Sea Cloud Cancels Winter Caribbean & More News
by Anne Kalosh.
Sea Cloud delays until spring
Sea Cloud Cruises canceled its winter Caribbean and Central America program and plans to resume sailing with all three ships, including the new Sea Cloud Spirit, in Europe in the spring.
The Hamburg, Germany-based company explained the past months have shown that immigration regulations can shift on very short notice due to changes in COVID-19 infection rates.
“Since infection rates are continuing to rise worldwide, almost all the islands in the Caribbean still do not allow ships to enter their territory,” Sea Cloud Managing Director Daniel Schäfer said.
Uncertainties also remain about airlift, along with the classification of most of the islands in the region as risk areas by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute. The United States has still not given cruising the green light.
Travelers may transfer their deposits to voyages in the coming year or in 2022 and will get an on-board beverage credit. Or they may request a refund.
Mediterranean and Canary Islands
Sea Cloud Cruises is now concentrating on the Mediterranean and Canary Islands itineraries that are scheduled in the current 2021 brochure, starting in the spring. In case the situation hasn’t changed then, the company is also preparing an alternative program based on the current E.U. requirements for ocean voyages, for example, with departures and arrivals from the same port.
In addition, should COVID-19 still give cause for concern in 2021, new or rebooked voyages can be canceled up to six weeks prior to departure for a full refund, minus a small processing fee ($25 per person for U.S. customers, for example).
Coronavirus on Aranui 5
Ten crew members aboard the South Pacific passenger freighter Aranui 5 tested positive for COVID-19, according to news reports.
The ship, which was en route to Moorea, immediately turned back to nearby Papeete, Tahiti.
None of the 79 passengers were reported infected. Residents returned home and tourists were being repatriated. The 10 crew were taken to a dedicated quarantine facility.
Lindblad’s first Japan voyages
Lindblad Expeditions will explore Japan for the first time on two adventurous itineraries in 2021. Travelers will roam shores brimming with temples, teahouses and ancient traditions and discover a seldom-seen wild side on subtropical islands where azure waters meet verdant forests.
The itineraries provide a taste of Taiwan and Korea, too.
“Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties and Modern Culture” will examine the country’s riveting history, from the historic castle towns of the Edo period to the elegant shrines and merchant districts of the Meiji era to poignant World War II sites. Travelers will trace the shores of Honshu and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, venture into the homes of samurai and feudal lords and discover exquisite centuries-old gardens.
They may find inspiration on the art-filled island of Naoshima, and visit museums and studios dedicated to artists and traditional handicrafts in Matsue and on Shikoku. A day in South Korea will be spent exploring the rich cultural legacy of Korea’s Silla Dynasty among the incredible ancient ruins of Gyeongju.
This 14-night trip departs Sept. 15, 2021, with rates starting at $20,800 per person, double occupancy.
Island hop from Japan to Taiwan
On “Sailing the East China Sea: Japan, Okinawa And Taiwan,” Lindblad travelers will island hop from Japan to Taiwan, experiencing a wide array of natural wonders, historic sites and cultural treasures. They’ll have the chance to visit some of Japan’s most cherished sites, from Himeji Castle and the historic merchant towns of Ozu and Uchiko to the “floating” torii gate at Miyajima. Art-filled Naoshima is on this itinerary, too.
Plus, travelers can visit culinary hub of Shodoshima, snorkel the coral reefs of Kerama Island and venture into the mangrove forests of the Yaeyama Islands by Zodiac or kayak. They’ll have the chance to hike among ancient cedar trees in Yakushima’s rain forest and marvel at the incredible hoodoo spires in Taiwan’s Yehliu Geopark.
This trip, 13 nights, departs Sept. 28, 2021. Rates begin at $19,320.
The 102-passenger National Geographic Orion will operate both itineraries.
Barging through Europe
Abercrombie & Kent said it has curated the best vessels for a private holiday with family and friends along Europe’s waterways, with up to 20 percent savings.
As travelers plan 2021 holidays, A&K said many are looking to combine privacy, freedom and flexibility. A chartered barge in Europe checks all the boxes.
