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Top 5 River Cruise Questions

Viking Prestige

I’ve been assisting travelers with river cruises for nearly 10 years now. Here are the most popular questions I get asked:

First up – “How do I get the best deal on a river cruise?”

Early booking usually offers the best discounts and promotions. By early, I mean at least 9 months to nearly 1.5 years out. Some cruise lines run what I call a ‘deceptive marketing strategy’, so beware. If you see, “2 for 1” pricing and such…just know that’s really not true. You really have to compare the ending price for everything you need with each cruise offer. Mark my words, if they offer “FREE AIR” or “FREE” anything…it’s not really free, it’s just worked into the pricing. This is where our shopping skills come into play and many times we can offer things not available to the public. Did you figure that into your value?

2. Why should I go through you instead of booking online myself?

Chances are, you have researched a little about river cruising already. Does that mean you are an expert? No, just better informed. We are CERTIFIED by the cruise lines themselves in their brands. We know the cruise lines, the ships, the differences, the itineraries, the rivers, the inclusions, the ports, the tours and much more. We’ve been on the different rivers and cruise lines ourselves. We are not ‘middlemen.’ We do not charge you for our services, the cruise lines pay us. You win! You get our experience, training, and assistance at no extra cost. In fact, we will very likely SAVE YOU MONEY! (and a lot of headaches) A river cruise is a big investment, don’t throw your money up for chance and hope things work out in your favor.

3. What is the best time of year to river cruise?

That depends on your interests and a few other things. Do you like cooler weather or do you like it hot? Popular options for warm weather will surely be summer months in both Europe and the USA. Do you like better value? Do you like cooler weather? Maybe a Spring or Autumn cruise is best for you. Pricing is down in the ‘shoulder’ seasons and the weather is a bit cooler as well. Crowds start to thin out as well. And, of course you can visit the world-famous Christmas Markets in the winter. (think Germany/Austria and the like) So, depending on your likes…seasonal changes can make a big difference on what you see and how warm the weather will be.

4. Do I need a passport or visa to river cruise?

It depends on where you were born and what country you are visiting. For most US citizens, you will simply need a valid passport in countries like Germany, France, Hungary, Austria, The Netherlands. If you cruise in Vietnam, China or Russia you will likely need visas as well. No worries, we assist you with these things to assure things go smoothly and you have the proper documentation to travel. Remember, you can river cruise in the USA without a passport or visa if you are a citizen of the USA!

5. What are the most popular places to river cruise?

The Danube River through Germany, Austria and Hungary is about the most popular. Usually between Nuremberg, Germany and Budapest, Hungary for equal parts beautiful vineyards, ancient cities and multiple countries. You can also do the Eastern Europe run from Budapest to Bucharest on the same river.

The Rhine River is also very popular, between Amsterdam and down into Basel, Switzerland. These cruises will start in either of those cities and cruise through The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. Many castles in the Rhine Gorge to see and the river cruises into the Black Forest.

France has a few popular options, with Paris/Normandy itineraries on The Seine River, as well as both South of France rivers and even in the Western Bordeaux region. Military buffs will love the northern route to Normandy to see the beaches and cemeteries while wine aficionados will love the other regions. Foodies, head to the South of France for the best in cuisine.

U.S.A has some great options on The Mississippi River with many options on rivers to the East. In the Western USA, you can cruise the beautiful Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border through the fantastic Columbia River Gorge. You can cruise on new-build, modern ships or cruise replicas of the days gone by on a paddlewheeler or steamboat! I’ve done them both and they are very unique. Some theme cruises are wine-focused, where they visit the many vineyards in the area or history-focused showcasing the days gone by.

River Cruise Guru
Contact me today! pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

Certified River Cruise Specialist

RiverCruiseGuru.com

Contact: pete@rivercruiseguru.com

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AmaWaterways building Europe's largest river cruise ship

The AmaMagna, will be the same length, height and draft as the line’s other vessels, but at 22 meters it will be twice as wide, allowing for larger cabins — most about 300 square feet — with a capacity for 194 passengers (40 more than Crystal Mozart).

Its width also means it will be the only ship docked in ports that allow two-deep berthing.

The new ship will feature ocean-style cabins, multiple dining venues (including outdoor dining), an elevator that goes all the way to the top of the ship, a heated top-deck pool and hot tub with bar, expanded entertainment and spa offerings and a water sports platform with zodiacs, canoes and other recreational equipment.

A model of the AmaMagna, a ship that will be twice as wide a current ships. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing

The ship will be green, using propulsion that’s a hybrid of diesel and electric engines. In total, there will be 10 small engines, with just four used for propulsion. If more power is needed, electric ones will be used.

Construction began on March 6 at Vahali’s headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia. When the hull is completed, the vessel will be finished at the company’s facility in Holland. Because its size will prohibit it from being towed directly to Holland by tugboat, it will instead be taken by freighter via the Black Sea.

Pete Larson, CTC, LS, DS

Certified River Cruise Specialist

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

218.779.3050

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Emerald Waterways new "Deposit Protection Plan"

Emerald Waterways currently has non-refundable and non-transferrable deposits. (same as most other river cruise lines)

To allow some flexibility for our guests, they are now offering a Deposit Protection Plan.

What is this NEW Deposit Protection Plan?

The Deposit Protection Plan (DPP) is a form of coverage offered by Emerald Waterways that protects the deposit amount paid on an Emerald Waterways cruise.

To participate in this program, the cost is $125/pp USD and must be paid with the deposit on the Deposit Due Date.

The Deposit Protection Plan is non-refundable and non-transferrable and cannot be added past the Deposit Due Date. The DPP also only covers Cruise or Tour deposit, it DOES NOT cover Air deposits.

How it works:

When guests choose to cancel or change their cruise departure date for any reason prior to the final payment due date as per the terms and  conditions, the value of the Deposit Protection Plan paid will be charged as a fee.

Additionally, any third-party supplier fees incurred by us (i.e components provided by third parties such as, but not limited to, hotels) will be subtracted from the deposit amount and we will credit the remainder towards an alternative cruise. This must be booked within 24 months of the cancellation.

If guests do not book within the 24-month period advised, the deposit amount held on file will be forfeited.

The DPP does not, nor does it intend to, replace travel insurance. Emerald Waterways highly recommends all guests purchase travel insurance prior to leaving for their vacation.

If a guest declines the DPP at the time of booking, this will be noted on their reservation and will not be allowed to be added after the Deposit Due Date.

Cancellations:

If guests who have purchased the DPP cancel after final payment due date, the Deposit Protection Plan is no longer valid. Their standard cancellation policy will apply to cancellations made after final payment due date. The cancellation fees will be advised by the Cancellations Team after cancellation in writing is received.

Guests who cancel prior to the final payment due date but have NOT taken out the Deposit Protection Plan than the deposit remains non-refundable and non-transferrable.

For more information, contact your Emerald Waterways Specialist, Pete Larson.

Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

River Cruise Specialist

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

1-218-779-3050

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Emerald Waterways New River Ships

The fifth in the Emerald Waterways’ Star Ship fleet, the 186-guest Emerald Destiny includes the line’s indoor balcony in most cabins, complete with decked area and an open-air system as well as a swimming pool and cinema on the ship’s aft. It is one of three Emerald Star Ships to be launched this year, bringing the total fleet to seven. Emerald Liberté, which will sail the Saône and Rhône rivers in France, will launch in April. The Liberté can host 138 guests and offers all the same amenities as the Destiny, including the swimming pool and cinema. Emerald Radiance, which carries only 112 passengers, will traverse Portugal’s Douro River and will launch in May.

