Must-take Trips Click below to read more about these trips of a lifetime!
As I pondered my next small group experience to offer my clients, one of my favorite couples reached out with the idea of exploring with the company, Le Boat. I reached out immediately, learning that they are a willing partner and could arrange this small group adventure for me whenever I was ready to choose the destination they offer. I love it!
We have lots of ski and pontoon lake boating experience, this would be a really great way to travel with like-minded people. Casual, very affordable, and unique, so I think you might like the idea as well. If so, read on!
Le Boat has many different destinations and boats to choose from. You will be your own captain, so not a problem for my group at all. In fact, I expect we will be fighting over who will captain at times! Browse the website as soon as you can, so you can see for yourself. I am torn between Scotland and the Netherlands, for example. But planning Amsterdam area for 2020. You in?
Here are the inclusions
- Rental of the boat and its onboard equipment
- A fully equipped kitchen
- Towels and linen for all passengers
- A boat handling demonstration prior to departure
- Technical support
- On-board maps and visitor information
What’s NOT included in the price?
- Optional vacation extras
- Boat damage waiver
- Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) – charged by the engine hour
- Passage through locks (small fee applies – payable locally)
- Travel to and from the base(s)
- Waterside services if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
- Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
- Food and drink
I love the look and interior of the Classique. Giving you the link here so you can see what she’s like. And here is the Mystique, another wonderful choice if 6-8 passengers. We would captain our boat(s). Wouldn’t it be amazing to get a group of three boats and travel in a pack? Reach out to me ASAP if you want to be on this short list. I believe I have 6 passengers ready to go in May or June of 2020.
Below is a photo of one route option, but of course we would choose where and when we dock, and what kinds of activities we would like to do. I would love to bike in the area a few days, for example. Wine and chocolate tasting, to be sure. Food experiences. I hope to have at least a couple of great cooks with us, but we can all share our cooking skills, or plan to dine out every evening. think of the fresh seafood we will have!
Was that enough to whet your appetite? Below, from Le Boat website.
” We’re the No. 1 provider of boating vacations on the beautiful rivers, lakes and canals of Europe and Canada. We have the world’s largest fleet of self-drive boats and the widest choice of fabulous boating destinations to choose from!”
“With 50 years on the water we’ve been doing this for a long time, so you can rely on us to offer exceptional service and a wealth of helpful advice and knowledge to ensure you have the best time on the water.”
“Not many of our new customers have driven a boat before. However, they quickly realize how easy it is and soon become confident navigating the waterways. Our base teams will show you everything you need know!”
Don’t delay if you would like to cruise the canals of Amsterdam and beyond. We would love to have you join the fun!
The great land called Alaska is waiting to be explored. An Alaska cruise-tour is by far the best way to experience this incredible place! I have had the pleasure of seeing Alaska by cruise twice, once with Celebrity from Vancouver and once with Norwegian from Seattle, and finally a self arranged land tour from Anchorage to Homer and Denali National Park.
I highly reccommend you include Mt.McKinley, Anchorage, Talkeetna, and the spectacular scenery of the stunning Kenai Peninsula. Yes, it will cost more in both time and money, but it would be a bit like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower or Rome and missing the Coliseum!
Should your budget allow there are several luxury lines offering Alaska in 2018 and 2019. This link will share with you your choices in 2018 of luxury accommodations, and as always, I would love to guide you in your decision on how to enjoy Alaska YOUR way. The inclusive nature and the incredible tour offerings alone make this a great value for discerning travelers.
For families and those on a tighter budget, look here for suggestions on matching your needs to the ships and itineraries that best match your travel needs and dreams for this special vacation.
Highlights of a land tour might include a stay in or near the quaint town of Talkeetna, where you can take an optional jet-boat or flight-seeing to witness the majestic Mt. McKinley in all its glory. And a two night stay in Denali, where the Tundra Tour takes you deep into the Denali National Park for encounters with moose, bear or caribou.
Experience both rail and motor coach transportation, allowing for your luggage to be handled all along the way. Hotel Aleyska in Girdwood outside of Anchorage gives you the chance for beautiful hikes on the mountain or a variety of other optional experiences before boarding your ship if you are traveling south. Your transfer to the sea can be either by rail or by motorcoach, and depending on the cruise line and itinerary chosen, ships sail from Whittier or from Seward.
