Regent Seven Seas – Montreal to New York City Cruise

In early October, 2014, ourselves and 5 other couples enjoyed a 10 day cruise up the St. Lawrence Seaway on the beautiful Regent Navigator.  The weather was splendid for the most part and we visited Montreal, Quebec City, Sequanay, Prince Edward Island, Halifax, Portland (Kennebunkport), Boston, Newport and New York City.  Regent offers outstanding, all-inclusive services (food, all beverages, shore excursions, gratuities and more) with fabulous food and service.  We really enjoyed Quebec City, Halifax and Newport.  On Prince Edward Island we visited the House of Green Gables (from the Lucy Maud Montgomery novels) and enjoyed some lobster for lunch.  More lobster in Halifax and other stops – a must cruise for Maine lobster fans!

Regent never dissapoints.  They travel the World so we highly recommend considering a Regent Seven Seas cruise.  You can use our search box on our home page to look for their latest cruises and pricing (click on Advanced Search and input Regent in the vendor box), then contact us to have us design a total vacation package for you.

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Wow – Scenic River Cruises

ImagePicture of my cabin with “Sun Lounge” deck.  I have lowered one half of the large window to open to the outside.  Very, very cool feature.

I had a wonderful opportunity to sail on the new Scenic Jewell on the Danube last week.  What a wonderful ship and crew!  This ship had some very impressive features, not to mention a very professional and friendly/fun staff.  The first big and unique feature was their “Sun Lounge” balcony.  These are amazing.  The balconies (large by river cruise standards) are enclosed by glass so that they actually can become part of the cabin.  If you want to open the glass to get fresh air or look out, you simply push a button and the upper half of the wide glass moves down – very, very cool.  The next great feature was the very powerful shower – everyone likes a good, strong shower.  This Austrailian company understands that has provided clients with one of the most powerful showers I have experienced in any cruise ship and even most hotels.

The next feature, that is exclusive to Scenic at this time, is their GPS handheld devices.  These are in your room to be used anytime and act both as a hearing devices on land tours and also will let you know at anytime where you are and what highlights are in the area, whether on water or land. 

Scenic is also the most all-inclusive of any river cruise:
   Great food is available nearly all day in several venues, all alcoholic beverages are available at no charge all day and night, butler service is included, complimentary wi-fi, HD TV, complimentary mini-bar in cabin, L’Ocotane toiletries and wonderful shore excursions (typically 2-3 options) with wonderful special Scenic events.  All is included without extra charges.  The only thing you can pay extra for are massages and spa treatments or some items for purchase like jewlery on-board. 
   Speaking of food, it is not only very good, but there are options – unusual for a river cruise ship with limited kitchen facilities.  There is a wonderful dining room that feature both buffet and menu items.  There is also the River Cafe which is the main bar and are to relax.  It features early-riser breakfast, light lunch items and also offers at night (with reservations) a fantatic dining experience in The Portobellos Restaurant (seats about 30).  Another option for the passengers on the third deck is the Table La Rive which is a private, six-curse with wine pairings dinner table in the back of the restaurant. 

   I loved this ship and the crew (mostly from Hungary and neighboring countries) who were both professionally efficient and a lot of fun.  Their humor and warmth added to the wonderful features of the ship and the terrific opportunity to get to know the destinations and history of the areas we visited.

   If you want to experience a Scenic Cruise (only European rivers and Russia currently),  there is still space available on many dates in 2014.  They are introducing a new ship for the Seine in France (Paris to Normandy and back) in the Fall of 2014.  It is unique in that its shallow draft will allow it to sail closer to Normandy, eliminating much of the normal 1.5 – 2 hour drive. 

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Client Feedback from Honeymoon on Allure of the Seas Cruise

 

Surfing on Allure of the Seas – This ship has something for everyone!

