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Cruising News - Destinations Europe.

Feb 7, 2010

Backroads Backroads, which first offered biking itineraries among the grand chteaux of the Loire Valley 22 years ago, is offering more than 50 active itineraries in 17 European countries, designed to showcase the distinctive character of each region. New to the Backroads European roster in 2010 is Dordogne and Bordeaux Biking, highlighted by prehistoric cave paintings at Font du Gaume, the fortified village of St-milion (whose history dates back to the Second Century) and bike rides among world-famous Grand Cru vineyards. On the new Spain Biking trip, cyclists journey from Barcelona to the Pyrnes and on to Costa Brava, with hearty climbs in the mountains, peaceful rides alongside miles of Mediterranean beaches, Catalan cuisine and Salvador DaliOs art. The new Portugal Biking trip takes Backroads travelers from the regionOs pastoral heartland to the Douro Valley, famed for its port wine, while showcasing Roman ruins, Peneda-Gers National Park and Guimar - es, the birthplace of Portugal. Perennial favorites include biking and multisport trips along CroatiaOs Dalmatian Coast; a biking journey off the beaten path in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland; a trio of itineraries in Ireland; walking and hiking in the Czech Republic and Austria; multisport and hiking trips in Switzerland; as well as an assortment in Tuscany, in sunny Provence and in Puglia on the Adriatic coast. Clients are offered a choice of Premiere or Casual Inns Trips. For more information, call 800-462-2848 or visit www.backroads.com. Feb 3, 2010

Butterfield & Robinson Butterfield & Robinson is offering self-guided trips, itineraries similar to the operators traditional programs in scope, service and style, but are designed without a B&R guide. Examples include Ten Spot: Ten Things You Didn't Know About the Amalfi Coast, which showcases Almafi's ancient paths, local cuisine and Mediterranean sky. The package is priced USD7,995 per person. Also offered is the self-guided A Day in the Life: Of Prague to Vienna Biking. For more information, visit www.butterfield.com. Feb 4, 2010

Cerf Island An excursion to Cerf Island is more attractive again for visitors to Mahe since Villa de Cerf is now reportedly open again on a daily basis, offering what they claim to be the best Creole food anywhere in the islands. Visitors, who should be pre-book their trip, will be transferred by boat to and from the island and leave from the main island at 1130 hours and return at 1530 hours after an opulent lunch. The reopening of Cerf is considered in line with the efforts of the tourist board to add attractions and create a wider variety of things to do and see across the archipelago by the Seychelles Tourist Board (STB). Visit the Seychelles Tourist Board website for more details about the island's attractions and find contact details for activities, places to visit, resorts, hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants working hand in hand with STB via www.seychelles.travel . Feb 6, 2010

Greece For many years, Greece has had a reputation as one of the most exotic, remote and diverse nations in Europe. A combination of mountainous mainland and intimate islands with pure white beaches, Greece may have struck travelers as an out-of-reach destination. But times are changing. With tour operators cutting prices on packages all over the world, travelers have been able to find exceptional value to destinations considered inaccessible before the recession. And while the classic destinations (London, Paris, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc.) will always beckon, the recent price cuts and value-adds have put Greece back on the tourist map. Feb 2, 2010

Hotel Plaza Athne The second annual Alain Ducasse Market will take place at Hotel Plaza Athne in Paris on April 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The renowned executive chef, who opened Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athne in September 2000, has arranged for his 15 favorite food suppliers throughout France to display pick-of-the-season produce and other provisions in the garden courtyard of the Dorchester Collection address on Avenue Montaigne. The Alain Ducasse Market is open to the public and will unfold for foodies and gourmets. Market-goers will have access to local purveyors of French produce and the freshest products including butter, cheeses, mushrooms, wild strawberries, fish, poultry and a range of fresh-grown vegetables. The market will be displayed in the hotelOs courtyard amid a setting created just for the event by Pascale Benhamou, who redesigned La Galerie des Gobelins at Plaza Athne. While nothing will be sold at the Alain Ducasse Market, there will be plenty of opportunity to celebrate sustainable food, with tastings and tips on cooking and preservation to bring out the best in the kitchen. Attendees will also receive the purveyorsO addresses where they can directly purchase the freshest products in France. ItOs an opportunity to get the contact information of the same farmers, butchers, poulterers, fishmongers and cheese sellers who supply Ducasse himself. The event is complimentary and open to the public. Spring rates at Hotel Plaza Athne begin at 750 euros (USD1,030) in a superior room accommodation. For more information, call 800-650-1842 or visit www.plaza-athenee-paris.com. Feb 5, 2010

