From Costa Rica to India, Three Unique Voyage Reports Are Coming Soon

The next two months promise to be some very exciting times here on From the Deck Chair, with three decidedly unique Voyage Reports that will take us into March. From big mainstream ships to small expedition-style vessels to river cruising one of the world’s most exotic and least-understood rivers, these three voyages show just how different and diverse cruising can be.

January – Un-Cruising Through Costa Rica and Panama

Safari Voyager’s route through Costa Rica and Panama. Illustration courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures.

First up, I’ll be joining Un-Cruise Adventures on January 14 for a weeklong, small-ship expedition voyage through Costa Rica and Panama. Departing from San Jose and concluding in Colon, Panama on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal, it’s not so dissimilar from the trip I did last year aboard Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze.

But while the itinerary may look the same, the experience will be decidedly different. I love the Un-Cruise way of seeing the world, aboard relaxed, intimate ships that offer plenty of inclusions with the kind of personable, friendly crews you’d expect on a family member’s private yacht. Having sailed with the line in Alaska, the Sea of Cortes and on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, I’ve felt instantly at home every time I’ve stepped aboard an Un-Cruise ship, and it’s one of the many things that keep the line’s loyal guests coming back.

I’m also looking forward to experiencing the newly-refitted Safari Voyager. Capable of carrying just 62 guests, she was stripped down to the steel last year for a massive overhaul that touched nearly every technical, public and accommodations space onboard.

The 174-foot long ship now sports a magnificent Owner’s Suite in place of the former Library all the way forward, and the ship’s Restaurant and Lounge have been graced with new furniture, wall treatments and soft furnishings. All 32 guest staterooms have been completely redone with new air conditioning, wall treatments, mattresses, soft furnishings and amenities, and the ship has been outfitted with Un-Cruise’s trademark E-Z Launch platform for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, which I am looking forward to taking advantage of in Costa Rica.

Of course, the other thing I like about Un-Cruise Adventures is that the line doesn’t offer Wi-Fi internet access on any of its ships. I’d written late last year that I was discontinuing trying to post “live” in favor of posting more polished reports when I return, so this seems like the perfect voyage to enforce that new policy.

Sailing: January 14 – 22, 2017. Voyage Report: January 23 – 31, 2017.

February – Baja Mexico aboard Carnival Inspiration

In February, we’re setting out aboard Carnival Inspiration for a quick run to Baja Mexico. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

I am seriously excited about this four-day voyage to Baja Mexico from Long Beach, California aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Inspiration. Why? Because it’s chocked full of firsts for me, and I’m hoping it will acta as a good insight for those who have always thought about popping down to Los Angeles for a quick cruise to Mexico and back, but weren’t sure what to expect from the experience.

The itinerary is your basic Baja Mexico run, with a call on Catalina Island, California; Ensenada, Mexico; and an always enjoyable Fun Day at Sea. I’ve armed myself with maps, books and shore excursions in every port of call, so I’m hoping to make the most of my short time in each of these places.

But let’s be honest: I’m in this to sail aboard the funky Carnival Inspiration. Built in 1995, she was refitted last year with all of my favorite Carnival Cruise Line features, including Guy’s Burger Joint, the RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Cantina and Tequila Bar, and my personal favorite, the Alchemy Bar. The latter serves up the best cocktails at sea, made-to-order by Carnival’s professional mixologists.

The three-week, multimillion-dollar refit was undertaken last year in Portland, Oregon, and refreshed the ship’s existing public areas and accommodations. Carrying just 2,056 guests, Carnival Inspiration now makes her home year-round in Long Beach, where she operates three and four-day Baja Mexico runs that depart on Mondays and Fridays.

I’m also excited about sailing Carnival Inspiration, as she will be my first Fantasy Class cruise experience, after having sailed with Carnival aboard the newer and larger Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Miracle, and Carnival Pride. And I’m looking forward to the experience. Carnival is one of the few cruise lines to have kept its older, classic vessels around, and practically the only line to have invested so heavily in keeping them looking sharp and stocked with the latest amenities and FunShip 2.0 Enhancements.

Sailing: February 6 – 10, 2017. Voyage Report: February 13 – 17, 2017.

February & March – India’s Ganges River with G Adventures

In March, I’ll join G Adventures’ Varuna on India’s Ganges River. Photo courtesy of G Adventures

This river cruise could very well be the most exotic sailing I’ll participate in all year: a 9-day cruisetour along India’s Ganges River departing roundtrip from Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta).

I’ll be cruising along with Toronto-based G Adventures, which offers river cruises along the Ganges in addition to cruise-tour voyages that explore the Amazon, the Mekong, the canals of France, and oceangoing expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. The company’s chartered ship, Varuna, holds just 24 guests, which is part of the allure of G Adventures: intimate, small-group travel that is designed to immerse guests into the unique culture of the destination.

I’m also excited about this trip because it includes so many other ways to experience India, from an included hotel stay in Kolkata to a day-long journey aboard one of India’s (in)famous trains in order to reach the Varuna at her embarkation port of Farakka.

Itinerary map courtesy of G Adventures.

What to expect on this trip? To be honest, I have no idea. But I will be very interested in seeing how this voyage along the Ganges compares to exotic river cruises along the Mekong and the Irrawaddy in Southeast Asia, and who should go. India is a very different country and I look forward to experiencing all of it – the good and the bad – on this exciting journey.

Sailing: February 28 – March 10, 2017. Voyage Report: March 20 – 31, 2017 (to leave time for the Seatrade Cruise Conference March 13-16 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida).


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