Uniworld introduces river cruising to India

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has released their itinerary for a never before river cruise adventure called the India’s Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges for 2016.
Here is a map of the trip

Uniworld India Itinerary

Uniworld India Itinerary

Having just returned from the doing the golden triangle (which is New Delhi to Agra to Jaipur) I will be excited to be able to share first hand knowledge for cruisers wanting to take in this amazing trip. I had seen many pictures of the Taj Mahal before going there but when I actually saw it in person, it took my breath away.

First Glimpse of the Taj Mahal

First Glimpse of the Taj Mahal


The stunning Taj Mahal

The stunning Taj Mahal

Here are the highlights of the trip with pricing starting at $7500usd per person based on double and I believe its going to be a popular trip.

Your cruise/tour package includes:

Travel
7-night Ganges River cruise in a riverview suite onboard the Ganges Voyager II*
5 nights in luxurious Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, including daily buffet breakfast and all service charges, taxes, and porterage*
Tips for local experts and drivers
All transportation throughout your trip, including intra-India flight between Jaipur and Kolkata
All transfers on arrival and departure days

Taste
12 buffet breakfasts, 10 lunches, 9 dinners
Welcome and Farewell Dinners
Afternoon tea in the Governor’s Lounge
Complimentary local beers, spirits, and soft drinks throughout the cruise
Onboard/onshore dinners include complimentary house wine, local beers, or soft drinks
Afternoon coffee, tea, and snacks in the Governor’s Lounge

Explore
11 days of captivating, fully escorted excursions with English-speaking local experts
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise/Tour Manager throughout your trip
State-of-the-art portable audio-headset system on all excursions throughout your trip

Experience
Flowers and fruit plate upon arrival
Onboard cultural enrichment, including traditional sitar music, a Bollywood-style song and dance show, and more
*Ship and hotels are subject to change

River cruising just got a little more family-friendly!

Adventures by Disney is excited to announce the newest addition to its already exquisite portfolio with the debut of all-new river cruise itineraries for 2016. Sailing with AmaWaterways, the travel industry’s premier luxury river cruise line, Adventures by Disney river cruises offer a new way for families to experience the heart of Europe in a way that is active, immersive and easy. These sailings along the Danube River will give travelers the opportunity to experience iconic locations and hidden gems in eight destinations across four countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

DisneyFamilyRiverCruise

DisneyFamilyRiverCruise

The Adventures by Disney river cruise departures will take guests off the beaten path in search of the culture, art and unique stories intrinsic to each European city and town visited. On this 8-day/7-night voyage, guests will explore castle ruins in Germany, savor chocolate tastings and waltz lessons in Bratislava, visit the locations filmed in the movie “The Sound of Music” in Austria, and so much more. Those looking for even greater immersion into local culture can also add an Adventures by Disney 3-day/2-night pre- or post-river cruise experience in Prague, Czech Republic.

Adventures by Disney river cruises offer maximum port time in each city, arriving at dawn and departing late night. That means more time for you to discover the destination through guided activities and individual exploration for a completely tailored and customizable vacation experience.

DisneyRiverCruiseEurope

DisneyRiverCruiseEurope

Our guests will sail on the all-new river cruise ship, AmaViola, which is being custom designed with families in mind. New family-friendly design elements include six sets of connecting staterooms, as well as some rooms and suites that accommodate three- and four-person families, and other unique details that lend themselves to luxury family vacations. Shipboard spaces are being reimagined to provide for specially designed activities geared towards kids, teens and adults.

This video offers just a small peek into what this experience has to offer for your family.

Adventures by Disney is a brand known for providing exceptional service and hands-on experiences that appeal to travelers of all ages. These new river cruising departures are designed to meet the needs and interests of all participating family members – allowing grandparents, parents and children alike to make memories that will last a lifetime in a European setting that is truly breathtaking.

For more information on the new Adventures by Disney river cruising itineraries, visit www.AdventuresbyDisney.com and then contact linda@therivercruiselady.com for Virtuoso special pricing and benefits.

Posted on April 14th, 2015 by Heather Killingbeck, Director, Trip & Program Development, Adventures By Disney on the Disney Parks Blog

Top Ten Travel Tips

1) As you begin your travel plans, check your passport expiry date. I’ve had many clients who didn’t check until right before they left and had to pay huge rush fees to get a new one.

Passport Picture

Passport Picture

2) Buy travel insurance (both cancellation and out of country medical) It may seem like an extra cost that you don’t need but it sure pays for itself tenfold if you have to make a claim. You never think you’ll have a house fire or a break-in but most people buy home insurance every year.

3) Call your credit card company to advise them you will be travelling out of the country so they won’t be suspicious of any charges and possibly freeze your card.

