Anglo Scottish Travel Brampton's Blog

This New Cruise Ship Bar Beat Out Restaurants, Hotels and More to Win “Best Beverage Menu” Award
Why just have a drink – when you can have a story, too? That’s the premise behind the cruise ship bar menu that’s won out over competitors throughout the world of hospitality.

“Best Beverage Menu” was awarded to Holland America Line for its newest bar concept onboard its newest ship at the 2022 VIBE (that’s the Very Important Beverage Executives) conference.

That means this bar menu isn’t just the best at sea. The award is open to any venue in the entire beverage space, and Holland America Line went up against other bars in hospitality, including restaurant groups, hotel chains, casinos, and more for the honor.

The “Half Moon Bar” debuted on board Holland America Line’s new flagship, the Rotterdam, which launched in fall, 2021. 


I traveled on the Rotterdam in the Caribbean in the fall, and can attest that the new bar concept is one of the great new innovations on Holland America Line’s latest ship. I’m not surprised that Half Moon Bar has – in just months – become “the most popular bar on board,” I’m told.

Half Moon Bar pays homage to Holland America Line in a couple of ways. It’s named after the cruise line’s private island in the Caribbean. And its bar menu tells the history of the line and cruising through the lens of its cocktails.
Each carefully crafted cocktail comes with its own fascinating tale, and simply reading the now award-winning bar menu transports you back in time on a journey though Holland America Line’s history.


Time-traveling tipples on the menu include:

·      “The Original,” (pictured above) which celebrates Holland America Line’s first ship, Rotterdam I. It’s crafted from Dutch gin and a hint of single malt Scotch, ingredients inspired by the building of the ship and Holland America Line’s Dutch beginnings.
 
·      “De Halve Moon” ties into the line’s origins as ocean liner travel between Rotterdam and New York (which, you may recall, used to be Dutch and was called “Nieuw Amsterdam” before it was renamed New York City.) De Halve Moon is an ode to the Dutch sense of exploration and the botanical wonderland Henry Hudson found in present-day New York. It’s composed of Old Duff genever (the Dutch precursor to gin), lemon rosewater shrub and DDG Bitters.
 
·      “Three Mile Run” is a prohibition cocktail that tells the story of Holland America Line Prohibition-era ‘cruises to nowhere’ New Yorkers could take to get around no-alcohol rules. Once in open waters (three miles out), cocktail bars on the ship could be legally open, and quenching the thirst of New Yorkers for a strong one. It is made from a combination of lemon, honey and gin for a Bee’s Knees, whiskey for a Gold Rush or rum for a Honey Bee.
 
·      “May She Be Blessed” is an ode to the godmothers who bless the Holland America Line ships. The elegant and feminine cocktail is made with champagne and the guest’s choice of essence.
 
·      “Rotterdam VII” is dedicated to its namesake ship. The current Rotterdam is the seventh vessel to have that name in the nearly 150-year history of the line. Like the ship herself, the cocktail salutes both tradition and innovation, with its combination of smoked gin and maraschino.
 
If you’re imagining yourself on holiday, sipping an inventive cocktail with new and old friends and sharing a laugh and a good story, Half Moon Bar on Holland America Line’s new Rotterdam might be your best place to be.


Book a Holland American Line cruise on the Rotterdam or any other ship in the Caribbean to visit the Half Moon Bar's namesake, Half Moon Cay (pictured above.) A day at Half Moon Cay - no matter what you're drinking - is the ultimate island beach day.
 

Start your Cruise Trip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, TV show producer/ host and cruise expert

Images courtesy of Holland America Line

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







Get Refreshed at the Most Fabulous Fountains in Europe this Summer
Imagine your ideal European summer escape. Chances are, one of the sounds you hear is the splashing water of a fountain in the town square on a lazy afternoon.

From ancient times, communities were built up around their local source of water. Eventually, many European cities then gave their sources of water sculptural and architectural treatments. That transformed them from watering holes… to wondrous waterworks and focal points of the European lifestyle travelers love.

There’s nothing quite so refreshing as the sound of water on a hot summer’s day. Especially when you’re seated at a café in the town square, a glass of the local tipple in hand, living the good life – European style.

So make the most of a trip to Europe this summer, and re-discover the primal connection we have to the local water hole at one of these famous fountains.

Trevi Fountain – Rome

Of all the magnificent monuments in the Eternal City, almost no one misses a visit to the Trevi Fountain (pictured, top). It’s the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, possibly in the world. And definitely one of the most famous.

Its spectacular scale - 86 feet high and over 160 feet wide – is matched by the splendor of its 18th century marble sculptures of Greek gods seen by day or lit up by night.

The word Trevi provides a clue to its ancient origins in historic Rome. It’s located at the intersection of three roads (tre vie), and it's the terminus of one of the aqueducts that supplied water for centuries to ancient Rome.

Today, over 20 million gallons of water flow through the Trevi fountain – every day! But it’s recycled and no longer drinkable.

Visiting Tip: For centuries, visitors to the Trevi Fountain have tossed coins into its waters. The tradition is to throw with your right hand over your left shoulder while facing away from the fountain for luck in returning to Rome once more, and for romance and marriage. Over a million euros a year are thrown into the Trevi Fountain. It’s emptied nightly of coins, which are donated to help feed Rome’s hungry.


Manneken Pis, Brussels, Belgium

From one of the biggest… to one of the smallest. Which proves that when it comes to fountains, size isn’t everything.
Belgium’s entry into our list of famous fountains is just two feet tall, and I think you can put together enough of its name in the local language to know what it’s called.

The bronze sculpture of a boy urinating into the fountain’s basin was erected in the early 1600’s and is one of the most famous symbols of both Brussels and Belgium. Just a short walk from Brussels’ ‘Grand Place’ or main square, the misbehaving boy is considered an example of the local folk humor.

From its beginning, long before there was a bronze statue of a naughty boy, the fountain was on the site of lines supplying drinking water to the residents of the city.

Visiting Tip: Taking the quirky humor of the fountain’s design to new levels, the statue is dressed in different costumes several times each week. You can view his entire, thousand-plus wardrobe of costumes in a special-purpose museum Garderobe MannekenPis, and the original, five hundred year old sculpture is in the Brussels City Museum.


Jet d’Eau, Geneva, Switzerland

Compared to the Trevi Fountain or the Manneken Pis, the Jet d’Eau in Lake Geneva is downright modern, dating from the late 1800’s. The present fountain was installed in 1951 and pumps water in Lake Geneva where it meets the Rhone River. 

Unlike other fountains that channel water hidden from view, the Jet d’Eau started for the practical purpose of acting as a pressure-release safety valve of a hydraulic plant on Lake Geneva. Its name simply means ‘Water Jet.’

The jet fountain quickly became the symbol of the city, and the current version is one of the tallest jet fountains in the world, shooting water 130 gallons (500 liters) per second up to a height of over 450 feet (140 meters.) At any given moment, there are about 1800 gallons (7000 liters) of water in the air.

The Jet d’Eau is visible throughout the city of Geneva and even from the air flying over Geneva.
 
Visiting Tip: You can also see the Jet d’Eau up close by walking along a jetty from the left bank of Lake Geneva. But if the wind changes suddenly, prepared to get wet!


Aix en Provence, France

The former capital of Provence in the south of France, Aix is also known as the ‘City of Water’ and ‘City of 1000 Fountains.’ That’s because Aix was built over top of natural, underground springs and hot springs, the famous French ‘eau des sources’. Fountains were built throughout town to capture and funnel the water for use. Many of Aix’ fountains today are still fed by these aquifers.

The Romans, famous bathers, discovered the thermal waters and called Aix ‘Aquae Sextiae’, or the ‘Waters of Sextius, and installed baths. The town is still famous as a spa town, using the underground hot springs, and one spa still uses the Roman term in its name: Thermes Sextius.

The fountains you’ll see today visiting Aix en Provence date from the 1600’s, and are a wide variety of structures with sculptures of dolphins, animals, and people shooting water into a basin.

Visiting Tips: Residents of Aix still interact with their many fountains, not just looking at them. Dogs bathe, restaurants cool their wine, and some even have water that’s drinkable.
 
They say that travel is the fountain of youth, but in these and many other European cities, you can take that concept literally.
 

Start Your European Trip!

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip TV
 
Images: Getty




10 Amazing New Museums to Visit in the U.S. in 2022
From cultural giants like George Lucas and Bob Dylan, to New York’s Broadway or America's mountain peaks, to milestones in Latino and African American heritage – not to mention spellbinding art from the country's past... and future! - across the U.S., museums are having a renaissance, with new openings that reflect some of the most fascinating themes of modern America.

Don't forget to add one of these newly-opened museums to your agenda if you’re traveling to any of these U.S. cities soon:
 

Los Angeles, California:

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Philanthropist and filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments founded the $1-billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. It is set to premier in 2023 in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park.
 
The museum will bring together mass-produced images, showcasing the richness and complexity of visual storytelling. The galleries will feature works from Lucas’ personal collection of more than 100,000 pieces of fine and popular art as well as “Star Wars” ephemera, not to mention state-of-the-art cinematic theatres, numerous dedicated spaces for learning and engagement, green spaces and restaurants.

 
 

Seattle, Washington:

NFT Museum
 
NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, and it’s a hot trend for the technically savvy. NFT’s have been compared to digital, collectible baseball cards, whose ownership can be tracked through packets of data called blockchain. The world’s first NFT museum in Seattle (above, and top) has been billed as the first art museum and gallery to exhibit blockchain art. It’s a revolutionary new era in art history.
 
The 3,000-square-foot space houses more than 30 custom-designed screens where visitors can see artwork by local and international artists. Highlights include pieces by the Los Angeles-based crypto artist Blake Kathryn, Larva Labs' hugely popular CryptoPunks avatars and Seattle-based photographer Charles Peterson, showcasing never-before-seen photos of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain as NFTs. www.seattlenftmuseum.com 
 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

Black Holocaust Museum
 
The Black Holocaust Museum, founded in 1988 by Dr. James Cameron, has reopened to the public following a 14-year closure. The opening once again cements Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district as a center of African American culture.
 
From 1910 to the 1950s, Bronzeville buzzed with Black-owned businesses, but that character was destroyed by “urban renewal” projects that affected Black neighbourhoods across America. Today, Milwaukee’s Bronzeville is supported by $400 million of redevelopment funds which are helping to reinvigorate its history and heritage. The 10,000-square-foot space takes visitors on a journey through more than 4,500 years of African and African American history.
 
 

Washington DC :

The Molina Family Latino Gallery
The Molina Family Latino Gallery is the Smithsonian’s first gallery on the National Mall to celebrate the Latino experience in the United States.
 
The 4,500-square-foot gallery will open with ¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States, an exhibition that shines the spotlight on the historical and cultural legacy of U.S. Latinos, offering visitors the chance to engage with first-person digital storytellers, data-driven maps, videos and illustrated biographies.
 

 

Yosemite, California:

The Yosemite Climbing Museum & Gallery

Visitors to Yosemite Mariposa County can reach a new peak of local rock-climbing lore and legacy at the Yosemite Climbing Association Museum & Gallery.
 
The center features more than 10,000 pieces, a priceless collection of historical climbing artefacts (including pitons used on early of El Capitan) and dozens of archival photographs that tell the rock-climbing community’s story through the ages.
 
 

Mobile, Alabama:

Africatown Heritage House

The Africatown Heritage House multisensory project is the only exhibit in the world to show artefacts from the Clotilda – the last known slave ship to bring captives from Africa to the United States. The ship arrived at Mobile Bay in 1860, after slavery had already been outlawed, carrying 110 kidnapped African men, women, and children.
 
They survived enslavement and established an independent community called Africatown, which has become a treasured part of African American history and legacy.
 
The ship was discovered sunk in Mobile Bay in 2019, and the new exhibit brings to life the story of the 110 captive African men, women and children who were on board.  
 
 

Tulsa, Oklahoma:

Bob Dylan Center
 
If you have a fascination with an artist widely thought of as America’s pre-eminent pop culture poet, take a trip to Tulsa. The new Bob Dylan Center is a treasure trove of the artist’s works and memorabilia, from handwritten manuscripts to unreleased concert recordings, and recognition of his place in the American musical lexicon.
 
The Center boasts an exclusive, 100,000+ piece collection, spanning the entire length of the iconic singer and songwriter’s career. It’s the centerpiece of the three-story museum in Tulsa’s vibrant Arts District, just steps from the city’s renowned Woody Guthrie Center for the folk artist who was one of Dylan’s biggest influences.
 
Visitors to the Bob Dylan Center can also attend public programs, performances and lectures.
 
 

New York, New York:

Museum of Broadway

Amidst the bright lights of Times Square, the Museum of Broadway is the first-ever permanent museum dedicated to Broadway and honoring the legacy of “The Great White Way.'
 
The multi-story Museum of Broadway blends immersive installations and traditional displays, telling the history of the legendary theater district from its 1735 beginnings to present-day shows like Hamilton. This meshing of art and technology is divided into three sections: a map room of Broadway using immersive video projections; a visual Broadway timeline that lets viewers delve into the stories behind such ground-breaking musicals like Hair and Rent, learning how women led the way in much of Broadway’s early storytelling; and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a Broadway show, from set design to lighting.
 
 
Meantime| TNT Traysikel: Our Way, Courtesy of Mike Arcega, Paolo Asuncion, and TNT Traysikel. Photo by RJ Bonifacio
 

San Francisco, California:  

Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco
 
San Francisco’s the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is a non-collecting contemporary art museum, focusing on the artists themselves. It’s a 50/50 split between emerging Bay Area artists on-the-verge of national or international attention, and more established local and international artists.
 
Its 11,000-square-foot warehouse space will dazzle visitors hosting large-scale installations or pieces with atypical proportions. Its shift away from acquisitions aims to create a space that is responsive to the moment, creating programmes with increased relevance and meaning.
 
