Robert Q Travel Byron's Blog

4 Tips for Pre- and Post-Cruise Extensions
Your next cruise vacation shouldn’t just start and stop at the ship’s gangway. Make the most of your holiday by extending your cruise before you board and even after you disembark.

Here are some pre- and post-cruise extension moves for every smart cruise traveler.
  

1. Arrive at least one day early


That doesn’t even qualify as a pre-cruise extension. It’s just common sense.

We recommend you arrive at minimum of a full day before your cruise is set to embark. Most cruises sail away in the late afternoon, with all aboard no later than mid afternoon. It really doesn’t leave much time padding.
 
Even the slightest delay of a mid-morning or midday arrival puts you at risk of missing your cruise departure.
Between airlines pinching pennies and making sure they fly full, and a full calendar of extreme weather events throughout North America, a flight delay or getting bumped and having to wait one or two flights down the schedule to take off can really put you in jeopardy of missing sail away and getting your cruise off on the wrong foot. 

Not to mention the stress of sorting out transportation to the first port of call where you can pick up the ship (and miss enjoying your first port of call as you use the time boarding the ship and getting your arrival sorted out).

There’s another potential snag on arrival that being at least a day early helps solve. If your luggage misses your flight, airlines can often restore it to you by the next day. If you’re on a ship, the logistics of having your luggage catch up with you are much more complicated than if you’re at a land-based hotel the day after your flight. That way, you’ll likely hardly miss the luggage, and the rest of your cruise will be smooth sailing.
 

2. Don’t miss two of your cruise’s ‘ports of call’


The number one reason travelers choose cruises is for the destination. And you likely have plans for each of your cruise ports of call.  

It only makes sense to treat your ports of embarkation and debarkation like the fascinating ports of call on the rest of your cruise.

And that involves more than a transfer straight from the ship to or from the airport. Most ports of embarkation and debarkation are major cities that merit at least a ‘long weekend’ / 3 day stay to get an overview of the city and then dive deeper into some of the activities, cuisine, events and neighborhoods that give the destination its unique character.

Think of exploring the contemporary art, Art Deco, mid-century and modernist design and Cuban culinary scene in Miami before a Caribbean cruise. 

Wine, tapas and the Gaudi architecture of Barcelona before your Mediterranean cruise.

High tea, Royal Family landmarks, and museums of London before a Trans-Atlantic Crossing.

Cruise lines are getting into the pre- and post-cruise extension act too, offering, and sometimes including, at least one, with an option for more, nights before and after you actually board their ships.

3. Launching pad


Pre- and post-cruise extensions can also allow you to use your ports of embarkation and disembarkation as starting points for intensive exploration of the region.

This is a great opportunity on cruise round trips when your cruise begins and ends at the same port. Arriving a few days ahead of your cruise allows you time to immerse yourself in the embarkation city. Then when you return, it’s a launching pad to experience more of the surrounding area.

You can make independent plans for your cruise extension, but you don’t have to. Travel advisors can help you pair cruises with land-based tours complete with expert guides, hotels and transportation so you can easily transition from ship to shore journeys and double the holiday experiences and memories.

Imagine continuing your immersion into the magnificent wilderness with a train ride through the Rocky Mountains before or after your Alaska cruise roundtrip from Vancouver.

Experiencing the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Iguassu Falls after disembarking your cruise in Rio de Janeiro.

Or a wildlife safari after your South Africa itinerary.

4. Take advantage of the cruise line's own land tours


Cruise lines are now often offering land tours bookending their cruises as well. Like putting icing on the cake of a northbound cruise to Alaska with a land tour of the state’s famous Denali park.

Not only do a cruise line’s land tours make the transition between ship and shore logistically seamless, where your luggage and transfers are handled with minimal effort on your part without awkward delays around things like hotel check in times.

Especially at the luxury level of cruises, land tours mirror the service levels and unique features of the cruise line you’ve been enjoying on the water, so instead of feeling like you’re taking two trips back to back, you’re enjoying the same travel experience in different surroundings.

A special variation on this theme is land tours that take place mid-cruise, like an overnight excursion to Angkor Wat from a Mekong river or coastal South East Asia cruise.

Pre- and post-cruise extensions are the perfect proof that when it comes to cruise trips, more is really more! A travel advisor can help you design the best cruise extensions and manage the moving parts to ensure both your ship and shore travel creates the very best memories.
 

Start your Trip!


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What is 'Wave' and How You Can Save Booking Your Next Cruise Now
It couldn’t come at a better time. The thrills of the holidays have passed, and the bills of the gift-giving season are due.
The cold weather, cabin fever, and the doldrums of winter are descending. They’ve even named the 3rd Monday in January ‘Blue Monday’ after studies showed it’s the most depressing day of the year. 

Everyone needs something to look forward to.

Welcome, Wave Season


It’s the catchy name for the cruise travel equivalent to Black Friday. But instead of just a day, it’s a whole season of the best cruise deals of the year. Wave after wave of promotions, offers and perks that make booking your next cruise in the first couple of months of the year irresistible.

It’s not the only time of the year you can get a deal on a cruise. But it is the time of the year when cruise lines compete to outdo each other, and if you’re willing to do some legwork, and try something new, you can really win.

Navigating Wave


With all the different kinds of discounts, promotions, perks and savings, it’s important to understand their differences, relative values, and especially, to compare deals ‘apple to apple’ to make sure you’re getting the best deals on the best cruise for you. Here are some tips for the most common types of Wave incentives:

Discounts:


  • Fare Savings: discounts are always appealing, but watch for the fine print. Cruises are priced per person, double occupancy, so make sure you know whether the discount is per person or per stateroom (Example $1000 off per person would be $2000 off for the stateroom, but $1000 off per stateroom is $500 savings per person)
 
  • BOGO / 2-for-1 cruise fares: compare with regular fares in comparable cruise lines to make sure this is really as valuable as it suggests.
 
  • 3rd/ 4th passengers OR Kids Sail Free: this is generally code for family savings, and applies most often to mass-market, family-oriented cruise lines. This kind of incentive can suddenly make a family cruise quite cost-effective.
 
  • Reduced deposits: lower deposits to save your space on your cruise don’t change the overall price you’ll pay in the end. But they do give you the time to spread the cost of your cruise out, especially if your cruise is 12, 18 or more months away. That could allow you to book a higher category of stateroom, which will make a difference to your holiday.
 

Bonus Value:


  • Stateroom upgrade: Like airlines, some cruise lines offer bidding for upgrades, but there are no guarantees. Complimentary accommodation upgrades are like a fare discount as you’ll know you’re getting better accommodations than you paid for.
 
  • Pre-cruise overnight hotel stay: we always recommend arriving the day before your cruise, and this makes it easy.
 
  • Onboard Credits, or OBC: even on inclusive luxury cruises, you’ll always end up spending some money on the ship, and OBC’s allow you to treat yourself to shore excursions, spa treatments, top bottles of wine, even some shopping on board.
 

Included:

 
  • Airfare: Usually from major gateways; if you need to fly to get to the closest applicable gateway, there may be discounts on those connectors or you’ll be quoted on the difference.
 
  • Beverage package or specialty restaurant dining package: These perks can really add value to non-inclusive cruises for foodies and people who like a cocktail or two relaxing on vacation.
 
  • Gratuities: The recommended average of about 15$ per day per person in tips during your cruise adds a couple of hundred dollars a week to a couple's vacation - $400 for a family of four's 7-day cruise; included gratuities represents a significant chunk of vacation budget.
 
  • Wi-Fi: With free wi-fi in almost every hotel now when we travel, it’s easy to forget that supplying internet at sea is more complicated - and can be expensive. Tip: there can be restrictions on how many devices you can have connected at once.
 
