Last updated on June 17th, 2020 at 11:42 am
Some agencies have eased into the luxury cruise niche, giving them firsthand knowledge about the industry that can remarkably boost your cruising adventures. If you’re relatively new to luxury cruising or indecisive about which lines, ship, suite, or itinerary you should choose, travel agencies can be remarkably helpful and save you time, effort, and expenditure.
Why should I seek help from Travel Agencies?
- Seamless booking, reservations and reputable itineraries
With years of experience under their belts, they can help you identify the best luxury cruise that suits your budget perfectly. Inform them of your dining preferences, and they can easily book you a reservation to the hippest and happening cruise dining options. Or, if you prefer a quieter experience, they can find that for you too.
- Insider Recommendations
They know who’s who and what’s what– Luxury cruise travel agencies go above and beyond by forming relationships not just with their clients but also with people who can make your traveling experience go from okay to fantastic. They’ll help you find the most romantic spots and events on the ship, and any ship-sponsored excursions. They can also provide you information about when or with whom to book a private tour guide for port excursions.
- Untapped Value-added Perks and Discounts
Having a top-down view of pricing and availability, Luxury cruise travel agencies are keen on identifying the best deals and passing the valuable information on to you. They monitor fare increases and decreases and do their best to secure the one that suits you and your cruising needs the best.
Five (5) of the Best Luxury Cruise Travel Agencies
Established in 2007, The Luxury Cruise has set the standard in terms of knowledge and excellent customer service. The Luxury Cruise Company is a division of Wexas Travel and offers river and ocean exploration-style cruises worldwide. They specialize in organizing personalized cruise itineraries aboard the world’s excellent vessels, ocean liners, cruise ships, river cruises, and even private yachts.
They are highly recommended for creating holidays specially crafted for you by combining your cruise with pre-and post-cruise options. With their team of cruise specialists who have a combined 200 years of experience in offering luxury cruises, they have sailed on every ocean and have tried every cruise line; together, they’ve been at sea for over 5,000 days and circumnavigated the globe 45 times. Which only goes to show that their knowledge and experience are second to none.
Cruise Specialists is a part of Travel Leaders Group and have offered its clients topnotch luxury cruises and tours for 30 years. From a seven day sail to the Caribbean, or a months-long World Cruise, you will have an experience second to none. Their experienced Cruise Consultants are skilled at matching you with the vacation that best fits your lifestyle, expectations, and above all, budget.
Their perspective is that a cruise vacation is an investment of the client’s time and money. This philosophy gives them all the more reason to arrange the most exceptional personal service, top industry knowledge, and excellent value for your luxury tour. Intending to aid their clients and assist with avoiding costly mistakes, they help in choosing staterooms or suites that perfectly match their clients, and work closely with the cruise line to ensure that cruisers are well taken care of.
Bertie de L’Arbie founded the agency in 1947 after his service with the United States Army and the O.S.S. during World War II. With 71 years of experience in the travel industry, Santa Barbara Travel is considered the premier luxury cruise travel agency in Santa Barbara County. Their expertise and remarkable connections work hand in hand, ensuring seamless cruise booking experience for their clients. One is automatically considered a VIP on any luxury cruise if you are a client of Santa Barbara Travel.
Also, they are a member of the by-invitation-only luxury travel network, Virtuoso- which is an organization composed of the top travel agencies, travel providers, and destinations worldwide. The said membership allows the agency to host a wide array of unique travel opportunities with exclusive access to booking, reservation, and itineraries.
Specializing in luxury cruises and luxury land travel, Elite Cruises and Travel have been to most of the world’s continents. They have also experienced most cruise lines. Elite Cruises and Travel is a member of travel and vacation selling networks, allowing them to provide their clients with a custom approach service that gives their clientele peace of mind. As experienced travel counselors, their clients can take advantage of exclusive savings and value-added vacation packages. To keep up with the latest travel trends, and be in a position to provide notable advice to their clients, they frequently travel by both land and sea. Their travel specialists take at least two cruises a year and one land tour, to ensure that their service comes from firsthand experience.
Susan Reder & Penny Entin are leading and respected travel industry veterans. They are accompanied by the support of an elite group of cruise travel professionals that has garnered over 500 years of combined experience. The group is Frosch – Classic, which has well-established, and influential relationships with the executives of most major luxury cruise and premium cruise lines. It is their mission to find the perfect fit cruise, tour, and accommodations for each client. They formed a team capable of providing you with the most competitive prices and services that are knowledge and experience-based.
Imagine you’re en route to your most anticipated Caribbean cruise when a storm in Miami suddenly delays your flight. Your travel agency will provide you personalized assistance with utmost care through an agent. You can’t expect to receive that same assistance through an online service. Dozens of online travel sites offer the convenience of booking your travels directly with virtually all cruise lines. But it will never provide the ease of access and peace of mind of knowing that there is an actual person who is mindful of your bookings, reservations, and itineraries. Luxury cruise travel agencies have a better grasp of luxury cruiser’s mindset, and nothing beats human touch in exquisite cruises.
These are just some of the Luxury Cruise Travel Agencies that have done splendid work in the travel industry. We know we barely scratched the surface, it will be great if you let us know more about your experience in getting assistance from luxury cruise travel agencies.
Last updated on March 6th, 2020 at 10:15 am
A quick background…
A Gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten, that includes the exclusion of wheat, rye, and barley. The diet has been known to aid people who are diagnosed with celiac disease managing its symptoms. This form of diet has become widely popular among people who aren’t diagnosed with a gluten-related medical condition. It has been claimed that going through this nutritional regime improves health, aids in weight loss, and increases energy, although more research is still needed.
People who adhere to gluten-free diets and would like to go on a cruise have to go through the extra burden of meal planning, restaurant research, and preparing packed food and items from their kitchens. There is good news for those people as all cruise lines, without exception, now offer gluten-free meals.
