0 comments on “3 Hidden Mediterranean Jewels
 

3 Hidden Mediterranean Jewels
 

While the museums of Florence, the ancient ruins of Rome, the Ramblas in Barcelona and so many other top attractions in these countries are worth visiting multiple times, culture-rich Italy and Spain are both overflowing with plenty of other authentic must-visits for those who have traveled extensively. Here are several stunning off-the-beaten-path picks for those seasoned travelers looking for that exhilarating feeling of discovering a hidden gem for the very first time.

Orvieto-ItalyOrvieto, Italy: Medieval Gem
Available from Rome
Experience Italy as it’s rarely experienced with a trip to this fortified medieval town perched atop a hillside in Umbria with vineyards, olive groves and Cypress trees blanketing the valleys below. Once a citadel of the Etruscans, Orvieto remains a medieval treasure – there has barely been any new construction since the 14th century. The Duomo di Orvieto, adorned with a dazzling mosaic façade visible from miles all around, is arguably one of the most gorgeous in Italy. This mesmerizing Gothic cathedral dates to 1290, took 30 years to plan and three centuries to complete. A visit to Orvieto isn’t complete without sampling some traditional Umbrian fare such as umbrichelli pasta and perhaps a glass of chilled Orvieto Classico, a well-rounded straw-colored DOC white wine.

Expert Tip:
This is a town of artisans and long-held craft traditions, so you’ll have plenty of mementos to choose from amidst your sightseeing. Handmade ceramics and terracotta ware are two top picks and for the quintessential Orvietano souvenir, head to the woodworking shop of Bottega Michelangeli.

Urbino-Italy.jpg


Urbino, Italy: Renaissance Riches

Available from Umbria (Ancona)
A surprisingly remote cultural epicenter set atop the rolling hills of Le Marche, Urbino is considered one of the most important towns of culture, art and historical legacy in Italy – in fact, the entire town was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. During the 15th century, Urbino attracted some of the most preeminent scholars and artists of the Renaissance, and was the hometown of artist Raphael and architect Donato Bramante. It now represents a peak of Renaissance splendor through its remarkably preserved art and architecture. Step back in time with a visit to the princely Palazzo Ducale, a sprawling palace that now houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in the world.

Expert Tip:
After touring Palazzo Ducale, head to Antica Osteria da la Stella, a family-run restaurant just steps away from the former home of Raphael that serves traditional cuisine inspired by the local culinary traditions of the Le Marche and Romagna regions.

Ronda-Spain

Ronda, Spain: Whitewashed Wonder
Available from Málaga
Set above the deep Tajo Gorge carved out by Río Guadalevín, this mountaintop village couldn’t be located in a more dramatic location. The gorge divides the picturesque whitewashed town into La Ciudad, the old Moorish, aristocratic quarter with narrow lanes; and El Mercadillo, the “newer” park-filled area built after the 1485 Christian Reconquest. The three bridges connecting Ronda offer exhilarating vistas and the local history is just as thrilling – the town and surrounding mountains were once bandit hideouts, which you can learn about in the local Museo del Bandolero. More than 200 years old, Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is one of Spain’s oldest bullrings and a visit here is the perfect way to learn about this tradition.

Expert Tip:
Before heading back to Málaga, pop into Entre Vinos on Calle Pozo for tapas and a glass of Andalusian wine. This locals’ spot is known for its extensive local wine list and both traditional and inventive tapas.

Wanderlust sparked? Find your perfect Italy or Spain cruise now

 

0 comments on “Paradise Found: The Allure of the South Pacific
 

Paradise Found: The Allure of the South Pacific
 

When you sail to far reaches of the shimmering South Pacific aboard our ships, you leave the routines of everyday life behind for adventures that elevate your travels to a whole new level. Dreamy atolls, blue lagoons, remote villages and virgin rainforests only begin to scratch the surface of the gems in the South Pacific.

