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UNIQUE CULTURAL EXPERIENCES Lisbon’s Fado Culture On Scene with Game of Thrones Literary Footsteps in Wales Discovering

MALTA A Taste of


It’s your once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world. It’s a five-year reunion with your best pals from college. It’s your 50th anniversary celebration with every family member on board. It’s an adventurous escape from your 9-to-5 using every bit of PTO you have left. It’s the spur-of-the-moment decision to take a 3-day getaway. It’s a chance to explore your roots and discover yourself. It’s the check on your bucket list you’ve patiently waited for.


Whatever the reason may be, we’re here to transform your vision into reality. We hope this spring edition of Ensemble Vacations® inspires you to embark on a unique and personalized journey, planned by us but enjoyed by you.

Are you ready?


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Editor’s Letter Welcome to the Spring edition of Vacations®.

16 Spring 2019 Detours

This edition of Vacations® has me thinking back to a collection of travel memories I’ve accumulated over the years chasing flamenco shows in Spain and beyond. If you have experienced flamenco before, you’ll know that a typical show might start off with a Spanish guitarist and a solitary dancer. The audience is very much a part of the show, cheering the dancer on with “ole! ole!” She holds the edge of her ruffled dress in one hand; her face seems to agonize as she twists her body and stamps the platform. Flamenco is all about rhythm, intensity and passion – and it draws travellers, like me, off the Ramblas into bars in Barcelona, into the caves of Granada and further south to Seville where you can learn more about its origins and cultural impact in the Flamenco Dance Museum. The dance, which originated two centuries ago, is as much a part of Spanish culture as bullfights and tapas. Being able to experience rich cultures like these is part of the allure for so many travellers.

12 Travel News 14 Vacations® HOT LIST Spectacular Spas and Wonderful Wellness in Europe 16 Spotlight: Istanbul by Boat 18 Packing List


Whatever type of experience suits you, we hope that you find inspiration in these pages. When you are ready, your travel specialist can help you book the vacation that is right for you. Happy travels, Karen Leiva Editor, Ensemble Vacations® Magazine

UNIQUE CULTURAL EXPERIENCES 22 Pop Culture: On the Scene with Game of Thrones 28 Literary Footsteps in Wales 30 Fado: Lisbon’s Bittersweet Obsession 36 Neighbourhood Culture: Amsterdam’s Oost


In this edition of Vacations® magazine, we aim to share with you some new ways of experiencing European culture. We highlight some unique experiences including fado in Portugal and literary history in Wales. We’ve added a bit of pop culture too – namely, the Game of Thrones film locations which are attracting fans to Ireland. Beyond these pages, look for stories that cover culinary experiences in Spain and France, off-the-beaten-path adventures in Malta, wellness in Switzerland and family travel in Croatia.

Special Feature




Circumnavigating Iceland: Life on and off the Ring Road Tuscany on Two Wheels Discovering Malta

ULTIMATE FAMILY VACATIONS 48 Jumping in to Explore the Coast of Croatia

HEALTH & WELLNESS 50 A Fine Balance in Switzerland WORLDLY DELIGHTS 54 The Capital of Champagne 58 European Classic Cuisine 60 A Taste of Northern Spain

CRUISE VACATIONS 64 Get Ready to Sail Exclusive Offers and Hosted Cruises Vacations® is proud to be NATJA’s (North American Travel Journalist Association) 2017 Gold Award Winner in the Travel Magazine category.

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Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 7


Featured Contributors

Spring 2019 Credits PUBLISHER Ensemble Travel® Group MANAGING EDITOR Liz Scull



Rosalind Stefanac is a Canadian freelance journalist and travel writer based in Toronto. When she’s not on the road with her family, she writes for publications like Destination Weddings, Parents Canada and the Financial Post. In this edition of Vacations®, Rosalind writes about her adventures on the coast of Croatia with her two teenage sons. Given that she met her husband there 23 years ago, it’s a destination that’s particularly close to her heart.


EDITOR Karen Leiva CONTRIBUTORS Karen Leiva Maria Teresa Andreacchi Chris Robinson Tim Johnson Jennifer Bain Valentina Valentini Debra Smith

Christina Newberry Debbie Olsen Mark Sissons Rosalind Stefanac Mark Stevens Richard Frisbie Heather Greenwood Davis

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Liz Scull CREATIVE DESIGNERS Cherry Ann Valles, Cinzia Cammisa FOXX Advertising & Design Inc.

MARK STEVENS Mark Stevens is based in Caledon, Ontario. He has written for publications ranging from Explore Magazine to the Toronto Star. Though he has written for destinations worldwide, he is best known as a Caribbean and Canadian specialist. He has received awards for his stories from organizations as diverse as the Travel Media Association of Canada, Ontario Tourism and the Caribbean Tourism Organization. An avid sailor, he contributes regularly to Canadian, U.S. and Caribbean nautical publications. Mark works exclusively with Sharon Matthews-Stevens, a multiple award-winning photographer. They have two sons, Shaun and Adam.



DEBRA SMITH Debra Smith is a Canadian travel writer with an abiding interest in history, architecture and art. UNESCO World Heritage sites are her favourite places to explore and she has sought them out in China, Egypt, Europe and North America. Never one to pass up a great beach, she is the Hawaii expert for Canada’s largest website for parents,, and she has written for many publications including NUVO, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, WestJet Magazine and AAA magazines in the U.S. At home, she has served on the Calgary Heritage Authority Board and garnered a Heritage Award for her work in historic preservation.

DEBBIE OLSEN Debbie Olsen’s globetrotting adventures include such activities as cycling in Spain, sailing a yacht through the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, photographing polar bears in Manitoba, snorkelling with whale sharks in Mexico and chasing the Northern Lights in the Yukon. She has contributed to 10 Fodor’s guidebooks and is a Globe and Mail bestselling author. Her articles have been published by numerous outlets including BBC Travel, Canadian Geographic, TravelAge West and the Calgary Herald. In this issue, she and her photographer husband Greg Olsen reconnect with her younger brother on a road trip through Iceland. 8 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019



Lindsay N. Pearlman Carl Schmitt Franca Iuele

©Ensemble Travel Group. All rights reserved. Spring Vacations 2019 Ensemble Travel® Group. Ensemble Vacations®, Ensemble® Experience, Ensemble® Exclusive, Ensemble® Hosted Cruises, WRITER ENJOYING THE VIEW OF LAKE LAUENEN ©HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS


Ensemble® Villas & Vacation Homes, Ensemble® On Location and Ensemble® Hotel & Resort Collection are all proprietary trademarks of Ensemble Travel® Group. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher. Ensemble Vacations® is published four times per year on behalf of Ensemble Travel® Group member agencies.

ENSEMBLE VACATIONS 69 Yonge Street, Suite 1403 Toronto, ON M5E 1K3 (416) 367-3660 Registration Numbers: vary by agency; see back cover Publication mail agreement: No. 40005027 Printed in Canada. Cover image: Getty Images ©Michel Guenette Yellow tramway of Lisbon in front of the old Cathedral Photos by Getty Images unless stated otherwise


Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 9

Italy is calling Lamezia, Italy With our packages to Southern Italy, land in Lamezia and follow the coast down to Tropea and Capo Vaticano, caught between dramatic cliffs and a crystal-blue sea, and unravel Herculean legends, chase the perfect sunset and taste the dolce vita in its purest form.

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TRAVEL NEWS By Karen Leiva

From land tours in up-and-coming travel destinations like Bolivia to new cruising itineraries in timeless destinations, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for travellers.

WINE LOVERS, REJOICE! Turns out that river cruisers have a passion for wine – so much so that AmaWaterways has added a new itinerary to its selection of Wine Cruises. In 2020, there will be 70 different Wine Cruises to choose from including a new seven-night itinerary, Treasures of the Main & Rhine, which sails from Germany to the Netherlands, allowing guests to take in picture-perfect scenery, along with culinary delights, wine tastings and even vineyard hikes through the Rheingau wine region in Rüdesheim. Wine Cruises also include onboard talks led by wine experts and excursions with local tastings and visits to private cellars. AmaWaterways has another new itinerary, Vineyards of the Rhine & Moselle, a sevennight cruise from Amsterdam to Luxemburg, which allows guests to take in the lush vineyards of Moselle Valley. 12 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019


ACCESSIBLE CRUISING With the introduction of accessibilityenhanced shore excursions, Silversea Cruises is planning to make travel a lot easier for seniors and people with disabilities. New accessible excursions will be offered in nine destinations across the Caribbean and Central America, including Mexico, St. Lucia and Grenada. Shore excursions have been well planned, factoring in wheelchair lifts for vehicles,

BOLIVIA BOUND Travellers to South America will have new options to experience Bolivia thanks to Kensington Tours. Two new tours explore Bolivia, a country that has not experienced the same level of tourism as its neighbours in Brazil, Peru or Argentina. There are a lot of reasons to visit this off-the-beatenpath destination, including exploring the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), mountain-top cities, and the incredible salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. The two new tours include a nine-day itinerary solely in Bolivia, and a 16-day option that combines Bolivia and Peru.

ISLAND FUN The St. Lucia Jazz Festival, known for being among the best in the Caribbean, is teaming up with Jazz at Lincoln Center, part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Expect a world-class lineup of jazz artists, including Emmy-award winner Dianne Reeves and up-and-coming star Veronica Swift. Beyond the Jazz Festival, more travellers are taking note of St. Lucia, which has a range of luxury, wellness and beach options. More than 1.2 million people travelled here in 2018 – that’s a 10.2 per cent increase over 2017.

attractions without stairs to climb, and experienced guides with knowledge in accessibility issues. In St. Lucia, passengers will take in the Pitons and admire the Diamond Waterfalls from a step-free garden path in Soufrière’s Diamond Botanical Gardens. While in Mexico, passengers will have options for guided driving tours around Cozumel, stopping to taste Mexican food and tequila, and visit an accessible beach.

LUXURY YACHT SAILINGS Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises is gearing up for a year of diverse cruising aboard its 62-guest, butler-serviced yacht, Crystal Esprit, with 11 new itineraries in 2021. Destinations in the new sailings – Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, Dalmatian Coast, Greek Isles and Holy Lands – are diverse and aimed at travellers looking for extraordinary experiences. Look for the 10-day Turkey’s Turquoise Coast which includes visits to key archeological sites and lots of outdoor adventure options, including hiking, cycling and village walks in ports of call along the Turkish Riviera. In the Holy Lands itineraries, there are options to explore Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

LA BELLE VIE Just a little dab behind your ear and this floral-scented perfume is bound to keep your travel memories alive – that’s the idea behind a new perfume created by travel company, Trafalgar. The fragrance, La Belle Vie (its name plays on Trafalgar’s philosophy of connecting its guests to ‘The Good Life’) was created by the famous French House of Fragonard. It will be available exclusively for Trafalgar guests travelling through France. Guests on the Paris Explorer itinerary will also visit Fragonard in Paris and have the chance to ‘mix-and-match’ components of the La Belle Vie fragrance to create their own take on the scent. Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 13



PORTO HELI, GREECE In Peloponnese, there is a unique lustre to the Aegean light as it bathes hillsides strewn with classical villas and pavilions. You can almost feel the presence of Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine, hovering over the shimmering pools and olive groves. Luxurious hilltop resorts offer spa treatments based on healing Greek philosophy – think facials using local organic honey and a range of holistic therapies, including Pilates, yoga and water shiatsu. Moonlit yoga in the amphitheatre, anyone?

Spectacular Spas and Wonderful Wellness Destinations in Europe By Chris Robinson

KARLOVY VARY, CZECH REPUBLIC In the 14th century, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV, discovered some rejuvenating thermal springs and named the spa town of Carlsbad after himself. Now called Karlovy Vary, the town is celebrated for the beautiful baroque and art nouveau buildings built around 79 mineral springs sprinkled about the town. Follow in the footsteps of Tsar Peter the Great, who stayed here in the early 18th century. Admire grand spa architecture and stroll the impressive colonnades, sipping on the famed health-restoring waters from local ceramic drinking cups.

