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Monday, February 19, 2018

Cruise Lines Are Making Big Changes






Today's post was written by Ben Souza, cruise marketing expert. He has written over 1,000 articles on cruising and currently takes 8-10 cruises a year.







9 Changes Happening to Cruises

As the cruise industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, cruise lines are listening to their guests and are making changes. In addition to keeping their guests happy, these changes are also being made to attract the valuable first-time cruiser. Here are nine changes happening to cruises.

Looser Dress Codes:

Dress codes have dramatically changed on cruises and are now much looser than they were just 5-8 years ago. On one cruise I was recently on, the dress code was called a “suggested dress code” and not mandatory. 

As dinner has become more casual, formal nights have begun to disappear. Celebrity Cruises replaced formal nights with a more relaxed “evening chic”. The world’s newest ocean cruise line, Viking Ocean Cruises, doesn’t offer formal nights on their four cruise ships. Also, when Richard Branson launches his first Virgin cruise ship in 2020, there will likely be an absence of formal nights.

Larger Cruise Ships

MSC's World Class - Photo Credit: Conde Nast Traveler


Cruise lines are announcing a record number cruise ships that will be debuting over the next decade.  There is one thing that most of these ships have in common, most of them aren’t going to be small ships.  

The new normal is for 150,000+ gross ton ships with several cruise lines (Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean) announcing ships that will be in the ballpark of 180-200,000 gross tons.

More Power Outlets in Cabins

As cruise passengers carry more and more electronics with them on a ship, there has never been more of a need for power outlets than today. On my first cruise, there was a grand total of one power outlet in the entire cabin. Passengers have always had to bring power strips to charge all of their cell phones, cameras, tablets, laptops etc.

New cruise ships are not only adding additional power outlets in cabins but also ever so handy USB ports. On my last cruise on Viking Sea, there were a total of 9 USB outlets in addition to four power outlets in our stateroom. Norwegian Cruise Line has been adding USB ports to cabins when ships go into dry dock.  Carnival Cruise Line is adding USB ports in the cabins on their new cruise ships.  Also, MSC Seaside debuted a little over a month ago with USB ports in the cabins.

More Fees

Many of the mainstream cruise lines are starting to add new fees for things that in the past were included in cruise fares. From room service to some of the specialty restaurants that in the past were complimentary, be prepared to be “nickel and dimed” more and more in the future.

Cheaper/Faster Internet

Cruise lines are realizing that being connected is no longer an option, but a necessity for many travelers. When Royal Caribbean launched their VOOM internet on Quantum of the Seas, it began a new era of not only cheaper internet (unlimited for under $20 a day), but also offered download speeds that are more on par with land-based connections. 

Carnival Cruise Line and MSC now offer social internet packages for as little as $5 per day (with discounts if purchased for the entire cruise) that let passengers connect to their favorite social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc.

More All-Inclusive Options

Competition to fill cruise ships has never been higher as cruise lines attempt to fill a large number of new berths that have been added over the past two years. This year will see eight new cruise ships go into service and begin offering cruises. This has led cruise lines to offer all-inclusive packages to help fill cabins.

Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are currently offering free beverage packages when you book a cruise.

Longer Port Stops


Cruise lines are beginning to offer longer port stops as passengers want to spend more time exploring the ports that they visit. 

This was one of Viking’s main goals when they launched their ocean cruise line and their ships now spend an average of 12.1 hours in each port in Northern Europe. 
Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line have also announced that some ships will spend more time in popular Caribbean ports. Look for this trend to continue with other cruise lines.

More Specialty Restaurants

150 Central Park - Royal Caribbean - Photo Credit: Frommers


The main dining room is no longer the go-to place for dinner as cruise lines are adding more for-fee specialty restaurants on not only new ships but also when cruise ships go into dry dock. 

On some ships there are so many dining options, you can eat in a different restaurant for every meal and still not visit all of them on a cruise. The Oasis class ships from Royal Caribbean offer more than 20 dining options. Norwegian’s largest cruises ships have a ridiculous 25 different dining experiences.

More Wow Factors

Cruise lines are taking the slogan, “Getting there isn’t half the fun, it is the fun” to an entirely new level. 

