Blog Archives

Cruising: Pure Panama with UnCruise Adventure

This morning we head off to Panama City, via Miami and Hurricane Irma, for some city time followed by a week on the 65-passenger Safari Voyager cruising Panama. This expedition vessel will take us through the canal as well as to many of the smaller islands in the country. This trip is the first time that I’ve left the country this year, a rather unusual occurrence for me, but a lot of family things have been going on and it just hasn’t been the right time for me to take a trip farther than across the country for a few days. With house and pet sitter in place, we’re off. And what a trip it’s going to be! The first challenge will be to avoid Hurricane Irma. She’s rumbling it up in the Caribbean right now, and as I write […]

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Sail off on a Viking Homelands Cruise

I know that lots of you still haven’t made your big vacation plans for the year, or maybe you’re ahead of the game and making plans for next year. I took a 15-day summer cruise on the Viking Sea and recommend both the ship and the itinerary highly. The itinerary is called Viking Homelands, and it’s a cruise through Scandinavia and the Baltic stopping in historic city centers and cruising majestic Norwegian fjords. It’s full of value luxury destinations and experiences. Viking Ocean provides great value for your cruise dollar. It’s an all-inclusive experience – something that seems to have fallen by the wayside on other cruise experiences – with many tours included at each port, soft drinks, beer and wine complimentary at meals, and specialty restaurants that don’t require an additional charge. It was nice to relax and enjoy […]

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UNESCO Site: Visiting Malbork Castle, Poland

The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, usually referred to as the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order dating back to the 12th century. Although it was originally founded as a German military brotherhood, it’s purpose has changed over the years and since 1929 it has been strictly a religious order, although it harkens back to those early years with the conference of honorary knighthoods. Today the Catholic branch of the Order has about 1,000 members, and while originally no women were permitted, members today include a couple hundred nuns. The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, most often referred to as simply Malbork Castle, is a fortified monastery on the Nogat River, that dates back to the 13th century. When it was completed in 1406, it was the world’s largest brick […]

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Talking About Viking Homeland Cruise on Amateur Traveler.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since we’ve returned from my 15-day, 8 country, Viking Homelands cruise on the Viking Sea. This is one of the top highlights of my year of travel (if not the very top).  and it was my pleasure to talk about the ship, the itinerary, and why I’m impressed with the cruise product delivered by Viking (both River and Ocean cruising). In this episode of the Amateur Traveler, Chris Christensen (blogger, podcaster, friend) and I talk about the ship, the itinerary, and why we’re impressed with the cruise product delivered by Viking (both River and Ocean cruising). You might also be interested in my review of the Viking Sea. Press the green arrow below to listen to the episode.   Amateur Traveler Episode 525 – Baltic Cruise with Viking Ocean    

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Life Onboard the Viking Sea

The Viking Sea set sail from Stockholm on a 15 day Viking Homelands itinerary, visiting eight countries:  Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. Since I was already in Sweden, and the itinerary included mainly places that I had never been, it was easy to get excited about the trip. “What will 15 days at sea be like?” friends wanted to know. “Won’t you get bored when you’re not in port? What will you do?” The Viking Sea is one of Viking Cruises newest ships in its ocean cruising division. The ship is big enough – 930 passengers with a crew of 550 – to travel the waters where river ships cannot go without sacrificing the service standards that loyal Viking cruisers expect. That loyalty is a good place to start when talking about shipboard life. Although I’m […]

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Orient Beach, St. Martin

Earlier this year, while on a Royal Caribbean cruise on board the Oasis of the Sea, we had a port of call in St. Martin/Sint Maarten. The island is owned by two nations – France, which owns around 60% of the island, and the Netherlands, which owns about 40% of the island. During our port of call I was able to visit both sides of the island, an item on my bucket list, and I’m also considering it visiting two new countries (although, yes, I’ve been to both France and the Netherlands, I’m just not splitting hairs about this). This photo is from Orient Beach on the French side of the island, arguably the most well known of the nude beaches on the island, and is a popular stop on cruise shore excursions as well as for general island visitors. […]

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Postcard from the Oasis of the Seas

This week I’m sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. It is a behemoth of a ship, with a capacity of 6,000 passengers and 3,000 crew members. To avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed, the ship is divided into neighborhoods – my favorites are Central Park and the Boardwalk. There are also plenty of spaces on the ship where you can grab some quiet time, to read, to reflect, or just to stare out at the gorgeous blue water.

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Lisbon: Looking Back, Looking Forward

A little over four years ago, we were planning a trip to Portugal. The plan was to stay in the Lisbon area for a week, before continuing on with another week in Tuscany. It was our first trip to Portugal, and in my Type-A way, I researched and found a place to stay in Cascais near the beach, figured out public transportation, and was charting a list of things to see and do. We were traveling with a friend and every few days we shared something new and exciting that we learned. Tickets were purchased, accommodations booked, lists were made. We were ready. BUT – as we were about to be reminded – travel plans don’t always turn out the way we want. Or that we would hope for. Sixteen hours before we were to board our flight for Lisbon, my father-in-law […]

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Postcard from Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg was the first stop on the Viking River Cruise. The town deserves its label of romantic and picturesque, and is well known for Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg University and its baroque-style Old Town.

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Rolling Along in Antwerp Belgium

I rolled into Antwerp by train, like many visitors to the city, arriving at the city’s ornate Central Station. I’d heard that the station was impressive, it makes the most beautiful list often enough, and the stone, iron, and glass architecture didn’t disappoint. I’ll let the architectural community argue over the appropriate style of the station, and I’ll just appreciate the dome and the turrets, the marble and the glass, and the gold. The Central Station was completed in 1905, and although it has been refurbished and expanded a couple different time, the station’s opulence has not been diminished. Today the station has four levels and 14 tracks that connect Antwerp with the rest of the country and the rest of Europe. Does it look somehow familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen the Sound of Music flash mob video If you find […]

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