Where in the World Wednesday: May 17, 2017

Can you guess where in the world this destination is from the clues below?

Picture Clue 

Word Clue

This destination has twin towers with angled facades that are in close proximity to the international airport and form a focal point on this city’s impressive skyline. Only one other country shares its border. The strange circular suburbs here are a study in optimizing high density populations in a rural setting. This country pays among the highest taxes in the world (including a 100% tax on gasoline), yet this city has twice been voted the world’s happiest. It’s one of its continents oldest cities and one of the safest cities in the world.

Where in the World is This Destination?

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Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is most famous for Hans Christian Anderson and the Little Mermaid Statue basking on a rock at the Langelinie Harbour, and for the 170-year-old Tivoli Gardens which Walt Disney used as inspiration for Disneyland. Celebrity Cruises visits Copenhagen on a variety of Scandinavia/Russia itineraries each year from April through August.

Last Minute Trips for the Holiday Weekend and Summer

Do It Here, Then Do It There: Last Minute Memorial Day Getaways on the West Coast and Last Minute Summer Cruises

If it has suddenly dawned on you that Memorial Day Weekend is just a couple weekends away and you have no plans yet, fear not! Here are some last minute Memorial Day weekend getaways you can quickly plan and get to if you live on the West Coast.

Paso Robles

Instead of heading straight to Napa or the Santa Ynez Valley like most Californians looking for wine tasting do with a long weekend, consider a trip to less-visited Paso Robles. It may not have the sophisticated glamour of Napa Valley or the Hollywood clout of Santa Ynez Valley, but Paso Robles still packs in some beautiful scenery and award-winning wines within its vineyard-filled valley. Go there now before it hits the mainstream in terms of popular wine regions.

Carlsbad

San Diego is great for a long weekend getaway, but if you’re trying to book a last minute vacation there for Memorial Day weekend, you may find it’s expensive and booked up. Instead look slightly north to the city of Carlsbad, located about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego. Carlsbad is located right on the coast and has wide, sandy beaches plus a cute downtown area referred to as the Village with plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars to pop into. Carlsbad is also home to Legoland, making it a hit for family getaways.

Palm Springs/Desert

When all else fails, looks east to Palm Springs and its neighboring city of Palm Desert. Memorial Day Weekend is sunny, yet hasn’t usually hit the triple digit heat that summer will be bringing to the inland desert region. Full of hotels, condos, and houses to rent, you should still be able to score some decent last minute accommodation in Palm Springs, even for a holiday weekend. If you want some more excitement than just lounging by the pool, be sure to pack your hiking shoes as Palm Springs is a short drive from Joshua Tree National Park.

Pacific Grove

Monterey and Carmel may get all the fame, but if you’re banging your head on the keyboard trying to find last minute accommodation for those two tony cities, look to their neighbor: Pacific Grove. This small city has its own charm with a tiny downtown area that has restaurants and cafes and a plethora of hotels that may still have some last minute availability for Memorial Day Weekend — plus it’s a super short drive to the sights of Monterey and Carmel.

Olympic National Park

This massive national park in western Washington has a number of towns on its border where you can stay — from the lovely lakeside calm of Quinault to the bustling seaside city of Port Angeles – meaning you’ll have more luck trying to find a last minute accommodation. Or you can go the rugged route for Memorial Day weekend and check for available campsites. From rain forests to waterfalls to foliage-heavy hiking trails, there is plenty to do in Olympic National Park to fill a long weekend.

Last Minute Summer Cruises — It’s Time to Book Your Dream Summer Vacation

Once Memorial Day weekend is over, it means summer is just around the corner and that means…summer vacation time! Luckily, it’s not too late to book a summer cruise, even if it’s a last-minute vacation decision for you! Here are some ideas for where to cruise this summer.

