River cruise lines have taken note of travelers wanting more immersive cultural experiences that take them deep into the communities they visit.
And AmaWaterways' Soulful Experience Black heritage river cruises do just that.
Launched last year as the Soulful Epicurean Experience, the line shortened its name to reflect the broader focus it will take as more destinations and itineraries offer the program this year, with Egypt and Portugal joining France on the roster.
The Soulful Experience program is designed to deliver the highlights along the Rhone, Douro and Nile rivers while adding a curated, insightful journey into Black history and culture in each destination.
The best thing about the itinerary, as I discovered while aboard the AmaKristina for the first Soulful Experience sailing in August, is how AmaWaterways marries a relaxing cruise experience with a thought-provoking roster of guest lecturers and shore excursions. It made my cruise -- a 10-day Colors of Provence itinerary on the Rhone between Arles and Lyon, France -- a unique and culturally rich journey, one that stimulates the senses.
Street art in Little Africa, a cultural hub and neighborhood in Paris. Photo Credit: Nicole Edenedo
Breathtaking sights ...
If you're familiar with Provence, you know that parts of the region are dominated by a mixture of vibrant and muted colors, from the verdant greens of lush vineyards to lavender fields and the sand-hued hillside houses of Gordes, a village synonymous with Provence's idyllic countryside.
This tranquil atmosphere perfectly complements the progressive art scene found at Fondation Blachere in Bonnieux, a contemporary art center and exhibition space dedicated to African artists that Soulful Experience guests can visit on an excursion in Avignon.
Here you'll find a trove of modern mixed-media works from artists like Morocco native Ghizlane Sahli and Oumar Ball of Mauritania spread over a two-story exhibition space. The property features an outdoor sculpture garden visitors can stroll through and a cafe overlooking rolling hills that seats for lunch and serves wine and beer.
The visit pairs with a scenic motorcoach tour through Provence as the local guide explains the area's history, while sprinkling in a bit of personal history and anecdotes.
In Lyon, the Soulful Experience crafts a similar experience of contrasts during a visit to a stunning and particularly moving memorial followed by a visit to a famous wine region.
Tata Senegalais de Chasselay, a cemetery and memorial for the nearly 200 Senegalese soldiers who were massacred by German forces during World War II. Photo Credit: Nicole Edenedo
The story behind Tata Senegalais de Chasselay is as unforgettable as it is visually striking in
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For travelers with a love of history, there’s something truly special about staying in historic neighborhoods and preserved town centers surrounded by iconic monuments and story-filled city streets. A hotel redolent with the whispers of centuries past can be the ideal addition to an immersive journey, offering not just a place to rest, but a living testament to the captivating historic narratives of the region. From restored convents and department stores, to festival hot spots and hideaways for the elite, check out 6 incredible heritage hotels from around the world that are ideal for a March break getaway.
While ceviche is seen as a local dish in many countries from Chile to Mexico, Peruvians call this famous concoction of raw fish marinated in lime juice Peru’s national dish. UNESCO recently added Peru’s ceviche—and the cultural surrounding it—to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
When I'm on vacation, I enjoy imbibing cocktails by the pool, sipping wine with dinner, and savoring evening nightcaps. But after sailing on more than 50 cruises, you'll never see me spend money on an unlimited drink package.
Holland America Line is elevating its award-winning Alaska Cruisetours in time for the 2024 season with room upgrades at McKinley Chalet Resort and a new, included tour in Dawson City, Yukon. Alaska Cruisetours combine an Alaska cruise with an overland tour to Denali, and Holland America Line is the only cruise line that extends those tours into the Yukon. Balconies will be added to 28 river-view rooms at McKinley Chalet Resort — Holland America Line’s hotel property at Denali National Park — upgrading them to the Denali Suite category. In addition, a new Deluxe category of non-balcony rooms with suite amenities is being introduced. For the excursions, guests on select Denali and Yukon Cruisetours will have a new “Klondike Gold Tour” that expands on the region’s famed gold rush experience. The tour visits the original discovery claim site that launched the gold rush and Gold Dredge 4.
When my husband and I started toying with the idea of taking my teenagers on a whale-watching expedition cruise, we had no idea what to expect. While we’d cruised on several major cruise lines in the past, hopping on a 100-passenger ship run by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions felt far different than anything we’d done before.
We’re living in a leap year, which means one extra day to factor into upcoming vacation plans. With a little planning, you can put that day to use and still save money, thanks to a host of late winter and early spring sales now in full effect. Through President’s Day, leap day, and beyond, you’ll find last-minute flight deals, once-in-a-lifetime tour itineraries, and all sorts of sunny destinations to escape to while we wait out winter.
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