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May 25, 2014

Silversea Cruises - Silver Shadow

SILVER SHADOW REVIEW

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Silversea Cruises is the only privately owned cruise line in the world. This is something they are very proud of. When I boarded the Silver Shadow I was reminded of this by the Cruise Consultant and told after you've sailed on Silversea Cruises the next best thing is heaven. I thought to myself what am I about to see...

I was escorted to view the Suites onboard Silver Shadow. What a place to start! These Suites are the most beautiful I've seen on any ship. The layout, the decor and the amenities were excellent.

The smallest Suite onboard Silver Shadow is a Vista Suite. It is 287 square feet offering a large sitting area with sofa and writing desk, a picture window or floor-to-ceiling windows, queen-size bed (or two twins), walk-in closet and marble bathroom with double sinks, large separate shower and bathtub.

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From there I viewed the Silver Suite. This is a great value because its large enough to entertain and still keep your sleeping area separate from the living area. The Silver Suite is 701 square feet offering a teak veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a living room with sofa bed, two arm chairs, bar and dining table that seats four, queen-size bed that is surrounded by glass doors and curtains that can stay open or be closed when entertaining, CD player, two remote controlled televisions with VCRs and satellite reception, and a marble bathroom. The bathroom in the Silver Suite is very large and separated into two areas; there is a double sink with a separate bathtub & shower and in a secon section there is a toilet with an additional sink. The bathroom in the Silver Suite is great for when you are entertaining guests.

Each Suite onboard Silver Shadow includes Champagne upon arrival and is replenished as you desire. Each suite includes fine bed linens, plus robes and slippers, down pillows, personalized stationery, Bulgari bathroom amenities, walk-in closet with a full-length mirror, in-suite safe, remote controlled TV/VCR with complimentary in-suite movie channels and video rental, hair dryer, beverage cabinet stocked with your selection of wines, spirits and beverages, fresh fruit and flower arrangements, and twice daily suite service with turndown service each evening.

The public areas onboard Silver Shadow are elegant and well maintained. All public areas focus on the views with large windows and lots of glass. Walking around the ship I felt like I was in a five star resort. The service was gracious and friendly. The cuisine was incredible.

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Dining onboard Silver Shadow offers many options. There is in-suite dining on evenings you just want to relax and unwind with a book or a movie. There is La Terrazza offering an excellent selection of Italian cuisine. There is the Pool Bar & Grill offering casual eats next to the pool on deck. There is The Restaurant offering three meals per day on sparkling silver and crystal with international cuisine. And last but definately not least, there is Le Champagne offering a wine tasting menu by Relais & Chateaux - Le Champagne is must one evening of your cruise!

I was impressed with the layout of the Silver Shadow and all of the deck space. Silversea Cruises really wants each guest to enjoy their time onboard and it shows. There are many different activities offered, but with all the choices onboard you can easily just relax as well. The spa is tastefully done and offers a range of treatments. There is a good size library with many items guests can borrow during the cruise.

I hope to return to the Silver Shadow, or any of the Silverseas Cruises fleet, very soon! Addio amico mio!

Click Here To View More Information About Silversea Cruises Alaska Cruises

Written by Denise Blackmore, MCC

Additional information about Alaska cruises are available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2014

Holland America Line - Zaandam

ZAANDAM REVIEW

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In mid July I sailed on Holland America's Zaandam to Alaska with my husband and his parents. We chose the Zaandam for its intimate size (we did not want a mega ship) and the traditional style of cruising for which Holland America is famous. We were looking for a ship that offered comfortable accommodations, classic decor, good food and service, and quiet shipboard life, all of which we found onboard the Zaandam.

Our oceanview stateroom included the newly upgraded mattress, fluffy bathrobes and plush oversized towels. The bathroom also had a tub which is appreciated as most ships on other lines do not offer a tub unless you are in a balcony or suite category. A fruit bowl was replenished as it was consumed but we were disappointed not to find a fridge. Instead a selection of soft drinks and bottled water were placed on the vanity next to the ice bucket.

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The Zaandam exudes classiness with cozy public rooms adorned with antiques and historical artworks, spectacular fresh flower arrangements at every corner, wraparound promenade deck with teak loungers, and quiet corners to chat with friends or watch the passing seas. Food and service in the Rotterdam dining room was superb. Each menu had a wide choice catering to all taste buds. A nice touch is the Indonesian dishes that are offered at a few dinners and lunches, allowing guests to try different flavours. By the second night all of us were sold on the complimentary cappuccinos after dinner and soon our assistant waiter brought them to us without having to ask. We also dined at the Pinnacle Grill which was superb in its sterling beef selection and a variety of seafood and rack of lamb. There is a cover charge of $20 but on the first night it is offered at half price and once more in the middle of the cruise. It is well worth the price for an excellent meal.

