Archive for the 'Photos' Category

Photo Contest August 11, 2017 – Venice

posted by Wayne
August 19, 2017

Contest Photo – Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal

We were thrilled with the response to last week’s photo contest which asked for the name of the bridge and body of water shown in the contest photo (photo on right).  The correct responses to this two part question were Rialto Bridge (or Ponte Rialto) and Grand Canal.  The Grand Canal is the body of water that snakes through the center of Venice and is equal to a city’s main street.  The ornate and picturesque Rialto Bridge is at the heart of Venice.

More views of the grand canal

More views of the grand canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We (Wayne and Rachelle) were in Venice for 3 days where we boarded the Celebrity Constellation for a 9 night cruise in the Adriatic Sea.  The cruise ended in Rome (Civitavecchia) where we spent another 3 days.

Gondola passing under a small bridge

Small waterway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until you have actually experienced Venice, it is hard to conceptualize a city whose walkways and bridges are interwoven with waterways and whose “main street” is a grand canal.  Our hotel, just a 5 minute walk from St Mark’s Square, was located on a small waterway frequented by serenading gondoliers.  As picturesque as the gondolas are from afar, a close inspection reveals superb maintenance and great attention to design detail.

Gondolas up close

Gondola up close

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Venice, there are basically 2 different modes of water transportation:  water taxis and water buses.  Water taxis are private, point-to-point hires just as a land taxi would be.  They will take you right to your door if requested. Water buses, like land buses, run on a schedule and have multiple lines and designated stops.  Depending on the line, they can be pretty crowded.

 

 

ACTV “bus” line

Alilaguna “bus” line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Pat Horne of Edison, NJ, whose name was randomly drawn from those who responded correctly. Pat will receive a $25 credit towards a trip booked through Just Cruises Plus.

 

Romance in St Mark’s Square

 

Call us to help you plan your next vacation which includes Venice!

Photo Contest September 10, 2016 – Amalfi

posted by Wayne
September 17, 2016
Contest Photo - Amalfi

Contest Photo – Amalfi

We were surprised at how many people identified Amalfi in our photo contest.  We can’t seem to stump our well-traveled friends!  The winner of the contest is Chuck Diefenderfer of Jekyll Island, GA, whose name was randomly selected from the 27 correct responses.

Amalfi's town squre

Amalfi’s town squre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amalfi's Cathedral

Amalfi’s Cathedral

 

 

Amalfi was one of the very picturesque ports on our 7 day cruise along the Amalfi Coast aboard the Star Flyer, a real sailing ship.

It is a prime tourist port with lots of shops and restaurants.  It has a rich history dating back to the 6th century.  It’s most well known attraction is the Cathedral of Amalfi with works by Michelangelo and Bernini.  In Amalfi, we had some of the best olives that we’ve ever tasted at a local restaurant — and they were free.

Amalfi is a good jumping off point for Ravello, a popular spot along the Amalfi coast.  One can take a bus to Ravello from Amalfi, but beware of traffic during summer months!

On our trip, we also visited the “picture postcard” island of Lipari, one of 7 small islands of the Aeolian archipelago.  We opted for the only excursion offered by the ship, a motorcoach tour of the island which offered us many opportunities to take wonderful photos from high in the hills.  We also stopped at “Marisa”s Place where we sampled Malvasia, the local wine, as well as many flavors of delicious cookies.

It would be inaccurate to classify Messina as a picturesque port.  While we found that Messina itself has little to offer, an excursion to Taormina is a must from this port.  The town is perched on a terrace overlooking the sea so we got wonderful photos.  The highlight is the Grecian theater famous for its size and acoustic qualities.  It is still used for open air performances.

View from the hills of Lipari

View from the hills of Lipari

 

Entering Taormina’s main street

View of Mt. Etna from Taormina

View of Mt. Etna from Taormina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking down a street in Pompeii

Looking down a street in Pompeii

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorrento is another port, beautiful on its own, where one can enjoy shopping and restaurants.  However, the main attractions are nearby and you will have difficult choices.  We chose to visit Pompeii, buried by the  eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  You will walk the streets of Pompeii and visit wealthy patrician homes just as they looked almost 2000 years ago.

Herculaneum is another (smaller) city destroyed by the eruption that buried Pompeii.  Folks who went there told us that it was a great experience.  Workers are still excavating the town.

The third choice for Sorrento  is the famed Capri.  Those who chose this tour  raved about the beauty of Capri and they said a highlight was a visit to the Blue Grotto.  You need to get to Capri by boat so you should be aware that it can be a rough trip.  However, the waters were quite calm for the folks who visited Capri from our ship.

