Jordan Top Bucket List Experiences Unforgettable
Bhutan Riding the Rails Through the
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12 6 2019 Top Bucket List 12 Extraordinary Jordan 20 Riding the Rails Through the Rockies 26 U nforgettable Bhutan 32 Across the Atlantic 36 Cruising Through Asia 44 Exploring the Land of the Long White Cloud
51 Extraordinary Experiences Offers COVER IMAGE: Petra, Jordan ©Getty Images (see page 12 for full story)
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Bucket List EXPERIENCES By Karen Leiva
From classic adventures to over-the-top expeditions, 2019 is going to be an exciting year for topping up your bucket list.
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EGYPT BOUNCING BACK The great pyramids of Giza, King Tut’s treasures and the tombs in the Valley of Kings continue to draw modern day explorers to Egypt. Alongside these ancient historical sites, Egypt continues to reveal secrets from dynasties of pharaohs long past; just recently, in December 2018, the country’s Ministry of Antiquities announced that a new tomb belonging to a priest, believed to be more than 4,000 years old, was unearthed south of Cairo. Another reason to plan a future trip to Egypt is the Grand Egyptian Museum, expected to open in 2020. With a price tag of $1 billion, this highly anticipated (and much-needed) modern museum will showcase the country’s precious relics. The United Nations World Tourism Organization reported in December 2018 that travel to Egypt is on the upswing. Look for tour companies in Ensemble’s trusted network, such as Insight Vacations, to take you there.
EXPERIENCE YOGA IN INDIA Wake up at dawn and salute the sun looking over one of India’s most sacred rivers, The Ganges, with the misty Himalayas as your backdrop. India is the ultimate destination for a wellness retreat. Head to the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, Rishikesh, north of Delhi, where ashrams and temples line the holy river and traffic is limited to rickshaws in pedestrian-only areas. Following ancient sacred scriptures, yogis only eat vegetarian cuisine – as such, non-vegetarian food is banned from Rishikesh. Wellness-seekers have been traveling to The Ganges for decades now – even The Beatles stayed at an ashram in Rishikesh to practice yoga and meditate in the 1960s. Top your visit off with an authentic Ayurvedic treatment to balance your body, mind and spirit. Ask your travel agent about Goway’s four-day itinerary, Rishikesh Wellness Retreat.
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WINTER WONDERLAND From the tips of South America, Antarctica has long enticed voyagers and explorers to discover its polar delights in icy solitude. With its glacial mountains inhabited only by wildlife, the South Pole is sure to leave you wondering if you’ve reached another planet altogether. Traveling from Ushuaia in Argentina, plan for the ultimate polar expedition: spend a few days cruising through the legendary Drake Passage (named after a 16th-century explorer, Sir Francis Drake, and
known for its rough waves). The passage eventually gives way to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula where Zodiacs, kayaks and even polar snorkeling are just a few ways to get close to ice floes, icebergs and extraordinary wildlife, including seabirds, seals, whales and penguins. As part of its Earth Journeys, Tauck offers itineraries created in partnership with BBC Earth that are sure to appeal to adventure travelers looking to experience this polar region with experienced naturalists.
AUSTRALIA’S ROMANTIC TRAIN JOURNEY Travel for hours and take in the vast desert that somehow gives way to jungle – the trip between Alice Springs to Darwin in Australia will leave you in awe. This journey can be made by bus but doing it on the legendary Ghan Train with Globus is that much more romantic. This extraordinary experience begins in the Outback, where travelers flock to see Uluru / Ayers Rock. More than just a massive sandstone, Uluru is a place with cultural and spiritual significance for indigenous people. The overnight train ride ends in the lush national parks of Darwin in Northern Australia where travelers come for a glimpse of saltwater crocodiles. There are more bucket list experiences to be had: dive the Great Barrier Reef or marvel at the country’s iconic wildlife on Kangaroo Island. 8 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
DEEP SEA EXPLORATION For the ultimate bucket list adventure, Kensington Tours has partnered with the Nekton Ocean Research Institute to offer a truly historic, once-in-a-lifetime experience aboard a deep-ocean science submersible in Seychelles. Aside from diving in previously unexplored waters and having access to a remote tropical location, Mysteries of the Deep allows travelers the chance to participate in activities on a working scientific research vessel. “Nekton’s last mission in Bermuda with leading scientists from Oxford University resulted in the discovery of a new ocean zone called the Rariphotic,” said Jeff Willner, Kensington Tours founder. “Every time we dive in Aldabra, it will be a first descent for humankind. This is true science and adventure.” Expeditions are scheduled for March 2019 with prices for eight people starting at $350,000 per tour. OFF THE BEATEN PATH Some of the most extraordinary travel experiences come when we push the limits of our comfort in countries that are not familiar to most tourists – places like Senegal, Uzbekistan and Iran come to mind. Tourism is on the upswing in Uzbekistan and Iran; these unusual places are attracting adventure travelers with formidable cultural experiences, ancient mosques and temples, and exotic bazaars in historic cities. In Africa, head to
Senegal, a West African country with rich history in the slave trade. There are unique wildlife experiences to be had at the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Senegal River Delta. This is a key migration sanctuary for 1.5 million birds including purple herons and African spoonbills. G Adventures has a mixed bag of guided tours that make travel to these far-flung places easy and safe.
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Donkeys at Petra ÂŠKaren Leiva
Jordan By Karen Leiva
From hiking a world wonder to staying at an ecolodge in the desert, this small Middle Eastern country is a haven for adventure travel. Guests can spend the day with Bedouin shepherds learning | Extraordinary 2019 about12 their traditional way ofExperiences life ÂŠFenyan Ecolodge
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Karen Leiva visiting Iraq Al-Amir ©Karen Leiva
A historic body of water referenced in the Torah, Bible and Quran; a place where people go for healing water – floating along in the Dead Sea was a bucket list experience that I had romanticized long before I arrived. Karen and Sarah at Petra In reality though, my experience turned ©Karen Leiva out to be far more comedic than romantic – covered head-to-toe in therapeutic mud dredged up from the sea, annually). The number of travelers steeply declined my friend and I laugh watching one another struggle to keep following civil unrest in the region during the 2011 our legs down even in shallow parts of the water. The high level Arab Spring. Jordan, however, has maintained peace of salt in the Dead Sea (almost 10 times more than any ocean) over the years and its tourism industry is committed makes the water so dense, it is nearly impossible to stand, let to visitors’ safety. While traveling with Egypt & alone swim. Beyond, safety was never a concern.
