Tuesday, October 27, 2020

COVID Travel: Dreams Natura Resort & Spa

 



Dreams Natura is a family all inclusive resort near Puerto Morales, Mexico about 20 minutes south of the Cancun airport. Dreams Natura has wonderful infinity edge pools, a splash park, a small lazy river,  three water slides, and a Roller Glider ride. I love the chic and colorful decorations of the Dreams Natura restaurants and junior suites. Dreams Natura is compact so it's very easy to get around with kids. The open air lobby at Dreams Natura is a great spot for an evening cocktail or to enjoy the evening entertainment.

Take a tour: 



Monday, October 26, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick

 


By: Katy DeHaven

The last city we are going to take a look at in our Canada and New England cruise port series is Charlottetown, located on Prince Edward Island in the province of New Brunswick.

 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Sydney, Nova Scotia



By: Katy DeHaven

For our next port in our Canada and New England series we are going to head back to Nova Scotia and the port of call of Sydney on Cape Breton Island. 


Founded by the British in 1785, it was incorporated into a city in 1904, however that was dissolved in 1995 and the area was amalgamated into a regional municipality. Sydney is the largest urban area on Cape Breton Island, and home to the island’s main port. It offers unique shops and services, historic sites and stunning scenery. Let’s take a look!

Did you know the world’s largest fiddle calls Sydney home? 


Located in front of the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion on the waterfront, standing at 18 meters tall the fiddle is hard to miss. It stands in tribute to the folk music and traditions of the province’s Celtic community. 

Built in 1787, Cossit House is one of the oldest buildings on the island. Through furniture, furnishings and costumed interpreters it celebrates the Gaelic culture and history of Nova Scotia. Hands-on activities like lace making, butter churning and weaving are also offered. For a peek at the home:  


Just around the corner, visit St. Patrick’s Church, the oldest Roman Catholic Church on the island, today it is a museum. The goal of the museum is to represent the religious history of the area. Built between 1828 and 1830 the church features hand-hewn beams, Gothic windows, cut stone around the windows and doors, a tower with cupola and dominating door openings. To learn about the church:




To learn more about the history of Cape Breton visit The Sydney Museum  which was originally known as The Cape Breton Centre for Heritage & Science. The museum offers permanent and travelling collections of exhibitions that demonstrate the heritage, culture and science of the area. The museum also offers an area just for kids called Discovery Corner. 

Visitors looking to bring back some local crafts from their trip should check out The Cape Breton Artisan Trail Map. Follow the trail to meet and learn about local artisans. There are painters, pottery designers, quilt makers, wood workers, jewelry makers, jam makers, chocolatiers, soap makers and more.

If you are a history buff in general or have an interest in history of the World War II era you will want to check out Fort Petrie Military Museum. The museum was originally one of seven fortifications located along Sydney Harbour to protect the harbor and convoys from military submarines during the Second World War. At that time Sydney was the home of the Royal Navy in the event of a German invasion of the British Isles. To learn more:



Just to the east of Sydney is The Cape Breton Miners’ Museum along the coast of Glace Bay. The museum is a tribute to the mining history of the region, and includes a tour of underground mines. Tours can be booked online, but you can also explore virtually:




Thirty minutes southeast from Sydney, is the town of Louisbourg and the world famous Fortress of LouisbourgThe French fortress was seized twice and helped create today’s Canada. Guided and self guided tours are available. There are also demonstrations in weaponry and puppet shows for kids. Learn more:




About an hour’s drive from Sydney is the town of Baddeck located at the beginning and end of the Cabot Trail. Here you will find the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Sitethe former home to the famous scientist and inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell. Baddeck also offers many popular outdoor activities including golfing at Bell Bay Golf Club, sailing, kayaking, nature tours, and horseback riding at Rocking Horse Ranch. To see more of the area check out this video

The Cabot Trail itself is a 185 mile loop around Cape Breton and considered one of the most scenic destinations in the world with its stunning views of the ocean, old-growth forests, prehistoric rock scarred by glaciers, and the mysterious Cape Breton Highlands. For the driver to have the easiest drive and to take in the views going in a clockwise direction makes the most sense. However counterclockwise is also good as the pullover spots are on the right side. To see some stunning footage of the area in the fall, click here

We hope you are enjoying this virtual series of Canada and New England cruise port of calls! 

COVID Travel: Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun All Inclusive Resort Tour

 



Now Sapphire is a family all inclusive resort in Puerto Morales, Mexico about 25 minutes south of the Cancun airport.  Now Sapphire was recently renovated and now offers a Splash Park, three water slides, and oceanfront swim up suites. The Now Sapphire oceanfront swim up suites are very unique. It's rare to find a true oceanfront swim up suite. Now Sapphire's open air lobby is a great space to socially distance and enjoy the evening ocean breezes. 


