Cruise Reviews, Ship Reviews by The Avid Cruiser http://www.avidcruiser.com helping you make informed vacation decisions through cruise reviews, ship reviews and destination reviews, personal, passionate, informed and inspired Tue, 02 Sep 2014 05:15:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The ‘Extended’ Version: Helsingborg, The ‘Real Sweden’ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/09/02/extended-version-helsingborg-real-sweden/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/09/02/extended-version-helsingborg-real-sweden/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 23:00:33 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41130 As of this writing, more than 25,000 of you have enjoyed watching our video featuring Helsingborg, Sweden, on both Youtube and Blip.tv. With a run time of nearly 11 minutes, our video is a long one by today’s short-attention-span standards. Now, however, we have an even longer version (running nearly 16 minutes), with a few... [Read More]

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As of this writing, more than 25,000 of you have enjoyed watching our video featuring Helsingborg, Sweden, on both Youtube and Blip.tv. With a run time of nearly 11 minutes, our video is a long one by today’s short-attention-span standards.

Now, however, we have an even longer version (running nearly 16 minutes), with a few new attractions featured that were not included in the original video.

In the extended version of our Helsingborg video, we visit the impressive Örenäs Castle; we trek through sublime Söderåsen National Park; we cycle the island of Ven (where astronomer Tycho Brahe studied the stars); and we step into a creepy section of the Landeskrona Citadel.

So if, like me, you just can’t get enough of this beautiful region, check out the extended version of our Helsingborg video in the player embedded in this post. If you have trouble viewing via the player, check out the video on Vimeo at this link.

In the original video we hit the highlights of South Sweden’s Skåne, from Helsingborg’s city center, with its beautiful North Harbor and Sweden’s oldest pedestrian shopping street; to the open-air museum Fredriksdal, larger than Stockholm’s Skansen; to the gardens (named Europe’s most beautiful) and palace Sofiero; and on to Mölle, the birthplace of Swedish sin.

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Three Tips To Help You Know When To Book Your River Cruise http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/09/01/tips-tricks-book-river-cruise/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/09/01/tips-tricks-book-river-cruise/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:12:11 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41137 When it comes to planning a holiday, booking a river cruise is an entirely different process than booking a hotel or even a traditional oceangoing cruise. Here are three tips to help you know when to book your river cruise for the best values — and least chance of disappointment. 1. You can book a... [Read More]

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There’s no time like now to begin planning your river cruise holiday.

When it comes to planning a holiday, booking a river cruise is an entirely different process than booking a hotel or even a traditional oceangoing cruise. Here are three tips to help you know when to book your river cruise for the best values — and least chance of disappointment.

1. You can book a river cruise last-minute. Despite what many river cruise lines would have you believe, they’re not entirely sold out – but they are pretty darn close to it, and waiting won’t necessarily net you the kind of discounts that more traditional ocean cruises might.

As of today’s post, Viking River Cruises still has space on its September 5 Romantic Danube sailing from Nuremberg to Budapest aboard Viking Rinda in a Category BB Veranda Stateroom. That will set you back $4,256 per person, but arranging airfare to Europe at this late stage is a tad more complicated (not to mention more costly) than those last-minute flights to Miami for a cheap Caribbean cruise.

The same run shows more availability for October and early November, but December – at the height of Europe’s famous Christmas Markets – is almost completely sold out.

When it comes to river cruising, booking earlier won’t necessarily get you a better price (though it could), but it will give you more choice.

2. Plan seven to eight months in advance. Doing so allows you to pick the sailing you want, in the stateroom category you want. River cruises are a unique beast in that the cheapest and most expensive accommodation choices tend to go first. Looking to travel economically? Snap up one of the few river-view staterooms before they’re gone, as most vessels only have half a dozen of these economically priced rooms onboard.

The same holds true if you’re in the market for a taste of the good life: Viking’s massive Explorer Suites are some of the first to go, and its Veranda Suites aren’t far behind in terms of selling out.

Booking your river cruise early also allows you to get better pricing on flights. In most cases, international flights only get more expensive as the plane fills, and the best connection choices can often double in price the closer you get to departure. Waiting until the last minute to book a river cruise doesn’t really work because of the international airfare involved; even if the cruise was a deal, the increased air cost would likely wipe those savings out.