It is the first of many pleasant surprises to come while traveling in Jordan. My friend, Sarah, and I have come to Jordan on a customdesigned tour with Egypt & Beyond, an exclusive Ensemble on-location tour company. Our primary goal is to experience the Dead Sea and Petra, but we quickly realize there is so much more to this destination. Many people come to Jordan for just a few days, tagging it onto other trips to Israel or Egypt; but, with a wide range of extraordinary opportunities to explore nature, holy sites and thousands of years worth of archeology, Jordan is a travel destination on its own. There was a time when tourism was the country’s main industry (at its peak in 2010, Petra saw more than 900,000 visitors
These days, more travelers are starting to return to Jordan – nearly 800,000 people visited Petra in 2017. It’s a great time to see this world wonder, particularly in the shoulder season when crowds are thin, and the weather is cool. One of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, Petra was carved out of sandstone mountains thousands of years ago. The city, built by Arab nomads called the Nabateans, was once a key location along an important trade route in Asia. Over time, Petra was conquered, abandoned, destroyed by an earthquake, and then rediscovered and shared with the world in the 1800s. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 13
During our visit to Petra, we are fortunate to have a former archaeologist as our guide. As impressive as the ‘lost city’ is, our guide explains that not all of it has been revealed – it is estimated there is still more than 80 per cent of the city to be unearthed. The most well-known of Petra’s sites is the Treasury with its intricately designed façade cut into the red sandstone rock face. But, beyond this magnificent site, it is possible to hike further and explore other tombs and monuments. Dodging donkeys along the way, my friend and I hike past the Treasury to reach a mountain-top tomb called the Monastery. It’s quite a climb, ascending 850 steps cut out of mountain rock – but it’s worth it. At the top, we stop long enough to catch our breath and enjoy a fresh pomegranate juice from a café overlooking the site. Believed to have once been used as a church, the Monastery is one of Petra’s largest monuments standing 158.5 feet high and 154 feet wide. After clocking 22,000 steps on my Fitbit exploring Petra for eight hours, it’s time for Sarah and I to change tracks and head inland to experience the desert and its semi-nomadic Bedouin communities.
Sarah making way for a donkey on the hike to the Monastery ©Karen Leiva
Off the main highway, we are picked up by a driver in a 4X4 truck who takes us twisting and turning through the darkness of the Dana Biosphere Reserve, one of Jordan’s national reserves. The pitch black of the evening suddenly gives way to candlelight leading to an ecolodge. Traveling with Egypt & Beyond gives us exclusive access to this remote lodge, created by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and hailed by environmentalists for its commitment to sustainability and ecotourism. Tucked into the desert mountains, the Feynan Ecolodge has racked up a series of international awards, including being named among National Geographic Traveler’s Top 25 Ecolodges in the world. True to its commitment to the environment, there is no electricity. With only limited solar power, the lodge is lit by candles at night; approximately 4,000 candles handcrafted on-site by local women are burned here every month. On arrival, we are whisked into the dining area and welcomed with a candlelit spread of traditional Bedouin vegetarian cuisine of locally-made breads, eggplant, hummus, and cauliflower covered in tahini. Our first evening ends on the rooftop under a blanket of stars where a young Bedouin man weaves stories of Arab 14 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
Making ceramics at Iraq Al-Amir ©Karen Leiva
Standard King Room ©Fenyan Ecolodge
Fenyan Ecolodge candle-making workshop ©Fenyan Ecolodge
Making lunch at Iraq Al-Amir ©Karen Leiva
farmers’ interpretations of the constellations. With no surrounding light pollution, we can easily spot the Milky Way, Orion, and the Little Dipper, among others. The sand-colored lodge with open-air hallways and courtyard blends seamlessly into the desert environment. Staff are made up entirely of Bedouins; many don’t speak English but welcome you with smiles and kind gestures. On one day, Sarah and I walk to meet locals for a demonstration on bread-making (cooked in coals, covered in sand), led by Sulieman Hasaseen, who works in the lodge’s reception. “This is my family home,” he says, just a short walk away from the lodge. He points to a cluster of tents covered Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 15
Fenyan Ecolodge ©Fenyan Ecolodge photo by Brian Scannell
with black tarps hand-made with goat hair. There’s also a herd of sheep, goats and a small vegetable garden. “As you can see, I do not have far to commute to work.” Following generations of a nomadic lifestyle, Bedouins continue to live in tents along the wadi (a dry valley that can flood in the rain season), moving twice annually – they relocate further in the mountains for cooler temperatures. We see many of their camps as we hike for four hours on easy terrain along the wadi, waving to children running out of tents to greet us along the way. Visiting the lodge leaves us another reason to be in awe of Jordan, but soon it’s time to make the three-hour journey back to Amman for the final leg of our tour. Our last stop is a visit to a women’s artisan co-op in Iraq Al-Amir, a small village on the outskirts of Jordan’s largest city. The Iraq Al-Amir Women Cooperative Society aims to help women who would otherwise not have opportunities to work. To date, more than 150 women have received training here. Some make beautiful ceramics (I bought a large vase), natural olive oil soaps and cards. 16 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
Sarah and I decide to take our last meal in Jordan here at the co-op with the women preparing for us a simple, but exceptional mezze – a spread of small plates serving bread, jams, olives, fermented yogurt, and galayet bandora, a traditional tomato stew. By the time we are finished tucking in, we are completely satisfied – not just with the food, but with our entire visit to Jordan. We say our farewells to the women at the co-op, thank them for their hospitality and receive warm hugs in return. It’s the perfect end to our journey.
TIPS TO TRAVEL SMART • In Petra, travelers can help preserve the site by staying on marked trails • The perfect Instagram picture is tempting, but guides recommend not paying children (who should be in school) to lead you to picture-perfect spots around Petra • Jordan is facing a water shortage; conserve water conscientiously
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Set sail for the family adventure of a lifetime as you discover exotic ports-of-call the world over. Enchanting locations include majestic Alaska, the tropical Caribbean, the blissful Bahamas, and more than 15 European countries. Stunning vessels that pay homage to the grand era of the luxury ocean liner, Disney’s 4 distinguished ships pamper Guests with state-of-the-art comforts, legendary service and Disney-exclusive activities that bring families together en route to exotic ports of call. From bow to stern, each magnificent ship brims with restaurants, nightclubs, shops and recreational facilities that make cruising a pleasure for Guests of all ages. With so much to experience built right in, getting there is half the fun! Ships’ Registry: the Bahamas.
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Riding Rails the
Rockies By Jennifer Bain
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On a luxury rail journey through British Columbia and Alberta, travelers feast on scenery and food aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. There she is, just as promised, standing on the porch of her pale yellow house, waving as we thunder by on a blue and gold train. Her name is Doris Lund and she is religious about greeting the Rocky Mountaineer every time it passes. Doris’s dog recognizes the luxury tourist train’s distinct sound and barks an alert. Intrepid train staff tracked Lund down a few years ago and invited her for a ride. On the day that Lund passed through Canoe, British Columbia, staff stood on her porch as a surprise and waved flags as she passed.
“So much sweetness,” reminisces our co-host Ariel Anderson. I am on the train’s flagship route, First Passage to the West, which debuted in 1990 and is still the most popular. I travel from Banff to Vancouver through the Rocky Mountains, admiring the Spiral Tunnels and Painted Bluffs, marveling at Hell’s Gate, and passing Craigellachie where the ceremonial final spike was driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 21
All Aboard Amazing Starts Here - Carve your way through the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies onboard the world-renowned Rocky Mountaineer train. Sky-high peaks, exquisite cuisine, and impeccable serviceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a journey through the Canadian Rocky Mountains by rail is quite simply, unforgettable. Embark on an adventure that takes you from the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver to iconic destinations Lake Louise and Banff. Glide by gondola over treetops and witness the wonders from above during a Panoramic Helicopter Tour. The views are enough to keep you enthralled, but beyond that, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the chance to make new friends and connect with your traveling companions as you take in this memorable trip of a lifetime. For special offers from Rocky Mountaineer, please see page 52. 22 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
“Non-stop glimpses of amazing” are promised and delivered. The astounding scenery is not new to me, but it is always a joy to see it, plus it’s a pleasure to view it through the eyes of excited American, Australian, European and fellow Canadian travelers on bucket-list trips.
