The savvy seafarer’s cruise album

By  Richard and Patti Pietschmann

We’ve taken cruises on ships of every size and style from mega liners to small luxury vessels and written about  them in newspapers,magazines and on the web (most recently  www.cruiseable.com) and here are a few good photos from our voyages:

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Spa  time

Crystal Cruises deck and butler for our  penthouse stateroom

 Morning buckwheat pancakes on Crystal Cruises 

 A birthday/anniversary celebration on Silversea

 Dining on the deck of the Seabourn Quest

 A seafood fest on board Regent Seven Seas Mariner Alaska Cruise

 Regent SS Mariner stateroom stewardess

 A veal chop  on RSSC Mariner

Seabourn

 A veal chop at  Silversea Hot Rocks

Dining a Le Champagne on Silversea

 Leaving Bora Bora

Paddle  tennis  on Crystal Serenity

 Happiness is having room service breakfast on Crystal Cruisses

 Bora Bora

 The mighty Amazon from Seabourn Quest

French Polynesia from a Princess Cruise

Ruby Princess

And it doesn’t end here, next trip Queen Mary2 from New York to Southampton, England; Seabourn Encore, Silversea Muse, RSSC Explorer and others. Stay tuned.

Posted in butlers on ships, Cruise photography, Cruiseable.com, Crystal Cruises, dining at sea, French Polynesia cruises, Paul Gauguin, Tahiti, summer fare sales, paradise for a song, Paul Gauguin summer blow out, luxury cruises, my opinion, op ed, penthouses at sea, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cruise French Polynesia in style on the Paul Gauguin

Book it now and get paradise for a song

By Patti Covello Pietschmann
The Paul Gauguin
is one spiffy little ship that sails year around in a tropical paradise known as French Polynesia. While on board you are served fantastic food and offered insights into  the  mystical culture of the archipelago.  And for a short time the company is offering  fares are so good that I am ready to book now. These summer blow sale fares include tips, drinks and round trip air from Los Angeles to Tahiti. Watch the video to whet your appetite.

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Paul Gauguin Cruises  get a savings of up to $4,750* per person off previously advertised rates on select cruises aboard The Gauguin  when booked by August 20, 2016:

Tahiti & the Society Islands (7 nights):

  • October 8, 15, 2016 – now  from $4,445 per person
  • December 21, 2016 – now from  $4,545 per person
  • February 18March 25, 2017 – now from $4,445 per person

Society Islands & Tuamotus (10 nights): 

  • January 4, 2017 – now from $4,595 per person
  • March 8, 2017 – now from  $4,745 per person

Society Islands & Tuamotus – Special (11 nights):

  • December 3, 2016 – now from  $4,795 per person

Cook Islands & Society Islands (11 nights):

  • February 25, 2017 – now from  $4,995 per person

Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands (14 nights):

  • January 28, 2017 – now from  $5,645 per person

What to know:

  • Nearly 70% of the ship’s suites and staterooms offer balconies.
  • The food is exceptional in venues such as L’Etoile, which showcases an array of culinary creations expertly prepared each evening, and in  two  other restaurants  La Veranda and Le Grill, which serve breakfast and lunch. At night, signature dishes from celebrity chef Jean-Pierre Vigato, world-renowned Chef Propriétaire of the Michelin-rated Restaurant Apicius in Paris, are offered in La Veranda, and Polynesian specialties are served poolside at Le Grill.
  • Entertainment includes locally sourced talent called Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins—a troupe of Tahitian entertainers—that immerse you in the culture  of the area. There are also expert lecturers on each voyage and special guests on select sailings conducting presentations on topics ranging from the history of the South Pacific to conservation, culture, marine life, and the wonders of coral reefs.
  • Pampering and diversions  include a luxurious spa, fitness center, watersports marina (if you love to snorkel,swim or dive you will enjoy this convenience), and expansive outdoor decks with chaise lounges and a pool are also available aboard The Gauguin.
  • Exclusive access to Motu Mahana, the cruise line’s private islet off the coast of Taha’a where guests can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, Polynesian activities, a full-service bar, a floating lagoon bar, and a delicious barbecue. In beautiful Bora Bora, (see photos below by Richard J Pietschmann):

    you get complimentary access to a private, white-sand beach with beach volleyball, sunbathing, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and refreshments. This is truly a highlight of the voyage, trust me.

