Page 1


Wild, Unexpected

AFRICA Majestic


Land and Sea


Dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith, In this issue of Ensemble Vacations®, Africa comes alive as writerphotographer Hans Tammemagi journeys through Namibia’s shifting sands. Alex Ontra volunteers to help the desert elephants. Liz Scull spends the night in a luxury safari camp. Britney Hope explores Kenya’s conservation and community service efforts. And, in Tanzania en route to the beaches of Zanzibar, a couple of newlyweds get a surprise. Wondering what to do with teenagers? Turn to page 14 to read about the Acree family’s dog-sledding adventures in Alaska. Find out what to do in Anchorage. And learn what happened when Max Anderson took his 13-year-old twins in search of lava on Hawaii’s Big Island. Kid free? Follow two foodies on a hunt for the most decadent Hungarian cuisine. Waltz along with music lovers through the streets of Budapest, Vienna, and Munich. And get the scoop on Europe’s best walled cities from aficionado Robin Cherry. Yes! The Caribbean is finally open for business. Mexican food is on UNESCO’s list. And Panama’s teeming jungles await. Just for fun, a new section, called BriefCase, offers juicy facts and insights on the international travel front. And frequent travelers Sandy & John Ritchie pause to update their birding lists. Whether you’re aiming for Africa, Europe, Alaska, or someplace new, we’re standing by with insider advice, local connections, and exclusive offers that are sure to make your next trip unforgettable. Enjoy!

Your Agency Name Here

Cover: Maasai Mara, Kenya

Ensemble Travel® Group membership enables us to bring you added amenities, custom touches, unexpected experiences, and a genuinely warm welcome wherever your travels take you. When your next opportunity for travel arises, be sure to inquire about the Ensemble® Exclusives that can make your trip an absolute dream come true.



Alice Stroh

Editor In Chief

Managing Editor

Kimberly Buerkle

Associate Editor

Valerie Murray

Creative Director

Laura Torrisi

Art Director at Large

Art Director

Editorial Assistant

Yin Wong Allyn Bacher Jessica Arnold



Production Manager

Wendy Russo

An Ensemble Travel® Group Publication Ensemble Vacations® is a publication of Ensemble Travel® ­Group. © January 2018 Ensemble Travel, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher. Ensemble Travel Group, 256 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018. Ensemble® Ensemble Travel® Ensemble® Hosted Cruises Ensemble® Hotel & Resort Collection Ensemble® On Location Ensemble® Villas & Vacation Homes Ensemble® Exclusives Ensemble® Experience Ensemble® Luxe Life and the floret design are registered and unregistered trademarks of Ensemble Travel, Inc.

AFTER A LONG TRIP, and found that

everything seems just a little different? As a college student, I remember driving home from JFK after spending a semester in a small city in Ireland, and noticing how enormous the cars and buildings seemed to me. They hadn’t changed, but I had. Nine weeks ago I became a mom, so while it’s been awhile since I’ve traveled much farther than my local coffee shop, my journey through motherhood and the newborn stage (which is much like a whirlwind trip through unknown territory, where you don’t understand the local language) has certainly changed my life and my perspective on the world around me. The idea of traveling with a baby is daunting, but this issue of Ensemble Vacations has inspired me to get out there and show my daughter the world – it’s the greatest gift I can give her. ®

Ensemble Lifestyles Winter 2015 1

Every travel experience – whether far-flung or more local – is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and this amazing world we live in. In this New Year, I hope you’ll discover all of the joys of travel: a gift that keeps on giving. HAPPY TRAVELS,

Alice Stroh

Editor in Chief, Ensemble Vacations® Magazine

P.S. I’d like to thank all of the wonderful

people listed on the left for going above and beyond to create this issue of Ensemble Vacations while I was on maternity leave. They did an amazing job! ®

I’d love to hear from you! Please share your travel stories with me:

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 1




FEATURES 8 2018 Travel Events Calendar ALASKA

14 Alaska Gets an “A” for Adventure




33 Shifting Sands & Storybook Wildlife 36 The Legacy of Voortrekker

52 Hot List: Adventures of the Caribbean 56 Best Mexican Eats By the Beach




38 Kenya Unexpected 42 A Night in a Luxury Camp

24 On the Hunt for Lava

TA N Z A N I A / Z A N Z I B A R



44 Zanzibar Afterglow

68 Majestic Cities of Central Europe 76 Taste of Budapest 81 Open Gates: The Welcoming Walled Cities of Europe

32 Map Illustration of Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar

2 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

62 Spotlight on Panama


DEPARTMENTS 1 From the Editor 4 Contributors 20 U.S. City Spotlight: Anchorage Fun with the Family 27 BriefCase: Fun Facts About Travel 46 Frequent Traveler: Where the Birds Are 89 Traveler’s Notebook: Ensemble® Exclusive Deals & Offers


This is not a cruise. This is a tropic trekking journey like no other onboard one of the world’s most incredible ships — Allure of the Seas ®. Gear up for full-throttle ATV thrills in Cozumel. Tube the cool waters of Jamaica’s Martha Brae River. And fly down the world’s longest overwater zip line at our private destination, Labadee®. Plus, when you book right now, receive a complimentary specialty dinner for two.

Allure of the Seas


7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida


For more information please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

*Specialty Dinner For Two offer applies to new bookings made January 1 - February 28, 2018 on any 6 night or longer Bahamas or Caribbean sailing onboard Oasis, Allure, Harmony, Anthem, or Adventure of the Seas departing May 1, 2018 – July 31, 2018, in Balcony and above categories. Offer includes one complimentary dinner for two guests in a specialty restaurant. Voucher is valid for dinner only, one per sailing, at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Samba Grill, Solarium Bistro, 150 Central Park, Wonderland or Jamie’s Italian. Venues vary by ship. Special dining events that take place in Specialty restaurants are excluded from the dining offer. Voucher cannot be used toward the purchase of specialty dining packages. Alcoholic beverages and sodas are not included, and are available at an additional cost. Specialty dining gratuities are included. Offer is combinable with all offers and promotions, except other dining offers. Offer applies to new, individual and named group bookings confirmed at prevailing rates. Individual reservations can be transferred into an existing group, assuming required criteria are met. Offer available in the United States and Canada. Offer subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled, cannot be transferred, and may be withdrawn at any time. Please ask your travel agent for full offer details. Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions and to change or update fares, fees and surcharges at any time without prior notice. ©2017 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. 17059172 • 10/20/17

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX


MAX ANDERSON has been a writer for 25 years. He was Deputy Travel Editor of Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper before moving to Australia to become a gold prospector in an outback town of 13 – the basis of his book Digger. He’s fascinated by words, gold and the world’s largest island continent. p. 24


ROBIN CHERRY lives in the

Traveler’s Bookcase, a travel bookstore in West Hollywood that catered to travelers for eight years. A world traveler herself, she experiences new cultures through literature, music, and food. As a journalist, she has written for over 12 national publications and has been to 100 countries. p. 14, 20

Hudson Valley and writes about travel, food, and popular culture. She’s written two books: Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail Order Shopping and Garlic: An Edible Biography (with over 100 recipes). She’s visited over 100 countries and has a passion for Central and Eastern Europe. p. 81

With a natural-born love of traveling, KATHRYN DUNMORE enjoys exploring as many destinations as possible. She has more than 15 years experience writing on a freelance basis as well as for healthcare and media, with a weekly column in the Burlington Post and regular contributions to the Canadian Red Cross. p. 62

Award-winning journalist

MARTIN HAAKE has worked as a freelance illustrator for 15 years. His clients include Barnes & Noble, The New York Times, Penguin Books, Bacardi, Yahoo, Playboy and The Hollywood Reporter. His work has garnered numerous international awards and been shown in national and international exhibitions. p. 32

Based in Colorado, NANCY HELLMRICH is a recovering advertising creative director and active travel enthusiast. Her work includes brand alignment projects as well as travel stories. Her recent adventures have involved hiking in the Tetons, cycling in New Zealand, snuggling up in Sweden’s Ice Hotel, and glamping in the Sahara. p. 27, 36, 44, 46

BRITNEY HOPE is an awardwinning freelance travel writer and trade journalist based in Toronto, Canada. Her work has been published in Canadian Traveller, CAA Magazine, NUVO Magazine, Montecristo Magazine, ASTA Network and on Open Jaw. Britney’s story, By Way of Barbados, was twice-awarded “Best Feature in a Trade Publication.” p. 38

In this issue, award-winning travel journalist ILONA KAUREMSZKY scours the finest eateries in Budapest. As founding president of the Travel Media Association of Canada’s Ontario Chapter, she’s also been a syndicated travel columnist. Other credits: USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Herald, Michelin Green Guides, Forbes, and AFAR Magazine. p. 76

CHRIS ROBINSON is a travel


writer and broadcaster who has traveled to over 100 countries. The Chris Robinson Travel Show is Canada’s most popular radio travel show with over 1,000 episodes for nearly twenty years. His articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online. p. 52

eclectic, including travel, environment and native culture. He has penned 10 books (one national best seller) and his articles appear in media across North America. A former adjunct professor in environmental sciences, he has a strong affinity for nature and the environment. He enjoys photography. p. 33


travel and leisure, food and wine, and culture and design. Her work has appeared in Town & Country, The New York Times, Art & Antiques, The Wall Street Journal, and Executive Traveler. She has been a guest on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” and published In the Garden. p. 8

Toronto-based writer and editor TIM JOHNSON contributes regularly to a number of national and international publications, including American Way, Reader’s Digest, the BBC, MSN and the Globe and Mail. His suitcase is almost constantly in use – he travels an average of 300 days a year and has visited 89 countries on six continents. p. 56

HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS p. 68 4 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Explore Antarctica with the Leader in Luxury Expedition Cruising Choose from two extraordinary Antarctic expeditions on board all-balcony, exclusively chartered ‘Le Lyrial’ and experience the region at its stunning best. Set out on twice-daily shore excursions with the finest naturalist guides in the region, and explore the White Continent with the company with more than 25 years of polar cruising experience.

Classic Antarctica 12 Days | Dec 12, 2018; Jan 6, 2019 From $11,995 (was $14,495) Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands 17 Days | Dec 22, 2018; Jan 16, 2019 From $17,995 (was $21,995) Book a 2018–19 Antarctica voyage by March 31, 2018, and save up to $8,000 per cabin. For more information, please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Antarctica early booking discount is limited to double occupancy bookings only in cabin categories 1-3. Offer is not valid for single bookings, is subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time. Other restrictions may apply. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX ©2017 Abercrombie & Kent USA, LLC CST#2007274-20




Uncommon destinations, unforgettable moments

Drink in the Cote D’Azur. Sail through summer in the Arctic fjords. Cruise from Arabia to India, the Caribbean to Brazil, South Africa to Singapore. Or make good on that promise to explore Antarctica and Patagonia. Aboard Seabourn’s ultra-luxury small ships, privileged travelers cruise in a private club atmosphere, with highly personalized service and some of the most generous ratios of space in the industry. On board, style and elegance reign supreme in expansive oceanfront suites, beautifully designed lounges, breathtaking spa and fitness facilities, airy dining venues, and sparkling swimming pools. On shore, Ventures by Seabourn afford access to exclusive sites and experiences. And a partnership with UNESCO provides deeper insight into the world’s most intriguing destinations, while supporting conservation and sustainable tourism.

Sail with daring explorers, heralded chefs, scholars, and performers. As Seabourn sails from one extraordinary destination to another, guests mix and mingle with some of the world’s most extraordinary experts. These larger than life celebrities from the arts, sciences, politics, business, and the humanities don’t simply lecture, they share the journey—recounting stories over evening cocktails, striking up lively dinner discussions, and adding an extra sizzle to adventures ashore. Recent guest experts have included celebrity fashion stylist Brad Goreski, mountaineer Paul Deegan, Silicon Valley icon Steve Wozniak, and acclaimed lyricist Sir Tim Rice.

Savor a world of flavor with Michelin three-star Chef Thomas Keller. The genius behind The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Per Se – Chef Thomas Keller further elevates Seabourn’s

6 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

award-winning dining experience with inspired dishes and tantalizing creations served throughout the ship. In The Grill by Thomas Keller guests enjoy modern renditions of classic American chophouse fare, from succulent steaks to timeless favorites such as Lobster Thermidor. Complementing each meal, are selections from a wine list curated by Chef Keller and artisan cocktails created by acclaimed mixologist Brian Van Flandern.

Find rejuvenation after days ashore in The Spa at Seabourn. The awardwinning Spa at Seabourn offers a spectrum of revitalizing options in the largest spa facility ever to grace the cruise line’s fleet. Here, guests relax in the warmth of the Thermal Suite Lounge as the ship navigates Eyjafjordur. Treat themselves to energizing Kneipp Walks after a day with Argentine gauchos. Strengthen their cores on the Kinesis

Wall as whales breech the surface of the sea near Inaccessible Island. And indulge in a wealth of satisfying treatments from body sculpting therapies and deep tissue massages to Fire & Ice manicures, Lime & Ginger Salt polishes, and Sweet Surrender spa rituals.

Cultivate the power of Mindful Living with Dr. Andrew Weil. Seabourn’s new Mindful Living program transforms wellness at sea with life-enhancing mind and body experiences. Designed by Dr. Andrew Weil, a visionary in the realm of integrative medicine, these illuminating meditation and yoga sessions promote physical, social, environmental, and spiritual wellbeing. The fleet-wide curriculum complements each itinerary with a profound inner journey that promises to enrich the lives of guests long after their voyage has ended.

Travel further into the world’s most intriguing regions. Seabourn Journeys are intimate, personalized, pre- and post-cruise adventures that offer guests the opportunity to dig deeper into the world’s most treasured regions by traveling to more remote outposts and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Current Seabourn Journeys include adventures in Cuzco & Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the beach at Copacabana, the Temples of Angkor, the Silk Road outpost of Xi’an, India’s Golden Triangle, Africa’s Kruger National Park, the Red Rock domes of Kata Tjuta, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and a South Pole Quest featuring Drake Icefall, Elephant’s Head, Hidden Valley, and Rossman Cove. Exclusive offers from Seabourn can be found on page 102. Please contact your Ensemblemember travel agent for additional offers and booking details.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 7

S E A S O N A L E V E N T S 2 01 8


2018+ BEYOND

Twelve months of happenings, both cultural and recreational, on five continents.

Milan Fashion Week


Jan 4 - Feb 6 Banff National Park, Canada This celebration of winter features ice carving, climbing, and other sports and entertainment.


Jan 5 - 14 Cartagena International Music Festival Cartagena, Colombia The city’s most enchanting colonial spaces host performances by classical musicians from all over the world. Jan 19 - 28 Winter Antiques Show New York, New York, United States Seventy of the country’s top fine and decorative arts experts gather for this annual ritual, which transforms the Park Avenue Armory into a bastion of taste and sophistication.

Feb 21 - 27 Milan, Italy The likes of Donatella Versace, Alessandro Michele, Tomas Maier, Roberto Cavalli, Miuccia Prada, and many others strut their stuff down the runway for the fall season.


Feb 9 - 25 Winter Olympics PyeongChang, Republic of Korea (South Korea) The twenty-third Winter Olympic Games get underway 30 years after the Summer Games took place in Seoul. Feb 10 - 12 Mangalica Festival Budapest, Hungary Dubbed the “Kobe beef of pork,” the curly-haired Mangalica pig, Hungary’s favorite heritage breed, is feted in a festival of burgers, barbecue, sausage, and roasts.

8 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018


Mar 15 - 19 Fallas de Valencia Valencia, Spain Five days of parades, pageants, and fireworks culminating in a blaze of papier-mache caricatures around the city.



Apr 27 King’s Day Amsterdam, Netherlands

May 3 - 4 Frieze Art Fair New York, New York, United States

This national holiday celebrates the beloved monarch with a dance party on canal boats.

Art from more than 1,000 leading contemporary artists plus a curated program of talks and new commissions.

Mar 17 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin, Ireland

May 10 - 13 Wagner’s Ring Cycle Leipsig, Germany


Jun 14 - Jul 15 2018 FIFA World Cup 11 host cities throughout Russia Approximately Jun 21 Astrofest Istria, Croatia Star-gazing from the Visnjan Observatory. Jun - Aug Tanzania

The biggest cultural event on the Namibian calendar, this festival, known as WIKA, features dance and music performances, lively street parades, a masked ball, and the crowning of the new prince and princess of the carnival.

Each year, nearly 260,000 zebra, 1.5 million wildebeest, and 470,000 gazelle travel a circular route over 1,800 miles of the Serengeti in search of food and water. Safaris timed to coincide with the migration offer thrilling views of massive herds thundering across the vast plains and crossing deep rivers.

Windhoek Karneval

Africa’s Wildlife Migration

The original march of leprechauns now replicated around the world. Mar 24 - Apr 9 Windhoek, Namibia

Witnessing Wagner’s operatic masterpiece in the city of his birth may be most authentic experience of his work.

Venice Biennale—International Architecture Exhibition

May 26 - Nov 25 Venice, Italy A jaw-dropping display by the world’s foremost talents in architecture drawn from firms all over the world and spanning the classic to the modern. They will interpret the theme “Freespace” for this 16th installation of the exhibition.

New Year’s Eve

Dec 31 Punta del Este, Uruguay A beach party like no other.





Approximately Jul 1 - 31 Festival d’Avignon Avignon, France

Aug 24 - 26 The Travers Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Sep 2 - 16 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Swan Cup Sardinia, Italy

The magical papal city hosts a dynamic festival of the arts.

Nearing its 150th year, Saratoga Race Course’s most prestigious horse race elevates tailgating to a refined sport in the scenic Adirondacks among buildings older than 100 years.

The glamour of yachtracing on the Emerald Coast.

Oct International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) Miami Beach, Florida, United States

Aug 27 - Sep 11 U.S. Open Tennis New York, New York, United States

Also known as September Romance, this festival commemorates two lovers from different Berber tribes who were forbidden to marry each other by their parents years ago.

Jul 7 - 29 Tour de France France The 105th edition wends its way through the Alps, the Pyrenees, and finishes on the Champs-Elysees. Jul 27 - 29 Gilroy Garlic Festival Gilroy, California, United States Cooking, eating, and competing in the garlic capital.

A magnet for fans and dignitaries everywhere.

Sep Imilchil Marriage Festival Imilchil, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

A peek at what’s next in global design, with an accent on furniture.


Nov 1 - 2 Day of the Dead Mexico City, Mexico A spectacle of color and texture both celebratory and reflective.

Oct - Nov Alba, Piedmont, Italy


Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Cape Town, South Africa Fireworks on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, best viewed from Table Mountain. Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Vienna, Austria A Grand Ball, fireworks, and a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic.

Join hunters and traders at a show dedicated to one of gastronomy’s prized jewels, the knobby, lumpy tartufo bianco foraged from the forests of the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato. Alba International White Truffle Fair

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 9

b ecome life lo ng explorers toget her We take families to Alaska like no one else can, with our popular cruisetours and our award-winning onboard program “North to Alaska” plus Discovery™ and Animal Planet™ shore excursions. Next summer, experience the colossal glaciers, untouched wilderness and famed wildlife of the “Last Frontier” and discover why families choose Princess® and how you’ll come back new.®

Exclusive Cruisetour Amenities Music of Denali Dinner Theater Tundra Wilderness Tour Upgrade 4 Breakfasts and 1 Dinner at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge®



denali explorer exclusive cruisetour 12 nights | Island Princess® | Vancouver to Fairbanks | 5/13/18




Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses up to $258 are additional.

For more information

please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent

*$2,893 fare is based on category BD on Island Princess® sailing 5/13/18 on a space-available basis at time of booking. 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. ©2017, Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Ships of Bermudan and British registry.


A Love Affair with

Still rosy-cheeked from its celebration of 70 years in Alaska, Holland America Line doesn’t appear to be planning to end its romance with the region any time soon. If the company’s robust selection of Alaska Cruises, Denali Land + Sea Journeys™, and Yukon + Denali Journeys are any indication, things are just going to get more exciting from here on out.

Adventure seekers eager to bask in Alaska’s beauty can choose from more than 130 oneor two-week Holland America Line journeys, with visits to rustic frontier towns, iconic fishing ports, Denali National Park, and the Yukon Territory ... as well as Tracy Arm, Hubbard Glacier, and mesmerizing Glacier Bay. The line’s classic, mid-sized ships ensure stunning close ups of Alaska’s astounding glaciers, surprise appearances by breaching whales, and awe-inspiring eagle sightings. On shore, visitors can revel in uniquely Alaskan activities such as sled dog mushing, salmon fishing, Native Alaskan cultural experiences, helicopter glacier tours, and more. Onboard enrichment includes BBC Earth’s Wild Alaska, fascinating park ranger talks, and the opportunity to learn about the close relationship between Native Alaskans and the environment from a captivating Huna native. As the day wanes, the ship lights up with Midnight Sun cocktails, tantalizing cuisine, and baked Alaska desserts. Holland America’s Land + Sea Journeys include rail trips to Denali National Park, where guests can stay up to three nights in the McKinley Chalet Resort and escape for a full-day Tundra Wildlife Tour deep into the wilderness. Nearby Denali Square offers the chance to relax and savor live music, delicious food, and refreshing sips from Denali Brewing Company.

