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The Ocean

Posted by Rai Caluori
October 4, 2011
It was evening and the vastness of the horizon, the inky night sky and endless sapphire waters made me think, 'this must be what eternity looks like.'
The Ocean The vast ocean.

He went to sea, to see the sea … yes, I did indeed.

My first 24 years were spent growing or struggling up in the “smoke” as we used to colloquially call it – London. The expectancy of the ‘60s developed into the dreariness of the ‘70s and, after some tough familial experiences, I graduated from University College London with a Bachelor of Science degree in Experimental Psychology (about as useful as an ash tray on a motor bike!). My heart was in entertainment, however (I discovered a talent for singing almost overnight at the age of 16) and I longed to be involved in theatre or in the leisure business. After a couple of years working in various (and some dubious) theatrical productions, I found myself in a Christmas show in Glasgow, of all places, in the dead of winter 1983.

I’m sure you get the picture. Twenty-four years of questionable weather, a challenging family situation with a single mother raising three boys, career confusion … then suddenly fate, being what it is, plucked me from this world and transported me to the world of cruising and to what has become my greatest love – the ocean.

It wasn’t exactly that dramatic, but it was quick. I auditioned and interviewed for a position as Assistant Cruise Director for P&O Princess Cruises in London in March 1984. Read More

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Romance in the City by the Bay

San Francisco, California
September 27, 2011
There is also something intangible about San Francisco that captures the senses. I think it’s the very light that fills you with emotion.
Romance in the City by the Bay The iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

I did not leave my heart in San Francisco, as the old song goes. It came home with me, joined to my new husband as we started our married life together.  San Francisco left something of itself with me in the form of an enduring memory of the wonderful time I spent there on my honeymoon.

Of course, most honeymoons would be described as romantic, but I think that San Francisco meets the criteria in a unique way. A hillside city that tumbles onto a scenic coastline–how could that not inspire romance?

There is also something intangible about San Francisco that captures the senses. I think it’s the very light that fills you with emotion. From the amber glow of the sun on the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, which warms the senses, to the chilly fog that suddenly sweeps in off the water and makes you want to cuddle close, the city has an ambience that plays to couples.

There’s an adventurous facet to San Francisco that is also romantic. I realize that Alcatraz Island–the famous former prison that was guarded in part by shark-filled waters–and the heart-skipping hills that seem like roller coasters don’t fit most people’s definition of “romantic.” Read More

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Trekking to the Hidden Temple City

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Posted by Vicki Cohen
September 20, 2011
As I wandered among the extensive bas-reliefs portraying everything from conquests to everyday life, I tried to imagine what it was like to be in Angkor Wat during its prime a thousand years ago.
Trekking to the Hidden Temple City Vicki, right, and her friend, Mindy, stand in front of Angor Wat, along with her mom's bear and trip mascot Teddy.

It made perfect sense to my traveling companions and me that, during a cruise to Antarctica, we were deciding on our next journey—a tropical adventure.

As our cruise ship skirted the coldest place on earth—itself a destination for the bucket list—we talked excitedly about one day going to Cambodia’s long-hidden temple city, Angkor Wat.

I have explored many far-flung places with my friends Mindy, Randy and Kathy—China, Tibet, Machu Picchu and more.  We travel well together because we share the same philosophy about travel: to journey far and wide, to go deep into the countries we visit, and to get as close as possible to the locals and their lives as they’d allow.

That was our goal when we ventured to Cambodia last April.  Cambodia’s incredible, moat-ringed temple of Angkor Wat was our primary destination although the country itself, so different from our own, was of great interest, too.  As we flew into the capital city of Phnom Penh, where we would stay for a few days before heading to the Angkor region, I checked my hand luggage for Teddy.

