Wave Season 2018 – the best cruise deals

Crystal Serenity at Geiranger Fjord
Crystal Serenity at Geiranger Fjord

Wave Season – the time of year when most cruises are booked and cruise lines offer tempting incentives, runs traditionally from January to March. Although not necessarily the cheapest time to buy a cruise, the combination of enticing perks and plenty of choice appeals to many people dreaming of their next holiday.

Silversea
Silversea 

The key to a good deal is …. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research air fares, weigh-up the real benefit of onboard credit and drinks packages, compare like-with-like and run your ideas past a travel agent as they can sometimes source better discounts and benefits.

Rib Safari
Hurtigruten’s RIB safari at Wilhelmina Bay

Most cruise lines highlight offers on their websites with digital brochures available for download.

Here are our favourites:

Holland America – early booking offers, signature cruises and package deals

Windstar – 7 for 7 deals and Tahiti packages

Silversea – some flights included, early booking offers and Antarctica all-inclusive

Seabourn – Signature Savings Event including Air Credit, Shipboard Credit and upgrades

Crystal – Clear Choices offers including Air Credit, Shipboard Credit and fare reductions

Azamara – 50% off second guest fare, free wi-fi and featured Book, Pay & Save voyages

Regent Seven Seas – up to 50% off fares and reduced deposit

Lindblad – offers on air fares, crew tips and bar tabs

Scenic Ocean – Early Bird fares and free city stays

Hurtigruten – air fare offers, cruise fare reductions and single supplements waived

Galapagos Sea Lion
Galapagos Sea Lion with Lindblad

Images courtesy of Hurtigruten, Silversea, Crystal and Lindblad

 

Silversea World Cruise 2019: A Tale of Tales

A world cruise is arguably the ultimate travel experience. Crossing oceans, rounding capes, visiting the great cities and ticking off continents is, for many people, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Tale of Tales Route Map
Tale of Tales Route Map

Silversea’s Tale of Tales in 2019 promises to be one such epic voyage: 132 blissful days onboard the ultra-luxurious Silver Whisper, travelling from San Francisco to London, visiting 52 ports, and 31 countries. Technically it’s not a ‘world cruise’ as the trip doesn’t actually circumnavigate the globe – but leaving a transatlantic crossing out of the itinerary doesn’t lose much and gives more time to linger and explore fascinating places. It’s a good trade.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Several renowned artists and writers will accompany guests during the trip, inspired (hopefully) by the destinations they visit to produce original art work and short stories. The resulting anthology, presented to every guest, is intended to record the journey from a unique creative perspective.

Tale of Tales
Sydney

Paul Theroux, the author of many highly acclaimed books, is scheduled to travel. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his popular travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Dark Star Safari, and Deep South. He divides his time between Cape Cod and Hawaii.

Tale of Tales
Paul Theroux and Pico Iyer

Also joining the trip is Pico Iyer,  author of two novels and ten works of non-fiction. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages and has been called “arguably the world’s greatest living travel writer”. Born in Oxford, England, to parents from India, he was educated at Eton, Oxford and Harvard.

Silversea Tahiti
Tahiti

Overnights are planned for Tokyo, Cape Town and Bordeaux offering truly immersive visits to these wonderful cities. The itinerary is rich with diversity and interest; guests can look forward to ancient Bali temples, fairytale islands of French Polynesia, Komodo dragons in Indonesia, the bustling streets of Mombasa, African starry skies and London’s iconic Big Ben.

Bali
Bali

www.silversea.com

Radar: Silversea partners with iconic photographer Steve McCurry

Silversea has announced an exciting partnership with renowned photographer Steve McCurry to document the ambitious expansion of their fleet and destination portfolio. The creative pairing with this legendary master of visual storytelling promises unique insights into the authentic and immersive experiences Silversea offers guests.

Silversea’s purpose-built fleet of nine ultra-luxurious vessels, including the recently added Silver Muse, are sleek and nimble, allowing them to access secluded ports and off-the-beaten-track destinations. The luxury and expedition itineraries offer guests more than 850 destinations in more than 130 countries on all seven continents.

Silver Muse
Silver Muse

Steve McCurry, who is best known for his haunting portrait of a green-eyed Afghan refugee girl in National Geographic, is one of the world’s leading photographers and has been recognised with the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the National Press Photographers Award, and four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest.

Steve McCurry
Steve McCurry

In July Steve joined Silversea on a trip to the Virunga Mountains in East Africa where he focused his lens on the few remaining mountain gorillas living there.

