RIVER CRUISING HAS BECOME one of the fastest-growing segments of water travel, enabling passengers to take in the sights of the world’s great inland waterways, especially in Europe. The rising tide of interest in river travel prompted an upgrade of the ships themselves, where the facilities and amenities increasingly resemble those of their big sisters, the swank, ocean-going, “all-inclusive” luxury cruise ships.
Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, initiated this upscaling a decade ago with the introduction of an extensive fleet of sleek, 190-passenger Longships. These premium-grade vessels, including six more launched this year alone, prove far more than floating tour buses with beds, bars and buffets, offering sleek, well-appointed staterooms, free shore excursions in every port, complimentary WiFi and beer and wine with lunches and dinners.
To compete with Viking, several river cruise lines further closed the luxury gap between river and ocean cruising. AmaWaterways, for example, now operates 16 river ships in Europe. Its newest models feature heated pools with swim-up bars; marble bathrooms; suites with twin balconies; fleets of 25 bicycles for shore use; cooking demos; and a wealth of workout, wellness and exercise classes — luxury flourishes once associated exclusively with top-notch ocean-going cruise ships. The 194-passenger AmaMagna, launched this year, is Europe’s largest and widest river ship, boasting elevator service to its sundeck, a wellness studio with spa, four dining venues and a fold-down watersports and leisure platform with a tour boat aboard. Uniworld, another staple of the luxury river cruising industry, is not to be outpaced. Uniworld is set to introduce the S.S. Bon Voyage in 2019 and the S.S. La Venezia and S.S. São Gabriel in 2020. S.S. Bon Voyage was previously known as the River Royale. Once the renovation is complete and the ship is ready for service, it will include a new swimming pool and a new lounging area. Newlydesigned suites and marble bathrooms adorn the entire ship.
Not to be outdone, Australian-based Scenic River Cruises updated all eight of its vessels sailing the Rhine, Main and Danube in 2019. Scenic’s 163-passsenger Space Ships offer all-inclusive fares that include gratuities, private butler service for all passengers, unlimited free beverages and spirits, temperature-controlled therapeutic salt lounges and 24-hour room service. As the first river cruise line inducted into La Confrérie de la Châine des Rôtisseurs, Scenic provides true gourmet dining as well.
The newest all-inclusive luxury line to hit the waterways of Europe is Crystal River Cruises, offspring of Crystal’s renowned ocean-cruising operation. Since 2016 Crystal brought five ships to the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers, where they stand out as the only fleet of all-suite, all-balcony, all-butler vessels. Among Crystal’s lavish perks are the inclusion of all gratuities, 24-hour dedicated private butler service, 24-hour in-room dining, farm-to-table cuisine, king-sized beds, extensive spa facilities, guest laundries, power-assisted e-bikes and at least two free shore excursions at every port.
If the posh amenities and deluxe onboard options of a luxury ocean cruise are what you’re looking for on Europe’s inland waterways, this rising tide of premium and all-inclusive boutique river ships should fit the bill.
As I arrived at the Air Canada check-in counter, the helpful staff directed me to the security checkpoint. Once through the line, and a bit strapped for time, I walked quickly to my gate, where an extremely kind concierge service member greeted me. She asked how my trip was and said she had been watching for me so she could assist me with boarding early to ensure a calm and easy departure. She assisted me earlier that week when I processed through security from Toronto to London, so it was nice closing my trip with a friendly face. She escorted me onto the plane and to my seat in the beautiful Signature Class cabin of the Boeing 787-8, introducing me to the flight attendant who would be directing cabin staff during my flight. I thanked the concierge for her hospitality throughout my journey.
Finding a beachfront Punta Cana all-inclusive resort for all ages can be daunting when you want to take home great memories with loved ones but also experience a sophisticated escape. Now, you can have both thanks to a new resort: Finest Punta Cana.
Travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip ranked the best and worst U.S. cities for cleanliness, and Long Beach, California, is No. 1, rated the cleanest U.S. city. InsureMyTrip examined city- and state-level data on key categories, including hand sanitizer demand, restaurant cleanliness, quantity of recycling collectors, garbage disposal satisfaction, electric vehicle market share and pollution.
Meliá Hotels International announced the expansion of its ME by Meliá, Gran Meliá and Paradisus brands in 2021.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
Tropicana Las Vegas launched its first-ever Holiday in Paradise outside in Tropicana Plaza to help spread holiday cheer this year. Through Jan. 3, more than 25,000 lights will cover the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard, alongside a 20-foot Christmas tree and a tropical forest of 25 palm trees and Christmas trees. The free experience for all ages also includes a 10-foot-tall, live poinsettia photo wall, holiday music and a pop-up bar serving winter-themed cocktails, hot cocoa and more.
As more destinations around the globe reopen to travelers, we are ready to get back to one of our favorite activities. Join us over the next several weeks as we take you to places around the world saying #WelcomeBacktoTravel. Take a visual journey through Portugal with us.