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Reasons to Visit Vancouver

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Here are some reasons to visit Vancouver either as an extension to your Alaska cruise or at the start of a land based trip to the Rockies.

 

 

1. VARIETY OF ASIAN FOOD and China Town
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Vancouver has a multicultural metropolis with communities from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, The Philippines, South Korea & Japan.

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Apart from Chinatown which is just east of Downtown Vancouver, head to Richmond (25 minutes South of Downtown Vancouver), where inside the various shopping malls you will find a variety of 400+ Asian Restaurants which are sure to have something for everybody’s taste buds.

 

2. CAFE CULTURE in Gastown
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For those of you who love the Cafe Culture head to Gastown which has long been the city’s coolest enclave. Here you will find the baristas competing for who can craft the best cup of coffee in the city!

3. The Spectacular Seawall
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This 22km waterside greenway strikes a path around lush Stanley Park to Canada Place, tracking False Creek all the way to Kilts (the bike path goes even further South). If you are on foot just don’t be the person who walks in the bike lane.

4. Art & Culture
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In Stanley Park visit the intricately carved Totem Poles at Brockton point. Visit The Bill Reid Gallery, Coastal Peoples Fire Arts Gallery & the UBC’s Museum of Anthropology.


 

Have we missed anything out?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Hurtigruten Announces New Hybrid Ships

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Hurtigruten Reveals New Hybrid Ships

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  • The new Hurtigruten ships, announced earlier this year, will use new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology
  • The hybrid ships will reduce fuel consumption by approximately 20 percent
  • For the first time, fully electric propulsion on a passenger ship will be possible

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Hurtigruten, the exploration travel company, has decided to invest in a hybrid solution for its new ships in a bid to operate fully electric expeditionary ships in the Arctic and Antarctic. The ships, constructed at Kleven Yards in Norway, will be the world’s first expeditionary ships with true hybrid propulsion.

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“The future of shipping is, without a doubt, silent and emission free. We will use our new expeditionary ships as groundbreakers for this new technology and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible, today.” said CEO of Hurtigruten, Daniel Skjeldam.

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Saves 3,000 tons CO2 per year

Already in the first phase, the new hybrid technology will make sailing with electric propulsion for 15 – 30 minutes a reality. However; the total reduction in fuel consumption is the main gain. The technology, in combination with the construction of the hull and effective use of electricity on board, will reduce the fuel consumption and CO2-emissions from the ships by 20 percent. This amounts to more than 3,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. A passenger ship requires enormous amounts of energy to operate, and so far, there has been no technological solution to fulfil the requirements of a fully electric Hurtigruten ship. Hurtigruten’s new hybrid ships will likely be the first of its kind in the world.

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The hybrid solution has been developed by Rolls Royce and Bellona, a non-profit organisation working to meet and fight climate challenges, has worked with Hurtigruten on this project.

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“This is an historic day for Norwegian shipping and for Norwegian maritime technology. Battery powered propulsion in ships this size shows that batteries are on board to stay. This represents a huge reduction in emissions from shipping, and it is only the beginning.” said Founder and President of Bellona, Fredric Hauge.

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The sound of silent fjords

The new ships, represent the largest singular investments in the history of Hurtigruten. The contract with Kleven includes the construction of two ships with a capacity of 530 beds. The contract includes an option for two more ships.

The first ship, which sails in 2018, is equipped with an auxiliary electric engine whilst the second will feature a fully-fledged hybrid engine that can power the entire ship for longer periods of time and distances, into fjords and most importantly in vulnerable areas.

“To be able to sail using only electrical power is not only a great benefit for the environment, but it will also enhance the impact of experiencing nature for the guests. Picture sailing into a fjord silently without any form of emissions.” adds Skjeldam.

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The investment in new technology is 124 million NOK and Enova, a Norwegian government enterprise responsible for the promotion of environmentally friendly production and consumption of energy is contributing to the project with 45.1 million NOK.

