Spotlight on Travel with Confidence

Confidence – it’s the underrated perk of booking travel with a travel advisor. And, as travel begins to resume, we’re all looking for exactly that. Whether you’re interested in traveling responsibly with sustainability in mind, needing to feel secure and protected as you navigate the unknowns of new health requirements and safety measures, or simply wanting the assurance that you and your loved ones will have an amazing trip, booking with a travel advisor will provide all of that and more. 

Uncover the Roots of Mykonos Through Agrotourism

We all know Mykonos for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, vivid nightlife, and lifestyle for the rich and famous. But if you dig a little deeper and go beyond the curtain of whitewashed luxury, you’ll uncover a scene of authenticity where the cultural and culinary roots of the island as well as the people, the dairies and farms, and the local produce steal the show. Be prepared to have your perception of this iconic island in the Cyclades forever changed. And, with Greece having recently reopened its borders, this tried-and-true destination can finally reveal its other facets.


Imagine a home in a traditional Greek village. A wood-fired oven is coming up to temperature and the phyllo pastry is rolled out wafer-thin in the kitchen. An assortment of vegetables (straight from the garden) and cheeses (made in a local dairy) stand ready for whenever they are needed, as do the eggs (freshly collected from the hen coop in the yard). And as for the pie that’s being baked… that’s out of a hand-written recipe book passed down through generations.

Now, what if you learned that this house is in Mykonos? It’s an image that’s far from the scenes of luxury and glamour usually associated with the Cycladic isle. But the truth is that behind all that whitewashed beauty is a beating heart of authenticity that’s felt in every village on the island.

You can discover it by learning how to knead bread the local way or how all the different cheeses (like xynotiro, tyrovolia or kopanisti) are made. Or, you can pick produce straight from an organic vegetable patch and cook lunch with it.

You’ll learn all about the locals’ relationship with their domesticated animals (sheep, hens, horses, donkeys, and rabbits). And, you’ll be introduced to the island’s wines by sampling grape varieties you’ve perhaps never heard of before (Assytriko, Athiri, Monemvasia, Malagouzia, Agiannitis and Mandilaria).

Most of all, you’ll hear the stories of the personalities behind the farms and dairies showcasing the best of Mykonos’ traditional produce and cuisine, as you sample new tastes or buy souvenirs to relive the experience at home.

You can cherry-pick the farms and dairies that interest you on Mykonos, but if you want a fully authentic agrotourism experience, here are a few places you can’t miss.

Agios Lazaros

Very close to the main town, Agios Lazaros has the cosmopolitan aura of luxury shops and hotels you might expect on Mykonos, but if you want to learn about the local cheeses, head to Mykonos Farmers. Along with using modern techniques, the farm demonstrates traditional cheese-making methods and explains the differences in using fresh goat’s, sheep’s and cow’s milk. It’s your chance to see which you prefer: xynotiro (matured longer for a more sour, salty taste that works well with pasta dishes), tyrovolia (a soft, short-maturing cheese mainly used as a base in homemade pies), kopanisti (an alpine cheese that becomes spicier as it matures over 40 to 140 days), or niari (a short-maturing and soft cheese).

Ano Mera

Mykonos’ second-largest settlement has a wide range of experiences to sample. Just before you reach the village, you’ll find Mykonian Spiti, where you’re invited to experience the ways of a traditional home (as its name translates) – perhaps through a cookery lesson using vegetables from the family’s nearby farm accompanied by stories of local traditions, religion, and family life. Another farm – the Mykonos Vioma Organic Farm – is also found just outside of town. There, you can buy vegetables, dairy products, and wines, as well as honey from the farm’s 20 beehives. And, there’s Rizes (or “roots”), a farmstead which, as the name suggests, recreates Mykonian traditions through furnishings as well as through cookery and cheese-making lessons.

Travel Confidently with Atlas Ocean Voyages

As travel begins to pick back up, travelers are looking for an extra ounce of confidence and security. We chatted with our new cruise partner, Atlas Ocean Voyages, to find out why travelers looking to explore confidently should book one of their voyages.

Q: Tell us a bit about Atlas Ocean Voyages and the types of voyages the company offers.

Atlas Ocean Voyages is where big adventures start small. We’re leading the way in small-ship, expedition cruising, delivering luxe-adventure journeys for the curious and adventurous traveler. Our voyages are the exciting combination of high-end experiences with stimulating adventures and cultural immersions within both lesser-known destinations and hidden gems of iconic ones.

