Royal Caribbean is excited to announce the establishment of RoyalCaribbean Group’s Healthy Sail Panel — a team of the best minds and leaders in public health, biosecurity, epidemiology, hospitality, and maritime operations.
This diverse team has been enlisted to develop recommendations and guide the cruise industry forward with unprecedented standards in response to COVID-19. Their combined expertise will help reinforce current safety procedures onboard ships, create new ones, and ensure our vacation experience.
Their collective efforts will be shared across the cruise industry, as well as other industries that may benefit from their findings — because we’re all in this together.
Often times, the destination of our vacation is not as important as the travelers we spend it with. Time away from the hustle and bustle is time together with family and friends, allowing us to form deeper connections with people who enrich our lives.
As travel professionals, we love to help families and groups find the ideal setting that lets them connect and see the world in a brand-new way. We surround you with like-minded travelers, helping you form new connections and make new friends, and we introduce you to amazing guides and friendly locals when possible. Travel is all about that human touch, which is why booking travel through a human produces more authentic and life-changing experiences.
That’s why we vacation — Contact our expert advisors today to connect with those who matter most.
During our agency event aboard the Celebrity Infinity our very first port of call was Key West Florida! For many of our team including myself this was our first time ever in Key West! To say that we enjoyed the town would be an understatement! We absolutely LOVED IT! Many of us all began talking that night once back on the ship about how we want to plan a full Florida Keys vacation to be able to experience even more of what this wonderful and vibrant town has to offer!
The vibe in the air is so laid back. The streets of Key west are full of history, story and breathtaking sights! From the colorful pastel buildings to the shadows of the palm trees – everything is so picture perfect!
For a group of us our day began with an Incredible breakfast at Blue Heaven! This eclectic joint is a local favorite and the atmosphere was perfect to get us in that Key West state of mind. After breakfast we set out to start exploring. We first made our way to a Key West icon – the southernmost point! We invented our own pro tip for getting a picture with the southernmost point! There is always a massive line to take a picture with the southernmost point. The line can get well up to over a half an hour wait! We discovered if you sit on the wall in front of the southernmost point and wait until people are in-between going up for a picture, you can snap a perfect selfie with the point in the background!
After grabbing out selfies we made our way to Duval Street and took in many of the shops and sights there was to see! We then made our way to schooner wharf where we met up with a large group of our team to enjoy drinks and live entertainment on the marina. I loved the atmosphere here and getting to see the beautiful crystal blue water and gorgeous boats in dock.
For lunch a group of us went to Conch Republic Seafood Company. I order the Gulf Red Shrimp and and it was absolutely incredible! I had never before had Gulf Red Shrimp. I taste more like lobster meat than it does shrimp. SO GOOD!
A group of us then set out to continue exploring the town. We enjoyed checkin out more iconic locations such as Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Margaritaville. We also enjoyed doing one of the hop-on-hop-off trolly tours. This was a great way to get around the town and get to see all the locations that we wanted to check out. During your ride on the trolly tour your host also gives you information and facts about the town of Key West. It was a great way to learn about the history of all the sights we were gettin to tour!
You can watch highlights from our Key West day in our new YouTube video:
Contact our team at Must Love Travel to plan your next adventure!
Last week some of our Must Love Travel team spent the week in Punta Cana learning about some of the amazing resorts and properties this beautiful destination has to offer! So many resorts stood out to us! Today I am excited to share with you some details about Nickelodeon Punta Cana.
This property is a Karisma Resorts. Karisma is a wonderful gourmet all-inclusive resort brand. The Nickelodeon Punta Cana is one of their newest properties. This resort is themed to all things Nickelodeon!
I was wowed by this great resort! Given the name Nickelodeon, I was expecting this resort to be very kid-oriented. Which it absolutely is! This resort is a paradise for kids with exciting activities for them and fun touches from some of their favorite Nickelodeon shows! However, what I didn’t expect was how much was also available for adults which would make this resort a great pick even for couples or families without young children.
The resort has an on-sight water park which is massive and full of exciting family activities! Additionally, you can enjoy the breathtaking beaches and relaxing pools! The restaurants here are all so well themed. We got to sample some of the food from a few of these dining locations and everything we tried was delicious! There are even night clubs and bars for adults. Adults will love the gourmet food offerings that this resort provides. And of course there are many family friendly options for everyone!