From Ancient Greeks to Ottoman Turks, Europeans have been perfecting the art of wellness destinations for centuries. Here are some of the very best.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY The City of Spas, Budapest, has more than 100 springs. It produces nearly 70 million litres of thermal water a day! These thermal waters were enjoyed by Romans in the 2nd century and the bath culture flourished during the Turkish occupation of Hungary in the 16th century. Today, there are approximately 15 public thermal baths in Budapest. Try Kiraly Bath, which has a magnificent octagonal bathhouse built during the Ottoman Empire for use by a local pasha. It’s a smaller, cozier bath than the rest, built within the city walls with a snug interior garden featuring a wooden hot tub and cots. BATH, UK The Romans founded the city of Bath in the first century AD. The Temple of Sulis Minerva and the Roman baths complex are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Modern wellness devotees should head for the latest incarnations of the ancient baths in several of the spa and wellness hotels in town. Guests can do as the Romans did by trying a traditional bath house circuit with pools of varying temperatures. BADEN-BADEN, GERMANY The historic town of Baden-Baden, at the foot of the Black Forest, is Europe’s quintessential spa town. This quaint town promotes wellness due to the curative thermal waters that bubble upwards from 12 springs that emerge from a depth of around 2,000 metres. Approximately 800,000 litres of spa waters rise every day at temperatures up to 68°C. The minerals in the water provide an all-around healing effect – and Baden-Baden’s spas also let you enjoy a sea salt grotto, aromatherapy, yoga classes and massage treatments.


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LOUBÈS-BERNAC, FRANCE If meditation is your wellness vacation goal, head to the Bordeaux wine region in the southwest of France. Here is Plum Village, Europe’s largest Buddhist monastery, with more than 200 monks and nuns living in four different hamlets. East truly meets West amidst the gently rolling vineyards and communal accommodations. Meditations are led by experienced Zen practitioners, including renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Here, as Nhat Hanh said, you “walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 15



Istanbul by Boat By Tim Johnson

LOCAL CUISINE: KADIKÖY The first thing you notice, upon docking in this hub on the Asian (Anatolian) side of the strait is the people – Kadıköy’s streets and lanes teem with shoppers, walkers and diners. Disembark and wander amongst multiple markets, then settle in for one of the finest kebabs in the world. At small, unpretentious Çiya Sofrasi, Chef Musa Dağdeviren, recently featured on the hit Netflix series, Chef’s Table, has dedicated his life to keeping traditional village cuisine alive. He created his menu, which features dozens of different versions of the simple dish, after travelling extensively across Turkey, spending time in the homes of small-town cooks, and in the process, getting their recipes right. Named to the Diners Club 50 best restaurants in the world, they make their spices in-house and source their ingredients from village producers, and their meat from their own farm.

It’s a unique pleasure to glide through the waves, from one continent to the next in the matter of a few minutes – and rarer still to sail to hidden neighbourhoods in one of the world’s greatest cities. Forming a blue slash that divides Istanbul and a strait that separates Europe and Asia (and connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara), the mighty Bosphorus is plied by dozens of ferries every day, with some 17 million people living along its shores. Here are the best neighbourhoods to explore, by boat.

BYZANTINE PORT: YENIKAPI One of the busiest ferry docks in the city and the gateway to the oldest part of Istanbul, archaeologists have discovered that Yenikapi was also once a Byzantine port, its waters scattered with undersea treasures, amphoras and other artifacts. Dating back to the 5th century, the surrounding area is also ancient – leave the ferry and walk out to some of the oldest ruins in Istanbul, the remains of walls and fountains and churches, all within a few blocks of the water.

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HIPSTER NEIGHBOURHOOD: KARAKÖY Founded as a rough-and-tumble port (and still bustling with boats, which arrive and depart every few minutes), this tightly packed neighbourhood has recently gone hipster. Once gritty and packed with industrial workshops, it got a big boost when the Istanbul Modern gallery opened here 15 years ago. Now its cobblestone streets are lined with record shops that still sell vintage vinyl, barbershops that offer a hot shave, and all sorts of tiny, bustling cafés, plus a few restored hammams, where you can indulge in a traditional Turkish bath.

THE SPICE BAZAAR Just a few blocks from the busy ferry port of Eminönü, and steps from the famous Galata Bridge, the Spice Bazaar has been one of the most famous markets in the world since it opened in 1660. Take one step inside and the fragrance hits you, first, the combined (and stimulating) smell of hundreds of spices, plus dried fruit and sweets like Turkish delight. As you stroll through the crowds, any of the dozens of vendors will be happy to give you a sample tasting of saffron, paprika, oregano, masala, and everything else they have on hand.

GATEWAY TO TOP SITES: BESIKTAS Feeling like a village within this massive city, this port neighbourhood on the European side extends a warm welcome once your ferry docks. Street vendors sell all sorts of savoury treats, and the area is home to some of the best kokorec (lamb roasted with spices on a spit) joints in the city. And from here, you can access some of Istanbul’s most distinctive landmarks, such as the Bosphorus Bridge, Dolmabahçe Palace, and the glimmering Zorlu Centre, with its high-end restaurants and designer shops. Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 17

Detours Detours

PACKING LIST Must-haves for the traveller in you. By Maria-Teresa Andreacchi

Whether it’s an inspiring podcast or a practical gadget, there’s always something to complement your travels. This edition of the Packing List matches the best travel accessories with your personality – must-haves that you can’t live without!



MINIMALIST TRAVELLER: TRAVEL SCARF Minimalist travellers are all about the simple life, which is why the Speakeasy women’s pocket scarf is the perfect travel accessory. With pockets to carry your passport, bank cards and cash, there’s no need for a purse. $73

SOUVENIR COLLECTOR: PACKING SOLUTIONS Luggage space is the most valuable asset for a souvenir collector, and the Ziplock Space Bags offer just that – space. With six plastic compression bags in four different sizes, you can compress just about anything, leaving you enough room to fly home with all your new purchases. $19.99 Canadian Tire

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER: SKIP THE JET LAG Every business traveller knows the pains of jet lag, which is why No-Jet-Lag is the perfect solution. The plant-based ingredients are said to relieve stress, fatigue and disorientation – all symptoms the frequent business traveller is likely to experience. $17.99

WELLNESS SEEKER: HURRY SLOWLY PODCAST Hurry Slowly podcast by author Jocelyn K. Glei is helping wellness seekers slow it down to do more. Guest experts inspire listeners to improve mental wellness and creativity. From reversing autopilot to savouring aha-moments, Hurry Slowly will help make the most of your wellness trip. Listen to Hurry Slowly on iTunes.

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ADVENTURE SEEKER: TRAVEL PODCAST If you love adventure and need some inspiration, Chris Christensen’s podcast Amateur Traveler is there to help. Each episode is dedicated to a specific destination, sharing tips and tricks for how to navigate, where to go and what to do. Listen to Amateur Traveler on iTunes.


Cultural Experiences

Unique Cultural

EXPERIENCES Whether it’s music and art, history and current trends, or food and drink, immersing in new cultures is part of what makes travel so fascinating. Over the next few pages, our writers take you on a journey across Europe to explore unique cultural experiences – some you may be hearing of for the first time such as off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods, while others draw on timeless traditions, classic books and folk music.

PORTUGAL: Get ready to experience Portugal through its music. Fado is very much a part of the country’s social fabric today, but this music has deep roots. The first well-known fadista captivated Portugal in the 1800s with songs of love and laughter, sorrow and longing.

Vacation Better Tip #123 Soak up the sun on the world-famous shores of Pigeon Point Beach

IRELAND: When it comes to pop culture, we have a story just in time for the launch of the final season of the epic HBO series, Game of Thrones. Have fun exploring the show’s filming locations and meet some of the behind-the-scenes cast and crew – don’t forget to don a fur-trimmed cloak! CROSSING WATER ©JENNIFER BAIN

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AMSTERDAM: For a modern twist on culture, check out Amsterdam Oost. This cultural mosaic is a hip borough where Surinamese take-out joints mingle with Middle Eastern greengrocers, modern boutiques and classic Dutch bars. Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 21

Cultural Experiences People are looking at us funny, puzzled that we’re not dressed casually like everybody else who’s strolling, jogging and biking through Tollymore Forest Park on this fine spring day. It’s fun to stare back, expressionless, and wait for the moment they realize that there’s a method to this cloaked madness of 35 people. We are paying homage to Jon Snow, the Starks and other Northerners by wearing fur-trimmed cloaks held in place with sturdy leather straps. We are on an immersive Game of Thrones tour exploring filming locations across Northern Ireland. Meandering down one of the state park’s official walking trails, we pass through a spooky forest of impossibly tall trees to the wildling pit from season one, episode one. The pit is just a clearing in the woods, so our lanky, bearded tour guide, Eric Nolan, holds up screen grabs from the TV show to bring the scene to life. He’s actually a wildling on this hit series and laces the day with tidbits that don’t break confidentiality rules.

We get a little silly at a nearby stump, posing where the dashing Kit Harington once sat as Jon Snow. On a riverbank beside a bridge, we reminisce about the scene when six orphaned direwolf pups are discovered. One woman proudly pulls out a white stuffy of Snow’s albino direwolf Ghost. You don’t have to be hopelessly devoted to the HBO fantasy drama, inspired by the George R. R. Martin books, to enjoy looking at a country through a pop culture lens. In our global group, I’m somewhere between the superfans and the woman who hasn’t watched a single episode. I’ve seen all seven seasons and can’t wait for the final one in 2019 but flame out during a “Brain of Thrones” quiz on the tour coach that picked me up in Dublin for a 12-hour Winterfell Locations Trek. The last time I was here was 1992 when driving into Northern Ireland involved military checkpoints. Now the only sign we’ve crossed a border is that speed limits switch from miles to kilometres, and the currency switches from euros to Pound sterling.

Pound sterling buys me “cider in King Robert’s horn” at the Lobster Pot in Strangford, where others get beer in a “Winterfell wooden tankard.” I inhale fish and chips to dash outside to meet two “direwolves” – Summer (Odin) and Grey Wind (Thor), Northern Inuit dogs bred to resemble wolves. The brothers that own them have been show extras and their dad, who plays the Dothraki slave master, makes me pull his long, grey beard.




POP CULTURE: On Scene with

Game of Thrones By Jennifer Bain

With Game of Thrones launching its eighth and final season in 2019, writer Jennifer Bain indulges her fandom in Northern Ireland and Ireland. 22 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019


Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 23

Game of Thrones has shot in Iceland and Croatia (which have capitalized on the connection), plus Morocco, Malta, Spain, the United States and Canada, but most filming is in Northern Ireland. “Screen tourism” has had a huge impact on the economy and everyone hopes that Thrones fans, like Star Wars fans, will keep coming.


On another day trip out of Dublin, this time to Belfast and the geological wonder Giant’s Causeway, I race through a Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge experience to a nearby quarry/parking lot. This is where we first met Brienne of Tarth, a photo plaque reveals. Even though the show hasn’t filmed in the Republic of Ireland, I have a Game of Thrones moment near the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre outside Drogheda. Ross Kenny rows me down a canal in a currach, a basket-shaped boat with a wooden frame traditionally covered in cowhide. He had been building and restoring currachs when he got a call asking to rent one for a TV show he had never heard of. Kenny has since made many custom boats for Game of Thrones, and become an extra and a fan.


My fantasy day on that bus tour around Northern Ireland continues from the direwolves to Castle Ward estate (aka Winterfell) and ends at Inch Abbey, officially monastic ruins but also the place where Robb Stark was proclaimed “King in the North.”

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We don our cloaks one last time, brandish replica swords and anoint the Brain of Thorns quiz winner “Queen in the North.” This time onlookers clearly get what we’re doing. One plucky child even photobombs our group shot celebrating the best television show ever made.


