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September 17, 2012

Cunard Line Offers World Cruise Videos

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Ever wondered if a World Cruise was really for you? Now's your chance to hear from some World Cruise passengers what it's all about!

Cunard Line recently released a set of videos highlighting the thoughts of some World Cruise passengers. The first video released (the link is below) has three couples from the USA discussing some of their favourite experiences onboard their World Cruise.

Click here to watch the first World Cruise video!

Highlights of the video include guests sharing how they came to first sail on a Cunard World Cruise, and why they have sailed again since, what they enjoy about life onboard the ship, and the many interesting people they've met over the years!

Enjoy this first video and check back in October when the second video is released. It is scheduled to include travel experience highlights such as the Taj Majal, the Egyptian Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China!

For more information about booking a World Cruise contact a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Paradise.com

Posted by Denise at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2012

Paul Gauguin Cruise Views Humpback Whales

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The m/s Paul Gauguin was in Rurutu's Avera Bay recently and had a close encounter with some humpback whales! Rurutu is an island in the Austral chain of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Take a look at these great photos...

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Posted by Denise at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

InterContinental Resorts French Polynesia

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InterContinental Resorts in French Polynesia are offering a new special for travel from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. This promotion offers guests FREE breakfast and dinner daily for two persons when booking a minmum stay of 3 consecutive nights! This promotion is offered for the InterContinental Resort Tahiti (Panoramic and Overwater Bungalow room types only), InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa (all rooms except the Lanai Room) or InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort (all room types)! If you've ever visited French Polynesia you'll know how expensive dinners can be and see this is a great offer!

For more information, or to book a Tahiti holiday, contact a Tahiti Tiare Specialist at Cruising2Tahiti.com!

Posted by Denise at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2012

Celebrity Cruises Announces Celebrity Solstice Will Offer 2013 Alaska Cruises!

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Celebrity Cruisese Unveils Information About It's 2013 Schedule!

Celebrity Cruises shared a sneak preview of its itinerary plans for the summer of 2013. Speaking to an audience of travel partners and press in London, Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan revealed that, for the first time, joining Celebrity Eclipse in offering modern luxury vacation experiences from the UK will be the newly 'Solsticized' Celebrity Infinity.

"Like the reaction to every stunning Solstice Class ship, the response to Celebrity Eclipse from our guests and travel partners has been extremely rewarding, ever since it debuted in Southampton in 2010," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "Our decision to expand our European vacation options from the UK on our newly Solsticized Celebrity Infinity is in direct response to increased demand for more of the modern luxury holidays that only Celebrity can provide, as validated by the expanding host of honors our brand continues to receive."

Within the past three months alone, Celebrity has been named the world's Best Large-Ship Line in the coveted Conde Nast Traveler's annual Readers' Choice Awards (US); "Best Premium Cruise Company" in Travel Weekly's annual Globe Awards (UK); "Best Luxury Cruise Company" in the Travel Agents Association Awards (UK); and "Best Cruise Line in Europe" for the second consecutive year, in addition to "Best Premium Cruise Line," in Travel Weekly's annual Readers' Choice Awards (US).

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Celebrity Eclipse - which this week was named "Best from the UK" in Cruise Critic's Cruisers' Choice Awards - will continue to offer sailings from Southampton in the spring and summer of 2013, while Celebrity Infinity - which emerged in December 2011 from Celebrity's ambitious, four-ship, $140-million Solsticizing investment - will present enticing new British Isles and Fjords sailings from Harwich, England.

Bigger and better, with the most and newest ships in Europe
The summer of 2013 will mark Celebrity's biggest season ever in Europe, with Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Silhouette, and Celebrity Reflection - which debuts in October of this year - all joining Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Infinity in offering the broadest array of modern luxury cruises and cruisetours on the newest fleet of ships in the region.

Celebrity Solstice to 'heat things up' in Alaska
The sleek, 2,850-guest flagship of the Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Solstice - named "Best Premium Ship" in Travel Weekly's annual Readers' Choice Awards (US) - will become the first of its class to offer vacations in Alaska in the summer of 2013, joining Celebrity Century and Celebrity Millennium in pairing Celebrity's chic style and design, signature cuisine, exciting activities and extraordinary service with the region's breathtaking, inspiring scenery.

"Celebrity Solstice is the ideal platform for a genuine modern luxury vacation in the gorgeous state of Alaska," said Hanrahan. "The ship's sheer beauty will perfectly complement the region's incredible scenery. And with 85 percent veranda accommodations, our guests will have that many more opportunities to take in the endlessly appealing views, combined with our unparalleled onboard experience and service provided by the best group of hospitality professionals in the world."

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Rounding out Celebrity's 2013 summer season
Celebrity Summit, which just this month became the third in Celebrity's Millennium Class fleet to complete the brand's noted Solsticizing initiative - incorporating a host of guest-favorite venues and experiences from the Solstice Class onto the Millennium Class - will once again offer Celebrity's popular Bermuda vacation experiences from the Northeast.

The intimate, 96-guest Celebrity Xpedition - ranked among the top 20 small ships in the world in Conde Nast Traveler's "Best Ships in the World" readers' poll this year - will continue to offer the once-in-a-lifetime vacation experiences the brand has offered year-round since 2004 in the enchanting Galapagos Islands.

Complete details of Celebrity's summer 2013 itineraries - including the full slate of featured destinations, cruisetours and dates of departure - will be announced when the first of the series opens for booking in early March. The line will continue to present special booking options exclusively for the valued members of its Captain's Club loyalty program.

View Celebrity Cruises Alaska Cruises & Cruisetours

View Celebrity Cruises Europe Cruises

Posted by Denise at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2012

New Alaska Cruisetour Packages with Norwegian Cruise Line for 2013!

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Norwegian Cruise Line Launches New Alaska Cruisetours

Guests can now book pre and post Cruisetours for an authentic Alaska experience

Miami - Jan 11, 2012 - Starting today, Norwegian Cruise Line guests can book pre- or post- Cruisetours to round out their dream Alaskan cruise vacations in 2013. Ranging in length from four to six days, guests can select the perfect Alaskan adventure from four different packages. The tours are escorted by a local Alaskan guide, giving each guest the opportunity to experience the authentic beauty of Alaska. Each Cruisetour features two nights in Denali National Park, as well as a ride on the iconic Alaska Railroad.

For guests wanting to explore the wilderness or the history of Alaska, there are two five-day options available: Denali / Alyeska Explorer and Denali / Fairbanks Explorer. The Denali / Alyeska Explorer gives guests the opportunity to hike on Winner Creek Trail, visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see animals in their natural setting or take a helicopter ride to land atop a glacier. The Denali / Fairbanks Explorer offers an up close look at the Gold Rush that swept the nation, the Alaskan Pipeline, a visit to an Athabascan Indian Village and the chance to experience the midnight sun.

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For those with an adventurous spirit, the Authentic Alaska Cruisetour is the best option, offering diverse activities in a six-day tour. Guests can take a trip to an Iditarod Sled Dog Musher's house to learn about the "Last Great Race" and meet some of the dogs (also included in both Explorer Cruisetours). In Homer, guests can learn more about the fishing history as well as take in the scenic view of Katchermark Ba''s glaciers and mountains. The tour concludes with a visit to Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, where guests can enjoy hiking trails, local restaurants and the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

Guests who have limited time to explore the state can take advantage of the Denali Express package to explore Alaska in four days. Two days in Denali can be spent visiting the Denali National Park to view wildlife or go rafting, fly fishing, golfing and hiking before taking a ride on the world famous Alaska Railroad.

"We want to offer our guests a chance to have an authentic Alaskan experience before or after their cruise as this is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's chief executive officer. "Our new Cruisetours give guests an up close look at the culture, wildlife and natural beauty of this destination and are all guided by a knowledgeable Alaskan local."

On sale today, pre- or post-cruise land packages can be purchased as part of Norwegian Sun's 2013 cruises from Whittier, Alaska. Beginning May 20, 2013, Norwegian Sun's northbound itinerary departs Vancouver, British Columbia on Mondays, and will cruise the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and make stops in the Alaskan favorites of Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. On her southbound itineraries from Whittier, Alaska, the ship will cruise the Inside Passage, Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier, as well as making stops in Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Icy Strait Point. Further information can be found by visiting Norwegian's Alaskan's Cruisetours website. Guests wanting to book an Alaska cruise with a Cruisetour on Norwegian, should contact an Alaska Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com, call 1-800-738-8837.

View Alaska Cruise Specials!

Posted by Denise at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2012

First Cruise Vacations Offered to St. Vincent

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Today is the first day you can book a cruise vacation to St. Vincent! Thank Royal Caribbean for adding St. Vincent to select Caribbean cruises available today for booking.

Vision of the Seas, a 2,000 passenger cruise ship, will offer an 11 night South Caribbean cruise vacation sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida that includes St. Vincent. The schedule departure dates are December 3, 2012, December 24, 2012 and February 4, 2013.

This is the first time a cruise ship will make St. Vincent a port of call.

The full cruise itinerary is:

Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Day 2 - Cruising

Day 3 - Cruising

Day 4 - St. John's, Antigua 8:00AM to 5:00PM

Day 5 - Castries, St. Lucia 8:00AM to 5:00PM

Day 6 - Bridgetown, Barbados 8:00AM to 5:00PM

Day 7 - Kingstown, St. Vincent 7:00AM to 2:00PM

Day 8 - Kralendijk, Bonaire 1:00PM to 7:00PM

Day 9 - Oranjestad, Aruba 7:00AM to 5:00PM

Day 10 - Cruising

Day 11 - Cruising

Day 12 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The Vision of the Seas isn't the newest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. It has been fully redone and offers a Vitality Spa, Solarium Pool, Rock Climbing Wall, Casino Royale, eight bars and lounges, and much more.

For more information or to book a cruise click here!

Written by Denise Blackmore, MCC

Posted by Denise at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Line

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Norwegian Cruise Line made two announcements over the past two days. The first annoucement was regarding their newest ship build, Norwegian Breakaway.

Norwegian Breakaway is planned to sail year-round from New York City. The 4,000 passenger ship will offer the following cruise vacations:

  • April 2013 - 8 Day Trans-Atlantic from London to New York City
  • May 12 to October 6 - 7 Day Bermuda Cruises Roundtrip New York City to King's Wharf
  • October 13 to April 13 - 7 Day Bahamas & Florida Cruises roundtrip New York City to Port Canaveral/Orlando, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay/Bahamas

    The second annoucement is the introduction of a new Youth Program. Norwegian Cruise Line has a large number of families that cruise with them; in fact 150,000 children sailed with NCL in 2010.

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    Here are the changes:

  • There will be new age groups for the program: 3 to 5 years; 6 to 8 years; 9 to 12 years; along with two teen groups: 13 to 14 and 15 to 17 years
  • There will also be programming for babies and toddlers ages six months to two years.

  • The new fully developed and enhanced curriculum tailored to each age group is being produced in conjunction with The King's Foundation and Camps, a United Kingdom-based organization that provides high quality sport and activity programs designed to make a positive impact on children. More focus will be placed on sporting activities, arts and crafts, theater and technology. Activities will change every 30 to 60 minutes depending on the age group and will be set within blocks of programming time in the morning, afternoon and evening.

  • The new curriculum will also include creative themes, such as circus day, theater/technology/sports and port of call day. The company has engaged Cirque Du Jour, a New York-based company that specializes in teaching children real circus skills such as scarf juggling, ball juggling, plate spinning, clowning and acrobatics. Circus workshops and shows will also be offered for the entire family.

  • In addition, the youth programs will be expanded to utilize other areas of the ships, including the sports courts, rock walls, theaters, lounges and public spaces and will feature more family events such as parades and scavenger hunts.

  • The company is also investing in its youth staff, by increasing the ratio of staff to children and establishing new criteria for the hiring of counselors, including the requirement of a college degree in recreation or child care (or the equivalent experience).

    Over the last 5 years Norwegian Cruise Line has made many changes; both at their head office updating their reservation system for travel agents and making improvements on their cruise ships. I'm happy to report that I have been truly impressed with their efforts and changes. The Norwegian Epic is a fabulous ship with so many great improvements, which they learned from and have incorporated on all their other ships. If you haven't taken a Norwegian cruise for a few years try it again and you too will be impressed!

    Written By Denise Blackmore, MCC

    Posted by Denise at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)
  • January 02, 2012

    Capture The Beauty Of Greece!

    Over time I have seen many pictures of the Mediterranean and wondered 'where is that?' Chances are, after doing some research I would find that picturesque place to be in Greece.

    Thanks to Greece Tourism I can share with you the top photographed spots in Greece! Take a look . . .

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    SANTORINI

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    MOUNT ATHOS

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    BALOS, CRETE

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    ACROPOLIS, ATHENS

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    SOUNIO, ATHENS

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    THE SHIPWRECK BEACH, ZAKYNTHOS

    Posted by Denise at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

    November 10, 2011

    AmaWaterways To Offer Africa Trips!

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    AmaWaterways is a European river cruise specialist that has announced it's plan to launch trips to Southern Africa. AmaWaterways is a fast-growing line that plans to offer Africa Safaris and Wildlife Cruise packages in June 2012. It will pair a four night cruise on the Chobe River, between Botswana and Namibia, with a land package safari featuring Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

    AmaWaterways will offer the four night cruises onboard the Zambezi Queen, a 28 passenger upscale vessel that was built in 2009. AmaWaterways co-founder Kristin Karst states "Nobody has ever combined the river cruise with the land arrangements, and that's where we feel we can come in".

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    There are three African programs offered in 2012 by AmaWaterways. They include:

    Stars of Africa
    16 Days in length you'll enjoy 3 nights in Cape Town, 3 nights in Kruger National Park and 1 night in Johannesburg before embarking on a 4 night safari cruise, which ends with 2 nights in Victoria Falls

    African Sunsets
    16 Days in length you'll enjoy 3 nights in Cape Town, 2 nights in Okavango Delta and 2 nights in Savute before a 4 night safari cruise, which ends with 2 nights in Victoria Falls

    Golden Travls of Africa
    19 Days in length you'll enjoy 1 night in Nairobi, 8 nights at game reserves in Amboseli, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti, 1 night in Johannesburg then a 4 night safari cruise, which ends with 2 nights in Victoria Falls.

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    This is an exciting announcement for people interested in visiting Africa. For more information contact a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Paradise.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

    November 09, 2011

    MARTINA MCBRIDE ONBOARD VOYAGER OF THE SEAS!

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    In November 2011, Royal Caribbean International will have a party onboard the Voyager of the Seas featuring country singer Martina McBride. Royal Caribbean is celebrating it's return to New Orleans.

    The eight-time "Best Cruise Line Overall" award winner has teamed with Republic Nashville to treat invited guests to a special, live performance by one of country music's most beloved artists, Martina McBride.

    Martina debuted her new ablum, Eleven, on October 11th. The concert will be onboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas Saturday, November 19th. Voyager of the Seas is the largest and most innovative cruise ships ever to homeport in New Orleans. The concert by Martina is for invited guests in the ship's Lyric Theatre before the ship set sails on it's 7 night Western Caribbean Thanksgiving cruise.

    About Marina McBride

  • GrammyR-winning recording artist with more than 18 million in album sales
  • Twenty-four Top 10 singles, including six that hit No. 1
  • Four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Three-time ACM Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Hits include: Independence Day, This One's for the Girls and Ride
  • First album on Republic Nashville, ELEVEN, includes her first new music since 2009 - Teenage Daughters and I'm Gonna Love You Through It

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    About Voyager of the Seas

  • Ranks among one of the world's 10 largest, most innovative cruise ships
  • Features a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, nine-hole mini-golf course, in-line skating track, full-size basketball court, Casino Royale , Royal Promenade, boutiques, restaurants, bars and lounges
  • Offers world-renowned Gold Anchor Service, which comprises the Royal Advantage - our drive to provide the most innovative ships, destinations and personalized service
  • Sails to: Caribbean, Europe, Australia, Asia

    Take a cruise to the Caribbean with Cruising2Mexico.com

    Posted by Denise at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
  • September 15, 2011

    The Alaska Interior

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    Alaska was at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. My father had fostered my love of wildlife and wilderness during my childhood in Pennsylvania, and I expected that Alaska would hold an abundance of both. Well, I was right. In 1983, at the age of 28, I followed my dream to visit Alaska and cruised from Vancouver to Whittier.

    The untouched, spectacular beauty of Alaska deeply impressed me, and as my flight home from Anchorage took off over the snow-capped Wrangell-St. Elias mountain range, my fate was sealed. I knew with absolute certainty that I would come back to this place. I had not seen Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. I wondered, though, how I would afford to return.

    Two months later I began my first day of employment as a district sales manager with Princess Cruises, where I would have the opportunity to share my knowledge of and enthusiasm for Alaska. And, since we offer land tours into the interior of Alaska, I knew one day I'd be able to see Mt. McKinley.

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    It was three years and one month later when I finally set my eyes on this great 20,320-foot mountain, the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve. The mountain was named after President William McKinley in 1897, but most locals refer to it by its native Athabaskan name: Denali, meaning "the high one."

    In 1913, a four-man team led by Harry Karstens (who later became the park's first superintendent) reached the summit of Denali. Harry's team included Walter Harper, an Alaskan native, and he was the first man to set foot on the summit. Since then, more than 16,000 climbers have reached the summit and twice as many have attempted the climb but turned back. When I first saw the mountain, I knew that I'd never climb it but I'd never tire of gazing up at its majesty.

    Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses 6 million acres of forest, taiga, tundra, glaciers, rock and snow. It's also home to a healthy population of grizzly bears, black bears, caribou, moose and Dall sheep. The park has its own rhythm of movement that changes with the seasons and has influenced my life in one way or another with each subsequent visit.

    Closest to my heart, my Alaska story leads to love. As my passion for this place increased over the years, I have the 49th state to thank for introducing me to my husband, Barry, also a lover of the "Great Land."

    I was doing the online dating game when I came across his profile picture. Before I noticed his handsome face I was drawn to the backdrop of his photo, which was a glacial terrain. I immediately asked him, "Was this photo taken in Alaska?" That question and his "yes" response opened a dialogue that resulted in our marriage. He had also visited Alaska and longed to return.

    So, it was fitting that we honeymooned in the interior of Alaska, visiting three of our lodges - Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge to fish for salmon; Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge so we could visit the park and see Mt. McKinley; and Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, to experience the Kenai Fjords.

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    First, we visited the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge near Copper Center, where we fished for King salmon on the Gulkana River. As luck would have it, I got a bite - a big bite! I caught a 40-inch, 25-pound King that neither my husband nor the outfitter would help me reel in so in the end when I landed the huge fish, I'd truly caught it all by myself!

    Our next stop was the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, just moments away from the entrance to Denali National Park. Although I'd been there before, this time we'd travel all the way to the end of the park's 92-mile road in Kantishna. This roundtrip excursion would take 12 hours as we passed through the most pristine wilderness in our National Park System. Our guide drew us into the heart of Alaska with knowledge and insight that only 25 years of experience could foster. My husband had insisted upon bringing a heavy, high-powered pair of binoculars that, I reminded him, would have to be carried in our hand luggage. But as we focused in on bears frolicking in the underbrush and Dall sheep scaling the craggy cliffs, I was thrilled.

    The animals were second only to the moment when we turned the corner at the end of the road in Kantishna to gaze at Wonder Lake. I recognized the view from the famous Ansel Adams shot of the reflection of Denali in the lake. As we left the park that evening, we were tired but filled with the certainty of knowing this vast wilderness would always remain just that.

    It's a gigantic park and 400,000 people have the opportunity to visit it every year. Due to the genius of the National Park System, guides driving school buses carry us all in, teach us to understand and appreciate what we're seeing, and carry us back out to our own worlds with lighter hearts and broader minds.

    What could top a King catch and an inspiring day in Denali? Yet another of Alaska's national parks: Kenai Fjords National Park.

    We took off from the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, located at the end of the Kenai Peninsula, to head for one of our nation's few water-based national parks. This park is abundant with spectacular scenery, glaciers and every type of marine wildlife Alaska has to offer, including sea otters, puffins, seals, dolphins and, of course, whales.

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    The highlight of the day was observing whales engaging in cooperative feeding, an activity that had never before been recorded by scientists in this area. The naturalist commentating from the bridge explained that this activity was accomplished by several humpback whales working together. One whale creates a bubble screen that confuses and immobilizes the fish. Then, all together, the other whales dive through the bubbles with mouths open to scoop up the fish. We saw four whales jump into the air with their mouths open! We left the boat mesmerized, a little sunburned and once again deeply moved by Alaska's natural wonders.

    In most men's wallets you'll find nice posed pictures of their wives. My husband carries a picture of me with my King. No one could argue that we're a match made in heaven - our relationship was sparked by a place that could easily be considered heaven on earth.

    Following my bucket-list dream influenced my whole life. It led me to a rewarding career and a wonderful husband. What will you miss if you don't pursue your bucket list?

    Written By Judy Bliss

    Alaska Cruisetours with Princess Cruises

    Alaska Cruise Deals with Princess Cruises

    Posted by Denise at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

    August 24, 2011

    Vancouver, BC Canada

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    If I ever left my heart in a city, it would have to be Vancouver. Like my wife, Dawn, Vancouver for me was love at first sight. This beautiful Canadian city has been the backdrop for some of my most cherished life moments and I anticipate many visits and meaningful experiences there in the future.

    On our vacation this year, my family sailed from Whittier to Vancouver aboard Diamond Princess. It was somewhat sentimental for me as it took me back to when I first joined Princess Cruises as a seafarer, when I signed up for an Alaska season to work aboard the original Royal Princess for what I thought would be a brief six-month escape from my life in the UK. It's now 24 years later (to the month) and I'm still happily working for Princess.

    This recent voyage not only took me back to my first week at sea, but also reminded me of when I first fell in love with Vancouver. Standing on the top deck sailing under the Lionsgate Bridge past Stanley Park, I harkened back to a somewhat fresh but clear Saturday morning on August 8, 1987 when I first sailed into Vancouver on Royal Princess.

    Little did I realize then how much the city would capture such a special part of my life and eventually become part of me, particularly because it's the hometown of my wife, Dawn. We got married in Vancouver and now we travel there frequently with our kids Jordan (4) and Jenna (11 months). You could say, it's our second home.

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    I'd always been intrigued by the amazing friendliness and warm hospitality of the Canadians. After completing that first tour of duty, I took local leave and explored Canada from the West Coast to the East Coast using a student rail pass. It was in Vancouver that I met some local chaps who helped me map out my Canadian journey, giving me insider tips and must-see sights. After my amazing six-week trip, I knew one thing for certain-I wanted to go back to Vancouver. I felt so at home and connected to the people.

    On our most recent trip, we made sure to experience a grand entrance into Vancouver, an amazing event in itself. Granted, it's a very early morning for those who want to watch the ship's final approach into Canada Place, but armed with a cup of coffee it's really worth the 5:30 a.m. wake-up call. Vancouver easily rates as one of the world's most scenic ports and sailing into the city reminds me of a fellow Englishman, Captain George Vancouver, who on June 13, 1792, was exploring the same Burrard Inlet just before his 35th birthday.

    Admittedly Captain Vancouver's two-year voyage from England took a little longer, as he had to take the scenic route via Capetown, New Zealand, Tahiti, and China. The city adopted his name in 1886.

    Today, it's the fourth largest port in North America and major film production studios have now turned Vancouver into the third largest film production location in North America, after Los Angeles and New York. The city certainly lives up to its many accolades and has frequently been recognized as one of the top cities in the world in which to live.

    As with many other West Coast locations, Vancouver experiences spectacular sunsets. One of the best spots for enjoying a scenic evening is at English Bay, in a restaurant or bar, or simply sitting on the beach. If you've really timed it right, make sure you're there for the annual International Fireworks Competition, which is held in July and August.

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    That's what we did in 2004 when, together with 100 of our closest family and friends . . . and a priest, I hired a boat to tie the knot with my amazing wife. After the ceremony we were all treated to dinner and a perfect view of the fireworks competition - a truly enchanting and memorable evening topped off with a rare blue moon. It was perfect!

    Now that Dawn and I have kids, with family and friends in Vancouver I-ve discovered there is plenty to keep all ages intrigued while exploring the city. Stanley Park, one of North America-s biggest urban parks, has six miles of sea wall that, regardless of the weather, is frequented by Vancouverites and visitors alike enjoying walking, jogging, biking, and skating. The park offers numerous choices of transport - a horse-drawn tour will drive you comfortably around the park, or you can walk it in three hours.