Further trips are planned to Istanbul, Sicily and Svalbard. Images from these adventures can be seen at www.steveandsilversea.com

 

Photos courtesy of Silversea and Steve McCurry.

New cruise ships for 2017 – Silver Muse

 

Silver Muse, the newest and largest addition to the prestigious Silversea fleet, launched in April 2017.

Built at the renowned Fincantieri shipyard, the Silver Muse is authentically true to the  line’s Italian heritage.

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At 40,700 tons this stunning vessel maintains the small-ship intimacy that is so characteristic of Silversea Cruises – carrying only 596 passengers in all-veranda luxury suites.

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The design of Silver Muse evolved from previous Silversea ships, with elegant interiors and fine craftsmanship remaining the priority. The palate is light and modern, with an emphasis on good taste and well-polished spaces.

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The Dolce Vita lounge is the central public area and ideal to meet friends or linger over a coffee and the newspaper.

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The Observation Lounge offers the best views on board.

Silver Muse Art Cafe

Literary institution Heywood Hill, the expert London bookshop, curates the bespoke library in the Arts Cafe along with collections in key suites.

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The Silver Muse offers an enviable range of eateries, including the ever-popular Hot Rocks where guests cook their own meat and fish over burning lava rocks.

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At over 400 square feet, even the classic veranda suites are amongst the largest at sea. Decor is refined with high-quality materials, marble bathrooms and well-planned layouts. Comfortable seating areas, full size glass doors and all the modern conveniences guests require are standard throughout. Larger suites bring expansive accommodation and greater benefits.

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The tranquil Spa and state-of the art Fitness Centre provide integrated health facilities.

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The first season brings exciting and diverse itineraries visiting a staggering 34 countries, 130 ports and 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

www.silvermuse.info

Photos courtesy of SilverSea

Best Cruises: Autumn Mediterranean

Escape the crowds with a late-season cruise.

Crystal Serenity Sorrento Mediterranean Cruise
Crystal Serenity

The Mediterranean is one of the most established and enduringly popular cruise destinations in the world. This beautiful and diverse region stretches along the shorelines of Europe, Africa and Asia – bringing together many cultures and stunning scenery.

Mediterranean Cruise Florence
Florence

Cerulean sky, turquoise sea, superb beaches, Unesco World Heritage Sites, glittering casinos, lavender scented hillsides, pristine forests and of course … the food … enticed 220 million tourists here last year

Mediterranean Cruise Petra
Petra

But such ambrosia comes at a cost – the peak summer months draw huge crowds with most Europeans vacationing during July/August and families on school holidays travelling at that time too. Ports are congested and attractions swamped. Add stifling temperatures to the most expensive rates of the year and a summer Mediterranean cruise can start to lose its appeal. Instead, consider taking an autumn sailing. It’s a great alternative for those seeking a calmer experience, more comfortable weather and cheaper prices.

Viking Sky Cruise
Viking Ocean’s Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land

Viking Ocean’s Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land voyage sets sail in October 2017 on the brand new Viking Sky. This ‘grown-up’ cruise takes passengers on a 15-day journey from Athens to Rome, visiting many ancient and intriguing sites, especially in the culturally rich Eastern Mediterranean. Naples, gateway to Pompeii, and Crete, home of the legendary Minotaur are particular highlights, as well as stops in Israel and an overnight in Haifa which puts the holiest sites within reach: Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.

Silver Wind Mediterranean Cruise
Silver Wind

Also this Autumn, Silversea sends the intimate and yacht-like Silver Wind on a 10-day voyage from Monte Carlo to Venice. This gold-standard Mediterranean cruise visits key sites with plenty of glamour, cultural gems and European romance. Helicopter tours from Monaco swoop over the dazzling Cote d’Azure, Livorno offers truffle hunting in the Tuscan countryside, private tours of The Vatican City can be booked in Rome, the ancient city of Pompeii is easily reached from Sorrento, Mount Etna beckons when stopping over in Sicily, Dubrovnik opens up the beautiful Elaphite Archipelago for exploration and a gondola serenade in Venice is the perfect ending to a wonderful Mediterranean experience.

Seven Seas Explorer Mediterranean Cruise
Seven Seas Explorer

The Regent Seven Seas Explorer raised the bar for new cruise ships when it launched in 2016. Offering ultimate luxury, impeccable service, ultra-modern technology and superb cuisine it’s a shame sea days are so few and far between when cruising the Mediterranean on this vessel. This year it travels on a Western Mediterranean odyssey from Rome to Barcelona later in the season. The 14-day trip calls at the classic cruise ports of Rome, Pisa, Monte Carlo, Sorrento and Palermo as well as visiting the gorgeous Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Corsica and the fabulous Spanish cities of Valencia and Barcelona.

