Guests of A&K’s Connections European River Cruise Journeys have their own Resident Tour Director. // © 2017 Abercrombie & Kent
Feature image (above): Aqua Expeditions is bringing onboard conservationist and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau. // © 2017 Aqua Expeditions
River cruises continue to be focused on crafting experiences that put the traveler into direct contact with a destination’s people and culture. Creative options include special access to local culture and food, and bringing onboard relevant experts.
For example, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) has redesigned its Connections European River Cruise Journeys for 2017 with 11 trips providing insider experiences for groups of up to 24 people.
The program has added three new journeys along the Seine, Rhine and Danube rivers, as well as a new 140-passenger ship, the Amadeus Provence, which debuts in April.
A&K Connections somewhat follows a “group within a group” concept, with guests dining together at reserved tables onboard the ships and at exclusive shoreside meals. Connections guests receive preferred cabins with walk-out or French balconies and local wines and beers at lunch and dinner, on and off the ship.
At port, Connections guests take part in specially designed shore excursions utilizing private vehicles. They’ll explore local neighborhoods and markets, as well as meet with local artisans, musicians and culinary authorities. Connections guests are accompanied throughout by a Resident Tour Director, who calls upon decades of regional experience to open the doors of local life and culture for clients.
Connections sailings include pre- and post-cruise overnight city visits, staying in centrally located, boutique properties not available to larger groups in cities such as Amsterdam and Paris.
Meanwhile, luxury river cruise company Aqua Expeditions is bringing onboard conservationist and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau in a new collaboration.
Cousteau founded the Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to support the pioneering work of his father, Jacques Cousteau, and has received international awards for his advocacy of ocean conservation.
He will be hosting five, seven-night departures in 2017 and 2018 on both the Aria Amazon and Aqua Mekong. Each cruise will include evening talks led by Cousteau and screenings of several of his films. Passengers will learn about his experiences and insights in an intimate setting; Aria Amazon and Aqua Mekong carry only 32 and 40 guests, respectively.
Cousteau will be onboard Aqua Mekong’s weeklong cruises departing Sept. 15, 2017, from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Feb. 23, 2018, from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; and Sept. 14, 2018, from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
In addition, Cousteau will sail with guests booking Aqua Amazon’s Feb. 9 and Oct. 5 sailings in 2018, both roundtrip from Iquitos, Peru.
Each departure is available for FIT bookings or as a full charter.