Experience the paradise of the region firsthand and enjoy up-close encounters with Polynesian culture and cuisine. Revel in having Tahiti’s soaring volcanic cliffs, the sapphire seas of Moorea and the pearlescent sands of Fiji’s flawless beaches in your backyard. Uncover the lasting legacies of author Herman Melville and painter Paul Gauguin, who were so inspired by the stunning South Pacific islands. Travel further back in time at an ancient temple on Tahiti for a glimpse of sacred Polynesian traditions. On the list of seasoned travelers everywhere, our explorations of the South Pacific reveal paradise landscapes, ancestral traditions and unique insight into the local life. Here’s a brief look at what you’ll find in a few of our top South Pacific destinations.

QUEEN OF THE PACIFIC
Papeete (Tahiti), French Polynesia
Known as one of the most romantic islands in the world, Tahiti invites you to fall in love with island time as the tropical breeze over the sea carries the scent of fragrant hibiscus flowers. In the heart of the South Pacific, admire the surrounding lagoon and mountain peaks during a catamaran cruise, or take a stroll through the waterfront Jardins de Paofai. At Venus Point, walk the exact location where Captain James Cook once recorded the passage of Venus to calculate the distance between the sun and Earth. During a off-road journey, explore an uncommon side of Tahiti deep in Papenoo Valley, which brims with waterfalls and verdant flora. Crown your experience by heading to the beach for the sunset.

OCEANIA PARADISE
Suva, Fiji
Set on a hilly peninsula at the southeastern end of Viti Levu, Suva is the thriving multicultural and cosmopolitan capital of Fiji. Here you can enjoy everything from boutique shops and upscale restaurants to island adventures and cultural explorations. Spend the afternoon at an aromatic spice farm and gardens full of medicinal plants and then learn the secrets of native Fijian cooking. Take a longboat cruise along the Navua River, admiring mountain ranges and the surrounding tropical rainforest replete with exotic birds, dramatic gorges and cascading waterfalls. Meanwhile the Arts Village of Fiji offers an immersion into the evolution of the island’s fascinating ethnic history and art, including a performance by Fijian firewalkers.


THE MAGICAL ISLAND
Moorea, French Polynesia
Moorea is home to the often-overlooked bright blue lagoon and volcanically formed island that inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Take in splendid views during a hike along the Sister Island’s three coconut trails or swim with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in a natural lagoon. Perhaps take a dip in the clear lagoon of Moorea with beautiful views of the island’s sharp mountain peaks, lush valleys and picturesque coastal shoreline. Then relax on a paradise beach and enjoy the warm tropical waters of French Polynesia.

Wanderlust sparked? Explore our top South Pacific voyages now.

0 comments on “How To Eat Your Way Through the South Pacific
 

How To Eat Your Way Through the South Pacific
 

French Polynesia serves up a bevy of mouthwatering specialties, exotic dishes and delicious delicacies – and one of the best ways to delve into the local island culture is through food. Whether you’re exploring Bora Bora and Moorea or Nuku Hiva and Tahiti, the flavors of these islands are meant to be savored. Here’s our guide on what not to miss when it comes to trying local foods and South Pacific culinary experiences.


Try the region’s many iterations of
poisson cru: French Polynesia’s version of ceviche, this dish features local raw fish marinated in coconut milk and lime juice, often with vegetables. You’ll have plenty of chances to try it on a variety of excursions, such as motu picnics, and you’ll see it on local menus everywhere.


Visit a vanilla plantation:
You can do this when you visit Raiatea since more than 70% of the vanilla grown in French Polynesia is from the nearby island of Taha’a. Here you’ll learn about the intricate hand pollination process and have a chance to see fragrant vanilla pods curing in the sun. You’ll soon understand why Tahitian vanilla is so precious – It takes nearly two years for a vanilla vine to grow and produce flowers, which then produce a sole vanilla pod. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the vanilla sauce that’s drizzled over your mahi mahi or po’e.

Be adventurous when it comes to seafood: On islands like Nuku Hiva, you’ll have the chance to taste mama, raw clam-like mollusks usually prepared in coconut and lime juice; toetoe river crabs and other seafood you might not normally. In Tahiti, you’ll see exotic lagoon and deep-sea fish such as sea urchin, parrotfish and barracuda on menus.

