Author Archives: Ralph Grizzle

There are 378 articles by Ralph Grizzle published on this site.


River Cruise 101: Where To River Cruise

Europe has more navigable rivers than any other region in the world, and arguably more diverse cultures along its river banks than almost any other region. Cruising the entire length of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers alone—made possible thanks to the Main–Danube Canal—exposes travelers to 10 countries. Along the way are charming villages, fabled cities, fairy-tale castles, vineyards and more—all accessible from your floating hotel. However, this is far from the only inland artery. Germany also boasts the Moselle, Neckar and Elbe rivers, while France showcases the Loire, Seine, Saône and Rhône, and these are but two countries. Then there are rivers that even intrepid travelers may have never heard of Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, in the first of a series, we presented a live Q&A about river cruising. If you missed the webinar, you’ll find a recording of it below. We found the webinar format to be an excellent way to connect with our readers (and river cruise company representatives – Mary Murrin from Tauck, for example, joined us live to answer a few questions). Read the rest of this entry »

I felt like a kid opening a Christmas present last week when my AmaWaterways cruise documents arrived. The docs are for an upcoming cruise on AmaMagna and a christening ceremony on July 11. Three things that excite me about this trip:

  1.  AmaMagna itself, which is nearly double the width of traditional river cruisers. That extra width gives the new ship more in amenities, public rooms and space, resulting in a lot for us to explore and write about.
  2. I’m traveling with my daughter, Britton Frost, who is, of course, the host of Avid Travel with Britton Frost. Have you heard her latest, An Interview With Samantha Brown?
  3. And TV host Samantha Brown, who, as godmother of AmaMagna, will send a bottle of bubbly smashing against the hull of the new ship on christening day.

Our cruise itinerary is called “Melodies of the Danube.” Read the rest of this entry »

Later this month I head to Europe to cruise the Adriatic with Ponant and Backroads. I’ll be writing lots about those experiences, but for now, with only a few weeks ahead of my departure, I’m concerned with staying connected while abroad.

These strategies also apply to river cruisers. I will have the same challenges when we board AmaMagna in July. What I intend to do in this post is answer this question: How do I find the most cost-effective mobile data plan, or plans, to stay connected while ashore Europe? The contenders are T-Mobile, Verizon and Google Fi. Which one, or which combination, will best serve me while abroad? What’s the secret to staying connected while river cruising? Read the rest of this entry »

Unfortunately, a flawless river cruise is not as simple as booking space on any ship and stepping on board. There are many decisions to be made before packing your bags and leaving home, not the least of which are which river to cruise and which cruise company to cruise with.

Preceding those two questions, however, you’ll also need to know if you are able to river cruise. That may sound like an odd consideration, but, in fact, some people aren’t able to river cruise because of physical limitations.

Provided that you’re able to river cruise, you’ll need to figure out how much you can afford to spend. How will you get to the port of departure – and back? What do you pack? How much cash do you carry? How do you book your shore excursions? Which stateroom do you choose? How are gratuities handled? Read the rest of this entry »

River Cruise 101: Riviera River Cruises

Founded more than 30 years ago in the UK as Riviera Travel, Riviera River Cruises recently started targeting English-speaking guests from the United States and Canada for its value-priced river cruise offerings in Europe.

The company has a fleet of 12 vessels on the rivers of Europe, with more on the way. Unlike other river cruise lines, Riviera offers a price-point that is substantially lower than most of its competitors. It does this by “unbundling” some features, like inclusive drinks. You’ll pay extra for things like bottled water, beer, wine, and spirits, but Riviera believes the overall cost savings justify the add-on charges by making river cruising accessible to a wider swath of people who might be put off by the multi-thousand-dollar-fares charged by other lines. Read the rest of this entry »

To the uninitiated, choosing a river cruise can be daunting. In Europe alone, more than two dozen companies offer extended river cruises. The first thing you want to know is what differentiates each company from another? 

Complicating matters is that all river cruisers operated by all companies, with few notable exceptions, are built on the same platforms. That means they all look pretty much alike, with the same number of decks and measuring the same dimensions. The exceptions are Crystal Mozart and the coming this spring, AmaMagna, both of which are double the width of the traditional river cruiser. Read the rest of this entry »

River Cruise 101: Scenic (2019 Update)

In 1987, Australian entrepreneur Glen Moroney founded Scenic Tours, a company that got its start offering coach trips to the Australian coast. Initially, Scenic Tours marketed its product to residents of Melbourne but soon realized that its guests would travel further with them. For two decades, Scenic Tours continued to grow and expand, earning accolades from travelers around the world for quality and service, not to mention Scenic’s rapidly diverse array of tour packages. Read the rest of this entry »

Cunard 2020 Alaska Voyages

Cunard will spend a full season in Alaska from June through to September in 2020 on the newly-refurbished ship, Queen Elizabeth. The cruise line is making its return to Alaska in May 2019, after a 20-year break, and will double its program in 2020.

