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

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!


Introducing: 2019 Europe & The Americas


We are excited to announce our new 2019 Europe & The Americas Collection, an expansive and diverse set of voyages, which features more than 85 overnight stays and late departures. These voyages invite you on in-depth explorations that combine rich, insider travel experiences with The Finest Cuisine at Sea™.

Our six ships span the globe from the Adriatic to Alaska, offering you the widest and most diverse array of destination-focused itineraries and the most extended port stays of any cruise line in our class. Voyages range from 7 to 44 days and include a refreshing mix of popular destinations, boutique ports, and quaint seaside villages. Reservations open on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:30 am Eastern.

2019 Europe & The Americas Collection Highlights

    • Savor the Mediterranean in an entirely new way with our extensive collection of boutique ports of call such as Ajaccio, Corsica; Crotone, Italy and brand new this season, Castellón, a 13th-century secret hideaway on Spain’s orange grove-dotted Costa Azahar.
    • Explore more of Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal with new country-intensive voyages. Eight new itineraries focus singularly on Italy or Spain or the Iberian Peninsula and French wine country and include overnight stays in Venice, Lisbon, and Bordeaux.
    • Take advantage of explorations that sail farther north than ever before in Europe, venturing to Greenland, Iceland and off-the-beaten path ports in Norway such as mountainous Bodo, which is just north of the Arctic Circle and Haugesund, known as the Homeland of the Viking Kings.
    • Encounter the jaw-dropping scenery and abundant wildlife of Seward and Kodiak, Alaska, as Regatta explores the rugged coasts of the frontier state with even more diverse itineraries.
    • Discover the bliss of island culture on our all-new 7-day Bermuda voyages aboard Insignia and enjoy the harbors and history of Canada & New England aboard Riviera, making her debut in the greatest culinary city in the world, New York City.

The Benefit of Booking Early: Early Booking Exclusives

Book early to receive the best fares on these spectacular new voyages and to benefit from the generous savings available with our limited-time Early Booking Exclusives. Take advantage of the special offers below by March 31, 2018.

50% Off Deposits

$149 Premium Economy Air Upgrade* on select voyages

OLife Choice amenities:

Airfare* & Unlimited Internet plus choose one:

  • Free Shore Excursions
  • Free Beverage Package
  • Free Shipboard Credit

Start planning your perfect 2019 voyage now!


Chef Kelly’s Top 6 Culinary Tips

Chef Kelly’s Top 6 Culinary Tips
By Director of Culinary Enrichment & Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly

From prep work and knife work to culinary techniques, every chef learns a few tips and secrets in culinary school that are revolutionary in their culinary development. I still remember when I first learned the beauty and utility of acid – the acid of lemon works wonders to brighten and focus the flavor of soups, beans, legumes, proteins, and sauces. Before salting your food, try a little squeeze of lemon next time.

Every time you join one of our Culinary Center cooking classes or Culinary Discovery Tours, you’ll learn plenty of indispensable cooking tips like this to take home with you. Here are a few of my favorites.


    • Practice mise en place. Be organized from the start and have everything measured and prepped before you begin to cook. This way you can actually enjoy a glass of wine while you cook! Clean as you go too, like a professional chef.


    • Use the same knife. Ensure it’s always sharp and comfortable in your hand. I use the same knife for 90% of my kitchen needs – using the same knife over and over makes you much more proficient.


    • The key to using salt. Unless baking, I typically only salt food after it’s cooked. I choose kosher salt over sea salt because it’s clean. If I use sea salt, it’s from a source I know well, such as Maldon or Koper.


    • Get a good thermometer. The only way to know the internal temperature of something you are grilling, searing or baking is to accurately take the temperature with a thermometer. Timing, for example, 3 minutes per side, isn’t accurate – a thermometer is.


    • Why you should salt water before boiling. When cooking pasta or vegetables, make sure your water is salted beforehand – use 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons for every gallon of water, depending on the saltiness of the sauce or cheese you may be using. You’ll use much less salt at the table and have beautifully seasoned dishes.


    • Taste your food while cooking. Who doesn’t love this tip? The more you cook, the more comfortable you become with your ability to season, but tasting during the process is always essential.


