carousel-mardi-grasWhether it’s chowing down on a tasty bowl of gumbo, listening to a jazz quartet in the French Quarter or touring the stately manors of the Garden District, New Orleans, Louisiana has an activity for everyone. As a city bursting with cultural and historical significance, New Orleans has been entertaining revelers for decades. Football fans come for the Sugar Bowl, foodies show up for the countless seafood festivals, music lovers appreciate the jazz and heritage festivals, and everyone gets amped up for Mardi Gras. (Celebrity guests can sign up now for our 2016 Mardi Gras signature sailing.)

The Big Easy is also known for its historical offerings. The city can trace its roots back to 1718—when the French founded the city as Nouvelle-Orléans—and today, visitors can still tour ornate 18th- and 19th-century plantations, above-ground cemeteries (including that of Marie Laveau, the legendary “voodoo queen”) and museums that chronicle the city’s past.

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

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Cozumel Seaside Chocolate Workshop Shore ExcursionNestled off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Cozumel is a cruise traveler’s paradise. With spectacular beaches and turquoise waters, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, this is the quintessential Caribbean destination, offering plenty of opportunities for exploration, entertainment, and relaxation. But while many favor this coastal enclave for the more typical types of activities it offers, such as snorkeling or sunbathing, we want you to experience a side of Cozumel few are privy to.

We’re firm believers in the “think outside the box” approach, a philosophy you’ll notice when exploring our Shore Excursion offerings. Our tours put a unique spin on traditional favorites and showcase each destination’s highlights in a unique way. If you’re thinking about visiting Cozumel on a Celebrity Cruises® vacation and want to enjoy a truly exceptional experience, check out these new tours that cater to the adventurous spirit—and palate.

If you have a sweet tooth, then you’ll love the chance to satisfy your craving—and then some—at the Chocolate Seaside Workshop, where you’ll savor delicious treats and a spectacular view. The Workshop takes place at a beautiful seaside terrace in Cozumel’s famous Stingray Bay. With a stunning ocean landscape to inspire you, you’ll learn about ancient Aztec and Mayan cocoa processing techniques and then try your hand at making your own confections. After, it’s time to tantalize your taste buds as you experience the incredible pairing of chocolate and red wine, sample different types of cocoa, and enjoy a Chocolate Martini with taco snacks. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

Looking for some family fun? Our Amazing Race Family Tour Challenge offers the perfect blend of excitement, exploration, and friendly competition. Inspired by the top-rated “The Amazing Cozumel Race” competition, this unique shore excursion will have you going head-to-head with other families and groups on a scavenger hunt across the city’s top landmarks and attractions, including the Cozumel Museum, city center, Municipal Market, a glass bottom boat, and even a sunken ship. Each site features a clue and the solution leads to a new location, clue, or challenge. The first team to complete the challenge wins the race. But don’t worry, even if you don’t come in first place the top finishers still receive exciting prices.

Not only will you discover Cozumel’s top highlights and culture with these two Shore Excursions, but best of all, you’ll connect with your loved ones. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Caribbean BeachCelebrity has 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. This group—known as Celebrity’s Global Insiders—share their favorite finds around the globe so that you can travel like a pro, crafting unique and memorable experiences in key destinations on all seven continents. 

With no two Caribbean islands being alike, travel to this tropical region can bring you a variety of fun adventures—the Cayman Islands are a scuba diver’s paradise, St. Kitts boasts lush rainforests and sprawling sugarcane fields, and Puerto Rico has endless Spanish mansions to tour. Each country also has its distinct shopping ports as well as its own signature meal. The latter is often referred to as each island’s national dish,and is based on its island’s history. With this region being colonized by various countries in years gone by, oftentimes these dishes feature a unique mixture of Indian, African, British, Spanish, and Chinese flavors.

Even Celebrity’s Global Insiders can’t agree on their favorite experiences when visiting the region. Here is a sampling of how they recommend spending your time when traveling in the Caribbean.

MARC MURPHY CroppedMarc Murphy (Executive Chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants)

Cuz’s, in Bridgetown, Barbados, is the quintessential beach shack. It’s perfect for lunch during a day on the beach. Get the fish cutter sandwich, fried fish with or without cheese and up the ante with a perfect fried egg; You won’t be disappointed.

If you’re looking for authentic, local food in a laid-back setting, then Caribbean Blend restaurant in St. Maarten is going to be the perfect spot.  Here, the grill master prepares everything from the center of the open air dining room and the smells from the barbecue are sure to get your juices going. Go traditional and order the jerk chicken or the ribs seasoned with a mix of Caribbean and Cajun Creole, both are spicy and absolutely delicious.

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carib fish tacoCaribbean cuisine belongs to a tasty class of food that’s all its own. Influenced by the many cultures of peoples who have settled in the islands, Caribbean dishes are often a mix of Indian, African, British, Spanish, and Chinese flavors—with an indigenous island twist. Popular ingredients include rice, plantains, beans, and more, while commonly-used seasonings include garlic, onion, scotch bonnet peppers, and many others.

While many Caribbean recipes, like Jamaican jerk chicken, require hours of marinating, a quick way to get a taste for Caribbean flavors is through an easy, but delicious grilled fish taco, topped with a Caribbean salsa.  À la carte fried plantains are optional.

Try a Caribbean-flavored dish the next time you’re back aboard a Celebrity ship, or try making the below recipes—which our chefs prepare for guests at sea—at home.

