A Local’s Europe: Places of My Youth, French Secrets & More

A Local’s Europe: Places of My Youth, French Secrets & More

By Damien LaCroix, General Manager

For me, the debut of a new season of voyages is always a time of excitement. There are so many new adventures and intriguing destinations in our new Europe & The Americas 2019 Collection – the breathtaking coastlines and stunning wildlife of Alaska, the fascinating history of Canada and New England, the island culture of Bermuda. But as a Frenchman, I’ll admit that our voyages in Europe hold a special place in my heart.

The Eternal Enchantment
Europe is an incredible concentration of many different flavors, which is one of the reasons it’s so enchanting. I’ll confess I may be a bit partial, but the landscapes, cultures, traditions and history are so rich in this part of the world. For me, it is fascinating to see the same places and witness the evolution of an area. Some places such corners of Provence and Tuscany are caught in time and stay as you remember: the same little café around the corner, the shop down the lane that’s been open for a century. Others will bloom and blossom. You have the comfort of coming home while also enjoying the excitement of exploring someplace new.

Traveling from one port to another is as easy as closing your eyes, quite literally. Your experience is breathtaking from the moment you open your curtain in the morning to the moment you step back into your suite ready to close your eyes and do it all over again. Add to that our cuisine – our chefs bring our ports of call to life on board through the amazing dishes they create.

A Frenchman’s Mediterranean
There are some places that remain special forever because of experiences you had there when you were younger. When I was growing up in Roussillon near Lyon, I always remember going to the Mont Saint Michel and visiting the old city of
Saint-Malo – these are such an atmospheric places and so dramatic. I remember the tides rolling in, the iconic outline of Mont Saint Michel, steaming hot crêpes, tromping the cobbled streets of the Old Town. In Antibes, we would always visit Le Marché Provençale, the colorful daily market filled with the region’s specialties; the Fort Carré d’Antibes, a 16th-century star-shaped fort; or just relax on the white sand beach. These two places of my youth hint at the variety of what you can enjoy in France, and always create a sense of nostalgia in me.

When going to Marseille, I always tell our guests to go to Les Calanques or the Cassis area – these are definitely the gems of the area. In one, you have these absolutely stunning cliffs and native flora and fauna as far as the eye can see, and in the other, the charming Vieux Port, pastel houses, terraced vineyards and delicious white Cassis wine. You can’t go wrong. In Rhodes, there are so many hidden restaurants around the main street. Taking a lane between two houses and finding a courtyard where you can have a drink or lunch surrounded by bougainvillea flowers is priceless. I have one which is next to – well, you’ll have to follow me to find out!

In the 2019, we have a few new destinations that I’m looking forward to exploring with guests, such as Castellón on the Orange Blossom Coast of Spain and Bodo, which is just north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. Regardless of where we sail in the region, returning to Europe each year is coming back home for me – it brings back the memories of my childhood, adventures with dear friends and the comfort in knowing family is never far away.

Start exploring the new voyages in our exciting Europe & The Americas 2019 Collection now, and I hope to welcome you aboard one of our ships in Europe very soon!

The post A Local’s Europe: Places of My Youth, French Secrets & More appeared first on Oceania Cruises Blog.

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The Caribbean is Open: New Photos of Barbados and St. Lucia

Following the recent hurricanes that moved through the Caribbean, the region is open for business and cruise ships are there now. To restore the confidence in travelers that the Caribbean islands we call at on our cruises are still providing an exceptional shoreside experience, Holland America Line sent world-renowned photographers to the islands and is enlisting our shipboard teams to capture daily images to show what our guests are seeing. And we’re sharing them with you! Here’s a glimpse at Barbados at St. Lucia taken this week.


Bathsheba Bay.

Bathsheba Bay.

Harrison's Cave.

Harrison’s Cave.

St. John Church.

St. John Church.

Carlisle Bay.

Carlisle Bay.

Sunbury Plantation.

Sunbury Plantation.





The famous Pitons.

Rodney Bay

Rodney Bay.



Soufriere Bay.

Soufriere Bay.

Diamond Falls and ziplining.

Diamond Falls and ziplining.

Stay tuned, we will have more images from additional ports to share!

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Unwrap a World of Disney Memories This Holiday Season – Or Any Occasion – With New Gift of Disney Vacations

Celebrate the Season of Giving by Sharing the Magic

BURBANK, Calif. — Ready to put a little pixie dust in your gift-giving this holiday season or any time of year? Give the gift of Disney!

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Disney has made it easier than ever to give magical Disney vacations, theme park tickets or special Disney experiences as gifts for those lucky friends and family on your gift list. The new GiveDisneyVacations.com website is the way to unwrap Disney memories that will last a lifetime. It takes the guesswork out of what to give. And there’s no worry about size, color or some assembly required.

