Uniworld launches three new river cruise ships in 2020

RIVER SHIPS UPDATE

Uniworld's president and chief executive, Ellen Bettridge, is looking forward to a big year. Mekong Jewel launched in January and within the next few weeks, the boutique river cruise company is launching two new ships in Europe, with a third to follow on Egypt's Nile River in September. New land- and rail-cruise packages are being introduced along with more itineraries in partnership with Aqua Expeditions in the Amazon.

The first ship due to set sail is SS (Super Ship) La Venezia, the new incarnation of River Countess. It has had a comprehensive, very expensive refurbishment and is the only river ship operating in and around Venice. How SS La Venezia's cruises will be affected in the short term by coronavirus is yet to be seen.

SS Sao Gabriel is scheduled to start cruising on Portugal's Douro River in early April. The 100-passenger vessel will be the newest, most luxurious on the river and will offer 11-day journeys from Lisbon that include the eight-day round-trip cruise from Porto and an eight-day cruise-only itinerary.

SS Sphinx will start cruising the Nile in September. Although it's not fully owned by Uniworld, designer Brian Brennan, who worked on the lavish SS Antoinette, SS Marie Theresa and U River Cruises' more pared-down The A and The B, had a big say in its overall look and exquisite detailing.

Bettridge says that while there are no plans to build any more ships "at this stage", feedback from travel agents and guests reveals that there is always an appetite for something new.

"Our seven-night Amazon cruise bookended with stays in Lima, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco sold out immediately, so we've released 11 departures in 2021. We've added the spa town of Baden-Baden to a Rhine and Moselle itinerary and next year we're introducing a three-night rail trip on the luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express through the Swiss Alps to join the Venice cruise."

In case you were wondering what makes a Uniworld ship a Super Ship, Bettridge explains that they all reflect the destinations where they cruise and offer more suites, more dining options and ultra-luxurious finishes. Uniworld plans to take all its vessels to Super Ship status by the end of 2022 and Australian river cruisers, who make up Uniworld's second-largest source market (after the US), are sure to be onboard. See uniworld.com

WILD SCOTLAND

Rugged ruins, ancient villages, world-famous distilleries and whale-spotting are just some of the highlights of an Adventure Canada expedition voyage of Scotland next year. The 10-night cruise from Glasgow to Aberdeen onboard the 198-passenger Ocean Endeavour starts on June 13, 2021 and highlights include calls to Scotland's wildest, farthest-flung islands: the Hebrides, Orkneys and the Shetlands. Earlybird savings of up to $US4000 a couple and no single supplement for select cabin categories are available for bookings made by June 1, 2020. In 2021, Adventure Canada is also cruising France and Spain's Basque Country and Iceland. See cruisetraveller.com.au

SMALL AND RARE

Coral Expeditions has announced a series of new voyages in 2021 called Small Islands of the World. Itineraries feature the isles of the Southern Pacific (including Tahiti, the Marquesas and Pitcairn), Micronesia and New Guinea (Yap, Chuuk Lagoon, Palau), Japan (Saipan, Iwo Jima and the Ryukyu chain) and the Philippines (Catanduanes, Biri and Palaui). Group general manager Mark Fifield said, "We will step ashore in some of the most rarely seen places on Earth such as Pitcairn Island, which is so remote that the Bounty mutineers who sought refuge here in 1790 expected never to be found." See coralexpeditions.com

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CRUISE FACT

CMV will rename Pacific Dawn after the pioneering pilot Amy Johnson.

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BOLD HELPER

This handy passport wallet holds the essentials in two clear sleeves and its distinctive colours means you won't lose it in the depths of your bag. It's part of a collection by Catherine Manuell Design and the Aboriginal Artists Project. RRP $55. See catherinemanuelldesign.com

CONSTANT CRUISER

SHIRLEY BATTRICK, MUDGEERABA, QUEENSLAND

NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN

Four

LAST CRUISE

The Out of the Northwest Passage itinerary on Ocean Endeavour. I love expedition cruising on small ships to out-of-the-way destinations. On this trip with Adventure Canada I met local Inuit people, learned about aspects of their culture, walked on uninhabited islands, watched divers on HMS Erebus and took a dip in Arctic waters. I saw polar bears, beluga whales, seals, scenery like nowhere else, the northern lights and had plenty of time to meet new friends and still spend time by myself just enjoying the world.

NEXT CRUISE

East Antarctica and the Ross Sea. I've been to the Antarctic Peninsula but would love to see the history on this part of the continent, the different penguins and maybe an orca or two.

DREAM SHIP

A small expedition ship carrying fewer than 80 passengers, so we could visit places where there is no one else.

DREAM CRUISE

A small ship to anywhere off the beaten track, where I can see wildlife and amazing scenery and learn about history and culture.

DREAM PORT

Anywhere where you can get out of a Zodiac and see more than 1000 penguins.

BEST CRUISE TIP

Go somewhere wonderful, do something you've never done before, for me it was learning to snorkel in the Galapagos islands, and meet people whose life is as different from yours as you can find.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE

Send 250-word submissions for Constant Cruiser to sally.macmillan@traveller.com.au. Use the same format as below and attach a high-resolution photo of yourself. All published contributions receive a $50 voucher from travelgear

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