Colleen and I sailed in perhaps the most exotic place on earth with Paul Gauguin Cruises. French Polynesia was all we had imagined. It's romantic, with ideal weather and an outdoor lovers paradise. It was made even better because we were sailing on a small ship with the experts who have been there for years. Paul Gauguin has mastered this sailing voyage, and we can't wait to try it again some day.
By John Roberts
I think one good way to live well is to travel well.
If you like your fitness and healthy lifestyle with a side of luxury, you're going to want to look into what Seabourn has to offer in the coming year.
Seabourn, the ultra-luxury cruise line, is offering two 2018 "Wellness Cruises" with Dr. Andrew Weil. Bound for Alaska and Greece, each voyage features experts in the field of integrative medicine and Dr. Weil, a celebrated physician and best-selling author who has partnered with Seabourn to introduce "Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil," an exclusive mindful-living program.
"As wellness tourism continues to grow, we know it is on the minds of many travelers these days, especially our Seabourn guests," says Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "With the remarkable success of the Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil program on our ships, we couldn't wait to have him onboard to create even more focused spa and wellness voyages to be enjoyed amid the remarkable destinations of Alaska and Greece. With the beauty and culture of these destinations as a backdrop, these wellness cruises reinforce our continuing focus on enhancing the lives of luxury travelers."
Both itineraries will feature panel discussions, complimentary wellness seminars and interactive sessions led by Dr. Weil and his team, which also includes the onboard Mindful Living coach. A selection of optional, for-charge shore excursions will also be offered, taking the wellness mindset to enriching destinations ashore.
"When you travel, exciting things happen to your mind, your body and your spirit. Your mind opens, your imagination and curiosity are aroused," Weil says. "I'm incredibly pleased to join some of my esteemed colleagues in the field of integrative medicine to offer this level of depth and enrichment onboard through an array of specially curated wellness options."
The first dedicated Wellness Cruise will explore Alaska on the Wellness in the Wilderness with Dr. Weil sailing on Seabourn Sojourn, June 16 to 28, 2018. The program features more than 20 lectures and demonstrations focused on healthy living.
A sampling of wellness topics:
Healthy Aging -- Dr. Weil talks about strategies to reduce the risk and delay the onset of age-related disease. Other programs presented by Dr. Weil include Fish, Wellness & the Environment; panel discussions including Getting the Most Out of Integrative Therapies; Worried You're Overmedicated? Questions to Ask Your Doctor; and Vitamins and Supplements; as well as a cooking demonstration.
Heart to Heart -- Preventive cardiologist Steve Devries, executive director of the Gables Institute for Integrative Cardiology, leads discussions and a session on using nutrition to boost heart function.
Vibrantly Healthy Women -- Victoria Maizes, an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine and a professor of medicine, Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Arizona, presents Nourishing Your Health by Living Green and examines everything from cutting-edge nutritional advances to the neuroscience of happiness.
Guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek will lead programs including Guided Imagery: The Lazy Man's (or Woman's) Meditation; Guided Imagery for Deep, Restorative Sleep; and Guided Imagery for Overcoming Anxiety. Naparstek is creator of the popular Health Journeys audio series featuring her and scores of gifted, handpicked guided imagery practitioners.
Sanford Newmark, an expert in nutrition and its impact on childhood development, will examine several areas in his field including ADHD and stress levels in kids. A clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Newmark will also lead discussions on the significance of nutrition, sleep, exercise and social activity in Raising Healthy Kids.
Quick & Easy Wellness -- Jim Nicolai, an expert in combining conventional medicine with the intelligent use of complementary and alternative therapies, will reveal how easy it is to embrace wellness with presentations including Breathwalking for Wellness and Quick & Easy Herbs.
On the Origins of Wellness with Dr. Weil cruise October 6 to 20, 2018, Dr. Weil will sail the region in the Mediterranean where integrative medicine is rooted. On the roundtrip itinerary from Athens, Seabourn Odyssey will explore the southern coast of Greece including Mykonos, Crete, Naxos, and Rhodes, as well as Syracuse, Italy; and Valletta, Malta. The onboard Wellness Cruise program includes more than 25 workshops and discussions from authorities on integrative medicine.
Here is a sample:
Origins of Healing with Dr. Weil is a fascinating look through the lens of integrative medicine that recognizes humans' innate healing power. Other topics led by Dr. Weil include Nutrition 101: The Mediterranean and Anti-Inflammatory Diets; Integrative Medicine: The Future of Health Care; and Healthy Aging.