 

Thank you so much for recommending this cruise!  We had an absolutely
wonderful time.  The weather was great.  We ate at three of the specialty
restaurants, Izumi, Chops Grille, and Giovanni’s Table.  All three were
delicious and were worth the extra money spent. ($45, $50, and $70
respectively) We ate in the dining room three nights and it was just as
exceptional as the specialty restaurants.  The food could not have been
any better.    The view from the room was fantastic! We could see the aqua showfrom the room as well as the boardwalk, and ocean.
We also got to experience Chicago and Blue Planet, a couple of the broadway shows offered aboard.  My wife was a fan of the shopping on board. The staff on the
Allure of the Seas were very professional and courteous.  They were all
very helpful and attentive to any needs we had.  The ports were a lot of
fun, from snorkeling in St.Maarten, to an Island Tour and Beach stop on
St.Thomas, and shopping at Nassau. There were so many options of fun things
to do that it was kind of hard to decide what to do. I would certainly
recommend Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas  we plan to go again soon
with family.

Alan

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How About A Golf Vacation?

Imagine breathing in the ocean wind while teeing off in Bermuda or learning the history of the game while making par at St. Andrew’s. Whether you want to see how your game measures up against the pros on a PGA Tour course, or bask in the lush green scenery of an exotic locale, a golf vacation is the ultimate getaway for those who love the game. Find real excitement playing a new, unfamiliar course, especially one thousands of miles from home.

Planning an invigorating, unforgettable golf getaway can be daunting:   lodging, transportation, restaurant choices, shipping clubs, local course rules, tee times and cart rentals all conspire to add new complexity to your itinerary. Here is where your travel consultant is worth their weight in   gold. Golf travel can be expensive and the planning time consuming. Having   the practiced eye of your travel consultant to arrange your vacation is a good idea – to make the most of your financial and time investment. Goodrich Travel can suggest tour packages at just about any destination that include all of the necessities and more, letting you enjoy your golf and travel without worrying about the logistics.

Because of golf travel’s popularity, tour operators are offering increasingly competitive deals on domestic and international packages – from budget to luxury. Work with your travel consultant to narrow down the many tour operators that offer packages to destinations you would like to visit and play. In particular, you want a   tour operator experienced in golf packages that can provide you with   excellent, even preferred tee times and can coach you and your companions in   all of the local rules of the courses you will visit. Many tour companies   offer “golf widow” rates for any in your group who may travel along but do not play. Tour operators assist with daily itineraries, accommodations, and transportation and provide access to courses and opportunities you might not be able to achieve on your own.

Choosing a destination and a corresponding course that suits your game is the most important factor in planning your dream golf vacation. If traveling with other players, you will also need to take their abilities, ages and health into consideration. If the skill levels of your companions vary dramatically, perhaps you will choose a destination that boasts an assortment of courses with varying difficulty. And if non-golfers will be joining you, you’ll need to make sure other activities are available for them to enjoy, such as the beach, mountains, museums, art galleries, historic landmarks, and other tourist attractions.

The number of potential destinations for your golf vacation is truly staggering. Practically every   country in the world that has a tourism industry has golf listed as one of its primary attractions. You could head to Ireland or Scotland and become one with the history and mystery of the game as well as enjoy summertime hours on   the course as late as 9 p.m. You can head to Hawaii and learn to surf and birdie on the same day. The Caribbean, comprised of 700 islands, offers more   possiblities than you can imagine. Then you have exotic, Far East destinations where golf has taken a firm but zen-like grip on nations like Japan and Thailand. Not to mention spectacular domestic destinations like Phoenix, Palm Springs, or the Greenbriar in West Virginia. How about Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Whistling Straights, Pinehurst, Pebble Beach, Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head?

Perhaps you will want to take advantage of several courses on your trip.   If this is the case, you should allocate sufficient time for transportation between courses and the logistics of settling into your accommodations. On the other hand, if you’re limited to a weekend trip, sticking with one or two courses will allow for some relaxing downtime. If you wish to play courses  other than those included in your tour package, your travel consultant should easily be able to make the necessary arrangements and adjust the price of   your package accordingly.

Booking tee times in advance is a must. Your travel consultant will determine from the tour operator how far   in advance reservations can be made, as this varies with each course. If not, you will need to inquire about tee time reservation guidelines and make your arrangements as early as possible, especially for better-known courses. Also be aware that many golf resorts offer their guests first choice concerning tee times, which might give you reason to stay at the resort rather than off-premises.

