5 Reasons to Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
From awe-inspiring natural wonders to unmatched feats of human engineering, UNESCO’s World Heritage List is your guidebook for the trip of a lifetime. Seabourn Cruise Lines has selected Five Reasons why you need to include a UNESCO World Heritage site to your must-see travel list.
WHAT IS UNESCO?
UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Founded in 1945, it is the arm of the United Nations dedicated to fostering peaceful communication between nations and preserving cherished heritage sites around the world. The agency promotes growth in five core areas: education, culture, natural sciences, social and human sciences, and communication and information.
WHY SHOULD TRAVELERS KNOW ABOUT UNESCO?
In 1972, UNESCO inaugurated the World Heritage List, a prestigious index of places around the world with resounding universal value. The World Heritage sites are bastions of natural beauty, cultural significance, or a combination of both, and they epitomize the values, history, and triumphs of their home countries. With over 1000 sites and counting, the World Heritage List is the ultimate traveler’s guide—a bucket list of destinations worth seeing.
FIVE REASONS TO VISIT:
DISCOVER HIDDEN GEMS
In addition to the landmarks on every world traveler’s radar, like the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu, the World Heritage Committee surfaces sites you’ve likely never heard of. From the wooden churches on Chile’s Chiloé Island to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in northwestern England, the list will broaden your travel horizons beyond the usual tourist destinations.
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
The World Heritage List unearths some of man’s earliest creations: rock engravings in the Great Plains dating to the Contact Period; the oldest salt mine in Europe; Buddhist cave art from the 5th and 6th centuries. It’s one thing to know that we’ve been around for a long time—it’s another thing altogether to see proof of it.
Preserving the cultural and natural integrity of threatened sites is one of UNESCO’s core objectives. The World Heritage List has a special designation for properties at risk of destruction—whether by natural disasters, armed conflict, or any other forces—and reserves funds to support and protect these sites. The ongoing conservation efforts ensure that cherished cultural landmarks will thrive for generations to come.
MARVEL AT SUPERLATIVE SIGHTS
To make the World Heritage List, a site must pass several stages of rigorous evaluation and meet at least one of 10 selection criteria. In short, every location is unequivocally superb. From archaeological ruins and sacred monasteries to animal sanctuaries and volcanic parks, there are marvels of all kinds for travelers of all interests.
GAIN SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE
The World Heritage Committee works with a range of stakeholders to preserve the integrity of cherished landmarks and foster sustainable tourism. Seabourn has recently extended its partnership with UNESCO, pledging to continue supporting World Heritage sites through philanthropic donations and educational initiatives. As the official cruise partner of UNESCO, Seabourn offers more than 250 shore experiences at over 170 UNESCO designated sites and has also created special World Heritage Discovery Tours at a number of ports worldwide. Lastly, you’ll enjoy enhanced content on seabourn.com thanks to our partnership with UNESCO, aimed to increase awareness of some of the world’s most storied destinations.
Top 5 Tips for Making the Most of Norwegian’s Free at Sea
With Norwegian’s Free at Sea offer you have a lot of choices, which one will you choose? Well, you will want to take advantage of the ones that fit best with what you want to get out of your cruise vacation. If you prefer to enjoy the sights when getting off in port then the Shore Excursion credit is perfect for you. Prefer to keep in touch with family and friends and share all your experiences, Free WiFi will keep you connected! Here are some tips from Norwegian Cruise Line to help you make the right choice!
Top 5 Tips for Making the Most of Norwegian’s Free at Sea
Feel like making a good time five times more awesome? Feel Free. With Norwegian’s Free at Sea, you can enjoy Unlimited Open Bar, Shore Excursions, Specialty Dining, WiFi or Friends & Family Sail Free. Choose one, pick two or take all five! Whether you’re looking forward to toasting each day at one of our unique bars and lounges, tasting your way through our specialty restaurants or Instagramming every perfect moment to friends and family back home, Norwegian’s Free at Sea will help you vacation your way.
1. Find Your Happy Place
If you pick Shore Excursions, you’ll receive a $50 per port credit to use for the land-based adventure of your choosing. Dog sledding in Alaska. A snorkeling and champagne catamaran tour in The Caribbean. Touring the world-famous ruins of Pompeii. The possibilities for the spectacular are seemingly endless.
Plus, once you apply your port credit, you’ll also receive the Shore Excursion discount commensurate with your Latitudes Rewards tier level on the remaining cost: 10% for Silver, Gold and Platinum, 15% for Platinum Plus and 20% for Ambassador members.
Make the most of the last shore excursion of your vacation. Put your $50 credit toward an excursion that will drop you off at the airport at the end of the tour.
2. Savor Every Moment
When you choose Free Specialty Dining, you and a guest will receive a dining package with up to 3 free meals on a 7-day sailing at our Specialty Dining restaurants. Kick off a romantic night with bouillabaisse and côte de boeuf at our signature French restaurant, Le Bistro or dine under the stars along our oceanfront promenade, The Waterfront, while enjoying your favorite Italian foods at La Cucina.
