Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Experience the Spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

What does it take to be revered as Scotland’s largest and most popular event? Forty-five steel drummers, 40 Shetland fiddlers and 35 Zulu warriors will all play integral parts in this year’s 65th annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Scotland’s premiere musical event. This year, the cultural extravaganza—which runs from August 1 – 23 at the Esplanade of the Edinburgh Castle—will revolve around the theme of “Our Home, Friends and Family,” in honor of the Year of Homecoming.

Tattoo organizers say they have put together the largest gathering of pipes and drums in some time. They also coordinated over a hundred highland dancers and all three Scottish Royal Marine Bands to give the 220,000-strong audience a vibrant showcase of folkloric dance displays, historical re-enactments and military demonstrations. In total, musicians and performers from nearly 50 countries will perform to create a momentous event that will be televised in more than 30 countries to roughly 100 million audience viewers worldwide.

Fun fact: According to the Tattoo’s official site, the word ‘tattoo’ comes from the closing-time cry in the inns in the Low Countries during the 17th and 18th centuries: ‘‘Doe den tap toe,” “Turn off the taps.”

The actual performance lasts for 90 minutes, but visitors are advised to leave plenty of time for the journey into central Edinburgh and get settled into their reserved seat. Also, remember to wear comfortable shoes as there’s an uphill walk and a number of steps from where the buses are allowed to park. Furthermore,  a warm wrap or coat is recommended for the Scottish evening air that—even in summer—can be quite chilly.

Celebrity Cruises guests can explore Scotland’s biggest spectacle with the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Shore Excursion, available as part of the Infinity’s British Isles cruisetour.  For complete detailed information on this event and other exciting, once in a lifetime experiences, please explore our upcoming shore excursions.

If you’d like a preview of the wonder of the Military Tattoo, click the play button below.

Paul Baya Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity of the Moment: Paul Baya, Cruise Director

Paul Baya, Celebrity Cruises’ Cruise Director, has been working on the high seas for almost two decades. Originally from Westchester County in New York, Paul attended Lynchburg College in Virginia, where he majored in communications and minored in theater performance. Though he’s appeared on shows such as “Regis and Kelly,” Paul now considers the ship his stage.

We recently spoke to Paul about what inspired him to become a part of the Celebrity Cruises team, his funniest onboard memories and more.

What inspired you to become a Cruise Director and work with Celebrity Cruises?

My inspiration to become a cruise director picked up pace over time since I started with the industry in the mid to late 90s. I love the CD position onboard; the interaction with the guests, surrounding myself in multiple facets of entertainment with some of the most talented and dedicated professionals on (and off) the high seas. I’ve always recognized Celebrity Cruises as a top leader in the cruise industry, and after over 10 years with another line, I wanted to raise the level of my career and be a part of new entertainment concepts. I feel as though I “graduated” up to Celebrity. I’m honored to be part of this exciting team.

What’s the funniest moment you can remember while working with Celebrity?

Not many guests know what takes place on board a ship during a “turn around” day (i.e., debarkation/embarkation day). During my recent contract on the Celebrity Equinox up in Ft. Lauderdale, it was about 30 minutes before embarkation of the guests began. I was asked to make a ship-wide announcement for the crew informing them of upcoming crew events, the number of back-to-back guests, some motivational words, etc. Something brief, yet fun. Well, on top of covering the details mentioned above I pretended to impersonate a celebrity, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I said was onboard the EQ as a mode of transit to the Caribbean for some film awards ceremony. This apparently fooled everyone and the rumor spread all the way off the ship to our Miami office. Housekeeping staff rang up our Chief Housekeeper asking what cabin Mr. Schwarzenegger, was in and what amenities he was requesting. The impersonations are now a weekly occurrence, and the crew members say it’s one of their highlights and laughs during busy turnaround days. Perhaps it’s time for “Arnold and others” to say hello to the guests too. Hmmm.

What do your friends and family think of your job at sea?

They love it, as do I. When I told my friends that I was a Cruise Director they would say, “I can totally see that. That’s right up your alley.” My family sees the enthusiasm towards the job more than anyone. They all know I love it out on the ships.

