Category: Small Ship Cruising

Regent Seven Seas Cruises® to Debut New Serene Spa & Wellness™ Fleetwide

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A new experience in travel wellness, Regent guests will enhance their voyage with exclusive, destination-inspired spa treatments, rejuvenating fitness classes, nutritionally balanced cuisine and wellness tours as they journey around the world

Serene Spa & Wellness™, originally designed to perfect luxury on board Seven Seas Splendor™, will launch fleetwide ahead of Seven Seas Splendor’s maiden voyage

On October 1, 2019 Regent Seven Seas Cruises®, the world’s leading luxury ocean cruise line, announced they are introducing a new globally inspired spa brand that will debut across its five-ship fleet this winter. Serene Spa & Wellness™ will offer exclusive treatments integrating techniques and ingredients from destinations around the world, creating a tranquil haven of health, beauty and wellness that offers restorative treatments and services to soothe both the body and mind.

The groundbreaking menu of services reflects treatments originating from many of the 450 destinations to which the cruise line sails, and includes globally renowned ELEMIS facial therapies, body treatments, massages, manicures, pedicures, luxury Kérastase salon services, fitness classes, and personal training, plus a series of wellness tours and nutritionally mindful cuisine selections served in restaurants on board.

“Regent is deeply inspired by the peace and serenity that can be found in every region of our globe, and we are bringing the beautiful traditions and tried-and-true techniques of the world’s cultures into the exclusive experiences of Serene Spa & Wellness™ through spa treatments, cuisine and captivating shore excursions,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “We originally developed this innovative experience for Seven Seas Splendor™ in our pursuit to perfect luxury for our newest ship, and then decided to expand Serene Spa & Wellness™ for guests to embark on a global journey of relaxation on all Regent ships. Serene Spa & Wellness™ will set a new benchmark in luxury spas at sea.”

Experience the best of destination-inspired body and beauty treatments

Serene Spa & Wellness™ integrates globally sourced, natural ingredients that promote health and balance for the body, mind and spirit. In addition to traditional spa services, examples of globally inspired techniques and treatments offered exclusively at Serene Spa & Wellness™ on Regent Seven Seas Cruises include:

  • The Regent Massage. (Destination Inspiration: Sea Buckthorn from the Mediterranean coast)
    This bespoke full-body therapy features a synergy of rosemary, sea fennel and sea buckthorn from the Mediterranean coastlines worked into areas of tension to ease and soothe muscles while helping to detoxify. Warm eucalyptus-infused paraffin mitts and boots enhance this signature experience, deeply nourishing and hydrating hands and feet.
  • Around The World Massage. (Destination Inspirations: Basalt from China, Coconut Poultice from Caribbean, Bamboo from Asia)
    Fusing techniques from the corners of the world, this choreographed therapy is one of optimal wellness: the earthly scents of Indian cardamom, Egyptian coriander and eucalyptus soothe the mind; Swedish massage movements work freely throughout the body to relax; volcanic rocks release muscle tension and stagnant energy in the legs; bamboo stalks glide over muscles to deeply alleviate discomfort; warmed coconut poultices are delicately worked over the face, neck and shoulders; and argan oil from Morocco conditions the scalp.
  • Sea Lavender & Samphire Body Polish. (Destination Inspiration: Samphire from Northern Europe)
    Hydrate skin with a nourishing, exfoliation duo. Nutrient-rich extracts from sea lavender and samphire smooth parched, dry skin cells while a moisturizing milk of macadamia nut and sea salt moisturize to allow a thirsty skin to replenish. This lavish body experience includes half or full-body massage.
  • Deep Sea Heat Mask & Massage. (Destination Inspiration: Bladderwrack Seaweed from Baltic Coast)
    Recharge your body with a detoxifying treatment designed to alleviate deep-seated tension and muscular distress. Rich in minerals and trace elements, an aromatic, warm mask with potent algae from the Baltic Sea is applied on to the back to release tension and ease aches and pains while a back or full-body massage relaxes the body.
  • Calming Rose Facial. (Destination Inspiration: Hand-picked Organic English Roses from the United Kingdom)
    Comfort sensitive skin with a natural blend of delicate rose absolute to intensely hydrate the dermis. Luxuriously indulgent, precious rose extracts smooth fine lines, strengthening and protecting the skin’s barrier. A warm rose balm is massaged onto the hands and arms to induce relaxation. Skin is left feeling soothed and replenished with a petal softness.
  • Kérastase® Elixir Ultime 24-Carat Indulgent Ritual. (Destination Inspiration: Rose from Morocco)
    This indulgent hair ritual nourishes, protects and instantly restores hair. Relax with the aromatic scent of rose during a luxurious treatment in which camellia and marula oils and white tea extracts are massaged deep into the scalp. This highly concentrated experience provides a sublime transformation, leaving hair silky, weightless and beautiful.
  • Regent Manicure and Pedicure. (Destination Inspiration: Frangipani from the South Pacific)
    Hands and feet are soaked in a hydrating milk protein while a vitamin-rich oil strengthens nails and cuticles. Warmed frangipani oil is massaged to further replenish moisture. Includes filing, cuticles and polish.

