If there’s such a thing as an island having a signature color, that island is Bermuda and that color is pink. Ringed by its famous rose-hued sands and speckled with charming pastel homes, Bermuda has a special personality all its own. It might be with the allure of adventure aboard a glass-bottom boat or with the thrill of snorkeling amongst centuries-old shipwrecks, but one way or another, Bermuda will cast her spell on you, as she has done with all who visit her shores.

And if you’re seeking to discover all the treasures this spectacular island nation has to offer, how better to do so than with Celebrity’s Shore Excursions? We have an array of incredible tours that can fit anyone’s particular interests – especially families. This beautiful island has dozens of activities that everyone can enjoy, but when it comes to Bermuda, we have a unique excursion that’s sure to excite all family members.

If you’re in the mood to unleash your inner adventurer in Bermuda, then you won’t want to miss our Family Tour Challenge: Bermuda Gold Cup – Learn to Sail & Mini Regatta excursion. Sailing is imbedded in Bermuda’s culture and this is a fantastic way to experience one of the nation’s most traditional past times firsthand.

Our Family Tour Challenges offer a new way to experience our exotic destinations with. Designed exclusively for families and groups, these tours are not only packed with excitement and friendly competition, they also provide an educational and enriching experience the entire family will remember for a lifetime.

With our Regatta Family Tour Challenge, you and your loved ones will enjoy the rare opportunity to participate in the Bermuda Gold Cup. After an expert instructor teaches you the basics of sailing, you’ll set off aboard a J/24, the world’s most popular race-designed keelboat, for the adventure of a lifetime. Put your newly acquired nautical skills to the test as you compete with other participating families in a mini sailing race. And best of all, not only will you feel the thrill of taking part in the Bermuda Gold Cup, but you’ll also vie for prizes and bragging rights, with the winning team earning a medal and certificate.

So if you’re checking out Bermuda with your family any time soon, our Family Tour Challenge: Bermuda Gold Cup – Learn to Sail & Mini Regatta is the perfect opportunity to not only enjoy the natural beauty of the island, but also affords families with some quality time to bond and learn a new activity as well.

Giving Thanks Around the World

CEL_CS_Oceanliners0937croppedThanksgiving may be a uniquely American celebration, but it’s not the only holiday where citizens of the world give thanks. Here’s a quick rundown of how the international community celebrates family and a plentiful harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving is the international holiday most similar to American Thanksgiving, despite falling a month earlier on the second Monday in October every year. The celebration dates back to when arctic explorer Martin Frobisher, while searching for the Northwest Passage, instead landed in Newfoundland in 1578 and wanted to give thanks for a safe passage across the Atlantic Ocean. Today, Canadians celebrate the day much like their neighbors to the South: with turkey, football games, and overeating with their families.

Korea’s Chuseok is a three-day harvest festival that typically falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. During the holiday, family members gather together to give thanks to their ancestors for an abundant harvest and eat traditional dishes, like Songpyeon, together.

Barbados’s Crop Over harvest festival dates back hundreds of years and, according to the country’s National Cultural Foundation, emerged out of the tensions in the meeting and merging of the island’s British and West African heritage. Today, the festival is a major holiday for the country and has evolved into an eight-week celebration of music, dancing, cultural presentations and more.

Mehregan, also referred to as the Festival of Autumn, is an ancient Iranian holiday and essentially the Persian version of Thanksgiving. It celebrates the fall season and harvest.

Erntedankfest, or the harvest festival of thanks, is celebrated in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other German-speaking countries. The fest is primarily a rural and a religious celebration held in the last week of September or the first week of October.

Menu

Like many of you, our Celebrity Cruises® chefs live for the holidays when they can put their creative juices into overdrive, dreaming up special culinary creations to put new spins on classics that will help everyone get into the holiday spirit.