Onboard staff is friendly and smiles are everywhere, however many have minimal fluency in English and if anything out of the ordinary was asked for, it often received confused looks and not carried out properly. In 3 different lounges my father in-law ordered a single malt scotch which he asked for water to be brought in a separate glass (so he can add it himself) and all 3 times the scotch arrived in different glassware (once in a sherry glass and once in a tall glass with a straw!). It was clear that they did not understand what he wanted because he did not order a regular scotch on the rocks.

This being an Alaska cruise, daily activities was kept to a minimum so that guests can enjoy the scenery and shore side visits. On sea days as well as in Glacier Bay National Park, naturalists provided commentary on the wildlife and landscape. Each evening after dinner we had a chance to listen to various musicians and danced in the lounges. We noticed however, that if a production show was in progress all other entertainment venues shut down, so it forced guests to watch the shows, which unfortunately were not all that great. The headline singers were not the best we have heard, and the productions seemed very hokey. But Holland America was never known for its entertainment so we were not surprised. The performance that got the best reviews was the Crew Show in which the Indonesian and Filipino crew donned traditional costumes and performed their countries song and dance.

One element which we did not expect onboard a Holland America ship was the number of announcements. Especially annoying were the calls to bingo every day. As you are out on deck enjoying the spectacular glaciers or whale watching, the PA comes alive with The Bingo Cash King calling you to the latest jackpot game. As well in the afternoons we had to endure the Cruise Director's announcements on what activities are happening onboard today. We commented in our guest questionnaire to let the daily newspaper do its job rather than filling the air with announcements. Announcements may be more acceptable in the Caribbean or on a more casual party ship but on a classy vessel in the serene landscape of Alaska it just is out of place.

We must praise Holland America for its efforts in keeping guests from catching or spreading the dreadful gastrointestinal germs that have plagued many ships. At embarkation each guest had to pass by a disinfectant dispenser which sanitized your hands. At the start of the buffet line a steward hands out a disinfectant wipe as you collected your tray, and upon returning to the ship from ashore, a disinfectant dispenser is set up at the gangway and a steward ensured you washed your hands before continuing on.

Holland America continues to attract loyal guests who favour the olden days of cruising onboard classic ships. Because of its traditional style, onboard ambiance and decor, it attracts an older clientele which in turn brings about a quieter shipboard life. Nightlife is subdued especially in Alaska as most people are active during the day. So after dinner they go to the show, maybe a couple of dances, and are off to bed by 11pm. So don't expect the disco to be going on til the wee hours. If you are looking for a quiet relaxing vacation a Holland America cruise will be perfect for you.

Click Here To View More Information About Holland America Line Alaska Cruises

Written By a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com

Additional information about Alaska cruises are available through our website:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

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

May 04, 2014

Norwegian Cruise Line - Norwegian Sun

NORWEGIAN SUN REVIEW

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We picked Norwegian Cruise Line for our group as it seemed to be good value for a 7 day Inside Passage to Alaska and suited the price range for most people in the group, majority of whom had not cruised before.

Dining
With 9 restaurants onboard, it provides a variety of dining experience ranging from sushi and teppanyaki to French as well as fine Italian cuisine. The Specialty restaurants are Ginza - Teppanyaki & Sushi Bar (A la Carte pricing). I personally recommend the Teppanyaki and a reservation would be required as it only takes 10 at one sitting.
East Meets West - Asian Fusion cuisine (cover charge of $15).
Il Adagio - Fine Italian cuisine (cover charge of $12.50).
Le Bistro - French cuisine (cover charge of $15; also highly recommended).
For the health and weight conscious guests there is also Pacific Heights Restaurant (no cover charge) which serves light cooking food mainly pasta and a variety of salads.
The main dining rooms are Four Seasons and Seven Seas with equally attentive waitresses and waiters providing excellent service.
Buffet food is served in the Garden Cafe with a wide selection of salads, main courses, and desserts. There are also cooking stations that would provide guests with food cooked to their liking. Available also is the pizza bar, ice-cream bar and tapas bar. Sprinkles ice-cream is free but Hagen Daz may be purchased if required.