Between thrilling water slides, water coasters, robot bartenders, IMAX theaters, bumper cars, the North Star on Quantum-class ships, ropes courses, and 4D theaters, the lido decks on cruise ships are now loaded with thrill attractions.

Source: https://cruisefever.net/


Happy Travels,
Linda

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Romantic Sunset Oceanview Bluff Suites


All photos courtesy of Sandals Resorts

Situated along the Sunset Oceanview Bluff 

Love Nest Suites offer marvelous views of the Caribbean sea and hillside. 



The living room area is very spacious with plush seating and custom-crafted furnishings.  



The master bedroom features a king-size bed, additional HD Smart television, and large windows framing views of the Caribbean Sea. 

The en-suite spa-style bathroom features modern finishes, long vessel sink, shower, and free-standing soaking tub. 



And just outside the living room is a furnished private balcony including a bistro set and Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, where you can enjoy al fresco dining with the ocean as your backdrop. Butler Elite and 24-hour room service are included.

All-inclusive rates include all meals, premium drinks, Wi-Fi, butler service (only for some room types) and unlimited golf, land sports and water sports, including a scuba diving program. All gratuities included and complimentary airport transfers. 

NoteCaddies mandatory and carts are optional (both for additional fees) - Shoe and club rental available.

Stay at 1 Play at 3 Sandals Exchange Program

Each of the (3) Sandals St Lucia resorts have their own distinctive personality, and you can enjoy each one.  

The exchange program provides guests the opportunity to stay at one Sandals resort, and enjoy the amenities and services at the other Sandals resorts on that island for the duration of your vacation. Free transportation is provided between resorts. No transportation is needed in Barbados as the Sandals properties are right next door to each other. 

Dine Around Program


Take advantage of the "Dine Around" program and opt for meals at the other (3) Sandals St Lucia Resorts, and have a choice of 27 varied restaurants. Complimentary round-trip transfers are provided between all resorts. 

Other Caribbean islands with multiple Sandals Resorts in the exchange program include Barbados with (2) resorts and Montego Bay, Jamaica with (3) resorts. 

Handy Tip on Booking Butler Service
Yes, it's extra! Your butler will handle everything for you from reserving pool & beach chairs (they go quickly), booking dinner reservations, island tours, and getting speedy shuttle service around the property. 

Note: When booking dinner reservations through the butler service, you will always be given priority seating over other guests who did not  opt for the butler service

View all available suites and rates at this amazing Caribbean property. 
http://www.sandals.com/main/lucia/lu-accommodations/


Sandals offers great promotions throughout the year. If you are interested in any of the All Inclusive Sandals Resorts in the Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or St Lucia, sign up to  be notified of the latest specials, or contact your travel agent. 


Happy Travels,
Linda




Monday, February 12, 2018

New 2018 Caribbean Culinary Cruise Vacations

Caribbean Culinary Tours has announced (2) new 
Royal Caribbean Food, Rum and Wine Cruises 
for 2018 on RCI Freedom of the Seas
Rates Start from $1499.00 per person and includes all Port excursions

The Foodie Western Caribbean Cruise is scheduled for Dec 16- 23, 2018. 
Port stops include: Puerto Rico, Antigua, Barbados, St Lucia, St Martin, and St Thomas 

A new Singles Food Rum and Wine Cruise with the same island itinerary as above is scheduled for November 2018

Here's the daily itinerary

Day 1

Puerto Rico 
Old San Juan Food Tour experiences the Flavors of Puerto Rico’s Food and Culture in an easy 2 hour walking food tour through the heart of old San Juan followed with Bacardi Rum Tasting Tour.









Day 2  

St Thomas
Private Restaurant dining at Havana Blue Restaurant named as one of the Top Beachside Caribbean Restaurant by Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. 

The restaurant is known for its great cocktails and scrumptious Caribbean fusion menu offerings.





Day 3 
Fun Day at Sea - Enjoy Sip and Savor Wine Tasting and finger foods paring.

Day 4 

Barbados
Farmers Market and Fish Market tour where you get hands-on knowledge of the local Barbados culinary ingredients. 

