Spotlight on New Year, New Ways to Travel

If there has ever been a year that people were most excited about its arrival, we’d argue to say it’s this one. The long-awaited 2021 is finally here, and we’re hoping for the best year yet. But, 2020 didn’t pass us by without making a positive mark – our perspectives were renewed, our businesses were reimagined, and our hearts were reset. In a year filled with grief and hardship, we somehow found a silver lining, and that is the proverbial restart button we’ve been given. 

Ride the Rails through North America's Rocky Mountains in 2021

Rocky Mountaineer is expanding its award-winning luxury train experience into the USA. The new route, Rockies to the Red Rocks, showcases the beauty of the Southwest. The two-day train journey will travel through the American Rockies, between Denver, Colorado, and Moab, Utah, showcasing enchanting hoodoos, inspiring deserts, and vast canyons. This route complements the three routes in Western Canada which connect Vancouver to the majestic Canadian Rockies.

Arches National Park, Moab. Credit Discover Moab.

The Experience

Rocky Mountaineer offers unparalleled journeys in its spacious glass-domed train coaches thanks to the incredible scenery, delicious cuisine, friendly service, and social atmosphere. They have been welcoming guests to explore Western Canada for 30 years, and their new route will offer everything a Rocky Mountaineer train journey is renowned for.

Onboard Rocky Mountaineer, everything is choreographed to make your journey feel special, effortless and unforgettable. On this newest route, the expansive SilverLeaf Service glass-dome coaches put you right in the heart of the stunning Southwest. From the comfort of your luxury seat, this journey of a lifetime offers impeccable service and storytelling from engaging Hosts, regionally inspired cuisine, and a front row seat to one of the most spectacular settings on the planet.

Enhance your onboard experience with SilverLeaf Plus, which includes all the benefits of the exceptional SilverLeaf Service, plus exclusive access to a newly renovated lounge car. Featuring signature cocktails, the lounge car offers additional space indoors to relax and soak in the scenery as it passes you by, as well as a small outdoor viewing area. Additionally, enjoy an elevated dining experience with an additional course during select meals, and premium alcoholic beverages.

Onboard SilverLeaf Service*

Route Highlights

The Rockies to the Red Rocks route showcases scenic views that are unique to the Southwest United States, as it travels between Colorado and Utah with options of traveling westbound or eastbound. 



Between Denver and Glenwood Springs, guests will journey alongside the Colorado River and through a series of canyons. Highlights include the Big 10 curve, an engineering marvel built in the early 1900s, to enable trains to slowly gain elevation before reaching the Continental Divide; and a series of canyons offering rugged scenery of steep rock walls, including Byers Canyon and Red Canyon. The canyons offer opportunities to view roaming wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain lions, deer, marmots and birds. 

The journey between Glenwood Springs and Moab offers a variety of scenery from chromatic deserts, to red sandstone formations that twist through the bright blue sky. Glide over the great divide and take in the spectacular De Beque Canyon, Mount Garfield and glimpses of Arches National Park. Witness Mount Lincoln, the eighth-highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, on this journey of a lifetime.

Canyonlands National Park, Moab. Credit: Discover Moab

Further Exploration

Rocky Mountaineer is working with local hotels and tour operators to curate custom vacation packages that feature tours, activities, and stays in Denver and Moab, so guests can experience even more of the region. The route will operate from August to October 2021 and the two-day rail journeys, including a one-night hotel accommodation in Glenwood Springs. Contact your Ensemble Travel Advisor to secure a booking with only a $25 USD refundable deposit, with flexible booking terms.

Mount Robson in the Canadian Rocky Mountains*

Western Canadian Routes

For those looking for views of snowy mountains and sparkling glacial lakes, join Rocky Mountaineer onboard a journey through the Canadian Rockies. Operating from April to October 2021, Rocky Mountaineer offers three distinctive rail routes in Canada connecting the Pacific city of Vancouver with the Canadian Rocky Mountains. These routes offer two onboard service choices: SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf Service.