    In the middle of the park we like to visit the Vancouver Aquarium and the Stanley Park Miniature Steam Railway - a particular favorite of Jordan's, since as a typical lad he simply loves anything to do with trains. Whilst on the east side of the park, it's always nice to sit on a bench and take a moment to enjoy the sights of Coal Harbour with its busy float planes or cruise ships gracefully entering and leaving the port. Following tradition, at noon every day the Heritage Horns sing out the first four notes of "O Canada" (Canada's National Anthem), while at nine o'clock each evening the Stanley Park Gun (first fired in 1898) is sounded from the cannon perched on the sea wall.

    Just around the corner from Stanley Park are English Bay and False Creek, home of a favorite of our kids . . . Granville Island! The fun starts with a foot-ferry ride from False Creek to get to the Island. Once we've landed, the kids go wild at the Kids Market and Water Park & Adventure Playground, while parents can enjoy the market, a selection of stores, restaurants . . . or (my favorite) simply sit back and relax with a coffee as you are entertained by performances of the local street artists, or watch the water traffic sail by.

    To enjoy a bird's eye view of Vancouver, my favorite vantage point is Grouse Mountain. Located just 15 minutes from downtown, this peak offers spectacular views in summer or the snow of winter. It's easy to get up to the summit by cable car, and at the top visitors can not only take in the scenery but can enjoy a great meal. Of course, if it's winter . . . don?t forget your skis!!

    It's been 24 years since I first caught sight of Vancouver from the deck of a cruise ship. Today, as I think of all the city has given me and what it means to my family, I can't think of a better place to stop and stay a while.

    Written By David Price, Director of Hotel Operations Princess Cruises

    View Alaska Cruise Deals with Princess Cruises From Vancouver!

    Posted by Denise at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

    August 03, 2011

    Amsterdam, Netherlands

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    Amsterdam is a city of canals, historic row houses and freewheeling social policies that attract visitors from the world over. As I discovered, it's also a city of very determined cyclists and committed distance walkers.

    In October 2005, I traveled to Amsterdam for a few days to meet a wing of my family that I'd long heard of but never met. My second cousin Tjalda and her husband Albert lived in the southern part of the city. My grandfather was born in the Netherlands and was Tjalda's great uncle. My mother was always telling me I should go meet my Dutch relatives-years later I finally made the trip from San Francisco to Amsterdam.

    As I got off the city shuttle train from Schiphol Airport, hauling a heavy bag and giant roller suitcase, filled with finery for the cruise I would take after this visit, Tjalda met me . . . astride her bicycle with no more than a wicker basket for storage.

    We shared a warm greeting - honestly, I felt like I knew her already - and continued to Tjalda's house. As Tjalda wheeled her bike, I slowly walked the five blocks. One of the first things I noticed was that Amsterdam streets were filled with cyclists. They were everywhere and seemed to own the roads more so than the cars.

    Tjalda's house was a narrow, three-story row house in the typical Dutch style I'd seen in photographs. Once inside, I noticed how modestly furnished it was. The Dutch have a reputation for frugality and my relatives seemed to live without unnecessary bells and whistles (which I love and admire).

    My luggage, alas, was still my millstone. Dutch row houses have narrow, winding staircases. It wasn't worth dragging my heavy bags up to the third-floor guest room, so I plucked out what I'd need for the next three days and carried that up instead.

    Tjalda and I chatted for a while about my grandfather who moved from the Netherlands to Colorado where my mother and, years later, I grew up. Tjalda's brother had visited us there a few times, staying at my grandfather's old miner's cabin we keep in Ouray, Colorado, so she was familiar with the many stories about him. A noted naturalist, landscape architect and author, my grandfather, M. Walter Pesman, has written a few books about native flora that are still in print.

    While I spoke no Dutch and Tjalda halting English, we discovered we both love the outdoors and try to eat healthfully. Perhaps the roots of that love for what grows from the land and a desire to live simply lay with my Dutch grandfather.

    That first day we walked to the market: a series of connected outdoor stalls, one selling fish, others with fruit and vegetables, flowers and cheese. I was amazed by the giant wheels of Gouda, some as big as truck tires, plunked on the counters for portioning.

    Tjalda cooked the spoils of our market trip for dinner that night. The broiled fish and vegetables were the perfect healthful meal to restore my energy after my long trip. And I needed that strength for the next day. Tjalda tried to convince me to take a "little" 50-mile bike ride with her. While I love to hike and ride bikes, I didn't think I had 50 miles in me, so we settled on a route that would cover about 30.

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    Even though I am a long-legged 5 feet 10 inches, Albert's bike was a little big for me so I felt a bit wobbly riding through the busy streets of Amsterdam. But the day was so beautiful, light and sunny, I soon learned to ride the streets like a native. To get out of town, we caught a free ferry at the Centraal Station and soon we were wheeling our way through the countryside.

    We rode across the flat Dutch landscape alongside canals adorned with gliding swans, famous windmills, and miles of dormant flower and agricultural fields. As we approached the endlessly grey and choppy North Sea I felt exhilarated and recalled the country's great reputation for shipbuilding and pioneering engineering that reclaimed viable land from the marshy coastline.

    On our way back to Amsterdam, Tjalda convinced me to try a local specialty - herring. It's a popular local delicacy to the point that it's sold from street-corner carts like hot dogs in the United States. She told me about a 100-year-old lady who ate a herring a day and attributed her longevity to that. I did have a few bites even though it was a bit out of my comfort zone and it was very salty.

    The next day, Tjalda and Albert had to go to their jobs in The Hague, home to both the Dutch government and royal family, only 32 miles from Amsterdam. I left Albert's bike at home and decided to walk my way through the city. I love to wonder around cities alone and see as much as I can.

    The classic Dutch row houses, some as narrow as 25 feet across, compensate with height and character. I was charmed by the variations of stepped-front gables and scrolled tops.

    I took a canal boat ride and learned that these houses have hooks made for hoisting furniture up through the windows. Now I know how Tjalda and Albert furnished their upstairs rooms!

    Having read "The Diary of Anne Frank" as a child, one of my first priorities was to visit the Anne Frank House. I found the lines outside quite long, so for future visitors I recommend buying tickets online to skip the wait. The cramped, claustrophobic rooms made me shiver to think of how frightening life here was for this young girl. Anne Frank wrote so beautifully about the majestic chestnut tree that stood outside the house. Life upon its top branches - be it dew, blossoms or emerging leaves - became her link to the outside as she hid in the cramped attic. I looked out the same window at the same tree. And I was lucky to see it, as the old tree, rotten with fungus, fell in 2010.

    I continued my walk, crossing the Keizersgracht, the Herengracht, the Singel -just a few of Amsterdam's famed canals. At that point, I stopped to ask a woman for directions and I realized that she looked a lot like me - fair hair, blue eyes, longish nose and almost six feet tall. As a matter of fact, I realized a lot of people in the Netherlands looked like me, which had never happened on my travels before.

    When I returned back to Tjalda's, we went to the market and bought preparations for our last dinner together. I had come to see that my mother's suggestion to visit my Dutch relatives was an excellent one. I not only connected with Tjalda and Albert but discovered a commonality, a deep-rooted sense of familiarity and sameness with the Dutch. It took me a long time to discover my heritage, but I found it in the Netherlands.

    The next morning, Tjalda escorted me to the train station. This time, I was relieved to note, we loaded my luggage into the family's car and drove the five blocks.

    Written By Megan O'Toole August 2, 2011

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    Posted by Denise at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

    July 20, 2011

    Bora Bora, French Polynesia

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    InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa #37 of World's Top 100 Hotels

    The Travel + Leisure 2011 World's Best Awards have been published, and we are thrilled (okay, we're ecstatic) that InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa has been voted #37 of the Top 100 Hotels in the World. With a total score of 93.56, the resort comes in at #2 in the Australia / New Zealand / South Pacific Region.

    Readers of Travel + Leisure were given an opportunity to vote for their favorite properties over a four-month period beginning in December, 2010. The short list of 100 hotels is culled from a selection of thousands worldwide and represents the hotels that offer, "...special access, noteworthy amenities, above-and-beyond service, and authenticity of place."

    This coveted award comes on the heels of Thalasso's World's Best Service Award from Travel + Leisure in June. Readers gave the resort an impressive score of 93.33 this year; we were also honored with a Best Service award in 2010 with a score of 90.63.

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    More Good News: Weddings for Visitors Now Legal in Tahiti

    The June 2011 issue of TravelAge West carries the news destination wedding specialists been waiting for: visitors to Tahiti can now be legally married there. Gone are the days when couples have to establish a 30-day residency in Tahiti before they can tie the knot. Look closely at the cover... that happy married couple is shown leaving the Blue Lagoon Chapel at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa. (The article is well worth a read as it outlines the requirements for legal weddings and is full of information about becoming a Tahiti wedding specialist.)

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    Posted by Denise at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

    July 19, 2011

    Athens, Greece

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    Athens, Greece

    Athens was my first travel love. You could even say I yearned for it.

    Growing up in Romania under communism, sunny Athens seemed like a dream to me. Although Athens is less than 500 miles from the Romanian capital of Bucharest, it might as well have been 5,000 miles away. It seemed impossible that I, an ordinary girl without connections to the long-running regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, would ever see Athens or leave the country at all, for that matter.

    So I consoled myself by seeing the world through books. Reading Greek mythology allowed me to enter a universe governed by the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. I was completely fascinated. My favorite god/goddess was Artemis, twin sister to Apollo and the fearless goddess of the hunt. She was as strong and commanding as I wanted to be.

    Just after I turned 18, finally, the Ceausescu regime crumbled. Romania was the last of the Eastern Bloc countries to fall. My family did not have the means to immediately travel, but the world came to us, in the form of outside companies setting up businesses in our new, open society.

    I got a job at a Greek-owned import/export company, owned by an extremely kind Greek man. I worked very hard and was as aggressive as Artemis about doing a good job. Before long, I was promoted from doing invoices and inventories to processing important bank documents. Chocolates, fine liquor, coffee, oranges and bananas passed through the company. All the luxuries of the West came to Romania via Greece, increasing my curiosity about the country even more.

    My day came when my boss, recognizing my ambition, rewarded me with a trip to Greece with him and the other executives over Easter. We?d go for 10 days, first to Athens then on to Porto Hydra, to stay at his family villa.

    Imagine the good fortune?my first trip outside of Romania was to be to Athens, my dream destination. I?d grown up in a conservative religious family and had a sheltered childhood, but I was not afraid≠≠≠≠ and I couldn?t wait to go.

    Taking my first flight, I suffered not a second of anxiety. Finally arriving, I felt that Greece was more than another country, it was another planet. It was disorienting in the sense that their culture was similar to my own (sharing a region, like we did), but at the same time it was completely different.

    People seemed livelier, brighter and happier. I reminded myself that they had grown up with microwave ovens, unlimited access to tropical fruits, and TVs that got 20 channels?no wonder they were different.

    That first day, my colleagues made sure to take me to the Acropolis, the ancient site on a hill overlooking greater Athens. As it was spring, the hillside was ablaze with a breathtaking abundance of wildflowers.

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    Visiting the Acropolis was like a flashback to my mythology days?so many buildings and temples dedicated to the gods, who were like old friends to me. There was a connection between the books I loved and this place?all the intrigues and politics of ancient mythology reverberated 25 centuries later.

    The Acropolis, particularly the Parthenon, with its parade of Doric columns, still towers over greater Athens. Although the Acropolis dates back many centuries before the 5th Century BCE, most of the buildings that survive in this mythical compound date from that time. That was the Golden Age of Athens, the age of the ruler Pericles, who rebuilt the major temples, including the Parthenon, after invading Persians had sacked it.

    Going to Athens can only bring to mind the great contributions of the ancient Greeks. During the era of Pericles alone, great strides were made in architecture, art, literature and democracy. These ideas and art forms still shape the world today. The Acropolis and adjoining ancient Athens Agora, a market or meeting place, made evident how dynamic and sophisticated the ancient Greeks were.

    I was just as amazed by the vibrant street life of modern Athens.

    My boss took me to a bouzouki restaurant and it was truly overwhelming. I couldn?t believe that you were supposed to buy plates and crash them on the ground. I was quite shy at the time and wanted to be on my best behavior, so I had a hard time doing that. The bouzouki is a stringed instrument, so there was music, singing and dancing and, of course, very good food. The atmosphere was fun and vibrant.

    At the bouzouki place, I saw something gorgeous: my first gardenia. It?s one of the flowers of Greece and the audience threw gardenias on the stage for the singers. What a joyful and glorious gesture.

    The food in Greece is delicious. The fish, chicken and vegetables are simply prepared with olive oil, fresh herbs and lemon making it some of the healthiest food on earth. The sweets were beautiful to look at and taste, with their use of nuts and honey, very different from what I was used to. I also remember the alcohol. I wasn?t drinking any, but my hosts made me try ouzo? much too strong!

    While in Athens, I visited the Plaka area in central Athens, an old part of town with walking streets, cafes, shops and more. We passed by Hadrian?s Arch, erected to honor the Roman emperor around 131 CE, an important historical site and just one of so many that pop up and remind you that a walk in Athens is a walk through early civilization.

    We also walked along a boulevard with all the expensive, modern-day shops: Gucci, Chanel and Valentino. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, seeing all these extraordinary goods, but I was not as adventurous as her. I was too hesitant to actually enter the stores, but I did admire them nonetheless.

    The thing that impressed me the most was how the people on the street were smiling, relaxed and laughing. The street life felt like a big party or carnival, and that was very strange to me. The Greeks seemed to treat each other with such lightness and nonchalance.

    While I was there, Athens was preparing for Easter, which meant the streets were decorated for the holiday in a way that reminded me of Romania. There were brightly colored eggs in the stores and ceremonial candles and baked goods?of hard-boiled eggs and bread?all similar to what I knew from home. Another similarity was the level of hospitality. If you are a guest of a Greek or a Romanian, they?ll treat you like a king and give you the very best they have to offer.

    I stayed at a hotel in Athens, but after a few days, we took a quick ferry to Porto Hydra, the seaside area outside of Athens. I spent the next eight days as a guest at my boss?s villa on the beach enjoying the crystalline blue waters, unlike anything in Romania. The Black Sea of home is a deep, dark navy blue, due to the dense amount of seaweed. The Mediterranean sparkled with light and levity by contrast.

    I went back to Romania a different person. I had a motivation to want more of life. It definitely led me toward a career in tourism. After growing up in a communist country, Greece showed me the wonders of life outside the so-called Iron Curtain. I saw that life could be a celebration. But I have to say, I would never trade my Romanian roots because I think I appreciate this facet of life more than most because of where I grew up.

    In the years since, I have been back to Athens many times for work and also as a tourist. Every time, I discover something new and experience new feelings of fascination and wonder. Athens was my first travel love and it?s one that has definitely endured.

    Written by Dana Ionescu, Customer Services Director on Crown Princess
    July 19, 2011

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    Posted by Denise at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

    June 07, 2011

    Dublin, Ireland

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    An Ode to My Emerald Isle - Dublin, Ireland

    I am Irish to my very core, but the more I traveled the world, the more I wondered . . . did I really appreciate Ireland? As I navigated the globe on cruise ships, the question arose again and again.

    Arriving by ship into New York on St. Patrick's Day was the ultimate spark to ignite the Irish pride within. I watched the parade in New York City - the largest such celebration in the world - surrounded by my Irish shipmates on Fifth Avenue, staring in amazement at the millions (yes, millions) of spectators dressed in green, cheering on the marching firefighters, police and bagpipers. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Had I been missing something?

    Numerous times shipboard, whenever Ireland was part of the itinerary, passengers would approach me for the inside scoop on what to see and where to go. Hearing my Irish accent, they'd figure I must have something useful to say about historic Trinity College, the legendary Guinness Brewery and the ancient Book of Kells, which just happens to be Ireland's greatest treasure. Who knew? I'd never taken the time to see any of the above.
    It dawned on me. The Emerald Isle and its picturesque capital of Dublin were certainly beloved, but by others. What did it mean to me?

    It's sad to say, but Ireland was a country that I'd been groomed to leave. I left Ireland at the early age of 18 to work in the tourism industry. Back then, in the early 1990s, before the rebirth of the Irish economy, young people fled Ireland as there were no jobs to sustain them. Our family farm would go to my older brother. My life would have to unfold somewhere else.

    I grew up in Waterford, a mere 100 miles from Dublin. You'd think being so close, we'd have gone sightseeing a time or two. But a treat for us was a trip to the beach. Annual holidays involved a ferry to Wales and a train ride to London for a week of sightseeing.

    As an adult, Dublin was nothing more than an airport that ushered me to my next assignment, an exit point to more important destinations. Of all the places I've been - and I've been almost everywhere - it was in Dublin where I was mugged and in Dublin where taxi drivers, assuming I was American, took the long way so they could overcharge me.

    Eventually, even I couldn't escape the ironies of my travel life. I'd been to Alcatraz in San Francisco and Robben Island Prison in South Africa, but never to Kilmainham Jail, a place of national significance as many political prisoners in Ireland's fight for independence had been confined there. I'd been to the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the Smithsonian in Washington but never to Dublin's National Gallery of Ireland. I'd toured the wine countries of California, Washington and Cape Town but never taken the Guinness Brewery tour?even though I knew well the adage that a pint of Guinness will never taste better than it does at the brewery itself.

    I vowed the next time would be different - instead of dashing off to go shopping or visit old friends, I would see Dublin as a tourist with new eyes and an enthusiastic spirit.

    That day came a decade ago. It was gorgeous and sunny. The approach into Dublin's Alexandria Basin port was magnificent. Even I, the jaded hometown girl, was excited to embrace Dublin and my heritage anew.

    My first destination as a wide-eyed tourist had to be the Book of Kells. Recently visited by the Queen of England, the Book of Kells is a series of illuminated manuscripts of the four Gospels drawn by monks 1,200 years ago. As a child I had this amazing teacher who loved Irish history. He told us how the Book of Kells survived invasions from the north and pillages by the Danes. It was a wonderful testament to the tenacity of the Irish and their ability to withstand hardship.

    At school, we learned calligraphy by studying the Book of Kells and we copied illustrations as art projects. It was a constant subject and in retrospect, I can't believe it took me so long to see it.

    On arriving in Dublin, as customary, I met with my friend, Justin O'Brien, a chef I met during my college days. This time, instead of catching a bus outside of Trinity College, where the Book of Kells is housed in the library, I ventured on the campus for the first time in my life.

    The Trinity Library itself is quite famous. The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room, aptly titled and smelling of old books, wood and the passage of time. Books line the walls, floor to ceiling for as far as the eye can see and are presided over by a series of distinguished marble busts representing some of the most famous writers in the world, and yes many of them are Irish, some of whom were themselves students at Trinity. We joined the queue for the Book of Kells and waited quietly for our turn in the softly lit room. As I stood before the day's exposed manuscript pages, I was amazed. The Book of Kells is tiny. I'd convinced myself it must be six feet tall, but it was no bigger than your average paperback. It was a bit of a shock, actually. I felt like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.

    On closer inspection, I admired the rich blues, greens, yellows and faded reds of this precious document. I thought about all the time the monks spent, over years and years, to create this jewel, comprising 340 folios of pure magnificence. It speaks of absolute dedication to their beliefs, and it is a real piece of Irish history. There were many other interesting books, manuscripts and items that caught our interest and kept us moving through the various areas.

    After our visit there, Justin and I walked around Trinity College, which has beautiful grounds and magnificent buildings. It was the early spring, and I thought then, as I do still, I really need to get back there and see the gardens in the summer. We gazed in awe at Arnaldo Pomodoro's "Sphere within a Sphere" bronze sculpture and Justin, being an ex-seafarer, recognized it from his frequent transatlantic trips as being similar to the sphere outside the United Nations in New York.

    Now I was in full-blown tourist mode! From Trinity College, we made our way to touristy Grafton Street, where the statue of Molly Malone, the tragic fishmonger who is hailed in a famous Irish pub song, stands. There she was, forever wheeling her wheelbarrow on the street. Of course, I took a picture, as have so many visitors before me.

    I had just a little time left before I was due back at the dock, so I went to the Avoca Store & Cafe, where Justin works as a manager. Avoca, an Irish-run family business, began as woolen mills outside of Dublin. Since, it's expanded to become a small chain of places selling quality clothing, gifts and food. It's a great place to get a cup of tea and a traditional Irish scone.

    Since that day in Dublin, I've gone on to visit other Irish landmarks I'd never taken the time to visit before. I'm proud to report I've now kissed the Blarney Stone. I've also circled the eight stops that make up the bucolic Ring of Kerry. I've taken the long way to Tipperary, stopped at the Rock of Cashel and walked along the panoramic expanse of the Cliffs of Moher. In many of these places, I've been surrounded by tourists, which makes me laugh in remembrance of the old me, who never took the time or had the interest.

    I'm so glad I discovered that it's more than fun to be a tourist in my own land. Visiting my country's landmarks has helped me better appreciate my roots. I searched the world looking for adventure and escape. I was so eager to get out and visit other, more exotic places. Finally, I discovered the fullness of the natural beauty and rich culture that is Ireland.

    The country is no longer the sad Ireland of my youth, the one I was always in a hurry to leave. Whenever I can, I'm eager to continue to explore and enjoy all facets of my homeland - there is still the Guinness Brewery to be seen. And, the next time someone asks me for a personal recommendation about what to see and do in Ireland, I'll have plenty to say.

    Written By Cathy Tobin, Training Manager, Princess Cruises

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    Posted by Denise at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

    May 10, 2011

    The Hawaiian Islands

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    Homeward Bound - Aloha Style

    A trip to Hawaii is always a sort of homecoming for me. Although I've lived in Los Angeles for 20 years now, Hawaii was the place of my birth (and yes, I have the birth certificate to prove it!). If you've ever flown into Honolulu and looked up to the hillside to see an ugly pink building reminiscent of a resort trapped in a bad time warp, that's the site of my birth: Tripler Army Medical Center.

    Living in Hawaii for the first seven years of my life was (particularly in hindsight) a gift from the heavens. My father was in the US Navy and worked on diesel submarines, thus we lived in Navy housing with Pearl Harbor as our backyard. Although my youth has long since drifted away, I still have glorious memories of my formative years, most of which I recall spent at the beach or climbing the banyan tree in our front yard. I guess it was the thing to do, but my sister and I didn't exactly have Nintendo or Facebook to keep us otherwise occupied. Just running around in the tropical heat, watching our dog chase after the family of mongoose that had built a labyrinth of tunnels in our yard, was good enough for us.

    Anyway, back to my homecoming trip. My wife, Kristi, and I love to travel and the thrill of scuba diving has taken us to exotic locales such as Australia, Fiji, Tahiti, Palau, Yap and the Galapagos Islands . . .just to name a few. Then, one of both of us decided it would be a great idea to have a kid. That singular noun turned to plural when we ended up with twin boys. Our days of jet-setting around the world were soon over, but we looked forward to the time when our boys (John & Michael) would grow old enough so that we could return to our exploratory ways.

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    Working for a great company like Princess, I've been able to travel all over the world. Through the years, Kristi and I have enjoyed nearly ten cruises together, but all were without kids. To see if our boys would like cruising and the open ocean, we decided on a 7-day Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess in early 2010 to test the water. In the end, our boys loved the youth center, the abundance of pizza, cheese burgers and french fries, and honestly enjoyed the movement of the ship in heavy seas. While some passengers popped Dramamine, ours squealed with delight. I guess it's in their blood, but more of that later.

    We greatly anticipated our next voyage in Spring 2011, this time on the Sapphire Princess to Hawaii. A 14-day cruise with 8 days at sea sounded to some of our friends as "too much time at sea," but we looked forward to it because we could check our kids into the youth center and do something most parents of young children have forgotten even exists. The art of doing nothing. Take a nap? You bet. Read a book without a Matchbox car flying in from left field and whacking you in the temple? Absolutely. Go to the spa and let a highly trained therapist melt your tensions away? Well, I encourage everyone reading this blog to do just that during your next cruise, but as I'm responsible for running the spa operations for Princess I may have a biased opinion.

    Ok, I promise 'I'm getting to this homecoming. Hawaii here we come. Just me, Kristi, John and Michael . . . and ten suitcases filled with every piece of clothing we own, plus I swear some of our neighbor's just for good measure. Honestly, you would have thought we were escaping from an evil dictator and moving to a new country in the middle of the night, but at least we were prepared.

