BOB'S cruises & tours's Blog

Vienna's New Rooftop Bars
Austria’s capital city is famous as a cradle of classical music and high culture, for its skyline shaped by Hapsburg palaces, the Opera House and city symbol Giant Ferris Wheel, for tastes and experiences like chocolate/apricot Sacher Torte and coffee house culture, and even the renowned, high-performing and high-stepping, gleaming white Lipizzaner horses.
 
You may have been to Vienna before, but no matter how many times you’ve been to a city, seeing it from above gives you a whole new perspective.
 
That’s why the string of new rooftop bars in the city on the Danube river – with stunning design and inspiring food and beverage experiences - is so exciting for those of us planning Danube river cruises or guided trips to Central Europe soon.
 
Plan for daytime snacks or late-day drinks in at least one of these ‘elevated’ bars with a view!

mariatrink: Laid-back music
 
This is the most musical of Vienna’s new rooftop bars. Jaz in the City Vienna, located in the city’s sixth district of Mariahilf, is the third hotel in the German hotel chain’s portfolio. The view, if not the music, will make your heart skip a beat.
 
(Photo credit: Jaz in the City Vienna)

Contemporary design is the backdrop to an immersive music theme. The lobby recreates a record shop vibe, and the rooftop, mariatrink bar has the feel of a luxuriant jazz club, with velvet seating, innovative cocktails and regional dishes. But few jazz clubs can boast mariatrink’s real claim to fame: the panoramic views of Vienna.

 
Kindred Spirits Rooftop Bar: Drinks with Views of the Prater
 
Playtime at Vienna’s beloved Prater park… followed by smart drinks at the rooftop bar overlooking it. The boutique Hotel Zoku Vienna opened in June 2021, and its amusement-park-adjacent location is symbolic of its focus: providing a venue for work-life balance. Its special home-office hybrid solution appeals to working road warriors.

(Photo credit: Ewout Huibers Photography & Concrete)

At the top of the building, the Living Kitchen Rooftop Restaurant and Kindred Spirits Rooftop Bar are ideal for a laid-back lunch or after-work drink with a focus on Austrian wine, spirits, and culinary artisans, while soaking in the 360-degree views of Vienna. After dusk, the attractions at the Prater amusement park below twinkle like a sea of colored lights, illuminating the entire atmosphere.

 
 
MQ Libelle: Viennese Modernism and Rooftop Views
 
It only opened mid-pandemic during the summer of 2020, but it’s already the most popular rooftop bar in Vienna. MQ Libelle (libelle means dragonfly) is perched on top of the roof of the Leopold Museum, home to Vienna’s leading museum of Viennese Modernism (pictured, top). The museum has the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection.
 
And architecturally speaking the MQ Libelle is a work of art itself. Two of Austria’s most prominent artists were responsible for designing the main elements of the terrace, glass wall, and iconic lighting elements. The drinks and epicurean hotspot is also a new space for art and cultural projects in its own right.

 
 
360° Ocean Sky: a Zoo With a View
 
Everything about this rooftop bar has a fascinating story. The 360° Ocean Sky is a spectacular rooftop bar and all-day and –evening modern restaurant with pride of place on top of the House of Sea. Whisked to the rooftop in a panoramic elevator, guests enjoy eye-catching drinks overhead, while brightly colored exotic fish shimmer in the waters of the aquarium below.
 
The building itself is located in a WW2 flak tower that – by its very nature soars above the surrounding buildings, providing fantastic views in every direction.


IKEA at Westbahnhof Station
 
Your Saturday morning runs to IKEA at home may be more utilitarian, maybe with some Swedish meatballs as a treat.
 
But in Vienna, right next to the Westbahnhof railway station, IKEA has opened a ‘hus’ social hub complete with green façade and a rooftop terrace that’s open to the public with no obligation to buy a Billy Bookcase or even one of the items on the vegetarian menu.

 (Photo credit: Ikea)

Seventy fully-grown trees in giant planters punctuate the space that has a fantastic view over Vienna.

 

Coming Soon:

 
Chez Bernard Restaurant et Bar: Sustainable and Stunning
 
The Hotel Motto is scheduled to open in Fall 2021, with a combination of 1920’s Parisian charm, contemporary Viennese lifestyle and Scandi-chic design.
 
Its rooftop Chez Bernard Restaurant et Bar is flooded with natural light that supports the lush greenery spread across two floors under a striking glass dome. Organic French and North-African cuisine, locally-roasted coffee beans and signature beer brewed from leftover bread from the in-house bakery – along with the views – make this a one-of-a-kind experience.

 
Parliamentary Proceedings with a Twist
 
The late-19th-century Austrian Parliament, one of the most important buildings on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, will unveil a modern rooftop restaurant of its own in 2022.

(Credit: Parlamentsdirektion / András Pálffy, Ortfried Friedreich und Christian Jabornegg)

It’s part of a huge refurbishment project at the Parliament. Once complete, visitors will be able to enjoy previously unseen views over Vienna’s historic city center from four outdoor terraces. An area with table service, a self-service section and a bistro are all planned. The menu will include a mix of traditional Viennese cuisine and international dishes.

Start Your Trip!


Images Courtesy of the rightsholders as noted and the Vienna Tourist Board

Top image: MQ Libelle: WienTourismus/David Payr / MQ Libelle


The secret about river cruising was out, even before the pandemic.

Like all cruise travel, it's the ‘easy button’ way to ‘sample’ multiple destinations and get an overview of a region. You unpack once, really settling in to your ship environment like a home away from home in a floating boutique hotel that winds its way through marquee cities as well as scenic countryside you might not see if you travel any other way.
The enchantment of river cruising is enhanced by its authenticity. Historically, rivers were the best – sometimes only! – way to travel between communities. Most European cities started and were built from the river. In many ways, river cruising is one of the most authentic ways to experience its diverse regions.

That hasn’t changed, and as we return to travel, river cruising makes even more sense to dip our toes back into the water. 

River cruise ships are small enough to navigate the rivers and canals and locks of Europe. In post-pandemic times, smaller ships also translate to fewer fellow guests. Smaller, off-the-beaten track ports along the river mean less crowded destinations. And staying in a small, river cruise ‘bubble’ helps keep everyone safe.

We’ve been missing travel for so long, many people want to extend their journeys with back-to-back river cruises.
For travellers wanting to minimize how many jurisdictions and sets of COVID rules they encounter – France is the obvious choice.

Vineyards on Rhone riverbanks; BestTrip TV

It’s the only country in Europe with more than one, single-country river cruise. And it’s France! Joie de vivre, savoir vivre, wine and cuisine and the French way of life make cruising on any of these three rivers enchanting.

Here are the highlights of France’s three cruising rivers. Sailing along any one of them is a dream vacation. Sailing two – or even all three – back-to-back is a French ‘affair’ you’ll remember forever.

Bordeaux:


Route: Rather than traveling on one river, a cruise in this storied area of south-western France is more like traveling on spokes, where the city of Bordeaux is something of a hub to explore along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, and Gironde estuary.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE for my experience on a Bordeaux river cruise

Highlights: This is a serious wine lover's dream. Bordeaux is a city - the capital of the Aquitaine region – a river, and a wine region: the largest, one of the oldest, and most prestigious in France.  

Some of the most fabled and historic vineyards and wine houses are here, including some of the most expensive bottles in the world, and it’s the origin of the world’s first grand cru. Daily visits and tastings let you immerse yourself in the history, terroirs, and flavors of Medoc, Cadillac's Sauternes, and Saint-Emilion, the first wine region to be protected by UNESCO, and more.

The city of Bordeaux has been called the 'essence of elegance', second only to Paris as the French city with the most protected architecture. Its 18th century French design is best represented by the breathtaking Place de la Bourse. Best of all, your cruise ship docks in the 'Port de la Lune', a crescent shaped part of the river in the heart of the historic city.

Bordeaux keeps its eye to the future, too, with modern architecture, vineyards and developments including the new and astonishing riverbank 'Cite du Vin' – a wildly modern, vast museum of wine, shaped like a stylized decanter, and firmly entrenching Bordeaux as the world capital of wine.

The Seine


Route: Seine river cruises usually begin, and often round-trip to Paris. The river flows north from the French capital, ending at the sea in Normandy. Paris, the sea, and French countryside in between? Formidable! As the French would say.

Highlights: You had us at 'Paris'. Most itineraries include at least one pre- or post- cruise day, and in our opinion, you'll want to top it up to at least three days minimum in the City of Light.

Art Lover? The region north of Paris to Normandy is the birthplace of Impressionism. Cruises call at Giverny, Claude Monet's home, where the flower and water gardens that inspired some of his most famous works are still on view. And don't miss the second largest collection of Impressionist art in the world (after Paris' Musee d'Orsay) in Rouen.

Normandy is the largest region in France that is NOT a wine-producing region (the horror!). Instead, the signature Norman beverage is Calvados – a brandy-like spirit made from the region's famous apple crops. The dairy cattle grazing in fields throughout the countryside supply the milk for the area's most famous cheese: Camembert.

One of the biggest draws is the opportunity to visit the World War 2 Landing Beaches. American, British and Canadian sites are emotional reminders of the epic struggle to gain the first foothold in the quest to free Europe. Memorial centers bring the stories of the battles and soldiers to life, and can help trace family members who fought. 

The Rhone

 
Route: The itinerary is usually a combo of the Rhone and Saone, from the Mediterranean Sea in epic Provence in the south, to France's culinary capital of Lyon, often with a pre or post cruise extension in Paris via a brief high-speed train ride.
 
Highlights: This river cruise itinerary not only gives you the opportunity for a pre or post cruise extension in the legendary South of France, it also makes its way through some of the most legendary wine regions of a legendary wine destination. 
 
River banks offer ideal conditions for many of Europe's famous wine regions. Take a look at a wine map of France; wine regions follow the rivers the entire length of the Rhone/Saone. Itineraries deliver you to the doorsteps of great houses of Cotes de Provence, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cotes du Rhone, Beaujolais, and other celebrated French wines.

Lynn tasting olive oil on a Rhone River cruise; BestTrip TV
 
Along the way, some of the culinary delicacies that pair terrifically with those wines make their homes side by side with vineyards. Think: French truffles, olives and olive oil, goat cheese, and incomparable Provencal produce.
 
Other highlights include the breathtaking Roman amphitheatre in Arles, the bridge of the famous song in Avignon, the culinary capital of France – Lyon, that is. And oh, and did we mention the wine?
 

#StartYourTrip


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Images: BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






5 Top Places to Nama-'Stay' During National Yoga Month
For many of us, September feels more like the ‘New Year’ than when the calendar says it’s January. Time to exhale, regroup, and reset yourself on a fulfilling course for the future, one that includes meeting life and wellness goals.
Maybe that’s why September is National Yoga Month.

The ideal time to practice – or at least plan for - two intersecting life goals: more yoga and more travel.

Here are 5 inspired places to practice yoga on an enriching journey. 
 

Flamingo Yoga at Baha Mar, The Bahamas

Located on the pristine white sands of Cable Beach in Nassau, Baha Mar is a tropical island dreamscape, no matter which of its three beachfront resorts best suits your luxury travel style. Whether you choose to stay in the richly refined Rosewood, the playfully hip SLS, or the stylish and modern Grand Hyatt, stunning views and an epic selection of pools and resort experiences awaits.
 
Flamingo Cay is a unique habitat within Baha Mar, designed to shelter these iconic and vivid tropical waterbirds, to educate guests about flamingos and preserve their population in The Bahamas for future generations. 
 

For guests who practice yoga, there’s also an exceptional experience - Flamingo Yoga (pictured above and top) - where guests can practice their flamingo poses, breathing techniques, and mindfulness with the ultimate yoga experts – the Baha Mar Ambassador Flamingos.

The Yoga Instructor is dedicated to working with the flamingos and is on hand to educate guests and look after the birds. The classes are small and intimate, once-weekly sessions that will embed themselves in your memory as a treasured wellness and travel experience.

 

‘Flo-Yo’ in a ‘Spa Without Walls’, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii



The Fairmont Orchid is uniquely Hawaiian: 32 oceanfront acres with a white sand beach on the black-lava Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island. When you’re not snorkeling with sea turtles in the resort’s private lagoon, napping in a hammock, immersing yourself in Hawaiian cultural activities like storytelling, hula and ukulele, watching the sun rise from a traditional outrigger canoe on the bay… you can rediscover your inner, primal human, surrounded by rushing waterfalls, and greenery, orchids and palms in the resort’s ‘Spa Without Walls.’


Where the indoors is outdoors in paradise, it seems easier to realign mind and body balance immersed in Nature.
 
The resort offers complimentary seaside and sunset yoga, and ‘flo-yo’ or floating yoga on stand-up paddleboards in the quiet waters of the resort’s quiet, private lagoon – a beautiful way to start the day – and a complete core workout where warm ocean breezes and lapping waves set the pace and soothe the spirits.


SUP Yoga at the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver

It may be the essential Vancouver wellness experience. Where stand up paddleboard meets downward dog – in a South Beach-style pool overlooking Vancouver's seawall and mountains.

On a fair summer day in Vancouver, British Columbia, the locals joke it's like 'British California'. And it seems that somehow, every resident and visitor in town is outdoors or on the water.
 
