Crystal Endeavor Expeditions
On August 10, 2020, Crystal Endeavor will embark on her maiden voyage from Tokyo. The groundbreaking vessel under Crystal Expedition Cruises will sail a remote and remarkable journey through the islands of Japan and the Russian Far East, Antarctica via the Ross Sea; New Zealand and Tasmania; Australia and the Great Barrier Reef; and Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines.
We are most excited for the Crystal Endeavor’s Indonesian Immersive & the Great Barrier Reef that sails for 16 nights from Bali to Cairns on October 15, 2020. You’ll journey through the legendary Spice Islands and Papua New Guinea, to Komodo Island where you may encounter its famous dragons. And of course the breathtaking underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.
Throughout this voyage you’ll want to don your wet suit for fascinating deep water discoveries like Lizard Island, nestled within the spectacular Great Barrier Reef and Ribbon Reef, constituting approximately 125 miles of it. Lizard Island is an ideal spot for expedition adventures that range from snorkeling to rugged hikes through mangroves and acacia woodlands in search of the yellow-spotted monitor lizard and even taking the time to sun yourself along white sand beaches. Ribbon Reef presents opportunities to dive deep into the coves, caves and canyons that house a rainbow of sea life within an isolated haven of turquoise. In Kalabahi, Indonesia, a snorkeling adventure will take you to the coastal waters of Pura Island, where the coral reefs still thrive and tropical fish dart in and out, playing hide-and-seek with visitors. You may also meet some of the local Alor tribe, who farm and fish the land.
There are adventures and eye-opening discoveries in each of these spectacular destination, and even aboard the expedition ship itself.
Recipe: Chilean Seabass with King Crab & Red Beet Cous Cous
The talented chefs from Crystal’s ships are a wealth of delicious expertise, and they’re sharing some of that with you today! For those seeking to relive some of the delectable meals in the Crystal Dining Room, we recommend the indulgent recipe below. Sadly, you’ll have to provide your own six-star service and perfectly paired wine… Just another reason to book your next sailing now!
Chilean Seabass with King Crab & Red Beet Cous Cous
4 ea Chilean Seabass Filets, 6 oz each
4 tbsp clarified butter
Salt, fresh ground White Pepper
4 ea King Crab Legs
4 tbsp Lemon Oil
Red Beet Cous Cous
1 cup Pearl Cous Cous (Israeli Cous Cous)
2 tbsp. Melted Butter
2 ea Shallots, peeled and fine chopped
2 ½ cup Red Beet Juice
2 tsp. Mascarpone Cheese
2 tsp. cold butter
2 tsp. grated Parmesan
Salt, Fresh White Pepper to taste
For the fish, pat dry the Seabass filets with kitchen towels and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper on both sides.
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
Heat the clarified butter in a sauté pan and sear the fish, skin side down first, for one minute on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 4-5 minutes.
For the Cous Cous, heat the melted butter in casserole and sauté the shallots slowly until translucent, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the Cous Cous and sauté for one more minute. Add the Red Beet Juice and simmer until the Beet Juice is absorbed and the Cous Cous is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the Cold Butter, Mascarpone and Parmesan Cheese, season to taste with Salt and White Pepper.
To serve, remove the Crab Leg Meat from the shells, cut into 2 inch pieces and heat in a 350 F oven for 2 minutes until hot. Divide the hot Cous Cous amongst 4 Shallow Plates, top each with a Seabass Filet and the Crab Meat. Drizzle one tbsp Lemon Oil over the Fish and around the Cous Cous and serve.
The New Wave Of Cruise Experiences
Thirteen experiences you didn’t know you could have on a cruise.
Today’s cruising boom is good news for everyone, from aficionados who love setting sail to those ready to give a new vacation style a go. And as cruising’s popularity grows – approximately 27 million people stepped aboard in 2018 – cruise lines have diversified. It’s all about variety these days, not just in ship size – ranging from intimate, 60-passenger yachts to next-level, 6,000-person megavessels – but in style too. You can sip coffee on your balcony as you float down a European river, go searching for wildlife on an expedition ship, or get lost in a floating city at sea. Itineraries are also more creative: Culinary academies and wellness centers on board, for example, pair well with surprising shore excursions, from hiking up mountains to attending orchestra concerts. These 13 experiences are offered by cruise lines that participate in Virtuoso Voyages – an exclusive program that offers complimentary benefits and perks to travelers who book cruises through a Virtuoso travel advisor – and they’ll make you think twice about what you can do on your next sailings.
Welcome to the new era of cruising, where almost everything goes.