    It's hard to ignore the impact of the military when you're going to Hawaii, at least for me. As the son of a career Naval Officer, it's even harder to ignore the obvious historical references. Although Pearl Harbor was a playground for a young kid who didn't know any better, I quickly learned about the thousands of lives lost and the role the attack would have in catapulting a reluctant nation headfirst into war with Japan and Germany. In addition to the Arizona Memorial, we would have the opportunity to tour the Battleship Missouri (BB-63) which hosted the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Although the Arizona and Missouri respectively signified the beginning and the end of WWII for the United States, I was looking forward to touring the Missouri with my young sons to show them what their grandfather used to do for a living. The last time I had been on the Missouri was back in 1990 during my father's change of command ceremony. He served as Missouri's Captain for two years and then retired from the Navy to pursue a career in the private sector. As fate would have it, cancer took my dad's life in 2001 (at the ridiculously young age of 57) so he wasn't available to offer his grandsons a private tour, let alone meet them. As any sailor (or son of one) quickly learns, you make do with what you have at your disposal.

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    From our balcony overlooking Los Angeles harbor as we sailed away, the SS Lane Victory bid us a fond farewell. This refurbished merchant marine vessel (which served in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam) would serve as a fitting bookend to our cruise.

    Our days at sea flew by and we found ourselves truly relaxing and gaining weight with every meal. There's something about being on a cruise that shifts our appetites into overdrive. I think it's a combination of the abundance, the excellence and the service which makes it so appealing. All of that is a polite way of saying I wasn't ashamed to order three desserts at the end of a four course dinner.

    After a great visit to the Big Island, our second port of call would be Honolulu. We met up with my stepmother Melinda (who now lives on Oahu) and embarked on a full day ashore that included a private tour of the Missouri Memorial, thanks to the generosity of Mike Carr (who serves as the president of the Missouri Memorial Association). As we walked up to the Missouri, I was overtaken with a sense of pride for not only my father but for the countless sailors who devoted so much of their lives to this incredible battleship. The fact that it serves as a floating museum rather than sitting in a "mothball" graveyard is a testament to the passion and loyalty of all those who sailed on her. As my father once said, there are only two things that could sink Missouri. A nuclear warhead . . . and Congress! Congress managed to do their part and decommissioned the Mighty Mo in 1992, but thankfully it's back in action . . . sort of.

    As we walked aboard the Missouri, I looked forward to regaling my sons with my own stories of being onboard when my father was in command. In my late teens I had the pleasure of a "tiger cruise" whereby I joined a select group of family and dignitaries as we sailed onboard for three days. I stood on the bridge wing next to my dad when a full broadside was unleashed. Hopefully the picture below does it justice, but there's no words to describe the sensation of standing amidst the explosion of nine 16" guns and six 5" guns as they simultaneously go off. The only thing I can remember about that experience other than my ears ringing was . . . I'm just glad I'm on this end of the explosion and not the other.

    So as we stood on the fo'c'sle deck with the forward turret of 16" guns pointing ominously towards us, I bent down to tell my two sons how their grandfather was once Captain of this mighty vessel. They responded by asking me for a cereal bar. They were hungry and like any good sailor (or the grandson of one) they wanted some chow.

    Our tour of the Missouri was quickly sped up and we visited the Captain's quarters, right next to the plaque commemorating the Japanese surrender. It hadn't changed a bit since I last saw it in 1990. In fact, my father's original Apple Macintosh computer (purchased with his own money since Congress wasn't about to fund that purchase in 1988!) was still on the desk, a relic from a day gone past. I hope Steve Jobs is reading this. A Mac computer on a Battleship Captain's desk? Yep. Even a warship has paperwork.

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    The rest of our trip was simply amazing. We frolicked on the beach at Waikiki, toured Waimea Canyon on Kauai, went whale watching on Maui and then spent four days returning to Los Angeles.

    As we disembarked the vessel, sad to leave the newfound friends we made on our cruise (and wishing we could take our room steward Magolino with us), we joined the procession of passengers filing through US Customs & Immigration. Not exactly the highlight of any cruise experience, but a necessity nonetheless. The couple in front of us was elderly, probably in their late 40s. Ok, maybe slightly older. The gentleman was struggling to carry his hand luggage and so I offered to carry it for him. He gave me the once-over, I think to make sure I was up to the task as my hands were already pretty full (see above regarding our own luggage). His stare reminded me of my father?s and I soon realized this gentleman was a veteran of WWII. His straw hat featured several pins identifying him as a retired US Marine, but the Purple Heart really caught my attention. I guess I passed muster as he handed me his luggage and thanked me profusely for helping him out. It was the least I could do.

    Written by John Chernesky; Director of Onboard Revenue and Business Development May 10, 2011

    Posted by Denise at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

    April 14, 2011

    Alaska with Celebrity Cruises

    It's more than just the higher altitudes that take your breath away.

    From a breathtaking view of Hubbard Glacier to the totem poles of Ketchikan to a ceremonial salmon bake on the shore, Alaska is as rugged and romantic as you always imagined. And with our stunning ships to add to the excitement of it all, we offer the most scenic and relaxing way to get to some of the most spectacular corners of Alaska. So, experience complete exhilaration with a vacation to places few people ever get to see.

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    Celebrity's Alaska
    Celebrity ships roam translucent waters on a variety of exciting routes. You'll marvel at ever-changing views of floating glaciers. Breathe in crisp fresh air. Be hypnotized by eagles soaring overhead. And simply be amazed by a different natural wonder every time you walk out your door. And expert naturalists accompany each cruise to provide firsthand knowledge on the local wildlife, geography and history to immerse you completely in your adventure to one of the greatest unspoiled lands on Earth.

    We offer 10 spectacular itineraries from 7 to 14 nights giving you the option to go exactly where you want. Cruise Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier on the North American Continent. Behold the wonders of the Inside Passage from your private veranda. Pay homage to the Tracy Arm Fjord - once seen, never forgotten. Step back into time by visiting Icy Straight Point an area that began as a Salmon Cannery and is now a beautiful and inviting cruise ship destination.

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    Celebrity's Alaska Cruisetours
    The best way to get acquainted with Mother Nature's piece de resistance is by combining the grace and beauty of a cruise with an explorer's land based journey. Enhance your vacation by embarking on a 3- to 7-night pre- or post-cruise land adventure by booking a Cruisetour. Choose from 21 Cruisetours, each one designed to showcase the most intimate regions of Alaska. Travel to remarkable inland places you won't experience on your cruise, including the six million acre Denali National Park, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, Seward and Alyeska. You'll be guided by expert Tour Directors who know this land like no one else. And they'll provide concierge-style service, 24/7 - exactly as you'd expect from us.

    Take a seat in your wide, leather, swiveling chair on our magnifi cent glass-domed train, the Wilderness Express. Not an ordinary train, you'll enjoy sumptuous cuisine in the bistro - serving Alaska specialties - and the full-service bar. When not on the train, you?ll travel on luxurious, air-conditioned motorcoaches. And at night, you'll rest easy in well-appointed and centrally located resorts that are surrounded by natural beauty.

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    Five of our Cruisetours transport you to the Canadian Rockies and Whistler. You'll visit majestic sites like Vancouver and Whistler - the sites that captivated the world during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Travel to scenic resort towns to vibrant cities. Explore natural wonders of Lake Louise. Newly remodeled traincars take a scenic route through the 2,564 square mile valleys and mountains of Banff National Park. Get your cameras ready, this journey is a vision to behold.

    New - our ultimate Cruisetour
    The Ultimate Cruisetour is an 18-night adventure throughout Alaska and Canadian Rockies. It'll take trains, ships and motorcoaches to transport you from the day-to-day to must-see destinations. After a 6-night pre-cruise tour of the naturally beautiful Canadian Rockies, depart from Vancouver for an extraordinary 7-night Alaska cruise. Then from Seward, enjoy 5 more nights of escorted land exploration to the heart of Alaska. From Calgary to Fairbanks, from coast to the interior, the ultimate Alaska is a magnifi cent break from reality.

    View Celebrity Cruises Alaska Cruise & Cruisetour Deals Here!

    Posted by Denise at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

    April 08, 2011

    The Gift of the City of Lights - Paris, France

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    Written By Giuseppe Romano, Commodore with Princess Cruises

    The irony of my life is that I really don't do that much leisure traveling. As Commodore for Princess Cruises, I can see how some people would think I must be joking, because of course, I travel all the time.

    I?m at sea for months at a time with Princess where my duties keep my mind attuned to the safe and pleasurable passage of our passengers as we sail around the world. When my time off coincides with school vacations, my wife, Sabina, our two children and I also travel. We go to see our relatives - my family in Sorrento, Italy, and Sabina's in Cleveland, San Francisco and Germany.

    One of my favorite things to do is go camping with my boys. Give me a tent in the forest, a fishing pole and river and I'm very happy. As much as we love our vacations to see family, it was becoming clear that Sabina and I were overdue for a 100-percent carefree, zero responsibility trip together. With all of this in mind and our 20th wedding anniversary approaching, I knew I had to do something special for her. I had to create the perfect gift to symbolize my love for her and celebrate our life together.

    It had been a long time coming. Sabina has talked about going to Paris since the day I met her, on a Sitmar cruise (now part of Princess Cruises) where I was, naturally, working. She was on board with her aunt, a Sitmar employee and acquaintance of mine, who had given her a cruise as a graduation gift.

    Her aunt introduced us and as we got to know each other, I learned how Sabina had studied art and fashion design at university, and how she longed to walk the streets of Monet and Chagall; to see the Mona Lisa at the famed Louvre Museum; to have a drink at a cafe made famous by Ernest Hemingway. She had dreamed of doing this long before I met her. Over the years, Paris kept coming up. "Maybe next year," was our refrain. We never had the opportunity to go. So Paris would be my gift to her.

    To make the journey even more special, I decided to make it a surprise. I enlisted Sabina's parents, who live in Cleveland, to come to Florida to watch our boys, Luca, then 14, and Marco, 11. My story was that she should join me on a training session in Amsterdam, itself a treat, but not Paris.

    We boarded a flight from Miami to Paris under the guise that we were continuing on to Amsterdam. It wasn't until we went to collect our luggage that I handed her a Fodor's guide to Paris, her go-to book whenever the family joined me on board, and told her, "Happy Anniversary!" Knowing my sense of humor, she thought I was joking. But once she realized we were finally going to Paris, she was overjoyed.

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    We grabbed our bags and went off to discover the dazzling City of Lights.

    First stop was our home for the next four nights, the Hotel Saint-Jacques in the Latin Quarter, which I had secretly booked online. It was the perfect place for Sabina because the Hotel Saint-Jacques is where her favorite movie, the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant classic 'Charade', was filmed. The hotel was charming and a piece of art itself with rooms painted in warm colors and beautiful paintings on the wall.

    We headed out immediately toward Notre Dame, which was close to our hotel. This beautiful Gothic cathedral was a site we ended up visiting many times during our trip. We saw it that first morning, with pale, February light streaming through the magnificent stained-glass rose window, a gleaming contrast to the gray, stone walls. As Notre Dame was on the way to the hotel, we returned each evening, after busy days exploring, to pass by its watchful gargoyles, perched along the walls.

    We stopped for crepes at one of the many creperies near the cathedral. Like our visits to Notre Dame, we quickly formed another routine of a Nutella crepe before returning to the hotel. Delicious!

    Sabina discovered that the Louvre was open until 10 p.m. that first evening, so we headed there at 6 p.m. and found the museum mostly empty. How wonderful it was to walk through its rooms together, seeing the priceless works inside.

    For Sabina, seeing paintings by the artists she had studied for so many years was a lifetime dream. For me, the most memorable painting was the Mona Lisa. To gaze upon her, without the throng of people that ring her during the day, and feel as if she was gazing back only at us, was really special. It was a very quiet, serene moment. I'm not typcially into paintings but once you go there, it changes your mind. The Louvre is a special place.

    We packed a lot into our short time in Paris. We saw the churches of Saint Sulpice and Sacre Coeur. We worked our way through the department store Galeries Lafayette. We stood atop the Eiffel Tower and surveyed the city. From that high point, we spotted our next destination, the golden-domed tomb of Napoleon and the Musee de L'Armee.

    Strolling through this magnificent museum, we admired the armor and diverse range of weaponry through the ages. We found ourselves thinking of our sons because they both enjoy medieval history and the Age of Empires computer games. They would love this museum. It?s truly a museum for guys!

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    More typically, we soaked up the atmosphere through long walks, along the grand Champs Elysee, the historic Marais district, the Jardins de Luxembourg and the ancient rue Mouffetard, a narrow cobblestone street that was once a Roman road that led all the way to Italy. Sabina mostly set the itinerary and I advised on where to dine. You know you are on vacation when choosing a restaurant is the most important decision of the day! We enjoyed a classic French dinner of Boeuf Bourguignon at the renowned bistro Chez Rene and couscous at Chez Omar.

    But the meal I recall the most reminded me of one I had long ago. I must stop here and admit, this was not my first trip to Paris. I went decades ago, a few years before I met Sabina. That visit also represented a very rare break from responsibility.

    I was a young safety officer at the time, appointed by Sitmar Cruises to the building team of the Fairsky (later the Sky Princess), which was being built in a shipyard near Toulon. When a strike broke out, I found myself with nothing to do, so I took a train to Paris. I stayed in a small hotel, and most of my meals were picnics of fresh, French bread, pate, cheese and wine. Is there a more beautiful lunch or dinner?

    As I walked alongside famed Parisian food markets with my wife, I remember the simple meals I enjoyed more than 25 years ago. One night, we put Fodor's recommendations aside, and recreated one of those meals. We bought baguettes, three or four different types of pate, some salami and an assortment of cheese. Of course, we also picked up a great bottle of wine.

    We set our picnic out in the room of our hotel. As the night was not too cold, we opened the doors to the balcony and let the breeze in. We looked out over the city, as we sat on our bed trying different pates and sipping wine. I cannot think of a more romantic setting.

    My surprise gift of a trip to Paris for Sabina was every bit as much a gift to myself. Two years have passed by since then, but I still treasure our getaway together. Before we know it, another significant anniversary, our 25th, will approach. I think it would be difficult for me to surprise her again, so I think we will plan that one together. I know if Sabina has her choice, we will go to Paris again.

    Surprize your significate other with a cruise vacation on Princess Cruises!

    Posted by Denise at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

    March 16, 2011

    A Mayan Discovery with an Unlikely Guide: Tulum, Mexico

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    Special Article by Steve Nielsen, Vice President of Caribbean and Atlantic Shore Operations

    March 15, 2011 - I have traveled all over the world, but I stumbled upon my most memorable travel experience during a business trip. Let me qualify that. It was a quick side trip during a business trip. Almost an afterthought. Still, that afternoon has stuck with me ever since and I revisit the location whenever my schedule allows.

    Thirty-seven years ago, I came upon Tulum, Mexico, the ruins of an ancient Mayan city that was all but untouched by tourists at that time. I was scouting the Caribbean for Princess Cruises, as the company planned to expand from its Los Angeles base to Fort Lauderdale. When I arrived, I met with Princess's Mexico general agent at the time, German Osuna, to look at possibilities for excursion trips in Cozumel and along the stunning Yucatan peninsula.

    At the time, the Mexican government was just beginning to lay the foundation for what is now the wildly popular resort town of Cancun. Cancun is like Miami Beach or Orlando - it was built to attract tourists. Then, it was just in its infancy, with little more than architectural models and high hopes hinting at its future.

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    German and I checked out Cancun and then headed down the peninsula. He wanted to show me an interesting area of architectural exploration - a monument to the Mayan past, Tulum. I knew nothing of Tulum, just that the peninsula was rich in Mayan culture and that would be of interest to our passengers.

    At the time, in the mid 1970s, workers were still excavating the site, a process that had been going on since 1913. Situated between the jungle on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, Tulum escaped with little recorded history. It's mentioned in the writings of the Spanish conquistadors Juan Diaz and Juan de Grijalva in 1518. In 1843, Tulum's ruins are described by the English explorers, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, who mapped the site. Although they discovered a stele, a commemorative marker that dated back to AD 564, it's believed that Tulum's heyday ran from the 1200s until the Spanish arrived 300 years later and brought Old World diseases that wiped out Mayan society.

    German and I parked the car and then hiked along a dirt footpath with jungle on either side of us for about half a mile toward Tulum. It was hot and there was lots of sweating but the beauty of the landscape more than compensated. My mind was busy calculating whether or not Tulum would make a good excursion for our passengers.

    Somewhere outside of the ancient Tulum walls ("Tulum" means 'fence' or 'wall' in the Mayan language of the Yucatan), German and I encountered a little boy of four or five years old. He was sitting outside his family's very modest one room house and dressed in nothing more than shorts. By his features, he appeared to be a direct descendent of the Mayans - an heir to this stunning land.

    The boy chatted brightly away in Spanish. He was offering to take us on a tour of Tulum. We looked around. No parents or guardian in sight. This young tour guide was a solo practitioner. We took him up on his offer and soon were headed over the low Tulum walls and venturing into the ruins. That first sight is awesome. Tulum emerges in front of you from the middle of the jungle. If you approach Tulum from the Caribbean Sea, the approach is equally inspiring to see the ruins seated atop a bluff.

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    That day, no archeologists were on site, so we felt as if we were discovering the city for the first time. It was an incredible experience to climb up and down rocks, walk among the ruins and try to imagine how it appeared circa 1200.

    Our young guide led us around, pointing out specific points of interest. I remember saying to German, "Life is really funny, we've traveled all over the world but this little boy probably won?t leave the area?his life is pretty much confined to what he is where he is."

    We finished looking at the ruins and headed back to the little boy's home. I made some notes in my notebook for a few minutes then we took leave. That's when the little boy started to cry! German said, "He was our tour guide, he must want a tip." So I gave him a one peso coin. The boy looked at it, turned it around in his hand. I said, "You don't know one peso?" Without skipping a beat, he replied, "I only know five pesos." Chastised, I upgraded his tip and reconsidered my somewhat limited opinion of his future. That boy was going places for sure.

    Since then, Tulum has emerged as an important historical site and major point of interest in Mexico. I've returned many times as I was transferred from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale 16 years ago to look after Caribbean and Atlantic shore operations for Princess. The last time I was there was about two years ago.

    In the intervening years, the approach into Tulum has been cleared and there are paved highways with commercial establishments on either side. The archeologists have completed their jobs and now the Mayan ruins are fully exposed. You can see where the central area was, where the homes were situated, where people cooked, had their meals and slept. There is a beautiful coliseum-type building for social activities.

    I have to admit, it feels a little crowded for someone who had experienced Tulum like an explorer would with a colleague and an unlikely preschool-age guide. I could never have predicted that Cancun would become the most popular tourist destination in Mexico and Tulum would be a busy, world-renown historical site and popular shore excursion. The two seem to have grown out of the ground together.

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    I think, how funny it is that the distance from brand new Cancun to an ancient Mayan city is not that far apart. I found the beginnings of a modern tourism Mecca 15 miles away from a 1,000 year old ruin. And there was a descendent of the Mayans waiting to show me something new.

    I often think about that boy and wonder what happened to him. Today, he's probably a successful tour operator in Cancun. What travel has taught me most of all is how much alike we are, how similar we are through our basic human traits.

    In 2011-2012 Princess Cruises will offer the Sapphire Princess for 7 night Mexican Riviera cruise vacations. The ship will sail from Los Angeles down the coast to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. For more information contact a Princess Expert at Cruising2Mexico.com #1-800-738-8837.

    View Princess Cruises Mexico Cruise Deals From $549 US!

    Posted by Denise at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

    February 23, 2011

    Standing in the Shadows of the Moai - Easter Island, Chile

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    Posted by Melania Parnisari, Hotel General Manager for Crown Princess

    February 22, 2011 - The first time I stood in front of one of these sculptures, I felt like a tiny, meaningless mosquito ... I had tears in my eyes, silly me, thinking of how little we know of our past, of the culture of people we know nothing or little about. Ever since childhood, Easter Island had captured my imagination. I've always been an avid reader with a strong interest in history and ancient civilizations, so this mysterious land with its unique stone sentinels called to me. I longed to see more than just the printed pictures of one of those iconic heads; I wanted to stand in its shadow.

    A few years ago I was lucky enough be working aboard the original Royal Princess during its South America season. My contract ended in Valparaiso, Chile, and instead of heading right home, I flew to my ultimate "bucket list" destination. On my own. Everyone thought I had lost my mind. I simply could not explain to anyone's satisfaction the meaning this place had for me. Nonetheless I set off on a solo adventure that became one of my most memorable travel experiences ever.

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    Easter Island, or Rapa Nui in the local language, is one of the world's most isolated inhabited islands - its nearest neighbor is Pitcairn Island, which is more than 1,200 miles to the west. South America is about 2,300 miles away, and is the main gateway for flights to the island (you can also fly from Tahiti). Getting there is something of a quest and the flights are usually full. When I checked in for my flight I was offered very generous compensation to give up my seat. But I turned them down without hesitation - no way was I going to miss out on this experience!

    I had booked a room at a small family-owned hotel, and they picked me up at the airport. I quickly discovered that everybody on the island is very friendly, and eager to share their history and heritage with visitors. The locals appreciate that most visitors are keenly interested in learning about the island.

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    Easter Island got its current name when Dutch navigator Jakob Roggeveen visited on Easter day in 1722. But long before he came, Polynesian settlers found the island and took the art of carving mystical figures to new heights.

    Those giant heads I saw in all the pictures? They're called Moai, and on my arrival, I couldn't wait to see one for real.

    Although many have tried to solve the mystery of the Moai there are still many theories to explain their presence. I came to learn that the island has nearly 900 of these giant heads in various stages of completion. And on an island that's only about 63 square miles - that's a lot of statues per mile!

    My hotel was only a few minutes' walk to the sea and one of the Moai sites. I quickly found my favorite spot, called Ahu Tahai. In the late afternoon I'd walk over, sit on the grass with my book and watch the sunset and wonder ...

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    The Moai give one many things to wonder about. They are carved from the local volcanic rock and the style and size evolved over time. Some think that the bigger the need, the bigger the statue to appeal to the gods. Or maybe each neighboring clan chiefs kept trying to outdo each other with bigger and bigger Moai. The smallest ones stand only about four feet tall, but the largest tower like skyscrapers more than 30 feet high. They weigh between 14 and 80 tons, so the work it took to move them boggles the mind.

    The first time I stood in front of one of these sculptures, I felt like a tiny, meaningless mosquito ... I had tears in my eyes, silly me, thinking of how little we know of our past, of the culture of people we know nothing or little about.

    Each statue is quite unique. Not only are they different sizes, but each has literally a different look - the body shape, the nose. Most no longer have the coral and stone eyes, but many still have red "hats" or pukau - which were carved in a different quarry from the statues themselves.

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    But I did not just see a sculpture; I saw an ancient culture and a timeless puzzle. I felt the same way the first time I visited the pyramids in Giza, Egypt. How could they build these statues without modern technology? What drove them to this? My mind reeled with "whys" - plus a few "maybes" and "what ifs" for good measure. At the same time I felt somehow at home, at peace with myself and the rest of the world in such a magical place.

    The Moai everywhere are amazing, but the place that stunned me most was the Ranu Raraku quarry. Hundreds of Moai in various stages of completion are scattered everywhere - some standing, some lying down as if abandoned. There's even one single Moai carved in a sitting position. Here you can walk up close, touch them and wonder about who last worked on each statue. Nobody knows why they stopped carving, but maybe they just got too big - Ranu Raraku also features the biggest Moai ever carved - about 70 feet long - and it lies unfinished on the slopes still attached to its original rock. It just deepens the mystery.

    The statues not in the quarry are dotted all along the coast of the island, forming something of a ring around its shoreline. What surprised me was that many statues don't gaze out to sea (as I did regularly), but instead face inland, looking over a ceremonial area. The Moai are mostly grouped on Ahus - stone pedestals on which they stand. I found Ahu Tongariki the most stunning. Here 12 Moais stand one next to the other in a neat row with the sea directly behind them.

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    While the Moai are the "headliners" of local attractions, there is more to see and do on this tropical island. At one end there's a beautiful white sand beach called Anakena. There was talk of building a five-star resort here, but as far as I know the locals have blocked it. There is a Moai site here, but the beach also sports a "magic" rock that radiates heat and, so they say, positive energy.

    Volcanoes have left lava tubes and several interesting caves on the island, which were apparently used as refuge during the battles between tribes, and later to hide from slave hunters. Today many people like to explore them for the interesting artwork on the walls.

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    The ceremonial village of 'Orongo also fascinated me with its story of the birdman cult which hosted an annual race to collect the first sooty tern egg of the season. The now abandoned site sits atop a hill facing the three little islets. In order to complete the challenge, young men had to climb down the very steep cliffs, swim over to the islets and collect the egg, then return. The first one to make it back would secure control of the island's resources for his tribe for the year. It was clearly very dangerous, with sheer cliffs and extremely strong currents to battle.

    Wherever I went, I found I wasn't really alone in my solo adventure. It was easy to make new friends, and I met several other solo travellers, who like, me were on their own quest. It was nice to share impressions over dinner or during an excursion. In my short time on the island I collected new friends from Chile, Argentina, Germany, France and Switzerland.

