Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mexico’s Sea of Cortez – A Cousteau Adventure

Mexico’s Sea of Cortez – A Cousteau Adventure.

Categories: River Cruise Travel Posts | Leave a comment

Mexico’s Sea of Cortez – A Cousteau Adventure

mexico_sea_of_cortes_destination_banner052114

San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur – Embarkation
Bienvenidos! You will be met at the Los Cabos International Airport and transferred the San José del Cabo hospitality area prior to boarding. The Captain and crew welcome you aboard just in time for a cocktail and dinner with your new mates.

cortez 13 - Copycortez 15

Isla Espíritu Santo
In a playground of steep bluffs and desert beaches—kick off your weeklong adventure with a day of play. Grab a paddle, don some flippers, put on your walking shoes for an exploratory hike, or relax on the beach with the sand between your toes. Life is tough. The rugged beauty of the island makes it an ideal spot for escapades.

cortez 4 - Copy - Copy

Bahía Agua Verde
At Bahía Agua Verde, clear waters are bordered by sparse craggy mountains hemmed in green. Explore the coast by small skiff, visit with a local ranchero and his family, and take to the canyons and mountains on a burro ride and experience the “real Baja.” Scenic vistas, outstanding exploration, excellent birding, and unmatched camaraderie—the day is done.

cortez 11 - Copy

Bahía de La Paz or Magdalena Bay
Mother Nature determines today’s big adventure! Whale sharks, the largest known species of fish in the ocean, are known to frequent the Bahía de La Paz. Keep watch for the ‘footprint’ of these gentle giants along the water’s tranquil surface, and conditions permitting, you may luck out with a chance to don your snorkel and swim alongside this colossal and mysterious creature. Or if the gray whales have arrived to migrate and calve in Bahía Magdalena (typically January to March)—you’ll dock in Puerto Escondido then head across the peninsula to ride in a panga and observe them in the lagoon.

cortez 12 - Copycortez 8 - Copy

Loreto / Isla Coronados
Situated on the edge of the Loreto National Marine Park—created to protect the rich biodiversity of the area—sits Loreto, founded in 1697 as the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula. A bounty of arts and crafts shops line the streets and plazas of this leisurely seaside village and a guided walking tour reveals its history. Within the park, let you hair down and uncover the secluded, ancient volcano of Isla Coronados. With plenty of options on tap—kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and beachcombing, or a guided hike into an inland sandy valley, perfect for identifying animal tracks. Explore nature’s diversity and learn about the geologic forces that formed the islands.

cortez 7 - Copy - Copy cortez 6 - Copy - Copy cortez 0 - Copy (2) - Copy cortez 110

Island Exploration
Sailing through islands once pillaged by conquistadors in search of black pearls, it’s Captain’s choice today. Nestle into a white sand beach at Isla San Francisco’s aptly named Half Moon Bay, or perhaps you’ll scramble the red cliffs of Isla San José and paddle in a mangrove sanctuary. Either way, it’s time to play. Snorkel along barnacled rocks, kayak amidst hues of blue, and take an interpretive walk to the salt chuck or a more strenuous guided hike along a desert rim for a spectacular panoramic view.

cabo b 100_and_equipment_are_included cabo-pulmo 110_kayak

Los Islotes / Isla Partida
At Los Islotes—a steep craggy seamount leaping straight from the sea—observe a sea lion colony from the boat and skiff, or slip into a wetsuit for an early morning snorkel with curious, agile young sea lion pups. Swim through a rock arch where orange fan and white fire coral sway in the current, while high overhead, sea birds perch on the cliffs. Then heave anchor and set sail for Isla Partida, where you’ll wrap up your week with an afternoon of water play. After tonight’s special Farewell Dinner, your expedition team recaps the journey with an entertaining slideshow.