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About the hybrid technology
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  • Makes fully electric propulsion an option for shorter periods of time
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  • New battery technology contributes to a significant reduction of CO2 from ships
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  • New solutions will contribute to a 20 percent reduction of fuel consumption. In total, the two new ships will have a reduced CO2 emission of 6,400 metric tons per year compared to traditional ships. In perspective, this is the same amount of yearly emissions created by 5,540 new cars
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  • The technology is developed in two phases:

 

 

 

Phase 1: A battery powered auxiliary engine will provide large reductions in fuel consumption related to “peakshaving”. This solution is installed on the first expeditionary ship ready in 2018
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Phase 2: If the technology is ready, large batteries will be installed that provide the possibility of fully electric sailing across longer distances and over longer periods of time. This propulsion will be used when sailing into fjords, at port and in vulnerable areas. The goal is to install this technology in ship number 2, which is finished in 2019. The goal is also to refurbish ship number one with the same technology

About the ships

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  • Specially constructed for voyages in polar waters
  • The ships are designed by Rolls Royce and are constructed by Kleven Yards
  • Number of passengers: 530
  • Strengthened hulls for traversing ice
  • Number of cabins: 265
  • Dimensions (exterior): Length 140 meters, width 23,6 meters, height 29 meters
  • Depth: 5,3 meters
  • Delivery: First ship in July 2018 the second in July 2019
  • Adapted for the service route along the Norwegian coast

 

About Hurtigruten and its fleet

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Hurtigruten is the original Norwegian coastal route since 1893. The company brings goods, local passengers and tourists to 34 ports along the unique Norwegian coast between Bergen and Kirkenes – every day of the year. Hurtigruten explorer ship MS Fram sails in Antarctica, around Spitsbergen and around Greenland.

Explorer tourism is a fast growing segment of the holiday industry and MS Spitsbergen adds flexibility to Hurtigruten’s global operations, as the company now operates four ships offering guests unique nature and culture experiences from pole to pole.

In the high Arctic, Hurtigruten now offers voyages to Greenland; to Iceland; around Spitsbergen; and from 2017 to Arctic Canada. In the southern hemisphere, Hurtigruten takes guests to the waters around Antarctica; along both coasts of South America; and from 2017, to the mighty Amazon rainforest.

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For more information, please contact:

UK press office

Emma Corbett: Emma.Corbett@hkstrategies.com / 0207 973 5934

Emma Falconer-Hall: Emma.FalconerHall@hkstrategies.com / 0207 413 3063

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Top things to do in Nassau

Are you visiting Nassau on a cruise ship or staying there for a week? Here are a few suggestions of places to see during your visit to Nassau…

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the Chocolatier Factory at GrayCliff Mansion

For those chocoholics amongst you, visit the 18th Century Graycliff Mansion, the city’s oldest restaurant and hotel.  On site is a chocolatier where you can join on of their hour long tours costing $50.  You will enjoy samples along the way or make your own truffles or chocolate bar.  Tropical flavoured chocolate treats.

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Clear your mind at Sivanda Ashram Yoga Retreat

Feel that you need to clear your mind? Why not join one of the classes at Sivanda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island.  90 minute mind clearing costs just $10 or why not buy a day pass for $45 which includes 2 classes, two meals, and two satsangs (meditation sessions).

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Have a Splash at The Atlantis Water Park

Not staying at Atlantis Resort? No worry there are a limited number of day passes available for you to experience this mega resort and all it has to offer. This Mayan themed water park includes the infamous Mayan Temple which slides you through the pool of sharks below!

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Taste the true flavours of the BAHAMAS 

For those foodies wanting to sample Bahamian food then the Tru Bahamian Food Tour which is a 3 hour walking tour is the trip for you.  Visiting authentic eats which are sampled at six of the city’s best eateries.

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A Guide for First Time Cruisers

If this is to be your very first cruise, then here are some points for helping with your decision as to which line, ship and destinations are correct for you.