For special offers from Holland America Line please see page 98, or contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

XX Ensemble 12 EnsembleVacations VacationsWinter Winter2018 2018


An Unforgettable CANADIAN ROCKIES Rail Adventure

Indulge all of your senses as you wind through breathtaking scenery, complemented by gourmet cuisine, vibrant storytelling, and impeccable service onboard the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer.


ocky Mountaineer, the luxury tourist train operating in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, is the best way to see all this part of the world has to offer. You will be taken on a journey alongside stunning scenery, while you enjoy world-class, culinary creations inspired by the passing regions. With four unique routes to choose from, the unforgettable all day-light journeys offer romance and history, reminding you that traveling is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. With over 65 Rocky Mountaineer vacation packages along four rail routes, rich in culture, history and natural wonders, there is something for everyone. Such as the Coastal Passage route, which connects the Emerald City of Seattle with the Canadian Rockies. The train hugs the Pacific Northwest coastline and, at times, you’ll have water on both sides, giving you an illusion that the train is floating on the glistening ocean. One of Rocky Mountaineer’s most popular packages is the Circle Journey, which includes all of its exciting destinations, including Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Whistler, Vancouver, and Seattle. With a minimum of four days on the train, there is no limit to the wildlife sightings and awe-inspiring scenery along the journey. The views are enough to keep you enthralled, but beyond that, there’s the chance to make new friends and connect with your traveling companions as you take in this memorable trip of a lifetime. A journey through the Canadian Rockies with Rocky Mountaineer is a feast for the senses and an unparalleled experience that should be on every traveler’s must-do list. For special offers from Rocky Mountaineer please see page 93, or contact your Ensemblemember travel agent.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 13



“Are we there yet?”… “I’m bored!” … “What’s for dinner?” Heard it before? Families with kids can find travel very challenging. Stacey Acree, a mother of two from St. Louis, Missouri understands that if the trip isn’t done right, the parents will need a vacation from their vacation. She searched for the perfect trip for her husband Eric and their two boys, Carson, 16, and Ryan, 12. “We were looking for a really active, fun vacation for the boys,” she explains. Their travel agent went over all the possibilities until they came to a decision. Once school let out the Acrees didn’t waste any time – they flew to Seattle to board the Celebrity Solstice®. Destination: Alaska. As the ship cruised north, past Vancouver Island along the Inside Passage, the Acrees explored their new home. Choosing a cruise ship is a difficult decision, so they were glad for the advice of their travel professional. “Celebrity Solstice® was perfect for us,” says Stacey. “Art on the walls, a hip promenade of shops, a happening martini bar. The boys loved the basketball court. It had a younger vibe; there were lots of people in the workout room. It fit our personality.”

14 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

NORTH TO ALASKA Alaska calls to visitors from the Lower 48 because it is a yearround winter wonderland. The lasting impressions – giant peaks, green forests, massive glaciers, and neon blue icebergs – make travelers want to return again and again.

“Watching a bald eagle fly overhead while salmon fishing was awesome.” RYAN

The Acrees journeyed to the awe-inspiring Hubbard Glacier, with its gigantic shards of prehistoric ice calving noisily into Yakutat Bay. The ship also maneuvered into the narrow Tracy Arm fjord, dodging icebergs as it provided the family a spectacular view of glaciers perched among 3,000-foot cliffs. At first the parents wondered if the boys would get bored, but naturalist Brent Nixon made it fascinating. “We all got so much out of listening. Feeling the crisp air and the water, so quiet. It was breathtaking,” noted Acree. Appetite for discovery whetted, the family set off on their first excursion. What began as a salmon fishing expedition turned into an avian adventure.

SALMON FISHING WITH EAGLES The ship headed along the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, where their magical Alaska adventure began. “When the boys said they wanted to go salmon fishing, I kind of rolled my eyes at first,” laughed Stacey Acree. Their travel agent booked a private boat with a captain. “There were kayaking adventures and whales in the ocean and it was just beautiful.” They pulled in fish, and Ryan, the 12-year-old, even caught a salmon. Then something truly unexpected happened – when a trip turns into a lifelong memory. “I said to the captain that I’ve never seen an eagle up close in Alaska before. He starts whistling and an eagle, from like 200 yards away, starts flying towards our boat. He waved bait in the air and threw it upwards. The bird swooped down and we saw the talons scoop up the bait. We thought it was going to dive onto our heads!” The experience was exhilarating, and the family felt they were part of a show. In the middle of the ocean, the trees almost invisible, yet the raptor knew where to fly. “He did it four different times and each time our mouths dropped open. The captain explained that the bird knew his boat.” Even wild eagles can be trained with a little food and reverence it seems, to the benefit of lucky adventurers.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 15


CAPTIVATING KETCHIKAN With few precious hours to enjoy every exciting stop, their day was just beginning. “Ketchikan is so colorful when you come in, you really feel like you’ve arrived in Alaska. The people were so friendly and it was easy to walk around. What a great day.” A local guide walked them around the bustling community, pointing out fun facts along the way. The Acrees immersed themselves in local culture, taking a tram up the hillside to the pristine Cape Fox Lodge with its fascinating Council of the Clans totem pole circle. They learned about the rich history of the indigenous Tlingit people, visiting the largest collection of standing totem poles in the world at Saxman Native Village. With their educational mission accomplished, the Acree family set off on another quest. “Everywhere we stopped it was our mission to find the best fish and chips,” says Stacey. First stop, the Alaska Fish House in port. “The fish and chips were amazing,” she reminisced. Tartar sauce anyone?

ADRENALINE FUELED SKAGWAY Skagway was gateway to the 1896 Gold Rush, a rowdy port where prospectors disembarked by the thousands, hiking to the Yukon seeking fortune. Instead of walking the streets, the thrill-seeking Acrees made a beeline for the local zip lines. Said Stacey, “It was terrifying for me, and so fun for the boys. They were literally jumping off the platform.” With spectacular mountains and water views, the Acrees soared thousands of feet through the canyons. “Each time my heart was racing but by the end I was like what was I so afraid of? And our guides really made it, they were unbelievable.” They located the first prize-winning fish and chips in Skagway, wisely asking the locals for a tip. Visiting Skagway Fish Company they sat outside on the gorgeous, late spring day. For Stacey, the setting enhanced the dish, “The fish tasted so fresh there, lightly crispy, smooth buttery flavor. There was something about that restaurant that was phenomenal.”

HELI-ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME Juneau is the only state capital unreachable by car. Most visitors come by boat or plane, but the Acrees chose an even more exciting transport: helicopter.

16 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

“Drinking the glacier water was an amazing experience and one of my favorite parts of the trip.” CARSON

“Juneau was definitely the favorite for my son Carson,” says Stacey, “My husband had never been in a helicopter. We landed on the glacier and didn’t realize the dogs lived on top – their doghouses are on the glacier. They’re flown in food every week.” The highly trained, elite sled dogs pulled the family for one mile, careening around the perimeter. For Eric Acree, the helicopter ride and dog sled added up to the best day of the trip. “It was flying up to the glacier and seeing the dogs. Being pulled on that sled, how disciplined and hard working those dogs are, and having our family together. It was exhilarating. All you see is a sea of white. You get a feel for how desolate those glaciers are.” Expert guides enhancing the experience were a theme of the entire trip; the helicopter pilot was no exception. They landed on another glacier nearby, where the boys got to lie down and drink crystal clear glacier water from a stream. “They called it doing a glacier push up,” Stacey laughs.

UNEXPECTED VICTORI VICTORIA The most unexpected win came at the final port, Victoria, British Columbia. Arriving late in the afternoon, the family decided to visit the world famous Butchart Gardens. Some family members were more excited about visiting “just flowers” than others, but seeing the garden in person exceeded all expectations. “We didn’t realize how big it was, ” says Stacey, “It was still light at 9:30 p.m. and the boys had more fun than they expected.”

“Having a balcony stateroom in Alaska is worth every penny just for the view!” ERIC ALL ABOARD The family had a blast on the Celebrity Solstice®. Stacey and Eric treated themselves to delicious sushi at the premium restaurant, and Carson and Ryan scarfed down homemade ice cream with build your own toppings. The boys played pick-up basketball with their shipmates every day, and the entire family grooved to the Silent Disco headphones. It was the perfect metaphor for their wonderful family vacation; each dancing to their own beat, together, as a family. Now the only question Stacey Acree hears is “When can we go back?” b To plan your trip to Alaska, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 17


Princess Cruises® takes families to Alaska like no one else can with a variety of cruises, cruisetours and immersive programs that offer its guests unique ways to experience the history, culture and flavors of the Great Land.

Become Lifelong Explorers Together O

n every cruise, guests discover Alaska onboard through Princess’ awardwinning “North to Alaska” program. Princess brings an array of Alaskans onboard to share stories and entertain, from champion Iditarod mushers, to storytellers, lumberjacks, National Park Rangers in Glacier Bay and even sled-dog puppies. Guests also get the chance to sample Alaska’s famed seafood, not only in the dining rooms, but on deck with dishes from local dive restaurants like Tracy’s Crab Shack in Juneau, as well as other specialties. And speaking of seafood, if you catch it on a Princess shore excursion, Princess chefs will expertly prepare it for you with their Cook My Catch program. SH A R E THE DISCOV ERY

Discovery™ and Animal Planet™ awardwinning shore excursions, offer the chance for families to learn something new about our world, the people and the creatures with whom we share it in every port. Experience the days of the Alaska 18 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

gold rush, take a snow day and explore the incredible glaciers nearby by plane or helicopter or witness whales gliding through the Inside passage. And Princess’ Discovery Family excursions are designed to capture the imagination of all ages. SPA R K YOU R IM AGI NATION

Princess also offers Camp Discovery, an engaging new youth program where young cruisers can learn about the world and discover new interests. Kids will play, explore and share in experiences created by Princess, in partnership with Discovery, that immerses them in Alaska and what’s more, there are even activities that the whole family can enjoy together. Experience the colossal glaciers, untouched wildlife of the last frontier and discover why more people choose Princess for their Alaska vacation. Please see pages 100-101 for exclusive Princess Cruises offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

DOUBLE DENALI OFFER Book one of two selected Journeys with the meal plan included on the land portion and save from $99-$129 per person.

Y4C: 12-Day Yukon + Double Denali Nieuw Amsterdam

This journey includes:  Two nights in Dawson and Denali with Tundra Wilderness Tour; one night in Skagway  Gold Dredge 8; Klondike Spirit Yukon River cruise  McKinley Explorer domed rail car between

Anchorage and Denali; historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad  3-Day Inside Passage cruise

Ensemble Exclusive:  Enjoy 17 included meals on the land portion with

7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 8 dinners

Fares From $2,637 Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses included at $249.47 Fare based on June 2, 2018 departure

D3C: 14-Day Double Denali Westerdam and Noordam

This journey includes:  Two nights Denali with Tundra Wilderness Tour  Gold Dredge 8, riverboat Discovery  McKinley Explorer domed rail car between

Anchorage and Denali  7-Day Glacier Discovery cruise

Ensemble Exclusive:  Enjoy 12 included meals on the land portion with

5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners

Fares From $2,249 Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses additional at $291.10 Fare based on May 13, 2018 departure


Terms & Conditions: Fares are based on Promo(s) Y4M, D3M. Featured fares are per person based on double occupancy, cruise or Land+Sea Journeys only. Fares are in U.S. dollars. All savings amounts are included in the fares shown. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional and range from $246.47 to $294.10. Subject to availability. For more information about our stateroom categories and suite descriptions, 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.




Fun with the family

Anchorage is the gateway to Alaska and has been welcoming visitors for centuries. The state’s most populous city contains 40 percent of Alaska’s residents – only New York City has a bigger percentage. Anchorage is a bustling, diverse city with Instagram-worthy sights at every turn, vast outdoor spaces, and enough to eat and do to keep families busy for several blissful days. SHOP

➊ Octopus Ink

Octopus Ink downtown shop offers eco-minded togs that are comfy to wear, and easy to recycle. With styles for women, men and children – provides shoppers with a locally created, and singular memento of their trip. ▼


➊ Bread & Brew

Just recently opened, Bread & Brew Alaska has quickly become a popular hangout. Locally owned and operated, they serve gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches and feature 20 craft beers on tap, most of which are Alaska brewed.

➋ Humpy’s Casual, neighborhood alehouse with fresh food, live, local music and selection of craft beers. Known for the best fish & chips in Anchorage, variations of halibut and wild Alaskan cod. ➌ Bubbly Mermaid

Champagne & Oyster Bar Go for

the freshest oysters around and a seriously gigantic cooked oyster menu, stay for the local, convivial atmosphere. 20 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

➍ 49th State Brewing Company 49th State

Brewing Company is one of the city’s newest brewpubs and craft beer is one of Anchorage’s current obsessions. This hotspot also offers two large decks overlooking Cook Inlet and Denali, North America’s tallest peak, on clear days.

➎ Anchorage Distillery

Anchorage Distillery’s claim to fame would be its dedication to superior spirits with locally sourced ingredients like Alaska grain and even local glacier water. Vodka, gin, and moonshine style whiskeys are distilled on site.

➋ AK Starfish With the tag line “authentic Alaskan clothing designs”, AK Starfish also designs mugs, hats, and hydro flasks. With two locations in Anchorage, AK Starfish embodies what’s trendy and locally crafted in the city. ➌ Oomingmak

A co-op of Alaska, Native knitters turns soft musk ox wool called qiviut into hats, scarves and other goods. Musk ox survived the last ice age; you know these hats are going to keep things toasty into the next.



❘ Anchorage, Alaska

Named for the British explorer who first mapped Alaska’s majestic coastline, the 20-story Hotel Captain Cook offers stunning views of downtown Anchorage, Cook Inlet, and the Chugach Mountains. This grand dame of Anchorage hotels is renowned for its AAA four-diamond restaurant and a legendary wine cellar that boasts more than 10,000 bottles of wine. In 2016, The Hotel Captain Cook was inducted into Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This rich history is brought to life in a private art collection, which commemorates the adventures of the HMS Resolution as Captain Cook and his crew searched for the Northwest Passage. Guest amenities include 546 rooms and suites and an impressive Athletic Club with fitness facilities, an indoor pool, sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi.

➊ The Anchorage Museum The Anchorage Museum recently debuted a 25,000-square-foot expansion, including four new galleries and additional event space. More of the permanent art collection of Alaska works is now on display, and the new Alaska exhibition, a permanent installation, walks visitors through the themes and people that have shaped Alaska for 10,000 years. ➋ Alaska Native Heritage Center The Alaska Native Heritage Center is the place to immerse in Alaska Native culture. Live song and dance performances, artist demonstrations, and Native sport demonstrations unpack the varied traditions of the regions of Alaska and their people. An outdoor area features six authentic life-sized Native dwellings situated in a wooded area around beautiful Lake Tiulana.



➊ Girdwood Visitors can go hiking, trail running, and four-wheeling in the surrounding area. Located 45 minutes south of Anchorage, it is the perfect location to bike or hike, and then dine at top restaurants and bars including the Double Musky, Jack Sprat and the AAA Four Diamond award-winning, mountaintop restaurant Seven Glaciers.

➊ Alaska Zoo & Palmer Reindeer Farm Two different

options for taking the little ones to see polar bears, Dall sheep, caribou and reindeer in their (almost) natural habitat.

➋ Glacier and Wildlife cruises

Head to the port town of Whittier for a day on the water with two Alaska superstars: whales and tidewater glaciers. Day cruises get close to the big glaciers known for thunderous calving bergs. Orca, humpback and grey whales, seals, otters, and sea birds spend the summer in these rich waters too.

➋ Eklutna

This glacially-fed lake is great for a day of kayaking and cycling (do both when you sign up for a “paddle/ pedal”), or rev up with an ATV tour instead. Stop off at Eklutna Historical Park nearby, home to one of the oldest standing structures in the area, the Russian Orthodox church. Colorful spirit houses in the churchyard demonstrate the fusion of Athabascan and Russian Orthodox beliefs.

➌ Gold panning Two historic spots south of the city, Indian Valley and Crow Creek Mine, trace the region’s gold rush connections. Visitors can pan for flakes of glinting gold at each, and explore historic buildings and equipment used in Alaska at the turn of the twentieth century. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 21

Trade in bumper-to-bumper traffic for beachfront bliss, and the day's biggest decision becomes whether to soak up the sun or lounge under the shade of a palm tree.

For more information, please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

TA H I T I | F R E N C H P O LY N E S I A | F I J I | S O U T H PAC I F I C



is in the details

That two-story treehouse you saw on the Travel Channel. An overwater bungalow with champagne on ice. A beautiful bure on a powder-white beach – and three days of scuba diving too. When your Ensemble travel agent wants to “wow” you with customized vacations in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the South Pacific ... they call Travel2. Travel2’s vacation designers pull out all the stops to deliver dream-fulfilling experiences with meaningful personal touches for everyone from first-time travelers to annual visitors and even a few famous celebrities.

Right now, you can escape to the Fijian island of Vanua Levu for an all-inclusive getaway in the lush Namale Resort & Spa. Spend romance-filled days exploring rainforests, frolicking in waterfalls, and riding horseback on the beach. This is the place where fashion icon Donna Karan, actor Edward Norton, and NBA Coach Pat Riley go when they want island luxury paired with unparalleled service. Best of all, when you book this Travel2 experience with your Ensemble travel agent, you’ll enjoy Ensemble® Exclusive extras like free spa treatments, chilled champagne, and seriously late checkout.

Craving a little more island action? Travel2 can do that, too. In fact, there’s a 10-night Tokoriki & Matangi Islands Escape that’s calling your name. This trip features five nights at the adults-only Tokoriki Island Resort and five nights at Matangi Private Island Resort, a privately owned resort with access to world-famous dive sites, like the Great White Wall and Noel’s Wall. Arrive by helicopter to blissful days of scuba excursions, private beach picnics, paddle boarding, hot stone massages, and spectacular sunsets. Book with your Ensemble travel agent and enjoy Ensemble® Exclusive extras like a Matangi Pure Fiji gift and a free room upgrade.

Please see page 94 for exclusive Travel2 offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 23


On the Hunt for Lava in HAWAII by MAX ANDERSON

Rare, dangerous and spectacular — what’s not to love about lava? Writer Max Anderson takes his twin boys to Hawaii for a red-hot encounter.


f your twin 13-year-old boys are anything like mine, they won’t want to go to Bishop Museum in Honolulu to see sacred sculptures and portraits of dead Hawaiian royals. They’ll want to see only one thing.

LAVA. If you’re anything like me, you’ll threaten your 13-year-old boys that they will go to Bishop Museum or else lose surfing privileges. But luckily for all, the state museum has a new science display where Hawaii’s volcanic legacy is demonstrated daily. Behind a chain mesh curtain, a man in a silver fire suit attends to a crucible of rock that has been in a furnace for five hours. He tips out a small slick of livid orange treacle. This impresses the boys, especially when it quickly cools and shatters into shards of black obsidian. If lava is hard to make in a museum, it’s even more difficult to see au naturel. There are active volcanoes all over the globe, but lava breaches the surface very rarely – and usually with such violence that no one has any time for selfies. Enter Kilauea, an active volcano on the easternmost Hawaiian 24 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Island (also called ‘Big Island’ to avoid confusion). Kilauea is one of only half a dozen volcanoes in the world where lava reliably shows, plus it’s sedate and (reasonably) accessible. We fly from Honolulu to Big Island, getting an eyeful of the magnificent ‘shield volcanoes’ before landing in Hilo. Then we drive an hour to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Bishop Museum

Lava field on Big Island

Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea lighthouse

Kilauea’s crater is a circular depression, exactly as we expect. What we don’t expect is its vastness – a full two and a half miles across, and strangely beautiful. Perched on the rim is the Jaggar Museum from where we can see a smaller inner crater. This is the active vent, marked by a bulging column of gas and steam. “At night you can see it glowing,” a park ranger tells the boys. “And yes, sometimes it shoots lava. Seismic recorders tell us when that’s likely to happen, but it also makes tell-tale sounds. It rumbles. Sometimes it sounds like the sea.” The vent is off-limits owing to poisonous gases so the inevitable question is asked: “Where can we get close to lava?” The next afternoon, we drive two hours south to the town of Kalapana, where we’re told Kilauea’s lava exits via subterranean ‘tubes’ into the sea. We arrive to find Kalapana isn’t what it was: in 1990, the townsfolk watched their houses and gardens get swallowed up as Kilauea’s lava gently probed a new path, encroaching about 10 feet each day. But the townsfolk have rebuilt and are happy to greet us – and the hundreds like us – offering to rent mountain bikes from pop-up gazebos. For about $30 each, we’re equipped with bike, helmet, first aid kit, head-torch and water.

The stream of lava pilgrims pushes into the twilight, following a broad track that has been bulldozed through a stark, surreal landscape. The lava field is all monochrome textures, formed from ooze, crumbled and cracked. It stretches away on all sides, up to Kilauea in the far distance. The almost 4-mile ride is oddly quiet except for the crunch of fat tires on gravel. We arrive at a clifftop where a great cloud develops, and then park our bikes. Rangers marshal us to a space cordoned by ropes, 1,640 feet from a portion of cliff that grinds and steams like a machine. “Can’t we get closer?” ask the boys, perched on pumice mounds. I indicate a nearby section of cliff where, a week earlier, nine brittle hectares had fallen into the sea. “No.” Not that we need to be closer. We can see rock crashing into the water, hissing violently, and as darkness closes, the lava shows as glowing globules being birthed from the island’s boiling guts.

As we’d learned in Bishop Museum, we’re witnessing the Earth renewing. Hawaii’s islands are a long chain of extinct volcanoes. After each volcano was formed by the magma reserve beneath us, the planet’s tectonic plates moved them out into the ocean to cool and die. One day, Big Island will have a new neighbor. It’s forming under the sea and already has a name – Loihi. For two hours, we sit among hundreds of people in the lava field, watching, entranced by the spectacle, enchanted by the weirdness. We ride back through the night, the beams from our head-torches bouncing off the lava field. Only, we pilgrims sound different now – there are whoops and calls and laughter. We’ve been lit up by lava. b To plan your trip to Hawaii, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 25


Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort & Spa

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa



t takes a billion years for a diamond to form, yet the islands of Hawaii took a mere 70 million years to become the flawless natural beauties we know and love. With perfect temperatures year round, there’s no better place to explore lush green valleys, play in deep blue oceans, thrill to the fiery wonders of volcanic mountain tops, and revel in the warm, inviting spirit of aloha. Set on Maui’s Mokapu Beach, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort redefines Hawaiian luxury with rooms, suites, and villas that capture the modern Hawaiian spirit. Daytime fun includes outrigger excursions, paddleboard yoga, tandem bike rides, and

26 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Mai Tais served beside an infinity pool. The unique apothecary-style Awili Spa & Salon offers custom blended therapies. After dark, locally sourced cuisine is served fresh in the acclaimed Ka’ana Kitchen. You’ve heard Kauai is the best island, here’s your chance to find out. Set on 50 exquisite oceanfront acres, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa tempts you with connecting river pools, a saltwater lagoon, and dining by candlelight on the beach beneath the Hawaiian night sky. Playtime includes tennis clinics, garden tours, Poipu Bay’s “Ocean’s Eleven” golf excursions, and luxuriant Coco-Mango massages in the open-air Anara Spa.