1 – Explore Marine Life From Inside A $3 Million Submarine
Realize your James Bond fantasies with a trip on Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Esprit, a 62-passenger yacht that touts a three-person submersible as one of its water-based activity options. (Jet Skis, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are also at the ready.) A pilot takes two passengers at a time on explorations up to 1,000 feet below the surface, including on a seven-day, Dubrovnik-to-Venice sailing. The Esprit is an ideal vessel for scuba divers and snorkelers, and its slim size means it can call on smaller ports, including the yacht marina in Kotor, Montenegro; Croatia’s walled city of Dubrovnik; and all the way north to Venice.
Departures: Multiple dates, July 7, 2019, to August 30, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $125 shipboard credit. Submersible experience, $350.
2 – Set Sail With Your Pup In Tow
Crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s eight-day, New York City to Southampton sailing is slow travel at its finest – rest, relaxation, and enrichment, from tango lessons and yoga sessions to fi lm screenings and music recitals. Share the adventure with your four-legged BFF on the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2, which has an onboard kennel for 24 pets. Like their owners, cats and dogs receive VIP treatment, including a portrait session, fleece coat, and “turndown service” of freshly baked biscuits. The pet lounge and play area welcome animals from both sides of the pond with a Liverpool lamppost and an NYC fire hydrant.
Departures: Multiple dates, June 7 to December 15, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include private port transfers in New York City and London and an onboard specialty-dining credit.
3 – Get Your Daily Cardio In
You’ve worked too hard to let your fitness routine slide for a week. Do as much (or as little) as you like with AmaWaterways, the river-cruise line that stables bicycles for shore excursions and employs dedicated wellness hosts to lead core and circuit training classes on board. On the new, 196-passenger AmaMagna, which debuted in May and is twice as wide as most European river ships, cruisers can log a mile on the top-deck walking track, take a stretching class in the Zen Wellness Studio, hydrate at the juice bar, or get a massage. Disembark on an eight-day, Vilshofen-to-Budapest Danube River sailing to bike along the river or hike to a castle.
Departures: Multiple dates, June 2 to December 29, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include an onboard host and welcome reception and a guided tour of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace.
4 – Discuss World Affairs With A Career Diplomat
There’s nothing like sailing with an astronaut, scholar, government official, or filmmaker to vanquish the shuffleboard-and-buffets cruising stereotype. Seabourn raises the intellectual bar with its Seabourn Conversations series, featuring notable guests who don’t just lead onboard lectures, but engage with fellow passengers over meals and excursions as well. Ashok Sajjanhar – India’s ambassador to Sweden and Latvia and president of the Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi – will educate guests on the 599-passenger Seabourn Ovation during a 19-day, Dubaito-Singapore cruise with stops in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
Departure: December 2, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion in Mumbai.
5 – Stay Out LATE Without Fear Of Missing The Boat
Azamara Club Cruises pioneered overnight port stays, letting guests revel in the local nightlife in addition to the standard daytime scene. The boutique cruise line is amping up its after-dark experiences with a new series of exclusive evening shore excursions, such as taking in an acrobatics performance in Valencia, Spain. On an 11-day, round-trip-from-Athens sailing on the 702-passenger Azamara Pursuit, travelers can attend a traditional Jewish folk music performance by a klezmer group at Jerusalem’s Ashdod Performing Arts Center. It’s part of an immersive, three-day stop in the holy city that includes visits to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.
Departure: September 4, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion to Jerusalem.
6 – Finally Figure Out The Difference Between A Julienne And A Brunoise Cut
Make tasty use of your time at sea on Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-passenger Marina or Riviera ships by enrolling in a cooking class or three at the onboard Culinary Center. Kick things off with Slice: Mastering Chef Knife Skills to learn the basics of mise en place before trying your hand at making pasta or grilling. The 12-day, Rio de Janeiro-to-Buenos Aires voyage on the Marina offers a balanced diet of cultural excursions in Paraty, Brazil; beach time in Punta del Este, Uruguay; and food and wine tours in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
Departure: December 7, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include prepaid gratuities.
7 – Celebrate Your Anniversary With A Polynesian Blessing Ceremony
Cast away to the South Pacific for the most memorable of occasions aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin Cruises. During an eight-day, roundtrip from Papeete sailing through the Society Islands – full of archaeological sites, lagoons fit for snorkeling, and white-sand beaches – local onboard hosts know as Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins can bless couples in a traditional Polynesian ceremony by reciting a love poem, singing, and after a Champagne toast, wrapping celebrants in a traditional patchwork tifaifai quilt. They’ll also teach you how to say “I do” in Tahitian, dance island-style, and make a basket out of pandanus leaves.
Departures: Multiple dates June 8 to December 28, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion in Moorea.