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All ships are * rated in the same way as hotels are, therefore if you would normally stay at a 5* hotel such as Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Hyatt then you obviously need a 5* ship such as Holland America Line, Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises. If you normally stay deluxe hotels like Intercontinental, Waldorf Astoria, Raffles Singapore etc then you need the deluxe cruise lines like Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises.

Royal Caribbean

Are you a family travelling with children and are looking for a ship with facilities for them to have a fantastic holiday? Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruises have fantastic facilities such as Ice Rinks, Bowling Alleys, Flowrider, crazy golf, Climbing wall just to name a few.

All offer kids clubs with 4 different age brackets and all staff have university degree’s in child care and first aid. Your children will be well looked after on these lines – in fact many clients tell me their children didn’t want to come out of the clubs and wished they could be there 24 hours a day.

Royal Caribbean Splash Zone

If you are looking for an adult only ship, then you have a few to choose from Cruise & Maritme Voyages “Marco Polo”, P& O Cruise Lines “Arcadia”, “Adonia” & “Oriana” are all the ships for you. However if you are looking for a small ship or deluxe rated ship then, although they are not adult only, you get only a few children on the likes of Crystal, Seabourn, Silversea & Oceania cruises.

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Fred Olsen and Shearings River cruises are aimed predominantly at the over 55 market and are not really suitable for younger cruisers.

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Jacuzzi on board the deck of P&O Arcadia

Cruises offer exceptional value for money when you work out the daily cost per person. A cruise includes all your meals, entertainment (except bingo where your ticket costs become the money for the prize) flights, transfers, airport & port taxes.

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As an example a 12 night cruise on the 4* MSC Opera to the Baltic from Southampton in May 2015 works out at £67 per person per night. Two of the ports of call are Amsterdam and Helsinki and a 4* hotel on bed and breakfast alone would cost you more than that per night, plus there would be the flights to add to it etc.

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So at the end of the day you get to see more places – as most days you wake up to a new port of call to discover.

Dinner on board Crystal Serenity

There are also expedition cruises and luxury small ship cruises for those that don’t want the mass market ships, obviously these will cost much more than the larger ships, in the same way that if you want the luxury of a Mercedes then it will be much more than a Ford etc.

River cruises are for those that want to visit some of Europe’s, Far East Cities along the likes of the Rhine, Danube, Douro, Mekong & Yangtzee rivers.

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The ships being much smaller only holding around 100 – 150 passengers in most cases do book up almost 18 months in advance. Again there are a choice of ships dependent on your requirements. From Shearings with ships aimed again at the over 55’s to the deluxe lines of Uniworld & Tauck tours, with other lines in between.

Tauk River Cruising
Tauk River Cruises

If you don’t wish to fly, then there are many lines with cruises departing out of the UK such as P&O, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Fred Olsen, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Cunard, Holland America. There are also options to join some of the ships departing from ports in Europe by Eurostar or Coach especially on the River Cruise Lines.

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Everybody has different requirements about what makes “YOUR IDEAL DREAM HOLIDAY” as a specialist cruise travel agent and one of only 15 people in the whole of the UK & Ireland with the Cruise Line International Associations “Masters Level” qualification in Cruise training and destination knowledge, I’m sure we will find you yours.

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USA Visas

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USA ENTRY REGULATIONS

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Everybody travelling to the USA must be in possession of either an ESTA or a valid USA Visa.

An ESTA must be applied for no later than 72 hours prior to departure and once approved is valid for multiple entries into the USA for 2 years from the date of issue or until passport expiry date if less than 2 years validity left.

 


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PLEASE NOTE

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On July 26, 2013 the U.S. Embassy in London and the Consulate General in Belfast transitioned to a new visa information and appointment booking system, which includes an online appointment booking service for non immigrant visa applicants. This new system is being implemented worldwide. This service is provided through a link from U.S. Embassy London’s website at http://london.usembassy.gov or directly at the separate web address http://usvisa-info.com.

