Reporting from the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

By David Dickstein  |  2019-10-17

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos makes opening remarks in the Yucatan. Photo by David Dickstein

MERIDA, MEXICO (MPG) – They held a World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates last month in Mexico and a softball game broke out.

If the above phrasing sounds familiar, Rodney Dangerfield liked to joke, “I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.” After attending what was billed as a forum to “address global issues with a view to encourage and support peace and human well-being in the world,” only to walk away disappointed, I knew that by borrowing from the late comedian, I’d have the perfect, albeit sad introductory line.

The batters of my metaphorical softball game were the Nobel Peace Prize winners whose three days in the Yucatan Peninsula included sit-downs with the press. The credentialed journalists were the pitchers, and by throwing mainly softball questions, the mostly Mexico-based contingent squandered the rare opportunity of asking tough and/or insightful questions to the distinguished do-gooders. In all, 30 Nobel Peace Prize laureates attended the event, representing themselves or winning organizations. The softball field, just to close out the sports-related figure of speech, was next to the working press room inside a world-class convention center in Merida, capital of the state of Yucatan.

Poor organization and logistics made covering the event a living hell, but of greater importance to you readers is how the Nobel Peace Prize winners responded to the questions that didn’t kowtow to the people of honor, few and far between as they were. Most journalists asked pandering softball questions like this one to Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of revered Dr. Martin Luther King: “As a privileged white woman who can’t relate to the struggles of people of color, what can those like me do to help?” Knowing the organization, that eye-roller will probably get that woman a permanent invitation to all future World Summits. That would be a travesty with the white journalist already feeling so privileged and all.

Then a real question from the press was asked. My first of two called on MLK’s daughter to substantiate claims she made earlier at the World Summit about the leader of the Free World: “You have repeatedly called President Trump a racist. Can you give one example of something racist he has said or done?” King fumbled with her response, often looking to her handlers for help.

“Um, I mean there’s so much stuff that, um, that one can say,” King said. “He’s talked about sh*thole nations, the way he’s spoken about Mexicans – there’s a host of things I see that come across as if he does not like certain groups of people.”

So far I hadn’t heard a specific example of Trump being a racist, and as King continued with her response, she seemed to go further astray.

“Anyone who does not agree with him or stands up to him almost becomes enemy No. 1,” she said. “He just attacks, and it’s not always driven by race – it’s driven by Trump. That’s the bottom line. He’s a different kind of person than what you’d call your typical racist because … look at the way he spoke about Senator [John] McCain. Who does that? The army vet, the reporter, it’s on and on and on and on.”

King is a delightful woman who I had the pleasure of sitting next to on the plane to Mexico City. And what an honor and thrill it was when my offer of my blanket was warmly accepted when she felt a chill halfway there. All that aside, I would be remiss as a journalist if I didn’t say that my question didn’t continue to trip King up. She seemed to ramble and contradict herself.

“Out of his mouth I have heard him denounce white supremacy. I’ve heard that,” King said. “Whether or not he denounces it in a way that pushes away those who support him is another discussion. Those are the examples I have. It’s hard for somebody to believe he’s not racist. I can say that just because …. There are some things he’s done policy-wise that’s helped to uplift some of the black community. The First Step Act in terms of prison reform …. Racism is prejudice plus power. Racism is when you think an entire group of people is inferior to you or your peer group. I don’t know if anyone has examined that. Does President Trump feel that all blacks or Mexicans are inferior as a group? That’s a question we have to ask and determine.”

My second question for King, a quasi-lighthearted one, made the civil rights activist laugh out loud, which, all professionalism aside, was pretty cool. I asked, “When the family sits down for Christmas dinner, what’s the conversation like with Cousin Alveda at the table?” Alveda Celeste King, for those who don’t watch Fox News, is a civil rights activist, former Georgia congresswoman and a vocal supporter of the President. The 68-year-old niece of MLK has defended Trump on many occasions, including on national TV when she said, “Racism is just a word that’s being bandied and thrown about and thrown at the president, in my opinion, unjustly. President Trump is not a racist.”