Wherever you decide to dine, consider reserving your table for the first night when restaurants are less crowded and it’s easier to get a reservation.
3. Stay Connected
With Free WiFi, you can stay connected while at sea. From posting awe-inspiring photos of Glacier Bay in Alaska to sending friends back home photos of your newfound happy place in The Caribbean, you can do it all with the Free WiFi package-a value of up to $130.
Need to tweet, post, update and email a lot? Get the best deal by selecting this package where you can then upgrade to Unlimited or Unlimited Premium WiFi for a discount.
4. Raise a Glass to the Good Life
Morning mimosa? Poolside margarita? Wine with your filet mignon? Coming right up. Whether you like your beverages shaken, stirred or chilled, toast the good life with Unlimited Open Bar-a savings of up to $1,400. You and a guest can enjoy all the cocktails, spirits, wine, draft beer, juice and soda you like. With multiple bars and lounges on board to choose from, no two drinks will be the same, unless of course you’d like another round.
If you savor the finer things in life, then upgrade to the Premium Plus Beverage package and only pay the difference while enjoying top shelf brands.
5. The More, The Merrier
Whether you’re daydreaming of planning a get together for your group of old friends or where to hold the next extended family reunion, look no further than a cruise with Norwegian. With Friends & Family Sail Free, cruising with a large group will not only save money, but our diverse selection of onboard dining, activities, entertainment and amenities ensure that everyone will have an incredible vacation. When you choose Friends & Family Sail Free, guests 3 and 4 enjoy complimentary cruise fares on select cruises-a savings of up to $1,000! So go on and start calling/texting/emailing your crew about your brilliant vacation idea.
Stretch out and relax by booking in a Suite or The Haven where the first two guests receive ALL 5 Free at Sea offers and friends and family sail free.
Originally shared here on Norwegian’s Official Travel Blog
Shore Excursion Highlight: Glacier Walk & Waterfalls
This Mindful Living Tour may be experienced on Seabourn’s Route of the Vikings voyages, British Isles & Iceland, Atlantic Isles Quest, A Viking Summer, Icealandic Summer, Northern Summer Skies, Viking Island Quest, Icelandic & Scottish Adventure, Commonwealth & Viking Route Quest, Atlantic & Maritimes Quest
GLACIER WALK & WATERFALLS: A MINDFUL LIVING TOUR
Live the dream today with this opportunity to walk on an Icelandic glacier.
Leaving the city, relax and enjoy a panoramic drive southeast, passing over Hellisheiði — a mountain that offers a magnificent view of the wide plains formed by glacial rivers. You’re headed towards the town of Hveragerði surrounded by fertile farmland. The south coast of Iceland has some of the fantastic greenhouses built to harness geothermal energy for the food and horticulture industry. The quality and taste of these naturally grown vegetables is fabulous. Continue driving east, passing small villages and farmland. The majestic mountains towering above the coastal plain are your companions. Weather permitting, you might catch a glimpse of snow-shrouded Hekla — the country’s most active volcano. In the distance lies ice-capped Eyjafjallajökull volcano, whose 2010 eruption brought Europe’s aviation industry to a standstill. Beautiful Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is a fun surprise — you can walk behind the falls for a view of the falls’ backside! At Myìrdalsjökull Glacier, meet your expert glacier guides and set out on a hike to the frozen glacial tongue named Sólheimajökull — a rugged, raw and ever-changing river of frozen water. Step onto the glacier and observe the spectacular surroundings as you walk to the ice wall. Here, you will climb the ice, equipped with ice axes, crampons and safety lines that ensure that even if lose your grip, you will not fall. Once the glacier hike is over, head back to Reykjavík, stopping for a late lunch near Skógafoss Waterfall.
Please note: It is essential that you wear warm, layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion. Outer layer jackets and pants should be waterproof and windproof (jeans are not permitted). Bring gloves, a warm hat and a scarf. Excellent, sturdy hiking shoes are required to fit the crampons. This outdoor activity comes with inherent risks. Waiver must be signed and medical conditions disclosed. The walking takes place on Sólheimajökull Glacier which is a branch of the Myìrdalsjökull Glacier. Lunch is light and includes Icelandic meat soup or soup of the day, bread and dessert with tea or coffee. This is a long walking/hiking tour, suitable only for physically fit participants. The glacier walk does not require any special skills but you must follow the guide’s instruction at all times and keep to the walking paths. Minimum age is 10 years.
As an extension of the Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, this Mindful Living tour is designed to deliver the experience that contributes to mind and body wellness. You are invited to visit the on-board spa to speak to the Mindful Living coach to learn more about Dr. Weil and our holistic wellness program.
