It takes a lot of work to plan a family trip. Picking specific destinations, finding lodging, securing transportation, booking flights, scheduling visits with friends or family — all while trying to maintain some semblance of your normal routine, especially if you have younger kids, can take hours and hours.
In the press and hectic pace of everything, it can be easy to forget the bigger reasons families choose to travel with their children: to enrich their lives, expand their emotional and cultural horizons, and help them become better global citizens.
So it’s great to encourage kids to be involved in the planning and to participate in family activities — but what are some ways that you can really get your child curious about your travel destinations without adding yet another list of to-dos to a parent’s already-long list?
Here are some ideas for sparking the love of travel in your child on your next vacation. Continue reading →
Travel insurance is purchased to reduce the risks associated with travel. There is confusion, and even skepticism, surrounding travel insurance. Here are some answers to some common travel insurance questions.
What is travel insurance?
Travel Insurance is a contract between a travel insurance provider and a traveler who has financial interest in lessening risks associated with travel. A premium is paid in exchange for coverage for things like unexpected medical costs, flight delays, cancellations, evacuations, and emergency assistance. Depending on which plan you choose, coverage will vary. Continue reading →
Seminars at sea and meetings at sea are a great way to change up the norm about training. Wouldn’t your employees want a mini-vacation, possibly with their families, while they work?
Incentive programs have been proven to increase sales, boost productivity, retain employees, hold on to top talent, promote teamwork, and decrease employee turnover. The International Society for Performance Improvement has found that incentive programs often increase the individual performance by 22% and team performance by 44%. Corroborating this success, the Incentive Marketing Association’s Recognition Council found that companies using travel as an incentive had employees that outperformed companies that did not by 30%-40%. Continue reading →
I have lived in Florida since 1986 and in May, 2017 I finally visited the well-known, fantastic, historic Ringling Circus and Art Museum—twice. Once was a “walk-through” for an upcoming bus trip I was conducting later in May. I walked around the grounds, through the Original Museum and the Tibbals …Continue reading →
Passports are changing. With international travel on an upswing among cruisers, getting a passport is on the to-do list for a lot of travelers. Lately, there have been a lot of changes and things you need to be aware of when getting ready to apply (or renew) your passport. Here, we’ve gathered six of them so the process is as smooth as possible for you. Continue reading →
There are various ways for a travel professional to become certified. The three main sources are: Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), The Travel Institute and through the various supplier sites. While there are other methods of training for a travel professional, CLIA and The Travel Institute are the two main ones recognized throughout the industry. Continue reading →
Confused? Confused about travel? There is so much information available on the internet right now regarding travel. There are online travel sites for cruises, hotels, air, trains and any other type of travel. But what is the correct product for you? Is the location of the hotel where you want …Continue reading →
Most people who love to travel get a kick out of new and novel experiences. It’s part of travel’s endless appeal, after all. Around any corner can be some unexpected, fun, informative surprise. Seasoned travelers are often trying to think of new places to check out, trying to find “the next” best beach, mountain, urban, or rural destination.
Consider Different Hotel Options
One thing that travelers sometimes overlook are the options for novel, quirky accommodations on their trips. They might spend months planning transportation, sightseeing, or food — but the default lodging is often a typical hotel. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. If you’re up for a new level of adventure, check out these outside-the-box accommodation ideas from around the world.
Live Out a Childhood Fantasy.
Remember watching Swiss Family Robinson as a kid and thinking that looked like the most amazing adventure ever? Treehouses are not just for kids! From the jungles of the Amazon to towering tamarind trees facing the South China Sea, there are plenty of treehouse lodgings that look like something pulled straight from a childhood reverie. You can look at gorgeous photos and start filling your head with high-up dreams here.
An Ice Hotel.
The cold and snow are definitely not for everyone. If you’re strictly a warm-weather kind of traveler, this might not sound appealing. But if you are at all fascinated by Northern cultures and the mysteries of a winter wonderland, this might be just the thing to pass a freezing weekend while waiting for Spring to arrive. Many of these hotels are extremely well-appointed, with luxurious design, high-end restaurants and bars, spas, private igloo-suites, and even wedding chapels located right in the structures themselves. Take a look at this list to start thinking about your next frosty foray.
