Category: River Cruising

Recipe: Traditional Hungarian Goulash

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 280 0

Though many variations of Goulash exist, AmaWaterways is sharing this traditional, authentic recipe from the very heart of Hungary.

A Dish with Humble Beginnings

This classic Hungarian dish harkens back to cool fall nights in Hungarian fields. Imagine the herdsmen of Hungary’s history gathering to stir and savor Hungarian Goulash as it cooked over an open fire, the cold air nipping at their noses but a warm and tasty meal to keep them comfortable. Made with the freshest ingredients the Hungarian countryside can provide, this style goulash has been a cultural favorite for centuries. Everyone from shepherds to nobles fought off the fall chill with a bowl a goulash, but the dish owes its name to herdsmen, or “gulyás” in Hungarian, that first filled their cauldrons with the stewy combination of meat, spices, and wild vegetables.

Hungarian Culinary Culture

Hungarian Goulash is unique for its use of the spice that sets the country’s cuisine apart from the crowd – paprika. Considered the national spice by many, paprika was introduced to Hungary by the Turks around the 16th century. Since then, pinches of the rich, sweet, peppery powder have defined not just Hungarian Goulash but an entire culinary culture in which an abundance of paprika can be found in kitchens, gardens, and restaurants throughout the country.

While in Budapest, experience a true taste of Central Europe. It is a treat for the taste buds as much as the senses.

Ingredients

2 onions, sliced
½ cup¬corn oil
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lbs. boneless chuck roast, cut into bite size pieces
2 tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
2 cups hot water
2 tsp. salt
3 bay leaves

OPTIONAL: Potatoes, chopped fresh parsley

Preparation Method

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet; add the onions and sauté lightly. Add the garlic and continue to sauté. Next add the meat, stir well with the other ingredients, and season with salt. Cover and let cook gently until meat browns. Add the sweet paprika, caraway seeds and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until meat has picked up the flavor of the seasonings. Adjust heat so that the goulash simmers very gently and let it cook for approximately one hour, or until meat is fork tender. Serve over buttered noodles or rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Pho Bo

Recipe: Vietnamese Pho Bo

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 961 0

Pho Bo is a National dish with international influence easy enough to make all on your own.

A hearty noodle dish perfect for warming away shivers on a winter’s day, yet somehow refreshing enough to enjoy in summer, pho bo is the epitome of Vietnamese comfort food. Found on almost every street corner and simmered in nearly every home, its complex flavors vary from cook to cook but its pleasant blend of herbs, spices and unique textures never disappoints.

From Pot Au Feu to Pho Bo

Pho bo may be Vietnam’s widely popular national dish, but if the French hadn’t colonized the country in the late 19th century, it may never have come into existence! You see, before the French arrived, the Vietnamese did not use cattle as food. Cows were merely beasts of burden. However, the French were accustomed to using beef in their recipes. It is even said that the dish’s name, “pho,” may have been derived from the French word for fire, “feu,” as in pot au feu, leading many to believe the noodle dish is a Vietnamese adaptation of this similarly cooked French stew.

The Vietnamese Lo Mein

Noodles, ginger and anise may also have been introduced by the Chinese. Considered the Vietnamese answer to “lo mein,” the Vietnamese created pho bo with similar noodles and a combination of aromatic flavors that has delighted people across the world ever since.

Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or making a week’s worth of lunches, pho bo is a simply prepared dish worth the simmering time for maximum flavor.

Ingredients

2 lbs. 3 oz. Beef Bones
10½ Cup Water/beef stock (about 2 ½ cartons stock)
4 tsp. Fish Sauce
3 tsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Salt
6 TBS and 2 tsp. Garlic
6 TBS and 2 tsp. Ginger
5 pcs Star Anise
2 pcs Cinnamon Sticks (broken into pieces)
1/3 Cup and 4¼ tsp. Onion
1/3 Cup and 4¼ tsp. Carrot
1/2 lb. raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)

Preparation Method

Sauté the carrots and onion with the star anise, ginger, cinnamon and garlic. Caramelize nicely until golden brown, then add the water/beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Leave to cool, then strain off the stock. Add fish sauce, sugar and salt. Correct the seasoning to taste. Makes approximately 6 servings.

Condiments and Garnish for Soup

Thick Rice Noodles (Cooked)
Bean Sprouts
Long Leaves (Vietnamese Mint, Perilla Leaves)
Lime
Red Chili Finely Chopped
Lettuce (Iceberg)
Sweet Basil/Hot Basil
Lemongrass
Sliced Onion

Preparation Method with Beef

Mix all ingredients into the soup and stir together. Divide noodles among 6 serving bowls and top with sirloin. Pour hot broth over the top. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes until the beef is partially cooked and no longer pink, and the flavors are infused. Serve with bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, hoisin sauce, and chili -garlic sauce on the side.

Danube Christmas Markets Cruise

Posted By : cruising/ 0 0

My niece and I were so excited to take our first ever cruise and to go on a river cruise was a great way to experience Europe in a way we never thought we would.  Especially during the holiday season and visiting the Christmas Markets.

We flew from Toronto to Budapest (with KLM) with a connection in Amsterdam.  On the way home we flew from Nuremberg to Toronto (with KLM) also with a connection in Amsterdam.  Surprisingly there were quite a few storms within Europe so we were glad we decided to fly a day earlier since you never know what could happen!

HOTEL

We spent one night at the Hilton Budapest City, which is centrally located, close to the train station, restaurants and shops as well as above West End City Centre Shopping Centre.

