Celebrity Cruises offers wine themed cruises

Wine-themed cruises are as popular as ever and Celebrity Cruises, for which 10 of its restaurants received Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence”, features a series of itineraries highlighting California and South Pacific wineries  through January 2015.

Scott Clifton, director of sales, states, “Celebrity’s renown for its culinary arts offerings keeps growing. From our Adam Tihany-designed two-story wine tower (holding one of the most extensive wine collections at sea) our 10 award-winning restaurants, menus crafted by James Beard award-winning chef and a team of certified sommeliers, food and wine aficionados always have a never-ending selection to complement the specialty wine-centric itineraries of our themed cruises.”

With Costco Travel, the May 14, 2014 11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise aboard the line’s newest ship Celebrity Reflection will feature Clos Pegase winery from Napa Valley and host winemaker Richard Sowalsky. The itinerary includes ports of call in Santorini, Mykonos and Athens in Greece and Istanbul and Ephesus in Turkey. Sowalsky will host a wine tasting reception; tastings of single vineyard designation and artisanal cabernet sauvignons; a wine pairing luncheon; and, tours of the ship’s wine collection and culinary operations.

On November 1, 2014, travelers will sail aboard Celebrity Reflection for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise for the 2014 California Wine Festival at Sea, a first for the 10 year-old land-based California Wine Festivaland brought together by Worldview Travel. The cruise will depart from Miami and visit various Caribbean ports of call, including San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and, St. Thomas, USVI. California wineries including Heitz Cellar, Melville, White Oak and Bernardus will provide wines at a tasting reception, two private wine tasting seminars, a private four-course wine-pairing luncheon, a sommelier-guided tour of the ship’s two-story glass wine tower and a private behind-the-scenes tour of Celebrity’s culinary operation.


Working in conjunction with Grgich Hills Estate and Costco Travel, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Infinity offers a 15-night Panama Canal Cruise with Grgich Hills Estate’s wine educator Maryanne Wedner, departing on November 4, 2014. Wine tasting, wine pairing seminars, and behind-the-scenes tours will be offered as the ship sails from Ft. Lauderdale with ports of call in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.


Also planned by Celebrity Cruises and Food & Wine Trails is a January 27 – February 8, 2015, 13-night New Zealand Wine Adventure aboard the Celebrity Solstice where winemakers Dick and Nancy Ponzi and Rollin and Corby Soles of Ponzi Estates, and Roco Winery and Argyle Winery, will host tastings, pairings and tours. Ports of call include Sydney, Australia; Hobart, Tasmania; Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Tauranga and Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

For reservations or information on the Clos Pegase and Grgich Hills cruises: call

Costco Travel at 877-849-2730; for the 2014 California Wine Festival at Sea, contact Worldview Travel at 888-608-1178 and for the New Zealand Wine Adventure, contact Food & Wine Trails at 800-367-5348. 

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From Wagner to Wacken – Music is in the air in Germany

During summer, Germany’s festival season is in full swing with events and celebrations everywhere. And with musical heavy weights like Beethoven, Bach, and Wagner being German, music is in our blood. Many concerts are happening outdoors, inviting visitors to fully relish the warm temperatures.

More than 150,000 music fans gather together to enjoy Germany’s biggest rock festival, Rock am Ring in Eifel, with an international line-up of rock bands from June 5 – 8, 2014. The sister festival, Rock im Park, takes place on the same dates but in Nuremberg.

A classical highlight on the calendar is the annual Bachfest in Leipzig (June 13 – 22, 2014). The 300th anniversary of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in 2014 provides the opportunity to focus on the works of Johann Sebastian Bach’s second oldest son.

Berlin goes all out on the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer on June 21. Fete de la Musique includes more than 80 open-air stages, a street festival and music variety from reggae to jazz to hip hop.

In July and August, as a tribute to 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner, the town of Bayreuth holds an annual festival playing his operas, including Parsifal. The event has been sold out since 1876!

Germany is also home to the world’s largest open air Heavy Metal Festival taking place every summer in the small town of Wacken. The event, July 31 – August 2, is so popular that in 2014 there is a waiting list and subsequent raffle for tickets.

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American Airlines begins Dallas to Hong Kong flights on June 11

Beginning June 11, American Airlines is launching new nonstop service between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Hong Kong (HKG), a first for any U.S. carrier.

