Mar 24, 2015

Lake Bled, Slovenia


The first port of call on our Adriatic cruise was Koper, Slovenia. We had a handful options for this port...a) we could spend the day exploring Koper on our own, b) we could book a tour and head to Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital city, or c) we could join a tour to Lake Bled (with a post-lake stop in Ljubljana). Naturally, we chose the last option. Why not kill two birds with one stone!

Early that morning we hopped a bus and made the 1.5 hour journey from the port in Koper to Lake Bled in the northern part of Slovenia. When we arrived, we dropped a handful of our touring group at the cliff-side castle and then we continued on to the lake bed where we could wander around the water and enjoy lunch overlooking the lake. To be honest, Slovenia was never a destination on my travel bucket list, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved our morning at Lake Bled! The scenery was gorgeous...big, beautiful blue lake surrounded by forests and snow-topped mountains towering in the background. And that little island just big enough to hold a church? Like something straight out of a postcard. The pletna boats floating back and forth to the island were so tempting to ride, but it was so chilly that morning. No water sports for us. When we first arrived, clouds were overhead, but as the morning rolled into afternoon, the sun came out and shown new light over the whole lake. I swear the blues in these photos don't do the lake justice. It was an insanely beautiful landscape to witness. 


During our brief lunch break, we found a nice restaurant right on the lake where the original Bled Cream Cake (Blejska Kremna Rezina) was being served in giant portions right and left. I'm pretty sure every table in that restaurant had a slice of cream cake on it. D and I split a piece (because it was only Day 1 & we had 13 more days of cruise food to enjoy). Not too shabby! It reminded me of a deconstructed creme puff or vanilla custard-filled pastry...not too sweet, but rich enough to tame a sweet tooth. I'm always up for trying new foods, especially where desserts are concerned! It was nice to be able to eat a local treat that Slovenes come from all over the country to enjoy.


We only spent 3-ish hours exploring the lake before we had to hop back on the bus to head to our next Slovenian destination...Ljubljana! More to come!

Mar 17, 2015

A Venetian Sail Away


Hands down, one of the brightest shining highlights of our entire Adriatic cruise was the sail away through Venice, Italy. I'd been to Venice once before and loved my time there…but there was something so incredible about being able to float around the island and have a bird's eye view of it ALL. The-whole-darn-thing. It was not something either of us expected (as most sail-aways are quite lackluster), but seeing Venice from above goes down as one of my most favorite vista views in all my time living abroad. Cooler than the views of Florence from the top of the Duomo. Crazier than the mountain views we saw while skiing around the Matterhorn. Even more awe-inspiring than those views we captured from the highest level of the Eiffel Tower. It's like we were giants, watching tiny people wandering the piazza's and gondolas floating down the canals. Life bustled on as our massive cruise ship passed through Canale di Fusina, Canale della Giudecca, Basino di San Marco, and finally Canale di San Marco. When we sailed past San Marcos Square ,the cruise ship loud speakers erupted with Andrea Bocelli's singing "Con te partiro" and I won't lie, I got a little teary eyed. I felt all the Italian feels in that moment.

What makes this all the more special (to us, at least) is the fact that cruise ships floating through Venice is sure to be banned in years to come. It's no surprise that Venice is slowly sinking into the sea, and with all the boating traffic, wake, and vibrations created by ferries and cruise ships alike, the city is in a constant state of erosion. Before our sailing, we'd heard rumors that our ship might not be able to take its usual route into Venice. I totally understand the environmental detriment all of these cruise ships and large boats contribute, but I still couldn't help but be thankful the ship bans weren't imposed just yet. If they had, we would have never experienced this incredible sail away. I do, however, hope that some middle ground is found and that the preservation of this beautiful floating city can continue so locals and travelers can enjoy Venice for many years to come!


Mar 13, 2015

Adriatic Cruise Aboard the Celebrity Silhouette

It's no surprise that D and I LOVE cruising. It's also no surprise that we adore the Celebirty Cruises fleet of cruise ships and the impeccable service & itineraries they provide. That's why when it came time to plan our very last big European trip before moving back to America, choosing a 14-day sailing with Celebrity was a total no brainer. We already knew we'd love the ship and the cruise line…and when we saw the itinerary, hitting ports in countries like Slovenia, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Greece, and Malta…I couldn't book it fast enough! And because it was our last European cruise (for now, at least), we went all out. A vacation to remember for more reasons than one!


