Category: Editorial

Are You a Cruiser? Ten Questions to Ask

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 1354 0

A floating hotel has something for everyone. Don’t believe it? Just consider these ten questions.

Cruising. Perhaps you long ago slammed this particular porthole shut, with vague ideas about buffets, crowds, and tired cabaret shows. But lately you’ve been hearing friends rave about their recent cruises, and you’re getting curious.

Whether you’re interested in glacier trekking or pool lounging, exploring secluded islands or city streets, spending days on vineyard tours or in spas – if you can name it, there’s a ship for it. And the best parts of cruising remain the same, regardless of sailing style or destination: You only need to unpack once, and the views are ever-changing.

Not quite convinced? The following questions will help you determine whether you should set sail. (The answer is yes.)

1 – Are You a Foodie?

Top chefs have expanded their empires to include the world’s waterways, and new ingredients await discovery in each port. Here’s a taste of what’s on board.

Wine lovers will savor Uniworld’s eight-day Bordeaux vineyard cruise aboard the 130-passenger River Royale, with cellar tastings in Saint-Émilion, a Sauternes-paired lunch, visits to farmers’ markets in Libourne, and bicycle rides through the back streets of Bordeaux.

Crystal Cruises’ annual Food & Wine Festival sailings feature guest chefs and sommeliers, cooking classes, and more. A roundtrip Los Angeles journey aboard the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity takes in the flavors of Mexico with stops in La Paz, Ensenada, and Mazatlán.

 

2 – Do You Want to See It All?

Sailings that encompass vast regions and whole seasons can write your life’s next chapter.

Spend nearly five months aboard Silversea’s 382-passenger Silver Whisper. In 2019, the line’s 132-day world cruise takes in 31 countries and 52 ports. From snorkeling on Moorea to sampling wonton soup in Hong Kong and strolling San Sebastián, Spain’s historic Old Town, this is one trip that truly earns the moniker “voyage.” (Have less time? Select one of its roughly two-week routes that’s right for you.)

Also for 2019, Crystal Cruises’ 85-day journey on the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity will visit more than 15 countries. Explore the natural wonders of Australia and Africa, isles of the South Pacific, and top cities such as Sydney and Barcelona.

 

3 – Do You Prefer to Venture Off the Beaten Path?

Set sail to ports at the edges of civilization, and cruise rivers deep within Land Rover country.

Game-spot from the comfort of your stateroom during four days with AmaWaterways aboard the 28-passenger Zambezi Queen, as you navigate Botswana’s Chobe National Park.

 

4 – Are You a Night Owl?

Stay up late for chic theme parties, people-watching, and fun shows.

Azamara Club Cruises throws a White Night Party on its sailings, transforming outdoor decks into glamorous dancing and dining venues.

 

5 – Do You Like to Spread Out?

The most lavish and lovely accommodations come with endless blue views.

Cunard’s five Duplex and Grand Duplex suites on the 2,961-passenger Queen Mary 2, on two levels joined by a sweeping staircase, feature two master baths and a private gym. To go all out, combine all five into one 9,000-square-foot mansion.

 

6 – Do You Like the Great Outdoors?

Natural encounters let you heed the call of the wild.

Join wildlife icon Jean-Michel Cousteau aboard an Aqua Expeditions vessel on the Amazon and Mekong rivers. Take guided kayak tours along quiet jungle routes to talk conservation and ecosystems, and enjoy relaxed onboard chats about Cousteau’s top photo and videography tips.

 

7 – Is Vacation Actually a Perfect Time to Get Healthy?

Superior spas, mindfulness, and wellness menus for self-care at sea.

Seabourn’s Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil program takes health at sea to a new level. Meditation and yoga programs address physical, social, and spiritual well-being; seminars cover topics such as anti-inflammatory foods, healthy aging, and mindfulness. Dr. Weil himself joins some sailings each year.

 

8 – Are You Seeking Cultural Immersion?