The Liquid Yoga program offered by Just Add Water Yoga at the Westin Bayshore gives hotel guests – and the general public – a unique way to be part of Vancouver’s famed local wellness and open air culture - in the security of a pool as an aquatic yoga studio, rather than the open sea like other SUP yoga.

Photo: BestTrip.TV
Didn't bring workout wear? We love that guests can take advantage of the Run Westin's gear lending program.
 
Liquid Yoga is a terrific way to enjoy the Westin Bayshore's gorgeous, circular pool, and its views of Vancouver's harbor, seawall and mountains.
 

Sun-Rise Yoga at Sea in the Caribbean on Virgin Voyages

Imagine yoga on the deck of a sailing ship at dawn, with the sun peeking over the horizon, the sounds and the sights of the sea all around, and the shifting of the ship in the waves adding just a touch of challenge to your core in holding those poses, greeting the new day filling your lungs with fresh sea air.… take it from me: this is living.


One of the most unique places to do yoga overlooking the infinite sea is Virgin Voyages.

Richard Branson’s cheeky new, ‘breaking-the-mould-of-cruising’ cruise line taps into the celebrity billionaire’s history as a music industry entrepreneur. The newly-launched Virgin Voyages feels a lot like a hip, tropical club at sea, with Branson himself telling me that the tables in suites were designed to be danced on!

The line takes a ‘detox, retox’ approach to the cruise lifestyle, so in addition to a nightclub atmosphere, champagne on demand anywhere on the ship, and the first tattoo parlor at sea, guests on the line’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady will also find their daytime downtime wellness options robust.


It starts with the ‘Aquatic Club’ outdoor pool deck, and continues with such wildly different wellness options as outdoor boxing, to meditation and yes, sun-rise yoga.
 

Yoga On the Top Deck of a European River Cruise on U By Uniworld

Before Virgin Voyages launched a new way of cruising, U By Uniworld reimagined river cruising for ‘Active Travelers’, with distinctive, modern black-hulled river ships and a whole new approach to experiencing the shore and the ship. It’s more of a hipster river cruise, with mixology (bar chefs), overnights in key European cities for clubbing, dance parties on board in a private ship version of a club, top deck ‘camping’, a modern approach to cuisine – and yes, yoga!

After an exciting night, guests are welcome to greet the day with complimentary, morning top-deck yoga sessions, led by the ship’s wellness coach.


Why do yoga on a European river cruise? The views are sure to help with the meditation.

Some of the very best views of favorite European cities are from the rivers that run through them. Without the congestion of other buildings around, you can absorb the breathtaking historic beauty of cities that were built on rivers when they - not roads – were the highways of Europe.

Early morning, top-deck yoga in European cities gives you a unique, over-the-rail perspective on some of the most inspiring cityscapes on the continent, and a way to absorb some of the city’s energy before an active day of exploring walking, hiking, cycling or kayaking through town.  
 

#StartYourTrip


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip TV

Images courtesy of their respective hotels/ cruise lines except where otherwise stated.










New Ships Put the ‘Luxe’ in Luxury Expedition Cruising to the Remote Oceans of the World
It’s one of the biggest trends in cruising. Not getting bigger, but getting out there. In style.

Expedition cruises used to be only for the most intrepid travelers. You would join a working research vessel on its voyage to a very distant destination, tolerating the discomfort for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting up close and personal with the unique and fascinating natural wonders and wildlife of a maritime region you’d never otherwise encounter. 

The good news is that you no longer have to sacrifice comfort for the privilege of immersion into a magical and otherwise unreachable marine frontier.

Luxury expedition cruising is coming of age. Smaller vessels, able to reach hidden places even where there are no ports, staffed by scientific experts and guides, equipped with polar-class hulls for ice safety, zodiacs and kayaks and other ways to get off the ship to explore remote shorelines, but also outfitted with superb onboard amenities, design, cuisine and service - give you the very best of both worlds. 

Think of them as safaris at sea. New ships are being purpose-built for these one-of-a-kind, bucket list voyages in the distant destinations of your dreams: the Galapagos, Antarctica, Canada’s Northwest Passage… the seas around both of the Earth’s poles and every unspoiled, natural marine destination in between.

Here are the new ships making luxury expedition cruising evermore available to curious, active, travelers who appreciate getting outdoors into Nature… then stepping back into a deluxe and pampered lifestyle.


Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Cruise’s first-ever expedition ship sailed in July, 2021 on her inaugural voyage from Reykjavik, a 10-day circumnavigation of Iceland’s dramatic coastlines.

Complimentary excursions led by naturalist experts on the Endeavor’s expedition team include sea kayaking on the waters of the Westfjords in Patreksfjörður, an Arctic Circle walkabout on Grimsey Island, and Zodiac cruising amid mountain landscapes in Djúpivogur. Crystal Endeavor’s expedition leaders and guides for its Iceland voyages include a marine biologist, ornithologist, geologist/glaciologist, historian, two professional photographers, polar expedition specialists and an artist-in-residence who will instruct and encourage guests to capture travel memories with snapshot sketches and drawings.

 
Zodiacs and kayaks can be launched directly from the ship’s marina. Other expedition ‘toys’ include snorkel gear, a six-person sub, and two helicopters for flightseeing spectacular scenery. A 4K camera capturing the land and seascapes sailing by can be directed by guests in the Palm Court and Expedition Lounge, and the imagery fed to large screens in public areas and guest suites.

(The Endeavor's Expedition Lounge)

The polar-class ship accommodates just 200 guests in 100, all-verandah, all-butler, expansive suites. There’s a one-to-one ratio of staff to guests, guaranteeing highly personalized service. And high tech innovations ensure responsible stewardship of the world’s oceans.

The Endeavor sails Europe’s North Seas, including Iceland, Norway, the Scottish Isles, before making her way south as summer turns to fall, calling in London, Bordeaux and Lisbon for her inaugural Europe season.
 
 

Silver Origin

While she was delivered in 2020, Silver Origin (pictured, top) made her inaugural sailing in the summer of 2021 as one of the first Silversea ships to return to cruising.

Unlike other ‘generalist’ expedition ships in Silversea’s luxury fleet, Silver Origin is purpose made just for the very specific and special islands of the Galapagos, where she will sail all-new itineraries year round. The ship has high-tech innovations that ensure it has minimum impact on the sensitive environment.


Just 100 guests luxuriate in balcony-only suites with the only all-butler service in the Galapagos. With the highest expert-to-guest ratio, the Silver Origin doesn’t just deliver luxury and expedition expertise on board. It also incorporates local culture, local ingredients including produce and seafood from Ecuadorian food producers, and its design brings guests closer to the Galapagos seascape with floor-to-ceiling windows in the Restaurant, an open air Grill which can also be converted to a sheltered space, and maximized observation areas that bring the outdoors onboard the ship. 
 
Just how popular is expedition cruising in the lap of luxury and style? Coming Soon…

Silver Wind

Silversea is converting one of its classic ships, Silver Wind, to an ice-class expedition ship, the fourth in Silversea’s fleet. In addition to a strengthened hull, the Silver Wind will be fitted with two dozen zodiacs, 14 kayaks, a Photo Studio, a luxury ‘mudroom’, and a new pool system for heated swimming in cold climates, as well as interior space enhancements in lounges, restaurants, and guest suites.


She’s slated to re-launch late 2021 in time to be in Antarctica for the expedition ship event of 2021: the solar eclipse over the White Continent on December 4th, 2021.

Seabourn Venture

Another luxury cruise line, Seabourn, is also set to launch its first expedition ship, the Seabourn Venture, in December of 2021, with a sister ship in 2022.

The Seabourn Venture will sail inaugural – and one-of-a-kind – winter Norway voyages, and in addition to zodiaks, kayaks, and submarines, it will also carry mountain and e-bikes for its approximately 250 guests.

Quark’s Ultramarine

The newest ship for expedition cruise line Quark, also firmly establishes its luxury credentials. Ultramarine was purpose-built for polar expedition cruising, sailing with 200 guests and 140 crew when it debuts in late 2021.
 
Do you think expedition cruising could be for you? Ask us for more information and..

#StartYourTrip

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

Images courtesy their respective cruise lines.

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




You’ve Missed Danube Day But You Can Still Discover Europe’s Record-Breaking River
Every year on June 29th, eighty-one million people in 14 European countries celebrate the single river that ties them together and provides drinking water, food, power, recreation, jobs and transportation.

Danube Day annually marks the signing of the Danube River Protection Convention, which facilitates collaboration between the countries of the Danube River and the rivers that flow into it to ensure that it’s clean, healthy and safe. 
It’s also the largest river festival in the world. Huge celebrations take place on the riverbanks of towns along the waterway, in addition to clean-ups and greening activities, and educational events. 

That’s just one day of the year. But any visit to the region is the perfect time to discover what makes mainland Europe’s biggest waterway so special.

At 1770 miles (2,850 km), the Danube is the longest river in mainland Europe (only Russia’s Volga is longer).

Beginning in Germany’s Black Forest, the Danube flows southeast all the way across Central and Eastern Europe to drain into the Black Sea. It served as a vital transportation and trade route as well as food source for the earliest humans in Europe and was even the frontier of the Roman Empire.

Today, the Danube flows through more countries than any other river in the world. In a very real way, the region was built from the river inland. In addition to countless cities and towns that were built along its river banks beginning in ancient times, the Danube also flows through more national capital cities than any other river on the planet.

The capitals are the largest cities on the Danube, and include the can’t-miss European destinations and cultural and historic centers of Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade and Bratislava.
 
There are land tours in many of the countries and communities along the Danube. But perhaps the most authentic way to experience the river is to travel on it.

River cruises allow you to follow the footsteps of the ancient Europeans who navigated the river fishing, and trading goods from Eurasia into the heart of the continent, who established vineyards in the optimal terrain of steep riverbanks and microclimates nurtured along the Danube’s shores, and built the iconic cityscapes that are the hallmark of a Central European vacation. A night time sailing past the illuminated, riverbank Budapest parliament buildings (pictured top) should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

A cruise that calls in the towns and ports in the countryside along the banks of what Strauss called “The Beautiful Blue Danube”, you’ll have a whole week of ‘Danube Days’ – and memories of a lifetime.

#StartYourTrip!

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






Cruising From the US is Back!
It’s official. Cruising has returned to ports in the U.S.

While many cruise lines have already started sailing with North American guests from offshore ports in the Caribbean and Europe, there’s been no cruising from ports we can drive to.

Until now. Between the end of June and the holiday weekend, three ships have set sail from three different American homeports.

And now the seal is broken, cruises from homeports from coast to coast to coast are scheduled to set sail in a flood that’s restarting a favorite style of travel at last.

Celebrity Edge: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale


First out of the gate: the Celebrity Edge, which, on the last weekend in June became the first large ship to sail with guests from a U.S. port in fifteen months.

The first of the cruise line’s Edge-class ships – with their unmistakable ‘Flying Carpet,’ the orange, cantilevered venue that climbs up and down the side of the ship - sailed out of South Florida.

 
On her first sailing since 2020, the Edge had fewer than 1200 guests onboard. That’s less than half of the ship’s full capacity, to allow for natural social distancing as part of the cruise line’s new health safety measures.
 
For this landmark cruise, it was appropriately helmed by another gamechanger: the first – and still only – American woman to captain a major cruise ship. Captain Kate McCue set the Edge on course for a 7-day cruise to Mexico and the Bahamas.
 
“Last March, I started a #HopeFloats tradition of blowing the ship’s horn every evening to let the world know that not only were we safe, but we were thinking of those at home and hoping the same for them,” said Captain McCue just before setting sail. “Now, the sound of a ship’s horn symbolizes rising above hardship. The entire crew is so happy to be back and we can’t wait to welcome our guests aboard!”
 
With the Edge’s sailing, eight of the 14 ships within the Celebrity Cruises’ fleet now have plans to return to sailing in 2021:
  • Celebrity Millennium led North America’s return to service as the first ship to sail in the Caribbean on June 5 from St. Maarten;
  • Celebrity Apex, the newest addition to the Celebrity fleet, made her world debut June 19, beginning sailings of the Greek Isles;
  • Celebrity Silhouette summers in the UK with bubble cruises of the British Isles beginning July 3;
  • Beginning July 4, the mega-yacht, Celebrity Flora, resumed sailing the Galapagos Islands. She’ll be followed by the Celebrity Xpedition and Celebrity Xploration on July 24, and September 18, respectively;
  • And Celebrity’s return to Alaska begins July 23.
 
The Edge’s sailing marked a new beginning for its family of cruise lines – and indeed, the entire cruise industry.
 

Freedom of the Seas: Port Miami

 
Celebrity’s sister cruise line, Royal Caribbean, made its return to cruise at the beginning of the July holiday weekend. 

Freedom of the Seas – which spent her time not cruising since March 2020 undergoing a $120-million transformation including new features and activities - became the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail and the first from Miami, the biggest cruise port in the world.

 
It’s the beginning of a summer-long series of short cruises by Freedom of the Seas ( pictured above and top) to Royal Caribbean’s private island destination Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau in The Bahamas, with the cruise line’s president declaring, “Summer family vacations are back, and we are just getting started.” 
 