The Ultimate in Recycling.
Taking the idea of overnight accommodations well beyond just the remodeling of historic buildings, people all over the world have found unexpected objects, forms of transportation, and natural spaces and have transformed them into comfy, beautiful places to spend the night. Train cars, airplane hangars, caves, lighthouses, windmills, boats — basically, the only limit is the imagination.
Camping for People Who Don’t Like Camping.
Want the best of camping — fresh air, breathtaking views, cozy fires, wildlife watching — without the crick in your neck or the twigs in your morning coffee? You could try “glamorous camping,” otherwise known as glamping. Spend the night in wall-tents, yurts, teepees, or island huts that feature nothing but the most luxurious amenities.
If you’re ready to take on a vacation and rest your head in a space that’s definitely outside the typical hotel room, check out http://www.quirkyaccom.com. From huts, castles, and boutique hotels to a re-creation of a Hobbit’s Shire in rural Montana, this site allows you to search for lodging ideas from all over the world that will really send you on a trip.
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As a child growing up I was lucky enough to go to Greece every three years to visit my grandparents and uncle. My grandparents had to return to Greece when I was about five due to my grandmother’s health and my uncle went with them. He eventually married and had children and stayed in Greece. When we went to Greece we would get to stay two to three months at a time. I really loved going there. The people were always friendly and went out of their way to help me even though I didn’t speak Greek very well. Most of our visits were to the beautiful island of Crete. We got to visit Knossos and, of course, the gorgeous beaches. We visited relatives up in the villages in the mountains.
I never really felt left out. The neighbor kids, who were taking English in school, were always happy to practice their English with me, and I got to practice my Greek. It was fun coming back every three years and pretty much just continuing on with those friendships, seeing how all of us changed over the years. As we got older, since some of my friends in Greece were older than me, they got married and had children. I loved being able to practice my Greek and by the time we left during those visits I was pretty much able to hold conversations. Of course, not using it much when I returned to the States, I would forget most of it and have to relearn it when I returned to Greece!
My father is of Greek descent but never learned the language as his mother was English and his father was from Crete. He didn’t go to the Greek Church much and was not in contact with the language much growing up. My mother taught Greek for over 30 years, which is where I learned it, but not speaking it on a regular basis you don’t get very fluent. I understand Greek a lot more than I can speak it, which surprised my mother sometimes when I asked questions about something she discussed with her friends on the QT (or so she thought!) by speaking in Greek .
Greece is still my favorite place to visit as often as I can. I still find the people so friendly and willing to help those who don’t speak Greek. Most of the younger crowd know very good English and a lot of the business owners do too. It is still a very beautiful, culturally rich place to visit. Unfortunately the ability to stay for two to three months is not an option for me any more, but boy would I love to live there for that amount of time if not longer!
A great way to see Greece is to combine a cruise of the beautiful Greek islands and a bus tour of the mainland. You’ll see the picturesque blue roofs of Santorini, the windmills of Mykonos and the butterfly valley of Rhodes.
Then you can take a fantastic escorted tour of the mainland and see the Peloponesian area of Greece, visit the awe-inspiring Corinth Canal and the Parthenon and Acropolis of Athens.
It is a great way to see Greece in 10 or 15 days. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful beaches and museums! There are many archeological sites, lots of museums but most of all beautiful beaches and scenic sites to see and adventures to explore. Greece has many islands, some more tourist-oriented than others. Each has their own history and sites.
Santorini is known for its blue roofs, homes built up the side of a mountain, shopping and its beaches. Some people even think Santorini is the lost island of Atlantis. You can fly to the island but arriving by boat is the best way that provides a spectacular introduction. After the boat sails between Sikinos and Ios, your deck-side perch approaches two close islands with a passage between them. The bigger one on the left is Santorini and the smaller on the right is Thirassia. Passing between them, you see the village of IA adorning Santorini’s northernmost cliff like a white geometric beehive.