After a good laugh over a question her PR person said had never been asked before, Bernice King gave a thorough, thoughtful response:

“Because our family has such strong unconditional love for each other we do not let those kinds of things tear us apart as a family,” she said. “We have strong, vehement disagreements about how President Trump conducts himself. She is a Christian and she is also a minister, but at the end of the day she does what she does. I say what I need to say, she says what she needs to say.”

King then spoke much like the minister she is and her father was: “One thing I’ve learned about different opinions and ideologies is if you sit down and listen long enough and shut down your right to be right and allow yourself to hear what a person is saying, you might discover a bit of truth. That’s how my father developed his philosophy of non-violence. He was able to read and study a lot of different philosophers and theologians. Even those he didn’t agree with. So, if we’re going to create a more humane world, we have to learn to do that. Alveda has taught me because she’s so strong in what she feels and believes. We had a discussion over Labor Day weekend, and I sat and really listened to some of the things she was saying, and as I thought about them holistically there was some truth in that, and I had to acknowledge that. We have a tendency with people we disagree with to disagree with them fully. If there’s something specifically that I don’t like that is a part of your ideological system I shut you all the way down. I discount that there may be something in your makeup that is very beautiful, very powerful and has truth to it. But we don’t allow ourselves to open up to people unless they think mostly like us. And if we continue to do that then we’re going to have friction and tension and conflict.”

Attending his ninth World Summit was Frederik Willem de Klerk, former president of South Africa and a 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner with Nelson Mandela for their role in ending Apartheid. The political prisoner he freed and would later succeed him as the country’s leader. De Klerk’s response to a question on migration was refreshing in that he was the only laureate to say that nations cannot open the floodgates for immigrants.

“Migration is not only a problem between the USA and Mexico,” de Klerk said. “Look at the hundreds of thousands of people crossing Africa into Europe to escape from dangerous situations, from hunger and joblessness, and the problems the European countries have in assimilating these migrants. Migration is a problem around the world and it’s going to become a bigger problem. In the case of Europe, the population is shrinking, and just to keep the economy at the level where it is they will have to take in migrants. But I have sympathy for any country that says, ‘We can’t take anybody who wants to come into the country. We have to have an immigration policy that also puts importance on the interests of our country. We need migrants with specific skills.’ So, immigration policy should strike a balance between humaneness and protecting the interests of the country.”

Participating in her sixth World Summit was Rigoberta Menchu Tum, a Guatemalan Indian who was awarded the Peace Prize in 1992 for her work championing rights of indigenous peoples and reconciliation between ethnic groups. The morning of her so-called press conference, during which she and her guest panelists gobbled up all but the last few minutes for questions, Tum was on a different panel on migration. She believes that no one flees their country unless they’re desperate, and their sole objective is to live where they are safe. Assuming that’s true, I asked Tum why the caravans originating in Honduras and El Salvador make the long and dangerous journey to the United States instead of seeking asylum in the first safe country they reach, which so happens to be her homeland of Guatemala? “How open are the arms of your country, or is your nation happy when the refugees continue on to Mexico to ultimately be handled by the USA?” Her response, through an interpreter, was so off the mark, I may as well have asked if she likes meatloaf on Tuesdays. Even her panelist friend told me she completely dodged the question. Clearly, Tum is riding the Peace Prize train without practicing what she preaches. Hypocrisy reared its ugly head several times during her abbreviated Q&A; at the start she urged the media to ask tough questions.

A fixture at these near-annual events is Lech Walesa, who won the Peace Prize in 1983 for founding Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement that played a key role in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. My question for the former Polish president, a pro-capitalist, was whether he would have been more successful developing his country as “The America of the East,” as he declared in 1991, with a businessman in the White House, Trump, than an actor-turned-politician, Ronald Reagan. Walesa said that it probably wouldn’t have mattered who was the U.S. president at the time because the collapse of communism throughout Europe happened faster than anyone predicted.

“My strategy was Poland first, but then East and West Germany reunified and there was a snowball effect in other countries of the [Eastern] Bloc,” Walesa said. “The speed actually surprised President Reagan and myself, too.”