See destinations through the eyes of locals and respected experts

Explore Madeira’s capital of Funchal on an exclusive Virtuoso Voyages excursion on board Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-passenger Riviera during a round-trip Barcelona sailing. Ride a cable car to the hilltop village of Monte, where you can take in the churches and palaces before trying out the carros de cesto, wicker toboggans that zoom you down the hill to Livramento. You’ll also visit a wine cellar to savor the nuances of the island’s famous sweet elixir, and relax over a wine-pairing lunch at Belmond Reid’s Palace hotel.

Sail French Polynesia with Paul Gauguin Cruises to delve beyond its beautiful shores. Onboard hosts include an archaeologist who specializes in the ancient ceremonial structures of the Marquesas and an art historian with no fewer than seven books published on the cruise line’s namesake.

 

9 – Are You a Thrill Seeker?

Sky-high adventures via new technologies and old-fashioned daredevilry.

Star Clippers’ 227-passenger Royal Clipper is still the world’s only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship – and you can climb one of those masts, with a provided safety harness, of course, to take in the views over the vessel’s 42 billowing white sails.

 

10 – Do You Appreciate the Finer Things in Life?

From white-tie evenings to well-dressed breakfasts in bed.

Renowned for its commitment to the golden age of cruising, Cunard’s 2,961-passenger Queen Mary 2 has a formal dress code in the main dining venues – which most guests are eager to embrace. Each sailing typically features three formal nights, such as a masquerade ball or Roaring Twenties–style dance.

On Silversea’s ships, each cabin has dedicated butlers who are trained through the Guild of Professional English Butlers.

 

 

 

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Virtuoso Traveler. 

Galapagos Turtles

When to explore the Galapagos Islands

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 1066 0

So, you’ve chosen the next destination to cross off that ever growing Bucket List – The Galapagos!  The Galapagos Islands are considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing and each of the islands is as diverse as the wildlife you will find there.

You may have decided on the Galapagos with hopes of seeing the hatching of the giant tortoise’s eggs, or you want to be able to boast that you snorkeled with the penguins or were able to observe the awesome display of the blue-footed boobies beginning their courtship rituals. These all happen at different times of the year, with this in mind Celebrity Cruises has developed their Galapagos Wildlife Calendar to make sure you don’t miss out on the wildlife experience you’ve dreamed of.
January
• Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain
• On Hood (Española) Island adult marine iguanas become brightly colored (green & red + black)
• The green sea turtles arrive to beaches in the Galapagos for egg laying period
• Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles on Isabela Island
• Both, water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June
• Ideal time for snorkeling

February
• On Floreana Island greater flamingos start nesting
• Bahama pintail ducks (Black-tailed pintail) start their breeding season
• Nazca (masked) boobies on Hood are at the end of their nesting season
• Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island
• Nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak

March
• Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina
• March 21st, the beginning of the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española.
• Even the western islands have warm waters where snorkeling is excellent. Penguins still active in the water,
next to tropical fish! (How bizarre!)
• Marine life is very active.

April
• Massive arrival of waved albatrosses to Española. Amazing courtship starts.
• End of hatching season of the giant tortoises
• Eggs of green sea turtles begin to hatch
• Eggs of land iguanas hatch on Isabela
• Good visibility in the water for snorkelers

May
• North Seymour’s blue-footed boobies begin their courtship
• Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant, and Puerto Egas
• Most of marine iguanas’ eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz
• Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage
• Waved albatross on Española start laying their eggs
• Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period

June
• Beginning of the garúa season
• Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island migrate from the highlands to the lowlands in search of suitable nesting places
• Beginning of the nesting season of giant tortoises
• Many red pouches by males of Magnificent Frigatebirds on North Seymour.
• Southern migrants have started their journey towards the north. Galapagos is a rest stop for such birds.  Some species of cetaceans also follow this pattern of migration.
• Some groups of Humpback whales that migrate up to equatorial latitudes along the coast of Ecuador, can reach the Galapagos too.

July
• Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), specially the Blue footed boobies on Española.
• Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina.
• Along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island) you could find American oystercatchers nesting.
• Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November
• Whales & dolphins are more likely to be observed, especially off the western coast of Isabela
• Great month to see the four stages of nesting in Blue footed boobies: eggs, chicks, juveniles & subadults.