Little shops of Banff
“Elk on the left.” “Mountain goats on the right.” “Bald eagle on the left eating a salmon.” Our hosts urge us to shout out wildlife sightings like they do because “if only one person sees it, then it might just have been a log.” An Indigenous cemetery, sagebrush, ginseng farm, hoodoos and “Chatêau de Osprey” – there is much to see and extensive commentary to hear. We admire unexpectedly snow-kissed fall colors. But the sun shines and the Kokanee salmon, a landlocked sockeye, are heading home to spawn, their vivid red, bodies wiggling joyfully in shallow rivers. The train’s routes don’t change, but each journey is unique. The Canadian government created this “Canadian Rockies by daylight” experience in 1988 and Via Rail ran it for two seasons before selling it. The Rocky Mountaineer launched with this route and another to Jasper called Journey Through the Clouds. Rainforest to Gold Rush showcases remote parts of B.C., and Coastal Passage connects Seattle with Vancouver, Lake Louise or Banff. The Rocky Mountaineer transports about 100,000 people a year between April and October, sharing tracks with Via, Amtrack and freight trains and traveling on average at 30 miles per hour. The world’s largest privately-owned
luxury tourist train has welcomed more than two million guests. Daylight hours are spent in spacious, reclining seats, but nights are spent at a choice of hotels. For my route – westbound from Banff to Vancouver – the transfers to the Kamloops hotel and back to the train go off without a hitch. Luggage travels ahead of the train by bus and is waiting in our hotel rooms. Just as wildlife, weather and seasonal quirks change each trip, each coach offers a unique experience. Hosts are storytellers empowered to “read the car” and personalize the music (a lot of Beatles), quizzes, historical and geographical facts, and quiet time – while serving drinks and snacks. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 23
The Rocky Mountaineer’s annual newspaper-style offering, the Mile Post, is a treasure trove of route maps, distances, historical factoids and stories about all key spots and people, plus background on its rail equipment and the Canadian Pacific Railway. A “field guide to local wildlife” details everything from hoary marmots and bighorn sheep to Sasquatch (the mythical, hairy creature that supposedly roams the Pacific Northwest). A souvenir copy of RM magazine provides deeper reads plus tips on what to do in all the cities the train stops in. The exact size of the Rocky Mountaineer changes with each trip, depending on how many people are on it. My train has 80 crew for 625 guests on 10 domed passenger cars. But I’m immersed in the bubble of coach seven, where 68 of us are embedded with one train manager, four hosts, a shared sous chef, two cooks and a dishwasher.
are going to spend 12 hours a day with us and you’re going to enjoy about 3.5 hours of your day enjoying food. Food is a very big part of the experience. Especially when the weather gets bad – it becomes more focal.” Five is the magic number in GoldLeaf cars, with a choice of five breakfasts and five lunch mains. One day, I feast on smoked salmon scrambled eggs and then pork tenderloin with onion fondue and yam mash. The next day, it’s blueberry pancakes followed by steelhead salmon with risotto. If the train falls behind schedule, there is even more food. Spinach pies and oatmeal raisin cookies are served before we arrive a little late to Kamloops. I can smell chicken curry near the end of our second day, but we arrive in Vancouver on time and never get a taste. Many of the train’s recipes are in the 2013 cookbook, Eat Play Love: Regionally Inspired Cuisine by Rocky Mountaineer, which Guerin autographs for me.
This is GoldLeaf Service in a two-storey, glassdomed passenger car perched above a The feast of food, stories and scenery dining room and galley kitchen where The Rocky Mountaineer ends too soon. runs mid-April to mid-October decadent meals are made to order. “We thrive off of you just as you thrive with four routes and more than (SilverLeaf trains have domes, too, off of us,” says co-host Anny Dell 65 vacation packages. Meals and but are one level where smaller when we roll into Vancouver. We drinks are included. You choose kitchens turn out fewer meal applaud our coach seven hosts routes, direction, service level choices served by trolley.) and stomp on the floor to thank (GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf) and hotels. There are sightseeing tours and cruise “If you think about it,” executive chef the chefs below. options. Four new vacation packages Jean Pierre Guerin tells me, “you for 2019 combine the train with three self-drive trips or a heli-hiking lodge experience.
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BHUTAN By Cathy Scott
While hiking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery draws most travelers to Bhutan, this Himalayan nation is also rich in culture and cuisine. There is something so peaceful about the sound of prayer flags flapping in the ever-present wind – especially in a country where it is believed the wind carries your prayers. In Bhutan, where flags are seen everywhere, it is believed that when touched by the wind, the prayers are activated and carried through the air to benefit all sentient beings – or they can be a tribute to loved ones who have passed away. With a population of just over 800,000 inhabitants, the tiny country of Bhutan lies in the Eastern Himalayan Mountains, landlocked between China in the north and India in the south. Mostly known for its enviable philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”, it is also the world’s only carbon neutral country. We have a lot to learn from this tiny kingdom. ICONIC TEMPLES The most unforgettable and spectacular spot in Bhutan is Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also known as Paro Taktsang. Built in 1692, this iconic Buddhist temple clings to the side of a cliff 10 feet 2 inches above sea level. Accessible only on foot, the monastery is the highlight of my group’s journey. The path is steep and winding and dotted along the way with clusters of prayer flags guiding us along the arduous trek. The air is thinner up here which can be a challenge for some. Riding a horse on the first part of the trail is an option, but only for the adventurous, as the horses walk on the outside of the thin path precariously close to the edge of the cliff. For those unable to make the full trek, there is a tea house with views of the monastery about half way up. Along our trek, we are treated to glimpses through the pine trees of the monastery which fuel our anticipation. The main lookout offers breathtaking views of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Next is 600 descending steps and 200 ascending steps before finally reaching our destination. The journey is worth it – from the monastery’s high perch is the most spectacular view of the valley below, dotted by tiny houses trees and more beautiful prayer flags billowing their mantras over the countryside.
CULTURE AND CUISINE Bhutanese culture is rich and diverse, partly due to a lack of outside colonization and partly because it is a predominantly Buddhist country. Throughout our journey, we are privileged to witness this deeply spiritual culture through the many monk blessings, drum ceremonies and traditional mask and sword dances that are still part of the colorful everyday life in Bhutan. The traditional Kira is still worn by most women and the Gho by the men. Yak wool scarves and salted yak butter tea are found in abundance. Although it’s popular in Bhutan, the highly salty yak butter tea was not our favorite! Bhutanese cuisine has been influenced by its neighbors, but like the country itself, the food has kept its own unique character. The Bhutanese people love their chilies and the food can be very spicy. A trip to Bhutan would not be complete without sampling the national dish, Ema Datshi, a delicious blend of chilies (ema) and cheese (datshi) that can be found at every meal. Along with traditional red rice, it quickly became one of my favorite dishes in Bhutan. Due to its remoteness, Bhutan is not the easiest place to get to but a visit to this magical kingdom does not disappoint. This culturally and spiritually preserved country of profoundly beautiful natural surroundings and peaceful people is one of the most memorable places I have experienced.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery
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Indulge yourself in luxurious five-star accommodation as you discover Ireland’s magnificent culture, history and heritage. See some of Ireland’s finest thoroughbreds at the Irish National Stud, and stroll its beautiful gardens. Watch craftspeople at work creating sparkling masterpieces in the House of Waterford Crystal. Visit Jameson Distillery Midleton and see where the famous whiskey is made. Explore picturesque Glendalough and see the beautiful ruins of the monastic settlement founded in the 6th century. Tour Killarney Estate in a traditional jaunting car. Taste wine and cheese at one of Ireland’s top artisanal goat cheese producers. Visit a sheep farm to see sheepdogs hard at work herding their flock. Explore the lifestyles of the ancient Celts on the grounds of a 16th-century castle.
