Spotlight on Get Your Bucket List on the Books

If you’re like us, the more you travel, the more places you add to your bucket list. It’s simple really – once the travel bug bites, there’s no looking back. And, with all that’s behind us, there’s no better place to look than forward. Even if you’re not ready to pack your bags just yet, why not take advantage of the lenient cancellation policies and book a trip you can look forward to? After all, with travel demand rising steadily, at least you won’t have to see the dreaded words “sold out.” 

A Warm Welcome from New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of diverse regions and landscapes that stretches across two main and several small offshore islands. From the subtropical and volcanic north, to the majestic Southern Alps, there’s something for everyone. A multicultural nation made up of vibrant and embracing cultures, Kiwis pride themselves in the warm welcome, or manaakitanga, travelers receive when visiting Aotearoa.

A Message from New Zealand

The above video is part of a recent Tourism New Zealand campaign in which Kiwis (New Zealanders) were asked “If you could encourage the world to do one thing, what would it be?” This video showcases every day, notable Kiwis showcasing our nation’s unique identity/perspective and what’s important to them.

People & Culture

New Zealand’s friendly and down-to-earth people will be one of the things you treasure most about your visit. With a patchwork history of Māori, European, Pacific Island and Asian cultures, New Zealand has become a melting-pot population with a shared passion for welcoming visitors.

Māori are the tangata whenua, the indigenous people, of New Zealand. They came here more than 1000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. Today, Māori make up 14% of our population and their history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity.

As a visitor to New Zealand, you can experience Māori culture by visiting a marae with an organized tour, watching a carving or weaving demonstration, or learning about fascinating myths and legends from passionate Māori guides.

Today, of the roughly 4.8 million New Zealanders (informally known as Kiwis), approximately 69% are of European descent, 14% are indigenous Māori, 9.2% are Asian, and 6.9% are non-Māori Pacific Islanders. Find out more about culture here.


Climate & Geography

Spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forest, volcanic plateau, miles of coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches – New Zealand has it all. One of the best things about visiting New Zealand is the variety of activities and landscapes you can pack into a relatively short visit (no place in New Zealand is more than 80 miles from the coast!). In New Zealand one journey leads to another.

The North Island of New Zealand has a 'spine' of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides. North of Auckland is the Bay of Islands, known by Kiwis as the ‘winterless north,’ an area famed for its white sand beaches, isolated coves, and hundreds of small offshore islands making it a sailing paradise. The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area, rich with Māori culture spoilt with dramatic scenery. 

The massive Southern Alps form the backbone of the South Island. To the east of the Southern Alps is the rolling farmland of Otago and Southland, and the vast, flat Canterbury Plains. Find out more about climate here.

‘Space Walk’ Series

The above video is what we at Tourism New Zealand call our ‘Space Walk’ Series. These are shot in first person and take the traveler on a series of immersive, exhilarating and education journeys throughout diverse location in New Zealand. These Space Walks are designed to inspire travelers by highlighting some of New Zealand’s greatest assets, so they can get a taste of what’s in store for them upon boarder opening, and secondly so they can virtually visit these experiences to determine what they plan to do once in New Zealand. To view more Space Walks, scroll to the bottom of the article and enjoy seven other unique experiences.

Food & Wine

Fresh and vibrant, New Zealand food and wine is some of the best in the world. Expect to indulge in plenty of seafood (like green-lipped mussels, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters, and fresh fish), award-winning cheeses and, of course, fabulous wine including Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc which made New Zealand famous. Discover local delicacies at any number of the bustling farmers markets around the country, get your caffeine fix at our sophisticated cafes, and visit one of many craft breweries. You should expect a laidback, friendly atmosphere wherever you eat; Kiwis love to keep things casual. Find out more about New Zealand’s food and wine offerings here.


Space Walks:

From meeting friendly locals, to getting out in nature exploring the range of national parks, to wining and dining in the country’s many restaurants and wineries, New Zealand is the perfect destination for your next vacation. Now is the perfect time to start planning what your New Zealand vacation will look like. Touch base with your Ensemble travel advisor to learn more.

For more information about New Zealand, visit https://www.newzealand.com/us/.


Image Credit: MarlboroughNZ

Book Your Bucket List - Visit Jordan

If you’re looking for a bucket list destination where you can easily combine adventure, culture, history, religion, off-the-beaten-path locations, and immersive experiences, then look no further. Omar Banihani, Marketing Manager for Jordan Tourism North America, gave us the inside scoop on Jordan and just how easy it is to get your bucket list on the books.

Q: What are the top three bucket list destinations and/or experiences that travelers should see/do while visiting Jordan?

Jordan has an abundance of riches. There is simply so much to do, see and experience in a relatively small country. 

Take for instance adventure travel. If you thirst for thrills in exotic places, you’ll be surprised what Jordan has to offer. Expand out of your comfort zone without sacrificing comfort, with a wealth of quality accommodations from Bedouin Camps in Wadi Rum to the Eco Lodge in Feynan.

