Enchanting India with Tamara Kinsell


If you had a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go? Santa Barbara Travel Associate, Tamara Kinsell chose India when the opportunity was presented. It was 1985, and the unknown destination of India became a two-week journey that would change her life—and perhaps yours. Join Tamara, your escort, on this unforgettable journey to “Enchanting India”.

On this guided trip in the Fall of 2017, step away from the boulevards lined with 5-Star hotels, which will be your home in India, and explore the labyrinth of streets teeming with vibrant colors,  exotic smells and tastes found in local markets and the unfolding panoramic views of the vast countryside. Ride an elephant, overnight in a luxurious tent in the fabled desert kingdom of Jaisalmer, and stay in a palace that was actually built for a king!

Mela GIrls in India. Photo by Tamara Kinsell

Mela GIrls in India. Photo by Tamara Kinsell

Find wonder and delight as you walk amongst the true palaces of India in the state of Rajasthan, the “dazzling land of princes and palaces – ancient traditions and quiet villages.”

Cast your eyes upon the famed Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and see it in the light that makes it float like a pearl.

Photo by Tamara Kinsell

Photo by Tamara Kinsell

When you travel with Tamara, you can dive deeper into the heart of India
This Fall, travel to India with Tamara Kinsell as your guide. Her 30+ years of experience will expose the intimate beauties of this golden country.

Meet Tamara and representatives from the India Tourist Board and Taj Hotels & Resorts by joining our March 9th  Enchanting India Evening. Call Santa Barbara Travel for location and event information. Call 805.869.1140 or

Erin Zetter

Erin Zetter

Travel Advisor, Santa Barbara


Phone: 805.869.1110
Direct: 805.869.1140

Meet the Silversea Expedition Fleet

For adventurous travelers who wish to visit remote parts of the world, Silversea Expeditions will take you there, and show them to you intimately. Each of their four Expedition Ships is specifically designed for adventurous terrain.

Silver Cloud

The Silver Cloud is joining the Expedition fleet! After an extensive refurbishment, Silver Cloud will be the most spacious and comfortable ice class vessel in expedition cruising. Her large suites, her destination itineraries and her unparalleled service make her truly special. Explore far-flung regions of the world, while eating lavishly on board in her five dining options. Watch whales breach from the veranda of your suite. Broad sweeping decks with multiple open spaces and a swimming pool complete what is surely the most distinctive expedition ship sailing today. A limited number of guests, particularly with just 200 in polar waters, mean that Silver Cloud has the highest ratios of space to guest; and crew to guest in expedition cruising.


Silver Discoverer

Explore the remote islands of the vast Pacific aboard the 120-guest Silver Discoverer. Her shallow drift allows her to get closer to shore than the other vessels, and offers many vantage points to view the untamed landscapes of the Pacific Ocean. The fleet of 12 Zodiacs can deliver guests to secluded shores and wetlands to explore submerged ecosystems.

See wild life and wild places   on your Silversea Expedition Voyage

See wild life and wild places on your SilverSea Expedition Voyage

Silver Galapagos

A Galápagos expedition cruise, enjoyed aboard Silver Galapagos, brings you to one of the most isolated places in the world to encounter an abundant variety of wildlife species that is incredibly unique and found nowhere else on earth.The Galápagos archipelago is inaccessible to most, yet this isolation has allowed nature to develop in ways exclusive to the islands. Experience it all with complimentary exploration activities including Zodiac tours, snorkeling, kayaking and nature hikes led by highly experienced  guides certified by the National Park of the Galápagos.

Explore the Galapagos aboard Silver Galapagos

Explore the Galapagos aboard Silver Galapagos

Silver Explorer

Explore some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions aboard Silver Explorer expedition cruise ship, specially designed for this purpose.  A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables the Silver Explorer Expedition cruise ship to safely push through ice floes with ease. A fleet of Zodiac boats allows Silversea Expedition guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each unforgettable Silver Explorer luxury cruise adventure.

From the Pacific to Alaska, Silver Discoverer is perfectly designed for the experience

From the Pacific to Alaska, Silver Discoverer is perfectly designed for the experience

To learn more about Silversea, call your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor!

