Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and the Downtown Disney District

Before visiting the Disney Theme parks, we investigated accommodations in the surrounding area, and settled on staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  We picked this on-site craftsman-style Disney hotel because of its location- it looks out over the California Adventure Park and has an entrance directly into the Downtown Disney Area.  (A tip: this is paticularly nice after a 14 hour day in the parks- it’s a looong walk just to make your way through …

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LEGOLAND California- Tricks with Bricks

We visited Legoland California in the off-season, a Sunday in October.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crowds were minimal, and lines for the rides were practically nonexistent; our average wait time was 5-10 minutes, and some rides had no line at all. This amusement park caters to a younger crowd than most, in my opinion, but I think it’s actually geared best for the 5 to 10 year-old range.  The “better” rides (read: faster and …

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The Southern California Adventure Parks as a Pre or Post-Cruise Excursion

Taking a cruise that begins or ends in Los Angeles or San Diego?  My family just got back from a trip to Southern California, where we stopped at both Legoland and the two Disney Theme Parks- all of which have locations that make for an excellent pre or post-cruise excursion. Legoland, located in Carlsbad, is approximately 30 minutes North of San Diego and about an hour South of Los Angeles (get directions here), making it an easy trip if you are …

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The Pacific NorthWest Via The Columbia River- Experience Nature And Education On A Domestic Cruise

If you’re looking for a great domestic cruise, one that visits the Pacific Northwest via the Columbia River should be at the top of your list.  AdventureSmith Expeditions has an option that I absolutely love, which is their “In the Wake of Lewis and Clark” cruise.   Here are some of the best reasons to consider this cruise: There is no need for a passport… you can fly into Portland, Oregon (many times on a direct flight) …

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Costa Rica: The “Greenest”, Happiest Country in the World

If you’ve been reading this blog consistently, you know one of my pet topics is the environment.  So, if you’re thinking about new cruise ideas, give this one some serious thought: Costa Rica. Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know… Costa Rica ranked third in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. Additionally, Costa Rica plans to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021.  (Just FYI, that means that …

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Princess Cruises Receives Environmental Accolades

Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess has won, for the sixth year in a row, the Port of San Francisco’s “Cruise Ship Environmental” award.  The award, which recognizes cruise ships that go above and beyond existing environmental regulations of the San Francisco Bay area, is given to ships that call four or more times per year at the port, and show a commitment to preserving and protecting the environment. The Sea Princess can “plug in” to the city’s power …

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Royal Caribbean’s Land And Sea Packages- Cruise Ships and Theme Parks

Cruise lines are seeing more and more bookings from families; after all, cruise ships provide the perfect all-inclusive vacation.  They offer wonderful children’s programs, a variety of entertainment options, meals and lodging; all of it neatly tied up in one luxurious ship that sails from one exotic port to another. Many of the most in-demand cruises- those that visit the Caribbean- leave from Florida, a popular vacation destination in and of itself.   Disney Cruise Line has already …

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The Smithsonian Institute: Educating, Even At Sea

Most of us are familiar with the Smithsonian Institute; it is, after all, the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Located in Washington, D.C., most of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are free to the public and open almost every day of the year. My personal favorite is the National Air and Space Museum (which features exhibits such as the 1903 Wright …

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NCL’s Thank You to the Armed Forces

Norwegian Cruise Line recently launched an improved military benefits program for those who serve in the United States’ and Canada’s armed forces- with discounts on select cruises of up to 10% As a tribute to the troops, NCL offers active or retired members of the military special rates on specific Freestyle Cruising vacations.  Itineraries include 7-day Western Mediterranean, Eastern Caribbean and Hawaii cruises, and Norwegian Epic’s 13-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Miami on October 23, 2011. …

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100 Years of Machu Picchu

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of the city of Machu Picchu.  Designated one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, the city is an architectural and aesthetic marvel, especially considering that the construction began in 1450 AD, without the benefit of modern transportation or tools.  Perched on an narrow, 8000 foot ridge in the Andes Mountains of South America, the ruins of  this once self-sufficient city show that it had palaces, …

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