Tag Archives: Travel

How to Pick a Cruise: 7 Tips to Keep You Afloat

 

Do you want a big ship or a small one?

  • The size of the ship may be the biggest factor in the type of cruise experience you have. Today’s cruise ships come in all sizes, from massive mega-ships that carry thousands of passengers, down to small expedition vessels or yacht-style ships that may carry fewer than 100. Each size of ship has its pros and cons. The largest ships—like a floating resort—offer a huge array of dining and entertainment options, and lots of onboard activities. They can be great for multi-generational family trips, because there’s plenty to occupy passengers of all ages. The downside is the potential for long lines for the buffet, disembarking for shore excursions, and so on, but the cruise lines are pretty adept at managing the crowds. The smallest ships offer a much more intimate and personal experience. You’ll definitely get to know your fellow passengers, and you’ll rarely have to wait for anything. Onboard activities, though, will be much more limited and will generally tend toward the intellectual. Often these cruises will have a distinct focus, such as exploring the culture or wildlife of the destination. A midsize ship (1,000 – 2,000 passengers) might be a great compromise, with lots of activities and entertainment, but less time waiting in line for shore excursions, dining, and so on. But they may not offer all the latest bells and whistles.

Do you want an action-packed itinerary, or one with more days to relax at sea?

  • Some destinations stop at a new port just about every day, like lots of Mediterranean cruises, while others may spend a few to several days at sea. If you’re looking to visit as many different places as possible, you’ll probably want as many stops as possible, but depending on the size of the ship, that can be exhausting. If you’re looking for a more relaxing vacation, days spent sailing between destinations give you time to enjoy the ship’s activities and amenities, get pampered at the spa, or just relax.

Do you want to get dressed up?

  • Formal night is a cruising tradition that harkens back to the golden days of the transatlantic passage, when passengers “dressed” for dinner each night. Most ships have at least one special formal night per cruise. For some cruisers, dressing up in swanky clothes for an elegant dinner is a highlight of the cruise experience. Others may want to skip the fuss altogether and opt for a cruise line that doesn’t offer a formal night. Remember that even if your cruise has a formal night, you’re not required to take part, and if you’re on a less formal ship, no one will object of you dress up nicely for dinner! What may matter more in terms of dress code is the everyday attire that’s expected. Small expedition vessels are typically very informal, and the largest ships offer something for everyone, while more upscale cruise lines may expect “country-club casual” attire on the ship.

What do you like to do for entertainment?

  • In this era of ever-bigger ships, you can find just about any kind of nightlife you like, from movies and stage shows, to casinos, dance clubs and karaoke. You won’t be bored during the day, either. When you’re not on shore, larger ships offer an array of classes and lectures, cooking demonstrations, beer and wine tastings and more. Kids and teens are catered for with special clubs and spaces giving them a space to play and hang with their peers. Smaller ships with less space tend to focus on more intellectual diversions—enrichment lectures, card & board games, and the like. Often, they offer a robust library, as well.

Do you get seasick?

  • If you’re worried about seasickness, the size of the ship and the destination can make a huge difference. Larger ships are equipped with stabilizers to minimize side-to-side motion in all but the most severe weather, while smaller ships tend to move around more. Choosing a destination is important, too. Cruises that stick closer to shore, like the Mediterranean or Alaska’s Inside Passage, rarely enter the open ocean where wind and swells are stronger. Some areas are notorious for rough water—the Drake Passage on Antarctica cruises, Queen Charlotte Strait in Alaska, and the Bay of Biscay, for example—but the time of year can also be a factor. Caribbean cruises are usually fairly calm, but during hurricane season, tropical storms can make voyages rougher. If you are sailing where there’s a potential for rough seas, your cabin location can help. The most stable part of the ship is in the middle of the ship near the waterline. Bonus? Those are often the least expensive cabins, as well!

Are you a night owl or early to bed?

  • Most cruise ships offer plenty to keep passengers occupied after the sun goes down. On larger ships, discos, stage shows, comedy shows, casinos, and a variety of lounges and bars ensure that no one need be bored. If you’re not a night owl, though, you’ll want to pick a cabin away from elevators that can be busy late into the night, and make sure your cabin isn’t beneath a dance floor. Some cruise lines are known for their active nightlife and party atmosphere—Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian come to mind—while others tend to attract passengers who turn in relatively early. Mainstream cruise lines usually offer the most variety, while luxury and niche vessels generally offer more sophisticated (and sedate) options.