For more information or reservations, contact a professional travel agent, call 1-800-848-6172, or visit www.pgcruises.com.

 

Posted in cruise news, French Polynesia cruises, Paul Gauguin, Tahiti, summer fare sales, paradise for a song, Paul Gauguin summer blow out, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Richard & Patti Pietschmann cruise the world

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The Savvy Seafarer at work

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Setting sail on a magical Alaska cruise

Regent Seven Seas stylish Mariner surpassed expectations

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I knew we were in for a fabulous time on our Alaska cruise, especially since we were familiar with Regent Seven Seas attention to detail and passenger comfort. The 700-passenger actually exceeded expectations, and I mean it even as a guest of the cruise line.

The Alaska cruise began in Anchorage where we boarded a ship’s shuttle bus to ward, Alaska–a 2 1/2 scenic drive that we hadn’t actually looked forward to  doing since we had to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a 6:15 a.m. Delta flight that would stop in Seattle first.  It was worth it. The seven day cruise ended in Vancouver, British Colombia with mesmerizing scenery of icebergs, glaciers and rain forests combined with all the heavenly comforts of luxurious 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Mariner. While the Mariner sports an inviting swimming pool few have dared to dive in as baby it’s cold outside. But there are two well-used Jacuzzi’s and a spa with steam and saunas to keep us warm. There is also delicious food to comfort the body and soul and much more, read the first entry here. The many splendors on board the feisty Mariner– from exceptional dining to luxurious appointments–aside Alaska takes the spot light. So follow along on the first three days with stops at the Hubbard Glacier and Sitka by the slideshow photos that are worth a million words especially from America’s Last Frontier.

Embarkation in Seward on the spiffy 700-passenger, 48,075-ton Mariner, that was stylishly refurbished in 2014 , was seamless with glasses of Champagne  proffered as we boarded. Stewards escorted us to our  suite  (the ships is the first all suite, all balcony vessel built in 2001). Our deluxe Veranda suite  805 measures 301 square-feet including balcony. It’s furnished with desk, vanity, king bed, flat screen TV, walk-in closet, lots of drawers, mini-fridge stocked with free beverages, robes, slippers, hair dryer, sofa, and table.

The Hubbard Glacier, pictured below, was one of the highlights of this trip.

hubbard deck shotRegent Seven Seas fares are the most all-inclusive offered which translates into all tips covered, most shore excursions, select wines and Champagnes, top shelf spirits, and all meals even in alternative dining venues such as Signatures and Prime7.

The RSSC Mariner runs smoothly and fairly seamlessly with an accommodating suite crew. Sailing on her in Alaska sitting on your balcony you might catch a bald eagle majestically gliding in the sky or a whale or two. Today in Sitka we are heading off on a bicycle/walking tour so come back for a report on that plus more about cruising Alaska on the gorgeous not so ancient Mariner.

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The RSSC Mariner is manned by the company’s first female captain Serena Melani (pictured above) from Livorno, Italy who is did a fine job slowly gliding the ship up close and personal to the 400 to 700 year-old Hubbard Glacier (feature to come next on this amazing Ice Age formation) and into Sitka, yesterday and Juneau today, June 25. The vessel debuted in 2001 and was spiffed up stylishly in 2014. She sports all suites each with balconies, spa by Canyon Ranch, fitness center, large pool, Jacuzzi, four dinner venues, 24-hour room-service, very attractive bars ad lounges, and deck sports as well as indoor fun, shows and lectures. I wrote  this while on the ship with my laptop on top of a desk, where it was all week so I could post stories on websites and social networks.  Richard, my  first mate, and I shared  deluxe veranda 805 which is appointed with a desk, vanity, king bed, big bathroom with sink and shower, flat screen TV, free movies on TV and DVD, one free unlimited WiFi hookup per cabin meaning just one passenger gets to go on line without a fee and only one device at a time–much to the chagrin of a few passengers who nearly incited a cyber mutiny when they learned the service wasn’t free for everyone in their suite.
Posted in cruise news, Cruise tips, food at sea, luxury cruises, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cruise lines canceling Turkish itineraries due to spate of terrorist attacks