All a prospective cruiser has to do is to make the request in advance and give the cruise line notification prior to their sail date. Notifying a cruise line of an incoming gluten-free cruiser (or cruisers, as is more usually the case) gives them ample time to order larger quantities of gluten-free ingredients. This allows the cruise line plenty of time to lay in the amounts necessary and ensure that all requests are met.
For those who are interested in taking a gluten-free cruise, we have listed below 10 of the best cruise lines for gluten-free food.
1. Royal Caribbean
The Royal Caribbean menu is incredibly conducive for those who are trying to avoid gluten. Amazingly, every night they provide at least one (on most occasions several) gluten-free appetizer, a main dish, and dessert. They offer gluten-free sandwiches, pastries, and pizzas from separate cooking areas to avoid cross-contamination.
Be sure to contact your travel advisor or Certified Vacation Planner and request that the gluten-free remark be noted in your reservation details. If your reservation is made online through royalcaribbean.com, add your request to the “update personal information.” section.
To cover all your bases, you may also send an email request to [email protected]; be sure to include in your e-mail the guests’ names, booking number, ship name, and sail date, then your email will receive an automated response.
2. Carnival Cruise Line
Since Carnival has a large fleet of ships and is noted for being a famous commercial cruise line, they are adequately stocked all the time for gluten-free cruisers. Without exception, all of Carnival’s cruise ships serve gluten-free bread, different kinds of pasta, pizzas, and desserts. They also have a well-known restaurant called Guy’s Burger Joints, where you can get bunless burgers and french fries as gluten-free options. Gluten-free beer is also available onboard Carnival’s cruise ships, and if you request ahead of time, the chefs can bake you a gluten-free cake.
3. Cunard Line
A cruise line committed to providing deluxe accommodations on the seas, the Cunard team oversees dietary specifications in a professional manner. All of the ships in the line employ specialist head waiters and chefs to manage special dietary requests, and they’ll coordinate with you about the options available.
Gluten-free breads are available throughout meal times, and sauces are whipped up separately to meet dietary requirements. On top of this, gluten-free kinds of pasta, biscuits, cookies, and cereals are provided throughout the cruise.
To ensure you receive gluten-free service aboard your Cunard cruise, you are required to inform your operator at the time of booking and confirm the request at the purser’s desk when you board the ship.
4. Holland America Cruises
They made dining for cruisers with Celiac’s disease or gluten sensitivities more convenient by marking food items without gluten with the symbol of wheat next to their descriptions. Customers can also request for gluten-free buns in their Dive-In burgers. For your special dietary needs that require assistance, you may contact Holland America Cruises Ship Services at least three weeks prior to your departure at 1–800–541–1576.
5. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian offers a handful of gluten-free options onboard as part of their regular menu, including pre-packaged cookies & toast. But with advanced notice, they can prepare gluten-free pastries, pasta, and even pancakes. Gluten-free dessert options include ice cream, souffle, and creme brulee. Always coordinate with your head waiter, and Norwegian Cruise Line will pull out all the stops whenever possible.
6. Princess Cruises
They offer a variety of gluten-free products such as bread, cereal, spaghetti, and macaroni. They have created a special gluten-free mix that they use to make cookies, cakes, muffins, pancakes, and pizza crust. Princess Cruise will accommodate guests with any special dietary needs.
Like any other cruise lines, it is crucial to notify them in advance, at least 35 to 65 days in writing, depending on the particular cruise you’ll be booking. Another perk of booking a balcony cabin or above, by giving them a head’s up, you can order a deluxe balcony breakfast or dinner (for a fee,) and they will include items such as gluten-free muffins, french toast, pancakes or kinds of pasta.
7. Disney Cruises
Disney theme parks have earned a successful reputation when it comes to accommodating special dietary needs, and Disney cruises did not fall far from the tree. Simply make a note of your gluten intolerance or any other nutritional restrictions when booking your trip.
Onboard Disney Cruises, they sell their famous gluten-free popcorn, grab one and take it to the cabin for a snack. During breakfast, you will not be limited with their pastry spread such as muffins, toast & pancakes. To keep up with their awesomeness, they also prepare gluten-free donuts. You can wrap up your dinner with gluten-free desserts.
8. Seabourn Cruise Line
Famous for providing luxurious cruises, Seabourn Cruise Lines guarantees your gluten-free needs are met by arranging a variety of gluten-free pastries, and even breadsticks. All menu items are provided with a clear gluten-free label. Chefs are fully equipped to make any menu item as long as requests are made in advance. You can specify your gluten-free needs on Seabourn’s pre-cruise online portal prior to cruising.
9. Azamara Cruises
Though Azamara is a small cruise line, they can provide the necessary accommodations for gluten-free cruisers. Specify your gluten-free orders the night before, they can make pancakes, waffles, and other items. You can enjoy gluten-free dinners, particularly in their 2 specialty restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C. They offer a choice of whole-grain dinner rolls, hamburger & hot dog buns, various gluten-free pasta, risotto, rice noodles, some soups, gluten-free soy sauce, pancakes, waffles, plain bagels, muffins & cookies.
If you are planning to book a suite, expect the butler to drop by with coffee and tea along with with the most delicious gluten-free scones, jelly, and whipped cream
10. Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line
A luxury cruise line, Regent Seven Seas goes above and beyond in making a gluten-free alternative for almost any item on the menu. In addition to all the gluten-free staples such as bread and various kinds of pasta, Regent goes the extra mile in ensuring that you don’t miss out on delicious dishes. For instance, at Regent’s Chocoholics high-tea service, they offer an entire gluten-free menu, consisting of finger sandwiches and gluten-free desserts such as meringue and fruit tart.
Last updated on February 22nd, 2020 at 08:53 am
In the first half of 2019 reports started to come in of tourists becoming very ill and several actually dying while on independent resort vacations in the Dominican Republic. While the investigations are ongoing, speculation has ranged from pesticides sprayed on the resort fauna to inadvertent drugging in the bar. Whatever the results of the investigation this helps bring to light that while you may be enjoying the vacation of your dreams, it is also important to be safety-conscious and keenly aware of the locales you are traveling—including on a cruise ship.
