River Cruising with Rose

In May I was able to cruise the Rhone River in France’s Burgundy and Provence regions on AMA Waterways. My travel passion is enjoying fabulous food and wonderful wines and this trip did not disappoint!  
 
We began our adventure in Paris, where we spend 4 great days. Some of the highlights of our Paris stop was the Eiffel Tower, a sunset Seine River cruise, a 10 course 5 star meal and the Perre Lechaise Cemetery where famous celebs like Jim Morrison, Chopin and Oscar Wilde are buried.
 
We took a high speed train from Paris to Lyon, where out river ship was waiting for us. Stepping on to a river boat is a lot different than an ocean liner.  There are only 150 passengers on board with 3 decks.  The intimate setting makes it easy to get to know your fellow cruisers and you learn way around the ship pretty quick.
 
After spending the night docked in Lyon and touring it’s sights, we began our journey downstream towards the Mediterranean Sea.  We experienced 16 locks on our trip, as the river continually decreased and we needed to bring the ship down to sea level on the other side of the locks.  The tallest deepest lock we traversed was 40 feet down.
 
On our next ports of Viviers, Tournon, Avignon and Arles, we toured dozens of churches and architectural marvels- some dating back to the 12th century.  It was interesting to learn about the Popes of Avignon perfecting the wine industry in the region, which is how the red wine varietal region of Chateneuf du Pape gets it’s name.
 
River cruising is a great way to leave the planning to the tour director and explore the local culture up close and personal.  We docked right in the heart of the city allowing an easy walk to the most popular destinations.  But the best part is that Shore Excursions are Included in the price!  There were 3-5 excursions each day to choose from, each with a different level of effort- easy, moderate and active.  We chose most of the active excursions and got to see the cities on foot with hikes up and down steep mountains, fast paced city walking tours and bicycle tours. There are also bus tours for an easy view of the sights as well as for farther destinations that take you to Truffle Hunting with Dogs, Olive Oil Farms, Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours and so much more.
 
I’d recommend this Rhone River Cruise itinerary for adults who love good wine, great food, appreciate renaissance, gothic and roman architecture and enjoy a bit of world history mixed with catholic and christian religious history.  You should be mobile and in fairly good physical health, as wheelchairs,canes and walkers would not do well on the ancient cobblestone streets and navigating the ramp to and from the ship . I would choose a different itinerary if you’re definitely not a wine drinker or if you are planning to travel with kids or teens, as they may be easily bored.  There are no kids programs on most river cruise ships which means they have mostly adults onboard.
 
I have done river cruises in Egypt on the Nile and in Germany on the Rhine. After this Rhone River Adventure in France, I am ready to take on the Danube for a visit to Prague and Budapest next.  
 
If you’re planning a river cruise, I’d be happy to share my experiences with you and help guide you to a great ship and itinerary that matches your travel personality.
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Explorers Spotlight Part two: Debbie and Jim’s Adventure

jim in santorini

Today’s post is catching up again With Debbie and Jim as we follow along on their Grecian adventure!

Day 4: Santorini

Another great day exploring Santorini.  The island has similarities and differences to Mykonos.  First, where Mykonos has buildings beginning at sea level, Santorini is mostly inhabited at the top of the mountain.  Santorini was formed, along with some other pieces of land nearby, by a volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago.  The volcano’s top was blown off in the eruption and debris was sent everywhere. The last time the volcano erupted was 1956, so many areas were destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

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In Santorini, we took a tender to the dock and then boarded a bus.  There are three ways to get to the top if you haven’t booked an excursion – walk a long way on cobblestone streets, ride donkeys (which was not recommended), or take the cable car.  We had an excursion booked so we had a bus.   The bus drove around the island as the guide told us things about Santorini.  We went to the highest point of the island, but it was foggy and we couldn’t see much.  We did notice that many wild flowers were in full bloom and it was very pretty.   Then we drove to Oia, an old village on the northern tip of the island on a steep slope.  On the way we saw beaches and views of both sides of the island.  One of the beaches has black sand because of the volcano.  Santorini has lots of land in between towns, and seems more spread out. (Maybe that is because we only saw certain parts of Mykonos.)  After Oia, we were driven to Fira, another town. There are lots of shops here, and the streets are narrow and made of cobblestones. (They were in Oia, too.) Even in the beginning of the tourist season, which is now, it is crowded and hard to get around.  Most of Santorini’s streets are cobblestoned.  Everything is not white and blue like Mykonos; there are other colors on buildings.

