Thursday, June 28, 2012

6.28.12 Cruise Deals

Carnival

 

Best Vacation Ever promotion continues through Saturday June 30th for special rates and free upgrades on cruises now through March 2013.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

6.27.12 Caribbean Deals

Caribbean Deals This Week 

From New York

Six nights at the all-inclusive NOW Larimar Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic  including airfare
From $1,502 per person

Monday, June 25, 2012

Spotlight on: Chicago

Willis Tower and a River Architectural Cruise


Chicago is a fantastic city to visit: excellent museums, fantastic restaurants, great shopping, and a terrific public transportation system. One of the best combinations of activities I have found is the Willis Tower, Greektown and a River Architectural Cruise. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

6.21.12 Cruise Deals GALORE!


It is time to sail away on one of these terrific deals this week. If you have been thinking about taking a cruise - this is the week to book it!

Luxury All Inclusive 48 hour Sale

Chicago

7 nights at the all-inclusive Riu Vallarta Hotel including airfare
From $998.39 per person
Cleveland

3 nights at the all-inclusive Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa including airfare
From $699 per person
Dallas

3 nights at the all inclusive NOW Larimar Punta Cana including airfare
From $588.49 per person
Indianapolis

7 nights at the all inclusive Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa including airfare
From $1,353 per person
Tampa

7 nights at the all inclusive Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa including airfare
From $1,326 per person
All rates include taxes and airfare and are based on double occupancy.
These deals will go fast so prices are subject to change. 
Email me me to book your summer vacation today!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Spotlight: The Areas surrounding Sydney, Australia

Our trip to Sydney was part of a 3 city, 12 night Australia trip. We focused our time in Sydney on the surrounding areas of the Hunter Valley, Manly Beach and Bondi Beach.

Hunter Valley Wine Tour
We booked the Hunter Valley Wine Tour. We boarded our travel van with seven others and set out on the hour and half drive to the Hunter Valley. The Hunter Valley was beautiful – rolling hills of pasture and small vineyards. Due to the nature of the soil, the grape growers find the best patches of land and plant vines. Instead of acres and acres of vines, we saw clusters of vines dot the landscape.  Our first vineyard was McGuigan Wines. This is one of the larger wineries in the area. They even have limited distribution in the United States.

The wine that impressed us the most there was the 2010 Late Picked Traminer. It’s their take on an ice wine. Since it doesn’t get cold enough for the grapes to freeze, they freeze the grape juice. The water freezes before the alcohol so you end up with a very sweet, high alcohol wine. We were really impressed with the flavors. We also liked their 2008 Personal Reserve Botrytis Semillon. Semillon is the premier grape of the Hunter Valley. It created a white wine that falls into a similar category with a Sauvignon Blanc. Botrytis is a mold that grows on the grapes. This mold sucks all the moisture out of the grape so you are left with only the sugars. These moldy grapes are then used to make a very sweet dessert wine with a creamy texture and honey notes.   

  Next stop was First Creek:

First Creek is the private label for a wine maker that produces wine for over thirty labels. The grape growers bring them the grapes and the specifications for the type of wine they want. Then, the wine makers at First Creek make and bottle the wine under their label.  The award for most “fun”wine of the day went to their 2011 Raspberry wine. It tasted like candy and would be great in a champagne cocktail. 

The third stop was Tempus Two:


This was a beautiful location. The tasting room was gorgeous and the location had two restaurants with outdoor seating. Tempus Two has two lines: Copper and Pewter. The Copper series is wines influenced by European styles. The Pewter line is the single vineyard, premium series of wines. The favorite wine there was the Tempus Two Copper 2011 Gewurztraminer. It had the classic sweet notes of a Gewurztraminer with a slight spice note at the finish.
We had lunch at the Blue Tongue Brewery. We tried the beers there, but none of them were really to our liking. The cider was the best. Next to the Brewery was a little wine shop that offered free tastings. We enjoyed the well balanced, very drinkable Pukka Sparkling Wine. Our favorite Shiraz of the day was the Polin and Polin 2009 Convicts and Catholics Shiraz.

It was well-balanced with nice fruit notes. Another good Shiraz was the 2010 Kiss Shiraz from Thomas.

Our last winery stop was a Boutique winery in the Lovedale sub region of the Hunter Valley. The winery produced under the Tin Solider and Warraroong Estate. We really enjoyed the Tin Solider 2010 Rose. It was one of our favorites because it was refreshing with great flavors without being too sweet. We had the tasting at an outdoor table overlooking some vines. It was a gorgeous way to end the day.

