Posts Tagged cruise
Virtuoso recently revealed the top destinations for 2013 as determined by the network’s annual Virtuoso Luxe Report. Based on input received from a survey of the world’s best travel advisors, the report provides insight on where, when and how travelers will go next – whether on land or afloat – be it couples, families and adventure-seekers, alike.
With the debut of Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile to the “most popular emerging destinations” list, findings indicate that Virtuoso’s clients are eager to venture into new territory, no matter how far-flung or remote. In these instances, the opportunity to explore lesser developed destinations to gain a richer experience outweighs the desire for more traditional “luxury.” Meanwhile, Cuba and Vietnam maintained their respective places among the top five emerging locations in the world, garnering attention from travelers in the know.
As baby boomers continue to drive travel sales, and the desire to spend time with loved ones prominently factoring into decisions, it is no surprise that the top and recurring trend for the upcoming year is multigenerational family travel. Ocean cruising is predicted to have renewed strength in 2013, with the Baltic Region making a new appearance on the list aside perennial favorites like Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. River cruising continues its strong growth trajectory, especially on the European waterways, and the addition of new routes throughout Asia will only bolster its popularity in the coming year.
Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel in 2013, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year Latin America emerges with Argentina making a first-time appearance on the list.
The biggest change from 2012 to 2013 is within the U.S. travel market. Napa Valley/Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska.
For families traveling in 2013, Italy will remain the chart-topper, with adventurous Costa Rica moving up in popularity to join England. New to the list this year is Mexico, breaking through to capture fourth place in the ranks of family travel. France, the Galapagos Islands and Turks & Caicos all tie for fifth place.
The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, France, and Bali. This year Fiji joins the list of exotic locations, reconfirming that romance knows no boundaries.
As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.
“This year’s Luxe Report has unveiled fascinating first-timers to the list. Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile are destinations growing in appeal to the savvy traveler and our 2013 report reflects this passion for exploring something new,” says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch , CTC. “The multi-faceted Virtuoso traveler wants to reconnect with loved ones, explore new destinations, and seek out opportunities for personal growth. These are all areas where collaborating with a Virtuoso travel advisor is essential, as their goal is to help travelers realize these dreams.”
The 2013 Luxe Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels. Travel advisors still continue to be the lead influencer in determining their clients’ travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.
Find out more about the top destinations featured in the Luxe Report here.
For more information, go to www.virtuoso.com.
Confetti cannons blew a riot of red and yellow slips skyward, and you could sense the envy of passengers looking on from a neighboring cruise ship. Chef Cat Cora had just christened Oceania Cruises’ newest vessel in sunny Barcelona, and the Riviera’s horn echoed with baritone bravado as its stewards, cooks, housekeepers, and other staff cheered from balconies.
I’d joined the 1,250-passenger ship five days earlier in Monte Carlo with international media, travel industry veterans, and around 50 top Virtuoso travel advisors for a preview (look for it in Virtuoso Life’s July/August issue – along with cruise writer Fran Golden’s previews of Viking River Cruises’ Odin and the Disney Fantasy). While on board, I’d put to the test Oceania’s claim of serving some of the best cuisine at sea, had one late night too many, and crossed my sun-soaking threshold by at least a couple of hours – all for the sake of journalism. Here’s a taste of the trip.
Of all my meals – including Chesapeake Bay crabcakes and aged rib eye at Polo Grill and an extravagant three-hour “lunch” at Jacques – dinner at pan-Asian Red Ginger topped the list. In the restaurant’s tastefully bold dining room, where a playful horse-faced painting dominates one wall, you begin meals by selecting from an assortment of chopsticks. What my wife and I would order all over again: caramelized tiger prawns, spicy duck-and-watermelon salad, the clay-pot chicken, and yuzu citrus sorbet.
