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4 Romantic Maui Resorts

Hawaii is often considered one of the romantic vacation destinations on earth. Popular with honeymooners, or couples looking to celebrate a special occasion, Hawaii always comes out on top.

Out of all of the Hawaiian islands, a popular choice for romance is the island of Maui.

Check out four of the most romantic resorts on Maui, with an article shared by our friends at Vax Vacations. And if Hawaii sounds like a place you’d like to experience, be sure to reach out to your Must Love Travel Planner!

A Closer Look at Sandals Barbados

Sandals Barbados is situated on the pristine white sands of Maxwell Beach, where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic. It is ideally located at the bottom of the famed St. Lawrence Gap – known for its lively restaurants, lively nightlife, and good shopping.

Let’s take a closer look at Sandals Barbados!

Sandals Barbados invites you to surrender to the calypso rhythms of paradise.

Sandals Barbados provides an idyllic refuge for you to recharge and reconnect with the one you love.

With more inclusions than anywhere else in Barbados, your worry-free holiday begins the moment you land on the island.

Spend your days with white sand between your toes. Learn how to kayak in azure blue waters. Get lost in the tropical gardens. Indulge in an invigorating or romantic massage for two.

Enjoy the freshest seafood and best rum punch this side of heaven.

This is paradise Sandals Barbados-style, where every enchanting day and magical night encourages you to live life well.

Meet Kirsten from Carnival Cruise Lines!

Say hello to Kirsten from Carnival Cruise Lines! I had the pleasure of chatting with Kirsten and she gave some great information on Carnival, as well as updates from the cruise industry.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some really cool tours of Carnival’s Private Islands and Cruise Resorts, as well as Ship Tours of some of their newest and coolest ships, including the brand new Mardi Gras!

5 Caribbean Flowers That Brighten Any Room

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines 

The islands of the Caribbean brim with natural beauty, from crystal blue waters and pristine beaches to striking flora and fauna. With bright colors to match the vibrant culture and art, local flowers across the region often represent deeper meanings and messages. And as you’re thinking about how you’re going to show your love and appreciation to friends and family this year, consider some of the Caribbean beauties you may be able to find nearby.

With such unique flower species down in the Caribbean that have gained popularity around the world, there’s a variety to choose from that are sure to stand out. From the bright cattleya orchid to the famous dahlia, you can’t go wrong.

We picked some of the most stunning blooms you may want to look for at your local shop, many of which you can spot while on a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean.

Plumeria, Barbados

One of the many vibrant blooms you’ll find in Barbados is the plumeria. Native to Central America, this flower can now be found in tropical climates—like in the southern Caribbean—during their bloom from spring to early fall. You may recognize the plumeria from your last Hawaiian luau—they are probably most famous for their use in making Hawaiian leis.

However, when you visit our new homeport of Barbados, you’ll find them scattered across the island—they love the heat. The plumeria’s fragrance is strongest at night since it uses its smell to attract moths for pollination. Don’t worry, they smell great during the day too, so a gift of plumerias will still fill a home with a sweet fragrance.

Rose, St. Lucia

The rose is one of St. Lucia’s national flowers, having won the national flower competition back in 1985. Long before it reportedly bloomed in the western part of the world, the rose is said to have first sprouted in Asia nearly 35 million years ago. It was 5,000 years ago when people first began cultivating the flower in their own gardens in China, and they have since become a staple we all see in poetry, religion, art, music, perfume and décor.

Greek and Roman mythology turned the rose into a symbol of love after Aphrodite, the goddess of love, cried over the death of her romantic partner Adonis. The rose comes in shades of red, pink, white, yellow, purple and even orange, each one holding a different meaning. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an arrangement without at least one rose.

Hibiscus, The Bahamas

You’ll spot hibiscus growing all over—quite possibly even during your visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay. Found to thrive in warmer climates, this flower features five large, oval-shaped petals with light green leaves that can often appear in many other colors, like red, yellow, white, pink and purple, which hold different meanings similar to the rose. For example, purple symbolizes freedom.

