Cruise Ideas

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Photo courtesy Ken Brooks

The Discovery hold 650 passengers in club-like surroundings.

I am always looking for interesting cruises as I ponder through cruise brochures, magazines and mailings. I will outline of few of those that I have come across recently.

Voyages of Discovery, out of England, using the Discovery will cruise the Baltic Treasures; departing from the U.S. July 3. The 16-day itinerary first includes a two night stay in a London hotel with included city sightseeing and then transfers guests to the port of Harwich to embark on the Discovery for a Baltic cruise. The Discovery is a former Princess Cruises ship of 20,000 gross tons holding 550 passengers in club-like surroundings.

It is British owned, staffed by British officers and a mostly Filipino service crew. From England, the cruise first calls at Copenhagen, Denmark for a day of sightseeing, then on to Stockholm, Sweden followed by a call at Tallinn, Estonia.

From there, the ship continues to St. Petersburg, Russia for a three-day visit using the ship as your hotel. Here, you will want to visit the famous Hermitage containing its world famous art collection. You can also see the summer palace of the tsars as well as other picturesque sights of the area. Perhaps taking in a ballet one evening. An excursion to Moscow is also available on one of the days in port.

Then, the tour cruises to Gdynia, Poland for a visit there, followed by a port call at Warnemunde, Germany for an excursion into Berlin. After leaving Germany, a sail through the Kiel Canal, then back to England with a transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Norma and I have decided to book this cruise with so many sightseeing adventures. If you would like to join us, please call one of my favorite travel agencies, AZ Trails Travel Service in Fountain Hills by calling 1-888-799-4284 for more information and a brochure. Any travel professional can also assist you with additional information and booking.

Another one of my favorite cruise lines is Oceania Cruises, which has three sister ships of 30,000 gross tons holding only 684 passengers in upscale comfort. Each ship features four dining rooms that operate on a non-reserved basis. Its culinary program is the creation of world-renowned master chef Jacques Pepin.

Departing Aug. 16 is an exciting Mediterranean cruise that visits Monte Carlo, Portofino, Florence, Rome, Sorrento/Amalfi, Taormina, Valletta, Athens, Mykonos, Delos, Rhodes and Santorini. The cruise line has priced it as a special offer on a two for one basis with free airfare. Call 1-800-531-5856 for more information or visit the Web site at OceaniaCruises.com/CNT

Another upscale cruise line is Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which features the Seven Seas Mariner on 7-night Alaska Gulf Coast cruises this summer. The ship departs Vancouver, B.C. and cruises the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, Alaska, cruises Tracy Arm and Juneau, then Skagway, Sitka and cruises the Hubbard Glacier to Anchorage where you will disembark and return home by air. Right now they are offering two for one fares. The second person cruises free. Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships feature all suite accommodations. On the Web find out more at Regent SevenSeasCruises.com.

Here is an itinerary that I might take later in the season. Celebrity Cruises’ deluxe ship Millennium is offering what is described as a 12-day Coastal Wine Cruise departing Vancouver, B.C. Sept. 28. It calls at Nanaimo, B.C., Victoria, B.C., Seattle, Wash. and Astoria, Ore. There are two full days in San Francisco, and then it’s on to Monterey, a stop for a day at Catalina Island and arriving in Los Angeles Oct. 10. Visit the Web at CelebrityCruises.com. for more details.

A rather new cruise line is Azamara Cruises, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and featuring two very fine 30,000-ton ships, the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Each ship carries 694 guests in upscale surroundings with a dress code of “country club” casual. No ties required for the men. Hurray! Each has three dining areas, all on a complimentary basis. The food is close to gourmet standards. The two ships travel the world. You’ll be cruising with mostly experienced travelers who you will find most interesting. With Azamara, you can choose cruises in Asia, Caribbean and Panama Canal, Europe as well as experiencing a transatlantic voyage. On Dec. 18 you can depart Miami on the Azamara Journey for a Panama Canal 16-night itinerary to San Diego.

You will visit Port Antonio, Jamaica, Cartagena, Colombia, transit the Canal, then call at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, Huatulco, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico up to San Diego. This can be your Christmas cruise. The ship features inside, outside and veranda staterooms along with very nice suites. Obtain more information on the web at Azamaracruises.com.

The very fine Holland America Line can give you a 7-night Mexico cruise on their Veendam or Oosterdam from San Diego departing Oct. 10 and Dec. 16. The cruise will call at Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas returning to San Diego. I personally like San Diego departures because I can drive the car easily to the city, park near the dock and sail away. It’s the same easy drive home. You can fly into the San Diego airport and the cruise dock is only a short distance away. The Veendam can also sail you to the tip of South America on a 16-night voyage, which will take you from Santiago, Chile (port of Valparaiso) down to Puerto Montt, the Darwin Channel and Fjords, Amalia Glacier, the passage through the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn, Port Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, ending in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is a fantastic itinerary you will never forget. It takes almost three days to pass through the Strait of Magellan area and you will be able to almost touch the shoreline in places and see the penguins. It’s almost like cruising through the Canadian Rockies if one could. Buenos Aires is my favorite South American city and cruising into Rio is a photo treat.

Holland America also offers 15-day cruises from San Diego roundtrip to the Hawaiian Islands this fall. Its Zaandam offers a visit to four islands with plenty of sea days to relax, read, enjoy movies, swim, perhaps play in the casino, and a chance to enjoy the transit on the beautiful blue Pacific. I plan to do this cruise, departing Dec. 7 on a special voyage commerating Dec. 7, 1941 with a salute to the troops everywhere. I’ll be writing about this soon with more information.

No matter where you choose to cruise, you’ll agree it is one of the best methods of travel. Easy, great travel value, luxury, fine service, and wonderful food. You can compare a cruise with most land vacations that may interest you and after you do the math, you’ll agree, cruising is the best value because it is so inclusive — 90 percent of your vacation is paid up front before you leave home. How about that. Let them do the ship driving, cooking, cleaning, entertaining and you relax and enjoy.

Any travel professional can assist you with more information and booking the cruises I have mentioned. Bon Voyage.

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