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Nancy Bagworth
Cruise & Vacation Consultant

News & Notes

September 2019

Freedom of the Seas
Royally Amplified

Get ready to be dazzled as the newly Amplified Freedom of the Seas will be sailing spring 2020 from San Juan, Puerto Rico to the postcard-perfect Southern Caribbean shores. From the windswept landscapes in Aruba, the underwater paradise of Bonaire, to Curaçao’s cobblestone streets and Antigua’s sun-kissed beaches, you’ll sail to the top-rated coasts while enjoying bow-to-stern boasts.

Discover unparalleled new thrills onboard Freedom of the Seas. Like adrenaline-pumping slides and rides right on deck. A new pool scene that gets down after dark. And fresh, authentic flavours that will satisfy any craving. Here are highlights of Freedom of the Seas’ “Amplifications”:

Clash for the Crystal City

A glow-in-the-dark laser tag faceoff between Yetis and Snowshifters fighting to escape extinction.

The Perfect Storm

Plunge through three stories of twisting, turning thrills to the bottom of the dual racer slides Typhoon and Cyclone.

Amplified Resort Style Pool

The revitalized pool deck will be ready for you to soak in the sun and the fun with a main pool, a sports pool, and numerous whirlpools, including two that are cantilevered over the sides of the ship.

Splashaway Bay

This bigger and better waterpark features colourful waterslides, water cannons, fountains, pools, and drench bucket to guarantee a fun and wet time.

Adventure Ocean

The completely redesigned spaces with whimsical rooms and interactive workshops will give children 6 months to 12 years the playtime of their lives.

Teen Spaces

The redesigned lounge has areas for gaming, movies, plenty of comfortable places to kick back with new friends, and an outdoor patio.

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen

Hand-tossed pizzas, piping hot pastas, and all your favourite Italian classics are served in this casual eatery.

El Loco Fresh

Open for lunch and dinner, El Loco serves up Mexican fare such as burritos, classic mole sauce, salsa, and of course, margaritas.

Izumi Hibachi & Sushi

Get a taste of Asia in the Caribbean with sushi, sashimi, and a wide variety of Japanese delights with tableside preparation.

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade

Burgers, wings, and icy-cold draughts are the perfect accompaniments for catching the game on the big screens.

The Lime and Coconut

This pool bar brings the islands back onboard with you after your day ashore. Enjoy your favourite cocktails and feel the island vibes and Caribbean cool with DJs and live music.

The Amplified Freedom of the Seas will be sailing 7-Night Southern Caribbean itineraries year-round from San Juan, Puerto Rico, visiting Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Willemstad, Curacao, Oranjestad, Aruba, Kralendijk, Bonaire, Bassaterre, St. Kitts, St. Johns, Antigua, Castries, St. Lucia, and Bridgetown, Barbados.

What are you waiting for? Contact your Vacation Consultant to experience the newly Amplified Freedom of the Seas firsthand!

Enjoy Deluxe River Cruising with Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways’ comfortable, modern and stylish fleet of Star Ships has been making a splash on Europe’s rivers since 2014. With panoramic views of the stunning scenery and contemporary boutique hotel styling, a river cruise onboard Emerald Waterways delivers a deluxe experience, with gourmet dining options, exceptional service, and complimentary Wi-Fi, all included in the price.

State-of-the-art features onboard our Star Ships include a cinema, a heated pool with a retractable sunroof, as well as more space per cabin than almost any other operator. Ashore, explore unique cultural experiences at every destination with our included exclusive EmeraldPLUS and Emerald Active excursions. See even more, with our adventurous Discover More optional tours and destination hotel extensions. We guarantee you the best value in river cruising, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Our inspiring itineraries reveal the stunning scenery and fascinating culture of Europe as you’ve never experienced them, and today we’d like to highlight our Flavours of Burgundy and Provence journey, sailing on the Saône and Rhône rivers.

Few countries have a winemaking prestige to match France, and the Rhône Valley is amongst the nation’s finest wine-growing regions. The village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is renowned around the world for producing exceptional vintages, creating more than 110,000 hectolitres of wine every year. The Mediterranean climate of the south of France provides the perfect setting to enjoy a glass or two of the local fare whilst relaxing on your private Emerald Waterways balcony.