Freedom of the Seas is the first of ten Royal Caribbean ships to return through August, including Anthem of the Seas in the UK, Serenade and Ovation of the Seas in Alaska, and the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale. The cruise line will soon announce plans to reintroduce the rest of its fleet around the world by year’s end.
 

Carnival Vista: Port of Galveston


One other cruise line used the occasion of the long weekend to mark its return to cruising.

Carnival Cruise line made its first sailing from Texas, on the Carnival Vista, with ship’s officers, cruise line and local officials leading a “Back to Fun” ribbon cutting ceremony to welcome guests on board.


The Vista then set sail from her homeport of Galveston on a weeklong cruise with stops at the private beach resort Mahogany Bay on Roatan Island, Honduras, Cozumel and Belize City.
 
Another Carnival ship also returned to cruising on the long weekend, with Carnival Horizon sailing from Port Miami the day after the Vista. Carnival Breeze sails from Galveston July 15 and Carnival Miracle kicks off the line’s Alaska season from Seattle July 27. Mardi Gras, Carnival’s newest ship, sails from Port Canaveral July 31. Other ships in the Carnival fleet restart service in August.
 
Carnival operates from more U.S. homeports than any other cruise line, and says half of Americans –and many Canadians – are within a day’s drive of one of Carnival’s 14 U.S. homeports.
 
Other lines are returning to cruise from U.S. ports and ports around the world this summer, too. All of them have new measures and protocols in place to keep guests, crew, and residents in ports of call safe in the new, post-pandemic travel world.

Your trusted travel advisor can help you navigate the cruise line’s return to service schedule, which cruise on which cruise line – and when- best suits your travel plans and comfort level. And they can help familiarize you with the new protocols and requirements that will be part of the landscape – and seascape – as we begin to cruise again.

#PlanYourCruiseNow

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

Images courtesy their respective cruise lines.

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






Now You Can Discover Your European Family Heritage While Sailing on a River Cruise
It’s news that marries two of the fastest-growing styles of travel: river cruising and family heritage travel.

AmaWaterways has partnered with Ancestry, the company that specializes in genomics and connecting people to their family history.

The river cruise line has done family-heritage themed cruises before, but now, you’ll be able to uncover specific details about your own family. That’s because guests are given pre-cruise private ancestry consultation and family history research, while onboard, presentations and curated excursions hosted by an expert genealogist connect your present with your past.

AmaWaterways says the pandemic highlighted how we cherish our family connections and travel – and trips like these offer us the privilege to travel to find our roots. They were inspired to help guests bring “treasured family stories to life.”

Obviously, not everyone will find their roots on a European river cruise. The series begins on the Rhine river, from Amsterdam through the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland, so people with ancestors who came from one – or more! – of those countries, and who have wanted to walk in the footsteps of family members who came before them, will find it an appealing opportunity to have an expert-hosted trip to the land your family once called 'home'.


Imagine a deep dive into your family story, with the help of experts – and while you are sailing the historic Rhine river, the magic of travel is enhanced by the knowledge that your forebears likely passed along the river too. The rivers were the first transportation and communication routes, before road travel developed, so sailing on the river makes an ancestry trip feel even more authentic.

The marriage of ancestry and river cruise begins before you actually sail. You’re matched with an expert from Ancestry’s professional research division, and on a call at home, you can discuss what you already know about your family history and what you’re hoping to discover.

The experts take that information away and start researching your family background – and filter away what is true and what’s just family legend! As well as identify places of interest you may visit or pass by while sailing along the Rhine.

On board, an expert genealogist offers presentations to provide insight into what life was like for guests’ ancestors and highlight the types of records that are available for them to learn more. As guests sail along the Rhine, enjoying every delight of a river cruise, since you’re passing through different regions where your ancestors lived, it triggers your historic imagination and heightens the river cruise experience even more.

The genealogist will also explain the history behind those areas, providing a deeper understanding of the past and a glimpse of guests’ ancestors’ everyday lives.

Guests also enjoy a private onboard consultation with the expert genealogist to review their own family tree, coming full circle from their initial consultation at home before their trip and connecting the dots with what was discovered during your journey. Guests will also have the opportunity to enjoy an Ancestry-specific group excursion with their expert genealogist. In certain cases, travelers can delve even deeper with an optional add-on of an Ancestral Home Visit accompanied by an expert genealogist.
 
Heritage travel on the rivers of Europe promises to be a whole new way to enjoy European river cruising, with another dimension of meaning to the historic towns and countryside, even the waterways themselves.

Your trusted travel advisor can help you plan a trip with the deep meaning of returning to your roots – and the great pleasure of returning to travel.
 

#StartYourTrip!

 
Images courtesy AmaWaterways




'Revenge Travel' is the Latest Trend - And Here's How to Get Some
“Living well is the best revenge,” said a 16th-century poet, and that line may be the inspiration for one of the latest trends in travel.

Over a year of travel shutdowns has reminded us of how precious the privilege to explore the world is – and how we can’t take for granted that the special trips we’ve been dreaming about will still be ‘there’ when we sometime, somehow get around to it.

‘Revenge Travel’ isn’t about ‘getting back’ at any person – but at the pandemic that’s kept us from travel for so long. Like jilted lovers imagining scenarios of vengeance, people started dreaming of extravagant trips that would make up for the lost time.

Then instead of just plotting their ‘revenge’, they started acting on those dreams.

People are booking their Revenge Travel now, and it seems to fall into two categories:
·     Upgrading features of a trip you’re already planning to really make your return to travel in style; or
·     The dream trips that have been put off.

Not surprisingly, the top Revenge Travel trips overlap with travel bucket lists – is one of these your idea of the perfect revenge?

African Safari

The word ‘safari’ is Swahili, an overland journey through some of Africa’s most iconic landscapes, to see the continent’s most legendary wildlife in their natural settings.

Back when going on safari meant big game hunting, the ‘Big Five’ game animals were used as a benchmark of safari success. But these days, simply seeing and maybe photographing lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and Cape Buffalo – as well as cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, gorillas, chimps and other animals who fascinate travelers of every age – in their own environment in the plains, mountains and waters of Africa – is a trip of a lifetime for many.

Your travel advisor can help you plan an African safari at the right time of the year, in the right countries and parks to maximize your opportunity to experience your favorite African wildlife. And they can make sure you’re going on safari with a reputable company with knowledgeable and expert guides, that is committed to the conservation and preservation of the animals and their habitat for future travelers who dream of taking an African safari.

(InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa)

Tahiti and the South Seas

Just the mention of the ‘South Seas’ or any of its legendary islands like Tahiti, Bora Bora, or Moorea, conjures up images of the ultimate, remote, idyllic tropical escape, the most romantic trip of a lifetime.

Some choose to cruise the islands of the South Pacific and some dream of lazy days in those iconic, overwater villas that are the postcard image of travel to the South Seas. Some smart travelers do both options on the same trip: spend time cruising the legendary islands and looking onto landscapes and overwater villas from their balconies at sea… AND take time to stay on one island to luxuriate in the local lifestyle and overwater villa romance.

Your trusted travel advisor can help you choose which islands, or island-hopping agenda, or help you pair it up with a South Seas cruise in the luxury you want on a trip that’s almost as far away as anyone in North America can travel.
 

Egypt’s Pyramids

The pyramids at Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, remain one of the most mythical destinations for travelers with historic imaginations, to gaze up at these man-made wonders of the world and contemplate the civilization that created such monuments.

With the new, Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) opening in 2021, now may be the best time in years to design a trip to channel your inner ‘Indiana Jones’. Only a couple of miles from the Giza Plateau, the new museum is the largest archaeological museum in the world, home to countless artifacts of ancient Egypt, including the complete Tutankhamun collection and many pieces that there’s now room to display for the very first time. Egypt says the Grand Egyptian Museum will act as a gateway between the ancient pyramids and modern Cairo, with spectacular views of both worlds from the museum building.

In addition, major river cruise lines are returning this year to Egypt, and nothing helps a visitor to Egypt to get a sense of ancient and modern day Egypt than cruise to ancient historic sites, past Biblical landscapes, ancient ruins and communities that reveal the past and present lifestyle on the epic Nile.

Machu Picchu

The so-called “Lost City of the Incas” in Peru is another Revenge Travel destination for many travelers who have been hoping for a lifetime to walk within the 600-year old ruins at the peak of a mountain over 7000 feet high.

It’s the most-visited destination in the Andes, and the name actually means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain” and represents the height of Incan civilization. Getting there is more than half the fun, as is acclimatizing to the high altitudes. For the intrepid, there are hiking trails to Machu Picchu, but most take the train trip from Cusco, which is one of the epic train trips of the world. 

As the most-visited site in the Andes, with preservation requirements restricting how many visitors are permitted in each day, who must be accompanied by a guide, the best way to experience Machu Picchu is through a tour company that books blocks of tickets to ensure its clients gain admission, and have some of the most experienced and knowledgeable guides in their employ. Your travel advisor can help you book your Revenge Travel trip to the ancient heights of Machu Picchu with the most reputable tour companies with the best service and personal touch, who can also take care of other trip details like hotels and trains so your adventure into the Andes comes in comfort and style.

(Celebrity Cruise's Celebrity Flora)

Galapagos

This archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is the world’s ultimate marine safari. Etched into the world’s collective consciousness as the remote islands whose one-of-a-kind wildlife inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Galapagos remains today a touchstone trip for fans of scientific research or simply natural wonders.

From giant tortoises to famous blue-footed boobies, the fauna on the Galapagos Islands inspires a sense of awe in everyone who travels there.

Formerly accessible to those willing to rough it a bit on boats and from mainland Ecuador, these days, the Galapagos is also a destination for those who love the luxury, small, expedition ship experience. In the last couple of years, a number of cruise lines have even introduced purpose-built small ships for the Galapagos – complete with local design materials and flavours, and committed to the preservation of the ecosystem that is one of the world’s symbols of pristine wilderness at land and sea.

Antarctica

If you thought the Galapagos Islands were remote… the ‘White Continent’ is literally the world’s last frontier. Covered in ice sheets year round, and protected by international covenants from ecological damage, the 7th continent – and usually the last one for travel ‘collectors’ to check off their list – is the ultimate in remote exploration. Between glacial seas, dramatic mountains, and one-of-a-kind wildlife that includes famous Emperor and other types of penguins, seals, whales and other miracles of survival in this severe climate.

Like the Galapagos, Antarctic journeys are now well-served by luxury, small expedition cruises, that keep you cozy and indeed in the lap of luxury between zodiac landings onto ice floes and forays into other-worldly, icy waters. The ‘season for Antarctic cruising is during the southern hemisphere’s summer months, which is late fall and into winter and even early spring in North America.

The closest major urban center jumping off point is thrilling Buenos Aires, so you can add the tempos of tango and delicious wine tasting in Argentina to your once-in-a-lifetime journey to the bottom of the world. 
 
Do any of these meet your requirements for ‘Revenge Travel’? Or will any trip at all satisfy you? I think we can safely conclude that when it comes to travel: “revenge is a dish best served”… at cruising altitude ;-)
 
Tell us what YOUR idea of Revenge Travel is!

#RevengeTravel

#StartYourTrip

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host Best Trip TV







Riding the Rails AND the Waves in the Latest Travel Trend
There’s a phrase in travel: ‘Multi-modal’. Think of ‘planes, trains and automobiles,’ where you complete your trip via a number of different types of transportation.

Multi-modal travel is not new. But one version – larger-than-life journeys combining the romance of both cruise and rail - is picking up steam.

Ships and trains are a natural fit, even mirror images of each other: one on land, the other at sea. Cruise and rail modes are both steeped in storied history and traditions, and many travel lovers can name famous ships and trains as well as routes on their bucket list. For North Americans embedded in car culture, the unique rhythms and motion of riding waves or rail are unique and hypnotic. (Personally, I sleep better on a ship or train than I do at home.) And both modes provide travellers with perspectives on scenery they simply can’t see from the road.



Cruise or rail journeys on their own are perfect vacations. Pairing them together takes ‘unforgettable’ to a whole level. Travel companies have started making the connection, and there’s a growing collection of epic train-plus-ship itineraries like these:

Rail Journeys Inland Following a Sea Voyage


REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES' Concierge Collection of Cruise & Rail Journeys

Guests on Regent Seven Seas Cruises have had the option for several seasons to extend their journey on land - before or after their Regent Alaska cruise - on a Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train journey.


Where your luxury cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer takes you along the wild West Coast and introduces you to unspoiled marine seascapes, Rocky Mountaineer operates bucket list rail journeys between Vancouver, the major cruise port gateway to Alaska, and the iconic Canadian Rockies National Parks and towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. 

In the heart of the West’s greatest wilderness, from plush, glass-domed, railcars, guests take in a 360 degree view of mountains, lakes and forests as well as fine dining and personalized service.

So many guests have fallen in love with the train through Canada’s Rocky Mountains married with a luxury cruise, Regent-style along the northwest coast of the continent, that Regent is expanding opportunities globally with Belmond’s storied Belmond trains in what it’s calling a ‘Concierge Collection’ of journeys.

(Belmond via YouTube)

Imagine sailing for 16 days on Regent's Seven Seas Mariner from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru, where you’ll board the famous Hiram Bingham, a Belmond Train for the 3-day rail journey all the way to mystical Machu Picchu.