Watch as Paul talks about how passengers don’t need to take a vacation from technology while at sea. In the spirit of technology and gaming at sea and beyond, enter to win a dream vacation for a family of four — plus an Xbox One and a Forza Motorsport 5 game — by August 13, 2014 at Celebrity Cruises Sweeps.

For more stories about Celebrity Cruise’s dynamic team, head over to our official Facebook page.

James Beard Foundation honoree Bobby Flay (right), with JBF president Susan Ungaro and her husband, Colin.

Bobby Flay Honored at James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne Event

Bobby Flay is no stranger to the James Beard Foundation. The American chef, restaurateur and media personality received the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 1993, was inducted into the Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2007 and co-hosted the James Beard Awards in 2008.

This past Saturday, Flay was able to add another James Beard award to his resume: honoree at Chefs & Champagne, the foundation’s annual summer tasting party at the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in the Hamptons. Flay’s award puts him in the company of previous winners Julia Child, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and more.

During the evening, Flay was able to kick back and enjoy the culinary treats being prepared by roughly 38 very talented chefs. The tasting included a Lemon Verbena–Infused Watermelon, Citrus, and Shrimp Salad with Bacon Popcorn by Pecko Zantilaveevan; a Homemade Ricotta Crostini with Heirloom Tomatoes, Flying Pigs Farm Bacon, and Ancho Chile Salt by Alex Guarnaschelli; and a Chipotle Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp with Mango-Filled Chile Doughnut Holes by Tom Fraker and Marco Zapien.

James Beard Foundation Chefs and Champagne 2014

Rufino Rengifo was on hand representing Celebrity Cruises, dishing up Za’atar-Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabbouleh and Greek Yogurt. As Celebrity’s Corporate Executive Chef, Rengifo oversees the hiring, training and development of the culinary team fleetwide, as well as the supervision of onboard culinary operations. His motto may seem simple, but it is beyond ambitious as it incorporates the emotional ingredient, “Dining should be a journey of pleasure that one has never witnessed before.” This ideal has allowed Celebrity Cruises to be the first cruise line to present dinner at the prestigious James Beard House two years ago fulfilling a longtime dream.

Flay, who just opened his latest restaurant, Gato, in February in Manhattan’s NoLita neighborhood, has said being honored by the James Beard Foundation in this fashion, among so many culinary colleagues,  was especially touching for him.

“I think I participated in the very first Chefs & Champagne a couple years ago. I was one of the chefs who had a table at the event,” he told Hamptons.com. “So when they asked if they could honor me, I was honestly honored.”

Celebrity Family Vacations

Experiencing A Family Vacation With Celebrity Cruises

At Celebrity Cruises we’re dedicated in our commitment to creating modern, upscale experiences that will leave you completely restored and renewed, which includes helping to keep your kids entertained by creating opportunities for your whole family to maximize together time, making magical memories and sharing exciting experiences.

Each of our youth programs is geared to specific age groups, such as 3- to 5-year-old “Shipmates,” 6- to 8-year-old “Cadets” and 9- to 11-year-old “Ensigns,”  is supervised by experienced staff members. The programming is designed to appeal to all interests, and perhaps even create new ones, with amazing GoPro camera editing sessions, DJ-training classes and numerous X-Box gaming stations.

We also offer a multitude of family-friendly off-shore excursions, ranging from hot-air ballon rides over Tuscany, taking a private boat around Greece and living like a sultan for a day in Turkey.

You’ll get all the details once you’ve boarded, but here’s a peek at what’s available:-

Have you and your family sailed with Celebrity Cruises? What were your favorite family excursions? Did your kids have great time in the kids’ club?  We would love to hear from you!

Sights to See: Cambodia’s Angkor Wat

"Angkor Wat" by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Angkor Wat” by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Google Maps, we have spawned a new generation of “digitals tourists” who like to “visit” faraway beaches, temples and mountains… From their living-room couch. The world, however, is ripe with incredible sites and wonders that lose their splendor if not see in in person and one such structure is Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, sitting proudly in Siem Reap, the country’s northern region.

