Category: Small Ship Cruising

Silver Origin

New Silver Origin to Sail the Galapagos

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 616 0

Silversea Cruises will open their newest luxury expedition ship for bookings on July 16, 2019. The new Silver Origin, has been designed entirely for the Galapagos t oimmerse you, the luxury guest, into the destination.

Starting on July 16, 2019, travellers will be able to reserve their suites aboard Silversea’s new ship, Silver Origin, which has been designed entirely with the Galapagos Islands in mind and will be the most elegant ship to ever sail the region when it launches in summer 2020. The all-suite, 100-guest Silver Origin will embark on her maiden voyage in July 2020, unlocking the authentic beauty of the Galapagos by connecting guests with the destination through immersive experiences.

“Our unique, industry-leading offering in the Galapagos Islands is being enhanced further still for the benefit of our guests,” says Roberto Martinoli, Silversea’s President and CEO. “From July 16, 2019, we will open sales for Silver Origin, which will enrich guests’ experiences with an unprecedented level of elegance and comfort. After admiring endemic species in the wild and exploring the beautiful landscapes of the Galapagos – with the guidance of local experts – guests will continue their discovery of this unique destination on board, through regionally inspired cuisine, informative lectures and various other enhancements.”

Silversea’s new ultra-luxury ship will continue the award-winning legacy of the retiring Silver Galapagos by alternating two seven-night itineraries between Baltra and San Cristobal, unlocking varying experiences for guests, as follows:

Baltra to San Cristobal
Aboard Silver Origin for Silversea’s north central itinerary, guests will enjoy a circumnavigation of Isla Daphne Major and explorations of Darwin Bay and Prince Philip’s Steps in Genovesa; Galapaguera Cerro Colorado and Punta Pitt in San Cristobal; Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez in Espanola; El Eden, Charles Darwin Research Station and Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; as well as Sullivan Bay, North Seymour, Rabida, and South Plaza. Highlights of this seven-day itinerary include the chance to witness captivating wildlife species in their natural habitats, including and an abundance of marine life through various snorkelling opportunities – potentially near schools of tropical fish, turtles and impressive whitetip reef sharks; and the chance to explore unusual geological features, including lava flows at Sullivan Bay, among other experiences.

San Cristobal to Baltra
Silversea’s western itinerary encompasses such points of interest as Cerro Dragon and Las Bachas Beach in Santa Cruz and a circumnavigation of Kicker Rock. The itinerary also includes Punta Vicente Roca, Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay in Isabela; Post Office Bay, Champion Islet and Punta Cormorant in Floreana; Los Gemelos, Charles Darwin Research Station and Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; Playa Espumilla in Santiago, conditions permitting; Punta Espinoza in Fernandina; and Bartolome Island. Guests travelling westbound with Silversea will witness magnificent geological features, including Kicker Rock and Pinnacle Rock; enjoy a Zodiac ride to Buccaneer’s Cove, which once provided a refuge for pirates; and various other unforgettable experiences.

On both itineraries, Silver Origin’s guests will spend their days exploring Darwin’s “Living Laboratory of Evolution,” where they might spot giant tortoises, colourful marine iguanas, comical Blue-footed Boobies, energetic sea lion pups, Flightless Cormorants, Galapagos Hawks and Galapagos Penguins. Expert local naturalists of the highest calibre—one for every ten guests, providing the highest ratio of guides-per-guest in the Galapagos—will share their knowledge and insights, as they lead complimentary excursions. A fleet of eight Zodiac crafts—the largest in the region on a per-guest basis—and kayaks will enhance the adventure with on-water exploration.

In 2020, two special extended voyages are planned for the holiday season: departing December 19, 2020, guests will be able to travel deeper into the destination on an 11-day voyage from San Cristobal to Baltra, while a 12-day New Year’s cruise will depart Baltra on December 29, 2020, concluding in San Cristobal.

“The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s greatest pristine wonderlands,” said Fernando Delgado, Silversea’s Vice President and General Manager of Canodros C.L. “It will be our honour to unlock the authentic beauty of this region for guests, as they journey aboard the environmentally conscious Silver Origin, enjoying the ship’s understated elegance and all-inclusive comforts and luxuries.”

Thoughtfully crafted to provide superlative comfort, Silver Origin’s stylish, butler-serviced suites are among the most spacious in Galapagos cruising. Each features a private veranda or a Horizon Balcony to provide stunning views of the island landscape. Luxury amenities include a minibar stocked with local snacks and a range of soft and alcoholic drinks, in-suite fresh water purification system, large flat-screen television, choice of pillows, eco-friendly bath amenities, plush robes and slippers, 24-hour room service and in-suite dining, unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi, and complimentary expedition gear that includes a waterproof backpack, raincoat and premium metallic water bottle.

Silver Origin’s eight suite categories include one Owner’s Suite that wraps around the ship’s rear section on Deck 6, offering an unrivalled panoramic view. Situated directly below, on Deck 5, are the ship’s one Grand Suite and one Royal Suite, which are connecting suites that may be combined into one ideal suite for family and friends travelling together. Rounding out the most spacious accommodation options are two Silver Suites—located forward on Deck 5—each of which can be connected to an adjacent Classic Veranda Suite to accommodate groups. All of these top-tier suites feature a large veranda with comfortable outdoor furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. A first for Silversea, the Owner’s, Grand, and Royal suites offer an ocean-view whirlpool bath and separate shower, accessible from the veranda (except in the Grand Suite). The Silver Suites’ whirlpool bath and separate shower provide exterior views and can be accessed from the veranda.

The remaining four suite categories include one Medallion Suite, seven Deluxe Veranda Suites, and sixteen Superior Veranda Suites located on Deck 6. These accommodations are most notable for their innovative Horizon Balcony, which converts into an indoor living space with a floor-to-ceiling window. On Deck 5, there are also twenty-two Classic Veranda Suites, each with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that open onto the veranda. Additionally, they offer third-guest capacity as well as several connecting suites.