Thanksgiving is a particularly bountiful celebration aboard our ships, and this, combined with the international palates we all now boast, gives our chefs the perfect excuse to develop both traditional and contemporary holiday menus, boasting flavors we know so well, with a few unexpected surprises that are sure to delight the well-traveled palate’s tastebuds. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes, crafted by our very own Celebrity Executive Chefs. Their addition to your menu will surely enliven your own culinary traditions at home.

ROASTED TURKEY WITH SAGE GRAVY Read More

Courtesy of Twitter/NSPCC

Courtesy of Twitter/NSPCC

Get your blue duffel coat and red wellington boots ready.

To help celebrate the release of “Paddington,” a new live-action and CGI film about Michael Bond’s classic children’s book character, London is rolling out a fuzzy path for the fictional bear. From November through Dec. 30, visitors can embark on a walkable “Paddington Trail” though the city, earmarked by 50 3-foot, 6-inch statues of the toy bear. Each statue has been decorated by a celebrity and placed close to a popular museum, park or landmark, such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock Bear” at the Museum of London, Peter Capaldi’s “Doctor Who”-themed bear at the Prime Meridian line, Sandra Bullock’s “Gravity Bear” at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and David Beckham’s “Golden Paws” bear at Green Park.

Brown famously created the character of Paddington, an anthropomorphized bear from “Darkest Peru” who is found at the Paddington train station by Mr. and Mrs. Brown, in 1956, after seeing a lonely teddy bear on a store shelf near the titular station on Christmas Eve. “A Bear Called Paddington” was subsequently published in 1958, and was followed by dozens of new books.

The Paddington Trail will remain up until Dec. 30, after which they will be auctioned off for charity. And while the trail is going away next month, the Museum of London’s Paddington exhibit will run through January 2015, and U.S. guests will be able to see the film, which stars Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”) as Mr. and Mrs. Brown and Nicole Kidman as an evil taxidermist, in theaters on January 16. (The film opens in the UK on Nov. 28). Selfridge’s department store will also continue to sell Paddington merchandise, so all visitors can get their fill of the famous bear.

Maple Candy

Quebec City is one of the few cities in the world where maple syrup may run in Québécois’ veins instead of blood. Canada produces over 80% of the world’s pure maple sugar—with the province of Quebec contributing to 91% of this production—and the process has become an integral part of the city’s culture and economy. Today, Canadian maple syrup is exported to roughly 50 countries, with the United States being the primary importer.

According to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, Canada’s early settlers first learned how to the harvest tree sap and boil it into syrup from the Amerindian peoples. Today, the general process is not much different. Syrup producers tap appropriately sized trees in the spring, gather the sap for 12 to 20 days and then transport the sap to a sugar house where it’s boiled into maple syrup.

Luckily for those of us with a sweet tooth, many of the sugar houses in Quebec open up the production process to visitors, who can come watch the sap be collected and boiled, eat a meal cooked with maple syrup instead of sugar, watch a French Canadian folklore performance, and of course, watch maple taffy be made—right in the snow! Read More

Top Five Alaska Shore Excursions

Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by HelicopterAlaska is absolutely extraordinary. At first, words will fail you. The sheer size and unrelenting visual spectacle of Alaska tend to have that effect on people. Alaska exudes a kind of freedom that few can fathom, but all desire. From the depth of its glistening harbors and mystic fjords to the heights of its massive blue-hued glaciers and snow-studded mountains, the unbridled spirit of “The Last Frontier” beckons you to explore its endless marvels.

Naturally, when it comes to exploring this spectacular region, we here at Celebrity Shore Excursions believe that ‘ordinary’ should be far from what you expect when you visit Alaska. With this philosophy in mind, we ensure that whether by sea, dog sled, railway, or helicopter, our Shore Excursions don’t just show you Alaska, they place you there – on its glaciers, in its snow fields, upon its meadows, and above its peaks – so you can soak in and remember every inch of its natural wonder.

