list of Land Discoveries shore excursions visit http://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/landdiscoveries.

Intimate Ships

Azamara Club Cruises offers distinct destination-immersive experiences for up-market travelers. The cruise line features voyages with longer stays and more overnights at ports to provide guests the opportunity to experience night touring at some of the most compelling destinations of Europe, Asia, South America, West Indies, as well as Central and North America.

On board the intimate Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, guests receive exceptional and personal service and the cruise line’s authentic, exclusive and bespoke AzAmazing Evenings events that showcase the unexpected colors and flavors of a destination.   Guests also enjoy fine cuisine and boutique wines from around the world, as well as more inclusive amenities, such as included gratuities; complimentary bottled water, sodas, specialty coffee, and teas, as well as complimentary boutique wines, international beers and select standard spirits in the ships’ bars, lounges and restaurants when open; complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available.          

For more information, call your travel professional, dial 1-877-999-9553, or visit http://www.AzamaraClubCruises.com. Connect with Azamara Club Cruises on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AzamaraClubCruises, on Twitter @AzamaraVoyages or follow President and CEO @LarryPimentel.

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France Cruises Offers Free Land Tour with Purchase off Cruise and Hotel

November 23, 2013
A guided walking tour of Dijon brings me up to the tower atop the magnificent  Palais de Ducs for the fabulous view of the historic city © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A guided walking tour of Dijon brings me up to the tower atop the magnificent Palais de Ducs for the fabulous view of the historic city © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

For a limited time, France Cruises is offering guests a free land tour with purchase of a cruise and hotel. The free full-day land tour is available in Paris, Carcassonne, Dijon, Avignon, Tours, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Nice.

A France Cruises booking agent will assist either you or your travel agent in arranging all of the trip’s details. Once you have chosen your cruise and land tour, France Cruises will also help recommend and book a hotel for your pre or post cruise excursion.

For more information, call 877-579-7447 or visit http://www.FranceCruises.com.

See our series, Barging through Burgundy on France Cruises:

Barging through Burgundy: A visit to Chagny Market and slideshow

Barging through Burgundy, Day 2: Chateau de Rully and slideshow

Barging through Burgundy, Day 3: Hotel-Dieu, Beaune and slideshow

Barging Through Burgundy, Day 4: Clos de Vougeot, ‘mother church’ of wine and slideshow

Barging through Burgundy, Day 5-6: Walking Tour of Dijon’s Old City and slideshow

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Cunard Offers Free Balcony Upgrades for Booking Select European Voyages by July 17

July 13, 2013
Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2

European cruises are now available in Cunard Line’s Big Balcony Event. Passengers who book select Cunard Line European voyages between July10-17 will receive free Balcony upgrades.  The promotion is available on select European voyages sailing from Southampton, Venice, Athens and Rome on board Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.

In addition, special Single Occupancy fares from $1,349 are available on 12-day Mediterranean cruises aboard Queen Elizabeth.

Sample Itineraries for the Big Balcony Event European voyages include:

  • Greek Isles & Ancient Wonders, 12 days, 4 October 2013:
    This Mediterranean exploration aboard Queen Elizabeth sails from Athens and includes nine ports of call on an expansive itinerary throughout Italy, Turkey and Greece, including Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu and Naples.  Balcony fares start from $1,499.
  • Mediterranean Adventures, 12 days, 24 October 2013:
    This Queen Victoria voyage, roundtrip from Southampton, circles Spain and Portugal, arriving at such historic ports of call as Lisbon, Cartagena, Barcelona and Gibraltar, before returning to the U.K.  Balcony fares start from $1,899.
  • Mediterranean Odyssey, 12 days, 21 November 2013:
    Roundtrip from Rome, Queen Elizabeth travels an international itinerary, visiting five Greek ports of call, including Athens and Mykonos, plus Messina, Sicily and Naples, before returning to Rome.  Balcony fares start from $1,499.
  • Mediterranean Gems, 10 days, 3 December 2013:
    Passengers aboard Queen Elizabeth will sail from Rome to Southampton, visiting such heralded ports of call as Livorno (for Florence/Pisa), Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Gibraltar and Lisbon.  Balcony fares start from $999.

    All voyage fares are per person, based on double occupancy, and exclude government fees and taxes.  Fares for other dates will vary.  Reference promo code R7F.

For more information about Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth or to book a voyage, contact your Travel Agent, or call Cunard toll-free 1-800-728-6273 or visit www.cunard.com.

