A handful of shore options call out to us, from the shores of the Caribbean to the fjords of New Zealand.
florence One of the most romantic cities on earth, Florence should be a bucket list “must” for everyone but especially for couples. Princess Cruises’ offers a day tour of the glorious city with the Florence, Accademia & Uffizi Museums itinerary, which departs from Livorno. The walking tour of this renaissance jewel visits the Galleria dell’Accademia, the world’s first art school, home to Michelangelo’s David and other masterpieces, then a stop at the Piazza del Duomo to admire the emblematic dome so representative of Florence and the Baptistery, filled with ancient mosaics and reliefs of scenes from the Bible on massive bronze doors. Then it’s off to the Piazza della Signoria, an open-air museum of sorts, and the beautiful Ponte Vecchio, the beautiful arch bridge over the Arno River, filled with shops and cafes. After lunch, clients will spend some time at the Uffizi Museum to admire some of the world’s most beautiful paintings, including Botticelli’s famous “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “The Annunciation.”
This excursion starts at $179 pp and is available on quite a few of Princess’ cruises, including the 12-day Grand Mediterranean from Venice to Barcelona aboard the Ruby Princess, which starts at $1,599 pp dbl with departure dates from June through September of this year and the next. The cruise also visits Venice, Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Rome, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Clients who want time to themselves can choose Florence & Time On Your Own, which offers a short guided tour and free time for $89.
Contact: (800) PRINCESS; princess.com
the bvi A sunny afternoon spent exploring the natural grottos of The Baths at Virgin Gorda or splashing about the shoreline of Jost Van Dyke is time not easily forgotten. Despite its occasional wild-party atmosphere, we’re partial to the British Virgin Islands’ unspoiled beaches and carefree ambiance, as it’s yet to lose its “true Caribbean” vibe. This is one of those island getaways that we never tire of, in fact, with always-sparkling waters and as much excitement underwater as there is above it.
Star Clippers’ 7-night Treasure Islands jaunt gives clients ample time to play among the huge boulders and saltwater pools of Virgin Gorda and swim, hike and explore Jost Van Dyke, plus have a few drinks at famous Foxy’s on Great Harbour. Departing from and returning to Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, it also spends a day exploring other islands along the Sir Francis Drake Channel, including Norman Island, the site of Sir Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and Soper’s Hole in Tortola, where the elegant Star Clipper spends the night. Other port of calls include St. Kitts, St. Barths and Anguilla.
The Treasure Islands itinerary starts at $1,875 pp dbl, with two departures per month from November through March. This 4-mast beauty has lots of lounging space indoors and sunning spots outside—we love the widow’s net for a nap or a quiet read—plus two swimming pools and watersports equipment for snorkeling, windsurfing and more. Passengers can complement their getaway with an onboard massage or morning fitness class.
Contact: (800) 442-0551; starclippers.com
phnom penh It might seem like an odd choice for a “sexy” shore excursion, but the dusty wonders of Cambodia’s electric capital have long been an exotic secret for brave travelers. The city is still a work in progress even decades after freeing itself from the Khmer Rouge, but still preserves the magic of a once-glorious era. AMA Waterways’ 16-day Vietnam, Cambodia & the Riches of the Mekong provides a rich glimpse into present and past life in Phnom Penh through a city tour and visits to its Royal Palace and National Museum, while also showing clients what life on the shores of the Mekong is all about and adding land time in Cambodia and Vietnam.
Guests spend two nights exploring Hanoi before enjoying an overnight stay in a traditional wooden junk in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay. Then it’s off to Siem Reap in Cambodia for three nights of exploration; clients visit part of Angkor Archaeological Park, including the main temple of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer empire, established in the latter part of the 12th century. They’ll also visit the temples of Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm before embarking on their 7-day cruise along the Mekong River and journeys on oxcart rides, visits to Buddhist monasteries and local markets, slipper- and candy-making workshops and more. On board, they’ll be privy to an array of folkloric dance and musical performances, as well as culture chats and assorted entertainment. Prices for 2012 start at $3,148 pp dbl.