Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seabourn Changes Its Smoking Policy - No Inside or Balcony Smoking

I know that for some smoking is a "hot topic" and, to be honest, the "issue" has over the past years become bigger than the "reality".  And that has resulted in a number of potential guests simply being unwilling to experience a Seabourn cruise. Well, that is changing!

As of Seabourn cruises departing November 28th or later, Seabourn will not permit smoking of any kind anywhere in the interior of the ship or on private balconies.

Smoking will only be permitted as follows:
  • On the starboard half of the Sky Bar on Deck 9 (Seabourn Encore Deck 10) including the bar stools 
  • On the starboard half of the open terrace aft of The Club on Deck 5 
  • Smoking of cigarettes, pipes and cigars is permitted on the open terrace aft of Seabourn Square on Deck 7. This is the only area on board where pipe and cigar smoking is permitted. 
  • Smoking of electronic cigarettes is permitted in guest suites, as well as other designated smoking areas. 
I would note that, as someone who enjoys a cigar from time to time, the limitations are not the most appealing to me...if I were to look at it being "all about me".  But when in public, especially on a cruise ship, it may be a personal experience, but there are other people that are affected.  So, just as any other social experience, knowing that I am not interfering with another person's cruise, is more important than my desire for that cigar. 

With this I believe the concerns about smokers on Seabourn should be put to rest. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Goldring Travel's 2016 Culinary & Cultural (Food & Wine) Cruise on the Seabourn Quest - Part I

It is one week from the start of Goldring Travel's 2016 Culinary & Cultural (Food & Wine) Cruise on the Seabourn Quest and the last minute preparations are being made.  And, as always seems to be the case, as the cruise starts, the events get bigger and better.

The Goldring Travel 2016 Food & Wine Cruise highlights the culinary and cultural aspects of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Let me start by answering the question, "Why call this a Culinary & Cultural cruise rather than a Food & Wine cruise?"  The answer is simple:  The term "Food & Wine" has become so overused and so watered down that it essentially has become a meaningless least to me.

It is one thing to, say, go to a local market and taste a bit of this or that, or to take a cooking class where you make a fairly ordinary dish (though probably not so ordinary for you) or to enjoy a nice bottle of wine.  To me that is more like being on safari and ticking off that you saw a lion or elephant rather than taking hours to observe them, really see, hear and feel how they live.  It may give you you bragging rights to your friends, but not the lifelong experience you can relieve in your mind with goosebumps.

I try to create memorable moments by "diving deep" where we can not only understand, but experience, where that food in the market comes from, enjoy truly unique culturally relevant cuisine prepared by world-class chefs or locally popular pubs and delve into how and where that wine came to be and, thus, why it tastes and smells the way it does. These are not things you can experience in a ship's culinary center, in a cooking demonstration, a shipboard wine-tasting or in a group of 25-100 people.

So with that:  Here we go!

Our Culinary & Cultural experiences will start before we even board the Seabourn Quest on August 4, 2016.  Because of my relationship with the superyacht and maritime industries, we have behind the scenes access to the Viking Recruitment Maritime Skills Academy where many of the Seabourn staff and crew (as well as other cruise line and yacht crew) are trained and certified in all things safety onboard the ship.  How many Seabourn guests (or any cruise ship guests) get to do that!?

Viking Recruitment's Maritime Skills Academy
After a short visit we will be off on an British version of a Napa Valley Wine Tour with stops at three English wineries located in the Kent countryside.  I will detail each winery after our visit, but we will be visiting the oldest, largest and newest/most modern wineries with interesting tastings as we travel through some of the beautiful countryside.

Chapel Down Winery
One of three wineries the 2016 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise
will visit while traveling the English countryside in Kent 
From there we will board our home for the next 16 nights:  The Seabourn Quest, which was also home for the 2015 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise through Norway.

Seabourn Quest
Our captain is, fortunately, as it was last year, my very good friend, Captain Geir-Arne Thue-Nilsen.

Captain Geir-Arne Thue-Nilsen with myself and my girlfriend
during the 2015 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise in Norway
I have arranged two very special events along with the "usual" ones such as a Private Shopping with the Chef, a Private Cooking Demonstration and the highly anticipated Private Food & Wine Tasting on the last day of the cruise.  The Special Events are:

     - A private tour and seven (7) high quality whisky tasting at the Highland Park Distillery (shhhh...part of the experience is a surprise!)

followed by a gourmet pub lunch, highlighting the freshest fish and Scottish fare, in a wonderful pub recently named the best pub in the Northern Isles...of course located on the quayside in Kirkwall, Scotland.

