New fleet of river­boats bound for U.S. wa­ters

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - RON PRADINUK

WHILE I of­ten try to keep to a sin­gle theme in my weekly col­umn, oc­ca­sion­ally I find I must wan­der from the prover­bial pil­lar to post as I up­date or follow up on sto­ries in­tro­duced in pre­vi­ous weeks.

Such is the case this week as I sup­ple­ment in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to an in­quiry or story from pre­vi­ous writ­ings.

In my col­umn last week, I re­ferred to the limited num­ber of river cruises avail­able in Canada and the United States, high­light­ing, in part, the two boats op­er­ated by the Amer­i­can Cruise Lines or­ga­ni­za­tion.

With the ever-in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of river cruis­ing around the world, it was sur­pris­ing to me to find such a dearth of op­tions. Sim­i­lar thoughts must have been in the minds of the top brass at Amer­i­can Cruise Lines as well.

Since my col­umn was writ­ten, the company has an­nounced the con­struc­tion of a new fleet of river­boats that will be in­tro­duced into a num­ber of rivers in the United States in the next few years.

While their cur­rent fleet of two con­sists only of pad­dle­wheel­ers, the new ships will fea­ture mod­ern de­signs, spa­cious in­te­ri­ors and large bal­conies as in­te­gral units in the state­rooms.

Not­with­stand­ing the quaint­ness of­fered by pad­dle­wheel-type craft, the in­tro­duc­tion of state-of-the-art river­boats such as the ones be­ing sailed upon around the world will have a ma­jor im­pact.

Launch dates for the new ves­sels were not an­nounced, but clearly this will open an en­tirely new era of river cruis­ing on Amer­i­can wa­ters.

As a fol­lowup to my fu­ture trends ar­ti­cle at the end of 2014, Amer­i­can Ex­press, the gi­ant credit card and travel or­ga­ni­za­tion, has re­leased the re­sults of a survey high­light­ing the top des­ti­na­tions Cana­di­ans said they would be vis­it­ing in 2015.

It is no sur­prise three of the top places we in­tend to visit are in Mex­ico.

Can­cun, the gate­way to the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Val­larta with nearby Nuevo Val­larta, and the wealth­ier San Jose del Cabo, all three avail­able non-stop from Win­nipeg, were the places Cana­di­ans across Canada said they would be trav­el­ling in the com­ing months.

Two Caribbean des­ti­na­tions, not avail­able non-stop from Win­nipeg, com­pleted the sunspot list. Aruba and St. Maarten are both widely avail­able via the Toronto gate­way and have be­come very popular from the east­ern de­par­ture points.

While Man­i­to­bans visit th­ese coun­tries, they are usu­ally se­lected by those who take a two-week va­ca­tion as op­posed to just one week. The ex­tra time or the po­ten­tial for an overnight lay­over in at least one di­rec­tion is not a de­ter­rent.

It was sur­pris­ing Cuba wasn’t on the list. In a re­cent press re­lease, Cuba an­nounced the past year saw a record three mil­lion vis­i­tors to their coun­try. There is no ques­tion a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of those num­bers rep­re­sent Cana­dian vis­its. The last fig­ures I have sug­gest more than one mil­lion Cana­di­ans choose Cuba for their hol­i­days ev­ery year.

Beyond the tra­di­tional win­ter-es­cape des­ti­na­tions we tend to favour re­gard­less of which part of the coun­try we live in, there ap­pears to be a strong de­ter­mi­na­tion to broaden our scope of travel to almost ev­ery con­ti­nent. When asked which ci­ties Cana­di­ans in­tended to visit this year, the fol­low­ing ci­ties oc­cupy spots on the top 10 list: London, Eng­land; Santiago, Chile; Mumbai, In­dia; Cape Town, South Africa; Bangkok, Thai­land, and Syd­ney, Aus­tralia.

The survey also pin­pointed a num­ber of ci­ties high on the radar as po­ten­tial ris­ing stars. Th­ese were Da Nang, Viet­nam; Naha, Ja­pan; Hurghada, Egypt; Bo­drum, Turkey; Kazan, Rus­sia, and Ei­lat, Is­rael.

Fi­nally, a re­sponse to a ques­tion that seems to arise on a reg­u­lar ba­sis from peo­ple who travel fre­quently and find the in­vest­ment they made in their lug­gage doesn’t look so at­trac­tive after be­ing tossed by air­line staff over sev­eral trips.

Read­ers want to know how to clean scuffed bag­gage and how to solve the prob­lem of spills on the in­te­rior of bags.

The best way to help bring back at least some of the orig­i­nal look is to use a so­lu­tion of three tea­spoons of very mild soap di­luted in about five litres of wa­ter and com­bined with a cou­ple of tea­spoons of a mild de­ter­gent used for car­pets and up­hol­stery, such as Shout.

It is im­por­tant you do not use harsher soaps such as those used for the dish­washer.

Once you have cleared the worst stains, rub the fab­rics with a clean, damp soft ma­te­rial to rinse the pan­els and re­move any soap residue.

Re­pair de­pots use com­pressed air to blow into the pan­els to elim­i­nate as much hu­mid­ity as pos­si­ble. At home, you likely have no other choice than a hair dryer.

Once dried, leave the lug­gage open to aer­ate for 24 to 48 hours in a dust­free area that is as dry as pos­si­ble.

While this ad­vice from a ma­jor lug­gage distrib­u­tor may be the best they have to of­fer, they also cau­tion that the choice of clean­ing sub­stances is im­por­tant. In their ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, they have dis­cov­ered that many clean­ing prod­ucts will dam­age the body ma­te­ri­als, the fin­ish of the sur­faces and even the plas­tic parts and lin­ing of lug­gage.

For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­ Ron Pradinuk is pres­i­dent of Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­per­Centre and can be heard Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found at jour­neystrav­el­ or read Ron’s travel blog at that­trav­el­


Vis­it­ing the main sites in Santiago, Chile, is prime in Cana­dian travel plans.

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