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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Into the Wilderness With AdventureSmith Explorations

I recently had a conversation with Todd Smith, the President and Founder of AdventureSmith Explorations; the company has been of interest to me for some time due to its focus on sustainable tourism and a commitment to the communities and the environments they visit. Among their most impressive achievements is the implementation of their Carbon Free Cruising campaign, which offsets all carbon emissions created as a result of their passenger’s expeditions.  AdventureSmith has partnered with both local …

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Just dial for pizza delivery on NCL

Imagine this: You’ve spent the day exploring absolutely every aspect of your very large cruise ship- or taken an amazing but exhausting shore excursion- and now everyone is wiped out, and inelegantly flopped on their respective stateroom beds.  At this moment, how popular is the idea of getting cleaned up, dressed for dinner, and trekking down to one of the many (fabulous) restaurants? In my experience… maybe not so popular.  How great would it be, then, to …

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Smoke Free At Last!

In most circumstances these days, smoking is not permitted in public areas.  Here in California, we’ve got some of the strictest anti-smoking legislation in the country.  (In fact, in the city of Calabasas (in southern California), they prohibit smoking anywhere a non-smoker could congregate, including public sidewalks!) This push toward a smoke free environment has been welcome social change for many of us; I, for one, have never enjoyed the smell of smoke (with the exception of …

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Can You Cruise (On A Budget) This Summer?

The traditional time for a family vacation is, of course, the summer.  The kids are out of school, the weather’s great, and mid-year is about the time everyone really gets the itch to take off and do something new. With this thought in mind, Money Magazine recently published an informal poll that asked families what their summer travel budget is for 2011.  Here’s what the respondents had to say: 27% won’t travel this summer. 27% will spend …

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Calling All Culinary Artists!

Food, nutrition and cooking are a big deal in my house.  We spend what may amount to an inordinate amount of time pouring over cookbooks, fussing in the garden, and puttering around in the kitchen, searching for just the right combination of ingredients to create everyone’s favorite new dish.  Oftentimes, there’s a bit of a “mad scientist” vibe going on. Sometimes, we’re quite successful; other times… maybe not so much. One thing we can agree on as …

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Families Living With Autism- And Other Disabilities- Can Take A Real (Relaxing!) Vacation

I recently discovered a fantastic cruise program called Autism on the Seas.  It’s not brand new, but groundbreaking just the same, in my opinion.  The program had its first cruise in July 2007 aboard the RCL’s Enchantment of the Seas, and now plays host to 10-12 cruises per year, departing from ports all over the United States.  (They still do the majority of their group cruises on Royal Caribbean, with a small number on Carnival and Disney.) …

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