Travel Weekly's Europe E-letter: August 3, 2005

EARLY BIRDS: Peter Deilmann Cruises will accept reservations for its 270-plus departures in 2006 as of Aug. 8, two months earlier than in past years. The company operates nine river ships on the Danube, Rhine, Rhône, Seine, Elbe, Oder and other rivers from March through November.  In 2006, Deilmann will offer 14 cruise tours  including first-ever fully escorted tours to Bohemia, Normandy and other regions with more than 50 departures. Contact Peter Deilmann Cruises at (800) 348-8287 or via e-mail at [email protected]. Or visit www.deilmann-cruises.com online. 

MORE ROOMS AT INNS: MacDonald Hotels and Resorts in the U.K. is spending more than $263 million to transform itself into a 4-star brand with new and refurbished hotels and facilities. For example, the new $44 million Macdonald St. Pauls Hotel is under construction in Sheffield.  The 4-star hotel will offer 161 rooms; a state-of-the-art health, fitness and beauty center; and the citys largest hotel conference and banqueting facilities. Meanwhile, a $9.6 million transformation is complete at the 700-year-old Macdonald Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa in Accrington, Lancashire, adding a new gym and spa; refurbished conference suite; and 55 new executive guestrooms, bringing the room count to 180. In addition nearly $9 million is being pumped into the MacDonald Norton Grange Hotel in Rochdale, North Manchester. For more information, call (888) 892-0038 or visit www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk.

HIT THE RAILS: BritRail is offering one extra free day of travel with the purchase of any railpass product the BritRail Consecutive Pass, BritRail FlexiPass, BritRail England Consecutive Pass or BritRail England FlexiPass of any duration, from four days to one month, in first or standard class. Eligible BritRail Passes must be bought from Aug. 15 to Sept. 30 and can be used anytime within six months of issue. Contact BritRail at (866) BRITRAIL (866-274-8724) or access www.britrail.com online.

FAMOUS FJORDS: Two fjords in Norway the Naeroyfjord and Geirangerfjord were added to the Unesco World Heritage List (www.unesco.org) along with four other cultural attractions in the country: Bergens Bryggen wharf; Urnes stave church on the Sognefjord; stone carvings at Alta; and the old mining town Roros. The Naeroyfjord is the narrowest such inlet, while Geirangerfjord is noted for its waterfalls and vistas. In other news, a new attraction opened at Avaldsnes, a former royal seat on Karmoy, an island near Stavanger. The Nordvegen Visitor Center (www.nordvegen.info) traces the history of Norway from the Stone Age to medieval times. See www.visitnorway.com/us.

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