European River Cruising at “Half the Price, Twice the Fun”
Well, that slogan certainly caught my attention as I was shopping for a 2019 river cruise on some part of the European continent that I had not yet explored.
A US-based company launched in 2017, Teeming River Cruises, www.teemingrivercruises.com, is an independent, family-owned business founded with the intent of being the low-price leader in European river cruises. For the past few years, river cruisers have usually paid a price that includes quite a few expensive items that guests may or may not choose to use, such as daily guided tours off the boat often with charter busses being among the most expensive inclusions among them.
As well-seasoned travelers on six continents themselves, owners, Jeff and Gina Paglialonga, decided to try a different approach. “While we do offer a detailed port briefing and provide each client with an excellent city walking tour guide app showing highlights and streets for every attraction and route, our cruisers only pay extra if they choose a fully guided tour. Likewise, while some companies allow unlimited alcohol or wine & beer with every meal, Teeming River Cruises offers coffee and tea around the clock and with meals but alcohol packages are an additional cost. We don’t include airport transfers to or from the ship either because so many of our guests like to spend extra days in towns or cities at the beginning or end of our cruise itineraries. Why should they pay for built-in transfer costs they are not using?”
“Because we lease our vessels for different itineraries where they are located, we can shop for the best price while choosing a shoulder season, off-season or even prime season. It makes a big price difference which we pass on to our clients,” concludes Jeff. “However, we are proud to say that there is no compromise on the always top quality of any vessel we lease.”
Check out the line-up for Summer/Fall 2019 and 2020, and you will be impressed with the prices offered in US dollars, British pounds and Australian dollars, giving some clue about chief markets for attracting clients. Each route is offered only once a year, and there are about 4 to 5 solo cabins per cruise.
So how does the name “teeming” fit into the company name? Gina jumps in to answer that one, “We picked it because our cruises are teeming with affordability, flexibility, individual control, active options for different abilities and interests, and plenty of port time to exercise them all! We have found that our travelers love the opportunity to create their own adventures and itineraries while exploring lovely cities and ports on the iconic waterways of Europe.”
Though still pretty fresh in the river cruising market, the top three countries from which Teeming River Cruises clients come so far are the USA, Canada and Australia. About 28% are between 45 and 60 years, while 64% are 61 or better. These traveling adventurers recognize a good deal and are always up for some of that promised fun!
Images courtesy of Teeming River Cruises.
New Explorations by Small Ship of Australia’s Most Remote Coastlines
Premier small-ship company, AdventureSmith Explorations, adventuresmithexplorations.com, has created a new portfolio of cruises along Australia’s largely uninhabited, 16,000-mile coastline where small ships with shallow drafts have exclusive access. These regions include remote areas of the Kimberley outback (northern Australia), the Great Barrier Reef and the coastline of the country’s southeast island state of Tasmania.
“Don’t shortchange this great destination by trying to do too much,” advises Todd Smith, visionary founder and president of AdventureSmith Explorations. “We pair our cruises with knowledgeable guides, local insight and comfortable small ships that utilize the vast coastline for unique access where we can go deeper into the backcountry.”
Following are cruise itineraries that reflect Todd’s philosophy…
The 11-day “Kimberley- Cruising to the Australian Outback” opens up a world that is to Australians as Alaska is to Americans. Australians consider The Kimberley in Australia’s northern territory to be their last frontier. This is the least densely populated region of Australia.
Here guests witness a coastal topography with tides that rise and fall sometimes 33 feet. They view aboriginal cave art of indigenous populations and enjoy world-class birding on an island that harbors 18,000 breeding pairs of brown boobies as well as Roseate terns and is a significant breeding area for green sea turtles.
Activities may include hiking, scenic helicopter flights (added cost), kayaking, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, land treks, wildlife observation, cultural and village visits and participating in conservation efforts. Cruises depart either Darwin or Broome from March through October on any of three small adventure ships for 46 to 120 passengers.