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Here is Pete “River Cruise Guru” onboard Emerald Star on the Danube River

Contact Pete today for free assistance with your river cruise!

  • Pete Larson, CTC, LS, DS
  • Certified River Cruise Specialist
  • www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
  • Email:  pete@rivercruiseguru.com
  • Call:  1-218-779-3050

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Meet Crystal River Cruises

Highlights of the newest river cruising brand, Crystal River Cruises

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Overview

From the regal cities of Amsterdam, Vienna, Budapest, Frankfurt, Paris, Bordeaux and Basel, explore the Danube, Rhine, Main, Moselle, Seine, Garonne and Dordogne rivers on Crystal River Cruises with gorgeous, ever-changing panoramas of enchanting villages and lush landscapes. In-depth explorations and overnight stays in the heart of Europe’s cities and towns provide a vibrant and memorable experience.

The hallmarks of the Crystal brand – service, space, quality and choices – usher in a new era in European river exploration with Crystal River Yachts. With its signature All-Inclusive philosophy, Crystal offers an encompassing luxury experience: butler service for every suite; six-star service and truly exceptional food; unique Crystal Adventures that deliver memorable destination experiences – all working in synch to transpose the World’s Best Ocean Cruising to the World’s Best River Cruising. Crystal will redefine luxury river cruising.

All-Inclusive Crystal River Cruises

Complimentary All-Inclusive Luxuries aboard Crystal River Cruises

  • Gratuities included for all shipboard staff throughout the River Yacht including housekeeping, bar, dining staff and butlers.
  • All meals included, featuring Crystal’s innovative and acclaimed six-star cuisine, highlighted by regional specialties
  • Unlimited soft drinks and premium beverages including champagne, fine wine and spirits throughout the River Yacht
  • All soft drinks, beer and bottled water in-suite
  • 24-hour self-service pantry featuring specialty coffees, teas, wines and nonalcoholic beverages
  • 24-hour room service
  • 24-hour Wi-Fi access (via satellite) including free Wi-Fi/Internet usage of 60 minutes per person, per day.
  • State-of-the-art interactive TV system including in-suite movies on demand, extensive music library
  • Complimentary airport transfers to/from river yacht to airport. All transfers will be group transfers by motor coach on embarkation and debark days only:

– Airport/River Yacht – Transfers will operate between 8am and 6pm on embarkation day. Actual service times may  vary depending on local traffic conditions and guests’ arrival schedules.
– River Yacht /Airport – Transfers will operate until at least 12 noon on the day of disembarkation. Actual service times may vary depending on local traffic conditions and guests’ departure schedules.

Onboard entertainment and enrichment programs

  • Destination-focused entertainment and enrichment program, including onboard lecture series
  • Destination expert on each voyage
  • Regional affairs experts on many voyages
  • Daily yoga and fitness classes
  • Daily choice of electronic international newspapers
  • Self-service guest laundry
  • Choice of complimentary curated Crystal Adventures shore excursions in every port
  • Complimentary culinary experience at highly renowned local establishments on many sailings
  • Complimentary Nordic walking poles
  • Complimentary audio headphones on all organized Crystal Adventures

Dining

  • A la carte, buffet and early risers breakfast offerings
  • Multiple dining venues
  • Open seating dining
  • Crystal Casual dress code
  • European sourced and trained chefs and hotel staff

Shipboard Public Spaces

  • Hydraulic Sun-Deck Bar
  • Fitness Center with state-of-the-art TechnoGym equipment and dedicated yoga area
  • Massage services
  • Library
  • Non-smoking environment in all indoor spaces (Except Connoisseur Club on Crystal Mozart)
  • Onboard currency exchange – shipboard currency Euros

Suites

  • Twice daily housekeeping services including evening turndown service
  • In-suite hors d’oeuvres
  • Individual climate control
  • Flat-screen TV in each suite
  • English-speaking and international TV stations
  • Butler service for each suite

Contact River Cruise Guru today for more information and COMPLIMENTARY ASSISTANCE! No booking fees, lowest price possible. We are with you every step of the way.

River Cruises are my Specialty!

CERTIFIED RIVER CRUISE SPECIALIST!

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

218-779-3050

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

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Why Should You Turn to a River Cruise Specialist?

  • The Overwhelming choices! Cruise lines are very different, pricing and policies are confusing, promos always change, inclusions and itineraries vary. A certified Specialist will solve those issues by making things clear to you and explaining it all.
  • No Fees! Our expert planning and booking services don’t cost a dime. We are paid directly by the cruise or vendors we sell. Expertise and experience for FREE!
  • We’ll save you money! We’ll save you money and you won’t have to try to figure it out yourself. A lower price than direct? YES, it’s possible with us! Our cruise line relations assure you get the best value possible.
  • We’ll save you time! Why re-invent the wheel? We’ve already got it figured out and have assisted hundreds of hapy clients. It’s what we do!
  • No detail is overlooked. Flights, transfers, hotels, insurance, river levels, seasons, payments, packing and more.
  • Unbiased advice! We don’t work for the cruise line, we work for YOU.
  • Planning is confusing! River cruising is very different and the planning can be confusing. We remove the mystery.
  • Expertise! We are certified River Cruise Specialists! Trained to help sort through things to deliver the experience you desire.
  • Experience! We’ve been there and cruised those ships! We’ve been on those rivers. First hand experience is the best teacher. We’ve been river cruising and assisting cruisers for more than 6 years. We specialize in river cruises and dedicate our time and resources into it.

You can trust your plans to us. You can check us out further at www.RiverCruiseGuru.com or www.JollyMonVacations.com …our sister agency.

Pete Larson, CTC, LS, DS

Jolly Mon Vacations and River Cruise Guru

Phone:  218-779-3050

Email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com or pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Scenic Crystal 2012

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From Castles to Cafés: Uniworld’s 2016 Themed Cruises

Uniworld  Boutique River Cruises is proud to offer themed cruises in 2016 that highlight unique aspects of European culture, as well as family-friendly cruises that allow guests to share the gift of travel with their children or grandchildren.

Uniworld’s themed cruises:

  • Our NEW Monarch Collection cruises showcase the finer aspects of European royalty.
  • The NEW Connoisseur Collection cruises take your clients on a culinary adventure through France. Good food, wine and friend…what else do you need?
  • Holiday Season cruises introduce travelers to the magic of Europe at Christmas. It’s no secret that Europe’s Christmas Markets rank among our very favorite river cruises to take each year. The combination of Holiday spirit and old-world charm makes visiting Europe in late November and early December a delight, particularly given that the summer crowds that clog streets, museums and attractions have long since dispersed.
  • Finally, our award-winning Multi-generational Family-Friendly program includes more itineraries and departures than ever before…50% off cruise fare for ages 4-18! Family-friendly shore excursions will keep everyone thrilled. A great bonding experience for the whole family.

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Uniworld Cruises are ALL-INCLUSIVE! Look what’s included in our up-front pricing:

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Contact us for more details!

  • We specialize in RIVER CRUISING.
  • We are certified by the cruise lines and have sailed on the rivers first-hand!
  • Expert advice and NO FEES!
  • We’ll get you the best possible price and value on a cruise that is RIGHT FOR YOU!
  • Anyone can book a cruise…but our experience and knowledge will find you a cruise that matches your travel style.