With the environment in mind, Silver Origin will feature a dynamic positioning system, which will be used when the ship is positioned over a delicate seabed ecosystems to prevent the anchor from causing damage. Moreover, Silver Origin’s guests will be gifted a metallic reusable bottle that will leverage in-suite freshwater purifications system that convert seawater into drinking water, drastically reducing the use of plastic on board. The ship will also meet the highest standards of energy efficiency in the segment.

Chilled Strawberry, Basil and Coconut Soup

Recipe: Chilled Strawberry, Basil and Coconut Soup

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

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

Itineraries: Colors of Provence

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

Why Cold Soup?

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

Got a Blender?

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

The Strawberries of Provence

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

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

Chilled Strawberry, Basil and Coconut Soup

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

Preparation Method:

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

 

Recipe: Simple to Make Lemon Tiramisu

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Shared from our friends at Windstar Cruises, this Lemon Tiramisu dessert sound like a perfect way to add some summer sunshine into a classic recipe

Before we start making a simple lemon tiramisu, we will tell you where we got this recipe.

Gorgeous seasonal produce and beautiful markets constantly inspire us to play with new spins on traditional dishes. Wandering the morning market in Antibes, France with the James Beard Foundation Awarded Chef Maxime Billet, it was easy to drool over the mounds of purple garlic, the towers of heirloom tomatoes, and the crates of just-foraged chanterelle mushrooms. Summer in the south of France is known for the bounty of its gorgeous harvest, and the market of Antibes certainly does not disappoint! But it was the massive, knotty, nearly-neon yellow lemons that drew me in the most.

In northern Italy, the perfect summer dessert is Tiramisu (literally, ‘pick me up’). Served cold straight from the fridge, there is nothing better than this creamy, caffeinated dessert. But the French lemons made us want to play with this classic recipe, switching out the traditional coffee for a tart lemon syrup, and trading the rum for a splash of bright limoncello. Perfect for those hot afternoons after a morning at the beach, or those late night sweet snack desires, enjoy this memory-invoking Mediterranean take for your next dessert craving!

Simple Lemon Tiramisu from Windstar Cruises

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 lb mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup lemon curd
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 10 lemons)
  • 1 cup limoncello
  • 20 ladyfingers
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

 

Directions

1) Whisk the whipping cream and ¾ cup sugar until it reaches soft peaks. Set aside.

2) Put the mascarpone cheese into a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the lemon curd. Fold in the sweetened whipped cream. Set aside and keep chilled.

3) Mix the lemon juice and the remaining 1 cup sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Heat just until sugar is melted. Remove from heat, and stir in limoncello. Let cool.

4) Soak ladyfingers in cooled limoncello mixture for a couple seconds, rotating to coat all sides. (Do not oversoak, or else your ladyfingers will dissolve, and your tiramisu will be too wet). Place ladyfingers side by side on the bottom of an 8- by 8-inch pan.

5) Put half the lemon cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers in pan. Smooth with a spatula or spoon.

6) Apply the second layer of limoncello-soaked ladyfingers and remaining cream. Sift a light dusting of powdered sugar over the top. Cover in plastic wrap and chill.

7) To serve, cut lemon tiramisu into squares (or simply spoon it out if it is too soft to cut) and serve on plates.

 

A Regional Sampling of Italian Cuisine

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 576 0

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Italy? Is it ancient civilizations and wonders of the world? Bustling metropolises and passionate people? These are all things that Italy is known for, but if you’re like us, your mind skips beyond these signature staples and focuses on one thing—the food.

Italy is synonymous with cooking. The techniques, recipes, and dishes born out of Italian kitchens are some of the most popular and influential throughout the world. No matter where you call home, odds are there’s an Italian restaurant nearby—though the slices of pizza and sizeable helpings of spaghetti they serve may be very different from what you can expect on your trip to the Bel Paese. Depending on the region of Italy you visit, you’ll sample many dramatically different (and delicious) dishes.

Why is that? It has a lot to do with the country’s fascinating history and the proud cultures that flourish in its 20 unique regions. If you have an appetite for learning more, join us for this four-course look at Italian cuisine.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ITALIAN FOOD
Italy is home to more than 2,000 years of culinary history dating back to the Roman Empire. In fact, the Roman cookbook Apicius was compiled in the 1st century and today is believed to be one of the oldest collections of recipes ever discovered. The name of the book was inspired by Marcus Gavius Apicius—perhaps the world’s first foodie—who has long been associated with a love of a good meal. There are some who say he compiled the collection, though no conclusive evidence of this exists.

What is indisputable, however, is that the diversity of regional Italian food took off after the fall of the Roman Empire. This massive political and cultural shift in the area gave rise to individual city states, each fostering distinct traditions—including in the ways they would cook and prepare their food. These city states and regions remained mostly autonomous until the late 1800s (well over a millennium) when Italian unification occurred, and the country of Italy was born. That said, even today, it’s common for Italians to proudly declare loyalty to their region—as well as their regional cooking style—before declaring loyalty to their country.

Now, this doesn’t mean similarities can’t be found throughout Italian kitchens and dining rooms. No matter the region, you’ll find emphasis placed on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Seasonal vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, and cheese, are hallmarks of dishes across the country. Simplicity is also an essential element of Italian cooking, with most recipes having very few ingredients—all of which are carefully considered.

NORTH AND SOUTH, NIGHT AND DAY

Italy’s not a large country—it runs about the length of California—but the culinary differences between the north and south can sometimes make it feel like you’re dining in two different worlds.

