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Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Resumes Service

By Owen C. Hardy

Eleanor Hardy aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
The Society of IRT’s Eleanor Hardy aboard the VSOE. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

Monday, June 21, 2021 — Get your tux out of mothballs. Lay out your most elegant gown.

As of today, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) has restarted operations after being sidetracked last season because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is truly great news,” said Eleanor Flagler Hardy, IRT Society President and Condé Nast Traveler Magazine’s Top Travel Specialist for luxury trains for 2020 and 2021..

“The VSOE is one of my all-time favorites,” she said.

Staff and guest outside the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) train
IRT’s Rachel Hardy about to board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express on its maiden ‘voyage’ with its lavish, new Grand Suites. IRT Photo.

Meanwhile, there’s still time to book what limited space is left on the famous luxury train, as well as most of its other luxury trains, under Belmond’s booking guarantee:

“All guests with reservations made prior to 30 June 2021 for a future journey will be able to reschedule their journey up to 10 days prior to the scheduled date of departure without charge by Belmond,” the company says on its website.

“If,” the company continues, “prior to the scheduled departure date, any new government travel restrictions or quarantine measures come into force that affect Belmond’s ability to operate, or our guests’ ability to travel (either in the guest’s country of departure or destination), guests will be able to either change their booking without charge, or cancel without charge and receive a full refund of any amounts paid to Belmond.”

The guarantee applies to Belmond’s worldwide stable of luxury trains— the Belmond Royal Scotsman, the Belmond British Pullman, and its Eastern & Oriental Express in Thailand — with the exception of the Belmond Andean Explorer and the Belmond Hiram Bingham, both of which operate in Peru.

Cabin steward poses in the VSOE’s new ultra-luxe Grand Suite. IRT Photo by Rachel Hardy

“Incredibly proud and excited to see the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express set off this morning for the first journey of 2021, traveling from Venice to Amsterdam via Paris and Brussels,” said Gary Franklin, Belmond’s Vice President of Trains and Cruises.

“Well done to the entire team getting ready in this new world, but remembering that care, style and hospitality will always endure.”

How much does IRT love the VSOE? We asked IRT’s Eleanor Hardy.

“My husband Owen and I scheduled our 40th wedding anniversary celebration on the VSOE’s Venice-Amsterdam extravaganza next spring. Does that tell you something?”

To book your VSOE — or other Belmond — extravaganza, call (800) 478-4881, or email