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Gerry Fox’s Top Bridge Tips

Gerry Fox, the coordinator of bridge activities for Oceania Cruises, is a bridge expert and has taught the game full-time for more than 40 years. He is an ACBL Diamond Life Master and the author of several books on the subject. Below, Gerry shares his expert insight on the game.
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT MINOR SUITS
Majors are more important than minors. This is absolutely true in selecting a final contract; that is, during the captaincy phase of the auction. But, it is patently false when describing what your hand looks like. During description, all four suits are equal.
When answering 1C, it is better to skip over the diamonds to bid a major suit first. Not only does this violate descriptive integrity, it prevents the opener from drawing proper inferences. It is a short-cut to majors with no concern for showing the correct hand pattern. Moreover, it creates rebid problems for the opener that are easily avoided by bidding one-over-one. For example, suppose you hold  xx  KQJx  xx  AQxxx; if you open 1C, consider the situation when your partner responds either 1D, when it’s so easy to rebid 1H, or alternatively 1S, when it is hard to bid the hearts, since 2H would promise extra strength.
The 1C opener might have only a 3-card suit. True enough, but only in about 35% of all cases; 65% of time, the opener will hold four or more club cards. Why assume the worst, when the normal is more likely?
If you have to open a 3-card minor, choose the better one. Unfortunately, this creates as many problems for the diamond suit as now exist for the clubs. Most experts today agree that the only time to open a 3-card diamond suit is with two 4-card majors and just two clubs. This occurs on fewer than 4% of all diamond openers.
If you respond in a minor, you might “lose” a major-suit fit. This is just nonsense. We have so many conventional bids and balancing bids to cover these situations that you lose the suit only when the hand truly belongs to the opponents.
Stay tuned for more bridge tips on our blog and join Oceania Cruises on a bridge cruise in 2016!

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Episode 120 – Liberty of the Seas Listener Cruise Review

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Source: Royal Caribbean

Vote For Windstar For Best Cruise Line

Help us win USA Today’s Top 10 Readers’ Choice Awards. We have been nominated for two categories, Best Ocean Cruise Line and Best Boutique Cruise Line. Please help us by going to USA Today’s website and voting for us. Click the button below to go to USA Today’s website  and vote for Windstar.

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Source: Windstar

Episode 126 – Allure of the Seas Listener Cruise Review

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Source: Royal Caribbean

Episode 125 – Top 5: Royal Caribbean desserts

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Source: Royal Caribbean

Chef Kelly's Aquavit-Cured Salmon with Red Peppercorns

The tradition of curing salmon is an art form in the Baltic. This particular recipe is simple and easy to do at home. Given the price of gravlax, it can save you enough money to buy an extra bottle of Champagne to celebrate this holiday season with family and friends! 
SERVES 2 TO 4
INGREDIENTS
½ cup sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed red peppercorns
½ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 pound salmon fillet, boned and trimmed
2 tablespoons aquavit
DIRECTIONS:
Mix together the salt, peppercorns, sugar and dill. Sprinkle half of the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap three times the size of the salmon. Sprinkle the salmon with aquavit.
Place the salmon, skin side down, on the curing mixture. Then cover the fish with the rest of the curing mixture. Wrap the fish tightly in the plastic wrap and place it on a plate. Cover with another plate, weighed down with 2 to 3 cans or bottles. Set the plate in the refrigerator. Turn the fish every 12 hours, draining off any brine that forms.
Depending on the thickness of the fish, it will be ready in 24 to 48 hours, although you can let it cure for up to 3 to 4 days. Unwrap the fish when you are ready to serve it and gently rinse off the cure.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
To make your dish even more festive, serve with pumpernickel bread cut into holiday shapes using cookie cutters (snowflakes, gingerbread men, candy canes, etc.). You may also serve with sweet mustard on the side.