Ask one of our Cruise Specialists for a full menu of treatments is available

 

Focusing on holistic wellness, both on ship and on shore
Serene Spa & Wellness™ services extend beyond the physical spa venue:

  • Fitness experts at Fitness by Serene Spa & Wellness™ lead popular exercise classes, such as Pilates, yoga and meditation and are available to offer advice and demonstrate the use of fitness equipment.
    Equipment includes spinning bikes, dumbbells, treadmills, Technogym® strength machines, workout mats and step benches. One-on-one training can be arranged with a fitness instructor.
  • Savor the best of world cuisine with Serene Spa & Wellness™ Selections in many restaurants on board. Drawn from a globally inspired approach to healthy living, these culinary dishes are as flavorful as they are nutritious. An extensive array of innovative options is available in restaurants across Regent’s fleet, featuring exquisite dishes influenced by a myriad of global fares including delectable plant-based cuisine.
  • Serene Spa & Wellness™ Tours offer curated shore excursions designed to enhance wellness through immersive experiences. Soak in a restorative, mineral-rich thermal spring in Rome or experience a taiji (tai chi) class on a beautiful and serene beach on Palma de Mallorca. Guests can refresh with a Mediterranean breeze as they calm their mind and strengthen their focus through a yoga class overlooking the seaside town of Taormina.
  • Experience the healing, detoxifying and tension-releasing power of the European-inspired Serene Spa & Wellness™ Hydrothermal Suite, exclusive to Seven Seas Splendor™ and Seven Seas Explorer®. Relax before or after spa treatments and enjoy Regent’s multisensory aromatherapy steam room, chill room, infrared sauna and experiential showers.

 

Serene Spa & Wellness™ opening schedule
Serene Spa & Wellness™ will launch on each Regent ship during these voyages:

Seven Seas Explorer® – Dec. 7, 2019 voyage
Seven Seas Mariner® – Jan. 6, 2020 voyage
Seven Seas Voyager® – Jan. 7, 2020 voyage
Seven Seas Navigator® – Jan. 23, 2020 voyage
Seven Seas Splendor™ – Feb. 6, 2020 voyage

Dining aboard The Paul Gauguin

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During every meal onboard The Gauguin, with every sumptuous bit you sample, and each time our attentive staff fill your glass, you’ll begin to realize that dining on the high seas with Paul Gauguin Cruises is truly something special. Embark upon a five-star culinary adventure, designed just for you by some of the world’s most talented and award-winning chefs, including Jean-Pierre Vigato. What’s more, every one of the onboard dining options is included in your cruise fare. Bon appétit!

La Veranda
Dine al fresco or enjoy wraparound ocean views from the dining room of La Veranda, where you can find an ever-changing selection of buffet breakfast and lunch items and a la carte options, many of which are inspired by the destinations visited. In the evening, La Veranda is transformed to a reservation-only dining venue serving Jean-Pierre Vigato’s gourmet cuisine.

Le Grill
When your day’s plans call for a more casual dining experience, Le Grill is where you’ll want to go, located by the pool and offering a buffet breakfast, grilled lunch favorites, salads, and fresh tropical fruit. In the afternoon, stop by for tea with finger sandwiches, fresh fruit, desserts, pastries, and petit fours. Return in the evening to sample Polynesian specialties in a relaxed atmosphere. Reservations required for dinner.

L’Etoile
The exquisite main dining room is dressed to impress with perfectly appointed décor, fine table linens, and delicate china. Join fellow cruisers every evening for dinner and sample a tantalizing array of expertly prepared dishes, perfectly paired with complimentary wines.

