Last year I wrote about my top five aspirational cruises for 2019. Part of what makes travel so intriguing is planning trips and longing to go places that you may not have gone before. One of my favorite past times is going on Instagram and living vicariously through others as they document their journeys. That is why I like to do these aspirational lists, because part of the romance of travel lives within the fantasy of trips that may I may never take – but hope to.
1. AmaMagna – Gems of Southeast Europe
This lower Danube sailing visits five countries, starting in Budapest, Hungary and ending in Giurgiu, Romania. With stops in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, this cruise does not have a single stop on the itinerary I have seen before. Excursions include biking, wine tastings, walking tours, hikes and more.
I will admit that while the itinerary does sound amazing, the ship is what sells me on the cruise. AmaMagna debuts in May of this year, and after doing an interview with Kristin Karst and talking about AmaMagna, I am curious to see what this ship will offer.
My dad cruised the Lower Danube on Emerald Sky in April of 2016. See his story, An Incredible Journey: Enchantment Of Eastern Europe On Emerald Sky.
2. CroisiEurope African Dream – Africa Cruise
This one feels a little bit like cheating because it was on my previous list as well. I wrote about being excited about the visit to Chobe National Park, which this cruise offers. As an animal lover, I can say that is part of what puts this itinerary at the top of my list for the second time; however, what really made me incorporate this again was my recent interview with Devin Quinn.
Devin took the same trip that I had written about, although she did hers over the summer and I wrote about one that was in the winter. Not only did she speak highly about her trip to Chobe National Park, but also the hike she did to Victoria Falls, the walk the group did into an African village, and more. Speaking with Devin really solidified my desire to take this trip because even months after she completed it, she was still so enthusiastic about it. Her excitement about the itinerary confirmed what I already felt I would – or could – experience.
3. Avalon Imagery II – Central European Experience
Yet another inspiration taken from a podcast interview, Avalon’s Central European Experience cruises from Prague to Paris. Sailing along the Rhine, Moselle and Main Rivers, this itinerary provides guests the opportunity to do a lot of sightseeing, including guided walking tours, special sightseeing tours, wine tastings and more.
In my interview with Pam Hoffee, I learned more about the programs Avalon has in place to offer guests choice. Most notably is the Avalon Choice program, which allows guests to choose the type of shore excursion they would like to do – active, discovery or classic. Classic excursions focus more on history and sites, while discovery excursions focus more on cultural emersion, and active on things like hiking, biking, and kayaking. I would enjoy trying all of these different excursions to see what Avalon has to offer.
4. Crystal Bach – Amsterdam Roundtrip
This seven-day cruise through Belgium and the Netherlands is on my list for an odd reason. It is, of course, on my list because I want to experience a Crystal River cruise, but also … I didn’t like Amsterdam when I went the first time.
Now obviously, wanting to see Amsterdam in a new light is part of the reason that I put this on my top five, but there are plenty of cruises that go to Amsterdam. I chose Crystal because I want to experience the luxury that the line provides on the river.
Having done all these interviews that you have heard about in the first three itineraries on this list, it is clear that these cruise executives have done a good job in showing me what they do to set themselves apart from the rest. My interview with Walter Littlejohn was different. Instead of focusing solely on what Crystal does differently, he focused on what Crystal did that was the same as other lines and how they have crafted it into a luxury experience. He was so proud and had such enthusiasm in his product, there was no way I couldn’t include it on this list.
5. Ralph Grizzle’s Barge Trip – Alsace
A barge trip is just something that I would really like to do. I have mentioned time and time again that one of my favorite things about river cruising is the small setting and the small number of passengers onboard. When you look at a barge cruise compared to a river cruise, that number is cut way down; barges typically carry fewer than two dozen guests.
Apart from the number of guests, I am also interested in Alsace. Having never visited that part of France, the best way to do so seems to be by ship. The barge cruise would offer a completely new opportunity for me, and the pace of the cruise would offer a unique perspective on this region that I have heard is so magical. It just so happens that my dad hosts barge trips annually.
In April of 2020, he is offering three hosted barge cruises in France, two in Burgundy, and one in Alsace. These trips are 1) All-inclusive 2) Intimate, with only 22 guests on each trip, and 3) Interesting, with included tours in some of France’s most beautiful cities and villages For more information: Three 2020 Barge Trips In France.