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Packing for a cruise can intimidate even the most experienced of travelers because unlike “traditional” vacations, cruises have the prospect of “formal” and themed nights to contend with, thus vacationers are posed with the ultimate question: to pack, or not to pack, the tux or gown. What’s more, all clothing and travel items need to be packed into two suitcases, max. But worry not—cruise packing can actually be pretty stress-free; especially when you follow our top tips.

Wardrobe: Mix it Up

Most cruises feature both laidback and more formal dining options, so in addition to your casual attire—such as t-shirts, jeans, sundresses and shorts—you’ll also want to bring a set or two of dressier options for those nights when you want to take your evening up a notch. Tuxedo- and gown-averse guests needn’t worry—dark suits, or blazers with trousers will work just fine, as will contemporary nighttime looks for women. That said, should you wish to don cocktail attire, you’ll also feel right at home. Other essential items include a minimum of 2 bathing suits (so one will always be dry!), workout clothes, sun hats, sandals, and sunglasses. However, if you’re headed for a cooler region, you’ll also want to add a lightweight (but warm) coat, pieces you can layer, along with socks and suitable footwear.

Technology: Capturing the Memories

To help you remember every aspect of your trip, you undoubtedly want to pack a camera (or if you have a smartphone, a charger to make sure your device won’t let you down at the wrong moment!).

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Faberge Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, boasts an incredible history and eclectic culture. Once the capital of imperial Russia, the city is renowned as one of Europe’s cultural epicenters, with its numerous world-famous museums, galleries, monuments, and parks. Naturally, when visiting St. Petersburg, you’ll want to soak in as many of these incredible sites as possible. But what if we told you there was a whole other side to these historic landmarks not many are privy to?

If you’re planning to visit St. Petersburg on your next Celebrity® cruise, be sure to check out these amazing shore excursions that’ll take you beyond the typical sights and sounds of the city, creating an exceptionally unique experience.

 

Catherine Palace and Amber Restoration Workshop

Catherine Palace is one of St. Petersburg’s most iconic landmarks. The stunning 18th century imperial palace is the epitome of opulence, with its extravagant carved panels that are gilded with over 200 pounds of gold. Yes, Catherine Palace is one of the city’s top attractions, but on our Catherine Palace and Amber Restoration Workshop shore excursion, you’ll have the unique opportunity to not only explore the palace grounds, but also enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Amber restoration workshops, where the palace’s famous Amber panels are being rebuilt to their pre-World War II glory.

Your experience will begin with a tour of the palace, following in the footsteps of Russian tsars who frequented the estate during the summer. After, with champagne in hand, you’ll enjoy a “backstage” invitation to the Amber restoration workshops, where you’ll learn all about the room itself—which many consider to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World”—and it’s fascinating history, concluding with the modern day restoration project under task, whereby restorers are hoping to restore the space to her original grandeur. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, you’ll also have some time to stroll the palace’s enchanting 1,400-acre park, that’s set around a central lake and dotted with a number of charming pavilions.


Faberge Museum Evening Experience

If you’re a fan of intimate and exclusive experiences, our Faberge Museum Evening Experience is not to be missed. Because on this exceptional shore excursion, you won’t only enjoy a private evening tour of the world-famous Faberge Museum, but you’ll also be treated to a wonderful cocktail reception and private musical performance.

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Redentore_Venice_992x558Given its centuries of history and culture, Europe is unsurprisingly jam-packed with tourist-friendly events that span the fields of art, music and sports. Interested in classical music or theater? There are literally thousands of potential shows and excursions you can see over the course of a lifetime. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve taken the liberty of picking five of our favorite European events to share with you.

King’s Day

April 27

Who says royal traditions can’t change? Certainly not the Dutch. Since 1890, the Netherlands have celebrated Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day, to celebrate the ascension of Princess Wilhelmina to the Dutch throne. With the subsequent ascensions of Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana in 1948, and Juliana’s daughter Beatrix in 1980, the date for the holiday has moved around the calendar, albeit with the same name. However, with Prince Willem-Alexander’s rise to the throne in 2013, following Beatrix’s abdication, Koninginnedag has now become Koningsdag, or King’s Day.

Dubbed the “biggest street party of the year,” Koningsdag features live music,street parties, food stalls and a city-wide flea market, the vrijmarkt (or “free market”), which lets anyone sell second-hand wares in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. (Even kids are allowed in on the sales action, peddling toys and clothes they’ve outgrown in the last year.). On this day, it is tradition for nationals to dress in Holland’s national color—orange—while the King and the royal family celebrate with visits two locations: Graft-De Rijp and Amstelveen.

