Norwegian Encore Takes a Bow

Fans of Norwegian’s brand of fun at sea will find more to love in the line’s newest ship, the Encore. The ship resembles sisters Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss, and has kicked things up a few notches to create some features that are better and some, not so much. Dining For many cruisers (like me), dining options and dining quality are critical to a trip’s success. During a two-day ship visit prior to Encore’s inaugural, I sampled …

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Greek Isles Cruise aboard the Crystal Esprit: Kotor, Montenegro

Last day of this cruise and the weather is kind of miserable, with overhanging clouds and the threat of thunderstorms. I suspect there may be issues with some of the tours that are offered this afternoon—for example, the off-road adventure from the town to the peaks of Lovcen Mountain or the hike along the fortified old city walls. As there is no other vessel like the Esprit, this has been a unique experience, one that feels very …

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Greek Isles Cruise aboard the Crystal Esprit: Corfu, Greece

Last night, before we sailed away from Parga, a duo of Greek musicians came onboard to entertain during the cocktail hour. This triggered memories—and discussions—of the movie, Zorba the Greek, and of the legendary Melina Mercouri. Today, how startling it has been to see the MSC Musica docked here, with its thousands of passengers compared to our 40+. (Esprit is not full for this cruise—and now I’ve learned that capacity is 62, not 68, as I was …

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Greek Isles Cruise aboard the Crystal Esprit: Parga Greece

Aboard the Crystal Esprit-Last night, en route to Parga, we traveled under the Rio–Antirrio Bridge, one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and the longest of the fully suspended type. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula to Antirrio on mainland Greece by road. Today, in Parga, it’s all about the olive oil, the liquid gold of Greece. Skipping a tasting here would be like passing …

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Greek Isles Cruise aboard the Crystal Esprit: Itea, Greece

My tour today stands out as a highlight of this cruise from Athens to Dubrovnik. Our small group traveled by coach to the Archeological Museum of Delphi, one of the world’s most important museums, reflecting as it does, the essence of Hellenic culture. The museum is a modern structure and the exhibits are both accessible and easily understood, with descriptions in a number of languages. Among the many spectacular exhibits is The Charioteer, a bronze statue from …

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Greek Isles Cruise aboard the Crystal Esprit: Hydra, Greece

Hydra, Greece ABOARD THE CRYSTAL ESPRIT — Today it was necessary to anchor the Espirt and to tender to shore. Although the yacht is small enough to dock in most places, some harbors are protected, so there’s a need to tender. Two complimentary tours were offered. One included a hike and a trip to the beach. I thought the beach-goers who intended to sample the sea were brave, as the water temperatures right now are pretty cold. …

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My first full day aboard the Crystal Esprit in Greece

Navplion, Greece ABOARD THE CRYSTAL ESPRIT — I just completed my full day on my week-long cruise of the Greek islands aboard the Crystal Esprit, which offers a true yachting experience, with just 68 passengers and more than 90 crew. The level of service quickly becomes obvious, with needs either anticipated or immediately fulfilled. Butler service takes care of so much, including complimentary pressing of my travel-wrinkled clothes. My cabin is spacious and well laid out, with …

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Taste of Bordeaux cruise: Bordeaux

ABOARD AMADOLCE-Last day blues. Though I’m going off to Paris tomorrow morning, I’m always a bit sad to leave my home-away-from home after cruises like this, when the weather (and the scenery) has been simply gorgeous on both the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers. I’ve seen so many stately chateaux and verdant vineyards, enjoyed tasting distinguished wines and savoring the exceptional food that came out of the ship’s kitchen. A bonus for me has been the pleasure of …

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Taste of Bordeaux cruise: Libourne and St. Emilion

ABOARD AMADOLCE-Two perfect days of tasting wine and delicious food. On Tuesday, we had our usual wine lecture and tasting from our resident expert, Christopher Silva of the St. Francis winery in Sonoma. This time it was Cabernet Sauvignon, about which I knew next to nothing. And now I know a few things that might help me in my local wine shop. My afternoon tour took me to picture-perfect Saint-Emilion where I snapped lots of pictures of …

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Taste of Bordeaux cruise: Blaye and Bourg-en-Gironde, France

ABOARD AMADOLCE-The AmaDolce visited two places: first, Blaye, a quaint little town with a 17th century citadel listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the afternoon, the ship would dock in Bourg-en-Gironde, built during Roman times and still living inside medieval walls. So in the morning, I strolled the streets of Blaye and found the place pretty quiet. It was a Monday, in August, and many places, except for the fabulous and very fragrant bakeries., were …

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