It’s Easy to Gift an Entire Disney Vacation

For the first time ever, guests can select from a full portfolio of Disney destinations and experiences to gift — all in one, easy-to-navigate place. Guests can explore GiveDisneyVacations.com and open a dedicated feature page profiling each Disney destination available. From an unforgettable escape on an Adventures by Disney trip or a voyage aboard Disney Cruise Line, or a vacation at the sun-drenched beaches of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina Hawai’i to exciting Disney Vacation Club properties, the vacation gifting options are endless. Or gift them the experience of a lifetime with a visit to the enchanting world of magic and make-believe at the Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney Park Tickets and Gift Cards Offer More Gifting Options

The gift of Disney is the most magical gift of all. Big things – magical things – can come in small packages. GiveDisneyVacations.com offers guests a quick and easy option to gift just about any Disney experience with the purchase of Disney Gift Cards1. Imagine the joy on Christmas morning, birthday, anniversary, graduation, new baby or any occasion gifting a Disney experience. Disney Gift Cards can be redeemed for practically all-things Disney including merchandise, theme park tickets, dining experiences, entertainment, resort stays and experiences onboard Disney Cruise Line ships. And with the convenience of email, it makes for a great last-minute gift idea, too.

Guests can simply choose a Card design, activate and give the gift of Disney magic. Cards themselves are like a Disney vacation in your pocket, colorfully designed in Disney themes from Mickey at Christmas to Minnie and Mickey for Valentine’s Day, Goofy to Donald, Pirates to Princesses.

Cards may be purchased in set amounts of $ 25 up to $ 150, plus denominations of $ 200, $ 300 and $ 500. The activated Card with amount specified can even be e-delivered to the gift recipient or for a memorable unwrapping moment sent via traditional mail, enclosed in a themed gift card holder. The Card ships free to any U.S. address, when standard shipping is selected.

Regardless if mailed or shared as an eGift, senders can pair the Card with a personalized message. And because the Disney Gift Card charges no fees and never expires, senders can gift friends and family worry-free and let the magic begin.

For a Limited Time Only:

At Walt Disney World Resort, it easier than ever this holiday season to unwrap the magic of a Disney vacation with a gift beyond belief. Through Nov. 15, guests may purchase a Walt Disney World Resort vacation – a 6-night/7-day room and ticket package for a family of four for travel throughout 2018 — with rates as low as $ 96 per person, per day at a select Disney’s All-Star Resort2. And you’ll get a specially designed gold-trimmed gift box that includes limited-edition Magic Bands for your group to mark the special occasion3. What an exciting time to make it a Walt Disney World vacation, too, with the much acclaimed Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and exciting openings on deck, including Toy Story Land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in summer 2018.

At the Disneyland Resort, guests continue to enjoy the thrilling, new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disney California Adventure Park, and the beloved nighttime spectacular “Fantasmic!” at Disneyland Park, now more brilliant than ever. This holiday season, anyone can give the gift of a Disneyland experience to family or friends with a special offer to visit early in the new year. A package priced from $ 144 per person, per day, for a family of four includes a 3-day/2-night hotel stay, along with park tickets and hotel dining certificates4. Guests also receive a fun surprise prior to arrival. Booking is available from Nov. 16 to Nov. 27, 2017 for travel on select nights from Jan. 7 to Feb. 1, 2018. And even more magic is on the way in 2018!

Beyond the theme parks, there are even more magical offerings to make your family’s holiday wishes come true. Enjoy winter in paradise at Aulani Resort with savings up to 30 percent on 5-night stays in select ocean view rooms, plus receive $ 50 resort credit per night when you book your stay before Oct. 25, 2017. Or, why not give your family something they can enjoy for years to come – the gift of Disney Vacation Club Membership. Now through Oct. 31, 2017, you can save $ 2,600 or more on membership at select Disney Vacation Club Resorts.  

For more information and more detailed information about the variety of Disney experiences available, visit GiveDisneyVacations.com.


1Disney Gift Card: The Disney Gift Card can be used at select participating locations at Walt Disney World® Resort, Disneyland® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store locations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, shopDisney.com, DisneyPhotoPass, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Beach Resorts.  It cannot be used toward the purchase of a Disney Vacation Club®Membership. Visit DisneyGiftCard.com for complete terms and conditions. Additional restrictions may apply.

2Walt Disney World Resort: Sample price is based on 2 adults, 1 junior and 1 child in a standard room at a select Disney’s All-Star Resort for stays most nights 1/2–2/10, 2/25–3/8, 4/8–5/24, 8/12–10/4, 10/8–11/16 and 11/24–12/13/18. The number of rooms allocated for this package may be limited. Tickets valid for one Theme Park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. First use must be by December 31, 2018. All prices are in U.S. dollars.