(Belmond via YouTube)

Other itineraries combining Regent cruises and Belmond ultra-luxury trains in Europe include the itineraries to the Swiss Alps and the Italian Dolomites.

SEABOURN

What's better than a cruise through the untamed seascapes of Alaska on an ultra-luxury, small Seabourn ship? Guests can extend their time in Alaska and British Columbia with Seabourn Journeys, pre- and/or post-cruise itineraries featuring destinations and experiences in treasured locations that cannot be accessed on single-day excursions from Seabourn Odyssey during sailing. These include an exploration of some of Canada's most stunning mountain scenery aboard the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train.


Seabourn has an official partnership with UNESCO, and the cruise-and-rail route includes Canada's Banff National Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
 

Train Extensions of River Cruises in the Heart of Europe

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises are already unique. Each jewel-box ship is like a floating boutique hotel that captures and amplifies the best characteristics of the region where it sails.

You feel like you’re in an historic French hotel, re-done to modern tastes while sailing with Uniworld in Bordeaux or along the Rhone. For example, the company’s new ‘La Venezia’ has glass and textiles and flavours all sourced from its glamorous Venice home. (pictured, top)

Uniworld’s first Cruise & Rail journey transports guests from the Swiss Alps to Italy on a four-day Zurich-to-Venice train journey, taking guests to their week-long coastal cruise in Venice and Northern Italy on La Venezia. 

Uniworld's La Venezia

It’s been so in demand, Uniworld has developed a second Cruise & Rail itinerary for guests on La Venezia, from Venice to Istanbul for eight nights, and reverse, all summer long. The journey transports guests not just geographically, to to another era, beginning with a hotel stay in Istanbul, then train travel through nine countries including Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria, to the ship in Venice, where a week-long exploration of one of the world’s greatest seaports and coastline awaits.

If that’s not evocative enough, how about the ‘Castles of Transylvania’ journey connecting Golden Eagle’s Danube Express train with Uniworld’s ‘Enchanting Danube’ cruise, onboard the cruise line’s regal ship the Maria Theresa.  Guests can choose from either a pre-cruise rail option for a 12-night trip starting with a one-night hotel stay in Budapest or a post-cruise rail option for an 11-night trip starting in Passau. On this trip, top highlights include a visit to three castles, including a visit to the capital of the Transylvania region, Cluj-Napoca and even dinner at Bran Castle of the legend of Dracula!
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip TV

Images copyright as noted.

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.











Cruise Ships: New, Improved, and Coming Soon
The latest designs, innovations, and features, in a sparkling white cruise ship gliding over the waves. If that’s not enough to get you excited about taking a cruise on a new ship, there’s always ‘new ship smell’.
 
A new cruise ship may not have a distinctive scent like a new car, but knowing you’re among the first to experience a new entry to the world’s fleet of cruise ships is a not-to-miss sensation.
 
Not every new ship comes ‘hot off the press’. Some ships are remade during their lifetimes, and their mystique begins afresh.
 
Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s cruise expert, lists the ships to keep your eye out for right now, whether new, improved, or coming soon.
 

NEW

 

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas


The latest addition to this mega-cruise ship fleet is the 25th Royal Caribbean ship, and its second Quantum Class ship.
Vacationers of all ages are in for a combination of Royal’s signature, over-the-top cruise experiences plus 12 all-new and first-to-brand experiences including:
 
  • All-new pool deck to enjoy the sun and stars in style– Two decks, two open-air pools, four whirlpools and Splashaway Bay, anchored by a Quantum Ultra Class first – The Lime & Coconut bar
  • Action-packed top deck – Returning guest-favorites include the gravity-defying SkyPad virtual reality bungee trampoline adventure, FlowRidersurf simulator, skydiving with RipCord by iFly, and the iconic North Star all-glass observation capsule that boasts 360-degree views from 300 feet above sea level.
  • SeaPlex – The next-generation of a longtime Quantum Class favorite, this SeaPlex is the largest indoor and outdoor activity center at sea.
  • One-of-a-kind entertainment –Teched-out venues combine immersive technology, unparalleled special effects and world-leading performers and aerialists take the stage alongside six agile Roboscreens for a multidimensional live show.
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar and Teppanyaki – Two Royal Caribbean restaurants new to North America join the many dining options on board.
 
After an inaugural summer season sailing bubble cruises from Israel in the Eastern Med in 2021, Odyssey sails to Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean cruises including calls at the cruise line’s private island beach experience Perfect Day at CocoCay.
 

IMPROVED

  

Paul Gauguin Cruises’ The Gauguin

 
Paul Gauguin Cruises is the longest-continually sailing luxury cruise line in the South Pacific with its ship The Gauguin, which has emerged from drydock, after intensive environmental upgrades, making her more protective of this precious and sensitive setting.
 
In addition, all her staterooms, suites and public spaces have been renovated in a chic and fresh vision of Polynesian style to enrich her 322 guests' experience sailing the islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji and the South Pacific.

Every detail of The Gauguin's renovations reflect her South Seas home, including décor, artwork, Polynesian cuisine in the restaurants, onboard enrichment and cultural activities led by the ship's troupe of Tahitian entertainers. The refurbishment enhances the historic woodworks and adds local lagoon shades, green and natural tones, organic patterns and woven textiles, exotic panoramas and traditional artwork.

In addition to the renovation, the onboard lifestyle has been enhanced, with a new, virtual museum of over 150 paintings of artist Paul Gauguin, wifi, and all-inclusive experience, including dining in all three of the ship's restaurants.
 
Sailing on the renovated ship, guests have exclusive access to the line's private island and a private beach in Bora Bora, where you can embrace the natural wonders of the South Pacific through marine activities off the ship.
 

COMING SOON


Oceania Vista


By recently naming its upcoming ship The Vista (artists' renderings below and top), this culinary-and destination-focused cruise line looks to the future of cruise travel. The 1200-guest ship is the first of two new Allura Class ships on tap for Oceania, and will be the line’s 7th ship when it sets sail in 2023.

 
Like its sister ships, the new Vista will be a designer-inspired, intimate ship, with residential-inspired suites and staterooms, and dramatic and glamorous public spaces like the Grand Dining Room, which soars almost two decks in height and pays homage to the 'beautiful age' of early 20th-century Parisian society through its contemporary interpretation of Belle Époque. 

 
Guests will also be wowed by Vista's nine additional best-in-class culinary experiences, and several unique firsts that will re-define Oceania’s already acclaimed dining and guest experiences.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.









International Dark Sky Week, held during the week of the new moon each April, calls for people worldwide to turn out their lights and take in the beauty of the night sky without light pollution dimming its brilliance. 

It’s also an annual reminder that some of the very best travel experiences aren’t under the bright lights of a city. Some of the most awe-inspiring and life-changing travel moments involve absorbing Mother Nature’s greatest spectacles above us.

Astrotourism is a growing trend that helps travelers capture more of those transformational moments in the darkness.
Astro travel lets us tap into primal parts of ourselves, like our earliest ancestors who created myths and learned wisdom from celestial phenomena. And it reminds us how humans - like all creatures and the Earth itself – respond to the rhythms of movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

North Star and Big Dipper over Grosvenor Arch, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah, by Royce Bair, courtesy International Dark Sky Association

It celebrates the wonder in us all when we gaze at the mysteries of the stars in the night skies, or the Northern Lights. Or when we join others to take part in an astronomy event like a solar eclipse, meteor shower or passing comet and feel tiny in our universe and in awe of the infinite darkness that surrounds us.

Savvy astro-travelers have been planning for a while to be in Antarctica for December, 2021’s solar eclipse. If that’s a bit remote for you, wait around for the ‘Great North American Solar Eclipse’ on April 8, 2024: a dramatic astronomy event across the whole continent, that, at its max, will allow observers to see the Moon totally – totally! – blocking the Sun for over 4 minutes!  

Here are some ways you can become part of the dark sky and astrotourism trend, both on land, and at sea.

LAND


Dark Sky Parks
From New Zealand to New Mexico, there’s a growing list of over a hundred Dark Sky parks and reserves around the world. They preserve and protect the ability to see the heavens in their clearest forms as our human ancestors did, and the darkness the planet’s wildlife still relies on today.


New Zealand’s Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie Region (above), at 4300 square km, is the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world, and home to the darkest skies in the world. Much of New Zealand has no light pollution and is home to some of the most accessible observatories on planet Earth. The sheer brightness of the stars, contrasted by the ring of mountains surrounding the Mackenzie Basin, is utterly breath-taking.
 
In North America, Dark Sky parks and preserves are most often found under the vast – and remote- Western Skies, in National Parks where preserving the night skies aligns with the protection of the landscape and wildlife.

Dark Sky Festival in Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
 
Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s mountain parks, famous for magnificent glaciers, lakes and mountains. Jasper has also been designated as a Dark Sky Preserve for its special commitment to protect and preserve the night sky and to reduce or eliminate light pollution in all its forms.

(Jasper National Park/ Jasper Tourism)
 
It’s one of 17 designated Dark Sky Preserves in Canada, the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, and the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve - meaning there’s a town within the limits of the preserve.

As daylight hours begin to shrink, the month of October is the perfect time for Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival. Dozens of events including dark sky photography workshops, interactive experiences at Jasper’s Planetarium, black hole sculptures, and ‘Animals of the Night’ hikes, indoor and outdoor events, speakers and hands-on celestial activities celebrate the night skies that cradle the earth.

Room With a View – of the Stars
A number of resorts near and far help their guests feel closer to the night skies.

At remote Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point, Utah, there’s an in-house astronomer providing complimentary stargazing sessions to guests, an ‘astrophotography’ machine that wirelessly connects users to download astropics to their devices, even a ‘sky terrace’ suite where you can fall asleep under the stars.
 
The Hyatt Regency in Maui, Hawaii has a resident director of astronomy and a Tour of The Stars program that allows guests, just a smidge north of the equator, to see almost all of the 88 constellations.
 
Nearby, The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s stargazing program highlights celestial navigation and the story of Polynesian overseas migration to the Hawaiian islands, and provides guests telescopes to check out the starry skies on their own, too.
 
Farther afield, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo offers a ‘Taste the Stars’ program. (Watch a video of the program, top.)

It includes a 7-course tasting menu developed by the resort's chefs in collaboration with Costa Rican-born astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz. A secret ingredient is South American wine aged in a 4.5 billion year old meteorite! Plus a guided stargazing session using a powerful GPS-guided telescope and a take-home sourvenir of the moon shot through the telescope while you’re there. Costa Rica is one of the few places above the Equator where Magellanic Clouds, two galaxies first identified by explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the 1520s, are visible.
 

SEA

It makes sense that some of the darkest skies in the world are found offshore. Way offshore, at sea. Which makes ships some of the best places for celestial experiences - and cruise lines are getting onboard.

2021’s Antarctic Solar Eclipse luckily takes place during the southern hemisphere’s summer, so it’s drawing a host of the world’s expedition cruise ships with guests on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise of the Antarctic – with a solar eclipse completely un-muted by light pollution from land.
 
Silversea has three of its ultra-luxury polar expedition ships sailing in Antarctic waters for the Solar Eclipse. Be on deck with fewer than 250 guests as the brilliance of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and gaze amazed as the changing light and sharpening shadows highlight Antarctica’s beauty.

(Courtesy Silversea)

Atlas Ocean Voyages is a new luxury, small ship expedition cruise line that will amazingly include Antarctic’s Solar Eclipse in its inaugural season! On the day of the eclipse, you’ll be sailing through icy waters, and be able to see the total solar eclipse against a backdrop of mammoth icebergs.

Ponant is a French luxury, small-ship expedition cruise line. Its newest ship is also the first, luxury hybrid electric polar-class vessel. Just over 250 guests will make the ‘badge of honor’ sailing through the Drake Passage on the day of the eclipse. You’ll be able to disembark the ship onto the ice pack where, according to Ponant, “the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies”, a rare privilege enhanced by naturalist guides and on-board scientists.

Imagine seeing an eclipse from the Scenic Eclipse! Two former NASA scientists and a world-renowned astrologer will be joining the Scenic Eclipse’s 200 guests when the luxury expedition yacht – that comes complete with two touring helicopters and a six-person submarine, the first permitted to operate in these waters - is strategically positioned for an optimal view at Antarctica’s South Sandwich Island archipelago on the day of the eclipse.

You don’t need a special celestial event for this next Astro tourism cruise!

(Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Flora is the cruise line’s first purpose-built small ship, just for Galapagos expeditions. The legendary islands far off the coast of Ecuador are well known for their unique wildlife, but guests also have the benefit of a brilliant night sky and countless stars above.

Celebrity has crafted a whole new Galapagos cruising experience available on all its Galapagos sailings: 'Glamping' (glamorous camping) Under the Stars that you'll never forget. Four guests each night will be able to sleep on the ship’s top deck in a specially designed cabana. You’ll also enjoy dining alfresco with curated cocktails, wines, even campfire favorites like s'mores under the stars. A naturalist is available to point out stars and constellations as seen only from this part of the world. The magical overnight experience concludes with sunrise and a full bed-side breakfast. 
Remote lands and seas are on many travelers’ bucket-lists – and adding the natural wonders of the skies to your adventure of a lifetime makes it just that much more unforgettable. 
 

