Spotlight on Pursuit of Privacy

In the past, exploring the world and checking off our bucket lists often came coupled with crowds, lines and so called “tourist traps.” We were focused on the Instagram moments, the photo opportunities, and “keeping up with the Joneses,” but we were missing the mark. With a renewed focus on privacy and socially distanced experiences, the opportunities are endless. Whether exploring remote locations, discovering off-the-beaten-path natural wonders, or revisiting our favorite destinations in a completely new way, a newfound intimacy awaits us. 

Adventure Begins at the Edge of the World

Antarctica. Even just saying it sounds adventurous. The surreal remoteness. The absolute beauty. The myriad of wildlife. The ice. The snow (the miles and miles of snow and ice). And yes, the Drake Passage. A rite of passage for those who really want to travel to the seventh continent; the Drake Passage proves that you need to earn the right to go to Antarctica. And for those who travel with passion, this is the only destination on the planet that will suffice.

Meeting the personal challenge of reaching Earth’s last wilderness doesn’t necessarily mean roughing it. Silversea’s polished luxury offers even the most intrepid of explorers’ home comforts, whether it’s onboard or onshore. Think guided Zodiac tours with world-class experts, 10-night sailings that include expedition adventures to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands and award-winning luxury from stem to stern. With both comfort and authenticity on the map, isn’t it time you fell in love with Antarctica?

The pursuit of the unknown reaches an epic level north of the Arctic Circle — all among the captivating cacophony of Svalbard’s calving glaciers, walruses feasting on Atlantic oysters, and the Viking legends pervading the shores of Greenland. There is a reason why this is one of the most successful destinations. Venture beyond the unknown and explore the beating heart of the Arctic. Journey in supreme comfort to the very top of the world and discover so much more than just Polar Bears and midnight sun. Enthusiastic and expert Expedition Team Members keep you in the know while immersive local culture keeps you on the go. Inspirational, aspirational, and educational – champagne on ice will never seem the same again.

Adventure Begins at the Edge of the World

Silversea Expeditions takes you to the edge of the world with all the comforts you love. Aided by a team of world-class experts, the ultra-luxury ships are modern gems of design, excelling in both fine living and exploration. The small ship cruises offer comfort, unrivalled expedition knowledge, and some of the most spectacular landscape you’re ever likely to see. That could mean scanning the horizon for Polar Bears, taking a Zodiac cruise to access an Inuit community, or learning how to take the perfect iceberg photo. With Silversea, you will be kayaking the glacial Arctic seas by day, and dining in superlative luxury by night.

The extensive coverage of the region offers a variety of itineraries and lengths. From a full circumnavigation of Svalbard to crossing the Northwest Passage, there is very little of the region we don’t cover. Your Arctic adventure starts here.

Set sail for the world’s most all-inclusive voyage to the Arctic: complimentary in-country flights, transfers, pre-cruise hotel, shore experience plus much, much more. Silversea is the only real choice when it comes to Arctic luxury cruises.

So, let’s get ready to explore the Arctic – we’ve got the details taken care of. You only need to pack your bags.

Main image credit: Silversea guest taking a photo of the Silver Cloud and Aappilattoq_ Voyage 1919 Reykjavik to Kangerlussaq on board Silver Cloud 2019 by Pablo Bianco

Pursuing Privacy with CIE Tours

2021 is set to be an interesting year with so many of us wanting to travel amidst the uncertainty that still exists. Yet, one thing is certain, privacy will be at the forefront of travel experiences. We caught up with Jeanette Mahnken, Director of Group Sales Operations at CIE Tours, to learn what their company is doing to provide new, yet still exceptional, experiences.

Q: Tell us a bit about CIE and the company’s tour offerings.

In 1932, we created a company dedicated to introducing people to the beauty and magic of Ireland and Britain. Today we’re proud to bring more North Americans to those destinations each year than any other tour operator - and with a 95% customer satisfaction rating.

While we are best known for scheduled tours, we also have tremendously popular Groups and Custom Private Driver options.

Plus, in 2021, as a response to the greater demand for private touring options, we now offer 17 different classic pre-set Ireland itineraries in a private vehicle with your own driver or as a self-drive option. For those looking for more flexibility, we continue to offer Travelers Choice, our “go-as-you-please” (a la carte) self-drive option.

Q: How has CIE incorporated comfort, safety, and social distancing into its tour options?

Full statement from COO:

As the leader in Ireland and Britain and one of the longest-standing tour operators in North America, we have instituted comprehensive health and safety standards to put our guests’ wellbeing first. In conjunction with the leading tourism authorities, we are set to operate at the highest levels of health and safety guidelines in the US and Europe, including regional and national standards for COVID-19 procedures.

Also, as mentioned above, we have a variety of independent travel options – Private Driver, Classic Itineraries with Driver or Self-Drive, Travelers Choice Self-Drive and Private Groups - for those that prefer privacy over the camaraderie of a tour. For those that love the energy of a group tour, we have also dramatically expanded our small group departure schedule.

Q: For travelers looking to explore more secluded and natural destinations, what types of tours does CIE offer?

