Sell clients a cruise with what they’ll do off, rather than on, board, says Jane Archer
One of the main reasons people take a cruise is for the joy of waking up in a new destination each day. Research tells us this time and again.
Rome, Florence, Barcelona, New York: all have well-known highlights that have made them cruise favourites. But suppose you give customers – both those who have cruised before and those who normally prefer to keep two feet firmly on land – another reason to sail these top spots?
To dine in the world-famous Alain Ducasse restaurant in the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, maybe? Or to imbibe a Bellini in Harry’s Bar in Venice or drink vodka from ice glasses in the Ice Bar in Stockholm? You could introduce them to the jet-set life on a cruise around the French Riviera or send them star gazing on location-spotting tours in New York.
Customers could be chasing Angels and Demons around Rome, following in the footsteps of Gaudi in Barcelona, seeing Michelangelo’s David and Renaissance art in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Florence. Find an itinerary that visits all three ports and you have a perfect cultural cruise.
For customers interested in war history, there are voyages in 2014 linked to two major events: the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in the Second World War. Want some more ideas? Read on.
Europe is bursting with art, architecture and history; combine that with the huge number of cruises available and you can be sure that whatever interests your clients, there is a voyage to suit.
In Rome, there’s Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the striking but controversial Altare della Patria monument in honour of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy, and the Pantheon, which, 2,000 years after it was built, still boasts the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
In Barcelona, there’s the Museo Picasso, while Gaudi fans can visit Park Güell, the unfinished Sagrada Familia and quirky Casa Batlló. Touristactive.com offers 3.5-hour Gaudi tours each day.
Oceania Cruises has a 10-day Mediterranean Serenade itinerary, from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, departing on August 27, 2014, that visits Rome and Florence, from £2,196 including flights.
In the Baltic, Celebrity Cruises has voyages from Amsterdam, where clients can see Dutch old masters in the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, and visit the Hermitage in St Petersburg, home of one of the world’s greatest art collections.
Alternatively, you can pair Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris with a trip to the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has an 11-night round-trip voyage from Rosyth on September 3, 2014, that visits Le Havre (for Paris) and Gexto (for Bilbao), from £899 cruise-only.
New York and London are top of the list when it comes to dining, but clients can indulge their taste buds in leading restaurants in the Mediterranean and Baltic now more cruise lines are staying overnight in top cities so passengers can experience life after dark.
Crystal Cruises has a seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, with an overnight in each city at the start and end of the trip. Tickets (ticketsbar.es), a modern tapas bar in Barcelona, has received rave reviews; in Monte Carlo, there’s the highly regarded Le Louis XV (alain-ducasse.com) in the Hotel de Paris.
In the Baltic, Azamara Club Cruises has a 10-night Baltic Rendezvous voyage on July 17, 2014, that starts with a night in Stockholm, where clients can dine at Restaurant Frantzén (restaurantfrantzen.com/en), number 12 on Restaurant magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, or get their chills in the icebar in the Nordic Sea Hotel (icebarstockholm.se). The cruise ends in Copenhagen, where they can add a night and dine in Noma (noma.dk), number two on the best restaurant list. Fly-cruise prices from £3,159.
Caught on film
Both Rome and Florence have tours in the footsteps of Dan Brown’s fictional hero Robert Langdon, chasing Angels and Demons (angelsanddemons. it) in Rome (€56 for four hours) and the origins of a biological plague in the Inferno tour (€75 for 7.5 hours) in Florence (florenceinferno.com). In Venice, clients can create their own tour taking in sites made famous by films such as Death in Venice, The Talented Mr Ripley and The Tourist.
Princess Cruises has a 12 day Grand Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Venice, visiting Livorno (for Florence), Civitavecchia (Rome) and staying overnight in Venice, from £1,399 cruise-only departing July 1.
New York and Boston are other film tour favourites (onlocation. com), with trips dedicated to hotspots made famous in Sex and the City, When Harry met Sally, Glee and Home Alone 2 in the Big Apple, and a four-hour Sopranos sites tour in the New Jersey suburbs. In Boston, you can walk the ‘Movie Mile’ and see locations from Good Will Hunting, Ally McBeal – and, of course, have a drink at Cheers bar.
Holland America Line has a 10-night Colours of Canada and New England cruise from Quebec City on September 24 that visits Boston and ends in New York, where passengers can have a day or more before flying home, from £1,399 cruise-only.
June 2014 marks 70 years since Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches in an operation that proved to be the start of the end of the Second World War. Two months later, next August, it will be 100 years since the start of the First World War.
Companies including Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Voyages of Discovery, Fred Olsen Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises have D-Day anniversary cruises that visit Normandy on June 6, while Shearings has six and seven night battlefields-themed river cruises on the Dutch and Belgian Waterways and the Rhine between May and July and again in November.
Swan Hellenic has a 13-day Reflections of France itinerary on June 4 that visits Ypres and the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium, and Caen and the D-Day landing beaches in France. Prices are from £2,250 including flights, transfers, shore excursions and gratuities.
Science is golden
Everyone knows Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Italian cities near Naples destroyed when Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, but there are other volcanoes for budding geologists to tick off on a cruise through Greece and Italy.
Santorini as it looks today was created by a massive volcanic eruption that split one horseshoe-shaped island into three. Now visitors can climb to the top of the volcano. There’s Mount Etna on Sicily, Lipari and Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands, created by volcano eruptions thousands of centuries ago, and Stromboli, which is still active. Passengers are often treated to nature’s own fireworks show as ships sail past.
Variety Cruises offers seven-night Dolce Vita cruises round-trip from Malta from April to October that visit Lipari, Vulcano and Catania, for excursions to Mount Etna, and sails past Stromboli, from €1,850 cruise-only
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