Author Archives: Ralph Grizzle

There are 309 articles by Ralph Grizzle published on this site.

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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Koblenz, Germany — It had been awhile since I was on a Viking Longship, and although I had attended christening events and even did a couple of weeklong cruises on Viking a few years ago, too much time had passed since I’d stepped on a Longship. Last Sunday that changed when I boarded Viking Hlin in Basel for a seven-night “Rhine Getaway” voyage to Amsterdam.

After a quick transfer from Basel’s airport to the St. Johann docks, I felt good stepping into the familiar light-filled reception area of Viking Hlin (named for the goddess of protection in Norse mythology).

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CroisiEurope has officially kicked off its newest river cruise tours: combination land-and-cruise voyages that explore Africa’s Chobe and Zambezi rivers. The journeys include a four-day voyage aboard the African Dream, a brand-new luxury river cruise vessel that carries only 16 guests in its eight suites. Read the rest of this entry »

What. A. Great. Trip. In early April, I cruised with Avalon Waterways on the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The itinerary, bookended by Amsterdam and Paris, served up some of the same stunning scenery that inspired Dutch landscape painters such as Jacob Isaackszoon van Ruisdael. Just look at the photo below, for example, unfiltered and untouched, snapped with my iPhone from the Club Lounge, aft on Avalon Visionary, one morning on the Moselle.

I could have spent hours out on deck watching the landscape pass. Instead, I drew back the curtains and admired Europe in HD from my Panorama Suite. After only a few days on board Avalon Visionary, I understood what Avalon Waterways has been trying to market: framed postcard-like views from the bedrooms of its so-called “Suite Ships.”

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Crystal River Cruises: In A Class Apart

Crystal Mozart stands apart because of its width alone. At 22.85 meters (roughly 75 feet), Mozart is nearly twice the width of the standard river cruiser. With so much real estate, Mozart can boast features that most river cruise vessels cannot, such as an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, a spacious gym, four restaurants, an ultra-wide sundeck with a retractable bar and much more.

Of course, all that space comes at a cost. Mozart can navigate up the Danube not much past Passau. That’s not a huge handicap. The section of the Danube that Mozart can cruise is among the most popular stretches on the river, with marquee attraction such as the Melk Abbey and the Wachau Valley, and storied cities like Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. Read the rest of this entry »

April 20-27, 2017, I will cruise along the Rhône river through France’s legendary wine growing regions. The region is home to such famous vintages as Beaujolais and Côte du Rhône, and I’m sure we’ll sample plenty of wine. We’ll enjoy wine tastings at local vintners, marvel at ancient Roman ruins, stroll through medieval villages and shop for Provencal crafts. Our itinerary includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avignon as well as Arles, the city where Vincent Van Gogh spent much of his life.
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Amsterdam, April 12, 2017 — The skeptic in me thought it would be boring. A painting workshop. I’m not a painter. Why would I want to waste my time putting a brush to canvas when all of Amsterdam was out there for me to explore? I wasn’t alone in my thinking. A colleague of mine confessed that he too was not terribly excited about the afternoon excursion that our host, Avalon Waterways, had graciously organized for us. It wasn’t that we weren’t appreciative. It was just that painting was not our forte. Nor was it an aspiration or even something I would consider taking up as a hobby. That all changed one afternoon in Amsterdam. Read the rest of this entry »

Just in time for the start of 2017 sailings on Portugal’s Douro River, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours has opened a new dock for exclusive use by both Scenic and its sister company Emerald Waterways river ships. Unlike other river ship docks, this is conveniently located in Cais de Maragaia, a historic area of the World Heritage city of Porto and only a five-minute walk to Ribiera Street, one of Porto’s most popular riverfront promenades known for its distinctive small alleyways and pastel-hued buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

River Cruise Advisor’s Aaron Saunders & Ralph Grizzle talk about new trends in river cruising, including the trend that mixes river cruising and bicycling. Be sure to follow us as we report live from rivers in Europe during the months of April and May during Six-Plus Weeks Of River Cruising On Live Voyage Reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Emerald Waterways has announced a brand new Provence sailing for 2017, “Sensations of Southern France,” an eight-day voyage that will take place aboard the company’s newly built Emerald Liberté.

The sailing takes passengers from Lyon to Arles along the picturesque Rhône and Saône Rivers, passing through Chalon-Sur-Saône, Tournon and Avignon, where guests will be treated to an on-board, Provençal style dinner by acclaimed local chef and Top Chef France finalist, Fabien Morreale.

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Scenic is bringing Southeast Asia closer to a reality for US travelers. Booking any departure between August and December 2017 means free air from 25 US gateways or $2,000 savings per couple on its 13-day “Treasures of the Mekong” and 14-day “Mystical Irrawaddy”; and $1,000 per couple savings on the eight-day “Luxury Mekong” and 11-day “Luxury Irrawaddy.” These itineraries exploring the culturally-rich Mekong and Irrawaddy River destinations of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The deadline for the offer is based on availability and is for new bookings only. Read the rest of this entry »

Every week, I get up to 100 emails from people interested in river cruising. Many are well-heeled and can afford river cruises that cost more than $400 per day per person. Not everyone is so fortunate. Just last week, a gentleman wrote me asking to unsubscribe from the River Cruise Advisor newsletter. He was apologetic. “Sadly,” he wrote, “I cannot afford a river cruise at these prices.”

River cruising in Europe is a dream come true for travelers. Imagine passing the beautiful landscapes along the rivers, past fairy-tale villages dotted with castles and church spires, all from the comfort of your floating boutique hotel. Step ashore into enchanting towns and immerse yourself into the milieu of an age-old culture. Read the rest of this entry »

We head to the Tal Harba Chapel, situated on the Valletta waterfront. This small chapel is beautifully detailed. The style of the façade is definitively Baroque, and it is carefully adapted to not be dominated by the adjacent large warehouses, façades and restaurants.

