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Archive for October, 2017

Updated 2018 Ports of Call & Ways to Support Recovery Efforts in US Virgin Islands

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Holistic Holiday at Sea Port of Call 2013

There’s just a little over three months to go before February 15–25, 2018, when the 15th Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise sets sail. We are looking forward to a great event! We are sold out, except for a few suites. If you would like to come, but haven’t booked yet, we do have a wait list in case rooms open up! Email your name, phone number, type of room you would like, and the number in your party to info@lorrainetravel.com.

As many of you know, our original itinerary was changed by MSC Cruises due to the damage to several islands caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. With those islands focused on recovery efforts, MSC arranged for us to visit alternative destinations further south and east, in order to ensure a great vacation experience. We’re especially excited about the four ports that we will be visiting for the first time, and also about returning to St. Thomas, one of the favorite ports of past guests.

Since 2004, Holistic Holiday at Sea has been traveling throughout the Caribbean, and we feel deeply about the communities that were affected by the hurricanes. We’d like to update you on what MSC Cruises is doing and Holistic Holiday is planning in this regard.

First, we applaud the MSC Group—including the Mediterranean Shipping Company and MSC Cruises—for their engagement in both short- and long-term relief efforts, including procurement and complimentary shipping of needed goods to support the Caribbean islands most impacted by the hurricanes. These efforts are ongoing and will continue as MSC helps the Caribbean recover as quickly as possible.

Holistic Holiday at Sea president, Sandy Pukel, will be donating some of the proceeds of an onboard raffle to the recovery efforts. There will be lots of great prizes, so this is another way to contribute and hopefully win something, too!

A number of you have asked about what you can do to help. St. Thomas is the only port we will be visiting that was impacted by the hurricanes in September, and recovery efforts are well underway. Stay tuned for more updates on what we can do to help the people who feel like family in the Caribbean.

The Updated Itinerary

The MSC Divina will depart from Miami, Florida, and head to the following ports of call in the southeastern Caribbean:

  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI
  • Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Fort-de-France, Martinique
  • Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe

You can view the itinerary here.

In 2017, we traveled to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Historically, the cruise has alternated between the Eastern and West Caribbean, but for our next cruise, there will be primarily brand new ports, in part made possible by the extension from seven days to ten. “There is extra time so we will not be pressed to fit everything in,” says Sandy Pukel, HHAS president.

Lectures will take place when we are not at a port so the maximum amount of time can be allotted to exploring these new places. Giving guests many opportunities to see new sights and learn about different points of history is an important part of the cruise’s mission. “Different cultures are always educational and exciting to experience,” says Sandy.

The Ports

Basseterre (Photo courtesy of MSC)

Basseterre (Photo courtesy of MSC)

Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands was founded in 1681 by Danish settlers. What was then a colonial trading post is now a bustling town. The Three Queens Fountain honors three important women who led a successful 1878 labor revolt against the Danish Government: Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen Josiah. Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, Charlotte Amalie features charming cobblestone alleyways and 17th century Danish fortifications. The combination of old and new is any history buff’s dream.

Founded in 1627 by the French, Basseterre (French for lower ground) is one of the oldest towns in the Eastern Caribbean. The capital of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre attracts visitors for its beaches, resorts, and marinas. One of the two centers features a green clock tower and water fountain known as the Piccadilly Circus, or the Circus.

Many visitors to Martinique’s capital city of Fort-de-France check out the Fort St-Louis, after which the city was named. Beach goers will not be disappointed as there are many spots to lounge by the water. Exports of Fort-de-France, Martinique, include rum, bananas, cacao, and pineapples.

Bridgetown, Barbados

Bridgetown (Photo courtesy of MSC)

Formerly the town of Saint Michael, Bridgetown is on the southwest coast of Barbados. Known for its British colonial architecture, Bridgetown has many historic sites, such as Morgan Lewis Windmill (last operating sugar windmill in Barbados), St. John’s Parish Church, National Heroes Square, and the oldest Jewish synagogue in the western hemisphere.

A city on the island of Grand-Terre in Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre is a fashion hub with a vibrant marketplace. The smell of aromatic spices will greet you in the marketplace where you can find locally woven fabric and fresh fruits and vegetables. Beautiful French architecture awaits you, such as the Cathédrale de St-Pierre et St-Paul, nicknamed the “Iron Cathedral” because of its iron girders.

Caribbean Hurricane Relief Organizations

US Virgin Islands Recovery

Here you can donate directly to St Thomas and “100% of your donation will benefit those in crisis” (via Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands).

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has been operating in the USVI for more than 25 years. It has supported past relief efforts in the region and is working closely with government and community providers to identify priorities and direct resources for immediate needs as well as long-term recovery efforts.

YouCaring 21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund

Former San Antonio Spurs basketball star Tim Duncan, who grew up on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, created the 21 U.S. Virgin Island Relief Fund when Irma hit the island. Now, in the aftermath of Maria, the fundraising goal has been increased to $5 million. Duncan matched the first $1 million in donations. $2,742,158 has been raised so far by 21,538 donors. The goal is $5,000,000.

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)

CDEMA is a regional, inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean. Members include the Virgin Islands, Barbuda and Dominica—all territories devastated by the recent storms. Donations to the CDEMA Hurricane Relief Fund will be used to purchase relief supplies and support early recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by these hurricanes and we will continue to update you on our efforts to ensure an amazing experience for our guests and support efforts of rehabilitation in the US Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands.

