Suitcases are packed and passports at the ready. Cruise lovers everywhere have been in a state of preparation for when it’s safest to hit the open seas. What’s been on their minds: Isn’t it time to explore the world again? Celebrity Cruises has a full slate of 2022-2023 itineraries set to go. Among them, destinations just right for three Orange Coast travelers with very different agendas.
As a note, with COVID in mind, Celebrity Cruises is sailing with reduced capacity, providing more space and more luxury. All crew and guests who are eligible to be vaccinated must be fully vaccinated with all initial doses administered at least 14 days prior to sailing and must present documentation of this. Additionally, all vaccinated guests must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken as either as an Antigen or PCR test conducted within two days of embarkation, and all unvaccinated children between the ages of two and eleven years old will be required to bring a negative PCR test result conducted within three days of embarkation. The line’s enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols and enhanced medical center set a new industry standard.
Food, Culture & History Destinations: Christina Jenkins
Fresh from co-chairing the Alzheimer Orange County Gala, the nonprofit’s co-chair, Christina Jenkins, is already focusing on upcoming fundraising efforts for other organizations, such as the Junior Diabetes Foundation. Squeezing in time for a well-deserved break is also under consideration. “I used to visit Europe every year, but haven’t been since COVID hit,” the Eastside Costa Mesa resident says wistfully.
For Jenkins, travel equates to happiness. “Food, culture, history…” she says. “I love it all.” Her parents made sure the family was exposed to all these things during Jenkins’ childhood. “They wanted to instill in us how other people live.” Journeys included plenty of cruises, a mode of travel she appreciates, especially as an adult. “I have college-aged kids who want to eat different things and engage in different activities,” she explains. “All-inclusive cruises make this easy.”
Some of the destinations on her current wish list: Greece and Croatia. A great Celebrity Cruise for Jenkins’ desires would be the seven-night Greece & Croatia cruise aboard the Infinity. The route would see her stopping at Ports of Call in Athens (Piraeus), Mykonos and Zakynthos, Greece, then on to Kotor, Montenegro, followed by Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia. Onboard dining options run the gamut from the Trellis with its revolving menu options, Luminae’s (The Retreat Class) globally-inspired menus and Blu (Aqua Class), known for its inventive cuisine and biodynamic wines.
As for culture, for someone with a future African safari in her sights, the off-road Athens Safari Adventure that takes in Mount Parnitha National Park’s wildlife will whet her appetite for adventure. Speaking to Jenkins’ yen for culture and cuisine is a walking tour to Dubrovnik’s Dominican Monastery to revel in Renaissance art with a stop to dine on authentic, regional seafood dishes. Supplying an idyllic backdrop – the Adriatic Sea.
Back onboard the Infinity, Jenkins can partake in several of her favorite pastimes – gaming at Fortunes Casino and listening to live music at the Constellation Lounge.
Touchstone Destinations: Edward Susolik
Edward Susolik, a trial attorney with Santa Ana’s Callahan & Blaine law firm, turns to cruises for multi-generational travel and team retreats. For the former, the Czechoslovakian native, who also grew up in Switzerland, likes journeying through Europe so his six children can learn about the world of his early years. Then there’s the Mediterranean, where the current Newport Beach resident went to high school in Madrid and, later, honeymooned in Costa del Sola, Spain. A voyage befitting Susolik’s goal – the 13-night Best of the Mediterranean onboard the Constellation with time in Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.
As for creating memories with Callahan & Blaine staffers, Susolik says his co-workers have a soft spot for Ensenada. “We’ve done a lot of bonding there over the years,” Susolik recalls. Perfect for this crew is Celebrity’s seven-night Mexican Riviera expedition onboard the Millenium. Departing from Los Angeles, the ship visits ports in Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and, yes, Ensenada.
A favorite Ensenada haunt for Callahan & Blaine is the bar Papas and Beer. Some other options for them to consider – scouting the shops along the main thoroughfare and ducking into a former prison that now houses an Aztec Museum.
In the past, the colleagues have enjoyed nightly gatherings. One in particular, is still recalled with mirth. “During a karaoke night, one of our attorneys performed a goofy rap song,” Susolik says. Great venues for such gatherings on the Millenium include dancing in the Rendezvous Lounge or imbibing in international wines at Cellar Masters, or spirits and caviar at the Martini Bar. Not only does this Mexican Riviera cruise serve as a way for the law firm to team build, it also builds memories.
Unfamiliar Worlds: Chef Shachi Mehra
An invitation to spend the day prepping in a New Jersey restaurant led Chef Shachi Mehra to discover her passion for cooking. After training to become a chef, she embarked on a yearlong odyssey through India, Japan and Australia. Flavors encountered on that journey heavily influenced the menu at ADYA, her restaurant in the Anaheim Packing District that’s known for its Indian street food. “There are so many dishes found in different countries that contain the same spices, but used in different ways,” Mehra says. “If I can create a dish that’s both familiar and new, if it involves and sparks interest, then that’s a really good bite of food.”
Where the 2019 winner of Food Network’s Chopped thinks she might discover food that’s completely unrecognizable even to her well-traveled palate? “Iceland and Greenland,” the Santa Ana resident says. “They’re not like anywhere I’ve ever been in terms of geography, people and, I’m sure, food.” An ideal way for her to get there – a 12-night cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit with stops in Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. John’s. Newfoundland, then Qaqortoq and Prins Christian Sund, Greenland, followed by Akureyri, Isafjordur and Reykjavik, Iceland. Who she’d bring along? “My husband, my brother, my sister… a boat filled with people I know would be amazing.”
A stop in Qaqortoq, Greenland would likely find Mehra taking an excursion to the home of a local to share cup of Kaffemik. Then again, as she often heeds the call of the wild, she might choose a hike along the Arctic Tundra’s Great Lake. In Akureyri, Iceland, there’s exploring to be done in Krafla lava fields and Hveraondor Hverir, a region shaped by volcanic and seismic forces. Waiting in Isafjordour – local cuisine for taste testing.
Who else benefits from Mehra’s travels? Those lucky enough to savor ADYA fare. Flavors discovered during her trips find their way on the menu. “I never try to recreate a dish, instead, I draw from how they made me feel, then reimagine recipes as something closer to my heart.”