Sunday, December 25, 2016

Must See: Croatia

Croatia is at the top of my personal travel bucket list.

Why?

It has the perfect mix of culture, history, amazing food and the Mediterranean Sea.


You can choose a sailing itinerary along the beautiful coast or head inland to explore more of the history. Croatia hosts some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Spotlight on Avalon Waterways

River cruises are an incredible way to see the small towns and villages of Europe. You have a lot of choices when it comes to which cruise line.

The value of using a travel agent like me is that I can match you to the river cruise that will be the best fit for you.

Today's spotlight is on Avalon Waterways. What really sets Avalon apart from the other cruise lines is their cabins. Avalon has 12 suite ships sailing the European rivers.

Their entry level suite is 172 square feet compared to Viking's 135 square feet.

The Panorama Suite has wall to wall, floor to ceiling 11 foot window with a 7 foot opening. 80% of their cabins are suites so the ship feels less crowded.  The beds face the window instead of the wall. The cabins do not have a balcony so you have more space in your cabin. This is a great perk if you are sailing on one of the great fall or Christmas markets itineraries.



Additional Inclusions

·        Bicycles to take out – complimentary

·        Panorama Bistro Dining is an alternative dining option that will be available. Beer and wine available at lunch, but it is not free-flowing.  You have to know it's available and ask for it.

Top 5 itineraries

·        Romantic Rhine – Amsterdam to Zurich 7 days, great to combine with another land program

·        Magnificent Europe – 14 days Amsterdam to Budapest Rhine to Main to Danube

·        Burgundy and Provence – 2 nights in Paris and end in Cote d’Azur

·        Legendary Danube – 3 nights in Prague an then end in Budapest.

·        Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches – Paris with a day trip to the Normandy landing beaches and alternative excursions

New for 2017 – Active Discovery on the Danube

·        Theme cruise – Active Discovery on the Danube

o   Bike, Hike, Canoe, Cook, Learn Your Way Through Europe

o   Wine experiences and cooking class

o   Classic/Engaged/ Active excursions

o   From Lintz to Budapest

o   Fly into Munich and add 2 days in Salzburg

o   Or Fly into Prague and add 2 nights

Avalon also has great South America, Galapagos, and Asia itineraries. If you and 10 other couples want to experience river cruising, Avalon has great offers if you book in advance.

Click here to email me for more information on river cruising or click here to schedule a free 20 minute chat.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Did You Know you can rent a canal boat in Europe?


Have you ever been on It's a Small World at Disney World?  If you haven't, imagine a boat moving about 5 miles per hour. That's how you could see Europe!

Le Boat rents canal boats to people like you. You don’t need any boating experience for many of the routes. You “dock” by merely tying your boat to a stake in the ground. 





Can you imagine?

You and your travel companions meander down European rivers stopping where something looks interesting or parking your boat for the night.


Does this vacation intrigue you? Email me or set up a time to chat to see if it is a good fit for your next vacation.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tours that don't suck


One misconception I think that’s out there about international travel is that you have two choices:
A. Join a group tour on a motor coach with 45 other people where you do everything together.

B.  You have to figure it all out on your own.

Today’s tour companies offer many options in between.  
Some considerations as you choose a group tour  include:
  • How large of a group do you want be in?
  • What type of accommodations do you want? 5 star hotels? Local home stays? A yacht?
  • How do you want to travel between cities? Local bus? Fly? Train?
  • What are your interests? Art? History? Wine? Food?


One of the benefits of using a travel agent is that I help you sort through the options to find the best fit based on your answers.  

Two of my favorite options are the small group tours and the local guide option.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Webinar: How to Travel Together and Stay Friends




I have a free workbook available for everyone
who watches this webinar.
If you'd like a copy, click here and submit your email address.

If you have any questions or would like my help planning your next group vacation,


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Disney World Updates: Drones, Pandora, Festival of Arts, Magic Band 2, Star Wars Land, Sassagoula Floatworks

It's time for our twice a month Disney Updates.