NEW Seven Seas Splendor™ Destination Experiences Unveiled
Experience something new in 2020, sailing aboard Regent Seven Seas newest ship, Seven Seas Splendor, with 65 New Shore Excursions. Spanning 9 countries in various ports across the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, these new explorations — 28 of which are FREE — offer more excitement, deeper learning and even more enriching opportunities than before.
Soar in a helicopter over the gorgeous countryside outside Monaco en route to an unforgettable meal at La Bastide de Moustiers, created by the famed French chef Alain Ducasse, or stay grounded on an electric-bike tour of La Cadiere d’Azur, savoring the bouquets of the many vintages found throughout the vineyards around Toulon, France. Tour the stunning beauty around Sorrento, Italy and edify your soul as you take in Caravaggio’s masterpiece, The Seven Works of Mercy, on display at Pious Mount of Mercy Church in Naples, or come under the tutelage of a master chef in Greenock, Scotland to discover there is much more than just haggis to Scottish cuisine.
Whatever new experience you’re seeking, find it with Regent Seven Seas next year, as you sail aboard the resplendent Seven Seas Splendor. Beginning in 2021, these experiences will be available on European voyages across the fleet.
Here’s a sample of some of the Destination Experiences
OTTOMAN EMPIRE CHALLENGE | FROM SPLIT, CROATIA
Learn about the Croatian victories over the invading Ottomans in the 16th and 17th centuries.Visit a museum in the town of Sinj with enlightening military exhibits. See two centuries-old fortresses where the Croatians battled the Ottoman army. Sample local delicacies such as fresh-baked bread, flavorful cheeses and wine at Stella Croatica.
MAY 12, 2020 – Venice to Rome
JUL 13, 2020 – Venice to Venice
CRUISE TO DELOS & RHENIA | FROM MYKONOS, GREECE
Cruise to the uninhabited island of Delos and explore the wealth of excavated ruins. Peruse the Sanctuary of Apollo, named for the god that was supposedly born on Delos. Enjoy the solitude and beauty of uninhabited Rhenia Island during a leisurely beach break.
JUL 13, 2020 – Venice to Venice
SEP 24, 2020 – Rome to Athens
OCT 4, 2020 – Athens to Istanbul
AN EXCLUSIVE VISIT TO GLENARM CASTLE | FROM BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
Take in the lovely scenery of the Antrim Coast on the way to Glenarm Castle. Enjoy an exclusive tour of the castle, which has been in the same family for 400 years. Stroll through the castle’s spectacular walled garden on your own.
AUG 18, 2020 – London to London
WITH A SIDECAR THROUGH BARCELONA | FROM BARCELONA, SPAIN
Ride in a motorcycle with a sidecar through Barcelona, taking in the absolute landmarks. See Antoni Gaudí-designed World Heritage sites such the Church of the Sacred Family. Drive down the luxury shop-lined Passeig de Gràcia, the so-called Champs Elysees of Barcelona.
JUN 26, 2020 – Monte Carlo to Rome
SEP 14 , 2020 – Monte Carlo to Rome
MUSSEL TASTING TOUR BY SPEED BOAT | FROM KOTOR, MONTENEGRO
Cruise the typically calm, protected waters of Boka Bay in a speed boat. Meander around the orthodox chapel on the teeny islet Our Lady of the Rocks. Sample freshwater mussels at a farm on the bay that grows and harvests the bi-valves.
APR 30, 2020 – Barcelona to Venice
JUL 6, 2020 – Rome to Venice
JUL 13, 2020 – Venice to Venice
JUL 23, 2020 – Venice to Barcelona
OCT 14, 2020 – Istanbul to Venice
OCT 24, 2020 – Venice to Rome
Many other exciting new experiences are available. One of our Luxury cruise specialists will be pleased to assist you in planning your Regent Seven Seas cruise.
The New Wave Of Cruise Experiences
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
Gourmet Explorer Tours with Regent Seven Seas
Regent Seven Seas invites you to taste the cultures of the world with specially curated, Master Chef-led, Gourmet Explorer Tours, offered exclusively aboard Seven Seas Splendor™ and Seven Seas Explorer®.
When you choose one of these Gourmet tours you’ll have to opportunity to experience the culinary culture in some of the world’s most delicious destinations. Experiences will include exploring local markets for authentic flavours, learning new techniques in local cooking classes, sip on delicious wines and savour expertly prepared gourmet meals. You’ll please your palate and expand your culinary knowledge with each of these delectable Gourmet Explorer Tours.
We’ve selected a few of our favourite Gourmet Explorer Tours that Regent Seven Seas has curated. For a complete list, connect with one of our luxury cruise specialists
CHEF MARKET TOUR AND TAPAS CLASS – FROM BILBAO, SPAIN
Accompanied by the Chef Instructor from the Culinary Arts Kitchen, participants of this tour visit the Mercado de la Ribera in central Bilbao, followed by tapas and pintxos snacks in Plaza Nova. Guests will also enjoy a short photo stop at the exterior of the famed Guggenheim museum, and then back to the ship for a 90-minute Tapas and Pintxos cooking class for lunch.
