Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019 Issue

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Now in our 17th year of publishing, Canadian World Traveller explores the culture and history of worldwide destinations, sharing the adventure of discovery with our readers and motivating them to make their travel dreams a reality. Published quarterly, CWT helps sophisticated, independent Canadian travellers choose their next destination by offering a lively blend of intelligent, informative articles and tantalizing photographic images from our World’s best destinations, cruises, accommodations and activities to suit every traveller's taste.

Kyoto U S A Curacao Dubai China

C A N A D I A N

W O R L D

Traveller

ALREADY 17 YEARS

SUMMER 2019

Sailing

the

World

with

Norwegian

Cunard

Viking

AmaWaterways

Victory

Carnival

C o m e W i t h U s & S e e T h e W o r l d !


Published by

Canadian World Traveller

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Publisher

Michael Morcos

Editor-in-chief

Greg James

Contributing Editor

David J. Cox

Graphic Department

Al Cheong

Advertising Department

Leo Santini

Marketing Department

Tania Tassone

Distribution

Royce Dillon

Senior Travel Writers:

Susan Campbell

Steve Gillick

Regular Contributors:

Habeeb Salloum

Jennifer Merrick

Olivia Balsinger

Natalie Ayotte

Johanna Read

Jasmine Morcos

Ilona Kauremszky

Mike Cohen

Mathieu Morcos

Gregory Caltabanis

Anne-Marie Macloughlin

Daniel Smajovits

Cherie DeLory

Daniel Smajovits

Contributors This Issue:

Lisa TE Sonne

In this issue, we focus on cruising

many of the countless oceans and

rivers of the world, starting this

worldwide voyage in China’s Lijiang River

from Guilin and finding out why it is called

the ‘Pearl of Southern China’. We then hop

onto another cruise, this time on the wonderful

Cunard ocean liner the “Queen

Elizabeth’ sailing some of China’s busiest

and most popular ports.

While still in Asia, we visit the many splendours

of beautiful and historic Kyoto, Japan.

After being in the Far East, we head way,

way down to ‘Tasmania’s Wild & Untamed

Freycinet Peninsula’. Then, travelling west,

we find ourselves in Dubai - ‘Where the

Middle East comes to life’.

Close by, we jump on an amazing ‘Three

Continents Cruise’ Adventure with Trafalgar,

visiting points in Europe, Africa and Asia. At

our next port of call, we climb on-board the

AmaLyra in Paris and head through the

beautiful countryside of Normandy. While

still in Europe, we visit the amazing and

‘Captivating Cascais’ in Portugal.

Next, we jet off to the new world. First, ‘From

Sea to Shining Sea’, we are ‘Rediscovering

America’s Beauty ’ and also sail up the

Great Lakes as we take ‘The Smooth Cruise

on Victory 1’ before heading west to take in

the best of Vernon, BC. We then cruise from

Vancouver to L.A. on the magnificent

Norwegian Joy and take full advantage the

many dinning and entertainment options

this beautiful ship has to offer.

Back in the southeast, we take in some of

the best dinner shows in Orlando. While still

in Florida we celebrate a New Year’s on a

Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas before we

head off to explore the warm waters of the

West Indies with Viking on a wonderful

ocean cruise.

In Mexico, we find that ‘Puerto Vallarta’s Got

it All!’, and next, we visit the charming small

town of El Tuito and then on to Curacao and

‘Beyond the Handelskade’. Finally, we again

find ourselves way down under, but this time

to check out the loveable penguins in the

remote Falkland Islands.

Happy travels!

Disclaimer: World Traveler has made every effort to

verify that the information provided in this publication

is as accurate as possible. However, we accept

no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience

sustained by anyone resulting from the information

contained herein nor for any information

provided by our advertisers.


Destinations

Crusing section

34

Kyoto 8 Dubai 10

Puerto Vallarta 12 Curacao 32

Cruise News

Norwegian

AmaWaterwauys

Viking

Victory

Cunard

Carnival

Best Time to Cruise?

Trafalgar Cruise

Lijiang River Cruise

Stay & Play - 60

Vernon, BC 70 America 72

Around the World 14

The Wild Hotel in Mykonos

Falklands


8

Kyoto in all

its Splendour

Article and photography by Michael Morcos

If you want to understand Japan, go to

Kyoto! I kept hearing that phrase before

embarking on this tour of discovery.

Although this was not my first trip to Japan, it

would mark my introduction to this amazing

city.

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is much bigger

than I thought; this was evident upon

arrival at the massive train station. Kyoto station

is a new structure and an engineering

marvel of both art and architectural and an

attraction on its own. Located in the dead

centre of town, it links passengers to connections

throughout Japan by commuter trains

and the slick, iconic bullet train.

Nijo Castle

So little time and so much to see. I would

concentrate on the most popular sites, and

they do not get any more visited then the Nijo

castle. At first glance, it seemed small. This is

deceiving as the surrounding walls hide the

enormous buildings and gardens found

inside.

The Castle, constructed in 1603, was a home

for the first shogun of the Edo Period, and its

palace buildings are some of the best surviving

examples of castle palace architecture of

Japan's feudal era. In 1994, it was designated

a UNESCO world heritage site and walking

around, it is easy to see why. Stone walls

and moats surround the grounds, and a traditional

Japanese landscape garden with a

large pond, ornamental stones and manicured

pine trees can also be explored

The Castle’s Ninomaru Palace consists of

multiple buildings connected to each other by

corridors with nightingale floors, which

squeak when stepped upon as a security

measure against intruders!

All the palace rooms are filled with tatami

mats and elegantly decorated ceilings and

sliding doors. Truly regal.

Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion

When they called it the gold pavilion, they

were bang on – a site where the main building

is covered in gold leaf. Hard to believe

and seeing is believing, I would stand there in

awe as this historic and decadent Japanese

building glistening in the sun with a magnificent

pond beneath it and forest all around.

Now a Zen temple, its top two floors overlook

the large pond, and each floor has a different

architectural style. The first floor has a

Shinden style with natural wood pillars and

white plaster walls that both contrasts and

complements the gilded upper stories of the

pavilion. Statues of the historical Buddha are

stored here as well. Second floor Bukke style

used in samurai residences and the third and

uppermost floor is in the style of a Chinese

Zen Hall, gilded inside and out, and capped

with a golden phoenix. The sight is a site to

behold, indeed!

Kiyomizudera Temple

Getting to this temple is time-consuming feat.

Not because it is far, being located in the centre

of Kyoto. It is the countless stores that line

the street on the way that would draw my


attention. You can virtually buy anything

Japanese on the way, and I would try to hold

myself back from window-shopping but

could not resist. This is obviously built for

tourists, but then again, who was I?

Once there, the Kiyomizudera Temple’s

famous wooden stage offers visitors a wonderful

view of the numerous cherry, maple

and other trees as well as the Kyoto skyline in

the distance.

Visiting its main hall, I was greeted the temple's

primary object of worship, a small statue

of the eleven faced, thousand armed

Kannon. Quite impressive. After that, lies the

Jishu Shrine dedicated to the deity of love

and matchmaking. There, you can bring

yourself luck in love by successfully finding

your way between two stones placed 18

meters apart with your eyes closed.

The Kiyomizudera has more purported powers

in its Otowa Waterfall. Divided into three

separate streams, visitors can drink from

them for either longevity, success at school or

being lucky in love. But don’t drink from all

three, as that is seen as gluttonous!

Fushimi Inari Shrine

I purposely saved the best for last as this is

one of the most visited sites in Japan and one

of the items on my lifelong bucket list of

places to see. For me, words could not

describe this very important Shinto shrine

famous for its hundreds of brilliantly painted

Tori gates that wind their way up and down

hills through a serene forest. Besides the

many buildings and structures it was a pleasure

watching the locals dressed in traditional

garments enjoying their visit and taking

never-ending selfies.

The trails in the mountains are fun to explore,

boasting a grand entranceway and a path

filled with Torii gates, starting with parallel

rows of gates called Senbon Torii.

All the gates along the trail have been donated,

and include some worth over one million

yen. The 2 to 3 hour hike to the summit passes

by multiple shrines with stacks of miniature

Torii gates donated by visitors with smaller

budgets.

There are also some wonderful views of Kyoto

to enjoy, and the trail splits into a circular

route to the summit. Wonderful time spent in

a magical space.

Shopping Kyoto style

The shopping area along Shijo Street, centered

around the intersection of Shijo and

Kawaramachi streets, rivals any of those

found in the worlds big cities Two massive

department stores named Takashimaya and

Marui are located there.

There are high-end fashion brands and if you

continue along Shijo Street across the Kamo

River toward Yasaka Shrine, the large stores

give way to smaller boutiques selling fashion

and Kyoto specialty foods and crafts.

Eating Kyoto

There are so many things to see and do – the

Kyoto nightlife is something else, but the

meals are what truly stands out!

Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese meal,

famous throughout Japan for its refined and

delicate taste. We sampled some of the city’s

main specialties including Shojin ryori

(Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine), Kyowagashi

(Kyoto sweets) and Yudofu (tofu

cooked in hot broth).

Of course, I worked my way right through all

the Japanese gastronomy including sushi,

tempura, soba, udon, ramen, unagi and

okonomiyaki. One of my favorites was

Kagizen Yoshifusa is a traditional sweet shop

in the heart of Gion with a serene tearoom

where you can enjoy wonderful sweets with

cups of thick matcha tea.

All good things must come to an end, and so

did my short visit to this Japanese gem. The

time spent here was short but the memories

will last a lifetime. Most memorable were not

just the wonderful sites and great food but

mostly the friendly, helpful, warm, and welcoming

people. They made my visit complete!

www.japan.travel

9

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


10

Dubai

Where the Middle East comes to life

Article and photography by Daniel Smajovits

The sheer grandeur that is the

Emirate of Dubai rushes through

you during the 60 seconds it takes to

climb to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa,

the world’s tallest building. In Dubai, everything

is bigger, faster and more opulent than

you could ever have imagined.

The crown jewel of the Arabian Desert,

Dubai has emerged as a bastion for wealth,

capitalism and adventure. Recently, we had

the opportunity to spend five incredible days

in the United Arab Emirates, sampling some

of the best the country had to offer.

Many cities in one: where to stay?

Dubai is massive. Accommodations range

from the most pedestrian to the world’s most

expensive hotel, so choosing where to stay

depends entirely on both your interests and

budget. As our trip was a mix of adventure

and relaxation, we divided our time between

Diera, the Palm Jumeirah and the serenity of

the Arabian Desert.

Diera

The Diera district takes visitors back to a time

when Dubai was a tiny fishing village on the

Persian Gulf. A short walk from most hotels

lies the Al Fahidi Historic District where its

narrow streets gives visitors a taste of the city

prior to the oil boom. The adventure continues

across Dubai Creek where a quick dhow

(boat) ride will bring you to the famous gold

souk (market), which is the origin of the city’s

wealth and its nickname, The City of Gold.

We spent two nights at the Four Points by

Sheraton Bur Dubai, a 15-minute walk from

Al Fahidi and Dubai Creek. The modern,

four-star hotel offers very spacious rooms,

complete with modern amenities. The property

boasts five restaurants, including a lavish

international breakfast buffet, which is

included in most rates. Complimentary valet


parking as well as a 24-hour concierge is

also included.

Nowadays, Diera is also the heart of Dubai’s

growing Indian community, whom have settled

in the Emirate due to the overwhelming

demand for skilled labour. Overall, Indians

represent more than 40 percent of the UAE

population.

Palm Jumeirah

Considered one of the engineering wonders

of the world and even visible from space, the

Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago that

was built specifically to house some of the

WT Library Photo

city’s best beaches, hotels and most opulent

properties. While the Palm itself features

hotels such as the Atlantis, Waldorf Astoria

and St. Regis, we chose to stay at the brand

new Aloft Palm Jumeirah as it provided a perfect

mix of luxury and contemporary style at

an affordable rate. The property maintains a

private beach, complimentary valet parking

and most rooms include an ample buffet

breakfast. The Aloft proved to be an affordable

gem on the Persian Gulf.

Arabian Desert

Built in the heart of the Arabian Desert, the Al

Maha Desert Resort & Spa can easily be considered

one of the best hotels in the world.

With only 42 guest rooms, each being a full

suite which includes a private pool and deck,

guests receive the royal treatment throughout

their stay. Each night at the full-board hotel

includes three five-star meals as well as two

unique Arabian activities such as falconry,

camel riding, a nature walk or a sunset drive

in the desert. One night in the serenity of the

desert will leave you relaxed, recharged and

ready to continue your adventure.

Dining

Dubai’s food scene is arguably the world’s

best and most diverse, featuring outposts of

nearly all of the world’s most renowned chefs

as well as every franchise from all corners of

the globe. One of our favourites was Switch

in the Dubai Mall as it offered a local spin on

a traditional Mediterranean menu, including

delicious dishes such as a Camel Burger and

Halloumi Pasta. From Asian to French, Pier 7

in the Dubai Marina boasts seven unique

restaurants, each with incredible views of the

man-made canal, the largest in the world.

For a unique experience, visit the Local House

Restaurant in the Al Fahidi district and order

a date-infused camel milkshake.

Desert Safari

For first-timers, a Desert Safari is a must-do.

We used Destination Insight for our adventure

due to their stellar reputation online –

and they did not disappoint. Each safari

begins with a 30-minute dune bashing trek in

the desert, which is broken up by an opportunity

for pictures and sand boarding. Once

your stomach settles down, guests then join

other tours for an evening of traditional

Arabian food, activities (shisha,

camel riding and sandboarding) and

entertainment.

Abu Dhabi

We carved out one day for a trip to the

United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi.

Only an hour drive south, Abu Dhabi is

Dubai’s conservative counterpart and a

must-visit. While the Emirate is home to the

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the

largest mosques in the world, Abu Dhabi is

also emerging as a go-to as well for excitement.

If your visit does not coincide with the

annual Formula 1 race, spend your afternoon

at Ferrari World. Built in 2010, the

theme park is perfect for families and thrill

seekers, as among its 20+ rides is the

world’s fastest roller coaster and a number of

other stomach churning activities. For non-

Ferrari buffs, across the street is Warner Bros.

World, perfect for movie and television

lovers. Both theme parks are located outside

downtown Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, a destination

in itself with hotels, shopping, golf

courses and miles of beaches.

Downtown Dubai

All visitors must spend at least one evening in

the downtown core, which is anchored by the

Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. Aside from

being the world’s largest retail space, the

mall features a full-sized dinosaur skeleton, a

skating rink and the world’s largest indoor

aquarium. With 65 million visits per year, the

mall has become a destination in itself.

Located between the mall and the Burj

Khalifa are the Dubai Fountains, home to the

world’s largest choreographed fountain

show. Performances take place every 30 minutes

in the evening. Set aside one hour at the

Burj Khalifa, where from the world’s highest

observatory, you can take in breathtaking

views of Dubai and its surroundings.

Like no other place else on earth, Dubai’s

reputation precedes itself. After all, where

else on earth could you spend your morning

by the beach, go indoor skiing before lunch

and spend your evening dining under the

desert sky?

www.visitdubai.com

11

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


12

Puerto Vallarta’s Got it All!

Article and photography by Steve Gillick

Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon is a gathering

place from dawn to dusk. As the

sun starts to rise, joggers and walkers

accompany the noisy Brown Pelicans

and swooping Magnificent Frigatebirds

along the oceanfront boardwalk. At dusk the

crowds converge on the food stalls and

gather in clusters around vendors selling

snacks, souvenirs and colorful balloons,

often to the accompaniment of pick-up

musicians playing everything from traditional

Mariachi to contemporary International.

Statues come to life as buskers entertain

locals and visitors who are searching for that

perfect selfie: duelling with a Pancho Villa

look-alike, sharing a glass of sand wine with

the Sand People, or trying to escape the

clutches of the creature from the movie

‘Alien’.

But the Malecon is also where visitors pose

alongside the letters of the vibrant Puerto

Vallarta sign and interact with the Malecon

sculptures. On the Vallarta Art Walk, which

covers the art scene from the celebrated art

galleries, to street murals, to the intricate

Huichol drawings embedded in the pavement

on the Malecon, our guide Kevin

Simpson, who also owns the art gallery

Colectika, spoke about ‘Nostalgia’. The

bronze sculpture by Ramiz Barquet features

a man and a woman, sitting together, obviously

in love, and looking out to the sea, the

mountains and the city. However, unlike

some of the fantasy sculptures, such as “The

Boy on the Seahorse’ or “The Good Fortune

Unicorn’, ‘Nostalgia’ is a true story!

Ramiz met Nelly when they were both in

their teens. They wanted to marry each other

but as the expression goes, “it was not

meant to be”. Each went their own way, got

married and had children. Twenty-seven

years later, they re-met by chance, and rekindled

their love. Ramiz declared that if

Nelly would marry him, he would build a

monument to ‘what it would have been like

living together for all those lost years’.

‘Nostalgia’ is located on the actual spot

where Ramiz and Nelly used to sit together

and gaze out at Banderas Bay.

Puerto Vallarta is one of those destinations

where age is a state of mind. While there

are 45,000 American and Canadian mostly

Baby-Boomer ex-pats who call the city

‘home’, the destination is a magnet for fun

seekers, foodies, adventurers, birders,

beachers, shoppers and those who want

what they consider to be a meaningful getaway.

In a meeting with Luis Villaseñor, the

Promotion and Public Relations Director for

Puerto Vallarta, he suggested that the millennials

(those born after 1980) tend to look

for things on their holidays that make a difference,

and they find it here. Some still

cling to the old travel acronym FOMO—

Fear of Missing Out, but many are also

adopting the newly-coined acronym, JOMO


– The Joy of Missing Out, that involves being

disconnected from cell phones, computers

and your usual daily routine. Either way,

Puerto Vallarta’s got it all.

For visitors who find their comfort zone in

adventure, companies such as Canopy River

offer hiking, zip lines, rappelling, Tarzan

lines, ATV tours, horseback riding, mule

back riding and more. Cruises on Banderas

Bay, with companies such as Vallarta

Adventures, range from leisurely sunset and

cocktail excursions, to role-playing on a

Pirate Ship, to scuba, snorkeling and whale

watching. Many of the secluded beaches just

south of the city are only accessible by boat

and once you arrive, the rewards include

delicious local foods and cultural events. In

Las Caletas, we watched the evening performance

of Rhythms of the Night, a dazzling

spectacle created by Gilles St. Croix,

the co-creator of Cirque du Soleil.

