Norwegian Cruise Line has joined forces with Belleair Travel and Co-Operative Travel to offer quite an enticing series of rail, stay and cruise holidays for UK passengers later this year.
Many of these cut out the need to fly altogether. For example, one package features rail travel from London St. Pancras to Paris, an overnight hotel stay in the French capital, and then onward rail connection to Marseille to join Norwegian Epic for a seven day, western Mediterranean cruise, with return from Marseille by rail. This is priced from £1,099, based on a September 12th 2013 departure.
Another features a twelve night rail, stay and cruise from Venice on Norwegian Jade, and is inclusive of rail travel from London to Venice return (an overnight journey in both cases), a three night hotel stay in Venice, followed by a seven night Greece and Turkey cruise. Prices are from £1,459, based on an October 8th, 2013 departure.
Something further north? A new fly/cruise and stay in conjunction with Belleair holidays offers a series of flights to Copenhagen from several UK regional airports, a three night city hotel stay, and a nine night Baltic cruise aboard Norwegian Star. Prices from £1,625 based on an August 29th, 2013 departure.
The programme will eventually be rolled out across five ships, and fly/cruise options will also be available for the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
The three companies could well be on to something here. There is a strong- and growing- constituency of people who simply do not want to fly for a whole raft of different reasons. Crowded airports, security concerns, and indifferent in flight product delivery by some airlines have left people looking for viable alternatives.
Add to that the scenic allure of a rail journey through the heart of France- plus a welcome overnight break in the fabled French capital- and the appeal of these packages becomes apparent. Similarly, the rail journey to and from Venice offers an amazing panoramic feast that airline passengers simply never get to see.
For those visiting great cities such as Venice and Copenhagen, a three night stay is ample time to get really orientated with the surroundings. More importantly, it also allows passengers to arrive at the ship in a far more relaxed state than sometimes happens when being transferred directly from the airport.
A general brochure outlining all of these programmes was due to be released on July 15th.
The only thing I find curious with an otherwise good idea is the timing. It does seem a bit late in the year to roll out such a programme. However, if these trips are a trial run for a more extensive 2014 schedule- and it certainly looks that way- then it is doubtless worth doing.
This one is different, and more than a little interesting. The logistics and transfers will need to be very well thought through and handled, especially in a teeming city like Paris in the summertime. But the overall premise is fascinating, and offers a genuine, carefully considered alternative for the ‘been there, done that’ brigade.
Should be worth watching. Stay tuned.