August
• Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago
• Nazca (masked) boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island
• Migrant shore birds start to arrive, and stay on the islands until March
• Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz
• Pupping season (births) of sea lions has started. Western and central islands are common places for such sightings.

September
• Galapagos Penguins show remarkable activity on Bartolome.
• Since May swimmers and snorkelers can be delighted at Bartolome with penguins active at the surface or
torpedo-like while underwater.
• Sea lions are very active. Females have reached estrus stage, and so harem-gathering males are constantly barking
and fighting. Shore fighting is heavy. Western and central islands are the most active ones in terms of sea lions’ activities.
• Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites.

October
• Lava herons start nesting until March
• The Galapagos Fur Seals (subspecies of Sea lions) begin their mating period
• Blue footed boobies raise chicks all over Española and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)
• Giant tortoises are still laying eggs
• Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful after the garúa covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes.

November
• Pupping of sea lions continue.
• Sea lions are sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago.
• Breeding season for the brown noddies
• Some species of jellyfish can be seen around the islands.
• Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period
• Sea lion pups (specially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkelers. Most pups here are curious
enough to nibble at fins of snorkelers. The average age of most pups is 3-4 months.

December
• Hatching of giant tortoise’s eggs begins and lasts until April
• Green sea turtles display their mating behavior
• The first young waved albatrosses fledge

How to up your Instagram game

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 768 0

With today’s technology, gone are the days of snapping pictures of your trip, waiting with anticipation as your film is developed and then having friends & family over to view your slideshow or photo album. Today you can instantly share your vacation experience via social media.

Royal Caribbean is about to make it even easier for you to share moments from your vacation. They have proclaimed that their newest ship, Symphony of the Seas is the world’s most Instagrammable ship.  Royal Caribbean even has hired an Instagramer-in-Chief, Russ Francis.  Russ’s job is to help adventure-seekers at sea up their photo game and create truly enviable Instagram shots.

But how? Here are Top Instagram Tips from Russ Francis:

Take photos in a square frame – Instagram images appear as a square, so take your Instagram snaps in a square frame. This way, all of your picture will appear in the upload, and you won’t need to crop or zoom to ensure everything fits in.

Strong colours, shapes, lines and good lighting – To help your Instagram shot have the WOW factor; make sure it has strong colours and defined shapes and lines. If you’re struggling to make the lighting work and are flexible about timings then return to your shot at the ‘Golden Hour’, the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset, to capture something really shareable.

Use negative space – Negative space means the physical space that surrounds your image subject. Instagram photos that have the right mix of negative space and a tangible object can really stand out.

Reflections – Reflections are a quick and easy way to get an interesting and unusual effect on your Instagram picture. Water, mirrors and glass are three great surfaces to get you started

Use gridlines to balance your shot – Improve snaps by taking the photo outside of the Instagram app and using your phone’s gridlines function. Apply the ‘rule of thirds’ and ensure that compositional elements are placed along the nine lines and their intersections of the grid. Pros claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest than simply centering the subject.

Show some personality – Layering on words and stickers to an Instagram Story can add some fun and individuality to your extraordinary shots that usually encourages greater levels of engagement.

Use a great caption – These days, it isn’t just about the picture or videos. Captions play a big role in how many likes you get and how people engage with your Instagram content. Use emotive descriptions and humour to connect with your followers.

 
For more Instagram inspiration, Royal Caribbean’s Instagrammer-in-Chief can be found @russ_francis.

Group of Cruisers

Share your #cruiselove

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 3013 0

Do you love cruising? We want you to share your #cruiselove with us and tell us why you love cruising. Share an experience and spread the #cruiselove

Where have you been? Share a review of a recent cruise you have been on. We want to know all about your cruise. 

Never cruised? We want to share with you all the reasons why cruising is the best vacation you will take. Read our stories and reviews plus find special offers and hot deals to help you plan from start to finish.

Even if you are not planning a cruise right now check back with us and keep up to date on your favourite cruise line, what’s new, what is coming or read our customer and cruise specialist reviews – these are added weekly!