Asked about Trump’s chances to win a Peace Prize this December, the Polish activist danced the polka around the question, responding through an interpreter that while the world leader diagnoses situations in a correct way, the solutions he applies are wrong.

“He wants to move in a different direction than the whole world is heading,” said the man who won his Nobel Prize by doing just that. Walesa used Trump’s policy on protecting the nation’s southern border with Mexico as an example. “He says there are too many people coming into the United States. There should not be a wall, but money invested in Mexico to create jobs. And once this is done, this will level the disproportion between the countries.”

Trump’s mistake, Walesa said, is “forgetting that people behave like interconnected containers of water.” He elaborated. “There is a great disproportion in development in the world. It’s not Mexico’s fault of this disproportion. It’s the United States’ fault. We need to move the water from one container to another. We need to level the disproportion.”

Walesa didn’t sound like he’d put money on Trump winning a Peace Prize this year or any year. Despite efforts to keep the peace, namely making historic inroads with North Korea and in the Middle East, all without war breaking out, Trump seems to be on the same prizeless path as some past Republican presidents. Reagan engineered the end of the Cold War, and Richard Nixon, by normalizing relations between the U.S. and China, forced the Soviet Union to yield to pressure for detente with the United States.

The last GOP president to win the Peace Prize was Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Since then, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have been so honored in addition to Vice President Al Gore – all Democrats. This from an organization that as late as last month’s World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates said the selection committee has no political bias.

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The New Inductees

By Shelly Lembke  |  2019-10-17

2019 inductees from front row L-R: Steve Finch, Doug Hilton, Dr. Jim Champa, Don Martinez III, Tom Doherty and Jacquecar Robinson. Back row L-R: Mike Ondina and Robert “Pete” Reed. Not pictured are: Annie Klimecki-Roe, Chris Nyman, Bill Ferreirae, Billy Ferreirae and Tom Williams. Photo by Rick Sloan

RCAA Names New Hall of Fame Members

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Rancho Cordova Athletic Association hosted its 5th Annual Rancho Cordova Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on October 12, at City Hall. The sold-out event was hosted by celebrity emcee and Rancho Cordova native, Ken Rudulph, who wowed and wooed the crowd with personal anecdotes about the famous Lancers who were inducted that night.

This year’s inductees continue to expand the Rancho Cordova Sports Hall of Fame’s figural list of “Who’s Who” in the Rancho Cordova Sports Legacy. Current Vice-Mayor David Sander, Ph.D, opened the evening by emphasizing that the Rancho Cordova Athletic Association exists to continue this legacy by promoting youth sports in the City, “Where every kid gets to play.”

Individuals inducted this year: Dr. Jim Champa (Football & Wrestling), Tom Doherty (Coach), Bill Ferreirae (Heart of a Champion), Billy Ferreirae (Heart of a Champion), Steve Finch (Baseball), Doug Hinton (Baseball), Don Martinez III (Wrestling), Chris Nyman (Baseball), Mike Ondina (Baseball), Robert ‘Pete’ Reed (Coach), Jacquecar Robinson (Track/Body Building), Annie Klimecki-Roe (Swimming), Tom William (Football). Certainly not to be forgotten was the group induction of the entire 1985 Cordova High Lancer Football Team and Coach Max Miller, who became the first Sac-Joaquin Section team to nail down an unheard of 14-0 season.

The individual and group achievements of these coaches and student-athletes set records that still stand today, and their accomplishments are nothing short of stellar, with many going on to college and professional sports as athletes, team captains, leaders and coaches at all levels. Others became community leaders and impressive, influential professionals in education, law, medicine, fundraising, CEOs and other important positions that continue to touch lives and encourage lessons learned from sportsmanship.

The evening began with an adult cocktail hour that was paired with delectable appetizers prepared and artfully served by the Cordova High Culinary Academy students. Past inductees and local dignitaries were welcomed and recognized, as were the event’s sponsors, which were an impressive mix of individual, civic and corporate groups.

