Calling all foodies and aspiring chefs who want to cook like a pro at home! Following the success of the 2018 series, we’re thrilled to announce dates for our 2019 Food & Beverage Aficionado Cruises that showcase the talents of the members of our Culinary Council, Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff and Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker partners.
The Culinary Council is led by our Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, who is joined by international chefs Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner, Andy . . .READ MORE
“Boutique cruise” may sound like an oxymoron. But tiny vessels with sophisticated itineraries are trending in travel now, attracting passengers more engaged with culture than buffet tables. Featuring just 18 suites with panoramic balcony windows, the new Avalon Saigon is one of the smallest cruise ships, white and discreet, with the modern shape of a low-rise Richard Meier building. There is plenty to admire about its understated elegance, including a sculptural teak dining room wall intricately carved by Vietnamese artisans.
But the true triumph of design of this little ship that cruises up the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia is its itinerary.
The Mekong, which spans from China to southern Vietnam, is incredibly diverse, both biologically and culturally, supporting everything from catfish, crocodiles, and tilapia to fishing communities built on stilts to withstand both annual flooding and droughts.
On our second day, after sailing past floating villages, fish farms, rice paddies, cotton fields and children waving from muddy banks and jerry-rigged boats, we disembark to tour the teeming market of the small Vietnamese city Chau Doc-Long Khong. Then we board a sampan, a long boat with an outboard engine, to visit the village of Long Khong, where cotton weaving of checked Krama scarves is a thriving tradition. We also visit the home of a former Viet Cong general, who, with his smiling wife, greets us with disconcerting warmth. “We’re glad you want to visit us, and know that individuals aren’t their governments,” he tells us, with our guide translating our questions about American tourists. “The past is behind us.” It’s a powerful encounter for our group of 20, one of many that bring an unusual amount of conversation and intimacy to the tour. In one village we visit a local boatmaker and in another an after-school program, where a teacher sits us down with enthusiastic children to practice English. Another day, we leave the boat to hike up to Wat Hanchey, a Buddhist monastery, where two monks bless us and more questions. We also visit the riverside town of Konpong Louang, where silversmiths for the royal family weld and engrave, keeping traditional workmanship alive in a country facing rapid change from Chinese development. Our Vietnamese and Cambodian guides are happy to discuss both the tragedy and the beauty of their cultures. With easy smiles and occasional wisecracks, they escort us on outings using Tuk Tuks, pedicabs, boats, and ox-drawn carts, but rarely a soul-killing bus. We don’t run into other tour groups because Avalon’s cultural consultants constantly revise the itinerary to avoid them. Of course, there are times when crowds are inevitable. But who can be bothered by them at the Royal Palace at Phnom Penh, with its soaring Khmer towers, silver pagoda, and massive murals depicting the Ramayana or, for that matter when visiting a killing field outside the city that manages to both darken our day and enlighten us in a visceral way about tyranny and history. Disembarking on the tranquil Tonle Sap—a 10,000-square-mile lake and home to floating communities with schools and churches rising from the dark water—we say goodbye to the Avalon Saigon. Angkor Wat, with its massive gray sandstone Buddha heads, conical towers rising from the jungle, earns its reputation as the world’s greatest ruin and favorite of Jackie Kennedy. But a final visit of the tour, to Les Artisans d’Angkor in bustling Siem Reap, where at-risk adults have been trained to sculpt the heads of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, paint and lacquer images of traditional Aspara dancers, weave silk, and weld jewelry, leaves a hopeful impression of a recovering culture that values not just tradition but detail. The same, I’d say, is true of our intimate, meticulously crafted journey.
Carnival Cruise Line received “Best Service” and “Best Nightlife” honors in Cruise Critic’s 11th annual Editors’ Picks Awards in the Ocean Cruise Line category. This honor marks the second consecutive year that Carnival has earned “Best Service” honors.
The awards are selected by a global panel of cruise experts from Cruise Critic, the world’s largest cruise reviews site and online cruise community. Based on first-hand experience and cruise industry knowledge, the experts identify . . .READ MORE
Glancing at a menu in Italy nearly always inspires visions of grand dinners with mouthwatering specialties cascading out of a rustic and homey kitchen: carpaccio di manzo, involtini di melanze alla chiotta, gnocchi al pesto, risotto all’ aragosta, insalatine di campo, osso buco alla Milanese and on it goes. When you travel in Italy, you quickly discover that there is a very specific structure to dining that has been cultivated over the centuries – it’s not simply salad, pasta and check, . . .READ MORE
When you take time to create a good travel plan, it really does pay off. You have saved a lot of money by planning out things like transportation, so that you can enjoy your vacation with a little extra cash in your pocket. Like with any plan, you can always add and improve. Below are some tips to help.
Write your contact information down, and tape it inside of your suitcase. Having your information available inside the bag . . .READ MORE
In a nod to Carnival Cruise Line’s rich history as America’s Cruise Line, the line announced today that it will name its new XL-class ship to be delivered in 2020 Mardi Gras, bringing back to the fleet the name of the first Carnival Cruise Line® ship that entered service in 1972 and started the wave of cruise vacation popularity in the United States.
In keeping with its tradition of fun, Carnival revealed the name to a nationwide television audience on the popular game show Wheel of Fortune . . .READ MORE
Imagine a voyage that brings you Italy the way it was meant to be experienced: savored slowly like a multi-course feast in nonna’s trattoria where time seems to stop and every morsel carries with it the sensuous beauty of the local culture, history, art – and timeless way of life. Imagine beginning with the magnificence of Venice and sailing south to explore the green emeralds of Le Marche and Umbria before reaching Puglia, the sun-drenched heel of Italy known for its crowd-free dramatic scenery, . . .READ MORE
From the crystal-clear azure blue seas and sun-kissed beaches to ancient ruin-filled cities, exotic locales and some of the best culture and cuisine the world has to offer, the Mediterranean has it all. When it comes to choosing a cruise to this enchanting part of the world, your main problem will be which one to select. Here are a few tips on where to go, when to leave and why (as if an excuse is needed) – leave the how up to Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Carnival Cruise Line earned a Silver Award for Best Cruise Line for Families and a Bronze in the Best Cruise Line Onboard Entertainment categories in Recommend magazine’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards, the publication announced today.
Recommend’s audience of travel advisors voted for their favorite destinations, hotels and resorts, tour operators, cruise lines, rail vacations, car rentals, airlines and host agencies to determine the winners in each category.
Our EXC In-Depth Voyage reached Vava’u, the port where the first zodiac tour took place! EXC In-Depth Marine Scientist and Naturalist Cristiana Damiano and EXC In-Depth Leader Chris Cook sent some details about the adventure, as well as Field Notes from Dravuni. Enjoy this installment, and stay tuned as the ship heads to New Zealand.
We could not have wished for a better location and perfect day to launch our EXC In-Depth Zodiac program! As Maasdam prepared to drop anchor . . .READ MORE