Wine Program
Paul Gauguin Cruises serves complimentary wines in each dining venue, lounge, and bar which are selected by wine sommeliers. Additionally, The Gauguin features a special Connoisseur Wine List with Champagnes from France and a variety of wines from California, Washington, Oregon, France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, and Chile which can be purchased by guests by the bottle.

Wine Pairings
The Gauguin’s sommeliers also provide suggestions for food and wine pairings to enrich and enhance dining experiences. Paul Gauguin Cruises also features winemakers who provide educational lectures and wine tastings on select sailings.

Star Breeze in Portoferrario

Windstar Cruises Cuts Star Breeze in Half

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Windstar Cruises has reached a huge milestone in their $250 Million Star Plus Initiative! Star Breeze is at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy, and was cut in half in preparation for the insertion of a new block! This transformation includes a new eclectic Spanish restaurant Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso, the new alfresco Star Grill by Steven Raichlen, an elevated pool, and a new spa and fitness center. In future voyages you’ll discover thoughtful re-imagined enhancements throughout all suites, including new bathrooms.

The slightly larger ships and new enhancements will significantly build upon the signature onboard environment Windstar is known for. The social and friendly public spaces on the ships create a welcome chemistry between guests and the crew. This is the first of three new mid-ship sections to be constructed and inserted as part of Windstar’s $250 Million Star Plus Initiative, which is committed to the expansion and transformation of the cruise line’s three Star Class vessels.

Be one of the first to experience these new features in person during the inaugural Star Breeze Caribbean cruise, Colors of Key West & Central America, departing from Miami on March 20, 2020!

 

Silversea Arctic Experience Offers

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Take the plunge and travel into one of the most enigmatic regions on Earth. Mountains of ice calve gracefully while seals, sea birds and of course the mighty Polar Bear search for food in this frozen wonderland. Dreamlike, beautifully bleak, yet bursting with energy both above and below sea-level, hike upon tundra and sail amidst fjords – after all, this is the land of the midnight sun so anything is possible. A must for any modern traveller, Silversea Expeditions allows you to explore the Arctic Circle with expert guides in comfort and class. Making way for you to have a truly memorable experience.

 

Take advantage of one or more of these special offers and connect with an Cruise Specialist to start you on your planning journey.

Arctic Air Offer: Book by September 30, 2019 and enjoy Reduced Airfares in Business Class or Free Economy Class Airfares + Free Pre-Cruise Hotel, 1 Day Use Post-Cruise Hotel &Transfers + Free In-Country Flights (if required) + Free Shore Excursions

Early Booking Bonus: Book and pay in full by October 31, 2019 and save 10% on select departures

Family Cruise Savings: Guests under the age of 18 receive 50% or more savings depending on their age when travelling with two full paying guests on select voyages.

 

Arctic Sailings – all promotions may not apply to all sailings 

Silver Cloud Expedition June 10, 2020 – 11 days from Reykjavik to Longtearbyen
Silver Cloud Expedition June 21, 2020 – 9 days from Longyearbyen to Tromso
Silver Cloud Expedition June 30, 2020 – 9 days from Tromso to Longyearbyen
Silver Cloud Expedition July 09, 2020 – 11 days from Longyearbyen to Reykjavik
Silver Cloud Expedition July 20, 2020 – 16 days from Reykjavik to Churchill (Manitoba)
Silver Cloud Expedition August 05, 2020 – 16 days from Churchill to Kangerlussuaq
Silver Cloud Expedition August 21, 2020 – 24 days from Kangerlussuaq to Nome (Alaska)

Silver Explorer Expedition September 17, 2020 – 14 days from Tromso to Reykjavik
Silver Explorer Expedition October 01, 2020 – 13 days from Reykjavik to Halifax

 

Ask about Venetian Society Savings of 5% on select voyages

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

Recipe: Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

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This quintessential Thai chicken coconut soup is a deliciously aromatic accompaniment to any meal with an Asian flair or a complete meal on its own. This soup is served in Red Ginger, Oceania Cruises Asian restaurant on board, and you can learn this recipe and other Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese favorites from this restaurant during their “Most Requested Red Ginger” class at The Culinary Center on Marina and Riviera.