What’s your budget?

  • There’s literally a cruise for just about any vacation budget. The length of the cruise, the destination, the type of ship, and your stateroom category all play a part in the cost of the cruise. Once you’ve decided what kind of cruise experience you’re looking for, there are strategies you can use to get the most for your money. Shorter cruises on larger ships can be very cost-effective, sometimes less than $100 per person per night (a great deal, when you consider all the food and entertainment that’s included). If you’re leaning toward a luxury cruise line, taking a shorter cruise or traveling during the off season can save you some money. Or, choose a less expensive cabin, and spend more time enjoying the ship’s amenities and public areas.
  • Whichever type of cruise you pick, make sure you know what’s included, and what you’ll pay extra for. In almost all cases, you’ll have to pay for guided shore excursions, and things like spa treatments, onboard shopping, etc. Meals are generally included, except for some specialty dining options, but alcoholic drinks generally are not. What can surprise first-time cruisers, though, is that soft drinks (sodas) cost extra, too. Special offers from cruise lines often include on-board credit, which you can spend for just about anything on board the ship, and sometimes things like beverage packages or prepaid gratuities, which can save you quite a bit.Finally, consider costs that aren’t part of the cruise cost, like airfare to and from your port of departure; a hotel the night before your cruise departs; and of course, your trip insurance.
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LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York

LANYLA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York

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LA NY is a dazzling visual tale of two cities, Los Angeles and New York, as seen from the air. Photographed straight down at a ninety-degree angle to emphasize the particular patterns of place, how the urban grid adapts to local topography, and how the topography itself adapts to human purposes, these two cities are revealed as never before in astonishing detail. Photographer Jeffrey Milstein explores residential and commercial neighborhoods, parks and recreation spots, as well as industrial districts and the infrastructure of transportation. Iconic buildings and landmarks are easy to spot, alongside suburban housing developments, apartment complexes, commercial hubs, entertainment and financial centers, and airports and shipping terminals. Milstein’s work deftly combines architecture, science, and art.

Using high-resolution cameras mounted to a stabilizing gyro, Milstein leaned out of helicopters over Los Angeles where he grew up and over New York where he now lives, looking for shapes and patterns of culture from above, continually awed by the difference an aerial view makes. In addition to the urban topography, events and activities have also been captured, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and outings at the beach.

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A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785

Voyage in the cloudsA Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785

by Matthew Olshan, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

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In the year and a half since the flight of the first manned balloon in 1783, an Italian has flown, a Scot has flown, a woman has flown, even a sheep has flown. But no one has flown from one country to another. John Jeffries, an Englishman, and his pilot, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a Frenchman, want to be the first. On January 7, 1785, they set out to cross the English Channel to France in a balloon. All seemed to be going fine, until Jeffries decides the balloon looks too fat and adjusts the air valve—how hard could it be? Too bad he drops the wrench over the side of the aerial car. With no way to adjust the valve, the balloon begins to sink. Jeffries and Blanchard throw as much as they can overboard—until there is nothing left, not even their clothes. Luckily, they come up with a clever (and surprising) solution that saves the day. A VOYAGE IN THE CLOUDS from Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall is a journey that will keep kids laughing the whole way.

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A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

A Thousand Days in VeniceA Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

by Marlena de Blasi

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This deliciously satisfying memoir is filled with the foods and flavors of Italy and peppered with culinary observations and recipes. The enchanting true story follows a woman who falls in love with both a man and a city, and finally finds the home she didn’t even know she was missing.

Fernando first sees Marlena across the Piazza San Marco and falls in love from afar. When he sees her again in a Venice cafe a year later, he knows it is fate. He knows little English; she, a divorced American chef traveling through Italy, speaks only food-based Italian. Marlena thought she was done with romantic love, incapable of intimacy. Yet within months of their first meeting, she has quit her job, sold her house in St. Louis, kissed her two grown sons good-bye, and moved to Venice to marry “the stranger,” as she calls Fernando.