Pete Larson, CTA, DS, LS

Certified River Cruise Specialist

Owner/River Cruise Guru

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Brought to you by RIVER CRUISE GURU www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

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5 – Tips to Save You Money on a River Cruise

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Pete on The Danube River

1.  Use a certified River Cruise Specialist! A specialist is highly trained in river cruises and has actually been on them before. They know the ins & outs of the different brands, inclusions, itineraries and much more. They can help you find the right cruise that fits your style and budget…saving you money. They know flight options, insurance, pre and post cruise stays, transportation, tours….you get the picture? You’ll pay the same or LESS than booking directly…and get MUCH BETTER ADVICE…all for free.

2.  BUY EARLY! When you buy early…and you can buy a full year ahead…they usually offer some great discounts. These ships are small and fill up fast. Waiting can cause you to ‘miss the boat!’ Why not get some of the best discounts by booking early and choose a cabin location or category that YOU want. (not settle for what is left) I repeat, buy early.

3.  Choose wisely. Each brand has its own style and inclusions. Some brands are much more inclusive than others. When comparing prices, take into consideration that some lines make you pay for extras…like gratuities, drinks, ship transfers, shore excursions and more. Some lines include it. Figure out what you need and how much more it will cost if you choose a line that doesn’t include it. You may find the more expensive price actually is the better value!

4.  Pre or post trip extensions:  You can buy them from the cruise line…but they can be expensive. It’s very convenient to add them on but be sure to weigh the cost of doing your own extensions. Your Rive Cruise Specialist can provide you with hotels and tours as well that may be a better value.

5.  Some lines offer discounts for paying in full at time of booking. Some offer discounts for paying with an electronic wire transfer. Some offer free transfers when you have them book your airfare. Some lines waive single supplements. Some have single berth staterooms. Again, your River Cruise Specialist can help you with all the discounts being offered that you may not know of.

The bottom line is this…Know before you go.

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel to understand river cruising. You just need to enlist an expert to answer your questions and help you make the right choices that fit your travel style. And that my friends…is why we exist!

Contact us today to get started on your river cruise planning.

We don’t charge any fees and we know river cruising!

Pete Larson,

Certified River Cruise Specialist

River Cruise Guru

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

218-779-3050

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

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Unique Wine Cruises from AMA Waterways

Unique Wine Cruises
An AmaWaterways wine cruise is designed to provide travelers with immersive experiences related to the destinations they are visiting. Like all of our cruises, guests have the opportunity to join tours and activities that highlight the sights in each port of call. In addition to these city tours, your trip is amplified with exclusive excursions that reveal more about Europe’s famed wine regions, local epicurean traditions, winemaking, and of course, tastings.

Each cruise is hosted by a qualified wine expert, who usually brings hand-selected wines on board. Some wines come from the expert’s own winery and other varieties are sourced from local vineyards located along the cruise itinerary. This expert will recommend food and wine pairings, lead discussions and even hold special tastings during your cruise.

Guests enjoy a number of tours at local vineyards and wineries, where vintners and growers will not only walk you through the winemaking process – they will give you a taste of their special varieties, too. These authentic encounters add to the rich tapestry of local culture, making for memorable experiences for wine enthusiasts and dabblers alike. Your taste buds are in for even more excitement in our sophisticated dining venues on board, where our expert chefs pair fine wines with award-winning cuisine for the ultimate epicurean experience. It really is a flavor adventure unlike any other.

On our brand-new for 2016 Taste of Bordeaux wine cruise itinerary, you’ll enjoy many wine experiences – one of them being an authentic Sauternes tasting. Sauternes blends account for a very small amount of the wine production in Bordeaux, but they contain a great amount of flavor. These highly sought-after wines are made from various grape varieties, are available in many styles, and achieve a mouthwatering balance of sweet and tart. Their notes of rich honey, peach, apricot and nuts pair wonderfully with savory French cuisine.

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Contact your River Cruise Specialist today!

Pete Larson, CTA, DS, LS

Certified River Cruise Specialist & Owner, River Cruise Guru

We know river cruises! Our services are complimentary!

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

218-779-3050

www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

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Bordeaux River Cruise

Scenic Cruises, an all-inclusive luxury river cruise line, expands its offerings in France by introducing a 12-day Bordeaux River Cruise in 2015. With seven departures between August and October, pricing for this tour along the Gironde, Dordogne and Garonne rivers start at $5,580 per person, based on double occupancy. Early booking incentives result in free flights to Europe and substantial savings on balcony cabins.

Bourdeaux

The trip starts with arrival in Paris with an overnight in a luxury hotel. The following day, the ultra-fast train, TGV, takes guests to Bordeaux, where they board the Scenic Diamond, their home for the next several days. Guests unpack their bags just once … but they’ll visit countless fascinating and photogenic locations throughout their journey. Among the stops are Cadillac, originally established in the 13th century; Saint-Émilion, home to underground catacombs at its iconic Monolithic Church; Libourne, the wine-making capital of this part of France; Cognac, where guests have the opportunity to sample brandy at the famed Rémy Martin property; Médoc, where visitors traverse a scenic wine route; and Arcachon, known for its culinary delights

This itinerary incorporates several special features that are unique to Scenic. In 2015 the company will introduce the concept of “Scenic Sundowners” to its cruises, in which guests toast the end of the day in a spectacular location. On the Bordeaux trip, guests will enjoy an afternoon cocktail in picturesque Saint-Émilion. The journey aboard the TGV – which moves at speeds up to 199 mph – is a new offering in 2015, as well, as Scenic begins its partnership with trains throughout Europe to deliver the ultimate land-to-water experiences on several of its itineraries. The Bordeaux trip also features a “Scenic Enrich” experience, a once-in-a-lifetime event unique to this cruise line. On this itinerary, guests will enjoy a private dinner and classical concert in the beautiful Château Giscours in the Médoc countryside.

The Scenic Diamond is one of Scenic Cruises’ fleet of “Space Ships.” These ships are five-star floating hotels, with spacious public areas as well as private suites that feature “Scenic slumber beds,” plus bathrobes and slippers, a flat-screen television and Mac mini infotainment system enhanced by the ship’s complimentary Wi-Fi. Scenic is the only brand (along with it’s branch, Emerald Waterways) afloat that offers the “Sun Lounge,” a system through which each suite’s private balcony can be quickly transformed into an indoor lounge, allowing guests to enjoy the passing views regardless of the weather. The company’s signature all-inclusive luxury means that absolutely everything is included:

  • Unlimited beverages including premium wines and spirits;
  • All meals (with six different dining experiences);
  • Personal butler service for all guests;
  • All excursions, events and entertainment;
  • Scenic Riverview personal GPS commentary device, which acts like a personal tour guide for guests while on board the ship;
  • Electronically assisted bicycles;
  • Wi-Fi;
  • Airport transfers;
  • All tips and gratuities.
  • On-shore experiences are made exceptional by the included Scenic Tailormade handheld GPS guided tour system that’s provided to every guest in his or her suite. This GPS system works in conjunction with guides on tours and also acts as a navigation system that allows guests to explore destinations on their own without the worry of getting lost or missing important points of interest.

Additional information on these and other cruises can be had by contacting me, your certified River Cruise Specialist at: pete@rivercruiseguru.com or 218-779-3050

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

“We know river cruises and will custom fit you to a cruise line, ship and itinerary that works for you.”

CONTACT US TODAY~!

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Wine Theme River Cruises 2013

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The river cruise line, AmaWaterways has announced a roster of wine hosts for its 2013 “In Celebration on Wine” theme cruises. The river cruise line will host 21 wine-themed itineraries through Europe’s wine regions this year, each hosted by a different wine expert from the U.S. or Europe.