    After five days I was supposed to return to the "real world," however the only flight connection was delayed and I was "forced" to stay another day. Apparently this situation is quite routine, and extending isn't a problem because any new guests will only arrive on that delayed plane, so our rooms were still available.

    I loved the extra day which gave me the chance to do a jeep tour to the highest point of the island - Mount Terevaka. When we got to the top, a brilliant rainbow arched across the sky. This last amazingly peaceful image of Easter Island was what I took with me to the airport and eventually back home.

    I was so lucky to return to Easter Island last year during the World Cruise on the new Royal Princess. The island has developed a lot in the 11 years since my first visit, but the magic and the mystery remain. I was told that visitors still like to watch the sunset from "my" spot facing the Moai with the ocean behind them.

    I still can't completely explain why, but I have never felt better in my life, than this time I spent in isolated reverie in my beautiful special spot by the Moai.

    Posted by Denise at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

    February 22, 2011

    From Tahiti with Love

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    Posted by Gavin MacLeod
    Princess Cruises Ambassador (and "Captain Merrill Stubing" on "The Love Boat")

    After 10 seasons portraying Captain Stubing on "The Love Boat," actor Gavin MacLeod became an iconic symbol of cruising and romance. Since the show ended in 1986 Gavin has also been our ambassador at events around the world. We consider him part of the Princess family. So for the week of Valentine's Day we've asked him to share his own essential experience ... and could you guess it's a travel adventure filled with romance?

    The deep blue waters of Tahiti are a long way from the world I knew as a child. I had a modest upbringing in upstate New York, and then cruises were a luxury I couldn't even dream of. It wasn't until years later that I set foot on my very first cruise ship - and amusingly, I was instantly the captain! I'm pretty sure I'm the only "captain" who can say that.

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    I was lucky. I spent 10 memorable years playing "Captain Stubing" on "The Love Boat" - what a dream job! Every week I got to act in stories about love and romance ... and I had the chance to meet some incredible guest stars. I couldn't believe I was actually working alongside these amazing actors I had admired since my childhood - like Lana Turner and Ginger Rogers. Some were interesting folks, like Andy Warhol, and others were up and comers just starting out, such as Tom Hanks. It was an unforgettable experience.

    We didn't just shoot "The Love Boat" in our Los Angeles soundstage. Several times a year we actually boarded a Princess ship and shot scenes on an actual cruise. We sailed to Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Alaska. But one place we never got to on the show was Tahiti.

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    Tahiti! Doesn't it sound magical? I envision Mitzi Gaynor "washing that man right out of her hair" in "South Pacific." The wonderful tales of James Michener, who I had the great fortune to sail with aboard a Princess cruise years later. And, the colorful art of Paul Gauguin.

    But most of all, when I think of Tahiti I think of romance. Maybe it's all those years on a show that focused on love and happy endings. However, when I did finally get to Tahiti I was very glad my wonderful wife, Patti, was by my side.

    We flew out a few days ahead of our cruise aboard Tahitian Princess along with my manager and good friend, Lee. Appropriately, Patti and I would be performing the two-person play "Love Letters" on the ship, so it was something of a working vacation. But really what this trip became was discovering one of the world's most romantic places.

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    Our first glimpse of Tahiti from the air was one of vast expanses of turquoise water, punctuated with the occasional island. We were all seasoned travelers, but the excitement of descending closer and closer to this lush paradise felt like a new experience. The colors popped out even from the air - bright greens and blues as far as the eye could see.

    Tahiti is famous for its beaches, and that was where we spent the bulk of our time before the cruise. Years before, I had travelled to Hawaii to shoot an episode of Hawaii 5-0, and thought the waters around those islands were amazingly beautiful. And yet I now discovered that they had serious competition with Tahiti's sparkling blue seas.

    That, to me, is Tahiti. Sparkling white or black sands. Water as clear and placid as a sheet of glass. And nothing and no one else for as far as the eye could see. Those picturesque overwater bungalows. No commotion or craziness. No worries except maybe when to go to dinner or which beach to try next. Just this tremendously lush landscape and the feeling of total relaxation and time to focus on your loved one.

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    There's something about the mystique of Tahiti that brings out the romantic in all of us. Surrounded by this tranquil atmosphere with nothing to disturb us but the lapping of the waves and the scent of tropical flowers in the air, Patti and I were able to relax, talk and really connect.

    We did leave our reverie to visit some of the island's sights. We saw historic Matavai Bay, where many early European navigators anchored, including the HMS Bounty - of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame - and Captain Cook. We met warm, wonderful people speaking French, Tahitian and, thankfully, some English. We saw the open air Le Truck buses that run around the island and the Les Roulottes mobile restaurants serving movable feasts along the waterfront. But mostly we enjoyed time together marveling at the stunning vistas everywhere.

    This peaceful feeling continued once we set sail on Tahitian Princess to tour the other islands of French Polynesia. We were in awe of the towering pinnacles and spectacular waterfalls of Moorea, we learned about the fascinating Polynesian culture in Raiatea, and we felt we had surely found the mythical "Bali Hai" when we first glimpsed the shimmering lagoon and lush greenery of Bora Bora. Every island seemed as if it was painted by an artist using the brightest palette of colors.

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    One day onboard, I joined my wife who was standing on our balcony, looking out at the sun setting just beyond jagged peaks of the islands. It was a picture postcard moment if ever you saw one. As I approached she mused, "Do you think heaven's as beautiful as this?"

    Well, I don't know if heaven could be any lovelier than these stunning islands, but I do know I was lucky to share this little bit of heaven on earth with someone I love so dearly. It was our own personal "Love Boat."

    Posted by Denise at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

    December 09, 2010

    Skagway, Alaska

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    Princess Cruises is offering 'Dog Mushing on a Sunlit Glacier in Skagway, Alaska' by Peter Roberts, the Rooms Department Manager, Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. We have included this great story and some pictures for you.

    Peter's Story:

    When Royal Princess pulled into Skagway, the morning was young enough that a mist still clung to the edges of the harbor. With each successive hour, the trails of fog gave way to rays of sun and by afternoon the sky shown clear - a perfect day for a helicopter "flight seeing" tour and an encounter with some speedy pooches.

    I'd been working aboard the ship for the season in my capacity as cruise director, but hadn't yet had the opportunity to experience one of the state's singular sports - dog mushing. An animal lover all my life and big fan of the outdoors, I was intrigued to interact with Alaska's most unique athletes and see their remote summer camp high up on a glacier. I was thrilled that we were finally on our way. Our bus ride to the airport doubled as a safety orientation, and on arrival we were fitted with life vests and moon boots and placed in helicopter groups.

    Nestled into the chopper, no sooner had I placed the headset over my ears than we soared upward. I watched as the Alaska gold rush town shrank away from us, along with the rest of civilization.

    With nothing in my line of sight but crystal blue sky, I had a moment to reflect on my good fortune. I was, after all, en route - by helicopter - to an experience most people wouldn't even know to dream about - except perhaps just after the annual Iditarod race, when the results of this grueling 1,150-mile race from Anchorage to Nome form only a momentary blip on the media landscape.

    Ahead, the rugged terrain gave way to ice fields, which gave way to mountains, then majestic valleys, and finally to massive glaciers. We soared across them all, snapping photos by the dozen along the way. Some 20 minutes into the flight, we rounded a corner that put Denver Glacier into view. Moving closer, small dots that flecked the glacier came to form tents and kennels in neat rows.

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    Sailing across the snow in Skagway.

    The blades of our helicopter quit their chop, chop, as we settled onto the ice. As the door opened, I could see that our welcoming committee consisted of 90 excited dogs, barking and jumping on and off their kennels. Though I never imagined I'd need sunglasses in a place with such excessive snowfall, the fine weather and sunshine resulted in a searing glare off the white ice. Got shades? Check.

    After a brief orientation, we met our mushers and were introduced to each member of our team of 10 Alaskan huskies. The dogs practically danced with excitement to meet us. For them, this was a summer holiday, a period of relative relaxation before their training started for the Iditarod. They didn't look as I had expected: a uniform collection of well-groomed steeds like I had seen in a movie. These were different than the dogs I'd had as pets - they were working dogs, bred to race. No characteristic was an accident; it was chosen, cultivated. Speed. Intelligence. Strength. Endurance. A hybrid of so many breeds, including the native Inuit dog. Once acquainted, I sat in the sled, which triggered the dogs to pull on their harnesses. The musher jumped on the back, released the anchor and away we sped across the ice. The pace was breakneck. Some 10 minutes later, we stopped to admire the vista. Then it was my turn to have a go at driving the team, and with the help of my musher we were off again, with the dogs hardly registering that they now had a novice in command. The sun's glare was intense, but the snow field glistened and bits of ice flew up as our sled's runners cut across the glacier.

    I felt very at one with nature, as if I had gone back in time. Now I knew firsthand how the early Alaskan settlers traveled. We could have been at the North Pole, it seemed so remote and apart from the everyday world. I've ridden in many forms of transportation in my journeys, but never had I traveled with such a sense of place. This WAS Alaska.

    And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we returned to camp for some puppy play time. Holding the latest litter of future sled dogs in our arms, feeling their soft fur and little wet tongues, was the perfect end to our time on the glacier. The helicopters fired up, and soon we were heading back to Skagway. I sat back as the images of the day played back like a movie in my mind. Was that really me on that sled?

    I'd been in Alaska all season, but never had I felt so connected to the Great Land. It was a magical way to finish up my time there, and also the perfect way to get a really unique Christmas card picture!

    Alaska Cruise Specials with Princess Cruises

    Alaska Cruisetour Specials with Princess Cruises

    Posted by Denise at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

    December 01, 2010

    Princess Cruises Creates New Alaska Cruisetour Just for Fishing Fans in 2011

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    14-Day Cruise Vacation Package Includes Excursions to Some of State's Most Famous Fishing Grounds

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (December 1, 2010) - Princess Cruises has introduced a new Alaska cruisetour option just for fishermen (and women) as part of the 2011 season. This new 14-day land/sea vacation includes special excursions just for anglers, with opportunities to cast their lines in some of the state's premiere fishing spots.

    Participants on the new tour can try their hand at salmon fishing in the Inside Passage from Ketchikan, bottom fishing for halibut near Juneau, and river fishing on two Alaskan rivers - the Kenai and Talkeetna - on excursions from Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

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    "Fishing is such an iconic part of the Alaska experience, that it made sense to offer a special tour especially for those who want to focus their time on the sport," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "We include a variety of fishing experiences so our passengers can get a taste of the array of fishing opportunities found throughout the state."

    The new fishing cruisetour includes a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise through the Gulf of Alaska featuring scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park, plus two nights at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, two nights at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, two nights at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and one night in Anchorage. Participants will not only enjoy fishing tours throughout their vacation but also scenic travel via Princess Rail and a Natural History Tour in Denali National Park.

    Fishing excursions include:

    Alaska Sportfishing Expedition (Ketchikan) Participants can experience the thrill of fishing in the "Salmon Capital of the World" in the calm, protected waters of the Inside Passage. Passengers will travel in a large, heated cabin cruiser and can test their salmon sportfishing skills on a five-hour expedition to troll for king salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, and silver salmon, depending on the season.

    Halibut/Bottom Sportfishing Adventure (Juneau) This excursion takes a small group on a journey to experience bottom fishing for halibut, Pacific cod, arrow-tooth flounder and nearly a dozen species of rockfish, depending on the season. The five-hour experience includes fishing in 180 to 350 feet of water with bait or plastic lures near the ocean's bottom. Bottom fishing appeals to anglers of all experience levels, as fish are easy to hook and usually very abundant. During the trip to the fishing grounds, participants may also spot some of the region's other wildlife, including whales and sea lions.

    Kenai Upper River Sportfishing (Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge) Famed for its trophy-sized fish, the beautiful upper Kenai River is one of the finest recreational areas in Alaska. Tour participants can experience world-class fishing surrounded by dazzling mountain scenery aboard a non-motorized drift boat or raft. Anglers will be catching either sockeye salmon, Dolly Varden or rainbow trout, according to the season.

    Alaska Sportfishing (Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge) Both experienced and novice fishing fans will enjoy testing their luck on the Talkeetna River. Anglers will travel by boat to a secluded fishing spot in the shadow of Mt. McKinley, where they will cast for king, silver or red salmon, rainbow trout, grayling and Dolly Varden, depending on the season. An experienced guide will steer the group to the area's optimum fishing holes.

    All tours follow fishing seasons and regulations as determined by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Fishing licenses are not included in the package price; participants can purchase appropriate licenses at each location or directly from the ADF&G. Passengers must be at least 12 years old to participate in the cruisetour.

    Fares for the new fishing cruisetours begin at $3,248 per person, based on double occupancy.

    Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a Princess Alaska Expert at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

    November 02, 2010

    Santorini, Greece

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    Princess Cruises is offering 'The Sounds of Santorini' by Kristen Helgren, the Rooms Department Manager, Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. We have included this great story and some pictures for you.

    Kristen's Story:
    I approached my visit to Greece with some clear preconceived notions. I envisioned sun-baked stairs leading from the crystal clear Mediterranean and bright white-washed houses perched atop cliffs. I knew I'd see those iconic blue-domed churches, and I anticipated spectacular views. At home in Alaska, it was those images that were my idea of a "Greek Island paradise."

    As our ship maneuvered to drop anchor at Santorini, I got my first glimpse of the island's iconic steep cliffs. Though I may have glimpsed what towered above me at that point, my attention was actually focused downward, as I contemplated the fact that we had just sailed into a giant, submerged volcanic crater, or caldera. Santorini is what remains from an enormous volcanic eruption more than 3,000 years ago, and we were anchoring in the deep lagoon formed when the crater of the volcano collapsed. I wondered, as many now believe, if this caldera could really be the site of the Lost City of Atlantis, the legendary civilization that sunk to the bottom of the sea.

    With my attention now back on the island's 300-meter high cliffs, I could see our destination, the town of Fira, perched high on the rim above. But, how best to get there? The answer became delightfully apparent. Waiting at the bottom of the steep string of switchbacks and stairs that formed a zigzagging path up the steep incline, were donkeys.

    I happen to love donkeys (actually, anything with a tail), so I was as excited to see them as I was to explore the island. But at this point I found myself torn. I could travel up the cliffs by donkey as has no doubt been done since mythical times, or I could walk up and hopefully work off the wonderful desserts I'd been enjoying on the ship. Since it was a beautiful crisp October day ? perfect for hiking - I decided to set out on foot.

    An iconic blue-domed church in Oia.
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    I climbed around corner after corner up more than 500 steps, passing donkey teams headed up or down along the way. The donkeys all wore colorful beaded neck collars with a bell attached that jingled as they clomped along. Each switchback brought the tinkling of bells and better views of the crystal clear waters below.

    After about 45 minutes we reached the top eager to explore Fira, and then afterward set out by local bus to the small town of Oia, located at the north end of the island. My immediate impression was that this magical place should definitely be on a travel bucket list. Oia is situated atop an impressive cliff with more views of the sparkling expanse of sea, and the charming village is made up of traditional white houses and blue domed churches, with the narrow streets between buildings just wide enough for pedestrians and the occasional passing donkey. We discovered that many artists have made this picturesque setting their home and enjoyed wandering through the array of art galleries full of original works.

    After a day in this island paradise, it was time to head back to Fira where we would descend down the cliffs to our anchored ship. Again I decided to make the journey by foot, once more passing the donkeys and their sweet sounding bells along the way. When I got to the bottom, I realized I had encountered a sound I did not want to leave behind. And as I really do like to support the local economies of the places I visit, I had the perfect idea for a souvenir!

    Kristen talks the donkey herder out of her perfect souvenir.
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    Not speaking any Greek, I somehow was able to communicate with a donkey herder that I would like to buy one of the donkey bells with the colorful beads. What a perfect addition to my collection of authentic animal bells (I have many...really...including cow bells from Bali and Switzerland). Although it did take some time to convince him that it really wasn't a ride on his donkey that I was after, I finally was able to walk away with the perfect memento of this perfect day.

    Now, as I sit in our cabin in Alaska, our wonderful cruise may seem a distant memory, but I keep my donkey bell in a spot where I see it often and can reflect on my journey to the cliffs of Santorini.

    View Mediterranean Cruises with Princess Cruises!

    Posted by Denise at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

    September 24, 2010

    Complete ME Cancun

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    Starting November 1, 2010 - those who stay at ME Cancun enjoy unlimited access to it all. Dine, drink, play, work out, and luxuriate to your heart's content. It's all included in the Complete ME experience at ME Cancun.

    ME Cancun is a contemporary adult-oriented luxury resort concept. It is a South Beach experience in the Mexican Caribbean. We don't like to call it all-inclusive, but we do like to call it "A Complete Experience Beyond Mere Accommodation."
    Accommodations can only be booked as a "Complete Experience" package (AI). However the resort remains a social hub for the local jet -set with its bars, restaurants, and beach club accessible to non-resort guests on a "pay to play" basis.

  • Breathtaking contemporary design and original works of art throughout the resort
  • 419 guest rooms including 29 loft suites, 4 Level Suites and 4 passion suites including the nearly 10,000sq.ft. bi-level SUITE ME, home of MTV's The real world Cancun
  • 5 exceptional dining selections (4 of which serve dinner a la carte)
  • 7 bars
  • 2 adults-only pools (1 infinity pool)
  • 1 pool with water ritual
  • The Chill-out deck
  • The beach club
  • 11,000sq.ft. of world-class YHI Spa facilities
  • Beauty salon

    All-Inclusive Rate From $125 US Per Night, Per Person!

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    Posted by Denise at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)
  • September 08, 2010

    Canada & New England Cruising

    Take a look at these pictures, from Holland America Line, of the Maasdam while cruising in Canada & New England!

    This is the ship, Maasdam, in Quebec City.

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    This is the train station in Quebec City.

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    'Canada & England is a cruise destination on the verge of going big. Each year more and more cruise ships choose to cruise this beautiful area of the world. Below I've included information CLIA has put together on the destination for you to learn more!

    Whether it's a stop at historic Saint John's, Canada's oldest incorporated city; a visit to famed Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts; a call at Baltimore's bustling harbor; or a day baking in the hospitality of beautiful Charleston, South Carolina - a rich variety of wonderful experiences await "close-to-home" vacationers on a cruise along the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada.

    Cruises ranging from two-night getaways to 12-night voyages sail the coastal waters of North America and into Canada along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Choices in embarkation ports that include Montreal, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Norfolk (Virginia), Charleston (South Carolina) and other cities have helped to make these itineraries a popular choice for drive-and-sail cruises and as part of a land and sea vacation.

    The ships sailing east coast cruises rival the ports of call for diversity. Cruise vacationers can choose to take their Canada / New England / U.S. Coastal cruise on ships ranging from intimate vessels carrying fewer than 50 passengers to spectacular resorts at sea.

    Typically the Canada / New England cruise season runs from May through October, with fall foliage highlighting the later sailings, and more southern coastal sailings run through the winter. Value hunters will find the best deals on early spring departures.'

    For more information about a Canada & New England cruise contact Cruising2Paradise.com #1-800-738-8837. For New England & Canada Cruise Specials click here!

    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

    July 29, 2010

    Princess Cruises Details 2011-2012 Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific Cruise Season

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    Passengers Can Explore the Islands of Aloha, French Polynesia, Samoa and
    Other Idyllic Pacific Islands

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (July 29, 2010) - Sun, sand, swaying palm trees, the scent of topical flowers in the air and breathtaking island scenery set the stage for a South Pacific cruise vacation. Princess Cruises will take passengers on a variety of island voyages in 2011-2012 with a full schedule of cruises to Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific. The company will offer 43 sailings of 10 itineraries to 33 ports throughout these idyllic islands.

    Cruise passengers will find that each of these island destinations has its own charms. In Hawaii they'll enjoy the spirit of Aloha throughout the island chain, while Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia showcase a unique mix of South Seas appeal and French culture. Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu each offer their own style and island allure, and all feature the stunning vistas found throughout the South Pacific.

    Travelers interested in the convenience of a roundtrip voyage from Los Angeles can choose to sail aboard Golden Princess or Sapphire Princess to the Hawaiian Islands or on a new 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti & South Pacific cruise aboard Sapphire Princess. Cruisers to Tahiti will enjoy the small ship ambiance of Ocean Princess on several itineraries, and Princess? Aussie-style sailings from Down Under feature Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess sailing roundtrip from Sydney or Brisbane.

    "Everyone dreams of running away to an idyllic Pacific island," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "Our cruises can bring these wonderful islands to life, with more choices than ever to find the perfect vacation."

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    The Hawaiian Islands each have their own personality. On Oahu, the state capital of Honolulu offers a wealth of historic, cultural and scenic attractions, including famous Waikiki Beach, America's only royal residence the Iolani Palace, and Pearl Harbor. The Big Island, the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands, has the most varied in landscape - with striking black sand beaches, tropical rain forests, and the famed Volcanoes National Park, home to three volcanoes, including the actively erupting Kilauea.

    Known as the "Garden Isle," Kauai offers lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and geological wonders, such as the dramatic Na Pali Coastline, and spectacular Waimea Canyon. The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui boasts some of the world's most superb beaches and dramatic mountain landscapes. Visitors can also explore the port town of Lahaina which was once King Kamehameha's capital.

    Made up of more than 130 islands, French Polynesia includes some of the most dreamed about South Seas islands, such as Tahiti and Bora Bora. This is the South Pacific of Melville, Gauguin and Michener. Particularly immortalized by Gauguin's paintings, Tahiti evokes exotic island images and the South Seas state of mind. Nearby Moorea boast precipitous mountains that reach for the sky, creating picture postcard views. No name captures the imagination of paradise as well as Bora Bora. Perhaps the most stunning island in the South Pacific, its majestic landscape was sculpted by ancient volcanoes, showcasing a shimmering lagoon and barrier reef. Passengers on Ocean Princess' 10-day Tahiti & Polynesia itinerary will enjoy a full Two-Day Experience in Bora Bora with extra time to enjoy the island's charms.

    The two islands of Huahine are surrounded by a deep lagoon encircled by a coral necklace. Connected by a bridge, both islands boast white-sand beaches, vanilla and banana plantations, and some of Polynesia's most significant cultural sites. The largest atoll in French Polynesia, divers from all over the world flock to Rangiroa, to explore the undersea world of its 42-mile aquamarine lagoon filled with unique marine life and magnificent underwater scenery.

    Samoa and American Samoa lie at the heart of the South Pacific. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, the southernmost territory of the United States. Here abundant rain creates a lush green landscape marked by ancient volcanoes and thriving coral atolls. Apia, the main township of Samoa, personifies the fa'a Samoa (the Samoan Way), and conjures up images of the perfect South Seas island town.

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    Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific cruises:
    Princess Cruises ships sail to the Hawaiian Islands, between Hawaii and Tahiti and throughout the island paradises of the South Pacific.

    Hawaiian Islands Cruises - Golden Princess and Sapphire Princess will sail from Los Angeles on a 14-day roundtrip voyage to the Land of Aloha with calls at Hilo on the Big Island, Honolulu, Kauai, and Lahaina on Maui, plus Ensenada, Mexico. The ships will sail between September 28, 2011 and April 25, 2012.

    Tahiti & Polynesia - This classic Princess itinerary sails roundtrip from Papeete, Tahiti for 10 days among the islands of Polynesia, with two overnight visits. Ocean Princess starts with an overnight in the Tahitian capital and then calls on Huahine, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Bora Bora (Two-day Experience includes two full days and an overnight), and Moorea. Sailings depart on December 17, 2011; January 18 and 28, 2012.

    Hawaii & Tahiti - Travelers can enjoy the intimacy of a small cruise ship on a voyage that features both the Polynesian paradises of Hawaii and French Polynesia. These 11-day sailings between Papeete and Honolulu on Ocean Princess include calls at Moorea, Bora Bora, Hilo, Maui, and Kauai. Sailings depart December 27, 2011; January 7, February 7 and 18, 2012.

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    Hawaii, Tahiti & Samoa - This new 28-day itinerary aboard Sapphire Princess offers an unusual roundtrip voyage from Los Angeles, to three island groups in one convenient roundtrip sailing. The ship calls at Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Pago Pago, Apia, Bora Bora, Moorea and Papeete. The sailing departs on October 22, 2011.

    South Pacific & New Zealand Cruises - Sailing between Sydney and Papeete, Ocean Princess offers a 16-day voyage including Tauranga, Auckland, Suva (Fiji), Apia, Pago Pago, Bora Bora, and Moorea. The ship departs on December 2, 2011 and February 29, 2012.

