Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Silversea Cruises: 10% off Asia on the Silver Shadow (July 2017 - December 2018) PLUS Goldring Travel Added Amenities

Silversea Cruises is offering a full 10% discount on your Silver Shadow July 2017 - December 2018 cruise in Asia if you book and pay in full by February 28, 2017.

There are eighteen (18) different sailings with 17 of them conveniently sailing out of Singapore or Hong Kong.  Equally diverse are the itineraries ranging from China to Vietnam to The Philippines to Myanmar to Indonesia.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

And, if you book your cruise with Goldring Travel you will also receive an added amenity ranging from a $300 onboard credit to a complimentary exclusive shore excursion to a one night pre or post cruise hotel stay PLUS the expert guidance and personalized service that only Goldring Travel provides.
Singapore's Famous Chili Crab

Remember the 10% off for payment in full offer expires February 28, 2017.

Give Goldring Travel a call or drop me an email...or click on the Chat Now link.

United States: (877) 2GO-LUXURY (877-246-5898)
United Kingdom: 020 8133 3450
Australia: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 530-562-9232
Email: eric@goldringtravel.com.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seabourn's Alaska- On Sale PLUS Goldring Travel Added Amenities

2017 marks Seabourn's return to Alaska, but Seabourn hasn't exactly been the best at marketing what makes experiencing Alaska on a Seabourn cruise special.  And, guess what? YOU get to benefit from it.

Seabourn's Alaska is Open for Booking NOW.
Don't Wait for Tomorrow!
Let me explain what makes Seabourn special...other than its more indepth itineraries:

  • Visit each port with 450 guests, not 4,500 passengers, on an inclusive, all-suite, luxury ship
  • Access to the dedicated Seabourn Expedition team which includes naturalists ranging from marine biologists to ornithologists through onboard lectures (Seabourn Conversations) and wildlife spotting programs on ship and shore and Seabourn's Ventures program 
  • Complimentary Klemtu Cultural Experience – an exclusive Seabourn event hosted by the local First Nations community on the 12- and 14-day itineraries
  • Scenic cruising of majestic Glacier Bay on 11-day itineraries, including narration by a Park Service Ranger
  • Access to the Seabourn Ventures program with zodiac, kayak and land expeditions
  • Experience Seabourn's "Caviar on the Ice" celebration
  • Receive a complimentary Seabourn all-weather jacket
  • For more details on what a Seabourn Alaska Experience is all about, click HERE
  • Seabourn's 11 Night Alaska Itinerary
    Seabourn's Ultimate Alaska and Inside Passage
    12 Night Itinerary
Seabourn's Ultimate Alaska 14 Night Itinerary

  • If you book your Seabourn Alaska cruise by March 14, 2017 you will also receive:
    •  A $400 per suite Ventures Shipboard Credit)
    • Actual, truly, Complimentary Economy Class Air from Seattle (SEA), Portland PDX), San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX)
    • If you take advantage of the Complimentary Economy Class Air you can Upgrade to Business Class for $399

In addition, if you book your Seabourn Alaska cruise with Goldring Travel you will receive Special Pricing PLUS your choice of an additional $300 Onboard Credit or a complimentary Ensemble Experience shore excursion (subject to sufficient participation).  (This is subject to some very limited restrictions.)

In addition to what makes Seabourn special during the cruise Seabourn offers The Denali Experience, an optional fully escorted custom-designed four day Seabourn Journey to be enjoyed before or after your cruise.

Now, let's talk price!  

Prices start at $3,999 + tax per person.  Remember when comparing:  On Seabourn gratuities are neither required nor expected, you have an open bar (including in your suite) and all alternative dining is complimentary.

Not good enough:  Seabourn is offering up a three category upgrade on select sailings.

Want more:  Book a Penthouse or better on select sailings and receive an additional $1,000 Onboard Credit.

Interested?  How could you not be?  Give Goldring Travel a call or drop me an email...or click on the Chat Now link.

United States:        (877) 2GO-LUXURY (877-246-5898)
United Kingdom:    020 8133 3450
Australia:               (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else:   +1 530-562-9232
Email:                    eric@goldringtravel.com.

Welcome to the Seabourn Encore - Is it YOUR Luxury?

Over the past weeks I have written extensively about the Seabourn Encore including many of her details (and there are a few more articles to come).

However, Seabourn has just released a truly excellent video showing of the ship and explaining a bit about her.  It is well worth a few minutes of your time.

As you watch it, try to envision, as Goldring Travel always says, "What is YOUR luxury?"  There are different styles of luxury ranging from the hardware to the cuisine to the service.

Now:  Do you see yourself on a Seabourn cruise?

