Robert Q Travel Byron's Blog

'Fungi Fest' in the British Virgin Islands: It's Not About Mushrooms!
If you've never been to the British Virgin Islands, you might think their 'Fungi Fest' is a culinary event featuring mushrooms. Fungi (foon-gee) is actually the traditional folk music of the BVI’s. And it’s a lot more lively than edible fungus!

Also called 'scratch' music, according to BVI Tourism, fungi music is deeply rooted in African heritage, but also with Euroepan influences. It’s described as “a combination of string and percussion instruments complemented by woodwind and storytelling vocals.” Fungi is also the local music of the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

There is, in fact, a culinary connection – but still, no mushrooms! The name fungi comes from a BVI dish, ‘fungi and fish,’ a ‘cook-up’ including cornmeal, onions, peppers, and okra. The music/food connection comes from the idea that bringing together these different savory flavors creates something entirely new, just as a fusion of a wide range of instruments and styles of music created a new type of music.

Fungi music features a range of instruments, some even homemade. You may see and hear the distinct sounds of ukuleles, banjos, guitars and bass, as well as bongos, washboard, calabash, keyboards and saxaphones. It’s not just music to your ears – it’s music made to dance by!

Fungi music is a part of the way of life in the Virgin Islands, with the rhythms of fungi bands marking life milestones like weddings and celebrations as well as livening up local parties, hotel and resort evenings and restaurants.

Perhaps the best way to immerse yourself in the Virgin Islands’ fungi music tradition is to go ‘all in,’ at ‘Fungi Fest’ in Tortola in the BVI’s (pictured above, courtesy of BVITourism.) The annual, November music festival has returned to the BVI’s largest and most populated island. For two weeks, fungi bands from the Virgin Islands as well as Anguilla, Nevis and other surrounding islands light up the stage at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park. The Fungi Fest is part of the BVI’s broader Culture and Tourism Month.

If you haven’t ever visited the BVI’s, come for the fungi music and stay for the 60 islands and cays of this off-the-beaten-path archipelago in the Caribbean. In addition to Tortola, the gateway to the BVI’s, you may have heard whispers of sophisticated island travelers heading to Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke.

Those in the know consider the BVI’s the ‘sailing capital of the world,’ with annual regattas, boat and yacht charters, not to mention yacht-watching, as the international sailing set breeze in and out of port. You can base yourself on land, in exquisite resorts by Rosewood, Autograph Collection, Wyndham or exclusive boutique hotels and private islands – or ask your trusted travel advisor how you can split a trip to the British Virgin Islands between land and yacht. Small ship cruise lines also call at Tortola and let you sample a unique island life – complete with the rhythms of fungi.

Start your British Virgin Islands Trip!



By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/ travel expert and journalist



All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.







The World's Top Luxury Train Journey is Closer to Home Than You Think
The phrase ‘World’s Leading Luxury Train’ evokes images of glass-domed rail cars revealing breathtaking vistas, gliding through otherwise-inaccessible landscapes that awe pampered travelers within. It’s the romance of travel at its best – and it’s much easier to achieve than you may realize.

That’s because a passenger train company rather close to home has been awarded the title of ‘World’s Leading Luxury Train’ at the latest World Travel Awards. Of all the epic train journeys in all the most incredibly scenic places in the world… Rocky Mountaineer has rolled away with the title.

Based in Western Canada, Rocky Mountaineer is the largest, privately-owned upscale tourist train company in the world. It offers luxury rail journeys that showcase some of the most spectacular scenery the Great West – in both Canada and the United States - has to offer. From the perspective of the rails, you get to see a West you’ve never seen before, by air or road.

As its name suggests, Rocky Mountaineer was born to give travelers not just passage through, but a whole new perspective on the Rocky Mountains.


Three of the luxury train company’s routes connect Vancouver on the Pacific coast to the legendary Canadian Rockies national parks towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, traveling over the Rockies themselves and through scenery unparalleled anywhere in the world, past misty waterfalls where no humans roam, to the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, even “Hell’s Gate!”

The legendary rail route ‘First Passage to the West’ between Banff/Lake Louise and Vancouver is the only passenger train service today on this historic rail route that famously was the first connection from East to West.

A spectacular fourth route travels between Denver, Colorado and Moab, Utah in the Southwest United States (pictured, top). In this rail “Journey to the Red Rocks,” spellbound guests are treated to views only seen by train of vast canyons, inspiring deserts, natural archways and enchanting hoodoos, including Ruby Canyon, and Mount Garfield.

All four rail journeys in both the U.S. and Canada give guests the experience of crossing North America’s Continental Divide: the highest point on the continent, from which water flows down in both directions.

Despite the rugged wilderness outside, inside Rocky Mountaineer cars, guests experience the height of comfort.
Custom-designed, glass-domed coaches open the panoramic view up wide – or you can get even closer to the scenery passing by on the train’s outdoor viewing area. 


Unlike train rides you might be used to, where a conductor comes around to check your ticket, leaving you otherwise on your own, Rocky Mountaineer hosts are on hand every mile of track you cover. From ensuring your wine glass is full – to you seeing a special landmark coming up, and regaling guests with stories about historic sites, scenery, and wildlife along the way, hosts help make memories of more than the scenery.

 
You’ll feel connected to the West through your taste buds, too, with locally-inspired cuisine based on regional ingredients, flavors and recipes featured in gourmet breakfasts and lunches on board.

You might be surprised to learn there are no sleeper cars. Uniquely, every journey is an all-daylight experience so you don’t miss a single sight, sleeping nights in superb hotels – with your luggage delivered to your hotel.

With all of these details thought out, and a focus on making rail journeys through America’s frontiers the very best way to experience the West, it’s no wonder Rocky Mountaineer has been hailed the “World’s Leading Luxury Train.”

Start Your Train Trip!


Images courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.










Doing the Holidays Disney Style in Orlando and Anaheim in 2022
The gift of travel can create precious memories of one of the best holidays ever, and Disney theme parks on both sides of the country have been arrayed in their festive best, unwrapping a full lineup of holiday cheer lasting into the New Year.

There’s still time to plan a Disney version of the holidays this year in Anaheim or Orlando, and your expert travel advisor can help you plan the perfect theme park vacation to suit your family’s travel style.

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida:

 
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will return to Magic Kingdom Park for 24 select nights this holiday season. This event will offer an evening featuring “Minnie’s Wonder Christmastime Fireworks,” “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” complimentary cookies and hot cocoa at locations throughout the park, three jolly new photo opportunities and more (separate ticketed event).
 
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays takes guests on a global holiday celebration with a candlelight processional, storytellers, costumed performances, seasonal food throughout the World Showcase nations, along with sights, sounds and flavours of the season celebrated by cultures near and far.
 
Disney's Animal Kingdom brings a holiday twist to the magic of nature with festive flotillas featuring holiday percussionists and Santa sailing down the Discovery River. Discovery Island will spring to life with artisan-sculpted puppets of artic animals like penguins, reindeer, polar bears and more during the Merry Menagerie. As nighttime falls, a holiday edition of the Tree of Life Awakening will begin accompanied by a heartwarming musical score.
 
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests can dine with Minnie and friends at Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine, enjoy a holiday finale featuring Olaf during the For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, catch a glimpse of old St. Nick as he cruises in his candy-apple red convertible down Hollywood Boulevard and experience a captivating projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

 

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California


Disney California Adventure Park


The night-time spectacular “World of Color – Season of Light” wraps guests in holiday magic by fusing cherished holiday music with memorable moments from treasured Disney animated films.

Through energetic live entertainment, culinary delights and special traditions, Disney Festival of Holidays highlights a diverse season of celebrations, including Christmas/Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day. Nine Festive Foods Marketplace kiosks across the park serve a wide array of delectable foods and beverages, including Visions of Sugarplums, a returning marketplace featuring sweet and savory bites.

“Mickey’s Happy Holidays” is a procession of Disney and Pixar characters dancing and marching along to the upbeat rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers.


The “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” street party also returns, featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse donning
festive fiesta attire, Mexican folklórico dancers and Mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers and percussionists,
and giant mojiganga puppets. Guests can encounter Disney characters in holiday attire and, at Paradise
Gardens Park, visit with Mirabel from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto.”

Disneyland Park


“A Christmas Fantasy” Parade features Anna, Elsa and Olaf from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen,” along with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Santa Claus and many other friends celebrating the season. Characters also greet guests in their finest holiday attire, with some debuting new, vintage-inspired outfits.

In the evenings, the festivities continue with the “Believe... in Holiday Magic” fireworks spectacular, which features magical “snowfall” and colorful projections on Main Street, U.S.A., and the façade of “it’s a small world.” Families can also dance along with characters during nightly holiday dance parties at the Tomorrowland Terrace.

“It’s a Small World” Holiday celebrates its 25th anniversary, featuring dolls and toys representing children around the world, enjoying the distinctive holiday traditions of their respective countries. Unique to this year’s presentation, each room in the attraction features a small detail displaying the number 25.
 

Start your Disney Holiday Trip!

 
Images courtesy Disney.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.







Travel Black Friday Deals are Back!
Travel is back! And after a couple of quiet years, so, at last, are Black Friday travel deals. If you have any thoughts of traveling in the next year or so, now’s the time to get some of the best prices on dream vacations.

We’ve selected some of our favorite Black Friday travel deals to show you here, but we have plenty more on offer. And they represent some of the best pricing, perks, upgrades, terms, and bonuses you’ll find for travel this winter, into 2023 and even 2024.

Whether you fancy a family beach resort vacation or romantic island getaway this winter… a European odyssey… a bucket list trip to the Galapagos, an African safari, or South Seas overwater dream escape… a cruise around the Mediterranean or the Antarctic or close to home in the Caribbean or Alaska… or a river cruise through the vineyards, culture, and history of Europe, or along exotic waterways like the Nile, the Amazon or the Mekong! There are deals for you. And we have access to them.

If planning a trip seems daunting, don’t let a busy life stop you from fulfilling your travel dreams. The best news is that planning travel doesn’t have to be another job you don’t have time for. That’s the job of travel professionals.
We can help you focus your travel dreams into a plan, and we have access to all the Black Friday deals and special pricing and perks that can make your travel budget go farther.

What’s more, you’ll have a real person in your corner, someone who actually answers phone calls and emails, and is here to answer questions, sort out any bumps in the road, and provide you with current travel landscape expertise and advice.

Don't miss out on the best Black Friday Travel Deals!

Start your Trip!




