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Are Caribbean Islands Open For Travel?

Recent hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria halted travel for many vacationers and with holiday day travel plans in full swing, most tourists are crossing the Caribbean off their destination list.
But not so fast!
There several islands open for business. Below are excerpts taken from Travel & Leisure, Cruise Critic, and The Washington Post explaining which islands are tourist ready.

Hurricane Aftermath: What to Know If You’ve Booked a Caribbean Cruise (Travel & Leisure)

Travelers may be surprised at the number of Caribbean cruise ports that were entirely unaffected by the storms. In fact, both Irma and Maria avoided altogether the port cities of the Western Caribbean (which includes Mexican ports of call and Belize) and the Southern Caribbean (the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao).

Additionally, the Bahamas are virtually unscathed and open for business. And the St. Kitts port Basseterre opened almost immediately after Hurricane Irma.

Many other ports, including Gustavia on St. Bart’s, are open, but only for relief efforts — one of the reasons it’s important to confirm itinerary details for your individual sailing.

Hurricane Season 2017: Which Caribbean Cruise Ports Are Open? (Cruise Critic)

More than 30 Caribbean cruise ports have been affected by either Irma or Maria. More than a dozen ports have re-opened to cruise passengers since Irma, some faster than expected — Key West had originally expected to be closed to cruise ships through October 20, but reopened to Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas on September 24.

Hurricane Maria also passed by the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Seven ports are officially closed due to damage from Hurricane Irma; others — like Dominica — have been equally devastated by Maria. Other ports are still are pending further assessment.

Which hurricane-affected areas in the Caribbean and U.S. are open for business? (Washington Post)

U.S. Virgin Islands
Governor Kenneth E. Mapp announced that St. Thomas’s Cyril E. King Airport has reopened to commercial flights, with American and Delta airlines offering flights from the U.S. mainland.
The governor said cruise ships could probably return to St. Thomas and St. Croix as soon as Oct. 15 but that late October is more “realistic.”

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Forbidden Destinations: Set Sail to Cuba


It’s time to set sail for an exotic adventure. An island previously off limits and only 90 miles south of Florida.
Let’s tour this island in classic American cars, sip on the world’s best mojitos, and take in panoramic views of old Havana.
Yes, Cuba is an amazing island with plenty to offer.
Although business ties between Cuba and US are somewhat in question, this beautiful island is still open to American travelers.
If you’re daydreaming of a trip to Cuba, the Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas might be the ideal vacation for you. Here’s a look at this boutique boat and what you can expect with Royal Caribbean.

Sail To Cuba In Style

Royal Caribbean recently spent 90 million dollars to renovate the Empress of the Seas. It’s a boutique boat, holding about 2,000 passengers, which makes for an intimate and elegant voyage.
Affordable luxury comes to mind when comparing the cost of Royal Caribbean’s trip to other Cuban cruises.

The festivities begins as the Empress sets sail.
Rhythmic music fills the air as salsa instructors gently guide you to the dance floor for lessons.
There’ll be many opportunities to show off your salsa moves in Havana.

If you’re a history buff and prefer engaging in conversation, connect with Cuban historians or take Spanish lessons.
With plenty to do while onboard the Empress, enjoy taking in the sights, and sound of Cuban culture.

Sight Seeing In Cuba

Once you arrive in Havana, chose from 6 tours the Royal Caribbean has to offer or explore on your own. There are walking tours, motor-coach tours, or tour in an iconic vintage car.
Each tour varies in time and destination.
When visiting Cuba, you cannot use bank cards and phone service is limited, but you can use American dollars (bring singles, fives and ten dollar bills). You can also exchange your dollars for Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and pay an exchange fee.

And yes, you are allowed to bring back up to 50 cigars and 1 liter of Rum (get Santiago De Rum).
Sights to check out include the Malecon, Plaza de la Revolution, El Morro Castle, and Tropicana Cabaret (great mojitos). And if you’re staying in Cuba overnight, check out western Cuba’s Soroa Orchid Garden and Vinales National Park.

The Empress at Sea has deployment to Cuba scheduled for the end of 2017 through 2019 and seats fill up fast so book your trip today!

Would you like to win a spa/golf getaway for two? Sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win!  Drawing will be held September 18th.

