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(2012 - Spring/Summer Issue)


The African Queen is cruising the waters off Florida’s Key Largo again. Named for the 1951 film The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, the craft recently underwent a major restoration costing more than $60,000. Work included cosmetic repairs as well as mechanical details, making the boat once again fit to carry passengers. Registered as a national historic site, African Queen was built in 1912 and has been around the world twice. Since 1983, it has been docked at the Holiday Inn Key Largo. The African Queen runs daily two-hour canal cruises in Key Largo waters and dinner cruises on selected nights. In addition, it will be available for charters for private events. calypsosailing.com

There’s a new way to earn Aeroplan miles. Destination Miles, a new service exclusive to Aeroplan members, allows members to book hotel stays, car rentals and vacation packages online or by phone through Destination Miles Travel Desk and earn Aeroplan miles for each purchase. Until July 31, members can earn three miles for every $1 spent. Members can book hotel stays at more than 78,000 properties globally from both Aeroplan partner and non-partner hotel brands; rent cars from Avis and Hertz in Canada, the U.S. and Europe; and buy vacation packages with Air Canada Vacations. Destination Miles does not allow members to redeem Aeroplan points on hotel, car and vacation package bookings. aeroplan.com/destinationmiles

To help celebrate the bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812, more than 25 tall ships are making their way up the Eastern Seaboard this summer to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012 series of races and public maritime festivals. The fleet has already stopped in Savannah, Georgia, and Greenport, New York, and will be in Newport, Rhode Island (July 6–9) and Halifax, Nova Scotia (July 19–23). Ships include the 58-metre Indonesian Naval barquentine Dewaruci; the French Naval tall ships La Belle Poule and Etoile; and the 54.5-metre barque Picton Castle from the Cook Islands. While in port, the ships will be open to thepublic for viewing, and many will featuredockside exhibits and lively interactions withcrew. In 2013, the Tall Ships Challenge moves to the Great Lakes, when the ships will visit more than 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada to continue the commemoration of the events of the War of 1812, including a re-creation of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie. tallshipsamerica.org

This July, Niagara will once again welcome the world’s top Chardonnay producers to celebrate the popular grape. The second annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C) will showcase more than 110 cool climate Chardonnays, July 20–22. Friday evening’s official kick-off party will feature a wandering feast at Jackson-Triggs Winery, where guests can meet all 55 winemakers, followed by a concert in the picturesque vineyard amphitheatre. Connoisseurs can join an in-depth winemaker discussion hosted by 2012 i4C keynote speaker Stephen Brook of Decanter Magazine on “Extreme Winemaking” then mingle with winemakers at one of eight gourmet Chardonnay-inspired luncheons at some of Niagara’s most striking wineries. The i4c’s signature event—the Cool Chardonnay World Tour—offers the only opportunity to sample all 110 wines and is set this year in the stunning rhododendron gardens at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. coolchardonnay.org

Luxury yacht cruise company Compagnie du Ponant is repeating its popular Boston–Montréal route this fall. The 11-day itinerary aboard Le Boréal boasts 11 ports of call, nine of which are in Canada and many of which are only accessible via yacht-sized ships. The 264-passenger Le Boréal sails from Boston to Montréal on September 14, with the reverse itinerary departing Montréal September 24. Fares currently range from $4,648 to $13,060 per person based on double occupancy and represent a 20 per cent savings from brochure rates thanks to the Ponant Bonus Program. Ports of call include Bar Harbor, Maine; Lunenburg and Louisbourg in Nova Scotia; the Magdalen Islands, Percé Rock, Havre Saint Pierre, Saguenay and Tadoussac in Québec. en.ponant.com

Blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, an abundance of wildlife, captivating landscapes and a rich diversity of geological phenomena, Namibia is an incredible destination to visit. Must-see attractions include the beautiful landscapes of the Skeleton Coast—Sperrgebiet and Namib-Naukluft Park. The latter includes the renowned Sossusvlei with its monumental mountains of red-orange sand. In the equally famous Etosha National Park, you can view rare and endangered species such as black rhino, cheetah and black-faced impala against the unique backdrop of the Etosha Pan, a white, chalky expanse that once was part of a large inland lake that dried up 120 million years ago. In the northeast there are the river paradises of the Caprivi and Kavango regions, and in the deep south, vast grassy plains are sandwiched between the colourful Kalahari and Namib deserts. Accommodation ranges from luxury hotels and upmarket guest lodges to simple rustic lodgings in the quiet seclusion of the bush. The capital city, Windhoek, has a continental atmosphere with its historical buildings, cuisine, culture, dress codes and educational institutions dating back to German colonial rule yet exhibits the colour, sounds and tempo of a modern African city. namibiatourism.com.na