In the wake of a series of terrorist attacks in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, cruise  lines are eliminating stops  in the country and substituting them with Greek islands. Ataturk Airport.  Crystal Cruises,              serenity     Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and other companies announced earlier this year that their ships wouldn’t be visiting Turkish ports in 2016. Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises recently said that they had canceled stops in Turkey for 2017. Last week Windstar Cruises announced  it would be eliminating Istanbul on 16 cruise itineraries and replace it with Athens (Piraeus), Greece. The cruise line will also substitute Kalmnos and Nafplio Greece for Kusadasi and Bodrum, Turkey. Learn more about these changes on the Windstar Cruises official website. Ships may not be stopping in Turkey for a longtime which is a shame because the country has so much to offer.
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Celebrity Cruises also posted on its official website that the cruise line would be canceling all of the upcoming stops in Istanbul, and replacing them with stops in Athens, Greece. In total, seven sailings over the next five months will be impacted. If you are scheduled to sail from Istanbul or on a cruise that is scheduled to stop at Turkish ports be sure to contact the cruise line. Most likely you will get a notification if there have been port changes.

 

 

 

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Catching the sites of kitschy Ketchikan from Regent Seven Seas Mariner

arrival Ketichan It was what locals call a bluebird day, a beautiful, sunny day in Ketchikan—one of the rainiest cities in the world with an average yearly downpour of about 14 feet. According to a local, it was the best day in more than two weeks, the sun shining gloriously and the temperature hovering around 70 as passengers disembarked spiffy Regent Seven Seas Mariner. Like Richard and I most of the 700  passengers were taking one of the line’s complimentary shore excursions offered on this all-inclusive seven-day Alaska cruise from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, BC. The voyage lived up to or exceeded expectations.

 Before we even left home we booked our complimentary shore excursions (and made dinner reservations, on Regent Seven Seas web site). We were happy we selected the Rain Forest Expedition tour  in Ketchikan– which proved n easy hike alongside a roaring stream feeding into Ward Lake, about eight miles from the port. It was led by a knowledgeable guide named Carly, who was more naturalist than hiker and explained the glacier-created terrain, the spongy peat bog and identified the spruce, cedar, hemlock and alder trees. She pointed out the broad-leafed skunk cabbage plants that had been nibbled at and uprooted by hungry black bears after their long winter hibernation. In late June the pink salmon endemic to the creek hadn’t yet began their spawning runs, an event the bears no doubt eagerly awaited. But the tour group loved the sight and sound of the pristine water rushing past through dense screens of old growth trees. DSCN1313There was the usual warning that if a bear was spotted one must remain avoid screaming and particularly running, something that signals prey to the poor-sighted blacks, smaller and less aggressive than their brown bear (grizzly) cousins passenger had seen in Sitka, but still dangerous wild animals. No furry animal was sighted, however.

Following the two-hour walk  we strolled around Ketchikan, which is Alaska’s fourth largest city, despite its small population of about 14,000, and stopped for lunch at a local spot called Annabelle’s.  Annabelle's frontThis is a city of water, where even the airport must be reached by ferry and with no land connection to the outside—the only highway ends 10 miles in either direction beyond the center of town. What it is best known for, besides salmon and rain, is the size of its floatplane fleet, the largest in the world. Every day around 1,000 takeoffs and landings occur in the same tight sea lanes used by ships much larger than Mariner and were as easily seen as the curious juvenile bald eagle that flew within feet of the anchored ship.