In the Victorian Era, the hibiscus often served as a symbol of delicate beauty. Representing so many sweet and even powerful messages, the bloom makes a beautiful choice to show someone you care.

Dahlia, Mexico

Mexico’s national flower is both practical and impressive. Native to Central America, the Aztecs referred to the perennial plant as acocoxóchitl or “flower of hollow stems,” which they used to transport water. It certainly didn’t take long for the Spanish to notice the dahlia with its large and colorful two-toned blooms and great height—they can range from 1 to 5 feet tall.

The New World beauty was brought back to Madrid and quickly gained popularity from there. Today, the vibrant flower represents elegance, creativity and dignity.

Cattleya orchid, Costa Rica

This orchid variety grows throughout Central and South America and is abundant in Costa Rica—which you will now be able to visit from our new homeport of Barbados. You may recognize it from the corsage you wore to your high school prom, but they’re also common in bouquets and planted in pots since they can grow up to 2 feet tall.

These blooms are slow growers, taking four to seven years to mature from a seed. And since they’re slow to grow, they’re also (extremely) slow to wither—with regular maintenance and good care, a planted orchid can live up to 100 years. If you really want to show your “undying” appreciation, maybe forgo the more traditional flower arrangement and take a chance on the potted cattleya orchid.

Though brightening up your home and others’ with these blooms is a great temporary fix, we can’t wait to brighten up your days on a Caribbean cruise.

Review of Dinner at California Grill

The California Grill is an upscale restaurant that sits on top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The view of Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon is incredible.

Snagging a reservation at California Grill is no easy task. Now, imagine my surprise when I could snag a 7 pm dinner reservation on Christmas Night! I almost fell over.

Overall, California Grill’s look and feel had not changed much since my last visit. The atmosphere is a perfect combination of romance and excitement. The service is as good as it gets!

In years past, I would have given the food a 10/10 rating. It was perfection. This time around was really close. But I have to give it a 9/10 rating. Here’s what we had and my thoughts about it.

I hate to start with the worst, but we started our meal with sushi. This is the California Combination Roll. It was just awful. Worse than I can even explain. Something was off with the rice; there were zero flavors at all. The dipping sauce didn’t seem to compliment any of it—just a big disappointment.

Luckily my faith was restored when I ordered an all-time favorite appetizer at Walt Disney World — the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli. It was perfection, possibly even better than I’ve ever had it. I crave this dish.

For my entree, I actually ordered the Hearts of Romaine salad from the appetizer section. I was already feeling full, and I thought I’d be good with a salad and a few bites of my wife’s entree. I was pleasantly surprised when it came out, and it was loaded! As you can see, this is no ordinary salad. It was delicious! Next time, I would order this as my starting appetizer instead of the sushi.

My wife’s entree was the Grilled Pork Tenderloin, which completely surprises me as she always gets the filet. She LOVED it, and I have to agree that it was delicious. The pork was cooked perfectly, and the pork sausage was a nice touch.

We were too stuffed for dessert, but I did finish the most delicious Lemon Drop Martini on the planet (I always get this when I dine at California Grill!) and enjoyed the view of the castle, as well as the Electric Water Pageant as it floated past us.

Overall, a wonderful experience, and other than that unfortunate sushi, the food was incredible.

Cheers!

A Closer Look at Sandals Negril

Imagine you are gazing at the turquoise Caribbean Sea as you walk along Negril’s pristine Seven Mile white sand beach. Now imagine you are doing this at one of the world’s leading five-star resorts — Sandals Negril.

Whether you are dining al fresco with your loved one, relaxing in your luxurious suite, or being spoiled by your personal butler, Sandals Negril is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful resorts in the Caribbean.

Enjoy a well-deserved Virtual Vacation Break and drool over some pictures of Sandals Negril.

