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The expedition ship MV Cascadia sailed the Haida Gwaii islands. Photo by Robert Waite.

In Part II of Robert Waite’s chronicle of his trip to remote Haida Gwaii — an archipelago off the west coast of Canada, in British Columbia — he takes us aboard the MV Cascadia, a small  expedition vessel that holds a maximum of 24 passengers.

Along with comfortable accommodations and amenities, the Cascadia provided plenty of opportunities for visiting the islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes, where the biological diversity is the richest on earth and Haida tribal culture is making a comeback.

If you haven’t read Part I of this two-part series, I suggest you go there now and you’ll have the full context for reading about this extraordinary journey.

By Robert Waite

Once aboard the Cascadia, much of our seven-day voyage was determined by weather and tides.

Tides on the east… Continue reading

Haida Gwaii’s mist-covered islands are sheer magic. Photo by Robert Waite.

In this post, Part I of a two-part series, guest contributor and baby boomer Robert Waite chronicles his journey to little-visited Haida Gwaii, previously known as the Queen Charlotte islands, off the coast of British Columbia.

Part I offers an introduction to the tumultuous history and compelling culture of the islands, while part II will detail his voyage through them aboard the MV Cascadia, a small expedition ship that allows for shallow landings and coastal kayaking trips while balancing comfortable accommodations with environmental protection.

Getting to explore Haida Gwaii personally is a far cry from the distant views afforded from Alaska-bound cruise ships as they pass Haida Gwaii sailing along the Inside Passage, often in the dead of night. Like me, if you’ve made that trip, you may have wondered what you were missing on those islands. Now we… Continue reading

The Murray Princess paddlewheeler at sunrise on the Murray River. Photo from Murray Princess.

The Murray Princess paddlewheeler at sunrise on the Murray River. Photo from Murray Princess.

My experience with Australian river cruises was something of a mixed bag. When our kids were young, my wife and I took them on a “Crocodile Cruise” on the Daintree River in far north Queensland.

The tropical setting was exotic, the little riverboat was appropriately atmospheric, and breakfast — including frontier-style Billy tea — was included.

The only problem: there were no crocs. Well, we did spot one baby croc toward the end of the day, at which point everyone on board started madly snapping pictures, none of which produced a clear image of the elusive reptile.

On the other hand, the boatman did allow our son, Grael, to play captain and steer the ship for a while, and we met some nice people onboard.

Our guest writer today, Sam Hoffman, lives in Australia and describes… Continue reading

Gorgeous Milford Sound on New Zealand's South Island. Photo by Clark Norton

Gorgeous Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island. Photo by Clark Norton

New Zealand is one of my favorite destinations.

I’ve hiked along the Milford Track and through Abel Tasman National Park, marveled at gorgeous valleys and mountains that served as dramatic backdrops for the “Lord of the Rings” saga, made my way through an eerie glowworm cave, cruised through ice blue narrow passages of Milford Sound, enjoyed the urban amenities of Auckland and Wellington, and dined on lamb, lamb, and more lamb (though there’s much more to the diverse Kiwi cuisine — I just like lamb).

The country consists of three main islands: North, South, and Stewart (the latter is much smaller), and climate can range from warm and tropical in the north to cold and wintry in the south. Don’t forget that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so beautiful Fjordland in the far south can… Continue reading

Pitcairn Island boasts some dramatic seascapes.

Pitcairn Island boasts some dramatic seascapes.

When my daughter, Lia, and her partner, Mike, traipsed into the wilds of North Carolina last August for an unobstructed view of the total eclipse of the sun, they also ventured into the rising realm of Astro Tourism — along with thousands of other Americans who journeyed near and far to find the ideal locales to witness that extraordinary celestial event.

Having just had cataract surgery, I wasn’t among them, alas, and here in Tucson the sky barely darkened during our partial eclipse, which was hundreds of miles south of the band of totality that swept across the U.S.