*Class fee included in price of Gourmet Explorer Tour
MASTER CHEF, PROVENCE LUNCH & WINES – FROM PROVENCE, FRANCE
Renowned Michelin-starred Master Chef Rene Berard hosts guests at his private property where they enjoy a tour and Provencal cooking demonstration. An elegant lunch at Le Bistrot de Jef is included and it features the very best of seasonal Provencal wines. Under the glass rooftop, guests enjoy the view of beautiful Provence and savor Mediterranean inspired dishes prepared especially for our group.
CHEF’S MARKET TOUR & LATVIAN COOKING – FROM RIGA, LATVIA
Along with the Chef from The Culinary Arts Kitchen and a local Latvian Chef, participants of this tour enjoy a tour through the Central Market of Riga – deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered Europe’s largest market and bazaar – where they’ll shop for produce and ingredients that will be used later for a Latvian cooking class and lunch once back on board the ship.
*Class fee included in price of Gourmet Explorer Tour.
CHEF MARKET TOUR: CANNOLIS & LUNCH WITH WINES – FROM TAROMINA (SICILY), ITALY
Accompanied by the Chef Instructor from the Culinary Arts Kitchen, guests visit the renowned fish and produce market in Catania, learn how to make delicious cannoli from a Sicilian pastry master and cap off the day with lunch and a cooking demonstration at a famed Taormina restaurant with slow food Chef Turi. Wines from Etna’s award-winning Benanti winery will be paired during lunch by the winemaker himself for an authentically Sicilian wine-and-food experience.
MARKET-TO-TABLE CHEF TOUR & COOKING CLASS – FROM CORFU, GREECE
Guests embarking on this tour receive a shopping assignment from their Chef Instructor to gather produce, cheeses and specialties at the local market. They also get to enjoy a light lunch at a famed local taverna, before returning on board for a cooking class on Corfu cuisine using the bounty of their foraging efforts.
*Class fee included in price of Gourmet Explorer Tour
HYDROPONIC FARM TOUR & ONBOARD TROPICAL COOKING CLASS- FROM ROATAN, HONDURAS
An authentic and eco-friendly culinary experience, this tour immerses you in Roatán’s unique gastronomic scene, marked by a fusion of rich influences from Africa, Spain and Central America. Visit the Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum for insider access to the indigenous gardens and hydroponic greenhouse and enjoy a cooking class led by a local Chef. Master authentic recipes, such as the famed Roatán pink shrimp and savor an island-fresh lunch with a special dessert cocktail.
Due to their unique itineraries, Gourmet Explorer tours require a discounted, supplementary charge.
PLEASE NOTE: Tours may be cancelled if minimum participation levels are not met. Tours are based on availability and subject to change at any time without notice.
Why You Should Cruise Northern Europe With Seabourn
Celebrate summer in Scandinavia’s capitals and quaint towns. Stockholm cafes set tables on the sidewalks. Oslo and Helsinki bloom with brilliant flowers and the sounds of children. Gilded fountains sparkle at St. Petersburg’s Summer Palace. Glide between towering cliffs in Norway’s Trollfjord. There’s no lovelier season than a Scandinavian summer, and no better way to experience it than on Seabourn.
1. Hand-selected itineraries include boutique ports, sheltered coves and hidden harbors where larger ships cannot go
2. Both Seabourn Quest and the Seabourn Ovation will be sailing in the region, giving you a wide choice of itineraries and departure dates
3. In-depth explorations of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, mixing history, the arts and sheer natural beauty
4. Exciting Iceland and Greenland voyages, including many maiden ports on unique cruises to and from Reykjavik, Iceland
5. More optional Ventures by Seabourn™ excursions available in select destinations expressly curated to provide ample opportunities
for active kayaking, Zodiac cruising and scenic trekking experiences
6. Shopping with the Chef excursions in Bergen, Oslo, Dublin, Helsinki, Reykjavík, Nuuk and Stockholm allow you to learn about regional markets and see how the freshest ingredients are selected, with an expert Seabourn chef as your guide
7. Regionally inspired cuisine using local seasonal produce
8. Seabourn’s Signature culinary event, the Galley Market Lunch▲ — a tour de force of temptation guaranteed to please any palate
9. Let’s Dance! deck party, Caviar on the Ice and other special deck events
10. Seabourn Conversations with special guest speakers, including our knowledgeable Expedition Team including Naturalists, a Marine
Biologist, Kayak Guide, Historian, Ornithologist and more
11. Optional 3-day mid-cruise excursion in St. Petersburg, With exclusive content though partnership with UNESCO
12. Optional excursion Exclusive Visit to Stonehenge: A UNESCO Partner Tour, from Portland. Through our partnership, this tour providing you access before the site opens for general admission to venture beyond the ropes and walk among the stones, with your guide
13. Shore excursions to UNESCO World Heritage Sites with enhanced content through an exclusive partnership, including Historic Center (Old Town) of Tallinn, The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, Old and New Towns of Edinburgh and more
14. Expedition team on deck helping spot wildlife, outfitted with high precision, long-range Swarovski Optik binoculars for complimentary use
Enhance and extend your Northern Europe VOYAGE with an optional shore excursion, Ventures by Seabourn excursions or mid-cruise tour. Here is a sampling of some of favorites.
Svolvaer (Lofoten), Norway — Ventures by Seabourn: Lofoten Exploration and Trollfjord by Zodiac
Depart from the ship in Zodiacs, to cruise the spectacular Lofoten Islands and fjords of Norway with a resident naturalist. Artists flock to the Lofoten archipelago for its stunning light, majestic peaks, sea – and skyscapes and lovely beaches. You’ll step ashore at one of these as naturalists interpret the flora and fauna, perhaps including resident moose. Then Zodiac northward to Trollfjord, and
watch Seabourn Quest enter the steep, narrow passage from sea level before re-boarding.
Stavanger, Norway — Ventures by Seabourn: Preikestolen/Pulpit Rock Hike
Perhaps no scene is more iconic to Norway’s fjords than the view from flat-topped Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen, towering 2,000 ft (604
m) above Lysefjord. Take a short ferry crossing to the village of Tau and a scenic transfer to the trailhead at Preikestolhytta. Then a two hour hike of 2.4 miles (3.8 km) ascending 1,100 ft (330 m) will find you standing atop Pulpit Rock and taking in the spectacular view of Lysefjord and the surrounding mountains. Then descend down the trail to return to your ship.
Qaqortoq, Greenland — Ventures by Seabourn: Hvalsey Norse Ruins by Zodiac
Depart Qaqortoq by Zodiac with a resident archaeologist and naturalists, exploring the coastline to the head of the fjord. Landing
at a jetty, scramble up and discover the nearby ruins of the Hvalsey farm and church, where a marriage in 1408 supplied the last written record of Norse presence in Greenland. Amid the ruins, the archaeologist will conjure for you the site as it was in the past,
surrounded by dwarf willows and harebells, perhaps with ghostly icebergs floating just off the gravel beach.
St. Petersburg, Russia — Extraordinary St. Petersburg & Moscow: A 3-Day UNESCO Partner Tour
In St. Petersburg, visit Catherine’s Palace and its Amber Room. Continue to the Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral. Then explore
the spectacular Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood before returning to your ship. Next day, take the high-speed train to Moscow to tour the Kremlin’s palaces, cathedrals and resplendent Armory museum, as well as Red Square, before returning by train. On day three, tour the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace and its Treasury Diamond Room, and the Summer Palace and fountain gardens at Peterhof.
Generations Collection with Uniworld
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.
14 Offbeat Bermuda Shore Excursions
These Bermuda Shore Excursions with Celebrity Cruises stand out from the rest!
Bermuda is a treasure trove of delights for island lovers. It has rugged coastline with incredible ocean views thanks to being situated right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also home to beaches in surprising shades of pastel.
You’ll also find colorful shades of pink, blue, yellow, and orange on the buildings that line the streets of King’s Wharf, the bustling part of the island near the harbor where cruise ships dock. Beyond King’s Wharf are miles upon miles of nature trails to explore, gorgeous parks, and historic towns, including one that doubles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With so much beauty and nature, there are the typical shore excursions you can do while in Bermuda, including catamaran cruises, city bus tours, scuba diving and snorkeling, private cars and drivers, dolphin encounters, fishing, and street markets. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more offbeat that will give you a Bermuda experience that will stand out from others, choose one of the Bermuda shore excursions that you can’t do on practically every single other island in the Caribbean Sea (Bermuda’s neighbor to the south).
Need some inspiration? Here are some of the best offbeat and unique Bermuda shore excursions you can do while in port so you can have a quintessentially Bermudian experience.
SNUBA Your Way Around the Ocean Floor
It’s not scuba diving, it’s not snorkeling, it’s SNUBA! If you’re not familiar with SNUBA, it’s a combination of scuba diving and snorkeling that gives you the ability to explore below the surface up to 20 feet (unlike snorkeling where you’re mostly stuck on the surface) without the necessary training to use cumbersome scuba diving equipment.
Instead of having an oxygen tank hooked to your back with a buoyancy compensator, you’ll instead be connected to it via a long tube that is hooked up to the oxygen tank floating on a raft above you, giving you lots of room to explore beneath the surface of the ocean. SNUBA is a fun time, and Bermuda is an excellent place to try it for the first time (or second, third or tenth) since the water is clear and home to colorful fish and other sea life. Try the Bermuda Snuba Experience and see for yourself why this is becoming such a popular watersport.