  • Shore Excursions: Even the most independent traveler sometimes enjoys joining a trip they couldn’t access themselves, or that makes it easy; this inclusion can make it easy for you to take excursions you might not have treated yourself to otherwise.
 
  • Solo Travelers: Singles can also win during Wave, with single supplements waived or reduced.
 

Maximizing ‘Wave’


We recommend approaching Wave with an open mind and adventurous spirit. Wave deals make experimenting more accessible.

If you’ve never tried cruising at all! well, Wave is definitely the time to look into booking a cruise to see what the excitement is all about.

Seasoned cruisers can take advantage of Wave to try something new, too. Have you been wondering what another cruise style is like - maybe an expedition cruise? A small-ship cruise? If you usually take a Caribbean cruise, now’s the time to fulfill your curiosity about cold water cruising, or the Med, or even something really remote and exotic like Tahiti or Antarctica.

Or treating yourself. Wave savings and perks can add up enough that upgrading yourself to a luxury cruise line is practically saving money. Many luxury cruise lines are inclusive, offering certain things (like included tips, open bar, even shore excursions) in their regular fares. Then add their Wave perks, bonuses and savings on top of that. Luxury lines' inclusions, on top of Wave incentives, make luxury lines with inclusions not only the most pampered and carefree way to travel, but also surprisingly budget-friendly.

The bottom line


Some incentives are blanket offers, available on all cruises on a cruise line during a certain period of time. Others are available on select cruises, so flexibility – When can you travel? What are your top 3 cruise destinations? - can pay off.

Your travel advisor is your best partner helping you make the most of the many deals available during Wave.

And in helping match you to your perfect cruise style and cruise line, especially if you’re going to take advantage of Wave promotions to expand your cruise travel horizons to try a new cruise for you.
 

Start your Trip!

 
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Top 7 Things to Do in Pasadena When You're Not Watching the Rose Parade or the Game
All eyes are on this SoCal city every New Year’s Day for two of America’s most iconic annual events.
 
Pasadena, California plays host to the back-to-back morning Rose Parade and afternoon Rose Bowl Game. The game is one of the major bowl games in college football, but the Rose Parade that precedes it is truly one-of-a-kind.
 
The Rose Parade dates back to 1890. Pasadena had become a popular West coast wellness resort town for the East’s elite. Town leaders wanted to show off their blooming rose gardens and orange groves to the East as it remained under winter snow and ice. The parade, featuring the unique spectacle of flower-covered floats as well as equestrian units and marching bands, traded county-fair type ‘tournaments’ like foot races, polo matches and tug-of-war for football at the turn of the century. Amazingly, it’s continued uninterrupted ever since, even during both World Wars.
 
Millions watch on TV world-wide, and hundreds of thousands attend in person. But sports fans, floral admirers, and parade lovers have much more to entertain and intrigue them during a visit to Pasadena at New Year’s or any other time of the year. 

 

Old Pasadena


Dating back to the 1870’s when the town was establishing its credentials as a wellness escape from winters back East, Old Pasadena Historic Area is a US National Historical Landmark. Visitors can stroll through 22 blocks of quaint alleyways or airy European-style piazzas teeming with 200 outdoor cafes, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and specialty shops.


Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens


This ornate, Italian Renaissance-style mansion on Pasadena’s ‘Millionaires’ Row’ was once owned by chewing gum mogul William Wrigley, Jr. It was built in the early 19th century, and Mrs. Wrigley willed the property to serve as the headquarters for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, the non-profit that still produces the Rose Parade today. Displays inside showcase the history of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Games, as well as parade Grand Marshals and Royal Court.
 
Volunteers from the Pacific Rose Society maintain the hundreds of varieties of roses, camelias and other flowers in the gardens in the grounds of Tournament House. The gardens and the house can be toured by the public.
 

Arts & Crafts Hub

Pasadena’s heyday as a magnet for the wealthy building vacation and West Coast homes in the early 20th century made the city a natural incubator for the era’s Arts & Crafts movement. Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene became influential with the houses and their large-scale ‘ultimate bungalows’ that are prime examples of Arts & Crafts style, with all the interior design elements and furnishings designed by the architects as they designed the house itself. 
 
Their Gamble House is called ‘America’s Arts & Crafts masterpiece’ and is also considered one of the finest examples of overall residential architecture in the entire country. Greene and Greene built the house and its furnishings in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble (of Procter and Gamble soap and toothpaste fame). It’s one of the few Greene and Greene projects with the original furnishings remaining and is National Historic Landmark. The City of Pasadena and the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture operate the house today. Two lucky 5th-year architecture students get to live there, and it’s open for public tours and events.

Rose Bowl Flea Market


The huge Rose Bowl Flea Market is held every second Sunday of the month. The legendary market draws 20,000 vintage treasure seekers and bargain shoppers who rub elbows with celebrities and designers looking for one-of-a-kind pieces. 2500 vendors set up rows of specialty products, antiques, local art, vintage clothing and accessories. Merchandise is arranged by type, and there’s a color-coded map to guide you. Entry ticket prices drop the later you enter the market, and you can even purchase pre-opening VIP preview tickets for serious or competitive shoppers/collectors.
 

The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens


The Huntington is located on the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington. The railroad tycoon amassed what was called 'the greatest group of 18th-century British portraits ever assembled by any one man' and it was opened to the public in accordance with his will following his death in 1927.
 
The renovated Huntington Art Gallery offers a space showcasing 1,200 objects of European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, including the18th and 19th British and French masterpieces like the renowned “Pinkie” and Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy.”

Courtesy Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens
 
The newly expanded Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art offers one of the largest presentations in California of American art from the colonial period through the mid-20th century.
 
The Library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible and Ellesmere’s manuscript of Canterbury Tales as well as the photographic archive of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 
The botanical gardens feature 14,000 varieties of plants on more than 150 acres divided into specialized gardens including the Rose Garden, Herb Garden, refurbished Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, Zen Garden, Australian Garden and Children’s Garden. In the Chinese Garden, visitors can stroll around the 1.5-acre lake bordered by Tai Hu rocks and enjoy landscape that includes five hand-carved stone bridges, a stream, and a canyon waterfall connecting to the Japanese Garden.

 

Norton Simon Museum


This extraordinary museum features seven centuries of European art and one of America’s largest collections of Asian sculpture that spans 2,000 years. The museum is home to an extensive Impressionist collection, which features masterpieces by Degas, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet and Pissaro. The museum also features works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Cézanne and more.

The Great Outdoors


Pasadena is an outdoor wonderland, and you can explore trails and parks to connect with nature. Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a 190-acre zoological, botanical and geological nature preserve with picnic areas, native plants and hiking trails. Be sure to take the kids to Junior Nature Trail, less than a quarter mile, which is scenic with a pond, California sagebrush and animals like birds and rabbits.
 
Visitors who like more dramatic views head to Mount Wilson Observatory, a 5,700-foot astronomical observatory residing in the San Gabriel Mountains. Visitors roam the beautiful grounds, dazzled by a simple – yet powerful – scene of endless, clear blue sky. Warning: sunsets are addictive.

Start your Trip!


Photos courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Europe's Capital of Music Celebrates the 250th Anniversary of This Musical Genius
You may only listen to classical music once in a while, but we’ll bet this composer’s name rings a bell.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany, but spent his professional career and passed away in the music capital of Europe. 2020 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the composer, who in spite of becoming ill and deaf, was considered one of the greatest musical talents of all time. And Vienna is celebrating his life and works.

The Austrian capital was the epi-center of musical creativity throughout most of the era that gave us classical music’s greatest moments. Most of Beethoven’s groundbreaking premieres took place in Vienna’s iconic venues. Many of them remain today (like Vienna's State Opera House above © WienTourismus/ Christian Stemper), and Vienna continues to set the stage of the world’s rich classical music scene. Every night in the city, around 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music at the great music institutions that debuted Beethoven’s greatest works.

