MY TRAVEL BUCKET LIST; PROBLEMS AND PANACEAS

I think most people consider the idea of a ‘bucket list’ of things they would like to do, experiences that they would like to try or, most often, places they would like to see as part of some kind of ‘greatest hits’ highlights of their lives. Once achieved and ‘ticked off’, these things mark our progress through life like so many emotional lightning rods. They connect us to those moments when we raised our game, rose above the everyday, and went for the things that really mattered on some deep, undeniable level to ourselves, rather than just being blindly channelled and herded in some direction by the people and events swirling around us.

Trust me, travel writers are no different. The more I see of the world, the more I realise how little that I have actually seen. It’s like peeling an onion; once you begin, you suddenly realise that you’ve embarked on a mission that’s going to take forever. And, in terms of travel, that’s a shockingly good analogy- though not one I can take credit for.

The one thing I have come to realise about my ‘bucket list’ is that I am going to need a bigger bucket. I had naively assumed that, by this phase of my life, I would have ticked all my main boxes, lived my dreams, done my share of smiling in the sunshine. And, up to a point, I have.

But by it’s very nature, travel is not about standing or sitting still, is it?

So, I got to considering the things that I would still like to do and, purely in a spirit of fantastical conjecture, here are a couple of things that I’m flinging without either fear, shame, or the vaguest concept of when- or even if they might ever happen- into my bucket. Here we go….

SAILING DOWN TO RIO

Rio. Just say it. It rolls off your tongue like a Salsa parade, and tastes as damned fine as the most potent caipirinha. Sultry, alluring, sun kissed and stunning, Rio is one of the great, must see destinations of the world.

But flying there? Nah. Not for moi….

Such an epic destination should be the climax of an epic odyssey. And, of all the cities on the planet, the great sea-city that is Rio De Janeiro deserves to be approached in the most dramatic and apt way possible. From the sea….

Consider even the idea of sailing from Italy in late October, just as Europe begins to sag into yet another cold, melancholy, pre winter gloom. Take some big, spectacular Italian cruise ship and set out through the Mediterranean. Swing out west, through the Pillars of Hercules, and set course for the Canary Islands, the open Atlantic and, at the end of all that, landfall in South America.

Imagine the days getting longer, warmer and more welcoming as you unwind on board, surging south west over the Equator. And, at journey’s end, there is the hallowed, matchless approach to the great city itself. In, past the looming bulk of Corcovado, past Sugar Loaf Mountain, and into that stunning bay. An epic journey that cries out to be achieved in epic style. And, let’s face it- you can’t scrimp on something as sassy, sultry and downright dramatic as that.

ACROSS AMERICA BY RAIL

Now this one is arguably the daddy of them all…

I’d fly straight to Los Angeles, stay for a couple of nights on the venerable old Queen Mary, and take in a few days of the fresh, vital sunshine on Manhattan Beach, before boarding one of those fantastic, implausible, double decker Amtrak trains for the ultimate voyage; coast to coast, with a series of spectacular city stays en route.

Over a couple of weeks, I’d watch the vast, natural smorgasbord of North America unfold from my seat like a succession of spectacular drum rolls. Mountain ranges and rolling prairies, great gushing rivers and tracts of bone dry desert. Great, concrete forests of glass and steel…

We’ll roll across mighty bridges and into flaring purple and yellow sunsets. And, like fantastic exclamation marks, I’d take a couple of nights in, say, sultry, sassy New Orleans and cool, classy Chicago. Anyone detecting a bit of a jazzy vibe here?

There would be time in beautiful, patrician Philadelphia before the final arrival in the greatest city in the world- New York. And, as the train shuddered to a halt at Penn Station, there would surely be the feeling of having completed an epic adventure.

But that is not the end of it. Oh, no. My sense of wanderlust is a bit gilt edged these days. And, in one final flourish, I would take the Queen Mary 2 back to Southampton.

Think about that; seven lazy, languid, highly styled days on the last great Atlantic liner, making the most timeless and peerless of all voyages. Unburdened with ports of call or any other diversion, I would have seven full days to absorb the full, magnificent scale of the entire trip.

In the words of the great Al Green; simply beautiful.

So; what floats your boat, then?

QM2. Because second best is sometimes just not good enough.

QM2. Because second best is sometimes just not good enough.