 

Charleston, South Carolina:

International African American Museum

Nearly half of all African slaves brought to the U.S. came through Charleston’s Gadsden’s Wharf, where the International African American Museum is slated to open in late 2022.
 
The new museum aims to tell never-before-told stories of the African American journey and themes will include connections across the African diaspora, the spread of African American culture and influence, and the movements for justice and equality.
 
From digital interactivity to live performances, visitors will learn about historic figures and events dating back to the start of slavery, the role of South Carolina in the development of the international slave trade, and the worldwide impact of African American culture.
 
  

StartYourTrip!





Heartstopping Acrobatics and Spectacular Seaside Settings at Cliff Diving World Series
Aquatic athletes free-falling from nearly a hundred feet in the air, with only 3 seconds to perform up to 5 precise and artistic somersaults as they hurtle towards the water below. All against breathtakingly dramatic scenery.

The Cliff Diving World Series serves up a double travel thrill: adrenaline-pumping feats of human athletic and performance skill - set against a backdrop of epic historic, urban and natural seaside locations whose sheer heights and seas below are captivating. 

Origins of Cliff Diving and the Cliff Diving World Series

Cliff diving originated hundreds of years ago in Hawaii. Daredevil athletes competing in today’s Cliff Diving World Series vie for the King Kahekili trophy. It’s named after the Hawaiian chief who first leaped from the island’s sacred cliffs in the 1700’s.

For over a decade, there’s been an elite event that pays tribute to King Kahekili’s daring athletic legacy. The Cliff Diving World Series as ‘pure extreme sport.’ Just man – or woman – versus gravity, with a body of water below. A dozen male and a dozen female competitors compete at each of the 8 stops on the global map of cliff diving venues, accumulating points along the way.

At the end of each season, a champion in each category is awarded a trophy in King Kahekili’s name.

Go Jump off a Cliff

It’s easier said than done! Part art, part athleticism, all adrenaline go into every cliff dive.

Height, speed and g-force, as well as aerial awareness, timing and physical strength all play a huge role in creating the most perfect, aesthetic and, of course, safe dives. The divers can launch from different stances and include pikes, tucks, somersaults and twists on the way down to impress the judges.
 
Here are some more ‘fast facts’ about cliff diving:

  • Rotation speed - 2.4 rotations per second
  • Time in the air - 2.6 seconds
  • Speed at water entry - Up to 50 mph
  • Deceleration on water impact - 10 G
 

Takes Your Breath Away

It’s one thing to watch Olympic diving into an indoor pool. Cliff diving takes it to the extreme – with winds, sun shining off the water, even the uneven appearance of the water surface in waves below - all acting like performance wild cards.
In addition to the uncontrolled environment – is the sheer (literally!) beauty of cliff diving locations, from their Hawaiian roots to their modern-day versions.

The Cliff Diving World Series is hosted in breathtaking waterside locations where athletes launch from rock formations, historic bridges, landmark buildings or beside waterfalls.
 
The inaugural competition was staged in La Rochelle, France in 2009, and since then, the cliff diving elite of the world have tested their mettle and displayed their athleticism and diving style epic locations in Hawaii, Thailand and the Philippines and urban centres like Dubai, Bilbao and Cartagena.
 
Both fresh and salt, warm and cold water will do, and 2022 will see dramatic dives in capitals like Paris, Oslo, and Sydney, as well as the Old Bridge of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina (above), Polignano a Mare, Italy, Sisikon on the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, and Boston.
 
Of course, for those of us whose dives are limited to jumping off docks, or a pleasure boat, or the marina of a small cruise ship for a fun little dip, the thrill of the Cliff Diving World Series is to be watching these daredevils of the air and sea from the shore.
 
That makes a holiday to one of the Cliff Diving World Series locations the perfect blend of excitement of the spectacular, unique, natural extreme sport, with local, seaside lifestyles that come so naturally to these cliff diving destinations.
 
Find out more about the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series and its current season of dates and locations here, and ask us how you can…

 

StartYourTrip!



Top Image: The cliffs of Islet Franca do Campo, Azores, Portugal, one site of the Cliff Diving World Series







North American Cruising is Complete: Canada Reopens, Intra-Island Hawaiian Cruises Resume
The return of cruise travel has looked like a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. Piece by piece, cruise lines have worked out how to resurrect itineraries within the Caribbean, from the U.S. to the Caribbean, between the U.S. and Mexico… you can see the picture.

Now at last, with the final two pieces, the puzzle – or rather, the cruise map of North America - is complete. 

Travellers can now book cruises to the entire continent.

 

Holland America Line’s Konigsdam 1st Ship Back to Canada After 905 Days

After a long two seasons, cruising to Canada is back.

On April 9th, 2022, Holland America Line’s Konigsdam ship made its maiden call to Victoria on Vancouver Island (pictured, above.)

The following day, April 10th, the Konigsdam called at the Port of Vancouver on the mainland (pictured below), another maiden call for the ship that’s spending its first season sailing Alaska itineraries.


The Konigsdam’s first calls to the British Columbia ports also symbolically reopened cruising to Canada.

From this point, Konigsdam is homeported in Vancouver for the summer Alaska cruise season. The Pacific Northwest coast will soon be busy with more ships from other cruise lines, from small luxury ships, expedition ships, to mega ships, all traveling up and down the Inside Passage from Canadian or U.S. ports like Seattle to restore cruising to Alaska.

It’s not just reopening West Coast cruises in Canada.

Cruises in Eastern Canada, from Montreal or Quebec City, along the St. Lawrence Seaway for Canada & New England cruises are now able to return, too. They too begin within weeks.

That means both of Canada’s coasts – and in fact, Arctic cruising along Canada’s northern-most coasts – has returned.

'We are thrilled to be the first cruise line back into Canada after such a long absence, and we look forward to celebrating a great moment for everyone who loves to travel and for those in Canada and Alaska whose livelihoods depend on tourism,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. Port celebrations marked the arrival of the Konigsdam and the corresponding return of cruising on all of Canada’s coasts.
 
In total for 2022, Holland America Line operates 141 cruises on eight ships in Canada.''Holland America Line has a robust schedule of cruises that explore Canadian ports on both coasts with Alaska, Hawaii, transatlantic and Canada and New England itineraries.”
 
Speaking of Hawaii…
 

Aloha! Now You Can Cruise From Hawaii

In a final piece to complete the entire map of North American cruising, inter-island (that is, Hawaii – Hawaii) cruising has also returned.

Ships have been permitted to depart from the West Coast and sail to or call in Hawaii.

But on April 11th, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America returned to service. As a rare, U.S.-flagged ship, it’s the only large ship allowed to sail roundtrip within the Hawaiian islands.

Norwegian’s Pride of America has been dedicated to sailing exclusively Hawaii-Hawaii itineraries year round, and it’s now resumed sailing weekly, seven-day roundtrip voyages from Honolulu.


The unique itinerary gives guests on board nearly a hundred hours of time in port to explore four Hawaiian islands over the course of the week. The ship overnights in Maui and Kauai to allow guests time to be more immersed in experiences on shore, as well as the spectacular sights of the Napali Coast.

'Being the only cruise line to sail year-round from Hawai’i, we’re thrilled to be back at last,' said Norwegian Cruise Line President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Sommer on the cruise ship’s return.
 
'Pride of America will once again offer thoroughly immersive itineraries and deeply authentic experiences that support business and tourism in Hawai’i, while providing travelers with everything they seek from a vacation in paradise.'

 
Between the Konigsdam’s arrival in B.C. and Pride of America’s resumption of intra-island Hawaiian itineraries, cruise travelers can look to any of North America’s close-to-home, but wildly diverse cruise destinations for their next dream cruise vacation. 

 

Start your Cruise Trip!

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host and Cruise Expert, BestTrip TV

Images of the Konigsdam in Victoria and Vancouver courtesy of Holland America Line.
Images of Pride of America and cruise guests in Hawaii courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.






5 Places to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday
Whether or not you loved studying Shakespeare in school, chances are, to this day you regularly hear - and use – lines from his 154 sonnets and 39 plays that are still continuously being staged in theaters around the world, more than any other playwright in any language. That’s not a bad linguistic legacy for someone who was born nearly 500 years ago.

Recognize any of these pearls of wisdom? All the words of Shakespeare, who was born April 26, 1564.
  •  “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
  • “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
  • “To thine own self be true.”
  • “All the world’s a stage.”
  • “All that glitters is not gold.”
  • And even:
  • “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Well, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” 

Because while Shakespeare was born, lived, worked, and died in Elizabethan England, his life and works are a travel bucket list even today.
 

Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

Shakespeare was born and raised – and died - in this picturesque town in Warwickshire. Visitors today can visit the ‘Bard of Avon’s’ birthplace and burial site for an immersion into Shakespearean life.

In Stratford-Upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace and childhood home explores his continued influence on the modern world through an enormous collection of artifacts.

At the former home of his wife-to-be, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (pictured top), visitors can relive his own real-life love story and see much of the original building, which remains as it was 500 years ago.
Above and Top Image: VisitBritain/LeeBeel

Don’t leave Stratford without experiencing Shakespeare’s immortal words in an authentic performance. The Royal Shakespeare Company regularly brings the works of the Bard to life showcased at the 1,000-seat, classified historic Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the banks of the River Avon (pictured above). You can find out which plays are being staged in the current season on the RSC’s website www.rsc.org.uk
 

Stratford, Canada

There’s another Stratford on another Avon River, and they’re in Canada, a couple of hours southwest of Toronto. Both were named after their English counterparts by British settlers in the area in the 19th century.


To complete the connection to the birthplace of Shakespeare, the town was gifted a pair of Mute Swans in the early 1900’s that started a colony that lives on to this day. Swans were often referred to by Shakespeare and the Swan of Avon was even one of his nicknames.

Since the 1950’s, Canada's The Stratford Festival has faithfully staged the works of the Bard of Avon in an annual summer Shakespeare theater festival.

It’s one of the first, and remains one of the most prominent arts festivals in Canada. Drawing a million Shakespeare and theater lovers, it’s recognized worldwide as one of the most prominent Shakespeare festivals. Seasons often feature famous Canadian actors returning from Hollywood for the summer.

Denmark


Shakespeare isn’t believed to have visited Denmark, but Elsinore castle - the setting of the dark drama Hamlet – is only part fiction.

There is indeed a castle at Helsingor, Denmark, which read in English is Elsinore. Kronborg Castle has existed at Helsingor since 1420 and was a key Danish coastal toll point for ships en route to the Baltic Sea.

Once one of the most important towns in Europe, it would have been a well-known name to Shakespeare, and the rocky, wind-swept, weathered coasts of Denmark are key mood-makers in Hamlet.


You can still visit “Elsinore” castle on an easy day trip from Copenhagen (pictured above) . Don’t miss the mighty stone statue of Holger the Dane in the castle’s catacombs. The legendary figure in Danish culture is said to be ready to awaken from his rock throne under Elsinore to defend Denmark if the country is ever in trouble.

So-called “Hamlet’s Castle” also holds live performances of Shakespeare’s plays at its summer Shakespeare Festival. Danish and international companies, including Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company, perform.
 

Italy

Over a dozen of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Italy – although it’s not clear if the Bard ever traveled there.

You can, though. And while many travellers know the attractions of Venice, site of The Merchant of Venice, fewer people have Verona on their travel list.

This northern Italian city, not far from Venice, is the setting for Shakespeare’s most popular, most performed and imitated play, Romeo and Juliet. You probably know that even West Side Story is a ‘modern,’ American reboot of Shakespeare’s timeless tale of star-crossed lovers.

Shakespeare’s ‘fair Verona’ in the 1300’s is a rather vague setting for the fictional villas and characters of Romeo and Juliet’s feuding families.

In today's real-life Verona, with its Roman monuments, including an ancient amphitheater and an Arena, as well as a remarkable core of Romanesque architecture, the ancient Roman Arena is the magnificent home of Verona’s opera season, and the city is renowned, if not for Shakespeare, then for its Italian artistic and cultural heritage.

One very tangible connection to the play exists for visitors, though. A real 13th century building - dubbed 'Juliet's Balcony' in Verona - is happy to lay claim to the Shakespearean romance. The balcony (picture above) on the house once owned by the Cappello family - similar to the Italian version, Capelletti, of Juliet's surname 'Capulet' - draws crowds of fans. You'll find a statue of Juliet in the courtyard below 'her' balcony, and a museum inside with Elizabethan-era costumes plus the actual bed used in the 1968 film adaptation.

Scotland

While Shakespeare lived in England – on the same island as Scotland - it’s not believed the playwright ever ventured that far from Stratford or London.

Nonetheless, the well-known lore and sites of the Scottish Highlands to the north gave him the basis for the evergreen, mad-with-power cautionary tale of Macbeth.

(Glamis Castle, Inverness, Scotland. Photo: BestTrip TV)

“The Scottish Play” as it’s often called, was mainly set in real Scottish castles you can visit today, including Inverness, Dunsinane, Cawdor, and Glamis Castle (which also has the distinction of being the childhood home of the 20th century Queen Mother).

There was actually once a real Scottish king named Macbeth, and although Shakespeare’s tragedy is set in Scotland in ancient times, the events – including the supernatural elements of the Three Witches and a moving forest, are pure fiction.

But the mystique and the drama of the Scottish Highlands remains for today’s travellers to experience.
 

Start your Trip!

 

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

You’ll Love This New Generation of Private Island Resorts
There’s a new generation of private islands. One that creates an environment for guests to vacation their way to becoming their best selves.

Scratch any impressions you have of private islands inhabited by music moguls jet-skiing with nude models, royalty sneaking around with other people’s spouses, or tech billionaires popping magnums of champagne.