4) Check the voltage and plug types for the country you’ll be visiting and make sure you have the appropriate adapter. (When my husband & I travel together, I even take a small surge protector power bar since we have so many devices between the two of us!) Plus don’t forget to pack your power cords in your carry-on bag as you never know if you’ll be delayed and need them.

5) If travelling somewhere that immunizations or preventative medication is recommended, make sure you start taking well enough in advance (For instance, the Twinrix Hepatitis A&B combo shot is 3 doses that takes six months to complete)

6) Tie a ribbon, bandana or something unique to your bags so they stand out at the luggage carousel and make it less likely that someone will take yours by accident. Also, make sure your bags are tagged with identification (and not just on the outside as those tags can get torn off, you should also put your contact information inside your suitcase as may help if it gets lost.)

7) Speaking of lost luggage, if you’ve ever been waiting and waiting for your bag only to realize that everyone else has left, then that sickening feeling hits you as you finally come to terms that your bag did not arrive, you’ll love this tip – before you leave home, take a picture of your bag with your camera or smartphone so when the agent asks you to fill out all the paperwork with the color, type etc, you have the info at your fingertips. I also take a picture of what I’ve packed inside because if the bag never shows up, it helps jog your memory on what to claim. (I could probably do an entire list just on luggage tips as I’ve lost many bags!)

8) Before leaving on your trip, find out what the luggage allowance is for ALL your flights – if you are changing to a smaller aircraft from an overseas flight, they can be vastly different. You don’t want to get caught with overweight luggage and huge excess charges at check in. In your documentation, make sure you have your booking reference numbers for each airline as they too can be different.

9) If making a few airplane changes which means going through many airport security check points, keep your outfit simple – wear shoes that are easy to take on and off, don’t wear bangles or other jewelry (or coins in your pocket) that might set off the machines. Have your laptop and see through bag of liquids (under 100ml or 3 oz) handy at the top of your carry-on bag.

10) The most important tip of all is to pack your patience!
Your flight might get delayed, your hotel room may not be ready when you arrive, your transfer might not show up, you may get lost, your cruise cabin might be under the gym (this one happened to me once and the cabin shook when one particular guy ran on the treadmill at top speed) and many other mishaps but travel is all about the journey, the destination and the troubles that turn into stories once you get home. Embrace them and be thankful that you’re able to be out experiencing the wonder of our world.

Jazz it up to Graceland on a Mississippi River Cruise!

The brand new American Eagle paddlewheeler will be raising the standard for river cruising when American Cruise Lines launches this beauty in April of 2015.

A great time will be had cruising the Lower Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis. Starting out in a place where centuries old architecture is the backdrop for a culture steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond. New Orleans is home to a truly unique melting pot of culture, food and music where you’ll find bowls filled to the rim with gumbo and wonderful sounds coming from the jazz clubs.
Board your brand new ship and head north, stopping in Oak Alley, Baton Rouge and St. Francisville in Louisiana along the way. Sailing into Mississippi, you’ll visit Vicksburg to find perfectly blended Southern culture and heritage along with hallowed stories of Civil War battles.
Reaching Tennessee doesn’t have to end your journey, why not stay a few extra days in the legendary Peabody Memphis and visit the iconic Graceland or the Memphis Zoo.

Then when you’ve done this unforgettable journey, you’ll be ready to sign up for their Upper Mississippi river cruise itinerary !

Or if you’ve got plenty of time (and money!) on your hands, they have one epic journey in August that travels the entire length of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Paul, MN in 22 days. Visit 10 states, even more than Huck Finn’s famous trip down the Mississippi River, to experience a complete history of the western frontier.

American Eagle Paddlewheeler

American Eagle Paddlewheeler

Combine your river cruise with a BMW or Audi factory tour

Exclusive to The River Cruise Lady !

Trying to convince your significant other to take a river cruise with you ? Then they will love this Danube itinerary which sails from the beautiful city of Budapest and ending in Munich where we add on a BMW or Audi factory tour (or both if you prefer !)

Dates and availability are limited so email your preferred departure to linda@therivercruiselady.com and everything can be arranged for you from your airfare, transfers, extra hotel nights so no stress for you.

Would you buy a river cruise without heated seats ?

Since my husband has been in the process of buying a newer car lately, it got me thinking about the similarities between purchasing a car and purchasing a river cruise.

It really depends on where you are in your life cycle that steers you towards a certain type of car or cruise. For instance, most cars do exactly the same things, they go forward, reverse, have windshield wipers, headlights and it will get to and from your destination. Same with a river cruise, most of the companies do the same routes on the rivers, stop at the same towns, offer meals, drinks and entertainment onboard and get you to and from your destination.