Overlooking Ka’anapali Beach, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa features elegant oceanfront rooms, freeform swimming pools, and star-quality treatments at the Kamaha’o Marilyn Monroe™ Spa. Hot afternoons are perfect for indulging in Ululani’s thirst-quenching Hawaiian shaved ice or Merciless Sun cocktails at the Grotto Bar. Dining options range from Pacific Rim specialties and the “best steaks on Maui” to the lively Drums of the Pacific Luau. See page 91 for special Hawaii vacation offers from Classic Vacations and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent for added benefits and booking details.

BRIEFCASE Wondering what’s new in the world of travel? We’ve got the facts right here in our BriefCase, a new section covering 2018 events and offerings that have savvy travelers all atwitter.

“The best way to help the Caribbean … is to visit the Caribbean.” Caribbean Tourism’s Hugh Riley giving us the green light. #bookemdanno

Azamara Club Cruises president and CEO Larry Pimentel on the process of naming their new ship, Azamara Pursuit. Talk about going for it.


The processor speed at Taiwan’s new iHotel, where amenities include gaming stations with DXRacer chairs. The lobby has a tournament arena and the elevators play the Imperial March from Star Wars.

280,000 gallons

Size of the lobby aquarium in the new Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. The hotel also boasts a 5th floor saltwater infinity pool and local flavors from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. #alohachic

A magic carpet

One feature of the new Celebrity EdgeSM cruise ship – from the mind of British architect Tom Wright, who designed Dubai’s sail-shaped Burj al-Arab. And away we go.

21 ➪

“We grinded over the name.”



ICYMI, Uniworld and Contiki had a baby. It’s called U by Uniworld and it offers fresh, fun river cruises for the young, wild, and free. Oh, and supermodel Petra Nemcova loves it.

The number of levels in the verdant, new, bowl-shaped Barangaroo House restaurant on Sydney’s waterfront. Celebrity chef-owner Matt Moran and head chef Cory Campbell will run the kitchens, mate.

305 Miami’s area code. Also the location of rapper Pitbull’s new iLov305 restaurant, cocktail lounge, and daiquiri bar. Opening late summer 2018. Oh, yes he did.

9 tons

The weight of Orbis et Globus, a blue concrete sphere on Iceland’s North Grímsey Island that marks the boundary of the Arctic Circle, which fluctuates with the tilt of the earth’s axis. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 27


“Shiny, shiny, bling, bling.”

One reviewer’s take on the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, which opened in June 2017 in the heart of Cuba’s Old Havana. The 5-star hotel features a luxury spa, contemporary Cuban art, and rooftop infinity pool.

2 million IMAGINE A NEW WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD An exclusive collection of unique travel experiences. Discover a world of possibility through hands-on exploration, insider access to projects supported by National Geographic, and the freedom to roam, all within the structure and security of travelling in a small group.

For more information please contact your Ensemble member travel agent.

Number of saunas that will be open to the public for Finland’s national “Sauna Day” March 18, 2018. Helloooo Helsinki.

200 años In 2018, the Republic of Chile will be celebrating their bicentennial, which makes now a great time to kayak Patagonia, paraglide in the Atacama Desert, or just ogle the street art in Valparaíso.

“We have to be the meal of the decade.” Quote from Chef René Redzepi. After experimenting with pop-ups in Tokyo, Sydney, and Tulum, the ambitious chef is now taking reservations for urban farmbased Noma 2.0 in Denmark’s Christiania neighborhood.


Number of thermal springs bubbling beneath Budapest. Which makes Hungary your go-to spot for steaming saunas, Kneipp pools, and thermal baths from a cool 21 ºC to piping hot 76 ºC.

230,000 The tonnage of the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, which sails from Barcelona in March 2018. The shiny, new mega-liner has 2,774 cabins, fast mobile-app boarding, and a glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena. You’re it.

THE PURSUIT OF NEW DESTINATIONS. I NTR OD UCI N G A ZA MA R A PURSUIT SM In 2018, Azamara PursuitSM will make her debut, meaning new horizons to explore and immersive experiences to be discovered. Pursuit will visit 61 more destinations, including 15 maiden destinations, giving you the opportunity to cruise to Morocco, sail the Beagle Channel, or stay longer in Peru. Pursuit will also be tapping into our European expertise for a Country Intensive voyage to Greece and visits to other beautiful Mediterranean destinations. Here’s to travel, adventure, and the pursuit of your best vacation yet.

CONTACT YO UR EN SEM BLE M EM BER TR AVEL AGENT FOR MOR E I N FOR MATION . Azamara Club Cruises® is a proud member of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. family of cruise lines. ©2017 Azamara Club Cruises. Ships registered in Malta.

U by


UNIWORLD Uniworld is making history with a river cruise for a new generation. U by Uniworld is the fresh new approach to travel for 21-45 year olds. When you cruise with U, choose from six experiential and culturally-immersive itineraries perfectly suited for any personality. Whether a foodie, night owl, solo-traveler or adventurer, you will be able to travel any way you please, to both iconic landmarks and hidden gems. Travel onboard one of U’s two stylish and comfortable chic, floating boutique hotels – The A and The B, for an experiential river cruise to some of Europe’s most enticing destinations.

Why U? On a river cruise with U, travel to and explore dozens of destinations, hassle-free. Hop from city to city or country to country, but only unpack once. And because you will be busy jumping from one activity to another, Uniworld has recognized that time onboard should be just as important as time spent onshore. Once you step onboard your floating boutique hotel, everything is at your fingertips – transport, meals, experiences – all of it. No need to stress, and you can make the most out of your time. This part yacht, part boutique hotel docks in the center of countless European cities to put you in the heart of all the action. No matter where you travel, you’ll never be far from the best these destinations have to offer. And when you arrive at these locales, you’ll be able to do it all, with plenty of convenient, exhilarating and immersive opportunities tailored to all interests. It’s the river cruise for those with a passion for exploring and a desire for authentic adventures.

Please see page 104 for exclusive Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. 30 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

U by Uniworld is just how travel should be.

Some resorts have a beautiful view. Ours has thousands.

Introducing Celebrity Edge, a revolutionary new ship designed to leave the future behind. With spectacular two-story Edge Villas, featuring panoramic views, personal butler service, direct access to the exclusive sundeck and pool, as well as private dining and the concierge lounge. Celebrity Edge stands from anything else at sea. Bookings now open. Availability limited. For more information please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Africa’s animals are big, all right. And there are many more than five. So grab your safari gear and take a trip on the wild side. Sip a Tusker, meet the Maasai,

Namibia, the Green City in the Sun, and the untamed wonders of Kenya, Tanzania, and spicy Zanzibar.

see the red sands of

xx Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Namibia TO U R





Shifting Sands and Storybook Wildlife


e enter a mountain range of sand, one towering dune majestically following another and, astonishingly, they are all red. We stop at the largest dune, kick off our shoes and hike up a ridge. Breathless, we reach the top. I feel the impermanence of the shifting sand as it slips through my fingers. “This is the Namib Desert and runs along the entire coast of Namibia,” our guide explains. “This red color is unique to this Sossusvlei area.” Situated in southwestern Africa, Namibia is a giant sandbox. We scramble down a steep slope and walk across Dead Vlei, a surreal, ghostly white, salt-encrusted clay pan. The sun reflects from the cracked surface. Dead acacia trees form stark skeletal outlines. Heading back to camp, there is no sign of human habitation, but we’re fascinated by storybook animals: delicate springboks, long-horned oryx and ostrich, all grazing, ignoring our Land Rover.


Back at the camp, smiling staff meet our group of travelers with drinks and towelettes. My cabin is elegant with large windows and a deck with a pool. Best is a rooftop “skybed” for sleeping under the immensity of stars that overflow the sky each night. I stroll to the lodge and relax on the sprawling deck, watching a water hole abuzz with exotic wildlife. At dinner, the staff dance and sing in their Nama-Damara click language, sounding like music from the Lion King. The next morning, we board an airplane and fly west. The red dunes slowly turn to beach beige. At the Atlantic, we turn north. A wraithlike sight appears: a shipwreck protrudes from the sand. It’s one of more than 500 shipwrecks on this coast, which explorers called the “sands of hell.” Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 33

Namibia TO U R

Best is a rooftop “skybed” for sleeping under the immensity of stars that overflow the sky each night. Trees in Dead Vlei in Sossusvlei

The Milky Way, Namibia

On safari in Namibia


Disembarking at the town of Swakopmund, which retains a delightful German colonial atmosphere, we join a Land Rover tour deep into the dunes. We race up the crest of a tall dune then make a heart-thumping dive down the other side. Stopping, the guide points at the tracks of a sidewinder snake that travels sideways rather than straight. “It’s poisonous,” he says. I wish I had not removed my shoes.

Hiking Sossusvlei dune in Naukluft National Park

Next morning, the airplane carries us north. I gaze down at a maze of animal trails next to Namibia’s renowned Etosha National Park. A giraffe ambles along. We pass over a herd of zebras. As we bump down, two ostriches with long necks watch us curiously. Driving to the next camp, we see warthogs, zebras, a waterbuck and two oryx with long, lethal horns. I hardly notice the oven-like heat of 104°F. Soon I’m relaxing in my ‘tent’, which resembles a comfortable hotel suite. I feel like Hemingway in Africa. Our guide calls and bustles us aboard the Land Rover for a safari. After a while, he points to fresh dung the size of soccer balls. Rounding a bend, we find a herd of elephants foraging amongst the trees. A little baby Jumbo, only two weeks old, wanders amongst the enormous treetrunk legs of the adults. After numerous photos, we continue. We follow three white rhinos: two huge and ponderous adults and a smaller youngster. As the sun settles, our thoughts turn to the delightful safari tradition of sundowners. Seeking a spot to set up, the guide turns a corner and – surprise! – lying there on the dusty track are five large, powerful lions.

The guide parks about 15 feet away and with a grin, says, “Please stay in the vehicle, be very quiet and don’t make any sudden movements.” He proceeds to calmly prepare drinks. My heart is thumping as I sip a wine and try to take photos unobtrusively. I’m very aware that we have no rifle and are totally defenseless. To my horror, a lioness stands up and walks straight toward me, 300 pounds of lithe motion. I try to tell the guide to accelerate away, but only squeaks emerge. The lioness stops about one yard from the vehicle and stares at me. Then she yawns, walks away and plops down with her sisters. Dusk settles, the temperature drops and the lions, shaking off their day-time lethargy, are probably starting to think about dinner. Seated in an open vehicle, we must look like tasty hors d’oeuvres. Our guide nonchalantly opens another bottle of wine. Now it’s dark and we finally drive back to camp with me casting frequent nervous looks behind. Walking to my tent, I stick like glue to the armed escort. b To plan your trip to Namibia, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 35

Namibia VO L U N T E E R

The Legacy of



back saying, ‘The elephants are coming!’ Then I woke up and one lone elephant walked right underneath me. It was moonlit so all you saw was her lumbering silhouette. She was so quiet but you could hear her footsteps in the sand ... swish, swish, swish.”

Alex, in her basecamp tree fort

XX Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 Baboon posing

A water tank for local villagers will be installed within the wall


ased in New York City, AlexAnndra Ontra is President & COO of Shufflrr, a presentation management business, and Board President for a ballet company called Dances Patrelle. When she needs a break, Alex heads to the airport. “I work in a bubble, staring at a computer,” she says. “Traveling forces me to look up.” Past trips have taken her to Spain, Ireland, France, Croatia, Greece, Morocco, and Colombia. What made her choose Namibia? Years ago, Alex read an article about how elephants experience emotions much like humans. The story stuck with her. When she saw an opportunity to volunteer with these gentle giants, she was intrigued. “I live a pretty good life in New York. We have nice restaurants, hot water ... this trip was the exact opposite of that. And I thought, for two weeks of my life, why not?” Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA) works to reduce conflict between local Namibians and the vulnerable bush elephants. Volunteers help fortify water points, collect data on the herds, and sleep “wild” under the desert stars. “In other places they have elephant sanctuaries,” Alex explains. “This was not a sanctuary. These are elephants living in the wild.” The herds have scientific names, such as H12, but the elephants have human names like Mama Afrika, Bellatrix, Betty ... and Voortrekker, the trailblazer who brought bush elephants to the Kunene Region in 1998. Humanizing the elephants is critical to the cause. It helps locals – who have endured raids of their food and water supplies – see them as friends, instead of foes.

Base camp felt a like a scene from The Flintstones

When Alex’s group arrived, they were greeted by EHRA’s elephant whisperers, Christophe Pitot and Matthias Kangumbe. After a somewhat sleepless first night, they headed out to work – pure manual labor that involved collecting large rocks, mixing sand and cement, and building a protective wall around a water tank. After several days, the group returned to their base camp near Brandberg Mountain, which boasts only rudimentary facilities. “Showering under the moonlight, that was kind of cool.” The second week, they took Land Cruisers out on elephant patrol. “We followed them off-road, much deeper than a safari tour,” Alex recalls. “The grass was eye level. We drove through rivers, off rocks, I thought we’re going to die, but we didn’t.” At one point, a herd of elephants surrounded their truck. Christophe told everyone to put their cameras down and be still. “Apparently ...” Alex begins with a twinkle, “The bull wanted some attention from the ladies. We thought they were studying us. But elephants hear vibrations with their feet. They were having a conversation!” Finally, one of the cows acquiesced and the couple wandered into a meadow. “They were very discreet,” Alex notes. While not a separate species, Namibia’s bush elephants have unique characteristics – larger feet, smaller bodies, taller legs – that enable them to survive in the moonlike landscape. Years of poaching, hunting, and conflict with humans nearly wiped them out. With the help of organizations like EHRA the herds are finally growing. “The babies are so cute,” Alex coos.

On the wall with Matthias

Despite the long days and blistering 116 ºF heat, Alex says she would do another volunteer trip. “I’m not normally manual labor girl. For me, just being outdoors in the elements was huge. I have a much greater appreciation for water. And working with people from all over the world reminded me that we’re more alike and compassionate than today’s headlines would have you believe.” b To plan your trip to Namibia, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX

Kenya TO U R


Feeding Betty at the Giraffe Center





he giraffes of Kenya are gentle animals – until suddenly, they aren’t.

“Don’t stand in front of Betty if you’re not going to feed her,” Joyce, the educator on duty at The Giraffe Center of Nairobi, a rescue institution for endangered Rothschild giraffes, advises me of my thick-lashed new friend. “If you don’t feed her, she might head-butt you and that will hurt.” Scooping the pellets from my palm with her impossibly long and purple tongue, Betty patiently lets me touch her velvety spots. Slowly comprehending the fact I’m standing face-to-face with a real giraffe, the magical moment lasts until I run out of food and Betty lopes away, her terms quite clear: I am the visitor, the enjoyer – the learner. She is the inhabitant and has prerogatives of her own. This, I’ll learn over the next week, is the delicate balance of Kenya: opportunities to luxuriate in the beauty of the place – in spanning skies and grasslands, in fabled beasts and ancient cultures – is almost always contingent on the whims of a world that is truly wild.

38 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

KENYA is … urban With more than four million inhabitants making up 42 different communities in Kenya, the multicultural metropolis of Nairobi is known for its sunny days, burgeoning business district, exceptional dining and well-stocked national park. It’s an epicenter of culture and commerce for East Africa; gritty, polished, modern and wild all at once, and deserves more consideration than the two-day stopovers typically afforded by most safari-goers. On my own first day in the city, the jetlag from the 20-hour flight gives way to a strange sort of euphoria in the face of a thousand little things witnessed that morning: the women serving corn from a plastic tub to a queue of well-dressed businessmen below my hotel window; baboons and merchants mingling on a suburban roadside; a lavish children’s festival, complete with bouncy castle on the grounds of the famous Karen Blixen Museum. Driving from our hotel to the Giraffe Center and then on to the equally-popular David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, we bypass chaotic

roundabouts ruled by minibuses and sleek shopping centers. We’re not long for Nairobi; the call of the traditional safari is beckoning, but I nevertheless find myself yearning for more time to explore the ‘Green City in the Sun’, if only to understand it better. After all, there are not many cities where one can play with baby elephants, enjoy a cool Tusker (Kenya’s national beer) while shopping for artisanal souvenirs, then turn around and devour all manner of animals at the city’s infamous Carnivore barbecue joint – all of which we accomplish in two days. But this is Nairobi. It has its own dance, its own beat, and its own drum.

KENYA is … humbling Perhaps unsurprisingly, this world of pachyderms and big cats; of acacia trees, watering holes and tall grasses; of Lake Victoria, lush mountainsides – and exhaustive mammalian ecologies – is overwhelming. What may be surprising, however, is that it’s not all wild; as a leading exporter of cut flowers and major producer of tea and coffee, agriculture employs about more than 75 percent of the population. The enormous success of both is due entirely to Kenya’s conservation efforts, shouldered and bolstered by its people to

Barack, a black rhino at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy

The delicate balance of Kenya is almost always contingent on the whims of a world that is truly wild. Samburu warrior

Sundowner on the Maasai Mara

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX

Kenya TO U R

an optimistic extent. The majority of Kenya’s residents – even beyond the rangers, safari guides and lodge workers of the tourism industry – share the belief that their country’s future success relies on the harmonious existence of both its local communities and ecosystems. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a 90,000-acre private wildlife region located near Mount Kenya, is the location of my first classic safari experience, and has a devoted conservation model. Designated to protect endangered animals as well as local communities, the conservancy contributes to the economic growth of local residents through employment, innovative programming and public support. Home to 113 critically endangered black rhinos, as well as the planet’s last three white northern ones, it is a sanctuary in the truest sense of the word.

Karen Blixen Museum

It’s also the location of Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a 300-acre preserve for 39 rescued chimpanzees (formerly trafficked illegally from the Congo to Nairobi, usually destined for laboratories, the pet trade, or the entertainment industry). I skirt their enclosure and listen to the manager recount their backstories as they toss debris at the 30-foot tall Getting water from the Mara River for Mama Jane

electric fence, looking for weaknesses and demanding treats. It’s a unique convergence of human interference and the miraculous resilience of nature, and a stark perspective on the impact of my consumer world back home. Further south in the Maasai Mara, a park located north of the Serengeti along Kenya’s southwest border, appreciation for nature takes on a more immersive form. Here, beneath the boundless expanse of grass and sky, sunrise safaris and scenic balloon rides are the order of the day. Even the fauna, which at times can climb into herds of millions, struggles to fill this vast and untamed space – although it does succeed in instilling me with a deep sense of insignificance.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

40 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Even when sitting in the safety of a safari jeep, there are moments of proximity to water buffalo, elephants, leopards, hippo, and, in one case, a skillfully sneaky hyena – which are as hair-raising as they are breathtaking. Silence is golden here, particularly when a pride of lions appears on the savannah, and everything within eyesight seems to hold its breath until they pass. Here, wilderness is allowed to simply be, and humans are left to imagine a time long before they first came on the scene.

The best part is a safari isn’t even necessary in the Mara; during my trip, as we drive from one camp to another, we’re graced with droves of heavily-tusked elephants, grizzled predators – their faces scarred from survival – and at one point, the most beautiful beast of all: a near-extinct white rhino and his posse of armed guards in the middle of a sweeping meadow. A word of warning: if ever you find yourself in the presence of such an animal, whose very existence has been hacked away to such a desperate state, prepare to come away forever changed in both heart and mind. With that said, if you’re ever going to experience such a life-altering opportunity, chances are, it will be in Kenya.


