Friday, December 29, 2017

Best of 2017: All inclusive resorts

You know I visit a lot of resorts each year. This year, I took trips to Mexico, Aruba, Punta Cana, and Jamaica. Here's the resorts that surprised me the most on each trip.

Cancun/Riviera Maya  - Now Jade 

now Jade is family resort in Riviera Maya, just south of the Cancun airport. I was impressed with the modern design, the Preferred Club adults only pool, the kids' activities, and the no reservation dining. My client Allison also loved it for her family. Click here for Allison's review.

Jamaica - Zoetry Montego Bay

I wasn't too sure about this resort since it only has 49 suites, but I loved it. The staff was so friendly. The food was great. Fun activities filled the afternoon. And, you can't beat a jerk chicken shack right on the beach.  
Click here for my review. 

Punta Cana  - Nickelodeon Punta Cana   

This resort surprised me. I expected over-the-top Nickelodon every where. I was pleasantly surprised that the main resort felt upscale with some Nickelodeon touches. The water park and main kids' areas are located across the street - accessed by a golf cart path. Click here for my review.

Aruba  - Manchebo Beach Resort  

Going to Aruba, I knew I'd like Bucuti and Tara. I was surprised to also fall in love with Manchebo Beach resort right next door. It shares the gorgeous beach. I loved the yoga programs, quiet vibe and great restaurants.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bucuti and Tara Suites, Aruba

Thanks to Aruba Tourism Authority for sponsoring my trip to Aruba and this site inspection.

Bucuti and Tara Suites is a romantic, adults only resort geared towards couples. Most of the suites have been renovated in the last two years. It's small - only 104 rooms. It has a tranquil vibe. Music is available at happy hour. The Tara suites are all oceanfront. Penthouse suites include a reserved cabana. The hotel is committed to wellness. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free menus are available. Breakfast is included. 

Take a quick peek around:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Best of 2017: Cruises

I get asked a lot for my favorites: my favorite cruise or my favorite all inclusive resorts. I usually say something like, "My favorites may not be your favorites."

But today, I threw caution to the wind and decided to share my favorites. This week, I'll share my favorite cruise moments from 2017. Next week, you'll get my favorite all-inclusive resorts.

Here we go!

Overall Cruise Experience: Viking Sea

My husband and I agree that our cruise aboard the Viking Sea was one of the best cruises we have ever sailed. The ship is gorgeous. The food and service was excellent. The cabin was huge. We loved the small ship and how much was included.Click here for my full review.

Best Cruise Activity:  AzAmazing Evening

Azamara Cruises includes an AzAmazing Evening on each sailing. It's an event on land that is truly VIP. We attended a wonderful party at the Governor's Mansion in Antigua complete with a live band and the best fireworks show I've ever seen.  Click here for the full review. 

Best new Cruise Restaurant:  Tiana's on the Disney Wonder 

Disney Wonder reinvented one of their restaurants into Tiana's Place. I think it's a hit! The food is great. The atmosphere is fantastic with live music and a table side visit from Tiana.Given how great this restaurant turned out, I'm excited to see Rapunzel's Royal Table open on the Disney Magic next year. 

I hope you enjoy this peek into my personal favorites. 

Viking Sea Review and Ship Tour 2017

I had high expectations setting sail on the Viking Sea. This ship delivers a relaxing, delicious experience.

Join me on a ship tour: 

Viking Sea is gorgeous. My favorite aspect was the amount of spaces to get away. Since the ship does not have a casino, that space is allocated to cozy lounges to meet new friends or relax quietly.

Winter Garden

The cabins are fantastic. The Penthouse Junior Suite feels like a high end hotel room. The shower is large. The bed is comfortable.  

The food overall was very good. Beer and wine are included with lunch and dinner. Viking also offers a beverage package that includes upgraded wine and cocktails. Specialty Dining is included and we took full advantage. We ate 5 out of 10 nights at Manfredis, the Italian restaurant. Our favorite dishes were the octopus carpaccio, beef tartare, and the ribeye steak.
Octopus Carpaccio

Three nights, we ate at the buffet. I am usually not a buffet person, but we were really impressed. One night, we tried Chef’s Table. We found the food pretty good, but the set menu was too limiting.

One of the highlights of the cruise was the staff. Every one was happy and friendly. Sailing on a ship of only 900 people means that the staff really gets to know you and what you like.

