HEART-POUNDING PURSUITS IN THE NORTH CAPE

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Do you ever worry that you’ll lose momentum in your personal fitness and wellness routines while on vacation? Particularly during a luxury vacation that includes world-class cuisine at your fingertips virtually any time your taste buds crave? Fear not. Besides the numerous amenities aboard Crystal Symphony to motivate you and keep you fit and healthy, from Pilates classes to promenade marathons, the 18-day “North Cape Discovery” voyage to Norway’s fjords, towering peaks and raging rivers offers adventures ashore in nearly every port that will get your heart pounding while you take in the spectacular scenery.

During this intrepid voyage to the top of the world, go beyond counting steps and calories. This is our challenge to you: How much adventure can you pack in to 18 days?

Norway is a wonderland of fjords and mountains that call to adventurers throughout the world.

Norway is a wonderland of fjords and mountains that call to adventurers throughout the world.

Some of the dozens of North Cape Adventures ashore that will get your heart racing include:

Hike on Mt. Ulriken (Bergen) – “View from the top” is the theme here, as you cable car over medieval King Håkon’s Hall to the peak of the tallest of Bergen’s famous “seven mountains,” Mt. Ulriken. Once arrived, you’ll climb even further to the lookout hut called Ulvehylet, or “Wolf Yell,” so named for the wolf-like howling of the wind through this pass.

Site Running: The Beauty of Bergen – Lace up your running shoes and join in the active culture of Bergen. On a 2 ½-mile run along the Fjellveien path that winds amid the hills above the city, boasting views of the sea, trees and town below. You’ll also pass the 13th century Rosenkrantz Tower and Bryggen, the Hanseatic wharf that dates back to the Middle Ages.

The funicular ride to the peak of Bergen's Mt. Fløyen is an exhilarating adventure unto itself.

The funicular ride to the peak of Bergen’s Mt. Floyen is an exhilarating adventure unto itself.

Mountain Biking on Mt. Fløyen (Bergen) – A thrilling ride by funicular takes you to the summit of Mt. Fløyen, where you’ll grab your bike and helmet and navigate the back country roads and terrain around the peak. While you’ll marvel at spectacular views at every turn, we strongly recommend you keep your eyes on the path!

Whitewater Rafting in Voss (Flåm) – The title of this adventure sums it up nicely, as you’ll be transported to the outdoor mecca of Voss for a rafting trip through the rapids of the rivers and fjords that run through this stunning region.

Hike with the Huskies (Tromsø) – A short flight takes you to Kvaløya Island, a mountainous isle with peaks rising over 3,200 feet, also home to more than one hundred Alaskan huskies (and the family of five who cares for them). Hear tales of the family’s expeditions and victorious Iditarod and Finnmark Race experiences, then set off on your own husky adventure through the island’s wilderness.

White water rafting in the rivers and fjords of Norway is an unforgettable thrill.

White water rafting in the rivers and fjords of Norway is an unforgettable thrill.

Ocean Kayak Adventure (Tromsø) – The aforementioned Kvaløya Island is also known as “whale island,” making it a haven for sea explorers and wildlife lovers. When you’re ready for a break from navigating your kayak through the chilly inlets of the Norwegian Sea, rest your arms and try to capture photos of the wildlife in the waters beneath you.

Keiservarden Viewpoint Hike (Bodø) – This hike calls to serious trekkers and casual strollers alike, as it’s up to you how to tackle this slightly uphill rugged terrain. Regardless of your pace, if the workout doesn’t leave you breathless, the panoramic views that seem to stretch forever certainly will.

Crystal Symphony’s journey to the North Cape departs July 16, 2017. Reserve your all-inclusive luxury sailing now, grab your gear and get moving.

 

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Families Indulge in Mediterranean Culture and Cuisine with Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures

CELEBRATION, Fla. – Disney Cruise Line invites families to explore the culturally rich and exotic locales of the Mediterranean with one-of-a-kind Port Adventures during its 2017 European sailings.

