Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oceania Cruises Gives Us A Taste Of The World

Without a doubt, for me, one of the most satisfying aspects of traveling is eating! I’m a huge fan of tasting the food from every country I visit.  After all, if you don’t try the local specialties you lose a chance to truly explore the country and it’s culture! Well, it seems like Oceania Cruises feels the same way, confirmed by the introduction of the new and exciting “Taste of the World” menu!

“Taste of the World” is an option guests may select on the lunch menu served in the Grand Dining Room or the Terrace Café.  Each plate consisting of six or seven beautifully presented tastings representing the cuisine of one of thirteen countries. Guests may order the plate as their entrée or as an appetizer to share with their tablemates.

Traditional British cuisine is substantial, yet simple and wholesome. The plate that represents English cuisine consists of portions of salmon cake with tartar sauce, roast beef with coleslaw, soft eggs with potato salad, traditional fish and chips, honey & mustard pickled vegetables, classic Yorkshire pudding and minced beef and onion pie.

A blend of Chinese, Arawak Indian, French, Indian, British, African, and Spanish cuisines is what makes Caribbean food so unique.  The Caribbean plate created by the Oceania chefs is made up of jerk chicken with dirty rice, avocado & pineapple salad with passion fruit vinaigrette, crab cake with fiery poblano aioli, tart lemon marinated fruit salad, dhal puri flat bread and acras de morue and sweet potatoes.

The Provence region includes the Rhône and Durance valleys; highly fertile agricultural areas which are considered to be the garden of France. Fish and shellfish are also eaten in abundance. Oceania chefs represent the region with a plate of salted cod aioli, artichokes barigoule, chicken liver pate with aubergine in vinegar, spicy Nice black olive tapenade, fried barbajuan with spinach and ricotta stuffing, traditional salad nicoise with tuna and green olive fougasse.

The cuisine aboard the Oceania ships is amongst the finest at sea, yet their chefs have found yet another way to make it even more exciting. “Tastes of the World” gives Oceania cruisers the opportunity to immerse themselves more deeply into the culture of the region they are visiting through this new gastronomic experience.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Royal Caribbean Ships Certified as “Autism Friendly”

Autism on the Seas is an organization that arranges and staffs cruise and land resort vacations for families with special needs children including autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental impairments. Autism on the Seas recently awarded Royal Caribbean ""autism-friendly"" certification, which makes it the first cruise line to receive this distinction.

So, what does this mean to a family with an autistic child that books their next cruise vacation with Royal Caribbean? It means that these families can be confident that all Royal Caribbean ships have autism friendly products and services that will help accommodate family members with autism.  Families will appreciate the priority check-in, boarding and departure, special dietary accommodations, Adventure Ocean Youth Program specialized grouping and Adventure Ocean toilet-trained policy exception.

Right now Royal Caribbean holds “bronze” level certification, but my late this year the cruise line hopes to be upped to “silver”. “Silver” status ensures that Adventure Ocean youth staff will have received basic awareness training in autism and other developmental disabilities Features that are being added include autism friendly movies when there are a least five children with autism onboard.  This means that films will be shown in a low-lit / low-volume environment in which guests can freely talk and get up and walk around during the showing. The cruise line looks forward to making appropriate toys available for lending as well as scheduled activities for children of all abilities. Written or visual guides will be made available to help families better prepare for the cruise experience.

Accommodating the needs of the growing and underserved autism community is a defining moment in the travel industry. Royal Caribbean’s initiative to accommodate this population should be commended, as it will open the door towards filling the gap for special needs families looking for a vacation with consideration made for their wide range of unique requirements.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Celebrity Cruises Visits Iceland

Exotic lands…mystical cities…Celebrity Cruise Line has certainly been putting together some of interesting land-sea vacation packages!   The Celebrity Constellation’s “Journey to Three Continents” gave travelers the opportunity to experience an African safari before cruising the Black Sea.  The newest pre-cruise escapade takes adventurous travelers to “The Land of Fire and Ice”… Iceland! Three nights are spent in the capital city of Reykjavik, the perfect home base for the adventure that follows!

More than half of Iceland’s 320,000 inhabitants call Reykjavik home, yet a mere twenty-minute drive from the city center takes you into the isolation of Iceland's spectacular landscape; striking features of boiling mud pools, gushing geysers, lava and hot springs. The Golden Circle Tour, one of three  excursions that are included by Celebrity, takes participants to these Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Gullfoss Waterfall, and the geothermal active valley of Haukadalur, which contains the geysers of Geysir and Strokkur.