The 2013 season has new excursions on Portugal’s Douro River and France’s Seine River, in addition to the company’s other unforgettable itineraries along the Danube, Mosel, Rhine and Rhone Rivers.

AmaWaterways’ 2013 wine hosts for the “In Celebration of Wine” itineraries and dates are as follows:

March 29: Legendary Wine & Regions of the Rhone

James Cluer, MW of Fine Vintages. Cluer took his first Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) course at age 18, became a Master of Wine (MW) several years later, and has been working in the wine industry since 1988.

April 2: Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas

George Sandeman of the House of Sandeman. Over the past two centuries, Sandeman Port and Sherries has become one of the world’s best known brands. George Sandeman is the seventh generation of his family to head the company.

April 5: Paris & the Sparkling Seine

Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Barbara, Calif. Food & Wine magazine named Clendenen “Winemaker of the Year” in 2001; Germany’s leading wine magazine, Wein Gourmet, named him “Winemaker of the World” in 2004; and in 2007, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.”

April 12 & Nov. 1: Paris & the Sparkling Seine

Preston Mohr, an American wine expert now based in Paris, holds an Advanced Certificate from the WSET and is currently studying for his Diploma, to be completed in June 2013. One of his specialties is French Champagne.

April 13: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Gary and Marcy Eberle of Eberle Winery in Paso Robles, Calif. More than 33 years after the release of its first vintage, this award-winning winery remains one of the most highly regarded winemakers in the United States.

Oct. 31: Castles & Wineries of Germany

Len and Marisa Crispino of Foreign Affairs Winery. After living as ex-pats in Italy in the early 1990s, Len and Marisa returned to Ontario and planted their first vines. Inspired by the Italian wine-making process, they use a unique grape drying process known as appassimento (or the Reductio method).

Nov. 5: Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas

Brian Heath of Grape Creek Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas. This Texas Hill Country winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and also boasts the first underground commercial barrel cellar in central Texas.

Nov. 6: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Eric Glomski, owner of Page Springs Cellars & Arizona Stronghold, specializes in producing Rhone-style Arizona wines. Eric will co-host withSam Pillsbury, New Zealand film director (Free Willy) and owner of Pillsbury WineCompany.

Nov. 7: Vineyards of the Rhine & Mosel

Carissa Chappellet of Chappellet Winery in Napa, an estate known for its Bordeaux varietals and its Cabernet Sauvignon. Chappellet and her brothers inherited the winery from their parents, founders Don and Molly Chappellet. She will co-host with Archie McLaren, founder and chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic.

Nov. 8: Legendary Wine Regions of the Rhone

Gerryand Rosie Wilson of Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, Calif. Wilson Creek’s famous Almond Champagne and other unique vintages have garnered numerous prestigious international wine awards.

Nov. 8: Paris & the Sparkling Seine

Jean-Marc & Kristi Espinasse of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. Rouge-Bleu has been awarded many gold medals in France and its wines have been ranked 90+ points more than four times in Wine Spectator.

Nov. 9: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Boband Jodi Dickinson are event chairs for Camillus House Auction, which raises funds for nonprofit organizations in southern Florida. Past auction items have included a rare collection of Chateau Haut Brion, which sold for more than $59,000.

Nov. 11: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Stephanie and Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard & Winery in Napa, known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Stephanie has a WSET Higher Certificate and Diploma and has many years of experience in the industry. Michael is often referred to as “the James Brown of the wine industry” and is a leader in sustainable farming.

Nov. 13: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Christopher Silva, President & CEO of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma County, Calif. The winery’s products have earned a reputation as top quality varietal wines that are bold flavored and fruit-forward.

Nov. 15: Culture & Wine Legacy of the Rhine

Holly Howellis a columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York and an authority on the wines of the Finger Lakes region, particularly Rieslings. She also teaches food and wine classes and makes her own wine.

Nov. 16: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Barry Wiss, Certified Wine Educator, VP of communications & trade relations for Trinchero Family Estates, a winery established in 1947. The Trinchero family estates represent more than 27 brands in the US and Australia, including Sutter Home, Menage a Trois, and Napa Cellars.

Nov. 18: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Vic Poulos of Zin Valle Vineyards in El Paso, Texas. Poulos owns and operates the Zin Valle Vineyards winery and also writes about wine for local and national publications.

Nov. 22: Culture & Wine Legacy of the Rhine

Mark Johnson of Chateau Chantal Winery in Michigan. Trained at the Geisenheim Research Institute in Germany, Johnson has been the winemaker at Chateau Chantal since it opened in 1986.

Nov. 22: Legendary Wine Regions of the Rhone

Lee Fuqua of Fuqua Winery. Lee Fuqua’s boutique Texas winery produces what he calls “wines with an attitude” – big, rich, full-bodied wines that satisfy serious wine drinkers.

The River Cruise Guru is a certified River Cruise Specialist and we are here to assist you FREE of charge with your river cruise. River cruising is our specialty!

Contact us today for more information at:
phone: 218-779-3050
email: pete@rivercruiseguru.com
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AMAWATERWAYS UNVEILS “WHAT’S NEW” FOR 2013-2014

Amabella
Amabella

River cruise line announces new ships, programs, pricing, amenities, marketing materials and more
Contact us today, we are certified River Cruise Specialists available to you at NO FEE! www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

CHATSWORTH, CA – (Jan. 22, 2013) – Family-owned and operated river cruise line AmaWaterways today announced a robust list of new developments for its 2013 and 2014 seasons, including new pricing, itineraries, discounts, ships, amenities, land programs, theme cruises and marketing tools.

New 2014 Pricing, Itineraries & Discounts: Prices and itineraries for 2014 cruises are now available online.

New Ships: AmaWaterways will debut two new ships in Amsterdam and Portugal in 2013. The 164-passenger AmaPrima (sister ship to the AmaCerto) will make its maiden voyage on April 3, 2013 in Amsterdam, with a special christening celebration Aug. 6, 2013. The 106-passenger AmaVida will make its debut on March 26, 2013 in Porto, Portugal. The AmaPrima will service 10 itineraries: Tulip Time Cruise, Melodies of the Danube, The Romantic Danube, Blue Danube Discovery, The Legendary Danube, Magnificent Europe, Grand Danube Cruise, Black Sea Voyage, Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube, and Christmas Time Cruise. The AmaVida will service four itineraries on the Douro River: Port Wine & Flamenco, Enticing Douro, Impressions of France & Portugal and Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas.

The AmaSonata and AmaReina (sister ships to the AmaCerto) will debut in Europe in 2014. These deluxe 164-passenger ships will feature Twin Balcony Staterooms and Suites, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary creations, complimentary fine wine and beer at lunch and dinner, multiple dining venues, a heated pool with swim-up bar, massage and beauty salon, fitness center, free in-room Internet and Infotainment, and a fleet of bicycles for guests to borrow and enjoy. The AmaSonata will travel the Danube and Rhine Rivers on seven itineraries: Tulip Time Cruise, Melodies of the Danube, The Romantic Danube, Blue Danube Discovery, The Legendary Danube, Magnificent Europe and Christmas Time Cruise. The AmaReina will serve The Enchanting Rhine seven-night itinerary.

New Amenities: Starting in 2013, AmaWaterways offers complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner and lunch on its European fleet (except for the AmaVida and AmaKatarina).

New Land Programs: Starting in 2014, AmaWaterways will offer a second optional land extension on its “Provence & Spain” itinerary – two nights in Marseille, France.