Hurtigruten Line Hurtigruten has announced pricing specials on its spring and summer exploration cruises to some of the worldOs most remote destinations. If booked by April 31, all offer savings of 25 percent on the price of suites on the Fram and free air from New YorkOs JFK or NewarkOs Liberty International Airport. Hurtigruten is also allowing the discount to be combined with two other offers -- the 10 percent Repeater Discount for passengers who sailed with Hurtigruten in the past three years, and a USD50 shipboard credit for AARP and AAA members. Add-on airfares from dozens of North American gateways range from USD100 to USD600. Included cruises are three Greenland September departures; discounted rates for suites are USD5,649 to USD9,314 per person, double. The 11-day May 29 OClimate PilgrimageO to Northern Norway and the Arctic island of Spitsbergen is priced from USD5,108 to USD7,137 for suites (other cabin grades on this cruise are reduced by 15 percent and donOt include free air; they are priced from USD4,100 to USD5,263). The new 11-day OBaltic AdventureO visits Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Poland; suite fares are USD4,325 to USD5,522. The 12,700-ton, eight-deck Fram boasts an Internet caf, a glass-enclosed observation salon, a restaurant with ocean views, wellness center with saunas, a work-out room and two glass-screened heated outdoor whirlpools. Suites include seating areas, some with two rooms, TV, mini bar and queen-size beds. All sailings include three meals daily aboard ship, services of naturalist guides, specified land excursions and PolarCirkel excursions, ship transfers, government fees, cruise taxes and port charges. Airline fuel surcharges, air taxes and ticketing fees are additional. For more information, call 800-323-7436 or visit www.hurtigruten.us. Feb 5, 2010

London The Discover Greenwich Center is an interpretation and education center set to open at the Old Royal Naval College in spring 2010. Using artifacts, artwork, film and stories of lives past and present, the center will explore the significance of the Old Royal Naval College and Maritime Greenwich. The project also includes the new micro-brewery below. www.oldroyalnavalcollege.org. The Old Brewery opens in Greenwich in March with a bar and restaurant. The building has been reconstructed on the same site as the original brewery from 1717 which supplied beer to the pensioned sailors of the Royal Hospital over 300 years ago. www.meantimebrewing.com. Feb 2, 2010

London The Jewish Museum is nearing the end of a GBP10 million ($16 million) transformation, which will create a new museum and a place to explore culture, heritage and identity. Due to reopen in Camden Town in early 2010, the new galleries will engage with people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths and bring the collections to life by placing the Jewish story into the wider context of British history. For more information, visit www.jewishmuseum.org.uk . For general destination information, visit www.visitlondon.com. Feb 2, 2010

Northern Lights Norse mythology claims that the Northern Lights are the flashes of light emanating from the armor of valkyrie warriors. Asians associate the dancing colors of the lights with fertility, and many Japanese believe a child conceived under the aurora will be lucky. Native Samis feel the lights have a special quality to help solve disagreements. While the Northern Lights are a scientific phenomenon caused by particles from the sun and space colliding with gases in the earth's atmosphere, they have captured the imagination of visitors for generations. Innovation Norway -- a governmental entity that promotes Norwegian industry and Norway as a tourist destination -- is inviting Americans to experience the Northern Lights through new travel packages and an online marketing campaign. The Northern Lights generally occur within a 1,550 mile radius of the magnetic north pole. The coasts of the Norwegian counties of Nordland, Troms and Finnmark lay where occurrence is greatest, making northern Norway a prime destination for viewing the colorful bands of light in the night sky, particularly in the months of February and March. Feb 1, 2010