Picturesque Ponza Waterfront

Picturesque Ponza Waterfront

The final port on our itinerary was the picturesque fishing village of Ponza which, according to legend was the home of Circe who seduced Uslysses.  This port was teeming with vacationing locals.  While in Ponza, you could easily take a local boat to one of the beaches, take a different boat to visit Ponza’s grottos or simply walk through the town.  We ate lunch at a restaurant overlooking the tiny harbor where two Star Clipper ships were anchored – our Star Flyer and the larger Royal Clipper.

Call for more info about the Amalfi Coast.  This was one of our favorite destinations!

 

 

 

Photo Contest – February 19, 2016

posted by Wayne
February 28, 2016
Contest Photo - Eetcafe The Paddock in Aruba

Contest Photo – Eetcafe The Paddock in Aruba

Only five people out of a total of 22 responses correctly identified the location of the photo submitted by Joe Baum.  The winner of the drawing is Paul Crager of Philadelphia, PA who will receive a $25 gift card.  The photo is of a restaurant called Eetcafe The Paddock located in Aruba.  While we’ve never eaten there and cannot give an opinion of the restaurant, we highly recommend Aruba, the “A” in the ABC islands.  You’ll find picturesque beaches (Eagle Beach is very wide with fine powdery sand), friendly people and great shopping in this Dutch island.  You can visit in the fall since hurricanes are rare this far south in the Caribbean.  You are less than 20 miles from South America when in Aruba.

Hoiberg Mountain

Hoiberg Mountain

 

 

 

We have included several other great photos taken by Joe on his visit to Aruba.  We especially like the one of Hooiberg mountain, the major landmark of Aruba.  Natural Bridge was another landmark until it collapsed in 2005.

Coral Princess Docked in Aruba

Coral Princess Docked in Aruba

 

 

Aruba's colorful port

Aruba’s colorful port

Natural Bridge - Aruba

Natural Bridge – Aruba (bridge collapsed in 2005)

 

 

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad - 2/15/15 Photo Contest

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad – 2/15/15 Contest

We received 67 responses to our 2/15/15 photo contest and, although everyone knew that the photo was taken in Alaska, just 41 correctly named both the railroad and the location. The winner of the contest is Norm Remer of Southampton, PA, whose name was randomly selected from the 41correct responses.

The town of Skagway, located on the Alaskan Panhandle, has a population of less than 1000 which doubles in size during the summer months to support the huge influx of tourists.  The port is a popular cruise ship stop — understandable, when you walk through the small town and, everywhere you turn, there is a breathtaking view of mountains.

Downtown Skagway

Downtown Skagway

Skagway’s White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, originally built during the Gold Rush, runs throughout the summer months.  Although usually pulled by diesel locomotives, you could get lucky and ride behind an old time steam locomotive.  There are several trips per day and, although you can purchase tickets while on your ship, we recommend that you purchase them in advance to assure you get the excursion you want.  This is our number one recommendation for Skagway.  The scenery is amazing — hence, the reference to the “Scenic Railroad of the World”.

Advertisement or graffiti? (photo taken by Jahn Nolan)

Advertisement or graffiti? (photo by Jahn Nolan)

 

 

The most common tour offered is round trip from “downtown” Skagway to past the summit and return. This tour crosses the Canadian boarder into Yukon Territory, British Columbia. For those who want to combine the railway experience with other adventures, there are several combo-variations offered including; Railway with Kayaking, Railway with Hiking, Railway with a Dog Sled visit and Railway with Biking.

View of the steam locomotive and the dock from the town

 

 

 

 

 

We opted for a tour which took us by train to Fort Fraser and then we biked back to the town.  Even with the drizzly weather, the ride to the bottom was exhilarating!  There was little pedaling and lots of braking.

Preparing to bike down the mountain

Preparing to bike down the mountain

 

 

 

 

Our trip to Alaska was in early September.  The temperature was a LOT warmer than we are experiencing here (in Philadelphia).

Photo Contest July 12th – Pitons

posted by Wayne
July 19, 2014
July 12 Contest Photo - Pitons of St. Lucia

July 12 Contest Photo - Pitons of St. Lucia

We had 5 correct answers to our photo contest.  Congratulations to Bob Mandl of Coram, NY, winner of the $25 gift card.  His name was randomly selected from those who responded correctly.

The island in the photograph has two distinctions in addition to the famous Pitons featured in the photograph.

First, St Lucia has more Pulitzer prize winners per capita than any other sovereign nation in the world.  In 1978, Sir William Arthur Lewis won the prize for economics and in 1992, Derek Alton Walcott won a Pulitzer for poetry.

A second unique characteristic is that St Lucia has the only drive through volcano in the world.  Don’t worry, its dormant.  However, the smell of sulfur is still present.

The most known features are the Pitons shown in the photograph.  These two pointy mountains, known individually as “Gros” and “Petit”, are located near the southwest end of the island.  Mountain climbers are familiar with pitons which are metal spikes used in mountain climbing.