All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



This New Cruise  Ship will House its Own Exclusively-Designed Fabergé Egg
When Regent Seven Seas Grandeur embarks on her inaugural voyage in late 2023, its breathtaking, multi-million dollar art collection will be anchored by a bespoke, sea-inspired Fabergé egg designed just for the ship.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises and the legendary house of Fabergé are collaborating on the hand-crafted, precious art object, which will be the first Fabergé Egg to reside permanently at sea.

Founded in 1842, Fabergé has been one of the most revered names in jewelry ever since Peter Carl Fabergé created dozens of spectacular and ingenious Easter Eggs for Russia's Imperial family.

Regent has shared the design its collaboration with the relaunched, modern-day house of Fabergé has generated. Called 'Journey in Jewels,' the extravagant, jeweled egg captures the essence of the powerful natural elements of the sea - and has a built-in secret.

The outer egg ‘shell’ is comprised of seven blades, representing the seven seas, which will unfurl to reveal a surprise hidden inside, details of which are being kept as a closely guarded secret until Seven Seas Grandeur is christened in 2023.

Journey in Jewels will stand about 7 inches tall, with a three-tiered base which hides the movement of the egg’s opening mechanism - the first time that Fabergé has hidden the movement in this way.

Conjuring up visions of epic voyages on the water, the egg’s three-tiered base is a gentle cascading waterfall of ocean greens and subtle turquoise, while its outer shell’s soothing deep blue waves become lighter, before breaking into a sea spray of pearls.

Exterior features of the egg's design include a ground-breaking ombre enamel shell; this is the very first time that Fabergé has applied this intricate enameling technique to an egg, marking this a milestone moment for the company. Enameling is an incredibly technical skill, which is made even more challenging with egg art objects due to the added complexity of applying the enamel to a curved surface.

Designed by Fabergé’s Head of Design, Liisa Tallgren, Journey in Jewels is being entirely hand-crafted by one of Fabergé’s appointed Workmasters, and a dedicated team of artisans based in England.

From conception to crafting, the egg will take 24 entire months to complete, just in time to be set in pride of place in Seven Seas Grandeur’s atrium.

Art collections on cruise ships - and especially on luxury cruise ships - are becoming bigger, more valuable and noteworthy. Regent's two latest ships have works by Picasso and other masters on board, and this purpose-designed,
cruise-inspired Fabergé egg art object on Regent's upcoming Grandeur is upping the ante for one-of-a-kind art at sea.

Start your Luxury Cruise Trip!


Images courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises via youtube

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



3 Unique Ways to Get Active Outdoors in French St. Martin
The twin-nation island of St. Martin is one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations. It's the smallest place in the world divided between two countries: the south end is Dutch and the north end is French. Famous for its beaches, shopping and gastronomy, there's much more to St. Martin.

Whether you're in St. Martin on a cruise ship port of call or an extended stay at a hotel or resort, we recommend you explore the wild side of French St. Martin. Here are three very different ways to enjoy its outdoors:

Fort Louis

Good for: sightseers, novice hikers, history buffs

One of French St. Martin's most noticeable remains of its colonial history, Fort Louis is part of a coastal string of historic naval forts on the French side of the island.

Towering on the hilltop above French St. Martin's capital city Marigot, Fort Louis (pictured, top) was build in the 1700's and named after the King of France, of course. Originally built to protect Marigot from pirates, what remains is weathered stone and cannons, but proudly flying the French flag.

Nowadays, Fort Louis is one of the most popular hiking spots on the island, enticing visitors with its 360-degree overlook of St. Martin’s crystal waters. It’s only a short jaunt up the hill to access this incredible view, and you’ll walk amidst the ruins of the fort as you follow the path to the summit. A breathtaking panorama awaits you at the top of this gentle climb and on a clear day, one can even see the neighbouring island of Anguilla!

Loterie Farm

Good for: lux/adventure lovers, families

A private nature sanctuary encompassing 135 acres, Loterie Farm has a fascinating history, won, I was told, originally in a lottery, but the property has transitioned to modern-day luxury outdoor adventure park.


From hiking and ziplining in the forest canopy to an onsite pool, bar, cabanas and restaurant, Loterie is a tropical forest escape from the bustle of the rest of St. Martin. A self-guided hike through the reserve’s tropical forest allows guests to choose their own adventure: exploring the entirety of the well-marked trail takes just under two hours, but hikers are free to make their own way. The various ruins, lookouts, and springs found within Loterie’s shaded expanse make for perfect picnic destinations.


Recharge at Loterie Farm's Jungle Room serving up Caribbean cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients and paired with a relaxed, open-air ambiance. Or lounge by the pool and listen to the sounds of the surrounding forest, that keeps Loterie Farm slightly cooler than other places on the island and was a perfect luxury retreat on my last visit to St. Martin.


Reserve Naturelle

Good for: Nature lovers, hikers of all experience and fitness levels

The National Nature Reserve of St. Martin, the Reserve Naturelle (as it is known to the island’s French-speaking populace) covers nearly 7500 acres of nationally managed land and sea in Northeastern St. Martin, including the smaller offshore islands of Pinel and Tintamarre.

The Reserve boasts a stunning assortment of natural scenery and abundant protected wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, iguanas, and seabirds. Visitors can access the Reserve via tours or snorkeling excursions, and one of the best ways to experience the Reserve is on a hike through one of its four Discovery Trails; each offering a glimpse of a different ecosystem.

A hike through the mangroves of Barrière pond, for example, will get you up close and personal with the beautiful endemic birds who make the area their home.


On Pinel (pictured above), guests can hike a mile-long trail that connects all three beaches of the islet, providing a fascinating introduction to the Reserve’s coastal vegetation. Experienced hikers should head to Froussard’s Trail, which covers 3 miles of intact coastal forest, the last of its kind on St. Martin.

No matter how many times you've cruised to St. Martin, these outdoor escapes show how much more of the half-Dutch, half-French island there is to discover!

Start your St. Martin Trip!




Images of Fort Louis and Loterie Farm: World's Greatest Cruises
Pinel Island image via Getty

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Trail-blazing women is a theme of Celebrity Cruises in general, and it was a triple play at the christening of the Celebrity Beyond. The newest of Celebrity's Edge-class ships was christened by Simone Biles, nicknamed the 'G.O.A.T.,' or 'Greatest of all Time' U.S. gymnasts, in Port Everglades, Florida on November 5th.


Biles is a 19-time World Champion, seven-time Olympic Medalist and most decorated American gymnast in history. In addition to the renowned godmother, the naming ceremony was also attended by Celebrity Cruises' Captain Kate McCue, who remains the first and still only American woman to be named captain of a large cruise ship.

“It is an honor to be selected as Beyond’s Godmother and to join such a distinguished group of strong, barrier-breaking women who have been named as Celebrity’s Godmothers before me,” Biles said during the ceremony.

“I appreciate the important message this designation holds in recognizing our accomplishments as empowering women, and I am honored to share the stage today with fellow brave, boundary-breaking leaders like (Celebrity Cruises' groundbreaking President and CEO) Lisa-Lutoff Perlo and Captain Kate McCue.'

“I’ve been waiting for this day to arrive for a long time, and I am ‘Beyond’ excited to be able to share her with our guests. She is the gold standard by which other ships are built and embodies the meaning of relaxed luxury,” said Lutoff-Perlo.

Captain Kate McCue, Jason Liberty, Simone Biles and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo at Celebrity Beyond's christening

“I can think of no one better to be the Godmother of this incredible ship than the G.O.A.T. herself – Simone Biles,” said Jason Liberty, President and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, which is the parent company of Celebrity Cruises.

“This ship’s beauty, power, and resilience sets the standard by which all others will be measured. Simone’s determination, progressive nature, empowered attitude, and grace in the face of challenges make her such an inspiration to so many around the world. All of these attributes are why Simone Biles is perfectly suited to watch over Celebrity Beyond’s journey,” he added.


Re-defining 'A Luxury Resort at Sea'

Celebrity says the new ship will usher in a 'new era of cruising.' Celebrity Beyond showcases the talents of Celebrity mainstay design, culinary and lifestyle contributors, including British designer Kelly Hoppen CBE; American designer Nate Berkus; Paris-based design firm Jouin Manku; British architect Tom Wright; Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud; and goop CEO and founder Gwyneth Paltrow.

Spaces and experiences on board the new ship reflect signatures of the Edge-class series including the Retreat resort-within-a-resort at sea; Sunset Bar; goop wellness experiences; 32 food and drink venues, a Grand Plaza anchored by Celebrity's Martini Bar showpiece, high-tech entertainment, and the Magic Carpet cantilevered venue.

Inaugural Caribbean Season


Following the naming ceremony, the Celebrity Beyond set sail on its inaugural winter season in the Caribbean, including seven-night Puerto Plata, St. Thomas & St. Maarten itineraries and seven-night Bahamas, Mexico, & Grand Cayman itineraries.

Start Your Cruise Trip!


Images courtesy Celebrity Cruises

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



On One of the Most Scenic Railways in the World, Switzerland Breaks Record for Longest Train
It's official! On October 29th, 2022, Switzerland's Rhaetian Railway (RhB) operated the longest narrow gauge passenger train in the world. And they did it in spectacular style, over the UNESCO World Heritage Albula Railway Line.

The Swiss passenger rail company linked together 25, 4-part, brilliant red railcars for the event, creating a 2084-yard long train – that’s 1.2 miles long!
 
Then 7 train conductors and 21 technicians worked together to run the train along a 15-mile route on the UNESCO World Heritage Albula Railway Line.
 
The route crossed 48 bridges and passed through 22 tunnels, some of which twist back on each other through the mountains. Attaining speeds of up to 20 mph, in about an hour, the train reached its destination: the world-famous Landwasser Viaduct.

 
There, officials from Guinness World Records confirmed RhB had set a new record for the world’s longest narrow-gauge train.
 
It was a picture perfect moment, with the scarlet train cars winding around the bends of the railway and the famous deep, 328-foot radius curve of the Landwasser Viaduct, itself an engineering marvel.
 
Completed in 1902, the 6-arch limestone Landwasser viaduct is 446 feet long and towers over 200 feet above the valley below. It dramatically connects a high cliff on one side of a chasm, with the Landwasser Tunnel, positioned on a vertical rock wall, on the other side. Train travelers wind through deep bends to reach the viaduct, passing across its breathtaking structure, to immediately enter the 700-foot tunnel.