But with so much to explore and so many destination experiences to choose from, it can be difficult to decide how best to spend your time. Here are our picks for Celebrity’s top five Shore Excursions in Alaska: Read More

notre_dame_celeberity

Originally built in 1647, Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral became the first parish church of the colony of New France in 1664. 350 years later, the church is still the center of Roman Catholic life in Québec City and currently near the end of a 350th anniversary Jubilee celebration. First begun on December 8, 2013, the honorary festivities end on December 28, 2014, so travelers interested in seeing the celebratory activities should make their way to Québec City immediately.

As part of the Jubilee, Notre-Dame de Québec visitors can step through the first Holy Door outside of Europe, which was presented to the cathedral from the Holy See especially for the occasion. The Holy Door is a “symbol of communion with the universal Church,” and will be closed on December 28 until the next Holy Year of the Roman Catholic Church in 2025. (The world’s other Holy Doors are in Rome; Ars-sur-Formans, France, and Santiago de Compostela, Spain.) Other remaining Jubilee activities include a special concert by the Quebec Symphony Orchestra on Friday, November 21 and official closing ceremony of the Jubilee on the Feast of the Holy Family.

Read More

Top Five Bermuda Beaches

Power Snorkel BeachWhen heading to Bermuda, think pink. The subtropical island is famous for its turquoise water and pink-sand beaches, the end result of shells and coral calcium carbonate being crushed together. With over 75 miles of coastline, Bermuda is surrounded by beautiful beaches, making it difficult to decide where one should spend the day soaking in the sun. Here are our picks for the top five beaches to visit when in Bermuda.

Horseshoe Bay Beach is perhaps the most famous of Bermuda’s beaches, and for good reason. Located in Southampton, this curved stretch of sand features crystal-clear warm waters (with tropical fish), climbable rock formations, clean amenities and a great snack shack. An on-duty lifeguard (from May to September) makes this ideal for families. Celebrity guests can skip the crowded public buses by booking a shore excursion to the world-famous beach. As guest patbobkels raves, “The pink sand is REALLY pink and there are plenty of rocks and small caverns to explore. Bring sneakers if you are adventurous and like to climb on the rocks. The beauty of Horseshoe Bay will leave you speechless…don’t forget your camera.”

Warwick Long Bay is just a short walk away from Horseshoe Bay, its more famous neighbor, but it features equally beautiful sands and clear waters. It also has the added bonus of being less crowded, for those that are looking for a peaceful and quiet soak in the sun, and being a popular spot for parrot fish and other marine life to come in close to shore here, making it a top spot for snorkelers.

Jobson’s Cove is as close as you can get to a picture-perfect beach in Bermuda. Surrounded by cliffs and rock formations, this secluded beach is largely separated from the sea—resulting in only gentle waves and calm, shallow waters (to better spot the marine life without a snorkel).

Tobacco Bay Beach is the most popular beach in the village of St. George’s, and is known for being small and beautiful, as well as for its stunning limestone rock formations off the shoreline. Unlike most most beaches in Bermuda, Tobacco Bay has concessions stands and restaurant with a liquor license, for those that wind to wind down their days with a margarita.

Elbow Beach is divided into a public and private section, with the latter only accessible to guests of nearby private resorts. The former, however, rivals Horseshoe Bay in popularity, given how family friendly and safe the area is for guests. Surrounded by protective coral reefs, the waters here are extremely calm and soothing. Elbow is also the closest beach to the city of Hamilton, the financial and cultural hub of the island.

alaskaHaines may be known as the “Adventure Capital of Alaska,” but the real excitement lies in its fascinating history and intriguing culture. Originally settled by Native Alaskans of the Tlingit culture, the city is now home to 2,592 people—and any number of tourists that are visiting via cruise ship at any time.

Reality show fanatics may recognize Haines from the Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush,” but the city is best known as the place to see bald eagles. The city is currently in the midst of hosting the annual Alaska Bald Eagle Festival (Nov. 10 to 16) at the American Eagle Foundation, which offers photography workshops, guest speakers, and of course, plenty of opportunities to come face to face with this majestic bird. On average, Haines welcomes over 3,500 bald eagles between the months of September and December every year.

