Monday, September 27, 2021

Reflections on my Celebrity Apex cruise to Greece and Croatia

 


In this blog, I’ll share a couple lessons and things that surprised me about Greece and Croatia.

First, lessons:

1. Traveling right now requires extraordinary flexibility and patience. Guidelines are changing daily. I recommend keeping a loose eye on the changing requirements. About 10 days before your trip is a good time to really start paying attention to the testing and entry requirements for the country you are visiting and the cruise line you are sailing on if you are cruising. I do not recommend booking travel at this time if you are not vaccinated. The requirements are changing too quickly.

2. Be prepared to test and test and test again even if you are vaccinated. For our Greece trip, we took a test before we left for peace of mind. We took a test before we boarded cruise ship. We took a test at the end of the first week. We took a second test at the end of the second week both to re-enter Greece and so that we could fly back to the USA.

 

Now, the good surprises. Athens, Greece  – One of the “must see” sites in Athens in the Parthenon. Did you know the reason enough of the structure remained to reconstruct is because it was used as a church and the a mosque and then a  munitions depot? If you do visit, I recommend entering from the South entrance so you can view the two theaters. We visited just before sunset to capture that gorgeous glow on the buildings.

 



Sunday, September 26, 2021

Cabo Excursions for Groups

 



Home to beautiful beaches, and sunny weather almost year round. Cabo is a great spot for your group vacation. Check out these great excursions to enhance your group getaway!



If your group likes to get its adrenaline pumping while on vacation check out the Los Cabos Zip Line Tour. There are seven zip lines 300 feet above the surface with speeds up to 50 miles an hour. Enjoy birds eye views of the Baja Desert Mountains and natural oasis. There is also a suspension bridge, optional rappelling opportunity and a Tarzan Swing for kids only. This tour is offered daily and lasts 2 hours with three departure times.

How about a private beach day for your group plus some sightseeing? Enjoy a 45 minute boat ride out to The Arch of Cabo San Lucas before a visit to the Glass Blowing Factory, and a Tequila Tasting. End your day at Chileno Bay for some relaxation and snorkeling. A boxed lunch is included. This tour lasts 5 hours and is offered daily for up to 10 guests. 

Experience Cabo on this Art and Beer Tour. See the famous Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo and experience the art, folklore, music, and local food stands. Visit Baja Brewing, a local restaurant and brewery and enjoy some pizza from their wood burning pizza oven. This tour is only offered on Thursdays and lasts 5 hours with a departure time of 3:30 pm. 

This is the perfect tour for not only the experienced cyclist but the first-time mountain biker as well. Explore the outback of Cabo on a mountain bike! Expert guides will fit you on a modern, all-terrain bike before you head out on cactus-lined sandy tracks that lead to a stunning hidden beach. The ride concludes with a Mexican feast and drinks. This tour lasts 3 hours and a half hours and is offered daily.

An alternate way to explore the outback of Cabo is via ATV, race through desert pathways, mountains, dry rivers beds and end up at the beach. Visit the Herpatario after your tour for some great photos with native birds, iguanas and other species. Tacos and beer are also available but not included in the tour price. This tour lasts 4 hours and departs daily at 9 am, noon, and 3 pm.

For a more unique way to explore Cabo, how about a Camel tour? Your included tour transportation will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the National Park to get ready for your tour. You will spend time petting, feeding and interacting with you camel before riding along one of the most beautiful beaches in Cabo. Enjoy incredible views of sand dunes, the ocean and dry riverbeds. End your day with a visit to the National Parks included Zoo and participate in tequila tasting while you indulge in some tacos. This tour is offered daily and lasts 2 hours with multiple departure times throughout the day. 

Spend the day Sport Fishing with your group. Fish for Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and many more species from the best fishing spots in Los Cabos. This tour is available daily and can be booked as a half day or full day tour for groups of up to 10 people. 

