Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aloha, Sun: December in Maui

It’s almost winter, and you know what that means: Frolicking in the crystal-clear waters of Maui!

Wait, What?

If you’re like me, winter is really all about celebrating the holidays with the family, calorie-laden food and below 50 degree weather.

However, given the plentiful activities available during the yuletide season in the island, it might not be such a bad idea to trade snow in for sand.

From family-friendly activities like photo sessions with Santa Claus to elegant, adult-only retreats, Maui has something for everyone to enjoy. Below is a glimpse of what you’ll find to do this holiday SEA-son in Maui.

Courtesy of Maui Ocean Center

 Twelve Days of FISH-mas - Dec. 14 -25

“Scuba” Claus and his Elf will make a special appearance at Maui Ocean Center.  The pair will make daily visits to the aquarium’s 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit and host dive link presentations.  Wearing a special dive mask, he will be easily be able to communicate with the audience. Moreover, December will be filled with kid-friendly events, holiday entertainment, craft vendors, and special presentations, including a naturalist presentation that focus on Hawaii’s marine creatures named for their holiday-like appearances, including the Angelfish, Christmas Wrasse, Snowflake Eel, Candy Cane Shrimp, and more.

You’re guaranteed to have a holly, jolly FISH-mas.

Holiday Lighting of the Banyan Tree - Dec. 3 & 4

Witness thousands of sparkling lights at Lahaina's Banyan tree-lighting ceremony. Choirs will sing holiday carols, and the World Culture Exchange Hula will perform on stage. Children will love playing in real snow at the “snow zone,” and decorating cookies at a cookie workshop hosted by Kris Kringle himself. In addition, a Hawaiian snowman will be on the premises to take photos with the whole family.  Finally, a holiday arts and crafts fair will take place throughout the weekend accompanied by good ‘ol Hawaiian music.

Grand Wailea’s 2nd Annual Holiday Event – Dec. 17

This year, the ritzy Grand Wailea hotel will host a holiday soiree in their Haleakala Ballroom on December 17, 2011. It will be a glamorous night filled with hors d’oeuvres, booty-shaking DJ music and Vegas-style casino games. Between sipping cocktails and placing bets at the roulette and craps tables, you can register to win giveaways from the hotel including goodies from Spa Grande (their renowned resort spa), dining for two and a trip to Sin City - the real one.

Christmas Concert: A Symphony of Carols – Dec. 10

The spirit of Christmas comes alive during A Symphony of Carols. The evening brings The Maui Concert Chorus and the University of Hawaii Maui College Chorus together to perform seasonal classics with a special solo performance by Robert E. Wills.

Here Comes Santa Claus - Dec. 24

Santa Claus arrives in Hawaiian style to Maluaka Beach, across the Makena Hotel! Make your way to the waters around 10 AM to witness him appear in a… well, I don’t know. It’s actually a surprise. Just think of it this way: he arrived in a canoe last year. Guaranteed it’s going to be one heck of an entrance. Once he arrives, families will be afforded the opportunity to snap some photos with him.

A vacation in Maui will allow adults and children alike to capture both sides of summer and winter.

Catch all the splashing, holiday fun in Hawaii aboard a boutique cruise!
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

European Christmas Markets: All Things Festive

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is upon us!

A blaze of festive lights and Yuletide decorations will soon adorn homes and buildings across the globe.

This year, step into an enchanting Christmas atmosphere at one of Europe’s many beautiful Christmas markets. Villages and towns across the country transform into an illuminated winter wonderland, boasting brightly decorated wooden chalets offering traditional and handmade gifts and festive holiday treats, like mulled wine and sweet gingerbread.

Whether you’re searching for custom crafts or unique, local treasures, a Christmas market has something for everyone to enjoy.

Cologne Christmas Markets: Nov. 21 - Dec. 23 - Cologne, Germany

Yearning for the ultimate way to get you in the Christmas mood?

Head to Cologne for the holidays and experience a captivating market wonderland like no other… seven to be exact.

The city hosts seven colorful markets across town, attracting almost two million visitors each year. The Christmas market across the Gothic Cathedral of Kölner Dom is one of the most impressive ones, featuring the largest tree in the Rhineland.

Aromas of roasted chestnuts and candied fruit will fill your senses as you walk through 160 beautifully-decorated pavilions offering seasonal goods and handmade German gifts, such as sheepskin slippers, Nativity sets and a pipe-smoking wooden doll called a “Räuchermännchen.”

Make sure to savor local delights like the “Christstollen” yeast cakes, or the hot spiced mulled wine, Glühwein, which is served in festively-decorated mugs. As you eat your seasonal goodies, you will be entertained by street performers and the sweet sounds of merry brass bands.

Cologne’s markets will undoubtedly leave you feeling extra festive.

Basel Christmas Market: Nov. 24 - Dec. 23 - Basel, Switzerland
Revel in Christmas joy at Switzerland’s largest Christmas Market in the city of Basel. The city is hailed as the country’s most beautiful and largest Christmas city, with the longest illuminated Christmas street in Europe.

 Taking place in the Barfüsserplatz square, the market features traders and artisans from all over Switzerland to showcase their cultural wares and crafts in 160 stalls. Goods on sale range from mirror prisms, minerals and fossils to pottery and folk art from the Erzgebirge in Germany.

Plan on taking a stroll over to the famed shop of Johann Wanner Christmas House, allegedly the holiday shopping store of the Queen of England and the White House.

In addition, a Ferris wheel and ice-skating rink make this market very family-friendly.
With all this, it’s no wonder Basel continues to be one of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe.

Brussels Christmas Market: Nov. 25 - Jan. 1 - Brussels, Belgium
Deemed as “Europe’s most original Christmas market,” the “Winter Wonderland” market is a great choice for foodies. Located in the heart of Brussels by the Grand Place, it features a vast array of culinary delights in approx. 240 chalets, offering indulgences from steamed oysters, moules and snails to forest mushrooms on toast. Those with a sweet tooth will especially enjoy the fine Belgian chocolates, speculoos (cookies) and Santa-shaped gingerbread.

The market also offers a wide selection of handcrafted articles, including ornaments, jewelry, and winter clothing. It's also a paradise for children, featuring a big wheel, merry-go-rounds, and a 200 ft long skating rink.

'Tis the season to visit a Christmas Market.
Interested in experiencing the seasonal cheer at this year's Christmas Markets? Check out our selection of European Christmas Market cruises, which includes trips to the aformentioned cities of Basel and Cologne.

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