Harvesting the Natural Wisdom of the Body for Self-Healing -- Ann Marie Chiasson, co-director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, also leads topics like Energy Healing: Old Wives' Tale or Old Wives' Wisdom; Heart Center Meditation; and The Transformational Process.
Vibrantly Healthy Women -- Victoria Maizes, an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine and a professor of medicine, Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Arizona, presents Nourishing Your Health by Living Green, and examines everything from cutting-edge nutritional advances to the neuroscience of happiness in Vitality -- How to Uncover More.
While these trips represent special themed cruises, Seabourn is offering the resources and expertise on all its ships
Seabourn cruisers can find Dr. Weil's integrative approach at Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, which will be available onboard every Seabourn ship by the end of 2017. Created via partnership between Seabourn and The Onboard Spa by Steiner, the program is led by an onboard Mindful Living coach, a certified yoga and meditation practitioner whose role is to inspire and educate passengers throughout the voyage. Complimentary Mind and Body seminars adapted from Dr. Weil's best-selling books and research are offered to educate on philosophies and practices aligned with the program's mission, while individualized one-on-one wellness sessions and other spa and wellness services are also available for a fee.
By John Roberts
I was visiting Miami for a few days, so I figured I should go ahead and make a side trip to Orlando to visit my brother, as well. After all, I was in no rush to get back to New Jersey in mid-November. Yes, I do prefer days of endless sunshine to gray skies and bitter cold!
But how to get cover the distance. A flight? Too expensive. Rent a car? Ditto.
Bart had told me about his experiences using a bus service to get around the state. Megabus features routes from Orlando to Miami and back (with stops in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale), and the fares can be incredibly cheap.
Megabus sometimes runs promotions and sells seats for as low as $1. The earlier you book your fare, the best chance you have to snag the lower fares: $1 and $9 seats, for example. I booked a week out from my trip and paid $25.50 ($23 plus a $2.50 admin fee). Still, not too bad to get from Miami to Orlando, a 4.5-hour hour ride.
It's a double-decker, with seats on the lower level from the middle to the front of the bus. The upper deck has seats all the way from front to back, and any movement of the bus swaying will be more noticeable up there. A bathroom is in the middle of first level right next to the steps that lead up to the top. The space at the back of the bus on Level 1 is used for luggage.
Seats are soft, so the ride was fairly comfortable. I found it a bit tight, though, as I am 6-foot-4, the bus was full, and I had a seat mate in my row. The seats recline, and the bus I was on had no tray tables. There are a few quad seat groupings that share a table area between them. Outlets to charge your devices are located in several spots on the ceiling throughout the bus and in between each seat near your knees.
The rides offer free Wi-Fi, but as my driver said "If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
OK. Fair enough.
You can book online at US.Megabus.com. The confirmation and ticket is sent by email.
I clicked on the ticket link that I received in my email and took a screen shot of by reservation in case I lost my Internet connection at the bus terminal. You simply show up to the bus waiting area ahead of your scheduled departure. I arrived a half-hour early at the Intermodal Center at Miami International Airport and joined the line that was already forming at the Megabus area (the center services other buses, such as Greyhound). You can pay more to reserve a particular seat, but people typically just pick whatever is available.
When the bus arrives, the driver checks for your reservation, has you place your luggage to be stowed in a neat lineup and tells you to go ahead and get onboard the bus. The driver then stows the bags, hops on the bus and takes off. Our driver gave us a quick overview of the trip, pointed out the restroom area and the features of the bus (mainly just the outlets and sketchy Wi-Fi) and then the bus was mostly silent as we completed our journey to Orlando.
Good to Know
The Wi-Fi on my ride was not working well, and from what I could hear from others, they had little luck. I have a good data plan so I didn't need it anyways. If you want to use a laptop to get work done while riding the Megabus, you should make sure you can provide your own data. I downloaded some Netflix shows to my phone and just watched them during the ride, which helped the time pass nicely.
Pack plenty of water or other drinks to keep hydrated, as well as a few snacks. This is essential if you are on a nearly five-hour ride.
My trip was blissfully uneventful. I have heard that you often encounter unique characters on these trips, but everyone I rode with was respectful, quiet and polite. At least on the first level where I was seated. (Who knows what kind of party was going on upstairs?)
I hope this helps if you are considering using Megabus.
Thanks for reading, and always travel happy!