Explore the underwater world of Cabo San Lucas on a private snorkel tour for up to 10 people from a private boat. Examine the many species of tropical fish, ocean flora and fauna with an experienced guide. This tour lasts 5 hours and is offered daily with 3 departure times available. 

Enjoy dinner with your group and an open bar on a Luxury Sunset Cruise aboard the Tu Enamorado, a beautifully crafted sailing yacht. See the scenic view of the Sea of Cortez, magnificent rock formations and breathtaking sunsets. Be welcomed on board with a cocktail and antipasto platter. For dinner savor in a jumbo shrimp kabob over a beef filet with organic green salad. Vegan and white meat options are also available. This tour lasts 3 hours and is offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings only.

If your group likes to party check out this Weekend Booze Party Cruise! Cabo is famous for its nightlife, and one of the best traditions is a floating nightclub. Get to know other cruisers through fun games and dancing with the latest hits and pop favorites provided by an awesome DJ. This tour is offered on weekends only. 

Honolulu & Oahu Hawaii Excursions for Families

 



Oahu is the 3rd largest of the Hawaiian Islands and the location of the state capital, Honolulu. There is so much to see and do on this island including Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, Diamond Head, Dole Plantation, Waikiki Beach, and much, much more! Here are some great tour suggestions for families vacationing on this beautiful island.


If your time in Honolulu is short this is a great tour to hit the highlights! This 6 hour tour includes visits to the Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl Cemetery, Iolani Palace, King Kaemhameha Statue, Kawaiahao Church, Hawaii State Capitol, and Honolulu Hale. Round-trip transportation is provided in air-conditioned comfort. This tour is offered every day except Sundays and Wednesdays. No minimum age. For a more in-depth tour of just Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, and the USS Battleship Missouri Museum, check out this tour. It is offered every day but Monday and Wednesday and lasts 7.5 hours. 

If you are looking to check out the island of Oahu consider this Grand Circle Island TourStops on this scenic, full-day tour include Halong “Blow Hole” Lookout, Waimanalo Two, Nuuanu Pali Lookout, Byodo In Temple, Kualoa Ranch, Laie Hawaii Mormon Temple, North Shore Surfing Beaches, Dole Plantation, Chinaman’s Hat, Diamond Head, and Kahala Estates. This tour lasts 9 hours, and is offered every day but Wednesday. Minimum age is 4. 

Enjoy a fun evening of food and entertainment at this Orchid Luau with Center Seating. This luau package includes middle seating, a delicious buffet, a fresh lei greeting, and lots of entertainment. This tour is offered every day except Monday and lasts 4 hours. No minimum age, child pricing applies to ages 4-12.  Deluxe Front seating with table service instead of buffet and wing seating packages are also available. 

On the Polynesian Cultural Tour you and your family can learn about the Polynesian culture through an informative orientation and hands-on activities while visiting seven different Polynesian villages. This tour lasts 3 hours and is only offered on select dates. Please check calendar for availability. Minimum age is 11. 

On this Kualoa Ranch Jurassic Valley Zipline tour enjoy 7 exciting tandem sections, 2 suspension bridge and 3 mini nature hiking trails. If your surroundings look familiar its because you are in Ka’a’awa Valley where many movies have been filmed including Jurassic World. This tour lasts 3 hours. Minimum height is 4.8 feet and maximum weight is 280 lbs. 

Another great way to explore Kualoa Ranch, this time from the ground, is an E-Mountain Bike Tour  Peddle assisted and get close to nature on a state-of-the-art eco-friendly eBike. Tour time includes a safety briefing. This tour lasts 2 hours with start times at 9 am and 3:15 pm. Minimum age is 10. 

For a great activity for younger children check out Pony Rides on Oahu  Parents can walk alongside their child and take pictures, older children and adults also have the option to ride a horse alongside for an additional fee. Children under 6 are lead by a wrangler.  Children are allowed to feed and pet their horse. This experience lasts 30 minutes and is offered several times throughout the day for children ages 2-7. 

