Sailing the Frozen Land #5

The ship made the final stop at the base of the Beagle Channel stopping at the lowest city on Earth, that being Ushuaia. We have been to this small city before and the thing we enjoyed the most was to ride the train to the end of the world. So we left the ship just after 9:00am, hired a taxi and he drove us to the train station about 10 miles out of town. We purchased our tickets and boarded our vintage rail car narrow gauge train that puffed its way on the 45 minute ride through the beautiful natural landmark of the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

The views were so picture perfect that we stayed on for the return trip back to the station. We shared a cab with two Russian ladies and returned back to the city and the ship. We then sailed all night, and the next morning we arrived at Cape Horn, the southern most part of the continent. We then continued sailing south for just under 15 hours until reaching Antarctica. This is a very barren landscape, temperature is 20 degrees, sunset is at 10:35pm and sunrise is at 4:38am. This is truly the “White Continent”. Snow and ice cover everything while tall mountains take your breath away with beauty.

We slow down to take on professionals from Palmer Station who spend 6 to 12 months at the station. They initiate a question and answer session to explain what they do at this frozen outpost. The session lasts for quite some time. The speakers enjoy the food and comfort aboard the ship,  while one of the ladies got her hair done some of the men got a real shave. At just after 9:35pm they all board their rubber boats and depart the ship and head back to their station. As a special bonus they take boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables with them.

We will be sailing in these waters for a total of 3 days. A great number of photos will be taken and the sea life consists of several different kinds of whales along with penguins and seals and various sea birds. This certainly is one of the highlights of this cruise for all aboard!

Next, we will be sailing North with our next scheduled stop being Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. After two days of ocean sailing we will be arriving on the 4th of February. We will have a 3 hour tour for visiting a penguin rookery. Hopefully we will be able to go ashore as Port Stanley has no dock so we have to tender to shore. If the wind is not cooperating we will not be able to launch the ships tenders, thus good bye Port Stanley.

Your sea reporter,

Glen

South America 67 day cruise #4

On January 27 we dropped anchor in the protected harbor of Robinson Crusoe. We have been at this island several times before, so we just take the ships tender to shore and look around. We visit 3 or 4 small shops then sit in the park and view the sorrowing mountain peaks. At 4 pm. we take the tender back aboard the ship. Shortly after 5 pm we are underway to our next port, that being Castro, Isla in Chile. Again we are at anchor we don’t have a tour in this town either so we just walk the main street and mingle with the local fishermen. We return to the ship in time for the noon time lunch. Did you know, Chili is the longest, thinnest country in the world?

Just a few minutes after 6 pm we pull up the anchor and head into the Chilean Fjords and will sail for 2 days, the scenery is some of the best  in the world. Our following port will be Punta Arenas, Chili by way of the Patagonian & Fuegian Channels. We arrive early morning to overcast skies and wind, the temperature is now just under 65 degrees. Today we do have a ship tour scheduled, we meet at 9:15am in the showroom and are shortly called down to the ships tenders to board. The ride to shore is just under a mile ride in; upon leaving the tender we go through the local customs building and proceed to board our 52 seat coach.

Our step-on guide tells us about this small city and about the tour we have selected. We pass through the downtown shops and are then driven to city overlook to view the entire city below us and the Straits of Magellan. When the early settlers moved to this area the Chilean government gave out to the well to do Europeans large blocks of land mostly 1000 acres of rocky mountainside barren land. One of these early settlers also brought 10 sheep on the boat. In 30 years he had over 25,000 sheep and in turn became a very rich man. Several families did prosper in this barren landscape and were richly rewarded for their efforts. Each built a European mansion in the city. These elegant homes are now historic homes and are open to the public.

Our final stop is to visit a sheep farmer’s ranch. We meet the farmer, enjoy a light snack and then are taken to his large barn to witness a sheep shearing demonstration! Each sheep is sheared once each year taking place in January or February. The farmer  also has sheep dogs and raises lamas. We soon say goodbye and head back to the pier.

The following two days we will be sailing south into the Magellan channel on our way to Cape Horn.

Your Sea Reporter,

Glen Peters

 

Posted by: vanziletravel | February 3, 2017

Simple Tricks for Saving Money When You Travel

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/02/6-simple-tricks-for-saving-money-when-you-travel.html

Aboard the Prinsendam.

On January 17th we arrived in Arica, Chile and we took a ships tour entitled Olive Route in the Azapa Valley, this was a 3.5 hour tour. We board our coach at 9:30am; weather is warm at 85 degrees. The tour bus departs the port terminal and we are immediately in the small city of Arica, Paved streets and small brick and adobe houses on top of each other some 3 or more stories high and sand everywhere else, green grass for lawns is only a dream. The only green grass is in the scattered small parks and even in these parks the grass is very short and doesn’t look that great. The locals have never seen a lawn mower, but when the stub grass needs cutting it is done with a weed-wacker.