Local Residents In the middle of our trip, my group makes a three-day stop at Bogani Tented Cottages and Camp, run by the social enterprise ME to WE in partnership with WE Villages, located in Narok County. Although widely considered to be a charitable organization, WE’s family of brands are intriguing and multifaceted; its volunteer product aims to connect travelers with local residents to create a mutually beneficial experience rooted in community empowerment, cultural education, and sustainable development. This all begins with WE’s five-pillar model, which includes education, water, health, food and opportunity. During our stay, we tour Kisaruni Girls Secondary School, where the Maasai and Kipsigis students explain how living and

learning together at the school fostered a better understanding between their conflicting tribes. They describe their love for computers and science, and talk about their future careers. We explore WE’s organic farm, which uses innovative gardening techniques taught by the community’s farmers to help other residents grow their own food. The doctors of Baraka Health Clinic show us how local staff, solar power, an on-site garden and vaccination program makes the facility entirely self-sufficient, and allows it to provide free medical services to the surrounding district. Perhaps most notably, we visit the home of Mama Jane, a leading figure in WE’s Carousel Program, which works to facilitate financial independence in local women through entrepreneurial projects. She tells us how her jewelry production led to the purchase of several goats, which led to her ability to sell milk in the market, and eventually resulted in the building of her own house – an accomplishment previously unheard of in her community. Throughout a comfortable stay filled with music, stories and nature walks, we learn the significance of dressing conservatively; refraining from careless photography, and asking thoughtful questions. Three days isn’t nearly enough time to fully wrap my head around how WE’s presence, or its volunteer traveler product at Bogani, has affected the region, but it’s clear the residents have taken ownership over the projects, and have continued to develop them long after WE has moved on to other communities. What’s more, the stay has given me insight into a method of travel beyond simply creating pleasurable memories with sundowner cocktails, animal-spotting and epic scenery. It’s created an individual, human connection aside from the classic safari experience – and more importantly, fostered a desire to learn more about Kenya’s environment, its people, and its own identity as a country long after I’ve returned home. b To plan your trip to Kenya, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Mama Jane proudly shows off her house

Welcome from Kisaruni Girls Secondary School

Welcome from ME to WE team to Bogani Tented Cottages and Camp

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 41

Kenya S TAY


A Night in a



42 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018


Maasai Mara Game Reserve ❘ Kenya


ur tour group is warmly welcomed by the camp’s owner and his wife, who also owns three other luxury camps in the Masai Mara. They assign each of us to a luxury tent and a Masai warrior guard; the reason why we need a guard becomes clear later that night. Carbola, my Masai warrior, guides me to my tent for a quick freshen-up before heading off for a late afternoon game drive and sundowner before dinner. My tent is spacious and simply gorgeous – like nothing I have experienced before. Elegantly designed in modern African décor with all the right accents, it includes a large four-poster bed complete with mosquito netting, as well as a sitting area, an oldfashioned claw-foot tub, a separate outdoor shower, and its own private plunge pool. Later that afternoon, our group heads out for a game drive. The thrill of seeing lions, ostriches, zebras, buffalo, gazelles, wildebeests and giraffes in their natural habitat continue to keep me in awe of this beautiful country. At the end of the drive, our jeep rolls up to an area set up with a campfire, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres where we watch the sunset on the Masai Mara. As the sky darkens, our group heads back to camp for the most delicious dinner with Nagib’s family. As a special treat for my birthday, I receive a ‘cutta cutta,’ the Swahili version of Happy Birthday where the entire staff at the camp enter dancing and singing to me. And as this wonderful night comes to an end, Carbola escorts me back to my tent advising he would wake me up at 5 a.m. for our morning game drive. I still could not understand why I needed an escort – I felt totally safe during my stay at the camp – but, I soon found out why.

Connecting guests to the best of Maasai Mara, Fairmont Mara Safari Club is tucked peacefully in the northwestern corner of this stunning Game Reserve – home to the great wildebeest migration. The Club is set on the foot of Aitong Hills and offers 51 luxuriously furnished tents featuring, four-poster beds, en suite facilities, and private decks overlooking the hippo- and crocodile-filled Mara River. With an outdoor swimming pool, lounge and restaurant, and exciting game drives accompanied by the most scenic sundowner cocktails and dining experiences in the bush, Fairmont Mara Safari Club is the perfect base for safari adventure in the incredible African Savannah.

Ensemble® Exclusives Meet & greet by Maasai dancers upon arrival ❘ Breakfast, lunch & dinner for two daily ❘ Two game drives per room, per stay ❘ Dinner for two at Hippo Deck ❘ Visit to Rhino Sanctuary per room, per stay ❘ Exotic fruit basket ❘ Free Wi-Fi in main building ❘ Return airstrip transfers

The camp is located along the Mara River where, during the day, hippopotamuses lay in the coolness of the water, but, during the night, they come to the camp to feed on the grass. I was awakened by hippopotamus snorting and chumping as Carbola stood guard softly shouting at them to go away. As 5 a.m. approached, Carbola arrives at my tent entrance with a ‘good morning’ and a coffee carafe. He smiles and says, “You had a lot of hippo last night.” It was an experience I will never forget. b To book an Ensemble luxury safari camp, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 43

Tanzania/Zanzibar TO U R



Sunset sail, Zanzibar



here’s only one issue. Your sweetheart wants to go to a beach. Wait a minute, Tanzania has a beach – a whole archipelago of beaches. After some negotiations, you agree to split the two weeks. First, a safari, then a posh seaside resort on the north coast of Zanzibar. “Wow,” you think, “if things keep going so smoothly, this could be your best vacation ever.” You land in Arusha, near Mount Meru, and jambo, hello, is the first Swahili word you learn as your hosts welcome you with laidback Tanzanian charm. Wait, that’s a lie. You knew hakuna matata, from the lion movie. But you learned those words BT, before Tanzania, so they don’t really count. At daybreak, you awaken to birdsong. For the first time in a long time neither of you picks up your phone. Out on the deck the coffee, grown nearby, is fresh and hot and good. You snap some couples selfies as the morning sun splinters through the acacias. 44 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Over the next several days, you’re on the move. The animals are too. Hippos, crocodiles, wildebeest, zebras, elephants, every one of the Big 5 ... and then some. Your guide gets word there are lions up ahead. You find them napping in a tree. One afternoon, hyenas join the scene. You try to take them seriously, but someone keeps doing Disney quotes, and you succumb to fits of laughter. In the Serengeti, you finally see a rhino. It’s prehistoric and astounding. Later, floating in an infinity pool overlooking the savannah, you begin to crave the beach. In Zanzibar, it finally feels like you’re on vacation. The Arab influence is deep and rich and assuring. The beach, pure, soft, and pristine. You book a scuba diving excursion, ahem reef safari, for later in the week. Then commence relaxing on the beach, drinking in the sunshine, splashing in the turquoise Indian Ocean surf, and posing like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. In the afternoon,

Exotic spices of Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

you hit the spa, where an “après safari” couples treatment softens the memory of your rugged game drives. One evening, after sunset, you venture into the swirling, aromatic night market and take turns sampling local delicacies. Each treat is blended with exotic spices and unique flavors, the aftermath of the island’s history as an ancient trading center for merchants from Africa, India, Arabia, Persia, Indonesia, China, and more. On the dive trip, you hear about swimming with whale sharks, Zanzibar’s “first best” kite surfing school, and an off-shore island that’s practically all spice plantations. Back at the resort, a Taarab band fills the night air with its hypnotic beat. You curl up in the daybed on your private terrace, gaze at the stars, and share contented sighs. It’s been a big day. A big two weeks. Maybe the whale sharks will have to wait. Maybe you’ll learn kite surfing next time. Maybe next time you’ll climb Kili. b To plan a Tanzanian safari and/or an exotic escape to Zanzibar, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

HOW TO SPICE UP A SAFARI A honeymoon escape to the islands of Zanzibar New York newlyweds Nina & Ryan Minogue started their married life on a wild note — with a safari in Tanzania. Regular game drives made for incredible sightings of elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo, and giraffes. Back at the safari camp, they were treated to another exotic sighting. Actors Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford were staying there too. “He was celebrating his 75th birthday,” recalls Nina, “It was very exciting!” After taking in Tanzania’s wilder side, the couple escaped to Baraza Resort & Spa on the island of Zanzibar. The “Spice Islands” are a big draw for travelers who enjoy diving, kite surfing, and stunning beaches. At Baraza, muted hues, Moorish archways, and an enviable collection of antiques evoke the Sultanate era. Here, Nina and Ryan spent their days relaxing on the sugar-white beach, indulging in massages at Frangipani Spa, and sampling exotic Arabic, Indian, Persian, Asian, and Swahili-influenced cuisine. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX


Where the Birds Are

Sandy & John Ritchie R E TI R E D ( F I N A LLY ! )

After 30 years in the data processing industry FAVO R ITE E S C A P E

Bird watching, pretty much anywhere HOME SWEET HOME

San Francisco Bay Area


Avid birders with enviable life lists, Sandy & John Ritchie are the kind of people who stop talking mid-sentence to admire a bird in a nearby tree, then continue where they left off as though nothing had occurred. After retiring, they picked up the pace on their traveling.

At first, they took mostly land journeys – to Colombia, Australia, and the like. Nowadays, they’re into cruising. A lot. How many weeks were you away traveling this year? Eleven weeks, three different trips. We’re feeling the clock ticking away our healthy days for travel, so we’ve been going on a lot of trips.

Islands; the Canary Island Canary was a “must see” bird. There are also birds that remain elusive. We’ve made numerous attempts to see the Southern Cassowary in Northern Queensland, Australia – they’re still waiting for us.

You’re big birders. Does that influence your travels?

Have you ever been to South Africa?

Sometimes we select a country based on the bird list for the area. For cruises, the destinations determine our choice. However, wherever we go, there are always birds to be seen. On our last cruise, we had stops in the Canary 46 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

We took a family trip to South Africa with my brother and 97-year-old father. The highlight was our eight days in Kruger National Park. In addition to the fabulous birdlife, we managed to see the “Big 5.” One of our

favorite birds was the Lilac-Breasted Roller. Although it is very common (a “trash” bird) it’s really beautiful.

Your trip to Botswana was for a birthday party, is that right? We went to Botswana for my friend Sandi’s 60th. After the party, we drove to Chobe National Park and stayed at a game lodge. We did a river cruise and saw elephants, impalas, water buffalo, alligators, kudus, hippos, and giraffe. The birdlife was prolific and varied – storks, herons, egrets, oxpeckers, jacanas, kingfishers, bee-eaters, and

many more. We also did a land safari and crossed the border into Zambia to go to Victoria Falls.

Milestone birthday trips are a great. Have you done others? When Sandi’s husband, Chris, turned 70, there was a big celebration in Italy, in the Tuscany region. We shared a villa in Bagni di Lucca. It was a week of excesses, but we survived. Following the birthday bash, we spent a week split between the tiny country of Andorra and the south of France, near Toulouse. The final two weeks were in Scotland, London, and the Lake District of northern England, where I tackled the Coniston Old Man hike. After I did that, I felt like I could do anything!

Do you always travel together? I made a solo birding trip to Brazil with a group of birders. John saw the trip and encouraged me to go. I hesitated because it didn’t feel right spending so much money on just me, but eventually I gave in. It was two weeks, one in the Atlantic Forest between São Paulo and Rio, the second in The Pantanal.

➌ ➊ Sandy and John (on left) with friends in the tiny country of Andorra ➋ A white-fronted bee-eater spotted in Chobe National Park ➌ Sandy, John, and friends cruising the Chobe River ➍ The couple on a game drive in Chobe National Park ➎ After posing for a photo, this lioness began stalking a herd of buffalo ➏ Sandy having a beer in the pub after a hard day’s birding ➐ An African impala lending a red-billed oxpecker her ear ➑ A malachite kingfisher resting on a reed ➒ Sandy conquering the 2,634 foot high Old Man Coniston

What trip surprised you the most? We were only going to do one cruise last year but John saw a deal for a round-trip from Sydney. It stopped in Brisbane, five ports in Papua New Guinea, and one in the Solomon Islands. I really loved that trip. We have never been anywhere so undeveloped.

➎ ➒

What’s been your longest trip? It was a five-week cruise from Hong Kong to Cape Town with stops in Manila, Borneo, Malaysia, Maldives, Seychelles Islands, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and four ports in South Africa. John set up private guides for birding in a few ports, the rest of the time we scheduled shore excursions – snorkeling, game drives, a day at the wineries.

Where are you headed next? Next year, we’re finally going to make our first trip to Alaska on a cruise. We’ve also planned a round-trip cruise from Amsterdam that sails the Norwegian coastline to nearly the Arctic Circle. b ➐ Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 47


HAUTE COUTURE T R AV E L Introducing swo on-worthy land extensions for intrepid cruise rs PRESENTING SILVERSEA’S COUTURE COLLECTION 2018

RWANDA & THE SERENGETI Walking in the Footsteps of Giants Includes Rwanda’s award-winning Bisate Lodge, two full days gorilla trekking, Big Five game drives in the Serengeti, and exotic nights in a luxury camp built exclusively for Silversea guests. 7 nights, starting November 20, 2018

MONGOLIA Echoes of Genghis Khan Includes Shangri-La Ulaanbataar, the forbidden Ulaan Taiga, reindeer herding, Dream Khuvsgul Lodge, golden eagle hunting with the Kazakh people, a Naadam festival, and more.

WHITE DESERT & THE SOUTH POLE Standing on the Bottom of the Earth Includes Russia’s Novolazarevskaya, the American science base, Atka Bay’s Emperor Penguin colony, a day on the South Pole, and accommodations in Whichaway Camp on the Shirmacher Oasis. 10 nights, starting January 2, 2018

48 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

8 nights, starting May 2, 2018

Much like the after-parties that rage into the wee hours of Parisian nights, Silversea’s Couture Collection 2018 is so astoundingly desirable, it almost eclipses the main event – an alluring selection of intimate, ultra-luxury cruises to 900 destinations in the world, including 3- to 25-day voyages, Expedition Cruises, World Cruises, Grand Voyages, and Signature Cruises designed around opera, ballet, culinary arts, birding expeditions, bridge sailing, culinary voyages, and more.


hile the arbiters of high fashion are gathering in Paris to revel in their latest haute inspirations, the Lefebvre family of Silversea have presented the world with a collection of their own. In this case, a rare assemblage of exclusive, pre- and post-cruise adventures designed to elicit gasps of “Merveilleux!” from even the most au fait world travelers.

With seamless transitions to-or-from select cruises, Silversea’s Couture Collection land adventures include transport via private jet, helicopter, and luxury 4x4; bespoke meals prepared by private chefs; exclusive hotels and remote luxury camps; champagne toasts galore; and elite adventures meticulously scouted and arranged by Silversea’s destination designers to showcase the most remote and captivating corners of our planet.

TIBET - Standing on the Rooftop of the World Includes St. Regis Lhasa, Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, a monk debate at Sera Monastery, Buddhist meditation, Maitreya Buddha, Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, more.

BOLIVIA Reflections at 12,000 Feet Includes bespoke geodesic dome camps on the spellbinding Nevado Sajama, Salar de Uyuni salt flats, rare encounters with James’s flamingoes, and Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa.

6 nights, starting October 8, 2018

9 nights, starting October 17, 2018

8 nights, starting October 23, 2018

ICELAND Unravelling the Legends of Fire & Ice Includes flights to the Godafoss waterfall and Langjokull Glacier, Icelandic horseback riding, ice cave explorations, lunch atop Eyjafjallajokull, Deplar Farm, the Blue Lagoon, and more. 6 nights, starting August 2, 2018

RAJASTHAN, INDIA In the Path of Powerful Titans Includes a private tour of New Delhi, tiger tracking in Ranthambore, a private Baradari dinner in Umaid Bhawan Palace, an exquisite stay in The Serai, Oberoi Gurgaon spa, and more.

NAMIBIA & ROVOS RAIL Sifting Through the Sands of Time Includes Little Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Skeleton Coast flightseeing, Namib Desert hot air ballooning, a romantic 1,000 miles journey aboard Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa, and more. 7 nights, starting January 9, 2018

OUTBACK AUSTRALIA A Walkabout on the Other Red Planet Includes Darwin, Bullo River Station, the Bungle Bungle Range, Argyle Diamond Mine, Aboriginal rock art galleries, a working cattle farm, 5-star luxury tents, Paspaley pearls, and more.

6 nights, starting July 23, 2018

Please see page 103 for exclusive Silversea offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 49

Grand National Parks

13 DAYS from

with Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon

$2,899 pp/dbl

HIGHLIGHTS: • One-way Amtrak® in Coach accommodations from Chicago to Salt Lake City to Williams; Williams to Chicago in Coach accommodations • 8 nights’ hotel accommodations; 4 nights’ onboard Amtrak • Sightseeing tours of Yellowstone’s Lower Loop, Yosemite National Park and Los Angeles • Roundtrip service in Coach accommodations on the Grand Canyon Railway • Motorcoach Freedom Tour of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim • 2 meals g ic a Ch

5 889





S o>

al t



C it


lo Yel

to ws



on at i




L k>



e ng

le s


m llia Wi


n G ra



n nyo



a io n


ar k


*Package prices are per person, double occupancy, tax included. Prices do not include rail from your hometown. Please call for pricing. Package prices are subject to change without notice, and all reservations are based upon availability at the time of booking. Amtrak travel is for Coach accommodations unless otherwise noted. Upgrades to Roomette or Bedroom accommodations on board Amtrak are available. Call for pricing. Other restrictions may apply. Activities referenced in the itinerary during free time are for suggested purposes only and are not included. Seasonal activity (if applicable): During the off-season, some tours may not be available. In this case, a similar tour will be substituted. Passports (if applicable): Amtrak and Amtrak Vacations are registered service marks of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

Interlaken > Jungfraujoch > Brig > Glacier Express > Chur > Bernina Express > Chur

Classic Glacier and Bernina Express

VACATION INCLUDES: 4 Nights’ Hotel Stay with Breakfast 3-Day Swiss Pass Seat Reservations on Glacier Express and Bernina Express Day Trip to Jungfraujoch Rail Travel Throughout For more information, please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. All rail travel is in standard class, upgrades to first class are available. Prices do not include rail from your hometown. Please call for pricing. Package prices are subject to change without notice, and all reservations are based upon availability at the time of booking. Single occupancy supplements will apply for solo travelers. Hotel and room facilities vary and may be subject to additional fees. Some hotels require payment of local city taxes on arrival. Please call for pricing. We accept all major credit and debit cards. Activities referenced in the itinerary during free time are for suggested purposes only and are not included.


Oh, to live the life of a destination connoisseur, traveling the globe in search of

undiscovered adventures – returning home brimming with ideas, insights, and stories. Recently, we caught up with Phil Leech, Executive Destination Services Manager for Oceania Cruises.


FOR THE LOVE OF ASIA A conversation with destination expert Phil Leech

Q You just returned from Asia. What

made you choose to go there? A Asia is where seasoned explorers go to fulfill their wanderlust and immerse themselves in truly exotic cultures. Everywhere you go in Asia, the guides are keen to show you their hidden gems.

People rave about Hong Kong excursions. What do you recommend? I’m partial to Lantau Island. You visit traditional fishing villages and the Po Lin Monastery, which has three Buddha statues including an outdoor bronze Buddha that’s over 50 feet high.

Can you share a few of your favorite excursions with us? Ha Long Bay is high on my list. It’s one of the most breathtaking UNESCO sites. You sail a Vietnamese junk between monolithic limestone islands. It’s just stunning.

How about Bangkok, what do you do when you’re there? In Bangkok, everyone thinks Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha. But the real treasure is Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. I love standing there, imagining this enigmatic UNESCO site

To Savor the Finest Cuisine at Sea™ with Oceania Cruises, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. And don’t miss the offers on page 97.

during its glory days. The excursion also includes a Thai lunch, which is delicious. Is there one particular aspect of Asia that stands out for you? Every journey to the Far East is full of adventure, intrigue, and immersion into extraordinary worlds. That being said, I can highly recommend the cuisine. I’m biased, of course, but Oceania really does capture the flavors of the region beautifully on board as well.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 51




Adventures of the Caribbean


St. Lucia



Dominican Republic

After the hurricanes and earthquakes of past months, Mexico and almost all of the Caribbean are ready to welcome vacationers again. Combining down time with wow time is increasingly the aim of travelers. Here are our picks for adventures of the Caribbean.

Drive into a Volcano in St. Lucia Near Soufrière lies the rocky lunar landscape of St. Lucia’s famous “drive-in” volcano. You can literally drive your car into a collapsed volcanic crater that was formed half a million years ago in a massive eruption. From the parking lot, you’ll walk uphill along a closely monitored trail, peppered with Park Rangers. Observation platforms allow a close-up view of bubbling sulphur springs and pools of hissing steam. You can also bathe in hot springs and take a therapeutic hot mud bath.

Snuba in Aruba If scuba diving is too much, but snorkeling has excited you about the undersea world, then Snuba is for you. There’s no need for time-consuming certification: a 15-minute orientation and you are ready to dive down to the coral and tropical fish just 20 feet below the surface. There’s no heavy tank on your back either – you are attached to an airline leading from a support raft on the surface. The place to go is De Palm Island on Aruba’s west coast, just south of the capital of Oranjestad.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 53

Fly with the Stingrays in Cayman Swimming with a 150-pound stingray in a warm, clear lagoon feels something like flying alongside a graceful bird. Stingray City is just inside a natural channel that passes through Grand Cayman’s barrier reef. It consists of a string of sandbars, some as shallow as three feet. Stingrays were first attracted here by fishermen cleaning their fish in the calm waters.

Submarine in Barbados Off the coast of Barbados, you can experience exotic scenes more than 100 feet under water – without getting wet. The Atlantis submarine descends to reefs and wrecks below the Caribbean Sea and features big viewing ports so that submariners can see tropical fish, swaying sea fans and coral reefs. You can also dive at night to see nocturnal predators, with the colors of the reef highlighted by the submarine lights.

Save the Whales in Samana Humpback whales weigh up to 80,000 pounds and measure up to 50 feet in length. Every year, these magnificent creatures migrate more than 13,000 nautical miles from their northern feeding grounds in freezing polar waters down to the warm seas off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. You can witness humpbacks from January to April each year as they enter Samana Bay to breed and give birth. Go whale watching with Kim Beddall, a Canadian conservationist who has been sharing her passion for marine mammals since 1983.

Caving in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country Cockpit Country is a region of wildly vertical topography in western Jamaica. Weirdly eroded limestone scenery called ‘karst’ cloaks an underground world of caves and subterranean rivers. Enter a cave with your local spelunking guide via a narrow stream, illuminated by your headlamp. Soon you’re crouching, then on hands and knees, and then wriggling and sliding through underground passageways. Swim and wade among stalagmites and stalactites as you journey through a whole new world. b

To plan your trip to the Caribbean, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. 54 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

BEACH, PLEASE WE FLY NON-STOP TO CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA, JAMAICA & PUNTA CANA All-inclusive vacation packages, most with non-stop air, provide exceptional value even at our most exciting five-star resorts. We offer no compromise vacations perfect for this year’s big escape or a quick getaway to recharge. Fly from your hometown to ours, including almost every city in the US and Canada.