Each year over 20-million people vacation on a cruise ship. Considering the low crime-rate on cruises, this make cruising one of the safest ways to vacation. But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. After all, as a tourist you are traveling to destinations you have likely never been and being introduced to cultures and people you may not be familiar with.
These tips will help your dream-cruise flow as smoothly as the rum.
Pay Attention to Muster
Much like a flight crew going over the safety precautions on a plane, the cruise muster is where the ship’s crew brings everyone together to go over the ship’s safety precautions. From the sound of the emergency alarm and role call, to donning a life jacket, and the protocol for using lifeboats, muster is one of the most important things to take seriously while on a cruise.
Be a Responsible Drinker
Being a responsible drinker means more than managing your alcohol intake, though that is important. Being a responsible drinker also means paying attention to those drinking with and around you. Don’t ever accept a drink from someone you don’t know—even if they’re cute. Order your own drinks and if possible, watch the drink being made. And as a precursor to the next tip on the list, don’t go out drinking alone.
It may sound very kindergarten, but the buddy system rarely fails. Whether you are cruising solo or with a group of people, it is important that you find someone who can be your cruising buddy. This is a great way for someone to look after you and for you to look after someone else. First off, multiple people are less likely to be targeted than an individual. Secondly, if something does happen, you have someone with you who can help out.
Don’t fill your Pockets with Cash
Nowadays traveling on cruise ships has little need for carrying any substantial amount of cash. In fact, on most cruise ships your cabin key can be used as payment and credit cards are widely accepted everywhere else. However, we understand that it is nice to have cash to pay vendors when you get to a new destination. In these cases, try to take out as little cash as you need and just for souvenirs, food, and excursions you plan on attending.
Lock up your Valuables
Jewelry, cell phone, laptop, and any other valuables you brought on your trip should be locked up in your cabin safe. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Would I leave this item sitting around at a coffee shop while I go to the bathroom?” If the answer is “no” then you should probably have it in your safe while you are out of your cabin.
While the number of people who die from taking selfies is relatively low, the number of people injured and maimed is much higher. Being selfie-aware means not climbing up on top of your balcony or crawling out to an unsafe jagged bluff edge. The locales you are traveling to may be beautiful, but beauty can also blind safety.
So, when you go to take your selfies, make sure that you are in a safe place and not beyond trespassing barriers. In fact, if you have to balance on something to get that “perfect” selfie, you probably shouldn’t be taking it.
Strap Everything On
If you come across crime while cruising it will probably be in the form of someone grabbing personal items from you. This may be a camera you are casually holding in your hand, a bag loosely strapped to one shoulder, or your wallet which is showing out of your back pocket. To avoid theft, try to keep all of your personal items strapped to the front of you. One suggestion is to have your backpack strapped—with both straps—to your chest instead of your back with all of your valuables zipped inside.
Make Sure Someone Always Knows Where You Are
The buddy system is important, but not always feasible. So, if you decide to go out on your own to enjoy a beach bar or hit up an excursion your friends are not interested in, make sure someone knows where you are. We all like to venture off on our own sometimes, but let’s make sure your friends can find you if you’re not back when you say you will be.
Last updated on February 22nd, 2020 at 09:21 am
Cruises are one of the few holidays where you can see a huge variety of gorgeous attractions and countries without the need to organise multiple planes or trains. This can, however, put extra pressure on you to make sure you see and do everything you’re excited about. So, whether you’re setting off for your first cruise or have been on many, these tips will help you get the most from your holiday.
Check for any apps
It might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re about to go on a cruise, but mobile apps can make a big difference to your trip. Nearly all the big cruise lines have their own apps now, which help you do everything from planning your on-board activities to organising your offshore excursions. But it’s not just the cruise apps to look out for. If you’re going abroad, download an app like WhatsApp to help you stay in touch with friends and family at home for free. You might also want to download your bank’s app, so you can keep on top of finances while you’re away.
Plan your trip thoroughly
From daytime tours to evening activities, when you arrive, read through your programme and start to make a basic itinerary of what you want to do. With so much on offer it’s easy to get daunted, so once you have a plan written down, you’ll quickly see what you can fit in. Booking through a specialist is a good way to guarantee you’ll have fun-filled days, especially if it’s your first cruise. Likewise, if you’re docking at a destination that you’ve been to before – or aren’t interested in – don’t feel you need to get off to explore. Make the most of the empty on-board spas and pools instead!
Be prepared for seasickness
If you’ve never been on a cruise before – or you know you’re prone to it – prepare in advance for seasickness. It’s a quick way to ruin your holiday but it’s easily preventable. If you suffer from seasickness, spending time in the middle of the shop on lower decks can help minimise the effects. Stock up on anti-seasickness remedies before you leave: there’s plenty to try, including both natural and pharmaceutical options. To avoid it entirely, pick a cruise that has few entire days at sea: Mediterranean and European cruises are excellent for this. If you forget to pack any medication, you’ll be able to find some onboard.
Because you’re seeing so many different sights, packing for a cruise can be a nightmare. Firstly, make sure you don’t bring too many items – it’s easy to get carried away and assume you’ll wear everything in your wardrobe, but in reality, you won’t. Take a few different tops and bottoms that you can mix and match. Limit yourself with shoes, too – they take up a lot of space! Go for good walking shoes, a nice evening pair and some flats for the daytime.
Rolling your clothes can maximise space in your suitcase, too. Once you’re onboard, take the time to unpack properly and stow your suitcases under the bed. You’ll feel more settled and won’t have to keep rifling around for your favourite outfit.
Choose the right ship
This might be stating the obvious, but it’s amazing how much your choice of ship can affect your trip. If you’re taking children with you, look for a liner that has plenty going on – from kids’ clubs and swimming pools to a huge roster of activities and family-friendly evening entertainment. However, if you’re going away for a relaxing break or a romantic getaway, you might want an adults-only cruise or a smaller ship, so you can truly unwind.
