I get a lot of questions and comments about traveling to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and the Riviera Maya. Most of these comments revolve around how people feel in regards to it’s safety. Personally, I feel safe in Mexico. In fact, I have traveled there each year for the last three years, two of those times with my husband and children.
There is a common misconception that traveling to the Riviera Maya is unsafe. While other parts of Mexico are certainly dangerous (as can be the case in all countries), The Riviera Maya and the neighboring town of Cancun aren't nearly as bad as the media makes them out to be. To put it simply, the Riviera Maya is a tourist spot, which means the locals are eager for your business and are pretty serious about keeping some of the dangerous elements of Mexico out. The Riviera Maya is a breathtaking place that is just begging to be explored. That said, there some things you should know to make the most out of a Riviera Maya excursion.
Watch Out for the Heat - While the Riviera Maya offers truly stunning natural landscapes, the whole region can become overwhelmingly hot and humid from June on through till October. The summer months may be peak vacation time, but they can also put the unprepared tourist at risk for heatstroke. On the subject of heat and summer, mosquitos are out in full swing during this season. So, if you're planning to visit The Riviera Maya during summer, pack some bug repellent. Many resorts have it available as well if you forget yours.
Rules on Food and Water - The subject of food and water is a hot-button issue for first-time travelers to The Riviera Maya. For one, you shouldn't drink the tap water in Mexico, as in some instances it will make you sick. Instead, you should also ask for bottled water while in restaurants, since they'll likely serve unfiltered tap water by default. Street food is a potential danger as well, as there is no telling whether or not a street vendor properly prepared the meal or adequately cleaned their cooking space. In these instances, it helps to have the 'golden cage' of a hotel or resort to escape to from time to time.
Feel Safe to Explore - While it helps to use a resort as a home base during your trip, you shouldn't rely on it. Resorts tend to upcharge for all of their goods and services and will try to convince you that you need to use their expensive tour guides to explore The Riviera Maya safely. Instead, you should take excursions off of resort property to get a genuine taste of Mexico. The Riviera Maya is not the dangerous, crime-ridden place the news reports it to be. If you take a chance and explore the Riviera Maya on your own, you'll quickly discover all the raw natural beauty and amazing history this fantastic place has to offer.
With great packages to amazing resorts, Mayan history to explore, snorkeling and water sports, and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet, consider Mexico for your next beach vacation. I am happy to customize the perfect trip for you!
Right now we are really lowering our carbon footprint by staying home. However, our world is an amazing place! When you are traveling the world in person again, there are many ways to travel sustainably. Some ideas include:
1. Travel off the beaten path. This can take you to some amazing finds that you haven't seen in 1,000 photos already. As a bonus, you avoid overcrowded spots!
2. Take public transit. In many places this is the best way to go. You don't have to worry about the traffic, you can live like a local and interact with locals, and you cut down on your carbon footprint. Being able to enjoy the sites around you instead of watching the road is nice, too!
3. Pack reusable items such as cups, straws, and shopping bags. Reusable cups and straws are great when you are at a resort on the beach. Shopping bags are amazing when you go to the local markets.
4. Look for accommodations that actively work to reduce their carbon footprint. These accommodations may use sustainable energy, compost their excess food waste, have an effective recycling program, or maybe are Rainforest Alliance Certified.
When you are ready to travel again, let me know if these are things important to you and I will seek out accommodations that have the same goals in mind!
How do you travel sustainably?
This month on Facebook I have been talking a lot about Iceland. Is this on your bucket list? What do you want to see? I know for me, I want to see the Northern Lights, which requires a visit in the fall/winter/early spring. But then again, I want to see the waterfalls and the opportunity to explore a glacier. I guess two visits are on my list! Here are several ideas of what you can see when you visit Iceland.
Whale Watching Tour – There are many tours available that allow you to see whales as well as puffins. You can engage with Naturalists and experience rare sightings that will leave you in awe. It is best to whale watch in the summer months, preferably April through September. Minke whales are the most common in Iceland. Follow the instructions carefully and be safe.
Blue Lagoon Spa – This mineral-rich attraction is minutes from the Keflavik International airport. There are many spa options available due to the geothermic forces and many natural elements. The lagoon is human-made and renewed every two days with fresh water. You can easily access the site via car or bus.
