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Itinerary for 2014 MasterChef Caribbean cruise revealed

- July 25th, 2014
MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy Fox)

MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy Fox)

The itinerary for the week-long MasterChef cruise of the Caribbean has been revealed, and it includes plenty of opportunities to interact with fan favourite contestants like Christina Ha and Alexander Weiss, as well as MasterChef judge Graham Elliot.

The seven-day voyage will sail from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Nov. 8, 2014 and Elliot, plus past winners Ha and Luca Manfe, as well as MasterChef Junior victor Weiss, will be aboard. The winner of the current season of FOX’s hit cooking competition, to be revealed on Sept. 15, will also take part in the cruise.

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Lucas Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Luca Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

The luxurious Holland America MS Westerdam will be the vessel for the cruise, which will stop at several ports of call, including Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The ship will return to Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 15.

It has now been revealed that guests can look forward to on-board programming that will include Mystery Box challenges, cocktail parties, meet and greets, and demonstrations. Events include:

  • Christine Ha’s Mac-n-Cheese at Sea Competition – Ha will judge the first-ever Mac-n-Cheese at Sea competition where guests will compete to create their best version of the classic dish.
  • Blind Taste Test with Graham Elliot – A few willing audience members will have the opportunity to test their taste buds with a challenge led by Elliot.
  • Tag Team Sushi – Get a front-row seat to the famous Sushi Tag Team Challenge featuring the MasterChef Stars.
  • Master the Macaroon with Alexander – Learn to master Weiss’ signature dessert.
  • Designer Pasta – Learn how to make authentic, homemade pasta with a demonstration from Manfe.
  • Craft Cocktails – Create craft cocktails with the MasterChef season 5 winner.

“MasterChef fans and food lovers alike are in for an incredible journey with hours of original live programming that both entertains and instructs,” said Vivi Zigler, president of MasterChef’s production company, Shine America, in a statement. “Guests will get to live the MasterChef experience with some of the most skilled and beloved talent from the series, while also honing their own culinary skills.”

Fares for the cruise start at $1,442 per person. For more information or to book your ticket on the MasterChef cruise, visit masterchefcruise.com.

Canadians regret they don’t travel more in summer: Poll

- June 20th, 2014
(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Canadians’ biggest summertime regret is that they don’t travel more, according to a new poll from Travelocity.ca.

In a survey of more than 1,500 Canadians, 32% of us said we wanted to travel more this summer having missed out on the opportunity to do so last year. Eighty-three per cent of Canadians said they didn’t travel on long weekends last summer, while 26% said they couldn’t get out of town to visit friends or family and 35% couldn’t take a week or more off work.

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“After a particularly harsh winter, we want Canadians to start planning their summer travel now,” Stuart Morris, general manager of Travelocity.ca, said in a statement. “The data clearly shows how quickly summer can slip away and that Canadians regret not making the most of our fleeting summer season.”

Fifty-six per cent of those surveyed said money was just too tight to travel, while 16% said they couldn’t take the time off work.

Find more info, plus Travelocity’s regional breakdown, on the graphic below.

Where to swim this summer: Record number of Canadian beaches receive Blue Flag certification

- May 28th, 2014
Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba. (QMI Agency files)

Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba. (QMI Agency files)

The prestigious Blue Flag program is celebrating its 10th year with a record number of Canadian beaches and marinas being awarded eco-certification this summer.

Blue Flag is a globally recognized program that certifies beaches based on four categories: water quality, environmental management, environmental education, and safety and services.

“No matter where you go, when you see a Blue Flag flying, you know you are at one of the best beaches or marinas in the world – one that is clean, has excellent facilities, and meets high safety and environmental standards,” Brett Tryon, Blue Flag Canada Program Manager, said in a statement.

Canatara Park, Sarnia. (QMI Agency files)

Canatara Park, Sarnia. (QMI Agency files)

Canada’s first Blue Flags were flown in 2005 at four Toronto beaches. This summer, 24 beaches and four marinas across Canada, including newcomers Winnipeg Beach in Manitoba and Ontario beaches Canatara Park in Sarnia and Waubuno Beach in Parry Sound, are being awarded Blue Flags.

“Canada is known for its vast and beautiful shorelines,” Tryon said. “As more communities receive the Blue Flag, it is a testament to their desire and hard work to improve the health of our watersheds and coastal habitats and protect them for future generations.”

So which beaches should you plan to visit this summer? Find the 24 beaches and four marinas that received Blue Flag certification for summer 2014 on the map below.

Manitoba:
· West Grand Beach (Grand Beach Provincial Park)
· Winnipeg Beach (Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park)

Nova Scotia:
· Birch Cove Beach (Dartmouth)
· Halifax Waterfront (Halifax)

Ontario:
· Bayfield Main Beach and Bluewater Marina (Municipality of Bluewater)
· Bluffer’s Park Beach, Centre Island Beach, Cherry Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Kew-Balmy Beach, Ward’s Island Beach and Woodbine Beach (Toronto)
· Canatara Park Beach (Sarnia)
· Grand Bend Beach, Grand Bend Marina and Port Franks Marina (Municipality of Lambton Shores)
· Port Stanley Main Beach (Municipality of Central Elgin)
· Sauble Beach (Town of South Bruce Peninsula)
· Station Beach (Kincardine)
· Wasaga Beach areas 1, 2 and 5 (Wasaga Beach Provincial Park)
· Waubuno Beach (Parry Sound)

Quebec:
· Plage de l’Est, Plage de l’Ouest, and Plage des Cantons (Ville de Magog)

The Blue Flag award is administered in Canada by Environmental Defence and is managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

Tour New Zealand like Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince George

- April 8th, 2014
Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George disembark from their plane after arriving in Wellington April 7, 2014. The Prince and his wife Kate are undertaking a 19-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia with their son George.  REUTERS/Phil Noble

Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George disembark from their plane after arriving in Wellington April 7, 2014. The Prince and his wife Kate are undertaking a 19-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia with their son George. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Prince William, his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and baby son Prince George have arrived in New Zealand for a three week tour of the country and neighbouring Australia. It’s the first time in New Zealand for Duchess Kate and Prince George and is the royal trio’s first official tour as a new family.