Alaska

Celebrity Solstice in Alaska
Celebrity Solstice in Alaska

Explore America’s last frontier with a cruise that lets you experience both sea views and beautiful port towns. Here are a couple itineraries that are great for west coasters due to the ease of getting to the embarkation port:

Mediterranean

Oia, Santorini
Oia, Santorini

Cobblestoned towns, sun-dappled beaches, fresh seafood…what more could you want? Check out these Mediterranean itineraries and start dreaming:

Caribbean

Family Time on a Caribbean Beach
Family Time on a Caribbean Beach

If it’s strictly sun and sand you’re after (with a good dose of gorgeous tropical views), it’s hard to beat the Caribbean. Try one of these fun and relaxing Caribbean itineraries:

To see more destinations and itineraries for a luxurious and exciting summer cruise this summer, visit www.CelebrityCruises.com or speak with your travel agent.

Where in the World Wednesday: May 10, 2017

Can you guess where in the world this destination is from the clues below?

Picture Clue

Word Clue

The town is noted for its concentration of Art Nouveau architecture and incredibly long undersea tunnels. Following a long standing tradition, each year residents of this town work together to hand stack wood into a rickety 13 story high tower. They then celebrate by igniting a massive bonfire that can be seen for miles. This city is one of the most important fishing harbors in its country, and residents here fish from their balconies.

According to a fairy-tale, an evil professor was responsible for a great fire that destroyed this city in the early 1900s. When the town was rebuilt, trolls were trapped in the building. Today, you can find troll symbols throughout the city. While in this town, you can climb 600 feet to a viewpoint providing a panoramic view over the white, yellow, and, red steep-roofed buildings below. You can also explore a lighthouse once reachable only by boat. To get there, you have to drive through a series of long undersea tunnels, and then a one-way tunnel cut through the mountain.

Where in the World is This Destination?

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Ålesund, Norway

Pronounced “AH-lay-sund,” Ålesund is a picturesque town considered by many to be the most beautiful town in Norway. The town is comprised of seven islands and is less touristy than the city of Bergen, located four hours south. Taxes are very high in Norway and alcohol is extremely expensive here. Crazily enough, even if you’re willing to empty your pockets for the privilege of a cocktail, you won’t receive more than 1.3 ounces of alcohol per drink. That’s right — it’s illegal to pour anything more. So if you’re in the mood for a martini or cosmo you’ll have to make do with a diluted version or a half-filled glass.

Each year during their traditional midsummer festival honoring the birth of John the Baptist, residents of Ålesund attempt and set a new world record by building a bonfire taller than the one they built the previous year. Last year, they succeeded in building a record bonfire by stacking 31,000 wooden pallets 155.5 feet high.

Celebrity Cruises visits the beautiful city of Ålesund on Norwegian Fjords cruises on Celebrity Eclipse sailings from Southampton and Dublin and Celebrity Silhouette sailings from Southampton.

Port of Call Spotlight: San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Caribbean is mostly known for aquamarine water, sandy beaches, and a laidback beach vibe. But many islands in the Caribbean have much more than just surf and sand, and Puerto Rico is one of those islands. A cruise stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico lets you see one of the Caribbean’s most vibrant cities, while still being in close proximity to that gorgeous water and beautiful beaches. Read on for a guide of what to do while spending the day in San Juan.

The Old Town Area of San Juan

Colorful Building in Old San Juan

A jaunt around the neighborhood of Old San Juan is always a great way to spend some time while in San Juan. This lovely area of the city features cobblestoned streets framed by colorful buildings in nearly every shade of the rainbow. Thickly branched trees stretch up toward rooftops along sidewalks, and white framed windows and doors add to the lovely appeal of Old San Juan’s aesthetics.

While in Old San Juan, make a stop at one of its top attractions, which include:

La Cassa Blanca: A one-time fortress that also served as the home of Ponce de Leon.

Paseo la Princesa and Raíces Fountain: If you have time, take a lovely stroll along the boulevard of Paseo la Princesa. If short on time, at least check out Raíces Fountain, the famous fountain structure at the end of Paseo la Princesa.

