Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cruising on the Rhine on the River Empress

On Saturday I'm off to Amsterdam for a river cruise on the Rhine on Uniworld's River Empress. The cruise on this 134-passenger boutique-hotel style ship will be a vastly different experience than a cruise on a large resort cruise ship with over 2,500 passengers. I embark in Amsterdam on March 28 and for the next seven days, my floating hotel will take me to the heart of Volendam, Arnhem, Cologne, Mainz and Frankfurt.
On most large cruise ships, you don't see much while you're cruising because you're either at sea or too far away from land to see much of anything. But I expect to be surrounded by a stunning, castle-dotted landscape as I cruise through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. I plan to find a comfortable perch in the Sky Lounge where I can just relax and soak up the scenery.
On the River Empress, I know I won't find numerous dazzling entertainment venues or a giant fitness center with the latest leading-edge equipment because there just isn't room for these amenities on a 134-passenger ship that's only 360 feet long and 37 feet wide. That's okay with me because I can easily find these things at home. What I can't do at home is travel back in time in the comfort of an elegant floating hotel and experience the exhilaration of turning a corner on a cobble-stoned street and coming upon an awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meeting the Locals in New England and Canada

I think cruising is the most hassle-free way to travel because you don't even have to think about how you're going to get to the numerous destinations you want to see because your floating hotel will get you there and you only have to unpack once. However, once you get to that place you've spent hours reading and dreaming about, do you often feel rushed to see all the things you want to see because you'll be in port for just a few hours?

On the Cruise Holidays Client Appreciation Cruise to Canada and New England on September 12-26, I'm going to take a different approach. Although I've planned an authentic tour of Québec City while we're there, Québec At Its Finest, I haven't planned any group shore excursions for the other ports of call.

I will be participating in the Rotary International Conference in Montréal in June and while I'm there I know I will be meeting some very interesting people from Québec,the Canadian Maritime Provinces and New England who will have intimate knowledge of our ports of call. So, I'm thinking that I will cultivate some friendships at the conference and ask questions about where the locals go and what they do in such places as Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax and Charlottetown. Then I could potentially organize an event that would be more fun than being hauled around in a motor coach. I don't know about you but I would much prefer to feel like I'm part of a place even though I'm there for only a short time rather than feeling like I'm on the outside looking in.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Come Celebrate Autumn With Me!

I've always wanted to visit New England during autumn to see the beautiful fall foliage. The closest I came to actually doing it was when my friend Lew Hollerbach took me up in a small plane one afternoon while I was in Boston for a short time some five or six years ago. If my memory serves me right, we launched our flight from Minute Man Air Field in Stow, MA and flew to Laconia Municipal Airport near Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I had a lot of fun that day and wonder why it has taken me so long to go back to this very colorful and historic Northeastern corner of our wonderful country.

I'm going back and I'm inviting you to go with me. Steve and I and my colleague, Jackie Roberts, are cruising on the Celebrity Summit from September 12-26, 2010 and believe me, we'll have the opportunity to do some serious leaf peeping on this trip including stops in Newport, Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Québec City and Charlottetown.

We have a special excursion planned in Québec City exclusively for our group that begins with a lovely stroll through Québec City followed by a trip to Montmorency Falls and lunch featuring local delicacies at Auberge La Goéliche on Ile d’Orléans. On this excursion we will have a guide from Québec City, an authentic Québécois or Québécoise. However, I'm currently working hard on my French conversation skills so that you will have a second French-speaking guide who promises to make you laugh.