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The hidden costs of most all-inclusive tours can quickly add up once you factor in gratuities, shore excursions, and single supplements. Not so with Smithsonian Journeys, which has just announced three new all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise deals that include: international airfare, shore excursions in each port, on-board lectures, gratuities to shipboard staff, and more. Unlike most cruises (where you won’t need any brainpower beyond what’s required for reading the latest trashy magazines poolside), be prepared to learn on these cruises, as they are run by the world-famous Smithsonian Institution’s travel branch.
The cruises offered are fairly lengthy, in order to allow cruisers to have ample time to explore the amazing cultural sites throughout the Mediterranean. Choose from:
“The Wonders of Turkey and the Greek Isles” (June 23-July 6) or “The Glories of Greece and Turkey” (July 1-14), which both stop in the Greek Islands of Crete, Delos, Mykonos and Samos; the historic Turkish cities of Ephesus and Aprodisias; and World Heritage sites in Athens and Istanbul. Land stops in Istanbul and Athens are also included. Book either one of these cruises by March 31st, and pay only $3,195 (which includes international airfare from select East Coast cities).
Or pay a little bit more ($3,750) and try the “Splendors of Italy and the Dalmatian Coast” (May 31-June 15), featuring the Italian cities of Rome, Corsica, Sardinia, Venice and Sicily; the tiny country of Malta; and Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split.
All three cruises will take place on-board the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey, which features a spa, pool, library, lecture theater, and a variety of dining options. Be sure to take advantage of Smithsonian Journeys’ unique lecture programs with on-board experts, to help you learn about what you’ll be seeing off the boat. Or, just hang out at one of the Odyssey’s three bars – your call.
THE LUXURY The Oberoi motor vessel Vrinda, which sails the backwaters of Kerala, India, shares the elegant appointments typically found in Oberoi hotels. Voyagers will spend three nights in one of eight timber-wood framed cabins, with picture windows providing views of the Alleppey Canal. Onboard, costumed musicians and dancers will provide insight into Indian culture. Separate excursions involve sailing on handbuilt rice boats to temples and traditional homes.
THE VALUE Readers can save 10 percent on trips from February through April; reduced rates start at $2,060 per cabin (based on double occupancy). Travelers from Mumbai receive two complimentary nights at The Oberoi, Mumbai.
THE CATCH Nonstop routes to Mumbai offer the easiest access from the States, but the hotel is more than 850 miles from the ship’s embarkation point, near Kochi, necessitating an extra flight.
THE DETAILS 800/562-3764 (mention Smart Luxury Travel); oberoihotels.com
From the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine.
THE LUXURY With a fleet that debuted two years ago, Canada-based Scenic Tours’ European river cruises offer in-suite butler service, three dining venues, and full balconies in most of the staterooms. Guests can embark from Amsterdam on a 13-night journey, stopping in medieval German towns, Luxembourg, and France’s Alsatian wine region, before winding down in Basel, Switzerland.
THE VALUE The cost of the March 30 Romantic Rhine and Moselle river cruise starts at $4,105, $615 lower than other 2011 excursions. Readers who book by February 28 will save $500 a person on March and April sailings from Amsterdam
(March departure only) or Basel. Rates cover all excursions, beer, wine, soft drinks, and gratuities.
THE CATCH Port charges and fees, which total $265 a person, are additional.
THE DETAILS 866/689-8611 (mention Smart Luxury Travel); scenictours.com
From the December/January Smart Luxury Awards issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine.
THE LUXURY Azamara Club Cruises (formerly Azamara) provides destination-focused itineraries with lengthier port visits. On November 29, the Azamara Journey will sail the Caribbean on a 12-night cruise from Miami that includes visits to French-fl avored St. Martin and St. Barts, verdant St. Kitts, beach-centric Antigua, and prime ports in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. During four days at sea, programs will provide insight into the region, while culinary demonstrations will showcase local cuisine.
THE VALUE Prices have been reduced 50 percent to $1,999 a person for inside cabins, including gratuities and a $1,000 ship credit. Mention the magazine when booking an oceanview cabin or a berth of higher value and receive an additional $150 for onboard spending. This exclusive offer expires October 31.
THE CATCH An oceanview cabin is priced $600 higher than an interior cabin.
THE DETAILS 877/999-9553 (price codePRSH01); azamaraclubcruises.com
From the fall issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine, by ShermansTravel.com.
THE LUXURY Carrying just 49 guests, Greece-based Variety Cruises’ M/Y Pegasus navigates the remote waterways of West Africa, offering comfortable cabins with showers and large porthole windows. The yacht embarks on seven-night return voyages from Dakar, Senegal, along the Gambia and Saloun rivers. Passengers spot monkeys, anteaters, and warthogs, and take in cultural highlights such as Gambian craft markets in Banjul, ancient stone megaliths in Wassu, and a Senegalese fishing village.
THE VALUE The rates to book top-tier Category A cabins on the December 24, 31, and January 7 voyages run about $320 less than later 2011 prices. Mention Sherman’s Travel to save an added 10 percent, lowering rates to $2,583 or more, and receive a $75 onboard credit. This exclusive deal must be booked by October 30.
THE CATCH Shore excursions are not included in the pricing.
THE DETAILS 800/319-7776 (code SHERM); varietycruises.com
From the Fall 2010 issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.
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