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Archive for the ‘Cruise and Island Issue’ Category

That’s a Cruise Theme?

When you think of a cruise, what images come to your mind? Shakespeare, antiques, Rock and Roll, Harleys, and literature? I didn’t think so! Chances are, if these words weren’t on the tip of your tongue you’re not alone.

The fact is, however, there are entire cruises built around these themes and many more. If you like the idea of a vacation at sea and have a interest or hobby that you are quite passionate about, these voyages could be an ideal combination!

Epicurean cruises are among the most prevelent themed cruises, with a wide variety of niche cruises within this category.

  • Norwegian Cruise Lines coffee cruise tours the coffee growing countries of Latin America
  • Regent Seven Seas’ Chocolate Cruise offers cooking demonstrations, wine and chocolate pairings and seminars on the history and benefits of chocolate.
  • On Uniworld’s Epicuran Adventure Cruise guests experience wine tasting and pairing along with cooking demonstrations, all with a backdrop of cities such as Basel, Viena, Amsterdam, Paris and Bucharest.
  • Silversea’s Culinary Art Voyages feature top chefs from Relias and Chateux

Always searching for the next whodunnit best seller? Then a Murder Mystery Cruise might be right up your alley. These cruises are based around a (fake) murder mystery and involve both the crew in the passengers in the search to find the clues and solve the mystery. Royal Caribbean’s Whodunnit Cruise routes include Eastern Caribbean and from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.

Bikers like to cruise, too! Hogs on the High Seas Harley Cruisesshows off the Caribbean’s tougher side. Dinner dress is “biker casual” and leather is suggested for formal dinners.

Still not unique enough? Then try the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek” cruise, dedicated to fans of these two dedicated show, featuring celebrity guests.

Other niche cruises include:

  • Baseball Greats Cruise (MSC Cruises)
  • Antiques
  • Golf
  • Literary Cruises (such as Royal Caribbean’s “Book It” Cruise to Bermuda
  • Music Cruises – from Jazz to Rock n Roll to Oldies and virtually everything in between
  • Clothing optional cruises – other than shore excursions, the main dining room and the high end steak house, these vacationers can bare it all!

Whatever your special interest, it’s likely that there’s a cruise for that. If there’s not, you may be able to create one. Cruise ships frequently allow groups to offer seminars, workshops and meetings aboard the ship.

Navigating the Islands

I recently posed a question on my blog asking readers for their unanswered travel questions. One theme seemed to be differentiating the Caribbean islands from each other and knowing which one to choose.

Whether you are deciding upon a cruise itinerary or are looking some R&R at a resort, knowing what each island has to offer is a key factor, especially with the number of islands to choose from.

Here are tips that might help you narrow your search and get you one step closer to your ideal vacation.

All-Inclusive Resorts:

Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic offer the greatest number of all-inclusive resorts. Aruba, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Cayman Islands, Antigua and Anguilla also offer several options each.

Lush Scenery:

While many of the islands are known for their natural beauty, St. Lucia, Dominica, Granada, St. Kitts and Nevis,  and St. John are among the most lush.  Islands like Aruba and Curacao have more of a desert landscape.

Seclusion:

If you’re looking for a serene, out of the way getaway, islands such as Barbuda, St. Bart’s, Matinique, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guadaloupe, Grenada or St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be ideal. Here, you aren’t likely to find mega-resorts or tour buses full of day trippers from a cruise. Just you, the ocean, the sand and a few others looking to escape.

Restaurants, Shopping and Nightlife:

St. Thomas and Aruba are possibly the most notable for all three.  Aruba is 20 miles off the coast of Venezuela and it’s cuisine and atmosphere reflect the latin influence. It’s fun and lively with a bit of sass. St. Thomas is popular for it’s tax-free shopping and particularly noted as a place to purchase electronics and jewelry.

Diving, Snorkeling and Water Activities:

Good diving and snorkeling can be found throughout the Caribbean, though Bonaire, Grand Cayman and Cozumel (included as it’s on many cruise itineraries) are among some of the top dive spots in the world. With 365 beaches, Antigua offers virtually every water-based activity available.

Beaches:

The Caribbean has no shortage of beaches and whichever island you choose will offer beautiful ocean views. However, some of the most notable beaches include Seven Mile Beach (Caymen Islands), Honeymoon Beach (St. John, USVI), the beaches of Antigua, Anse Chastanet (St. Lucia), The Baths (Virgin Gorda, BVIs), Shoal Bay (Anguilla) and and too many others to name.