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Sail Europe in a Balcony Stateroom at Interior Rate on Select MSC Cruises Booked by Aug 31

July 20, 2012

The MSC Poesia, docked in New York City. MSC has been hailed as offering the Best Onboard International Experience.© 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With youngsters back in school and temperatures ideal for exploring the history, culture and nature of Europe, travellers can take advantage of special fall rates on balcony staterooms that begin at $669 on select MSC Cruises’ sailings that reflect the region and the line’s Mediterranean heritage.

Available only for bookings made by Aug. 31, 2012 on select sailings, guests can book a balcony stateroom at the early booking rate for an interior stateroom; rates begin at $669 (per person, double occupancy; government fees and taxes are additional) for select itineraries on MSC Cruises’ elegant fleet of ships – including the new MSC Divina.

While visiting some of Europe’s most beautiful and historic destinations in the Mediterranean, guests will also enjoy MSC Cruises’ rich Mediterranean heritage and international experience with world-class entertainment, the exotic MSC Aurea Spa and Mediterranean cuisine on the line’s elegant ships, including MSC Divina, which entered the fleet in May.

Like sister ships MSC FantasiaandMSC Splendida, MSC Divina features the exclusive MSC Yacht Club, 69 suites (71 on the sister ships) in a “ship-within-a-ship” oasis of tranquility where guests indulge in comfort and convenience, complete with 24/7 Butler and concierge services; complimentary wines and spirits; private restaurant, lounge, pool and relaxation area; private access to MSC Aurea Spa and more.

Among the roundtrip itineraries available this fall at limited-time-only rates are:

  • MSC Divina’s 7-night “Divine Mediterranean” itineraries, sailing from Bari and calling at Venice, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Rates for balcony staterooms begin at $919.
  • MSC Splendida’s 7-night “Splendid Mediterranean” cruises, sailing from Barcelona or Rome and calling at La Goulette, Valletta and Messina. Rates for balcony staterooms begin at $669.
  • MSC Magnifica’s 7-night “Autumn Iberian Discovery,” sailing from Barcelona and calling at Genoa, Malaga, Lisbon and Casablanca. Rates for balcony staterooms begin at $819.
  • MSC Musica’s 7-night “Greek Islands in the Sun,” sailing from Venice or Bari and calling at, Katakolon, Santorini, Mykonos, Piraeus, Corfu and Dubrovnik. Rates for balcony staterooms begin at $769.
  • MSC Orchestra’s 11-night sailing from Rome or Genoa, calling at Heraklion, Piraeus, Istanbul, Messina and Valletta. Rates for balcony staterooms begin at $969.

Alternate departure ports and itineraries may be available. Prices may vary. Contact your local travel professional, as space is limited

On all 12 of MSC Cruises’ ships, guests will discover what earned the line Porthole Cruise Magazines 2011 Readers’ Choice Award for “Best Onboard International Experience.” Surrounded by elegance and white-gloved service, guests can be pampered with a Balinese massage in the MSC Aurea Spa, dine in the many restaurants featuring international cuisine, sunbathe poolside, gamble in the casino or enjoy the highly acclaimed entertainment in the lounges or the magnificent theater. For guests seeking more activity, there is miniature golf, swimming, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and shuffleboard as well as a wide variety of excursions sure to satisfy the interests of all guests.

For more information about MSC Cruises, visit us online at www.msccruisesusa.com, call 877-665-4655, or contact a local travel professional. Be certain to ask for Fall Promo for eligible fall dates and rates).

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About MSC Cruises:

MSC Cruises is a privately-held, family-owned, Mediterranean cruise line with a fleet of 12 ships: MSC Magnifica, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Melody. Its 12th ship, MSC Divina, a sister ship to MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, debuted in May 2012, with sister ship MSC Preziosa scheduled to join the fleet in March 2013. The fleet cruises year round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, South America, the Indian Ocean, and South and West Africa.

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Avalon Waterways announces new ships, new itineraries for river cruising for 2013; $1000 off ‘Book Now’ deals

April 26, 2012

Melk Abbey in Austria has a perch above the Danube River is visited on Avalon Waterways' new 'Austrian Highlights & Bavaria" itinerary © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

On the heels of announcing two new Suite Ships in Europe and Avalon ChoiceSM – an entirely new concept in river cruising – for 2013, Avalon Waterways is also unveiling plans to add five new itineraries (plus a new themed cruise) to its roster of cruise options.