The rooms are large and clean.  All rooms, the lounge and restaurants have complimentary WiFi.  Modern fitness facility available.  Upon check in we purchased a package that included buffet breakfast.  Buffet had a wide selection of items i.e. cereal, croissants, Danishes, sausages, cold cuts and fruits.  Coffee, tea and juices readily available.

Front desk and hotel staff were friendly and efficient and they all spoke English.

The cab ride from the airport to the hotel took about 35 mins and cost approximately EUR40.  The cab ride from the hotel to the dock was approximately 15 mins drive cost EUR25.

CRUISE 
Finally the day arrived and we travel by cab to the dock to board AMA Serena which will be our home for the next 8 days!

The AMA Serena is a beautiful vessel and is a glow with decorations to celebrate the Christmas season.  From the minute we stepped on board we were greeted by the extremely friendly staff and crew.  We were given a glass of champagne and warm towels and were seated comfortably waiting to be checked in.  Everything went very smoothly.  There is no line up or waiting at the registration desk.  I strongly believe all check in procedures should be like this!

As a part of the check in procedure we each had a photo taken which is attached on their reservation/registration system to our room key fob.  Security and safety is key so whenever you are leaving the ship for any reason (i.e. Shore excursions) you must have your key fob scanned.  This helps the crew to know who is on board the ship at any given time (no one gets left behind! J).

There are 4 decks – the Sun deck with the heated pool, walking track, navigation bridge, bicycles, sun deck and lower sun deck, the Violin deck which has the reception, main lounge and piano bar and gift shop, 32 staterooms which includes 3 suites, the massage and hair salon, the Chef’s Table Restaurant, Fitness room, the Cello Deck with 33 staterooms, elevator down to the main dining room and the Piano Deck (our deck for our voyage) with 16 suites.

Each Stateroom had twin beds (in most cases) an en-suite bathroom, flat screen TV and keyboard (featuring various news and movie channels as well as a ship safety channel), 2 wardrobes, safe, telephone, coffee table and 2 chairs, 2 robes, hairdryer, a 110V socket as well a few more 220V sockets, and a bar fridge which is stocked with water (replenished daily).  Although the beds were small they were very comfortable. Staterooms on the Violin and Cello decks have French balconies.

Staterooms on the Piano deck (our deck for the trip) do not have French balcony but have porthole windows.

All decks are easily accessible. There is an elevator which runs from the Violin to Cello deck as well as to the Main dining room.

In the lounge you will find a bar with a piano and very comfortable couches, chairs and coffee tables throughout.  Most of us loved sitting in the lounge to mingle, read a book, while having a few drinks and looking out at the beautiful scenery.  All entertainment on board takes place in the lounge.  In the lounge daily there is a light lunch at 12 noon should you not want to eat in the dining room, tea time with tea, coffee and cakes between 4 and 5pm and at 10:30pm a light snack.

Off of the lounge there is a small library with daily news from the US and Canada depending on the guests nationality.  There were 4 Canadians (including us) and of course 2 Jamaicans (my niece and I) but no Jamaican news?!?!? J

There is also a 24 hour hot beverage area with seating off of the lounge and across from the gift shop.  Here you are able to sit and have coffee, an assortment of teas, hot chocolate, lattes, cappuccinos etc. or make a hot drink and take it to the lounge.

Whether you are seated in the lounge, library or the hot beverage area, you are able to see the various cities while cruising.

The entertainment on board consisted mostly of our pianist – Peter who was also a very good singer, or depending on the city we are visiting we had various entertainers i.e. an acapella group from Regensburg.

All meals and dessert on board were exquisite.  Breakfast and lunch were usually buffet style however you were able to order off of a menu.

The crew were very helpful and accommodating and by the 2nd day they knew each guests likes and dislikes.    They had very long hours but you would never know that they were tired as they were always full of energy and with a genuine smile.

I do feel that Riverboat cruising is quite suitable for a small group but during our cruise there was a group of American Real Estate Agents and it did tend to get quite loud in the lounge at night.

As this was my first cruise and being on a small ship made me think that this is the only way to cruise.  There is a smaller number of guests and so friendships among the guests and crew are formed very quickly.

ON SHORE

Budapest, Hungary

Our first evening was an Illuminating cruise on the Danube of Budapest’s Riverfront.  Budapest at night is quite beautiful.  We cruised along the banks and saw many illuminated buildings such as the Chain bridge, Buda Castle, Hungarian Parliament Building and Fisherman’s Bastion to name a few.  We docked for the night in Budapest.  On the second day we were taken by motor coach on a city tour of Buda as well as Pest.  We visited Heroes Square, Mathias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, the opera house and various highlights of Buda City.  We also visited the Pest side where we saw St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its spectacular views of Pest and Buda.  Our tour ended with our first Christmas Market visit.   That night we set sail for Austria.  Our first city to visit….Vienna.

Vienna, Austria

We sailed all night and woke up in Vienna, Austria.  The day began with a motor coach tour to Vienna where we drove by the opera House, the former Imperial house of the Hapsburg Emperors, Parliament, Town Hall and Vienna University.  Our tour ended in Vienna’s historic city centre where we were given a walking tour of the city, visiting St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and other historic city landmarks.   At the end of our city tour we visited the Christmas Markets of Schönbrunn and Karlsplatz Schwedenplatz, Maria-Theresian-Platz and Rathausplatz.  After a long day we had a delightful dinner on board and sailed on to Melk.

