Nicole Edenedo
Nicole Edenedo

They say that "life imitates art," and for travelers wanting to experience just that in real time, Avalon Waterways' new collection of themed river cruises is shooting for the stars.

The line is bringing back its Storyteller Series river cruises in 2022 with celebrity authors and musicians at the helm who will bring the pages of their critically acclaimed works to life. Kicking off the 2022 schedule is author Candace Bushnell, who penned the book "Sex in the City" on which the famous HBO series was based; she will lead the aptly named "Sex and the City of Lights" sailing on the Seine in July. 

Guests will get several chances to meet with Bushnell during a Q&A gathering, a book-signing and other yet-to-be-revealed special celebrations onboard. 

We couldn't help but wonder: Why Bushnell, and why now? 

The "Sex and the City of Lights" cruise is only the second of the Storyteller series. Avalon introduced this cruise concept with a celebrity author host back in 2018, with "Outlander" author Diana Gabaldon. It was so popular (it sold out in two days, Avalon said) that the line decided to bring Gabaldon back in June 2020 -- it was rescheduled to October 2021 -- and launch a series of these Storyteller cruises.

It just so happened that by the time Avalon reached out to ask Bushnell about hosting one of the Storyteller Cruises, the follow-up series, "And Just Like That" was already in preproduction. But the timing of a "Sex and the City" themed cruise seems to have worked well for Avalon, as the books on the cruise are open just as "And Just Like That" has launched on HBO Max (Bushnell is not involved with the current show).

"As part of our development process for our new Storyteller Series, we reached out to a handful of storytellers to garner their interest in hosting a small-ship cruise with their fans," said Avalon's managing director Pam Hoffee. "Candace responded with a quick and easy 'yes!'"

The river cruise experience beyond SATC

Against the backdrop of Europe's most popular rivers - the Rhine, Danube and Seine Rivers - this themed collection of sailings aims to give guests what travel industry experts say pandemic-weary people have been craving: smaller, intimate experiences at a slower pace with chances to explore the outdoors in off-the-beaten-path locations.

The "Sex and the City of Lights" cruise will sail through some of France's most quaint and culturally-rich cities and communes over the course of nine days. Guests will meander through Le Havre, Rouen, Vernon and other places where they can participate in a number of outdoor activities, including walking tours, bike rides and kayaking.

But there is no set pace on these new cruises.

"Want to sleep in? No problem, enjoy a late-rise breakfast and a morning on the Sky Deck with all the complimentary cappuccinos you want," Hoffee said. 

"Interested in spending every waking hour enjoying your European adventure? Great. We've got you covered with a mix of planned and on-your-own activities. These cruises, like all Avalon Waterways' cruises, make it incredibly easy to customize your trip to your pace and your passions to create the perfect vacation for you."

And the trend of going at one's own pace with plenty of outdoor opportunities available among smaller-size groups on cruises or through land excursions doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. That's what Avalon is aiming to home in on and offer guests through its mix of 23 different Active, Discovery and Classic offerings aboard its Storytelling Series cruises.

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