With private driver or custom group travel, the possibilities are endless. Our knowledgeable specialists are eager and happy to help build the perfect itinerary built around our guests’ passions, interests, and budget. Whether you are an adventurer, foodie, historical enthusiast, or want to walk in the footsteps of your past generations, we can plan your dream trip.

Q: What are some unique ways CIE allows travelers to revisit their favorite destinations but with newfound space and privacy?

Either with a private driver or on a private tour, revisiting destinations with one of our local guides is the absolute best way to experience somewhere you thought you knew, but in a completely new way. Our guides’ deep knowledge goes well beyond history and storytelling (although that is also wildly entertaining). They know the best times to visit attractions, have the best tips to enhance your experience and often insider access to take you to places that you may have previously considered too crowded to thoroughly enjoy.

Q: How have CIE’s offerings changed in response to the pandemic?

Published statement:

2021 is such an interesting year. We all want to travel, yet there is so much uncertainty.

You can book confidently with CIE Tours knowing that you can change your 2021 plans up to 30 days before departure for future travel to any of our other destinations and itineraries through 2022.

With Custom Private Driver vacations, you have the flexibility to move or adjust your trip up to 45 days prior to departure. For custom groups of 10 or more, we offer flexibility of fully refundable deposits until 100 days prior to departure.

Q: For travelers looking to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and stray away from crowds, if you could recommend one CIE trip, which would you recommend?

For an exclusively off-the-beaten path vacation, we recommend building a custom travel experience with our specialists. Locations, seasonality, and even the time of day you visit an attraction can make such a difference. We will guide you through the process to ensure you get the most out of your trip – and don’t compromise by ruling out attractions that could give you the privacy you want if you just knew the right time and day to visit or had insider access.

Q: BONUS: What makes a CIE vacation unique?

There are so many things! But I’ll give you my top three…

First, our team’s passion for delivering the ultimate travel experience. Our tour directors are the best of the best, truly our heart and soul. All are local to the destination they tour, and most have been with us for many years. Our local teams in Ireland and Britain work tirelessly to craft and deliver top-notch travel experiences at the best value regardless of your budget. If you choose a custom experience, you also have a highly trained and experienced US-based team to help you build your dream trip.

Second, as part of the communities where we tour, we have deep and long-lasting relationships with the hotels, restaurants, and attractions we visit. Often, we have exclusive opportunities that no one else has because of these are our neighbors.

Third, our All-In Inclusive Advantage guarantees that, when you travel with us, you spend every moment in the moment – not worrying about fees and options. On our guided tours, your accommodations, transportation, sightseeing, entertainment, and most meals come included. No hidden extras!

6 Stunning Islands You've Probably Never Heard Of

After a year without travel, we’re all dreaming of places near and far that will allow us to fulfill our wanderlust while also ensuring the safety of our travel bubble. In our pursuit of privacy, the world’s great outdoors and natural wonders await. Our planet is full of remote, yet idyllic, islands where you can have all the distance you need while rediscovering the joy of exploring the world. Here are six remote islands and archipelagoes that you’ve probably never heard of but fuel our travel dreams.

1  |  Shetland Islands, Scotland

This archipelago, located off the coast of mainland Scotland, comprises about 100 islands, only 15 of which are inhabited. The Shetland Islands are part of a UNESCO Global Geopark aiming to protect the land’s varied geo-diversity as well as its links to cultural heritage and to make it accessible in a sustainable way. So, whether you feel like mingling with the 7,000 locals in the capital, Lerwick – made famous by BBC’s Shetland TV series – finding Shetland ponies roaming wild, or diving into history at one of Europe’s richest Viking heritage sites in Unst, the northernmost of the inhabited British Isles, these “Islands of Opportunity” offer a host of possibilities.

2  |  Gull Island, United States

If you’ve never heard of this island, it’s because the most exciting aspect of it is not on it… but rather around it! This rocky outcropping about a mile off the southwestern coast of California, part of the Channel Islands archipelago, is the island to visit if you’re looking for a truly unique dive closer to home. Part of a state marine reserve protecting delicate marine life and habitats, Gull Island is one of the few places in California where divers can see well-preserved purple hydrocoral at shallow depths, as well as schools of fish, a kelp forest, and sea lions. 

3  |  Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Blissful beaches, swaying palm trees and warm waters – Bequia (pronounced “Beck-way”) has it all and even more. Yet, its greatest advantage may be that it falls off the touristy path. This anonymity offers travelers savvy enough to know its existence moments of perfect solitude in a laid-back and welcoming environment. While the island – the second biggest of the 32 that make up the Grenadines – has no sprawling resorts or traffic lights and only one main town, it doesn’t lack in things to do. Besides the obvious afternoon lounging on the sand, you can take a stroll on the coast-hugging boardwalk, go yachting in Admiralty Bay, or enjoy steel band music at a local bar. 

