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Don’t let the Carnival Cruise Line’s recent newsworthy items deter you from hitting the high seas. There are millions of cruises that sail each year without making the news. They have great customer service, activities for families, couples, and seniors, onboard entertainment, and unique ports around the world. Today we’ve rounded up the best of the best, from exotic international cruises to the always-popular beach destinations. Read more
There we were, in a packed funicular suspended hundreds of feet from the ground, gliding our way up to the Cristo Redentor statue towering atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, when my mischievous travel buddy leaned over and whispered, “I dare you to just start screaming.”
The image of that scenario – blasting out a blood-curdling scream to the baffled terror of my fellow passengers – cracked me up so much that I started laughing like a madwoman instead (which I’m sure seemed plenty disturbing in itself).
I still chuckle when I think about it, and although I opted not to scream that day, Norway’s tourism board, Visit Norway, is encouraging people all over the world to do just that, with the chance to win a trip to this spectacular Scandinavian country as incentive. The quirky tourism campaign, called “Scream Your Way to Norway” (warning: be careful clicking at work) is inspired by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, who painted (you guessed it) The Scream and would have turned 150 this year. Read more
For American travelers contending with a cutthroat dollar-to-kroner conversion rate, budget Norway travel may read somewhat as an oxymoron. Happily, a bit of budget-savvy planning can help you to tuck a few kroner away during your Norwegian stay.
Fresh off the boat (and train, bus, and ferry) from the country’s popular Norway in a Nutshell tour, which weaves together transportation, lodging, and activities for an unforgettable trip through western Norway’s breathtaking fjord, mountain, and coastal countryside, herewith the full report on how to best crunch those kroner and maximize your wow-factor stopovers when plotting your route.
Granted, a Norway in a Nutshell excursion won’t exactly cost you peanuts, but these money-saving travel tips can help ensure that what you do shell out for won’t leave you plain nuts. Read more
The rapidly expanding network of Scandinavian-based Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (branded simply as “Norwegian”) is about to get a major boost, with the announcement of 34 soon-to-launch routes set to roll out throughout the Nordic region. The new offerings are scheduled to kick off in March 2012, and will feature flights between cities in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland and the rest of Europe, bringing the tally of the airline’s robust network to nearly 300 routes, which spans North Africa and the Middle East, as well.
Some highlights from the new service will include: Bergen–Edinburgh; Oslo–Reykjavik; Stockholm–Corfu; Stockholm–Amsterdam; Copenhagen–Milan; Helsinki–Paris; and more. In addition to the service debuts, Norwegian will be adding capacity to 40 of its most frequented flight routes, with a particular emphasis on Mediterranean destinations. Starting rates are advertised from €27 ($37) one-way. Read more
Norwegians oohed and aahed as Hurtigruten’s cruise ship, the MS NordNorge, completed its 1,500-mile voyage through the icy blue waters of northern Europe’s Norwegian Sea this Wednesday. The fjord trip, entitled “Hurtigruten – Minute by Minute,” was broadcast live from June 16 to June 22 by Norway’s NRK TV station for a straight 134 hours and watched by a whopping 2.54 million Norwegians (over half of the country’s population!). Rune Moeklebust, project leader for the program at NRK, said his team wanted to convey the six-night journey in a way that would make its viewers feel like they were onboard the ship, which departed from Bergen in southwest Norway and finished at Kirkenes near the Russian border. The cruise line has been sailing the Norwegian coast since 1983. Similar voyages will be held year-round; rates start from $914/person. www.hurtigruten.com
New Year’s might seem far off, but for powder hounds, it can’t come soon enough – especially when there are deals to be had for booking some of 2011′s roster of gay ski weeks early. Some even start happening before your hangover has had time to subside. Details below.
Never been to a gay ski week? Looking for something more low key? Ski Bums, the nation’s largest LGBT ski and snowboarder organization, runs group trips across the country and select worldwide pilgrimages (Courchevel, France and heliskiing in Sweden are on tap for in 2011), as well as day trips from NYC, creating what amounts to a mini gay ski week in the process. A new California chapter launches next Friday, October 8 at Gym Sportsbar in WeHo, so West Coasters can start feeling the chilly thrills soon. Both black diamond masters and bunny hill newbies are welcome.
If you’ve always been intrigued by the Northern Lights, the curious phenomenon that turns the sky around the Arctic Circle a splendid panorama of green, red, and yellow hues, start packing the winter gear, because the best time to catch this elusive natural artwork is from October through March.
But, as anyone who’s in search of the lights, also called Aurora Borealis, will tell you, there are no guarantees. You need a cloudless sky, little or no moon, and luck. And because craning your neck in the sub-zero darkness will try the patience of even the most intrepid adventurer, your best bet is to pick a home base destination that has more than the lights to offer.
Here are a few destinations that offer good opportunities for both. And if you’re itching to see the lights but would rather not experience the bone-numbing temperatures of such chilly destinations, mark your calendar for this time in 2011. Every 11 years or so, the lights are spotted much further south than the Arctic Circle. So wherever in the world you happen to be in October through March of 2011, remember to look up, and you just might get lucky.
The Luxury What sets Hurtigruten apart from most cruise lines is that its ships are working ferries. So even though the onboard accommodations and restaurants are excellent, the ship’s distractions (such as shows or gambling) are few. Passengers can instead focus on experiencing Norway’s cities and fjords. The 11-day Norwegian Holiday itinerary begins in Oslo with two full days for sightseeing before the journey to Kirkenes and Bergen. Hurtigruten travel experts are on hand to help with planning. Or simply ask the locals.
The late summer months of August and September are an ideal time to visit Northern Europe. Temperatures are still warm and airlines launch abundant autumn fare sales, giving travelers a golden opportunity to snag reduced rates. To top it off, the European cruise season is winding down and cruise lines are making last-ditch efforts to fill cabins on the remaining ships. This 5-night sailing aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas has six sailing dates available to choose from, with prices starting from as little as $471.
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