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TRAVEL BLOG

The Leader of Luxury Cruises Raises the Bar

We don’t often spotlight just one company, but Regent Seven Seas Cruises is making us—the behind the scenes travel aficionados—very excited. The latest addition to the fleet, the Seven Seas Explorer, is cited as “the world’s most luxurious cruise ship” and is opening it’s inaugural Mediterranean season this Spring with a particular culinary focus. As the company announces something new, they are also upgrading something ‘old,’ committing $125 million to remodel the other three ships, bringing a consistent look and feel across the intimate fleet. But what we are really excited about is the Gourmet Explorer Tours offered this Spring with the Seven Seas Explorer.

3 RSSC ships

Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager, and Seven Seas Mariner are undergoing at $125 million remodel in the next 24 months

Each of the ships has a strong Culinary Arts Kitchen, which allows guests to explore the destination and local culture through its culinary offerings, wherever the cruise may take you. The newest ship joining the fleet this Spring, the Seven Seas Navigator, will take that program to the next level. “Our tours were expertly crafted to provide our guests with unique opportunities to dine at a highly coveted and world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurant, visit iconic markets and palatial vineyard estate homes, and learn from some of Europe’s premier chefs with personalized, hands-on instruction,” says Jason Montague, president and COO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

regent chefs for blog

food2

These trips, called the Gourmet Explorer Tours, are designed for guests seeking unique, one-of-a-kind epicurean adventures ashore to complement the unrivaled culinary experiences found aboard. To take the experience above and beyond, each Gourmet Explorer Tour will be accompanied by the chief instructor from the Culinary Arts Kitchen and a local guide, often a chef, with intimate knowledge of the region’s agriculture, wine and cuisine, to add an extra layer of authenticity to this immersive culinary experience.

So you can feel as excited as we are, see some of the highlighted stops to be found along this dream voyage in the Mediterranean. Foodies beware!

  • Sorrento, Italy – Become immersed in the unique cuisine of Campagnia by making cheese at the artisanal fromagerie, watching a culinary demonstration by a master chef, and wining and dining amid the luxury gardens of the stunning Don Alfonso.
  • Monte Carlo, Monaco – Wine tasting at Cave Bianchi in Nice followed by dinner at the famed La Chèvre d’Or restaurant highlight a special night out with fellow foodies. Guests gain an appreciation for local and traditionally-inspired dishes hand-selected for the evening affair.
  • Saint Tropez, France – Bask in an evening of ultimate gourmand indulgence on the luxurious French Riviera. Taste three Provence varietals at the famed La Croix winery, and then enjoy a gourmet dining experience at the renowned La Vague d’Or, a Michelin 3-star restaurant in the heart of Saint Tropez.
  • Barcelona, Spain – Enjoy the gloriously rich Catalan culinary scene with guided strolls through the famed Boqueria and Santa Caterina markets, followed by an unforgettable lunch and kitchen tour from Chef Jordi Cruz at ABaC, a famed 2-star Michelin restaurant.
  • Palamos, Spain – For an intimate look at this beguiling region, guests enjoy a tasting at an artisanal olive oil producer before enjoying a cooking demonstration and 7-course tasting menu luncheon in the magical, stone-walled village of Madremanya.

Tip from a Travel Agent: Usually “all-inclusive” implies a sliding scale of amenities you select (and pay for) beforehand, but Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the only truly all-inclusive cruise line, meaning everything from airfare to unlimited shore excursions (unheard of) to all-access gourmet dining to gratuity is paid for in your initial fare. To those looking to really getaway for a once in a lifetime experience, this company offers it.

Update: Santa Barbara Travel Bureau is hosting an event February 2nd! Wine and Food with a Travel Twist, where you can learn about all-inclusive sailing and life on board luxurious Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Discover their new itineraries and special offers. Meet the travel experts of Santa Barbara Travel and the Sales Manager from Regent Seven Seas Cruises. RSVP details here on our events page.

Travel Advisor Trip Review– 7 Nights Aboard the AmaBella with AmaWaterways

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau Advisor, Nancy Herrmann, recently visited the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Hungary through a 7-Night voyage aboard the AmaBella. Beginning with three days in Prague, ending with three days in Budapest, with 7 days of stops along the Danube River on a river cruise by AmaWaterways. Below, Nancy shares her highlights of the trip, favorite cities, and tips to get the most out of cruise trips.