The successful attempt to break the world record was part of the 175th celebration of Switzerland’s Rhaetian Railway and meant to highlight the sustainability and benefits of train travel. Rhaetian Railway is 100% powered by hydro (water) power, generated from the waters passing by the panoramic train’s window. 
 
Although the world record-breaking train was a once-in-a-lifetime event, visitors to Switzerland discover that train travel may be the best way to not only get around the country, but also to experience a highlight of Swiss life and achievements.
 
The Albula Railway is one of the most spectacular narrow gauge railways in the world, part of a Rhaetian Railway UNESCO World Heritage Site – one that is still in regular daily use by residents and visitors.
 
To experience it for yourself, the best known trains operating on the Albula Railway are the famous Glacier Express and the Bernina Express.
 
Glacier Express
 
This train trip has been dubbed “the world’s slowest express train;” all the better to enjoy the view from extended-height panoramic windows traveling across the Alps. The 8-hour journey passes through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges, right to the Matterhorn, from sophisticated St. Moritz to the equally chic Zermatt.
 
Bernina Express
 
The Bernina Express also crosses the Alps in spectacular fashion, rolling over the Landwasser Viaduct as well as 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges on its way from Chur to Tirano. Travelers are treated to marvellous sights during their journey, like the Montebello curve with a view of the Bernina massif, the Morteratsch glacier, the three lakes Lej Pitschen, Lej Nair and Lago Bianco, the Alp Grüm and the Brusio Circular Viaduct.
 

Start your Swiss Trip!




Images courtesy RhB

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Cruises in the Great Lakes are spiking in popularity, and a proposed new National Marine Sanctuary adds to the many attractions of a Great Lakes cruise.

The Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary isn’t a done deal just yet.

In April of 2019, following a New York state community nomination, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) subsequently announced its intention to designate a national marine sanctuary in eastern Lake Ontario. 

You’ll recognize some other beloved maritime destinations NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System. Many can be visited on cruises in U.S. waters or from land trips to coastal areas. From Washington State to the Florida Keys, from Lake Huron to American Samoa, the network encompasses over 620,000 square miles of underwater parks. It includes 15 current national marine sanctuaries, like Wisconsin’s Great Lake “Shipwreck Coast,” the Pacific Northwest’s “Olympic Coast,” and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale sanctuaries, as well as the Papahānaumokuākea and American Samoa’s Rose Atoll marine national monuments.
 
The proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary designation area includes the waters offshore of New York State’s Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego and Jefferson counties. It could also extend into the legendary Thousand Islands playground region that spans the American and Canadian waters of the St. Lawrence River.

The waters of the proposed national marine sanctuary are a scuba diver’s dream – especially wreck divers. Their stand out their rich collection of shipwrecks, which NOAA says are “among the best preserved in the world” in the cold, freshwater atmosphere of the depths of Lake Ontario. The designated area includes 43 known shipwrecks, dating as far back as the 1700’s, and one submerged aircraft.

Some are already underwater landmarks and registered heritage sites. They include New York State’s first Submerged Cultural Preserve and Dive Site in Great Lakes, the David W. Mills shipwreck, as well as the St. Peter shipwreck, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
 
And, according to NOAA and the communities around the proposed sanctuary, there could be more “underwater treasures” yet to be revealed. 

As a national marine sanctuary, NOAA would manage, research, preserve and provide ways for visitors to explore and learn more about this “nationally significant collection” of local maritime heritage and the landscape above and below the waters of Lake Ontario. That would include interpretive sites on nearby shores as well as mooring infrastructure on shipwreck sites to facilitate wreck dives that are safe and easy for divers, and still preserve the historic shipwrecks.

Watch the local PBS video above to learn more about the environmental, recreational, and maritime cultural value of the proposed new Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary.

And ask your trusted travel advisor about how you can take a cruise in the U.S. and Canadian regions of the Great Lakes.

Start your Great Lakes Cruise!



 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/ travel journalist
 
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 






Be Among the First to Try These 4 New Luxury Resorts on Your Next Mexico Beach Vacation
Mexico has some of the best beach destinations on the continent, and four new - or completely renewed - luxury resorts may inspire you to treat yourself to being one of the first guests to experience their unique ultra-luxe lifestyle – served up with Mexican hospitality.
 

Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya

 
By spring, 2023, this storied hideaway in the heart of the Riviera Maya will re-open, completely re-imagined.
 
Nestled between 200 acres of lush tropical jungle and the secluded white sands of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, the legendary property’s renovations focus on Mayan culture, design and nature influences, with 10 new waterfront suites, a nature-focused wellness experience in partnership with Guerlain, ground-breaking sustainability initiatives and a new gastronomic era under Mexican-born Executive Chef Daniel Camacho. 
 
Each of the 72 accommodations will be spread across Maroma’s private stretch of sand (pictured, top), of which three quarters now have ocean views, including a spacious new waterfront suite complete with a private pool and garden. The property’s three pools will be completely redesigned, featuring Sukabumi tiles handmade from volcanic stone, in the same vibrant turquoise tones as the region’s many natural cenotes. 


Eighty percent of furnishings and objects will be made by Mexican craftspeople, from a hand-blown glass chandelier and painted clay pots to traditional ‘Saltillo’ floor tiles, meticulously curated for guest rooms. 
 
Guests to the reopened resort will be able to enjoy the first Guerlain Spa in Latin America. Treatment rooms look out onto the jungle and will incorporate local design elements with geometric shapes and artisanal objects. Healing rituals will be inspired by the power of nature and ancient practices.
 
Mexican-born Executive Chef Daniel Camacho will continue his legacy of celebrating his country’s rich culinary diversity at Casa Mayor restaurant, where 90% of ingredients will be sourced from Mexico and almost half from the Yucatán peninsula. Reinventing traditional Mexican cuisine, colorful dishes will range from seafood towers and Michoacan corundas, to Jalisco-style Birria and chocolate cake with Oaxacan black mole, flamed with house mezcal. 
 
For the perfect sundowner, Bambuco will offer a more casual affair, and the legendary beach hangout Freddy’s Bar will continue to channel the vibrant spirit of the Riviera Maya, with live music and DJ sets, fresh seafood and cocktails. 
 

Fairmont Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya

 
The Fairmont Mayakoba will have completed a comprehensive, multi-million dollar renovation by the end of 2022, so even if you’ve visited here before, it will feel like a whole new resort.
 
Nestled in the heart of the Riviera Maya, the 401-room Fairmont Mayakoba is a AAA Five Diamond resort set on 45 acres, within a private luxury community. Dedicated to an environmentally philosophy, the resort is surrounded by a lush mangrove forest intersected by water canals, and includes an expansive spa and El Camaleón Golf Course, host to the first official PGA TOUR event in Mexico.
 
The latest phase of the renovation involves the completion of two new restaurants, La Laguna and Bassano.

 
As the name suggests, La Laguna makes the most of the resort’s waterways, with a terrace and private pavilion, and spectacular over-the-water decks overlooking the Mayakoba water canals. With a magnificent bar serving craft cocktails, and offering a combination of authentic, traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine, La Laguna features an open concept kitchen, an al fresco terrace, and a lively lounge.
 
Bassano, a stylish Italian eatery, brings an element of comfort to Mayakoba. Focusing in the Italian countryside way on the simplest of ingredients, while delivering rich flavor in every dish, the restaurant's standout menu items include homemade pizzas, including an outdoor pizza bar, their signature buccatini cacio e pepe, and exquisite wines.
 
The continued renovation will be inclusive of many additional restaurant offerings that hotel visitors can expect to enjoy with friends and family this coming winter.

St. Regis Kanai Resort, Riviera Maya

 
The guiding principle behind Marriott’s ultra-luxury St. Regis resorts is to emulate the glamorous private retreats of St. Regis' founding family, the Astors. Yes, ‘those’ Astors, the ‘Gilded Age’ family who shaped American high society from their perch at the peak of New York Society, and left their name and legacy on travel in the U.S. and around the world.
 
Two new, five-star St. Regis resorts will increase the St. Regis footprint in Mexico in the coming months, with the kind of vision, avant-garde style and bespoke service and flair St. Regis has become known for around the world.
 
The St. Regis Kanai Resort opens at the end of 2022 in the captivating Mayan Riviera, and will feature a sophisticated design that boasts breathtaking ocean views from every vantage point, with 124 guest rooms and suites, as well as 32 exclusive villas with private pools. 
 
Three pools with distinct features and atmosphere will appeal to your every mood, and multiple restaurants and bars feature American, Latin American, and global tastes including Middle Eastern, Asian fusion, with a Beach Club barbecue, a to-go deli to fuel your adventures on and off the property, even a charming Library “to delight in conversation and chocolate” with a wide variety of Mexican chocolate preparations.
 

St. Regis Los Cabos

 
The striking St. Regis Los Cabos Resort opens in 2023. It’s located on 33 pristine acres in Quivira, Los Cabos, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez, in a private master-planned luxury community featuring nature reserves and 20 miles of scenic walking/cycling trails.

 
On its own, the resort has1,200 feet of panoramic coastal views. Guests stay in 120 all-butler serviced rooms or 60 residences, and enjoy luxe amenities like swimming pools, a saltwater lagoon and luxury cabanas as well as a spa, golf course, beach club, the resort’s specialty restaurant, all-day beachfront grill and outdoor poolside restaurant serving small plates with craft cocktails.
 

Start your Mexican Resort Trip!

 
Images courtesy of their respective resort companies.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


25th Anniversary of the 'Star-chitecture' that Put this Spanish Port on the Map
Coinciding with news that Spain has joined the rest of the EU in removing all pandemic entry restrictions for overseas travelers – is the 25th anniversary of a Spanish landmark that transformed modern travel. 

Before celebrity architect Frank Gehry, not many travelers could put their finger on Bilbao, Spain on a map. 
Despite being the largest city in northern Spain and its Basque country, and on the estuary into the Atlantic Ocean’s Bay of Biscay with a coastal beach culture all its own, Bilbao didn’t have the pull of Spain’s magnetic Mediterranean.

But on October 18th, 1997, Frank Gehry changed all that, with the opening of his boldly-designed, ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Built on derelict docklands on the riverbank at the edge of the city center, the breathtakingly avant-garde museum takes its cues from its surroundings. Viewed from the river, it resembles a docked ship, and the sparkling titanium ‘skin’ of the steel building evokes the scales of a fish in motion.

Inside, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao encompasses an atrium with glass curtain walls, curved walkways, and 20 galleries in different shapes, housing hundreds of significant contemporary works of art.