Join us on this 8-day cruise full of wine, food, and chocolate tastings. Starting and ending in Lyon, the “gastronomic capital of the world,” you will enjoy all of the delicious delights France has to offer. Recognized as the food capital of the continent, the city is rich with amazing eateries where some of the world’s finest chefs serve up incredible dishes combining delicate French flavours with modern techniques. But the delights don’t end at the dinner table, Lyon has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of the city’s architectural triumph and historical significance.

The mouth-watering highlights of this trip include sampling exquisite wines and savoring some of the best cuisine in the world while taking in breathtaking views of the French countryside by bike or foot. In Tournus, embark on a hunt for truffles with a local farmer and take part in a cheese tasting on board your luxurious Star Ship. In Burgundy, enjoy local wines, and sail the Rhône to Tain l’Hermitage for a guided hike through vineyards and a visit to the Valrhona Cite du Chocolat museum. Enjoy a walking tour of Avignon and taste the local gourmet selection of pastries, site see in the historic hilltop village Chateauneuf-du-Pape and sip on a bold glass of red wine, something this part of France is well known for!

Contact your Vacation Consultant today and let Emerald Waterways show you the best of Burgundy and Provence!

A Three-Continent Voyage with Celestyal Cruises

Does visiting three continents in a week sound like a whirlwind journey achievable only by the most intrepid traveler? Not so, if you do it onboard Celestyal Cruises!

In 2020, the Celestyal Crystal takes you on a truly unique journey as she sails roundtrip from Athens to Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey in just seven nights.  Your itinerary also includes three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, the former site of the Colossus of Rhodes, Greece, and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey. It’s Africa, Asia, and Europe rolled into one epic voyage that will land you bragging rights with your friends and family.

Sailing from the Greek capital of Athens, you’ll spend a blissful day at sea to prepare for your upcoming adventure. In Alexandria, Egypt, explore the ancient city founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. Or, take a complimentary excursion to Cairo and see the Pyramids of Giza. In Port Said, take a stroll along a raised waterfront boardwalk that is the starting point of the famous Suez Canal.

Your next port is the Holy Land city of Ashdod, Israel – one of the oldest cities in the world. Ashdod is the gateway to historic Jerusalem, just 33 miles away.

Back onboard, sail towards Limassol, Cyprus, Tours are available to visit Aphrodite’s Rock and the striking Crusader castle at Kolossi, or simply take in the local culture at the many cafes, bars, and restaurants that are popular with tourists and locals alike.

Visit the site of the second Ancient Wonder - the Colossus of Rhodes - in Rhodes’ harbour as your ship docks alongside in the morning. Your complimentary excursion takes you to the Acropolis at Lindros and a walking tour of the Old Town of Rhodes.

And finally, step foot on Asia via Kusadasi, Turkey. Your day journey is completed by visiting the Hellenistic ruins of Ephesus, famed for one of the Seven Wonders – the Temple of Artemis.

Your home away from home is the Celestyal Crystal, with a yacht-inspired design and classic teak decks. Carrying just 1,200 guests, your getaway couldn’t possibly feel more like home. Enjoy comfortable staterooms and suites, elegant restaurants, bars and lounges, and a fitness center and spa while you discover the wonders of the ancient world.

Your all-inclusive fare includes:*

  • Well-appointed inside, oceanview, or balcony accommodations with private bath
  • Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner daily
  • Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Daily onboard activities such as lectures, dance lessons, yoga classes, etc.
  • Excursion in Cairo, Rhodes, and Ephesus.
  • All port and service charges
  • All gratuities

Contact your Vacation Consultant today for more information and book this legendary odyssey!

*Restrictions apply. Contact your Vacation Consultant for full terms and conditions.

Introducing Holland America’s Club Orange Program

Holland America Line has introduced a unique Club Orange program which provides exclusive benefits and amenities to guests looking to elevate their cruise experience. Club Orange allows guests to opt in to extra privileges that are available to a limited number of guests on each cruise.

Complimentary for guests in Neptune and Pinnacle Suite categories, Club Orange is available to purchase for a small number of non-suite staterooms on each sailing.  The program is currently available onboad Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, and will be introduced on all ships in 2019.

