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On the CruiseCritic.com forums, user Winegirl writes:

Corinthian II vs Endeavor vs Polar Star-any first hand knowledge?


Spouse is 46 and I’m 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica–only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing–a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the “last place on earth. I’d feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I’d like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather–cold, damp, overcast, etc.

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don’t allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!

User Harbor32 responded:
I was on a Corinthian II cruises to Antarctica in Feb 2007. We had one of the best crossings of Drakes passage (both directions), great weather and a totally wonderful trip. (more…)
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monkfish

Taberna del Alabardero's skin-on, pan-seared monkfish

On the August 22-29, 2009 edition of our classic Great Lakes cruise, we’ve got a real treat in store for you: Dani Arana, Executive Chef of the Taberna del Alabardero, will be your personal guest chef, offering special meals, wine tastings and master classes.

When the Taberna del Alabardero opened its doors in 1989, The New York Times lauded the restaurant for “…finally bringing a sophisticated Spanish kitchen to the nation’s capital.” Designated as “The Best Spanish Restaurant Outside of Spain” by the Spanish Government, the Taberna del Alabardero was recently described by The Washingtonian as one of the “100 Very Best Restaurants”:

Alabardero's paella for purists

Alabardero's paella for purists

“The food, drawn from or inspired by Spain’s regional cuisines, is so vibrant and robust you’ll think you were sitting down to lunch in the Spanish countryside.

Flavors run deep in a plate of squid steeped in a thick black squid-ink sauce, in zurrukutuna, a garlicky Basque soup, and in pork belly with its fat seared wonderfully crisp. Paella purists will stick with the classic seafood version, but two other combos worth trying are the rusticky chicken-and-chorizo and the unusual baby-back-rib-and-scallion. Other notable choices are veal sweetbreads with spinach and pine nuts and a caramel cream custard with caramel ice cream.”

A native of Huelva, Spain, Chef Arana began cooking for his family while still a boy, receiving his formal

Chef Dani Arana

Chef Dani Arana

training at the Escuela de Hosteleria de Sevilla. While at school he completed an externship at Mugaritz, consistently rated one of the top restaurants in the world. After school he began as the sous chef at the Michelin starred Café de Oriente in Madrid, then moved up to the position of chef.

Chef Arana moved to the United States in 2008 and became executive chef at Taberna del Alabardero.

Travel Dynamics International’s classic Great Lakes cruise between Toronto, Canada and Duluth, Minnesota features the Ojibwe Native American community of Manitoulin Island, Michigan’s historic Mackinac Island, and the rugged Keweenaw Peninsula – and transits the seven locks of the Welland Canal which links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

The cruises, which operate throughout the summer (though you can enjoy Chef Arana’s splendid Spanish  cuisine only on the August 22-29 departure), are aboard Clelia II, which recently completed a million-dollar refurbishment. It’s a luxurious all-suite cruise ship for just 100 guests. Renowned for its spaciousness, beautiful design, and impeccable service, Clelia II offers travelers an intimate ambiance akin to a private club.

For more information about the Great Lakes cruise with Chef Dani Arana or to make a reservation, please call Amalia Ciprijan toll-free at 1-800-257-5767, extension 511.

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casa-milaFrom William Powers in The Washington Post:

“One look at Mila was enough to surface deep wells of ambivalence. I have, it seems, a love-hate relationship with Gaudí. Despite how touristy the place was, I couldn’t help admiring how he ingeniously weaves nature’s curves and angles into his designs. Nobody but Gaudí would have thought to give a building’s rigid verticals a subtle lilt by mimicking the way people stand upright. I stood there adoring the Mila’s cacophonous balconies and the way the entire building waved and rolled around the corner, as if a Mediterranean tsunami were flooding the city.”

Read more on Gaudí’s radical Barcelonan architecture here. Join Travel Dynamics International in Barcelona on our gorgeous, wide-ranging “Historic Cities of the Sea” cruise, aboard the “gold standard of expedition cruising,” the 114-guest Corinthian II, from April 22-May 6, 2010. BOOK NOW FOR SAVINGS OF $3000 PER PERSON!

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corinthian-iiCruisecritic.com has published a review of a recent Travel Dynamics International cruise taken by user pisque, who joined us for a journey from Rome to Istanbul aboard the Corinthian II.

Here are some excerpts:

Travel Dynamics International has it all together. This is small-ship cruising designed for a full intellectual barrage. No casino and night club fru-fru….just a great immersion into the world of ancient artifacts and thought.

We heard about this trip via an opera association. It had all the places we wanted to see, a full lecture format, and we wanted to try a smaller vessel….we were amply rewarded…

Fellow passengers were fascinating. Some were experts in Greco-Roman history, others ran the gamut from financial tycoons to physicists…

Local excursions were terrific, with local guides at each port, commodious buses, with two lunches at local places included, with one in Sicily being exceptional, and another in Santorini being adequate.

The staff put together a dinner by candlelight in Ephesus, with local cuisine equal to the ships great dinning room, together with a string ensemble providing music…This was a night to remember.

Disembarkation and transfers were handled with aplomb. We opted for a two night extension in Istanbul. The Hotel was luxurious, and again the tour buses and guide were outstanding.

I would not hesitate to book a cruise with this company in the future.

Read the full review here.

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corinthian-ii

Corinthian II is a thoroughly comfortable ship with a relaxed house-party atmosphere—no formalities—configured for a discerning crowd who expect the best.”

From Ships&Cruises.com:

Travel Dynamics’ flagship Corinthian II offers an intimate luxury onboard with a high level of educational opportunities that include full days of exploring ashore, in whatever waters the ship is cruising—which is mostly in the Mediterranean. The Corinthian II was originally built in 1992 for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, sailing under several names. In 2005, following an extensive refurbishment, she entered service for Travel Dynamics.

This spring, I traveled on a ten-day, seven-country voyage from Cadiz, Spain to Piraeus, Greece with calls in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, and Crete along the way. While the ship offers a high standard of expedition cruising she actually represents more of a crossover travel experience for her guests— from expedition cruising to educational travel.

Easy on and Easy off . . .
One of the charms of Corinthian II’s small scale and her limited passenger list is the ease of slipping onboard and settling down in your cabin. The ship’s accommodations are spread over five levels —connected with an elevator—and are more spacious than the “good” grade on a superliner. (more…)

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