If you are traveling internationally, remember to leave time to acclimate   to time zone changes. The day of arrival in Europe from the United States is often a gray haze of addled thinking and tired reflexes – not the optimal conditions for a game of golf. Leaving a day or two for sightseeing and relaxing will help assure that your golf game will be up to par, or as close as you can get, anyway.

Before leaving home, you will want to know whether the course you’ll be playing has any restrictions. More popular courses often require a particular handicap of players, and at times, a home course letter of recommendation.  Such courses might also specify a maximum amount of time allotted to complete a round – something to consider, especially if the course does not allow golf carts. These restrictions ensure that play is continuous and enables more golfers to enjoy the course. When playing a new course, it’s a good idea to arrive early and familiarize yourself with its layout. Allowing time for practice on the range and putting greens should help you adjust to the course more quickly.

Do remember to take into account your destination’s climate. When traveling to the U.K., for instance,  know that rain and wind will likely be factors in your game. When heading to the southeastern U.S., consider hurricane season. Furthermore, if a course closes because of rain, you may want to be in a destination that has other means of entertainment. But if there is nothing you would rather do on   vacation besides golf, be sure to choose a destination with a mild and consistent climate.

If you’re on a budget, you have an opportunity to save money and still play some of the best courses by traveling off-season. Your travel consultant will help you plan for “low” to “high” season travel, but if you choose the low season, remember that the trade-off is almost always   your weather conditions. While the savings can be substantial, if you are   planning on a trip to Florida or a tropical destination, do not underestimate   the heat. However, in other destinations, such as Ireland and Scotland, off-season weather can translate into wet, cold and gale-force winds. Choose   wisely!

Another option would be Vacationing at a golf school, which can be the perfect opportunity for players at every level who are looking to lower their scores. Many golf schools boast instructors who are PGA Tour professionals.   Many also use state-of-the-art technology to analyze and enhance your golf swing. The training can be as focused or as broad as you wish, given the many schools offering multiple programs. For this reason, advance research is imperative.

In general, golf schools offer professional instruction for small groups with a particular skill level. Be sure to inquire about the school’s teacher/student ratio before you go. One-on-one lessons may also be available at an additional cost. Instruction is usually given early in the day so   participants can practice what they’ve learned in the afternoon. Golf school   programs vary in length from a day to a week, and program costs vary as well.   Costs are generally dependent on the intensity of the instruction, travel season, and whether or not accommodation and meals are included.

As you pack, keep in mind that   golf courses have strict requirements regarding attire. Golf shoes are a   must, as well as collared shirts, long shorts and/or pants. Also be aware of   your destination’s climate – rain gear is always advisable. Since playing   with a set of clubs different from your own can hinder your game, renting clubs, though an option at many courses, is not advisable if it can be avoided. When traveling by plane, pack your clubs in a high quality travel   bag, and stuff the bag with as many small items as possible (gloves, balls,   tees, etc) to conserve space in your luggage and to provide a bit of padding for your clubs. Just a note – clubs cannot be a carry-on item, so don’t even   try. A hard-case is recommended for travel on airlines to prevent damage to the clubs from other bags and inevitable rough handling. As a precaution, check to see if the loss of your clubs would be covered under your homeowners   insurance, or if a rider to your policy is necessary.

When you make your final plans, inquire about relevant cancellation   policies, as well as any fees incurred if you change your golf schedule. And   although you’re counting on sunny skies, you may want to ask about a rain refund policy.

Once your plans are set – it’s time to relax and enjoy the trip ahead. Travel on, and tee up! The green awaits.   To start planning, call me:  Randy Goodrich, Goodrich Travel at (503) 330-7439   I love golf and travel!