8 – Spend All Day At The Spa
Bookending stops in Sint-Maarten, Dominica Saint Lucia, Antigua, and Saint Bart’s, four of the 11 days on Regent Seven Seas Cruises 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer’s roundtrip from Miami journey are spent at sea, offering prime time to find some inner peace in the ship’s Canyon Ranch Spa. This at-sea outpost mirrors the famous destination retreat, with yoga classes, seaweed wraps, hot stone massages, reflexology, and hydrotherapy features ranging from saunas to cold rooms. Between oxygen facials and pedicures, check out the ship’s impressive art collection, including several Picasso’s, or learn about the healthful secrets of Mediterranean cooking in the Culinary Arts Kitchen.
Departure: January 8, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion and lunch in Saint Bart’s
9 – Learn How To Steer A Sailboat
Sixteen sails bound to four masts help power the 360 foot Star Flyer clipper ship, one of three throwback vessels in the Star Clippers fleet. Nautical culture meets luxury aboard this 17- passenger vessel, which has two swimming pools on its teak decks. Friendly deckhands, who hoist the sails manually each time the ship leaves port, offer knot-tying classes, ship-maneuvering lectures, and demonstrations on navigating with a sextant – a tool to measure angular distances at sea. Test your newfound skills on a 15-day, Barbados to Panama voyage, which visits Grenada, the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), and Colombia and culminates in a sailor’s dream transit through the Panama Canal.
Departure: November 23, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion and lunch in Saint George’s, Grenada.
10 – Turn Your Expedition Photos Into Professional Masterpieces
Go beyond VSCO and your smartphone’s filters: The fully equipped Photo Studio aboard Silversea Cruises’ 254-passenger (200 in polar waters) Silver Cloud offers master classes in composition, editing, and Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop programs. High-tech printers encourage shutterbugs to create postcards and panoramic prints, regardless of whether they were taken using an iPhone or a DSLR. Photograph the wildlife that inhabits the bottom of the earth on a ten-day, roundtrip-from-Ushuaia expedition to Antarctica. The ship’s resident photo manager will coach passengers on adjusting shutter speeds so they can capture images of seabirds in the Drake Passage, penguins on the South Shetland Islands, and otherworldly icebergs in the Antarctic Sound.
Departures: Multiple dates, December 10, 2019, to January 20, 2021. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $300 shipboard credit per person.
11 – Read Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn On The Mighty Mississippi
The sense of freedom and possibility brought to life in Twain’s iconic novel can still be found on Ol’ Man River, and you’re likely to experience both during American Queen Steamboat Company’s nine-day cruise from New Orleans to Memphis. On board the 436-passenger American Queen, an authentic paddlewheel riverboat, watch the Mississippi roll past from the ship’s decks, read a classic tome in the Mark Twain Gallery, and take in a show in the Grand Saloon. Along the way, holiday themed events and excursions reveal the history and heritage of the U.S. South. See NOLA’s ceremonial lighting of bonfires on the levee, learn how to perfect buttery biscuits in the Natchez home of award-winning chef Regina Charboneau, and more.
Departure: December 15, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception; contact your Virtuoso travel advisor regarding an additional, soon-to-be-announced amenity.
12 – Travel Back In Time On The Nile River
From the hand-built pyramids at Giza to tranquil Nile excursions aboard a traditional felucca sailboat, travelers will revel in the ingenuity of past centuries during their time in Egypt. Seven of the 12 days on Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s round-trip-from-Cairo itinerary are based on the elegant 82-passenger River Tosca. Egyptologist-guided excursions decode the colossal statues of Memnon, the mummified remains of King Tutankhamun in his Valley of the Kings tomb, and the hieroglyphics adorning temples from Luxor to Aswan. Changing pace, ride a felucca and take tea at the hotel where Agatha Christie set Death on the Nile. Go now, while tourism is growing, but before the masses return.
Departures: Multiple dates, September 28 to December 28, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $200 shipboard credit per person.
13 – Get Cooking With A Celebrated Chef
The James Beard Foundation ships out its award-winning chefs and sommeliers on culinary-themed Windstar Cruises sailings, which include cooking demos, beverage pairings, and market tours. Gain firsthand knowledge by joining a talented chef and beverage expert on a ten-day, San Diego-to-Vancouver sailing aboard the 212-passenger Star Breeze, which plies the U.S. West Coast with stops in Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. The chef will host a wine-paired dinner, lead a shopping trip, and provide a cooking demonstration. Work off the meals while exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
Departure: May 5, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a custom-curated shore event.
Original Article from Virtuoso Traveler July 2019 issue
Crystal Cruises Features Perth’s Black Truffles in Culinary Journeys Series
Perth’s Black Truffle Delicacies Star In Episode 5 Of Crystal’s ‘Culinary Journeys’ Video Series
Black Périgord truffles are among the most expensive edible mushrooms in the world, and Western Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of them. When one thinks of black truffles, images of the eponymous Périgord region in France and Italy’s Piedmont region come to mind. But in Perth, even in summertime – considered “off season” for the fine fungus – restaurants across town feature truffle-accented dishes on their menus, creatively incorporating their earthy flavor into signature entrees, from seafood to potato salad.