     - A truly gourmet culinary experience in Dublin, Ireland.  We will start by traveling to the organic garden of Chef Graham Neville, consistently noted as one of Ireland's best chefs, where he will give us a tour and explain is passion for utilizing almost entirely Irish ingredients in his culinary endeavors.
Chef Graham Neville in his organic garden
He has described his approach as "Irish ingredients, classical French training."  And his endeavors we shall then enjoy as we then travel back to Dublin to his Restaurant Forty One, consistently praised as the best restaurant in opulent, guilded, setting hidden in an ivy-clad Georgian townhouse overlooking St. Stephen's Green...

Restaurant Forty One in Dublin, Ireland
as we enjoy a five (5) course luncheon paired, of course, with wines he has selected.

Not to worry, while in Scotland I will be having a proper haggis!

We have many more ports to explore and many more days to do it.  Follow Goldring Travel as we sail through some of the most interesting historical areas of the world...and stayed tuned for the announcement of the 2017 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise!

Interested in a creating your own culinary and cultural adventure?  Give me a call or email me!

United States:          (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom:    020 8133 3450
Australia:                (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else:   +1 732 578 8585

Or email me at

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Queen Mary 2 Remastered - She's Better Than Ever

I was invited to join the celebration yesterday of the Queen Mary 2's "Remastered" upon her arrival in New York at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.  Honestly (am I any other way?) I love the ship...even more so with her $175,000,000 worth of renovations.  (They actually cost more, but with Brexit the exchange rate changed.)

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald 
My preface is this, most aptly stated by my girlfriend (our first real date was on QM2 Crossing!): 
A Crossing on the Queen Mary 2 is a Bucket List Item...that you didn't know was on your bucket list!
This ocean liner (she is NOT a cruise ship) is sleek, elegant and built incredibly solidly. If you would like to read more about her enjoy my article Cunard's Queen Mary 2 - A Winter Transatlantic Crossing on Her 10th Anniversary

So what is the Remastering all about?  Well, there were some things that just didn't worth that well and other things that needed a significant upgrade after over a decade at sea.  There has been an enormous amount of a much higher quality re-carpeting, with the carpets giving homage to the original Queen Mary both in style and color.  The classic Veranda Restaurant returns with the farewell to Todd English and with the central elevators removed, the previously closed-in space by Reception is open and elegant.

For the luxury traveler (on the QM2 you are not a cruiser), there have been significant upgrades to the Queens Grill Suites as well as the Queens Grill Restaurant and Princess Grill Restaurant.  Both restaurants now have more tables for two and a nicer layout.  But more me, the Queens Grill Restaurant now looks more like the special dining experience it is, with unique rich red fabrics.

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Queens Grill Restaurant

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Queens Grill Restaurant
While there were no big changes to the Queens Grill Lounge, the new color palette is a significant improvement.

QM2's Queens Grill Lounge
The Grill Suites have a new, more modern and relaxing, color palette.

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Queens Grill Suite 

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Queens Grill Suite 
One improvement that I truly find fantastic are wonderful single staterooms...which to me should be called Suites.  These were added in two areas, one area near the Ballroom that wasn't used and by taking part of the previously oversized casino.  I highly recommend these staterooms, especially the ones with the large circular windows!

Queen Mary 2's new Single Staterooms are really fantastic.
Even the staterooms were made over with new colors and artwork...literally thousands of new prints being brought onboard.

Queen Mary 2's remastered Britannia Stateroom
One of the biggest investments was the King's Court restaurant area.  It was in need of, and received, a literally "gut job".  Yup, Cunard tore out the whole space and started over. Besides making it a more modern space, with different dining options, the flow has been greatly improved and the furnishings upscaled and better designed with seating at various heights, thereby eliminating the cafeteria look.

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Kings Court

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Kings Court

Queen Mary 2's Remastered Kings Court
Other areas that have seen some significant changes including the Kennel, which now has a proper lamp post and fire hydrant as well as additional kennels, which are always in such high demand.

Queen Mary 2's expended Kennels
QM2 now provides a fire hydrant for American dogs
and a proper lamp post for British ones.
 Even the theaters have been upgraded, including new LED lighting

Queen Mary 2 is truly better than ever.  Are there still some misses in my book?  Of course.  But this is not a case of there being much to compromise, especially after the Remastering. #QM2Remastered

If you would like more information or would like to book your Bucket List Crossing, please email Goldring Travel or give us a call.

United States:        (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom:   020 8133 3450
Australia:               (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else:   +1 732 578 8585

Or email me at