Fellow architects and experts have called the work of the Canadian architect “the greatest building of our time.”
Almost overnight, the city was transformed. From attracting merely 25,000 visitors in 1995, Bilbao drew nearly a million visitors in 2019.

The “Bilbao Effect” or the “Gehry Effect” was no accident.

From the outset, the Guggenheim Bilbao was intended to be a world-renowned landmark and power an urban renewal for under-the-radar Bilbao. But its success was so great, it inspired a host of copycats, with cities around the world in the years since commissioning high-profile ‘star-chitects’ to design landmark public cultural buildings to drive urban renewal and transform visitors’ experiences in those destinations.

Today, when you visit cities revitalized with new icons of landmark contemporary architecture, like Miami or Rio de Janeiro, you can thank Bilbao – and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum.

And you can visit Bilbao, Spain to see the impact of The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao still has on the city, 25 years later.

Bilbao hasn’t rested on its Frank Gehry laurels. Although his Guggenheim Museum remains the city’s biggest draw, it’s been joined by other contemporary architectural landmarks, including the glass-bottomed Zubizuri Bridge, the Basque Health Department's jagged glass-covered building, and the Isozaki towers, which contrast with the gothic, Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings in Bilbao’s cobblestoned Old Town.

Bilbao is the hub to immerse yourself in Spain's traditional Basque culture and cuisine – not to mention the city's own Michelin-starred culinary experiences.

Start your Spain Trip!


Image: Getty

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




Trick or... Travel: Top Hallowe'en-Inspired Trips
Supernatural and macabre films, TV series, and novels feed our gathered-round-the-fire love of a scary story. But there’s nothing like the real-life thrill of visiting in person places around the world whose histories of hauntings, bone-chilling tales and ghostly sightings get our primal senses tingling while we’re standing right there!

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite spook-tacular trips:

London, England


London’s long history of royal intrigues and political skulduggery – as well as its wealth of ancient towers, dungeons, prisons and places of execution – make most historic places ripe for ghastly tales.

Evan Evans conducts London tours with guides expert in ghoulish history specifically for you to immerse yourself in the city’s spine-chilling history at Hallowe’en.

Its London Dungeon Tour brings the dark, bloody history of London to life walking through The London Dungeon. The immersive theatrical storytelling tour with live actors, lavish sets and special effects is a fantastic way to explore the darker side of London’s history and get in the mood for Halloween.

 
Guests will experience the full wrath of King Henry VIII, and join Anne Boleyn on her final journey along the River Thames to the infamous Tower of London (image via Getty).
 
Or take its Jack the Ripper Tour (top image, Getty) to walk in the footsteps of London’s most infamous serial killer on a tour conducted in the evening for maximum thrills. You’ll travel back to Victorian London as you visit the real-life murder locations and hear the gruesome stories behind Jack the Ripper’s vicitims’ deaths.
 

Ireland

 
Ireland is equally scary. A Royal Irish Tours “Emerald Adventure” driving holiday takes you into the heart of a number of Ireland’s most spooky places.
 
You’ll be booked to spend the night in a luxurious, but haunted, castle. Ballygally Castle north of Belfast is home of the ghost of Lady Isabella Shaw, believed to have been thrown from a castle-top window by the cruel Lord Shaw. Over the years many guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms. There are also endless stories of an eerie green mist over the castle. For the very brave, during your stay you can even visit the room of Lady Isabella at the top of the spiral staircase.
 
During your two-day stay in Dublin, you can travel back in time and learn about “Ghosts, Ghouls and Goodie Glover Day” at EPIC Ireland, the world’s first fully digital museum that tells the story of Irish emigration. Learn more about The Dullahan (“dark man”), a malevolent harbinger of death who served as the inspiration for the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow, or how the local practice of burying corpses with a stake through the heart influenced the writings of Irish emigrant Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.


Uncover the tragic story of ‘Goody Annie Glover’ the Irish woman who became the last person hanged for witchcraft in Boston in 1688, and how the influx of Irish immigrants, who brought their traditions and folktales, helped shape the story of jack-o’-lanterns in America (image via Getty).
 

Sicily

 
The history of Sicily’s capital city already has a bloody history, through its ties to the Sicilian mafia. If you’re looking for a more traditional eerie happening, though, Exodus Tours recommends its ‘Street Food and Sunshine in Sicily” tour for its tour of Palermo whose Teatro Massimo is said to be haunted by the ghost of a nun, known as ‘La Monachella’.

 
The controversial project to build the Teatro Massimo (picture courtesy Exodus Tours) involved the destruction of four churches and two convents. It’s said that the building work desecrated the grave of a former Mother Superior, and her spirit haunts the theatre to this day. During the 23 years it took to construct the opera house, many of the original backers died, including the architect– could the curse of La Monachella be the reason? You’ll have to decide for yourself – if you have the fortune to see the spirit of the Mother Superior herself.
 

Egypt

 
Egypt has given us so many Hallowe’en themes as the country where bandage-wrapped ancient myths and legends originate. On Exodus Tours’ 'Pyramids and Pharaohs in Egypt” tour, you can get up close to the real thing – and contemplate a cautionary tale tied to ancient Egypt.
 

The artefact of the “Unlucky Mummy” (picture courtesy of Exodus Tours) can now be found in the British Museum, but its story begins in 1860s Egypt, where four British university students decided to pick up a souvenir of their visit, in the form of the coffin lid of a priestess of Amen-Ra. On the return trip, two of the graduates died, and a third accidentally shot himself in the arm, resulting in an amputation. The fourth lost his entire fortune (twice), a photographer and porter trying to take a photograph of it died, as did the man translating its hieroglyphs. Throughout the years since, many more people associated with the coffin lid were plagued with bad luck.
 
 

South of France

 
River cruising can sail you right up into the heart of off-the-beaten path historic towns with rich and eerie pasts.

 
On an Avalon Waterways river cruise on the Rhone river in the south of France, you can take one of their Active & Discovery shore excursions: a ghost walk by moonlight through the winding, bending cobblestone alleyways of Viviers (picture via Getty) – a hilltop, stone-walled medieval village – that brings the ancient ghosts, legends and tales of this quiet – is it too quiet? - little town to life.
 

Start your Spook-tacular Trip!



Images credits as noted

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






There's More to Peru than Machu Picchu
Peru's overwhelming claim to fame is the mystique and majesty of the ancient remains at Machu Picchu - deservedly named recently the 'South America's Leading Tourist Attraction.” But there's more to Peru than its fabled history, leading it to also earn the designation as 'South America's Leading Culinary Destination 2022' and 'Leading Cultural Destination 2022' in the region.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Annual Día de la Canción Criolla Celebrates Music and Dance on October 31

Move over, Hallowe'en. There's a different, time-honored tradition on the last day of October in Peru. Día de la Canción Criolla (‘The Day of Creole Song’) is a performance event hosted by the Ministry of Culture every year on October 31. 
 
The event is hosted along the Peruvian coast and Andean highlands and brings together a medley of provincial music while also providing a platform for local musicians to showcase their skills. The music was created as a result of the history of Spanish influence and African communities in Peru and is typically created using instruments such as the guitar and Peruvian cajón. The music is accompanied by an array of cultural dances such as the Peruvian national dance, the Marinera, and Vals Criolla, also known as the Peruvian Waltz. Locals can be found in main squares throughout the country celebrating this special occasion.


Peruvian Art Galleries & Museums Offer Immersion into Country’s Unique Culture

While that's only one day of the year, there are many incredible galleries and museums throughout the country for visitors to peruse and enjoy year round. Here are just a few ideas of places for art and history lovers to explore:


This museum showcases the past 3,000 years of art in Peru in a permanent collection of over 18,000 pieces from pre-Columbian, Colonial, Republican and Modern eras. It is also housed in an incredible space that once served as Peru’s National Exhibition in the 19th century. (Pictured above)

Museo Larco is surrounded by a lush garden in a beautifully restored 18th-century house. Visitors here can explore more than 30,000 catalogued ancient pottery artifacts and pre-Columbian erotic art. 

MAC offers a spacious outdoor area as well as interactive exhibits. It is the only institution dedicated exclusively to researching and promoting contemporary, artistic practices of Peru. Both emerging Latin American artists and international names have shown their work at MAC. Guests to the museum can tour three rooms in this glass structure and then enjoy some time outdoors to contemplate the work. 

Considered the pride of Northern Peru, the museum was designed to resemble ancient Moche tombs. Visitors here can explore exhibits of many of the artifacts of the Lord of Sipán, one of the most emblematic figures of the Mochica culture. The discovery of his tomb was the first royal burial site found intact in South America, and belonging to a Peruvian civilization prior to the Inca Empire.

The curators of this museum believe pieces of Andean ethnographic art, if they are produced using traditional techniques and materials, are pieces of great cultural, educational and aesthetic value. The museum aims to acquire, preserve, investigate, communicate and exhibit these foundations of a genuinely Peruvian art form.

Three Lima Restaurants Named to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List

Those in the know go to Peru for its culinary scene, recently acknowledged yet again with three restaurants in the nation's capital being named to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, making Lima a must-visit destination for foodies.

The three restaurants were Central (#2) – owned and run by Virgilio Martínez and Pía León, last year’s World’s Best Female Chef; Maido (#11), a perfect expression of Peru’s Nikkei cuisine; and Mayta (#32), which focuses heavily on sustainable Peruvian ingredients. (Pictured, top, a mise en place at Lima’s Central restaurant.)

Another Lima spot, Kjolle (#68) was named on the expanded list of the top 100, and is also owned by Chef Pía León.



Belmond's Luxury Train Adventure through Peru is an Epicurean Odyssey

Travellers to Peru can explore Lima, the Sacred Valley, Machupicchu, Cusco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, the Uros floating islands and the Colca Valley on a food adventure aboard Belmond's luxury train the Hiram Bingham (bar car pictured above).

Journeying from city to mountain, lake to canyon, guests on this excursion explore the rich culture of Peru through architecture, adventure and, ultimately, your taste buds. Activities on this journey include visits to markets across the country to learn about Peruvian food culture, dining at incredible restaurants, and partaking in a special river-side lunch at Rio Sagrado, A Belmond Hotel, including a variety of dishes featuring local ingredients, strolls through charming villages and, of course, world-class cuisine aboard the train itself.


Start your Peru Trip!


Images courtesy of their respective properties as noted.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






Another River Cruise Line to Begin Sailing on the Douro in Portugal
 
 
Beginning in 2024, Avalon Waterways will be the latest river cruise line to embark on this increasingly popular route, joining Uniworld, Tauck, AmaWaterways, Scenic, Emerald Cruises and others on this western-most European river cruise route.
 