After driving for about 30 minutes we are driving to a valley with two high sand stone mountains on ether side of us. We make our first stop at a very modern Archaeological Museum and spend 30 minutes or so viewing pre-Columbian room with found articles and stone carvings. After driving a few more miles we now see small farms and Olive trees and other green trees on both sides of the road, our guide states that this is a very fertile valley with over 1200 farms growing many vegetables and tropical fruit trees. Our destination is the Bezmalinovic Farm with over 180 groves of Olives. We meet the farmer and he tells us all about his farm and the olive groves. We are taken to the metal barn when he is curing the picked olives. The olives are picked green and others are allowed to turn partly black. All are picked by hand, then sorted by size and placed in very large heavy plastic barrels each holds at least 500 lbs. of raw olives, the only thing they add to cure the olives in burnt wood ash, salt and water and left to cure for up to 8 months or more in these barrels. We are then taken to the tasting room and allowed to sample as many olives as we want. The farmer also grows bananas, oranges and all kinds of tropical fruit and many kinds of vegetables. We retrace our route and return to the city and into the port area and the ship. We get back on board at 1:00 pm.

January 19th. We dock in Coquimbo, Chili and start our next tour at 10:30am. No one is allowed to take any food or fruit off the ship; this will be the same in all our ports in Chili. This port is a very typical sea port, lots of barren rock, very dry location. We board our coach and head through the city and are shown the sights if interest, then head up a very steep roadway to an overlook stop to view the entire city below. Houses are built of cement block and bricks then painted a variety of bright colors and again built several stories high. We return to the city streets and head along the coast road to a resort type sea port to view a large lighthouse several stories high at this stop we visit a local street of shops selling anything and everything a tourist might want to buy, We are given 30 minutes to shop, most of the folks on our coach don’t buy anything, we also walk to a small museum and then drive to a local university college campus again for a overview of the seaside. We return to the pier and the ship about 2:30pm.We sail away just past 6:30pm.

On January 20th, we arrive in our next port of Valparaiso, Chili at 8:00am. Our tour today we have selected a 6 hour tour of two wineries in Casablanca Valley, this will be a full hour drive out of town and is half way to the interior city of Santiago. This lush valley is home to 10 different wine regions, and we view wine grapes for miles and miles from the coach.

At each stop we are given a tour and have wine tasting. At the second winery we again our shown the wine in wooden barrels and large steel vats ageing. Then we are treated to a folkloric show with singers and dancers while we enjoy a nice lunch, yes, with wine for the meal. Returning to the ship at near 5: 00 pm.

That will bring you up to date for now.

Your sea reporter,

Glen Peters

Just a short update about the Prinsendam, the ship is not quite full; if we were she carries just under 800 guests and a crew of 650. This ship has been kept up and sparkles both inside and out.  Our stateroom has a large double window a king-size bed and is in the front of the ship, very close to the elevators for fast access to the other floors. The only problem with that is we are a long way from the dining room aboard, but the walk is worth it with meals that give us many choices. With at least 5 starters, several choices of fresh made soups and salads and for the main course 8 0r 9 choices & for desert 10 choices. Today’s desert was…Chocolate-Espresso Soufflé/ Banana Strudel / Crème Brulee/Strawberry Crisp/ Cheese and fruit plate/ Lemon Torte/ Sliced fruit plate/ Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae/ several flavors of Ice Cream.  Believe me we are fed well!

The weather thus far has been in the 80 degree range with smooth seas; however we have had many days of overcast skies.

The Ensemble group we are hosting has 32 guests. We find that a large number of our group to have sailed to South America before have been on this same trip in past years and are well traveled thought-out the world.

Each morning we receive in our room the daily program for the entire days events, while at breakfast we can plan the different events we want to be at, so before we realize it is time for lunch and the day is half over, each day rushes like that and before we realize it it’s time for the evening meal and at 8:00pm the nights entertainment.

Thus the days at sea really just fly past.

This morning at 10:45 we were invited to our first Mariner Society Reception followed by a special luncheon at noon in the La Fontaine Dining Room. Most likely this event will be attended by 2or 3 hundred past guests. That’s all the news thus far, stay tuned.

Glen & Marilyn

Van Zile Travel experts Glen and Marilyn Peters are at it again, traveling and escorting on Holland America’s Prinsendam for an amazing 67 day Grand South American and Antarctic voyage. They left port on January 3 and will be visiting 29 ports of call until wrapping up their journey on March 11, 2017! Below is the first written exchange from the Peters for your enjoyment.