Our floating resort for those 14 exciting days was the Celebrity Silhouette, a Solstice class, 2,886 occupancy dream ship that was just recently voted Best Mediterranean (large ship) Cruise by Cruise Critics' 2014 Cruisers Choice Awards. We had already sailed on the Reflection, the Silhouette's sister ship, for our very first cruise in May of 2013. Having already experienced the first-class service provided by Celebrity once before, we knew we were in for 2 weeks of unparalleled pampering, relaxation, and exploring.

Naturally, we weren't disappointed. From the friendly and courteous staff, delicious food, and never-ending plethora of fun activities, all the way to the the plush accommodations and sleek atmosphere, it was easy to let go of the real world and be totally blissed out. D and I took advantage of one of Celebrity's greatest deals, the 1,2,3 GO! promo, and scored a free drink package for 2, $300 in on board credit, and free prepaid gratuities when we upgraded our balcony stateroom to a the Concierge Class rooms (the upgrade was a little Valentine's Day gift to D). But, more on that later...



...As I mentioned before, the Silhouette looked almost identical to the Reflection, so I didn't feel the need to roam around the ship snapping a million photos as soon as I stepped on board. I did, however, take note of my favorite parts of the ship...which I'll highlight throughout the rest of this post.


Celebrity Silhouette Dining & Nightlife
While our most favorite parts of the cruise were exploring all the European port cities we stopped in, when we were on the ship, we were either enjoying the pools, eating at one of the ship's 10 restaurants (Qsine & Lawn Club Grill were our favorites!), lounging on our balcony, or having a cocktail at one of the ship's 12 bars. There is definitely no shortage of things to see and enjoy on any of the Celebrity ships! Here's a short photo essay of all the Silhouette goodness...


Molecular Bar
This bar! You guys...it's the coolest bar on the high seas. The concept? Stimulating the senses with the art molecular mixology. Fun, right? We spent wayyyy too many hours here sipping unique, hand-crafted cocktails and making friends with 2 super funny bartenders. Our goal was to try every drink on the menu...and while we didn't quite try them all in 14-days, we did find that every drink was delicious (Coming Up Roses is still my all time fave!) and worth upgrading to the Premium Beverage package to enjoy without limits. :)


Concierge Class Stateroom & Services
Even though our stateroom looked identical to the veranda room we had on the Reflection, we had at least a dozen extra luxurious perks with the Concierge Class (like priority check-in, express luggage delivery, personalized concierge service, a welcome bottle of champagne, daily fresh fruit & canapes, expanded room service menus, extra plush bathrobes & custom-blended bath amenities...just to name a few). These little treats took our cruise experience to a whole new level. We felt like we were living the luxurious life without paying luxurious prices (or feeling that stuffy "I don't belong here" feeling). That's the great thing about Celebrity...they provide a high-end experience without the pretentiousness. We felt totally comfortable, laid back, and free to enjoy being spoiled a bit! They've got modern luxury down to a science!


Would I recommend a Celebrity Cruise to my friends and family? OF COURSE! I'm constantly singing their praises and recommending them to anyone looking to upgrade their cruising game. The Solstice Class of ships is on point, but every vessel in their fleet features similar accommodations and fun. You really can't go wrong with this cruise line. Just so you guys know...this post isn't sponsored by Celebrity and I was in no way compensated for this recap. We just really, really adore Celebrity and have had exceptional experiences with them every single sailing. I want to spread the cruising love to everyone I know! In fact, we're booked on another fabulous Celebrity sailing in October! This time to Southern Caribbean ports. I'm counting down the days already! 

And because I wouldn't be a good travel agent if I didn't at least mention my biz once in this review...if you're looking to sail the Seven Seas the Modern Luxury way, email me at casey@destinationstoexplore.com! Celebrity is currently running a SPRING PROMO that should not be missed!

So, thus begins the start of my Adriatic cruise recaps! Up first...Slovenia! 
Stay tuned!

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