Three Days in Prague, the “City of Spires”

Prague

The AmaWaterways cruise started on the Danube River in Germany, but we chose to fly into Prague, Czech Republic to spend a few days in “The City of 100 Spires.” Any time you travel for a cruise, I highly recommend choosing a few destinations to explore at the beginning and/or end. If you are making the trip, make it a journey!

The historic center of Prague, a UNESCO World Heritage site, dates back well over 1000 years. In the 14th century it was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and since has seen many upswings and falls of power throughout history. The most recent notable rise was in 1989 with the end of forty-one years of communist rule, yet the beauty and charm of the Old Town remains.

Nancy room

Accommodation: We stayed at the Pachtuv Palace for our three nights in Prague. Although our room showed definite signs of wear and tear, this hotel offers impeccable service, very large rooms and is walking distance to the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square.

 

Regensburg, Germany

From Prague, we boarded a bus for the transfer to our awaiting longship. After about two hours on the road, we stopped in Regensburg, Germany for a quick tour of the city and a lunch break. Beautiful, quiet town with an incredible waterway.

regensberg collage

 

The Cruise with AmaWaterways

Did You Know?  The word ‘Ama’ stems from the Latin “Amare,” meaning “to love.” In other words, AmaWaterways means “to love waterways” (not A.M.A. which could be confused..). That is what this river cruise line is all about: ensuring their customers love to travel on water as much as they do.

Cruise Theme: This particular cruise was a Wine Themed sailing with Aver Vineyards from Gilroy, CA on board and it required attendance at a special one hour Seminar on the River.

Service: The level of hospitality and attention to detail was remarkable. The crew was professional, attentive and charming, with a perpetual sense of good humor! Each day began with a genuine smile and cheery “good morning” from the housekeeper. Each stateroom was neat and clean, all day, every day. The bartenders and wait staff did everything they could to make us feel comfortable and well fed. We even struck up a rapport with a waiter on the first day who, much to his dismay I’m sure, ended up with us at his dinner table the entire cruise! Our table guests changed, but clearly, Aleksander enjoyed us as much as we did him.

Accommodations: For the next seven nights, we were housed in a Twin Balcony Stateroom that features both a French Balcony and a separate outside balcony, allowing incredible views right from our room throughout the journey. Talk about being on the water!

On Board Travel Tips: All inclusive pricing really helps you relax on vacation, and quite a few of your usual necessities are provided. All staterooms are equipped with a hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers and a safe. Your bathroom offers a magnifying mirror and spa-quality toiletries including soaps, body wash, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion that are replenished as needed. On European ships, a computer is provided in each stateroom that has high-speed Internet access and complimentary WiFi is available throughout the ship, albeit somewhat slow most of the time due to the fact that everyone uses it at the same time.

Meal Time: Meals are served in the main dining room three times a day, and as in usual cruising fashion, there are snacks available in the lounge throughout the day and late into the evenings. All drinks, including premium wines, beer and spirits are included with your meals. Coffees and hot chocolate from a dispenser, teas and water are available all day. Additional drinks can be bought in the lounge at very affordable prices; about $6 for a glass of wine and from $4-$15 for premium drinks.

Map of the 7-Night Cruise along the Danube River

Map of the 7-Night Cruise along the Danube River

First Highlight: Passau, Germany A typically quaint city on the Danube with some dubious history that includes tales about Hitler and Napoleon. The city floods often, most recently in 2013, where the water was so high, the town had to shut down!

Second Highlight: Salzburg, Austria Music fans ourselves, we chose to visit Salzburg, home of Mozart, ‘The Sound of Music’ and visited our first Christmas Market. The city has changed a bit since my last visit almost 30 years ago, but it is still charming.  If you aren’t as enthralled with Mozart as we were, we recommend the day trip to the picturesque Cesky Kymlov in the Czech Republic.

abby

Third Stop: Melk, Hungary Melk was one of our favorite stops, with its historic Abbey and fairytale town and began our favorite day.