In the year that marks 250 years since Beethoven's birth, Vienna celebrates the artist and his long-lasting legacy of classical music with the slogan Beethoven Belongs to Everyone.

© Schaub-Walzer / PID

 

Digital Beethoven

 
The Vienna Tourist Board has developed a voice application for the Amazon and Google voice assistants for the 2020 Year of Beethoven. Users discover an interactive audiobook on the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven. Recordings of all Nine of his Symphonies performed by the Wiener Symphoniker provide the soundtrack.
 
The Vienna Tourist Board and the Austrian National Tourist Board also worked together to develop a smart audio guide integrated into a pair of special sunglasses. Ludwig van Beethoven takes wearers on an acoustic tour of Vienna and New York with the help of Bose frames featuring integrated loudspeakers and the new #RelatedToAustria app. In Vienna, visitors can borrow the glasses for free from the Tourist information office on Albertinaplatz.
 

Beethoven Live in Vienna

 
In the 2020 Beethoven year more than ever, Vienna’s orchestras and music institutions celebrate the genius composer with a full calendar of performances.
 
The Vienna Philharmonic holds a Beethoven cycle at the Vienna State Opera’s Gustav Mahler Hall. The series of ten chamber music evenings runs until mid-June 2020, presenting all of the master’s vocal works.
 
The Wiener Symphoniker plays many of the Beethoven performances at the Wiener Konzerthaus: the packed program for 2020 is bookended by his Ninth Symphony on New Year’s Day and a final rendition of “the Ninth” on New Year’s Eve, and includes an open-air event with public viewing areas in the Beethoven cities of Bonn (his birthplace) and Vienna.
 
The Theater an der Wien, where Beethoven was engaged and lived for a time, will be the venue for a production of Fidelio, taking Beethoven’s operatic work back to the place where it was first performed.
 
In 2020 the Musikverein will be celebrating Beethoven as well, along with the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and the Wiener Akademie orchestra – in which all the performers play original instruments, recording all of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concerts for posterity. You can research live performances during your visit to Vienna, as well as anniversary recordings, here:
 
 

Beethoven in Art


Don't miss exhibits, projects and installations featuring a Beethoven theme at Vienna’s museums and art galleries in 2020:

  • Beethoven moves, Mar 25-Jul 5, 2020, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, www.khm.at
  • Inspiration Beethoven. A Symphony in Pictures from Vienna 1900. May 30, Sep 21, 2020, Leopold Museum, MuseumsQuartier Vienna, www.leopoldmuseum.org
  • Beethoven. World of the Man and Spark of the Gods, Dec 19, 2019-Apr 19, 2020, National Library, State Hall, Austrian National Library, www.onb.ac.at
  • The Great Triad of Viennese Classical Music: Haydn - Mozart - Beethoven. Similarities - Parallels - Opposites, Feb 13, 2020-Jan 27, 2021, Mozarthaus Vienna, www.mozarthausvienna.at
  • House of Music. The Museum of Sound, www.hdm.at
  • Beethoven Museum, www.wienmuseum.at
  • Pasqualati House, www.wienmuseum.at
  • Secession, www.secession.at
  • Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, Hofburg, Neue Burg, www.khm.at
 
 
© John Baldessari; Courtesy of the artist, Sprüth Magers and Beyer Projects
 

Beethoven in Photos


Ludwig van Beethoven moved to Vienna to advance his career in the Music Capital with the renowned Haydn when he was only 22, and lived out his life there. So there are many monuments to the famous composer in Vienna. You’ll want to post images of all things Beethoven during your visit, including these famous Beethoven locations.

Beethoven Memorial in Beethoven Park Beethovenplatz, 1030 Vienna
Unveiled in 1880, this monument was paid for in part by one of Beethoven’s high-profile colleagues from the world of music. A committed Beethoven fan, Franz Liszt used the proceeds from his last public concert on March 16, 1877 (marking the 50th anniversary of Beethoven’s death) to complete the memorial.

Beethoven Museum - Probusgasse 6, 1190 Vienna, www.wienmuseum.at
In Beethoven’s day, Heiligenstadt was a popular spa destination beyond the old city walls, although today it’s part of the city. He retreated here as therapy for his ailments. The Beethoven Museum opened in one of his former residences.
 
Pasqualati House Mölker Bastei 8, 1010 Vienna, www.wienmuseum.at
Baron von Pasqualati provided cheap lodgings for his friend Beethoven to use, which the composer returned to on multiple occasions.

Theater an der Wien - Linke Wienzeile 6, 1060 Vienna, www.theater-wien.at
This theater was an important venue for concerts of all descriptions. Several of Beethoven’s works made their debuts here, including his violin concerto and Fidelio – his only opera.

Beethoven’s grave - Central Cemetery, Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 234, 1110 Vienna
Beethoven lies in rest in a grave of honor next to Franz Schubert’s final resting place, with a memorial to Mozart – who was buried elsewhere – installed between them.

© Schaub-Walzer / PID
 


Include Austria's magnificent capital on a tour of the country's many charms, or visit Vienna during a port of call on a Danube river cruise.


Start your Trip!


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






It may be the most idyllic island escape you can reach without a passport – for US citizens, that is.

The US Virgin Islands are a piece of American apple pie in the heavenly seas of the Caribbean, and the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas is the most luxurious retreat in the USVI.

It was the first Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Caribbean, and since it opened in the 90’s, it’s won praise and inspired generations of devoted travelers in love with the US Virgin Islands – and Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts.

The beach resort debuted in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn’s damage to St. Thomas in the 90’s, and today, 2 years after more hurricanes devastated the region, it has undergone a 100-million dollar renovation and opened its doors once again.

You need to see it for yourself, but BestTrip can share with you the video we produced when we visited shortly after the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas re-opened.

As you’ll see in the video, the resort on the island’s epic Great Bay has restored its position at the pinnacle of luxury hotels in the US Virgin Islands.

Set against the impossible azure waters, crescent-moon beach and emerald palms and vegetation of Great Bay, traditional island architecture meets completely contemporary beach resort design on a breathtaking scale. Rooms are
Delicate hues of colonial tropical green, and compelling marine-blues and high-concept design indoors and outdoors. New restaurants, lounge space, an infinity pool you can’t tear your gaze away from, even a luxury private catamaran for private events, tours and sunset cruises.

On site tennis, garden tours, snorkel gear to make the most of the coral reef facing the resort’s beach, watersports including windsurfing, paddle boards and kayaks, daily walks, yoga, and water mai chi keep you healthy during your indulgent beach vacation, and daily tastings of local rums, infused with different tropical fruit like mango and passion fruit enhance the locally sourced cuisine served at the restaurants.

Close enough for a weekend escape (especially when there are minimal delays for American citizens in and out this US territory), and available to cruise guests calling in the popular port looking for a luxury day beach resort, spend even one day in the newly re-imagined Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, and you’ll want to book again and again.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip.TV

Start your Trip!


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8 New Ocean Cruise Ships to Add to Your 2020 Travel Bucket List
Have you booked a cruise in 2020? Cruise travel continues its meteoric rise as one of the fastest-growing and most popular ways to travel. No matter your travel style – from luxury, to adventure, to remote exploration or polar escape, to romantic retreat, to tropical or cool climate family vacation – there’s a perfect cruise match out there for you.
 
New, innovative cruise ships this year, some even the first of their kind, make booking your next (or first!) cruise even more irresistible. Here are some of the new ships you’ll want to be the first to try.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV producer/host and cruise expert

 


Regent Seven Seas Splendor

 
Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer has been called the most luxurious ship ever built – and now, its sister ship may top those high praises! Launching in February 2020, the Splendor is the second ship in Regent’s ‘Explore Class’ of ships. And like the Explorer, the Splendor’s luxury is expressed in lavish style.
 
