Wow! March Madness is upon us with college basketball teams getting ready to compete for the national title and bragging rights.
But I believe there is other March Madness in the air too! Spring breaks, celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, pollen in the air, warm sunshine, and lots of cabin fever blues to be shed!
Even here in the South it has been an interesting and long winter season. Spring couldn’t come soon enough – minus the pollen though. I know it is crucial to the success of a wonderful blooming spring but does it have to cover everything in sight?!
Personally, I’ve been busy planning last-minute spring break vacations for families who decided it was time to get away. The cruise ships and resorts will be at capacity for the next few weeks!
But on a much sadder note the madness could not have been predicted when an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Mother Nature at her fiercest. My prayers go out those in need.
Do you have March Madness fever? Hope you find a cure – even if it is getting outside for a moment, taking a deep breath and enjoying the sunshine!
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Happy New Year to everyone! My goal is to write more on this blog in 2011.
So it is Day 5 of being snowed in (more like iced in). While the family time has been wonderful – great crock pot meals, watching movies, playing games – the gray days have not been so nice. But there is sunshine today which brightens my day and we are going out later today.
But during this time I’ve had time to get organized for the year and begin to think about adventures that are to come for 2011. A big birthday on the horizon, some summer time fun, maybe a trip to see the leaves change.
What’s on your horizon? There are some wonderful new cruise ships on the seas now, great resorts opening in the Caribbean and beyond and some fabulous new shows in Las Vegas. You name it, there is a travel destination in mind!
So dream big in 2011! Make this the year to enjoy travel with friends and family. Start checking off items on your Bucket List. Simply travel.
Happy 2011 and here is to happy travels!
Oh sunshine, it is so nice to see you today!
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Business has been steady this time of year and there have been a lot of questions lately on documentation for travel – particularly for cruises. So I thought I would share a few tips and requirements for taking a cruise.
This is the kind of information that is not always clear to even the most experienced cruisers, who may have sailed with different documents in the past. So as a quick reminder – all U.S. citizens must bring one of the following WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) compliant documents in order to sail on a cruise that departs and ends from the same U.S. port:
- Valid U.S. Passport
- Passport Card
- Original or legible copy of a Birth Certificate (issued by the Department of Vital Statistics)
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Enhanced Driver’s License
- Trusted Traveler Program Membership Card (i.e. Nexus Card, Sentri Card or Fast Card)
- A Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Copies of the following will NOT be allowed by a cruise line:
- US Passports
- Naturalization Papers
Originals, or copies will NOT be allowed by a cruise line:
- Baptismal Certificates
- Hospital issued “Certificate of Birth”
It is always recommended that all guests travel with a passport (valid for at least six months beyond completion of travel). Although a passport is not required for U.S. citizens taking cruises that begin and end in the same U.S. port, traveling with a passport facilitates your disembarkation experience. It also makes it easier for you to fly from the U.S. to a foreign port should you miss your scheduled embarkation or need to fly back to the U.S. for an emergency.
By taking the time to familiarize yourself with these requirements and asking your travel planner questions, your overall cruise experience will be that much more enjoyable!
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I was pixie dusted at an early age and grew up near Walt Disney World. When I was a junior in college I was accepted into the Walt Disney World College Program and my dream of becoming a Cast Member was realized. I worked as a lifeguard during that summer and loved every minute of it! When I graduated from college I packed my belongings and dreams and headed back to the magical place in hopes of becoming the next marketing guru for Disney. Though I didn’t become the next guru, I had the most wonderful time working for Disney and love to share my experiences with others.
As a Cast Member we see so many different sides of Disney and the parks than the regular guests. I have many stories to tell but here are just a few insider tips:
- Nothing cools a hot summer evening than eating an ice cream cookie sandwich on Main Street U.S.A. at the Main Street Bakery while watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom! Fun fact – the windows on Main Street U.S.A. contain names of people who have contributed to Walt Disney’s dream. Walt Disney’s name is above the Ice Cream Parlor.
- Take naps! I saw so many guests in the middle of a hot summer day with their children in tow who were obviously beyond tired. Tickets are expensive and we all try to maximize our time. However, take a break in the heat of the afternoon and take a nap – even adults too! You will feel revitalized and ready for the evening parades and fireworks and a much a happier family.