The two-day First Passage to the West route rolls along the historic tracks of Canada’s first coast-to-coast railway between Vancouver and either Banff or Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. Journey through the Clouds travels between Vancouver and Jasper, with two days spent traversing some of the most remote landscapes in Canada, with scenery and wildlife largely untouched by humans. For those wanting to delve further into Western Canada’s history and diverse landscapes, the three-day Rainforest to Gold Rush route takes a northerly path between Vancouver and Jasper, uncovering the stories of those seeking their fortune. Can’t choose? Remember, each train journey can be travelled in either direction, or you can combine two of the Canadian rail routes for a Circle Journey.

Simply put, Rocky Mountaineer is a must-do travel experience that offers an unparalleled journey through some of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations.


Contact your Ensemble Travel Advisor to secure a 2021 booking on any of Rocky Mountaineer’s routes. For a limited time, book with the enhanced flexibility you need including a risk-free deposit, two free date changes, name changes and more.

*Images of the interior and exterior of the train are from Rocky Mountaineer’s Canadian route.

New Year, New Ways to Travel with ALG Vacations

It’s a new year and we’re ready for new beginnings! We caught up with Scott Wiseman, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Travel Agent Brands ALG Vacations™, who updated us on ALG Vacations’ new products and offerings.

Q: Tell us a bit about ALG Vacations™ and the products and services the company offers.

All of us at ALG Vacations™ are proud to have set ourselves apart this year as the organization that can put everything aside to put advisors and customers first. Our brands include trusted and prestigious names: Travel Impressions, Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations, Blue Sky Tours, United Vacations, and Southwest Vacations. Together, we provide complete vacation packages that deliver high value to consumers and innumerable rewards to our travel advisor partners.

Q: Are there any new products or offerings available when booking with ALG in 2021?

We are excited to have consolidated our individual brand exclusive traveler benefits programs into one comprehensive, straightforward collection for 2021. Exceptional Values, Insider Circle Perks, Partner Privileges, and Hotel Exclusive Benefits, formerly under brands like Travel Impressions and Apple Vacations, are now all united under the umbrella of ALGV’s Exclusive Perks program! What is provided is a clearer view of all the bonuses travel advisors can score for their customers, as they will be able to provide amenities and experiences that OTAs and hotel-direct can’t compete with.

And, of course, we always have new promotions coming out. From Pause to Play is our latest, and we’re making it even more attractive than ever for customers to push that button with their advisors. This promotion includes instant air credit, hundreds of dollars of savings on top of hotel rates discounted by as much as 70%, AND — for the first time — double the hotel discounts for bookings that are paid in full.

Q: For North American travelers looking to stay closer to home, what domestic options do you provide?

We actually have a lot of great options for those who want to stay stateside, especially through Travel Impressions and Apple Vacations who both have strong histories of domestic travel. Las Vegas has been tremendously popular this year, and Florida, California, and Arizona have also captured travelers’ attention. Additionally, many travelers are making their Hawaii vacation dreams finally come true, with unprecedented rates that make doing it right affordable.

And, of course, as travelers remain cautious and responsibly socially distanced, The Villa Experience by Travel Impressions has been great for families who want to get away but stay within their bubble of safety. These professionally managed properties are available across the U.S. as well as internationally, and they provide a perfect solution.

Q: How have your offerings changed in response to the pandemic?

If there was one value we really emphasized with 2020’s challenges, it was that we do it TOGETHER. How that translated into our business practices and offerings was that we shifted and adapted dynamically to the needs of our travel partners as they reported in. They demanded flexibility and leniency for their customers, championing travelers every step of the way. As a result, our policies have never been more flexible, and we continue to update them to shift to market demands. For instance, we’ve waived our brand change fees and brand cancel fees for new bookings well into the future, and we even launched a new three-tier, three-option Travel Protection Plus plan — all of which still provides the assurance of Cancel for Any Reason, which many of our competitors have discontinued. With different refund options and price brackets, which are also set on a sliding scale, we made confidence affordable, and we will continue to make adjustments like these to support our industry.

