Do Something New
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I love this quote. As we begin the new year of 2019, with talk of new beginnings and new experiences, as a travel professional and advisor, I can’t help but think about how this quote relates to our travels and where 2019 might take us.
One of my goals every year is to go someplace I’ve never been before. Last year that place was Bennett Lake in British Columbia and Carcross, Yukon Territory. Bennett Lake, best known for its part in the Alaska/Yukon Gold Rush of 1897-1899, is only accessible by the historic White Pass and Yukon Route train or by hiking the Chilkoot trail. I’m no hiker, so my family and I took the train ride as an excursion on our Alaska cruise on Princess cruise lines. We knew the scenery would be incredible. However, we didn’t expect to finish the day with an education in just how arduous, treacherous, time consuming, and expensive it was to be a part of the Alaska gold rush. We followed the same route over the White Pass, down to Bennett Lake and then on to Carcross in Yukon Territory and during the 67.5 mile train ride, our hosts told story after story about the prospectors and their journey to the Klondike. Even my naturally stoic son was moved by the tales when he turned to me and said, “That must have been really hard.”.
To help you create newer and richer experiences with your family for 2019 let’s explore three cruises that will deliver fresh and exciting destinations that your family will remember for the rest of their lives. One of the reasons that my family and I love to cruise is because of the extraordinary places you can go, but still enjoy the comfort of your cruise ship cabin every night. Essentially, you unpack once and see a new destination almost every day. Cruising can expose you to places that you might not have ever considered and leave you wanting to plan a trip back to see more of your favorite cities.
The British Isles
The British Isles encompass Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) including the offshore islands, and Ireland. Cruising this region can be the ideal introduction to Europe for families. It’s a way for your family to experience the beautiful coastlines, rolling countryside, and exciting capital cities like London and Dublin without the need for lengthy and tiring road and rail journeys.
Unlike other cruising destinations, because of the compact nature of the British Isles, you never have more than two sea days on longer cruises and only one on shorter cruises. In fact, on some itineraries, you can visit as many as six different countries in just one cruise.
In just a few days, you can go from kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle outside of Cork, Ireland, to experiencing the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then just a few days later tour the historic D-Day beaches of Normandy.
From Gibraltar to Istanbul, Mediterranean cruises can pack in more sightseeing, history, and culture in a short amount of time than many people will ever experience in a lifetime. From the magical beaches of Greece, to the historic architecture of Spain and Italy, and the exquisite food of the French countryside, a Mediterranean cruise is also one of the most diverse.
Many family friendly cruise lines, like Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and, the most family friendly of all, Disney Cruise Line, sail the Mediterranean all summer long, providing you the chance to experience it as a family. If possible, try taking your cruise during June as temperatures are milder and the summer season isn’t in full swing making crowds a little more manageable than July or August.
Families looking for wildlife in the Mediterranean will definitely not be disappointed. Loggerhead turtles and endangered monk seals are found along the coasts of Greece, Albania, and Turkey. Montenegro, home to the rare white pelican, boasts Lake Skadar which is the largest bird sanctuary in Europe. With so many things to see and do, a Mediterranean cruise could be the trip of a lifetime or just the first of many to come.
Staying closer to home, Alaska is perfect for family cruises with so many opportunities to appreciate the vast and breathtaking unspoiled beauty. The top two things that keep many families coming back to Alaska, again and again, are the abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes.
There are predominantly two ways to cruise to Alaska. Take a round-trip beginning and ending in the same port or a one-way, either southbound from Whitter or Seward or northbound from Vancouver, BC. Both have their advantages. A one-way cruise will allow families more time to spend in each port as well as the possibility to explore Denali National Park just north of Anchorage. Denali National Park is home to Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America standing at 20,320 feet above sea level. If you are looking to see moose, Denali and the area surrounding Anchorage are the place to see them since you won’t find moose in Southeast Alaska. The most significant advantage of a roundtrip cruise is it's usually more cost effective since you will be flying to and from the same port. My favorite round-trip Alaska port is Seattle. We always spend at least two or three days pre or post cruise exploring the city.
Excursions in Alaska are as varied as the imagination, but here are some of my favorites: whale-watching in Juneau, riding the historic and scenic White Pass and Yukon Route train in Skagway, and feeding a convocation of bald eagles from just a few feet away from the side of the FV Aleutian Ballad.
Regardless of the destinations you chose, you and your family are sure to explore new cities and countries, make memories to last a lifetime and reconnect with each other by exploring newer and richer experiences together.