24 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019


©2019 Celebrity Cruises Inc. Ships’ registry: Malta and Ecuador. ©2019 Celebrity Cruises Inc. Ships’ registry: Malta and Ecuador. 1/2019 Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 25

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Cultural Experiences where he stayed with his mother and siblings every Easter between 1920 and 1936. The British novelist and short story author is originally from Cardiff, Wales. The cozy holiday home is built into the sea wall at Tenby Harbour. So, although it’s butted up against the hustle and bustle of the town’s fishing industry, at the front, the stone patio overlooks the ocean with only the rise and fall of some of the world’s largest tides as a distraction. When I look out over the same view, I can almost grasp the magic that has lived on after these authors have left us, captivating mine and others’ imaginations for generations.

Literary Footsteps in


In later years, when Dahl found his London home too distracting, he would visit author Dylan Thomas’s writing hut in Laugharne, just 40 minutes up the coast from Tenby. Now known as Dylan Thomas Boathouse, with a tearoom and a small museum open to visitors, Thomas lived here with his family and worked in the Writing Shed just above the house during the last four of his short 39 years. He wrote many great stories while overlooking the estuaries of the River Taf as it whisked away to Carmarthen Bay, including Under the Milk Wood. He died suddenly of pneumonia in 1953 while on a trip to New York City, but his body was returned to Laugharne and buried in the churchyard at St. Martin’s.

By Valentina Valentini

The Welsh poet had read the final version of the play Under Milk Wood in the former Salad Bowl Cafe in Tenby only a month before his death. Members of the Tenby District Arts Club were invited there to enjoy readings by Thomas on that night and earlier in 1949. A blue plaque now rests on a pillar in front of the what used to be the site of the café, now a private home on The Croft, not far from where Potter stayed half a century before.


Tenby feels like a Welsh fairytale, which makes it the perfect place for authors to spin their words into adventurous parables and heart-rendering poetry. I first fell in love with Tenby, Wales in 2016 on a trip to see a friend whose family has been there for generations. Known as a working holiday home to beloved writers and poets, Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, and Dylan Thomas, Tenby is enclosed by 13th-century medieval walls within which sea-washed buildings painted in pastels stand against the winds from the Bristol Channel. These days, hundreds of thousands of literary lovers and holiday-seekers from around the world flock to the idyllic sea-front town to enjoy its tranquility and historical significance. Visitors to Tenby can visit a commemorative plaque at 2 Croft Terrace, the property where children’s author Beatrix Potter stayed in 1900. While staying here, Potter

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wrote illustrated letters to the children of her former governess (who’d essentially raised her, typical in a Victorian family of status). The lily pond at the property is found in those letters, and she spoke of rabbits living in the cliffs – all details that ended up in her seminal work, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Over the years, I’ve gone back to Tenby and each time I hike the very trails along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Paths that Potter herself would have explored as her mind mulled ideas for some of the most iconic children’s stories of all time. Copies of the letters are held at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. Another of the great children’s storytellers, Roald Dahl, also stayed in Tenby. A plaque there commemorates The Cabin,



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Cultural Experiences

FADO: Lisbon’s Bittersweet Obsession By Debra Smith

Portugal’s seafaring explorers shaped the destiny of many nations. The essence of a sailor’s lonely and perilous life is reflected in the heartfelt songs of fado, Lisbon’s music of the soul. PORTUGUESE TRADITIONAL GUITAR

Under the domed stone ceilings of the O Faia restaurant in Lisbon, diners happily chat over meals of salted cod and beef tenderloin while glasses of green Portuguese wine sparkle in the candlelight. Slowly, the overhead lights dim, and a timehonoured announcement is heard: Silence; fado is about to be sung.

where sailors came to drink away their sorrows during the Age of Exploration. From the 15th to the 18th centuries, Portuguese ships sailed to Africa searching for a route to India, to the North Atlantic for cod, and to China, Japan and the Americas for trade goods, until eventually they circled the globe.

A hush falls over the bustling restaurant as Anita Guerreiro steps into the spotlight. Dressed in black, she slowly raises her head and begins to sing. She has no microphone. She is accompanied, in the traditional manner, by two guitar players, Fernando Silva, on a 12-string Portuguese guitar, and Paulo Ramos, on acoustic guitar. And also, by the audience – through their silence and appreciation, they become part of the performance. They lean in to listen to songs of love and laughter, sorrow and saudade (longing) and fado – fate and implacable destiny.

There are hints of the stories that were woven together through fado across Portugal at some of its most popular sites. In the rough and tumble alleyways of the Mouraria and Alfama districts near the harbour, the cultures of many countries blended with the lingering Islamic influences of the Arab occupation to produce a rich mélange of food, drink and music. The flat-backed Renaissanceera lute arrived with English wine and wool traders to become the teardrop-shaped Portuguese guitar. The first well-known fado singer or fadista, Maria Severa Onofriana, used it while singing her way from the streets to become the paramour of the Count of Vimioso before her early death in 1846.

The origins of fado are as clouded as the smoke-filled bars of Lisbon



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EUROPE. THE EARLIER, THE BETTER. Today, travellers will find tidy whitewashed buildings decked with hanging baskets of flowers and balconies draped with washing as they walk down the twisted steps of hilly, picturesque Alfama. At the bottom of the hill, the Museo do Fado holds rare instruments and video recordings of fado stars. Crowning the hilltop is the Castelo de Sao Jorge. This Moorish castle was captured by the first king of Portugal in 1147. Panoramic views of Lisbon and the Tagus River are worth the steep climb up the cobblestone streets. Eleven towers dot the ramparts and cork oak and olive trees shade the terraces and squares. Looking out, one can imagine the mothers and lovers of Portuguese sailors scanning the harbour from the towers reflected in the words of the song Fado Portuguese: “Fado was born on a day when the wind barely stirred... On the main rail of a sailing ship, in the heart of a seaman, while sorrowful he sang.” The agony of departure and the joy of arrival are both reflected in the songs of fado.


At 82, Anita Guerreiro, the adored fadista, has seen its revival in her lifetime. As she leads the crowd at O Faia into a chorus, it’s clear that fado is here to stay.

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At the harbour, across from Jerónimos Monastery, the unique Belém Tower rises out of the waves. Built to defend the harbour, its watchtowers and cannons proved more beautiful than beneficial when it was captured by Spain. In the distinctive Manueline style, elements of navigation – ropes, knots and shields – decorate its limestone walls. It remains a unique example of a fanciful fortress, with its crenellated battlements and carved rhinoceros head – the first representation of a rhino in Europe. As was common in the day, exotic animals were brought back to Lisbon from Africa and Asia and paraded through the streets as a signal of Portugal’s dominance in the world. The processions are fondly remembered in the fado song Lisboa Antiga (Old Lisbon). Like the architecture of King Manuel, the music of fado is forever intertwined with exploration and the sea. It has risen and fallen with the tides of favour, only to surface again as the irrepressible expression of Portugal’s national soul. Known as the queen of fado, Amalia Rodrigues was the first to introduce fado to a North American audience in the 1940s. Today, there are more than 20 casas de fado (fado houses) to be found in Lisbon. Thanks to fadistas like Ana Moura who introduced fado to a modern international audience, it’s now a popular world music genre.



Only valid on new bookings of select packages purchased between November 5, 2018 and December 31, 2019 for departures between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019. Minimum 5-night stay required. Applicable to flight-inclusive packages only. Valid for any flight class cabin. ■ ¹Book between 179 and 120 days prior to departure and save $500 per couple. ²Book between 119 and 90 days prior to departure and save $300 per couple. Offer can be withdrawn at any time. Subject to availability at time of booking. Not applicable to group bookings. Offers expire at 11:59 p.m. ET on the date indicated. Flights operated by Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge. For applicable terms and conditions, visit Holder of Quebec permit #702566. TICO registration # R50013536/W50013537. BC registration #32229. ■ ®Aeroplan and the Aeroplan logo are registered trademarks of Aeroplan Inc. ®Air Canada Vacations is a registered trademark of Air Canada, used under license by Touram Limited Partnership, 1440 Ste Catherine St West, Suite 600, Montreal, QC, H3G 1R8. 5925 Airport Road, Suite 700, Mississauga, ON, L4V 1W1. ME-6370

(All lyrics by Amalia Rodrigues, translations by Nat Dailey.)

Making your ™ dreams travel Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 33


The beauty of the less-travelled areas of Italy is what you’ll find more of—more intact ancient architecture, more wide-open views, and more local experiences. A tour gets you closer to these dolce discoveries—with more included features and unique discoveries— plus plenty of free time to explore the cobblestone streets like a local.

WITNESS AUTHENTIC BEAUTY Copenhagen, Denmark by Steve McCurry


GEMS OF UMBRIA & TUSCANY 9 days | roundtrip from Rome


Rome, Narni, Spoleto, Frantoio di Spello, Assisi, San Martino in Campo, Lake Trasimeno, Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, Orvieto, Rome

Milan, Busseto, Parma, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Rapallo, Gabiano, Turin, Vercelli, Milan



9 days | Naples to Sorrento

14 days | Rome to Palermo

Naples, Castel del Monte, Bari, Ostuni, Cellino San Marco, Alberobello, Castellana Grotte, Paestum, Sorrento

Rome, Castel Gandolfo, Sorrento Coast, Naples, Bari, Lecce, Alberobello, Matera, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Taormina Riviera, Agrigento, Palermo


From rolling hills dappled with majestic castles to a medley of Scandinavian architecture, Northern Europe embodies a whimsical landscape. St. Petersburg’s Hermitage is every culture enthusiast’s dream place and Iceland’s lava fields astonish the most ardent nature seekers. Sail back into the golden era of Prussian elegance, shuck oysters in Saint-Malo, and gain a better understanding of why Copenhagen is the world’s happiest city.


10 days | Palermo to Taormina Riviera Palermo, Erice, Motya, Marsala Area, Sciacca, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Caltagirone, Ragusa, Noto, Syracuse, Catania, Savoca, Taormina Riviera



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Cultural Experiences

Neighbourhood Culture:

Amsterdam Oost By Christina Newberry

Amsterdam’s hip eastern borough is a cultural mosaic where Surinamese take-out joints mingle with Middle Eastern greengrocers, modern boutiques and classic Dutch bars.

SHOP AND STROLL Locals shop at the Dappermarkt, a six-days-a-week street market where you’ll find everything from nuts and bolts to souvenir T-shirts. Eat your way through the food stalls to sample kibbeling (deep-fried battered fish chunks), broodje haring (a herring sandwich with chopped onion), and a cone of Dutch frites with satay sauce. Kids might prefer poffertjes (tiny sweet pancakes) sold by the jovial Ome Tom. For souvenirs, visit the monthly Pure Markt in Park Frankendael – then explore the park’s typically Dutch community gardens complete with charming cottages. If you’re looking for wooden clogs and don’t want to pay tourist prices, walk across the street to Intratuin, a huge garden superstore, where you’ll find a whole wall of them marketed to local gardeners. If boutiques are more your style, check out Czaar Peterstraat. This former shipping repair district is now lined with charming shops, where you can find clothes and jewellery made by local designers.



SETTLE IN FOR A SIP Oost’s best-known drinking establishment is Brouwerij ‘t IJ, the city’s oldest craft brewery. Housed in a former municipal bathhouse, it’s tucked between Amsterdam’s largest windmill and the Singel canal. The brewery’s sunny picnic tables are tough to beat in summer, but the idyllic pond-side terrace at Distillery ‘t Nieuwe Diep gives them a run for their money. Nestled in leafy Flevopark, the distillery is accessible only on foot – or, if you’re modelling the locals, by bike. This is a perfect spot to try jenever, the local juniper-based spirit. To immerse yourself in neighbourhood life, head to Walter’s (also known as the Walter Woodbury Bar) for one of the local favourites: gin and tonic or fresh mint tea.