    Hawaii, Tahiti & South Pacific - Sea Princess sails across the Pacific between San Francisco and Sydney on a 29-day voyage to Honolulu, Maui, Moorea, Papeete, Bora Bora, Pago Pago, Suva, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Fiordland National Park scenic cruising. The sailings depart on September 17, 2011 and April 15, 2012.

    Aussie Experience Voyages
    Sailings aboard Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess head to the islands from Sydney or Brisbane and feature onboard amenities to appeal to Australian tastes.

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    Hawaii, Tahiti & South Pacific - Dawn Princess will sail on a 35-day roundtrip voyage from Sydney, with calls at Nuku'Alofa (Tonga), Apia, Hilo, Kilauea Volcano scenic cruising, Maui, Honolulu, Kauai, Kona, Papeete, Moorea, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Pago Pago, Suva and Noumťa (New Caledonia). The ship sets sail on April 13, 2012.

    New Caledonia & Vanuatu - Dawn Princess takes a 12-day jaunt roundtrip from Sydney to call at Noumťa, Isle of Pines and Lifou in New Caledonia; and Vila, Wala and Champagne Bay in Vanuatu. The ship sails on May 13, 2011.

    Fijian Jewels - Sun Princess sails roundtrip from Brisbane on an 11-day journey to Noumťa and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia; three Fiji ports, Suva, Port Denarau, and Dravuni Island; and Vila (Vanuatu). The ship sails on January 11 and February 5, 2012.

    Fiji & South Pacific - A popular roundtrip sailing from Sydney featuring 14 days with calls at Lifou, five ports in Fiji: Vila, Port Denarau, Suva, Savu Savu, and Dravuni Island; plus Noumťa. Available on Dawn Princess, Sea Princess and Sun Princess, sailings depart October 5, November 1 and 28, 2011; February 6 and March 16, 2012.

    Additional information about Princess Cruises contact a Princess Expert at Cruising2Tahiti.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

    June 25, 2010

    Oceania Cruises Ups the Culinary Ante in Alaska

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    PACIFIC NORTHWEST CUISINE SHOWCASED ON OCEANIA CRUISES IN ALASKA: Regional Seafood, Game, Poultry and Berries Highlight Menus

    MIAMI, June 23, 2010 - Fresh ingredients, simply prepared, with influences from Asian and Native American traditions are characteristics of Pacific Northwest cuisine. Oceania Cruises will up the epicurean ante in Alaska, from May through August 2011, when guests on m/s Regatta will be treated to succulent selections that showcase regional delicacies.

    "Oceania Cruises is virtually synonymous not only with fine cuisine, but culinary diversity," stated Bob Binder, the line's president. "Our culinary team is eager to showcase Alaska's renowned regional favorites and the region's freshly caught seafood as it adds an entirely new dimension to the dining experience."

    Highlights of Oceania Cruises' maiden Alaska season include two full days of glacier cruising and a mix of marquee and off-the-beaten-path Inland Passage ports, the latter a hallmark of the brand. With two-for-one rates and free airfare, 10-day voyages start at $3,499 per guest, based on double occupancy.

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    Pacific Northwest cuisine will be featured during lunch in the casual Terrace Cafe which offers both indoor and al fresco seating and in the ship's gourmet Grand Dining Room as well. In the evenings, regional specialties will be showcased in all four of the ship's gourmet, open-seating restaurants; all of which are available with no surcharge.

    Great Cuisine in the Great Land
    When provisioning locally, the ship's executive chef seeks the freshest catch and shellfish, making on-the-spot decisions. Consequently, not all selections will always be available and there may be surprise menu additions. Depending on the voyage and venue, appetizers might include Fresh Halibut Veloute - a creamy fish soup with saffron rice and julienne leeks - or Alaskan King Crab Legs, sure to be a guest favorite. Entrees may include: Fresh Local Halibut with dill and tomato beurre blanc Grilled Alaskan Venison Medallions and wild mushroom fricassee Alaskan King Crab Rissotto Poached Local Wild Salmon Filet with chive butter sauce Grilled Halibut with orange and red onion chutney Hazelnut-breaded Chicken Breast with cranberry-orange relish Pan-fried Local Ling Cod Filet a la Duglere Thai-spice Encrusted Alaskan Halibut Filet Wild Alaskan Salmon with apple cider beurre blanc

    Although berries grow abundantly in the vast wilderness areas of the 49th state, they are a limited resource because Alaska's black and brown bears eat them all summer long. Guests onboard Regatta may nevertheless get the chance to taste the favored fruit when the pastry chef creates Alaskan Blueberry Coffee Cake or Springtime Alaskan Berry Pie.

    Four Different & Desirable Itineraries for 2011

    Majestic Alaska Cruise - 14 days roundtrip from San Francisco, a maiden port for Oceania Cruises, visiting Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia; Sitka, Hoonah, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Astoria, Ore. Departures: May 12, Aug. 26.

    Alaskan Grandeur Cruise - 12 days between San Francisco and Vancouver. Ports include Astoria and Victoria, as well as Wrangell, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka and Ketchikan. Departures: May 26, Aug. 14.

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    Frontiers and Glaciers Cruise - 10 days roundtrip from Vancouver, calling at Sitka, Hoonah, Kodiak, Wrangell and Ketchikan. Departures: June 7, Aug. 4.

    Glacial Wilderness Cruise - 12 days between Vancouver and Anchorage, with visits to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Hoonah, Skagway, Sitka, Seward and Homer. Departures: June 17 and 29, July 11 and 23.

    Travelers will discover Alaska aboard Oceania Cruises' 684-guest Regatta - an intimate ship acclaimed for its open-seating gourmet dining (no surcharges), luxurious public rooms and accommodations, and warm, attentive service. For reservations or to order a brochure, contact an Oceania Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    About Oceania Cruises
    Oceania Cruises is the world's only upper-premium cruise line and offers an unrivaled combination of the finest cuisine at sea, elegant accommodations, exceptional personalized service and extraordinary value. Award-winning itineraries visit more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas aboard the luxurious Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and brand new Marina. Riviera, a sister ship to Marina, is scheduled to join the fleet in April 2012.

    About Prestige Cruise Holdings
    Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCH) is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Formed in 2007 to manage select assets in Apollo Management's cruise investment portfolio, PCH is led by Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with nearly 4,000 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, a number the company expects will grow to approximately 6,500 berths by 2012.

    Cruising2Alaska.com is offering this fabulous Oceania Cruises Alaska Cruise Deal for the summer of 2011:

    10 Days Roundtrip Vancouver From $2999 US Including Pre-Paid Grauities & Free Air!

    Posted by Denise at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

    June 22, 2010

    Canada & New England Cruises

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    If you're an avid cruiser like I am you are constantly looking for deals and new places to visit. This is the year to cruise Canada & New England and I'll tell you why . . . In 2010, there will be a record number of ships cruising Canada & New England, TWENTY ONE. That means lots of itineraries to choose from + lots of stateroom availability = lots of good deals!

    Below I've included an outline on the destination from C.L.I.A.

    'Whether it's a stop at historic Saint John's, Canada's oldest incorporated city; a visit to famed Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts; a call at Baltimore's bustling harbor; or a day baking in the hospitality of beautiful Charleston, South Carolina - a rich variety of wonderful experiences await "close-to-home" vacationers on a cruise along the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada.

    Cruises ranging from 2-night getaways to 12-night voyages sail the coastal waters of North America and into Canada along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Choices in embarkation ports that include Montreal, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Norfolk (Virginia), Charleston (South Carolina) and other cities have helped to make these itineraries a popular choice for drive-and-sail cruises and as part of a land and sea vacation.

    The ships sailing east coast cruises rival the ports of call for diversity. Cruise vacationers can choose to take their Canada/New England/U.S. Coastal cruise on ships ranging from intimate vessels carrying fewer than 50 passengers to spectacular resorts at sea.

    Typically the Canada/New England cruise season runs from May through October, with fall foliage highlighting the later sailings, and more southern coastal sailings run through the winter. Value hunters will find the best deals on early spring departures.

    Ports of Call

    Newport
    Charming mom-and-pop shops and restaurants line the streets just steps from the cruise pier of this waterfront town located on Narragansett Bay. A beach community where icons such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and William K. Vanderbilt once lived, Newport is rich in history and famous for its ocean view mansions.

    Mansion Tours
    The great mansions of Newport can be explored during a cliff walk, a stroll around town, or via bus tour down Bellevue Avenue. Some of the stops along the way may include The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff.

    History and Scenery
    Visitors can enjoy Newport's history and scenic beauty on a walking tour around the city or a motor coach excursion down the 10-mile long Ocean Drive. Sights to see and break at along the way include Federal, Colonial and Victorian homes, the Gothic Church of St. Mary's (where JFK and Jacqueline married), Redwood Library, Tourno Synagogue, Newport Art Museum, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Salve Regina University.

    Shopping Options
    Along with parks and million-dollar yachts, visitors can find art galleries, souvenir shops, boutiques, restaurants, name-brand clothing stores and outdoor kiosks along Newport's wharf area and Thames Street.

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    Boston
    One of the nation's oldest and most historic cities, Boston also ranks among the premier attractions on Canada/New England cruise itineraries. Fascinating historical sites and cultural landmarks, a wealth of top museums and trendy shopping and entertainment areas make Boston a great place to visit for anyone.

    Freedom Trail
    A walking tour of Boston can take visitors back to the revolutionary roots of America. Points of interest and story telling on this guided tour include the Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, the Old Corner Book Store, America's first public school, and Faneuil Hall.

    Lexington, Concord and Harvard Yard
    A scenic drive to the outskirts of Boston will take visitors to the battlefields of Lexington and Concord, where Minutemen battled the British army and Paul Revere made his legendary midnight ride. Other highlights include Walden Pond, where Thoreau wrote his masterpiece, and Harvard University.

    Marblehead and Salem
    These two famous coastal communities provide a link to Boston's maritime and Puritan legacies. Visitors to Marblehead will discover its rich nautical heritage, cobblestone streets, Federal and Georgian homes and 19th century mansions. Best known for its 17th century witchcraft hysteria and trials, Salem is home to the Salem Witch Museum where guests will be entertained with stories of Pagans, Wiccans, midwives and healers. A scenic drive down Chestnut Street, often referred to as the "most beautiful street in America," also is a highlight.

    Halifax
    Lighthouses dot the rocky coastline of this Canadian city, the capital of Nova Scotia. Lush parks and gardens, and historic hot spots and picturesque fishing villages add to the allure of this popular port of call.

    Peggy's Cove
    Highlighted by colorful homes and a picture-perfect scene of a lighthouse set in granite boulders and crashing waves, this charming fishing village is one of Canada's most photographed locations. A journey to this area may also include a lobster or salmon bake.

    Titanic Tales
    On April 15, 1912, Halifax served as the main base for the recovery of 209 victims of the sinking of the Titanic some 750 miles east of the city. Cruise excursions visit the church and cemetery where the victims were memorialized and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which houses a collection of Titanic artifacts.

    Historic Halifax
    Halifax can be explored via foot, bus and boat. Sights to see and visit include Citadel Hill, St Paul's Church, Public Gardens, Government House, Province House, the Black Cultural Center and many historic homes.'

    When searching for the best deals I found a 7 day cruise with Carnival Cruises for $459 US and a 9 day cruise with Royal Caribbean for $654 US, both Inside Staterooms. The best Balcony Stateroom deal was a 7 day cruise on the brand new MSC Poesia for $899 US. (The MSC Poesia is owned by MSC Cruises which mainly offers European Cruises) Don't delay booking your Canada/New England cruise deal as space will fill!

    VIEW DEALS ON CANADA/NEW ENGLAND CRUISES HERE!

    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

    April 27, 2010

    OCEANIA CRUISES TO OFFER FIRST-EVERALASKA CRUISES FOR SUMMER 2011

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    Boutique Ports Plus Favorites and 2 Full Days of Glacier Cruising
    Cruises Open for Sale on April 28

    MIAMI, April 23, 2010 -The great land of Alaska will join the list of destinations visited on the award-winning itineraries of Oceania Cruises for summer 2011. Highlights include two full days of glacier cruising and a mix of marquee as well as off-the-beaten-path ports, the latter a hallmark of all Oceania Cruises' voyages.

    Ten departures are designed to explore Alaska's Inside Passage in depth, including Sitka, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, plus less-visited outposts such as Kodiak, Homer and Hoonah. Depending on the itinerary, travelers will also cruise the awe-inspiring Hubbard Glacier, Gulf of Alaska, Tracy Arm and College Fjord.

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    Travelers can choose from four exciting, new itineraries. With two-for-one fares and free air, a 10-day Alaska cruise starts at $3,499 per guest based on double occupancy.

    Majestic Alaska ? 14 days roundtrip from San Francisco, a maiden port for Oceania Cruises, visiting Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia; Sitka, Hoonah, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Astoria, Ore. Departures: May 12, Aug. 26.

    Alaskan Grandeur ? 12 days between San Francisco and Vancouver. Ports include Astoria and Victoria, as well as Wrangell, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka and Ketchikan. Departures: May 26, Aug. 14.

    Frontiers and Glaciers ? 10 days roundtrip from Vancouver, calling at Sitka, Hoonah, Kodiak, Wrangell and Ketchikan. Departures: June 7, Aug. 4.

    Glacial Wilderness ? 12 days between Vancouver and Anchorage, with visits to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Hoonah, Skagway, Sitka, Seward and Homer. Departures: June 17 and 29, July 11 and 23.

    "We are thrilled to add the 49th state to our growing slate of enriching itineraries," stated Frank Del Rio, Oceania Cruises' founder and chairman/CEO of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings. "Our guests are always seeking destinations rich in history, culture, adventure and stunning scenery. The great state of Alaska delivers all of these points of interest and more. We would also like to thank Alaska's Governor, Sean Parnell, and the Alaska Legislature for their efforts to rollback the head tax on cruise passengers which was an important consideration in evaluating our deployment alternatives."

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    Travelers will discover Alaska aboard Oceania Cruises' 684-guest Regatta ? an intimate ship acclaimed for its open-seating gourmet dining (no surcharges), luxurious public rooms and accommodations, and warm, attentive service.

    Oceania Cruises' maiden Alaska cruises go on sale April 28, 2010. For reservations call an Alaska Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    About Oceania Cruises
    Oceania Cruises is the world's only upper-premium cruise line and offers an unrivaled combination of the finest cuisine at sea, elegant accommodations, exceptional personalized service and extraordinary value. Award-winning itineraries visit more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas aboard the luxurious Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and brand new Marina. Riviera, a sister ship to Marina, is scheduled to join the fleet in April 2012.

    About Prestige Cruise Holdings
    Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCF) is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Formed in 2007 to manage select assets in Apollo Management's cruise investment portfolio, PCH is led by Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with nearly 4,000 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, a number the company expects will grow to approximately 6,500 berths by 2012.

    Posted by Denise at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

    February 23, 2010

    NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE'S WINTER/SPRING 2011/12 DEPLOYMENT ADDS TAMPA AND ROME AS HOMEPORTS

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    Line will visit Israel for the first time in more than 10 years; expands Caribbean offerings and extends sailings in Hawaii

    MIAMI - February 23, 2010 - Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that its 2011/12 winter/spring deployment includes two new seasonal homeports: Tampa, Florida and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, marking the first time Norwegian has initiated voyages from these cities. In addition, for the first time since 1999 the cruise line will visit Israel.

    Guests cruising from Tampa on Norwegian Star will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary beginning October 16, 2011 through April 8, 2012. In Europe, Norwegian Jade will sail from Rome (Civitavecchia) on 11-day Mediterranean and Holy Land cruises, along with 10-day Eastern Mediterranean sailings, from October 15, 2011 to April 11, 2012.

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    In the Caribbean, Norwegian Pearl's seven-day Western Caribbean cruise from Miami now includes Ocho Rios, Jamaica as a port of call. The company also announced new sailing dates for Pride of America in Hawaii.

    "Norwegian's 2011/2012 winter/spring cruise season will be one of our most exciting Freestyle Cruising seasons yet with opportunities to sail from three cities in the Sunshine State, including from Miami on our newest ship Norwegian Epic," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's chief executive officer. "We've also added an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cruise to five countries in 11 days on Norwegian Jade, which includes a visit to the Holy Land, a first for Norwegian since 1999."

    These new sailings go on sale today to Latitudes members (guests who have cruised with Norwegian before) along with the line?s top travel partners. The cruises open for sale to the public on Thursday, February 25, 2010. As part of Norwegian's "Year of the Freestyle Vacation" promotion, all new reservations from today through March 14, 2010 will receive up to a six-category upgrade. In addition, book any category suite including Penthouse, Deluxe Owners Suite, Courtyard Villa and Garden Villa from now through April 1, 2010 on a cruise departing at least nine months prior to sailing and receive up to $300 in on-board credits.

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    Norwegian in Europe
    Norwegian Jade's 11-day Mediterranean and Holy Land itinerary offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Alanya, Turkey; Limassol, Cyprus; Haifa and Ashdod, Israel; Port Said and Alexandria, Egypt, along with four relaxing days at sea. Featured shore excursions include overnight tours in Israel to Jerusalem, Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, the Dead Sea and Masada, as well as in Egypt to Cairo?s pyramids and tombs. Guests can also discover the Taurus Mountains in Turkey on a 4x4 safari and set off on a wine tour through the picturesque villages in Cyprus. Norwegian Jade?s 10-day Eastern Mediterranean cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia) includes the following ports: Olympia (Katakolon) and Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Izmir), Turkey; and an overnight in Alexandria, Egypt, offering two full days to experience all of the ancient treasures.

    Norwegian in the Caribbean
    Norwegian Star's seven-day Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa will depart on Sundays and include stops in Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; along with two days at sea.

    Norwegian Sun will return to Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida from October 8, 2011 through April 7, 2012 offering alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Norwegian Sun?s Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes the following ports of call: Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian?s private island in the Bahamas. The ship's Western Caribbean itinerary includes: Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay.

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    From Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line will feature its largest and most innovative ship to date, Norwegian Epic, sailing seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises with stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas with three full days at sea to enjoy all of the ship?s amenities and world-class entertainment.

    Norwegian Pearl will return to Miami from October 16, 2011 to April 8, 2012, sailing seven-day Western Caribbean cruises with stops in Great Stirrup Cay; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico, along with two days at sea.

    Rounding out Norwegian's winter/spring deployment from Miami is Norwegian Dawn offering 10 and 11-day Southern Caribbean escapes from November 13, 2011 through April 8, 2012. The ship's 10-day itinerary visits the following ports: Samana, Dominican Republic; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. John's, Antigua; Bridgetown, Barbados; and Basseterre, St. Kitts; along with three full days at sea. Norwegian Dawn's 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise includes Samana, Dominican Republic; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. John?s, Antigua; Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; and Basseterre, St. Kitts; and three days at sea.
    For those in the Northeast looking to escape the cold winter temperatures, Norwegian Gem will sail 10-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries from New York City departing January 8, 2012 through February 8, 2012. This offers guests an easy and convenient departure point without the expense and hassle of air travel. Ports of call include: San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; St. John's, Antigua; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

    Norwegian in Hawaii
    Pride of America will continue as the only US-flagged vessel sailing among all four of Hawaii's main islands. Pride of America?s seven-day Hawaii inter-island cruises departing from Honolulu are now available through April 7, 2012. Ports of call include: an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; an evening sail by the Kilauea Volcano; Kona, Hawaii; an overnight in Nawiliwili, Kauai; and an afternoon cruise of the breathtaking Napali Coast.

    Norwegian in Canada & New England
    Norwegian Jewel will sail four seven-day sailings from New York City to Canada & New England from September 17 through October 8, 2011. Ports of call include Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick; and Portland, Maine.

    Norwegian Repositioning Cruises
    Norwegian's repositioning cruises are a great way to hit several cruise regions on one trip and include more sea days offering a relaxing vacation without back-to-back port calls. Norwegian Jade offers a 15-day Best of the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Venice and a seven-day Adriatic & Italy from Venice to Rome. Closer to home, Norwegian Pearl offers two 14-day Panama Canal cruises from Miami to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Miami; a seven-day British Columbia & US West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver and a five-day Pacific Coastal from Vancouver to Los Angeles; Norwegian Star offers a 14-day Panama Canal cruise from Los Angeles to Tampa; and a seven-day British Columbia & US West Coast from Vancouver to Los Angeles. For an extended Caribbean vacation, Norwegian Gem will offer a 13-day Caribbean Escape from Miami to New York and Norwegian Jewel will offer an 11-day Caribbean Escape from Miami to New York.

    To book one or more of these new sailings, please contact a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Europe.com #1-800-738-8837.

    About Norwegian Cruise Line
    Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 43-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising, most notably with the introduction of Freestyle Cruising which has revolutionized the industry by allowing guests more freedom and flexibility.

    Today, Norwegian has the youngest fleet in the industry with 10 purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed cruise vacation on the newest, most contemporary ships at sea.

    Norwegian is presently building Norwegian Epic, the company's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date, for delivery in June 2010. Norwegian Cruise Line is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, debuting for the first time at sea on Norwegian Epic.

    Posted by Denise at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

    February 22, 2010

    Princess Introduces New "A la Carte" Alaska Cruisetours this Summer for Independent-Minded Travelers

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    Affordable New Cruisetour Options Offer More Flexibility and Extra Time at Denali

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 19, 2010) -- Princess Cruises is introducing four new "A la Carte" Alaska cruisetour options for this summer's season, offering more affordable and flexible options for independent-minded travelers. These new cruisetours spend an extra day at one of the Denali-area Princess lodges, and do not include excursions, giving travelers the time to customize their own daily schedules.

    The four A la Carte tours range from 10 to 12 nights, offering at least three nights in the Denali area. All cruisetours feature a northbound "Voyage of the Glaciers" Gulf of Alaska cruise aboard Coral Princess or Island Princess, departing from Vancouver; combined with a three-, four- or five-night land tour to the heart of Alaska, featuring stays in Princess' two Denali-area wilderness lodges and exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service. All tours will visit both of the state's top attractions: Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park.

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    Travelers choosing these itineraries will not be scheduled on the Denali National Park tour or other activities usually included with cruisetours, and instead can choose to add any of four park tour options or a variety of other area excursions offered at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

    "These new A la Carte cruisetours are designed specifically with the value-conscious, independent traveler in mind," said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. "With fewer ‘extras' included, we can offer a more affordable tour option with greater flexibility for travelers who prefer to discover the wonders of Alaska at their own pace. Passengers can truly customize their vacation to suit their own interests, whether they want to spend extra time viewing Denali's fascinating wildlife, hike through the spectacular wilderness or try an exhilarating pursuit such as river rafting."

    The four A la Carte cruisetours itineraries are:
    Tour 101 -- 10 nights (Two nights at Denali lodge, one night at Mt. McKinley lodge)
    Tour 102 -- 11 nights (Two nights at Denali lodge, one night at Mt. McKinley lodge, one night Fairbanks)
    Tour 103 -- 11 nights (Two nights at Denali lodge, two nights at Mt. McKinley lodge)
    Tour 104 -- 12 nights (Two nights at Denali lodge, two nights at Mt. McKinley lodge, one night Fairbanks)

    All A la Carte tour options are available throughout the May to September Alaska season, with fares beginning at $899 per person.

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    Princess offers a variety of land/sea Alaska experiences with itineraries ranging from 10 to 15 nights. All cruisetour options feature at least two nights in the Denali National Park area, stays in Princess' own riverside wilderness lodges, and a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing with Glacier Bay National Park.

    Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a Certified Alaska Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Posted by Denise at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

    February 10, 2010

    Princess Cruises Debuts 20 New Shore Excursions in Alaska This Summer

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    Passengers Can Help Out with a Scientific Expedition or Get Up Close and Personal with Glaciers and Wildlife

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 9, 2010) ? This year Princess Cruises offers passengers some fresh ways to experience Alaska up close and personal with a variety of new shore excursions for the summer. Among the 20 new options is a unique opportunity to join a scientific expedition while in Juneau to help study climate change and wildlife behavior patterns.

    Passengers can also get closer to the dramatic glaciers of Tracy Arm, pilot their own zodiac on a tour of Ketchikan or enjoy the opportunity for animal encounters at a film trainer's wildlife park. These new options join Princess' extensive shore excursion program, which currently offers 215 different Alaska tour options for passengers starting in May.

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    "Alaska offers so many thrilling experiences for visitors ? there's beautiful scenery nearly everywhere you turn, great opportunities to encounter wildlife, an intriguing Native culture, and of course the towering glaciers," said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. "These new excursions showcase some of the many wonders available throughout this amazing state, and offer visitors a number of ways to get a very personal Alaska vacation."

    New tours available to Alaska passengers this summer include:

    Whales & Glaciers Citizen Science Adventure (Juneau) - This unique tour will give participants a taste of what it?s like to be a research scientist in the wilds of the Last Frontier. Passengers join a science-based excursion giving them the opportunity to participate in a GPS time-lapse photo project at the Mendenhall Glacier that documents the effects of climate change on the Juneau Icefield. Citizen scientists can also collect water samples, net plankton and record humpback whale and other marine wildlife behavior. This observational data will improve scientists' understanding of the many variables that affect Alaska's marine ecosystem. In addition, passengers will enjoy a whale-watching cruise, with guaranteed whale sightings.

    Back Country Zodiac Expedition (Ketchikan) - Passengers can be their own captain for the day as they skipper their custom-built motorized inflatable along the coastline of Revillagigado Island for a unique Alaska adventure. Participants will follow their guide on a journey that explores Native culture with a view of Saxman Native Village, and a search for wildlife such as bears, eagles, whales, seals and more. The group guide will explain the area's history, geology, culture and ecology.

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    Alaska Wildlife Park (Princess Exclusive - Skagway) - Visitors can meet many types of animals at the Kroschel Films Wildlife Park Center. The park is run by trainer Steve Kroschel who has a lifetime of experience working with wild animals for movies such as "Never Cry Wolf" and the PBS "Wild America" series. His center provides a home for numerous orphaned wild animals including wolves, Arctic fox, lynx, porcupine, pine marten, mink, reindeer and wolverines. Guests will enjoy hands-on, face-to-face encounters and intimate close-up photography of many of these animals as they learn about the behavior of these intriguing creatures and gain an understanding of the time and trust required to train them.

    Whales, Bears & Glaciers Adventure (Princess Exclusive - Juneau) - This excursion offers an opportunity to experience the perfect Alaska trifecta: whale watching, bear viewing and a scenic flight over the glaciers of the Juneau Icefield. Visitors will see two of Alaska's most impressive creatures with a whale watching cruise that guarantees sightings, plus a bear search at a salmon-bearing stream. The tour caps off with a flight over the Juneau Icefield and the Mendenhall Glacier on the way back to town.

    Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer (Juneau) - Sapphire Princess passengers have a new way to get a close-up look at the glaciers of Tracy Arm as they cruise aboard a luxurious, high-speed catamaran for an in-depth exploration of the twin Sawyer Glaciers. The adventure begins just before Sapphire Princess reaches the entry to Tracy Arm, as participants board their catamaran directly from the ship. After viewing glaciers from a much closer vantage point than is possible from a cruise ship, they will travel to Juneau to rejoin Sapphire Princess.

    Adventure Park & Zip Lines (Skagway) - Thrill-seeking passengers can walk along raised balance beams, cross suspension bridges and fly through the air on a series of zip lines with this adventurous excursion. The exciting course will keep passengers challenged and exhilarated as they soar through the air on a series of six zip lines through the lush Alaska canopy.

    Juneau Jeep Adventure (Princess Exclusive) - Visitors can experience Juneau's most scenic and historic locales in the rugged comfort of a Jeep Wrangler for a small group adventure. A diver/guide will take each group on a tour through Juneau, to a scenic view of Mendenhall Glacier and other local sites, ending with a stop at the award-winning Alaskan Brewing Company for a final taste of Juneau.

    Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter & Salmon Bake Combo (Princess Exclusive - Juneau) - This unique tour combination gives passengers a stunning aerial view of the famed Mendenhall Glacier plus the chance to feast on wild Alaska salmon. Participants will enjoy a glacier landing where they can explore the glacier's surface and learn how glaciers form, flow and shape the landscape. Once they've worked up an appetite, visitors join the salmon bake festivities for an all-you-can-eat meal.

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    Historical Ketchikan Walking Tour (Princess Exclusive) - Visitors can gain a unique understanding of Ketchikan and its Tlingit culture on this guided walking tour of Alaska's "First City." Led by a former city mayor of Tlingit descent, the tour offers personal knowledge of the many changes Ketchikan has experienced over the years. Visitors will also learn the significance of totem poles within Native culture, see the former red light district, and visit a salmon ladder to see the incredible journey salmon endure as they return to their spawning ground.

    Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition (Ketchikan) - Passengers can view black bears in their natural habitat on a wildlife experience just a short drive from downtown Ketchikan. Participants will enjoy a nature walk on their way to a stream where more than 100,000 Pacific salmon return each year to spawn. Large concentrations of bears and other wildlife gather to feed on the huge runs of salmon. In addition to the bears, bald eagles wait for scraps, while mink, marten and wolf frequent the area, and seals can usually be seen feeding on the bountiful fish harvest.

    Behind the Scenes at Butchart Gardens (Victoria) - One of Victoria's premiere attractions, Butchart Gardens is a beautiful place to explore independently. However, with this tour, guests have the unusual opportunity to go beyond the usual self-guided visit, and enjoy an exclusive in-depth guided tour behind the scenes. Visitors will learn the history of the gardens and explore the Mediterranean Garden and botanist?s greenhouse, plus see a demonstration by the gardens' ceramics master as he displays his skills in flower-pot making.

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    All Alaska shore excursions are currently available for pre-reservation. Passengers who are already booked on an Alaska cruise can reserve their tours by logging on to the Cruise Personalizer on princess.com, to ensure they get the excursions of their choice. As many tours fill up quickly, passengers are encouraged to make selections as early as possible.

    Posted by Denise at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

    February 04, 2010

    Introducing The Juilliard School Jazz Series

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    As part of Cunard Insights, The Juilliard School Jazz Series will feature performances, lectures and Q&A sessions with students and faculty from the school's Institute of Jazz Studies onboard select Transatlantic Crossings in 2010. Guests joining QUEEN MARY 2 on these voyages will be treated to the best in classic and contemporary jazz in the regal Royal Court Theatre.

    Become part of this extraordinary entertainment experience. Reserve your stateroom on one of the Transatlantic Crossings featured below and enjoy world-class jazz performances whilst sailing aboard the grandest ocean liner at sea.

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    Jazz Series artists are scheduled for the following Transatlantic Crossings:

    15 APRIL:
    Brandon Lee - Trumpet
    Kris Bowers - Piano
    Philip Kuehn - Bass
    Aaron Kimmel - Drums

    8 AUGUST
    Michael Cottone - Trumpet
    Andrew Gutauskas - Alto Saxophone

    21 MAY
    Rodney Jones - Guitar

    12 SEPTEMBER
    JUILLIARD JAZZ FACULTY ENSEMBLE
    Eddie Henderson - Trumpet
    Frank Kimbrough - Piano
    Ben Wolfe - Bass
    Carl Allen - Drums

    7 JUNE
    James Burton - Trombone

    6 JULY
    Jeremy Viner - Tenor Saxophone
    Chris Burbank - Trumpet

    12 OCTOBER
    Randall Haywood - Trumpet

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    For More Information Contact a European Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Europe.com at #1-800-738-8837.

    The April 15, 2010 Crossing is a Segment of QUEEN MARY 2's World Voyage.

    All entertainment and enrichment programming is subject to change without notice. In the event of such changes in schedule or performers, Cunard will not be liable to compensate guests. Any guest who elects to cancel their voyage will be subject to cancellation charges in accordance with our booking policies. Further information on the entertainment and enrichment programming schedule will be posted on our website, www.cunard.com, as it becomes available.

    Ship's registry: Great Britain. ©CUNARD 2010. The CUNARD logo and logotype are registered trademarks of Carnival plc, an English Company trading as Cunard Line Ltd. QUEEN MARY 2 and Cunard Insights are trademarks owned by CUNARD. All rights reserved in the United States and other countries.

    Posted by Denise at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

    December 18, 2009

    Famous couple renewed their vows at RIU Guanacaste!

    Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida Renewed Their Vows At Riu Guanacaste Hotel

    Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida experienced the magic of RIU as they fell in love all over again and renewed their vows at the Riu Guanacaste Hotel in Costa Rica.

    Accompanied by their children, family and friends, the couple enjoyed their stay from november 23 to 30 in a wonderful "Family Room", and enjoyed the privacy and comfort of these specially designed suites.

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    This new RIU destination is the ideal vacation choice for families, couples and groups, and the hotel is ideally situated in a convenient and naturally beautiful area. Its 24-hour All Inclusive program includes extensive services and amenities, various specialty restaurants, entertainment, a popular disco, nightly RIU theme shows, and aquatic activities like windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling and kayaking . . . everything you could ask for!

    Come and discover the untouched beauty of Costa Rica with RIU! Specials now available call #1-800-738-8837!

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    RIU 24 Hours All Inclusive Program Includes: unlimited meals and snacks, multiple specialty restaurants serving a variety of international cuisines, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited use of the in-room mini-bar and liquor dispenser, safety deposit box, various water and land sports, daily activities, live entertainment, taxes and service charges included.

    RIU resorts are also located in: Cancun - Riviera Maya - Nuevo Vallarta - Riviera Nayarit - Cabo San Lucas - Mazatlan - Puerto Plata - Punta Cana - Bahamas Paradise Island - Montego Bay - Negril - Ocho Rios - Aruba - Costa Rica - Miami Beach

    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

    December 16, 2009

    THE ULTIMATE WAVE TAHITI TRAILER, WEBSITE, AND POSTER ART FOR KELLY SLATER IMAXģ FILM NOW AVAILABLE

    Nine-time world surfing champion's feature film premieres in February.

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Dec. 15, 2009)---Nine-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater comes to IMAX and other Giant Screen theaters in early February with the premiere of The Ultimate Wave Tahiti, shown in both 3D and 2D formats. For those hoping to get an early look at the action and Tahiti's beauty in director Stephen Low's film, the distributor has launched a new website, www.ultimatewavetahiti.com, as well as releasing the trailer and poster art for the upcoming feature.

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    According to Mark Kresser of K2 Communications, Inc., the Website includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the two-year production and provides an insight to the many challenges faced by the crew. It also paints a personal picture of the relationship that developed between Slater and his Tahitian surfing partner, Raimana Van Bastolaer, as they tackled Teahupo'o, considered one of the most difficult waves in the world.

    "So much of the film is a human interest story as the local Tahitian community plays host to Kelly's quest for the perfect wave," said Kresser.

    He said the trailer for The Ultimate Wave Tahiti, available on the website and soon debuting in selected Giant Screen theaters, will provide a glimpse of both the surf action and familiarity between the surfers that is integral to the film's storyline.

    The poster art for The Ultimate Wave Tahiti is also being released in conjunction with the Website and trailer. Phil Roberts, well-known surf lifestyle artist, was commissioned to produce a unique look for the film, concentrating on both the Slater persona and the famed Tahitian wave.

    Kresser said "the Roberts art treatment provides a blend of strong graphics and striking colors that do justice to the spectacular Tahitian scenery and the majesty of Teahupo'o."

    At the core of the film is wave-formation science that helps the viewer understand the genesis and growth of waves like Teahupo'o that deliver the highest energy density of any renewable resource. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided scientific consultation for the film and will be creating film-related outreach activities to communicate messages related to the care and protection of the world's oceans.

    The Ultimate Wave Tahiti, which will premiere Feb. 8, 2010 at the Los Angeles Science Center IMAX Theater, is produced by The Stephen Low Company in association with K2 Communications and havoc Television. Underwriting and marketing for the film was provided by Suzuki, Tahiti Tourisme, and Quiksilver.

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    Tahiti Travel Deals . . .

    10 Day Tahiti Cruise on Royal Princess November 29, 2010 From $1245 US!

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    Photos Courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme

    Posted by Denise at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

    December 01, 2009

    Celebrity Cruises Offers Caribbean Cruises Year-Round

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    Traveling in the summer every year is a busy time to get away becuase children, and some adults, are out of school. Celebrity Cruises has just announced that they want to make it easier for you to cruise with them. In addition, to offering Alaska Cruises from Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC they will now offer Caribbean Cruises from Fort Lauderdale, FL. A third home-port for you to drive to or fly to easily!

    Now this summer Caribbean cruise is not on just another cruise ship. It's onboard the Celebrity Solstice. This brand new ship came into service last December and has wowed everyone that's stepped aboard. Celebrity Solstice is the largest and most innovative vessel ever to sail for Celebrity Cruises. There are a wealth of dining, spa and entertainment options for guests.

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    I had the pleasure of cruising on this ship last December to the Eastern Caribbean. There are so many fabulous things I can say about this ship. I loved the modern decor, the lawn club (which is a grass area on top of the ship aft offering lawn bowling), and the AquaSpa is the largest I've seen on any ship . . . with many treatment rooms, the persian gardens (sauna/steam area with heated tile lounge chairs), huge fitness center with many machines and much more!

    The entertainment is superb. I liked the late-nite comedy at Celebrity Central. This area feels like a cute comedy club at home. You must see the formal evening shows at the Solstice Theater. It is amazing - singers, dancers, acrobats and more! And they are not just on the stage in front of you, but hanging from the ceiling too.

    My favourite part of this ship was the food. I know, I know it's all about the food when you cruise. The two best restaurants onboard, in my opinion, are:

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    Murano - Celebrity's signature specialty restaurant. It offers excellent service with a large menu of items to choose from (classic & modern continental cuisines). I had to dine here 3 times during my 7 night cruise because I wanted to try so many things. Plus, they have a wine pairing menu at an excellent price. (Cover Charge of $30 US per person)

    Bistro On Five - This may surprise you. Many guests onboard the ship didn't even try this restaurant, but it is a must! This restaurant offers crepes, paninis and desserts. If you sleep in late one morning go here for one of many egg crepes or has a causal lunch or dinner with their amazing paninis. Again, I had to visit this restaurant 3 times during my cruise because it was soooo good! It's right across from the Cova Cafe on Deck 5 . . . don't miss it. (Cover Charge of $5 US per person)

    There are many other options for your palate. The maing dining room offers 2 meals a day. The Silk Harvest Restaurant offers asian cuisine; yes the sushi is good here! Tuscan Grille offers Italian cuisine and of course the Oceanview Cafe offers buffet-style food 24-hours a day.

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    Would you like a glass of wine? If you're like me and tired of house wine take a look at the cellar masters. It offers a good selection of wines by the bottle and there's also an area where you can purchase high-end wines by glass.

    Or how about a martini? The Martini Bar on Entertainment Deck 5 has a cool vibe with a large selection of Martini's to choose from.

    Written By Denise Blackmore, MCC

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    Are you ready to cruise on the Celebrity Solstice? Check out these hot deals . . .

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    Posted by Denise at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

    October 13, 2009

    Tropical Strom Patricia May Affect Mexico Cruises

    Forescasters say Tropical Storm Patricia could reach the vicinity of Cabo San Lucas by early Wednesday. This strom was formed earlier this week south of Cabo, a popular Mexico cruise port.

    Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas is in the region and already switched courise to avoid the storm. The 3,114 passenger cruise ship will spend today at sea instead of visiting Cabo San Lucas. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson says they have modified the current cruise itinerary to visit Cabo San Lucas after stops in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan this week, trying to avoid the storm.

    As of 5:00am Pacific Time this morning, Tropical Storm Patricia was approximately 140 miles south-southeast of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula and was moving to the north about 6 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center forecasts Patricia will strength flightl today. They also said it is unlikely to become a hurricane.

    An update at 3:45pm Pacific Time today states Tropical Storm Patricia has weakened. Forecasters now expect the storm to pass near or over the southern Baha Peninsula tonight and Wednesday.

    Posted by Denise at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

    October 01, 2009

    Two Cruise Ships Collided in Cozumel Wednesday

    Wednesday night in Cozumel, Mexico the Carnival Legend (a Carnival Cruise Line ship) was pulling out of the port when it collided with the Enchantment of the Seas (a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship). Carnival says the 2,124 passenger ship had just untied from its berth when it was caught by heavy winds and pushed into the other ship.

    "Extremely strong winds pushed the vessel up against the side of Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas," the line says in a statement to USA Today. "The (Royal Caaribbean) ship was at dock when the incident occurred. The Carnival Legend sustained broken glass and other minor damage to some open deck areas."

    The USA Today is reporting that a Royal Caribbean spokeswomen is saying the Enchantment of the Seas suffered what appears to be minor damage to the stern of the ship and ship railings. They have also noted spokespeople for both cruise lines say they have received no reports of injuries on board their respective ships resulting from the incident.

    "All appropriate authorities have been notified," Carnival says in its statement. "Following an examination of the vessel by Mexican authorities, the Carnival Legend was cleared to sail on to Belize, its next scheduled port of call."

    A passenger onboard the Enchantment of the Seas wrote this on his personal blog page about the incident: "OK, so we're sitting in port. A few of us are on the pool deck watching the Carnival Legend pull out of port. As we're watching it, it's getting closer and closer. It looked like the wind was pushing the other ship toward us. I looked down and saw a tug boat try to get between the two boats, but it was too late. Then the collison became inevitable. There was some crunching and breaking glass noises and the ship rocked to one side a little. It was such a slow crash that it was barely noticeable. We could see scraped paint on the other ship. Really, nobody was hurt and we're waiting for the all-clear from the harbor master to leave port."

    The USA Today also reports that they spoke to a client onboard the Enchantment of the Seas named Greg Land. This passenger watched the ship from the balcony of his suite. He states "A storm began to kick up over the area with gusts up to 60 knots, and this caused the Carnival Legend to be carried by the currents closer and closer to the Enchantment. We happened to be out on the deck and saw the Legend getting closer and closer to us. The side of the legend was dented badly, and the glass railings on the (Legend's) promenade deck were shattered with broken glass everywhere. Immediately, crew members on both ships were called into their emergency positions and passenger ran up on deck to see what had bumped and rattled the two ships so badly."

    The passenger also notes it took several attempts to pull the Carnival Legend back into its dock space due to the heavy winds. Cozumel authorities eventually cleared both ships after the incident, and both ships are heading to their next stops . . . which is Belize City, Belize for both ships.

    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

    September 29, 2009

    Parking the ms Rotterdam in Barcelona, Spain

    I have to include this amazing photo taken by a staff member onboard the ms Rotterdam. Captain Peter Harris is parking the ship in Barcelona, Spain on September 28th, 2009 right next to the Ruby Princess.

    The ship is not being assisted by a harbour tug. Take a look...

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    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

    September 24, 2009

    Brazil Visa Backlog could impact your cruise!

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    If you are planning a trip or cruise vacation to South America this winter book now. If your trip includes Brazil, and you live in the West, you better be sure to apply for a visa far in advance.

    A report has marked a slowdown in visa processing at Brazil's Los Angeles consulate office and this could cause problems for thousands of cruisers heading to South America in the coming months.

    Brazil's Los Angeles consulate handles visa applications from California, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. That represents a significant percentage of cruisers nationwide.

    The head of the National Assoication of Passport and Visa Services states the slowdown is "severe and it hit at the worst time. We're not at the point of no return, but we're getting close." That means as a worst case, if passengers are unable to get visas lines may have to bypass Brazil this winter.

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    If you're planning on visiting South America this winter there are many cruises that don't include Brazil, focusing on Argentina and Chile cruising around Cape Horn. View South America cruise specials now!

    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

    September 23, 2009

    Carnival Corporation May Pull More Cruise Ships From Alaska

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    Micky Arison, the CEO and chairman for Carnival Corporation told Wall Street analysts today that the company is likely to pull more cruise ship our of Alaska over the coming year due to the rising cost of doing business in the state.

    The parent company of Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. Princess Cruises and Holland America Line are cruise lines that have been traveling to Alaska for over 50 years and offer lodges and trains by have built and own. All three cruise lines already announced plans to reduce capacity in Alaska significantly for 2010, as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. But Arison says further reductions to begin in 2011 now are under discussion.

    Arison stated "It is likely we are going to do more of (the capacity cutting) in '11," during a conference call to discuss third quarter earnings. "The amount of cost that they've put on to the industry during this short season is astronomical, and it will continue to negatively affect Alaska."

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    Arison and other Carnival executives said destination like Europe hold more appeal for their ships as its becoming increasingly difficult to make money in Alaska due to growing fees, taxes and regulations imposed on cruise lines by the state.

    "The brand will decide to put this ship where there is the best return and the most profitable returns," Arison told analysts. "They have to put it in the context that they already have seven ships in Europe or they already have two ships in Australia, but they will model it out, and if it pays to pull a ship from Alaska and put it in Europe or . . . the Far East they will do that."

    Arison also noted that Alaska is a summer destination, and there are plenty of alternatives during the summer. "You're talking the peak July and August period where we can make a lot of money on a lot of different itineraries, and (because of rising fees and taxes) we can't make a lot of money in Alaska."

    These comments come just a few days after an association that represents 9 major cruise lines sailing to Alaska filed a lawsuit challenging the state's recently added $50 tax on vacationers arriving on cruise ships.

    A few days ago Disney Cruise Line announced in 2011 they will put one of their ships in Alaska. Arison said this decision by Disney Cruise Line was an outlier event, and he didn't expect Disney to stick anound for long. Arison stated "Disney has historically cherry-picked markets. It may do this one year and not come back for three, four or five years. The basic Alaska business will be declining. You may get Disney, Crystal or maybe even a Seabourn" for a season, he said, but on the whole ships will be pulling out due to the rising cost of doing business and the falling return.

    View Alaska Cruise Specials

    Written by Denise Blackmore, MCC

    Posted by Denise at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

    September 17, 2009

    Carnival to Launch First Year-Round Cruise Program from Charleston in 2010

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    Starting on May 18, 2010, Carnival will introduce the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston, S.C., with the deployment of the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy. Carnival Fantasy will operate from the Passenger Terminal in historic downtown Charleston.

    Charleston's centralized location within the southeastern U.S., as well as the city's strong appeal as a tourist destination, were key factors in the decision to launch year-round service. The Carnival Fantasy is expected to carry more than 140,000 passengers annually from the port.

    Carnival Fantasy will operate five-, six- and seven-day voyages on a variety of different departure days. Five-day voyages departing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will call at Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas. Six-day voyages departing Saturdays will visit Freeport, Nassau and Key West, Fla. Seven-day voyages depart Saturdays and will feature Grand Turk, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Nassau.

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    Replacing the Carnival Fantasy in Mobile will be its sister ship, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation, which will reposition from San Diego to launch year-round service from that port May 15, 2010.

    With the addition of Charleston, Carnival will operate from 12 year-round homeports which are among the line's 20 North American departure points - the most in cruising.

    Written by Denise Blackmore, MCC

    Posted by Denise at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

    February 18, 2009

    The Mediterranean: A European Anniversary Celebration

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    A maze of narrow streets. That gorgeous piazza with its elegant facades. And dozens of water taxis coming and going. These are some of my most vivid memories of Venice. Since we always said we'd go back, I decided to surprise my husband on our next wedding anniversary with a Mediterranean cruise to Venice onboard Brilliance of the Seas. Twelve magical days onboard between beautiful cities in the cradle of civilization while being pampered along the way - I can't think of a better way to celebrate.

    I want to visit more of Livorno and Dubrovnik this time around. Since we've been to Cannes many times, we'll explore on our own. We'll go for a walk along La Croisette's promenade and the quaint shops near the east end before heading to lunch. There are so many great outdoor cafes and restaurants in Cannes. I can already taste the steaming cauldron of bouillabaisse with Mediterranean crayfish, seasoned with fennel and saffron. It's simply delicious! I signed us up for an excursion to Florence from Livorno, which will take us to see Michelangelo's David at the Academy Gallery. I'm excited about our first visit to Florence. On the way back, I want to stop off in the Venetian Quarter for a Bellini cocktail and pasta with fresh mussels, my favorite.

    Dubrovnik sounds like a fascinating place with an exceptional architectural heritage. I really want to visit the old Walled City. I've seen pictures of the area with its gleaming marble streets lined with baroque buildings and Renaissance facades. It looks so regal. I cannot wait for Rome's city tour that will take us to Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica. We'll have free time to explore Rome at our leisure and shop the boutiques and markets for hand-blown glass ornaments and chocolate cherry almond biscotti.

    Of course, Venice is my favorite place of all. Not only is it beautiful, it holds special memories for us. We'll have plenty of time to get a taste of the local flavor - from the lively atmosphere of St. Mark's Square to the bustle of the Grand Canal. I have something special planned - a chance to discover our own private Venice on a romantic gondola in the moonlight. I think this cruise vacation will be even better than out first trip to the Mediterranean.

    Taken From Crown & Anchor Magazine

    View details regarding a Royal Caribbean Northern Europe or Mediterranean Cruise here!

    View details regarding a Royal Caribbean Northern Europe or Mediterranean Cruisetour here!

    Posted by Denise at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

    January 09, 2005

    Princess Cruises 2005 Alaska Brochure

    Princess Cruises released its new brochure to help passengers escape into the Alaskan wilderness in 2005. The 120-page book details all of Princess‚?? cruise and cruisetour itinerary options for next summer, including the debut of the line‚??s new Direct to the Wilderness rail service between Whittier and Denali, an industry first.

