Month: May 2013

Christine’s Corner – Best Summer Cruises

Summer is the perfect time of year for cruising and water activities. I managed to tap into my travel agent resources to find some of the best cruises this summer and a few leading into fall for the planners. This is my list of excellent cruise deals where you can enjoy exclusive hosted cruises featuring complementary shore events and cocktails – for FREE!

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Crystal Cruises
 will be departing on July 13 for a
 12-day voyage on the Bounties of the Black Sea on the luxurious
 Crystal Symphony ship. My readers are automatically invited to an exclusive shore event: Livadia Palace and Organ Recital with Drinks. The Livadia Palace was a favorite summer refuge of the last remaining Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and is located in Ukraine.

Celebrity Cruises
 will be departing on July 26, for a 
10-night voyage to the Norwegian Fjords on the 
Celebrity Infinity ship. My readers are automatically invited to an 
exclusive shore event: The Original Bergen with snacks.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
 will be departing on July 28, for a
 7-night voyage to the Royal Baltic
on on the Seven Seas Voyager. My readers are automatically invited to an exclusive shore event: Finnish Food Tasting and Helsinki Highlights.

Crystal Cruises
 will be departing on September 2, for a 9-day European voyage on the
 Crystal Serenity ship. My readers are automatically invited to an exclusive shore event: Lisbon Icons with Lunch and Shopping in Chiado.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises 
will be departing on October 17, for a 7-night Italian Interlude on the
 Seven Seas Mariner ship. My readers are automatically invited to an
exclusive shore event: The 3 Gem’s of the Gulf: Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita with Italian Lunch

For pricing and additional information on any of the cruises listed above please feel free to contact a travel concierge at 866-418-0607.

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Christine’s Corner – Top Summer Activities and Where To Do Them

Summer is approaching and I know so many of us are looking forward to spending more time outdoors, enjoying longer daylight hours and soaking up the sun. Reports show that travel for Memorial Day weekend and summer is on the rise. According to surveyed travelers 30% said they are planning to travel this Memorial Day weekend and an astonishing 86%  said they are planning a leisure trip this summer. In fact I’m taking a trip to NYC in mid June and I can’t wait! If anyone else is planning to be there around the same time please leave a comment! I would love to help you plan or even meet up to grab a bite in the city. I’ve done some research on what the most popular summer activities and vacation destinations will be this year. These are my picks for popular summer activities and where to do them.

Shopping in NYC

Surveys show that the most popular activity this summer is shopping and what better place to shop than NYC, which happens to be the most popular U.S. destination for summer travel according to respondents. Shopping in Soho is how I plan to start my trip in NYC. Soho is the city’s poshest outdoor mall with cobblestone streets and loft like spaces. You can find designer pieces such as Chanel, Docle and Gabbana and Marc Jacobs. Madison Ave will be the next stop on my list followed by Herald Square on 34th street where the largest Macy’s in the world is located. Shopping in NYC wouldn’t be complete without a trip to famous China Town where thousands of tourists go every year to get knock offs that look like their favorite designer pieces. I will be writing another blog about my NYC trip when I get back so stay tuned!

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Catch a Red Sox game in Boston

Boston is projected to be another popular U.S. destination this summer. With tons of parks and green spaces Boston has a lot of outdoor activities to offer. Boston is also home to the major league baseball team the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox, sits conveniently in the middle of the city making it easy for fans to catch a game. Arriving a few hours early gives fans the opportunity to have drinks and watch batting practice before the game starts. If you can’t get tickets to the game or the Red Sox are on the road you can always take a tour of the stadium and grab a beer at one of the many surrounding bars in the area.

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Visit a Museum in D.C.

With D.C. being so rich in history it’s no surprise that it will be a popular travel destination this summer. If you love local Museums like I do then you’ll absolutely love D.C. because there’s a ton of really great Museums! Travel Tip: Talking to locals is a great way to explore a new city or even visit a destination that you’ve been to before because they can tell you about their city better than anyone else can. A dear friend of mine recommend that we go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum which was the most memorable part of my trip. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Newseum are also great museums in the area. Visiting the nation’s capitol wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Nation Mall to see historic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, the War Memorial and the National Monument.

Go to the beach in Miami

Trips to the beach are usually popular during the summer, especially after a long harsh winter and a chilly spring. Now that summer is almost here we are all dying to gather a group of friends to pile up in the car for a beach trip. South Beach is one of the hottest beaches in Miami and I mean that both literally and figuratively. South Beach has beautiful clear blue water and a lot of eye candy. Near by  Ocean Drive offers a variety of activates and events as well as several restaurants. There is always something going on at South Beach. Other beaches in Miami include Haulover Beach, Sunny Isles and Virginia Key Beach.

Destination Spotlight: Orlando

Orlando, FL – The City Beautiful

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Located in the heart of the Sunshine State, the City Beautiful, as called by many, offers a variety of attractions. Orlando has something for everyone. To start, it is home to world-class renowned theme parks that include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World Parks, as well as water parks and other themed attractions. It’s no wonder Orlando has been recognized as the most-visited city in the nation for several years.

Located roughly 21 miles southwest of downtown Orlando, Walt Disney World covers an area of over 30,000 acres, including four theme parks, two water parks, 23 on-site themed resort hotels, a campground, two spas and physical fitness centers, five golf courses, and other entertainment spots such as Downtown Disney, which offers shops, restaurants, a Cirque De Soleil show, a multiplex movie theater, and live music and dancing at the House of Blues, a restaurant and nightclub venue. It is the world’s most-visited theme park and resort, attracting a variety of national and international tourists.

One of Orlando’s newer theme parks, Universal Orlando Resort originally opened as Universal Studios Florida in 1990. The resort now consists of two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida, where visitors can ride the movies, as the park’s slogan goes, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which features premier roller coasters, the award-winning Spiderman experience, and the whimsical world of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando Resort also includes CityWalk, an entertainment venue offering shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, in addition to concerts at the Hard Rock Live, and three first-class Loews hotels, as well as a Loews movie theater. It is the second-largest theme park in Central Florida.

For those who love animals, especially those creatures that call the ocean home, Sea World will delight and entertain, with its fish, shark, penguin, and sea turtle exhibits that are paralleled by none. The park also features captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows, and is home to Shamu, the most famous killer whale to ever grace the East Coast.

But theme parks aren’t all Orlando is known for. The city is also a hub for conferences and conventions, thanks to its state-of-the-art convention center that attracts businesses near and far. There’s also downtown Orlando, a metropolitan mix of hip bars and nightclubs, cool, kitschy shops, and restaurants with cuisine to fit any appetite. For sports fans, Orlando is home to the Amway Center, one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the world, with 18 high-resolution displays inside and a large exterior display of over 5,000 LED sticks, making it hard to miss on your drive down Interstate 4, the city’s main highway. The Amway Center is also home to the Orlando Magic basketball team and the Orlando Predators arena football team. In 2012, it hosted the NBA All-Star Game, and starting in fall 2012, the Amway Center will also be home to the reincarnated Orlando Solar Bears hockey team.

And for those who like art and culture, Orlando has a variety of museums, a thriving arts district downtown featuring an eclectic mix of galleries, and several professional and semiprofessional theater houses.

Christine’s Corner – Orlando Theme Parks Special

Being that THL Vacations is located in Orlando, FL the theme park capital of the world, it’s my pleasure to announce some of the newest and largest them park renovations. Right now several theme parks are making history with larger than life expansions and additions. Seaworld, Universal and Disney are all competing for your attention with these new one-of-a-kind experiences.

Seaworld

SeaWorld’s newest attraction Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin will make its huge debut in just a couple of weeks on May 24th. The grand opening of Antarctica will takes guests on a journey to one of the iciest, driest and windiest places on the planet. The new attraction explores to the bottom of the world where guests will encounter a massive penguin colony with exhilarating family rides for a one-of-a-kind experience the whole family will enjoy. Prepare to be astonished! SeaWorld Orlando has also introduced an app promoting Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. The app is free and is available on iPhones, iPads and Android phones. It includes “create-and-share” videos and “making of” videos about the theme-park attraction recorded as the largest expansion in SeaWorld history. SeaWorld has also designed screensavers and wallpapers, plus a new ringtone that mimics the squawks and honks of a gentoo penguin.

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Universal

Transformers is the newest attraction at Universal Orlando. The theme park generated a lot of buzz by using the side of a Fairwinds Credit Union Tower building in downtown Orlando, FL to announce the opening date for its newest attraction “Transformers: The Ride – 3D.” The message on the building reads, “Prepare for Battle: June 20,” and was clearly visible for drivers on the near by instate. The huge image of a transformer along with a few crashed cars placed next to the building are all apart of the awesome display. Transformers: The Ride will be a 3D, mind-blowing, action packed ride that pushes the limits of technology to places guests in the middle of thrill seeking battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons.