Beginning July 2017, the Disney Magic returns to the Mediterranean, treating guests to the best of Europe with favorite ports of call. Guests will explore richly diverse destinations that showcase iconic locations, enchanting cultures, tantalizing cuisine and unrivaled experiences.

Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures are designed to entertain and inspire both children and adults—in true Disney fashion—many with added touches such as more scheduled breaks, complimentary snacks and fun port activity sheets for kids.

Journey Through Rome with a Disney Exclusive Puppet Show for Kids

Travel into the heart of the historic city of Rome where families experience the art of traditional Italian puppetry with a private puppet show performed exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests. Located in an intimate, lovingly restored theater in the scenic Borghese Gardens, a delightful performance brings laughter and song as children enjoy the unique storytelling style of traditional Italian puppet shows. The experience invites young guests to meet the talented puppeteers that bring the hand-crafted characters to life. The city’s rich history and elaborate architecture also transports guests to the time of ancient Rome with a visit to the iconic Colosseum and the sacred Vatican City, surrounded by a mighty medieval wall. Guests can enjoy an afternoon stroll through the old cobblestone streets, practice their Italian with the locals and explore the Old City’s boutiques, restaurants and shops.

Children Experience the Art of Pizza Making in Sorrento

Disney Cruise Line offers an exclusive opportunity for children to become master chefs during an authentic Italian pizza making experience in Sorrento, Italy. From prepping the dough to savoring their final culinary masterpiece, children are immersed in true Italian culture during this one-of-a-kind experience. The journey continues to the nearby villages of Amalfi, Maiori or Vietri sul Mare – painting the perfect backdrop for impressive family photos. With cliffside towns and colorful architecture, the areas serve as relaxing locales for guests to experience the breathtaking views of the coast before returning to their Disney cruise ship.

Create Authentic Italian Cuisine at a Tuscan Estate

A delicious adult-exclusive adventure awaits fans of fine food in Tuscany, Italy, from the port of Livorno. The charming Castello del Trebbio estate, perched in the picturesque Tuscan countryside, serves as an authentic locale to learn traditional culinary techniques and prepare an authentic Italian dish. From kneading the pasta dough to creating a delicious tomato sauce from fresh Tuscan ingredients and house-made olive oil, adults will enjoy this unique Italian cooking experience. After savoring a tasty traditional pasta dish, paired with locally made wine, guests can explore rooms of the ancient castle and learn the story behind its rich history and meticulous renovation. The opportunity to cook, eat and relax – in true Italian style – makes this a savory experience for epicureans and oenophiles.

Admire the Views of Sicily with a Glass of Wine

On Italy’s largest island – known for its rich culture and scenic, mountainous landscapes – adult guests can experience the art of winemaking at the Alessandro di Camporeale winery in Sicily. Overlooking the panoramic rolling hills, guests are immersed in Sicilian wine culture while they discover the art and science behind wine making and indulge in some of Sicily’s most well-known wines and local cheeses.

Taste Your Way Through the Old City of Rome

Discover some of the Eternal City’s most authentic Italian delicacies during an all-day gastronomic adventure in Rome. From traditional specialties, such as pizza, pastas and seafood, to a taste of local Italian fare at the nearby authentic food market, Disney Cruise Line guests indulge in delicious cuisine while exploring some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum.

Discover the Scenic Paradise Views of Capri

Just off the coast of Sorrento is the island paradise of Capri. With its sea blue waters and stunning views, Capri’s winding cobblestoned streets make the perfect way for guests to stroll and explore the island’s boutiques. While shopping for unique souvenirs, guests may sample the traditional limoncello digestif liqueur, made from lemons grown on the island. After enjoying an authentic Italian meal in Capri Town, guests journey up the mountain to the picturesque Anacapri and experience breathtaking views of the coastline.