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Health and Wellness Travel: Top 8 Spas


Wellness tourism is a rapidly growing travel niche and it’s no surprise.  As more Americans understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, self care is on the rise.

And what better way to show self love than a spa getaway?

Yes beloved, with 4 months left of 2017, there’s plenty to do and prepare for.  A spa getaway would melt away the stress and give you something to look forward to.

Call your girl friends and get out your calendars because there’s a list of the top 8 spas to visit from Travel Agent magazine July edition.

International Health and Wellness Spas

Budapest, named the “City of Spas” since the 1930s. Its wellness culture history spans as far back as the Roman era. The Ritz-Carlton Budapest, which opened in March offers a steam room, sauna, a glass enclosed pool and a 24hr fitness center. Try the Serenity on the Danube or The Royal Ritual spa treatments for a personal Hungarian experience.

The new Oberoi Marrakech, a destination spa, is located on a private island sprawling across a lake within a citrus orchard. Amenities include swimming pools, hammams, yoga in the garden, a fitness center, and treatment rooms. You can choose between Ayurvedic and Moroccan- inspired treatments or Balinese, Western and Oberoi signature rituals.

The Heavenly Spa, in The Westin Golf Resort and Spa, has six treatment rooms including hydrotherapy rooms, saunas, hot and cold whirlpools and a relaxation room. This spa offers couples massages and bridal party buyouts of up to 12 people.

Health and Wellness Spas at Sea

Silver sea’s Silver Discoverer has complimentary wellness-themed on expedition voyages to Micronesia, Melanesia, and Australia. The complementary program includes stretching, yoga, Pilates classes, daily lectures, cooking demonstrations, gym session with a personal trainer and a choice of 1 spa massage treatment.

Star Clippers Royal Clipper round trip cruises from Barbados offers complementary yoga, meditation and fitness classes.

Domestic Health and Wellness Spas

You don’t have to leave the U.S. to keep up with your wellness regimens. New York’s 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, which debut in February is home to Bamford Spa, a nine treatment room facility. There’s also a fitness center, a yoga and barre studio.

The Confidente Miami Beach Hotel might suit your taste. The oceanfront hotel has recently launched a monthly Spa Nights experience. Guests and locals are invited to the rooftop Spa at The Confidante after hours to enjoy music, complimentary glass of champagne and s 15% discount on the spa menu.

The Ritz-Carlton Denver recently added a “babymoom” overnight package and a collection of pre-natal spa treatments for expanding families and moms to be. Packages include facial, manicure, pedicure, sparkling cider, and a rubber ducky and baby bib of choice.

Would you like to win a spa getaway for two? Sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win!  Drawing will be held September 18th.

 

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The Ultimate Cruise Experience For Foodies

 

How would you like to learn from cooking experts as you sail to exotic destinations?
If this sounds amazing then boy, do I have the ultimate adventure for you!

Holland America Line has partnered with Test Kitchen to bring you fabulous culinary-themed cruise!

Now you can learn foolproof techniques and user-friendly recipes for making delectable dishes with confidence. This new culinary programming will be available on Holland America Line select ships and will roll out fleet wide by the end of this year.

Learn more about America’s Test Kitchen, their unique, scientific approach to cooking and the exciting culinary experiences they’re bringing aboard.
Attend live cooking demonstrations and workshops while sailing to Panama or watch Test Kitchen shows in your cabin!

Here’s a quick run down of what to expect on your fantastic vacation.

COOKING SHOWS

Enhance your culinary knowledge with cooking demonstrations, videos, techniques and delicious recipes you’ll treasure long after your cruise has ended. Explore cooking shows. Learn to buy, store, prepare and cook the perfect salmon, get to know protein-packed legumes, and grains, and more! There’s  a wide array of cooking shows to choose from to keep you entertained.

WORKSHOPS

Immerse yourself in the America’s Test Kitchen experience, as you master advanced culinary techniques for creating pies, pasta, egg dishes, and decorate. Work side-by-side with an America’s Test Kitchen Host to learn culinary techniques in these 90-minute workshops.

America’s Test Kitchen Feature Cruises

The Test Kitchen experience will be available on four Holland America Line cruises starting in November. Engage in onboard cooking shows, recipe development presentations and culinary trivia with Test Kitchen experts! There will also be a Q&A and book signing.

Cabins are going fast so book your vacation now!

*Holland America Line website

 

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