Onboard activities
The gymnasium, internet cafes and video arcades are open 24 hours daily. Mandra Spa along with sauna and steam facilities are open from noon till 11:00pm.
There are only 4 hot tubs and I found that this can get crowded quite quickly at busy times and the hot tubs are fairly small. The swimming pools are uncovered and are fine for nice days but can be a bit cool when it is slightly windy. There seem to be sufficient deck chairs on the pool deck for guests.
Other activities include cha-cha dance class (very popular), aerobics (including step and cardiodance), art auction, bingo, bridge play, cooking demonstrations, lecture seminars, karaoke (also popular), movies, scrabble, wine tasting, backgammon, treasure hunts, chocoholic buffet, BBQ parties on pool deck and ping-pong, basketball and volleyball. Children's activities are extensive and seem to be popular. There is also a party organized for them on the last night of the cruise whereby they have dinner together.

Stateroom
We were in a Mini-Suite Category AE with a king-size bed and a sofa bed which converts to queen size bed with privacy curtains. Decor is pleasant with mainly blue and yellow theme. The suite is on Deck 11 at the front of the ship. The balcony has a view of both sides but can be slightly breezy on some days. There are 2 desks, 1 television and fridge, and 4 deck chairs on the balcony.

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Amenities in the room include a bottle of champagne, and a bowl of fresh fruits which was replenished daily, coffee/tea making facility and also concierge services. In the bathroom is a walk-in closet, dressing table and chair, bath (with shower), marble top sink, and separate toilet. There are two cotton bathrobes, (not toweling robes) for use and also hairdryer.

For breakfast, the room service menu is slightly limited as there are no cooked food such as omelettes, eggs, pancakes or waffles. The menu consist of muffins, Danish pastries, variety of fresh fruits including fruit compote, yogurt, toasts, and beverages such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and fruit juices.

Garden Cafe where the buffet is served can be crowded at peak times and sometimes difficult to get a table. You can however get the food and then walk across to Pacific Heights where it is much quieter (but there is no coffee or tea served here), or sit outside when the weather is nice.

Entertainment
Nightly entertainment is presented mainly by The Jean-Ann Ryan Company in the Stardust Lounge (main theater). On the first night there was only one show at 9:00pm. For the rest of the week there were two shows nightly at 7:30pm and 9:30 pm. As well as the main production, there are comedy game shows throughout the week in Dazzles lounge. Captain's welcome party was on the first day at sea (Monday night) for an hour with champagne served at the atrium.

What I loved about the cruise is the variety of dining experiences it offered. Freestyle dining whether in the main dining rooms or in the specialty restaurants provide so much choice and the service throughout remain consistent.
What I also like is the option given for disembarkation. You can choose what time you want to leave, be it earlier or later. We picked approximately 10:30am and therefore managed to have a nice leisurely breakfast before leaving.
What could be improved is the emergency lifeboat drill. It was held at 5:00pm (before ship sailed) and went on for slightly longer than necessary, (not so on other ships) and most guests were getting quite uncomfortable at the long procedure involved.

Click Here To View More Information About Norwegian Cruise Line Alaska Cruises

Written By a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com

Additional information about Alaska cruises are available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

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

January 19, 2012

An Updated Sapphire Princess

Sapphire Princess Enters Drydock

Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess entered drydock this past week in Victoria, British Columbia. The ship has begun a dramatic overhaul that will last four weeks.

The Sapphire Princess is planned to re-enter service on February 4th, 2012 with some new features. A new Piazza atrium with International Cafe, Vine's Wine Bar and Alfredo's Pizzeria. On the top deck of the ship located at the swimming pool with be a brand new Movies Under The Stars screen. This is a popular area where guests can view new released movies on a large screen while at sea. The ship will also have a Sanctuary, adults-only relaxation area.

These new features are being added to many of Princess Cruises ships so passengers on can sail on any Princess ship and have that feeling of comfort and familar. Below are more specifics on each brand new area of Sapphire Princess.

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New Piazza Atrium - The ship's atrium space will be redesigned to include this signature Princess feature -- a European-inspired social hub of the ship combining always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. The Piazza will feature the International Cafe for pastries, fresh panini sandwiches, salads, fresh-baked cookies and a variety of coffee drinks. Passengers will also enjoy a new Vines wine bar offering a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of tapas and sushi, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.

Alfredo's Pizzeria - Introduced last year aboard Grand Princess, Alfredo's will expand to its second location on Sapphire Princess. The sit-down pizzeria serves up an enticing menu of freshly prepared, hand-stretched, individual-size pizzas. Named for the line's master executive chef, Alfredo Marzi, the pizzeria will feature an open kitchen where passengers can watch chefs create their custom-made pies.