Frolic on Pink Sand Beaches
You might be used to teal ocean water that is lapping upon the shores of white, tan, or black beaches. But in Bermuda, the sand on some of its beaches is hued a gorgeous shade of pink. This is from a microscopic type of coral located in the reef off the coast of Bermuda; when it dies it washes up on shore and mixes with the sand that results in the pink shade Bermuda’s beaches are famous for. Keep your beach day leisurely while in port and go on a Bermuda shore excursion like the Horseshoe Bay Beach Transfer that conveniently takes you to Horseshoe Bay Beach, a scenic pink sand beach located on the south shore of Bermuda.
View Sea Life Through a Glass-Bottom Boat on Bermuda Shore Excursions
For those who want to see the underwater world of Bermuda, but don’t want to get all wet, a glass-bottom boat ride is a fun way to explore the ocean. Bermuda is an especially great place for this type of excursion because it’s home to a shipwreck just so placed on the ocean floor that it’s easy to view it through a glass-bottom boat.
You have a few different Bermuda shore excursion options for spending part of your day on a glass-bottom boat:
Fantasea Glass-Bottom and Sightseeing Cruise
This is a great option for visitors who want to do just the glass-bottom boat excursion and then still have time for other things in Bermuda like shopping in King’s Wharf or visiting a museum or other attraction before getting back on the ship. The Fantasea Glass-Bottom and Sightseeing Cruise shore excursion visits the shipwreck and sea grass beds where you might get lucky and see a sea turtle.
Bermuda Pirates Sunset Glass-Bottom Cocktail Cruise
If your cruise itinerary includes an evening to spend in port in King’s Wharf, this glass-bottom Bermuda shore excursion is a way to watch the ocean floor come to life at night. You’ll set sail at magic hour right before the sun sets and enjoy a cocktail as you take in the beautiful sky colors. As dusk settles in, your captain will turn on lights under the boat, illuminating the underwater world and giving you a chance to see marine life that typically only come out after dark, plus watch a fish feeding frenzy.
Bermuda Triangle Nightlife Glass-Bottom Cruise
This is another evening shore excursion that explores the ocean world at night. This shore excursion also visits the shipwreck, and the ship captain will regale you with stories surrounding the mysterious workings of the famed Bermuda Triangle. From your dry spot on board you’ll be able to watch for marine life and pretty coral as the glass-bottom ship’s underwater lights illuminate the ocean for your viewing pleasure.
Hike Along an Old Railroad Path
Hike along a trail that winds where an island train once chugged down railroad tracks on the Railway Trail Nature Hike shore excursion. The train route began operating in the early 1930s when cars weren’t allowed on the island so that visitors and locals could more easily get from one end to the other; however, the cost of maintaining it turned out to be too expensive and the railroad service shut down in 1947. In 2001, the government made the cleared land that once laid track to the railroad part of Bermuda’s National Park system and now it’s a great trail for hikers and bicyclists to explore Bermuda since it spans 18 miles with many entrance points around the island. If you like getting a workout in while exploring, this is an ideal Bermuda shore excursion for you.
A Bermuda Shore Excursion with a Glass Souvenir
If you want to get in touch with your artistic side while in Bermuda, do the Studio 8 Glass Class shore excursion, during which you’ll get to make jewelry or a sun catcher from hand-blown glass pieces. You’ll also get the chance to see local artisans show off their glass-blowing craft. This Bermuda shore excursion makes for a memorable souvenir as you’ll get to bring home what you make after it is fired in a 1,550-degree Fahrenheit kiln.
Fun side note: If you’re looking for more glass art entertainment, take a cruise on Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, or Celebrity Solstice: you can go to the Hot Glass Show located on the Lawn Club deck and watch demonstrations by professional glass blowers as they create amazing glass sculptures, vases, and other glass figurines, and then sign up for the Hot Glass Class and make your own glass souvenir.
Explore by Kayak on Bermuda Shore Excursions
Instead of exploring the coastline of the water on a typical catamaran shore excursion, don a life jacket, grab a paddle, and make your way around the island on a sporty kayak. On the Wild West Kayak Tour, you’ll be led around on kayak by your tour leader, who is an expert naturalist regarding the marine life and vegetation around Bermuda. You’ll get to paddle past small uninhabited islands and beautiful beaches with no one else around, plus see animals both above and below you as you keep an eye out for birds, fish, and other creatures that call Bermuda home.
Segway Your Way Around Historic Sites
If you haven’t tried using a Segway yet, your cruise to Bermuda is the time to do it.
On the Dockyard Segway Experience Bermuda shore excursion, you can visit Bermuda’s Royal Naval Dockyard, which is rich in history and cultural sights. Taking a high-tech 21st mode of transportation around the 19th century British colonial architecture and landmarks within the Royal Naval Dockyard will be a cool, unforgettable experience.