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UNDERSTAND A TROUBLED PAST It’s impossible to talk about Oost’s cultural mosaic without acknowledging a history of slavery that brought so many cultures together in Amsterdam in the first place. The Tropenmuseum’s permanent exhibition “Afterlives of Slavery” showcases personal stories and artifacts that raise difficult questions about how a society moves on from a slave trade that ended only 150 years ago. In nearby Oosterpark, the abolition of slavery is celebrated every summer at the free Keto Koti (Broken Chains) Festival featuring Surinamese food, music, dance, and educational programming. If you’re not in town for the festival, visit the park’s national slavery monument, a moving work by Surinamese artist Erwin de Vries.


EAT YOUR WAY AROUND THE WORLD You’ll find just about every kind of cuisine on shopping street Javastraat, with Surinamese, Dutch, and Middle Eastern foods being most closely tied to the neighbourhood’s community. For Surinamese specials that change daily, head to Ricardo’s. If it’s Middle Eastern food you’re after, Nour restaurant has delicious kebabs. Supermarkt Tigris En Eufraat serves up excellent falafel wraps, or for a picnic, load up on containers of house-made hummus and baba ganoush. Dutch food is known for being heavy and deep-fried. For a modern take that showcases fresh local ingredients instead, try Wilde Zwijnen. The menu changes regularly based on what’s in season.


When to go August is the warmest month in Amsterdam, but April is the driest. Visit in summer for your best chance of good weather, but pack both your sunglasses and your umbrella.

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Soft Adventure


Iceland Life on and off the Ring Road By Debbie Olsen

The sparsely populated “land of fire and ice” is a Nordic nirvana filled with dramatic landscapes that entice intrepid travellers to take to the open road. The words “awe-inspiring” are a little overused when it comes to describing big landscapes, but I couldn’t think of a better phrase as I stood at the edge of Iceland’s Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon watching a massive glacier calve into the icy blue water. You feel small and insignificant in the face of such a monumental scene – and that’s the real beauty of it. The sheer abundance of such sites in Iceland makes it one of the world’s best road trip destinations. My husband, Greg, and I had been talking about visiting Iceland but when my brother, Justin, suggested we all go together, that sealed the deal. Meeting in Iceland and doing a road trip together seemed like the perfect opportunity to reconnect with my younger sibling.

We figured two weeks would give us enough time to make the 1,330-kilometre road trip around the entire island. Driving in Iceland is easy. Roads are well-maintained and Icelanders drive on the right side of the road and pass on the left. Fuel, however, was expensive. The sparsely populated Westfjords was one of our first stops. We loved the wild beauty of the area and, for us, the two biggest highlights were Dynjandi Waterfall and the Látrabjarg cliffs. We drove a long way on a gravel road to reach Dynjandi. Also known as Fjallfoss, the waterfall is nearly 100 metres high and about 60 metres wide at the bottom. It is perched high on a cliff face and there are other waterfalls below it. A rocky hiking path passes the other waterfalls and leads to the base of Dynjandi. The Látrabjarg cliffs on the westernmost point of Iceland are the largest seabird cliffs in Europe. These spectacular cliffs are 441 metres high and 14 kilometres long, but the best thing about them is the millions of seabirds that nest there. It’s a photographer’s paradise. We spent hours photographing puffins that were within an arm’s reach of us.


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After the Westfjords, we made our way to the northern region of the country, stopping at a local farm to ride Icelandic horses and play with some Icelandic


sheepdog pups before continuing on. We stopped the car often to go exploring and take pictures. There was plenty of time to chat and reconnect along the way. Our favourite stops in the north were Hverarönd geothermal area, Goðafoss Waterfall and Mývatn Nature Baths. The geothermal area is fascinating with its bubbling hot pots and hissing steam vents. Goðafoss means “waterfall of the Gods” and the 30-metre-wide waterfall is one of the most spectacular in the country. After our busy explorations, we deserved a soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths, the quieter “blue lagoon of the north.”


We eventually made our way to southern Iceland and the popular tourist route, the Golden Circle, known for its many waterfalls, geysers and glaciers. Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is an unexpected highlight of this region. This UNESCO Heritage site has a fascinating history and its location at the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates makes it one of


the few places in the world where you can walk in the rift between two continents. Our trip was made complete with a few days in Reykjavik. The capital has fantastically photographable architecture and great restaurants, but the highlight for us turned out to be the cemetery. As the three of us stood looking over the cemetery wall,

a friendly local who had been visiting his family’s graves offered us a free private tour, telling us about the country’s history, showing us graves of famous Icelanders. He also talked about families, family names and Icelandic culture. After a week spent reconnecting with family, our impromptu tour with this generous stranger was the perfect way to end our exploration of Iceland. Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 39

Soft Adventure

Tuscany on Two Wheels

By Mark Sissons

With the growing popularity of e-bikes, Italy’s most cycling-friendly region is becoming more accessible.

If there is one European active holiday destination tailor-made for exploring on two wheels, it’s Tuscany. Undulating landscapes dotted with golden wheat fields and ripe vineyards, winding climbs toward medieval hilltop villages, and superb wine and cuisine combine to make the Tuscan countryside bucket-list worthy. And now, thanks to the growing popularity of electric bikes, Tuscany on two wheels is a far more accessible proposition. E-bikes still require pedalling but come equipped with small electric motors that allow riders of differing abilities to keep

up. They provide power on demand, responding to and complementing your efforts. If you pedal hard, little battery power will be used. As you slow your pace, the electrical assistance kicks in and provides a welcome boost. According to the Italian cycling industry association, ANCMA, nearly 150,000 e-bikes were sold in Italy in 2017 – a 19 per cent increase in sales over the previous year. And with an estimated 35 million e-bikes purchased worldwide in 2016, the e-biking trend looks like it is here to stay.



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“Eat and drink, eat and drink. Up and down, up and down,” chants my cycling guide, waving his arms to simulate the rolling route ahead as he leads our group out of the hilltop town of Pienza, south of Siena. Practically unchanged since native son Pope Pius II ordered it transformed into the quintessential Renaissance town in 1459, Pienza is today most famous for producing Pecorino Toscano, a cheese made from aromatic milk produced in the sheep pastures in Val d’Orcia. Today is the beginning of our four-day exploration of Val d’Orcia, a land of singularly spectacular scenery dotted with fortresses, villages, and vineyards. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2004, this is the Tuscany of brochures and Instagram, swathed in olive groves, endless rows of cypress and beech trees, and centuries-old wineries that produce Brunello and other famous Tuscan wines. Today’s ride will take us on a 50-kilometre loop via Montepulciano and Monticchiello, two famous fortified hilltop towns. It’s a perfect morning – sunny, crisp and cloudless – as we cruise down the long twisting downhill road from Pienza, following a route that winds through scenic landscapes and timeless villages. Despite not being a seasoned road rider, I am still able to keep up with my fitter companions because I’m riding a Scott E-Sub Cross 10 e-bike. This state-of-the-art hybrid of old-fashioned pedal power and a sophisticated battery-powered motor that kicks in when I need it significantly narrows the gap between my fellow cyclists and me. At the press of a button, I can activate incremental levels of electric assist ranging from eco to turbo. On the downhill sections, which can span over a dozen kilometres, I rarely turn e-assist on. Nor do I often need an e-boost on the long flat stretches. But once we enter steep uphill sections of road, I’m able to zip along like I’m on a moped, enjoying the fantastic scenery while my human-powered companions are pedalling hard and digging deep. All this is not to say that e-biking isn’t a serious workout. With its bulky battery, my Scott e-bike is much heavier than standard road bikes, which makes cycling the long flat sections of road especially taxing. And I can always choose to switch off the e-assist modes and work up a real sweat, as I often do until the climbs become too taxing. Each morning, we set off from a former 15th-century convent beside Pienza’s town square called Relais il Chiostro that serves as our home base. In Montalcino, a classic fairytale hilltop town scarcely changed in 42 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019


appearance since the 16th century, we sample the world-famous Brunello di Montalcino wine made from Sangiovese grapes. In Montepulciano, which produces Vino Nobile, considered by connoisseurs to be one of the finest wines in the world, we lunch on fresh pici pasta at a winery called Salcheto. The ancient spa town of Bagno Vignoni reveals thermal pools where Roman senators once settled affairs of state in toga-optional grottos. An organic winery called Corte Pavone offers spectacular views of Val d´Orcia from its hilltop tasting room. Our evenings are also filled with genuine Cucina Toscana: Crostini Toscani dripping in chopped liver sauce; Panzanella, a cold bread salad made with fresh tomatoes and red onions; cured pork Lardo di Colonnata, Pappa al Pomodoro soup; Tagliolini al Tartufo, and Pici al ragù Toscano, among many other mouth-watering local dishes. By the time we cycle into the historic centre of Siena on our final afternoon, I’m totally sold on e-biking. On this most memorable tour de Tuscany, I have discovered that the ‘e’ in e-bike stands not for elettrico, but for estatico.

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Soft Adventure It was looking like a big, beautiful beach day – that is, until it wasn’t. Waking up to warm temperatures and cheerful skies, I loaded my backpack with sunscreen, sunglasses and a bathing suit. But by the time I rolled into the seaside town of Marsalforn, the clouds had crowded in – the outstretched arms of a hilltop statue of Christ on rocky Tas-Salvatur Hill reaching out, fully extended, but not calming the storm. Wind and waves crash in hard, driven into the Gozo shores by a rare “Medi-cane,” a strange, far-off cyclone, somewhere out there in the Mediterranean.



I wander the streets of the little port for awhile, finding no respite in the sidewalk cafés – usually redolent with revelry, now shuttered, their chairs and tables pulled back, safely indoors. But then, I meet Jean-Christophe Launier, a man whose sheer positive presence seems to light up a room – and he has a tuk tuk. I’m on Gozo, one of the two major inhabited islands that make up Malta. Sitting out in the middle of the Mediterranean, these islands, a famous destination for beach-seeking holidaymakers, are home to some of the oldest sites of human habitation, hosting whatever blew through on the trade winds. And they bear those often-beautiful marks: soaring cathedral domes, minarets and ancient temples and mosques, citadels and castles. It’s a place that rewards those who venture off the beaten path.

By Tim Johnson

Long ruled by the Knights of Saint John, these men made Malta into a fortress, a bulwark for Catholicism for centuries. Besieged by Suleiman the Magnificent and the Ottoman Empire, and colonized by Moors from Northern Africa, these islands also feature red phone boxes and doubledecker buses and a parliamentary government, because Malta was also a British colony. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE LAUNIER, TUK TUK DRIVER ©TIM JOHNSON



While beaches may be the main draw in Malta, writer Tim Johnson discovers there is more to this Mediterranean destination. 44 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019

Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 45


Not normal here, Launier tells me these tuk tuks were imported from Thailand. Quirky, and unexpected, I squeeze myself into the back of the little vehicle, and we bump onto the back roads, skirting the sea and ancient stone walls and the checkerboard pattern of 350-year-old salt pans, still tended by hand by local families. As the clouds begin to part, revealing a late-summer sun, I ask Launier why he moved to such a remote place. “Oh, it is paradise,” he says with a French accent. “The air is clean, the sky is clear, there is no pollution. I’ve never once regretted my decision to come here.” We make stops along the way, me wriggling out of the tuk tuk to see a natural arch carved into the limestone cliffs, the largest on the island since the Azure Window, once Gozo’s greatest tourist attraction, collapsed in dramatic fashion during a storm in 2017. I visit



the unusual, beautiful Ta’Pinu Shrine, often known as the Church of Miracles, where in the 19th century a local woman claimed to hear the voice of the Virgin Mary. Since then, many related healings have been reported, and pictures and crutches and canes hang on the walls in testament. I taste fresh flavours of the foods farmed on Gozo (cheeses and honey, mainly) and Launier tells me about the Maltese language, as multi-layered as these islands themselves. “It’s a reflection of all the cultures that came through here – Arabic and Italian, French and English,” he says. The remnants of these cultures are spread across the breadth of these islands, and I see them by taking the 15-minute ferry back and forth from Gozo to Malta’s main island. In Valletta, the capital, I pass through the main city gate and inside the 16th century

fortifications, wandering the tight grid of tiny streets, passing baroque buildings and St. John’s Co-Cathedral, completed back in 1577. Touring the Grandmaster’s Palace, the home of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, and still home to the offices of the Maltese president, I pass cannons and coats of armour. The place still, in every way, feels like a quintessential castle. Back in the tuk tuk with Launier, we see the Rotunda of St. John the Baptist in the village of Xewkija, said to be the third-largest unsupported dome in the world, before proceeding to some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. “Now do you see why I love this place?” Launier asks, as I peer down to the Mediterranean, seemingly a million miles below. Bumping back toward Marsalforn, the sun finally blazing overhead, I think that now – maybe – I’ll head to the beach.