Melk, Austria

On this day we arrive in Melk and were taken again by motor coach to Melk Benedictine Abbey were we are given a walking tour.

The abbey sits perched on a rocky hill above the quaint little village of Melk. The abbey is still to this day a functioning abbey with approximately 7 monks and schools approximately 900 co-ed students.  We were not able to take photos of the interior.  The Abbey is quite spectacular with gold frescoed ceilings and columns as well as one of the largest libraries in the world.  The view from the Abbey is quite spectacular as you are overlooking the River Danube and the village of Melk.

Passau & Salzburg, Austria

We sail overnight to Passau where we are taken on a 2 hour motor coach ride to Salzburg, the home of The Sound of Music, my favourite movie J! And also of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Enroute our tour guide gave us a little history of Salzburg and of course the movie.  For example at the end of the movie when the Von Trap family escapes the Germans over the mountain to Switzerland?  Well on the other side of that mountain…… is Germany! J

We arrived in Salzburg where we went on a walking tour through the historic town to the Christmas Market.  On the tour we pass Mozart’s birthplace, Mirabell Gardens (you know the place where Do Rei Me was filmed! J) and get a glimpse of Hohensalburg Fortress which overlooks the town.

Regensburg & Thurn and Taxis Christmas Market, Germany

We sailed overnight and arrive in Regensburg, our first Bavarian city.  Regensburg is well known for its High Gothic Cathedral and very quaint and charming cobblestone street, where we go on another walking tour of the city.  Close to the dock and next to the Stone Bridge is the oldest restaurant in Germany, Wurstkuchl (Sausage Kitchen), famous for its delicious Bavarian sausages.  Unfortunately the line-up was really long so we did not get a chance to partake is this delicious feast.

After lunch on board the ship, we are taken by motor coach (approximately 5 – 10 min drive) to the Thurn and Taxis Christmas Market.  This market is located on the grounds of the Palace Emmeram where Emperor Franz I family still resides.  The matriarch (Princess Gloria) has preserved the castle and all its surroundings and still runs the family business.  She is a collector of modern art and thus has assembled a large array of local artists and craftsmen for this very unique Christmas Market.

This was our second to last evening on board AMA Serena and so the staff and crew serenade us to say goodbye at the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail.  We were also visited by Santa Claus who has presents for all on board.

Roth & Nuremburg, Germany

The sailing from Regensburg to Nuremburg (with a technical stop in Roth) is mostly done during the morning.  The cruise enters the Main-Danube Canal (the European Panama Canal).  When we arrived in Nuremburg we were taken by motor coach on a city tour.   The city is famous for the Nuremburg Trials which was of a series of military tribunals held by the Allied forces under international and also laws of war after World War II.  Nuremburg was also known for its location of the Annual Nazi Rally’s. This was by far the coldest day on our trip and actually seeing the site and where Hitler stood making his speeches had us all thinking back to what it could have been like during his reign of terror.

At the end of our tour we are taken to the largest Christmas Market in the world which is in Nuremburg.  There is so much to see and so many people!

On this evening we are able to get a reservation to have dinner at the Chef’s Table Restaurant.  The meal consists of a delicious tasting menu accompanied by various wines.  Each course is described by the maître d’, and served by 2 waiters with a specific wine pairing.  Not only was the presentation beautiful but the meal and wine delicious.

 

 

Contributed by Kathy Gooden
Vision Travel, a Direct Travel Company

Chilled Strawberry, Basil and Coconut Soup

Recipe: Chilled Strawberry, Basil and Coconut Soup

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 586 0

C/O Ama Waterways, in celebration of their stunning cruises through Provence

Though its origins are murky, chilled Strawberry Soup is the perfect seasonal recipe for summers in Provence – or anywhere with hot weather!

Itineraries: Colors of Provence

In modern times, cold soups are more closely aligned with a meal’s amouse bouche than its hearty main dish. The idea is to excite your appetite and prepare it for what’s ahead, not satiate your hunger. Of course, given that many chilled soups, such as this strawberry, basil and coconut blend, are sweet, they are also a wonderful way to finish off a delicious meal.

Why Cold Soup?

Germany’s cucumber soup. Hungary’s sour cherry. Portugal’s ajoblanco. And France’s Vichyssoise. What do all of these delicious soups have in common? They are refreshing enough to be served in the height of summer’s heat—because they are chilled

Got a Blender?

If you have a blender or food processor, congratulations—you’re equipped to make chilled soups! Forget about fancy slicing and dicing, searing or hours of simmering. Chilled soups simply use complementary fresh seasonal ingredients for a quick and no-fuss recipe that delights the palate.

The Strawberries of Provence

Although chilled strawberry soup can hardly be called an authentic French recipe, strawberries are a seasonal ingredient in France’s Provence region from March through June. Wild strawberries, known locally as fraises des bois, thrive in Provence’s shade. Anyone attending Les Halles outdoor market in Avignon during these months will likely come across sun-kissed varieties from the town of Carpentras. So important are these seeded fruits that there is even a Carpentras Strawberry Fraternity. Annual production of the fruit is about 4,000 tons.

Whether you can pick your own or need to buy them at the market, strawberries are the delicious main ingredient of this refreshing and easy to make at home recipe!

