Anglo Scottish Travel Brampton's Blog

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

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

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida:

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

 

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California


Disney California Adventure Park


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

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

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


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

Disneyland Park


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

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

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

Start your Disney Holiday Trip!

 
Images courtesy Disney.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start your Trip!




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

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

Fort Louis

Good for: sightseers, novice hikers, history buffs

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

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

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

Loterie Farm

Good for: lux/adventure lovers, families

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


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


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


Reserve Naturelle

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

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

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

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


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

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

Start your St. Martin Trip!




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

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

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

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

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

Start your Swiss Trip!




Images courtesy RhB

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

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

London, England


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

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

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

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

Ireland

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


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

Sicily

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

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

Egypt

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

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

South of France

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

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

Start your Spook-tacular Trip!



Images credits as noted

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

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

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

Start Your Hawaii Trip!

 
 
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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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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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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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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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First-Ever, Statewide Waterfall Trail in the U.S. Opens Just in Time for Summer
Kick off summer on a quest. For the very first time, a statewide trail helps active travelers get off the beaten path, connecting them to over two dozen waterfalls across the most scenic parts of West Viriginia.

The 29 waterfalls of the official West Virginia Waterfall Trail are just a ‘drop in the bucket’ of the more than 200 waterfalls found in picturesque places around the state.

Chasing Waterfalls in America’s Newest National Park

Included on the trail are six waterfalls in America's 63rd – and newest - national park, the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. These breathtaking cascades can be found within secluded coves, such as Turkey Creek Falls, or can be enjoyed at the end of a scenic trail, such as Glade Creek Falls, or hidden gems like Finn's falls. As travelers continue to flock to the national park, the falls along the West Virginia Waterfall Trail highlight must-visit spots to add to an East Coast summer nature trip.
 
The novelty of the new park and its falls is in addition to well-known cascades along the West Virginia Waterfall Tails like Blackwater (pictured) and Sandstone, as well as lesser-known waterfalls like Drawdy in Boone County. Some, like Cathedral, tower above the valley floor, while others span wide rivers.

As more and more of us show an interest in spending our leisure and travel time outdoors, the launch of the first-ever waterfall trail couldn’t come at a better time – in addition to its debut at the beginning of the summer and along with the state’s landmark new national park and nature preserve.

'Breathtaking waterfalls are everywhere in our 1.5 million acres of parks and public lands, making this trail a must-experience activity for adventure-seekers this summer,' said West Virginia’s Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby on the occasion of the waterfall trail inauguration in June, 2022.

The state dubs itself ‘an outdoor oasis in the heart of the East Coast,’ and just in 2022, the state has been recognized by a number of prestigious publications for its magnificent scenic beauty and outdoor recreation. Among its natural wonders, the rushing waterfalls found across the state create the perfect backdrop for soft adventure that’s accessible to almost everyone, young and young at heart, and at multiple levels of fitness.

West Virginia’s connecting its natural wonders via new technology. Travelers on a waterfall quest in the state can go to WVtourism.com/waterfalls and register to have the West Virginia Waterfall Trail passport delivered straight to your smartphone. As travelers explore each of the more than two dozen waterfalls featured on the trail, they can stamp their passports by checking in at each location.

The state’s Department of Tourism is even rewarding waterfall chasers with exclusive gear along the way in the trail’s inaugural season:
  • Check in at three or more waterfalls and receive a custom sticker.
  • Check in at 10 or more waterfalls and receive an aluminum water bottle.
  • Check in at 20 or more waterfalls and receive a waterfall wanderer t-shirt.
 
'From simple boardwalks to hilly treks, we want to make your efforts to experience our falls worth every mile,' said Ruby. 'While out and about on the West Virginia Waterfall Trail, be sure to post photos of your explorations on social media using #AlmostHeaven.'
 
Go for the falls, stay for West Virginia’s other stunning attractions. In addition to its majestic mountains and rolling hills, West Virginia is full of rich historic sites, enchanting art galleries, charming towns and what state officials call “an immense sense of belonging found only in these heaven-like landscapes.”

 

Start Your Nature Trip!

 


New Ways to Celebrate the Start of Summer at the "World's Most Photogenic Beach"
A recent survey of the most popular hashtags in travel photo posts in social media wasn’t a scientific study. But it did generate a clear winner of the title “World’s Most Photogenic Beach.”

That honor went to the seven miles of shorelines and sparkling waters of South Florida’s legendary Miami Beach. If it’s been a while since you indulged in the surfside views and epic lifestyle of one of America’s most famous beaches and beach towns, here are some experiences that can give you new ways to enjoy Miami Beach.

And just in time for the unofficial start of the summer season – with family-friendly ideas, too. 

Seaside

Air & Sea Show: Late May’s unique annual event, dubbed “the Greatest Show Above the Earth,” showcases the men, women, technology and equipment in motion from all five branches of the U.S. military, as well as police and emergency responders. Over two days, you’ll get a rush of adrenaline watching offshore powerboat racing exhibitions, extreme water sports, and more – all with sweeping ocean views from the shores of Miami Beach.

Fishing Charters: Find a little adventure of your own through some of Miami Beach’s world-class offshore, deep sea or wreck fishing just off its shores. Experienced anglers and novice fishers just starting to get a taste for man vs. fish challenges will find an active, educational, and customized day – or half-day – at sea.

Luxury Yacht Charters: Maybe you don’t need your day on the water to have a goal like a big catch. Singles, couples, friends and families can all enjoy a day on the water ‘living the life’ on a luxury yacht. Custom charter itineraries can include a tour of the shore’s gorgeous architecture and celebrity home views, an afternoon learning the ropes on how to operate a water vessel, culinary experiences catered by local private chefs and active water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding and jet skiing.
 
Salt Float Bath Therapy: You can even get the benefits of salt water while on land. The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort lets you float your stress away in a weightless saltwater bath that incorporates 800 pounds of healthy bath salts. The experience helps release natural endorphins, relieve muscle pain, calm anxieties and stimulate blood flow. Who doesn’t need some of that? Plus the stellar ocean views poolside while you relax following your salt water spa experience.

 

Open-Air Design 'Museum'


You may already know about Miami Beach’s globally-recognized collection of design genres including art deco, Mediterranean revival, MiMo and the Miami Beach school of architecture. The city keeps adding to its unique design history in its tropical vacation lifestyle.

Signature Lifeguard Stands:
Recently, the reinvented Miami Beach’s signature lifeguard stands by William Lane (pictured, top) have been newly-recognized as iconic landmarks and symbols of the design-centric, urban beach destination.
 
After Hurricane Andrew destroyed several of the lifeguard stands dotting Miami Beach in the 1990’s, the city called upon designer William Lane to create replacements. Almost immediately, the five lifeguard stands, which the designer said were “influenced not only by Miami’s midcentury and art deco architecture but also by its Caribbean culture and the use of vibrant colors derived from the natural beauty of the tropics” became symbols of the community’s renaissance. Decades later, he was asked to revitalize more of Miami Beach’s seven-miles of sand and sea with new, eye-catching lifeguard towers. You won’t want to miss even one.
 
Get more of a design fix at some new or newly-renovated Miami Beach hotel properties, and design tours, too.
 
The Shelbourne South Beach dates back to the 1940's, exuding timeless luxury, elegance and original Art Deco design. As a stylish playground, guests can expect a dose of oceanside glamour with pops of color and interesting angles to enjoy, even from the hotel’s pool and diving platform. 
 
While Miami Beach is known for incredible Art Deco style, Mediterranean Revival is not to be missed. From superstar couture designer Gianni Versace's masterpiece on Ocean Drive to restaurants and storefronts featuring handmade tile and metal intricacies, travelers can get a taste of another of the city’s distinct design flavors during a walking tour curated by The Miami Design Preservation League. It showcases the architecture made popular on Miami Beach in the 1920's and 1930's. 
 
And, no day is complete on Miami Beach without a classic cocktail in stylish surroundings. Design-lovers can check out the new Lapidus Bar at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach. The beachside hotel was built in the 50’s by iconic architect Morris Lapidus, known as the pioneer of Miami Modern style. Evoking the glamorous, Rat-Pack feel of the era, the bar is located in the hotel's lobby and is part of a spectacular $90 million renovation, bringing the design elements of the past together with iconic, Ritz-Carlton five-star service.
 

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10 Reasons Why Guided Tours are a Top New Family Travel Trend
Even if you’ve never considered taking an escorted or guided tour before, this might be the best time to see why more and more people – and even families – are signing up for an escorted vacation.

There are a lot of myths about guided tours, and images of exclusively older singles and couples on buses.
Read on! Not only does a multi-city guided tour give your family a ‘tasting menu’ of destinations to revisit for a longer duration another time, which is one of the reasons they are such a great introduction to places like Europe for a family.

You may be surprised how many ways any type of escorted tour is your best option for a low-stress, high-reward family vacation.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, producer/ host: BestTrip TV

Let’s start with the ‘return to travel’ reasons why booking your next family vacation with a guided tour company provides you with the easiest and most reassuring travel options.

1.    Post-Pandemic Ease: Why navigate the health rules of one or more foreign destinations yourself? Your guided tour company will help you make sure you are well-prepared for all the requirements of your trip.
2.    Post-Pandemic Safety: Many people are still cautious about travel and their exposure to many new people. Traveling with the same, (often tested, with vaccines required) people, in the same luxury coach, maximizes your ‘safe’ time, with less time spent in public transit around or between cities.

Now onto the timeless ways that escorted tours tick a lot of boxes for family travel:

3.    Leave the Planning to an Expert: As much fun as planning travel can be, a lot has changed in the last couple of years, and anyway, do you have the time for all that research and reviews and planning? Booking a guided tour means someone else is investing in precious planning time – and you benefit from it. And tour companies have direct access to their own sources. That current, most expert local knowledge ensures you get the best experiences – and you know every aspect of your trip has been vetted and someone else is responsible for making sure it all comes together.
4.    Focus on Family Time: When someone else is taking care of all the logistical details, you can concentrate on what family travel should be all about: good times with family members. No juggling of reservations and train schedules, or even struggling with a ‘lost in translation’ moment of communication confusion. You’ve downloaded that onto people who do it every single day.
5.    Someone Else is the Timekeeper and Box Ticker: No more family travel time spent ‘herding cats’ or worse, being the ‘bad guy.’ Your tour guide is tracking what time you have to leave for the airport, or how long it will take to get to your dinner or show reservations. It’s not left to one member of the family to keep all the balls in the air. You can relax and enjoy.
6.    Jump the Line: One of the best things about places like Europe is the landmark museums, historic sites and scenic view points like funiculars and tower tops to enjoy. Many also come with long line ups that can test the patience of not only the youngest, but even the more mature members of the family. The good news is that tour companies book blocks of tickets and can often walk their tour group right past the long line ups of independent travelers. So you don’t have to miss a thing because it creates too much stress to wait in line.
7.    Keep Every Family Member Interested: Escorted tours give you a broad overview of the best of the best of a destination, plus often access to unique, in-depth experiences in special interests you might not be able to access yourself. There’s enough of a change of pace, scenery, and activities to keep everyone in the family on their toes.


8.    Get Off the Beaten Path: You might think of Paris for a family trip to France. Guided tours will often also take you to smaller, outlying destinations you don’t know about or don’t want the hassle of organizing a side trip to. Often, these smaller, local destinations and activities in these less crowded destinations can be the most memorable of your trip.
9.    Local Expert = Better Experiences: Translator, timekeeper, fountain of historic knowledge… and current lifestyles. Your tour guide gives you that ‘friend in town’ experience you can’t get traveling on your own, unless you have an actual friend in town. Furthermore, they are the best sources of advice on ways to spend your unscheduled time, so you can also find experiences to enjoy your family’s special interests or get tickets to a local event.
10. Customize Your Travel Experience: Just because you’re booking a guided tour doesn’t mean you can’t experience a destination in your own way. You can book a top or tail custom extension of your guided tour to remain in the destination you’re now familiar with for an extra couple of days to take in a sports game, event, markets, shops and more. Even without a trip extension, different types of tours give you different amounts of escorted and free time to pursue your family’s interests. Your expert travel advisor can help match your family to the style of guided trip that best suits your interests, attention span, and energy levels.

Bonus: Group Discounts
If you take an extended, or multi-generation family group tour, you may be able to get discounts for the size of your group. In fact, it might even make sense to arrange for a private family group tour, with all the benefits of group travel- customized for your own family. Another way guided group tours may be the perfect way to get together with your extended family group after a couple of years without travel.

Your travel advisor has the expertise of the different types of guided tours, and ways to get the best value guided tour for your family.
 

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

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

Los Angeles, California:

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

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

 
 

Seattle, Washington:

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

Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

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

Washington DC :

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

 

Yosemite, California:

The Yosemite Climbing Museum & Gallery

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

Mobile, Alabama:

Africatown Heritage House

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

Tulsa, Oklahoma:

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

New York, New York:

Museum of Broadway

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

San Francisco, California:  

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

Charleston, South Carolina:

International African American Museum

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

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

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

Origins of Cliff Diving and the Cliff Diving World Series

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

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

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

Go Jump off a Cliff

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

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

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

Takes Your Breath Away

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

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

 

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







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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Aerial BVI

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

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


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

Spectacular Tropical Island Home Away From Home

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

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


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



Healing Cuisine

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

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

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


Private Island, Private Beach… and Beyond

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Start Your National Park Trip!





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

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

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

What’s New?

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


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

 

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

What’s Returning?

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

 

Where’s Wonder of the Seas Cruising?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bald Eagle

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

Rufous Hummingbird

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

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

Willow Ptarmigan

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

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

Murre

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

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

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

 

Tufted Puffin

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

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

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

Five! Simple Ingredients

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

Five Easy Steps 

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

Start Your Culinary Trip!

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

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

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


ANTIGUA: “Nelson’s Dockyard”

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

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


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

BARBADOS: Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison

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

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


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

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

CURACAO: Historic Willemstad and its Harbor

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


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

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

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Colonial City of Santo Domingo

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


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

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

JAMAICA: Blue and John Crow Mountains

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

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


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

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

PUERTO RICO: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

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


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

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

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

ST. KITTS & NEVIS: Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

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

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

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

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


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