According to Chef Kathryn Kelly, Executive Chef & Director of Culinary Enrichment, Thai cuisine is best characterized as complex, balanced, fresh and spicy – and this classic chicken and coconut soup brings that description to life with fresh lemongrass, lime juice, coconut milk, Thai chilies and galangal – which is also known as Thai ginger and is in the ginger family, but the flavor is markedly more citrusy and earthy.

 

Serves 6

16 cups low-sodium chicken stock
3 stalks lemongrass, mashed
1 cup coarsely chopped galangal
8 kaffir lime leaves
2 Thai chilies
6 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 cups straw mushroom pieces
18 cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of 3 to 5 limes
18 cilantro leaves

In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine the chicken stock, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and chilies and simmer until the stock reduces by half, about 1½ to 2 hours. Decrease the heat to low, add the chicken and poach to an internal temperature of 165°F/74°C. Remove the chicken, let cool and shred. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.

Return the stock to the stockpot over medium heat, reheat the stock and add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Divide the shredded chicken, mushroom pieces and cherry tomatoes among 6 bowls. Just before serving, stir the lime juice into the stock, adjusting the amount to taste. Divide the stock among the bowls, garnish each with cilantro leaves and enjoy!

Gentoo penguin in Antarctica

Explore Antarctica with Lindblad Expeditions

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Active, immersive expedition travel
Explore Antarctica in expedition style, aboard an authentic expedition ship is an incomparable experience and your guarantee of an in-depth encounter with all its wonders. Lindblad Expedition’s pioneering polar heritage and 50 years of experience navigating polar geographies is your assurance of safe passage in one of the wildest sectors of the planet. Lindblads veteran polar expedition team enables you to:

~ See more of the legendary landscapes and habitats
~ Encounter iconic penguins, leopard seals, and marine mammals
~ Kayak among icebergs, Zodiac cruise past resting leopard seals, and hike on the continent with the best ice team on Earth
~ Experience the seldom-seen Antarctic undersea, too––through the efforts of our undersea specialist
~ Benefit from our 175 collective years of Lindblad-National Geographic expedition experience to see and do all you came for and more


Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

14 days with Expeditions departing in January, February, November and December 2020
From US $14,680 to US $35,330 p.p.
NG Explorer – 148 Guests | NG Orion – 102 Guests

Special Offers
FREE AIRFARE | Book select departures by December 31, 2019 for free round-trip economy group airfare between Miami and Buenos Aires (or Santiago).

FREE BAR TAB AND CREW TIPS INCLUDED | We will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion voyages.

 

 

Have up-close, personal penguin encounters
Travel with virtually any company to Antarctica, and you will see penguins. They are the citizens of the white continent, present in astounding numbers, and endlessly fascinating. Travel with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, however, and you’ll travel equipped for up-close, personal encounters—with a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks to enable you to get closer. And a team of engaging experts that enable you to spend more time enjoying penguin society, and understand more of the adaptations that enable these remarkable animals to survive their environment.

Take advantage of all the superb photo ops
You’ll have a National Geographic photographer as your traveling companion, to inspire you and provide tips in the field. And the services of a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, as well—to help you turn your point-and-shoot camera into an “aim and create.” You’ll find no end of subjects and the help you need to return home with your best photos ever.

Every day is active and engaging
You’ll get out on adventures every day we’re in Antarctica, sometimes twice a day—to walk or hike, kayak or Zodiac cruise among the bergs. Because National Geographic Explorer has a fleet of both Zodiacs and kayaks, the entire expedition community can embark at once on forays, no waiting around for returning parties. You’ll have a choice of activities each day, and the option to join the naturalist whose interests mirror yours. Choice also includes opting to enjoy the view from the bridge, the all-glass observation lounge, the library or the chart room. To visit the fitness center with its panoramic windows, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the wellness center.

Travel in excellent company
Journey to Antarctica under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, plus a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, an undersea specialist, a Global Perspectives guest speaker, a video chronicler, and a wellness specialist. Their knowledge and passion for Antarctica is the key to your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

ITINERARY

DAY 1: Fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion)
Depart this evening on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion).

