Author Archives: Ralph Grizzle

There are 329 articles by Ralph Grizzle published on this site.


What I Pack When I River Cruise, What About You?

Back in the 1980s, I traveled around the world with a hefty backpack weighing down my shoulders. As I traveled, my backpack became lighter and lighter and lighter. I started dispensing of stuff because I got tired of carrying it, and I learned that I could do with a lot less than I had originally thought I would need. So if there is one lesson that I have learned in my four decades of traveling, it is pack less.

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Video: A Cruise Along Portugal’s Douro River

A Douro River Cruise gives you an immersive experience in Portugal. During the course of your cruise along the Douro, you’ll come to appreciate the beauty of the country, the warmth of the people, the taste of Portuguese wines, the fresh seafood and Portuguese specialities (think Pastel de Nata, the rich Portuguese egg tart pastry), and the enduring charm of villages where time seems to have stood still. At least for the moment. See it before it changes.

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Currently, there are more than 20 ships operating Douro River Cruises, and that number is growing. See our story, Six Reasons Why You Should Do A Douro River Cruise Now. No wonder the Douro’s popularity is soaring. The Douro is a great destination for those wanting to explore Portugal’s natural beauty, its delectable food and wine, and the country’s warm and friendly people.

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Yes, you should do a Douro River Cruise. As soon as possible. Why the urgency? Because the Douro is still relatively undiscovered. That’s changing, though.

“In 2017, we hope to achieve more than 1 million passengers on the Douro river,” says Helena Gomes Fernandes, marketing manager for the Port Authority of Douro, Leixoes and Viana do Castelo. Don’t panic. Not all of those are passengers on overnight Douro River cruises. The vast majority are on one-day river cruises, sight-seeing cruises more or less. Hotel-style river cruisers, in comparison, carried only a little more than 63,000 guests in 2016. That’s up considerably, however, from 2012, when river ships carried only 28,000 passengers on weeklong voyages. In 2018, more than two dozen river cruisers will ply the Douro on weeklong cruises between Porto and Barca d’Alva, a distance of about 240 miles roundtrip. Indeed, interest in the Douro is surging. So get your game on and get yourself to the Douro while the river is still relatively quiet.

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With more than 20 ships operating Douro River Cruises, your choices are abundant. Why choose Emerald Waterways? After spending eight days on the new Emerald Radiance during November, I identified six ways that the company differentiates itself from its competitors on the Douro.

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An Interview With Uniworld’s Ellen Bettridge

Ellen Bettridge clearly is enthusiastic about her new home, as she calls her job. Speaking at a recent Signature Travel Network Owners Meeting in Phoenix, the President and CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection put her sales skills to work when passionately talking about a company that, like her, has gone through a lot of changes in recent years.

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Riverside Chat: Six Reasons To Cruise The Seine

With the Douro, the Danube, the Rhine, the Main, the Rhone, the Saone, the Moselle and more, why would you want to cruise on the Seine River? I’m Ralph Grizzle, of rivercruiseadvisor.com and here are just a few reasons why you’ll want to cruise with AmaWaterways on one of France’s most storied rivers.

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Watch the recap of our September 2017 barge trip along France’s Petit-Seine & Yonne rivers on CroisiEurope’s Raymonde.

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Video: A Cruise Along The Seine With AmaWaterways

The Normandy region is renown for its beauty, its palatable flavors, its gorgeous countryside and the D-Day Landing Beaches. Bookended by Paris, a cruise along the Seine speaks to the sublime pleasures of exploring a narrow ribbon of river that inspired a handful of French Impressionists and that continues to inspire Francophiles today. Check out our feature video.

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A Rhone River cruise delivers you to the epicenter of a fascinating destination. I’m Ralph Grizzle of River Cruise Advisor, and I experienced the Rhone on AmaWaterways during a weeklong voyage from Lyon to Arles. Join me for adventure on one of France’s most famed rivers. Read the rest of this entry »

Rhone River Excursions On AmaWaterways

So why choose to river cruise the Rhone? For argument’s sake, let’s say that you’ve narrowed your choices and that you’ve settled on France for your river cruise. You could do the Seine, which is lovely, setting off on your journey on a gorgeous evening from beneath the Eiffel Tower for an adventure that takes you to Normandy and back. See It’s Time To Return To France. You could cruise Bordeaux, a beautiful city that serves as the hub for wine-inspired excursions by bike, hike and motorcoach. See AmaWaterways ‘Taste Of Bordeaux’.