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The enchanting islands and motus of French Polynesia and the South Pacific are graced with their own distinct beauty. Rugged peaks, and lush interiors make Tahiti nothing short of spectacular. One of the best ways to explore these islands is by cruising on the award-winning 332 guest m/s Paul Gauguin, which offers unique 7 to 16-night voyages. The Polynesian spirit of welcome, warmth, and geniality is embodied aboard. Paradise is closer than you think.
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ATLANTIC By Martha Chapman
With impeccable service, delicious food for even the fussiest gourmet, and endless entertainment options, you can see why the Queen Mary 2 could well be called the SS Bucket List.
Grand lobby on the Queen Mary 2
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Luxurious spa onboard the Queen Mary 2
In one week last summer, I marveled at a planetarium’s sugary sprinkling of stars, joined a book club, learned to ballroom dance (kind of) and played some fiendish trivia with people from all over the world. All in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That’s because I was crossing the number one item off my travel wish list: sailing across the Atlantic from New York to Southampton, England, on Cunard’s legendary Queen Mary 2 (QM2). In an age of frequent and often affordable transatlantic flights, why on earth would anyone devote a week of their life to crossing the Atlantic by ship? For a lot of reasons. “It’s our 40th wedding anniversary,” one British couple told me. A professor from New Jersey had been very sick the year before and simply wanted to celebrate the fact he was alive. “I love the disengagement,” a fellow from Canada said. “I wanted to experience what my ancestors did,” said quite a few (though I personally doubt the ancestors had access to quite so much Champagne). Interestingly, I encountered several passengers who were afraid to fly.
Queen Mary 2 kennel
But for many, it was all about taking the trip of a lifetime. And no wonder: gliding across the measureless, gray ocean with only the horizon in the distance, the crossing is one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever done. No rushing off at the next port of call, no working out the tips for the shore excursions. Because there were none. Cunard’s liners are famous for their elegant luxury and the QM2 (billed as “the world’s only true ocean liner: sleek, smooth and swift”) doesn’t disappoint. From the chic, well-appointed Champagne bar to the generously-sized Penhaligon toiletries in every stateroom, you find yourself surrounded by stylish touches, including those provided by the ship’s two full-time florists. It’s no exaggeration to call the QM2 a floating five-star hotel. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 33
Explore the world in style with Cunard®. Inspiration comes in many forms on Cunard. Three exceptional ships – Queen Mary 2®, Queen Victoria® and Queen Elizabeth® - transport you to the world’s most extraordinary destinations. Spend each day just as you please from intimate excursions to evening galas, always highlighted by our renowned White Star Service™. Our exclusive collection of Ensemble ® Hosted Cunard Cruises are thoughtfully tailored cruises that offer special, personal touches and complimentary amenities in some of the most amazing places in the world. For special offers from Cunard, please see page 54. 34 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
Accommodation ranges from 159-square-foot inside cabins up to the spectacular, two-story Grand Duplex Suites. Encompassing an impressive 2,249 square feet and featuring a sweeping staircase between the floors, his-and-hers marble bathrooms, a private gym and dining for up to eight, these staterooms are among the most elegant at sea. Worth noting is that the higher-classed staterooms come along with dining privileges at their own restaurants, not surprisingly more intimate. Though everyone is welcome to (and clearly enjoys) the classic British afternoon tea, complete with white glove service, in the spacious ballroom. There is even accommodation for more than 20 very special guests on the QM2, which features the only kennels at sea where owners spend time with their adored dogs and cats. While daytimes are spent in casual attire, guests are welcome to go all out in the evening – especially the two formal nights when tuxes and ball gowns are a common sight. Passengers who don’t wish to join the formal fashion parade are requested to dine in the spacious buffet restaurant and relax in three specified bars/lounges “out of respect for other fellow guests and the ambience of the evening.” With
Nightly entertainment at the ship’s theater
Attentive crew staff at your beck and call
typical thoughtfulness, Cunard offers formal wear rentals for men on board; and if you will not be needing your own formal attire once you land, they will gladly ship a suitcase or two home for you.
star. Even the time change is handled in a civilized way: each day at noon, the captain announces that you should move your watch ahead one hour, so that on arrival in Southampton you are on local time. Magic.
Each night, a four-page Daily Programme is delivered to cabins, outlining the activities for the next day. A sample day included a ship’s galley tour, a lecture on the history of Cunard’s iconic liners, a fencing class, a session on how to conquer your iPad, an LGBT social hour, three trivia sessions and a knitters’ get-together. One of the entertainment teams even mustered an informal choir who provided a well-attended performance at the end of the crossing.
As a solo traveler, I had boarded the ship in some trepidation, but Cunard goes to great lengths to make sure the singletons are accommodated. There are 18 outside single cabins, dinner tables especially for solo travelers and even dance partners for ladies who want to learn or improve their footwork. The daily programme regularly listed get togethers for solo travelers so they wouldn’t feel they were in a sea of couples.
Boredom is simply not an option. Strolling around the ship’s generouslywide deck opened up endless opportunities for great drop-in, drop-out conversations; or you could snuggle up under a blanket on a deck chair and pretend to be a 1930s film
With 2,494 passengers of 58 nationalities, there was always someone to strike up a conversation with and find out why they too were crossing the Atlantic in this most old-fashioned but luxurious way: on board the Queen Mary 2.
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Made to order stir-fry aboard the ms Volendam ©Michele Peterson
BOOST BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT:
CRUISING Through Asia By Michele Peterson
Holland America Line’s 15-day cruise through Taiwan and Japan features fascinating ports of call as well as onboard wellness experiences.
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Peace statue at Nagasaki’s Peace Park
Kokusai Dori Street for shopping, restaurants and nightlife in Japan ©Michele Peterson
View of mountains at Yangmingshan National Park
“Swoop your right hand downward and across your body,” says Master Kam, as he leads our group through the start of a tai chi lesson. It’s morning aboard Holland America Line’s MS Volendam, a 1,432-passenger luxury cruise ship. Our Taiwan and Japan cruise features ports of call in Hong Kong, Manila (Philippines), Kaohsiung and Keelung (Taiwan), Naha, Fukuoka, Nagasaki (Japan) and Shanghai (China). While the itinerary’s ports of call offer travelers an immersion into Asia’s landscapes and culture, the onboard experiences have been designed to boost body, mind and spirit. “This movement improves the flow of Qi or life force,” explains Master Kam. “In Taoism, the goal is to be in tune with nature. Not just nature outside of us, but one’s inner self.” I open my arms in what I hope resembles the graceful form of the “White Crane Spreads its Wings” position and, although it’s only day two of the cruise, I feel as though I’m taking flight on an extraordinary new journey.