#DreamNowStarGazeSoon


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.












Yes, You Can Cruise Again - This Summer! Here's How.

No sailing in American or Canadian waters yet? No problem! That’s what at least three cruise lines – so far - are saying.


Plus, some other lines confirming they’re able to start cruising despite restrictions.


Especially if you’re one of the millions of people in the US and Canada who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – or will be soon – you could be on the deck of a ship as early as June, enjoying the feel of sea breezes wafting over you. 


Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s cruise expert, explains.

Offshore Cruising


At least three cruise lines have given up waiting for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to overturn cruise bans in US and Canadian waters. Instead, they’ve announced plans for offshore cruising. 

And chances are, we’ll be seeing more.

Ships that once sailed from the States into the Caribbean now have new homeports in the islands.

They’ve come up with new itineraries eager cruise travellers will love, and health and safety measures that will make guests confident to cruise again. These cruise lines, or their sister cruise lines, have already been sailing successfully in other places around the world, and are putting those practices to good use for returning guests from North America.

Crystal Cruises

Beginning in July til at least October, the ultra-luxury Crystal Serenity will be homeporting in The Bahamas, just 50 miles off Florida. 

(Courtesy Crystal Cruises)

The Serenity will be cruising two series of 7-night cruises. One series sails round trip from Nassau, and the other, round trip from Bimini. They’re bubble cruises: all-Bahamian itineraries that keep returning cruisers close to home, and all within a single jurisdiction, without risk of border closures.

Pre-and post-cruise land/hotel stays are also available, and cruisers will also be able to enjoy the famous private island oasis The Beach Club at Bimini, as well as experience four other idyllic Bahamian islands, most of which have until now only been accessible to private yachts, like Harbour Island, ‘The Nantucket of the Caribbean’, Great Exuma, renowned for its swimming pigs, San Salvador Island, and Long Island.

Celebrity Cruises

The newly renovated Celebrity Millennium will homeport in the island of St. Maarten from the first week of June through at least August. 

(The Retreat on the Celebrity Millennium; Top Photo Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

The Millennium will sail 2 series of 7-night cruises in ‘modern luxury.’ One itinerary features two other Dutch Caribbean islands: Aruba and Curacao, as well as Barbados. The other itinerary includes Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados.

Celebrity will offer a range of curated tours at every port of call, and the cruise line is also offering small group or private tours for guests preferring to explore the destinations with only members of their family or travel bubble.

 

Royal Caribbean

Mega-cruise ship line Royal Caribbean is launching new homeports in the Caribbean for two of its ships this summer, both beginning their new itineraries in June, and sailing at least through August.

Adventure of the Seas will homeport in Nassau, The Bahamas, and Vision of the Seas will homeport in Bermuda. 
Both ships’ itineraries call at Royal’s acclaimed private island Perfect Day at CocoCay, with 13 waterslides including the tallest on the continent, a tethered balloon ride, floating cabanas, beaches, and the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

(Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay)
 
Guests on Adventure of the Seas will have two, back-to-back days at CocoCay, as well as quality time exploring Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas and Cozumel, Mexico.
 
Vision of the Seas guests spend a full day at CocoCay, and an overnight amongst the pink sands and colourful homes of homeport Bermuda.
 

But It’s Not All Offshore North America


Royal Caribbean has also just announced its first Mediterranean series of summer sailings open to vaccinated guests from all countries. Beginning in July and running through at least October, Jewel of the Seas will homeport in Cyprus for the first time, and sail 7-night cruises along the captivating coastlines of Cyprus and Greece, calling at culture-rich cities and idyllic islands, including Limassol, Athens, Greece and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini.

And Celebrity will also sail in the Mediterranean this summer, homeporting the brand-new Apex in Athens, Greece, sailing 7-night cruises beginning in June: one itinerary to Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes as well as Cyprus; and another to Greek islands as well as to the Israeli ports of Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel.

Some other cruise lines are also sailing in North America this summer, with ships small enough they’re exempt from restrictions imposed on larger ships, and can sail from their regular homeports in American or Canadian waters.

US river cruise lines American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company have begun their seasons of sailing in American waterways including itineraries along the Mississippi and Columbia rivers.

UnCruise Adventures focuses on American coastal waters, including Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and 2021 is no exception, thanks to the intimate size of its ships.  

Lindblad, with roots in Sweden and a long-term partner with National Geographic expeditions, also expects to be sailing with its fleet of small ships in Alaska by June, as well as on itineraries in Galapagos and Iceland.

Canadian-based St. Lawrence Cruise Lines and Le Boat offer Canadian options in the Great Lakes region this year.

Expect to see more, all-new homeports and itineraries coming up this year, as more and more cruise lines continue to find alternative ways to restart cruising.


Your favorite, expert travel advisor can help you navigate all the exciting new choices, and keep you up to date on health and safety protocols and requirements.

 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
 
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3rd 'Lady Ship' Announced for New Cruise Company on International Women's Day
Cruise lovers haven’t even had a chance to sail aboard the first ship on this new – and much anticipated – cruise line. The Scarlet Lady launched a year ago just moments before the travel shutdown, and guests are still waiting to find out what it’s like to cruise the adults-only, Virgin Voyages way.


 That hasn’t stopped Sir Richard Branson’s disruptor cruise line from continuing to build its fleet of what – in a twist of British cheek – it’s calling ‘lady ships’. So of course, they seized upon International Women’s Day to unveil the ‘Resilient Lady.’

“Virgin Voyages is announcing Resilient Lady on International Women’s Day to symbolise the spirit of its Lady Ships, and to celebrate women and their achievements, strength, leadership and resilience. Resilient Lady has a bright future ahead of her, as Virgin Voyages’ second ship to sail the Mediterranean (after her sister ship Valiant Lady),” the cruise line said in its announcement.
 
The Resilient Lady is due to launch in the summer of 2022, and will be identical to her two sister Lady Ships.


Nearly 3000 passengers will sail in Branson’s ‘rebel luxe’ style, with more than 20 included restaurants, (no buffet and no ‘main dining room’) champagne on demand at the push of a button, the first tattoo studio at sea, tables in suites designed to dance on, not a Broadway show to be found, but instead, a music festival-like lineup of all-new completely original Events & Gigs developed by some of the world’s most-talked about producers, directors and artists, and a‘detox/retox’ lifestyle the celebrity CEO has made famous.


When cruising starts again, Virgin Voyages’ first Lady Ship, Scarlet Lady, resumes her inaugural season from its Miami homeport on long-weekend-type itineraries that include a late-night call at the cruise line’s new private beach resort in Bimini, the Bahamas, an Ibiza-style/ music festival inspired experience with DJ’s and bonfires on the beach.

Valiant Lady, Virgin Voyages’ second ship, is scheduled to debut in 2021, embarking on three different itineraries from her homeport in the heart of Barcelona. All her itineraries in the Western Mediterranean include overnight and late night stops across some of the hottest destinations in France, Italy and Spain, like Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Marseiile, Malaga, Gibraltar. So ‘sailors’ – what Virgin Voyages calls its guests - will have the flexibility to take in a big night out, a chilled beach day, bohemian markets, or a serene spa.
 
“Sailing in the Med is such an extraordinary experience, and we’re so excited to bring the adventure of a Virgin Voyage to this beautiful place,” Sir Richard Branson says.
 
Where Valiant Lady sails the Western Med, the Resilient Lady focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean in two itineraries that give guests a rebel-luxe experience of Greek island-hopping sailing from her Athens homeport. Imagine exploring the most famous Aegean Sea’s islands of Santorini, Rhodes, Crete and Mykonos, with an overnight stay in that legendary party destination as the ship remains docked in a premiere location with access to the island’s picturesque promenade. On the ship’s other itinerary, she sails west from Athens to the Adriatic, including an after-closing-time departure from Dubrovnik so sailors will have plenty of time to experience the rich history of Croatia during the day and take part in the active nightlife, before scenic sailing to Kotor, Corfu and Argostoli.
 
With the announcement of the Resilient Lady, Virgin Voyages has charted a course for forever-young ‘sailors’ to replace jet-setting trips to famously ‘island party’/ music festival destinations with its new style of marine travel that brings 3000 like-minded new friends to the party with them.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Virgin Voyages








World's Longest River Cruise Set for 2023

46 nights. 7 rivers. 14 countries. You’ve heard of ocean ‘World Cruises’. This is the first of its kind for river cruising and may be the start of a whole new river cruise travel trend.

 
The longest-ever river cruise itinerary is the perfect way to refill a love for cruising that’s been running dry since the pandemic. AmaWaterways calls it the ‘Seven River Journey Through Europe’, and it sails in 2023.
 
Similar in spirit to ocean ‘World Cruises’, this river cruise version is different in a couple of ways. Almost all ocean World Cruises depart in the New Year, sailing for months on a single ship. The Seven River Journey Through Europe departs June 1st at the height of fine weather in Europe. And instead of a single ship squiring guests around the world, guests on the Seven River Journey are taken on seamless overland transfers between four AmaWaterways ships
 
The first leg of the Seven River Journey sails the Seine round-trip from Paris on the AmaLyra. Switch to the AmaKristina for a cruise from Lyon to Tarascon, France on the Saône and Rhône rivers, then on the AmaPrima on the Rhine, Moselle and Main rivers between Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The final leg of the epic, nearly two-month long river cruise odyssey concludes on the AmaVerde on the Danube river, sailing through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
 
Experienced river cruise travelers may have experienced ‘back-to-back’ river cruises before, but this is an entirely new experience. 144 guests take the entire journey together, developing deep friendships during this extraordinary exploration of the heart of some of Europe’s greatest history, culture, architecture, culinary and wine regions.

 
The cruise brings the destinations to life through more than 130 complimentary excursions including all-new tours and exclusive experiences that include 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and local epicurean experiences. Picture yourself and your travel companions sailing through the romantic city of Paris, venturing to the historic D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, being treated to an exclusive visit to Lahneck Castle in Germany, and visiting off-the-beaten-path wonders in countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
 
On board the four AmaWaterways river ships, in addition to fine dining and hand-selected wines at every meal in multiple onboard venues, a Wellness Host offers a variety of core strengthening, stretching and yoga classes, and all of the amenities AmaWaterways’ guests have come to love.
 
The company has also included features often found on luxury and small ships embarking on World or Grand cruises, like complimentary laundry and portage services, as well as included gratuities and a dedicated Cruise Manager to accompany and guide guests throughout all 46 nights, 7 rivers, 14 countries and 4 ships.
 
When the company teased the Seven River Journey Through Europe on social media, the response was so overwhelming, it seems certain to become a new and growing tradition for AmaWaterways in future cruise seasons. Other river cruise lines may well launch their own versions, too.
 
But at the moment, there’s only one chance to be part of cruise history and the first Seven River Journey Through Europe, so our tip is to check your travel calendar and consult with your travel advisor soon.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy AmaWaterways

Drink a Cocktail Made by the World’s 1st Human-like Robot Bartender at Sea
He mixes drinks, but doesn’t stop there. ‘Rob’ the robot bartender also speaks 8 languages, tells jokes and even dances too!
 
When we can cruise again, you won’t want to miss the world’s first humanoid – and interactive – shipboard robot bartender, who will make you the perfect cocktail to toast your return to cruising and travel.
 
When MSC Cruises launches its newest flagship this spring, it will have at least one exclusive feature.
 
The futuristic MSC Starship Club lets cruise guests feel like they’ve walked into a sci-fi movie as the sidle up to a bar that would look right at home in a space ship.  MSC tells us the Starship Club was half a decade in the making, the result of experts in robotics and automation, digital media, interior design and of course, mixology and entertainment.

 
After placing your order in one of the bar’s ‘vertical digital cockpits’, you can watch as Rob shakes up your order from a menu of 16 signature ‘cosmic cocktails’ – alcoholic and kid-friendly – or a beverage of your own creation using dozens of ingredients including spirits, juices and syrups, mixes and garnishes.
 
Meanwhile, an LED ticker tape strip above the robotic island tracks the status of your drink. And the 3D holograms and immersive digital art wall add to the atmosphere.   
 
Just like any good bartender, Rob’s got a ‘schtick’, chatting to guests, sharing jokes and responding to guests with human-like facial expressions and hand gestures – even dance moves.
 
When Rob is not preparing cocktails, he’s working the room. His AI programming gives him the ability to recognize guests passing by, greet and striking up a conversation with them.

 
The MSC Starship Lounge is just one of the 21 indoor and outdoor bars on board the 6300-guest Virtuosa, along with 11 dining options including a new concept for MSC: Indochine, with fusion Vietnamese/French cuisine.
 
Virtuosa and her sister ship Grandiosa are the two largest ships in 18-strong MSC Cruises' fleet. So there’s plenty of room for five spacious pools and one of the biggest and most elaborate waterparks at sea.
 
The Virtuosa will also be home to the longest LED dome at sea over top of the Galleria Virtuosa of a dozen boutiques and places to gather, lounge, sip and enjoy live entertainment.

And for those who like a quieter, more intimate cruise experience, the MSC Yacht Club is a luxury ‘ship within a ship’ with 24-hour butler service, private access to suites, dedicated restaurant, lounges, pool, whirlpools and spa space.
 
