A visit to the town where Vincent Van Gogh spent his final most prolific days

Auvers sur Oise, France — I’m literally walking in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps to the field where he painted the famous paintings like the Wheatfield of Crows and where he shot himself. Such a sad story. Van Gogh, of course, was only 37 when he died and not yet famous.  He had come to the town of Auvers sur Oise, a short distance from Paris on the train because Dr. Paul Gachet, lived here.  A great friend …

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In Rouen, France — where Joan of Arc died and Monet painted a famous cathedral

Rouen, on the Seine River in Normandy — She was a teenaged girl who was seeing things.  Centuries later, she is the national symbol of France. Joan of Arc was born in 1412 to a family of farm laborers. When she was a young teen, she started to hear voices telling her to help the dauphin regain the throne.  From the start of the Hundred Year’s War in 1337, the English and French fought over that throne …

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Two days touring the D-Day sites in Normandy

Normandy coastline, France — Elizabeth Kelly is standing in front of the gravestone of the grandfather she never met. She’s far from home—as was he as a young Lieutenant from Chicago fighting in World War II.  His name was Forrest Kelly and he’d left behind a wife and two young children. We are at the famous Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach, where the massive allied assault on the Normandy on June 6, 1944 aimed …

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A cruise with a difference — along the Seine River in Normandy

ON THE SEINE RIVER BETWEEN PARIS AND NORMANDY — We’re gliding along a field dotted with daisies; at lunch I watched a family of swans. I’m on a different kind of cruise—a River Cruise on the Seine in France on Avalon Waterways Creativity—just 140 passengers on this 361-foot long barge and with just 70 staterooms and two suites.  (The newest Avalon ships will be all-suites.) “You get to know people here… and it’s nice that you unpack …

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Cruising on the Seine River – a stop at Monet’s Garden in Giverny

ON THE SEINE RIVER BETWEEN PARIS AND NORMANDY — I’m walking in Monet’s glorious gardens at Giverny on sunny day thinking about a little girl skipping over the famous green Japanese Bridges a big smile on her face. That was my daughter Melanie, 7 at the time, who was enamored of the book Linnea in Monet’s Garden, so from the time we announced we were going to France in 1998, she announced we must visit Monet’s Garden.  …

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Aboard the new Norwegian Breakaway — plenty to keep kids entertained

DAY 2 — Where’s the baby? If you’re on board the new Norwegian Breakaway, you—and baby—and grandma might all be joining in special “Guppies’ activities—maybe finger painting with special paints or using chalk or crayons made out of vegetables. “We want those younger families whose kids aren’t in school,” said CEO Kevin Sheehan –especially during times of year when there aren’t school breaks. He stressed that on this ship—from the restaurants to the water slides to the …

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Two days on the new Norwegian Breakway – a ship made for New York

DAY ONE–  Ready to walk the plank? Norwegian Cruise Lines (CEO Check Title) Kevin Sheehan challenges passengers to do just that eight feet over the side of the ship aboard Norwegian’s new ship Breakaway—which incidentally at 4,028 passengers and 1,595 crew, is the largest ship to homeport in the heart of New York City at Pier 88. Walking the plank?  That’s an “activity” on board that is part of the ropes course that also has a zipline …

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Cruise lines keep innovating for family travel market

Are you counting down? If you’re a cruise fan—specifically a Royal Caribbean fan—you probably are. Sure many families are skittish about cruising right now given Carnival’s recent  performance—especially those who have never cruised.  “Some people who are sitting on the fence might decide to delay the experience,” acknowledges Royal Caribbean’s Vicki Freed, senior VP of Sales. But Royal Caribbean wants you to know they’ve not only got your back but they’ll guarantee you an experience like none …

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The last day of the Barbie cruise includes a fashion show and a special birthday celebration

From Eileen’s  Taking the Kid’s Blog, written By Gina Burgos (guest blogger) ABOARD THE ROYAL CARIBBEAN ALLURE OF THE SEAS (Day 3 of 3) — We prepared for the Fashion Show grand finale with a rehearsal Barbie Dance Class, part of Royal Caribbean’s Barbie Premium Experience.  Led by one of the Adventure Ocean staff who was a dance instructor, the girls learned a fully choreographed routine to the song “Do The Mermaid” from Barbie in A Mermaid …

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Royal Caribbean’s Barbie Experience is a sea of pink

From Eileen’s  Taking the Kid’s Blog, written By Gina Burgos (guest blogger) ABOARD THE ROYAL CARIBBEAN ALLURE OF THE SEAS (Day 2 of 3) –Monday kicked off the first full day of the cruise and our first Barbie activity, the Barbie Tea Party, part of Royal Caribbeans  Barbie Premium Experience,  Each girl was given a pink tiara and asked to choose one “guest” (parent) that was invited to sit with her at the tea party. Then the …

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