And be practical about your cabin choice. If you’re going somewhere with spectacular sightseeing, like Norwegian fjords, then an external cabin with a balcony will be brilliant. However, if views are less important to you, opt for an internal cabin – you’ll save money by doing so.
Be savvy with drink packages
Unless you’ve taken out a seriously high-end all-inclusive deal, you probably won’t have drinks included in your costs. Your cruise line may offer you great deals before you board, but take the time to read through the options carefully. Think about your itinerary and what you plan on doing in the evenings: if you invest too much in a package, you may find yourself spending a lot of time at the bar. You can’t bring alcohol onboard in most cases, but you can bring soft drinks – it’s a good idea to take bottled water with you, as it’s cheaper to buy onshore.
Last updated on February 22nd, 2020 at 09:22 am
Each year, more than a million tourists visit Alaska, the largest state in the US. With so many places to visit and things to do, tourists often find it difficult to decide which parts of Alaska to visit and what time of year is best to travel Alaska.
Here are some factors that the folks at, “Best Time to Cruise Alaska” think you should take into account. These things include the weather, crowds and prices, and what you hope to see and do while you are there.
Summertime, between mid-May and mid-September, is considered by many to be the best time to travel Alaska. During the summer, the days are long, nature is in full bloom, and temperatures are comfortable. Daytime highs range from 60 to 80 degrees, and lows are in the 40s and 50s.
Most tours operate during this season, so you will have plenty to do and see. With 19 hours of daylight in Anchorage, June 21 is the longest day of the year, and the sky is light nearly all night long from late May to July. Summers in Alaska tend to be rainier than in the rest of the US. In May and June, there is a 25% chance of rain on any given day, while by August that goes up to 50%.
Each summer month has advantages and disadvantages. May is the driest month but it still might be cold and snowy farther north. Melting snow can lead to muddy conditions called breakup, which make many outdoor areas difficult to access. Also, many tourist attractions don’t open until mid-May, Memorial Day, or June 1.
June is considered the best month for extended daylight, dry weather, low humidity, and blooming flowers, although mosquitoes, lingering snow, and muddy trails are some possible disadvantages. In July and August, the peak months for tourism, the days are long, the weather is warm, and wildlife is abundant. July is the warmest month and August is the rainiest.
Between late August and mid-September, weather patterns begin to change. Autumn brings clouds, frequent rain, cooler temperatures, and changes in the colors of trees and tundra. The fall foliage makes this a beautiful time to visit. In October and November, winter begins bringing darker days, snow, and colder temperatures. There are few visitors during these months and many facilities will be closed.
The winter season in Alaska, beginning in December and lasting until March, is another popular time to visit. This is the best time for winter sports enthusiasts to travel to Alaska and is also the best time to see aurora borealis, or the northern lights. Winter activities include skiing, skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. The late winter months of February and March are the best times to visit during the winter because the days are longer and winter activities are at their peak.
Crowds and Prices
During peak tourist season, from July to mid-August, you can expect Alaska’s hotels, cruises, attractions, and national parks to be crowded and pricey. If you want to avoid high prices and crowds, consider visiting Alaska during the shoulder months of May and September. During shoulder season, you can find good deals on cruises, hotels, and rental cars, while still enjoying pleasant weather and scenery but without the crowds.
For viewing wildlife, the best time to visit Alaska begins in early May, when you will see whales, birds, sheep, bears, goats, and more. The best time to see whales is from May to September, while the best time for seeing bears fishing for salmon is from June to August. In mid-November, 3000 bald eagles can be seen at the Haines Alaska Bald Eagle Festival. Rufous hummingbirds return to Ketchikan in April, and thousands of cranes migrate through Fairbanks in late August.
The best time to see the northern lights, or aurora borealis, is from December to March, when the sky is dark and the nights are long. Sightings are also possible, but less likely, in September and October. While the northern lights are visible across most of the state, the best way to see them is by traveling outside Fairbanks to the top of Ester Dome, to Chatanika, or along the Gilmore Trail. Dozens of tours are offered out of Fairbanks.
While some times might be better than others, there is no bad time to travel Alaska. When planning your trip, you might want to consider the availability of attractions, the amount of daylight and rain, and the accessibility of trails and national parks. For a cruise, May might be the best month because of its dryness, lower fares, and reduced crowds, while for fishing or to visit the National Parks, late summer is preferable. Whatever time of year you choose, your trip to Alaska is certain to be full of fun and unforgettable adventures.
Last updated on February 22nd, 2020 at 09:25 am
Jacksonville, coined as one of the most populous cities in the USA, (#12 on the list of most populated cities in the USA as a matter of fact!) definitely offers no shortage of a good times.
The beautiful thing about this city is that there is a little bit of everything for everyone: love digging your toes into the sand and relaxing on a picturesque beach? Sure thing! Enjoy 22 miles of beaches.
A connoisseur of all things art? Jacksonville has not one, not two, but many different locations dedicated to just that. From the Corks Art District, to Project Atrium at MOCA, to a plethora of different art galleries, Jacksonville has a wide selection to choose from.
What about something for all the foodies out there? Feast on some delicious coastal cuisine and craft beer, or induce the most epic food coma ever at Maple Street Biscuit Company.
Jacksonville is a city that has plenty to offer, and while you might get through everything in one visit (hey, that’s a good thing!), here are some excellent suggestions to check out while you’re in town.
Catty Shack is a nonprofit organization and home to majestic felines such as lions, tigers, leopards, lynx, coatimundis, foxes, cougars and bobcats. They specialize in providing habilitation to big cats, saving them from ultimate demise in the wild or in captivity.
During an afternoon visit at Catty Shack, guests will be greeted and invited to watch a video detailing the history of the ranch and other specifics. Then, tours will begin at approximately 1:00 PM, in which you get to meet all the animals and hear about their natural habitats and personal anecdotes. After the tour, cool down with some foods and drinks at the concession area.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, making this an economical way to spend an afternoon in Jacksonville.