The ship will also be highly equipped with cutting-edge technologies and environmentally conscious capabilities.
 
After completing short cruises in the Mediterranean, Virtuosa will be deployed to Northern Europe in summer 2021 with a range of itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images: MSC






  Every 10 Years, This ‘World’s Fair’ of Flowers Upstages Netherlands’ Tulip Time. Don’t Miss Floriade 2022
 
If you thought Tulip Time in the Netherlands was the ultimate garden travel experience, you haven’t heard about Floriade.

Horticulture is famously the Netherlands’ most ‘colorful’ industry. The country sells half of the world’s ‘floriculture’ products and over three-quarters of the world’s flower bulbs. It’s number one in greenhouse horticulture and leads global exports of cut flowers, ornamental plants and even trees.

One of the most magnificent Dutch travel experiences is an early spring – ‘Tulip Time’ – visit to Keukenhof, the world’s largest spring flower garden featuring 7 million spring bulbs including over a thousand varieties of tulips alone. But even this experience – marvellous for visitors as it is – is actually a functioning, outdoor trade show exhibiting the best and latest bulb varieties for buyers from around the world.

Tulip Time, where a drive through the southern provinces of the Netherlands reveals fields of blooming tulips as far as the eye can see, and Keukenhof garden tours, luckily take place every year.

Floriade happens only 10 times a century.

Some call it the ‘World’s Fair’ of horticulture, and the next one is in 2022, just in time for travel-hungry people to ensure their post-pandemic travel plans include the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime collection of vivid memories.
 
Floriade is the largest public event in the country, drawing 2 million visitors over six months between April and October to its vast displays of almost any plant that grows, in stunning gardens, installations, pavilions and greenhouses.

 
The exhibition moves around, with this Floriade taking place in a purpose-built, ultra-modern, 150-acre ‘garden city’ built on land reclaimed from the sea near Amsterdam.
 
The theme in 2022 is ‘Growing Green Cities’, with exhibitors from the Netherlands and around the world displaying green solutions and next-generation innovations and inventions for enjoyable, liveable and sustainable urban centers. 
 
Like the term ‘World’s Fair of Horticulture’ suggests, Floriade offers 40 inspiring country presentations which will also house a spectacular greenhouse complex, a cable car over the Floriade park, pavilions with sustainable innovations and a vibrant arts and culture programme. An electric scale-model train moves visitors around the vast site, and a 35-meter high, 850-meter long cable car provides an incredible view of what will seem like the Garden of Eden below.

 
Other highlights of Floriade include: an international collection of plants, flowers and trees and 14,000 bulbs organized alphabetically ‘A to Z’ in nearly 200 sections of a vast arboretum like you’re walking through a plant encyclopedia, Alice in Wonderland style.

A visit to Floriade includes culinary experiences, entertainment and culture, and the intersection of horticulture and art, like the ‘life artwork’ project ‘Bobbing Forest’ consisting of 20 recycled sea buoys from the North Sea, planted with Dutch Elm trees even as they ‘bob’ in the water, which you can view from the cable car or on a tour boat that departs from a waterside terrace.

The theme even has a double meaning, since the site is set to become a new urban district once the expo closes. Its name will be ‘Hortus’, meaning ‘garden’ in Latin, and some future homes have already been built that will serve as pavillions during Floriade and in a perfect ‘green’ re-purposing, revert to homes afterwards.

 

How To Floriade

 
Like many other ticketed events, it pays to be part of an escorted group with guaranteed access and no need to line up with people waiting for tickets.

Amsterdam is the jumping off point for both Floriade and the Netherland’s spectacular spring flower garden Keukenhof. 

It’s also a hub for land, ocean, and river travel, which means there are options for people of all travel styles to immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty and inspiring innovation of Floriade.

Here are a few of our favorites:

LAND TOURS:


Check out: Trafalgar 

Trafalgar’s guests on tours like Amsterdam Explorer and Best of Holland will spend a full day at the Floriade, and “Dive Into Culture” and discover what it would be like to live in a city which is built with environmental sustainability at its core. You’ll explore the location's three districts, each with their own theme – Food, Health and Energy, and the ‘Green Island’, along with live entertainment, cultural shows and culinary delights. In addition to Floriade, you’ll cruise the canals or bike through Amsterdam, taste cheese in Gouda, learn how pottery is made in Delft, and taste exquisite chocolate.
 

 RIVER CRUISES

 
Check out: Uniworld, Avalon Waterways, Tauck, Scenic and Emerald Cruises

Luxury, boutique river cruise Uniworld is including Floriade as a ‘Choice Excursion’ on three of its 2022 itineraries, including the new Dutch Delight, as well as European Jewels and Remarkable Rhine and Historical Holland cruises on the cosmopolitan, richly elegant River Empress ship. Uniworld guests will have enjoy a full day excursion to Floriade, where you will stroll the expansive arboretum, sample healthful foods and learn about developments in sustainable architecture and energy.
 
Ultra-luxury river cruise line Tauck includes the Floriade experience on select Rhine River cruises in 2022. One of the things that sets the cruise line apart are its ‘Tauck Exclusive’ private shore experiences, which in this region of Europe, can include things like a pre-opening visit to the open-air Zuiderzee Museum; a private evening at the acclaimed Mauritshuis museum, where you will view masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer (including his iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring) and others and have dinner with live music for you and your fellow guests only; a cruise on the IJsselmeer aboard a century-old sailboat; and tease for, “a special Dutch treat at Floriade 2022.
 
Avalon Waterways is offering travellers on 8-day Active Discovery in Holland & Belgium, and Tulips of Northern Holland sailings (as well as a number of Rhine and multi-river cruises) the opportunity to sail, enjoying the only open-air balconies in river cruising with floor to ceiling, sliding glass windows facing your bed, then stop and smell the roses at Floriade, a featured, included excursion, giving guests the chance to join the celebration of phenomenal flora in all its finery and fill their senses with color, fragrance and fantastic food.
 
Scenic has increased its 2022 departures for Windmills, Tulips and Belgian Delights cruise, and for cruises from April to October, you’ll visit Floriade. The luxury river cruise line will also offer a two night extension to visit Floriade to Danube, Rhine and multi-river cruises between end of April to October that take care of all your planning and logistics for you, and allow you to spend as much time at Floriade as you like.
Sister line Emerald Cruises has similar options.
 

OCEAN CRUISES


Check out: Crystal

Ultra-luxury Crystal cruises include Floriade on sailings on their legendary ocean ships calling in Amsterdam, including London-roundtrip Gardens and Gateways, as well as London-Stockholm and Copenhagen-Reykjavik.
 

ASK US ABOUT THE BEST WAY FOR YOU TO FLORIADE IN 2022.

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon



Images/ renderings courtesy Floriade

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8 New Cruise Ships You Missed in 2020 - And Why to Sail Them Soon
Can we hit the reset button on 2020? Usually, at the beginning of each year, we look forward to new ships guests will be among the first in the world to experience in their inaugural seasons.
 
But in 2020, more than a dozen new cruise ships sailed out of their shipyards only to sit empty, waiting for cruising to resume to welcome guests on new cruising adventures.
 
BestTrip TV’s Lynn Elmhirst provides her list of favorite vessels from the class of 2020 you’ll want to turn back the calendar and add to your ‘new ship’ cruise collection.
 

American Cruise Lines’ Jazz and Melody

 
This cruise line floated out not one, but two ships during COVID, which paused, but didn’t quench travelers’ thirst to rediscover America by water. American Cruise Lines welcomed American Jazz and American Melody in 2020. They are the 3rd and 4th ships in ACL’s ‘Modern Series’.
 
No paddlewheels here. The American Melody and Jazz feature clean lines and contemporary elegance with a grand, multi-story atrium, a patented opening bow and retractable gangway, elevator access to all decks, and sweeping expanses of glass and panoramic views.


175 guests enjoy 100% private balcony, spacious accommodations, indoor and outdoor dining with world-class gastronomy using local ingredients; numerous lounges; several open-air & shaded sundecks; Library; Chart Room; Game Room; Fitness Room & Yoga-Wellness Studio. Not to mention the inclusions like cocktails before dinner, wine and beer with meals, itineraries with complimentary shore excursions, and daily entertainment and destination enrichment.

The ships' inaugural sailings in 2021 are on the fabled Mississippi.
 

Regent Seven Seas Splendor

 
Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer has been called the most luxurious ship ever built – and early in 2020, her sister ship, the Splendor, was set to take on that mantle herself.

Splendor is the second ship in Regent’s ‘Explore Class’ of lavish ships. But after a spectacular naming ceremony by godmother, former supermodel Christie Brinkley, the Splendor’s inaugural season came to a halt.

When it begins a new inaugural season in 2021, the Splendor’s 750 guests will finally get a chance to experience this all-suite, all-balcony ship some have called a ‘work of art’. The ship boasts more than an acre of Italian marble, 500 crystal chandeliers, a multi-million dollar art collection, and among the largest balconies at sea.

Returning Regent guests will enjoy the new iterations of favorite, included restaurants, and Italian restaurant Sette Mari at La Veranda debuts over-water alcove seating that extends over the ocean.


A new gourmet Culinary Arts Kitchen and a first-of-its-kind globally inspired spa for Regent featuring treatments and techniques from across cultures also make their debuts on this Regent ship inaugural season guests have waited a year to experience.
 

Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady

 
It was the first ship of a brand new cruise line, fronted by the famous entrepreneur who added cheeky fun to air travel - and was set to upend the definition of cruising. 
 
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages came out of the gate strong early in 2020 with the launch of its 2800-passenger Scarlet Lady. But only a few media and travel advisors experienced the Scarlet Lady’s ‘rebel luxe’ style of cruising in Europe as the ship was en route to its Miami homeport - before the pandemic brought the ship’s triumphant inaugural season to a halt.


Virgin Voyages expects to re-launch mid 2021, welcoming guests who’ve been waiting over a year to experience the ship’s more than 20 included restaurants, champagne on demand at the push of a button, the first tattoo studio at sea, tables in suites designed to dance on, and ‘detox/retox’ lifestyle Branson has made famous.

The Scarlet Lady sails on shorter, long-weekend-type itineraries that include a late-night call at the cruise line’s new private beach resort in Bimini, the Bahamas, an Ibiza-style/ music festival inspired experience with DJ’s and bonfires on the beach.
 

Celebrity Cruises’ Apex

 
Mid 2020 saw the delivery of the second of Celebrity Cruises’ 3000-passenger Edge-series ships in a virtual ceremony. It then sailed to join other Celebrity ships waiting off America’s coast for cruising to resume.

 
The Edge, and now the Apex, have one of the most unique ship designs at sea. A bright orange, cantilevered venue called the ‘Magic Carpet’ appears to cling to the side of both ships as it travels up and down to different floors, operating as a lounge or dining venue or even a tender launch area at sea level.
 
In addition to the Edge’s trademark ‘Magic Carpet’ re-appearing on the Apex, other Edge features like ‘Infinite Veranda’ staterooms, nearly 30 dining venues, outdoor plunge pools and a luxurious, exclusive ‘Retreat’ lounge, restaurant and outdoor space for suite guests reappear on the Apex.

Silversea: Silver Origin and Silver Moon

 
A two-fer of new ship deliveries for this 6-star cruise line in 2020, so afficionados of Silversea’s European, ultra-luxury cruising style have lots to look forward to in 2021.
 
Silver Origin is Silversea’s first newbuild specific to a destination, and it will sail year round in the Galapagos.
 
They’re calling it ‘the most elegant ship ever to sail the Galapagos’. It also marks the most environmentally conscious ship the cruise line has ever built, mindful of the uniquely-sensitive Galapagos islands. It’s an ultra-luxury vessel designed for deeply experiential exploration of the Galapagos with a team of Ecuadorian expert guides, an interactive ‘basecamp’, and 8 Zodiacs.

Just 100 privileged guests on Silver Origin will enjoy all-suite accommodations with ‘Horizon Balconies’, its signature butler service for all, 2 restaurants including local Ecuadorian cuisine, and state of the art technology as well as the simple, primal warmth and social interaction of a fire pit in the Explorer Lounge at the end of a thrilling day ashore (pictured, top).  
 
Silver Moon is a sister ship to the Silver Muse, expanding outdoor spaces and re-imagining public spaces including restaurants and guest-favorite indoor gathering space and evening piano bar, Dolce Vita.
 
Understated luxe décor and amenities embrace the Silver Moon’s 600 guests in comfort, and dedicated butlers, stocked in-suite bar, 24-hour in-suite dining make your suite on the Silver Moon feel even better than home.

 
The Silver Moon also debuts the line’s new culinary enrichment programme, S.A.L.T., which is an acronym of ‘Sea and Land Taste’.  It gives guests the opportunity to explore a range of destination-focused gastronomic experiences—both on-board and ashore. Three new venues: a restaurant, test kitchen and bar, form a hub of culinary discovery on Deck 4 of the Silver Moon as part of the S.A.L.T. program.
 

