Tag Archives: Winter

Escape the Winter Chill on a Caribbean Cruise That Includes a Call at Cap Cana

If the frigid temperatures have you longing for a tropical escape, we’ve got just the place — Cap Cana, Dominican Republic. Positioned on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, this dreamy destination offers a posh and cosmopolitan vibe with a vibrant Dominican flair.

Home to white-sand beaches, picturesque golf courses and an exclusive marina featuring gourmet restaurants and upscale boutiques, Cap Cana is what Caribbean dreams are made of! Whether you’re looking to kickback and relax or go on an exhilarating adventure, Cap Cana has something for everyone to love. Read on below to discover more about this tropical gem.

Golf Course

Tee off at one of the most picturesque courses in the world. All fairways feature water views; eight holes are positioned seaside. The par 72 course designed by Jack Nicklaus is consistently voted the best in the region! The clubhouse restaurant, Bella Vista, set by the 18th hole, offers spectacular views of the sparkling ocean and pristine fairways. The menu is a mix of classic club offerings — salads and sandwiches — and excellent Mexican fare.

Scape Park

This ecological park is guaranteed to impress! Made up of stunning sea-facing cliffs, a dense jungle interior and a pristine golden shoreline that hugs the fish-teeming waters — Scape Park is an adventurer’s paradise. Visitors to the park choose from an extensive list of exciting activities that include sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, zip lining and buggy rides. For younger children there’s even a petting zoo! However, perhaps the most unique offering is Hoyo Azul, a cenote (limestone cave) with a crystalline pool where you can enjoy a relaxing swim!


This island nation is well known for its rum — and its cigars. The best puros are made from aged tobacco and hand rolled, and this boutique company prides itself on small, quality productions. By request, tours take visitors through the 40 steps of cigar making. They include tobacco selection, as well as rolling and pressing. The shop at the factory is the best bet for fresh cigars, which make for great souvenirs.

Juanillo Beach

On the eastern edge of the island near Cap Cana sits a pretty strand of gleaming sand. Shaded by a collection of swaying palm trees and lapped by calm waters, this beach has all the makings of a Caribbean daydream come true. Better yet, Juanillo Beach is blissfully crowd-free and features a chic beachfront restaurant with loungers, cabanas and excellent service completes the ocean oasis. You can see why it would be easy to just stay here all day!

Api Beach

This casual Cap Cana eatery is the kind of place where you can order an ice-cold beer and chat up the bartenders with your toes in the sand. Visitors and locals come for the laid-back atmosphere, ceviche, grilled fish and burgers and stay for the stellar views and impeccable service.

Altos de Chavon

There’s something for everyone at this replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village. In addition to shops and restaurants, there’s an archaeological museum filled with local artifacts from the pre-Columbian era. There are galleries featuring works by local artists, as well as by students at the on-site design school, an affiliate of the prestigious Parsons School of Design. An enormous amphitheater hosts international acts; you may even catch a performance by Julio Iglesias … the Spanish crooner has a home in Cap Cana!

Cap Cana.

If an escape to warmer climate isn’t incentive enough, our View and Verandah promo makes it the perfect time for you to book. From 7 to 18-day itineraries, you’ll find a variety of amazing Caribbean cruises that include a call at this luxurious port.

Which of these Cap Cana attractions would be a must for you? Tell us in the comments below!

Holland America Blog

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Crystal Esprit is currently sailing the idyllic islands of the West Indies, with guests on board soaking in the sunshine and blissful tranquility that can only be found on a yachting holiday in the tropics. If you’re among the many wanderlusters in the world who, by contrast, are currently soaking in the chilly (yet festive) currents of the winter season, we have a list for you. This is the very best kind of “to do” list – the kind that doubles as a wish list – as it features the very most daydream-worthy experiences that await you in the West Indies, according to our very own team of Crystal experts.

Nevis Peak and the Four Seasons at Pinney’s beach welcome Crystal Esprit every Saturday.