HIGH OLD STYLE; CROSSING THE ATLANTIC IN THE THIRTIES

In the Jet Age, it seems unfathomable to remember that, only eight decades ago, commerical travel between Europe and North America was almost strictly a seagoing businees. Week in and out, over a dozen of the world’s largest liners would sail from ports like Southampton, Le Havre, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam and Genoa, bound west for a fast, four day crossing before the first sight of that fabulous New York skyline.

In the meantime, perhaps another dozen or so prestige liners would be heading in the other direction, laden with passengers bound for the hot spots of a continent already twitching more and more uneasily at the bellicose sabre rattling of the fascist dictators, Hitler, Mussolini and, from 1936, Francisco Franco as well. But, with the depression finally fading away, for the Atlantic liners it was more or less business as usual.

These were the days of the so called ‘Ships of State’, when almost every major nation had it’s own flag carriers on the Atlantic crossing. Each of these vessels was intended to embody all of the best characteristics- both real and fondly imagined- of the mother country. And, for many booking on the Atlantic crossing in the thirties, these traits often played a big part in their decision of which ship to book.

For instance, the great Italian sisters, Rex and Conte Di Savoia, sailed from Genoa to New York and back, via Cannes and Gibraltar. A large part of their voyages were spent in calm, sunny waters, and so the two ships sported vast, umbrella strewn outdoor lido decks, with swimming pools surrounded by real sand. They offered that quintessentially Italian ‘dolce vita’ lifestyle afloat. For many contemplating the voyage to or from Southern Europe, these two great Italian ocean goddesses were the natural choice.

From Germany, the marvellous twin miracles known as Bremen and Europa continued to make the crossing to and from North America with almost military precision. It was an Atlantic proverb that German liners always offered the best cabin service of any line. Crisp, modern, and suffused with almost brutally chic Bauhaus interiors, the Bremen and Europa first suffered from the effects of the depression. Later, when the market had recovered somewhat, they again suffered unfairly by their associations with the nascent Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. In an act of supreme irony, the bodies of the Hindenburg crash victims, bedecked in swastika flags, were returned to the fatherland on board the eastbound Europa in May of 1937.

Few ships were as true to their national traits as the 1938 built Nieuw Amsterdam. She was small by the standards of the day- only 38,000 tons- and had no intention of running for the Blue Riband. But she was immaculate both inside and out- a spotless, splendid high point of maritime styling and elegance. It was bruited by the great Basil Woon that ‘a speck of dirt on a Dutch ship would be enough to make the Chief Steward commit suicide’ and, while that might be slightly over the top, it certainly went a long way to describing the atmosphere that existed on this marvellous ship. Defying time, tide, and even war, the ‘Darling of the Dutch’ would sail on until the 1970’s; a quite incredible feat.

Of course, the two great ‘front runners’ of the 1930’s were the Queen Mary and the Normandie. They were of similar size- 80,000 tons- and speed. Both ships could cross the Atlantic in four days and, for four years, they played ping pong with the speed record, as it passed back and forth between the two. But, ultimately, there were only minutes’ difference in the crossing times each racked up in those heady days. Eventually, it came down more to the national characteristics that each ship was perceived to offer.

Second out of the blocks after her French rival, the Queen Mary was panelled in literally hudreds of different kinds of beautiful woods. She was all chunky armchairs, linoleum flooring and feverish lighting, with Odeon and Art Deco motifs and overlays. A direct, dignified yet obvious descendant of the Mauretania and Aquitania, she was at once both stately and familiar, but on a scale never seen before on a British passenger liner.

Beore the war, she was mainly the ship of choice for the right of centre crowd; the sort of people that were said to prefer to do business with Hitler rather than Stalin. In those days, she was never famed as a late night party ship.

The Normandie could not have been more different. Internally, she was an Art Deco temple on a lavish, unparalled scale. She was unrealistic, uneconomic, and utterly magnificent.

In first class, the evening menu routinely listed some three hundred and twenty five separate items. Table wine was always free aboard the Normandie, where it was considered an important part of the meal. And, though the great bulk of her passengers were American, announcements on board were first made always in French.

The Normandie attracted a passenger load that was the polar opposite of her great rival. It was a mostly left wing crowd, leavened out with a regular, eminent roster of Hollywood movie stars. They could, and often did, party through until the early morning hours.

One passenger- English as it happened- summed up the two great ships with matchless brevity; “In my opinion, the Queen Mary is a grand Englishwoman in sportswear, and the Normandie is a very pretty French girl in an evening gown.”

These, then, were the great, palatial paragons that dominated the North Atlantic in those last, uneasy years of peace. The firestorm that would follow would put all but three of them to the sword. And the post war shape of ocean travel- glamorous as it was- would never be quite the same again.

The Atlantic crossing in the 1930's was the greatest commuter highway in the world

The Atlantic crossing in the 1930’s was the greatest commuter highway in the world

THOMSON CRUISES ADDS SPLENDID DISCOVERY

Thomson |Cruises has announced that it’s new acquisition, to be renamed Thomson Discovery, will be based in the Mediterranean in June, 2016,  following a refurbishment and corporate rebranding.

The ship, currently sailing as Royal Caribbean’s 1996-built Splendour Of The Seas, is twice as large as any other ship in the current Thomson fleet, and comes in at around 70,000 tons. And- in a first for the UK side of the company- Thomson will own a ship with around 40 per cent of cabins that have private balconies.

As previously predicted on this blog, the ship will be based in Palma De Mallorca for a first season, sailing on four alternating seven day itineraries. Ports of call will feature all of the front rank ‘Meddy-Go-Round’ favourite destinations such as Rome, Florence, Villefranche, Barcelona and Cadiz.

With a capacity of 1,830 passengers accommodated in some 915 cabins, the addition of Thomson Discovery to the Thomson portfolio allows the line considerable options to shuffle what will now be a five ship fleet pack. The ship will replace the ageing island Escape- ironically, another ex Royal Caribbean ship which has been routinely laid up for the last few winter seasons.

While the company has yet to announce plans for any winter deployment of this prime new product, I would bet on her going out to the Caribbean to sail out of Barbados. This would allow Thomson to offer a significantly upgraded product to compete with the big P&O vessels that sail winter round from the Caribbean port.

Naturally, time and tide will tell. As ever, stay tuned.

Thomson Discovery will be offering passengers such wonderful sighs as Pisa from June, 2016

Thomson Discovery will be offering passengers such wonderful sights as Pisa from June, 2016

MAIDEN VOYAGE! VIKING STAR SETS SAIL

in what must rank as the single most auspicious cruising debut of 2015, Viking Ocean Cruises’ first ocean going ship, the 47,800 ton Viking Star, has finally set sail on her ground breaking maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice.

The 930 guest ship is not so much a clear departure from the contemporary mega ship cruising style so much as an about turn. The elegant, upscale ship draws an unmistakable bead on the former glories of the legendary, long redundant Royal Viking Line and it’s rival, Norwegian America Line.

Scaling down the size of the ship has instantly enhanced the level of intimacy and interaction between guests and staff, resulting in a far more personalised, highly styled environment. Viking Star deliberately eschews a slew of glitzy diversions to offer travellers a more full on, immersive cruise experience overall. The ship will place great emphasis on longer, often overnight stays in port, with a free, comprehensive series of excursions on offer to people in each call.

Just as on board the same company’s slew of award winning river cruisers, wine, beer and soft drinks are free with lunch and dinner aboard the Viking Star, just as they will be on the two sister ships which are heading towards completion at the present time. An option for a fourth ship in the same class remains on the books.

With an elegant on board spa, sumptuous winter garden and a truly spectacular, aft facing infinity pool, the Viking Star has put the emphasis firmly on cool, highly styled Scandinavian luxe in the public areas. And Viking Star also joins a very exclusive club; one of only four in the entire industry to offer every stateroom on board with a private veranda.

This splendid new ship- beautifully crafted in every respect- is due to be formally christened in Oslo on May 17th- Constitution day in Norway.

As ever, stay tuned.

TITANIC 103 YEARS AGO; THE WORLD WAKES UP TO THE NEWS…..

“We have absolute faith in the Titanic. We believe that the boat is non-sinkable….”

These were the first words spoken in public by Phillip Franklin, the head of the White Star Line in the United States, in response to a series of alarming rumours that were beginning to circulate in New York and other cities.

Those rumours stated that the brand new Titanic, flagship of the White Star Line, had struck an iceberg en route to New York on her maiden voyage.

No one at first believed it. Wireless was in its infancy in those days. The last distress calls from the damaged liner had been cut off abruptly. The silence thereafter was deafening.

Gradually, a narrative gained momentum; the Titanic had, indeed, struck an iceberg, but all of the passengers had been put off safely in the boats. The Titanic herself was being towed by the Allan liner, Virginian, to the port of Halifax in Nova Scotia.

The White Star Line swept into action; a special train was hired to travel from New York, so that families of the passengers could be ushered quickly to Halifax to be reunited with their inbound loved ones. It set off full of hopeful, relieved souls.