The new private island experience isn’t just about seclusion away from prying eyes. 

It’s about the ultimate spirit of togetherness with a group of people you value most in the world – having the uplifting and inspiring shared experience of a customized vacation that provides all the means for you to leave better than when you arrived. 

Imagine having an entire island all to yourself for a family gathering, the ultimate destination wedding, vow renewal, reunion, or team-building exercise.

The new type of private island is exclusive, but at the same time also more easily sourced and booked than ever before. Your trusted travel advisor can help you craft an end-to-end private island retreat that will transform your idea of a tropical vacation.

Here’s one of our favorite examples of private islands that’s breaking the mould and redefining what a private island vacation can mean. 


The Aerial BVI

This 43-acre private island destination in the British Virgin Islands is nestled among fourteen surrounding islands, with both stunning sunrises and sunsets.

The new approach to the private island experience comes from its most recent owner, a self-made young woman entrepreneur. Her vision is to “provide guests with the space to find their center again, eat healing food, reconnect to nature and loved ones, and discover what matters most.”


Like the best of private island experiences, guests enjoy the services of a full staff of chefs, hosts, activities managers, housekeeping and watersports teams, boat captains, island concierge and everything needed to fulfil your every need – whether you know you need it or not.

Spectacular Tropical Island Home Away From Home

The Aerial welcomes 26 guests in five residences with names that channel the owner’s aspirations for those coming to the island: Unity House, Faith House, Serenity House, and the Love and Grace Villas.

Rooms in each residence are unique, and as you might expect, they flow into their island surroundings allowing guests to feel part of the natural environment, with island and ocean views dominating sightlines.


Rooms are outfitted in different ways to feed different guest needs ranging from relaxation to reflection, to romance to writing to simply engaging with the outdoors: relaxing daybeds, serene “focus spaces” with writer’s desks for those who want to journal their journeys, private, cliffside balconies, chair swings, outdoor showers or soaking tubs, romantic stargazing decks, and balconies overlooking the infinity pool, to name a few.



Healing Cuisine

The Aerial challenges its guests to think outside the box of private chefs and indulgent dishes.

Its dining, while delicious and satisfying, is about providing “healing,” cuisine that helps guests to “think their best, feel their best, create at their best and connect to the planet in a beautiful and sustainable way.”

The private island resort sources ingredients from local providers in the British Virgin Islands in what it says is a true producer-to-table experience. Food that can’t be bought locally is sustainably sourced. There’s still comfort and fun at the table, though – the resort even has a wood burning pizza oven.


Private Island, Private Beach… and Beyond

 
On a private island, the world – or at least the island- is your oyster. The white sand beach is reserved for you and your private party. But The Aerial, in keeping with its personal, physical and spiritual growth mission, has its own distinct twist on private island activities.

Of course you expect the luxuries of a spa and healing center on the beach, an infinity pool, multiple bars including a beach bar, ping-pong, a yacht, Hobie Cats and a full complement of watersports, and even a recording studio. A wood burning fire pit on the beach? Check.


Those in search of self-improvement and relaxation can participate in yoga in inspired places, guided meditation and writing. Get your blood pumping hiking miles of island-wide trails. Reflect on our place in the universe stargazing.

There’s memory-making fun for families and adults trying to rediscover their inner child. A fleet of pastel-colored, electric Mini Mokes. On the beach: a tribal gym set, giant Jenga and giant Connect 4 and movies and bonfires on the beach.


And beyond your wildest dreams! “Indy’s Redemption Ranch” on the island is home to rescued former race horses, miniature ponies, and even a handful of zebras. Riding on the beach and hand feeding the herd is just the beginning. Swimming with the ponies and guided equine therapy take ranch-on-the-beach to a whole different level.


The Aerial replaces traditional concepts of private island resorts with conscious travel that reconnects you and your select group of guests with the wonders of Nature, and gives you the inspired spaces, seclusion, and activities to discover your very best life.
 

Start Your Private Island Trip!


The Very First National Park Turns 150
 It’s not just the first national park in the U.S. It’s the first national park in the world. In March, 1872, American president Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the establishment of Yellowstone National Park to preserve and protect some of the country’s most emblematic scenery and wildlife for future generations.

That first national park represented the start of the entire U.S. National Park system. Today, the National Park Service manages 85 million acres of land, comprising 63 National Parks and over 400 National Park sites.

But Yellowstone’s 2 million-plus acres remain a standout among America’s most spectacular natural and historic treasures even 150 years later.

Yellowstone National Park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, said to be one of the last – and largest – and nearly intact - ecosystems in the world. 

The park has the most active and intact collections of “geothermal features” on the planet. It’s comprised of 10,000 hydrothermal sites plus half of the active geysers in the entire world, including the famous geyser Old Faithful. While not the tallest geyser in Yellowstone or even the one that erupts the longest, it has the distinction of being the most predictable, erupting every 44 minutes to two hours.

The geysers alone make Yellowstone incredible. But the park also has two dozen entries on the National Register of Historic Places. And other majestic natural features, plus a very famous and note-worthy inhabitant.

Early techniques of park management involved eliminating nearly all natural predator animals in Yellowstone, permitted hunting bison to the extent that less than two dozen of the massive, essential herbivores remained, and introduced non-local fish species that decimated native fish.

Better knowledge and practices mean that today, the Park is, according to the National Park Service, “the healthiest it has been in over a century.” Yellowstone has seen the return of predators like wolves, grizzly bears, and native fish.
But the bison may be Yellowstone’s most symbolic success story.

Although near extinction at the turn of the 20th century, the largest land animal in North America is now over 5000 strong in the park. After the US Army beefed up its protection of bison from poaching a century ago, and bison from private herds were sourced to help boost the herd in Yellowstone, the park has become the only place in mainland USA to have a continuous, free-ranging bison herd since prehistoric times.

Many of Yellowstone’s greatest features and successes have connections to Native American Tribes. Before any human of European heritage set eyes on its wonders, let alone designated it a U.S. National Park, Native Americans lived, used the thermal waters for faith and medicinal practices, hunted, fished, gathered plant life, and even quarried obsidian stone for 10,000 years in the parklands.

Over two dozen tribes have connections to the millions of acres of Yellowstone, as it’s located where the Great Plains, Great Basin and Columbia Plateau meet on lands straddling what are now the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
And for its 150th anniversary, America’s largest national park will commemorate and share the land’s Indigenous history and values.

In the summer of 2022, Yellowstone Old Faithful Lodge will host Native American public art installations, a Marketplace featuring work from tribal artists, and the “Historic Yellow Bus” will tour the Old Faithful district.

Tribes are also planning a gathering in celebration on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming in June, and in August, Teepee Village will be erected by several tribes near Roosevelt Arch.


Park superintendent Cam Sholly says the Village and other 150th anniversary commemorations, “will be an opportunity for multiple tribal nations to be here on the landscape in the park, directly interfacing with visitors and talking about and educating visitors about their culture and their heritage.”

Additional park anniversary activities include horse club rides and parades, groundbreaking ceremonies, ribbon cuttings, inter‐tribal bimonthly virtual video series gatherings, family‐friendly Old Faithful sponsored experiments, and social media events that will engage travelers both near and far.

This may be the perfect year to acquaint or reacquaint yourself and your family with the groundbreaking Park or any national park in this historic year. Escorted tours, epic trains, historic lodges and outdoor experiences are all part of National Park travel.

Start Your National Park Trip!





This chain of couples-only Caribbean resorts is serious about helping guests ‘get in the groove’ while on vacation. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Sandals Resorts has launched an ‘Institute of Romance’ to research trends in couples’ relationships with a goal of helping keep the sparks a’ flying. 

The new trend-house delves into data about modern love, relationships and intimacy… And how they relate to holidays.

Through global surveys of paired-up travelers and its past guests, Sandals’ Institute of Romance’s findings will help the resort chain develop activities and experiences in its resorts, and even relationship guidance for couples before, during and after their all-inclusive beach resort vacation.

One of their most stand-out discoveries: More than half (55%) of North American women wish their relationships mirrored the couples of their favorite romance novels.

Sandals is so serious about love, it has a ‘Director of Romance,’ who explains: “With 49% of women preferring to read on vacation – from the initial plane ride to beachside – and romance novel sales skyrocketing over the last two years, this felt like a natural place for us to lend our 40 years of expertise in the romance space.'

So Sandals decided the perfect next step: to partner with romance novel publisher, Avon Books. 

Sandals Resorts is creating a 'romance library' of titles curated by the experts at Avon Books for guests to borrow while on vacation. Beginning at the Sandals resort in Grenada (pictured), the initial library will include a selection from the 'Michelangelo of dirty talk,' Tessa Bailey, as well as popular titles from Julia Quinn's “Bridgerton” series and authors Talia Hibbert, Olivia Dade and more.

Sandals’ Director of Romance says, 'With this partnership, we are helping bring to life the sometimes swoonworthy, but nearly always attainable relationships our guests read about in their favorite books, creating a meaningful and lasting connection on and off vacation.'

Do any of these stats that Sandals has discovered through its first survey of 1500 North American women sound like you?
·     81% say they read romance novels and
·     45% say they've increased their consumption of the genre over the last two years, citing the comfort of happily ever after (44%), the flirty banter (36%) and steamy scenes (30%) as the primary reasons!
 
They’ve even been able to narrow down the elements in romances between the pages of novels that are missing from many women’s relationships in real life, including:
 
·     better communication (55%),
·     spontaneous romantic gestures (54%), and
·     and more satisfying sex life (34%).
 
Do any of those complaints sound familiar? Take ‘heart,’ Sandals is taking those cues and translating them into even better romantic beach getaways.
 
The resort company will be developing ways to prompt spontaneous romantic moments of connection throughout guests' stays – such as reminders to hold hands, ask a meaningful question or share a compliment.

 

Getting Steamy

 
Fantasy. Connection. Fulfillment. Romance novels and couples’ aspirations for their vacations have some things in common. The survey found that:
·     Over a third (36%) of Sandals’ survey respondents shared that they fantasize about fictional characters more than their significant others,
·     55% say reading romance novels makes them more likely to want to connect with their partner and
·     38% say reading romance novels have made them feel more fulfilled in their relationships.
 
Nearly half (49%) of women surveyed say they've learned something from reading a romance novel that they've brought to their real-life relationships, with
·     53% engaging in more meaningful communication,
·     48% spicing up their love life and
·     35% setting time aside for romantic getaways.
 
Sharing a fictional fantasy can help make romance a reality.
 
'There's something inherently attractive when a partner takes an interest in something you're excited about – whether it be reading a new book from one of your favorite authors or trying a new activity together,” says Sandals’ Director of Romance.
 
“It's why we encourage couples to experience adventures together on vacation – from learning to scuba dive to taking in a round of golf. We always tell couples to be intentional about the time they share with each other; make it meaningful.”
 

Start your Romantic Beach Trip!



Another Record Broken: Biggest Ship at Sea
If you’re a mega-ship fan, you have another entry to add to your cruise travel bucket list. The largest ship at sea has just launched in a feat of engineering, design, and imagination.

Royal Caribbean has debuted Wonder of the Seas in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. The newest ship in the fleet clocks in at 1118 feet long and 210 feet wide. There are 18 decks for nearly 7000 guests plus 2300 crew members.

That makes it the world’s largest cruise ship. Wonder of the Seas is the fifth Oasis-class ship for Royal Caribbean, and together, they hold the top five spots for largest cruise ships in the world.
 

What’s New?

As you might expect in the biggest ship in the world, with four previous Oasis-class ships setting a standard each successive ship in the class has topped, Wonder of the Seas has out-scaled, round the clock hospitality, entertainment, activities, and thrills. There are more than 20 restaurants, bars and lounges.


Plus, Wonder of the Seas is debuting all-new features, beginning with an entirely new ‘neighborhood.’
  • Suite Neighborhood – The new, eighth neighborhood is for Royal Suite Class guests. Now, in addition to an exclusive restaurant, Coastal Kitchen, the Suite Lounge and the grandest Ultimate Family Suite yet for a family of 10, Royal Suite Class guests will have a private Suite Sun Deck in a new location, which features a plunge pool and bar.
 
  • Caribbean Pool Deck – At the center of the ship’s Caribbean vibes is the pool deck, where a new cantilevered Vue Bar joins the lineup of poolside hotspots, including the popular Lime & Coconut, live music; The Perfect Storm, a trio of high-speed waterslides; kids aqua park Splashaway Bay; and the adults-only Solarium.

 

  • Wonder Playscape – There’s a whole new outdoor adventure for families with kids on Wonder of the Seas. Underwater-themed play area Wonder Playscape is open day and night, with climbing walls, games, interactive activities that come alive by touch, imaginative puzzles and light shows engage young travelers in more ways than one. It’s just around the corner from Royal Caribbean’s signature mini golf course, Wonder Dunes, that has a whole new look.
 
  • The Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar – Royal Caribbean’s hospitality now has Southern flair. On the comfort food menu are staples from the U.S. South, plus new twists on classics. The new restaurant debuts an official ‘brunch’ venue, and is of course also open for dinner, and late at night, where the good times are accompanied by live country music, farmhouse-style decor, a robust collection of 19 American whiskeys and other Southern libations.
 

What’s Returning?

Oasis-class fan favorites are back, too.
·     Thrill-seekers can chase the waves on the FlowRider surf simulator, race down the tallest slide at sea, The Ultimate Abyss; brave the 10-story-high zip line; scale twin rock climbing walls;
 
·     Guests can explore any one of the eight neighborhoods, like Central Park and its 20,000-plus real plants; or
 
·     Enjoy original entertainment on four dramatic “stages:” theater, air, ice, water, including inTENse, which features high-diving feats, slacklining, aerial acrobatics and more performed by the first all-female cast in the AquaTheater, the one-of-a-kind amphitheater.

