Cruises

Vacations… The Best Way to Enjoy Your Time Off

vacation | thl vacations

A vacation is getting time off to rest from work, school, or simply from our daily life activity. The best way to spend this time is with loved ones in a fun and or relaxing environment. It could be by traveling to the exotic Hawaii with its beautiful beaches and amazing tropical weather or to Orlando with its exciting attractions such as Seaworld, Islands of Adventure and Walt Disney World. Going on a vacation is a great way to explore other countries and to learn from different cultures. A vacation can be taking a flight to a far away destination or it can be a road trip to a different city within close proximity.

 

Going on a cruise is a great option for a vacation as well. Cruising gives one the opportunity to travel around the world while enjoying the magnificent views of the ocean throughout your trip. On a cruise you have the opportunity to enjoy the amenities at all times of the day such as: parties, drinks, exquisite food and around the clock service.

 

budget travel | thl vacations

 

The concept of vacationing has developed over the past two centuries. Before having a vacation, either flying or cruising was a luxury that only wealthy people were able to take advantage of but vacations are becoming more affordable every year. There are a few things that one should do when planning a vacation. First set a budget, that way you don’t spend more than you can afford. Second do research before hand, that way you will know where to go according to your budget so you don’t waste time looking for things to do when you get there. Last but not least make a schedule; creating a schedule will give you enough time to do everything you want to do.

 

All-inclusive vacations are a great way to vacation. All-inclusive vacations are when one pays upfront for their accommodations as well as food, drinks and amenities. There are several resorts and cruises that offer all-inclusive packages so you won’t have to worry about where to eat, drink, explore or party. All-inclusive packages are great for vacationers on a strict budget because they know how much they will be spending on everything upfront.

 

resale | thl vacations

 

Buying into a timeshare resale is another great way to vacation. Buying a timeshare resale is less expensive that buying a timeshare from the developer. Owning a timeshare week is great because you have a set place to go to every year and you still have the option to use it in other parts of the world if you want to have a new experience. Having a timeshare is a great way to vacation for families because they offer all of the comforts of home such as a fully furnished living room and kitchen. Owning a timeshare is almost like having your own condo in the destination of your choice at a fraction of the cost. Talk to one of our travel agents today to see if owning or renting a timeshare is right for you.

Perusing Cruise Options

cruise Main | thl vacations

 With WAVE season around the corner, cruise lines are gearing up to feature their best offers. To prepare for the wave of deals you’re about to see, here are some tips on benefits and features of cruising.

A cruise is a pleasurable way to travel as you sail to your destination or destinations. Taking a cruise is one of the most exciting ways to vacation, traveling around the world and having everything at your fingertips. Ask for it, and it will be there! Clubs, retail stores, beauty salon, spa, different restaurants, movie theaters, bars, pool, luxurious bedrooms and the best part is that it’s all inclusive (except alcoholic beverage). Some cruises do include alcoholic beverages for an additional fee but most of them do not and others, depending on the type of cruise, will charge you fee for an all you can drink package.

There are many cruise lines that offer a variety of different cruises, from one day cruising in the surrounding area up to months of traveling around the world. You can take a cruise from almost anywhere in the world. Each cruise line has different activities and amenities and all the cruises are different, but one thing that they have in common is their great customer service. Each employee makes a promise to give the best customer service in the world, making you feel like a superstar. Since there are so many cruise lines the best way to choose a cruise that will fulfill your dream vacation is by doing some research and working with a travel agent. They have a lot of activities and excursions to offer on and off of the cruise. If you like to explore they can take you hiking, snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins, etc. Otherwise you can just stay on the cruise ship and enjoy the various activities on board like contests, spa, gallery, shopping, shows, or just relax at the pool.

cruise activities | Thl vacations

One of the most important things that travelers should know is that they must have the proper travel documents. Most cruises require a passport, and depending on the places you are traveling to or your nationality you can travel with your birth certificate and state id. It’s important to talk to a travel agent before booking your cruise to be sure that you have the proper documentation to travel.

When preparing for a cruise you should pack carefully and bring appropriate outfits for each occasion, that’s the beauty of a cruise you can do everything while you are sailing. Bring a bathing suit for the beach and the pool; formal attire for dinner, sport clothes if you decide to go to the gym or play tennis or basketball. There is a bit of everything on a cruise for your enjoyment.

packing for a cruise | thl vacations

At moments you’ll forget that you’re on a ship until you leave your room and see that you’re surrounded by water. Before cruising was a luxury that not everyone could afford just wealthy people, but nowadays it has become very affordable and convenient to almost everyone. Imagine being on a ship that has everything you need as if it was a mini city. You can go to different restaurants, engage in exciting activities, and lodge in a comfortable environment all in the same place.

The Details on Travel Deals

amazing travel deals on the beach

amazing travel deals on the beach

Travel Deals offer package promotions for vacations that can make traveling easier, more convenient, save on budget and make luxury traveling more affordable.  Not all travel deals are about luxury travel but many are and they provide discounts that will save travelers money even with a higher end vacation. Many travel agencies also offer travel deals. The down side of some travel deals is that you don’t always get to choose the exact details- you may not get to choose which 5-seat car you rent or which hotel room you stay in.