Hello to our travel friends and family,

At the present time we are sailing off the coast of Lima Peru, just above the Equator, temp.78 degrees with calm seas. Yesterday we had our first Ensemble shore excursion in Manta Equator for our 34 guests and it was a great 7 hour tour. We saw the locals making Panama hats, not in a factory but under a wooded area several miles into the country side.

Then we went to see how the locals make vegetable buttons out of hard nuts that when they cut them open they are pure white inside and look just like ivory, they then slice the nut on an electric saw to the thickness of a button, drill holes so the buttons can be sown onto clothes.

Our final stop on this tour was for lunch deep inside a natural jungle where we had a great experience with monkeys just outside the restaurant. We then returned to the ship after an hour drive. At 8:00 pm. we leave port and head back out to sea heading south toward our next port of call. At this location on the globe we have bright sunshine until 8:30 pm each night.

Our stateroom is nice sized with a double bed a walk-in closet and a full both with tub. The only problem is the internet service; the only time we get a good strong signal is after 10:00pm. Our feed to the ship is by satellite and cost 55 cents per minute!

So if you write to us make it short & sweet. This morning we are in Lima Peru.

Regards,

Glen & Marilyn

PS: Yesterday morning we arrived in Lima Peru, we will be at this port

For 2 + days

Posted by: vanziletravel | December 8, 2016

Van Zile Travel Recognized at Sandals “Best of the Best” Awards

Van Zile Travel “Best of the Best” at Sandals STAR Awards

 

(Rochester, NY, December 8, 2016)  –Michelle Arney, Vice President of the Leisure and Meetings and Incentives departments at Van Zile Travel recently traveled to the islands of Turks & Caicos to attend the 15th annual Sandals Resorts STAR awards.

 

With over 600 professionals in attendance Rochester’s Van Zile Travel Service was one of eight agencies to be recognized for their superior sales and for providing hundreds of satisfied travelers with unsurpassed service and unforgettable vacations.

 

“I’m thrilled that the agency as well as its agents hard work has been recognized enabling Van Zile Travel to shine among the numerous “stars” at the amazing event,” said Michelle Arney.

 

Van Zile Travel is a full-service, woman owned travel agency located at 3540 Winton Place, Rochester NY 14623. Started in 1911, the company offers both leisure, meeting & incentive, and corporate travel services.  Those interested in more information can contact Van Zile Travel at 585-244-8300 or visit their website at http://www.vanzile.com.

Posted by: vanziletravel | November 21, 2016

Why travelers are returning to travel agents…

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/advice/2016/11/18/travel-agents/94028838/

 

Posted by: vanziletravel | August 12, 2016

Who wants to travel to the United States?

United States tourism is currently in an awkward position. The US is usually a highly sought after location for travelers abroad, offering obvious and iconic landmarks, parks, events and cities. But recently there has been an unexpected shift as a number of countries who are issuing travel advisories and warnings to people planning excursions to the US.

Gun violence is the obvious reason for these foreign country’s to be apprehensive about sending citizens’ to our country. The US is now being viewed by outsiders as a place where gun violence is a daily occurrence. Pair this with racial tensions, Zika and a very strange Presidential election and prospective visitors to the US are rightfully concerned that they may be singled out because of their religion, sexual orientation or ethnic background or possibly become sick or injured abroad.

As citizen’s of our proud country all we can do to help is express and pass along a welcoming vibe to all visitors regardless of any of the aforementioned factors. We do not have control over everything but we can assist in making our own neighborhoods a kind welcome mat to those who want to visit the greatest country in the world.

Blog #13   April 17th

Final blog today, is our third day at sea heading toward Dubai, in the Arab Emirates, sailing on the Arabian Sea. I thought today I would tell you what happens aboard the Queen Elizabeth in a typical afternoon. We usually have our midday meal in the Britannia Restaurant or on 9 deck at the rear of the ship either in the buffet line or outside at the hamburger/hotdog stand. At high noon the captain speaks to us over the public address system and the entire ship’s company with how far we have sailed from our last port or the past 24 hours.

 

Today, April 16th, he tells us that we have sailed since leaving Southampton a distance of 27,420 miles. At 12:30 p until 1:15 we have live Caribbean music on the back open deck as long as there is good weather. Today the temperature is 79 degrees, with the ocean water just one degree warmer. At noon the casino opens with low limits. At 12:15 begins the ballroom dance class for all ages and at 1:00p watercolor art class. At 2:00 there is a duplicate bridge class, also taking place at 2:00p is a classical concert as well as the showing of a movie, today it is “Suffragette“. With each passing hour there is at least 5 to 7 items we can participate in. Then at 3:30p is afternoon tea served in the Queens room for one hour.

