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Emerald Waterways has announced a brand new Provence sailing for 2017, “Sensations of Southern France,” an eight-day voyage that will take place aboard the company’s newly built Emerald Liberté.

The sailing takes passengers from Lyon to Arles along the picturesque Rhône and Saône Rivers, passing through Chalon-Sur-Saône, Tournon and Avignon, where guests will be treated to an on-board, Provençal style dinner by acclaimed local chef and Top Chef France finalist, Fabien Morreale.

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Scenic is bringing Southeast Asia closer to a reality for US travelers. Booking any departure between August and December 2017 means free air from 25 US gateways or $2,000 savings per couple on its 13-day “Treasures of the Mekong” and 14-day “Mystical Irrawaddy”; and $1,000 per couple savings on the eight-day “Luxury Mekong” and 11-day “Luxury Irrawaddy.” These itineraries exploring the culturally-rich Mekong and Irrawaddy River destinations of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The deadline for the offer is based on availability and is for new bookings only. Read the rest of this entry »

Every week, I get up to 100 emails from people interested in river cruising. Many are well-heeled and can afford river cruises that cost more than $400 per day per person. Not everyone is so fortunate. Just last week, a gentleman wrote me asking to unsubscribe from the River Cruise Advisor newsletter. He was apologetic. “Sadly,” he wrote, “I cannot afford a river cruise at these prices.”

River cruising in Europe is a dream come true for travelers. Imagine passing the beautiful landscapes along the rivers, past fairy-tale villages dotted with castles and church spires, all from the comfort of your floating boutique hotel. Step ashore into enchanting towns and immerse yourself into the milieu of an age-old culture. Read the rest of this entry »

We head to the Tal Harba Chapel, situated on the Valletta waterfront. This small chapel is beautifully detailed. The style of the façade is definitively Baroque, and it is carefully adapted to not be dominated by the adjacent large warehouses, façades and restaurants.

The Maltese architect, Andrea Belli (1703—1772) ensured that the narrow façade of this chapel included all the typical elements of a larger church façade—two bell towers, imposing cornices and sumptuous Baroque detailing, making for a tiny-mighty street presence. The cartouche and the high window assembly in particular highlight the architect’s finesse. The chapel’s interior is domed and the altar nave is a true high Baroque masterpiece.

Inside we took a seat to enjoy a 20-minute concert performance by a talented soprano and three musicians. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: A Stroll Through Symi, Greece

Today we’re in a gorgeous Greek town known as Symi. We’re going to hop on the island’s only tour bus with a local guide, head up to the upper town, walk along some narrow streets, visit a beautiful church and an abandoned fortress, and then make our way back down to the waterfront. We’ve got a lot to see, so let’s get going.

Situated just 25 miles northwest of Rhodes, Symi feels about as authentic as you can get when it comes to a traditional Greek fishing village.

Actually, Symi is known for its sponges, and many a Symian has been active in sponge diving in his lifetime. Those who operate the sponge shops along the waterfront have some great stories to tell about the prosperous days of the sponge industry. Don’t be shy about chatting with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: Calvi, Corsica Highlights

A guided stroll through the seaside town of Calvi reveals much of its history – from its humble beginnings as a fishing village, to its century in the sun as a Genoese stronghold, and its current status as a charming vacation getaway.

For an excellent overview of the city, head up to the Calvi citadel, perched on a rocky hillside overlooking the port. Enter through the citadel’s thick gates to the Place d’Armes and on to the Cathedral St Jean Baptiste, set upon the highest point of the promontory. Founded in the 13th century, the cathedral was partially destroyed during the Turkish siege in 1553, and later rebuilt in the form of a Greek cross. Also visit the Oratoire St Antoine to admire its Italian frescoes. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: Rethymnon Town and Arkadi Monastery

The Venetians left a lasting legacy following their conquest of Crete in the 13th century. In cities like Rethymnon are remnants of Kingdom of Candia, as Crete was called when it was part of the Republic of Venice. Today, we’re going to see vestiges of Crete’s Venetian past as we tour Rethymnon and a monastery with a tragic story.