Regent calls the 750-guest, all-suite, all-balcony ship a ‘work of art’, in both public and private spaces, with more than an acre in total of Italian marble, 500 crystal chandeliers, a multi-million dollar art collection, and among the largest balconies at sea. The ship’s Observation Lounge strikes a new design chord inspired by an English Garden, with a chandelier made of hand-painted porcelain English flowers.
 
Returning Regent guests will enjoy the new iterations of favorite, included restaurants like Compass Rose, Pacific Rim, Chartreuse and Prime 7. Italian restaurant Sette Mari at La Veranda debuts over-water alcove seating that extends over the ocean and cultivates a connection to the sea (pictured above).
 
A new gourmet Culinary Arts Kitchen and a first-of-its-kind globally inspired spa for Regent featuring treatments and techniques from across cultures also make their debuts on this highly-anticipated Regent ship (also pictured top).

 

Celebrity Apex

 
Celebrity Cruises made a splash when it launched the Edge – a ship easy to spot in any port of the world with its bright orange, first-ever cantilevered venue at sea – the ‘Magic Carpet’ - appearing to cling to the side of the ship as it travels up and down to different floors, operating as a lounge or dining venue or even a tender launch area at sea level. The Edge gets a sister ship in 2020, and the 3000-guest Apex will be equally eye-catching.

In addition to the Edge’s trademark ‘Magic Carpet’ re-appearing on the Apex, other Edge features like ‘Infinite Veranda’ staterooms, nearly 30 dining venues, outdoor plunge pools and a luxurious, exclusive ‘Retreat’ lounge, restaurant and outdoor space for suite guests are also planned for the Apex.
 
This second ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge series is set to launch in early spring from Southampton, England. It joins 5 other Celebrity ships sailing in Europe throughout the summer – making 2020 the cruise line’s most extensive European season to date.

 

Scarlet Lady

 
The cruise and travel world is waiting with baited breath to experience the first ship of a brand new cruise line. Expectations are high, since Virgin Voyages is the latest endeavor of the famously flamboyant, party-CEO Sir Richard Branson, who changed how we look at airline – and even space – travel.
 
The Scarlet Lady debuts in April 2020 in Miami, launching a cruise line that calls itself ‘rebel luxe’ and says it aims to disrupt cruising with cheeky, youthful marketing and experiences. With less than 2800 guests – Virgin Voyages calls them ‘sailors’ – the Scarlet Lady sails on shorter, long-weekend-type itineraries that include a late-night call at the cruise line’s new private beach resort in Bimini, the Bahamas, an Ibiza-style/ music festival inspired experience with DJ’s and bonfires on the beach.
 
On board, over 20 included restaurants, champagne on demand at the push of a button, the first tattoo studio at sea, and tables in suites designed to dance on, support the ‘detox/retox’ lifestyle Branson has made famous.


Silver Origin

 
They’re calling it ‘the most elegant ship ever to sail the Galapagos’. In June 2020, ultra-luxury Silversea launches its first destination-specific ship, one that delivers its signature cruising experience within one of the most awe-inspiring regions of the world. It also marks the most environmentally conscious ship the cruise line has ever built, mindful of the unique and uniquely-sensitive Galapagos islands.
 
Already an expert in small-ship, deluxe expedition cruise travel, Silversea takes its understated Italian, all-inclusive luxury to another level on the Silver Origin with all-suite accommodations with ‘Horizon Balconies’, its signature butler service for all, 2 restaurants including local Ecuadorian cuisine, and state of the art technology as well as the simple, primal warmth and social interaction of a fire pit in the Explorer Lounge at the end of a thrilling day ashore.  
 
Guests on the Silver Origin enjoy deeply experiential exploration of the Galapagos with a team of Ecuadorian national expert guides, an interactive ‘basecamp’, 8 Zodiacs, and seamless transition from the ship to the wonders of the Galapagos Islands.



Crystal Endeavor

 
Crystal Cruises is known for pioneering ultra-luxury cruising. From its two ocean vessels, Crystal expanded its style of luxury travel to river cruising and air cruises, and this year Crystal is expanding again with its first expedition cruise ship. Complete with an aft marina, two helicopters and a submarine, the Crystal Endeavor allows for the ultimate exploration of remote destinations. 
 
Crystal’s newest ship is a polar-class vessel with the highest level of ice hull in passenger ships. So it’s designed to take its 200 guests in supreme luxury to explore any of the seven seas, including Antarctica. Expedition cruises focus on biodiversity, active adventures, natural and cultural heritage and wildlife viewing, with opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, helicopter, sub, and Zodiac tours.
 
All 100 suites have balconies, butler service, and, in a first, king-sized beds. A 2-story solarium, along with expedition-specific touches like heated storage and floors, and designed ‘mud rooms’ and helicopter lounge provide the ultimate comfort even in cold climates. Plus 6 restaurants including Michelin-inspired dining by Master Chef Nobu’s Japanese fusion restaurants.

 


Enchanted Princess

 
June 2020 sees the launch of Princess Cruises’ 5th Royal-class ship. Just in time for a summer in the Mediterranean, followed by winters in the Caribbean, Princess’ latest ship hosts nearly 3600 passengers with all of the cruise line’s latest innovations and amenities, including all of its ‘Medallion’ wearable digital device conveniences as well as the multi-story atrium Piazza, glass ‘SeaWalk’ and 80% balcony staterooms.
 
The Enchanted Princess also boasts some unique features, including a new suite category called Sky Suites with Princess’ largest private balconies, located at the top of the ship and giving their guests a view of the ship’s ‘Movies Under the Stars’ from their suites. 
 
In addition, the new ship has a new concept Sanctuary, with more private cabana capacity, and a Wakeview pool at the aft of the ship.


MSC Virtuosa


Late 2020 will see the launch of MSC Cruises’ second Meraviglia-Plus class of ships. The sister to the MSC Grandiosa, 2020’s MSC Virtuosa also features a 2-story, Mediterranean-style promenade where the ship’s 6300 guests can stroll into shops and restaurants or gaze upward at its 300+ feet of digital lightshow above.
 
The cruise line has an exclusive partnership with Cirque du Soleil, who will debut two new original shows on the ship. And guests can manage their cruise with the help of what MSC is calling the ‘world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant’. 
 
With the line’s ‘small luxury ship within a ship’ MSC Yacht Club, and the first contemporary fine art museum at sea, as well as connected family suites, waterpark, indoor amusement park and Formula 1 simulator, guests of all tastes and group sizes can find the space that’s right for their vacation. Upon launching, MSC Virtuosa sails Western Mediterranean itineraries.

 

Odyssey of the Seas

 
Another mega-ship sets sail in 2020. It’s the 27th ship for Royal Caribbean, and the second of its Quantum Ultra-Class ships. Famous for its mega-sized ships, this Royal Caribbean ship is home to just over 4000 passengers.
 
The Odyssey of the Seas is the first of its class to sail from North America, beginning late 2020 from Fort Lauderdale, and summer of 2021 from Rome in the Med.
 
Guests will find similar features to its sister ship Spectrum of the Seas, like a range of dining options, a top deck of activities including ship-sized surfing and skydiving simulators, a bungee trampoline, 40-foot climbing wall and ‘North Star’ ride in a pod extended above and over the side of the ship, a 2-level pool deck, and what Royal Caribbean is calling a ‘re-imagined’ SeaPlex with virtual and augmented reality playspace.
 
Whatever your cruise / travel style, don’t miss the chance to sail on a sparkling new cruise ship this year!
 

Start your Trip!

 
Ship photos courtesy of their respective cruise lines.

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2019's Top Travel Stories
Following this year’s developments in Travel has really kept us moving! Hopefully, you’ve created some of your own new travel memories this year too.
 
These are some of the most tremendous changes that have taken place in the past 12 months that will affect travelers for years to come.
 