The Disney Magic will sail to the Mediterranean on July 28 for a 10-night cruise from Barcelona, Spain, followed by five 7-night sailings on Aug. 12, 19, 26, Sept. 2 and 9, and a 5-night cruise on Aug. 7.

Details on all Disney Cruise Line shore excursions can be found on the Port Adventures section of disneycruise.com.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact their travel agent.

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A Chef’s Look at Bermuda: Restaurants, Markets & More

Where do chefs dine in Bermuda? We caught up with Director of Culinary Enrichment & Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly and Chef Instructor Annie Copps to discover the best spots on the island for food lovers and culinary connoisseurs. As any chef will tell you, cuisine is the key to the soul of a place – the perfect excuse to eat your way through Bermuda! Restaurant prices are typically on par with New York and San Francisco, but with some insider tips the experience will be worth it. From St. George to Hamilton and beyond, here are Chef Kelly and Chef Copps’ top recommendations for markets, restaurants and culinary experiences.

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Wadson’s Farm
Closest to Royal Naval Dockyard and Hamilton, this sustainable family-owned farm and market is located in the Southampton parish of Bermuda. It was founded by Tom Wadson in 1976 and is home to 40 acres of beautiful farmland, growing everything from arugula and zucchini to basil and yams. You can go on a tour for a behind-the-scenes peek at Tom’s greenhouses, farm animals – including the famed Bermuda hogs, and taste of his passion for local food culture. The market is open Tuesday through Friday and offers an excellent selection of seasonal garden produce and other locally inspired specialties.

All Things Fish
In Bermuda, you simply can’t go wrong with fish chowder or a good fish sandwich – two of the most popular local treats. If you’re looking for something quick, casual and delicious, these are two surefire options. Here are the best spots for each.

Fish Sandwiches
Tribe Road Urban Eatery | Hamilton
Art Mel’s Spicy Dicey | two locations: Hamilton and St. George
Seaside Grill | Hamilton
The Wharf | St. George

Fish Chowder
Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio | St. George
Lobster Pot | Hamilton
Hog Penny | Hamilton

Proper Dining
Restaurants in Bermuda err on the formal side, but the right spots serve as a window into deep-rooted Bermudian culinary traditions. Wherever you choose to dine, you’ll always win if you go with your server’s recommendation or the special of the night. For a “proper” meal, here are a few of our chefs’ favorites.

At Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club
Marcus’
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s visually striking venue at the Princess in Hamilton offers a beautiful harbor view, excellent service and menu items such octopus ragu pasta, fire-grilled wahoo and yes, chicken and waffles.

1609 Bar & Restaurant
Offering a dramatic open-air setting paired with elevated casual fare and a spirited cocktail menu, what’s not to love? Savor fresh-off-the-boat seafood such as butterfly prawns and ceviche alongside a classic Bermuda libation like a Rum Swizzle or Dark & Stormy.

Griffin’s Restaurant | St. George
An islander favorite for fine dining, Griffin’s is located at the main clubhouse of The St. George’s Club and overlooks the Old Town of St. George and the harbor. The atmosphere is jovial and you just might rub shoulders with America’s Cup racers and local yachtsmen.

The Point at Rosewood Tucker’s Point | Hamilton
A stunning restaurant that features Pan Am’s one-of-a-kind Sky Club murals depicting the world’s major ports of the 1880s, The Point brings together fresh local ingredients and international recipes for a memorable dining experience. In homage to the restaurant’s murals, they also offer 5-, 7- or 10-course epicurean journeys with global dishes highlighting 19th century ports of call such as the Beirut Tabbouleh Crusted Cod Fillet and the Canton Glazed Duck Breast.

Tom Moore’s Tavern | Hamilton
With the claim to fame of being Bermuda’s oldest restaurant, Tom Moore’s Tavern was built in 1652 and serves classic French, Italian and Continental cuisine in elegant colonial environs. You might start with the traditional fish chowder with black rum and sherry pepper, followed by the rack of lamb with a mustard crust. Baked to order soufflés make for the perfect ending.