DAY 2: Overnight Hotel in Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion)
Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer arrive this morning in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, set on the Rio de la Plata, and check in to the fine Alvear Art Hotel (or similar). In the afternoon, we have a guided overview of the city, seeing its Beaux Arts palaces, grand boulevards, and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron. In the early evening we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel. (Day 2: L)

Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Orion arrive today in Santiago. We check in to the fine Mandarin Oriental (or similar), centrally located in Santiago, and have the morning to relax. Santiago is nearly surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop to our afternoon guided overview of this vibrant city. We explore the Plaza de Armas, the main square, and nearby Presidential Palace, enjoying wonderful views from the many hills that dot the city. In the early evening we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel. (Day 2: L)

DAY 3: Fly to Ushuaia, Argentina/Embark Ship
Today we fly by private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer will from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Ushuaia to embark the Explorer; and guests traveling aboard National Geographic Orion will fly from Santiago, Chile to Ushuaia to embark the Orion. This morning’s charter flight will bring us over Patagonia before landing in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. If the weather is fine, you’ll have a chance to view the spectacular mountains rising out of the Beagle Channel as you enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise. Then, you’ll embark the expedition ship and set sail, (B,L,D)

DAY 4: At Sea
We awake this morning well into our journey across the Drake Passage. Lying between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake holds a unique place in maritime lore. Sometimes misty and gray, other times calm and clear, crossing the legendary Drake Passage is unforgettable—a milestone in any adventurer’s personal travel history. (B,L,D)

DAY 5-10: Antarctica
With nearly 24 hours of daylight, we make the most of our days, keeping a flexible schedule to take advantage of the unexpected — perhaps watching a 40-ton whale surface off the bow. We are out daily. One day, you may take a Zodiac foray amid towering bergs under a bright sun, walk along the shoreline amid a huge penguin colony, hike to a summit for a breathtaking view, or kayak along a cliff-side rookery in search of blue-eyed shags. And the next, you’ll have the thrill of watching the ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to the cries of thousands of gentoo penguins. You’ll learn from our experts how to identify penguins and get photo tips from a National Geographic photographer while watching those same penguins. Back aboard, our Undersea Specialist may present video from that day’s dive — rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn more, see more and experience more. (B,L,D)

DAY 11-12: At Sea
As we sail back to Ushuaia, an albatross or two may join the avian escort of seabirds that cross our bow, and our spotters will keep an eye out for marine life. There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy a wellness treatment, log some time in the gym, or catch up on the book you haven’t had a minute to read. Talks from our staff will reflect on all you have seen and learned.(B,L,D)

DAY 13-14: Disembark Ushuaia/Fly to Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion)/Home
After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia with some time to explore before proceeding to the airport for our LAN charter flight (guests on Explorer fly Ushuaia to Buenos Aires; guests on Orion fly Ushuaia to Santiago.) Please confirm departure and arrival cities with an Expedition Specialist before booking your flights. (Day 13: B,L)

 

Connect with a cruise specialist and check this incredible experience off your bucket list! 

 

 

Photo: Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) parent with two downy chicks on Pleneau Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula.
Copyright: Michael S. Nolan
Oceania Recipe

Recipe: Watermelon Gazpacho

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 335 0

A sweet twist on the Spanish classic, this watermelon gazpacho recipe is perfect for hot summer days and dinners on the patio. The delicate sweetness of watermelon is the perfect complement to savory tomatoes and avocado and spicy serrano pepper in this refreshing recipe. For an extra boost of flavor, try replacing olive oil with our special basil oil, recipe also below.

WATERMELON GAZPACHO – MAKES 4 CUPS

1 onion, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper
1 serrano pepper
1 head garlic, roasted, peeled and mashed
3 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup diced watermelon
1 English cucumber, peeled
Flesh of 2 avocados
8 ounces spicy vegetable juice, preferably V8
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or Basil Oil (see recipe below), plus more for garnish

 

Heat an outdoor or indoor grill to high and grill the onion and peppers until charred and softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, cover and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Stem, seed and skin the peppers.

In a blender, pulse the grilled vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, avocados, vegetable juice, lime juice and vinegar until blended to a paste. With the blender running on low speed, slowly add the oil in a thin, steady stream, blending until the soup is creamy. Add cold filtered water as needed to adjust the consistency.

Chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Serve slightly chilled with a drizzle of basil oil.

 

BASIL OIL – MAKES 2 CUPS

4 cups tightly packed basil leaves
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Place the basil in a strainer and blanch it in the boiling water for about 10 seconds. Transfer the strainer of basil to the ice water, swishing the basil in the water to ensure it is well chilled. Remove the strainer of basil from the water and squeeze the basil gently to release excess water. Chop the basil.