Our premier, expedition-style ship, World Navigator, is the smallest in luxury, expedition cruising. This means we’re able to provide more personal service per guest and an intimate atmosphere with fewer crowds.

Q: What makes Atlas Ocean Voyages unique in comparison to other cruise lines?

We define our expedition cruises as luxe-adventure travel, which is the perfect balance of simple elegance and valuable experiences that stimulate your mind, body, and spirit. We’re offering invigorating, once-in-a-lifetime moments and casual luxury for those travelers who enjoy the simple pleasures but still want to be excited by exploration. And, we make it all-inclusive, so you know you’re getting the most out of every journey.

Q: Why is Atlas Ocean Voyages the right choice for travelers looking to explore the world confidently?

Atlas’ Plan With Confidence policy is the most flexible in cruising. We allow for a 100% refund of deposited funds for cancellations up to 91 days before sailing, as well as a 100% future cruise credit on cancellations 15 days or more prior to sailing. Plus, you can change your reservation as many times as you want – including changing your destination – up to 15 days before setting sail.

Q: What is Atlas Ocean Voyages implementing on its new ship to keep travelers’ best interests in mind?

Our maiden voyage sets sail Summer 2021, so we’ve been able to craft and design everything with our guests’ best interests from the start. To create a sense of intimacy within one’s travel party, all dining is 2- or 4-seated spaces only.

World Navigator is also built with ultra-high lift fin stabilizers that increase stability up to 15 percent compared to conventional stabilizers, creating a comfortable voyage for guests. Moreover, its alternate hydro-jet propulsion system helps the ship quietly cruise up to five knots without disturbing marine wildlife, bringing travelers to incomparable up-close encounters. Plus, it’s categorized as a Polar Category C and Ice Class 1B polar code for Antarctic expeditions.

Q: What does “All Inclusive All The Way” mean for travelers who book with Atlas Ocean Voyages?

When we say “All Inclusive All The Way,” that means everything you expect on a luxury voyage plus even more to surprise and delight you. This promise includes roundtrip airfare for all destinations – including complimentary, non-stop private charter jet service to Ushuaia for all Antarctica expeditions; a complimentary land excursion in every port in every destination; medical evacuation insurance; and much more.

Q: If you could recommend one Atlas Ocean Voyages trip, which would you recommend?

Our maiden voyage, 7-Night Essential Black Sea & Asia Minor, setting sail July 28, 2021. It starts in Athens, which we’re excited about as Greece re-opens to US visitors, and sails to Odessa. Passing through Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania along thew way, travelers will get the chance to trek ancient ruins and engage in modern, local culture alike.

Q: BONUS: Describe Atlas Ocean Voyages in one word.

Luxe-Adventure


Image Credit: Atlas Ocean Voyages

7 Reasons to Be Hopeful for the Future of Travel

As social scientist and writer, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, once said: “Confidence isn’t optimism or pessimism, and it’s not a character attribute. It’s the expectation of a positive outcome.”

This feels especially true when we think of travel and what the tourism industry and society in general have had to overcome in the past year. But to us, this also means hope. Hope for a renewed sense of interconnectedness, for what the future has in store for us, and for a tourism landscape that is more sustainable, more inclusive, and that has a deeper meaning.

Here are seven reasons to remain hopeful and confident about the future of travel.

1  |  We are all craving it.

Hope is in the air for travelers all over the world. According to a recent survey by Vacasa and Allison + Partners, a majority of U.S. consumers (53%) say they feel hopeful about 2021. And of those, nearly 60% were planning to take a vacation this spring. This trend expands worldwide. According to Booking.com’s report on getting back to travel, 66% of the 28,000 travelers from 28 countries surveyed feel more hopeful about traveling in 2021, and an equal number have a heightened desire to see the world after being unable to do so in 2020. So much so that 71% of global travelers would rather go on a vacation this year than find true love! Need we say more? 

2  |  Vaccinations are rolling out.

The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is a big part of what gives travelers hope for the future, with a majority of travelers saying that they will not be traveling internationally until they’ve been vaccinated, and that they will only travel to countries where vaccination programs have been implemented. In the United States, the CDC said that those who are fully vaccinated can travel “at low risk to themselves” both domestically and internationally (with precautions such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing). As vaccinations keep getting more traction, this is music to our traveling ears. 

3  |  Countries are reopening to tourism.