West Fjords – Located in a famous peninsula, the Fjords are breathtaking. You need to plan well and leave time to explore all this area has to offer. They have great attractions. You can visit a myriad of unique sites, such as the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum or the famous Látrabjarg cliff. There is much to experience in this mountainous, remote area. You will have options that will keep you interested while on your expedition.
Skogafoss – The perfect place for you to get a shot with a double rainbow, Skogafoss, is the most scenic fall in Iceland. With a drop of over 60 meters, the view is spectacular. There is also a legend of gold that lies within the falls. Take your chance and search if you dare…
Silfra - Silfra is an amazing diving spot located in Thingvellir National Park. It is the crevice between the tectonic plates in North America and Eurasian continents. It is the only place in the world where you can dive between two tectonic plates that shift roughly 2 cm every year. The shifting of the earth creates new caverns and tunnels. There is plenty of wildlife to see on your dive/snorkel. The three main dive sites are; Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon. The maximum depth is about 207 feet. The water is the purest in the world, and you can feel free to take a sip while diving.
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) – This site is at the top of many lists. However, you need to know the best possible location to view this wonder. Thingvellir is by far the finest area to see this wonder. Be sure you check the weather so that you have a combination of dark and partially clear skies. Thingvellir is a national park, as well as a historic site. It doubles as a great tourist selection for you to see a rare vision as well as gain some insight into the history of the land.
Holuhraun - This is a relatively new site that you can visit located in the Highlands of Iceland. You will need a 4WD to reach the landscape, and be sure you get a high-quality vehicle that is equipped to travel on the unique terrain. Holuhraun is the newest formed lava flow from a volcano that lasted from August 2014 through February 2015. When peering into the rifts of the lava, you see many beautifully vivid colors. While driving along the sand, you can still see steam in certain areas. It is a geological wonder to behold. Be careful and stay on the marked paths, and to wear gloves when handling any lava rocks.
Reynisfjara Beach - This beach is gorgeous and an absolute must-see! With its rare black sand and basalt columns, there is much to explore on this volcanic shoreline. The black sand is lava that cooled once it hit the water, and the sand is more like various small stones. White sand and red sand beaches (Westfjords) also exist in Iceland. While on Reynisfjara, you can see Gardar, which is a basalt cliff that resembles a staircase to heaven. It is a natural pyramid and was formed by columnar jointing. There are many basalt columns throughout Iceland, but this is by far the most exceptional.
Party in Reykjavik – This small town has the best party spots in Iceland, hands down! There are multiple bars and restaurants to choose from. None of the businesses charge a cover, and the music is fantastic!
Seljavallalaug – This natural pool is one of the oldest in Iceland, and you will surely have a memorable experience when visiting. The water is not that hot because it does mix with colder water.
Planning your time and what you absolutely must see is so important for Iceland. While the country is not large, it does take time to truly explore all that it has to offer. You will likely want to plan at least 7-8 days to get the most out of your trip.
And when you are ready to start making those plans or need ideas of where to start, I am here! Let’s start making plans to explore this amazing country!
There are many people that have come to me and said, “Why would I use a travel agent? I’ve never used one before.” I would love to take an opportunity to tell you how a travel advisor works and why we are important, especially in times such as now.
If you have planned your own vacation before, you may have felt overwhelmed with the number of choices, stressed about researching all the choices, and invested a lot of time. On average, people planning a vacation look through about 140 travel sites, spend about 23 hours researching, and overspend by about $495. Wow!
Booking online: Many people that book themselves online do not realize they are using a travel agent. These sites (Travelocity, Hotwire, etc.) are online travel agencies (OTAs). It’s like you pay them even though you are doing the work of booking your vacation. Not only that, but if you have a question about what to do on your vacation (excursions, tours, etc.), you are on your own to find all this as well. Some people think this is worth it because…
Travel agents are expensive. This is a MYTH! Travel agents/advisors often do not cost extra. In fact, because of connections with travel suppliers, they are often able to save you money (in addition to precious time!) on your sought after travels. There are sometimes exclusive offers through agents that you are not able to get directly.
Whether you book yourself online, through a company direct or through a personal travel agent, a commission is built in. Therefore, regardless of how you book, you are still paying the same amount (sometimes more if you aren’t aware of all the discounts). Why not get customized planning on your hard-earned vacation?