Resting in the shadows of the Alps and the Dolomites, Northern Italian meals take a great deal of influence from the European countries it borders. You’ll find notes of French cuisine in this area, as well as influences from Italy’s Swiss and Austrian neighbors. Meat and dairy both factor heavily in Northern Italian dishes, as do rice, corn, and cheeses. The closer you get to the water, the more you’ll notice seafood on the menu.

You may be surprised to learn that pasta dishes aren’t as popular up here as they are in the south, but there is a distinct richness to Northern Italian food—highlighted by the butter-based creamy sauces that often top a dish. Risotto, polenta, gnocchi, and stuffed pasta are all northern staples, as are cured meats such as Prosciutto di Parma.

Making your way south and deeper into the Mediterranean, you’ll find meals infused with Greek and Moorish influences. Sometimes referred to as Cucina Povera (poor-man’s cooking), Southern Italian dishes are where the elements of simplicity, minimal ingredients, and a touch of creative thinking shine. The naturally warm climate of Southern Italy means ingredients such as peppers, tomatoes, and olives are readily available, and form the basis for many of the South’s iconic culinary exports—including pasta dishes, olive oil, and Neapolitan pizza margherita. You may be surprised to learn that horse meat is considered a delicacy in some parts of Southern Italy, so don’t be shocked when it appears on the menu. Southern Italian dishes also take advantage of bountiful hauls from the Mediterranean. You’ll often see recipes that call for octopus, fresh sardines, anchovies, tuna, and swordfish.

When you travel to Italy, join us in the north for tomato tasting in Tuscany, a guided tasting tour through the seaside town of Rapallo that offers a seat at the table where locals love to dine, or a cooking class with the culinary masters of Elba. Then, in the south, uncover the secrets of Sicily’s dishes, perfect pasta making in Alghero, and stroll the fish and fruit markets of Sorrento. Along the way, you might just pick up a few of the secrets to mastering Italian cooking, or, at the very least, a new favorite dish!

SAY CHEESE
Across Italy, you’ll find more than 400 different types of cheese, ranging from iconic flavors like mozzarella and parmesan to lesser-known styles like la tur, the hard to come by bettelmatt, and the flavorful weinkase lagrein. Like other Italian foods, cheese varies dramatically by region. At the foot of the Italian Alps in the north, for example, cows graze pastures eating flavor-rich grass, and their milk is used to produce bagòss, fontina, and gorgonzola. It is said that some astute taste testers can tell which type of grass a cow ate—and exactly which pastures they grazed in—before the cheese-making process begins.

In the south, the natural landscape is much rockier, making it difficult to raise cattle. Instead, southern farmers began raising sheep and goats (Cucina Povera!), which produce milk for their cheeses, including pecorino, caprino d’aspromonte, and vastedda della valle del belice. The south is also where mozzarella originates. Tasting true Italian mozzarella, you’ll notice a distinct difference from its North American counterpart, which is typically made with cow’s milk. If sampling the cheeses of Southern Italy is top of your list, join us for wine and cheese at Quattro Passi, a Michelin Restaurant overlooking the waters of Sorrento Bay.

DIVING DEEPER: ITALIAN FOOD BY REGION
While looking at Italian cooking through the lens of northern style or southern style can be helpful, it doesn’t quite capture the diverse nature of the food. Italy is home to 20 unique regions, each of which lends its own flavor to the dishes we know and love. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from the regions you visit when traveling through Italy with us.

SARDINIA
West of the Italian peninsula, Sardinia’s limestone cliffs rise high above crystal clear waters. The second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinian cuisine has largely been influenced by its history as a safe place to stop on trade routes. Phoenicians, Spaniards, Carthaginians, Arabs, and Romans would frequently dock along the shores of Sardinia, bartering their goods, as well as sharing their gastronomic culture.

Because Sardinia is an island, it should come as no surprise that seafood is in favor here. In Cagliari, visit La Scala to sample incredible handmade fregola Sarda—a signature Sardinian pasta topped with seafood sauce. Further northwest in Alghero, lobster is king. Often prepared the Catalan way (a result of Catalonian conquerors visiting the area at the tail end of the Middle Ages), expect your lobster—known as aragosta alla Catalana here, to be boiled with tomatoes and onion, then seasoned with oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.

CAMPANIA
The food of Campania is more commonly known as Neapolitan, and the region is responsible for two of Italy’s most appetizing exports—spaghetti and pizza. You’ll have no trouble finding spaghetti alla Puttanesca—a seafood pasta featuring anchovies, capers, olives, tomatoes, chili peppers, and garlic—in any restaurant, but we recommend Ristorante Pizzeria Il Mulino in Amalfi for a quiet, flavorsome experience.

For another Amalfi favorite, make your way to the Marina Grande. Beginning life a seaside bar in 1918, Marina Grande moved to Spiaggia Grande in 1935 and has been serving locally-inspired dishes using ingredients sourced from farmers and fishermen from along the Amalfi coast. Be sure to try their selection of local artisanal cheeses, including caciotta di bufala, a buffalo soft cheese this region is also famous for. This is the type of restaurant where you’ll continue to savor the meal long after the food is finished.

If an authentic slice of Neapolitan pizza is a must-try for you, you’ll find it at Pizzeria Da Franco in Sorrento. This restaurant exudes a charming Italian aesthetic—which is wonderful—but what you’re really here for is the pizza. You may have to wait a few minutes as the pizzeria is typically filled with locals, but the wait is certainly worth it.

MARCHE
Relatively isolated compared to many other Italian regions, farmers in Marche are known for overseeing their crops with a little help from lunar methods (think the Farmer’s Almanac). Legends handed down from generation to generation continue to play a significant role in when work gets done on farms throughout the region—including when their delectable casciotta d’urbino cheeses are produced.

Marche has staked its claim as the origin of porchetta, a boneless pork roast stuffed with herbs and spices and roasted on a spit. This savory and fatty dish is held in very high regard through Italy. So much so, the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry named porchetta a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale, a traditional food product of great cultural significance.