But it’s a classic Italian specialty that takes center stage in the latest episode of “Crystal Cruises Presents: A Culinary Journey Hosted by Jon Ashton,” which takes Jon to some of Perth’s local foodie hubs in search of the best iteration of black truffles. Through his explorations, Jon is inspired to bring the truffles of Western Australia back to Crystal Serenity, where he works with Prego’s Chef de Cuisine Alfred Napotnik to create Italian gnocchi prepared in the Old-World style – a rich, creamy comfort food of the most elegant kind.
And where better to serve such a decadent, yet uncomplicated, dish than Prego?
In the words of Chef Alfred, whose parents would take him to Italy for weekend lunches during his childhood, “Simple is always good.”
Watch the full episode here
Are You a Cruiser? Ten Questions to Ask
A floating hotel has something for everyone. Don’t believe it? Just consider these ten questions.
Cruising. Perhaps you long ago slammed this particular porthole shut, with vague ideas about buffets, crowds, and tired cabaret shows. But lately you’ve been hearing friends rave about their recent cruises, and you’re getting curious.
Whether you’re interested in glacier trekking or pool lounging, exploring secluded islands or city streets, spending days on vineyard tours or in spas – if you can name it, there’s a ship for it. And the best parts of cruising remain the same, regardless of sailing style or destination: You only need to unpack once, and the views are ever-changing.
Not quite convinced? The following questions will help you determine whether you should set sail. (The answer is yes.)
1 – Are You a Foodie?
Top chefs have expanded their empires to include the world’s waterways, and new ingredients await discovery in each port. Here’s a taste of what’s on board.
Wine lovers will savor Uniworld’s eight-day Bordeaux vineyard cruise aboard the 130-passenger River Royale, with cellar tastings in Saint-Émilion, a Sauternes-paired lunch, visits to farmers’ markets in Libourne, and bicycle rides through the back streets of Bordeaux.
Crystal Cruises’ annual Food & Wine Festival sailings feature guest chefs and sommeliers, cooking classes, and more. A roundtrip Los Angeles journey aboard the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity takes in the flavors of Mexico with stops in La Paz, Ensenada, and Mazatlán.
2 – Do You Want to See It All?
Sailings that encompass vast regions and whole seasons can write your life’s next chapter.
Spend nearly five months aboard Silversea’s 382-passenger Silver Whisper. In 2019, the line’s 132-day world cruise takes in 31 countries and 52 ports. From snorkeling on Moorea to sampling wonton soup in Hong Kong and strolling San Sebastián, Spain’s historic Old Town, this is one trip that truly earns the moniker “voyage.” (Have less time? Select one of its roughly two-week routes that’s right for you.)
Also for 2019, Crystal Cruises’ 85-day journey on the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity will visit more than 15 countries. Explore the natural wonders of Australia and Africa, isles of the South Pacific, and top cities such as Sydney and Barcelona.
3 – Do You Prefer to Venture Off the Beaten Path?
Set sail to ports at the edges of civilization, and cruise rivers deep within Land Rover country.
Game-spot from the comfort of your stateroom during four days with AmaWaterways aboard the 28-passenger Zambezi Queen, as you navigate Botswana’s Chobe National Park.
4 – Are You a Night Owl?
Stay up late for chic theme parties, people-watching, and fun shows.
Azamara Club Cruises throws a White Night Party on its sailings, transforming outdoor decks into glamorous dancing and dining venues.
5 – Do You Like to Spread Out?
The most lavish and lovely accommodations come with endless blue views.
Cunard’s five Duplex and Grand Duplex suites on the 2,961-passenger Queen Mary 2, on two levels joined by a sweeping staircase, feature two master baths and a private gym. To go all out, combine all five into one 9,000-square-foot mansion.
6 – Do You Like the Great Outdoors?
Natural encounters let you heed the call of the wild.
Join wildlife icon Jean-Michel Cousteau aboard an Aqua Expeditions vessel on the Amazon and Mekong rivers. Take guided kayak tours along quiet jungle routes to talk conservation and ecosystems, and enjoy relaxed onboard chats about Cousteau’s top photo and videography tips.
7 – Is Vacation Actually a Perfect Time to Get Healthy?
Superior spas, mindfulness, and wellness menus for self-care at sea.
Seabourn’s Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil program takes health at sea to a new level. Meditation and yoga programs address physical, social, and spiritual well-being; seminars cover topics such as anti-inflammatory foods, healthy aging, and mindfulness. Dr. Weil himself joins some sailings each year.
8 – Are You Seeking Cultural Immersion?