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

5 Most Romantic Islands in the World (and where to stay)

Are you ready to get away from it all? Whether celebrating a special occasion, or seeking solace from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there’s no better place to say ‘I love you’ to your special someone than at an exclusive oasis surrounded by the world’s most pristine water and stunning landscape. Couples count down the days of awakening in paradise to the view of turquoise colored waves and softened white sandy beaches. With hundreds of hotels vying for visitors’ attention, selecting the most suitable island accommodations can often seem like a daunting task. Windstar Cruises – a fleet of small luxury cruise ships – has scoured international waters to identify five of the world’s most romantic islands and the top bungalows, resorts, and overnight accommodations where starry-eyed travelers can rest their heads.
1. Bora Bora
The white sandy beaches and blueish green waters make this French Polynesian island the ultimate destination for hopeless romantics. This secluded island is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef, creating an open invitation for adventurous couples to snorkel on top or dive deep to view a variety of sharks, rays, and other unique fish species. Though mainly sought after for its aqua-centric landscape, couples will find unexpected beauty in breathtaking mountainous views atop the remnants of the island’s now extinct volcano, Mount Otemanu.
Where To Stay: Among the most popular overnight accommodations are the over-the-water bungalows, scattered throughout the island’s many beaches. Perhaps the best locale to get a traditional Polynesian experience, while basking in the views of both land and sea, is Le Méridien Bora Bora. Romantics from around the world have laid claim at these bungalows resort, ideally situated over the crystal-clear lagoon full of turtles and tropical fish. Conveniently, guests sailing on Windstar’s Wind Spirit cruises can add an overnight bungalow package to their Tahiti cruise, experiencing the unforgettable romance of both a sailing yacht and an overwater bungalow on one enchanting trip.
2. Santorini
This Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea is a geological caldera following a volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island. This historic natural occurrence set the scene for one of the world’s most romantic island retreats. The rugged landscape and picturesque villages provide the perfect setting to warm up to the one you love and gaze at the beauty of a gold sunset falling behind majestic blue waters.   Island goers can complement their beach getaway by walking the land of one of many flourishing vineyards, while sipping a white Greek wine grape indigenous to the island of Santorini.
Where To Stay: Situated conveniently near the airport and Fira, the island’s main town, Andronis Luxury Suites boasts 25 romantic luxury suites cascading down the side of this Greek island, near the cliff edge of Oia Village. The property’s stunning architecture, multi-level balconies, and serene ambiance make this award-winning haven irresistible to couples looking to rekindle their passion. Whether enjoying a couples massage amid flowing waters of a cave interior, or scooping up a stylish dress by a local designer, visitors will leave without questioning why this is one of the most sought-after Mediterranean escapes. Or take your love story to a new level aboard a Windstar Cruises yacht, voted the most romantic cruise line. See the beauty of Santorini as part of a Windstar Gems of the Aegean or Greek Isles & Turkish Delights cruise. It’s so easy to leave your luggage in your stateroom and spend the entire day exploring the decadent scenery of this island before returning to the comfort and privacy of your waiting yacht.
3. Saint Barthélemy
Known for its white sandy beaches, designer shops, and candlelit restaurants, this French-speaking chic Caribbean island (commonly referred to as St. Bart’s) is the embodiment of romance. The capital of Saint Barthélemy, Gustavia, sits on a yacht-filled harbor surrounded by gingerbread cottages and is often visited the world’s most renowned celebrities. Couples can rest on shore and enjoy the sites and sounds of kite surfers flying by, or nuzzle up on a catamaran while sailing past the nearby beaches and sipping from the island’s signature ti punch.
Where To Stay: Couples can truly enjoy the pristine waters surrounding St. Bart’s as viewed from the balcony of a suite aboard Windstar Cruises’ San Juan & The Virgin Islands cruise. The 7-day excursion – kicking off from its newly added U.S. port in San Juan – cruises around both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, making its second stop along the shoreline of Gustavia. Among the most romantic of the shore excursions available to Windstar guests is the Sailing Catamaran Adventure, which whisks couples away on a sailing and snorkeling experience along the beautiful west coast of the island to the Marine Park at Colombier Bay. For those that prefer to stay on land, couples can also enjoy an intimate tour highlighting the island’s history and most popular tourist spots.
4. Maldives
Known for its beaches, blue lagoons, and extensive reefs, the Maldives is a romantic tropical oasis situated southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. The pearl string like islands of the Maldives are protected by a reef structure, providing an endless selection of activities for visitors, alongside an awe-inspiring landscape that is perfectly tailored for loving couples looking to escape the daily grind. For those looking to explore the island, the capital, Malé, makes use of its popular reef by housing a renowned fish market and award winning restaurants for both novice and seasoned foodies alike.
Where To Stay: Situated in the central southern part of North Male’ Atoll, the exclusive property of Baros Maldives is easy to reach by travelers, yet provides the feeling of being so far removed from the world. Couples can retreat to this secluded resort’s 45 Beachside and 30 Water Villas to bask in the sun or lay under the stars atop a private veranda or sun deck. As a special perk, couples can enjoy a romantic voyage on Nooma, a traditional handcrafted Maldivian sailing dhoni.
5. Fiji
Located in the waters of the South Pacific, Fiji is a household name among romantics, and its reputation for luxurious private locales doesn’t disappoint. The island’s white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and unspoiled landscape offer an ideal backdrop for the most romantic of all getaways. Rounding out the incredible views that couples are sure to appreciate is the relaxed, easy-going and friendly culture that the island locals exude. Perhaps that is why they are coined “some of the happiest people on Earth.”
Where To Stay: Boasting an array of world class five-star resorts and hotels, it might be tough for couples to choose the right one for them. Though, the Yasawa Island Resort & Spa certainly lives up to its “heavenly” namesake. While guests aren’t basking in the luxury of the resort’s 18 beachfront bungalows, they are invited to visit one of 10 private beaches to partake in a romantic picnic or snorkel and dive throughout the famous Blue Lagoon. For couples looking for ultimate privacy, the resort allows guests to reserve their own private beach for the day.
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Source: Windstar

Episode 127 – Shore excursions: Nassau

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Source: Royal Caribbean

Savor Exquisite Wines with New OLife Choice

Calling all wine connoisseurs – the OLife has just become even better for you. Recently announced, our new and exciting OLife Choice* amenity package includes free unlimited Internet, plus your choice of either free shore excursions, a free House Select beverage package or free shipboard credit. The House Select beverage package includes unlimited Champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner.
Below is just a taste of the selection of excellent wines available with our House Select beverage package.
Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño | Rias Baixas, Spain
All wines produced by Fillaboa are made from the Albariño grape variety, a thick-skinned grape known for its rich variety of aromas – 16 different aromas have been scientifically recognized.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES:  Contains beautiful aromas of orange blossoms, green apples, freshly-cut pineapple and stone fruit. The Fillaboa Albariño is a crystalline, straw-colored yellow in appearance. Soft on the palate, this wine exhibits a well-balanced flavor profile that enhances its freshness and complexity.
PAIR WITH: Seafood, Asian fare or even salsa and chips. Enjoy it on its own as an apéritif, with tapas or with full-course meals of veal, chicken, ham, medium-bodied cheeses and an array of vegetable dishes.
Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon | Sonoma, California
Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented in stainless steel and aged for 16 months in a combination of French and American oak.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES:  This California red offers compelling cherry, plum, cassis, black pepper, cedar, clove and cocoa character with a full body, silky texture, velvety tannins and a long, elegant finish.
PAIR WITH: Beef steak, Lamb chops
Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port  
Vintage port runs like a continuous thread through most of Fonseca’s history. Since the emergence of vintage port as a great classic wine in the first half of the 19th century, Fonseca has been one of its most admired and consistent producers. The release of the legendary 1840, the first vintage port sold under the Fonseca name, marked the start of a steady stream of magnificent vintages which continues to this day.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES:  Fine deep color with brick-red edge. Good depth of nose; sweet and harmonious, some spirit on the nose with rich, soft touches of dark chocolate and cherry (cherry tomato). An elegant wine with fine structure and exciting hints of spice, mint and very focused fruit.
PAIR WITH: Chocolate fondant, caramelized custard, cheese
Cheers to living the OLife in 2016!
*See Terms & Conditions for complete details.
Source: Oceania Cruise Line

CHEF KELLY’S TROPICAL BEACH CEVICHE

Fresh, flavorful ceviche tends to conjure the Caribbean and other sun-drenched tropical climates – rightly so, because the seafood is actually “cooked” in the acid of citrus fruit. Ceviche is often the perfect balance of hot and sweet, and this is a ceviche I created when sailing in the British Virgin Islands many years ago. Be sure that your seafood is very fresh, and always assemble this dish just before serving. You can find citrus-infused salts in most gourmet cooking shops and online.
Ingredients
8 ounces sea scallops, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined and halved lengthwise
8 ounces sushi grade halibut or similar white fish
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 fresh serrano chili, stemmed, seeded and finely sliced into thin rings
1 cup English cucumber, seeded and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 cup jicama, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
¼ cup finely diced red onion
1 mango, peeled and brunoise (¼-inch diced)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds
18 cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for garnish
Citrus-infused salt, for garnish
Serves 6
Directions
Place the scallops, shrimp and halibut in a 13-by-9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Pour the grapefruit and lime juice over the seafood. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes until “cooked.” The seafood will change from translucent to opaque.
Transfer the seafood and juice to a medium bowl. Add the chili, cucumber, jicama, onion, mango, pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Stir to combine. Serve in a raised glass, such as a martini glass, garnished with lime wedges and a sprinkle of citrus-infused salt.
Enjoy a taste of the Caribbean until you travel there again!
Source: Oceania Cruise Line