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European river cruising

The Royal Clipper in full sail. Photo courtesy of Star Clippers.

The Royal Clipper in full sail. Photo courtesy of Star Clippers.

Two of my favorite cruise lines, Star Clippers and CroisiEurope, have just come out with Valentine’s specials, and with Cupid Day coming right up, you’ll have to move quickly to take advantage of them.

Star Clippers, whose fleet consists of three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels, has a Valentine’s Day offer of French Champagne, sweet treats, and a one-hour massage for two for all new bookings made by February 15, 2016, based on double occupancy. 

If you’re traveling solo, you can treat yourself to one massage along with the Champagne and sweets as well.

The offer is good for select Mediterranean sailings between April and October of this year. To review European itineraries and to book, go to the Star Clippers website or call 1-800-442-0551.

Note: I was on one… Continue reading

Tuvalu will become a center for Climate Change Tourism. Photo from Timeless Tuvalu

Tuvalu will become a center for Climate Change Tourism. Photo from Timeless Tuvalu

Peering into my crystal ball for 2016 — which due to budgetary concerns is more like fiberglass this year — I foresee the following top ten developments in the ever-changing, sometimes wacky world of travel:

Try to pare this down to wallet size, please.

Try to pare this down to wallet size, please.

  • A 747 will be diverted from Omaha to New Orleans overnight because passengers in seats A and B get into a spat over who can claim the middle armrest. Oddly, none of the hundreds of passengers aboard complain as they gobble down their jambalaya and beignets.
  • Spurred by the success of a tour agency named “Toodle-oo Tuvalu” and a boutique hotel called “Sinking Along With the Breeze,” Climate Change Tourism will be huge, in which ghoulish travelers will journey to low-lying Pacific atolls soon to be inundated… Continue reading

First in a three-part series. 

While all European rivers offer memorable scenery and an alluring array of port stops ranging from big cities to atmospheric villages, they also differ from each other in significant ways. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which river cruise is right for you. (Keep in mind that itineraries may vary a bit among the different cruise lines.)

The Danube

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

>Europe’s second longest river is second to none in romance, scenic beauty and high culture. Most one-week Danube itineraries run between Nuremberg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, with stops in Vienna, Austria, and a voyage through Austria’s scenic Wachau Valley along the way. The Wachau Valley features the town of Dȕrnstein – where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned during the Crusades – and the nearby town of Melk, home to a… Continue reading

The Viking Europe river boat, part of Viking's rapidly expanding fleet. Photo from Viking River Cruises.

The Viking Europe river boat, part of Viking’s rapidly expanding fleet. Photo from Viking River Cruises.

If you haven’t booked your planned 2014 European river cruise by now, you may be out of luck — at least for your preferred cruise line, cabin or destination.

European river cruising is the hottest trend in the cruise world right now, with many 2014 cruises already selling out or almost sold out. And its popularity is being driven largely by baby boomer travelers, who can afford to pay more per day than on a typical ocean cruise.

Several river cruise lines and travel agents who book cruises say they’re now more focused on 2015 than on 2014. This despite a rash of new ships being introduced into the market:

* Viking River Cruises, the giant of the industry, is launching 14 new European river ships in March, bringing its total there to… Continue reading

A CroisiEurope boat glides peacefully down a canal as passengers sit on deck. Photo from CroisiEurope.

A CroisiEurope boat glides peacefully down a canal as passengers sit on deck. Photo from CroisiEurope.

Americans have always been able to go on CroisiEurope river cruises — Europe’s largest river cruise line with 30 ships — but now the family-owned company has added a U.S. website and call center for consumers to book with them directly.

Until now, travel agents could book U.S. passengers onto CroisiEurope ships, but the company’s new U.S. presence means that it’s going after the American market in a big way — including, of course, baby boomer travelers, who are the lifeblood of just about all river cruising operations.

At this past weekend’s River Cruise Convention in Cologne, Germany, CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) UK director Andy Harmer told delegates that boomers are “incredibly impactful for our business,” praising them as a “wealthy, active and physically fit generation of consumers.” He urged agents selling river… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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