Please note, some travel advisors do charge a planning fee, especially on complicated trips. When considering a travel advisor, be sure to ask if they have fees. Even when fees are charged, you will find the savings in time and stress and added value in personalized expert advice you receive.
Customized planning: This is a key benefit of working with a travel advisor! We know the questions to ask, where to look to find a trip best suited for your desires, and extras that may be available to you. Travel advisors help you take several hundred (or thousands) or options and narrow it down to the best ones for the wants and needs you have for your vacation. They get you a full package so that you have all you need from the time you get to the airport until you arrive back home.
However, this does not mean you lose control of planning your travel! Quite to the contrary, a travel advisor enhances your planning, allowing you to be as involved (or uninvolved) as you wish. It is always advisable to research your next destination and learn more about it before you go.
Expert advice: This advice can vary based on where you want to go, what you want to experience, and/or your traveling companions. Travel advisors research many destinations in person, through trainings, and with their travel partners. Use their knowledge to make your trip the best it can be!
Flexibility for payments: Planning with a travel advisor for a trip a bit in advance allows you to take advantage of specials with lower deposits and payment plans. This can vary based on your travel dates and the plans you have chosen. However, this usually provides a nice way to pay it off as you go without adding interest.
In summary, travel advisors save you time, stress, and often times money on your ideal travel. This is valuable when you are planning a vacation for yourself, family, and especially with a big group! Working with me as your travel advisor includes my customized service to find great options for your travel desires, helping you plan your time while on your vacation, and offering flexible payments if you would like to plan ahead. I strive to offer you the best value for your desired vacation. My services extend beyond travel planning to include support after booking, while traveling, and any unresolved issues when you return.
This means in times such as now, my services to you are even more important. If you had a Spring Break vacation planned, I hope you were able to get your travels refunded or credited for the future without much hassle. I heard from a several people in my circle of friends that getting their vacations changed or refunded was not easy! It took them several hours and, in a few cases, days to get through and talk to someone that could help.
My clients only had to contact me to get their reservations moved or cancelled. No waiting on hold for hours or being transferred to different people. They were able to talk with me to know all their options and figure out what was best for their reservations. I took care of the rest. It is horrible that so many amazing trips have been cancelled or delayed. My heart breaks for those affected. However, it was great to know that I could make the process as painless as possible for my clients.
How does a travel advisor do that?
These are just some of the many benefits of using a travel advisor. Maybe it’s time for you to consider hiring a specialist for your next vacation post-quarantine. I would love to discuss the benefits of a travel advisor with you further and help you make your next dream adventure a reality! Contact me to schedule a phone consultation or tell me what you are looking for in your next adventure!
Stay safe and let’s plan ahead to when we can all roam around the world again!
How are you all holding up right now? I hope that with all the challenges that this quarantine brings that you have been able to find a silver lining. Maybe you are connecting more with nature. Hopefully you are able to cherish those you live with, but find it hard to spend time with due to busy schedules. Maybe you are starting a new self-care routine with more meditation, prayer, exercise, or whatever makes you feel your best. During these uncertain times, it is so important to take care of ourselves. I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
There will be many things that we’ll get back in our lives and the ability to move around freely and begin traveling again is certainly one of them. Travel can be a great way to reconnect and bring families back together after weeks (months) of uncertainty.
Here are four ways that travel can rejuvenate family dynamics and help them to re-explore the world.
There’s truly no better feeling than getting to explore new destinations with the ones you love. Whether it’s your biological family or the people you choose to call family, travel can help bring these relationships closer together. While it most definitely is not the time to travel right now, it is a perfect time to start daydreaming and planning your next big vacation. Reach out to me if you’d like some destination inspiration and unique ideas for your group.
Sailing down the river is a peaceful, relaxing experience. Add luxury service, historic sites, and people you enjoy and it’s pure bliss!
Many of us are guilty of falling into a dreary work week routine that has us counting down the minutes until Friday.
On an AmaWaterways river cruise, you’ll say goodbye to your standard routine and hello to outdoor activity, fine dining and relaxation. Our goal is to match you to a luxurious but affordable vacation experience that is both comforting and adventurous.