Seabourn Encore Mediterranean Cruise
Seabourn Encore leaves Venice on Mediterranean Cruise

Seabourn’s Autumn Isles is perhaps the ultimate late season Mediterranean cruise. 20-days of blissful travel on the brand new and totally stunning, Seabourn Encore. Leaving from Barcelona, the trip journeys at a gentle pace to the idyllic Balearics, Corsica and Sardinia taking in ultra-glamorous stopovers in legendary St.Tropez and Monaco. Cultural visits to Rome, Florence and Amalfi add interest and the chance to tick off those ‘bucket-list’ destinations. There’s even a whole day of scenic cruising – an unexpected and rare treat on a Mediterranean cruise.

Azamara Journey Mediterranean Cruise
Azamara Journey

For a taste of the exotic, Azamara’s 17-night Route of the Frankincense follows the ancient spice traders from Europe’s oldest city, Piraeus in Greece, all the way to the futuristic Dubai. The archaeological wonders of Athens including the Acropolis, Parthenon, and Temple of Olympian Zeus are early stops before traversing the Suez Canal for an overnight in Luxor. Sailing the legendary Red Sea leads to Jordan and the chance to visit Petra, an ancient city carved into the side of the Nabateans mountain. Oman and Dubai bring the trip up to the modern day.

Crystal Serenity Venice Mediterranean Cruise
Crystal Serenity in Venice

If the Dalmatian Coast is on your ‘must-see’ list then Crystal’s Adriatic Adventure this September may prove irresistible. The 7-day round-trip on Crystal Serenity from Venice takes in Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia and Corfu for one dazzlingly beautiful day after another. Medieval towns, serene beaches, ancient ruins and, of course, the romance of grand Italian canals offer a truly unforgettable Autumnal cruise.

Spice routes Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
Spice routes of the Eastern Mediterranean

 

Photos courtesy of  Viking CruisesSilverseaRegent Seven SeasSeabournCrystal Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises

 

 

 

Best Cruises: Alaska

 

Cruise Kayaking Alaska Tongass

The 49th state is the largest in the U.S. and one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations.

Alaska Cruise Brown Bears fishing

Alaska is a true wilderness; vast, isolated, rugged and ‘it will change your life forever’ beautiful. The scale is beyond epic with towering mountains, expansive glaciers, wide flowing rivers, abundant wildlife, lush rainforest and active volcanos. For such a frontier region, where people can seem rarer than wolves and bears, it is uniquely and wonderfully accessible by cruise ship.

Cruise Alaska Map Vancouver Seward

Most cruises follow the Inside Passage – generally setting off from San Fransisco, Seattle or Vancouver to traverse this famous waterway of deep fjords lined with forest. Some venture further to the Gulf of Alaska and expedition lines access even more remote areas in smaller ships. Anchorage, Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau are common port stops and excellent gateway towns for exploring the Alaskan landscape. Helicopter tours, dog-sledding, salmon fishing, hiking glaciers, kayaking, scenic rail trips and zip-line rides are exciting add-ons to any cruise.

Siversea Silver Shadow in Alaska

Silversea sets sail from Vancouver in 2017 on the small but perfectly formed and ultra-luxurious Silver Shadow. Bound for Seward, the quaint Anchorage rail-road town, this all-suite ship is ideal for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as engaging in a diverse and well-curated enrichment programme. The seven-day trip offers a range of interesting and exciting shore excursions.

Crystal Symphony Cruise

Crystal’s Northern Wonders trip, on the world-leading Crystal Serenity, reaches Anchorage from Vancouver in seven days including scenic cruising of Glacier Bay and the Hubbard Glacier. Passengers can opt for sea-plane tours of Tongass National Forest, expert-led halibut fishing and a visit to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary.

Alaska Cruise Denali National Park

Seabourn offer extended cruises to Alaska, in particular the twenty five-day Exploration of the Last Frontier on the lovely Seabourn Sojourn which comprehensively visits all the ‘bucket-list’ Alaska sights as well as more secluded, quieter places. The Denali Experience is a four-day fully escorted trip of this majestic national park offered as an extension to any Alaska cruise.