The holiday season go high tech with the new drone show at Disney Springs.  We also have updates on Pandora at Animal Kingdom, Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios, and the latest updates to the Magic Band. Epcot will launch a new Festival of Arts in January and February. You can join Tiana on the Riverboat for a special parade viewing experience. In resort news, new amenities are coming to Wilderness Lodge. I'm excited about the new Sassagoula Floatworks at Port Orleans since that's my favorite moderate resort.  And, if you are planning a trip to Disney World between February 25th - March 29th, you may want to include an Atlanta Braves Spring Training Game.

I'd love to help you plan a Disney World vacation to take advantage of all these great new offerings. Remember - my vacation planning services are free when you book through me. Email me or set up a time to chat.

Click READ MORE for the full details.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Must See Kaua'i


Kaua’I is nicknamed the “Garden Isle” because it’s the most lush, naturally beautiful of the Hawai’i islands. Kaua’i is the oldest island. It was formed from hot lava that cooled as it hit the ocean water and piled up over 20,000 feet from the bottom of the ocean.

Kaua’i’s Top 5 Must Sees are:
Napali Coast - Photo courtesy of Go Hawaii
1.     Napali Coast – This 13 mile coast line on the northwestern shore is accessible by foot, boat or helicopter. Hiking the coast is dangerous, difficult and requires a permit. Many visitors enjoy a sunset cruise along the coast. If a helicopter ride is on your bucket list, this is the most satisfying area to explore via helicopter.


Waimea Canyon - Photo courtesy of Go Hawaii
2.     Waimea Canyon – Often called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii – this is a breath taking spot to take in the views or enjoy various levels of hikes.

Wailua River - Photo courtesy of Go Hawaii

3.     Wailua River is the only navigable river in Hawai’i. This makes it a great choice for independent exploration via kayaks or paddle boards.  

Kalalua Look Out, Kokee State Park  Photo Courtesy of Go Hawaii

4.     Kokee State Park is a good starting point for short hikes if you want more independent excursions. 80% of the island is inaccessible by car so plan to spend some time hiking, biking, boating or enjoying a helicopter ride.


Mountain Tubing Photo Courtesy of Go Hawaii


5.     Mountain Tubing is a unique, off the beaten path activity. Extensive canals were built to supply water to the sugar cane fields. Some of the canals go straight through mountains. Tour operators now offer the chance to ride the canals in inner tubes.

One note on Kaua’i – There is virtually no nightlife so if hanging out past 9:00 pm is important to you, we can add on some time in Waikiki.
If you are interested in planning a Hawaii vacation, email me or set up a free 20 minute consultation.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Brown Friday - You can book Black Friday All-inclusive deals TODAY


Great News - The Black Friday deals have been released are ready for booking TODAY. This is just a sample of the great savings available. Email me to find a great option for your family.

Los Cabos
Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabos (3.5*) – All Inclusive (Pricing includes round trip, nonstop air from US to Los Cabos, all inclusive, beach front resort. Pricing does not include transfers to and from the hotel.)
·        $599 per person for 3 nights from Chicago O’Hare for select January dates
·        $799 per person for 5 nights from Chicago O’Hare for select January dates
·        $999 per person for 7 nights from Chicago O’Hare for select January dates

Puerto Vallarta
Marival Resort (4.5*) - All Inclusive (Pricing includes round trip, nonstop air from US to Puerto Vallarta, all inclusive, beach front resort. Pricing does not include transfers to and from the hotel.)
·        $649 per person for 3 nights from Chicago O‘Hare & Denver for select January departures and select dates in February from Los Angeles
·        $699 per person for 3 nights from Milwaukee for select January departures
·        $799 per person for 4 nights from Denver for select January departures  and Los Angeles for select February departures
·        $899 per person for 5 nights from Chicago O’Hare & Denver  for select January departures
·        $949 per person for 5 nights from Los Angeles for select February dates
·        $1099 per person for 7 nights from Chicago O’Hare & Denver for select January departures
·        $1149 per person for 7 nights from Milwaukee for select January departures
·        $1199 per person for 7 nights from St. Louis & Los Angeles for select February dates

