The Perfect Family Vacation Fantasy

When the perfect family vacation comes to mind, it could be filled with thoughts of smiles and laughter, excitement and thrills, and of course, something for everyone.  Is this perfect family vacation just a dream?  Not if you’re onboard the Disney Fantasy.

With it’s inaugural voyage on March 31, 2012, the Disney Fantasy is the latest mega-ship to cruise the waters of the Caribbean.  While the 130,000-ton ship can carry 4.000 passengers, it’s more important to note that there’s a 1:2.75 passenger to crew/cast ratio onboard the Disney Fantasy meaning your family will get all the attention it deserves.

Alternating between 7-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, Disney Fantasy departs Port Canaveral, FL, for ports of call including Dutch St. Maarten; St. Thomas/St. John, USVI; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

With spacious staterooms decorated with a traditional nautical flair, families can choose from economical inside cabins to family staterooms complete with private verandahs.  When it comes time for dining, the Disney Fantasy allows your family to dine where you want on any given night – the fun Animator’s Palate, elegant Enchanted Gardens, adults-only Remy restaurant, the fairly tale Royal Court, and more - they’re all impressive by any standard.

Since Disney is all about entertainment, the fully trained staff on the Disney Fantasy is able to care for children aged 3-months at It’s a Small World Nursery to age 17 at the trendy Vibe lounge designated for teens only.  While the kids are taken care of, Mom & Dad can enjoy a variety of themed nightclubs & lounges including an Irish Pub and the romantic European-feel of Ooh La La - plus an adults-only swimming pool and lounge area.

Located high atop Deck 12 and offering thrilling ocean views, Disney Fantasy’s AquaDuck juts out from the side of the ship as it sends guests sliding along a 765’ acrylic tube featuring coaster-like twists and turns spanning the height of four ship decks.  And in true Disney fashion, you must be 42” tall to enjoy this ride and if not, there are 3 freshwater swimming pools to splash about in plus numerous other venues like Mr. Toad’s Wild Race and Broadway-style shows including Disney’s Believe and Aladdin.

For more information or to book your perfect family vacation fantasy, visit Disney Cruise Line. Photo Credits:
D23 Expo 2011 - Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Display by PopCultureGeek
TMOMDisney2012-Day 4 313 by DebMomof3 Registered & Protected

Caribbean Honeymoon Secrets: Canouan Island

Your more than perfect wedding day deserves an amazing honeymoon to match.  Not someone else’s at a crowded all-inclusive resort, but the perfect secluded honeymoon destination.

So let’s think small, very small…in fact, only 5 square miles in size to the beautiful Caribbean island of Canouan (pronounced ca-noo-ahn).  As part of St Vincent & the Grenadines, Canouan is known for its untouched natural beauty, world-class water sports, average year round temperature of 81°F, and above all, privacy.

Easily accessible from Barbados, Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and San Juan, Puerto Rico, Canouan currently offers only two exclusive resorts to choose from that are perfect for your private romantic honeymoon. 

As part of the Leading Hotels of the World group, Canouan Resort offers amazing Caribbean Sea views from their spacious 825 square foot Junior Suites and 1,300 square foot Villa Suites that are available will their own private pool.  Canouan Resort offers picturesque white sand beaches, a beautiful church dating back to the 17th century, signature Canouan Resort Spa, along with five restaurants and lounges.

Daily breakfast and private airport transfers are included with Canouan Resort nightly rates starting at $700; for an additional $175 per stay, a honeymoon package is available that includes champagne, a couples massage, romantic candlelit dinner and turndown service.  Stay five nights or more and take advantage of the Jet Package that comes with complimentary round trip flights from Barbados. 

As a less expensive honeymoon option, Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club offers a selection of beachfront guest rooms and suites all featuring tropical ocean views.  The resort features two restaurants, two lounges, and a beachfront massage room.  Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club offers two inclusive meal plan options – their B&B plan than includes breakfast only and their Full American Plan (F.A.P.) that consists of three meals daily. 

Honeymooners can enjoy both a complimentary bottle of wine upon check-in and upgrade to a suite when staying at the Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club.  Stay seven nights on their F.A.P. plan and enjoy free return flights from Barbados with their Flight Promotion.  Nightly rates at Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club start at $290 (B&B rate) or $380 (F.A.P.). 