3MagicBand: Your package includes a special Walt Disney World MagicBand and gift box. To receive these items in home by December 15, please create or sign into your My Disney Experience account in My Disney Experience at DisneyWorld.com, link your resort package reservation, verify your address, and customize the MagicBands no later than December 1, 2017.

4Disneyland Resort: Price is based on 3 adults and 1 child (age 3-9) for a 2 night stay in a standard room at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel most Sunday – Thursday nights from 1/7/18 through 2/1/18 plus 3-Day, 1-Park per Day Disneyland® Resort Tickets with Disney MaxPass per person and two (2) $ 20 Disneyland Resort Dining Certificates per reservation. Total package price starting from $ 1,728. Excludes applicable taxes and fees. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Walt Disney Travel Co. CST# 1022229-50.

Disney Cruise Line News

Disney Cruise Line
disney cruise line
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The anticipation surrounding Crystal Symphony’s grandest makeover in her history is definitely building. We can almost taste it. Which, let’s face it, is one of the best parts of a Crystal cruise – the delectable cuisine prepared by our expert culinary teams. As the dining experience aboard Crystal Symphony is enjoying a dramatic redesign at the moment, we’re looking forward to welcoming you to the proverbial table to indulge in the reimagined journey of flavors that awaits.

But it’s not only what will be served on board that is noteworthy emerging from this dry dock. The when and where are significant, too, as for the first time ever, Crystal debuts Open Seating in its all-inclusive, world-class restaurants. With the abundance of choices of eateries available to you throughout your days and evenings on board, we’re sharing some of the top things to keep in mind while planning your reservations (or lack thereof) for your voyage. We wouldn’t want you to miss one bite…

The entrance foyer to the brand new Waterside restaurant on Crystal Symphony’s Deck 5.

Here’s what you need to know:


Waterside – Formerly known as the Crystal Dining Room. Still the main spot for elegant dining with classic specialties and modern gastronomy, this Deck 5 restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch service will continue in the same schedule previously offered, but for dinner, guests will dine at their leisure from 6 to 9:30 p.m.; no reservations will be accepted.

Marketplace – Formerly the Lido Café, this daytime venue serves up casual ambiance and buffet style breakfast and lunch specialties. Dine at your leisure, as no reservations are accepted.

Churrascaria – The evening transformation of Marketplace, Churrascaria turns up the flavor for dinner, serving tapas and ceviche, traditional Brazilian seafood and grilled meats, and offering tableside carving service. Dinnertime hours from 6 to 9 p.m. will not accept reservations, so indulge as you wish.

“I PREFER TO PLAN.” Reserve your table at these venues via Priority Check-in & Planning Center (PCPC)

Silk Kitchen & Bar – Moving in adjacent to the Trident Grill, Silk Kitchen & Bar prepares the comfort food of the Far East, serving Chinese specialties family style. Breakfast and lunch will offer self-service of traditional Chinese favorites – dumplings, dim sum, noodles, meat-filled crepes and soups. For the dinner hours between 6 and 9 p.m., cuisine is served family style, and reservations are required.

Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa aboard Crystal Symphony

Umi Uma & Sushi Bar – A fresh rebranding of Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, the specialty dining venues by Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The restaurant will continue to serve the inspired cuisine of Nobu, prepared by his personally trained chefs, and will remain the only Nobu restaurants at sea. Reservations for specialty restaurants (including Prego) are always required.

Vintage Room – These intimate winemaker’s dinners accommodate just 12 guests around the elegant table, serving several curated courses that pair with wines selected by Crystal’s expert sommeliers. Reserve your seat at the table, or book the entire dinner for yourself and you 11 closest wine-loving travel mates.


Guests who wish to dine at the same table, with the same service staff each evening?

As part of the evolution of Crystal Symphony’s dining experience, the new Open Seating concept effectively eliminates Main and Late Seating, and Dining by Reservation, meaning that no standing table assignments exist. Guests are accommodated on a first come, first served basis, and guest table and service requests will be accommodated whenever possible.

Single guests who don’t wish to dine alone?

We will continue the tradition of offering dining company for our solo guests. An invitation will be sent to all single guests to dine with their fellow travelers at a preset time and restaurant.

Guests who prefer to dine in their staterooms?

Crystal’s 24-hour in-room dining will continue, featuring menus from Waterside for all guests, as well as menus from Umi Uma & Sushi Bar and Prego for Penthouse guests.

Guests who enjoy meeting new travelers over dinner, as it was done when the Maitre D’ assigned guests to tables for eight with other diners?