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista: The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is a good stop in Old San Juan for history or architect buffs as it is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas.

The Fortresses of San Juan

Celebrity Cruises sailing past a fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Bordering each end of Old San Juan are towering forts built on impressive bluffs overlooking the sea. Visiting these former military forts are one of the most popular things to do in San Juan. Here are the two forts to visit, and during a day in San Juan, you easily have time to visit both if you wish, or just choose one to visit and make time for the beach, too!

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

This is the original fortress built in San Juan in the 16th century. It stands formidably at the northwest end of the city and was constructed to defend inhabitants against intruders. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a striking appearance high above the city, enhanced by the massive and bright green grassy area in front of it.  You can walk around the grounds both in and out of the fortress walls and take in views of the ocean and surrounding landscape from each of the fort’s six levels.

Castillo San Cristóbal Fort

Built in the 1700s, Castillo San Cristóbal faces the northeast and provided a high vantage point right on the ocean for watching for intruding ships. Like Castillo San Felipe del Morro, it was used as an actual military fort as recently as World War II, and today it is open to visitors who can explore its scenic lookout points and dark underground tunnels.

The Beaches Near San Juan

You have to head a little bit out of Old San Juan to find the beaches Puerto Rico is famous for. Luckily, Celebrity Cruises makes it easy for you by offering excursions that take you straight from the ship port to a beach in comfortable transportation. Some of the excursions even stop at other historical sites, too, making for a fun, hassle-free day exploring San Juan.

San Juan City and Beaches by BikeExplore the island of Puerto Rico on a 12-mile bike ride tour that takes you through Old San Juan and past historic sites and then to a beach park for some lovely views of the sea.

Deluxe Beach Break at VIVO Beach Club: Have a blissfully relaxing day on this shore excursion which gets you access to a luxurious beach club, where you can switch between a large pool area or a sandy beach next to the sea with lounge chairs and easy access to drinks and delicious cuisine.

Other Excursions to Do in Puerto Rico

A cruise stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico, gives you the opportunity to partake in many other fun and engaging shore excursions. Here are some other top options:

Marine Park Snorkeling: Explore the underwater world off the shores of San Juan at Escambron Marine Park.

Wild & Scenic Rainforest Nature Walk to River Adventure: Take an exciting hike through Puerto Rico’s famous El Yunque National Rainforest and learn about its flora and fauna plus see the Mameyes River, where you can go for a swim.

Carabali Horseback Ride: Travel through the El Yunque National Rainforest by horseback.

Chef’s Market Discoveries – Casa Bacardi, Flavors of San Juan, and Private Dinner: Tour the famous Bacardi rum factory and sample delectable Puerto Rican and Cuban cuisine.

To browse all of Celebrity Cruises’ San Juan shore excursions, click here.

Where in the World Wednesday: May 3, 2017

Can you guess where in the world this destination is from the clues below?

Picture Clue

Photo by Bernard Spragg. NZ. (Flickr)

Word Clue

This is one of the most expensive cities in the world, yet you can eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant here with $2 USD entrees.  This is also one of the smallest, yet most densely populated countries in the world, with 99% of its residents living in public flats. Unemployment here is non-existent, as additional workers are bused in from a neighboring country. This nation is still in its infancy but has worked its way up to become an economic powerhouse in just a matter of a few decades.

Where in the World is This Destination?

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Republic of Singapore

While Singapore is the most expensive city in the world, Singapore’s Liao Fan Hawker Chan, a casual dine-in, is the world’s least expensive Michelin-star meal — the only place you can try Chef Chan’s iconic $2 USD chicken & rice dish.  

Singapore, sometimes referred to as the Lion City or the Little Red Dot, is a sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia. In Singapore you will find the Marina Sands Hotel with its Infinity Pool as well as the Raffle’s hotel (built in 1887), home of the Singapore Sling.

