The Safe Return of Cruising

If you’re a cruiser, you love cruising and probably already have one booked for 2021. If you’re not a cruiser, you might be thinking there are some deals to be had. To an extent, you’re right, but you shouldn’t wait too long to make your booking for next year. That’s because demand is sky-high (thanks to all those dedicated cruisers). With the CDC likely to extend its no-sail order for ships with more than 250 passengers through the end of the year, most lines aren’t restarting until 2021. And when they do start, they won’t be at 100% occupancy. So just like with premium hotels and tours, space will be limited and if you don’t book early you could end up waiting for a year or two.

During their time away, the cruise lines have been busy putting together panels of experts in infectious disease, public health, hospitality and maritime operations to ensure they can deliver safe and fun experiences on the high seas. The measures they’re implementing will begin before you even board the ship, with enhanced screening in the terminal before passengers board and negative COVID tests likely to be required. The traditional muster drills at the beginning of the cruise will be done electronically, either via app or in-cabin TV to avoid gathering in large crowds. Masks will be required in public areas, and extra space will be allotted for distancing in restaurants and at shows.

Cleaning protocols will be stringent, with every surface throughout the ship routinely sanitized. Even before the pandemic, Lindblad Expeditions introduced the industry’s first self-disinfecting fleet, powered by the ACT CleanCoat system that breaks down unwanted microbes via a photocatalytic process.

If you want to secure space but still not sure how you’ll feel about cruising next year, that’s OK. Cancellation policies are incredibly flexible, with most giving you until 48 or even 24 hours before sailing to change your mind without losing money. The cruise lines and your advisor want you to feel comfortable, not pressured. If you’re not sure what your schedule will look like next year—and let’s be honest, who among us is?—it’s easy to adjust your cruise dates without penalty, so long as there’s space.

Remember, that no-sail order applies only to ships with 250 or more passengers. Small ships, already a fantastic way to have a more intimate experience and get into smaller ports the big ships can’t even reach, can still sail. That means small ships such as those from UnCruise Adventures, SeaDream Yacht Club, Azamara and others are sailing, and adding some unique itineraries to their repertoires.

Cruises will be back and better than ever. The question is, will there be any space left by the time you book?

Interview with Lesa Bain with Lindblad Expeditions

Do you want to see a polar bear up close in the Arctic or lock eyes with a penguin in Antarctica? Do you wish to pass by a humpback whale whose popped his head out of the water in Baja California? Or admire a giant tortoise in Galapagos? Kayak near a glacier surrounded by mountains in Alaska?

Lindlblad Expeditions offers many of these exciting expedition adventures around the world. In this interview, Lesa explains to us what an expedition is and tells us a couple of her favorite moments on trips. We also discuss their affiliation with National Geographic Society, most popular itinerary and family travel. I love that Lindblad is all about adding value to the guest’s experience. We at DMC Travel Tailor share that same principle. I also love that they make a positive impact on the destinations they travel to and have itineraries designed by explorers!

Are you ready to have some Ahhhh moments? If so, I’m thrilled to help plan your next adventure. You can contact me at: info@dmctraveltailor.com and or stefany@largaytravel.com to start the process.

With passion and adventure,

Stefany

Travel, Lindblad Expeditions, National Geographic, Adventure, DMC Travel Tailor, Luxury Travel, Luxury Travel Advisor, Virtuoso, Virtuoso Travel Advisor, Largay Travel, Alaska, Baja California, Galapagos, Arctic, Antarctica, Polar Bear, Penguin, Tortoise, Whale, Virtuoso Adventure Travel

A Dream of Adventure

We all have that big adventure we’ve really wanted to go on but have put off for one reason or another over the years. The opportunity will always be there, we tell ourselves. If there’s one thing we know after seeing life abruptly come to a halt, it’s that things can change in a hurry and nothing is truly guaranteed. Once it’s safe to travel again, it’s time to take that adventure. And the time to start dreaming about it and planning it is now.