Greece, Israel, Iceland, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Croatia, Tahiti, Barbados, Belize, Poland, Estonia, Guatemala, Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovenia... This list suffices to spark our travel-deprived wanderlust. But the good news is that it doesn’t stop there! All around the world, countries are welcoming back travelers. And, with the list getting longer each week and the protocols being different in every country, you’ll never be happier to have a travel advisor by your side to help you make sense of the requirements and measures in place to keep you safe. 

4  |  Companies are following the pace.

Everywhere, operators are getting back to travel. In April, G Adventures celebrated its 100th tour conducted since the restart. With their “Travel with Confidence” policy, they ensure that the most up-to-date health and safety measures are in place to protect travelers, staff, and local communities. On the air side, TAP Air Portugal announced that it will gradually restore its pre-COVID operations on 100 routes by August, with service to Lisbon from many North American cities and easier access to a COVID-19 testing service for passengers. Cruise lovers will rejoice about the long-awaited return of cruising, with Seabourn, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Silversea, Crystal and more resuming operations this summer. Again, your travel advisor can guide you through the most recent announcements and help you choose the safest option for you. 

5  |  Bookings are trending upward.

With the increase in flexible booking options, many companies are seeing significant pent-up demand from landlocked travelers, including for cruises in 2022 … and beyond! Silversea Cruises recently saw its 2023 South Side Story world cruise – a 139-day, arts-inspired itinerary visiting 66 destinations in 34 countries in the Southern Hemisphere – sell out within hours of its general opening! Oceania Cruises’ 2023 Around the World in 180 Days voyage – cruising to 96 ports in 33 different countries and visiting over 60 UNESCO World Heritage sites – also sold out in one day in January. This shows just how much travelers are yearning to finally make their bucket-list journey a reality. 

6  |  The cruise industry is resilient.

Despite the hardships of 2020, the sold-out world cruises speak to just how resilient the cruise industry is, and how much cruising is missed. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports that, after science-backed measures and enhanced protocols were put in place, more than 200 sailings took place from early July through mid-December 2020. And, there is optimism heading into 2021: according to CLIA’s 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, two out of three cruisers are willing to cruise within a year, and 58% of international travelers who have never cruised before are likely to cruise in the next few years. 

7  |  We have the power to shape a more sustainable future.

The pandemic has given us, as individuals and as a society, the opportunity to reflect on what we want for the future of travel. Science shows us that it is more important than ever to become more conscious travelers, to support businesses who share our values, and to visit destinations where we have a positive impact on communities. The tourism industry has sometimes been known for its tendency to harm natural environments and cause frictions with local people. But, with travel on hold for a year, we now have the ability to shape a more sustainable future for travel. Buying from small, local businesses, hiring local guides, valuing diversity and inclusion, being cognizant of our carbon footprint in order to reduce it, avoiding single-use plastics… These are all simple but actionable ways to start contributing to making travel better for the future and making our long-awaited travel experiences that much more memorable.


Travel Confidently by Traveling Responsibly

With Earth Day 2021 recently behind us, and with a newfound appreciation for slower travel post-pandemic, the conversations around sustainability are ramping back up. We’ve recently seen the positive effects of less tourism, but we also know how important tourism is to so many places around the world, so the solution lies within traveling responsibly and allowing our sustainability practices to evolve.

Ensemble Travel Group recently held a “Sustainable and Responsible Travel” panel featuring two Ensemble travel agency members who are experts on the topic and moderator, Dr. Jonathon Day, the founder of the Travel Care Code initiative and Associate Professor at Purdue University.

The main takeaways from the panel were 1) starting small is okay because doing anything is better than doing nothing, and 2) responsible and sustainable travel is so much more than being environmentally conscious.

Here are five “not so obvious” ways you can travel responsibly and sustainably:

Start small.

You don’t have to book a full-fledged sustainable trip to make a difference. Start small by simply booking portions of your trips, whether that’s your hotel stays, tours, or even your meals with companies that have the same values and ethics as you do. Look for companies that put sustainability at the forefront of their business practices, who give back portions of their proceeds to nonprofits, and/or who hire staff from the local community. Hiring locally does more than provide jobs to the local people; in many destinations, it keeps local people away from doing things like poaching which are harmful to the local community and the environment.

Think about where your money goes.