The Arkadi tragedy was among the first during the Cretan Revolution between 1866 and 1869. World leaders condemned the Ottomans, and the Arkadi tragedy became a milestone in Greek history. It was viewed as a heroic act that changed the course of the war. The Ottomans ultimately lost their their stronghold on the island.

Today, the Arkadi Monastery is one of the most important monasteries on all of Greece. The church inside the fortified walls still represents a place of peace and refuge, despite the tragedy that occurred here only steps away from this holy place. Read the rest of this entry »

Today we’ve come about an hour from Sete to the city of Montpellier. Montpellier doesn’t have a Roman heritage like a lot of the cities here in the south of France. It’s a Medieval city founded in 985. Let’s take a look around beautiful Montpellier.

The heart and soul of Montpellier is the Place de la Comedié. The square was named for a theater that burned down here in the 1700s. In the center for the square is the Three Graces fountain, which was built here more than 200 years ago.

The old part of Montpellier dates back to the 12th century. There’s not a lot remaining from that period, but what you will see are buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries that line the narrow streets and quaint squares. Read the rest of this entry »

Carnival Cruise Line will reposition three of its newest and largest ships to new homeports in 2018, expanding upon the exciting variety of cruise options available from Galveston, Texas, Port Canaveral, Fla.,  and Miami. In September 2018 Carnival Vista will move to Galveston; Carnival Breeze will reposition to Port Canaveral; and Carnival Magic will shift to Miami.

Carnival Vista to Offer Two Week-Long Caribbean Itineraries from Galveston

Beginning Sept. 23, 2018, the newest ship in Carnival’s fleet, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista, will begin sailing from Galveston and offer two different seven-day western Caribbean itineraries departing every Sunday and visiting the region’s most popular destinations. The first itinerary includes calls at Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, while the other features visits to Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize, and Cozumel. Read the rest of this entry »

On February 25, 2017, I’m cruising with Windstar’s President John Delaney. We’ll cruise aboard the Star Pride through the Panama Canal and along the star-studded coast of Costa Rica. This weeklong cruise will give me a chance to catch up with John, who I worked with on projects during his tenure at Seabourn. What I hope to discover is how he and his team will transform Windstar. Coming from Seabourn, John — and those he brought with him from Seabourn — brings a lot to the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Seabourn Encore Christened In Singapore

Last night the Seabourn formally introduced Seabourn Encore at a festive evening ceremony pier side in Singapore. International recording artist and world’s best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as godmother of the new 600-guest ship, the first of two new all-suite vessels for the company. Read the rest of this entry »

Princess Cruises is bringing its largest Alaska deployment ever in 2018, which goes on sale December 1. In summer 2018, seven Princess Cruises ships will sail Alaska’s pristine waters on 130 cruise departures, with more than 75 percent of all voyages sailing to Glacier Bay National Park, departing from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, B.C. and Anchorage (Whittier). In addition, Princess has more than 22 cruise tour options, providing guests the opportunity to journey into the interior of Alaska and visiting five custom-built Princess Wilderness Lodges.

New for 2018, Island Princess will feature a full season of calls to Icy Strait Point, a unique and remote wilderness experience, on every seven-day northbound Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary. Also new for 2018, guests looking to cruise round-trip from Los Angeles can choose from two 12-day cruises. Read the rest of this entry »

Soon To Singapore For Seabourn Encore’s Christening

Seabourn Encore will be christened in a gala naming ceremony in Singapore on January 7, 2017. I will be there for the event, so be sure to watch this space for coverage and live reports.

International recording artist and world’s best-selling Soprano Sarah Brightman will do honors as godmother of Seabourn’s newest vessel, the intimate, all-suite Seabourn Encore. Brightman will preside over a glittering evening ceremony and all-around festive occasion, attended by guests and crew departing on a 10-day maiden voyage bound for Indonesia.

