Thursday, June 30, 2016

Coming to America

America in Images

As the 4th of July holiday approaches, we scanned through our photo archives for a few fitting memories from past trips.

These images were captured during one of our cruises out of New York.   Just imagine what the immigrants who were coming to America thought as they saw Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. 

Statue of Liberty

On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated.  It was later designated as a National Monument in 1924, restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986, and in 2011, underwent a renovation of the 125 year old pedestal and the 200 year old fort base from which the statue rises.

A gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States... The Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.
 Sailing in or out of NY Harbor is something you should put on your bucket list if you haven't already done so.  Some cruises that you could select include trans-Atlantic voyages, Bermuda, and Canada / New England itineraries.
What Images of America come to your mind?

If you like Travel & Photography join us each Friday for #FriFotos and on Monday for #Travelpics!


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For some thoughts on the 4th of July, see our previous blog post:

Land of the Free Because of the Brave

Welcome New Followers

#SocialMediaDay 2016 

To Our New Followers

We'd like to welcome new readers to our Blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, Pinterest, and website, on this #SocialMediaDay.   We look forward to socializing more with you in the future to help plan a great cruise or land vacation for you and your traveling companions. We've included links here with a brief explanation of some of the resources we offer to our followers.   Please be sure to take advantage of all these opportunities, as that is the best way to stay informed.
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If you haven’t signed up for our eSavers Newsletter yet, be sure to do so. This is just one of our communication vehicles to keep you informed about industry news and special offers for our loyal followers. By signing up for our newsletter you are also entered into our quarterly contest to win a free trip.

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Each week we post images from our trips and participate in several travel chats on Twitter.

Take advantage of these resources to assist in you in planning your dream vacations.  Of course, we are always available to answer any questions you might have about travel and the industry.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Kinderdijk - Old Meets New

click images to enlarge
Kinderdijk Windmills
Unique & Iconic Water Management

Much of Holland is below sea level, but yet it doesn't flood.  Why?  A visit to Kinderdijk gives you the extraordinary opportunity to visit a UNESCO World Heritage in Holland and answer the question for yourself.

During your visit you can see 19 windmills from the 18th century and even go inside one to see what it was like to live there.
Read More: Inside a Kinderdijk Windmill

Nowhere else in the world can you find the complete history of water management at a single location. The windmills and pumping stations drain the excess water from the Alblasserwaard into the river Lek via the Elshout sluices. Subsequently, the river discharges the water into the sea.

There is a wealth of information on Kinderdijk's website.  You can even play the Battle Below Sealevel Game to explore the timeline. 

Our Second Visit

During our Avalon Waterways Rhine & Moselle river cruise, we stopped in Kinderdijk on our way to Amsterdam.   We had visited before during our previous cruise to Holland during tulip time.   This is a destination that can be visited multiple times and still leaving more to be explored.

Tip:  Purchase a ticket for one or both of the Tourist Vessels

The Canal Hopper Prins Friso takes you to four of our visiting points. The electric ‘whisper’ boat starts at our Visitor Centre Wisboom and then sails to the Parking Area, Museum Mill Nederwaard, Musuem Mill Blokweer and back to the Visitorcentre. You can get on and off at all visiting points. The Prins Friso is an open ‘terrace’boat. It completes its tour in 30 minutes and is suitable for wheelchairs.
The Canal Cruiser (Ferry No 6) takes you for a tour that starts and ends at the Parking Area. It takes you along the windmills in about half an hour. 

We have yet to do this - since we were part of an organized tour.  We could have gone on our own and had time to do at least one of the boat rides.   Learn More

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page:

Inside Kinderdijk Mill

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Flag Day in the USA

Flag Flying over Fort McHenry

June 14th is Flag Day.   President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14, 1916, to be a national celebration of the American flag, and the 1949 Congress declared June 14 to be national Flag Day every year.  This day commemorates the day the Second Continental Congress authorized the United States of America to adopt a flag to represent the new nation.


Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

We had the opportunity to visit Fort McHenry during our post cruise stay in Baltimore, MD after a recent cruise.

The flag pictured above was flown over the fort.   We were fortunate to be there for the lowering of the flag and raising of a much smaller flag that would fly through the evening hours.

O Say, Can You See?

When you visit Fort McHenry, you can learn all about the birth of our National Anthem.  

click images to enlarge

O say can you see, by the dawns early light, a large red, white and blue banner? Whose broad stripes and bright stars . . . were so gallantly streaming! over the star-shaped Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, September 13-14, 1814. The valiant defense of the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner.

This was an impressive flag ceremony.   I suggest you include a visit to Fort McHenry when visiting Baltimore.    Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas and Carnival Pride have several sailings from Baltimore, so why not include a cruise in your plans and learn about our nation's history at the same time.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Artistry II Farewell Dinner

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Farewell Artistry II 

Not our last dinner onboard but the most suitable evening for this special treat. 