Princess Cruises’ Enchanted Princess

 
Princess Cruises’ 5th Royal-class ship was delivered in a low-key way in the fall. When the Enchanted Princess sails in 2021, 3600 passengers will get to experience all of the cruise line’s latest innovations and amenities, including all of its ‘Medallion’ wearable digital device conveniences as well as the multi-story atrium Piazza, glass ‘SeaWalk’ and 80% balcony staterooms.

 
The Enchanted Princess also boasts some unique features, including a new suite category called Sky Suites with Princess’ largest private balconies, located at the top of the ship and giving their guests a view of the ship’s ‘Movies Under the Stars’ from their suites. 
 
In addition, the new ship has a new concept Sanctuary, with more private cabana capacity, and a Wakeview pool at the aft of the ship. 2021 will also see another sister ship, the Discovery Princess, sailing its own inaugural season.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon


Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.
 
 
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3 Luxurious Ways to Experience the Travel Event of 2021 - the Antarctic Solar Eclipse
A year from now, one of the travel events of our lifetime will be over.
 
Not only will 2021 see the return to travel we’ve all longed for; on December 4th, 2021, a total solar eclipse will take place.

A total solar eclipse, where the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, completely blocking out the sun for a short period of time, is as mystical and as primal an experience for us modern humans as it has been for all of our ancestors before us through time immemorial.

Antarctic waters are the only place in the world with 100% visibility of this awe-inspiring astronomical event. The remote site also means no ‘light pollution’ from surrounding human population centers will interfere with the full impact of the eclipse.

And luckily for travelers, December is Antarctic summer, when waters are most navigable.

Luxury expedition cruise lines with ice class ships for navigating polar seas have planned sailings to view the Solar Eclipse as no one else in the world will be able to see it, in exclusive, deluxe lifestyle.
 
One life-changing event. 3 ways you can be in the right place at the right time.
(Image: Silversea)

Silversea

 
This ultra-luxury cruise line has three of its polar expedition ships sailing in Antarctic waters for the Solar Eclipse.
 
The Silver Wind sails on November 20th for 22 days from Buenos Aires, Argentina, returning to Ushuaia, Argentina. The Silver Explorer sails 13 days round trip from Ushaia on November 26th, and the Silver Cloud sails round trip from Ushaia for 11 days on November 30th.

Be on deck with fewer than 250 guests as the brilliance of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and gaze amazed as the changing light and sharpening shadows highlight Antarctica’s beauty.

The line’s onboard Expedition Staff is highly educated in everything from penguin spotting to taking the perfect glacier photo.

Silversea’s one-of-a-kind combination of exploration and ultra-luxury mean air and pre-cruise hotel, gratuities, multiple restaurants, in-suite and ship-wide wine and spirits, butler service and in-suite dining, shore excursions with guided zodiacs and parkas are included.

(Image: Silversea)

It means you’ll be enjoying small group adventures by day, the magnificent Solar Eclipse, and sharing experiences with like-minded new friends in the lap of luxury by night.
 

Atlas Ocean Voyages

 
This new cruise line’s first, luxury, small expedition ship launches in 2021. The Antarctic Solar Eclipse will be part of the World Navigator’s inaugural season. With its ‘new ship’ smell still fresh, and the very latest in environmentally friendly technology that uses less fuel and disturbs the sea floor and wildlife less than other ships, it allows guests to get closer to Nature and protect it, too.

(Rendering: Atlas Ocean Voyages)

During your 12-night voyage round-trip from Ushuaia, departing on November 28th, 2021, you and fewer than 200 guests will be treated to roundtrip airfare, gourmet dining and top beverages, butler service for all suites, enriching classes, and complimentary adventures in select destinations.

Get up close and personal with the masses of seabirds, seals, and whales of the region’s waters and shores. Long, summer days close to the South Pole give you ample time to kayak or paddleboard some of the clearest waters in the world as they reflect the ice-blue sky and glaciers back at you.

On December 4th, you’ll be sailing through icy waters, and be able to see the total solar eclipse against a backdrop of mammoth icebergs.

Ponant

 
This French cruise line’s newest ship is also the first, luxury hybrid electric polar-class vessel. Ponant is known for its refined, French design, onboard ‘art of living’ and commitment to cuisine alongside robust environmental and authentic expedition credentials.
(Image: Ponant)

Your regional flights to and from Argentina’s ‘end of the earth’ jumping off point, Ushuaia are included with your voyage as Le Commandant-Charcot departs on November 30th, 2021 on its 15-day, once-in-a-lifetime expedition sailing to the Antarctic during the total solar eclipse. 
 
Just over 250 guests will make the ‘badge of honor’ sailing from Ushuaia through the Drake Passage en route to the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea ice pack on December 4th. You’ll be able to disembark the ship onto the ice pack where, according to Ponant, “the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies”, a rare privilege enhanced by naturalist guides and on-board scientists.
 
In addition to viewing the eclipse, guests can participate in expeditions for scientific activities like water sampling and visiting research stations, explore by hovercraft, hot air balloon, and snowmobile and polar diving, and enjoy expert seminars that make their experiences even more meaningful.
(Image: Ponant)

If experiencing the Antarctic was on your bucket list, the Solar Eclipse in December of 2021 will make the trip of a lifetime truly legendary.
 
Imagine seeing the total Solar Eclipse over the pure, clear skies of the most remote continent, experiencing rare wildlife and epic scenery, and raising a glass to your life-changing journey embraced in luxury and comfort.
 

#DontMissThis

 

Top, Solar Eclipse Image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay
 
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Christmas in July On A Holiday Do-Over River Cruise
If this year’s altered holiday celebrations left you wistful and nostalgic for full-bore Christmas festivities, there’s a river cruise that gives you a chance for a re-do.

Christmas in July on the Danube comes without snow – but it does come with plenty of seasonal cheer on Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresea.

 
On two sailings in July, the Maria Theresea will have her halls decked out in full holiday splendor as she sails between Passau, Germany and Budapest, Hungary, calling in popular Christmas destinations like Vienna, Linz, and Bratislava. 
 
You’ll even have the opportunity for an excursion to magical Salzburg, the location of the iconic holiday movie The Sound of Music.
 
In addition to elegant festive trimmings, Uniworld has planned a program of events to re-live the holidays. 

 
The region’s famous Christmas markets will be re-created on board for you to stock up on the souvenirs and holiday treats. Guests can also experience Christmas cheer during gingerbread house decorating and ornament making workshops. Uniworld says holiday movies will be playing on the in-room entertainment systems, and Santa himself will make a summer trip from the North Pole to the Maria Theresea for photos that may be the best holiday card ever. And who wouldn’t get into the Christmas ‘spirit’ during a holiday cocktail class? 
 
The ship’s chefs will be crafting menus of holiday cuisine, and you’ll be toasting your brilliance at your seasonal do-over with summer versions of winter favorites, like frozen hot chocolate and chilled egg nog.
 
You’ll feel transported not just to some of the favorite ports of call on a Danube river cruise, but also back to the holidays. 
 
It’s an inspired way for families to re-live the best of the holidays in Europe, together aboard one of the most beloved river cruise ships on the Danube.

 
Uniworld’s Christmas in July sailings coincide with school holidays and also feature the cruise line’s Generations Program, with savings and exclusive activities for kids as well as dedicated Family Hosts. We assume the Family Hosts will have plenty of fun things for the kids to do so the grownups can linger during festive cocktail making classes, just for starters!
 
Family singletons may also be able to take advantage of Uniworld zero supplement offers so they can join the whole family for this European river cruise do-over of the holidays, too.
 

 

#ChristmasInJuly

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Uniworld.


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'Escape' on a Luxury Cruise This Season Without Leaving Home: Meryl Streep Stars in New Movie Filmed at Sea
We can’t travel on a luxury cruise ourselves right now– or do many of the other things we love to do around the holidays - but “Let Them All Talk” lets us take an armchair escape during the break, and imagine ourselves along for a ride on one of the most famous ships afloat.

We couldn’t ask for better company for our silver screen journey. Starring three-time Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep, Academy Award® nominee and multiple Emmy® Award winner Candice Bergen and two-time Academy Award® winner Dianne Wiest with Oscar®-nominated Lucas Hedges (“Manchester By The Sea”) and Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”), “Let Them All Talk” is directed by another famous Academy Award® alum, filmmaker Steven Soderbergh of “Ocean’s Eleven” series and “Erin Brokovich” fame.
 
Even with this host of Hollywood royalty, for a luxury cruise lover, the real ‘star’ of the film may be the Queen Mary 2. “Let Them All Talk” was filmed on board one of British luxury line Cunard’s epic ‘Three Queens’ ships on a single, actual Transatlantic crossing from New York to England last summer before COVID.



WATCH the movie trailer here.

Smart, Witty Comedy…


Meryl Streep plays a best-selling author invited to accept an award in England, but she can’t fly. Her new agent, played by Gemma Chan, persuades her to cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 as a ship’s lecturer, which will also give Streep’s character time to work on her much-anticipated new book. She insists on bringing her nephew (played by Lucas Hedges) as an assistant, and two best friends from her college days (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest), along for the cruise.


Things get complicated with competing agendas and comic twists and turns of relationships old and new. One friend hasn’t spoken to the author in years, believing her to have based the plot of her biggest best-seller on her own marriage break up, while the other, a grand-motherly free-spirit, tries to make peace between the old friends. Meanwhile, the literary agent is along on the Transatlantic crossing to find out what’s happening with the author’s next book, while the nephew struggles to juggle his author aunt’s needs with her friends’ demands – at the same time falling in love with the literary agent who’s trying to entice him into sharing what his aunt is writing.

A stellar cast like this can do no wrong – and all of this acting superpower in a witty, ‘comedy of manners’, is set against the backdrop of the legendary ship and its lifestyle.


Meets a Luxury Crossing


Most of the film takes place on board the ship. Watch for the grandness of the Queen Mary 2 when the characters arrive at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on departure day, as well such loved on board locations as the Commodore Club, Queens Grill dining room, Queens Grill suites, the library, the Royal Court Theatre, and the decks outdoors with the genuine – computer-generated! - North Atlantic seascape beyond the rail. 


Even the ‘extras’ who appear behind the main characters are genuine guests on the sailing who opted in to being part of the filming on board.

The film showcases the Cunard flagship's elegance, sophistication and style, and provides the viewer a real sense of the leisurely pace and beautiful setting of an iconic sailing and Cunard’s signature itinerary: the Transatlantic Crossing.

Sailing with the Stars

 
Meryl Streep: “There’s a lot to see and hear in this movie, and a lot that’s funny. And like midnight on the Mid-Atlantic-- just misty mysterious.”
 
Dianne Wiest: “The weather on the crossing was a wonderful thing. A day might begin with dense fog, so dense you could see nothing, neither the sea nor others. Then, the fog would lift and there would be a silver gray, the gray that filmmakers would do anything for, and then rays of sun would streak down and a brilliant blue appear and bits of light sparkling everywhere you turned.”
 
Candice Bergen: “The crossing on the Queen Mary 2 was heaven. It is a magnificent ship, beautifully maintained and elegantly designed. It was a perfect experience.”
 
Director Steven Soderbergh: “The ship looks as good on camera as it looks in person. It’s not like when you get up close and the camera has eroticized the ship. It really is that nice!”
 
Gemma Chan: “There is definitely a feeling of being away from the wider world, from city life and all its
distractions which I think you couldn't replicate in a studio. Every day had a rhythm to it that I think we all settled into - watching the sunset each evening and dolphin spotting were highlights.
 
“During the crossing, my character interacts the most with Lucas Hedges' character. It was fun to get to explore the ship and build a relationship whilst mingling with real passengers in the planetarium and, most amusingly, in the late-night disco.”
 

Perfect Timing

 
“Let Them All Talk” is being released just when we most need a reminder of what we’re missing while cruising is shut down – and a mood-booster for an altered holiday season.

HBO Max begins streaming “Let Them All Talk” on December 10th.
 

 

#WatchNowCruiseSoon

 
All Photographs by HBO Max
 
 
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2 Travel-Inspired Beverages to get you in the Holiday Spirit
You may not be celebrating the holidays as usual this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create some new holiday entertaining traditions.

While we wait to travel and celebrate again, here are two recipes for ‘spirited’ holiday drinks from favorite destinations to warm your heart and remind you of better times ahead.

Perfect for a virtual holiday cocktail party, long winter evenings binge-watching holiday movies, or trimming your tree, these recipes can be made for one or more to share.
 

Gluhwein

Warm wine makes winter better. All the iconic Christmas tastes, sights and sounds of Germany’s Christmas markets, from the fir trees and handmade toys, fires roasted nuts and sausages, are enhanced by its warm and aromatic signature drink. Warm, often spiced, wine, can be found throughout Europe, like mulled wine in England, or vin chaud in France.

Gluhwein is Germany’s version. While the combination of citrus, fruit juices, spices – and even color of wine! – varies, one thing stays the same. Gluhwein translates roughly to ‘glowing wine’, referring to the red hot irons from the fires that were originally stuck into the wine to heat it up. That should give you a sense of the long history of Gluhwein. There’s a gold-plated Gluhwein tankard dating from the early 1400’s that’s attributed to the German aristocrat who was the first grower of Riesling grapes.