See destinations through the eyes of locals and respected experts
Explore Madeira’s capital of Funchal on an exclusive Virtuoso Voyages excursion on board Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-passenger Riviera during a round-trip Barcelona sailing. Ride a cable car to the hilltop village of Monte, where you can take in the churches and palaces before trying out the carros de cesto, wicker toboggans that zoom you down the hill to Livramento. You’ll also visit a wine cellar to savor the nuances of the island’s famous sweet elixir, and relax over a wine-pairing lunch at Belmond Reid’s Palace hotel.
Sail French Polynesia with Paul Gauguin Cruises to delve beyond its beautiful shores. Onboard hosts include an archaeologist who specializes in the ancient ceremonial structures of the Marquesas and an art historian with no fewer than seven books published on the cruise line’s namesake.
9 – Are You a Thrill Seeker?
Sky-high adventures via new technologies and old-fashioned daredevilry.
Star Clippers’ 227-passenger Royal Clipper is still the world’s only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship – and you can climb one of those masts, with a provided safety harness, of course, to take in the views over the vessel’s 42 billowing white sails.
10 – Do You Appreciate the Finer Things in Life?
From white-tie evenings to well-dressed breakfasts in bed.
Renowned for its commitment to the golden age of cruising, Cunard’s 2,961-passenger Queen Mary 2 has a formal dress code in the main dining venues – which most guests are eager to embrace. Each sailing typically features three formal nights, such as a masquerade ball or Roaring Twenties–style dance.
On Silversea’s ships, each cabin has dedicated butlers who are trained through the Guild of Professional English Butlers.
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.
Port of Call: Navigating Italy’s Cinque Terre
When the ship docks, a crowd-dodging plan is key in these coastal Italian postcard villages.
Briny sea breezes carry the scent of sun-warmed lemons and fresh basil along the Riviera di Levante on Italy’s northwestern coast. A favorite holiday destination, this 80-mile stretch of the Italian Riviera begins east of Genoa and ends just beyond the Gulf of La Spezia, also known as the “Poets’ Gulf,” for the number of writers its beauty has inspired. This warm-weather paradise, which I’ve called home for more than a decade, is now a popular cruise destination due to its proximity to the Cinque Terre, five ancient fishing villages perched amid wave-battered cliffs on a rugged stretch of coastline. A UNESCO World Heritage site and fragile natural treasure, the Cinque Terre is largely car-free, but easily accessible by train or boat, and on foot. To avoid the tourist crowds and delve deeper into this fascinating region, arrive with a strategy and sturdy sneakers. An extensive network of hiking trails links the villages, while ferries ply the glittering coastal waters, making for an easy day of outdoor exploring from smaller Portovenere or La Spezia, where larger ships dock.
Whether you arrive by boat or train, make Vernazza your first Cinque Terre stop. Arguably the most beautiful of the five villages, it fills early with day-tripping visitors, so enjoy the morning calm on a stroll through the narrow lanes and arched porticoes, past the lemon-hued church, and along the tiny harbor, where bobbing turquoise-and-white dinghies line the stone quay. Sip a cappuccino on the seaside piazza, or join tanned retirees wading into the crystal-clear water for their first swim of the day. Then climb the narrow staircase up to Castello Doria, an ancient seaside fortification with spectacular coastal views.
Fill a water bottle before leaving the tourist masses behind for the two-mile hike from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost Cinque Terre town, along the popular Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail). The ascent is moderately strenuous along a dusty trail, but your effort will be rewarded with stunning bird’s-eye views of Vernazza. Continue through the lush landscape, past citrus groves and terraced vineyards equipped with rickety monorail cars that haul the handpicked harvest up vertiginously steep slopes. After a hike of about an hour and a half, Monterosso will come into view.
A promontory divides Monterosso, the Cinque Terre’s largest town, into two parts, old and new. Begin exploring the Old Town, nestled between green hills, with its multicolored houses, pebbled beach, and medieval carruggi (ultra-narrow alleys). Stop at Focacceria Il Frantoio for a snack of pan fritto (fried pizza dough stuffed with cheese), then admire a collection of artworks that include a van Dyck painting inside the bluff-top monastery. A tunnel leads to the newer part of town, known as Fegina, where rows of sun loungers and colorful parasols line the long sand-and- pebble beach. Cool off with a gelato or a dip in the Mediterranean, then join locals taking a relaxed passeggiata along the beach-side promenade.
The most pleasurable way to see the Cinque Terre is from the water. Whether aboard a private yacht or public ferry, the views are the same: stupendous. The easiest route is to hop on the hourly ferry departing from the quay beside Monterosso’s Old Town (look for signs for Consorzio Marittimo Turistico), and sail down the coast admiring the unparalleled panorama of postage-stamp-size villages tucked amid sheer cliffs. Along the way, spy hidden coves, lone hilltop chapels, acres of olive trees, and vineyards climbing the hillsides. Admire Vernazza from new angles, spotting the hilltop town of Corniglia (the only Cinque Terre town without a harbor), before arriving in Manarola.
