Ports of Call: Nautica sailed from Mumbai, India, to Dubai and Fujairah, United Arab Emirates; Muscat and Salālah, Oman; Aqaba, Jordan; Luxor, Egypt; Haifa, Israel; Limassol, Cyprus; Rhodes and Santoríni, Greece; Ephesus, Turkey; Valletta, Malta; and Palermo, Sorrento and Civitavecchia, Italy.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Our voyage began April 29 in Mumbai and ended May 27 in Civitavecchia. Oceania did not plan our travel to and from the ship, but that did not diminish the service, easy boarding and welcome from the entire crew. Luggage was transported directly to the suite, an entirely seamless process.
One morning in port, I watched the buses prepare for tours. To my surprise, 10 members of Oceania’s housekeeping staff, in full uniform, departed the ship with sprayer bottles, buckets and cleaning cloths. Each boarded a bus and proceeded to spray and clean the interior and exterior of the buses for Oceania guests. How’s that for attention to detail?
Stateroom: This 28-day voyage was our seventh with Oceania; we book early to secure a Penthouse, especially for this extensive a cruise. This small, 600-passenger ship features a 240-square-foot Penthouse with a bathtub and shower, truly a luxury accommodation. Oceania offers 120v electrical, convenient for U.S. passengers. Computer, lap robes and bathrobes, good reading lights, luxury linens and consistent cleanliness are Oceania hallmarks.
Services/Amenities: Oceania is known for its culinary leadership, and this voyage offered its contribution. Chef Mario created outstanding menus for the grand dining area; specialty restaurants; and especially the Terrace Grill, an outdoor casual-dining venue. Two notable occasions were an amazing Asian-themed night and freshgrilled yellowfin tuna. Mario is ever-present, ensuring his vision is carried out in each restaurant every day and night. Local menus also featured Mediterranean, Arabian and Indian fresh ingredients. A daytime grill offers smoothies, ice cream, grilled Kobe beef burgers and ahi tuna.
Oceania provides a Canyon Ranch heart-healthy menu with every meal, so guests can count calories. Canyon Ranch also hosts the ship’s spa and workout rooms.
The ship’s library is a quiet, cool spot with leather chairs and footstools and a variety of reading materials. The computer room is staffed many hours of the day. A putting area, table tennis, bingo, trivia and a casino are standards.
Another Oceania hallmark is unusual ports of call. We picked this itinerary for its variety as well as the opportunity to pass through the Suez Canal. Because the Nautica is a smaller ship, smaller ports were available and unencumbered by the larger ships and other tourists. Many ports provided complimentary buses for the short drive to town. Having already visited Egypt, Jordan and Israel, the most fascinating to me were Muscat with the old souk and gold market, Limassol and Palermo. These felt off-the-beaten-path and less modern. Oceania provides a variety of land tour options at a range of prices as well as a small tour option with a maximum of 12 people. An Oceania staff member rides on each bus to ensure quality and to evaluate the performance of local providers.
With 10 days at sea, I decided to take bridge lessons. A delightful Australian couple taught duplicate bridge, entertained us with stories and gave little koala bear toy prizes as often as they could. I made friends and learned some bridge. I encourage passengers to join some group to meet people of common interests.
◆ We met fascinating people on this cruise. Some of that has to do with the exotic itinerary drawing people ready for adventure. Even playing the daily trivia game was an opportunity to develop friendships.
◆ Everything on the ship worked! Crews were actively engaged in preventive maintenance so passengers were not troubled with electrical, plumbing and HVAC problems — especially noted in the hot climates.
◆ Note the adult passenger booking. This cruise line does not prohibit families with young children, but there are no accommodations for children, except maybe the swimming pool, TV/ movies and ice cream.
◆ Though we didn’t order room service, we took advantage of the butler’s ability to book meals at specialty restaurants, arrange group dinners and help us entertain.
Set to open in 2026, Rosewood San Francisco will be the last skyscraper developed in the downtown region for the foreseeable future. The projected 800-foot-tall property will host a hotel, residences, office and rental spaces. The brand’s third property in California will join Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito.
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
It’s not even 9a.m. in the sleepy fishing village of Rawai on Thailand’s famous Phuket Island, but already the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea swarm with local fishermen casting their lines and releasing their nets from the bows of rustic long-tail boats. The scents of lemongrass, incense and sweet pandan leaves season the air as the villagers slowly rise from their beachside bungalows to start their day. In just a few more hours, the fishermen will return with their catches, filling the stalls of the iconic Rawai Seafood Market with buckets of shellfish and displays of fresh filets. Visitors line up each afternoon for the catch of the day, selecting their fish with care before hauling their purchases across the well-worn road to the restaurants opposite the market to have the fish cooked for 100 Thai baht per kilo.
MMGY Travel Intelligence released findings from its 2021 fall edition of its Portrait of American Travelers survey. It revealed the vast majority of vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are planning trips in the months ahead, but the types of trips are different.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
Airbnb.org is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in moments of crisis, sheltering those displaced by natural disasters, offering frontline workers a place to stay at the height of the pandemic and, now, helping Afghan refugees.
Italian hospitality brand AG Group announced an international collaboration with Hyatt Hotels. AG Group’s IL Tornabuoni, slated to open in Florence in October 2021, will be part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt. The Tribune in Rome will become part of JdV by Hyatt in October 2021.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
Hotel diversity isn’t where it could be, but it’s a work in progress. Fueled with new energy that emerged from the racial reckoning of 2020, there’s more of a sense of urgency ... and with good reason. There’s plenty to do when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in the hotel industry.