25 September 2014

RIVER-CRUISING MUSING: Sounds of Travel 2

The satisfying pop of a cork from a wine bottle.
Photo: Wikicommons
I’ve had a great response to my blog entry from earlier this year on The Sounds of Travel, with various people suggesting their own favourite sounds. Most mentioned is the sound of a cork being pulled out of a bottle of wine, “preferably in France” adds one commentator. 
Certainly that’s a sound heard less and less frequently these days, with the steady emergence of screw caps. It makes opening bottles a whole lot easier, but I must admit a certain romance is lost without that satisfying pop.
Raindrops on a windowpane.
Photo: Wikicommons.
A good many people mentioned various sounds of waves lapping on a beach and hinted at tropical settings, which suggests that the visual and climactic were intruding on the pure sound experience. You seldom hear waves on a river cruise, it must be said (though Lake Lagoda in Russia can provide a few), but one commentator from cold climes describes the “gurgling and rasping” of water around the hull of a river-cruise ship as one of his favourite travel sounds.
Waves on a beach is one of the “three great elemental sounds in nature” lauded by American naturalist and writer Herny Beston. The other two – the sound of rain and “the sound of wind in a primeval wood” – also seem to have struck a chord. Here are some of the other sounds listed by those who responded through our blog or Facebook page:
- The soughing of wind in the trees.

- Rain against the window, but only when you’re in bed.
- Seagulls over a harbour.
- A steam engine pulling away from a railway platform.

Winter night in Red Square, Moscow, Russia.
Photo: Wikicommons.
And finally a comment that was very specific to time and place and clearly must have created quite an impression, since it dates back to 1981. 
“One of most memorable sounds in travel was complete silence, if you can call silence a sound,” wrote a commentator about Red Square in Moscow at midnight under deep snow. “We had just arrived that evening and escaped from our Intourist Guide (compulsory in those days) who had told us not to venture out alone at night.”


Do you have a favourite travel sound? You’re always welcome to join the conversation, so why not add a comment and let us know what it is?

9 September 2014

Cruise News: Festive Mississippi

A Mississippi mansion decorated for Christmas.
Photo: American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines has announced the details and events of its 2014 holiday-related river cruises. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve cruises will offer various festive activities that showcase the beautiful Mississippi and the spirit of the holidays.
A 22 November sailing for Thanksgiving features a special on-board feast with everything you’d expect of a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, apple pie and more. The day before, guests may even join the head chef to learn how to make it all.
A Mississippi mansion garlanded for Christmas.
Photo: American Cruise Lines
Also on the Mississippi River is a 20 December Christmas sailing. This year’s special events include a tour of Oak Alley Plantation in its holiday splendour, along with a holiday concert in the music room of the beautifully preserved J.N. Stone House in historic Natchez.  On board, guests will join a traditional Reveillon-style feast with regional favourites.  Gingerbread house and ornament making workshops will also be offered, as well as Christmas carol sing-alongs. This cruise also features a complimentary pre-night celebration on 19 Decembe, including dinner at Antoine’s, one of New Orleans’ most historic restaurants.  

New Year's Eve fireworks.
Photo: River Cruise Insight
Finally, if you’ve missed the boat on thee celebrations, you have your last chance on a 28 December sailing for New Year’s Eve. You’ll enjoy lights tours at Oak Alley and Houmas House Plantations on a cruise round-trip from New Orleans. On board, guests will enjoy a specially-themed New Year’s Eve cocktail hour, dinner and evening entertainment, as well as a midnight countdown and champagne toast. A festive and sumptuous New Year’s Day brunch is also be featured. The New Year’s Eve cruise also features a complimentary pre-night celebration on 27 December, which includes welcome festivities and exclusive dinners at Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Something to celebrate? Captain Rivers thinks so.

2 September 2014

Cruise News: Blount's Autumn Leaves

Autumn scenery in rural New England, USA.
Photo: State of Vermont
Wedged between New York City and the Canadian border, the USA’s New England region (which comprises six states) has one of the planet’s best autumn seasons. Red barns, white church steeples and verdant mountains feature in this region of contrasts and diverse sightseeing. The scenery of its lighthouse-studded coastline is especially beautiful, but landlocked Vermont’s trump card is the rolling Green Mountains, featuring scenic byways where white houses and church steeples peek out from valleys of spectacular autumnal trees.


This autumn, travellers can set sail with Blount Small Ship Adventures through the American northeast and experience spectacular autumn foliage during the height of what the American’s amusingly call the leaf-peeping season. The cruise ‘Hudson, Erie Canal, and St. Lawrence Seaway: New York to Montreal’ offers guests a chance to see some of the northeast’s most picturesque and historical river towns draped in autumn’s technicolour landscape.
Autumn leaves along a street in Manchester, vermont, USA.
Photo: State of Vermont
The 14-day cruise has departures on both the Grande Caribe and Grande Mariner ships. This cruise navigates an intriguing array of waterways, including the New York Harbour, the Hudson River and the famed Erie Canal, something no other overnight cruise line does. Captain Rivers reckons the brilliant colours of autumn will look magnificent reflecting on these waterways.
Other highlights will be journeying through the famed Thousand Islands, seeing unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty and cruising the Saguenay River, noted as one of the world’s best spots for whale watching. Yes, who thought you could whale watch on a river cruise?

More: Blount Small Ship Adventures

If you’ve been to New England or Canada in the autumn and have something to add, please do so. Our readers appreciate your tips and memories.