Ocean-river combos alluring option for cruise lovers

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It seems like something true cruise enthusiasts could really get onboard with: the marriage of a blue water sailing with one that ventures into the inland waterways.

So, it comes as little surprise that the one company with a solid stake in both the ocean and river markets, Viking, quietly launched itineraries that combine an ocean and river cruise.

Viking currently has three itineraries it calls its Ocean & River Voyages. The 15-day Rhine & Viking Shores & Fjords combines a Rhine river cruise with a North Sea sailing (with both 2018 and 2019 departure dates); the 22-day Grand European & Viking Fjords combines a Danube, Rhine and Main cruise with a North Sea sailing (with departures in 2019); and the 18-day Rhine and Amsterdam to Catalonia brings together a Rhine cruise with a sailing along the Atlantic Ocean (with departures in 2018).

It’s an approach worth watching as a slowly growing number of cruise lines build and offer both ocean and river products. In addition to Viking, Crystal Cruises now has vessels that sail both blue and inland waters, and Scenic is gearing up to make its first foray into ocean cruising with the launch of the 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse this summer.

On a smaller scale, Pandaw River Cruises has started to offer coastal sailings in Southeast Asia in addition to its numerous river cruises on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers. Closer to home, American Cruise Lines has cruises both along the U.S. and Canada coastlines as well as on U.S. rivers, and UnCruise offers a Columbia and Snake river sailing in addition to its numerous coastal cruises. French river cruise company CroisiEurope has some coastal ships as well. Since for the most part, river cruises can’t go where ocean cruises can and vice versa, it seems the two would work well together as a combined offering for passengers that have the time and the willingness to experience two very different types of cruising.

Perhaps for Viking, there’s a larger goal at play with the combination cruises, too. Travel Weekly’s cruise editor Tom Stieghorst recently reported that Viking’s senior vice president of marketing Richard Marnell admitted that one of Viking Ocean’s core challenges is that the Viking name is still associated primarily with river cruises. Combining the company’s ocean and river offerings could be seen as a way to introduce those river cruisers to the ocean product.

For companies with access to both markets, the opportunity to cross-market and introduce river cruisers to the oceans and ocean cruisers to the rivers is definitely an advantage worth weighing. While some might argue that they are very different markets with distinct passengers, river cruise line surveys of their passengers often find that many of them are ocean cruisers as well, suggesting that there is a potential marketplace for the ocean-river combination cruise.

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Exciting new ships are on the horizon

Crystal Endeavour - Crystal Cruises
Crystal Endeavor will be the line’s latest megayacht

Scenic Eclipse, Crystal Endeavor, and Seabourn Ovation join the luxury set, while Ponant will offer its passengers underwater lounges on four additions to its fleet.

New ships, new ports of call and a voyage around the world in 180 days are on the horizon over the next two years.

Megayachts Scenic Eclipse and Crystal Endeavor will be among the newcomers, while Seabourn is launching Ovation.

Ponant is gearing up for four new ships, all with an underwater lounge.

Scenic is hailing Eclipse as ‘the world’s first discovery yacht’. It will launch in August next year to carry 228 guests – down to 200 while in the Arctic and Antarctic. Each of the 114 suites will have a private veranda, lounge and butler service.

While guests will have the choice of nine dining options, the smallness of Eclipse – at only 16,500 tons – means it will be able to dock in more remote ports. But it’s big enough to boast two helicopters and a submarine.

Seabourn Ovation - Seabourn
Seabourn Ovation will be joining the fleet in May 2018

Ponant is set for a busy couple of years with the arrival of Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain in 2018 and Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville in 2019. All will have 88 cabins and four suites, each one with a balcony. The ships will also be the first in the world to have an underwater lounge, the Blue Eye.The 25,000-ton Crystal Endeavor will launch in 2019, cruising polar regions during the summer and autumn and following the route of migrating whales to Antarctica during the winter. A remote-operated vehicle will allow passengers to see sunken galleons, warships and liners such as Titanic.

Seabourn is introducing its latest ship – Ovation – in May 2018. Like Encore, launched this year, it will carry 600 guests, all with a private veranda, and measure 40,350 tons. “Seabourn Ovation will carry on the standard of ultra-luxury cruising that can only be found on Seabourn. We can’t wait to welcome our guests on board,” said company president Richard Meadows.

After some delay in construction, Star Clippers will finally say hello to Flying Clipper, the largest sailing ship in the world, with five masts and room for 300 guests, next year.

Many luxury lines are adding new destinations and overnight stays in the next two years. But the ultimate cruise for 2019 must be the 180-day world voyage on Oceania Cruises ship Insignia. It will travel 45,000 nautical miles across two oceans and 16 seas while visiting 90 destinations in 36 countries.

Le Laperouse - Le Champlain - Ponant
Two of Ponant’s new ships, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain, will be launched next year

Bob Binder, the president and CEO of Oceania, said: “Our exciting 2019 Around the World journey offers guests an expertly crafted route spanning the four corners of the globe, touching on nearly 100 captivating destinations and dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is truly the journey of a lifetime.”

For the first time in the history of Crystal Cruises, both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will embark on world cruises next year, offering travellers four separate global itineraries.

With the ships meeting in Sydney on February 17, 2018, guests can switch vessels for a new route. Ranging from 97 to 129 nights, the voyages will travel to a combined 111 destinations in 45 countries with 50 overnights.

Silversea is sailing a 132-day world cruise in 2019, with Silver Whisper calling at 52 ports in 31 countries across five continents.

Nine writers, including Paul Theroux and Pico Iyer, will be invited on board to create short stories inspired by the destinations.

Cunard has launched its Oceans of Discovery programme for January to May 2019, including the cruise line’s first return to Alaska in more than 20 years with Queen Elizabeth. Queen Victoria will do a full 107-night western circumnavigation of the globe.

Regent Seven Seas is offering world cruises next year and in 2019 on Seven Seas Navigator. Looking even further ahead, it has announced a 131-night world cruise on Seven Seas Mariner, departing from San Francisco on January 24, 2020

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Scenic Eclipse: Scenes from the Shipyard

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Click the above image to watch the Luxury Yacht Video.

The Scenic Eclipse is well on her way to a 2018 debut, and is currently under construction at a shipyard in Croatia. Scenic recently released new photos of the newbuild process.

Advanced retractable zero speed stabilizers arriving at the shipyard.“Currently, 60% of the ship’s steel construction is complete and soon she will be taking shape on the slipway. Here we can see the retractable zero speed stabilizers being delivered to the shipyard. These stabilizers are a major innovation on Scenic Eclipse, which not only stabilize the ship but also allow safer entry and exit in isolated locations,” the company said.

Azipod Thrusters ready for mounting to hull.

Ice Class 1A Super Hull.