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Another River Cruise Line to Begin Sailing on the Douro in Portugal
Douro river cruises are among the fastest-growing itineraries in European river cruising, and one river cruise line is building a new ship to join the rush to Portugal.

Beginning in 2024, Avalon Waterways will be the latest river cruise line to embark on this increasingly popular route, joining Uniworld, Tauck, AmaWaterways, Scenic, Emerald Cruises and others on this western-most European river cruise route.

Calling its new itinerary “a new view on the Old World,” Avalon Waterways says the new route will provide guests with “the grandest views in cruising and whim-powered itineraries to Southwestern Europe.” 

Avalon's new river cruise roundtrip from Porto brings guests into the heart of hillside vineyards and historic villages in this famous wine region all the way to the glorious sandstone architecture of Salamanca, Spain, just across the border.  

From medieval castles to cinematic scenery – plus all the vinho, fresh-baked rustic bread, locally grown olives and locally-produced cheese your soul desires – a Douro River cruise earns an entry on your European river cruising bucket list. 

Plus, Avalon Waterways has three styles of shore excursions that allow you to customize your Portuguese river cruise. In addition to ‘Classic’ tours, guests can choose from ‘Active’ and ‘Discovery’ tours that give you new perspectives on destinations, plus a chance to break a light sweat and even get your hands a bit dirty! The river cruise line says ‘Active’ and ‘Discovery’ tours on its new Douro River itinerary will include things like rock art or baking traditional ‘florinhas’ pastries, painting iconic Portuguese tiles, to riding bikes from Porto to the sea. 

Of course, all guests will enjoy visiting farms and vineyards, wine- and food-tastings, scenic sailings and historic city exploration, with overnights in some towns along the way.

A Ship Named 'Happiness'

Douro River dimensions require customized vessels, and Avalon’s purpose-built ship for its Portugal river cruises is the Avalon Alegria, debuting in 2024. 

The Alegria – which means ‘happiness’ in Portuguese – will accommodate just a hundred guests on two decks, so you’ll be able to get to know and have shared experiences with the small group of people on your Portuguese river journey. 


Like other Avalon Waterways ships, the Alegria will orient beds to face the windows, so you can open your floor-to-ceiling sliding windows and your whole room becomes an ‘open-air balcony’ facing the views sailing along the Douro. 
Guests will also enjoy a pool on the Sky Deck to bask in the warm Portuguese sun and take in the scenery during daytime sailings from a new, poolside perspective.

Start your Douro River Cruise Trip!


Top Image: Getty
Bottom Image: Avalon Waterways

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The Safest Countries for Solo Women Travelers - Plus Other Top Tips
Never before have more women been traveling solo! Singletons of all ages and stages in life: never-been-married, divorced, widowed… all kinds of women are deciding not to wait to be paired up or until a friend can be a travel companion to embark on dream journeys.

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

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

1. Is it safe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Is it more expensive?

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

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

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


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

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

3. Is it worth it?

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

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

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

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

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

Start your Solo Trip!

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

 Courtesy: Adventure Cycling Association - Rachel Stevens

1. Cycling Across America:


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

Ozark Mountain Biking - Courtesy Escape Adventures 

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

Courtesy of Adventure Life - Anna Zlotnicki 

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


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

Courtesy of Fireside Resort in Jackson Hole

3. Exploring America’s National Parks: 


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

4. Cycling Through History and Culture in Europe:


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

Courtesy of Sacha Lodge, Located in the Amazon

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


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

Start your Adventure Trip!

 

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

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

Big Ships

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

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

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

Small Ships

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

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

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

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

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

Mid-Sized Ships

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

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

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

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

Start Your Cruise Trip!


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

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

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

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

 

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

 
 
Images courtesy of Tourism New Zealand
Top image credit bennyjain
Muriwai Beach credit Chris McLennan
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7 Festivals and Events that Make Hawaii Irresistible This Fall
You may think of Hawaii as a Pacific paradise. But there’s so much more than mind-boggling sunsets over endless beaches, tropical breezes and scents, hula and ukeleles, surfing and luaus, poke and shave ice.

The fall months bring some of Hawaii’s most beloved events and festivals that add new focus and memories to a trip to the islands, as well as opportunities to “malama Hawaii,” helping work to protect the islands for residents and visitors alike. As if you needed any excuse, here are seven reasons to book a trip to Hawaii this fall.

MALAMA (GIVING BACK) HAWAII

Island of Hawaii: Get hands-on in conserving the Waikoloa Dry Forest habitat. Hawaii Forest & Trail has launched a new voluntourism program for visitors, the Maunakea Summit and Stars Giveback Experience. On an interpretive walk, guests help collect native seeds to be used for future plantings restoring native forests. Your giving back hike ends with a sunset dinner at the summit of Maunakea volcano and private telescope stargazing led by interpretive guides.

Oahu: Another new program sees a partnership between Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach and Genki Ala Wai Project, a nonprofit organization deploying tennis ball sized mud “genki balls” into Waikīkī’s Ala Wai Canal to assist in removing sludge, debris and other pollutants. Each night’s stay at the luxury property on its Malama Hawaii package sees the hotel making a cash donation to the project, which helps preserve and restore the water ecosystem of the hotel’s neighbourhood. In addition, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikīkī Beach is also matching the package’s guests’ donation with a $10 donation of their own.

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

Oahu: Aloha Festivals - September 10-24, 2022
A showcase of Hawaiian music, dance, history and the culture’s contributions to Hawai‘I, the Aloha Festivals preserve the unique traditions of the Islands’ Hawaiian culture.

Events are scheduled throughout September and include a floral parade, pageantry, and ho‘olauleʻa (festival) in Waikīkī, hula performances, and family-friendly activities.

 
Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival - October 14-15, 2022
Those in the know savor Hawaii’s home-grown coffee, and this annual culinary festival, held in the historic westside town, Hanapēpē, celebrates both Kauai-grown chocolate and coffee. You’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of chances for sampling!

In addition, festival attendees will find educational displays, a silent auction, children’s activities, workshops, live entertainment and exhibitor booths featuring a variety of chocolate and coffee products.
 
Oahu: Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival - October 15, 2022
Hawaii’s largest LGBTQ+ community event is a daylong celebration highlighted by the Honolulu Pride Parade – winding through Waikīkī from Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park to Kapiolani Park.

In addition to the parade, the Honolulu Pride Festival features live music, inspirational speeches and fun activities. For more information, visit
 
Kauai: Po‘ipū Food and Wine - October 19-22, 2022
Another culinary festival on Kauai, this one highlights the island’s local ingredients and chefs. The Po‘ipū Night Market is a block party featuring small-plate dishes and wine pairings alongside food demonstrations.

Guests have the option to purchase tickets for one, two or all three days, and real foodies may want to time their trip to double up their tastings at the Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival that wraps up just days earlier.
 
Island of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui: Hawaii Food and Wine Festival - October 20-November 6, 2022
This annual, inter-island festival features a roster of renowned Hawaiian and international chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers.

Taking place on all three islands, the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival showcases the extraordinary diversity of multicultural cuisine and excellent locally grown-and-raised ingredients found across the islands. Dishes feature local produce, seafood and meats.
 
Statewide: Annual Hawaii International Film Festival - November 3-27, 2022
Cinephiles with a love of the tropics have been flocking to the Hawaii International Film Festival for over four decades. The 42nd annual Hawaii International Film Festival once again shares a slate of world-class international films for industry and visitors, alongside industry events all across the state.

Time your trip to Hawaii to enjoy in-theater screenings on Oahu between November 3-13 and on Island of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai between November 17-20.
 
