New Small-Ship Cruise Itineraries.
By Anne Kalosh.
To show the range and diversity of small ship styles and destinations, QuirkyCruise.com selected four companies that have recently announced new or improved itineraries.
One line provides an authentic, deep wilderness experience in the Amazon in just four days. Another has introduced new Central and Eastern Europe river routes and shore excursions designed for younger travelers, or hipsters at heart.
A venerable tall-ship operator has just announced the inaugural season for its new windjammer, which will unfurl its sails in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. And a chic yacht line is charting Israel for the first time, along with a handful of new Mediterranean ports.
Enhanced Short Amazon Adventure with Amazon Nature Tours
Brazil has just eliminated a major hassle and an extra expense for travelers by doing away with tourist visas for citizens of the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. Yay! Stays of up to 90 days are allowed, with the possibility to extend up to 180 days.
Hoping this will encourage more travelers to visit Brazil, Amazon Nature Tours introduced new “Into the Wild” four-day sailings. These are an enhancement of its previous shorter cruises, going deeper and giving travelers a greater opportunity to explore the dense forests and small tributaries within the Central Amazon Conservation Complex, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
Remote Río Negro
While other lines sail the Peruvian Amazon or offer day trips on the Brazil side, Amazon Nature Tours goes far into the Brazilian rain forest and plies the least inhabited major river, the Río Negro. These expedition cruises are led by trained naturalists and include kayak and launch excursions into the “flooded forests,” hikes, visits to native villages, fishing for piranhas and outings to the beach.
In just four days travelers can explore the Anavilhanas Archipelago, a reserve that contains the world’s largest system of river islands and areas of tall, dense rain forest called the igapó, trees growing from the dark water of the Río Negro.
Another phenomenon, Encontra das Aguas, is a line stretching several miles where the Amazon and Río Negro meet in a turbulent maelstrom. There, the dark water of the Negro runs beside the opaque brown water of the Amazon.
Sailing round-trip Manaus, Tucano is an 18-passenger motor yacht that has been completely refitted to make it one of the most sustainable vessels in the region. A significant portion of the energy used on board is generated by solar panels, and plastic has been eliminated.
While the four-day sailings explore more of the region than before, the price is unchanged, with rates starting at $1,750. A six-day program is available for people with more time.
U River Cruises
Uniworld’s U River Cruises — formerly U by Uniworld — outlined new three itineraries starting in April 2020 and the return of The B after its 2019 Seine program was canceled.
U was conceived as the first river cruise line for millennials, ages 18 to 40. But when the distinctively black-hulled, 120-passenger vessels The A and The B began sailing in 2018, trips were opened to all ages. Still, U retains a much more youthful vibe than other river lines, with activities like a silent disco, mixology classes, paint and wine gatherings, and rooftop camping.
U’s seven-night cruises will visit cities such as Vienna, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Salzburg, Bratislava and lesser-known destinations. New offerings include added overnight stays, complimentary daily happy hour and additional active excursions.
The A will sail the new “Vienna Vibe” and “Eastern Europe Escapes” itineraries, while The B will operate “Amsterdam & Brussels Bound” and an updated “Rolling on the Rhine” itinerary. Sailings can be combined without repeating ports.
Amsterdam & Brussels Bound
The B’s new small-ship cruise itinerary between Amsterdam and Brussels visits Rotterdam, Middelburg, Ghent and Antwerp. In Brussels, tour participants can learn how Belgian chocolates are made while in Antwerp, U’s local guide will show the best local breweries, bars and hot spots.
This sailing between Nuremberg and Vienna stops at Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk and Krems. A hipster tour of Munich via a nine-seater Bulli visits shops, eateries and bars, and at one of Vienna’s most famous dance schools, travelers can learn the Viennese waltz.
Rolling on the Rhine
This improved cruise sails between Amsterdam and Frankurt, visiting Hoorn, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Koblenz and Rudesheim. New excursions include a nighttime “Crime Cruise” hosted by a local guide and police officer and “Game of Wines,” the ultimate tour for “Game of Thrones” fans, which includes a visit to The Abbey Eberbach, where the hit TV show was filmed, for a Riesling wine tasting.
Eastern Europe Escape
This cruise visits popular and lesser-known destinations on a cruise between Vienna and Belgrade. Stops include Bratislava, Budapest, Mohacs and Novi Sad. In Vienna, one tour starts at a coffee shop to fuel up before heading to the boutiques and eateries in the trendy 7th district.
Sea Cloud Spirit Inaugural Season
One of the few lines that gives the chance to experience true sailing, windjammer style, is Sea Cloud Cruises. Its new Sea Cloud Spirit is set to debut in late summer 2020 with voyages in the Mediterranean, followed by a trans-Atlantic crossing and then Caribbean adventures including a first for Sea Cloud, the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The preview brochure for Sea Cloud Spirit has just been posted. Travelers can pre-register for sailings from August to December 2020; actual bookings open later this year.
Sea Cloud Spirit will have an impressive 4,000 square meters/43,056 square feet of sails. The vessel resembles windjammer sisters Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II in providing an elegant decor combined with a classic, yacht-style feel.
New features include a generous number of cabins with balconies, a gym with panoramic views, spa/wellness area and the choice of an elegant menu in the restaurant or a relaxed dinner in the bistro on the lido deck. In an unusual twist for a sailing vessel, an elevator will connect the five decks.
Maiden Voyage From Lisbon
New small-ship cruise itineraries for the new Sea Cloud Spirit start with its maiden voyage, from Lisbon to Civitavecchia (Rome), on Aug. 29-Sept. 11, 2020. Viewing a classic regatta will take place on the Civitavecchia to Nice voyage, Sept. 28-Oct. 8. Sprinkled throughout are several shorter cruises: round-trip Naples (Sept. 18-22 and Oct. 8-12) and round-trip Las Palmas (Nov. 5-9).
Or imagine going trans-Atlantic, sailing with the trade winds under full sails for 14 days. This crossing from Las Palmas to St. Maarten embarks Nov. 9.
New Caribbean Destination
Three new Caribbean itineraries for Sea Cloud visit the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time: Nov. 24 to Dec. 4, Dec. 4-13 and Dec. 13-20.
SeaDream — First Israel Stops and New Ports
SeaDream Yacht Club, which fields the chic, 112-passenger twin yachts SeaDream I and Sea Dream II (and is building a polar-class expedition vessel, SeaDream Innovation) spiced up its 2021 Mediterranean season with a new small-ship cruise itinerary destination: Israel.
The ports to be visited there are Ashdod and Haifa. Ashdod gives easy access to cosmopolitan Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the holy city, while the Bahá’í Gardens (also known as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa) are a highlight of Haifa.
SeaDream II will cruise to Israel from Piraeus (Athens), on an 11-night voyage that also visits Cyprus and Turkey.
Other New Ports, Overnight Calls
During their 2021 Mediterranean season SeaDream I and SeaDream II will also frequent yacht harbors of the French and Italian rivieras, Greek Isles and the Spanish coast. Besides Ashdod and Haifa, new ports include Ksamil, Albania; Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, France; Otranto, Italy; and Agios Nikolaus, Greece.
More Eastern Mediterranean
To meet rising demand for Greece, the twin yachts will spend more time than ever before in the Aegean.
All of SeaDream’s 2021 Mediterranean itineraries include at least one overnight in port.
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