The rooms here are very sleek and inviting. The Nickelodeon theme is present but not in your face. There are some subtle touches of Nickelodeon characters and pops of Nickelodeon’s iconic orange color. There are room types to fit whatever you might be looking for! From standard hotel rooms, to suites and even pool super villas!
After visiting this resort, I highly recommend it for all that it has to offer. Contact your Must Love Travel Planner today to plan your next vacation!
We all know that when you start to think about your next vacation it can be overwhelming. You want to make sure that you are finding just the right destination for your traveling party and you also want to make sure that you get the best value for your money. First you will want to contact your professional travel planner here at Must Love Travel! Your planner will be able to take all the stress away from planning your trip and will save you so much time in trying to find that perfect place and the best deal. Let’s talk about a great vacation, and that would be an All-Inclusive Resort! Let’s highlight why an All-Inclusive vacation can be right for you!
– All-Inclusive vacations are a great way to save money. There are so many choices; which leads to great deals. We as travel planners know all the new promotions that are available. With an All-Inclusive there will be no additional cost to you. Once you budget your vacation you know that all food and drinks are included. The only extra cost would be up to you if you ad on an excursion.
– With an All–Inclusive resort you feel like royalty! The wonderful staff makes it apparent that you don’t have to work at all! You are on your vacation and they strive to make everything perfect for you! This means bringing you room service, taking care of your luggage. The staff is always happy to help so that you can relax and enjoy your stay.
– There are many All-Inclusive resorts to suite your needs. From 5-star luxury resorts, couples resorts or budget and family friendly alternatives. We will be able to find you the current deals for the All-Inclusive that fits your needs as well as give you recommendations for the resort that would best fit your interest!
-At an All-Inclusive each resort has its own entertainment and facilities to keep you as relaxed or as busy as you choose to be! You can spend your time by the pool or catching some sun on the beach. Or you can fill your days with adventurous excursions and resort activities! OR… a little mix of both! There is something for everyone!
Recently some of our Must Love Travel Planners got the opportunity to visit some of the AM Resorts in Punta Cana! On this Island they had many resorts and each was tailored to fit a certain demographic and some fit many demographics. There are resorts for couples, friends traveling for fun and family friendly resorts with so many activities to do at each. So when planning your next vacation you should consider an All-Inclusive and we will help you find what is best for your travel needs!
Our Travel Planner Annette Colburn recently visited Hawaii! I sat down with her recently via a video chat to talk all things Hawaii! Annette shared with me that the islands of Hawaii are one of her absolute favorite destinations! Through our conversation, she shared with me a few of the reasons why Hawaii is her happy place as well as why Hawaii is a perfect destination for truly everyone!
Annette shared that Hawaii is ideal for couples, families, kids, truly everyone! Everyone can find something that they enjoy! She detailed that Hawaii is filled with romance making it a great spot for couples! From renewing your vows, to your honeymoon or even a romantic getaway, Hawaii can provide the most amazing backdrop for you and your partner! Families can enjoy some relaxing time on the beach or choose to take some incredible once in a lifetime excursions to experience everything the islands have to offer!
I asked Annette what her favorite excursion was and she said she loved snorkeling and whale watching! She showed me the incredible photo she captured of a whale jumping out of the water and it is so breathtaking! Annette shared with me that she loves wildlife so seeing these beautiful creatures was a real stand out moment!
You can hear more in our new YouTube video!
I personally have always wanted to travel to Hawaii and now that I have heard Annette’s stories I am even more excited to one day get to experience this beautiful state!
I would like to thank our wonderful Must Love Travel Planner Annette Colburn for sharing her incredible Hawaii experiences with me! Contact our Must Love Travel team today to plan your next vacation to Hawaii or to wherever your dream destination is! We are excited to make your travel dreams a reality!
This past November I embarked on a brand-new travel adventure, MY VERY FIRST CRUISE! Our 2018 Must Love Travel Agency Event took us aboard the beautiful Celebrity Infinity. This trip was my very first cruise that I had ever been on and it was such an amazing experience! I learned so much about so many new and exciting places that I had never been to before such as the Florida Keys and the Bahamas! I got to enjoy fellowship and education time with my wonderful colleagues! I also came away from the trip with an in-depth knowledge of cruising!