The ports of call along the inside passage are accessible only by air or sea, with the exception of Skagway …the gateway to the Yukon! That helps to explain why cruising is the best way to explore the area. One of my favorite memories from my Alaska adventures is of my kayak trip from Ketchikan. I witnessed a pod of about 30 Dall porpoises cruising at nearly 55 mph, feeding together. AHHHHMAZING! Sad to say, the traditional camera I was using malfunctioned and the shutter only opened a fraction of an inch my entire trip. (I did this one before digital photography was even a thing!) Bummer for sure, but that is just one of the many reasons I had to go back.
Hubbard Glacier…Who would think that watching a glacier would be exhilarating? This is one of the most active in the world, and one of the few that continues to advance. The sights and sounds as your ship slowly turns for all its guests to see are truly a unique and glorious experience. As you watch and listen, while sipping your hot chocolate, you will most definitely “Oooh” and “Ahhhh” with your fellow passengers. And the colors! The blues of the glacial ice are unlike any blue I have ever seen. You can feel the cold from the wall of magnificent ice. This was definitely another highlight for me…can you tell? Some ship itineraries take you to Glacier National Park, which is also magnificent and majestic.
Many of the cruises depart or arrive at the end of the trip to port in one of the most beautiful international cities in the world…Vancouver, British Columbia. Be wise and stay a night or two to enjoy this fascinating city. From the nature of Stanley Park to the shopping, incredible dining and nightlife, this is a destination to explore. Whistler Mountain is nearby, and you can consider adding an additional tour experience by rail that includes the Canadian Rockies…Jasper, Banff and Calgary.
See why I fell in love with Alaska? The possibilities for active exploration are endless in this part of the world. And it’s on our own continent! But if you hope to go this summer, it’s critical that you act soon. Hopefully, one of the best ships still has a suite waiting just for you. Contact me as soon as you read this and I will reserve space on your journey to the Great Land. I am a Master Cruise Counselor, so use my knowledge to your benefit!
Steps to Choosing the Right way for YOU to Experience Alaska
FIRST and most importantly, Call your travel professional!!!
2. Travel Northbound and build the excitement and sometimes save a little money, Southbound to enjoy the land while adjusting to the time change. Do a land only package, cruise only package, round trip inside passage, or, if you have the time and the money, both land and sea! You will need at least 10 nights to do it right.
3. Choose luxury ships for smaller, more intimate experience with lots of inclusions, expedition-style ships for an up close and personal guided cruise with naturalists on board to learn from, or the big ship experience, which is great for extended families and price-conscious folks, or those worried about motion during cruising. (I have some tips to alleviate this)
4. Book early…it’s open sailing to book now for the following summer in 2019 to grab the best cabin locations.
f you are a cruise fan, it’s quite likely that you have already seen the Caribbean and Mexican ports that have the ability to dock the great big ships of today. Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Nassau come to mind. Some of the small ships like the Royal Clipper my group is sailing on from Barbados in January can anchor or dock in some unique ports of call. I must say that, as a former competitive swimmer, the attraction for me to island life is typically all about the ocean swim and pretty beach. Let’s go on a treasure hunt! I will share by following the actual itinerary with Star Clippers.
This is the Easternmost island of the entire Caribbean, and is so British that it has a Trafalgar Square! Fascinating fact: This is the only place in the world outside of America that George Washington visited. The east coast has isolated beaches the color of sunrise, it’s reds sands blew all the way across the ocean from the Sahara in Africa! It’s rum and fun-loving people love the Brit traditions like cricket and high tea. You can visit the Mount Gay Rum Visitors Center for a tour and tasting, and enjoy a nature day in the beautiful Harrison caves.
Grenadine Islands-Captain’s Choice!
According to Wiki, “The Grenadines are a chain of small island that lie on a line between the larger islands of Saint Vincent and Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. The northern two-thirds of the chain, including about 32 islands and cays, are part of the country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Nine are inhabited, including the mainland Saint Vincent and the Grenadines islands: Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent, and Palm Island. The southern third of the chain belongs to the country of Grenada. ”
It’s exciting to learn a bit about these wonderful and relatively untouched islands, and it’s even more fun that you won’t know until you get there which beach you will play on!
The appropriately named island aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla await you. They say it’s fun to follow the old tunnel which was hand built in 1895 to the Esplanade and the old Ft. George for an amazing view of Granada.
