Christenings & River Cruises: The Fun Begins

Our Man In Amsterdam

Aaron Saunders was in Amsterdam last week, reporting on two christenings, Viking's new armada of Longships and Uniworld's elegant S.S. Maria Theresa. I'll be sailing on board Uniworld's newest ship in May, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out these beautiful vessels in this week's stories from Amsterdam. — Ralph Grizzle

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In Pictures: Christening Uniworld's S.S. Maria Theresa

In Pictures: Christening Uniworld's S.S. Maria Theresa

A Firsthand Look at Uniworld's New S.S. Maria Theresa

It’s been a busy week of river cruising here in Amsterdam, and we’re still very much playing catch-up. But even as I write this at 2:44 a.m. in the morning, I have to skip ahead a bit to show you one of the most striking ships on the waterways of Europe: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collections S.S. Maria Theresa.

The brand-new 443-foot long ship was christened this morning in an understated ceremony at the Port of Amsterdam, and we were on-hand to experience both the festivities and the S.S. Maria Theresa herself. Capable of carrying 150 guests and a staff of 37, Uniworld’s latest-and greatest is as much a floating work of art as it is a river cruise ship.

Believe it or not, after years of writing about the line this is the very first Uniworld ship I’ve physically stepped on board. With an all-inclusive product, I have certain elevated expectations, and Uniworld has not only met but exceeded them: luggage was brought to my Category 2 Stateroom on Deck 3 promptly, and my cabin stewardess explained the myriad of electronic doodads in the stateroom to me. 

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Viking Longships 2015 Christening: Day 2

Viking Longships 2015 Christening: Day 2

Viking River Cruises Christens 12 New Ships in Amsterdam

After a morning of touring the beautiful Dutch city of Haarlem, guests returned to Viking River Cruises Viking Skirnir, where the red carpet had been rolled out at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam for the big event: the christening of 12 brand-new vessels for Viking.

Of those 12, 10 are Viking Longships. The last two – Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla – are “Longship-esque” ships that have been designed specifically for the ultra-shallow Elbe River. To that end, the engineers at the Neptun-Werft yards in Rostock, Germany have performed a maritime hat-trick, creating vessels with just 0.8 metres of draft (hull below the waterline), powered by state-of-the-art pump jets in place of the more traditional propeller-drive propulsion systems.

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7 Days Of All-Inclusive Barging, Plus Three Hotel Nights & Tours, $3,995 Per Person

Ready to go barging with our group of intrepid travelers? We have a great trip planned — a really great trip — and at a great price, $3,995 per person, double occupancy.

You'll need to contact me directly to get this price, and it's easiest to do so by using this link

Here's what is included:

• Six nights/Seven days of all-inclusive barging from Arles to Sete*

• Tours included everyday of the barge trip.

• PLUS two pre-hotel nights in a five-star hotel in Arles, including breakfast**

• PLUS one post-hotel night in a four-star hotel in Montpelier, including breakfast**

• PLUS three additional exclusive tours: Avignon, Pont du Gard & Chateauneuf du Pape, Sete Gourmet Markets Tour & Montpelier Tour

• For only $3,995  per person

* Transfers to Arles at the beginning of the trip and from Montpelier at the end of the trip are not included ** Note that a few lunches and dinners are not included for the pre/post days

I believe this trip offers an exceptional value. Barge trips nearly always start at more than $4,000 per person. And those are the beginning prices for the barge portion only. We're adding three extra nights at four- and five-star hotels, plus we're also adding special tours. All for $3,995 per person. CroisiEurope's price for the barge cruise alone is $2,824.

You'll find all of the details of the trip here.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you'd like to book space by contacting me through the form at this link.

I'm excited about taking you along and showing you some of my favorite places in one of my favorite regions of the world - and via a mode of travel that I think you'll find particularly appealing, barging.

Bon voyage, Ralph Grizzle

Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise

In this free special report, I’ve put together a half dozen actionable items that can make the difference between cruise vacations that are memorable and others that fail to measure up to all you had hoped they would be. I’ve cruised on hundreds of ships, as a solo traveler and with family and friends.  — Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser

Click to download the report.

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Complete this thought: My best packing trip for cruises is ... click here to answer.

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