4  |  Magdalen Islands, Canada

Located a five-hour ferry ride away from the closest land of Prince Edward Island, Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) is an archipelago of a dozen islands, some of which are linked by sand dunes. The seven inhabited islands are joined by a 55-mile road, making it easy to explore the region by rental car. Along the way, you’ll drive past rolling green hills, colorful houses and steep red cliffs that glow at sunset. Be sure to get acquainted with local Madelinots (residents of the islands), known for their warm hospitality, always eager to teach visitors about their origins and enliven evenings with music and lyrics. 

5  |  San Blas Islands, Panama

Unknown to many, the San Blas Islands are a group of over 375 picturesque islands – most of them uninhabited – in the Caribbean Sea between mainland Panama and Colombia. San Blas is a little piece of paradise, off the beaten track of mass tourism and fully controlled by the native Kuna people. From Panama City, it’s a two-hour drive to the coast, where sailors can charter a catamaran or embark on a boat shuttle to the islands. Expect untouched nature, excellent snorkeling, and ample space to swim with barely another soul around. Adventure lovers will enjoy spending the night à la Robinson Crusoe in their own eco-friendly hideaway. 

6  |  Lofoten Islands, Norway

Did you ever dream of surfing above the Arctic Circle? If so, head to the Lofoten Islands! Unstad Beach is said to be among the best surfing spots in Europe, while not one for the faint of heart. But, beyond that, the Lofoten archipelago – 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea – is a place of unparalleled beauty, with craggy mountains, deep fjords, colorful fishing villages, and waters as clear and as blue as the Mediterranean – only colder. The water is more than a simple backdrop here; it’s the lifeblood of the community. Pyramid-shaped racks used for drying cod are a common sight throughout the fishing season, and one town’s unofficial motto reads “In Cod We Trust.” When visiting, travelers can stay in a fisherman’s hut, go kayaking or hiking to immerse themselves in the scenery, and experience the midnight sun.

Discover North America's Hidden Gems

As we get back out into the world, one thing we are all looking for is comfort and safety. Now, more than ever, we understand the need to stray away from the crowds, travel off-the-beaten-path, and see our world in a new light. For many of us, this means reconnecting with nature and our surroundings. As we begin exploring once again, let’s make an effort to travel more meaningfully and discover places that may be lesser known but deserve some appreciation, nonetheless.

Letchworth State Park, New York

As stated by the New York State website, Letchworth State Park, renowned as the "Grand Canyon of the East," is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs – as high as 600 feet in some places – surrounded by lush forests. The park offers multiple activities from hiking, horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing to performing arts programs, guided walks, white water rafting, kayaking, a pool for swimming, and hot air ballooning. But, perhaps the most stunning activity offered by the park is leaf-peeping in the fall when an endless array of yellows, reds and oranges blanket the canyon.

Cavendish Cliffs, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the eastern Canadian provinces with so many experiences to choose from, is the perfect destination for energetic explorers. Take an idyllic coastal road trip to explore the endless red rock cliffs, learn to tong and shuck oysters, own a standard-bred racehorse for an evening, uncover “Seaweed Secrets,” or make moonshine (legally). These are just a few of the available adventures that will give you an authentic taste of life on the island. When visiting the Cavendish Cliffs, make sure to make your way to the Cape Tyron Lighthouse which offers striking views.

Colorado National Monument, Colorado

Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument with gravity-defying boulders, tunnels carved of stone, towering monoliths, colorful formations, desert bighorn sheep, and soaring eagles. Those are just a few of the breathtaking landscapes and species that make up the spectacular 32 square mile park. The monument’s quiet, wild country has an otherworldly feel — so much so, in fact, road-bikers nicknamed its Rim Rock Drive “Tour of the Moon.”

Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

As stated by the Travel Alberta Tourism website, Alberta has lovely weather, but 75 million years ago, the Badlands were a subtropical paradise. We’re talking palm trees, enormous ferns, and humidity. The only things stopping it from being a prime spot for sipping cocktails out of coconuts were the lack of humans and the enormous reptiles. Today, the provincial park is ripe for active exploration. Did you know more than 150 full dinosaur skeletons have been unearthed in Dinosaur Provincial Park and more than 50 species have been discovered? No wonder it’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fly Geyser, Nevada

The Fly Geyser is a perfect mix of human error and natural geothermal pressure created this rainbow-colored geological wonder. Located on the edge of Black Rock Desert, Fly Geyser was accidentally man-made about 100 years ago. While trying to drill a well in an area of the desert unsuitable for farming, geothermal boiling water was struck. Not suitable for irrigation water, the geyser was left alone and a 10- to 12-foot calcium carbonate cone formed. Wondering why you haven’t seen endless Instagram photos of the geyser? Until the spring of 2018, Fly Geyser was on private land. But the Burning Man Project purchased the property and is now sharing the wonder with the world on private ranger-guided tours.

Spirit Island, Alberta

One of the most iconic landmarks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Spirit Island, nestled on the shores of beautiful Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, is an image recognized around the world. But few know much about it. Spirit Island’s access is extremely limited due to its geography. Paddling on your own can take about four hours one way, so the best option to see the island and its emerald-colored waters is by boat. Wondering if the photo opp is worth the visit? Apple thinks so – the company featured Spirit Island with the launch of their 2014 iPad to showcase the iPad’s photography capabilities.