New Theme Cruises: AmaWaterways has expanded its theme cruise options for both 2013 & 2014.

• “In Celebration of Wine” Cruises: (21 departures in 2013)

• Harvest Wine Cruises on Portugal’s Douro River (two departures in October 2013)

• Jewish Heritage Cruises on the Danube River (four departures in 2013)

• Tulips & Jazz Cruise aboard the AmaCerto on April 22, 2013 is produced by Jazzdagen Tours and features two complimentary onboard jazz performances every evening.

• Gourmet Cruise with celebrity chef Bob Blumer, who will bring his passion for food and cooking demonstrations to guests aboard the AmaVida in Portugal on October 22, 2013.

• Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise (2014) on April 28, 2014 is a chocolate-themed “Romantic Danube” itinerary onboard the AmaCerto, featuring expert host Norman Love of Norman Love Confections, maker of artisanal, handcrafted gourmet chocolates.

To book a cruise, please contact our certified River Cruise Specialist or visit www.rivercruiseguru.com.
All our expertise and experience will not cost you a cent. NO FEES!

About AmaWaterways

Founded in 2002 by river cruise pioneers Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy, AmaWaterways is the premier river cruise line on Europe’s Danube, Douro, Main, Mosel, Seine, Rhine and Rhône rivers. Known for its custom-designed ships, extensive complimentary amenities and impeccable service, family-owned and -operated AmaWaterways consistently leads the way in river cruising. With itineraries in Europe, Russia, Africa, and S.E. Asia, AmaWaterways offers an enticing variety of authentic, in-depth experiences for the most discriminating travelers.

AmaWaterways’ European fleet includes the AmaSonata (2014); AmaReina (2014); AmaPrima (2013); AmaCerto (2012); AmaVerde (2011); AmaBella (2010); AmaLyra (2009); AmaDolce (2009); AmaCello (2008), AmaDante (2008); AmaLegro (2007) and the AmaDagio (2006). The line’s newest ships feature Twin Balcony Staterooms, multiple dining venues, complimentary in-room Internet and Infotainment, a heated swimming pool or whirlpool, plus many more unique design elements.

AmaWaterways’ separate and distinct AmaVoyages division operates the AmaVida (2013) in Portugal, the AmaLotus (2011) and La Marguerite (2009) in Vietnam and Cambodia, the AmaKatarina (2011) in Russia, and the Zambezi Queen (2009) in Africa.

Pete Larson
River Cruise Specialist
pete@rivercruiseguru.com
218-779-3050

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

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Scenic Cruises is Upgrading European Riverboats

Onboard Scenic Crystal...the first River Café by River Cruise Guru Onboard Scenic Crystal…the first River Café by River Cruise Guru[/caption]Scenic Cruises is spending $10 million to rebuild five “Space Ships” with the same features and specifications of its newest ships, the Scenic Crystal and soon-to-launch Scenic Jewel. The five ships undergoing work — Scenic Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Ruby and Pearl — are only 18 months to four years old. The Scenic Crystal entered service in April 2012, while the Scenic Jewel is due out this April.

The five ships will get a new casual eatery, the River Café, which is open all day. Portobello’s, the 30-seat Italian restaurant, has been upgraded, while the main restaurant has enhanced omelet and carver stations. Also added to the ships is Table La Rive, which will serve a six-course degustation menu.

Cabins (except those on Scenic Emerald) have been redone with new wallpaper, marble-desk tops and side tables, furniture, carpets and 32-inch Samsung HD TVs linked to MiniMac computers for in-cabin email and Internet. What’s more, the cabins will get the “Sun-Lounges,” which allow guests to convert their private balcony into an indoor lounge with the push of a button.

All Royal and Panorama Suites were expanded and rebuilt to Crystal/Jewel specifications. The lounge has a new upgraded bar done with marble, additional coffee machines, and more wine dispensers. The lobby areas also are renovated with new floors, reception desks, wallpaper, artwork and light fixtures. The ships will also get new carpet, curtains and designer furniture throughout. The ships also offer a number of technical upgrades including an upgraded Wi-Fi system using both Satellite and UMTS Mobile technology for faster speeds, and new equipment in the galleys, such as pizza ovens.

In 2013, Scenic Cruises offers unlimited complimentary beverages (top-shelf brands are additional), private butler service for every guest, 24-hour room service, new themed dinners with entertainment, a personal GPS guided tour system providing commentary on passing sites, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The GPS system is not available on Scenic Emerald in France.

FREE RIVER CRUISE PLANNING, BOOKING AND ADVICE!
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European Christmas Markets

So which one to choose?

Well, every German Christmas market has its own specialities (the best wooden ornaments come from the Erzgebirge mountains; the Bavarian Forest produces superb glass) but if you’re planning a special trip to Germany to do your Christmas shopping, it makes sense to visit a market in a place you want to see in its own right. Hopefully, the following shortlist should help you make up your mind.

And by the way, a word of warning about the Glühwein. Hot alcohol hits you quicker, especially in chilly weather, and this mulled wine is often a good deal stronger than the stuff we drink at home.

Aachen

23 November to 23 December (aachen.de)

The market

Of all Germany’s Christmas markets, Aachen’s Weihnachtsmarkt is closest to the UK – less than four hours from London by train, changing in Brussels. The Weihnachtsmarkt, in the shadow of the cathedral, has in a spectacular setting. Be sure to try some Printen (the local gingerbread) and potato fritters (the local fast food).

The city

Founded by the Romans, who came here to bathe in its hot sulphur springs, Aachen briefly became the capital of Western Europe under the Emperor Charlemagne during the Dark Ages. The mineral springs are still here (you can swim in them or drink them; bad-aachen.de) and Charlemagne’s ornate cathedral is still standing – a relic of a time when this border town was the centre of a great empire.

Cologne

26 November to 23 December (cologne.de)

The market

From its main site in the cathedral square, close to the bustling central station, Cologne’s Christmas market spills over into several diverse locations around the city. The markets in the Neumarkt and Alter Markt are both charming, but the most scenic spot is the Hafenmarkt, on the Rhine, beside Cologne’s Chocolate Museum. Frikadellen (pork burgers) and Spekulatius (cinnamon-flavoured biscuits) are among the culinary favourites. Kolsch, a light lager served in a dainty 200ml glass, is the favourite brew.

The city

Cologne Cathedral – Copyright River Cruise Guru

Cologne’s gigantic Gothic cathedral dominates the city skyline, but this busy Rhineland city is also a lively centre of the arts. The Ludwig Museum (00 49 221 221 26165; museum-ludwig.de) houses the biggest collection of Pop Art outside America and some stunning German Expressionists such as Max Beckmann and Ludwig Kirchner.

 

Dresden

28 November to 24 December (dresden.de)

The market

Founded in 1434, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. Contrary to popular misconception, it isn’t actually the oldest – that honour belongs to Bautzen, a historic town on the Polish border which beats it by half a century. Never mind. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is uniquely atmospheric, as the city’s Altmarkt is transformed into a gigantic grotto. Striezel is the Saxon word for Stollen, Germany’s distinctive Christmas cake, and Dresden’s version is commonly regarded as Germany’s finest. If you’re here on 8 December, don’t miss the annual Stollenfest (stollenfest.com), when an enormous Stollen is paraded through the city to the Striezelmarkt, where the Stollenmädchen (a sort of Christmas beauty queen) cuts the first slice.