Ultimate Family Vacations

Jumping in

to explore the Coast of

CROATIA By Rosalind Stefanac

Croatia’s abundant coastline provides the perfect backdrop for a family adventure. ENJOYING CORN ON THE COB ON THE BEACH ©ROSALIND STEFANAC



I can feel my heart beat quicken as I watch my teenage sons climb the jagged rocks that lead to a tiny ledge five metres up. As they hesitate near the top, I hear words of encouragement coming from the local kids waiting their turn (many of whom seem barely school-aged themselves). With some prodding, the boys eventually step onto the stone and take their first leap into Croatia’s Adriatic Sea – and then there’s no turning back. By the end of this trip my sons, ages 13 and 16, will have catapulted off the tops of boats and rock cliffs that look much scarier. They’ll even convince me to jump a couple of times and I’ll understand the appeal. Croatia’s translucent, turquoise waters look so inviting, it’s no wonder people jump in whenever the opportunity arises. Located between Central and Eastern Europe, Croatia is replete with charming towns, ancient monuments, picturesque parks and mountains. But what I’ve discovered after several visits here is that Croatia’s ultimate 48 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019

jewel is its coastline. Stretching nearly 1,800 kilometres from the Istria peninsula in the north to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Dubrovnik in the south, this coveted stretch of sea side has been drawing tourists from European countries and further for centuries. Add in Croatia’s more than 1,200 islands and islets and there’s another 4,000 kilometres of coastline to explore. We land in the capital city of Zagreb, claim our rental car at the airport and start the first of many scenic drives along the coastline. We skip the crowds of Dubrovnik entirely and spend our time in the central and northern regions. Our first stop is my husband’s hometown of Sibenik, an historic city dating back to 1066 located in an area called Dalmatia. Only a 15-minute drive from the beautiful Krka National Park, and a mere 49 kilometres from the popular city of Split, it’s an ideal base from which to explore numerous towns, parks and beaches. We don’t find many sand beaches along the coast, but we quickly acclimatize to the paved and pebbly rock variety where, for a nominal fee, we get comfy chairs with umbrellas – and sometimes coffee and bar service too. (Water shoes, available from local shops, are a must to avoid hot stones and the occasional prickly sea urchin.) We rent

paddleboats by the hour and the boys revel in finding their balance while windsurfing or jumping off water trampolines. In addition to typical fast food fare, beach vendors sell hot corn and crepes filled with jam or chocolate. Freshly grilled squid served with crispy fries becomes another of our favourite seaside snacks. Now that we’ve found our sea legs, our next stop is Kornati National Park, which is comprised of 89 uninhabited islands, islets and reefs. This sailor’s haven is also accessible by helicopter for a stunning panoramic view. But we arrange for a motorboat tour where our captain Marko entertains us with tales from his wild youth. At one point he anchors the boat and invites whoever is willing to jump off the roof. The water is so clear I can see the sandy bottom, and soon we’re all stripping into our bathing suits to take a mid-morning dip. We stop at an island restaurant to feast on freshly caught tuna and sea bass, grilled over a wood fire. During lunch, two donkeys wander over to investigate and my city slicker sons are completely enraptured. Eager to continue our island hopping, we head north to Cres, one of Croatia’s largest islands near the region of Istria. We settle in a place called Mali Losinj, dubbed the Island of Vitality for its more than 200 days of yearly sunshine, superb air quality and 280 kilometres of footpaths and bike trails. Every day there, we hike or bike a different path which takes us through fragrant pine forests and bustling campgrounds. We stop when the mood hits to take a dip in the sea or grab


an ice cream on the way. The island is also home to several hundred bottlenose dolphins and one morning we’re lucky enough to spot several in the distance. On our last day, we wake particularly early to get on the road toward home. Only it’s a lovely sunny morning already and my oldest has a request I can’t refuse. I watch as he makes his way towards the Adriatic a few metres away to take one last dip. Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 49

Health & Wellness

A fine

BALANCE In Switzerland, wellness is an appropriately indulgent practice. By Heather Greenwood Davis

I’m sitting on a floating dock in Lake Lauenen and wondering if life can get any better than this. The weather is warm, the breeze is gentle, and the sounds are simple: dragonfly wings, soft chatter from a nearby restaurant and sheep bleating on the hills in the distance. It’s the Zen-like reward for a beautiful, winding bike ride through the mountains of Switzerland. A ride that was made all the easier thanks to the electric bike I rode. When the daytrip is over, I’ll enjoy a glass of wine (or two) and not think twice before nibbling the sweet treat left for me in my room. There is no contradiction in that decision: Wellness in Switzerland means taking advantage of both the incredible outdoors and the indulgent pampering services. Devoid of both the sterile environments and brusque personalities of some other European spas, the Swiss seem to lean so far in the other direction that I almost feel a little guilty. Forget starvation regimes and wrinkle-shaming; the unapologetic loyalty to chocolate and cheese, that has long been a feature of a Swiss lifestyle, has made its way into the spa. They aren’t peddling excess. There is just an unspoken assumption that after a beautiful six-course meal, you’ll also make use of the pool or the spa, walk after dinner or hike in the morning.


And while their assumption isn’t always correct, there is something refreshing about a wellness approach that isn’t fixated on how many times I allow the waiter to refill my wine glass and beauty treatments that eschew words like “anti-aging,” and focus instead on helping me “age well.” It’s an approach that seems to be winning over visitors. According to the Swiss Tourism Board, about 20 per cent of visitors enjoy some sort of spa and vitality offering when in the country even though less than two per cent say it was the reason for their trip.




Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 51


FEEL FREE TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN HISTORY. Come aboard Europe’s Leading Cruise Line, unpack once and wake up to a new European city nearly every day. Explore the sights, sounds and flavors of different cultures —all on your own terms. Envision the ancient battles that once took place as you enter the Colosseum in Rome. Sit down, or dance around at a restaurant in Santorini and experience traditional Greek cuisine, wine and music. In St. Petersburg, take in vivid onion domes atop churches, explore the immense Hermitage Museum or spend an evening at the Russian Ballet. With eight award-winning ships to choose from including some of our newest ships, this will be a history lesson you won’t want to skip.


That doesn’t mean you can’t still get some of the traditional European-style medical wellness treatments you’re after. It just means that you’ll be encouraged to enjoy your life while you do. “No restrictions, just recommendations,” explains one spa director after I emerge in a dopey, spa happiness haze. “We want you to leave with the idea that what you do here can carry forward into your real life.” Switzerland also continues to do a good job of overtly pairing wellness with its number one attraction: Nature. People have been heading to the mountains and valleys of this country to relax for centuries. It was nearly 800 years ago that the healing thermal waters in the Tamina Gorge near Bad Pfäfers were discovered. And it was less than 200 years ago that the first Grand Resort came on the scene offering bath houses and accommodations that showed the perfect way to enjoy them. While larger spas and more lavish treatments are now the norm, most spas offer some option that will connect you with the country’s mountains and valleys. But it’s in Gstaad that I happen across a philosophy I can truly connect with. Their “come up, slow down” tagline speaks to what I’ve dreamed a Swiss experience would be. The indulgence starts with a meal in Gstaad’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Leonard’s. Locally sourced offerings bring a bounty of dishes to my table including a terrine de foie gras and a hazelnut-encrusted deer entrecote dinner that leaves me grinning long after it has been cleared from the table. I commit to both dessert and a hike the following day. My guide Karin Bach arrives just after breakfast in the morning. She shares that our morning will include a ride on the Wispile gondola before a hike along the top. And then she says the words that could’ve made me a hiker years ago, “…but first we’ll need to make a stop for cheese.” Gstaad is home to more than 200 dairy farms and literally as many cows as people (7,500 of each). It means that the local Molkerei (dairy), where farmers deposit their milk each morning, is a popular stop in the centre of town. Cheeses, yogurts, ice 52 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019


creams and more line the display cases. There is even a dairy vending machine out front if you’d prefer. I happily browse, but we’re here for something specific. Our “fondue rucksack” – literally a backpack filled with cheese, bread, a fondue pot and long forks – is packed as we wait. The ride up the mountain is gorgeous, and I feel my mood lift as soon as we step out of the Gondola 1,911 metres up. What was a “nice” day below is breathtakingly beautiful from this height. Our walk, through cow-nibbled grass, provides 360-degree views across the Lauenen Alps and the chalets of the Saanen valley. Sheep can be spotted in the distance; blonde cows look up on occasion. Aside from our intermittent conversation, there is little by way of noise. The chimes of the cowbells – chosen in varying sizes and tones so that farmers know their collective tune when out walking and can tell if a cow is missing – accompany our hike. Only the sound of the wind as it pops against the material of hang gliders before lifting them high above us, gives us pause. It is such a mellow experience that by the time we reach the giant wooden fondue pot-shaped picnic table for our snack, everything but the beauty of this place has been forgotten. We light the flame under our pot and began to indulge in the gooey goodness. It’s not long before curious passersby stop to chat and sample. The combination of good food, new friends, fresh air and incredible views is undeniable. It’s a spa without the spa. And as I toast this approach to wellness by dipping the bread tower on my long fork into the melted cheese for yet another time, I sense not an iota of judgment…even if my pants feel a tad bit snug.

©2019 NCL Corporation Ltd. Ships’ Registry: BAHAMAS and USA


38715 02/19



Worldly Delights

The Capital of

CHAMPAGNE By Mark Stevens

The city of Reims in the Champagne region of France offers up delightful diversions, particularly if you happen to be a history buff or wine-lover.


We’re marching through a dark, damp tunnel deep beneath the city of Reims in France’s Champagne region. I feel like that character in the Edgar Allan Poe story, lured by the villain deep into a wine cellar and trapped forever. But not to worry: Bastien Blanchard, our guide, knows these tunnels inside out. My wife and I have signed up for a cellar tour of the champagne house of Mumm’s, a capital champagne in the capital of Champagne. We’re learning the story of “the drink of kings” from this iconic region’s unique microclimate to the role of these vast (25 kilometres’ worth) arched tunnels.