During your Segway tour you’ll see popular Royal Naval Dockyard sights such as the Clocktower Mall, Casemates Prison, Victualing Yard, Glassblowing and Rumcake Factory, Sail Loft, and more. And if you’ve never ridden a Segway before and think it looks a bit precarious, don’t worry – you’ll be trained on how to use it and practice riding it around before your official tour of the Royal Naval Dockyard begins.
White Attire and Colorful Sunset
If you’ve heard of those famous white pop-up dinners and have always thought that sounded fun, then you’ll love this offbeat catamaran cruise that encourages its guests to dress all in white and have a fun themed evening. Your boat captain on the White Night Catamaran Sail will tell you stories about Bermuda as you sip on rum cocktails or Champagne and watch the sunset. You’ll also get to see views of Bermuda from the water, providing an interesting setting to experience the gorgeous island.
Bermuda Shore Excursions to See Luxurious Mansions and Views
Another cool catamaran cruise you can do in Bermuda that has a dash of Hollywood glamour to it is the Famous Homes and Hideaway Cruise, which takes you to some of Bermuda’s hidden spots and luxurious mansions. You’ll visit Millionaire’s Row and see the homes of famous celebrities, including the home of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Along with seeing famous estates, you’ll get to view pretty parts of the Bermuda coastline that’s not as easily accessible on land.
Caves and Flamingoes on Bermuda Shore Excursions
Bet you didn’t think you’d be able to visit a lake in Bermuda…make that an underground lake. But that’s exactly what you’ll find on the Aquarium and Crystal Caves Bermuda shore excursion that takes you to Crystal Caves. Discovered in the early 1900s by two local teenagers during a game of cricket, Crystal Caves is an awe-inspiring natural wonder to behold. You’ll descend into the cave and cross a bridge that is built over the lake while stalactites hang from the ceiling, making you feel like you’ve entered another world.
In addition to the cave, this shore excursion also includes a visit to Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo where you’ll learn more about the animals of Bermuda, both in the water and on land, a highlight of which is viewing the famous pink flamingoes on its premises.
Tea Time on Bermuda
Experience Bermuda’s English colonial past in a fun, unique way by having an English tea party while in Bermuda. Before your spot of tea you’ll get a guided tour of the island that will take you through parts of it that are rich in history. You’ll visit the 17th century Heydon Trust Chapel and also have time to marvel at the charming Somerset Bridge, which is said to be the smallest drawbridge in the world. Your guided excursion of the island will also include stops at scenic viewpoints where you can take photos of the rugged coastline spreading out below you and get a great view of the island’s famous pink sand beaches.
After your tour of Bermuda, you’ll make a stop at Coco Reef Hotel for an afternoon tea experience. Feast on scrumptious scones, tea sandwiches, and cakes, and sip some soothing tea from a classy teacup. You’ll quickly see why this fun and offbeat Bermuda shore excursion is called Bermuda Tea Party.
Farm to Table with a Celebrity Chef
This shore excursion is an excellent one for foodies who want a one-of-a-kind experience that has a focus on Bermuda cuisine and dining culture. On the Home-Grown Cooking and Cuisine Tour with Chef Bryan Voltaggio shore excursion, you’ll learn about just that while touring the island and having time with Chef Voltaggio, who is a James Beard Award-nominee and was on the hit TV show, Top Chef.
This savory shore excursion will whisk you away to the countryside of Bermuda where you’ll spend time on Bermuda’s only organic farm. You’ll meet with the farm’s owner who will teach you about the farm and give you a tour of the greenhouses and animal housing on it. Then you’ll depart that property and be off to a cooking demonstration and lesson at Bermuda College. You’ll be taught about Bermuda cuisine and shown how to make some of it by Chef Voltaggio plus a renowned Bermudian chef. The two chefs will make different dishes and you’ll get to try their creations. It’s a fun way to discover the local flavors of Bermuda’s culinary scene.
Hamilton Train Tour and BUEI Museum
Getting around by a bus or car will seem boring after you get a look at the cute little train tour offered by the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI). Learn more about Bermuda as you chug around on the red train to some of the most popular sites in Hamilton while hearing about its history.
In addition to the train ride, you’ll get admission to BUEI as part of the Hamilton Train Tour and BUEI Museum excursion. Tour this amazing institute and marvel at the largest shell collection in the world and other sea exhibits plus have some excitement in simulators that make you feel like you’re cage diving with great white sharks or diving to the ocean floor. People of all ages will enjoy walking around BUEI thanks to its wealth of information and interactive displays.
Budget Friendly Bermuda Shore Excursion to See it All
See all of the sights that make Bermuda special and a one-of-a-kind destination on a shore excursion that takes you around practically the entire island plus provides you with free time so you can create your own offbeat adventures in Bermuda. One Bermuda shore excursion that lets you achieve this is the Bermuda Island Drive By Mini-Bus.