Chilled Strawberry, Basil and Coconut Soup

Ingredients:
1 & 1/8 lbs. Frozen Strawberries (about 4.5 cups)
1/2 TBS Confectioners’ Sugar
2 TBS and 2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1¼ tsp. Sweet Basil
1/4 qt. Strawberry Ice Cream
¾ C and 2 TBS Coconut Cream

Preparation Method:

Using a blender or food processor, blend the above ingredients until a smooth pouring consistency is reached. If texture is too thick, add milk to thin it down with more coconut cream to taste. Serve immediately.

 

Virtuoso Offer

Virtuoso Offer with Avalon Waterways

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 243 0

The “Just Right” Way to River Cruise
What defines luxury? Is it the enjoyment of the good things in life, or is it simply having things just the way you prefer them? Avalon Waterways navigates with both elegance and ease to deliver a “just right” experience – one that transports you at just the right pace, with just the right amenities, and just the right views. Along the legendary waterways of Europe, they balance enriching activities, included excursions, mouthwatering cuisine, and unmatched service to offer the perfect degree of relaxed indulgence. This is called the Avalon difference.

We’re fortunate to have a world of resources at our fingertips, thanks in large part to our partnership with Virtuoso®, an organization of the top travel agencies, travel providers, and destinations worldwide.

Through Virtuoso, we are able to offer you, our valued client, the kind of exclusive amenities, upgrades, access, and experiences that elevate your cruise including the following offer on select sailings:

~ Pre-paid Gratuities – a value of up to US $504 per stateroom depending on length of cruise

 

Included for Every Avalon Guest

  • Spacious outside deluxe accommodations with enhanced soundproofing and Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection BedsSM for a great night’s sleep. (See deck plans for additional stateroom amenities.)
  • Large private bathroom featuring full shower with glass door, hairdryer & premium L’Occitane® bath products
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner on board daily indicated by breakfast (B), lunch (L), and dinner (D) on the itinerary pages
  • Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; wine, beer, or soft drinks with lunch and dinner are included daily on board your vessel
  • A professional Cruise Director who delivers educational commentary as you travel through interesting landscapes, and who assists with requests and additional excursions
  • An Avalon Adventure HostSM available as your guide for fitness activities and active excursions
  • Friendly, English-speaking staff who deliver consummate personal service throughout your journey
  • Avalon Choice® – Enjoy included sightseeing with Certified Local Guides, Guided Optional Excursions and Tours, and ample free time to explore on your own. Explore CLASSIC sights, embark on ACTIVE excursions, and make a new DISCOVERY through hands-on cultural and artistic experiences shared by local residents and experts

The New Wave Of Cruise Experiences

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 356 0

Thirteen experiences you didn’t know you could have on a cruise.

Today’s cruising boom is good news for everyone, from aficionados who love setting sail to those ready to give a new vacation style a go. And as cruising’s popularity grows – approximately 27 million people stepped aboard in 2018 – cruise lines have diversified. It’s all about variety these days, not just in ship size – ranging from intimate, 60-passenger yachts to next-level, 6,000-person megavessels – but in style too. You can sip coffee on your balcony as you float down a European river, go searching for wildlife on an expedition ship, or get lost in a floating city at sea. Itineraries are also more creative: Culinary academies and wellness centers on board, for example, pair well with surprising shore excursions, from hiking up mountains to attending orchestra concerts. These 13 experiences are offered by cruise lines that participate in Virtuoso Voyages – an exclusive program that offers complimentary benefits and perks to travelers who book cruises through a Virtuoso travel advisor – and they’ll make you think twice about what you can do on your next sailings.

 

Welcome to the new era of cruising, where almost everything goes.

 

1 – Explore Marine Life From Inside A $3 Million Submarine

Realize your James Bond fantasies with a trip on Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Esprit, a 62-passenger yacht that touts a three-person submersible as one of its water-based activity options. (Jet Skis, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are also at the ready.) A pilot takes two passengers at a time on explorations up to 1,000 feet below the surface, including on a seven-day, Dubrovnik-to-Venice sailing. The Esprit is an ideal vessel for scuba divers and snorkelers, and its slim size means it can call on smaller ports, including the yacht marina in Kotor, Montenegro; Croatia’s walled city of Dubrovnik; and all the way north to Venice.

Departures: Multiple dates, July 7, 2019, to August 30, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $125 shipboard credit. Submersible experience, $350.

 

2 – Set Sail With Your Pup In Tow

Crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s eight-day, New York City to Southampton sailing is slow travel at its finest – rest, relaxation, and enrichment, from tango lessons and yoga sessions to fi lm screenings and music recitals. Share the adventure with your four-legged BFF on the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2, which has an onboard kennel for 24 pets. Like their owners, cats and dogs receive VIP treatment, including a portrait session, fleece coat, and “turndown service” of freshly baked biscuits. The pet lounge and play area welcome animals from both sides of the pond with a Liverpool lamppost and an NYC fire hydrant.

Departures: Multiple dates, June 7 to December 15, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include private port transfers in New York City and London and an onboard specialty-dining credit.

 

3 – Get Your Daily Cardio In

You’ve worked too hard to let your fitness routine slide for a week. Do as much (or as little) as you like with AmaWaterways, the river-cruise line that stables bicycles for shore excursions and employs dedicated wellness hosts to lead core and circuit training classes on board. On the new, 196-passenger AmaMagna, which debuted in May and is twice as wide as most European river ships, cruisers can log a mile on the top-deck walking track, take a stretching class in the Zen Wellness Studio, hydrate at the juice bar, or get a massage. Disembark on an eight-day, Vilshofen-to-Budapest Danube River sailing to bike along the river or hike to a castle.