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Best yet, there’s light at the end of these tunnels: a tasting at tour’s end back on the surface in a room boasting great arched windows, sunbeams shimmering on crystal champagne flutes and a battalion of bottles lined up along a hardwood bar. Those bottles – magnums – are considered the “perfect size for champagne,” says Blanchard, but I’m still taken by a display

of different bottles we’d encountered minutes ago in the caverns below. The larger bottles were named for Old Testament personages: pick up a Jeroboam, send out for a case of Methuselah, crack open a Balthazar. Now Blanchard explains both the samples we’ll imbibe and the grapes that infuse them as his assistant opens bottles with that characteristic “pop”. The champagne: Cordon Rouge. The grapes: chardonnay, pinot meunier, pinot noir. Earlier on (back in the underworld), we’d learned about the special qualities of the Champagne region for growing. “It’s a unique microclimate,” said Blanchard, “particularly the chalk subsoil. Great drainage for growing and these chalk tunnels provide just the right humidity and temperature for aging.” Unique these features may be, but they also explain why this Mumm’s tour isn’t. At least six other “champagne houses” (the cellars at Taittinger were originally Roman mines)


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it houses the very room where the Germans surrendered to the Americans at the end of World War II. As a result of damage from almost continual artillery barrages during World War I, Reims is now an intriguing mélange of baroque and art deco architecture, rebuilt from the ruins. The city’s imposing cathedral boasts a pedigree spanning a millennium along with scars from Reims’ more recent bellicose history. For nearly a thousand years, the coronations of French kings were celebrated here. Joan of Arc oversaw the crowning of Charles VII inside these very walls.


offer similar tours. Head out to the surrounding countryside, dining with perfect pairings in view of vineyards that decorate the region’s voluptuous hills or visiting the Museum of the Vine at nearby Verzenay. Or just explore this liquid legacy right in Reims. “Beneath the city of Reims,” says Blanchard, “there are 250 kilometres of chalk and limestone vaults where literally millions of bottles are aging.” Here in the tasting room, he shares the story of this particular champagne house. In the 19th century, three brothers from a German family of wine producers and merchants travelled to Reims based

on the excellent reputation of local sparkling wines. They formed a new company, G.H. Mumm, in 1827 and the rest is history. History abounds here, a discovery we make when we spend a couple of days exploring the allures of Reims. During a stroll through this city where Roman ruins still stand, we stop and reflect in a little garden surrounded by a stone wall. Memorial plaques are affixed to the wall inside. The gardens pay tribute to local victims of the Gestapo. Just west of here is a sombre red brick building that was once a schoolhouse. Now the Museum of the Surrender,

Boasting twin sky-reaching spires decorated by massive flying buttresses, sculptures and a façade delicate as lace though carved from stone, Notre Dame of Reims cathedral was severely damaged by those onslaughts of artillery. Today, along with the adjoining museum in the Palace of Tau, the cathedral is one of several local UNESCO World Heritage sites. At tour’s end, my wife and I browse the Mumm gift shop, emerging with a set of crystal flutes and a magnum of Cordon Rouge. Now it’s on to lunch at a sidewalk bistro then a visit to the Fine Arts Museum housed in an 18th-century former abbey. At day’s end, it’s back to our humble accommodation. Tomorrow, we’ll drive to Paris; we’ll fly back to Canada. But tonight, we’ll get our kicks from champagne.

O P F For some, it’s sitting down to the first five-star dinner of the trip, and being transported by the rich, unexpected flavors awaiting you. For others, it’s sailing into an exotic, remote port without another ship in sight. And for you, it’s the little things. Discover your moment.



56 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019


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Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 57

Worldly Delights



Every country has a classic cuisine – that dish or meal that you must order when you’re visiting. These places take the traditional and time-honoured – and add their own fresh, modern twist.


ZINGLEE (ATHENS, GREECE) Located in upscale Kolonaki, on the flanks of dramatic Mount Lycabettus, Zinglee, with its laid-back bistro feel, art deco décor and soundtrack set firmly to jazz, specializes in beef-and-Bernaise, paired with potatoes – a meal that’s been eaten in this part of Athens for decades. Zinglee is breathing new life into it with healthier cuts of meat, sourced from a single, Greek farmer, and breads made with organic flour, served with aubergine, beans, lentils gathered from other local farms.


WUWU (WARSAW, POLAND) These days in Warsaw, vodka is everything. Small, atmospheric vodka bars are popping up in every corner of this capital city, including WuWu, which brings food into the equation. Find it right next to the newly opened Polish Vodka Museum, which tells 600 years of liquid history in a former vodka factory. At WuWu, Chef Adriana Marczewska has created a menu that pairs well with vodka. 58 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019



Trade in your screens and daydreams for an unforgettable river cruise through the heart of Europe. With award-winning AmaWaterways, you’ll enjoy a variety of included excursions that reconnect you with the world around you. Savor authentic Austrian Wiener schnitzel and Grüner Veltliner wine. Pedal along the Danube riverside, hike to Cochem’s Reichsburg Castle and search for truffles in Avignon. And all the while, revel in the genuine warmth of spirit and personal connections you make to the land, the local people and our extraordinary crew.


CHICKEN KYIV (KIEV, UKRAINE) It’s the kind of dish your Ukrainian grandmother might serve at her house on special occasions – an old-school pleasure usually piled high with mashed potatoes. But this chic, new spot in Kiev has cut down on the portion size and added gourmet touches. They’ve included a lovely presentation of the time-honoured dish (chicken breast, stuffed with butter and herbs) on just a splash of mash. Try their other takes on Ukrainian classics, like vareniki (pierogies) with truffles.


MAAEMO (OSLO, NORWAY) Young Chef Esben Holmboe Bang sought to reinvent Norwegian cuisine, best-known for its variations of dried and pickled fish. Since then, Maaemo, Norse for “Mother Earth”, has become one of the hottest Nordic restaurants in the world, and Bang has been rewarded with three Michelin stars. Rather than lutefisk, try the caviar, or the hand-dived scallops.

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Worldly Delights

A Taste of

The Basque city of San Sebastian, known for its Michelin-starred restaurants, is the pinnacle of culinary destinations in Spain. The hard work of regional vintners and growers created the foundation that supports it. But, before we taste the gastronomy of San Sebastian, my friend, Mikel Urkijo, picks me up at the Bilbao airport and insists we tour the Basque interior to seek the roots of that perfection.


Saltwater from springs that bubble up to the surface through the salt deposits of ancient seas is still evaporated the way it was in Roman times at Salinas de Añana, or Salt Valley. Gravity moves saltwater along wooden troughs to shallow tables jutting out from the hillside like giant steps. They are supported by wooden scaffolding so encrusted with salt that it looks like a snowy landscape even in summer. The result is the purest form of salt, endorsed by many Michelin star chefs, used to season the great cuisine we are served everywhere we go.

By Richard Frisbie

From the Salt Valley to the Alorrenea Cider House, writer Richard Frisbie eats and drinks his way through the Rioja Alavesa region of Spain’s Basque Country.

The landscape of the region is dominated by rugged spires of rock to the north. The vast rolling plain below is ideal growing country, offering a patchwork vista of farms and vineyards fanning out around hilltop villages. Laguardia is the most picturesque; its ancient walls protecting narrow, pedestrian-only streets hiding a vast network of wine caves beneath them.



60 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019

One belongs to Casa Primicia, the oldest original winery in Spain. Here, the history of the early wine-making process is preserved. We take stone steps down to the 15th century wine cave before viewing the modern


Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 61

stainless-steel winemaking set-up in the back room. Casa Primicia’s award-winning wines are paired with the various courses we enjoy at the nearby restaurant, Los Parajes. My favourite dish is a traditional Basque potato and sausage “Rioja style,” a satisfyingly complex comfort food to match the fullbodied Julian Madrid Reserva wine of Casa Primicia.


The village of Villabuena de Álava, with a population of approximately 300, has more than 30 local vineyards. The Villabuena Wine Route received the Best of Bilbao-Rioja Wine Tourism Awards for 2019. We are the only tourists among a primarily Spanish-speaking crowd of locals but are welcomed and guided through courses served both in the Bodegas de la Marquesa, with award-winning Valserrano wines, and our hotel’s dining room. There, excellent wines are paired with course after course of traditional Basque dishes given a modern twist. My favourite is the venison macerated with Añana salt, mixed berries and violet potatoes. The red, wine-enriched juice of the berries puddled around violet potatoes, while the sweetness of the berries cuts the richness of the tenderized meat. It’s expertly paired with Valserrano Finca Monteviejo, but my favourite wine of the evening is the white Valserrano Gran Reserva. In a deep valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains are pastures with hedgerows containing fig and banana trees. Here we find the award-winning sheep cheeses of Ondarre. Owner Eneko Goiburu Murua shepherds 125 Latxa sheep between the distant fields and his barn daily. It’s a family operation dating back 450 years, producing hand-packed and turned cheese rounds. Its near-manchego consistency and taste have earned him the highest awards in the regional tasting competition. Each Saturday, his cheese sells for 23 euros per kilo at the largest regional farmers market in nearby Tolosa, while another local specialty – dried black beans – sells for 13 euros a kilo.



Basque cider is a low alcohol, probiotic drink, best enjoyed at informal, family-style cider houses. We eat eggs, cod, and rare steaks off the serving dishes at communal tables. Nearby, narrow streams of cider shoot out of the barrels to be caught in glasses, if we are lucky! The noisy, barrel-lined halls deliver a fun-filled, delicious gathering for all ages. We visit many more wineries and restaurants – there are hundreds to choose from – and other small towns and villages on our tour. These are just the highlights. Then, having earned our visit to the culinary delights of San Sebastian, we head north, with a stop-over in the regional capital, Vitoria-Gasteiz, to ease our way back into civilization. Its ancient, pedestrian-only centre is charming. Walking down tree-lined streets past many parks, we see why it was named European Green Capital in 2012, and why it is consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in Spain. Those accolades are well-earned and tempt us to linger in hopes of discovering its secrets.

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Sadly, Mikel and I barely pause. We thought we would be hungry for San Sebastian’s famed Michelin cuisine. Instead, country boys to the end, we decide on a pintxos (the Basque version of tapas) tour of the old town. It is a deliciously fitting end to an extravagant culinary journey.




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$3,139 CAD per person OCEANVIEW (price based on double occupancy, and includes port taxes & fees)




• • •

Complimentary Ensemble Traveller Cocktail Party Ensemble Traveller Host Complimentary Ensemble Experience Shore Event in Rhodes, Greece

*See terms & conditions for more details. †Subject to change for 2019 departures.

Fantastica Experience Drink Package. 7-night WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN Ship: MSC Divina Date: Summer 2019 Itinerary: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Sicily (Palermo) • Sardinia (Cagliari) • Palma de Mallorca, Spain • Valencia • Marseille, France • Genoa, Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia) I2 INTERIOR, O2 OCEAN VIEW AND B2 BALCONY

ENSEMBLE SPECIAL OFFER Fantastica Experience Drink Package includes: • 12 beverage vouchers for bars, restaurants and buffet • Wines by the glass, beers, non-premium spirits and cocktails, soft drinks, mineral water and hot drinks • Drink package for children is without alcohol.

*See terms & conditions for more details.

Cruise Vacations

Embark on a Journey of Discovery.

Savor the World with the Finest Cuisine at Sea™




Viking Longship Mirmir




November 6, 2020


August 16, 2019

Itinerary: Amsterdam, The Netherlands • Kinderdijk • Cologne, Germany • Koblenz • Miltenberg • Würzburg • Bamberg • Nuremberg • Regensburg • Passau • Melk, Austria • Vienna • Budapest, Hungary

$5,199 CAD per person CATEGORY F (price based on double occupancy and includes port taxes & fees)

Itinerary: Monte Carlo, Monaco • Antibes, France • Toulon • Mahón (Menorca), Spain • Ajaccio (Corsica), France • Portofino, Italy • Porto Santo Stefano • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy THE NETHERLANDS


per stateroom


Kinderdijk RHINE




(price based on double occupancy and includes port taxes & fees)


Koblenz Miltenberg

Book Grand European Tour by May 31, 2019 and

receive $150USD Shipboard Credit

$3,800 CAD per person




CANAL Prague Würzburg Nuremberg Rothenburg DANUBE Krems Regensburg Passau Melk Vienna AUSTRIA

• 10% Canadian Resident Savings

(reflected in above rate) DANUBE

• Pre-Paid Gratuities

Budapest HUNGARY

*See terms & conditions for more details.


*See terms & conditions for more details.

The Ultimate European getaway.

Western Mediterranean aboard Norwegian Epic.




Jewel of the Seas


Norwegian Epic


October 12, 2019


June 9, July 7 & August 4, 2019

Itinerary: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Chania (Souda), Crete, Greece • Mykonos • Rhodes • Santorini • Athens (Piraeus) • Naples, Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

Itinerary: Barcelona, Spain • Naples, Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia) • Florence/Pisa (Livorno) • Cannes, France • Palma, Majorca, Spain • Barcelona, Spain

$2,059 CAD per person

$1,849 USD per person



(price based on double occupancy, plus $76.50CAD port taxes and fees)

(price based on double occupancy, plus $111.50USD port taxes and fees)

Plus FREE at Sea

ENSEMBLE EXCLUSIVE OFFER Book by May 31, 2019 and receive up to $50USD Shipboard Credit per stateroom *See terms & conditions for more details.