 

Where’s Wonder of the Seas Cruising?

During its inaugural season, Wonder of the Seas is sailing 7-night Caribbean cruises through April 2022. Its Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises include visits to Royal Caribbean’s private island/ beach resort destinations, Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas and Labadee, Haiti, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico; Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.   

Then, in time for summer holidays, Wonder of the Seas repositions to the Mediterranean.
From Barcelona and Rome, Wonder of the Seas sails 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises to destinations like Naples and Florence, Italy; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; and Provence, France.

And after completing an inaugural Europe season, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship will return to homeport in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to sail year-round Caribbean adventures.

Start Your Family Cruise Trip!









European River Cruise Season Begins! AmaWaterways' Co-Founder Shares Trends and Tips for 2022
One of the first signs of spring for travel and cruise lovers like me… isn’t the first tulip or robin. It’s the return of river cruising in Europe.

This year especially celebrates a fresh new season, after two pandemic years when many people weren’t traveling to Europe and can’t wait now to return to their favorite European memories and make new ones.

Just before the start of the season, I had the chance to meet with one of the founders of the family-owned river cruise line, AmaWaterways.

Kristin Karst (pictured top, second from left) is the co-founder and executive vice president of the company, and her top-level, insider insights are invaluable to travelers thinking about Europe, especially this year.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise expert and producer/ host of BestTrip TV
 

2022 River Cruise Trends That May Surprise You

 
Who’s New to River Cruise: Kristin says AmaWaterways is seeing a lot of guests who have ocean cruised but not river cruised. Although partly driven by a quest for new travel experiences, she says in the post-pandemic travel world she sees ocean cruise guests looking to river ships for the advantages of “smaller ship experiences.”

That might not surprise you – but this might. AmaWaterways is also seeing an influx of river cruise bookings coming from travelers who previously traveled independently or by coach tours. She cites the “less stressful” experience of river cruising where everything is taken care of for guests by river cruises as a draw for independent travelers, and “more personalized” experiences getting into the heart of a destination for guests who have previously traveled by busy roads on crowded streets.

Longer cruises: Many people haven’t traveled for a couple of years, and that means they are making up for lost time and are unwilling to delay bucket list trips, says Kristin. That’s why they’re seeing people opting to travel longer. And in terms of river cruises, that means back-to-back cruises on different rivers or river segments.

To meet that demand, the company a few months ago introduced ‘7-River Cruises’ that take the same group of guests together on weeks-long journeys from one river to another. It’s a river cruise innovation that feels a lot like extended ocean cruise Grand Voyages.

Two other big trends for river cruise travel the company is focusing on are also about bringing people together: food and wine experiences, and also solo travel.  


Tips for River Cruise Travelers in 2022


Kristin advises travelers with cruise credits burning a hole in their pockets to use them now to lock in travel. It doesn’t have to be this year, it could be for travel in 2023. But then you’ll know you have a spot booked.

Why? River cruising appetites are at an all time high. 2022 is already a very busy year for AmaWaterways, and 2023 is booking up fast. If you have a special itinerary, specific date or other specific river cruise wishes, you need to lock that in quickly with your travel advisor to avoid disappointment.

We discussed the return to travel and river cruising, and how every person has a different comfort level to accompany their personal choice to travel.

Some guests are still intimidated by new travel protocols, and Kristin made a couple of excellent points:
·     One of the benefits of working with a travel advisor and a river cruise company is that travelers aren’t on their own before or during their trip trying to figure out how to navigate new processes they maybe aren’t familiar with yet.
 
·     Plus, as people are choosing longer trips (see trends above), travelers who want to minimize the different protocols can opt for back-to-back cruises in a single country. There are river cruises on a number of rivers in France for example, and guests can easily go from one to another by the country’s high speed train system. And once you’re in France, you don’t have to worry about any new protocols.
 

Hottest River Cruise Trips in 2022

I asked Kristin which AmaWaterways river cruise itineraries are the hottest tickets this year. Here’s where travelers are looking at wait lists for 2022 – and where they should get booked now to make sure they get there in 2023.

Douro River, Portugal: AmaWaterways has two ships on the Douro river in Portugal, it’s in such high demand. Many seasoned river cruise travelers are looking for something ‘new’ and the sunny, wine destination is proving a big hit, especially with cruise extensions in Spain.

The Nile in Egypt: AmaWaterways is now sailing in Egypt, with a new, 72-guest ship, the AmaDahlia. The 7-night cruise along the Nile through Egypt’s ancient history is enhanced by 4 nights in Cairo so guests get to experience this fascinating destination, the last remaining ancient World Wonder of the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, and modern Egyptian hospitality.


Christmas Market Cruises: Europe’s Christmas markets perfectly capture the spirit of the season every year, but Kristin says AmaWaterways is especially seeing multi-generation family groups booking river cruises this year to make up for time not spent together over the past two years.
  
Floriade, the Netherlands: Once every decade, the world’s biggest horticultural festival (dubbed the ‘World’s Fair of Flowers’) makes the Netherlands an even more ‘can’t miss’ destination – and it’s happening in 2022. A number of AmaWaterways itineraries include Floriade, which runs nearly the entire spring-to-fall river cruise season. This is one you can’t put off til 2023, so if Floriade is on your travel bucket list, Kristin recommends you don’t wait to talk to your travel advisor about availability.
 

Start your River Cruise Trip!

 
Images courtesy of AmaWaterways








Fun Facts About Your Favorite St. Patrick's Day Drinks
What’s the best part of celebrating the day named after Ireland’s patron saint? Is it the ‘wearin’ o’ the green?’ The irresistible beat of Irish music that makes every listener’s toes tap? Your hilarious attempts at an Irish jig or your own version of Riverdance? Or the famous Irish beverages that fuel the festivities in the Emerald Isle and around the world every March 17th?

(Courtesy Donal Cawley, Merry Ploughboy Pub)

They say on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s a little bit Irish. And so we’re guessing at least one of these drinks finds its way into your hands at the local Irish pub. 

Here are a few fun facts about the four most iconic Irish beverages you can have up your sleeve to make you look like the smartest honorary Irishman at the bar. 

Now, if you memorize an Irish toast too, you’ll bring the real ‘spirit’ of St. Patrick’s Day to the moment!


Irish Whiskey 

Yes, that’s ‘whiskey’ with an ‘e.’ In the debate between Irish whiskey and Scottish whisky, Ireland claims to be the global original.

According to Tourism Ireland, the first written reference to whiskey in Ireland took place two whole centuries before distillation of malted grains was recorded in Scotland. The Red Book of Ossory in Ireland referred to whiskey in 1324.
In terms of authentic beverage, nothing may be more Irish than whiskey. The word itself comes from the Gaelic ‘uisce beatha’, meaning ‘water of life.’

The oldest ongoing commercial distillery in the world is also Irish, and the 400 year-old Old Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim has always put the ‘e’ in ‘whiskey.’

As traditional a tipple as whiskey in Ireland is, the spirit is seeing a renaissance throughout the Emerald Isle and around the world. The Head of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association explains that, “Irish whiskey has undergone a phenomenal revival, going from four distilleries to 38 – with 24 open to visitors – and recording 140% growth in sales around the world in the last decade.”

The traditional, and globally available, brands like Bushmills and Jameson are being joined by exciting new artisan brands that you can only taste on a trip to Ireland.

A million international travelers every year visit an Irish distillery – not to mention Dublin’s Whiskey Museum or a local pub with a selection of new and traditional whiskies.
 
The Ireland Whiskey Trail is a free touring guide to distilleries, the best whiskey pubs, hotel bars, well-known and up-and-coming brands, as well as specialized whiskey shops.

And IrishWhiskey360° provides visitors a map and information on the island’s most important distilleries that offer tours, tastings and behind the scenes secrets about their amber spirits.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee has a much less pedigreed history than its most spirited ingredient, Irish whiskey. Its claim to fame is as a method to ‘warm the cockles o’ your heart’ as they say, and is said to have been invented at the height of World War 2.

A chef at County Limerick’s Foynes Port, where planes flying between Europe and North America would stop to refuel before the North Atlantic crossing leg of their journeys, invented the hot drink. 

The story says he whipped the first hot, creamy batch up one raw night in 1942 for a group of delayed, chilled, and weary passengers. After a collective “Ahh” went around the room, one passenger reportedly asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?”  To which the chef replied, “No, that’s Irish coffee.”

The name – and the appeal on a brisk night – stuck. Here’s the recipe – straight from Foynes – to impress your friends around a warming fire, and to compare with the ‘real thing’ on your own next trip to Ireland. (Pictured. ©Failte Ireland, Courtesy of Carsten Krieger.)

The original Irish coffee recipe

  1. Preheat your Irish coffee glass by filling it with boiling water for 5 seconds, then pour the water out.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a good measure of Irish whiskey into the warmed glass.
  3. Fill the glass to within ½ an inch of the brim with hot, strong black coffee. Stir well to dissolve all the brown sugar.
  4. Carefully pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee.
  5. Do not stir after adding the cream; the best flavor comes from drinking the coffee and Irish whiskey through the cream.
 

Irish Cream

Despite marketing, and images and script on the bottles that suggest Bailey’s Irish cream is a long-standing tradition, the sweet liqueur made of cream, cocoa and Irish whiskey only dates back to the 1970’s.

There are a few stories about its origin, none as romantic as the image of Irish coffee being brewed up for wartime flights across the Atlantic.


The first Irish cream was reportedly developed by a team with the pragmatic goal to come up with a new export product, which they did deciding to use up whiskey from a distillery that wasn’t making money and to take advantage of excess cream on the market as skim milk was becoming more popular, or as a whiskey-based ‘girly drink.’ Or all of the above.

Regardless of its start, today, Bailey’s Irish cream is an undoubted beverage ambassador of Ireland around the world. Its annual production uses over 250 million liters of Irish milk from 40,000 dairy cows living on 1500 Irish farms. The U.S. imports more Baileys Irish cream than any other country in the world.

One final – and very important – fact about Irish cream: it is NOT an ingredient of authentic Irish Coffee.
 
(Image ©Tourism Ireland)

Guinness

Moving away from whiskey, perhaps the most ubiquitous drink for St. Patrick’s Day celebrants or visitors to Ireland is simply, ‘a Guinness.’ Its brand symbol, the harp, is the symbol of Ireland’s 11th century king, Brian Boru
 
Guinness has been produced in Dublin since 1759. Founder Arthur Guinness knew he was on to a sure thing: he signed a 9000 year lease for the St. James’s Gate Brewery. By the 20th century, Guinness was the largest brewery in the world.
 
The brewery’s Irish dry stout or dark beer has become the iconic symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and pub life in Ireland. It is made from barley, hops, water, roast malt extract, and brewer’s yeast. Some barley is specifically roasted to give Guinness its signature dark color and distinctive taste. The result was believed at one point even to be a health drink – so healthy, in fact, it was recommended for young children and pregnant women! Some modern science has upheld the healthy reputation: Guinness’ rich ingredient list makes it a source of B vitamins, iron, heart-healthy antioxidants, and immune support.
 
But we don’t think anyone is thinking of their B vitamins when they’re raising their glasses of Guinness in the Dublin brewery, or in their home or local Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, when over 800% more Guinness is drunk than any other day of the year – a whopping estimated 13 million pints!

(Image: Tourism Ireland)
 

Start Your Ireland Trip!

 
Image credits as noted. All images courtesy of Ireland.com

Top image: Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery, The Liberites, Dublin City, Courtesy Killian Whyte







Now You Can Get Married in Antarctica
February has been an even more romantic month than usual this year. Not only did countless couples celebrate their love in dream destinations on Valentine’s Day – one couple became the first to be united in matrimony on the White Continent.

On an Atlas Ocean Voyage to Antarctica – that even departed on February 14,, 2022 – Valentine’s Day! Bride Courtnie Dodson and Groom Brody Vermillion exchanged vows on Danko Island during a 15-minute ceremony, officiated by British Antarctic Territory-registered Marriage Officer Bryan Clark.

The ceremony was witnessed by eight additional cruise guests – plus some curious penguins who appeared to follow the tuxedo dress code for the wedding!

In fact, that first-ever wedding on the 7th continent was one of four extraordinary weddings and three vow renewal ceremonies during the nine-night cruise to the Antarctic on the luxury expedition cruise line’s first ship World Navigator. 

Atlas Ocean Voyages bills its destination wedding program “Happy Ever Atlas.” It was complimentary for guests who registered for the wedding or vow renewal program in advance.

The weddings weren’t just ceremonial – they were the first legal weddings on the continent. Each couple received an official U.K. wedding license, which is also recognized in many other countries, including the U.S.


World Navigator hosted a ship-wide wedding reception, as well as held separate bachelorette and bachelor group-parties, for an unforgettable wedding week for the couples. The cruise destination wedding program also included a wedding cake, photos, gift bag, custom wedding announcements and Thank You cards. 

Now the ‘ice is broken’ so to speak, we’re sure many other couples will start thinking about the ultimate destination wedding.

A small, luxury expedition cruise might be tailor made for a one-of-a-kind destination wedding. The World Navigator’s size – only 98 suites, solo suites and staterooms – makes for an intimate luxe-adventure. Especially the adventure of starting your new life together!


World Navigator will cruise the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and Iceland, Greenland and The Arctic in summer 2022; Central and South America in the autumn; and return to Antarctica for her winter 2022-23 season.


The ship’s small size allows it to reach smaller, authentic and exclusive locales where larger ships cannot sail. A second, sister ship to the World Navigator, World Traveller, launches in November 2022. Three additional sister ships, World Seeker, World Adventurer and World Discoverer, join the fleet through 2024.

Giving couples looking for the most unique, out-of-the-way or exotic wedding or vow renewal destination a world of options.