- Don’t forget Downtown Disney. This is where I worked (at the time called Disney Village Marketplace). It is home to Disney Quest as well as Cirque du Soleil but also shops, gardens and yummy eateries. It is a great place to visit the first night you arrive in Orlando before you head to the parks for the rest of the week. If you are staying at Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter you can take a free water taxi to the complex too.
- Look for Mickey! I don’t mean just the actual Mouse but hidden Mickeys in the rides and attractions. It has been told that there is a Mickey silhouette in many of Disney the attractions. For example, on Splash Mountain he can be found near the steamboat as an outline in the clouds.
- When you want to meet Mickey without fighting a crowd? A must-visit place is the Judge’s Tent at the Magic Kingdom – a designated location at Mickey’s Toontown Fair where Guests of all ages can meet the famous mouse for autographs and pictures.
- A bit of Disney trivia. According to legend, Walt Disney first came up with the idea of Mickey Mouse while travelling on a train from New York back to California. He had just lost his rights to Oswald the Rabbit and he came up with the idea for the mouse. He originally named him Mortimer but his wife Lillian convinced him to change it to Mickey Mouse because it sounded cuter.
Most importantly, I so often saw families and individuals just enjoying time together. During the holidays, it made me miss my family more! It’s not about the souvenirs, what rides you ride or where you stay, it is the time spent together that makes the memories! At a Disney destination, those memories are certainly more magical!
I will always fondly remember my years when I worked for the Mouse. I look forward to sharing new experiences with my family as I hope you do too!
What are your favorite Disney vacation memories?
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Outstanding deals on Celebrity Cruises for August, September and October with rates starting at $799 per person plus taxes for an outside cabin. Upgrade to an Aqua Spa Suite for total pampering!
It’s the perfect time to plan your Fall getaway today!
For more details visit our Travel Tuesday Deals Tab.
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Just a quick (and late) note today but new deals are posted now under our Travel Tuesday Deals tab.
Check out incredible savings on the luxurious Azamara Club Cruises ships!
Have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
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Our ship the Norwegian Spirit in Costa Maya, Mexico
This past week brought back some wonderful travel memories! My husband Jerry and I have been on over 25 cruises in the many years we’ve been married. None could have prepared us for the adventure of cruising for the first time last year with our seven and half month old son on the Norwegian Spirit out of New Orleans!
Our first concern was what to pack. To say that we packed all but the kitchen sink for our son was an understatement. But we just weren’t sure if he would need something and worried that it would be the one thing we forgot. He didn’t wear half of what we packed but that was okay. My advice – make sure to pack a few small, portable toys like the rings that hook onto the stroller and extra diapers. Diapers and other baby sundries are very hard to find onboard. In port, you may be able to find a few supplies but it is best to plan ahead especially if you need specific brands or styles.
I packed a separate duffel bag with baby food, toys and books as well as an extra blanket. One of us sat in the back seat with him to keep him entertained and make sure he was doing okay in his car seat. This was his first big trip in his new car seat too! A few stops to stretch our legs and eat and we were in Mississippi by mid afternoon to pick up my mother-in-law and her sister. Our son did manage to sleep well in the car so that was great! He found it quite entertaining to be able to see out the windows and was quite amused every time a large truck went by!
The next day we headed for the pier in New Orleans. Even with a baby in tow, it was a breeze getting to the pier and everything was very well-organized. Because we were returning passengers with Norwegian Cruise Lines, we didn’t have to wait long to check in. By mid-afternoon we were checked-in and settled into our balcony, connecting cabins and ready to set sail.
During the week we visited Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize. When in Cozumel we took our son off the ship for a little while and it was his first adventure on international soil! Most of the time we alternated staying onboard with him as it was too hot and he was too young for a shore excursion. He loved riding in the glass elevators onboard the ship!
Needless to say, I could go on and on about how wonderful the trip was and what great memories we have. I was so glad that our son loves to travel as much as we do. The vacation more than exceeded our expectations – both as new parents and as vacationers.
Traveling with an infant when you plan ahead was easier than we had anticipated. Since this cruise we have been on two other cruises with our son, including a Disney Cruise for his first birthday, and he is quite the traveler! We look forward to our next adventure this Spring!
What adventures have you experienced with your family when traveling? Any travel tips?
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