Jordan is an elaborate mosaic of biblical history that dates back to the times of Genesis. Jordan is the home of Mount Nebo, where it is said Moses gazed upon the land he could not enter and was buried; Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River; Madaba, home of the oldest mosaic map of the Holy Land; and finally, Lot’s Cave, where Lot and his daughters sought refuge after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Spiritual or not, these places are significant as historical and cultural sites that should not be missed.

Experience history and culture literally everywhere. No trip to Jordan would be complete without visiting the ancient Nabataean city of Petra. This jewel of the Middle East is surrounded by imposing mountains and is approached through a deep, narrow cleft in the rocks known as the Siq. Petra is a unique and unforgettable place, an altogether overwhelming experience that you will never forget. Following a trip to Petra, be sure to head east of the capital city of Amman and visit Jordan’s Desert Castles. These castles showcase beautiful examples of both early Islamic art and architecture.

For many travelers, it’s all about the food, and Jordanian cuisine certainly offers a plethora of flavors and experiences. For instance, while in Petra, visit Beidha to see some ancient wine presses and learn about the significance of wine in Nabataean rituals. Then, travel along the King’s Highway to Karak, the heart of Jordan’s national meat dish, Mansaf. Learn the skill of making Jameed, dried yoghurt, an important ingredient that finishes the mansaf. Consider an overnight stay in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wadi Rum which is home to several Bedouin tribes. You’ll watch the sunset as you sip on some traditional Bedouin sweet tea and enjoy a Bedouin zarb for dinner. This hearty meal of marinated meat and chunks of vegetable dinner is literally baked in a pit lined with hot coals and covered by sand.

Q: What are some of the lesser-known, more off-the-beaten-path locations/experiences that most travelers don’t know about but should definitely visit/do?

The ancient town of As-Salt, thirty minutes outside of Amman, is the perfect place to explore the narrow streets, tour the museums, and visit an artisan school where you will see the traditional skills of ceramics, weaving, and silk screen printing.

Drive south towards the Ma’in Hot Springs, and along the way, make a quick stop for lunch in Madaba followed by a peek into the Church of St. George to get a glimpse of the most ancient mosaic map of the Holy Land. Then, continue east to the Ma’In Hot Spring Resort and Spa, lying 853-feet below sea level and set like an oasis in the dramatic terrain, defining the resort and spa experience in the Middle East. It is the perfect retreat to relax and be pampered whilst enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the Ma’In Hot Spring waterfalls.

Lastly, visit Iraq Al-Amir located within the hills, an area that has many springs and is famous for its olive trees. It was built by a Persian prince in the third century BC. There are many caves in the hills that date back to the Copper Age, as well as precious artifacts, pottery, glass, and weapons that date back to the Bronze Age and the Nabataean and Roman periods. Additionally, inscriptions, gold Islamic coins, and the silver Ptolemaic hoard recently discovered in Iraq Al-Amir are also displayed.

Q: Tell us more about Jordan’s Meaningful Travel Map.

We are so proud of Jordan’s Meaningful Map, and we know it is important to so many travelers who want to experience authentic local life. There are 12 social enterprises on the Meaningful Travel Map that was launched in partnership with Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization dedicated to the long-term survival of the travel and tourism industry, by inspiring each other to make travel a force for good. By offering unique and hands-on cultural experiences, each of these social enterprises is satisfying the demand from travelers seeking authentic sustainable experiences that make a difference, as well as their need to use the power of travel to help people and places thrive.

Take for instance the Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project. Here, you can try your hand at traditional weaving while boosting women’s rights simultaneously. Visitors can purchase rugs made in the traditional Jordanian heritage with a modern twist, with the added opportunity to eat and drink tasty homemade local food cooked by the women of the area.

The best part of all of this is that the money you spend stays within each of these individual communities. More information on Jordan’s Meaningful Travel Map can be found here.

Q: How can travelers visiting Jordan immerse themselves into the local culture?

They can certainly do so by visiting any of the social enterprises on The Meaningful Travel Map, but there are many more opportunities. For example, Feynan Ecolodge is located deep in the mountains of Dana Biosphere Reserve. Here, you will enter an enchanting world of authentic Bedouin hospitality. This lodge is hailed as one of the best 25 eco lodges in the world by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.

Set against the glorious desert backdrop, guests staying at the 26-room lodge can spend the day with a local shepherd grazing the family’s goats in the Feynan wilderness. This experience involves sharing lunch with the shepherd who will make traditional earthy ‘Arbood’ bread and sweet Bedouin tea. 

Additionally, guests can learn how to make Arabic coffee. This is an essential part of the traditions; the Bedouins serve it on almost every occasion including weddings, funerals, or simply family gathering in the evening. During this experience, travelers are taken through the musical experience of roasting the coffee beans, grinding them, and then boiling them. The Bedouin family also explains the etiquette of serving Arabic coffee and drinking it.

Q: For foodies visiting Jordan, what are three unique Jordanian foods they should try?

Only three? This is so hard!

I’d start by highly recommending you walk the streets of downtown Amman. Here, you will taste the various street foods alongside the locals, including fresh fruit cocktails, Shawarma, Falafel, and Knafeh.

