Sacred Places: Spiritual Sites That Can Be Visited Via Cruise Ship

Praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of more than 100 holy sites that can be visited on a cruise.

There are more than a hundred cruise itineraries that provide access to sacred places – worldwide sites of healing, guidance, and divine inspiration. The significance of these hallowed sites cannot be expressed in words or pictures – to understand their impact, the faithful must visit them in person, to experience healing, guidance or divine inspiration.

While many of the world’s most sacred sites have historically been inaccessible to all but the hardiest of travelers – those who were able to make arduous overland journeys – the travel experts at CruiseCompete say travelers will find that today’s cruise itineraries make many of these locations surprisingly easy to visit.

Here is a partial list:

Asia/Far East
Beijing, China, Hanging Monastery
Beppu, Japan, Beppu Onsen
Delhi, India, Taj Mahal
Delhi, India, Rishikesh
Hiroshima, Japan, Peace Memorial Park
Kochi, Kanyakumari, India, 3 oceans unite, Ghandi Memorial
Mumbai, India, Ajanta and Ellora caves
Qingdao, Tai Shan, China, Tai Shan Dai Mai Complex
Shanghai, South Korea, Lotus Lantern Festival
Shimizu, Japan, Mt Fuji
Taipai, China/Taiwan, Wenwu Temple
Yangon, Myanman, Bagan

Bridgetown, Trinidad and Tobago, Diwali

Bordeax, France, Lourdes
Bucharest, Romania, Hurezi Monastery
Cologne, Germany, Aachen Cathedral
Cologne, Germany, Shrine of the Three Kings
Dublin, Ireland, Newgrange
Holyhead, Holywell, Wales, St Winefride’s Well
Lisbon, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima
Madrid, Spain, Mezquita
Beaches of Normandy, France, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Paris, France, Chartres Cathedral
Paris, France, Mont-St.-Michael

Cairo, Sinai peninsula, Mt Sinai/St. Catherine’s Monastery
Haifa, Nazareth / Galilee (Haifa), Israel, Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias)
Istanbul, Turkey, Blue Mosque
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Cave of the Nativity
Jerusalem, Israel, Western Wall
Jerusalem, Israel, Holy Sepulchre Church
Jerusalem, Israel, Yad Veshem
Tripoli, Lebanon, Cedars of God Lebanon
Livorno, Italy, Chapel of the Stigmata
Luxor, Egypt, Valley of the Kings
Rhodes, Greece, The Cave of the Apocalypse
Rome, Italy, Abbazia Di San Galgano
Rome, Italy, St. Peter’s Basilica

Middle East
Aqaba, Jordan, Petra

North America
Baltimore, Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery
Huatulpo, Mexico, Day of the Dead
New York, New York, Ground Zero
Baltimore, Washington DC, Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

South America
Copacabana, South America, Islands of the Sun and Moon
Easter Island, South Pacific, Easter Island
Lima, Peru, Mcchu Picchu/ Sacred Valley of the Inca

For more information, visit CruiseCompete’s full listing of sacred places that are accessible via cruise ship.

For more information or assistance planning a future cruise or a cruisetour, visit CruiseCompete and try the Virtual Cruise Advisor.

Find CruiseCompete’s “Sea Tales 2019 Family Cruise Travel Planner” at To see consumer feedback click here.

CruiseCompete has been the premier online cruise marketplace since 2003 (see media praises).

Consumers come to CruiseCompete to research and book cruise vacations. More than 1.5 million users have generated close to 4 million requests from consumers, and agents have delivered almost 17 million quotes since 2003. They can compare offers from trusted travel agents, see consumer reviews of agents and agencies responding, then contact travel agents directly for more information and to book cruises. CruiseCompete is a member of the Family Travel Association, a leading authority and resource for family travel information and is home to the Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner at Travel Resources.

CruiseCompete CruiseTrends™ offers monthly stats for an inside look at consumer trends and what consumers want in cruise vacations.

CruiseCompete takes top honors in Travel + Leisure’s “Top 60 Best Apps and Websites for Travelers” with an honorable mention. The Wall Street Journal praised CruiseCompete as “Best Cruise Travel Site,” The New York Times says, “… independent travel agents compete to offer you the best deal,” and follows similar praise from Travel + Leisure, Kiplinger and The Washington Post. The Street says, “Score luxury cruises at bargain prices.”

For more information, visit or

CruiseCompete is an Iowa limited liability company, is not a travel agency or owned by a travel agency.