What’s Opened

 
It was over two years ago that severe hurricanes swept through some of our favorite Caribbean travel destinations. The hard-hitting storms destroyed buildings and roads, and electricity and water infrastructure, uprooting people’s lives and livelihoods, and sadly even taking lives. Local communities are still recovering.
 
Countless hotels and resorts suffered damage and were forced to close. For communities whose economies rely on tourism, it’s been a very tough time indeed.
 
In the last year, we’ve seen a surge of re-openings. And happily, in some special cases, there’s even been a silver lining, with hotel and resort companies taking the opportunity of hurricane damage to re-imagine resorts in spectacular new style. 
 
More landmark openings include 2 new cruise line private islands in the Caribbean region in 2019, too, with Royal Caribbean’s ‘Perfect Day at Coco Cay’ and MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay Marine Reserve joining the beach resorts where cruise lines extend their signature shipboard experiences to a tropical resort setting.

Plus Singapore's Jewel Changi Airport (pictured, top), with a 7-storey 'Rain Vortex' through an oculus that features in water, sound and light shows, acres of gardens and interactive areas like Forest Valley and Canopy Park, redefining airports globally as lifestyle hubs for locals and visitors as much as transportation stations.
 

What’s Closed

 
Some blame goes to overcrowding, some to Tourists Behaving Badly. A number of iconic travel destinations closed their proverbial doors to visitors this year, or significantly changed how travelers will now be allowed to experience some of the world’s most treasured sites. You’ve likely heard about cities like Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Venice and Barcelona enacting new restrictions. But more remote places like Machu Pichu are feeling the pressure too, and governments are responding to protect historic and natural sites and wildlife.
 
High profile examples in 2019 were Australia’s Uluru and Indonesia’s Komodo Island.
 
You can still watch sunrise or sunset at Australia’s breathtaking red stone monolith, Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock). But as of this past October, no more climbers are allowed to make the steep trek to the flat top. Uluru is sacred ground to the country’s aboriginal peoples. They have been asking for years for visitors to stop walking upon it… but hikers kept coming, some even stealing pieces of rock and posting disrespectful selfies. A ban on hiking the rock has now taken effect. Now, visitors can see and hike Uluru’s park at ground level, and have the opportunity to participate in aboriginal spiritual experiences.  

 
Indonesia’s Komodo island is home to the world’s largest, most pre-historic-looking and eerily meat-eating lizard, the Komodo ‘dragon’. It’s the only place in the world to see them in their natural environment, but theft of dozens of live animals for sale on the black market has jeopardized the stability of their population – and wrecked it for everyone else. Indonesia’s government has banned visits for the foreseeable future.
 
Other closures include the Chinese side of Mount Everest’s Base Camp, due to literally tons of garbage left at the sensitive site, and Maya Bay in Thailand’s Phi Phi islands, made famous by the movie The Beach, that attracted a tidal wave of visitors who have nearly destroyed its delicate marine ecosystem.
 
Expect to see more restrictions as local communities balance sharing their treasures with visitors, and preserving them for generations to come. 
 
A big dose of humble, respectful, and responsible behavior from travelers is needed to continue to have access to the wonders we hope to experience in person.
 

What’s New

 
When it comes to cruising, the hits just keep on coming. As recently as November, another mega-ship, the Norwegian Encore, has joined the fleets sailing all the seven seas. It’s just the latest in a string of jaw-dropping new ships in 2019
 
Two of those new ships may be cruising game changers. 
 
AmaWaterways’ new AmaMagna has upended the river cruise ship format. Its ‘double wide’ design allows for an unprecedented amount of space and amenities unheard of previously in river cruising.
 
Scenic’s Eclipse is not only the first ocean-going vessel for the luxury travel company that made its name in land tours, followed by a fleet of sleek, ultra-luxury river cruise ships with its signature, sophisticated black and gold styling. It was designed to join the small but growing club of luxury expedition cruise ships, coming equipped with 2 helicopters and a submarine to explore all the ocean regions of the earth.
 
A host of new hotels arrived on the global travel scene in 2019 too. Perhaps none made more of an impression than the standout – literally – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida shaped like an actual guitar!


 

What’s Old

 
Can you believe commercial flight has already been here for a century? The 20th century advanced flight at nearly light speed, from the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903, to the inconceivable feat of putting the first man on the moon only decades later in 1969.
 
In 2019, the world was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Landing as well as the 100th anniversaries of the world’s first commercial airlines, KLM and British Airways. And watching closely as a number of companies attempt to make commercial space travel viable.
 
2019 was also the year cities in Latin America started commemorating half a millennia of European settlement. Cities like Havana, Cuba, Panama City, and Veracruz, Mexico marked their 500th anniversaries with bittersweet celebrations that marked not just historic and proud achievements, but also the losses suffered through European colonialism. That balanced perspective will no doubt continue as more and more cities mark this milestone throughout the Americas.

 

What Trends Shaped Travel in 2019

 
You’re going to be hearing more about Multi-Gen (grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and kids) and ‘Skip-Gen’ (grandparents + grandkids) travel. Families traveling together is nothing new. But as distances between generations grow, and more people recognize the value of experiences over things, more generations will commit their precious time and budgets to coming together to experience the world. And travel companies will design more innovative tours, resorts, ships and experiences to cater to everyone in the family.
 
Cruising continues its meteoric rise as the fastest-growing travel style. But one style of cruising especially is taking off. Expedition cruises, to polar and remote regions of the world, and especially luxury expedition cruising, is capturing the travel imaginations of a growing audience of port collectors, adventurous cruisers, and luxury travelers who have already ‘been there’. 
 
Taking care of people and the planet has never been more important, and the travel industry got the message in a much bigger way in 2019, with many travel operators and cruise lines announcing they’re taking small steps like banning single-use plastics, as well as bigger steps like advanced, eco-friendly technologies, as well as socially responsible and locally-sensitive operations that reduce travel’s footprint on the planet and benefit local communities.
 
And taking care of yourself. Active and wellness travel offerings expanded in 2019 as travelers continue to commit to a more healthy lifestyle, show interest in enjoying destinations actively, not just passively from a tour bus, and look to enhance their mental, physical and spiritual well-being while being inspired by the culture and landscapes of the world’s most alluring places.
 
Wishing you a new year of joy in travel!
 
Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip
 
 

Start your Trip!


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The sparkling waters of Puget Sound and the spectacle of the surrounding Olympic and Cascade mountains are the heroic natural features of Seattle, but its Pike Place Market is the city's standout man-made - and still its most popular - attraction that BestTrip TV just had to see during a visit to Seattle. WATCH THE VIDEO TO EXPERIENCE THE PIKE PLACE MARKET YOURSELF.

It wasn't built as a tourist experience. When the market began in 1907 on Seattle's waterfront, it was purely for the purpose of providing area farmers with a place to sell their produce without having to lose their profits to a middleman. The market now lays claim to being the oldest farmer's market in the USA.

And it's developed into much more than a farmer's market. Threatened by development in the mid-20th century, the sprawling market complex of buildings now occupies 7 protected acres of downtown Seattle, filled with booths selling area produce, including the fruit (notably cherries and the state fruit, apples) the region is famous for, as well as the harvest of the Pacific Northwest waters, artisans, and makers of prepared foods as well as restaurants.

Other city markets may have become commercialized tourist attractions that no longer appeal to local shoppers, but Pike Place Market is still where both residents and visitors actually shop and snack and dine - in a series of waterfront buildings overlooking some of the best views in the city.

Culinary tours of the market have become an essential foodie experience in Seattle, and a number of iconic Seattle moments happen here. Like a visit to the first Starbucks in the world. Or the image of the fish mongers of the Pike Place Fish Market tossing giant salmon to each other to package for the customers who have selected the fish to take home (or ship home; a great option for many visitors who want to take the fresh taste of the Pacific Northwest with them, just not on the plane!) Or depositing change into one of the 550-pound bronze piggy banks in the market that annually collect thousands of dollars that support the market's social mission to support the city's vulnerable.