Treat yourself on a Saturday morning after a week of exploring the city by settling down and checking out this colossal market, featuring everything from farmers, artists, bakers, jewelry & crafts makers and more! Under the Fuller Warren Bridge, this event runs during rain or shine, with over four thousand visitors every weekend.
Want to relax after a long day of perusing all the shops? Chill out at the riverfront amphitheater and enjoy live music. Yoga classes at 9 AM are also offered until March, before the “cold” kicks in.
Named after early estate owner Zephaniah Kingsley, Kingsley plantation is a key historical site and a must-see travel spot in Jacksonville. In 1814, Zephaniah moved to Fort George Island, where the plantation now resides today, with his wife Anna Madgigine Jai, from Senegal, West Africa. The plantation produced a plethora of interesting exports, such as: Sea Island cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn.
Kingsley Plantation is open seven days a week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and admission is free. You can explore areas such as the slave quarters, barn, waterfront, kitchen house, and interpretive garden—all at your leisure. However, for one main attraction on the property, the actual plantation house, it is closed during the week and only open on a limited-basis during the weekend. Call ahead for reservations.
Encapsulate yourself in a dreamy, island oasis on one of northeast Jacksonville’s most unique islands. Whether you want your day to involve bird-watching, hiking through diverse island habitats via a plethora of different trails that lead to different picturesque locations, launching a boat from the north end of the island to go fishing, touring through majestic salt marshes, embarking on exciting kayak tours, a serene waterside picnic on The Bluffs, bicycle riding, and a plethora of other activities, there is plenty of action to fill a day with, and then some.
The park is open from 8AM to sundown, all year long. Admission fees are: $2 per person to access the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier, $3 per vehicle entry to the Bluffs picnic area, Blackrock Trailhead, and Big Pine Trailhead, and $4 to use the boat launch.
Everyone loves a good water park. Fortunately you don’t have to stray far for world-class aquatic entertainment while in Jacksonville. With too many things to do, we’ll focus on my favorite attraction: the actual waterpark.
Shipwreck Island Waterpark
Typhoon Lagoon – A half-million gallon water wave pool. ‘Nuff said.
Splash Cove – If you’re traveling with young children, this is the perfect place to get some rest and let your little kiddies play. It features two small slides.
The Rage – The first uphill water-coaster in Northern Florida. The rider is propelled up to 18 MPH!
The Pirate’s Play Village – Slides galore. Featuring five, “The Cannonball Burst”, “Blackbeard’s Revenge”, “Pirate’s Plunge”, with the last two, “Sea Pups Racer” and “Junior Jolly”, being perfect for small children, this is another location in the park easy to settle down in.
The Lil’ St. John’s River – Single and double tubes float comfortably along a 720-foot river at 5MPH, allowing viewers to spectate the action from a comfortable distance.
The Eye of the Storm – This slide rises over 40 ft and riders are challenged to see how many revolutions they can achieve before hitting the bottom.
Beer aficionados, stop right here! This is your version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Except with delicious lager. The Jax Brew Bus will take you on a 4 ½ hour tour of Jacksonville’s infamous craft beer scene. Here, you’ll get to sample 10-15 local craft beers while visiting 3 different breweries. Stops include: Green Room Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Engine 15 Brewing Co., Pinglehead Brewing Company, Bold City Brewery, and more!
Pickup and drop off locations are even customizable, giving you the ability to tailor this tour to your preferences. For only $55 per person, this is a steal.
You’ve pretty much fallen in love with Jacksonville now, right? Of course you did! Well, maybe if you decide that a cruise stop isn’t enough, Jacksonville was number 5 on the top 20 cities to invest in. Check out information on how to snag your dream home in this gorgeous city.
Last updated on February 22nd, 2020 at 09:29 am
21.6 million people go on cruises each year and out of these, 60% are from North America. Sadly, too many people associate cruises with overspending on budget and over-eating, but it doesn’t have to be this way!
Just as families can enjoy a cruise without breaking the bank, you don’t need to assume that going on a cruise will mean having to compromise on good eating habits and overall health.
Think health, think hygiene
Anyone who has previously cruised on Royal Caribbean will hear the words “washy washy” and immediately have fond memories of dinnertime on the ship. Before entering the dining room on all their ships, a staff person will be stationed near the hand sanitizer stations, reminding guests to wash their hands before dinner. The staff person kindly states “washy washy” as you walk by – and out of courtesy or guilt, you take a squirt of hand sanitizer.
Maintaining a clean environment on a ship requires both passengers and staff to do their part. On cruise ships, cleanliness is next to godliness!
Being healthy also means eating in a hygienic environment. Keeping dining rooms clean and regular restaurant cleaning of the ships other dining venues is a top priority for cruise lines to eliminate foodborne illness.
An outbreak of Norovirus on a cruise can wreak havoc and ruin a vacation for thousands, making cleanliness a top priority for all cruise lines.
There are signs to look out for when it comes to a clean eating area. These include the state of the floors, walls, and ceilings.
For example, do you notice any signs of flood damage, such as cracked walls, mold or doors that do not fit their frames properly when closed? How clean do the serving stands (such as the buffet tables) look to you? Being mindful of these sorts of things will make it less likely that your food is contaminated, causing you to become ill. Pay attention to the presentation and cleanliness of the restaurant staff too. Their standards of hygiene will obviously have an impact on how hygienic the food is when it reaches you.
Eat from smaller plates
A big part of the problem when it comes to overeating may lie in the physical size of the plate. Researchers recently reported that smaller plates may cut calorie consumption by 16%. Meanwhile, a recent study showed the effects of using a smaller spoon for ice cream: participants served themselves 14.5% less than when offered a larger spoon. Using smaller plates and cutlery may help you keep your (and your children’s, if applicable) waistlines in good order – particularly given the number of days you need to resist the temptation to overindulge.