Prior to this first cruise I was filled with so much excitement as well as so many questions. I didn’t know what to expect with this new mode of travel and was so curious as to how it all worked. Like with everything in life, we learn through first-hand experience! Through my experience onboard the Celebrity Infinity I came away with having all of my cruising questions answered! Today I am excited to share with you 7 of the things I learned during my first cruise! I hope that this information and tips help you know what to expect whether you are about to embark on your first cruise or your 100th cruise!
Get a Drink Package
Many cruise lines offer a drink package. We all had the option to add one of these drink plans on before our sailing. I opted not to get a drink package, I enjoy indulging in a drink or two but that’s about my limit. For me personally I didn’t feel that I would get my money’s worth out of having a beverage package. I was planning to just pay for any drinks I wanted outright throughout the cruise. When the day came to set sail, I was checking in at the terminal and received such a kind upgrade! The Celebrity crew member at check in saw on my license that I had recently celebrated my 21st birthday and gave me the drink package complimentary. What an amazing start to my first ever cruise! Here was where I had my first learning experience. I feel that I definitely made the most out of having a beverage package. What I was unaware of was the fact that even drinks such as iced tea, coffee, sodas and other fountain drinks are all additional charges. Having a drink package allowed me to get these beverages as well as enjoy some alcoholic beverages. In the end when you crunch the numbers having a drink package definitely will save you money in the long run. It is important to know that every cruise line is different in terms of what beverages are included free and what drinks are an up-charge. Different cruise lines offer different types of drink packages and many cruise lines even have different tiers of beverage plans. The best way to know which plan is best for you is to talk to your Must Love Travel Planner! Our team has already done the research and can offer you the best advice to save you money and maximize your vacation experience.
Bring a Lanyard
On a cruise, you will be given your stateroom card, this card does so much more than just open your cabin door. This card is also your form of onboard payment, your ID, and it is loaded up with any credits you may have such as a beverage package. You find yourself using this little card all the time. With that in mind it is a good idea to have a lanyard with a clear pouch to house this card in. This eliminates the need to carry your wallet or bag with you throughout the ship. I saw many people on the ship who had cruise lanyards. I instantly made note that I needed to get one after seeing how useful this item was! The onboard gift shops will sell lanyards; however they are going to up-charge you quite a lot on the ship! I saw lanyards in the gift shop for around $20. That is why my best tip is to plan ahead and purchase your lanyards before you set sail. You can find generic lanyards and even some very cute and stylish lanyards on sites such as Amazon for right around $5. Trust me, this item will be super convenient!
Optimize Device Charging
Staterooms on a Cruise Ship can be much smaller compared to a standard hotel room. This is just something to be aware of when planning. With proper planning, you will be able to maximize your space to the fullest! Something I encountered was the fact that our stateroom had just one outlet with 2 plugs. Only 2 devices could be plugged in and charging at one time. Once again this was just how it was on our particular ship. Many newer ships come equipped with more outlets and plugs. However, just because you are limited on outlets doesn’t mean you can’t still charge all your devices and gadgets, bring a charger block or a power strip. Devices such as these will allow you to plug multiple device into just one outlet. Another tip I can give is to bring a European adaptor if you have one. Our Stateroom also had a European outlet with two European plugs. This is common on Cruise Ships because they sail all over the world and have passengers from all around the world! Had I brought along a European adapter I could have gained a whole other outlet to use!
Cell Phone Use Onboard
One of the things I was most curious about prior to my first cruise was how cell phones worked at sea! I ended up being able to use my phone during the entire duration of the cruise with these tips. I put my phone in airplane mode to make sure I would not get roaming charges. Be aware of the fact that your phone may still work out at sea but you might get hit with extremely high roaming charges. I recommend talking to your cell phone service carrier prior to your sailing to know your range. Even in airplane mode I was able to still call and text with people back on land because I enabled wifi calls and texts. This is a feature that most smart phones have that you can use wifi to call, text and even facetime! I purchased the ships wifi package in order to do this and found that the onboard wifi was very strong and I always got a great connection. If you are wanting to use your phone in port in a different country I would also recommend talking to your service provider before your sailing telling them where you are traveling so you can find out if you can get service. My cell phone company offers a great program where I can pay for an international plan per day. I was able to utilize this during our day in port in Nassau Bahamas.