    Princess Cruises will offer 125 departures in 2005, aboard seven ships, and featuring three popular Alaska routes ‚?? seven-day Gulf of Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Whittier; seven-day Inside Passage from Seattle and 10-day Inside Passage from San Francisco. On land, 35 cruisetours options round out the offerings and the brochure provides helpful hints and a cruisetour finder to assist passengers in planning their land/sea vacation.

    Highlights and itineraries for 2005 include:

    Direct to the Wilderness
    Passengers will be able to get to the wilderness faster than ever with the debut of the line‚??s ‚??Direct to the Wilderness‚?Ě rail program that will have trains ready and waiting right at the Whittier dock. This exclusive rail service is an industry first and will whisk passengers directly to Princess‚?? two Denali park-area lodges -- Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge or Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge -- via private direct-rail links. This innovative program will significantly reduce travel time and decrease the number of transfers needed on the way to the park. Guests will arrive in the Denali area in the afternoon of the same day they disembark their ship. As a result, Princess‚?? cruisetours not only offer the fastest way to the Denali area, but now every tour offers at least two nights in the park area.

    Cruisetours
    Passengers can create a full land/sea wilderness adventure with by adding one of Princess‚?? 35 land itinerary options, each offering at least two nights at Alaska‚??s number one land attraction, Denali National Park. Princess‚?? five wilderness lodges -- Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge and Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge ‚?? each offer dramatic riverfront locations in some of Alaska‚??s most stunning destinations.

    Voyage of the Glaciers
    Princess again offers seven-day sailings on its signature ‚??Voyage of the Glaciers‚?Ě itinerary between Vancouver and Whittier. The 2005 Alaska cruise season features new sister ships Coral Princess and Island Princess on alternating Saturday departures. They will be joined by Sun Princess and Dawn Princess, which set sail each Monday on either a northbound or southbound cruise. Sailing between May 7 and September 12, the ships offers passengers the opportunity to explore the ports of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, plus cruising through the spectacular scenery of College Fjord, the Inside Passage and Alaska‚??s number one attraction, Glacier Bay National Park.

    Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess Sail From Seattle
    The largest cruise ships to ply Alaskan waters, Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess return to Seattle to offer seven-day roundtrip voyages calling at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, plus cruising through the dramatic glaciers, rock walls and waterfalls of Tracy Arm and the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Diamond Princess will offer 20 voyages on this itinerary departing on Saturdays between May 7 and September 17, 2005, while Sapphire Princess will offer 19 voyages departing on Sundays, beginning May 15 and continuing through September 18.

    Regal Princess from San Francisco
    Regal Princess will offer 14 departures between May 8 and September 15 on a 10-day Inside Passage itinerary roundtrip from ‚??The City by the Bay,‚?Ě San Francisco. Passengers have a choice of itineraries that feature calls at Victoria, Juneau and two other scenic Alaska ports that rotate between Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway or Haines. All voyages also offer premiere glacier viewing in Tracy Arm.

    Press Release By Princess Cruises

    Alaska Cruise Specialists - Cruising2Alaska.com

    Posted by Denise at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

    January 03, 2005

    Alaska

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    Worldwide Destinations: Alaska

    Breathtaking scenery, gleaming glaciers, abundant wildlife, and Native American culture are only a few of the spectacular attractions that draw cruise vacationers to Alaska. With so much to see and do in Alaska, it's no wonder the state's official flower is the alpine forget-me-not!

    Ships that visit Alaska on a seven-day itinerary typically sail along the Inside Passage and visit Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier, stopping at four ports along the way. Most cruise lines also offer a variety of extended cruise-tour package options which take passengers deeper into Alaska via train and include land stays at lodges and sightseeing in Denali National Park - making their trip to Alaska even more comprehensive.

    For climate and sunlight purposes, cruises to Alaska sail strictly during the summer months, from early May to September. June, July and August can be classified as peak season when average daily high temperatures can reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so those looking for the best value should check sailing dates in May and September when temperatures hover around 50 degrees.

    A variety of cruise ships sail to Alaska, including luxury vessels and midsize ships - most of which offer expanded kids programs for family vacationers. While the majority of ships sail from Vancouver, BC. Seattle is increasingly becoming a popular summer homeport for many lines. Both embarkation/disembarkation points allow ships to visit the most popular ports on an Alaska cruise, including Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.

    Ports of Call

    Anchorage - Anchorage is a big city in a secluded state; it remains true to its heritage while forging ahead with revolutionary new sites and museums. Some of the facilities are top-notch establishments technologically, while others continue to provide an authentic look at the area's ancient past, and have remained unchanged for decades. Alaskans have a strong sense of culture, and they want to stay faithful to the traditions of their ancestors. And yet, this is a tourist area, and with tourism comes growth and expansion. The restaurants in Anchorage are extraordinary, and you can find all kinds of dining options that are sure to please even the most well-tuned plate. The wide array of public parks in Anchorage proves to be one of the best features of this diverse and gorgeous area. You don't have to go looking for breathtaking scenery in Anchorage; it is everywhere, and will surprise you at every turn ¬Į the horizon is glorious, and the mountains and ocean create magnificent backdrops. Many of the regions in Alaska are quite populated. In fact, 40% of the inhabitants of Alaska live in Anchorage, making it by far the most populous city in Alaska. Many citizens living in other parts of the state accuse Anchorage of selling out to big business and consumerism, creating a feud of sorts between Anchorage and the rest of the state. Their disagreement need not concern tourists, as there is never a threat of political upheaval or instability, just in case you were worried. In general, everywhere you go you will feel comfortable with the friendly and helpful local residents.

    While Anchorage may be rather built up, and sections of it are somewhat commercial, you do not have to go far to find yourself deep in the Alaskan wilderness. In fact, a tour on a floatplane will take you into regions that are remarkably remote, where the only life you will see is a bear hunting the Alaskan waters for a fresh salmon dinner.

    Haines - If you are looking for an enjoyable and milder trip to Alaska, then Haines is the ideal spot for you. Haines is perhaps the most beautiful spot in the entire state, and the picturesque scenery of the snow-covered mountains will satisfy all of your visual desires. When you get close to docking in Haines you are certain to be mesmerized by the landscape, and its aesthetic brilliance is complemented by much better weather than the other regions of Southeast Alaska, with less than half of the annual rainfall of Juneau. The blue waters that encompass Haines are spectacular, and because of the comparatively pleasant weather, the area has become known as the sunny spot of the Southeast. This city is full of culture and tradition, and its citizens make every effort to remain true to their heritage. Many of the Tlingit people reside in Haines, natives whose ancestors lived here hundreds of years ago. Tourists to Alaska often remark that the Tlingits and the other locals in Haines are some of the most likeable people in all of Alaska, comfortable with themselves and with helping one another and visitors to their city. One of the most pleasant nighttime activities in Haines is to venture into one of the local bars and have a drink with someone who has lived in town their entire life. The stories, both contemporary and ancient tribal legends, are absolutely fascinating.

    Haines may be a small town, but it's got a lot of energy and life. Its campgrounds are perfect for an afternoon hike, and if photography interests you, you're always in luck. No matter what time of year you visit Haines, you can be sure that you will be snapping some splendid shots. Some fine museums and great restaurants complete a wonderful selection of memorable experiences in Haines.

    Juneau - Juneau is the third most populated city in Alaska, and it is the capital of this great state. Located in the Southeast region of Alaska, Juneau is a wonderful vacation spot full of fun activities, fascinating sites, extraordinary museums, and tasty eateries. The shopping in Juneau is fantastic, and the layout of the city is one of interesting complexity. Juneau combines ancient Alaskan traditions with Western commercialism and bustling city life. This is a very popular area, especially during peak ski and fishing seasons. The hiking in Juneau is terrific, as is the shopping. The wide array of stores offer unique-to-Juneau artwork and handicrafts of particularly high quality. In the summer this city is definitely the most popular destination in Alaska for cruise passengers from the United States mainland. There are a number of spectacular art galleries and specialty stores very much like those in many big cities. But, if it is remote and isolated wilderness you are in search of, Juneau will be more than happy to comply. There are great hiking areas, plenty of ocean for sea kayaking expeditions, and wonderful trails for mountain biking and other outdoor activities.

    The population here is 300,000, but during the off-peak season, Juneau seems like a quaint little town with limited growth potential because of the area's geography, comprised of impenetrable natural barriers. Mount Roberts and Mount Juneau surround the small city, and avalanche threats have prevented any true expansion. The Juneau Ice field is a site that demands a visit; it too has hindered the growth of Juneau. Efforts to brave the mountains or forge the Ice field in hopes of expanding the city are just not feasible. Perhaps this is nature's way of telling the local government to leave this exquisite town just as it is.

    Ketchikan - Ketchikan is an ancient city that is both fascinating and enjoyable. Even though there are some American restaurants and stores, (and it is part of the States, of course), it is certainly not your typical American town. If Anchorage is at one end of the Alaskan spectrum, you will definitely find Ketchikan at the other end. This small city contains more totem poles than anywhere in the world, and is set at the base of Deer Mountain. Back in the 1930?s, Ketchikan was fondly known as the salmon-canning capital of the world. While this may no longer be true, the salmon fishing remains outstanding. Just before the beginning of the 20th century, a series of gold discoveries brought vast numbers of immigrants to the area. This created two important industries that strengthened the economy in Ketchikan: commercial fishing and lumber. The region prospered for a while, but suffered an economic depression after the gold dried up, and the immigrants were left with no more than when they came. Many of them left and went to other parts of Alaska where they could find work.

    The city is quite compact and you can see most of it on foot. There are numerous stores that offer unique arts and crafts, jewelry, and other specialty items that are made by hand in Ketchikan. There are great trails for hiking and exploring, and a wide array of outdoor sports and activities is offered as well. A few restaurants will fill you up with hearty, quality food, but your options are definitely limited. While the nightlife and eating facilities are not bustling, it doesn't really matter, because Ketchikan is charming enough that its visitors don't need to be wined and dined. Ketchikan's charm is complemented by Mother Nature, who relies on the intrinsic beauty of the region to captivate tourists.

    Seward - Seward is a fascinating place to visit, and even if you are only here for a day or so, the region demands a look around. Many tourists traveling through Alaska will be familiar with Seward due to its popularity as a central port from which travelers take off to many Alaskan destinations. It is located conveniently in the Prince William Sound and acts as a gateway to the Kenai Peninsula and the rest of Alaska. Therefore, if only for a couple of hours or a couple of days, many people who have visited Alaska have seen Seward at one time or another. Only the lucky ones have visited Seward for days at a time, a region with some outstanding fishing sites, great sea kayaking opportunities, and wonderful hiking trails. The Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the top destinations in all of Alaska, and it is as diverse as it is majestic. You can see a multitude of landscapes, an abundance of wildlife, and breathtaking scenery that you thought only possible in your dreams. Recently, tourism in Seward has exploded, which has come as a bit of a shock to the citizens of this once small town. It's a bit of a mystery why travelers all over the world are showing such universal interest in this remote location, but perhaps Seward business proprietors and visitors like myself have plugged the city so much that our advertising has paid off.

    Seward is one of the oldest cities in Alaska, and the area was first recognized in 1793, when the governor of Russia, Alexander Baranof, stopped here and named Resurrection Bay. He then built a ship which unfortunately sank, and not too much was heard about Seward until 1903. At this time the town evolved into a big Alaskan port city because companies were interested in building a railroad here that would run north and south for miles. This venture failed, but all of the talk brought gold prospectors, settlers, and workers whose families and kin would stay here for good.

    Sitka - Sitka is a small yet lively town in Southeast Alaska that is full of surprises. Just when you think that you have seen all there is to see in this remote city, you stumble upon something that will instantly catch your attention. This is the case for the best restaurants and a few of the premier shopping outlets. They simply spring up out of nowhere, making for an interesting and exciting stay. There are a couple of great museums, and the scuba diving and sea kayaking in Sitka is marvelous. The calm, protected waters make these two sports very popular among both tourists and locals. Much of the land in Sitka is protected, further adding to the glorious experience of touring the city. The Sitka National Historical Park is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or even longer, and the scenery is wonderfully picturesque. The hiking trails are great. In Sitka, your eyes will be opened to one of the top wonders of the world.

    From an historical point of view, Sitka is perhaps the richest city in all of Alaska. The struggles and battles between the native Alaskans and the invading Russians proved to be an incredible story that will never be forgotten by either side. In the 18th century, Russian soldiers enslaved the Aleut people, but it was the Tlingits who came to their aid and battled the Russians. Eventually, many of the Aleuts went free, and the citizens of Sitka were able to maintain their freedom and way of life. Soon after, cultures blended and created a more subtle conflict in the region. In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska and the Russians left the state, but many of their customs remained. Today Sitka is a warm and friendly place, full of aesthetic beauty and fun-filled sites. The inhabitants are typically a happy bunch, and are accustomed to treating tourists with the utmost respect and kindness. The old churches and cathedrals provide a glimpse into the past, and the rich heritage and fascinating sites add to the lure of this culturally diverse town.

    Skagway - Skagway is a Southeast Alaskan paradise, full of culture and brimming with life. Parts of the city seem stuck in 1897, never progressing beyond the height of the Alaskan gold rush era. This is speaking in architectural terms though, as some of the restaurants and shopping facilities offer distinctly 21st century fare. This unique blend of old and new really enhances the atmosphere of Skagway. There is so much to see and so much fascinating history to soak up. The saloons and bars, some of which date back to 1898, are splendid, full of artifacts and local heritage. Because of Skagway's geographic set up, you will want to make sure that your cruise company has made all your traveling arrangements for you. Though Skagway is a small enough town that you can pleasantly travel around it on foot, side trips from Skagway to any of the neighboring cities can prove to be a difficult proposition. For example, the city of Haines is 14 miles away by ferry, but if you try and rent a car and drive to Haines, it is an unbelievable 359-mile trip to get there because of the poor or nonexistent access to roads around Skagway. In any event, lucky for you, downtown Skagway is quite compact and all of the best sights are reachable by foot.

    In 1897, people from all over the world flocked to Skagway in search of a quick fortune. The gold rush gave thousands of men and women false hopes and dreams, and when the riches didn't pan out, the city really declined. By mid-1898, Skagway was not a pleasant place to be, as poverty and shantytowns had pretty much taken over. This bustling town of 200,000 shrank to a mere 700 when the gold rush ended. It took a while, but slowly people began to realize that there was much more to Skagway than an old gold rush town. In the last two decades, tourism has really kept the city afloat, and with the historic cemeteries, interesting museums, fantastic parks, and lively saloons, Skagway has entered the new millennium with a great deal of confidence.

    Valdez - Gorgeous Valdez is set in the picturesque Prince William Sound in Southeast Alaska. It is a region bursting with life and filled with magnificent historical sights and museums. In 1989, an Exxon oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground on the Bligh Reef and lost 11 million gallons of oil in the Prince William Sound. Unfortunately, the Exxon Valdez oil spill still taints the image of Valdez. The entire area was affected; cities, animals, and shoreline suffered. In the years following the spill, tourists began to shy away from Valdez a bit, perhaps from fear of being exposed to harmful fumes or because of other residual effects of the spill. But the $2 billion dollar cleanup operation proved quite effective. The total cleanup took more than three years, and during this time, though tourism declined, the population of the city tripled, because of the thousands of workers hired for the reconstructive work along the shores of the Prince William Sound. On completion of the cleanup project, many of the workers who had temporarily moved to Valdez stayed after falling in love with this beautiful town. Since the early 1990?s, tourism has really come back strong in Valdez. Its resurgence is partly due to the great fishing, exceptional hiking trials, and the fact that more snow falls in Valdez than anywhere in Alaska, making for great skiing. The average annual snowfall is an unbelievable 330 inches. The campsites are simple but wonderful, and the scenery is spectacular.

    Downtown Valdez is lively in a uniquely Alaskan way. The absence of clubs and casinos is offset by the area's relaxing atmosphere, wonderful weather, and breathtaking scenery. Valdez is a wholesome, old-fashioned town with happy-go-lucky residents and an exquisite landscape that combine to offer visitors a memorable time.

    Information Taken From CLIA

    More Information About Cruises To Alaska

    Posted by Denise at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

    December 30, 2004

    ALASKA With Cruise West

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    This is Your Year For Alaska

    Alaska. The very name means Great Land. And within her borders, encompassing more than half a million square miles, lies a world so vast, so wild, so rich, that you can visit a hundred times and never grasp her scope.

    From the deep fjords and hidden coves of the Inside Passage, to the towering peaks of Denali National Park, this is a land of extremes. Majestic mountains. Thundering glaciers. Ancient cultures. Picturesque ports. Vast, sweeping tundra.

    Small-ship voyages on Cruise West will share Alaska's secret with you. You'll dance with native children . . . thrill to the crash of calving glaciers . . let your spirits rise with soaring eagles. Each of their eight distinctive Alaska voyages offers unique insights, from the whales in the Inside Passage to the seal and bird rookeries of the Aleutians.

    To know all of Alaska is a lifelong journey. To experience the best of Alaska's wonders is the gift of your Cruise West voyage. Begin your adventure now!

    DID YOU KNOW . . .

    • That Alaska has more space and fewer people than any of the other 49 states in the U.S. 656,425 square miles and 648,818 people (less than one person per square mile). Compare that to New York: only 47,214 square miles and more than 19 million people (more than 400 people per square mile!).

    • That nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.

    • That 17 of the North America's 20 highest mountains are located in Alaska.

    • That Alaska extends across four time zones, a distance equal to the span from Maine to Washington.

    • That U.S. Secetary of State William H. Seward purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for less than two cents an acre.

    • That the brown bears found along Alaska's coast are the largest living carnivorous land mammals in the world.

    • That Alaska's waters are home to 17 species of whales: including Pacific gray, humpback, beluga, bowhead, and minke.

    View more information about Alaska Cruises and Cruisetours!

    Taken From Cruise West's 2005 Alaska Brochure

    Posted by Denise at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

    December 28, 2004

    Romantic Wedding Packages

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    ROMANTIC SHIPBOARD AND SHORESIDE WEDDING PACKAGES ABOARD NEW CARNIVAL VALOR

    MIAMI ‚?? Carnival Cruise Lines‚?? new Carnival Valor will offer a variety of all-inclusive and affordable wedding packages for couples seeking a romantic, unforgettable way to begin their lives together.

    Carnival Valor‚??s wedding packages will feature a shipboard ceremony during embarkation day or at various on-island locations in the eastern and western Caribbean. Wedding vows renewal packages are also available. The wedding and vows renewal packages are part of the line‚??s popular fleetwide wedding program, which is expected to host 2,200 couples in 2005.

    Shipboard wedding options include the popular ‚??Just for the Bride & Groom‚?Ě package, which starts at $750 and includes an official civil ceremony, a champagne toast with keepsake flutes, flowers for both bride and groom, a wedding cake with cake topper, pre-recorded wedding music, a decorated bridal aisle and photographic services.

    The more elaborate ‚??Welcome Aboard‚?Ě package starts at $1,350 and offers all the amenities of ‚??Just for the Bride & Groom‚?Ě as well as a reception with one-hour open bar and hot-and-cold hors d‚??oeuvres, a traditional two-tiered wedding cake and coffee service. Couples may also select the ‚??Deluxe Romance‚?Ě package, which includes a one-and-a-half hour reception and an ice carving, as well as all the features of the other programs. Prices for this package begin at $1,450.

    Also available is the ‚??Ceremony and Wedding Luncheon,‚?Ě which includes the amenities offered in the ‚??Just for the Bride and Groom‚?Ě package, as well as a full-service luncheon in the ship‚??s main dining room. The package includes a five-course meal, wine, champagne and other beverages. Prices begin at $1,050.

    Shoreside ceremonies combining a variety of all-inclusive amenities with a romantic tropical setting are also available in St. Thomas on eastern Caribbean cruises and Grand Cayman and Cozumel on the western route.

    A wide variety of options such as videography services, live music and tuxedo rental are also available at additional cost.

    Carnival Valor is slated to enter service from Miami Dec. 15, 2004 with a special two-day introductory voyage to Nassau, The Bahamas. The ship is scheduled to begin year-round seven-day service from Miami Dec. 19, operating alternating week-long voyages to the eastern and western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean cruises call at Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, while western Caribbean cruises visit Belize City, Belize; Isla Roatan, Honduras; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

    Press Release By Carnival

    Additional information about Alaska Cruises
    Additional information about Tahiti Cruises
    Additional information about Mexico Cruises

    Posted by Denise at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

    December 21, 2004

    LORETO, Mexico

    LORETO

    Loreto is tucked away on the coast of Baja California peninsula. It is a village unspoiled. Surrounded by craggy mountains and the beautiful deep blue Sea of Cortez. It's the perfect getaway for those looking to truly get away from it all!

    Loreto is three centuries old. It's a thriving town, steeped in history and stepping boldly into the future. This area is the birthplace of the Californias. It was the starting point for the trail of missions that extends north over a thousand miles. Plus, it's home to the brandnew seaside community of The Villages of Loreto Bay.

    This community is located just 10 minutes down the beach in Nopolo. Offering a pedestrian-friendly environment with custom-built beachfront and golf courses villas, condos, courtyard casita homes, hill town and hacienda properties...all inspired by Spanish Colonial architecture.

    Sport fishing is the main draw in Loreto and you can try your luck at catching some yellowtail, dorado, marlin or sailfish.

    There's so much to do in Loreto. Golfers can tee off with the Sea of Cortez in the background at the Fonatur Golf Course. Charming shopping is offered with excellent restaurants, quaint plazas and topiary arches. The rugged Sierra La Giganta mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for the quaint fishing village and are also ideal for hiking and mountain biking. But, the greatest charms of Loreto lies in the Sea or Cortez. This pristine sea is the prime destination for divers, fishermen, eco-tourists and whale watchers! Go sailing, waterskiing or windsurfing or check out some of Mexico's finest tennis courts.

    Information about Alaska Cruises
    Information about Tahiti Cruises
    Information about Mexico Cruises

    Posted by Denise at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

    December 14, 2004

    ALASKA LAND PACKAGE

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    ALASKA LAND PACKAGE

    In early September I travelled by land from Fairbanks to Denali and then on to Anchorage. It was a 5 night land tour escorted and packaged by Princess Tours (aka Princess Cruises).

    I can not say enough about the weather we received on the land portion. It was the first week of September and it was sunny almost everyday. Plus, it was Alaska's fall and so the leaves were changing colours. Flying into Anchorage I viewed beautiful greens, red and yellows!

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    I really recommend taking the flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks (or reverse). It offers an excellent view of Mt. McKinley! It looks so big peeking through the clouds as we flew by. You don't notice how high it really is viewing it on land because it is surrounded by many other mountains quite large as well.

    Travelling with Princess Cruises on land in Alaska was fabulous. I stayed 2 nights in Fairbanks at the Fairbanks Princess Hotel, 2 nights at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and 1 night in Anchorage, at the Captain Cook Hotel.

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    Spending 2 nights in Fairbanks is the way to go. This gives you one full day to take both of the tours (Riverboat Discovery Cruise & El Dorado Gold Mine Tour). The Riverboat Cruise was nice, but very long...I was shocked that 900 people fit on this paddlewheeler and it was full!

    No matter how many nights you spend at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge or the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge a tour of Denali National Park is included. We took the 3 hour Natural History Tour. It takes you into Denali National Park where you learn about the flora and fauna. Wildlife is not always spotted on this tour, but the day we were there we saw dall sheep, moose and had a clear view of Mt McKinley.

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    If you want to spend more time in Denali National Park a longer 6 to 7 hour tour is also available. It is called the Tundra Wildlife Search and takes you much further into the park with a better opportunity to view wildlife.

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    The Midnight Sun Express Ultra Dome Railcars (Train) is fabulous. The dome windows are huge...much larger than Holland America's. Their wilderness lodges were excellent, especially the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. When we arrived the sun was shining and we had a clear view of Mt. McKinley...this is the closest lodge facing Mt. McKinley (Princess built the road to the lodge!). The hotels and lodges Princess uses are excellent and truly first class.

    I felt there were more tours/activities offered from this lodge and they were more nature-oriented. During my two-night stay at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge I took a jet-boat safari cruise (where we saw bald eagles) took at Kayaking trip on a lake nearby (where I saw a beaver up-close) and went horse-back riding on nature trails (this I'd recommend for more experienced riders as the trails are hilly and sometimes hard to maneuver.

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    The restaurants in their hotels and lodges are much similar to what you can expect on board one of their ships. Lots of selection from casual to fine dining. It's great.