FREE Unlimited Open Bar! FREE Specialty Dining FREE Shore Excursions FREE Wifi Friends & Family Sail FREE† FREE or Reduced Airfare† †On select sailings and from select gateways

*See terms & conditions for more details.

ENSEMBLE EXCLUSIVE OFFER Receive up to $300USD Shipboard Credit


Cruise Vacations


Prices displayed are in Canadian or US dollars. They include all government taxes (except HST/GST), fees and port charges if applicable unless otherwise stated. Additional fuel surcharges may apply. Additional agency fee may apply – please ask our Travel Agency for details. Prices stated are per person based on double occupancy and do not include airfare or transfers unless otherwise specified. In cruise bookings, where airfares are included, pre and post accommodations necessary due to flight schedules are at the passenger’s expense. Other conditions may apply and may vary depending on the cruise line or tour operator. We are not responsible for errors or omissions. The Ensemble Travel® Group makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein and to the best of its knowledge, all information is accurate at time of printing.

Opt-in for the breathtaking destinations, intriguing history, and memories for a lifetime. Choose fun.

ENSEMBLE HOSTED CRUISES: †Subject to change for 2019 departures CUNARD LINE: Fare applies to minimum BD category on a space-available basis at time of reservation. Fares for other categories not shown may vary. Fares are per person, do not include air travel, are cruise only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. These fares do not apply to singles or third/fourth berth guests. Offer only applies to voyages advertised in this promotion. This offer has limited space, is non-transferable, subject to change, and may not be combinable with any other public, group or past passenger discounts. Offer is available to residents of the 50 United States, Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the District of Columbia who are 21 years of age or older and receive this offer. Fares quoted in Canadian dollars. Please refer to the applicable Cunard brochure for terms, conditions and definitions that apply to all reservations. Ask about our applicable air add-on program. Ships’ Registry: Bermuda. ©2019 Cunard. The Cunard logo and logotype are registered trademarks of Carnival plc, an English company trading as Cunard Line. Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are trademarks owned by Cunard. All rights reserved in the United States and other countries.

9-day EUROPE Ship:

Carnival Legend®


August 9 & October 11, 2020

Itinerary: Barcelona, Spain • Marseille (Provence), France • Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy • Rome (Civitavecchia) • Naples (Capri/Pompeii) • Kotor, Montenegro • Dubrovnik, Croatia • Venice, Italy

REGENT SEVEN SEAS: Pricing subject to change. All fares are per person in Canadian dollars, valid for residents of Canada, based on double occupancy, for new bookings only and may be increased or withdrawn at any time. Not all promotions are combinable. 2-for-1 Fares are based on published Full Brochure Fares; such fares may not have resulted in actual sales in all suite categories and do not include optional charges as detailed in the Guest Ticket Contract. Fares include additional Bonus Savings. FREE Roundtrip Economy Class Air includes ground transfers and applies to domestic flights only from the following airports: YUL, YYZ. Airfare is available from all other U.S. and Canadian gateways for an additional charge. All airline fees, surcharges and government taxes are included; however airline-imposed personal charges such as baggage fees may apply. Custom Air arrangements may be made 270 days prior to sailing (custom air fees apply). CANADA AT PAR PROMOTION: Canadian dollars at par applies to new bookings on Penthouse and below categories on select voyages only made between January 5 through March 31, 2019 and is available to Canadian residents only. Cancels and rebooks will not be permitted and bookings will be vetted for eligibility. Offer is combinable with most standard offers, groups and national account amenities. Free Land Program is not combinable with Canada at Par promotion. Certain restrictions may apply. Ships’ Registry: Bahamas. ©2019 Regent Seven Seas Cruises®

$1,208.16 CAD per person 6A OCEANVIEW (price based on double occupancy, plus $272.47CAD port taxes and fees)

CELEBRITY CRUISES: Offer applies to 4-night and longer itineraries that depart January 1st, 2019 through December 31st, 2020. Bookings must be made between November 10th, 2018 and December 31, 2019. Offer excludes Galapagos and Future cruise bookings. $100USD per stateroom Shore Excursion credit will be applied in the form of an onboard credit. Offer is $100USD Onboard credit per stateroom for Concierge, and Aqua class cabins. Offers are applicable to new individual bookings and to staterooms in non-contracted group bookings, which must be named and deposited. Guests’ stateroom folios will be credited with an Onboard credit. Onboard credit has no cash value, is applicable to cruise only, non-transferable, not redeemable for cash, and will expire if not used by 10:00 PM on the final night of the cruise. Offer excludes interior, oceanview, standard veranda and suite staterooms. Offer is not combinable with any other offer, promotion or discounted fare other than Go Big, Better, Best offer. Single occupancy bookings are eligible for the Offer. Refer to Cruise Ticket Contract for additional terms and conditions. Celebrity reserves the right to cancel the Offer at any time, correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions, and change or update fares, fees and surcharges at any time without prior notice. ©2019 Celebrity Cruises Inc. Ships’ registry: Malta and Ecuador.

ENSEMBLE SPECIAL OFFER Book by May 31, 2019 and receive $50USD Shipboard Credit per stateroom

*See terms & conditions for more details.

AZAMARA CLUB CRUISES: Amenity offer Shipboard Credit is in U.S. Dollars, has no cash value, is not redeemable for cash, not transferable and will expire if not used by 10:00 pm on the last evening of the cruise. Shipboard Credit is valid for new individual FIT bookings only made in Club Oceanview staterooms or above. Shipboard Credit will be applied at time of booking. Offer not available to Groups. Offer is not combinable with other Shipboard Credit offers. Singles paying 200% receive the full stateroom amount. Offers are subject to change and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Certain restrictions apply. Canada Agencies: This offer is not valid for bookings made through a Tour Operator.

ms Nieuw Statendam

14-night NORTHERN ISLES Date: August 4, 2019 Itinerary: Amsterdam, The Netherlands • Newcastle-tyne, United Kingdom • South Queensferry, Scotland • Reykjavik, Iceland • Isafjor • Akureyr • Alesund, Norway • Bergen, Norway


Date: August 18, 2019 Itinerary: Amsterdam, The Netherlands • Flaam, Norway • Stavanger • Kristiansund • Oslo, Norway


Date: September 8, 2019 Itinerary: Amsterdam, The Netherlands • Eidfjord, Norway • Alesund • Geiranger • Bergen, Norway

$2,161 CAD per person OCEANVIEW CATEGORY C (price based on double occupancy and include port taxes & fees)

ENSEMBLE SPECIAL OFFER Book by May 31, 2019 and receive $50USD Shipboard Credit per stateroom *See terms & conditions for more details.

SAVE UP TO $1,482

per stateroom!

WINDSTAR CRUISES: All fares mentioned are per person, in U.S dollars; cruise only, based on double occupancy in lowest category, and include non-discountable amounts. Suggested onboard gratuities are extra. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional. Unless otherwise specified, Windstar is offering on select cruises a shipboard credit (SBC) in the amount of $100USD per person, subject to a maximum of $200USD per stateroom or suite. Single fares will earn a $100USD SBC. Consult your Windstar representative for promotional offer or discount combinability. Bookings are non-transferable; no name changes can be made nor can this offer be applied retroactively. Cancellation fees may apply, please see website for details. Certain restrictions apply. Fuel surcharges may be imposed or increased over time. Information contained herein is accurate at the time of publication and subject to change without notice. All terms and conditions stated on the Windstar website apply. Cruise is provided subject to the terms and conditions of the Passage Contract. Offer expires on May 31, 2019. Ships’ registry: Bahamas. SILVERSEA CRUISES: All Fares are in U.S Dollars/Canadian Dollars, per guest, based on doubleoccupancy in a Vista suite. Fares are capacity controlled and subject to change at any time without notice. Promotional Business Class Air rate of $699USD /$999CAD is each-way based on transAtlantic travel from select U.S. and Canadian gateways; Economy Class Air is provided on domestic US/Canada flights and intra-European flights. Promotional air offer is valid only for guests from the United States and Canada. Silversea reserves the right to select the air carrier, routing and departure airport from each gateway city. The Promotional Business Class Air rate is only available to the first and second full-fare guests in a suite. Airline baggage fees are not included. Deviations to air travel dates are accepted at a charge of $150USD per request plus all additional air costs. Due to flight schedules, some voyages may require an overnight hotel stay pre or post-cruise. This will be available for booking at an additional charge. In the event neither Business Class nor Economy Class air is available (determined at Silversea’s sole discretion) or for guests not utilizing the promotional air offer or for non-US/Canadian guests, a non-use Air credit in the amount of $1,000USD / $1,500CAD may be applied. In case of succeeding voyages made by the same customer (combo or multiple bookings) the non-use credit can be only applied once. Offer applies to new bookings made between April 1 and May 31, 2019. In case of succeeding voyages made by the same customer (combo or multiple bookings) the non-use credit can be only applied once. Additional restrictions may apply. Ships’ registry: Bahamas SEABOURN: All fares are in U.S. dollars, cruise-only, for new bookings only, per guest, double occupancy, subject to availability, and valid only for residents of the Americas. Some suite categories may not be available. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses of $305USD per person are additional. Fares are not combinable with any other offer, may vary by sailing date, are capacity controlled, and are subject to change without prior notice. All savings amounts are included in fares shown. Certain restrictions may apply. Information herein is accurate at time of printing. Seabourn reserves the right to correct errors. Ships’ registry: Bahamas. ©2019 Seabourn PRINCESS CRUISES: Fares apply to minimum lead-in categories on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares for other categories or sail dates may vary. Fares are per person, non-air, cruise-only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two passengers in a stateroom. Fares quoted in U.S. Dollars. Up to $60USD Onboard Spending Money is per stateroom. Offer is applicable to first/secondberth guests only. Onboard spending money may be used on a single voyage only, is not redeemable for cash, cannot be used in the casino and expires at the end of that voyage. Onboard spending money is quoted in U.S. dollars and is based on the ship’s onboard currency. Void where prohibited by law. Certain restrictions may apply, please refer to your travel agent for terms, conditions and definitions that apply to all bookings. ©2019, Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Ships of Bermudan and British registry. CRYSTAL RIVER CRUISES: All fares and savings are per person, in U.S. dollars based on double occupancy. Cruise Fares and Your Exclusive Fares are cruise only and do not include taxes, fees, and port charges of $250USD per person. Your Crystal Savings are subject to availability at time of booking. Your Exclusive Fare includes Crystal Savings as well as any applicable Savings if available and does not include Crystal Society or Early Full Payment savings. If shown, categories SG are guarantees for positive space only; room numbers may not be requested and will not be assigned until 24 hours prior to cruise departure date; 100% payment is due at end of option period; Guarantee Only Fares may