EXCLUSIVE NON-STOPS: CANCUN & RIVIERA MAYA Atlanta | Buffalo | Charlotte | Chicago | Cincinnati | Columbus | Detroit | Indianapolis | Memphis | Nashville New Orleans | Newark | Pittsburgh PUNTA CANA Atlanta | Austin | Baltimore | Buffalo | Charlotte | Chicago | Cincinnati | Cleveland | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Houston Indianapolis | Kansas City | Miami | Nashville | New Orleans | Newark | Pittsburgh | Tampa JAMAICA Atlanta | Cincinnati | Cleveland | Dallas | Nashville | Pittsburgh


For more information contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

*Vacation Express public charter flights operated by Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air, Miami Air International, VivaAerobus, Sunwing Airlines, Swift Air, LLC. and Volaris. See Operator/Participant Agreement for details.

vacexpress_ensemble_oct2017_jn.indd 8

10/17/17 5:04 PM




Restaurant on Fifth Avenue, Playa del Carmen


exican food is one of the only national cuisines in the world recognized as a cultural treasure by UNESCO, deemed to be integral to the culture’s heritage. It’s a busy weekend evening here on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen, the pedestrian street teeming with hungry travelers, most of whom seek and find fare that’s strictly mainstream: tacos and burritos are available around every corner, mucho margaritas at bar after bar. But I’m here looking for more than your average Saturday night nosh. Accompanied by two local experts well-versed in all that makes this cuisine special, we are searching for true Mexican food in one of North America’s biggest tourist destinations. “Our main goal is to show people that Mexico is beautiful, and that it’s much more than the hotel, and the beach,” explains Florencia Cevutti, one of my guides this evening. “We want people to know the culture – and to be part of it.” Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a favorite vacation destination, but it’s also an excellent place for a good meal, if you know where to look. Mexican food is one of the only national cuisines in the world recognized as a cultural treasure by UNESCO for bringing together colonial influences and ancient cultures. Here in Playa del Carmen, all of the complex flavors of this country come together. After a quick stop for some amazing ceviche at La Casa del Agua, made with local grouper, green tomato, chunks of cucumber, avocado and red onion, marinated in lemon juice, we walk a few more blocks to Mi Pueblo. This colorful restaurant, my other guide, Dalit Levanah Lara, notes, serves up traditional tastes that take many Mexicans back in time. Surrounded by


Got the late-night munchies? Velas Resorts is in Riviera Nayarit, Riviera Maya and Puerto Vallarta has the solution: a 24-hour in-suite taco bar. When you order the taco bar, you’ll get roasted pineapple, Poblano peppers with corn, and traditional Cochinita Pibil, fried Baja fish, octopus, and Chorizo with potatoes, and, of course, hot sauces and guacamole – all in your suite!

murals – vibrant depictions of the Day of the Dead, lucha libre wrestlers, and other national icons – we tuck into sopa de fideo, a traditional noodle soup. We follow it with a dish that combines chicken, Oaxaca cheese and lettuce wrapped into a butterysoft corn tortilla, all of it smothered in dark and delicious mole poblano. “This is the original mole – and the most complex,” Lara explains, noting that this special sauce dates back five centuries, and is served at important occasions. But it’s not easy to make: this mix includes both hot chili peppers and chocolate, and some recipes require more than 30 ingredients. “My grandmother used to take 15 hours to make it,” Lara remembers. “It is the taste of my childhood.” But it’s not just local restaurants that are placing an increasing emphasis on serving authentic Mexican. A tenminute drive from Fifth Avenue, at the Fairmont Mayakoba, a lush, five-star resort with villas strung along a series of small waterways, acclaimed Mexican chef Richard Sandoval has recently overhauled the resort’s three major culinary outlets, transforming them from stodgy and traditional to fresh and progressive (shared plates, locally sourced fish, and Latin-Asian fusion).

And next door at the all-inclusive Grand Velas, food is placed first among its priorities. Chef de Cuisine Nahum Velasco spent time in Spain and Denmark, learning the ways of Noma, which is often named the world’s best restaurant, and bringing those influences back here to the Yucatan. The resort’s Cocina de Autor is one of the most innovative restaurants in Mexico, a test kitchen that serves up a 13-course tasting menu that changes every few months, with the seasons. It’s high-class cuisine that makes the most of Mexican flavors and ingredients. Back on Fifth Avenue, we finish our night with a deceptively simple dessert: chocolate. Cevutti explains that the Mayans valued this sweet treat for centuries before the Spanish conquistadors brought it back to Europe. We pop into a spot called Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe, which serves up traditional Mayan, nomilk recipes made with water, cinnamon, chili peppers, and sweetened with honey. Sipping a Mayan hot chocolate, watching the heavy foot traffic on Fifth Avenue, the tang of the ceviche and sopa still on the back of my tongue, I feel like I understand Mexico, its history, and its vibrant day-today pastiche, just a little bit better. b To plan your trip to Mexico, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 57


All-inclusive, adults-only

Playa Time for

Grownups Trade your chaotic schedule for the tranquility of an exclusive, adults-only resort on Mexico’s legendary Playa del Carmen. One of The Leading Hotels of the World, the all-inclusive Royal Hideaway Playacar specializes in the kind of highly personalized service that makes escaping life’s responsibilities oh-so-worthwhile.

Check into spacious accommodations overlooking a wide, soft, white beach with translucent turquoise waves gently lapping at the shore. Curl up with a book in a plush Balinese daybed. Cool off in a waterfall that spills into a sparkling infinity pool, one of six swimming pools in the resort. Sail, windsurf, scuba dive. Take a private tennis lesson. Enjoy an afternoon round of golf. Craving a candlelight massage by the sea before bed? No problem. The Retreat offers a full range of soothing spa treatments, including massages, aromatherapy facials, body wraps, and more.

The chef will see you now Guests of Royal Hideaway Playacar enjoy unlimited dining in six venues – from fine dining with crisp, white table linens and expansive wine lists to casual fare served beachside. Cuisine options range from fresh seafood and local specialties to Italian, Asian fusion, grilled selections, and luscious salads. In Club Royale Theater, dinner comes with a show. And, at Las Ventanas, the Chef’s Table experience takes dining to an exquisite new level of luxury. For special offers from Travel Impressions please see page 94, or contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

58 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018




GO AHEAD. Slip out of everyday life and into an sizzling escape for two. Run away to your own private nirvana where secluded paths meander through lush,

tropical gardens, fresh cocktails are brought to you on a private beach, dinner is served seaside, and the all-inclusive privileges of Unlimited-Luxury® leave you wanting for nothing.

SECRETS Playa Mujeres Golf and

SECRETS Royal Beach Punta Cana

Spa Resort

Check into the all-suite, all-inclusive, adults-only Secrets Playa Mujeres in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Swim up, wind down, and play in sparkling swimming pools, al fresco whirlpools, beside the sea, or in any of the resort’s exceptional bars and lounges. Amenities include complimentary twilight greens fees at the nearby Greg Norman golf course, a wide array of water sports, beach games, dancing, nightly entertainment, and chocolate body wraps in the Secrets Spa by Pevonia.

Set on a white sand beach on the shores of the Dominican Republic, this all-inclusive, adults-only paradise features a soothing labyrinth of palm trees and manicured gardens, the perfect place for romance and rejuvenation. Amenities and activities include an arts market, casino games, live theater shows, a free-form swimming pool, movies on the beach, an openair disco and poolside lounge, cocktail parties, theme nights, couples massages, coffee seduction manicures, and more.

The Privileges of UNLIMITED-LUXURY® Presented by Apple Vacations, these romantic escapes feature elegant accommodations and the satisfying benefits of Unlimited-Luxury®, such as free Wi-Fi connectivity; unlimited premium beer, wine, top-shelf spirits, natural fruit juices, and soft drinks; and crave-worthy cuisine served in distinctive restaurants, outdoor grills, poolside cafés, beside the sea, or delivered to your room 24 hours a day.

For details about these Apple Vacations getaways, see pages 89-90. Then contact your Ensemble-member travel agent to make your escape.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 59


A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON THE AMERICAS Nicaragua and our Pacific Northwest At most, they’re just a couple time zones away from the city you call home. But with their diversity of vacation experiences, Nicaragua and the American Northwest offer travel opportunities that are far from ordinary! So if you’re looking for an exciting vacation, these close-tohome destinations are worth a closer look.

With their signature style, Alexander+Roberts Pacific Northwest journey begins with the best of Oregon. In the congenial company of never more than 16 guests, you’ll discover Portland and then travel to the Pacific Coast to explore the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in America. Amidst the beauty of the Oregon Garden, a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House reveals the architect’s pioneering vision. Fine farm-to-table cuisine and wine-tastings in the Willamette Valley add to the experience. Then step aboard the elegant American Empress for a one-week cruise up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Encompassing sites like the magnificent Columbia River Gorge and Sacajawea State Park, where Lewis and Clark camped in 1805, this is an unforgettable voyage of history and natural wonders. Flexible shore excursions, shipboard historians, fine dining, and free-flowing wine at dinner complete this luxury cruise experience.

Nicaragua is about the size of Louisiana, but packed between its Atlantic and Pacific coasts are a remarkable variety of things to see – and do! With your own personal car, driver and guide, A+R’s Private Week in Nicaragua brings the centuries-old Colonial history of Leon and Granada to life. Along the Pacific Coast, Juan Venado Island is home to dense mangrove forests alive with a variety of birds, sea turtles and crocodiles; it’s an area best explored on your included boat tour! The Masaya Volcano and Apoyo Lagoon are other wilderness areas that await your exploration.

For special offers from Alexander & Roberts please see page 89, or contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. 60 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018




From crystal blue waters to lush tropical rainforests, travelers can pack a lot into their days in this small Central American country.




Just a 30-minute drive from Panama City and you’ll find yourself in lush, cool rainforests. Here, you will find many activities: kayaking, fishing, and even aerial trams to give you a bird’s-eye view of the flora and fauna. You’ll also discover world-famous bird-watching areas. Nearby Pipeline Road offers serious birders or curious travelers the opportunity for a glimpse of toucans, tiny green honeycreepers or even hawks. It’s an easy hike, and bird-watchers are likely to see many monkeys and sloths, as well as birds. Don’t forget binoculars!

62 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018


An hour flight from Panama City, close to the Costa Rican border, is Bocas del Toro. This stunning archipelago is mostly covered in rainforest and spectacular white sand beaches — perfect for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling or diving. Known for its laidback vibe and color clapboard houses, Bocas del Toro is also one of the world’s biodiversity hot spots. You can explore its islands and cays by boat and see dolphins in their natural habitat, go snorkeling in crystal clear water surrounded by colorful fish, or dive deep for a close up look at its protected reefs.



Panama City is the perfect blend of old and new — just one look at the city’s skyline and you know this is a modern economic center. But, beyond the glass skyscrapers, you’ll find the Historic District, recognized as a World Heritage site for its original buildings from the 1600s. Also, look for a bustling fish market, waterfront walking trails and nearby beaches frequented by locals.


If you’re looking to get off the beaten track in Panama, visit Darién, on the country’s east side near the Colombian border. This remote location has a national park, the largest in Central America, considered to be one of the world’s richest biomes — a nature lover’s paradise. So rich in flora and fauna, Parque Nacional Darién has been declared a World Heritage site, as well as a World Biosphere Reserve. Here, opt for birdwatching in this spectacular environment, or take a river tour by dugout canoe.

Panama City


No trip to Panama is complete without a visit to its Canal. The Miraflores Visitor Center is worth the trip to learn the marvels of this man-made canal. Here, there’s an observation deck where you can watch, in sheer awe, as massive cargo ships pass through the 50-foot-deep locks. For an even closer look at the ships, try a river boat tour to Monkey Island on the Canal — you’ll see mostly howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys. These inquisitive creatures are known to hop into the boats in search of a banana or two.




There are two seasons: wet or ‘green’ and dry. It’s best to go in the dry summer season from mid-December to mid-April. Temperatures remain a fairly constant high at 86˚ F throughout the year. To plan your trip to Panama, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 63



ig airlines have a tendency to get around. And Delta Air Lines® is certainly no exception to that rule. After years of traveling to the most exotic destinations in the world, Delta has made quite a few friends. Lucky for us, those friendships add up to a bevy of remarkable vacation values.

Delta Vacations, the official vacation provider of Delta Air Lines, offers convenient bundles that make getting away from the stresses of everyday life an absolute breeze. These value-packed deals are the perfect solution for everything from weddings, honeymoons, and family vacations to romantic escapes and spur-ofthe-moment trips with friends. Travelers can leverage Delta’s partnerships to save big on airfare, hotels, car rentals, travel protection plans, tours, and more. Each bundle includes Delta Air Lines flights and strategic partners such as Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Aeromexico, and Virgin Atlantic. From there, you can take

your pick of over 4,000 hotels and resorts in more than 300 of the world’s top leisure destinations. Catch the annual Chocolate Festival in Grenada. Sample the sizzling night life in Buenos Aires. Drink in the delights of Bangkok, go glam in Dubai, or hide out in Kauai. Cycle the streets of Amsterdam. Run barefoot through Aruba, the Bahamas, or Saint Lucia. Soak up the sun on the beaches of Riviera Maya, Ixtapa, and La Paz. Convenience isn’t the only thing you get away with on a Delta Vacations trip. SkyMiles® Members earn up to 7,500 bonus miles through the SkyMiles Program.

All SkyMiles Program rules apply. To review the rules, please visit Delta Vacations airfares will earn Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs –U.S.-based members only) based on fare class and distance flown. Bonus miles do not count towards Medallion® Status or Million Miler™ Status. Please allow 6-8 weeks after qualification for miles to be posted to your account. Offers void where prohibited by law.

Ready to fly? Check out the Delta Vacations offers on page 92, then call your Ensemble-member travel agent for details. 64 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018


Get into the Action At Club Med®, it’s all about fresh air and exercise. No matter what sport you’re into, or want to try for the first time, Club Med’s pros and GO’s can show you all the right moves. Check into any of the 65 Club Med resorts around the world. By the end of your stay, you’ll have a posse of new international friends, a sharper tennis swing, finely honed scuba skills, a fierce volleyball spike, and a deep desire to come back for more. Club Med Sandpiper Bay Club Med’s only all-inclusive resort in the United States, Sandpiper Bay in sunny Florida is the perfect getaway for active families who want to up their game – whatever that game might be. Home of the Club Med Academies, the resort has pros on hand to help you master your tennis moves, sweeten your golf swing, fine tune your gym workout, and more. All while the little ones have a blast in the Kidz Village and teens hang out in their own zone. Recovery comes in the form of massages at the Club Med Spa, four swimming pools, and fresh, gourmet meals.

Club Med Punta Cana One of the best kept secrets in the Dominican Republic, all-inclusive Club Med Punta Cana underwent a flurry of renovations in 2017. The fresh, new Zen Oasis adults-only hideaway boasts a private beach, oversized lagoon pool, spacious Jacuzzi, and Hibiscus poolside bar. In Tiara, the 5-Trident luxury area, families enjoy suite accommodations, private concierge service, and an oceanfront infinity pool. The spa offers wellness packages, couples massages, and a special Men’s Lodge. And you can’t leave without experiencing CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil, a high-flying playground to let you discover your inner acrobat.

Please see page 92 for exclusive Club Med offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 65

FEEL FREE TO EXPLORE THE OLD WORLD IN A NEW WAY. As Europe’s Leading Cruise Line*, we’ll take you places you’ve only dreamed of with plenty of time in port to explore. Unpack once and sail from country to country aboard our award-winning ships. Indulge in extraordinary cuisine. Experience the best entertainment at sea. And relax in amazing accommodations. Take to the sea and find out what it means to Feel Free.

*Awarded by World Travel Awards.Cruising ©2017 Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. Ships’ Registry: Bahamas and USA.

Book now and receive up to $300 Onboard Credit Per Stateroom on Select Sailings Plus Our Free At Sea Amenities.

For more information, please contact your Ensemblemember travel agent.



Budapest Parliament at night

A violin street concerto in Vienna

For MUSIC, ART, ARCHITECTURE and DESIGN, majestic Central Europe is the destination of choice.

Munich subway

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 69


I can hear the classical music playing

inside the car before I climb in. The driver, who has arrived to pick up my husband and me at the Budapest airport, rushes to turn down the volume. He is aflutter with apologies but he needn’t be. Music is a big part of why we are here. Venture to any of the cities that roll off your tongue while planning a vacation – Paris, Barcelona, Rome – and what you’ll find quite easily are tourist-populated museums hiding history behind glass and ropes. Central Europe is different.

The Monuments of BUDAPEST Budapest is a city of contrasts. Buildings are a mix of the stark, boxy structures from its communist past and the flashier commercial streets that are the product of a democracy achieved only eight years ago. Then there are the buildings that offer a fairy tale feel by day and come alive under illumination at night: parliaments and palaces, monuments and memorials. All of it shared by an ever-optimistic people and a longstanding practice of sharing the highs and lows of history through art. “Liberty is very much appreciated by the Hungarians,” explains our Budapest guide as we walk, noting that everyone from Catholic convertors to Russian rulers have left their mark. Wander either side of the Danube – Buda’s rolling green hills, Castle district, Trinity Square and Fisherman’s Bastion to the west, or Pest’s bustling markets, ruin pubs and opulent squares to the east – and you’ll be met with monuments that date from across Hungary’s conquered past; changed as necessary to reflect political movements and new ideals. Take the Liberation Statue for example. The 46-foot-tall woman holding the torch 70 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

of progress high above the city was once flanked by gun-toting Russian soldier statues. They were removed once the Russians were out of power. And then there are the bridges: The Chain Bridge has become symbolic of nationalism as the first to unite the two sides and the lions that guard entry are among the most photographed in the city. The Liberty Bridge, was originally named after Emperor Francis Joseph in 1896, but by the time it was bombed during World War II times had changed dramatically. When the time came to rebuild, the name was changed to reflect the end of Nazi occupation. These artistic facts of history, with little emotion or fanfare attached – no oversized plaques or pointed explanations – dot the landscape as we walk among the constant flow of tourists. The closest we come to artistic sentiment is in Heroes’ Square where the Millennium Monument at its center is flanked by a bisected colonnade. On it stands an impressive selection of statues featuring kings and notables from Hungary’s past. When WWII attacks damaged it, Hungarians took the opportunity to snub the Austro-Hungarian empire that had ruled when it was originally built. Five of the statues representing the once-ruling Habsburg emperors were rebuilt with Hungarian freedom fighters in their place.

Spiral staircase to the bell tower of St. Stephen’s, Budapest

The Chain Bridge, Budapest

Heroes’ Square, Budapest

Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar, Budapest

The Chain Bridge has become symbolic of nationalism as the first to unite the two sides ... Music, Art and Architecture in VIENNA Vienna demands perspective. You need to see it from different angles and at different speeds, sometimes with an informed guide in your ear and sometimes without. We get our first glimpse of Vienna’s famous ring road from a tour bus. The height offers a unique view of the mid-19th century buildings, monuments and parklands. Driving the route in a car wouldn’t have allowed lingering looks at the detailed carvings that run along the tops of buildings and fountains, and walking it would’ve required Herculean neck strength for the craning required to see it all. But to circle the UNESCO World Heritage site city only by bus would also be a mistake. Viennese streets beg to be walked and it is best to do so with music in your ears. Johann Strauss statue, Vienna

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 71


Viennese streets beg to be walked and it is best to do so with music in your ears. This is the music capital of the world. The place the classical musicians ran to, the birthplace of “Viennese Waltz King” Johann Strauss and his waltz that has become the city’s anthem (On the Beautiful Blue Danube). It’s where Mozart lived (the house behind St. Stephens cathedral can still be toured for 10 Euro) and where the Vienna Boys Choir call home. In Vienna, everyday life has a soundtrack. It’s everywhere: wafting through cafés as you sip your Wiener Melange (a speciality coffee with steamed milk); proudly coming from the strings of a violinist at The Opera house; or booming from the telltale chimes of the Anker, an Art Nouveau clock where 12 carved historical figures rotate through the peekaboo window telling the city’s history to the tune of their respective era. Classical music seems fitting with the city’s classic architecture. The combination of contemporary and traditional designs blend seamlessly. Lovers of art will find plenty in the museums and palaces but we decide to save The Albertina – one of the world’s best museums featuring original works from Klimt, Picasso and Cézanne – for another visit and wander the cobblestone streets instead. It’s enough, as a firsttimer, to pause in the courtyards of the Schönbrunn palace and marvel. And, to admire the horse-drawn carriages that trot along the inner pathways of the city with tourists under blankets in the back. I’m happy to spend a few hours watching the people move about; peering up at the statue of Empress Maria Theresa (mother to Marie Antoinette and the only woman to ever rule during the time of the Habsburgs) in the city’s main square while tourists and locals stroll carefree.

72 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Vienna Opera House

The Albertina, Vienna

Horse-drawn carriage, Vienna

Viennese coffee

Town Hall, Munich

BMW Headquarters, Munich

Design in MUNICH Where Budapest and Vienna use art to praise the past, Munich looks forward. There’s a Bavarian joviality here that tempers the stereotypical German nononsense reputation. Laughter is louder and runs later into the night here, and yet in the morning, workers board the U-Bahn none the worse for wear. You can dream, the city seems to say, but there should be some practicality in the end. You only have to look to the famous Maximilianstraße area for proof of that. Here, the high-end stores that line the street are recognizable names to the fashion-savvy: Bvlgari, Jimmy Choo, Prada among them. But the windows – here a dining table where the courses are purses and shoes; there furry monsters wearing shiny leather boots – suggest they don’t take themselves as seriously as their contemporaries might in Paris or New York. The shop windows are more than beacons wooing pedestrians, they are statements of art in their own right, making an afternoon of window shopping as intoxicating as a trip to the museum. It’s enough to have us walking for hours.