One concern we had about sailing Viking was the entertainment and activities. We worried there wouldn’t be enough to do in the evenings. We were pleasantly surprised. The ship has a band, a classical trio, guitar player, piano player, and a production team of singers and dancers. In the early evening, two lounges had live music plus each evening the production team put on a musical revue.

Later at night, the two lounges still continued with music and the band played dance favorites in the night club.

During the day, one of the three lecturers offered at least one presentation. On Sea Days, trivia filled the Reflection Lounge. We also attended two cooking demonstrations. The wet areas of the Spa were included: steam room, snow room, and a thalassotherapy pool. Viking also includes one excursion per port. These are usually walking tour or bus tours.  

This is one of the best cruises we have ever taken. We loved how much was included.  The more we think about the cruise, the more we are ready to book our next sailing.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Barcelo Aruba

Thank you for the Aruba Tourism Authority for sponsoring my trip to Aruba and this site inspection. 

Barceló Aruba is a 373 room all inclusive family resort. 

A few things to know about this resort: 
  • Swim up Bar 
  • Reservations are required for the a la carte restaurants. You are guaranteed reservations for four nights out of a seven night stay. The other three nights are based upon availability.
  • The resort has nightly entertainment including live music and shows in an indoor theater. 
  • Tennis courts and beach vollyball are available. 
  • Royal Level has a special area of the beach that includes a bar with beach waiter service. Non-Royal guests do not have waiter service on the beach and have to get drinks at the swim up bar. 
  • Royal Level has access to one additional restaurant. 
  • Wifi has a charge unless you've booked a Royal Level Room 
  • Room service has a charge unless you've booked a Royal Level room. 

After that list, can you see why I highly recommend booking a Royal Level room at this resort? 

Take a quick peek:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mancebo Beach Resort

Thanks to Aruba Tourism Authority for sponsoring my trip and this site inspection. 

Manchebo Beach resort is a quiet, small resort on what I consider to be the best part of Palm Beach in Aruba. It offers yoga and pilates daily. The resort allows children, but doesn't have kids' club.

The resort offers an all-inclusive add-on. The four on-site restaurants and premium alcohol are included. After the 4th night, you get a coupon to go to a participating offsite restaurant.

The resort does not have any elevators. 

Take a peek: 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hyatt Aruba

Thank you to the Aruba Tourism Authority for sponsoring my trip to Aruba and this site inspection.

Hyatt Aruba is a family resort on Palm Beach in Aruba. It is not all-inclusive. 

A few things to know about this resort: 

Kids' Activities 
  • It has a water slide. 
  • Babysitting is available
  • Camp Hyatt has 3 sessions per day Pricing changes by season . Morning and afternoon sessions include lunch. the kids must be potty trained
  • Steam room is available in the men's or women's locker rooms 
  • You can reserve a beach palapa at It is included if you reserve it for the next day or you pay in advance to secure the same chair for the whole stay. 
  • Swim Up Bar 
  • Live entertainment each evening starting at 5 pm. 
  • 2 courts. Racquets and tennis balls are included. 
  • Free Wifi 
These resort has a lot of stairs as the pool area is tiered as it heads down to the beach. King rooms have a walk in shower. Rooms with two queen beds have a bath tub. Suites have full oceanfront balconies. Island view rooms only have windows that open - no walk out balconies. Take a quick peek:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tamarijn All Inclusive Resort Aruba

A big thank you to the Aruba Tourism Authority for sponsoring my visit to Aruba and this site tour. 

Tamarijn is an all inclusive family resort is located on Divi beach in Aruba. 

What makes this resort special: 
  • All oceanfront rooms 
  • Free bikes 
  • All inclusive 
  • Great value
  • Kids Club
  • Access to Divi Aruba 
A few things to know: 
  • No room service 
  • No waiter service at beach or pool 
  • Mini fridge in the room, but it's not stocked. 
To me, this is a great option for Aruba. You can have the benefit of an all-inclusive for breakfast, lunch and cocktails, but it's at a price point that makes it feasible to go out for dinner to some of Aruba's great restaurants. It's also great to have a beachfront rooms at this price point. Check out how close the rooms are to the beach. 

Join me on a walk around: 

Friday, December 1, 2017

What cruise ship is best for Alaska?

In the video below, I answered two frequently asked questions:
  • What's the best itinerary?
  • What's the difference between cruise ships?

This is a Facebook Live I did. If you want to join these types of presentations live, be sure to LIKE and FOLLOW the Trips with Angie Facebook page

Best Itinerary