Alight in Manarola for an afternoon aperitivo at Nessun Dorma, a clifftop café that serves spritzes in an outdoor garden overlooking the town harbor and its cluster of pastel houses perched above the turquoise sea. If you’re eager to tick off one more village, take the train a stop south to Riomaggiore and climb the steep steps above the station to A Pié de Ma, a wine bar situated on rocks jutting above the water, where you can sip rare natural wines from local producer Walter De Battè on the terrace as waves swirl and crash below.
As charming as any of its northern neighbors, Portovenere deserves a detour for its impressive historic sights, including the hilltop Castello Doria; the striped, twelfth-century Chiesa di San Pietro; and a wave-battered grotto dedicated to the English poet (and legendary swimmer) Lord Byron. Those returning to ships in La Spezia should head into the city center for farinata, a thin, pancakelike local specialty made from chickpeas. At La Pia Centenaria, a farinata specialist since 1887, giant copper pans pulled from the wood-fired oven yield pancakes that are sliced for take-away orders; try the savory version slathered with pesto or creamy stracchino cheese.
This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Virtuoso Life. Written by Ingrid K. Williams
Guide to Cruise Line On board Gratuities
Figuring out how much to tip and who to tip while on a cruise can be confusing, even if you are a seasoned cruiser. Some lines automatically charge gratuities to your onboard account, others include them in your cruise fare, or have a special promotion where you get FREE gratuities. It seems that every cruise line has a different amount they charge and where those gratuities go.
Here is a break down of cruise line on board gratuity charges with some of the top cruise lines
Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises includes gratuities in its fares.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line charges $13.99 per person per day for guests in standard rooms; and $15.99 per person per day for guests in suites.
All of the gratuities collected go to Carnival’s shipboard staff. According to its website, the amount is spread between its housekeeping team, dining team, and alternate staff.
Carnival recently announced that it would start charging 18 percent, up from 15 percent, on the automatic gratuity it charges for onboard beverages and a la carte dining outlets.
Celebrity Cruise Line
Celebrity charges $14.50 per person per day for those in standard accommodations; $15.00 per person per day for Concierge Class and AquaClass guests; and $18.00 per person per day for those in suites.
On its website, Celebrity says that collected gratuities are shared between stateroom attendants, dining services staff, and housekeeping staff.
The cruise line also adds an 18 percent gratuity to all beverages, spa, salon, and minibar purchases.
Cunard automatically charges $11.50 per person, per day, to passenger shipboard accounts in Britannia accommodations. For passengers in Grill Class accommodations the charge is $13.50.
An automatic 15 percent gratuity is added to all bar bills. A 15 percent charge also applies to spa treatments and services.
All of Crystal Cruises’ sailings are all-inclusive, so gratuities for its staff — housekeeping, restaurant, bar, and Penthouse butler staff — are already included in the cruise fare.
Holland America Line
Holland America increased the cost of its automatic gratuities in October, announcing that it would start charging $14.50 per day per person for all guests staying in standard rooms; and $16.00 per person per day for suite guests, starting in 2019.
Holland America states that 100 percent of gratuities go toward compensating onboard crew members.
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL is increasing its gratuities starting on April 1, 2019. For all sailings after that date (excluding guests booked before on sailings before April 1), Norwegian guests sailing in any stateroom category up to a mini-suite on most ships will be charged $15 per person per day. Those sailing in any suite, Concierge, or The Haven stateroom will be charged $18 per person per day.
Standard guests on Norwegian Sky and Sun, two ships that sail with an all-inclusive price, will be charged $20.50 per person per day. Suite guests will be charged $23.50 per person per day.
Oceania automatically adds $16.00 per person per day for standard guests; and $23.00 per person per day for suite guests.
Oceania also adds an 18 percent charge to all beverage purchases, spa services, and specialty dinners.
Paul Gauguin Cruises
All onboard gratuities are included in Paul Gauguin’s all-inclusive fare.
A discretionary gratuity of $15.50 per guest for suites, $14.50 per guest for mini-suites and club class, and $13.50 per guest for interior, oceanview, and balcony staterooms. This gratuity will be shared amongst those staff who help provide and support your cruise experience, including all waitstaff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards, and housekeeping staff across the fleet.
A 18% gratuity is added to bar charges, dining room wine accounts, and Lotus Spa® services. This is shared amongst the beverage staff, their support staff and Lotus Spa® personnel.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Gratuities are included in the cruise fare for all of Regent’s sailings. The line also offers another option for guests who want to go above-and-beyond for their crew: donations to the Crew Welfare Fund, which is used for crew events, are welcomed at the Purser Office onboard.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean’s automatic gratuity is $14.50 per person per day for standard guests; and $17.50 per person per day for suite guests.
