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The Arctic is an otherworldly land of boundless vistas, perpetual daylight in summer, glistening ice floes and abundant wildlife. No wonder that taking a North Pole cruise is becoming a growth industry in once rarely visited realms. One caveat: Unlike Antarctica, which is on a solid land mass, the North Pole has no true fixed location. It lies on a mass of always-shifting ice chunks in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, few ships actually sail to the pole. But many do get close, venturing within the Arctic Circle, above 66 degrees latitude. These are truly remote areas, so it's not surprising that Arctic trips to the North Pole tend to attract seasoned travelers looking to tick off one more spot on their bucket list. The expansive region takes in northern parts of Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Norway and Russia. Here's a breakdown of popular areas, and some lines and outfitters that'll take you there. But first, some general guidance.
Sponsored by AmaWaterways The Danube River, and the cities, towns and villages that lie alongside it, is crisscrossed by a massive patchwork of transportation infrastructure that serves planes, trains and automobiles. And yet, there's no better way to experience the ebb and flow of this dynamic, historic region than to center your travels along the region's most ancient transportation channel: the Danube River. What's special about a Danube cruise? It's rich with all kinds of history, much of which is ancient – representing Gothic, medieval, baroque and other fascinating periods of time. Much of the landscape is hilly or mountainous and frames beautiful views of darling villages and towns. And, the stops along the way balance destinations you've certainly heard of, including Vienna, where we begin, and Nuremberg, where the cruise ends. In between are some delightful surprises, like the village of Durnstein, where Austria's winegrowing industry is centered, arty Linz, sleepy Passau and super-charming Regensburg.
The Port of Barcelona is a vast complex of buildings and terminals befitting the city's status as one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world. With its eighth terminal scheduled to open in 2018, you might visit a new terminal each time you arrive or depart.
Arctic cruises are among the surest ways to spot polar bears in the wild, but as an old Inuit saying goes: "Before you have seen a polar bear, a hundred bears have seen you." A captain on an expedition cruise in Norway's Svalbard Archipelago once advised, "There are three types of
Sponsored by AmaWaterways Once upon a time, river cruises presented a very basic way to travel in Europe. As recently as the mid-1990s, the few ships cruising the Rhine were functional rather than elegant. The crew spoke little English, even during the single rudimentary shore excursion offered in each port. Cabins didn't just lack balconies -- the bathrooms were minuscule, the showers had clingy curtains. Dining was a meat-and-potatoes dirge, and greens were used strictly for ornamentation. "I went on a Viking cruise on the Danube back then," recalls Sue Bryant, cruise editor for The Sunday Times, who says the quality of the ships was completely different from what we know today. "The cabins were so much more basic, with pull-down bunk beds and nothing more than a porthole for the scenery."
Wide Mediterranean beaches, leafy pedestrian promenades, unique architecture and innovative dining have turned Barcelona into one of the most alluring destinations in Europe. The word clearly has gotten out, with more than 2 million cruise passengers disembarking in the city in 2017. The city is
From its labyrinthine cobbled lanes and charming shady squares to its majestic medieval architecture and broad leafy boulevards, Palma de Mallorca is by any measure one of the finest cities in the Mediterranean. Add world-class dining, buzzing nightlife, and a long stretch of sandy beach into the mix and you've got more than enough excuses to spend a couple of days in the capital of the Balearics before or after your cruise trip. But how to cram in all of the city's ample attractions into just 48 hours? Whether you're there over the bustling and searing summer months or the cooler and quieter winter, we've put together guide on how to do just that.
Sponsored by AmaWaterways Many of Europe's most fabled cities -- Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest and Vienna, for starters -- have grown up along the Continent's waterways and there's no easier or more comfortable way to explore them, and the stretches of forest, gorges, water meadows and vineyards in between, than by ship. River cruising has its similarities with ocean voyages: great food, service and value for money being just three of them. There are differences, too. Ships are much smaller, carrying no more than around 160, and are therefore more intimate. And, most important, you'll always have a view, whether you're lazing on deck gazing up at the medieval castles along the Middle Rhine or docked in the heart of Budapest, with all the bridges over the Danube lit up at night.
Sponsored by AmaWaterways For fans of river cruising, times have changed. There's no one better to help us trace the evolution, or dare we say revolution, that European river cruise travel has undergone than Rudi Schreiner. Schreiner, who ushered in Europe river cruising for lines such as Viking River and Uniworld before creating AmaWaterways, says his experiences go way back to the 1990s, when river cruises as we know it hadn’t yet evolved. Vessels were cramped, and service was bare-bones. “You had small cabins with bunks beds you would pull down at night,” he says. A decade later, when he helped start a company that became AmaWaterways, ships had already begun to change. Cabins were big enough to hold a queen bed. Dining had become a multi-course event, with gourmet food paired with wine. “It started getting more luxurious,” he said. “People would spend more time on the ship.”
As river cruising continues to boom, more and more lines compete for attention on the European waterways. While many American travelers have heard of companies such as Viking, Grand Circle, Tauck, AmaWaterways, Crystal and Avalon -- to mention just a few -- there are also some European companies out there that Americans probably don't know that may deserve consideration. Here's a look at who they are and what they offer.