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“Boy, that was a fantastic cruise, but I could’ve traveled even more.”
Have your clients ever shared this thought with you?
Many cruise lines are putting a strong effort into extending itineraries before, after and — sometimes — during sailings, with exceptional cruise shore excursions. They each have different proprietary names for their individual offerings, but Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Windstar Cruises have recently teased their newest extensions.
Of course, the benefit to travel agents is the chance to sell additional products to customers —making extra commission along the way — all while arranging an even greater vacation package for them. Here’s a sampling of what’s available.Azamara Club CruisesAzamara already puts a high priority on the places to which it travels with its Destination Immersion culture, which features longer stays in port, with overnights included. Now, its City Stays add three nights or more of hotel stays; certain meals; and transfers from the port to the hotel as well as from the airport. The pre and post program is in collaboration with luxury tour operator Cox & Kings to enhance trips via Azamara Journey, Azamara Pursuit and Azamara Quest.
Emphasizing a regional perspective are the following examples:
- Barcelona, Spain: Going beyond the city highlights, epicureans can enjoy the shopping and museums in the arts district of El Born, as well as flamenco dancing, tasting sweets with a fourth-generation candy artisan and dining with locals. Guests will partake in a picnic lunch with a local family and sample Spanish wines with a regional connoisseur.
- Rome: Clients can get a deep dive into the workings of an organic farm, all while learning about bread- and gnocchi-making, picking wild herbs, checking out a milk and cheese laboratory, going horseback riding and enjoying a lakeside lunch. Participants will also discover the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel ahead of public opening hours before having dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
- Singapore: Guests will be joined by a local food critic who will guide them through the city-state’s culture while visiting regional artisans such as a fifth-generation baker, a paper house master and a coffee connoisseur.
Oceania CruisesWith a fleet of six upscale ships, Oceania offers 86 optional land tours in Australia, Asia, Africa, Egypt and Israel, Europe, South America, Alaska and Canada. The line’s Land Tour Series is available before and after cruises, in addition to during sailings; the itineraries last one to five nights each.
Here are a few of the highlights:
- Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal and Mount Everest: Not only will participants visit Mumbai, Patan and Bhadgaon in India; and Kathmandu, Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath in Nepal, but they will also fly over Mount Everest, have a private audience with the Living Goddess, stop at a Tibetan monastery and witness an evening prayer ritual.
- Taj Mahal: Eternal Masterpiece: Either as a two- or three-night option, this excursion brings guests to India’s UNESCO World Heritage-designated Taj Mahal, which is considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Clients will see the Agra Fort and tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, as well as enjoy a Kathak dance performance.
- Luxury Safari: White Elephant Safari Lodge: With an overnight at South Africa’s White Elephant Safari Lodge, located within Pongola Game Reserve, travelers will experience two game drives, nature walks, afternoon tea and sundowners, plus birdwatching or a cruise on Lake Jozini.
- Luxury Safari: Belmond Eagle Island Lodge: The luxuriously contemporary Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta is a home base for seeking out elephants, hippos, crocodiles, big cats and more. On top of two evenings at the property, the itinerary includes one night each in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Glaciers, Lagoons & Waterfalls: The natural wonders of Iceland come to life at the Langjokull and Solheimajokull glaciers; Hraunfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls; Deildartunguhver thermal spring; and the Blue Lagoon. The program also encompasses a culinary tour of Reykjavik and overnights in Stracta and Husafell.
- Royal London & The English Countryside: Classics on this English excursion include the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels, Changing of the Guard and a Thames River voyage. In the countryside, the Cotswolds, Bibury, Burford and the Roman Baths in Bath await.
- Rome & Tivoli Treasures: Clients will see highlights of Rome during tours of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica (the latter is a private tour). The trip also features Tivoli and its UNESCO World Heritage Site of Villa D’Este.
- Canadian Rockies by Rocky Mountaineer: Clients will enjoy exclusive excursions in Banff and Sulphur Mountain in Alberta, as well as in Vancouver, British Columbia, via the world’s largest private luxury train and its SilverLeaf Service. All meals and snacks are included.
Windstar CruisesBeyond a fleet of adventurous sailing ships and motor yachts, Windstar is offering the Easy Stays cruise-hotel-transfer program in collaboration with international hotels and destination management companies. Overnight accommodations, ranging from boutiques to more modern properties, are available in more than 30 embarkation and disembarkation cities.
Local accommodations are elevated with included transfers between hotel and ship or ship and hotel; luggage porterage; all taxes and resort fees; and, at most properties, complimentary Wi-Fi access. The program further guarantees preferred room categories and upgrades when available, in addition to daily complimentary breakfast. Dishes may feature poisson cru (a type of ceviche), croissants and vanilla honey in Tahiti; dolma, yogurt and goat cheese in Greece; or bangers, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes in Britain.
Example turnaround properties include Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa in Bali; Hotel Granvia Kyoto in Japan; Mandarin Oriental Singapore; Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens or St. George Lycabettus Lifestyle Hotel in Greece; Hotel Borg or Hilton Reykjavik Nordica in Iceland; Ambasciatori Palace in Rome; The Bristol Panama; and Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino.
Meanwhile, Easy Stays are also reservable in certain ports of call, such as Moorea and Bora Bora for the likes of Tahitian overwater bungalows. These are available as premium choices in the middle of an itinerary, when guests have the option to spend unique nights onshore. During our cruise onboard Wind Spirit, my wife and I had the chance to tour Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, for instance, and suffice it to say, its tranquil guestrooms suspended over tropical waters are just as spectacular as you’d imagine.
The DetailsAzamara Club Cruiseswww.azamaraclubcruises.com