Gratuities are shared among dining, bar and culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes to enhance the cruise experience.
According to Seabourn’s website, “Gratuities are neither required nor expected on Seabourn ships.”
All gratuities onboard, including all service gratuities except spa, are included in Silversea’s all-inclusive fare.
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
When it officially launches in 2020, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will offer a fare that includes onboard gratuities for all restaurant, bar and housekeeping services, along with multiple dining venues, 24-hour in-suite dining, beverages such as beer, select spirits and wines, soft drinks, coffee, tea and bottled water in-suite and throughout the yacht, onboard entertainment and enrichment, use of the marina-style platform with access to watersports, and Wi-Fi.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking adds a discretionary hotel and dining charge of $15.00 per person per day to shipboard accounts. Those charges are shared among the waitstaff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards, galley staff, laundry staff, and others.
That fee does not include Viking’s 15 percent gratuity for bar and deck service.
As part of the lead up to the 2020 launch of its first ship, Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages revealed that all of its onboard gratuities will be included in the cruise fare.
Windstar raised its daily gratuities in January of this year — now, the luxury line charges $13.50 per person per day for gratuities for all guests.
Windstar also adds a 15 percent service charge for bar service.
While it’s important to recognize that gratuities are a primary way of rewarding on board crews that make the experience of sailing special, most cruise lines allow guests to adjust (either increase or decrease) the amount paid in gratuities by going to guest services during the cruise. So you can feel confident that you are paying what you feel is fair.
Gratuity and service fee amounts valid at time of publishing
2 Bedroom Crystal Suite ~ style on the rivers of Europe
TWO-BEDROOM CRYSTAL SUITE WITH FRENCH BALCONY (CS)
The most stylish suite on the rivers of Europe welcomes up to six pampered guests with butler-serviced luxury, daily hors d’oeuvres and canapés, two deluxe bedrooms with en-suite baths, sumptuous living and dining areas, and a suite-wide triple French balcony.
Size: 883 Sq Feet featuring 2 bedrooms and a French Balcony – Category CS
LIVE & DINE
The living and dining area of your tranquil river oasis combines luxe features such as carved marble fireplace and chandelier with creature comforts including powder room, bar, dining table for four, and custom furnishings. Perfect for entertaining.
Two lavish bedrooms feature king-size beds, fine Egyptian linens, spacious closets and access to the suite-wide French balcony. Modern nightstands include charging pads and USB outlets, and large flat-screen HD TVs provide access to movies on demand.
Each stunning bathroom in this opulent suite features vanity with halo-lit mirror, glass-enclosed rain shower, heated towel rails, and plush ETRO robes and slippers, as well as bath amenities from the Italian fashion house.
Extraordinary personal attention provided by your own European-trained butler will elevate your voyage from a vacation to a true luxury experience. Every preference quietly noted; every wish graciously fulfilled by a caring Crystal staff member
Shore Excursion Highlight: Tallinn Country Home Visit & Old Town
This excursion immerses you in the beautiful scenery and relaxed pace of Estonia’s countryside, highlighted by visits to an ancient burial site, a local garden, a local inn and complemented with a short tour of Tallinn’s Old Town.
Length: Approx. 8 hours
Walking Type: Medium
Activity Type: Adentures
Departing the pier aboard your motor coach, venture through downtown Tallinn and head east, traveling through Estonia’s most historic areas, which were settled as long as 5,000 years ago.
Appreciate the region’s rich archaeological heritage with a stop at an ancient burial ground, which dates to the 9th century BC.
Your journey continues as your motor coach makes its way past forests and pastures, soon reaching the home of a local resident. Enjoy a stop for a garden tour and refreshments served out-of-doors.
Your next taste of country life is a visit to Palmse, one of Estonia’s best-known manors. Its manor house dates from the 17th to 18th centuries and exhibits period furniture from those times. Also, view an exhibition of vintage bicycles.
Following a walk of the manor’s grounds, proceed to Palmse Inn for lunch, featuring a taste of local specialties, before returning to the pier and your Crystal ship.
Crystal Shines Spotlight On Experiences Of Discovery Theme Cruises
Crystal Cruises is well known as a luxury line, and our ilovecruising.com cruise specialists certainly agree! But what you may not know is that the enrichment opportunities while sailing are almost limitless. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 Crystal Cruises is expanding their Theme Cruise options even more. So not only will you be able to sail in luxurious style you can pursue a passion of yours or better yet, take a cruise featuring something you’ve always wanted to delve deeper into.