Festivals and Celebrations:

Aruba and Jost Van Dyke (British Virgin Islands) do two of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Caribbean. Cruise ships will do an onboard celebration for New Years Eve as well.

Trinidad and Tobago are known for having one of the best Carnival celebrations in the world.

St. Lucia’s Jazz festival in May and Montego Bay’s Reggae Sumfest in July attract music fans from all over.

The best way to determine the right cruise or island to fit your needs is to work with a travel professional. They know the islands and properties and can help create an itinerary or find a cruise which fits your needs, interests and budget.

Choose the Right Cruise

Cruising seems to have a bit of a cult following – people either love cruises and rarely travel any other way, or they prefer to stay on land.

Whether your a veteran or rookie cruiser, your enjoyment of the experience hinges largely on choosing the right cruise. The notion that cruises are essentially all the same can be easily disproved by looking at the incredible variety of cruise ships, types, destinations and themes.

Some critical points to consider when choosing a cruise include:

1. What type of overall experience are you looking for? Cruises range from family-oriented to couples oriented to themes such as jazz, shakespeare or motorcycle groups.

2. Would you prefer a smaller, more intimate ship with more personal attention or something more grandiose with a rock wall, a skating rink and theater performances.

3. What time of year are you cruising? This is critical. There is a reason that cruises to the Western Caribbean are cheap during September – it’s the middle of hurricane season and the Western Caribbean is the most often hit. Possibly more than any other type of vacation, bad weather can affect your cruise vacation.

4. What type of dining experience are you looking for?  Do you want scheduled dining times or open dining? Are you looking for all you can eat buffets and 24 hour dining or higher end restaurants. How personalized do you want your dining?

5. Start your planning by asking yourself what you want to see and experience, rather than which destination you want to visit. You might have the Caribbean in mind, but realize through the planning process that the mediterranean better fits your interests.

6. Ask if a cruise really is for you. The pool games, casino, and rock wall sound like they’ll fill up your day at sea but will you really participate? Will six to twelve hours in each destination be enough for you? Are you happy with the stateroom options?  If the answer to these is yes, you’re probably ready to set sail! If you’re not so sure, discuss other options – or possibly a different type of cruise – with your travel planner.

Welcome to TraveLuxe!

Traveluxe, a bimonthly emagazine, was created to provide the ultimate traveler with all the tips, tricks, and suggestions for their next great adventure. Travelers can enjoy  on topics such as destination discovery, hotel and resort reviews, local language tips, worldwide events and festivals, international gastronomy and new travel accessories. Each issue will be centered on a specific theme, allowing our readers to delve into new types of travel with publication.

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About the Author:

Maya Northen is the primary author and editor in chief of TraveLuxe. She is also the owner of Chimera Travel, a travel planning company which creates customized itineraries for individuals and groups. As a specialist in Luxury Travel, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and Adventure Travel, Maya has traveled to six continents (excluding Antartica) and has worked with clients traveling all over the globe. In addition to producing TraveLuxe, Maya has served as a travel editor of Maven Mag Philadelphia and has been featured in Ladies Who Launch Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Women’s Journal.

November-December 2009 Issue – All You Can Eat and Drink

The holiday season will be quickly upon us. Virtually all around the globe, that means a marjor focus on seasonal food and drink. Since we all have food on the brain, I figured why not explore the opportunities for exceptional gastronomic experiences throughout the world.

Merriam-Webster defines gastronomy as “the art of science or good eating”. Wikipidia defines it as “the study of a relationship between culture and food”.  While both definitions refer to food, the term can be extended to drink as well.

In the travel industry, gastronomic vacations are on the rise. In some cases, food or drink is the main activity of the trip, for instance a whisky tour of Scotland. In other instnaces, such as a Tuscan wine and bike exploration, culinary pursuits are combined with sightseeing, cultural experience or physical activity. Whatever your culinary preferences, there’s most likely a tour that features it!

If you have trouble finding a group or private tour that truly fits your preferences, not to worry – personalized gastronomic itineraries can be created specifically tailored to your interests. I hope you enjoy reading about these journeys as much as I enjoyed writing about them!