“Club Orange allows guests to add extra premium benefits and luxury amenities to their cruise for a great value,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “One of the reasons people choose Holland America Line is because of the quality of what we offer — the best food at sea, the most authentic live entertainment and our award-winning service — and Club Orange is another way for guests to enhance their cruise experience.” 

The name Club Orange pays homage to Holland America Line’s rich Dutch heritage. The company was founded in the Netherlands more than 145 years ago and it’s the color of the Dutch Royal Family, which hails from the House of Orange.

Private Dining

Aboard Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, the Culinary Arts Center dining venue has been transformed into an exclusive Club Orange restaurant that is open every day for breakfast and dinner. The complimentary venue serves the same menu featured in Pinnacle Grill (breakfast) and the Dining Room (dinner) and also include additional daily dishes exclusive to the Club Orange restaurant. When Club Orange is introduced on other ships of the fleet, a dedicated section of the Dining Room will be set-aside for the exclusive use of Club Orange guests for breakfast and dinner. Reservations are not required but welcome.

Priority Access

Amenities that come with the exclusive Club Orange program include priority check-in and disembarkation, priority tender service and priority alternative restaurant reservations made on board. Club Orange guests also have a dedicated line at Guest Services and the EXC Tours shore excursion desk, as well as a dedicated concierge hotline on board for dining reservations, shore excursion assistance, general questions and support.

Additional benefits to Club Orange include an enhanced in-stateroom breakfast dining menu with complimentary premium selections such as steak and eggs or smoked salmon Benedict, a welcome glass of sparkling wine at dinner on embarkation day, premium bathrobe for use in stateroom, and an exclusive Club Orange tote bag.

Holland America Line is calling your name! Contact your Vacation Consultant today to learn more about Holland America and their new Club Orange program!

*Note: The cost of Club Orange is US$50 per person per day, and the first and second guest in the same stateroom are both required to purchase the program. Club Orange is included for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom. Club Orange must be purchased prior to cruise departure and is not available for purchase on board. Contact your Vacation Consultant for full terms and conditions.

Oceania Cruises Introduces Go Local Tours

Since its beginnings, Oceania Cruises has been recognized as the foodie’s cruise line, with a culinary program directed by master chef Jacques Pépin, an array of fine dining specialty restaurants, and prestigious partnerships with Wine Spectator, and Dom Pérignon.

Onshore, Oceania Cruises takes guests to over 450 spectacular ports around the world, from bustling cosmopolitan capitals to remote harbours that larger ships can’t reach. Its port-intensive itineraries and late-night stays are designed for seasoned travelers looking to delve into the local history, arts, and culture of the wondrous deaccstinations they visit. An extensive collection of shore excursions, pre- and post-hotel stays, and land programs complement the enriching onboard experience that Oceania has to offer.

And now Oceania has raised the bar on destination immersion with a series of Go Local Tours that will see guests make an even deeper connection with the places and people they visit.

With more than 120 tours across Europe, Alaska, and South America, guests can participate in completely distinctive and one-of-a-kind experiences, ranging from dining with a local family to tango dancing or a painting class with a master. Here’s a quick look at a few of these exclusive new tours:

Shepherd for a day in Basque Country: Biarritz, France

Follow a shepherd as he carries out his daily routine on a sheep farm. Learn how to care for and milk the local Laxta sheep, and the intricacies of the Idaizabal cheese-making process. A picnic of homemade specialties follows, including the farm’s tasty cheese.

Shop for Dinner and Set the Table: Buenos Aires, Argentina

In this fascinating excursion that is a feast for all senses, guests will be transported to a local market to learn about and shop for ingredients of an Argentinian dinner which will be prepared for them at a local residence.

A Day at the Farm: Kusadasi, Turkey

Learn about rural life in Turkey from a gregarious local resident before joining the villagers to harvest their crops of fruits or vegetables. Your hard work will be rewarded with a hearty Turkish breakfast of cheeses, black and green olives, spicy sausages, fruit preserves, fresh-baked white bread, and freshly brewed tea.

Old Traditions in Cadmos & Ljuta Village: Dubrovnik, Croatia

This excursion highlights traditional life and practices in two of Croatia’s quaint villages. At a water-powered mill, locals demonstrate grain grinding and flour making. Nearby, see how wool was traditionally processed in a labour-intensive process. And in the village of Cadmos, learn how bread is baked under a cast-iron dome under hot embers.