ENRICHING EXCURSIONS For travelers looking to enrich their inner lives while exploring the world, Holland America Line has much to offer. Knowledgeable destination experts from the cruise line’s Explorations Central (EXC™) are available to provide passengers personalized advice regarding both independent explorations and organized shore excursions. With their guidance, I create a menu of experiences that pairs sightseeing with wellness. First up is a morning at Tien Lai Hot Springs in Yangmingshan National Park in northern Taiwan. While the main attraction of this spa is its hydrotherapy circuit of hot and cold volcanic waters, taking in the mountain views is also part of the wellness experience. “Mountains hold potent energy according to Taoist beliefs,” explains our guide. “Their quiet beauty promotes inner tranquility.” The outdoor thermal pools have been positioned to offer vantage points for viewing the mountains and gardens. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 37
On a Holland America Line cruise, you won’t just experience a new way to travel—you’ll discover a whole new way to live. On tantalizing voyages to destinations near and far, you’re invited to embrace an entirely different routine—one offering near-endless ideas for relaxation, play, and entertainment. Start your day with a sunrise walk on the teak Promenade deck. Enjoy culturally immersive experiences in ports of call. Nurture your body with a holistic spa treatment or acupuncture session. Spend an afternoon learning culinary tips from award-winning chefs. Or, after a gourmet dinner with friends at the Pinnacle Grill, dance the night away. For special offers from Holland America Line, please see page 54. 38 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
Boatman in Fukuoka, Japan ©Michele Peterson
Atomic bomb survivor, Inosyke Hayasaki, shares messages of peace. ©Michele Peterson Fukuoka, Japan
I join a group of women in a steaming pool where we watch in absolute silence as waves of mist billow across the distant mountain peaks in a meditative rhythm.
to sacred space. Built in the Edo Period (1603-1867), the revered sanctuary features floating islands surrounded by Japanese black pine trees, stone lanterns and wisteria.
Over the next several days as the ship journeys northward through the East China Sea, I pursue my interests at the various ports, freed of worrying about logistics such as baggage, transfers and immigration clearances. Even currency conversion is available at the ship’s guest services desk.
Another moving experience takes place in Nagasaki, Japan. Our tour begins at the Atomic Bomb Museum, a memorial filled with exhibits from the unforgettable date of August 9, 1945, when a nuclear bomb attack was launched on the city. Within the adjacent Nagasaki Peace Park, which promotes a world free of nuclear weapons, I pour water from a bucket into a fountain monument designed to soothe the souls of those who lost their lives.
A bucket list experience awaits in Fukuoka, Japan where we head into the countryside to the water city of Yanagawa, often called the “Venice of Japan.” Gliding along the canals of the ancient town in a gondola poled with a bamboo oar by a sendo (boatman) in traditional attire, we float beneath 400-year-old stone footbridges draped by cherry blossom and willow trees. He sings a Japanese ballad as we pass the gates to the ancestral estate of the grandfather of artist Yoko Ono. I was just a child in 1969 when she recorded the anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance” during a bed-in at a Montreal hotel with John Lennon but I’m pleased to hear of plans to create a memorial in Yanagawa to commemorate their contributions to world peace. The leisurely gondola ride wraps further along the canal at the Tachibana Garden, a National Site of Scenic Beauty recognized for a design that elevates it from mere garden
My independent explorations are equally memorable. In Naha, Okinawa, home to Shuri Castle, the ancient stronghold of the Ryukyu Kingdom that once ruled the islands between Japan and Taiwan, I visit Zuisen Distillery where they produce awamori, a distilled rice spirit that dates to the 15th century. Once reserved for nobility, awamori almost disappeared during the Second World War due to shortages of the rare koji spores that are one of its key ingredients. Now, the spirit is experiencing a revival among those drawn to its artisanal production and curative powers. “Awamori is considered a healthy tonic,” says Ms. Saeko Sakumoto, Chairperson of Zuisen Distillery who gives me an impromptu tutored tasting from a chibuguwa, a tiny clay cup. “It contains no sugar and has powerful enzymes that can dissolve blood clots.” Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 39
Commemorative statues in Nagasaki, Japan ©Michele Peterson
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES While it’s tempting to think this Asia itinerary is all about its unique ports of call, my days at sea are equally enriching. At the Culinary Arts Center – a theater where Holland America Line chefs, trained by America’s Test Kitchen experts, provide cooking demonstrations and workshops – I learn how to create Asian dumplings and whip up a fiery chili oil. I even take a sake cocktail-making lesson and experience the art of reflexology in the spa.
Tutored tastings at Zuisen Distillery ©Michele Peterson
Aged awamori at Zuisen Distillery ©Michele Peterson
In between classes, I sip cappuccino in the Explorer’s Lounge or head to the theater for history lectures by guest experts. Afternoon options include jogging and walking on the promenade decks, floating in the two swimming pools or indoor cycling in the oceanview fitness center. Culinary highlights include fine dining with classic options such as prime rib roast available alongside regional dishes such as Penang red curry coconut chicken. Staying healthy is made easy with menus highlighting low calorie, heart-healthy and vegetarian options. Our full days wrap up with live entertainment including options ranging from piano concerts to late night dancing, followed by nightly turndown service in our staterooms. The final port, Shanghai, is epic in many ways. The Yangtze River Delta is an economic gateway to China’s biggest city and is filled with giant container ships, traditional Chinese junk boats and ferries. Our ship glides into place in central Shanghai, which makes it easy for independent explorations. Near the koi-filled ponds of Yu Gardens, I see a group of people doing tai chi exercises and recognize a few of the flowing patterns taught by Master Kam – just one of the many skills and experiences I’ll be taking away from this cruise.
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GET POLARIZED. LET US TAKE YOU CLOSER TO THE AUTHENTIC BEAUTY OF ANTARCTICA. Challenging, inspiring and seemingly another world, Antarctica is the world’s ultimate destination. It may be hard to reach but the comfort of our Expeditions fleet makes the journey smooth sailing. If you have ever wanted to wander on the closest thing on this earth to another planet, wanted to feel the palpable remoteness, wanted to imbibe in adventure and exploration like never before, wanted to be part of history or just wanted to be able to be wowed by our incredible earth then it’s time for Antarctica. Travel to the world’s best destination in luxury and comfort on the best exploration ships in the world. We have transformed our beautiful flagship Silver Cloud into the first luxury crossover ship in the world. For the first time ever, Silversea luxury meets Silversea expedition know-how giving you the opportunity to sail to remote destinations like never before. A reinforced ice-class hull means she can take you from polar region to polar region in supreme comfort. Four superb restaurants, 16 Zodiacs, up to 22 Expedition Team Members on every voyage and a crew of almost 1:1 mean Silver Cloud really is the gold standard when it comes to expeditions cruising in comfort. Now nothing stands between you and the authentic beauty of the world. It’s time for beauty in the extreme. Get polarized with Silversea.
For special offers from Silversea, please see page 54. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 41
A superior standard of service is at the heart of the award-winning Crystal Experience. This genuine hospitality is amplified by ships of exceptional design and space, a robust menu of quality inclusions and amenities, a vast selection of choices appealing to every interest and inclination, and an enriching collection of all-inclusive voyages to the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most fascinating destinations. For special offers from Crystal Cruises, please see page 54.
