by Don McCann
Having grown up in Florida in the 60’s, Cuba always held a fascination for me (and many others) during that time. It was a place of some mystery and sort of the forbidden fruit of travel destinations. This all intensified as the years of our strained relations between countries continued, decade after decade. Attitudes softened for some and travel restrictions opened the slightest little crack in recent years with “people to people” exchange programs. Basically this means that tour companies could take Americans to Cuba, legally, if we were on a structured, sort of ‘cultural’ type itinerary (lazing on the beaches and playing in the casinos NOT). These packages have been sort of a trip-of-a-lifetime for those who have been, but most U.S. travelers are unaware this is possible.
Enter the new era of much publicity for Cuba with the U.S. establishing diplomatic relations and related speculation about when travel will really OPEN UP. So now, Cuba is suddenly of interest to many travelers, but options are still very limited. The good news is that there are excellent tour companies who can show us the ‘classic Cuba’ with the vintage cars and the colonial charm of today, which many fear will quickly vanish once our unrestricted travel is allowed. The bad news is that such ‘open’ travel is still a few years away.
If you have an interest in seeing Cuba, before it all changes, here’s an example of a top-of-the-line package from Tauck: http://www.tauck.com/tours/travel-to-cuba/travel-to-cuba-cv-2015.aspx
by Don McCann
When most of us think of a Europe river cruise, we think “Danube”, or “Rhine”, or maybe “Seine”. If you have never visited Portugal, you are in for a treat; or, see a dramatic new side of this beautiful country on the Douro River. Some of the most spectacular river cruise scenery can be found in Portugal along the DOURO River! The river takes you on a winding easterly course between steeply terraced vineyards, stopping at ports of call largely unchanged for centuries with charming town squares, colorful castles, baroque mansions and historic monasteries. At the Spanish border you can indulge in a scenic ride into Spain to visit the medieval city of Salamanca before your leisurely voyage back to Porto.
Sound interesting? Watch the video below.
So Bill Edwards’ Danube cruise has come to an end, but we thought we’d post just a few more of the many wonderful photos from the later portion of the itinerary. Soon we hope to have a post, or two, in the form of his review and observations on this enchanting river cruise itinerary with Scenic Cruises.
Melk Abbey in Austria
Inside the Melk Abbey
Mondsee, Austria – enroute to Sound of Music area
Strauss in Stadtpark, Vienna
Private evening concert performance at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna
Scenic Jasper near Durnstein, Austria
As we mentioned in our last post, Bill Edwards is cruising on the Danube this week onboard the Scenic Jasper and is sending us some sample photos. Enjoy these, as we all wish that we were there with him……….
approaching Vienna in one of many locks along the Danube River
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna
Rack of Lamb, onboard Scenic Jasper
Scenic Jasper approaching Durnstein
One of the Danube’s most picturesque churches in Durnstein
Quaint, charming Durnstein
….let’s all hope Bill sends us some more photos soon!
by Don McCann
This week, our own Bill Edwards is on a preview cruise with Scenic Cruises‘ new ship, the Scenic Jasper, sailing from Budapest to Vienna. Even though Bill is not here yet to share his thoughts and review of the ship & itinerary, he’s been good enough to send back some photos as a preview of this trip. Here are just a few examples to view until he returns next week when he can share some ‘words’ to accompany these great photos………
Scenic Jasper in Budapest
Bill Edwards enjoying the balcony on Scenic Jasper
Scenic Jasper Portabello’s alternative Dining Room
Budpest’s famed Parliment building
Matthias Church in Budapest
Heros’ Square in Budapest
Chain Bridge in Budapest
by Don McCann
Obviously, we love talking about cruises (duh, right?). However, we also love it when we can have a guest cruising expert talk about cruises with our clients. Next week is one of those special times. Sheila Bielich of AMA Waterways is going to be here in our office next Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Sheila is a wealth of information on many destinations worldwide and she always provides for lively, enthusiastic presentation when we are lucky enough to host her. We really hope that those in the DFW area will be able to join us for a great talk on river cruises, both in Europe and some other exotic locations. We’ll have some great wines and cheeses to sample and we’re sure you’ll enjoy the evening (and maybe learn a thing, or too, as well !).
If you wish to RSVP, just click the link here and we’ll see you next week!
One of the most exciting ports of call in the Mediterranean to sail into is Venice. Your ship slowly sails the Grand Canal of Venice, towering over the small restaurants, shops and hotels on each side. The excitement builds as you glide by St. Mark’s Square, a true highlight of your cruise. It brings an air of excitement among your fellow passengers that are all lined up along the ship’s railing. This cruise experience will soon be coming to and end!
The Italian government announced that it will begin limiting ship traffic in the lagoon. That means 20 percent fewer ships in front of the Piazza San Marco (beginning in January), a complete ban on ships larger than 96,000 gross tons (starting next November). Although cruisers might be disappointed, this is a welcome move for the crumbling city of Venice. So if you truly want to enjoy this experience before it goes away…summer and fall Mediterranean are available with Venice on the itinerary! This is truly one of the most beautiful port to sail in and out of and don’t miss it!