Whether your interests run from food to film, ecology to diversity, your trip to Hawaii this fall can be even more memorable through festival events and the opportunity to meet Hawaiians keen to share their local lifestyle and passion for enriching the islands.
 

Start Your Hawaii Trip!

 
Images courtesy 
 
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That's a 'First:' Norwegian Prima's Christening by Katy Perry Launches a Whole New Class of Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line has made a habit of inviting global musical superstars to act as new ship godmothers. In the case of the first of Norwegian’s Prima Class ships, pop icon Katy Perry did the honors of welcoming the Norwegian Prima into service, releasing a bottle of champagne to be broken across the Prima’s bow. 

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

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


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

Prima Means “First”

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


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


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


Inaugural Season

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

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

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

Start your Cruise Trip!



Images courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Start your Saint Lucia Trip!

 
Images courtesy of Saint Lucia Tourism Authority

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

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

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

“Behind the Design”

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

 

Behind the Design: Marseille, France

La Villa Mediterranée & MUCEM

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

Behind the Design: Copenhagen, Denmark

Royal Library & Blue Planet

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

Behind the Design: Oslo, Norway

Equinor & Munchmuseet

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

  

Eco-Connect: Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux Wines and Sustainability

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

 (Image courtesy Visit Costa Rica)

Eco-Connect: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

A Sloth Paradise – Give Back to Nature

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

Eco-Connect: Hue, Vietnam

Bach Ma National Park Eco-System

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

Start Your Cruise Trip!



Top image provided by Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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

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

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

De Küst: Coastal Scenics and Tasty Crab

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

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

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

Spa Cycling Route: Alpine Wellness

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

100 Castles and Palaces: A Romance of History Route


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

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

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

 (Image courtesy German National Tourism Board; Julia Nimke)


Berlin Wall Trail: Meeting Modern History

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

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

 

Start Your Cycling Trip!

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

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

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

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

Start your Island Trip!


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

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

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

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

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

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

(Above and top images: Visit Anguilla)

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

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


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

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

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


(Image: Belmond Cap Juluca)

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

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

(Image: Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla)

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

Start Your Island Trip!




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5 Smart Selfie-Taking Tips
Smart selfie-taking isn’t about how to use your camera, or how to compose a nice shot that doesn’t make your nose look huge.

Professional journalists and experienced photographers and camera operators learn safety and ethical guidelines for their work. And those same best practices should be used by everyone taking photos and videos on their trips close to home and around the world.

As a professional journalist, and trained, experienced content creator, here are my top selfie-taking tips to keep you out of trouble and coloring inside ethical lines:

Look Before you Leap

 
All too often, we hear of tragedies happening as a result of people taking selfies. It’s very easy to literally lose sight of the world around you when you are focused on a screen.
 
Make a habit of practicing ‘situational awareness.’ Don't get so caught up in that perfect shot that you step into a busy street without looking for traffic. Or back up off a cliff.
 
If you’re traveling in a group, assign one person the task of ‘spotter’ when you start to take a snap. That person makes sure that everyone is in safe surroundings.
 

Stay on the Right Side of Mother Nature

 
In encounters of man vs. nature, nature always wins.
 
Even recently, we’ve heard of tourists being injured getting too close to the noxious fumes and danger of a volcanic lava flow in Iceland. And of tourists in national parks gored by buffalo or mauled by bears when they – insanely – approach the wild creatures for a photo opp!
 
Respect the forces of nature and always give wildlife its space, for its sake and for yours.
 

Obey the Law

 
That should go without saying – but it’s also true that different countries have different laws. In some places, for example, it’s prohibited to take photos at airports, especially if they also have military applications.
 
Know before you go, watch for signage, heed the advice of your local guide if you have one, and obviously follow any instructions issued by any authority to avoid having a happy-snap become a legal mess.
 

Respect Property Rights

 
You would be shocked and appalled if someone walked into your backyard and started taking photos of your flower garden or family barbecue, wouldn’t you? It’s surprising how many visitors overlook other people’s property rights when they’re traveling.
 
We hear of farmers’ crops being trampled by herds of selfie-seekers invading fields: sunflowers, tulips in the Netherlands, you name it.
 
I once had to explain to someone that no, we couldn’t just go into an orchard in the south of France so they could get a photo of themselves picking and eating fruit off the tree. They were shocked when I said, “That would be trespassing. And stealing.” See tip above: Obey the Law.
 
That applies to any private space. Even if it’s the best vantage point for a shot of the city lit up at night, or your cruise ship picturesquely docked. Just do not enter private land or buildings without permission, even if there’s no barricade keeping you out.
 

Respect Privacy and Culture

 
That wizened up old lady in the market in front of her fish stand may be your idea of the perfect photo or backdrop for your selfie – but she may not appreciate her appearance and her way of life being a ‘cute’ photo for you. To her, such a shot may have unpleasant overtones of race, foreigners’ wealth privilege, or ageism.
 
Your best rule of thumb is to ask permission, using gestures and smiles if there is a language barrier. And respect their wishes.
 
That’s doubly true when it comes to kids, especially in this day and age when it’s potentially dangerous to even inadvertently reveal children’s locations in your social media in case there are domestic and custody issues. The best rule of thumb is to avoid photos of children, even in the background of your selfie.
 
Also bear in mind that there are cultures where photo-taking of people is taboo, or where local residents may find your snapping photos or recording video during a cultural or religious ceremony offensive. That includes places like churches in Europe. As above – know before you go.
 
Selfies should always be of joyous memories and cherished experiences on your travels – and as they say, the first priority is that they do no harm.
 

Start your Trip!



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Lions and Tigers and Leopards in the Woods: 5 Destinations for Viewing Big Cats
Calling all cat people! In celebration of International Cat Day, we called on a global wild cat conservation organization to share where in the world we can get the best views of our favorite felines in their natural environment. And at the same time, support communities to rebuild the eco-tourism that supports big cats’ preservation in the destinations people and wild cats share.

Panthera has shared a list of five destinations worldwide where eco-tourists are almost guaranteed to encounter jaguars, leopards, pumas, tigers, and other big cats in the wild -- while helping both the animals and local residents alike bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

The wild cat conservation organization has achieved conservation success in wild cat territory around the world by recognizing that one of best ways to protect wild species is to help local communities benefit from them.

The plus for visitors is that, as big cats stop seeing humans as a threat, not only do wild cat / human conflicts drop and humans become vested in protecting wild cat habitat. Less fearful of humans, big cats become more visible in the wild, giving visitors better experiences – and so on, and so on… in a win-win-win cycle for the cats, their neighbor humans, and visitors like you. 

Here are five of Panthera’s biggest success stories, where you can marvel at how, no matter how supersized wild cats are, they remind us so much of our feline friends at home.

Ask your expert travel advisor about planning a trip to see in person one of these iconic wild cats in their natural environment.   
 

Jaguars in Brazil

Panthera’s Pantanal Jaguar Project in Brazil (pictured, top) is a shining model for big cat conservation, demonstrating how scientists can mitigate conflict between humans and wild predators by implementing eco-tourism, livestock vaccinations, and other initiatives benefiting local communities.

The world’s largest tropical wetland, the Pantanal is home to the highest concentration of jaguars on earth, and visitors might catch sight of the big cats swimming the Cuiaba river, hunting prey, or even venturing out with cubs.
 

Jaguars in Colombia

Modeled after their community-based approach in the Pantanal, Panthera’s work in Colombia’s Llanos, a vast tropical grassland plain east of the Andes, is on track to replicate its success. The organization has a two-pronged approach -- helping ranchers protect livestock from jaguars without killing them, and training locals to be jaguar tour guides.
As a result, visitors are twenty times more likely to see a jaguar now than in 2016, and tourism has doubled in a region still recovering from Colombia’s troubled cartel and political past. 