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Travellers requiring visa information, or information on scheduling a nonimmigrant visa interview should call 09042-450-100 (Calls to this line are charged at £1.23/min plus network extras). The Operator Assisted Information Service will schedule non-immigrant visa appointments up to and including July 26. Travellers requiring appointments for August and beyond will be required to wait until the new appointment booking services comes into operation on July 26.

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Nationals of the 37 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, including British citizens, should check their eligibility to enter the United States visa free under the VWP and if entering the United States by air or sea carrier, obtain travel authorization under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel. If qualified, visas are not
required. Further information concerning the VWP and ESTA is available from the Embassy website at http://london.usembassy.gov.

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When to apply?

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The online version should be completed at least 72 hours before departure – applications can be made after that but they run the risk that approval may not be received ahead of travel.

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What happens to ESTA applications?

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Once the online application has been completed and, assuming it is satisfactory, the system will normally quickly respond with an approval. Travellers should make a note of the ESTA approval number in case they need to access their application later such as to register their full USA address & flight details. Some applications may take up to 72 hours to approve whilst data is checked.

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Who can complete ESTA?

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Each family member travelling is required to complete an ESTA application and third party entry of data into ESTA is permitted whether a relative or not. However the third party must be completely certain as to the accuracy of such entries. Any inaccuracies will be taken up with the applicant – NOT the third party and the applicant remains totally responsible for their own records.

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APIS and ESTA?

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Travellers who have previously travelled to the USA will know that additional information, relating to their journey, is already required. As ESTA & APIS data cover two different requirements and are run by two different government departments, both systems have to run separately. At some point the two may be merged so that duplicate information does not have to be provided, but currently there is no planned date for such a change.

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Repeat Visits?

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Updating ESTA data for repeat visits within the two-year ESTA duration is recommended but may not be mandatory. That is, upon entry into the USA, the Customs Border Protection officer will also have the traveller’s APIS data on screen at the same time as the ESTA data and this may lead to a query why the two sets of data do not match. Updating ESTA with new arrival and the first night’s stay data will save time at the point of entry as it will mean fewer questions.

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I do not yet know the US destination address or flight details.

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ESTA applications can still be made without a full address and flights. In the short term, flight details are not required and a generic address only will suffice. For example, city and state. Applicants should register full address & flight details once known.

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ESTA Refusals?

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Experience to date confirms that ESTA has not created additional refusals to travel over current levels – currently ESTA refusals are less than xx %. Any applicant receiving a refusal and still wishing to travel to the USA, will need to apply to the US Embassy for a Visa.

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Further information here

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta

 

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Recipe: Caribbean Tamarind Glazed Salmon

THE LATEST edition of Caribbean Cookbook heads to Jamaica and the kitchen of Chef Gian Stewart, Chef de Partie at the Sandals Royal Plantation hotel in Jamaica, a certified Executive Chef who will be competing with the Jamaican team at this year’s Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition in Miami.

Stewart offers his recipe for tamarind glazed salmon with crispy skin, ripe plantain sauce, rice and peas cake, roasted pineapple salsa, garlic sauteed string beans and tomato oil. Here’s the recipe…

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Tamarind glaze

Ingredients:

2 tbsp Honey

1cup Tamarind juice

Method

Combine honey and tamarind juice in a pot and reduce until thickened over low flame

Tamarind glazed salmon

6oz salmon filet

½ cup Tamarind glaze

1 tbsp Olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp Lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp chopped thyme

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Method:

1. Wash and season salmon with garlic, thyme, lime juice, salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a nun stick sauté pan add salmon and sear on both side remove from flame brush with tamarind glaze  and put in the oven. Cook to your degree of doneness.