Built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the mid-12th century for Vishnu, the Supreme God of Vaishnavism (one of the three main sects of Hinduism), Angkor Wat is actually just one of a collection of structures at the 154-square-mile Angkor Archaeological Park, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992. A prime example of religiously-minded Khmer architecture, the laterite and sandstone structure features over 3,000 unique apsaras, or heavenly nymphs, carved into the walls as well as numerous episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. A sprawling space, Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat and features three concentric enclosures, the innermost of which ascends to a central tower. Four gates, which show off elaborate carvings of mythological battles as well as the Khmer court, allow passage in and out.

Our top tips for visiting Angkor Wat:

1. To beat the crowds (several million tourists visit the site every year), be sure to arrive at the temple as early as possible
2. Consider visiting during a Cambodia’s non-peak season in April to October (though May and June are particularly hot, wet and unpleasant).
3. Hire a tuk-tuk, or auto-rickshaw, driver for the day, and ask his advice for the best route around the temple.

Cruisers slated to sail aboard the Celebrity Millennium or Celebrity Century can book a pre-cruise “Essence of Cambodia” cruise tour to see many of the above country highlights.

Celebrity Cruises and Canyon Ranch

5 Most Luxurious Canyon Ranch Spa Treatments

(This post originally appeared on Celebrity Cruises’ UK blog, Celebrity Life.)

In need of some spoiling? A holiday in the sun gives you the chance to escape the stresses of work, and is the perfect time to unwind with a little TLC. There are many luxurious treatments available at our lavish Canyon Ranch Spa at Sea, just take your pick from our full range of wonderful massages and facials, and sit back and relax with our onboard spa specialists. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of our top five most luxurious treatments to enjoy.

Vitamin Infusion facial
This luxury treatment is great for when you want to make a big impression on your first night out onboard. During this 80-minute treatment your skin will be fortified with large doses of enriching vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. These added vitamins will increase your skin’s ability to resist damage from the Sun’s rays, and other environmental elements. Afterwards, your skin will be left feeling soft, supple and glowing.

Tension Zone Massage
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This highly effective shoulder and neck massage will relieve you of any tension you may have gained from the daily stresses of work and life back home. Your masseuse will employ a variety of techniques, and specific levels of pressure, to loosen any tight muscles around the neck and shoulder area, ensuring that you leave feeling light as a feather and like a brand new you.

Dry-No-More Scalp Treatment
If your hair is feeling dry and looking a little lifeless, be sure to spoil yourself with this wonderful treatment that promises to protect and moisturise your scalp, as well as revitalising your hair. Moroccan Oil is massaged into your hair to reduce scalp dryness and shield your hair follicles right from the root, leaving your beautiful tresses with a healthy appearance and silky feel. This is the perfect little luxury before a night out onboard with friends and family.

Environ Ultimate Vitamin Therapy
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Whether you want some help with a particular skin problem, or just want to feel revitalised, the Environ Ultimate Vitamin Therapy will leave you glowing. Our specialist therapists will work their magic to bring out your skin’s natural nutrients for visible results. This treatment also includes a medical-grade peel that promises to leave skin smoother, blemish free, as well as reducing fine lines and wrinkles. You’ll end your holiday looking, and feeling, younger!
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Red Curry Duck

Recipe: Red Curry Duck

While off-shore excursions may provide the most authentic Asian flavors of the continent’s many regions, Silk Harvest—a Celebrity Cruises specialty dining venue —offers our guests a genuine taste of the Orient, with signature dishes spanning Cantonese, Thai and Japanese favorites.

At Silk Harvest, the focus is on authenticity and freshness, which together help us create top-quality dishes from the Far East that our Captains Club and repeat guests will vouch for as some of the best at sea.  What’s more, many of the Silk Harvest staff were raised in the countries that inspired us and they love being able to showcase the cuisine they grew up eating and sharing with their own families.

There are many popular plates at Silk Harvest; however one that we receive many requests for is the Duck Red Curry, which is today’s featured recipe on Catalyst.

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Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Hari Merdeka: Happy Malaysian Independence Day

Malaysia is a feast for the senses—incredibly tasty cuisine, lively street culture, world-renowned entertainment, and first-class events—that excites all who visit here. There is always something new to experience on a trip to Mayalsia, but a favorite amongst our Celebrity Cruises crew who regularly sail here is the annual Hari Merdeka celebration.