As a first-time cruiser, motion sickness was a fear in the back of my mind. I am happy to report I was absolutely fine during our sailing and never felt any motion sickness symptoms. My best advice to you if you are concerned with motion sickness is to just be prepared. I picked up motion sickness pills prior to sailing to keep with me as a precaution. I also bought a product called “Sea Bands.” These are bands that go around your wrist and apply pressure on certain pressure points that are supposed to naturally reduce the feelings of motion sickness. The first night of our sailing we were just getting out to sea and in this area the water was a bit choppier. I was noticing the motion more so choose to put these band on as a precaution. I felt great the entire night so I definitely think this product works wonderfully!
Prepare to put Luggage out the Night Before You Disembark
The evening before you disembark you may be instructed to place your luggage outside of your stateroom to be collected by your host. They take your bags away so that the next day they can handle getting the luggage off the ship for you. Every cruise line has different procedures but this is definitely helpful. The morning you depart you don’t have to worry about maneuvering your luggage all around the ship! It is a great system; however, this is just something that you need to be aware of so you can plan ahead. Know that on your final evening of the cruise you will have to gather from your luggage any items that you need for that evening or for the next morning. I just had my backpack with me and I definitely had to do a lot of consolidating and reorganizing to get my essentials to fit in my small carry-on. I made it work but in the future I would definitely plan to bring along a packable tote bag that can be used for this exact purpose. With a packable tote, you can repack just those essentials for that night and the next day and not have to worry about not having enough bag space.
Plan with Your Must Love Travel Planner!
My first Cruise experience definitely gave me the cruising bug! I saw that there is so much to do and see during a cruise vacation! You are onboard a floating luxury hotel that is whisking you away to new and exciting destinations! A cruise is multiple vacations inside a vacation! You can make your cruise relaxing, adventurous or a perfect mixture of both! There are so many options to choose from when it comes to activities to experience on the ship, to excursions you can take in port! With this in mind it is important to go into your cruise vacation with a plan and a knowledge of all of your choices so that you can guarantee you won’t miss out on anything that you really want to do. This prior research will allow you to make the most out of your vacation! The best way to do this is by contacting your Must Love Travel Planner! Our team can use their knowledge and experience to give you recommendations and tips that will enable you to get the most from your vacation! Your job is to relax and enjoy while we do the work part for you!
Hear more in our new YouTube Video:
I hope these 7 things I learned on my first cruise will answer some of your questions about cruising. I highly recommend planning a cruise vacation. I am already counting down the days until I get to set sail again! If you still have questions about a cruise, know that your Must Love Travel Planner will be your advocate and answer any questions you may have! As always, our team at Must Love Travel is happy to help you plan your next vacation! Happy Cruising!
Do you have Bucket List travel dreams? I sure do – and I was able to check a big one off my list after experiencing Italy with Adventures by Disney.
Any time you travel outside of the country, it can be a bit intimidating. Disney takes that fear away, as they meet you right outside of Customs at the airport. They even had my luggage ready for me!
We were whisked away to our 5-star hotel, The Gran Melia in Rome, where we met our 2 Adventure Guides. Every Adventures by Disney Tour includes 2 Adventures Guides – a local expert, and an American guide. Together they make the entire experience seamless.
Our tour started right away, with special backstage passes at the Coliseum. We were allowed onto the actual stage where the gladiators fought. It was incredible!
All along the way, you are given backstage, front-of-the-line, VIP passes everywhere you go. The highlight of Rome for me was getting a special after-hours, private tour of the Vatican Museum, which concluded with a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. And Shhhhhh don’t tell anyone, but they even let us take pictures (normally this is forbidden!).
After Rome, we took off for Tuscany, which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Don’t get freaked out by being on a bus – it is an AWESOME bus, and the Guides do a great job of keeping everyone entertained on the longer stretches. Although, there are hardly any long rides. Everything is always broken up with more Adventures. For example, on our drive to Tuscany, we stopped for lunch at the medieval town of Orvietto and had a beautiful lunch on the top of the countryside.
Checking in to our Tuscan Hotel was a dream. They had a private courtyard waiting for us, with delicious food and prosecco. We all nibbled on cheese and enjoyed our wine while our Adventure Guides got us checked in to the hotel.
The highlight of my entire Tuscan Adventure was the day spent at Sara’s Farm. We received a special tour, met some of Sara’s lovely family members, enjoyed a private pasta-making class with Sara, and wined and dined outdoors while enjoying a delicious lunch and wine tasting, all while overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany. It was just delightful!