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Courtesy of Ocean Volvo Race

Courtesy of Volvo Ocean Race

Abu Dhabi will be the place to be for New Years Day. The city will play host to the Volvo Ocean Race, a crewed international yacht race that only takes every three years, this December through January. Previously known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, the competition spans four oceans, five continents, nine legs, 11 ports and 38,739 nautical miles—hence the event’s nickname: “The Everest of Sailing.” Like Formula One races, competitors are awarded points based on their finishing order in each leg of the competition. The team with the highest number of points is

This year’s race started in Alicante, Spain on October 4, 2014 and will finish in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015. Seven teams  are currently racing around the world for the top prize, including Team SCA—the first all-female team to participate since 2001-02—and Team Alvimedica, skippered by 29-year-old Brown University alumnus Charlie Enright. Vestas Wind, the Danish team, is currently lagging behind after crashing  into a reef in the Indian Ocean.

To celebrate the race’s next stopover in Abu Dhabi, marking the end of the second of nine legs, the city has planned a 23-day celebration running from Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 to Saturday, January 3, 2015. Events range from a concert performance of the BBC’s nature series “Blue Planet, as accompanied by award-winning conductor George Fenton and the 75-piece National Symphony Orchestra, as well as animals talks about turtles and falcons.

From Abu Dhabi, the sailors will set course for Sanya, China and Auckland, New Zealand, where similar celebration are planned.

 

 

AbuDhabi

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

Quickly becoming one of the most urbanized cities in the world, Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest city in the United Arab Emirates. “Abu Dhabi” means “Father of the Gazelle” in Arabic, and the city was largely a sleepy rural settlement until 1958, when the rich oil fields were discovered in the region, galvanizing an economic and cultural revolution.

Today, Abu Dhabi boasts opulent shopping malls, plentiful water activities, impressive architectural feats, and quirky to-see-is-to-believe sites like ROGO’s, the roller coaster restaurant. While here, you can also visit the world’s fastest roller coaster, the world’s furthest leaning man-made tower and the Yas Marina Circuit, home to the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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taj_mahalTraveling to Asia on a Celebrity Cruises vacation anytime soon? If so, we’ve got an array of exciting destination experiences that will ignite your sense of adventure, exploration, and wonder. From the fabled lands of Cambodia to the luminous metropolis of Tokyo, our unique Shore Excursions in Asia will show you a side of the Far East you never dreamed possible. Here’s a look at three of our most incredible tours.

Tokyo Geisha Performance and Dinner: When visiting Tokyo, this Shore Excursion is not to be missed. Step back in time and watch ancient Japanese traditions come to life before your eyes as you are treated to a centuries-old Geisha performance and Kaiseki, cuisine so sensational it’s considered an art form. The cultural and culinary adventure begins at a restaurant in downtown Tokyo, where you’ll savor a traditional Kaiseki meal, “The Japanese Art of Food”. Afterward, beautiful Geishas clad in typical Japanese kimonos will regale you with an incredible music and dance performance. A magical evening of extraordinary cuisine and entertainment awaits you with this spectacular Shore Excursion. Read More

Silk Beef Chow Mein

It’s easy to get a little fed up with all the festive foods by mid-December—all that turkey, stuffing, appetizers… and don’t even begin to think about all the champagne and cocktails you have washed that down with!

INGREDIENTS

Beef Marinade
1 pound beef flank steak (thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
As needed oil for frying

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 Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi, November 5, 2014–January 19, 2015 Photo: Erik and Petra Hesmerg, courtesy Abu Dhabi Tourism & Cultural Authority

Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection
Photo: Erik and Petra Hesmerg, courtesy Abu Dhabi Tourism & Cultural Authority

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the city’s newest (and largest) modern art museum recently debuted its first exhibit, despite not yet officially opening its doors. “Seeing Through Light: Selections form the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection,” a curated exhibit showcasing exemplary pieces by 19 international artists whose work has been inspired by the idea of “light,”opened on November 5 at the Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, and will run through January 19, 2015. The exhibit, which is divided into five sections: Perceptual, Reflected, Transcendent, Activated and Celestial, includes works by the following artists:

  • Larry BellDan FlavinRobert IrwinKeith Sonnier, and Douglas Wheeler, all early practitioners of the light art movement, in “Perceptual Light”
  • Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, who were active in the 1960s as founders of the Zero group, as well as Ghada Amer and Rachid Koraïchi in “Reflected Light”
  • Monir FarmanfarmianSamia HalabyShirazeh Houshiary, and Z. Kami, all of whom use light thematically to explore the contemplative, in “Transcendent Light”
  • Angela BullochHassan Khan, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, whose artwork depends on advanced technologies to activate light, in “Activated Light”
  • Bharti KherYayoi Kusama, and Song Dong, who use a range of media to produce artworks that emulate the infinite, in “Celestial Light”

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Kobe Japan

Celebrity has 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. This group—known as Celebrity’s Global Insiders—share their favorite finds around the globe so that you can travel like a pro, crafting unique and memorable experiences in key destinations on all seven continents. 

Perched on a hillside overlooking the sea, Kobe is one of Japan’s most attractive and cosmopolitan cities. Home to two world-renowned food and drink offerings—Kobe beef and sake—this small, yet metropolitan city offers visitors a variety of incredible restaurants, kuras (or breweries) and nightclubs. Plus, given Kobe’s small size, most of its main attractions are within walking distance of the main train stations.

Here’s how Celebrity’s Global Insiders recommend spending your time when docked in Kobe, Japan.

MARC MURPHY CroppedMarc Murphy (Executive Chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants)

Kobe is a beautiful port city that’s full of cosmopolitan charm and international flavor. As its name suggests, it’s also known for its exquisite Kobe beef. Be sure to treat yourself to this local delicacy at least once during your visit. You can’t go wrong at Kobe Ishidaya, where the meat is cooked on a teppanyaki grill. The perfect accompaniment to any meal in Kobe is sake, as this is also one of Japan’s top sake producing areas.

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