You Can't Go Home Again? I did. Next adventures? Barging in France and off to NYC for a big Seabourn announcement.


This week, Aaron Saunders is sailing on Carnival Miracle along the Mexican Riviera. Me? I'm spending time far from the sea in Asheville, North Carolina. Did you know that Frommer's named Asheville one of the top 15 places to visit in 2015? Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, our city ranked with entire countries - Argentina and Austria - and with world-class cities such as London - and even cruise lines, Cunard Line. I don't know how much faith I would put in letting Frommer's tell me where to go, but Asheville certainly merits being on the list of must-see destinations. And I won't digress too much about my fair city. If you're curious to learn more, check out Explore Asheville

Those two kids in the photo are my kids, Alex, who is 18 and taller than his dad, and Britton, who turned 20 on June 1.

I'm exceptionally proud of both of my kids, as any parent would be. My son is one of the nicest people who I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. When I describe him, of course I mention that he is tall and handsome and possesses a good sense of humor, but I also add that when you walk away from an encounter with Alex, you feel as though you have been given a gift. And indeed you have. He is full of compassion and empathy, an amazing young man who I hope will graduate on Friday June 12. School has not been his strong suit, and whether or not he will cross the stage remains to be seen. It's a real nail-biter for his mom and me.

My daughter -  if you're sensitive to vulgar language, please scroll down the page - is what we call the MBIC. That is to say that she is the Main Bitch In Charge, a title that she readily embraces. She is responsible and dependable (and loving as well). You can count on her, always. I remember once on Princess Cruises when the kids were probably 4 and 5 years old, Alex being the younger. Their mother and I had to attend an early-morning immigration procedure as we were heading to our port of debarkation. We left the kids quietly sleeping and returned 30 minutes later. Before entering the room, we heard crying. "Don't worry little buddy," I heard Britton say, "let's get you dressed and we'll go find mom and dad." A five-year-old, taking charge. I often joke that all Britton is missing is a clipboard tucked under her arm.

She's studying communications to follow in her father's footsteps. And why wouldn't she? I must have one of the best jobs in the world, and I am grateful for all that I have been able to see and experience while at sea and ashore on cruise ships. Lucky for me, those two kids have been with me on many, many trips. 

My next adventure take me to New York to see what Seabourn is unveiling for its new ship, due out in 2016. I come back home for a graduation ceremony where I hope my son will walk, then head out for a barge cruise from Arles to Sete through a beautiful region in the south of France.

"We love Arles, France, hometown of artist Vincent Van Gogh ... ," wrote the Frommer's editors in Frommer's' Best Places to Go in 2015. Nonetheless, they left Arles off their list. "Ultimately, after much lobbying, discussion, and deliberation, we had to draw the line at 15 destinations. With great reluctance on our part, as that number left plenty of esteemed honorable mentions off our final list."

But Asheville is on the list, and I am here for another 10 days, minus a quick trip to New York and back. That Asheville made the cut, however, is not the reason I am here. It is those two kids and the joy they bring to their father.

"You Can't Go Home Again" is the title of a novel penned by Asheville's most famous author. I prove Thomas Wolfe wrong time and again - and hope to do so for decades to come. - Ralph Grizzle

Carnival Miracle Day 3: Cabo San Lucas

Yesterday it was Andres; today it’s Blanca. The second Tropical Storm of the 2015 Pacific Hurricane Season was officially given its name early this morning. It’s currently located to the southwest of Acapulco and is moving very slowly in a northerly direction – so slowly, …

Read more.

Carnival Miracle Day 2: Cruising the Pacific Ocean

An oddly Alaskan-style morning greeted Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle when I awoke, on this first day of our weeklong voyage to the Mexican Riviera. Peering out the curtains of my stateroom, I was surprised to see overcast skies and grey seas instead of the crisp …

Read more.

Carnival Miracle Day 1: Embarkation in Long Beach

The smog was so thick when my Air Canada Rouge flight touched down at Los Angeles International Airport this morning that you could have scooped it up and served it as pudding. With the horizon disappearing into a grey-brown haze, it’s the kind of thing that could really get a guy (or gal) down. Unless, that is, you’re headed to Long Beach to embark Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle for a weeklong voyage to the Mexican Riviera ...

Read Aaron Saunders Live Voyage Report from Carnival Miracle

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Many Baltic Sea cruises either begin or end in Stockholm. There is an elegance and gracefulness to Stockholm that is often difficult to put into words. You must be there to absorb the aura of this grand Scandinavian city.

If I were younger and planning to move to Europe, Stockholm would be my first choice of cities in which to settle. As a world traveler, I consider that quite a strong statement of support for this far northern city whose cold winter nights often negate its other qualities. Stockholm is the capital city of Sweden and the largest city in Scandinavia. But of course the people of Copenhagen dispute that statistic, claiming that they are larger.

Read Lew Deitch's guide to Stockholm


The Greek island of Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands. In some ways, Corfu feels more Italian (thanks to the Venetians and the Italians who occupied the island) than it does Greek. Certainly the many pine trees that we saw during our visit reminded us of the Tuscan landscape as does some of the dialects we found …

Read our guide to Corfu shore excursions

Viking Star, Two Ways

We've got lots of Viking Star coverage, from my own series of reports on a Barcelona to Lisbon sailing, including a firsthand video look at what makes this new ship so exciting, to Aaron Saunders coverage from London to Bergen, including the christening events. Here are the links to our reports.

Barcelona to Lisbon, Ralph Grizzle

• Day 1: Boarding in Barcelona; a Tour with Tor

• Day 2: Departing Barcelona; Understated Elegance - for less than Oceania

• Day 3: Cartagena, Spain, Has Viking Created a New Category of Ocean Cruiser

• Day 4: A Peek Inside My Penthouse aboard Viking Star

• Day 5: Avid Cruiser's Viking Star Introduction Video

• Day 6: Lisbon, Portugal; End of a Journey; Summing Up Viking Star

London to Bergen, Aaron Saunders

• Day 1: Embarkation in London

• Day 2: At Sea

• Day 3: Sailing the North Sea

• Day 4: Arrival in Bergen

• Prelude To A Viking Christening

• Day 5: Christening A Star


Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise

In this free special report, I’ve put together a half dozen actionable items that can make the difference between cruise vacations that are memorable and others that fail to measure up to all you had hoped they would be. I’ve cruised on hundreds of ships, as a solo traveler and with family and friends.  — Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser

Click to download the report.


Complete this thought: My best packing tip for cruises is ... click here to answer.


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