Departures: Multiple dates, June 2 to December 29, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include an onboard host and welcome reception and a guided tour of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace.

 

4 – Discuss World Affairs With A Career Diplomat

There’s nothing like sailing with an astronaut, scholar, government official, or filmmaker to vanquish the shuffleboard-and-buffets cruising stereotype. Seabourn raises the intellectual bar with its Seabourn Conversations series, featuring notable guests who don’t just lead onboard lectures, but engage with fellow passengers over meals and excursions as well. Ashok Sajjanhar – India’s ambassador to Sweden and Latvia and president of the Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi – will educate guests on the 599-passenger Seabourn Ovation during a 19-day, Dubaito-Singapore cruise with stops in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Departure: December 2, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion in Mumbai.

 

5 – Stay Out LATE Without Fear Of Missing The Boat

Azamara Club Cruises pioneered overnight port stays, letting guests revel in the local nightlife in addition to the standard daytime scene. The boutique cruise line is amping up its after-dark experiences with a new series of exclusive evening shore excursions, such as taking in an acrobatics performance in Valencia, Spain. On an 11-day, round-trip-from-Athens sailing on the 702-passenger Azamara Pursuit, travelers can attend a traditional Jewish folk music performance by a klezmer group at Jerusalem’s Ashdod Performing Arts Center. It’s part of an immersive, three-day stop in the holy city that includes visits to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

Departure: September 4, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion to Jerusalem.

 

6 – Finally Figure Out The Difference Between A Julienne And A Brunoise Cut

Make tasty use of your time at sea on Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-passenger Marina or Riviera ships by enrolling in a cooking class or three at the onboard Culinary Center. Kick things off with Slice: Mastering Chef Knife Skills to learn the basics of mise en place before trying your hand at making pasta or grilling. The 12-day, Rio de Janeiro-to-Buenos Aires voyage on the Marina offers a balanced diet of cultural excursions in Paraty, Brazil; beach time in Punta del Este, Uruguay; and food and wine tours in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

Departure: December 7, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include prepaid gratuities.

 

7 – Celebrate Your Anniversary With A Polynesian Blessing Ceremony

Cast away to the South Pacific for the most memorable of occasions aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin Cruises. During an eight-day, roundtrip from Papeete sailing through the Society Islands – full of archaeological sites, lagoons fit for snorkeling, and white-sand beaches – local onboard hosts know as Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins can bless couples in a traditional Polynesian ceremony by reciting a love poem, singing, and after a Champagne toast, wrapping celebrants in a traditional patchwork tifaifai quilt. They’ll also teach you how to say “I do” in Tahitian, dance island-style, and make a basket out of pandanus leaves.

Departures: Multiple dates June 8 to December 28, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion in Moorea.

 

8 – Spend All Day At The Spa

Bookending stops in Sint-Maarten, Dominica Saint Lucia, Antigua, and Saint Bart’s, four of the 11 days on Regent Seven Seas Cruises 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer’s roundtrip from Miami journey are spent at sea, offering prime time to find some inner peace in the ship’s Canyon Ranch Spa. This at-sea outpost mirrors the famous destination retreat, with yoga classes, seaweed wraps, hot stone massages, reflexology, and hydrotherapy features ranging from saunas to cold rooms. Between oxygen facials and pedicures, check out the ship’s impressive art collection, including several Picasso’s, or learn about the healthful secrets of Mediterranean cooking in the Culinary Arts Kitchen.

Departure: January 8, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion and lunch in Saint Bart’s

 

9 – Learn How To Steer A Sailboat

Sixteen sails bound to four masts help power the 360 foot Star Flyer clipper ship, one of three throwback vessels in the Star Clippers fleet. Nautical culture meets luxury aboard this 17- passenger vessel, which has two swimming pools on its teak decks. Friendly deckhands, who hoist the sails manually each time the ship leaves port, offer knot-tying classes, ship-maneuvering lectures, and demonstrations on navigating with a sextant – a tool to measure angular distances at sea. Test your newfound skills on a 15-day, Barbados to Panama voyage, which visits Grenada, the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), and Colombia and culminates in a sailor’s dream transit through the Panama Canal.

Departure: November 23, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion and lunch in Saint George’s, Grenada.

 

10 – Turn Your Expedition Photos Into Professional Masterpieces

Go beyond VSCO and your smartphone’s filters: The fully equipped Photo Studio aboard Silversea Cruises’ 254-passenger (200 in polar waters) Silver Cloud offers master classes in composition, editing, and Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop programs. High-tech printers encourage shutterbugs to create postcards and panoramic prints, regardless of whether they were taken using an iPhone or a DSLR. Photograph the wildlife that inhabits the bottom of the earth on a ten-day, roundtrip-from-Ushuaia expedition to Antarctica. The ship’s resident photo manager will coach passengers on adjusting shutter speeds so they can capture images of seabirds in the Drake Passage, penguins on the South Shetland Islands, and otherworldly icebergs in the Antarctic Sound.

Departures: Multiple dates, December 10, 2019, to January 20, 2021. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $300 shipboard credit per person.

 

11 – Read Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn On The Mighty Mississippi

The sense of freedom and possibility brought to life in Twain’s iconic novel can still be found on Ol’ Man River, and you’re likely to experience both during American Queen Steamboat Company’s nine-day cruise from New Orleans to Memphis. On board the 436-passenger American Queen, an authentic paddlewheel riverboat, watch the Mississippi roll past from the ship’s decks, read a classic tome in the Mark Twain Gallery, and take in a show in the Grand Saloon. Along the way, holiday themed events and excursions reveal the history and heritage of the U.S. South. See NOLA’s ceremonial lighting of bonfires on the levee, learn how to perfect buttery biscuits in the Natchez home of award-winning chef Regina Charboneau, and more.