We enjoyed our Farewell Dinner on Avalon Artistry II as we sailed from Kinderdijk, Netherlands to Hoorn where we would spend the night.

Before dessert, the Hotel Director thanked us for sailing and recognized the staff that had taken care of us for the two weeks.

We met many new friends during the two weeks onboard the ship.  Also we had a fabulous crew.

Rhine & Moselle River Cruise Play all

Video Diary of Avalon Rhine & Moselle River Cruise on Artistry II. This was a 13 day river cruise that started in Zurich, Switzerland and concluded in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Avalon Artistry II Crew Show

Crew Talent Show

Entertainment on a river cruise is unlike that onboard an ocean cruise ship. It is much more personal. During our sail from Cologne, Germany to the Netherlands, there was a very special show - the Crew Talent Show. If you don't attend any other shows during your voyage, you won't want to miss this one. They put their heart and soul into providing the passengers with a good time. Watch these videos for a taste of the talent onboard Avalon Artistry II.

In this next portion of the talent show, sit back, close your eyes and you will think "What a Wonderful World".  In the background, you'll see river traffic going by as we cruise along the Rhine.

Watch more videos from the talent show as well as other highlights on our YouTube channel.

Rhine & Moselle River Cruise Play all

Video Diary of Avalon Rhine & Moselle River Cruise on Artistry II. This was a 13 day river cruise that started in Zurich, Switzerland and concluded in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Avalon Wheel House

Wheel House Visit 

During our afternoon sail from Cologne, Germany, there was an Open House in the Wheel House of Avalon Artistry II. We were able to ask the First Captain about how the ship was operated. We had our own birds eye view of the ship's operations. Note that on the river boat, an engine room visit is not possible, but this was certainly a treat.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Avalon Dinner in Königswinter

Overnight in Königswinter

Continuing our Avalon Waterways River Cruise on the Rhine & Moselle Rivers

After returning form our
Cogwheel to Dragons Castle tour, it was time to get ready for the evening events.   As usual there was a Port Talk describing the next day's program which was followed by another spectacular German dinner.


The Chef's Recommendation for the evening was "Sauerbraten", a traditional German meal:

Braised Topside of Beef Marinated in Red Wind & Vinegar Served with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings.

Starters were Chicken Liver Parfait, Avalon Caesar Salad, Farfalle Pasta, and Brushette with Curd Tomato Tapenade.

The Soup selections were Veal Bouillon and Cream of Leek with Garlic Croutons.

click on images to enlarge

As you can see we complemented the meal with a nice glass of wine and selection from the Dessert choices: Cheese Platter, Pancakes Filled with Rum Raisin and Hazelnut Cream and Vanilla Sauce, Salad of Dried Apricots and Plums, Yogurt Ice Cream with Berries, and Freshly Sliced Fruits. This was definitely one of our favorite meals during the cruise.

The evening concluded with the swing band "Funky Groove Band" providing entertainment in the lounge followed by Late Night Snacks.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Celebrate World Ocean Day 2016

NOAA Ocean Today video: 'Celebrate World Ocean Day -- June 8'

Know Your Ocean
True or False?  
Earth has five separate oceans
Ocean is blue because of the sky
Sea floor is flat
Saltwater is water & table salt 
Watch Video for Answers

June is "National Oceans Month" - Know your ocean!

Make an ocean promise, 
take a selfie for the sea

We all love the ocean. It takes care of us - by providing food, medicine, oxygen and fresh air, transportation, communication… not to mention fun, recreation, and inspiration! The ocean links people all over the world together, and we couldn’t survive without it.

This World Oceans Day, give back to the ocean by promising to do at least one thing in your life to help keep it healthy. A healthy ocean means healthy humans, dolphins, corals, turtles, fish, and other wildlife for the future. So, pick a promise and post a selfie on social media to share how you’re doing your part for our ocean.

We also encourage you to post your own selfies (and tag #WorldOceansDay and/or link to and retweet others.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Florida Braces for Tropical Storm Colin

Tropical Storm COLIN
TS Colin courtesy NHC  -   Interactive

Tropical Storm COLIN

Despite the prediction of a near-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season, the NHC is issuing advisories on the third named tropical storm for this season.   Colin formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday and has set it's sights on Florida.   Heavy rains, flooding, and rough seas are predicted for today, Monday June 6th.

Update Tuesday Morning: Colin is moving up the East Coast and is now soaking North Carolina. Some increase in strength is expected during the next 24 hours. However, Colin is also expected to lose its tropical cyclone characteristics today.

As of this initial posting, the cruise lines have not made any itinerary changes, but they will undoubtedly be keeping a watchful eye on the storm as it develops.