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Universal recently announced that they are expanding The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to include Diagon Alley, which will be the next major addition to Universal Orlando.  Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment teamed up for an expansion of historic proportion with a brand new themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is scheduled to open sometime in 2014 and will expand across both Universal theme parks. The new area will have a London like feel as it were in the Harry Potter books and films. Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.

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Disney World

Fantasyland is Disney World’s newest attraction stretched across 10 new acres of Disney property. The park brings Disney’s most memorable movies to life. The largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom includes themes from The Little Mermaid, Storybook Circus, Beauty and the Beast and Dumbo. Each of the new areas includes something magical for guests to experience. The park is extremely interactive and encourages participation in the different Disney stories. Guests truly have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the magic of Fantasyland. More additions to the fun will continue through 2014, upon completion Fantasyland will nearly double in size! Upcoming attractions will include Princess Fairytale Hall and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

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The newly revamped Test Track at Walt Disney World’s Epcot quenches the need for speed. Disney’s Imagineers teamed up with Chevrolet to introduce this one-of-a-kind experience. Guest are able to virtually design their own racecar by selecting everything from the engine size, to tailored wheels and front grills. Once the design is complete they get to race the car they created! The Test Track at Disney offers a trill of a lifetime. The technology behind this concept is astonishing and makes designing your own racecar very simple.

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More information on these new expansions as well as ticket prices and special deals can be acquired by calling a travel agent at 866-418-0607.

Christine’s Corner – 4 Cruise Ships Mom Will Love

 

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching it’s time to start considering what to get for mom. I’m sure she has enough perfume, jewelry, pictures, cookbooks and flowers. Be a little more creative this year and get her something she will really appreciate, like a vacation! I’ve compiled a list of cruise ships mom will love. Whether your pitching in with other siblings to send your mom on a cruise or you want to send your wife on vacation for being such a great mom, these are a few ships mom is sure to love that wont break the bank.

Royal Caribbean – Enchantment of the Seas

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This newly enhanced Cruise ship has 11 decks, 8 pools and 8 bars and lounges. The adult’s only solarium pool is a great place to take a refreshing dip. After dinner mom can indulge in some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert, then catch a Broadway style show or salsa moments at Boleros Latin-themed lounge. A Mother’s Day vacation wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the fabulous Vitality Spa. The Vitality Spa offers a wide variety of services including everything from Botox, facials and body wraps to massages, acupuncture and teeth whiting. The best part is rates start as low as $219 per person for three night cruise on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the seas leaving May 10th and $269 per person for four night cruise on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the seas leaving May 13th .

Carnival Ecstasy

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The Carnival Ecstasy is a whole lot of ship being 855 feet long. The grand atrium is sure to make a huge first impression on mom as she boards the ship. With several pool areas, restaurants, bars and casinos there’s always something for mom to do, or she can do nothing at all and relax at the Serenity Adult Only Retreat. The ship offers formal and causal wear dining options and amazing health club and Vegas style productions in the Blue Sapphire Lounge. Rates start as low as $389 per person for a five night stay departing on May 11th .

Carnival Dream

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The Carnival Dream is cruisers dream come true. There’s so much to do on this ship from heart racing waterslides to world-class entertainment. The ship is known for bars like its RedFrog Rum Bar and Bluelaguna Tequila Bar. This ship is also known for the amazing dinning. The Carnival Dream features two duel-level dinning rooms, a gourmet steakhouse and the popular Lido Restaurant. After all that eating and drinking mom is sure to enjoy the soul-soothing Thalassotherapy pool at the Cloud 9 Spa. Rates start from $949 per person for a seven night stay leaving on May 11th.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

The newly enhanced Freedom of the Seas is the perfect treat for mom. It has 10 pools and whirlpools and over 100 spa treatments! She can catch a movie in the 3D theater or under the stars on the outdoor movie screen. Freedom of the seas is know for features such as the FlowRider ® surf simulator, rock climbing wall, ice-skating rink, Royal Promenade, cantilevered whirlpools, mini golf course and H2O Zone water park. Rates start at $949 per person for a seven day cruise leaving May 12th.