 

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Cordova High JROTC Instructor Flies with Blue Angels

By Daniel Thigpen, FCUSD  |  2019-10-17

Msgt. Phil Magreevy, Cordova High School instructor. Courtsy FCUSD

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Msgt. Phil Magreevy, who instructs Cordova High School’s Air Force JROTC, recently got the opportunity of a lifetime: to fly with the Blue Angels! 

Magreevy, a 20-year Air Force veteran, was nominated by a community member to take flight at the California Capital Airshow Oct 5-6. 

The instructor took several of his students so they could watch the flight from the ground. “As I closed that canopy up ... I was really thinking, ‘You guys are flying with me in spirit,’” he told students the next day during a class lesson in which he showed videos of his flight and explained the science behind aeronautics.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The California Capital Airshow (CCA), presented by Sacramento County in partnership with the City of Rancho Cordova, made good on its promise to bring a thrilling fourteenth annual airshow to the Sacramento region. The October 5 and 6 event drew its largest crowds to date with headliner U.S. Navy Blue Angels plus hours of entertainment on the ground and in the air. Family-friendly ticket pricing offered expanded opportunities for children to attend the show for free in order to experience its aviation and STEM activities first hand.

CCA’s free Friday night kick-off event, Blues & Brews, offered fans a meet and greet with their favorite performers. Proceeds from the first-ever brew fest, included as an optional part of the evening, will benefit the airshow’s scholarship program.

The action ramped up Saturday and Sunday with an extensive roster of world-class civilian and military acts. Team Oracle, the Aftershock Jet Fire Truck, Vicky Benzing Barnstorming and the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team kept audiences on the edge of their seats with heart-pounding speed and aerobatics, while a moving tribute featuring several warbird aircraft honored the 75thanniversary of D-Day, and collaborations with the California Air National Guard as well as Travis and Beale Air Force bases honored the every-day heroes serving in the United States military within the Sacramento region. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels closed out the show each day with their dynamic formation flying demonstration known for its unparalleled precision. 

Tens of thousands of spectators enjoyed over a hundred acres of ramp space that included miles of static aircraft displays and interactive STEM experiences. The show offered free admission for up to six children under the age of 15 with the purchase of one Adult General Admission ticket. In addition, over 4,000 tickets were donated to schools, youth organizations and veteran’s groups. A portion of sales will go toward supporting CCA’s scholarship programs and educational youth events as well as revenue-share programs for other non-profit organizations volunteering with the show. 

“We are so grateful to our volunteers and community partners who help us make this show happen every year” said Darcy Brewer, executive director, CCA. “While it’s a thrill to see the Blue Angels and other performers fly over two days, the greatest thrill for us is knowing that we have inspired young people to dream big and explore the world of aviation and STEM.” 

Planning is already underway for the 2020 California Capital Airshow. For more information about the airshow go to CaliforniaCapitalAirshow.com

 

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Turn Pale at Halloween’s Spooktacular!

By Patrick Larenas  |  2019-10-17

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – Dare to go on Sunday, October 20, and experience for free the most masterful musical compositions at the harrowing performance of Halloween Spooktacular!!!

Screaming and howling will not contain what looms nearby as the black night of Halloween approaches. If you quietly slip into the vicinity of a building marked with the letters – KP I n t e r n a t i o n a l M a r k e t – you might begin to feel pale and disturbed by the sounds coming forth.

Once you have wandered in, you will discover that, like you, an innumerable host of zombies are drawn to the same mesmerizing sounds. They are the sounds of cleverly crafted, obsessed composers who in their madness sacrificed hours and hours of their existence to contain their most frightening of horrors.

You’ll see that at the center of attention will be Symphony d’Oro performing, calling to revive all your past traumas that you once experienced while in the dark.

Musical pieces selected will include Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore; Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky; Peer Gynt Suite #1 by Edvard Grieg; Marioneten Trauermarsch (March of the Marionettes) by Charles Gounod; and Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt.