08_skiff_sealions_pwc

San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur – Disembark
Back in San José del Cabo, it’s “adios.” After breakfast, a transfer to the Los Cabos airport is provided. Or, you may want to extend your adventure with a few days in Cabo San Lucas – “Land’s End.”

cabo 3 cabo 1

A passport is required on this itinerary. Due to the nature of our explorations, itineraries are guidelines and will change in order to maximize wildlife and natural encounters. Variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur.

#River Cruises

Call me for more details on this exciting adventure cruise this week.  919.708.8217.

Thank you for reading my blogs. I appreciate all my readers.

Categories: River Cruise Travel Posts | Leave a comment

Romantic Danube – ON SALE

passau 6 Danube-River (2)

ROMANTIC DANUBE

During this 8-day journey, encounter the grand cities and quaint villages along the celebrated Danube River. Explore both sides of Hungary’s capital, traditional “Buda” and more cosmopolitan “Pest”, and from Fishermen’s Bastion see how the river divides this fascinating city. Experience Vienna’s imperial architecture and gracious culture, and tour riverside towns in Austria’s Wachau Valley. Explore a baroque cathedral and stroll cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses. Savor the tastes of authentic dishes, learn about local legends, and understand why Strauss immortalized the “Blue Danube” in his famous melody. An added feature on this cruise; we are going during the European Christmas Markets.  We will get double the enjoyment!

 Parliament, Budapest, Hungary

DAY 1 | BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Welcome to Budapest, capital of Hungary. Transfer to your ship from the airport.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or do a bit of exploring; if your arrival schedule permits, join an organized walk to Budapest’s famous covered market in the three-story Great Market Hall established in 1897. Return to your ship for a traditional Hungarian dinner. (D)

 

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Hungary

DAY 2 | BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Your morning begins with a panoramic tour of the Pest side of the city. Journey along Andrássy Avenue and see the 19th- and 20th-century mansions, National Opera House, Parliament Building and Chain Bridge. Stop in Heroes’ Square to learn more about Hungarian history, then cross the Danube to Buda’s Castle District. Walk up the hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church; enjoy brilliant views. Rejoin your ship in Visegrád for lunch as we cruise along the scenic Danube River. Enjoy a midafternoon Viennese coffee workshop, complete with apple strudel. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Vienna Kunsth Museum, Austria

DAY 3 | VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Today we tour the Austrian capital of Vienna. Ride along the Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. See some of the city’s baroque architecture, including the world-famous Opera House, St. Stephan’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. Return to your ship for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to further explore. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Or you may take an optional tour to Schönbrunn Palace, the “Versailles of Vienna,” erected in 1778 and graced by a number of formal gardens, Grecian statuary, the world’s oldest zoo and Roman ruins. After dinner, relax or enjoy an optional classical concert. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

 Melk Abbey, Austria

DAY 4 | MELK, AUSTRIA

After breakfast, sail through the captivating Wachau Valley to the Benedictine abbey at Melk, and join a guided tour of the ornate interior of this baroque architectural jewel. See its elaborate frescoes and admire the library’s extensive collection of medieval manuscripts; then enjoy the garden courtyard and the terrace’s Wachau Valley views. Rejoin your ship for dinner and leisurely cruising along the Danube. Taste some local Austrian specialties as you spot attractive riverside towns and castle ruins along the way. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

 Passau, Germany

DAY 5 | PASSAU, GERMANY

Arrive this morning in Passau, at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. Your guided walk along the town’s narrow streets takes you through Old Town and past traditional patrician houses. You’ll see the New Bishop’s Residence and visit the impressive baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its ornate interior. Inside, you are treated to a special concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ.† Enjoy lunch aboard your ship, and return to the city for further exploration on your own before departing. We cruise through the night. (B, L, D)

 

St. Peter's Cathedral, Regensburg, Germany

DAY 6 | REGENSBURG, GERMANY

After breakfast, meet your guide dockside for a walking tour through the scenic town of Regensburg, considered one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities. See one of the largest groupings of 13th- and 14th-century church spires, towers and patrician houses north of the Alps. You also encounter the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, St. Peter’s Cathedral and a number of idyllic courtyards. Take time to stroll the streets, shop or visit Germany’s oldest restaurant, the Alte Würstküche. Lunch is served aboard your ship.

