My Viking Journey: The Secrets of the Ancient City of Acre

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

It was Friday, our final day in Israel. After visiting Jerusalem and Haifa earlier in the week, our excursion would take us to the ancient city of Acre. For sure, my Viking journey on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land was exceeding expectations. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* 

 

Viking Ocean Cruises; Israel; Ancient City of Acre; luxury cruises; Viking Star

My boyfriend L and I traveled to Israel with Viking Ocean Cruises.

“Tomorrow will be Shabbat, so we say ‘Shabbat Shalom’ because it is the Sabbath,” said our tour guide Simon. “Acre’s markets will be crowded as people shop for food before sundown.”

Viking Ocean Cruises; Israel; Ancient City of Acre; luxury cruises; Viking Star; Market Street in Acre

Fishmongers sell fresh fish on Market Street.

A City Above and A City Below
“Acre is a 2000 year old city,” Simon said. “Acre was the main port in the north of the country during the 19th century. Then the port of Haifa was built and became the main port.”

Viking Ocean Cruises; Israel; Ancient City of Acre; luxury cruises; Viking Star; Acre port

The port of Acre is home to sailboats and fishermen.

The Old City of Akko (Akko means Acre) is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period. As we walked, we learned more about its secrets. According to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, “Only in the Old City of Akko will you discover a perfectly preserved Crusader city being unearthed and brought back to life, located directly under the city built above it. Continue reading

My First-Ever Ocean Cruise On The Luxurious “Viking Star”

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Are you ready? It’s time to embark, as I share highlights from my journey aboard my first-ever ocean cruise on the luxurious Viking Star. It was a “star-studded” 15-days traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* My lucky, lucky boyfriend L was my companion for the trip.

Our voyage on the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Italy. During the two weeks, we spent time exploring the cities of Athens, Mykonos, Rhodes, Limassol, Naples, Rome and visiting the holy land in Jerusalem. (Note: We missed visiting Crete due to weather conditions.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Greece; Israel; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

Our Viking Ocean Cruise took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy.

An Elegant Vessel For Ocean Cruising
Having been on two previous Viking River Cruises — on the Douro in Portugal and on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland — I was familiar with Viking Longships. With its Ocean Cruises, as they say, Viking has taken “that same small ship, destination-focus experience to the seas with an elegant fleet of vessels setting sail in Scandinavia and Baltic, the Mediterranean, North America and the Caribbean.” The ocean itineraries have been carefully designed to access the best destinations up close, with more time in the port than other cruise lines.

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travell

Viking Star is an elegant ocean liner designed for small ship destination cruising.

Accolades Galore For Viking Star
With Viking, I knew our ship, the Viking Star, was going to be special. Viking was named a #1 Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2016. Plus, Cruise Critic editors honored Viking Ocean Cruises with two awards in 2016: “Best Luxury Cruise Line for Value” and “Best Luxury Cruise Line Spa,” (Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait until I tell you about my treatments at the spa. I had to try a massage and facial. It was part of my duties as a blogger. Did I say I love my life? I do. I do.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

The spa has a relaxing warm water pool with jets.

Cruise Critic editors also selected Viking Star as the “Best New Ocean Ship” of 2015, noting “the ship is so beautifully designed—with terrific al fresco restaurants, a beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorers’ observation lounge—that you’ll be hard-pressed to go ashore.”  (We spent three days at sea and it was so relaxing to walk around the deck and sit on lounges looking out over the Aegean Sea.) Continue reading

A Captivating Day At “The New York Times” Travel Show

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50More than 29,000 people attended the 2016 The New York Times Travel Show at Jacob K. Javits Center in NYC last weekend and I was one of them. With 545 exhibits, it was a captivating day.

According to a recent AARP Travel survey, America’s 76 million Baby Boomers spend over $120 billion annually in leisure travel. So, I was interested to see what I could glean about travel from this year’s show.

Learning From Travel Experts
I attended on Friday Media Day, which kicked off with several seminars. My favorite speaker was Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and one of Fast Company magazine’s 2015 Most Creative People of the year. MET was named the world’s #1 museum by TripAdvisor. The MET Costume Institute exhibit is a trip I enjoy each spring. You can purchase advance tickets for “Manus x Machina – Fashion in An Age of Technology,” on display from May  5 – August 14, 2016.

Sree told us that online sites like TripAdvisor and other mobile tools have become very helpful when booking travel. “My wife used her iPhone to book everything for our trip to Italy,” said Sree. (I did the same – TripAdvisor, VRBO, Homeaway, and Airbnb topped my daily ‘to do’ list last week as I perused apartments and villas, reading reviews on my iPad. I’m happy to say that my 2016 family vacation to Italy is almost completely booked. I also used Expedia to check flights and Allianz to buy travel insurance.)

#nyttravelshow, New York Times 2016 Travel Show, Sree Sreenivasan, Lorraine Sileo, Erin Bender, David Callaway, boomer travel, travel

Speakers: (clockwise from top l.) Sree Sreenivasan, Lorraine Sileo, Erin Bender, David Callaway.

Lorraine Sileo, svp of research at Phocuswright, a global travel market research company, said that “TripAdvisor is the most influential source of travel advice or information.” She said that “many people share so much of their vacations via social media that they don’t need to share any highlights when they get home.” (I hear you Lorraine. I do share pics from my travels at JudiBoomergirl on Facebook and Twitter. However, I wait to write my blog posts until I get home. Readers can find past travel posts on my Travel and Leisure page. ) Continue reading