Congratulations to the first Antarctic newlyweds!
 

Start Your Milestone Trip!

 
Images courtesy Atlas Ocean Voyages







3 Caribbean Luxury Golf Resorts Where you can Up Your Game this Winter
Is it time to change winter blues for island “greens?” The ideal outdoor, distanced, leisure activity, golfing got a shot in the arm over the last couple of years.

Even less committed golfers dusted off the clubs during the pandemic, rediscovering the delights to be found on the greens. And now that people are travelling again, the clubs are coming along for the ride.

Here are three Caribbean island golf resorts with a unique twist to freshen up your game in tropical, seaside breezes. Plus, their luxury resort game is as strong as their golf experience.

Which ones have you golfed?

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

 
It’s been called the Mecca of golf in the Caribbean. A one-of-a-kind resort with 63 holes over three legendary golf courses designed by Pete Dye.

 
The golf architect calls Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog (above and top) his best work. It remains the only Caribbean course that consistently makes the list of top 100 in the world – usually the top 50. Hand-cleared from wild scrub way back in 1971, it pioneered the dramatic, seaside island golf course. In addition to the breathtaking ‘Heaven 7’ oceanfront holes framed by the sea and dramatic coral shoreline, the course has been described as ‘labyrinthine’ – it remains a challenge this many years later.
 
There are two other courses on the resort. The Links, which is thought to be even more challenging, and Dye Fore. Golfers will find 7 holes run along 300-foot cliff tops, and navigate diverse terrain including lagoons, jungle, and a path down to the resort marina.
 
The Resort
The three courses are all part of the 7000 acre Casa de Campo. Described as the Caribbean version of the Hamptons, it has a resort and nearly 2000 private luxury villas, a modern marina, dozens of restaurants, acclaimed facilities that give non-golfers plenty to do at the shooting club, tennis club, polo and equestrian club, and even a cliffside replica historic European village that includes a 5000-seat amphitheatre that hosts global entertainers.

 

Four Seasons Resort Nevis

 
The tiny island of Nevis – half of the twin-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis - punches above its weight in golfing. Its legendary and groundbreaking Four Seasons Resort put Nevis on the map for luxury island resort lifestyles. Part of that is its 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course.

It’s considered the best in the Eastern Caribbean. Boasting four tee locations at each hole (and one black tee), this par 71 course offers breathtaking scenery on every green and fairway.

 
Nevis’ standout feature is Mount Nevis, an old, extinct volcanic peak soaring into the clouds. The resort hugs the beach and Mount Nevis rises steeply behind the Four Seasons. The golf course cuts through a former coconut plantation, tropical rainforest and steep ravines over 450 feet of elevation change with scenic views high over the sea. The 15th hole plummets off Mount Nevis itself! To top it off, the island’s famous green vervet monkeys have been known to join golfers along the way.


In addition to private lessons and weekly clinics, the golf program at the Four Seasons Nevis has fun with the game that can sometimes be taken too seriously.

'Foot Golf' games - similar to golf but played with a soccer ball instead, have players working toward a 21-inch 'cup' in place of the usual golf hole. The player who finishes the course with the fewest shots wins!

And with 'Eco-Bio Golf', players are actually encouraged to hit a golf ball or two into the sea. The balls turn into fish food within 72 hours after hitting the ocean floor. Guests can have beach-side golf competition while feeding the ecosystem. The entire family will get to enjoy practicing their swing on a mini beach driving range.

 
The Resort
The resort is a favorite for jetsetters in the know. Nevis is only reachable by water by private yacht, small cruise ship, or water taxi from St. Kitts. It was completely re-imagined just before the pandemic, and the breezy, elegant, tropical design, ocean-facing infinity pool, beachside cabanas where guests can go fishing for local lobster with the chef and then have them barbecued for a luxury seafood meal on the beach – is the stuff island vacations are made of.

 

Sandy Lane, Barbados

 
Both the resort of Sandy Lane on Barbados’ platinum coast, and its golf club have received award after award after award.
 
The three resort golf courses have some of the best golf in the world. Golfing guests can choose between the charming Old Nine course, the resort-style 18-hole Tom Fazio designed Country Club course, with its spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. For a real ‘wow’ destination golf challenge, golfers can't miss The Green Monkey, another Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole course, carved out of an old limestone quarry that retains towering stone walls. There’s even a green monkey silhouette carved into turf in honor of the equally green monkeys that invite themselves to join golfers on the course. It’s reserved exclusively for resort guests.
 
The Resort
This is where Tiger Woods got married. That says as much about the resort as the golf. British-style tropical hospitality in classical Palladian-style buildings reigns at Sandy Lane. Lush gardens surround an immense pool with a cascading waterfall, with the Pool Bar just the beginning of dining experiences. On one of the best beaches on the island, shaded by mature mahogany trees, with attendants with cold towels, sunglass cleaning, Evian misting and other luxurious touches, the beach is the best 19th hole!
 

Start Your Golf Resort Trip!



Images courtesy of their respective resorts.










A New, Underwater "Ocean Highway" for Galapagos
At 2021’s Climate summit in Glasgow, something pretty extraordinary for one of the natural world’s greatest treasures happened. Neighboring countries Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama got together and agreed to create an ‘ocean highway’ to allow threatened marine species in and around the richly and uniquely biodiverse Galapagos Islands to safely travel to the territories they need to survive.
 
The Galapagos Islands famously inspired the pivotal works about evolution of species by Charles Darwin. The Islands are part of Ecuador, and that country has now got the ambitious project underway. Not with ‘shovels in the earth’ like a launch ceremony for a human transportation route.

 
Rather, Ecuador has expanded the Galapagos marine reserve. It’s already one of the largest in the world at over 53-thousand square miles. Its expansion by another 23-thousand square miles will bring it up to over 75-thousand square miles of conservation – an area three times the size of Belize! protected from industrial fishing and other harmful human activities.
 
The new reserve has the fitting name of Hermandad or 'Brotherhood.'
 
'There are places that have made a mark on the history of humanity, and today, we have the honor of being in one of those places,' Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso said at the official signing. 'These islands that welcome us have taught us many things about ourselves. So, instead of acting as the absolute masters of these lands and seas, shouldn't we act as their protectors?'
 
Environmentalists say the reserve will help protect at least five of the region’s most threatened marine species, including hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, millions of sea turtles and rays and other species that migrate between the Galapagos and Costa Rica’s Pacific Cocos Island.
 
That’s just the first step down this underwater ‘road.’ The ultimate goal is to connect the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites via a protected ‘ocean highway.’ 
 
The Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, running through Ecuadorian, Colombian, Panamanian and Costa Rican waters will exclude harmful human activity to permit sea creatures the safe spaces and distances they need to thrive, anchored at both ends by already-protected island territories.
 
Humans will still be allowed entry to the growing ‘underwater highway’ marine zone between Galapagos and Costa Rica’s Cocos Island.

 
There’s more interest than ever in travel to the Galapagos Islands, as post-pandemic pent-up travel appetites are inspiring people to book their bucket list trips. This natural wonder of the world, famous for pristine land-and seascapes, and close encounters with one-of-a-kind creatures like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and more, ranks high on the list of once-in-a-lifetime, transformational trips.
 
Responsible tourism through respected and local operators will help maintain critical awareness and financial incentives for the continued protection of one of the most audacious – and hopeful – marine conservation projects of our time.
 

Start Your Bucket List Trip!







Masking Up for Fun: the World's Top Carnivals
“Carnival” and “Mardi Gras” evoke some of the world’s most legendary, annual, pre-Easter parties. The two events are related, with a shared origin and even some of the same cultural traditions.

Carnival is a whole season, but Mardi Gras is one special day. They are celebrated in countries with strong, historic Catholic traditions.

The calendar tells all. Pre-Easter, devout Catholics observe Lent, a time of solemn prayer and self-denial. Lent begins on the Wednesday 40 days before Easter.

Mardi Gras means ‘Fat Tuesday.’ The Tuesday before Lent begins, people would use up all the sweets, treats, and rich foods in a last, big indulgence before putting the brakes on fun for Lent.

In many places, the idea of a big festival of indulgence before Lent lasts longer than a “Fat Tuesday.” That’s where “Carnival” comes in. The word “Carnival” comes from the Latin words meaning “to leave off meat.”

Now, “Carnival” is synonymous with an extended period of revelry, ending on Mardi Gras.

Beginning in Europe, the festivities spread to the New World, too, where they took on a festive life of their own. Now, two of the biggest pre-Lenten celebrations are in the Americas.

Which is next on your travel bucket list?


CARNIVAL OF VENICE

Venice is the showpiece of European Carnival celebrations, with three million visitors coming to Venice every year to take part. It lasts for about two weeks, ending in “Martedi Grasso,” (Fat Tuesday). The date of Easter changes every year, so Carnival’s dates do too.

The Carnival of Venice dates back over a thousand years, and its hallmark for centuries has been its fantastical masks.
From the 1300’s, between December 26th, the day after Christmas, until Fat Tuesday, Venetians were permitted to dress as they like, with rigid class rules for consumption suspended, and disguise themselves behind masks. The anonymity allowed upper and lower classes to mingle, as extravagant parties and balls were held throughout the wealthy trading city full of artisans who provided luxury products to high society.

Maskmakers had high status, traditionally creating leather, porcelain or famously, Venetian glass. The distinctive styles with different names, often for people of different occupations, are still used today, including masks with long, creepy beaks, cat-eye, half-masks held to the face with a baton, or white porcelain masks worn with a tricorn hat and cloak.

Masks are still central to the Carnival of Venice experience today. Visitors can buy masks at souvenir or high art prices year round throughout the city. Nowadays most Italian masks are made of lighter materials, often hand-painted with gold leaf and decorated with feathers and artificial or even real gems.

One of the central events in a modern Venice Carnival is the contest for most beautiful mask, as well as masked balls that put epic Italian style and hospitality on full display.

 

NEW ORLEANS’ MARDI GRAS

You can thank Louisiana’s French history for its modern-day reputation as having the most famous pre-Easter party in North America. Records show the first Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, was celebrated on the continent in Louisiana in 1703, fostered by governors from France. In those early days, staples of modern-day Mardi Gras were established, including masked societies, elegant society balls, and processions.

Other traditions followed, including torches, or ‘flambeaux’ to light evening festivities with an air of romance, elaborate floats, Rex, the King of Carnival, and the establishment of purple, green and gold as the official colors of the local version of Carnival. In 1875, Mardi Gras was designated a legal holiday in Louisiana, and it remains one today.

New Orleans’ celebrations last much longer than that single Fat Tuesday. Here, they begin on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th. That’s the Epiphany, the day the biblical three kings arrived to meet the infant Jesus. It’s the origin of NOLA’s Mardi Gras tradition of king cake, with a tiny figurine representing a baby, cooked inside for one lucky person to find in their slice.

Today’s Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans incorporate other uniquely local elements too, including of course jazz music, and strings of beads caught from passing parade floats.


NOLA’s Mardi Gras is the largest masked party on the continent. Carrying on the Old World tradition of masks providing anonymity and equality between classes, they remain mandatory on parade floats, and practically universal among revellers on Mardi Gras itself.
 

RIO CARNIVAL

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the biggest in the world, with two million people daily celebrating in the streets of Brazil’s famous, beachside city.

Rio’s Carnival dates back hundreds of years, to Portuguese colonists in the 1600’s. By the 1800’s, celebrations incorporated masked balls. In the early 1900’s, Africans in Brazil transformed Carnival with the introduction of samba music – the beginning of the uniquely Brazilian version of Carnival we know today.

Rio’s Carnival begins on the Friday before the start of Lent and wraps up on Fat Tuesday. Today, about 200 samba ‘schools’ or neighborhood societies build extravagant themed floats and costumes for the parade in the ‘Sambadrome’ with grandstands and private boxes for excellent viewing.


While the parade is taking place in the Sambadrome, the streets outside and throughout the city, as well as its most elegant ballrooms are alive with more party-goers. While the Sambadrome and the ballroom of the Copacabana hotel are ticketed, the street carnival –with hundreds of ‘bandas’ taking place any any point during Carnival, is open to everyone.


Start your Carnival Trip!






Where in the World to Drink Ice Wine
Don’t let winter stop you from enjoying a wine harvest season! There are two ways - and many places - to celebrate a wine harvest in the New Year.

You could travel to the southern hemisphere, where standard vineyard harvests take place during the northern hemisphere’s spring.

Or you can embrace winter – and the one, very special wine it creates.

Ice wine is a case of making lemonade when life gives you lemons. When winter conditions are just right, grapes freeze on the vine, giving vintners the opportunity to make ice wine. 

What makes ice wine special? When grapes are still on the vine as the temperatures turn to freezing, it’s only the water content in the grapes that freezes – not the sugar or other solids. So the small amount of juice extracted from the frozen grapes is very concentrated.

For natural ice wine, grapes must fully ripen on the vine, then undergo a hard freeze (−8 °C (17 °F) or colder). It's risky business. Grapes can be lost before harvest, and then the moment it freezes, pickers have to work at night harvesting all the grapes in a few hours before the sun warms them up again at dawn.

The wine made from that freezing process is very sweet wine with a balanced acidity - and can only be produced in small quantities. And it's priced accordingly.

If you want to taste ice wine at its source - and see the unique way it's made, your geographic choices are limited. Ice wine can only be produced in wine regions where it gets sufficiently – and reliably – cold.

Old World

Like many culinary innovations, ice wine may have been a happy accident that came about as a result of an unexpectedly harsh winter in the Nuremburg region of Germany around 1800. Vintners pressed their frozen grapes anyway… and voila!

It may have helped that sweet, late harvest Rhine wines were already the most highly valued wines in Germany at the time. Although the process is different, sweet late harvest wines may have smoothed the way for sweet ice wines to be appreciated and attempted in the rare, subsequent years when weather conditions presented the opportunity to make ‘Eiswein.’ 

