Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Armchair tour’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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15 Life Lessons I Learned While on Safari in Africa

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Lessons by Malori – Photos by Barry

15.  No swimming in the pool after dark.  That’s when the hippos swim.

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14.  Never jump in the water with two feet.  You never know what may be lurking underneath.

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13.  You don’t have to run fast.  Just faster than the slowest one in the herd.

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12.  Don’t walk around with a target on your ass.

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11.  It’s nice to see the world from a giraffe’s perspective…unless you are in a lightning storm and you become the lightening rod.

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10.  Sometimes a little rain must fall to make tomorrow that much more beautiful.

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9.  Never get between a mama and her baby.

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8.  The male lion will depend on the female to get him food, unless she is not around to get it for him…then he will do it himself.

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7.  Just as every zebra has its own unique stripes, we are all beautiful in our own way.

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6.  Some of us do our best work at night.

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5.  It’s never a good idea to stray from the pack.

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4.  Hakuna Matata – it means no worries (for the rest of your days).

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3.  It’s good to be the king.

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2.  Sometimes you’re the diner, sometimes you’re the dinner.

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1.  When the Zulu Tribal Chief puts his arms tightly around you and whispers in your ear, “I want to take you as my own,” it’s time to leave the country!

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A Taste of Cuba

Monday, March 16th, 2015

by Malori

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It’s been a week since returning from our Amazing Journeys people-to-people mission to Cuba.  We saw and did so much in just a weeks time, it’s hard to put it all down in words.  Traveling to Cuba is like heading back to the late 1950’s or earlier.  The cars, the hotels, the ideas, billboards of Castro with anti-American posts, it’s hard to believe only 90 miles away is the US where we are free to believe what we want and free to do just about anything we want.  We can get our hands on any kind of goods and services.  The people of Cuba cannot.  For example, for the average citizen, it is illegal for them to have an email address.  Think about that for a moment.  Our guide had only been on the internet four times in his life!  Imagine!  He has seen only four movies, and up until very recently, was not able to step foot into a hotel where foreigners stay. For a country with 11 million people, there are only 750,000 cars and half of those belong to the government.  To purchase a car can cost from $100,000 to $250,000 USD.  The things we take for granted, like a refrigerator, can cost upwards of $5,000 and it is the type and style we used in the 60’s.

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Rationing is still the method used for food distribution.  Eggs are limited to 10 per month.  After that, you need to find it on the black market.  Milk is cut off after a child turns seven years old.  Flour, butter, bread… it’s all rationed.

We got to visit with the Jewish Community and were happy to see that with the help of the JDC and those who contribute to it, the Jewish community, while shrinking to a fraction of the size it was, is a robust community.  Those from the “outside” world have seen to it that there are clothes to wear, medicine to be had and Judaica to hold services for Shabbat and holidays.  The teens are even given the opportunity to go on a Birthright trip to see Israel and develop a strong connection to the country and her people.

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Visiting Cuba is like peeling back the layers of an onion.  We believed it to be a certain way, because that’s what we were taught.  Fidel Castro, Bay of Pigs, Communism.  But what we found is a people who cannot wait to get out and get with modern society.  It’s going to take a lot of time and money to bring Cuba back to her glory days of the 1950’s when time stood still.  Now that the US has lightened restrictions, more people are able to visit (currently there are 500,000 US citizens per year visiting Cuba, with 80% of those being Cuban born American’s, coming back to visit with family).  Next month, the American Embassy will re-open when John Kerry brings the American flag back to Cuba.

The people of Cuba are excited to see what will come of this new beginning.  It brings hope to a country that had, for so many years, none.

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Welcome home from India

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

by Stacey

Wow, what an amazing experience we had in India!  From spectacular sunrises to crazy tuktuk rides through traffic and dining with royalty to a spiritual boatride on the Ganges, I can’t say enough good things about this once in a lifetime trip.  Our group had an insider-look at India – we got to see things that tourists never ever get to see and eat at some very local restaurants and road-side samosa carts.

India saris

Here is the poem I wrote at our Farewell Event highlighting the amazing, silly, memorable, exotic two weeks we spent in India.

Are you ready for an adventure?
It’s off to India we go
for a once in a lifetime journey,
and an escape from the snow.

After a long day of travel,
it’s time for rest and relaxing.
Just kidding – grab your bag and some pani,
it’s time to hit the ground running!

Say “Namaste” to your rickshaw driver
And hang on for your ride.
For once you’re on the road,
There’s nowhere to hide.