This afternoon, enjoy scenic cruising along the Danube River, or take an optional Danube Narrows excursion. Travel by road to Kelheim and board a ferryboat to explore the 400-foot chalk cliffs and dramatic scenery of the Danube Narrows. Visit Weltenburg Abbey*, renowned for the dark ale brewed here by monks since 1050, then rejoin your ship in Kelheim in time for dinner. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Nuremberg Palace of Justice, Germany

DAY 7 | MAIN–DANUBE CANAL & NUREMBERG, GERMANY

Very early this morning, we sail through the locks that comprise the Main–Danube Canal, an engineering marvel that stretches 106 miles from Bamberg on the Main River to Kelheim on the Danube. It began as Charlemagne’s dream in 793 and was completed in 1992 with 16 locks that raise the water level 1,332 feet. Today, it enables river travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea.

Arrive in Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city, around lunchtime. Afterward, your city tour features Zeppelin Field, the former Nazi parade grounds, and the Palace of Justice, the venerable vestige of the Nuremberg Trials; or, you can join an optional World War II tour of the illuminating Documentation Center Museum. You have a brief stop at the main courthouse before returning to Old Town, enclosed within ancient city walls.

Your tour comes to a close with a walk from the imperial palace grounds, past the Albrecht Dürer House and on to the Main Market Square with its elaborate Gothic fountain. Afterward you have some time on your own to explore. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)

Nuremberg, Germany

DAY 8 | NUREMBERG, GERMANY

After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey to spend 2 additional nights in Nuremberg or experience another country with 3 nights in Prague, Czech Republic, including a tour of Old Town and Prague Castle. (B)

The following meals are included: B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner

* Airport meet & greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking River Cruises

** Romantic Danube Cruise is on sale through February 28, 2015.
Tour date November 27, 2015
French Balcony Cabin: From $2456 per person
Round Trip Airfare: RDU $797 per person
Call me at 919.708.8217 to book this before the 28th.

Categories: River Cruise Travel Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris and the Heart of Normandy

Paris and the Heart of Normandy.

Categories: River Cruise Travel Posts | Leave a comment

Paris and the Heart of Normandy

normandy-beachesParis and the Heart of Normandy

Combine the magic of Paris with the beauty of France’s Norman countryside and voilà! Experience history firsthand at the Normandy beaches, site of the famous Allied invasion on D-Day in 1944. Delight in the Gothic architecture of Rouen, and see where Joan of Arc was tried and executed. Lose yourself in the exquisite gardens of Giverny, whose rich palette inspired Impressionist Claude Monet for many years. Walk the cobblestone streets of provincial Vernon and share the splendor of Paris, the world’s most romantic city, with your companion. This fascinating 8-day journey has something for everyone.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

DAY 1 | PARIS, FRANCE

Arrive in Paris, romance capital of the world. Transfer from the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to your ship.* After boarding, take free time to explore Paris, or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and get oriented. (D)

 

Paris Louvre, France

DAY 2 | PARIS, FRANCE

Wake up to a full day in Paris. After breakfast, embark on a half-day tour of this dazzling city and take in its most remarkable sights, including the iconic Eiffel Tower. You’ll also see the École Militaire, Orsay Museum and Latin Quarter and the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame. Then we’ll drive past the Louvre and Opera House and along the famed Champs-Élysées. Return aboard for lunch. This afternoon you’re free to take in the Louvre, shop the fashionable boutiques, visit the artists’ district of Montmartre or enjoy a cruise along the Seine. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served aboard your ship. (B, L, D)

Vernon Notre Dame, France

DAY 3 | GIVERNY & VERNON, FRANCE

Arrive in Vernon before breakfast; take a short ride into the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet resided from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visit the beautiful gardens and charming stone farmhouse where he lived and worked; see the water garden with the recognizable Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas that inspired many of his masterpieces.†