Marche is also a region where you’ll find delicious pasta, especially in the coastal city of Ancona. Wide noodles such as lasagna and pappardelle are preferred here, and you must try the region’s signature dish, vincisgrassi. This pasta casserole is highlighted by a rich meat ragù and a creamy bechamel sauce. If you ask us, any chance to sample authentic vincisgrassi makes a trip to oft-overlooked Marche essential.

PUGLIA
The heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is not to be walked away from when it comes to food culture. For many, Puglia is their first stop on any culinary tour. Considering we’re in Italy, that’s saying a lot. But there’s no denying just how special this agricultural haven is—especially when you sink your teeth into their fresh fruits and vegetables for the very first time. They’re so flavorful, they transform antipasto from an appetizer to a full-blown meal—you simply won’t be able to help yourself from going back for seconds (and maybe even thirds).

Orecchiette is the pasta of choice here, which translates into “little ears.” A quick look at the shape of this pasta—made with just flour and water—should clear up any confusion on the name. Typically served with cime di rapa, or aged ricotta and fresh tomatoes, orecchiette is ideally shaped for soaking up and enjoying sauces (chefs were clearly “listening” to what their patrons wanted when they created orecchiette).

Puglia is also where much of Italy’s olive oil is produced, which you can sample for yourself on our ancient tradition of olive oil shore excursion. You may even want to bring some home with you to add an authentic Italian flavor to your next meal.

LAZIO
Home to Rome, Lazio truly was once the center of the known universe. Many of Italy’s most famous pasta dishes—including spaghetti carbonara, cacio e pepe, and pasta alla gricia—originated here, and in general, the region prefers long strand noodles (think the aforementioned spaghetti and fettuccine). During your time here, you can join us for an authentic pasta making workshop at a local farmhouse, where you’re certain to pick up a secret or two from local paste producers.

A trip to Lazio isn’t complete without sampling saltimbocca—one of the area’s most iconic meat dishes. Imitated around the world, authentic saltimbocca is highlighted by veal that is wrapped in thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto, then pan-fried in white wine and butter. You’ll also want to try an order of Arrabbiata—a traditional pasta dish notable for its particularly spicy tomato sauce.

You’ll find more chicken-based dishes in Lazio than in most other regions of Italy, which makes it the perfect place to try pollo con i peperoni. Commonly associated with Ferragosto, a holiday celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, pollo con i peperoni has become a much loved warm-weather dish consisting of seasoned chicken and a colorful mixture of bell peppers.

Artichokes are also integral to cuisine in Lazio (especially when deep-fried whole in a dish known as carciofi alla giudia), as are sizable green olives, which are used in the production of canino dop extra virgin olive oil (try some as seasoning on your bruschetta). This is also the home of pecorino romano, a hard cheese made using sheep’s milk and often served over pasta dishes.

SICILIA
Like Sardinia, Sicilian food has been inspired by cultures that have carved out their spot on the island over the centuries. It’s not uncommon to find Greek, Arabic, and Spanish influences in dishes served here—and Sicilians take pride in blending these elements into something that is distinctly their own.

As a region, Sicilia is amazingly fertile, and the variety of crops that can grow here (everything from oranges to eggplants, tomatoes to pistachios) is nearly unparalleled. Combine this with a wealth of seafood found just off the coast, and you have the recipe for a fantastic gastronomy scene.

Order sfincione in Sicilia and you might expect a hot slice of pizza, but you’ll be in for a surprise. Instead of a traditional pizza pie, expect a rectangular, thick, and doughy crust—actually quite similar to focaccia. As for toppings, you’ll find the traditional tomatoes, onions, anchovies, and herbs for seasoning, as well as strong local cheese—often caciocavallo, a stretched-out curd cheese made of goat’s milk. This will all be covered by the sauce, which goes on top to ensure it doesn’t soak into the thick crust.

To get a sense of Sicilian snacks, make a point of trying arancini. These fried risotto croquettes are a sought-after street food that, while easy to find, prove difficult to replicate (if only because every vendor puts their own spin on them). Some arancini are stuffed with meat ragù, others may contain mozzarella cheese and peas. Try a few while exploring a Sicilian market and you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you leave room for cannoli—the signature deep-fried pastry tube of Sicilia!

If you’re still hungry—and a little adventurous—treat yourself to the crunch of a few raw red prawns. Often served in elite restaurants around Italy, Sicilians know the secret to a tasty prawn is a splash of lemon juice and a drop of olive oil. That’s it, no need for cooking. If you consider yourself to be a serious foodie, your stop in Sicilia isn’t complete without trying this tasty—albeit unconventional—snack.

TUSCANY
Perhaps Italy’s most renowned food region, Tuscany’s reputation is well earned. Hearty, simple, and seasonal, a trip through Tuscany is like a trip through Italy’s culinary heart.

You’ll quickly notice almost all meals in Tuscany are served with a simple loaf of unsalted bread. This tradition dates back to the 16th century when a tax placed on salt forced local bakers to get creative with their baking. The salt tax is long gone, but the tradition has carried on and in many ways is the signature element of Tuscan bread. Initially, this bread may seem a little flavorless, but you’re missing its main purpose—to soak up leftover sauce and juices on your plate after the meal is done. Keep this tip as fresh in your mind as the bread in your basket and you’re in for a delightful meal.

Bread shows up throughout Tuscan meals, from fettunta (a traditional bruschetta) to ribolita (a twice boiled soup). You’ll even find bread salad, better known as panzanella, which is day-old bread mixed with a medley of sun-ripened vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.

But it’s not all bread in Tuscany! Pasta is also (unsurprisingly) popular, particularly pappardelle alla lepre, which is an egg noodle dish served in a wild hare sauce. For many, this is the signature Tuscan meal. Other enjoyed meat dishes include cinghiale in umido (a wild boar stew) and bistecca alla Fiorentina—a Tuscan steak that comes from the Chianina breed of cow.