Knafeh, a middle eastern sweet cheese pastry, is not to be missed! It is a delicious and rich treat, made with unripen cheese that's baked in shredded phyllo dough before being soaked in simple syrup.

Mansaf is considered the national dish of Jordan. Traditionally, this dish is served on a large platter meant for communal eating. It is made of tender meat, layered with a paper-thin flatbread called Shrak, cooked in a sauce of dried yogurt, and served with rice.

Of course, Falafel must be on the list. Falafel can be eaten at breakfast and as a late-night snack. These balls are often stuffed into warm pita bread for a quick sandwich. Amman’s legendary Hashem Restaurant is where you should try Falafel. Here, they are plated with bundles of fresh mint, raw onion, and tomatoes, and served alongside piles of flatbread fresh from the oven.

Q: How has Jordan adapted its tourism protocols in response to the pandemic?

Jordan is proud to be recognized by the World Travel & Tourism Council as a country that has adopted global standardized protocols for health and hygiene. Our lockdown actions were swift in the beginning, and we attribute this decisive action to the reopening of our country. 

Our priority was to put in place Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) infographics that outline the visitor journey. Each stage of travel in Jordan, including pre-departure, arrival, ground transportation, accommodations, and site protocols, are mapped out for the traveler and travel advisor’s ease. 

Additionally, we update our website’s COVID-19 information page on an ongoing basis with the most current information. We advise travelers to check this page regularly when planning travel to Jordan.

Most of all, we are so happy to announce Jordan is OPEN for tourism! We look forward to welcoming you and being able to say "Ahlan Wa Sahlan!” – Welcome to Jordan.

Q: BONUS: What does the ideal Jordan trip look like for first-time Jordan visitors?

There are limitless itinerary options available for travel in Jordan, but for a first timer, here is an itinerary I would recommend:

Day One – Amman
Arrive in Amman and transfer to your hotel. If you arrive early enough in the day, consider an Amman City Tour where you will explore the old city of Amman, the Citadel, and the Roman Theatre.

Day Two – Desert Castles
Fine mosaics, frescoes, stone and stucco carvings, and illustrations, inspired by the best in Persian and Greco-Roman tradition, tell countless stories of life as it was during the eighth century. Several of these preserved Castles, all of which are clustered to the east and south of Amman, can be visited on one-day or two-day loops from Amman. Don’t miss out on visiting Quseir Amra, one of Jordan’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

Head back to your hotel to freshen up for an evening of wine-tasting at The Winemaker or JR The Wine Experience where you will sample and learn how some of Jordan’s finest wines are made.

Day Three – As-Salt and Iraq Al-Amir
Just thirty minutes outside of Amman, visit As-Salt, an ancient town that was once the most important settlement in the area between the Jordan Valley and the Eastern Desert. Because of its history as an important trading link, it was a significant place for the region’s many rulers. 

Then, as you head back to Amman, visit Iraq Al-Amir located within the hills. The area has many springs and is famous for its olive trees, in addition to other forest trees. It was built by a Persian prince in the third century BC. There are many caves in the hills that date back to the Copper Age. Precious artifacts, pottery, glass and weapons date back to the Bronze Age and the Nabataean and Roman periods, and gold Islamic coins and the silver Ptolemaic hoard recently discovered at Iraq Al-Amir are displayed at the Exhibition of Arab Heritage and Recent Discoveries, which was opened in 1992.

Day Four – Jerash
Your day will begin traveling north to the ancient city of Jerash, “The Crossroads of Civilizations,'' remarkable for its unbroken chain of human occupation. Here, in the hills of Gilead, you will find remains from Neolithic times, as well as Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad civilizations.

Day Five – Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Mount Nebo, and Madaba
The Baptism site is located just east of the Jordan River – “Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Where John Baptized Jesus Christ.” Bethany Beyond the Jordan has emerged as a major new destination not only for religious pilgrims but for tourists from around the world.

Following your visit to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, head to “Mount Nebo, Where Moses Saw the Holy Land”. Sixty years of excavation on the hilltop of Mount Nebo, where Moses viewed the Holy Land and is said to be buried, reveals a basilica church with one of the most magnificent mosaic floors in the world. From the platform in front of the church, you will have an inspiring, breath-taking view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the rooftops of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. You will see what Moses saw.

After Mount Nebo, head to Madaba, “The City of Mosaics,” which was once a Byzantine community and one of the most important Christian communities east of the Jordan River. Today, it harbors a collection of extraordinary mosaics. First, enjoy a delectable lunch at Haret Jdoudna in the heart of the city. Following lunch, visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George which features a vivid sixth-century Byzantine mosaic map showing Jerusalem and other holy sites.

