Category Archives: Europe
Late in 2011, Paul Gauguin Cruises announced the acquisition of its second luxury ship, the m/v Tere Moana. The ship will enter service for Paul Gauguin Cruises in December 2012 after a multifaceted renovation, and be renamed The Moana.
The Moana will accommodate just 90 guests in 45 staterooms and will reflect the high standard of quality and service already established for the cruise line by the m/s Paul Gauguin.
Many people settle down with family during the holidays to catch up, and reconnect with loved ones. For a small group, the holidays are a perfect time to explore and experience the world.
Small ship cruises have been busy this holiday season, exploring diverse areas of our world, from the southern reaches of Antarctica and the South Pacific, up to the unique Galapagos Islands and Central America, and further to Europe and America’s southern Atlantic coast.
If you were booked or thinking of booking Cruise West, we need to talk.
By now you should have applied for your refund through your credit card, travel insurance or USTOA.
My other small ship operators are reaching out to accommodate Cruise West passengers. There are a number of options depending on your destination. Some are similar to the Cruise West product, others different. This is where you need a small ship expert like Linda, Sunstone Tours to help you. Give us a call 888-815-5428
American Safari Cruises have offered reduced prices to passengers who were booked on Cruise West sailings that have been cancelled.
Orion Expedition Cruises to offer discounts for passengers booked on Cruise West this year and next.
InnerSea Discoveries, upcoming 2011 Alaska, Mexico’s Sea of Cortes and Columbia River seasons.
Lindblad Expeditions is offering varied discounts to Cruise West passengers.
American Cruise Line will honor the Cruise West price on their remaining Columbia Snake River 2010 sailings.
Currently, we are floating approximately 2 miles off the coast of Baiona in the northwestern coast of Spain. The water is slightly undulating under our ship with a gentle breeze sweeping off the shore, making our floating office pure heaven to experience. One can’t complain when your days are spent exploring one of the 14 natural parks in Spain called the “Islas Cíes“, meandering through the ancient cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, seeing the internationally renowned Guggenheim at 8am just as the morning light streams technicolored rays across its perfectly curved steel, or floating with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand just off the coast of Baiona, Spain. To put it simply, it would be really difficult to find something to complain about.
For those of you unfamiliar with our current adventure, Ryan and I were invited to be the Iberian sommeliers on a Lindblad Expedition, which is hosted on a National Geographic Cruise ship called the Explorer. The ship is approximately 1 year old and is considered one of their larger ships holding up to 148 passengers and approximately, 100 crew. Lindblad is famous for their expeditions to far off places such as the Gallapagos Islands and the Antarctic, and while this trip is more the exception, rather than the rule, it is clearly well appreciated with the ship packed to the rims. This particular voyage started in Copenhagen and travels for 17 days down the western coast of Europe until it ports in Lisbon on the 13th of October.
Our “official” job is to provide passengers with information not only on Iberian wine, but on culture and gastronomy as well. Up and until this point, we’ve given only 1 tasting on Spanish wine, which consisted of an informal wine tasting with tapas on the aft deck with the 2008 Bodegas Hermanos Lurton from Rueda, alongside the 2005 Liberalia Cuatro from Toro, followed by a “formal” tasting of 3 wines: 2008 Txomin Etxani from Etxaniz Txakolina, 2005 Sant Bru from Portal de Montsant and finally the 2004 Bodegas Guelbenzu Azul.
What’s interesting to note is that although many of the passengers are extremely well traveled with loads of information about wine under their belt, they are an amazingly curious bunch. We’ve received statements such as, “I’ve tasted wines from Argentina, Chile, California, Italy, France and Australia, but Spain?! I have to admit, these wines are really good. Can I find wines like these near me and where can I learn more?” Other people have mentioned, “Boy, I only drink Sauvignon Blanc, but these whites are really fun! When I think of Spain, I think of red wines, but now I can think playful whites too.”
In part, they are also referring to the wines we’ve hosted at each dinner during their trek along the Iberian Peninsula. Many have been fascinated that the wines are both varied and tend to pair well with a wide variety of food. “When I tasted this Quinta da Gomariz [Colheita Seleccion 2006 from Rias Baixes] with the paella, it reminded me of some of my favorite wines at home with just a bit more flair!” Needless to say, the 18 bottles were gone in a matter of 30 minutes.
Tomorrow, we’ll disembark in Oporto and take a tour of Sandeman Port House followed by a Portuguese wine tasting we’ll host on the ship. And if we’re lucky, we’ll convert the 148 adventure travelers into Portuguese wine lovers. With wines such as the 2006 Niepoort Diablo, 2005 Dona Matilde Douro Red and the 2008 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro, I’m confident we’ll win this battle.
If you’d like to see the exact wines of our trip, we’ll be posting them on http://www.catavino.net/lindblad in a few days time.
The beautiful villages of Fira and Oia on Santorini stand high on a cliff above the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. On the day of our visit, their narrow streets were full of tourists, visibly enjoying the unique magic that only Greece seems to offer and the opportunity to hunt for the perfect keepsake to encapsulate a perfect visit to this unique island. The whitewashed houses and shops, distinguished with gaily-painted doors, shutters and trims, evoke and complement an incomparable blue Mediterranean sky. The villages are the perfect iconic images of Greece. “Picturesque, “charming,” and “idyllic” are words that seem to have been invented with this island in mind.
For the photographers on our voyage, this place is heaven. Even someone like me, who freely admits he is not a photographer but simply a person who takes pictures, can scarcely go wrong pointing a camera in any direction. Read the rest of this entry
Ground Breaking Journey Will Visit 242 Ports, 59 Countries on 24 Voyages
Marco Polo; Odysseus; Leif Eriksson; Christopher Columbus; James Cook; Ferdinand Magellan — history’s great sea explorers have inspired an epic global voyage destined to become the most memorable cruise of a lifetime.
These legendary adventurers whose travels shaped much of the known and the new world set the theme for Cruise West’s Voyages of the Great Explorers — a 335-day circumnavigation of the world. Departing Singapore on March 6, 2010, Cruise West’s flagship, the 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus will sail westward, following the sun, to return to Singapore on February 3, 2011. Read the rest of this entry
- National Geographic Experts. On every expedition, you’ll travel in the company of a National Geographic explorer, writer, photographer or historian. They will have an intimate relationship with Europe that will give your voyage unique perspective.
- Blend of Highlights & Off-the-beaten-path. Every voyage through Europe balances the “must-see” destinations and cities, such as the Alhambra and Stockholm, with the lesser-traveled, such as the bird cliffs of Stora Karlso or the wonderfully laid-back Italian island of Lipari.
- Pacing. And just as we carefully calculate our itineraries, we also ensure every day is paced appropriately, with just the right amount of overview and guiding, as well as built-in free time, to really settle-in and be “of” a place.
- Layering-on of Natural History. While our focus in Europe is primarily on the historical, cultural
and archaeological, we’ll also ensure our hallmark Expedition Team includes a handful of Naturalists who will incorporate the ever-important natural history. In fact, they’ll illustrate how the natural world has helped determine the course of history.
- Experienced Historians. We will not staff your voyage with an Historian who is getting this assignment as a “reward.” Rest assured, our team of speakers will have deep familiarity with the region, and will know how to highlight the major themes as well as the lesser known points of interest.
- European Heritage. Our company is founded by a European. Our ship’s Officers and Expedition Team are made up of Europeans. Our experience in Europe runs deep.
- Immersive Experiences. Whether it is a beer at the pub, our Expedition Team’s anecdotal stories at Recap, or the local musicians kicking up their (and your!) heels, we will give you a full sensory experience into Europe’s rich culture.
- Local Flavor. In the appetizers served on deck as we sail from port and our regional specialties served in the dining room, you will taste Europe. Our galley is headed by European-trained chefs. Our Hotel Manager is constantly scouring the local markets for delicacies to serve that night. You will not settle into a meal that could be served on any ship, anywhere in the world. You will know you’re in Europe.
- Dramatic Arrivals & Departures. Europe was made to be approached by sea. We get this. Our arrivals and departures are strategically calculated to take advantage of timing and lighting or use of our Zodiacs. Rather than a necessary burden, entering these ports is an event unto itself.
- Expedition Technology. Via kayaks, the video microscope, our ROV and underwater cameras, our state-of-the-art presentation system, we’ll give you a perspective that would otherwise be very difficult to achieve. Our Video Chronicler will record it all and make sure it’s available for you by the time you disembark!
December 17th LAX – 4:30 pm.
Note: what follows is an incident that can be avoided. Make sure you verify the status of your passport before you travel (or at least bring the right one). Don’t let this happen to you!
Packed, house closed up, dog at boarding kennel, our family shows up at the airport on December 17th for our flight to Germany to pick up our river cruise.
No small matter that I had in my hand our boarding passes for NWA that I had printed out the night before and gave them passport numbers and emergency information.
Keep in mind I am a travel agent and have been in this business for almost 20 years, I travel all the time and my family has been around the world and back a few times. We are not novice travelers.
Up to the counter, three tickets go through mine doesn’t. Counter lady, rude as can be says, “your passport is expired, you can’t go, please get out of line”. OMG…after my head cleared, she is right. I grabbed my expired passport. The passport that I keep in the same drawer (first mistake) that I look at periodically bringing up great memories of each stamp on the pages.
Note, the website where you enter your emergency info and passport number 24 hours before boarding, will take any number you give, will not knock out a expired number.
I won’t bore you of how I broke down and sat on the floor in the middle of the airport on my cell phone to American Express. How my family continued on with their journey and I had to return home to a cold empty house. Shockingly our flight was scheduled to leave 15 minutes early which made it impossible to get my valid passport to the airport in time.
I flew the next day, only seat available was business class with one day notice. No miles no nothing. The price I paid will never pass my lips as it is obscene. Yes I missed a hotel night, yes I missed a private tour I had set up. But I did plan the “day early” routine which I always suggest to my clients just in case.
Get out that thick black marker, X out your old passports, put a rubber band around them, put them in another drawer. Anything to avoid my nightmare.
Some exciting news on European river cruises…
Lindblad Expeditions is offering several deals on 2008 Danube river cruises. If interested, you must book by August 16, 2008 to take advantage of these fabulous offers:
- Autumn on the Danube – Budapest to Prague: Explore Budapest, a city situated on both sides of the Danube. Then, embark River Cloud, and sail along the Danube where each bend reveals a surprise.
Save $2000 per person on the Oct. 16 sailing, OR Save $1000 or complimentary group airfare on other select sailings. View details…
- Autumn on the Danube: Prague to Budapest: Discover Prague, a fascinating city linked by graceful bridges. Then embark River Cloud and ply the Danube’s waters through thickly wooded slopes, rolling vineyards, imposing castles, ancient river towns and colorful open-air markets.
Save $1000 or complimentary airfare on select sailings. View details…
For 2009, Cruise West is testing the Danube waters by offering 4 sailings between Vienna and Bucharest aboard the brand new luxurious Amadeus Diamond. As there are only four sailings, availability is limited, so reserve your spot today. View details on the Cruise West Danube itinerary…
Time is about up. You only have a few days left to save $1000 or receive complimentary airfare (think about gas prices) on the European River cruise you’ve always dreamed of. Aboard the River Cloud, you’ll sail Lindblad Expeditions “Autumn On The Danube,” between Prague and Budapest. These itineraries offer a journey of jigsaw puzzle scenery, fairytales, castles and concert halls, waterfront walks and riverside bike rides in kaleidoscopic autumn colors, wine and vineyards. All this from what is considered as the most magnificent ship on the Danube, with panoramic views of the passing riverscape.
This special savings offer ends June 30, 2008. So act now to secure your journey on the Danube.