Departure: December 15, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception; contact your Virtuoso travel advisor regarding an additional, soon-to-be-announced amenity.

 

12 – Travel Back In Time On The Nile River

From the hand-built pyramids at Giza to tranquil Nile excursions aboard a traditional felucca sailboat, travelers will revel in the ingenuity of past centuries during their time in Egypt. Seven of the 12 days on Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s round-trip-from-Cairo itinerary are based on the elegant 82-passenger River Tosca. Egyptologist-guided excursions decode the colossal statues of Memnon, the mummified remains of King Tutankhamun in his Valley of the Kings tomb, and the hieroglyphics adorning temples from Luxor to Aswan. Changing pace, ride a felucca and take tea at the hotel where Agatha Christie set Death on the Nile. Go now, while tourism is growing, but before the masses return.

Departures: Multiple dates, September 28 to December 28, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $200 shipboard credit per person.

 

13 – Get Cooking With A Celebrated Chef

The James Beard Foundation ships out its award-winning chefs and sommeliers on culinary-themed Windstar Cruises sailings, which include cooking demos, beverage pairings, and market tours. Gain firsthand knowledge by joining a talented chef and beverage expert on a ten-day, San Diego-to-Vancouver sailing aboard the 212-passenger Star Breeze, which plies the U.S. West Coast with stops in Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. The chef will host a wine-paired dinner, lead a shopping trip, and provide a cooking demonstration. Work off the meals while exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

Departure: May 5, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a custom-curated shore event.

 

 

Original Article from Virtuoso Traveler July 2019 issue

Uniworld Generations Collection voyages

Generations Collection with Uniworld

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Uniworld Boutique River Cruises believes that world travel is a family affair and have created their Generations Collection of voyages to reflect that. Every Uniworld Generations cruise includes special programs, events and excursions designed specifically for your world travellers in training.

SPECIAL GENERATIONS AMENITIES

  • 25% off the fare for travellers 4 to 17 years old when traveling with an adult (suites excluded)
  • Exciting shore excursions tailor-made for families and hosted by local experts
  • Kid-friendly menus for each meal and unlimited beverages onboard
  • Young Travellers’ Table, a special dining table reserved on certain nights just for our younger guests and Family Hosts
  • Onboard activities just for kids, such as cooking classes and dessert-making with the ship’s chef and pastry chef
  • Hands-on craft workshops tailored to the destinations you visit
  • Young travellers’ lounge and game room, complete with PlayStation, games, movies and local treats
  • Two dedicated Family Hosts to oversee all activities for Junior Cruisers (ages 4 to 12 years) and Teen Cruisers (ages 13 to 17 years)
  • Opportunities to “Live the Lingo” and learn words and phrases in other languages from our Family Hosts
  • Kids-only movie nights, where kids can enjoy popcorn-fueled screenings of family-friendly films along with their new onboard friends and Family Hosts
  • A special VIP ship tour with the Captain or Hotel Manager
  • Complimentary bicycles, helmets and Nordic walking sticks for use onshore
  • Young travellers will receive special surprise pillow gifts for each night of the cruise
  • Convenient departures scheduled during summer and winter breaks

Uniworld specializes in personalized travel, with the Generations Collection of voyages they have included extra special options for the younger travellers. Since everyone has different likes there are a range of onshore excursion and onboard activities available. Some are geared toward children while others are tailored for tweens and teens. Options such as these …

ART LOVERS – excursions and hands-on activities to inspire creative expression
Sample: Glassblowing and Mask-making in Venice on select Gems of Northern Italy voyages

CURIOUS MINDS – Excursions designed to cultivate a greater sense of curiosity
Sample: NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam on select Delightful Danube & Prague voyages

LET’S GO – Exhilarating outdoor pursuits geared especially towards tween and teens
Sample: Gondola rowing in Venice on select Gems of Northern Italy voyages

THRILL SEEKERS – Exciting adventures that will appeal to junior adrenaline junkies
Sample: Climbing Forest in Germany on select Castles along the Rhine voyages

ASPIRING FOODIES – Tasty activities for adventourous eaters seeking new flavours
Sample: Pretzel-twisting workshop in Wertheim on select Classic Christmas Markets voyages

MYSTERIOUS STUFF – Excursions for young people who love intriguing tales with a historical twist
Sample: Nuremberg’s secret tunnels on select Delightful Danube & Prague voyages

 

With a Uniworld Generations Collections voyage you can be sure children, teens, tweens and adults alike will come home with memories to last a lifetime.

Europe River Cruise with Viking

Exploring the rivers of Europe with Viking

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Are you charmed by the idea of exploring Europe but do not want a traditional coach tour? You want to be right in the heart of the towns and villages but still want the comfort of having a guide? Then a river cruise sounds just about perfect for you! Immerse yourself in the Old World as you sail Europe’s most iconic rivers. Discover Danube gems like Vienna and Budapest. See storied Rhine castles. Trace French history along the Seine. From the Main to the Moselle, the Douro to the Dordogne, the Viking experience is unsurpassed.

