Archives for category: Disney Cruise

I was a reluctant cruiser. After years of traveling through the US and Europe “independently,” setting our own schedule, stopping when we want to stop, eating when we want to eat, left me with a bias against cruises.  Someone else having control of my schedule just isn’t my thing, I’d tell friends and clients alike. But earlier this year, our family was made an offer we couldn’t refuse and next thing we knew, we were booking our cabin on a Spring Break cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream.

We boarded the ship on Monday leaving Port Canaveral for our first stop in Nassau.  The ship’s lobby was gorgeous, very old Hollywood glamour, with a glass chandelier handmade in Italy, open ceilings and a touch of Disney with a bronze Admiral Donald Duck greeting passengers as they board.

IMG_4696

IMG_4697

Others had told me that the ships weren’t overly “Disneyfied” and that was true.  Certainly Disney was present in its décor, but subtly so.  The biggest Disney characteristic was in the service provided on board.  The staff was accommodating beyond words. Our wait staff, Gilbert and Christina, who remained with us every night despite rotating through the onboard restaurants, entertained the children along with providing impeccable wait service.  The spa esthetician was the best I’ve experienced.

My husband found the workings of the ship itself fascinating.  Never having travelled on such a large vessel, watching the crew “park” and secure the ship, was amazing itself.  Watching the ship approach Nassau from our verandah, first a lighthouse, than a slip of land, then the massive Atlantis complex raised excitement from everyone.  However, the most excitement for the day was swimming with the dolphins at the Blue Lagoon, one of ship excursions. After an hour with the dolphins and a few more spent snorkeling in the crystal blue lagoon, we were well on our way to becoming cruise converts.  Going to dinner and a show then waking up in Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, made us fully converted.

I would be remiss to not mention the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab, the kids clubs for the younger kids onboard.  Our children chose to go for an hour or so each day after dinner.  During that time, my husband and I explored the ship’s adult areas.  My personal favorite was the swanky champagne lounge, complete with pink and silver décor and a bubble fixture and corset bar. While I think my husband probably preferred the sports bar, what was clear is that there was plenty to do without children on board.

IMG_4746

Champagne Bar

Perhaps the highlight of the trip, however, was Castaway Cay.  The morning began with the Castaway Cay 5K, crossing the island at my slow and other passengers much faster pace.  After the run, the beach provided plenty to do, from lounging to in-ocean waterslides and ropes area. The island itself has large family beach areas and adult beach area, bike trails and designated snorkeling areas.   Despite the cruise being completely booked, the island never felt crowded or cramped.  Snorkeling equipment and floats are available for rent.  Our favorite activities were swimming with the stingrays and snorkeling searching for the sunken “treasure” off the beach.

DSC_4014

 

 

IMG_4732

After 5 days onboard, I must admit that never once did I tire of having the schedule set for us.  There were dozens of activities scheduled each day, but we never once felt pressured to do any of them. They were options, not requirements.  As the person who typically makes the plans on vacations, it was refreshing to not have to worry about where we were going to dinner or what we were doing on a particular day.  Would I want to cruise for every vacation? Probably not. Will I do it again? Absolutely.

DSC_3992

To book your trip or for more information, contact your favorite travel agent at Favorite Place Travel or call 404.409.4174.

Favorite Place Travel

I have visited Nassau in the Bahamas three times in the past several years, and each visit has been completely different.

Atlantis palm tree

Nassau is the largest city and commercial center of the Bahamas with just under 300,000 people, and a very popular port among cruise ships.  Nassau is home to several all-inclusive resorts, including Sandals Royal Bahamian, and the very popular Atlantis Resort.

There are many fabulous sites to see on the island of Nassau, outside of the typical cruise excursions and day passes to the larger-than-life resorts.  This is the first of a three-part series of my experiences in Nassau, hoping to expose you to the island you may not know.

My first visit was on a cruise with my family a few years ago, and I was determined to experience the true color of Nassau.  Instead of booking an excursion and following the masses, I loaded my family into a jitney, the public bus, and we went to Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre.  The jitney cost us $1.25/person which was a much more cost-effective option than a taxi.  Ardastra was a great up-close and personal experience with the animals.

Don't miss the World Famous Flamingo March!

Don’t miss the World Famous Flamingo March!

After our time at Ardastra, we strolled down the street and enjoyed a fresh seafood lunch of conch fritters and conch salad at the famous Arawak Cay or “Fish Fry” as the locals call it.  This was true local flavor!

Arawak Cay "Fish Fry"

After a filling lunch, we boarded another jitney and headed towards Cable Beach, one of the most popular and beautiful beaches near Nassau.    After we meandered through different resorts and up and down the street a few times, we stumbled upon a public beach access away from all of the busy resort activity.  We had this whole beach area to ourselves, and the water was perfectly clear and still.  What a way to enjoy the rest of the day!

When it was time to leave, we boarded the jitney once again, like pros, and returned to the cruise port for some final shopping before departure.  We loaded up on rum cake from the downtown shops proud that we were able to explore Nassau on our own without having paid the cost for a pre-planned cruise ship excursion.

Check back for Parts 2 and 3 of this series “What To Do in Nassau, Bahamas” for more ideas when you travel to this tropical island.

To book your trip or for more information, contact your travel agent at sgross@favoriteplacetravel.com or sglover@favoriteplacetravel.com or call Susan at 708.479.4693 or Stacey at 404.409.4174.

Favorite Place Travel

We’ve made it through summer, and now it is time to start planning the next family reunion, but wait!  I have an idea!

Since you’ve done the same location every year for the past 20 years, and it is getting tired, what if you traveled to a destination where dreams come true?