Another option for horseback riding is a combo tour with a Legacy Tree Planting Experience. Visit the historic Gunstock Ranch on a guided horseback ride and leave your mark by planting a Legacy Tree. Travel up mountainside trails and see stunning views of he ocean, coastline and hills and valleys of the Koolau Mountains. On the return trip descend into the Hawaiian Legacy Forest to select and plant your own tree. Using RFID technology you will be able to the location and growth of the tree you planted throughout its lifetime. This tour lasts 2.5 hours and is most days of the week. Minimum age is 7.

On this Swim with the Dolphins tour  snorkel and swim with dolphins in their natural habitat in Oahu. Also explore the beautiful reefs teeming with tropical fish and sea turtles, enjoy sea kayaks, stand up paddle boards and a 20-foot waterslide! This tour is offered twice a day and lasts 4 hours. Minimum age is 2.

Sail along the coast of Waikiki during this Catamaran Snorkel and Lunch Experience. Snorkeling with green sea turtles and during whale season (December through April) the boat will stop to watch these incredible mammals. Lunch, drinks, and snorkel equipment is included. This tour lasts 3 hours with a departure time of 11 am. No minimum age. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

All Inclusive Resorts near Town

 



One criticism of all inclusive resorts is that you don't get an authentic experience. The resorts in many places are geared towards Americans or Europeans. One solution is to book an all inclusive resort right in the middle of the action. 

You can mix up your days with relaxation at the resort and exploring a new town. Here's three recommendations for a home base as your explore Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Secrets Vallarta Bay and Now Amber Vallarta are in downtown Puerto Vallarta. This offers a great home base for exploration. This also means the beach will more crowded with vendors and the public than a typical all inclusive resort. If you want something more boutique, Villa Premiere is a great choice. 

Playa del Carmen, Mexico - Hilton Playa del Carmen and Panama Jack Playa del Carmen are just steps from restaurants and shops. Panama Jack is a budget friendly family all inclusive option. Hilton is also all inclusive, but for adults only.




Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Moon Palace Jamaica is close to the cruise port and downtown Ocho Rios. You can cross right out of the hotel's gate into a bustling street with shops and restaurants. I loved watching the cruise ships arriving and debark each day, but that interrupt that ocean view.




Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cap Cana All Inclusive Resorts

 


Cap Cana is an exclusive area close to the Punta Cana airport with great beaches, a golf club, and marina area with shops and restaurants. This area does tend to get a bit more seaweed during hurricane season so it's ideal to visit between November to May. 

Cabo Excursions for Couples


The picturesque coastline of Cabo makes is a great location for a romantic getaway. Whether it is fine dining barefoot on the beach, horseback riding along the coast, or a couples massage, Cabo is a great destination for your next vacation together. Here are some great excursion options for just the two of you.

Sail past Lover’s Beach on this romantic sunset cruise aboard a luxury French-made sailboat. Enjoy an open bar and a delicious array of appetizers as you watch a romantic Cabo sunset. This tour last two and a half hours and is offered most days of the week (check calendar for availability). For information on a private sunset sailing, check out this tour

If you and your significant other like to get your adrenaline pumping while on vacation check out the Los Cabos Zip Line Tour. There are seven zip lines 300 feet above the surface with speeds up to 50 miles an hour. Enjoy birds eye views of the Baja Desert Mountains and natural oasis. There is also a suspension bridge, optional rappelling opportunity and a Tarzan Swing for kids only. This tour is offered daily and lasts 2 hours with three departure times.

Explore the city of Cabo, just the two of you on this private guided half day tour. Stops include Cabo San Lucas Main Square, Glass Blowing Factory, Tequila Tasting, Glass Bottom Boat Tour including Los Cabos Arch and Lands End. This tour is offered daily.

Experience Cabo on this Art and Beer Tour. See the famous Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo and experience the Art, Folklore, music, and local food stands. Visit Baja Brewing, a local restaurant and brewery and enjoy some pizza from their wood burning pizza oven. This tour is only offered on Thursdays and lasts 5 hours with a departure time of 3:30 pm. 