Enjoy a world-class travel experience to Hong Kong on our brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which offers fully lie-flat seats in First and Business Class, as well as international Wi-Fi and personal in-flight entertainment at every seat.

Once you’re in Hong Kong, you can easily connect to key cities in Southeast Asia and beyond through our fellow oneworld® members Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Malaysia Airlines.

If your final destination is in China, Cathay Pacific and its affiliate Dragonair can take you there with service to more than 20 cities in mainland China.

Before your flight to the United States, unwind in the Plaza Premium Lounge near Gate 40 if you’re flying in First or Business Class or if you’re an Admirals Club, AAdvantage® Executive Platinum or AAdvantage® Platinum member.

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David Bowie exhibit opens in Berlin

David Bowie is back in Berlin: from May 20 until August 10, some 300 artifacts, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, set designs and Bowie’s instruments will give insight into the wide-ranging work and eventful life of the pop and style icon.

The multi-media show offers a comprehensive audio-visual exhibition experience and aims to show the visionary strength of one of the most pioneering and influential performers in recent music history.

“The exhibition David Bowie is a major highlight for Berlin,” says Burkhard Kieker, visitBerlinCEO. “The retrospective is especially exciting because David Bowie and Berlin are bound by a very special relationship.”

After premiering in London and stopovers in Toronto and São Paolo, the Berlin show is one of the highlights of the international exhibition tour due to the intimate relationship between Bowie and the German capital.

Bowie’s years in Berlin from 1976–78 were among his musically most productive. It was in Berlin, where he wrote music history with his three ground-breaking albums Low (1977), Lodger (1979) and Heroes (1977), all of which were inspired by 1970s West Berlin subculture, as well as by the city’s rich cultural history.

The exhibition David Bowie was curated by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. For more information and tickets, please visit www.davidbowie-berlin.de .

Information on travel to Berlin at www.visitBerlin.com

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Disney Cruise Line returning to West Coast in fall of 2015

In the fall of 2015, Disney Cruise Line is returning to popular destinations and home ports for limited-time engagements. Two Hawaii cruises, a return to the West Coast with departures from San Diego and a Galveston, Texas homecoming make up a season of special sailings.

Bookings open to the public on May 21, 2014. More details on 2015 itineraries can be found on the Itineraries and Ports for 2015 section of disneycruise.com.

Hawaii Sailings

Disney Cruise Line will explore the Hawaiian Islands with two special 10-night cruises in September. The Disney Wonder will sail through the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, where guests can experience the famous beaches of Waikiki on Oahu, see the views from high atop the summit of Haleakala Crater on Maui, take in the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls of Kauai and, on Hawaii Island — the Big Island, explore the natural wonders of the world’s most active volcano.

10-night Hawaii with two days in Honolulu – Vancouver to Honolulu

Ports: Vancouver; Hilo (Hawaii Island); Nawiliwili (Kauai); Kahului (Maui) and Honolulu (Oahu)

Departure date: Sept. 7

10-night Hawaii with two days in Kahului – Honolulu to Vancouver

Ports: Honolulu (Oahu); Kahului (Maui); Hilo (Hawaii Island); Nawiliwili (Kauai) and Vancouver

Departure date: Sept. 17

Rates start at $1,650 per person for 10-night Hawaii cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

San Diego to Baja

Disney Cruise Line will return to the West Coast for a limited time, offering six cruises from San Diego aboard the Disney Wonder. The five-night Baja sailings depart Oct. 4, 11 and 18, stopping at Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico. A three-night cruise on Oct. 1 stops at Ensenada. Two-night Weekend Getaway voyages depart Oct. 9 and 16, giving guests the perfect weekend retreat aboard their Disney ship.

Rates start at $404 per person for two-night cruises, $435 per person for three-night cruises and $625 per person for five-night cruises departing from San Diego for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.


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Local celebrate summer along the Baltic Sea with many events

Connected by the Baltic Sea, shared history and cultural traditions, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Warsaw and Hamburg have, above all, one thing in common: Locals worship their summer with warm winds and short nights when the sun barely sets. Sun-starved residents of these Northern/North-Eastern European cities spend every possible minute outside, enjoying picnics, festivals, and outdoor activities. There is no better way to experience life in the Baltic Sea Region than to join the locals in enjoying their summers.