wachau valley

Sailing the Wachau Valley: After a morning in Melk, the afternoon was spent sailing through the beautiful Wachau Valley, with incredible views past rolling hills, beautiful baroque churches, vineyards and ancient castles. Ruins of the 12th Century Durnstein Castle, atop the highest hill, was a great photo-op before floating into the striking town of Durnstein. History has it that King Richard the Lion-Hearted was imprisoned in the castle by Leopold V, the Duke of Austria, in 1192. That same evening, we did a special wine tasting at Castle Gobelsburg, then we set sail overnight to Vienna.

castle bodelsburg

The Journey Continued in Budapest

The last day and night of the cruise was spent in Budapest. This beautiful city was indeed at the top of our list! Thankfully, we planned to spend an extra few nights here after the cruise, so we didn’t have to extend the trip– We loved it so much we would have!

Highlights of Budapest

  1. Cruising the river at night
  2. Hungarian goulash soup making at the Sofitel (we have the aprons and hats to prove it!)
  3. Strolling through the Christmas markets
  4. Best dinner of our entire vacation (during our own 2 night extension)!
  5. Lights, sights, bridges and so much more!

budapest

All in all, this was a fantastic trip! In my opinion, AmaWaterways is great for travelers who want to take it easy, have some good food and sit back and relax, with the average age for a European river cruise at 55+. Although there are some things for the younger set to do while off the ship, because these longships have limited public space, there is not much to do while on board. If that is not a concern, it’s a great way to discover some great places in Europe!

If you have any questions about the trip, please call Nancy Herrmann at 805.966.3116 or email her at nherrmann@sbtravel.com or see her trip details on her Facebook page

Stollen Memories

Are holidays for you – as they are for us – all about the food?  As the years go by, it seems the strongest memories of holidays past revolve around what we ate and drank, as well as the people we spent them with.

Last week, we posted a Santa Barbara Travel trip report from our advisor, Cathy Kroll.  She wrote all about her gluwein-filled riverboat cruise, as she visited the Christmas markets along the Danube River.  Cathy sailed with AMAWaterways, and this week we bring you a blog post written by the owner of that company.  It was originally published on AMAWaterways‘ website, but we’ve asked to reprint it here: her description of a favorite childhood treat is so vivid, we can almost taste it!

Stollen Memories

by Kristin Karst, Executive Vice President and co-owner of AMA Waterways, originally posted on 12/27/13

The holidays may be over, but as friends and guests return from their Christmas Market cruises, their suitcases stuffed with handmade ornaments and delicious seasonal treats, I am reminded of my childhood in Germany. Thought I would share some of these memories with you!

My hometown of Dresden is famous for its stollen, a moist cake made with dried fruit, nuts and spices and topped with powdered sugar.  The Dresden Stollen is an old, old tradition that dates back to 1474. The cake can be quite dense and heavy – nearly 4 ½ pounds! – and it still is my favorite dessert during the Christmas season. But it has to be the “official” cake, which is only available at select bakeries in Germany. My mom always sends one of these stollen cakes every year to my home in California, so that our family can enjoy this special treat when we are at home during the holidays.

pic_travelogue_stollen_2

Dresden holds a Stollenfest every year, which in itself has a fascinating history. During the reign of Augustus II the Strong (1670-1733), he ordered the Bakers’ Guild of Dresden to create a gigantic stollen for everyone in the city to enjoy. They had to build a special oven and design a huge knife to accommodate this massive cake, which was large enough to feed 24,000 people! Today, Dresden bakers continue this tradition by baking a stollen that weighs an astonishing 6000 pounds! It’s paraded by horse and carriage to the Christmas  Market, where it is ceremoniously cut into pieces and handed out to the crowd.

Where else but Europe would you experience such wonderful things? This is one of the many reasons why our Christmas Markets cruises are so popular. Many of our guests have taken these cruises multiple times, eager to experience the magic of Christmas in Europe again and again. We love that our cruises have become an annual tradition for our guests!

Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

 

dresden2

Australia: A Land of Surprises

“It was a country of continual surprises”, says Travel Advisor Erin Zetter, just returned from Australia.  Erin was one of only 60 agents from throughout the US and Canada invited to travel down under on Travel2’s ‘Amazing Aussie Adventure’.  Visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Ayres Rock, and the Wolgan Valley in a small group of 10 Virtuoso agents, Erin’s preconceptions of  Australia were challenged – and in a good way.