jim and debbie

Day 5: At Sea

There is much to do on this ship.  They have activities scheduled all day and night.  Most of the time, we are on excursions and are gone (or just aren’t interested – like games, trivia contests, parties, etc), but today I got to go to two art classes. I took a watercolor pencil class and an acrylic painting class.  The outcome was nothing to write home about, or even keep, but it was fun to get to do some art.  Jim spent some time at the pool talking with people (he met some people from UF), working out and walking again, and laying by the pool.  All in all, we enjoyed the day.

pool at night

Day 6: Malta

Today our port of call was Valetta, Malta.  It looks very different from the Greek islands we have visited.  On Malta, all the buildings are made of blocks of limestone (a little bigger than the size of a large concrete block) and are a honey color.  It looks like a fortress in some areas.  The architecture is a combination of Arab and Baroque design, and looks very majestic.  One interesting thing about Malta is the houses were originally built with balconies.  It is against the law to take them down, and owners are required to maintain them.  They aren’t all the same and are very interesting.

Our tour first took us to the town of Mosta, and we went inside the Mosta Dome church.  This church has the third largest dome in the world.  Everything is beautiful and ornate.  Then we drove through the countryside to a former World War II airfield that has been turned into a crafts village called Ta’Qali.  We went to a store that makes filigree jewelry.  It is such tiny, delicate work.  I think I would go blind if I had to do that all day. Our next stop was Dingli Cliffs – the highest point on Malta.  The views are great.  There is also a small, old church there with no windows, only the door.  The lack of windows was for protection from invaders.

cathedral in Malta

Our last stop was the ancient city of M’Dina, which is a walled city with narrow winding streets to confuse invaders.  Inside M’Dina are churches, aristocratic houses, and a few stores.  They are all connected, except for the streets.  Most of the architecture is Baroque, but in the middle of the city is a square with the Cathedral of St. Paul and St. Peter. The buildings here reflect Spanish design, Baroque style, and Neo-gothic, but all are of limestone.

Explorers Spotlight: Debbie and Jim Joiner Part One!

the ship

Our Explorers of the week are Debbie & Jim. They recently came home from an Oceania Cruise to Greece, Italy, & Malta that they booked with Bretta and this is what they had to share with us:

“Our trip was fantastic and couldn’t have been better! Both Jim and I were so pleased with everything. The Oceania ship was incredible and far exceeded out expectations. Everyone we met who cruised all the time said we has started at the top! It was very relaxing on board, the food was amazing, the service couldn’t have been better, and the tours were top notch! I would recommend Oceania to anyone who wants an incredible experience. I can’t imagine a ship that would be any better. Thanks again for everything. It was our “Trip of a lifetime”.”

Here are some insights from their day to day itinerary

Day 2: Athens

It was very hot the day we were in Athens, so the guide took us to the Acropolis first. We saw the Parthenon, Athena’s temple, the temple of Zeus, Mars Hill (where Paul preached to the Athenians), and the oldest theater in the world.  It is amazing to think these places were erected before Christ.  The workmanship, artistry, and design are incredible!!!  The Parthenon is under renovation, to repair damaged parts, so there are portions of the building all over the ground – some from the explosion of the building in the 1500’s and some from the engineers taking pieces down one at a time to repair and replace.  In some of the pictures you can see the restored areas – they are the white places where new marble is used.. As the tour guide put it, “Athens is an ugly girl”.  There is hardly any green space, there are condominiums everywhere, graffiti is easily seen, and decay in some areas is evident.

parthenon

Day 3: Mykonos

This morning we ate breakfast at the Terrace Café.  There are tons of choices and everything is very good.  I had an omelet, potatoes, fruit, bacon, orange juice, and a sticky bun!!!  Then we got ready for our excursion to Mykonos.  We had to meet in the lounge, get our bus number, go to place where you board the tenders, and take the boat to the island.  It was fun, and very windy.

windmills

Mykonos is a rocky island with all white houses.  It is a requirement that all houses be painted white, and nothing can be taller than two stories.  It also has a lot of churches – many of which are abandoned now.  I especially liked the houses or hotels that had the white building and stone walls or fronts.  They were beautiful.  They all look like wedding cakes made of fondant!!! We took a walking tour of old Mykonos, with its narrow streets (done intentionally to deter pirates), saw a pirate house, little Venice (houses right on the water that look like Venice), churches, shops, windmills, and a 15th century wood burning bakery still in operation.  We got a free cookie there!!  Then we boarded a bus to go to the other side of the island.  We saw two beaches, a monastery, and visited the town of Ana Mera where we were given a snack (bread with cheese spread, cucumber, tomato, meat pie, and 2 olives).  I didn’t eat the olives!!

jim

Back on the ship, we ate a light lunch.  We had reservations for the Polo Grill – a steak place.  It was very good.  After dinner we saw a show called “Lights Camera Music” that was a celebration of musicals – like Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, and Liza Minelli.