EPSON MFP image

You’ve played the same game of badminton and cornhole with Uncle Fred for 18 of those years.

It’s time to breathe some life into this party!  Rollercoasters!  Haunted Mansions!

You’ve eaten the same macaroni salad from Aunt Marilyn for 19 of those years, and you’ve laughed at the same stories for all 20 years, trying your hardest to sound genuinely entertained.

How about genuine laughter brought on by our favorite Monsters, Mike and Sully, or the crazy antics of a Mouse and his friends?

UGH!  Just the thought of coordinating your entire family, including cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces, nephews, grandparents from every corner of the United States is overwhelming…nah, we’ll stick with the same old routine…

But what if you have help planning it, so that the grandparents who don’t move as quickly as the grandchildren can have fun also?  Your single brother and his girlfriend who want to peruse the World Showcase at EPCOT can enjoy their time while the nieces and nephews play in the Dinosaur Graveyard at Animal Kingdom.  Everyone gets to enjoy their vacation!

scan0010

AND you don’t have to plan it alone!  

Your Favorite Travel Planners at Favorite Place Travel will create a package for your family so each family unit can customize their Disney vacation exactly how they want, while providing opportunities for the entire family to gather and share stories and memories from their Disney adventures.

You can take a group tour behind the scenes at one of the theme parks or have a private character meal just for your family.  Your group may be eligible for group discounts on park tickets and lodging.

All you have to do is provide basic information to your Favorite Place Travel Planner, and the planning begins…no headaches, no stress!

Give us a call to start planning the most memorable family reunion to the Happiest Place on Earth!

To book your trip or for more information, contact your travel agent at sgross@favoriteplacetravel.com or sglover@favoriteplacetravel.com or call Susan at 708.479.4693 or Stacey at 404.409.4174.

Favorite Place Travel

Royal Caribbean 3-DAY WOW SALE

Monday, June 10th through Wednesday, June 12th

Book any sailing between September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2014 to receive up to $200 Onboard Credit and 50% Reduced Deposit!

To book your trip or for more information, contact your travel agent at sgross@favoriteplacetravel.com or sglover@favoriteplacetravel.com or call Stacey at 404.409.4174, or Susan at 708.479.4693.

Favorite Place Travel

I can ask a million people to define vacation  and I will get a million different answers.  For some, it is a specific location, i.e. the beach.  For some, it is a state of mind, i.e. relaxation.  For some, it is a method of change, i.e. not working, and the definitions are as varied as the people walking the earth.

Dictionary.com defines vacation below:

1.a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity,usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday:Schoolchildren are on vacation now.
2. a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normal activities of law courts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.
3.  freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
What is your definition of vacation?
Renting a house on the beach with family?
A condo at a golf and tennis resort?
Escaping to a cabin in the mountains?
Backpacking through Europe?
Safari in Africa?
RV‘ing through the US and visiting all the sites along your journey?
A week immersed in a family-friendly theme park?
An all-inclusive resort in Mexico?
A cruise to the Caribbean?
These are only a few options available to someone wanting a vacation, but until you can define your purpose of vacationing, you will not be able to choose the best vacation experience.
My definition of vacation is  “a change in the status quo.”  A true vacation, in my opinion, is changing the course of your everyday habits, mixing it up, shocking your life with change.  This is true for your muscles when you workout, so why not for your life and vacation habits?
If you wake up each morning and check email, write contracts and talk on the phone, then either don’t do it at all or scale back considerably on vacation.  A great vacation option for you may be primitive camping, forcing yourself to be completely unplugged.
If you cook every meal for your family every day, you are not vacationing if you continue to cook every meal for your family while on vacation.  Perhaps an all-inclusive resort or cruise is the best vacation option for you.
If you are a golf pro, and you play golf everyday, I do not think a true vacation for you is visiting a golf resort.
If you find that you don’t have time to play with your kids after a hard day at work, or worse, you’ve forgotten how to play with your kids, I recommend a theme park vacation for your family.  This allows the adults to enjoy life from the child’s standpoint, racing from one thrill ride to the next, anxious with anticipation for what the next ride will bring.
Some people define vacation as a luxury, and I disagree with this definition.  Vacations, or a change in the status quo, do not have to be expensive or elaborate.  It is simply shaking up the norm.  If you drive into work everyday, take a few days and determine that you are not only not going to drive into work, but you are not even going to check your computer.

If you are vacationing with other people, for example your immediate family or extended family or friends, it is important that everyone’s vacation definition is understood and accommodated.  Renting a house at the beach with a full kitchen may be great for the kids who get to play in the sand all day and the parent who gets to lounge by the ocean reading a book or catching some zzz’s, but not so much for the parent left behind to make the meals, just like at home, or change the diapers, just like at home.  This would not equate a vacation to that person.  This is an example of someone returning and saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

It is not always possible to completely remove yourself from all your normal responsibilities for a week away or a few days of change, but with your spouse’s or parent’s or friend’s  help, you can get some reprieve from them for a little while at least!

All of this is to say that we often settle for the vacation we have always done because thinking about what a vacation truly is to me is too much effort and will rock the boat…all the more reason you should mix it up!  What if the idea of searching for a different type of vacation is daunting…too many options available on the Internet!
Next time you are thinking of a vacation, be sure to contact Favorite Place Travel.  Favorite Place Travel is a travel agency with experience in travel all over the world, and we are ready to help you vacation!
Contact Stacey at sgross@favoriteplacetravel.com, 404.409.4174 or Susan at sglover@favoriteplacetravel.com, 708.479.4693.