Tag Archives: venice

Cruise the Adriatic Sea with Star Clippers

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How about a cruise down the romantic Dalmatian coast this Fall? Few experiences rival embarking a tallship in full sails in the canals of Venice and sailing down the Croatian coast.

Star Clippers is a luxury ship experience with a casual vibe. In September and October, their 170-passenger flagship Star Clipper sails to colorful and irresistible locales in Croatia and the Greek Isles.

The size and nature of the ship allows it to visit ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships. Explore the tiny port of Hvar Island, a favorite getaway for Byzantines and Venetians. Marvel at the architectural jewel that is Dubrovnik. Coast along Montenegro to the unspoiled medieval city of Kotor, and farther south into the colorful harbor of Mykonos.

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Equipped with 4 masts and 16 sails, the Clipper sails no more than 17 knots through the alluring Adriatic Sea. Onboard facilities include an elegant dining room, library, piano lounge and tropical bar.

WIT Agents Nancy and Linda have sailed with Star Clippers, around the Caribbean and Tahiti respectively, and rave about the line. They’d love to tell you more! Drop them a line for some firsthand feedback. Or call our agency at 503-224-0180 for more information.

For pics from Nancy’s Caribbean cruise on the Star Clipper, check out our gallery: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/gallery/star-clipper-portholes/

 “The Star Clipper experience is all about relaxation and rejuvenation, not sticking to a script. This will sound weird but I’m especially excited about my last night onboard! Why? I can enjoy dinner, socializing with my new friends, and savoring the wonderful week I’ve had and NOT race to meet the deadline to have my luggage outside my cabin! Nor do I have weave between masses of bags littering the hallways. Cruising on Star Clipper really means that the vacation fun doesn’t shrink on the last night; it rolls through breakfast.” ~~ Nancy

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Filed under Croatia, Cruises, Europe, Greece, Italy, Star Clipper

All Aboard Italy!

Everyone loves Italy. And with its rich abundance of food, art, scenic drives and romantic waterways, what’s not to love? As a diverse country with so much to offer, Italy is a great destination for the train-hopper. Here’s some of the best destinations on rail in the country:

Ask Yourself: Should I get an Italy Rail Pass? Italy Rail Passes are generally not good value for most people, as regional trains tend to be very low cost, and major trains almost always require seat reservations. You will probably spend your rail time on the main circuit of Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome, and first class fares for these are generally low enough that they don’t warrant a rail pass. It’s less expensive to buy point to point train tickets. When in doubt, ask our travel agents if a rail pass is right for you.

Ventimiglia (c) Mark Fischer, Creative Commons

Ventimiglia. Usually the first stop on a route from Nice, France, Ventimiglia is a great introduction to Italian culture. Make a detour on your route to Milan or Genoa to explore the town’s gorgeous medieval city center and famous Friday Outdoor Market. Nice to Ventimiglia: 45min. Ventimiglia to Genoa: 2h.

Verona. Most lauded as the setting for three Shakespearean plays, Verona is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That means cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, Roman churches, and the Juliet balcony. You can stop in Verona for a few days on your way to Venice or to the northern town of Bressanone-Brixen. Verona to Venice: 1h-1.30h.

Verona (c) David Schiersner, Creative Commons

La Spezia. This town is the first stop for many travelers heading on to Cinqueterre. With a scenic waterfront and modern port, its inspirational center has charmed poets from Byron to Shelley to DH Lawrence, earning its nickname: the Gulf of Poets. Florence to La Spezia: 2h, with a change in Pisa.

Turin. Turin is a major city often overshadowed by its grand neighbors. But don’t overlook its beautiful baroque architecture or the excellent truffles and wine available at its restaurants. Turin is also home to the famous Shroud of Turin, displayed only once every 10 years. Turin to Milan: 45min.

Turin et ses arcades

Turin and the Arcades (c) Frederique Voisin-Demery, Creative Commons

Milan. The unofficial capital of the north, Milan is the center of commerce, fashion and design. Don’t miss the spectacular Duomo, and “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. Much of its old architecture was demolished during the WWII bomb raids, however since then Milan has rebuilt itself into a thriving new cosmopolitan city, a major hub for soccer and shopping! Milan to Florence: 2h.

Naples. The birthplace of pizza has one of the largest historic center in the world, covering over 4,000 acres and 27 centuries. It has the largest collections of antique churches (448) in the world. Naples is a great base for exploring nearby Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii—and the city is often the first stop for travelers heading to the Isle of Capri or Sorrento. Rome to Naples: 1h.

Venice. With its romantic gondolas, ancient canals and gorgeous glass traditions, Venice has long been known as the jewel of Italy. Part of its charm is its incredibly preserved lagoon, virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago. Florence to Venice: 2h.