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WELCOME TO A NEW KIND OF CRUISING. The kind that gets you closer to the authentic and unforgettable experiences that you travel to find in the first place. Cruises with carefully curated onboard lecturers that deepen and enhance your dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experience with a local perspective. Cruises that banish clichĂŠs, toss aside regimens and provide the freedom to spend time as you prefer. Cruises with unfailing personal and attentive service that always anticipates your wishes. Welcome to Windstar. An immersive way to experience other cultures and see the world from a new perspective.
For special offers from Windstar Cruises, please see page 55.
Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 43
EXPLORING THE LAND OF THE
Long White Cloud By Tim Johnson
You hear it first, those intermittent explosions, steam and water driven by red-hot magma, roaring from down there in that dark, unimaginable place. And you can smell it too – that unmistakable scent, wafting up on the winds, enveloped in a mystical steam, billowing from a boiling spot somewhere near the center of Earth. But first, before everything else, you feel it. Spiritually, if not physically. Washing over you. Thrumming down there, deep inside. An invisible force, reaching right into your soul. By the time the warrior comes to greet us, barefoot and naked to the waist, spear gripped and clasped across his chest, I already know that this is not just a show for tourists. This site is a famous geothermal wonder, but there’s certainly more to it than that. I’m spending the day in the Whakarewarewa Valley of Rotorua, home to some 500 boiling, magmatic pools and 65 geyser vents formed by a 240,000-year-old volcano. It’s one stop while cruising the east coast of New Zealand on the Encore, one of the newest ships in Seabourn’s fleet. 44 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
Entering the meeting house, called Te Puia, we’re welcomed by the Maori with song and displays of strength. “Every muscle in the body is used to scare the enemy,” one warrior tells us, bulging his eyes, protruding his tongue. But rather than afraid, I feel heartened as I emerge from the house and descend into the valley, knowing that I’ve arrived at a site that’s truly sacred, a land of legends of myths and magic here in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Back on board, I enjoy all the usual luxuries found on this high-end cruise line – multiple pools and hot tubs, all-inclusive, premium liquors, 24-hour caviar, full butler service that extends to almost ridiculous proportions (example: by picking up the phone, I can have someone in my suite within minutes to draw me a bath, complete with bubbles). But beyond butlers and bath salts, the ship’s crew includes a full complement of explorers, adventure and cultural experts, and the Ventures by Seabourn team, whose sole purpose is to help you delve deeper in this
Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 45
fascinating destination. Begun as a key part of the cruise line’s Antarctica expeditions, the company is piloting the concept in other destinations where nature and culture is key. The Ventures crew members include marine, mammal, avian and other specialists, and conduct talks in their area of expertise, as well as daily sessions on the stern of the ship where, equipped with binoculars and other equipment, they interpret the sea and air around us. During my first days on board, I attend a lecture by Tua Pittman, a Maori man who originally hails from the Cook Islands and serves as the ship’s cultural interpreter and traditional navigator – a man who has sailed canoes across the Pacific Ocean. After listening to his lecture, during which Pittman outlined the Maori’s vital link to the land and sea, and demonstrated a particularly powerful, single-man haka, the famous and traditional Maori dance – somehow even more resonant and powerful in this solitary display – I chat with him about New Zealand, from a Maori perspective. “There’s always a spiritual side, arriving from the sea,” Pittman tells me, noting that this voyage helps connect him with his ancestors, who arrived here from the Cooks in doublehulled canoes. According to legend, they called it Aotearoa because of the long white cloud that
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helped guide them to the land. And Pittman continues to communicate with the water, too. “Tangaroa is the god of the sea, and we sing songs, asking him to calm the waters,” he explains. “I hope that happens, for us.” And it does, for the most part, the sun shining down on our ship as we sail southward. I spend copious amounts of time on my balcony, often sipping a Marlborough red and watching as dark coastal peaks slip by, their mysterious forms swathed in a gauzy gossamer of white. There’s wildlife, too; we pass rocks populated by hundreds of seals and, once, while spending some time down on the stern, a pod of dolphins rises to greet us, zooming and flipping playfully in our wake, then vanishing as quickly as they appeared. And I see, and feel, that spiritual power Pittman spoke of, everywhere I go. At Rotorua, I learn that the Maori consider thermal valleys and their delicate subterranean water systems sacred, and themselves their kaitiaki (protectors, caretakers). The bubbling mud pools are not just a photo opportunity, but also bear the name of Koko, a great village chief. It is said that he loved these pools, their flipping and popping reminding him of the playful nature of little kids. In Wellington, I roam verdant city parks filled with towering pines and exotic eucalyptus and ride the famous cable car to a plateau, emerging to find panoramic views of
the capital city and its vast harbor. Arriving at the South Island and the port of Picton, I wander the streets of the charming town under the sun before getting back on board for a champagne sail-away, the green hills of the shore disappearing as the Encore is surrounded by a flotilla of sailboats, white sails billowing in the late afternoon light. And there are thrills, too. Making our way inland from the port of Akaroa, rolling through a volcanic crater on a bus driven by a former member of the famous All Blacks rugby team, we reach the Waimakariri River, Maori for “cold rushing water.” The weather has turned and rain is pouring down, the river rapidly rising, and I board a different sort of boat, a Hamilton Jet. Invented by a New Zealander to navigate the nation’s shallow rivers, it’s a craft that can cruise along on as little of 4 inches of water.
In today’s storm, we have plenty more than that and, the jets pumping 238 gallons of water per second, we roar up the river on the power of twin 60-horsepower engines, feeling like their sheer dynamic force might just launch us into the sky. Skimming fast, we skirt big rocks and spin wildly in circles, crashing into our own wake, the two elderly women seated next to me squealing like teenagers on a rollercoaster. More wonders lay ahead. Hamilton Island, remote and rarely visited by the average tourist, and, in Maori mythology, the anchor of the demigod Maui, and then a final turn into the breathtaking beauty of Milford Sound, another sacred spot, with its massive sea cliffs and rushing waterfalls. But for the moment I’m hanging on tight, happy to be on the water, and screaming, quite possibly just a little louder than those women sitting beside me. Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 47
Seabourn is the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest ultra-luxury resort, it just happens to be at sea. Specializing in unforgettable experiences and unparalleled service, we sail to all seven continents in luxurious style, on smaller, intimate ships. With close to one staff member for each guest, those who stay with us feel like members of an exclusive club. Our ships feature all ocean-front suites, most with a veranda. This makes it possible to enjoy spectacular, ever-changing views, while only unpacking once. We bring Extraordinary Worlds to guests â&#x20AC;&#x201C; their ultra-luxury suite travels the world with them. For special offers from Seabourn, please see page 55. 48 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection—the world’s most luxurious, all-inclusive river cruise line—offers truly all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and Egypt. The moment you step onboard any of our 17 one-of-a-kind floating boutique hotels, you’ll see and feel the care that went into the thoughtful, beautiful design. With impeccable service that truly comes from the heart, exclusive excursions only available to Uniworld guests, delicious farm-to-table cuisine, local wines and a choice of inspiring destinations throughout the world—every element is as unique and special as each guest.