Sandals Resorts in St. Lucia

One of our Travel Advisors recently returned from an educational trip to St. Lucia, where she was able to tour and experience two of the Sandals Resorts – Grande St. Lucian and Regency La Toc.

Although both are Sandals resorts, they each have a very different feel, making them unique.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Let’s take a look at some of the drool-worthy pictures she shared from her visit.

Enjoy!


Sandals Grande St. Lucian


Sandals Regency La Toc

Topolino’s Terrace – Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends

I recently had the opportunity to have breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, located on the top of Disney’s Riviera Resort. This is a character breakfast, although it was quite different from character meals of the past.

My first impression of the restaurant is that it is beautiful! The entire hotel is beautiful, and if you’ve ever been to Europe, you’ll be showered with memories of your past trips.

The food was also delicious! Definitely not worth $60 per person, which is the flat rate for dining here. But because it is a character dining experience, I would expect the high price tag.

The characters at this meal are Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy. They are ADORABLE! They are all European versions of themselves — Mickey is a painter, Minnie is a poet, Donald is a sculptor, and Daisy is a ballerina.

The characters do NOT come to your table, and there are no physical interactions with them. They each take their turns coming out to dance and play around the restaurant. They will pose to allow you to take their picture, or sometimes they’ll pose perfectly for you to take a picture of them behind your children or for you to snap a selfie (but only while you are seated). Then all 4 of them will come out together to sing a song and do a dance. It’s super cute.

Overall, I am glad to have experienced this new restaurant and have the opportunity to check out a new Disney resort. But because of the high price tag, I won’t be rushing to do another character dining experience right away.

BONUS TIP: After your meal at Topolino’s Terrace, go outside, where there is a large seating area. The views up there are amazing!

Get to know Travel with Rick!

For those of you who have been long-time clients of Kingdom Magic Vacations and Must Love Travel, you may remember a popular travel vlog called Travel with Rick. The “Rick” of Travel with Rick happens to be Rick Howard, the owner and president of Must Love Travel.

Rick has traveled all over the world, and he loves bringing us along on his adventures. He took a little time off, but…he’s BACK!

Take some time getting to know Travel with Rick by checking out his website and his Facebook Page.

Check out his return to vlogging with this recent video —

Must Love Travel Chat: Disney’s Contemporary Resort

On this week’s Must Love Travel Chat video series, we talked all about Disney’s Contemporary Resort! One of our Travel Advisors, Jerren, recently came home from a personal vacation and was kind enough to share her experience.

Not only is Disney’s Contemporary Resort so close to the Magic Kingdom that you can walk, but the Resort offers amazing amenities, excellent dining, and a super fun pool.

Check it out! And to catch up on past Travel Chat episodes, you can view them all on our Must Love Travel Chat page.

The History of Character Dining at Walt Disney World

Character dining has been at the Walt Disney World Resort since 1977. The first character meal was located at Coconino Cove at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This meal was only available as a brunch on Sunday mornings. Reservations were not required at that time. Fast forward a few years to 1984, there were only 3 locations that hosted Disney Characters for breakfast. The Polynesian Village hosted Minnie’s Menehune, The Contemporary at the Terrace Cafe, and at the Village Restaurant in the Rainforest location we know today in Disney’s Springs. In 1989 the Village Character dining was named Chef Mickey’s and later in 1996 moved to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Reservations were required.

In just 2019, Character dining was all over the Walt Disney World Resort and expanded beyond breakfast to lunch and dinners, special meals, and even brunch at times. Reservations were required and would begin booking 180 days before arrival. It most certainly has become one of the most popular parts of a Disney Vacation. It really depends on who you talk to as to which one is the crowd favorite. Chef Mickey’s still ranks pretty high, but having a meal in Cinderella Castle isn’t too shabby either.