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Roasted pineapple salsa

Ingredients:

1 cup dice roasted pineapple

1tbsp dice bell pepper

1 tsp dice onion

1tsp chopped cilantro

Scotch bonnet to taste

1 tsp olive

1tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp pineapple juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with wooden spoon

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Tomato oil

Ingredients:

1 tomato peel and deed seeded

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

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Method:

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend strain and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

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Ripe plantain sauce

Ingredients:

½ cup cooked ripe plantain

1tsp butter

1 prig thyme

1 tbsp dice onion

2 tbsp coconut cream

1cup fish stock

1tsp dice celery

Salt and pepper to taste

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Method:

1. Heat butter in a sauce pot, add celery, garlic and onion cook for 2 minutes. Add plantain and cook for 5 more minutes over low flame.

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2. Add the stock and continue to cook for 10 minutes over low flame. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

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3. Return to flame add the coconut milk and thyme season to taste with salt and pepper simmer for 3 minute remove from flame and strain

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Crispy salmon skin

Ingredients:

Salmon skin

Salt and pepper taste

1 tsp Olive oil

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Method:

Heat nun stick sauté pan add olive oil and salmon skin place another pan on top of salmon skin cook until crispy over low flame season to taste with salt and pepper

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Garlic sautéed string beans

Ingredients:

6 string beans blanched

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1tsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

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Method:

Heat butter in sauté pan add garlic cook for 1 minute over low flame add string bean season with salt and pepper.

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Rice and peas cake

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked sticky rice

½ cup cooked red peas

1 tsp butter

1tbsp chopped escallion

1 tsp Chopped parsley

1tsp chopped garlic

1 tsp chopped onion

½ cup bread crumbs

½ cup flour

Scotch bonnet to taste

I cup egg wash (egg and milk whisk together)

Salt and pepper to taste

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Method:

1. Heat butter in a sauté pan add onion garlic and escallion sauté for one minute remove from flame combine with the rice, red peas, parsley, scotch bonnet and salt and pepper to taste. Use a ring mould to shape rice cake. Set aside

2. Season bread crumbs and flour in two separate container with salt and pepper dust rice cake with flour then egg wash then bread crumbs deep fry until golden brown

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Bon appetit!

Amazing Natural Wonders You Can See On A Cruise

A luxury cruise is the perfect choice if immersing yourself in some of the world’s most beautiful scenery is what you really like to do on holiday. Think about it. You’ll always have a view of the ocean no matter which luxury cruise line you choose and whatever class of suite you’re staying in, so you’ll be able to drink in many a panoramic coastal vista before you eventually dock.
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Speaking of exploring, there are some excellent bespoke excursions on offer from all the luxury lines, from Azamara’s Azamazing Evenings to Regent Seven Seas’ incredible shore experiences, which are all included in your cruise fare. Added to that, owing to their smaller size, luxury cruise ships are often able to dock in more remote ports of call, giving you more opportunity to experience areas of beauty you otherwise may not have got to see. Here’s a look some of the areas of natural beauty you could visit on a luxury cruise.

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THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

A destination synonymous with fabulous fauna is the Galapagos Islands. This national park and biological marine reserve is home to a huge number of species which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, which makes them a natural go-to destination. Perhaps most famous are the land and marine iguanas – the latter of which is the only iguana which feeds in the sea – and also the Galapagos giant tortoise. It’s not just denizens of the sea which the islands are famous for, as Blue-footed Boobies, Waved Albatross and Great Frigatebirds are all indigenous. A number of luxury lines make island calls, but Silversea’s Silver Galapagos is one ship which offers a particularly immersive experience.

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IGUAZU FALLS

If you’re familiar with the New7Wonders of the World, you may be interested to know that there’s also the New7Wonders of Nature. Obviously, these ‘new’ natural wonders have been around for hundreds and thousands of years but this initiative was a great opportunity for people to rediscover them. One of the most spectacular is Iguazu Falls. This incredible natural wonder lies on the border of Argentina and Brazil and can be best seen if you book a South American cruise and stay, giving you plenty of time to take in some of the 275 drops the falls comprise of. Fringed by lush greenery, they truly are a sight to behold.