Kathy Reimer

Kathy Reimer

Travel Advisor, Ventura

Phone: 805.869.1151

SeaDream Yacht Club Wine Voyages

“It’s Yachting, Not Cruising”

With SeaDream, look forward to a casual yachting experience that goes above and beyond expectations.

The twin yachts, SeaDream I and SeaDream II, were voted “Best Small Luxury Cruise Ship of 2015” in ForbesLife. The intimate mega boutique yachts with 95 crew members and 112 guests makes each guest feel like they are on their very own private luxury yacht. Chic and stylish, SeaDream’s 56-stateroom yachts are favored for its elegant informality, highly personal service, inclusive open bar and gratuities, all ocean views staterooms and suites, luxury accommodations and world-class cuisine.

SeaDream I and II Nice

This Fall, sail from Nice to Malaga on a wine voyage designed to enhance both your culinary and yachting experience. Explore the flavors and history from some of the worlds most renowned wineries through exclusive wine tastings, and highlights such as a Winemaker’s Dinner with Chateau Gassier and Finca Valpiedra, offering a special menu complemented with top cuvees.

Nice to Malaga on SeaDream I

Nice to Malaga on SeaDream I


8th of Oct. Wine tasting with Chateau Gassier

9th of Oct. Visit to Castellet & Winery Visit, Sanary Sur Mer

10th of Oct. Winemaker’s Dinner with Chateau Gassier

12th of Oct. Visit to Cavas Recaredo & Chocolate Factory, Barcelona.

13th of Oct. Wine tasting with Finca Valpiedra

14th of Oct. Winemaker’s Dinner with Finca Valpiedra

15th of Oct. Cooking, strolling & tasting, Cartagena.

Itinerary is subject to change. For updated itinerary, please contact Santa Barbara Travel Bureau

For more information about SeaDream, please call your Santa Barbara Travel advisor.

Tina Slimp

Tina Slimp

Travel Advisor, Santa Barbara

Phone: 805.869.1112

Sailing with Star Clippers Cruises

Experience the traditions and romance of the legendary era of sailing when you travel with Star Clippers. Step aboard the decks of this incredible fleet of Tall Ships recreated from early 20th century designs that are now paired with modern amenities, top of the line navigation, and relaxing luxuries on water.

Star Clipper and Star Flyer – true clipper ships for guests seeking traditions and romance of the legendary era of sailing ships.

Star Clipper and Star Flyer – true clipper ships for guests seeking traditions and romance of the legendary era of sailing ships.

With each destination, experience vastly different cultures from the Caribbean, to Indonesia, to the Mediterranean, to Cuba to epic Ocean crossings. Enjoy adventures on land, underwater (scuba!), and immerse yourself in new cultures. For the days when you just want to relax on board, enjoy evening performances by local musicians and dancers.

Unlike a typical cruise ship your voyage is wind-powered, and your schedule is relaxed and flexible. Enjoy on-board evening entertainment from local musicians and performers at each destination for authentic, local cultural experiences. Enjoy the salty, ocean breeze on your face– the same wind powering the sails above. Find your secret hideaway on one of the hidden balconies on either side of the bow. Or climb the mast (with safety harness provided) to one of the passenger lookout crows-nests, thoughtfully furnished with a comfortable settee, where you’ll have the grandest view of all!

StarClippers - rigging

The fleet of three ships includes Royal Clipper, Star Clipper, and Star Flyer. Royal Clipper, the crown of the fleet, was inspired by the largest, fastest sail boat made in 1902, that has now been redesigned for the 21st Century without losing their tradition or function. Today, the Royal Clipper is the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world, with 5 masts, 56,000 square feet of canvas sails, 3 swimming pools, and a 227 passenger capacity. The twin-sister ships –Star Clipper and Star Flyer– are true clipper ships for guests seeking traditions and romance of the legendary era of sailing ships.

Leave the hectic pace of land behind, and travel leisurely with the wind. For more information about sailing on small ships, join us at our event on Wednesday, February 22nd at 5:30 hosted in our Downtown Santa Barbara Office at 1028 State Street.