In late 2020 after Walt Disney World would safely reopen during the pandemic, Character dining made an appearance at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera for breakfast. Guests were so excited to sing along and wave as their favorite characters appeared. Soon other locations followed. Now you can go to the Garden Grill in Epcot, Chef MIckey’s at the Contemporary, Hollywood, and Vine at Hollywood Studios, Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom, and Ravello’s at the Four Seasons.

Due to social distancing and safety restrictions, your Character dining experience has changed, but the magic of their appearance certainly did not fade. During the Holiday Season 2020, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy dressed up in their holiday fashions at Disney’s Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios. The characters danced, waved, stood at a safe distance behind children for pictures, and addressed each table with cheer. The meal was partially served family-style, and each could choose their entree. Chef Mickey’s introduced Mickey and the gang in mid-December to dance their way through your meal. The buffet has been replaced with menu items, but you don’t lack for food! Just as delicious as ever.

Character dining will always be a favorite experience for families. Although all of them haven’t fully opened yet, there still is a chance you can snatch a reservation for your family. Reservations are currently being booked 60 days out on your My Disney Experience. If you don’t get in before you arrive at the resort, you can try on your mobile device during your stay.

Top 9 Coolest Things to Do in Alaska

Top 9 Coolest Things to Do in Alaska

There are plenty of reasons Alaska should be on your bucket list. Rugged glaciers, huge mountains and scenic landscapes offer ample experiences. You’ll want to explore as much as possible, so a cruise to Alaska—easily getting you to multiple destinations—is a perfect way to pack several adventures into one vacation. But where to start?

With incredible culture—like indigenous woodworking—and a plethora of unique animal sightings, the Last Frontier can seem like a lot of ground to cover, and you want to do it all. But not to worry; with four Royal Caribbean ships sailing the region and our list of top attractions, you have several ways to get out there and a head start in planning.

Here are Royal Caribbean’s top nine reasons a cruise to Alaska should be on your Bucket List:

 

A Whale of a Time

What: Join an intimate group of fellow travelers on a whale-watching adventure. You might see one or more of the eight species of whales that live in Alaskan waters (beluga, humpback, grey, orca, bowhead, blue, right, and minke) or native sea lions, porpoises and harbor seals.

Cool factor: Try your hand at species monitoring, plankton sampling and humpback whale identification the same way wildlife experts do it—using the unique pattern visible on the underside of the whale’s tail, known as the fluke.

Find it In: Juneau

Kayak to Islands

What: Paddle a single or double kayak through the Alaskan waters around the Tatoosh Islands for a different perspective, looking for bald eagles, sea lions, otters, starfish, and sea cucumbers.

Cool factor: Approximately 17 million acres. The islands are situated inside the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States—an area that’s bigger than the entire state of West Virginia!

Find it in: Ketchikan

Ride the Rails

What: Travel back in time to the Gold Rush, when the White Pass scenic railway—now a 107-mile railroad—was built to help reach the Yukon gold fields. You’ll travel 20 miles to the summit of the White Pass, checking out mountains, gorges and waterfalls along the way.

Cool factor: Your ride. You’ll get there in a vintage rail car, some of which date back to 1881.

Find it in: Skagway

Animal Adventures

What: Follow a naturalist through the dense Herring Cove estuary, the natural habitat of Alaska’s black bears, and try to spy on a bear’s fishing expedition in the salmon-rich streams. Don’t worry, the private viewing platform will allow you to watch from a safe distance.

Cool factor: The coastal rainforest. The icy adventure of American novelist Jack London may have you thinking that the Last Frontier is all snow and ice, but in fact, the southeast region of the state includes the very rare habitat that exists in only six other places outside Alaska.

Find it in: Ketchikan

Drift and Dine

What: Explore the Alaska SeaLife Center, a renowned aquarium and marine mammal rehab facility. You’ll spot sea lions, walruses and sea otters, and have the chance for some special one-on-one encounters with animals as varied as octopus and puffin. Then you’ll board a sightseeing vessel for your five-hour cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park, observing glaciers and marine life as a National Park Ranger points out highlights.