Like the Pantanal, the Llanos are part of Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative, an ambitious conservation program that seeks to preserve the genetic integrity of jaguars by protecting them across their entire six million square kilometer range from Mexico to Argentina.
 

Pumas in Patagonia

Nicknamed “the end of the world,” Patagonia -- the southern parts of Chile and Argentina -- offers an opportunity to see pumas against a backdrop of granite spires, sweeping vistas, glaciers, and pampas. Ecotourism is relatively new to the region, where pumas and ranchers have long been in conflict.


Over the last few years, Panthera’s Puma Program has been working with tourist ranches to create an ethical standard for puma tourism. The relationship is mutually beneficial: in return for allowing Panthera to set the many camera traps needed to monitor puma populations, Panthera shares data that helps landowners plan puma-sighting tours.
 

Leopards in South Africa

Sabi Sands Game Reserve boasts the highest concentration of big game in South Africa and also one of the most habituated, meaning tourists enjoy frequent and close wildlife encounters. Famous for its amazing leopard sightings, the reserve is helping Panthera with one of the most comprehensive long-term leopard studies ever undertaken.

Working with guides from the reserve’s photo-tourism lodges, the Sabi Sands Leopard Project has monitored more than 600 leopards over the last 35 years -- a unique dataset that provides important insight into the lives of leopards, as well as an essential baseline that can inform future conservation strategies.
 

Tigers in India

Located in northern India, Ranthambore National Park is reputed to have the least shy tigers in the nation; in fact, Panthera doesn’t run a conservation program within the park because its thriving wild tiger population doesn’t require an intervention.


But a Panthera Partner Wildlife Photographer who lives and works in India can testify that it’s one of the best places in the world to photograph tigers. In one trip a visitor can capture the animals against a surprisingly diverse range backdrops, from mountains to lakes to grassy plains. 
 

Start your Eco-Trip!


Photos courtesy of Panthera.
 
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Responsible Tourism Inspiration for Indigenous People's Day
As we return to travel, many of us are looking for trips with meaning. For more and more people, that includes getting a sense of the connection first peoples have with the earth and their traditional cultures, and showing support for indigenous people around the world.

To mark the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, one guided vacation company revealed how it’s supporting indigenous people through travel.

As The Travel Corporation says, travel done right goes hand in hand with the cultural and economic empowerment of communities.

The Travel Corporation’s tour companies, as well as its philanthropic arm, the TreadRight Foundation, work to support Indigenous-owned business and non-profits. Their goal is two-fold: to lift the voices of the Indigenous community, and also to provide travelers with a full and authentic experience.

Here are some of the Indigenous tourism experiences at the forefront of tourism in their communities.

USA: Tap into Lakota Culture on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation

Global guided vacation company Trafalgar brings travelers on a unique visit to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation. You’ll get to meet with the Lakota Youth Development, a program that aims to connect youths in the tribe with their native culture and lifestyle.
 
On its tour called “National Parks & Native Trails of the Dakotas,” guests enjoy a traditional Lakota meal with a host from the reservation for a Be My Guest experience. You learn about and taste the ingredients from their native land that Lakota ancestors have lived on for thousands of years.
 
Following the meal, travelers embark on an Indigenous plant walk to learn more about the medicinal and ceremonial properties of wild edibles and the longstanding idea that every plant has a purpose.
 

Western Canada: Meet the Warrior Women of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation

Contiki is a social tour company for 18–35-year-olds, and wants to give young travelers a variety of perspectives on Indigenous culture through the voices of the Warrior Women of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.
 
On its tour called “Canada and the Rockies,” travelers are invited to a fireside chat on traditional First Nation land that is now part of Jasper National Park (pictured above). There, a Warrior Women member shares details of her culture, experience as a musician and time spent teaching the traditional craft of making of drums, leather binding, moccasin and traditional mitten making and more.
 
She also teaches travelers about the local flora as they relate to the Indigenous people that call the land home.
 

Eastern Canada: Learn the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Abegweit Mi’Kmaw Nation

For the first time, the Abegweit Mi’Kmaw Nation has partnered with a tour operator, premium tour company, Insight Vacations. Their collaboration showcases the longstanding ceremonies of a Canadian tribe on Prince Edward Island.
 
On a tour entitled “Landscapes of the Canadian Maritimes,” travelers visit the Abegweit Mi’Kmaw Nation, a small First Nation dating back 10,000 years according to their oral tradition. During the visit, guests experience an authentic smudging ceremony, honor song and dance, and also learn about the Seven Sacred teachings.

 

Australia: Take an Aboriginal Walking Tour

On luxury tour company, Luxury Gold’s “Inspiring Australia” itinerary, travelers take an aboriginal walking tour through a historical neighborhood, The Rocks in Sydney (pictured), to learn The Dreamtime, the important features of Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and existence.
 
Your expert travel advisor can help you plan a trip to connect you with one of the world’s indigenous cultures, while supporting their community to preserve their traditions and natural, ancestral environments.
 

Start Your Indigenous Tourism Trip!

 
Images courtesy of The Travel Corporation.

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Dare You! Where to Eat the World's Most Dangerous Fish
Prepared incorrectly, it’s 1200 times more toxic than cyanide! Yet this fish has been a treasured delicacy for nearly three thousand years - and foodies with a daredevil streak make sure to include it on their list of dishes they must try on a visit to Japan.

Fugu is Japanese for various species of pufferfish or blowfish, as well as dishes prepared from these fish.
Their English names reflect their ability to inflate into the shape of a ball up to three times their original size, with huge amounts of water and sometimes air - all to ward off predators. Some are spiny and have been nicknamed porcupine fish, too.

Neither spines nor shape-shifting deterred ancient Japanese, who managed to add fugu to the menu. After who knows how much fatal trial and error.

That’s because almost all blowfish contain a toxin that makes them bad tasting and often lethal to fellow fish predators. It’s absolutely deadly to humans – even more poisonous than cyanide! There’s apparently enough poison in one blowfish to kill 30 people. And there are no known antidotes.

Sounds like a plot from a mystery novel rather than a food story, doesn’t it? And for many, the opposite of a culinary temptation. 

And yet…

If properly prepared by removing the toxic parts and avoiding contaminating the meat, it’s safe to eat. Today, only specially-licensed chefs who have trained specifically for fugu for three years or more are permitted to prepare the delicacy.


Despite – or perhaps because of! – the risk, fugu is one of the most celebrated, celebratory dishes in Japan, served in paper-thin raw slices as sashimi, or in nabemono (hot pot). As you can imagine, it’s pretty pricey, too.

This is one dish you want to go straight to the source and dine at the places with the very best reputation.

The “Blowfish Capital of Japan”

You can get fugu at restaurants in major cities throughout Japan. But for the ultimate experience of cuisine with a shot of adrenaline on the side, head to the “Blowfish Capital of Japan.”

The city of Shimonoseki is in the stunning southern region of Japan’s main inland, on Japan’s rich Inland Sea. It’s an historic fishing community, and even today, 80% of Japan’s fugu comes from Shimonoseki.

Fugu – and fugu experts – abound. At the Karato Market, you can find a fabulous variety of options and even a stall that sells a special ‘bento’ – a colorful boxed meal that says “good luck!” Or settle in at a table at a local fugu restaurant that offers a more formal fugu experience – that also gives you great photo opps. 
 
One is Heike Chaya- family run for nearly half a century, this restaurant’s menu has a range of creatively prepared blowfish dishes created by highly qualified chefs. The centrepiece here is fugu hot pot.