Take a look around you and you’ll see14
Lace, rhinestones and saris,
Tobacco, snacks and cloth,
Wires and even monkeys.

Lime soda during lunch/
No, lemons.  Limes.  Oh I don’t know.
Honey balls for dessert
And lunch with spice level zero.

Get ready to shake those hips,
Throw your arms out and strike a post.
Our Bollywood dancing now
Must be finer than the pros.

It’s time for our first flight,
Some of you went to get a snack.
What you learned there was that apparently
You should put your unused ketchup back.

Our approach to the Leela Palace
Was truly one of a kind.
A boat, an escort with a ‘stache,
Musicians and bindis – what a find!

And wait, what is this?
Rose pedals falling from the sky?
Look up, you’ll see a specific
Rose pedal falling guy!

Exploring this stunning city,27
The “city of lakes” as it is known.
But first we must have breakfast,
Don’t eat alone.

Pancakes, French toast, fudge rolls,
Muffins and passion fruit.
Fresh juice, lychees, cheeses,
And amazing dosas to boot.

An early morn at sunrise,
Yoga far from home
At an ashram with our very own guru.
Ommmmmmmmmm…

The Palace tour of Udaipur,
You can see yourself as royal.
Chef Robin making naan
In the kitchen with chefs a-full.

It’s cocktail party time,
Let’s all get up and schmooze!
But wait, it’s formal at the Palace,
We must sit and sip our booze.

Challo everyone,
It’s time to hit the road.
Put on your sports bra and warm up your horn,
It’s off to Pushkar we go!

Went through the town and to the lake,
With chatchkee shops galore.
At our hotel we were greeted by fire breathing,
Balancing acts, spinning skirts and more.

An early rise with camels
To see a meh sunrise.
Jodi left with a gift – on her shoes and jeans.
From the camel.  It was a surprise.

Off to the Pink City.
Jaipur – what a treat.
We toured the City Palace and
Near a snake charmer we took a seat.

The world’s largest sun dial,100
The size it was absurd.
While browsing ‘round our horoscopes,
Ellen got it from a bird.

Back at the hotel,
We blessed the wine, candles and challah
For our first of two very special
Shabbats in India.

After dinner we were taking
A lovely stroll back to the bus.
When – hark!  What is that sound
We hear in front of us?

A wedding!  Through the bright tents
We did advance.  What a bash!
With food and guests and saris,
What a wedding we did crash.

We boarded our next mode of transport –
An elephant to the Amber Fort!
Wobbling back and forth,
We now had pictures to sort.

500 rupees for a picture!
Okay, 200 for one.
300 for the whole album?
Isn’t bargaining oh so fun?

Our next surprise was sure to last
It must be some sort of trick.
We got hennaed by a pro.
It’s beautiful, and boy is she quick!

We had some free time in the market –108
Bracelets, scarves, saris for any weather.
We even saw a goat standing on a tire.
Yes, he was wearing a sweater.

When asked “why, kind sir, is your goat wearing that?”
The man, he didn’t splinter.
He simply looked at us and replied
“It’s because it’s winter”.

It’s time to dine with royalty,
But first another treat.
We’ll don saris as we dine –
This surprise can’t be beat!

In our hotel we primped and prodded
And tucked and folded and pinned.
We’re ready for our special night.
Just top it off with a bind-i.

From dining with the royals,
We’ll head to Ranthambore now.
Weaving and hinking on our drive,
We hit a sacred cow.

Bus games made it better and
Encouraged watching “India TV.
Looking outside the window
And snap, snap, snap your camera with glee.

Stuffed rickshaws, trucks, goats, dogs,
Trash, cow pies and cow butts,
Traffic jams, produce stands,
Bikes, monkeys and men getting haircuts.

We awoke all bright and early110
For our safari drive near the quarry.
We were so lucky, we saw the tiger
In all her stripy glory.

A tour of downtown Ranthambore,
Tasting candy – the chickpea was the best.
passing the train station to see the sight
of two feisty pigs making piglets.

A campfire by the pool with friends,
Bottles of wine and a game.
We learned what cartoon you’d like to be
And in which creative medium you’d have fame.

Back on the bus to Agra,
A pilgrimage on its own
To see the Taj  Mahal in person,
This site is world renown.

The marble glower at sunset,
The perfect Golden Hour.
This monstrous work of architecture
Holds a spiritual power.

Rise and shine, let’s board the bus
It’s off to Delhi we go.
Take a schluff, snap some pics
And look out the window.

Hurry, hurry, don’t be late,
We have to catch our flight!
But first we’ll make a quick pit stop
(despite protesting will all my might).

Robin went to the hospital for some wax
With our Doc, guide and Stace in tow.
The other ladies took a stroll
Right down Embassy Row.

We made it just in time13
For a chai tea at terminal 3
To arrive in Varanasi –
Ravi’s home when he was wee.

Through the Old City of twists and turns
And folks to whom we were so foreign.
This once in a lifetime adventure
Was anything but borin’.

A boat ride down the Ganges,
Past the crematorium and then
Floating even further down
To see bells and candles danced by men.

Just this morning, back on a boat
With music just for us
To experience sunrise in the City of Light
And dipping in for those whom if was a must.

In this peaceful time
As we readied to step off,
We heard “Hi!  Hi!” from a boat
Of people who were from down souff.

We took pics of them and them of us,
Then a surprising round of kisses.
Then hugs, then pleasantries then more kisses,
I think they’ll really miss us.

Our final surprise, a visit to someone
Who Ravi holds so dear.
His brother and his wife welcomed us
As friends from very near.

Double-wide silks, table runners,india flowers
Marble, rugs, paintings and a lovely top.
Boy this group surprised me –
You guys can really shop!

We’ve seen pigs, dogs, goats and elephants,
Camels, cows and monkeys in the streets.
Tigers, peacocks, deer, boars snakes,
Elk, alligators, owls and green parakeets.

We’ve been in busses, tuk tuks, tongas,
Elephants, cruises, and planes.
Rickshaws, boats and camel carts,
Electric vans and even trains.

We’ve covered the north of India
In two weeks, jetting from event to event.
As exhausted as you are,
I’m sure you loved India 200%.

With full hearts and heavy suitcases,
From Ravi, the AJ team and me,
We hope to see you soon
On your next Amazing Journey.

Greetings from the National Parks

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

– by Malori

Greetings from Colorado and Utah where we are visiting some of our country’s greatest treasures, it’s natural beauty. Our National Parks were created to preserve some of the most awe inspiring scenery anywhere. Our group of 18 Amazing Journeyers are hitting the open roads in search of America’s inspirational landscapes. Today we are in Moab, Utah where we visited our collective favorite, Arches National Park. We visited by day and hiked up to and climbed through several of the actual arches here. The red colored sandstone was nature at it’s finest! In the evening, we went back to an area called “Balanced Rock” to watch the sunset, and with the sun setting against the rocks, we observed the natural colors of the rocks changing from orange to “burnt orange” to red. The colors of the mountains in the background were purple and the clouds in the sky turned pink. It was so beautiful, we broke out singing, “America the Beautiful” together.

This morning, some of the group participated in an exhilarating Hummer Safari tour up and over the red rocks and to the face of the cliffs, overlooking the Colorado River below. The rest of the group choose a white water rafting adventure in the Colorado River, and most of the group escaped the 106 degree heat and jumped right in the water, swimming alongside of the raft.

Later, we visited Canyonlands National Park, another beauty in our four-National Parks Tour. The views and vistas were amazing, and the hiking at both of the National Parks in Utah were incredible.

Earlier in the week, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Denver and tomorrow we will be visiting Mesa Verde National Park.

The Amazing Journeyers who choose to come with us on this tour love seeing the majestic landscapes we have had the opportunity to visit.

Our recent tour to Italy was packed full of pleasures and treasures!

Monday, June 24th, 2013

by Malori

The images of Italy in one’s mind are as different as the individual themselves. One may visualize a Tuscan villa set amongst gently rolling hills covered with vineyards and lavender, some picture the greatest art treasures such as Michelangelo’s “David” and fresco covered cathedrals, others see an outdoor café where locals are sipping cappuccino, and some imagine themselves shopping for some of the world’s best leather shoes, handbags and gloves, or amazing ceramic pottery, high fashion or Murano glass. Italy is all this and more! 

Last week, 21 Amazing Journeyers returned from an experience in the Northern Italian countryside, cities, villages and lake districts. We experienced Italy “off the beaten path” as we visited such amazing places as Stresa on Lago Maggiore; Lucca, Siena, and Florence, all in Tuscany; Bologna and the always fascinating city of Venice.


We began the tour with a tasting event with vintage wines and aged balsamic vinegars from Rosario, a local woman who has experienced life in Italy from the time of WW II to today, as she shares her passion and knowledge of the foods, spices and wines of Italy. That was only the beginning of more surprises we had in store for us on our journey.