Cannes Film Festival

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Europe_Greece_Santorini

With the understanding that knowledge is power, Celebrity teamed up with one of the world’s most influential travel brands, Travel + Leisure, to create a group of savvy travel and lifestyle experts who offer insights on everything from the destinations that Celebrity visits, to the modern luxury vacation experiences they provide. Celebrity’s Global Insiders uncover unique and memorable experiences in key destinations on all seven continents. 

Frequently cited as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, Santorini has long been a sought-after destination for travelers. The ancient island boasts of a classic Greek seascape—whitewashed houses accented by sea-blue roofs—and is a treasure trove for both professional and amateur archeology buffs. Located 120 miles southwest of mainland Greece, the island features sites that include tombs that date back to the 9th century and the sanctuary of Apollo.

In addition to its natural beauty, Santorini is also known for its tasty food and delicious wine. As a volcanic isle, the region is known for producing full-bodied and mineral-heavy wines, while meals revolve around fresh olive oil, garlic, fresh vegetables, meat and seafood.

Here’s how Celebrity’s Global Insiders recommend spending your time when docked in Santorini.

Julia Dimon CroppedJulia Dimon (Travel journalist and television personality)

Greece has some of the world’s most incredible cuisine so, when in the port of Santorini, foodies will want to enjoy all the local specialties. Start with a Taramosalata dip (fish roe pureed with lemon juice, oil and bread crumbs) and classic Greek salad before moving on to the Domatokeftedes, a fried tomato appetizer made from Santorini’s most famous vegetable. Choose from a mouth-watering supply of freshly-caught grilled fish like the Astakos (lobster). Drink up the Ouzo, a strong aniseed drink similar to French ‘Pastis’ before moving on to a carafe of Santorini’s homemade wine. Delicious cuisine set against a romantic backdrop of the southern Aegean Sea? Yes, please.

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Cork CitySt. Patrick’s Day 2015 may be over, but it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s festivities! And where better to celebrate than in the country where the holiday began? St. Patrick’s Day dates back to A.D. 461, when St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, passed away. The holiday was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. In the modern era, St. Patty’s is celebrated the world over with parades, festivals, special meal and drinks, wearing the color green and more.

We here at Celebrity Cruises® know the value of traditional cuisine and raucous good fun—not to mention a good Irish pint and pub—so we’re offering you the chance to experience Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day merriment just like a local with a bevy of different shore excursions in Cork (Cobh), Dun Laoghaire and Waterford (Dunmore East), Ireland. All excursions include a tasty spirit or two (as well as time to walk your drink off), so book your adventure today.

Get Corked

Jameson Irish Whiskey is the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey, so the Jameson Heritage Center—the highlight of Celebrity’s Cork City & Irish Whiskey shore excursion—is a must do for any hard liquor lover visiting the active seaside city of Cork. At the Center, visitors can learn all about the history of whiskey making via a guided tour through the Old Middleton Distillery and finish off the adventure with a glass of Jameson Whiskey. To complement the Jameson experience, tour guests also have the opportunity to see Cork’s old wharves and learn about the city’s role during the Irish War.

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Recipe: Slider Party

Qsine Slider Party

March Madness is upon us, and—starting today—the sports fans among us will watch on as regional “MVPs,” Kentucky, Villanova, Duke and Wisconsin battle it out over the coming weeks in the annual NCAA Division I college basketball tournament.

Hosting a March Madness party? Why not keep your guests nourished and pumped for their favorite teams, with a slider station, like the one featured in Celebrity Cruises’s Qsine restaurant.

INGREDIENTS

Beef Patty
3 ½ pounds lean chuck meat (ground)
½ pound beef fat (ground)
2 white onions (finely chopped)
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper (ground)

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Octopus and kiwi fishing excursion

Fans of Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” will no doubt be excited to learn of our new Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour for Alaska travelers. The adventure allows you to experience what life must be like for the crew aboard the infamous Aleutian Ballad, a commercial fishing boat that was featured on Season 2 of “Deadliest Catch.”

While on board, you’ll learn about the commercial fishermen’s unique adventures and watch the seasoned pros bait and retrieve crab “pots.” With any luck, you’ll be able to spot some other wildlife—including octopus, starfish, and eagles—while traveling through the Inside Passage; but if not, no worries—the fishermen’s catch will be displayed for all to see in an on-deck aquarium post “catch.”