The Amazon

When the world’s second-longest river passes through the world’s biggest basin as well a rainforest where a third of all known species of animals in the world live, you know it’s a must for nature-lovers. There are over 3,000 different species of fish alone to be found in the Amazon Basin but the river’s also home to species of dolphin, manatee and otter, too. There are a number of South American and world cruises on offer by lines such as Crystal Cruises which give you the chance to sail this iconic natural waterway for yourself and experience it in all its glory.

The Great Barrier Reef

A number of Australia cruises will give you the opportunity to see for yourself one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the awesome Great Barrier Reef. If your cruise stops at Queensland, you’ll have every opportunity to explore this incredible expanse of over 2,900 different reefs in an area which comprises 133,000 square miles. Many of the species you may encounter here are endemic to the region and there are over 1,500 species of fish living on the reef, making any scuba excursion an utterly memorable experience. There’s also the chance to spot whales and dolphins, as over 30 different species live on the reef, as well as sea turtles and dugongs.

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The Aurora Borealis

A completely different kind of natural wonder, in that it’s not on Earth at all, rather above it. The Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights as it is most commonly known, is an incredible natural light show and one of the Earth’s most amazing natural sights. Many Arctic and Norwegian fjords cruises take place at a time of year which offers you a great chance of seeing the fantastic display for yourself, though a sighting is never guaranteed. You’re probably most familiar with the green lights, though count yourself as one of the truly privileged if you catch sight of the rarer red or blue lights.

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Loblolly Bay, Anegada, British Virgin Islands

Top 10 Beaches in the Caribbean

 

Trying to earn your Caribbean beach bum credentials? You can’t consider yourself a coastal connoisseur until you’ve planted your posterior on (at least) one of these marquee strands…

 

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1. Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

So what if its not actually seven miles long? The relaxed, reggae-fueled vibe and the colorful cast of characters that parades along this northwest beach make its exact dimensions incidental.

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Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island, Bahamas

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2. Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island, Bahamas

If you find yourself on Paradise Island you’ll likely find yourself on its most popular beach, where two miles of white sand is bordered by resorts and restaurants. (Head to the northwest end if you’re seeking solitude.)

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Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

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3. Seven-Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

We’ll bet that these blindingly white sands are some of the hottest we’ve ever walked across, yet nothing deters us from getting our fill of the bathtub-warm waters that wash Grand Cayman’s most famous beach.

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Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

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4. Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

Sheltered on the island’s Leeward side, this two-mile-long stunner is Grenada’s most popular beach and home to several large resorts and small hotels so you can stay right where you want to play.

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Loblolly Bay, Anegada, British Virgin Islands

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5. Loblolly Bay, Anegada, British Virgin Islands

On the coral island of Anegada, known for its breathtaking beaches, this stretch is a standout, with palapas for shade, restaurants for sustenance, and a few hotels in case you decide never to leave.

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Magens Bay, US Virgin Islands

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6. Magens Bay, US Virgin Islands

Why does this St Thomas shore top many best beach lists? We suspect it has something to do with its photogenic mile-long white-sand stretch, which has been captured on the cover of several travel magazines.

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Pain de Sucre, Terre de Haut, Guadeloupe

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7. Pain de Sucre, Terre de Haut, Guadeloupe

On Terre-de-Haut, one of five islands in the French-Caribbean archipelago, this strand is like a postcard come to life with golden sands, crystalline water and leaning coconut palms.

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Grand Anse d’Arlet, Martinique

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8. Grand Anse d’Arlet, Martinique

We can think of so many reasons why the beach that borders this southern fishing village is featured in Martinique’s promotional material: golden sand, Ti Sables restaurant, and a relaxed vibe are just three.

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Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

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9. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

This 12-mile stretch on Providenciales has it all: sand as fine as confectioner’s sugar; gin-clear water; and an appropriately laidback vibe.

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Maundays Bay, Anguilla

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10. Maundays Bay, Anguilla

Like all of Anguilla’s 33 beaches, Maundays Bay is public, so you don’t have to be a guest of plush Cap Juluca (the resort which presides over its sands), to sample its pleasures.