Take a look: 



Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Portland, Maine

 

By: Katy DeHaven 


Jumping over to our next port of call from our Canada and New England cruise port series is Portland, ME

 

Portland is the largest city in Maine with a population of about 66,700. Include the metropolitan area and the population is closer to a half million, about 1/3 the population of the entire state. The city is known for its dedication to the arts, revered dining scene and the historic Old Port area. There are also secluded beaches and centuries old lighthouses to explore. Let’s check it out!

Angie spent a day in Portland as part of her Hurtigruten cruise. Check out her recommendations: 



The Old Port area is famous for the wide variety of shops, bars and restaurants. Visitors enjoy wandering the streets while simultaneously taking in the sights and sound of the boats in the bay and the ocean. For a look at the Old Port area, check out this video: 


 

Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971, the Victoria Mansion, also known as the Morse-Libby House is a classic example of American residential architecture from the 19th century. The brownstone exterior and elaborate interior design combined with the early technological advances in the home provide a detailed portrait of lavish living from the time period. To learn about the home and its previous owners, please click here


 

For a bird’s eye view of the area visit the Portland Observatory. This is the last standing maritime signal tower in America and it was used in the 1800s to monitor ships nearby. Today it is a museum, and admission is free of charge. To learn more about The Portland Observatory, click here

 

The Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine. Unfortunately visitors cannot go inside the lighthouse itself, but they can take lots of photos and visit the nearby museum. The lighthouse is adjacent to Fort Williams Park which offers picnic facilities, hiking, sports and recreation areas, historic structures and beautiful ocean views. 

 

Explore the Casco Bay Islands, a group of islands located just off the coast, six of which are accessible by ferry year-round. Great Diamond Island is home to the historic Fort McKinley and is lauded for its quintessential Maine landscape. Cars are not allowed, so walking, biking and golf carts are the modes of transportation to get around. Stay for the weekend at the Inn at Diamond Cove, which offers many activities and dining options. Nearby Chebeague Island offers a storied history. The island is known for its stone sloppers - men that transported construction materials for 19th century ships, as well as the granite for the Washington Monument. Peaks Island features cafes, shops, museums and galleries in addition to beaches. 

 

A popular excursion in Casco Bay is a Maine Lobster Boat Tour. Guests enjoy learning about a day in the life of a Maine Lobsterman and what it takes to bring in the haul. Check out this video to learn more. 

 


Fans of trains will enjoy a visit to The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum. The collection consists of passenger and freight equipment, as well as artifacts from the 2 ft narrow gauge railways that ran in the state of Maine in the late 19th and early 20th century. Train rides on a historic two-foot gauge railroad are also offered. To see some of the trains in action, click here.

 


If you have a few days in the area consider a visit to the Portland Museum of Art, the oldest public art institution in Maine. The collection includes more the 22,000 pieces of art dating from the 18th century until present. To learn more, click here

 

One of my favorite things about traveling is trying the local cuisine. For some food and restaurant recommendations in Portland check out this video…...

 

….and for a wonderful general overview of the city and its history, click here


Virtual Vacation: Montreal, Canada


 By: Katy DeHaven

Continuing our Canada & New England cruise port-of-call series we are going to head west of Quebec City and check out Montreal. Montreal most often appears on cruise itineraries as an embarkation and/or debarkation port, which is nice because you can tack on a few days before or after your cruise vacation to explore the city.  

Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and the largest in the province of Quebec. The city is considered the number one host city in North America for International events. The city is home to the famous Cirque de Soleil, hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics and also hosted Expo 67, the most successful world’s fair in the 20th century. French is the official language here, but pretty much everyone is bilingual in English and French. 

 

The centerpiece of the city is the summit and surroundings of Mount Royal. At 692 acres this expansive city park offers sightseeing in every direction, forested pathways, picnicking in the summer, and skating, skiing or sliding in the winter. Enjoy this virtual fall hike through the park.



 

Just a few blocks from the park is the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts) which was founded in 1860. It is the largest art museum in Canada by gallery space, and the permanent collection includes over 44,000 works. The museum also offers exhibitions on tour, and special programming for children. To check out some of the works of art within the museum click here

 


Check out Montreal’s Underground City, most of the downtown area is interconnected by underground paths so you don’t have to go out on a rainy day or during the cold in the winter. The tunnels form a whole new city with shopping malls, parking lots, restaurants and even fountains. Check out this map of the area. 