Concert begins at 4 pm at KP International Market on 10971 Olson Drive. For more information visit symphonydoro.org

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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Folsom Cordova Unified School District’s top priority is the safety of our students and staff. As part of its community-developed Safety Action Plan, the District has worked with Rancho Cordova and Folsom Police and Fire departments to organize three active shooter training drills for officers and SWAT team members at all three comprehensive high school campuses: Cordova High, Folsom High, and Vista del Lago High. The drills used volunteers, who role played as students and staff, to make the situation more realistic to the officers in training.

During a training at Folsom High, Jennifer Serran, the District’s Risk Management Specialist, provided volunteers with resources on what to do in the event of an active shooter. She coordinated all three of the drills with law enforcement and provided steps explaining how to react, how to read your surroundings and what to do if all else fails. Volunteers also got some training through these exercises. 

Many different situations were designed for first responders to read campuses and locate the “shooter.” Volunteers were given cue cards of what to do or say to play into the simulation. Officers in training needed to listen to the roleplayers, listen to the shots, stay focused on their priorities and effectively communicate with the other officers. Police departments utilized training time to prepare for the worst, however, this practice prepares all of us for any scale of emergency. 

For any questions about the District's emergency preparedness, please contact Jennifer Serran at jserran@fcusd.org .

 

 

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Plant-Based Movement Takes to the High Seas

By David Dickstein  |  2019-10-15

Docked in Skagway, Alaska, is Seven Seas Mariner, one of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships that sails out of California. Photo by David Dickstein

Are Falafel Power Bowls the New Surf & Turf for Cruisers?

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - As further proof that the migration to plant-based products is not a fad, but a bona fide trend, more and more cruise lines are keeping pace with current consumer habits by welcoming aboard the gastronomic movement to their fleets.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the next to expand its cuisine with plant-based dishes. Later this fall, the luxury-class line is giving passengers more than 200 new and delicious reasons to feel less guilty about bypassing the fitness center and jogging track while on vacation. This meat-eater certainly will use that excuse thanks to an exclusive advance tasting of some of the plant-based dishes awaiting their debut.

Making notable and nutritious changes to its fare from bow to stern, Regent’s menu makeover appears to be on par with efforts of its direct luxury-class competitor, Oceania Cruises, and more aggressive than earlier plant-based pushes made by more modest cruise lines including Disney, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.

Soon on Regent ships, including the Seven Seas Mariner and Navigator that sail out of the Port of Los Angeles, it will be out with a separate vegan menu and in with scores of gourmet plant-based dishes integrated into the daily menus of the main dining room and beyond. The new items, which include falafel power bowls and the already mainstreamed-on-land Impossible cheeseburger, will be identified by a small leaf icon. The designation will be an add-on to bills of fare that already have a symbol for lacto-ovo vegetarian foods, meaning they may contain milk and eggs. Based on Regent’s project timeline, the plant-based dishes will be rolled out fleet-wide by World Vegan Day on Nov. 1.

Captaining the culinary creations is Regent Food and Beverage Vice President Bernhard Klotz, who noted that plant-based cuisine appeals to a broad audience of luxury travelers. “This is an emerging, modern specialty cuisine that allows our guests to enjoy more flavorful foods that are in harmony with their current tastes,” he said.

The project team also includes world-renowned chef and author Christophe Berg, a 15-year vegan who recently served in a similar consulting capacity for Oceania, which rolled out 200 plant-based dishes across its entire fleet in August. The new options have been described by Bob Binder, Oceania president and CEO, as “flavorful, colorful, bold and creative.”

Executing a similar vegetarian-rooted vision will be the galley crews of Regent’s four-vessel fleet – five when the Seven Seas Splendor arrives in February. The effected chefs and cooks will be trained a few days before each ship becomes a floating ambassador of the growing plant-based movement.

While similarities exist between plant-based and vegan diets, both of which are generally based on personal health, animal welfare and environmental concerns, the main difference between the two is followers of the former are free to eat dairy, as well as poultry, red meat, fish and animal bi-products. Vegans, vehemently, aren’t.

Excited to climb aboard the plant-based train – check that, ship – is Dino Schwager, a nine-year executive chef with Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

“Plant-based is a movement, like a political movement,” said Schwager during a recent seven-day Alaskan cruise aboard the Seven Seas Mariner. “This is a new cuisine, a completely new niche.”

