By Bob Hoelscher
On the heels of unveiling more Suite Ships and itineraries in Europe, a new ship in Southeast Asia and the Avalon Choice program, Avalon Waterways has announced the availability of more new experiences for its guests in 2013, this time on the Mississippi River in the United States aboard the Victorian-style paddle-wheel steamboat American Queen. Next year, Avalon travelers can experience two American Queen itineraries: the 12-day “America’s Heartland: From Music City to the Big Easy” and the 11-day “Fall Foliage Spectacular: From the Windy City to the Twin Cities.”
Onboard and off the vessel, guests will be accompanied by an Avalon tour director, who will assist with special land excursions, including a visit to Chef Regina Charboneau’s home for Southern drinks and light fare in Natchez, Mississippi. Reflecting the inclusive nature of Avalon’s European river cruises, American Queen offers travelers nonsmoking interiors, outside staterooms, complimentary shore excursions, wine and beer with dinner, onboard entertainment, plus a Culture and Cruise program. Avalon is the first major European river cruise operator to partner with American Queen.
Wind Star, one of three sailing yachts in Windstar Cruises’ fleet, has recently completed a stem-to-stern refurbishing as part of an $18 million fleetwide renovation.
While en route on August 19 to Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, Holland America Line’s Volendam rescued 70 persons from a disabled sightseeing boat, the 79-foot Baranof Wind, which struck a rock near Russell Island, disabling its steering and propulsion and causing the boat to take on water.
Scenic Cruises has expanded its France River Cruising program for 2013 with the addition of a 14-night cruise from Amsterdam to Nice. This sailing combines the line’s seven-night Amsterdam-to-Basel itinerary with a new seven-night Chalon-sur-Saône-to-Arles segment.
On August 28, Princess Cruises marked the beginning of construction of the second of its new generation of ships with the official keel-laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At the same time, the line announced that the ship’s name will be Regal Princess.
Celebrity Cruises is celebrating its winning of 11 Travel Weekly Gold Magellan Awards and seven Silver Magellan Awards, more than any other cruise line this year. Sister company Royal Caribbean International won 15 Magellan Awards, 10 of which were gold.
In an industry first, Crystal Cruises has unveiled the world’s first self-contained, freestanding living wall at sea aboard Crystal Symphony. Designed for an al fresco area in the ship’s Trident Grill, the 37.7-foot-long living wall uses a diverse selection of indoor plants to display a world map.
Baseball fans can again cruise with baseball legends that represent leading teams on select 2013 Caribbean sailings of MSC Poesia. Guests can interact with former major league baseball stars on several “Baseball Greats” theme cruises. This is the ninth year that MSC Cruises has hosted the popular programs with a changing lineup of players.
On September 22, Disney Magic arrived in Galveston, kicking off Disney Cruise Line’s inaugural season sailing from the Texas port city. To salute its arrival to the Lone Star State, Disney Magic’s funnel sported a Texas-size cowboy hat.
From caroling along cobblestone streets of Europe to sipping seasonal hot spiced wine, AmaWaterways is lighting up the Rhine and Danube rivers this holiday season with “Christmas Time” cruises across seven countries on five ships that are scheduled to visit over a dozen Christmas markets.
American Cruise Lines has announced a new partnership with Smithsonian magazine as the exclusive sponsor of the publication’s annual photo contest. Over the past 10 years, Smithsonian has received more than 235,000 photographs from more than 90 countries around the world.