Toast and wash it down with some of the famous local sake and celebrate life on the edge!

Start your Culinary Trip!



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Ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn has debuted its first expedition ship, Seabourn Venture. The newest ship in the Seabourn fleet set sail on its inaugural voyage from Tromsø, Norway, on the 27th ofJuly, bound for the Arctic and the Svalbard Archipelago with its complement of about 250 guests.

Outfitted for Adventure

Seabourn Venture was purpose-built for exploration and appointed with features and amenities to enrich and enlighten guests on board, on shore, and even beneath the waves.

Seabourn Venture is a ‘Polar Class’ PC6 ship with modern hardware and technology that qualify it to the highest ‘ice class’ level for a passenger ship.

The ship is equipped with kayaks and enough Zodiacs to transport every guest on expeditions and landings all at once, as well as two custom-built submarines, each with capacity for six and capability of exploring shipwrecks and natural wonders under the sea in luxurious comfort.

In addition to the ship’s regular navigational and hospitality crew, Seabourn Venture has a 26-member Expedition Team, made up of highly regarded wilderness experts, scientists, historians and naturalists. These experts provide guests with in-depth insights into the history, ecology and culture of the places they visit.

Designed for Luxury Exploration

Seabourn’s longtime, renowned hospitality design partner, Adam D.Tihany and Tihany Design, created the ultra-luxurious setting that allows you to feel like you’re in the lap of luxury – and still part of the dramatic sea- and landscapes you’re exploring.

The cruise line’s vision for Seabourn Venture was for the interiors and exteriors to combine “authenticity at sea with modern romanticism.”


Like all ships in the Seabourn fleet, Seabourn Venture’s 132 guest accommodations are all oceanfront suites. Public spaces were designed to evoke the spirit of adventure, and the thrill of discovery balanced with Seabourn-style luxury and comfort. Picture yourself in:

·      the Expedition Lounge on Deck 4 (below) or its adjacent Discovery Center, spacious for all guests to gather in a classroom-like setting and enjoy natural history and cultural programming;
·      the Bow Lounge, a prime setting for watching marine life with the closest access to the water on the ship;
·      the Constellation Lounge on the top deck, with stunning, 270-degree views and an intimate interior dressed up in dark blue and red inspired by constellations in the night sky, as well as
·      unique versions of beloved spaces found on all Seabourn ships, like Seabourn Square and restaurants.



Inaugural Season: Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica, Amazon and more

Seabourn Venture begins its inaugural season exploring the Arctic, Greenland and Iceland, and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in Nunavut, the most remote and least-populated destinations explored during Seabourn Venture’s Arctic season. Destination highlights include Scoresby Sound, Greenland, home to the largest and longest fjord system in the world; Sermilik Fjord, located in southeastern Greenland and renowned for the many icebergs that flow from multiple glaciers at its head into the Denmark Strait; Svalbard; and Pond Inlet, Nunavut, the eastern entry to the Northwest Passage.

The ship will make its way south in October 2022, stopping at various locales in the Caribbean, Central America, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. There will be opportunities to explore in Zodiacs under cliffs teeming with birds, kayak among tropical coral islands, visit ancient Incan sites, and snorkel unspoiled Caribbean coral gardens, as well as a transit of the magnificent Panama Canal.

Between November 2022 and February 2023, Seabourn Venture will cruise scenic sounds, fjords, channels and glaciers in Chile, sailing to Antarctica, and crossing back to explore South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, with up-close encounters with untamed wilderness and wildlife including icebergs, penguin colonies, and seals, as well as visits to research stations that have footholds on the continent. The voyages will include multiple daily operations using the Zodiacs for landings and cruising along the Antarctic Peninsula. Optional excursions will also be available, such as kayaking and the ship’s submarines, allowing guests to explore the vast frontier below sea level.

In March and April 2023, Seabourn Venture will embark on a series of expedition voyages in Brazil and the Amazon. The ship will visit many colorful colonial cities on the coast of Brazil and sail into the heart of South America through one of the world’s greatest rivers, where guests can cruise in Zodiacs along the Amazon River and visit ancient sites and indigenous villages.

Start Your Expedition Cruise Trip!

 
Images courtesy of Seabourn.
 
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Looking for inspiration for your next holiday close to home? These new hotel openings are the perfect excuse for a short haul vacation in an all-new environment.


From sophisticated urban centers to the Great Outdoors, from beaches to deserts, mountains to cityscapes, these diverse hotels give you the perfect excuse to call your travel advisor to plan a getaway soon!


Massachussets

 
Life House, Lenox, Berkshires, features a cozy library lounge with a crackling fireplace, an outdoor firepit, intimate cocktail club and a restaurant offering locally-sourced bites. The design and aesthetic of this property pays tribute to the nearby Berkshire mountains and historical literary figures that traveled through Lenox, Massachusetts – including Herman Melville and Fanny Kemble. Get away to the country during the summer heat, or bask in autumn colors in this new property in the Berkshires.
 

Montreal


 
Hyatt Place Downtown Montreal provides visitors a new home away from home to experience the cosmopolitan city famous as a global fashion center, alluring culinary scene, and a packed schedule of world-class events, from jazz to comedy to a Grand Prix race and more. The city's first Hyatt Place hotel is located near the Village, one of Montreal's most diverse and colorful neighborhoods, near the Quartier des Spectacles, the city’s festival central. The hotel’s 350 guestrooms have separate spaces to sleep, work and play, as well as a 'Cozy Corner' sofa-sleeper, and guests can enjoy an indoor pool and sauna, with a view of Downtown Montreal, spaces to facilitate remote working with views of over the city, as well as a bistro, restaurant, bar and lounge serving sharing dishes and signature cocktails.
 

New York State

 
Mt. Tremper, NY: Inspired by the influence of ancient Rome on contemporary civilization, The Aurum Catskills New York re-envisions “the bathing culture and rituals that defined the first social clubs.” With 36 rooms and 12 mountain bungalows on 131 acres, the luxury retreat features a Sicilian farm-to-table restaurant, incredible views and private gardens.
 

NYC

 
Luxury hotel brand Aman is expanding its global reach with the unveiling this summer of a new urban sanctuary – and rebirth of an architectural icon within the historic Crown Building – with Aman New York. The hotel offers guests Aman’s signature serenity through 83 rooms and suites, two restaurants, a wine library, jazz club, garden terrace, rooftop outdoor pool with an incredible view, and a 25,000 square foot spa.


For guests wanting to extend their stay permanently, Aman New York features the first Aman-branded urban Residences. The 22 private homes include all hotel amenities and range in size from one to six bedrooms, including a five-story penthouse.
 
The Ritz-Carlton's newest property, The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad, soars 50 stories above the dynamic North of Madison Square Park neighborhood. The newly constructed, hotel with 250 guest rooms, 19 suites, plus residences brings the brand's renowned service and elegance to one of the NYC's most vibrant and emerging districts. The hotel is one of the tallest buildings in NoMad, the birthplace of American popular music at Tin Pan Alley and today a nexus of art, entertainment, fashion, and technology.


A bold, contemporary design, with an impressive art collection and seasonal floral installations pays homage to the hotel's location in the city's vibrant Flower District. There’s a 6,800-square-foot signature Ritz-Carlton Spa and Fitness Center, and the hotel's food and beverage partnership is unique, with all culinary venues, bars and lounges and in-room dining helmed by Michelin-starred chef and global citizen José Andrés.
 