For special offers from Uniworld, please see page 55.
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GET MORE TIME FOR “ME TIME” WITH PRINCESS® MEDALLIONCLASS™ Get more family time with Princess MedallionClass™ and see how much easier your family cruise can be! Breeze through boarding, order beverages and more delivered to wherever you are and stay connected with the best Wi-Fi at sea. The complimentary OceanMedallion™ is the size of a quarter and can be worn in a variety of ways: in a clip, sportsband, bracelet or pendant. It is your key to opening doors, not only to your Stateroom but has a world of possibilities for use aboard the ship. For special offers from Princess Cruises please see page 55. 50 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019
EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES OFFERS 16-night ATOLLS, FALLS & FAUNA Overview: Experience the OLife Difference as you cruise the azure waters of the South Pacific on this once-in-a-lifetime voyage. Along the way, you will dine upon The Finest Cuisine at Sea™ served in four open-seating restaurants, all at no additional charge. The service onboard the intimate and elegant Regatta is both personalized and genuine, and the staff and crew will attend to your every request with a smile. Itinerary: San Francisco, California • Honolulu, Oahu • Kahului, Maui • Hilo, Hawaii • Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia • Moorea, French Polynesia • Papeete (Tahiti), French Polynesia Ship: Regata Depart: November 1 – 17, 2019 From $3,899 per person, VERANDA STATEROOM
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: Pre-Paid Gratuities plus Free Internet. Book by July 1, 2019 for best fares.
18-night THE GREATNESS OF AUSTRALIA Itinerary: Singapore • Jakarta • Semarang • Bali • Komodo • Darwin • Cooktown • Cairns • Airlie Beach Brisbane • Sydney Ship: Seven Seas Voyager Depart: December 20, 2019 – January 7, 2020 From $19,499 per person DELUXE VERANDA SUITE
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: $100 per person shipboard credit. Guests in all suite categories can enjoy a FREE 3-Night Sampling Singapore pre-cruise land program or a FREE 3-Night Sydney and Beyond post-cruise land program on this voyage.
5-night THE RESERVE AT PARADISUS PUNTA CANA Depart: Travel now through December 20, 2019 From $878 per person PARADISUS SUITE ALL-INCLUSIVE PACKAGE PRICE IS PER PERSON AND INCLUDES: Roundtrip hotel transfers; 5-night hotel accommodations in a Paradisus Suite room category; Hotel tax and service charges; All meals, drinks and snacks; Daily activities; Non-motorized watersports; Nightly entertainment and much more!
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: 50-Minute Massage per adult, per stay (max. 2 adults per room); Welcome amenity (per room/per stay). Book by July 31, 2019.
9-day with 4-night Cruise or 10-day with 5-night Cruise VISIONS OF EGYPT BY SMALL SHIP Ship: Oberoi Philae or Oberoi Zahra From $5,399 per person Including Nile-View Room at the Kempinski Nile Hotel and Luxury Outside Stateroom
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: Save $1,000 per couple ($500 per person) when booked and deposited before May 31, 2019 for travel anytime through September 2020. Share the adventure with Family + Friends… Save $50 to $200 more per person when 3 or more guests travel together.
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EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES OFFERS 4-night CAPELLA UBUD, BALI Overview: Our five Terrace Tents overlook the rice terraces and rainforest from large outdoor decks, with daybeds and poolside sun loungers around a salt-water plunge pool. Inside, timeless charm meets sumptuous modern comforts such as the hammered copper freestanding bath and art and antiques from the owner’s private collection. Depart: July 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020 From $2,139 per person TERRACE RETREAT
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: •A 4th Night Free •Daily Breakfast for two at Mads Lange
• Roundtrip airport transfers • …and much more, book now!
5, 7 & 9 night ALASKA Overview: Outdoor adventure and picturesque scenery will enchant all who embark on a magical, Alaskan Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder. Discover exciting ports featuring prehistoric glaciers, gold-mining relics and eclectic shopping. Experience the beauty of Alaska with the luxuries of first-rate entertainment, family-friendly recreation and exceptional hospitality that makes a Disney cruise special. Ships’ Registry: the Bahamas. Ship: Disney Wonder Depart: May 20 – September 2, 2019 ©Disney
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: One Memento Box for every stateroom booked through May 31, 2019. (Compliments of Ensemble).
7-night JOURNEY THROUGH THE CLOUDS EXPLORER Itinerary: Vancouver • Kamloops • Jasper • Banff • Lake Louise • Calgary Depart: Select start dates between April 15 and October 10, 2019 From $3,673* per person GOLDLEAF SERVICE
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: Book a qualifying 2019 Rocky Mountaineer package of 5 days or more by June 28, 2019 and receive a Free Hotel night in Seattle, Vancouver, or Calgary. Plus, RECEIVE 1 FREE DINNER at your hotel when you book a qualifying 2019 Rocky Mountaineer package of 8 days or more by May 31, 2019.
12-day ULTIMATE IRELAND Overview: Welcome to the Emerald Isle. A storyteller’s paradise, you’ll explore the natural elements of this vibrant country, meeting some colorful characters along the way. From esteemed author and Dubliner Trevor White, to Killarney locals and the lively performers of Gaelic Roots - who will teach you a few moves - you’re in for a trip rich in history, fascinating local insights and lots of laughter! Bring along a notepad and an appreciation for creativity, as we’re certain you’ll be inspired in this rugged, fairytale land. Depart: May – October 2019 From $6,895 per person
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: Save $150 per person. Book by May 31, 2019.
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CELEBRITY FLORA 10-night ALL INCLUSIVE GALAPAGOS & QUITO PACKAGE OUTER LOOP Itinerary: Quito, Ecuador (2-Nights Pre) • Baltra Island • Daphne Island • Gardner Bay (Española Island) Suarez Point (Española Island) • Cormorant Point (Floreana Island) • Post Office Bay (Floreana Island) Moreno Point (Isabela Island) • Urvina Bay (Isabela Island) • Espinoza Point (Fernandina Island) • Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island) • South Plaza (Santa Cruz Island) • Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz Island) • Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) Baltra Island • Quito • Ecuador (1-Night Post) Depart: Cruise departs year-round every other Sunday From $9,999 per person SKY SUITE WITH VERANDA
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: Round-trip airfare included when you book by June 30, 2019.
10-day IRISH SUPREME Overview: For the trip of a lifetime, this leisurely tour includes the most sought-after sights with 5-star hotels and castle stays. Authentic Local Experiences: · Visit St Tola’s Goat Farm, a working farm and enjoy a goat cheese and wine tasting · Watch skilled dogs perform a sheepherding demonstration on Dingle Peninsula · See the distilling process through the ages at The Jameson Experience, Midleton 9 breakfasts (B), 1 picnic lunch on Spike Island (L), plus traditional tea and scones at John B. Keane’s Pub and fresh foraged seaweed delights in Kerry, and 7 dinners (D) including a luxurious farewell dinner. All on-tour transportation including shuttles and ferries. From $3,690 per person
8-day ROMANTIC RHINE Overview: This exciting journey along the Rhine River takes you across Germany—touching in Holland, France, and Switzerland! Pass through the dramatic Rhine Gorge—where ancient castles stand on cliffs 400 feet above the water. Your cruise includes a guided canal cruise or an optional culinary walk in Amsterdam and guided tours in vibrant cities including Cologne, Mainz and Strasbourg. Depart: April 30 – December 14, 2019 From $3,098 per person
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: Receive prepaid gratuities on select 2019 Avalon Waterways Europe and Mekong river cruises. Plus, save up to $1,500 per couple on select Avalon Waterways river cruises when you book by June 30, 2019.