Halfway through the Maine woods, the train was flagged down and stopped. By now, the world knew the awful truth.

The Titanic had gone down in the freezing Atlantic. Her only known survivors- some 700 souls- were aboard the Carpathia, and were actually en route to New York. The great liner had already been at the bottom for hours when Franklin made his hopeful, fatuous boast to an incredulous media.

The shock effect was seismic. Fifty seven millionaires had been on board, and now most of them were gone. The cold water culling of this group of platinum chip plutocrats had the inevitable knock on effect. The New York stock exchange almost followed the Titanic to the bottom.

Ironically, the simple, concise truth about what had befallen the ‘non-sinkable’ Titanic came, finally, from none other than her twin sister ship, the Olympic.

The end in sight, and the music is still playing.....

The end in sight, and the music is still playing…..

CARNIVAL INCREASE SHORT CRUISE CAPACITY IN MIAMI FOR 2016

With the arrival of Carnival Vista looming large for 2016, Carnival is shuffling the fleet pack for a number of its short, three and four night cruise itineraries over the course of 2016.

Carnival Sensation, long a Port Canaveral stalwart, will shift to Miami in February 2016. Her place on the three and four night Bahamas circuit out of that port will be taken by Carnival Victory, the second ship of the original, 100,000 ton Destiny class.

Once home ported in Miami, the Carnival Sensation will embark on a series of four and five night cruises from the Florida port. The four day cruises will all be Thursday departures, and will offer up ports such as the popular ‘private’ resort of Half Moon Cay, plus Nassau and the perennial favourites, Key West and Cozumel.

Five day cruises will depart each Monday, and will showcase such ports as the new development at Amber Cove, together with Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Turk, Cozumel, Nassau and Freeport.

Built in 1993 by Kvaerner Masa in Finland as the third of the original Fantasy class of mega ships, the Carnival Sensation carries around 2,000 passengers. Coming in at around 70,000 tons, she is a good size for these four and five day jaunts around the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The ship recently benefited from all the ‘Evolutions of Fun’ upgrades, and now also has some ninety-eight balcony cabins grafted onto the superstructure.

While the Carnival Sensation is not the newest or most amenity laden vessel in the Carnival portfolio, the vessel has all the bells and whistles needed for a short, invigorating jaunt. There is a spectacular, nine story atrium lobby complete with glass elevators and its own lobby bar, as well as an entire interior ‘boulevard’ of bars, shops and cafes. And, this being Carnival, the casino is huge, and constantly buzzing.

The ship also boasts the aft facing ‘Serenity’ adults-only area, featuring padded loungers, ambient music and a pair of whirlpools. A recently added water park, complete with slides and lots of splashy fun, will be more than enough to help keep the little ones occupied.

These short, destination intensive cruises are a worthwhile adventure in their on right. If you happen to be in Florida as part of a land package, grafting on one of these short itineraries to your stay is a cost effective, pretty inclusive way at gaining access to some safe, pretty little islands while also enjoying a slice of the sizzling nightlife and dining options that the Carnival brand is synonymous with.

Hit the highlights of the Bahamas and Caribbean aboard a sizzling Carnival 'Fun Ship'

Hit the highlights of the Bahamas and Caribbean aboard a sizzling Carnival ‘Fun Ship’

THE SUMMERTIME BALTIC- ROUND TRIP CRUISE OR FLY CRUISE?

The 2015 Baltic cruising season will kick off in the next few weeks, and cruise travellers from all over the world will once again be presented with an absolute glut of cruise and fly cruise opportunities to visit what is, without doubt, one of the most compulsive, mesmerising and stunningly beautiful cruise destinations anywhere on earth.

Several unique factors combine to give the Baltic a quite distinctive cachet; the long, almost endless summer daylight makes a spectacular backdrop for a host of fairy tale cities that look like scenes straight out of a Brothers Grimm tale.

There is Tallinn, with its squat castle turrets and clutch of copper plated spires looming against the sky, and cool, sophisticated Stockholm. Stately, French accented Saint Petersburg, just over three hundred years old and already suffused with an aura of turbulent, dramatic history second to none. Helsinki, breezy and beautiful, and bedecked with cool, cutting edge architecture and shopping. And, of course, there is Copenhagen, the rollicking, roisterous, fun capital of Scandinavia. Even Hans Christian Andersen himself would be dazzled by the dizzy parade of delights served up on any Baltic cruise itinerary these days.