Erin at a Camel Farm

Erin at a Camel Farm

“First,” says Erin, “I was astonished at the amount of wildlife.  We went on a night safari drive to see the nocturnal animals, and then a nature walk the next morning to see kangaroos, wallaby and wombats.  We also visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park, where I was thrilled to be able to feed kangaroos (from ice-cream cones!) right out of my hands.  I originally thought, though, that the wildlife in Australia would be rather elusive.  But when we went to the Blue Mountains I couldn’t believe the number of kangaroos you could see – they were everywhere, in the hundreds.  I could even see them from right outside my room!”

Ern gets to hand feed a kangaroo.

Ern gets to hand feed a kangaroo.

 

“Everyone has seen photos of the Australian outback,” says Erin.  “But I found that no picture can compare.  You can’t begin to imagine the vastness, and the sunset and views of Uluru (Ayres Rock) were stunning.  The stars began to come out at the end of a ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner in the outback. They had billed it as a ‘dine under a billion stars’ evening – and for once, there was no exaggeration.  With the clarity of the sky, I could see planets, galaxies, even the full Milky Way.  It was a very emotional experience”.

Sounds of Silence dinner near Ayres Rock

Sounds of Silence dinner near Ayres Rock

 

Even the visit to Australia’s cities held surprises.  Did you know the Sydney Opera House can be toured?  And that ‘Opera House’ is actually a bit of a misnomer? Because it’s not just one house, but a full complex with five different theaters where you can hear the symphony, of course, but also rock performances, dramas, and theater in the round.

In Sydney, Erin also got to complete a bucket list item with another iconic city landmark.  Conquering all fear of heights in the name of research for her clients, Erin climbed – and crossed – the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 1.5 hours as part of BridgeClimb Sydney.  Her reward from the top was 360 degree panoramic views of the city.

See those tiny dots up there?  Those are the brave climbers on BridgeClimb Sydney.  Climbers are dressed in suits to match the bridge - so as not to distract the drivers below.

See those tiny dots up there? Those are the brave climbers on BridgeClimb Sydney. Climbers are dressed in suits to match the bridge – so as not to distract the drivers below.

And then there’s Melbourne, Erin’s favorite city.  From above, the city of Melbourne has a full metropolitan skyline, complete with skyscrapers.  But walk the streets, and you’ll discover a hidden Melbourne, one with narrow alleyways and lanes, cobblestone streets, café’s and street performers.  “You’ll think you’re in Europe”, says Erin.

Europe or Australia?  ... It's a laneway in Melbourne!

Europe or Australia? … It’s a laneway in Melbourne!

“So much of this trip was fabulous,” concludes Erin, “I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do, and so much variety.  I visited at the end of our summer and had a great time.  Ideally, in order to see everything under the best conditions, I’d recommend booking travel for our Spring and Fall.”

Want to learn more about Australia?  Give your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor a call today!

Tips for Visiting Cuba

Cuba, the tropical paradise frozen for so many years in the 1950’s, is quickly thawing.  With the U.S. and Cuba restoring diplomatic relations, now is the time to see the country before it changes.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, cruise ships and tour groups travelling to Cuba must tailor their itineraries to adhere to the regulations of the ‘people to people ambassador’ program allowed by the U.S. government.  This means no lazy days (although under this program your nights are free) – any travel itinerary to Cuba will have a robust itinerary of cultural experiences.  It’s important to realize that going to Cuba will not necessarily be a ‘vacation’ but more an adventure, where you will be touched by the destination and its people.

Many people, in fact, consider Cuba a highly emotional destination.  If travel is all about new discoveries and expanding your horizons, then Cuba represents a perfect opportunity to do that.

 

Even though travel regulations have been relaxed, Americans must still participate in a 'people to people ambassador' program sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Even though travel regulations have been relaxed, Americans must still participate in a ‘people to people ambassador’ program sanctioned by the U.S. government.

 

The people to people experiences will feature Cuba’s culture, lifestyle and personalities, and include opportunities for U.S. visitors to meet with Cuban citizens from many walks of life.  For instance, LaTour’s nine-day Hello Cuba itinerary provides an immersive experience.