Kathy Reimer

Kathy Reimer

Travel Advisor, Ventura

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
3140 Telegraph Road
Ventura, CA 93003

Phone: 805.869.1151

Charles Travels to Paris the 2016 Virtuoso Chairman’s Event

Our CEO, Charles de L’Arbre, recently traveled to Paris for the 2016 Virtuoso Chairman’s Event, for what he considers to be “the most remarkable week of travel in my 42 year career in the travel industry.” From a river cruise on the Seine, to lunch and a visit to the Louis Vuitton Foundation, to dinner at Four Seasons Hotel Georges V, to a tour of the Palace of Versailles, to a perfect stay at Le Bristol, our Virtuoso partners have the best recommendations.

Upon exiting the plane, Charles and his wife, Barbara, were met by a representative of “Decouvertes” (“Discoveries” for you non French-speakers), which is one of the premier French destination management companies. They were greeted on the jetway outside of the door of the plane, and 6 minutes later, they were through a special line at Passport Control, at baggage claim, and 10 minutes later were in the back of a Mercedes being whisked in to the center of Paris. Soon enough, they were stepping in to the lobby of Le Bristol Hotel on the Faubourg St. Honore in the First Arrondissement of Paris, 2 blocks from the Presidential Palace.

The attendees of the Virtuoso Chairmen’s Event stayed either at Le Bristol, Plaza Athénée or the Four Seasons Hotel. Other hotels participated, hosting events throughout the week, including The Park Hyatt, The Peninsula, The Intercontinental Grand Hotel, and The Ritz.

Le Bristol, Paris, is the top hotel choice for your Paris stay by our CEO, Charles de L'Arbre

Le Bristol, Paris, is the top hotel choice for your Paris stay by our CEO, Charles de L’Arbre

There is nothing like coming back to a hotel which truly feels like home. For Charles and Barbara, that is the Bristol. “Laure and Louise at the front desk; Olivier who greets us every morning at breakfast at the Epicurean Restaurant; my friend Matthias Obresser in sales and a host of other friends who all greeted us by name as we walked in to the hotel. After a full day of work, a drive to LAX on a Friday evening, and a 12 hour flight, the delight of walking in to an environment which was familiar, warm, and the epitome of French refinement and luxury was one of indescribable joy,” shared Charles. Le Bristol is a Virtuoso property and offers Santa Barbara Travel Bureau highly preferential rates, time of booking upgrades, breakfast (85 euro per person value), as well as a special amenity.

The Opera House of Paris, Palais Garnier

The Opera House of Paris, Palais Garnier

The Virtuoso Event included a show at the Paris Opera House, where several ballets by Balanchine were performed. After the event Barbara and Charles walked over to The Ritz for a late dinner at the Hemingway Bar, which Charles tells us “is fabulous and has to be the best bar in Paris.” Before that, they had been at the Picasso Museum and met the grandson of Picasso.

The bar is aptly named in Hemingway's honor, where he is said to have spent the 1920s.

The bar is aptly named in Hemingway’s honor, where he is said to have spent the 1920s.

Louis Vuitton Fondation designed by Frank Gehry. Photo  from

Louis Vuitton Fondation designed by Frank Gehry. Photo from

A new “must” when in Paris is a visit to the new Frank Gehry building located in Greater Paris, at the edge of the  Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, where Paris meets Neuilly-sur-Seine. The building is incredible– a feat of modern architecture composed of 12 “sails” composed of 3,600 panels of curved glass, cut to the nearest millimeter. The futuristic building is a reflection of the unique, creative and innovative project of the Louis Vuitton Fondation.  The Cheval Blanc Hotel Group hosted a lovely lunch for the Virtuoso Event.

Charles at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Charles at the Fondation Louis Vuitton designed by architect Frank Gehry in Paris

“To reflect our constantly changing world, we wanted to create a building that would evolve according to the time and the light in order to give the impression of something ephemeral and continually changing.” -Frank Gehry 

The new Frank Gehry building in Paris. Photo by Charles de L'Arbre

The new Frank Gehry building in Paris. Photo by Charles de L’Arbre

One must visit the Palace of Versailles at least once in their lifetime! The Garden of Versailles is where fruits and vegetables were raised specifically to feed the king and his family. A tour from the head gardener was very informative, and the most interesting part of the garden was was how the fruit trees were espaliered.

