Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019 issue

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C h i n a




Traveller SUMMER 2019


Sailing the

Wo r l d with

Norwegian Cunard Vi k i n g A m a Wa t e r w a y s Vi c t o r y Carnival

C o m e

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Welcome to World Traveler

Published by Canadian World Traveller 5473 Royalmount, suite 224 TMR (Montreal) Qc H4P 1J3 American World Traveler 347 5th Ave, suite 1402 New York, NY 10016 Tel, : 1-855-738-8232 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

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.


n 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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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!


Crusing section


Ky o t o 8

P u e r t o Va l l a r t a 1 2

Dubai 10

Curacao 32

Cruise News Norwegian AmaWaterwauys Viking Victory Cunard Carnival Best Time to Cruise? Trafalgar Cruise Lijiang River Cruise

Stay & Play - 60 Ve r n o n , B C 7 0

America 72

A ro u n d t h e Wo r l d 1 4

The Wild Hotel in Mykonos Falklands


Kyoto in all its Splendour Article and photography by Michael Morcos


f 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.

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!

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.

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 build-

ing 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?

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

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.

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!

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Dubai Where the Middle East comes to life Article and photography by Daniel Smajovits


he 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

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.

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 nonFerrari 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.

WT Library Photo


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

Downtown Dubai

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

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?

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Puerto Vallarta’s Got it All! Article and photography by Steve Gillick


uerto 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

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.

– 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.

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!

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


A r o u n d T h e Wo r l d

(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.

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. Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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.


Good to Go! Great Travel Gear and Gadgets Our travel specialists review the best travel gear and gadgets to get you on the go better

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Photos: Intrepid

Cycling Tours, Once for the Extreme Cyclist, Appeal to Mainstream Market

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


Intrepid 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.

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:

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.


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.

“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).

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

El Tuito, Jalisco, Mexico Article and photography by Steve Gillick


enturing 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.

Magpie Jays, Cinnamon Hummingbirds and many more colorful birds!

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.

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”.

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,

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.

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.

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 ( 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


ucked 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.

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-

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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. 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.


“Show” me Orlando by David J Cox


hen 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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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!



eading 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,

Lulus by Jasmine Morcos & Melissa Saveriano, photos: Lulus

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.

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!

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

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!

on the go! Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Going Further With

Tu r k i s h A i r l i n e s lowing 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. With 200 destinations, and adding new ones at a rapid pace, THY welcome trav-

ellers 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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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!


Tr o p i c a l T i d b i t s by Sue C Travel

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: New in Bonaire

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.

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.



New in Curacao

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.

Photo: Ken Theysen

tary 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: 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.

Photo: Delfins Beach Resort

Visit: Photo: AMResorts

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…



Photo: Stan Bysshe

New in Aruba

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 complimen-

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 Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Curacao - Beyond the Handelskade by Susan Campbell


Dive Curacao by Stan Bysshe

ven 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 - 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

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

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.

island’s original dive operator and hotelLions’ 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!)

Mambo Beach Blvd.

Santa Barbara

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

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

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.

Villa Seashell

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019








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











C o m e

Wi t h

U s


Pa c i f i c


Pa c i f i c



Ocean Adriatic Aegean

Cruise News -

pages 36-37

Norwegian Joy -

page 40

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

The Smooth Cruise on Victory 1 - page 46 China & The Queen Elizabeth - page 48

When is the Best Time to Cruise? - page 52

B a lt i c

Cruising in the New Year with Carnival - page 50


Exploring the West Indies with Viking - page 44



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

Cruise Up the Lijiang River from Guilin - page 56 This Photo: Cunard Queen Victoria in Norway

T h e

Wo r l d ! Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

South-China Sea

S a i l







C r u i s e

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.

John Cannon

N e w s

Celebrity Cruises Takes Delivery of the First Expedition Mega Yacht Designed Specifically for the Galapagos Islands

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.

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.

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.

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.











Holland America

Aqua Blu to sail three coastal destinations in Indonesia Aqua Nera to redefine Amazon luxury river cruising

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.


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 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 Expeditions Unveils New Fleet Additions


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.


Italian whispered luxury combined with amazing expedition experience will redefine luxury in the destination


Silversea Unveils the Most Elegant Ship ever to Sail the Galapagos


Joyous Occasion with Norwegian by Michael Morcos, photos: NCL


ow 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

Photo: M. Morcos

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”!

Photo: M. Morcos

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


The Gems of the Seine River aboard the AmaLyra S e e i n g Fr a n c e t h r o u g h a M o t h e r ' s E y e s by Ilona K auremszky


osing 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.

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 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.

Back on board, during our entire week,

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Exploring the West Indies with Viking b y J o h a n n a R e a d , Tr a v e l E a t e r. n e t


here’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?

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

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.

Johanna Read

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.

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.

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.

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

Johanna Read


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).


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

Onboard activities

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.

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.

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. Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


T h e S m o o t h C r u i s e o n Vi c t o r y 1 Article and Photography by Steve Gillick


aptain 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.

Photo: Victory

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 HollandMusekgon, 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 Cruise Lines

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.

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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


China & The Queen Elizabeth Part of A ’Round-the-World Cruise by Lisa TE Sonne


ipping 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.

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.

Photos: Cunard


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.


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.

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.

ly bullish –horned cattle walked freely. 49 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.