Paris Though Paris is rarely spotlighted during Black History Month, a tour with Black Paris ToursO founder Ricki Stevenson reveals that African Americans have influenced a significant part of the romantic and historic City of Light. On the full-day seven-hour walking/metro/bus tour (a two-thirds day option is also available), travelers begin their learning at the Arc de Triomphe where the 369th regiment OHarlem HellfightersO were due to receive a heroOs welcome following World War I. They next continue down the Champs-Elyses to the former U.S. Embassy where in 1787 Thomas Jefferson and the black and beautiful Sally Hemings began their 38-year relationship. Participants then visit the new monument honoring one of NapoleonOs greatest generals, Haitian-born Thomas Alexandre Dumas, and another memorializing his son Alexandre Dumas, one of the most proliferate writers in French history. The tour then visits the theater where Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet and a cast of young African American performers exploded onto stage in 1925. Following lunch, the group heads north to Barbs-Rochechouart where they stroll through OLittle Africa,O an area that resembles Dakar or Abidjan. The day ends with mint tea and beignets in La Goutte d'Or and a climb to the highest point in Paris, Montmartre, known as the OHarlem of ParisO in the 1920s and 1930s given the expatriate African American community of jazz musicians that thrived in the district and helped turn the city into the major jazz capital it remains today. The full-day tour starts at USD95 euros per person, excluding lunch, and the two-thirds day tour starts at USD70 euros per person. Children under 13 are USD30 euros. Upon purchasing the OParis Black Tour,O travelers will receive their Air Tahiti Nui airfare promo code for the 10 percent discount. For more information on Air Tahiti Nui and to book the OParis Black TourO special, call 877-824-4846 or visit www.airtahitinui-usa.com/parisblacktour. Feb 4, 2010

Paris As perfect days go, they donOt come much better than gliding along a canal in the south of France and being serenaded by a raven-headed beauty with the voice of a diva. She, whoever she was, suddenly appeared from a window of a boat moored on the Canal du Midi and gave a rousing rendition of the classic "O Sole Mio." And then the diva was gone as quickly as she appeared. It was the talking point for days as our barge [ETH] Enchante [ETH] gently cruised along the plane tree-lined canal, barely raising a ripple. Our journey began at Beziers, where Enchante queued for her turn to tackle the seven locks of Fonseranes, considered a remarkable technical feat at the time and conceived by a French baron, Pierre-Paul Riquet. A passionate man, he amassed a fortune collecting taxes, which he totally invested in the realization of his dream and biggest adventure of his life - building the Canal du Midi. It was constructed during the reign of Louis X1V and put into service in 1681. The canal - part of a waterway system linking the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean [ETH] was declared a World Heritage site in 1996 and rates alongside FranceOs great monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower and the PopesO Palaces in Avignon. Over the past few years, the growth of inland waterway tourism in France [ETH] and elsewhere in Europe [ETH] has been astonishingly rapid. The cruiser/barge hire companies that have been set up over the entire length of the Canal du Midi have exploited this to the fullest. The 10,000 passages a year through the Fonseranes locks show the extent of this unprecedented canal tourism. Feb 1, 2010

Smithsonian Journeys Smithsonian Journeys Travel Adventures, a brand created by the partnership of Collette Vacations, the oldest major tour operator in the U.S., and Smithsonian Journeys, released 12 value-priced educational programs for 2010 at the 24th annual Educational Travel Conference in Providence, R.I. The custom-crafted tours are created for adventurous travelers motivated by education and curiosity; flexibility and economical rates distinguish the vacation line. For 2010, unique destinations like Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia, Turkey, Iceland, and Yucatan diversify the brand, along with perennial favorites like Washington, D.C. and Newfoundland, Canada. And from now until April 30, 2010, travelers who book an air-inclusive Smithsonian Journeys Travel Adventures tour will receive from USD50 to USD250 off depending on the specific tour. Along with Otravel beyond the ordinaryO destinations, complimentary roundtrip home to airport sedan service, an advantage that no other major U.S. tour operator can offer, is a key personalized component that adds value to these tours. The Educational Travel Conference is going on now through Feb. 6, and is the annual meeting of The Educational Travel Community (ETC). ETC is a community of practice for organizations worldwide dedicated to advancing lifelong learning and the understanding of international relations through travel. For more information, visit www.collettevacations.com/agents. Feb 5, 2010