WT Library Photo

And the theme of culinary bliss is driven

home in Puerto Vallarta’s eclectic mix of

restaurants. At Barcelona Tapas, the owner,

William Carballo, told us about the natural

fresh ingredients prepared in the open

kitchen where there is no ‘chef’; only a team

who have worked together for the past 18

years. The restaurant, displaying the work of

local artists and commanding a panoramic

view of the city, served a delectable fusion of

Spanish and internationally inspired dishes:

potato and beet salads, luscious grilled

shrimp, delicate mushrooms with goat

cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, beef skewers

with peppers, and all united through sips of

refreshing Sangria.

But there are a host of foodie stars in Puerto

Vallarta. At La Cerveceria Union, the

Guacamole is yummy, the Octopus is tender

and succulent and the grilled Blue Shrimp

are addictive. In the Zona Hotelera, about a

20 minute walk away, no lunch can compete

with the smoked Marlin Tacos at Tacon de

Marlin, an unassuming corner establishment

where, if you prefer something other

than soft drinks, you first visit the OXXO convenience

store down the street to pick up

some cold Dos Equis beer to accompany

your meal.

In the Versailles area, the idea of local street

food with an added dash of international

inspiration creatively prepared by young

chefs in open kitchens, explains the line-ups

outside many of the restaurants. Amanda,

our guide with Vallarta Food Tours pampered

our taste buds at some choice places

that included the Barbacoa tacos at Hidalgo

Restaurant, Birria tacos at Maritiera, the

Bahia Tostada at Lamara, Octopus tacos at

Bocachica Ceviches, Shrimp Al Pastor at

Abulon and the Short Rib tacos at Ajo

Negro. We finished the tour at La Lulu

Raicilleria where we sampled Raicilla, similar

to Tequila but nicknamed “Mexican

Moonshine” for its 50% to 80% alcohol content.

The recommended snack kind of

jumped out at us: crunchy, dried crickets!

(and they were hopping good!)

Puerto Vallarta’s variety of hotels cater to just

about every vacation style. In the Zona

Hotelera, the Sheraton Buganvilias is a

large, comfortable property with easy

13

access to the Old Town by foot or taxi.

For those who prefer to be ‘where the

action is’ (the FOMO crowd), the Hotel

Rosita is a friendly, traditional property,

located where the Malecon begins. And for

the JOMO group, the hotels in the area

known as South Side offer a bit more seclusion

from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The 5-star Hotel Mousai, in the Garza

Blanca Resort offers amazing jungle and

beach views from The Rooftop as well as a

host of nature-focussed activities. The petfriendly

Westin in the Marina area promotes

the wellness brand where morning yoga,

Pilates and meditation combine with healthy

foods and stunning views of the Bay.

And when it comes to nature, Puerto Vallarta

is the hub for ‘outdoor appreciation’.

Humpback whales and Bottlenose Dolphins

are frequent visitors to Banderas Bay. Nature

lovers and birders flock to the area to view

and photograph endemic and migratory

species, as well as appreciate the flowers,

trees, marshes, lagoons, and the beauty of

the caves and arches at Los Arcos National

Marine Park. While the incredible Botanical

Gardens are about 45 minutes south of the

city, you can spot colorful birds, Iguanas and

even American crocodiles near the south

end of the Malecon.

It’s nice to know that from most hotel rooms

around the Bay, you can gently fall asleep to

the cadence of the crashing waves and wake

up to the onomatopoeic songs of “Great

Kiskadees”.

Bill, a retired Ophthalmologist from the

Philadelphia area, lives in Puerto Vallarta

most of the year. He suggested that in the

United States, a familiar expression is “Time

is Money”, but here in Puerto Vallarta, the

expression is “Time is Life”. It’s a more

relaxed atmosphere in a wonderfully warm

climate that rates high on the Global

Happiness scale. Whether you are FOMO or

JOMO, active or passive or seeking a creative

combination of vacation experiences,

Puerto Vallarta’s got it all!

www.visitpuertovallarta.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


14

Around The World

(in 18 pages)

Captivating Cascais Portugal

by Olivia Balsinger

A stones throw to the west of Lisbon, Cascais defines that laid

back, coastal Portuguese way of life. The sea salt smell lingers in

your nostrils as you ride your bike through the winding cliff

paths. You are treading the most western land of Europe, once

believed to be the “Edge of the World.” Cascais is known in history

for having housed the summer residence of the Portuguese

Royal Family in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The city

is alive with historic buildings, castles and remnants of the past.

A haven for adventure junkies. Cascais is one of those rare natural

playgrounds with diverse offerings. Surf the waves of The

Atlantic on the Estoril coastline, known worldwide for its waves.

Climb in the valleys, bike along the majestic cliffs and, of course,

hike to Cabo da Roca, the “Nose of Europe.”

And when its time to relax after all the adventure, check into

Martinhal Lisbon Cascais Family Hotel, which provides that delicate

balance of practicality and leisure. The location couldn’t be

better—it rests right in the middle of two championship golf

courses, is a five-minute bike ride to the sea and 15 minutes into

the town of Cascais: secluded yet accessible. The property

boasts 72 rooms, four of which are suites, as well as twelve villas.

www.cascais-portugal.com/index.html

www.martinhal.com/cascais

China Tourism Introduces

New Brand Logo

China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) has made

“Beautiful China” the tag line of its tourism and introduced a

new global brand logo. With an overall look as a stamp, the

new logo integrates modern messaging with the ancient

Chinese art form of calligraphy. The hieroglyph in the background

means “travel” in ancient Chinese language, which shows a flag guiding a couple around.

The blue color represents the sky, delivering China tourism’s concepts - vitality, harmony and

green travel. The red color gives tribute to the Chinese civilization that has been going on for

thousands of years. Illustrating an international vision, the “Beautiful China” logo represents

China’s promising and welcoming tourism industry.

Exploring Tasmania’s Wild &

Untamed Freycinet Peninsula

by Olivia Balsinger

When I first announced my next adventure would lead me to the

barren east coast of Tasmania, even well-travelled friends had

the same reaction: “You’re going to Africa now, Olivia?!” I

couldn’t blame them for their ignorance--an isolated island state

off Australia’s south coast, known for its vast, rugged wilderness

areas and protected parks and reserves, Tasmania is certainly off

the beaten path. And I had the opportunity to taste a bit of

Tassie’s (as the locals call it) wildest side through a tour with The

Great Walks of Australia company called The Freycinet

Experience Walk. The trip began in Tasmania’s capital, Hobart,

for a brief orientation before leaving society (and Wi-Fi!) for four

days, experiencing nature each day and returning to our secluded

lodge, Friendly Beaches Lodge—an archtitechtral marvel of

both simplicity and sophistication—every evening. Long but fulfilling

days would center around exploring the same ancient

tracks of the bushmen some 30,000 years’ prior, discovering

Tasmanian nature at it’s most intense. Hiking about 37 kilometers

in total, we were led by two engaging guides, exploring the

rare and remote corners of the National Park—from the pink

granite Hazard Mountain to the forests with panoramic views of

the coastline. Along the way we witnessed incredible vistas, discovered

nesting lagoons and unique fauna, and were immersed

in the history of a population that has kept eastern Tasmania

entirely unspoiled and undeveloped. The ethos of The Freycinet

Experience is to serve up the best that nature has to offer. On the

eastern peninsula of the wild and untamed Tasmania, nature

certainly exhibits its force.

www.greatwalksofaustralia.com.au

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


16

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Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


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C o m e W i t h U s & S e e T h e W o r l d!


Cycling Tours, Once for the Extreme Cyclist,

Appeal to Mainstream Market

Photos: Intrepid

Rapid growth in North American bookings on Intrepid Travel’s cycling tours prompts world’s largest

adventure travel company to launch 12 new trips, for all fitness levels


IIntrepid Travel - the world’s largest

adventure travel company—

launched 12 new cycling tours in

2019, bringing the total number of tours to

over 40, as two-wheel travel becomes

increasingly popular, regardless of fitness

level and experience.

Since launching its range of cycling tours in

2016, Americans and Canadians have

continued to drive bookings; in 2018

alone, Intrepid’s North American bookings

on its cycling tours increased 30 percent.

According to the Adventure Travel Trade

Association’s Adventure Travel Trends

Snapshot report published in 2018, cycling

is in demand with travellers globally and is

increasing in popularity.

Intrepid Travel attributes the rising trend to

the fact cycling tours have become more

affordable and the design of cycling itineraries

has allowed various fitness levels to

participate. For instance, most of the company’s

cycling tours have a support vehicle

that cyclists can use to rest for an hour or a

day, while some even have an e-bike

option for anyone who may not be able to

ride for the duration of the trip.

“The strong interest we’re seeing in this

style of travel proves that cycling tourism is

no longer for hard-core cyclists, but for

travellers who want to better connect with

the sites, smells and sounds of the destinations

they pass through,” said Darshika

Jones, regional director of North America

for Intrepid Travel. “What we’re noticing is

that our North American customers are

eager to experience the world in unique

ways, relying on their own energy and

power to see the destinations they’re visiting.”

The expanded range of cycling trips

includes tours throughout Europe, Central

and South America, Asia, and New

Zealand, ensuring a diverse collection of

locations for all tastes and budgets.

The 12 new tours – each led by a local

leader -- will explore the Camino de

Santiago in Spain; Colombia; Costa Rica &

Panama; Nicaragua & Costa Rica;

Northern Vietnam; New Zealand; the

Balkans; Croatia & the Balkans; Northern

Sri Lanka; India’s Kerala region; and Cuba

and Eastern Cuba (not available to U.S.

travellers).

Priced from $810 USD per person, travellers

can cycle through Colombia's famed

coffee region, learning how to roast the

perfect blend, ride through the deep rainforests

of Central America to the Panama

Canal, and bike down roads between the

lush forests of India’s Western Ghats and

the golden sands of the Arabian Sea.

Ensuring that Intrepid stays true to its sustainable

principles, the entire range, like all

Intrepid tours, is 100% carbon offset.

Additionally, The Intrepid Foundation

donates a portion of each trip cost to

Bicycles For Humanity on behalf of every

cycling tour booked. Using its business as a

force for good, the partnership helps alleviate

poverty in Namibia through sustainable

transportation and employment.

For more information on the cycling tours

please visit:

www.intrepidtravel.com/us/theme/cycling

19

About Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel is a global adventure travel company

that has been taking travellers off the beaten

track to discover the world's most amazing places

for 30 years. The company offers more than 1,500

trips in more than 120 countries and on every continent.

Every trip is designed to truly experience

local culture - to meet local people, try local food,

take local transport and stay in local accommodation.

A world leader in responsible travel,

Intrepid’s award-winning tour leaders, small

group sizes and included activities mean they offer

travellers great value for money.

www.intrepidtravel.com/ca

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


El Tuito, Jalisco, Mexico

Article and photography by Steve Gillick

Venturing out to explore the State of

Jalisco’s smaller towns is a great way

to enhance a holiday experience

while in the Puerto Vallarta area. About one

hour south is El Tuito, a name that means

“beautiful small valley”. We were drawn to

the town primarily because of its reputation as

a mecca for birding enthusiasts, particularly

at Rancho Primavera, located 3 kilometers

(1.8 miles) from the town square.

After the one-hour ride from Puerto Vallarta,

we barely got out of the taxi before the unofficial

Rancho Primavera welcome committee

was upon us. Iñaki, the resident Military

McCaw immediately landed on the taxi roof

to nibble on the rubber stripping. Meanwhile,

Nimodo and Bella, both rescue dogs, affectionately

pressed their noses and bodies

against us in a competition for our attention.

It was then that we met Bonnie Jauregui, the

co-owner, who told us about this amazing

200 acre property.

The family purchased the mango and cattle

ranch in 1996 and completely transformed it

by planting over 5000 native trees. Pat,

Bonnie’s late mom, was a birder. She contacted

the Audubon Society who began to study

some of the 256+ bird species on the property.

Birding companies soon learned about

this paradise that now includes three rental

houses, hiking trails, nature appreciation, and

row-boating on the pond where Real, the

horse, sometimes stands shoulder deep to

cool off. On our visit we spent some time by

the bird feeder and walking on several of the

birding trails. We were rewarded with sightings

of Golden-cheeked Woodpeckers,

Magpie Jays, Cinnamon Hummingbirds and

many more colorful birds!

Later on near El Tuito’s town square, we spent

some time in Galeria Coppelia. Maria

Santander, the owner, described how the 130

year old Adobe building, with its thick walls

and cool interior, was the perfect venue for

showcasing the multi-media works of 26 local

artists.

Then after a stroll that included the colorful

murals in El Tuito’s Cultural Centre and the

200 year old San Pedro Apostal Parish, we

headed to ‘el Patio de Mario’ to enjoy the cool

shade, cold beer, deliciously-thick

Guacamole, and tasty Enchiladas with cheese

and chile. Mario Humberto Rodriguez

Romero, the friendly owner, greeted us and

proudly noted that the town people were very

kind (we discovered that on our own!) and

that this was a very safe community: “You can

leave your computer next to an open window

and it will still be there when you return”.

Some people visit El Tuito to see the folkloric

dances and presentations in the town square.

Others come to taste the local cheeses

(Panela and Oaxaca) or to sample Raicilla

(similar to Tequila but a tad stronger). And for

hundreds of bird watchers and photographers

this is pretty much the gold standard.

El Tuito is ideal for travelers who are looking

to connect with a bit more local Mexican

atmosphere than some of the big cities are

able to offer. It’s definitely worth a visit.

www.vallartainfo.com/el-tuito


22

ing group of king penguins as well as large

colonies of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins.

Located roughly two-hours northeast

of the port (Stanley), the trek to Volunteer

Point will encompass the majority of your

day, but it will be the excursion of a lifetime.

For the complete Falkland Island experience,

we recommend reserving your tour

with Jimmy and Tanya Curtis, the dynamic

husband and wife duo who own and operate

Volunteer Point Tours (curtis@volunteerpointtours.com).

Jimmy, Tanya and their

team of drivers will pick you up directly

from the port and zip you off to Volunteer

Point in their fleet of 4x4s. Once at

Volunteer Point, guests are free to walk

amongst all the penguins and unlike in

other reserves, no physical barriers exist

between guests and the animals. For mutual

protection, one must always be conscious

not to get too close as not to disturb

them either on land or in the sea. For conservation

reasons, daily visitors to the

reserve are limited and it is recommended

to book your tour well in advance of arrival,

especially if you are sailing on a large ship.

The Falkland Islands

An excursion of a lifetime

Article and photography by Daniel Smajovits

Yet, perhaps the most enjoyable part of

your journey with Jimmy and Tanya will be

the drive to and from Volunteer Point itself.

As lifetime residents of the Falkland Islands,

they love chatting about day-to-day life in

such a unique and sought-after British

Colony as well as will share some incredible

stories from the infamous and deadly

Falklands War. On route, they will also

point out famous landmarks and relics

from the war. Should time allow before the

last tender of the day, make sure to join

Jimmy and Tanya at their favourite pub,

one of four in Stanley, for a delicious local

pint.

Tucked away in the South Atlantic

Ocean, 300 miles east of

Argentina and 750 miles north of

Antarctica, the Falkland Islands are easy to

miss, yet, if you’re adding places to that

proverbial bucket list, this destination

should be right at the top.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

Home to less than 4,000 residents of the

human kind, the islands are undoubtedly

most famous for its thousands of its tuxedo

wearing natives: the multiple penguin

breeds that call the Falklands home.

Once a remote destination that was only

accessible via one daily flight from

Santiago, recently, major cruise lines such

as Norwegian, Celebrity and Princess have

begun to include the Islands as a port-ofcall.

Itineraries allow visitors one full day on

the island of East Falkland, which is just the

perfect amount of time to indulge in the

colony’s incredible wildlife as well as sample

some of its unique culture.

When planning your trip, the premiere

sight is Volunteer Point, a private peninsula

that is home to the island’s largest breed-

Should you choose to spend your day in

Stanley, the quiet town offers some nice

shops, restaurants with local and British

fare as well as a museum and a golf

course. Due the Islands’ location, the average

summer temperature in the is 14

degrees (58 F), so dress in layers and

expect a mix of rain and sun.

www.falklandislands.com


24

“Show” me Orlando

by David J Cox

When in Orlando, there are so

many destinations to grab your

attention with Disney, SeaWorld

and Universal parks, but what if you want

something on a smaller scale? The theatre is

a great alternative and Orlando has something

for every taste.

A Mad Cow Christmas

Tucked away on a second story of a building

on the trendy West Church Street is the Mad

Cow. What began in late 1997 as a simple

two show project between a group of

Floridian actor/directors has become a hub of

local theatre. The productions have become

renowned and popular for their featured

works of consistent quality and simplicity.

Our experience was in line with the philosophy.

“It Was a Very Good Yule”, was filled with

the Christmas cheer that the outside summerworld

of sunny Orlando cannot really accomplish

for visitors used to snow and cold. The

four musicians were excellent singers, with the

three young women channeling the Andrews

Sisters and keyboard player offering up some

fun with Sinatra and Elvis. Wonderfully choreographed,

the hour-long show featured 26

carols and Christmas songs and was wellpaced

with small anecdotes from the 1940s

and 50s mixed in as well.

The Mad Cow, at 54 West Church Street

1997, now produces 10 shows per season

and produces a yearly Christmas show.

Gangsters, gals, gags and grub!

Capone’s is dubbed as a “Funtastic” Dinner

Show, and it does deliver some good laughs

and good lines. Reasonably priced, the

evening starts with finding the ticket taker and

the doorman in character as 1930s gangsters.

After saying the code word, ‘four cherry

cokes’, we were led to the bar by a flapper

and awaited our seats.

The wait staff and stage performers would

interact throughout the evening with often

hilarious jokes and double-entendres. Once

seated, we enjoyed a hearty Italian food buffet

with a salad bar, pizzas, meat carving station,

and an array of Italian favorites like

baked ziti, lasagna and garlic bread sticks.

The highlight of the night was the show, with

a core ensemble of actors and lots of group

and individual interactions with the crowd.

Sections of the restaurant were divided into

“families” and each had their own sayings.

Our section was “Get outta’ here!”, and we

were called upon to say it several times during

the show. The inclusion of the audience

made the show that much better!

For those who wish, there is an opportunity to

purchase some personalized memorabilia

during the show with a mug shot in a fake

newspaper.

Salsa, singing and sweet times

At this beautiful multi floor pub, the evening is

for famillies and the night belongs to singles.

For us with kids, it was filled with dancing and

a three course dinner with dessert.