Calling its new itinerary “a new view on the Old World,” Avalon Waterways says the new route will provide guests with “the grandest views in cruising and whim-powered itineraries to Southwestern Europe.” 
 
Avalon's new river cruise roundtrip from Porto brings guests into the heart of hillside vineyards and historic villages in this famous wine region all the way to the glorious sandstone architecture of Salamanca, Spain, just across the border.  
 
From medieval castles to cinematic scenery – plus all the vinho, fresh-baked rustic bread, locally grown olives and locally-produced cheese your soul desires – a Douro River cruise earns an entry on your European river cruising bucket list. 
 
Plus, Avalon Waterways has three styles of shore excursions that allow you to customize your Portuguese river cruise. In addition to ‘Classic’ tours, guests can choose from ‘Active’ and ‘Discovery’ tours that give you new perspectives on destinations, plus a chance to break a light sweat and even get your hands a bit dirty! The river cruise line says ‘Active’ and ‘Discovery’ tours on its new Douro River itinerary will include things like rock art or baking traditional ‘florinhas’ pastries, painting iconic Portuguese tiles, to riding bikes from Porto to the sea. 
 
Of course, all guests will enjoy visiting farms and vineyards, wine- and food-tastings, scenic sailings and historic city exploration, with overnights in some towns along the way.
 

A Ship Named 'Happiness'

Douro River dimensions require customized vessels, and Avalon’s purpose-built ship for its Portugal river cruises is the Avalon Alegria, debuting in 2024. 
 
The Alegria – which means ‘happiness’ in Portuguese – will accommodate just a hundred guests on two decks, so you’ll be able to get to know and have shared experiences with the small group of people on your Portuguese river journey. 
 
 
Like other Avalon Waterways ships, the Alegria will orient beds to face the windows, so you can open your floor-to-ceiling sliding windows and your whole room becomes an ‘open-air balcony’ facing the views sailing along the Douro. 
Guests will also enjoy a pool on the Sky Deck to bask in the warm Portuguese sun and take in the scenery during daytime sailings from a new, poolside perspective.
 

Start your Douro River Cruise Trip!

 
Top Image: Getty
Bottom Image: Avalon Waterways
 
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
 
 
 
The Safest Countries for Solo Women Travelers - Plus Other Top Tips
Never before have more women been traveling solo! Singletons of all ages and stages in life: never-been-married, divorced, widowed… all kinds of women are deciding not to wait to be paired up or until a friend can be a travel companion to embark on dream journeys.

They’re making plans to travel now. Does that sound like you? If so, you’re part of one of the top travel trends, and the great news is that the world has never been more accessible to solo travelers, especially solo women travelers.

Here are three of the most burning questions women often ask before committing to travel on their own, and my tips for solo travel:

1. Is it safe?

Let’s face it – everyone’s daily commute has risks. But the idea of traveling alone in an unfamiliar location makes many savvy women newly thoughtful about their personal safety.

To help you decide where you might want to try solo travel, here are the results of a recent study that ranked three dozen popular tourist countries for their safety for solo women travelers. 
 
The ranking was based on seven measurements about things like the percentage of women in a country who report experiencing violence, who feel safe walking home or at night, of how a society feels about domestic violence or violence against women, and the strength of local laws protecting women. The data came from organizations like the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank.

Only one of the countries that made the top ten list of the safest destinations for solo women travelers was outside of Europe.

Ireland topped the safe list with a score of 7.88/10, with Austria, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland rounding out the top five.

The only non-European nation that made the top 10 was Canada, which ranked 8th, with Spain and Portugal ranked slightly higher and the Netherlands and Poland completing the top 10. One other non-European nation, Japan, barely missed the top 10, coming in at 11th in the rankings.

Tip for Staying Safe:
Also, don’t forget the old mantra “There’s safety in numbers.” Traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to travel alone – group travel is a great way to travel solo – and stay safe.

2. Is it more expensive?

Travel often prices trips for ‘double occupancy.’ That is: two people to a room. And that can put solo travelers at a financial disadvantage. If you don’t want or don’t have anyone to share with, it can leave you on the hook for double the price.

Well, the good news is that more and more travel companies are catering to the solo travel crowd. Some serve only singletons or even single women, with no ‘single surcharge’ at all; they’ve negotiated prices for accommodations that don’t penalize their solo women travelers. Others specialize in singletons and pair up solos who are willing to share a room to save.

Other tour companies and cruise lines offer occasional solo travel specials, where they waive the single traveler surcharge. These are terrific deals that give you the full experience without having to share! 


Tip for Maximizing your Solo Travel Budget:
Your expert travel advisor can help you take advantage of solo travel specials whether it’s an ocean or river cruise or a small- or full-sized group land tour that interests you.

More and more travel companies are catering to solo travelers, especially women. There are some companies that serve only women solo travelers! And many, many others who make special accommodations, packages, and pricing arrangements for women seizing the day and hitting the road on their own.

3. Is it worth it?

Solo travel can seem like a lot of effort. But if you’re craving travel, finding the optimal way to travel solo is your dream come true.

And the good news is that solo travel doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Solo Travel:
I mentioned group travel already. Groups provide not just extra safety and an expert local tour guide who knows the lay of the land to make you feel completely secure. The local group tour leader can give you the best local knowledge for you to spend your free time, so you have a built-in support system and source of information.

Groups also people to socialize with, and if you’re a bit intimidated by the idea of a large group, take heart! Tour groups can range from a full coach of 40 people to as small as half a dozen people. You have a wide range of options for the number of people you’ll be sharing your journey with.

Plus, working with a qualified travel advisor means there’s always someone with the full details of your travel plans at home who’s in your corner – and able to help sort out any glitch that may happen while you’re on your solo travel journey.
 

Start your Solo Trip!

 
 
Images: Getty
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
 
 




This Year's 5 Top Adventure Travel Trends - For Fitness Fans and Everyday Travelers!
If your favorite way to experience the world is from the outdoors, then adventure travel is for you. And the best news is: you don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy adventure the Great Outdoors!
 
In fact, the Adventure Travel Trade Association recently released a list of this year’s hottest adventure travel activities – and we bet several sound right up your alley. From cycling to safaris, trekking and snowshoeing to wellness and culinary escapes, there’s a hardcore or soft adventure for everyone who loves to experience a destination’s landscapes, wilderness and wildlife, local food and fresh air.
 
Your expert travel advisor can help match your outdoor adventure interests with the trip that checks all the boxes – including your preferred level of activity.
 
Here are examples of 5 trending adventures close to home or in distant locales: 

 Courtesy: Adventure Cycling Association - Rachel Stevens

1. Cycling Across America:


You don’t have to cycle across the whole country all at once! But whether you prefer road biking, gravel or dirt, or want the ease of an e-bike, organizations like the Adventure Cycling Association or cycling adventure tour companies can help you enjoy the country on two wheels. Cycle the country’s Southern Tier from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida, go on a gravel ramble in the mountains of Montana, bring an e-bike along for a fall color tour in Vermont, or explore one of the best mountain bike trail systems in the U.S. on an Ozark Mountain biking tour.

Ozark Mountain Biking - Courtesy Escape Adventures 

Did you know? Cycling trips can be as rugged or as luxurious as you prefer. There’s a wide range of levels of service for cycling tours that your travel advisor can help to match to your preferred travel style.

Courtesy of Adventure Life - Anna Zlotnicki 

2. Experiencing a ‘White Safari’ on an Antarctic Expedition Cruise:


Embrace the spirit of polar exploration on an expedition cruise to Antarctica. Watch for seabirds and the first icebergs as you cross the famed Drake Passage to reach the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Once there, experience the wonder of the white continent as you cruise along spectacular ice cliffs looking for seals and whales, and go ashore to visit penguin rookeries and historic huts.
 
Did you know? Cruises to Antarctica are among the fastest-growing trends in cruising as well as adventure travel. Small, ice-hulled expedition cruise ships, sail from the southern-most points of South America on these bucket-list voyages. Ships carry zodiacs so guests can land on remote islands, and some also carry helicopters and submarines for your adventure voyage of a lifetime!

Courtesy of Fireside Resort in Jackson Hole

3. Exploring America’s National Parks: 


America’s great Western National Parks have never been so popular. If you’re looking for endless adventure surrounded by incredible views, look no further than Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Take a day trip to Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park to see wildlife up close, try out a ropes course, relax in nearby hot springs and more, then retreat to a cabin. 
 
Did you know? Many western National Parks are four season destinations, with hiking and mountain biking in the spring, summer and fall, and snowshoeing, skiing and more in the scenic winter months.
 

4. Cycling Through History and Culture in Europe:


Cycling trips in Europe can take you into the heart of the romance of castles and villages, vineyards and villas, rivers and mountains. Take just one example: imagine yourself riding Italy’s “White Roads,” the network of unpaved back roads, named “Strade Bianchi” for the color of their dry earth and limestone gravel, that wind through Tuscany’s hilly vineyards, olive groves and medieval villages, while you fortify yourself with the food and wines of one of Italy’s finest culinary regions. (Top Image: Strade Bianche in Italy, courtesy of Tourissimo.)
 
Did you know? Many of Europe’s top destinations are very bicycle-friendly, with routes, bicycle service and amenities… not to mention the history, scenery, food and wine!

Courtesy of Sacha Lodge, Located in the Amazon

5. Going Exotic in the Galapagos Islands, the Andes and Amazon:


Exotic adventures in bucket-list destinations are all the rage following two years of pandemic travel shut downs. Many travellers have now decided not to put off until tomorrow the travel dreams of today. That makes the wonders of the remote Galapagos Islands, Peru and Machu Picchu, and the depths of the Amazon adventure travel trends right now. While these destinations can accommodate varying levels of fitness - you can hike and climb, paddle and dive if you like, or take a less-strenuous approach to seeing the incredible wildlife and scenery, ancient history and culture of these exotic locations.
 
Did you know? Some guided tours can take you to several of the most exotic travel locations on your bucket list – and taking the planning, logistics, language challenges, local know-how and day-to-day organization off your plate in these off-the-beaten-track destinations – so you can focus on immersing yourself in these once-in-a-lifetime journeys.
 
 

Start your Adventure Trip!

 

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.









What Size Cruise Ship is Right for You?
If you're ‘sizing up’ your next cruise trip - whether you’ve never cruised before or you’re curious about what life’s like on different sized ships – this is essential travel information for you.