“Our choice cruise options will now include more journeys through northern Holland, Austria, Central Europe and Germany,” said Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “In addition, we’re giving cruisers the chance to discover the divine tastes and incredible flavors of northern France on a new Culinary Cruise. And, in Asia, we’re adding an exciting new cruise along China’s mighty Yangtze River, aboard two new ships.”

NEW EUROPE CRUISES:

Thanks to increased demand for “passion travel,” Avalon Waterways is expanding its popular wine-, music-, art-, legacy- and holiday-vacations to include a NEW! culinary-themed cruise, available on two itineraries for 2013: Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches (departure 1029; priced from $2,399) and Grand France (departure 1022; $4,999).

“On this cruise, travelers will enjoy cider, wine and oil tastings,” Clark said. “They will also visit a calvados distillery and a farm that produces the delicious Pont l’Evêque and Liarot cheeses. In addition, a local chef will prepare for guests a menu of regional specialties while sharing tips for food preparation.”

Another sure-to-be-hit for those interested in cruising Europe is Avalon’s 8-day NEW! Tulips of Northern Holland vacation, priced from $2,449. “Every year, our traditional Tulip Time Cruise sells out,” said Clark. “Now, we’re giving our travelers who love the beauty and history of Holland’s tulips a chance to combine some well-known sights with off the beaten path experiences.”

Originating in Amsterdam, on this itinerary, cruisers will enjoy the region of “North Holland” where tulip fields abound before cruising farther north to the region known as “Friesland,” famous for its black and white cows. They’ll sail across the Ijsselmeer and take a walking tour of the small town of Hoorn. They will also visit the ZuiderZee Museum in Enkhuizen, the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad and a windmill outside the fishing village of Volendam, with even more excursion choices in Arnhem and Rotterdam.

Other new European cruises for Avalon for 2013:

  • NEW! Austrian Highlights & Bavaria: On this 9-day cruise vacation, travelers will visit Austria’s capital, Vienna, as well as charming small towns like Melk, Dürnstein and Grein before heading into Germany’s Bavaria. This new vacation also includes time in Munich and a visit to Oberammergau. Priced from $2,579 land/cruise (priced from $1,849 cruise-only).
  • NEW! Capitals of Central Europe: With both 10- and 12-day options, this itinerary focuses on Europe’s splendid capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest – as well as the many small towns that dot the landscape along the way. Priced from $2,939 land/cruise (priced from $2,299 cruise-only).
  • NEW! Highlights of Germany: On this 13-day journey from Munich to Basel, Avalon guests will visit two of King Ludwig’s most famous castles: Newuschwanstein, the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and Linderhof. They will also enjoy a beer tasting in Nuremberg and exploration throughout Regensburg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities. Itinerary visits also include UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bamberg and Würzberg. Priced from $4,129 land/cruise (priced from $3,399 cruise-only).

NEW ASIA OFFERINGS:

In 2013, Avalon Waterways is introducing two new ships in Asia – The Century Legend and Century Paragon – and adding a fourth itinerary (a Small Group Discovery vacation): 15-day NEW! Enchanting China & the Yangtze River, priced from $3,629.

According to Clark, on this new itinerary, travelers can experience China in-depth. They’ll visit world-famous sights in Beijing, Xi’an, Lijiang, Shanghai and Hong Kong, including such must-see sites as the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs, Terracotta Warriors, Yu Yuan Gardens and Stanley Market. We’re also offering them amazing, immersive experiences such as attending a special cloisonné and lacquer workshops, a noodle-making demonstration, calligraphy class, rickshaw ride through Beijing’s hutongs and a sampan ride on Hong Kong’s harbor.

“In 2013, our travelers can choose from a 4-to 24-day cruise as well as a cruise-only voyage or an extensive cruise-plus-land journey,” said Clark. “We have put together more than 100 cruise package possibilities on the greatest waterways in the world with hundreds of guaranteed departures to fit cruisers’ interests in Europe, Egypt, China, Southeast Asia and the Galápagos Islands.”

DEAL ALERT: Right now, Avalon Waterways is offering travelers a few ways to save on its 2013 cruises including offering up to $1,000 off per couple on “Book Now Sailings” as well as an early airfare price guarantee for Europe sailings. For details, click here.

To book an Avalon Waterways vacation or request brochures visit a preferred travel agent or by calling 877.380.1535. For more information,  visit www.avalonwaterways.com.

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