7-night TAHITI & THE SOCIETY ISLANDS Overview: The perfect introduction—or reintroduction—to the picture-perfect charms of the South Pacific, this 7-night sojourn whisks you away to destinations that played muse for author James A. Michener, painter Paul Gauguin, and many more. Where will you find your inspiration? Vanilla-scented Taha’a? Rugged Moorea? Or perhaps even just watching the Technicolor sunset from your balcony onboard the m/s Paul Gauguin. Depart: May 25, 2019 – December 26, 2020 From $4,295 per person, including airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: $100 shipboard credit per person.
•C ruise accompanied by an Ensemble® Host •C omplimentary Cocktail Party •C omplimentary Ensemble® Experience Shore event in Bora Bora. Feb 22 & Oct 31, 2020 sailings Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 53
EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES OFFERS 14-night BALTIC HIGHLIGHTS Itinerary: Enjoy dining on board and adventure ashore over 14 nights, departing from Copenhagen with an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia on our beautiful Baltic journey through Finland, Estonia, and Latvia. Ship: Queen Elizabeth® Depart: September 20 – October 4, 2019
From $3,499* per person BALCONY STATEROOM
•C ruise accompanied by an Ensemble® Host •C omplimentary Cocktail Party •C omplimentary Ensemble® Experience Shore event in St. Petersburg • $100 per person onboard spending money
30-day AUSTRALIA CIRCUMNAVIGATION Overview: Explore the Gold Coast with included Great Barrier Reef experience, historic Perth, charming Melbourne, Kangaroo Island and Burnie, Tasmania. Ship: Maasdam Depart: October 17 – November 16, 2019 From $5,399 per person OCEAN-VIEW STATEROOM
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: $75 onboard spending money per stateroom.
16-day ANTARCTICA CRUISE Overview: Go beyond your boundaries and explore the world as never before. Discover the stunning marine mammals and Magellanic Penguins at the UNESCO World Heritage site, Peninsula Valdes. Spot species such as humpback whales, Commerson’s dolphins and orcas but also Black-browed Albatross and Blue-eyed Shag. Antarctica’s fascinating nature will no longer hold any secrets for you. Ship: Silver Cloud Itinerary: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia Depart: November 24 – December 10, 2019 From $13,800 per person, VISTA SUITE
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: $300 shipboard credit per person Antarctica All-Inclusive: Free Roundtrip Economy air from select US/CAN gateways to Buenos Aires, plus transfers and 1-night post-hotel included. Book by May 31, 2019.
12-night HOLIDAY SOJOURN Wine & Food Festival Cruise Round Trip from Fort Lauderdale 2019 Overview: Spend Thanksgiving exploring the white sands and blue waters of a tropical paradise, where you will find dazzling coral formations, exotic fish, mist-enshrouded peaks and, most important, the warm company of friends and family. Ship: Crystal Serenity Depart: November 24 – December 6, 2019 From $2,775 per person, DELUXE OCEANVIEW
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: • Cruise accompanied by an Ensemble® Host • Complimentary Cocktail Party • Complimentary Ensemble® Experience Shore event in St. Lucia
TERMS & CONDITIONS: Prices are per person, based on double occupancy unless otherwise stated. Prices and terms are displayed throughout this magazine as received from individual suppliers. Certain offers carry restrictions and penalties to be advised at time of booking. Validity differs with each offer. Offers are subject to change without notice, subject to availability, and may be withdrawn at any time. 54 | Extraordinary Experiences 2019 Offers apply to new bookings only. Some blackout dates apply. Ensemble Travel® Group does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy of prices and terms.
11-day TAHITI & THE TUAMOTU ISLANDS Overview: On our 11-day voyage in French Polynesia, experience one of earth’s most beautiful - and most rare - places. Fakarava, with an ecosystem so diverse it has been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We will let the trade winds of French Polynesia, which have enticed sailors for centuries, fill the sails of Wind Spirit as we sail through the windward and leeward Society Islands to the serene natural beauty of the Tuamotu Islands, where pristine atolls and crystal lagoons welcome you to a hidden paradise. Ship: Wind Spirit
Itinerary: Roundtrip Papeete
•C ruise accompanied by an Ensemble® Host • Complimentary Cocktail Party • Complimentary Ensemble® Experience Shore event in Bora Bora
Depart: October 20 – 31, 2019 From $3,699 per person
19-day PANAMA CANAL SOJOURN Overview: A maritime classic, this exceptional voyage laces the marvels of Mexico and MesoAmerica with the tropical delights of the Caribbean, around the centerpiece of a daylight transit of the mighty Panama Canal. Itinerary: Los Angeles • Cabo San Lucas • Huatulco • Puerto Chiapas • Puerto Quetzal • Puntarenas Colon • Cartagena • Port Antonio • Miami Ship: Seabourn Sojourn
Depart: October 16 – November 4, 2019 From $6,999 per person, OCEAN VIEW SUITE
•C ruise accompanied by an Ensemble® Host • Complimentary Cocktail Party • Complimentary Ensemble® Experience Shore event in Cartagena
8-day CASTLES ALONG THE RHINE Overview: Cruise along the Rhine—Germany on one side, France on the other. Discover Alsace, whose dual French and German heritage has given it fabulous food and a winemaking tradition that goes back to the Romans. Beethoven and Byron loved the romantic landscapes of the Rhine River, and the beauty that inspired them is still yours to experience. Ship: S.S. Antoinette, River Empress or River Queen Depart: Now through November 2019 From $3,399 per person, CLASSIC STATEROOM
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: $300 per couple shipboard credit to go toward an enhanced experience, such as spa services, a Progressive Dinner, a Masterpiece Collection excursion and more.
7-day ALASKA VOYAGE OF THE GLACIERS Overview: To experience the real Alaska, come to where the mountains are taller, the rivers mightier and the wildlife more plentiful than any place else on earth. This is cruising Alaska. A rugged, untamed wilderness where the forests go on forever and the summer days never end. Alaska is a pristine wilderness of ice-blue glaciers, snow-capped mountain peaks and huge whales breaking the surface of crystalline waters. Ship: Royal Princess® Depart: September 7 – 13, 2019 From $1,499 per person BALCONY STATEROOM
EXTRAORDINARY EXCLUSIVE: $50 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.
Ensemble Travel® Group and its sub-agents act solely as agents for the companies providing services and facilities to travelers and have no responsibility or liability for loss of or damage to property, injury, or death due to errors, omissions, or intentional acts of the companies providing services. Ensemble Experience shore events are capacity controlled, subject to change without notice and require a minimum Extraordinary Experiences 2019 | 55 date. number of participants. Luxury credit option in lieu of the Ensemble Experience must be requested at least 46 days prior to the sailing Please refer to Cruise Guidelines for additional details.
Our agency has the experience and expertise to plan your ‘Extraordinary Experience’ — anywhere in the world with service and detail that is above and beyond your expectations. CONTACT OUR AGENCY TODAY!