Haunting & Haunted Castles for Your Travel List

For those who relish the end of October for its spooky sounds and sights; and who love a juicy ghost story, we have the perfect travel bucket list for you. Before the term “witch hunt” arrived in Salem, and royal scandals hit the modern tabloids, they were central themes of fortresses and castles throughout the world, and they brought drama so significant that the legends are still being told more than a thousand years later… in some cases, by the spirits of those involved. These haunted castles go far beyond the glowing pumpkins and twisted webs of the season. Their histories create a collective horror story that continues to captivate travelers as they explore some of the globe’s most beautiful locales – a juxtaposition that often only enhances the ominous experiences.

Indeed, it is often the world’s darkest stories that hold the most fascination, particularly in the instance of knights and queens, hidden chambers and remaining spirits. This fascination extends beyond October festivities, as travelers can sate their appetites for ghostly experiences throughout the year aboard Crystal Ocean, River or Yacht Expedition sailings. Here are some of the most haunting – and haunted – castles for your Crystal travel list:

Edinburgh Castle’s spirits come alive at night, according to legend.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland – We begin in Edinburgh, which has the distinction as the only destination on our list with two spooky castles to explore. First, Edinburgh Castle: known for creeping out even the most paranormally skeptic. Since its construction in the 9th century, the castle’s halls and dungeons have hosted many torturous activities, from alleged witches to plague victims. Once a complex network of underground vaults and tunnels was added in the 15th century, such activities increased. Reports of spirits roaming the grounds have included a headless drummer in the halls, a ghost dog meandering the castle graveyard (particularly on foggy nights), and the ghost of Lady Glamis, burned at the stake for witchcraft in 1537, who wanders the castle corridors at night.

The tunnels were hidden until a few hundred years ago, when a single piper was hired to navigate them and play his bagpipes constantly, in order for others to hear their location. The piper vanished during this investigation, leaving behind his bagpipes, and plenty of fuel for ghost stories.

Dalhousie Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland – Dalhousie Castle continues Edinburgh’s ghostly lore. The castle was home to a teenage Lady Catherine some 800 years ago. As with many teenagers, Lady Catherine was in love with a young man of whom her parents did not approve and forbade her to see. In her protest of their decision, Catherine locked herself in the top room of the castle and starved herself to death. In a twist both romantic and strange, the fact that Lady Catherine’s lovesick ghost roams the halls of this stately manor has made it one of the most popular destination hotels for modern day newlyweds and lovers.

Visit Edinburgh on Crystal Serenity’s “Irish Sea Soliloquy” sailing July 15, 2018.

The medieval Castle Eltz is nestled above the Moselle between Koblenz and Trier, Germany.

Eltz Castle, Germany – Eltz Castle, or Burg Eltz, sits overlooking the Moselle River in a majestic setting that belies its dark thousand-year history. Remarkably still owned by the same family that lived there in the 12th century, Eltz Castle was the home of Countess Agnes. Agnes allegedly died in defense of her home and her honor against an “undesirable suitor,” which makes the sight of her battleax and breastplate in her bedroom, which is open to visitors, even more imposing. The countess is said to still inhabit the castle that she died to save, joined by hundreds of royal knight spirits.

Eltz Castle is accessible from several towns along the Moselle River, including Koblenz and Cochem, Germany. Visit during a Crystal River voyage.

Houska Castle, Czech Republic – It’s not so much the paranormal that earns this castle a spot on the list, as much as its geographic location. Located about an hour north of Prague, the castle is said to be built atop the actual gateway to hell. In fact, it was built for the sole purpose of covering this portal. Of course, human curiosity being what it is, a deep tunnel into the earth was built so local people could assess the accuracy of this allegation, which they tested by lowering prisoners into the tunnel to report back about what they saw. One prisoner is said to have started frantically screaming after only a few seconds, and when he was raised back up, had aged 30 years.

Slovenia’s Predjama Castle is built into a vast cave, adding to its ominous presence on the hillside.

Visit Prague during a special pre-/post-cruise program aboard select Crystal River voyages.

Predjama Castle, Slovenia – Unlike many of the fairytale-ready façades of other castles included here, Predjama Castle just looks ominous. It’s built into the mouth of a cave, seeming to dare anyone to come inside. The castle has seen more than its share of vengeful and depraved activities, from being the hideout of a prolific robber on the run from the Holy Roman Empire, to the home of knight Erazem Lueger. The latter was notoriously evil, utilizing the hidden passages of Predjama Castle to torture his servants for fun and paranoia. Legend has it that those servants eventually revolted and killed Lueger within the castle. Sounds of footsteps within the walls are commonly reported.

Visit Predjama Castle during Crystal Esprit’s “Dreaming of Dalmatia” voyages along the Dalmatian Coast.

