Small-Ship Cruises Restart Down Under
By Anne Kalosh.
Two small ships are venturing out in Australia and New Zealand.
Coral Expeditions resumed weeklong Great Barrier Reef cruises from Cairns, Australia. This first service since the COVID-19 lockdown came after months of preparations, including the development of SailSAFE protocols in conjunction with health emergency specialist Respond Global.
Coral Expeditions’ Australian-flag status, small Australian passenger count and an Australian crew were critical to getting the green light, Seatrade Cruise News reports.
“We hope that our successful return to operations gives confidence to travelers and authorities that small-ship expedition cruising with a local operator is a logical and prudent point of a restart for the marine expedition industry,” said Mark Fifield, group general manager, Coral Expeditions.
Kiwi Cruising for Kiwis
Meanwhile, New Zealand cruises are getting going in a similar small-ship, domestic fashion. The family-run, New Zealand-owned Heritage Expeditions has been authorized to sail its 50-passenger Spirit of Enderby, carrying only Kiwis for now.
The first voyage is planned to embark at the port of Bluff in southern New Zealand on Nov. 24 and will visit Stewart Island and explore Fiordland, according to Seatrade Cruise News.
AmaWaterways Suspends Balance of 2020 Cruises
AmaWaterways suspended its remaining 2020 river cruise season, including all regularly scheduled departures in Europe, Asia and Africa. This suspension does not apply to the Rhine charter program on AmaKristina that has been operating since July, carrying mostly Germans.
Impacted travelers will receive a 115 percent future cruise credit that can be used through 2022.
AmaWaterways President and Co-Founder Rudi Schreiner characterized the situation in Europe as “a little chaotic,” with COVID-19 cases “increasing heavily” and countries adopting a patchwork of travel regulations. Cases were up in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, and Hungary is closed — allowing river vessels to transit but not to disembark, Schreiner said. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague all had new restrictions.
Strong 2021 bookings
In 2021, AmaWaterways will introduce two new vessels to the Rhine and five new itineraries and land programs throughout Europe. After an absence of some years, the line returns to Egypt with a new Nile boat, AmaDahlia.
France is in demand so AmaKristina will shift to the Rhône, joining AmaCello on the Saône as AmaDante moves to the Seine.
Booking trends are strong for 2021, starting in the summer, and Christmas markets cruises are especially popular, according to Schreiner. Also in demand: Portugal’s Douro River and Ama’s new Egypt program.
Seabourn Venture’s Winter Norway Debut
Seabourn’s first purpose-built expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, is scheduled to debut in December 2021 on an unusual winter Norway program.
The ship will sail a series of 10- to 14-day voyages through April 2022, giving travelers the opportunity to explore the snow-draped landscape, learn about Viking history and culture and search for the northern lights.
Included and optional expedition activities include skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and dog and reindeer sledding. There will be dedicated excursions in search of the northern lights, including overnight camping at optimal viewing locations.
All sailings will offer a complimentary Seabourn Signature Evening Event: a concert in the Northern Lights Cathedral at Alta.
The 264-passenger Seabourn Venture will carry two six-seat custom submarines, expedition kayaks and 24 Zodiacs. All travelers will receive custom-designed gear by Norwegian outdoor apparel company Helly Hansen and a waterproof WaterShield backpack.
The inaugural 12-day voyage from Greenwich, England, to Tromsø, Norway, on Dec. 11, 2021, is sold out.
Following that, on Dec. 23, is a 14-day holiday sailing from Tromsø to Copenhagen, Denmark.
A series of 12-day voyages between Tromsø and Copenhagen will call at destinations like the Art Nouveau town of Ålesund, the fishing village of Svolvær in the towering Lofoten Islands and Narvik, with its War Museum and Sami reindeer herder culture. Alta is a prime place to view the northern lights, and Honningsvåg serves as the gateway to the North Cape.
The season ends with a 10-day Norwegian spring cruise round-trip Tromsø on April 24.
Star Clipper to Leave Asia in 2022
Star Clippers’ namesake vessel, Star Clipper, will return to the Mediterranean for the 2022 season, joining Royal Clipper and Star Flyer. This will mark the first time since 2016 that all three tall ships sail together in the Mediterranean.
Star Clipper, currently based in Southeast Asia, will complete the 2021/22 season in Thailand before heading out.
En route back to Europe, it will depart Safaga, Egypt, in April 2022, sailing though the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.
Once there, Star Clipper will offer a variety of itineraries from May through October, including “Yachtman’s Paradise,” a seven-night sailing between Istanbul and Piraeus (Athens) along with round-trips from Civitavecchia (Rome) and Cannes, France.
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Before then, Star Clippers’ 2021/22 Caribbean season will consist of 32 weeklong sailings from Barbados and St. Maarten on Royal Clipper and Star Flyer.
Rates for the U.S. market start at $1,310 per person, single occupancy, and Americans who book by Oct. 31 this year will get a one-cabin upgrade and prepaid gratuities.
Star Clippers charts its routes to sail under wind power as much as possible — up to 80 percent of the time in the Caribbean.
The 170-passenger Star Clipper and Star Flyer are traditional clipper ships with modern amenities, and the 227-passenger Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record as the largest and only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship in service today.
Travelers interested in learning their way around a tall ship can assist the crew with hoisting and setting sail, bracing, folding and knot tying. They may also climb the mast to the crow’s nest, some 100 feet above the water, for a spine-tingling view.
All three vessels have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, piano lounges and convivial open-deck tropical bars. Water sports activities abound.
American Melody Emerges
American Melody, the fourth new vessel in American Cruise Lines’ modern riverboat series, is progressing at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland.
The forward section emerged from the hull fabrication building at the yard and was moved atop a heavy-lift system to the launch ways where it will be joined to the aft section and launched into the Wicomico River.
American Cruise Lines said American Melody is on schedule to start Mississippi River service next year.
Just two months ago, the company took delivery of modern riverboat American Jazz, also for the Mississippi. It’s positioned in New Orleans, ready to begin sailing when public health officials give the OK.
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