In addition to its notable wildlife, Haines also boasts of spectacular views and outdoor experiences, ranging from rafting on the Chilkat River, racing a snow machine on the Haines Highway, to fishing for Pacific salmon.

Here, our sample itinerary of what to see and do when faced with eight hours in Haines, Alaska.

9:00 a.m.—After a quick breakfast at Sarahj’s Shoppe with freshly baked scones, head on over to Fort William H. Seward, Alaska’s first permanent Army base. Originally begun in 1903, the fort was designed to help settle a boundary dispute between the U.S. and Canada and was garrisoned in 1904. It was named after Secretary of State William Seward, who infamously negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 (“Seward’s Folly”). The only active military post in Alaska between 1925 and 1940, the fort was closed at the end of World War II and designated a National History Landmark in 1978.

11:00 a.m.—Make your way over to Dalton City, a charming, but fake gold rush town that was created for the 1989 Walt Disney film “White Fang.” After taking your photos of the movie set, grab a seat at the Haines Brewing Company to grab a quick lunch while simultaneously sampling some of the best local ales. Beer can be purchased by the sample glass or pint to consume on premise, or by the liter or half gallon to go.

1:00 p.m.—Given that bald eagles are the thing to see in Haines, definitely make time for a visit to the world famous Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. In addition to seeing eagles, visitors should also keep a watchful eye out for salmon, moose, bears, and wolves in their natural habitat. Celebrity Cruise guests can book a shore excursion to the preserve, of which guest Carias593 noted, “Even though it was drizzling rain and grey, we had a magical experience and spotted 70 bald eagles!”

5:00 p.m.—To wrap up your day, take a quick tour of the Haines Packing Company, a distinguished smokehouse that evolved into a state-of-the-art facility. Finish off with a quick seafood dinner at Big Al’s Salmon Shack or an all American bistro fare at the Fireweed Restaurant.

Isafjordour_iceland_celebrity

As Celebrity Cruises opens deployment for 2016-2017, we’ve added new ports to our already robust roster of destinations. Every week, we will preview one of these exciting new cities and provide you with the best things to do and see. This week, we look to Isafjordur, Iceland, which makes its debut on our 2016 Europe itineraries.

With only 323,002 total residents, Iceland is Europe’s most sparsely populated country—but also one of its most beautiful. Covered with glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, geysers and mountains, the country boasts a pristine and dramatic view of nature at its grandest. Iceland has also captured the world’s imagination of late, given its background appearance in the popular HBO drama Game of Thrones, in which the country stands in for the mysterious land “beyond the wall,” and its role in last year’s comedy-drama, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller.

While most travelers are initially drawn to the capital, Reykjavik, Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords peninsula and new Celebrity Cruises port city, is a must-see. Situated on an “L”-shaped sandspit called Eyri, the city provides ready access to the nature reserves, on neighboring Hornstrandir peninsula, where eagle-eyed hikers can spot Arctic foxes, seals, and many indigenous varieties of birds. Isafjordur’s main in-city attraction is the Westfjords Heritage Museum, which focuses on Isafjordur’s fishing town heritage.

For more on Isafjordur, our partners at Travel + Leisure gave us some insider tips to share exclusively with you.

TandLTravel + Leisure “Must See” Tip:

Spend the day with Borea Adventures on an Arctic sea-kayaking voyage, where you’ll revel in the solitude of weaving in and out of the snowmelt-striped fjords. Stop at an inlet to watch the seals playing on the coast, or just embrace the infinite silence and sparkling shores of this natural paradise.

 

TandLTravel + Leisure Culinary Tip:

If you’re seeking a light lunch, look no further than the centrally located Bræðraborg (Aoalstaeti 22b Isafjordur), which is also referred to as the Borea Café, since the owner runs his Borea tours out of here. House-made cakes, organic salads, pizzas, and strong coffee fill the menu. For more traditional fare, head to the Tjöruhúsið—“The Tar House” —where waiters serve up whatever the trawlers pulled in from the fjords that day. The cod cheek is a favorite.

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