All this, minutes from some of the finest hotels in the North West - as well as one of the busiest cruise ports for travelers sailing along the coast or up to Alaska, making a pre- or post-cruise stay in Seattle a must.

Start your Trip!


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There's now a silver lining follow-up story to the hurricanes in 2017 that took a toll on many islands in the Caribbean, including the tiny island that makes up part of the Commonwealth nation of St. Kitts & Nevis.

For many years, Nevis has been synonymous with its iconic Four Seasons Resort. It put the island on the map for luxury travelers in the know, and pioneered what has become a style of luxury beach resort world wide.

Nestled between majestic - and volcanic - Mount Nevis and the sea, the Four Seasons' low-rise, villa-style resort is a secluded, true-luxury island escape.

Not only has the resort been repaired, it's undergone a stunning transformation - a silver lining in the sad story of hurricane damage. The resort has returned to its position as the essential Nevis experience.

BestTrip enjoyed the stunning new design of the Four Seasons Nevis, and we got to meet the chef in charge of one of the resort's signature experiences: Dive and Dine for Nevis' famous spiny lobsters. The island enjoys a rich lobster fishery, PLUS a one-of-a-kind way of catching the crustacean. Guests dive with the chef for their lobster feast, then relax in a private beach side cabana till dinner time, when the chef returns with a seafood tower, steak... and their lobsters for the grill next to the cabana.

While you're in Nevis:

  • Don't miss the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. The first American Secretary of the Treasury, and central figure of the runaway Broadway hit Hamilton, was born on Nevis. His home is a centuries-old stone building near the edge of the sea in Nevis' tiny, historic Charlestown. It has an exhibit about his life and times on the island, where, it is said, he acquired an early aversion to slavery.

  • Nearby, historic Bath Hotel is the first spa resort in the Western Hemisphere. Built on a geothermal stream (see above: volcano) that was believed to have healing properties, it became a famous retreat for colonial elites, including British navy hero Admiral Lord Nelson.

  • Stroll along Pinney's beach from the Four Seasons to Sunshine's Bar and Grill, where the owner 'Sunshine' and his 'killer' rum punch are known throughout the Caribbean's exclusive yachting community. Private yachts don't miss a chance to anchor in Nevis just to come to Sunshine's for the secret recipe rum punch, laid-back beach bar vibe, and gigantic lobsters always on hand.

Start your Trip!


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New Year, New Adventures on the island of Hawaii
Travelers may initially be inspired to visit the island of Hawaii for its cerulean waters, verdant rainforests and valleys, and striking black sand beaches, but there is so much more to explore! With an abundance of culture and history to share, the island is full of unique experiences and intriguing facts inspiring first-time and returning visitors.  

INTRIGUING FACTS AND HISTORICAL TIDBITS

Tidepools outside of Kailua-Kona

Birthplace of King Kamehameha I

The island of Hawaii is believed to be the first island discovered and settled by Polynesians as far back as the fifth century A.D. The island was the birthplace and home of the Hawaiian Islands’ first monarch, King Kamehameha I, who united all of the islands under his rule in 1810. As initial ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, he named Kailua-Kona the first capital of the Islands. (Honolulu became Hawaii’s capital in 1850.) 

Home to 10 of the World’s 14 Climate Zones

The Hawaiian Islands are home to 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones. Want to know an even cooler fact? The island of Hawaii is the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago where visitors can experience all 10! The largest and youngest island in the Hawaiian chain – just 4,028 square miles in total and first breaching the ocean surface more than 500,000 years ago – the island of Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where visitors can experience climates ranging from humid tropical and arid desert zones to a periglacial zone in a single day. 

Cowboy Country

Horseback riding group near a country pond below Maunakea

Situated in a natural land saddle between two – Kohala and Maunakea – of the island’s five mountains, Waimea is a town of breathtaking scenery and diverse landscapes. The history of the still-bustling ranch town is one of cattle ranches, cattle raising and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys and cowgirls). Spanish-Mexican cowboys (vaqueros) were first brought to the island by Kamehameha III in the 1830s to assist the community in learning how to break in horses for work, as well as rope and corral an overpopulation of cattle. The paniolo born of the vaqueros’ teachings founded the small town’s now deep-rooted paniolo culture. Visitors are invited to explore modern Waimea, its farmers' markets, historic Anna Ranch, and the humbly quaint Paniolo Preservation Society office. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

The all-new luxury lifestyle resort Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection is set to debut in January 2020 on the island of Hawaii following a resort-wide reimagination and renovation. The resort will open with contemporary guest rooms and suites, five private bungalow residences, five restaurants and lounges, three distinct pools, and a signature spa and wellness haven, as well as the property’s Kainalu active-pursuits program, Living Culture program and interactive Holoholo Kids Circle, all complemented by Auberge’s intuitive and gracious service.

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Hiking tour stops by the Pololu Valley Lookout

Destination Residences Hawaii is offering travelers an opportunity to embark on an epicurean adventure only possible on the island of Hawaii. Its Destination Delicacies package allows up to six guests to discover a selection of the island’s delicacies in one day, starting with a private helicopter ride and waterfall landing with a champagne toast. Following the helicopter ride, island tour operator Hawaii Forest & Trail takes guests on a private land tour, which includes stops at Waimea Farmers Market, Honokaa Chocolate Co.’s Kahi Ola Mau Farm, Mauna Kea Tea’s fields, Honopua Farm and dinner at Pueo’s Osteria. 

Couple crossing rope bridge on Kohala hiking tour

You can explore the upper slopes of Kona’s very own backyard volcano Hualalai with Hawaii Forest & Trail. Guests venture up the volcano and access private acreage aboard the tour company’s Hidden Craters Hike, trekking native cloud forests with incredible vista views of the Kailua-Kona Coast, standing on the edge of precipitous volcanic craters, and climbing through a segment of a lava tube. After lunch on the mountain, the tour heads back down to Historic Kailua Village for a tour of Kona’s newest brewery Ola Brew, sampling local beers and ciders made with harvested fruits and produce from local farmers. 

Shopping for flowers at Kapiolani Community College Farmers' Market

The island of Hawaii produces one of the rarest honey varieties in the world: kiawe wood honey, which naturally crystalizes into a creamy white honey with a delicate tropical taste. Fairmont Orchid is home to four beehives populated with more than 80,000 honeybees producing kiawe honey. Guests of the resort can view the beehives on a complimentary Botanical Garden and Bee Tour, every Tuesday from 9:30 -10:30 a.m. The tour includes an in-depth exploration of several tropical plant species, a visit to the beehives and a tour of the chef’s garden, where many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs served at the resort are sourced. 

Various fresh, local produce for sale at a farmer's market table

Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI) is partnering with Jet-Set Offset, an online platform helping raise awareness of the environmental impact of air travel, to offer travelers and businesses the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their commercial air travel while also helping reforest the island of Hawaii. Visitors can donate one cent per mile flown, which is the average estimate of the cost to offset carbon emissions from air travel. Each donation will go toward the purchase of Gold Standard-certified carbon credits for offsetting the carbon footprint of traveler flights while they plant endemic Legacy Trees in Hawaii with HLRI. 

Kainalu Mauka to Makai Sports is Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection’s innovative approach to resort activities. It’s a recreation program guided by world-class athletes where resort guests can learn a new language for adventure and embark on immersive journeys of self-discovery. The Kainalu program is inspired by an awareness of one’s ha(breath), the foundation of life and the key to healthy routines. Activities are progression-based and include mainstream and alternative options suitable for all ages. Among these are a heli-bike tour and a night dive with manta rays. 