The Ned NoMad opens in New York this summer, marking the brand’s first international site. Paying homage to the original architecture of Manhattan’s Johnston Building and featuring interiors from the famed UK private members club SoHo House team, this new location will bring the hotel’s signature British style across the pond.


The Ned NoMad includes a public bar and restaurant, as well as the members-only Ned’s Club, which features both mezzanine and rooftop bars as well as a terrace restaurant.
 

Nashville, Tennessee


 
The 40-storey Four Seasons Hotel Nashville, opening this year in Music City, connects guests to the creative spirit of the city’s makers and artisans. Situated just one block from the entertainment hub of Broadway in Nashville's SoBro district, the new Four Seasons hotel will feature 235 guest rooms and suites as well as private residences, a new chef-driven dining concept, a full-service spa and resort-style pool deck, event spaces, and more. Its glass tower allows for sunlight to stream in from all sides, with panoramic city and river views in every direction. Light-filled interiors pay homage to Tennessee's iron industry heritage, while making use of steel, copper, bronze and the state's native black walnut, with an art collection featuring local and international contemporary works. Four Seasons Hotel Nashville will also introduce a new dining concept, a resort-style experience for guests with a rooftop pool deck; unveil a new spa; and host weddings, galas and more in its event spaces.
 

Fredericksburg, Texas


 
The Albert Hotel, built as a celebration of Texas Hill Country and noted Fredericksburg architect Albert Keidel, will open this year on the original site of the Keidel family pharmacy and homestead. The hotel will have 110 guest rooms, including bunkrooms, suites, and a private house, each with tailored amenities and custom-designed furniture. The property has three restaurants, two bars, a private dining room, and will offer in-room dining. The grounds include an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a 2,000 square-foot full-service spa.
  

Utah


(Image: Travis Burke)

Set upon 750 acres of high mountain plains, Under Canvas Bryce Canyon offers luxury accommodation with expansive views of John’s Valley.

(Image: Bailey Made - UC Moab interiors for inspiration)

Located just 15 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park, this “glamping” experience invites guests to reconnect to nature with ensuite bathrooms in every tent, king-sized beds with luxe linens, outdoor dining, as well as complimentary camp programming (including yoga, guided hikes, movie nights and outdoor games).
 
Spirit at Zion National Park invites visitors to experience the Utah wilderness and enjoy the surrounding landscape in one of its 40 suites or homesteads. Both Leaf Suites and Homestead Retreats provide separate living and sleeping areas, including a 'wellness studio' that can be used for exercise, meditation, or in-room spa treatments. Each accommodation also comes with electric bikes for exploring the property's 35 miles of trails.
 

Sedona, AZ

 

Billed as an “exclusive nature escape,” Ambiente: A Landscape Hotel aims to provide guests with modern, elegant accommodations in a nature-focused setting. Each of the 40 free-standing atrium suites offers panoramic views of the red rocks, and a private rooftop with a fire pit (pictured above and top). Additional amenities include an in-house wellness-centered spa, on-site trail access and electric vehicles for rent.
 

Santa Barbara, CA

 
This autumn, former stagecoach stop, and Prohibition destination The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern will open to guests with reimagined guestrooms and cottage-style accommodations nestled among acres of old-growth palm trees. Dine at the Inn’s open-air restaurant, or take a dip in the outdoor pool, followed by stories and s’mores gathered around a firepit. Guests will feel right at home with the inn’s laid-back version of wine country luxury.
 

Hawaii


 
Kauai: Considered one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay will bring a world-class wellness resort and flagship sustainable sanctuary to Kauai’s North Shore. 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay will feature 252 rooms, including 51 suites -with native greenery, reclaimed materials, organic cotton linens, and views of the stunning Hanalei Bay. Seven restaurants and bars will offer fresh, local, and sustainably sourced farm-to-table cuisine using ingredients from the hotel’s organic on-site garden and neighboring farms.
 

Start Your Short Haul Trip!


Images courtesy of their respective properties.

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Top Tips to Avoid Baggage Blues
Are you worried about delayed, misplaced and missing baggage on your next trip. Don’t worry! We've got your back
with essential tips to make sure your holiday isn’t ruined by baggage blues.

Producer and host of BestTrip TV, Lynn Elmhirst, explains.
  

Carry On Heroes

 

For many people, their first solution is to not check bags at all. I suppose there are some people making rather short trips with little variation in clothing who can do that, and if you are one of them, I tip my (packed in my carry-on) hat to you!
 
Even if you can’t pack just a carry on bag, make sure that: all your documentation, valuables like jewelry, medication and anything you can’t live without for a day or permanently in your possession at all times. Do yourself a favor and add a couple of pieces of essentials that might include swimwear, some way to make yourself dressier for dinner, and a change of footwear as well as toiletries that can get you through a day of luggage delay.
 

Get Travel Insurance

 
Comprehensive travel insurance – unlike just travel medical insurance – can include compensation if your bags are lost. Some specialist luggage insurance even includes expert trackers who will work on your behalf to recover your luggage and reunite you with it. Your expert travel advisor can help make sure you get the travel insurance coverage you’re looking for.
 

Split your Luggage

 

It’s like hedging your bets. The odds of ALL your luggage being delayed or going missing are pretty small. So if it’s two of you travelling, put half of your belongings in each bag you’re checking. That way, if one bag is delayed, you’ll still both have something in the bag you recover at your destination. It gives you essentials and some breathing room for your remaining piece of luggage to catch up with you.
 

Ship your Luggage

 
If you’re like most of us, you’re using shipping services more than ever before, and it’s never been easier to ship your luggage to meet you at your hotel – or even your cruise ship! In fact, some ultra-luxury cruise lines even offer that service to their guests. There are companies who specialize in exclusively shipping travelers’ baggage. As a bonus, it also makes your airport experience more relaxed as at this point, you are only traveling with your carry on bags.
 

Document, document, document - and make your bag stand out!

 
I had a piece of luggage go missing recently – and in fact, it wasn’t an airline or airport error. It was human error. Someone’s porter had mistakenly picked it up (and the traveler hadn’t been paying attention.) But because I had a label with my name, phone and email on my bag, before I’d even made it to my hotel, she was texting, emailing and calling me to tell me she’d accidentally taken my bag. And she delivered it to my hotel for me. No label – no solution!
 
Make a list of what’s in your bag and the value of the bag itself. If you do need to make a claim, you won’t be second-guessing yourself.
 
Take a photo of your bag. If it does go missing, a photo can be a lot more help than a vague description of a bag that looks like a million other bags that go through the airport.
 
And - PLEASE choose a bag that stands out! Or make your bag stand out from the million of other black suitcases on the carousel.
  

Tag it!

 
Of course you’re going to put a solid, secure, proper label on every piece of your luggage.
 
But some people are going to greater lengths, with Apple Air Tags or other digital solutions inside their checked bags they can track on their smart phones.  The airline might not know where your bag is, but you will.  
 

Arrive Even Earlier for your Cruise

 
Cruise travelers should already know it’s best practice to arrive in your port of embarkation a full day ahead of sailing in case of any flight delays or luggage problems.
 
These days, I’d suggest two days if you can. It’s much easier to be reunited with lost or delayed luggage if you’re still in the same place where your flight landed instead of two ports of call away, and these days, getting lost luggage sorted out can take more than one day.

 

And Finally - Be a Good Fellow Traveller

 
Don't just pack your patience, pack your politeness, too.

It goes without saying that you should check to make sure a bag is yours before you walk away. And be polite to stressed baggage service staff if something goes wrong.
 
But you can go even farther. Someone I know saw a bunch of ‘abandoned’ bags at an airport carousel, and as a good citizen, while she was waiting for her own bag, started texting owners of ‘missing’ bags their bag label and pic of where it was in the airport so they could reclaim it. She got messages back saying she had saved the day for some fellow travelers!
 