Q: What can travelers expect when it comes to ALGV’s change and cancellation policies?

They can expect … nothing! Literally! Third-party hotel and airline penalties may still apply, but we’ve eliminated our brand change and cancellation fees, as I’d mentioned, to better support new bookings. This was a bold policy change, we know, but we feel that anything we can do to help boost consumer confidence and advisor success is worth it. This was an expansion on a promotional policy that first removed first-instance sched air and ENVF package change fees, and having seen the efficacy of that, we felt compelled to make it bigger and better in thanks for our partners’ support throughout this difficult year.

Q: BONUS: Why should travelers choose to travel with ALG Vacations™?

Because our family of brands — particularly Travel Impressions and Apple Vacations — have been trusted and true for, collectively, over 150 years. No one knows as intimately or is as experienced in packaged travel to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Hawaii, and has the kind of vertically integrated structure that protects their vacation experience like ours does. Together, with our values and advisors-first approach, we’re a company that strives to do the right thing, looking out for advisors and their clients time after time, trip after trip.

Six Reasons to Cruise Sustainably

Hurtigruten is committed to sustainability while also doing everything we can to protect the vulnerable, fragile environments and communities in which we sail. Here are six concrete benefits to cruising sustainably while showcasing how Hurtigruten is committed to offering the most environmentally conscious expedition cruises on Earth. Learn more by contacting your Ensemble travel advisor.

1  |  Reduce Fuel Emissions

Climate change is real. Hurtigruten has responded to this crisis by investing in green technology and cleaner fuel, setting a new standard in environmentally conscious cruising. We aim to achieve emission-free operations within 20 years. We introduced the world’s first hybrid electric–powered cruise ships, referred to by a Cruise Critic reviewer as “the Prius of the Sea.” With Rolls-Royce engines that run in conjunction with battery packs, emissions are cut by 20%. Hurtigruten is also the first cruise line to power ships with liquified natural gas (LNG) and liquified biogas (LBG). LBG is fossil-free, renewable, and produced from organic waste, including waste matter from local fisheries, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 35%. This is a major departure from the rest of the cruise industry, which primarily uses heavy fuel oil (HFO). We banned HFO on our ships a decade ago, and we are currently advocating for a worldwide ban.

Image Credit: Hybrid electric ship receiving power on shore © Eivind Senneset/Hurtigruten/Bergen Havn

2  |  Enhance Local Communities

The way our ships impact the destinations we visit isn’t an afterthought at Hurtigruten. We ask ourselves the hard questions: What kind of impact do we have on local communities? Do we only take, or do we add value? At Hurtigruten, we give back by sourcing products and services from local suppliers, such as hiring local tour operators and sourcing food from local farms and fisheries. We are dedicated to creating a positive impact on the local communities, and we are contributing to the welfare of communities along our routes. By offering our guests insight into the culture of the communities we visit, we practice the importance of cultural exchange and mutual respect and understanding. Through the Hurtigruten Foundation, we also help financially support local projects in the areas we explore.

Image Credit: Musical artist in Greenland, © Andrea Klaussner/Hurtigruten

3  |  Protect Vulnerable Wildlife and Ecosystems

All of Hurtigruten’s cruises are dedicated to protecting and preserving vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems, and we always observe wildlife at an appropriate distance to preserve natural behavior and in no way disturb the wildlife. Hurtigruten encourages cooperation throughout the travel industry. As members of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) and a founding member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), we advocate, promote, and uphold safe and environmentally responsible travel. In the Arctic, this includes adhering to strict wildlife guidelines aimed to protect walrus, seals, birds, and cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), and visiting small Arctic communities in a dignified and respectful manner. In Antarctica, we adhere to guidelines designed to protect the vulnerable Antarctic ecosystem and wildlife including its renowned penguins, seals, elephant seals, whales, and so much more, and all visitors must abide by the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol on Environmental Protection.