Another guided tour visits the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.  Believe it or not, the spa was accidentally formed by run-off from a power plant, which pumps up the geothermally heated water from a full mile below the surface. People began bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin. Conditions such as psoriasis were greatly improved from the mud application.  Those who oversee Blue Lagoon wisely saw opportunity in that, and began developing different spa services and products. Today the Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland!

However for many, the biggest draw of this trip may well be the Northern Lights, the eerie shimmering curtain of glowing colors, undulating across the night sky! Iceland’s location, just below the Arctic Circle, is a prime location for viewing this phenomenal masterpiece. Due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field of Iceland’s northern latitude, one can see Auroral activity on a average 100 nights a year!

This amazing 3-night pre-cruise package can be added to the 12-night Northern Europe itinerary aboard the Celebrity Infinity cruise on 10/1/14 or the 14-night Canary Island itinerary aboard the Celebrity Eclipse cruise departing on 10/5/14."

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Bermuda: Off the Beaten Path

With its blue sky, pink sand, and azure water, its obvious why there are so many cruise ships lined up at Kings Wharf, Bermuda between April and October!  Whether you’re cruising to Bermuda for the first time this year, or returning yet again, we’d like to suggest some places that will take you off the beaten path, allowing you to discover a different side of Bermuda.

Spittal Pond is a national park located in Smiths Parish. This 64-acre reserve, which stretches along the coast, provides a diversity of habitats having several freshwater ponds with surrounding marsh and woodland areas.  It’s Bermuda’s largest bird sanctuary, so remember to bring your binoculars.  Spittal Pond has unique geological features too, such as the checkerboard, a formation of marine limestone with a distinct pattern of cracks. Look for the ""Spanish Rock"", (also known as ""Portuguese Rock"") which carries the initials of a sailor and the date 1543! The initials are the earliest evidence of human presence on the island.  It is thought that a marooned sailor, while looking out for a ship from the cliff top, carved the rock.  Today the spot is still offers the perfect vantage point for some views!  The reserve can be easily explored by following the well-marked loop trail that starts at the parking area.

Cricket is the most popular sport on the Bermuda and there’s no better way to immerse oneself in the island’s culture than attending a match! Although the game play and rules are very different, the basic concept of cricket somewhat resembles that of baseball. Teams bat in successive innings and attempt to score runs, while the opposing team fields and attempts to bring an end to the batting team's innings. Cricket is played during the summer with the season culminating with the Bermuda Club Match. During this two-day holiday the whole of the island turns its attention to the game that opposes teams of each side of the island, the Somerset Cricket Club in the west and the St. George’s Cricket Club in the east.

Tom Moore’s Jungle (also called The Walsingham Nature Reserve) is found on the North East of Harrington Sound in Hamilton Parish. It was named after Thomas Moore, an Irish poet, who in 1844 wrote some of his famous works here, supposedly while resting under a calabash tree. The jungle, often described as a “time traveling experience”, transports you back to the 1500’s when Bermuda was an uninhabitable, uncharted piece of land. The most convenient entrance to the jungle is a dirt path to the left of the entrance to Tom Moore’s Tavern. The entire jungle can be accessed by one of two main trails. There’s a lovely trail that sticks closer to the shore, and a more difficult wooded trail with multiple tributaries that winds throughout the inland parts of the reserve.  Under the dense cover of trees hikers will pass through mangroves, forests and pools of water. There are amazing caves all throughout the walk, one viewable from a wooden deck. There is a hard to find swimming grotto with clearly defined steps leading to the water, but remember you are entering at your own risk.

Horseback riding is a beautiful way to experience Bermuda.  Horses cannot be hired and ridden without supervision, as Bermuda has very strict laws regarding horseback riding in public areas, however there are several equine facilities available for group trail rides. No riding experience is necessary, just a wish to experience the beauty of Bermuda on horseback.  The stables offer group horseback riding along the historic railway trail, through quaint villages and on the dunes of the south shore beaches. Trail guides share a wealth of information about Bermuda peppered with entertaining folk tales, making it a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

 So if you’re cruising to Bermuda this summer, and looking for something other than another blissful day at Horseshoe Bay, we hope you find these suggestions helpful."