A Holistic Cruise for All Ages: Tips from Parents on Vegan Travel

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Do you remember your favorite vacation from childhood? It was probably packed with activities, interesting sights and sounds, and new friends. At Holistic Holiday at Sea, we want our annual voyage to appeal to people of all ages, from the curious toddler to the seasoned world traveler. We work hard to create a fun, healthy experience that every member of your family can enjoy.

Kane and Donavon Borchert on HHAS in Jamaica

Parents tell us over and over again that one of the most special aspects of Holistic Holiday at Sea is the fact that all of the activities and amenities cater to all generations. Our vegan cruise is by no means an experience for adults only. Far from it!

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next Holistic Holiday at Sea experience if you are traveling with young sailors.

Lectures & Workshops Familiarize Children with Healthy Habits

Lee Salvatore has never missed a Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise. In 2004, she attended the very first voyage with only 410 passengers. At the time, she was exploring integrative medicine and had studied with Michio Kushi. She knew that people with serious conditions were getting better when eating more plants and less meat. At the time, Lee was living in Washington, D.C. About four years ago she moved with her family to Weehawken, New Jersey.

With the cruise, she really didn’t know what she was in for. “I thought this could be something interesting,” she says. “It turned out to be much more than I expected.”

Lee was delighted by the whole experience. She says there were so many presenters on that first cruise who were on the leading edge of the plant-based movement. “They brought all these experts from all these different countries and had them speak.”

The Earnest sisters (from L to R: Brooke, Ashley, Arden & Aubrey) on HHAS in 2007

Lee and her husband Jerry Earnest have four daughters (Brooke, Arden, and twins Ashley and Aubrey Earnest). Their first HHAS cruise all together was in 2005. Brooke was age 8, Arden was 5, and Ashley and Aubrey were 4. At the time, the family was following a pescatarian lifestyle, transitioning into plant-based.

“When they were little, I brought them into some of the lectures and they would sit there and color and do drawings,” says Lee. “By being exposed to that over the years, they started adopting the language and they got old enough to understand charts, diagrams, and statistics. So, in the last few years that we all went, they would sit there and pay attention.” She says that they grew up respecting leaders in the movement, such as Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Sherry Rogers. “Even if at that point in time, the child isn’t eating that way, the information is stored in their heads. As the years went by, they understood the science.”

An Abundance of Culinary Choices

The Earnest sisters (from L to R: Ashley, Brooke, Aubrey & Arden) with Chef Mark Hanna on Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2016

Like Lee’s family in 2005, many folks new to the cruise are just beginning their transition into plant-based. While many are committed to the vegan lifestyle, some are just testing the waters. Lee wants other parents to know that non-vegan food is also available if your child hasn’t gotten used to eating those foods yet. “You can bring your children to the food area and see what they will and won’t eat. You don’t have to be stressed out that if they don’t eat the soup or what’s being offered, you still have all the options available to you.”

Children will often grab a big table and sit together during meal times. At school or friend’s houses, it may be rare that your children are surrounded by plant-based eaters. On the ship, however, your child who is perhaps transitioning to this diet and can see other children eat that way and how delicious it can be! The gourmet food is so tasty that meat-eaters can easily get hooked.

It’s a great chance to make new friendships for kids—and adults, too! “We’re one big family,” says Lee. “It’s almost like somebody handpicked really nice, compassionate, caring people and put them all on the boat. It’s very easy to make lasting friendships.”

Excursions Feed Curiosity

Donavon and Kane Borchert in Puerto Rico on HHAS

Be sure to pack your children bathing suits! While there’s so much to do on the boat, exploring ports of call is a great way to try new things. Lee has frequently done the excursions, which are organized group activities at each stop. Denise Borchert, of California, has two sons, Kane (age 16) and Donavon (12). Her family began going on the cruise in 2011 when the boys were 9 and 5, respectively. Her sons’ favorite aspects of the cruise are the parties, visiting the ports of call, and meeting people and having reunions with friends from years past. They love adventure!

Denise’s advice to parents going on the cruise for the first time is to “include your kids in everything you do (even the lectures on board!), have fun with them in the ports (going on the beach, snorkeling, ziplining, exploring, etc.), and going to all of the social events, and meeting new people.”

The Talent Show Brings People Together

The Earnest sisters playing violin on Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2007

Many cruise goers remember Lee’s daughters from their performances in the Talent Show. In 2005, with violins in hand, the girls played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for the audience. They also performed for an audience of only children in the kids area. Over the years, Ashley went from violin to viola and Aubrey went from violin to cello, while Brooke and Arden stayed with violin. They are now a complete quartet and attending conservatories for music.

The Talent Show is open to everyone and people are encouraged to bring their instruments (or other talent tools) and sign up!

MSC’s Onboard Childcare Services Offer Peace of Mind

Safety is always our number one priority aboard the ship. The MSC ship has professional and experienced childcare staff to accommodate adults and their children.

Want childcare so you can get an hour-long massage or stroll around the boat? Free baby care and childcare is available while the ship is sailing and during disembarkation for excursions. The Mini Club is reserved for children under three years old to play and mingle. The MSC Cruises Kids’ Club is a free service designed for children between the ages of 3 to 17. Four separate Kids’ Club programs are available, tailored to specific age groups. MSC has partnered with the largest baby brand in Europe, Osservatorio Chicco Baby Research Center, to offer guests free baby essentials, including strollers, backpacks, and high chairs, among other useful items.

MSC Kids’ Club Activities include popular sporting games, arts and crafts, theater, and technology. Onboard space dedicated to the Kids’ Club Program has expanded and kids can now use other areas of the ship, including the disco, theater, and sports courts.

Whether you’re 2 or 92, there’s something for everyone on the MSC Divina. Join us on the 2018 and make family memories that will last a lifetime!

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