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Who Wants to go to Cuba?!

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

Tauck Tours Cuba

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The Surprising Wonders of the Douro River

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.

Click here to see our special offer! 

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Sights along the Danube ….. just a few more

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 with Scenic River Cruises

Melk Abbey in Austria

Inside the Melk Abbey with Scenic River Cruises

Inside the Melk Abbey

Mondsee, Austria -with Scenic River Cruises

Mondsee, Austria – enroute to Sound of Music area

Salzburg tulips with Scenic River Cruises

Salzburg tulips

Bratislava with Scenic River Cruises

Bratislava

Strauss in Stadtpark, Vienna with Scenic River Cruises

Strauss in Stadtpark, Vienna

Private evening concert performance at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna with Scenic River Cruises

Private evening concert performance at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna

Scenic Jasper with Scenic River Cruises

Scenic Jasper near Durnstein, Austria

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The Danube …. continued

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……….

Danube River lock with Scenic Cruises

approaching Vienna in one of many locks along the Danube River

Vienna with Scenic River Cruises

Stunning Vienna

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna with Scenic Cruises

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna

Rack of Lamb, onboard Scenic Jasper with Scenic Cruises

Rack of Lamb, onboard Scenic Jasper

Durnstein with Scenic Cruises

Scenic Jasper approaching Durnstein

Durnstein church with Scenic Cruises

One of the Danube’s most picturesque churches in Durnstein

Durnstein with Scenic Cruises

Quaint, charming Durnstein

….let’s all hope Bill sends us some more photos soon!

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One Picture is Worth …….

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 with Scenic Cruises

Scenic Jasper in Budapest

Bill Edwards enjoying the balcony on Scenic Jasper with Scenic Cruises

Bill Edwards enjoying the balcony on Scenic Jasper

Scenic Jasper Portabello's alternative Dining Room with Scenic Cruises

Scenic Jasper Portabello’s alternative Dining Room

Budpest's famed Parliment building with Scenic Cruises

Budpest’s famed Parliment building

Matthias Church in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Matthias Church in Budapest

Heros' Square in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Heros’ Square in Budapest

Chain Gate Bridge in Budapest with Scenic Cruises

Chain Bridge in Budapest

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A Special Treat

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!

AMA Waterways in Durnstein

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The Grand Canal of Venice….by John Lane

 

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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! 

 

 

 

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