As part of our “Travel Dreaming” series, Dr. Travel himself Paul Largay spoke with three people who know their way around an adventure: Lesa Bain of Lindblad Expeditions, Don Martinson of Natural Habitat Adventures and Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours & Expeditions. They’ve always specialized in going off the beaten path to seek out what there is to discover in the remote areas of the world. With those places soon to be more sought out than ever, they’re the ones to turn to for an authentic and sustainable adventure. There’s no better time to get started with the planning and settle on the dates when more is certain. As Dr. Travel put it, “What coronavirus has not stopped is our curiosity, our need to know and, most importantly, our desire to dream.”

With that, our guests shared some of their favorite adventures, from polar bear viewing in Manitoba to gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda to getting up close and personal with Adelie penguins in Antarctica. Whatever your definition of adventure, these companies can accommodate it while making you feel comfortable at the same time.

Expeditions are not, “eating borscht and sleeping on a wooden pallet,” Bain said, Lindblad trips offer the opportunity to go on an exerting hike then have a great glass of wine when you get back. Martinson stressed the abundance of options on a Nat Hab trip. There are always activities for those who want them, but no one is left out if not feeling up to the challenge. For instance, on Nat Hab’s Yellowstone wolf quest photo adventure, participants have the option to snowshoe to Old Faithful or ride to the iconic geyser in a coach. Sanghrajka noted that on the same trip in Colombia, guests can paraglide then do a rum tasting with the mayor of Cartagena’s son. “It’s the stuff you can’t script that speaks to me,” he said.

While as Martinson said, if you walk across a football field unassisted, you can go on most of these trips, you might want to ease yourself into adventure, especially if you have young kids. The Galapagos is a great place to dip your toe in the water. “Each time you go, it’s a different experience,” Bain said. “It’s great for kids and a good precursor to Africa.” Martinson also recommends the Galapagos, along with national parks and Costa Rica for getting kids hooked on adventure and science. Sanghrajka relayed that he first took his kids to Guatemala, where the roasted marshmallows in steam from an active volcano before watching another spew lava from deep within the earth. “When your teacher asks what you did for summer vacation, you’re gonna win,” he told them.

As the kids get older and your family works it way up the adventure rung, you can discover places such as East Greenland, “a place that made me feel smaller than I’ve ever felt before” as he kayaked around huge icebergs and waterfalls in a transformative experience. While the guides are world-class and the accommodations comfortable, some places are hundreds of miles from the nearest five-star hotel. “It’s not about the thread count, it’s about the animal count,” Martinson said. If you’re an avid diver exploring the waters of the South Pacific, Bain noted, that’s where true luxury lies, in making a dream come true.

What remote adventures are on the horizon for when we can finally escape and get back out into the world? Bain recommends the Russian Far East and Northeast Passage from Norway to Nome. Martinson is keen on small-group and private excursions in America’s national parks. Sanghrajka is excited about northern Peru. “Kuelap is 1,000 years older than Machu Picchu and sees about 100 visitors on a busy day,” he said. “The third highest waterfall in the world is there. I can’t wait to get up there.”

We know we can’t wait to get out into the wide open spaces again and take the road less traveled. We’re thrilled to have partners who have blazing trails in these remote areas for years. “When you people say we’re going to want to get out of the box, I say we’ve been waiting for you. What took you so long?”

Covid-19 Partner Initiatives

Even though they can’t welcome guests right now, our fabulous partners have gotten incredibly creative delivering the best virtual experiences possible to keep you entertained and dreaming of travel while you’re sheltering at home. That’s one of the things we love about our preferred partners, they’re always focused on service and delivering high-quality experiences. There’s enough below to keep kids and adults occupied and learning for as long as necessary. There are some stress relievers, from meditation tips to cocktail recipes. We and our partners are here for you, and we can’t wait to welcome you back with open arms once we can all get back out into this great big world.

Paws Up: Via Instagram live, the Montana ranch resort is streaming yoga classes and cooking classes, teaching wilderness foraging and leading expeditions to identify the area’s animals. There will even be an expert angler offering virtual fly-fishing from the Blackfoot River.