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 literal-

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Cruising in the New Year with Carnival by David J. Cox


ears 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 sta-

tion 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

sauces and creamy delights. It was very unique!

ride with rolling rapids, 20 swimming areas, a kids water-play fort and 11 swimming pools.


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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

exceptional dining experience we fully enjoyed. We shared the smoked oysters, beef tartare, lobster bisque and a great French onion soup as appetizers.

With two full sailing days, we needed to take advantage of the two days we were docked in Nassau and Freeport.

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.

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 dessert was presented by the chef himself, and was a collection of sweets placed artfully on a white plank and glazed with

The other two decided to head off to “Aquaventure”, at Atlantis Paradise Island with its high-speed water slides, long river

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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


When is the Best Time to Cruise?

by Photo: Crystal cruises

t'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.


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.


Europe River Cruises

High Season: April to October

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

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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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


ravellers 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

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.

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.

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!

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 Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Cruise Up the Lijiang River from Guilin, Pearl of Southern China by Habeeb Salloum, M.S.M.


ocated 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.

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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’.

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

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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

Stay & Play


S w e e t D r e a m s A r o u n d t h e Wo r l d


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

Athens’ Secret Gem The Foundry Urban Boutique Luxury Hotel

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.

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.

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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 5star 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 by Jennifer Merrick


panish 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.

was Peurta del Sol (the city’s main square), San Miguel Market and a slew of restaurants and shops.

Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques, Madrid

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.

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

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.


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Accommodations Puntacana Resort & Club is the Caribbean’s leading resort community on the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic. Tortuga Bay is member of the Leading Hotels of the World and the only AAA Five Diamond awarded hotel in the Dominican Republic, offering understated elegance, privacy and unparalleled personal service. Located at Playa Blanca is The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, guest enjoys all of Westin’s signature amenities and Don Queco Cigar Bar. Our Four Points by Sheraton is situated at Puntacana Village, few minutes away from Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ). The Estates Become a part of our magnificent paradise community with the purchase of a vacation home in the elite The Estates at Puntacana Resort & Club, where Julio Iglesias, Mikhail Baryshnikov call home. An exclusive lifestyle of relaxation, excitement and understated elegance, prospective buyers can choose among elegant homes perched above the Caribbean Sea or overlooking scrupulously manicured golf courses in Corales, Tortuga, Arrecife, Hacienda, Hacienda del Mar and Marina. Home and apartments are also available at Puntacana Village.

With 45 holes of championship golf, Puntacana Resort & Club is the Caribbean’s premier golf & beach destination. The P.B. Dye designed La Cana Golf Course, consisting of 27 holes across Tortuga, Arrecife and Hacienda, was declared the number one course in the Caribbean by Golf Magazine. Designed by Tom Fazio and set between rocky cliffs, coral reefs and the expansive Caribbean Sea, the Corales Golf Course features six oceanfront holes, multiple lines of approach and picturesque canyons, making for an exhilarating experience. Activities & Spa Puntacana Resort & Club offers a wide range of adventures for guests of all ages including golf, tennis, kite boarding, scuba diving, horseback riding, fishing and numerous excursions by sea, land and air. The leading spa in the Caribbean, Six Senses Spa at Puntacana Resort & Club presents a range of innovative packages, Signature treatments and Asian therapies. Visit Galerías Puntacana to enjoy an assortment of shops, restaurants, playground, and our spirited nightlife. Dining Puntacana Resort & Club is home to 6 world class eateries with an indigenously delectable cuisine. Tucked inside Tortuga 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 experience. All restaurants offer complimentary shuttle service within the resort. More dining options are available at Puntacana Village.

Corporate Social Responsibility We believe that in development there needs to be equilibrium among the economic, environmental and social components. Our non-profit Grupo Puntacana Foundation serves both natural and social resources, while contributing to the sustainable development of our Dominican Republic. These practices have been guiding principles of our company, and along with vision, hard work and perseverance, the key to our success. 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 from 98 different cities around the world, making Punta Cana the most accessible destination in the Caribbean. Our VIP terminals service the needs of guests flying in private aircrafts.

The Caribbean’s Premiere Golf & Beach Resort Community


Le Narcisse Blanc Hotel Spa by Ilona K auremszky


ucked 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 dis-

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

creet 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.


The Hotel Rosita, Puerto Vallarta Article and photography by Steve Gillick


t’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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


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

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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.

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.

Exciting New Dining

At all Divi Resorts, the “pure” cuisine concept means sourcing locally whenever possible


The Magnolia Hotel & Spa Victoria’s Best K ept Secret by Susan Campbell, photos: The Magnolia Hotel


Tucked 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 20years-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.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019

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Ve r n o n , B C : O k a n a g a n P l a y g r o u n d Article and photography by Jennifer Merrick


ur 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?

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.

The views! Every time we turned a corner, a gorgeous vista appeared before us with mirror-like glacial lakes reflecting the

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.

the inspiration for owner Carolyn Grant, who at age 60, despite no previous experience, decided to open a bakery.

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:

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.

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

“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.

awards, including the gold medal at 71 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

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.

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.

Indulgence of a different kind can be imbibed at Okanagan Spirits, a craft distillery that has won numerous international

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019


Fr o m S e a t o S h i n i n g S e a

Rediscovering America’s Beauty

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by Olivia Balsinger


ne 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.

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

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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

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.

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