Harvesting Golden Saffron in Spain

I’ve just plucked the stigmas from three dainty crocus flowers, and I only have 249,997 more to go before I harvest enough for a kilo of Spanish saffron. I’m learning the gentle art of “monda,“ removing the precious orange filaments from the purple crocus blossoms in Consuegra https://www.spain.info/en/destination/consuegra/ the heart of saffron country in La Mancha, Spain. LaMancha, after Iran and Turkey, is the world leader in saffron production. In this process, everything‘s fragile, from the crocus …

Read more

Our final morning: Winds cause a missed call

November 18, 2011: Our final day It’s happy birthday to Nicole Donahoe, and Chef Mabee has carved an elaborate apple swan for the breakfast bar in her honor. One gift given, another taken away. We’re hoping to make landfall on Tiritiri Matangi, a remarkable island of conservation. The once-eroded farms are now sanctuary for some of New Zealand’s rarest birds: the flightless takahe and kokako, which was nearly extinct. But the southwesterlies intrude again, making the tender …

Read more

After some rough seas, we visit an exotic mansion on Kawau Island

November 17, 2011 Reluctantly, Capt. Vince heads us out of Smokehouse Bay west for Kawau and the Victorian fantasy world of Sir George Grey. Twice governor of New Zealand, Grey took over the home of a mining executive in the 1860s, plowing in a fortune to take it to 30 lavish rooms and transform the gardens into his private Eden He brought in Chinese pheasants, New Guinea tree kangaroos and South African monkeys. Zebras pulled his carriage. …

Read more

We learn how they make Barrier Gold balms and oils

November 16, 2011 Day two in our perfect little harbor off Great Barrier Island, but suddenly the sun and warmth are gone. We bundle up for the short jaunt over to shore and the quirky homestead of Trish and Sven Stellin. For more than 18 years, they’ve been making Barrier Gold balms and oils from the manuka and kanuka plants, better known in the States as tea trees. The plants, once reviled as weeds, now are the …

Read more

A visit to the Glendern Sanctuary on Great Barrier Island

November 15, 2011 The sun and warmth of a real spring day help carry us over to Port Fitzroy on Great Barrier Island, heart of an inspiring conservation tale. I’ve been to Kapiti Island off Wellington, which is a predator-free haven for New Zealand’s endangered native birds. This bit of land jutting into the Hauraki Gulf is now the Kotuku Peninsula Sanctuary, which is also trying to give native birds one last chance. The late Tony Bouzaid …

Read more

Our day at Waiheke features tastings from three wineries

November 14, 2011 We tender over to Waiheke Island this morning, forced by southwesterly winds to land on shore rather than the harbor. At sandy Oneroa Bay, we time the waves to make a beach landing, hopping off in rhythm with the surf. It’s a morning of wine tastings at three of Waiheke’s best vineyards. This once sleepy island was a hippie haven until vintners discovered its climate was a match for Bordeaux’s, and the first vines …

Read more

SATW president begins her New Zealand cruise aboard the Island Passage

November 13, 2011 After a week in Wellington, New Zealand, it’s time to hop the hour flight back to Auckland and link up with the Island Passage. I find the low-slung catamaran at her little berth along Princes Wharf, just a few blocks from the Victorian Ferry Building that is the icon of Auckland Harbour. Auckland Harbour I’m too early to board, but don’t fancy carrying all my gear around Auckland. Who should appear to save the …

Read more

Betsa Marsh’s Bio

Betsa Marsh, a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award winner, is a writer and photographer who’s reported from every continent. She’s cruised from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle, from Istanbul to Tahiti. Her heart is with small, historic ships of legend, but she revels in the well-brewed cup of tea and aromatherapy massage of a grand luxury ship, too. Betsa writes for print and online media across North America, as well as her own Globespinners.com website. She lives …

Read more

Trusted by over 1 million cruisers since 2003.
Get FREE access to members-only pricing.
There is a highly acclaimed way to receive multiple quotes from a site called CruiseCompete, where cruise specialists compete to offer you the best deal. The media sums it up for CruiseCompete:
Score Luxury Cruises at Bargain Prices” (The Street)
Best site for cruise deals” (The Wall Street Journal)
28 Best Travel Sites” (Kiplinger's) Multiple annual mentions
36 Web Addresses You Should Know” (The Washington Post)