Every adventure on this list has been meticulously planned to showcase the quintessentially exotic lifestyle of the islands, as well as the privileged access that Crystal guests enjoy during their voyages. The yacht’s itineraries round-trip from Marigot are rife with indulgences that will warm your holiday, posing one singular challenge: narrowing the selection to only five “top” experiences. We’ve left this challenge to the very experts who designed the excursions with your sense of adventure in mind, leaving the only remaining task for you deciding which of Crystal Esprit’s upcoming winter and spring West Indies sailings to book.

Here they are, the top 5 West Indies adventures as chosen by our experts. Which ones top your to-do list?

Two-tank scuba dive for certified divers (Saba) – Experienced divers take note: Saba is an underwater wonderland. And, thanks to decades of careful protection by the Saba Marine Park, you’ll encounter some of the most thriving and vibrant sea life in the region, including healthy corals, nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, schools of jacks, seahorses, green turtles and much more. Of course, the expert guidance and first-class service of your instructors make the experience extra special.

An aerial view of Falmouth Bay, Antigua

Montserrat volcano views by helicopter (Falmouth Harbor, Antigua) – While there are no unimpressive views of the active Soufrière Hills Volcano, perhaps the most awe-striking is that from above. Take in this unique close-up perspective from the skies, which also affords a look at the villages affected by historical eruptions.

Caribbean cooking & rum tasting (Basseterre, St. Kitts) – Natural beauty and mouthwatering spice are integral to the region, and you’ll find both in abundance during this outing. On the lush grounds of the Fairview Greathouse and Botanical Gardens you’ll be immersed in Caribbean history. Then, in the kitchen of the Greathouse, you’ll be elbow deep in jerk and Creole flavors, which you’ll enjoy post-preparation, followed by a tasting sampler of local rums.

A day of golf at Four Seasons Nevis Resort (Pinney’s Beach) – Just as paradise-picture-perfect as it sounds, you’ll enjoy premier access to this luxury resort and its championship course as you tee off along the coastline.

Sandy Cruz trail hike (Saba) – Trek through the mountain trails, farmland and lush flora of Saba National Park on an invigorating two-and-a-half-hour hike that will refresh you with each step. Of course, you’ll be rewarded with postcard-worthy vistas at every turn, and the fragrant tropical blooms and melodic sounds of treetop birds will simply enchant you.

*Bonus pick! Thanks to an exclusive agreement, Crystal Esprit offers privileged access to the private beach on Sir Richard Branson’s Moskito Island during weekly visits. Your hammock awaits…

These and dozens more complimentary and optional experiences ashore are set for Crystal Esprit’s West Indies season. Book your Crystal Yacht Expedition cruise today, and pre-reserve your top adventures online.



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Your Choice This Winter: Eastern or Western Caribbean?

When it comes to planning a cruise in the Caribbean, it’s hard to make a wrong decision as every destination offers something of interest – idyllic beaches, diverse activities and cultural attractions – and all unique and distinctive as the islands themselves. Perhaps the biggest choice is whether to cruise the crystal clear waters of the East or the azure waters of the West.

Regent Seven Seas CruisesHeavenly Sunsets itinerary offers a ten-day voyage through some of the Eastern jewels of the Caribbean – St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. John, St. Bart’s and Nassau. A stop in St. Kitt’s lively capital of Basseterre offers a look at the city’s historical colonial past (National Museum, St. George’s Anglican Church and Independence Square) as well as a chance to snorkel, sunbathe and windsurf. The “Mother Colony of the West Indies” known as St. John is particularly notable for its Rainforest Conservatory complete with waterfalls, Mayan influenced sculptures and a variety of flora. And as one of the smallest of the trio of US Virgin Islands, calm and tranquility make it the perfect hideaway.