When you’re not touring a destination, you’ll be enjoying the many amenities offered on the ship, as well as breathtaking views from the Sun Deck. With a smaller number of passengers on board, you’ll have more time to enjoy the amenities in a more personal way.
After their river cruise, John and Debby say AmaWaterways “is a first-class operation and we felt more like honored guests than passengers.”
Interested in what a typical day may look like on your river cruise? All cruises offer the below amenities for you to take advantage of throughout the day.
Fitness Center & Classes
Each ship offers a fitness center to help you stay active between excursions. And if the treadmill isn’t your preference, there is also a professionally trained Wellness Host offering daily classes. Start your day with a yoga session on the Sun Deck, a spin class on the back of the ship, or a light stretch class, and set the tone for a relaxing day.
Enjoy coffee and the breakfast buffet each morning, light lunches and refreshments throughout the day and exquisite meals prepared with locally sourced ingredients for dinner. AmaWaterways is especially known for its fantastic meals on board.
We recommend booking The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant for at least one evening and would be happy to take care of those details for you. John and Ken write:
“The Chef’s Table was an evening to remember! Watching the preparations throughout the evening, and then getting to enjoy them was great fun! We have actually re-created a dressing that he used on the Watermelon and Seared Goat Cheese salad!”
Need more convincing? Unlimited wine, beer, and soft drinks are also offered with each meal.
Regardless of which cruise itinerary you choose, you’ll have a variety of excursions to choose from. Activity level varies to suit your preference for the day and bikes are available on the ship for you to take into town. There is even a tour option for “late risers” if you’d like to take advantage of your lush bed and catch a few extra zzzs.
During some stops, you may prefer a mild hike; on others, wine tasting or touring a Kölsch brew pub. Alternatively, you may wish to take on some free time with your group and explore the city. Some of our clients’ favorite days are strolling through the cobblestone streets of obscure cities, feeling out the local culture.
Best in Class Service
If there is anything that could make your time on board the ship better, let the AmaWaterways team know! The only thing better than their dining is their service. The team truly prides itself on building relationships with each guest and creating a family-like feel for your journey.
“Service was awesome. The crew was great. Truly for us, it was the "trip of a lifetime" kind of thing…”
So, what are you waiting for? I am happy to answer any questions you may have about traveling through Europe by river and get your end-to-end travel confirmed. All you need to decide is when you want to go and who you’d like to travel with!
After my first river cruise, I was convinced it was one of best ways to travel. For lovers of history, art, fine dining, cultural experiences, and immersion in places all around the world, this is a way of travel that you will be so glad you experienced.
Ocean cruises have been a popular way to vacation for decades, and for good reason. They’re affordable, convenient and offer travelers peace of mind knowing that everything they need for a fantastic getaway is all in one place. What could be better than that? Well, consider a river cruise.
You might think that the words “inland” and “cruise” are incompatible. Well, let me show you on AmaWaterways just how superbly well they go together. AmaWaterways river cruises combine all the comfort and convenience of an ocean cruise with the excitement of European excursions at each port of call.
To all cruise-lovers, perhaps it’s time to shake up the ocean liner experience for an entirely new way to explore the world’s waterways. Let us book you on an AmaWaterways river cruise that will take you inland for a unique and relaxing tour of Europe.
Here are the top 10 reasons we know why you’ll love river cruising, specifically on AmaWaterways!
1. Expand Your Options
While ocean cruises take you to countries, river cruises take you through them. There simply is no way to reach river cruise destinations on mega cruise ships.
2. Intimate Experience
River cruising offers a more intimate setting. Most ships range from 144 to 196 passengers. This means that you’ll never have to wait in line, which means you’ll have more time to enjoy all the amenities and have a more personal experience with other passengers and crew. From ordering a beverage to getting on and off the ship, you’ll enjoy the absence of long lines.
3. Dive into the Local Culture
Get away from the touristy ports and explore hidden gems. Large ocean liner ports can receive up to 20,000 visitors on the same day but with a river cruise, you’ll arrive into port with only a few hundred visitors. Not only will you avoid long lines at your destination, but you’ll also enjoy leisurely excursions at each incredible port of call. You’ll be able to take in the local culture and history of every unique town that you visit.
