We are on the world's newest cruise line, Voyages to Antiquity, as it commences on its third cruise. Today we were treated to real news that will make the line even more appealing to travelers who want to see this important and beautiful part of the world. Next year the line will make these Mediterranean voyages more inclusive and diversified at the same time.
Why fly all the way to Europe and not spend enough time in the great cities, such as Rome, Athens or Istanbul? In 2011 Voyages to Antiquity will include extended stays in those cities as part of their program on every cruise. In keeping with the theme of the line; where gratuities, wine, shore excursions and airfare are all already included in the quoted price you pay; each cruise will now include a pre-cruise land stay in a major city for at least two nights.
Most cruises will be shortened in length; where this year they average 14 to 16 days, including the travel time from the United States, next year each cruise will sail for seven to 12 days, but there will be a stay of two or three nights pre-cruise in the city where the cruise begins. The pre-cruise stays are included in the cruise fare; or optional for people who do not have the time or money. They can still cruise with Voyages to Antiquity for seven days, and the "land portion" of their cruise fare will be discounted from the total price.
That land portion should average about $300, quite affordable compared to other pre-cruise stays in Europe on mainstream cruise lines. Other lines charge as much as $1500 per person for a three day pre-cruise stay in Rome.
Furthermore, all cruises are one-way, meaning they start in one destination and end in a different one. For the most part, a cruise never repeats. So one could book a cruise beginning in Istanbul, stay two or three nights in a hotel, and then cruise on two or more back to back cruises and never repeat a port of call.
With Voyages to Antiquity, just so you know, the average cruise price begins at about $3495 in 2011. That includes airfare from the East Coast of the U.S. If you fly from the Central time zone add $99 per person, and add $199 for flying from the West Coast. That price includes air taxes, which come out to about $400 per person, this is not an added fee as it was on other cruise lines in the past. That air tax is included in the quoted cruise fare.
All of the innovative ideas we are seeing from Voyages to Antiquity come from Gerry Herrod, the owner and founder, who was also the person behind Orient Lines. If you were familiar with Orient Lines' policies you are already familiar with many of the Voyages to Antiquity concepts.
Another aspect of Voyages to Antiquity we have not discussed much yet involves the special "Concierge Cabins." All of these premium staterooms in the A-F categories are brand new from the floor up. Several older staterooms were torn out and for every three of the older staterooms they created two Concierge Class staterooms.
Concierge class staterooms include refrigerators in the staterooms, bathrobes and slippers, extra movie channels on the televisions, priority check-in and boarding for tours (especially helpful when the ship is tendering, which it will do regularly since the line specializes in unusual ports of call) and a "welcome bottle" of champagne in the stateroom. There are 82 Concierge class staterooms on the ship.
Another interesting aspect of Voyages to Antiquity is the availability of single cabins which do not involve a single supplement. I have noticed a number of single cruisers onboard, all just smiling because they are not being penalized for having a cabin alone.
In case you are wondering, the line has no plans to offer gentlemen hosts right now, although they could change their mind at a later date. The reason involves the intensity of the itineraries where they are in port for 27 out of every 28 days.
Our cruise line representative on this cruise, Mitch Schlesinger, couldn't help bragging about the history of Gerry Herrod, the line's founder. One reason this line should be so successful is because he has spent the last 30 years building relationships with the best land tour operators in Europe. Herrod created and managed the original TWA Travel Getaway plan, one of the first companies to offer organized tours of Europe. Many of the people who worked for Herrod under that plan became today's local tour operators, once TWA ended the program.
In any case - look to Voyages to Antiquity to offer great savings and convenience in cruises to Europe this year and next. Much of this year is already sold out, but a look at the newly designed Voyages to Antiquity web site they launched just yesterday shows it is more than worthwhile.