Austin Adventures: Via Zoom, the U.S.-based adventure company is conducting Virtual Adventures for Kids, with topics including Yellowstone, a virtual zoo tour and bike maintenance 101. The webinars are designed for kids 6-12, and you can register at the link.

Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa: The wellness resort will put on Facebook live sessions on how to stay healthy at home each Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern. The videos will feature recipes, exercise tips and methods for maintaining mental health while cooped up at home.

&beyond: Since you can’t go to Africa, the luxury safari and tour operator is bringing Africa to you with recipes, music playlists, animals videos and book and movie recommendations for kids and adults.

Beyond Times Square:: Born and raised in New York, this tour operator has a virtual tour of NYC featuring the Met, MoMA, Central Park and panoramic view from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. For those looking to get away from crowded cities, BTSQ is introducing Stress-Free Getaways to places such as the Hudson Valley and Cape Cod, with sanitized vehicles, sanitizer provided and guides following CDC guidelines.

Natural Habitat Adventures: Each day at 3 p.m. Eastern, Nat Hab is offering a daily dose of nature. The hourlong webinars have titles such as “Why Do We Love Bears So Much” and “No Foolin’! You Can Create Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.”

Context Travel: Scholar-led Context Conversations seminars are $35 each and discuss Beijing through the ages, how Venice has dealt with disaster, disease and over tourism across the centuries, the aesthetics of Tokyo. The In Context podcast is free, providing updates from Rome and city overviews for when things open back up.

Lindblad Expeditions: Each day, Lindblad is posting a virtual program with wildlife videos, moments of bliss, photography tips and recipes (that last part is mostly for the parents, but the rest is family-friendly).

Canyon Ranch: Be strong, be well with meditation videos, tips for managing anxiety and ways to boost your immune system.

Four Seasons New York: This isn’t an interactive activity, but well worth highlighting: The Four Seasons New York, temporarily closed to reservations, is providing free rooms for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel working long hours on the front lines.

Virtuoso Travel Week Highlights

It might not be that big, tucked on the side of Spain on the western edge of Europe, but Portugal is the hottest destination going this year. Combine the capital of Lisbon — think a European San Francisco — with second city Porto and the beach-laden Algarve region with the diverse islands of Madeira and the Azores, and Portugal becomes a lot bigger than you might have previously imagined. That was one takeaway from Virtuoso Travel Week this month in Las Vegas, where more than 6,000 attendees from 100 countries shared the latest and greatest in the travel industry.

Another important trend is the rise of sustainability. From resorts such as The Brando in French Polynesia, where 95 percent of the energy used is renewable. Buildings made from local, renewable and recycled material blend with their natural surroundings and even waste is turned into compost that is used in organic gardens. The resort’s conservation program focuses on fish and sea turtle replenishment as well as atoll conservation. Seawater air conditioning and coconut oil biofuel help power the resort while getting it closer to carbon neutrality.

Kevin Molony, president of New Orleans-based Royal Insider is working to preserve the culture in and around the city his family first came to in the 1720s by showing clients the authenticities of life for those who call the Big Easy home, far from the tourist haze of Bourbon Street. That could mean hanging behind the scenes with a Mardi Gras crew to see how much blood, sweat, and tears go into preparing not just afloat but a celebration of heritage or dining in a historic home with a meal prepared by the city’s top chefs.

With the launch of www.galapagos.com, www.safaritours.com and www.visibleasia.com, Big Five Tours & Expeditions, ranks countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia based on the sustainability of tourism there, and works in the destinations it services to improve those scores. As Lesa Bain of Lindblad Expeditions succinctly put it in her acceptance speech for Virtuoso’s Sustainable Tourism Leadership award, “Sustainability rocks!”

All told, more than 40,000 meetings took place over the course of a week between travel advisors and suppliers, resulting in an exchange of information that will benefit our travelers. Looking for a great meal? Meadowood Napa Valley’s The Restaurant, winner of Best Dining Experience, has you covered. A nice drink? The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel in London was voted Best Bar. As for any other experience you can imagine, drop us a line at info@dmctraveltailor.com.