- Oh, the Places I’ve Been
- Cuba 2015
- Tauck Rhine River Cruise 2015
- Tauck Italy 2015 with Andrew
- Crystal Serenity World Cruise
- Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas with kids
- Sydney to Bali to Singapore on the Crystal Symphony
- Regent Seven Seas – Cambodia to India
- Antarctica 2013
- Oceania Riviera Christening
- Tahiti on the Paul Gauguin
- New York to Montreal on the Crystal Symphony
- Western Europe on the Brand New Oceania Marina
- Taking Our Grandson to London and Paris
- Dubai and South Africa
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By Jerry Davis on May 1, 2013
A trip to Antarctica has been on my bucket list for the longest time. I pictured stunning scenery, loved the “frontier” nature of an exploration, and I own up to wanting the moniker of having travelled on all seven continents. The big challenge was convincing Irene to go. Not because she didn’t want to experience it, but, as an experienced cruiser, she was terrified of the crossing of the Drake Passage, which had a reputation of being some of the roughest waters on earth. She decided a deluxe voyage would make her feel a little more comfortable and I jumped at the opportunity and booked Tauck World Discovery -- one of Alice Travel’s most popular and preferred suppliers. Our first order of business was outfitting for the trip based on the laundry list of must haves. I noticed Irene did not take any of the labels off until we were on our way to our first excursion. Was she still thinking we would turn back? We flew to Buenos Aries and stayed at the beautiful Caesar Park. We had several days of sightseeing that included the famous Ricolleta Cemetery where Eva Peron is buried, the colorful Boca, and a tango show. The city feels very European. Let me tell you that the Tauck tour directors who were with us the whole way were great … we couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you Big Bill, Little Bill and Carla. Leaving Buenos Aires, we flew to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, and the gateway to Antarctica. We totally enjoyed our tour of Tierra Del Fuego National Park and boarded the beautiful 132-cabin Le Boreal late in the afternoon. We set sail at 5PM, unpacked, had the mandatory safety drill followed by a delicious dinner. Our charming captain then warned us to get ready for a rough night…the dreaded Drake’s Passage. Little did we know how rough it would get. About 3AM we heard a loud crash and the ship rocked a lot, but we went back to sleep. At 8AM, the captain came on the intercom and told us that a rogue wave, at least 30 ft. high, had crashed over the side of the ship and broke a verandah. The woman was thrown out of bed and had severe cuts from the broken glass. The captain and ship’s doctor made the decision to turn back to Ushuaia … the woman needed medical attention that could not be provided on the ship. We returned to Ushuaia and the unfortunate passenger was unloaded on a pilot boat. Need I tell you, to Irene’s malcontent, we went back through the Drake Passage for yet a third time! We had a rough two more days until we reached the Antarctic Peninsula. But when we awoke to a magnificent sunny, cloudless day with breathtaking mountains of ice all around us, we quickly forgave the difficult passage. The routine we followed for the next five days was early breakfast followed by a zodiac excursion with a naturalist to a landing on either an island or the peninsula. Most of the landings were “wet” landings -- we stepped out of the zodiac into about a foot or 18” of ice cold water. (The high boots we rented protected us from the water.) These excursions usually lasted about 1½ hours and included visits with various species of penguins who turned out to be as curious about us as we were about them. We were told to keep about 15 ft. away but often the penguins walked right up to us. The temperature for the most part was in the high 20s or low 30s with very little wind. It was actually warmer in Antarctica than back home in Parsippany NJ. Walking on ice and snow was challenging but we were aided with walking sticks. After the excursion we returned for lunch and often a lecture. After lunch there was a second excursion, a zodiac ride with a naturalist for about 1½ hours, without a landing … interesting and exhilarating stuff. We saw whales and various species of seals and of course lots of penguins and other birds. The enormous icebergs were breathtaking, with shades of blue. Our five days in the Antarctic Peninsula were wonderful, with a different adventure on each excursion. On the last day the captain told us he would try to get the ship close to “pack ice -- ice not very thick but considered safe. We did land but the ice started to break up, so we had to quickly get back to the zodiacs and back to the ship. As some of you may know, I am an enthusiastic photographer. It was challenging to get good photos on cloudless, sunny days. The bright sun, water, ice and snowcapped mountains posed very difficult light conditions to take good photos. Many would have been overexposed except by manually changing some controls. Leaving this wonderland, we had to do our fourth sailing through the foreboding Drake Passage and two more days of rather rough seas. Late on the second day we got back to Ushuaia. The following morning we flew back to Buenos Aires. We had no clue that there was another adventure awaiting us. We learned there was a big snowstorm in NY and our flight was cancelled. We returned to Caesar Palace Hotel for yet another night. We were lucky to get a flight back to NJ the following day and returned home tired but exhilarated. Would I call our trip to Antarctica a vacation … perhaps not. But it was an exciting adventure and if that’s what you’re looking for, by all means!!!