Both of these Canouan Island resorts offer 18-hole championship golfing at the Grenadines Estate Golf Club designed by famed golfing architect Jim Fazio.  Each resort also offers non-motorized watersports including amazing snorkeling and scuba diving at the island’s coral reef found just offshore. 

For more information, visit Canouan Island Tourism. Photo Credit: IMG_4315a by simonsimages Registered & Protected

Celebrity Millennium 7-Night Alaska Cruise $599!!

It's still not too late to book your Alaska cruise for this summer!  In fact, you can take advantage of the best cruise deals this season, especially onboard the Celebrity Millennium with 7-night cruises from just $599!!  And checking what's available at the time of writing (May 23/12), the June 8th Celebrity Millennium sailing is just $499!!

Departing from either Vancouver, BC, or Seward, AS, this one-way Celebrity Millennium cruise offers your choice of a Northbound or Southbound itinerary.  And don't let the one-way factor deter you from considering this cruise.  Arranging airfare is as easy as contacting your Certified Travel Consultant today to ask about cruise add-on airfares or seat sales.

And just what makes Celebrity Cruises special? This isn't your average cruise line.  While you'll see some glitz & glamour, mostly you'll experience luxurious accommodations and scrumptious meals, with first-class amenities including a Cellar Master's Wine Bar, gelato shop, martini bar and of course, their signature AquaSpa. Oozing style and comfort, the upscale Celebrity Millennium is waiting to welcome you onboard so, what are you waiting for?! :)

Ports of call on these 7-night Alaska Celebrity Millennium cruises include:
  • Seward, AS
  • Hubbard Glacier
  • Juneau, AS
  • Skagway, AS
  • Icy Strait Point
  • Ketchikan, AS
  • Inside Passage
  • Vancouver, BC
Subject to availability, the advertised price is valid for sailings from June 1 to July 13, 2012.  For more information or to book your Alaska Cruise, visit Celebrity Cruises. Registered & Protected

The Bounty of St. Thomas

Sometimes thoughts of the Caribbean conjure up visions of majestic swaying palms, beautiful snow-white sands, azure turquoise waters and pirates.  Or maybe just thoughts of Johnny Depp.

When you’re looking to explore your inner pirate, consider visiting St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands.  Only 2.5 hours from Miami, St. Thomas is easily accessible for a fantastic weekend of duty-free shopping or a full-out Caribbean resort experience – either way for U.S. citizens, there’s no passport required

Rich in history, St. Thomas’s pirating roots date back to the 1600’s with the arrival of Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard, and the somewhat fictional Bluebeard.  Both are said to have laid claim to St. Thomas by establishing structures that are still in existence today.

Built in a strategic position high above Charlotte Amalie Harbor, Blackbeard’s Castle is a U.S. National Landmark offering a combination of accommodations, historical sites, and tourist amenities.  Set amongst beautiful tropical gardens, visitors can enjoy taking photographs alongside the biggest collection of life-size pirate statues in the world. 

The self-guided walking tour at Blackbeard’s Castle allows visitors to explore the grounds at leisure where they’ll discover the Amber Waterfall, shops and refreshments, Caribbean World Amber Museum, the ruins of Pedersen Estate and the impressive Haagensen House, the former estate slave quarters.   Blackbeard’s Castle admission tickets are available for $14 per adult and $5 per child. 

While considered to be just a fictional character, Bluebeard’s Castle is a wonderful example of a 17th century Danish fortress that’s recently undergone a major multi-million dollar renovation.  Also offering amazing views of Charlotte Amalie Harbor below, Bluebeard’s Castle is now a sprawling resort complete with guest villas, a swimming pool, tennis courts and more while showcasing the centuries old watchtower, fortress walls and cannons.

Read more at Roam With the Real Pirates of the Caribbean or find additional information on St. Thomas at Visit USVI. Photo Credits: 
Blackbeard's Castle by Moresheth 
St. Thomas Coral World by Loimere Registered & Protected

What’s New in Caribbean Resorts

Due to its diversity and natural beauty, the Caribbean is one of those destinations that entice visitors to come back time after time.  In the pursuit of attracting new guests and to keep others content, many Caribbean resorts have been undergoing recent renovations and offering cost saving package promotions.  Let’s take a look!