Below we offer suggestions on how to make the most of your summertime visit to St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Warsaw and Hamburg.

Music is a big part of Warsaw’s summer. Jazz fans come to the historic Old Town Square on Saturday evenings for the International Jazz at the Old Town Square Festival. One of Europe’s oldest jazz festivals, the event features big names of the international jazz scene. (Jul 4 – Aug 30, 2014).
On Sundays, locals relax at Łazienki Park and listen to free piano performances of pieces by Warsaw’s native son, Frederic Chopin at the Chopin Concerts in Łazienki Królewskie (May 18 – Sep 28, 2014 noon/4pm). Even more Chopin and other European composers are featured at the 10th International Music Festival ‘Chopin and his Europe (Aug 15-31, 2014).
In the summer, the Vistula river is the place to be when young and old join the fun at the beach bars along the river. The lively, La Palya Music Bar and Temat Rzeka feature sunbathing, dancing and city light views.
A midsummer highlight, is the June 21, 2014, Wreath Celebration when pagan rituals come alive in celebrations of the elements of fire and water. Concerts, shows and cooking demonstrations lead up to the main event of Warsaw’s “virgins” placing wreaths lit with candles in the river, and with fireworks blazing above.

The people of Hamburg like to be active. Summer days start with a morning run or bike ride around the inner-city Alster lake or along the Elbe beaches in Altona district, with the first container ships passing towards the ocean.

Also popular are boat rides on the Alster or laid-back canoe tours of Hamburg’s canals which evoke a feeling of being away from the big city. Customarily, the boat ride is topped off with a cold beer and hearty meal at water front restaurants such as Bootshaus Dornheim, which also rents canoes.
A perfect place for picnics is Hamburg’s “Central Park”, Planten and Bloomen features a Japanese Garden and Tea House, rose gardens, performances, and nightly light and water shows at the park’s lake. (10 pm in the summer).
In the evenings, locals will meet friends for stylish sun-downer cocktails in the many water-view restaurants along the Alster, notably at AlsterperleAlsterCliff or the harborBlockbräu beer restaurant.
Popular summer events include Hamburg Cruise Days and Blue Port, which draws thousands to the waterfront or onto the water for a celebration of cruise liners. Cruise ship parades, harbor illuminations, music and culinary stages make for a uniquely Hamburg experience (Aug 1-3, 2014).

Jāņi, the summer solstice celebration, is Riga’s most popular holiday, when ancient customs come alive in the salutation of nature and fertility, traditional foods and dance, symbolic rituals and all-night festivities.
Jāņi kicks-off on June 14/15, 2014 at the Ethnographic open-air Museum of Latvia, where visitors learn about traditions and how to properly celebrate the summer solstice.
Riga’s historic Herb Market at Dome Square at old town is a must-visit on June 20th, when, in preparation of Jāņi, residents stock up on fresh flowers, garlands, smoked meats and fish, and the best Latvian cheeses.
The popular Rise, Fair Sun Concert on June 21/22 at the open air stage in Mežaparks is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Jāņi celebration.
Ethnographic festivities start in the evening of June 23 at Turaida Museum Reserve and Castle north of Riga, with folk dances and a music festival.
All culminates on Jāņi, June 23, the year’s shortest night, when locals will enjoy homemade beer and Jāņi cheese – symbolizing the midsummer sun – and stay awake all night. Festivities continue until the morning hours of June 24 with bonfires, beer and cheese, flower wreaths and songs in Riga’s city center along the banks of the Daugava river.
The Riga City Festival from August 15-17, 2014 is the city’s main summer event with music, dance, sports, an air show and a regatta.

Helsinki is not just about design, culinary experiences and urban culture. The city also celebrates nature and outdoor life. In the summer, residents are out enjoying their parks and waterfront. With 75 miles of coastline, 315 islands and 30% of the city consisting of green spaces, Helsinki’s citizens are never far from nature.
To learn about the green surroundings of the Finnish capital, visitors should stop by theNature Center Haltia at Nuuksio National Park. Open since 2013, and overlooking the Pitkäjärvi-lake, the Mahlamäki-designed center is entirely built of wood. Exhibits highlight local nature, sustainability, and mythology.