A travel experience like no other is awaiting you – contact your Vacation Consultant today to escape with Oceania Cruises!

Trafalgar Celebrates 10 Years of Their ‘Be My Guest’ Program

From iconic to the unexpected, Trafalgar, the world leader in travel for over 73 years knows travelers are looking for local and authentic experiences when they travel. For the past decade, the brand’s ‘Be My Guest’ experiences have been doing just that.

Breaking bread and tasting flavours with locals on exclusive culinary experiences around the world

Introduced In 2009, Be My Guest was the original and most immersive local travel experience, connecting travelers to the destination like never before.

A decade later, these one-of-a-kind experiences are available on almost every trip. Guests ‘Connect With Locals’ as they taste produce direct from the source (and sometimes even assisting to preparing the meals), share a glass or two of delicious wine, or uncover a piece of history in châteaux, ryokans, farms, and castles, and meet the individuals who bring these incredible experiences to life. No matter where you are in the world, every ‘Be My Guest’ host offers a unique story to tell with delicious flavours and authentic meals specific to the region.

Trafalgar’s exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experiences include:

France

Join host Béatrice de Montferrier and her daughter Alexandra on their Manor Farm near the famous Château de Villandry for an exclusive and traditional three-course Tourangelle dinner accompanied by local wines. Guests will also enjoy a walking tour of the garden and storytelling about the history of the house and farm.

Itineraries: Best of France and Highlights of France and Barcelona

Ireland

Go scavenging with Oonagh, a passionate local horticulture tutor and food blogger. Oonagh shares her extensive knowledge about the wealth of nature and the local plants on a walk to identify various foods that grow wild on the lanes and the beach. Guests enjoy a freshly prepared lunch at the homely Barrtra Seafood restaurant overlooking beautiful Liscannor Bay, near Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher.

Itinerary: Irish Experience

Italy

Enjoy Tuscan cuisine with local Italian Count Miari Fulcis on his 15th-century organic olive oil estate overlooking Florence. Explore acres of organic olive groves and spectacular gardens, and learn about the process used to make olive oil.

Itineraries: Gladiators, Gondolas and Gold, Great Italian Cities, Best of Italy and Greece, and European Splendour

Japan

Trafalgar guests will be welcomed into a traditional 1930s ryokan home originally built for the uncle of the current Emperor Akihito. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, the ryokan provides insights into life in a former Imperial Court and is a wonderful look into Japanese history. Before enjoying a delightful kaiseki lunch, travelers will learn about local Japanese customs and be gifted with a seasonal Waka poem hand-written in calligraphy.

Itinerary: Splendours of Japan

United States

Meet lifelong neighbours Joe Stone and Esther Carpenter at their charming Natchez homes, which will include a private piano concert. Guests will explore this Southern Mansion, over a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by award-winning chef, Esther.

Itinerary: Taste and Sounds of the South

Don’t miss out – contact your Vacation Consultant today and take advantage of Trafalgar’s newest program!

Exploring the Undiscovered Mediterranean with the Globus Family

The sultry charms of the Mediterranean have drawn visitors for centuries – and now two of the best-loved tour companies in the world have expanded their offerings there.  Using their new emphasis on quieter, less “discovered” destinations from Spain right across to Turkey, Globus, and Cosmos have crafted tours full of memorable experiences. Plus, book select 2020 Europe vacations with Globus by December 2, 2019 and enjoy a 10% discount!*

Globus

Famed for first class escorted tours featuring “Local Favorites” – Globus tours incorporate memorable moments of local cultural and culinary connection. New in 2020:

Greek Island Adventure takes you to off-the-beaten-path to lesser-known Greek Islands such Paros, Naxos, and stunning Heraklion in Crete via modern, high-speed ferries.

The Eclectic Aegean includes a seven-night cruise onboard Celestyal Cruises to several ports including the quiet charm of Canakkale and legendary Santorini. Start in Athens and finish in Istanbul for the perfect 11-night holiday.

Southern Italy & Greece blends three different cultures and distinct sceneries in this 19-day tour, including Sicily and a 4-night Greek island cruise.

The Croatian features medieval cities, turquoise lakes and the distinct art and culture of this “new” country on this 11-day tour.

In 2020, Globus will also offers new tours to Spain - including Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, and the Costa del Sol.