After purchasing spices, fruits, vegetables and local flying fish at the Oistins Fish Market, we will head to the Barbados Hotel institute for a (3) course hands-on cooking class followed by lunch. 

There will be enough time to explore the island on your own, relax on the beach or go shopping.
  
Day 5 

St Lucia
Attend a local demonstration cooking class at Little Lucian Cooking school. The rest of the day you will be on your own to explore the island. 

There's so much to see and do in St Lucia, and a stop in the local spice markets is definitely a must do. 







Day 6


St Kitts
Enjoy lunch at the island famous Reggae Beach Bar which is well known for great local BBQ, grilled lobster and tropical mind wrecking cocktails. 

After lunch, you will have time to enjoy the island on your own or spend the day relaxing on the beach.  



Day 7 

St Martin
A tour is planned to a local French side bakery and pastry cafĂ©, followed by a baking demonstration class, and then enjoy French coffee and pastry tasting at its finest. 

Explore the island in the afternoon, or hang out on the beach at a local beach bar sipping a President’s beer. 


For additional information and booking details on these cruises  - along with more Caribbean Culinary Vacations visit http://www.caribbeanculinaryvacations.com


Happy Travels,
Linda

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Chill Out in All Inclusive Luxury in Grenada

Laluna Boutique Resort

Nestled into a private hillside on one of Grenada's 
most secluded beaches.


The 16 cottage boutique hotel features a blend of Balinese, Caribbean, and Italian style.


The property also features a beach yoga pavilion, Asian spa, Italian restaurant, and the adjacent Laluna Estate offers luxury villas. 



Authentic Italian Cuisine . . . With A Caribbean Twist


Laluna’s owner Bernardo Bertucci is from Calabria in Italy, and every year, he and his wife, Wendy Bertucci travel through the region looking for new ideas and treats to offer Laluna guests. 

Laluna Chillout from $545 per night, including all meals

  • $695 per night Jan 9th to April 5th, 2018
  • $595 per night April 6th to June 24th, 2018
  • $545 per night June 25th to Oct 14th, 2018
  • $595 per night Oct 15th to Dec 19th, 2018

For (2) persons - includes

  • Accommodation in a cottage suite with a king size bed, private veranda and plunge pool
  • Welcome drink
  • Daily a-la-carte American breakfast
  • Daily a-la-carte lunch and dinner (excluding beverages)
  • Daily classes in our beach front yoga pavilion in either yoga or pilates
  • Laluna gift

Note: This package is based on a four night minimum stay and cannot be combined with any other offer.

http://www.laluna.com/

Happy Travels,
Linda

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Turks & Caicos Winter Getaway Offer


Save 25% to 45% on a Winter Getaway
These specials are applicable to travel until April 1, 2018

Photo Credits: East Bay Resort

Book your getaway today and start an incredible journey to the 
beautiful Caribbean island of South Caicos.

This and more awaits you at East Bay Resort . . . 


Enjoy an out-island experience complete with idyllic and nearly deserted white sand beaches, freshly caught seafood and some of the best diving and fishing opportunities in the Caribbean.


See flamingoes in their natural habitat, historic windmills, wild donkeys and horses roaming freely and an incredible turquoise-coloured sea.

All rates include the following complimentary services

  • Roundtrip transfers from South Caicos Airport
  • Wi-Fi property wide
  • Full daily breakfast at BLU
  • Non-motorized watersports, and use of pedal bikes and tennis courts.


(3) night deposit (or full prepayment, whichever is shorter) is required at booking. Must be cancelled no later than 21 days before arrival. Full prepay required.

Take 10% off the already discounted rates when you book directly with the resort by calling 1-866-297-6248 or Email: reservations@eastbayresort.com

http://www.eastbayresort.com/


Happy Travels,
Linda


Monday, January 22, 2018

Grenadines Private Island Sale

Welcome to the Grenadines  . . . 


Palm Island Resort & Spa 
Where you can enjoy your own 135-acre private island 

Save up to 35%, All-Inclusive Rates from $275 per person/per night 


Palm Island Resort & Spa offers the perfect blend of casualness and elegance, ideal for the sophisticated traveler who wants an unstuffy vacation. 

Just 43 Rooms . . . 