It’s all about match-making, and one type of ship is going to be “just right” for your cruise travel lifestyle and preferences. An expert travel advisor can help you find your own best type of cruise ship. Hopefully, my tips here about each type of cruise ship will help you get started in discovering your own ship “sweet spot.” 

Big Ships

The biggest of the big ships are aptly called ‘mega ships,’ and the world’s biggest cruise ships carry several thousand guests and thousands of crew on top of that. In addition to their sheer size, their lifestyle is the most ‘family friendly.’ 

Mega cruise ships are floating destinations in and of themselves. You might never notice if you didn’t leave port! They have around-the-clock entertainment for everyone from toddlers to grandparents, including active and outdoor pursuits like surfing simulators, climbing walls, theme-park like rides and waterparks, bumper cars, and more. Indoor entertainment like broadway shows, Vegas-style entertainment partnerships, and more dining options than you can even try in a week-long cruise, with lots of celebrity restaurant partnerships. Dining ranges from casual burgers and BBQ to fine dining, steakhouses, wine bars, and more –even dining with eye-popping themed décor and interactive menus. 

Big Cruise Ship Tip:
Families with kids who need a lot of entertaining, or multi-generational families where you want to give lots of options for everyone of every age, or groups where you need to offer the most choice – all of these types of cruise travelers love the big ships. 

Small Ships

The smallest of small ships may carry only a hundred or two hundred, maybe up to a few hundred guests, and end up feeling a lot more like a personal yacht than a commercial cruise ship. 

You’ll rarely see a line up or worry about getting a nice spot at your favorite pool. People who like intimate spaces, where you have plenty of personal space, but you don't have to walk far to get to the pool, or a lounge, or a restaurant, love smaller ships. 

Smaller ships can dock in the heart of an historic city, while larger ships need berths further out, so smaller ships can take you closer to your destination. That includes expedition cruising – active, outdoor adventure-style cruises to remote places around the world including both polar cruising!

Small ships don’t have all the bells and whistles the biggest ships do; they’ll have fewer restaurants, pools, hot tubs and shows. They feel more like boutique hotels or country clubs, and offer a more sedate lifestyle and pace, and some can be fairly formal, but that doesn’t mean snobby. You’ll get to know most of your fellow guests – and even crew! - and make friendships that can last a lifetime. 

Small Cruise Ship Tip:
Some people think that smaller ships feel the ‘motion of the ocean’ more than bigger ships, but in this day and age, ship stabilizers are so good that being on a small ship doesn’t affect people who are worried about motion sickness any more than being on bigger ships. 

Mid-Sized Ships

Right there in the middle are the mid-sized ships. It’s hard to put an exact number on what makes a mid-sized ship but it’s more than a few hundred, and up to a couple of thousand – as high as 3000 guests? Maybe.

Sometimes it’s just a feel. Where there are extensive dining options, some themed design, plenty of activities, but you feel they are not overwhelming or trying to be everything to everyone. Or really focusing on the kids. 

Many mid-sized ships distinguish themselves by specializing in live music, or country club casual elegance, or Scandinavian design and cultural experiences, or their dining offering. 

Mid-Sized Cruise Ship Tip:
For many people, mid-sized ships strike that balance of things to do and variety with not too much energy or distance to travel. Each mid-sized cruise line has distinct character that makes it not about the size, so much as your personal cruise taste.

Start Your Cruise Trip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/travel journalist and expert.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.








Get a Glimpse of Real New Zealand in the Fantasy World of the New Lord of the Rings Series
Fantasy fans are heading back to Middle-earth with the release of the highly-anticipated TV series ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.’ Which means New Zealand’s real-life fantastical landscapes are taking center stage as the backdrop for the epic new series.
 
Of course, this isn’t the first time that film-makers have found that the unique and diverse geography of New Zealand is the nearest thing on Planet Earth to J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginary world of Middle-earth. The country also had a starring role as the location for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit.
 
As you immerse yourself in a new Tolkien epic on screen, or re-visit past favorites, watch out for these locations on New Zealand’s North and South Islands. Or take a pilgrimage to New Zealand to experience these real-life stand-in's for fictional locations for yourself.
 
 
The Rings of Power, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogies used the majestic Fiordland National Park for epic scenic shots. If you visit the park, you can experience its giant fiords and spectacular waterfalls on a helicopter flight or boat cruise. The grasslands of Te Anau Downs provided the backdrop for chase scenes, while Mararoa Saddle doubled as the wildlands through which Thorin leads the dwarves.

 
Piopio, Hamilton, Waikato
 
Piopio, with its picturesque landscapes and rolling farmland, is the perfect place to base yourself to explore the nearby attractions. 
 
Just 30 minutes from the world-famous Waitomo Caves, the Piopio area also boasts dramatic limestone formations, forest walks and cycling routes. Stay in the small village of around 400 people and experience true Kiwi hospitality and try a locally-made berry ice cream at the Piopio orchard.
 
The area is probably best known as a filming location for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Denize Bluffs were used for a number of scenes, including Trollshaw Forest.

 
Muriwai Beach, Auckland
 
A 40-mile, windswept rugged coastline, interrupted only by streams and rivers, makes Muriwai one of New Zealand's most spectacular black-sand surf beaches. You can hire blokarts, bikes and kites or simply take a stroll along the boardwalk that hugs the coastline and get a dose of fresh ocean air.
 
Putangirua Pinnacles, Wairarapa (pictured, top)
 
Around seven million years ago, the Aorangi Range was an island. As the mountains eroded, scree and gravel were washed down to the coast, where they formed a sedimentary layer. Over the past 120,000 years, the Putangirua Stream has exposed this ancient layer of gravel to the erosive forces of rain and floods. Some of the sediments stayed concreted together, while others washed away. The result is the Putangirua Pinnacles 'an amazing collection of hoodoos'.
 
This outlandish place was used as a filming location for the 'Paths of the Dead' scene in the Return of the King, the third movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
 
Three routes lead to the Putangirua Pinnacles or the lookout and all start from the streambed. From here, you can take the loop track junction and on to the lookout above the Pinnacles.
 
Kahurangi National Park, Tasman District
 
In the Māori language, Kahurangi means 'treasured possession', a clue to the attractions of New Zealand's second largest national park. Within its boundaries lie some of the oldest rocks, strangest plants and rarest birds in the country.
 
While much of the park is untracked wilderness, other areas are laced with a network of walking tracks that allow you to explore high plateaux and coastal palm forests. The Heaphy Track is the park’s most famous and accessible treasure, followed by more than 4000 walkers each year.
 
A ‘Great Walk’ by every definition, the track covers 50 miles of subtropical rainforest, tussock high country, river valley, and coast. For hundreds of years, the route was used by local Māori tribes on their way to the pounamu (greenstone) resources of the west coast.
 
 
The Mackenzie region is home to many high-country farms, dry tussock plains, stunning blue alpine lakes and jagged mountain ranges. Lake-town - one of the most extensive outdoor sets built for The Hobbit Trilogy - was created at Tasman Downs Station on the shores of Lake Pukaki. The whimsical lakeside village set sits over water incorporating clusters of two-storey wooden dwellings arranged around connecting walkways, waterways and wharves - all featuring the highly detailed style that Peter Jackson is recognized for.
 
One of the best ways to experience the majestic landscape is on scenic flights that offer an unending panorama of mountains, lakes, glaciers, and the oceans on either side - the Tasman Sea on the rugged West Coast and the Canterbury Plains fringed by the surging Pacific Ocean. There are also options for landings on glaciers and snow, or cross-country tours by 4WD and Argo, and glacier exploring by boat.
 
 
Hobbiton Movie Set, Hamilton, Waikato
 
In the heart of the Hamilton-Waikato region, explore the lush pastures of the ‘Shire’ with a guided walking tour of Hobbiton Movie Set, as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. This privately-owned family farm was spotted by Sir Peter Jackson in 1998 during an aerial search for filming locations for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
 
Mature pine trees in front of a picturesque lake with surrounding landscape, untouched by the clutter of modern life, perfectly resembled the Shire as described by author J.R.R. Tolkien. It became the famous setting for Hobbiton and was rebuilt in 2011 for The Hobbit Trilogy to remain a permanent tourist attraction. There are 44 Hobbit-holes on site that have been rebuilt exactly as they appeared on film.

 

Start your New Zealand / ‘Middle-earth’ Trip!

 
 
Images courtesy of Tourism New Zealand
Top image credit bennyjain
Muriwai Beach credit Chris McLennan
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.









7 Festivals and Events that Make Hawaii Irresistible This Fall
You may think of Hawaii as a Pacific paradise. But there’s so much more than mind-boggling sunsets over endless beaches, tropical breezes and scents, hula and ukeleles, surfing and luaus, poke and shave ice.
 
The fall months bring some of Hawaii’s most beloved events and festivals that add new focus and memories to a trip to the islands, as well as opportunities to “malama Hawaii,” helping work to protect the islands for residents and visitors alike. As if you needed any excuse, here are seven reasons to book a trip to Hawaii this fall.
 

MALAMA (GIVING BACK) HAWAII

Island of Hawaii: Get hands-on in conserving the Waikoloa Dry Forest habitat. Hawaii Forest & Trailhas launched a new voluntourism program for visitors, the Maunakea Summit and Stars Giveback Experience. On an interpretive walk, guests help collect native seeds to be used for future plantings restoring native forests. Your giving back hike ends with a sunset dinner at the summit of Maunakea volcano and private telescope stargazing led by interpretive guides.
 
Oahu: Another new program sees a partnership between Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach and Genki Ala Wai Project, a nonprofit organization deploying tennis ball sized mud “genki balls” into Waikīkī’s Ala Wai Canal to assist in removing sludge, debris and other pollutants. Each night’s stay at the luxury property on its Malama Hawaii package sees the hotel making a cash donation to the project, which helps preserve and restore the water ecosystem of the hotel’s neighbourhood. In addition, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikīkī Beach is also matching the package’s guests’ donation with a $10 donation of their own.
 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

Oahu: Aloha Festivals - September 10-24, 2022
A showcase of Hawaiian music, dance, history and the culture’s contributions to Hawai‘I, the Aloha Festivals preserve the unique traditions of the Islands’ Hawaiian culture.
 
Events are scheduled throughout September and include a floral parade, pageantry, and ho‘olauleʻa (festival) in Waikīkī, hula performances, and family-friendly activities.
 
 
Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival - October 14-15, 2022
Those in the know savor Hawaii’s home-grown coffee, and this annual culinary festival, held in the historic westside town, Hanapēpē, celebrates both Kauai-grown chocolate and coffee. You’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of chances for sampling!
 
