Ocean ships, river cruises add new shore excursions, active tours

More choices require more research to target experiences that are right for you In Germany on the Rhine, my riverboat, the Viking Hild, stopped in the historic city of Mainz. The vessel’s basic complimentary walking tour included monuments to art and history, markets, churches, and the fascinating museum of Johannes Gutenberg where travelers may see two of the 29 remaining copies of the Gutenberg bible. All good, except what I wanted to see in this port, on …

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In a food fight among premium cruise lines, Celebrity seeks an Edge

In a darkened room at a restaurant table set with empty, shiny white dinner plates, a little man about the size of my thumb suddenly appears plate-side to prepare dessert. He is accompanied by a miniature sled, spoon, and igloo. At each place on the table, the animated little man in red scarf and chef’s hat heaves a scoop of ice cream, flips berries with his spoon, shoots chocolate sauce from a firehose, and lights a celebratory …

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Post-cruise, How 2 people vacationed on the Amalfi Coast and were the only Americans in town

MINORI, ITALY-A week into our off-season trip to the ancient Amalfi Coast beach town of Minori, my wife and I heard whispers from a doorstep as we walked along a cobbled lane. “Here come the Americans,” (or something close to that), said one woman to another in Italian. We were making our usual late afternoon shopping jaunt to buy fresh bread, a sack of delightful baby artichokes, a big scoop from a barrel of ripe broccoli rabe, …

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Icebergs, bears await intrepid cruise travelers in Alaska’s wilds

Book early, as many small group adventures, like these, sell out before the summer cruise season starts Inside Passage, Southeastern Alaska-Clunks from chunks of ice, the submerged parts that we could not see, delivered an unnerving soundtrack as our metal boat danced among a thousand icebergs on a zigzag path toward the great LeConte Glacier. For nearly an hour out of the Alaska port of Petersburg, we had been traveling at a pretty good clip, seven of …

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With 42 sails unfurled, Royal Clipper cruises for tiny towns and empty beaches

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS-The first time that you climb the ladder from dock to gangway to board the 227-passenger Royal Clipper, you will know instinctively that your week on the world’s largest sailing vessel will be unlike any other cruise. That ladder moment is too late to decide whether you favor the ride and rigging of a glorious sailing ship or prefer something that is steadier, roomier, and more luxurious on a much bigger vessel. On the Royal Clipper, …

Read moreWith 42 sails unfurled, Royal Clipper cruises for tiny towns and empty beaches

On a luxury cruise in the Arabian Sea, on the lookout for pirates

Pirates seldom dominate our thoughts beyond movie myths and Halloween costumes, but real pirates still threaten danger for the unwary. As my ship, the 600-passenger luxury Seabourn Encore, cruised recently on the Gulf of Aden, with Yemen to the north and Somalia to the south, the ship’s crew prepared for a pirate attack. Passengers, too, were ready, with a set of instructions about when and where to go to hide if the captain sent us a signal. …

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Where to jumpstart a diet and exercise program? On a luxury cruise, of course Working out, dodging calories, stretching willpower on Seabourn Encore headed to Dubai

eeding to lose at least a few pounds and hoping for a jumpstart on a regular workout routine, I booked a 21-day cruise on the new 600-passenger Seabourn Encore. Seabourn is a four-ship line that rates itself six stars on the luxury meter, none of them connected to the concepts of moderation and personal discipline. A crazy idea? Maybe, but I chose a repositioning cruise that would be heavy with sea days, providing extra time to exercise …

Read moreWhere to jumpstart a diet and exercise program? On a luxury cruise, of course Working out, dodging calories, stretching willpower on Seabourn Encore headed to Dubai

Cruising Alaska, a delightful day in Petersburg Where else can you watch log rolling, a herring toss and Fools on Spools?

Petersburg, Alaska-Fancy free summer travel can be so much fun when you meander as a stranger into one of America’s lively small towns — especially when you encounter a festival or other special event. In many small towns, holidays and civic celebrations are special, with parades, family gatherings, local entertainment, and contests attracting much of the populous. This was certainly the case with a spirited log rolling competition on the very chilly waters of Petersburg, Alaska. Starting …

Read moreCruising Alaska, a delightful day in Petersburg Where else can you watch log rolling, a herring toss and Fools on Spools?

How no-frills will you go to cruise to Alaska’s smaller port towns? Pitch a tent and roll out your sleeping bag or book a bunkbed on Alaska’s Marine Highway

WRANGELL, ALASKA How do you pitch a tent on an Alaska ferry? You pack Gorilla or Duck tape. Without stakes to pound, very sticky tape is necessary to secure your tent to the deck floor while the ferry churns toward the next port. Which, no doubt, elicits other questions: Why would you sleep outside in a tent when you could curl up in a comfy chair indoors or book a cabin with bunkbeds? And why would you travel …

Read moreHow no-frills will you go to cruise to Alaska’s smaller port towns? Pitch a tent and roll out your sleeping bag or book a bunkbed on Alaska’s Marine Highway

Joie de Vivre brings a French effervescence to Uniworld’s Seine cruises from Paris into Normandy

PARIS-You don’t need to speak French to sail on the new Joie de Vivre, cruising the Seine out of Paris. But you will know from your first step aboard, at the dock about a 20-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, that you are in France. With its French fabrics, foie gras, daily arrays of local cheeses, and its hallways dressed in early 1900s caricatures by artist George Goursat (known as Sem), the Joie de Vivre is true …

Read moreJoie de Vivre brings a French effervescence to Uniworld’s Seine cruises from Paris into Normandy

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