Movies Under the Stars - Sapphire Princess will be the final ship to introduce Movies Under the Stars on board. The giant poolside movie screen will showcase feature films, concerts, awards shows and sports events, and passengers can enjoy their viewing on padded loungers under warm, fleece blankets. Complimentary popcorn and other treats enhance the al fresco entertainment experience.

The Sanctuary - Sapphire Princess is also the final ship to receive The Sanctuary, a tranquil retreat exclusively for adults. Added prior to drydock, the new Sanctuary space has already received an enthusiastic welcome from passengers enjoying the enhanced comforts of this peaceful oasis, as Serenity Stewards attend to their every need, offering refreshing beverages, light snacks, pre-loaded MP3 players, and the cooling mist of an Evian atomizer.

I've had the pleasure of cruising on Diamond Princess (sister ship to Sapphire Princess) and touring the Sapphire Princess multiple times while it's been in Vancouver. I really enjoy these ships and the new areas Princess is adding will make them even better.

Come back in a few weeks and I'll show you pictures of the ship after the renovation!

Written by Denise Blackmore, MCC

Sapphire Princess offers Mexican Riviera Cruises in Spring & Fall

Sapphire Princess offers Alaska Cruises in the summer

Posted by Denise at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2012

Celebrity Infinity

Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Infinity - Redone and looking fabulous!

The Celebrity Infinity cruise ship has just entered service after a massive facelift. Celebrity Cruises spent $30 million to update her!

I have sailed on the Celebrity Infinity and it's sister ships numerous times. I am quite familar with how the ship used to look and now seeing these pictures of the facelift it makes me want to cruise again!

The Conservatory at the top of the ship has been transformed into QSine - a new specialty restaurant. I had the pleasure of enjoy this restaurant on Celebrity Eclipse and highly recommend it!

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The Cova Cafe just off the atrium has been transformed into Cafe al Bacio - the place for coffee, tea and more. A hot spot in the mornings and mid-afternoon!

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The Internet Lounge has been completely redone and is now the Martini Bar and Crush - get your shake on! A new Celebrity iLounge with apple computers has also been added to the ship.

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The Champagne Bar was given a facelift and is now the popular Bistro On Five - one of my personal favourites . . . gotta love breakfast all day!

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37 Deluxe Oceanview with Veranda Staterooms on Deck 11 have been transformed into Aqua Class Staterooms. These staterooms receive Concierge Class amenities plus unlimited use of the Persian Gardens at the Aqua Spa. Relaxation taken to a new level, thanks Celebrity Cruises!

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Michael's Club has been refreshed and now includes a selection of 50 different bottled beers. This is a great place to catch a sports game!

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The Solarium, glass enclosed swimming pool area, has also received an update!

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The Celebrity Infinity ship offers Panama Canal Cruises in the spring and fall, Alaska Cruises in the summer, and South America Cruises in the winter! Take a vacation this summer to Alaska on Celebrity Infinity.

Written by Denise Blackmore, MCC

Posted by Denise at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2011

Celebrity Cruises New Ship: Celebrity Reflection

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Celebrity Cruises newest ship is almost ready for bookings! Celebrity Reflection is a ship currently being built and Celebrity Cruises is annoucing bookings available for Captain's Club members today, December 7th, and for the general public December 12th.

With Celebrity Reflection, they will be introducing a whole new level of modern luxury. Say hello to the new Reflection Suite and Signature Suites - both are located in a private area accessible only to guests staying in these suites. If you are a Captain's Club member, you'll have the privilege of booking one of these suites 5 days before they're available to the general public on December 12, 2011!

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The Reflection Suite includes these extraordinary features:

  • First two bedroom in the fleet (accommodates up to six guests)
  • Premium Reverie mattress with the ground-breaking Reverie Dream Sleep System. The iPad and the Reverie remote app act as a remote control that allows guests to easily operate their lights and television in the stateroom, massage features and elevation of the mattress.
  • Sea-view bathroom extending out over the edge of the ship
  • Veranda tub with soothing rain shower
  • Floor-to-ceiling sliding veranda doors to maximize views
  • Corner location with panoramic views
  • Signature Suites feature:

  • Accommodations for up to four guests
  • Premium Reverie mattress with the ground-breaking Reverie Dream Sleep System with Made for iPad technology
  • Higher ceilings than standard suites, with floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize views
  • For more information or to book a cruise contact a Celebrity Five Star Agent at Cruising2Alaska.com #1-800-738-8837.

    View Cruise Specials to Europe with Celebrity Cruises!