And speaking of cow, don’t miss the chance to try lampredotto—the fourth stomach of a cow. Now hear us out, this may seem like a strange choice, but locals love it, and you’ll often find them queued up on the street waiting for a serving. You’re on vacation, now’s the time to eat adventurously!

LIGURIA
Nestled between the mountains and the sea in Northwest Italy, Liguria is synonymous with the Italian Riviera. And being a coastal region, it also has a close association with fresh seafood, particularly fish, mussels, and squid—all of which is often combined in ciuppin. A soup originally conceived as a way to use up what was left at the end of the day at the fish market, ciuppin offers a beautiful hodgepodge of flavors. Because fish is more common the meat in Liguria, you’ll also find fresh seafood in most pasta dishes. You can even order antipasti ai frutti di mare, which is essentially a charcuterie board from under the sea.

If you’re craving seafood (alongside a view you simply must see), we recommend booking a terrace table at Ristorante Belforte, where the carefully curated menu is certain to tantalize your taste buds. Located about an hour northwest of Portovenere, the view alone is worth the trip.

Pesto is also a prized ingredient in Liguria cooking, in fact, you can trace its origin back to Genoa, the region’s capital city. If you’re looking for tips on making your own perfect pesto, you’re in the right place, as you can make your own when you join us for an authentic cooking class in the seaside villages of Cinque Terre.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA
The northern region of Emilia-Romagna is sometimes referred to as “Italy’s breadbasket” for its robust gastronomy scene. This is a region to visit if your heart is set on eating well, and eating a lot.

Balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano (known as parmesan around the world) were born here, as were favorites like prosciutto di parma and cappellacci pasta. One thing you won’t find, however, is spaghetti bolognese. This may seem strange, considering Bologna is the region’s capital. So why the name? It probably comes down to a miscommunication after WWII, when American soldiers returned home hoping to find something as delicious as the ragù they ate on deployment. When they asked Italian immigrant chefs to replicate it, something obviously was lost in translation. Spaghetti bolognese was born, but don’t bother looking for it on the menu in Emilia-Romagna. Instead, sample the many unbelievable ragù-topped dishes waiting for you.

While it’s arrivederci for spaghetti bolognese, you will find plenty of tortellini, as well as two different types of gnocchi: pisarei e faśö, which is made from flour and breadcrumbs, and borgotaro malfatti, which is made using ricotta and herbs bound together by eggs and breadcrumbs. When we visit, we never miss a chance to try erbazzone, the region’s iconic savory country-style tart stuffed with spinach, chard, parmesan cheese, and pancetta.

FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA
Bordered by Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east, it should come as little surprise that the culinary traditions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia are influenced by its European neighbors. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that everyone from Napoleon to Attila the Hun has passed through the region on their way to the Adriatic—bringing with them recipes and spices that locals have absorbed and incorporated over the centuries.

Polenta is popular here, and it is often served with stewed meats, or fried flat with cheese and potatoes into wafers known as frico. When you visit Trieste, stop by Tavernetta al Molo for polenta with fish (and enjoy the lovely sea view while you dine).

In the western parts of the region, cheeses such as montasio and frico are favored, as are smoked meat meatballs known as pitina. To the east, the neighborly influence really comes into play, and it’s not uncommon to dine on goulash, apple strudel, and jota—a stew comprised of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, and spare ribs. This is where you can also try cherry gnocchi. This dish is served during cherry season, which occurs in the summer. As the seasons change, you can expect to see less cherry gnocchi on the menu, but more plum gnocchi—a dish again inspired by the neighbors to the north.

Eager to learn more about the food emerging from Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Take a cooking class at EATALY Trieste, where your chef-instructor will guide you through the creation of an authentic Friuli-Venezia Giulia meal.

VENETO
From the mountains down to the shores of the Adriatic, Veneto is a region steeped in dramatic shifts. That goes for more than just the landscape, the food also varies greatly—both from Italy as a whole and even within the seven provinces that make up the region.

It may surprise you that pasta doesn’t play a significant role in Venetian cuisine. Certainly it’s not unheard of to find a restaurant serving a bigoli dish, but here in the north, polenta and rice have usurped it as the carbohydrates of choice.

If you’re a foodie, the risotto you’ll try in Veneto is as awe-inspiring as the gondolas navigating the canals of Venice, the region’s capital city. On the shores of the Adriatic, seafood risotto is common, but the further inland you travel, you’ll find plenty of variations—including pumpkin, radicchio, and even frog legs.

While debate has raged for many years over where tiramisu was invented, the consensus is that it’s a Venetian dessert. Even if this weren’t the case, we’d still recommend a visit to I Tre Mercanti to try what many locals and visitors alike consider to be the best tiramisu in the city—which makes a good case for it being the best tiramisu in the world.

CENTO ANNI!
A common Italian toast before a meal, cento anni is a wish for one hundred years of health, and we could easily spend that amount of time discussing Italian fare, but we’d much rather be sampling risotto in Venice, ordering pappardelle alla lepre in Portoferraio, and investigating the finer points of Neapolitan pizza along the Amalfi coast.

 

 

 

 

Post By Azamara Club Cruises on Thursday, April 11, 2019
Original Post can be found here

Shore Excursion Highlight: Glacier Walk & Waterfalls

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 530 0

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.

Families Experience the South Pacific

The South Pacific Is Made For Families

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 622 0

The South Pacific isn’t just for romantic getaways, it’s a wonderful destination for families. And Paul Gauguin Cruises can help create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your family to create memories you’ll relive forever with their Moana Explorer Program

Offered in partnership with Te mana o te moana, a South Pacific marine education and conservation foundation, this exciting new program invites children and teens, ages 7-15, to discover and value the natural wonders of this breathtaking part of the world through hands-on, interactive learning.