Day Six – Karak, Shobak Castle, and Petra By Night
On the way to Petra, make a quick stop at the ancient crusader city of Karak, dominated by the castle built by Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1142 AD, which greatly impressed Lawrence of Arabia on his study tour in 1909. He spent many days exploring tunnels and dungeons and sketching the castle. Enjoy exploring this maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways, and make sure to bring a flashlight with you. If time permits, check out Shobak Castle, another reminder of former Crusader glory, less than an hour north of Petra. Once called "Mont Real,” Shobak dates from the same turbulent period as Karak, perched on the side of a mountain, with a grand sweep of fruit trees below.

Visit Petra by candlelight on the night of your arrival. The Petra Night Show is a magical way to see part of the rock city and explore the old city, which has become a world wonder. This incomparable experience starts by walking the entire Siq to the Treasury, lit with over 1,500 candles. This is a major attraction due to the spectacular view it has.

Petra by Night runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week.

Day Seven – Wadi Rum
No trip to Jordan is complete without a visit to the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wadi Rum. This extraordinary desert landscape is where Lawrence of Arabia operated throughout 1917 and launched the strike on Aqaba. Venture off the beaten path in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Explore the desert and see the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” up close. Wadi Rum is indeed a foreign world, so make sure to take in the stars at night as you lay by a campfire outside your Bedouin tent, but only after tasting the best cuisine of Wadi Rum, Zarb, which is cooked in the ground! Lastly, tea at sunset in the middle of the desert is really a MUST!

Day Eight – Aqaba
The Red Sea and its surrounding pink mountains are truly one of nature’s most breathtaking sites. Enjoy a lunch cruise on the Red Sea, and make sure to enjoy one of the many water sport options offered. One of the most beautiful attractions in Aqaba is the untouched coral reefs. Scuba dive through the shipwreck or snorkel in one of the reserves. Sunbathe at your leisure and spend the evening walking and exploring downtown Aqaba. Go shopping in the souq, then stop for tea/coffee and chat with locals at a local coffee shop. Make sure to try Jordan’s famous fish dish, Sayadeyeh.

Day Nine & Ten – Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth at 1,312 ft. (400 meters) below sea level. The curative properties of the Dead Sea have been recognized since the days of Queen Cleopatra. A series of good roads, excellent hotels with spa and fitness facilities, as well as archaeological and spiritual discoveries make this region as enticing to today’s international visitors as it was to kings, emperors, traders, prophets, and pilgrims in antiquity.

Enjoy a relaxing day and treat yourselves to a soothing massage, or try the renowned healing powers of the minerals right from the sea’s muddy floor. Book a beautiful sunset dinner at the Dead Sea Panorama Complex that sports an indoor dining area and an outdoor dining terrace where you will enjoy the dazzling views of the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains at every turn.

Lastly, make sure to check out the exhibition at the Dead Sea Museum, located within the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex, which covers all aspects of the Dead Sea including its geological, ecological, archaeological, and historical origins, as well as the future conservation of the Dead Sea.

Day Eleven – Transfer back to Amman to the Airport for Departure


Image Credit: Jordan Tourism Board

8 World Cruises You Won't Want to Miss

After long months of lockdown, you might be feeling an urge to start traveling the world again. But if you’re like us, you probably have a hard time choosing which destination to explore first. But why choose at all? A cruise around the world might be the once-in-a-lifetime experience you need to treat yourself and check many of the world’s most beautiful destinations off your bucket list in a single extended trip. And, with revenge travel emerging and limited availability, now may be just the right time to book your 2023 or 2024 world cruise before they start selling out (yes, some already are!). Here are eight of the best world cruises to make your post-pandemic dream trip a reality.

1  |  Holland America Line’s 2023 Grand World Voyage

World cruises give you longer itineraries so you truly connect with each place. Every Holland America Line world cruise itinerary is carefully crafted with a range of destinations, from bustling capitals to seldom-visited jewels. The discovery continues onboard with an enhanced enrichment program. While you’re sailing to your next destination, you can learn new brush strokes with artists in residence or attend live cooking demonstrations. Each day on your cruise will be a brand-new adventure. Circle the globe on an ambitious, immersive expedition where you’ll explore the cascading waterfalls of Eidfjord, Isle of Skye’s glens and gullies, wildlife-filled Hobart, and the idyllic shores of Durban, South Africa on overnights. One word encapsulates this around the world cruise: transformative.

Image Credit: Holland America Line

2  |  Cunard’s Centenary World Voyage 2023

Queen Mary 2® will call at 31 ports in 18 countries in 2023, on a 117-night round-trip Centenary World Voyage from New York, with in-depth explorations of Australia, Asia and Africa. Discover ancient civilizations in Egypt and cities less than a century old in the United Arab Emirates. See rhinos and elephants on a wildlife reserve from Port Elizabeth, or savor the iconic design of Sydney’s opera house on a visit to New South Wales’ cosmopolitan capital. Overnight port calls in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Cape Town are complemented by late evening departures from Safaga, Colombo, Sydney and Port Elizabeth, while stops in Mauritius, Reunion and Airlie Beach bring salt-white sands, gently swaying palms, and spellbinding blue seas.