Eat strategically at the buffet or avoid it altogether
Along with the size of plates and cutlery used, researchers from Cornell University have discovered a link between the patterns of behavior by people eating from a buffet and the amount they eat. For example, those who scoured the whole buffet first, before eating from it, ate more than those who started serving themselves without checking everything that was on offer beforehand. If you think you do not have the self-restraint to keep piling up your plate, choose somewhere else to eat.
Eat your dinner early
One effective way of being healthy on holiday is to eat your dinner early. Eating 3-4 hours before you go to sleep allows your body to digest your food fully, helping you sleep better and feel more refreshed when you wake.
If you eat too late, the digestion process is hampered and you are more likely to have gas pain, be unable to sleep well and wake up feeling sluggish the next day. Instead of booking the 8PM dining option, consider booking the earlier option to give your body time to digest the food before bedtime.
Make breakfast a priority
There is a reason why breakfast is often regarded as the most important meal of the day. A wholesome breakfast sets you up for the day, kicking your metabolism into gear and giving you the energy needed for the rest of the day. A nutritious breakfast also replenishes your blood sugar levels, which are at their lowest first thing in the morning. What is more, if you eat dinner early as previously recommended, you will have a good appetite when you wake, which you can make the most of by eating a hearty, healthy breakfast.
The options on a cruise are obviously plentiful. Cafe’s, the main dining room, the buffet, roomservice – but watch what you order. Avoid sugary cereals and fried foods and opt for things like granolas, fruits, poached eggs and wholegrain breads.
Drink lots of water
There is divided opinion among health professionals about exactly how much water we should be drinking each day. This certainly depends on the age, gender and build of the individual (things like exercise and breastfeeding also increase the necessary intake of water). However, it is fair to say that the majority of Americans struggle to consume the 6-8 eight oz glasses, which is what most health authorities recommend.
Among other things, being dehydrated causes us to feel tired and sluggish, sometimes making our brain think that we need food to give us energy, when in fact we need water. Water naturally flushes out toxins in our body and makes us feel more hydrated. As a result, we feel more balanced and energized and are less likely to overeat.
With this in mind, make sure you have a bottle of water on you wherever you go on the cruise, and encourage your children to do the same. Shortly before any meal time, try to drink a glass of water. This will help prevent you from overindulging, particularly in unhealthy foods or drinks.
Make use of the fitness facilities
Every ship on every major cruise line is equipped with some type of fitness facility, complete with treadmills, exercise bikes and organized classes. If your regular routine at home includes the gym, why not keep the routine while you’re on the ship? Just 45 minutes of exercise in the morning will keep the routine alive and keep.
Beyond the fitness or exercise areas, there are activities on the ship that will certainly give you a good workout. Many ships have a jogging/walking track outside, as well as tennis courts, swimming pools and rock climbing walls.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle on a cruise is possible!
Cruises have gained something of a bad rep when it comes to being healthy on holiday. Given the raft of food and drink on offer, along with the fact that you are on a boat for quite a long time, it is arguably unsurprising. However, by taking some small, strategic approaches to meal locations and mealtimes, it is very possible to have a happy, healthy holiday on a cruise.
Last updated on February 22nd, 2020 at 09:35 am
Take note next time you’re boarding a cruise ship. As you step onboard the ship and are being checked-in by security staff, there’s a table or series of tables with various items sitting on them. It resembles a lost and found table at a school or church.
But these aren’t lost items.
The random items sitting on these tables are items that your fellow cruiser passengers tried to take onboard, but were confiscated by security as they are on the prohibited list of the particular cruise line
Want to avoid the time delay and embarrassment of having items confiscated? Take note of the follow items that are prohibited on cruise ships.
Prohibited Items on a Cruise
Liquor (Beer, Wine, Spirits)
It’s true. Think you’re going to enjoy a bottle of your favorite whiskey in your stateroom – think again! Each cruise line has different beverage policies, but in general, other than a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner, Beer, Spirits & Coolers are prohibited items on a cruise. For more information, see our post: Water & Wine: What You Can Bring Onboard
Firearms, Knives or Weapons
Let’s set the firearms debate aside for a moment and get straight to the point. Firearms are prohibited on cruise ships for regular passengers. Unless you are a law enforcement officer or security guard, onboard in an official capacity and with prior approval, all other firearms are prohibited and will be confiscated. This includes knives, nunchucks and any other item that is considered a weapon.
Do we have to explain this one? Explosives are prohibited items and may get you in hot water with the local authorities.
Sorry if you had planned for a nice bike ride around Bermuda. You will need to rent a bicycle at your destination as they are prohibited.
Boats or Canoes
We’re not sure where you would put a canoe in a tiny stateroom, so just don’t bother bringing one.
Cough Cough…Sorry, you can’t bring those.
Lots of ports have Segway tour shore excursions, but you can’t bring your own Segway onboard.
If you’re the type of person that likes to make toast in the morning, or heat up a TV dinner, you are out of luck. Household appliances like Toasters, Toaster Ovens, Microwaves, Waffle Makers, Hot Plates, Coffee Makers, Electric Water Kettles and Blenders are all prohibited items and will be confiscated upon boarding. But don’t worry; there’s plenty of food at the many restaurants throughout the ship, and most of it’s complimentary.
Due to the risk of fire, clothing irons are not allowed onboard. If you need clothing ironed, talk to your stateroom attendant for options.
Heating Pads & Blankets
For safety reasons, heating pads and heating blankets are not allowed onboard. If you are feeling chilly, ask your stateroom attendant for another blanket.
Pipes/Hookahs & Illegal Drugs
Do not try to bring cocaine, marijuana or any other illegal recreational drugs onboard. They will be confiscated.
Gaming & Video Systems
We aren’t sure why you would want to bring video games or a DVD player while heading out for a fabulous cruise vacation since there are so many other activities; These are prohibited items including DVD & Blu-ray players and Gaming stations such as X-Box or PlayStation.