Every day of the voyage, there is a combination of naturalist-led island and/or beach excursions, science activities, crafts, games, and other adventures. Depending on their itinerary, your children might learn about underwater life through board games, create natural jewelry, conduct water experiments, go on a treasure hunt, enjoy water games in the onboard pool, go stargazing, design their own Polynesian tattoo, and more.

Best of all, there is no fee* for this special family program! It’s all part of Paul Gauguin Cruises’ extraordinary all-inclusive value.

Tahiti & the Society Islands – 7 nights
July 20; December 21, December 28, 2019

Society Islands & Tahiti Iti – 7 nights
July 27, 2019

Society Islands & Tuamotus – 10 nights
July 10; August 14, 2019

Cook Islands & Society Islands – 11 nights
June 15; August 3, 2019

The Moana Explorer program is only available on select sailings during the summer and holiday and must be reserved at time of booking.

NEW Seven Seas Splendor™ Destination Experiences Unveiled

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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.

AVAILABLE ON:
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.

AVAILABLE ON:
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.

AVAILABLE ON:
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.

AVAILABLE ON:
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.

AVAILABLE ON:
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

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 713 0

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

2 – Set Sail With Your Pup In Tow

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

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

 

3 – Get Your Daily Cardio In

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

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

 

4 – Discuss World Affairs With A Career Diplomat

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

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

 

5 – Stay Out LATE Without Fear Of Missing The Boat

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

7 – Celebrate Your Anniversary With A Polynesian Blessing Ceremony

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

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

 

8 – Spend All Day At The Spa

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

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

 

9 – Learn How To Steer A Sailboat

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

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

 

10 – Turn Your Expedition Photos Into Professional Masterpieces

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

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

 

11 – Read Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn On The Mighty Mississippi

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

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

 

12 – Travel Back In Time On The Nile River

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

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

 

13 – Get Cooking With A Celebrated Chef

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

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

 

 

Original Article from Virtuoso Traveler July 2019 issue

Photography Ideas While Travelling in Alaska

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 621 0

Did you know Alaska means “great land” in Aleut? If you travel to Alaska, you’ll quickly see why. Alaska is one of the most spectacular places in the world to photograph wildlife and breathtaking scenery. In Alaska, you’ll find 17 of the highest mountain peaks in the country, more than 3 million lakes, an estimated 100,000 glaciers and more than 70 volcanoes. It’s no wonder Alaska is a photographer’s dream come true.

You may be wondering where to start, since there is so much beauty to behold in the Last Frontier. We’ll inspire your photography journey, and show you some of the most jaw-dropping locations to take photos in Alaska.

Most Beautiful Places in Alaska to Take Photos
Alaska may be best known for Denali National Park, but the entire state is full of photogenic jewels. Consider the following locations for your photography excursions. By the end of this post, you might agree — photography in Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list.

1. Kodiak
Kodiak is a city on Kodiak Island —Alaska’s largest island. It’s one of the top fishing destinations in the country, where you might catch halibut, cod, trout and salmon. It’s also home to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find enchanting fjords, impressive mountains, alpine lakes and peaceful meadows.

Wildlife photography is a top activity for refuge visitors. Birdwatching photographers have a chance to capture the beauty of over 200 species of birds. In the winter, they’ll find sea ducks and other migratory birds, and in the summer they may see puffins from the North Pacific.

Many people travel to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to view Kodiak bears, as 3,000 bears call the refuge home. Frazer Lake, which is at the southern portion of the refuge, is a popular spot for bear viewing. The best time to look for bears is at dawn or dusk. You have a greater chance of seeing bears at salmon streams from July to September. The refuge staff recommends taking a guided tour to view and photograph bears. With a guided tour, you can make the most of your experience and ensure your safety.

There are tons of other photography opportunities in Kodiak. For example, you could take a boat tour of nearby islands and snap photos of sea otters, sea lions, puffins or maybe even whales. Or, you could stay in Kodiak and capture images of St. Paul Harbor and the colorful fishing boats set against a backdrop of mountain greenery.

 

2. Seward
Seward is a port city located south of Anchorage, surrounded by the majesty of the snow-capped peaks and Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is one of the state’s oldest and most picturesque communities.

To start your photography expedition, you might take a picture of the Seward Boat Harbor at the northern tip of Resurrection Bay and capture the essence of Seward. You could also go on a boat tour of Resurrection Bay, camera in hand, and explore hidden coves or photograph sea otters, harbor seals and eagles. Head down to Lowell Point for calming pictures of deep blue water and misty mountains.

You could easily capture hundreds of photos without ever leaving the bay area. However, photographers do not want to miss the chance to explore Kenai Fjords National Park— a top destination for visitors who wish to surround themselves with glacial beauty. You’ll find almost 40 glaciers drifting from the Harding Icefield and an abundance of wildlife in the park’s lush forests and crystal waters.

You might get to photograph sea otters, sea lions, moose, mountain goats, gray wolves, bears and a variety of birds. You might also see orcas and humpback whales. Imagine snapping a shot of a whale rocketing from the water, or capturing the striking contrast of a red kayak in front of a glacier.

Most of the park is only accessible by water, but a boat tour offers incredible opportunities to photograph breathtaking scenery and wildlife. If you’re a photographer visiting Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-see.

 

3. Metlakatla
Metlakatla, located on Annette Islands Indian Reservation, is the only American Indian Reserve in Alaska. It’s also the only settlement of the Tsimshian people in the country. The community has an active economy due to its natural resources and the ability to harvest halibut, cod, clams and salmon. Metlakatla features lush forests and salmon-rich streams. Visitors usually travel to Metlakatla by boat or seaplane.