We will still offer the opportunity for couples and groups to join together at larger tables. Wait staff will identify tables for such occasions and invite interested parties at specific times to join these tables.

Guests who enjoy the Officers’ hosting program?

We will continue the tradition of offering tables in Waterside hosted by Crystal Symphony officers on two to three nights of the cruise, depending on the length of the itinerary. As in the past, assignment to hosted tables will not be permanent.

The countdown is on for the reveal of Crystal Symphony’s evolution! Book your voyage now and look forward to the posh new spaces that await you on board. And make your reservations (or don’t!) to enjoy the finest cuisine at sea. *Dining hours are subject to change.



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HAL Wins Awards for O, The Oprah Magazine Partnership, Rudi’s Sel de Mer and Alaska Cruises

Holland America Line recently collected a trio of awards from Seatrade Europe, AFAR Media and Kreuzfahrt Traume that recognized the brand’s marketing initiatives, Alaska cruises and culinary excellence, respectively.

Holland America Line’s partnership with O, The Oprah Magazine won the 2017 Seatrade Cruise Award for Marketing Initiative of the Year; the AFAR Travelers’ Choice Cruise Awards recognized the line’s Alaska Cruises; and Rudi’s Sel De Mer was given the International German Cruise Award for Best New Restaurant Concept by German publication Kreuzfahrt Traume.

“We are always deeply honored when our brand is recognized for an initiative we worked tirelessly to develop or an experience that elevates who we are and what we deliver,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Thank you to the readers and decision-makers from Seatrade, AFAR and Kreuzfahrt Traume who awarded us with these three prestigious honors.”

Seatrade Europe Recognizes O, The Oprah Magazine Partnership
Holland America Line’s partnership with O, The Oprah Magazine earned the 2017 Seatrade Cruise Award for Marketing Initiative of the Year. The new award recognized the cruise line’s onboard programming that was designed to unite the soul-stirring power of travel with the magazine’s deep commitment to connection and personal growth.

O Magazine cruise shirts.

Five special theme cruises feature exclusive programming developed with the magazine’s editors, along with guest motivational speakers and one very special cruise that Oprah Winfrey sailed on in July 2017. Additionally, more than 300 cruises sailing from North America through the remainder of 2017 and 2018 have a variety of inspiring and engaging activities that bring the magazine to life on board.

AFAR Alaska

AFAR Audience Names Holland America Line’s Alaska Cruises Number-One
In the AFAR Travelers’ Choice Cruise Awards, Holland America Line earned top accolades for its Alaska cruises. This is the first year AFAR Media broke their esteemed awards into three categories: hotel, cruise and destinations. More than 130,000 votes were received in the cruise category alone, and Holland America came out as number-one in the Alaska Cruise Line category.

In 2017 Holland America Line celebrated its 70th year as a leader in Alaska exploration. The line’s award-winning Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys are the heart of the company’s global itineraries, and every itinerary is highlighted by scenic cruising of Alaska’s Inside Passage and one or more of Alaska’s famous glaciers and fjords.

Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys combine a three-, four- or seven-day Inside Passage or Glacier Discovery cruise with in-depth overland tours to the Yukon and Alaska’s interior. Holland America Line is the only cruise company to weave must-see sites such as Denali National Park — the centerpiece of every Land+Sea Journey — with seldom-seen ones, such as Dawson City, in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush Country.

Rudi’s Sel De Mer Wins Best New Restaurant Concept
German publication Kreuzfahrt Traume named Rudi’s Sel de Mer Best New Restaurant Concept at the International German Cruise Awards. First launched on ms Koningsdam as a stand-alone venue, Rudi’s Sel de Mer recently debuted as a pop-up in the Pinnacle Grill on several ships in the Holland America Line fleet, and will expand to the entire fleet next year. The specialty restaurant was created and named for the cruise line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, who conceived and developed the concept.

Rudi's sel de mer

For Rudi’s Sel De Mer, Sodamin created Food Faces art for the exclusive show plates made by Bernardaud. Each plate portrays an image of a work of art crafted from food.

Rudi’s Sel de Mer is built around a menu of classic French Mediterranean dishes with a contemporary twist, featuring locally sourced seafood. The setting is an intimate brasserie with custom décor, plates, menus and uniforms reflecting the ambiance. Guests can indulge in a diverse selection of dishes over several courses that includes Rudi’s Seafood Tower, Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, Fruits de Mer, Duck Cassoulet, Soufflé au Fromage, Salt Crust Baked Branzino and desserts like Crêpes Suzette, Profiteroles with Hot Chocolate Sauce and Rudi’s famed Souffle – a version of the Salzburger Nockerl.

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