CruiseWorld Coverage

Culture and cuisine take center stage in immersion session

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New York City Vacation Packages' Joel Cohen presents during the culinary and cultural experiences Travel Experience Immersions panel at CruiseWorld. Seated are, from left, panelists Tia Broomes of Barbados Tourism Marketing, Floris van Hoogenhuyze of Cultural Cruises Europe and Eyal Carlin of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
New York City Vacation Packages' Joel Cohen presents during the culinary and cultural experiences Travel Experience Immersions panel at CruiseWorld. Seated are, from left, panelists Tia Broomes of Barbados Tourism Marketing, Floris van Hoogenhuyze of Cultural Cruises Europe and Eyal Carlin of the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

FORT LAUDERDALE -- CruiseWorld this year offered attendees the chance to delve into a specific type of travel during a series of Travel Experience Immersions. Travel advisors could choose from panels on culinary and cultural experiences; adventure and experiential travel; luxury travel; or family and multigenerational experiences.

Vicky Garcia, co-owner and COO of Cruise Planners, moderated the panel on culinary and cultural experiences.

"It's a topic that I love, and I think that most of us that travel, for the most part, are always talking about what amazing things we ate when we traveled," she said. "It's a common thing. Yes, you see beautiful things, you see amazing chapels and whatnot, but it's always like, oh my god -- the pizza in Italy, the beers wherever."

In the Immersion sessions, each panelist gave a presentation about their respective companies relative to the topic at hand, with time for questions after. Tia Broomes, a marketing executive with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., kicked off the culinary and cultural session by talking about Barbados, including its history and some of the cultural and culinary-related experiences travelers can have there.

For instance, visitor can go to the George Washington House & Museum to learn about the place George Washington lived in for two months in 1751. They can then have a multicourse dinner there with a guide, who will tell tales of Washington's exploits on the island.

There are a number of food-related tours around the island, and some areas are particularly suited to those interested in the culinary aspect of the country, like restaurants and bars that proliferate in the Holetown Historic Area.

Floris van Hoogenhuyze of Cultural Cruises Europe talked about his company, a subsidiary of Boat Bike Tours, which combines river cruising with cycling.

Cultural Cruises Europe focuses on itineraries sailing on rivers in the Netherlands. For instance, it offers a Holland Culture Tour, an eight-day tour focused on Dutch culture. Popular especially among Americans has been its World War II Battlefields Cruise, an eight-day tour that follows the Liberation Route Europe.

In 2020, the company, which considers itself a startup, will offer 10 tours on two vessels. By 2022, its goal is 40 tours on four boats.

Eyal Carlin, the Israel Ministry of Tourism's tourism commissioner for North America, described Israel as a "melting pot" of more than 70 cultures, resulting in some truly interesting culinary experiences.

There are food-related experiences throughout the country, like market tours. Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, he said, is famous for its marketplaces; places where farmers sell produce during the day; restaurants small and large operate; and bars, galleries and music venues that open at night.

Today, Carlin said, there are several market tours where people go with a guide and can spend as much time in the markets as they wish, talking with the vendors and using a special card to get a sample of their wares.

New York was the topic for Joel Cohen, vice president of New York City Vacation Packages. The company focuses on leisure travel to the Big Apple, including hotel packages and activities, all commissionable to agents.

Cohen described New York as the "cultural capital of the U.S.," with some of the world's greatest museums and entertainment, and the home of scores of writers, musicians, actors and other creative types. It is also where pivotal events in history happened, like the Stonewall Riots that sparked the gay-rights movement, and 9/11.

He highlighted several travel options, including a tour that focused on hip-hop and its origins; a graffiti and street art tour; and culinary tours that visit some of the city's famed eateries.

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