    View Cruise Specials to Alaska with Celebrity Cruises!

    Posted by Denise at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

    March 02, 2011

    Oceania Cruises President Comments On 'Taste The Wonderful World'

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    Comments By Bob Binder, President of Oceania Cruises . . .

    Some of my favorite people were signing autographs onboard Marina during her inaugural sailing. As fond as I am of Oceania Cruises' cuisine, you know I must be equally fond of our team of Executive Chefs and Culinary Directors who have made our dream of serving the finest cuisine at sea a reality. I never cease to be amazed and impressed by the creations that emerge from the galleys, where numerous chefs, sous chefs and prep cooks continuously strive to ensure each recipe is executed flawlessly. It is a fascinating process, from the initial concept of an entree in the creative mind of a chef to the final realization of the chef's vision.

    In fact, we found the process to be so intriguing, the passion of our culinary team to be so astounding, and the results to be so spectacular, we wanted to share the story of Oceania Cruises' culinary program with the world. Thus was conceived the idea for a book that, while it would contain a wealth of recipes, would be so much more than a cookbook. We envisioned a culinary lifestyle book that would illustrate the depth of our passion for cuisine and how it is such an integral part of the Oceania Cruises experience. And this vision has become a reality, as Taste the World: The Food and Flavors of Oceania Cruises will soon be for sale on amazon.com.

    I may be biased, but I think you'll agree if you check it out that the book is truly beautiful. It was produced by Susie Heller (above left), the Emmy-winning television producer and coauthor of several award-winning cookbooks, including Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook. Deborah Jones did the stunning photography. She has worked with Susie Heller on many of her famous books and has likewise been honored with awards from many different groups including the James Beard Foundation. I swear you feel like you can taste the pages, each shot is so vivid. We were thrilled to have both of them as part of our team.

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    Our Executive Culinary Director, the esteemed Master Chef Jacques Pepin (above right), was heavily involved in bringing the book to life, contributing not only the foreword of the book and many of his own personal recipes, but also the inspiration for our entire culinary program. He has always been such an essential part of our success and one of the driving forces behind the zeal that all of our chefs bring to the table. And of course, our extraordinary team of Executive Chefs and Culinary Directors crafted this project every step of the way, sharing their own family recipes, their personal stories, and their heartfelt commitment to creating the finest cuisine.

    The book actually takes you through a full 24-hour day onboard, so you can see exactly how much passion is behind the process. The galleys never close. Any given minute of any given day, there are chefs preparing for the next meal. You observe Corporate Pastry Chef Olivier Simon overseeing the preparation of croissants at 3:00 a.m., using only the finest Planchot flour imported from France. Later Corporate Executive Chef Wolfgang Maier (pictured in the Curtis Hustace photo above) coaches the team on how to sauté the perfect Wiener Schnitzel. Having grown up in Austria, the dish is a matter of personal and national pride for him. It is his recipe, as his family had it nearly every Sunday for lunch, and he ensures it is done exactly right from the initial seasonings to the breading to the sauté pan. The resulting delicate, crisp, beautifully puffed golden cutlet is a thing to behold.

    If you experience this book, you'll know that the secret ingredient to Oceania Cruises' cuisine is the heart and soul of every chef onboard. Which brings me back to the autograph signing. Guests onboard Marina recently got a sneak peak at Taste the World, and those featured in the book autographed the pages where their delicious recipes and fascinating stories appeared.

    It was a fantastic event, and we are thrilled with the results of the hard work and immense dedication of these great culinary minds. You can bet I'll be sharing more photos of their creations here on the blog soon!

    Before signing off, I wanted to mention that, as you might imagine, I am an avid reader and ardent fan of Cruise Critic. Today I happened to notice that Marina showed up in their Daily Poll, which asks you to vote for the best new cruise ship. I don't need to tell you how I voted. If you feel as I do that Marina is by far the best new cruise ship out there, please feel free to vote for her in the Cruise Critic Daily Poll. And as always, thank you so much to all of our loyal guests, fans, and followers.

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    Back row L to R: Executive Chef Tino Daab, Producer Susie Heller, Master Chef Jacques Pepin, Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger. Front row L to R: Corporate Pastry Chef Olivier Simon, Corporate Executive Chef Wolfgang Maier, Culinary Director Eric Barale.

    For more information about Oceania Cruises contact a travel specialist at Cruising2Europe.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Oceania Cruises to Alaska From $2549 US!

    Oceania Cruises to Europe From $2554 US!