Larnach Castle, New Zealand – New Zealand’s only castle boasts the kind of romantic, tragic and scandalous history characteristic of most great love stories. Built by merchant baron and politician William Larnach in 1871 for his beloved first wife, Eliza, the castle boasts 43 rooms and a ballroom (which was added on later for his daughter, Katie’s, 21st birthday). Its perch on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin is ideal for sweeping romantic views enjoyed with your loved one, which is no doubt what Larnach envisioned when he chose the spot. After losing Eliza at age 38, then his daughter, Katie, in her early 20’s, the castle is said to have only brought Larnach pain. That ended with this suicide in 1898, and the castle today is said to be haunted with an “unhappy presence.”

Foggy weather adds to the mysterious romance of Larnach Castle’s former residents, and the coastal atmosphere on New Zealand’s Otago Peninsula.

Visit Larnach Castle during Crystal Symphony’s “New Zealand Explorer” voyage and other 2018 sailings.

Moosham Castle, Austria – Aptly referred to as Witches Castle, Moosham played host to the dramatic witch trials in Austria between the late 17th century and into the 1800’s. The blood of thousands of women accused of witchcraft was spilled in its dungeons during this period. And, in a strange turning of the tables, residents of the castle itself were later accused of – and killed for – being werewolves, due to the astonishing number of deer and cattle found dead in close proximity to the castle.

Visit Austria aboard 2018 Crystal River voyages.

Haunting discoveries of castles and other legends around the globe offer a chilling twist to the award-winning luxury of a Crystal voyage. We invite you to book now, and explore the dark lore for yourself.

The post Haunting & Haunted Castles for Your Travel List appeared first on CRYSTAL INSIDER.


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Richard Pruitt, a highly respected and seasoned cruise industry professional, has been named vice president, environmental operations at Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line effective November 20, 2017. He will report to Mark Jackson, senior vice president, technical operations, for Carnival Cruise Line.

As vice president of environmental operations, Pruitt will be focused on further strengthening and expanding the company’s shipboard and shoreside environmental programs and practices.

“Rich is extremely well respected in the industry and we’re thrilled to gain his exceptional knowledge, expertise and leadership,” said Jackson. “We look forward to tapping into his experience to ensure we maintain the highest level of operational standards.”

Previously Pruitt was at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. for 13 years, serving in a variety of positions, including associate vice president/vice president, safety and environmental stewardship and as the director and associate vice president of environmental programs. Most recently, Pruitt served as the principal and founder of RMP Sustainability, a company providing consulting services on environmental equipment marketing, compliance and sustainability initiatives to industry associations and companies.

Pruitt began his career in the U.S. Air Force where he spent 10 years as an Airborne Russian Linguist and Mission Supervisor. He then served for 13 years in the U.S Coast Guard in various roles, including program manager, passenger vessel safety and security.

Since 2010 Pruitt has been an active guardian ad litem for the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, Florida, and has served on the board/executive committee of several organizations, including Florida Ocean Alliance, Florida Sea Grant Advisory Council, Florida Oceans and Coastal Council, U.S. N.O.A.A. National Marine Sanctuary Business Advisory Council, International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators and the North American Marine Environment Protection Association. He was chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association’s Maritime Safety and Environmental committees, and founding board member of Voices for Children Broward.

Pruitt holds an Environmental MBA from Florida Atlantic University, a BA degree in Management from National Louis University and an AA degree in Russian Interpreting from the Community College of the Air Force.

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Artist Loft: A Floating Art Utopia

By Artist-in-Residence Noel Suarez

It is hard to believe that I’ve already done seven Artist-in-Residences aboard Riviera this year. Next month, I’ll be boarding Marina in Rome to begin my last three 2017 voyages. It always goes quickly, but I can’t think of a better use of my time and talent. For guests who haven’t yet experienced Oceania Cruises’ Artist-in-Residence program, it’s an amazing experience – the ideal situation for an artist to create, and share work and techniques with the guests on board. I call this a floating “Art Utopia,” and it only happens aboard Oceania Cruises.

After 4 years and almost 50 voyages, I’m often overwhelmed with the number of guests attending my classes. Some guests I see again and again. When you’re on board and take advantage of the Artist Loft, not only do you have the chance to expand your creativity and commemorate your voyage in a lasting way, you gain insight into the artist’s work. This connection with my creativity, techniques and subject matter evolves, and a great deal of guests who join my workshops become collectors. 

Next month, I’m excited be back on board Marina. I’m looking forward to visiting more amazing places in the Mediterranean – my favorite part of the world. And to give you a sneak preview of what I have in store for my classes, the subject matter will based on the inspiration for the works in my new collection. It will be special to share this with the guests on board, especially since the paintings that I’ll be creating for the classes will also become part of the “Siluetas” Collection! 

See you at Marina‘s Artist Loft next month, and be sure to watch my onboard video here!

Ancient Footsteps | November 7, 2017: Rome to Barcelona

Spotlight on Spain | November 21, 2017: Barcelona to Barcelona

Pathway to Sunshine | December 3, 2017: Barcelona to Miami

The post Artist Loft: A Floating Art Utopia appeared first on Oceania Cruises Blog.

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Oceania Marina 17
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Image by Ralph Grizzle

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Carnival Corporation Raises Record $338,500 for American Cancer Society


Carnival Foundation, the charitable arm of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world’s largest leisure travel company, held its second Relay For Life fundraiser Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, for American Cancer Society.