Hofbrauhaus am Platz beer hall, Munich

We pause in the lobby of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski that has stood as a beacon on this street since 1858. In the lobby, well-dressed waiters deliver High Tea trays filled with delicately designed pastries perched just so. The service is formal and precise, but the desserts themselves bright and whimsical. Munich has its moments of Gothic stiffness but it’s like an angry mother who can’t hold her temper for long. For a moment you’ll be caught up in the pointed arches and vaulted ceilings, only to step outside, turn a corner and find the frivolity once again. Case in point: The New Town Hall with its dark foreboding exterior is also home to the whimsical glockenspiel; the church of St. Peter’s design tempers its reserved religious intent. At a 16th-century beer hall, we meet a waitress with a gruff demeanour and a generous pour. In the pub across the street, shared tables lead to late night laughs with strangers who become fast friends. And the art isn’t limited to the large squares frequented by foreigners. At the BMW Welt exhibition center, sexy curves and bright colors depict the future of design inside the award-winning building. The cars seem secondary to the artistry behind them. And as we stroll through Olympic Park, the curved sloping architecture of the halls still feel futuristic more than 40 years after they hosted the games. My husband and I run out of time before we can take in any of the art museums that draw thousands each year and it dawns on me that, like Vienna and Budapest, there are no pangs of guilt as a result. We may have missed the art curated for viewing, but seeing the art that was built for living is enough. b To plan your trip to Central Europe, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Olympic Park, Munich

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 73


Some invitations are simply too irresistible to pass up; this one takes the cake. After all, Cunard® cruises have long been the very definition of glamorous ocean travel. Boasting three legendary ships – Queen Elizabeth®, Queen Mary 2®, and Queen Victoria® – Cunard brings travelers to the world’s most exotic destinations with sophistication and grace. This year, Cunard’s Ensemble® Hosted Cruises raise the bar even higher.


Ships’ Registry: Bermuda. © Cunard 2018.

Revel in the rich heritage of luxury ocean travel. Every Cunard

Attend an elegant soiree, exclusively for you. For Ensemble®

Embark on an extraordinary adventure ashore. Sailing May

cruise features champagne toasts, dazzling evening galas, elegant dining, and Cunard Insights® lectures en route to fascinating ports of call. Guests enjoy enriching adventures, rewarding engagements, and the unrivaled White Star Service®, for which Cunard is renowned.

Hosted Cruise guests, each Cunard voyage begins with a private cocktail party on board the ship. As the afternoon sun wanes, privileged guests gather to share elegant cocktails and lively conversation with an exclusive group of fellow travelers.

through October 2018, Ensemble® Hosted Cruises aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria also feature exclusive, one-of-a-kind Ensemble® Experience shore events in: Dubrovnik, Ephesus, St. Petersburg, Belfast, Lisbon, Corner Brook, St. Lucia, Barcelona, Kotor, and Valencia.

For exclusive offers from Cunard, turn to page 97. Ensemble® Hosted Cruises have limited availability, so contact your Ensemble-member travel agent to reserve your space today. 74 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

GO WHERE THE LOCALS KNOW Traveling with Tauck along the scenic Yellow Roads of Europe, you become part of the places along the way. On Classic Italy, visit the Sistine Chapel after hours with a local guide – a Tauck Exclusive! Stay in grand hotels in city centers, a resort in the Umbrian countryside, and a palace. Cruise the waters of Cinque Terre, and ride a train in first class to Venice. Meet art historians, winemakers, and chocolatiers. Wine and dine in trattorias and vineyards. It’s all part of your unforgettable discovery of Rome, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Orvieto, Assisi, Perugia, Pompeii, and more. Trips run April – October 2018. Book today!

For more information please contact your Ensemble-member travel agent





wept away by sparkling wine in an old-meets-new moment in a palace along the Danube River in Budapest, we begin our discovery of the Magyar konyha, “Hungarian kitchen.” Two foodies, Mom and I, clink our glasses to Hungary’s answer to champagne, the extra brut Sauska Tokaj Pezsg�. We had arrived in the land of paprika, sausages, and cream-filled pastries where diners regularly wash back rich carbs with 76 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

a shot of pálinka (brandy) followed by sips of the Hungarian wine, Tokaji Aszú, after dinner. Hungarian cuisine, we discover, is managing to nicely reboot itself to the tastes of the 21st-century palate. In a local hotel which gleams in Zsolnay porcelain, we begin to unravel Hungarian traditions in food. We enjoy a High Tea like no other. The porcelain on offer was conceived by Herend, the local legendary manufacturer so renowned that English

royalty, including Queen Victoria, had their own unique patterns. Over motifs of butterflies and purple florets, we enjoy pumpkin scones and slice into a flódni tart, a popular Hungarian dessert made with poppy seed, walnut and apple cream. Later that night after a walking tour of Budapest’s mansions and villas, we had worked up quite an appetite. The only thing on our minds was the warm morsels of a Hungarian delicacy – pirított libamáj. The



Enjoying High Tea with mom © Ilona Kauremszky

Pirított libamáj © Ilona Kauremszky

ÉS Bisztró

Zsolnay porcelain

seared goose liver dish is the Hungarian version of foie gras. At ÉS Bisztró by the pedestrian intersection, Deák Ferenc tér, we knew what the main course would be. Fabulously sinful, the goose liver is a meltin-my-mouth experience. Its velvety texture quickly disappears to make way for the next delicious bite. ÉS Bisztró is located inside the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest, next to the

Hungarian-style salad © Ilona Kauremszky

hotel’s other dining hot spot, Nobu, so that foodies don’t have to venture far for otherworldly dining experiences.

creamy blue cheese dressing and piled on top, Hungarian-style was, of course, a perfectly grilled chicken breast.

In Budapest, salads might be underrated and hard to come by, but in the historic Lipótváros neighborhood, lunch at the Aria Hotel Budapest’s High Note SkyBar will make you feel like you’ve hit the perfect healthy pitch. We each order a salad: red leaf lettuce garnished in a

Amid city views, we hit our own high note feasting at the High Note SkyBar. Amazingly, Mom and I did not gain an ounce. b To plan your trip to Budapest, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 77


Turns Out,





What better place to indulge in allinclusive luxury than amidst the ancient wonders of the Mediterranean? With Regent Seven Seas Cruises, travelers sail in an atmosphere of intimate luxury, awakening each morning to a new destination and gathering each evening for delectable dishes prepared á la minute by the ship’s talented chefs.

Value-minded travelers enjoy a long list of trip enriching inclusions: all-inclusive cruise fares, free Business Class Air on intercontinental flights and free domestic flights from 29 gateway cities, free airport transfers, unlimited beverages including fine wines and premium spirits, open bars and lounges, in-suite mini-bars replenished daily, prepaid gratuities, unlimited dining in the ship’s restaurants, free unlimited WiFi, and unlimited shore excursions, too.

Free, unlimited shore excursions make it easy to dip into a parfumerie on the Cote d’Azur. Waltz through an airy palazzo. Or linger in olive groves, vineyards, and cypress glades. Without extra costs, you can bicycle to charming villages. Stroll the Palais des Festivals and the chic boutiques of La Croisette. Explore wine cellars, underground caves, and PostImpressionist art. And savor the flavors of lavender ice cream, sips of Absinthe, and Provencal cuisine.

Those booking Concierge Suites and higher receive a free, pre-cruise hotel night. Guests choosing Penthouse Suites enjoy the services of a personal butler as well. Please see page 101 for exclusive Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. 78 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018



From St. Petersburg to Santorini, the cruise line voted World’s Best more than any other in history explores Europe with more overnight stays, more maiden calls and more 7-day voyages than ever before.

Find your passion and follow your dreams ... to the vineyards of Bordeaux and the museums of Florence. Embark on an adventure to the North Cape or play along beaches of the Costa del Sol. Regardless of where your wanderlust takes you – the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Western Europe and Great Britain – the all-inclusive Crystal Experience® showcases the spectacular wonders and intimate secrets of these treasured destinations with exceptional style and luxury. Visit Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt’s famed “Night Watch,” see Kronborg Castle in Copenhagen, inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and marvel at the treasures of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage.

Be spontaneous and join Crystal Serenity® on a 7-day Europe escape from Barcelona to Monte Carlo or a longer 12-day sojourn from Rome to Lisbon during Europe’s cooler season later in the year. Crystal’s 2017 and 2018 Europe Collections promise equally immersive discovery on extended seasons, too. Quite simply, if you can dream it, Crystal can take you there aboard the Crystal Serenity.




in Cherbourg, France; Å i Lofoten and Gravdal, Norway; Dundee, UK; Ciutadella de Menorca, Spain; Monopoli, Gaeta, and Olbia, Sardegna, Italy

in Rome, Monte Carlo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh/Queensferry Landing, Lisbon, Barcelona, St. Tropez, Venice and Haifa

in St. Petersburg and Bordeaux

80 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Book your European cruise now and enjoy the unmatched value of an award-winning Crystal vacation. Please see page 96 for exclusive Crystal Cruises offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.






➥ Medieval castle of Carcasonne Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX

Medieval towers in Tallinn


With many of the original walls and twenty towers still intact, Estonia’s capital is one of Europe’s best preserved walled cities. Head to the viewing platforms at Kohtuotsa and Patkuli to get your bearings and enjoy panoramic views of the red tile roofs and gleaming church spires that make Tallinn such a joy to behold. While most of the walls were constructed between the 14th and 16th centuries, the first was built in 1265 under the orders of the Danish queen consort Margaret Sambiria and bears her name. Fat Margaret, a 16th-century tower, is no relation, but worth visiting as it’s now a maritime museum. Estonia’s walls failed to keep out invaders; it’s been under the rule of several countries and retains German, Swedish, and Russian architectural influences. EDINBURGH SCOTLAND

The Flodden Wall was erected between 1514 and 1560 and protected the Scottish capital from invaders for over two centuries, but little of it remains. From Edinburgh Castle, head to historic Grassmarket. Go through the Vennel passageway and look left for the remains of one of Edinburgh’s towers. Follow the Telfer Wall, a later addition, past George Heriot’s School, founded in 1659 and said to be the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Hogwarts. Past the school is a large section of the remaining wall. Then head off to the National Museum of Scotland and ask the staff to see the secret section of the Flodden Wall inside. CINQUE TERRE ITALY

These five pastel-colored villages on the Italian Riviera are crisscrossed by over 4,000 miles of terraced walls made of sandstone boulders. The ancient walls made it possible to coax vineyards and olive trees out of the unforgiving landscape and add to the region’s romantic atmosphere. The best way to see Cinque Terre is on foot and the most popular route is The Blue Trail. At 7.5 miles long, it connects all five villages and can be completed in six hours though consider taking a few days to enjoy the different villages.

82 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

Medieval city walls in the old town of Rhodes


The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes is an enthralling blend of Gothic, Renaissance, Byzantine, and Ottoman architecture and one of the world’s best preserved medieval cities. It was fortified by the Knights of St John from 1309 until 1532 when the Knights were forced to flee to Malta after the city fell to the Ottomans. There are eleven entrance gates to the old city; the most important are the St. Paul’s, Freedom, and Marine Gates. The city was divided into high and low towns. High town streets are lined with inns built for the Knights of England, Italy, France, Germany Aragon, Auvergne, and Provence. The low town was filled with churches until 1523 when most were converted to mosques. MDINA MALTA

This ancient Maltese city was fortified over 6,000 years ago by the Phoenicians before falling under the domination of the Roman Empire. As an island, it was heavily contested and the city walls were rebuilt many times – by the Byzantines, the Arabs and the Sicilians. The remaining walls were built by the Order of St. John between the 16th and 18th centuries. As Malta’s highest point, Mdina’s walls are the perfect place to enjoy sunset over the island. ÈZE FRANCE

Medieval Èze is located 1,400 feet above sea level on the French Riviera, strategically located between Nice and Monaco. The village has been inhabited since 2000 BC though the city walls weren’t built until the late 1300’s. Its cobblestoned alleys are filled with shops and cafes beloved by day trippers so to enjoy Èze’s serenity, consider staying overnight. For the best view of the coastline, head to the Jardin Exotique d’Èze cactus garden. DUBROVNIK CROATIA

The city was first fortified in the 9th century and fifteen forts were added five centuries later but threat of Turkish attack impelled the city to strengthen its defenses in the 15th century leaving us with

Cinque Terre

Hilltop village of Èze

the magnificent walled city we see today. The best time to walk the city walls is just before dusk when crowds have subsided and the sun sets over the turquoise water of the Adriatic. CARCASSONNE FRANCE

Inhabited since the Neolithic period, this hilltop city was of strategic importance to the Romans as it linked trade routes between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Carcassonne is best known for its fortress, the Cité, which has two outer stone walls and fifty-three towers. While most of the walls was built in medieval times, a red brick section with terra-cotta roof tiles dates back to the Roman era. The Tower of Justice was used for Catholic Inquisitions in the 13th century. All of these walled cities can be visited by cruise ships which means that you can travel back in time in comfort and elegance. As you wander through winding cobblestone streets, reflect on days gone by when these very streets were filled with velvet-clad musketeers and medieval maidens. b To plan your trip to these walled cities, contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Edinburgh castle

Mdina entrance gate


Game of Thrones STAGE SETS

The inspiration for King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros was ... Staten Island. Author George R. R. Martin grew up in New Jersey and at night, the glittering lights of Staten Island inspired the magical world that became King’s Landing. Mdina was the first walled city to star as King’s Landing. In Season One, Catelyn Stark and her servant rode through the Mdina gate to investigate her son’s attack. Catelyn and her husband, Ned also said farewell at the gate. The duel between Ned and Jamie Lannister that resulted in Ned’s capture took place in Mesquita Square. During the confrontation, you can see a trellised balcony that starred as Littlefinger’s brothel. Mdina was succeeded by Dubrovnik best know for the Jesuit Staircase where Cersei Lannister begins her naked “Walk of Shame.”(Authorities denied permission for the walk to start at Dubrovnik Cathedral.) The majestic City Walls were featured often, most notably when Tyrion, Bronn, and Podrick assess the damage from the Battle of Blackwater Bay. The role of Littlefinger’s brothel was assumed by the Ethnographic Museum. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 XX


DREAM DESTINATION Aboard Crystal Serenity®, journeys are more than a collection of incredible destinations. They are experiences that inspire awe and appreciation as well as countless tales of wonder and adventure. Complement the day’s explorations along the St. Tropez coast with an evening of acclaimed cuisine in one of the eight delectable onboard dining venues. Take in the cosmopolitan vibe of Ibiza and explore the Catalan treasures of Barcelona. Revel in iconic destinations and return to the welcoming luxury and state-of-the-art amenities of your Crystal home at sea. With hundreds of ports in dozens of countries across seven continents, every great journey begins and ends with Crystal.






May 28


Tapas & Truffles

Marseille to London


Jul 29


Vineyards & Vistas

London to Monte Carlo


Aug 12


Coastal Classics & Balearic Isles

Monte Carlo to Barcelona


Sep 23


Riviera Reverie

Rome to Marseille



TERMS & CONDITIONS: All fares and savings are per person, in U.S. dollars based on double occupancy in a Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah (B1). Cruise Fares and Your Exclusive Fares are cruise only and do not include taxes, fees, and port charges. Your Crystal Savings are subject to availability at time of booking. All offers and promotions are capacity-controlled, subject to availability and may be withdrawn or changed at any time. ©2017 Crystal Cruises, LLC. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. AD17000-67_O


You’ve never been one to follow the herd. You’ve always forged your own path, your own way, with your own distinct perspective of looking at the world. Avalon Waterways presents a river cruise experience with your unique style in mind – offering expansive views and wider perspectives. It’s a cruise where your vision leads the way, with nothing to follow but your heart.



The Open-Air Balcony — designed with your views in mind

Tantalizing flavors to suit your distinct taste

Inspired local inclusions on board and on shore

Avalon redefined the window of opportunity with river cruising’s only Open-Air Balcony. Panorama SuitesSM on the Suite Ships® of Avalon feature wall-towall and floor-to-ceiling windows that open wider than any other in the industry, blurring the line between outside and in, forming a comfortable and spacious seating area for six, and creating an open invitation to discover and dream.

Avalon is committed to delivering local flavor – right down to the table. Using fresh and local ingredients, chefs introduce you to regional delights as well as comfort you with Western favorites in a variety of tasteful settings. From breezy al fresco lunches at the Sky Bistro to elegant four-course dinners in the glass-walled dining room, you can savor fresh fare and the perspectives you crave day and night.

Unique perspectives deserve unique experiences – special inclusions that present themselves at every turn. Like regional wine and beer with meals, artisan demonstrations, and onshore cultural excursions. In addition to little luxuries like complimentary Wi-Fi, around-theclock cappuccinos, and bicycles for touring quaint villages, Avalon immerses you in culture and cuisine with included Local FavoritesSM.


Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, you’ve never seen Europe like this. Please see page 95 for exclusive Avalon Waterways offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 85


Experience the

LUXURY of MORE with AmaWaterways AmaWaterways provides all-encompassing river cruise vacations on the most breathtaking waterways of Europe, Africa and Asia. With AmaWaterways you will experience the luxury of more — more ways to discover, more ways to indulge and more onboard amenities.


Please see page 95 for exclusive AmaWaterways offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent.


maWaterways has a fleet of custom-designed ships boasting impeccable service and amenities. Enjoy breathtaking views from your balcony stateroom, most equipped with both a French and full balcony.

cooking classes and specialty tastings. These unique and active tours are included in the cruise fare so that you have more choices when it comes to how you prefer to explore. With AmaWaterways, the choice is yours.

As a member of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, expert chefs craft menus that feature exquisite and locally-inspired cuisine. Each meal is specially paired with premium local reds and whites from Europe’s renowned wine regions. You will also have the chance to dine at The Chef’s Table, an intimate specialty restaurant serving a special tasting menu – at no extra cost!

After a day of exploration, relax with a massage, enjoy a variety of wellness programs, or watch castles go by while sipping a cocktail and taking a dip in the sun deck pool with a swim-up bar. Stay in touch with your friends and family back home with free internet access and Wi-Fi when you’re aboard.

Customize your river cruise with included shore excursions fitting your own personal preferences. You can choose a guided city tour, active hiking and bike tours, or even culinary tours such as 86 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

An AmaWaterways river cruise is about more than the destination – it’s the journey. Take one of these river cruises yourself, and see the world in luxury and comfort.



These days, opportunities for sightseeing and tourism abound in even the most exotic locations of the world. But what if you want more? What if you want to truly understand a culture ... to see what the locals see when there are no tourists around? For more enriching, culturally immersive experiences than typical trips allow, savvy travelers know to ask for


Insight Vacations provides premium escorted journeys into the most remarkable destinations on the planet. Their collection of intimate, stylish, and seamless itineraries enables curious travelers to connect with the local people, culture, and flavors in ways they never imagined possible.


With Insight Vacations, small groups of like-minded people travel in the comfort of luxury coaches with extra legroom and awaken refreshed each morning in elegant, thoughtfully chosen hotels located in the center of the action. Daily activities, Insight Experiences, and Authentic Dining encounters make each new day an adventure, with all the details taken care of by caring Travel Directors.


It’s no surprise that Insight Vacations was voted “Best Tour Operator for Foodies” in the TravelAge West WAVE awards. Through the company’s Authentic Dining experiences, travelers are treated to lively tastings, farm-to-table meals hosted by local growers and chefs, and much more. In 2018, a new partnership with VizEat adds to the mix with tantalizing opportunities to dine on regional cuisine in the homes of locals in Budapest, Salzburg, and Rome.

For more than 40 years, travelers have raved about the incredible value packed into each of Insight Vacations’ carefully crafted journeys. To find out what all the fuss is about, see page 93 for exclusive Insight Vacations offers. Then contact your Ensemble® member agent to learn more. Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 87


Kings & Queens. Knights & Wizards. Rock Stars & Bards. CIE Tours has long been lauded for its fully inclusive coach tours through Ireland, Scotland, and Britain. With more than 85 years of experience — and fun-loving Tour Directors who consistently garner rave reviews — there’s simply no better way to see these cherished lands. Behind the scenes, CIE Tours specialists weave together the most impressive routes, popular sites, hidden gems, local dining, and lovely hotels to create journeys that show the true character of each region. Yet the Tour Directors get all the glory! They’re the ones, after all, who captivate us with dramatic stories, little-known facts, keen insights, mischievous pranks, and local lore.

Ireland In Ireland, CIE Tours are full of Guinness, Irish Whiskey, Celtic lore, and sheepdog antics. Travelers sip Irish coffee in Moriarty’s Pub, cruise the River Shannon, see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, film locations from the Game of Thrones, and more.

Britain Britain offers a thrill a minute from the top of the London Eye to the cafés of Liverpool and the Welsh countryside. Highlights include the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Stonehenge, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Harry Potter’s studio, and more.

Scotland Scotland is a dream come true with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, St. Andrew’s, Loch Lomond, the castle from Downton Abbey, The Da Vinci Code’s Rosslyn Chapel, wee drams, woolen mills, bagpipes, kilts, and highland dancing. Without a care in the world, travelers on CIE Tours can relax and surrender to the joys of faraway lands. Prices include the services of directors, drivers and guides, luxury coach transportation, most meals, admission fees, free Wi-Fi, luggage, local taxes, and service charges. Please see page 91 for exclusive CIE Tours offers, and contact your Ensemble-member travel agent. 88 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Our Pacific Northwest: Oregon’s Coast, Vineyards + Columbia River • 11 days touring Oregon & Washington and cruise aboard American Empress

A Private Week in Nicaragua • 8 days on a private tour of Nicaragua

• Round-trip Managua • Travel now through December, 2019

• Portland to Spokane

• From $3,099 per person, land only

• May 11, June 8, August 3 & 21, September 28, 2018 • From $5,599 per person, Outside Stateroom

With never more than 16 guests, the smallest groups in North America, this exclusive journey combines the charms of Portland, the award-winning vineyards of the Willamette Valley, the spectacular Pacific Coast and the fresh farm-to-table fare of the Northwest. Then board the intimate American Empress for a oneweek luxury cruise on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Delight in comprehensive sightseeing and a flexible shore excursion program.





Complimentary pre-tour night at a deluxe city-center hotel in Portland + Airport transfers + Breakfast + Pay in full at time of booking for $300 per person savings. Book by February 28, 2018.