Join us in The Culinary Center aboard Marina and Riviera for more chef secrets and tips to cook like a pro at home!


4 Unique Experiences in Hanoi

4 Unique Experiences in Hanoi

Hanoi, Vietnam’s elegant capital, lies on the banks of the Red River and is the country’s buzzing cultural epicenter. Founded in 1010, modern-day Hanoi is a city of contrasts, with European-looking gardens, compact neighborhoods of narrow tube-houses and French-inspired architecture – all combining to give Hanoi a noticeable charm. While nearby Ha Long Bay possesses its own enchantment, the city of Hanoi offers many immersive experiences perfect for delving into its unique history, culture, and cuisine. Here are our destination specialists’ top choices.

  1. Walk the Old Quarter. Once known as the Ancient Merchants’ Quarter, this neighborhood is characterized by its vibrant, bustling atmosphere that’s an experience unto itself. Narrow streets are packed with scooters, bicycles, cars, pedestrians, and peddlers – all moving in what seems to be a finely orchestrated, albeit hectic, surge. The lanes are filled with markets, sidewalk vendors, shops and restaurants, so the best way to experience all that it has to offer is by walking so you can stop at those that catch your eye. As you stroll the streets, you’ll find yourself facing the traffic alongside the locals, immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of this colorful and lively Vietnamese neighborhood.
  2. Attend a water puppet show. A fascinating and important part of Vietnam’s cultural heritage, water puppetry is not found anywhere else in the world. This theatric form evolved over centuries from folk art to a more established art form and has traditionally been connected to earth, water and local rice farmers. Shows often depict events in the country’s history and are infused with poetry and fireworks and traditional music, offering a memorable cultural experience.
  3. Visit Hỏa Lò Prison Museum. This prison was used by the French for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War. This is the prison where Senator John McCain spent over 5 years in captivity during the Vietnam War. In addition to exhibits on the American pilots that were imprisoned here during the Vietnam War, many thought-provoking displays focus on the prison’s use up to the mid-1950s, which centered on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France.
  4. Dine in the French Quarter or near Hoan Kiem District. The neighborhood southeast of Hoan Kiem Lake and just surrounding it is home to French-colonial architecture, grand boulevards, art galleries, boutiques – and the city’s best selection of quality restaurants. Many say it’s hard to have a bad meal in Hanoi, but here you’ll have your choice of top-rated cuisine – savor excellent Vietnamese at spots such as Highway 4 and Club de l’Oriental, Vietnamese fusion at La Verticale and classic French fare at La Badiane and the Parisian-style La Terrasse Du Metropole. There are also plenty of cafes and many other European-style restaurants in this part of the city.

Join us in Hanoi this winter!


Autumn Favorites: Tarte Tatin Recipe

Autumn Favorites: Tarte Tatin Recipe

By Executive Chef & Director of Culinary Enrichment Kathryn Kelly   

What better recipe to celebrate the beginning of autumn than one featuring apples? This classic French upside-down apple tart is one of Master Chef Jacques Pépin’s favorites. Originally from the South of France, he loves the simplicity of this dish, which pays tribute to both the apple and the puff pastry. When you flip the pastry over, it looks rustic and elegant at the same time. You can use puff pastry from the freezer section of the grocery store, and it will work perfectly. Try it with a dollop of crème fraîche or ice cream and a glass of Calvados apple brandy from Normandy. You can also drizzle a little Calvados brandy on top of the tart for a special treat.


2 Granny Smith apples

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

1 round puff pastry

Crème fraîche, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Core and peel the apples and cut each into 6 equal segments.

In a medium bowl, mix the butter, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the apples and toss to coat. Place the apples in a tart pan with the rounded sides of the apples facing down. Spoon the remaining butter and sugar mixture over the apples.

Cover the pan with a puff pastry that is cut 1 inch larger than the circumference of the pan. Tuck in the sides of the pastry and poke the pastry with a fork. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pastry puffs and turns light brown and crispy.

Let cool slightly and then invert the tart onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraîche, and enjoy this rustic taste of fall!