“An irresistible grown-up love story.” —USA Today

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The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small by Kath Stathers (Editor)

The Bucket ListThe Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small

by Kath Stathers (Editor)

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With 1,000 adventures for all ages, it’s never too soon or too late to begin the things you’ve only dreamed of doing.

We all have things we’d like to do—one day—but work, family, school, money, and responsibilities get in the way. This invaluable guide to fun, fantastic, and life-affirming activities features an eclectic range of ideas such as self-improvement, sports-related endeavors, natural wonders, cultural experiences, culinary delights, and more. From glassblowing in the Czech Republic to swimming with dolphins in New Zealand, The Bucket List is the perfect gift for the passionate traveler—an around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of beaches, museums, monuments, islands, inns, restaurants, mountains, and more.

Each activity is location-specific and as geographically unique as bird-watching in Kenya or driving through clouds in Sri Lanka, as well as other to-dos that can be done anywhere, such as sketching a sunset behind an architectural monument. In addition to classic outdoor pursuits, the book contains advice on how to achieve some of the most popular goals for people of all ages: direct a movie, learn to play an instrument, make pottery, protect an endangered species, name a star, try a new cuisine, or learn a new language. Whether you are more active or laid-back, serious-minded or lighthearted, you are bound to discover new, stimulating activities.

“Travel Around the World and Back with Spring’s New Coffee Table Books”
Fathom

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The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa

 

The Masked RiderThe Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa

by Neil Peart

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By November 1988, when Neil Peart arrived in Cameroon, he’d been expanding his own life and art through almost twenty years of travel and adventure. Concert tours of North America and Europe with his Rush bandmates, and the shared creative odyssey of lyric-writing and drumming, had only fed his insatiable curiosity and creative ambition. Through solo travels in Europe and North America, then to China and East Africa, he continued challenging himself to do more, learn more, achieve more. Adventure travels moved from inspiration to perspiration and back again, as that irresistible quest for new horizons and new adventures inspired the wish to shape those horizons and share those adventures in words. Like a story, each journey took on a shape and structure from beginning to end, through daily challenges of problem-solving and adaptation, and resonated in his life forever after. Experiences, hardships, and exultant survival enriched his worldview twice over — once in the living, and again in the challenge of capturing them in words. Now 36, Peart was ready to attempt two of the greatest challenges of his life. The month-long bicycle tour through Cameroon would be his first trip through West Africa. Covering more than a thousand miles of primitive roads, trails, and goat paths, it was considered “the most difficult bike tour on the market.”

He had chosen to travel by bicycle, at “people speed,” because his other great challenge was creative. With notebook, tape recorder, camera, and an author’s transformative perspective and awareness, Peart’s goal was to inspire, “inhale,” his experiences of the sub-Saharan country, its cultures and art, religions, languages, multiple ethnic and colonial histories, and especially, its people — chiefs and villagers, soldiers and schoolchildren, missionaries and prostitutes — so comprehensively and imaginatively, that in “exhaling,” he could write with sufficient insight, accuracy of understanding, and vividness of memory, that his story would reveal and illuminate for the Western world something of the “face” behind the mask of Africa. Peart’s creative achievement as author became his first published book, and in the eight years since its original publication in 1996, The Masked Rider has become appreciated by readers worldwide as a rare, special, and unforgettable travel memoir and portrait of West Africa, as seen through the mask of the visiting “white man,” and through the equalyl complex masks of the Africans themselves.

Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist for the rock band Rush and the author of “Ghost Rider.” He lives in Santa Monica, California.

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Street Food: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Air Stands, Carts, and Food Trucks Across the Globe

Street FoodStreet Food: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Air Stands, Carts, and Food Trucks Across the Globe

by Colleen Taylor Sen (Editor), Bruce Kraig (Editor)

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This redesigned, repackaged, and updated edition of Street Food surveys common street foods from more than 75 countries and regions across the globe.

An estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide eat street food every day. Once associated with developing countries, street food has spread around the globe, particularly in the United States, where a variety of food trucks, top chefs, and trendy pop-up restaurants specialize in grab-and-go fare. Now more than ever, readers are interested in finding and tasting the different street foods prepared and consumed around the world.

Globe-trotters in search of the street-food experience will find information about street-food superpowers—such as China, India, and Mexico—and countries where street food plays a less important role, such as those in northern Europe. Contributed by the world’s leading food historians, the book’s entries provide a detailed look at vendor culture, fun facts, and illuminating statistics, as well as some historical and environmental background on specific foods.