Now the “extras” are what sets them both apart.

For the cars, you can buy a basic one like a Ford Fusion for just over $20,000 that has power windows, locks, keyless entry and air conditioning. More upgrades would include a sunroof, navigation system, and that wonderful in winter feature – heated seats.

It’s a great car but you find many choosing the popular Audi A5 which cost wise with the prestige trim, will put you over the $50,000 range but comes complete with auto-dimming exterior mirrors, adaptive Xenon Plus headlights, a Parking System Plus with a reversing camera, and side assist blind-spot warning system, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with Bluetooth capability plus more. (whew)

Well the same goes for river cruises, it is not as though one company is better than the other, some just offer more “extras” where everything is included.

For example, you could take a 7 night river cruise on the Seine with Avalon Waterways and it would be wonderful – they include wine/beer with dinner and include most excursions. Their ship holds 140 passengers and for some, they will purchase the optional excurions, everyone pays gratuities at the end and depending on how many drinks you’ve enjoyed throughout the week, will have a bit of a bar bill to settle.

Take that same cruise with Tauck and everything is included from the drinks, excursions, transfers to and from the airport or train station plus all gratuities onboard and on the tours. (they also include fancy extras like a private dinner at a chateau in Normandy) Their ship only holds 118 passengers for the same size of vessel so you’ve got more space. Plus they have 14 suites at 300 sq feet each compared to only 2 on Avalon’s (which are 258 sq feet) Tauck also has bicycles onboard that you can sign out on your own or on a bike excursion.

The price difference?

For a mid summer departure in 2015, the Avalon river cruise will start at approx. $3150usd, the Tauck one will start at $5990usd per person based on double. If you want an even longer experience where your ship is docked right at Honfleur (which is only a stones throw from the D-Day landing beaches) then a 10 night all inclusive cruise with Scenic cruises would be your choice and their starting price for this itinerary is $6330usd and up.

So it really does depend on where you are in life as to how much you want to spend on your river cruise. I find the older we get, the more we are willing to spend because frankly, we’ve earned it. We have worked hard all our lives starting out with the basics and now we are in a position where we can enjoy all the bells and whistles. (and heated seats !)

We were all taught the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ and it is so true when it comes to river cruising, you can sail with many of the companies and it will be wonderful or you can sail with a few of the all-inclusive lines & the trip will be amazing.

Whichever one you choose, you will love the experience of getting into the heart of your destination.

What cabin should I book for a river cruise ?

I decided to write about what cabin you should book from having a conversation with my parents.  They received a brochure in the mail about a European river cruise and when I was visiting, they pointed out that the company was offering FREE AIRFARE for a few of their departures.  They exclaimed enthusiastically to get them booked right away to take advantage of the deal !

I then showed them the fine print which was that it was only applicable on their “window” category cabins.  To which they replied – “how bad could that be ?”

So I dug out my close up picture that I took of the outside of one of the ships when I was on the Danube  (plus also showed them on the front of the brochure they received)

Outside view of a river cruise ship

Outside view of a river cruise ship

When I showed them the very small window cabin located on the bottom deck of the ship, they understood.  I explained that these cabins are the hardest to sell because most people want either the French balcony or full balcony cabin to take full advantage of being able to open up the doors and experience the river going by.  Whenever you see a river cruise company advertising sale pricing, it is usually on these type of cabins because they are the only ones available.

The other point that they were shocked to learn was that the suite cabins are actually the FIRST to sell out.  This is because most ships may only have 2 suites and if anyone is crossing over from ocean cruising and used to a large suite, they also want one of those on the river.  Due to this fact, many of the companies are changing the way they build their ships.  Take a look at the new SS Antoinette that Uniworld built – they now have one huge Royal Suite at 391 sq feet, then 8 suites at 294 sq feet to tap into that market that is willing to pay for a larger cabin.  For comparison, their cabin sizes in category 1 through 3 are 196 sq feet and 4/5 are 163 sq feet.

SSAntoinette Uniworld

SSAntoinette

So to answer what cabin should you book for a river cruise ?     Well, that all depends on you – get the suite if you have the funds and book far enough in advance, get the French balcony for wonderful river views and get the window category if you want a bargain!    Whichever one you choose, you will love the experience of getting into the heart of your destination.

 

How to pack a carry on suitcase for a 3 week trip

When I met my travelling companion before the start of our Rhine river cruise and she showed up with this small carry on bag and backpack, was thinking that wow she’ll be wearing the same clothes every day. Well was I wrong and you can see in the video how much stuff she actually fits into this carry on. I was so amazed that I had to share this with to show you that it can be done and I’m going to try her ideas when packing for my next trip. Enjoy !

Seabourn, Seabourn, Seabourn

Wondering why I repeated the Seabourn Cruise Line name three times ?   After just returning from an Athens to Barcelona sailing on the Seabourn Quest, couldn’t believe how many repeat guests were onboard who had sailed with them many, many times.  The ships officers and staff held a reception one night for these repeaters and gave out a few “milestone” awards when a certain number of sail days were achieved. One family had accumulated so many club points that even their teenage daughter hit the 100 days milestone – very impressive!  One couple that was awarded the 500 days milestone looked to be still under seventy so have plenty more years ahead to increase that amount.

SeabournShipIt’s easy to fall in love with Seabourn and small ship cruising.  There are so many benefits, here are just a few:

1)      Unique itineraries which include smaller ports that the big ships cannot dock at.

2)      Intimate ships with less than 230 suites (compare that with your last ocean cruise)

3)      Spacious suite accommodations with sweeping ocean views — many with verandas

4)      Open bars, all dining venues complimentary and no tipping expected.

Even the lead in ocean view category cabin is just under 300 sq feet (27.5 sq m) and has a walk in closet!

A fun highlight is if they do the galley market lunch where they set up different stations right inside the galley and you walk through the kitchen area gathering from a culinary feast and getting a behind the scenes look at the same time. The ice cream sail-a-way was also a big hit plus dancing under the moonlight on the promenade deck made for a very memorable evening.

Have included a few pictures from the voyage and if you’re on the fence about whether or not to try a Seabourn, my advice would be to jump right in and join the ranks of the other repeaters and start building your own milestone!

www.seabourn.com

Seabourn Club Video

Which is the best River Cruise Company for Europe ?

This is a question I get from my clients all the time and to answer it would be like choosing which child was the best of your children!

They all have their redeeming qualities and differences and it could really depend on ones own preferences as to the outcome. Let me give you an example – Uniworld River Cruises  www.uniworld.com has announced that they are going totally all inclusive for their 2014 European River Cruises (which means they will include unlimited beverages onboard including wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks, juices, plus all shore excursions) which sounds the best except for the non-drinker who ends up paying more for their river cruise for those beverages they won’t consume. These people might think its best to choose Avalon Waterways www.avalonwaterways.com who only provide wine, beer and soft drinks at dinner which is reflected in the price.

Another example is with Viking River Cruises  www.vikingrivercruises.com and all their brand new “longships” that they have recently christened.  While it is so nice to be able to travel in the comfort of a new ship, in order to keep their pricing competitive, they made the decision to put in more staterooms which in turn hold more people.  All river cruise ships that travel on the Danube are regulated and cannot be longer than 443 feet.  The new Viking ships have 95 staterooms or 190 passengers where if you compare that to AMA Waterways www.amawaterways.com whose new ships are the same size, they only have 82 staterooms holding 164 passengers.  So Viking River might have the best pricing, but AMA Waterways have more public space onboard.

Talking about having more space onboard brings me to Tauck River Cruising  www.tauck.com/river-cruises  as they step it up a notch with their new ships having larger rooms, more dining options and capping the passengers at 130 in 67 cabins to get the best space ratio category. They include all beverages, the gratuties, a signature special experience and all shore excursions.

Unique for 2014 is Scenic River Cruise www.us.scenictours.com introduction of their new lower priced line Emerald Waterways www.emeraldwaterways.com which will be a first in the industry where one company has two distinct types of river cruises to choose from.  Scenic Tours originated in Australia selling package tours and is still privately owned there. Scenic also  offers the all inclusive concept but Emerald will only have wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Their aim with the new Emerald line is to target a younger demographic with their two ships having swimming pools that inventively convert into a cinema and their open-air balcon system that allows you to enjoy it no matter what the weather.

A new player in the North American market is A-Rosa Cruises www.arosacruises.com which has been operating in Europe for years but has now picked a few of their departures to cater exclusively to English speaking passengers. It will be interesting to see if they are able to keep up with the other big operators.

So you can see that its tough to pick the “best” one as each has their own unique benefits.  Viking River claims to have the “greenest” ships featuring diesel-electric hybrid engines specially designed for low vibration and minimal environmental impact. AMA Waterways is famous for their fresh food brought on from local ports. Avalon Waterways have the most innovative design in their cabins where they’ve turned the bed to face the french balcony sliding glass doors. Uniworld offers an interesting mix of programs for their shore excursions including Go Active, Gentle Walking, Do as the Locals Do and Village Day.

If you would like some additional information on any of these companies, ships or their itineraries, please feel free to drop me an email.  If you’ve already sailed on any of them – which one was your favourite and why ?

RiverCruiseLadyLinda

linda@therivercruiselady.com