One traveler on this tour, Phil Marzullo, described some highlights of his trip, “On my tour, we visited a middle school outside Havana, an attended a music and dance performance by the students.  Another day, we visited a dance studio and took salsa lessons from professional dancers.  We also met with university students, learned about a community service project run by artists and musicians, (and) visited a senior center”…. ”These visits”, said Mazullo, ‘taught us a lot about the spirit and resiliency of the Cuban people”.

When traveling to Cuba, it is important to find a trustworthy, operator with experience in the country.  With so many complicated regulations or possible on-the-ground changes, you should also look for on-the-ground support.  For instance, some tour operators can offer meals in one of Cuba’s paladares.  These are restaurants run out of a private home.  In addition to having better food, the paladares often inspire intense discussions with local entrepreneurs.

 Paladares are privately owned restaurants, often run out of a private home. These are authentic, Cuban establishments where you get to meet local entrepreneurs.

Paladares are privately owned restaurants, often run out of a private home. These are authentic, Cuban establishments where you get to meet local entrepreneurs.

Want to know more about visiting Cuba ?  Then give Santa Barbara Travel a call.  We can let you know about the many opportunities for traveling to this dynamic destination.

Ernest Hemingway lived for almost 20 years in Cuba.  You can visit his private home, Finca Vigia.

Ernest Hemingway lived for almost 20 years in Cuba. You can visit his private home, Finca Vigia.

Solo Travelers on Silversea Cruises

We’ve written before about the amazing explosion in the desire for solo travel.  A recent poll by Booking.com revealed that 66% of women have vacationed without a partner.  It appears that people, especially women, are no longer willing to wait for a spouse or a companion whose schedule or interests match theirs.

This rising demographic doesn’t want to be penalized for traveling alone.  Cruise companies have, in the past, been especially guilty of the dreaded ‘single supplement’ that charges just as much for a solo traveler as for a couple.  That’s why we’re happy to report today about Silversea, the small ship cruise line.  Silversea caters to the independent, adventurous traveler by offering sailings to unique destinations with only a 10% cabin supplement.

Silversea offers concierge-level, personalized butler service in all their suites.

Silversea offers concierge-level, personalized butler service in all their suites.

The cabins themselves are all ocean-view suites.  Owned by an Italian family, Silversea features Italian bed linens and chocolates, and even Italian marble in the spacious bathrooms.  Their all-inclusive experience, with an extraordinary staff-to-guest ratio of nearly one-to-one, is more akin to a floating boutique hotel than the usual cruise ship: there are no lines, no waiting, no assigned dining times or tables, photographers or art auctions.

A welcoming champagne reception is hosted aboard every Silversea sailing, so that independent travelers can meet and mingle with other like-minded voyagers – and some departures even feature Gentlemen Hosts who are available as dance partners and dinner companions.

Select Silversea departures have only a 10% single supplement, with all the same, all-inclusive features

Select Silversea departures have only a 10% single supplement, with all the same, all-inclusive features

Silversea cruises also fit well with the independent traveler profile:  their ships are sized to be able to visit more remote, lesser-known ports and to bring guests closer to their destination.  Silversea guests are known for being physically fit, with a strong spirit of adventure and a bucket list of must-see and must-do experiences.

Silversea guests are highly experienced travelers, with a strong spirit for adventure.

Silversea guests are highly experienced travelers, with a strong spirit for adventure.

The departures featured on Silversea’s 10% supplement promotion reflect that explorer mindset. In 2015, solo travelers can choose between expeditions to Chile and Cape Horn, the Galapagos and Tahiti and New Zealand. In 2016, there are South Africa, Africa and Australian travel opportunities. Don’t like these destinations?  Silversea also has reduced single rates available on additional voyages.

Give us a call at Santa Barbara Travel today to see which departure bests fits your schedule – and your bucket list!

Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail

Did you see Santa Barbara Travel’s newsletter last month?  In it, we mentioned that Culinary Travel is currently one of the hot travel trends, and highlighted several possible locations and vacations around the world where you can indulge your inner foodie (and inner wino).

It’s easy to forget, though – living here as we do – that Santa Barbara is also its own culinary destination.  We were reminded of this with a recent article from a trade publication, Travel Age West.  They were kind enough to highlight for us what we have long known about, but sometimes take for granted: the wonderful Urban Wine Trail located right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.  We’ve reproduced this article below.