The Perfumery: Lili Bermuda
This unique perfume shop in St. George has been creating exclusive fragrances from the island’s flowers and botanicals since 1928. You can tour the perfumery to learn about their unique techniques of perfume-making, aging and bottling. Every Wednesday and Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. you can enjoy a traditional British high tea with scones, finger sandwiches and petit fours.

We hope to see you in Bermuda this spring or summer!


Oceania Cruises Blog

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18 March 2017; At Sea.

Well the weather did what was forecast and in the course of last night, the wind came down to something more acceptable. 20 knots or so and that is what we are used to in this area. By 08.45 we had past Cabo San Antonio and turned to a North Easterly course and entered the Straits of Florida. Now we are completely at the other side of the weather system and in the other counter flow, and that means we have the 30 knots of wind back. But no rain; the sun is nicely shining and all is well in the world as we expect the wind to die down again in the evening.

Where we are is never simple to describe as human kind with their penchant to give everything a name has also made it a bit of a confusion when it comes to naming the sea in these areas. So when we sailed away from Puerto Limon we were in the Caribbean Sea. But we before we entered the Straits of Florida we first sailed through the Yucatan Channel.  The same happens at the other side of Cuba. You are happily sailing out of the Windward Passage and into the Caribbean Sea but then you suddenly realize that somebody has decided to give that area another name: The Jamaican Channel.   My idea of a channel has always been a fairly narrow passage. A bit like a canal but then without locks. But these channels are not that narrow at all. There is something else wrong as well; scientists have officially decided that it cannot be a channel because it is not long enough. So there you go, but nobody is doing anything about having it changed. So a channel it remains although there are also factions who call it Yucatan Straits but that seems to be wrong as well, as it is not wide enough for that.

The Yucatan Channel named after the Yucatan, parked of Mexico. Somehow Cuba lost out here.

The Yucatan Channel named after the Yucatan peninsula, part of Mexico. Somehow Cuba lost out here in the naming process.

The Yucatan Channel or Yucatan Straits is 135 miles wide and has been recognized as the official connection between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It is the deepest at the Cuban side where the depth reaches down to 9000 feet which certainly helps with getting all the water through.

Although we only talk about the Gulf Stream pushing through there, there is also a Yucatan Current. Scientists have decided that another name was needed because not all the water from the Caribbean Sea flows directly into the Straits of Florida. Some of the water flows into the Gulf of Mexico and creates a circulation there with the water coming from the North American Plateau.  Some of this water curls around the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Campeche, the bay on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Yucatan Current average flow. (Diagram courtesy Miami.edu)

The Yucatan Current average flow. (Diagram courtesy Miami.edu)

For sailors it is important to realize that there is a Yucatan Current which goes West, North and East. Simply because Hurricanes tend to follow currents as they feed off them. An extreme example was hurricane Gilbert who did not follow the regular path of going north but travelled over the northern tip of the Yucatan straight in the Gulf of Campeche.  Normally when captains plan for hurricane evasion, they think primarily: will it go left around Cuba or will it go right around Cuba. Travelling straight over Cuba is not nice for the Cubans but no problem for us as we cannot sail over land. Based on that we are looking for a plan to stay clear. But if you would be coming down from New Orleans then it could become more complicated as the approaching hurricane coming towards Cuba could, because of the Yucatan Current, go left, right or straight up.

This is one of the reasons captains have issues with going to New Orleans in the Hurricane season. Due to the 10 hr. trip down the river and then having to sail down the Gulf of Mexico it takes a lot of time to get away from the danger area. Tampa or Key West are much better as you can get within 12 hours to the other side of Florida.  At the moment Holland America is not sailing from New Orleans and thus we do not have to worry about such things.

