Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back in luxury, relax and enjoy the ever changing scenery and wildlife (instead of watching the road).
10 epic train adventures to inspire you:
There is a saying in German: “Wenn schon, den schon.” It basically means “Let’s go whole hog.” Or “All In.”
When it comes to cruise travel, I often encourage you to take advantage of already being in a region by adding on time for deeper discovery, deeper immersion. One easy way to do this – adding time before and after your cruise in the ports where your cruise starts or ends. A second way, adding time to discover more of the immediate region (or even a bit further away). For example, adding the Loire Valley to a Bordeaux or Seine cruise, or taking the Eurostar to London when ending in Amsterdam or Paris. A third way – extending your cruises from the traditional week to two, three and even six weeks.
Now that’s what I would call “Going whole hog”!
The Maltese Islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino - are located in the Mediterranean Sea between the northern African coast and Sicily. These idyllic islands are abundant with rich culture, history, magnificent landscapes and over 300 days of sunshine.
In other words, plenty of reasons to visit. Following are 10 top experiences not to miss.
Seeing wildlife in their natural habitats can be a life changing, soul stirring experience, not only for animal lovers but all types of curious and adventurous travelers.
Wildlife themed itineraries are best experienced in small group settings – whether they be private or small group land tours or small ship cruises, taking you into areas less visited, less accessible. Small groups lend themselves perfectly to a better learning environment while contributing to the conservation and protection of species. Sustainable tourism - the best way.
Following are 7 top itinerary picks – one on every continent. Photo credit above: Lindblad Expeditions
For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, Costa Rica is a perfect destination. The landscapes are ecologically diverse, filled with rainforests, lakes, volcanoes, cloud forests and a wide array of plant, bird and wildlife, from chattering howler monkeys and slow-moving sloths to scarlet macaws, toucans and blue morpho butterflies, one of the largest butterfly in the world. With some luck you may even spot an elusive jaguar or rare tapir.
Stunning, tropical, an amazing experience for sure. And popular.
To get away from the crowds (and additional reasons), I recommend visiting on a small ship cruise: luxury yacht, clipper ship, adventure or expedition style, you have a number of great choices.
CRUISE SHIPS ARE NOT ALL THE SAME.
Top differences? The number of passengers, itineraries, dining options and activities are just a few things that differ. And yes, ship size.
Cruise lines have distinct personalities, and the key to a great cruise experience is knowing what types of experiences and activities are important to you, and who you want to travel with.
Why can't major cruise lines sail between two US ports without a stop in a foreign port? The answer is found in two acts, the Passenger Vessel Service (PVS) Act, passed in 1886, and the Jones Act, passed in 1920.
A trip to Antarctica is one of the most grand, exhilarating and amazing adventures. Stunning scenery, peaceful landscapes, icebergs, snow, seals, a wide variety whales and of course, penguins! Sites and sounds you will not find anywhere else. Quite the powerful combination.
Before you go, though, you really need to do your research. A trip to Antarctica is a big investment, in yourself and your budget, so you really want to make sure to pick the right trip and ship for your personality, travel style and interests.
The options are many (and growing) and can be overwhelming. Following are 7 things you should consider when choosing your cruise.
Photo credit: Quark Expeditions - David Merron
As an avid cruiser I've thought about world cruises - even as far back as my college days I was looking at Semester at Sea programs. My initial thoughts? Too long. But the longer I muse over it, hmmm, maybe it really isn't. The longest cruise I've been on is 18 days, and that was over in a "blink". I've been on 3 and 4 week land trips, and they too, bam! and it’s over. The idea of being able to see so much of the world in a relaxed manner, unpacking once, little to no time in airports..... very tempting!
What is a world cruise?
Basque country – an autonomous region located in northwest Spain and south west France – is filled with breathtaking coastal vistas, colorful villages and cities scattered throughout the green countryside.
Spain’s Basque country stretches from the popular beachfront city of San Sebastian (seen above) to Bilbao in the west and Vitoria-Gasteiz and the Rioja region in the south.
Basque country is often added as an extension to Spain and France trips, and I’m seeing cruise lines adding port stops here too. Vibrant, lively, spicy and diverse are just a few ways to describe the top 4 reasons to visit this beautiful region.