If you think you might or if you can't wait to board a Seabourn ship, give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or +1 (530) 562-9232 or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thomas Keller's The Grill on Seabourn vs. Thomas Keller's Bouchon

After disembarking the Seabourn Encore's Inaugural Cruise last month and returned to my home in Lake Tahoe, California...only 3 hours from Yountville, California (fondly a/k/a ThomasKellerVille) I thought a side-by-side comparison of The Grill by Thomas Keller on Seabourn and Thomas Keller's land-based cuisine would be interesting; and deliciously fun.

First:  Perspective.  There is no way to deliver a full land-based Thomas Keller Per Se or French Laundry experience on the ocean so if you have any such preconceived ideas, please readjust your thoughts.

However, having been to Thomas Keller's American bistro experience at Bouchon in Yountville, California (in the heart of the Napa Valley, California) it is fair to compare with the American steakhouse experience on the Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Quest (and soon to be on the Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Odyssey).

Roast Chicken - The Grill by Thomas Keller
on the Seabourn Encore
Roast Chicken - Thomas Keller's Bouchon
Before I go any further, let me come clean:  I wanted an excuse to drive to Bouchon for lunch! I mean I had to order the chicken; a flavor that was burned into my culinary taste buds years ago when I first visited.  If you have seen me on either the Seabourn Quest or the Seabourn Encore you know I have told you to order the chicken and, to be sure, now you know I honestly mean it!

Pre-Meal Experience

While on the Seabourn Encore in January 2017 I would start my Thomas Keller experience at the Piano Bar and Lounge.  It is a fantastic lively venue and, to be sure, one of my favorite spaces on the ship.  It provides a great entree into the Thomas Keller experience with crafted cocktails, wonderful music, a truly beautiful bar and a comfortable lounge area.

The Bar at The Grill by Thomas Keller

Bouchon cannot compare in that regard, though there is a small bar and a courtyard with some tables. 

However, next to Bouchon is the Bouchon Bakery which has a line going out of the door from open to close.  And, yes, it is that good!  

Again, being honest, I did purchase some goodies before lunch including some of its world famous breads and desserts. 

Not sure if I liked the Bouchon Bakery's lemon tart, bread pudding
or rustic breads best.  Such trying decisions!
It is hard to decide which is venue is "better" as the experiences are so different.  Although  Bouchon Bakery is something special, it really isn't a pre-meal experience so I would have to give the edge to the Seabourn Encore.

Since we are jumping into desserts first, the lemon meringue tart
at The Grill by Thomas Keller is pretty darn good too! 
I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge what the Seabourn Quest's pastry chefs created and presented at The Grill by Thomas Keller...though not TK recipes

A specially made by the Seabourn pastry chefs
Caramel upon Caramel upon Caramel Dessert

An Extraordinary Birthday Cake
also made by the Seabourn pastry chets

A Spun Sugar Dome that covered the Birthday Cake
Pretty tough decision on who makes better desserts:  Seabourn or Thomas Keller?  I cannot possibly choose.

OK, now back to the comparison!

The Dining Experience

When you are seated at The Grill by Thomas Keller on the Seabourn Encore you are greeted by chilled crudites with a Green Goddess dressing and warm rolls. 

However, at Bouchon I was greeted with wonderful spicy mustard deviled eggs and a potted salmon rillette (fresh and smoked salmon) that was absolutely delicious that you spread over crusty baguette. (I have to admit I was treated royally at Bouchon, so don't expect all this to just come flowing out of the kitchen for you!)

Deviled Eggs
Salmon Rillette

Letting the clarified butter top warm to
room temperature is a decadent spread
on toasted baguette 
For lunch itself, (by the way, it is the same menu for dinner so the comparison remains valid) I have to admit that I did over-order at Bouchon because there was so much I wanted to try.  I started with a gnocchi and mushroom special that was almost too pretty to eat.  (But I got over that!)

Gnocchi with Mushrooms
Next up was duck confit with sauerkraut and French onion soup, which is so rich that the broth is almost black.

Duck Confit with Sauerkraut
The Richest French Onion Soup
Meanwhile on the Seabourn Encore, The Grill by Thomas Keller takes a slightly different and simpler approach to starters; however I should note that I did skip any sort of salad at Bouchon

Thomas Keller preparing a Caesar Salad on the Seabourn Encore

Chilled Artichoke

Crab Cake

Super-Chilled Iceberg Lettuce with Bacon
By the way Onion Soup is an option, as are a number of other dishes, but I either did not sample or order them during my dining experiences at The Grill.

Similarly, if you dine at Bouchon there is a very impressive fresh seafood menu and a number of other options that simply cannot be replicated on a ship, so I have not included them in this comparison.

So my conclusion at to starters:  It really depends on what sort of starters you want.  Clearly Bouchon offers more and of a variety that cannot be duplicated, so it wins on starters.  But if you wanted Thomas Keller to personally prepare your Caesar Salad...that probably would only occur on a Seabourn Inaugural Cruise.