For safety reasons, fireworks are not permitted onboard. Sorry if you thought you could have your own fireworks show, right from your balcony.
We hope that your cruise will be an amazing experience and hope that NOT being able to bring the items listed above doesn’t cramp your style too much!
As always, check with your cruise line directly if you have any questions about specific items. See below for more information.
Last updated on February 25th, 2020 at 12:15 pm
Vancouver integrates the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest with hip urban sophistication.
This metropolitan gem offers the arts and culture you’d expect from an urban paradise, and it offers so much more that makes it an idyllic nirvana. Visitors call Vancouver the New York City of the Pacifc West Coast. What could be better than to combine the energy and sophistication of Manhattan with a West Coast Canadian vibe?
Vancouver has nestled itself between the Strait of Georgia and the Canadian Mountains, and blanketed itself with a ring of evergreen forests. Take in exhibitions like the Vancouver Police Museum or Maritime Museum, or visit the Vancouver Aquarium, which has a top-rated conservation program coupled with unparalleled research and education.
Seeing the sites in Vancouver is easy because of two conveniences: inexpensive public transportation and free WiFi.
Public Transit and WiFi
Use the SkyTrain for your travels from the Waterfront to the airport on Sea Island. Trains run every seven minutes, and you’ll find them fast and reasonably priced (less than $10 one way) whether zipping across the city, or making several stops along the way. Riding a driverless train is pretty exciting, too. The TransLink site has a wealth of information, including schedules and maps, fares, and other useful information for navigating the Vancouver metro area.
When you’re ready to connect, look for Shaw Go WiFi and follow the directions to create a guest account.
Several blocks to the east of the Waterfront lies a chronicled neighborbood with a wild past. When Gastown emerged during the 1930s, it rivaled New Orleans with its revelry and love for carousing, but has since become a hip epicenter of culture and trade. This national historic site has seen a renaissance and renewed interest with the emergence of tech companies and a youthful population who make this area their home. Be sure to check out the Gas Town Steam Clock at the corner of Water and Cambie Streets!
Take a tour of Stanley Park, the 400 hectare green space northwest of town. This naturally forested park boasts totem poles from the First Nations tribes, the Empress of Japan statue (also know as the Girl in a Wetsuit), 25+ kilometers of bike trails and so much more.
Opt for a bicycle tour (some are less than fifty dollars) that offers lively interaction and excellent exercise as you explore Robson Square. Then you’ll cycle along the Vancouver Waterfront to make your way to Stanley Park, which is an inspirational example of natural Pacific Northwest beauty. The ride along the seawall makes for memorable moments. It can be hard to avoid the temptation to stop and take pictures every ten meters. It’s really that gorgeous, but you’ll need to save some of your phone’s battery life for the other pictures, including the scenic views of Vancouver and the surrounding areas from Prospect Point as you look out across the Lions Gate Bridge.
You can also walk drive, or take transit if you’d rather save your energy for another adventure, such as a trek across the Capilano Bridge near Grouse Mountain.
Lions Gate Bridge
Take the Lion’s Gate Bridge by foot, bike or car to reach the North Shore. The short 1.8 kilometer journey through the sky becomes magical when mist fills the air, and it’s an experience most travelers never forget. You’ll feel as though you have journeyed far from the urban bustle of Vancouver, but you’re only ten minutes from downtown.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Bridge free shuttle provides you with a more direct route to the temperate rainforest nestled to the north of Vancouver. For about $30 USD, you can walk across the bridge at dizzying heights. You’ll hike amid old growth firs populating an ancient forest. You’re going to want to wear your sensible shoes, have your camera ready and take a printed copy of your ticket with you. If you can overcome any apprehension about heights or motion sickness, you’ll savor the experience for a long time to come.
Airport food is usually just something to fill your tummy so you don’t eat the armrest on the plane. It can taste like an arm cushion, too. The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill (a sister restaurant to Victoria’s Flying Otter Grill), however, offers great bar food consisting of unbeatable breakfasts, awesome sandwiches served with a side of greens, and satiating dinners. The harbor views are equally spectacular, especially if the weather allows you to sit outside on the deck — take the corner seating if it’s available.
Ride the ferry (two hours) or a seaplane (20 minutes) to nearby Nanaimo, where you can sample locally made chocolates while shopping or go ziplining. If Seattle is in your future, try taking the train for another opportunity to enjoy incredible scenery.
Vancouver offers plenty to do for intrepid explorers of all temperaments who want to experience the sophisticated crowning jewel of the Canadian West Coast.
Last updated on February 25th, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Pool days, time in the sun, meals you don’t have to cook, on board entertainment, and family bonding time are all great aspects to taking a cruise with your children. The great part about choosing a cruise for your family vacation is the organized nature of a cruise line.
You don’t have to plan a ton of transportation, pre-planning excursions is a breeze, you have your choice of on-board entertainment, and the food is already made. For traditional vacations you might have to do a lot of walking, waiting, packing children into the car, packing them out, planning out your dinners, and finding things to do. If you’ve never cruised with your kiddos, there are a few tips to make the trip a little easier.
Not all cruises are created equal and there is a difference between kid-friendly cruises and kid-tolerant cruises. Do your research on the cruise lines you’re considering and decide on if the entertainment, culture, activities, and amenities will suit your child’s age. Disney Cruise Line is the obvious pick for kid friendly cruises since their appeal is aimed at children with dance parties for kids, themed dinners, fireworks, Disney character mascots everywhere, and other kid-based entertainment. They also have adult-only dining areas and quitter pools for parents as well. Don’t discount the other cruises, though; Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian are all top-ranked kids cruises as well. Royal Caribbean has a partnership with DreamWorks, Carnival is budget-friendly with ropes courses, and Norwegian hosts musicals for kids as entertainment, so there are a ton of options available to cruise with your children.