Image Credit: Cunard Line

3  |  Seabourn’s 2023 World Cruise: Extraordinary Discoveries

In January 2023, Seabourn Sojourn will depart Miami for a once-in-a-lifetime, 140-day voyage. She will sail across three great oceans exploring 61 fascinating ports in 32 countries. Enjoy more time ashore with ten overnight stays in Easter Island, Bali, Tahiti, Cape Town and more. Two nights in Mombasa provide the opportunity for optional two- or three-day mid-voyage Seabourn Journeys to world-famous game parks.

Image Credit: Seabourn Cruise Line

4  |  Crystal Cruises’  Wild Kingdoms & Exotic Discoveries 2023

From idyllic discoveries in Tahiti, Seychelles and the Maldives, to Papua New Guinea’s eco-diversities and Africa’s Big Five safaris, Crystal Cruises’ 28th annual World Cruise is an epic odyssey exploring kingdoms both ancient and wild, landscapes both iconic and secluded, and monuments both natural and manmade. The cruise line’s 2023 World Cruise begins in Miami on January 11th. Guests have the option of disembarking in Athens, Venice or Barcelona for the full 140 nights. Fine wines, premium spirits, champagne, specialty coffees, private town car transfers to and from the ship on embarkation and debarkation days, a robust enrichment program including culinary experiences and celebrity entertainment and more also complement your experience on board and on shore.

Image Credit: Crystal Cruises

5  |  Viking’s 2023-2024 World Cruise

Set sail onboard Viking Neptune as she traverses the globe from Fort Lauderdale on a 138-day journey. During this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you’ll get a chance to explore the world’s most majestic cities, immerse yourself in local cultures during overnight stays in 11 ports, and discover the idyllic isles and the faraway lands of the South Pacific, as well as the colonial treasures of Asia. From the Arabian Peninsula to the Red Sea, witness several millennia of history and revel in the romance of Paris before arriving in London, England’s iconic capital.

Image Credit: Viking Cruises

6  |  Princess Cruises’ 111-Day 2023 World Cruise

With carefully crafted itineraries to the most sought-after destinations, Princess Cruises – the cruise line voted “Best Cruise Itineraries” 12 times by Recommend Magazine – will guide you through your travel bucket list better than you can ever imagine. When embarking on a Princess World Cruise, you’ll experience the globe’s marquis ports and hidden gems, and explore the far corners of the world without the hassle of airport travel, constant unpacking, and expensive meals. On this 111-day world cruise from Fort Lauderdale, you’ll enjoy top destinations on six continents while sailing through the equator twice. Ten More Ashore late-night calls make for more exploration before a return to Florida. Plus, a MedallionClass® vacation offers the ultimate in effortless, personalized cruising so you can explore your destinations easily and enjoy more time to connect with the places you sail.

Image Credit: Princess Cruises

7  |  Silversea’s Far East – West, Broaden Your Horizons 2024

How far will you go to broaden your horizons? Silversea’s 2024 World Cruise is a journey that will push your travel boundaries farther than ever before. This 132-night voyage explores our planet’s most extraordinary destinations, weaving a story of Pacific heritage as it unfolds. On this cruise, you’ll learn how east and west have fused together for millennia through their changing customs, cuisines and cultures. This is a voyage for those who want to experience the very extremes of the planet. It’s time to get out there and go beyond what you thought possible. It’s time to broaden your horizons.

Image Credit: Silversea Cruises

8  |  Oceania’s 2023 Around the World in 180 Days

The ultimate port collector’s treasure, this journey is the fulfillment of an epic travel dream: circumnavigating the globe on the voyage of a lifetime. From exotic cities and coastal villages to soaring mountains and breathtaking islands, the many facets of this globe-roaming masterpiece will intrigue even the most seasoned travelers. On an eastward route, Insignia’s course weaves together an exotic tapestry of South America, Africa, the United Arab Emirates, India, East and Southeast Asia, Alaska and even Antarctica’s pristine islands and bays. The voyage opens along the golden Pacific Riviera before exploring top South American wonders. Across the Atlantic, Insignia charts Africa’s beguiling coastline and the Arabian Peninsula before exploring desirable Indian Ocean destinations. Further east, off-the-beaten-path adventures come to life in ports across Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and beyond. As a memorable finale, Insignia sails the legendary Bering Sea, illuminating the breadth of Alaska from the Aleutian Islands to the Inside Passage.

Image Credit: Oceania Cruises


One-of-a-Kind Stays

In a bold quest to find the most impressive places to spend the night, an increasing number of travelers have checked into a range of rare and wonderful accommodations in remote and exciting locations all over the world.

Lofty Pursuits

Sitting directly above turquoise blue, crystal-clear waters (with a magnificent view worth the trip itself) are the Intercontinental® Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa bungalows. As French Polynesia’s first resort with all over-water villas and an over-water wedding chapel, the resort sets the standard for a Polynesian bungalow experience. Wake up each morning with breakfast delivered by canoe, and enjoy a truly unique five-star experience day after day.

