Recommend July 2016 - (Page 14)

MS Koningsdam onboard review continued concerts, but there was also a live 8-piece band that got everyone dancing and a crowdpleasing piano duo playing Billboard top hits. A fun music theme also dances through the ship with music-inspired architecture, deck names and museum-worthy art, which encouraged us to walk the stairs and explore the nooks and crannies of the ship. Packed for almost every show was the World Stage, which provides 270 degrees of easily changed surround-screen scenery for the live performances. Among our favorite acts were Jamie Allan, an entertaining "iMagician"; an around-the-world dance show; and "Frozen Planet," an hour of BBC Earth film footage of the Polar wilderness set to live music. Unlike on many ships, we felt the ship helped connect us to the ports of call. In Spain, for example, the Culinary Arts Center offered a paella-making class and we saw a phenomenal Flamenco dance program. In addition, the ship's knowledgeable "location guide" offered interesting port and culture talks and scheduled evening and morning hours to answer individual questions. Going Places The ship's varied itineraries are timed to provide the flexibility to combine two and sometimes more segments to create longer voyages. We met a number of passengers who were combining three segments to create journeys that spanned several weeks. Its ports of call include a combination of popular and less-visited locales. In addition, the choice of excursions offered by the line is varied enough to fit a wide range of interests, ranging from walking and van tours that focus on destination highlights to a cooking lesson on a Sicilian farm and a tour of the World War II tunnels of Gibraltar. The ship will home port in Amsterdam for a summer series of northern Europe and Baltic cruises and then cruise the Mediterranean in September before crossing the Atlantic to home port at Port Everglades, offering a choice of Caribbean itineraries. Rates start at $1,299 for 12-day Mediterranean itineraries; from $899 for 7-day Caribbean itineraries. ■ Contact Information Holland America Line: 14 july 2016 Do Like the Locals Carla Hunt Never underestimate the power of a hotel to capture for guests the specialty adventures of its immediate neighborhood, and to unlock the essence and authenticity of its locale. By opening new hospitality horizons, Latin America hotels continue to change the landscape of vacation planning for the active and adventurous traveler, while also delivering memorable cultural experiences. Let's consider some prime-time examples... ...In Chile Wine regions in Argentina and Chile (and now Uruguay) know how to combine engaging wine experiences on local estates with high adventures close-by. One good pick among many in the Argentine wine region of Mendoza is The Vines Resort & Spa, housing guests in 22 spacious, rustically elegant villas. The main lodge houses the dining area (with the accent on beer creations by Francis Mallmann in the Siete Fuegos restaurant), bar and wine cellar, and spa, while other guest amenities include an infinity pool and winery hosting Malbec wine tastings, plus options to pick and punch down grapes to make your own barrel of wine. The Vines' experiences showcase adventures in the surrounding Uco Valley: exploring the wine routes, fly fishing, rafting, helicopter rides, trekking, mountain biking and polo. The adventure team-aptly called Gauchos-also organizes visits to artisan markets and art galleries, onsite cooking or tango lessons, and nights out on the town. For a single night, a villa is priced from $595 pp dbl, including breakfast, a vineyard tour and wine tasting. ...In Ecuador Sophisticated boutique Casa Gangotena occupies a grand restored mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco in Quito's UNESCO-acclaimed centro historico. Guests are treated to elegantly designed rooms, an award-winning gourmet restaurant, and a garden abloom with native flowers. To give guests a special vision of Ecuadorean culture, the hotel offers Casa Gangotena Quito Experiences daily between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday is "Chocolate Day," introducing and tasting one of Ecuador's most famous products; Tuesday is reserved for learning about traditional "Limpias," body- and spirit-cleansing rituals; Wednesday is "San Francisco from Above" time, a survey of the Plaza's five centuries of history from the hotel's panoramic terrace; Thursday offers El Alabado After Hours, a 1-hour immersion in the nearby museum's collection; Friday features a guided walk, From Plaza Grande to Plaza San Francisco; Saturday is designated History of Casa Gangotena day, with a guided hotel visit; and Sunday's theme activity is Agua de Frescos, a presentation focused on the herbs and flowers used in the signature house cocktail. Deluxe rooms prices start at $450 per night. ...In Guatemala When I first stayed at the enchanting 7-room Posada del Angel in Antigua, Guatemala- some 15 years ago, following in the footsteps of guest Bill Clinton-the owner had already curated a series of connoisseur-led journeys called Authentic Antigua Experiences, introducing

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend July 2016

Editor’s Notes
Hotel Desk: Escape the Ordinary
Tour Talk: Rail Travel in Europe
Expedition Cruising: Adventure of a Lifetime
Onboard Review: Holland America’s MS Koningsdam
Do Like the Locals in Latin America
Only on These Islands
Travel Advisor Corner: Dining Out on International
Onsite Review: Barbados
Explore Israel Off the Well-Trodden Road
Onsite Review: South Africa: From Beach to Bush
Explore the Great Outdoors via Rail Travel
Onsite Review: Club Med Sandpiper Bay
Singular Experiences
Onsite Review: At Home in Thuringia, Germany
Journeys Beyond the Ordinary
Come Aboard: India Rail Travel

Recommend July 2016