Image Credit: Seal in Antarctica © Gian-Rico Willy/Hurtigruten

4  |  Minimize Plastic Waste for Healthier Oceans and Wildlife

Plastic pollution is the biggest threat to our oceans’ health, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife and marine ecosystems. Hurtigruten was the first major cruise line in the world to ban all single-use plastic from its entire fleet of ships. Everything from straws to drink­ing cups has been replaced with envi­ronmentally friendly alternatives made of biodegradable paper and other sustainable materials. On the other end of the spectrum, Hurtigruten has a long history of engaging our guests in beach clean-ups, since so much of the Earth’s pollution ends up on beaches due to sea currents. Much more important than the unsightliness of garbage on beaches is the danger this causes for wildlife, where birds and other animals may eat the plastic or get caught in fishnets or ropes. We use every landing as an opportunity to contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment and help protect vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems.

Image Credit: Beach cleaning at Svalbard © Genna Roland/Hurtigruten

5  |  Help Fight Mass Tourism

Hurtigruten has called for a stop to mass tourism in pristine areas, specifically in the regions we explore, including the Norwegian fjords, Antarctica, and some locations in the Arctic. We work for stricter regulations, such as size limitations on cruise ships and restricting the number of guests allowed on shore. We believe that expedition travel success should not be measured by the number of tourists, but by the lightness of the footprint we leave behind, how we give back to the communities we visit, and the quality of the guest experience.

Image Credit: Tourists in Norway © Thomas Lorenz/Hurtigruten

6  |  Activism Through Education

At Hurtigruten, we believe in science, and activism through education. Our ships are the perfect place for rediscovering the joy of learning. Expert Expedition Team members are specially selected to accompany each cruise to provide meaningful context, such as the history, culture, glaciology, geology, or wildlife of a destination, as well as its environmental challenges. Each ships’ Science Center has state-of-the-art microscopes, we coordinate Citizen Science projects that contribute to current scientific research around the world, and we partner with organizations such as the Arctic Marine Ecosystem Research Network (ARCTOS) to help their research. Guests can even meet with scientists as they conduct collaborative science sessions on board and ashore on select cruises. Our goal is to educate our guests and create ambassadors who return home to champion the protection of our planet’s most fragile ecosystems.

Image Credit: Expedition Team member giving a lecture in the Science Center © Oscar Farrera/Hurtigruten


So Much More Than a Suite

Welcome to The Retreat® — the ultimate in luxury vacation experiences — only on Celebrity. The Retreat isn’t a place. It isn’t an amenity. It isn’t a service. It’s all of that and more. The Retreat is an unparalleled vacation experience that includes every stunning suite, a private restaurant, an exclusive lounge, and a sundeck* that rivals any high-end resort. In fact, we’re the only premium cruise line to offer all this to every guest of The Retreat aboard any of our award-winning ships.

As a guest of The Retreat, you’ll also enjoy a long list of thoughtfully curated amenities, starting with five perks that are now Always IncludedSM—a shore excursion credit, premium drinks, streaming Wi-Fi, tips, and an onboard credit to spend any way you like.* Paired with a dedicated team of professionals who ensure you have everything you need for an unforgettable vacation, The Retreat is a luxurious way for you to discover the world.

Design by Kelly Hoppen

Design is extremely important in everything we do. So, in creating The Retreat venues, we collaborated with acclaimed designer Kelly Hoppen, MBE. With 40 years of experience at the forefront of the design industry, she’s one of the most sought-after interior designers in the world. Kelly’s globally renowned and ever-evolving style is underpinned by a subtle coordinated fusion of East meets West, featuring clean lines and neutral tones blended with charming warmth and sumptuous opulence.

