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I Trained Dolphins at Cozumel!

Thursday April 17, 2014
While docked in Cozumel, Mexico on the Carnival Liberty, my husband and I shared an amazing experience.
Training a dolphin at Dolphinaris in Cozumel
We learned about dolphins at the Dolphinaris Center in Cozumel, prepared their food, learned several hand signals used to command the dolphins, and then worked with the dolphins just like the trainers do!

After putting the dolphins through their "tricks", we got in the water and interacted with them. The highlight was riding on a dolphin. Of course, after shaking hands/fins, rubbing their tummies, and being kissed by a dolphin, we came away loving these intelligent, amazing creatures even more than before. What a great day!

Dolphinaris Photo Gallery

Linda Garrison and Dolphin Photo at Dolphinaris, Used with Permission

Oasis of the Seas Aqua Theater

Wednesday April 16, 2014
The Oasis of the Seas, was launched late in 2009,
Oasis of the Seas Aqua Theater
and along with her sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, she is the world's largest cruise ship. The size of the Oasis allowed Royal Caribbean to include numerous venues never before seen on a cruise ship, such as the 700-seat Oasis of the Seas Aqua Theater. This water show theater is found on deck 6, at the aft end of the Oasis of the Sea's Boardwalk, one of seven neighborhoods on the ship.

The Aqua Theater has both a daytime water show called "Splish Splash", and a nighttime show called "Oasis of Dreams". Eighteen performers--6 divers, 4 synchronized swimmers, 2 specialty divers, and 6 acrobats perform in the Aqua Theater and its 17-foot, 9-inch deep pool.

Oasis of the Seas Aqua Theater (c) Linda Garrison

Cruising the Danube on the Viking Prestige

Tuesday April 15, 2014
A Danube River cruise can be one of life's most relaxing vacations. Passengers can unpack once, sit back and enjoy the marvelous river scenery, and learn about the quaint towns and historical cities that line one of the great rivers of Europe.
Wachau Valley of the Danube River

I sailed an 8-day voyage from Budapest to Nuremberg on the Viking River Cruises' Viking Prestige. This itinerary features capital cities like Vienna and Budapest; historical towns like Passau, Nuremberg, and Melk; engineering marvels like the locks on the Danube River and the Main-Danube Canal; and memorable river views all along the way. It's a great introduction to river cruising, and although I've done this itinerary several times, I still enjoy seeing the river and ports during different seasons.

This Danube River travel journal captures my Viking Prestige river cruise experience.

Wachau Valley of the Danube River (c) Linda Garrison

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Tour and Pictures

Monday April 14, 2014
The Disney Dream cruise ship primarily sails three and four-day cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral. Combining a Disney Dream cruise vacation with a stay at the Walt Disney World complex near Orlando is a perfect family vacation.
Disney Dream inside cabin with magical porthole
The Disney Dream has all of the terrific kid's, tweens, and teens areas and activities you would expect from a ship bearing the Disney name. It also has many Disney Cruises' innovations such as rotational dining, enchanted artwork, and inside cabins with "magical portholes". Family members of all ages will love the Disney Dream entertainment, which is filled with Disney music, themes, and characters.

Although the Disney Dream is primarily marketed to family and multi-generational groups, adults will find plenty of exclusive adults-only bars, restaurants, and quiet indoor and outdoor areas to keep them happy.

This tour of the Disney Dream cruise ship will show that the new ship has many Disney Cruises' favorites, but also has added some exciting new activities (like the AquaDuck water coaster), new dining venues, and new kid's and adult venues.