Our favorite tree dwellings are the Treehouses at Lion Sands Game Reserve which are distinguished as a “million-star experience” because you quite literally sleep in a tree beneath the stars. Also up in the sky are the Hanging Gardens of Bali featuring airy villas and a two-tiered pool overlooking a vast expanse of lush jungle. In Scandinavia, Finland’s Arctic Treehouse Hotel features luxurious glass houses on a wooded slope, while Sweden’s Treehotel takes the glass theme to new levels with the mesmerizing, fort-like Mirrorcube.

Image Credit: Intercontinental® Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa


Built-in View

Voted one of the seven resorts with the most spectacular views in the world by CNN Travel, The Springs Resort & Spa in La Fortuna, Costa Rica is where the word “vacation” is truly defined. Whether traveling as a family, couple, or group, guests will be overwhelmed in every aspect of quality, service and design.

Image Credit: The Springs Resort & Spa

For those who truly wish to be one with the landscape, the Canaves Oia Hotel & Suites, located in Santorini, is carved into the cliffs of the isle’s northwestern tip – overlooking Oia Santorini’s stunning Caldera and the beautiful turquoise Aegean Sea; and the Adrere Amellal Ecolodge, in Egypt’s Western Desert, feels primitive and luxurious all at once. But, not to miss is Italy’s Grotta Palazzese hotel perched on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea – a study in contrasts with crisp, clean, modern suites above elegant dining in a rugged stone cave below.

Image Credit: Canaves Oia Santorini


Outdoor Envy

Situated on the banks of the river from which it has taken its name, Elewana Sand River Masai Mara replicates the 1920s era of exclusive tented camps. Located within Kenya’s picturesque Masai Mara National Reserve on the Tanzania border, the hotel is optimal for those wishing to enjoy exceptional big-game viewing.

Image Credit: Elewana Sand River Masai Mara

Similarly, the Gran Meliá Iguazú in Argentina is the only hotel in the world within Iguazú National Park, and it stands beside one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Iguazú Falls. All 183 rooms and suites feature terraces overlooking either the jungle or “Devil’s Throat” – a view you can also enjoy from the incredible 55-yard infinity pool.

Under Canvas® travelers are also reconnecting with the outdoors in safari-inspired glamps across the United States. Word is, the acoustic campfire music at the outfit’s Great Smoky Mountains camp in Tennessee is worth the journey alone. Meanwhile, for bubble enthusiasts, the Finolhu Beach Bubble Tent on Baa Atoll in the Maldives and the Buubble hotel in Iceland, also called the “5 Million Star Hotel,” will make anyone’s Pinterest dreams come true.

Image Credit: Gran Meliá Iguazú


We’re So Cool

Just a little over 45 minutes from Banff lies Fairmont Château Lake Louise, a destination among a destination. This Rocky Mountain retreat is a year-round sanctuary nestled among soaring mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier, and a glistening emerald lake. Take advantage of the glorious natural surroundings by canoeing and hiking in the summer, or by skiing and ice skating on Lake Louise in the winter to truly embrace your “cool.”

Looking for someplace to ogle the Northern Lights? The Ice Hotel in the Swedish Lapland village of Jukkasjarvi is an established favorite. This one-of-a-kind hotel features both warm and cold room accommodations and changing ice art exhibitions. Other equally thrilling options include Iglu-Dorf in Zermatt, Switzerland, the magical Kaksluauttanen Arctic Resort inside the Arctic Circle in Finland, and Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in the northernmost region of Norway.

Image Credit: Fairmont Château Lake Louise


Don’t Mind if I Do

The only property in the Caribbean with Palace distinction, we won’t have to twist your arm to visit Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France. Echoing French refinement in a glamorous ambience, the hotel features French designer, Jacques Grange’s new architectural concept. However, perhaps what the property does best is celebrate the art of living in the tropics by providing culinary and cultural journeys in a renowned way. 

Lastly, Giraffe Manor, from The Safari Collection, is a boutique hotel just outside Nairobi, Kenya, which is popular among a herd of wild Rothschild’s giraffe. The elegant and amiable creatures visit at dawn and dusk, often peeking in the windows to receive treats. For extra bragging rights, ask for the Karen Blixen suite, named for the author of Out of Africa.

Whether you’re craving star-struck nights in the desert, stunning sunrises over the sea, softly falling snow, dense rainforests, or all of the above, if you look hard enough, you’ll find the world is full of unique places to lay your head. Which will you visit first?

Image Credit: Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France


Main Image Credit: Intercontinental® Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

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.

THRILL. CHILL. ENCORE.

Experience the thrill of cruising on Norwegian Encore to Alaska and The Caribbean. Repeat amazing moments on our newest, most incredible ship, Norwegian Encore – custom-built for “Again! Again!” Take one more victory lap on the Encore Speedway, suspending 13 feet over the side of the ship. Sing along during the Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical Kinky Boots with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. Uncork another bottle of Cabernet as you indulge in modern Italian cuisine at Onda by Scarpetta. And lose yourself in a virtual world at Galaxy Pavilion. Do all this and so much more on Norwegian Encore.