Pack a Carry-On
Many people with younger children know to carry some sort of bag full of supplies with them, and this is even more true when you are on a cruise with children. When you’ve checked in and boarded your ship it can still be several hours before you have access to your room or your luggage has been delivered. This can be a surprise for many parents with young children that need a bottle or a diaper if you don’t have it with you, but it can even be difficult with just a restless kiddo that needs a toy, book, or a nap in a quiet place. Be prepared for this delay, wait time to board the ship during stops, and other times it might not be as easy to go to your room and grab a diaper or a snack.
On some cruise ships, they do not sell diapers, formula, or wipes, so be sure to carry these things with you. Maybe not all the time, but be sure to have everything you’ll need in case it’s difficult to find on your ship or in each port.
Certain ships have a ton of entertainment for children, but if you’re on a cruise line that doesn’t cater to children they may experience some boredom. Even if you are on a ship that is family-friendly, bringing some onboard entertainment is still a good idea. Reading material, video game consoles, toys, coloring books, or movies are all a great idea to keep you littles busy. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your children will be satisfied with the entertainment on the ship. Chances are they would like some of their usual entertainment from home in down times.
Cruise ships don’t have lines like an amusement park, but they do have lines and your kiddos will experience some waiting. To fill these moments think along the lines of car games with a twist so that they don’t get too restless and fussy. You may not be able to play the license plate game, but you can play the Disney character game saying how many Disney characters you’ve spotted. I spy, singing a song, or the alphabet game are all great ways to entertain your children in these moments.
For your first time cruising with children there are many small details that you won’t realize until you board. For one, children that are not potty trained are not allowed in many pools on cruise ships. Some offer splash areas, but this can be a deal breaker for many parents or children. Also, not all ships have showers with bathtubs which can be a deal breaker for parents that have kids that take baths. If you need a crib or playpen, let the ship know as soon as possible. Strollers may either be hard to come by or not available at all. Power outlets are also scarce in your room, so it would be a great idea to bring a power strip when travelling with the family that may have a few things to plug in. Some babysitting services won’t take children younger than a certain age, so it’s smart to check that age limit. Checking message boards for certain cruise lines or forums for parents are great ways to find out insider information about cruise lines from actual cruisers.
Health and Safety
Before cruising you should speak to your children about health and safety tips. Luckily there are many passenger counts, checks, and curfews on many ships to keep a good track of passengers. Make sure your children stick to a buddy system, never go into someone else’s room or let anyone into yours, and to check in regularly. When you leave the ship at your stops, stress the importance of your all aboard time so that your older children stick to a schedule. With many ships having limited or expensive Wi-Fi and no cell service, staying connected to family may be difficult so it’s best to establish check-in times.
Cruises can be unhealthy situations, so be aware that your child might be in close proximity to other sick people without many options to get away from them. There are situations where a high percentage of passengers are sick on a ship and they are not able to dock in certain areas – and getting a refund for these situations isn’t common. Also, seasickness is common and if your child hasn’t been on a ship before you may not know if they will be affected. It’s smart to bring motion sickness medicine and other types of medicine on board just in case.
The cruising experience is amazing and one that everyone should experience at any age. It’s a fun experience for the whole family where you can see many places, go on fun adventures, meet people from all over, and watch your children experience new things with you. As far as big family vacations go, choosing a cruise is a great idea for fun experiences for all ages and less stress for planning. No matter which type of vacation you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it on one the many cruise lines available to the whole family.
Last updated on February 25th, 2020 at 12:22 pm
First cruise? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The first day of your first cruise is arguably the most difficult as you try to figure out the logistics of your vacation and more importantly, how the cruise itself works.
Luckily, once you’ve gotten through your first day, the rest of your cruise will be a cinch. With a couple tips on what to expect, where to go, and how to prepare you can tackle your first cruise like a pro.
1. Don’t go to the buffet
Cruise ships are notorious for adding a few pounds to your waistline with their massive and diverse buffets. Most ships offer free buffets throughout the day along with the cost of your cruise. And for many people the buffet is not only a supplement to vacation, but the vacation itself.
So, the first thing to do, is not to go to the buffet. The vast majority of people who are on the ship will head directly for that buffet line. What this means for you is hundreds of people struggling to find a place to sit, tapping their plates and trays as they slide between each other. The first day of the buffet is often a mess, and better avoided. But, don’t worry, the buffet will be there all week, and you can explore it as much as you want then.
2. Be friendly and meet the staff
The staff on the cruise ship will be busy that first day as they assist cruise goers on where to go and what to do on the first day. Despite this, meeting the staff, especially your room steward, on that first day, and leaving a positive impression on them is one of the best things you can do to make your trip go by smoothly.
The positive response of learning someone’s name and recognizing that they are doing a good job will pay for the trip itself. Remember, the crew knows the ship better than anyone, and they can offer sage advice on the best times to eat when dining areas are not busy, excursions worth going on, and if you’re lucky you may get a few freebies and personal courtesies.
Smile, when you see the staff, greet them, call them by their first name, and thank them for their help. This is an easy way to make sure you have a comfortable trip.
3. Pack your Day Bag and Don’t spend all your time worrying about your luggage.
As long as you have a day bag to get you through your first day, you shouldn’t need to worry about where your luggage is. There are hundreds, if not thousands of passengers aboard your ship, and it will take some time for all of the luggage to be delivered to each passenger’s room.
So, don’t worry about if your luggage has been lost, or when it will arrive. If it hasn’t arrived by the second day, you can then start your inquiry.
Instead, think about packing your day (carry-on) bag. Your day bag should have all the supplies you will need for your first day, such as: extra set of clothes, bathing suit, prescription medication, identification documents, and anything else you feel you will need until your luggage arrives.
4. Explore the ship
While everyone else is crowding into the buffet line, you can better spend your time exploring the ship. Most ships provide a map and literature to acquaint you with the ship. By taking the time to walk around and explore you will save yourself a lot of time while you’re out at sea.
It helps if you earmark the areas you would like to explore first and then spend a little time simply walking around to get your bearings, and likely find rooms, and amenities you didn’t even know about.