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Croatia – Montenegro Adriatic Cruise

L’Austral in Adriatic off coast of Croatia

I arranged a wonderful cruise out of Venice to visit Croatia and Montenegro.  We cruised the beautiful Eastern Adriatic Sea with its blue, blue waters and lovely islands and towns.  We enjoyed the lovely L’Austral, a 200 passenger yacht of Compagnie du Ponant cruises.  The French flair of the ship, some of the crew and other passengers was wonderful.  Croatia is one of the prettiest, cleanest and friendliest countries we have been to.  Split, Hvar, Kortola, and Dubrovnik were all great places with a ton of interesting history.  Then there was Montenegro – what a surprise.  Kotor is an ancient city set back in a fiord in the moutains – just breath-taking.  We took a tour over to Budva which is the coastal resort area of Montengro and growing into quite the jet-set destination.  We would highly recommend this trip and have in fact booked other clients on the same itinerary.  Let us know if you would like to give it a try.

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Go Downunder This Winter – Summer There!

There! The Sydney Opera House

By: John Geysen and Collette Vacations

On a peninsula, jutting into the harbour rests the gleaming white curves of the iconic Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This amazing structure, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, has been described by UNESCO as a “masterpiece of 20th century architecture.”

After an earlier behind-the-scenes look at this acoustic marvel, you already know why the Opera House remains the busiest performing arts venue in the world.

Now see it in all its glory as you cruise spectacular Sydney Harbour.

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Visit London Now – Much to See

Better than a Gold Medal By: Liam Dunch and Collette Vacations

London is one of the World’s great cities!  Race out of ‘Olympics Fever’ and into one of the many cultural and historic sites that this location has to offer!  In a city with no shortage of attractions, here are a few of my favorites that are a little more ‘off the beaten track’.

  • Tate Modern Art Gallery Set on the banks of the Thames, the Tate Modern was created from the shell of a former power station and opened for the Millenium.  The single disused chimney gives the Museum its characteristic silhouette.  The Tate Modern displays contemporary art.  For one of the best views in the city, enjoy a traditional afternoon cream tea at the restaurant on the 6th floor.  Like all of Britain’s public museums, admission is free (except for temporary special exhibitions).  For a bonus, take a walk afterwards across the Millenium Bridge, which connects the gallery to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of the river.  This was famously nicknamed the ‘bouncy bridge’ when it opened, as the structure was too flexible and the footpath bounced and shook as people walked across it (don’t worry, this has been fixed!).
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum A prominent architect and London gentleman during the late Georgian and Victorian periods, Sir John Soane created a personal museum and library in the three houses that he lived in.  Open to the public since his death in 1837, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse of the live and tastes of an educated collector.  Ranging from Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian sculpture to medieval manuscripts and 18th century paintings, along with fine furniture and decorative arts, the collection is kept in the way Soane had originally displayed it.  The museum is open from Tue-Sat and admission is free.
  • Regent’s Canal & Camden Market Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city with a cruise on the Regent’s Canal.  From Little Venice, a leafy residential enclave, the canal passes Regent’s Park (home of London Zoo and the summer Outdoor Theatre).  Take an authentic narrow boat trip or hop on the water bus to get the view from the canal.  At the west side of Regent’s Park you will find the trendy and busy area of Camden Lock Market.  This market (really a collection of six adjoining market areas) attracts as many as 100,000 visitors on a typical weekend.  Originally rooted in the ‘alternative cultures’ of the 60s and 70s, the markets offer clothing, crafts, art, food and many other things.
  • Royal Greenwich<Br>A short distance downstream from the City of London lies the Royal Borough of Greenwich.  A small village, Greenwich is known around the world as the home of Greenwich Mean Time.  Take the Docklands Light Railway past the Olympics Stadium, or even better, cruise along the Thames.  Boats leave frequently from Westminster, the London Eye and the Tower of London and an hour’s leisurely voyage will take you past many of London’s landmarks.  At the dock you will see the Cutty Sark, the legendary tea clipper and in its day the fastest ship in the world.  Stroll through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory, home of the Prime Meridian.  Here you can stand with one foot in the Eastern and one foot in the Western hemispheres!  The Royal Naval College is situated on the site of the former royal palace, birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and the impressive public rooms can be visited.  Also worthy of note is the National Maritime Museum, built in the former Royal Hospital, which is one of the world’s greatest maritime collections.  End your day with a traditional “pie and mash” at Goddard’s on King William Walk.  This family-owned business has been serving up homemade pies and other London specialties, such as jellied eels, since 1890.
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