Crystal Serenity Haute Caribbean Holiday Cruise – Day Two

ABOARD CRYSTAL SERENITY_Today is a sea day, and a choppy sea at that. One of those extra Dramamine days that you sometimes get this time of the year. The first order of business is breakfast, which is being served in Marketplace, a new casual dining area that replaced the Lido Cafe during the ship’s extensive refurbishment in November, 2018. Bright and cheery, there are lots of breakfast choices at buffet stations.  Silverware and napkins are already in …

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Crystal Serenity Caribbean Holiday Cruise … Diary, Day 1

ABOARD CRYSTAL SERENITY_It’s finally here: The much-anticipated holiday cruise on Crystal Serenity is under way. And are we glad. The weather in South Florida has been abysmal for a week — gray skies and a relentless wind that just won’t stop. Pam and I were glad to be packing bags for 15 days in what we hoped would be the sunny Caribbean, with “bags” multiple being the operative word. Knowing there would be more “dress up” events …

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Preparing to Board Crystal Serenity for Haute Caribbean Holidays

In three days, Pam and I are boarding Crystal Serenity for their Haute Caribbean Holiday cruise, and we can’t wait. In fact, we wish we were leaving right now. We are Crystal first-timers, and who wouldn’t be excited to spend 15 days cruising the Caribbean, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s, on a cruise line that year after year, wins the industry’s most prestigious awards for excellence? Our departure point is Miami. Over the course of the cruise …

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Vantage Deluxe World Travel “Heart of Germany” voyage, 7-night sailing from Frankfurt to Munich on Ms River Splendor

Story and Photos By Gerry Barker In all the many cruises we taken over the years, there is one type of cruise we’ve never tried: River cruising. That all changed recently when we were invited by Vantage Deluxe World Travel to go on their “Heart of Germany” voyage — a seven-night sailing from Frankfurt to Munich on Ms River Splendor, touring six historic cities along the way. So it was with great anticipation that we boarded our …

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Vantage River Cruise ~ Day 3

Story and photo(s) by Gerry Barker … HEIDELBERG, Germany – Today starts early. We need to get a hardy breakfast before we board buses to tour this historic, romantic city and visit Schloss Heidelberg, one of Europe’s most famous castles. Ms River Splendor is docked at Aschaffenburg, from which Heidelberg is about 90 minutes by bus. The weather continues to be cold and rainy – pretty typical for November – so Pam and I add a few …

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Vantage River Cruise ~ Day 2

Story and photo(s) By Gerry Barker … KOBLENZ, Germany – It’s day two, and we just about have our body clocks adjusted to European time. This morning we are docked here in this historic city, described in our brochure as “a friendly town where its guests feel right at home.” Located where the Moselle and Rhine Rivers meet, its roots go back two thousand years, and has been governed at various times by the Romans, the French …

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Vantage River Cruise ~ Day One

By Gerry Barker MAINZ, Germany – Stepping off the plane in Frankfort, it was clear we had left Florida far behind. We had gone from the high 80s to the low 50s, trading swaying palms for trees in their full fall-foliage glory. For us, this was a trip of firsts: Our first visit to Germany, and our first river cruise. We were excited to experience both. Pam and I were here for Vantage Deluxe Travel’s “Heart of …

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Gerry Barker’s Experience on the Panama Canal

image courtesy of Gerry Barker

  PANAMA CANAL_Here we are, floating quietly outside the entrance to the Panama Canal, along with dozens of cargo ships, all of us waiting our turn. Carnival Miracle is among the first cruise ships to make the transit as the 2019-2020 season starts; it was reported Island Princess was the first, a day or two before us, headed for Ft. Lauderdale. Ranked as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, it will take us the …

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Gerry Barker’s Experience on the Brightline Inter-City Rail Line

Image courtesy of Gerry Barker

  In previous posts I’ve extolled the virtues of Brightline (soon to be Virgin Trains), the nation’s only private, iner-city rail line. If you live in South Florida, like Pam and I do, it’s the best way to get to the ports at Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, hands down. Recently, Brightline gave passengers more reasons to go by train with the launch of its new Train-to-Port packages. A typical package includes train tickets, parking at a Brightline …

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Gerry Barker Visiting Cartagena, Columbia

image courtesy of Gerry Barker

  CARTAGENA, Columbia_After over two days at sea and almost 1,300 nautical miles from Tampa, we have arrived at our first port — the historic Columbian city of Cartagena. Located on the Caribbean Sea, this is a city that is both steeped in history and a modern-day metropolis, which the locals call “Miami Two.” That’s in reference to the towering condominiums and office buildings that ring the harbor. But its most famous attraction is the 17th century …

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