Just two weeks into 2024, The Meandering Traveler has sifted through news and developments on the travel scene. Here’s a fun, snapshot “read” about some of the best travel news tidbits by land and sea for the new year ahead!
Shown in the photo above is Luxor’s “Avenue of the Sphinxes.” Photo by A&K. Keep reading to find out what’s happening on the Nile River!)
1. Best Travel News Tidbit: Azamara Close to Home
Typically, Azamara sails to far-flung points across the globe. So, for travelers who seek to sail this destination-intensive line closer to home and avoid overseas flights, the line recently unveiled new 2025 North American voyages.
But this week, the upper premium line also unveiled two new 2024 options on the __-passenger Azamara Journey. So, if you’re thinking of a fall vacation, check out these new options:
- 12-Night Canada/New England Voyage (October 12, 2024): On this itinerary from Boston, MA, to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, travelers can wander Boston’s historic streets, discover Maine’s coastal cities, and explore Nova Scota and Newfoundland in the Canadian Maritime Provinces. They’ll also experience Quebec’s Saguenay Fjord and stay overnight in Quebec City. Fares start at $1,899 per person, double occupancy.
- 15-Night Canada and Colonial America Voyage (October 24, 2024): Embarking from Montreal, travelers will explore Quebec City, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before making their way along the American East Coast. This voyage cruises the Cape Cod Canal, spends 14 hours in New York City, and visits quaint seaside spots like Newport, RI, and Charleston, SC, before concluding in Miami. Cruise fares start at $2,319 per person, double occupancy.
What’s good to know about Azamara? This upper premium line has a hefty destination immersion focus. In addition, it’s highly port intensive. So, just click on the itinerary links above and you’ll see the complete list of port calls and details about those. Any questions? Ask a skilled personal travel planner.
2. Best Travel News: Florida Keys Launches Eco-Experience Trail Pass
We’re intrigued by a new eco-option in the Florida Keys, particularly since this time of year is a prime time for vacations or day trips there. Here’s the scoop: The Monroe County Tourist Development Council has just launched a mobile-exclusive digital Florida Keys Eco-Experience Trail pass.
It features nearly 50 free geo-tagged, bookable experiences such as visiting Keys eco-attractions, taking a backcountry kayak tour or exploring the island chain’s wildlife refuges and state parks. The goal is to promote activities that engage travelers with the Keys‘ sustainability initiatives.
So, if you’re visiting the Keys and like eco-outings, definitely give it a try. You’ll discover unique nature tours, wildlife centers and refuges, coral restoration opportunities and fishing, diving and snorkeling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. For more information, check out this official Florida Keys site.
3. Best Travel News Tidbit: 3rd Ritz-Carlton Yacht
As the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection unveiled its summer 2025 itineraries, the company also opened bookings for its third superyacht, the 452-guest Luminara. That’s a new sister to Evrima and Ilma. Derived from Latin origin, the name Luminara means “light.”
Measuring 794 feet in length, the sleek new yacht will feature 226 spacious suites, each with a private oceanview terrace. Luminara will also offer a higher percentage of upper-suite categories than the Collection’s other yachts. We’re most excited about seeing the spacious, new Residential Suite; talk to your personal travel planner about all the accommodations options.
Inspired by light and luminescence, Luminara‘s design will emphasize elegance and sophistication. A serene color palette of soft brown oak, Calcutta marble, leather accents, and touches of rich red, navy, and green will provide an elegant oasis at sea.
Sailing aboard the new Luminara, guests will also discover world-class dining, a wine vault, The Ritz-Carlton Spa, and an expanded marina providing direct access to the sea. The elegant yacht will also offer an inviting pool area (similar to that in the photo below).
The 2025 Summer Season
For the fleet’s 2025 summer season — from April through October — Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will present 53 itineraries, featuring many new ports of call. In addition, there are nine new voyages planned aboard Ilma in Northern Europe.
Shore excursions? During its 2025 season, guests traveling to Palma de Mallorca can book a private helicopter tour to a wine tasting at the foot of Mallorca’s mountain region. Guests in Livorno, Italy, can sail the city’s canals in a boat exclusively for the line’s guests, before disembarking for a mixology class.
In addition, panoramic views of Portofino Bay await voyagers “lunching”at the elegant Hotel Splendido. Guests will savor traditional Italian dishes, paired with one of Italy’s most precious ingredients — olive oil.
