by Steve Hartridge
European Waterways increases sailings
European Waterways' 2021 programme will ramp up in August with the introduction of more hotel barge holidays in France and sailings in Italy and Ireland.
Following the launch of L’Art de Vivre in Burgundy several weeks ago, the company has added four hotel barges in France, which will offer six-night, all-inclusive cruises.
They include the eight-passenger Renaissance in the Upper Loire and Western Burgundy; the eight-passenger Finesse in Southern Burgundy; the Dutch-styled eight-passenger Anjodi, a founding member of the fleet that cruises the Canal du Midi; and the 12-passenger Panache in Alsace and Lorraine.
The company will also be sailing in Italy from August 1, when the 20-passenger La Bella Vita (pictured) cruises between Venice and the Renaissance city of Mantua. Included in the itinerary is a tour of Venice, dinner with a countess, a visit to the wine cellars of Villa Widmann-Borletti, and a deep dive into Roman, Etruscan and Byzantine history with a tour of Chioggia.
Ireland is also back on August 1, when the 10-passenger Shannon Princess will take guests to picturesque loughs along the River Shannon. The cruise will feature tours of castles and manors, visits to a whiskey distillery and local pubs and a birds of prey demonstration.
European Waterways' has also been sailing a series of UK trips this summer, including The Magna Carta on the Thames and the Spirit of Scotland on Scotland’s Caledonian Canal.
“We’re excited to see a strong, upward trend in bookings,” says Derek Banks, the company's Managing Director.
“While some cruises reflect new bookings, others represent guests who have been patiently waiting over a year to go barging with us.”
European Waterways is currently offering fleet-wide specials of 10% off on cabins and whole barge charters this European Summer, valid when booked by August 9, 2021.
Multi-generational and group charters are available on most cruises, and the company says most itineraries that can be modified to meet guests’ interests. These include family-themed excursions, as well as those that focus on golf, gastronomy, and health and well-being.
Princess adds new Canaries cruise
Princess Cruises has added a Canary Islands itinerary to Emerald Princess’ 2022 ex-UK season.
The ship, sailing a series of British Isles voyages throughout summer 2022, will depart from Southampton on October 26, 2022 on a new 12-night Canary Islands cruise.
It will call at Vigo, Madeira (Funchal), Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote (Arrecife), and Lisbon before returning to Southampton.
Fares start from £999pp, based on two people sharing an inside stateroom. All-inclusive fares start from £1,359pp and include a premium drinks package, crew incentive, and unlimited Wi-Fi.
In addition, guests can receive up to $500 onboard credit per stateroom when they book a 2022 or 2023 Princess cruise before August 31, 2021.
“Following popular demand for Princess’ itineraries to the Canaries, we are delighted to extend Emerald Princess’ ex-UK season with this new voyage, meaning guests have three Canary Islands sailings to choose from for 2022,” said Tony Roberts, Vice president Princess Cruises UK & Europe.
Hurtigruten lays foundation for young explorers
Hurtigruten Expeditions has partnered with the #WeTwo Foundation, a charity set up to encourage younger generations to care about the environment around them.
The scheme will see 10 nominated underprivileged young people embark on an expedition to Antarctica in February 2022.
The chosen explorers will sail onboard hybrid ship, MS Fridtjof Nansen and join the onboard expedition team in a series of Citizen Science projects.
This will include Seabird Distribution with the Antarctic Site Inventory, tracking individual whales and leopard seals and studying phytoplankton.
Hurtigruten Expeditions will sponsor four of the explorers along their journey to Antarctica. Those nominated to join the sailing will need to 'pay it forward' by committing to take part in initiatives close to home to improve their local area before they join the adventure.
These will include rewilding projects, removing plastics from saplings, helping clean rivers, beaches and green spaces. They will also share with others,through talks and social media, the abundance of nature and environment on their doorstep, becoming local ambassadors for the environment.
The #WeTwo Foundation was set up by adventurers Dwayne Fields and Phoebe Smith to change the face of adventure together and encourage the next generation from all walks of life to fall in love with the outdoors and look after our planet by using the tool of adventure.
“The ship we have secured places on is Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen, one of the world's first hybrid expedition vessels, meaning the carbon footprint is the lowest it can be – 20% less carbon is produced than in usual ships,” said Fields.
Anthony Daniels, General Manager UK and EMEA at Hurtigruten Expeditions said: “We are honoured to partner with the #WeTwo Foundation and to support their mission. We look forward to taking the next generation of ambassadors to Antarctica to educate them on the importance of protecting the environment both overseas and at home, to help protect the world for future generations.”
Norwegian bearing cultural gifts in Greece
Norwegian Jade became the cruise line's first ship to resume sailing last weekend.
Its first-ever vessel to homeport in the Greek capital, Athens, Jade will embark on a series of cruises that will run until November.
They will make calls at Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, with a focus on the country's history, culture and gastronomy.
The line said homeporting in Athens was a key part of its future plans to increase its presence in Europe.
In 2023 Norwegian plans to deploy nine ships in Europe, with seven vessels – Jade, Escape, Getaway, Gem, Norwegian Dawn, Epic and Star – all scheduled to sail in Greece.
Harry Sommer, NCL President and Chief Executive, said: “With such strong demand, we’re glad to expand our offering in Greece with seven ships through 2023, providing our guests with a range of innovative vessels and itineraries to choose from.”
NCL’s Sail Safe health and safety programme mandates that all crew and guests onboard voyages departing up to and on October 31 must fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Celebrity sets sail
Several Celebrity ships resumed cruising last weekend (July 25) with Celebrity Millennium setting out for for Alaska, Celebrity Xpedition heading for the wildlife-rich Galápagos and Celebrity Eclipse cruising to the Caribbean.
This sailings meant eight ships from the line's 14-member fleet resumed service over an eight-week period.
Celebrity Millennium left the Port of Seattle on the first of its 11 weekly Alaska round-trips through early October, a route that will see passengers stop at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Icy Strait Point.
Celebrity Equinox's tour of the western Caribbean, from Port Everglades, makes stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. The vessel will alternate western and eastern Caribbean routes.
The new Celebrity Apex made its world debut in Piraeus, Greece, on June 19, while Celebrity Edge became the first ocean-going cruise ship to depart from a U.S. port in over a year when it set out from Miami on June 26.
On July 3, Celebrity Silhouette began carrying British passengers from Southampton on a series of UK coastal cruises, while in the Galápagos, Celebrity Flora set sail on July 4.
All Celebrity ships are sailing with crew fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while UK travellers on Celebrity Silhouette must be fully vaccinated and aged at least 18.