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Gift of Travel: Once-in-a-Lifetime Cruise in French Polynesia Aboard Aranui 5

The Aranui 5, a passenger-freighter vessel, sails among the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

SAN MATEO, CA – This holiday season, surprise your loved one with a once-in-a-lifetime cruise aboard the Aranui 5, a passenger-freighter vessel to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

Atop any adventurer’s wish list, the soft adventure cultural voyage boards in Papeete, Tahiti, for a 13-day complete vacation experience sailing 800 miles north to some of most remote islands in the world including Fakarava and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Bora Bora in the Society Islands, as well as Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata and Ua Huka in the Marquesas Islands.

Passengers are fully immersed in Polynesian heritage with onboard activities and offshore excursions to delight in, such as breathtaking hikes, visits to sacred ritual sites and small museums, encounters with local inhabitants, a visit to French artist Paul Gauguin’s grave, snorkeling in the translucent waters of the atolls, on-island picnics and restaurant lunches featuring local food, a visit to a pearl farm and more.

Featuring a crew primarily of inhabitants from the Marquesas Islands and throughout French Polynesia, and with expert lecturers and guides, Aranui 5 combines  mesmerizing scenery and culturally enriching experiences to create an unforgettable vacation.

With six sailings sold out, travelers can enjoy their holiday gift of an all-inclusive adventure throughout the year on 14 available dates between April and December 2019.

The cruise includes three meals daily with complimentary wine for onboard lunches and dinners, guided excursions as outlined in the itinerary, picnics and meals on shore, cultural activities and Polynesian entertainment. Travelers booking a stay aboard the Aranui 5 can choose from eight different cabin categories.

Prices for a 2019 Aranui 5 vacation start at $2,920 per person and do not include port tax, cruise tax and tourism tax.

For more information or to book an Aranui vacation, visit, call 800-972-7268 or email


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Save over 67% on Victoria Cruises’ Acclaimed 3 Gorges Yangtze River Cruise in China by Combining Promotions

Victoria Cruises is offering reduced winter rates on February departures of its popular three- and four-night Three Gorges Highlights itinerary. The discount can be combined with Victoria Cruises 2-for-1 offer on bookings received by Feb. 28, 2019 for a total savings of more than 67% of the cruise fare.

NEW YORK, NY  – Victoria Cruises, the only American-managed luxury cruise line operating on China’s mist-shrouded Yangtze, is offering reduced winter rates on February departures of its popular three- and four-night Three Gorges Highlights itinerary. The discount can be combined with Victoria Cruises 2-for-1 offer on bookings received by Feb. 28, 2019 for a total savings of more than 67% of the cruise fare.

“The Three Gorges region of the Yangtze is geographically closer to Vietnam than Beijing. As a result, our cruises typically feature more temperate weather during the wintertime,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises. “February is therefore a great time to experience river cruising in China at a significant cost savings.”

In order to qualify for the 2-for-1 discount, bookings must include a $90 per person mandatory shore excursion package (billed at $45 per person after 2-for-1 savings is applied). The package features three excursions including an educational tour of the Three Gorges Dam, a tranquil sampan excursion along one of the Yangtze’s scenic tributaries and a visit to a famous Chinese monument such as a 100-foot-tall statue depicting the Jade Emperor, the supreme deity of Chinese Taoism, or Shibaozhai’s famous red pagoda. Excursions are subject to change.

With all discounts included, passengers can sail for as low as $285 per person, based on double occupancy – representing a total savings of $1,170 per couple.

Optional add-on excursions such as the Tribe of the Three Gorges cultural experience or an opportunity to experience the world’s largest ship elevator (capable of elevating a volume of water roughly equivalent to four Olympic-sized swimming pools), are available for onboard purchase starting at $45 per person, per excursion.

Onboard passengers will enjoy a world-class dining program designed for the Western palate, while Tai Chilessons and traditional dance and musical performances emphasize local culture.

Passengers can upgrade their onboard experience for an additional $200 per person with Victoria Cruises’ Luxury Amenities program, which offers VIP perks including upper deck stateroom placement, access to exclusive ship areas, “white glove” service, enhanced culinary privileges featuring a la carte options as well as wine and beer with dinner, exclusive happy hour and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access. The nominal $200 per person upgrade becomes $100 per person when the Luxury Amenities program is booked in conjunction with Victoria Cruises’ 2-for-1 offer.