The event surpassed Carnival Foundation’s goal and raised more than $ 338,500 through individual employee fundraising and a donation from the foundation. Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine donated an additional $ 100,000 to the campaign through the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation.

The event was attended by Carnival Corporation Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald, Carnival Cruise Line Chief Operating Officer Gus Antorcha and American Cancer Society Chief Executive Officer Gary Reedy. Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald served as event host, and Carnival Cruise Line Senior Vice President Terry Thornton was the keynote Survivor Speaker representing cancer survivors.

“Nearly everyone is touched by cancer in some way, whether it’s personally or through a family member, friend or colleague, so it is a very worthy cause to help organizations like American Cancer Society raise the funds to fight this important fight,” said Linda Coll, executive director of the Carnival Foundation. “Our employees showed incredible dedication to Relay For Life these past few months, and we are proud to have exceeded our fundraising goal. We sincerely appreciate the collective efforts and everyone who came out to support our event.”

During the company’s Relay For Life, participants from teams made up of employees from Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Corporation took turns walking around the “track” outside of its headquarters in Doral, Fla., from noon to 7 p.m. The teams, each named after a different cruise destination, raised funds in the months leading up to the event.

The opening ceremony was a high-energy kickoff that celebrated the lives of those who have battled cancer, inspired hope and served as a reminder that fighting cancer is a year-round priority. Employee cancer survivors at the event were invited to take the first lap around the track to celebrate their recovery.

To bring an energetic vibe to Relay for Life, signature shipboard experiences from Carnival Cruise Line were brought ashore and entertained those who walked during the event, including Seuss-a-Palooza Parade, and versions of the popular Lip Sync Battle and the Love & Marriage game.

Relay For Life ended with an emotional Luminaria Ceremony that served as a time to remember people who succumbed to cancer, to support people who currently have cancer and to honor people who have fought cancer. Employees wrote the names of those who have fought or are currently fighting the battle against cancer on special bags, and the bags were illuminated to shine with hope for a cancer-free world.


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The Joys of Teaching in a Cambodian Village


Posted to Riptheroadway.com

As we approach the small open-air building that serves as a schoolhouse on this small island in Cambodia, we can hear excited greetings ringing out.

Voices of young children repeat “Welcome, family!” over and over as we approach and smiles grow on the faces of our group of three dozen travelers.

We are here with Avalon Waterways as part of the cruise line’s program for its voyage on the Mekong River.

Two girls eagerly wave for me to sit down. It’s Sunday, but kids come for special classes to learn English in remote villages like this one. The name of the village is Angkor Ban, but we could be in any number of similar locations along the river with towns that are home to inspiring and energetic children who love to learn.

We will be serving as teachers at the school, mainly focusing on helping the kids ages 7 to 12 learn the proper pronunciation of our tricky English words.

My students, ages 10 and 12, are eager to hear all about my life. The children in Cambodia are often much more outgoing and curious than their parents and grandparents. This becomes increasingly obvious during our voyage, whether meeting these kids at the schoolhouse or having encounters with them as we walk through other villages and towns along the Mekong.

Ary is 10 and Soriya is 12. They take turns asking for my biographical details. The questions are well-practiced.

“What is your name?”

“How old are you?”

“Where is your home?”

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

I ask the same questions and learn details of their lives. When I look up, I see the room full of students and adult visitors from the United States, Canada and New Zealand folded into tiny stools and hunched over tables. The classroom is a din of chatter as one-on-one lessons begin after the quick formalities.

I am supposed to be the tutor but, when I look down, I realize that I don’t need to give any particular directions. An open book has appeared on the desktop. While I had briefly glanced over the scene of the room, the girls had excitedly whipped out the stories and begun reading line by line, with little fingers tracing a path along the sentences.

I repeat words that they are struggling with and ask them to take turns reading a page instead of both reading at the same time. We find a rhythm and work on especially hard words like “would”, “could” and “three.”

I am stunned at how the children crave learning; Their smiles and earnest demeanors melt my heart. I am not the only one who finds the experience incredibly rewarding.

My fellow cruisers all beam and relate the stories of their interactions with these wonderfully upbeat children who live a land far away from theirs in much more humble conditions. But they have taught us more than we could ever hope to teach them in our too-brief hour together.

Some of us come to the front of the class and join youngsters reading sentences from a whiteboard. They giggle at the way the Americans can say the same word such as “tomato” differently than the Canadians and the Kiwis.

We hear from students who volunteer to come up and tell us all what they want to be when they grow up. Lawyers, doctors, footballers and tour guides are among the top picks.

However, “teacher” is repeated the most. My kids, Ary and Soriya, also have told me they want to be teachers when they are older.

All of these kids might not realize it, but they already are great educators, letting all of us who meet them learn that the most basic things like a happy outlook, warm spirit, love of family and a thirst for learning make you a richer person than any material possessions ever will.

The post The Joys of Teaching in a Cambodian Village appeared first on Avalon Waterways Blog.

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2015 – Main-Danube Canal – Low Headroom – 4 of 4
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Image by Ted’s photos – Returns Late November

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