Ride a horse on one of the most secluded, iconic and beautiful beaches in in Los Cabos. Enjoy amazing views of the Sand Dunes, the Pacific Ocean and the Dry Riverbeds. Visit the National Parks, including the Zoo and finish off your day with tacos and a tequila tasting. This tour lasts 4 hours and is offered daily with 3 departure times. 

Spend some unforgettable time getting to know dolphins in their natural habitat. Experience a foot push, dorsal tow, a kiss, a hug and play a series of interactive games as you get to learn about these tender animals. This experience lasts one hour and is offered Monday through Friday at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.

The perfect tour for not only the experienced cyclist but the first-time mountain biker as well. Explore the outback of Cabo on a mountain bike! Expert guides will fit you on a modern, all-terrain bike before heading out on cactus-lined sandy tracks leading to a stunning hidden beach. The ride concludes with a Mexican feast and drinks. This tour lasts 3 hours and a half hours and is offered daily.

An alternate way to explore the outback of Cabo is via ATV, race through desert pathways, mountains, dry rivers beds and the beach. Visit the Herpatario after your tour for some great photos with native birds, iguanas and other species. Tacos and beer are also available but not included in the tour price. This tour lasts 4 hours and departs daily at 9 am, noon, and 3 pm.

See Cabo from a different point of view while driving your own 4x4 Jeep. Stops include Fox Canyon to see the waterfalls, lunch at a local restaurant, and the beautiful town of Santiago. This tour is offered daily and lasts 7 hours. 

If your trip to Cabo is between December and April why not take advantage of a whale watching tour? The waters around Cabo are perfect for whale watching this time of year. See the whales swim, breach and perform. You will even have the opportunity to listen to the whales communicate underwater utilizing hydrophone listening technology. This tour lasts two hours and is offered daily from mid December through mid April. 

Explore Cabo via two-person kayak, visit unspoiled beaches, the famous Arch, the Sea Lion Colony, and Lover’s Beach. Also included is a guided snorkel adventure. This tour is offered daily and lasts two and half hours. 


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Are upgrades and add-ons worth it?


 I got a very good question on a recent YouTube video: 



I think this is really everyone's question: Is this going to be worth my money and time? 

The most common add-on is upgrading to a Club level room or a suite. The common benefits of an upgrade to a club level or suite are: 
  • Better location or view within the resort 
  • Access to excusive areas of the resort including special pools, restaurants or lounges 
  • Concierge service to help with dining reservations 
  • Reserved bali beds or cabanas around the resort 

I can honestly say this is not worth it at some resorts and a must do at others. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Cabo Excursions for Families

 



Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Sur, Cabo San Lucas is known for its beaches, scuba diving, “El Arco de Cabo San Lucas", and marine life. Cabo is less than a 2 hour and 30 minute flight from major western US cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Now let’s see what types of activities this area has to offer families!


Enjoy a guided snorkel cruise with lunch and visit Cabo’s world- famous Arch at Land’s End, followed by a scenic cruise up the Sea of Cortez and time for snorkeling. A grilled lunch will be served with an open bar, and music provided by a DJ. This tour lasts 3 hours, and is offered most days of the month. No minimum age. 

For a more unique way to explore Cabo, how about a Camel tour? Your included tour transportation will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the National Park to get ready for your tour. You will spend time petting, feeding and interacting with you camel before riding along one of the most beautiful beaches in Cabo. Enjoy incredible views of sand dunes, the ocean and dry riverbeds. End your day with a visit to the National Parks included Zoo and participate in tequila tasting while you indulge in some tacos. This tour is offered daily and lasts 2 hours with multiple departure times throughout the day. Minimum age is 5.

