I can't ignore this week the sad passing of Anthony Bourdain. Over the last several years he was a true inspiration to me, and had shaped the way we personally travel, as well as giving us courage to set up our business. I loved how he was as happy in a 3-star Michelin restaurant as he was in a tiny plastic chair outside a cafe on the streets of Hanoi. I think you could sense a dark side in him from some of his commentary, but clearly his pain was deep. I have no sense of understanding when something like this happens, I just hope we can realize the signs and act if such depression affects anyone close to us.
We attended both our main travel consortia's and our host agency's conference in the last week down in Fort Lauderdale, and have a wealth of new product information that we are still digesting. As you know, we don't highlight particular suppliers very often as there are so many choices and we are in the business of fitting our clients to exactly the right trip. That said, there are some amazing new travel options coming down the road, many of which will need to be planned many months in advance in order to not be disappointed.
TOP 5 FOR 2019 LIST THAT NEEDS TO BE BOOKED QUITE SOON
1. AmaMagna - AmaWaterways
For anyone who has held out from the river cruise trend, this ship might just get you to take the plunge. It is almost exactly double the width (and same length) of all other river cruise ships and yet is barely going to add more passengers, with just 196 capacity. Most suites (below) will be 355 sq. ft with a full balcony. AmaWaterways has an understated luxury product and the staff on board are the absolute epitome of perfect service if our cruise last August on the Rhine is anything to go by. It will only be sailing on the Danube and debuts in May 2019. There will be multiple dining venues and 5 bars.
The continent has very quickly become an amazingly popular destination over the last few years as "adventure" and "explorer" craft have been designed and launched with the intrepid traveler in mind. The window for travel each year is small - November thru February approximately, and 2018 is sold out save a few spaces here and there. The Scenic Eclipse (above), an incredible new luxury explorer ship will be there in 2019 and already have dates set for 2020.
3. Celebrity Edge
Celebrity are in that sweet spot as a Premium cruise line, which effectively means casual luxury and are popular with as broad a range of demographics as any cruise line out there. Kids and great grandparents all love them. Whilst their new ship, which launches this November, will not compete in the "who's got the biggest one" competition, it will be rife with innovation and is selling quickly. There will be a Magic Carpet (above), a platform on the outside of the ship that can be raised and lowered and will serve multiple purposes depending on which level it is situated. Also the concept of EDEN (below) will be introduced which Celebrity describe as a true window to the world—literally. It's three stories of windows that look out to the ocean, with two areas of al fresco seating on both sides of Eden for breathing in the refreshing salt breezes.
4. National Parks
Not a new product or idea, but if you ever want to stay in a top lodge of an USA National Park on an independent trip, then you should be booking now for Summer 2019. Majestic Yosemite Hotel (right, formerly the Ahwahnee) is one such luxury lodge that is well worth the commitment of booking early.
5. Lady Gaga
In December 2018 the pop-world and fashion icon will start a 2 year residency at the MGM Park Theater, Las Vegas, with 74 dates spread out over that time. The venue is small enough at 5,300 to ensure these tickets are going to be at a premium. Tickets are not on sale yet, but what a great weekend this could be!
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