Why Cruise the Rivers of Europe with Viking?
Viking takes you to the heart of Europe via its grand waterways, providing you with boundless insight into the continent’s cultural and historic treasures. Immerse yourself in the storybook villages, vibrant cultural centers and picturesque landscapes of The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland, and unlock a whole new world of discovery. Here is a sample of what you will see on one of their European river cruises:

  • Culinary delights in Lyon, France
  • Medieval Prague, “City of a Thousand Spires”
  • The elegant boulevards and grand monuments of Paris
  • Historic Wittenberg, home to Martin Luther
  • Fairytale windmills of The Netherlands
  • Wine tastings in the quintas of Portugal’s Douro Valley
  • Budapest’s regal Parliament building and Chain Bridge
  • Vienna’s inspirational legacy of classical music
  • France’s famed wineries in Beaujolais, Bordeaux and beyond

 

The Viking Difference

Award-Winning Viking Longships – Viking’s Longships showcase innovative engineering, streamlined Scandinavian design with understated elegance, and provide you with unprecedented levels of comfort designed to connect you to your destination.

Unparallelled Staterooms & Suites – with their exclusive patented corridor configuration, Viking is able to offer a variety of stateroom choices that include spacious Veranda and French Balcony staterooms. As well as Veranda and Explorer Suites.

Destination Focused Dining – Menus include regional cuisine and always available classics enhanced with locally sourced ingredients, so you can explore new cultures through food.

Award-Winning Service – Viking has over 7,000 staff members worldwide devoted to making your stay on board as memorable as possible. And with 90% of their staff returning year after year, you can expect the same quality service, cruise after cruise.

Onboard Enrichment Programs – While sailing you’ll want to take advantage of Cultural enrichment programs to supplement your onshore experience such as Guest Lectures & Port Talks, Destination Performances, Craft and Cooking Demonstrations and Destination Insight films available right in your stateroom.

Onshore Experiences – You’ll enjoy an included guided excursion in every port, plus The Viking Way® of exploration.

 

THE RIVERS OF EUROPE

Danube River Cruises
Coursing through Germany, Austria, Hungary and seven other countries all the way to the Black Sea, the Danube is the soul of Central Europe. Join us along these culture-rich banks, whose scenic vineyards, ancient monasteries and elegant cities have inspired travelers for centuries.

Rhine River Cruises
Raise a glass of Riesling to our acclaimed Rhine River cruises through Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands. See how the Rhine, Main and Moselle river systems unfold to create a spellbinding display of storybook villages, Dutch windmills, German vineyards and Gothic cities.

Elbe River Cruises
Sail the Elbe to reaches seldom seen in Germany and the Czech Republic. Insights greet you at every bend as you explore majestic Berlin and Prague, delve into Wittenberg’s religious history and contrast the delicacy of Meissen porcelain with the rocky brawn of Saxon Switzerland.

Main River Cruises
Winding between Mainz and Bamberg, the Main passes through 34 locks—16 more connect it to the Danube via the Main-Danube Canal. While this engineering feat enables river travel across the entire length of Europe, it also unlocks a trove of unspoiled landscapes and historic towns.

Seine River Cruises
The Seine meanders on a serpentine path through the Norman countryside, an historic region of great pastoral beauty. Drift along dreamy apple orchards and medieval ruins. Explore elegant Paris. See Monet’s Giverny home. And honor World War II heroes on Normandy beaches.

Moselle River Cruises
The romantic Moselle winds through an enchanting landscape of castles, picture-book villages and terraced slate hillsides that form one of the world’s richest wine regions. With a settled history that predates the Romans, it is yours to discover on one of our Moselle river cruises.

Saône River Cruises
Cruise the Saône with Viking, as gentle countryside and historic cities unfold before you. Savor Lyon, France’s traditional gastronomic capital. Taste ruby-red wines in the lush vineyards of Beaujolais and Burgundy. Join us to experience this rewarding corner of France, up close.

Rhône River Cruises
Enjoy the diverse pleasures of life along the Rhône with Viking. Savor Lyon, France’s gastronomic heart; the Beaujolais wine region; quaint Provençal villages; and historic Avignon and Arles. For those who love fine food, beauty and riveting history, Rhône cruises are pure bliss.

Douro River Cruises
Our Portugal cruises uncover one of Europe’s oldest and most renowned wine regions. Cruise the Douro River through ancient wine estates, passing barcos rabelos laden with casks en route to Porto and Lisbon. A sublimely scenic corner of Europe, with equally sublime food and wine.

 

And although not traditionally “Europe” river cruises through Russia and the Ukraine are not to be missed!

Russia River Cruises
The Viking fleet is the finest operating along Russia’s rivers today, delivering eye-opening experiences in historic Moscow and canal-laced St. Petersburg. Beyond, see the domed churches of Uglich and Yaroslavl, and witness the seldom seen rural tranquility of this enigmatic country.

Ukraine River Cruises
Uncover Europe’s best-kept secret as you sail Ukraine’s Dnieper River through a maze of whisper-thin tributaries and village-studded bays. Colorful folk traditions, hearty cuisine and rich culture lead the way from the Golden Gates of Kiev to the Odessa Steps of the Black Sea.

 

Destination focused. Culturally enriching. Carefully curated. Isn’t it time you discover what makes Viking the world’s leading small ship cruise line? Check out Vikings current offers here

The new S.S. Bon Voyage is here!

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Originally built in 2006 as Uniworld’s River Royale, the S.S. Bon Voyage has just embarked on her maiden voyage to sail the rivers of Bordeaux. After being completely transformed into one of it’s newest Super Ships she now features polished wood, subtle brass details, stylish emerald and blue fabrics and fresh sunflowers and lavender throughout and truly reflects her French heritage.