Crete, to the Greeks, is the Megalonissi (Great Island), a hub of spectacular ancient art and architecture. Crete is the land of King Minos, a unique world where civilization is counted by the millennium. There are mountains split with deep gorges and honeycombed with caves, rising in sheer walls from the sea. There are snowcapped peaks looming behind sandy shorelines, vineyards and olive groves. There is a beach on Crete with caves know for its hippie residents in the past.
Mykonos was one of the poorest islands in Greece turned into one of the richest with the tourist trade. This island was put firmly on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s and remains the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands. With its whitewashed streets, Little Venice, the Kato Myli ridge of windmills and Kastro, the town’s medieval quarter. The two-or three-story houses and churches, with their red or blue doors and domes and wooden balconies, have been long celebrated as some of the best examples of classic Cycladic architecture.
The fourth-largest Greek island and, along with Sicily and Cyprus, one of the great islands of the Mediterranean, Rhodes was considered a bridge between Europe and the East. Rhodes town brings together fascinating artifacts, medieval architecture, an active nightlife, and is reputedly the sunniest spot in all Europe. Don’t miss the beautiful “Valley of the Butterflies” at Petaloudes that can be seen best in July and August.
One of the most unspoiled Greek islands, due to the difficulty in getting to it, is Patmos. Rocky and barren, the small island lies beyond the islands of Kalymnos and Leros, northeast of Kos. On a hillside is the Monastery of the Apocalypse, which enshrines the cave where St. John received the Revelation in AD 95. The Monastery of St. John the Theologian sits high on its perch at the top of Chora. It is one of the world’s best preserved fortified medieval monastic complexes, a center of learning since the 11th century and today is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex consists of buildings from a number of periods: in front of the entrance is the 17th-century Chapel of the Holy Apostles, the main Church dates from the 11th century, the time of Christodoulos (whose skull, along with that of Apostle Thomas, is encased in a silver sarcophagus here), and the Chapel of the Virgin is 12th century.
There is lots to do in Greece from relaxing on the beaches, touring the museums and archaeological sites to shopping. Don’t forget cruising the Greek Islands!!!
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Luxury cruising comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes. From ocean cruising to river cruising, choices abound. Yes, luxury cruises may cost more but they are well worth it. Here are some choices for your consideration.
Azamara Club Cruises
An upmarket destination-focused cruise line operations two ships, the Azamara Journey and the Azamara Quest. Both were just recently upgraded in early 2016. These are 686-passenger vessels in the luxury cruising family of ships.
The company announced its first-ever World Cruise in 2018 aboard the Azamara Journey to 60 ports in 29 countries over 102 days. This would be a great way to see the world and visit all those continents and countries you always wanted to visit.
Also unveiled was Azamara’s Overnight Adventures program where it offers two- and three-day land excursions during a voyage. The program includes transportation, hotel and meals in places such as Yangon, Myanmar; Nazareth, Galilee and Jerusalem, Israel; Venice and Florence, Italy; and even a desert in Oman with a Bedouin tent for accommodations.
This luxury cruising line has been on an aggressive expansion plan since 2015. In December Crystal introduced the 62-guest adventure yacht Crystal Esprit. In August 2018 it will be joined by a 200-guest polar-class luxury yacht, Crystal Endeavor.
Crystal expanded into river cruising with the Crystal Mozart in 2016. They company is also building six new luxury river vessels with deliveries from 2017 to 2019.
Three Exclusive Class ocean ships are expected to enter service starting in fall 2019. These polar-ice-class vessels would accommodate about 1,000 passengers and have 48 private residences.
Crystal has not only looked at ocean vessels and river cruising but has also looked to the sky. Crystal is building a fleet of private jets. The first, a Bombardier Global Express XRS jet that accommodates up to 12 passengers was introduced this year. They plan to add a Boeing 777 in 2017 and a 787 Dreamliner in 2018.