And there is certainly no better way to appreciate such a sublime smorgasbord than from the comfort and all encompassing convenience of a cruise ship. In an adventure ranging from between seven and twelve days, you can take what amounts to a kind of floating fairground ride around the ‘greatest hits’ of the region, packing and unpacking only once, and revelling in some signature shipboard luxury en route. As ways to explore the region go, it’s unbeatable. An absolute no-brainer.

For the potential Baltic cruise pilgrim, there are two basic options. Many ships sail from the UK to the region from ports as diverse as Newcastle, Harwich, Dover and Southampton. Nearly all include an overnight in Saint Petersburg.

There are always at least three, perhaps even four, sea days on such cruises, which gives you time to chill out and take stock between sizzling ports of call. You neatly sidestep the summertime hell of regional airports on both sides of the continent. And, if you definitely have the luxury of time, then this is surely the best way to go.

On the other hand, if time away is a concern, you can always maximise your holiday by flying straight to Copenhagen and boarding a ship there for a week long sailing around the principal ports. You still get to see all the big names, thanks to Copenhagen’s brilliant geographical proximity to them, and you also usually- but not always- still get the overnight stay in Saint Petersburg, the city that most passengers consider to be the ‘crown jewel’ of the Baltic circuit.

Plus, if you’re really into seeing Copenhagen- and it is well worth seeing- you could even fly out a few days early for a pre cruise stay, or even extend your time there at the end of your voyage. Quite a smart option for those wanting more than just a conventional fly/cruise experience.

But… be aware that those week long, port intensive cruises pass at a truly spectacular rate of knots. There is little in the way of real relaxation as you soak up all that historic, gilded grandeur. And, for many, that has to be at least a part of any holiday decision.

To sum up, there is no ‘wrong’ way to cruise the summertime Baltic. It is simply a question of priorities, convenience and time available. For many, price will also be a key factor.

But however you choose to see these surreal, sumptuous, glittering cities that hem this most wondrous of northern seas, just enjoy them.

After all, that’s what we travel for. Bon voyage.

Helsinki's busy waterfront is one of the great highlights of a Baltic cruise

Helsinki’s busy waterfront is one of the great highlights of a Baltic cruise

FLASHBACK; 1935 SOUTHAMPTON DEATH ROW; MAURETANIA AND OLYMPIC

The maritime community in 1935 was awash with interest in the future. After a long, stagnant period of inactivity, work on the brand new Queen Mary was racing ahead on the Clyde at a frantic rate of knots. The inauguration of the new Cunarder was now just over a year away.

Even more imminent was the debut of the Normandie; the first ever of the 80,000 ton, 1,000 foot long ocean liners was due to sail on her maiden voyage in May and, in every respect, the new French flagship was expectd to make an enormous splash.

Time, space and tide would crown each of these great creations with it’s own garland of immortality. And yet, even as they prepared for their first apperances, other, once equally lauded liners sat languishing at Southampton’s Berth 108, waiting for that last, lonely voyage to the scrapyard.

Both Mauretania and Olympic were products of the pre- war Edwardian steamship race between Cunard and it’s great rival, White Star. Each had been a sensation in its day, and for many years beyond. Each had served its country during the Great War with great gallantry and energy. And each ship had lost a sibling in a ghastly maritime catastrophe.

Of the two, it was Olympic that was larger by half, and younger by four years. And Mauretania, as the unchallenged holder of the Blue Riband for two full decades, has left behind an imprint on maritime history that can never be equalled.

Each of the two liners had been the absolute epitome of style and glamour through most of the post war era. But a combination of natural ageing and plummeting passenger numbers courtesy of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, had made their retirements not just inevitable, but even necessary if the fragile new shotgun marriage of Cunard and White Star was to have a fighting chance.

In short, the past had to die so that the future- in the growing shape of the Queen Mary- might live.

For Mauretania, her last scheduled westbound crossing was in September, 1934. Now painted a shade of cruising white, the liner was laid up at Southampton’s Berth 108- a kind of maritime death row.

She was joined there by the Olympic in April of 1935, after her final transatlantic crossing from New York. Over the winter, the Cunarder’s paint work had grown grimy along her entire length. Now the Olympic was shackled to the berth just in front of her to await their fate.

Their silent, yet still dignified demise was in sharp contrast to the pair of great new hulls readying to take to sea in their stead in that spring of 1935. Both ships were soon enough to sail their final, desultory ‘green mile’ to the breakers.