Exclusive, Almost-to-Spec Tasting

Although the fleet’s galleys were still months away from being fully stocked for the new recipes, the affable German chef personally made this travel writer a three-course meal as close to being “leaf-worthy” as possible. Joining us for the exclusive, almost-to-spec chef’s tasting menu was a third avid non-vegetarian at the table, Vladimir Cavic, the ship’s food and beverage director. Leave it to the journalist to be gauche by asking that we enjoy the trio of dishes out of turn.

First up was the gorgeously plated “Warm White and Green Asparagus,” currently served every 14th day in the Mariner’s exquisite Compass Rose and the line’s other main dining rooms. Accompanied by portabella and oyster mushrooms, Parisienne potatoes and sherry vinegar dressing, the dish appears plant-based. Looks, however, are deceiving. During the making of this dish, butter was used when boiling the asparagus, sautéing the fungi and soaking the spuds. The new menu calls for the butter to be replaced with a plant-based margarine. The main dish already tastes fresh and light, especially with a dressing too delicate to dare overpower the perfectly prepared produce. Exchanging butter for plant-based margarine, “a simple change,” according to Chef, will not only appeal to contemporary palates and lifestyles, but also “celebrate the vegetables.”

“The plant-based margarine we’re getting contains less water than the conventional kind and, thus, brings out more of the vegetables’ natural flavors,” he said.

Purposely using as little butter as possible to replicate how the dish will taste come fall, the kitchen staff proved that the non-plant-based fat isn’t required for this plate to appeal to us avid omnivores. Light, yet satisfying – on par with similar fare from Regent, which means well above average among all cruise categories. When prepared to spec, diners unaccustomed to go vegetarian with their main entrees may get an extra boost from knowing how much healthier each delicious bite is.

Next came the “Assorted Greens & Shaved Fennel,” a lovely salad course option that blends California and Hawaiian cuisines with orange segments and roasted macadamia nut dressing.

“What on the plate isn’t plant-based?” Schwager was asked. Chef replied with a devilish smile, “Nothing! This can be served exactly as-is.” Cheater.

Making up for his attempt at sandbagging, the third course, the “Caramelized Apple Tart,” is a dish that will require longer preparation by the dedicated dessert crew.

“The apple stays the same, caramelized in the oven with the vinegar,” Schwager said as it was love at first bite for this fan of sweet, savory, sour and acidic. “The goat cheese will be replaced by a plant-based cheese, made with cashew. Like switching out butter with plant-based margarine, that’s a simple step. It’s the changes to the puff pastry that’s not easy.”

Plant-based pastry dough, at least on Regent Seven Seas ships, will be put in the freezer to set, then rolled thinly before cutting.

“This has to be done fast,” Chef said. “The dough is so sensitive, if you make it and don’t roll it, it doesn’t work. And you have to roll it between two baking sheets.”

The rules of baking science for a ship’s plant-based puff pastry are much more complex than that, but what most cruisers want to know is how it tastes. Based on the best the executive chef and his galley’s dessert station could do in advance of receiving proper training and plant-based ingredients, we can safely state that passengers are in for a real – and healthier – treat.

Net-net, Regent Seven Seas Cruises adding so many plant-based dishes to its regular menus is a big win for passengers on diets eliminating or limiting animals and animal bi-products. The corporate move also will appeal to meat eaters considering healthier choices from a luxury cruise line known for serving top-notch cuisine.

Interesting to note, Regent estimates that a typical passenger eats about 30 percent more during the first two or three days of a cruise, then goes back on a normal level while simultaneously seeking healthier options. By the middle of a 15-day cruise, heck, even a Texas rancher might pass on a standing order of black angus breakfast sirloin steak with crispy bacon in favor of chia cashew yogurt with carrot-hazelnut granola.

If You Go ….

Regent Seven Seas Cruises – www.rssc.com, 844-473-4368

Oceania Cruises – www.oceaniacruises.com, 855-301-5504

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