Technology, like electric lights to facilitate night time picking, helped permit more frequent Eiswein vintages in the second half of the 20th century. Austria and a number of other, mostly Central European countries make small quantities, too.

We recommend: combining an Eiswein tasting trip with an alpine winter ski trip to Europe.

New World

While its wine culture is much more recent, Canada’s Niagara wine region consistently achieves ice wine levels of freezing every year.
 
Not long after some Central European winemakers at Niagara wineries began experimenting with ice wine, Niagara was producing the rare wine in commercially-viable quantities. In 1991, a Niagara ice wine won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at Europe’s Vinexpo, putting Canadian ice wine on the international wine map. 
 
Now, Canada is the world's ice wine superstar and largest producer, making more ice wine than all other countries combined. Niagara (pictured above) remains the biggest ice wine region in Canada, although it’s produced in wineries across the country.
 
Across the border and the Great Lakes, American vineyards have been getting into the ice wine act, too, particularly Michigan, although other wineries in neighboring Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania also produce the wine that celebrates the winter cold.

We recommend: Get in on the spirit of ice wine at a local ice wine festival. Sometimes you can even be part of the midnight grape picking, which is more fun than it sounds.
 

START YOUR WINE TRIP!

 


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Why Taking an Alaska Cruise is 'For the Birds'
Bears and whales and other marine mammals are high on everyone’s list for wildlife sightings in Alaska. But we think any trip to America’s Last Frontier is, well, ‘for the birds.’

With more coastline than the rest of the United States combined, as well as parks bigger than some countries, Alaska’s natural treasures include abundant populations of some of the continent’s most interesting, colorful, and majestic birds. 

You may think, in northern climes, the bird population doesn’t stack up against tropical feathered friends. But in fact, there are birds in Alaska in every color of the rainbow, including vivid blues, reds, oranges and greens.

And in every size, from a flame-colored hummingbird only a couple of inches long… to a regal eagle with a nearly seven-foot wingspan!

Pack your binoculars on your next trip to Alaska and watch for these avian residents of Alaska.

Bald Eagle

If you were asked to name a bird in Alaska, your answer would likely be ‘Bald Eagle,’ a bird that symbolizes not only America, but the wilderness frontiers Alaska is famous for. More bald eagles – an estimated 30,000 - live in Alaska than the rest of the U.S. combined.
 
 
America’s national bird is unmistakeable. It’s an immense and heavy raptor: 3 feet long with a wingspan that can reach 7.5 feet! Its dark body, with white head, sharp, hooked yellow beak and matching legs is dramatic, and distinguishes it from other birds of prey.
 
It’s easy to spot bald eagles in Alaska. They’re found all along the coast, where they hunt for fish and sometimes small mammals. They have an eery screeching cry, so you can often hear them before you see them. And bald eagles mate for life, building large, treetop stick nests to raise their young.
 

Rufous Hummingbird

At the absolute other end of the size scale, a bird that hovers around three inches long, and barely tips the scales at under 2-tenths of an ounce. Where bald eagles soar and dive and strike, Rufous Hummingbirds dart and hover with great speed and manoeuvrability.

 
The Rufous Hummingbird’s name gives its plumage away, since the word means ‘reddish’. But that name undersells these tiny birds, which are brilliant orange on their backs and bellies, with red throats and black wings, a combination that makes bird watchers describe rufous hummingbirds as “glowing like a bed of coals.”
 
Do you think hummingbirds stick to purely warmer climes? These hummingbirds take annual, record-breaking migrations. While they fly vast distances to Florida, Mexico or even Panama to winter, the longest hummingbird migration on record, Rufous Hummingbirds live in southern Alaska during the prime tourist season. Small flying insects and nectar from flowers that bloom in Alaska’s short season, like its famous ‘fireweed,’ sustain these unique tiny birds in the north.
 

Willow Ptarmigan

 The state bird of Alaska isn’t the showy bald eagle. It’s the modest, chicken-like willow ptarmigan, part of the pheasant family, and they’re called grouse in the British Isles. Like grouse in the U.K., they are a game bird, with the widest range in Alaska.
 
As do their cousins the chickens, willow ptarmigans forage on the ground, eating on tree buds and insects in forests and moorlands in northern climes.

 
These large ground birds are the largest of three ‘Arctic’ grouse in Alaska. Willow ptarmigan are fully white when young, and darker, mottled browns when older, with a dashing red brow and distinctive feathered feet which help it travel along frozen ground.
 

Murre

Common murres are abundant in the Gulf of Alaska. They look like penguins, with tuxedo coloring and upright stance, but of course, penguins are only found at the South Pole, not in the north.

Murres, unlike penguins, can fly – up to 125 miles from their nests high on cliffs of rocky shorelines to find food for their chicks. They can also dive up to 600 feet for small fish. Remarkably, when chicks are ready to fledge, their father swims below them at the base of the cliff and calls to them. Chicks hurl themselves 800-1000 feet off the cliff and swim to their father, who stays with his chicks, caring for and feeding them for a month or two.

After breeding season, murres are seen in large groups called a ‘bazaar’ or a ‘fragrance’ on top or flying across open ocean.

 

Tufted Puffin

Who can resist a smile when you spot a tufted puffin? Nicknamed ‘sea parrots’, their black bodies and white faces with yellow plumes set off their most eye-catching feature: an oversized red and orange bill.
 
These stocky, awkward seabirds are almost comical in appearance, easily spotted in flocks flapping short wings and flying just above the water line. Their wings are adapted best to swimming underwater, where they catch fish and often snag multiple fish cross-wise in their beaks.
 

Puffins are abundant in Alaska, and favorite image for souvenirs from America’s 49th state.
 

START YOUR BIRDWATCHING TRIP!




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Celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day with this Cruise Ship Classic
We often sing the praises of the inventive, entertaining, and sometimes, celebrity-chef driven specialty restaurants on cruise ships. But some of the best culinary experiences cruising are in the main dining room, where talented chefs craft classic, favorite dishes, presented with a sense of ceremony that make dining at sea a true occasion.
 
Take National Chocolate Cake Day. January 27 highlights the appeal of one of the world's most popular desserts, one that's been around since 1765. A comfort food that cheers an ordinary day puts a smile on every face, and is the sweet touch that makes life's milestones all the brighter.
 
A rich, decadent chocolate cake is the kind of mainstay, staple dessert you find on main dining room menus on many cruise lines.
 
 
For National Chocolate Cake Day, Chef Russel Gomes from Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras ship, shares a recipe for a 5-ingredient, half-hour version that means you don't have to wait til your next cruise to indulge.
 
 

Five! Simple Ingredients

9oz Semi-sweet Chocolate
6oz Butter
4 Eggs
3oz Sugar
2oz Flour 
 

Five Easy Steps 

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass mixing bowl using the medium setting in a microwave, in no more than 1 minute increments at a time, til fully melted. Use a spatula to fold the butter and chocolate together til blended.
  2. In another mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar and whisk for a few minutes, then add flour and whisk til there are no lumps. It's just enough to bind the ingredients, so you get that lava, molten effect, not a regular chocolate cake!
  3. Add the egg mix to the melted chocolate and combine, whisking constantly so the heat of the chocolate doesn't cook the eggs.
  4. Pour the mix in greased, individual ceramic molds. Single-serving size souffle cups if you have them, or improvise! Even small coffee cups will work.
  5. Set the molds in a pan with hot water in it. Put the pan in a pre-heated, 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
 
Place the warm cup on a plate to serve. A dusting of icing sugar, maybe a fresh strawberry, and you have a cruise ship classic dessert for a homemade celebration - or an ordinary dinner at home, to make any day National Chocolate Cake Day.
 

Start Your Culinary Trip!

 
 
 
Sun, Sand, and a Side of History: 7 Historic Sites You Must Visit in the Caribbean

 If you love sun and sand… with a side of history, here are seven Caribbean islands whose history lives on today through preserved and protected UNESCO World Heritage historic sites.

Which history-rich destinations top your list for an upcoming beach holiday with a twist?


ANTIGUA: “Nelson’s Dockyard”

Known for its famous inhabitant, British Admiral Lord Nelson, who lived in Antigua’s Royal Navy Dockyard for three years in the 1780’s, Nelson’s Dockyard is part of a National Park UNESCO site that is comprised of Georgian naval buildings and a walled enclosure. (Pictured, top, courtesy Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

Historically, for Britain’s Royal Navy far from home in the West Indies, Antigua’s coast and English Harbour were a perfect bolt hole from enemies and the elements. Deep, narrow bays protected by mountains provided an ideal location to repair ships and regroup safe from hurricanes.


In the late 1700’s, the Dockyard was built, using enslaved Africans, as a strategic, Eastern Caribbean stronghold to protect English sugarcane plantations from other European powers trying to expand their Caribbean presence.
Nelson’s Dockyard isn’t just an historic site. Today, Nelson’s Dockyard is still Antigua’s main port, where cruise visitors to Antigua embark and disembark, as well as hosting the country’s famous sailing and yachting events.
 

BARBADOS: Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison

The distinction of biggest British colonial garrison in the 17- and 1800’s belonged to Barbados. Combined with the capital of Barbados, Bridgetown, one of the finest remaining examples of British colonial settlements of the period, it’s a UNESCO site.

Bridgetown’s name comes from the bridge constructed in the area by earlier Amerindian inhabitants, before being settled by the British beginning in the 1600’s. Other Dutch and Spanish settlements were laid out in a grid, but Bridgetown follows a ‘serpentine’ city layout. Bridgetown’s harbor was a key maritime hub and frequent first port of call for ships arriving from a trans-Atlantic crossing.


The Barbados Garrison began at the turn of the 1700’s with construction of a fort, barracks, parade ground and other supporting buildings, including its famous red towered guardhouse. It protected the island from attacks by competing colonial powers like Spain, Holland and France.

Bridgetown and its Garrison are still central to life on Barbados. Cruises call at Bridgetown’s port, and some lines embark on Caribbean itineraries from Bridgetown, which has a host of land and sea-based activities for visitors.
 

CURACAO: Historic Willemstad and its Harbor

Willemstad (in English: William Town) is the modern-day capital of the Dutch island Curacao. Until 2010, it was also the capital of what had been the Netherlands / Dutch Antilles, which included the ‘ABC’ islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, as well as the ‘SSS’ islands of Dutch St. Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius.


Its candy-colored, unmistakable harborfront skyline combines Dutch with Spanish and Portuguese architectural styles of the 1600’s. It’s one of the most distinctive and best-preserved historic cities in the Caribbean. Willemstad is home to the oldest surviving synagogue in the New World.

Today, Curacao, in the southern Caribbean, is a must-see destination for travelers who have already immersed themselves in the more abundant examples of British and Spanish Caribbean history. The ABC islands are famous for their dry, desert climates, and world-class diving, as well as iconic examples of 400-year-old Dutch history.
 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Colonial City of Santo Domingo

The capital of the Dominican Republic was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas. This ‘cradle’ of the New World was founded in 1496 soon after the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s the oldest, continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas.


Santo Domingo’s Colonial City is much more than a single building, which is sometimes all that remains of historic settlements. It’s home to the first cathedral, first hospital, first customs house, first fortress, first monastery, first castle, and first university in the Americas. In addition to the historic landmarks, Santo Domingo’s early form of urban planning created a city laid out in a grid pattern, establishing the model that would be used throughout Latin America as Spanish and Portuguese influence spread.

Although most famous as an all-inclusive beach resort vacation destination, and many visitors to the Dominican Republic stay in their beach resort communities, expanding your visit to Santo Domingo’s UNESCO World Heritage Colonial City is an eye-opening, intriguing insight into the entire region’s history. 

JAMAICA: Blue and John Crow Mountains

The mountains that cover a fifth of the island are Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also the Caribbean's first World Heritage Mixed Site for both natural and cultural riches.

In addition to being a global biodiversity ‘hotspot’ with 1357 flowering plants, a quarter of which are only found in Jamaica, and 87 that can only be found in the park, the steep slopes of the rare, ‘tropical mountain’ environment are the only known home for rare butterflies, birds, boa and other creatures. 


History lives here, too. This is where indigenous Tainos and former enslaved persons fled to escape colonial power. The thickly forested mountains provided the isolation and natural resources for the Maroons' survival and fight for freedom. They developed a profound knowledge of and spiritual connection to the mountains, creating a cultural legacy that survives in modern Jamaica.

Tangible history of the Maroons' life and resistance in the mountains also remains today. The Nanny Town Heritage Route includes settlements, trails, viewpoints, and hiding places.
 
The Blue and John Crow Mountains sustained Maroons and hid them as they struggled to survive and achieve recognition and liberation. Their struggle and successes influenced other slave resistance in the region, and is a powerful story of humanity for all people of the world.

PUERTO RICO: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

If you’ve ever been on a cruise ship arriving into port in San Juan at sunrise, you’ll have seen one of the most beautiful approaches by sea in the Islands. San Juan’s fortified harbor projects on rocky shores out into the sea, with emerald greenery setting off the stones and the waves.


The series of defensive structures that are now a UNESCO World Heritage site on this U.S. territory were built beginning in the 1500’s, and one quick look at a map will tell you why. Puerto Rico occupies a very strategic position in the Caribbean Sea, and this fortified harbor stood guard over the bay and city.

The U.S. National Park Service manages the Old San Juan site that includes a citadel, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, built from the 15- 1700’s and named after Spanish King Philip II, as well as bastions, powder houses, and almost all of the impressive old city wall.

La Fortaleza or El Palacio de Santa Catalina, is the name given to the vivid, wedding-cake style governor’s mansion in Old San Juan. Built in 1533, it has been the official governor’s residence for centuries and is the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the New World.
 