Our team of cruise specialists are well versed in everything cruise. When is the best time to travel to, which ship and cruise line fit your needs, who offers you the best value.

 

Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook!

Packing for an Alaska Cruise or Land+Sea Journey with Holland America

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 1352 0

The experts at Holland America Line, the largest and most experienced Alaska travel company, have some tips on packing when you’re headed north on a cruise or CruiseTour.

 

SOUTHEAST ALASKA
On an Inside Passage cruise you will be traveling along the protected waterways of Southeast Alaska, also known as “the Panhandle.” The weather here is temperate, with summertime highs usually between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, climbing occasionally into the 70s and 80s.

 

NORTH ALASKA AND THE ARCTIC
If you venture farther North you will find the climate to be drier. Summer temperatures in Fairbanks and other parts of the Interior often reach 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the Arctic, for those traveling to Prudhoe Bay or Nome and Kotzebue, temperatures are cooler, in the 40s and 50s.

 

GENERAL PACKING
Alaska is casual, but be prepared to dress for dinners. The best approach is to bring clothes that can be layered; more layers for cooler, windier weather, fewer layers for warm, dry days. Be sure to also bring:

• A lightweight, waterproof coat or jacket, as well as a sweater or warm vest for strolling the decks of the ship and for glacier viewing
• A warm hat and gloves
• Women may want to bring two or three pairs of washable slacks or jeans (combined with polo shirts, blouses or light sweaters and accessorized with a belt, scarf or jewelry this basic outfit can be worn just about anywhere. Depending on weather, add a blazer, cardigan or windbreaker jacket)
• Men may want to add an extra pair of slacks, but they’ll find that the same basic dress theme works for them too (there is no place in Alaska a man cannot go in a sport coat and slacks. Also, a dark suit is appropriate for dinner on board ship)
• Sturdy, leather walking shoes for every day use (two pairs are suggested), to stand up to rain if necessary, and a pair with a good arch support
• One or two pairs of dress shoes to accompany your dinner outfit

 

DINNER DRESS
Evening dress falls into two distinct categories; Formal or Smart Casual. Smart Casual can be defined as slacks and sports shirt or sweater for men and skirt or trousers and sweater or blouse for women. T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are not allowed in the restaurants or public areas during the evening hours. On festive Formal evenings, ladies usually wear a cocktail dress or gown and gentlemen usually wear a suit
and tie or tuxedo. There are approximately two formal nights per week.
EXERCISE CLOTHES
If you’re a fitness fan or just like to stroll around the decks be sure to pack your exercise clothes. There are aerobics classes on the ships, treadmills, exercise bikes and other equipment in the fitness center on board each ship. The free Passport to Fitness program has the added fun of a reward at the end of the cruise for participating in onboard activities. Be sure to bring your running or aerobics shoes, swimsuit and a cover-up
(for lounging, if not for warming up.)

 

ITEMS YOU PROBABLY WON’T NEED
• Bulky or winter-weight sweaters or jackets
• Rain boots and long underwear (outfitters in Alaska provide special gear needed for their activities, such as warm “moon boots” for walking on glaciers, waterproof rainwear, boots and life vests for river rafting or sea kayaking)

 

DON’T FORGET TO TAKE
• Be sure to take toiletries and prescriptions for both medication and eye glasses to aid in replacement in the unlikely event they become misplaced
• A travel alarm clock (although wake-up calls are offered on all Holland America Line cruises and at most hotels and inns)
• Binoculars if you enjoy bird watching or would like a closer look at wildlife and glaciers
• Your camera film is available just about everywhere you will visit

 

LAUNDRY SERVICE
Holland America Line offers laundry service, dry cleaning and pressing service on all ships.
• There are self-serve laundry rooms complete with ironing boards and irons (laundry soap is available for purchase) on all ships but the Vista Class ms Oosterdam, ms Westerdam, ms Noordam and ms Zuiderdam
• Self-service laundry facilities are also available at many of the hotels at which Land-Sea Journey passengers stay

 

 

 

c/o Holland America Line