Travel deal packages include discounts on a variety of traveling components such as airfare, car rental, hotel rooms for a certain number of nights, and sometimes dining, park and attraction tickets, cruises, entertainment and activities. Travel deals offer buying all of these at once at a discount. Some deals offer cheap car rental for booking a flight or flight and hotel.  Some deals offer free nights at a hotel for booking a certain number of nights.

family dining packages on vacation

Travel deals are packages that change with each offer and each company.   Some companies such as Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Cheaptickets.com, Travelocity.com, Priceline.com and Tripadvisor.com have a variety ways of searching and buying travel package deals.  Most of these companies are online and the reservations are made online. Some companies can be done over the phone or in person. Check out travel deals for both your own local city and for extended vacations at AAA, ASTA Liberty Travel or if you are a student look at STA and Student Universe.  All inclusive hotels and resorts also offer their own package deals.  Other less known but extremely helpful deal search sites are Hipmunk.com, Pinnr.com, AutoSlash.com. Bing.com/travel

Easy popular travel deals are often found with the following companies including Disney, AAA and Club Med. Disneyworld and Disney World Resorts offer package vacations including hotels, parks, dining options and cruises. Certain Hilton hotels offer nights free when a certain number of nights are booked.  All-inclusive companies such as family oriented Club Med and romantic getaways Sandals have resort, dining and activity packages. Many hotels offer nights free after booking a certain number like The Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri offers a free third night.  AAA offers discounts on local activities for example in Atlanta, Georgia AAA sells Georgia Aquarium tickets at a great discount from their original price.

all inclusive | thl vacationsThe final best travel deal is not made in the discounts or reservations but from your actual traveling. Many airline, travel companies and major credit card companies offer travel reward cards and loyalty programs.  Delta Airlines and AirTran Airways offer frequent flyer mile systems; the more flights you take with these companies the more your mile points add up to earning you free airline tickets. These programs just require registering.  These two airline companies and others offer their own travel credit cards that give flyer mile points, and discounts at hotels, car rental companies and restaurants. These discounts can be used locally and during vacations to build up your rewards.   Use programs like Award Wallet to collect and keep count of all yours and your families points, travels, rewards, credits and expiration dates.  Most importantly have fun!

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!

arcadiaCruiseShip_2449967b

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.

cn_image.size.seabourne-sojourn-4

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.

Destination Spotlight: Orlando

Orlando, FL – The City Beautiful

1467-CityGuideImage

 

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 – 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

rci-enchant-solarium-3

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

378483660-12142943

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

Blue-Iguana-Tequila-Bar1

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.

Destination Spotlight – Hawaii

The State of Hawaii is a highly desirable and popular vacation destination. It has grown tremendously popular among family travel. Hawaii is the northernmost island of Polynesia, the southernmost state and the only state made of only islands in the US.  Located in the central Pacific Ocean, Hawaii’s tropical climate attracts tourists, surfers, biologists and volcanologists. Hawaii is known for sugarcane and pineapple production. Both Hawaiian and English are spoken languages. Hawaii has North American and Asian influences contributing to the exciting local culture.

Panorama13

The Hawaiian Island chain has hundreds of islands.  The eight main islands are O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’I, Lana’i and Hawaii or “The Big Island”. Hawaii attracts over 7.6 million visitors yearly.  The islands were formed from underwater volcanoes and are still active volcano beds.

Hawaii’s beaches stretch 750 miles which consist of black, yellow and white sand. Swimming, surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities in the Islands. The archipelago has coral reefs including conservation areas Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay and Hulopoe Bay. Submarine tours are offered through companies like Atlantis Submarine. On the Big Island many of the volcanoes have hiking trails. Volcano, Kilauea has oozing red-hot lava that can be viewed up close.  The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii offers guided hiking. Best hiking spots include Diamond Head, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park. Hawaii has breathtaking waterfalls such as Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls, Oheo Gulch and Opaekaa Falls. Whale watching by boat, inflatable or catamaran tours is another wonder Hawaii offers. Hawaii is the sportfishing capital of the world and there are many outfitters. Mule rides are specially popular in the Kalaupapa National Historic Park. Helicopter tours in Hawaii are the best way to view the surreal landscape.

Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. There are many botanical gardens to tour. The Bishop Museum and the Halekulani’s House Without a Key offer Hula dance performances daily. On Kohala Coast is Mookini Helau the oldest and most sacred temple in Hawaii.

Dining on Hawaii includes mangos, pineapples, other local ingredients and several Asian inspired dishes. Recommended spots are Roy’s Restaurant and Pineapple Grill. The Luau, a Hawaiian dance celebration and feast, are all over the islands, including the “Haleo” at Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa and Island Breeze Productions, The Royal Luau at The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, and Sheraton Kauai Resort’s Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau.