To mark the centenary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic, Atlantic Canada vacations specialist Maxxim Vacations is offering The Titanic Connection package. When the ship sank almost 600 kilometres off the south coast of Newfoundland, the distress signal was received at Cape Race Lighthouse in Newfoundland. Four vessels from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were involved in the search for survivors and bodies. Many of those who died were buried in three cemeteries in Halifax, which have become something of a pilgrimage destination for visitors. Maxxim’s Titanic tour includes: in Halifax, a tour and admission to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which has two concurrent shows—Titanic, The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax as well as a photographic exhibit of the 150 Halifax area graves of Titanic victims; in St. John’s, a visit to the Cape Race Lighthouse and the Johnson Geo Centre, which has an exhibit about marine communications systems, technologies and capabilities implemented since the disaster; a whale-watching boat tour; accommodation; and mid-sized rental car in both cities. Priced from $1,709 (plus taxes), the tour includes airfare from Toronto and is available until October. maxximvacations.com/vacation/the-titanic-connection

Edmonton, Canada’s Festival City, hosts more than 30 major festivals throughout the year in celebration of music, theatre, arts, sports, film and culture. This wide variety includes the internationally renowned Folk Music Festival, August 9–12, and the International Fringe Theatre Festival, August 16–26. Open Sky Music Festival—Canada’s premier Surf Rock, Reggae and Roots Music Festival—goes ahead with its 3rd annual event, June 8–10 in Edmonton’s scenic river valley and this year features the Wailers. Saddle up for the Interstellar Rodeo: Six Shooter Records launches a summer festival at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park, July 27–29. Artists include Blue Rodeo and Randy Newman. edmonton.com/for-visitors/festival-city.aspx

Shangri-La can be found at the award-winning Spice Island Beach Resort situated on Grand Anse Beach in Grenada. Among its many accolades is a “gold” standing in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and the AAA Four Diamond Award for the last seven consecutive years. The resort’s owner, Sir Royston Hopkin, says he “competes with no one but myself to offer guests the highest level of service.” The 64-suite resort offers luxurious decor, spacious bedrooms and the finest amenities including Frette linens and Molton Brown body products. Many of the suites offer private pools, saunas and whirlpools. The 520-square-metre Janissa’s Spa incorporates local ingredients such as nutmeg, seaweed, aloe vera and coconut, and Oliver’s beachside restaurant offers gourmet dining. Caribbean Airlines has recently started year-round non-stop flights between Toronto and Grenada operating every Thursday and Friday. spiceislandbeachresort.com

Auto-racing fans will want to head to North Carolina this summer and fall for some of the most exciting racing events anywhere. Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord hosts the Summer Shootout Series Monday and Tuesday nights June through August. In addition to a full program of Legends Car and Bandolero racing, the Summer Shootout Series includes special attractions such as school bus race nights and a huge fireworks extravaganza night. The best drag racers in the world compete head-to-head during the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, September 14–16. This three-day event features the fastest accelerating machines on the planet in old-school, side-by-side drag racing. And on October 13, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams come home to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500. visitcabarrus.com

Interested in voluntourism? The Mercy Ships may be for you. This non-governmental, ship-based charity promotes health and well-being by meeting the urgent surgical needs of the world’s poor. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has provided services and materials in developing nations valued at more than $1 billion. They’ve performed more than 61,000 life-changing and life-saving operations; treated more than 539,000 patients in village clinics; trained 5,770 local health-care teachers who have in turn trained many others; trained 29,400 local professionals in their areas of expertise; taught some 150,000 villagers in basic health care; and completed more than 1,100 community development projects. For those interested in volunteering, there are many roles to fill from cooks, servers and cleaners to nurses, doctors and dentists. Short-term options range from two weeks to one year on board the ship. There’s also a need for volunteers in Canada and the U.S. to help organize fundraisers, events and presentations. goo.gl/8ZfNU

Cathay Pacific has introduced some slick upgrades to its amenities and services, including a new Premium Economy Class, which includes a dedicated check-in counter, increased baggage allowance, priority boarding, wider seats featuring a 97-cm seat pitch and bigger recline, and enhanced onboard meal selections. The airline’s stylishly revamped Business Class provides privacy and openness, whether you’re chatting with a companion or sleeping on the 208-cm-long lie-flat bed with an extension that increases the width by 16.5 cm for your hips. Increased personal storage space includes a cabinet for your shoes and a 38-cm personal TV offers audio and video on demand and noise-cancelling headsets. Each seat has direct aisle access. Featuring a non-slip surface, a new larger cocktail table is a workspace, which opens up for dining. Changes in Economy Class include a new cradled-seat design to enhance comfort when the seat is reclined, high-resolution touch screen personal TV, outlets for personal devices and more storage space for personal items. Cathaypacific.com/newbusinessclass

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