Why not start your day with Whale Watching & Breakfast cruise? Board a twin-level power catamaran and begin your cruise with a scenic view of Cabo’s famous Arch and beautiful coastline. Enjoy a breakfast of coffee, waffles, eggs, chilaquiles, beans, toast, mimosas, and Bloody Marys. After breakfast knowledgeable marine naturalists will educate you about the whales as you see them in their natural habitat. This tour lasts 2 hours and is offered daily from mid-December through mid-April. Minimum age is 6. If early mornings are not in your vacations plans there are other options to go whale watching later in the day. You can also do a whale watching and dolphin watching combo tour. 

For a more immersive dolphin experience consider this Dolphin Swim and Ride tour  Participants in this tour will get to try the boogie board push, belly ride and much more. This tour is offered Monday-Friday with several start times throughout the day. Minimum age is 8. For a Dolphin Encounter with no swimming required check out this tour. Minimum age is 6.

If your family loves to get their adrenaline pumping while on vacation check out the Los Cabos Zip Line Tour. There are seven zip lines 300 feet above the surface with speeds up to 50 miles an hour. Enjoy birds eye views of the Baja Desert Mountains and natural oasis. There is also a suspension bridge, optional rappelling opportunity and a Tarzan Swing for kids only. This tour is offered daily and lasts 2 hours with three departure times. Minimum age is 7.

Hop aboard a pirate ship and learn about Cabo’s pirate history and secrets on this Yo Ho Show Sunset Dinner & Pirate Cruise. Hoist the sails and take off for this wild pirate party. Watch the famous Baja sunset as your enjoy BBQ ribs, chicken, and an open bar. After dinner chant, dance and shout with the pirates and have fun as only pirates can. Guest participation is highly recommended. This tour last 2 hours and 15 minutes and departs at 6 pm. No minimum age. If you are interested in a lunch time pirate experience check out this tour

Explore Cabo just off the coast on this Glass Bottom Boat Tour. This 45 minute boat ride starts with a stop at Pelican Rock. During the tour see colorful fish through the glass bottom of the boat. Continue on to Divorce Beach, Lovers Beach, Sea Lions Colony and of course the Cabo Arch. If conditions allow you can stay on at Lovers Beach and return on a later boat. This tour is offered daily and has 7 departures throughout the day. No minimum age. 

Todos Santos is located just one hour away from Cabo near the shore. This colorful town is always in a relaxed state. Visit several points of interest such as The Art Walk of Todos Santos, the blanket factory, Hotel California and the beautiful mission of Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar. You will be able to taste different types of Mexican and regional candy. There is also time for shopping and lunch on your own. This tour is offered Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with a departure time of 9 am. Minimum age is 6. 

Discover Scuba - Perfect for those that just want to try out Scuba Diving without the commitment of certification. A great quick and easy introduction to the underwater world. This program takes place in either a pool, off a beach or from a dive boat. Minimum age is 10.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Caribbean Cruise Packing Must Haves

 



In addition to the Trips with Angie Caribbean Cruise packing list found here, I brought along some great Amazon finds on last week's Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Magic. 

These are Amazon affiliate links. 

1. Metallic Magnetic Hooks - The walls are all metal so magnetic hooks are super helpful to keep items off the floor. We bought ten small hooks. I used them to hang out bathing suits to dry, our face masks by the door, and my purses organized. 


2. Speaking of bathing suits, I love this bikini, swim shirt and swim hat. I am a huge proponent of swim shirts and swim hats.  I am terrible about reapplying sunscreen. This keeps the sunburn away. 



3. I am slowly replacing a lot of my t-shirts with dri-fit or moisture wicking shirts. The Caribbean heat and humidity are no joke. This helps wick away the sweat. 



4. For packing, I love using packing cubes. Cruise cabins tend to have more shelves than drawers. I keep the clothes packed in the cubes to keep them organized. I designate one shelf for dirty clothes. About halfway through the trip, I empty the remaining clean clothes out of the packing cubes and start packing the dirty clothes. 



5. I also love a good sleeveless dress to dress up for dinner. This option packed beautifully.