In summer, streets and parks are buzzing with locals, and with the sun hardly setting, Helsinki’s outdoor nightlife continues into the next morning. Esplanade Park is the place to relax or enjoy popular events, such as the raising of the midsummer pole, folk dancing, and the Jazz-Espa concerts.
Helsinki’s best place for Midsummer Eve (June 20, 2014) is Seurasaari Island, where traditions are alive with handicrafts, musicians, and folk dancing. The night culminates in dancing and bonfires.

Helsinki’s Flow Festival features a weekend of music, art, and dining. Located in the historic Suvilahti power plant, it can easily be reached from the city center (8–10 August, 2014.

“Only” 300 years old, St Petersburg looks back at a turbulent history but today stands for palaces, grand culture, czarist history – and the magical “White Nights”, the endless days between early June and late July, when the sun barely sets. Residents sleep little and instead enjoy the cultural events and outdoor celebrations in parks or along the banks of the Neva river, where there’s music, street performers, food and all-night partying.
A cultural highlight is the prestigious Marjiinsky Theater’s Stars of the White Nights 2014 International Ballet and Opera Festival, (28 May – 31 July 2014), which features a diverse program with world-renowned dancers and musicians.
For romantics, there is a lot to discover in St Petersburg, where the vast gardens of the imperial palaces offer inspiration, hidden corners, and elaborate landscaping. Most poplar is the Peterhof Palace and Garden, where visitors spend the longs days exploring the famous fountains, vistas, and ornate designs.
The Summer Garden at the Russian Museum is the oldest park in St. Petersburg and a local favorite. Known for its marble statues, the garden and palace evokes the time of Peter the Great. The palace is one of the very few that survived WWII undamaged.
For a different experience, St Petersburg’s boat companies offer late-night cruises of the “Venice of the North’s” 48 canals and 42 islands, passing grandiose sights along the way.

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Celebrity Cruises hosts Great Wine Festival at Great Park in Irvine

Celebrity Cruises Chef John Suley

Celebrity Cruises Chef John Suley

The Celebrity Cruises Great Wine Festival takes place from 2 to 5 pm on May 31 at the Great Park in Irvine. The event will feature more than 40 premium wineries, craft breweries, spirits companies, and award-winning restaurants. 

Proceeds from the festival will benefit LegalAid of Orange County, a non-profit organization that provides free and low-cost legal services to individuals of Southern California. 

Tickets are $100 per person. Discounted tickets are also available for government and non-profit workers, as well as sitting judges. Tickets and can be purchased online at Celebrity Cruises Great Wine Festival

Key sponsors include Coast Magazine, Fiji Water, Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand featuring the wines of New Zealand as well as the Orange County Restaurant Association/Golden Foodie Awards.

A sampling of food and beverage participants slated to delight attendees include the following; updates can be found here Celebrity Cruises Great Wine FestivalWineries/Breweries: Cakebread, Jordan, JUSTIN, Grgich Hills, Freemark Abbey, St. Francis, Louis-Jadot, Zaca Mesa, Kendall Jackson, Round Pond, Mazzocco, Wente, Benziger, Malibu Rocky Oaks, Alaskan Brewing Company, Pyramid Brewing, Samuel Adams, BJ’s Brewhouse, and more.

Restaurants: Slapfish, Zimzala, Clay Oven (recipient of the 2013 Golden Foodie Awards for Best Indian Restaurant in Orange County), Maro Wood Grill, Bluewater Grill, Riptide and more.

Celebrity’s Sommelier Chanelle Duarte and its VP of F&B operations / Executive Chef John Suley, will attend Celebrity Cruises’ booth, where tastes of Celebrity’s cuisine will be presented.

“Celebrity’s love affair with the culinary arts continues to flourish. We saw this opportunity to introduce food and wine aficionados to culinary experiences they can enjoy while on a Celebrity ship, as well as restaurants and beverages they have yet to try.” said Scott Clifton, director of sales.

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Memorable visit to San Francisco on Memorial Day weekend

Summer in San Francisco can be on the cool side which is why it’s such a great escape from soaring temperatures in other destinations. There’s plenty to do by the bay including traditional Memorial Day commemorative ceremonies May 23-26, 2014, a rousing Carnaval celebration May 23-25 and an opportunity to see two major art exhibitions before they close.