Imagine cruising just the way you want it: with no schedule to follow but your own. That is the freedom Norwegian Cruise Line provides on all our ships and itineraries. You can indulge your taste buds at one of our wide-ranging dining options where you can savor a three-course meal and a great bottle of wine. Or grab a burger hot off the grill. Dress up. Dress down. Sit down with friends or make new ones. Thanks to the flexibility of no fixed dining times or pre-assigned seating, you have the freedom to enjoy more dining options than days of your cruise. Looking to be entertained? Bask in the bright lights of Broadway with performances like Kinky Boots, a six-time Tony Award® winner and exclusively at sea aboard Norwegian; fan-favorite Jersey Boys or Footloose. Spend every day discovering award-winning entertainment that’s beyond anything at sea. And, with some of the newest ships in the industry, Norwegian Cruise Line currently boasts the youngest fleet among major North American cruise lines. Thanks to a wide range of revolutionary features, in addition to a number of new spaces and interactive experiences meant to excite and inspire, you’re guaranteed a vacation like no other.


The Ship

Norwegian Encore was named Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 2020 Editor’s Pick, Best New Ship and our newest, most incredible ship ever deserves every accolade! Tailor-made for “Again! Again!” you can island hop through paradise in The Caribbean or explore more of the Last Frontier on a ship built for non-stop memorable moments. You can whip around the Encore Speedway suspended 13 feet over the side of the ship on the largest racetrack at sea. Or discover the secrets of the past in the resurrected lost city of Atlantis, where laser tag meets augmented reality. Try something new and step into the Galaxy Pavilion where a virtual world unlike anything you’ve ever seen awaits. Head up to the top deck and keep the thrills coming with two multi-story waterslides, Aqua Racer – our tandem waterslide or whoosh over the side of the ship on the double loop, Ocean Loops. The kids even have their own Aqua Park just for them. After working up an appetite, you’ll find more dining options than days of your cruise. From complimentary dining to specialty dining, there is something for every palate. Then let the cocktails and conversations flow at one of the dozens of bars and lounges. Don’t miss the breathtaking views from the 180-degree Observation Lounge and live it up in the heart of the ship at 678 Ocean Place – one space that connects three incredible decks of bars, restaurants, casino gaming, shopping and entertainment. And speaking of entertainment, raise the roof at our spectacular shows: winner of six Tony Awards®, Kinky Boots is a must-see, or sing along to classic rock hits at The Choir of Man. Then, when it comes to settling in for the night Norwegian offers a wide range of contemporary and comfortable accommodations designed for every traveler from the luxury of The Haven by Norwegian to Studios for solo travelers, we have everyone covered. These are just some of the many reasons why Norwegian Encore was named Best New Ship. Come aboard and discover for yourself.


Accommodations

Live it Up as You Wind Down
Norwegian offers a wide a range of accommodations including The Haven by Norwegian®, our most luxurious and well-appointed accommodations. Not only do guests have access to all the ship has to offer, but they will also enjoy the personal service of a 24-hour butler and concierge throughout their entire stay. For guests looking for a pampering spa experience, they can opt for Norwegian's serene and rejuvenating Spa Suites, with access to the Mandara Spa and complimentary use of the thermal suites, sauna, hydrotherapy pools, steam room and heated loungers. With ever-changing views from a private balcony, Club Balcony Suites and Balcony Staterooms offer guests a new perspective almost every day, and feature comfy sitting areas, convertible and/or drop-down beds and plenty of storage space. Oceanview and Inside Staterooms let guests relax, embrace their personal space and get back to the action. For guests travelling solo, Norwegian's Studio Staterooms are an industry-first, providing solo cruisers the most affordable, stylish way to cruise. These award-winning staterooms feature vivid, contemporary décor and mood lighting. Studio guests also have access to their own private Studio Lounge, open morning and night, so Studio guests can meet up, make plans for their trip and be social. Wherever you decide to unwind, there’s a choice that is right for you. So, open your sliding glass door, feel the fresh ocean breezes and watch the world unfold before you.


Dining

Extraordinary Dining: Feel Free to Ask for Seconds
Each of our venues, including the all-new Onda by Scarpetta, provides its own unique experience of flavors and cuisines from around the world and every dish has been crafted to tantalize your taste buds with the freshest, highest quality ingredients. Explore our wide selection of specialty and complimentary dining options. Serving a wide variety of culinary delights to please every palate, our complimentary dining options include three main dining rooms, a variety of casual cafes, buffets, grills and on-the-go choices. Plus, our Main Dining Rooms offer a menu that changes daily, Chef’s Signature Dishes and carefully selected wine recommendations, guaranteeing a different culinary adventure with every visit. Our specialty restaurants will fulfill your current craving or expand your palate. At American Diner, the juiciest burgers and crispiest fried chicken will redefine your favorite comfort food. Authentic al-dente Italian at Onda by Scarpetta will make you feel like you’re at a Tuscan trattoria. Seafood is the star at Ocean Blue with dishes created from the freshest fish and finest ingredients. Travel somewhere new with every bite at Food Republic featuring a fusion of foods and cultures from around the world. The sizzles and surprises never cease at our authentic Japanese restaurant, Teppanyaki. Los Lobos is a premium Mexican restaurant celebrating traditional flavors with a modern twist. Romance is in the air at our signature French restaurant Le Bistro. And whether it’s smokey Texas-style ribs or succulent filet mignon, Q and Cagney’s both have you covered. With so many options, you’ll come back and never have the same thing twice.