    The only thing I didn't like was that by the end of the 5 nights I didn't want to see another bus again! We bused to and from hotels, were taken on buses for the tours, etc. I was sure glad we took the train from Fairbanks to Denali and then again to Anchorage and would highly recommend taking the train as much as possible. Its the perfect way to see this great land!

    Written By Denise Blackmore, ACC

    Additional information about Alaska Cruises and Land Tour Packages are available through our website:
    www.Cruising2Alaska.com

    Posted by Denise at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

    December 06, 2004

    HALF MOON CAY

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    The highest rated port of call on Holland America Line‚??s Caribbean itineraries, Half Moon Cay is located on 55 acres of the 2,400-acre Little San Salvador Island, an international bird sanctuary in the Bahamas. The island paradise is accessible only to guests of Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises. It is a destination on most Caribbean itineraries and on Panama Canal cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. For the past five years, Half Moon Cay has won the annual Editor-in-Chief Award for "Best Private Island" from Porthole Cruise Magazine.

    "Our goal with Half Moon Cay is to provide our guests with the very best Caribbean private island experience," said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Holland America Line. "And now we‚??re proud to offer guests several new activities that deliver a sense of exploration, discovery and adventure that help bring our exclusive, unforgettable destination to life."

    The cruise line worked directly with the Bahamian government to ensure that new facilities were designed to minimize their environmental impact and preserve this island paradise in a manner consistent with its natural beauty. As a result, Half Moon Cay is listed with the Bahamian National Trust as a site of environmentally sustainable tourism.

    New Excursions Provide More Ways to Enjoy Island Paradise

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    Horseback Riding by Land and Sea
    The new Horseback Riding by Land and Sea excursion provides guests an unforgettable way to explore the island‚??s natural beauty and experience the thrill of riding a horse while it swims in the ocean. Guests travel by tram to a corral where they receive a brief orientation before saddling up on these specially-trained horses. Winding trails, accessible only on horseback, lead to a panoramic vista at one of the highest points in the Bahamas, overlooking the breathtaking shores of Half Moon Cay and the surrounding islands. During the ride, guides share insight into Bahamian history, people and culture. Once back at the corral, horses are "dressed" for swimming in special saddle pad and halter. Riders then venture into the ocean for the amazing experience of riding a horse while it's swimming.

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    Stingray Adventure
    For those who prefer to get a closer look at the incredible sea life, the new Stingray Adventure offers guests the opportunity to swim or snorkel with these gentle and mysterious creatures in a secluded cove, which is part of a beautiful 700-acre lagoon. The program starts with a fascinating session from an expert lecturer on the Southern Stingrays and some of the other marine life living in the lagoon. Guests learn about the habits, behavior, feeding and breeding of these amazing creatures. Under the direction of guides, guests get the chance to interact with the stingrays, touching their silky wings and, if they wish, hand feeding the beautiful stingrays.

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    AquaTrax Watercraft Adventure
    The new AquaTrax Watercraft Adventure allows guests to experience Half Moon Cay from the natural inner saltwater lagoon aboard a personal watercraft. The guided tour takes guests along the island‚??s picturesque shoreline, navigating around natural reef formations, inlets, islands and sand spits; with interesting stops at the tidal outlet, the Bahamian village and Stingray Cove. A highlight of the adventure is a buoyed course that allows guests to test their watercraft skills.

    Holland America Line has carefully selected special four-stroke watercraft machines for this excursion that have low emissions and consume 50 percent less fuel than two-stroke machines. Additionally, the course is located near an area of the beach that is away from the island‚??s other activities.

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    Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park Opens November 21
    The new Half Moon Lagoon aqua park, opening November 21, is conveniently located on the shore of Half Moon Cay‚??s main beach and provides island-themed action and adventure in the sun. Guests of all ages can have fun climbing on 21 large water "toys" in the shapes of marine life such as whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins. A pirate ship in the aqua park shoots water from cannons to the delight of children and adults alike. Floating pads offer a relaxing way to enjoy the sun or the cooling "raindrops" from a fountain. A boardwalk leads guests to a large sundeck and the palapa-covered Half Moon Saloon, where, following some refreshments, guests can use a slide to get right back into the water.

    Other features for guests to enjoy on Half Moon Cay include an aqua-sports center, a fully-equipped Club HAL children's playground, beach chairs, volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball, a network of nature trails and a designated wild bird reserve. Guests can also rent an air-conditioned, private beach-front cabana for the day, have a beachside massage, and then enjoy traditional barbecue fare.

    For further information and brochures visit one of our websites:
    www.Cruising2Mexico.com
    www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
    www.Cruising2Alaska.com

    Posted by Denise at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

    November 26, 2004

    Savour the Caribbean with Celebrity Cruises

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    Savour the Caribbean with Celebrity Cruises and Bon Appetit!

    Beginning February 6, 2005 you can indulge in a one-of-a-kind culinary experience at sea with our second annual Savor the Caribbean cruise series. Choose from eight, 7-night Caribbean cruises, all departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. and each giving you a mouthwatering taste of the islands.

    Your sailing includes onboard demonstrations by acclaimed chefs, culinary lectures by noted experts, regional rum tastings sponsored by Bacardi, a Savor the Caribbean cookbook keepsake filled with the delectable recipes of our acclaimed chefs, and tours to gastronomic treasures at exotic ports of call, including Casa de Campo (Dominican Republic), San Juan, St. Thomas, and Nassau.

    So come join us aboard Millennium, ranked among the top 10 ships in Cond√© Nast Traveler‚??s annual ‚??Best Cruise Ships in the World‚?Ě survey of 2004, and bring your appetite for the finer things in life.

    We're serving up island fare aboard each of our 2005 Savor the Caribbean sailings and we've set a place just for you. Take part in cooking demonstrations and cuisine lectures while taking advantage of the aromatic ingredients the Caribbean offers. Your hosts include renowned aficionados on food, Caribbean culture and history. You‚??ll even have the opportunity to taste the cuisine that has made our chefs famous.

    Make sure you sail with your favorite chef!

    Allen Susser
    Chef Allen‚??s
    The James Beard Foundation has named him Best Chef: Southeast. And his namesake eatery, Chef Allen‚??s in South Florida, has recently been touted as the best restaurant south of New York City.

    Carmen Gonzalez
    Carmen the Restaurant
    Carmen Gonzalez is a veteran chef and celebrated culinary artist who has been in the food arena of over 20 years. She is the chef and owner of Carmen the Restaurant, which was named "one of the best new restaurants in America" by Esquire magazine in 2003.

    Robbin Haas
    Chispa
    Robbin Haas is a trendsetter in Miami‚??s fine dining scene. His use of locally procured products allows him to preserve the culinary heritage of the region while further establishing his position as one of the founding fathers of New World Cuisine.

    Jessica B. Harris
    Author
    A culinary historian, Jessica B. Harris has written eight acclaimed cookbooks and lectured extensively on Caribbean and African-American culture and foods throughout the country. Her newest book, "On the Side," will be available September 2004.

    The List of Dates include:

    February 6 ‚?? February 13, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Carmen Gonzalez

    February 13 ‚?? February 20, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Jessica B. Harris

    February 20 ‚?? February 27, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Roberto Trevino
    Edgar Leal

    February 27 ‚?? March 6, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Robbin Haas
    Brian Katz

    March 6 ‚?? March 13, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Allen Susser
    Oliver Saucy

    March 13 ‚?? March 20, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Cindy Hutson
    Frank Randazzo
    Andrea Curto-Randazzo

    March 20 ‚?? March 27, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Mark Militello
    Wilo Benet

    March 27 ‚?? April 3, 2005
    Featured Chefs:
    Tim Andriola

    For further information and brochures visit one of our websites:
    www.Cruising2Mexico.com
    www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
    www.Cruising2Alaska.com

    Posted by Denise at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

    November 12, 2004

    NEW Norwegian Jewel Cruising Europe in 2005

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    Norwegian Jewel Sails to the Mediterranean, Baltic Capitals before Homeporting in Miami

    Miami ‚?? Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced Norwegian Jewel will be delivered on August 5, 2005 from the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany and will offer two European sailings before heading to the U.S. to begin her Homeland Cruising program. After inaugural festivities in New York and a series of 11-day Canada and New England cruises, Norwegian Jewel will homeport in Miami and feature an Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary throughout the winter season.

    On August 10, 2005 Norwegian Jewel will feature a Mediterranean Treasures itinerary from London (Dover), calling on Lisbon, Portugal; Gibraltar, UK; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; Cannes, Frances and Barcelona and Almeria, Spain. Then on August 23, the ship will sail to the Baltic Capitals from London (Dover) sailing to Oslo, Norway; Helsinki, Finland; spending the night in St. Petersburg, Russia before sailing to Stockholm, Sweden; Berlin (Warnemunde) Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark before repositioning from London to New York. The transatlantic cruise, called Path of the Vikings, departs Dover on September 4, 2005 and stops in Cobh, Ireland; Reykjavik, Iceland; St. John's, Newfoundland and Newport, Rhode Island before arriving in New York on September 14, 2005.

    Prices start from $2599 for an inside cabin and $2899 for an outside cabin on the August 10th sail date and $2499 (inside) and $2799 (outside) for the August 23rd sail date. Transatlantic crossing prices start from $899 (inside) and $1099 (outside).

    Beginning September 18, 2005, the ship will sail a series of 11-day Canada/New England Cruises roundtrip from New York. The itinerary features calls in Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; cruise Cabot Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence; Quebec City, Quebec; cruise the Saguenay River, Sydney, Nova Scotia; cruise Bay of Fundy and St. John, New Brunswick. Prices start from $1349 for an inside and $1549 for an outside cabin.

    After transitioning from New York to Miami, where the ship will be spending her winter season, Norwegian Jewel will begin her regularly scheduled, seven-day itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean sailings call in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. John's, Antigua; St. Thomas, USVI and NCL's Private Island, Great Stirrup Cay. Western Caribbean itineraries will call at Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Roatan, Bay Islands. Norwegian Jewel will feature these itineraries each Sunday from November 4, 2005 through April 23, 2006. Prices for the Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries start from $599 (inside) and $799 (outside). Vacationers can call their travel agent or NCL at 800-327-7030 to make reservations.

    The 92,000-ton Norwegian Jewel will be the company's fourth purpose-built ship for Freestyle Cruising and will feature 10 restaurants, dynamic public rooms, the most innovative and luxurious range of suites at sea, including two Garden Villas and a brand new style of accommodations - the addition of 10 courtyard villas with a private courtyard and sundeck on deck 14. Owner's suite guests and both courtyard and garden villa guests will have a concierge lounge available to them. Dedicated butlers will offer continental breakfast, refreshments all day and canapés and drinks before dinner.

    A Sparkling Lineup of Dining Options:
    Like her sisters, Norwegian Jewel will feature 10 restaurants including guest favorite alternatives such as Cagney's Steak House, Blue Lagoon and NCL's signature restaurant, Le Bistro. In addition, Norwegian Jewel will also feature two main restaurants (Tsar's Palace and Azura), a casual Italian eatery called Mamma's Italian Kitchen; Tango's a Latin restaurant featuring tapas and Chin Chin, an Asian complex featuring Thai, Japanese and Chinese food as well as a sushi bar and a Teppanyaki room offering guests an interactive Japanese dining experience where food is prepared in front of guests. Like Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn seven of the 10 restaurants aboard Norwegian Jewel are included in the fare with the three alternative restaurants charging a small cover charge.

    The ship will also include a new concept for NCL - a "Bar Central" -- featuring Shakers Martini and Cocktail Bar; Magnum's Champagne and Wine Bar and Maltings Beer and Whiskey Pub.

    In addition to Bar Central, Norwegian Jewel will feature the Sky High Bar, an outdoor beer garden and "Fyzz" Cabaret Lounge, featuring three private Karaoke rooms.

    Gold-Standard Accommodations:
    Norwegian Jewel will offer an extensive choice of cabins. In fact, while Norwegian Jewel is modeled after Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn, NCL has increased the number of cabins from 1112 on Norwegian Dawn to 1188 on Norwegian Jewel, including the addition of 10 courtyard villas sharing a private courtyard, complete with swimming pool, Jacuzzi and a small gym. These suites also share a private sundeck with large two-person sun beds and hammocks. Positioned high atop the vessel, these suites tout sweeping views of the ocean and an impressive assortment of amenities usually found only at five-star land-based resorts.

    Continuing the focus on outstanding accommodations for families, the ship also offers a large number of cabins (including balcony staterooms, suites and junior-suites) that can interconnect to create a two, three, four or five bedroom area suitable for families of all sizes.

    Amenities That Sparkle:
    Norwegian Jewel will feature the latest in relaxation and fitness at the contemporary South Pacific-themed Bora Bora Health Spa and Beauty Salon operated by Mandara Spa.

    Norwegian Jewel will offer a new, advanced Internet Café and Photo Gallery with kiosks to print photos from digital cameras as well as the latest laptops, which guests can rent to use around the ship. The ship will also feature NCL's signature WiFi and cell phone service.

    The Sports Deck will contain a basketball, volleyball and tennis court, while the Body Waves Fitness Center will boast state-of-the-art cardiovascular workout equipment - each with its own TV -- aerobic and yoga area with a sprung wooden floor, steam and sauna rooms, a jet-current exercise pool, an indoor lap pool, whirlpool and hydrotherapy pool. Body waves will be open 24 hours a day.

    The ship will be particularly family-friendly and feature the Splashdown Kid's Club and Sapphire Kid's Pool, a brightly colored facility for children designed with a cute and friendly tropical sea creature theme as well as the Underground Teen's Club.

    For More Information About A Cruise Vacation Visit These Websites:
    Cruising2Mexico.com
    Cruising2Tahiti.com
    Cruising2Panama.com
    Cruising2Alaska.com

    Posted by Denise at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

    November 09, 2004

    PUERTO VALLARTA

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    Exploring A World of Contrast In Puerto Vallarta!

    In Puerto Vallarta, the sun shines an average of 340 days per year. Which comes as no surprise since this picturesque town is, by all accounts, paradise. After all Puerto Vallarta rests peacefully on the white, sandy shores of the Bay of Banderas, one of the world's largest bays, and boasts the breathtaking Sierra Madre mountains as its backdrop. Dolphins are found in the bay year-round, and humpback whales may even be spotted between November and March.

    While the setting alone is enough to make Puerto Vallarta a favourite destination among guests, the town - settled by a group of farmers and fisherman in 1850 - also has quite a historic charm. Here, narrow cobblestone streets wind past colonial buildings. Local artists showcase textiles and native crafts. White adobe houses with red-tiled roofs display bright flowers in fuchsia and gold.

    What's interesting, however, is that despite its many charms, Puerto Vallarta might have remained a sleepy fishing village for years to come - were it not for one extraordinary occurrence: In 1963, director John Hutson chose it as the location for The Night of the Iguana, a film starring Richard Burton.

    The off-screen romance that blossomed between the lead actor and Elizabeth Taylor made international headlines, putting Puerto Vallarta on the map and earning it an instant reputation for tropical romance and exquisite beauty.

    The town, of course, far exceeded the expectations of the visitors who soon arrived. Many celebrities even decided to call it home, building spectacular mansions on the cliffs overlooking the bay. Soon, fine art galleries, gourmet restaurants, five-star hotels, and world-class golf courses followed, bringing a wonderful touch of the new to a city rich in history.

    In just a few short years, Puerto Vallarta had become something truly unique: a beautiful collage of all things past and present. Even today, this gorgeous seaside city continues to delight guests with this intermingling of old and new.

    Here, simplicity meets luxury. History meets modernity. And even the most discerning of travelers find a vacation experience that delights all the senses - an experience that is altogether sublime.

    For More Information About A Mexico Cruise Vacation Click here

    Posted by Denise at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

    November 02, 2004

    French Polynesia

    diamondprincess.jpg

    Paradise‚?¶ closer than you think!

    When I picture paradise in my dreams I think of crystal-clear blue waters, long sandy beaches, and a warm tropical breeze drifting over me as I let my cares float away. After arriving in Tahiti and exploring the other islands of French Polynesia, I realized these islands have all that and much, much more!

    Land Rover based 4x4 safaris through the jungle, snorkeling, diving, sailing, hiking, biking, para-sailing, and a stay in an overwater bungalow are but a few of the many activities you can experience in French Polynesia. French Polynesia consists of five island groups with 118 fabulous islands, each with its own special character.

    There are a myriad of ways to explore the islands. You can rent your own private yacht, take a slow working-barge, sail aboard a luxury cruise ship, or stay in an ultra-private overwater bungalow. One of the best ways to visit these idyllic islands is by cruise ship. These all-inclusive trips offer some of the best sites in Tahiti at a tremendous value. Island-hopping travel, gourmet dining, entertainment and your accommodations are all included at prices far lower than you could make similar arrangements on land. Great value for paradise!

    Tahiti and her islands are a place for relaxation, adventure and of course romance. I can personally attest to this as I became engaged on Bora Bora in 2003! The islands of Tahiti are only 7-¬Ĺ hours from Los Angeles ‚?¶ making paradise closer than you think!

    Written By Denise Blackmore
    For More Information About A Tahitian Cruise Visit My Website

    Posted by Denise at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

    October 25, 2004

    Baja Mexico

    Wet, Wild And Woolly
    Unbelievable Encounters In Baja And Beyond!

    You may not believe it, but it's true. There is a place only 22 miles from Los Angeles with almost as many buffalo as automobiles. There is a hidden cave on the Gold Coast that spouts water 80 feet into the air. And yes, there is a way to feel like a new you in less than a week. Hard to imagine? Take a 4-night Baja Mexico cruise vacation and we'll make you a believer.

    Your transformation begins aboard Monarch of the Seas in Los Angeles. From there, you'll stop in San Diego, CA and then sail straight to beautiful Santa Catalina Island.

    Not your ordinary island, three-quarters of Catalina is undeveloped. But the surrounding waters of this Mediterranean-esque island are generously populated. Snorkel, five, or hop in a semisubmersible. However you choose to do it, get in the water. There's a colourful case of characters to spot. Giant purple sea urchins, black-eyed gobies, bright yellow garibaldi, and the list goes on and on.

    Prefer dry land? Take a Catalina Inland Motor Tour. The island's heartland is a 42,000-acre nature preserve, overflowing with wildlife and flora. And no, you haven't been sitting in the sun too long. Those are actual buffalo roaming the valleys. Brought to Catalina in 1924 for the filming of "The Vanishing American", a herd of about 200 happily inhabit the island today.

    From Catalina you'll sail on to Ensenada, Mexico. With its rugged mountains and beautiful soft-sand beaches, you'll have an array of activities to choose from. But if you're feeling extra curious, tour the countryside and uncover the buzz about bajacaliforniano wine. It just so happens that this region produces a number of world-class wintages. So, pay homage to a few vineyards and taste 'til your heart's content. And while you're there, stop by the famous La Bufadora, the world's second-highest marine geyser. With its spouting sprays and tremendous sounds, it's certainly something to experience.

    The wonders of a Baja cruise vacation are so amazing you'll want more than a second glance. You'll want a second trip.

    For More Information About A Mexico Cruise Visit our Website:
    Cruising2Mexico.com

    Taken From The Magazine of the Crown & Anchor Society

    Posted by Denise at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

    October 22, 2004

    San Diego

    Stunning San Diego!
    Home Port To Holland America Line's Newest, Most Spacious Ship In Mexico!

    Much is made of the destinations featured on a cruise, but at Holland America line, we believe that the way it begins is equally important. That's why we've choosen San Diego as the home port for our new ms Oosterdam cruises to Mexico, as well as for other cruises throughout the Pacific. Here you'll find picnic weather and activities galore, from a world-class zoo to historic Old Town. And by skipping the hazy skies and traffic of ports to the north in favor of our pier, located just five minutes from the airport, you'll begin your journey relaxed and carefree, ready to enjoy your spacious ship and stateroom.

    Cruise Mexican waters on the luxurious NEW ms Oosterdam
    The dazzling new Oosterdam is the first Vista-class ship to serve our Mexican Riviera itinerary, sailing 7-day cruises roundtrip out of San Diego. From the Waterford sculpture that graces her atrium to her elegantly appointed Odyssey Restaurant and luxurious Greenhouse Spa & Salon, this ship is a "must" dor discerning travelers.

    The very definition of spacious elegance, the Oosterdam offers you more suites and larger staterooms, a full two-thirds of which have private verandahs - your perfect setting for a sunset toast, brunch alfresco or rejuvenating afternoon nap. And fewer guests mean you spend less time waiting in line and have more room at the rail to enjoy the sights you came to Mexico to see.

    In 2005, Holland America Line will ofer more than 40 sailings to the Mexican Riviera and Sea or Cortez including 7-day itineraries on the Oosterdam. All sailings call at Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula, as well as Puerto Vallarta. Holland America Line is the only premium line to sail the Seas of Cortez, so you get the best of both worlds - exquisite comfort and exceptional opportunities to see the marine life that makes this unique destinations famous.

    The comfort of the Oosterdam. The fabulous beaches, colourful villages and prolific wildlife of Mexico. The concenience of sunny San Diego. You have one unforgettable vacation in store!

    Sail the ms Ryndam: the first ship with all Signature of Excellence enhancements.
    This fall, the 1,258 passenger Ryndam will offer another great way to see the Mexican Riviera or Sea of Cortez in extraordinary comfort. She will be the first ship fully outfitted with all of our Signature Of Excellence enhancements. These include new services such as four dining seatings, verandah concierge service and early embarkation. Luxurious new bedding, towels and massage showerheads in all staterooms. And new onboard enrichment programs.

    New facilities will also make their debut on the Ryndam. For instance, the Greenhouse Spa & Salon will be expanded, offering state-of-the-art treatment rooms, a thermal suite and hydro-pool. A new Explorations Cafe offers an exciting venue for learning about the places you visit with its extensive collection of maps, books and DVDs. There will also be upgraded Kids' Center and Youth Program, with more space and activities designed to provide kids with supervised age-appropriate entertainment choices. Teens will now have their own area in which to socialize and have fun. Last but not least is a new Culinary Arts Theater, which gives food and wine lovers the chance to participate in guest chef presentations, demonstration events and small cooking classes.

    For More Information About A Cruise Visit our Mexico Website:
    Cruising2Mexico.com

    Information Taken From Mariner Magazine

    Posted by Denise at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

    October 06, 2004

    Caribbean Islands Affected By Tropical Storms

    A List Of Caribbean Islands And Their Affects Of The Hurricanes
    A Must Read For Caribbean Cruiser Passengers!

    Anguilla: Not Affected

    Antigua and Barbuda: Not Affected

    Aruba: Some beach erosion but hotels are operating normally.

    Bahamas: Minimal damage in Nassau and Paradise Island. Nassau‚??s Sandals Royal Bahamian and Superclubs Breezes are to reopen in the next two weeks after repairs. Damage on Grand Bahama Island is sever, and majors resorts are closed for repairs.

    Barbados: Four hotels report some property damage.

    Belize: Not Affected

    Bermuda: Not Affected

    Bonaire: Hotels up and running after minimal damage by Ivan.

    British Virgin Islands: Heavy rains and debris cleanup in the wake of Jeanne.

    Cancun: High wind and rain; missed a hit by Ivan.

    Cayman Islands: Grand Caymen Island lodgings report exensive water damage and ruined landscaping. Power outages remain.

    Cozumel: Winds, rain, port closing after being missed by Ivan.

    Cuba: Ivan left wind and water damage on the west coast.

    Curcao: Hotels up and running after minimal damage by Ivan.

    Dominica: Not Affected

    Dominican Republic: Ivan-related flooding in Santo Domingo.

    Grenada: Took a sever hit from Ivan. Extensive damage to 90% of homes and many hotels.

    Guadeloupe: Not Affected

    Haiti: Flooding and many lives taken.

    Jamaica: Most resorts on the popular North Coast (Montego Bay and Ocho Rios) suffered mainly cosmetic damage.

    Martinique: Not Affected

    Nevis & St. Kitts: Rain post-Jeanne.

    Puerto Rico: Flooding, flight cancellations, and power outages as a result of Jeanne.

    St. Barts: Not Affected

    St. Lucia: Hotels and tourist facilities not affected.

    St. Maarten/St. Martin: Not Affected.

    St. Vincent & the Grenadines: No major damage to hotels and tourist facilities, save for Union Island.

    Trinidad and Tobago: No major damage to resorts.

    Turks & Caicos: Water and wind from Hurricane Frances did mainly cosmetic damage.

    U.S. Virgin Islands: Heavy rain, airport closures and power outages as a result of Jeanne.

    As seen in the U.S.A. Today

    For More Information About A Cruise Visit our Websites:
    Cruising2Mexico.com
    Cruising2Tahiti.com
    Cruising2Europe.com

    Posted by Denise at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)