My recent trip to Italy combined several of these trends, particularly during my three days in Montepulciano, located well off-the-beaten-path some 40 miles southeast of Siena. Tuscany is home to some of Italy’s most prestigious wine regions, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
The purpose of my trip, aside from getting to Italy for the first time since the pandemic, was to explore the potential for Tuscan wine tours and develop relationships with local vineyards and travel specialists, while exploring a Tuscan region new to me. By fall, I hope to announce wine and culinary small group and private tours of the region provided through my new travel partners.
New Ships on the Horizon
Although the flurry of new cruise ships has slowed a little this year, a dozen ocean going ships are anticipated to debut in 2024, ranging from Royal Caribbean’s 6,700-guest-capacity Utopia of the Seas (the latest in RCL’s Oasis Class) to World Seeker (Atlas Ocean Voyages) with a double-occupancy capacity of 198 guests seeking exploration cruises.
Cunard’s Queen Anne (2,996 guests) arrives in May, the Princess Sun Princess (4,300 guests) in February and Silversea’s Silver Ray (798 guests) in June, representing other exciting cruise offerings new for 2024. I also recommend the small new ships of Oceania and Azamara, known for longer itineraries that take guests to ports where the big ships can’t go. Both cruise lines also offer exotic itineraries providing overnight or late-night port stays.
In the months following the pandemic as cruising resumed, you could easily find excellent cruise accommodations as late as three months from departure but that “booking window” has lengthened to a year for many itineraries and even earlier for limited exotic itineraries. In fact, while the 2024 Alaska cruise season is still a year away, the best itineraries are already selling ahead of expectations and many of the 2024 European river cruise itineraries already have limited availability for certain dates. The message is clear: reserve early!
SUMMER TRAVEL IDEAS CLOSER HOME
Many Caribbean resorts still have availability for last-minute travelers at off-season rates. I particularly recommend Costa Rica (the daily rain showers last only 20 minutes), Riviera Maya along Mexico’s east coast and several islands in the Caribbean’s Greater Antilles.
Also don’t overlook the U.S. national or state parks you might enjoy, although you may have stay nearby since most accommodations within those parks are unavailable at this late date.
Whatever your summer plans include, stay safe and enjoy happy travels with family and friends!
Yours in Travel,