We were joined by a special guest, one of my mom’s teddy bears.  Mom had passed away only two months before and this was my way of remembering her and the annual cruise we took.  She also loved to travel, so perhaps she passed along the travel bug to me.  On my more exotic trips she enjoyed reliving my experiences through the photos I’d share with her.  Now, Teddy was part of the team.  He was our special mascot and tribute to my mom. Read More

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The Great Love of My Life

The Interior of Alaska
Posted by Judy Bliss
September 13, 2011
Denali National Park has its own rhythm of movement that changes with the seasons and has influenced my life in one way or another with each subsequent visit. Closest to my heart, my Alaska story leads to love.
The Great Love of My Life Judy, with her 25-pound King salmon, on the Gulkana River in Alaska.

Alaska was at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  My father had fostered my love of wildlife and wilderness during my childhood in Pennsylvania, and I expected that Alaska would hold an abundance of both.  Well, I was right. In 1983, at the age of 28, I followed my dream to visit Alaska and cruised from Vancouver to Whittier.

The untouched, spectacular beauty of Alaska deeply impressed me, and as my flight home from Anchorage took off over the snow-capped Wrangell-St. Elias mountain range, my fate was sealed.  I knew with absolute certainty that I would come back to this place.  I had not seen Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America.  I wondered, though, how I would afford to return.

Two months later I began my first day of employment as a district sales manager with Princess Cruises, where I would have the opportunity to share my knowledge of and enthusiasm for Alaska.  And, since we offer land tours into the interior of Alaska, I knew one day I’d be able to see Mt. McKinley.

It was three years and one month later when I finally set my eyes on this great 20,320-foot mountain, the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.  The mountain was named after President William McKinley in 1897, but most locals refer to it by its native Athabaskan name:  Denali, meaning “the high one.” Read More

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Savoring Flavorful Hong Kong

Hong Kong
September 6, 2011
Hong Kong stands out in my memory as an incredible place that opened my eyes to how wonderfully food can be prepared, presented and, most of all, enjoyed.
Savoring Flavorful Hong Kong Hong Kong Harbor at Night

As someone who travels for a living, I have favorite destinations on every continent. But if you asked me which place out of all that I have seen is at the top of my list, I would have to say Hong Kong.

It’s been 23 years since I’ve visited Hong Kong … an eternity! But it stands out in my memory as an incredible place that opened my eyes to how wonderfully food can be prepared, presented and, most of all, enjoyed. Hong Kong — Chinese but with a blend of British influence, that thrilling mix of East and West – offers the full spectrum of experiences. It encompasses the highest levels of luxury and the simplest basics of life, all in a small space about the size of Rhode Island in the U.S.

I first traveled to Hong Kong in 1988 on the original Sea Princess, one of my favorite ships. At the time, I was 29, the youngest head waiter on board. I already had worked in the sophisticated restaurants of London and been with Princess for six years.

I thought I was a seasoned traveler, but the approach to Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor was so breathtaking, so stunning and unique, I immediately realized that the world still had surprises in store for me. The view of towering skyscrapers above and simple houseboats below, the high and the low, had my head nodding up and down, just trying to take it all in.

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Enveloped by the Magic of a Bygone Empire

Prague, Czech Republic
Posted by Cindy Botelho
August 30, 2011
But Prague is magical, and it has a way of distracting you from life’s daily concerns.
Enveloped by the Magic of a Bygone Empire Cindy in Prague in 2001.

It’s rare that a business trip leads to magical travel memories.  Usually you could be anywhere, tucked away in meeting rooms.  But Prague was the exception for me, and remains a special discovery to this day.

I was just appointed National Accounts Manager and was traveling to Budapest and Prague, two jewels of Eastern Europe, for an industry conference.  My days in Budapest flew by in hotel conference rooms, just as you’d expect.  But then we traveled to Prague, and it turned out to be a place that would envelop me in history, and its gracious, old-world charm and urban beauty would inspire and surprise me.

I was not prepared to step back in time but that is what it felt like entering the Old Town section of Prague, where my hotel, a converted convent, was located. The cobblestone streets, the beautiful Old Town Square ringed with majestic buildings and then the bridge–the Charles Bridge–that would become the center point of Prague for me and the catalyst for a cascade of emotions I did not expect to experience on a business trip. Read More

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