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Crystal Cruises Christens Crystal Bach

Crystal River Cruises christened Crystal Bach, the first of its four new build “Rhine Class” river ships, on Sunday, August 20 in Rüdesheim, Germany. Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, presided over the ceremony, along with emcee and longtime popular Crystal entertainer, Mark Farris. The ship’s godmother, beloved German opera star Anna-Maria Kaufmann, christened the ship with the traditional blessing and champagne breaking, and also lent her famed talents to the celebration with a special performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air.” Also in attendance were the ship’s cruise guests, local travel partners and executives from Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong.

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In Germany, Crystal River Cruises welcomed Crystal Bach to its award-winning fleet. The luxury river ship, the first of four “Rhine Class” ships set to sail the rivers of Europe, was delivered to Crystal by MV WERFTEN during the official handover ceremony in Wismar, Germany. In attendance to witness the occasion were Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez and several local dignitaries.

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I find river cruising to be one of the most enjoyable travel experiences available to those seeking to get to know Europe. Let me count the ways:

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Looks can deceive. Rarely, for example, will Scenic appear as the lowest-priced operator when comparing river cruises on similar itineraries. In my story, What Scenic Does Differently In Bordeaux, Scenic’s per diems for eight-day Bordeaux itineraries were considerably higher than AmaWaterways (by 28 percent), CroisiEurope (by 90 percent) and Viking (by 45 percent). On some sailings, Scenic’s per diems in Bordeaux approach $700 per person, compared to Viking at $481 per day. At first, I thought, “Wow, Scenic is over-the-top,” even though Uniworld came in higher (nearly $750 per day in staterooms that are a third smaller). A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals a much different picture than what I saw at first glance.

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Riverside Chat Episode 2: Rhone River Cruises

Hi, I’m Ralph Grizzle. I run rivercruiseadvisor.com and this week I’m on the Rhone River. What I love about this river is that it combines the beauty of the river with the charm of Provence. I get a lot of questions about the Rhone and about France in general. Here’s our Riverside Chat featuring the Rhone River.

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Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, working in partnership with PBS National Sales, has announced its sponsorship of the fourth season of The Great British Baking Show, airing Fridays at 9 p.m. as of June 16th.

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AmaWaterways Announces New Wellness Program

AmaWaterways announced it has launched a wellness program onboard AmaLyra’s Paris & Normandy sailings. The program – led by “Sports Scientist” Selina Wank features four to six classes daily, including morning stretches, jogging, yoga, cardio and core strengthening and circuit training. Activities will be complemented by discussion groups with a focus on healthy eating and relaxation techniques.

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In 2015, I spent six nights on Scenic Jasper, sailing from Budapest to Vienna. What I learned was that Scenic serves up a quality experience at a high level. The Australia-based company may already represent the most-inclusive river cruise company in the marketplace, though Scenic must contend with the likes of Crystal, Tauck and Uniworld.

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Next week, I’ll fly to Bordeaux to board Scenic Diamond for an eight-day voyage in France’s renowned wine-producing region. The itinerary is impressive, which I’ve outlined below, but it’s the ship that I am most curious to see. Scenic redesigned its France-based Space-Ships this year to include a private cooking emporium offering tailored cooking classes.

Scenic Culinaire is a new onboard cooking school using dedicated space that features cooking stations and a cheese and wine cellar as well as real-time cameras and screens to ensure each participant (including me) can see every cooking move in detail. Fresh ingredients are sourced from local markets and the cooking instructors will introduce guests to regional recipes based on the itinerary regions.

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You may have missed the news last week. AmaWaterways is going big. The company is building a double-wide river cruiser for the Danube.

Construction on AmaMagna started in March. The new ship will set sail in 2019. It will be interesting to see what AmaWaterways brings to the table – or rather, to the Danube. With the expanded space, AmaWaterways can include more features on AmaMagna than are on its current fleet.

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