Espaliered fruit trees in the Garden of Versailles. Photo by Charles de L'Arbre

Espaliered fruit trees in the Garden of Versailles. Photo by Charles de L’Arbre

The final day of the trip included a reception at City Hall, hosted by the Mayor of Paris and the Minister of Tourism. Dinner was hosted on a Batau Mouch or the “fly boat” which cruised up the Seine. After dinner, the group received a “salute” of flashing lights from the Eiffel Tower as they passed. With Virtuoso, they know who to call.

Charles aboard the

Charles aboard the Batau Mouch as they passed the Eiffel Tower

Santa Barbara Travel is a member of the by-invitation-only, luxury travel network, Virtuoso – an organization of the top travel agencies, travel providers and destinations worldwide.  Our membership in Virtuoso brings a host of unique travel opportunities and exclusive values to our clients as well as access to the world’s best travel companies, hotels, and cruise lines.  For travelers who depend on experts to reduce complexity and ensure smart choices, your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor will design customized travel experiences using the resources and relationships available exclusively through network membership.

A frequent traveler to Paris, Charles would be happy to share his experiences. Please call or email to talk about your trip to Paris.

Charles de L'Arbre posing at the Picasso Museum in Paris in front of the L'Arbre

Charles de L’Arbre posing at the Picasso Museum in Paris in front of the L’Arbre

Charles de L’Arbre

President, Montecito

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
1485 East Valley Road #9
Montecito, CA 93108

Phone: 800.266.5452  
Direct Dial:
Cell: 805.698.8751

Advisor Trip: Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

Two seasoned travel advisors of Santa Barbara Travel, Kathy Reimer and Tina Slimp, recently visited the world’s premier health resort, Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona for four glorious days.  A true destination resort, Canyon Ranch is located in the sunny Sonoran desert with close access to canyons and the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains where outside activities such as hiking, biking, swimming and outside dining are possible all year-round.  The all-inclusive resort offers a variety of wellness packages that include accommodations, all you can eat dining, activities and classes, use of all facilities, gratuities and airport transfers between the Tucson airport and the property.

Beautiful Landscape Views from Canyon Ranch

Beautiful Landscape Views from Canyon Ranch

With a plethora of spa services, exercise, health and lifestyle sessions to choose from, you can make your stay what you want it to be.  You will have the opportunity of pre-planning your Canyon Ranch vacation with a program advisor one month prior to your arrival.  Depending on what you enjoy and what you would like to focus on, a program advisor will customize your daily schedule.

Canyon Ranch Desert Landscape

Canyon Ranch Desert Landscape

Both Tina and Kathy opted for a private consultation with a doctor to learn about a healthier lifestyle and integrating exercise into their busy schedules.  They also took advantage of the resort’s daily cooking demonstrations offered by entertaining, yet informative chefs.  They learned how to cook with alternative oils and ingredients, in place of butter and fattening marinades.  Healthy entrees such as the Canyon Ranch’s mouth-watering Asian Braised Flank Steak with Bok Choy made low calorie cooking look easy.  Tina felt that portion control was essential for healthy eating, and noticed that all food served throughout the resort was served in measured portions.

Relax by the Pool Area with Lunch

Relax by the Pool Area with Lunch

The largest spa ever!  Kathy was in awe when she first laid eyes on the 80,000 square foot, luxury spa.  Housing state-of-the-art cardio and weight rooms, private sunbathing decks, dance, yoga, and Pilates/GYROTRONICS® studios, polar bear dunk, infra-red sauna…the list goes on…just where does one begin.  Luckily classes begin at 6 a.m. and go into the evening allowing you plenty of time to exercise and relax.