In addition, festival attendees will find educational displays, a silent auction, children’s activities, workshops, live entertainment and exhibitor booths featuring a variety of chocolate and coffee products.
 
Oahu: Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival - October 15, 2022
Hawaii’s largest LGBTQ+ community event is a daylong celebration highlighted by the Honolulu Pride Parade – winding through Waikīkī from Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park to Kapiolani Park.
 
In addition to the parade, the Honolulu Pride Festival features live music, inspirational speeches and fun activities. For more information, visit
 
Kauai: Po‘ipū Food and Wine - October 19-22, 2022
Another culinary festival on Kauai, this one highlights the island’s local ingredients and chefs. The Po‘ipū Night Market is a block party featuring small-plate dishes and wine pairings alongside food demonstrations.
 
Guests have the option to purchase tickets for one, two or all three days, and real foodies may want to time their trip to double up their tastings at the Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival that wraps up just days earlier.
 
Island of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui: Hawaii Food and Wine Festival - October 20-November 6, 2022
This annual, inter-island festival features a roster of renowned Hawaiian and international chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers.
 
Taking place on all three islands, theHawaii Food and Wine Festival showcases the extraordinary diversity of multicultural cuisine and excellent locally grown-and-raised ingredients found across the islands. Dishes feature local produce, seafood and meats.
 
Statewide: Annual Hawaii International Film Festival - November 3-27, 2022
Cinephiles with a love of the tropics have been flocking to the Hawaii International Film Festival for over four decades. The 42nd annual Hawaii International Film Festival once again shares a slate of world-class international films for industry and visitors, alongside industry events all across the state.
 
Time your trip to Hawaii to enjoy in-theater screenings on Oahu between November 3-13 and on Island of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai between November 17-20.
 
Whether your interests run from food to film, ecology to diversity, your trip to Hawaii this fall can be even more memorable through festival events and the opportunity to meet Hawaiians keen to share their local lifestyle and passion for enriching the islands.
 

Start Your Hawaii Trip!

 
 
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
 
That's a 'First:' Norwegian Prima's Christening by Katy Perry Launches a Whole New Class of Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line has made a habit of inviting global musical superstars to act as new ship godmothers. In the case of the first of Norwegian’s Prima Class ships, pop icon Katy Perry did the honors of welcoming the Norwegian Prima into service, releasing a bottle of champagne to be broken across the Prima’s bow. 

'It was so much fun to sprinkle some fairy godmother dust on Norwegian Prima and send her on her way to sail the high seas,' said Katy Perry. 'I always appreciate a family vacation and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I was happy to wish all the vacationing guests a happy bon voyage!'

But this christening and this ship are also charting new waters.
 
For one thing, the event on August 27th made history as the first major cruise ship christening in Reykjavik, Iceland. 


So although of course, Perry took to the stage with a powerhouse performance of some of her hits, including “Firework” and “Roar,” the christening event included performances by Icelandic talent, including EuroVision fan favorites, Icelandic singer-songwriter Bríet joining the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and an LED lightshow by a local multi-media artist.
 

Prima Means “First”

The first of six planned Prima-class of ships, and the 18th ship in the NCL fleet, Norwegian Prima herself is scoring off the charts in ‘firsts’ and ‘mosts,’ with some only-on-Prima experiences. 


Norwegian claims the 3000-guest ship has “the highest staffing levels and space ratio of any contemporary or premium cruise ship.” Prima has “the largest variety of suite categories available at sea.” And Norwegian took the opportunity of launching a new class of ship to ‘redefine’ its famous luxury small ship-within-a-ship concept called The Haven, where guests have exclusive keycard access to their own suite, pool, lounge, and restaurant facilities. 
Prima’s round-the-clock recreation includes Prima Speedway, the first three-level racetrack at sea, and the fastest waterslides on any cruise ship: the Rush and the Drop. 


Spaces like Ocean Boulevard, the 44,000 square foot outdoor walk way which wraps around the entire ship; The Concourse, which boasts a multi-million dollar outdoor sculpture garden; and expansive pool decks and infinity style pools at Infinity Beach, offer guests a chance to slow down and relax in ‘prime’ surroundings. 


Inaugural Season

Norwegian Prima’s inaugural season is also a departure from the ordinary. She’ll be gracing ports throughout Europe and North America on a sort of ‘debut-ante’ tour. 

Prima begins inaugural voyages to Northern Europe from the Netherlands, Denmark and England beginning Sept. 3, 2022, before crossing the Atlantic en route to the U.S. 

She will then sail voyages to the Caribbean from New York City, Galveston, Texas, and Miami in October and November, before settling into her homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., and Galveston, Texas for the 2023 and 2024 cruise seasons.

Start your Cruise Trip!



Images courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




The Caribbean Island Named #1 for Both Honeymoons - and Adventure!
Like its famous Twin Pitons, Saint Lucia’s been recognized as having two-pronged top appeal for visitors to this Windward Island in the West Indies. Recently, Saint Lucia was recognized for the 13th time as the Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination by the World Travel Awards. And for the first time, it’s also been dubbed the region’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination. That’s a lot of love – and a lot of action - for this less than-250 square mile island.

Maybe it all starts with the captivating Twin Pitons, the symbol of Saint Lucia and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The island’s distinguishing claim to fame is its famous silhouette: two ‘Pitons’ or dramatic, craggy, dormant volcanic plugs on the southwestern coast that have served as the identifying landmark of the island for centuries. They aren’t exactly ‘twins.’ The side-by-side spires, called Gros (‘big’) and Petit (‘little’) each ring in at 2530 and 2438 feet high respectively.


Viewed at a distance, either from sea on a yacht, catamaran or cruise ship, or from land at a viewpoint or from your hotel or resort, the Pitons scream ‘tropical romance.’ Their emerald peaks conjure up fantasies of a romantic, tropical escape, and definitely feed an idyllic honeymoon atmosphere.

On the other hand, exploring these iconic landmarks defines tropical adventure. You can hike around the Pitons, discovering exotic plants and wildlife. Or you can see them from a different perspective, sailing or kayaking past the coast by water.

That duality of romance and outdoor, tropical activity is endless, from coral reefs, astonishing waterfalls, tropical rainforest, incredible nature trails, one of the world’s few ‘drive-in’ volcanoes, therapeutic hot springs and mud baths. Every element begging for both adventure and relationship-building for two.

In addition to Saint Lucia’s natural wonders and activities to experience them, couples discover the height of romance at renowned local resorts, including Jade Mountain, Ladera Resort, Sugar Beach, Stonefield Villa Resort, Windjammer Landing, Fond Doux Plantation & Resort, Serenity at Coconut Bay, BodyHoliday, The Landings Resort and Spa, Cap Maison, Sandals Grande and many more.

 
Saint Lucia likes to say that it’s “completely dedicated to couples in love.” Its hospitality includes staying in a room with awe-inspiring views of the Piton Mountains, a private plunge pool, outdoor shower, and a hammock for two strung across the veranda. 
 

This is where ‘taking the plunge’ has double meaning. In addition to adventuring together, lovebirds can tie the knot in inventive and memorable destinations, from quaint tropical churches to plantation estates, private villas, botanical gardens, yachts or a lighthouse. And naturally, proceed straight from ‘I do’ to honeymooning bliss.
 
Beyond the Pitons and beaches, resorts and the great outdoors, honeymooners and adventurers take time to explore the bustling marketplace in the capital of Castries, quaint coastline fishing villages, and a calendar of annual events that attract visitors from around the globe.
 
Whether you’re in love with each other or in love with adventure – or both! - Saint Lucia should be on your tropical island travel bucket list.
  

Start your Saint Lucia Trip!

 
Images courtesy of Saint Lucia Tourism Authority

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 













Regent Seven Seas Cruises' New Shore Excursions Immerse You in Ecology, Design
Calling all design lovers and eco-wanderers! Luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas Cruises has launched two new shore excursion concepts. “Behind the Design” and “Eco-Connect” shore excursions roll out beginning in 2022, and give guests new ways to explore destinations and landmarks from unique perspectives that are right up your alley.

The new shore excursions join Regent’s Go Local tours, Gourmet Explorer tours and Wellness tours.

Even better, Regent’s an all-inclusive cruise line, and many of the new tours are included for guests. The cruise line says these two new concepts “were created to offer experiences that even the most seasoned traveler has yet to enjoy.”

“Behind the Design”

Behind the Design tours offer incredible insights about some of the world’s most captivating and brilliant architectural feats.There are already 10 “Behind the Design” tours - all in Europe – in 2022, expanding to more destinations around the world in the months to follow.
 
All offer special, little-known stories and information from knowledgeable guides about the inspiration, reasoning and genius that brought these marvels to life. Behind the Design tours being launched focus on sites in Marseille, France, Copenhagen, Denmark, Oslo, Norway, Barcelona, Spain; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; La Coruna, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and Sete, France. See examples below!
 
“Eco-Connect”
There are over 150 Eco-Connect tours to choose from around the globe, that let you engage with local groups and businesses to learn about how they are working to conserve and sustain their surrounding environment.
 
The tours, many of which provide an educational element, offer guests the opportunity to take part in a variety of experiences. Eco-Connect tours span the globe including Africa, Alaska, Asia, Australia & New Zealand, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Northern Europe and South America. See examples below!
 
Check out examples of Regent's new tours!

 

Behind the Design: Marseille, France

La Villa Mediterranée & MUCEM

Gain an insider’s understanding of the challenges in building two avant-garde landmarks, by touring them with an architectural historian. Perched along the waterfront, La Villa Mediterranée was designed to embody Marseille’s deep bond with the sea. Instantly recognized for its prominent cantilevered overhang, this three-level public space also features a conference center with portholes beneath the sea. As guests will discover, that lower floor presented all sorts of unusual circumstances that pushed the boundaries of architecture. The building faces MUCEM, a national museum devoted to Mediterranean civilizations. Its audacious design includes elements such as tree-like columns, a lacy façade that resembles a fishnet and a slender footbridge that connects it to the towering ramparts of Fort St. Jean. The concrete filigree that shields much of the structure is particularly stunning.
 
