Happy Valentine's Day February 12, 2021

Sydney Opera House

A year ago I spent Valentine’s Day in Sydney, Australia, with my husband, Jack. I was there to launch our 2021 brochure, recognize some of the outstanding travel advisors in the region and connect with my local sales team. Jack came along for the ride as he had never been. While I was working, he explored the city and sought out places to buy and smoke cigars—a challenge. We still had time for romance and saw kangaroos, koalas and Tasmanian devils at the zoo and even managed to climb across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, staggering in a downpour. We came away drenched, but grateful that Australia was getting some much-needed rain.

It seems so long ago since we returned to the beginning of the pandemic and almost immediate lockdown. When you are as blessed as I am to travel frequently as part of my job, you also welcome some time spent at home. But a whole year in one place?! Hardly leaving the house for more than a grocery store visit?! I’m over it and rarin’ to go again and dreaming of sailing.

One particular voyage that keeps calling out to me is our new cruise on the Peruvian Amazon. Over the past month I have been familiarizing myself with the experience for an upcoming virtual event with my new partner Francesco Galli Zugaro, the founder and CEO of Aqua Expeditions. It looks incredible! This new adventure aboard the Aria Amazon includes the Amazon Rainforest, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and more, all in one itinerary. In short: a trip of a lifetime. The ship looks stunning—lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, it always offers a front row seat to the lush scenery. But the outdoors also come indoors through the natural decor that embodies the eco-friendly mindset of the Aria Amazon’s design and voyages. The delicious menus are created by one of Peru’s top chefs. But what really puts it over the top is a maximum capacity of just 32 guests. Keep an eye out for your invitation to join the virtual event later this month.

People standing in the rain

Another highlight of 2021 for me are our new Cruise & Rail journeys. Uniworld’s partnered with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, and it's the perfect match for elevated experiences both by train and river. I’m drawn not only by the romance of this time-tested mode of luxury travel, but by a family connection. My father’s career was spent on the railroad in America’s northwest and he would regale us with stories of rolling through the countryside by rail. Both Aqua Expeditions and Golden Eagle Luxury Trains follow the Uniworld philosophy: deliver an incredible experience with personalized service, amazing local cuisine and immersive excursions. Truly no request is too large and no detail is too small.

To start, we introduced a handful of Cruise & Rail departures for 2021. They were such a hit that we designed three more itineraries for 2022. I highly encourage you to check them out—they’re all wows! Now four Cruise & Rail options are available for booking over the next couple of years. That means my only problem will be deciding which one to take, if I can find space. I’m leaning toward the first one, Milan, Venice & the Swiss Alps. It will be ready to go in 2021! And it will also give me a chance to see the stunning new S.S. La Venezia. Then you glide through snowy alpine peaks on the luxuriously nostalgic Golden Eagle Danube Express. So much about Golden Eagle’s private train journeys syncs perfectly with our river cruises—its all-inclusiveness with top-of-the-line amenities. You relax in a cozy lounge or private cabin while captivating scenery passes by outside your window, without you having to unpack and repack in every town. I’m very excited to experience this for myself.

Ellen and team

As I put together my wish list for when the world opens up, I’ve seen a few good signs. My daughter Abby returned to college in Spokane, Washington where I grew up and my mom, brother and sister still live. My husband got his first vaccine last week and has the second one scheduled. My daughter Grace made the most of isolation and has learned how to quilt. I am looking forward to going to restaurants, seeing my friends and being back in the office. But I especially want to visit the S.S. La Venezia, the S.S. Sphinx and the S.S. São Gabriel for the first time. My list is long, but at the top has to be stepping aboard one of our magical ships and seeing the friendly faces of our crew in person. Video calls are just not the same.

I hope you join me in treating yourselves to something special when it’s time to travel again. We missed out on a year of travel, but now it’s time to go for it, because you deserve the best!

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and I hope to see you on one of our Uniworld voyages soon.

Warmest Regards,

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