An old favorite in the luxury cruising family is Cunard. The Queen Mary 2 just emerged from a major renovation in June. Cunard also has announced that it will add Britannia Club staterooms to Queen Victoria in June 2017. This line offers transatlantic crosses from New York to England and back along with other ports.
This upper-premium line welcomed its sixth ship, the 684-passenger Sirena, in late April. The Sirena is similar in size and scope to sister ships Regatta, Insigna and Nautica. Oceania also operates the purpose-built 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera.
The company announced plans for its fifth six-month-long voyage, dubbed “Around the World in 180 Days”. This World Cruise will sail more than 39,000 nautical miles across three oceans while visiting 87 ports in 40 countries on five continents. It will be operated by the Insignia, which will depart Miami on January 3, 2018 and return July 1, 2018.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
This is an all-inclusive luxury cruising line that is welcoming its first new ship in 14 years. The 56,000-ton, 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer debuted in July and the sister ship is scheduled for delivery in 2020.
Highlights on the Seven Seas Explorer are a new Pan-Asian specialty restaurant with no cover charge and a lavish Canyon Ranch Spa Club with a thermal suite and an infinity-edge plunge pool. The new vessel is operating its inaugural season in Europe and will make its North American debut on December 2 in Miami.
Their other three ships in the fleet are slated for an extensive $125 million refurbishment program beginning with the 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator this spring, Seven Seas Voyager in late 2016 and Seven Seas Mariner in spring 2017.
The company also now offers free, intercontinental business-class air for all guests flying to meet ships on Europe, Asia and South America voyages, regardless of suite category. This is in addition to other inclusions, such as free unlimited shore excursions, wine and spirits, unlimited Internet access, prepaid gratuities, ground transfers and luxury pre-cruise hotel stays.
This luxury line will debut the new 40,350-ton, 600-guest Seabourn Encore in December 2016. A sister ship, Seabourn Ovation, will joint the fleet in 2018. These ships building upon the popularity of their three highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which entered service between 2009 and 2011.
The Ventures by Seabourn expedition program offers optional excursions led by an expert team of scientists, scholars and naturalists. The mall groups have a guide-to-guest ration of 1:14 maximum.
The line also has partnerships with Swarovski Optik, which supplies high-quality binoculars and spotting scopes on the ships, and with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote sustainable tourism at World Heritage properties.
SeaDream Yacht Club
This upscale line, which offers a “yachting, not cruising” experience on two 112-guest vessels in 2016 celebrates the 15th anniversary of its founding. The small ships visit many destinations that aren’t accessible by larger vessels.
SeaDream recently announced seven new Wine Voyages, running 7- to 11-day trips for the 2017 season in the Mediterranean. These cruises will include premium tastings from celebrated wineries such as Château Gassier, Tenuta San Guido, Taittinger Champagne and Maison Louis Jadot, as well as a Winemaker’s Dinner. What better way to see the wine countries of Europe and taste these great wines!
Another all-inclusive luxury line is offering a new collection of specialty voyages that blend culture and travel. The “Exclusively Yours – Enriched Voyages” late summer and fall will feature a complimentary onboard program of entertainment and enrichment activities, as well as complimentary shore excursions on select sailings.
The program includes opera shows performed by the world=renowned Accademia Teatro ala Scala, classic ballet performances by soloists from the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia and culinary voyages hosting renowned Relais & Châteaux chefs.
In April 2017 Silversea is planning the arrival of its long-awaited new ship, the 596-guest, 40,700-ton Silver Muse. The Silver Muse will launch its inaugural season from Monte Carlo and sail in and around the Mediterranean. Thirteen European ports-of-call feature UNESCO sites. Then the Silver Muse will make its trans-Atlantic crossing to sail along the East Coast of North America, through the Panama Canal on October 18 and down to South America and the Caribbean.
So, if luxury is in your travel plans, contact me to help you plan that great, relaxing, memorable vacation.
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