The city

Renowned before the Second World War as one of Europe’s loveliest cities, the “Florence of the Elbe” was flattened by the Allies in 1945. However, since reunification it’s been painstakingly rebuilt and today the panorama Canaletto painted has been immaculately restored. As well as its beautiful baroque architecture, the Saxon capital has one of the world’s most wonderful art galleries, the Zwinger (00 49 351 49 14 2000; skd.museum), full of treasures by Renaissance masters such as Botticelli and Raphael.

Munich

30 November to 24 December (muenchen.de)

The market

Munich hosts more than a dozen Christmas markets. A lot of overseas visitors venture no further than the traditional Christkindlmarkt below the bell tower of the Neues Rathaus, but the smaller markets beyond Marienplatz are well worth a visit. The most picturesque is the Kripperlmarkt, which is devoted to crib sets and carved Nativity figures. For something completely different, visit Tollwood (tollwood.de), an alternative Christmas market with a focus on ethnic crafts, world music and international cuisine, which continues until 31 December.

The city

Forget the tourist clichés – there’s more to Munich than bierkellers, oompah bands and fat men in lederhosen. In fact, apart from a few weeks during the Oktoberfest, the Bavarian capital is one of Germany’s smartest cities, with lots of chic restaurants and private galleries, and a lively opera scene. Its greatest asset, however, is its close proximity to proper countryside. On a clear day you can see the Bavarian Alps from the city centre and the lovely lakes of Starnberger See and Ammersee are only half an hour away by U-bahn.

Nuremberg

30 November to 24 December (nuernberg.de)

The market

Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (literally, “Christ child market”) is Germany’s most celebrated Christmas market, attracting more than 2 million visitors annually. Air Berlin flies non-stop from Gatwick; the route ends in early January, but before then there is plenty of availability, The city’s culinary speciality is Lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread) but the biggest attraction is the Christkind (Christmas angel), who opens the market on the Friday before Advent, from the balcony of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the main square. A local girl in her late teens, the Christkind acts as an ambassador for the Christkindlesmarkt. Despite its popularity, the market retains an old-fashioned atmosphere and an emphasis on authentic produce, especially the Nürnberger Rostbratwürste – delicious little sausages served by the dozen or half a dozen, with heaps of tangy sauerkraut.

The city

Nuremberg’s medieval heritage made it deeply attractive to the Nazis, who adopted this romantic city as the cultural capital of the Third Reich. You can still visit Hitler’s Zeppelin Field, a vast crumbling ruin on the edge of town. Thankfully, Nuremberg’s totalitarian past now feels like ancient history. Today its main claim to fame is as the world’s top producer of children’s toys.

There are many cities along the Rhine and Danube River that have great Christmas Markets. One can take a river cruise and hit them all in style. We recommend Uniworld, AMA and Avalon for these cruises as well as some others. We here at River Cruise Guru assist you ‘free of charge’ with your river cruise plans. We are Certified River Cruise Specialists that really know this unique cruise niche.

Contact us today at:

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Top 3 Classic Travel Scams: Protect Yourself!

As a travel agent and consultant, I get this question a lot:

“How do I know if this offer or ‘deal’ is legitimate or if it’s a travel scam?”

Here are a few classic things to watch for and how you can protect yourself.

1. The prize cruise or vacation:  “You’ve won a free cruise!”

You’re told you’ve won a free cruise or have qualified for a fabulous cut-rate price, but you’ll need to provide a credit card number to pay a deposit or processing fee. You may even be asked for your passport or Social Security number to prove that you’re the entitled winner.

If you give your credit card number, you may be charged “port fees” and other incidentals that exceed what you’d pay for an entire booking through a legitimate cruise line or travel agent. Provide your Social Security or passport number and you risk future identity theft. And your supposedly free vacation may require you to book a second guest at an inflated price.

2. The hidden sales pitch.

Some offers are designed just to get you to attend a sales pitch for a timeshare or an expensive and potentially problem-prone vacation club. You may in fact get a low-cost cruise, but past passengers complain of below-par accommodations – and high-pressure presentations that take not the promised 90 minutes but four hours or more. I’ve seen people leave these intimidating sales pitches in tears before.

3. The long-distance scam.

Offers are sometimes nothing more than a ruse to run up your phone bill. To claim your prize cruise, you’re told to call a 900 phone number or one with an area code of 876, 868, 809, 758, 784, 664, 473, 441, 284 or 246. Those codes seem all-American, but are actually for foreign countries, with the clock running at $5 a minute or more. In the end, there’s no cruise, only a high phone bill

How to Protect Yourself:

Last year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 1,300 complaints about cruises.

  • Beware of buzzwords. Travel promises tend to use language like “you’re eligible to      win” or “guaranteed.” One word that should never trick you: “Free.” It means just that — so don’t pay deposits or service fees on the promise you’ll get them back later.
  • Find out who really sent the offer. If an offer comes from an unrecognized source, assume the worst. But legitimate cruise lines may send past customers emails or mailings  about real low-cost offers. Before you respond, authenticate the address      with an online search. Watch out for look-alike Internet addresses that  are just a letter or two different from legitimate ones. Never click on attachments in unsolicited emails; they could unleash rogue programs known  as “malware” on your computer.
  • Get proper confirmation of your booking. If you book through a travel agent or other third party, make sure that you get two sets of confirmation numbers — one directly from the cruise line and one from the other agency. That will help in any disputes.
  • Pay with a credit card. That’s safer than a debit card or check and will allow for easier reimbursement or settlement of payment disputes if problems arise.

The bottom line is…its your money and its up to you to protect it. There is an easy way to do this when it comes to travel:

Use a reputable travel agent to do the work for you. They will find the best value for your money and most times it doesn’t cost you a thing extra. That’s right…we don’t even charge a fee to do the work on most vacation packages!

Travel agents offer so much more than you can get doing things yourself. From free planning, advice, upgrades, price reductions AFTER your purchase, proper insurance protection, trustworthy tours, transportation, assistance when trouble arises and so much more. We know the safety about your destinations, cruises and shore tours.

Travel agents are trained in what they do and often times they’ve already been where you are going and can offer loads of inside information you can’t get elsewhere. They can shop vendors that are not even available to the public and most times beat pricing you can find on the internet. Valuable resort and cruise line advice that will be critical to your stay will be given so there are no ‘surprises.’

Great travel agents are trained, certified and agency accredited. Look for one that SPECIALIZES in what you are looking for. (we specialize in all-inclusive resorts and river cruises in Europe, Asia and Russia)

Don’t fall for a scam, head to a trusted agent for real help and expertise!

Call or click to find out more about what we can do for you:

email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

218-779-3050

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Scenic Cruises Launches True All-Inclusive River Cruises

Pete Larson, River Cruise Guru

Owner and Travel Consultant for River Cruise Guru & Jolly Mon Vacations

Scenic Cruises has announced what it calls the “first truly all-inclusive luxury river cruising experience.” New on 2013 cruises will be unlimited complimentary beverages (top-shelf brands are additional), private butler service for every guest, themed dinners with entertainment (including Hungarian and Bavarian itineraries), a personal GPS onboard guided tour system devices providing commentary, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Also new are three dining venues — River Café with all-day offerings; Table La Rive, for degustation menus; and High Tea on the Terrace. (River Café, Table La Rive and the GPS tour are not available on Scenic Emerald which will be relocated to the south of France)

New shore experiences include Scenic Enrich, exclusive experiences such as a private dinner and concert at Rastatt Palace; Scenic FreeChoice, 18 tours including the Hockenheim Formula 1 Track in Heidelberg; and Scenic Tailor-made, a bespoke GPS-guided tour system with full commentary, allowing guests to choose from independent walks or cycling tours exploring areas like food and wine or history.