Other Views of St Lucia

Other Views of St Lucia

St Lucia is one of many volcanic islands in the Caribbean.  While most are dormant, a famous eruption occurred on the nearby island of Martinique in 1902.  Nearly the entire town was killed in the massive eruption that is said to have had the power of 40 Hiroshima atomic bombs.  The lone survivor was a man who was in jail for drunkenness.  The walls of the jail were thick and gave him protection from the blast.  I would not want to have his hangover.

Volcanic islands are characterized by high mountains and lots of rain.  They are great for hikers and climbers and the scenery is very dramatic.  These islands have dark and/or pebble beaches and the snorkeling and diving are not the best.

Other volcanic islands in the Caribbean are Dominique, Nevis, Saba, St Kitts, Grenada, and Monsterrat.  Coral islands are the other type of islands found in the Caribbean.  The Caymans, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Antigua Anguilla, Barbados and St Martin are typical Coral islands.  They were formed over thousands of years by the death of coral which piled up to form islands.  Beaches are the more familiar colors and snorkeling and diving are outstanding on these islands.

Trivia Challenge

There is one nation in the Caribbean where one large part of the island is volcanic and the other part is coral.  Can you name the nation?   All responses must be emailed to us by Thursday, July 24.  All correct responses will be placed in a random drawing for a $25 gift card.

Photo Contest June 13th – Cinque Terre

posted by Wayne
June 20, 2014

Last week’s photo contest was submitted by one of our clients after she returned from a Celebrity cruise in the Mediterranean.

Contest Photo - June 13, 2014 - One of  the villages of Cinque Terre

Contest Photo - June 13, 2014 - One of the villages of Cinque Terre

Only three people correctly identified the photograph of Cinque Terre (Five Lands) National Park, Italy.

Congratulations to Beverly Carr, of Philadelphia, PA, the winner of the $25 gift card.  Her name was randomly drawn from those who responded correctly.

The five “lands” are actually five highly picturesque villages near the breathtaking Ligurian coastline.  The villages are about a mile apart and are connected by trains and the Sentiero Azzureo walking trail.   These terraced towns are rife with history which dates back to the 11th century.  Most current residents’ livelihood comes from fishing and the tourist industry which  has boomed since the 1970s.  Because of the crowds, it is best to go in the spring and fall since summer is the major tourist season.

The nearest major town is La Spezia where you can catch a train or ferry for the short ride to the villages.  People with physical challenges will have some limitations due to the terrain.  However, the trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola (Via Dell’Amore) is wheelchair friendly.

Special thanks to Sheryl Portman for sharing this special photo with us.

Hubbard Glacier - 4/25/14 Photo Contest

Hubbard Glacier – 4/25/14 Photo Contest

We had 47 responses to last week’s photo contest.  There were many glacier names offered, but only 5 correctly named Hubbard Glacier.  Congratulations to Pat Horne of Edison, NJ, the winner of our $25 gift card.  Her name was randomly drawn from those who responded correctly.

Our ship sailed up to Hubbard Glacier during our Southbound Alaska cruise, from Seward to Vancouver.

Hubbard Glacier is one of the few glaciers that is “advancing” (gaining mass), despite global warming.  It takes about 400 years for ice to traverse the length of the of the glacier – this means that the ice at the foot of the glacier is about 400 years old.  The glacier routinely calves off icebergs the size of a ten story building.  Where the glacier meets the shore, most of the ice is below the waterline, and newly calved icebergs can shoot up quite dramatically, so that ships must keep their distance from it as they ply their way up and down the coast.

There is really no way to describes the feeling of being so close to this glacier and to experience the calving first hand!

Passage to the glacier - a view from our veranda

Passage to the glacier – a view from our veranda

Here are some things to keep in mind in preparation for your sail to a glacier while in Alaska.

Be outside. Yes, you can watch the close circuit camera images of the glacier on your television in the comfort of your cabin, but after all, why are you on this trip if not to see the grandeur of the glaciers in person.  If you have a veranda, by all means, this is the time to use it!  If you don’t have a veranda, use one of the many public decks.  Your ship will likely have commentary on the public address system, so you can learn about what you are seeing whether inside or out.  Your captain will make it a point to rotate the ship so that wherever you are on the ship, you will have the opportunity to see the glaciers.

Dress for the occasion. We sailed with a group at the end of August and even though we were comfortably warm during much of the land portion of our trip, the temperature does drop while you are outside and sailing up to the glaciers.  Be prepared with layers and for those of you who get cold easily, bring scarves, gloves and earmuffs or hats.   Our ship offered hot chocolate, which  hit the spot.

Have your camera ready.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture still photos or videos of the glaciers (only a video will capture the calving), but don’t let the camera consume you so much that you miss the experience of being there in person!