Uniworld's River Baroness sails between Paris and the coast of Normandy. Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

Uniworld is offering some fabulous incentives for river cruisers who book and pay for their 2015 river cruise in full at the time of booking. Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

3. Look for incentives. Some lines offer incentives to book early. Uniworld Boutique Cruise Collection, for example, is already offering savings on 2015 sailings for guests who pay in full at the time of booking, as well as to those who put down a deposit on a 2015 sailing at the time of booking.

Above all else, booking early can eliminate stress. Travel is an expensive undertaking, and not something that should be rushed into. Booking early allows you to pick the itinerary you want, in the stateroom you want, and still have adequate time to source good flights and hotels, not to mention any other activities you want to do while abroad.

Read more about river cruising on our sister site, River Cruise Advisor.

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Eight Videos: Cruising Portugal’s Douro River http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/09/01/eight-videos-cruising-portugals-douro-river/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/09/01/eight-videos-cruising-portugals-douro-river/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:44:45 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41124 I’ve just posted eight videos that highlight our recent voyage along Portugal’s Douro River with AmaWaterways. The journey, back in July, was one of the more interesting river cruises I have experienced. The region was beautiful, the Portuguese were extremely warm and welcoming (both those who worked on the ship and the people we encountered... [Read More]

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I’ve just posted eight videos that highlight our recent voyage along Portugal’s Douro River with AmaWaterways. The journey, back in July, was one of the more interesting river cruises I have experienced. The region was beautiful, the Portuguese were extremely warm and welcoming (both those who worked on the ship and the people we encountered ashore), and the food and wine – priceless. Highly recommended.

Check out the videos for the flavor of the voyage. If you have trouble viewing via the embedded browser, you can view all of the videos on our Vimeo channel.

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On Silver Discoverer: Better Than Summer Camp, Teens & Adults Learn To Master Photography While Exploring http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/14/on-silver-discoverer-better-than-summer-camp-teens-adults-learn-to-master-photography-while-exploring/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/14/on-silver-discoverer-better-than-summer-camp-teens-adults-learn-to-master-photography-while-exploring/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:29:25 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41117 As we explored Russia’s Far East for the past two weeks on Silver Discoverer, acclaimed photographer and film-maker David Wright hosted photography workshops for guests. One of two teens on our voyage, my 17-year-old son took advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as possible from the award-winning National Geographic and BBC film-maker. To... [Read More]

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As we explored Russia’s Far East for the past two weeks on Silver Discoverer, acclaimed photographer and film-maker David Wright hosted photography workshops for guests. One of two teens on our voyage, my 17-year-old son took advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as possible from the award-winning National Geographic and BBC film-maker. To learn more about David’s work, visit Expedition Workshops.

We’ll be posting daily “video vignettes” on Live Voyage Reports and Avid Cruiser— or follow along using your favorite social media portal.

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On Silver Discoverer In Russia’s Far East: In Pursuit Of The Reindeer Herders http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/12/on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-in-pursuit-of-the-reindeer-herders/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/12/on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-in-pursuit-of-the-reindeer-herders/#respond Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:49:28 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41114 We couldn’t have asked for a more diverse or event-filled day on Silver Discoverer. Our morning started off with a hike through a glacial valley, past bubbling streams, and across Arctic tundra, to a lake on a day warm enough to merit a splash. The landscape – and the day were absolutely stunning. We returned... [Read More]

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We couldn’t have asked for a more diverse or event-filled day on Silver Discoverer. Our morning started off with a hike through a glacial valley, past bubbling streams, and across Arctic tundra, to a lake on a day warm enough to merit a splash. The landscape – and the day were absolutely stunning.

We returned to Silver Discoverer for lunch, and for a few brave souls, water skiing on a flat, but cold, sea. Alex and I boarded a Zodiac with Sergey Frolov, whose company handles operations in Russia’s Far East for Silver Discoverer. He’s a local who knows the lay of the land.

Suddenly, a surprise. Check out the video.