 

Behind the Design: Copenhagen, Denmark

Royal Library & Blue Planet

Browse two radical, modernistic buildings with an architectural historian that will reveal little known facts about their extraordinary designs. The Black Diamond extension to Copenhagen’s Royal Library is as revolutionary as it looks. The irregularly shaped monolithic prism is clad in black granite and leans toward the river to capture as much natural light as possible. The building’s significant tilt, wave-like balconies and expanding form as it rises from bottom to top presented a slew of design challenges that the guide will explain. The Blue Planet may be even more striking as it is the largest aquarium in Europe and resembles a giant whirlpool – a design inspired by the shape of water in endless motion. The building’s exterior is covered in aluminum panels that are reminiscent of fish scales, while the interior curved ceiling evokes images of the baleens of a massive whale.
 

Behind the Design: Oslo, Norway

Equinor & Munchmuseet

Discover how two extraordinarily modern buildings have transformed Oslo’s skyline and pushed the boundaries of design. The iconic Equinor office building consists of five separate rectangular modules stacked on top of each other at different angles, all to optimize daylight and views. Guests will also learn fascinating details about how the atrium’s propeller-shaped glass roof was designed to withstand months of extra weight from snow. Similarly, climate conditions influenced the design of the Munchmuseet, a 13-story museum dedicated to the works of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. It is constructed with low-carbon concrete and aluminum cladding that reflects harsh sunlight and is cooled with seawater. The top of the building intentionally tips forward as if bowing to Oslo in homage.

  

Eco-Connect: Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux Wines and Sustainability

On this Eco-Connect tour guests will discover how converting to biodynamic and organic farming has further elevated the quality of the esteemed wines at Château de La Dauphine in this appellation with a 2000-year history. Biodynamic farming takes a holistic, ethical approach that follows the harmonious cycles of nature, specifically the movement of the moon and planets. As guests tour the vineyards, they will learn more about biodynamics and how it affects the terroir and the taste of the wines. The sampling that follows will lend even more insight.

 (Image courtesy Visit Costa Rica)

Eco-Connect: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

A Sloth Paradise – Give Back to Nature

Visiting a sanctuary for sloths that have been orphaned or injured or lost their habitat due to deforestation, guests will have a close-up look at the animals as they are rehabilitated in hopes of returning them to the wild. Sloths are the world’s slowest animals and spend nearly all-day hanging upside down in trees, rarely traveling more than 125 feet. If their habitat is disturbed or destroyed, the sloths are at great risk. Guests can expect to observe baby sloths and plenty of adults in various stages of rehabilitation. Deforestation is one of the biggest threats to sloths, so to help their cause, travelers may plant a tree in a nearby forest reserve.
 

Eco-Connect: Hue, Vietnam

Bach Ma National Park Eco-System

Guests can hike through the mountainous Bach Ma National Park with a naturalist who will point out and describe the remarkably diverse flora and fauna. Bach Ma means “white horse,” a reference to the clouds that ride the wind around the granite summit. Although the ruins of homes that the colonial French built to escape the summer heat are still visible, most every other sight will be natural. Birds are abundant, including red-headed trogons and scarlet minivets, which are easy to spot because of their bright coloring. A fifth of all the plant species found in Vietnam flourish in the park, and rare orchids may be seen. The summit will afford panoramic views of the mountains, Tam Giang lagoon and Hue.

Start Your Cruise Trip!



Top image provided by Regent Seven Seas Cruises

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






Castles and Coastlines, The Berlin Wall and 'Baths:' Four Incredible Cycling Routes in Germany
Health- and eco-conscious, Germans have embraced bicycles for getting around urban centers every day, and on leisure time in the countryside. Visitors can take a cue from the locals and explore the country on two wheels, too.

Germany has a strong cycling infrastructure, including rental, repair and other services catering to cyclists, plus a vast, nation-wide network of cycling trails that give you new perspective into the country’s fascinating ancient and modern history, its culture and lifestyle.

Here are four cycling routes in different corners of the country to let you experience Germany like a local – on two wheels - on your next trip to one of the largest countries in Europe.

De Küst: Coastal Scenics and Tasty Crab

This 40-mile coastal cycling trail along Germany’s North Sea in Lower Saxony brings you up close to the country’s seaside life.

In addition to miles of picturesque coastline, you’ll see landmarks like a romantic lighthouse, dikes and other man-made water works, and three historic cutter harbors.

If you love to breathe the fresh sea air and dine on local seafood including delicious local crab rolls, this is the cycling tour in Germany for you. Here you will find perfect conditions for bikers, including special bike farms that offer service for everything to do with your bike, including repairs.
 

Spa Cycling Route: Alpine Wellness

Indulge in idyllic German wellness, spa hopping with a view of the Alps along this 150-mile trail that connects spa resorts, thermal baths and tranquil, historic Old Towns. 
 
Don’t let the word ‘Alps’ scare you! The route is described as ‘slightly hilly,’ and with so many spas along the way, even if you break a sweat, you’ll have the perfect excuse – and multiple choices of destinations – to relax in a natural hot spring ‘bath.’
 
The Spa Cycle Route starts off on the hilly side in Überlingen by Lake Constance. It charts a course through a number of well-maintained thermal baths that are hard to resist, and stunning natural scenery featuring lakes, hills and moorland, forests and meadows, nature reserves and parks. The final leg of the journey involves a ride along the railway tracks to the market town of Ottobeuren, followed by a hilly section to the destination of Bad Wörishofen, with views of the Alpine foothills along the way.
 

100 Castles and Palaces: A Romance of History Route


This ambitious, 600-mile route may ‘lord’ it over all other cycling routes in Germany, celebrating as it does the country’s fairytale castles and palaces.

Luckily, you don’t have to tackle the whole 600 miles! Four interconnecting loops, which are predominantly flat, wind their way through green parks, meadows and pastures with more than 100 castles and palaces in the Münsterland region in Germany’s northwest.

Cyclists can choose where to start from, and in many cases the attractions are only short miles apart. The glorious heyday of knights, barons and princes is brought back to life by pretty Old Towns, gardens reminiscent of Versailles and buildings in the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. In more good news for cyclists, the Münsterland region is known for its extensive range of facilities for cyclists.

 (Image courtesy German National Tourism Board; Julia Nimke)


Berlin Wall Trail: Meeting Modern History

The Berlin Wall divided the German capital for 28 history-making, tense years, perhaps the most famous symbol of the 20th century’s Cold War. The best way to explore what is left of the former border installations in the heart of the capital of the former East Germany is on two wheels.

The Berlin Wall Trail is a hundred-mile loop leading cyclists on mostly flat terrain past the last remaining watchtowers, museums and memorials through the modern-day city center and around the old border. The blend of nature and dramatic history makes the Berlin Wall Trail a themed city tour and a scenic route and an ideal outdoor activity in one – all in one of Germany’s most exciting cities.

 

Start Your Cycling Trip!

 
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





In this BestTrip TV video, Lynn Elmhirst visits the famous Fogo Island Inn, on a remote fishing island in the North Atlantic off the shore of Newfoundland.

Not only is the Inn rated one of the top luxury lodges in the world, with award-winning and breathtaking architecture and design that still reflects the culture and craftsmanship of Fogo Island and Fogo Islanders. They call it 'hand-made modern,' and with only 30 rooms on this island that's 'far away from far away,' any trip is a ripe for memory-making, if not for the design or the dramatic natural surroundings, but for the opportunities the Inn creates for visitors to immerse themselves in the real life and lifestyle of this 400-year old fishing community.

The Fogo Island Inn is also the 'economic engine' of a foundation with a vision of a new way of creating spectacular tourism experiences that become a cornerstone of community economic benefit and cultural and social preservation, especially for small remote communities in danger of losing their identities, way of life, and even the entire community to the relentless march of modern life.

Lynn speaks to sister/ brother Zita Cobb and Alan Cobb, Innkeeper/ Founders of the Fogo Island Inn and Shorefast, the charity that strategically puts profits back into the local community to ensure it thrives in the modern world for generations to come.

Start your Island Trip!


All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





Getting 'Salty' in Anguilla
“Water, water, everywhere, but not any drop to drink.” Being surrounded by seawater takes on new meaning in the British Caribbean island of Anguilla, where locals are rediscovering the luxury destination’s ‘salty’ history.

Anguilla’s only 16 miles long and 3 miles at its widest; a slender length of coral and limestone fringed with green, ringed with 33 beaches. A gem of the northern Caribbean, the island is an off-the-beaten path luxury retreat for celebrities looking for quiet seclusion, as well as other savvy travelers.

This small island is dotted with about 17 lagoons – but there’s a catch. They’re not fresh water. Like a number of other islands in the region, Anguilla relies on collected rainwater, underwater aquifers, and desalination of seawater for its water supply.

When Europeans first arrived at the island in the 1600’s, they uncovered a unique local treasure: Anguilla’s ‘salt ponds.’ Before the days of refrigeration, salt wasn’t just a seasoning. It was one of the best ways to preserve meat, fish, and other food, and was a precious commodity. In fact, the word ‘salary’ was derived from the Latin word for ‘salt.’

So began the start of salt production on the island. Reportedly, for over three hundred years, close to 100,000 barrels of naturally occurring salt were ‘harvested’ each year from the salt ponds and exported.

As tourism grew in Anguilla in the 1980’s, the salt industry faded in economic importance, but natural salt remained part of local identity, culture, and history. Today, Anguillans are rebuilding the local salt pond lifestyle.

(Above and top images: Visit Anguilla)

Most of the action is at the Road Salt Pond, a 100-acre lagoon that’s the largest enclosed body of water on Anguilla.

Nature lovers and bird watchers ‘flock’ to the Road Salt Pond. The unique wetland environment is a designated ‘Important Bird Area’ as a breeding site supporting the populations of over a hundred types of birds.


Locals have begun a new cottage industry of salt harvesting, and local tours take visitors to the pond to ‘pick’ salt by hand like generations of Anguillans did for hundreds of years.

You can even to take a dip in the highly mineralized - and therefore, therapeutic, water.

Beyond the salt ponds themselves, locally-harvested salt is finding its way into the everyday life – and visitor experience on Anguilla. 


(Image: Belmond Cap Juluca)

Spas at two of the most luxurious resorts on Anguilla draw on the local salt’s natural, therapeutic qualities. The Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla offers guests an ‘Anguilla Salt Body Polish,’ and at the spa at Belmond Cap Juluca (pictured above) you can take a ‘Salt Soak Bath.’

And the Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla has a restaurant dubbed ‘SALT’ (pictured, below) that celebrates locally-sourced salt as a gourmet ingredient.

(Image: Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla)

So you might go to Anguilla for the sea and the sand… but some of the best stories, memories and souvenirs you take away…. may be the salt!

Start Your Island Trip!




All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.