Cruising

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Far away, almost lost in the serene beauty of the Pacific Ocean you will discover the low domed massive volcanoes rising from the depths of the sea. Over millions of years, these volcanoes turned into islands to form the “Enchanted Islands;” as the Galapagos are called.

The first Spanish navigators were convinced they could see the islands move. Starting in the early 1535 the islands were called “ Las Encantadas.” The bewitched islands. The species that live and nest on the different islands do not fear the human presence. We will be able to observe them from a few feet away. As you snorkel, puppy seals will swim with you. Penguins, seals, giant tortoises, blue and red footed boobies, marine iguanas and land iguanas populate “Las Encantadas.”

Visiting Galapagos is a return to Eden, where all the endemic species live in peace, which is quite the opposite on the continents of the world.

Both tours are very diverse; they offer different experiences. The April tour stays in hotels in three different islands, while the October tour sails on a yacht visiting 5 islands, and making 7 stops to observe the diverse endemic flora and fauna. The symbols of the Galapagos are the blue-footed booby and the giant tortoises.

Discover our two tours to Peru and a seven day Cruise on the Amazon River:

1. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, a return to paradise

April 2 – 15, 2023

This tour is operated with a maximum capacity of 17 passengers.

Carol Alegre, one of the two travel experts will lead this adventure, visiting and staying in 3 different islands in the Galapagos archipelago, while in continental Ecuador the exploration includes the Cloud Forest with its myriads of hummingbirds, the famous Otavalo Indian Market, hot springs of Papallacta, set amidst the towering volcanoes and Colonial Quito; declared by UNESCO a heritage city. The maximum capacity for this tour is 18 passengers.

2. Galapagos, the Enchanted Islands, Colonial Quito, Otavalo

Indian Market and Cotacachi – September 14 - 23, 2023

This tour has been designed to give you a full adventure in the Galapagos archipelago by sailing from island to island and overnighting in each island allowing more time to see endemic species of birds and animals which make the islands their home. We can take only 18 passengers on this spectacular departure.

We visit the islands in two small groups with certified naturalist guides. We allow our travelers snorkeling and swimming on the wonderful beaches of Galapagos. We explore the world famous Otavalo Indian Market and Cotacachi, a charming village where our travelers can purchase at bargain price leather articles. Quito is the Capital of Ecuador, perched on the Andes and surrounded by majestic volcanoes. We will walk the downtown streets and bask in the history of the most important colonial capital city of the Americas, which still maintains the ancient traditions of the native population, dating back to millennia.

Carlos L. Fida, a seasoned Latin America traveler will conduct this very special departure; the number 6th in the last 8 months. To find out more about this tour call Carlos at 801-483-5212.

You can call any of the preferred travel counselors at Morris Columbus Travel to book any of these tours.

River Cruising is my favorite type of cruising. Rivers can take you to the heart of a country where you can see how they have created the world’s greatest cities. Rivers also help you gain understanding of cultures and countries. I recently had an opportunity to cruise the Rhine and the Main Rivers onboard the AMAPrima from Basel, Switzerland to Nuremberg, Germany, on AmaWaterway’s Medieval Treasures cruise. Mention the opportunity to see great architecture and medieval culture, and I am in.

I was drawn to this itinerary because of the castles, cathedrals, and history. There is no better way to see the country than from your floating hotel either on your balcony, in the pool, or on the sun deck.

I started in Basel, Switzerland a day early and had an opportunity to tour Basel’s Old Town with a guide, and see the Munster Cathedral. The view of the Rhine is incredible, many locals float and swim down the river to cool off on a hot day. Transportation on the local tram is free with a hotel stay, and it is easy and fun.

After boarding the ship, the first stop was Strasbourg, France. I chose to bike this excursion and weave among the visitors and around the city to see the sights. The guide led us past parks where migrating storks nested, past the European Council Building, and along the river to the Strasbourg Cathedral, one of the tallest Gothic cathedrals in the world. It was built in the Middle Ages and boasts an astronomical clock that rises to the ceiling and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Germany. Strasbourg is a leading European political center and historical site with a seesaw history between France and Germany for many generations.