Although the meals at the Mango’s Tropical

Cafe were standard fare and nothing too

exotic, the dishes were presented well and

service was quick and efficient. My dish, the

mango salmon, was really well done and

delicious. My companions tried the pasta and

chicken, with one enjoying the magnificent

surf and turf steak and shrimp dinner. Desert

was a highlight, with a huge slice of creamy

cheesecake and a rich chocolate lava cake.

The exotic was saved for their amazing list of

specialty cocktails, including enormous glasses

of margaritas and other rum drinks.

The music selection is diverse and the dancers

were very good, it felt like the whole staff really

want you to have a good time. The live

musical set, complete with dancers, costumes

and live band, included Cuban Conga,

Bachata and a mix of dance music. A multilevel

stage with light show and great sound

offered a great atmosphere for the high energy

dinner show which, at several points,

included the wait staff. It was really entertaining.

We especially appreciated the Michael

Jackson dance impersonator who even nailed

the Moonwalk!

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


26

Heading to my destination wedding

in Mexico, my friends and

I were looking forward to purchasing

some new outfits and pieces for the

trip. One of the main reasons why we love

shopping on Lulus and consider it our online

go-to store is because it is a fashionista’s paradise.

You can find anything you are looking

for from shoes to jewelry, bathing suits, dresses,

purses (even vegan), bridal wear, and

much more. Not only do they have a very

wide variety of choices and brands, their website

is well conceived to make your shopping

experience easy and enjoyable. They provide

high quality fashion for all budgets.

One of the best features and easiest way to

shop for various items is their “bestsellers” tab

on the menu bar. Using this tab you can find

products that are presently back in stock, top

rated items, color trends, shop by brand,

going fast, and coming soon. One of our

favourite options in the menu bar is the

“trending” and “shop” tab, which is based on

upcoming holidays, seasons or events (for

example 4th of July fashion, sundresses, wedding

guests, music festival, two-piece sets,

vacation, resort wear, bohemian clothing,

honeymoon shop, etc.). Thankfully, Lulus

makes online shopping worry free as the

clothing is true to size and exactly how it is

described. Another great feature is that clients

can rate each item with stars, write reviews

and post photos. This is very helpful especially

since clothing doesn't fit the same on every

body type.

Most of the bathing suits we ordered were

simple yet beautiful and original. We chose

many different styles of bikinis and were very

happy with all of them. Some of them had

adjustable straps for maximum comfort and

support. Strapless bikini tops were worn a lot

during the trip to avoid unwanted tan lines!

Most of them also had removable shoulder

straps which were delicate and thin. These

Lulus

by Jasmine Morcos & Melissa Saveriano, photos: Lulus

offered the flexibility of a strapless and the

comfort of a regular suit. Most tops also came

with removable cups to provide a little shape

to the bust. The colours and patterns were all

lovely and very trendy, not too bright, not too

subtle. Some of the bikinis also had gold, silver

or beaded accents which made the suit

look way more expensive than the price!

Many of the bottoms we ordered had a

“cheeky” cut which was very complimentary

without being too revealing. Certain suits hit

higher on the waistline giving a very flattering

shape to the hips. Most suits were also lined

so there is no worry about transparency once

it is wet. Throughout the week we went out

snorkeling and none of the bathing suits

stretched out. We also think it is important to


note that after several dunks in the chlorinated

pool and ocean, the colour remained

bright.

We also stocked-up on a few bathing suit

cover-ups. We bought various kimonos, button

shirts, loose vests, dresses and wide

legged pants. Even though these were meant

to be worn on the beach, most of them looked

and felt very luxurious. We were able to wear

these cover-ups over our swimwear and still

look put-together enough to go to lunch.

As the bride, I wanted at least one special

piece that really stood out however was still

practical to re-wear throughout the trip. The

sweet honey white kimono top was the perfect

piece! It has beautiful white lace all the way

down and around the kaftan sleeves. The side

slits and waist tie made it easier to wear the

kimono both on the beach or out for dinner,

offering two completely different looks. I

received so many compliments on this piece,

people would never guess that this item was

less than 75$! Another cover-up was the iIsle

style mustard yellow floral kimono which

looked and felt great! Perfect length and cut.

It was flowy without looking too loose. The

material was lightweight and dried very quickly.

For those who like crochet and bright

colours, we recommend the lemon drop white

multi crochet swim cover-up, it is so beautiful

and perfect for the beach! It had a cute 70’s

bohemian look, which is very trendy! It was

super easy to put on and looked great over all

bathing suits!

Apart from beach items, we needed a

27

dress for my bridesmaids. It can be difficult

and stressful to order a dress for a

wedding online, as you can’t truly see, touch

or try the fit of the dress. Thankfully on top of

offering beautiful pieces at reasonable prices,

they have the greatest and friendliess team of

customer service agents. The customer service

team replied quickly to emails and were very

responsive to my calls. Since I was ordering

many items for my wedding, I was put in

touch with a bridal customer service agent.

She took great care of my order and personally

ensured that I was satisfied with the order.

I can honestly say I’ve never dealt with such

pleasant customer service agents! Thanks to

their help, we found the perfect lightweight

peachy blush colour dress for my bridesmaids

(Air of romance peach maxi dress). It had a

modified halter neckline, with a sweeping skirt

going from a banded waist and falling elegantly

into a maxi dress. The quality and fit of

the dress surpassed our expectations, especially

since we paid less than 100$ for each of

them.

Overall, we greatly enjoyed our experience

shopping at Lulus, we will continue to shop

there and recommend that any fashionista

checks it out!

www.lulus.com

on the go!

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


28

Going Further With

Turkish Airlines

Glowing reviews and exceptional

food are the order of the day for

this up-and-coming airline!

Part of the Star Alliance network, Turkish

airlines (THY) offers service to Canadians

from Toronto and Montreal, and connections

to destinations all over the world

from their hub in Istanbul.

Building on their international reputation,

THY has been climbing the ranks as a top

provider and doing very well in Canada.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

With 200 destinations, and adding new

ones at a rapid pace, THY welcome travellers

with smiles and a friendly hello,

though often with a charming accent!

To help them usher in this growth, THY

has a massive, world-class training center

in Istanbul with numerous simulators.

Pilots, flight attends and support staff are

all trained well and are ready to go after

their courses are done.

Their aircraft include A330s, A340s,

B777s, B737-800s and B727-800s, all

well maintained and laid-out with the customer

in mind. Each section is designed

with creature comforts taking front and

centre. The seats throughout the plane are

comfortable and the facilities are kept

impeccably clean and organized. Most

Business Class passengers can expect

either fully lie-flat seats or angled lie-flat

seats that brings relaxation to a higher

level.

Comfort Class is Turkish Airlines' premium

economy section is highlighted by slightly

larger seats configured in two-by-three-bytwo

rows, a large video screen and entertainment

system with an iPod outlet and a

laptop power outlet for each seat.

Even passengers traveling in Economy

Class can enjoy an above average trip, as

all passengers enjoy the famed THY complimentary

meal. Though multi-course

meals are provided in Business Class on

extended range flights, all passengers are

treated to the award winning food served

on board. Considering that THY deals

with one of the world’s biggest (maybe the

biggest) catering service and are partners

with Do & Co., there is no surprise in the

quality THY can offer!

www.turkishairlines.com


30

Tropical Tidbits

by Sue C Travel


There’s lots of new and cool in the

Dutch Caribbean ABC Islands, and

a great new family resort coming to

Cancun, as well! Let’s have a

look…

New in Curacao

A new Museum of Natural History has just

opened on the grounds of the beautiful lush

forests of ex-plantation Landhuis Bloemhof

(bloemhof means garden of flowers,) just

outside of downtown Willemstad. Now visitors

of all ages can enjoy informational

tours, wonderful interactive exhibits, and

indoor and outdoor activities centering

around the island’s fascinating geological

past. Also, on the grounds is one of the most

incredible art installations in the Caribbean

called “The Cathedral of Thorns”. Local

visionary Herman van Bergen is the creator;

he has been painstakingly building this lifesized

structure from locally sourced thorns

that, when completed, will be an impressive

shrine to religions from all over the world.

It’s a must-see when on island.

Visit: naturemuseumcuracao.com

On the marine life front, the annual

Curacao Dive Festival is returning this year

(Sept.29-Oct.5th) and it will be bigger and

better than ever. The week-long event features

all kinds of underwater adventures,

professional training, gala parties, and

informative conferences, and many resorts

are offering great stay and dive packages to

promote it.

Visit: scubadivingcuracao.vacations

Photo: Stan Bysshe

There’s also a new stand-alone private

island stay owned by luxury resort Baoase

called “Isla Kiniw”. Located off their property

out in Spanish Waters with Table Mountain

as the backdrop, the tiny island hosts one

luxe Caribbean style villa that sleeps up to 8

people with its own private beach, infinity

pool, and access to a private boat, a putting

green, a helicopter pad and watersports

gear. It’s bound to be a visiting celebrity

favorite, especially during the famous

Curacao North Sea Jazz festival.

Visit: baoase.com/villa-suites/isla-kiniw-private-island/

New in Bonaire

Though well known as a diver’s paradise,

Bonaire has not really been on the discerning

diner’s radar… until now! Ever since the

new upscale Delfins Beach Resort added

divine seaside eatery Brass Boer to their

offerings, foodies in the know have been

flocking there in droves to sample the

unique gourmet fare inspired by none other

than Dutch Chef Jonnie Boer and his

Michelin star restaurant De Librije in the

Netherlands. Chef Jonnie and his wife

Thérèse are big fans of Bonaire, so they

decided to bring a taste of their favorite specialties

to its shores. The menu is designed

for sharing, the concept is to choose three or

four small plates each and share them communal

style, and there is also a selection of

dishes specifically designed to be shared by

two. You can also book a private pier dinner

(Table 14) for up to six people, and their

wine list is also top notch.

Visit: www.brassboar.com

New in Aruba

Photo: Delfins Beach Resort

Ever wanted to sleep in a luxury treehouse?

At Aruba Ocean Villas, now you can! The

latest creative stay to be added to their

selection of South Pacific style overwater

bungalows and chic beach villas is a splitlevel

treehouse. The thatched palapa style

abode has a living area, a deep soaking

tub, and even a real piano inside so you can

rock-a-bye your baby in the treetops all

night long. This lovely little boutique resort in

Savaneta now also offers guests complimentary

reef-friendly sunscreen made by locally

owned Aruba Aloe since the island has now

legally banned sunscreen that contains

coral-killing chemicals. See all their seriously

special stay options here:

www.arubaoceanvillas.com

New in Cancun

Opening December 2019, the new Now

Natura Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa will be

the latest AMResorts’ installation to grace

the shores of Mexico’s most popular winter

escape region. When complete, this new

family-friendly all-inclusive resort complex

will offer 556 rooms on its own beach along

with their signature “Unlimited Luxury ®”

program that includes scads of fine food

and drink at numerous outlets as well as

24/7 room service. The new resort will also

have all kinds of cool things for families to

enjoy like a lazy river, waterslides, and a

‘rollglider’ ride, plus their signature supervised

Explorer’s Club and Core Zone Teen

Club will keep the kids busy with all kinds of

fab activities so parents can slip away to

enjoy the signature Spa by Pevonia fashioned

after a tropical grotto. Keep your eye

on their website this fall as there’s bound to

be lots of great opening special packages.

Visit: www.nowresorts.com/natura

31

Award-winning travel journalist

Sue Campbell is based in Montreal but makes it

her business to be on top of everything cool, hot,

and new under the sun throughout the

Caribbean and Latin America.

World Traveler welcomes her as a

regular columnist.

Follow her on

Instagram and Twitter @suectravel

Photo: Ken Theysen

Photo: AMResorts

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


32

Curacao - Beyond the Handelskade

by Susan Campbell

Even for those who’ve never visited

this colorful little Dutch Southern

Caribbean tropical gem, chances

are good you’ve heard or tasted its famous

neon blue liqueur or seen photos of its candycolored

waterfront of colonial houses called

the Handelskade. But there’s so much more

to this island than that. However, some of its

best attractions and most pleasurable pastimes

are not so easy to find, some even hidden

in plain sight like the incredible coral and

resplendent marine life right beneath its

shores! Thankfully there is an organization

that helps you to find all the best dive sites

and operators - DiveCuracao.info is the onestop

portal for everything under the sea like

how to explore the surreal Blue Room sea

cave and the island’s fascinating shipwrecks.

Pocket Neighborhoods

Curacao can be a complicated puzzle of

stand-alone communities scattered all about

the island. But let’s start with downtown

Willemstad that’s divided into two by Sint

Anna Bay. The two sides- Punda (The Point)

and Otrobanda (The Other Side) can be

explored on foot- they are connected by the

pedestrian floating pontoon bridge called the

Queen Emma. But if you really want to get a

taste of local color and culture, head to

Punda on a Thursday night for “Punda Vibes”

– an outdoor festival of local food, dance,

and music. The neighborhood shops also stay

open late that night and it ends in a fabulous

firework display.

Pietermaai Pleasures

Right beside Punda, you’ll find this amazing

colorful little neighborhood which has

become a trendy, foodie, and entertainment

epicentre. It’s a very compact grid of side-byside

venues and I recommend you stay at

Dive Curacao by Stan Bysshe


Pietermaai78 Urban Oasis- a family run

three-storey house with unqiue apartments

and its own manmade little beach and pool

that’s steps away from all the fun. Or, if

you’re more luxury inclined, the Avila Beach

Hotel on the far edge of Pietermaai is the

place. Though this historic Grande Dame

landmark celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this

year, it’s thoroughly modern and cosmopolitan

and they’ve recently dedicated their

romantic “Blues” wing to adult-only stays.

Their two-cove beach is also a beautiful snorkeling

and swimming escape, and their pier

bar “Blues” is the most legendary live jazz

music venue on the island.

Mambo Beach Blvd.

Another self-contained region with something

for everyone is Mambo Beach Blvd., also

close to town. This multi-level entertainment/dining/shopping

beach stretch is party

central almost every night with its scads of

dining and bars. It’s also the home to the

island’s original dive operator and hotel-

Lions’ Dive Resort, and right next door is the

famous Curacao Sea Aquarium. This massive

complex has all kinds of animal encounterssea

lions, dolphins, sea turtles… and even

hand-feeding sharks is an option! And their

new underwater observatory allows you to

see marine life up close without even getting

wet! Families seeking a great affordable allinclusive

should flock to Sunscape Curacao

Resort on the other side of Mambo beach.

The manmade breakwaters make the beach

ultra kid-friendly, and they also have an

excellent Kid’s Club. (And adults will appreciate

their on-site casino!)

Santa Barbara

Another stand-alone region begins about

nine miles southeast of Willemstad. Santa

Barbara Beach and Golf Resort is a sprawling

estate style chic stay on an ex-plantation on

the sea backed by picturesque Table

Mountain (Tafelberg).It’s like its own

destination with a multitude of first-rate

33

rooms and suites, a luxe spa, a comprehensive

water circuit, excellent dining

options (all-inclusive also available), pro tennis

courts, a beautiful beach, and all surrounded

by a word class Pete Dye designed

golf course. They also have a dive operator

and watersports and offer ATV tours of the

wild countryside. But this location is also an

excellent base from which to explore many

other east end attractions like Serena’s Art

Factory where you can make your own

Chichi® doll- the island’s most iconic souvenir,

the Ostrich Farm and Amazonia - a

manmade replica of a rain forest replete with

live creatures that would live there.

West End Wonders

Locals often head west on weekends to enjoy

some of the island’s best beaches like Cas

Abou, and to hike the rugged national parks

around Mt. Christoffel. If you’re seeking a

super ‘natural’ place to stay, head to Mondi

Lodge- an enchanting collection of five

thatched-palapa cottages in a lush forest full

of blooms with its own pool. Eco-friendly and

affordable is the mantra there, and they’re

very close to where a wild flamingo colony

lives, and not far from Kokomo Beachfamous

for its full moon parties. Much further

west, you’ll find a very upscale gated community

called Coral Estates perched cliffside over

stunning aqua seas. Though mostly private

residences, there’s a new tourist-focused stay

there now called Oasis Coral Estate- a hotel

type complex with a luxe spa, pool, wellness

centre, beach bar and a dining room on its

own little beach. It also has a dive operator.

But if you’d prefer to rent your own private

fabulous space there, I highly recommend

Villa Seashell right next door-- a three-storey

fully-equipped four-bedroom luxury home

with views to die for - ideal for small groups.

As you can see there’s a lot more to this

island than pretty colored buildings. See

more about what’s new and cool on Curacao

in my Tropical Tidbits column page 32.

www.curacao.com

Villa Seashell

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Arctic North Atlantic South Atlantic North

Amazon Danube Mekong Nile Rhine Rhône Moselle Seine Yangtze

C r u i s i n g w i t h

W O R L D

Traveler

Come With Us &


Pacific South Pacific Indian Southern Ocean

CRUISING SECTION

Cruise News - pages 36-37

Norwegian Joy - page 40

The Gems of the Seine River aboard the AmaLyra - page 42

Exploring the West Indies with Viking - page 44

The Smooth Cruise on Victory 1 - page 46

China & The Queen Elizabeth - page 48

Cruising in the New Year with Carnival - page 50

When is the Best Time to Cruise? - page 52

Trafalgar’s 10-day ‘3 Continents Cruise’ Adventure - page 54

Cruise Up the Lijiang River from Guilin - page 56

This Photo: Cunard Queen Victoria in Norway

Sail The World!

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

Adriatic Aegean Mediterranean Caribbean Baltic Black South-China Sea


36

AmaWaterways Avalon Azamara Carnival Celebrit

C r u i s e N e w s

Norwegian Joy's Debut In

North America During

Teacher Appreciation Week

Norwegian Cruise Line has recently

awarded cruises to 30 educators as well

as thousands of dollars to their schools

as part of its Giving Joy campaign, an

effort to reward teachers who inspire students

and bring joy into the classroom.

The month-long campaign, which recognized the powerful connection between travel

and education, launched in advance of the newly revitalized Norwegian Joy's North

American inaugural sailing during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6- 10, 2019). The

30 teachers with the most votes won a seven-day cruise for two and the three grand

prize finalists were awarded with $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 for their schools.

www.ncl.com

Cunard Unveils

First Full Season of

Alaska Voyages in 2020

Luxury cruise line Cunard today

announced that it will spend a full

season in Alaska from June

through September in 2020 on

newly-refit Queen Elizabeth.

Cunard is making its grand return

to Alaska in May 2019 – and due

to high demand, the line will double their program in 2020.

