Oh, those Northern Lights…always a lure for cruisers who’ve been there, done that, and Viking Ocean (vikingcruises.com/oceans) is delivering with a new ocean cruise itinerary that allows guests the rare opportunity to explore the far north during Norway’s winter—peak time for those majestic illuminations that slash across the night sky. Come January 2019, the 13-day In Search of the Northern Lights itinerary will begin sailing between London and Bergen on the 930-passenger Viking Sky.
AmaWaterways (amawaterways.com) is delivering on the exotic with new Mekong itineraries for 2018 aboard the 124-passenger AmaDara. One option is the Charms of the Mekong-Upstream from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, which includes a 7-night cruise and then guests have the option of adding on pre- and post-cruise land stays in the bookend cities, as well as extra nights in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. The Riches of the Mekong follows the same concept, but it sails downstream. AmaWaterways is also debuting its first wine-themed cruise in Asia for a March 26, 2018 sailing featuring the Sbragia Family Vineyards from the California Dry Creek Valley with lectures and tastings.
Emerald Waterways (emeraldwaterways.com) has its eyes set on expansion in Europe with a new 2018 itinerary, the 8-day The Charms of Holland & Belgium, which explores the history and culture of these two countries and sails roundtrip from Amsterdam. It’s set for two departures, July and September, and if guests book in full by Oct. 31, 2017, they’ll get a $400 savings per couple.
For clients who want to combine far-flung destinations with European getaways, Regent Seven Seas Cruises (rssc.com) has unveiled details about its new World Cruise aboard the Seven Seas Mariner. The 131-night Navigate the World cruise departs Jan. 24, 2020 roundtrip from San Francisco and sails to the South Pacific, the Med, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caribbean and Central America. All in all, it’s 30 countries on six continents, with visits to 36 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Enhancing the Product
Holland America Line’s Westerdam (hollandamerica.com) is looking freshened up after her time in dry dock. She’s now sporting renovated public spaces, and two firsts for the fleet: the Rijksmuseum at Sea, and EXC. The latter is an Explorations Central hub that offers destination immersion with interactive screens, an EXC team, EXC tours, and EXC destination guides. The new museum at sea space, meanwhile, was created from a partnership with the famed Netherlands museum and features reproductions of some of the institution’s most famous masterpieces. Also debuting are new entertainment options at Music Walk, as well as a new look for America’s Test Kitchen.
MSC Cruises (msccruisesusa.com), too, is upping the ante by adding 19 new shore excursions to its range of tours in the Med, including five of which are exclusive to the MSC Meraviglia. They include touring Italy’s largest aquarium in Genoa, with a behind-the-scenes look at marine laboratories, plankton farming and jellyfish not usually accessible to the public; and experiencing Italy like a local in Naples, with sightseeing complemented by coffee, pastry and pizza. There are also new foodie and family tours in Pompeii, Barcelona, Messina, and Malta.
And Then There was Paradise…
All eyes are on Celebrity Edge (celebritycruises.com), the cruise line’s first new ship in six years set to debut in late 2018. Its newest addition is the new Eden concept, a venue that changes throughout the day and was created with a sensory experience in mind. There are outward-facing spaces that invite the ocean in, and its three levels are connected by a winding, multi-deck pathway. In the morning, the space is laid-back and ideal for yoga, or coffee and a croissant. The afternoon brings with it hands-on enrichment seminars and tastings, as well as performances from sitar players and aerialists. When the sun begins to set on the horizon, it’s time for Eve at Eden, with performance art, culinary exploration and a nightlife vibe. “Edenists” serve a choreographed series of experiential culinary delights, and once the feast for the palate comes to a close, guests are prompted by sensory cues to the Eden Bar, towered over by the Library of Plant, offering its bounty of fresh ingredients and garnishes for hand-crafted, artisanal cocktails. Overlooking this new dining/entertainment concept is the Tree of Life, a continuation of the line’s signature living tree aboard its Solstice-class ships.
Norwegian Cruise Line (ncl.com) is offering its version of paradise at sea with new Meet the Winemaker cruises, taking place aboard Norwegian Escape and Dawn.
During sailings in September, November, December 2017, and February and
March 2018, passengers will have the opportunity to participate in wine tasting sessions and seminars with winemakers and industry experts, including Michael Mondavi and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Paul Gauguin Cruises (pgcruises.com) is all about the exotic ports of call, and in 2018 is headed to the port city of Vairao in Tahiti Iti. The cruise line is the only one to visit what some call the “forgotten island,” much less populated and developed than its bigger twin, Tahiti Nui. With the line’s new 7-night Society Islands & Tahiti Iti itinerary, which starts and ends in Papeete, Tahiti, and visits Huahine, Society Islands; Motu Mahana (off the coast of Taha’a), Society Islands; Bora Bora, Society Islands (overnight); Moorea, Society Islands; and Vairao, Tahiti Iti, guests will have the opportunity to explore its wild coastline, ancient temples, and Polynesian culture.