Have lunch at Bloody Mary’s in Bora Bora: a bit of an institution in Bora Bora, the thatched-roof restaurant has served everyone from Jimmy Buffet and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones to Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. With your feet resting on the sand floors, try their mahi mahi burger and a mai tai – it’s an experience to remember.

Don’t pass on the breadfruit: Called uru in Tahitian, this strangely versatile starch will appear on the table prepared in more ways than you keep track of and is quintessentially French Polynesian. Fried, mashed, boiled, roasted, broiled…you’ll likely come across them all. A staple form on Nuku Hiva involves roasting it over hot coals and then mashing it with coconut milk to create a dish called kaka.

Stroll the daily market in Utoroa, Raiatea: Avocado, coconut, bananas, passion fruit overflow from the stalls. Pause to sample fresh rambutans, pomelos and pineapple. Venture upstairs too if you have time – you’ll find more stalls filled with jewelry, pareos, fragrant bottles of coconut oil, vanilla sugar and the like.

Inspired to sail away to the dreamy South Pacific? Have a look at these top voyages.

 

 

0 comments on “2020 Europe & The Americas: Destinations to Delve Into”

2020 Europe & The Americas: Destinations to Delve Into

From the rolling Irish countryside to the birthplace of Aphrodite, the destinations in our 2020 Europe & The Americas Collection offer imaginative adventures and the chance to explore more of Europe’s and North America’s most intriguing destinations. To inspire your cruise planning, here’s a glimpse from our Destination Experts at what you’ll find in just a few of our newest ports in Europe – surprising facts, tempting culinary specialties and more.

Ciutadella de Menorca, Spain
In contrast to the more hopping Balearic Islands driven by the thumping bass of lively nightclubs, you’ll immediately notice that the rhythm of life on Menorca is reflected in gentle waves lapping at powdery sands.

Did you know? Ciutadella’s daily open-air market has been a place to socialize and shop since the 14th century. Meet locals as you shop for handcrafts, jewelry, colorful textiles, leather goods and avarcas, traditional Menorcan sandals.

Culinary delight to try: Artisanal Mahón made from raw cow’s milk and aged for 2 to 3 months

Dartmouth, UK
Don’t miss the pristine coves of the River Dart estuary, lined with quaint cottages and bobbing sailboats. The waterfront is so picturesque that you may wonder if any Pilgrims were tempted to unload here when the Mayflower pulled in for repairs en route to the New World.

Did you know? Agatha Christie summered in Dartmouth. Greenway, her gorgeous summer home and gardens, as well as nearby landmarks often surface in her stories.

Culinary delight to try: Real Devonshire cream tea with scones at a riverside café

Glengarriff, Ireland
Far away from Ireland’s cosmopolitan urban centers, nestled deep in Bantry Bay, Glengarriff offers all the joys of the Irish countryside, from the dramatic beauty of its coastline to quirky cultural distinctions like a nature walk through the private gardens of a local family.

Did you know? To properly kiss – and reap the rewards from – the famed Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle near Glengarriff, you need to lean backwards holding onto an iron railing from the parapet walk. The legendary gift is worth it: eloquence.

Culinary delight to try: When in Ireland, do as the Irish do and drink the country’s national drink, whiskey. At Jameson Distillery near Glengarriff, go behind the scenes for a look at whiskey making and enjoy a tasting.

Marina di Carrara, Italy
As you sail into Marina di Carrara, the gorgeous snow spilling down from the mountains onto the green pine forests above the nearby town of Carrara will take your breath away – until you remember it is summer. What you are seeing is the exposed veins of the world’s most sought-after white marble. The Tuscan seaside resort of Marina di Carrara lies just outside the Marble City and invites you to enjoy some quality beach time or journey farther afield to explore the magic of Tuscany. 

Did you know? The lush green hills of Carrara provided the white stone for Michelangelo’s Pieta and Rodin’s The Kiss and have been worked since Roman times.