Venice began with a Gondola ride, which was made even more special with the addition of a singer and accordion player, who were right in my Gondola. It was so beautiful!
If you want to feel completely immersed in the culture, and experience everything like a VIP rock star – Adventures by Disney is the best!
We all have bucket lists right? Or at least we have some grand ideas of things we want to do in our heads but yet to write them down. I have a little bit of both! I have my list of things I would like to do by myself, another list of things to do with my husband and then there is the list of things to do with friends. Regardless of the list, there is one item I have on all of them and I was able to check one of those off this month! What is it? Well, my dream has always been to have the resources enough to at the drop of a hat ( or within days) to say I want to go ……. And then just do it! Yep – last minute travel to somewhere!
Last week I checked off that by planning a very very last minute trip to Jamaica with a friend, who too is a travel planner with our company. We have traveled many times together and we just know what we both like to do, what we like to eat, when to work and when to relax. You might say we are perfect travel companions in that respect. Our trip came up because I have been caring for my dear mom whose terminally ill and is at home. We don’t have a large family as it is just my brother and myself along with our dad. My brother is out of state but has come in to help as much as he can, but for the most part, I am the closest caregiver. My Aunt wanted to visit from another state and help out so I could get some rest time so when my friend asked if I could get away it seemed like a perfect time. 4 nights in the Caribbean fit the bill.
Last minute travel proved to be exhilarating! That may seem like an odd way to put it, but it was! From the moment we said let’s do it and got the ok from our spouses, we searched the resort and booked it, checked out flights and booked those, finished up some household chores, and packed a carry-on of only the essentials and took off! 3 days and we were off! We selected an All- Inclusive, Sandals, Royal Caribbean, as our destination because we didn’t want to worry about where to dine, and what to do. It was all there! Now typically, Sandals isn’t a “girlfriend” getaway, as it is for couples, but we wanted to see it and made it work. With free wi-fi, we were able to keep up with our work and stay in contact with my parents.
Packing for this trip was the easiest thing I ever did. It maybe took me 30 minutes! I threw in a few bathing suits since that would be the main activity, a few sundresses, two pairs of shoes, minimum makeup and toiletries, and my computer! That was it. I was sooo proud of myself for having done that as everyone laughs at me because I typically need one suitcase for my shoes and jewels! So since packing was so easy – so was unpacking when I got home!
We took advantage of the entertainment provided by Sandals, which was excellent! There was something going on every night and since there are a few Sandals properties in the Montego Bay area, you have privileges to utilize all the amenities at each of them so that made it more fun. Our room was in the most perfect location. Just about 20 steps out our patio door was a beautiful pool right on the beach. We had the best of both worlds. I felt a little guilty but I hogged the float for the entire 4 days! I only got off to go running to the bathroom, because our favorite person to see was Clarissa who just handed us our tropical delights right in the pool! Can I say amazing! Our food was prepared and brought to us if we didn’t want to head to the restaurant, and there was such a variety that we felt like we were also on a culinary journey.
I have also always wanted to crash a wedding, and even though we didn’t officially “crash” a wedding, we did stroll by several that took place at the resort while we were there. It was hard to resist photobombing, but we remained respectful!! LOL. Destination weddings are very popular and Sandals does know how to make them special. In fact, romance is a fragrance that is all over a Sandals property. Candlelight dinners, photo shoot opportunities, couples celebrating makes for the perfect backdrop. So you see when I say we made it work, we simply enjoyed the resort and meeting all the people. Relaxation was our motive!!
I am so looking forward to doing this again someday. It was one of the best getaways I have ever been on and yes it was so exhilarating!
Gorgeous white sand beaches, savory dining experiences, opulent accommodations, unlimited refreshing beverages, exciting watersport and more! Sandals are adult only resorts while Beaches are for families.
Sandals and Beaches is a privately owned and their resorts are hand-picked by the owner Gordan Stewart. Their own In-House design team is responsible for every aspect of the design incorporating some of the most cutting-edge design developments. They work with local experts selecting a theme for all of the Landscapes and gardens that reflect the local attributes, they have custom-designed dive boats, and some of the most extravagant and creatively designed suites in the Caribbean!