In a blender, combine the chopped basil, olive oil and salt. Blend until the basil is pureed and the mixture is frothy. Let rest for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, pressing gently to separate the oil from the solids.

 

 

Jul 19, 2019 – Posted by Oceania Cruises in Recipes and can be found here

Travelling with Kids on the m/s Paul Gauguin

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A model on a Paul Gauguin Cruises photo shoot, Elke enjoyed her shipboard experience so much, she returned as a guest—twice. She shares some of the moments that made the voyages so special for her now 11-year-old son.

What comes to mind for you when you think of French Polynesia? Visions of stilted bungalows nestled over the crystal-clear waters of Bora Bora and Moorea? Honeymooners holding hands and strolling under swaying palm trees? For me, it’s the image of my son frolicking in sun-warmed waters, giggling, with a huge smile on his face. As a seasoned traveler, I’m always surprised when people tell me, “We always leave our kids at home when we take a vacation.” I get that couple time is important. To me, though, the amazing life lessons kids learn from travel and the enrichment they receive from local culture stay with them for a lifetime and shape who they become as adults. So, for me, the question is: why wouldn’t you take your kids?

My husband, son, and I have taken the 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin twice, and to me, The Gauguin is truly the best way to experience French Polynesia as a family. So many choices filled each day! The only question is: where to begin? I think the easiest way to way to explain how wonderful French Polynesia and The Gauguin are for families is to describe our experiences and adventures in each port.

Huahine

My son loves history, and Huahine is a great first stop to take in the history of French Polynesia! Starting from the port town of Maroe, we took a tour around the island. From the dock, we stopped at Fare, a sleepy fishing village, where you can see the mountain whose ridge gave the island its name (literally, pregnant woman). At Maeva, there is Fare Pote’e, a replica of an open, traditional house that is a museum with historical and cultural information. Fare was the seat of local power for the island, so there are a host of marae (religious sites built from stone) scattered along the shoreline. This stop was very interesting to my son and transported us back in time to how life was lived here so many moons ago.

If you are interested in how pearls or vanilla are produced, you can easily visit farms for each here and be amazed by their elaborate production processes. My son was fascinated by both! The small boat ride out to the pearl farm was also a lot of fun.

Another stop that fascinated him was our visit to Faie, where you can see and even feed sardines to Huahine’s famous and sacred blue-eyed eels. My son was mesmerized by these friendly and curious creatures swimming around his feet.

Motu Mahana

French Polynesia is a water playground for all ages because of its calm waters, beautiful sandy beaches, and gently sloping shores. Motu Mahana, The Gauguin’s private islet, is just the place to dip in and enjoy some great snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming. Or you can just lounge on the sandbar or build a sand castle. My son gladly participated in all the motu has to offer! Throughout the day, The Gauguin’s troupe of Tahitian ambassadors, Les Gauguines and Les Gauguin, provided entertainment, demonstrations, and storytelling. The fascinating legend of how the coconut tree came to be was one that children and adults could enjoy equally. And everyone gets a fresh coconut to drink from while lounging under the dappled shade of coconut trees. What could be better or tastier than that?

Bora Bora

When we were on Bora Bora, my son the history buff appreciated the stories of World War II and how Bora Bora played a strategic role in the conflict.

And here’s something else he appreciated about Bora Bora: the beautiful coral reefs that make the island an ideal place to snorkel and dive. The Gauguin offers an onboard Discover SCUBA Diving class that can count toward PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification. My son took the class on both voyages so that we could all dive together as a family. The ship’s dive team is very knowledgeable, nice, and thorough, and they put my son right at ease.

Bora Bora and Moorea both have wonderful shallow dive sites for beginners (under 30 feet) where beautiful coral and fish are abundant. The clarity is wonderful to the point that you forget you are underwater! I think I have hundreds of pictures of my son giving me underwater OK and hang-ten hand signals, he enjoyed it so much. He especially loved the blacktip sharks, giant turtles, slews of colorful fish, dynamic coral, little underwater Christmas trees, and blue-lipped clams that closed up as if by magic when he waved his hand over them.

The Gauguin also has a private beach on Bora Bora—a restful spot to lounge in shallow waters with Mount Otemanu in the background. My son played a little trick on me with a coconut that looked like an eel coming out of the water. I guess he WAS paying attention when Les Gauguines told the Polynesian legend of a prince becoming the first coconut tree. If you look at a coconut shell, it really does look like an eel’s face. Uncanny!