“We are redefining the term ‘all-inclusive luxury’ with the addition of unlimited complimentary beverages available at any time throughout the ship, free Wi-Fi, and butler service for all,” said Managing Director Glen Moroney. “Our relaxing new River Café offers food items all day, including cakes and espresso coffee. And most important — there is basically nothing more to pay except for personal expenses.”

River Cruise Guru can attest to this, as we were invited to sail onboard the maiden voyage of Scenic Crystal and have personally experienced the 2013 changes ourselves on a special voyage. It was nothing short of incredible.

Also in 2013, Scenic “Space-Ships” will get “Sun-Lounges,” which allow guests to convert their private balconies into an indoor lounge. This is basically a step-out balcony that can be totally enclosed in glass for bad weather or wind. Unlike most river cruise ships with balconies, Scenic does not take away ANY space from the stateroom when adding balconies. Sun lounges will be retro-fitted to the entire fleet (except Scenic Emerald). Moroney also announced a number of technical ship upgrades including a “silent drive” system that significantly reduces noise and vibration, and a sophisticated and powerful air-conditioning system.

When it comes to river cruising, Scenic has really stepped up the game. A luxury product that no other line matches in terms of all-inclusive amenities.

To begin your river cruise planning, call us today! Expert river cruise knowledge and assistance at no extra cost to you!

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations located in Grand Forks, ND serving clients around the globe. We are RIVER CRUISE SPECIALISTS and we DO NOT CHARGE ANY FEES. You get expert advice, planning assistance and booking for the same or less than you would do things yourself. WE KNOW RIVER CRUISES!

Find out more at:  www.JollyMonVacations.com and www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

For questions and assistance contact Pete:

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Phone or text:  218-779-3050

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Scenic Crystal River Cruise Review: Part 5; The Tours

By Pete Larson, Owner of River Cruise Guru and Jolly Mon Vacations

We are River Cruise Specialists! Your free vacation planning source!

One of the best things about river cruising, is that many things are included in your overall price. Different cruise lines offer different amenities and inclusions so when you compare them…look into it closely. Something as simple as GRATUITIES or TRANSFERS not included can end up costing hundreds of dollars more in your final price. All companies are NOT the same which makes it difficult to know where to turn. My advice is to look for a RIVER CRUISE SPECIALIST because they know the cruise lines and what they each provide. Why reinvent the wheel when you can get FREE PROFESSIONAL HELP from a proven TRUSTED source?

Shore tours or excursions are included on almost all mainstream river cruise lines. AMA Waterways, Uniworld, Avalon, Viking, Scenic and many more include tours. Some of these lines offer your CHOICE of tours in some locations. This means you get to select from some different offerings that interest you most. Scenic Tours has offered this for years but now Avalon has a choice as well. Many of these cruise lines also offer OPTIONAL tours which you will have to pay EXTRA for but Scenic Cruises does not. In my opinion, they have one of the most all-inclusive river cruises out there. Next year, they WILL have the most all-inclusive product as they introduce many more inclusions such as butler service on all decks, private airport transfers and open bar to name a few.

On this Rhine River trip, we took advantage of each tour offered. Our first tour was a walking tour in the city of Cologne, Germany. When you leave the ship for a tour you are free to pick a group number. This way, you can be sure to be with your friends or family. Tour guides meet you at the gangway and then you go from there for walking tours. You will bring your QuietVox headset so you can hear the guide no matter where you are. This is nice if you are distracted by something or linger to take photos because you won’t miss anything.

The walking tours move around at a slow pace and on this one it was pouring rain so we made frequent stops under shelter. It’s a good idea to bring an umbrella so you don’t get your camera wet when you want a picture. Scenic Tours provides a large umbrella in your room for your use which is very handy. Most of our city tours lasted around an hour and took us to the main attractions. In Cologne, the main site is the famous Cathedral. This gothic cathedral is a masterpiece! The detail when you get up close is incredible. Inside, the acoustics and stained glass windows are amazing. There is no charge to go inside and it’s well worth a visit. After our walking tour we had a little free time to shop or do whatever you like.

Cologne Cathedral – Copyright River Cruise Guru

Scenic Tours is one of the few companies that own their own coaches to move guests around in. This is really nice because the coaches are always on time, in great condition and they will do everything the company needs them to do.

We went up the Moselle River to Cochem for our next stop. We took a walking tour of the town and then took coaches up the mountain to Reichsburg Castle. What a beautiful vista from the top of this mountain! On this day, the castle’s interior was closed to visitors. No

Cochem, Germany – Copyright River Cruise Guru

problem for us, because the guides still have access to the castle and they took us inside. (leaving the sad non-cruisers outside) The castle is amazing and filled with beautiful treasures of the past.

Next stop was Bernkastel, where the mere mention of the name makes wine connoisseur’s hearts beat faster! This town is the center of the vineyards of the Moselle Valley and they line the slate river banks for many miles. In Bernkastel, you could choose either a tour of the quaint city, a trip to Trier (the oldest city in Germany) or ride an hour and a half to Luxembourg. This is called a SCENIC FREE CHOICE and you must make your choice the day before so they can organize transportation. We chose Trier because the robe that Jesus is said to have worn during crucifixion was on display and we wanted to see it. This robe has only been displayed 17 times in over

Trier Cathedral – Copyright River Cruise Guru

2,000 years so this was an event NOT to be missed. Once we arrived in Trier for our walking tour, we cut away from the group and ventured out on our own. When we arrived at the cathedral to see the display there was a German mass going on. We watched the end of the mass and then proceeded through the sea of people to see the robe. I think everyone in that room was in total awe at what we were seeing and I can’t really explain how I felt standing there looking at it. It was one of those ‘awe’ moments you will never forget though.

Afterward, we walked around The Market Place, tried some apple strudel and visited the Porta Nigra which is a fortified gateway built by the Romans in the second century AD. It was a great visit to Trier despite the onslaught of rain.

Rüdesheimer Schloss Hotel – Copyright River Cruise Guru

Rüdesheim was the last stop for us and where this new beautiful ship would be christened in a grand ceremony later in the day. We disembarked the ship and checked into the Rüdesheimer Schloss Hotel right off the world-famous Drosselgasse. This is a lively area where you can shop, eat or hit the wine bars. We had a great German dinner at the Hotel Lindenwirt’s restaurant and wine bar that was delicious. Scenic Tours also provided transportation via train to the Siegfried’s Musikkabinett (Museum of mechanical music instruments) with admission as well as tickets to the cable car although we opted to tour on our own.

We headed to the cable car and rode to the Niederwalddenkmal at the top of the mountain. The view of the Rhine, the vineyards and the city below was nothing short of incredible. The Niederwalddenkmal is a statue commemorating the foundation of the German Empire. The statue was under construction during our visit and was very hard to see. The highlight was surely the view and the deer we saw run up the staircase to the statue!

Overall, the included tours on this Scenic Cruise were excellent. Guides and drivers did a great job and the attractions were top-notch. Free time was included at each stop and sometimes the stops seem a little short. Our cruise was on an accelerated pace because this itinerary was for travel agents, Scenic staff and press however.

Part 6 will follow this soon.

 

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Uniworld Cruise Line Wins Best Dining

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Uniworld Wins Best Dining at
the Cruise International Awards

Uniworld Boutique River
Cruise Collection has won Best for Dining category at the Cruise International Awards.
The awards ceremony, which took place in London this month, was the first ever
held by Cruise International Magazine to celebrate the best of the best in the
cruise industry. Importantly, the fact that winners were voted for by the
cruise-going consumer is a tribute to the exceptional quality and service
Uniworld offers its guests.