St Moritz World On Skis is offering a five-night air/hotel ski package including air from New York to St. Moritz, Switzerland, with fuel surcharges, priced from USD1,393. Also included are roundtrip rail transfers and breakfast daily. A Washington, D.C. departure is available. Book by Feb. 28 and save 5 percent on the land portion of the trip. The offer includes roundtrip airfare from New York JFK to Zurich (via United or Lufthansa Airlines) including fuel surcharges; roundtrip rail transfers from Zurich to St. Moritz, and five nightsO hotel stay (Sunday through Friday), including hotel taxes and service charges and breakfast daily. Washington, D.C. departure, with nonstop flights from Dulles on United, is an additional USD214 per person. Hotel options include the three-star Hotel Laudinella for Feb. 27 to Apr 9 from USD1,393; four-star Hotel Monopol, March 14 to April 17, from USD1,709; and five-star Kempinski Grand Hotel Des Baines, March 14 to April 5, from USD2,448. For more information, call 866-678-5858 or visit www.WorldOnSkis.com. Feb 4, 2010

Trafalgar Tours, Qantas Airways Trafalgar Tours and Qantas Airways are joining together to launch a special offer on the May 5 departure of the Contrasts of Australia & New Zealand. Travelers booking by Feb. 28 can save USD1,200 per couple, as the combined land tour and air price has been reduced from USD5,824 per person to USD5,224. The 18-day itinerary juxtaposes modern Sydney and Melbourne with Maori culture, and contrasts the cooler Southern Alps and Franz Josef Glacier with tropical Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. The package includes round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles on Qantas; all intra-tour air flights; round-trip airport transfers; sightseeing, special features and scenic highlights as indicated in the itinerary; meals as indicated in the itinerary; first class travel amenities as highlighted below; airline fuel surcharges; and all hotel taxes. Sightseeing highlights in New Zealand include Auckland, Waitomo, Rotorua, Valley Springs, TranzAlpine, Franz Josef, Milford Sound, Mount Cook, Milford Sound, Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. In Australia, sightseeing includes Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens and Queen Victoria; the Great Barrier Reef with a full-day cruise; and Sydney, with sightseeing that includes the Harbor Bridge, Opera House, Darling Harbor and a luncheon cruise on Sydney Harbor. In addition, Trafalgar offers their exclusive Be My Guest authentic local dining experience in both Christchurch and Sydney. In Christchurch, you will be invited in to the home of direct descendants of the first non-native New Zealanders who arrived in Christchurch by ship in 1850. You will be given a personal tour of the historic home and gardens before enjoying a home-cooked dinner and local wines. In Sydney, you will dine at the renowned Doyle family's Watsons Bay Hotel, a delightful Art Deco building on the beachfront with sweeping outdoor decks and panoramic views. For more information, call 866-544-4434 or visit www.trafalgartours.com. Feb 4, 2010

Virgin Vacations Virgin Vacations is offering a Paris At Its Best package starting at USD639 per person for six nights from New York City. Go to www.Virgin-Vacations.com , pick your departure date and enter the promotional code OVVFR2O for stays from Feb. 3 until June 30. For those six nights you will enjoy complimentary breakfast every morning and stay in a tourist-class hotel with roundtrip flights being offered by an available carrier. Departures are available from key Virgin gateways with prices starting at USD847 from Boston, USD857 from Washington, D.C., USD1,015 from Los Angeles, USD1,015 from San Francisco, USD917 from Chicago, or USD937 from Miami. Summer Deals to Paris start at USD829 per person from April 1[ETH]May 23 and USD1,119 per person from May 24 to June 30. Booking deadline is Feb. 10. 866-674-6209 or www.virgin-vacations.com. Feb 5, 2010

Virgin Vacations Virgin Vacations is offering London Escape starting at USD599 and the four-night Rome Escape starting at USD639. Also the new Virgin-Vacations.com makes it easy to customize your trip with new functions to add to your itinerary, upgrade your hotel, as well as add extra dates and locales. Booking deadline is Feb. 10. 866-674-6209 or www.virgin-vacations.com. Feb 5, 2010

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Publication:Cruise Guide
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 8, 2010
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