Like the above, support the destination’s community by spending your dollars locally. Find artisan shops for your souvenirs versus buying mass-produced goods, eat at restaurants that source their ingredients nearby and/or choose food from the menu that’s local to the area (hamburgers and fries are great, but eating beyond your comfort zone is better), and support family-owned local businesses. Additionally, taking part in a destination’s cultural heritage is vital to preserving it. This includes both the protection of physical sites and the celebration of the local people and their culture. From responsibly visiting famous landmarks to taking a cooking class with a local, booking experiences that showcase the local culture and give back to the community are much more rewarding than simply snapping a selfie at a tourist hot spot.

Take the “longer route”.

On the environmental side of things, take local transportation or consider walking or riding a bike (when it’s safe to do so). Stray away from cars when you can and enjoy the longer route. When traveling nowadays, it’s hard not to rush around in the attempt to see it all. From “FOMO” mentality to “doing it for the ‘gram,” we’ve lost sight of what’s truly important – slowing down and immersing ourselves into the destination we’re visiting. By taking the longer route, we not only help reduce carbon emissions and save the environment, we also support the local communities by spending more time exploring the “road less traveled.”

Incorporate educational experiences.

It’s never too late to begin incorporating responsible practices into your travels, but when possible, start children young. If children can learn how to responsibly travel now, it will have long lasting effects. When booking family vacations, don’t miss out on the opportunity to educate your child and help them learn about the world. Not only will it make a difference on destinations, it’ll make a difference on the world as a whole by raising more empathetic individuals with broader perspectives of other cultures and ways of life.

Another educational option to consider is regenerative travel which focuses on making destinations better, instead of simply “not being bad.” A great example of this is voluntourism. But, before you focus on regenerative travel efforts, it’s important you understand the basics of sustainable and responsible travel, which is why you should do the following.

Book with a travel advisor.

Planning a sustainable trip can be complicated, but you can make it a shared responsibility and collaborative effort by booking your trip through an advisor. Travel advisors have the ability to do the proper homework and partner with the proper companies in order to create a responsible and sustainable trip for you. Planning travel is their expertise, and they have the knowledge, time, and connections to do what you can’t.

The message is clear: Being sustainable and practicing responsible travel doesn’t require sacrifice. Traveling responsibly and sustainably can actually make travel that much more rewarding and memorable. Plus, how amazing it is that we each have the direct opportunity to make a positive impact on our world every single time we take a trip? Afterall, we’re guests in all the places we visit, and the only thing we should leave behind are footprints.

Step aboard the world’s greatest ships

Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.

A New Start with a New Ship: Sail the Eastern Mediterranean in June 2021

When immersive discovery is top of your mind, every other detail is top of ours. Even before you step aboard our ships, and well after you disembark, our enhanced all-inclusive offering provides complete peace of mind, as well as a special level of comfort that is a hallmark of the Silversea experience. Preempting even your most intangible need, our industry-leading service is simply unrivalled. The result is a curated lifestyle that leaves you free to relax, indulge, and discover, as you explore the world.


The Ship

Offering an abundance of space, yet maintaining the famous Silversea small-ship intimacy, Silver Moon is the ideal ship to begin cruising again. With eight dining options including the lauded S.A.L.T culinary program, fewer than 300 suites, an almost 1:1 crew to guest ratio and spacious outdoor areas, the all-inclusive Silver Moon gives ultra-luxury options while making sure that your safety is guaranteed.


Accommodations

Your very own private veranda spills out onto sweeping views of the ocean. As you come back in through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors, you’re welcomed by a refined atmosphere, ample living space and the finest of amenities. This is luxury that makes you feel right at home.


Dining

With S.A.L.T. you’ll connect deeply with the rich heritage of each and every destination. S.A.L.T. integrates food, culture and travel like never before, with amazing and immersive food and drink experiences.


Activities

Silver Moon features unique spaces such as our signature Arts Café, a place that blends the café experience with featured artworks that fill the space, and your soul. With an all-new open deck spa area and your choice of spacious all-suite accommodation, your time onboard will be just as fantastic as your days on land.


Family

Silversea is the perfect luxury cruise for multi-generational travel. Enjoy up to 75% savings on 3rd and 4th guests in a suite when traveling with kids 17 years old or younger.


Services

You’ll enjoy our world-renowned service throughout the ship as our staff pamper you and cater to your every whim. With Silversea cruises you enjoy free flowing premium wines and spirits, caviar on demand, delicious gourmet cuisine, in-suite dining, full butler service for every suite and of course all gratuities.