One of the highlights for many of the group was our day spent in a Tuscan villa where we had a cooking class and got our hands into the pasta, which we then rolled out like pros and enjoyed at lunch. We watched a demonstration by our personal chef of a fabulous dessert, which we also enjoyed later, along with the wines we saw them make and then tasted.

Tasting the meats of Bologna (I searched for the statue of Oscar Mayer but he was nowhere to be found!) and the cheeses of Parma were unparalleled. Along with wines, our tour of Bologna was nearly complete. We also saw the University of Bologna where the oldest Torah scroll in the history of the world was just found and dated. It had been in the library there for centuries!

Walking tours of Lucca, Siena, Florence and Venice provided us the insight to experience the rich history of the people of Italy and their culture. With lots of free time in each, we filled our days with exploration, shopping and photography, along with enjoyable lunches in some of the best Trattoria’s, where “Mama” still does the cooking.

Portofino and the Cinque Terra were enjoyed by the entire group. Five fishing villages spread out along the Ligurian Coast as they have been for centuries, connected only by train. Some in the group visited two villages, others three and a few saw four villages. This was true and untouched Italy.

Many in the group vowed to taste the flavors of Italy on a daily basis: some swore to have a gelato every day, others began each day with a cappuccino, some decided to have a pizza-a-day, while others honed in on wine each and every day. Whether your passion was tasting the unusual or comparing the typical, none of us went home disappointed. The foods and wines of Italy are always amazing! 

For those who just returned from our Italy’s Treasures tour, your experiences will provide memories you will never forget. If you are heading to Italy with us on our Cruise the Med trip next month, get ready for an opportunity to fill your senses with amazement! Our advise to you—leave room in your suitcase…you’ll be coming home with lots of new-found delights!

Slicha, Bevakasha

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

If you thought New Yorkers were tough, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve been to Israel. One of the first phrases we learned in Hebrew was “slicha, bevakasha”, or “excuse me, please”. So anywhere we went, we were saying “slicha, slicha, slicha”. It’s hard to move around without bumping into people… Israel is a wonderfully crowded place.

 

We squeezed our ways past people, cars, and bikes as we went on our food tasting tour in Tel Aviv. We wiggled our way into the Western Wall, passing all of the orthodox who came from near and far to pray. We even ventured to the shuk (market) in Jerusalem on Shabbat! Yes, on Shabbat. What are we, crazy? All of Jerusalem goes to the shuk to shop for their challah, fish, and vegetables for Shabbat, not to mention their chalvah, wine, dried fruits, and more, oy! I think all of Jerusalem was there at the same time! So we “slicha-ed” our way through the shuk, going from stall to stall for our “Shuk Bites” where we tried everything from cheese and burekas to ice cream and fruity drinks. It was definitely an experience!

Unexpectedly, most of the group decided that our visit up north to the Golan Heights was the favorite part of our trip. Why you ask? It was so relaaaaaxing! We stayed at a wonderful kibbutz. A kibbutz? “So you woke up at 4am and picked oranges?” No no, don’t be silly, it was a beautiful kibbutz with a lot of smaller buildings on their luscious, green property. Meals there were plentiful and delicious, the rooms were lovely and best of all, we had an AJ exclusive party!


The Golan Heights were amazing! We went on a jeep ride through the fields and right next to the Syrian border where we saw IDF Reservists who had just been called into action. We saw the former borders and how the land had been transformed since becoming part of Israel. We went rafting on the River Jordan and enjoyed the beautiful greenery as we floated down. Okay, it’s more like a lazy river with some tree obstacles. One of our highlights? We were lucky enough to have dinner with some current IDF soldiers! These are 18 and 19 year olds who are in Intelligence, protecting the Jewish homeland. That dinner was so special; it brought Israel close to home. We imagined our friends, our nieces, nephews and our children in their shoes and we quickly understood how amazingly brave and mature these teenagers are.

Overall, our Golan Heights experience was life-changing. It’s a different way of life, different from the “slicha, bevakashas” that we did in the big cities. Don’t get me wrong, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are “must-sees” on any trip to Israel and there is so much to do. Part of traveling is getting to know the people and culture through small interactions. But there was just something special about the relaxing nature of the Golan Heights. Being so close to Syria and Lebanon yet feeling safe, peaceful, and relaxed is an amazing feeling. Israel has that effect – you know it’s a political hot-spot, but you feel safe, like you belong.