I was able to view the “super blue blood moon” eclipse on January 31, a lunar event that had not occurred in the United States since 1866. But that was visible right here in my front yard, and all it required was walking a few… Continue reading

The new Viking Star, the line's first ocean ship, cruises in Istanbul. Photo from Viking Cruises.

The new Viking Star, the line’s first ocean ship, cruises in Istanbul. Photo from Viking Cruises.

How many days in advance should you book a cruise to get the best price?

In part that depends on your destination, according to the website Cruisewatch.com, which uses artificial intelligence to study trends in worldwide cruising. In this case, says a Cruisewatch press release, they undertook a “massive study [that] examined 18,983 sailings by region with departures in 2017.”

They also conducted an “intensive analysis of over 18 million data points” (which are, of course, too numerous to detail in a press release or just about anywhere for that matter, but we are nonetheless grateful for modern technology).

Cruisewatch says the massive study found a “surprising trend: as the date of departure approaches, cruise prices fluctuate to a greater extent.” Some regions, they note, show as much as a 71… Continue reading

 Cologne Cathedral on Rhine River at night -- but watch for water levels. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Cologne Cathedral on Rhine River at night — but watch for water levels. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

What are the best seasons to travel?

I’m tempted to answer that FAQ with a one-word answer: Anytime. You’ll almost always find something positive in any trip, even if it rains every day.

But that’s the easy way out. A lot depends on where you’re going and what your specific interests are in that place. And a few destinations are limited to one particular season of the year.

Weather is often — though not always — the key factor.

A trip to Finland in summer, for instance, is very different than a trip to Finland in winter. Both have their charms — as do the fall and spring seasons there, for that matter. But you might as well be traveling to two different countries in  the Finnish July and January.

Most travelers… Continue reading

St. Petersburg, Russia: can be visited without a visa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

St. Petersburg, Russia: can be visited without a visa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Note: This is the sixth in a series of Baby Boomer Travel Guides and the fourth in the series focusing  on transportation options around the world. Please go here, here, and here for the previous posts. 

Scandinavia and the Baltic States compose far Northern Europe (we’ll cover Germany, The Netherlands, and some other northern European countries in a subsequent post), and feature some of the best scenery, most sparsely populated spaces, and lively yet historic cities in Europe.

Ships and trains offer the most convenient and comprehensive forms of transportation here, but driving among some of the countries is certainly doable.

And Denmark, especially, is well-suited to biking, with plenty of bike paths and flat terrain.

Getting Around The Baltics

The Baltic region is excellent for cruising because the main ports — Oslo,… Continue reading

Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) at dawn in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) at dawn in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Note: this is the fifth in a series of Baby Boomer Travel Guides. In our last post, we looked at the options for seeing the Caribbean. Today we focus on means of transport around the Mediterranean Sea.

When traveling around the Mediterranean region, you have a full range of options: taking a cruise ship or ferry boat, driving, taking trains, or flying between destinations.

(If you’re on a guided tour, you’ll most likely be traveling by bus, though other forms of transport may figure in as well.)

How you choose to get around this endlessly fascinating area is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make — maybe the biggest decision — regarding your Mediterranean trip. It will color your entire experience — for the better, we hope.

Each mode of transport has its… Continue reading

Terre de Haute, Iles des Saintes in the French Caribbean, is an idyllic spot open only to small ships. Photo by Catharine Norton

Terre de Haute, Iles des Saintes in the French Caribbean, is an idyllic spot open only to small ships. Photo by Catharine Norton

For your next trip, should you take a cruise, a train, a plane, drive a car — or try something different, like taking a cargo ship or long-distance passenger ferry?

That depends to a large degree on where you’re going and what kind of travel experience you hope to have.  Different areas of the world — as well as differing expectations — lend themselves to different forms of transportation.

In this series, we’ll take a look at different options for getting around various areas of the world — starting with the Caribbean.

Navigating The Caribbean

This one is easier than most, or so it seems at first glance.

If you’re headed to one island in search of a beach resort or some cultural… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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