“Pristine Tasmania” is an eight-day cruise on the 72-guest Coral Discoverer that has set a benchmark for luxury small ship cruising around Australia and in the South Pacific. This is an authentic expedition voyage with a flexible itinerary that enables the captain to respond to weather forecasts to ensure access to the best parts of Tasmania in the best possible conditions. For example, if conditions allow, guests spend two days exploring the untouched Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area at Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour. Normally only accessible by a seven-day hike or by light aircraft, this region is among the most pristine and beautiful landscapes on Earth. In the spirit of adventure, guests are advised the day prior where their next adventure lies — perhaps an oyster farm, an undiscovered track or even a seal colony basking in the sun.
In Tasmania, national parks are the star, some featuring gorges with nearly 1,000-foot-high-cliffs. Seals, dolphins and albatross make exciting guest appearances throughout the cruise. Guests hike with an expedition team including a guest Parks and Wildlife Ranger, kayak and cruise in an inflatable skiff, on a glass-bottom boat and on the ship’s special Xplorer tender. Departures roundtrip from Hobart (accessed from gateway cities in Australia) in January, February and March.
Departing from the gateway town of Cairns, “Great Barrier Reef Cruises” are four-, five- and eight-day year-round cruises that see past the world of day-boat visitors, while staying aboard two small adventure ships for 42 or 46 guests. These cruises reveal an underwater world that transmits magic to the eyes as a symphony does to the ears. The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef, parallels much of Australia’s eastern coast.
These cruises allow more time to explore healthy, thriving and complex reef structures without competing for space with all the other snorkel and dive boats. The longer eight-day tour beginning in Cairns visits Cooktown where the world explorer, Captain James Cook in 1770 claimed Australia as a British colony. Guests are introduced to indigenous culture at a cultural park and in botanic gardens and may glimpse the antics of native Australian wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies.
Slowly moving down Australia’s eastern coast, individual coral cays become centers of attention. Guests board glass-bottomed boats at the first stop. A marine biologist introduces sea turtles, giant clams, rays, over 200 species of native birds and at some cays over 1,500 species of fish that inhabit this World Heritage-listed wonder of nature. Marine life in one region thrives in a mangrove eco-system: crocodiles, dolphins, turtles and dugongs all feeding on plentiful sea grasses. On Dunk Island a rainforest walk reveals the blue-winged Ulysses butterfly, yellow-bellied sunbird, emerald dove and orange-footed scrub fowl.
Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is a recognized leader in small ship cruising with itineraries worldwide. In 2012 owner Todd Smith first joined the ranks of Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious world’s Top Travel Specialists list as the leading expert on small ship expeditions. For two feature articles in our Travel Article Library where AdventureSmith’s small-ship cruise expertise is clearly demonstrated, we invite you to check out “The World’s Most Rewarding Bird Viewing Cruises,” and “Five Top Spots to Watch for Whales on Small Ship Expeditions.” The wildlife photography is pretty amazing!
“Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.”
World Food Travel Association
A New Book Celebrates the Centenary of Arizona’s Grand Canyon as a National Park
In 2019 we celebrate 100 years since the designation of Grand Canyon National Park, and yet the river that is the flowing heart of this land has been carving this greatest of all chasms for millions of years. Water, time, and wind are portrayed with aesthetic sensitivity by Annerino.” – WB
In the Chasms of Water, Stone, and Light, by author/photographer/adventurer, John Annerino, takes us off the Grand Canyon’s tourist grid to retrace the footpaths and rough-water passages of its earliest explorers. Spectacular photographs and stories of Annerino’s own precarious expeditions in the canyon and on the Colorado River are intermingled with historical tales, illustrations, and black-and-white images taken by pioneering photographers.
In the Chasms of Water, Stone, and Light: Passages Through the Grand Canyon by John Annerino. Schiffer Publishing, www.schifferbooks.com, 2019. Hardcover, 176 pages, 146 images, ISBN-13: 978-0764357602. Available from the publisher’s website, from local bookshops and through Amazon.
The author visits the ancient sites of native peoples who roamed the far corners of this otherworldly abyss, and in vivid prose provides firsthand descriptions of the hidden landscapes explored by Spanish missionaries, scientists, National Geographic Society parties, and women river runners. These trailblazing treks tested their endurance in extreme conditions and, for some, yielded rare plant and animal specimens that were collected for scientific study.