During the New Zealand leg of the trip, the royal family will take in three North Island and three South Island regions. Prince William and Duchess Kate will visit a local vineyard for a wine tasting, meet with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and take a jet boat ride on the famed Shotover River (see photos of their jet boat ride here), as well as attend more formal ceremonies and functions.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, holds her son Prince George after disembarking their plane with her husband Britain's Prince William in Wellington April 7, 2014. The Prince and his wife Kate are undertaking a 19-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia with their son George. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, holds her son Prince George after disembarking their plane with her husband Britain’s Prince William in Wellington April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Britain's Prince William (centre 2nd L-with sunglasses) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (centre 2nd R-in sunglasses), take a ride on the "Shotover Jet" in the New Zealand city of Queenstown on April 13, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / Fiona Goodall

Britain’s Prince William (centre 2nd L-with sunglasses) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (centre 2nd R-in sunglasses), take a ride on the “Shotover Jet” in the New Zealand city of Queenstown on April 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Fiona Goodall

Travellers who want to experience the places and activities the Duke and Duchess will over the next nine days can find inspiration for their own travels in a new royal tour-themed itinerary from Tourism New Zealand.

The suggested itinerary starts in the “City of Sails,” Auckland. Here, guests can take a wine trail or forest walk before trying the Explore: America’s Cup Sailing Experience. Prince William and Kate will square off on the Auckland harbour for their own America’s Cup race during their New Zealand tour.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at the Viaduct Basin to sail with Team New Zealand. (WENN.com)

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland to sail with Team New Zealand. (WENN.com)

From Auckland, head to Hobbiton, a picturesque village of 44 Hobbit hole homes and a top filming location for Peter Jackson and his The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. After your tour, stop for a mug of sobering thought ale at the Green Dragon Inn.

Experience Maori culture like Prince William and Duchess Kate did upon arriving in New Zealand in Hamilton and Rotorua. Enjoy an afternoon at the geothermal and boiling mud pools and witness first-hand a traditional Maori feast and cultural performance at the Mitai Maori Village.

Prince William (C) and his wife Catherine (L) meet a Maori warrior during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Wellington on April 7, 2014.  Britain's Prince William, his wife Kate and their son Prince George are on a three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.    AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE

Prince William and his wife Catherine meet a Maori warrior during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Wellington on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE

Carry on to Wellington where you can unleash your inner foodie at some of New Zealand’s top restaurants on the Zest Food Tour, followed by a visit to the Zealandia eco sanctuary to see some of the country’s most unique birds and animals in the wild.

Britain's Prince William (R) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (C), walk with New Zealand film maker Peter Jackson (L) around the Omaka Aviation Museum in the New Zealand city of Blenheim on April 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / TIM CUFF

Britain’s Prince William (R) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (C), walk with New Zealand film maker Peter Jackson (L) around the Omaka Aviation Museum in the New Zealand city of Blenheim on April 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / TIM CUFF

Plan to continue your visit to this region by taking the ferry from Wellington across the Marlborough Sounds to Picton, then Blenheim. Here, Prince William and Duchess Kate will be given a tour of Peter Jackson’s private World War I aircraft collection at the Omaka Aviation Heritage centre by the director himself (see photos of their tour with Jackson here).

To discover more of Tourism New Zealand’s suggested stops for a royal-inspired tour of the country, visit newzealand.com.

Set sail with MasterChef on a cruise of the Caribbean

- April 7th, 2014
MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy Fox)

MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy FOX)

MasterChef Canada is back on television tonight with the six remaining Canadian home chefs ready to uncover their Mystery Boxes and cook to stay alive for a $100,000 prize.

Fans of the cooking competition and the equally-popular U.S. version, which features Michelin-starred chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot as judges, will want to beat the pressure test and book tickets now for the first ever MasterChef cruise of the Caribbean.

Elliot and past U.S. winners Christine Ha and Lucas Manfe, plus the very first MasterChef Junior winner Alexander Weiss, will be aboard for the cruise, which will set sail for a week-long voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Nov. 8, 2014.

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Lucas Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Lucas Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

Sailing on the luxury Holland America MS Westerdam ship, guests have the chance to attend cooking demonstrations on deck, take part in contests and meet their favourite MasterChef winners. Plenty of dining engagements are also on the itinerary, as is the chance to disembark and explore one of the ship’s many Caribbean ports of call, from Turks and Caicos to Puerto Rico to the Bahamas.

“The MasterChef Cruise gives fans an incredibly unique opportunity to have an immersive experience with one of the best chefs in the world, Graham Elliot, and some of the most talented and beloved winners of the MasterChef franchise, Christine, Luca and Alexander, while travelling through one of the most beautiful parts of the world,” said Vivi Zigler, president of MasterChef’s production company, Shine America.

The ship returns to port in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 15, 2014. For more information or to book your ticket on the MasterChef cruise, visit masterchefcruise.com.