Gustavia, the capital of St. Barthelémy a.k.a. St. Bart’s, is the ultimate spot for sophisticated jet setters. Long known as a playground for the rich and famous, the French-speaking island offers glam in abundance with some of the most luxurious boutiques and restaurants in the Caribbean –and prices to match. And when you’re tired of shopping, shell hunting on the aptly named brown sands of Shell Beach is free.


Nassau marks the final stop where a viewing of flamingos at Ardastra Gardens & Zoo, a swim in the blue waters of Western Esplanade Beach or a visit to the outdoor Straw Market for souvenirs is the perfect way to spend the day.


For a tour of the West, the Tropical Essence ten-day cruise highlights destinations in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Cayman Islands and Key West. The popular city of Cozumel in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a diver’s haven, thanks to the underwater reef gardens and fauna as well as a great place for rappelling, zip lining and swimming with the dolphins. And if it’s land activities you are seeking, check out the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio.


With its coral reef filled with tropical fish, the Honduran island of Roatán also offers some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world. And while we are on the subject of the best, Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach was named one the ultimate beaches by Caribbean Travel and Life where diving is the perfect place to spot a stingray or two.

Located on the southern tip of the Florida Keys, Key West is famous for its active Margaritaville style nightlife, historical sites and the former playground of writer Ernest Hemingway. After a morning of sailing, kayaking and shopping, be sure to explore the island’s unique architecture via a walking tour and catch the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (and perhaps say hello to a six-toed cat or two).  And finally, a visit to the town’s irreverent cemetery reflects the off-beat nature of Key West where “I told you I was sick” is one of the many gravestone epitaphs.


Whether you choose Eastern or Western Caribbean, an all-inclusive voyage aboard the world’s most luxurious ship is sure to be unforgettable.

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Sail Away to a Magical Winter Holiday with Disney Cruise Line

CELEBRATION, Fla. – This holiday season, give a gift that’s both nautical and nice: a cruise on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, all decked out with holiday cheer. Starting early November, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship during Very Merrytime Cruises, with traditional “turkey day” fanfare, Christmas feasts, “snow flurries” and New Year’s Eve galas. But the best part might just be relaxing on deck instead of shoveling snow.

During these voyages through the new year, special stem-to-stern holiday events include:

  • “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” in the atrium lobby on the first night of the cruise, where Disney characters lead holiday carols and the lighting of the glittering, three-deck-tall tree.
  • “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” in the atrium lobby, where Disney cruisers welcome the guests of honor, Santa and Mrs. Claus, with a grand celebration featuring Broadway-style entertainment, favorite Disney characters and classic holiday tunes. This evening of enchantment is made complete when a special pair of royal sisters joins the party and causes a flurry of “frozen” fun as a magical snowfall overtakes the atrium.
  • Dickens-inspired carolers carrying the spirit of the holidays throughout the ship while singing holiday classics, sometimes with the help of favorite Disney friends. At the end of the cruise, children will have the opportunity to join the carolers onstage for a special farewell show.
  • Family holiday activities including building gingerbread houses and meeting Santa Claus.
  • Youth holiday crafts such as decorating stockings and gingerbread men cookies, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cells.
  • “Deck the Deck Holiday Party,” a tropical celebration with Disney friends leading games such as hula hooping and limbo under oversized candy canes, along with dances for the whole family like the “Yuletide Slide” and a conga line around the pool.
  • A special holiday edition of the cheerful farewell celebration on the final night of the cruise, with beloved Disney characters and the ship’s crew in an engaging musical finale led by Mickey Mouse.

On Thanksgiving Day, guests will enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving Day feast and visits from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. Also during the special Thanksgiving voyages, NFL football games will be broadcast live on the ships’ outdoor, jumbo LED screens – Funnel Vision – located near the family pool.

Christmas morning at the atrium lobby tree Santa Claus and his helpers will have a surprise for all the kids, and guests will delight in a special musical performance from the children. A traditional Christmas Dinner will be served that night in the dining rooms.

Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah services will be held each day, Dec. 12 to Dec. 20.