Annabelle’s  was a bit of a disappointment. The  salmon  was over-cooked, the olive oil had a strange taste but the bread and salad was good. We popped for wine and a beer (which is proffered free on Mariner, but hey one isn’t in a Ketchikan restaurant every day). The typical Alaska eatery was filled with what looked like locals but also passengers from Marina, Holland America’s Voledam and the Coral Princess which were also docked there. After lunch it was back on a launch that took passengers back to the anchored Mariner for a night and one more day at sea before arrival in Vancouver.

Once back in our deluxe veranda suite 805 we sat on the veranda and watch while the captain sailed out of Ketchikan to the final stop  in Vancouver B.C. I love this ship so much that I can’t wait to do another  cruise on her, perhaps in Caribbean or Med next time. But Regent Seven Seas is well-known for getting things right and everything about this seven day journey was ideal.  Remember RSSC fare are truly ALL INCLUSIVE with everything covered from tips to shore excursions, drinks, alternative dining venues Prime7 (that serves kick ass steaks) and Signatures which offers continental cuisine in a romantic setting (most ships charge extra for meals outside the dining room, except this one and Seabourn.brunch buffet ketichan arrivalAbove is a buffet served on the Mariner during arrival in Ketchikan.

Posted in cruise news, Cruise tips, cruise web sites, dining at sea, food at sea, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, report, Uncategorized, Wine c | Tagged | 1 Comment

A magical Alaska cruise on RSSC Mariner

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The sight and sounds of Southeast Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier Hubbard glacierare transcendental. We encountered the world’s largest tidewater glacier on the second day of a week long cruise aboard  the  country club stylish 700-passengers Regent Seven Seas Mariner following the rugged, fjord-cut coastline of Alaska’s panhandle from Seward to Vancouver, and it was a showstopper. Hubbard winds 76 miles from the massive high-altitude ice field in Canada’s Yukon that feeds it down to Russell Fjord’s Disenchantment Bay in the United States. It moves with surprising speed, at a rate of tens of feet or more per day, not the inches typical of other glaciers. Its 400-foot-high face, or “snout,” is gnarled into abrupt towers and riven with the blue of ice compressed under great pressure until all air has been forced out of it. That vast shelf of sea-level ice is a mile across, and it periodically showers ice falls or calves icebergs into the water, often accompanied by the sharp cracks and deep booms of fracturing ice. Even the biggest cruise ships seem like bathtub toys. In front of it.

Hubbard Glacier, which is estimated to be from 400 to 700 years-old, is a highlight of any Alaska cruise It proves even more so on a stylish ship like Mariner where every suite has a balcony and thus instant access for all passengers to view a humpback whale blowing or a lone brown bear (called grizzly elsewhere) in search of a salmon dinner, and small enough to move quickly from one place to another to appreciate the ever-changing scenery of snow-clad mountains hung with high-altitude glaciers and endless swaths of thick forest packed with spruce, cedar and alder. Even the time of year cooperates, Alaska’s famed “midnight sun’s” lengthened days allowing hours more sightseeing time.

Captain Serena Melani, Regent Seven Seas first female commandant, adeptly navigated her 700-passenger vessel to the imposing glacier while naturalist and story teller Terry Breen regaled passengers with fascinating commentaries. Oohs and aahs were audible as passenger spotted turquoise-colored icebergs falling noisily into the water, a surreal scene and act of nature.

On this cruise the approximately three-hour voyage to the foot of the glacier took place on the day after embarkation in Seward. It is one of the most impressive experiences of the cruise but there are many more exciting sites to be seen until disembarkation in Vancouver on June 29.

Regent Seven Seas is one of the truest all-inclusive fare ships afloat, on this trip passengers were treated to  unlimited WiFi for one device , wines, Champagne, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, shore excursions (we did four in seven days) and tips paid. The voyage was magical on this recently refurbished luxury liner.

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