Every August 31, Malaysia celebrates the day it became independent from British colonial rule in 1957. The national holiday, is attended by thousands of Malaysians and tourists alike, is a heady mix of patriotism and partying for young and old alike, featuring beautiful dances, patriotic singing, and delightful flag ceremonies.

The highlight of the holiday is the Hari Merdeka parade, which is usually held at Merdeka Square in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.  (Merdeka Square is where Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, chanted the word “Merdeka” seven times as the British Union Jack was lowered and the new Malaysian flag was raised.)

Malaysia’s king, queen, prime minister and cabinet members all attend the Hari Merdeka parade, as do government and military officials. The day begins with the arrival of the sovereigns, as the national anthem “Negaraku” is played. Next is the Royal Inspection of the gathered battalions, followed by a flag raising, gun salute and recitation of the “Rukunegara,” or National Principles. The cultural performances and float-filled parade round out the celebrations.

Have you sailed to Malaysia with Celebrity? Have you experienced the Hari Merdeka celebrations? We would love to hear from you!

Cruisers interested in adding a trip to Malaysia should check out Celebrity’s Asia cruises for the rest of 2014 and 2015.

Bastille Day 2014: Where to Celebrate

Today is the 225th anniversary of Bastille Day, or Fête National, which is France’s annual national holiday. Le Quatorze Juillet commemorates the start of the French Revolution as a tribute to the demonstrators who stormed Paris’ Bastille prison on July 14, 1789 and led to the creation of a constitutional republic.

If you’re not in France, it may be hard to take part in the country’s annual military parade down the Champs Elysees, fireworks displays above the Eiffel Tower and ubiquitous firemen’s balls. However, no matter where in the world you are, you sure to find an opportunity to celebrate the holiday with parties now held in England, Belgium, Hungary, South Africa, French Polynesia, Canada, Vietnam and more.

In the United States, cities all over the country are holding regional event with New Orleans leading the party tally–the city is planning countless events, including concerts, waiters races and the traditional Council of French Societies wreath laying ceremony at the Statue of Jeanne d’Arc in the French Market. In Washington D.C. the French bakery, Paul, will hosts its fourth annual Bastille Day Baguette Relay Race, whereby participants pass off baguettes instead of batons, at the U.S. Navy Memorial. Celebrations are also being held in Dallas, Texas, where the “Bastille on Bishop” street festival will take over the district of Oak Cliff. (According to the New York Times, the area around Oak Cliff was once home to a 1200-acre utopian community for French-speaking colonists.)

For travelers interested in experiencing Bastille Day the authentic way next year, Celebrity’s Xfinity offers a number of summer sailings that begin their journeys from Le Havre (Paris).

 

 

Machu Picchu

Landmarks to Visit: Machu Picchu

The fifth largest city in the Americas, Lima is a melting pot of cultures that mixes ancient traditions with cosmopolitan modernity. Boasting a vibrant nightlife and restaurants that are widely considered to be some of the best in South America, Lima is also your gateway to the most visited site in all of Peru, the world-famous mountaintop city of Machu Picchu.

“Discovered” by the American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has become an iconic remnant of the ancient Incan Empire. Historians estimate the mighty Incas built the limestone-heavy site in the 15th or 16th century as a royal estate or sacred religious site. It was likely abandoned when the Spanish conquistadors began invading the region. The site, which stands 2,430 meters above sea level, consists of over 200 structures that remained untouched for thousands of years.

In addition to being the site of now famous ruins, Machu Picchu is also home to numerous endangered and threatened species, such as the neotropical otter and the dwarf brocket, as well as specialized vegetation like the “Puna” grasslands and Polylepis thickets. Furthermore, the South American attraction was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and claimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Today, Machu Picchu still possesses an undeniable air of mythology and mysticism, with its original purpose still shrouded in debate and mystery. But what we do know for sure is that, for the people who journey there, Machu Picchu is an unforgettable memory.

Celebrity cruisers can include an off-board excursion to Machu Picchu onboard the Xpedition.