Serene Grounds and All-Day Spa and Exercise Options

Serene Grounds and All-Day Spa and Exercise Options

Taking advantage of the outdoors, Tina and Kathy chose to work out each day on the underwater treadmill in the “L shaped” pool, one of Canyon Ranch’s 4 pools.  Kathy enjoyed the early morning 2 mile desert walks as well as strolling through the calming meditation garden. The desert flowers and cacti are in full bloom in the spring with a spectacular show of colors.

Serene Grounds at Canyon Ranch

Serene Grounds at Canyon Ranch

Canyon Ranch offers something for everyone with a wide selection of engaging wellness programs that can vary from weight loss, health assessment and preventive care, stress management, detox, surgery recovery, spiritual health to continuing education credits for physicians and nurses. Additionally, this desert oasis is equipped to handle small groups (birthdays, family reunions, social getaways) to corporate retreats of up to 80 guests.   Whatever your health-related interest or passion, you are likely to find it at Canyon Ranch.

Vistas so Beautiful, They Look Like a Painting

Vistas so Beautiful, They Look Like a Painting

Contact Santa Barbara Travel to for valued added amenities at Canyon Ranch Tucson such as a room upgrade, $50 credit to use toward a Health & Healing service, and early check-in/late check-out or special group rates.

Downtown Santa Barbara: Contact Tina by calling 805.966.3116 or email her directly

Ventura Office: Contact Kathy by calling 805.650.6999 or email her directly


Amanemu Resort, Kumano Kodo, Mie Prefecture, Honshu, Japan, Ago Bay

Amanemu surrounded by the forests of Ise Shima Natl Park

Aman Resorts are renowned for space and privacy, and embracing a sense of belonging at each one of their properties.  Each resort is designed to fit within the destination’s diverse and historical landscape.


Set in a national park, Amanemu is Aman’s first mineral hot spring destination.  The hillside property offers 24 suites and four 2-bedroom villas offering either garden views or picturesque views of Ago Bay (the Bay of Pearls).  The Aman Spa offers two ONSEN bathing pavilions fed by its own rich mineral spring.  Take a sea expedition and explore the many islets and pearl rafts, visit a pearl oyster farm, or walk the Kumano Kodo, a UNESCO-protected pilgrimage route of sacred sites that crisscross the Kii Peninsula and wind through verdant forests.

Amanemu villa, exterior shot

Amanemu Villa

Ago Bay view with pearl rafts

Amanemu Suite, Suite Onsen, Ago Bay -pearl rafts


Amankora Paro, Bhutan

Amankora Paro, Bhutan

Bhutan, located in Eastern Himalayas between the Tibetan Plateau and India, is one of the most remote and unaltered areas of the world.  The sole surviving Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom established the GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS INDEX vs the GNP (economic index) based on spiritual value and other Buddhist principles.  Visitors to Bhutan require a VISA and we highly recommend staying in the beautifully appointed Amankora properties.

Aman’s Amankora is a unique circuit of lodges set throughout Bhutan’s central and western valleys.  A suggested stay of at least 11 nights gives you enough time to visit all five valleys and properties.  Amankora Paro is closest to the international airport and features beautiful monasteries and monuments, including the famous Taktsang “Tiger’s Nest” – a magnificent monastery built on the face of a sheer 3,000 ft cliff.  Stay in one of the lodges’ twenty-four (24) suites with the traditional bukhari, a wood-burning stove, witness contrasts of rustic elements with contemporary design.  Amankora Thimphu, located in the upper Thimphu Valley within a blue pine forest, offers 16 suites and is close to the capital of Bhutan’s many attractions, shops, and local restaurants.  Amankora Punakha, originally built as a residence to oversee the surrounding rice paddies and fruit orchards, offers 8 suites located in three rammed-earth buildings, and is situated in one of the lowest-lying valleys in Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong (the old capital of Bhutan) which straddles the Mo (mother) and Po (father) rivers, and 21 temples including the monk’s hundred-pillared Great Assembly Hall and other monuments.  Amankora Gangtey’s 8 suite property is set against a knoll offering views across the picturesque Phobjikha Valley – one of Bhutan’s most important wildlife sanctuaries and home to the 300 black-necked cranes.   Amankora Bumthang is adjacent to the 1st and 2nd King of Bhutan’s palace within the town of Jakar in the Choeskhor Valley – known for its cottage industries which produce renowned Bumthang butter, cheeses, honey and fruit spirits. The 16 guest suites are spread among four separate structures, each suite offering the traditional bukhari and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the courtyard and views of the shared palace grounds.