Choose from these luxury accommodations - beachfront guest rooms; suites offering seclusion in the lagoon or villas with direct beach access. 


Have a picnic on one of (5) exquisite beaches where chairs are anchored into the sand, and meals are served under thatched roofs and palm trees. 


Guests can explore the island with an array of excursions and activities. There are nature trails as well as a cycle track to enjoy around the island. 


Set sail and discover the Grenadines by heading out to the Tobago Cays just a few short miles away, or you can take part in yoga classes, play a round of tennis or golf - the golf course is located on nearby Canouan Island

Other Amenties

  • Large Swimming Pool with Waterfall
  • 2 Beachfront Restaurants, 2 Bars & Lounges 
  • Hobie Cats, Kayaking & Snorkeling
  • Tennis Hiking & Cycling Trails
  • New Beachfront Spa


View all this luxury resort has to offer

Happy Travels,
Linda

Monday, January 15, 2018

Vacation in Cayman Luxury & Fight Child Hunger

When Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa opened last Fall it became Grand Cayman's first-ever boutique resort, and the first new property to be built on the island in over a decade.

The 266 room resort is located directly on Seven Mile Beach. 

The property features multiple restaurants and bars with scenic views, a cascading oceanfront pool, and destination spa - All at a very competitive price.


The distinctively-appointed guest rooms and suites include 16 oceanfront suites, nine beachfront bungalows, and eight uniquely configured family suites. 

In-room amenities include: luxury bed linen and robes, 24-hour in-room dining, minibar, in-room yoga mats, and refrigerators are available. 

Beachside Bungalow

Spread over 8,500 square feet, The Spa at Seafire offers a co-ed, indoor-outdoor garden retreat with a Jacuzzi and waterfall, a relaxation lounge, a hammam, a hair salon, five treatment rooms, two couples’ suites, four nail stations, and men’s and women’s locker areas with steam rooms. 

The spa also has a Turkish style Hammam, the only one of its kind in Grand Cayman. 

No Kid Hungry Offer
Stay from January 1, 2018 – December 30, 2018 - Book by December 30, 2018

This year Kimpton is proud to be a partner of No Kid Hungry. This leading non-profit organization is working to ensure every child in the U.S. has access to healthy food where they live, learn and play. 

Each time you make a reservation using this rate code, Kimpton will donate $10 per night to No Kid Hungry to support this most worthwhile cause. Plus, you’ll get 15% off the Best Flexible Rate.

Indulge in Kimpton Complimentary Perks

  • Morning Coffee and Tea Service
  • Loaner PUBLIC Bikes
  • Pet Amenities
  • Forgot It, We've Got It Amenities
  • Kimpton Kids Program
  • Free WiFi for IHG® Rewards Club

Here's a little Caribbean trivia . . . 
Did you know the three islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac) are actually peaks of a massive underwater ridge? 

The Cayman Islands are in the Western part of the Caribbean Sea approximately halfway between Cuba and Belize. Grand Cayman is easily reached from the U.S. — it’s just a one-hour flight from Miami, less than three hours from Atlanta, and a little more than three hours from the New York area.

Visit the site 

Happy Travel,
Linda

Friday, January 12, 2018

Grand Opening Rates from Harbor Club St Lucia

Be among the first to experience the all-new Harbor Club, St Lucia


Located in Rodney Bay, home to some of St. Lucia’s 
most popular entertainment, shopping, and entertainment. 


Once the sun goes down, Rodney Bay Village turns into the island's hub of late night entertainment. Also, guests receive complimentary ferry service to Reduit Beach and to the center of Rodney Bay.


Enjoy additional space and views of the harbor below in the Harbor Corner King room featuring an array of luxurious amenities and vibrant contemporary design.

Swim Up Rooms are also available. These unique rooms are located on the ground floor and include a private patio and direct swim-up access to the pool.


Here's the deal . . . 
Grand Opening offer of 20% off stays now through November 30, 2018. 