By Jerry Davis on May 14, 2012
The sail-in to this city is one of the most beautiful in the world. You get a very different perspective of this city built on canals from high on Riviera’s top deck. It was eerily quiet early in the morning, as we sailed past the Grand Canal and the Doge’s Palace to our dock. Our excursion took us to the islands of Murano and Burano. Irene and I had not been back here since 1966 and were looking forward to it. After a leisurely half hour boat ride to Murano, we were given the opportunity to see a true glass artist and master craftsman in action at a glass factory. It was very worthwhile including the tour of the showrooms and We toured the showrooms and marveled at the items on display, especially the exquisite Venetian chandeliers. Then it was off to the island of Burano, a fishing island where all the houses are painted in different bright colors. The island is also famous for its lace and we were able to visit an artist at work. A short boat ride let us off in the heart of Venice, where we walked to St. Mark’s square. The square was mobbed. We walked around the square and took in the atmosphere of the competing orchestras in the 2 cafes and marveled at the Byzantine St Mark’s Cathedral. After an action packed day, it was time to return to the ship to pack our bags and enjoy final scrumptious dinner.
By Jerry Davis on May 13, 2012
May 11 was the gala naming and christening ceremony of the Riviera.The godmother is Cat Cora, the only female Iron Chef on the Food Network. The ceremony was very festive with flamenco dancers, acrobats, a speech by the mayor of Barcelona and numerous other dignitaries. The bottle of champagne smashed on Riviera’s hull on cue and we were off to the next port, one of my favorite cities, Venice. But before Venice, we had two delightfully leisurely days at sea with lots of sunshine and time by the pool. Irene took advantage of was Riviera’s interactive, hands-on culinary center. She made tapas, specifically white bean dip and falafel.
By Jerry Davis on May 10, 2012
While we have been to Barcelona many times, we thoroughly enjoyed both days here. Again Oceania provided us with a complimentary excursion to explore the highlights including the magnificent Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. a motor coach ride past several of Antonio Gaudi’s Art Nouveau buildings, and a stop at Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. Begun in 1884, this peculiar and incredibly original church is slowly being completed through donations. Before returning to the ship for lunch, we went to the Montjuic Gardens and Mirimar for a panoramic view of the city. We went on another excursion in the afternoon to the city’s outskirts, examining a very interesting Gaudi church, also unfinished, and ended up at a wonderful cava winery.
By Jerry Davis on May 9, 2012
We had never been to this port before and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a clean, beautiful city and, again, Oceania treated us to an excursion, which took in the highlights of this third largest city in Spain. The central market was very interesting, so was the cathedral. The highlight of the tour was a stop at the City of Arts and Science, the newest landmark in Valencia and the largest cultural-educational complex in Europe.
By Jerry Davis on May 8, 2012
Day at Sea- and a chance to get to know the Riviera. The morning was devoted to a presentation by senior executives of Oceania Cruises, followed by a Q & A. All very informative. We took a tour of the ship’s public rooms and suites. Dinner for us this evening was in Privee with Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania Cruises and Chairman and CEO of the parent company, Prestige Holdings. Privee is an exclusive dining room behind the Polo Grill that seats 10. Exquisite! The Riviera is such a comfortable ship. I think the size is just perfect. The staterooms are large. The food in the specialty restaurants is beyond fabulous — Jacques, the French bistro; Red Ginger, Asian; Polo Grill, for steaks; and Toscana, Italian. But the big surprise to us was was the consistency, great choices and excellent quality of the meals in Main Dining Room. Our biggest kudos go to the outstanding crew, professional and friendly in every way.