“Barge cruising encompasses so much of what we’ve learned to appreciate over the last few months at home. It’s all about traveling at a slower pace to immerse yourself in one region, and spending time outside — biking along picturesque towpaths, strolling through uncrowded local villages or simply watching the passing scenery from a cozy deck chair,” said Liam Dunch, A&K product manager, Europe.
A highlight, he added, is “relaxing as a private chef prepares farm-to-table meals with the freshest ingredients from local markets, served alfresco on deck.”
By privately chartering a barge, family and friends have exclusive use of the vessel. A&K’s 2021 portfolio features what it said are more than 30 of the most coveted barges on the waterways of Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Alsace-Lorraine, the south of France, Champagne, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, England, Scotland and Ireland.
Starting at $3,438 per person
Travelers can save up to 20 percent on select 2021 charters when booked by Oct. 31, 2020.
What’s the price? Seven-day/six-night charters begin at $3,438 per person and include gourmet meals, all beverages, guided sightseeing and entry fees. Each vessel’s cabins have en-suite facilities. Many offer spacious lounges and sun decks for alfresco dining.
Some examples: For Le Phénicien, traveling on the Canal du Rhône à Sète and Rhône River, a weeklong charter starts at $61,890 for up to 18 travelers, with 20 percent savings in 2021. A week on La Bella Vita in the Po Valley and Venetian Lagoon is priced from $75,500 per charter for up to 20 people, with 10 percent off charters from April to August.
Scottish Highlander on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness can carry up to eight passengers, and a weeklong charter starts at $35,500. And Magna Carta on the Thames River is priced starting at $36,000 for a week, for up to eight people. Both barges offer 10 percent off the charter price in April and May.
Travelers who book any A&K canal barge cruise by Dec. 31, 2020, have the flexibility to change plans up to 30 days prior to departure in the event of a COVID-19-related reason, at home or in the destination, and receive a credit toward future travel.
Crystal turnover at the top
Longtime cruise industry executive Jack Anderson stepped in as interim president and CEO at Crystal.
This came as Tom Wolber, at the helm since September 2017, completed his three-year contract with the company.
Crystal said Wolber plans to spend time with his family and pursue other interests.
His expertise in ship operations and construction have been a guiding force in the expansion of Crystal experiences that now include four new river vessels and the brand’s first expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor. (It had been due in 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic until 2021.)
Anderson’s Crystal history runs deep
Since 2017, Anderson has overseen Crystal’s commercial efforts, serving as adviser to Wolber. Previously he was vice chairman and, before that, senior vice president, marketing and sales.
“Jack’s history with Crystal runs deep; with nearly a decade of senior leadership and executive consultant roles at the company — combined with his 30-plus years of cruise industry experience — he possesses a profound knowledge of the Crystal brand and the luxury cruise market,” according to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, CEO and chairman of Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong. “He is uniquely suited to step into this role during this pivotal time in travel, ensuring a seamless transition.”
Earlier, Anderson held senior positions at Seabourn, Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises, and he was senior vice president of marketing for Carnival Corp. & plc.
“We are grateful to Tom for his dedicated leadership, the successful introduction of our river ships and expanding Crystal into the expedition market, while maintaining Crystal’s commitment to an award-winning luxury experience,” Lim added.
Atlas bundles in emergency evacuation insurance
New “luxe-adventure” brand Atlas Ocean Voyages is including emergency evacuation and return-to-home insurance for all travelers.
“Because safety and the health of our guests is our top priority, we are proud to be the first cruise brand to include emergency medical evacuation and return-to-home insurance as part of every booking,” said Alberto Aliberti, president of Atlas Ocean Voyages. He added this will give travelers peace of mind when exploring far-flung destinations.
The insurance covers emergency medical transportation from the ship to a local treatment center, as well as return transportation home or to a medical facility close to home, as required.
The first Atlas ship, World Navigator, is scheduled to debut in July 2021. Its inaugural program includes seven- to 24-night cruises in the Holy Land, Black Sea and Mediterranean in the summer, followed by nine- to 13-night cruises in the Caribbean, South America and Antarctica in late 2021/22.
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