    Posted by Denise at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

    December 14, 2010

    SILVERSEA WINS TWO ACCOLADES AT THE 'CRUISE PASSENGER' 201O READERS' CHOICE AWARDS

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    Silversea Cruises announced the following awards recently named to them!

    We're delighted to share the news that Silversea has been named "Best Luxury Cruise Line" in the Cruise Passenger 2010 Readers' Choice Awards!

    The announcement was made at the Australian magazine's annual awards ceremony held at the Observatory Hotel in Sydney last night. Our intimate 382-guest Silver Shadow was also awarded "Best Luxury Cruise Ship".

    Steve Odell, Silversea vice president for Asia Pacific, accepts awards from Sally Macmillan, editor of Cruise Passenger.

    This achievement is further validation that we are succeeding in our efforts to deliver a luxury holiday experience of unsurpassed quality - and we are truly honoured by the recognition.

    Cruise Passenger magazine was first published in 1996 as a twice yearly independent magazine giving a voice to cruise travellers. Since then, the publication?s passion for cruising, ships, destinations and itineraries has grown with the booming industry, and the magazine is now published four times a year.

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    Posted by Denise at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

    November 09, 2010

    French Polynesia Has 10 Resorts Voted Oceania Best By Conde Nast Traveler Readers

    Conde Nast Traveler just released it's Best In The World Top 100. It declares 26,000 votes were made by readers of their Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.

    French Polynesia has come out on top! In the section of Top Resorts under the Top 20 Oceania section 10 out of the 20 resorts are located in French Polynesia. I have included the full list below, highlighting the resorts in French Polynesia and including pictures.

    Top 20 Resorts Oceania:

    1. Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, located in Northland, New Zealand 98.4 rating

    2. Huka Lodge, located in Taupo, New Zealand 95.5 rating

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    3. Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa, located in Raiatea, French Polynesia 91.1 rating

    4. Voyagers Longitude 131, located in Ayers Rock 90.3 rating

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    5. Le Meridien Bora Bora, located in Bora Bora, French Polynesia 88.6 rating

    6. Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach and Private Island, located in Bora Bora, French Polynesia 88.6 rating

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    7. Te Tiare Beach Resort, located in Huahine, French Polynesia 88.2 rating

    8. Lizard Island, located at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia 86.7 rating

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    9. Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, located in Bora Bora, French Polynesia 86.4 rating

    10. Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, located in Gold Coast, Australia 85.9 rating

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    11. Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, located in Bora Bora, French Polynesia 85.6 rating

    12. Fiji Beach Resort & Spa, located in Denarau, Fiji 84.7 rating

    13. Sofitel Moorea Le Ora Beach Resort, located in Moorea, French Polynesia 84.7 rating

    14. Palau Pacific Resort, located in Palau 84.2 rating

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    15. Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, located in Moorea, French Polynesia 83.3 rating

    16. Silky Oaks Lodge & Spa, located in Daintree, Australia 82.9 rating

    17. Lilianfeis Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, located in Katoomba, Australia 82.4 rating

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    18. InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, located in Moorea, French Polynesia 82.3 rating

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    19. Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa, located in Moorea, French Polynesia 81.8 rating

    20. Hayman, located at Great Barrier Reef, Australia 81.5 rating

    I have had the pleasure of travelling to French Polynesia multiple times. I've cruised around the islands, as well as enjoyed Beach Bungalows and Overwater Bungalows on various islands.

    French Polynesia is paradise on earth! I agree with the list above and encourage couples to think of French Polynesia when planning your next romantic vacation.

    For more information about a French Polynesia holiday contact a Tahiti Tiare Agent at Cruising2Tahiti.com #1-800-738-8837.

    Written By Denise Blackmore, MCC

    Tahiti Air & Hotel Packages From $1298 US!

    10 Day Tahiti Cruises From $899 US!

    Posted by Denise at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

    April 11, 2010

    Moana Lani Spa Review, A Heavenly Spa by Westin

    Moana Lani Spa Review, A Heavenly Spa by Westin
    Located at the Moana Surfrider Hotel by Westin in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

    When reviewing a hotel or spa I usually score out of 10, but I feel this spa should be given a score out of 100. Therefore, I rate it 93 out of 100!

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    The Moana Lani Spa is the best spa I've ever been too. Now, I should give you some background. Over my many years of adulthood I have been to many spas on land and at sea (on cruise ships). Every holiday I take I visit the spa and when I'm at home I visit local spa's in my home town, Vancouver, at least 3 times per year. I think I'm well versed at what spas offer, from change rooms to treatments. I've had massages, wraps, facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing and electrolysis.