Canyon Ranch SpaClub was fresh out of appointments on our only sea day, but the Bon Appétit Culinary Center squeezed me in for a brunch session, in which 23 classmates and I whipped up scones and frittatas and learned to perfect poached eggs. Unlike on other cruise lines (and at many hotels and resorts), Oceania’s culinary courses are hands-on, with participants pairing up and making each dish from scratch. On the class roster for the rest of its European season: crepes, pasta making (with sauce and wine pairings), and modern Greek cuisine, as well as a host of regionally focused classes and favorite dishes from Riviera’s specialty restaurants.
One of the advantages of traveling with Virtuoso advisors is insider access. Bill Smith, Virtuoso’s VP of cruise sales, worked with Découvertes to organize an outing in Aix-en-Provence for advisors and guests, followed by a garden lunch at Chez Thomé (www.chezthome.fr), which sits in a quiet valley Cézanne frequented when painting Mont Sainte-Victoire. The finale: a tour of Château de la Mignarde, a private estate and onetime home of Napoleon’s sister, Pauline, that’s closed to the general public.
To find out more about having your own one-of-a-kind cruise experience, contact your Virtuoso travel advisor. Don’t have a travel advisor? Click here to find one.
What’s the perfect age for a Disney cruise you may ask? My son and daughter would say six and eight years old, but my husband and I would counter that 48 and 49 are pretty good ages too!
We sailed on the new Disney Fantasy for its three-night Preview sailing, March 26 – 29, for Travel Industry professionals and media. We enjoyed a day at Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay, a day at sea and back to Pt. Canaveral.
The ship has 14 decks; capacity for 4,000 guests, over 1450 cast/crew Members, and awesome kids program and facility and is absolutely beautiful from top to bottom.
The Fantasy, sister ship to the Dream was built with families in mind and it shows at every turn. When we arrived on board, they announced our family’s arrival to everyone in the atrium lobby “Please Welcome the Zanatta Family” – there were many of the Disney Characters in the atrium area for photos and autographs. This is a true highlight to have such great access to the characters and was my daughter’s favorite part of the cruise. The “big five” as the very personable cruise staff called them, are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto and we saw them all!
There are three main dining rooms all with very different themes and menus and guests rotate to have the opportunity to experience each one; the Animator’s Palate, the Enchanted Garden and Royal Court. Our favorite was the Animators Palate. When you arrive to your table there is a placemat and a colored marker with instructions on how you need to draw within the lines to create your character (kind of a stick figure type layout). My son made sure his had the word “Seattle” across his character’s chest so he could easily spot it later in the evening. Our server collected our drawings early in the meal and at the end of the evening, our simple drawings were given life on the giant screens around the dining room dancing with your favorite Disney Characters to well known music and scenes from your favorite Disney movies.
The entertainment on board was true Disney filled with the songs and characters we all love. A particular favorite was the Pirate party evening on the upper deck with Captain Jack Sparrow and fellow pirates. Captain Jack was perched at the top of the highest deck and was “shot” down and landed inches before the deck stating in his Captain Jack drawl “did everyone see that that because I won’t be doing it again.”
The highlight for my son was the AquaDuck a 765-foot water slide ride through a clear acrylic tube that goes out over the ocean, around the ship and spans down 4 decks.
We enjoyed every minute of our sailing and are looking forward to sailing again.
This and other family travel excursions are best planned with the help of a Virtuoso member travel advisor. Click here to learn more about working with an advisor of your own.
As the ship sailed out of port, the prosecco flowed and the celebratory blare of horns heralded the start of Virtuoso’s 2012 Symposium, the annual international meeting for Virtuoso member agency owners and managers and our preferred travel supplier partners.
Just under 500 attendees boarded Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner for a four-night Mediterranean cruise from Rome to Monte Carlo. The voyage marks only the second time Symposium has been held on a ship (the first was with Crystal Cruises in 2005).
While onboard, attendees heard from industry leaders on how to reach luxury consumers with today’s ever-changing distribution channels, from social media ROI to investing in more robust websites. Featured speaker Stephen Kraus, from Ipsos Mendelsohn’s research firm, shared his findings on affluent consumers’ travel interests; 23Touchpoints’s Scott Ahlsmith introduced the well-received “Compare and Share” function on Composer; and Matthew Upchurch announced the end of Travel Mart (the name, not the event. It will now be known as Virtuoso Travel Week; look for more about this monumental change – and what it means for the travel consumer – in the weeks and months ahead).
Training and networking sessions rounded out the business agenda, but it wasn’t all work. The all-suite ship – every cabin has a balcony, walk-in closet, and spacious bathroom – impressed, as did Regent’s all-inclusive structure. The ship called on Naples (weather conditions forced a last-minute change from Sorrento), where excursions included Pompeii, Positano, Sorrento, and more. And while the pool didn’t get a lot of use, the restaurants, spa, casino, and disco certainly did.
VIRTUOSO LIFE conducted a photo shoot onboard for its upcoming July/August Travel Dreams issue, affording a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of a cover. Italy and Mediterranean cruising both top clients’ list of dream trips, so the resulting photos – one of which will appear on the next cover of VIRTUOSO LIFE – will definitely appeal to clients.
On the last night, Nancy Strong of Strong Travel was awarded this year’s Ruby of Siam (the photo collage of her grandchildren congratulating her brought the house down) and a fireworks display off the coast of Monaco made a sparkling finish to another successful event.
For more information on Virtuoso, visit the website at www.virtuoso.com.
I have to admit it: One of the (many) fun perks of traveling to warmer climes is monitoring the weather back home. Call it a kind of schadenfreude, but I get a little thrill knowing I’ve left behind dreary conditions for clear blue skies. The more extreme the mercury back there, the more I enjoy the sun where I am.
Such was the case recently when I flew to Miami for the opening of the St. Regis Bal Harbour (read about the hotel’s highlights on page 38). While I was having lunch by the pool, strolling the beach, and soaking up the sunshine (all in the name of work, of course), friends and colleagues in the Northeast were snowed in, as airports shut down and the entire region came to a standstill.
The March issue of Virtuoso Life is dedicated to the thrills of warm escapes, and as we’re just emerging from winter, the timing is intentional. You’ll find a roundup of all things beach, from the best cocktail to the best spot to watch the sun set, as well as a stylish Rio jaunt, a French Polynesian cruise, and much more.
These articles are intended to inspire your next beach getaway, but our Travel Dreams Survey has a broader goal: to help you think about all the possibilities for family vacations, cruise itineraries, gourmet destinations, and trips of a lifetime, to name a few. Log on to www.virtuoso.com before March 31 – it’s fast, fun, and serves as a wonderful tool to map out your travel goals (and it’s great info to share with your travel advisor). Plus, you could be a big winner: Five lucky entrants will each take home $1,000 cash, and the grand prize is a 12-day, all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise for two on Crystal Cruises’ Serenity from Venice to Athens, in a penthouse suite. The cruise also includes the perks of Voyager Club, an exclusive program available only through Virtuoso.
Wherever your travels take you, try not to gloat too much in your postcards (and Facebook posts) to those back home. But do let me know where you’ve been – I’m always thrilled to hear from you, regardless of the weather.
On my wish list:
Dream Destinations: Indonesia, Uruguay, Croatia
Island Escapes: Maldives, Mauritius, Fiji
Family Vacation Destinations: The Galápagos, Costa Rica, Alaska
Couples Getaways: Santorini, Prague
Wine Regions: Champagne, France (no surprise to those who know my penchant for bubbly)
Trips of a Lifetime: Calling on all seven continents – or perhaps a suborbital space trip with Virgin Galactic (did you know Virtuoso advisors are the exclusive sales agents in North America?)
So many places, so little time. Unfortunately, I’m not eligible to win, but you are – so take our survey at www.virtuoso.com. Hurry, the deadline’s March 31. I’ll be rooting for you.
So many places to go, so little time. But that’s the beauty of a new year – it’s a fresh calendar, and the months stretch out ahead with possibilities. There are family vacations to plan, upcoming milestones to celebrate, and new destinations to check off you must-visit list.
That list will get a little longer with this issue of Virtuoso Life. Maybe you’ll want to spend a week in London before – or during – the Olympics (page 96). Or set sail with your extended family on a Baltic cruise (page 104). Perhaps you’ll head outdoors for an adventure in Alaska (page 114), skiing in Whistler (page 124), or biking through France (page 130).
The world awaits, so we asked Virtuoso’s top travel advisors to tell us what’s hot for 2012 – the destination and trips they’re recommending clients book now, and why. (Find out on page 84).
And though we asked advisors for their opinions, we also want yours: Where do you want to go next? Tell us by taking our Travel Dreams Survey. It’s fast, fun, and will surely inspire you with a world of destination and experiences, from island escapes and romantic getaways to outdoor adventures and trips of a lifetime.
In fact, the grand prize is a trip of a lifetime itself; a 12-day, all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise for two on Crystal Cruises’ Serenity from Venice to Athens, in a penthouse suite (but of course). The grand prize also includes the perks of Voyager Club, an exclusive program available only through Virtuoso. Five other lucky entrants will each win $1,000 cash. The survey begins January 5 and ends March 31, so please go to www.virtuoso.com and take our survey for a chance to win*.
Whatever’s on the horizon for your year ahead, may it include more than a few new passport stamps. Happy Travels – and good luck with the survey.
* If outside of the U.S., sweepstakes does not apply. Non-U.S. residents are invited to take the survey at www.virtuoso.com/traveldreams.
Virtuoso was recently named 2011 Consortia Partner of the Year by Norwegian Cruise Lines. Virtuoso was one of seven travel partners honored by NCL for their successful relationship this year.
“I was particularly delighted to accept this award recognizing Virtuoso’s close partnership with NCL,” commented Bill Smith, vice president, cruise sales and performance management at Virtuoso. The line really values the contributions that our professional travel advisors make to its sales. Our members respond to NCL’s evolving product and see the benefits of offering it as a vacation choice to their more discerning clients.”
In 2011, NCL introduced Partners First, a corporate philosophy that puts travel partners first. “The success of Norwegian Cruise Line relies on the support of our travel partners. We highly value our agency partners, recognize their achievements and appreciate their hard work and dedication to our brand,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief executive officer. “We continue to look for new ways to enhance this commitment in order to continuously strengthen Norwegian’s relationship with our travel partners.”
To learn more about the award-winning travel experiences that you can get with the help of a Virtuoso travel advisor, click here.
Europe is a land rich with travel experiences that are sure to please. Whether you are looking for rich culture, fabulous cuisine, storied history or stunning scenery, they’ll find it all in Europe. And when you book a vacation through a Virtuoso travel advisor, you’ll also find an array of exclusive perks — a Rolls-Royce airport transfer in Rome, a spa treatment in Ireland, shipboard credits to use as you please. All you need to do is peruse these pages to find your favorite European vacation, along with Expert Tips about each destination.
Land Ho! – Cross the Continent in style and enjoy amazing exclusives such as an after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and a private concert in Croatia’s Postojna Caves.
Odysseys at Sea – Take a tall-ship adventure around the Greek Isles or a leisurely cruise along the legendary Danube, or venture from Barcelona to the Baltic in ultra-luxury.
Famous Battlefields – From Napoleon’s demise at Waterloo to the Allies’ “Operation Overlord” along Normandy’s beaches, Europe’s most famous battle sites make for riveting attractions.
Fairtale Europe – Remember listening to fairytales as a kid? Love reading them now to your own children or grandchildren? Most classic fables have European roots, and we’ve tracked down the origins of a few favorites.
If you don’t have a Virtuoso travel advisor, click here to find one.
Virtuoso Life Magazine reveals the results of the annual Travel Dreams Survey
In 2010, travel aspirations have gone global, according to the results from the fourth annual Travel Dreams Sweepstakes Survey, presented by Virtuoso. Nearly 11,000 readers of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network’s award-winning magazine, weighed in on the survey to reveal the exotic lands, life-changing experiences and thrilling adventures that upscale travelers are currently seeking.
When asked what they consider the trip of a lifetime, readers were clear that setting sail for a world cruise would be a paramount experience. Calling on all seven continents and visiting the new wonders of the world followed close behind as trips of a lifetime, indicating the desire of travelers to visit the globe. The Galápagos Islands also had a strong presence in this year’s results: This island destination was named the most alluring island escape; the second best outdoor adventure; and the third best destination for families.
“This year’s survey results reflect a shift in consumers’ motivation to travel,” said Elaine Srnka, editorial director for VIRTUOSO LIFE. “Travelers want to see the world. They are no longer content with staying in one place. Whether it’s visiting the far corners of the earth on a world cruise, hiking through remote Machu Picchu or tasting local cuisines through cooking schools, travelers want unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
The top 10 dream destinations also reflected readers’ longing to visit far-off lands, with Australia, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Greece nabbing the first five spots. Paris held onto its reign as the most romantic city to spend time with a loved one, as well as the best gourmet city. Rome remains the city with the most beautiful architecture, and Tuscany continues to be the wine region travelers want to toast the most. Again this year, readers felt going on a safari to Africa would merit the best outdoor adventure.
The Travel Dreams results largely supported Virtuoso’s 2010 Luxe Report, insight gleaned from the network’s elite travel advisors, which revealed that travelers in 2010 are booking longer vacations to more distant destinations. Of the travel professionals that participated in the Luxe Report survey, 71 percent reported that clients are seeking international travel for 10 days or more.
This year, readers had extra enticement to share their opinions: an opportunity to win their own dream trip! Three lucky winners got to choose one of these trips: a ten-day exploration of the Galápagos Islands aboard Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Endeavour; a 12-day cruise aboard the Seabourn Pride from Bangkok to Shanghai; or a trip to South Africa on Virgin Atlantic Airways to spend five nights at the One&Only Cape Town.
VIRTUOSO LIFE’s Travel Dreams survey was designed to gather consumer travel trends and offer inspiration for future journeys. The 12-question survey explored readers’ opinions about everything from their dream destinations and the best cities for dining to the best destinations for romance and families. Top-line results can be found below, and the results are featured in the July/August issue of VIRTUOSO LIFE.
The survey results were tallied from responses from almost 11,000 VIRTUOSO LIFE readers who participated in the Travel Dreams Sweepstakes. Virtuoso promoted the sweepstakes via email and within the magazine.
To view a digital edition of the VIRTUOSO LIFE July/August “Readers’ Choice Travel Dreams” issue, click here.
The Virtuoso June Enriching Pursuits travel catalog is full of journeys that are sure to ignite your desire for great travel with trips that will captivate your heart. Whether its discovering family roots, helping to support fragile environments, or simply following your passions, like cooking, history, or architecture, this catalog is full of rewarding and memorable pursuits. Plus, you won’t want to miss the value-loaded perks and expert tips!
Intrigue in the East – Climb aboard a camel, the “ship of the desert,” trekking through an Arabian oasis. Or a sleek yacht exploring ports on the Indian Ocean.
Rewards in the West – Choose a gastronomic extravaganza or family fantasyland, or sail away to island cultures so remote, they still use the star-filled sky as a global positioning system.
Revelations in Europe – Discover historic architecture in Melk, a foodie revolution in Barcelona, and a wine region in the UK.
Ten Ways to Make it Personal – Have you ever dreamed of looking up long-lost cousins? Digging for ancestral roots? Perhaps making a religious pilgrimage? You provide the idea; your Virtuoso travel advisor makes it happen.
Don’t have a Virtuoso travel advisor? Find one here.