First published in 2013, this reconceived version of Street Food is a comprehensive look at the world’s best street food, a must-have for travelers and foodies alike.

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Local Eats Paris: A Traveler’s Guide by Natasha McGuinness, Anne Bentley (Illustrator)

Local Eats ParisLocal Eats Paris: A Traveler’s Guide

by Natasha McGuinness, Anne Bentley (Illustrator)

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Local Eats Paris is the perfect traveling companion for those exploring the City of Lights and those simply delighted by all things French. The fabulous food found in the patisseries, bistros, fromageries, marches, cafes and more are described in delectable detail and accompanied by charming illustrations. A handy guide to ordering, a description of favorite French cheeses, perfect picnic food pairings, and a what’s what of market food can all be found in this lovely guide to Parisian gastronomy. The small format makes it the perfect guidebook to tuck into purse or backpack.

After writing Local Eats London: Bangers & Mash, Pasties, Jaffa Cake and other London Favorites, Natasha McGuinness hopped on a train and travelled through the Chunnel to turn her attention to Paris. After submersing herself in the gastronomy found in patisseries, boulangeries, bistros, marchés, fromageries and everything in between, she put together the perfect foodie dictionary to the cuisine found in the City of Lights. Now back in the United States, she lives in Los Angeles where she is working on her masters degree at the University of Southern California while plotting her next trip overseas.

Anne Bentley is an artist and illustrator based in Northern California. She creates wall art, hand-made cards, logo design, store signage and illustrations for boxed notecard sets, all while juggling paintbrushes, kids and dogs. The two dishes she always seeks out first when visiting Paris are duck confit and the perfect falafel found in her favorite neighborhood, Le Marais.

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Pagan Spain by Richard Wright

Pagan SpainPagan Spain by Richard Wright

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A master chronicler of the African-American experience, Richard Wright brilliantly expanded his literary horizons with Pagan Spain, originally published in 1957. The Spain he visited in the mid-twentieth century was not the romantic locale of song and story, but a place of tragic beauty and dangerous contradictions. The portrait he offers is a blistering, powerful, yet scrupulously honest depiction of a land and people in turmoil, caught in the strangling dual grip of cruel dictatorship and what Wright saw as an undercurrent of primitive faith. An amalgam of expert travel reportage, dramatic monologue, and arresting sociological critique, Pagan Spain serves as a pointed and still-relevant commentary on the grave human dangers of oppression and governmental corruption.

Richard Wright won international renown for his powerful and visceral depiction of the black experience. He stands today alongside such African-American luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and two of his novels, Native Son and Black Boy, are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. He died in 1960.

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A Land Without Borders: My Journey Around East Jerusalem and the West Bank

A Land without BordersA Land Without Borders: My Journey Around East Jerusalem and the West Bank

by Nir Baram, Jessica Cohen (Translator)

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From horror to fatigue to indifference, an important look forward and back that provides a grass-roots sense… An honest and troubling snapshot of Israel–both Palestinian and Israeli–that reveals the creeping realization that a two-state solution may no longer be possible.— Kirkus (starred review)

Throughout their youth Nir Baram’s generation were bombarded with news about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–the injustices, the wrongdoings, the killings. Over the decades, the horror and despair had become habit–he noticed people had begun to give up on the possibility of resolution. Yet, as Baram notes, ‘the vast majority of Israelis–as well as international onlookers– know next to nothing about life on the West Bank, the area at the heart of the conflict they have spent their adult lives dissecting’. Most have never visited the occupied territories, and thus ‘the debate revolves around a theoretical, ill-defined area sketched out in our political imagination.’

This book of reportage emerged from the author’s realization that Israel is separated from the West Bank not only by checkpoints but also, more significantly, by a cognitive barrier. And so began his quest to understand the occupation from both sides. The result is an essential and nuanced journey through places and experiences that receive little coverage.

Baram, widely considered one of the most important intellectual voices in Israel today, faces painful challenges to his personal political views and his hopes for a more peaceful future.

Nir Baram has worked as a journalist, editor, and advocate for Palestinian rights. He is the author of five novels in Hebrew. In 2010 he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Hebrew Literature.

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