ST. KITTS & NEVIS: Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

The UNESCO World Heritage historic site in the twin-island country is the fortress – one of the best preserved historical fortifications in the New World - perched on the steep slopes of St. Kitts’ Brimstone Hill. Like Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, and Bridgetown, Barbados’ historic core and garrison, Brimstone Hill’s fort is a British military construction. It was built in the 17th and 18th centuries by enslaved Africans.

But the historic site everyone’s talking about these days is on next-door Nevis, where a stone house originally built in the late 1600’s merges Nevisian and American history. The recent, wild success of the Broadway musical Hamilton has shone a spotlight on the Nevisian birthplace of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who, among many accomplishments during a pivotal time in history, was instrumental in having the international slave trade made illegal.

(Image courtesy Four Seasons Nevis)
In the heart of Nevis’ small main town of Charlestown, Hamilton House and other historic buildings are still very much part of local life. The first floor is a museum, and the second floor is the meeting room for the island’s House of assembly.

The landmark resort on the island, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, has even created a special Hamilton experience to bring his legacy to life for guests, involving a visit with a local storyteller, on-resort experiences and even a Hamilton-inspired playlist.


 START YOUR HISTORIC ISLAND TRIP!



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Hike Europe's Most Famous Ancient Trail During This Jubilee Year
Only once or maybe twice a decade, the Camino de Santiago becomes an even more remarkable hiking journey through Spain.

Pilgrims and tourists have been hiking the “Way of St. James,” as it translates, since the 9th century. It’s a 500-mile (800 km) route across northern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the spiritual home of the apostle James who preached in Spain, became its patron saint, and whose remains were returned here and enshrined.

The route of St. James’ final, return journey to Spain became a pilgrimage, one that continues to this day.

Spiritual and religious devotees walking the route today are joined by those taking the “Way of St. James” as a journey of self-discovery, to achieve a personal challenge, or to explore this unique cultural experience and northern Spanish countryside actively on foot or by bicycle.
 

Jubilee Years on the Camino de Santiago

 
And if your trip coincides with a Jacobean (from “James”) Holy Year, the experience will be all the more exceptional. The “Xacobeo Holy Year” occurs when the festival of St. James, which takes place annually on July 25th, falls on a Sunday. That means the special celebrations of Jubilee Year happen once or twice a decade.
 
Due to the pandemic, the Holy Year 2021 was extended for the first time over two years. Already, special festivities have begun for its second half. “Light up the Xacobeo” is an initiative where more than a hundred monuments and landmark buildings throughout Spain are illuminated to honor the special pilgrimage year. Half of those are along the actual Camino de Santiago. 

 (Illuminations at the terminus, at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, courtesy of the Tourist Board of Spain)

They include a wayfinding arrow, pointing the way to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the terminus of the Way and a long pilgrimage. They mirror the wayfinding signs that are used to mark the actual route still today.
 
This year’s Xacobeo Holy Year has gone global. Recognizing how communities and the world have come together even more during pandemic times, “Light up the Xacobeo” illuminations and wayfinding have spread beyond Spain’s borders.
 
Here, for example, is Notre-Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, Canada, illuminated for the Holy Year Jubilee – wayfinding arrow guiding pilgrims and seekers towards Spain.

(Photo courtesy of the Tourist Board of Spain in Canada)

In addition to special, wayfinding illuminations, the Way of St. James in Spain this Jubilee year will be celebrated by events including concerts, art exhibitions, films, conferences and educational activities for all ages.

Centuries-Old Traditions


That’s in addition to all the traditions of the Way of St. James, not just wayfinding markers that range from the humble to the spectacular illuminations of the Jubilee year.


Scallops are the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. The shellfish is plentiful on the beaches of the region, and originally the shells may have been practical for pilgrims to scoop shared food and water, as well as become a souvenir of the life-changing journey. 

Pilgrims still wear a shell to show they are on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. And scallop shell markers, including brass shells inlaid in cobblestone paths, or stylized sideways shells, often gold on a blue background on signposts or buildings still mark the path through towns and countryside. 


Most pilgrims then and now buy and carry the credencial. In days of yore, it provided access free accommodations and support for pilgrims along the Way. It’s also like a passport, an official record of your journey. You get an official St. James stamp in each town you eat, or official stay along the way, and presented at the Pilgrim's Office once you reach Santiago, proves that you have completed the official route and qualify for a 'compostela' – a certificate of completion.

A Pilgrim's Mass is held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela twice daily, and pilgrims who received their compostela the day before have their countries and where they started their journeys announced during Mass.

Pilgrimages had trickled down to only a few hundred travelers along the Camino de Santiago by the 1980's. Then, in 1987, it was declared the first European Cultural Route and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Modern pilgrims and secular active travelers re-discovered the appeal of the historic route.  

These days, 300,000 or more people make the trip every year on foot, by bicycle or horseback, and in escorted tours by vehicle that stop at highlights along the way. During Jubilee years, that number swells.

The trip on foot from the Spanish border nowadays takes about a month. Not everyone who walks on the Camino receives a compostela, but you can still earn one without a month-long commitment. 

To qualify, you must make the pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons, even if they are your own spirituality and inner quest, do the last 100 km (approx 60 miles) on foot or horseback, or the last 200 km (approx 120 miles) by bicycle, AND you still need to collect a certain number of stamps in your credencial which you present at the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago de Compostela.

The next Jubilee Year for the Camino de Santiago isn't until 2027, so don’t wait to experience this uplifting, unique experience.
 
As the Tourist Board of Spain says: Just walk. Buen Camino.
 

 

START YOUR TRIP!


Top image courtesy of the Tourist Board of Spain.

Unless noted, other images: Getty

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6 Exciting Hotel Openings in Cities You'll Want to Travel to in 2022

These newly-opened hotels aren't just a home-away-from-home, they're gateways to a city's sites, local urban culture, cuisine, and social scene. Start planning your next city adventure today!


New York, New York

Hotel: Park Lane Hotel, Preferred Hotels & Resorts
What Makes it Special:
This classic, 47-story NYC Central Park South hotel has been re-imagined and re-opened as a sophisticated, playful, and inclusive hotel in a very exclusive part the city. Celebrated design agency Yabu Pushelberg restored the existing architectural details of the historic, post-war building with bold colors and eclectic textures redefining its mid-century luxury aesthetic. Nearly half of the over 600 rooms have park-facing views, with the other half featuring vistas of the Manhattan skyline. Whimsical murals in guest rooms and public spaces shatter any impression of stuffy luxury. Guests have three unique in-house dining options, which include the Parisian-style lobby bar Rose Lane, reimagined Harry’s New York Bar and Central Park South’s only rooftop lounge “secret garden” cocktail bar.

 

 
Why Visit:
Located on “Billionaires’ Row” on Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues, the hotel is ideally located directly across the southeast corner of the park and within immediate walking distance to some of NYC’s most famous attractions, such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, 5th Avenue shopping, and the Museum of Modern Art. Of course, everything in New York is within easy reach, from its famous restaurants to rooftop bars with views of the skyline, to icons of American architecture and culture like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. The anniversary of era-defining, NYC-based TV series Friends, and the reboot of Sex and the City, have re-inspired some fans to relive beloved scenes and revisit famous neighborhoods of our favorite fictional characters.

Paris, France

Hotel: Bvlgari Hotel Paris
What makes it special:
Luxury fashion house Bvlgari brings Italian glamour to the magic of the French capital. Located on the Avenue George V in the ‘Golden Triangle’, home to the French capital’s luxury and fashion excellence between the Seine and the Champs-Élysées, the Bvlgari Hotel Paris is where ‘bold’ Italian design and hospitality excellence, as well as contemporary Italian cuisine meet the jewelry heritage of Bvlgari in the glorious setting of Paris. 76 rooms and suites, including the Bvlgari Penthouse, have views of all the capital’s iconic monuments including the iconic Eiffel Tower:






Why visit:
It’s always time to reconnect with the City of Light and one of the world’s most magical, walkable cities. From strolls along either bank of the Seine, to the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, the majesty of historic monuments, to renowned museums and palaces of cuisine to humble restaurants that serve mouth-watering bistro food, from the incomparable boutiques of the Marais and grand department stores that are as much destinations as places to shop for that perfect French addition to your style, there’s no place like Paris.
 

Venice, Italy

Hotel: Radisson Collection Hotel, Palazzo Nani Venice
What makes it special:
Radisson Collection Hotel, Palazzo Nani Venice, near the heart of the city, was built as a private family villa in the 1500’s, and has opened as a 52-room hotel following two years of renovations approved by Venice’s arts and heritage authorities to preserve its authentic qualities. Restoration work focused on the original decorative and architectural elements of the building’s façade and interiors. Special attention was paid to the restoration of historical ornaments, including centuries-old stuccos and paintings on the walls and ceilings. During the excavation works, some Roman flooring was found and registered as an historic find. The hotel’s wine bar and terrace offers traditional Venetian food, wine and cocktails, while the hotel garden overlooks the Cannaregio Canal.


Why visit:
With views of the Cannaregio canal, and located by the Venetian Ghetto in the northern part of the city, the
Radisson Collection Hotel, Palazzo Nani Venice lies in the Cannaregio district, known for the historic Jewish Ghetto and the many local bars and restaurants. The Vaporetto stop just outside the hotel provides access to the rest of the city, including St. Mark’s Square, the romance of walks along canals and bridges with stops at restaurants and shops of famous Venetian craftsmanship, and of course, gondola rides of exploration. You can also take a water taxi from the hotel to the train station, airport and the islands of Murano and Burano, famous for glass workshops and extended Venetian culture and lifestyle.
 

Halifax, Canada

Hotel: Muir, Autograph Collection
What makes it special:
Muir is the first hotel in the Canadian Atlantic coastal province of Nova Scotia to join Marriott Bonvoy’s Autograph Collection. From a picturesque location in the heart of this famous port city’s waterfront lifestyle scene, carefully appointed rooms with thoughtful amenities, to Nova Scotian art, design and dining, Muir establishes an authentic “Sense of Place” that invites guests to forge a meaningful connection with contemporary Nova Scotia and its people. Muir projects a contemporary marine, wharf-like design using local materials, including salt-and-pepper granite and sandstone, as well as Muntz metal, a copper alloy prominently used in shipbuilding.


Why visit:
Muir is part of the Queen’s Marque district of Halifax, a cultural and community destination for locals and visitors to Atlantic Canada. The bustling district encompasses vibrant restaurants, shops, nightlife, offices and luxury residences, all set against a striking harbor backdrop. Halifax is the capital city of the province that fosters Scottish heritage more than nearly anywhere else in the world outside of Scotland, where you can find your inner Scot at a Gathering of the Clans or musical Tattoo. Halifax also cradles a Canadian Atlantic lifestyle that features whale watching, dining on lobster, sailing, coastal exploration, famous lighthouses and more.
 

Mexico City, Mexico

Hotel: Ritz-Carlton Mexico City
What makes it special:
This hotel is the third Ritz-Carlton in the country, but the first urban Ritz-Carlton. It has transformed Mexico city’s skyline with its 58-story tower along the iconic Paseo de Reforma and showcases sweeping, uninterrupted views of the famed Chapultepec Park. Its location and views are maximized by a double glass façade and open-air terraces, inviting guests in its 153 guest rooms and suites to discover a new perspective on the city. The hotel’s design pays homage to Mexico city’s profound role in the surrealist art movement, and how Mexican artists like Frida Kahlo celebrated their indigenous roots. Its design makes use of metals, mirrors and glass to reflect the exterior into the interior, creating a surrealist experience by playing with perspective and distorting the surrounding, traditional architecture. A calm neutral color palette with shades of smokey ash, deep blues, and metallic fibers woven throughout the hotel are a nod to Mexican storytelling and folklore, and local ingredients and botanicals, as well as healing and spiritual traditions of Mexico City’s Aztec culture, in addition to local flavors in its dining offering, add to the hotel’s uniquely local experience.


Why visit:
The personalized guest experience at the Ritz-Carlton Mexico City goes beyond its doors into the vibrant city that’s known for its art and culture scene. A hotel tour with a local historian allows guests to be immersed into the Mexican rituals and celebrations that inspired the hotel design, and hotel staff curate days of exploration for cultural discovery and epicurean adventures in the city. Part of the hotel’s vision is to be a “literal and figurative gateway along the Paseo de Reforma, welcoming and encouraging guests to learn about the colorful history, dynamic present and bright future of Mexico City,” say hotel officials.

Melbourne, Australia

Hotel: Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands
What makes it special:
The first Marriott Hotels property to open in Australia in 20 years is a 189-room center of hospitality whose design takes inspiration from the yachts in the city’s harbor, and its façade offers multiple views over the water, city skyline, and the Bolte Bridge. The hotel’s lobby holds fluted glass windows with art installations to welcome guests, as well as brass golden chains suspended over the area to mimic a cinched sailcloth. But its centrepiece is a 92-foot, wet edge rooftop infinity pool, with an adjoining Sunset House bar, one of the only bars in town with views of sunsets illuminating the city skyline. Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands also welcomes the first exclusive, 24-hour M Club executive lounge in Australia.
 
Why visit:
The hotelier says it aims to offer “an all-encompassing experience” of Australia’s second city. Located within the retail, leisure, and entertainment precinct, The District Docklands on Waterfront Way in Melbourne’s city center, the Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands doesn’t just offer views across Melbourne’s harbour, city skyline, Bolte Bridge, and into sunsets in the west. Melbourne's Docklands is one of Australia’s largest urban renewal projects, reconnecting central Melbourne with its historic waterfront on the Yarra River. Melbourne is the gateway to the state of Victoria’s treasures, including Great Ocean Road and the vineyards of the Yarra Valley.
 

START YOUR URBAN ADVENTURE!


Images courtesy of their respective hotels.