The dining venues onboard were created to capture the essence of France. The quintessential La Brasserie, with its natural green and pops of yellow décor inspired by the famous Bouillon Pigalle, serves traditional bistro fare. Le Grand Fromage offers menus reflective of the local cuisine, prepared from locally-sourced ingredients. La Cave du Vin is an intimate space where connoisseurs can gather for expert food and wine pairing dinners upon request. You’ll not want to miss Le Salon Champagne, which is inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s personal abode, Villa Majorelle.

The stunning Soleil Deck, awash in vibrant fabrics, features the only infinity pool on the rivers and spectacular views of the French countryside. Poolside service at Le Café du Soleil offers casual French cuisine as well as open-air cooking demonstrations from our chefs.

In addition to the public spaces, the S.S. Bon Voyage features four new spacious suites, and every stateroom has received an exquisite redesign with cool marble bathrooms and unique features.

Discover France on board the S.S. Bon Voyage with these beautiful itineraries

A PORTRAIT OF MAJESTIC FRANCE
15 DAYS FROM PARIS TO BORDEAUX
SHIPS: S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Bon Voyage

The quintessential voyage for gourmets, oenophiles and lovers of all things French. This picture-perfect journey blends your passion for the good life—art, culture and gastronomy—with a broad sweep of lovely French landscapes.

 

BRILLIANT BORDEAUX
8 DAYS FROM BORDEAUX TO BORDEAUX – ENHANCED FOR 2019
SHIPS: S.S. Bon Voyage

From its noble châteaux to its breathtaking estuary, Bordeaux is an oenophile’s paradise and every traveler’s dream. Sail three stunning rivers—the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde—on one amazing journey.

 

ULTIMATE FRANCE
22 DAYS FROM BORDEAUX TO AVIGNON
SHIPS: S.S. Bon Voyage, S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine

This triumvirate of France brings you the very best of each region—Paris and the Normandy coast in the north, vineyard-rich Bordeaux in the southwest, and the sun-drenched Mediterranean delights of Burgundy and Provence.

 

Here is a glimpse of the S.S. Bon Voyage 

 

AmaDouro

AmaWaterways Welcomes New Ship AmaDouro

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Celebrations Mark Arrival of Company’s Second Ship in Portugal; AmaWaterways Executives, Valued Partners and First-Ever UK Godmother, Julia Lo Bue-Said, Gather in Porto for Christening

Calabasas, CA – (Apr. 12, 2019) – AmaWaterways today christened its newest river cruise ship, AmaDouro, with a festive ceremony in Porto, Portugal. The christening put the final touch on AmaDouro’s inaugural sailing – which began in Porto and returned today for the special evening event hosted by AmaWaterways co-founders Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst. Honorary guest, Advantage Travel Partnership Chief Executive Officer and AmaDouro Godmother, Julia Lo Bue-Said was joined by respected travel industry partners, international media and other guests for the celebration.

“The arrival of every new ship is exciting for us at AmaWaterways, but we are particularly thrilled to be adding AmaDouro to this spectacular region that we proudly helped introduce when sister ship AmaVida was first launched in 2013,” said Schreiner. “We are very happy to have our friends and partners join us here today as this 21st addition to our fleet marks the beginning of a banner year for our company.”

Following a long-standing tradition associated with ship christenings that originates more than 4,000 years ago, a priest blessed the ship and crew, and Captain Pedro Sardo assisted as Godmother Lo Bue-Said broke a champagne bottle against AmaDouro’s hull, signifying good luck on the journeys ahead.

“We are very happy to have Julia officially welcome this new addition to our family,” said Karst. “It is our way of celebrating the incredible growth and our strong commitment to the UK travel advisor community, as we work together to bring more guests from around the world to this unspoiled region of Europe.”

Reflecting true “AmaFamily” values, Schreiner and Karst surprised their first British godmother, who was accompanied by her husband and youngest son, by flying in her eldest son for the ceremony. Guests joined in the festivities, which included speeches by Schreiner, Karst and Lo Bue-Said, lively local entertainment featuring folk dancers and fado singers, regionally-inspired cocktails, and a gala dinner.

“I’m very honored to be godmother of this incredible ship,” said Lo Bue-Said. “AmaDouro has truly exceeded my expectations of river cruising, from the ship herself to the unparalleled guest service and curated shore excursions. Traveling through Portugal and welcoming this ship with my family has been an unforgettable experience, and I am honored to help officially welcome AmaDouro to AmaWaterways’ extraordinary fleet.”

AmaDouro offers 51 spacious, elegantly designed staterooms, most with outside balconies to enjoy beautiful views of hills and vineyards along the UNESCO-designated Douro River Valley. Additional amenities include a Panoramic Lounge for nightly entertainment, a heated Sun Deck swimming pool, fitness room, massage room and the company’s renowned cuisine at the Main Restaurant, serving regionally-inspired dishes and hand-selected wines.

Joining sister ship AmaVida which sails between Porto and Vega Terron, AmaDouro will be based in Porto and offer seven-night roundtrip Enticing Douro cruises with a three-night pre-cruise land program in Lisbon. AmaDouro is the first of three new ships that will be added to AmaWaterways’ innovative fleet this year. Other new ships making their debut include AmaMora, sister ship to AmaLea and AmaKristina, sailing on the Rhine, and the revolutionary AmaMagna on the Danube.