When in Rome, take your time.

There is not one square metre of Rome that is not interesting. “Rome will wear you out.” I don’t remember which of my traveling friends issued this particular warning, but I shrugged it off at the time. Rome was a kind of dream for me. Having visited Europe four times and northern Italy once before, I still hadn’t made my way down the peninsula to the […]

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From St. Petersburg, With Love (And Reservations)

Visiting St. Petersburg by cruise ship feels like a bit of a tease: so much to see, so very little time. All cruising is like that, of course, and you learn to make the most of the time you have. But the Russians add a layer of complexity to the issue: you’re not allowed to explore Peter’s great city on your own. That is, not […]

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Near Oranjestad, Aruba

Aruba: Getting Around Is Half The Fun

Aruba is not like the rest of the Caribbean. One of the great things about traveling by cruise ship is that you can team up with as many people as you like to explore the ports… or you can say goodbye at the gangway and head out all by yourselves. Arriving at the beautiful harbour of Oranjestad, Aruba, we decided that it was time for […]

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Autumn Mist Morning

When you walk the same  route every week of the year, you become finely attuned to the passing of the seasons. I spend at least part of every day wishing I had my camera with me—walking by scene after scene, trying to emblazon it on my memory, resolving that next time I’ll have my Nikon. I have been very slow to accept that decent photography […]

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Lower Dewey Lake, Skagway

Going Off-Broadway in Skagway, Alaska

A walk down Broadway, Skagway’s main street, is a bit like visiting Universal Studios. Carefully crafted wooden sidewalks are lined with a-little-too-rustic frontier-style wooden store fronts and “saloons”. Most of them seem to be purveying either jewelry or glow-in-the-dark t-shirts, although you can pick up a pretty sweet ulu knife at more than one shop. I don’t mean to sound cynical—it is a beautiful town, […]

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Shawn told us a bit about the local history.

Cruising to Prosperity: Icy Strait Point, Alaska

A down-on-its-luck fishing village reinvents itself. A few years ago I went to visit a friend in a small coastal town in BC, and she described the place as “a little drinking village with a fishing problem.” That description could fit an awful lot of places on the coast, and it’s interesting to see how these towns, faced with sagging fishing and logging revenues, struggle […]

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At sea, Alaska

At Sea Again, Cruising

  I never get tired of being at sea. It occurred to me today that this is probably our 35th cruise in five years. I never would have chosen cruising as a holiday style—I’ve always been an independent, off-the-beaten-path kind of explorer. But the work I do on cruise ships is so immensely satisfying, and the ports of call so endlessly varied, that we have […]

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Salmon, Ketchikan River

The Salmon Stream, Mortality And Me

They tell me I can cross an Alaskan river on the backs of salmon and not get my feet wet. Here today, I can almost believe it. Today, I’m in Ketchikan, Alaska and it’s not raining. This is not a small thing. I have seen Ketchikan in gentle drizzle and I’ve seen it under sheets and sheets of pouring rain. But I can’t recall when […]

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Primordial Splendour: The Hubbard Glacier

Fragments of ice up to ten stories tall began to peel off its face and crash into the sea below. I work as a cruise ship naturalist during part of my year, giving presentations about the wildlife and geography of places like Alaska, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean. It is exciting and tremendously rewarding work, and the luxury of cruise ship life (and the international […]

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The streets of Montevideo

The Streets of Montevideo

Montevideo was recently recognized as having the best quality of life in all of Latin America. It seems that everyone nowadays needs a bucket list, that public register of Things You Must Accomplish before you join the choir invisible. I suppose it’s a nice idea—none of us is getting any younger, and it’s good to remember that all the things we dream of doing aren’t […]

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