Cruise news potpourri

By Lew Toulmin
This item appears on page 75 of the March 2008 issue.

by Lew Toulmin

The cruising world keeps evolving, with ever more news and events. Here are some cruise deals and developments which should interest ITN cruising fans.

EasyCruise Greece and Turkey

Bargains abound at easyCruise (, which is tripling its capacity in Greece and now Turkey for 2008. Uniquely, the line’s itineraries include overnight calls in almost all ports, so guests can enjoy dinner and nightlife ashore. For this reason, meals are not included in fares but are extra, as is housekeeping.

For example, a 10-night cruise on easyCruiseOne from Piraeus round trip via Corfu and the west coast of Greece, Sept. 22-Oct. 2, 2008, is priced at $825 per couple (or $41 per person per night) for a 120-square-foot outside cabin. More modest accommodations are available.

To include breakfast and lunch (or dinner) costs $150 and to include daily maid service adds $50 per person for this example cruise, making the grand total $1,225, or $61 per person per night — a truly remarkable price.

Zegrahm and Clipper Odyssey

Zegrahm Expeditions (192 Nickerson St. #200, Seattle, WA 98109; 800/628-8747, has signed a long-term charter/lease agreement with the owners of the 110-passenger expedition ship Clipper Odyssey, which Zegrahm has used in the past. The arrangement will allow the ship to be refurbished and upgraded.

A typical expedition with Zegrahm goes to very unusual places and can give you some serious bragging rights at your next travel club meeting.

For example, consider the “Kamchatka to Alaska” expedition, June 19-July 3, 2008. Many people have sailed to Alaska, but few have arrived from Kamchatka, Russia, one of the most remote and unspoiled places on the planet. Rates start at $9,280 per person, including all land excursions but not including airfares.

Zegrahm was founded by Fellows of the famous Explorers Club, until his recent death headed by Sir Edmund Hillary, and their voyages always include top experts in the fields of natural history, ornithology and/or cultural geography.

H.M.S. Britannia

Scotland’s most popular new attraction is the Royal Yacht H.M.S. Britannia, formerly the sailing home of the British royal family.

“After 44 years of distinguished service to Queen and country, Britannia has a special place in the people’s affections,” according to former Defence Secretary George Robertson, who helped secure a berth for the ship as part of the £50-million redevelopment of the Edinburgh waterfront.

At 412 feet long, the ship is larger than many cruise ships, and with a crew of 300 the royal family surely never went hungry!

Visitors report that one of the most fascinating parts of the ship is the royal bedrooms, since this is the only British royal facility where the bedrooms are available for public viewing.

Britannia is open every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day. Adult admission is £9.75 (near $20); this includes a handheld audio guide. Allow about two hours to tour the ship, and in August it is wise to reserve tickets ahead of time. For details, contact The Royal Yacht Britannia (Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6JJ, Scotland, UK; phone 011 44 [0] 131 555 5566,

Queen Elizabeth 2

Speaking of royals, the legendary, 40-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2 soon will be leaving service, after crossing the Atlantic over 800 times and carrying more than 2.5 million passengers. The ship’s last voyage will be Nov. 11-27, 2008, from Southampton to Dubai. Fares start at $6,422 per person.

In Dubai the ship will be refurbished and turned into a first-class floating hotel, moored beside the man-made luxury island of Palm Jumeirah.

The QE2 was christened by Queen Elizabeth II and was Cunard’s longest-serving liner. She will be missed.

Queen Victoria

To help replace the QE2, Cunard Line launched the Queen Victoria in December 2007. The ship was christened by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (formerly known as Camilla Parker-Bowles and now known — only in Scotland — as Camilla, Duchess of Rothesay).

With its capacity of 2,000 passengers, nearly 80% of the ship’s staterooms have ocean views and over 94% of these have spacious balconies. Despite these modern amenities, the classic, traditional Cunarder look is skillfully preserved.

The maiden voyage of the QV, to the Canaries, was sold out. In 2008 the QV will sail to Norway and the Baltic and through the Mediterranean and Black seas. For information on sailing aboard the QE2 and Queen Victoria (and Queen Mary 2), call 800/728-6273 or see

Happy cruising!

Lew Toulmin is the author of “The Most Traveled Man on Earth,” available for $16.95 plus $5 shipping from The Village Press (13108 Hutchinson Way, Silver Spring, MD 20906;