Guests on that maiden voyage will begin a 10-day journey through Southeast Asia, with calls on Surabaya, Java; Celukan Bawang, Bali; and Slawi Bay, Komodo, Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »

Whenever possible on press trips, I take a seat at the table beside Marcia Levin. That way, I know lunch or dinner will never be boring. Marcia has sailed on more than 100 cruises worldwide, but that’s not enough in itself for someone to be entertaining and engaging. What I find intriguing is that Marcia remains absolutely passionate about travel, and after 30 years of motion, that’s darn impressive. Her Twitter handle is @marcygone. If you knew her, you’d say, that’s just so Marcia. – Ralph Grizzle Read the rest of this entry »

Oceania Cruises’ New Tropics Voyages

Oceania Cruises has unveiled a collection of more than 30 new itineraries for the Winter 2017-18 season aboard Regatta, Marina, Riviera, and Sirena. Ranging from nine to 34 days, these new voyages afford discerning travelers to embark on an Oceania Cruises voyage that is close to home or explore paradise half a world away.

Highlights of the new voyages include Sirena’s in-depth exploration of South America, including an all-new Amazon voyage from Miami to Rio de Janeiro and a 35-day journey from San Diego to Rio de Janeiro which includes coastal Mexico, the Panama Canal, and Devil’s Island.

Regatta covers the South Pacific in almost its entirety, including a reprisal of the epic circumnavigation of the Australian continent and an adventurous jaunt through the Coral and Timor Seas to Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »

Silver Muse Culinary Experiences To Impress

With just six months to go before its debut, Silver Muse is shaping up its culinary offerings. The company’s flagship will boast more dining options (eight) than any other ultra-luxury cruise ship.

Silversea’s exclusive partnership with Relais & Châteaux continues on board Silver Muse in the form of La Dame, a refined and elegant French restaurant. La Dame offers gastronomic excellence in a refined and timeless setting with bespoke menus created by top chefs from the Relais & Châteaux team. The menu will be underpinned and enhanced with locally sourced ingredients and guests can enjoy carefully paired wines to enrich the dining experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: Aigues-Mortes, France

Enter the fortified city of Aigues-Mortes through imposing gates that were built in the 13th century.

Inside the walls, Aigues-Mortes has all the charm of a French village. You’ll find restaurants where you may be tempted to sip a glass of rose and shops featuring the best of French fashion – all set within a wonderful historical context. Your guided walking tour will take you along the narrow streets to learn about the history of the region. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: A Stroll through Cesme, Turkey

Today we’re in Cesme, Turkey. We’re going to head up into the hills for a panoramic view over the city, come into town for a walking tour, visit a Greek Orthodox church and see a centuries-old castle. We’ve got a lot to do, so let’s get going.

The name Cesme derives from the Turkish word for fountain. We learned that the name probably comes from the many Ottoman fountains throughout the city. Çesme was once the region’s major port. The city marked the end of the infamous Silk Road. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: A Day In Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is comprised of five charming villages set along a rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera. Collectively, the villages and the coastline make up Cinque Terre National Park, a place so unique that it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The first of the villages that we’ll visit is Manarola. In the past, the primary industries in Manarola were fishing and wine production, but today it’s the tourist trade that makes tiny Manarola a bustling attraction.

The locals speak a dialect known as Manarolese, but you’ll still be understood when you greet the friendly folks of this town with a hearty Italian bonjourno. Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures Ashore: Picturesque Alacati, Turkey

Today we’re in one of Turkey’s most charming coastal villages. It resembles a Greek village, and in fact we’re going to see something unusual, a Greek Orthodox church that shares space with a mosque. We’re also going to wander the maze of streets and stop for refreshments. We’ve got a lot to do, so let’s get going.

Alaçati was originally settled by Greeks in the 17th century, but the Greeks were forced to leave in 1914 and the village was practically emptied. Many returned in 1919 when the Hellenic army occupied the region of Izmir, but they fled again in 1922 following Greece’s defeat in the Greco-Turkish War. The Greeks left a strong impression, however, which remains to this day. You’ll find old Greek homes in the city center and a Greek/Turkish style of life. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re here in Gozo Harbor, and we’re about to head out for a sailing trip. We’ll do some snorkeling and sightseeing. Let’s get going.

This is the Blue Lagoon, and all you need to do is look out and you’ll see why. There are many shades of blue and crystal clear waters. I can even see ripples on the sand under the water. This is also where they filmed scenes of The Count of Monte Cristo.

We had a fabulous swim, and now we have two choices: We can head to a beach or up the tower where The Count of Monte Cristo was filmed. Let’s head up to the tower. Read the rest of this entry »