After lunch, spend some time with your Program Director in the provincial town of Vernon. Take a stroll to see the Maison du Temps Jadis (House of Past Times), Vernon’s oldest house, and the 11th-century Church of Notre Dame. Dinner is served aboard. (B, L, D)

DAY 4 | ROUEN, FRANCE

Indulge in leisurely morning cruising along the Seine. You’ll spend the afternoon in the medieval city of Rouen, preeminent capital of Normandy. Begin with a walking tour through the center of Old Town, where you see the spectacular Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, often painted by Claude Monet, and the famous Gros Horloge, a 16th-century astronomical clock. As you walk among the half-timbered storybook buildings, you’ll feel transported back through time; see the 14th-century courthouse where Joan of Arc was sentenced to death and the nearby Market Square where she was martyred.

Take free time to discover more of Rouen or visit one of its museums of art or antiquities. Dine aboard or at a sidewalk café. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)

 

DAY 5 | NORMANDY BEACHES, FRANCE

After breakfast, begin your full-day tour to the historic beaches of Normandy. Drive past Gold Beach, Courseulles sur Mer and Juno Beach on your way to visit such World War II landmarks as Omaha Beach, the American Military Cemetery and Arromanches Debarkment D-Day Museum. Have dinner and relax aboard your ship or take an evening stroll. (B, L, D)

 

Les Andelys Chateau Galliard, France

DAY 6 | LES ANDELYS & CONFLANS, FRANCE

Enjoy a leisurely morning cruise to the small town of Les Andelys, known for its imposing castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. After lunch, join a guided walk to this fatally flawed masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture. Return aboard for scenic cruising and dinner. Late in the evening we dock in Conflans, a riverside town whose unique culture reflects its status as a local hub for barge transportation along the Seine and its tributaries. (B, L, D)

 

Conflans Palace Versailles, France

DAY 7 | CONFLANS & PARIS, FRANCE

After breakfast, set out on a walking tour through the charming neighborhoods of Conflans. Or, join an optional tour to the luxurious Palace of Versailles, former home of Louis XIV. Lunch aboard your ship as you sail back to Paris this afternoon. Dine aboard and then enjoy some free time in the “City of Light.” (B, L, D)

  Paris, France

DAY 8 | PARIS, FRANCE

After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Paris airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your time in France’s romantic capital with a 3-night Paris extension. (B)

Call me for more exciting details about this fascinating cruise at 919.708.8217.
Remember-Paris is always a good idea!
Categories: River Cruise Travel Posts | Leave a comment

Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

central_america_destination_banner_img_rev - CopyUncharted Isthmus! Sloths, Monkeys & Mangroves

Untamed wildlife and wild lands on this 7-night Costa Rica and Panama adventure cruise

INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Transit the 48-mile-long Panama Canal connecting the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean
  • Search for untamed wildlife including two- and three-toed sloths, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, squirrel monkeys, and white-faced capuchins
  • Discover Costa Rica’s magnificent, abundant biological diversity at two national parks and one wildlife refuge including the country’s largest park, Corcovado National Park
  • Snorkel and explore the crystalline waters and marine life at Panama’s Granito de Oro, in Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Stroll a butterfly- and flower-rich tropical botanical reserve
  • Unparalleled off-the-beaten path exploration in lush jungles, crystal clear coves, pristine islands, and remote peninsulas
  • Hike, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, and explore by skiff
  • Interpretive presentations on board and ashore by your expedition team

Cruise-7 nights / 8 days

San José, Costa Rica – Embarkation
Welcome to the land of pura vida! On arrival in the capital city of San José, you’ll be transferred to our hospitality area to join your fellow adventurers. After everyone has gathered, travel to the Playa Herradura on the Pacific Ocean, where you’ll board the Safari Voyager and meet your enthusiastic crew.