Culinary delight to try: Tuscan wine, of course. Head into the geographic and metaphoric heart of Italy for a memorable wine-tasting adventure.

Paphos, Cyprus
Paphos isn’t just sunny, it’s really sunny – with an average of 13 hours a day in the summer and five hours during what are normally dreary months. It’s easy to fall in love with this beautiful land of rocky coastline and clear blue waters, which is why it was the perfect setting for the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love.

Did you know? A highlight of the Paphos Archaeological Park, the House of Dionysus has some of the finest, best-preserved mosaics in the world. Discover gods, goddesses and a floor made of seashells depicting the mythical Greek sea monster Skyla.

Culinary delight to try: Eat like a Paphos native with mezes, a series of small dishes served at a leisurely pace to allow space for conversation. Start with olives, followed by bread with tahini, before moving on to grilled lamb kebabs.

What destination caught your eye in our new 2020 Europe & The Americas Collection? Share it below or on Facebook.

0 comments on “An Insider’s Look at Our New 2020 Europe & The Americas Collection”

An Insider’s Look at Our New 2020 Europe & The Americas Collection

By Mario Parodi, Vice President of Port & Itinerary Planning

Fall is my favorite time of year, not because the color of the leaves or the change of seasons, but because this is when we get to share our new Europe, Alaska, New England and Canada masterpieces with the world. After more than 10 years with Oceania Cruises, it never gets old. Born and raised in Genoa, Italy, I always have a special connection with our voyages to the Old World, especially because we reach so many smaller ports that really bring you into the daily life of the place. This season our New England and Alaska itineraries are also full of places that are little bit less well-known…you know, the kind perfect for travelers who have been there many times before.

Italy: Benvenuto a Casa
We have so many classic ports in the Mediterranean and these I like to think of as little treasures you never get tired of visiting. Places like Florence, Marseille, Amalfi and Seville…these are cities you step off the ship and immediately feel carried away, like you’re in another century. I love sailing the Mediterranean and visit family and friends in Liguria every year. Voyages like the 11-day Legacies & Legends and 10-day Italy & The Ionian are irresistible. I’ll admit it, maybe I play favorites…but for me the Mediterranean is one of the most romantic places in the world. Genoa still feels like home – it always will – even after living in Florida for so many years. One of my favorite things to when I arrive in Italy is enjoy a nice big meal, especially my favorite…trofie al pesto. This is a typical Ligurian dish and is one that, like special travels, has the power to completely transport you.

Insider’s Picks
As much as I love Italy and the Mediterranean, my favorite voyages for the season are the cruises Insignia does in August and September, especially the longer ones. The 15-day Beacons of Beauty goes to the smaller harbors of New England and Canada but also these amazing places like Nuuk, Paamiut and Isafjordur– and even better, you end in Reykjavik. Everyone should see Iceland. The 12-day Northern Serenade takes you to some classic ports – Bruges, Copenhagen and Oslo – but then you also have some hidden secrets: Lysekil, Haugesund and Tórshavn, plus one of our new ports, Lübeck, Germany.

The voyage that really caught my eye this season is the one that combines these both: the 27-day Magnificent Crossing from New York to London. The scenery up there, in those parts of Greenland, Iceland and Norway, is very different from any other place in the world and this sailing gives you time to really explore, to get a sense of this region. These longer itineraries always involve a special kind of planning in my area since we make a big effort to ensure they have unique and different ports, that the cruise has a flow. To see these types of voyages come together is always very rewarding.

I will tell you our 2020 Alaska season is also very unique because we are sailing even farther north. For me, the 14-day Glaciers & Fjords that takes you all the way up to College Fjord, Seward and Kodiak is more unusual. These places are not included on run-of-the-mill Alaska cruises and are absolutely worth a visit. Frontiers & Glaciers is another cruise that’s quite different, adding to those ports Homer during the northern leg of its journey.

So that’s my take on our new season – prego! Where will you cruise in 2020? I’d love to see your favorite choices from our new 2020 Europe & The Americas Collection below or on Facebook.