So “slicha” if I’m coming off too forward, but if you haven’t been to Israel yet, you must go. And while you’re there, “slicha” your way through the cities and then up to the Golan Heights. “Beavkasha”. You’ll be glad you did.

Our first week in Southeast Asia

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

As we countdown to 2013, Amazing Journeys and 92 Jewish Singles from around the world have been exploring all that Southeast Asia has to offer.  We still have over a week to go on our cruise but check out some of the incredible sights we have already seen!

My Life as a Sailor

Monday, November 26th, 2012

My life as a sailor

Some may call it a “Busman’s Holiday,” I call it a Dream Vacation. Working in tourism, I have the opportunity to perform my job on many cruise ships. My friends and family picture me with a pina colada in hand, plugged into my ipod, lounging on a deck chair poolside. Those who travel with me know otherwise. Free time is rare. Most breakfasts and many lunches are taken in my stateroom as I am working out the logistics for the next event or shore excursion, writing poems or awards, or planning next year’s trips.

So, after much convincing, I finally got Barry to run away with me for two weeks on a transatlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami. Every cruise line needs to get their ships from one part of the world to another for the start of the season in another destination. During late November and early December, the cruise lines move a good number of vessels from Europe to the Caribbean and South America for the warm weather months. The rates are amazing as they fill the ship with passengers who don’t mind the repositioning itineraries, filled with many days at sea. Our schedule included three ports in Spain including the island of Mallorca, Malaga and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. We were to have a day at sea in between each port, and then seven days from the Canary Islands to Miami.

One of our Amazing Journeys mantras is “everything is subject to change” and it certainly did. As we pulled away from Barcelona on our brand new ship, Celebrity Cruises’ Reflection, we were informed that the ship was performing slower than it should, and in order to get to Miami in two weeks time, we needed to cut out a port, Tenerife. So instead of the last seven days at sea, the new itinerary gave us nine straight days at sea!

On the Costa del Sol onboard our home for the next 9 days at sea. Next stop Miami.

We began in Barcelona on Sunday and enjoyed Palma de Mallorca, where we walked the narrow streets, drank sangria and tasted wonderful pastries made by hand at a traditional bakery. We had our first day at sea before arriving in Malaga. When we arrived there, we took a taxi to Puerto Banus and Marbella. I have wanted to see Marbella and after several visits to Spain, never quite got there, although I was close. I really loved Marbella, an Old Town with narrow streets, beautiful Spanish and Moorish architecture, painted tile street signs, wrought iron balconies, fountains and statues and more. I love walking around these streets – it is the real Europe. Beyond the Old Town, we walked along the boardwalk along the sea. The sun was shining and the day was a perfect 70ish degrees. We ate at a local bogeta (bar?) with olives, manchego cheese and bread, before heading back to Malaga and to our ship. You didn’t want to be late and miss this one – next stop – Miami, 3,927 miles away! Once onboard, the crew battened down the hatches for a long ride home – 9 straight sea days. Everyone seemed to head to the back of the ship as we pulled away to see the last bits of land before it became a distant “dot” left behind. We were all settling in to the idea that we would not see land again for 9 days.

Those onboard seem to all be seasoned cruisers and were looking forward to doing nothing more than drinking coffee, enjoying a good book, having some nice conversations, dancing a little, drinking a lot, exercising, eating and relaxing–whatever it is that makes a vacation a vacation. Many here have taken several transatlantic crossings and come back because a) it’s a great deal and b) they enjoy days at sea.

The Activities Staff is equipped with lots of programs and activities, great entertainment, lectures, art classes and more.

Barry signed up for the Egg Drop contest. He will be dropping eggs from Deck 7 to a target on Deck 3 in the Center Lobby and hoping they won’t break. To do this, he has to find “recycled” materials from around the ship in which to protect his eggs from breaking during the drop and landing.

Christening Celebrity Reflection before we head across the Atlantic on her way to Miami

For the first three days, it appeared we were never too far from land. Since leaving the Straits of Gibraltar a few days ago (I have totally lost track of time – all I know is that when it becomes December, I have to get off), we have sailed off the coast of Morocco, then the Canary Islands, then passing the Azores. Look them up on a map. There are so many islands everywhere! The weather in the North Atlantic was around 68 degrees…much warmer than we expected! It is here in the Atlantic that the Northern Currents meet the Southern currents. This is the very spot where hurricanes originate.