    To give this spa such a high rating I looked at the following; check-in and check-out, decor, relaxation sitting, amenities, cleaniness and staff interaction. Some could say I'm over-analyzing for this review, but I feel that women in this world deserve a really great spa and when spending your precious money, to spent it wisely.

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    Both checking in and checking out I was greeted in a friendly, courteous manner and with a smile. While checking in I was asked my name, she confirmed what treatment(s) I was having and then asked if I had any coupons or special offers. I thought asking this question was great. As a client having to ask to use a coupon can feel a little uncomfortable and most people don't know when to show the coupon, at the beginning or at the end. She then walked me to a small waiting room where I read a form, signed in and sat for under 1 minute before I was greeted by another friendly face. This lady walked me into the change room area, opening each door for me and then giving me a tour of the spa. Again, a nice touch since I had not been to the spa in the past and did not know where things were.

    The change rooms are spilt into two areas, both offering two make-up/hair drying areas with mirrors, a small ottoman in the middle of the room to place items or sit while changing and wooden lockers on one side of the room. Each locker has a keypad on it and the lady showing me around taught me how to use it. I thought this was very smart. No need to carry around a key in your robe pocket! Inside the locker there were rubber sandals, a robe, a hanger and three cubby holes for shoes and other items.

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    After getting changed I went into the relaxation room to get some water. Here you could also find a fruit basket, which mainly offered oranges and Fuji apples, three types of tea bags (very high quality tea; I remember one of the flavours was raspberry truffle because I had a glass after my treatment), honey crystals, water (that was ice cubes melted into lemons so the water was nice and cold) and cups.

    The relaxation room faced Waikiki Beach. There were two giant windows and one lanai/balcony with the doors open. An amazing view of the beach and ocean were found here. Plus, the relaxation room offered very comfortable sitting. Two window seats, under each giant window, some regular oversized chairs with cushions, and five chaise lounge seats. All seating offered a coffee table next or in-between them so you could put down your drink. They also offered magazines on the coffee tables. Two large ceiling fans moved the fresh air around the room and did I mention the decor was beautiful. Soft blue hues on the chair cushions with a warm brown wicker feel to the chairs and ceiling fans.

    I then went into the hot tub, which was one room over and also offered the same ocean and beach views. Here I sat for 10 minutes unwinding. Just behind the hot tub you'll find a large steam room and large sauna. Outside the steam room is a large stacks of ice cold face cloths and some dry oversized towels. I took a short steam and then dried off and returned to the lounge. I had some water, read a magazine in a chaise lounge chair and waited for my appointment to begin.

    I had a 50 minute Swedish massage by a middle-aged Asian women, who was very friendly. She escorted me to the treatment room and asked that I sit. She then gave me a small wooden bowl with salts inside. She asked me to put all my worries and thoughts into these salts and at the end of the day the salts would be thrown into the sea. She called it cleansing.

    She left the room to let me get onto the bed and the next 50 minutes were very relaxing. She asked what pressure I'd like, which I requested light to medium, and her strength was perfect. After my nap, I mean massage, I was escorted back to the lounge. Here I sat looking out at the blue of the water and sipping my raspberry truffle tea. After an hour of relaxing I used the restroom, changed and left the spa.

    My check-out was just as pleasant as my check-in and I left thinking how fondly I'd like to return.

    I will happily return to this spa when I return to Honolulu!

    Written by Denise Blackmore

    Posted by Denise at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

    January 15, 2009

    Celebrity Solstice Murano Restaurant

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    Celebrity Solstice
    MURANO RESTAURANT

    A LA CARTE MENU
    $30 US Per Person, Reservations Required

    Appetizers

    Tian of Peekytoe Crab, Smoked Salmon and Avocado Mousse
    with Salmon Pearls, Caviar-Dill Crème Fraiche

    Escargots Totellini
    with a Fricassee of Morels, Pancetta Lardons and
    Roasted Garlic-Parsley Foam

    Crispy Seared Sweetbreads
    Shallots, Capers, Basil Puree, Lemon Zest,
    Sun Dried Tomato

    Diver Scallop Wellington
    Black Truffle Emulsion, Spinach Fondue

    Pan Seared 'Palmex' Foie Gras
    Heirloom Tomato Confiture, Duck Rillettes in a Feuille de Brick,
    Roasted Ginger and Toasted Hazelnuts

    Warm Goat Cheese Croustillant
    Red and Yellow Sweet Bell Pepers Salad,
    Olive and Parsley Pesto