I was first "introduced" to the Marquesas Islands back in 2002 during one of the first seasons of Survivor. I use introduced lightly as it was on TV, and on a reality show to boot. It is highly unlikely that I will ever experience these islands the same way, but the beautiful scenes left a lasting impression on me.
What is the difference between “cruising” and “yacht style cruising”?
First is ship size. Yacht style ships are intimate and cater to 2 to 340 guests. A far cry from the large and mega ships with thousands of guests. The primary differentiators, though, and most alluring, are the experiences these ships offer. Here are the main ones.
A question I get quite often from my cruise clients is whether or not to take a cruise excursion while in port or go at it independently. My answer depends on the port of call, if my clients have been to the port before and how comfortable they are exploring on their own. (Note: As of this writing, many cruises are on hold and excursions must be taken through the cruise line. This article assumes we will have options to book our own excursions or explore independently in the near future.)
Have you been? Is Fiji on your bucket list?
This exotic country in the Pacific Ocean is certainly captivating. Its beauty is undeniable, so it's no wonder the archipelago of more than 300 islands is one very desirable getaway destinations in the world.
On flights from Europe back to the US I have had the opportunity to see Greenland numerous times from above. It’s amazing to see this massive landscape, especially on very clear days. The largest island in the world, bigger than France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined.
Imagine what you’ll experience being there in person. Here are my top 9 reasons to visit.
Photo courtesy of Quark Expeditions
The city of Auckland is full of diversity and personality. It is also New Zealand's largest city with a population of nearly 1.5 million. If you're looking for somewhere exciting to go to on your next vacation, Auckland is the place to be.
Why do you ask? Below are some of the top reasons why you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit this magnificent city.
Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city behind Moscow, was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. Because of his love of Holland, he included many beautiful canals and bridges (342 of them) in the design, which is why the city is now also known as Venice of the North.
Beyond the canals though is a city rich in history, culture, art, beautiful gardens and so much more. It’s a popular stop for both Baltic cruises and river cruises between Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Here are 8 treasures not to miss while visiting this fascinating place.
Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island is one of those places that stays with you once you’ve experienced it. And has you longing to come back for more.
Untamed, pristine wilderness. It’s simply stunning.
I know. I was here over twenty years ago and out of 40+ countries I’ve been to, to this day it remains as one of my top travel experiences. Ever. Can’t wait to get back.
There are many reasons why we take cruises - one being the culinary experiences we have onboard. We get spoiled for sure. And while I am not normally big on desserts, cruise lines make it difficult to say no. Here are 5 yummy examples (and accompanying recipes) of what you may find being served:
In Central and Eastern Europe, you’ll find some of the most spectacular landscapes, architecture — castles, churches and war memorials—as well as some of the most colorful, inviting cultures in the world. But what is the best way to see it all? On a river cruise, of course!
Here's what you'll experience on a sample Danube itinerary.
My advice has always been “Travel as far away as you can, for as many years as you can.” Get the long distance travel done while the body and mind can manage it. THEN start traveling in your own backyard.
And North America has plenty to marvel at.
If you enjoy cruising as much as I do, there are plenty of options. Of course there are all the Caribbean choices, but do you know about sailing on inland and coastal waterways? Take a look at what’s waiting for you!
With fabulous rooftop pools, jacuzzies, and wellness programs, exquisite cuisine and delicious drinks available petty much around-the-cloc - it’s tempting to many to never leave the ship. But I know that the main reason travelers choose a river cruise is because of the adventure—the amazing, breathtaking stops along the way. With that in mind, the countries you’ll explore on the Rhine are historic, romantic and truly awe-inspiring.
Photo courtesy of Adventures by Disney
Do you ever ask yourself what happened to all that time you thought you had? I sure do - every year seems to zip by faster and faster. And I find this especially apparent when I see friends and family with children. Seems like one day they have toddlers and the next day they have young adults headed off to college (or out on their own).
I'm not sure exactly why I am so fascinated by the polar regions. Maybe it's the beauty of the mountains, snow, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Having flown over/near the arctic circle a number of times on my way home from Europe, I always wondered what these islands below looked like at sea level. It could also be the allure of the polar bears.
Courtesy of The Brando
The world is full of amazing destinations, amazing accommodations and amazing experiences that come along with them, by land and by sea. Here are 7 of my favorites:
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder