“For instance,” she explains, “based on passenger feedback, we have carefully selected such destinations as Amsterdam, Brussels, Istanbul, London, Lucerne, Munich, Paris, Prague, Spain and Vienna, and then priced them just right for those wishing to spend more time either before or after a cruise in those places.”
Accordingly, Uniworld’s pre- and post-cruise packages range from two to eight nights and include stays in top-notch hotels that offer all the amenities expected by discerning travelers.
“We provide our guests with the perfect balance of the great sightseeing opportunities of the tours with free time on their own to experience the cities and destinations,” Grimardi says.
She also says that Uniworld will expand its pre- and post-cruise programs in 2010.
Presently, a 3-day extension in Paris includes lodging at the first-class Le Meridien Montparnasse, daily breakfast, all transfers, a local host and a visit to Musee d’Orsay.
This Uniworld package is applicable only to cruises originating in Paris and costs $599 pp (sgl supplement $289).
Uniworld offers an equally appealing 4-day London package with lodgings at the Crowne Plaza St. James Hotel for $799 (sgl supplement $199).
Other Uniworld packages vary depending on time and location, but all have been specifically tailored to augment the joys of river cruising.
Joos Ouendag, v.p. of product development at Viking River Cruises, agrees that extra time spent before or after a cruise can be as enjoyable for travelers as it’s profitable for river cruise firms.
“Pre- and post-cruise packages enhance any river cruise by providing additional travel experiences in the area where a guest may be visiting,” he says.
“For example, a cruise through France is greatly enriched by spending extra time exploring the romance of Paris or the glamorous areas of Nice and the French Riviera. Our clients have also found that a cruise along China’s rivers becomes even more rewarding when extending it with additional time spent in Hong Kong or Guilin.”
Ouendag says that Viking will offer two different types of pre- and post-cruise packages for the upcoming year. The first is made up of those traditional extensions that allow for some time in completely diverse destinations. “For example,” he continues, “you can cruise through the Ukraine and then fly to Istanbul. We also offer time in Helsinki prior or after river cruising through Russia. Then there is the option of spending four nights in the Swiss Alps before or after cruising the Rhine. An Egypt cruise offers extra time in either Israel or Jordan.”
The second type of packages Viking will unveil, according to Ouendag, “…provide additional time for in-depth exploration of an area that guests may only touch upon during the cruise. For example, our Elegant Elbe is book-ended by one day in Berlin and another day in Prague, so visitors wishing to spend additional time exploring the highlights of those cities can do so via our extensions. We also have similar arrangements for itineraries that begin or end in Amsterdam, Budapest, Lucerne and Vienna.”
The Elegant Elbe package originating in either Berlin or Prague is priced at $899 pp.
Viking’s Portraits of Southern France runs from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon, with the option of a 3-night extension in Paris for $999 or, for a similar price, a post-cruise period in Nice and the French Riviera.
One of the more appealing packages offered by Viking consists of three nights in Helsinki, or a 7-day land extension that includes an excursion to the Baltic capitals. Costs begin at $999 pp for the Finland portion and $2,999 pp for the Baltic adventure.
Indeed, Viking has more than 19 different extension packages in Europe, all showing tremendous appeal to those contemplating a river cruise.
Meanwhile, in China, after disembarking from a trip along that country’s jaw-dropping river, travelers will find that the Asian adventure has merely begun if they opt for Viking’s 4-day extension (from $1,699 pp) that includes first-class accommodations in hotels in Guilin where the serene rural landscapes are as appealing as the shopping in Hong Kong.