by Steve Hartridge
CroisiEurope launches biggest-ever programme
River cruise operator CroisiEurope's new 2022 programme features over 180 itineraries on rivers, canals and oceans across the globe.
The schedule will be the company’s most expansive to date, featuring 55 ships on 16 major rivers (plus multiple tributaries), six French canals, two coastal routes (plus repositionals), two ocean itineraries (plus repositionals) and Lake Kariba in Africa.
An early booking offer - of 15% off all 2022 itineraries made by June 30 2021 - is in place and the line is also offering a range of special offers to tie in with its 45th anniversary year.
New is the four-night Romantic German Sites & The Charming Neckar Valley cruise from Strasbourg to Stuttgart, calling in at Heidelberg, Eberbach, Heilbronn and Ludwigsburg. There are four departures on the MS Mona Lisa (September 22 and October 4, 21 and October 25, with cruise prices from £765pp.
Also new is a six-night cruise between Mantua and Venice, along the Canal Bianco through three Italian regions: Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto. With departures between April and October, cruise-only prices start from £1,300pp.
Hotel barge itineraries will operate through Alsace, Burgundy, Provence, Ile de France and Champagne as well as on the Upper Loire.
Featuring just 11 en-suite cabins, the barges will likely appeal to families or groups of friends wanting to enjoy an exclusive getaway. Cruise prices from £2,066pp for a seven-night Burgundy or Alsace cruise.
In Africa a second ship, The RV Zimbabwean Dream, will join its sister ship, the RV African Dream, to offer four-day cruises on Lake Karina combined with a four-day stay in a luxury lodge near Chobe National Park, overlooking the Zambezi, as well as overnights in Johannesburg and Victoria Falls.
The special offers include a 45% discount for the second person in a cabin on selected Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire, Seine, Venice and Croatia cruises and cabin upgrades on select Canary Island ocean cruises.
Riviera axes Ireland for UK-only summer cruises
Riviera Travel's four British Isles cruises in July will comprise exclusively of a ‘Cruising Scotland’s Highlands & Islands’ itinerary.
The cruises, which mark the first time that Riviera has offered UK-based voyages, were initially announced as a combination of Scotland and Ireland voyages.
The eight-day itinerary will depart from either Edinburgh or Greenock and will have a port stop and excursion included every day, taking in Aberdeen, Inverness, Orkney, Oban, the Outer Hebrides and Belfast, a substitute for County Donegal.
Tours on offer include trips to Loch Ness, Balmoral Castle, the Titanic Visitor Centre, the Callanish Standing Stones, and the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar henge and stone circle.
The move to axe the stop in the Republic of Ireland was made due to ongoing uncertainty over Covid entry requirements.
The Emerald Isle's vaccination programme and route out of lockdown is lagging substantially behind that of the UK's.
Guests joining the cruise will be offered free parking at Leith port, Edinburgh, with a shuttle transfer to or from the ship at Greenock. Spaces are limited and must be requested at the time of booking or by May 31.
The sailings will be on the new-to-brand 158-guest MS Seaventure, which was refurbished in 2019. Seaventure is an expedition-ready ship and the only one of its size to cruise the British Isles, meaning it can dock at and explore smaller harbours.
Prices start from £1,999pp, based on two people sharing a cabin, including full board, tours, visits as per the itinerary and all port taxes. Cabins are also available for sole occupancy without a supplement.
CLIA's new river cruise and membership initiatives
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has introduced two new initiatives for travel agents.
Agents looking to learn more about the river cruise sector can now take advantage of CLIA's ‘RiverView Program’ which offers new online training, resources and, coming soon, a schedule of dedicated events.
A key focus is the new Certificate Program, which has two sections - European river cruising and Worldwide river cruising - with tailored advice and guidance on individual rivers and key destinations discovered during five hours of in-depth training.
The initiative comes with a monthly river cruise e-newsletter as well as additional learning resources, including exclusive river sales guides, via the member area of the CLIA website.
The program costs £32 (plus VAT) to enrol.
Also new and available is a CLIA ‘EMBARC ID’ card, which is proof of status as an official travel agent member of CLIA UK & Ireland. All active members are eligible for the card, which will give access to discounted rates when registering for CLIA events.
Additional benefits from CLIA partner businesses will also be on offer and available to those holding the EMBARC ID card.
Further details will be available in the coming weeks.
An introductory rate of £15 + VAT for the card is currently available.
Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director, said: “With the cruise industry rapidly gaining momentum, we’re keen to see more resources on offer for our agent members, to help them keep up with interest and demand.
"Our two new initiatives are perfect for travel professionals interested in river cruise or who are eager to showcase their credentials, as well as carry on learning about our ever-evolving industry.”
Ponant teams up with Smithsonian Journeys
Small ship expeditions line PONANT has announced a new alliance with Smithsonian Journeys, the travel programme of the Smithsonian Institution, for select voyages beginning in 2022.
Drawing on Smithsonian's resources dating back 175 years, the new themed sailings will feature experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife.
Nineteen departures exploring the British Isles, Antarctica, Japan, Iceland, the Mediterranean, British Isles, Great Lakes, and Norwegian fjords and more, will debut in 2022, and will provide opportunities to engage with a variety of experts, ranging from archaeologists and scientists to anthropologists and historians. The venture is Smithsonian Journey’s first alliance with an expedition line.
"PONANT has been a pioneer in immersing travellers in destinations in meaningful ways for more than 30 years. We are proud to launch a collaboration with Smithsonian Journeys, the enduring leader in cultural enrichment, to continue to deliver unparalleled experiences alongside guides that have traversed the globe for decades and top experts in their field,” said Nain Sawhney, Chief Executive Officer, Americas, PONANT.
Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. It is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 19 museums, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.
There were nearly 22 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2019. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million, of which nearly 146 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History.
Crystal plans a symphony in Antigua
Crystal Cruises plans to homeport a ship in St John’s, Antigua, this summer for the first time as part of its plan to reboot coining cruising.
Crystal Symphony[nbsp]will run 15 10-night itineraries between August 15 and December 23 with stops in Barbados, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St Maarten and the British Virgin Islands.
The line says that with Crystal Symphony’s return to sailing it hopes to run close to 100% of normal service of its ocean-going fleet this summer.
Passengers on the cruises, which will operate on reduced capacity, must be fully inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to boarding.
Cruise-only fares start at $2,999 with early booking discounts of up to $1,000 per passenger and spending credits of $200pp.
Crystal Serenity will follow a programme of sailings from Bahamas with Crystal Endeavor sailing is first departures from Iceland. Agents can claim a $100 bonus commission with every booking on the three ships’ new itineraries.
More rewards points from NCL
Norwegian Cruise Line has doubled the number of points for agents enrolled on its sales incentive scheme.
The extra points on the NCL Freestyle Rewards programme are available to agents who book selected sailings by April 21.
The sales promotion is based on sailings in Europe and the Caribbean by five ships starting with Norwegian Jade on July 25.
Norwegian Joy then resumes service on August 7 followed by Norwegian Gem on August 15, Norwegian Epic on September 5 and Norwegian Dawn on September 26.
The initiative allows agents to earn and collect points towards gifts or vouchers.