Top River Cruises to Movie Sites

Panorama Suite on Avalon Waterways’ Artistry II: In 2018, the ship will call at Passau, Germany, where guests can head out to see “Sound of Music” country scenes and other sites around Salzburg, Austria.

The destination rules for many cruisers eager to get out and explore their dream bucket list. For movie buffs, though, the chance to see places where famous movies were filmed is another “layer” of enticement. Promotional idea? Agents can hook their clients by sending them a gift book focused on the sites, along with a personalized note and river cruise collateral, showcasing the spots they could explore.

For example, Lonely Planet’s new “Film and TV Locations: A Spotter’s Guide” is a simple, yet colorful small book (7” by 7”) that entices with large, stunning photographs showing 92 different spots across the globe where movies or TV shows have been filmed. Sending this type of soft cover book to a select database based on client interests could prove fruitful. The book can be used to entice both ocean and river cruisers. Here’s a look at some of the river hot spots. 

Salzburg, Austria: The 1965 movie “Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews, is perhaps one of the most iconic for many film buffs; it was filmed on location in and around Salzburg. On AmaWaterways’ 2018 “Romantic Danube” wine cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest, guests can take the line’s full-day shore excursion to Salzburg during a Linz, Austria port call. Guests will tour Salzburg’s historic center, Mirabell Gardens, Residenz Square and the Old Market. En route to Salzburg, a stop will be made at Mondsee, home to the Basilica St. Michael, the site of the movie’s famous wedding scene where Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married. 

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On Avalon Waterways’ 13-day “Vienna on the Danube to Basel on the Rhine” sailings in 2018, guests on Artistry II also can opt for a shore excursion to Salzburg to see some of the “Sound of Music” sites during that ship’s Passau, Germany, port day. Departures are May 30, August 1 or October 3, 2018. Other lines too offer similar Salzburg tours, either from Passau or Linz. In addition, there’s even a river vessel named Sound of Music. Built in 2006, it’s a deluxe, 128-passenger river cruise vessel chartered exclusively by Gate 1 Travel, which works with travel agents and pays commission.

Paris, France: In the City of Light, movie sites abound. Spectacular is an apt description for the gold, glistening Hall of Mirrors at the famed Palace of Versailles. That palace hosted filming for the 2006 release, “Marie Antoinette,” beautifully created by Sofia Coppola; the book explains that she was given unprecedented access to any of the palace’s 700 rooms. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s 2018 “Paris & Normandy” itinerary includes a Versailles tour. New for 2018, A&K offers a new 13-day “Paris, the Loire & Seine River” itinerary on Amadeus Diamond; included for A&K’s small group (maximum of 24) is a tour of Versailles. Separately, starting in 2018 all of Tauck’s “Cruising the Seine plus Versailles, Paris & London” departures will feature an early, pre-opening Versailles visit as a special perk. 

The most famous Paris movie in many years was Woody Allen’s 2011 flick, “Midnight in Paris,” which featured Le Polidor, a West Bank institution. The restaurant is largely unchanged for more than a century and a half, serves traditional cuisine, and “oozes” the aura of the literary giants who once hung out here (Victor Hugo, James Joyce, Henry Miller and others). U By Uniworld, the new Millennial and Generation X brand for those 21 to 45, will sail eight-day Seine Experience voyages in 2018. During The B’s (the renamed River Baroness) time in Paris, the line offers an included “Midnight in Paris” stroll with a U Host.  

Scenic is among many river lines with cruises that include Paris. Its “Gems of the Seine” itineraries originate in the City of Light. They include several days in the city, a Seine voyage, and another destination experience such as Bordeaux, the South of France or Portugal's Douro River. Scenic Tailormade GPS devices can guide guests through their own personal shore excursions — movie-focused or otherwise — throughout the itinerary.

On Crystal River Cruises’ calls in Vienna, film buffs can ride the same Ferris wheel that Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten rode in a pivotal scene from “The Third Man.”

Hampshire, England: The blockbuster TV series “Downton Abbey” was filmed at Hampshire’s Highclere Castle between 2010-15. If your clients are fans of the show, let them know they can get there via Viking River Cruises. Clients on Viking’s “Cities of Light” and “Paris & the Heart of Normandy” itineraries can extend their stay with three nights in Oxford and a visit to Highclere Castle, where they’ll have privileged access and a special welcome only for Viking’s guests.

During this add-on trip, they’ll also visit the historic town of Oxford and the University of Oxford; tour Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds, and spend three nights in the First-Class Old Bank Hotel, Oxford (or a similar property.) Daily breakfasts, three guided tours and a Eurostar “Chunnel” train between Paris and London are all included in this fully escorted program.

Berlin, Germany: The political thriller “The Lives of Others” was filmed in Berlin and released in 2006. The movie is about a prison in East Germany where the former Stasi imprisoned and interrogated political prisoners. While movie “interiors” were shot in a film studio, cruisers can visit the Berlin-Hohenschonhausen Memorial, located on the site of the former prison and now a museum dedicated to the era and the horrors of political paranoia and state surveillance. 

Cruisers interested in the topic might visit the museum on an independent tour or post-cruise stay after an Elbe River cruise. One vessel sailing the Elbe River is CroisiEurope’s Elbe Princesse II, a boutique-class paddlewheeler with sleek, contemporary design and large picture windows in 45 river-view cabins, some with French balconies. Itineraries from Prague to Berlin explore the Vltava and Elbe river regions.

Vienna, Austria: Most European river lines sail the Danube River; among them is Crystal River CruisesCrystal Mozart, the widest vessel on any European river. Beginning in spring 2018, the line’s new Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will operate seven-, 10- and 14-day itineraries between Amsterdam, Basel and Vienna. 

One visible public landmark river cruisers will likely notice on their visit? In the late 1940s, a classic film, “The Third Man,” was filmed at Vienna’s Wiener Riesenrad Prater amusement park. The ferris wheel, a 119-foot-tall Viennese landmark, is where, in the movie’s most memorable scenes, Orson Welles as Harry Lime delivers his famous “cuckoo clock” speech. It’s also where Jesse and Celine have their first kiss in “Before Sunrise,” which isn’t in the book but a very memorable scene for many movie buffs.  

Bruges, Belgium:In Bruges,” released in 2008, tells the movie tale of two Irish hitmen who hide out in the Medieval Belgian city, famed for its waterways and historic buildings. Guests onboard Emerald Waterways’ new seven-night “Charms of Holland & Belgium” itinerary can explore Bruges on a day trip during a port call in Antwerp, Belgium. The itinerary, which operates roundtrip from Amsterdam, is offered once in July 2018 and once in September 2018. 

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