 

Each and every day the events are different. As far as fitness, there is swimming in one of two pools or a walk around on deck 3, four times for a mile, or you could visit the royal fitness center up on deck 11. While at sea the days pass quickly and there never seems to be enough time to do all the things you would like to do, but there is always tomorrow.

April 17th. Today is the date we reach the port of Dubai in the Arab Emirates. We have made plans to take the Hop on Hop off double decker tour bus. We have a good breakfast and are on the pier just a couple minutes after 9:00am. We are one of the first people to board the bus and we decide to take the blue route first and when finished we will then take the red route thus we will see the entire city of Dubai. The weather is all blue skies and the day promises to be in the mid 70’s. We enjoy the entire day on the tour bus and when we purchased our ticket we also were given a free ticket to ride a large wooden dhow on the creek that flows through the city for 45 minutes. After our busy day we return to the ship. We really are tired after this full day tour.

 

At 11:30p the ship let go of the ropes and the ship heads back out to sea. We never see the ship leave port, because, you guessed it, we went to bed at 10:30pm. April 18th, we are at sea for one day before we reach our next port city of Muscat. April 19th, just before 8:00a, we arrive at the port entrance for Muscat, Oman. By 9:00a the ship has been cleared for all passengers to go ashore. We have a tour today but not until 12:30 pm. So we get on one of the early shuttle buses and head for the city center and a very large enclosed Souk. While at the Souk I purchase a pair of leather sandals. We arrive back at the pier just a few minutes before 11:00am. Oh yes, the temperature is 94 degrees! On our afternoon tour we board the coach and meet our local guide Joseph who is dressed in native custom garb. As we set out to start our 4 hour tour he gives us many details about this country. Present numbers are a follows, just over 4 million people with the capital being Muscat, while the country includes 6 provinces.
Over the years trade between east and west has flourished, while the country was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Portuguese empire and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history. Today the country is growing at a fast rate while the present Sultan has been in power since the mid 1970’s Muscat has experience rapid expansion with forward thinking. We drive several miles into the interior of the country and new construction is evident as far as the eye can see. With good roads many automobiles and businesses of every description. One of the highlights of this tour is the stop at the Royal Palace for High Tea. Words alone cannot do justice to this Palace. We are told the Sultan is in, but we don’t see him on our tour. Shortly after 4:00p, we return to the pier and to the Queen Elizabeth. Today was a very interesting tour.

 

Shortly after 5:30pm. We head South on the Arabian Sea and on our way to our next port of call. For the second time in the last week the ship is visited by the British Navy, a new looking destroyer that also carries a Helicopter. They have done exercises during their approaches to our ship and fly-by’s from the helicopter as we are now heading into the pirate waters of the Arabian sea. Tomorrow we have a drill for pirate training, if we ever are attacked. The truth is, no ship has been attacked in the last 3 years, so the majority of the passengers think this is just a waste of time, and we agree. Then on April 22nd we visit Salalah, Oman, and then head into the Red Sea. We sail into Salalah, Oman early morning again the temp is near 90 degrees at 8:00am. There will not be a free shuttle today, so travel to the small city is 8 miles away. So the ship will transport all passengers from the ship to the port gates, then we have to hire a cab to take us into the city or to take a tour other than from the ships tour. We decide not to go ashore today. When some guests return to the ship they tell the story that the cabs were charging $80.00 to go into the city and then to return to the ship they were chagrin $150.00 each. “Wow” many people just take the shuttle back to the ship and spend the day resting on the deck. At 5:30p, we set sail for our next port at the top end of the Red Sea and the city of Aqaba, Jordan. To get there in 4 days, we have to travel at a speed of 23.7 knots, believe me that is really pushing it!  You could water ski behind the ship at that speed.  I think everyone has heard about the Red Sea just south of the Egypt and connecting to the Suez canal at the southern end. But here is some further information on this body of water. The Red sea is one of the most saline bodies of water in the world due to the effects of the water circulation pattern. It is roughly 1215 miles long and at it widest point & is 199 miles wide. It has a maximum depth of 7254 feet. On the west side it borders the coastlines of Sudan and Egypt, and on the east side it borders Jeddah and Mekkah, and it is not red in color!

 

April 27th, today we entered the Suez Canal at 6a in the morning heading north and after a full day being In the canal we entered the Mediterranean Sea just after 5:00 and now on our way to Istanbul, Turkey. I have taken video as we passed through the canal for you folks back home to see when we return home next month. We received an email notice from the Ensemble Home office in NYC stating that our scheduled Ensemble tour of Istanbul has been cancelled due to continued unrest in that city. Instead we will visit Athens Greece for our third shore excursions.

This is the last of my blogs!!!! As you most likely know my laptop shut down just before I had a chance to send this Blog #13. We have now returned home and arrived safely on May17th while I was able to restore my laptop to full function again.
Regards,

Glen Peters

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