As part of the beautiful French West Indies, St. Barthelemy (also known as St. Barths or St. Barts) has long been the playground of the world’s rich and famous.  The intimate and secluded Hotel Christopher located on Pointe Milou has recently undergone the second phase of a $7 million upgrade.  Offering only 41 rooms & suites, Hotel Christopher has two restaurants, the largest swimming pool on St. Barths, plus an endless array of pampering treatments available at their Art & Bien-Être Spa.  Nightly rates start at €599 (approx. $787).  For more information, visit Hotel Christopher and the St Barth Tourism Committee.

Located in the popular Isla Verde district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the trendy chic San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel has just complete a $2.5 million revamping.  Sporting only 80 luxury guest rooms, San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel offers amazing ocean views from Mist, their rooftop bar & lounge, along with locally sourced dining in the new Zest restaurant.   Extra guest amenities now include local fruits, morning yoga, and more.  Rates start at $199 per night.  For more information, visit San Juan Water Beach Club and Puerto Rico Tourism.

With a recent $2 million face lift, Grand Case Beach Club in French St. Martin is ready to welcome guests to show off their spacious updated rooms and patio décor.  Grand Case Beach Club features two sandy white beaches, dining at the Sunset Café, swimming pool, continental breakfast and more all while being just minutes away from St. Martin’s duty-free shopping and nightlife.  Grand Case Beach Club offers 3 and 7-night Honeymoon Packages that come complete with extras like a floral bouquet, picnic basket and a one-day car rental.  Nightly rates start at $335 whereas Honeymoon Packages start at only $357 per night.  For more information, visit Grand Case Beach Club and the St Martin Tourist Office. Registered & Protected

Wacky Summer Festivals to Enjoy

Summertime is full of fun events showcasing music, culture and good times but there is another crazier side to these long lazy hot days - take a look at these Wacky Summer Festivals across the U.S. to enjoy:

If you have an event you'd like to add, just let me know ;)

Celebrate National Train Day

There is truth in the old saying you'll 'see more on a train' when you're traveling, so why not take the time to enjoy the view as you go along?  Amtrak transports over 28.7 million passengers annually to 500 destinations in 46 states and 3 Canadian provinces.  All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride!

One of the most economical ways to enjoy train travel is by taking advantage of the Amtrak USA Rail Pass available for 15, 30 or 45-days of travel within a 180-day period.  It's a true bargain at only $429, $629 and $829 per adult ($214.50; $324.50; $414.50 for children ages 2 to 15).

Amtrak also offers the California Rail Pass featuring 7 travel days within a 21-day period for only $159 per adult ($80 children).

Just an FYI, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (Boston, New York, Washington) is the most popular Amtrak route in the USA followed by:

Amtrak is celebrating National Train Day on May 12, 2012, with events being held in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.  Take the whole family and enjoy live entertainment, interactive exhibits, activities for the kids and more!

For more information, visit Amtrak and National Train Day. Registered & Protected

Prague in Pictures

These amazing photographs by Moyan_Brenn appear on Registered & Protected

Riding the Wave at Coyote Buttes

Calling all inland surfers!  As part of Zion National Park, the spectacular sandstone rock formation known as 'The Wave' is located near the Utah-Arizona border in Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area on the slopes of Coyote Buttes.

Dating back to the Jurassic age (190 million years ago!), The Wave almost looks like a piece of modern art as it displays its sleek curves and deep rich hues of reds and browns.  Even though it looks structured and chiseled, The Wave is still a very delicate geological formation - in recognition of such, admission to this icon is limited by the Zion National Park Wilderness Reservation System.  Be sure to plan your visit in advance as the park utilizes a lottery system to allow visitor access by which only 10 hiking permits per day are issued.  

A visit to The Wave begins with arriving at the park's Wire Pass Trailhead - from there, it's about a 3 mile hike across the unforgiving desert to The Wave itself.  It's important to come well equipped with a GPS locator, sunscreen, snacks and plenty of water as the trail climbs up 350' while temperatures can rise well above 100°F.  

For more information, visit Zion National Park. Photo Credits:
The Incredible Wave at Coyote Butte North, Arizona by Alaskan Dude
The Second Wave - Just as Impressive as the First! by Alaskan Dude Registered & Protected

Best Free iPad Travel Apps

Travel can sometimes be stressful.  If there's any way to reduce the stress and cut corners by planning ahead or by simply making it easier to make a decision, I'm all for it.  And besides, there's an app for that ;)

Compiled from sources around the web, here are some of the best free iPad travel apps available: Registered & Protected