Moorea

Moorea was our favorite island! In fact, we loved it so much, we spent another week there both times after our cruises. We loved visiting the little idyllic motus and snorkeling until our fingers and toes turned into little prunes, which was forever since the water is so warm. My son spent so much time underwater petting the gentle and graceful rays. And what little boy wouldn’t be over the moon to be face to face with blacktip sharks? He definitely had some interesting and adventurous stories to tell his buddies back home!

On our last trip to Moorea, we kayaked out to a little motu and gathered little hermit crabs along the beach and had hermit crab races, ending in a rainbow over the water. Great memories!

By land, make sure you make it up to the Belvedere lookout point, where there are lush and gorgeous vistas of Opunohu and Cook’s Bays and Mt. Rotui. Just before you get there, you can stop at Marae Titiroa to wander among the many preserved marae platforms linked by a walking track. My son loved this trek through the cool dense forest of chestnut trees that shelters these pieces of history. There are lots of signs marking and explaining everything, and the trail is easy for families to follow. The archery platform was his favorite.

Tahiti

Shopping. Shopping. Shopping. Need I say more? My son, the little shopper, loved le Marche de Pape’ete to buy friends, family, and himself beautiful black pearl and shell jewelry, monoi (coconut oils) and fragrant tiare soaps, and colorful island-y trinkets.

Aboard ship

Of course, you don’t have to be visiting an island to have a great time! Life aboard ship fleshed out the experience for our family. On each voyage, we were blown away by the kindness of the ship’s crew and how especially sweet they were to my son—always joking with him and genuinely looking after him. I don’t think there was a staff member who didn’t know my son’s name and what he liked to eat and drink.

Their attention to detail is simply incredible. My son has a severe peanut allergy, which can be very stressful when you’re eating out, especially when you’re abroad. Hernie from the dining staff went way beyond the call of duty to make sure my son was safe AND enjoyed the amazing culinary creations on board. My son has broadened his palate, developing a taste for pâté and brie with baguettes, and he ate desserts with abandon. We definitely all tipped the scales a little heavier when we departed the ship!

There’s a lot more to life aboard than just the gourmet-quality local and French foods. We enjoyed interesting lectures about the history, culture, and the environment of the region by very knowledgeable speakers. My son loves the ocean and was very interested in hearing about coral reef restoration by one of the lecturers. We also learned local stories and legends and listened to beautiful songs sung by Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins along the way.

My son and I also had so much fun immersing ourselves in creating crafts with local materials, making several different types of bracelets (shell bracelets, local bean bracelets, and textile bracelets), hand-painted bookmarks and postcards on tapas (paper made from hibiscus bark), and leis (fragrant floral necklaces) with the local mamas of Moorea.

You can also go on land/sea excursions—or simply relax and take in the natural beauty of the lush green islands surrounding you, as you listen to Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins strumming ukuleles as you sit on the pool deck or paddle around the pool.

My son made a friend on board, and we found that our voyage gave us a good mix of family and new-friend time.

It was with heavy hearts that we departed the ship. My son loved The Gauguin, the ports, the activities, and the crew so very much! The amazing people and places we visited linger in our hearts and minds with the melody of the islands, and we are all forever changed as a family by our experiences there. So, yes … definitely take your kids on a trip of a lifetime!

 

 

Post c/o the Paul Gauguin Cruises Blog April 12 2019
Original content can be found here

Paul Gauguin Private Island

Posted By : Sandie Harman/ 0 0

I have cruised on the Paul Gauguin twice.  The first time was a 7 night Society Island itinerary and the second time was a 10 night Society Island and Tuamotus itinerary.  I preferred the 10 night itinerary, it allows you to time to visit and explore the beautiful Tuamotus islands.   One of the stops on either itinerary is Paul Gauguin’s private island.  It is a wonderful relaxing day spent sitting under palm trees.

If you’d like a drink no problem, wade into water to their floating bar where Le Gauguins will be happy to mix you up an ice cold beverage of your choice.   Lunch is served on the island.  If you want to work off a few of the calories you consumed during lunch you can take out the complimentary kayaks or snorkel in the crystal clear water.  It is truly a day spent in paradise!

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