One of the best parts of the shore excursion is the unique opportunity if offers to interact with the boat’s captain and crew. Seasoned veterans of the high seas all have fascinating stories to tell and are eager to teach landlubbers the ways of the Bering Sea. You’ll learn from their tales that the nail-bitingly dangerous moments you see on television are not exaggerated at all, and that there’s a reason why “crab fisherman” has frequently been named one of the deadliest jobs in the world.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your camera, some warm clothing, and a sturdy pair of boots, and prepare to be regaled with some wild fish tales and in-depth look at Alaska’s majestic marine life.

 

Sleeping TipsIsn’t it ironic that while we take vacations to relax, the changes in location and time zones can often lead to less—not more—sleep? However, visiting new countries and continents shouldn’t be exhausting. Here, Celebrity’s AXESS magazine presents four easy ways to get some quality shuteye while away from home.

ZONE IN

Since vacations are about temporarily cutting ties with the day to day, detach from your home time zone and reset to your destination’s by adjusting all of your time-telling devices to the local time. Experts also believe that simple things like sticking to a set schedule and taking in the sunsets help to reset your internal timer.

HEALTHY HABITS

Partaking in the party while on board may involve more alcohol than your body is used to; not to mention that delectable dining is most certainly on the schedule each and every day of your trip. But heavy foods eaten late at night along with too much imbibement are known to impede sleep. May we suggest this sage advice: everything in moderation.

BEDTIME PREP

Even if a morning shower is an essential step in your daily routine, clean skin slipping into fresh sheets at night can actually aid sleep. Remember to keep the water on the cool side as your internal temperature plays an important part in a good night’s rest, and perhaps incorporate some aromatherapy and herbal aids while you unwind under the shower. Lavender, chamomile, and valerian are known to have sedative properties, and melatonin has been linked to the regulation of circadian rhythms.

DOZING DEVICES

Ariana Huffington of Huffington Post fame reports that she packs extra scarves when she travels in order to make the room very dark. In addition, sleeping masks, ear plugs, and even bracelets like those that use Philip Stein’s Natural Frequency Technology can be effective ingredients in your getting the full forty winks no matter where you roam.

Image still courtesy of “All Is Full of Love” music video. 1999. Directed by Chris Cunningham. Music by Björk. Image courtesy of One Little Indian

Image still courtesy of “All Is Full of Love” music video. 1999. Directed by Chris Cunningham. Music by Björk. Image courtesy of One Little Indian

Perhaps Iceland’s most famous export is musician-actress Björk. Born in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1965, the artist has had 30 singles reach the Top 40 on various international pop charts, won a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, shown off her fashion quirkiness with a now-infamous swan dress at the 2001 Academy Awards, and released countless projects involving visuals, instruments, objects and performance, such as the music apps she created for her last album, a children’s education program and musical robots.

In appreciation of all Björk’s creative and artistic achievements, the Museum of Modern Art is launching a retrospective of her work that will run from March 8, 2015 to June 7, 2015. The exhibit will feature visual and audio samples from Björk’s 20-year career, including excerpts from her seven music albums (starting with 1993’s Debut to 2011’s Biophilia), various films, music videos, photography, fashion designs, and more.

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Pic for wine blogA wine’s flavor is largely defined by its terroir, i.e. the climate, soil, and terrain it grows in, all of which contribute to a particular grape’s taste and feel. Indeed, even the most miniscule of differences in temperature and soil acidity can produce significantly different wines. Accordingly, winemakers take special care to plant their vines in very specific locales to achieve the flavors they are looking for.

We here at Celebrity Cruises® can appreciate the extraordinary level of detail that goes into crafting an exquisite vintage blend. So, in keeping with our commitment to offer guests remarkable culinary experiences, we’re tipping our hat to some of the world’s most intriguing terroirs by offering shore excursions to two particularly unique wineries, both situated on volcanoes. Because volcanic soils are known for being rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium, the wines produced by grapes grown in this environment have strong flavors and mineral finishes.

If you’re cruising with us to Hawaii or on a Europe sailing that visits Naples, we invite you to grab your hiking boots and wine glasses and join us on one of these amazing tours.

Get Tropical

Vino-loving visitors to Hilo, Hawaii will no doubt want to take part in the Volcano Winery with Premium Wine Tasting excursion. The tasting includes a tour of Volcano Winery, which first started producing wines in 1986. Owned and operated by retired Oahu veterinarian, Lynn “Doc” McKinney, the vineyard produces extraordinary local vintages that you will, of course, get to sample. Situated 4,000 feet above sea level, Volcano Winery is America’s southernmost winery and offers visitors tropical wines that are blended with exotic fruits like yellow guava and the jaboticaba berry, as well as special “tea wines,” which are blended with 100% Hawaiian ingredients.

Finding Flavor Among the Ashes

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