Florence. Florence is the center of aficionados of art and architecture. As the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence’s artistic gems still stand tall—the Uffizi, the Accademia, the Pitti Palace. Visit the library of San Lorenzo for its magnificent Michelangelo exhibition. Venice to Florence: 2h, Florence to Rome: 1h30m.

Sunset over Florence (c) Steve, Creative Commons

Rome. All roads lead to Rome, and all the trains do too! Easily accessible from Florence in the north, and Naples in the south, Rome is often the first or last stop on any Italian itinerary. You could spend at least a week here exploring the museums, Roman ruins, Vatican City, and that elusive dolce vita (the sweet life)—and it still wouldn’t be enough time in Roma! Continuing internationally? Hop on an overnight train from Rome to Vienna, Innsbruck, Munich, or even Paris (connecting in Milan)!

Thinking of a trip to Italy? Our agents have extensive travel experience all through Italy and can advise you on air tickets, rail, villa rentals, hotels, and the best time to go! Give us a call at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Read our related post about Vatican fun facts!

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Europe, Italy, Travel by Rail

Your Summer Guide to Cruising the Adriatic Sea

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Hunting a unique destination? Explore the Adriatic Sea, one of Europe’s most alluring waterways. Uncover ancient heritage and breathtaking bays. A variety of cruise options sail from Venice, Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast and into the emerald waters of Greece and Turkey. 

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sample itinerary, photo credit Star Clippers

There’s nothing quite like sailing out of Venice, traveling past the MOSE flood control gates one minute, and by fishermen in small boats the next. The MOSE project is a system of mobile gates installed at various inlets that temporarily isolate the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic during high tides. Check out more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOSE_Project

Interesting sidebar: The Italian government has recently been considering banning large cruise ships into the Venetian lagoon due to concern over environmental damage. The issue hasn’t been put into law yet, but for who knows how long? This year or the next might be the last time you can sail from Venice on a larger cruise vessel! (UPDATE: Italy overturned the ban but just for now!)

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Mediterranean Port, photo credit WIT Agent Nancy

Crystal Cruises: Crystal is offering 6-day sailings from Corfu to Venice. Explore the Dalmatian coast at leisure, from Dubrovnik and Korcula in Croatia to Koper in Slovenia. This Adriatic getaway sails on the Crystal Serenity and serves 1,070 guests.

Royal Caribbean: RCI’s 1,830-guest Splendour of the Seas sails a near-pure 7-night Greek itinerary out of Venice this year, as well as a roundtrip Venice that stops in the archaeological wonder of Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey. Go island-hopping in the emerald waters from the Ionians to the Cyclades.

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Windstar: Prefer a vessel more intimate? Windstar’s small ships 212-guest Star Pride and 310-guest Wind Surf sail July to October between Venice and Athens. In 8-9 days, they sail from magnificent ports such as Athens, Butrint, Hvar and Dubrovnik. The Wind Surf will take you to hidden gems of the Croatian Riviera: Brindisi, Gythion, and Rovinj, memorable days of breathtaking sunsets on teak decks below white sails. The Star Pride sails to secret Greek Isles: Hydra, Corinth Canal, Delphi, as well as the salmon-roofed Montenegrin port of Kotor.

Star Clippers: This summer and fall Star Clippers’ 170-passenger flagship will be embarking on a classic 12-day cruise through the Adriatic from Athens to Venice. The ship sails to familiar destinations such as Hvar, Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos, as well the irresistible beaches of Cikat Bay and Katakolon. The fleet of Star Clippers is all traditional tall-mast sailing ships, with 4 masts, 16 sails, traveling languidly at no more than 17 knots at its fastest. A perambulatory and nostalgic way to enjoy the seas. (Star Clipper’s June 28 sailing starts at $2,714 per person and includes a free upgrade.)

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Star Clippers, photo credit WIT Agent Nancy

Princess Cruises: If you’re looking for a longer itinerary on a larger vessel, Princess may be your best bet: the 12-day Grand Mediterranean sails eastward on the Dalmatian, through Athens and Istanbul, before curving westward to Rome, Livorno, Toulon in France and Barcelona in Spain. This sailing is on the brand-new and sparkling 3,560-guest Regal Princess, due out next month May 2014, and space is filling up quickly!

Interested in finding out more about what’s on offer? Call Willamette Intl Travel agents today. Our staff has sailed with all of these lines and would love to find the Adriatic itinerary that’s right for you and your family. Call now: both 2014 and 2015 Europe seasons are open to book. Ask us about Spring Sales; several cruise lines are offering perks such as reduced deposit, no single supplement and last minute discounts.

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Filed under Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Europe, Greece, Italy, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Star Clipper, Travel by Ship, Windstar Cruises