 


Considered to be one of the most important botanical gardens in the world due to its extensive collections and facilities, the Montreal Botanical Gardens is comprised of 75 hectares of thematic gardens and greenhouses. In addition the Botanical Gardens offer fun and unique programming year round for children and families. For a wonderful tour of the gardens, please click here

 


Guided tours are available of Parc Olympique the multi-purpose stadium where the 1976 Olympic Games was held. In addition to hosting tours, the site is still used today for sporting and other events. The Montreal Tower is also part of the complex, at 165 meters it is the tallest inclined tower in the world. It has an 45-degree awe-inspiring angle, which is particularly amazing when you consider the Leaning Tower of Pisa’s tilt is only 5 degrees. 

 

Take a street art tour of Saint-Laurent and its accompanying alleyways. View graffiti art from artists both recognized and raw. The area is also known for it food, expanded bar terraces and street fairs. Click here to explore Mural Fest 2020.

 


Wander the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal. The area was established in the 17th century by the first settlers of New France. Today you will find some of the cities best restaurants, shopping, historic structures and many attractions. Here you will also find Montreal’s oldest Catholic Church, Notre-Dame Basilica. The church is know for its intricately designed interior, which includes stained glass chronicling the city’s history. For a tour and to learn more, click here

 


Visit the Montreal Biodome, an indoor zoo and aquarium which hosts recreations of four different ecosystems in North America, plus some Sub-Antarctic Islands. The structure was originally built for the 1976 Summer Olympics, housing the judo and cycling events. Today it is home to more than 200 different animal species and 500 different plant species. The Biodome just underwent a two-year renovation, click here to learn more about the project and here for a peak inside.  

 


Fans of Cirque du Soleil will surely want to see a show in the city where it all began, coming in the Spring of 2021 is Under the Same Sky, Cirque du Soleil’s newest show. Pre-COVID tours were very, very limited, and currently they are canceled, but you can check out this visit to the International Headquarters of Cirque du Soleil in Montreal. 

 

To try some classic Montreal fare head to this combination of distinctive neighborhoods, Mile End, the Plateau and the McGill Ghetto. This area is known to have the best of the best in signature dishes; Fairmount and St-Viateur for fresh bagels, Schwartz’s for Montreal-style meat, and La Banquise for poutine. Begin or end you food tour with a stop at Wilensky’s for their Light Lunch. Check out this video for some other sweet treats and see how the St-Viateur makes their bagels, the 30 different options of Poutine available at La Banquise and how Schwartz’s smokes their meat. 

 For a great overview of the city watch this video and for a peak of what the city looks like during the holiday season click here


Monday, October 5, 2020

Best Punta Cana All Inclusive Resort

 



This video has the best all inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We'll check out resorts in Cap Cana, Uvero Alto and Bavaro Beach.

Cap Cana is a private community located very close to the Punta Cana airport. You can be from the airport to the resort in 10 - 15 minutes. The best all inclusive Cap Cana resorts are Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Sanctuary Cap Cana.

Uvero Alto is further from the Punta Cana airport - about 35 minutes. Uvero Alto is more secluded with tan sand and stronger currents. If you like waves, you'll like this area better than Bavaro. The best all inclusive resorts in Uvero Alto are Nickelodeon Punta Cana and Now Onyx. 

Bavaro Beach is the best beach area in Punta Cana. This area has white sand beaches.  These beaches can be more crowded than the Uvero Alto area. The best all inclusive resorts on Bavaro Beach are Iberostar Grand Bavaro Beach and Majestic Mirage.

Best Jamaica All Inclusive Resort

 





This video highlights the best all inclusive resorts in Montego Bay/ Rose Hall, Negril and Ocho Rios.

 Montego Bay and Rose Hall are areas closest to the Montego Bay airport. This is the north coast of Jamaica. The area has some of the larger resorts. The best all inclusive resorts in Rose Hall are Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall and Jewel Grande.

 Negril is the home to Seven Mile Beach.  The best all inclusive Negril resorts are located about an hour and a half from the Montego Bay airport. The best all inclusive Negril resorts are Azul Negril and Sunset at the Palms.

 Ocho Rios is Jamaica's home base for adventure. This is the area you want to stay in if you love excursions. The best all inclusive Ocho Rios resorts are Moon Palace Jamaica and Sandals Royal Plantation.



Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Quebec City, Quebec

 



By Katy DeHaven

Continuing our look at ports of call found on Canada and New England itineraries we are next going to take a look at Québec City, Québec, Canada. 