Better Sleep is the Travel Trend We Need Right Now
Is your New Year’s resolution to get more rest – and travel more? The good news is that there are travel experiences that let you do both. 

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer and Host of BestTrip TV, runs down a few of her favorites.
 

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland – Sleep Retreat

The breathtaking Fogo Island Inn, perched on stilts like the fishing huts on the island on the edge of the North Atlantic ocean, has been rated one of the top luxury lodges in the world.

 
Any trip to the Fogo Island Inn is a retreat into a unique island environment enriched with visiting artists, local artisans and crafters, and centuries-old living off the land and the sea, which curated, hands-on guest experiences bring to life.
 
Don’t take my word for it! WATCH THIS BESTTRIP TV VIDEO OF THE FOGO ISLAND INN. Designer Karen Sealy highlights some of its breathtaking design.
 
The hospitality of the island and the Inn is now legendary. In its 29 unique rooms, beds covered in locally hand-made, colorful quilts face floor-to-ceiling windows onto the sea or the dramatic landscape. Every morning, a wooden box draped with cheerful linens is dropped off at the door of your room, with a carafe of coffee or tea, and a selection of freshly baked treats that inspire you to go right back to bed to enjoy them while gazing out at the view and enjoying the crackling of your room’s wood-burning stove.

 
In addition to an acclaimed dining experience in its restaurant, bar, lounge and Tea Room, the Inn’s Heritage Library, Reading Room, roof-top wood saunas and hot tubs help contribute to a guest’s relaxation and well-being – not to mention the benefits of feeling cut off from the hustle and bustle in this remote edge of the world.
 
What’s more, the Fogo Island Inn is also a community asset, with all of the operating surpluses reinvested into the local community to help secure a sustainable future for Fogo Island.
 
If that doesn’t already make you sleep better, the Inn also hosts a sleep retreat in March 2022. The director of Ryerson University in Toronto’s sleep and depression lab will lead “The Secrets of Sleep” that teaches guests sleep science, including daily workshops, morning yoga, evening meditation, time outdoors in the fresh sea air of the island, and more.
 
 Between the inherently relaxing qualities of a stay at the Inn, and the science-based sleep teachings of the retreat, guests can look forward to restorative sleep during their stay, “and the benefits will endure long after you’ve left our shores,” says the hotel.
 

Rosewood Hotels’ “The Alchemy of Sleep” Retreats

Inspiring guests to improve their state of rest in the New Year, 20 luxury Rosewood Hotels have launched holistic escapes to encourage movement, mindfulness, nutrition and tranquillity leading to more restorative sleep.
 
In addition to the restful features and amenities of their rooms and hotel spas, Alchemy of Sleep is Rosewood’s global collection of new and immersive retreats from January to March 2022, designed to promote rest through sleep-inducing treatments, movement-driven activities and special amenities that create long-lasting benefits to travelers. Dedicated to those setting intentions for profound change in the New Year, the thoughtfully crafted programs support renewal of the body and practices to take home and incorporate into busy, everyday life.
 
Guests can opt for a one-night 'Dreamscape' or extend from two to five nights for a 'Sleep Transformation,' providing an even more immersive stay. As a supplement to these offerings, Curated Sleep Boxes feature products that re-balance such as essential oil blends, tea blends, aromatherapy linen mists and silk eye masks.

Image: Rosewood Hotel Georgia
 
Rosewood's “A Sense of Place” philosophy means the Alchemy of Sleep retreats reflect local wellness customs and embrace the unique natural surroundings. Here are a selection of Alchemy of Sleep programs at hotels and in destinations that inspire:
 
  • In Paris, Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel welcomes guests with an in-room Sleeping Beauty set, featuring all the essentials for ensuring a good night's sleep. Guests continue their stay with personalized messages and centering meditation sessions, concluding the journey with a Sleep Naturopathy consultation to establish long-term patterns for attaining the best sleep possible back home.
  • In St. Barth, the newly-debuted Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth offers an ideal setting for finding serenity. In addition to nutrient-rich dishes and scenic meditation, restorative treatments, such as Healing Sound Bath Therapy, activate the brain waves for a dreamlike state. Each room is enhanced with oil diffusers and mists, silk pillowcases and eye masks, books with sleep tips, as well as access to meditation TV apps.
  • In the British Virgin Islands, Rosewood Little Dix Bay is a tranquil haven that also offers aromatherapy and reflexology treatments releasing tension from the body, supplemented with outdoor activities such as hikes through 'The Baths' National Park. For the deepest possible state of relaxation in full consciousness, guests can partake in Yoga Nindra, also known as 'Yogic Sleep,' offered under the stars just before bedtime.
  • In Mexico's Riviera Maya, Rosewood Mayakoba guests can engage in personal consultations with the resort's wellbeing experts to develop clear actions for improving sleep cycles, while keeping the body moving with Float Fit sessions and Restorative Yoga at the resort's private cenote (natural pool). Guests will also have access to a Sleep Aromatherapy Support Kit featuring a remedy made from a blend of organic oils, as well as a master class on sleep.
  • In California, with the Alchemy of Sleep retreat launch comes the debut of Bryte Sleep Suites at Montecito's Rosewood Miramar Beach and Menlo Park's Rosewood Sand Hill. The suites feature 'The Restorative Bed by Bryte,' which allow for individual heating and cooling personalized to each sleep partner's profile with Circadian Climate technology directly impacting the sleeper's core body temperature. To further reduce stress, guests can choose from a selection of calm-inducing treatments that incorporate ingredients like CBD and lavender, as well as partake in meditations that take advantage of the resorts' breathtaking natural settings and landscaped gardens.
  • Rosewood San Miguel De Allende's retreat hones in on nutrition's impact on the sleep cycle, offering menus specially created by the hotel's Executive Chef Vincent Wallez, who thoughtfully selected soothing ingredients. Throughout the stay, guests will enjoy treatments that encourage deep rest, as well as meditation, yoga and breathing workshops that take advantage of the property's scenic surroundings.
 
Alchemy of Sleep retreats are also available at other Rosewood hotels around the world including Baha Mar, The Bahamas, Phuket, Thailand, London, England, Italy, the Middle East, and other destinations in Asia. 
 

SLEEP by Princess Cruises

Some of my best sleeps ever have been on cruise ships, where the gentle motion lulls you to sleep.
 
Princess Cruises has built on the natural advantages of the rocking motion of ships by consulting with a board-certified sleep expert to optimize staterooms for a sleep-friendly experience via all five of your senses.
 
“SLEEP” is not a specific retreat, but a way of cruising, with added touches for a wonderful, restorative rest on board, from the bedding to wellness treatments at the spa, even SLEEP-friendly evening meals on board. The cruise lines’ sleep expert explains, 'Sleep is a sensory experience. In fact, all five of your senses must be prepared for slumber in order for sleep to come easily and last all night long.'

Images above and top: Princess Cruises

Other resorts, hotels, cruise ships and spas offer enhancements to your sleep practices – from pillow menus to sleep concierges to activities, amenities and therapies. Whatever your travel tastes or needs for better rest, there are practices available at hotels, resorts and ships in dream destinations to help you achieve restorative rest while traveling, and even when you return home.

Ask your expert travel advisor about the perfect, restful travel experience for you.
 

START YOUR (RESTFUL) TRIP!







The Good Travel News We All Need at the End of 2021: Elephants Return to Conservation Area and Eco-lodge in Cambodia
Anantara, the luxury hospitality company that connects travellers to the indigenous, grounds guests in authentic luxury, with over 40 hotels and resorts located in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, has had success this year hosting other types of guests – the pachyderm kind.

The company’s charitable foundation, the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) works in partnership with local communities on environmental, social and cultural conservation.
 
As a result of one of those partnered programs, The Cardamom Tented Camp in Cambodia recently recorded the return of a small herd of wild elephants to its conservation area, after elephants had been absent for over five years from the region.
 
As they are in neighboring Thailand, elephants are a beloved – even sacred – and culturally significant creature in Cambodia, even as their wild populations are threatened by development and the industrialization of processes that used to use working elephants.
 
In a piece of rare, happy news coming from travel during the pandemic, forest rangers in the conservation area in Cambodia discovered and photographed elephant footprints and droppings. The evidence of elephant inhabitants occurred inside the nearly 45,000-acre forest concession, which the camp protects with help from The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF).


Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic Anantara guests, via the GTAEF, continued to support the ongoing maintenance of the camp and its team of rangers despite borders being closed to tourism. Anantara Angkor Resort in Siem Reap also donated supplies directly to the eco lodge throughout the past year. 

GTAEF wildlife experts estimate that a herd of nine elephants, consisting of four adult females, their calves, and one young adult elephant, make up the new herd in the conservation area. Members of the herd have also been captured on motion-sensored cameras nearby. The organization hopes the elephants will make themselves at home in the safety and security of the conservation area.


There’s more good news besides. The Lodge manager, who is also a wildlife photographer and conservationist, reports the return of a group of 15-18 otters to the Preak Tachan river beside the camp. This species of otter is native to Cambodia and is one of three species that are globally threatened and at risk of extinction due to human activities. So their appearance is hoped will allow Cambodia to play a role in the global conservation of otters.


The Cardamom Tented Camp, is located in Southern Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountain range. It’s a non-profit eco lodge resting within 18,000 hectares of pristine land, and opened in late 2017. Proceeds from the camp are used to fund rangers that patrol the concession, protecting against deforestation and illegal poaching. Since funding began, the protected haven and wildlife in it have thrived. That’s as development has continued in the region. 

Guests often see otters, macaque monkeys, kingfishers and hornbills from their boat when they travel to the camp, which is only accessible by river. The camp offers multiple hiking trails for adventurous guests to join the rangers on guided wildlife and bird spotting hikes through up to 5 miles of forest before returning via kayak with rest stops at the main ranger station in each direction.


In October, Cardamom Tented Camp was included in the Green Destinations’ Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories in the world. In 2019 the camp won the PATA Gold Award for Ecotourism and was a top three finalist in the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. In the same year, it was listed in National Geographic UK’s invitation-only listing of top 36 eco-hotels around the world that are leading by example.
 
At the end of 2021, Cardamom Tented Camp is once again open and operating with a unique business model. Part of the income from the lodge’s operation goes towards the funding of 12 forest rangers who protect the area from loggers, poachers and river sandbank dredgers.
 
Fully vaccinated travellers can now enter Cambodia and it has nearly 90% of its population fully vaccinated, one of the highest rates in Asia. The ideal time to visit this idyllic corner of the world is between December to April as the southwest Cambodia region near the Thai border enjoys blue skies and rain free days.

Talk to your travel advisor about planning a visit that supports the wilderness and wildlife of South-East Asia.
 

Start Your Trip!


Images courtesy Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Cardamom Tented Camp and The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF).

Enjoy a Rum-Soaked Taste of Antigua This Holiday Season
Located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, the twin-island tropical paradise of Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) should be on the radar of any traveler looking for a beach escape away from the masses with a different beach for every day of the year, and two distinctly different island experiences.

At just over 100 square miles, Antigua is the largest of the Leeward Islands. Its rich history includes Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort, and UNESCO World Heritage site. The island’s calendar prestigious events includes Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the local version of Carnival.

Little sister island Barbuda is a couple of dozen miles north-east of Antigua; only a 15-minute flight away or a short sail. The secluded, romantic island is famous for its pink-sand beaches and the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the hemisphere. It also punches above its weight in attracting global celebrities, including actor Robert De Niro, one of the partners in the upcoming Nobu Beach Inn, to accompany the celebrity-chef Nobu Restaurant on the island.

Perhaps nothing combines Antingua and Barbuda’s culture steeped in British traditions and Antiguan-style Caribbean flavor, than its holiday black rum cake.

Visit Antigua and Barbuda and one of the country’s luxury resorts, Carlisle Bay, share with us an Antiguan version of a Caribbean holiday staple: black rum cake.

This version of the rich, moist and morish fruit cake is made using only local rum from the island's very own Antigua Distillery: a leading distillery renowned globally for their English Harbour Rum. The deep noir of this decadent dessert is achieved through the wonderful caramelization of soft sandy white sugar and cups of 5-year English Harbour rum.

It’s the perfect Christmas and fall holiday treat to warm you from the inside out with a touch of tropical decadence.


Carlisle Bay’s Black Rum Cake Ingredients
   1lb unsalted butter
   1lb white sugar
   6 free-range eggs
   2 tsp cinnamon
   1 tsp nutmeg
   2 tsp vanilla extract
   1lb plain flour
   1 tbsp baking powder
   4 tbsp food browning
   1lb dried blend mixed fruits, mainly cranberry, raisin, currant, dried citrus
   2 cups English Harbour 5-year rum

Method
Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add free range eggs and vanilla extract and mix.

Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg together. Combine dry mixture to sugar, butter, egg mix until all incorporated. Add the browning & dried fruits and mix thoroughly.

Finally add the rum, taste and add more if you wish for a stronger flavor.

Place in a greased baking tin of your choice and cover with greaseproof paper. Bake at 280 degrees (Fahrenheit.) for 40-60 minutes, checking regularly til set. The ideal internal temperature of the cake is 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit.


For a truly authentic Antiguan confection, soak your dried fruit in the rum for as long as possible in advance. It is not unheard of for Antiguans to start the soaking step in January or even ahead of baking! But don’t worry if you haven’t started a whole year in advance, this rum cake will be a winning treat on your holiday table.

Serving
Rum goes in the cake - and with the cake when served! Treat your family and holiday guests to a shot of vintage English Harbour Rum on the side, drizzle the cake with rich cream and rum-infused caramel sauce; and you could even go as far as to pour more English Harbour Rum on top, the more the merrier!


What other travel recipes have become part of your culinary repertoire?

No matter what your family traditions, wishing you a happy holiday season!



Images courtesy Carlisle Bay