Disney Dream Photo Galleries and Information - Links to over 100 pictures of the Disney Dream

Disney Dream Inside Cabin with "Magical" Porthole (c) Linda Garrison

Russian Waterways - Views from the Grand Circle M/S Rossia River Ship

Sunday April 13, 2014
River cruises make great vacation options, and a cruise of the waterways between St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea and Moscow in the interior of this huge country is a great way to see some of the Russian countryside.
Lock on the Mockba River in Russia

I cruised with Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises on one of their 16-day "Russian Waterways" cruise tours, and loved the mix of cities, towns, villages, and countryside on our voyage. We spent four glorious days each in St. Petersburg and Moscow hotels and seven days on our river ship, the M/S Rossia.

Russian Waterways - Views from the Grand Circle M/S Rossia River Ship

Russian Waterways Photo (c) Linda Garrison

Marina of Oceania Cruises

Saturday April 12, 2014
The Marina is an elegant ship and is well-known for her decor, service, and excellent cuisine.
Oceania Cruises' Marina Grand Dining Room

The Marina is absolutely gorgeous, and its style and amenities will appeal to adults who love elegant, yet comfortable surroundings, and expect good food and good value for their cruise dollar. The following articles and photo galleries provide a comprehensive overview of the Marina.

Marina Pictures and Information

Oceania Cruises' Marina Grand Dining Room (c) Linda Garrison

Avalon Tranquility - European River Cruise Ship

Friday April 11, 2014
The Avalon Tranquility is a European river vessel sailing the Moselle, Rhine, Danube, and Main Rivers for Avalon Waterways.
Avalon Tranquility European river cruise ship

This profile and description of the vessel was compiled from a "Central European Experience" cruise tour with Avalon Waterways that included two nights in a Paris hotel; a ride on the high-speed TGV train from Paris to Metz; a seven-night Moselle, Rhine, and Main River cruise on the Avalon Tranquility; and two nights in a Prague hotel. This was a marvelous way to see parts of central Europe, and the cruise tour was well-organized, fun, and educational.

Avalon Tranquility - European River Vessel Profile and Tour

Avalon Tranquility on the Moselle River in Bernkastel, Germany (c) Linda Garrison

Spring Photos - Tulips in the Netherlands

Thursday April 10, 2014
Tulips blooming in the fields are a great way to welcome the new season. The tulips of the Netherlands are among the most colorful sights in the world, and spring river cruises in the Netherlands are a great way to see these marvelous flowers. This photo was taken when on a wonderful Dutch tulip river cruise with Viking River Cruises.
Spring tulips in the Netherlands

Tulip Photo (c) Linda Garrison

Peterhof - Peter the Great's Summer Palace Near Saint Petersburg, Russia

Wednesday April 9, 2014
Peterhof is Peter the Great's magnificent summer palace,
Peterhof's Grand Cascade Fountain
located on 1500 acres of gardens and parks about 18 miles from Saint Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea. The grandeur of Peterhof is somewhat reminiscent of Versailles near Paris. Peter the Great visited Versailles in 1717 and he returned to Saint Petersburg with many ideas for enhancing his own summer palace and grounds, which were already under construction. In addition to the opulent palace, Peterhof has 173 fountains, which are fed by underground springs from 14 miles away. Like the Catherine summer palace, Peterhof was almost in ruins following World War II. However, many photos of Peterhof allowed reconstruction of the magnificent palace and park.

Most cruise tour visitors to Peterhof come with an organized group or guide for a half-day, riding a hydrofoil for 45 minutes along the Neva River one way and a tour bus the other. As shown in these photos, Peterhof and its park are well worth the visit.
Peterhof - Peter the Great's Summer Palace Near Saint Petersburg, Russia

Peterhof Grand Cascade (c) Linda Garrison

Cruise Casinos - Gambling at Sea

Tuesday April 8, 2014
Playing the slots or spending an evening at the gaming tables in the cruise casino are popular activities on cruise ships. The casinos are also a big revenue generator for the cruise lines. The cruise ship casinos might not be as large as those found in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but often the dealers are more patient with those who are learning how to play. Cruise ships also offer classes in many of the table games like poker and 21, so they are good places to learn.
Cruise Casinos - Gambling at Sea
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