Amankora Lodge photos: Punakha Lounge; Punakha Suite,  Gangtey Living Room

Amankora: Punakha Lounge; Punakha Suite, Gangtey Living Room

Amankora Bumthang Courtyard, Bhutan, Choekhor Valley

Amankora Bumthang Courtyard

Santa Barbara Travel will work with Amankora to create your personalized Bhutan experience with a private car and driver, trekking tours and other excursions, plus flights to/from and within Bhutan. Email Erin ( or contact one of our experienced travel advisors to learn more about Amanemu, Amankora and Aman Resorts’ 31 awe-inspiring worldwide resorts, hotels and residences.

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau

Santa Barbara: 805-966-3116

Montecito: 805-969-7746

Ventura: 805-650-6999

Travel To Cuba


By Virtuoso Air, Auto & Insurance | 29-Sep-2016 | Article #35601

The U.S. government does not currently allow Americans to visit Cuba strictly for tourism. U.S. citizens are permitted to visit Cuba if they fall under 12 approved categories, including family visits, educational activities and public performances or exhibitions. Additionally, anyone entering Cuba on a U.S. carrier is bound by those same restrictions, whether or not they hold U.S. citizenship. That means customers flying to Havana on Alaska Airlines must be authorized under one of the 12 approved categories – whether or not they hold U.S. citizenship.

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • Certain authorized export transactions

Additional Information:

  • In order to travel to Cuba, all passengers must have a valid visa and health insurance.
  • US credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba, so passengers will need to bring cash.
  • Internet and mobile phone service is limited

NOTE: Travelers NEED to make sure they bring enough cash for the entire duration of their trip. Without cash, travelers will be unable to pay for essentials such as lodging, food, and car rentals

To learn more about traveling to Cuba, call our Cuba specialist, Andrew Seligman or your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor

Andrew Seligman

Andrew Seligman

Phone: 805.969.7746

Montecito Office

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
1485 East Valley Road #9
Montecito, CA 93108

Advisor Profile

Advisor Trip: The Rocky Mountaineer

Santa Barbara Travel Advisor, Nancy Herrmann, took the two day journey aboard Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer this Summer. This comfortable and luxurious train ride is a wonderful way to journey through the Canadian Rockies. Below, Nancy shares her experience, helpful travel tips, and photos of her journey.

Rocky Mountaineer in Exshaw, Alberta

Rocky Mountaineer in Exshaw, Alberta

ROUTE: I took the “Journey Through the Clouds” from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver and down to Seattle. I will start by saying: it was the most beautiful train ride of my life. The observation car allows a comfortable way to see the incredible scenery of Western Canada. The train and views are in the league of the dome cars of Anchorage and Denali, Alaska, with the big-time landscapes. Our itinerary worked with the direction we were traveling, but I would recommend going the opposite way– starting in Vancouver and ending in Jasper. From there you can drive along the scenic highway by motorcoach or self-drive to Lake Louise and Banff.

Four routes of the Rocky Mountaineer. Nancy traveled from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver to Seattle.

Four routes of the Rocky Mountaineer. Nancy traveled from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver to Seattle.

TRAVEL TIP: Travel from Vancouver to Jasper to end with the “wow factor” of mountainous Jasper.

Another interesting route is the Rainforest to Gold Rush—Vancouver – Whistler – Quesnel – Jasper –-perfect to see the great variety of the Canadian West. Whichever route you go, it is likely to be the best train ride you’ve ever had. The track passes along the coast and through the Canadian Rockies.


Nancy smiles for a photo in front of a high mountain lake

DINING: Meals and drinks are included in the price of the journey. However, Gold Leaf service provides a much better dining experience and is recommended. The meals are the same, but Gold Leaf service comes with a downstairs dining room, allowing you to get up and stretch. Silver Leaf members will dine in their seat. It is worth noting that you cannot walk from car to car during the trip.