Punta Cana
Memories Splash (4.5*) All Inclusive (Pricing includes round trip, nonstop air from US to Punta Cana, all inclusive and taxes.  Pricing does not include transfers to and from the hotel.)
·        $649 per person for 3 nights from Baltimore, Chicago Midway, Chicago O’Hare, &  St. Louis for select January departures
·        $799 per person for 4 nights from Baltimore and Chicago O’Hare for select January departures
·        $849 per person for 4 nights from Milwaukee for select January departures
·        $879 per person for 5 nights from Baltimore and Chicago Midway for select January departures
·        $1,099 per person for 7 nights from Baltimore, Chicago Midway, Chicago O’Hare and St. Louis for select January departures
·        $1,149 per person for 7 nights from Milwaukee for select January departures

Riviera Maya
Hotel Marina El Cid (4.5*) All Inclusive (Pricing includes round trip, nonstop air from US to Cancun, all inclusive, beach front resort and taxes.  Pricing does not include transfers to and from the hotel.)
·        $649 per person for 3 nights from Midway, Baltimore, and  Denver for select January departures.
·        $699 per person for 3 nights from St Louis & Milwaukee for select January departures.
·        $799 per person for 4 nights from Midway, Baltimore, and  Denver for select January departures.
·        $849 per person for 4 nights from St Louis & Milwaukee for select January departures.
·        $899 per person for 5 nights from Baltimore & Denver for select January departures.
·        $949 per person for 5 nights from St Louis & Milwaukee for select January departures.
·        $949 per person for 6 nights from Kansas City for select January departures.
·        $1099 per person for 7 nights from Midway, Baltimore, and  Denver for select January departures.
·        $1149 per person for 7 nights from St Louis & Milwaukee for select January departures.

Jamaica
Iberostar Rose Hall Beach (4.5) All Inclusive (Pricing includes round trip, nonstop air from US to Jamaica, all inclusive, beach front resort and taxes.  Pricing does not include transfers to and from the hotel.)
·        $799 per person for 3 nights from Baltimore, Midway, Milwaukee & St. Louis for select January departures.
·        $949 per person for 4 nights from Baltimore & Midway for select January departures.
·        $1399 per person for 7 nights from Baltimore, Midway & Milwaukee for select January departures.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Disney Updates: Christmas Tree Trail, Disney Wonder Updates and new Eco-Friendly Magic Band Packaging

Latest Disney news:
New Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs
A new Drone show at Disney Springs
More info on the Enhancements on the Disney Wonder
New Eco-Friendly packaging for Magic Bands
A change in how Disney World handles mail




New this year, the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail captures the spirt of the holidays with 15 custom decorated holiday trees at the Disney Springs Marketplace, each dedicated to a popular Disney theme – including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney Villains, “Moana,“ “Beauty and the Beast,“ “Cinderella,“ “Frozen,“ “The Jungle Book,“ “Tangled“ and more!

Also at the Disney Springs Marketplace, you can experience The Festival of Toys at the Once Upon a Toy Fountain. Toys have magically come alive for an interactive holiday dance party nightly on the plaza. Plus, there’s pin trading, a nightly tree lighting ceremony and more.

Hundreds of Show Drones Light Up the Skies During the Holidays at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort


It’s a first not just for Disney Parks, but in the United States: A new holiday experience at Disney Springs™  featuring 300 show drones illuminating the night sky. During “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration,” you will get a chance to watch Disney and Intel explore remarkable new technology.

Accompanied by an original Disney arrangement of classic holiday songs recorded by a full orchestra, the sparkling experience invites your Clients to look up to sky and wish upon a holiday star. This is the first time a drone show of this scale has ever been performed in the U.S.