There are four small inlets and a fabulous reef for underwater exploration. It’s a protected National Park, so when you visit, please be sure that if you use sunscreen to choose the one that is considered safe for the coral. I want to take my granddaughter when she’s older, so we must be careful with our oceans!
St. Vincent-Kingstown (AM)
St. Vincent is the largest of the Grenadines. A bustling city of 20,000, this is the “City of Arches”, and I am told we will understand when we arrive. Many of the town’s building date to the 19th century, and there’s a fort on the outskirts of town. Expect to enjoy some history lessons as you explore the many churches and historical buildings, perhaps do some shopping, and they say do not miss the botanical gardens. Sounds like a fun morning! We only stop for a few hours here.
Bequia-Admiralty Bay (PM)
The second largest of the Grenadines at 7 square miles, we will anchor in the beautiful harbour of Young Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from Port Elizabeth at Bequia. A stroll along the beach of Admiralty Bay will be heavenly!
Martinique- Fort de France (AM)
This island, part of the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, is 436 Square miles of classic French beauty. It’s both wild and sophisticated at the same time! You may have heard of Mt. Pelee, which last erupted in 1902, killing 30,000 inhabitants of Saint-Pierre in a matter of minutes. But don’t worry…scientists are monitoring this still active volcano carefully.
This just may be your hiking day. From the tourism website, “There are several paths allowing exploration of the volcanic peaks that unleashed the eruptions of 1902 and 1929. Hikers can tackle the summit from the face, which overhangs the Caribbean Ocean. This route opens onto exceptional views of Saint-Pierre and the coast. The north slope offers a great variety of landscapes, ranging from banana plantations and tropical forests to vast, wind-swept spaces. The route most favored by hikers, past the Aileron and the plateau des Palmistes, begins in the parking area located on the eastern face of the mountain.”
Additionally, you will love the spicy creole cooking and the tempting boutiques in Fort de France. This port will satisfy everyone in your group!
Martinique-Beach Stop (PM)
Take yet another ocean swim. Enjoy that!
St. Lucia-Marigot Bay
Both large ships and small will visit St. Lucia, another island of volcanic origin. You have likely seen photos of her majestic Piton peaks, so certainly you may enjoy another hiking day here. But the snorkeling can be fantastic, and the cuisine divine. It has been both British and French, but is now independent. Enjoy this description of the Marigot Bay from their website.
“Marigot Bay is located just off the West Coast road and is home to what most consider to be the most beautiful Bay in the Caribbean as described by Novelist James A. Michener.
Marigot Bay is not just a stunning bay but its deep water and safe location has enabled it to be used by ships and locals as a safe haven during the passing of hurricanes. Pirates, as well as the French and British fleets used Marigot Bay during their long struggle to control St.Lucia. Many films have been made at Marigot Bay, including Dr.Doolittle starring Rex Harrison. Also Fire Power with Sophia Loren and Water, with Michael Caine.”
St. Lucia-Soufriere (PM)
In the afternoon you may anchor here, with a glorious view of the Pitons. You will have a hard time deciding whether to get into the water or hike the land! These are some of the activities and sites to consider, taken directly from Wikipedia. I suggest Diamond Falls and Mineral Baths. Take a dip in the pool under the waterfalls.
- The Pitons – Gros Piton and Petit Piton are two giant volcanic plugs located south of Soufrière and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Sulphur Springs – Soufrière is located within the caldera of the dormant Qualibou volcano and the area is geothermally active. Marketed as a drive-through volcano, there are numerous hot springs and fumaroles.
- Soufrière Estate – also known as Diamond Estate, this is an old colonial estate that is home to a botanical garden, sulphur baths and Diamond Falls.
- Fond Doux Estate – a working plantation where cacao is still processed.
- St Lucia’s Rainforest – there are several rainforest trails in the area with views, wildlife and waterfalls such as the Enbas Saut Falls.
- Anse Chastanet – a resort with a beach and several trails along the coast.
- Volga Nature Trail – a hiking trail with views of both pitons up close with views of Sugar beach.
I hope you get the chance to visit several (or all!) of these ports in your lifetime. Take a serious look at the Star Clippers company for a sailing adventure, too! This is a wonderful way to travel in the Caribbean. Granted, this ship has lots of bells and whistles and someone will cook and clean for me. Grin. But they do let you pitch in to help hoist sails and such. AND the Royal Clipper we are sailing has a toy deck for playing in port…things like kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards, that sort of thing. As always, I am at your service to make sure your travel experiences are amazing!