This expanded program will offer ten roundtrip sailings departing Vancouver, ranging from nine to twelve nights, plus one cruise to San Francisco including an overnight stay on Independence Day. Read the rest of this entry »

River Cruise 101: Crystal River Cruises

Crystal is a name that’s been synonymous with cruising for 25 years, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the company entered the river cruise market with Crystal Mozart, an older ship refitted to suit the line’s plans. Crystal Mozart made a big splash, boasting a width twice the size of the other river cruise ships and allowing for grander public areas like the Life Spa, fitness center, an indoor pool, plus king-sized beds in every stateroom. Read the rest of this entry »

Voyage Preview: Antarctica On Silver Cloud

Next week, I’ll embark on my third visit to the White Continent. My upcoming voyage, however, is quite different from the others.

For starters, the weather forecast for the Antarctica Peninsula looks to be bone-chilling. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute, which arguably gives the most accurate forecasts for Antarctica, is showing -24°C for Thursday, November 8. That’s -11.2°F. We won’t be in Antarctica until the following week, so hopefully it will warm a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

My 12 Favorite Cruises

One afternoon in 2015, cinematographer Chris Stanley and I pulled our rental car into the dusty parking lot of the Arkadi Monastery. We were here to film the monastery for Seabourn, which offered a visit to these historical grounds on shore excursions from Heraklion and Chania. Read the rest of this entry »

Antarctica. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be. I’ve been fortunate enough to have cruised Antarctica twice – see my posts from those trips Antarctica On Silver Explorer and Antarctica On Seabourn Quest. I’ll be headed back for the third time in November (2018) on the recently refurbished Silver Cloud. – Ralph Grizzle

Read the rest of this entry »

Crystal Cruises announced its full lineup of 2021 luxury sailings aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. In all, 68 all-inclusive voyages span the globe to 238 destinations in 53 countries.

From Crystal Serenity’s 139-day “Ancient Dynasties & World Wonders” comprehensive World Cruise to 10 seven-day sailings through the Mediterranean aboard Crystal Symphony, travelers will find opportunities to explore destinations both famous and less visited in 2021. Staying true to Crystal’s philosophy of offering guests numerous choices, including shorter sailings that are easily combinable with other cruises – without repeating ports – for those seeking an extended vacation. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Barge Cruise In Photos: Abundance Of Nature

Somewhat surprising was the abundance of wildlife during my September barge cruise from Sete to Arles. As we barged along the canal, we saw flamingos, egrets, herons along with wild horses and cattle. They all live in the Camargue, a natural region south of Arles that spans more than 360 square miles. That expanse makes the Camargue the largest river delta in western Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Barging From Sete To Arles: A Photo Journal

I’ve just returned from France, where I spent a week hosting 20 guests on CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie, barging from Sete to Arles. Eleven of us also did a four-day pre-barge trip from Paris through the beautiful Perigord region of France to Sete. Following are a few photos from our trip. Next week, I’ll have an extensive report from our time in France. Read the rest of this entry »

Frank del Rio: Mind The Curve

Recently, I spent an hour gleaning cruise industry insights from Frank del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

From the perspective of del Rio’s prism, the cruise industry is experiencing some of its best years ever, and for cruise companies like his, bookings are robust, with consumer demand high. Read the rest of this entry »

Cruise Deal Roundup: September 2018

Those looking to make travel plans from now until November 2018 can take advantage of a few cruise deals provided by Seabourn, Holland America Line, Silversea, and Regent Seven Seas. Whether a percentage off a booking, a drink package, or a category upgrade, these deals are a great way for travelers to save money on their next voyages. Read the rest of this entry »

Crystal Cruises is pumping out the videos this week. We recently posted a video from Crystal Endeavor’s keel-laying event in Germany. The newest video features an extremely compelling expedition ship (and program). We’re impressed by Endeavor’s sophisticated public areas and stylish staterooms and suites. In case you missed it, be sure to check out Crystal Endeavor To Boast Expedition’s Highest Space Ratio, where execs tout Endeavor’s key differentiator in the expedition market, space. Read the rest of this entry »

This past Tuesday at Germany’s MV Werften Shipyard in Stralsund, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would like to sail on Crystal’s new expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor. Wouldn’t we all? Not only is the lineup of itineraries enough to make any wanderer salivate – see Crystal Endeavor Now Open For Booking – but Endeavor itself is nothing short of gorgeous – see Crystal Endeavor To Boast Expedition’s Highest Space Ratio.

Merkel was among the VIPs who placed coins in Endeavor’s keel, a time-honored tradition meant to bring the vessel good fortune. Below, I’ve posted a photos and short video from last Tuesday’s keel-laying festivities. Read the rest of this entry »

When Holland America Line’s O, The Oprah Magazine Adventure of Your Life Cruise sets sail for the Caribbean Oct. 28, 2018, aboard Nieuw Amsterdam, guests are in for an inspiring week with some of the magazine’s editors and world’s leading visionaries.
Senior Editor Molly Simms and Beauty Director Brian Underwood from O, The Oprah Magazine will be cruising along with “The First Lady of Nutrition” Ann Louise Gittleman, Unplug Meditation teacher Christina Huntington, best-selling author and transformational speaker Lori Harder and Functional Life Coach creator Mastin Kipp. Special programming during the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise will allow guests to gain insight and knowledge from this team of thought leaders and learn from their expertise. Read the rest of this entry »