Cologne Christmas Market, Germany © GNTB/Wojciech Grabowski

Although most gluhweins you’ll see at Christmas markets in Germany involve red wine, this recipe, from AmaWaterways, uses regional white wines you’ll get to try on one of the river cruise line’s Danube or Rhine cruises during the summer or during a magical Christmas market cruise.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups of white wine (Silvaner or Müller-Thurgau)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup Franconian plum brandy (optional but recommended, as a little of the alcohol cooks out of the wine)
  • 4 slices of orange
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 5 allspice seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 1 tsp. honey (if you prefer it sweeter, add a bit more)
  • Extra slices of fruit for garnish, if desired
Preparation
  1. In a medium-sized stock pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine all of the ingredients, except for the honey. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer, keeping the lid on, for 10 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil again; if it boils too long all of the alcohol will be cooked out.
  3. After 10 minutes, immediately remove from the heat. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve; discard the aromatics. Return the mixture to the pot and taste-test. Stir in honey, tasting as you go until you reach your desired sweetness.
  4. Ladle into desired serving glasses. Garnish with sliced fruit, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or star anise pods, if desired. Serve immediately.
 
Pair your Gluhwein with authentic German standards like hot sausages and pretzels, or seasonal festive sweets like stollen, fruit bread; gingerbread or lebkuchen; and glorious marzipan. 
 

Rompope

The clue to this festive Costa Rican drink is also in its name. But it’s not like a rum punch found in the Caribbean. Rompope is Costa Rica’s answer to British egg nog or Dutch advocaat, composed of egg yolk, milk, sugar, cinammon and rum. Unlike egg nog, it’s cooked like a hot, boozy custard. Variations made with coconut milk, coffee, almonds or other nuts are popular in other parts of Latin America.

Rompope’s roots are believed to be Spanish colonial, with stories told of Spanish nuns making the New World’s first batches. Today, families often make two bottles ahead of celebrations, a grown-up version with the rum, and a non-alcoholic version for the younger members of the family. The kids’ version is also used for making cookies, cakes, ice cream and jellies. And the adult rompope can be strong; the rum is added at the end so the alcohol doesn’t cook off.

Courtesy Visit Costa Rica

It’s the sweet and strong traditional beverage of Christmas gatherings. And Visit Costa Rica has sent this rompope recipe for us to share in its celebration of the joys of the season.

Ingredients (4 servings)
•           4 cups milk
•           1 cups sugar
•           2 cinnamon sticks
•           6 egg yolks
•           1 Tbsp. cornstarch
•           Rum to taste
•           Nutmeg to taste

Preparation
Place 3 cups of milk, the sugar and cinnamon in a pot. Heat. Apart, dissolve the cornstarch and the egg yolks in the rest of the milk and add to the pot. Cook over low heat for several minutes. Cool and add rum to taste. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon before serving.
 

#HolidayCheers


#SipNowTravelSoon


Top Image: Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright German National Tourism Board/ Jens Wegener
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How This New American River Cruise Ship May Surprise You
When you think of ships that cruise American rivers, you might picture paddlewheels, riverboat gamblers, and ladies with parasols.

But while some cruise ships exploring the United States by river pay homage to 19th-century American history, American river cruising doesn’t have to be an escape into a Mark Twain novel.

When American Cruise Lines launched its latest river cruise ship, the American Melody, this month, it became the 4th – and the second ship for the cruise line during COVID – in its acclaimed ‘Modern Series’.

No paddlewheels here. Instead, the kind of clean lines and contemporary elegance you might associate with upscale cruise ships anywhere in the world.


The American Melody and her sister ships feature 5 decks of eye-catching architectural details like a grand, multi-story glass atrium at the center of the ship, a patented opening bow and retractable gangway, elevator access to all decks for accessibility and ease, and sweeping expanses of glass throughout with unparalleled panoramic views both inside and out.


175 guests enjoy 100% private balcony, extremely spacious accommodations. And you’ll spend daytimes between a casual outdoor café; a signature Grand Dining Room with river views from every table; numerous spacious sky-lit lounges; several open-air & shaded sundecks; Library; Chart Room; Game Room; Fitness Room & Yoga-Wellness Studio.


American Melody and her sister ships redefine American river cruising from a design and architecture point of view. The American Melody, and sister ship American Jazz (its predecessor that was completed in 2020 but delayed its cruising launch due to the pandemic) provide a fresh, modern experience as they cruise the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers beginning in the summer of 2021.


The Modern Series joins the historic-style paddlewheelers and coastal ships in American Cruise Line’s fleet, and continues the same traditions of world-class gastronomic offerings that include local ingredients and regional cuisine, personalized service inclusive of daily pre-dinner cocktails, wine and beer with meals, itineraries with complimentary shore excursions, and daily entertainment that includes music, local culture, history and nature experts.

This modern twist on American river cruising is soon to become a common sight on America’s rivers, with a 5th American Cruise Line modern ship due in 2022, and 1 or 2 more each year in a rapid-expansion plan to meet a growing demand to rediscover America by water.

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images courtesy American Cruise Lines
Top Image: American Melody being launched into the Wicomico River at Chesapeake Shipbuilding, Salisbury, MD


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There's a New Moon on the Horizon - a Silver Moon
October was an extraordinary month for stargazers and amateur astronomers. One single month saw two full moons: a Harvest moon and a rare, second full moon – a blue moon.

But one other moon appeared in October too – Silversea’s Silver Moon. 

Sister ship to the ultra-luxury cruise line’s Silver Muse, it’s the 9th vessel for Silversea, and its second new ship to overcome the unprecedented challenges of 2020 to launch this year.

Over 1,000 craftspeople labored in Italy to bring the Silver Moon to life. The 600-guest ship follows in the lines of her sister ship the Silver Muse, celebrating small-ship intimacy and understated, modern Italian luxury that’s loved by sophisticated North American guests.


Expanding the Indoors Outdoors, and Re-imagining Favorite Public Spaces


The Silver Moon builds on the successes of the Muse in her public spaces, in many cases incorporating new outdoor spaces to maximize guests’ true maritime experience.

·     Guest-favorite indoor gathering space, Dolce Vita, (above) has an updated layout – with the bar repositioned to the center of the space and focal point of shipboard social life: a sophisticated bar by day and atmospheric piano bar in the evenings.
 
·     Silversea’s signature restaurant and salute to classic French cuisine, La Dame has been enlarged on the Silver Moon and enriched with custom-designed Lalique crystal panels, as well as an option for lovers of fine dining to indulge outdoors in the sea air.
 
·     Kaiseki, where guests enjoy the spectacle of expert sushi chefs in action preparing delectable, seasonally-inspired Japanese and Asian cuisine, has elevated, while still minimalist design on the Moon.
 
·     Those who enjoy a cigar and a snifter will find a new Wintergarden area in Connoisseur’s Corner that extends the sophisticated club atmosphere into a sheltered and inviting outdoor space.


Suite Life – Silversea Style


Spacious all-suite, all-butler-serviced accommodations are hallmarks of the Silversea experience. Soothing luxe décor, materials and amenities embrace guests in comfort, and dedicated butlers, stocked in-suite bar, 24-hour in-suite dining make your suite on the Silver Moon feel even better than home.
 

S.A.L.T. Program: Immersive Culinary Enrichment

 
One tremendous innovation in the Silversea cruising lifestyle is debuting aboard Silver Moon. The line’s new culinary enrichment programme S.A.L.T. is an acronym of ‘Sea and Land Taste’, and it gives guests the opportunity to explore a range of destination-focused gastronomic experiences—both on-board and ashore.
 
Three new venues form a hub of culinary discovery on Deck 4 of the Silver Moon as part of the S.A.L.T. program:
 
S.A.L.T. Kitchen is among the largest of eight restaurants aboard Silver Moon. It’s the first large-scale regional restaurant aboard a luxury cruise ship, offering a menu that changes with the destination and a regionally inspired wine list;
S.A.L.T. Lab is a test kitchen where guests learn about local ingredients and artisanal techniques, through insightful workshops, tastings, and demonstrations; and
S.A.L.T. Bar allows guests to sample the most authentic flavours of the destination, through a large selection of regional wines, spirits, and other drinks.

 
Silversea’s newest of its Muse-class ships is both the pinnacle of advances in luxury cruise travel in the 21st century and a symbol of the resilience of the hard-hit cruise industry.
 
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images courtesy Silversea

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The Latest Cruise Line To Go 'All-Inclusive'
Nothing is more luxurious than when things are extra simple and extra special. Now you can have that wonderful feeling that ‘everything is taken care of’ on your next big-ship cruise.
 
Celebrity Cruises has unveiled a new ‘Always Included’ program. Instead of differing promotions and packages, the cruise line is including unlimited drinks, unlimited wi-fi and even daily tips on all new bookings except its Galapagos itineraries.

This new, all-inclusive approach is making waves in cruising.

Travelers have gotten used to all inclusive beach resorts. But in cruising, ‘all inclusive’ has only been found at the very top end of ultra luxury lines with small and mid-sized ships. Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal Cruises, Scenic, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Atlas Ocean Voyages launching in 2021, are among those ultra-luxury cruise lines that include wine and spirits, gratuities, internet, and in some cases, specialty restaurants, butler service, even flights and shore excursions.

With ‘Always Included’, Celebrity Cruises is knocking on the door of that exclusive club.

In Celebrity’s case, there are additional variations in the all-inclusive experience on the line. ‘Always Included’ is the base level of all-inclusive lifestyle. The ‘Elevate’ package expands to include unlimited premium drinks and adds some shore excursions, while the ‘Indulge’ package tops up ‘Elevate’ even further with unlimited streaming Wi-Fi, as well as onboard spending money. And all guests in the ‘Retreat’ ‘luxury ship within a ship’, all-suite area with private restaurant, lounge, and sundeck, automatically receive ‘Indulge’ level of all-inclusive amenities.

It’s part of Celebrity’s mission to redefine ‘modern luxury’ cruising lifestyle on a big ship level. And it coincides with the launch of the second of its new, 3000-guest ‘Edge’ class of ships. 

The brand-new Celebrity Apex has just arrived in Florida, joining its sister ship the Celebrity Edge. Both are easily recognizable with their distinctive, phenomenal ‘Magic Carpet’ (pictured, top), a cantilevered, bright-orange venue suspended off the side of the ship that travels up and down to different decks, acting as a lounge, restaurant, or even tender embarkation center.

Focus on leading-edge, contemporary design, an upscale, on-trend resort atmosphere and lifestyle that’s now all-inclusive… all combine into Celebrity Cruises’ version of ‘New Luxury’.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Image courtesy Celebrity Cruises.

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The Caribbean Gets a New Princess, and She's Enchanted

She’s sailing now en route to the U.S. for an inaugural season cruising Caribbean itineraries.

Princess Cruises’ newly completed Enchanted Princess is a beacon for a return to cruising; one of just a tiny number of ships scheduled to begin service this year that is actually on the water.


Home to over 3600 guests, Enchanted Princess is the 5th Royal class Princess Cruises ship.
Enchanted Princess represents an evolution of the design used for her Royal Class sister ships, even as the ship continues their contemporary flair and style. 
 
With the launch of the new ship, the cruise line has taken the opportunity to introduce new attractions all her own. Guests on the Enchanted Princess will experience delectable, one-of-a-kind dining experiences, the most pools and whirlpool hot tubs ever, world-class entertainment venues and the breathtaking Sky Suites, offering expansive views from the largest balconies at sea.
 

Signature Dining

5 specialty restaurants from gastropub to the culinary styling’s of a Michelin starred chef – plus the ultimate treat: balcony dining – give guests options for every meal of every day.
That’s on top of a host included dining, from the line’s signature partnership with celebrity Chef Curtis Stone’s cuisine in the Main Dining Room, to casual, 24-hour dining for every appetite.
 

A First for Entertainment at Sea

In addition to Broadway Caliber production shows, the antics of Jim Henson’s muppets for the kids and entertainment for every interest in between, Enchanted Princess features Take Five, the only jazz theater at sea, celebrating the iconic sounds, culture and history of jazz.

Sky Suites

First introduced on Sky Princess and now Enchanted Princess, the new luxury Sky Suites ‘crown’ the heights of the ship. These new signature suites host up to 5 guests, who enjoy inclusive amenities, attentive service and a dedicated Suite Experience Manager – not to mention what Princess is calling ‘The Largest Balcony at Sea.’ The furnished outdoor space – even an outdoor fridge and TV along with loungers, day beds, and dining furniture - blurs the distinction between indoor and outdoor living. Guests can even host their own celebrations or catered events on these expansive balconies, as well as have the unique experience of private seating for Princess’ ‘Movies Under the Stars’.
 

MedallionClass Cruising

The new Enchanted Princess joins the fleet of the cruise line’s high-tech ‘MedallionClass’ vessels. The OceanMedallion is an included, wearable device for guests. It enables touchless interactive experiences and entertainment, plus enhancements to your cruising experience like expedited boarding, on-demand food, beverage, retail and service delivery, keyless stateroom entry, contactless payment, handy friends and family locator, and movies/live TV on the go.  
 
Medallion technology empowers guests on the Enchanted Princess to enjoy an effortless, personalized vacation with less time on planning and logistics, and more time connecting to their loved ones and experiencing the things they love most on the newest ship in the Caribbean.

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images/ Renderings courtesy Princess Cruises
 
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