Archive for the ‘Cruising’ Category

In Chicago: Four sparkling New Year’s Eve events

Plan now for what you want to do New Year’s Eve. If in or visiting Chicago there are fun runs and cruises, count-downs and parties and delightful cultural programs. Most events require tickets.

 

1.Celebrate the changing of the year the Viennese Neujahrskonzert way. Performances take place in 24 North American cities near New Year’s Day. In Chicago, the “Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert” will be at Symphony Center 2:30 p.m., Dec. 31, 2016.

Dancers from the Kiev Aniko Ballet in Symphony center New Year's concert.

Dancers from the Kiev Aniko Ballet in Symphony center New Year’s concert.

The program is all about wonderful Strauss waltzes and music from the Merry Widow, and Die Fledermaus by the Strauss symphony of Canada and the Chicago Philharmonic. Dancers are from Ukraine’s Kiev-Aniko ballet and the International Champion Ballroom. Singers are soprano Lilla Galambos and baritone Thomas Weinhappel from Vienna.

For tickets visit CSO or call (312) 294.3000. For other information visit Salute Vienna or call (416) 323.1403.

 

2. Celebrate with a Chi-Town Rising event.

The day starts with the Chi-Town Rise & Shine 5K race and Fun Run, check in begins at 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. race beginning at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago. The run also goes through Maggie Daley Park, Grant Park and by the lakefront. The event is a Special Olympics fundraiser. Handouts include pompom hats, gloves and hot chocolate. Click here to register and see details.

It continues with the Family Count-Down from 3 to 6 p.m. at Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square.  New Year celebrations start at different times around the world so parts of the event are activity stations showing New Year’s customs in different countries.  The event is free. The Kids Countdown Spectacular is 6 p.m.

Chi-Town Rising New Year’s Eve Celebration is 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tickets are free but are required to enter the two viewing areas between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. There will be food and beverage concessions and views of the midnight fireworks. The North Viewing Area, north of the river, will be the site of NBC 5’s broadcast. South Viewing Area on Upper Wacker Drive will have the main performance stage.

Visit Chi-Town Rising details. For tips on clothing and other viewing areas visit FAQ.

 

3. Navy Pier is headquarters for two New Year’s Eve Parties.

Navy Pier New Year's Eve fireworks start at midnight. Navy Pier photo

Navy Pier New Year’s Eve fireworks start at midnight. Navy Pier photo

The 5th Annual Chicago Resolution Gala celebrates with several drink bars and buffet stations and dancing in the Pier’s Grand Ballroom. There is also a good fire works viewing spot. For tickets and details visit Resolution Gala. Visit tickets and details.

There is also a party in the Crystal Garden, the Pier’s six-story glass botanic atrium. There will be several bars and champagne for a toast. For tickets and more details visit Crystal Gardens.

 

4. New Year’s Eve Cruises go from Navy Pier. Watch the fireworks after partying aboard the Mystic Blue, the Spirit of Chicago or the Odyssey. Each cruise ship hosts a New Year’s Eve Party. Times and prices vary so see which one fits your budget. Visit Mystic Blue Cruises, Odyssey and Spirit of Chicago.

Have a happy, safe New Year’s Eve!

 

Rail initiative combines destinations on bucket list

Take a train west to San Francisco across impressive mountain ranges. Do a Hawaiian cruise. The two bucket-list dreams may sound like different vacations in time and space.

Travel by rail through the Rockies to enjoy the scenery instead of watching the road

Travel by rail through the Rockies to enjoy the scenery instead of watching the road

But Vacations By Rail, a Chicago-based travel company that organizes train trips to national parks and across Europe has lately been partnering with Princess Cruises so that travelers don’t have to choose between a scenic land vacation or a cruise destination.

Among the latest pairings is a two-night trip through the Colorado Rockies and Sierra Nevada Mountains to San Francisco from Chicago on the California Zephyr then on to Hawaii by cruise ship .

Travelers stay a night in the “city by the bay” then board the “Grand Princess” for a 14 night cruise to Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui and Ensenada, Mexico.  Cruising to Hawaiian ports means not having to fly to the west coast, then Honolulu and more airports to puddle-jump to different islands. After the Mexican stop, the ship returns to San Francisco.

The total trip of 19 days by train and sea can be extended. Options include returning to Chicago by Zephyr for a  22-day vacation or staying longer in San Francisco three to four days.

For more information visit Vacations By Rail  www.vacationsbyrail.com and call 877-929-7245.

Photo (C) by Jodie Jacobs

Move travel to Alaska up on the vacation destination list

  
Alaskan Glaciers

Alaskan Glaciers

You think a spectacular phenomenon such as the glaciers in Alaska will remain amazing no matter when you manage to travel there.  That is unless you attend a climate change conference or the new, temporary “Climate Change” exhibit that opened at Chicago’s Field Museum June 25, 2010. After seeing in graphic detail that Greenland and the glaciers across the northern hemisphere are shrinking, going to Alaska takes on a new urgency. 

 

 Now that it’s high on the list comes the interesting part – looking at all the options that turn a good trip into a great one. The best options are the ones that fit your lifestyle.

   

   

Getting there  

 
 
 
 

Sunset from the ship

Sunset from the ship

We were traveling with another couple so a few compromises entered the planning. The result was to take a Princess Line cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, just over the Canadian border, to travel up the Inside Passage. Our option, booked ahead, was to leave half the passengers who were just doing the cruise, then continue on with Princess across Prince William Sound for our land portion. We chose Princess because the company has lodges in different Alaskan locations and buses to get us there so we could relax and leave the arrangements to someone else. That is not our usual style but it worked well for Alaska.

 

 

Tips:
 

• Book a room in Vancouver or from wherever you will be sailing the night before you leave on your cruise. Not only does this apply to Alaska, but is a good tip for taking any cruise, anywhere in the world. Weather and transportation schedules are too iffy to chance “missing the boat,” as the saying goes.  In addition, towns like Vancouver are worth seeing as part of your trip.

• Consider traveling just before or just after the main tourist season. For Alaska, tourist season is summer when the mosquitoes are large and swarming and the prices are higher. The end of May into early June is a better time to go. The weather is not so cold as to hinder sightseeing and you won’t have to share the sights with hundreds of other visitors. Just add a jacket and a couple of turtleneck shirts to the suitcase.
 

• Speaking of packing, bring binoculars to better spot whales and other sea life and bring more than one pair of comfortable walking shoes. If you like dressing up, throw the fancy duds into the suitcase but you don’t really need to pack a tux and gown any longer. A jacket for men and cocktail dress for women will get you through the door on formal nights.

  • There is not a lot of open sea time traveling to Alaska.  People who want a spa treatment aboard should look at the schedule when booking the trip, then make an appointment for the treatment well in advance to get the desired time. This is true for any cruise. The same book ahead advice applies to snagging a seat for an evening splurge in the fine-dining restaurant.

Coming up next: Alaska, the Inside Passage

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