    Soups - Salads

    Fresh Water Crayfish, Langoustine and Mussel Bisque
    Fennel Flan, Chives and Preserved Lemon Salad

    Wild Forest Mushroom Cappuccino
    and Mushroom Porcini Gelato

    Phyllo Baked Anjou Pear and Roquefort Cheese
    Lolla Rosso Lettuce, Spicy Pecans and Port Wine Reduction

    Bouquet of Mixed Greens, Herbs and Cucumber
    Shaved Harts of Palm, Toasted Almonds
    with Vanilla-Citrus Vinaigrette

    Heirloom Tomato Salad, Buffalo Mozzarella, Apple and Cantaloupe
    with Micro Basil, White Balsamic Emulsion

    Young Spinach and Frisee Salad
    Shallot-Truffle Vinaigrette, Sunnyside Side Egg,
    Pork Confit with Brioche Croutons

    Caviar
    Golden Osetra or Sevruga Caviar with Traditional Condiments
    and Buckwheat Blinis
    -Market Price-

    Entrees

    Dover Sole Veronique
    Green Grapes au Beurre Noisette

    Maine Lobster en Croute
    Fennel, White Asparagus, Preserved Tomato

    Pan Seared Filet Mignon
    Larratte Pommes Puree, Honshimiji Mushrooms, Haricots Verts,
    Green Peppercorn and Cognac Cream Sauce

    Pan Seared Tubot
    Ginger infused Spaghetti Squash, Green Asparagus
    and Lemongrass Nage

    Shellfish and Saffron Risotto
    Jumbo Shrimp, Scallops with Tomato-Fennel Sauce

    Crispy Loup De Mar
    Roasted Artichoke, Eggplant Caviar, Kalamata Olive Puree,
    Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Balsamic Syrup

    Sauteed Muscovy Duck Breast
    Confit Spice Duck Leg, Almond Crusted, French Toast,
    Raisin-Apple Compote au Jus

    Mushroom Crusted Rack of Colorado Lamb
    Sweet Pea and Roasted Lamb Jus

    Five Spice Crusted Cervana Venison Loin
    Celery Root Fondant, Wilted Spinach, Red Cabbage Marmalade
    and Lingonberry Sauce

    TASTING MENU
    $140 US Per Person, Reservations Required
    Food and Wine Included

    Appetizers

    Pan Seared 'Palmex' Foie Gras
    Heirloom Tomato Confiture, Duck Rillettes in a Feuille de Brick, Roasted Ginger and Toasted Hazelnuts
    with
    Leonard Kreusch, Goldtropfchen, Spatlese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

    OR

    Diver Scallop Wellington
    Black Truffle Emulsion, Spinach Fondue
    with
    M. Chapoutier, Hermitage Blanc, Chante-Allouette, Rhone Valley

    Soup & Salad

    Wild Forest Mushroom Cappuccino
    and Mushroom Porcini Gelato
    with
    Domaine Laflaive, Puiligny Montrachet, Burgundy

    OR

    Young Spinach and Frisee Salad
    Shallot-Truffle Vinaigrette, Sunnyside Side Egg, Pork Confit with Brioche Croutons
    with
    Joseph Drouhin, Charmes Chambertin, Monopole, Burgundy

    Fish Course

    Shellfish and Saffron Risotto
    Jumbo Shrimp, Scallop with Tomato-Fennel Sauce
    with
    San Quirico, Vernaccia di San Gimigiano, Tuscany
    OR

    Crispy Loup De Mer
    Roasted Artichoke, Eggplant Caviar, Kalamata Olive Puree, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Balsamic Syrup
    with
    Chateau Carbonnieux, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux

    Trou Normand
    Green Apple Sorbet with Calvados

    Meat Course

    Five Spice Crusted Cervena Venison Loin
    Celery Root Fondant, Wilted Spinach, Red Cabbage Marmalade and Lingonberry Sauce
    with
    Chiarelo Family Vineyard, Zinfandel, Giana, Napa Valley

    OR

    Mushroom Crusted Rack of Colorado Lamb
    Sweet Pea and Roasted Lamb Jus
    with
    Meredith-Lagar, Syrah, Mount Veeder

    Deserts

    Les VI Etoiles du Murano for two
    Selection of Petits Desserts
    with
    Royal Tokaji, Aszu, 5 Puttonyos, Hungary

    OR

    Valhrona Cocoa Croquant
    Salted Caramel, White Coffee Ice Cream
    with
    Blandy's, 15 year, Madeira, Malmsey

    Taken from the December 14, 2008 Cruise

    Posted by Denise at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)