Other cities might have a string of places to go wine-tasting, but really –  where else can you sip, and then be on the sand – all within five minutes?

 

Strolling Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail
June 17, 2015

Downtown Santa Barbara offers more than 20 local wineries within walking distance

By: Melissa Karlin

Santa Barbara, Calif., is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, creating a Mediterranean climate perfect for winemaking. The surrounding area is home to more than 175 wineries and 22,000 acres of vineyards, ready and waiting for visitors to live out their “Sideways” wine-tasting fantasies.

Luckily, visitors don’t have to drive deep into the surrounding hills and mountains in order to enjoy these wines; one can simply stroll along the Urban Wine Trail in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. The trail consists of seven production facilities and 26 tasting rooms, featuring wines that source grapes from vineyards located about 45 minutes northeast of the city in Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria.

Within a five minute walk of this view, you can be tasting on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

Within a five minute walk of this view, you can be tasting on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

The program began when eight wineries came together proposing a true wine tasting experience in the heart of the city, offering visitors and locals a chance to understand local wine products without having to drive into the Santa Ynez valley.

“It’s an alternative experience,” said Seth Kunin, owner of Kunin Wines. “It can be a car-free, gas-free experience. Visitors can walk the trail or take public transportation, so no one has to be a driver.”

In order to be a part of the initiative, wineries must be located in Santa Barbara County and possess a wine grower’s license that proves they grow their wines personally. This insures there is a more direct grower-to-consumer pattern, according to Kunin.

The bulk of the trail is located in the former industrial district known as the Funk Zone. This area is full of warehouses that have been turned into wine-tasting rooms, art galleries and artisan shops. Most tasting rooms are open from late morning until early evening, though exact times vary.

The majority of wineries are located in an area of downtown Santa Barbara called The Funk Zone

The majority of wineries are located in an area of downtown Santa Barbara called The Funk Zone

Following are a few wineries to sample while exploring the trail both inside and outside the Funk Zone.

In the heart of the Funk Zone is Oreana Winery and Tasting Room. It offers a bar-like atmosphere in addition to wine-tasting with an outdoor space; live music on Fridays and Saturdays; and food trucks on weekends. For those who prefer a more educational and low-key tasting, try The Valley Project. The tasting room highlights the different viticultural areas of Santa Barbara County, showcasing the soils and informing tasters on the various factors that affect their wines.

Oreana Winery

Oreana Winery

For an experience outside the Funk Zone, head to the El Paseo complex for multiple tasting rooms. Margerum Wine Company has both a standard tasting room and a reserve tasting room. Take a step into the reserve room to try one of the wineries’ famous syrah options, which can be light, drinkable and without the earthy tones that generally characterize California wines. And for Santa Barbara’s crowning glory, pinot noir? Visit Au Bon Climat by Jim Clendenen.

Au Bon Climat - tasting room

Au Bon Climat – tasting room

One of the greatest experiences of the trail is the sense of community found throughout.

“It’s a pretty cool community,” said Andrew Bouton, an employee at The Valley Project. “Every day, we’ll have someone come in from another winery and say, ‘Someone sent us over.’ It’s not a super competitive thing; it’s more like everyone coming together and making it the best experience.”

As for how to enjoy the trail, Kunin had some advice.
“Start early and pace yourself,” he said. “On weekends, it can get busy in the afternoons. So, if you start early, you can try a few wines and then take a lunch break before trying a few more. And don’t try to take in more than three or four places at a time.”

Most importantly, don’t just go in to drink the wines — go for the experience. With the beach in front of you and the sun shining above, it may be a different environment than a traditional wine-tasting trip, but that’s what makes the trail special.

Selfies More Dangerous Than Sharks !

Yes, we’ve written about the use of – and ban on – selfie sticks before, but we can’t help doing a follow-up on this most fascinating of travel topics.  Particularly since media reports have revealed a crazy 2015 statistic:  as of September this year, more people died from taking selfies than shark attacks.

 

selfie

So far, the scorecard goes: Shark attacks: 8  Selfies: 12.  Four of the selfie deaths this year were caused by falling. This includes the Japanese tourist who died last week taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal.

The next leading cause of death involving selfies was being hit or injured by trains, either because the individual was trying to get a photo with a train or because the photo they wanted involved getting on dangerous equipment.