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Think we’ve missed one? Let us know about it on our Facebook Page!

 

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Essential things to do before you travel

You’re on your way to the airport for that long-anticipated summer vacation and you suddenly realize — you didn’t take out the trash, and you’ll be coming home to a house that smells like fish. Or, worse yet, you’re buckled into your aisle seat ready to take off and you can’t remember whether you closed that garage door or not.With all the excitement of getting out of town, it’s easy to forget to tie up some important loose ends, but easier to relax if you know for certain Kevin isn’t sleeping in the attic.

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Preparing and packing for a long vacation requires thought and organization. And no matter how long the trip, a good check-list can help you make sure you’re all set and ready to relax. Here’s what you should definitely take care of before you leave for your next escape:

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1. Make copies

Passports, credit card information, itineraries, confirmation numbers, insurance cards, emergency medical information. Having a copy of all vital info can be helpful if you run into any problems. Make a copy of your itinerary, and give it to a trusted friend. Hopefully your vacation is relaxing and the only excitement on it is the good kind, but having someone who knows your plans and can help in case of emergency is an important safeguard.

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2. Bring protection

For your skin, that is. Pack sunscreen and bug repellent — especially if you’re travelling to tropical climates. Also pack a basic travel first-aid kit, with some pain relievers, band-aids and the other basics that can be very useful on vacation.

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3. Don’t forget your power

If you’re bringing electronic devices with you on vacation — and of course you are — make sure you have the chargers and consider a portable battery to keep your devices charged. Having to buy a new charger or worrying about a dead phone is an unnecessary pain. Pack a car charger for road trips.

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4. Plan your first day

Before your trip, plan the basics of the first day of your vacation. Know how you’re getting from the airport to your hotel, download the offline Google Map of your destination, and find shops, or bus and train stations around the area to make your first day smoother.

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5. Set up your vacation responder

In a perfect world, email would go into a state of suspended animation during vacations, and returning to your inbox would be no more stressful than a regular morning. But until we reach that future utopia, there’s the vacation responder — imperfect, but helpful. Consider livening it up a bit with a funny response.

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6. Call your bank

Wherever you’re travelling, chances are pretty good you are going to need some money. Call your bank ahead of time to let them know where you’ll be, and you won’t run into problems with your credit or debit cards while you’re away. Also, make sure you know what your access to cash will be at your destination, especially if it’s international. Currency exchange rates are terrible at airports — be sure you have enough local currency to get you to your hotel and a more amenable rate.

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7. Clean out the fridge

Throw out any food or perishable items with expiration dates that coincide with your trip. Five minutes of fridge cleaning is a small price for a clean return.

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8. Stop the presses (and the post office)

This tip is particularly important for longer trips. The U.S Postal Service has an on-line request form for the hold mail service that keeps your mail while you’re away.

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9. Don’t forget upcoming due dates

Pay any bills that will be due when you’re away. The last thing you want greeting you after a relaxing vacation is a late fee.

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10. Move your spare key

If you keep your spare key under the welcome mat or in a flower pot outside, consider taking it inside or giving it to that trusty friend who’s got a copy of your itinerary. And do a better job hiding it when you return.

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11. Sprinkle baking soda in your toilet bowl

This will not only prevent stagnant water in your toilet bowl, it will also prevent it from staining. It’s also a good idea to take out the trash and recycling before you leave. Bonus points to anyone with the willpower to make the bed before leaving the house.

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12. Close your curtains

Keeping your curtains closed will prevent people from looking in and seeing you’re not at home.

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13. Unplug your appliances

Keeping electronics plugged in while you’re away can run up your electrical bills and drain energy. Unplugging lamps, toasters, coffee machines, washers and dryers, computers and TVs can save you money. The average monthly electricity bill in New York was $113 in 2013. That’s worth at least a few meals on the road.

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14. Set any automatic lights and alarms

Got automatic lights, an alarm system — or both? Don’t forget to set them before you go. After all, that’s why you paid for them in the first-place.

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