The images are daring, moving beyond terra-cotta postcard vistas; they include a sliver of indigo sky as seen gazing heavenward from the depths of Buckskin Gulch, a flash flood where the river runs russet, and stones that the waters have, over many millennia, whittled and smoothed into mushroom form.” – Today Show
John Annerino is a photographer and author of distinguished photography books, photographic essays, and calendars of the American West and Old Mexico. His work has appeared in Time, LIFE, New York Times, Scientific American, Travel & Leisure, and Arizona Highways. He has dedicated his life to photographing, researching, and writing about endangered landscapes, Native peoples, Western cowboys and Spanish traditions.
“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
Top Five Most Sustainable Travel Countries … See if you agree!
A new travel company, Elle Voyage, https://ellevoyage.life/, specializes exclusively in vacations for women seeking adventure, different cultures, diverse continents, and breath-taking landscapes. About 70% of clients are between 45 and 60, with the majority from the UK, Scandinavia and the U.S. thus far. Owner, Dawn Simone, is passionate about keeping travel sustainable in a world where the negative effects of human activity are far more in the news than the positive ambitions of those who would protect environments and traditional cultures. Herself a worldwide rambler all her adult life, Dawn shares her top five sustainable travel destinations with Travel with a Challenge readers:
1. Iceland – perhaps because of its uniqueness and beauty, Iceland has become an enormously popular place to visit in a short space of time. Naturally, this has put strain on infrastructure and nature. Now over 300 Icelandic tourism companies have agreed on a country-wide declaration on responsible tourism with clear and simple sustainable measures to help tourism thrive in harmony with the environment! See Elle Voyage’s “Incredible Iceland” tour.
2. Costa Rica – one of the planet’s prime ecotourism destinations for several decades. Many of its hotels, isolated nature lodges, and tour operators around the country are pioneers and dedicated professionals in the sustainable tourism field. As an enviable role model for other countries to follow, many places are quite literally built into the environment so as not to disturb the natural order in which they operate. See Elle Voyage’s “Diverse Costa Rica” tour. Also check out an inspiring feature article in our publication’s Travel Article Library, “Costa Rica’s Five Best National Parks” to see what eco-delights await!
3. Slovenia – many people skip over Slovenia (not to be confused with Slovakia) when planning a trip to Europe, which is a shame since the capital, Ljubljana, is not only gorgeous but also one of the eco-friendliest destinations in Europe. In 2016 it won the European Green Capital distinction, and in 2017 was ranked on the list of global top 100 sustainable destinations for the third time. [editor’s note: check out this feature article in our publication’s Travel Article Library to see what the amazingly diverse countryside has to offer from the Julian Alps in the north to two of the world’s most fascinating cave systems in the south, “Slovenia and Croatia: From a War Zone to a Travel Zone Blessed by Nature.”]
4. New Zealand – New Zealand has long been at the forefront of sustainable tourism and a top destination for travelers who love nature and indigenous Māori culture. Recently, it has taken the bold step of engaging both its own population and visitors to its shores by adopting 14 Māori principles that focus on visitors, community, environmental, and economic wealth. It is a welcome invitation to visitors as they touch down in New Zealand to be mindful of their surroundings and tread lightly in this fragile land. [editor’s note: read more about this “Tiaki Promise” in our TravelWatch newsletter. And discover some of its unique endemic wildlife with a feature article, “New Zealand’s Small Five, Rare and Endangered Animals.”]
5. Norway – has a very strong ethic when it comes to traveling around this northern gem. Norwegians aim to preserve their landscapes and communities by taking care of the environmental actions they encourage from everyone. Theirs is a long term perspective with all their tourism geared towards ecotourism and sustainability. Green tourism plays a central role in reflecting Norwegian values and giving visitors a glimpse into what sustainability really means for people and business. See https://www.visitnorway.com/ to discover why fjords, towering mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, northern lights and countless rivers are pure spectacle with landscapes to leave you breathless.
Calling our readers! Do you have other country candidates with a proven commitment to and track record of sustainable tourism? We would like to hear by email why you think they qualify: firstname.lastname@example.org.