Sandals and Beaches offer more quality inclusions than any other all-inclusive destination. Award-winning service, the most pristine beaches, unlimited scuba diving, quality land sports, state of the art fitness centers, unlimited golf at select locations, free weddings, more unique suites, more discovery dining, more entertainment and more island adventures. Exclusive to Beaches resorts, Sesame Street Characters, Very Important Kids Camps, X=Box and Kinect and water parks.
Everyone loves unique dining experiences and Sandals and Beaches resorts have it all. Menus are well thought out including regional Italian specialties, Signature dishes, and wonderful themed buffet experiences. Premium Liquor and Fine wine are a trademark, ranging from Appleton rums at all resorts and Beringer Stone Cellars top quality pouring wines. Not to mention their authentic beer selections from around the world.
Sandals and Beaches are also one of the top Destination Wedding locations in the world! Their exclusive WeddingMoon packages are– Your Wedding and Your style. Such things as special suites, romantic private dining, Red Lane Spa’s and Snap Shots photography make your wedding perfect! Your Wedding Designer will work closely with you and your travel agent to ensure you have everything you need to make this one of the most memorable days of your lives.
My personal favorite is the Personal Butler Services offered with some of the top-tier categories. This is an only Sandals, Butlers trained by the guild of professional English Butlers. Your Butler wants you to expect the unexpected – prepared to be wowed with this awesome experience.
Make your next vacation a Sandals or Beaches vacation! There are many destinations in the Caribbean. Rooms sell out fast so plan ahead. Call Your Must Love Travel Planner today!
That is a loaded question! Everyone thinks they have the latest tips and tricks to purchasing airfare and although there may be some trends airfare is a line item on your budget that needs a healthy amount to cover you for your vacation.
As travel planners, we are familiar with the standard air prices from some of the most traveled cities and can give you a good idea of what you should budget for airfare for your next trip. There are a few tips that do help such as purchasing airfare around the 50 days prior to departure time, planning to travel the middle of the week and sometimes purchasing airfare on Tuesdays around 3 or after that may hold true to getting you a great price.
Here are a few guidelines that we have found helpful when looking for airfare for our clients.
Know your airlines. Which airlines depart for airports that you frequent. By watching these airlines you can follow their trends.
Don’t use sites that search several airlines at a time. There are airlines that do not post their flights on these sites and therefore you may not find the best price.
Watch when you compare pricing for the ancillary charges such as seat costs, and bags. You may land on an airline site, such as Spirit whose airline charge usually will produce lower rates, but then after adding ancillary charges, your price may be higher or very similar to other airlines that may be providing more, such as larger seat sizes and refreshments.
Consider the flight you are taking. If it is a flight longer than a few hours, you should consider the comfort of your seat. It may be worth the extra $50.00 to have a comfortable seat.
Time of departure, arrival and layovers all need to be taken in consideration. Often the early morning departures are the lower fares. That may look good on paper, but considering that you need to be at the airport 2 hours prior for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights, these early morning departures saving money may end up exhausting you – and if you travel with children – do I need to say more? Not only are you departing and arriving early, you then face waiting around for your hotel room to open. This can be several hours and you could have slept a little longer in the morning and arrived right when the room is open!
A basic budget for most domestic departures can be $250.00 – $350.00 per person. Of course, there are some less and some more, but this is a great place to start. Signing up with airline programs also allow you to watch fares. Frontier is a great one. They often send out notices of significantly discounted rates – the key is be ready to buy – they go fast! One additional item — make sure you have a place to go before you purchase air as you won’t want your hotel sold out either!
These are not all tried and true but may answer some of your questions. The bottom line, traveling by air gets you to where you need to go, but needs to be considered in your vacation budget in order to plan the rest of your vacation fun!
Vegas is one of those places the invokes many feelings, thoughts, concerns, and fun! Vegas lights, Vegas casinos, Vegas shows, one has to admit Vegas goes big!
I just returned from Vegas with my family. I have three “newly” adult children and we wanted to experience some of the things we could do by staying in Vegas and not having to rough it so to speak.
The highlight of our trip was by far visiting the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. No one could put in words or even take a picture that could adequately describe their experience standing in the edge of this amazing natural wonder. We decided to rent a car and drive ourselves rather than taking one of the bus tours. It turned out to be a great decision for us. We were in our own time. The drive was very easy, clearly marked, and great roads.
