Looking forward in the New Year, we’ll see new ships cruising the world’s oceans and rivers, as well as renovations, upgrades - and even one total transformation, of older ships.
Revered as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Montreal is also the largest bilingual city in North America, and the world’s second largest French-speaking city after Paris. A delicious melange of European flair and Canadian charm, the four-hundred-year-old metropolis has a spirited heart and soul that is palatable on the cobblestone streets that line the Old City, in the hip nightclubs that dot the trendy neighborhoods and in the gourmet restaurants presided over by world-class chefs. With a discernible joie de vivre, a French expression that translates to a ‘joy of life’, the scenic island along the mighty St. Lawrence River is one of the most visited on the planet.
Thrusting into the North Sea and the Baltic, with the Arctic Circle to the north and continental Europe to the south, the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden share a common culture and a long history. On a 10-day visit to the capitals of Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen savor Scandinavia’s essence-seaside and woodland beauty, traditional and cutting-edge arts, fresh-caught fish and game, and, best of all, warm-hearted people.
Studded with UNESCO World Heritage sites, crenellated castles, royal residences, Roman aqueducts, deep lakes, bright countryside and stone villages, Piedmont (or Piemonte in Italian, meaning at the foot of the mountain) is home to the Slow Food Movement, a global organization that has been called the “cure” for a distressingly fast-food world.
A very old iron chain, bolted into the black granite of Rio de Janeiro’s highest peak, Pico da Tijuca serves as a hand rail. It was laid across this last pitch for the king of Belgium, an avid rock climber, in anticipation of his visit back in the late 1800s. Steps were also hand-chiseled into the steep slope for the king’s convenience, but he disregarded both and galloped up the sheer rock to the summit like a goat.
Leaf cutter ants climb high in the trees of the Belizean jungle to get the choicest leaf chunks. They walk in long lines, their cargo hoisted on their backs, as though they are working in a chain gang. Coming and going, they march along our branch banister as we climb up to the next zip lining platform. I could stay and watch the ants - they seem like a sideshow, and are almost nearly as entertaining as zip-lining.
West of Barbados and between St. Vincent and Martinique, St. Lucia (www.stlucia.org) is the kind of vacation that sells itself. With a regal roster of resorts, spas and restaurants that rival the best in the world, plenty of flights from the US, and the spectacular natural beauty of the Piton Mountains, the scenic sliver in the Eastern Caribbean is tops with the romance crowd, families, singles, nature lovers and just about everyone else looking for a winter getaway in the sun.
Fascinating, exotic and lively, perennial Mumbai always enchants. Whether you’re a first time visitor or a well traveled habitue, India’s most cosmopolitan city boasts a panoply of colors, flavors and aromas. With luxury hotels, spas, restaurants, famous sights, and a rich cultural heritage, there’s something for everyone. Capital of the West Indian state of Maharashtra, Mumbai, aka Bollywood, is also the ‘Entertainment Capital of India’. Known as the ‘City That Never Sleeps’ Mumbai’s glamorous nightlife is legendary. To many, it will always be their favorite place to go.