Crystal Cruises “Experiences of Discovery” voyages will offer enhanced programming on a wide array of specialized subjects, special guest lecturers and instructors will be sailing giving you a chance to join in on interactive sessions on board. This also includes onshore experiences to enhance the immersive theme of these voyages. And if you and your travelling companions have different interest, several of the line’s all-inclusive luxury sailings will feature programming for more than one dedicated theme.
“Luxury travelers expect to be enlightened and stimulated as they explore the world with Crystal, and our ‘Experiences of Discovery’ offer opportunities for them to broaden their horizons even further,” said Carmen Roig, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Whether piquing guests’ interest in a new area or deepening their fascinations with long-held pastimes, the programming for each of these voyages is designed to spark conversation and an increasing curiosity for travelers.”
Broadway talent, world-class golf courses, culinary delights and more. Theme cruises in 2019, 2020 and 2021 aboard the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity include:
President’s Cruise – Crystal president and CEO, Tom Wolber, and his wife, Sharon, will host special receptions, Q&A sessions and an excursion ashore aboard Crystal Symphony.
2019: December 1
2020: December 7
Crystal on Broadway – Crystal’s stages will feature performances and engaging presentations from the creative talents of stage and theatre, thanks to Crystal’s partnership with multi-Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Kevin McCollum, on voyages in the Mediterranean and Western Europe, Alaska, South Pacific, Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Pacific West Coast and Hawaii.
2019: January 5, 6 and 14, April 8, May 29, July 2, 12, 29 and 30, August 10 and 12, September 17, 21 and 28, October 10, 11, 23 and 25, November 8 and 24, December 1, 11, 14, 21 and 22.
Crystal Wine & Food Festival – Accomplished and acclaimed chefs, wine sommeliers, mixologists and other culinary masters share expertise with special dinners, hands-on instruction and demos and tastings in the South Pacific, Australia, North Cape, Asia, Caribbean, Western and Northern Europe, Arabian Gulf, North American East Coast, and South and Central America.
2019: January 5 and 14, April 26, June 21, September 28 and November 24
2020: March 3, May 8, June 19, August 30, October 23 and 30
2021: January 5 and 21, April 8 and 24, June 13 and October 27
Golf – Golfers can perfect their swing on board with PGA instructors and learn insights of the PGA tour from guest golf celebrities and experts. Ashore, they can challenge their handicap on spectacular and renowned courses in Western Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and Pacific West Coast and Hawaii, with Crystal taking care of the details, including club transport, storage and cleaning, plus special onboard instruction from pros and friendly competitions among players.
2019: June 10, August 12 and December 21
2020: March 1 and July 25
2021: February 19, April 13, July 20, August 13 and 20 and September 5
Big Band & Ballroom Dance – Live daily and nightly performances throughout the ship, plus additional Ambassador Hosts for ladies without dance partners, allow guests to swing, tango, waltz and rhumba their way across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal.
2019: October 11 and November 12
2020: August 30 and November 21
2021: October 26
Jazz Days & Cabaret Nights – Live performances by some of today’s jazz greats and presentations from experts and historians about the legends of the craft add rhythm to the South Pacific, North American East Coast, Mediterranean, Mexico and Costa Rica.
2019: February 19 and September 28
2020: October 30
2021: October 11
Mind, Body & Spirit – Health and wellness experts from Tai Chi masters and yoga gurus to nutritionists and Cleveland Clinic medical minds will share tips for living one’s best life on North Cape, Mediterranean, Arabian Gulf, Caribbean and Australia and New Zealand voyages.
2019: June 21 and October 25
2020: May 10 and October 23
2021: December 6
Magic – Crystal’s exclusive partnership with the renowned Magic Castle presents the sleight of hand and mesmerizing illusions of talented magicians in the Caribbean, New England and Canada.
2019: November 24
2020: September 20
2021: December 12
Film & Theatre – Fans of stage and cinema will be treated to performances and showings of classics, plus entertaining presentations and Q&A with some of show biz’s great minds in Japan, Alaska, Europe and the north American East Coast.
2019: May 26
2020: August 19
2021: September 5
Ocean Views – Acclaimed guest speakers join panel discussions on politics and world affairs, inviting guests to engage in Q&A sessions and real-time debate via interactive polling devices on sailings through the Caribbean, South Pacific, Africa, Western Europe, Holy Land, India, Arabian Gulf, China and Japan.
2019: January 5 and 14, March 13 and May 9
2020: January 22, April 3 and May 8
2021: January 5, 21 and 27, March 22 and April 24
Crystal Society – Returning guests will be treated to special receptions, excursions and other perks on a celebratory sailing in the Caribbean.
2019: October 25
2020: October 30
2021: January 5 and 21, May 12
Detailed information about guest lecturers and experts for each Experiences of Discovery voyage will be announced when confirmed.