The main Islands have luxury hotels, all-inclusive resorts and vacation rentals. Main resorts on Oahu include Spa Suites at the Kahala Hotel & Resort, Spa Luana at Turtle Bay Resort, Ihilani Spa at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort; on Hawaii, Hualalai Sports Club & Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu and Kohala Sports Club & Spa at the Hilton Waikoloa Village; Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa Moana at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort on Maui and ANARA Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort on Kauai.

Each main Island has a state highway encircling it and a public bus system. The Honolulu International Airport is the main Hawaiian airport. There are airports on all main islands including Kona International Airport and Hilo International. The Hawaii Superferry operates between the islands. Cruise lines arrive regularly in Hawaii making this destination a mecca for family travel.

Christine’s Corner – Finding the right cruise deal

Ever wish you knew the inside scoop on how to find the best cruise deal? Now you can! THL Vacations travel advocate Christine has reached out to her favorite travel agents for tips on how to get the most bang for your buck when searching for cruise offers. She will let you in on a few secrets that every traveler should know about.

Ready to learn?

One of the first tips on finding a great cruise deal is search during the time travel agents term as “Wave Season”. Wave season is promoted during the first quarter of the year. This is when all the cruise lines promote their best deals to potential customers to entice them to book right away.

During wave season you’ll find different cruise lines promoting travel deals such as: up to $400 in onboard credit, 2-for-1 sailings, free drink packages, free shore excursions or kids sail free on select sailings. How do you know which offer will save you the most money overall? Ask yourself these questions before you begin your cruise shopping.

  1. Who is going on vacation with you?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. What are your top 5 priorities while on vacationing?
  4. How much do you want to spend?
  5. How much vacation time do you have?

Asking yourself these important questions and listing them in order of priority will guide you to the perfect deal for your vacation! Don’t make impulsive decisions and let a number like $100 OFF your deposit sway you at first glance. Always read the fine print. Many times there are better deals out there that are not attached to a monetary figure.

For example: “Book before May 3rd and receive $100 OFF your deposit” may not be a better deal than “Book before Feb 28th and receive a free shore excursion” because many shore excursions are well over $100 per person. Here is another example: if you’re taking the entire family on a vacation and you have three kids a deal promoting a “Free Shore Excursion” wont save you as much as a deal promoting “Kids Sail Free”.

With so many cruise specials out there, how do you know which one is right for you? My advice is to call a travel agent.  A great travel agent will guide you to the best deal for your vacation at no additional cost to you.

Here is a great example of a cruise deal that offers a lot of bang for your buck!

17526_334096810025309_32148354_n

5 Most Visited Cities for NYE

5. Orlando, FL

Orlando is a great way to spend the New Year’s with your family. Disney World is a great choice to ring in the New Year. The Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and Hollywood Studios are open late (Animal Kingdom closes at 8 p.m.). But the party is at Pleasure Island! The streets are filled with music, food and entertainment. There is also a fireworks display at midnight to bring in the New Year.

4. Los Angeles, CA

Even though LA is a hotspot year round, the city bursts with energy on December 31st. There are tons of clubs and restaurants to choose from with a spectacular fireworks display at midnight. There is also the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1st. The parade has floats made out of roses, marching bands and a celebrity Grand Marshal that leads the parade. After the parade, the College Football Rose Bowl starts. Millions of spectators enjoying watching their favorite college teams battle it out on New Year’s Day.

3. New Orleans, LA

The party doesn’t start until midnight in New Orleans! The biggest celebration is at Jackson Square where packed partygoers ring in the new year with Baby Bacchus falling from his perch atop the Jax Brewery. After that, a huge fireworks display is shown over the Mississippi River. Once the fireworks are over, the partygoers migrate down to Bourbon Street where the party continues until morning.

2. Las Vegas, NV

Sin City knows how to through a party and New Year’s is no exception! The Las Vegas Strip is closed down to traffic and transformed into a huge street party. With tons of food, drinks and entertainment there are plenty of activities to keep you busy until midnight. Plus, there is a huge fireworks display at midnight to ring in the New Year. If you want to rub elbows with A-list Celebrities like Diddy and Kim Kardashian, expect to pay $150 to $250 to get into the upscale Las Vegas nightclubs.

1. New York City, NY

The most famous New Year’s Eve celebration in the world is at Time Square in New York City. This event should be on your “must do once in your life” list! Not only is the ball drop seen by millions, but the vibe in the city is reason enough to go to New York for New Year’s Eve. If you are planning on going to Time Square for the annual ball drop, make sure to get there super early if you want to see all of the entertainment festivities happening.

THL Vacations expands partnerships with key travel suppliers

 

In an effort to provide our valued members with some of the best offers and discounts in travel. The team from our marketing and travel departments attended a major travel tradeshow called Cruise World.

This yearly event features the best in travel providers such as cruise, vacation packages, car rentals, hotels and much more. The best deals possible along with upgrades, free nights, free meals and kids travel free are just some of the benefits of being a member.  Want to book a pre or post cruise when enjoying your property? THL Vacations has you covered.

Look for THL Vacations to attend many other travel shows this year in our search to find the best partners and stretch your vacation value.