not be combinable with any other promotions including but not limited to Crystal Society Savings, Onboard Booking Discount, Early Full Payment Discount, Back-Back Savings, Combo Cruise Savings, Strategic Partnership Amenities, Group Promotions and Cruise Night Event Savings. Optional Personal Select Air Program is available to purchase for full-fare, full-cruise guests whose travel originates from a U.S. or Canadian airport and includes all government taxes and fees. Note: Early Full Payment savings do not apply to Personal select Air. Solo Traveler fares are available upon request. Crystal Society Savings are per person based on double occupancy. All offers may not be combinable with other promotions, apply to first two full-fare guests in stateroom or suite, are capacity controlled, subject to availability and maybe withdrawn or changed at any time without notice. For complete Cruise Fare and Promotional Information and General Ticket Terms and Conditions, contact your Ensemble Travel advisor. Crystal Cruises, LLC reserves to the right to correct errors or omissions and change any and all fares, fees, promotions and programs at any time without notice. HOLLAND AMERICA LINE: Fares are based on Promo LG. Featured fares are per person based on double occupancy, cruise or Land+Sea Journeys only. Fares are in Canadian dollars. All savings amounts are included in the fares shown. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are included at $137CAD. Subject to availability. For more information about our stateroom categories and suite descriptions, and to view deck plans and for full terms and conditions applicable to your cruise, please refer to or the appropriate Holland America brochure. Offers have limited space, and may be modified or withdrawn without prior notice. Other restrictions may apply. Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands. TRANSAT: 1Fantastica Experience Drink Package includes: 12 beverage vouchers for bars, restaurants and buffet and includes wines by the glass, beers, non-premium spirits and cocktails, soft drinks, mineral water and hot drinks. Drink package for children is without alcohol. Fantastica Experience package applicable only to stateroom categories: I2 Interior, O2 Ocean View and B2 Balcony. Additional terms and conditions apply. Flights are via Air Transat in economy class. Travel Agency fees may apply. *Transat advantages: Conditions apply. Ship`s registry: Panama. For full descriptions, itineraries, exclusive offer details and terms and conditions, refer to Transat is a division of Transat Tours Canada Inc., and is registered as a travel wholesaler in Ontario (Reg #50009486) with offices at 191 The West Mall, Suite 800, Etobicoke, ON M9C 5K8, in British Columbia (Reg #2454) with offices at 2175 West 41st Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia V6M 1Z6; in Quebec (Reg #754241) with offices at 300 Léo-Pariseau, Suite 500, Montreal QC H2X 4C2. VIKING: Grand European Tour price based on CAT F, select November 2020 Viking Longship sailings. All prices are in Canadian dollars and for Canadian residents only and are based on double occupancy. Special cruise fares and international air discounts are considered a single offer. International air does not have to be purchased to get cruise offer. Air offers valid on all published Canadian gateways. Prices are based on lowest at time of print and subject to change without notice. Must request offer at time of booking. Pay in full by current cruise and air promotions’ expiration date. Valid on new bookings only as of February 1, 2019, subject to availability and may not be combinable with any other offers except Past Guest Travel Credit and Referral Rewards Credit. Viking reserves the right to correct errors and to change any and all fares, fees and surcharges at any time. Additional terms and conditions may apply; see Passenger Ticket Contract at Offer expires May 31, 2019. CST#2052644-40. $150USD shipboard credit per stateroom valid as of February 1, 2019 on 2020 sailings of Grand European Tour. Offer combinable with Past Passenger discounts, and EBD offer. Offer is not combinable with Group Rates, Future Cruise Credit vouchers, FAM, Travel Agent Reduce Rate, Interline, and Wholesale bookings. Limit $150USD per stateroom. Shipboard credit must be requested by travel agent at the time of booking. Shipboard credit cannot be applied towards onboard gratuities. No cash value. Shipboard credit offer expires May 31, 2019. ROYAL CARIBBEAN: Price is per person, in Canadian dollars, cruise only, applies to select sailings, based on double-occupancy, and reflects any promotional savings. Shipboard Credit (SBC) offer is valid for new individual (FIT) and named group bookings made in select Ensemble US or Canada Headquarter Group sailings by May 31, 2019. Individual reservations may be transferred into an existing group, assuming required criteria are met. Offer includes up to $50USD SBC per stateroom. SBC is in U.S dollars, has no cash value, is non-transferable, not redeemable for cash, and will expire if not used by 10:00 PM on the last evening of the cruise. SBC will be applied automatically to all eligible reservations. Offer open to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean. Prices and offers are subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled, and may be withdrawn at any time. Refer to your travel advisor for complete terms and conditions. ©2019 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: Bahamas. OCEANIA CRUISES: Offers and fares are subject to change on July 1, 2019. Contact Your Travel Advisor for current pricing. 10% Canadian Resident Savings promotion is capacity controlled, available for Veranda staterooms and above, and proof of Canada residency required at time of booking. Ask for Promotion Code: CANADA. All fares are per person in Canadian dollars, valid for residents of Canada, based on double occupancy (unless otherwise noted), for new bookings only and may be withdrawn at any time. Free Internet amenity does not include streaming and includes one log-in per stateroom, except Owner’s, Vista & Oceania Suites, which receive two log-ins per suite. Visit for more details. Cruise-Only Fares do not include OLife Choice amenities or airfare. All Fares include government fees & taxes. Oceania Cruises reserves the right to correct errors or omissions and to change any and all fares, fees, promotions and surcharges at any time. Canadian Resident rate subject to Canadian exchange rate. Ships’ Registry: Marshall Islands NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE: Valid on select 3+ day sailings. Haven, Suite & Concierge bookings receive all 6 offers; Oceanview, Balcony & Mini-Suites choose 3; Studio & Insides choose 1. Gratuities, Beverage and Specialty Service Charges may apply. Significant details and limitations apply to Free at Sea offers: Free Unlimited Open Bar, Free Specialty Dining Package, Free WiFi, Free Shore Excursions, Friends & Family Sail Free and Free Airfare. Free and reduced airfare on select cruises from select gateways. Pricing is per person based on double occupancy and is subject to change. For full terms and conditions please contact your travel professional. ©2019 NCL Corporation Ltd. Ships’ Registry: Bahamas and USA. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE®: Cruise rates are per person and based on double occupancy. Onboard credit offer is non-transferable. Onboard Credit is provided as a non-refundable credit to your Sail & Sign account of up to a maximum of $12.50USD per person up to $25USD per stateroom on 2-5 day sailings. Onboard Credit is provided as a non-refundable credit to your Sail & Sign account of up to a maximum of $25USD per person up to $50USD per stateroom on 6+ day sailings. Guest selects stateroom number. At least one person in the stateroom must be a resident of an eligible Canadian Province to book this rate. Proof of residency required at the time of embarkation. Changes made to the reservation may result in the assessment of cancellation penalties or service fees. Offer is capacity controlled and is not combinable with any other discount or promotional offer. Rates may vary by ship, stateroom type and sail date. Category restrictions and exclusions apply. Carnival reserves the right to withdraw and/or change offer at any time without prior notice. Offer is for the cruise fare only and does not include Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses range from $54.06CAD to $372.40CAD, and are assessed on a per guest basis for all guests according to the itinerary. Offer bookings made as part of a group will include amenities. ©2019 Carnival Corporation. Carnival® and the Carnival logos are trademarks of Carnival Corporation. All rights reserved. Used under license. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama and Malta. ENCORE CRUISES: Must book Encore $50USD Shipboard credit. The prices are per person, cruise only, based on double occupancy in Canadian dollars, include taxes and were available at time of print, February 7, 2019. They are applicable to new individual reservations only, made from by May 31, 2019. The categories indicated above are subject to availability. 1. Shipboard credit is per stateroom in U.S Dollars, has no cash value, is not redeemable for cash, not transferable and will expire if not used by 10:00 pm on the last evening of the cruise. Offer is subject to availability; capacity controlled and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Other restrictions may apply. All references to Holland America Line are: ©2019 Holland America Line. All rights reserved. Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands. For full terms and conditions, see or contact us. ©2019 Encore Cruises is a wholly-owned division of 2515589 Ontario Inc. B.C. Reg. # 3597. Ont. Reg. # 50012702. Quebec permit holder # 703 343. 5450 Explorer Drive, Suite 300, Mississauga, ON L4W 5N1

Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 75

T R E AT Y O U R S E L F T O A W O R L D C L A S S G E TAWAY No matter the reason for your travels, you should have the freedom to stop and go as you please. Renting with Avis puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you the ability to go wherever, whenever. CONTACT OUR TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS FOR THE BEST RATES. ©2019 Avis Rent A Car System, LLC

Manulife Premium Protection Plan


Travel insurance just got easier.

A simplified travel insurance product that offers all-inclusive coverage for travelling Canadians.

WEEKENDS ARE FOR ADVENTURERS. Get great rates when you rent Budget. There’s nothing more exciting than a road trip. Whether it’s a family vacation to a national park or a solo adventure to a bucket list destination, Budget is the way to go.

The Manulife Premium Protection Plan offers: • Up to $10,000,000 Emergency

Medical Insurance

• All-inclusive coverage, featuring the

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• Assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week • Fewer exclusions and no medical questionnaire • Great value

Please contact our travel professional for details.

Contact our travel professionals for the best rates. *Certain conditions, limitations and exclusions apply. See policy for details. Underwritten by

The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife) and First North American Insurance Company. Manulife, Manulife & Stylized M Design, and Stylized M Design and Manulife Premium Protection Plan are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license. © 2019 The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. All rights reserved. Manulife, P.O. Box 670, Stn Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2J 4B8. ©2019 Budget Rent A Car System, Inc.

190034 (03/2019)

The Ethic Report Detours


THE ETHIC REPORT Travel Matters in Europe By Karen Leiva

From supporting local businesses to helping weavers preserve ancient arts, there are opportunities to travel with a purpose when it comes to your next holiday. UNDISCOVERED GEMS Globus recently unveiled a new roster of Undiscovered tours introducing travellers to hidden gems in Wales, Scotland and England. Travelling to off-the-beaten-path locations takes pressure off more popular sites (many of which are experiencing the impact of over-tourism) and provides more opportunities for local businesses. Plus, it gives visitors the chance to experience some of the country’s most charming villages and rural routes. Look for itineraries that include a six-day Hidden Treasures of Southern England featuring visits to the mystical New Forest and the Isle of Wight (a personal favourite of Queen Victoria); or the Scottish Highlands and Islands tour to wild and remote corners of that country. HOLDING HERITAGE The Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti, a weaving workshop in Italy supported by the TreadRight Foundation, uses antique looms to create cushions, table runners and scarves on looms that date back to the 18th century. “Perugia, in medieval times, was the most important town in Italy for materials. The techniques (used at the workshop) survived only in a convent,” said Marta Cucchia, the workshop’s weaving master. “So many studios like this have closed and we are one of the last. If I stop my work, we cut the long thread of the tradition.” See the workshop on Insight Vacations’ 16-day itinerary, Country Roads of Italy, and Trafalgar’s 11-day Italy Bellissimo tour.

Sorrento, Italy

On a Carnival® cruise there’s no shortage of fun! You’ll do more than just pass the time as you sail from port to port, not to mention the amazing destinations, delicious cuisine, exciting nightlife, and spectacular entertainment. From the intriguing history of Europe to the postcard perfect glaciers of Alaska — there’s truly no end to all the memories you can make onboard and ashore.


9 Day Europe From London, England June 28, 2020 Carnival Legend® Le Havre; La Coruna; Leixões; Lisbon; Gibraltar; Málaga; Barcelona 9 Day Europe From Barcelona, Spain September 28, 2019 Carnival Radiance® Livorno; Rome; Naples; Messina; Marseille; Palma De Mallorca 7 Day Alaskan From Seattle, WA May 28, 2019 – August 27, 2019 Carnival Legend® Cruise Tracy Arm Fjord; Skagway; Juneau; Ketchikan; Victoria


SHARING THE NEWCOMER EXPERIENCE IN ITALY In Rome, which sees high numbers of tourists flocking to the Vatican and Colosseum, G Adventures has introduced a new way to experience the city: Migrantours. These tours offered in larger itineraries, such as the 14-day Ultimate Italy or seven-day Local Living Italy Coastal Tuscany, take aim at recent challenges the country is facing with an influx of more than 50,000 migrants (mostly North African) in recent years. Led by a newcomer to Rome, the tours introduce travellers to local businesses, associations and places of worship important to migrants. The idea behind the tours is to share knowledge of migrant issues, but also to generate much-needed revenue.

© 2019 Carnival Corporation. Carnival® and the Carnival logos are trademarks of Carnival Corporation. All rights reserved. Used under license. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama and Malta.

Vacations® • Spring 2019 • 79

Profile for Ensemble Travel

Vacations Current Edition CA  

Vacations Current Edition CA