It’s funny, the things we remember about the places we see while traveling. Thinking of one trip, we might recall a post card view of an iconic landmark. Reminiscing about another, it might be the great meal enjoyed with traveling companions. Reviving thoughts of a trip where we made connections with former strangers, in a strange land; we smile. We commemorate a positive travel memory in a “I was there!” sort of way. We look back in retrospect at a negative experience; lesson learned. Browsing through our photo collection the other day, I came upon a number of favorite views that prompted specific thoughts from recent travels.
One of the best parts of a river cruise, and one that rarely comes up in advertising or stories is sailing during dinner. Not always the case, when that happens it is a wonderful experience. Watching the countryside roll by, feet away from it, is a unique experience hard to forget.
Part of Carnival Cruise Line‘s FunShip 2.0 initiative that brought a number of new dining, drinking and entertainment venues fleetwide was the Alchemy Bar. Here, trained mixologists serve up some of the most unusual cocktails at sea or on land. More importantly, many drinks are custom designed by people like Daniel the Alchemest; a personable young man that really makes us want to return and sail again.
This was the view in Porto, Portugal on Viking River Cruises modified longship, Viking Hemming. Seen through the window of the least expensive accommodations on the ship, it occurred to me just how important the off-ship focus of river cruising is. Regardless of how we get there, where we lay our heads at night or how much is paid, there are some really fabulous places to see via Viking Cruises.
Holland America Line‘s Dancing With The Stars: At Sea program could be a nearly perfect match for cruise vacations. Allowing guests on every sailing to brush up on or learn new dance skills, paired with one of the ship’s dancers, those who do well/want to can advance to a competition held on each sailing. From there those who do really well advance to a finale which I attended. Probably to be remembered as the most exhausting event I have ever worked, I learned so much about photography, social media and putting it altogether for your enjoyment. Staggering social impressions topped 100 million and generated more likes, comments and questions than any other single event. And I had not ever watched the television program.
Visiting Cologne, Germany for the third time this Summer, nothing much had changed. The Cathedral that dominates the skyline was still there, as it has been for hundreds of years. Seen around the area outside of the cathedral were tour groups of students, seniors and different nationalities. Couples of all ages sat to consider the scene. I couldn’t help but wonder if this small child seen in Cologne would return 70, 80 or 90 years from now to see much of the same.
Sailing with Azamara Club Cruises we enjoyed a unique voyage themed “Castles, Distilleries and Pubs.” On board 694-passenger Azamara Journey we began in Scotland then then went on to Ireland, Northern Wales then France. Five late-night stays, plus overnights in Dublin and Rouen (Paris), allowed us to discover gardens and castles by day and enjoy legendary pubs and restaurants at night. This 2012 sailing still stands as the most unique for me.
Sailing with Viking River Cruises, we went on a walking tour of Bordeaux. An included, but not mandatory, part of the experience our guide Christine Couper caught on that we were quite interested in tasting wines from the region. Making our way rather quickly to a great place to do just that, I realized just how customizable a river cruise experience can be.
In Venice, Italy with Princess Cruises, for a yard visit to see then-new Royal Princess, under construction, we spent the night at the Gritti Palace Hotel. A 5-start property that is known the world over, my takeaway was Acqua di Parma bath products which I quickly found online and had shipped back home. Since then, I have seen the Italian brand at department stores in the U.S. and brand shops around the world. Still, every time I enjoy the aroma of one of their products I will think of Princess Cruises and Venice, Italy.