This expanded program will offer ten roundtrip voyages out of Vancouver ranging from

nine to twelve nights and one getaway cruise to San Francisco for an overnight stay on

Independence Day. Guests will have the opportunity to take in the breathtaking beauty

of Alaska with the iconic experience of sailing on a Cunard ship.

www.cunard.com

Celebrity Cruises

Takes Delivery of the

First Expedition Mega

Yacht Designed

Specifically for the

Galapagos Islands

The first ship designed specifically

for the beautiful

Galapagos Islands – Celebrity

Cruises’ revolutionary

Celebrity Flora – is preparing to

embark on her transatlantic journey to her new home in the diverse archipelago following

an intimate delivery ceremony.

Celebrity Flora will have the highest ratio of Certified Naturalists per guest (1:9) in the

Galapagos, who will offer travelers an in-depth experience with certification by the

Galapagos National Park, recognizing their extensive educational training and commitment

to maintaining the pristine nature of these islands.

www.celebritycruises.com

John Cannon

Viking Announces New Egypt

Ship and Privileged Access

Experiences for 2020

Viking has recently announced an

expansion of its Egypt program for the

2020 season, which will include the

launch of a new ship. Inspired by the

design of the award-winning Viking

Longships and built specifically for the

Nile River, Viking Osiris is currently

under construction and will double the

company’s owned capacity in Egypt

when it debuts in September 2020. Also

launching in the next year are two new

Pre-Cruise Extensions designed to

enhance guests’ base knowledge of

Egyptology prior to arriving in Cairo.

These five-day extensions to Viking’s

Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary will provide

guests with Privileged Access to

archives and exhibits in London and

Oxford that are not normally accessible

to the public. This announcement comes

as Viking guests continue to express

strong interest in Egypt – and just one

year after the company launched Viking

Ra, a completely renovated vessel and

Viking’s first owned and operated ship

on the Nile.

Viking Osiris

Hosting 82 guests in 41 staterooms,

Viking Osiris will be a state-of-the art

ship with the clean, elegant

Scandinavian design for which Viking is

known – and will join the company’s

other ship on the Nile, Viking Ra, which

launched in 2018. Viking is the first and

only Western company to build, own and

operate ships on the Nile.

www.vikingcruises.com

Royal-Caribbean Scenic Seabourn SeaDream Si


y Costa Crystal Cunard Disney Holland America

Silversea Unveils the Most Elegant Ship

ever to Sail the Galapagos

Italian whispered luxury combined with amazing

expedition experience will redefine luxury in the destination

Silversea unveils new details of Silver Origin, the cruise line’s first ever destinationspecific

ship, which will unlock deep travel experiences for guests in the Galapagos

Islands from the summer of 2020. One of the most environmentally friendly cruise

ships ever and designed entirely with these unique islands in mind, Silver Origin will

combine Silversea’s local destination expertise with the cruise line’s trademark level of

luxury to offer guests the ultimate destination experience.

From summer 2020, the 100-passenger, all-suite Silver Origin will build on Silversea’s accrued know-how in the Galapagos Islands to form

deeper connections between guests and the destination. In addition to the ship’s pioneering

design and guests’ unique experiences ashore – which will be led by Silversea’s

Expedition Team, who are certified by the National Park of the Galapagos – this immersive

concept will see guests enjoy Ecuadorian culture on board, through insightful content,

including daily briefings, lectures, videos, and scientific information; authentic local

cuisine, prepared by expert Ecuadorian chefs; and various other luxurious enhancements.

Offering the highest Zodiac-to-guest ratio in the region, at 1:12.5, Silver Origin

will be a luxurious outpost from which guests will enjoy personalized experiences

throughout the Galapagos Islands. Every aspect of guests’ cruise experiences will be tailored

to take them closer to the authentic beauty of the Galapagos Islands in luxury.

www.silversea.com

Aqua Expeditions Unveils New Fleet Additions

Aqua Blu to sail three coastal destinations in Indonesia

Aqua Nera to redefine Amazon luxury river cruising

Aqua Expeditions, one of the world's most respected boutique luxury cruise line, officially

announces two new additions to its fleet: Aqua Blu and Aqua Nera. Aqua Blu is Aqua

Expeditions' first coastal ship, and the first-ever long-range expedition-class yacht to be permanently

based in the east Indonesian archipelago. Aqua Blu will offer year-round departures

and will begin service on November 16, 2019. The state-of-the-art Aqua Nera, which

will begin service in the Peruvian Amazon on August 1, 2020, will redefine luxury river cruising

in the region.

Aqua Blu: Giving unprecedented access to Earth's most intriguing destinations

Aqua Blu cruises in the heart of the Coral Triangle and traverses the fabled global spice trade route. Itineraries will cover tropical islands

where wildlife, culture and age-old traditions reside, in addition to the world's best diving and

snorkeling sites. The high-performance vessel also features technologically advanced stabilizers

for ultimate guest comfort while navigating or at rest.

Aqua Nera: Setting a new standard of luxury in the Peruvian Amazon

Designed and built as the most state-of-the-art river boat to sail the Amazon, Aqua Nera

will feature luxuriously appointed interiors inspired by her surroundings: the blackwater

lagoons and tributaries of the Amazon River and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. The

design also incorporates intricate accents from the Rubber Boom era and the colorful cultures

of Portugal, Spain and Peru.

www.aquaexpeditions.com

37

Hurtigruten MSC Norwegian Oceania Ponant Princess Regent

versea Star-Clippers Uniworld Viking Windstar


40

Joyous Occasion with Norwegian

by Michael Morcos, photos: NCL

How could anything go wrong on a

ship called the ‘Joy”?

And true to the name, our cruise was a real

joy. Not sure when to stop the puns but they

come so easily and joyously!

The Norwegian Joy is now home to North

Americans after originally being for the

Chinese market. It has been refurbished for

American tastes and pleasures and is ready to

take on the best of Alaska this summer and

onwards to the east coast of the USA.

This is easily the biggest ship I have ever

sailed on and being used to much smaller

ships, including riverboats, the ‘Joy’ is humongous.

But comparing large and small does

not mean better or worse, just different, and

in this sailing, large was good. With so much

to see, there was very little down time and I

wanted to experience it all.

Our sailing was considered a re-launch. We

would board in Vancouver and depart in Los

Angeles with no port days, only sea days. This

was a good thing as port days would have

taken away from the full “Joy” experience.

With a capacity of 3,800 people, it is placed

in the large ship category with mega everything,

like a large theatre, multitude of dining

options, plenty of public spaces on many levels,

a casino, spa center, amusement centres,

golf-putting area, multiple swimming areas,

slides and the most unimaginable, a two level

go-kart race track.

Dinning and bars

You will never starve on the “Joy”. Better put,

you will feast like a king with a multitude of

choices that range from self-serves to sit down

serves at many different restaurants that

include amazing steak houses to Asian cuisine.

My favourites were the Manhattan, Cagney’s

and Fusion for their delicious and fresh sushi.

There were restaurants for everyday eating

and some really special spots.

To explain why I loved the Manhattan Room

the most, I would just say the extra care taken

to accommodate the guest’s specific taste was

a wonderful experience. It offers modern and

classic dishes and is a great choice for variety.


Cagney's Steakhouse is upon reservation for a

good reason. Though steak is the standard,

you can sit on the side and can take a pick

from premium cuts. It is mouth watering, and

you can also order some jumbo crab cakes

and a side of their truffle fries.

The Local was another great spot, and they

offer great and simple classic pub fare in

relaxed atmosphere 24-hours a day. With fish

and chips or burgers, you can also enjoy a

few beers and enjoy a game on a two-story TV

screen.

Extraordinary activities

The cruise liner was built for all tastes when it

comes to pleasurable activities. There was

never a dull moment.

Imagine that you are on a cruise that offers

you a Race Track! Passengers can zoom

around twists and turns in high-powered,

quick go-carts. For imaginative folks, there is

a great arena for Laser Tag. Other familyfriendly

choices include Mini Golf, an Aqua

Park with slides and pools and the Galaxy

Pavilion, an ‘imaginarium’ with immersive

visuals and a larger than-life 3D animated,

interactive video screen.

For adults, there is a fully stocked Casino

offering a wide range of thrilling games for

every level of player. Added to that is the gym,

fitness area, multiple pools, a spa and a

salon.

What a show, (times two)

What a show and what a delight to have had

the chance to view to magnificent live performances,

with the Broadway style presentation

of Footloose and a magical experience

viewing Elements.

Great shows are part and parcel on

Norwegian Cruise Line, and we were lucky to

see their version of the musical Footloose. The

show is based on the popular movie where a

Chicago teen with a love of dancing moves to

small town that has banned Rock n' Roll and

dancing. Fighting the town adults and the

rules, he gets the ban lifted.

The musical is added to their classic show,

Elements, an aerial acrobatics show. This

Norwegian Cruise Line favorite involves the

four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire

and features mesmerizing magic, high-flying

feats and exciting music and dance.

As part of Norwegian's specialty dining performances,

Wine Lovers: The Musical, known

as the world's first wine tasting musical production,

provides guests the opportunity to

taste a variety of wines at a lunch club-style

experience while enjoying a hilarious musical

comedy about the joys of wine and love. The

show will be performed at the Social Comedy

and Night Club with wine served to guests 21

and older.

Norwegian Joy is set to reposition to North

America in late April following an over $50

million renovation that will make her nearly

identical to sister ship, Norwegian Bliss, with

an extended go-kart race track and new dining

and bar concepts. Her first seven-day,

round-trip Alaska sailing from Seattle,

Washington will be on May 4, 2019, and she

will call to both Glacier Bay and Icy Strait Point

during her inaugural season. Norwegian Joy

continues with Panama Canal sailings in

October before offering weekly sailings to the

Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles in

November.

La piece des resistance

It is heaven on earth and on the “Joy” it is

called the Haven. This is a section of the ship

that is reserved for those who are looking for

the small ship feeling but want the many features

found on much larger ships. Very attractively

priced, they rival the smaller ships with

capacities of 1000 or less passengers.

In the Haven, there are concierge serves and

a privet elevator to get you to your suit without

waiting with the crowds. This is especially

helpful when getting to ports and back again

on ship in a limited shore times. Additionally,

the Haven guests have their own private pool

and sunning area and still have the whole

ship at their disposal.

The Joy is a versatile ship tailoring to a multigenerational

family. Mom, Dad the kids and

ever the grand parents will all have something

to experience and enjoy on this beautiful ship

the “Joy”!

www.ncl.com

41

Photo: M. Morcos

Photo: M. Morcos

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


42

The Gems of the Seine River aboard the AmaLyra

Seeing France through a Mother's Eyes

by Ilona Kauremszky

Losing a loved-one is always difficult.

We lost Dad five years ago. He

never saw Paris and only saw the

waterfront of Le Havre as he made his flight

to Canada in 1957, leaving behind his

war-ravaged homeland of Hungary that

was pitted in fresh bullets from the 1956

Hungarian Revolution.

My mum had never seen Paris either.

But I have been blessed with many visits to

the City of Light. For me, each trip has been

filled with magical discoveries. Now it was

time to kick-start Mum's Paris journey and

to explore France through her eyes.

This past spring we embarked on a river

cruise that took us from the Haussmannbuilt

Paris streets north to the Gothic shrines

of Normandy. I researched a variety of river

cruises but kept circling back to AmaLyra's

itinerary, amenities and included excursions

provided by a top river cruise line company,

AmaWaterways.

Known for its unforgettable river cruise

experiences, the award-winning cruise line

has made spring-time river cruising a special

occasion for all its guests. We know. We

were among them. Mornings began with

cappuccinos, our favourite coffee always

promptly provided by the attentive restaurant

staff. Daily tours were led by knowledgeable

guides and the evenings turned

into festive events thanks to the talented

pianist Mike who tickled the ivories, playing

a dueling harmonica and guitar simultaneously

even singing pop songs.

I confess as a birthday girl whose bonne

fete happened during our trip my sweet

tooth was deeply satisfied with two birthday

cakes presented in fine cruise fashion on

separate occasions. One night during supper

at The Chef's Table specialty restaurant

I shared my cake with other dinner guests.

Another evening around our circle of dining

friends, the plumpest chocolate mousse

cake made its grand entrance ushered in

by a singing cast of crew.

As avid gardeners and lovers of joie de

vivre (Mum and I anticipate each dining

affair with eager eyes and empty tummies),

we reserved the all-inclusive tours best suited

to our interests. On board the AmaLyra

our affable cruise manager Melissa assisted

guest inquiries. I pre-booked our excursions

and was pleased to have done this.

On boarding day, there was more free time


to settle into our cabin and spend quality

girl time aboard the ship as we later beelined

to the lounge for afternoon coffee

and cakes.

At the outset I hoped the trip would help

Mum and I deal with the 5 year hump in

our loss. Dad was her Fred Astaire. “I'll

never dance again,” she once remarked

soon after his death. She also leaned on

him for everything.

But in this remarkable cruise I feel those

sentiments have changed. I saw a gal in

her golden years blossom. We laughed

together, sang songs together, and even left

our lounge seats to dance the night away.

The first ones to arrive to the lounge and

yes, on one evening, among the last to

leave. That was the night our unstoppable

group won the “Name That Tune” contest.

On our cruise, we saw guests who arrived

as strangers leaving as friends. A couple

from California befriended Mum soon after

we boarded. On our first excursion in Les

Andelys, a cruise guest took her arm on the

snaky hilltop path by the Chateau Gaillard,

a 12th century castle built by Richard the

Lion-Heart. She soldiered on atop the hill's

spine confident with each stride. These

thoughtful moments from cruise passengers

recurred throughout our sail.

In Le Havre, we awoke to a misty morning,

hallmarks of a bristle-speckled canvas only

Monet could master. The Impressionist

artist whose childhood was spent in Le

Havre was renowned for his paintings of

the region including Rouen's Cathedral of

Notre Dame and Honfleur. His most

renowned paintings are of the idyllic water

lilies in Giverny. We eagerly awaited for our

excursions to all these extraordinary places.

Our ship sailed into Vernon, the port of call

on day six on a sun dappled mid-morning.

We hopped inside a spacious motor coach

to explore countrysides of spire-like columnar

trees and bucolic vistas dotted with

cows in meadows worthy of Impressionist

art.

In Giverny, we were overjoyed to finally

explore Monet's world. Beneath an overpass

we passed a bumbling brook to stroll

along a footpath that announced, “Monet's

House and Garden.” With our green

thumbs itching we plunged into the

“Garden of Gardens” immersed in a bouquet

of springtime perennials. The darling

buds of late March popped their fragrant

heads atop Monet's apple trees. Rows upon

rows of other green shoots sprouted by the

footpaths.

“Smell this – look at these, how beautiful,”

said Mum in no particular order at each

turn. The eternal natural beauty left by

Monet has been lovingly preserved by a

crew of gardeners, all of whom were busy

on scene.

Uninterrupted we skimmed our hands over

the Japanese footbridge at the water lily

pond immortalized by Monet. We posed for

photos. We smiled and hugged some

more.

The historic estate, which was Monet's

home for 43 years is open for tours and is

a must-see. Mum and I headed inside without

the crowds to discover rooms that

appeared as if the great painter had just

stepped outside to inspect his garden. Early

spring is a fine time to immerse in the world

of Monet – no shoulder-to-shoulder

crowds.

In Vernon we toured the Chateau de Bizy, a

French chateau, saw rare furniture pieces

from dining table chairs to accent chairs

ironically familiar to us. “We have these

styles at home,” relayed Mum, noting her

own exquisite taste in fine furniture.

In Rouen we took our foodie senses on a

culinary walking tour and scoured the

medieval streets in search of chocolate

making, Norman cheeses and cider which

are among the region's gastronomic specialties.

The area is renowned for creamy

cheeses and apple orchards.

Back on board, during our entire week,

husband and wife Paul and Merrill

43

Bonarrigo of Messina Hof Winery led

various wine seminars. We poked our

noses inside glasses, smelled the fruity aromas

and rich bouquets of his winery's

award-winners and toasted some more.

The couple happily encouraged us to enjoy

the pairings with assorted cheeses and

dark chocolates. We did.

In Paris, the City of Light strengthened our

soul. By day we were off to the Notre Dame

de Paris Cathedral. The scope of this

Christian landmark captivated us. Its

ancient doors were open to everyone as the

masses poured into this sanctuary. Mum

gasped in sheer wonder over her. We both

kneeled and said a prayer for Dad. Sadly,

we are among the last visitors who were

fortunate to see the heart of Paris,a

UNESCO World Heritage site, before the

devastating inferno wiped out the cultural

symbol.

By night, Paris invigorated our senses even

more. After our farewell dinner and

evening entertainment, our captain

announced a surprise best viewed on the

sun deck. We sailed up the River Seine as

an indigo sky splashed soft colours over the

city. By the Grenelle Bridge on the Île aux

Cygnes, the AmaLyra stood still like a musical

conductor anticipating the next orchestral

note. Suddenly on cue, the Eiffel Tower

instantly transformed into a glittering golden

jewel box of gems.

Seeing the shimmering sight of Paris'

beloved tower like so many other moments

during our cruise left us breathless. Mum

was mesmerized in the City of Light. “This

Paris...is so beautiful,” she softly murmured

watching the dazzling display.

The AmaLyra had worked her magic.

AmaWaterways features 7-night

Paris-Normandy river cruises including

optional wine cruises onboard the AmaLyra.

www.amawaterways.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


44

Exploring the West Indies with Viking

by Johanna Read, TravelEater.net

There’s something irresistible about

the Caribbean. The air smells of the

sea and sunshine. Palm trees sway

next to white sand beaches and candycoloured

buildings. But how to choose which

island to visit?

For those who are indecisive, or just want to

see it all, Viking Ocean Cruises’ West Indies

Explorer is an excellent choice. Their 11-day

cruise visits nine different islands in the eastern

Caribbean Sea, each with a different

culture and microclimate.

Viking’s 930-passenger ocean ships are

more like luxury boutique hotels than crowded

cruise ships. Initially known for its river

cruises, Viking is growing to explore the

world’s oceans too.

Johanna Read

Viking’s oldest ocean ship, the Viking Star,

was built in 2015. By 2027, the company

will have 16 vessels exploring the world’s

oceans, in addition to their current count of

72 river vessels.

Eleven days, nine islands

You can visit nine different islands on the

West Indies Explorer, but up that count even

higher if you book shore excursions to smaller

islands like Nevis and Barbuda.

The 11-day cruise begins and ends in San

Juan, Puerto Rico. Repaired after 2017’s

Hurricane Maria, San Juan’s colourful streets

welcome visitors to shop, eat mofongo (a

garlic plantain dish), and drink rum cocktails.

Viking includes a free excursion in

every port. In San Juan, it’s a walking tour to

historic Fort San Cristobal and through Old

San Juan’s blue stone streets.

Another stop is the British Virgin Islands’

Tortola, where an optional excursion goes to

The Baths on Virgin Gorda. You can climb,

walk and swim between piles of immense

boulders that create mysterious grottoes and

turquoise pools.

St. Kitts and Nevis is the western hemisphere’s

smallest state and its two islands

are ideal for sailing and snorkelling. Ride the

only double-decker rail cars in the world and

see the rainforest or, on Viking’s included

tour, explore Basseterre’s botanical garden

and Victorian architecture.

The cruise also visits the Commonwealth

countries of St. Lucia, Barbados, and

Antigua. Excursions include a Caribbean

cooking class, painting class, cave tour,

cricket museum, sailing, snorkelling, and

beach time.

A lesser-visited island, Dominica, is also on

the itinerary. This lush country is known as

the Caribbean’s Nature Isle. Its nine volcanoes

bring natural hot springs and even the


opportunity to snorkel through what seems

like Champagne. Dominica also has whale

watching, river tubing, waterfalls, and a rich

indigenous culture to learn about.

Viking docks on the Dutch side, in

Philipsburg, of the two-country island of Sint

Maarten and St. Martin. Popular with shoppers,

you can also race on America’s Cup

yachts, take a perfume class, or snorkel

above a purposefully-sunk submarine and

helicopter.

Before returning to Puerto Rico, Viking’s last

stop is St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

Explore Charlotte Amalie’s colourful buildings,

duty-free shopping, and Blackbeard’s

Castle, or go sailing, snorkelling, or kayaking.

On board: Is a Viking Ocean Cruise right for

you?

Viking recently designated its sailings for

adults only. The cruise line caters to people

who are knowledgable about the world and

often well-travelled. They’re friendly and it’s

easy to have a conversation, if you choose,

with the people sitting next to you at dinner.

With 930 passengers, you’ll keep meeting

new people but also run into familiar faces.

The mood aboard Viking is the perfect combination

of relaxed sophistication with attention

to detail. There are no casinos, lineups,

formal nights, pre-arranged dining companions

or times, sales pressure, nickel and

diming, or any of the other things you might

associate with large mass-market cruise

ships. Crew members are quick to smile and

very good at anticipating your needs.

The dress code aboard is casual -- there’s

no need to pack an evening gown or suit

jacket, though men should wear trousers

and collared shirts in the evenings.

Staterooms

Each stateroom has a veranda (an ideal spot

for breakfast, in your provided robe and

slippers). Standard rooms have a king or two

double beds, as you specify, with luxe linens.

There’s also easy chairs, a desk, a stocked

Johanna Read

mini-fridge, plus a full closet. An interactive

42-inch LCD television has on-demand

movies, live TV, and cruise information.

Bathrooms are surprisingly large with heated

floors, a glassed-in shower, and lots of storage.

Housekeeping comes twice daily.

There’s free wifi throughout the ship.

Dining

Viking Ocean ships have several dining venues,

including 24-hour room service. All are

without additional charge. The Restaurant,

open for breakfast and dinner, is à la carte.

The dinner menu changes nightly, often with

themes linked to the current port, with a

handful of favourites always available. The

World Café is a buffet restaurant with

indoor-outdoor seating. Don’t miss the

seafood feasts, with giant crab legs, ahi

sashimi, and much more. The nearby Pool

Grill has a small buffet and grilled-to-order

meats and fish all afternoon.

For snacks and smaller meals, passengers

can visit the Viking Living Room, Mamsen’s

(made-to-order waffles with fresh berries are

a top breakfast draw), and, for afternoon

tea, the elegant Wintergarden. Restaurants

requiring dinner reservations are Manfredi’s

for excellent Italian, and The Chef’s Table,

which has a rotating tasting menu of international

dishes.

Viking takes food allergies seriously, but

crew members go out of their way so passengers

don’t have to worry about it. No

request is too much trouble. Servers are very

knowledgable about ingredients and consult

chefs to be absolutely sure dishes are safe

for each individual’s needs. Those with allergies

receive a detailed dinner menu the

night before from which they can make their

next-day selections, with chefs adapting

dishes as needed. The galley has special

equipment, including a pasta maker, that is

protected from gluten.

Drinks

Unlike many cruise ships, Viking includes

many beverages in their regular fares. At

lunch and dinner, beer, house wine, and soft

drinks are all free, as are specialty coffees

and teas throughout the day.

For those who want to sample all of Viking’s

great cocktails and wines, the Silver Spirits

package is a great deal (the cost varies by

cruise length). With the package, almost all

drinks on board are free, including premium

wines and alcohols, as well as the premium

wine pairings for the Chef’s Table. Drinks

are also available à la carte, with most beers

at $5 and cocktails around $7.50 US. Don’t

forget to pop into Torshavn after dinner for

aquavit.

Onboard activities

Vacations are about relaxing and

recharging, and Viking gives you plenty of

opportunity in their large spa. Unlike with

many other cruise lines, access to Viking’s

Nordic spa is free (there is a charge for massages

and other treatments).

In each dressing room, you’ll find a Finnish

sauna, plunge pool, plus areas to relax. In a

central area, with access for both sexes, are

heated lounges, a warm mineral pool

framed by a fireplace, jetted hot tub, and a

steam room. A bucket shower and even a

Snow Grotto complete the Nordic hot-cold

cycle. Next door is a large gym with sea

views plus a beauty salon.

There’s more exercise equipment on the top

deck and even a putting green. Deck 2 has

a jogging circuit. Though more for dipping

than for exercise, there are two swimming

pools, each with a hot tub. The main pool is

under a glass retractable roof, so you can

swim if it’s raining (or cruising the North Sea

in winter).

For those who want to sit back and relax,

Viking shows movies (listen with headphones)

under the stars at the main pool.

Don’t want to miss an important sports

game? It’ll likely be on the big screen too.

Viking’s Chairman Torstein Hagen called

Viking “the thinking person’s cruise” and the

ships have regular enrichment discussions

by Viking Resident Historians and guest lecturers.

Topics range from turtle conservation

to astronomy to pirates. Ted Talks are

rebroadcast throughout most days in the cinema.

Evenings often have a live performance in

the main theatre; the ABBA and show tunes

singalongs are especially popular. Some

evenings have dancing. Live music -- piano,

violin, cello, guitar -- is found in several

locations afternoons and evenings.

www.VikingCruises.com

45

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


46

The Smooth Cruise on Victory 1

Article and Photography by Steve Gillick

Captain Gary Kerr of the Victory 1

Cruise Ship, part of the fleet owned

by the American Queen Steamboat

Company, has an endearing quality about

him. His distinct Sean Connery-esque,

Scottish accent, along with his personable

nature and sense of humour identify him as

one of the key components of the Great

Lakes Grand Discovery Cruise.

Captain Gary joined me on the sundeck of

the ship while I was taking photos one afternoon.

When I asked about the attraction of

this particular cruise, he began by saying

that “on the big ships you would hardly ever

get the meet the captain” and then he

explained that the passengers, mostly ‘very

experienced travelers’, like the idea of

exploring their own backyard and that the

simple shore excursions allow the passengers

to learn, socialize and appreciate each

destination.

Later, just prior to our visit to the Niagara

Region, Captain Gary congratulated the

passengers in Cabin 311: “You’ve just won

the draw. You get to go over Niagara Falls in

a barrel”. He then thanked his multi-national

staff in front of all the passengers, with

pauses to allow for applause, mixed with

‘bravos”. In fact, a hallmark of the Victory

1’s charm is the friendly crew. I chatted with

Lourdes the head bartender on several occasions

about her home in the Philippines and

the delicious foods that I enjoyed on a visit

there several years ago. The Martinis that

Lourdes concocted (shaken, not stirred)

would have impressed any James Bond or

Sean Connery!

The Victory 1 began its journey in Chicago

on Lake Michigan, headed north to Holland-

Musekgon, then up to Mackinac Island

before entering Lake Huron to explore Little

Current on Manitoulin Island. A stop in

Detroit followed, as well as another in

Cleveland, before cruising to Port Colborne,

Ontario for visits to Niagara Falls and

Niagara-on-the-Lake. The ship then traveled

through the Welland Canal locks from Lake

Erie to Lake Ontario with disembarkation on

the last morning in Toronto.

On this abbreviated trip, we would get a

taste of the Great Lakes Discovery Cruise,

joining the ship for the Detroit to Toronto

portion. With thoughts of stormy lakes and

howling winds, I prepared myself for the

worst, with sea bands around my wrists and

Photo: Victory


medication, just in case. But I needed none.

The cruise was smooth as silk.

The Victory 1 is a ‘small cruise ship’ with a

capacity of only 202 passengers, so it was

easier than expected to meet and chat with

fellow travelers. The ship was launched in

2001 and after few ownership and name

changes it was introduced in June, 2016 as

the first vessel of Victory Cruise Lines. While

the ship can do 13 knots, John Waggoner,

the President and CEO of American Queen

Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise

Lines, noted that they prefer to keep the

speed around 10 knots to avoid any undue

vibration from the engines and thereby maximize

the comfort of the passengers.

Photo: Victory Cruise Lines

Waggoner mentioned that the average age

of the guests was 70 years old, plus or minus

10 years. “It’s an experience for people

looking for enrichment and learning on our

great shore excursions, and having a desire

to spend time with other passengers.

Overall, it’s for people who want to explore

their own backyards”. Waggoner suggested

five top benefits of small ship cruising: 1) As

most customers are U.S. based (with some

Canadians) there are no long transatlantic

flights involved. 2) Passengers feel safe on

board. It’s a small ship which means greater

attention to detail—people get to know your

name, and those with less cruise experience

are not overwhelmed by the experience 3)

There are no language barriers. “The extrafriendly

crew speak English” 4) There is no

need to exchange currency. All the shore

excursions take American dollars (although

some prefer to bring Canadian for the

Ontario stops) and 5) there are many cruise

opportunities to travel around the world—

and many of the Victory 1 passengers have

done so, but there are much fewer cruise

opportunities that allow you to stay close to

home. “This is one of them”.

Peter and Margaret, passengers from

California certainly backed up what

Waggoner mentioned. “Margaret doesn’t

like long flights so this was the ideal trip

where we could fly into Chicago one day and

board the ship the next morning. We like the

idea of not having to unpack our suitcases

all the time as well as the casual nature of

the cruise (there are no formal dinners). But

the best part is that we love traveling around

the United States. It’s quite diverse and there

are so many different regions to explore. The

shore excursions on this cruise are very

good. We’ve seen a lot”. Peter and Margaret

smiled when they spoke about the crew as

‘the unsung heroes’. “They’re from all over

the world. They’re very attentive to our

needs”.

Each day of the cruise a copy of “The Daily

Voyager” is delivered to the passengers to

keep them informed about the next days’

events and shore excursions.

In Detroit we visited ‘The Henry Ford’, which

according to our tour guide, is the second

most visited museum in the U.S. after

47

the Smithsonian. Displays of historic

cars include a 1903 Ford Model A, a

1931 Bugatti Convertible and an absolutely

stunning deep purple 1949 Mercury convertible.

In addition there is “The Sunshine

Special”, the very first official Presidential car

built for Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 and on a

more sombre note, there is the 1961 Lincoln

Continental in which President John F.

Kennedy was assassinated. But aside from

cars, the exhibits cover railroads, airplanes,

American furniture, and even Star Trek!

Trekkies can enter the “Khaaaaaan” Booth

and after watching a scene where Captain

Kirk reacts to a threat from the villainous

Khan with a horrific yell, guests can imitate

the scene on video, wait for the system to

“amplify the Shatnerosity” of their performance,

and then see themselves actually

imbedded into the Star Trek experience.

The Detroit Institute of the Arts was no less

impressive with the iconic Diego Rivera

murals and a magnificent art collection that

covers the gamut of history from a 562 BCE

tile painting of the Babylonian Mushushshudragon,

to works by Picasso, Rauschenberg

and Warhol.

In Cleveland we visited the Wade Chapel in

Lake View Cemetery, designed by the stain

glass master, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Then,

after viewing the amazing collection of the

Cleveland Museum of Art, we explored the

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to interact with

Robert Johnson, Elvis, The Beatles, David

Bowie and other music icons.

The shore excursion in Niagara Falls featured

a good dousing from the Canadian

Falls for passengers on The Hornblower

cruise, and then a pleasant visit to the shops,

flowers and historic homes in Niagara-onthe-Lake.

The Great Lakes Grand Discovery adventure

on Victory 1 is a relaxing, social experience

with good food, comfortable cabins and a

showcase of exciting close-to-home shore

excursions, accomplished through the

smooth, comfort of a small, friendly cruise

ship.

www.victorycruiselines.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


48

China & The Queen Elizabeth

Part of A ’Round-the-World Cruise

by Lisa TE Sonne

Sipping coffee in the realm of teas, we

sat on a balcony, cruising past little

islands woven in morning mist. We

were approaching the tall modern buildings

of Hong Kong. Wooden fishing boats

bobbed below and tugboats headed toward

us, ready to guide the 12-deck high MS

Queen Elizabeth to this thriving international

metropolis.

My husband and I were entering our final

port while living out an “Around the World

Cruise” fantasy – well, one leg of the trip,

anyway.

When Victor saw that Cunard line’s elegant

MS Queen Elizabeth was offering balcony

suite cabins for a five-day Shanghai to Hong

Kong cruise, at very attractive pricing, we

quickly booked. We may not have the time

and funds right now to take one of the full

“Around the World Cruises” offered by many

lines, but we could happily fill a cabin for a

trip segment. Often, globe cruisers choose

different ports to begin and end their voyage,

creating openings with some bargainpriced

luxury.

It was a trip of contrasts. We were short-term

among passengers who were long-term, and

we were making short visits to places with

long histories. We were going from the

white-gloved, art deco graces of the Queen

Elizabeth -- a glamorous nod to an earlier

era of travel -- into some of the most modern,

densely-populated cities on the planet.

Yet amidst a high-rise forest, there could be

a temple six centuries old with monks chanting

(and tourists taking selfies).

We were entering Chinese harbours under a

British flag, but the buildings on the horizon

were taller than those of London, in contrast

to past history. Our cadences also had contrasts:

we would have a day onshore of wonderful

sensory overload with throngs of people,

followed by an unwinding day at sea,

ordering room service and lounging alone

on our balcony as scenery glided by.

While “at sea,” we could have gone to lectures,

classes, auctions, parties, played croquet,

swum in pools, or been massaged at

the spa. We elected to go to afternoon

English tea in the ballroom with live classical

music, and delectable teacakes -- a good

contrast to the tea we had enjoyed with spicy

rolls as the only Caucasians at a lively

onshore Chinese shop.


Shanghai

Shanghai was a vibrant place to start our trip

-- a city of more than 26-million people. We

arrived days early in the embarkation port in

order to acclimate to time changes and

weather, get our bearings, and ramp up at

our own rhythm before the start of our cruise.

Shanghai’s hop-on, hop-off bus system with

English maps made it easy to pace ourselves

and wing it, choosing from many parks,

museums, shopping centers, as well as specific

districts like the waterfront Bund with its

colonial architecture. The buses are also

good for watching the city’s pulses of traffic

and pedestrians, as well as looking ever up -

- especially at the futuristic Pudung skyline,

including the pink-sphered Oriental Pearl TV

Tower.

Photos: Cunard

We woke in our hotel with a view of people

of all ages doing a kind of choreographed

tai chi among trees and flowers in the

famous People’s Park (formerly the British

Race Club, in the 19th century). By contrast,

a short night walk took us to a bustling area

of shops that seemed to be trying to outdo

Las Vegas in neon signage.

Xiemen

Cruising south through the Taiwan Strait took

us to the island world of Xiemen. Few buildings

in this city of several million people were

tall, skinny rectangles. Highrises reached

skyward teasing gravity with some swooping

or angular creativity.

For a sense of context, we signed up for the

“Traditions of Xiemen” shore tour that included

museums, temples, and parks including

one with caves where religious figures were

placed. (Diverse excursions were offered by

the ship’s team - from private to group - but

none were included in the price of the

cruise.) This was one of those “wear a numbered-sticker,”

follow-the-guide-with-a flag,

bus and walking tours, but we were glad to

see and to do what we could in a short period.

For more personal interactions, we

asked one of the local guides to lunch. We

let him pick the restaurant and food, as we

picked his brain to learn more about modern

China.

We learned that this city had once been the

center of the British tea empire, until India

provided cheaper teas. Now it was an international

banking center with rapid growth of

population, commerce, and imaginative

buildings.

Hong Kong

What a great complex of geography and culture

to enter by ship! After sipping our coffee

on our balcony, we enjoyed a 360-degree

walk around the lovely deck, with stimulating

views in every direction.

For our selected tour, we took a sky-tram to

where a giant Buddha looked over the land.

We ambled through a shopping promenade

that seemed quite capitalistic and was literally

bullish –horned cattle walked freely.

We also enjoyed a several-course

lunch in an area adjacent to an ancient temple

- with incense, robed monks, and a sense

of old mystery.

When we look back at our trip, some of the

images that stand out most were the moving

ones projected on the skyscrapers at night as

if to say ‘our buildings are our screens; the

future is here now.’

Around the world again

Until I can actually circumnavigate, I would

go by segment again. It can be a travel bargain

and the people you share meals with

and take classes with can be fascinating, full

of tips and tales. When we boarded in

Shanghai, most of our fellow passengers

had already shared Japan and Australia on

this voyage. We spoke to one passenger who

had been around the world five times on

cruises.

According to boat officials, there were several

people onboard who had circled the

globe by ocean twelve times. Such cruises

appeal to travelers for a variety of advantages

including the convenience of not needing

to repack and wait in lines at airports, the

assurances of a home-base that is clean,

safe and well-organized, and the pleasures

of being at sea in a personalized suite within

a floating city of more than 2,000 passengers,

with multiple amenities and entertainments.

After seeing Shanghai, Xiemen, and Hong

Kong a la MS Queen Elizabeth, Victor and I

felt like we had consumed appetizer-size

tastes of both around-the-world cruising and

three fascinating urban ports of Asia. We

took the contrasts of our trip home with a

broader view of the world, and a deeper

sense of life’s possibilities in our times.

www.cunard.com

49

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


50

Cruising in the

New Year with Carnival

by David J. Cox

Years ago, our first cruise was a quick

jaunt through the Florida Keys, our

second was during Christmas…this

time would be an extra-special one as we

would be celebrating New Year’s Eve at sea

in the Bahamas!

Cruising cuisine

The 4-day cruise included everything that the

Carnival brand has become known for and

our ship, the Liberty, is filled with crowd

pleasers.

The two main dining halls, the Silver and

Golden Olympia rooms, are classy and lovely

to look at with their rich decoration

schemes. After a private tasting with the head

waiter and sous-chef, we were able to

choose from a second-to-none menu with

meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian options for

every dinner. They also presented a wonderful

New Year’s brunch in the stately restaurants.

For the informal diner, there was the attractive,

well-stocked and ever-popular buffet for

all three meals, as well as an ice cream station

that kids flocked too about as much as I

went to the free coffee machine.

There were omelet and Mongolian Wok stations

available, and extremely popular. Many

other dining options could be had, including

burgers and fries, a sushi stand, a taco and

burrito bar as well as pizza, sandwiches and

a delicious Seafood Shack.

Our preferred palate pleaser was an evening

meal at the Diamond Steakhouse. With a

choice of delicious and sophisticated food

choices and a vast wine list, this was an


WT Photo Library

exceptional dining experience we fully

enjoyed. We shared the smoked oysters, beef

tartare, lobster bisque and a great French

onion soup as appetizers.

Luckily, our party each chose something different

as an entree, and so we got to sample

the restaurant’s lobster, filet mignon,

shrimp and Dover sole and everything was

fantastic.

The dessert was presented by the chef himself,

and was a collection of sweets placed

artfully on a white plank and glazed with

sauces and creamy delights. It was very

unique!

Floating fun

For outdoor and physical fun, there are three

pools, many hot-tubs (including several

adults-only), a water slide, spa, gym, basketball

court, jogging track and mini-putt.

Inside, there is an arcade and games room

for the young, full casino, dance club, theatre,

comedy club, and multiple bars for

adults.

The entertainment ranged from a string trio,

piano bar, karaoke and a solo guitarist to a

full band. Nono, the Cruise Director, also

provided fun evening testing couples in a

great version of the newlywed game. Three

couples, married 50 years, 3 years and

recent newlyweds, were asked ten questions.

The answers got the crowd laughing and giggling

throughout the game.

Most evenings we could also enjoy a pop

and popcorn while watching movies on the

giant LEDV TV on the main deck, but comedy

and musical shows were the best options

in my opinion.

The two comedians on board had original

material for multiple PG and 18+ shows,

and the Venetian Palace theatre was turned

into a shrine to American rock and roll with

the last evening’s “America Rocks” music,

dance and light hour-long tribute.

Day tripping

With two full sailing days, we needed to take

advantage of the two days we were docked

in Nassau and Freeport.

In Nassau, we enjoyed the islander’s New

Year’s Day parade which was a wonderful

Kaleidoscope of color, feathers and music.

Our group then split up, with two of us deciding

to soak up the sun on the white sandy

beach and enjoying a great afternoon in the

clear blue waters and under the shadow of

swaying palm trees with Margaritas in hand.

The other two decided to head off to

“Aquaventure”, at Atlantis Paradise Island

with its high-speed water slides, long river

ride with rolling rapids, 20 swimming

areas, a kids water-play fort and 11

swimming pools.

Next day we stayed near the ship, as beach

excursions were quite pricey and we were

quite satiated with the Nassau beach. We

instead went shopping in the bustling marketplace

at the Freeport market, enjoying

food and the local ambiance.

New Year’s Party

The New Year's Eve countdown party was all

day long and was a highlight of our cruise.

Throughout the day the ship was bursting

with activities and music. Our morning started

with a brunch in the Olympian dining

rooms. After that we headed up to the 9th

floor where guests could write their New

Year’s wish and place it into a balloon that

would later drop with hundreds of others at

11pm onto the Lobby below.

The evening offered a $3000 jackpot Bingo

and one of the best ship-board musicals I

have seen – “Flick”. Dance, video and song

honored the silver screen and the power of

motion pictures, wonderful choreography

and the show was well produced and a lot of

fun.

Up on the main “Lido deck”, free

Champagne flowed. As midnight

approached, almost the entire ship’s contingent

of passengers and crew were crowding

the deck dancing and enjoying the vibe. It

was a noisy, fun and great way to countdown

and ring in 2019!

When we returned to our cabin, we were

greeted with complimentary chocolate

dipped strawberries and a nice bottle of

champagne.

Final thoughts

The main take away from our voyages on

Carnival Cruises, this being our third, is how

content the staff seems to be. From porters to

kitchen cooks to help desk agents, all greet

guests with a welcoming smile.

www.carnival.com

51

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


52

When is the Best Time to Cruise?

by cruisecritic.com

Photo: Crystal cruises

It's one of the most common cruising questions:

When is the best time to cruise

Alaska (or the Caribbean, Canada/New

England, Hawaii or Europe)?

The answer depends on many variables. Fall

foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find

September and October the best time to take

that Canada/New England cruise, whereas

water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer

to sail the region in the summer when

school is out and temperatures are warm for

swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska

will vary depending on your preferences for

viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping,

sunshine, warm weather and catching the

northern lights.

The first step is to consider the factors that

influence your timing. Do you need to schedule

around school breaks -- or want to avoid

kids? Is a holiday week the best time for your

cruise? Is your main goal to escape frigid

temperatures at home? Or maybe you have

lots of flexibility (or a tight budget) and don't

mind making a few trade-offs in timing for a

steal on a cabin. Your answers will influence

which sailing season is your best bet.

For most cruise regions, there are periods of

peak demand (high season), moderate

demand (shoulder season) and low demand

(low season). Not so long ago, high season

tended to be when the weather was best in a

particular area (and when all the Northerners

flocked to the sun). But as more and more

families take to cruising, the summer months

have become a peak-demand period,

regardless of the weather (at home or in the

region). Families especially need to book

high-season sailings as early as possible

because some cruise lines limit the total number

of children per sailing, and each ship has

a limited number of cabins that can accommodate

three or more people.

Slow and shoulder seasons yield the most

bargain opportunities in year-round destinations.

In places like Alaska and Bermuda,

where you have a five- or six-month sailing

season, the off-season is a few weeks after

cruises begin and before they end. For

regions like the Panama Canal and Northern

Europe, almost all sailings are priced "in season."

The following is a partial list of cruising

regions and the best time to cruise them.

Alaska

High Season: June through August

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season:

Temperatures are at their warmest (highs:

50s to 70s Fahrenheit), plus the further into

the summer you are, the better your chances

of seeing wildlife on the various expeditions.

The downside: Demand is so strong, you

need to book months (better yet, a year) in

advance to get the best land and tour packages.

Keep in mind, with so many ships sailing

Alaska now, there can be a tremendous

amount of congestion in small-town ports. To

minimize joining the masses, select a ship

that sails during the week. For a pricing

advantage, northbound glacier routes tend to

be cheaper than southbound.

Low Season: May and September

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season:

Shoulder-season perks include smaller

crowds and cheaper prices as a result of the

weather gamble (highs: 50s to 60s) and the

possibility of snow. May sailings typically

encounter less rain than summer cruises, and

the scenery is arguably more beautiful with

more snow-capped mountains; September

cruisers benefit from end-of-season souvenir

bargains and a possibility of catching the

northern lights. A few caveats: Shore excursions

have a greater chance of being canceled

than in high season, especially boat


call and a challenge getting to ports of

embarkation as the ship alters course to

avoid the storm. Even if your cruise isn't

impacted, you can still experience rain and

rough seas.

53

and helicopter tours. In addition, Denali

National Park has been known to close in

September due to snow.

Caribbean

High Season: Late June through August;

Christmas and New Year's weeks; February to

mid-April

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: The two

main groups of cruisers sailing in the peak

season are families off from school and

Northerners seeking a respite from the cold.

School holidays are a great time to sail with

kids -- children's programs are in full swing

and they're available even on lines that don't

normally cater to kids. Plus, it's easy for children

to make friends onboard.

Keep in mind that prices are higher, especially

when you add winter flight delays that can

be time-consuming and costly (though fourseason

cruising to the Caribbean from multiple

homeports in the Northeast, Southeast

and Gulf Coast means residents of those

areas can save money by driving to their

departure ports). Plus, the summer cruise

season coincides with hurricane season,

though the storms don't start to peak, usually,

until mid-August.

During spring break, when thousands of people

are flocking to Florida resorts and cruise

ports, you will have to think about booking

your airline tickets almost farther out than

your cruise; prices can be high. People looking

for peace and quiet away from kids will

want to avoid break weeks like the plague, as

ships are at their highest capacity, which

means crowded ports and mega-ships run

amuck with rowdy kids and teens.

Low Season: Late April through May;

September to early January (excluding holiday

weeks)

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: The

biggest benefits are the great weather and

smaller crowds, usually at hundreds less per

person than you'd pay at peak times. The fall

especially is a great time for last minute availability

and bargains. Hurricane season (June

through November) still poses a threat; if a

storm is brewing somewhere in Florida or the

Caribbean, it can mean a change in ports of

Europe River Cruises

High Season: April to October

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: A flotilla

of specially designed river ships and cruise

barges offers a unique and port-intensive

experience for travelers who want to see

more of Europe's heartland, especially in

spring and fall. Spring can mean flowers in

glorious bloom (favorites are the spring Tulip

Time cruises though the Netherlands and

Belgium), but also keep in mind that heavy

rains and early-spring flooding can make the

rivers swell and the locks impassable.

Conversely, summer temperatures can cause

the rivers to dry up, making it impossible for

boats to move. If these weather events happen,

you'll be taken to the sights by motorcoach.

While some cruises will tailor port itineraries

to families, don't expect to see as

many -- if any -- kids there as you do on the

bigger ships, even during the summer.

Low Season: March; Late November and

December

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season:

Most European river and canal ships operate

seasonally and shut down in January and

February. When operating, however, the

cruise itineraries are not weather dependent,

so a March sailing means you get to enjoy

the castles, cathedrals and quaint shops without

the summer crowds. Many river lines also

offer Christmas market cruises in November

and December to Germany, Austria and

Eastern Europe. The weather can be bitterly

cold, but for shoppers and Christmas-lovers

it's a unique way to experience the charming

seasonal markets along the riverside.

Mediterranean

High Season: May to September

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Both

European and American families flock to

many of the summer sailing dates (especially

in August), making for a nice cultural mix of

passengers and plenty of onboard, kidfriendly

activities. The tradeoffs are bigger

crowds, higher prices (both cruises and airfares)

and steamy temperatures that may sap

your sightseeing energy. You may find restaurants

and other establishments closed in

August, which is when much of Europe goes

on holiday. September is an increasingly

popular time to cruise the Western

Mediterranean because you can avoid the

school kids and still enjoy warm temperatures.

Low/Shoulder Season: October through April

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season:

Early-spring and late-fall sailings offer the

advantage of more competitive fares and

fewer crowds in port. Plus, the weather is

often mild (though March and November can

be rainy). A very few ships actually remain in

the region year-round; look for lower fares

and cruises to the warmer regions of the

Mediterranean, such as Spain, Morocco and

the Canary Islands.

Northern Europe

High Season: June through August

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Northern

Europe is at its loveliest during the summer

months, with ports that line the Baltic Sea and

Norway's fjords. Temperatures are balmy

(even occasionally steamy), skies are generally

sunny, and the cities turn themselves

inside out -- life is lived out of doors, whether

it's getting out on the water or sipping beers

at sidewalk cafes. On the flipside, summer

cruises to the Baltic are often among the most

expensive Europe cruises out there.

Low/Shoulder Season: May and September

Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Kids

are back in school, ports are less frenetic,

and the weather -- and foliage (whether

spring-like or autumnal) -- can be lovely in

late spring and fall. Temperatures might be a

bit more brisk at those times, but you'll avoid

summer crowds, and cruise fares tend to be

lower.

www.cruisecritic.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Trafalgar’s 10-day ‘3 Continents Cruise’ Adventure

Travellers looking to bypass a

European Summer escape in

lieu of the magic of off-peak

travel will be thrilled with the announcement

of Trafalgar’s Autumn, Winter and

Spring (AWS) trips. With 37 itineraries

across 27 countries, the brand connects

travellers with Europe’s best experiences,

people, and destinations with these yearround

and Winter specific itineraries. With

a selection of tried and tested favourite

trips on offer again for 2019/2020,

Trafalgar is proud of announce five brand

new trips in line with guests demand for

more year-round Europe including the following

cruise:

Trafalgar’s new 10-days 3 Continents

Cruise covering Cyprus, Greece, Turkey,

Israel and Egypt, is sure to please the

lovers of ruins, relics and sites. Combining

passion for ancient history and culture

with a relaxing sea voyage, guests will

encounter timeless wonders, sophisticated

seaside ports and the diversity of the

Eastern Mediterranean. Arriving to the

land of myths and legends, gods and

goddesses, philosophers and politics,

guests will take a step back in time, and

join a ‘Local Specialist’ for a journey into

antiquity. They will ‘Dive into Culture’ on a

guided sightseeing tour of the Acropolis

that will reveal the wonders of ancient

Athens such as the Parthenon, the

Acropolis and Agora and admire the

march of the curiously clad Evzone guards

at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Crossing the Mediterranean, guests will

sail on the calm waters of the Aegean

towards the North African coastline.

Guests can sit back, relax and stroll

through the ship’s expansive promenade

or enjoy a cocktail or two at one of the

elegant bars and lounges during a full

day at sea. Arriving at sun rise to

Alexandria, the ancient capital of Egypt.

Travellers will ‘Dive into Culture’ on a


guided excursion to the only remaining

Wonder of the Ancient World, the Great

Pyramid of Giza. Leaving the desert

behind, guests will travel to the cacophony

of Cairo, where they will see some of the

most famous historic monuments such as

the Cairo Citadel, Cairo Tower and

Mosque of Muhammad Ali, before rejoining

the cruise in Port Said.

Journeying east, guests will arrive in

Ashdod, the gateway to Jaffa, Tel Aviv,

Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Exploring the

holy landmarks in Jerusalem, including

Temple Mountain, the Wailing Wall and

the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and

visit the birthplace of Jesus Christ,

Bethlehem. Guests can embark on an

‘Optional Experience’ to Israel’s most

famous religious sights and cultural highlights,

from trendy Tel Aviv to the ancient

port city of Jaffa, before rejoining the

cruise and travelling to Cyprus.

The sophisticated seaside port of Limassol

emerges on the horizon! Spend the afternoon

exploring the medieval Old Town or

stroll along the seafront of promenade

and cobbled streets to the old fishing harbour.

Guests can decide on visiting the

Prokymea Sculpture Park to admire the

works of Cypriot, Greek and international

artists, or sit back at one of the seaside

cafés and savour a Cypriot coffee before

boarding the ship to continue on thier

onward northern journey.

Arriving in Rhodes, one of the most popular

vacation destinations in Greece travellers

will explore the beautiful beaches

and centuries-old history! From the

medieval Old Town of Rhodes, with its

thick stone walls, ancient ruins and

Crusade heritage to embarking on a

medieval tour of the ancient Lindos

Acropolis and Citadel of the Knights – the

possibilities are endless. Travellers will

rejoin the cruise in time for dinner and

depart for Kusadasi.

In Kusadasi, the gateway to the ancient

Greek city of Ephesus, guests will join an

included excursion to the UNESCO World

Heritage Site, home to the Temple of

Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the

Ancient World. Strolling along the marble

colonnades to Hadrian’s Temple and the

Great Theatre, carved into the side of Mt.

Pion and later consider spending time

exploring the vibrant Turkish seaside setting

with a stroll along its seafront promenade,

before returning to the ship for an

evening dinner.

Returning to Athens, travellers will be

transferred to a hotel, where they will have

the full day to spend at leisure – to simply

relax or explore. Stroll through the Plaka,

spend time watching people go about

their day in Syntagma Square or go in

search for the city’s tastiest souvlaki,

washed down with the local raki. During

the evening, travellers will join fellow travel

companions for a rousing celebration to

toast to a fantastic three-continents journey!

www.trafalgar.com

55

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


56

Cruise Up the Lijiang River from Guilin, Pearl of Southern China

by Habeeb Salloum, M.S.M.

Located in the middle of one of the

world’s most natural-stunning landscapes,

Guilin has long laid claim

to having the most beautiful scenery in

China. The city with a population of close

to one million, a small city by Chinese standards,

is encircled by a countryside of

weirdly shaped Karsts - bizarre stone

forests with many formations appearing

like camels, elephants, horses, lions and

upside-down ice cream cones. It is a fairytale

world of strange-looking hills, tra-

versed by clear and sparkling waterways,

several of which meander through the city,

as well as spectacular caverns of stalagmites

and stalactites in endless shapes and

forms.

This landscape of unusual limestone hill

formations was created over millions of

years ago when the region emerged from

a seabed. The spectacular Karst tableau

was formed by erosion from wind and rain,

resulting in the unique landscape one sees

today. It is an eerie appearing countryside,

captivating all who travel to this part of

China.

Since 1973, when the area was opened to

visitors, the tourist industry has grown until

today it has become second to agricultural

products as the mainstay in Guilin’s economy.

What the Chinese call the ‘most beautiful

attraction on the face of the globe’ or

‘heaven on earth’ is drawing thousands of

tourists from both inside and outside

China.


For centuries, artists and poets have been

fascinated by the sheer splendour of the

panorama, giving them the inspiration to

produce excellent works of art therefore

transforming Guilin into a cultural city.

According to a Chinese saying, Guilin’s

atmosphere and scenery are the ‘first

under heaven’.

One gentle autumn day I found myself in

the midst of this amazing landscape when

the Sweet Osmanthus were in bloom and

their fragrance saturated the air. It seemed

that these perfume-defusing shrubs were

everywhere. They were so numerous that

they have given their name to the city

(Guilin mean forest of Sweet Osmanthus).

After an hour’s drive south of Guilin, our

WT Photo Library

group of eleven climbed aboard a riverboat,

docked with many others on the 437

km (271 mi) Lijiang River, for a cruise. The

usual cruise offered is usually for 83 km

(52 mi), but we had come in late autumn

and the water in the river was very shallow.

Hence, we had to take a bus to Yang-Ti, a

village overshadowed by the Karst-shaped

hills. The spot is considered to be the most

breathtaking sight on the Lijiang River -

called by the Chinese a ‘blue ribbon of silk’

and the dominating hills ‘hair pins of jade’.

Now as our boat began to move down

stream through a natural art gallery, I

looked around me. It was truly an awesome

sight. The forest of green upsidedown

cone-like shaped hills with their

peaks hidden by mist created a magical

landscape that had an eerie appeal.

Between this forest of rocks, we made our

way until we came to a wide section of the

river beyond which a shallow part barred

our way. We anchored in this pleasant spot,

overshadowed by a sheer cliff rising

abruptly above the water. On its face were

extraordinary likenesses of horses in different

positions: one bending to drink, another

lying down, while still another one galloping.

Soon, one after another, the cruise boats

anchored around us until we were surrounded

by some 60 boats, all serving

lunch at the same time. Every spot on this

section of the river appeared to be taken -

the waters totally covered by tourist boats.

Munching away on a dozen dishes of

Chinese food prepared on the boat, I

looked up, “Want snake wine? Very good!

Very good for health!” I could not believe

my eyes; the man had a gallon of wine with

a snake inside filling up about half the bottle.

“It’s horrible! Take it away!” One the

women in our group seemed upset.

The man left but, undaunted, returned a

few moments later with another bottle.

“Penis wine! Very tasty penis wine! Penis of

animals in wine, very good for men!’ I

almost choked on my food. Everyone

appeared stunned. Seeing that there

was no interest, the man departed.

However, after he left, jokes were bantered

around then two of our group followed the

man and bought bottles. Sure enough, the

labels indicated that penises of animals

were among the ingredients. “This penis

wine will make a great conversation piece

at one of my parties”, the young lady who

had bought one of the bottles grinned.

Sailing upstream, as the sun began to slip

on the horizon, the forest of stone hills,

overshadowing us, began to appear like

ghosts at times or as men, while at other

times as beasts. It was a scene that kept us

company until we disembarked at Yang-Ti.

The next morning, after a 20-minute bus

ride, we were walking through the Ludi

(Reed Flute) Cave - one of the 3,000 caves

in the region. An awesome cavern, made

tourist-friendly, with a dazzling variety of

stalagmites and stalactites, it is the most

spectacular of the caves.

We walked through this largest cave in the

area along a zigzagging path through a

fantastic world of rock formations bearing

a striking resemblance to animals and

other natural works of nature. Under

coloured lighting, they appeared like a

wonderful wonderland of gardens,

orchards or whatever else one could imagine.

At the end of a 500 m (1640 ft) manmade

trail, as we walked out from a world

of strange shapes and eerie shadows, a

rock, formed by nature, in the shape of a

lion, with even a white fang, bade us adieu.

On the way back, reflecting on our river

trip and the Ludi Cave, I thought of the

wonderful few days that we had spent in

Guilin amid its forests of stone. It was an

incredible interlude during our trip to

China. After our explorations, it became

apparent to me that the travelers who had

labelled Guilin, the ‘Pearl of Southern

China’ had a point.

www.tourismchina.org

57

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


60

Luxury Hotels...Grand Resorts...Charming B&B...Opulent Villas...Quaint C

Sweet Dreams Around the World

Stay & Play Section

The Wild Hotel in Mykonos

A Property That Lives Up to It’s Name

by Olivia Balsinger

Some hotels live up to their name more accurately than others. The Wild Hotel on

the Greek island of Mykonos is one that does just that—allowing the wild, strikingly

stunning nature surrounding it to show her glory. Raw and pure, the hotel is situated

in an area of the island that feels incredibly isolated—a rarity on an island that

has had such a reputation for over tourism.

Another reason the hotel’s name fits it so perfectly is because of the history of the

area: the beachfront village that The Wild Hotel overlooks was once dubbed “the

wild ones,” as it was inhabited by Mykonos’ bravest fisherman at one period, risking

their lives in the fierce seas.

Though there is much that is wild about the hotel, there are aspects of it that remain

calm and relaxing. The spa, for instance, indulges guests with Greek Therapeutic

methods, as well as a plethora of other holistic methods that are new to the treatment

world.

Another certainty of relaxation at the hotel is retreating to your suite or villa each

evening, following a day of Mykonos exploration. With handmade woven floors,

beds made of soft linen and a simple yet classic aesthetic, the rooms providing a

calming contrast to the wild nature that guests view from their windows. The beachfront

and the swimming pool overlooking the Aegean Sea area also a mecca of

relaxation, where decompressing and rejuvenation are key.

When energy levels need to be replenished, a meal at the hotel’s taverna, a traditional

Greek restaurant that caters delicious dishes of the Cycladic islands, is a must

stop. Menu favorites include stuffed tomatoes, vine leaves and fresh fish—all

doused with a pure olive oil, of course.

www.thewildhotel.com

Athens’ Secret Gem

The Foundry Urban Boutique Luxury Hotel

by Olivia Balsinger

Having spent much time in Athens,

the bustling capital of Greece that is rich in

history, hospitality and mouthwatering gyros,

I have had my fair share of hotel experiences.

But this visit, I decided to try something entirely

different and stay at The Foundry Urban

Boutique Luxury Hotel, a quaint gem composed

of twelve different apartments, in the

historic neighborhood of Psyrri.

I quickly realized I had found myself

an urban sanctuary in the heart of Athens,

much more charming and cozy than the larger

hotels I was accustomed to. The apartments

truly defines sophistication, with high

grade materials like steel, glass, wood, marble

and stone - intricately woven together in

a dually classy and charming aesthetic. Each

of the twelve rooms boasts its unique charms

- but all have the woven similarity of design

elements - high ceilings and hardwood

floors, dominated by calming earthy tones

that brighten with a splash of color. While the

interior’s aesthetic is effortlessly elegant, one

of the real treasures of the property is found

upstairs, on the roof. The sensational rooftop

garden is the ideal place for a fresh (and

crowd free!) perspective overlooking the city

of Athens, in all her glory.

Traveling with my boyfriend, I found

the picnics that the hotels set up to be especially

romantic, drinking wine in the evening

and watching as the Parthenon lit up into its

magnificent glory. The hotel also provides

breakfast options—there truly is no better

way to begin a day than by overlooking the

sleepy city slowly wake. All apartments come

with free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast

(which can be enjoyed on the roof) and a

best price guarantee. There is not a better

spot in Athens to feel like a Greek God or

Goddess than the Foundry Urban Boutique

Hotel.

www.thefoundryhotelathens.com

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61

top bar with pool was perched above the city

with lounge chair views of this historic capital

and the Sierra Mountains in the distance.

Another oasis was the hotel’s spa, an

authentic Asian wellness centre, where Thai

masseuses expertly stretched and unknotted

every muscle.

Gran Melia Colon, Seville

Location: Like its Madrid counterpart, the 5-

star property was also right in the center of

this captivating city in the south of Spain. At

its doorsteps were churches, boutiques and

the Mercado de Artesania (a large two-story

craft market). And a 15-minute walk away

was the Alcazar and the Seville Cathedral, a

gothic behemoth that had us picking our jaw

off the cobblestone streets.

Artistry and Luxury Reign at These Two Flagship

Gran Melia Hotels in Madrid and Seville

Spanish art and culture are woven into

the DNA of Gran Melia hotels

throughout the world, but nowhere

was it more evident than when staying in the

birthplace of this discerning hotel group.

Both the Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques

in Madrid and the Gran Melia Colon in

Seville reflected the essence of the cities

themselves, welcoming us with 5-star luxury

and modern comforts.

Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques, Madrid

Location: Situated in the center of the city on

a quiet street, it was the ideal location to

explore Spain’s capital. The Royal Palace,

one of the city’s most impressive attractions

at twice the size of Buckingham Palace, was

a mere five-minute walk away. Also nearby

by Jennifer Merrick

Madrid

was Peurta del Sol (the city’s main square),

San Miguel Market and a slew of restaurants

and shops.

Ambiance: The theme of art was prominent

throughout the hotel with reproductions of

renowned Spanish artist, Velazquez, in every

room and public areas. The décor in the

160 rooms and 20 suites was also artistically

styled but never at the expense of comfort.

Especially notable were the plush, luscious

beds with goose feather pillows.

Bragging Rights: The hotel lived up to anything

you could ask for in a 5-star property

in terms of amenities, impeccable service

and the dining experience in its restaurants.

But there were a couple of areas in which the

hotel raised the bar even higher. Their roof-

Ambiance: Art was a focal point here as

well, with each floor being dedicated to a

different Spanish artist and famous paintings

adorning the doors. The dramatic

lobby stood out with reds and golds under a

stained glass dome and crystal chandelier.

This elegant aesthetic was also reflected in

the 189 rooms and suites, but designed with

warmth and comfort, including modern

touches like USB outlets, HDMI sockets and

a Nespresso machine.

Bragging Rights: The views! When I opened

the window from our bedroom, I was greeted

with bright sunshine and a panoramic

vista of the enchanting city of Seville. From

the living area, the colourful Magdalena

Church was a few feet away. Gran Melia

RedLevel service went above and beyond

with perks like a private buffet breakfast,

snacks throughout the day and an open bar.

As a landmark and a focal point, the hotel

has attracted its fair share of famous guests.

We were there during the Goya Awards,

which is the Spanish equivalent of the

Oscars, so we had the extra treat of gawking

at the ultra-glamourous in all their finery.

www.melia.com

Madrid Seville Seville

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Advertorial

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Puntacana Resort & Club offers a wide

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Puntacana Resort & Club is home to 6

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Bay, the AAA Four Diamond awarded

Bamboo blends modern cuisine with

Mediterranean influences. Specializing in

local seafood, The AAA Three Diamond

Award La Yola is located at the Marina. At

La Cana Golf & Beach Club is The Grill,

an American style grill offering views of

the sea. The Westin Puntacana Resort &

Club provides a variety or restaurants and

bars from Ananí to Brassa Grill. Next door

is Playa Blanca, a beachfront tropical

restaurant. Our Dine Around Program

offers the best sampling of our finest culinary

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shuttle service within the resort.

More dining options are available at

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We believe that in development there

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with vision, hard work and perseverance,

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Punta Cana International airport

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ),

built, owned and operated by Grupo

Puntacana, the resort’s developers, and

located within Puntacana Resort & Club, is

just minutes away from check-in at any of

our hotels or private homes. Punta Cana

International Airport (PUJ) has direct service

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Our VIP terminals service the needs of

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www.puntacana.com


64

Le Narcisse Blanc Hotel Spa

by Ilona Kauremszky

Tucked away on a leafy street between

the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides in

Paris lies this Haussmann-designed

six-story building filled with Parisian charm

and luxury.

Le Narcisse Blanc Hotel Spa, part of the Small

Luxury Hotels of the World collection, is one of

the French capital's best kept hotel secrets.

Like the romantic Left Bank on which it

resides, the five-star boutique property's interior

is inspired by a mysterious muse named

Cléo de Mérode whose spirited ways as a

Belle Epoque ballet dancer became the 20th

century's first “It Girl.”

Cléo captured the imagination of artists, writers

and composers like Degas, Proust and

composer Reynaldo Hahn who gave her the

loving nickname, “Pretty Little Narcissus.”

Now one of the newest hotels to open in the

7th District, Le Narcisse Blanc is inspired by

this beautiful muse.

Immersed in floral motifs, the luxury hotel

incorporates the energy, charm and the discreet

hospitality that only the Parisian have

perfected to a fine art. Experience fine service

with a modern nod to the esoteric femme

fatale. One of the finest places to imbibe in

the Cléo theme is in the Petit Salon styled as a

cozy sitting room. Flanked by fresh florals like

blush pink tulips and other seasonal flowers,

a demure female portrait overlooks patrons

as attentive hotel staff ensure seamless service.

The accommodations which are spacious by

Parisian standards evoke a sophisticated timeless

ambiance matched by the soaring ceiling

and an exquisite window treatment framed by

long lavish drapes as streams of sunlight

reflect off the double beds. Guests enjoy

bespoke ensuite amenities like the haute custom-made

toiletries created by an expert parfumier

and devilish chocolate petit fours upon

arrival. Rooms are available in various categories.

Dine in a sophisticated atmosphere at Cléo

and sip on wines from Chateau Soucherie.

The Loire Valley-based domaine owned by the

hotelier stocks the upscale eatery with fresh

light white, bold red and rose wines for dining

guests. Other French vintages are available.

The only boutique hotel in the area to house

a pool and a hammam spa, robed hotel

guests can arrive via a private elevator to the

lower floor or use the spa's fully stocked

change room. Relax in the hot tub, steam and

dry saunas then take a dip in the pool and

enjoy the Art-Deco inspired spa in gleaming

white marble with furniture designed by Paris

design firm, Laurent & Laurence.

For sightseeing, veer off the side streets like

the Rue Saint Dominique to enjoy local sumptuous

fine dining and elegant boutiques.

Cruise guests departing from Paris on a Seine

River cruise will find the quais of the major

cruises a short taxi drive away.

For the ultimate Paris sleepover experience

true Parisian sophistication and elegance in

the heart of the capital, a night at Le Narcisse

Blanc is a must.

www.slh.com/hotels/le-narcisseblanc-hotel-and-spa

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


65

The Hotel Rosita, Puerto Vallarta

Article and photography by Steve Gillick

It’s rare to have someone describe a hotel

check-in as “magnificent” but that’s

exactly how we felt when we arrived at the

Hotel Rosita. A few people were ahead of us

in line so the staff suggested that we relax in

the lobby lounge for a few minutes. Having

just arrived in the city, we opted to stand in the

open section of the lobby under the deep

blue, sunny sky. Overhead, several

Magnificent Frigatebirds were floating,

swooping and gawking at us as if they were

checking out the newcomers. ‘Magnificent’ is

actually part of the formal name of these

huge seabirds, known for their characteristic

tuning fork-shaped tails. It was a mesmerizing,

almost surrealistic scene.

Within minutes, Marcelo Alcaraz, the General

Manager and Cezar Zepeda the Sales

Manager came by to extend a personal welcome,

and while standing in front of a painting

that depicts the Hotel Rosita in 1948 when

it became the very first hotel to be built in

Puerto Vallarta, Marcelo noted that in those

days, before the advent of indoor plumbing,

each of the hotel’s eight rooms had a large

container filled with water so that guests could

take their showers.

But a jump ahead to 2019 shows that the current

115 room, three-star property has enthusiastically

responded to the demand for comfortable,

tastefully decorated accommodation.

Attached to our large ocean view room

was a balcony that overlooked the hotel pool

area and allowed for us to watch beachfront

activities, listen to the sounds of soothing

ocean waves and view stunning sun rises and

sun sets.

And then there is the Malecon, the ocean side

boardwalk that pretty well begins at the Hotel

Rosita and stretches one kilometer (roughly

3000 feet) south along Banderas Bay. Our

greeting at the hotel included a personalized

list of attractions and activities in the city,

along with a guide to the famous sculptures

that are part of the celebrated Art Walk along

the Malecon.

For travelers who love to immerse themselves

in the energy of the city, the Hotel Rosita is

perfectly located. Just outside the hotel

entrance is, well…everything: souvenir shops,

restaurants, bars, fast food, coffee shops,

local art galleries and, not too far away, is the

iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and

the charm of Old Town. In the evening the

crowds converge along the Malecon to stroll,

eat at food stalls and pose with a host of colorful,

creative buskers.

But the hotel is also a short walk north around

the curve of the Bay to Versailles, where delicious

foods inspired by local street cuisine are

a draw for locals and visitors. The Bahia

Tostado at Lamara Seafood and the Shrimp al

Pastor at Abulon are reason enough to

explore the area. And in the nearby Zona

Hotelera lies what is possibly the worst kept

culinary secret in the city: the amazing

smoked Marlin Tacos at Tacon de Marlin.

The Hotel Rosita is a great place to stay with

a relaxing ambiance that includes sunset

bliss, Magnificent Frigatebird-amazement

and very friendly staff who greet you as a

friend.

www.hotelrosita.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


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Divi Little Bay Beach Resort

St. Maarten’s Legendary Landmark Reborn

by Susan Campbell, photos:Divi Resorts

Divi Little Bay Beach Resort was one of the

first to take the setback of Hurricane Irma

as an opportunity to refresh, revitalize and

reimagine their entire visitor experience.

And there’s never been a better time to holiday

there than now.

Fresh New Vibe

The unique location and layout of this resort

on the Dutch side of St. Maarten give guests

two different choices of views. Either perched

on a peninsula cradling one side of Little Bay

with rooms facing the lovely white sand

beach, or out to Great Bay where you can

watch the cruise ships come and go in the

distance. All the units have been recently

completely refreshed, top to bottom- but still

bear the signature brightly colored tropical

accents and art throughout that’s a Divi

trademark at all their resorts. Some of the

larger suites have state-of-the-art kitchens

and large entertaining areas if you don’t

want to opt for their all-inclusive plan, but

the on-site dining is extensive and eclectic

giving you lots of options should you prefer

to dine on the property as well.

Among the many recent improvements is the

renovation of the Indulgence by the Sea Spa,

a newly reopened Aqua Mania water sports

center, a new gourmet coffee shop, a new

kid’s space and game room, and an

absolutely stunning new water circuit which

will become the epicentre of enjoyment at

this resort. The expansive circuit cascades

down the hill to the sea encompassing three

pools- one an awesome infinity design- and

it’s crowned on top with an inviting bonfire

nook for evening escapades. Personally, I

could spend all day doing nothing but

switching up spots to enjoy the multiple liquid

luxury options- including dips in the seathen

just rinse and repeat right up until dinner

time.

Exciting New Dining

At all Divi Resorts, the “pure” cuisine concept

means sourcing locally whenever possible

and changing menus continually to offer up

the very best fresh, seasonal ingredients

available. There are now five restaurants

and a café at Little Bay, their pureocean

main dining room has been beautifully

revamped, and there are two new spots for

fun and casual dining. The first is The Shack

featuring Caribbean BBQ, jerk, roti and the

like, and a new interactive dining experience

called pureroc where guests are invited to

cook their own food on sizzling hot lava

rocks. Incredible!

Though much is new now at this legendary

landmark St. Maarten resort, I’m happy to

say that some things haven’t changed at all.

There’s still crazy camaraderie and live

music at Gizmo’s Beach Bar & Grill on the

sea and the same warm and friendly staff I

remembered well is still there ready to welcome

you back.

www.diviresorts.com/divi-little-baybeach-resort-st-maarten.htm

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


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The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Victoria’s Best Kept Secret

by Susan Campbell, photos: The Magnolia Hotel

TTucked away on a quiet corner, and

a very short walk to Victoria’s lovely

Inner Harbour, is a stellar luxury

boutique stay well worth seeking out. And it’s

easy to miss. Though the structure is only 20-

years-old, it was designed to blend in beautifully

with the restored heritage buildings lining

the streets, so it doesn’t jump out at you

as being a modern hotel. But once inside,

you’ll see why some folks might want to keep

this spot a secret. With only 64 rooms, this

award-winning hotel can book to capacity

quickly. And I guarantee, once you stay there,

you’ll want to return. I know I do. Here are

few reasons why.