Special holiday décor adorns each ship from bow to stern, anchored by a three-deck-tall tree in the atrium lobby. The 20’ tall tree is uniquely decorated to complement the existing colors and overall theme of the lobby, including a custom star that is as unique as the ship. All together, the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Dream have 402 garlands totaling 3,768’, 126 wreaths ranging from 24” to 60” and 130 trees ranging from 24” to 8’.

When the ships stop at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, during the holidays, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday island music.

For an extra sprinkle of holiday joy, special amenities are available for stateroom delivery. Purchased in advance of sailing, these include holiday-themed gift packages and treat baskets and even mini Christmas trees decorated with ornaments, red berries, mini carnations and a bow topper. Plus, during the holiday cruises, the Disney Cruise Line holiday merchandise collection and ever-popular Disney Cruise Line ornaments will be available in the gift shops.

To ring in 2018, voyages during the holiday include a special New Year’s Eve party, complete with music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes and a midnight countdown.

To celebrate the holidays, the Disney Magic sails four-, five-, seven- and eight-night Bahamian cruises, five- night Eastern Caribbean cruises, and a five-night Western Caribbean cruise departing Nov. 11 to Dec. 24; the Disney Wonder sails seven-night Western Caribbean cruises, and seven-night Bahamian cruises departing from Nov. 10 to Dec. 22; the Disney Dream sails three- and four-night Bahamian cruises departing from Nov. 10 to Dec. 22; and the Disney Fantasy sails seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises departing from Nov. 11 to Dec. 23.

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

Disney Cruise Line News

I’ll Bet This View Never Gets Old
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Image by Peter E. Lee

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Looking to Get Away This Winter? Holland America’s Caribbean Cruises Are Calling

If you’re looking for a warm winter getaway, a Holland America Line Caribbean cruise is exactly what you need. The line’s elegant ships let guests experience the Caribbean in absolute comfort and style, sailing to some of the region’s most popular islands as well as some off-the-beaten-path jewels.

The Caribbean features something for everyone. For foodies, the diverse mix of cultural influences in the islands make for eclectic cuisine options. Adventurers can explore some of the world’s largest reefs or head to the only rain forest that is part of the U.S. forest system. And if all you want to do is dig your toes in the sand and listen to the crashing waves, the powdery white sand beaches will have you feeling like you’re living a dream.

Beginning in October, eight Holland America Line ships will cruise the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Florida. Among them — the line’s new flagship Koningsdam — sailing from a U.S. port for the first time since entering service in April. The ships will cruise itineraries ranging from four- to 21-days to the Bahamas, eastern, western and southern Caribbean, and will even take guests to beautiful island destinations during the holidays. If you’re not sure which one to choose, here’s some more information.

Half Moon Cay
Perhaps the highlight of all of Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruises is Half Moon Cay — featuring a blissful island experience unlike any other. This is Holland America Line’s own private island in the Bahamas, named Porthole Magazine’s “Best Private Island” 11 years in a row. Guests can spend the day in ultimate relaxation, basking on powdery beaches beside a crystal-clear sea. The island features plenty of water activities, waterfront bars and private beachside cabanas.

Try a water activity or just hang in the sand at Half Moon Cay.

Try a water activity or just hang in the sand at Half Moon Cay.

Eastern Caribbean
Eastern Caribbean islands include St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and the Turks & Caicos.

Grand Turk is the capital island of the Turks & Caicos. Its surrounding clear blue waters offer world-class snorkeling spots filled with beautiful reefs and abundant marine life. For divers, checking out some of the area’s popular wreck sites will be the highlight of their stay.

San Juan is the oldest U.S. territory.

San Juan is the oldest U.S. territory.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, founded in 1521 by Ponce De Leon, is the oldest city in U.S. territory. It makes for a beautiful vista as guests cruise in and sail by El Morro — the oldest Spanish Fort in the New World. You can explore the city’s many plazas, churches and gardens or head to Casa Bacardi, for a tour of one of the famous brand’s distilleries. If you’re looking for adventure, you can reach the only rain forest that belongs to the U.S. forest service, El Yunque.