And then there’s the death by selfie-stick in Wales when the metal rod a man was holding was struck by a lightning bolt.  Other deaths have been caused by distracted photo-takers crashing their cars and even shooting themselves while posing with guns.

No, the numbers aren’t enormous. But it does make you ask the question – why?   What is it exactly that makes selfie-takers so likely to put themselves in danger?

An intriguing bit of research published by Ohio State University last year found that men who post a lot of selfies score higher in traits of narcissism and psychopathy in online tests. While all the participants were still in the healthy range, the scores suggest that they may be more inclined to focus on personal gain in situations, rather than potential danger.

“It’s all about me. It’s putting me in the frame. I’m getting attention and when I post that to social media, I’m getting the confirmation that I need from other people that I’m awesome,” lead researcher Jesse Fox told Reuters.  “You don’t care about the tourist attraction you’re destroying; you don’t care about annoying people in your social media feed … you’re not even thinking about the consequences of your actions, so who cares if you’re dangling off the side of the Eiffel Tower?”

Food for thought.  Just not shark food.

Mexican Riviera Cruises with NCL starting in October

Want to cruise the Mexican Riviera?  Up to now, your choices have been very limited.  Now, you have the option, beginning October, 2015, of sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line.  You have a choice of 7- and 5-day cruises from Los Angeles, and an 11-day voyage from San Diego.

And have you heard about NCL‘s new Haven complex?  Hidden away at the top of their ships, it’s an exclusive enclave, with the personal service of a concierge, and 24-hour butler service – it’s like having your own ship within a ship.  This all-suite area is perfect for multi-generational travel – grandparents, parents and children who all want to travel together in their own, private area.

And since Norwegian Cruise Line is just starting this route, it’s still not too late to book for Spring Break!  Santa Barbara Travel has reserved space exclusively for our clients on the 7-day, March 27-April 3, 2016 sailing – give us a call today to book this departure, which is sure to fill up quickly.

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Land to Sea Culinary Immersion at Terranea Resort

Here at Santa Barbara Travel one of the hottest  trends we see is the desire for culinary travel.  No longer do travelers merely want to visit a destination, they also want to experience it – and many want that experience to include locally cultivated food and drinks.

Building on California’s allure as America’s ‘Capital of Culinary Travel‘, Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes presents a 3-day, 2-night inclusive package for two that will immerse the senses and satisfy your inner foodie with a complete ‘Farm-to-Terranea‘ dining experience.

Join the Executive Chef in Terranea's own garden for a private tour

Join the Executive Chef in Terranea’s own garden for a private tour

Join Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra on a visit to the resort’s local farm, discussing seasonal ingredients, picking produce and then preparing a meal.  Participate in a pastry & liquor pairing workshop with Executive Pastry Chef Pierino Jermonti and Sommelier Szymon Piechaczek.  Go on a whale-watching picnic. Indulge in a spa treatment incorporating salts, lavender, lemons or honey – all produced on site by the resort.
Your 'Farm-to-Terranea' weekend includes a spa treatment with products all produced at the resort.

Your ‘Farm-to-Terranea’ weekend includes a spa treatment with products all produced at the resort.

This culinary immersion weekend also includes seats at the exclusive Chef’s Table Dinner series, dinner for two at signature resort mar’sel (with wine pairing) and your choice of a honey workshop, a sea salt workshop or a fish market experience with a Terranea chef.

Book through Santa Barbara Travel and you will also receive a $100 resort credit, daily breakfast for two, a VIP welcome amenity and a one-category upgrade upon arrival and early check-in and late check-out, based on availability.Enjoy this unparalleled culinary experience December 2-4, 2015, and the weekends of February 18th, April 21st, June 30th, August 25th, October 13th and December 8th in 2016.

Can’t make it for a full weekend?  Then how about booking a Chef’s Table Dinner for an evening?  These are available now on February 18th, April 21st, June 30th, August 25th, October 13th and December 8th in 2016.

A wine-focused dinner more your thing?  Consider a mar’sel Library Wine Dinner, which takes place in 2016 on January 21st, March 17th, May 19th, July 21st, September 15th, and November 17th.

All these events are incredibly popular and fill up quickly, so book now through Santa Barbara Travel for best availability.