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Think Outside of the Box With These Immersive Cruises



When you envision a cruise, you may picture a gigantic moving village stuffed with pools, ice-rinks, people and buffets that makes pit stops at beaches and tourist-ridden areas. These new cruises will make you think again. They’re designed for people who want to go deeper into a specific topic, who want to fully immerse themselves in a historical discussion and who want to embrace the performing arts beyond a second-tier Broadway show.

Celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday in Europe

Take a Ponant cruise through northern Europe from Sept 7-17 along with Michael Parloff, the former principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Along the way, listen to concerts by chamber musicians performing Beethoven while taking the time to stop at some of the top museums throughout Europe.

Let’s Talk World Affairs in the Baltic

From Aug. 5-13, take a Ponant cruise hosted by the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Admiral James Stavridis, along with the former ambassador to Russia, and the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, William Burns. You’ll start in Stockholm and end in Copenhagen, making stops in St. Petersburg and Helsinki and Estonia, all while learning about the rich history there dating back to the Vikings. Be ready for some intense conversations.

Go Into the Water in California

National Geographic Expeditions will take you on an eight-day cruise throughout California accompanied by naturalists and regional specialists so you can learn about wildlife, landscape and culture. Greg Marshall, a marine biologist and filmmaker, plus Tierney Thys, a marine biologist, will teach you about the gray whales as you meet them up close.

Golf Above and On the Water

Amadeus, river cruise, ship
The MS AMADEUS Provence on the Rhone River. (photo via Amadeus River Cruises)

Amadeus River Cruises created a cruise specifically for those who want to golf in the best spots on earth. You’ll start in Paris, traveling to Normandy and back, stopping at four courses along the way including Le Golf National southwest of Paris, Golf Hotel de Saint-Saens between Rouen and Dieppe, Etretat Golf Club above the cliffs of Etretat and Du Vaudreuil Golf Club in the Seine loop in Normandy.

You’ll have guaranteed tee times, shared golf carts, green fees covered and ship crew assistance with your golf bags. Onboard, you’ll have tips and help from an experienced golf expert.

Take an Opera Voyage

Le pont de la piscine du Silver Spirit
PHOTO: Silver Spirit. (Photo via Silversea)

Silversea is taking cruisers on opera voyages in partnership with Accademia Teatro alla Scala. You’ll float along the water from Barcelona to Athens aboard the Silver Spirit while listening to performances by soloists from the most famous opera houses of the world. When they’re not singing, the soloists will be giving lectures, Q&A sessions and will be mingling with guests during a signature cocktail party. We’re already counting down the days until the 12-day October 17th cruise departs from Barcelona.

Immerse Yourself in the Civil War

American Constitution
PHOTO: American Constitution (photo courtesy American Cruise Lines)

On American Cruise Lines, you’ll travel through the Lower Mississippi stopping in Oak Alley and Natchez with a historian who will take you through the National Military Park and other historic sites. He will explain the campaign, siege and defense of the city, as you get an insider look at plantations, antebellum homes and more. This is the true full immersion experience.

Become an Expert in Japanese Culture

Take a voyage on Le Soleal, and you’ll meet privately with the Abbot of Kofukuji Temple in Nagasaki, you’ll take a cooking class to learn how to cut and plate the pufferfish and you’ll travel with a professor of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London; the former executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden; and an expert in historic and Japanese gardens.

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AmaWaterways’ Rudi Schreiner Optimistic About River Cruising’s Rebound



AmaWaterways President and Co-Founder Rudi Schreiner is optimistic that the river cruise industry will rebound once the coronavirus outbreak dissipates.

“Once everything is over people often forget quickly,” he told TravelPulse. “There will be pent-up demand, but the question now is when does it start up again?”

AmaWaterways has suspended river cruise operations until May 31 but is protecting travel agent commissions on canceled departures and paying 10 percent again when the agents’ clients rebook using future cruise credits (valued at 115 percent of the initial payments). That commitment is valued, especially since this is one of the direst situations in memory for travel.

“This is for sure one of the most severe situations we’ve ever had,” Schreiner said. “It is worse than 9/11 and worse than some of the terrorist attacks.”

For river cruising, this situation is worse than 9/11 because that attack occurred in September when most of the river cruise season was over – not at the beginning of the season like it is now.

“So, 9/11 was huge but didn’t affect European river cruising as strongly,” he said. “The most intense time for us personally was the first two weeks of March this year. Ships were ready, crews were onboard, provisions were ready” and then the virus spread across parts of Europe. The season was suspended.

“Once that was done, you at least had a clear picture ahead of you,” Schreiner said.

That doesn’t mean work is over for the time being. Schreiner is working out of his home in Westlake Village, Calif., and “right now we are busy on daily conference calls with the management team, individual calls with departments and so on. It’s very busy, and it’s getting organized, sorting through the whole thing. If we don’t cruise this entire season, we’ll make it through.”

That’s because Schreiner said AmaWaterways’ 25 ships are all paid off and funding in place will carry the company through.

“My worst-case scenario over the last 6-7 years, when our fleet became bigger, was because of such extreme low water we cannot cruise for a season,” he said. “In 2018, we had low water through the whole season. If it would get to an extreme level and we couldn’t cruise for a season, that’s why I always wanted to be as debt-free as possible. For many, many years, every penny we made went back into the company and our last 12 ships were completely paid in cash. Now everything is paid off.”

The company also is focused on its staff members. “We’re trying to maintain pretty much all our staff in our offices in Calabasas (Calif.), Dallas, Basel (Switzerland), and London,” Schreiner said. But European nations often operate differently. In Switzerland, for example, the government wants people to continue working and will pay 80 percent of the workers’ salaries, he explained.

When river cruise does rebound, it likely won’t get the same kind of fear that ocean companies are likely to face – such as being quarantined or turned away from countries. River ships are always close to land and don’t sail in international waters, so can’t be turned away from a country.

“On the river, you’re always within a country, you’re not coming from international waters,” he said. “It’s a different environment. Small-ship cruising will continue, and expedition cruising will continue. Ocean cruising may take longer, but I think it will also come back.”

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