This intimate Nicaragua vacation reveals the centuries-old architectural landmarks and diverse natural wonders of this captivating land. With your own personal car, driver and guide, the Spanish Colonial heritage of Leon and Granada will come to life. This unique itinerary also explores Nicaragua’s rich natural beauty, from the birds and wildlife of a Pacific mangrove forest to the unique geology of the Masaya Volcano and Lake Nicaragua.





Complimentary pre-tour night at a stylish boutique hotel in Managua + Airport transfers + Breakfast + Pay in full at time of booking for $300 per person savings. Book by February 28, 2018.

Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

• 4 nights at Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort

• 4 nights at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

• Cancun, Mexico

• Cancun, Mexico

• April 1 – 30, 2018

• February 15 – March 31, 2018

• From $956 per person, Junior Suite Garden View Room

• From $1,096 per person, Premium Deluxe Garden View Room

Set along the beautiful and exclusive Playa Mujeres community complete with famous white sandy beaches and stunning ocean views is Secrets Playa Mujeres. This AAA Four Diamond awardwinning, adults-only, all-suite resort is a mere 35 minutes from the Cancun International Airport. Secrets Playa Mujeres offers an Unlimited-Luxury® escape in a sublime tropical location with nine restaurant options, seven bars and two flora & fauna areas.





Unlimited-Luxury® Adults-Only + Non-stop transfers + $200 in resort coupons per room. Book by February 28, 2018.

Ideally located close to the excitement of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, this AAA Four Diamond resort is an enriching wonderland of glistening pools and impressive ocean views with unique octagonalshaped rooms and suites. Most ground floor suites offer private plunge pools. This family-friendly resort offers a heated kids pool and a Mayan-themed Explorer’s Club that features a planetarium and Chichen Itza climbing wall.





Unlimited-Luxury® + Non-stop transfers + $200 in resort coupons per room. Book by February 28, 2018.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 89

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Sunscape Cove Montego Bay

Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta

• 4 nights at Sunscape Cove Montego Bay

• 4 nights at Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta

• Montego Bay, Jamaica

• Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

• April 5 – May 25, 2018 • From $1,024 per person, Sun Club Garden View Room

• April 5 – May 25, 2018

Situated on a private peninsula, this charming two-story beachfront resort offers complete access to every amenity at Sunscape Splash Montego Bay, located next door. At the hotel, guests will delight in a special check-in and check-out with concierge service, complimentary room service, an upgraded mini-bar refreshed daily, a Sun Club lounge and two restaurants and bars. Plus, there’s milk, cookies and other special treats for the kids.

Located on the beautiful Banderas Bay with spectacular views of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta is an all-suite, AAA Four Diamond resort for couples and families alike. This oceanfront resort treats couples and families to a gorgeous beach, elegant pools, and exterior whirlpools on every terrace. Go far beyond the all-inclusive experience with Unlimited-Luxury®, where nearly everything is included.


• From $1,132 per person, Junior Suite Tropical View Room








Unlimited-Fun + Non-stop transfers + $200 in resort coupons per room. Book by February 28, 2018.

Unlimited-Luxury + Non-stop transfers + $200 in resort coupons per room + one round of golf per person per day. Book by February 28, 2018.

Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa

Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana

• 4 nights at Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa

• 4 nights at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana

• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

• April 5 – May 25, 2018

• April 5 – May 25, 2018

• From $1,472 per person, Junior Suite Tropical View Room

• From $1,456 per person, Junior Suite Tropical View Room

Escape to an exciting all-adult destination in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, where captivating beauty and chic style combine with non-stop adventure and Unlimited-Luxury®. Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa features 750 ultra-contemporary suites with private terraces, the epitome of luxury and excitement. Plus, enjoy free flow access to ten restaurants and bars with Exchange Privileges, right next door at Now Onyx Punta Cana.

Located amidst palm trees, lush vegetation and manicured gardens on an expansive sugar-white beach, this colorful Caribbean resort offers adults a seaside escape to romance, relaxation and Unlimited-Luxury®. Indulge in an expansive array of international cuisine at one of five gourmet restaurants. Or pamper yourself at the magnificent Secrets Spa by Pevonia, featuring a combination of the latest hydrotherapy and indigenous treatments.






Unlimited-Luxury® Adults-Only + Non-stop transfers + $200 in resort coupons per room. Book by February 28, 2018.

90 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018






Unlimited-Luxury Adults-Only + Non-stop transfers + $200 in resort coupons per room. Book by February 28, 2018. ®

For reservations, call us today.

Best of Ireland South

Scenic Britain

• 6 days touring Ireland

• 11 days touring Britain

• Dublin to Shannon

• London to Edinburgh

• Select departures March – October, 2018

• Select departures April – October, 2018

• From $1,015 per person, land only

• From $2,540 per person, land only

This itinerary is a check list of all of the must-sees of southern Ireland! Spend extra time in Dublin at the start and end of your tour. Enjoy walking tours of Dublin’s Trinity College and medieval Galway city. Explore Killarney National Park by jaunting car. Cruise Dingle Bay, view the mighty Cliffs of Moher and dine at the 15thcentury Bunratty Castle’s Medieval Banquet. Seven and eight day tours are also available.

Explore the west of England with tastes of Wales and Scotland. Start in Windsor, near London and travel to Devon and Cornwall. Head to Cardiff Castle for a Welsh banquet and tour Shrewsbury with a town crier. Then you are off to explore Chester and the Lake District. End with a 3-night stay in Edinburgh, where you’ll get to spend a full day in St. Andrews.










Save $500 per couple. Book by February 28, 2018.

Save $300 per couple. Book by February 28, 2018.

Andaz Maui

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

• 5 nights at Andaz Maui

• 5 nights at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

• Maui, Hawaii

• Kauai, Hawaii

• Travel January 4 to December 15, 2018

• Travel January 4 to December 15, 2018

• From $1,839 per person, Partial Ocean View Room

• From $1,459 per person, Partial Ocean View Room

Situated on Mokapu beach, Andaz Maui is an experience unlike any other. All rooms at this 4.5 star resort include a balcony or patio, and three cascading pools include a kid’s pool and adults-only pool. Dine at your choice of four incredible restaurants. Pamper yourself with a massage or facial at the eco-friendly spa. Or go an incredible snorkeling adventure.





Daily full breakfast for two. Book by May 30, 2018.

Located on 50 oceanfront acres overlooking the majestic Keoneloa Bay in sunny Poipu is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. The recently renovated guestrooms at this luxury resort are reminiscent of Old Hawaii, and all include private lanais. Relax at ANARA spa, offering massages, body treatments and facials. Tee off at the PGA championship golf course, and enjoy the water playground that includes river pools, a salt water lagoon and waterslide.





Air credit + Every 5th night free + Daily full breakfast for two. Book by May 30, 2018.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 91

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Sandpiper Bay Florida

Punta Cana

• 3 nights at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Florida

• 3 nights at Club Med Punta Cana

• Port St. Lucie, Florida

• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

• Travel through October 31, 2018

• Travel through October 31, 2018

• From $119 per person, Club Room

• From $129 per person, Club Room

Club Med Sandpiper Bay, in Port St. Lucie, Florida has something for everyone! This all-inclusive resort in the heart of sunny Florida promises an active family vacation packed full of sports and world-class instruction on demand. Whether its tennis, golf, beach volleyball, or fitness, this is a place for families who want to take their sporting game to the next level. Pamper yourself at the spa, swim at one of four swimming pools, visit the “Kidz Village” and dine on gourmet cuisine in an all-inclusive haven.

It’s true what they say: Punta Cana really is the ultimate family resort and exclusive couples retreat. Discover your inner acrobat at Club Med CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil – a circus-inspired playground. Be sure to check out the kids clubs where you’ll find non-stop excitement for children of all ages. From swinging on a trapeze and swinging a golf club, to enjoying couple’s fine dining and the adults-only Zen Oasis, there’s something for every getaway-lover.









Receive $50 resort credit per booking. Book by February 28, 2018.

Receive $50 resort credit per booking. Book by February 28, 2018.

Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun

Hard Rock Hotel Cancun

• 4 nights at Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun

• 4 nights at Hard Rock Hotel Cancun

• Cancun, Mexico

• Travel now through June 30, 2018

• Cancun, Mexico

• Travel now through August 31, 2018

• Ask us for current rates

• Ask us for current rates

Framed by warm crystal waters on the Riviera Maya coastline, this AAA Four Diamond resort combines style and sophistication – offering adults infinite possibilities and Unlimited-Luxury®. Choose from seven gourmet restaurants and a buffet venue. Or sneak away for a romantic meal in your suite or on the beach. Play tennis, try reef snorkeling, or dance beneath the warm glow of the moon.






Book your flight and hotel vacation package to receive a guaranteed room upgrade upon arrival. Book by February 28, 2018. Offer subject to change without notice, other restrictions may apply. For complete conditions please visit DeltaVacationsSecretSilversandsandHardRockHotelCancunBI.pdf

92 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018

At this unique Cancun beach resort, enjoy the ultimate beachfront celebrity playground that’s transformed the typical all-inclusive vacation into a rock star paradise. Hard Rock Resort Cancun knows no limits and took the awesome of Rock & Roll and made it a vacation that has to be experienced to be believed.





Book your flight and hotel vacation package to receive a room upgrade upon arrival (based on availability) + Late check-out (based on availability) + Welcome bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries. Book by February 28, 2018. Offer subject to change without notice, other restrictions may apply. For complete conditions please visit DeltaVacationsSecretSilversandsandHardRockHotelCancunBI.pdf

For reservations, call us today.

Flavors of Europe

Best of Germany

• 10 days exploring France, Switzerland & Italy

• 11 days exploring Germany

• Rome to Paris

• Select departures April – October, 2018

• Berlin to Frankfurt

• Select departures May – October, 2018

• From $2,650 per person/twin-share, land only

• From $3,150 per person/twin-share, land only

Experience the essence of Europe as you travel though bustling Rome and Paris, stopping off in Renaissance Florence, the colorful ocean-side villages of the Cinque Terre and the glittering snowcapped peaks of Switzerland. Explore local life as you enjoy small-group dining in Lucerne and cross paths with locals who are passionate about sharing Europe’s rich heritage, culture and traditions with you.





Complimentary prepaid gratuities. Book now.

Embark on a journey of cosmopolitan cities, picture-book towns and breathtaking natural scenery, as you explore iconic highlights of Bavaria, cruise beneath the fairy-tale castles of the Rhine and watch skilled clockmakers in action in the Black Forest. Visit Berlin, Dresden, Rothenburg, Nuremberg, Munich, the Bavarian Alps, Lindau, Heidelberg, Mainz and Frankfurt.





Complimentary prepaid gratuities. Book now.

Coastal Passage Getaway Circle

First Passage to the West at Leisure

• 12 days exploring the Canadian Rockies, including 5 days onboard Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service • Seattle to Vancouver

• 8 days exploring the Canadian Rockies, including 2 days onboard Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service

• Select departures May 18 - September 21, 2018

• Vancouver to Calgary • Select departures April 15 - October 11, 2018

• From $8,169* per person, GoldLeaf Service

• From $4,385* per person, GoldLeaf Service

Experience everything Canada’s West has to offer with five awe-inspiring days onboard Rocky Mountaineer. As a gateway to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Coastal Passage route hugs the shoreline between the cosmopolitan cities of Seattle and Vancouver, before traveling east into the mountains. Highlights include Vancouver Lookout, North Shore Tour with Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, Icefields Parkway Tour, Yoho National Park, and the Banff Gondola.

Retrace the steps of 19th-century explorers on Rocky Mountaineer’s most popular route, First Passage to the West. Your journey of luxury and romance will take you to Canada’s most-talked-about destinations, Lake Louise and Banff. Highlights include two days onboard Rocky Mountaineer, an Icefields Parkway Tour, Yoho National Park, Banff Gondola, Panoramic Helicopter Flightseeing and the Calgary Tower.





Receive one free dinner at your hotel. Book by March 19, 2018.





Receive one free dinner at your hotel. Book by March 19, 2018. *Based on select departures between May 3-24, 2018

*Based on select departures between May 25 - September 21, 2018

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 93

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Luxury Fiji Honeymoon

Tokoriki & Matangi Islands Escape

• 6 days at Namale Resort & Spa

• 5 nights at Tokoriki Island Resort, Beachfront Bure and 5 nights at Matangi Private Island Resort, Ocean View Bure

• Vanua Levu, Fiji • Now – March 31, 2018 • From $3,499 per person, Ocean Tropical Bure

• Tokoriki, Fiji and Matangi, Fiji • Now – March 31, 2018 • From $3,999 per person

The all-inclusive, luxury boutique Namale Resort & Spa features five-star accommodations with authentic Fijian design set amidst a breathtaking tropical setting that abounds with rainforests, waterfalls, and a stunning coastline. Located on Fiji’s island of Vanua Levu, these gorgeous natural surroundings and an array of all-inclusive activities – including a private 9-hole golf course – offer guests a unique combination of adventure and relaxation.




Bliss awaits at the Takoriki Island resort, a romantic, relaxing and refined adults-only island escape. A thatch-roofed bure nestled under a fringed coconut palm beside a coral-filled sea, and the warm welcome of the Fijian people will transport guests to a simpler time. At Matangi Private Island resort, uncover the tranquility of an intimate hideaway, boasting tropical rainforest, white sand beaches, and volcanic rock rising from clear waters. Snorkel and dive beautiful coral reefs or simply view the spectacular South Seas sunsets.






Two footbliss treatments + Champagne in bure upon arrival + Name carved on native palm wood + Early check-in and late check-out when available. Book by March 23, 2018.

Matangi Pure Fiji gift pack + Complimentary upgrade upon check-in + Late check-out when available. Book by March 19, 2018.

Royal Hideaway Playacar

The St. Regis Princeville Resort

• 4 nights at Royal Hideaway Playacar

• 4 nights at The St. Regis Princeville Resort

• Riviera Maya, Mexico

• Kauai, Hawaii

• Travel now through December 24, 2018

• January 18 – December 16, 2018

• From $898 per person, Luxury Room

• From $2,002 per person, Premium Oceanview Room

Royal Hideaway Playacar is located on the white sands of an idyllic beach on the Riviera Maya, and offers an exclusive all-inclusive adults-only experience. Enjoy magnificent rooms surrounded by luxury and gardens where the assistance of a private concierge and endless amenities are never far away. The resort features six restaurants, six pools, spa and fitness center. And guests have many other options available, including adventure and water activities.

Perched majestically atop Kauai’s lush emerald cliffs, The St. Regis Princeville Resort holds court over crystal waters, silver sands and golden sunsets – a palatial landmark of exquisite marble and glass set against the stunning Namolokama Mountains. Amid a vibrant splash of tropical colors, find inspiration for body and soul in Hawaiian culture, sea and rainforest adventures, an exclusive spa, worldclass golf courses and acclaimed fine dining, where St. Regis butlers attend graciously.





Save up to $735 per couple! Book by February 28, 2018.

94 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018





Daily full breakfast for two at Makana Terrace and a $100 dining credit per room, per stay. Book now.

For reservations, call us today.

Romantic Danube

Taste of Bordeaux

• 7 nights cruising the Danube River aboard AmaCerto, AmaViola, AmaSerena or AmaLea

• 7 nights cruising France aboard AmaDolce • Roundtrip Bordeaux • March November, 2018

• Vilshofen to Budapest • March November, 2018

• From $2,349 per person, River View Room

• From $1,749 per person, River View Room

Framed by rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, and medieval castles, the Danube River has captivated musicians, artists and poets throughout the centuries. Travel to legendary destinations on a 7-night cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest. Explore a 2,000-yearold city, savor Wachau Valley wines, and experience the timeless beauty and fascinating history of Vienna and Budapest.





$300 onboard credit per stateroom on select sailings. Book by February 28, 2018.

Start from Bordeaux, one of the world’s undisputed best wine regions. Iconic châteaux, timeless vineyards and delicious wine tastings are plentiful as you visit Cadillac, Pauillac, Saint-Émilion and Libourne. Be treated to an exclusive experience in Bourg, featuring live French music, dancing, wine and hors d’oeuvres. This trip is a bucket list item for anyone interested in the best of French culture, lifestyle, wine and food.





$300 onboard credit per stateroom on select sailings. Book by February 28, 2018.



The Blue Danube Discovery

Romantic Rhine - Northbound

• 13 days cruising the Danube River aboard Avalon Expression®

• 8 days cruising the Rhine River aboard Avalon Tranquility II®

• Budapest to Prague

• Zurich to Amsterdam

• May 2 - 15, 2018

• May 12 - 20, 2018

• From $4,258 per person, Deluxe Stateroom

• From $3,249 per person, Deluxe Stateroom

The delightful Danube sets the stage for this incredible journey as you sail through beautiful scenery and towns. Begin with two overnights and sightseeing in Budapest. Board your vessel and sail westward, with guided sightseeing in magical Vienna, Passau, and medieval Regensburg. Also take a guided walk in the charming town of Dürnstein and see the baroque Stiftskirche, and visit the awe-inspiring Benedictine Alley in Melk. End in Prague with plenty of free time to discover.

One of Europe’s most legendary rivers awaits on this mesmerizing journey along the Rhine. Enjoy guided sightseeing in Strasbourg, Koblenz, and Cologne, as well as an excursion to the Black Forest and to Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university town. Visit the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, see the legendary Lorelei rock, and enjoy a canal cruise in splendid Amsterdam. Be sure to pack your camera so you can capture the romance and splendor of this magical journey.





Complimentary prepaid gratuities. Book now.





Complimentary prepaid gratuities. Book now.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 95

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Best of the Western Mediterranean

Alaska Tracy Arm Fjord

• 11 nights cruising the Mediterranean aboard Celebrity Reflection®

• 7 nights cruising Alaska aboard Celebrity Solstice®

• Roundtrip Rome

• Roundtrip Seattle

• May 7, July 30 & September 10, 2018

• May 18, June 15, July 13, August 10 & 31, 2018

• From $2,399 per person, Concierge Stateroom

• From $2,249 per person, Concierge Stateroom

When you explore Europe on a Celebrity cruise, your stunning ship is every bit as impressive as the breathtaking places you’ll visit. Admire the incredible architecture that surrounds you. Discover the collection of original artwork at every turn. And savor the mouthwatering flavors in every restaurant. The personal and indulgent service means you never have to lift a finger on your vacation. Sail to ports including Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Malaga, Gibraltar, Cartagena and Ibiza.





$100 per stateroom shore excursion credit for Concierge and AquaClass® staterooms. Book by December 31, 2018.

Take the adventure you’ve always dreamed of aboard Celebrity Solstice®. Witness dramatic displays of ice-shelves breaking off into icebergs. Marvel at moose and bear on the land, bald eagles soaring above, and humpback whales peacefully rolling with the sea. Sail from Seattle and visit Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjords, Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage and Victoria.





$100 per stateroom shore excursion credit for Concierge and AquaClass® staterooms. Book by December 31, 2018. Taxes, fees and port expenses of $221.59 per person is additional and subject to change.

Taxes, fees and port expenses of $134.50 per person is additional and subject to change.

Vineyards & Vistas

Riviera Reverie

• 14 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Crystal Serenity®

• 7 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Crystal Serenity®

• London to Monte Carlo

• Rome to Marseille

• July 29 – August 12, 2018

• September 23 – 30, 2018

• From $7,170 per person, Deluxe Stateroom with verandah

• From $3,475 per person, Deluxe Stateroom with verandah

Appealing to the sense of adventure of discerning guests, Crystal offers a collection of worldwide voyages boasting an impressive collection of destinations that invite all travelers to explore the world and all its wonders. Ports of call, both popular and undiscovered, create enriching itineraries that both surprise and delight all world travelers. Visit London, Guernsey/St. Peter Port, Le Verdon/Bordeaux, Oporto/Leixoes, Lisbon, Barcelona, Cassis and Monte Carlo.

History is everywhere you turn in the Mediterranean, from narrow, cobblestoned streets to the rugged mountain cliffs just off the decks of your ship. Visit castles, museums and galleries. And explore ancient cities and glorious gardens. Sail from Rome/Civitavecchia to ports of call including Elba/Portoferraio, Florence/Livorno, La Spezia, Monte Carlo, St-Tropez and Marseille.





$500 per stateroom onboard credit. Book now.

96 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018





$250 per stateroom onboard credit. Book now.

For reservations, call us today.

Iceland & the Fjords

Venice, Rome & Barcelona

• 14 nights cruising Iceland and Norway aboard Queen Elizabeth®

• 14 nights cruising the Mediterranean aboard Queen Victoria®

• Roundtrip Rotterdam • August 12 – 26, 2018

• September 29 – October 13, 2018

• From $4,029* per person, Balcony Stateroom

• From $3,699* per person, Balcony Stateroom

Cruise through the majestic fjords, which are the best way to appreciate the Norwegian coast’s silent beauty, legends, waterfalls and glaciers. This 14-night cruise extends via Rotterdam, into Norway’s breathtaking fjords, visiting Bergen and Olden. Calls to Akureyi, Isafjordur and Reykjavik offer a glimpse of Iceland’s geysers and hot springs.

These 14 nights of discovery from ancient Rome lead to vibrant Barcelona, rugged Corsica and chic Villefranche. Pisa or Florence then tempt you with their treasures before a return to the Eternal City. Corfu, Split and Portoroz then lead to an overnight Venice finale. Back onboard Queen Victoria, enjoy fine dining, afternoon tea, entertainment and enrichment programs.



• Rome to Venice







Ensemble Hosted Cruise with Ensemble Experience shore event in Belfast. Book now.

Ensemble Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Barcelona. Book now.

*Taxes, Fees, and Port Expenses of up to $200 per person are additional and subject to change. Ships’ Registry: Bermuda. © Cunard 2018. 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.

*Taxes, Fees, and Port Expenses of up to $105 per person are additional and subject to change. Ships’ Registry: Bermuda. © Cunard 2018. 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.