Here’s a brief sample of what will surprise and delight your family this holiday season above the West Side of the Disney Springs waterfront:



                               
At Marvel Super Hero Academy, Spider-Man, Captain America, Black Widow and other Super Heroes from the Marvel Universe host training activities for kids all cruise long.

Tiana’s Place is a new restaurant celebrating the charm of the Louisiana bayou with southern-style cuisine and a spirited atmosphere. Inspired by the Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, Tiana’s Place features a lively jazz band on stage, a high-energy parade around the room and performances by Tiana herself.

At Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, kids can get their “Frozen” fix Frozen adventures in our youth club. This with imaginative play and hands-on activities, plus one-on-one interactions with Anna, Elsa and Olaf.

And, while the kids are having a blast with our youth counselors and characters, adults can sip a pint at a proper English pub. The new Crown and Fin Pub offers the perfect spot to relax and enjoy adult-exclusive fun.



As of November 11th, Guests who receive MagicBands at home before their resort stay will have their MagicBands fulfilled in new packaging. The new packaging is fully recyclable and printed on recycled paper, in response to Guests' request.  The new packaging includes a sleeve on its left side, which is where the Walt Disney Travel Company luggage tags will now be located if you've purchased a package. The luggage tag straps can be found inside the gray MagicBand holder.


A Change in How Disney World processes mail
Please note, Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels can receive mail throughout their stay. Occasionally, some Guests choose to ship items in advance of their vacation to help save luggage space.

If you intend to receive mail during your vacation, you should be sure the letter or package:


  • Includes the mailing address of your Disney Resort Hotel
  • Clearly features the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival 

Please note that a $5 per package handling fee may apply to all packages that are received through the Front Desk or are delivered to your Disney Resort hotel room.





Bucket List: Alaska



Alaska makes an appearance on a lot of people's bucket list. It's an incredible adventure to experience the wilderness, animals, and the glaciers. I recommended heading to Alaska sooner rather than later because the Glaciers are melting. I went for the first time in 2005 and I was shocked when I returned in 2015 to see how much some of the glaciers had receded.  

Let’s explore Alaska!

First, the way a lot of people experience Alaska is from a cruise ship.


You have the choice of sailing one-way between Alaska and Seattle or Vancouver or round trip from Seattle or Vancouver. I call the roundtrip sailings “Alaska Lite”.  This is a great way to get a taste of Alaska if you have limited time or don’t want the long flight up to Anchorage.

If you really want to see Alaska, you’ll want to spend some time on land. Booking a one way cruise creates the opportunity to add on a land tour. Princess Cruise Lines is my recommendation for an Alaska cruise if everyone coming is an adult. They have an incredible Alaska program. Naturalists come on board to help you spot animals, give the history, and point out all the amazing scenery as you cruise through the Inside Passage. Princess also brings on lecturers in each port. We heard from a man who built his own homestead and a woman who raced in the Iditarod.  

If big cruise ships aren’t your jam, a small ship like those used by un-cruise could be for you. This is a fleet of small ships: 22 to 84 guests.  These cruises have unique itineraries. They provide round trip itineraries completely in Alaska. You can sail round trip from Juneau or one way between Juneau to Sitka. This gives you more time to explore the islands and sounds. One cool thing about the cruise is that the bridge is open. See if this means you can go up and talk to the captain whenever you want.


For those of you who aren’t interested in a multiple day cruise, I can customize a land-based itinerary focused on your interested. You could join a motor coach bus tour or ride the rails. In 2015, we rented a car for 9 nights to explore from Denali National Park to Seward. We jokingly called it the bears, brews, and whales tours.  


I would love to plan an amazing Alaska vacation for you and your family. Click here to request a time to chat.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Spotlight on: Crystal Serenity


In November 2016, I had the chance to tour the Crystal Serenity.  I was very excited to see it since the readers of Condé Nast Traveler consistently vote Crystal Serenity the number one cruise ship in the world.