The tour through Speyer’s Romanesque Cathedral with our guide enlightened me more into the history of the area, its culture, and politics. Touring Speyer was fun with tasting spaghetti ice, apfeltashes and numerous baked goods and treats. There was a 300-year-old Protestant church building constructed of wood and stenciling that was absolutely beautiful. I also toured the ruins of the Jewish Community. The other tour option was the Technical Museum. Many passengers thoroughly enjoyed this experience of trains, planes, and automobiles and commented there was not enough time leaving everyone wanting more.

The next day was a visit to Rudesheim. Gentle walkers can take the Gondola ride over the vineyards and active walkers can hike through the fragrant vineyards. The Quiet Vox headsets make traveling easy and allows you to wander off a bit and still hear your guide’s narrative. This is where we say good-by to the Rhine and hello to the gently flowing Main with its numerous locks, beautiful countryside and small towns with churches and cathedrals.

Castles were on the agenda the next day with a visit to Miltenberg and Wertheim. I chose the hike to Miltenberg Castle. It was fairly moderate hike and provided the most beautiful view of the entire cruise. I walked past half-timbered houses with the flower boxes, a truly German sight; past the breweries and the storefronts and ended my visit to a famous gummy bear store. The guides are so knowledge and personable. After a short motor coach ride to Wertheim, I again took the castle hike. This one was more challenging but the view from the top was breathtaking but there are a lot of stairs! Gentle walkers could stay in the city and enjoy the beer, pretzels, and music.

There are so many options that it is a difficult choice and they are all included with the cruise. The options today were taking a Wurzburg Walking Tour to see the Residenz Palace, the bike tour from Kitzingen to Volkach or a full day Rothenburg Tour. I have wanted to re-visit Rothenburg, one of the stops on the famed Romantic Road in Bavaria. It was a full day touring the city. Rothenburg is the iconic walled medieval town complete with cobblestone street, the iconic clock tower, half-timber houses, dirndl shops, street cafes, and Christmas shops. This is an absolute jewel in the itinerary and a place to re-visit and spend more time.

The day ended with a wine festival in Volkach where our ship passengers were honored with complimentary wine and bratwurst and entertained with traditional Bavarian song and dance.

The final day of the cruise was spent in Bamburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are known for their specialty, smoked beer. The area of Little Vienna is very charming with the colors, flowers and architecture. I chose to take the walking tour, but the bike tour is available from the town of Eltmann to Bamberg as well. Bamberg is a great place for souvenirs, food, and drinks. It is also has a 13th century Romanesque Cathedral.

AMAWaterways truly caters to their passengers. The AMAPrima is a beautiful ship with a pool on the top deck, complimentary bicycles, an oversized chess board, a spa, and a fitness center. The food and drinks are plentiful and delicious. Caring chefs cater to any food allergies or needs. Evening entertainment was a lot of fun.

Unpack only once on your floating luxury hotel. Daily shore excursions are included with multiple options for gentle, moderate or active walkers or you can bike between ports instead of walking. Then you can unwind each evening with exquisite dining and onboard activities and entertainment with your fellow passengers.

I truly enjoyed my time aboard the AMAPrima and would heartily recommend this river cruise vacation to anyone looking for their next European adventure.

Julie Best

If I can help plan your next cruise or river cruise, please contact me:

Street: 1431 South State Street
City: Orem, UT 84020
Phone: 801.483.5230

Business Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

I had the opportunity to visit ‘The Last Frontier’ recently and was blown away by the shear beauty of Alaska. I have cruised Alaska many times, both the inside passage and the one way Gulf cruises, but have never really had the option of traveling into the interior of the state. Just the vastness of the wilderness was enough to make you catch your breath. I’ve always known that Alaska is the largest state in size, but when you visualize that it is still larger than the next three largest states (Texas, California, and Montana) combined it is overwhelming. We started our journey by flying into Anchorage and overnighting before heading off to Denali the next day.

We were able to travel on Holland America’s McKinley Explorer glass dome train from Anchorage to Denali taking about 8 hours. The train is beautiful. You are up high and surrounded by glass on the sides and roof of the train. The scenery is spectacular, crossing over rivers and looking for wildlife along the way. We were lucky to see quite a few moose along the tracks. While onboard we enjoyed a very nice lunch in the dining car. No one was in a hurry and it was a very relaxing trip.