Kelly brought her extraordinary talent and fresh perspective to the project to create distinct spaces that completely surround you in luxury. From the high-end resort venues like The Retreat Lounge, Sundeck, and Pool to the intimate and inviting spaces including Luminae restaurant and the luxurious collection of suites, Kelly has created venues and suites for The Retreat on our Celebrity Edge Series ships — and across the fleet as part of the Celebrity Revolution — that stand apart from any other spaces at sea.

The Celebrity Revolution

Celebrity Edge® introduced The Retreat to the world, and now we’re taking that experience to the rest of our fleet as part of our $500 million Celebrity RevolutionSM. Every ship will be updated with the addition of The Retreat Sundeck, the redesign of The Retreat Lounge, and reimagined suite accommodation interiors. So, every ship will offer the same extraordinary vacation experiences — found only on Celebrity.

The Retreat takes our passion for fine dining to delicious new heights at Luminae, the private restaurant for all guests of The Retreat. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the space features a boldly elegant design as distinctive as its cuisine. Not only is the restaurant exclusive, but so are its menus. Crafted by our Michelin-starred chef, the modern, eclectic cuisine served in Luminae is not available anywhere else on board, and the menu includes complimentary signature dishes from Chef Daniel Boulud, our Global Culinary Brand Ambassador.

The Retreat Sundeck

The Retreat Sundeck* is a luxurious outdoor area that rivals any high-end resort. Designed by Kelly Hoppen, MBE, this spacious lounge area makes it easy to unplug with plush, stylish furniture and an inviting pool on Celebrity Edge® Series ships. Dedicated attendants are at your service to make sure your every whim is tended to — cocktails, fresh towels, refreshing treats, you name it. This is a private escape within your escape, and it’s available for all guests of The Retreat.

*The Retreat Sundeck is available on all Edge® Series ships and all ships that have been revolutionized.

The Retreat Lounge*, designed by Kelly Hoppen, MBE, is available 24/7, and inside you’ll discover a warm and inviting space. Here, you’ll have access to an exclusive concierge who’ll make any arrangements you need — on board and off. You’ll also enjoy complimentary beverages, gourmet bites, and a comfortable place to read the latest best-seller, catch up on current events, watch the big game, or just kick your feet up and relax.

*The Retreat Lounge is referred to as Michael’s Club on all non-revolutionized ships.

The Accommodations — Suites

Every suite surrounds you in luxury with expansive, stunningly designed spaces that feature floor-to-ceiling sliding doors and windows. When you enter, you’ll discover a welcome bottle of champagne. That’s just the start of your in-suite culinary delights. Throughout your vacation, your butler will deliver savories every afternoon. Enjoy priority seating for specialty restaurants (your butler can make every reservation for you, of course), and 24-hour complimentary room service with a premium room service menu. You’ll enjoy premium drinks, so you can enjoy your favorite beverages throughout the ship, two complimentary bottles of spirits (of your choice), and mixers to enjoy cocktails in your suite. Your mini bar is stocked daily with complimentary beer, soft drinks, and water.* Even your wine will taste better served in the Riedel® crystal glassware in your suite. Every delicious bite has been carefully thought through—right down to the custom chocolates we put on your pillow every night at turndown.

We want you to feel right at home, so you’ll find everything you need to relax in total comfort, from the premium furniture and loungers to our exclusive eXhaleTM bedding, featuring a luxurious Cashmere Mattress, to plush Frette robes, towels, and slippers. Even your bath amenities are of the highest quality to wrap you in luxury from head to toe. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with every thoughtful detail you’ll discover.

You can stay connected throughout the ship with complimentary, streaming Wi-Fi. In your suite, you’ll be entertained with large, flat-screen TVs and reserved seating for theater shows. Feel like sightseeing from your veranda? We have high quality binoculars for you to use. Need a bag to take your belongings with you to The Retreat Sundeck (or anywhere else you may be going)? For your convenience, we’ll give you an exclusive tote bag custom designed by Nate Berkus.** All the thoughtful details and luxurious elements create a space so comfortable and inviting, you may find it difficult to leave.