4. No Need to Rush Back
With many departures from the destinations being later in the afternoon or evening, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the nightlife in select ports of call. Whether you choose an evening walk through cobblestone streets, a local show or performance, or one last glass of wine after dinner while listening to a local musician, immersing yourself in the evening culture together with the locals is a unique experience.
5. Castle Views
That’s right, castle views. From Amsterdam to Basel along the Rhine River, and in Budapest, Bratislava, Dürnstein and Passau on the Danube, you’ll see colorful architecture and castles that will blow you away. But don’t stop at just viewing the castles, why not hike or drive to them and then explore their fabulousness with a knowledgeable guide? You’ll literally be walking in the footsteps of world history.
6. 5-Star Reviews
5-star reviews are only earned through 5-star service. When you’re relaxing with a glass of wine on the Sun Deck, enjoying a night under the stars, or having an unexpected encounter with kind locals that your tour guide has arranged for you, you’ll know where our their 5-star reviews come from. See what people are saying about AmaWaterways’ flawless service.
7. Entertainment for the Whole Family
With a variety of activities and plenty of stops along the way, we’re sure everyone in the family will have an unforgettable experience. River cruising is perfect for multi-generational families. From grandparents to teenaged grandchildren, the entire family will bond over a range of topics and activities from food to history to countryside excursions. There really is something to do for everyone on board at each destination. Some members of your group may choose to take advantage of spa services, or the sundeck pool, or cultural activities, while others may prefer to seek out a quiet space with a book. Mealtimes are the perfect opportunity for everyone to come together again as a family. It really is the perfect multi-generational vacation for your family or group of friends.
8. Taste the Difference
Whether you’re into wine tasting or local street food, a river cruise provides an exceptional culinary experience both on the ship and at every destination. The onboard culinary team focuses on utilizing fresh local ingredients. Dishes are paired with local wines. There’s absolutely no mass-produced and basic buffet food when you cruise with AmaWaterways!
9. Variety of Experience
Let’s not forget just how special every European country is! The towns and cities may be close in proximity along the river, but don’t be surprised by the unique feeling and experiences that each destination gives you. Choose from visiting local breweries, hiking to castles, biking through trendy neighborhoods or visiting museums that highlight the local culture.
10. World-Class Accommodations
One of the reasons we love river cruises so much (and we know you’ll agree) is the feeling of walking into a luxurious suite or twin-balcony stateroom that will be your home away from home for the next 7, 8, 10 days or more. Each of AmaWaterways staterooms is tastefully decorated and is river facing. Whether you choose to have a window view, a private balcony, or even a twin balcony (with both a French and outside balcony), you’ll always have a room with a view.
So, there you have it. 10 great reasons why you’ll love your first river cruise on AmaWaterways.
I’d love to match your travel style with the right itinerary and ship. Reach out to me today and be sure to mention if you’re planning a romantic getaway, bachelorette trip or a friends’ reunion and we’ll let you know the add-ons available that will make your experience truly special!
Aloha! How is your winter going? If you are in the Cincinnati area, I'm sure you are missing the sun as much as I am right now! So now you may enjoy dreaming about Hawaii or even seeking out your own adventure to the islands.
This Central Pacific archipelago includes hundreds of islands and a diverse range of activities to partake in. With huge waves, volcanoes, and interesting culture, Hawaii will keep you busy and entertained. These are eight top things to enjoy while visiting the beautiful atoll.
Whale Watching – The 'Big Island' is the most popular destination for whale watching in Hawaii. The peak season to catch a glimpse of Humpback whales is from January to March. You have the option to view via a cruise or private boat tour.
Luaus – These traditional ceremonies are a major source of entertainment on all islands within Hawaii. Take the opportunity to enjoy live dancing, learn about Hawaiian as well as Polynesian culture, and enjoy a delectable cuisine.
See a Lava Show – Hop aboard a World-class catamaran to get up and close to the volcano fingers as they enter the sea. You will have thoroughly trained staff aboard, and safety is paramount. You can select from a tour in the morning, sunset, day, or twilight tour.
Helicopter Tours – Various tour lines offer unique aerial journeys that allow you to view the breathtaking Hawaiian scenery. From volcanoes and waterfalls to hidden valleys and majestic coastlines. A helicopter tour is truly an ideal way to sightsee.