What sets Crystal apart from other cruise lines?  It’s all about all-inclusive luxury.

Your cruise includes:
Your cabin – No interior cabins. The entry level cabin has a large ocean view window.


Your meals – You can have your meals in Crystal Dining Room, Lido Café, Bistro, Trident Grill, or Tastes. The menu at Tastes changes depending on your itinerary. Click here for a sample menu.


Specialty Dining   - You will receive the opportunity to dine in a specialty restaurant included in your cruise. The number of reservations depends on the length of the sailing.   

Prego offers a changing menu of traditional favorites such as Scaloppine Di Vitello Servite Con Capelli D’angelo and Linguine Con Aragosta E Zucchini. Click here for a sample menu.
Silk Road and Sushi Bar


Silk Road and The Sushi Bar features the cuisine of world-renowned master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu— Matsuhisa.  Nobu blends classically styled Japanese foods with distinct Peruvian and European influences. While The Sushi Bar offers an assortment of Nobu’s inventive sushi and sashimi, Silk Road presents his celebrated dishes such as Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and his signature dessert, a Bento Box filled with Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Shiso Syrup and Sesame Ice Cream. Click here for a sample menu.


Your beverages – Crystal includes all your favorite premium brand beverages including alcohol



Entertainment – The cruise staff rotate through eight different shows plus special guest performers. Your day can be filled with trivia, karaoke, classes, and lectures. If that doesn't keep you busy enough, you have lots of movies to choose from in your cabin and 1 hour of WiFi per person per day.


Crystal wants to create a truly luxury experience through special touches throughout your journey: exceptional service by the pool including cold towels, a relaxed embarkation process on board, and unusual itineraries that create once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as the Northwest Passage.  

Don’t miss the Mozart Tea in Palm Court. The staff dress up in their Victorian finest for a memorable tea. The Jazz Sunday Brunch is also a special treat.
If you'd like to explore if a Crystal cruise is right for you, email me or click here to schedule a free 20 minute consultation.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

What's New at Disney World - Fall 2016

The Fall Holiday season offers so much to do at the Walt Disney World Parks.

If you are interested in planning a Disney vacation, schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me or register to get a free, instant replay of the Keys to the Kingdom: How to Plan a Disney World Vacation webinar.



The Epcot Food and Wine Festival continues through November 14th.


The new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package allows you to enjoy lunch at Tony's Town Square Restaurant with VIP viewing at the parade.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

How to Travel Together and Stay Friends: How to Save Money

If you are overwhelmed trying to plan a group trip, please enjoy my free webinar on How to Travel Together and Stay Friends. Everyone who watched will get a free copy of my guide to group travel. Regster and get instant access.



How to Save Money

Once you've decided the type of vacation you like, you have options for how to book it.  

Cruises

Most cruise line offers incentives for groups of 8 cabins or more. Some cruise lines will offer on board incentives such as additional on board credit for groups as small as 5 cabins. You can also lock in lower rates if you book your group cabins at least a year in advance.

How to Travel Together and Stay Friends: The Important Conversation You Must Have


If you are overwhelmed trying to plan a group trip, please enjoy my free webinar on How to Travel Together and Stay Friends. Everyone who watched will get a free copy of my guide to group travel. Regster and get instant access.




The Important Conversation You Must Have

If you want to stay friends, it’s critical that you are transparent and honest about your expectations for this trip. As the group leader, people will be looking to you for the outline of the trip.

How much time do you want to spend together each day?

How to Travel Together and Stay Friends: Making Decisions


If you are overwhelmed trying to plan a group trip, please enjoy my free webinar on How to Travel Together and Stay Friends. Everyone who watched will get a free copy of my guide to group travel. Regster and get instant access.


How to Make the Decision




When building a group, you have two main options on how to make the decision on what would work best

1.     Decision by Consensus

Best for:

-          Groups where everyone is 100% committed to go

-          Groups with strong personalities who will all want a say in the final decision