Cool factor: An all-you-can-eat Alaskan salmon and prime rib lunch. Save room to sample some of the local brews available at the Seward Brewing Company or Seward Alehouse. Alaska is number four on the list of states ranked by breweries per capita.

Find it in: Seward

ZipRider

What: The world’s largest zip line ride awaits just outside Hoonah, Alaska—home to the native Tlingit—with a vertical drop of 1,320 feet. You’ll top 60 mph before landing on a harbor side beach.

Cool factor: This zip line has a ride time of 1.5 minutes—now that’s fast.

Find it in: Icy Strait Point

Go for Halibut

What: Learn to fish in the waters of Ketchikan, home to a large concentration of Pacific halibut that is protected by strict fishing regulations. You might catch halibut weighing more than 100 pounds, though the smaller, 15- to 30-pounders tend to be even tastier.

Cool factor: Halibut is an important part of the local economy. The boat captain can also arrange to have your catch shipped home. And for instant gratification, grab halibut and chips at the Creek Street Grill, and you may even see a sea lion “dinner show” on the creek that the restaurant is named after.

Find it in: Ketchikan

Meet the Mushers

What: Travel in an 1898 vintage railcar along the famous White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, then meet and learn from a musher and dogsled team training for the next Iditarod competition.

Cool factor: Enjoy live racing demos with the sledding dogs. Your visit helps fund the team’s training.

Find it in: Skagway

Higher Straits

What: Ride an all-terrain vehicle on the rugged trails of Chichagof Island and get an interactive lesson in Tlingit culture in Icy Strait Point. This town, overseen by the Huna Totem Corporation, is an innovative collaboration between cruise lines and the local population to preserve the island’s heritage and introduce visitors to contemporary indigenous life, while also developing Alaskan-owned businesses. USA Today named the village one of the 10 reasons to visit Alaska.

Cool factor: We already mentioned that one of the world’s longest zip lines is nearby.

Find it in: Icy Strait Point

3-Part Video Series: O’ahu, Hawaii

We recently completed a 3-Part video series on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. Each episode highlights a different element of planning a Hawaiian vacation.

In Part 1, Tamsen focuses on Hawaiian culture and history. Tamsen spent years living on the island of O’ahu and has a deep respect and love for this beautiful island.

 

In Part 2, Annette highlights four of O’ahu’s most popular resorts.

 

In Part 3, Terri gives her recommendations for some of the best day adventures available, along with some delicious food recommendations.

 

Reach out to your own personal Must Love Travel Planner when you are ready to plan your next Hawaiian vacation!

Ale & Compass Restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is home to one of my favorite “hidden gems,” the Ale & Compass Restaurant. This delightful restaurant has not only a beautiful dining room but also a large and comfortable lounge.

The dining room serves breakfast and dinner, and the lounge serves light fare in the evenings. But I’ll tell you a tip…if there is something from the dining room menu that you are after — ask your bartender! The Cast Members will most likely help you out.

One of the Dining Rooms

The atmosphere is upscale casual, which appeals to the many guests of the Yacht Club Resort. If you are a foodie, this is a restaurant you must experience. The bread service alone is worth a try. On a recent stay at the Yacht Club, we dined at Ale & Compass three times (once in the dining room, twice in the lounge) because we kept wanting the bread service! (see below)

My absolute favorite dish was something I had on the last night – buffalo cauliflower. It was fantastic!

Roasted ‘Buffalo-style’ Cauliflower

Enjoy some foodie pics, and make sure to check out the Ale & Compass restaurant on your next Disney vacation!

Parker House Rolls and Spreads: Bacon Jam, Pub Cheese, Citrus Butter

‘Brick’ Lemon-Herb Half Chicken: Duck Fat-roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Broccolini, Sautéed Wild Mushroom, and Pan Jus

Bacon and Vermont Cheddar Burger

The best Bloody Mary – simple and spicy!

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