Activities

Jaw-Dropping Cruise Activities
Cutting-edge technology and daring new thrills take cruising to a whole new level. Watch the ocean blur by as you zoom around curves suspended 13 feet over the side of the ship on the Encore Speedway, the largest racetrack at sea. Bring the secrets of the past to life in the lost city of Atlantis, where laser tag meets augmented reality. Ready for an immersive experience of a whole other level? Step into the high-tech, virtual world of the Galaxy Pavilion. Slide into the time of your life. With two multistory waterslides on board, Norwegian Encore keeps the thrills coming. Make it the best of three on Aqua Racer, our tandem waterslide at sea. And then get a thrill as you whoosh over the side of the ship on the double loop, Ocean Loops. Or call it a lazy day and lounge by the pool with a frozen drink in hand. However you like to make a splash, the Aqua Park is overflowing with excitement. Or you can test Lady Luck in our award-winning casino. There are plenty of thrilling casino games for every type of player, whether you’re a beginner or regular at the poker table. Find your lucky seat at one of our many slot machines and in our non-smoking area. Or play in the big leagues with any number of table games. No matter what you prefer, there’s always a way for you to get lucky. For those looking to stay fit on vacation, it has never been easier at our state-of-the-art fitness center. Feel the burn in a high-intensity RYDE cycling class. Strengthen and tone during a Pure Form Pilates session. Or seek inner peace with ocean view yoga or guided meditation classes. After your workout, there are plenty of ways to be pampered. Unwind in the Thermal Suite with a steam or a dip in the Vitality Pool. Check out the Salt Room and chill out in our Snow Room. Or simply indulge in a hot-stone massage. Treat yourself. You deserve it. All this and more is waiting for you aboard Norwegian Encore.


Family

We know a place where kids can be kids, adults can be adults and families can get even closer. A cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line offers something for everyone. Head up to the top deck and whoosh down a thrilling waterslide, test your skills on the racetrack, or bring the whole crew and battle it out together in an immersive gameplay experience during Dark Ride 7D in the Galaxy Pavilion. Be sure to check out Norwegian’s complimentary youth programs. Splash Academy for ages 3 – 12 offers age-specific tons of fun including arts & crafts, circus workshops, treasure hunts, games and more. Teens will find a hangout filled with video games, movies, sports and the coolest lounge at sea. And for those families that like to play together, how about a family-fun challenge, where the winner picks dinner? And speaking of dinner… Our ships offer Freestyle Dining, where guests have the freedom to dine when and where they want. With a wide range of complimentary and specialty restaurants there are more dining options than day of your cruise. Devour a Cheeseburger poolside. Indulge in seafood inspired cuisine at Bayamo, find the perfect steak at Cagney’s and the sizzles and surprises never cease at our family –favorite Japanese hibachi Teppanyaki. Families can sit down to a four-course meal at the Main Dining Room. Or indulge at a specialty restaurant where kids 12 and under can enjoy our complimentary kids’ menu. Unfold your napkin and enjoy. Nighttime heats up with Norwegian. When it comes to entertainment aboard our ships, the award-winning shows go on and on. From Broadway musicals to live music to hilarious comedy clubs it’s show time – all the time. Or, parents can run off and play in the Casino or enjoy a quiet date night while knowing their kids and teens are in a safe and supervised environment thanks to our complimentary youth programs. 

And, when it is time to wind down, our flexible accommodations feature a world of comfort. What’s better than a bedtime story under the stars on your private balcony? Stay connected with adjoining staterooms. Our Family Suites are a hop, skip and jump away from Splash Academy. Or how about a luxurious suite in The Haven where there is room for everyone? Wherever you choose to unwind, Norwegian has you covered. So, come aboard and discover what it is like to Feel Free and see why families play better together with Norwegian.


Services

From the moment you step on board one of Norwegian’s award-winning ships you are free, free to do what you want when you want. And our entire crew is there to make sure you are very well taken care of. However, if you are looking for the ultimate cruising experience where your every whim will be taken care of before you even ask, then The Haven by Norwegian is for you. Hidden away at the top of the ship, this exclusive enclave accessible by private keycard features our most luxurious and well-appointed accommodations. You can bask in tranquility in The Haven Courtyard with a private pool and sun deck. Indulge in the unparalleled personal service of a 24-hour certified butler and concierge, who will make all your arrangements on board and on shore, so you can focus on spending quality time with loved ones. Best of all, you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds, as you’re just steps away from an array of unique culinary experiences, spectacular entertainment and the exciting activities Norwegian has to offer. From embarkation to debarkation boarding of tenders to shore, onboard entertainment to dining times you will have the priority. In your own ship within a ship, The Haven will make a unique experience you will never forget.