We stayed at the Mt. McKinley Chalet in Denali for two nights. The accommodations were lovely in a type of cabin feel room with a separate living room overlooking a rushing river. No air conditioning, but you didn’t need it with the breeze from the river coming through to cool things off. While there we took a 5 hour Tundra/Wilderness tour inside Denali National Park. We were lucky enough to see Caribou, Dall Sheep, and a Grizzly. I would highly recommend this longer tour going deeper into the park. The weather was perfect so we had beautiful views of the mountain itself.

Over 2 years ago I listened to a representative from Katarina Cruise lines talk about his product at our Travel Expo 2020. I was intrigued. Croatia has always been on my dream list and seeing this amazing country by small cruise line sounded perfect to me. Sign me up!

Unfortunately the world had different plans and like many of my clients, my cruise was cancelled in 2020 and also 2021. Optimistically I rebooked in 2022 and just returned from this incredible experience.

Katarina Cruise lines has overt 20 ships ranging from a deluxe product to a budget friendly option. I went with the deluxe premium option because of all the inclusions like most meals, tickets to experiences and city and town tours.

Our tour started in Split Croatia and went to 5 different islands and ports. My favorite were the small island and towns without big ships and thousands of tourist. My favorite was Korcula, birthplace of Marco Polo and Mljet with its beautiful lakes and national parks.

Dubrovnik, our 3rd stop was an amazing town to see with its 3 layer city walls and ancient buildings and towns. Tourism is back in full force there and it was very crowded. I was eager to get back to the smaller ports.

Katerina offers the perfect mix of downtime, which is relaxing on their spacious deck or swimming in the Adriatic at swim stops off the back of the boat. We experienced swim stops a couple times a day and it was one of the highlights.

I was prepared to experience a bare bones cruise but every day breakfast and lunch were included. Most dinners were included except for a couple of nights where we ate at local restaurants on the waterfront. Again, the perfect mix of time on your own and then time with other guests. The food was fantastic. They love their seafood and I never got tired of meals fresh from the sea.

Our ship held 28 guests. Most onboard were Europeans although we had South Africans and New Zealanders as well. It was such a delightful experience to meet people from other countries and hear their stories.

The service on board was very attentive. Our cruise director Mariana made everyone feel so pampered. The waitstaff, cooks, captain and crew were amazing.

I highly recommend this experience for those who want to see Croatia on a more intimate level.

Please contact me and I can help make your cruise dreams become a reality!

Kathy Hirst

If I can help plan your next vacation, please contact me:

Street: 101 South 200 East, Suite #100
City: Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Phone: 801.483.6537

Business Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Rhine on one of Viking” s ship, Viking Kara, exploring Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The Rhine River runs from the Swiss Alps through the Franco-German border and empties into the North Sea up in the Netherlands. I embarked in Basel on a beautiful sunny Sunday. I spent the night before in Basel and discovered its lovely medieval old town. Embarkation was seamless. Upon entering the ship, I was happily surprised by the décor, simple, classy, and inviting. The entire trip was peaceful and relaxing, a perfect balance between cultural excursions and leisure time. The atmosphere on board was casual, intimate, and friendly. We were only 123 guests which gave us the feeling of a large family reunion. I stayed in a French balcony cabin. The cabin had several outlets, both European and American, so I could easily keep all my electronics charged. The bathroom was perfect, from the shower to the heated floor to the fog free mirror. The large drawers and hanging closet allowed me to unpack completely.

All the Viking’s ships are individually named after different Nordic gods and goddesses. Our ship, Viking Kara, had a giant painting at the top of the main staircase. The painting represented Kara. in Norse mythology, Kara is one of the Valkyries, who are also known as swan maidens or wish maidens.

I enjoyed the small colorful towns, World War II history, amazing castles perched up high on the hills surrounded by forest and the vineyards. For the scenery, my favorite excursions were the Black Forest, the highlights of Strasbourg, and the bike ride in Kinderdijk in the middle of the windmills. The half day sail along the Middle Rhine was spectacular. All the cultural sites, many of them UNESCO sites, were interesting: the Imperial cathedral of Speyer, the Fortress of Koblenz, and the Cathedral of Cologne.

Overall, Viking exceeded my expectations in many ways. Often trips to Europe are so exhausting that you need a vacation when you get home. My seamless, stress-free journey was a pure pleasure.

I cannot wait to travel again on a Viking ship.

I will be happy to help you plan a worry-free Viking cruise. Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me