Cosmos

Value-brand Cosmos may not have as many inclusions as Globus, but that’s what its customers want: more free time and of course, a more affordable holiday. New in 2020:

Scenic Slovenia & Croatia is ideal for the traveler who wants to experience the highlights of these two charming countries in 8-days, replete with manmade and natural attractions.

Venice, Slovenia, Croatia & Montenegro is the 4-country, 11-day tour visiting the canals of Venice, the mountain lakes of Montenegro, the spas of Portorož, the seafood of Piran in Slovenia, and the mountains and monasteries of Krka National Park in Croatia.

Cosmos Lite

These tours include coach transportation, accommodation and the services of a Tour Director, but without the sightseeing inclusions. Every day is free to explore as you wish. New for 2020:

Greece Explorer & Aegean Islands Cruise includes a 3-night cruise through the turquoise Mediterranean as part of this 8-day tour.

Nice to Lyon Explorer includes visits to the glitz, haute cuisine and old-world elegance of the French Riviera and Aix-en-Provence.

All tours feature state-of-the-art air-conditioned motorcoach with free Wi-Fi so you can keep friends and family back home up to date on your adventures and encounters. And each tour is designed to give travelers expansive views of uncrowded vistas, connect with the locals and the chance to slow down and, in many instances, see the world at a more relaxed pace.

To further entice you to visit this diverse region, Globus is offering a 10% discount on select 2020 Europe vacations when you book by December 2, 2019.* Contact your Vacation Consultant today to get more information on these appealing tours from Globus and Cosmos, and take advantage of this exceptional offer!

*Note: Restrictions apply. Contact your Vacation Consultant for full terms and conditions.

Experience Aruba – the Home of Happy

At Vacation Express, we’ve been providing vacation packages for 30 years, to over 25 destinations in the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean. And today we’d like to tell you about beautiful Aruba!

At the end of the day, we all share a common goal of achieving happiness. If you can’t truly feel happy on vacation, where can you? The beautiful island of Aruba agrees – there is a reason it has officially been dubbed “The Home of Happy.”  

Just under 20 miles long and six miles across, Aruba is tucked into the Southern Caribbean, away from the hurricane belt. Resorts, shopping, and restaurants span the south and west coasts, while the north coast is lined with sea-sculpted cliffs and wind-swept shores. And in the middle, Arikok National Park offers diverse natural wonders such as deserts, caves, and limestone formations.

Nothing quite compares to the combination of the turquoise Caribbean waters with the gentle breezes and year-round perfect weather. Kick off your shoes and walk along the white-sand beaches of this mecca of relaxation and wellness. Embrace the leisurely lifestyle that emphasizes activities like yoga on the beach, championship golf courses, sailing or windsurfing with the help of the steady trade winds. Once you have achieved your Zen state, activities like safari tours, hiking through Arikok National Park or snorkeling at The SS Antilla - one of the Caribbean’s largest shipwrecks - will get your adrenaline pumping. A visit to the capital city, Oranjestad, will complete your island experience with shopping centers and casinos set along the Dutch-inspire architecture and views of the ocean.

No matter what your ideal vacation looks like, Aruba will fulfill your vision – ideal weather and all. At Vacations Express, we offer affordable family-friendly escapes, adults-only luxury retreats, and group packages, so there is something for everyone. Contact your Vacation Consultant today to book your all-inclusive Aruba vacation package with your preferred airline through Vacation Express!

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*Expedia Extras offers are per stateroom (unless otherwise stated) on select sailings, based on double occupancy, apply to new bookings only, are not combinable with any other offer, are capacity controlled and may be withdrawn without notice. Certain restrictions may apply. For full terms and conditions, click the specific Expedia Extra offer or contact your Expedia CruiseShipCenters Vacation Consultant.

Prices are per person (based on 2 passengers in the same stateroom), cruise only in CAD dollars. Airfare, transfers, taxes, fees and port expenses are additional (unless otherwise stated). Prices vary by ship, stateroom type and sailing date. Prices and offers are subject to availability and change without notice, and are capacity controlled. Fuel supplement may apply. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is not responsible for errors that may occur due to the transfer of information from selected third parties, technical error, or human error.

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Nancy Bagworth
Cruise & Vacation Consultant