Inviting Ambience

The day I arrived, Victoria’s damp drizzle had

me seeking warm refuge. So, I was delighted

to discover the big cheery fireplace in the

lobby, but even more excited to discover that

my luxurious corner suite also had its own

fireplace. And the deep soaking tub with topshelf

bath amenities was also very welcome.

Wrapped in their signature soft robe and

slippers and cozy in an overstuffed arm chair

after my soak, it was hard to leave. But, I’d

heard that their brand-new restaurant had

just won some prestigious mentions on “best

of” lists, so I had to dine there.

Outstanding Dining

First, lets talk about the bar. The bottom floor

of the new Courtney Room restaurant is

dominated by a massive bar stocked with

some killer good mixologists. You can

instantly tell that these guys take their libations

seriously since their work station looks

more like an apothecary counter than a bar

set-up- there’s even a spray bottle for misting

absinthe! So, I asked then to surprise me with

one of their signature cocktails. The result

was an interesting shade of mauve due to the

locally made Empress 1908 purple gin they

used.

Next, it was up to the more upscale dining

room. Though the menu is small, what they

do, they do very well. The focus is on classic

French style twists on locally sourced ingredients

and proteins. I thoroughly enjoyed my

steak, it was done to perfection, and the

seafood tower at the next table looked excellent,

too. But to truly experience the talent

and creativity of this culinary team, it’s recommended

you try the “Chef’s Tasting

Menu”- five courses of seasonally inspired

dishes with an option to pair with wine and

caviar. Next visit, I will do so. I will also take

time to visit their on-site spa.

Thoughtful Extras

The beauty of staying at a boutique spot is

often the personalized service. And the staff

here really went above and beyond and they

offer many ways to make the stay more

enjoyable. The “Curated Maps” program is a

prime example. They’ve created hard copy

maps along themes like “Bikes, Beer &

Blooms” or “Beautiful Boutiques” with all the

spots to visit in the immediate area. They also

give guests complimentary bikes to help

them explore the surrounding attractions with

ease.

www.magnoliahotel.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


70

WT Photo Library

Vernon, BC: Okanagan Playground

Article and photography by Jennifer Merrick

Our bike ride along the

newly-opened Okanagan

Rail Trail, a 50km multiuse

pathway that ran from the north end

of Kalamalka Lake to the center of

Okanagan Lake in downtown Kelowna,

took much longer than expected. It wasn’t

because we had to catch our breath. At

1.3% maximum grade, it was pretty much

flat. Nor did we have any mechanical

issues. The bikes arranged by outfitters at

Predator Ridge were in top shape and the

extra-wide tires perfectly suited to the wellgroomed

gravel trail. The weather was

also ideal, with the Spring sunshine warming

us at a time when ice still covered the

sidewalk outside my Eastern Canadian

home.

So why did the bike ride take so long?

The views! Every time we turned a corner,

a gorgeous vista appeared before us with

mirror-like glacial lakes reflecting the

peaks of the Monashee Mountains that

surrounded them. We’d stop, take out our

phones, snap a few pictures, get back on

our bikes and pedal until the next look-out,

which was inevitably more photogenic.

And once again we’d stop…well, you get

the idea. It was all just too picture-perfect

to resist.

Though the bike trail is new, the

Okanagan Region, located in south central

British Columbia, attracts Vancouverites


and tourists from around the world, who

come for its wineries, fruit orchards,

mountain activities and Lake Okanagan.

At 135 kilometers in length and over 232

metres deep, this glacial lake has long

been a natural playground, known for its

fishing, beaches and famous cottagers.

Celebrities, like Elton John and Arnold

Schwarzenegger --not to mention a slew

of NHLers, own vacation homes in the

region can be spotted at the restaurants

and golf courses, too.

After visiting Vernon, one of the three

main hubs around the lake along with

Penticton and Kelowna, we now understood

the region’s magnetic appeal. And

we know why so many visit to play in the

lakes, romp in the mountains and taste

the bounty of the fertile land. Here were

some of the highlights:

O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars

One of the newest winery and culinary

destinations in the region, O’Rourke’s

Peak Cellars prides itself on its aromatic

whites and pinot noir The wines tasted

even better paired with the expansive

views of the orchards, vineyards, mountains

and Lake Okanagan. Much of the

food served was hyper-local. “Here you

could almost call it the five-mile diet,” said

our waiter, noting the meat on our charcuterie

board was from the farm down the

road and the vegetables in our salad

grown in their vine-side garden. I was

impressed, but apparently this is not

uncommon in the Okanagan, which has

879 farms, 430 orchards and 200+

wineries. But one of the most popular

menu items had a little farther to travel.

Lobster pizza is a best-seller and rightly

so, delicious paired with the riesling.

Downtown Vernon

To DREAM is to see BEYOND the horizon

and to know that we are CAPABLE of anything

our hearts DESIRE.

This quote that hangs on the wall of Hot

Bread Shoppe in downtown Vernon was

the inspiration for owner Carolyn Grant,

who at age 60, despite no previous experience,

decided to open a bakery.

“It something I wanted to do for 40

years,” Carolyn told us. A dream come

true for her and a treat for any customer

that walks through the door, and luckily,

that was us. The aroma of freshly baked

bread was heavenly as were the

baguettes, sourdough bread, cinnamon

buns, and croissants.

Other independent businesses we came

across on our downtown stroll included

toy stores, candy stores, antique and consignment

shops, ethnic restaurants and an

historic 1929 movie theatre.

More Culinary Highlights

Unique venues were not limited to downtown,

and we had some tasty Vernon bites

in eateries like Intermezzo Restaurant.

Though known for Mediterranean classics,

seafood and steaks, the menu has continued

to expand over the years. A new signature

dish is the Moroccan lamb made

with a combination of 21 different spices

and housemade mint jelly. Delicious. And

instead of an after dinner candy mint, we

were presented with chocolate-covered

fresh mint leaves, which was a lovely finishing

touch to our fine meal.

Ask any Vernonite to recommend a breakfast

spot, and chances are they’ll name

Diner at Six. Some come early to fuel up

for a day on the slopes and others later to

chillax with a newspaper, but always to

enjoy hearty portions of breakfast classics

served up quickly.

Another local fave is Ratio Coffee & Pastry,

especially on Fridays, which is donut day.

Customers line up early to nab concoctions

like chocolate espresso filled donuts,

gluten free white chocolate macaroon and

apple cranberry fritters to name just a few.

Indulgence of a different kind can be

imbibed at Okanagan Spirits, a craft distillery

that has won numerous international

awards, including the gold medal at

the World Spirits Awards for its single

malt whiskey. Liqueurs are also a

specialty, which was somewhat of a surprize

to owner, Tyler Dyck, who works

along side his father in this family-run

business.

“I hated liqueurs,” said Tyler. “Most were

cloyingly sweet and artificial tasting.” But

inspired by the orchards that surrounded

them, they endeavoured to create ones

that “tasted like fruit”. It’s been a huge

success for the business, and they now sell

more unusual varieties, like Huckleberry

and Sea Buckthorn, as well as the more

traditional raspberry and cherry.

Resort Retreat

Hard-core adventure or soft-robe relaxation?

Hiking or biking? Fine dining or

pub grub? How you want to stay and play

at Silver Star Resort is totally up to you.

But if you’re like me, you’ll be sneaking

peeks at real estate listings and vowing to

come back. Though most well- known for

its ski slopes and abundance of champagne

powder snow, the resort with its

colourful village in the midst of the mountains,

shines in all seasons.

It was a treat to hit the slopes in the

spring, wearing just a sweater (a few

hearty souls were even wearing shorts!).

Summer and fall brings mountain bikers

careening down the mountain and families

taking scenic chairlift rides.

Festival events at Silver Star include the

Snowed In Comedy Tour, Wine and Music

Festival and the all-new SEISMIC Mountain

Festival, which we had the pleasure of

attending this year. The spring party

brought the community to the mountain

for a fabulous lineup of competitions, chef

dinners, wine tastings and art events.

www.tourismvernon.com

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Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


72

From Sea to Shining Sea

Rediscovering America’s Beauty

by Olivia Balsinger

WT Photo Library

One of the joys of being a travel

writer is that I get to fulfill my

quench for knowledge and

adventure daily. Whether by plane, train or

even camel on occasion, I am fortunate to

explore the nooks and crannies of this planet,

absorbing the cultures, traditions, religions

and especially the cuisine of foreign

lands. Amongst the passport stamps and

customs checkpoints, it remains important to

me to explore my roots. And that is why every

year I wander in wonder through the United

States, in an attempt to rediscover the beauty

of where I’m from. From the sun-soaked

beaches of Miami to the rugged, sprawling

mountains outside Denver, from the small

towns hiding in the crevices of Idaho’s rolling

hills to the Big Apple’s grandeur and skyline,

I invite you on my journey to rediscover

America.

New York City

Over eight million people call The Big Apple

home and about 63 million visitors enjoy the

bustle of this world-class metropolis each

year. After living in New York City for five

years, I decided to leave behind my local

grocery store and dive bars in the East

Village to venture where most no locals dare

be seen - Midtown Manhattan. Tourist cap

on, subway pass in hand, I emerged from

the 42nd Street Subway into New York City’s

heartbeat, Times Square, famous for its

bright lights and constant energy. One of the

classic ways to explore NYC is by utilizing the

GetYourGuide booking platform, which

opened my eyes to unique perspectives in my

hometown. On the “Under The Skirt of Lady

Liberty Tour,” for example, I bypassed the

crowds at this typical tourist destination and

was able to view this iconic site in a refreshing

manner. Similarly, on the Midtown Urban

Adventures NYC tour, I learned interesting

tidbits about iconic NYC landmarks like

Grand Central and Rockefeller Center.


Where to Eat: Midtown is home to some of

New York’s most famous and mouthwatering

restaurants—and they often come with a

spectacular view. The Edition Hotel in Times

Square, for example, has something for all

palates. While The Terrace Restaurant is a

casual, all-day eatery that elicits a French

brasserie feel (think elegant cocktails and a

variety of chops), stepping into Edison’s 701

West restaurant is reminiscent of a 1950’s

Hollywood film set, with large blue drapes

overlooking Times Square.

Where to Stay: A tourist’s literal dream, the

aptly named Dream Hotel Midtown was perfectly

located in the city’s nucleus for our

New York City adventures. For a more boutique

experience, The Refinery Hotel, also in

Midtown, is known not only for its industrial

accents such as 12-foot ceilings and distressed

hardwood floors, but also for its stylish

rooftop bar with 360 degree views of the

city.

Miami, Florida

While New York City may bring the grimy at

times (just ride the Q train past midnight),

Miami brings the glamour. A city known for

its white sand beaches, star-studded nightlife

on South Beach and ever-changing food

scene, the three-hour flight from NYC to

Florida’s southern gem may be just the

escape you need. And escape I did—from

exploring the graffiti walls of the hip and

trendy Wynwood district to the constant

rhythm and pulse of Cuban flavors in Little

Havana, Miami feels like a whole new world

from the streets of Manhattan.

Where to Stay: The Biltmore Hotel in Coral

Gables (one of Miami’s posh, more suburban

neighborhoods) is a destination in itself.

It’s enticing year-round with activity and culture.

Guests can participate in everything

from cooking to yoga and aerobics classes,

book a tennis workshop or play 18 holes of

golf. It became instantly famous after opening

its doors in 1926, hosting the glitterati of

the decade at multiple galas, fashion shows

and golf tournaments. My favorite part? The

massive swimming pool — which is a truly

grand affair with marble statues under a

promenade, private cabanas and its own

bar and restaurant.

Following my Biltmore escape, I decided to

spend a few nights at Crowne Plaza South

Beach - Z Ocean Hotel, located on two of

Miami’s most vibrant boulevards: Ocean

Drive and Collins Avenue. Here I was in the

middle of all the South Beach action—clubs,

bars, restaurants and beaches galore. This

all-suite boutique hotel not only oozed luxury

and style, but provided a necessary escape

from the buzz of South Beach when necessary.

Key West, Florida

Contrasting the grandeur of Miami, the

Florida Keys, located about 15 miles south of

mainland, are a low-key haven for fishermen,

foodies, and beach bums alike. Often

referred to as “America’s Caribbean,” the

archipelago is home to more than 1700

islands. This trip I spent time on the most

developed island, Key West. One of my

favorite activities was snorkeling in the third

largest coral barrier reef system in the world

with Fury Water Adventures. A visit to Key

West in incomplete without experiencing the

unique nightlife and gay-friendly bars and

restaurants on Duval Street. Known as the

“Longest Street in the World” Duval spans

from The Gulf of Mexico to The

Southernmost Point in the Continental USA.

Where to Eat: For a formal sit-down experience,

I enjoyed the “Toes in the Sand” Dinner

at Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. As

the name infers, dinner is served on the

hotel’s white sand beach, listening to the

waves collapse against the shore, and literally

feel the sand between toes. Blue Heaven,

the rustic restaurant where the famed

American journalist Ernest Hemmingway frequented,

is another must try (along with their

famous Key Lime pie, of course!)

Denver, Colorado

Denver is more than just the capital of

Colorado—it is the state’s hotspot for culture,

cuisine, nature and innovation. The city

has grown exponentially within the last half

decade, and now is a destination in and of

itself - in fact Denver continued its ascension

as a top tourism destination in 2017 by welcoming

a record 31.7 million total visitors.

Of course, Denver’s proximity to

73

nature is a huge draw for tourists. Just

minutes outside the city center are

trails for hiking and running, opportunities

for kayaking and even 85 miles of bike paths

to utilize through Denver B-cycle, the city's

pioneering bike-sharing program. When

worn out from all the athletic activity, I decided

to explore The Mile High City’s center a

bit and was equally impressed. The city continues

to utilize its space, emphasized by

development of neighborhoods such as

“RiNo” – River District North - a creative

environment where I was immersed in some

of the best food, music, and art in the country!

The newly refurbished Union Station in

the heart of Denver is more than a historic

transportation hub—it is home to ten unique

chef-owned bars and restaurants. The craft

beer scene in Denver is unparalleled - with

almost 200 breweries and more popping up

each day, there is always a reason to go out

for a drink.

In addition to its innovations in food truck

culture and its elaborate street art visions,

Denver is also a mecca for live music. The

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an open-air theatre

built into a natural rock formation that produces

incredible rocking natural sound, is

only 20 minutes outside of the Denver. I even

decided to take local transit one morning

from Denver and hike around Estes Park, a

town in northern Colorado known as the

base of Rocky Mountain National Park and

home to majestic wildlife including elks and

bears. Denver serves as the perfect metropolitan

home base for exploring the rugged

interior of the United States.

Where to Stay: The Kimpton Hotel Born just

feels as though it belongs in Denver, exuding

a cool and authentically urban vibe. Located

in the popular neighborhood of LoDo, the

city’s most up - and-coming neighborhood

and transportation hub, The Born is an

urban refuge after long day’s getting lost in

the city and nearby nature.

see following page

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Sun Valley, Idaho

Honestly, even as a travel writer I had no

known much about the state of Idaho prior to

my travels. I knew it was out west and that is

was likely sparse - but that was it. Yet, like

often happens when exploring somewhere

new, my expectations were greatly surpassed.

Though it seemed secluded and

remote, Sun Valley is incredibly convenient to

access with airlines such as Alaska Airlines,

who provide direct flights from Seattle and

other western cities. While Sun Valley is

famous for its epic ski areas during the long

winters, the resort town is just as spectacular

in spring and summer months. A haven for

nature lovers, the diversity in terrain and

landscape is perfect for hiking the labyrinth

of hiking trails, riding on equestrian routes

and dancing through wildflower meadows -

all with stunning views of the valley. It’s also

important to remember to look up at night. I

was entranced by the clear skies and dancing

constellations over Sun Valley, feeling

gratitude for the lack of light pollution.

Where to Stay: Hotel Ketchum, the newly

opened boutique hotel in the town Ketchum,

was very much worth the wait. The hotel

boasts many new facilities including an outdoor

pool and hot tub, an on-site ski shop,

and healthy and inspired locally sourced

meals. Centrally located on Main Street, it is

the perfect home-base for launching adventure

in the area. Makes sense that their slogan

is: 'Settle in, set out,” indeed! Another

new property in the area, The Limelight Hotel

Ketchum, is home to 99 rooms and prides

itself of a vibrant atmosphere, spacious guestrooms

and hands-on adventure programming

for guests.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

A newbie to Wisconsin, I was enthralled by

the idea of visiting Elkhart Lake, a lively yet

quaint town nestled on the shores of a crystal

clear lake. Arriving in Milwaukee Airport,

I was surprised by Elkhart Lake’s proximity to

nearby cities while still feeling entirely secluded

in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest.

While of course the lake is a destination in

itself (think swimming, kayaking and paddle

boarding), I was surprised by the amount of

activities on land! Specifically, I learned how

to make innovative dishes from the professionals

at L’ecole de la Maison Cooking

School, tried my crafting pottery at the quaint

Two Fish Gallery, and even golfed 27 holes

at the renowned 250 acre Quit Qui Oc Golf

Club. Finally, growing up on the East Coast,

I had never truly understood the sport of racing,

which is why visiting Elkhart Lake’s Road

America Experience - America’s National

Park of Speed - was an enlightening (and

quite lightening fast!) experience.

Over the course of a few days, I spent time

on the crystal-clear lake, walked around the

mom-and-pop shops and galleries, and

came to discover a part of my country I hadn’t

explored prior.

Where to Eat: The surplus of activities in

Elkhart Lake certainly build up an appetite,

and luckily the destination has a wide variety

of dining options. I enjoyed small plates at

Cottonwood Social, with ingredients that are

inspired by Wisconsin’s lake, as well as the

creative creations as The Paddock Club,

serving European traditional dishes in a

restored iconic building downtown. Lola’s on

the Lake was an elegant finale to my time in

town, with panoramic views of Elkhart Lake

and a distinguished ambiance.

Where to Stay: The Osthoff Resort, sitting elegantly

on 500 feet of recreational lakefront,

is renowned for its amenities and history in

Elkhart Lake. All 245 suites, each featuring a

kitchen, dining and living room and balcony,

making that “home away from home” feeling

a reality. There is also no shortage of

pampering at The Osthoff Resort, with the

hotels’ Aspira Spa, which focuses on purifying

and detoxifying the body with elements

of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

The Shore Club, a newly renovated resort in

Elkhart Lake which was originally known as

Victorian Inn, is a prime choice for guests

who desire natural beauty and surroundings,

with its own private beach on the lake and a

relaxed vibe.

www.visittheusa.com

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