Our first stop in the drive was the Hoover Dam. The power source for many states. You can choose to just drive over or you can walk. We chose both! There are tours to visit the inner workings and learn all about the dam or you can just take it in yourself.
Hopping back in the car and heading to the west rim we drive across the barren land. Even though there was nothing green in sight we could not help but express it as beautiful. At one point we drove through an area that was filled with odd-looking trees! We find out they were called Joshua Trees. You could see them for miles!
Soon as we turned the corner there it was!! The Grand Canyon! Ahhhh! We visited the Hualapai Indian ranch. There are about 1350 Native American Indians in this tribe in Arizona. They have created a great tourist site to view the canyon via helicopter, boat, or just walking around. The Glass skywalk was worth every penny as you venture over the canyon. We ended our day eating at Sa NYU Wa restaurant, a one of a kind Grand Canyon experience. Food was excellent!
The rear of our week was filled with shows and shopping. Blue Man Group at the Luxor never disappoints. Fun at Excalibur with the dinner show cheering for our favorite King. A slip of the hand watching the magic of Nathan Burton winner of America’s Got Talent. All of them were perfect family fun. To view all the lights we decided to not only walk the strip, but also take the Big Bus Tour. Our guide was wonderful and shared the little secrets of the strip.
We celebrated our daughter 18th birthday at a fantastic Brazilian steakhouse in our own little room. Dining at Otto in the Venetian we were treated to Opera and even chimes in a few times!
Vegas was filled with girlfriend trips, guys getaways, honeymooners, no frills weddings even at the local Taco Bell, and yes plenty of families. There are some crazies here as I may call it, but good planning can make this a very enjoyable trip.
Visiting family and friends can open up the door to crossing off a bucket list destination and sharing it with them as well. Last week I had the opportunity to visit my brother’s family in San Francisco, CA. This has been a destination I have wanted to visit for a long time, and since he was stationed in the Coast Guard there and being that it was my niece’s high school graduation it was perfect time to check that destination off my list!
The highlight of this trip was our day to Napa. A scheduled tour of the Silverado Vineyards, established in 1981 by Ron and Diane Miller. Diane just happened to be Walt Disney’s daughter so that was extra exciting for me as a Disney fanatic! I asked for permission to share our day with you for this week’s blog post, so here goes!
(except from their brochure)
Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wines from the historic sites of their estate. The winery borrows its name from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed and wrote over a century ago. Three generations of Millers are still “prospecting” for wine, making something beautiful from the land under their care.
The ranches themselves were first planted to vineyards by Napa pioneers between 1865 and 1895. Each ranch played an important role in establishing the reputation of its growing area; Carneros, Coombsville, Yountville, Soda Canyon and Stags Leap District. The beautiful fruit from these vineyards is the exclusive source of Silverado Vineyards’ Estate and Single Vineyard wines; the Miller’s highest expression of the Napa Valley they love and admire.
Our wine tasting tour began with a sample of a Rose that they only share on site, as we were introduced to our Host, John Marchesini. John was a wealth of information and made our tour comfortable and informative. As we walked the halls of the winery, we were introduced to Diane’s passion for posters from the early 1900’s. She loved the colorful display these posters offered and wanted them displayed for all to see. There is actually one from the more recent movie Ratatouille that is now one of only 2 in existence. As we continued we were introduced to Ron’s passion for the arts. He collected a variety of paintings, some were paintings used on trains to entice visitors to come to San Francisco.
As John opened the door to the room of wine filled barrels, we caught the scent of the wine that escapes through the barrel and that they affectionately call the “Angels Share”. It put a smile on all of our faces! John shared how the barrels are labeled, made and stored. We proceeded throughout the pressing room, which is nothing short of impressive as we learned about the very large press to create and separate the juice and then to the bottling room. The Silverado Winery bottles their own wine which is rare as it is quite the operation and the machines are expensive. Although they were not bottling that day, it was fascinating to see the different stages the machine goes through to fill and package the bottles.
Jon Emmerich, Winemaker has been with the winery for 25 years and notes, “What can we do to make the wine better? My work is to show the qualities of the estate in the wine so the wines show harmony and depth.” This was evident as we proceeded to our tasting, which was situated in the main area as we were sat near the grand fireplace at a small table overlooking the vineyards! Picture perfect. A nice welcome menu with our name a top, listed our tastings; 2016 Chardonnay Carneros, 2013 Merlot, Mt George Vineyard (limited quantities), 2013 GEO Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville, and 2011 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District. Each had a beautiful quality and it was hard to say what the favorite was. I did favor the SOLO, however. John sat with us and answered our many questions and brought over some additional wines for us white wine lovers. We enjoyed hearing how the grapes change with the weather and how each growing season presents its opportunity to continued creations of fantastic wines.
