As a cruise lover who wants to spread the joy of travel, it's my duty to point out your chance to win a free cruise and other goodies.
Check out this upcoming Twitter chat.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is holding a two-hour twitter event where we'll discuss all the cools ways to enjoy "Cultural Exploration" cruises. Tweet along and engage in the event for a chance to win amazing prizes from cruise line partners as well as American Express gift cards.
Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Time: Noon to 2 p.m. EST
Hashtag: #CruiseSmile, #Sweepstakes
Cruise Line Partners:
American Express gift cards
MSC Cruises bathrobe and candle
Gift bag of prizes from Cunard Line
$50 American Express gift card from CroisiEurope
Anthem of the Seas gift bags from Royal Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines prize pack
Win a Cruise!
Participate in the #CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes for a chance to win a Cultural Exploration cruise for two. Immerse yourself in different cultures, explore historic sites and see the world! Check out the incredible variety of cultural exploration cruises from October 7 to October 16. Enter the during the cultural exploration theme period for your chance to win your choice of one of the amazing featured international cruises.
To enter, simply upload your "cruise smile" selfie at www.CruiseSmile.org and share the entry with friends. For more chances to win, post your photo on Twitter and/or Instagram using #CruiseSmile and #sweepstakes and share your #CruiseSmile with friends to earn even more entries into the sweepstakes.
Also, free cruises are available until the end of October. Enter daily to win from a choice of cruises.
GOOD LUCK! HAPPY SAILING!
By John Roberts
Paris beckons. Bet you hear a lot of people say that.
I have been to Europe many times, and even to a few cities in France: Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez and Strasbourg.
But not yet to the famed and romantic City of Light.
I plan to fix that soon.
I just might have found the perfect way for my introduction to Paris -- and Normandy, too! River cruise line AmaWaterways offers a week-long Seine River journey that thoroughly explores the Normandy region of France and includes two full days in Paris.
After taking two prior cruises with AmaWaterways on the Danube River, I know the company can deliver on the type of adventure I want for my initial foray into the heart of France.
(Stick around to the end of this post, and I'll show you how to win a free cruise!)
You know me, I'm going look for active, heart-pumping techniques to get around a destination.
AmaWaterways leads the way in active river cruising. I have previously sailed on Danube cruises on the new AmaViola ship and then on a river cruise biking trip on AmaSonata with adventure travel company Backroads.
AmaWaterways cruises the Seine in France with its AmaLegro ship. Here is what the itinerary holds for cruisers, who start the voyage in Paris before sailing into the historic Normandy region of the country. You visit the village of Giverny, where Monet lived and worked for 43 years, and Honfleur, a charming harbor town known for generations of resident artists.
I'm especially looking forward to visiting the Normandy beaches of World War II to further understand how history changes on the battlefield there.
From there, you visit Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, and Les Andelys, home of Chateau Gaillard, a medieval castle and military stronghold built by Richard the Lionheart and dating to 1196.
The journey concludes with a panoramic tour of Paris' top sights and a visit to the Musee d'Orsay.
On the 148-passenger ship, passengers stay in luxurious staterooms that offer constant views of the passing scenery through their floor-to-ceiling windows that open to balconies. The ship also features a sun deck (the best spot to hang out and enjoy the time sailing down the river) with a whirlpool and walking track. AmaLegro also has a spa where you can get a massage and a fitness center. Wi-Fi is included in your fare.
And don't forget the food. Gourmet meals highlight regional French cuisine, complete with fine wines for your dinners. The staff on these ships has always provided spectacular service during my cruises, too. Believe me, this makes the trip all the more enjoyable.
While this trip offers a full schedule of activities on shore and amenities on the ship, I asked AmaWaterways what else they offer on this itinerary. You know, for travelers who like to stay active and want to see even more while getting away from the pack.
Here are the active tour options on this weeklong cruise.
GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF ROUEN
This sightseeing bike tour takes you through the history-filled streets of Rouen, covering about 12 miles over the course of two hours. You'll see the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Market Square, the Medieval Quarter and the Great Clock.
GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF LES ANDELYS
Another 12-mile ride. This outing gets your heart pumping as you take in the town of Les Andelys, which is tucked into a tight bend of the Seine River. The tour shows the original village, built as the quarters for the workers of Chateau Gaillard. Surrounded by historic structures and scenic views, you'll immerse yourself in the rich history and beauty of the region. You'll stop at Grand Andely city center to see city hall, gorgeous churches, the Nicolas Poussin public garden and Musee de Tosny.
VIDEO: AmaWaterways Biking Tour on the Danube River
CHATEAU GAILLARD HIKE
At every stop, a walking tour will be available for checking out the cities or villages on your voyage. You might be seeking a little more strenuous way to see more of the town or from a different vantage point, away from the crowds.
A hiking tour is a wonderful option for the fitness inclined. This 2 hour and 30 minute hike covers two miles and takes you high above the town of Chateau Gaillard.