The Maltese architect, Andrea Belli (1703—1772) ensured that the narrow façade of this chapel included all the typical elements of a larger church façade—two bell towers, imposing cornices and sumptuous Baroque detailing, making for a tiny-mighty street presence. The cartouche and the high window assembly in particular highlight the architect’s finesse. The chapel’s interior is domed and the altar nave is a true high Baroque masterpiece.

Inside we took a seat to enjoy a 20-minute concert performance by a talented soprano and three musicians. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: A Stroll Through Symi, Greece

Today we’re in a gorgeous Greek town known as Symi. We’re going to hop on the island’s only tour bus with a local guide, head up to the upper town, walk along some narrow streets, visit a beautiful church and an abandoned fortress, and then make our way back down to the waterfront. We’ve got a lot to see, so let’s get going.

Situated just 25 miles northwest of Rhodes, Symi feels about as authentic as you can get when it comes to a traditional Greek fishing village.

Actually, Symi is known for its sponges, and many a Symian has been active in sponge diving in his lifetime. Those who operate the sponge shops along the waterfront have some great stories to tell about the prosperous days of the sponge industry. Don’t be shy about chatting with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: Calvi, Corsica Highlights

A guided stroll through the seaside town of Calvi reveals much of its history – from its humble beginnings as a fishing village, to its century in the sun as a Genoese stronghold, and its current status as a charming vacation getaway.

For an excellent overview of the city, head up to the Calvi citadel, perched on a rocky hillside overlooking the port. Enter through the citadel’s thick gates to the Place d’Armes and on to the Cathedral St Jean Baptiste, set upon the highest point of the promontory. Founded in the 13th century, the cathedral was partially destroyed during the Turkish siege in 1553, and later rebuilt in the form of a Greek cross. Also visit the Oratoire St Antoine to admire its Italian frescoes. Read the rest of this entry »

The Venetians left a lasting legacy following their conquest of Crete in the 13th century. In cities like Rethymnon are remnants of Kingdom of Candia, as Crete was called when it was part of the Republic of Venice. Today, we’re going to see vestiges of Crete’s Venetian past as we tour Rethymnon and a monastery with a tragic story.

The Arkadi tragedy was among the first during the Cretan Revolution between 1866 and 1869. World leaders condemned the Ottomans, and the Arkadi tragedy became a milestone in Greek history. It was viewed as a heroic act that changed the course of the war. The Ottomans ultimately lost their their stronghold on the island.

Today, the Arkadi Monastery is one of the most important monasteries on all of Greece. The church inside the fortified walls still represents a place of peace and refuge, despite the tragedy that occurred here only steps away from this holy place. Read the rest of this entry »

Today we’ve come about an hour from Sete to the city of Montpellier. Montpellier doesn’t have a Roman heritage like a lot of the cities here in the south of France. It’s a Medieval city founded in 985. Let’s take a look around beautiful Montpellier.

The heart and soul of Montpellier is the Place de la Comedié. The square was named for a theater that burned down here in the 1700s. In the center for the square is the Three Graces fountain, which was built here more than 200 years ago.

The old part of Montpellier dates back to the 12th century. There’s not a lot remaining from that period, but what you will see are buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries that line the narrow streets and quaint squares. Read the rest of this entry »

Carnival Cruise Line will reposition three of its newest and largest ships to new homeports in 2018, expanding upon the exciting variety of cruise options available from Galveston, Texas, Port Canaveral, Fla.,  and Miami. In September 2018 Carnival Vista will move to Galveston; Carnival Breeze will reposition to Port Canaveral; and Carnival Magic will shift to Miami.

Carnival Vista to Offer Two Week-Long Caribbean Itineraries from Galveston

Beginning Sept. 23, 2018, the newest ship in Carnival’s fleet, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista, will begin sailing from Galveston and offer two different seven-day western Caribbean itineraries departing every Sunday and visiting the region’s most popular destinations. The first itinerary includes calls at Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, while the other features visits to Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize, and Cozumel. Read the rest of this entry »

On February 25, 2017, I’m cruising with Windstar’s President John Delaney. We’ll cruise aboard the Star Pride through the Panama Canal and along the star-studded coast of Costa Rica. This weeklong cruise will give me a chance to catch up with John, who I worked with on projects during his tenure at Seabourn. What I hope to discover is how he and his team will transform Windstar. Coming from Seabourn, John — and those he brought with him from Seabourn — brings a lot to the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Seabourn Encore Christened In Singapore

Last night the Seabourn formally introduced Seabourn Encore at a festive evening ceremony pier side in Singapore. International recording artist and world’s best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as godmother of the new 600-guest ship, the first of two new all-suite vessels for the company. Read the rest of this entry »

Princess Cruises is bringing its largest Alaska deployment ever in 2018, which goes on sale December 1. In summer 2018, seven Princess Cruises ships will sail Alaska’s pristine waters on 130 cruise departures, with more than 75 percent of all voyages sailing to Glacier Bay National Park, departing from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, B.C. and Anchorage (Whittier). In addition, Princess has more than 22 cruise tour options, providing guests the opportunity to journey into the interior of Alaska and visiting five custom-built Princess Wilderness Lodges.

New for 2018, Island Princess will feature a full season of calls to Icy Strait Point, a unique and remote wilderness experience, on every seven-day northbound Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary. Also new for 2018, guests looking to cruise round-trip from Los Angeles can choose from two 12-day cruises. Read the rest of this entry »