I was so glad we had the opportunity to visit Silverado Vineyards. It was a testimony to the importance they place on the people that work there, the quality of product and presentation. To be successful it these are great qualities for any company to possess. I would have expected nothing less coming from someone from the Disney family! It made for a lovely day and one that I hope you may have the opportunity to have someday!
Visit Silveradovineyards.com to watch a wonderful video, learn more about the winery and maybe even order some wine! I want to thank John Marchesini for being a wonderful Host and for indulging us with the answers to all our questions!
Sail away to explore the world on a river cruise. Intimate, luxury, and adventure are just a few words that describe a journey aboard a river cruise.
River cruising is the fastest growing travel segment today. Most likely because it is a perfect way to see many iconic cities and historic locations. Unlike ocean cruising, your entire sailing is in view of beautiful scenery. Whether you are watching from your balcony or from one of the public areas aboard you will be engulfed in the
Many river cruises are all inclusive in nature and some include excursions as well. They dock right in the heart of the city allowing ease to set out and explore.
If you are a first time river cruiser, the Rhine is a perfect choice! It is beautiful any time of year! Sailing through the Rhine gorge is one of the most scenic sections of the Rhine sailing past castles, churches and vineyards!
There are many wonderful River Cruise lines to choose from. You will want to talk with your Travel Planner and discuss the best options for you.
Let’s address the myth out there about what really a travel planner’s job is. Many think we are always flying off to some wonderful vacation. True, we do take vacations just like you. However, many of our other trips are trips to educate, learn and discover new locations for our clients. These are long days of what we call site inspections. Granite they are in wonderful locations so that makes our work a bit more pleasant.
So what is behind the scenes of a travel planner? For many of us the day starts early when the home office is quiet and we can be prepared for the day. Many hours are invested into quoting and planning vacations. The quoting process alone can be 2-5 hours depending on the details of the trip. Even specializing in certain destinations, a travel planner will want to ensure they are matching up everything the client is looking for. It can even exceed the 5 hours it is an involved Itinerary to ensure the client is receiving multiple options just to get them started! From there the choices are narrowed down and then final quoting is done before completing the booking. Prices and availability can change at anytime so keeping up on it all is sometimes a challenge.
Once the client is prepared to book and deposit their vacation the administrative work begins. Reviewing and recording of information for accuracy takes time and is an extension to their customer service. Calendar reminders are set to ensure on time payments and important dates such as booking dining for a Walt Disney Resort guest. Once the booking is complete, then Itinerary planning begins! Meetings with clients to determine their most desirable activities and then research to find the best options to meet those needs. There are many hours of phone calls to make it all happen! They love it!! They do this for each of their clients and can be juggling many of these things each and everyday.
In addition, to servicing our clients, we are marketers and students. We spend time attending webinars, reviewing promotions from our preferred suppliers, and keep up on our social media, websites and local events. There are also occasions where travel planners have to troubleshoot and assist clients when things come up and plans need to change. This is a very important service we do as typically when things like this happen the client needs to be with family and just simply can’t focus on getting things done. There are times we joke that we dream about our clients vacations because the brain is always thinking!
Needless to say, there are many reasons to choose booking your vacations with a travel planner. They are you personal connection to your vacation. When using the services of a travel planner you don’t pay more money for the booking of a resort or a package as those are the same no matter how you book them. They can save you money as they receive the most updated information about various promotions and news about different destinations. Often, planners don’t charge a fee, however, when they do it is for the costs not covered by commissions. Just like we pay a lawyer a fee for their professional advice, travel planners may charge a fee for their research and itinerary planning. For many clients, this is well worth the money, as you can see it save many hours of time and headaches! You can always discuss this with your travel planner.
The real perk for a travel planner is the amazing people they meet. Lifelong friendships develop and knowing that they are responsible for helping their clients create moments that will last a lifetime is so rewarding. The best compliment for a planner is sharing their information with others and giving them feedback post trip. I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into some of the aspects of the job of a professional travel planner!