NHC issuing advisories for the Atlantic on TS COLIN


Full coverage of this, and all tropical storms, can be found on our Hurricane Zone page.   There are RSS feeds from the National Hurricane Center posted there giving you up to the minute information.   For storms that impact cruises, we will bring you information on those details as well.  Please bookmark that page for further reference during the Hurricane Season which runs now through November 30th.

Tropical Storm COLIN
800 AM EDT TUE JUN 07 2016



A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Surf City to Oregon Inlet North Carolina

No Cruise Ship Impact Reported
Storm Archive       Graphics Archive



RAINFALL: Colin is expected to produce additional rainfall amounts
of 1 to 3 inches across eastern North Carolina and central Florida
through today.

STORM SURGE: The combination of a storm surge and the tide will
cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising
waters.  The water could reach the following heights above ground if
the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

Apalachicola to Naples Florida...1 to 2 ft.

Localized coastal flooding and dangerous surf are possible along the
Atlantic coast of North Carolina within the tropical storm warning

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast.
Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge
and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.  For
information specific to your area, please see products issued by
your local National Weather Service forecast office.

WIND: Tropical storm conditions could occur over portions of the
warning area this morning.

TORNADOES: A tornado or two will remain possible across parts of
the coastal Carolinas today.

Historical Notes:

1000 AM CDT SUN JUN 05 2016

100 PM CDT SUN JUN 05 2016

430 PM CDT SUN JUN 05 2016

1000 PM CDT SUN JUN 05 2016


700 AM CDT MON JUN 06 2016

1000 AM CDT MON JUN 06 2016

1100 PM EDT MON JUN 06 2016


500 AM EDT TUE JUN 07 2016


Sunday, June 5, 2016

D-Day Then and Now 72 Years Later

D-Day Landing Beaches Then & Now

72nd Anniversary
June 6, 2016

On June 6, 1944, D-Day, my father landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. He never spoke much about that day, other than to say that his tank had sunk, he had been rescued, and was redeployed. He was in his early 20s at the time.

Today marks another anniversary of D-Day, the day that the allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to begin to take back Europe.   The generation that fought that battle are slowly fading away, leaving only written accounts in their place.

My father is among those who are no longer with us. He and his comrades live on in our hearts as we honor them today during the commemoration of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.  On the occasion of the 72nd Anniversary, many surviving soldiers have gathered to participate in various events.

  Retracing History

My parents went back to Normandy many years later for the 40th anniversary observance.  He visited the grave of his commanding officer in the American Cemetery (shown to the left).   Despite all his bravery, that sight moved him to tears. My husband and I returned to Omaha Beach and several historic sites in Normandy, France for the 60th anniversary.

This was a very moving experience for us as well and it brought to life events which until then was just something we read about in history books.

That trip was in conjunction with a 12 Night British Isles / Norwegian Fjords cruise.   We arranged for a private tour with a local guide during which we walked on the beaches, visited all four of the cemeteries and other memorial sites.

Normandy Then & Now

The benefit of using a local guide was that we not only visited the various sites, but were also provided historical background, through images from 1944 so that we could experience Normandy in a totally different way.

Must See Sites

Our guide picked us from our ship in LeHarve early in the morning and returned us there in early evening.   He could have gone longer, but we were tired and decided to return to the ship instead of having dinner in Honfleur.

72nd Anniversary Links:

D-Day 72nd anniversary - 2016 - Normandy commemorations

June 2016 Events - Normandy

National D-Day Memorial


More Coverage  on Twitter      @ChrisPappinMCC

D-Day Landing - Arnhem (Groesbeek) - Liberation Museum


Powerful interactive exhibit on and Invasion from & is available here:


Explore artifacts, oral histories, and more from The National WWII Museum D-Day:  

In honor of this Anniversary of D-Day, we have updated links in our previous blog articles and also gathered all our photo albums on a Shutterfly Share Page.

Read More on our Blog:

Normandy, France - Retracing History

Our tour started with visits to all three cemeteries:

The British Cemetery (Bayuex War Cemetary)
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
German Cemetery (La Cambe German Cemetery)

Normandy, France - Retracing History (Part 2)

Not far from  Normandy Beaches we stopped at:

Le Grand Bunker Museum 
Pegasus Bridge
Normandy, France - Retracing History (Part 3)

We concluded our Normandy visit with three destinations:
St Mere Eglise
Pointe du Hoc
Honfleur, France

D-Day      6 June 1944

The beaches were quiet the day we visited the Normandy Beaches unlike the early morning hours in 1944. I encourage you to include a visit to Normandy should your cruise call in LeHavre, France.  Bring the entire family, especially children, so that they can bring history to life.

The Landing Zones:

Utah beach    Pointe du Hoc   Omaha beach    Gold beach   Juno beach   Sword beach

Some More D-Day References on the Web
Tuesday June 6, 1944 : minute per minute
Normandie Mémoire
National D-Day Mermorial Foundation
Previous D-Day Posts