New York-based Victoria Cruises established new standards of excellence for sailing China’s Yangtze River when its first ship edged out of port in 1994. Victoria Cruises remains a service leader on the Yangtze River with each ship earning the coveted five-star rating from the China National Tourism Administration. Victoria Cruises has earned numerous awards and recognitions over the years including the 2011 TravelAge West WAVE Award Editor’s Pick for Best River Cruise Line as well as Best New River Cruise Ship in 2010 with the launch of the luxurious Victoria Jenna. In that same year, Travel Weekly also selected the Victoria Jenna as a Silver Award Winner for the Magellan Awards’ River Cruise Ship category. The cruise line operates a variety of itineraries on the Yangtze ranging from four to eight days. 

For more information and a free color brochure or promotional DVD, contact Victoria Cruises at 136-18 39th Avenue, 12th Floor, Flushing, NY 11354; phone (800) 348-8084, (212) 818-1680; fax (212) 818-9889. E-mail or visit


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Experience the Arctic like the Inuit: in a Traditional, Hand-Built Igloo

Igloo Lodge, Greenland (photo: Off the Map Travel)

(Ilulissat, Greenland)  – Experience the Arctic like the Inuit people with a stay in a traditional hand-built igloo. Comprising a village known as the Igloo Lodge, five spacious igloos are available for adventurous travelers, each with room to sleep two people.

Launched by Arctic travel specialists Off the Map Travel, the new Igloo Lodge is a first for this winter and an exciting choice for couples and small groups alike.

Travelers don’t have to worry about being cold as each igloo is kitted out with reindeer skins, warm sleeping bags and a petroleum lamp on a night table. On-site is a cozy wooden cabin with bathrooms and a communal meal area. Although outside temperatures can drop well below freezing, the igloos remain around 32ºF, with specialized outdoor bedding and gear providing coziness and comfort.

“The best Arctic adventures are about experiencing authentic moments and creating lifelong memories,” notes Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel. “As soon as you enter the igloo, you see the craftsmanship that goes into its creation, a skill that’s been passed down through generations. It’s quite special to lie back and sleep there just as the Inuits have done for thousands of years,” he continued.

As an example, a 5-day 4-night Ilulissat Igloo Experience itinerary, offered from the end of January 2019 to the beginning of April, is priced from £999 ($1304) per person including three nights on a B&B basis at Hotel Arctic in a double room, one night in an ice-hewn igloo at Igloo Village, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, two Northern Lights safaris, and transfers. Flights are additional.

This project is supported by Interreg Nord and the Visit Arctic Europe project, developing travel to the Arctic Europe region.

For more information on tailor-made Off the Map Travel itineraries visit; call 1-646-701-0041; email or join in the conversation on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube or Pinterest

Off the Map Travel is a team of travel experts who work with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of the world. Specializing in soft adventure and viewing of the Northern Lights, Off the Map Travel creates tailor-made itineraries that offer a distinctive vacation based on first-hand experience. Off the Map Travel vacations anticipate travelers’ needs with pre-planning and customization. Each bespoke itinerary is tailored to the ages of participants, creating experiences for families, groups, couples and singles that are comfortable and luxurious, with activity levels appropriate for all participants.


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Backyard Travel Introduces Family Tour through Vietnam, Cambodia

Backyard Travel has introduced a new family tour through Vietnam and Cambodia.

Bangkok, Thailand – Backyard Travel, the online boutique tour operator specializing in insider tours throughout Asia, today announced a fun family adventure through Vietnam and Cambodia. Heading from the ruins of ancient Angkor to the idyllic beaches of Phu Quoc, this all-ages journey is jam-packed with activities for all ages.

Launching from Siem Reap, Cambodia, the 10-day Ruins, Waterways and Beaches Tour begins with explorations through the Angkor Temple Complex, zipping around the ancient city in a remork and refueling with delicious local cuisine along the way. After an exciting homestay experience in the countryside of Banteay Srei, it’s off to Ho Chi Minh City for a thrilling Vespa tour of the city. From there, it’s on to the fascinating Mekong Delta to explore the waterways and glimpse life along the river, before heading to the tropical paradise of Phu Quoc island for two full days of blissful downtime.

“Traveling with children can be challenging, but our family tours are specially designed to make sure everyone has fun,” says General Manager of Backyard Travel Trystan Trestchenkoff. “Our Travel Specialists have years of experience tailoring family trips, and selecting only the best local experiences in every destination.”