Corcovado National Parkimages (12)

Curú National Wildlife Refuge / Isla Tortuga
Kick off your week of adventure on the southeastern tip of Nicoya Peninsula—untamed wildlife, lush scenery, and active recreation. Local “residents” include a variety of different animal, reptile, avian, and insect species, including frigate birds and hummingbirds, and army ants and butterflies. Hike in Curú National Wildlife Refuge—a prime place to inspect diverse flora and fauna. Off shore, the coconut palm-lined beaches of Isla Tortuga offer inviting tranquility. Snorkel, kayak, and paddle board in vibrant, turquoise waters, or sit back and relax on a warm, sandy beach.

10-rainforest11_dog_island - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy

Manual Antonio National Park
Boasting 109 species of mammals, over 330 bird species, and abundant marine life among its incredibly diverse plant life, Manual Antonio National Park provides endless opportunity for discovery. On a jungle hike, keep your eyes tuned to the canopy above, watching for two- and three-toed sloths, white-faced capuchins, scarlet macaws, many-colored tanagers, coatis, iguanas, and other colorful and camouflaged creatures. And, keep your ears tuned for the screeching of howler monkeys.

images (19) images (15)

Corcovado National Park
The remote Osa Peninsula is home to the country’s largest national park, Corcovado. Isolated and wild, adventure lies around every bend. Known for its diverse plant and animal species including all four of Costa Rica’s monkeys, tree frogs, caimans, anteaters, scarlet macaws, coatis, and 16 different species of hummingbird, explore this vast park putting feet to trail on an invigorating hike through the jungle. At the end of the day, enjoy the sunset with a tropical beverage in-hand during cocktail hour and retell stories of the day with your travel-mates.

09_hike - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy (2) - Copy - Copy12_skiff_tour - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy

Golfo Dulce
A birder’s paradise, explore a tropical botanical reserve exploding with vibrant color. From bromeliads, ginger plants, and heliconias, to toucans, hummingbirds, mischievous monkeys, and fluttering butterflies—there’s a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and tastes in every tree and bush you pass on your walking tour. In Golfo Dulce, which separates Oso Peninsula from the mainland, explore the rare flora and fauna of mangroves by kayak and skiff.

08_kayak - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy Tiskita macaws

Granito de Oro, Coiba National Park, Panama
Sail through the islands of Coiba National Park, making a stop at the postcard-perfect Granito de Oro islet. Offering a little bit of everything despite its small size, volcanic outcroppings at either end of this tiny landmass and a dense, mini-jungle in the center are connected by gorgeous white sand beach. Named one of the world’s top 10 diving sites, your day of play features snorkeling among abundant marine life, kayaking around rocky outcroppings, and lounging on the warm sand. It’s another perfect day in paradise.

cam_gulf_of_panama_islands - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy Corcovado1cam_isla_tortuga_costa_rica - Copy

Gulf of Panama Islands / Panama Canal
The diverse islands and islets in the Gulf of Panama are all unique, and on your last day, its captain’s choice as you cruise among them. Hosting hundreds of avian species, you may enjoy superb bird watching on an exciting skiff exploration, or stroll a charming coastal village that boast’s Panama’s oldest church. Later today, prepare to experience one of the top bucket-list destinations—transit from ocean to ocean along the 48-mile Panama Canal. Truly a marvel of engineering and human tenacity, it took 9,000 workers to build it. Celebrate this absolutely unforgettable voyage with a special farewell dinner, and then join your expedition team for a slideshow highlighting the week’s adventures.

13_panamacanal - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copyimages (4) images (3)

Panama City – Disembarkation
Enjoy an early breakfast aboard the Safari Voyager and bid your crew farewell. You’ll disembark in Colón and be transferred to the Panama City airport for your flight home or to begin your Un-Cruise hotel stay.

images (11) images (10) images (24) cam_manuel_antonio_national_park_costa_rica - Copy - Copy

A passport is required on this itinerary. Due to the nature of our explorations, itineraries are guidelines and will change in order to maximize wildlife and natural encounters. Variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur.

Call me for more details on this ecological adventure sure to please everyone.  919.708.8217

Categories: River Cruise Travel Posts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment