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Cynthia Czarnik

Scottsdale, Arizona Travel Agent

One cruise, two continents, eight countries

One of my favorite trips was an itinerary I planned that visited eight countries in about three weeks. I wanted to create a group trip that would excite people and stretch the limits of what they thought possible. A cruise makes this easy, but I wanted to do more. This journey started with a Virtuoso Voyages cruise from Dubai to Kenya, stopping at ports in the Middle East, India, and Africa, including Oman, Mumbai, Seychelles, and the Maldives. It was an amazing itinerary, and because it ended in Kenya, I added on two African adventures: a tented safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and gorilla trekking in Rwanda, and I pulled it together with great pricing. 

I proposed the trip to a diverse group of clients who I thought would enjoy it. Some had never cruised before; others had never considered going on a safari or getting off the beaten track on a trip like this. Most said they would never have considered doing something as daring as this, but when I presented it, suddenly it seemed possible.  

We sailed on Silversea’s Silver Cloud, a small ship with less than 300 passengers. The food and service are top-notch and we had wonderful tours in each destination with iconic experiences such as tea at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.  It was unusual to be exposed to so many different cultures in such a short time. One of the highlights for me was the chance to visit the Seychelles and Maldives. Both are uniquely beautiful but really remote and difficult to reach, much less on a single trip.  

Another highlight was our post-cruise experiences in Africa. After the cruise, we headed to the Maasai Mara to catch the end of the great migration. We stayed at a lodge with six luxury tents and had a private ranger and tracker take us out by Jeep each day. In addition to the huge herds of wildebeests and other animals, we saw a zebra giving birth and went to a Maasai village to learn about their culture.

From there, we took a bush plane to Rwanda for two days of gorilla trekking. The hiking was challenging but well worth the effort. Each day we spent about an hour with a gorilla family. They are totally used to humans and our ranger taught us to make the signs and sounds to let them know everything is okay. One gorilla came up and touched me and many of them look right into your eyes. The ranger knew them as individuals and at one point, when a teenager looked like he was going to get aggressive, the ranger stood in front of us to send the message to calm down. 

Of all the places we visited on that trip, Rwanda had the most impact. The people are still recovering from the genocide and they work from morning to night farming every tiny bit of ground. They live in mud huts with no electricity and fetch their water from the river, but they looked healthy and content. It was eye-opening to see that you could live so simply and be genuinely happy. 

I loved that we were able to fit so much into such a short amount of time. The best thing about this trip for me was helping my clients actualize things they had barely dreamt possible and see places they never imagined they could see.

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