The last stop was a chocolate and cheese shop. We stocked up on some snacks for the road. Overall, it was a great tour. Our tour guide Robert was knowledgeable about the area and very open to taking us where we wanted to go. Back at the hotel, we decided dinner of cheese and crackers would be a perfect way to the end the day.
Manly Beach

We really wanted to get out on the water and explore the Harbor. We boarded the ferry to Manly Beach ($14 round trip). It was a great ride that offered fantastic views of the Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House.




Manly Beach was gorgeous. It had a pedestrian mall similar to Lincoln Road in Miami with shops and restaurants.

The beach was filled with surfers, paddle boarders and sunbathers. Along the water was a line of restaurants with outdoor seating. After a great breakfast, we decided to check out theManly Scenic Walkway – a 9.1km walkway along the harbor.  We enjoyed the long walk along the Harbor.
We didn’t go the whole way. If you wanted to experience the entire walkway, I recommend taking the bus to Split Bridge, walking to Manley and then taking the ferry back to Sydney. I enjoyed the Manly so much, I would consider booking the hotel stay there and just taking the ferry to Sydney for some of the city activities.

Bondi Beach
We boarded the Hop On/Hop Off Double Decker Bus tour to Bondi Beach.  You can purchase a 24 hour pass that incIudes both the Bondi Beach tour and the City bus Tour. You can also access Bondi Beach on the city bus.Th beach is gorgeous!  The water is doted with surfers - both novices and regulars.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

6.14.12 Cruise Deals



Norwegian Cruise Lines

4 night Bahamas Cruise departing starting at $199 per person

11 night Mediterranean and Holy Land Cruise starting at $579 per person

10 night Mediterranean cruise staring at $549 per person

9 night Eastern Caribbean cruise starting at $599 per person

8 night Greek Isles starting at $549 per person

PLUS – Discounted rates between now and June 18th for US Residents


Royal Caribbean

3 night Bahamas Cruise starting at $199 per person

5 night Caribbean cruise from $479 per person

7 night Caribbean cruise from $499 per person

7 night Alaskan cruise from $549 per person


Celebrity

7 night Alaskan cruise from $499 per person

7 night Caribbean cruise from $499 per person

Plus
Princess Cruise Lines has a Father's Day promotion with up to 60% off cruise rates and up to $100 on board credit.

Carnival Cruise Lines has reduced rates on many last minute cruises.

Email me to book one of these great cruises.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spotlight: Cairns - Reef and Rainforest

Two of the great highlights of Cairns, Australia are the reef and rainforest:
May 12th - 16th 2012 in Cairns, Australia


Reef
In May 2012, We went on a Quick Silver Cruises snorkeling tour of the Great Barrier Reef out of Port Douglas. We chose Port Douglas because those cruises access the less congested outer reefs. We rode about an hour through the mountains to Port Douglas on narrow windy roads that made us glad we didn't drive. We boarded a large, modern, catamaran yacht.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spotlight: Melbourne Must See

In May 2012, I travelled to Melbourne, Australia as part of a three city, 12 night tour. Here's my review of the must-see things to do when in Melbourne:
- Melbourne Free Tourist Shuttle
- Phillip Island Nature Parks
- Immigration Museum
- Eureka SkyDeck 88
- St. Kilda
- Brunswick Street
- Melbourne Gaol
- Parliament
- Fitzroy Gardens
- Melbourne Cricket Ground

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cruise Packing Tips

Consider packing socks and underwear in gallon size ziploc bags. It'll be easy to tell which are clear and which are dirty. Don't forget a Renuzit for the bathroom, a koozie for your Bud Light and some Mardi Gras beads to be the life of the party.  

Don't like paying $4 for water at the airport? Bring your own empty water bottle and a powdered drink packet. Fill up at the H2O fountain. You'll be sippin' sweet tea for pennies. Plus the water cups on the cruise are tiny.

Always be sure what time the ship is leaving and if local time is different than ship time.


If you know you'll be bringing back liquids - bring wine skins with you. They are cheaper in bulk and offer great protection.

On your luggage tag - put your cell phone - not your address. Inside put a sheet of paper with dates on where you'll be.

Take a copy of your passport and keep it opposite your passport. Left your passport in your room or cruise cabin safe? Carry the copy with you.  Carrying your passport in your purse? Keep the copy in your pocket.

If you are trying to carry on - check out my packing list for carrying on.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Featured Deal: El Dorado Casita Royale in Riviera Maya/Cancun



Limited time offers!

El Dorado Casita Royale is an all inclusive  luxury resort in Riviera Maya just south of Cancun.
 I found a limited promotion for 5 nights in their Casita Suites including airfare

From Chicago: $1,595 per person
From Dallas: $1,424 per person
From Houston: $1,463 per person

For 3 nights - just hotel - $658 per person

Contact me if you are interested. This is a great price for this resort and will sell out fast.