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

We got off the cruise ship in Hong Kong, then ate some more

A parade of ducks, half a dozen plucked and ready for roasting, hung from the kitchen ceiling. Beside the ducks hung pigs, butchered and prepared for the high heat of an oven’s glowing charcoal. The roasting of ducks and pigs was the highlight of my Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tour, a four-hour walking meal in the culinary capital of Asia that continues to grow as a port for starting and/or ending cruises. If you have only one …

Read moreWe got off the cruise ship in Hong Kong, then ate some more

River cruise excursion to Normandy links WWII memorials, and my Great-Grandmother Pearl’s 1944 diary

Of all the war monuments and cemeteries dedicated to North Americans, the beaches and plots at Normandy are perhaps the most haunting Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France On an early June day in 1944, Pearl Molyneaux wondered where her boys and daughter were, as World War II charged toward deadly climaxes in Europe and in the Pacific. As my great-grandmother wrote in her diary at home in western New York State, her son Silas, a bomber pilot, was in the …

Read moreRiver cruise excursion to Normandy links WWII memorials, and my Great-Grandmother Pearl’s 1944 diary

The intimacy of small-ship cruising

Getting to know fellow travelers aboard vessels of Windstar, Viking In a cruise world where most of the advertising emphasis is on ships that carry thousands of passengers from port to port in a frenzy of activities and meals, consider that other, calmer options await. The contemporary cruise business is not one-size-fits-all. For vacationers who may be new to the idea of cruising and are looking for a small, casual ship, I have two recommendations from recent …

Read moreThe intimacy of small-ship cruising

Strolling Cuba’s Cienfuegos, buying art, listening to music, watching children dance, making repairs with Duck Tape

Cienfuegos, Cuba-On our last day on the south coast of Cuba, my wife Fran Golden and I set out on a long walk, sandwiched by two outstanding musical programs arranged by Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic — a religious and classical Cuban performance by the Cantores de Cienfuegos choir, and a classic children’s show, Cucarachita Martina. Our full afternoon walk, from the center square, Marti Park, to the yacht club harbor, was in search of conversation and a souvenir. We …

Read moreStrolling Cuba’s Cienfuegos, buying art, listening to music, watching children dance, making repairs with Duck Tape

American travelers bump into Cuba’s rules on early cruise to southwest coast, but all runs smoothly later

Isla de la Juventud, Cuba – After a calm winter’s night at anchor on Cuba’s remote Siguanea Bay, 35 American travelers on the 150-foot motor-sailor Panorama II awakened before dawn and collected their snorkeling gear, prepared for a ride on a local boat to a dock on the southwest corner of Isla de la Juventud (formerly Isle of Pines). On this day, the schedule, as arranged with and approved by top tourism officials in Havana, was not to …

Read moreAmerican travelers bump into Cuba’s rules on early cruise to southwest coast, but all runs smoothly later

Dancing and music on the Isle of Juventud, where Castro once was imprisoned

Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic leaders had briefed passengers on the 150-foot motor-sailor Panorama II about the Isle of Juventud (Youth), once a haven for pirates, then a place for exiled undesirables and later for 150,000 students from overseas learning about the values of post-revolutionary Cuba. Today, Juventud is relatively isolated from the rest of Cuba, so it gets few foreign visitors, and our presence, we were told, would cause heads to turn. When we arrived on the eighth …

Read moreDancing and music on the Isle of Juventud, where Castro once was imprisoned

Sailing, cruising to Cuba’s Bay of Pigs and Trinidad

One of the more exciting moments of an 11-day expedition was boarding a 150-foot motor-sailor, the Panorama II, for a one-week cruise off Cuba’s southwest coast. Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic has chartered the Greek ship for its initial Cuba sea journeys, so our trip not only carried a twist of history — few Americans had explored these waters since the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 — but also a learned staff of lecturers and photographers. They …

Read moreSailing, cruising to Cuba’s Bay of Pigs and Trinidad

People-to-people travel to Havana, food and music, Hemingway, and talking about life

Havana If you are traveling to Cuba, not so much to rest on vacation as to experience the island’s people and culture, your best bet is to choose an expedition by one of the more reputable outfits known for its guides and lecturers. Your trip may — or may not — be the most cushy, and your beach time surely will be limited. But you will gain some understanding about today’s Cuba, a country on the Caribbean’s largest island that …

Read morePeople-to-people travel to Havana, food and music, Hemingway, and talking about life

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