Don’t let luggage worries stop you from traveling or get you down. Use these tips to keep the baggage blues away from your next trip.
 

Start Your Trip!

 

New Rules for Tourists in these European Destinations

Blame it on irresponsible influencers or out-of-control bachelor/ette parties. But some of Europe’s most beloved destinations are cracking down on masses of visitors whose actions are changing the local atmosphere – for the worse. 


Authorities in these favorite European destinations are setting new rules for what they see as tourists behaving badly. Don’t be that guy. You’re not that guy… are you?


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Venice’s Tourist Tax

 
Venice has been one of the original poster children for what we now call ‘over-tourism.’ Too many people visiting, pushing locals further and further away from town, and hollowing out the very local culture visitors are seeking. That’s even when they’re well-behaved.
 
While tourist numbers haven’t yet returned to ‘normal,’ the tourist comeback in Venice this year is seeing the return of some tourists displaying disrespectful, unruly behavior – and that’s put city officials over the edge. They’re implementing some never-before seen restrictions on visitors to Italy’s ‘Floating City.’ 

 
Recent months have seen tourists skinny dipping in the city’s UNESCO-preserved canals and vandalizing iconic churches. In May, a portion of the façade of the Redentore church was defaced with pink graffiti. Another church, Sant'Antonin, was graffiti’ed a few days earlier. That same month, two tourists were seen diving naked in the canal within the residential district of Castello. Shocked locals observed them swimming for around five minutes in the water, where nearby houses drain their sewage.
 
Venice talked about restricting visitors even before the pandemic. And now, they will soon begin to implement measures to limit the numbers of visitors. Beginning in January, 2023, day visitors to Venice will have to pay to enter the city. It makes Venice the first city in the world to require an entrance fee.
 
Taking its cues from Uber, the new ticketing system to enter Venice incorporates ‘surge’ pricing, with the fee ranging from 3 to 10 euros based on the current level of demand - the more requests for entry, the higher the cost.

An online portal to buy entry tickets will be unveiled in the fall. Tourists who stay in a hotel in Venice are exempt from the fee as they pay a tourist tax for their accommodations.
 

Sorrento’s Bikini Ban


Another epic Italian destination on the legendary Amalfi Coast (pictured, top) is putting its foot down with some tourists, too. Sorrento’s colorful oceanfront, cliffside buildings, and lemon groves are a favorite with photographers and Instagrammers.

But the destination wants to keep up local standards. It’s instituted a 500 euro fine for women walking around town in a bikini, or men going shirtless – off the beach, calling lack of covering up while in town ‘indecorous’ and contrary to ‘civilized cohabitation.’

Spain’s Beach Town Fines for Peeing in the Sea… and More


As a resurgence of tourism to the Costa del Sol, Ibiza, Malaga, and Mallorca has seen a return of too many tourists behaving badly, Spain is attempting to not just maintain local standards – there’s been a move by some of its most famous coastal and island destinations to clean up their image.
 
One media report says that “Spain's tourist industry is trying to shed its reputation as the party capital of Europe.'
 
That apparently includes peeing in the sea, which comes with fines of hundreds of euro if caught relieving oneself off the pier. Posters around beaches publicizing the new law show a line across a figure of a man urinating off a dock into the water.

(The island of Ibiza)
 
Laws already went into effect in Majorca and Ibiza limiting guests at all-inclusive resorts to 6 drinks a day, which honestly seems like more than enough. Similarly, they’re putting restrictions on the hours alcohol can be sold, banning pub crawls, happy hours and other promotions that emphasize heavy drinking in defiance of the local lifestyle of quiet, relaxed drinks with friends at outdoor cafes.
 
Other new laws also tackle more dangerous and ‘anti-social’ habits. Some are easy to support - and frankly, should go without saying. Shame on any tourist who uses soap in the sea or litters!

And we can also get behind forbidding selfish or dangerous behaviour like BBQ's on the beach, hogging space with a towel, or playing ball or bat games. Some tourism areas are also cracking down on noise levels in ‘tourist’ areas.
 
Other new legal measures are clearly more about keeping it classy. Like Sorrento in Italy, some coastal communities require visitors to cover up. Women wearing bikinis walking around on the streets will be fined, as will men without shirts once they leave the beach.
 
The Costa del Sol is banning ‘obscene’ costumes and props popular for bachelorette parties. And on Mallorca, a new dress code has banned swimwear off the beach as well as “boob tube” strapless tops.
 

So what’s a responsible tourist like me to do? 


Rely on the old saying “When in Rome…” and show your respect for communities who are sharing their destination with you by following their lead when it comes to clothing, manners and overall human decency.

Plus, talk to your expert travel advisor about visiting some of these iconic destinations in ‘shoulder’ season, when there are fewer people visiting. You’ll avoid being part of the overcrowding problem, and you’ll likely find a warmer welcome from the locals, too.

Start Your European Trip!

 
 
 













Epic New Routes Add 650 Miles for Cyclists to Explore the USA
New bicycle routes across the U.S. have added 650 miles of possibilities for people who love to see the world on two wheels.

The Adventure Cycling Association, the largest cycling membership organization in North America, has revealed three new cycling routes along historic Route 66 in Oklahoma, through Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes, and along the Delaware River. The new routes in Oklahoma and Delaware are the first U.S. Bicycle Routes in those states, while the new route in Minnesota is its fourth.
 
The new additions and other realignments add more than 650 miles to the official U.S. Bicycle Route System, improve route connectivity, and the possibilities for cycling adventures.
 
The U.S. Bicycle Route System now has an incredible 18,534 miles of routes in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
It’s a developing national network of officially designated, numbered, and signed routes that use existing roads, trails, and other facilities for bike travel. The U.S. Bicycle Route (USBR) System is planned to grow to 50,000 miles of routes and open new opportunities for cross-country travel, regional touring for visitors, and also commuting by bike for locals. It benefits local communities by providing new routes, enhancing cycling safety, and increasing tourism.
 
Here’s what’s new:
 

Oklahoma

 
USBR 66 is 429 miles long, and boasts the most rideable miles of Historic Route 66, America’s “Mother Road.”
 
USBR 66 crosses Oklahoma from the Kansas border in its northeast corner to the Texas Panhandle on the west. Following Historic Route 66, it travels through Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and passes landmarks like the world’s largest concrete totem pole near Chelsea, the Round Barn in Arcadia, the historic Bridgeport Bridge from “The Grapes of Wrath,” and Lucille’s Service Station in Weatherford along the way.

Along USBR 66 in Oklahoma - Beth Pickard
 

Minnesota

 
USBR 20 is 188 miles long, and offers miles of off-road riding past several of the state’s 10,000 lakes.
 
From the west bank of the Mississippi River in St. Cloud, USBR 20 travels northwest, joining the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail to Osakis, then the Central Lakes State Trail to Fergus Falls, passing numerous towns and several of the state’s 10,000 lakes along the way. The route leaves Fergus Falls on a section of the North Country Trail and continues to Maplewood State Park before merging with the Heart of the Lakes Trail. After Pelican Rapids, it reaches Moorhead, the Red River and the North Dakota border on roads and trails.
 

Delaware

 
USBR 201 is 37 miles long and takes in historic sites and Delaware River views.
 
The new USBR 201 begins at the Pennsylvania border and parallels the Delaware River, joining the Northern Delaware Greenway and linking Bellevue State Park to Brandywine Park as it enters Wilmington. After crossing the center of the city, it follows the Jack A. Markell Trail to historic New Castle and, again, the Delaware River, where there are views of waterfowl, ships, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Turning west, the route continues through Newark neighborhoods and past the University of Delaware campus to its end at the Maryland border.
 
