Archive for the ‘Romantic’ Category

Sailing Away: 2 Extraordinary Cruise Ship Alternatives

March 1, 2010

Royal Clipper Cruise ShipAs a general rule, I’m not a big fan of cruises.  The idea of watching the world pass by from atop a floating high-rise hotel, visiting over-commercialized ports-of-call with thousands of fellow passengers in what feels like an invading tourist army, and sitting through sequin-encrusted musical revues just isn’t my idea of a good time.

Which makes it all the more surprising that I find myself drawn to these two remarkable “cruising” adventures.  Though they differ in scale, both offer a chance to have true extraordinary experiences that go way beyond simply oohing-and-ahhing at the elaborate ice sculpture anchoring a traditional cruise ship’s midnight buffet:

Tall Ships

While the region you’re traveling through is the most obvious attraction to any cruise, there’s a lot to be said for sailing aboard a ship that has its own unique appeal.  Like the 439-foot Royal Clipper, for example.  With its 42 sails unfurled from five masts, the world’s largest sailing ship is an imposing spectacle you’re not likely to see again anytime soon.  And if feeling yourself being carried along by the power of the wind isn’t enough of an adventure for you, there’s the chance to visit distinctly less touristy destinations and try once-in-a-lifetime on-board activities like climbing up to the crow’s nest to enjoy the panoramic view.

Small Boats

While the idea of chartering a sailboat and island-hopping through the Caribbean sounds romantic in theory, from a practical perspective the lofty price tag and steep learning curve put the experience out of many people’s reach.  Which is where the idea of being a crew member aboard one of the luxury sailboats that ply the waters of this yachter’s paradise comes in.  While you’ll need some sailing experience for most paying gigs, there are a few boats that will take complete novices who are willing to pay a reasonable daily rate and invest a little sweat equity by raising sails and pitching in with a few chores.  To learn more and get an idea of whether this affordable cruise ship alternative is right for you, check out this New York Times story of one such trip aboard the two-masted schooner S.V. Illusion.

MORE COOL STUFF:

Making Waves: Take The Wheel While Sailing Aboard An Authentic America’s Cup Yacht

Three Places to OD On Chocolate

January 28, 2010

Chocolate Experiences

Too much chocolate? No such thing!

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I got to wondering whether it was actually possible to have too much chocolate.

Well, I did a little digging and found these three extraordinary experiences that will let you test that theory—I know, tough job, but somebody has to do it—by sampling a ridiculously wide range of indulgences produced from the seeds of the lowly cacao tree:

A Chocolate-Covered Month

Hershey, Pennsylvania—the self-proclaimed “Sweetest Place On Earth”—is offering hundreds of chocolate-themed activities this February, ranging from family-friendly Chocolate Lab experiences that allow you to whip up your own tasty treats to romantic multi-course chocolate-themed dinners.  To say nothing of the Spa at the Hotel Hershey, where you can wallow in signature treatments like the Whipped Cocoa Bath that sound good enough to eat.

China’s Chocolate Wonderland

This new Beijing attraction promises to be every bit as over-the-top as the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics.  The 215,000 square-foot temperature-controlled indoor theme park opens tomorrow showcasing all kinds of chocolaty goodness, including scaled-down chocolate replicas of the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors.  Best move fast if you hope to see it, however, as this real-life Willy Wonka fantasy shuts down for the season in April.

Will Walk For Chocolate

To say the folks at New York Chocolate Tours are a little obsessed with the stuff might actually be an understatement.  They offer nearly a dozen walking tours each week that allow guests to sample the exotic delicacies of some of the Big Apple’s best gourmet chocolate purveyors.

Related Experiences:

The Original Chocolate Factory

New York Chocolate Show

Famous Fat Dave’s NYC Eating Tours