By Andrea M. Rotondo
August 22, 2012
My very first cruise was a three-week voyage from Alaska across the Bering Sea to Russia and then down through the northern islands of Japan. It was a fantastic way to see so many places that I probably would never go as part of a land-based trip. That one cruise sparked a life-long interest in that form of travel. Now I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting itineraries that will take me somewhere I’ve never been before. Here are a few new cruises that are on my radar:
I’m booked on my first ever river cruise this December: a holiday markets cruise along the Danube River with Viking River Cruises aboard its new Longship, Viking Odin. I’ve heard great things about river cruises and hope that the experience launches a new facet of my love of travel by ship. If it does, I’d look toward a more exotic destination for my second river cruise: Burma (also known as Myanmar).
This country in Southeast Asia is a bit of a mystery to me. Repressive government regimes made travel their unpopular for years but softening trends and some wins for the National League for Democracy has opened up the possibilities. It’s the land of pagodas and temples and beautiful Buddhist shrines. And, the people are known to be welcoming of visitors from all corners of the globe.
The major players when it comes to Burma cruises are…
Land/river tour including four nights in Bangkok, Thailand; three nights in Yangon, Burma; and a seven-night cruise aboard RV Paukan.
A variety of multi-night cruises aboard the 82-passenger Road to Mandalay can be paired with a stay at Orient-Express’ Governor’s Residence in Yangon.
Pandaw’s been sailing the Irrawaddy for years and offers several itineraries aboard different vessels, including its new RV Katha Pandaw and RV Pandaw II.
Every winter I check out travel options to Belize—it looks absolutely beautiful—but I’ve yet to pull the trigger on a trip. There just isn’t enough time to visit all the places on my “to do” list. A new cruise option might change that though. AdventureSmith Explorations is chartering TravelDynamics’ 138-passenger expedition ship, Yorktown, for adventures around Belize starting in late December 2012.
The seven-night voyages are dubbed “Ancient Sites, Rain Forests & Coral Reefs.” Onboard archaeologists and naturalists will lead tours on land and in the water for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Much of the time will be spent in the water exploring Belize’s Barrier Reef Reserve System, the Great Blue Hole, Laughing Bird Caye, and South Water Caye. Land-based activities include visits to ancient ruins dating back to 700 AD as well as time spent at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
A pre-cruise stay in Guatemala is also an option.
While all of the above-mentioned cruises are bookable now, you’ll need to wait another year to sail with Silversea in the Galapagos Islands. The Italian cruise line recently purchased Canodros SA, an Ecuadorian tourism company that owns the expedition ship, Galapagos Explorer II. (The ship itself reminds me of Orion Expedition’s Orion.)
Silversea will devote millions of dollars to a September 2013 renovation of the mega-yacht, which currently boasts 50 oceanview suites (24 with private balconies).
The cruise will draw on its experience in expedition cruising in the Artic and Antarctica to bring a new, luxury cruise itinerary to the Galapagos Islands. I, for one, can’t wait until I can sail with Silversea in Ecuador.