Come back next Monday to see the rest of Debbie and Jim’s travels with Oceania!

Wanda’s Grand Voyage

Roseborough’s own Wanda Hamm talks about her Grand Voyage around the globe.

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How many days was your cruise?

111 Days. We left on January 4th this year and returned home on April 26th. It was round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale.

How many different ports of call did you go to?

There were 36 scheduled ports, but we missed two of them due to bad weather.
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Why did you decide to go on a grand voyage?

We decided to do the World Cruise to see as much of the world as we could without having to pack and unpack. The cruise ship was our moving hotel. Also, I don’t like to fly, so this was a perfect alternative.

What makes a Grand Voyage different from the other cruises you have gone on?

They roll out the red carpet on the World Cruise.  Holland has Gala Night with nice gifts such as luggage, Waterford Frames, Chocolates, World Cruise Logo Items, and Dinner with the Captain.  There are lots of parties for various occasions.  And the dining experience is above any other cruise I have been on.

What was your favorite experience from the cruise?

We loved all of the ports, but we especially loved Japan – the cities were extremely clean and the people were very friendly and helpful to us as visitors.  Oman was another favorite, we fell in love with the people. Kindness is very important to them.

Why should someone consider a grand voyage?

It is a trip of a life time and exceeds anything you could imagine.  The memories you create and bring back, you will cherish them forever.

Explorer Spotlight: Antarctica on Azamara Club Cruises

explorer-spotlightExplorer Spotlight: Antarctica on Azamara Club Cruises

 

dianeheadBy: Diane Congdon- an adventurous and well traveled client of Roseborough Travel Agency.

 

The most absolute-over-the-top trip I have ever taken was a cruise to Antarctica in 2008 on the Azamara Journey.  At about 700 passengers, it was the smallest, most luxurious ship and the longest trip I had taken.

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Why Antarctica?  As a long-time Floridian, I am always looking for cooler weather and mountains for my trips.  The scenery was so breathtakingly spectacular that it is not describable in words.  I spent three days standing on the deck from dawn to dusk in rain, snow, sleet, hail and sunshine looking at icebergs more than a mile long and much taller than the ship (and remember only 1/10 of the berg actually shows above the water), beautiful mists, whales and bazillions of penguins and other birds, only coming in to get dry gloves and socks and a hot drink.  We went where the ice captains knew there were things to see with no set itinerary; if we saw something, the ship stopped and we looked.

The real bonus was the Chilean fjords.  Because the ship was so small, we hugged the coast line of Chile from Valparaiso down to the tip of South America.  The fjords rivaled, and may have exceeded, the beauties of the Alaska and Norway coasts.  The other real bonus was the people; the Chileans, Uruguayans and Argentinians were so welcoming and so proud of their lands.  I took a horseback ride to the end of the Americas; drank great Chilean wines; had Uruguayan barbecue at a ranch; bought a hand-woven wool shawl from the woman who carded the wool, wove the yarn and made the shawl (using sign language, finger waving and smiles to make the purchase).

 

And, yes, Roseborough planned this trip for me.

 

This trip is still at the top of my list to do again.  Along with a safari-laden trip to South Africa.

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A Zip-line Adventure

A Zip-line Adventure

By JoHanna James

I so enjoy cruising because it offers so many fun experiences!  Celebrating life aka birthdays, has always been a moment in time when I seek to enjoy the view and family even the more. One of the things that I decided to do to celebrate my 55th birthday was to do something adventurous – zip line!  Having challenged some family and friends who were part of a group cruise, the opportunity came aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas!  I was happy and excited to learn that the Oasis had its own zip-line and it was part of the cruise experience, aka FREE!

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So, with my best adventurous attitude, I signed the waiver, and jumped into line where I had plenty of opportunity to back-out (but I didn’t), instead I took the time to chat with others in line – most younger than me :), who were also seeking a thrill.  The Oasis’ zip-line was just the right length and height and offered a priceless view of the ship.  The moment I was strapped into the gear-an interesting process- I followed the instructions of the ride’s attendant and off I went!!!!!!  Before I could get scared, it was over, but I will never forget the fun, the fear, the joy, and the contentment of having land under my feet again!

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If you are interested in going on an Oasis of the Seas vacation, I will be happy to talk with you more about my experience onboard the ship and with Royal Caribbean. I am a WOW certified agent and happy to help!

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