Who is worrying is the captain. My colleague is going on vacation and wants to make his plane on time, so nothing should stand in his way to get docked on time. He will be relieved by Captain Wouter van Hoogdalem who is the alternating captain for the Zuiderdam and who will be on board for the next three months. Makes me feel old: I had both of them as junior officers on my ship when I was staff captain. But I can still teach them a few things and that makes it feel good again.

Weather for tomorrow: 29oC / 84 oF. mainly sunny and a gentle breeze of 10 knots. What a better way to end  a cruise.

Holland America Blog

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Six Things You Should Know About A Windstar Tahiti Cruise

by Matt Long

For me, and millions like me, a cruise to Tahiti was the stuff of dreams. For as long as I can remember, traveling to these fabled islands has been number one on my travel wish list and finally getting the chance to explore the South Pacific was a dream come true. I learned a lot though on my Tahiti cruise with Windstar, and more than anything I found myself surprised by the journey again and again. Today I want to share my experiences because if you’re like me, there’s a lot about cruising around French Polynesia that I bet you may not know.

Tahiti_island
Photography by Matt Long

1. Tahiti is very accessible

I’m not great at geography, which is probably why I didn’t properly understand where Tahiti and the 117 other islands of French Polynesia are located exactly. In brief, they are smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean close to absolutely nothing at all. They are remote and alone, which is what makes them so attractive in the first place. Luckily, we don’t have to sail the vast oceans to reach the islands and I found the flights to be incredibly manageable. Flying from LA to Papeete takes about 8-8.5 hours, which honestly isn’t that bad. It’s not the 13 hours it takes to reach Australia from the West Coast or the 15 hours to reach Asia from the East Coast. Yes, it’s a long-haul flight but I place it in the mid-tier of flights in terms of duration. If you live on the West Coast of the US, it takes you far longer to reach Europe than Tahiti, so the distance is fine I think. I don’t live on the West Coast though, so I had to first fly the nearly 6 hours to reach Los Angeles before hopping on the Air Tahiti Nui flight to Papeete. Admittedly, this makes it a longer trip. But, you can either split that time up by spending a day or two in LA or, do as I did, and just plan a slightly longer layover to go outside, stretch your legs, get some fresh air and grab a bite to eat before flying to Papeete. No matter how you approach it though, I don’t personally consider distance to be an impediment to visiting French Polynesia.

overwater_bungalo
Photography by Matt Long

2. Cruising is the best way to experience Tahiti

The Society Islands have a lot of names. The South Pacific, French Polynesia and here in the US we tend just to say Tahiti to encompass all of them. In truth though, Tahiti is just one of 118 different islands comprising the chain, each one with its own unique look, feel and experiences to enjoy. Getting to these islands isn’t always easy; even the most popular of the islands take some planning if you want to visit. Moorea and Bora Bora are the easiest to visit from the capital city of Papeete on Tahiti, but even then you’re talking about either ferries or short flights. For my first experience in French Polynesia though I knew I didn’t want to be stuck on just one or two islands, that I wanted to see and do as much as possible. A cruise really is the only way to accomplish this and is, I think, the perfect introduction to this beautiful part of the world. A small yacht experience in French Polynesia was pure perfection and provided intimate access to some of the most remote spots on the planet, a feat few others can achieve.

Wind-Spirit
Photography by Matt Long

3.  French Polynesia is what you make it

Sure, we all love those iconic images of bungalows over water and scenes so beautiful they make a grown man cry. And yes, those postcards and calendars we’ve all been admiring all our lives do actually exist in real life. However, Tahiti is about much more than those beaches, all you have to do is want to learn more. Talking with locals and the authentic experiences Windstar provides is the perfect way to really get to know and understand this very unique part of the world. I’m also an active traveler though and I was a little concerned there wouldn’t be enough to keep me occupied, but thankfully I was very wrong.  Every day was a new port, a new island and new experiences to enjoy. The cruise offered a wide variety of excursions from snorkeling and diving to photographic tours and 4X4 drives. There was never an opportunity to be bored no matter where we were. Plus, the onboard amenities and activities meant that even while at sea I had a lot to do; more than enough to keep someone like me entertained. Of course, if you do want to spend time on those tranquil beaches, there’s plenty of opportunity to do just that. It’s really a matter of preference, but I loved having the option to choose to be active or not, depending on my mood.