Despite that, it is safe to say that the memories of each- what they were, what they achieved and, indeed, what they have become over the course of the years- continues to sail on to this day.

And that is exactly as it should be.

1935 was a year of spectacular sunsets on the Atlantic liner circuit

1935 was a year of spectacular sunsets on the Atlantic liner circuit

TRAVEL; STILL WORTH THE RISK THESE DAYS?

An ominous question, yes. But we live in ominous times. Bombs in Tunisia. Isis. Fundamentalism. The entire Middle East shifting uneasily on it’s religion based techtonic plates. Disappearing airliners that simply cannot be found.

The world seems to be growing madder by the day. And those who choose to stay at home perhaps feel safer than ever behind their picket fences and front doors. And, while I won’t forgive them for being smug, I can understand why they are. These are truly dangerous times.

And yet….

Travel is my mainspring; it has become my driving force and, in a sense, my very heartbeat. It is what I live to do, and it is what I love to do. If you switch off that, then I would cease to function on some very real level. Quite simply, I’d be dead inside, in any event.

I will probably also go on travelling because, quite honestly, I don’t think I know how to stop. Getting out there, chasing what is over that next horizon, opening my minds to new people and new experiences, has become so fundamental to my being that I don’t think anything could ever change that. The direction I am moving in was set in motion long ago by forces far too complex and sublime for me to have any kind of handle on. Or control over, for that matter.

I’m not saying that it’s ‘full steam ahead and damn the icebergs’, however. I’m not planning on parachuting into Aleppo any time soon. And Libya is definitely not at the top of my bucket list. I remain as careful as I always have of things and people around me. Safety first, insofar as humanly possible, is my mantra. And nothing will alter that.

But I think why people do question themselves on travel is because so much is now out of our hands, and way beyond our control. We still do not know why the crazed, deranged Lubitz decided to crash the plane he was flying into a French mountainside. And what of Malaysian flight MH 370? Not a sign, despite the most exhaustive search for well over a year. And the second Malaysian flight that was shot down over the Ukraine? Silence has fallen on that subject too, though most people are pretty certain whose finger pulled the trigger, metaphorically speaking. I suspect behind the scenes international politicking has damped down the curiosity on that one. Not that it can be any consolation to the poor families of the victims.

And yet, none of those things will deter me from keeping on getting out there. Most of this partially insane, war torn world, suffused as it is with lunatic demagogues, is still a wonderful, alluring place to visit. And, of course, the moment that you give in to those same deranged, unhinged lunatics, then they really have won. I, for one, would not dream of giving them the satisfaction. I’m not wired to bow down to psychopathic, fanatical nihilists.

So hopefully, I’ll encounter some of you lovely people this year in various peachy places across the planet. And it is our planet to cherish, not theirs to rubbish, violate and ruin.

Maybe those are just my feelings. But my god, I hope not.

The world is an awesome adventure. Get out there.

The world is an awesome adventure. Get out there.

SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR TO SOUTH AFRICA IN 2016

As part of a global redeployment following next years’ delivery of new flagship, Seven Seas Explorer, Regent Seven Seas has announced that the 28,000ton, 490 guest Seven Seas Navigator will be setting sail for some cruises out of new waters around South Africa.

This marks quite a departure- quite literally- for the 1999 built ship. For many years, the Seven Seas Navigator used to cross the Atlantic each year to spend spring and summer in the Mediterranean and Greek Islands. However, for several seasons now the highly lauded ship has been operating Alaska cruises in summer, and forays into the Caribbean through the winter, bracketed with  a couple of long, in depth Trans Panama sailings.

Recently refurbished, the Seven Seas Navigator is the only ship in the Regent fleet that is not ‘all balcony’, with some ten per cent of her on board accommodation being picture window only. None the less, there are many that prefer the smaller, more intimate size of the ship to her larger fleet mates, each of which carry around some seven hundred guests.

The new South African itineraries show Regent’s determination to expand beyond the boundaries of it’s typical, year round cruising venues. I expect these new cruises will be well received by the line’s legion of well travelled regulars, and the fact that these will include all shore excursions will be a potentially very big draw even to new cruisers.

In related Regent news, the Seven Seas Explorer will make a maiden, North American landfall at Miami on December 2nd 2016, before beginning a series of winter Caribbean cruises from the Florida port.

As ever, stay tuned.

Regent has a new ship coming in 2016

Regent has a new ship coming in 2016