Now, with starters completed, the main course is ready for comparison.  Most important for me:  The Chicken.  (Trust me:  Order the Chicken!!!)

I have to say that I was stunned.  I was totally prepared for Bouchon's chicken to be better, but it was not.  In a bit of an homage to Thomas Keller I would say that if they are not identical they are extremely close (though I am not so sure the same breed of chicken is used).  

Surprisingly:  I give the win to the The Grill by Thomas Keller because of its presentation.  On Seabourn the whole roasted chicken is beautifully presented...and then plated identically to Bouchon. (Note:  At Bouchon the chicken is presented with baby brussel sprouts with bacon lardons and chestnuts.  More on this later.)

What did not surprise me is that the meat dishes were unequivocally a draw.  The quality of the meats, be it rib eye, veal T-bone, lamb shank, etc. are simply of the highest possible quality and prepared to perfection by Thomas Keller trained chefs.

There is, however, one significant difference between Seabourn's The Grill by Thomas Keller and Bouchon when it comes to vegetable accompaniments:  At The Grill they tend to be served family style (as would normally be done in an American steakhouse) rather than integrated into the dish, as the meat dishes above show.

The Grill's Spinach, Mashed Potatoes, and Mushrooms

Bouchon's Truffle Fries
(Seabourn:  Get these on the ships!)
The Grills Mac 'n Cheese
(Order this!)

The Grill by Thomas Keller on the Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Quest does an amazing job of bringing Thomas Keller's American Bistro-Style cuisine to the seven seas (Yes, you can actually dine on Thomas Keller's cuisine on all seven seas...which is pretty cool in and of itself.)  And the TK Chefs onboard the Seabourn ships have the talent, facilities and ingredients to provide you with a truly incredible dining experience that is very close to some of that which is available at Bouchon.

Bouchon, however, is a very special restaurant that can do so many things so well...and I really just touched on some of the dishes.  In fact, as I conclude this article I must say I am feeling compelled to return to Bouchon and enjoy some of the many dishes that I did not sample this time.

Having engaged in this exercised I can honestly say it is amazing to me how Seabourn and Thomas Keller teamed up to produce such a high quality and diverse dining experience; one that actually does "hold a candle" to Bouchon!

By the way, if you would like to read more about The Grill at Thomas Keller, please read:  Seabourn Encore: The Inaugural Cruise - Part X (The Grill by Thomas Keller: Order the Chicken!)

A closing note:  The cuisine is unabashedly American so it is not going to be immediately accepted by some expecting the ordinary.  Just as someone dining in a French or Japanese restaurant, flavors, textures and presentations may be different than you are used to.  My suggestion is to embrace the differences and if the portions are, well, too American in size it's all right to not finish it.  (Remember when you wouldn't eat raw fish, but now love sushi?)  By the way, the Seabourn Encore offers that too:  Seabourn Encore: The Inaugural Cruise - Part VII (Sushi)

Interested in culinary experiences at sea? Give Goldring Travel a call or drop me an email

United States:             (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom:       020 8133 3450
Australia:                   (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else:      +1 530-562-9232

or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Project MANA (North Lake Tahoe's Food Panty) is Auctioning a 7 Day Seabourn Cruise

Goldring Travel is a believer in giving back to the community and being involved with Project MANA, North Lake Tahoe/Truckee's food pantry, serving both Nevada and California communities, is a private non-profit organization is one of those ways.  Goldring Travel has teamed up with Seabourn and Project MANA for the auction of a Seabourn cruise.

But before getting into the details...

Those that follow me know that I have the opportunity to "live the dream" in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee area, but one thing I have discovered is that our area is truly stratified between yjr "have" and "have not", with very little in between.  That is where Project MANA comes in.

Project MANA assists almost 3,000 individuals each year, distributing meals and groceries through four distribution centers in the area.  Project MANA partners with local grocery stores, vendors and food banks to rescue and distribute perishable foods that would otherwise go in the trash. It receives nonperishable food donations from food banks, individuals, employee groups, schools and community organizations.

But Project MANA's operation costs money.  In fact, last year it lost a critical grant forcing it to relocate from its long term home in Incline Village, Nevada and creating an even greater financial burden.

Seabourn Odyssey
And this is where Seabourn and Goldring Travel come in!

Now through February 28, 2017, Project MANA is auctioning off a seven (7) night Seabourn Mediterranean cruise on either the Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn or Seabourn Quest (if and when in the Med) in a Category V1 Veranda Suite.  See auction for details.

In addition, if anyone donates $100 or more, Goldring Travel will provide the donor with a certificate for $500 off any new Seabourn cruise booking made through Goldring Travel (even on the Seabourn Encore or Seabourn Ovation).

Please refer to the auction site for all of the details.

Or, of course, you can call Goldring Travel at (877) 2GO-LUXURY.