Alaska Cruise Zodiac Glacier

Alaska is a ‘ready-made’ expedition cruise destination and Lindblad, which leaves from Seattle, has a wealth of experience in this field. Voyages tend to be on the active side, reaching further into the surrounding areas of British Columbia and magical Haida Gwaii. Three ships tour Alaska; the brand new National Geographic Quest and the sister ships National Geographic Sea Lion or Sea Bird. A a six-person team accompanies each voyage including a highly qualified expedition leader, expert naturalists, an undersea specialist, certified photo instructor and wellness specialist.

Crystal Symphony Cruise

The Alaska cruise season is short, with sailings running from May to September, and the weather is sometimes unreliable, even in summer. Passengers should prepare for rain and occasional choppy seas – excursions are sometimes a casualty of inclement conditions and can be cancelled – and take plenty of layers to keep out the glacial cold. Alaska also has thirty five species of mosquito! But don’t be put off by rough seas and bugs, a cruise of Alaska will change your life – for the better. It is an enriching and expansive experience and millions of people who describe it as ‘the best cruise of their life’ can’t be wrong.

Photos courtesy of Silversea, Crystal, Seabourn and Lindblad

Silversea- The Facts

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Intimate elite vessels with all-suite accommodation, outstanding levels of personal attention, world-class cuisine, highly desirable amenities, enrichment and fully inclusive fares. The fleet of eight ships includes two expedition vessels designed for travel to remote areas without compromising on luxury. The company is Italian-owned with deep roots in European style and heritage.

Fleet: 

Currently eight vessels with one new ship planned in 2017 and the re-design of Silver Cloud as an expedition vessel also expected in 2017.

Silver Cloud 

16,800 tonnes, 296 guests, 222 crew, last refurbishment 2013

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Silver Wind 

17,400 tonnes, 296 guests, 222 crew, last refurbishment 2013

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Silver Shadow  

28,258 tonnes, 382 guests, 302 crew, last refurbishment 2011

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Silver Whisper

28,258 tonnes, 382 guests, 302 crew, last refurbishment 2010

Silver Spirit 

36,000 tonnes, 540 guests, 376 crew, last refurbishment 2009

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Silver Explorer 

Polar expedition vessel, 6,072 tonnes, 130 guests, 117 crew, Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A), last refurbishment 2009

Silver Galapagos

Galapagos expedition vessel, 4,077 tonnes, 100 guests, 77 crew, last refurbishment 2014

 

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Silver Discoverer 

Pacific expedition vessel, 5,218 tonnes, 120 guests, 96 crew, last refurbishment 2014

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Silver Muse 

40,700 tonnes, 596 guests, 411 crew, expected build date 2017

Silver Cloud Expedition

Expedition vessel, 16,800 tonnes, 200/260 guests, 208 crew, expected re-build date 2017

Destinations

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Itineraries include all seven continents, with special exploration trips to the Polar Regions and Galapagos. Smaller ships allow access to more secluded ports.

 Staterooms

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Range of spacious, ocean-view, all-suite accommodation mostly with private veranda. All have personal butler service and Italian marble bathrooms.

 Food and Drink

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Cuisine is designed in partnership with internationally acclaimed Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux. There is open-seating dining on all vessels, a range of speciality restaurants (non-expedition ships only) drawing on world influences and 24-hour complimentary in-suite room service.

 Facilities

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A holistic approach to wellness is encouraged on board with a fully integrated offering of exercise, fitness and spa therapies. Health lectures and nutritious dining options are available to complement the fitness centre, spa and pool.

The Silver Perspectives® Enrichment Programme includes lectures from guest speakers or members of the Expedition Team, Destination Consultants to advise on shore activities, Culinary and Wine Voyages and Bridge Sailings.

Adventure and Exploration ships offer a range of specialised trips focusing on wildlife, culture, history, scenery and photography. Marine exploration is enabled by a fleet of onboard Zodiacs, scuba-diving and snorkeling. Specialists take guided land tours in small groups to access remote, sensitive areas.

 Perks

The Venetian Society is Silversea’s loyalty programme and offers voyage recognition, invitations to private parties and ship visitation privileges. There are also discounts on future sailings depending on how many days you have sailed with the company at the point of booking – 350 days sailing can earn a complimentary 7-day cruise.

 Social Responsibilty

The Maruzza Lefebvre D’Ovidio Foundation is an independent, family-run, non-profit organisation dedicated to the provision of palliative care and support for persons affected by life-threatening or life-limiting conditions and their families. Through the “One For Life” fundraising project Silversea guests can become actively involved in the Maruzza Foundation’s activities.

 

+ Impeccable service

+ Enrichment and exploration

 

Photos courtesy of Silversea Cruises