You’ve probably heard by now the studies that show how experiences make us happier than things. We get a thrill when we purchase an item, but that thrill fades. After a while, the emotional boost we got from that shopping experience is gone. Hopefully we are left with a purchase that is at least useful and necessary in our lives. But all too often, unnecessary shopping just leads to the planet’s garbage problem.

Experiences, on the other hand, provide an emotional high that never fades. In fact, memories of experiences, especially ones shared with people we love, only increase our happiness over time. 

So instead of spending our budget on things for ourselves, or giving things to the people we love, the experiences of travel may be the very best gift you can give yourself or your loved ones. 

Escaping our day-to-day lives, exploring a new destination, experiencing new sights, scents, sounds and flavors during travel can change our lives… AND give us that perma-boost of happiness.

Traveling together especially creates a lifetime of shared happy memories and stories that can be re-lived and bind us together, and aren’t togetherness, shared laughter, and fond recollections of moments all the things we really want with our families and friends?

Prioritizing acquiring travel and experiences over acquiring more stuff will change your life.

But we’re not suggesting you never shop at all. In fact, you can have you cake and eat it too. Shopping while you’re traveling, and acquiring meaningful mementos of your travels, create those valuable happy memories and delightful objects that trigger those happy memories for the rest of your life.

Souvenirs that reflect local culture and resources and flavors (not junk made in factories abroad that will end up in your local landfill) enhance our journeys to new destinations and the fond memories we cherish.

Local farmers’, artisan’s and Christmas markets, and studio, workshop, winery or distillery visits allow us to discover delightful souvenirs of our journeys and also meet the makers of the arts, crafts, food, wine, and spirits that we will love to share and to remember our journeys, should be essential experiences on every trip.

WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: AMERICA’S OLDEST FARMERS’ MARKET; the perfect shopping escape during your stay in Seattle or pre- or post- your West Coast or Alaskan cruise.

So we wanted to share some of our favorite travel shopping experiences to inspire travel in the season of giving.

Start your Trip!


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Five Ways To Experience The Best of Hawai'i's Art and Culture

The island of Hawai‘i’s vast, diverse and often breathtaking landscape is home to six distinct moku – the Hawaiian word for “districts” – with lots for you to see and experience in each.


ISLAND OF HAWAI’I – Want to truly experience and appreciate the boundless natural wonder and diversity of the island of Hawai‘i’s landscape and its centuries-spanning intertwining with Hawaiian culture? For your next visit, plan a multiday road trip that’ll take you through each of the island’s moku.

Moku is the Hawaiian word for “districts,” and each of the eight main islands of Hawai‘i has them. The island of Hawaii’s 4,028 square miles are comprised of six moku – Hilo, Puna, Ka‘ū, Kona, Kohala and Hāmākua – originally divided from the whole of the mokupuni (island) as districts of rule by Hawaiian chiefs long before European contact. Within each moku were further land divisions called ahupua‘a, which, like most moku, encompassed land areas stretching from mountain summits to nearshore reefs and everything in between them, and contained and replenished nearly all natural resources their residents required for survival. Today, many Hawai‘i residents still informally recognize ancient moku as geographic markers.

The island of Hawai‘i’s six moku are fascinating in their diversity, individually home to everything from towering waterfalls, rugged coastline and places of recent volcanic activity, to emerald valleys, white sand beaches, dense rainforests and places of historical significance to Hawaiian culture. And because we’re now pretty much certain you’re going to road trip through all six, we’ve put together a listing of the places we recommend you check out within each moku.

Enjoy the ride, the scenery and our island’s magnificen† moku!

HILO

Waiānuenue Falls/Wailuku River State Park.
Waiānuenue is Hawaiian for “rainbow (seen in) water,” which are often found surfacing the 80-foot cascade and its expansive, foliage-covered gorge on sunny mornings. Visit the park’s two locations: Waiānuenue Falls and nearby Pe‘epe‘e Falls and Boiling Pots, the latter a series of river pools and waterfalls connected by underground caves whose waters roil turbulently as if boiling. Swimming and water activities are prohibited at both locations due to unsafe conditions.

‘Akaka Falls State Park. Plunging 442 feet from its crest into a deep, emerald gorge, ‘Akaka Falls is a bona fide breath taker. Almost as cool? The way the waterfall cinematically enters your view on a short loop-trail through its luxurious surrounding rainforest. Along the way, further downstream, a viewing platform offers a vista of 300-foot Kahūnā Falls; less impressive than the park’s main plunge, but still quite lovely.

Lili‘uokalani Park and Gardens. We still can’t decide on the biggest scene-stealer here. A century-old Edo-style Japanese public garden graced with ponds, walking bridges, pagoda, torii gates, a teahouse and lots of space for picnicking, on land given to its creation by Hawai‘i queen Lili‘uokalani. Or a commanding view of Hilo town’s pretty crescent bayfront and 13,803-foot Maunakea volcano from sea level to summit.

PUNA 

Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. The only (and we mean ONLY) natural occurring tropical rainforest zoo in the U.S. is home to more than 80 animal species from the world’s tropics and several endemic Hawai‘i fauna, including the ‘io (Hawaiian hawk), nēnē (Hawaiian goose and state bird) and pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl). Bonus: Anyone still at the 12-acre zoo at 3:30 p.m. (a half-hour before closing time) is welcome to watch as staffers feed resident tigers Tzatziki (a white Bengal) and Sriracha (an orange Bengal) their daily dinner of whole raw chickens. Entry is free, but donations are welcome.

Pohoiki Black Sand Beach and Isaac Hale Beach Park. The island’s newest black sand beach at Pohoiki is a creation of nature born of nature’s destruction.
Specifically, the lava flows spawned by Kīlauea volcano’s three-month summer 2018 lower Puna eruption, which buried a large swath of the Puna shoreline. Though the flow eventually stopped several hundred feet short of entering Pohoiki Bay, the violent force of molten lava meeting raging sea created a superabundance of lava rock granules that eventually filled the bay, leaving behind a large black sand beach. Though ideal for walking and sinking toes in its indigo sand, Pohoiki Beach is unsafe for swimming.

KA‘Ū

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. It’s not every day one gets to thoroughly explore a 333,000-plus acre showcase of six global climate zones, contrasting environments and landscapes, the geological forces that continually shape and grow our planet, and the deep connection between Hawaiian culture and the natural environment. But each of the above is what this astounding park offers visitors every single day, whether main attraction Kīlauea volcano is showing off with an eruption or temporarily slumbering. Plan to visit the park’s Kahuku Unit, too, for ranger-led and self-guided exploration of massive Maunaloa volcano’s 1868 lava flow, post- and pre-lava flow native forests, historic pasturelands and the history of people on its landscapes.

Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. South of the national park, explore this picturesque coconut palm bordered beach, whose indigo sands – much-loved by Hawaiian green sea turtles for beaching and sunning, and Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtles for egg-laying – are, like Pohoiki Beach in Puna, actually fine, sea-worn granules of hardened Kīlauea volcano lava. Punalu‘u isn’t safe for swimming, but is a great spot for picnicking or sinking your toes in black sand.

KONA

Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
Its name means “place of refuge at Hōnaunau,” which was its purpose prior to the 1819 abolishment of the kapu system of Hawaiian sacred laws. Persons fleeing death or harm were given full protection at this oceanfront sanctuary and free to leave after being absolved by its priests. Today, the park preserves the sanctuary, fishponds, royal palm grove and other cultural sites.

Hulihe‘e Palace. Its structure built with lava rock in 1838, Hulihe‘e sits on oceanfront acreage once resided by Kamehameha the Great. Through the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1893, the palace was home to more royalty than any Hawai‘i residence. Managed and preserved by the nonprofit Daughters of Hawai‘i since 1927, it is now a museum displaying royal artifacts from the era of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi‘olani, including koa wood furniture, feather works, portraits and Hawaiian quilts.