Taking a walk to the crevice

Taking a walk to the crevice

Walk on a Glacier

For the thrill of a lifetime, take a walk on a glacier.  We boarded a helicopter in Juneau and flew for about 20 minutes to one of the glaciers near Juneau.  After several attempts at landing, our skilled pilot found a fairly level spot to put down the chopper.  We got out and began our short trek with instructions not to fall in the crevices (we might not be found for centuries).  Of course, we were issued special boots which kept us from slipping on the ice.  It was an amazing experience.

 

 

 

 

George Bernard Shaw once said “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it”.  Dubrovnik (the answer to our extended photo contest) is nicknamed “Pearl of the Adriatic” and is listed as a

Dubrovnik - 1st Photo Contest Photo

Dubrovnik - 1st Photo Contest Photo

UNESCO World Heritage Site — and for good reason.  It is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Europe.  It is on the Southern tip of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea directly across from Bari, Italy.

During the middle ages, Dubrovnik rivaled Venice as the leading trade port in Europe.  Because of its primacy in commerce, it had rivals and potential enemies and a need for forts and walls to protect the city.  These walls are now the major tourist attractions of Dubrovnik.  They circumnavigate to Old City for a total distance of about a mile and a quarter.  The views from the walls are stunning and the monasteries, palaces and churches  within the walls are perfectly preserved and represent the best of medieval architecture.

 Tips from Just Crises Plus

Cab fare to the wall is about $15 per cab and the ride is about 15 minutes. Tell the cab driver to take you to the Ploce entrance which allows for an easier walk.  Note that all walking on the wall is counterclockwise and also note that the wall is not accessible for physically challenged folks as there are a total of 1080 steps along the wall.  There are several exits from the wall if you want to take a partial walk.

Local currency (Kuna) is needed for admission (90 kuna or $16.50).  We recommend that you get this before traveling because the ATM machines frequently run out of kunas.

 Interesting Fact

HBO show “Game of Thrones” is filmed along the wall.

And the Winner Is….

We only had 6 correct answers to this week’s photo contest.  Congratulations to Kevin Carlin of Philadelphia, PA, who we randomly selected to receive the $25 gift card.

Extended Contest Photo - A view from the wall

Extended Contest Photo - A view from the wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Views

Additional Views

Photo Contest January 12, 2014

posted by Wayne
January 18, 2014
Contest Photo 1/12/14

Contest Photo 1/12/14

We had a record number of correct answers to last week’s photo contest (photo on right).  In fact, we had no incorrect guesses.  Of course, the correct answer was New Orleans.

The “Big Easy” was originally settled by the Spanish, taken over by the French and finally sold to the US in the Louisiana Purchase.  Africans, both free and slave, were in New Orleans from its earliest days as were Native Americans. With this rich and diverse history, it is no wonder that New Orleans is America’s most unique big city.

Music, food and the Mardi Gras are the life blood of New Orleans and this year’s Mardi Gras is rapidly approaching.  The big day, Fat Tuesday, is on March 4th but the party has already started with the parades beginning on February 15th.

Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival all have round-trip sailings from New Orleans at various times of the year.  Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas has a couple of last minute deals worth checking out.

Congratulations to Larry Pollock of Levittown, PA, the winner of our $25 gift card.  His name was randomly selected from the 67 who responded correctly.

 

More Scenes of New Orleans. . . . .

New Orleans' Street 2

New Orleans Street Scene

 

French Market

French Market

Jazz-themed Metal Sculpture

Jazz-themed Metal Sculpture

New Orleans Street

New Orleans Street

Egret on Bank of the Mississippi

Egret on Bank of the Mississippi

The Edge of Jackson Square

The Edge of Jackson Square

Photo Contest November 15, 2013

posted by Wayne
November 22, 2013
Contest Photo 11/15/13

Contest Photo 11/15/13

In last week’s photo contest, twelve of you correctly guessed that the location of the contest photo  (shown at right) was Kotor, Montenegro.   The winner of our $25 gift card is Edward Korte, of Weaverville, NC, whose name was randomly selected from those who responded correctly

If you are on a Mediterranean or Adriatic itinerary, consider it a bonus to have the picturesque town of Kotor as one of your ports of call.  Located on a beautiful bay on the coast of Montenegro, Kotor is a city steeped in tradition and history, with remarkable scenic views. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the old city was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is filled with medieval architecture.

The bay is the deepest natural fjord in the Mediterranean Sea, and the scenery around it is spectacular.

Here are some additional views of Kotor.

 

 

 

Spectacular Coastline View

Spectacular Coastline View

Approaching the Port

Approaching the Port

Kotor with mountainous backdrop

Kotor up close with mountainous backdrop

Architecture of Kotor

Architecture of Kotor