For traveling photographers who want to capture Alaska’s cultural diversity and history, Metlakatla is the place to go. Plan to take pictures of skillfully crafted totems, traditional dance, a longhouse painted with a Tsimshian design or the tranquil harbor. You might also take photos of the island from atop Yellow Hill, which stands 540 feet above the community and offers a panoramic view.

 

4. Wrangell
Are you looking to photograph a colorful array of totems and Native American art? Or would you rather snap pictures of Alaskan wildlife? You can choose both if you head to Wrangell.

Wrangell is one of the oldest towns in Alaska and surrounded by natural beauty. You’ll find over a dozen totems scattered through the town. Make sure to take your camera to Chief Shakes Longhouse, located on an island in the middle of the harbor, to take close-ups of totems and tribal designs. You can easily reach Chief Shakes Longhouse by walking over the pedestrian bridge. Keep on the lookout for bald eagles too while you explore the island.

While in Wrangell, you might also visit Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park to photograph primitive rock carvings. If you want to take a short trip south of Wrangell, you can visit the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory to watch eagles, harbor seals and bears feast on salmon. However, you don’t have to leave Wrangell to view wildlife. You only need to look to the trees to catch a shot of an eagle or to the shoreline for herons. Everywhere you turn, you can find something picture-perfect.

 

5. Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm
Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm are long, narrow fjords located about 45 miles south of Juneau. From aboard a boat, photographers can capture some of the most unforgettable scenery in Alaska. Imagine plunging waterfalls crashing down cliffs into turquoise water, or brilliant blue ice formations dotting the water like gems. You’ll also have the chance to see eagles, seals, bears and whales if you go in the summer.

You might take your camera with you as you stand within a half mile of South Sawyer Glacier if conditions are right. This glacier, at the head of Tracy Arm, extends deep underwater, producing a vibrant blue hue. If you’re lucky, you might also find mountain goats at the base.

For dramatic glacial scenery that will take your breath away, make sure to explore Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. When you look at your gorgeous photos post-trip, you’ll be so glad you did.

 

6. Inian Islands
Inian Islands is a unique and pristine designated wilderness area located between Chichagof Island and Glacier Bay National Park. The area is only accessible by floatplane or boat. There are no established trails on the islands, but visitors still have plenty of ways to explore. If you tour Inian Islands by boat, you’ll get to treat your eyes, and your camera, to the unspoiled beauty of dense temperate rainforests, rocky shorelines and shimmering icy water. You’ll mostly want to focus on the water, so you don’t miss the chance to capture photos of humpbacks, orcas, sea lions and otters.

 

7. Icy Strait Point
Icy Strait Point is a tourist destination privately owned and operated by Huna Totem Corporation. It’s on Chichagof Island outside of Hoonah — Alaska’s largest Tlingit village. Lush rainforest and clear, blue waters surround Icy Strait Point. Here, you can choose from over 20 tours, check out a restored Alaskan salmon cannery, walk nature trails or set up your gear on the shore and wait to capture shots of whales or eagles soaring overhead.

One of the benefits of visiting Icy Strait Point, besides its stunning beauty, is the chance to search for wildlife with the help of a tour guide. For example, you might head with a guide to see brown bears at the Spasski River Valley, which is known for a high brown bear density. While on a tour, a guide can show you the best spots for taking wildlife photos. You’ll also get to learn about the animals and enhance your overall experience. You’ll enjoy the meaning of your photographs with greater depth if you learn the story and history behind them.

 

8. Juneau
Juneau is Alaska’s capital city. Downtown Juneau sits at the bottom of Mount Juneau on the Gastineau Channel. Tongass National Forest surrounds the city — the largest national forest and home to the highest density of black bears in the world. An estimated 32,247 people call Juneau home.

Juneau in itself is a photogenic location. While in the city, watch the sky, and you might catch a bald eagle or great blue heron flying overhead. You may also find whales swimming past you as you walk through town, or seals peeking at you from the channel. Search the steep sides of Mount Juneau, and you might catch a black bear or mountain goat feasting on vegetation.

To get closer to the abundance of wildlife in Juneau, you can ride the Mount Roberts Tramway almost 2,000 feet above downtown and explore subalpine trails. In the summer, you’ll find marmots and grouse. You might also see bears, deer, porcupines and other mammals along the trails.

Finally, you won’t want to miss Mendenhall Glacier while you’re visiting Juneau. Here, you can view the 13-mile-long glacier, which ends at Mendenhall Lake, from the historic visitor center. You can also walk along the lake for spectacular views of icebergs or to photograph Nugget Falls cascading down the mountain. You might also snap shots of moss-covered trees or wildlife while exploring the area. To get there, you can take a bus or taxi from downtown.

 

9. Misty Fjords
Located a short trip east of Ketchikan, Misty Fjords National Monument is a designated wilderness area and part of the Tongass National Forest. Thousands of years ago, ice covered the area, carving deep fjords with cliffs reaching thousands of feet into the sky. You can travel by boat on the Behm Canal to enter the heart of the fjords and take jaw-dropping photos. It’s possible you’ll see whales, porpoises, mountain goats and bears along the way. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to photograph plunging waterfalls, abundant wildlife, dramatic cliffs, dense green forest and pure, astonishing beauty.

 

10. Ketchikan
Situated near the entrance of the Inside Passage, Ketchikan is a city that offers charming scenery, surrounded by wildlife-rich waters and forest. Besides being in the Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan is also home to a vibrant arts scene. In other words, there is a ton of potential to photograph something incredible anywhere you turn in Ketchikan.

For example, did you know Ketchikan has the largest collection of totem poles in the world? Some of them are also among the oldest. You can get shots of totems scattered around town or at one of their totem parks. If you want to immerse yourself in nature while visiting Ketchikan, consider taking a trip just outside town to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary to possibly get photos of eagles or black bears. At the sanctuary, you can also stop at a historic sawmill or stroll through the totem park.