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In Russia’s Far East On Silver Discoverer: Talking Photography With Richard Sidey http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/11/in-russias-far-east-on-silver-discoverer-talking-photography-with-richard-sidey/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/11/in-russias-far-east-on-silver-discoverer-talking-photography-with-richard-sidey/#respond Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:22:39 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41111 Today we set out on Zodiacs in pursuit of one of nature’s most majestic and feared beasts: the mighty bear. We saw more than 20 before the day ended, including mothers and cubs. They tackled terrain that would be unimaginable for two-footed creatures like us. We did hike, however, sticking together in groups, ever mindful... [Read More]

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Today we set out on Zodiacs in pursuit of one of nature’s most majestic and feared beasts: the mighty bear. We saw more than 20 before the day ended, including mothers and cubs. They tackled terrain that would be unimaginable for two-footed creatures like us.

We did hike, however, sticking together in groups, ever mindful of the bears. It’s been a great trip, traveling with my son Alex. We climbed to a hilltop for some good photos, and I took the opportunity to talk with one of the best photographers on our voyage: Silver Discoverer’s staff photographer, Richard Sidey.

Check out the video for some great photos of our voyage so far.

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On Silver Discoverer: Visiting Remote Tymlat Village, Plus, An Interview With Conrad Combrink http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/10/on-silver-discoverer-visiting-remote-tymlat-village-plus-an-interview-with-conrad-combrink/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/10/on-silver-discoverer-visiting-remote-tymlat-village-plus-an-interview-with-conrad-combrink/#respond Sun, 10 Aug 2014 05:55:33 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41087 On Silver Discoverer, Cruising Russia’s Far East There are only a little more than 8,000 Koriak people in the world. A handful of them greeted us when our zodiacs pulled ashore this afternoon in Tymlat Village.  Before entering the village, our spirits were cleansed through a ritual that required us to place a blade of... [Read More]

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On Silver Discoverer, Cruising Russia’s Far East

There are only a little more than 8,000 Koriak people in the world. A handful of them greeted us when our zodiacs pulled ashore this afternoon in Tymlat Village. 

Before entering the village, our spirits were cleansed through a ritual that required us to place a blade of grass on a fire. After that, we were lightly switched as we made our way uphill to the community.

The Koriaks practice a form of shamanism, which we witnessed in some of the ceremonies that we saw today. Their traditional clothing came from reindeer hides, and in fact, the coastal Koriak are close cousins to the nomadic reindeer herders. 

The tribal people were curious and welcoming and they didn’t mind at all when we asked to photograph their fantastic faces. 

While a few Koriaks prepared a fish stew for our group, I sat down with Conrad Combrink, director of Silversea Expeditions, to talk about our voyage so far. Check out the video.

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Day 6 On Silver Discoverer In Russia’s Far East – Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & A Story Of Romeo Sans Juliet http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/09/day-6-on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-visiting-an-abandoned-whaling-village-a-story-of-romeo-sans-juliet/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/09/day-6-on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-visiting-an-abandoned-whaling-village-a-story-of-romeo-sans-juliet/#respond Sat, 09 Aug 2014 20:03:18 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41083 Silver Discoverer: Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & Our Butler & Room Attendant from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo. We knew little about the partially submerged vessel that we were approaching through the mist. The symbol on the smokestack indicated that it was a Soviet era ship. Why it was abandoned remains a mystery.   We... [Read More]

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Silver Discoverer: Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & Our Butler & Room Attendant from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo.

We knew little about the partially submerged vessel that we were approaching through the mist. The symbol on the smokestack indicated that it was a Soviet era ship. Why it was abandoned remains a mystery.
 
We were exploring Lavrova Bay, making landfall to walk through an abandoned fishing station. The derelict buildings were hauntingly beautiful, remnants of a past revealed to us on our journey through Russia’s Far East.
 
We returned to Silver Discoverer to enjoy canapés delivered to our suite by our butler. While he shares his name with the ill-fated Italian lover, Romeo is from the Philippines. He takes care of us each day, delivering fresh fruits to our suite, stocking our mini-bar, cleaning our eyeglasses and, when we’re too tired to go to the restaurant, serving us dinner in the comfort of our suite.
 