In summer 2025, the new Luminara will sail two, seven-night Rome roundtrip voyages and a seven-night Barcelona roundtrip. On the latter, guests will have two days to explore Rome. They’ll also be able to kayak along the Ligurian coastline and explore the scenic countryside around Collioure that inspired such artists as Matisse and Picasso.
4. Best Travel News: A&K’s Fifth Nile Vessel
Abercrombie & Kent announced that it’s building a new Nile River vessel — its fifth in Egypt — to debut in 2025.
Drawing on four decades of Nile cruising expertise, A&K has designed the boat with all the facilities and services of a high-end floating hotel. Guests will dine at two onboard restaurants, both indoor and outdoor; cuisine will feature locally sourced ingredients.
In addition, the new river vessel will offer a spa, a gym, elegant social spaces and a swimming pool. The ship’s sundeck will be a spot for relaxation between excursions to ancient sites and cultural programming.
Right now, the name of the new Nile vessel is a secret. A&K says that will be revealed in the coming months.
Egypt is certainly a popular river cruising region. The Meandering Traveler recently blogged about Viking christening its newest Nile vessel, Viking Aton. We also chatted with readers about AmaDahlia, an AmaWaterways vessel on the Nile.
Speaking about its new river boat, A&K says that the living quarters will far surpass typical standards for luxury Egyptian river cruises. Look for suites that are generously proportioned and well-appointed.
Guests will stay in 32 cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows and Juliet balconies above the water. Accommodations will feature marble bathrooms and 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Looking for the ultimate in luxury? Two presidential suites will be unprecedented in size and luxurious appointments. Each will offer an outdoor hot tub on the suite’s private deck.
A History in Egypt
A&K has a longstanding relationship with the Nile. In 1977, A&K Group founder Geoffrey Kent was inspired by an encounter with David Niven on the set of “Death on the Nile.” The result was the company’s first Nile River cruise.
Currently, the company operates four boutique river boats on the Nile: Nile Adventurer, Sun Boat III, Sun Boat IV and Zein Nile Chateau. Construction has already begun on the new river boat at Massara Shipyard in Egypt. The ship will launch in fall 2025.
“We pioneered luxury Nile cruises more than four decades ago,” says Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group. “Every year we continue to further elevate this enchanting voyage, with extraordinary experiences at every stage of the journey, accompanied by Egyptologists and storytellers to bring Egypt’s luminous history to life.”
A&K’s well-connected network of experts within Egypt can arrange anything from private after-hours access inside the Pyramids of Giza to intimate dinners inside ancient temples. For more details, visit Abercrombie & Kent or talk with your travel advisor to learn more.
5. Best Travel News Tidbit: North to Alaska
Look for a robust 2024 Alaska cruise season with many new travel options. Cruise Lines International Association Alaska (CLIA Alaska) projects that in 2024, 1.6 million passengers will sail to and within Alaska. Now is a superb time to plan for a summer vacation in The Great Land!
Cruise enthusiasts have a choice of 55 or so vessels of all types. They’ll sail approximately 700 voyages. Notable new ships to the state will include Silversea Cruises‘ new Silver Nova, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge and many others.
Crystal Cruises is also returning to Alaska in 2024 featuring eight itineraries aboard its freshly refurbished Crystal Serenity.
Did you know that Princess Cruises is celebrating its 55th anniversary in Alaska? “The Love Boat” line will operate seven ships on 158 departures, including those of its newest ship, Discovery Princess.
Guests can choose from 14 Princess itineraries and 17 destinations, featuring the return of the popular 17-night Ultimate Princess Connoisseur cruisetour.
Also an Alaska veteran line, Holland America Line is headlining its 2024 Alaska cruise season with a new 28-day Arctic Circle itinerary that includes 12 Alaska ports. That’s complemented by 14-day voyages and 117 weeklong journeys across six different ships.
Best Travel News Tidbit: Expert Advice and Great Pricing
“Choice rules, but there are so many cruise options in Alaska this year, that it’s tough for consumers to pick the right voyage, on the right ship and to the right destinations within America’s Last Frontier,” acknowledges Shelby Steudle, president, Pavlus Travel. “Your personal travel planner can suggest the right cruise or land getaway to match your personal vacation style, personality and activity desires.”
Another Steudle tip? For the best deals, sign up for Pavlus’ email newsletter, which spotlights great pricing on a multitude of cruise and travel options. Readers can sign up by simply adding their email to the sign-up box on the top right corner of the Pavlus Travel website.
Happy travels in 2024 or beyond!
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