Alaska scenery is hard to believe unless you’ve been there. Words can’t describe the majesty of steep rocky cliffs jutting out from deep blue-green water, or the sight of massive ice formations carved by time and nature. If you explore Alaska, you will never forget the scenery. Taking pictures is one way to remind yourself of your journey, but the beauty of Alaska will likely remain embedded in your mind and your heart.

 

 

Post shared from Windstar Cruises Blog
Written by Curtis Carr and Original can be found here

First Time to Antarctica? Here’s What You Should Know

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 567 0

Imagine a place where the summer sun never sets, where endless ice surrounds you, and snow-covered peaks reach high into a cobalt blue sky. Where jagged glaciers plunge into the ocean, and huge tabular icebergs form wall-like corridors through which ships sail.

Picture thousands of penguins clattering and calling for as far as the eye can see, with their fluffy chicks feeding, learning to walk and fledging. Imagine looking into the big, mahogany-brown eyes of a weddell seal as it lies on a floating piece of ice, or admiring the majesty of a humpback whale as it raises its tail flukes before diving to the depths of the Southern Ocean.

This is Antarctica—one of the wildest and most stunning regions in the world. “Nothing can prepare you for the first time you encounter a penguin colony of 60,000 birds on a beach,” says Conrad Combrink, Silversea Cruises’ Senior Vice President Strategic Development Expeditions and Experiences. “Or when you [first] witness a towering iceberg, floating alone in the water.” For many reasons, the first trip to Antarctica is a life-defining moment.

Meeting Antarctica’s Incredible Wildlife
Antarctica is home to some of the largest marine mammals and most fascinating birds for much of the year. However, it’s during the summer months—from November to February—that the region visibly teems with wildlife.

The most accessible part of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula, is home to several species of penguins, such as the Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap. Weddell and crabeater seals are commonplace along the Peninsula coastlines, and the elusive leopard seal is also spotted here. On the nearby Subantarctic island of South Georgia, King Penguins rule the beaches by the thousands, with Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals living side-by-side around them.

“You can never be near penguins without having a massive smile on your face,” reveals repeat Silversea Expeditions guest Mick Toller. “Whether they’re waddling along in a line, battling their way up a hill, sliding down on their bellies or getting up the courage to dive off a rock, they are a constant source of amusement everywhere you look.”

The southern summer is also when humpback whales arrive from the tropics to feed; at this time of year, calves will usually accompany their mothers. It’s not uncommon to see them as they rest or play at the surface of the water, before diving—up to 600 feet (200 meters)—to feed on krill, crustaceans and small fish.

“Simply being on a Zodiac and right next to a humpback whale—there is something very humbling about that,” beams Combrink. “A humpback whale coming right up to your Zodiac and spyhopping—It’s what most people dream of.”

Thanks to its remote location, the majority of visitors to Antarctica come by cruise ship, usually aboard an ice-class vessel. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) oversees tourism to the region. As part of its policy, anyone traveling to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands must adhere to strict biosecurity and animal welfare guidelines. It prevents the spread of non-native species, pests and pathogens and also protects wildlife.

The measures include a full inspection of all clothing and gear to be used by both passengers and guides before arrival, as well as a decontamination procedure after every landing, so boots, bags, walking poles and other equipment are regularly cleaned. No food, including nuts, seeds or sweets, or drink, other than potable water, is to be taken ashore. Any waste must be brought back to the ship. The guidelines also stipulate a safe distance limit for observing animals, but still close enough to be able to get a great photo with the right equipment. “Seeing how a concerted effort has been able to keep Antarctica pristine is incredibly important,” reveals Toller. “It makes you more aware of how much we have to do to clean up the planet.”

The Best Time of Year for an Antarctic Expedition
Most expedition ships begin their season in mid- to late-November and operate until early March. “Animals congregate in masses between December and the end of February,” Combrink explains. When you visit can be decided by determining what you want to see most.

November and December offer the best chance to witness female seals nurturing their adorable pups or penguins laying and protecting their eggs. As January and February arrive, the penguin chicks hatch and begin fledging. Whales are also more commonly seen towards the end of the season.

What to Pack for Antarctica?
The key to a comfortable excursion in Antarctica is layered clothing and durable boots. Layers allow you to regulate your body temperature according to the weather conditions and activity, while pull-on boots with sturdy soles will keep you dry during “wet” Zodiac landings in shallow, icy water.

Regarding clothing for your first trip to Antarctica, remember to pack a base, insulating and outer layer. At least two sets of each are recommended. Base layers should be lightweight, quick-drying, breathable and thermal, while the insulating layer should be warm and flexible. Finally, the outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and large enough to fit over all other layers. Waterproof pants should have a wide enough base to fit over boots that are at least mid-calf length.

Woolen hats that cover your ears are highly recommended, as are sunglasses to protect against the glare from the ice. Neck gaiters provide an easy-to-manage alternative to scarves. Windproof and waterproof gloves are a must—bring spare pairs in case they get wet.

Handy accessories might include a waterproof backpack or sealable waterproof sack to ensure possessions stay dry. Collapsible trekking poles help with walking in the snow, and foot and hand warmers add warmth on particularly cold days. Lip balm with UV protection is also recommended. And Toller has one last piece of advice for first-time visitors: “Buy good binoculars. They are a great investment.”

While traveling to Antarctica for the first time is the ultimate adventure, it’s still a trip that can be enjoyed by everyone. “You don’t have to be in top physical shape to go to Antarctica,” explains Combrink. “[Even] going by Zodiac to the landing site is a unique experience. Just sitting at the landing site, there is already so much to see. Or just enjoy the view from your suite—you will never ever be bored.”

 

 

Blog Post c/o Silversea Cruises blog
Written by Karen Edwards
Original post can be found here