There’s nothing we love more than taking our vacation experiences to new heights, so the work we put into creating The Retreat experience was our pleasure — because we know it will be yours, as well.

* Celebrity Suites and Sky Suites: additional fees apply for mini bar items.
** Available on Celebrity Edge Series ships only.

Image Credit: Celebrity Cruises

Step aboard the world’s greatest ships

Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.

A Space for Every Experience, Personal Space on Board

Sprawling suites, multiple dining options and spacious social areas means there are no crowds and no waiting.

The luxury of personal space is central to the promise of An Unrivaled Experience® with Regent Seven Seas Cruises®. It provides the extravagant freedom guests need to explore and relax to the fullest. As the preeminent luxury ocean cruise line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises® prides themselves in offering some of the largest balconies and most spacious suites at sea. Their wide range of specialty restaurants, al fresco and in-suite dining options, exquisite lounges, bars and expansive spaces are perfect to rest and celebrate in, knowing there is never a queue or crowd, and every imaginable amenity is included.

Join Regent Seven Seas Cruises® and discover how — with their unrivaled space at sea — they will exceed your loftiest expectations of comfort and personalized service for a truly unforgettable experience aboard The World’s Most Luxurious Fleet™.

The world is waiting. Start your journey with Regent.


The Ship

Bringing you the best in all-inclusive luxury begins with bringing you the most luxurious ships. Their award-winning fleet delivers style and class, from bow to stern, throughout every region of the world. Regent Seven Seas Cruises® invites you to come aboard and experience your new home away from home.


Accommodations

Experience a new level of comfort in your new home away from home. Their suites bring you the best in sumptuous living, from 300 to over 4,000 square feet, adorned with the finest décor and best-in-class amenities.

Step into your elegant suite and discover comforts and amenities that rival the finest hotels and resorts around the globe. Every suite across their five ships delivers incredible ocean views — 98% of which are enjoyed in the solace of a private balcony. They also include a separate sitting area, the heavenly comfort of their Elite Slumber™ beds, spacious closets, an interactive flat-screen TV with complimentary movies on demand, an included minibar stocked daily with your preferences, 24-hour room service and many other prime amenities inviting you to settle in, relax and enjoy your journey.


Dining

Exquisite dining experiences are the highlight of your voyage. Join Regent Seven Seas Cruises® at any of their elegant restaurants. Delight your palate in superb menus that feature French, Italian, Pan-Asian, and steakhouse fare, each accompanied by the exquisite wine lists. Or, whenever the mood strikes, simply place your order from the extensive in-suite menu, 24 hours a day.


Activities

Luxury cruising with Regent Seven Seas Cruises® is the perfect way to experience the world in comfort and safety. Breathtaking landscapes, captivating cultures and much more await you via thousands of FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions across the globe.

You’ll find time spent on board the ship to be just as enriching as time ashore. Relax by the pool, compete in a friendly game of trivia or bocce ball, indulge in treats at afternoon tea and gain insight from an expert lecturer.

Evenings on board are filled with music and fun. Enjoy a rousing cabaret show, test your luck at the Casino, step onto the stage for karaoke or simply find a quiet place on deck to revel in the symphony of stars.


Services

A PERSONAL TOUCH

The outstanding attendants and butlers will maintain your suite just the way you like it, ensuring a fresh, warm and comfortable home is awaiting your return each day. The direction of the maître d’, the expertise of the chef, the guidance of the sommelier and the attentiveness of the wait staff will make each dining experience feel like a symphony of refined flavors and impeccable service. The officers pride themselves in providing a safe and smooth voyage and should you desire anything “off the menu,” the concierge staff awaits you, desiring to fulfill your every request.