Uniworld began the ceremony by picking up the first award of the evening in the
Best for Dining Category. Uniworld was recognized for its Zagat-rated
restaurants and dining, for not just one specific restaurant, but for the
impeccably high dining standards it has achieved across its 14-strong fleet,
beating some of the cruise world’s most well known companies across ocean and
river cruises.

According to Guy Young, President of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection,
“Winning in the Best for Dining Category is a testament to the dedication
and work of Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, President and founder of our sister company,
Red Carnation Hotels, and who is heavily involved in the direction of interior
design and fine dining for Uniworld; Bernhard Zorn, Culinary Director of
Uniworld; the executive team; the individual chefs; the food and beverage
managers; and all the staff of Uniworld, who go above and beyond to ensure our
guests enjoy a first class dining experience on all our river cruise
ships.”

Uniworld provides guests with gourmet cuisine using fresh regional food sourced
locally and inspired by the appropriate season and region of the itinerary, and
paired with a selection of complimentary fine wines chosen by Red Carnation
Hotel’s acclaimed sommelier Eric Zwiebel.

As further commitment to the fine dining offered by Uniworld, the company
offers the Epicurean Adventurer Program™ available across 17 itineraries, and
designed to take food and wine lovers deeper into the world of wine and food
amidst awe-inspiring scenery.

Further to winning the Best for Dining award, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
also came ‘highly recommended’ in the Best River Cruise Category. As the Uniworld
brand is just a year old in the UK, to be recognised in such a way by the
consumer is a testament to the commitment and high levels of service shown by
all staff.

Call your ‘Uniworld River Cruise Specialist’ -The River Cruise Guru today!

We’ll find you the best price and we don’t charge any fees. FREE SERVICE! Leave your river cruise planning to a professional!

River Cruise Specialist, Pete:  218-779-3050

Email:  pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Website:  www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations:  www.JollyMonVacations.com

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Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Ships 2011

Hello from the River Cruise Guru and Jolly Mon Vacations!

Here is some real exciting news from Uniworld!

In 2011, Uniworld will launch three NEW beautiful boutique cruise ships:

  • The ultra-luxurious S.S. Antoinette will sail on our very popular “Castles along the Rhine” itinerary and will elevate the standard of river cruising.

S.S. Antoinette Stateroom

 

The Douro Spirit—the premiere ship on the Douro River—will sail Portugal and Spain’s spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-designated Douro River Valley, and every stateroom will feature a French balcony.

  • The lovely River Victoria will take our guests to the treasure trove of architectural and cultural gems of our “Imperial Waterways of Russia” itinerary with all staterooms on the top two decks having full balconies.

Similar to our entire fleet, these ships will offer an exceptional, unrivaled river cruise experience for our guests who want to enjoy the best sights in Europe and Russia in world-class comfort. In addition, Uniworld will have completed the remodeling of our entire fleet in 2011 with the final three being River Ambassador, River Baroness, and River Princess.

For FREE assistance in choosing, comparing and booking a river cruise, please contact Pete at  The River Cruise Guru. We are river cruise SPECIALISTS, and we are standing by to asssit you. Full service travel counselor and River Cruise Specialists.

Pete:  pete@rivercruiseguru.com

218-779-3050

The River Cruise Guru & Jolly Mon Vacations

www.jollymonvacations.com

www.rivercruiseguru.com

Contact us today to get started on YOUR dream river cruise!

Europe, China, Russia…destination anywhere!

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New River Cruise Ships for 2011

New River Cruise Ships  for 2011

Uniworld River Cruises’ River Antoinette, which will launch in March on the Rhine River, will have a 20-by-13-foot, heated swimming pool and glass-enclosed balconies. The River Antoinette, sister ship to the River Beatrice, will be the largest ship in Uniworld’s fleet at 443 feet in length and 37.5 feet wide. Most of the 73 staterooms will be 196 square feet, and 20 staterooms will be 163 square feet. There will be eight junior suites measuring 294 square feet each and one owner’s suite at 391 square feet. The River Antoinette will sail Uniworld’s Castles Along the Rhine itinerary.

This year, Viking River Cruises said it was investing $250 million to build eight new ships over the next three years. The first of those new ships, the 264-passenger Viking Emerald, will replace the Viking Century Sun on China’s Yangtze River in 2011. The Emerald will be 361 feet long, and will have 128 staterooms, including 2 presidential suites that will measure 840 square feet each. All staterooms will have a balcony with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.

Viking Emerald

April

Uniworld is introducing a newbuild in Portugal in April, the 128-passenger Duoro Spirit, which will replace the 126-passenger Duoro Queen on Uniworld’s Portugal, Spain and Duoro River Valley itinerary. Uniworld will have a long-term charter on the Duoro Spirit, which is being built at the Navalria shipyard in Portugal by the ship’s owner, Douro Azul.

May

In May, Avalon Waterways is unveiling the Avalon Panorama, which will feature 64 newly-designed, 200-square-foot suites on the top two decks. Each suite will have a seating area adjacent to an 11-foot wide, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic window. The suites will be in addition to 17 staterooms on the lower deck that measure 172 square feet each. Avalon employed a new interior-design team to tackle the Panorama’s design features, which include marble bathrooms, new Avalon-branded bedding called Comfort Collection by Avalon and love seats in the suites.

Also in May, Uniworld will unveil the 206-passenger River Victoria on the Volga River. Uniworld signed a five-year deal to charter the Russian river ship, which is being completely refurbished. Series of three cabins will be combined into two, which will create cabins ranging in size from 135 to 210 square feet. There will be 10 suites.

The River Victoria will be joined on the Volga by the newly renovated 212-passenger Amakatarina. AMAWATERWAYS has signed a five-year lease agreement with the ship’s owner, Russian company Vodohod. The Amakatarina will replace Ama’s existing leased vessel in Russia, the 160-passenger Tolstoy. The ship is being stripped entirely and is being converted from a 400-passenger to a 212-passenger vessel with 106 cabins, 76 of which will feature balconies.

July

Viking Prestige

Viking’s new 188-passenger Viking Prestige will sail the 8-day Romantic Danube sailing from Budapest to Nuremberg (and the reverse). It is being built at the Neptun Shipyard in Rostock, Germany. It is being built with ecologically friendly engines, suites that measure 310 square feet, and French balconies on the upper and middle decks.

August

Tauck World Discovery is back in the shipbuilding game too, with the new 118-passenger Treasures scheduled to set sail in August. Currently under construction at the Vahali Shipyards in Gendt, the Netherlands, Treasures will feature new beds and an enhanced cabin décor, both of which Tauck is implementing fleet-wide for 2011. The ship will sail on five different Tauck itineraries throughout Europe.

September

AMALotus

AMAWATERWAYS is launching its second Mekong River ship next year. The 124-passenger Amalotus — which will make stops in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, Cambodia — will have standard cabins that will be 226 square feet, 10 junior suites that will be 290 square feet and two suites will be 452 square feet each. Like with its first 94-passenger Mekong ship La Marguerite, Ama Waterways will have partial ownership in the Amalotus as well.

River Cruising is the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry, and it shows. Book your river cruise with a certified River Cruise Expert:  The River Cruise Guru, pete@rivercruiseguru.com or 218-779-3050. Get your ‘river cruise’ on!

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations…destination anywhere.

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Pete Larson,

Owner/President