President & CEO Bob Binder
With our Around the World 2019 journey opening for reservations today, I’ve been reflecting on my own world cruise experiences. It was 20 years ago that I first journeyed on an around the world cruise, a westbound route just like Insignia’s magnificent new route.
I had gone out and backpacked across Europe during my college days, and this time I wanted to explore the world, but in a little bit more comfort. I have always the loved the idea of getting on the ship and sort of making it my home away from home while traveling to all of these diverse and fascinating places. What I love about world cruises is that you really have a chance to settle in and bond with your fellow travelers. You get to know each other during the course of the journey. It’s also pretty fascinating that you can see this much of the world in 180 days – 90 destinations on our Around the World 2019 voyage. That’s phenomenal. There truly isn’t any other voyage out there like it.
Culinary Picks Down Under
One of my favorite culinary destinations on the itinerary is Sydney. Since that first world cruise, I’ve visited Sydney many times and even lived there for a while, so I have some great restaurant recommendations.
First is Longrain, an excellent, chic Southeast Asian restaurant. They serve dishes that you might be familiar with but there’s always a unique twist to them, like red curry with braised short rib. This dish was actually the genesis of the same dish at our popular Asian restaurant, Red Ginger.
Located in Potts Point, a part of town worth going to explore, The Apollo is an amazing Greek restaurant. Your meal starts with tzatziki, the traditional yogurt and cucumber sauce, and they give you all of these perfectly grilled breads that go with it. They also serve open carafes of excellent featured wines, and offer fresh delicious dishes like grilled swordfish with capers and mint.
The City in the Garden: Singapore
The Singapore Botanic Gardens, more than 100 years old, are particularly incredible. With nearly 200 acres of flowers and tropical plants, the gardens certainly help the city live up to its nickname. There’s an area with a bamboo forest and a picturesque hiking trail that takes you through it. One thing that surprised me was the number of little reptiles in the gardens – but not to worry since they’re all harmless. There is also an exotic-looking plant called the lipstick palm that I discovered there – the stalk is bright red and on top it has normal tropical palm leaves. The fusion of the familiar and the exotic in it left a strong impression on me.
Paradise of the South Pacific
I remember having great snorkeling adventures in Bora Bora. The water is stunning – so many shades of blue I
had never before seen in my life and the fish are bright, colorful and everywhere. I’m blown away the by the water every time I visit – it never gets old.
In American Samoa, I always go to this one special little place called Tisa’s Barefoot Beach Bar. It’s a great little hidden gem for drinks and fish in a beautiful tropical setting – they have their own little lagoon, which is a nature preserve and you can go snorkeling there or just relax. Tisa’s husband is a fisherman so she cooks whatever he catches that day, and it’s always really delicious.
In Fiji, near where the ship docks is a traditional market where you can try so many vibrant and tropical fruits. I remember strolling through here and the vendors are all so friendly and welcoming – they don’t speak English, but they all want you to try the fruits and vegetables they are selling so I had the chance to sample so many great things just walking through the market – pineapple, guava and passion fruit, but also the apple-like kavika, rambutan and longans. I always recommend walking through a city’s local market – it’s a wonderful introduction to a place’s local cuisine and people.
World Adventures to Lifelong Friendships
At the end of my around the world cruise, I remember being surprised by how sad I was at having to say goodbye to so many of the great friends I’d made. Even after 20 years, I still have several friends from that incredible voyage.