A Local’s Europe: Places of My Youth, French Secrets & More

By Damien LaCroix, General Manager

For me, the debut of a new season of voyages is always a time of excitement. There are so many new adventures and intriguing destinations in our new Europe & The Americas 2019 Collection – the breathtaking coastlines and stunning wildlife of Alaska, the fascinating history of Canada and New England, the island culture of Bermuda. But as a Frenchman, I’ll admit that our voyages in Europe hold a special place in my heart.

The Eternal Enchantment
Europe is an incredible concentration of many different flavors, which is one of the reasons it’s so enchanting. I’ll confess I may be a bit partial, but the landscapes, cultures, traditions and history are so rich in this part of the world. For me, it is fascinating to see the same places and witness the evolution of an area. Some places such corners of Provence and Tuscany are caught in time and stay as you remember: the same little café around the corner, the shop down the lane that’s been open for a century. Others will bloom and blossom. You have the comfort of coming home while also enjoying the excitement of exploring someplace new.

Traveling from one port to another is as easy as closing your eyes, quite literally. Your experience is breathtaking from the moment you open your curtain in the morning to the moment you step back into your suite ready to close your eyes and do it all over again. Add to that our cuisine – our chefs bring our ports of call to life on board through the amazing dishes they create.

A Frenchman’s Mediterranean
There are some places that remain special forever because of experiences you had there when you were younger. When I was growing up in Roussillon near Lyon, I always remember going to the Mont Saint Michel and visiting the old city of
Saint-Malo – these are such an atmospheric places and so dramatic. I remember the tides rolling in, the iconic outline of Mont Saint Michel, steaming hot crêpes, tromping the cobbled streets of the Old Town. In Antibes, we would always visit Le Marché Provençale, the colorful daily market filled with the region’s specialties; the Fort Carré d’Antibes, a 16th-century star-shaped fort; or just relax on the white sand beach. These two places of my youth hint at the variety of what you can enjoy in France, and always create a sense of nostalgia in me.

When going to Marseille, I always tell our guests to go to Les Calanques or the Cassis area – these are definitely the gems of the area. In one, you have these absolutely stunning cliffs and native flora and fauna as far as the eye can see, and in the other, the charming Vieux Port, pastel houses, terraced vineyards and delicious white Cassis wine. You can’t go wrong. In Rhodes, there are so many hidden restaurants around the main street. Taking a lane between two houses and finding a courtyard where you can have a drink or lunch surrounded by bougainvillea flowers is priceless. I have one which is next to – well, you’ll have to follow me to find out!

In the 2019, we have a few new destinations that I’m looking forward to exploring with guests, such as Castellón on the Orange Blossom Coast of Spain and Bodo, which is just north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. Regardless of where we sail in the region, returning to Europe each year is coming back home for me – it brings back the memories of my childhood, adventures with dear friends and the comfort in knowing family is never far away.

Start exploring the new voyages in our exciting Europe & The Americas 2019 Collection now, and I hope to welcome you aboard one of our ships in Europe very soon!