There is no Juliet, but there is a Maria, our room attendant. She is also from the Philippines. She beams with her warm smile and her pleasant demeanor, and on one evening, she even sang us a song.

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Shoreside Exploring On Silver Discoverer In Russia’s Far East http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/08/41079/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/08/41079/#respond Fri, 08 Aug 2014 09:34:08 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41079 Silver Discoverer Shoreside Exploring In Russia’s Far East from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo. This morning, we cruised into Glubokaya Bay where we discovered a beautiful beach and made our way ashore. We assembled in small groups to learn more about this expansive glacial valley here in the vast Kamchatka region. We broke off into smaller... [Read More]

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Silver Discoverer Shoreside Exploring In Russia’s Far East from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo.

This morning, we cruised into Glubokaya Bay where we discovered a beautiful beach and made our way ashore.

We assembled in small groups to learn more about this expansive glacial valley here in the vast Kamchatka region. We broke off into smaller groups with expedition leaders who informed us about the history and geology of what we were seeing.m

It was a stunningly beautiful day, and after an hour or so ashore we made our way back to Silver Discoverer to have lunch while the ship repositioned. We boarded Zodiacs once again for an afternoon of exploring.

Our second outing was exploration in its truest form because we were not certain where we would step ashore.

After a few attempts, we spotted a beach and zipped along on the Zodiacs to reach it. There was plenty of evidence of bear activity on the beach — and for good reason: the water here was thick with salmon.

We spent 15 minutes or so observing the pinkish salmon. The beautiful creatures were in the last stages of their lives here.

We proceeded uphill along well-worn bear tracks, pausing with the expedition leaders to appreciate the wildflowers and other plants along the way.

It was humbling to think that we were walking on a path that had been treaded not by humans but by majestic bears.

Continuing up the paths made by bears, we sought to fully absorb the beauty of what we were witnessing. After 15 minutes or so observing a landscape that few humans have seen before we boarded our Zodiacs once again to head back to Silver Discoverer after an inspiring day of exploring ashore.

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Walrus Watching, Beach Campfires & Rosy Sunsets http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/06/walrus-watching-beach-campfires-rosy-sunsets/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/06/walrus-watching-beach-campfires-rosy-sunsets/#respond Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:55:00 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41076 This morning, we boarded Zodiacs in pursuit of marine life. It wasn’t long before we found our bounty: a haulout of walruses. We pulled up to a respectful distance to observe the marine creatures in their native habitat — at sea. We sat quietly for 30 minutes or more, bobbing around in the zodiacs and taking... [Read More]

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This morning, we boarded Zodiacs in pursuit of marine life. It wasn’t long before we found our bounty: a haulout of walruses.

We pulled up to a respectful distance to observe the marine creatures in their native habitat — at sea.

We sat quietly for 30 minutes or more, bobbing around in the zodiacs and taking in this spectacle of nature. We took turns jockeying for positions to best frame our cameras on these wondruous sea creatures.

Afterward, we zipped along to land the flat-bottom zodiacs on a nearby beach. Taking precautions to remain together as a group — this was bear country, after all — we hiked alongside a stream.

Silver Discoverer’s expedition leaders showed us a few things that we might have otherwise overlooked: dwarf bluberries, bees burrowed in the earth, edible plants. The valley was teeming with life for those who knew where to look for it.

In the evening, we boarded the Zodiacs again for a sunset cruise to another desolate beach, where we pulled ashore and were greeted by glasses of champagne and a blazing campfire.

Before sitting down to enjoy either, we took a short hike up a mountain to snap a few photos of the sunset from high above. The lay of the land was simply stunning.

The fact was not lost on me — or on the others who I spoke with — that in this busy and bustling world, we were spending an idyllic evening in one of the most remote regions of the planet. As the sky darkened, we made our way back down to the beach.

The campfire crackled, and one of our fellow passengers played old-time favorites on the mandolin. Inspired by the music, a few passengers joined in to perform the melodies.

The sense of fellowship capped an evening — and a day — that none of us are likely to soon forget — a perfect ending to a perfect day on Silver Discoverer.

We’ll be posting daily “video vignettes” on Live Voyage Reports and Avid Cruiser— or follow along using your favorite social media portal.

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