For more information about the Ruins, Waterways and Beaches: A Vietnam and Cambodia Family Tour, contact Pete


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Pauline Frommer to Host World Spree’s Feb. 17 Vietnam Tour

Pauline Frommer, with her father, the legendary travel writer Arthur Frommer, speaking at the New York Times Travel Show. Pauline will host World Spree’s Feb. 17 “Amazing Vietnam” tour. © Karen Rubin/

Bellevue, WA —The February 17 departure of World Spree’s Amazing Vietnam tour has an extra added attraction: it will be hosted by travel expert Pauline Frommer, a familiar face from her many television appearances.

An experienced traveler and engaging personality, Pauline is co-president of Frommer Media with her father, the legendary Arthur Frommer.  Together they publish the Frommer guidebooks and  She is also host of two radio shows on travel and is the author of seven books, countless articles and a weekly King Features syndicated column.

The tour takes in the highlights of Vietnam, an exotic country lapped by the warm waters of the South China Sea, with the world’s friendliest people, a beautiful landscape and a rich history dating back 5,000 years.  It starts in the charming capital, Hanoi, with its French-colonial mansions and mementos of Ho Chi Minh, and continues with an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, famous for its spectacular seascape of limestone peaks and islands.

There’s a glimpse of Danang and China Beach on the way to Hoi An, an old port town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then to Hue, the former imperial capital with its impressive Citadel and, finally, a flight to the bustling city of Saigon, officially known as Ho Chi Minh City.  There are also several optional excursions, including one to the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels and a cruise/land tour to the scenic Mekong Delta.

The 13-day tour costs $1,899 from Los Angeles and San Francisco, $1,999 from New York, and that price includes round-trip international airfare, conveniently-located deluxe hotel accommodations, 13 bountiful meals, an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, sightseeing tours with entrance fees, professional English-speaking guides, baggage handling and audio earphones.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. For additional information, visit and click Vietnam, or call toll-free 1-866-652-5656.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, and known for value-packed trips, World Spree Travel began 14 years ago as China Spree, now operates tours to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bali and, yes, Peru and Ecuador.


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Capital Region Nordic Alliance, Windham Mountain Partner to Offer Nordic, ParaNordic Activities

Windham Mountain Resort and the Adaptive Sports Foundation have joined forces with the Capital Region Nordic Alliance, Inc. to offer Nordic and ParaNordic activities at Windham Country Club this winter, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, orienteering, and biathlon (light-based and paintball).

WINDHAM MOUNTAIN RESORT, N.Y. – Windham Mountain Resort and the Adaptive Sports Foundation have joined forces with the Capital Region Nordic Alliance, Inc. to offer Nordic and ParaNordic activities at Windham Country Club this winter, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, orienteering, and biathlon (light-based and paintball).

Beginning Saturday, December 15, 2018, the Country Club will be open from 9am to 4:30pm, Friday through Sunday, with additional hours during holiday periods. Trail fees will be $10 for adults and $8 for youth.  Children ages six and under are free. An additional fee of $10 for adults and $5 for youth will be charged for orienteering or biathlon activities.  Rental equipment and PSIA certified Nordic lessons are also available.  Capital Region Nordic Alliance, Inc. plans to work closely with The Adaptive Sports Foundation in Windham, making these services available to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities and chronic illnesses.

“Last year, we offered cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the Country Club, but it was contingent on natural snow, making operations difficult.  This is an exciting expansion because the orienteering and biathlon activities will be available whether there is snow on the ground or not,” says Kristen Garraghan, Director of Operations at Windham Country Club.  “I had the pleasure of managing Nordic operations at Windham Country Club toward the end of last winter and I’m thrilled about this new partnership.  We’re looking forward to a great season!” adds Russ Myer, Executive Director of the Capital Region Nordic Alliance.

Capital Region Nordic Alliance, Inc. is a 501(c) 3, not for profit outdoor recreation alliance supporting veterans, adults and youth with disabilities.  The organization focuses on year-round activities in the Nordic and Paralympic Nordic sports to the entire community.  Proceeds from Capital Region Nordic Alliance’s operations at Windham Country Club will support its programming.  For more information visit

Windham Mountain Resort is a year-round destination in the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County, NY, about two and a half hours north of New York City. With 285 skiable acres, Windham boasts 54 trails serviced by 12 lifts, with a new high-speed, six-passenger detachable lift for 2018/2019. The Resort offers six terrain parks, Terrain Based Learning™, beginner packages, lodging, dining options, an Adventure Park, the full-service Alpine Spa, sunset skiing, and much more.  In the summer months, Windham Mountain Bike Park is famous for its World Cup course, but also features a three-mile-long beginner trail. Windham Mountain Country Club is an 18-hole public golf course with a private club atmosphere. Visit for details on these activities and more, and for information on upcoming events.


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