Travel Tip: Drive or take the motorcoach from Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff for a few night stay, then fly out of Calgary.

Serenity on Lake Louis

Serenity on Lake Louis, accessed by scenic drive from Jasper or by train on the Coastal Passage and First Passage to the West

JASPER: Jasper is a tiny, tiny little town with a few restaurants and souvenir shops to support Jasper National Park. It reminded me of an old west town, with art galleries and gift shops. If you spend a few days here, take the Jasper SkyTram to the summit of Whistlers Mountain for a beautiful view, or drive the scenic route to Banff or Lake Louise.

KAMLOOPS: Nice farm to table restaurants and a fairly big city considering it is in the middle of western Canada. It is a beautiful town sitting at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, with Kamloops Lake nearby.

VANCOUVER: We started our journey in Jasper, but would have started in Vancouver instead. This beautiful city with mountains and the Pacific would be a wonderful few days spent. Take a bike around Stanley Park, go to the top of the Vancouver Lookout, and visit the market on Granville Island.

Aerial View of Vancouver, Canada

Aerial View of Vancouver, Canada

SERVICE & HOTEL PACKAGE: There are two options– Silver Leaf and Gold Leaf. I chose the Gold Leaf package, which I recommend, as it provides vastly greater comfort and meal options, including meal service downstairs in the dining car and a seat in the observation car with a glass dome roof. There is also an option to upgrade the Gold Leaf Package to the Deluxe, which includes a hotel upgrade to the world famous Banff Springs Hotel. I found the Rimrock Resort Hotel to be comfortable, but it needs an upgrade as it feels quite out dated.

TRAVEL TIP: Choose the Gold Leaf Package, and upgrade your hotel if it is within budget to access the dining car, 2nd-floor seating, and a stay at the World Famous Banff Springs Hotel.


Picture of our train car and Gold Leaf seating. Photo by Nancy Herrmann

WHAT TO AVOID: The Amtrak stretch of the trip was a rickety, uncomfortable 4 hour ride and a big let down after the comfort of the Rocky Mountaineer. I would recommend taking the ferry from Vancouver to Seattle, or just flying straight to Vancouver and spend a few nights to explore this beautiful city.

All said and done, the Rocky Mountaineer offers a great experience, especially for those who will not be itching to hike or swim in the mountains and lakes the trip introduces. If you are taking a cruise that begins or ends in Vancouver, I would highly recommend spending a few days on the Rocky Mountaineer.

rocky-mountaineer-nancyI would love to chat with you personally about the experience and answer any questions you may have. Please contact me by phone (805.869.1100) or email Learn more about Nancy on her Travel Profile

Northwest Passage 2017 Voyage

VOYAGE 7320 | 32 DAYS | AUGUST 15, 2017



Responding to continued demand for its sold-out inaugural 2016 Northwest Passage transit, Crystal Serenity’s 2017 Northwest Passage Explorer will once again be journeying from Seward, Alaska, to New York City, New York, on a 32-day journey crafted for the world’s most curious adventurers. We have been following the 2016 Voyage on the “Live Tracker” and can’t be more excited to offer this trip once again!

2017 Northwest Passage Sailling in Luxury

2017 Northwest Passage Sailling in Luxury

Exceptional wildlife sightings, stunning displays of nature, and rare experiences carefully designed to reveal remote cultures in the most authentic and engaging manner are the defining aspects of this life-enhancing voyage. Joined by a dedicated team of approximately 14 professionals, the Captain and his expanded crew of navigation experts will incorporate unplanned “expedition days” when favorable weather conditions allow, as well as Unexpected Adventures™ ranging from Zodiac landings and kayaking in protected bays to trekking the tundra with an experienced guide. To whet your appetite for this extraordinary adventure, feel free to visit our current 2016 Northwest Passage webpage— — that details all you need to know to prepare for this incredible journey, including the proper gear and accessories required to enjoy the experience to its fullest.