Eastern Expedition

Opulent Orient

• 31 days cruising Asia aboard Nautica

• 18 days cruising Asia aboard Nautica

• Singapore to Shanghai

• Shanghai to Singapore

• February 19 – March 22, 2019

• March 22 – April 9, 2019

• From $8,999 per person, Inside Stateroom

• From $5,799 per person, Inside Stateroom

With overnight stays in seven ports, you’ll be able to get to know and enjoy some of the most exhilarating cities in Asia by day and by night. Sail from Singapore to Ko Samui, Bangkok, Sihanoukville, Ho Chi Minh City, Chan May, Ha Long Bay, Sanya, Hong Kong, Keelung, Naha, Kobe, Hiroshima, Busan, Incheon, Dalian, Beijing and Shanghai.

On this journey through the Orient, non-stop wonders are yours to explore, such as the vibrant street scene in Shanghai, the Buddha museum in Kaohsiung or the many culinary delights of Saigon. Visit ports of call including Naha, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Chan May, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Ko Samui. Back on board the luxurious Nautica, relax and savor exquisite cuisine inspired by Master Chef Jacques Pépin.







Ensemble® Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Hong Kong. Book now.






Receive complimentary prepaid gratuities. Book now.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 97

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Jewels of the Baltic – Roundtrip Copenhagen

Jewels of the Baltic – Roundtrip Rotterdam

• 10 days cruising Northern Europe aboard ms Zuiderdam

• 14 days cruising Northern Europe aboard ms Rotterdam

• Roundtrip Copenhagen

• Roundtrip Rotterdam

• June 3 – 13, 2018

• June 16 – 30, 2018

• From $2,089 per person, Ocean View Stateroom

• From $2,429 per person, Ocean View Stateroom

Your spacious, mid-sized ship is the perfect size for navigating the waters of the Kiel Canal, which provides access to Berlin and Hamburg. Observe artists using traditional methods to create glassware, quilts and ceramics at open studios in Tallinn. Pedal a bike past brightly colored 19th-century houses in Helsinki. Other ports of call include Copenhagen and Stockholm, with an overnight in St. Petersburg.

Fairy tales, palaces and Vikings are all part of the tapestry here. The colorful Tivoli Gardens and Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid welcome you to magical Copenhagen. Observe artists using traditional methods to create glassware, quilts and ceramics at open studios in Tallinn. Other ports of call include Rotterdam, Berlin, Helsinki, Stockholm and Arhus, with an overnight in St. Petersburg.









Up to $50 onboard spending money per stateroom. Book now.

Up to $50 onboard spending money per stateroom + Pinnacle Grill lunch for two. Book now.

Voyage of the Midnight Sun

Greek Odyssey

• 14 days cruising Norway aboard ms Koningsdam

• 12 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard ms Oosterdam

• Roundtrip Amsterdam

• Rome to Venice

• June 10 – 24, 2018 • From $3,199 per person, Ocean View Stateroom

• June 29 – July 11, 2018

Incredible landscapes and scenery await you in Europe’s northern regions. Walk along the Bryggen Wharf in Bergen, where wooden Hanseatic League warehouses still stand. Ride the Flåm Railway past quicksilver waterfalls and lofty fjord views, then descend to examine Sognefjord’s beauty from the sea. Stavanger’s bright 18thand 19th-century houses are charming, but the main attraction is Pulpit Rock, soaring high above Lysefjord.

Stroll the memorable streets of Pompeii from Naples. And from Crete, wander the maze-like ruins of Knossos, which may have been the inspiration for the labyrinth of Minotaur fame. In Santorini, visit Akrotiri to see its excavated buildings, city squares and shops, and view some of the most famous Greek frescoes. Then enjoy tea at a stunning palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Sail from Rome to Venice, stopping at Naples, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, Athens, Nafplion, Argostoli, Corfu and Kotor.


• From $2,489 per person, Ocean View Stateroom




Up to $50 onboard spending money per stateroom + Pinnacle Grill lunch for two. Book now.

98 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018





Up to $50 onboard spending money per stateroom + Pinnacle Grill lunch for two. Book now.

For reservations, call us today.

Scandinavia, Russia & Baltic

Western Mediterranean

• 9 days cruising the Baltic aboard Norwegian Breakaway

• 7 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Norwegian Epic

• Roundtrip Copenhagen

• Roundtrip Barcelona

• Select departures May 11 – September 23, 2018

• Select departures April 29 – September 23, 2018

• From $1,949 per person, Balcony Stateroom

• From $1,149 per person, Balcony Stateroom

Unlock the mysteries of Scandinavia & Russia on this 9-day cruise. Step into a realm of wonder at The Hermitage Museum as you discover the splendors of St. Petersburg. Stand in the same hall as Nobel Prize recipients while touring Stockholm’s City Hall with its beautiful murals and architecture. Then head to the Island of Djurgarden that’s considered the city’s outdoor recreation center.

From the spires of Gaudi’s grand cathedral to ancient libraries and colosseums, this part of the world is a treat for the senses. And the best way to explore it is aboard the Norwegian Epic. You’ll treasure stops in picturesque ports including Naples, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Cannes and Majorca. And enjoy your time at sea with one-of-a-kind entertainment and dining.









Up to $300 Onboard credit per stateroom + Pick two: Ultimate Beverage Package, Specialty Dining Package, 250 minute Internet package, $50 per port Shore Excursion, or 3rd & 4th Guest Free (select sailings). Book by March 31, 2018.

Up to $300 Onboard credit per stateroom + Pick two: Ultimate Beverage Package, Specialty Dining Package, 250 minute Internet package, $50 per port Shore Excursion, or 3rd & 4th Guest Free (select sailings). Book by March 31, 2018.

Mediterranean & Adriatic

Adriatic & Greece

• 11 days cruising the Mediterranean & Adriatic aboard Norwegian Spirit

• 7 days cruising the Adriatic aboard Norwegian Star

• Roundtrip Rome

• October 21 – 28, 2018

• Roundtrip Venice

• Select departures May 27 – September 9, 2018

• From $1,399 per person, Balcony Stateroom

• From $2,399 per person, Balcony Stateroom

Discover vistas as diverse as the cultures you’ll encounter on a cruise of the Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean aboard Norwegian Spirit. From Rome’s ancient ruins and the canals of Venice to the marble streets of Split, take a walk on the historic side. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie or amateur explorer, get ready for incredible experiences during this amazing 11-day round-trip cruise from Rome.





Up to $300 Onboard credit per stateroom + Pick two: Ultimate Beverage Package, Specialty Dining Package, 250 minute Internet package, $50 per port Shore Excursion, or 3rd & 4th Guest Free (select sailings). Book by March 31, 2018.

Marvel at the ancient history and natural splendors of Greece and the Adriatic. Make your way along the Grand Canal via gondola and behold the gothic architecture of the Doge’s Palace. While in Athens, witness the Acropolis, a citadel more than 2,500 years old and still a fixture of the city’s skyline. And amble the massive palace in Old Town Split, built by the emperor Diocletian in 4th century AD.





Up to $300 Onboard credit per stateroom + Pick two: Ultimate Beverage Package, Specialty Dining Package, 250 minute Internet package, $50 per port Shore Excursion, or 3rd & 4th Guest Free (select sailings). Book by March 31, 2018.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 99

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Panama Canal with Costa Rica & Caribbean • 10 days cruising the Panama Canal & Caribbean aboard Caribbean Princess®

Japan Fall Foliage • 8 days cruising Japan aboard Diamond Princess® • Roundtrip Tokyo • October 8 – 16, 2018

• Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale

• From $2,254 per person, Balcony Stateroom

• April 21 – May 1, 2018 • From $2,149 per person, Balcony Stateroom

Be one of the first to sail aboard the newly renovated Caribbean Princess® to this bucket list destination. Visit colorful islands and stretch out on a Caribbean beach. Admire the pristine rainforests, stroll the cobbled streets of colonial towns and journey through the fabled Panama Canal. Sail round-trip Fort Lauderdale to Falmouth, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Cristobal, Limon and Grand Cayman.






Japan is a study in contrasts: tranquil retreats of profound beauty lay just outside cities where skyscrapers soar over stunning temples and shrines. Neon-bright architecture and pink cherry blossoms vie for attention amid the colorful Harajuku district and traditional kimonos. Sail round-trip Tokyo aboard Diamond Princess® and visit Toba, Osaka, Iwakuni, Kanmon Straits, Hakata, Busan and Nagoya.





$75 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.

$60 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.

Iceland & Norway

Western Mediterranean

• 15 days cruising Northern Europe and Iceland aboard Pacific Princess®

• 10 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Crown Princess®

• Roundtrip London • July 18 – August 2, 2018

• September 22 – October 2, 2018

• From $6,539 per person, Balcony Stateroom

• From $2,899 per person, Balcony Stateroom

Sail aboard Pacific Princess® through Northern Europe, and explore the fjords that dot the coastlines of Iceland and Norway. Experience the best of both Icelandic and Norwegian cultures sailing round-trip from London/Dover to Stavanger, Seydisfjordur, Akureyri, Grundarfjordur, Reykjavik, Alesund, Flaam, Bergen and Eidfjord. Back onboard your ship, enjoy refined elegance with services and amenities of a small resort.

Ancient ruins recall the once-powerful empires that ruled this legendary region. Sail from Rome to ports of call including Salerno, Sicily, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Corsica, Toulon and Barcelona. Aboard Crown Princess®, enjoy a relaxing atmosphere filled with an array of world-class entertainment and dining options that will be waiting for you each day when you return from making fascinating discoveries ashore.



• Rome to Barcelona



$50 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.

100 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018





$60 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.

For reservations, call us today.

Western Caribbean

Panama Canal – Ocean to Ocean

• 7 days cruising the Caribbean aboard Caribbean Princess®

• 15 days cruising Panama aboard Island Princess®

• Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale

• Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles

• June 2 – 9, 2018

• March 25 – April 9, 2018

• From $1,499 per person, Balcony Stateroom

• From $2,999 per person, Balcony Stateroom

Feel the mystery and adventure of a region overflowing with natural beauty and cultural treasures. Encounter exotic animals roaming free in their natural habitat. Let incredible eco-adventures guide you through lush tropical rainforests and monumental ruins built by the mystical Mayans are waiting to be explored. Sail to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel.

From ships custom built to sail the massive locks to immersive onboard programs and onshore adventures that inspire, Princess is the number one cruise line sailing to this destination. And as aweinspiring as it is to travel through one of Condé Nast Traveler’s 7 Cruise Wonders of the World, Princess will help you explore equally fascinating places along the way, including island gems in the Caribbean, lush rainforests in Central America and the culturally diverse ports along the Pacific coast.






$50 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.




$50 onboard credit per stateroom. Book now.

Return to Glamour

Joie de Vivre

• 7 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Seven Seas Explorer®

• 7 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Seven Seas Voyager®

• Monte Carlo to Barcelona

• Monte Carlo to Barcelona

• May 8 – 15, 2018

• July 2 – 9, 2018

• From $7,599 per person, Veranda Suite

• From $7,399 per person, Deluxe Veranda Suite

This is cruising as it was meant to be – a sumptuous and very personal experience where your every wish, your every whim and your every want are met with gratifying luxuries, satisfying comfort and complete fulfillment of your wanderlust. Sail from Monte Carlo to Portofino, Antibes, Provence/Marseille, Port-Vendres, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia and Barcelona.

On this Spotlight on Wine Theme Cruise, Lars Lecht, Director of Trade Development for Banfi Vintners will be aboard. Few know wines better than Mr. Leicht, and there are few professionals in the wine world more dedicated to and passionate about the relationship between food and wine. He has developed and led cooking and wine pairing classes. With wit and style, he brings new insight into food and wine pairing and never lets us forget that wine is food. Visit ports of call including Monte Carlo, St-Tropez, Florence/Pisa, Rome, Ajaccio, Mahon, Ibiza and Barcelona.





Ensemble® Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Marseille. Book now.





Ensemble® Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Ajaccio. Book now.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 101

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Ultimate Glacier & Fjord Adventure

Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn

• 14 days cruising Alaska aboard Seabourn Sojourn

• 11 days cruising Alaska aboard Seabourn Sojourn

• Anchorage to Vancouver

• Vancouver to Anchorage • July 12 & August 6, 2018

• August 17 & September 11, 2018

• From $5,499 per person, Ocean View Suite

• From $5,999 per person, Ocean View Suite

When you cruise with Seabourn, you’ll enjoy a voyage that is nothing short of magical. Each cruise to Alaska includes exclusive amenities and activities designed to enhance every moment. This includes amazing itineraries with marquee ports, hidden gems along the Inside Passage, optional Ventures by Seabourn™ excursions, a complimentary Seabourn all-weather jacket, guidance and insight from a skilled expedition staff, a “Caviar on the Ice” deck party, and so much more.





Ensemble® Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Ketchikan. Book now.

On Seabourn, you’ll experience all the iconic wonders of Alaska in ultra-luxury, including a “Caviar on the Ice” deck party. On optional Ventures by Seabourn™, you’ll glide up close to Misty Fjords’ glittering waterfalls in a Zodiac, or paddle a kayak on a wildlife-spotting expedition in tranquil Tracy Arm, on a voyage from Vancouver to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Sitka, Seduction Point, Haines, Juneau, Inian Islands, Icy Strait Point and Anchorage.





Ensemble Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Sitka. Book now. ®

Romance of the Rivieras

Jewels of the National Trust

• 7 days cruising the Mediterranean aboard Seabourn Encore

• 16 days cruising the British Isles aboard Seabourn Ovation

• Barcelona to Rome

• Roundtrip London

• August 18 & October 6, 2018

• September 15 – October 1, 2018

• From $3,999 per person, Veranda Suite

• From $8,999 per person, Veranda Suite

Step into a wondrous world adorned with a sapphire jewel at its center, while cruising in ultra-luxury aboard Seabourn. For those along its shores, the sea remains the heart of it all, an irresistible magnet drawing every gaze. Explore the vibrant cities of Marseille, St-Tropez, and Barcelona, richly layered in history and deeply rooted in the sea. Follow the winding corniches of Monte Carlo, stacked atop a harbor bristling with masts of elegant yachts.

As Britain’s historic gateway to Europe, Dover and its famous white chalk cliffs have been the last glimpse of England seen by many a sea traveler over the centuries. One of the mightiest medieval castles built in Europe still stands atop those cliffs. Utilized by the British High Command to direct the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940, the tunnels remained a military secret until recently. Sail round-trip from Dover/London and visit Portland, Liverpool, Dublin, Beflast and Edinburgh, to name a few.





Ensemble® Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in St-Tropez. Book now.

102 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018





Ensemble Hosted Cruise with Ensemble® Experience shore event in Newcastle. Book now. ®

For reservations, call us today.

South America Expedition

Africa & Indian Ocean Expedition

• 16 days cruising South America aboard Silver Cloud Expeditions

• 11 days cruising Africa & the Indian Ocean aboard Silver Discoverer

• Lima to Punta Arenas

• Port Louis to Zanzibar

• October 26 – November 11, 2018

• November 16 – 27, 2018 • From $9,300 per person, Explorer Suite

• From $8,900 per person, Vista Suite

This is an expedition like no other. From savoring delicious locally-caught shrimp and dining in the shade of an Adobe pyramid to visiting the best wineries in Chile and having cocktails in the Atacama desert, prepare for unique culinary experiences, cooking demonstrations, lectures and excursions highlighting these magnificent lands. Visit Paracas, Arica, Antofagasta, Isla Pan de Azúcar, Coquimbo, Niebla, Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco, Tortel, Pio Xi Glacier, Chilean Fjords and Albero de Agostini National Park.





$600 per stateroom onboard credit. Book now.

St. Brandon is a beautiful and untouched string of islands barely visible on any map. Exclusive visiting rights mean two days spent exploring the pristine ecosystem virtually alone are assured. Continue through Madagascar to reach Jacques Cousteau’s “last unprofaned sanctuary on this planet”, Aldabra Island, nourishing your chance of a lifetime to get connected to the Ocean on nature’s terms.





$600 per stateroom onboard credit. Book now. Ask about 7-night pre- or post-cruise Couture Collection: Rwanda & Serengeti – Footsteps of Giants.

Ask about 9-night pre- or post-cruise Couture Collection: Bolivia – Reflections at 12,000 Feet.

Australia & New Zealand Expedition Broome to Darwin

Australia & New Zealand Expedition Darwin to Broome

• 10 days cruising Australia & New Zealand aboard Silver Discoverer

• 10 days cruising Australia & New Zealand aboard Silver Discoverer

• Broome to Darwin

• Darwin to Broome

• July 19 – 29, 2018

• July 29 – August 8, 2018

• From $9,000 per person, Explorer Suite

• From $8,400 per person, Explorer Suite

There are many beautiful places on Earth, but none is more beautiful than The Kimberley. Three times the size of England, this vast area is home to a huge variety of natural interests. With experts to take you through the untamed wildlife and to explain the Aboriginal rock art, uncover just a small part of this spectacular region on your voyage. Sail from Broome to the Buccaneer Archipelago, Hunter River region, King George River region, Wyndham, Jaco Island and Darwin.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever, so hold on to your memories as you are humbled by the experience of watching the sun rise over the Kimberley coast and the splendor of the Bungle Bungle mountain range. Feel the magnetism of this region as you explore Aboriginal rock art, deserted beaches and a plethora of wildlife of Australia’s final frontier.





$600 per stateroom onboard credit. Book now. Ask about 6-night post-cruise Couture Collection: Australian Outback – Walkabout on Another Planet.





$600 per stateroom onboard credit. Book now. Ask about 6-night pre-cruise Couture Collection: Australian Outback – Walkabout on Another Planet.

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018 103

T R AV E L E R ’ S N O T E B O O K

Eastern Caribbean


• 7 nights cruising the Caribbean aboard Allure of the Seas® or Oasis of the Seas®

• 7 nights cruising the Bahamas aboard Adventure of the Seas® • Roundtrip Cape Liberty

• Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Allure of the Seas®; Roundtrip Orlando Oasis of the Seas®

• May 11 & May 25, 2018 • From $799 per person, Balcony Stateroom

• May 13 – 20, 2018 Allure of the Seas®; May 20 – 27, 2018 Oasis of the Seas® • From $879 per person, Balcony Stateroom This is not a cruise. This is an epic journey for the whole family. It’s tapas tasting in San Juan. Becoming a steel drum superstar in St. Maarten. And soaring down the world’s longest zip line at Labadee®, a Royal Caribbean® private destination. All between adventures onboard the world’s most incredible ships. Come Seek the Royal Caribbean.






Receive a complimentary Specialty Dining Experience for two when you book a balcony or suite. Book by February 28, 2018.

When it comes to new experiences, you like to jump in with both feet. Whether it’s posing with porpoises in Dolphin Cay or plunging into pirate hideaways like Fort Fincastle. Or reef diving and flying high above water in a parasail. Grab hold of one-of-akind adventures in Nassau and Royal Caribbean’s private island, CocoCay. Come Seek your next Adventure.





Receive a complimentary Specialty Dining Experience for two when you book a balcony or suite. Book by February 28, 2018.

Castles Along the Rhine

Paris & Normandy

• 8 days cruising The Rhine River aboard S.S. Antoinette

• 8 days cruising The Seine River aboard S. S. Joie de Vivre

• Basel to Amsterdam

• Roundtrip Paris

• March 25 – November 4, 2018

• March 18 – November 30, 2018

• From $2,999 per person, River View Stateroom

• From $3,899 per person, River View Stateroom

Find inspiration in the romantic, soul-stirring beauty of the fabled Rhine River – Germany on one side, France on the other. Flowers tumble from baskets lining streets of half-timbered houses, and lights glint off quiet canals. Follow a landscape shaped by time and history. View the spires of medieval churches and castles that appear around each bend in the river, and vineyards that climb the verdant hillsides. Ports of call include Breisach, Kehl, Mannheim, Rüdesheim, Koblenz and Cologne.

Cruise from Paris through Normandy’s countryside, uncovering its many charms: Richard the Lionheart’s Chateau Gillard, the medieval capital of Rouen, Monet’s beloved home in Giverny and the famed Normandy beaches. Experience a different side of Northern Europe’s history with a choice to tour two majestic palaces, Versailles, once home to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, or Château de Malmaison, once home to Napoleon’s first empress, Josephine.





$300 per stateroom shipboard credit. Book now.





$300 per stateroom shipboard credit. Book now.

FOR ALL ENSEMBLE VACATIONS® OFFERINGS: Prices are per person, double occupancy unless otherwise stated. Prices and terms are displayed throughout this catalog 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. 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. 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.

104 Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018


These special cruise departures feature an Ensemble® Host, a private cocktail party and complimentary Ensemble® Experience shore event.

Receive a warm welcome at hundreds of hand-picked properties worldwide. Enjoy bonus gifts plus free upgrades, early check-in and late check-out when available.

Choose a villa from thousands of appealing options in the Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii. Save money and find your own oasis of comfort and style.

Your entrée to a global network of in-destination partners, all experienced in creating authentic experiences tailored to suit your individual taste, style and budget. TRAVEL WITH CONFIDENCE: We are among the distinguished travel specialists

of Ensemble Travel® Group – an international network of creative, inspiring individuals who excel at designing superb vacations for a discerning clientele. Our membership means that you will always find complimentary ENSEMBLE® EXCLUSIVES on thousands of exciting vacations from our valued partners – the world’s best cruise lines, most distinguished tour companies, and finest hotel and resort properties. For you OUR PREFERRED CLIENT, let us open the door to a world of exclusive experiences, intriguing adventure, and consummate service.

Imagine a world where exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences are always within your reach. Let us provide you with VIP insider service and unique access to elite travel and the most highly desirable sports, entertainment, culinary, fashion and cultural experiences worldwide.

You are invited to experie­nce life at its best ‌ a vacation designed just for you by

Whenever the passion to travel strikes you, be assured we are ready with the knowledge, the exclusive programs, and the insider connections to help you realize your dreams.

Profile for Torrisi Design Associates

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018  

Ensemble Vacations Winter 2018