Western Caribbean
Western Caribbean cruises include world-class diving opportunities and ancient Mayan ruins. Itineraries feature a mix of calls at Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Key West, Fla.; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; and Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala.

Get to know the locals at Grand Cayman.

Get to know the locals at Grand Cayman.

Georgetown has everything you would expect from a Caribbean hotspot: warm breezes, clear seas and an infectious, laid-back attitude. Here, guests can walk along the world-famous Seven Mile Beach or on the streets and stroll by historic sites and lush gardens. Those looking for adventure can head into the waters and enjoy a swim, snorkel or dive.

Roatán, Honduras, lies about 40 miles off the coast of the Central American country, sitting atop an ancient, exposed coral reef. For divers, this spot is conveniently located near the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. Mahogany Bay, where the ship will be, features white-sand beaches which can be reached by a scenic chairlift. Guests who opt to stay near the Mahogany Bay cruise center can shop for local art made of salvaged materials or visit the Stone Castle Cameo Factory that features cameos made of conch shells.

Explore the Kohundlich ruins at Costa Maya.

Explore the Kohundlich ruins at Costa Maya.

Costa Maya, Mexico, boasts dozens of Maya sites, some only recently rediscovered and excavated. These include pyramids, temples and ceremonial centers in places like Chacchoben and Kohunlick. Chacchoben features several pyramids that have been restored by archaeologists. On a tour, guests can climb the Grand Basement and learn about the wildlife and medicinal plants that are used by the modern-day descendants of the ancient Mayan people. Kohunlich features the popular Temple of the Masks, a pyramid flanked by large masks made of stucco.

Southern Caribbean Cruises
Southern Caribbean cruises feature off-the-beaten-track islands, not typically included on eastern and western Caribbean cruises, like St. Lucia, Martinique and Barbados, and further south the popular ABC islands of the Lesser Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

The ABC Islands all have their own character. Aruba is located just off the coast of Venezuela. Its capital, Oranjestad, is a maze of Dutch-colonial architecture painted in a palette of Caribbean pastels. Its California Lighthouse offers the best vistas of the northern section of the island. Popular souvenirs are jewelry and gold — which was mined here in the 19th century.

Bonaire is even more laid-back than other Caribbean islands and has a sleepy feel. It also boasts a stunning natural habitat with plenty of beautiful wildlife. The island has Amerindian, Spanish, African, Dutch and British influences, making it an interesting place for a stroll around town. You may hear Papiamento, the creole language spoken throughout the Netherlands Antilles, or some French and Portuguese.

Watch the flamingos wade and play in the salt flats at Bonaire.

Watch the flamingos wade and play in the salt flats at Bonaire.

Curaçao features a deepwater harbor, interlacing waterways and narrow shop fronts. Its capital of Willemstad features pastel neighborhoods highlighted by picturesque markets. The Hato Caves are one of the most famous sites here — beautiful limestone formations and caves. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring a fruit and vegetable market and beautifully colored merchant houses on the quayside.

Do you see the Dutch influence in Curacao?

Do you see the Dutch influence in Curacao?

Holland America Line’s ships begin to reposition to the Caribbean in October. Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Prinsendam, Rotterdam, Veendam and Zuiderdam will all sail from Port Everglades this winter. For more details on specific itineraries, click here.

Fourteen-day (and longer) Collectors’ Voyages combining shorter cruises to different regions are also available. For guests who find it more convenient to depart from Tampa, Florida, Oosterdam will sail a series of western and southern Caribbean cruises through March.

Have you been thinking of a warm winter getaway? Which cruise would you choose? Tell us in the comments below.

Holland America Blog

Cruiseship Koningsdam (Holland America Line), bij Rotterdam, 20 mei 2016
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Image by hemkes

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