Guggenheim Museum attracts worldwide visitors to Bilbao, Spain

Like a silent sentry, the gigantic “Puppy” stands ready to welcome visitors to his beautiful home. Multiple cameras and cellphones snap pictures of the unusual dog sculpture. In fact, it is difficult to get a photo when someone isn’t posing near the Bilbao landmark. But it wasn’t so long ago that travelers shunned this historic city in northern Spain. “If you didn’t see the way Bilbao used to be, you wouldn’t believe it,” said Mikel Mugalari of …

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New cruise port, Amber Cove, to open on the north coast of Dominican Republic-Tours planned to an untapped region

In the mountains near the north coast of the Dominican Republic, our canopied tour bus stopped on a shady country road for a visit to a four-room, wood house of a family of five. A fifth room, the kitchen for making beans, chicken and rice, was in a separate building so as not to spread cooking smoke to the sleeping quarters. A cruise excursion operator, Outback Adventures, pays this family, and several others nearby, an occasional stipend …

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Volunteerism Excursions With Crystal Cruises: “You Care, We Care”

I think that some of the very best ideas the cruise lines ever come up with are the various programs they implement to assist in disaster-stricken or economically disadvantaged areas.  While I love to read about a fantastic new itinerary or a noteworthy upgrade, nothing impacts me more than to see where these company’s hearts truly lie. I blogged earlier about MSC’s partnership with UNICEF to help out in Brazil, (this is a wonderful program, if you …

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“To Downton, M’Lady?” Crystal guests can experience hit show’s royal world in exclusive post cruise excursion

As excitement builds around the fifth season of hit drama Downton Abbey, Crystal Cruises is offering its luxury cruise travelers the rare opportunity to live the luxurious life depicted in the show, replete with early 20th-century period costumes and cars, and exclusive access to filming locations, including Downton itself—the real-life Highclere Castle.  The two-night “English Countryside & Highclere Castle” Extended Land Program will be offered post-cruise with Crystal Symphony’s 18-day, July 8 North Cape/Arctic exploration from Reykjavík …

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Shore excursion to floodwalls of Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Floodwalls in river towns certainly perform a very useful service. But they also can be a blank canvas for creative people. One of the floodwalls I always enjoy seeing is located in Cape Girardeau where riverboats tend to stop. In the 1730s, a young Frenchman named Jean Baptiste Girardot established a trading post at a rock promontory jutting from the west bank of the Mississippi River. This large promontory was referred to as “the cape,” a significant …

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New Crystal “Boutique” excursion gives exclusive access to Faberge eggs, Dostoevsky, and royal Russian life

Today’s luxury travelers can step into Russia’s luxury world of the imperial past with Crystal Cruises’ latest Boutique Adventure – a shore excursion unavailable on any other cruise line and only available to a limited number of Crystal guests.  Offered with four Crystal Symphony Northern Europe cruises in summer 2014, the new outing affords rare, exclusive access to areas of St. Petersburg’s Fabergé Museum that are not open to the public, including Romanov family exhibits, former aristocratic …

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Shopping with the chef

KOTOR, Montenegro – An expensive delicacy, the plump porcini mushrooms looked great to me. But something about them raised the concerns of Rafael Peterkovic. He eyed the mushrooms carefully, thumped their thick stems with his forefinger. Sniffed them, too. Then asked the mushroom vendor if he could use a knife to slice one open. What Rafael saw turned my stomach. The mushroom was filled with small worms happily munching away. The vendor just shrugged her shoulders, knowing …

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Michelin, military, monuments and more: Crystal Cruises’ new European adventures get even more exclusive

This summer, Crystal Cruises is taking guests backstage, behind the velvet ropes, under the hard hat, and into the luxury kitchens, homes, and cars of local European experts with six new “Boutique Adventures”—extremely limited-availability shore-side excursions not offered by any other cruise line.  The program expansion will allow travelers to forge deeper, personal connections with local cultures and destinations in the UK, Spain, Italy, and Sweden.  In all, guests can choose from 15 different “Boutique Adventures” during …

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Day Four – Viking Cruises Bordeaux

ABOARD THE VIKING FORSETI — The Bordeaux region is well known for wine, but today, I am anxious to explore its cognac. While there are tours to explore the area wineries, I have chosen an optional tour to go into the city of Cognac, just an hour and a half drive away. I signed up for the tour when I heard we’d have the rare opportunity to create our own personal blend of cognac, bottle it, and …

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Crystal expands “You Care, We Care” worldwide philanthropic excursion program

  Crystal Cruises is expanding its 2014 You Care, We Care voluntourism program, continuing its commitment to give back to its global cruise destinations.  Via three new complimentary shore-side aid opportunities, guests and crew aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity can help animals, the environment, and orphans in the Channel Islands, Iceland, and Ghana:   Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, St. Peter Port, United Kingdom — Support operations, whether it be mucking out the …

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