Yoga: The Art of Transformation

Through May 25, 2014

“Yoga: The Art of Transformation” closes on May 25, 2014. Borrowed from 25 museums and private collections in Europe, the U.S. and India, the artworks featured in the exhibition date back to the second century. Images ranging from benevolent deities and gurus to Tantric goddesses and sinister yogis reveal how yoga practices — and perceptions of them — have transformed over time and across communities. Exhibition highlights include stunning masterpieces of Indian sculpture and painting; pages from the first illustrated book of yoga postures (asanas); and a Thomas Edison film, Hindoo Fakir (1902), the first American movie ever produced about India. The Asian Art Museum is the only U.S. West Coast venue for this exhibition.

Find more information about the Asian Art Museum.
Admission: Exhibition tickets are $17.
Location: 200 Larkin St.

Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field

Through May 26, 2014

 Presented by SFMOMA in partnership with the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, eight monumentally scaled sculptures by Mark di Suvero have been installed at historic Crissy Field for the past year. Set against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, a structure that has inspired the artist throughout his career, di Suvero’s dynamic steel sculptures frame and reframe the surrounding landscape in surprising new ways. The exhibition which closes on May 26 brings together works from across the country, dating from 1967 to 2012.

Find more information about the SF MOMA.
Location: Crissy Field


May 23-25, 2014

Bursting with soccer, international music, dance, global cuisine and arts & crafts from the many countries that celebrate Carnaval, Carnaval San Francisco will be celebrated in San Francisco’s Mission District on the Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, 2014. This year’s theme is “La Rumba de la Copa Mundial – Celebration of the World Cup.” Carnaval San Francisco kicks off at AT&T Park with the San Francisco Giants on May 23; the pre-game party includes a ticket to the game, collector’s edition Carnaval-themed Giants item. Partial proceeds benefit community non-profits. A free two-day family festival in the Mission District as part of festivities on May 24-25 on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th Streets. The Grand Parade on Sunday, May 25, starts at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets, where it will proceed west to Mission Street. From there, the parade heads north on Mission down to 17th Street, where it will turn east and flow into the festival area. BART offers easy access to all events.

For more information visit www.carnavalsanfrancisco.org or call 415-206-0577.
Admission: Festival and parade are free; grandstand parade seating ($30) is available.

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Fess Parker Inn offers craft beer month package

This May, The Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort debuts its Craft. Salute, Skol, and “Here’s to The Bruery’s Winefication” beer” will be on every guest’s lips as they enjoy the beverage amid 360 newly-renovated guestrooms, inspired by a fluid architecture and Spanish Colonial design at the AAA-Four Diamond beachfront resort.

“Toast the coast” with a unique package that includes:  Deluxe accommodations in a newly renovated guestroom, single/double occupancy;  and one bottle of “Winefication” from The Bruery in Southern California upon arrival.

This special private label beverage, valued at $75, is offered to guests as part of an exclusive partnership between The Bruery and Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard in Los Olivos.  The beverage is a collaborative blend of Black Tuesday Imperial stout with Syrah grapes aged in French oak barrels, and is only available through the package.

Winefication is the presentation of complex and varied craft beer bottled in large format bottles and perfect for food pairings.

Two Shipyard pints and a delicious Pioneer Pulled appetizer at “The Set,” the Resort’s lobby bar & restaurant, featuring fabulous ocean views, firepits on the patio facing the beach, and nightly silent screenings of Fess Parker’s movies.

A special tour and tasting of the Figueroa Mountain Brewery facility, located in Santa Barbara’s vibrant Funk Zone, minutes from the resort. Your experience will include a flight tasting, a tour of the brewery, and two- 22 oz. bottles to take home. Tours of the

Brewery are based on space availability, and advance reservations are required.

The Craft Beer Month package rates start at $304 per night, based on space availability, single or double occupancy, seven days a week. The resort requires four days advance booking to ensure availability of the Brewery Tour and Tasting.

To book the special Craft Beer Month Package, call reservations at 805-564-4333 and mention PK6 (Craft Beer Month package) or book online at www.fpdtr.com by entering Special Rate Code PK6.  Black out dates apply.

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