Some of the odd laws here… There is a strict law forbidding all chewing gum in Singapore. The fine for chewing gum is $750 and $10,000 for selling chewing gum. Feeding pigeons will cost you $500, connecting to another person’s Wi-Fi will cost you a hefty $10,000, and failing to flush a public toilet incurs a $150 penalty — the same for smoking in public. Spitting will cost you $1,000 and the penalty for selling drugs in Singapore is punishable by death. “Caning” is also a mandatory punishment for certain offences such as rape, illegal moneylending, and for foreigners who overstay by more than 90 days – a measure designed to deter illegal immigrants.

Port of Call Spotlight: Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy is one of the most iconic cities you can visit on a Mediterranean cruise. The scenery is gorgeous, many of the popular tourist sites are historical wonders, and the culture is alluring. Visiting Rome on a cruise can feel daunting, though, since the ship doesn’t dock right in Rome and it can be hard to narrow down exactly how you want to spend the day in such a large, vibrant city. Here is a breakdown of the top things you need to know about cruising to Rome, which will help ensure you have a fun and memorable time in port.

The Port for Rome: Civitavecchia

To visit Rome, your ship will actually pull into port in the city of Civitavecchia on the western coast of Italy. It is located about 50 miles northwest from Rome. To get to Rome from Civitavecchia, you can take a bus, train, or car rental. Depending where your ship docks, it can be a bit of a trek just to leave the port area to get to your transportation. A shore excursion that includes just transportation to and from Rome, or transportation plus a tour in the city is an easy and hassle-free way to get into Rome from your cruise ship.

Things to Do in Rome

If it’s your first time in Rome, here are a few things to see that you likely won’t want to miss:

Colosseum

Colosseum in Rome
Colosseum

The Colosseum is impressive to behold since it’s massive and still in fairly good condition considering it was built in the first century. The structure once housed gruesome gladiator battles as entertainment for the king and his subjects. The stories of the Colosseum are often fascinating to hear, and touring the Colosseum with a good guide can elevate your experience thanks to the expert knowledge you’ll receive compared to just wandering around the grounds on your own.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is a large area dotted with many ancient buildings and ruins. It once served as the political center of ancient Rome. Within its borders you can see the well-preserved Arch of Constantine and the Tempo di Guilio Cesar, where Julius Caesar was cremated, plus many other important buildings from that era.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain

This is one of the most beautiful fountains in Rome, located in a charming square (that is also adjacent to some delicious gelato shops). The baroque fountain depicts a scene featuring Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. According to legend, you will return to Rome someday if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain.

Vatican City

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City is a city-state located within Rome that serves as the headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. The two most popular things to do in Vatican City are to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and tour the Vatican Museums, the highlight for the latter being the opportunity to see the famed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo.

Italian Coffee and Fashion

Cafe in Rome

While in Rome, you’ll also likely want a bit of leisure time to visit a café and sip one of Italy’s famous cappuccinos (which Italians typically only do in the morning, but hey – if it’s your only time in Rome and you aren’t able to order that cappuccino until the afternoon, go for it!). Rome also may not be as famous for style as the Italian city of Milan to the north, but it still has plenty of shopping boutiques and famous brand names lining its streets. Most shore excursions allow a bit of free time; if it’s important to you, just make sure the one you’re looking at has as much free time as you desire.

A Taste of Rome is a Celebrity Cruises shore excursion that visits all the above sites plus has free time.

Depending on your interests – or if it’s your second or subsequent time in Rome and you want to see some new sites from what’s above – you also may enjoy one of these unique activities while your ship is in port in Civitavecchia:

Bracciano Lake and Wine Tasting
Italian Countryside and Olive Oil Taste
River Rafting Down the Tiber
Behind the Scenes Vatican Tour
Rome Highlights with Colosseum Underground Tour

To book your cruise to Rome, visit www.CelebrityCruises.com and search for your ideal Mediterranean itinerary, or speak with your travel agent.