Your expert travel advisor can help you plan a cycling trip in the U.S. or many other countries around the world, with ground support, outstanding accommodations to comfort your hardworking body, and dining that fuels your trip and celebrates the locations you’re admiring on your two-wheeled journey.
 

Start Your Cycling Trip!

 
Images courtesy of the Adventure Cycling Association.
Top image: Along USBR 20 in Minnesota - Kvidt Creative-Explore Alexandria Tourism

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This Island's 'Crop Over' is the Hottest Harvest Festival of the Summer
Move over pumpkin patch. Step away from the apple bobbing booth. Harvest festivals aren’t limited to rural and small town traditions of northern climes memorialized in Norman Rockwell artwork.

Almost every culture in the world with agricultural roots has some kind of harvest festival – and Barbados' ‘Crop Over’ heats up summer with a distinctly ‘islands’ way of celebrating its traditional conclusion of the sugar cane harvest.

While the agricultural tradition dates back to sugar plantations in Barbados (and several other Caribbean islands that cultivated sugar) in the 1600’s, today’s Crop Over in Barbados is a Bajan culture, arts and entertainment extravaganza.
In 2022, Crop Over returns to Barbados after a two-year pandemic hiatus.
 
Not to be confused with one of the region’s Carnivals, Crop Over is a purely summer event. Events build up over a couple of months, leading up to a crescendo at the end of July, to the final event, the Grand Kadooment, in early August. 
 
The Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Reeds’ opens Crop Over and is one of the clearest links to the festival’s heritage as the celebration of the sugar harvest, accompanied by live music and entertainment.
 
Crop Over is known for “Calypso Tents” which are community halls and spaces for not only music by local Bajan performers like the iconic Red Plastic Bag, but also for other Crop Over community events. Calypso performers vie for the prestigious title of ‘Pic-O-De-Crop.’
 
The other most important musical genre has its own contest and title. Soca Monarch competitions crown adults and children soca musicians, and soca music’s place in Crop Over is enshrined in performances by locals like Alison Hinds.
 
Fetes is a word adopted from French for party, and imaginative, themed parties run throughout the weeks of Crop Over – some at any hour of the day! 
 
Sports fans can get involved in one of the most popular and iconic sports of the region, cricket, and markets and street fairs serve up gastronomic delights.
 

 
And don’t forget the parade! The climax of Crop Over is the national holiday of Grand Kadooment. Costumed bands parade through streets filled with incredible energy, often with international celebrities joining in the fun. Even home-grown celebrity hero Rihanna, or 'Ri Ri to us,' newly-dubbed world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, has been known to make an appearance! Or an entrance!
 
Revellers make their way through the streets of Bridgetown throughout the evening and into the night, where the culmination of Crop Over is marked by fireworks against the backdrop of the beach and thousands of echoes of the traditional greeting: 'Crop Over it sweet fuh days!'
 
Beyond the party atmosphere, what makes Barbados’ Crop Over truly unique is the series of events that make the celebrations a stage for local artisans and performers, including this year’s:
●     Arts and Artisan Pop-Ups in different locations
●     Folk Concert on the Day of National Significance (July 26); and the
●     Foreday Morning Jam (July 30) 
 
And while the island nation preserves its local, multicultural traditions and introduces new experiences, it also keeps Crop Over very up to the minute. In 2022, the Barbados National Cultural Foundation created a new Crop Over Instagram filter for the celebrations.
 
Crop Over is a sizzling harvest festival, island-style – one you can still make plans to attend!

Start Your Island Trip!

 

Images courtesy of visitbarbados.org/

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A Wine River Cruise that's Close to Home
One of the top reasons many travellers take a European river cruise is for the wine. The banks of many of Europe’s rivers provide the perfect combination of drainage and sun exposure for the cultivation of vines that produce some very famous wines.

But one of the best wine river cruises in the world doesn’t require a long haul flight.

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer and Host of BestTrip TV, explains.


The Pacific Northwest’s increasingly-acclaimed wine regions have a river flowing through them. Oregon and Washington states meet at the Columbia River as it flows westward towards the Pacific Ocean.

Our week-long UnCruise Adventure on the Columbia River tapped into some epic themes and gave us experiences that rival any river cruise in Europe – or the world:

·     We sailed in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark’s historic expedition to the Pacific through the Northwest, on a vintage vessel that’s designed to evoke the American frontier era of exploration; 

·     Our cruise gave us front row seats to take in the spectacular scenery of the Columbia River Gorge and its awe-inspiring transition from temperate rainforest to desert-like landscapes and dramatic cliffs; and

·     And it brought us into towns and communities along the way that have staked a claim to fame as world-class wine and culinary destinations.

Although most UnCruise Adventures emphasize soft adventure experiences like kayaking and other water sports off the ship, and zodiak landings in remote locations for hiking and land exploration, our Rivers of Wine cruise highlighted the region’s exquisite wine and cuisine.

And for good reason.


River of Wine

On both sides of the Columbia river, in both Oregon and Washingtonstates, a critical mass of viticulture is gaining world-wide recognition. 

Oregon has now become one of America’s largest wine producing states, with hundreds of wineries growing dozens of varietals, but mainly in small-batch wineries producing artisan wines from Riesling to Viogniers, Pinot noir to Syrah, with sparkling, rose, and dessert wines that tempted our palates.


On the other side of the river, Washington state is also now one of the top wine producers in the country. While it's a relative newcomer to America’s wine scene, wine has an illustrious pedigree in the state, dating back to 1825 when the Hudson's Bay Company planted the area's first wine grapes at Fort Vancouver.
 
Today’s Washington state viticulture community is growing fast, drawing wine-makers from Europe and New World wine regions to the state's unique terroir and conditions for producing premium white and red wines. Washington's young and internationally-influenced wine culture exhibits some of the latest trends in wine-making that visiting oenophiles – like us! love. Hand-crafting, sustainability, organic and biodynamic wines make visits to this Pacific North West wine region a must for any wine-lover.


 
I can’t think of a more geographically diverse wine river! We visited wineries with the Cascade Mountains’ dramatic Mt. Hood as a backdrop, to other vineyards just a short sail along the river thriving in almost desert conditions.

 
It would be nearly impossible to replicate our wine exploration of the Pacific Northwest along the Columbia River without the expertise of our UnCruise experts and guides, whose knowledge and relationships in the region gave us access to passionate local winemaker entrepreneurs who are drawing on the unique terroir (wine-producing terrain) to cultivate the grapes and craft one-of-a-kind wines – none of which we could get at home.

 
In fact, some of our fellow guests were on the cruise specifically to tap into that expertise to add to their wine collections. That’s a clear benefit of a ‘drive-to’ cruise: they’d driven in some cases cross-country to leave their cars in Portland and embark the ship, ready to drive home with a new collection of vintages – and Pacific Northwest winery contacts - after our round-trip voyage.
 
Others, like us, were thrilled just to taste these uniquely Pacific Northwest wines in charming wineries, surrounded by vineyards, and hear the stories of the winemakers, as well as meet and sample the fruits of the labors of other culinary innovators in small communities along the river. I think all of us were inspired to find room for at least one or two special bottles in our luggage to fly home!
 
The wine tastings and culinary samplings during our trips off the ship were complemented by an outstanding onboard gastronomic experience.
 