Book now and also receive 10% off at Harbor Club's world-class restaurants throughout your stay*



Savor The Flavors Of The Island With (5) Unique Eateries
From a quick, casual bite overlooking the marina to an elegant, gourmet dinner

BOOK NOW
Must Use Promo Code: GRAND
  
*Rates are subject to change and availability. Valid for new reservations only. Valid for stays now through November 30, 2018.

https://www.theharborclub.com/

Happy Travels,
Linda


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jamaica On A Platter Culinary Weekends

Enjoy Jamaica’s passion for food, cooking, and hospitality
3 Nights & 4 Days
Package offered on the last weekend of January, February, and March

All photos courtesy of Strawberry Hill Hotel

Studio Suite, Queen Double Occupancy at Strawberry Hill Hotel from US$ 1,450.00 per person. 



STUDIO SUITE FEATURES

  • Queen size bed with mosquito net
  • Verandas with mountain views
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Minibar
  • Plush terrycloth bathrobes
  • Hair dryer
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Selection of luxurious bath products
  • Nightly turn-down service
  • Bicycles for guest use

Note: Prices do not include airport transfers.

DAY 1 – THURSDAY – BLACKWELL RUM WELCOME

Known as Black Gold, Blackwell Rum is colorful, rich and complex just like the spirit of Jamaica. Get to know Jamaica’s best cocktail, the classic Rum Punch, while enjoying the magnificent display of Kingston lights beside the pool.



Later guests will be introduced to Jamaican cuisine at it’s best, with a special welcome dinner with wine pairing.



DAY 2 - FRIDAY – COFFEE TRADER’S PLANT, CORONATION MARKET, PAINT JAMAICA MURALS, LIFE YARD, ITAL CAFE & BELCOUR

Visit Kingston and Coffee Traders Ltd, one of the island’s top exporters of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. The family-owned company incorporates all aspects of coffee production from bean to cup, farming to roasting its own, and other Premium Brand Estate Coffees.

Experience Coronation Market, the largest produce market on the island. Next stop is Paint Jamaica, and then lunch at Life Yard Ital Café.

Cap the day off in the Blue Mountain foothills with a visit to Belcour, the private home of Robin and Michael Lumsden. Belcour presently operates an apiary with over 75 bee colonies. Enjoy a scrumptious Belcour Tea with all the trimmings, including a taste of Belcour’s spectacular line of jams and sauces.


DAY 3 – SATURDAY – BLUE MOUNTAIN COFFEE ESTATES AND GARDENS

Twyman’s Old Tavern Blue Mountain Coffee Estate. Enjoy specialty coffees in the old wooden coffee roasting house, including Peaberry and Aged Blue Mountain.

Newcastle was established in 1841 as a healthy base camp for the British Army to escape the Yellow Fever epidemic in Kingston. Today the picturesque old camp serves for training the Jamaica Defense Force. Newcastle’s motto: No obstacle too difficult, no task too great!

At the back of Newcastle is the Clifton Mount Coffee Estate. At 4,300 ft., Clifton Mount offers superb views over the Yallahs Valley and the grand ridge of the Blue Mountain range including Blue Mountain Peak at 7,402 ft. The historic 200-acre coffee property was purchased by its present owners, the Sharp family in 1977. Enjoy the spectacular views with a picnic lunch on the grounds. 

The tour moves on to The Heritage Gardens Of Cold Spring designed around the fascinating architectural features of an 18th Century Coffee Pulpery.

Return to Strawberry Hill with time to enjoy the pool, gardens, and spa before sunset.

DAY 4 – SUNDAY – ST. MARK’S CHAPEL WALK & FAREWELL

Sunday morning, wake to the church bells of St. Mark’s Chapel, a charming 18th century Anglican Church, which is only a half hour stroll. Return for a final satisfying Jamaican breakfast and one more cup of the ‘best coffee in the world’.

According to your time of departure, you might also enjoy Strawberry Hill Sunday Brunch, a traditional weekend event for Kingstonians. Each Sunday, without fail, Strawberry Hill hosts an exceptionally tantalizing weekend brunch that lasts well into the afternoon.

Learn more about the history of this Jamaican boutique hotel https://www.strawberryhillhotel.com/

For information and reservations please contact Island Outpost
1-800 OUTPOST or (876) 622 -9009 or e-mail  reservations@islandoupost.com


Happy Travels,
Linda

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https://twitter.com/justatraveler