 

Québec City is one of the largest and most expensive cities in Canada, most of the residents speak French and only about 1.5 percent of the population speaks English. The city is known for the world-famous Château Frontenac, a château-style hotel in historic Old Québec, built by the Pacific Railroad Company in 1893. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1981. The city is also known for its European architecture and fortifications. The city is considered to be a piece of Europe in Canada. If you get a chance to visit this beautiful city make sure to try the local cuisine!



 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Best Riviera Maya All Inclusive Resorts

 


Riviera Maya is the general name for the large area of the East Coast of Mexico. This area covers south of Cancun all the way down to Tulum including Playa de Carmen and Puerto Morales. Maroma and Tulum have some of the best beach areas in this region. The resorts here tend to be more spread out with great landscaping and large winding pools. 

I think the best resorts in this area are: 

  • Secrets Maroma Adults Only All Inclusive Resort 
  • Unico 2087 Adults Only All Inclusive Resort
  • Hard Rock Riviera Maya Family All Inclusive Resort with an Adults Only section 
  • Generations Family All Inclusive Resort 
  • Sandos Caracol Eco All Inclusive Resort 
Check out this video to learn what's so great about these resorts: 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Halifax, Nova Scotia

 


By Katy DeHaven

A few weeks ago we took a look at Bar Harbor, Maine for our virtual vacation. Normally this time of year is a popular time for Canada and New England cruises. In honor of that I thought we could look at another port of call that often appears on those itineraries, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 


This coastal city is Nova Scotia’s capital and home to the second-largest natural harbor in the world. It became a permanent British settlement in 1749, and was named for the 2nd earl of Halifax. This city played a key role in the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic, as it sent three ships to recover bodies and it is the final resting place for many unclaimed victims.

Angie visited Halifax on a Canada / New England cruise and shares out she spent her day: 



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Best Cancun All Inclusive Resorts

 


It's always hard to pick a favorite, but I narrowed down all the Cancun Hotel Zone all inclusive resorts to the four I like best. 

Cancun Hotel Zone  features a long stretch of white sand beach, blue water and it's close to the airport. It's close to luxury shopping. The Cancun Hotel Zone tends to have a strong current so water activities like kayaking and paddle boarding may be limited.

The four best resorts, in my opinion, are:
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun
  • Fiesta Americana Condesa
  • Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun
  • Live Aqua Cancun

Take a look: 


To sign up to have weekly resort tours delivered to your inbox, click here. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Nashville, Tennessee



Virtual Vacation:Nashville, Tennessee 

By: Katy DeHaven 

We are back in the USA for this week’s virtual vacation and headed to the capital of country music and also the capital of the state of Tennessee, Nashville. 

 

Founded in 1779, the city is named for Francis Nash, a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Situated on the Cumberland River, the city is a center for music, healthcare, publishing, banking, transportation industries, and also home to a number of colleges and universities. Let’s check it out!

 

A great way to explore this music city is the Hop On Hop Off Trolley Tour . There are 14 stops around the city offering access to more than 100 points of interest. One of the most popular stops is Broadway, the major thoroughfare through Nashville, and the Lower Broadway area is an entertainment district known for its honky tonks and live country music. For a great informational video on the Lower Broadway area, click here

 

Music and history lovers will enjoy spending a few hours at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum located near Broadway. The museum has amassed one the world’s largest musical collections with more than 2.5 million priceless artifacts. The museum offers a video section on their website with pre-recorded live performances, interviews, songwriter sessions, podcasts and more. The museum’s digital archives with photos, recordings, objects and more can be found here. For a virtual tour of the museum itself, click here

 

Once the home to the Grand Ole Opry is Ryman Auditorium. Tours are offered for a behind the scenes glimpse, but one of the best ways to experience the venue is to see a live concert. The auditorium continues to host contemporary artists like Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, and Luke Combs. For a peak inside, click here

 


The Johnny Cash Museum boasts the largest collection of memorabilia, including films, handwritten notes and letters penned by Cash himself. Exhibit highlights include his years in the Air Force, his marriage to June Carter, and his famous prison concert tour. To learn about the Johnny Cash and the museum click here


On the second floor of the Johnny Cash Museum you will find the Patsy Cline Museum where visitors can explore the life of one of country music’s top female entertainers of all time. To learn about Patsy Cline and the Patsy Cline Museum click here

 

Family-friendly, the Frist Art Museum is dedicated to presenting a changing schedule of exhibitions from local, regional, national, and international art sources. The museum has 30 interactive art-making stations, educational programs, and offers live music on Thursday and Friday evenings. The museum has its own YouTube channel where you can learn more about the museum itself and the exhibits. 