You'll hike up to the castle and visit the ruins before walking back down to Petit-Andely for a 30-minute guided walking tour. AmaWaterways warns that this hike is extremely strenuous.
Perfect! See: River cruising can be as extreme as you want.
So, who is coming with me? Thanks for reading, and remember to travel fit.
WIN A FREE CRUISE: The #CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes
This post was created in partnership with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to help recognize its annual "Plan a Cruise Month" of October.
You can win a cruise of your choice by entering the cruise industry's annual #CruiseSmile sweepstakes. Now through October 31, enter your best #CruiseSmile selfie each day for a chance to win a cruise vacation in each week in October.
To enter, simply upload your selfie at www.CruiseSmile.org. For more chances to win, post your photo on Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtags #CruiseSmile and #sweepstakes -- and share your #CruiseSmile with friends to earn even more entries into the sweepstakes.
By John Roberts
I finally went on my first biking tour.
I have long had a desire to cycle around Europe to explore the countryside and cities. It appeals to me because I always thought it would be the ideal way to set your own pace, see the sights and get plenty of exercise.
Well, it certainly didn't disappoint. I did the biking adventure as part of a river cruise with AmaWaterways. The cruise line collaborates with adventure travel company Backroads to offer biking outings on rivers in Europe, such as the Rhine, Douro, Seine and Danube.
I spent a week pedaling along the Danube and the surrounding countryside villages, farms, orchards and vineyards. This hybrid-style trip isn't a full-fledged biking tour. It's also not your standard river cruise. The combo is a delightful taste of both.
If you have been on a cruise on the Rhine or Danube already and want to see it from a different perspective, this is a voyage for you. If you have always wanted to try a biking tour but worried that the itinerary would be too intense, the Backroads biking cruises on AmaWaterways are a wonderful introduction. I biked about 150 miles during the week, with rides from eight to 50 miles in a day. It was never too extreme.
I've outlined 7 things you should know before you go . . .
Get Back on that Bike: You'll want to get re-acquainted with your bike, especially that seat. Spend a few hours in the saddle. Ideally, you'll be able to ride around your neighborhood, but you can use the stationary cycles at your gym to at least get the feel of the bike seat and to get your legs prepared for the amount of pedaling you'll be doing. If you already are a regular or semi-regular biker or take spin classes, you are already set. I am not, so I started going on regular 10-mile daily bike rides about a month before my cruise.
Really, No Pressure: If you don't think you can do the longer rides that Backroads offers each day, choose one of the easier or shorter options. Be honest with yourself. You'll still have a great time. Backroads also offers electric-assist bikes that have a small battery that you can activate to help up steeper hills. Consider picking one of these bikes if you have any doubts about your endurance.
Pick Your Pace: The route options are thoroughly explained each day before you ride, and you get a handy GPS unit with turn-by-turn details. It works really well. So, you may ride at your own pace. I stopped often to enjoy particularly stunning scenery and take tons of pictures. I paused to watch a family ride by on their ponies and pulled over several times to snap shots of castles, towns and other points of interest.
You Won't Go Hungry: Backroads stocks you up with trail mix, fruits, energy drinks and even candies in the morning. You just grab a baggie and fill it with whatever you might want during the day to keep you satisfied. Also, you'll come upon the support team van several times during your ride, and the tour leaders will lay out some more snacks and a cooler filled with water, juices, sodas and beer (I recommend trying the regional varieties on hand).
It's Better with Beer: Like I noted, the team offers beers at the pit stops, and you also can enjoy a glass or two of wine as a celebration at the end of some rides. If you are a beer or wine aficionado, you'll be visiting several amazing spots to savor the flavors. After a day of riding, I liked to stroll the towns or cities that marked the port stops for our ship, AmaSonata, and stop off at a bar to try a new brew. I had beers in Vilshofen, Germany; Vienna, Linz and Weissenkirchen, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Budapest, Hungary.
Gear Up: Consider taking along a light rain jacket and fingerless gloves. You'll ride on rainy days. I should say: You can choose to ride on rainy days; you don't have to. A jacket and gloves will help keep you dry and comfy -- and avoid blisters. Also, I bought a pair of biker shorts. You know, the tight compression kind that leave nothing to the imagination. Yeah, those. They come with a padded seat the exact shape of a bike seat and help greatly in keeping your tush from getting too sore. Plus, you'll be strutting around Europe in true biker style! Also, see my packing list for a trip with Backroads and AmaWaterways.
Choices Galore: Backroads and AmaWaterways are in the second season of their bike-cruise collaboration, and the sailings are expanding. They feature 58 trips in 2016 and at least 58 more in 2017. You can pick journeys on the Rhine, Danube, Seine (France) and Douro (Spain).
I urge you to check them out. I had a blast sailing the rivers at night with all the comforts and fabulous food and service onboard (spa treatments, free Wi-Fi, heated pool on the sun deck). Plus, you unpack once for the week and get to make wonderful new friends -- you're biking with about two dozen like-minded adventurous travelers. What's not to love?
Thanks for reading,
Travel fit. Travel happy. Travel often!