SUP (Stand-Up Paddle Boarding) – This activity originated in Hawaii and is a derivative of surfing. SUP is soothing and allows you to explore the waterways on your terms. An excellent paddle path to take is from the Lanikai Beach to the Mokulua Islands.
Horseback Riding Tours – Explore the coastline or venture to hidden trails on an exploratory horseback tour. Most companies offer private as well as group tours. Some countless ranches and stables accommodate tourists. Paniolo Adventures is one of the largest, with an 11,000-acre cattle ranch located in Waimea.
Mauna Kea – This dormant volcano is a unique wonder to explore and erupted over 4,000 years ago. You can hike the summit, but be sure to stop by the VIS (Visitor Information Station) to check for weather and safety tips.
Kona Coffee Farm Tour – Kona coffee is some of the best gourmet coffee that you can find and is world-renowned. Kailua Kona, which is located on the 'Big Island,' is the heart of Kona coffee. When taking a tour, you will get to see processing facilities as well as the coffee fields. Don't forget to take some time to indulge in the popular beverage.
Grab your gear and take charge of your getaway with these great suggestions that will be sure to make your experience fascinating.
Hello everyone! Is Greece on your bucket list? What attracts you to the Isles? Personally, it is very high on my travel list! With the beautiful architecture, the ancient history galore, the food (fresh olives everywhere!), and the Mediterranean sunshine, it is a place to make you fall in love!
Greece has always been an ideal Mediterranean vacation destination. With over 1,400 islands (230 inhabited), it can be hard to choose which one to visit first. Hopefully, these eight guidelines will assist with your decision.
Best traditional village life: The island, Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and has a little over 6,500 inhabitants and a bit over 20 small villages. Naxos has ancient towers, paved streets, and has maintained its unique Venetian architecture.
Best nightlife: Mykonos, also known as 'The Island of the Winds,' is world-renowned for their vibrant nightlife. Little Venice and Paradise Beach are popular party destinations where clothing is optional, and the LGBT scene is major. There are male go-go dancers everywhere, and parties typically last all night. July and August are the primary months for tourism and the wildest parties.
Best kiteboarding and windsurfing: With gusty winds that can be seen from a mile away, Paros Island is best known for kiteboarding and windsurfing sports goers. Santa Maria, Prassonisi, and Pounda are the main beaches where the sport is practiced. The Thalasea Sports Center is the bay of Mikli Vigla and is a popular hub for the sport.
Best beaches: Located in the Aegean Sea, Milos is a beautiful volcanic island that is rich in minerals as well as rich history. Firopotamos, Kastanas, and Paliorema are some top beach destinations in Milos. The white-washed Cycladic villages and black sands are picturesque backdrops. Although some may be only accessible by boat, there are over 80 mini beaches throughout Milos that you can explore.
Best for nature lovers: Ikaria has some of the World's most pristine and untouched nature territories. It has been identified as a place that promotes life longevity and better overall health.
Best Robinson Crusoe destination: Koufonisia is comprised of two islands, Pano (upper) and Kato (lower). The preferred way to navigate the area is by foot or cycling, as everything is within walking distance. The island has a museum and many sightseeing options.
Best couples getaway: Folegandros does not get the crowded tourist scene as most Greek towns do. They have a broad selection of restaurants and cafes. Chora is the main village and has been preserved well, noting open landscapes and clifftop housing.
Best food: Cretan cuisine focuses on all-natural ingredients and can be enjoyed at any local tavern throughout the islands. Some dishes include Dakos, Gamopilafo, Mizithropita, and Apaki.
Now you're all set! With a myriad of beautiful architecture, scenic waterfronts, and rich history. There is much to enjoy.
Which island is highest on your list?
Hello everyone! Is Alaska on your bucket list? Alaska is one of my favorite places to send my clients. It is a trip of a lifetime with so much to see and explore!
Do you have dreams of going to Alaska? Well, make those dreams come true and jump aboard one of Alaska's most popular cruise lines. You won't regret it. I want to tell you of the six most significant reasons you should cruise to The Last Frontier sooner rather than later.
Contact me here or give me a call. Many options are available for 2020 and 2021. Let’s get you to Alaska to see it in all its glory!