As I write this blog, it is now day five of nine sea days in a row. The Captain tells us today we are at our halfway point and in just two days we will be entering Caribbean waters. Each day the weather continues to get warmer with more sunny days. The pool is getting more and more crowded with passengers. Every two days we add another hour to our day by turning our clocks back before we go to sleep. No need to worry about adjusting to the time when we get home, we are adjusting one hour at a time.

When I travel with groups, I rarely get to see the onboard entertainment, including the acappella singers or guitarist, or piano player. Here, not only have I heard their music many times, I already know all of the songs! We are on a first name basis with the performers, the staff and even the Captain! We find the Captain sitting at the Café with passengers, enjoying coffee, laughing and talking. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere.

The passengers onboard really get it. Don’t feel like dressing up for formal night? No problem, do as you please. No one here needs to be “entertained.” Most knew the program they were signing up for and are happy treating the ship as if they were in their own backyard, on a relaxing afternoon.

It’s not for everyone though. One couple told me they were going to put in an application to work onboard, so they would have something to do.

Most here are past passengers. Of the 2,950 passengers on this full sailing, 2,500 are past passengers. Of those, 1,400 are Elite Members of the Captain’s Club (frequent traveler program). These are those passengers with 10 cruises or more on Celebrity. Generally for these passengers, there is a club that is open from 5pm – 7pm with complimentary drinks and hors ‘d’oeuvres. Because there are so many of us and no onboard lounge is large enough, they give each of us three drink coupons each night to use at whatever bar we choose. Each night from 5 – 7pm every bar is packed with passengers and their free drink coupons.

Is a Transatlantic sailing or other repositioning cruise for you? Let us know! The price is right, that’s for sure. They are all two weeks in length, with a full week at sea and a full week of a “regular cruise itinerary” with port days and sea days. Generally you could get a cruise like this for about $50 pp per day, based on double occupancy (plus tax, gratuities and airfare). Really reasonable, right? But you have to love sea days and be comfortable with lots of down time. Still, with 15 bars, 10 restaurant choices, a fantastic exercise facility and spa, pools and jacuzzi’s, not to mention all of the entertainment, bars and restaurants…there is so much going on to pass the days away.

I have wanted to do this for a really long time and I’m so glad I did it. Still, with 4 straight sea days behind us and 5 more to go, it’s a long time at sea. WILSON!!!!

But honestly, we are loving it. As this is my 99th cruise, having had this experience, I can now finally call myself a true sailor!

Our first few days on the Black Sea

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Amazing Journeys and 65 amazing travelers have started our vacation, exploring the countries surrounding the Black Sea.  Starting out in Istanbul, Turkey we sailed on the Azamara Quest to Varna, Bulgaria on Monday and are exploring Constanta, Romania today.  We have had beautiful warm weather so far and are looking forward to a few days in different cities of Ukraine coming up next.  Here’s a few pictures of our amazing journey so far!

Preparing for China

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

As our travelers prepare for their upcoming journey to China, there are a lot of things to consider. What should I wear? What should I buy? What will I eat? In preparation for our trip, we wanted to highlight a few of the differences that will be noticed along our travels through China.

Food
The American version of Chinese food and the Chinese version of Chinese food are quite different. The American version is catered more towards our taste buds and aren’t quite as risky when it comes to ingredients. We are also looking forward to becoming skilled chopstickers.
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Drinks
The Chinese culture places an emphasis on tea, specifically the tea pouring ceremony. As opposed to the American coffee ritual of running down the street to your local Starbucks , there is a specific science and precision to the ceremony which is very unique to take part in.
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Bathrooms
As our travelers have already been warned, there is a noticeable difference between Western bathrooms and Eastern bathrooms – mainly, the seat! It takes some practice and balance to master the Eastern toilet but we are looking forward to the challenge and know that we will all come home having mastered the squat and having tones glutes to prove it!
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Height
For those of us who are taller than the average American, it is quite an experience to walk around China – you feel a little like Godzilla. I am 5’9” so I am 6.5 inches taller than the average Chinese woman. The average Chinese man is 5’5” as compared to the average American man at 5’10”.

Language
As many of us have learned throughout years of travel, there is often a language barrier that makes travel fun. Sometimes you are able to follow along because of the Spanish classes that you took in high school or you can kind of figure out what a sign says because words are similar to English. This, however, is not the case in China. The language, the letters, the signs – they are all in a completely different language that we are going to have fun interacting with.
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This will be an exotic adventure to a land very far away, with people and experiences unlike anything found at home. We look forward to reporting back all of the exciting and interesting differences that we experience while diving into the Chinese culture.