Hyper-local ingredients, not just regional, but identified on daily menus right down to the farm and producer, were transformed into one memorable meal after another. A ship that small – with a tiny galley! – even included a pastry chef. And in addition to abundant meals, onboard tastings of local oysters, cheeses and other delicacies had us pacing ourselves, knowing more treats we’d have to try would be coming up next.
 
The onboard sommelier worked lock-step with the chefs to pair an outstanding range of local wines, many from wineries we didn’t get a chance to visit, with each dish at dinner.

 
But maybe our favorite moment was on board when, local wine in hand, we immersed ourselves in the top deck’s hot tub during a late afternoon sailing to watch some of the most dramatic Columbia River Gorge scenery float by as we toasted our cruise along America’s River of Wine.
 

Start Your Wine River Cruise Trip!

 
 
All images copyright BestTrip TV/ Lynn Elmhirst.

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World First: Lie-Flat Sleeping Pods in Economy Class
The farther you have to travel, the more important comfort is on the way there. So it’s no surprise that the national airline of one of the most remote destinations in the world is championing in-flight sleep.

Air New Zealand has unveiled plans for its new Dreamliner aircraft, scheduled for service beginning in 2024, with what it’s calling “the best sleep in the sky” – for everyone.
 
'New Zealand's location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long haul travel experience,” says the airline’s CEO, Greg Foran. “We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested. Whether they are heading straight into a meeting, or to their first holiday hotspot - they want to hit the ground running.”
 
We’re used to seeing the extravagant comfort available to business and first class air passengers for many airlines, and Air New Zealand’s premium passengers will be spoiled, indeed. The Kiwi-designed Dreamliner cabin has seven different types of seats: two business class, a premium economy section, and a whopping four types of economy class seats.
 
As Air New Zealand’s Foran says, the new cabin design will provide passengers “options to get some shut eye wherever they're sitting.'
 
 
Business class passengers get a “private nest” for a blissful night’s sleep, with one seating option using the middle row to allow passengers travelling together to open their “nest” into a combined space. Meanwhile, the top tier of business class seats provide the ultimate in space and luxury, with a fully closing door and space for two to dine.
 
Premium Economy seats provide more space and unimpeded reclining space so you don’t disturb the person behind you.
 
But it’s Economy class that really shakes up options for getting much-needed shuteye during long-haul flights.
 
Even the basic Economy class seat boasts “more storage, comfort and space and a 50% bigger screen for entertainment. Connect to Bluetooth audio and pair your device to act as a remote control or second screen,” according to Air New Zealand. Economy Stretch, like the name suggests, gives passengers more leg room.
 
 
Economy Skycouch encompasses multiple seats united in a single surface for sitting, spreading out, or lying down. While it looks ideal for families with young children, imagine booking it all for yourself!
 
Then there’s Economy Skynest (pictured top), “the world’s first sleep pods in the sky.” Air New Zealand’s Dreamliners have six, stacked sleep pods that for the first time, let economy-class passengers lie flat in their own space on a long journey. That’s a game changer.
 
And it’s not just seats. The entire flight experience has been designed to help every passenger feel their best.
 
'Research shows us the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night's sleep,” says the airline. “So everything we do onboard is to help create a sense of calm – from the lighting and sleep ritual including sleepy teas and balms, to healthier food choices and breathable fabrics.”
 
The new aircraft will have a new Sky Pantry for Premium Economy and Economy class passengers, allowing them to stretch their legs (not just milling around the toilets!), grab a bite to eat, and hydrate at their leisure throughout their journey.
 
Meditative onscreen content, “Zentertainment, “ will also help you unwind and get ready for rest.
 
Those innovations will help you feel better while flying.
 
Other innovations on the new Air New Zealand Dreamliners will help you feel better about flying.
 
The airline has also focused on sustainability in its design process. Using modern, lightweight fabrics, rather than leather in the premium cabins, and switching to ligher serviceware, for example, help to reduce carbon emissions. In economy class, new serviceware will eliminate 28 million plastic dishes used inflight every year.
 
So whether you’re planning a trip to New Zealand for its outstanding wineries, natural wonders, land- and seacapes, outdoor adventures, Maori indigenous culture, or cuisine – or all of the above! Now you can also enjoy an outstanding night’s sleep on the way there.
 

Start your New Zealand Trip!

 
Images courtesy Air New Zealand
 
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Hit the Holiday Weekend with this Travel-Inspired, Rum-Infused Salad Recipe from Antigua and Barbuda
It’s officially summer, and the big holiday weekend of the season spells festive get-togethers and celebrations in the sun and the heat. Well, you can take a cue from a year-round hot-weather destination and spice up your summer salad with a salad recipe from Antigua and Barbuda that hits the spot this hot holiday weekend.

This distinctly tropical salad is simple yet oh so delicious and refreshing – and adults only! It features a large watermelon and is infused with Antigua’s signature Cavalier Rum; yes, rum! The secret is letting the sliced watermelon marinate in the rum for up to two days, ensuring the ultimate sweet flavour that will amp up your festivities and set a high note for the holiday weekend.

This twist on a watermelon recipe comes courtesy of Rodrick Beazer, the Executive Sous Chef of Curtain Bluff Resort in Antigua and Barbuda, the twin-island nation in the heart of the Caribbean Sea.

Antigua and Barbuda offer upscale island travelers not one, but two uniquely distinct experiences. Both islands enjoy ideal temperatures year-round, a rich history, vibrant culture, exhilarating excursions, award-winning resorts, mouth-watering cuisine and 365 stunning pink and white-sand beaches - one for everyday of the year!

The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua, comprises 108-square miles with rich history and spectacular topography that provides a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities. Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort, a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perhaps the most renowned landmark. Antigua’s tourism events calendar includes the prestigious Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the annual Antigua Carnival; dubbed the ‘Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival.’

Barbuda, Antigua’s smaller sister island, is an off-the-radar celebrity hideaway. The island lies 27 miles north-east of Antigua and is just a 15-minute plane ride away. Barbuda is known for its untouched 17-mile stretch of pink sand beach and as the home of the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. 

 

Antigua and Barbuda’s Cavalier Rum-Infused Local Watermelon Salad

INGREDIENTS:
Start with a large watermelon; seedless watermelon is best for this recipe
1 cup Cavalier rum 
½ cup toasted sliced almonds 
1 bowl of fresh island greens
½ cup local goat cheese
2 sprigs kale 
 
MAKE-AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS:
To infuse the watermelon: 
1. Cut the watermelon in half, horizontally. Place half side down on a clean, dry surface. Then slice a portion off the round top and then each side, making it a square or rectangle. Slice into approximately 1-inch slices.
2. Place sliced (and seeded, if you aren't using seedless) watermelon into vacuum / sealable plastic bag(s). Pour in the Cavalier Rum. 
3. Place vacuum bag into chamber vacuum sealer and pull a full, 100% vacuum on the fruit. You can also do this carefully without a vacuum sealer carefully by hand pressing out all the air.
4. The fruit can marinate in the rum in the refrigerator for up to two days. (After two days, juices will start to expel from the fruit, surrounding the fruit in the vacuum pouch. The fruit is usable, but the texture isn’t as perfect.)
 
To Serve:
1. Remove watermelon from the pouch. Top with goat cheese, almond slices, and kale. Garnish with greens and serve!
 
Chef Beazer says that the rum-infused salad is a perfect side dish for barbequed fish - especially salmon - or chicken. He suggests pairing it with a light rosé or pinot noir wine to accentuate the sweetness of the watermelon.
Until you can make your next – or first! – trip to Antigua and Barbuda, we know this salad recipe will be your travel-inspired star of your sizzling summer entertainment!
 

Start your Tropical Trip!

 
Salad image and recipe courtesy of Antigua and Barbuda.