Crystal Cruises has compiled the following guide to answer your questions and get you excited about this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

2017_Northwest_Passage_townBEFORE YOU EXPLORE

So grand is the voyage, so magnificent the adventure, Crystal’s 2017 Northwest Passage has been perfectly planned. We’ve conferred with Canadian authorities and experts, and engaged the local communities to ensure every detail of this incredible adventure is attended to with the thoughtful finesse and skilled expertise the world’s most discerning travelers have come to expect from the World’s Best cruise line.

How can a luxury cruise ship offer an expedition-style voyage in the Arctic?

Crystal Serenity is experienced in operating in some of the world’s most extreme locations, such as Alaska and Antarctica, and will be navigating the Northwest Passage at the most optimum time of year, when the ice significantly recedes allowing vessels to safely transit with minimal risk of encountering ice concentrations. Two ice pilots will join the Captain and trained bridge crew at all times, and the ship will be equipped with state-of-the-art sonar technologies. The region is not as remote as one might think and the itinerary will pass communities that have regularly scheduled commercial air service. Given the limited infrastructure of many of the communities we will visit, an escort vessel will accompany Crystal Serenity, carrying with it “adventure equipment” including a platform for wilderness landings, Zodiacs, kayaks and a helicopter.

Wildlife Citings Along the Northwest Passage

Wildlife Sitings Along the Northwest Passage

What wildlife will I see?

Seals, whales and seabirds may be seen throughout the voyage and in High Arctic regions Crystal Serenity may encounter walrus, narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales. Musk-oxen might be seen on shore, and the passage boasts teeming colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots and murres. In general, wildlife along the Northwest Passage is unpredictable and often difficult to spot, and while polar bears thrive in this region, there is no guarantee that any will be seen on the transit. However, the expedition team will maintain a keen eye so that if an opportunity arises and conditions allow, the Captain will attempt to position the vessel accordingly.

What kind of excursions will be offered ashore?

We have created a series of immersive Crystal Adventures® unique to this itinerary:

• Complimentary Community Visits will provide insight into the daily lives and customs of the Arctic people. Guests will have the opportunity to go ashore in smaller groups to explore communities and experience the daily life of local cultures.

• Crystal Unexpected Adventures will be serendipitous stops when weather and wildlife present opportunities for sightseeing, whale watching and Zodiac landings.

• Crystal Wilderness Adventures™ & Crystal Overland Adventures™ feature thrilling explorations such as helicopter flightseeing, kayaking and whale watching by Zodiac.

• “You Care. We Care.™” Voluntourism opportunities will be offered on a complimentary basis with occasions to participate in local cultural activities.

Helicopter Ride's Are Amongst the Choices for Shore Expeditions

Helicopter Ride’s Are Amongst the Choices for Shore Expeditions

How do I pack? What do I need to bring?

We recommend packing outdoor wear that can be layered in breathable fabrics of fleece, cotton and wool, along with windproof, waterproof clothing and shoes. Crystal will provide water-resistant parkas and boot rentals, and has partnered with a wilderness outfitter offering expedition clothing for purchase. Onboard evening attire will be significantly relaxed, with very few formal evenings. A detailed packing list will be provided prior to the voyage.

2017_Northwest_Passage_view from helicopter

Will there be Internet access and mobile phone coverage?

The ship’s Internet and telephone services will be available for approximately 90% of the expedition, although signals may be slowed or not available at all in the northernmost areas. Shore-based cell phone signals will not be available, except in some of the towns we visit—and guests are asked not to use local signals so the local community’s capacity is not overwhelmed. The Captain and crew will always have operational and emergency communication throughout the entire voyage.

What kind of environmental footprint will the ship make?

Crystal Serenity will be voluntarily using marine gas oil, an extremely clean-burning, low-sulphur fuel that far exceeds regulations, as will the escort ship. The ship’s sophisticated waste management equipment, storage and procedures ensure nothing will be left behind. With regard to the individual communities, we will be working in advance with community leaders to ensure our visits are positive experiences for both locals and guests.

To contact a travel advisor about this incredible voyage in 2017, receive a full itinerary, and talk about specials, contact Nancy Herrmann by emailing or calling 805.966.3116