This shore excursion is five hours long, making it a great value for cruisers who want to experience and see as much of Bermuda as possible while in port, but don’t want to have to hire a private driver. You’ll be with a small group of only 12 or 20 other passengers and get a guided tour of some of the island’s top sites. See Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Somerset Bridge, St. George’s and its UNESCO sights, the city of Hamilton, and pink sand beaches, plus also stop at scenic viewpoints.
Port of Call: Navigating Italy’s Cinque Terre
When the ship docks, a crowd-dodging plan is key in these coastal Italian postcard villages.
Briny sea breezes carry the scent of sun-warmed lemons and fresh basil along the Riviera di Levante on Italy’s northwestern coast. A favorite holiday destination, this 80-mile stretch of the Italian Riviera begins east of Genoa and ends just beyond the Gulf of La Spezia, also known as the “Poets’ Gulf,” for the number of writers its beauty has inspired. This warm-weather paradise, which I’ve called home for more than a decade, is now a popular cruise destination due to its proximity to the Cinque Terre, five ancient fishing villages perched amid wave-battered cliffs on a rugged stretch of coastline. A UNESCO World Heritage site and fragile natural treasure, the Cinque Terre is largely car-free, but easily accessible by train or boat, and on foot. To avoid the tourist crowds and delve deeper into this fascinating region, arrive with a strategy and sturdy sneakers. An extensive network of hiking trails links the villages, while ferries ply the glittering coastal waters, making for an easy day of outdoor exploring from smaller Portovenere or La Spezia, where larger ships dock.
Whether you arrive by boat or train, make Vernazza your first Cinque Terre stop. Arguably the most beautiful of the five villages, it fills early with day-tripping visitors, so enjoy the morning calm on a stroll through the narrow lanes and arched porticoes, past the lemon-hued church, and along the tiny harbor, where bobbing turquoise-and-white dinghies line the stone quay. Sip a cappuccino on the seaside piazza, or join tanned retirees wading into the crystal-clear water for their first swim of the day. Then climb the narrow staircase up to Castello Doria, an ancient seaside fortification with spectacular coastal views.
Fill a water bottle before leaving the tourist masses behind for the two-mile hike from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost Cinque Terre town, along the popular Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail). The ascent is moderately strenuous along a dusty trail, but your effort will be rewarded with stunning bird’s-eye views of Vernazza. Continue through the lush landscape, past citrus groves and terraced vineyards equipped with rickety monorail cars that haul the handpicked harvest up vertiginously steep slopes. After a hike of about an hour and a half, Monterosso will come into view.
A promontory divides Monterosso, the Cinque Terre’s largest town, into two parts, old and new. Begin exploring the Old Town, nestled between green hills, with its multicolored houses, pebbled beach, and medieval carruggi (ultra-narrow alleys). Stop at Focacceria Il Frantoio for a snack of pan fritto (fried pizza dough stuffed with cheese), then admire a collection of artworks that include a van Dyck painting inside the bluff-top monastery. A tunnel leads to the newer part of town, known as Fegina, where rows of sun loungers and colorful parasols line the long sand-and- pebble beach. Cool off with a gelato or a dip in the Mediterranean, then join locals taking a relaxed passeggiata along the beach-side promenade.
The most pleasurable way to see the Cinque Terre is from the water. Whether aboard a private yacht or public ferry, the views are the same: stupendous. The easiest route is to hop on the hourly ferry departing from the quay beside Monterosso’s Old Town (look for signs for Consorzio Marittimo Turistico), and sail down the coast admiring the unparalleled panorama of postage-stamp-size villages tucked amid sheer cliffs. Along the way, spy hidden coves, lone hilltop chapels, acres of olive trees, and vineyards climbing the hillsides. Admire Vernazza from new angles, spotting the hilltop town of Corniglia (the only Cinque Terre town without a harbor), before arriving in Manarola.
Alight in Manarola for an afternoon aperitivo at Nessun Dorma, a clifftop café that serves spritzes in an outdoor garden overlooking the town harbor and its cluster of pastel houses perched above the turquoise sea. If you’re eager to tick off one more village, take the train a stop south to Riomaggiore and climb the steep steps above the station to A Pié de Ma, a wine bar situated on rocks jutting above the water, where you can sip rare natural wines from local producer Walter De Battè on the terrace as waves swirl and crash below.
As charming as any of its northern neighbors, Portovenere deserves a detour for its impressive historic sights, including the hilltop Castello Doria; the striped, twelfth-century Chiesa di San Pietro; and a wave-battered grotto dedicated to the English poet (and legendary swimmer) Lord Byron. Those returning to ships in La Spezia should head into the city center for farinata, a thin, pancakelike local specialty made from chickpeas. At La Pia Centenaria, a farinata specialist since 1887, giant copper pans pulled from the wood-fired oven yield pancakes that are sliced for take-away orders; try the savory version slathered with pesto or creamy stracchino cheese.
This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Virtuoso Life. Written by Ingrid K. Williams