Photography by Matt Long

4. It’s Too Expensive

I hear this a lot, and it’s not entirely true. Like most destinations we visit, if you want to spend a lot of money on vacation in French Polynesia, you certainly can. Although, you can also visit as a budget traveler and while it’s not my style of travel, I know many people who have done just that. From hostels to pensions and B&Bs, there are many lodging alternatives that make the South Pacific affordable. I have to say though, that while my cruise was a boutique luxury experience it’s a reasonably priced one. I sailed with many people who normally spend a week in Mexico or travel to Europe on vacation and they shared with me that their French Polynesia cruise was either the same price or just slightly more expensive than those more common getaways. I think the key is working with a travel advisor who knows the region well and who can help you navigate any potential financial pitfalls. Personally, I had wanted to visit French Polynesia for so long that nothing was going to keep me away.

Wind_Spirit
Photography by Matt Long

5. New friends

One of the best parts of the trip was meeting all of my fellow passengers. I get asked a lot of questions about cruising, mostly because I tend to sail only on small vessels, whether it’s a river cruise or ocean going vessel. Mostly it’s about the demographics, my fellow Gen-Xers don’t want to be the youngest people onboard. I have a few answers to this. First, I am very rarely the youngest person onboard and I certainly was not the youngest when I sailed around French Polynesia with Windstar. Second, age doesn’t really matter when you travel. If you are on the same journey as someone else, that means the two of you have a very similar outlook on life. You seek the same things from a travel experience and in my case that means exploration and adventure. Those traveling with you feel the same as you do, and you will have so much more in common than you could ever imagine. That has always been the case for me, and it held true during the week I spent with Windstar. Regardless of age, we all got along very well and some of the discussions I had onboard were amongst the best I’ve ever enjoyed. Plus, I just loved meeting new people and learning about them and their lives. I wanted to know what brought them to Tahiti and experiencing it with them for the first time made my own journey all the more richer. It was a symbiotic relationship of everyone helping each other in creating a more fun and robust travel experience.

Motu
Photography by Matt Long

6. Tahiti is worth the hype

Tahiti is one of those places most of us want to visit because it looks like paradise incarnate. Every travel calendar features it and for millions it fuels our travel dreams. Many times when this happens though, the destination rarely lives up to all of the hype. Tahiti is not one of those places. Not only does it live up to the hype, it exceeds every expectation. I wanted a tropical paradise and I found it, from those dreamy overwater bungalows on Bora Bora to swimming with sharks through perfectly clear waters. But French Polynesia is about so much more than those postcard images. It’s full of people who are amongst the nicest and most welcoming that I’ve ever met. It’s full of jungles and rivers and other beautiful scenes most people don’t know exist. It has a complicated history, a fascinating culture and endless stories to share, if people are curious enough to ask. Tahiti is a special place and even though I had just one short week there, I know it’s not my last experience on those islands.

overwater_bungalo
Photography by Matt Long

If you have any questions about my Windstar Tahiti cruise please be sure to contact me via social media or my website – https://landlopers.com/contact.

About Matt Long

Matt is a typical Gen-Xer and former cubicle-dweller who has a passion for all things travel. He runs www.landlopers.com travel blog. He is not a backpacker, nor did he leave everything behind to see the world. He is just a normal person who has learned how to get the most out of the travel experience. Matt is like many people; he has a house, lives in the ‘burbs and is even owned by three beautiful dogs, but he has also made travel his profession. If you love adventurous experiences along with the pampering that only great luxury can provide, then his site is the place for you.

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Windstar Cruises – A Luxury Cruise Blog

Crew zip line excursion, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
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