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Himeji Castle in spring cherry blossom season, Hyogo, Japan
12 November, 20206 minute read

In the moment: 5 unforgettable travel experiences

However amazing a holiday is, there's always a particular moment which stands out – a moment you remember for years to come. It might be seeing something you've dreamed of for years, or it might be something totally unexpected.

Our holidays are all about sharing perfect moments, so we asked a few of our team to share their favourite experience with us. From watching the Northern Lights dance above a snowy Norwegian landscape, to listening to an original Elvis recording in the very studio it took place in, they’re completely different – but equally memorable for those who experienced them.

Witnessing cherry blossom season in Japan

By Miggi Cheng, Titan Tour Manager

Cherry blossom at Himeji Castle, Japan

The avenue of cherry trees in full bloom as we travelled towards Lake Kawaguchi was magical. So magical, in fact, that the driver pulled the coach over at a safe place and we all got off and walked slowly under the trees.

We breathed in the perfume of the blossom, took pictures of the trees with a bright blue sky beyond, and were showered with confetti petals as the gentle breeze released some of the blooms from the branches. It was an experience where I truly felt ‘in the moment’.

Experience it for yourself

While the timing of Japan’s cherry blossom is firmly in Mother Nature’s hands, travelling in late March or April will give you the best chance of seeing it. Miggi was on ‘Essence of Japan’, which has a number of spring departures.

Sipping sundowners on a Rhine river cruise

By Alastair Brent

Cologne at night, viewed from across the Rhine River

38°C is the sort of temperature one would expect when cruising into Kolkata, Port Said or Dubai – not Cologne. However, this is the situation in which MS Bellejour and I found ourselves back in August.

We arrived into Cologne shortly after midday and had the rest of the day at leisure. Like 99% of tourists here, I made a beeline for the cathedral – a twin-spired Gothic creation that rises like a blackened stalagmite next to the modernised railway station. Those impressed by its outside should really take a look inside. This can be done for free, and rewards visitors with some fine stained glass and the astonishing Shrine of the Three Kings.

Back on board Bellejour, we were all invited up on to the sundeck for a complimentary sundowner cocktail. Within minutes, the deck was chocka with thirsty guests – and who could blame them? It was early evening, a bit cooler (a balmy 25 degrees) and, as the name of the cocktail dictates, the sun was going down.

Captain Petter had timed our departure perfectly, so the Dom’s silhouette was backed by the most wonderful marmalade-coloured sky – some of which was visible filtering through the Germanic openwork of the spires.

We all raised a glass with a hearty prost and delighted in the slight breeze caused by the ship’s motion. A proper perfect moment.

Experience it for yourself

Many of our Rhine river cruises on MS Serenade 1 (Bellejour’s sister ship) include Cologne. For 2019 and 2020, Bellejour will sail the Danube.

Listening to live music in America’s Deep South

By Jayne White

A musician plays a banjo - discover the Deep South's musical heritage on TItan's Southern Sights and Sounds tour

Nashville had been on my bucket list for so many reasons, but music was the top one. I love country music but Nashville offers so much more – the music scene is incredibly diverse and did not disappoint. I love the honky-tonks on world-famous ‘Lower Broadway’ – noisy and busy, but so exciting.

My perfect moment was during our visit to Studio B – the ‘home of 1,000 hits’. The lights went down in the studio and they played an original recording of Elvis Presley speaking and singing during a Studio B session.

Music is the very heart of Nashville and it stole mine.

Experience it for yourself

Discover the Deep South’s rich cultural heritage on ‘Southern Sights and Sounds’ and ‘Journey on the Mighty Mississippi’, both of which include entry to Studio B in Nashville.

Stillness and silence on New Zealand’s Doubtful Sound

By Cassie Stickland, Product Manager

Panoramic aerial view of Mount Maunganui and Tauranga, North Island, New Zealand

We slowly cruised into one of the most beautiful and remote parts of Doubtful Sound. We were taken up on to the top deck, where the stunning surrounds took my breath away. This was truly a part of the world so far from civilisation that it was almost completely unreachable.

The engine was turned off and there was pure, uninterrupted, heavenly silence. It felt so peaceful and I completely lost myself in the moment. Breathing in the cold, fresh air I stared at the cloud-covered hills surrounding our small sanctuary. The waters of the sound were sparkling and so, I felt, was my soul.

This was a simple few minutes of silence, but it was so impactful and moving that I find myself drifting away back to that moment and those feelings often.

Experience it for yourself

Embark Fiordland Navigator for an overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound, one of New Zealand’s most scenic spots. It’s included on selected departures of ‘Great New Zealand Discovery’.

Catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights

By Alastair Brent

The Northern Lights above a snowy landscape

“The Aurora is a fickle mistress”, says my friend from Tromsø. “She will come out when she’s good and ready”.

I’d pinned a lot of the success of my Hurtigruten cruise on seeing the Northern Lights. A little foolish really, given that it’s a natural phenomenon and thus impossible to guarantee. From Bergen to Tromsø, conditions were great – no moon, no clouds, pitch-black sky – but the lights weren’t there. Some lovely stars, but no star of the show.

In Tromsø, we took a dog-sledging excursion out on a hillside – and it was here that the lights appeared. They started as a dim green arc across the sky following the curvature of the heavens, and then they began to mutate.

Within minutes an enormous, swirling, pulsing cloud of green was leaving me and my fellow sledders utterly silent and awe-struck. Occasionally, a new shape would appear and we’d gasp and cheer in unison.

And then, as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone without a trace. The sky was once again dark, and the stars were left doing their best to play second fiddle. The display left me with indelible memories and a hunger to see them again and again. Beware, once you get a taste of the lights, they are wonderfully addictive!

Experience it for yourself

Our ‘Norway Adventure’ cruise is a 34-stop voyage. Sail from Bergen to Kirkenes and back again, admiring Norway’s jagged coastline and dramatic fjords and keeping watch for the Northern Lights.

Image of blog author Laura Weeden

Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.

Laura | About the author

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