 

Centennial Park, located in Nashville’s West End Neighborhood, once served as a fairground, a racetrack and the location for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition.  Today in the summertime visitors to the park will find Shakespeare in the Park, craft fairs, and local festivals. Park amenities include a one mile walking trail, a sportsplex, lake, historical monuments, sunken garden, volleyball courts, and a dog park. The centerpiece of the park is a replica of the Parthenon. The original is located in Athens, Greece. This Parthenon facility in Centennial Park also serves as Nashville’s art museum.

 

Music Valley is home to the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly American country music stage concert. It was founded in 1925 as a one-hour radio barn dance on WSM, it is the longest-running radio broadcast in US History. Guided backstage tours are available of the theater. Check out this tour and brief history of Grand Ole Opry. Music Valley is also home to a slew of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, shopping and the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Check out this video tour of the area. 

 

Just northeast of Nashville, is The Hermitage the home of our 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson from 1804 until his death in 1845. The current home was actually built between 1819 and 1821, and in 1831 the home went under a major remodel with the addition of 1st floor wings added to the east and west side of the home and a two-story portico. A fire in 1834 heavily damaged the home, it was remodeled again and completed in 1837. The Hermitage has its own YouTube channel where you can learn more about Andrew Jackson and his home. 

 

For a wonderful overview of the city, check out Expedia’s Nashville Travel Guide. There are also a lot of great little towns within two hours of Nashville to explore if you are looking for some more Tennessee history and culture. Check this link to see if any of these are of interest. My vote would be a day trip to Pulaski to tour the home of Frank Mars, founder of Mars candy, followed by a stop at Big Creek Winery. What would be your pick?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Cabo All Inclusive Resort: Sandos Finisterra | COVID Travel Vlog

 


I visited Sandos Finisterrs Cabo on a travel agent rate in August 2020. 

Sandos Finisterra is a Cabo all inclusive resort for families. Sandos Finisterras has a terrific, unique location with both a view of the marina and a beach front. You cannot swim at Sandos Finisterra because of the strong current. You can enjoy a walk on the beach and the sound of the waves crashing to the shore. 

You'll find four restaurants plus a coffee shop and a pizza quick service at the Sandos Finisterra pool.

Take a peek: 



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Cathedrals of Europe

Virtual Vacation: Cathedrals of Europe by Katy DeHaven



For this week's virtual trip I thought we would do something a little different and take a look at the top 10 best cathedrals in Europe. This list come to us from USA Today and National Geographic. These are the European cathedrals that best represent the history, architectural wonders and the imagination of the country in which they are located. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Cabo All Inclusive: Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort



Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort is an adults only all inclusive resort about 45 minutes from the SJD Cabo Airport. The resort sits right in the middle of a 27 hole golf course. You can watch golfers on the 6th hole from the Preferred Club infinity pool. 

Secrets Cabo has  five restaurants plus a coffee shop and poolside grill. The only dining option that requires reservations is the teppanyaki tables at the Asian restaurants. We thought the food in general was very good. We didn't love the steak. We've often had trouble getting "good" steaks in Mexico. 

We stayed in August 2020. I was very impressed with the COVID precautions. Plexiglass was added to the check in, the bars, and the hostess stands. All the staff are wearing masks all the time. Hand sanitizer is offered at the entrance at each restaurant and when ordering at the bar. Bar waiters will also bring it to you.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Denver, Colorado



Virtual Vacation: Denver, Colorado 
By: Katy DeHaven 

A few weeks ago we visited Baltimore, MD for our virtual vacation and I could not believe all that there was to see and do there. I found Denver to be much the same with tons and tons of attractions. I just picked out some highlights below, but for even more to explore check out this website.

Denver is known as The Mile High City, because its elevation is exactly 5,280 feet or 1 mile above sea level. Annually the city has 300 days of sunshine with a mild and dry climate. This outdoor city is known for its cultural attractions, craft breweries, music scene and world class dining. The city has one of the largest park systems in the country with more than 200 parks within the city. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Barcelona, Spain

If you have read our last couple virtual vacations we have been checking out Spain. First we went to Madrid and then we traveled from Madrid to the Costa del Sol. Now we are going to hit one more city in Spain before we leave, and it is listed in the top 20 destinations worldwide according U.S. News and World Report. Coming in at number 11 is Barcelona! My husband and son spent a few days exploring this amazing city last summer. After hearing of their adventures, I was pretty jealous! 



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

COVID Travel: Should I travel now to Mexico or the Caribbean?

In this COVID Travel video, I answer the questions: 
  • Should I travel now? 
  •  Where can I travel right now? 
  • Can I travel to Mexico?




If you want me to email you a copy of the entry requirement graphic and links to all the details, click here.