KOHALA

Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site.
Kamehameha the Great commenced the 1790 construction of this massive stone heiau (temple), one of the last major pre-contact sacred structures built in Hawai‘i. Consider the following when you finally lay eyes on Pu‘ukoholā: It’s believed laborers formed a 20- mile human chain across neighboring 5,480-foot Kohala volcano to transport the heiau’s water-worn stones to the site where, without mortar, its foundation and 16- to 20-foot walls were completed in just a year.

Pololū Valley Lookout and Trail. This is a gem of a valley for hikers. The northernmost valley on the island cutting into the soaring northeast sea cliffs of extinct Kohala volcano, Pololū is explorable via a half-mile foot trail descending from the valley overlook to its rock-strewn black sand beach (sorry, no swimming) and views its lush interior. Not a hiker? Pololū’s end-of-road overlook offers stunning views of the coast.

Puakō Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve. A hike on the trails cutting through this sun-pelted 223-acre lava rock field are said to reveal just a third of the preserve’s more than 3,000 ki‘i pōhaku (Hawaiian for “images in stone”). The true meaning of the rock carvings – some dating as far back as 1200 A.D. – are largely unknown, but thought to be records of early Hawaiian spiritual and everyday life, and big life events, such as births.






Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area. Picture this, beach fanatics: A half-mile stretch of some of the finest, most golden sand on the island, the right amount and heights of wave action to get bodyboarders and bodysurfers downright giddy, and lots of sandy acreage to cop a nap, soak up sun, finish a book or build a massive sand fort. Catch our drift yet? Hāpuna Beach is big. The snorkeling and swimming here is aces, too. Side note, though: Be sure to put on reef-safe sunscreen before hitting the beach. Reason one, the Kohala Coast is extremely sunny. Reason two, reef-safe sunscreen isn’t toxic to our precious coral reefs and will be the only type of sunscreen sold in Hawai‘i come 2021.

HĀMĀKUA

Waipi‘o Valley Lookout. Full disclosure: You won’t see the entirety of the island of Hawai‘i’s largest valley – six-miles deep, with a mile-long black sand beach, towering north and south walls, and taro farm and wetland floor – from this lookout. But the view from more than 2,000 feet up is still as crazy breathtaking as Hawai‘i vistas get. Interiors of Waipi‘o – boyhood home of Kamehameha the Great – can be seen on guided tours.

Kalōpā Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area. The reward to the senses here is 100 acres of dense, green and damp Hāmākua Coast upland native rainforest accessible by an easygoing .75-mile nature trail or a picnic area the forest surrounds on all sides. More on that nature trail, though. Typically cool and chilly – you’re at the 2,000-foot elevation of Maunakea volcano, after all – it negotiates old-growth ‘ōhi‘a trees, ferns, flowering flora, diversely fragrant forest air and a forest bird soundtrack. Ahhh. One quick request before you trek any Hawaii native forest: Thoroughly clean your shoes and gear of all outside soil and debris before entering so as not to contaminate the forest with non-native plant material that can quickly spread and kill native flora. 


People visit Montreal for its culture as a city of nearly non-stop festivals, for its style and French lifestyle in North America, and for the culinary scene that put it on the world map long before many other cities celebrated their locally-grown talent and flavors.

One of the best ways to connect with Montreal as a fashion capital, as an historic North American commercial center and as an artistic, creative and eco-innovative leader, is to go to one of Montreal’s most unique designers, Harricana.
BestTrip discovered this Maker who brings together Montreal and Quebec’s heritage as the center of the 17th and 18th century fur trade, one of the coldest major cities in the world in the winter, and as the fashion capital of Canada with her imaginative, ‘eco-luxe’ collections of items made from recycled furs.

Harricana’s designer Mariouche Gagne recognized that many Quebecers had parents’ and grandparents’ fur coats in storage, needed by previous generations for warmth in Montreal’s famous winter climate, but now languishing unused in an era of new fashion sensibilities, and better heating in cars, homes, and public places, as well as a concern about the ethics of fur.

Her design line answers all of those needs.

She shared the story of her ‘aha’ moment of vision, when she had to submit a design and was inspired to turn her mother’s old fur coat into an award-winning ski suit design.

That vision, of upcycling furs that are lying unused, into high-design, eco-responsible and, in her words, ‘eco-luxe’ fashions, accessories, home design and even jewelry, became Harricana.

Not only did she develop an exciting model of exchanging unused vintage furs – which last for generations – into modern, wearable and useful items that honor the origins of the furs, Mariouche has become in demand by the high-concept design scene around the world, including France, Italy and Asia.

Visitors to Montreal can visit Harricana and bring home one of the most authentic souvenirs of French Canada. You can even join an upcycled vintage fur pom-pom making workshop to get an appreciation for fur as Nature’s first textile, and of the skills and talents needed to craft beautiful and useful items from re-purposed fur.

Start your Trip!


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That’s before its first ship has even launched. 

Virgin Voyages is like all of Sir Richard Branson’s new endeavors: it’s all about making waves. Everyone is talking about Branson’s new take on what it means to cruise and the young-at-heart, hip, and stylish new cruise crowd Virgin Voyages will appeal to.

WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: How Does Sir Richard Branson Do Cruising?

The company’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady, is scheduled to debut in the spring of 2020, sailing fewer than 3000 ‘sailors’/guests from her home port in Miami year round in the Caribbean, including calls at Virgin Voyages’ private island beach resort in the Bahamas.

And before the Scarlet Lady even sets sail, her sister ship has been announced. 


When the Valiant Lady launches in 2021, the ships will share a sleek, modern, yacht-like aesthetic and Virgin’s signature ‘ rebel luxe, Adult-by-Design, lifestyle that feels like a music festival at sea. 

It’s a detox/retox atmosphere that balances health and wellness options like juice bars and sunrise yoga with indulgence in more than twenty dining spaces (all restaurants, no buffets!) champagne at the push of a button on the app, and entertainment that reflects Virgin’s roots in the leading edge of the music industry.

Itineraries to Ibiza and Beyond


But instead of the Caribbean, the Valiant Lady charts a different course. From a homeport of Barcelona, the Valiant Lady will sail week-long voyages in the Mediterranean, calling in ports in some of the region’s hottest destinations from France to Italy to Spain, to savor the world’s best beach clubs, cultural experiences, restorative spas, yacht clubs and nightlife.

Instead of the Ibiza-inspired private island beach resort in the Bahamas, every Virgin Voyages sailing on the Valiant Lady in the Med will have Fridays overnight in thrilling, trend-setting party scene Ibiza itself. Whether it’s a blessed-out beach club, a bohemian market, a serene spa, watching the stunning sunsets, or a late night out, there is no place in the world like Ibiza, and it’s a highlight of the Virgin experience in the Mediterranean.

In addition to Ibiza, the upcoming Valiant Lady’s 3 itineraries feature late night stays in other ports so ‘Sailors’ can make the most of the evening attractions in these destinations:
 
  • The exotic delights of Barcelona, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Marseille and Olbia
  • A fantastic sampling of the Med featuring Barcelona, Ibiza, Toulon, Ajaccio, Marina di Carrara and Cagliari
  • Spanish immersion, stopping by Barcelona, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and the British port of Gibraltar at Spain’s southern tip. 

 

Sunday Sail-Aways from the Heart of Barcelona

 
When Valiant Lady launches in 2021, the ship will dock just steps from Las Ramblas in central Barcelona. This prime location, usually reserved by luxury liners and mega-yachts, permits walking access to the dynamic and diverse neighborhoods of Spain’s most popular port town, including the famed urban beach of La Barceloneta. The weekly Sunday sail away was strategically designed to give you maximum flight options and the opportunity to enjoy at least an extra full day pre-cruise in Barcelona.
 
The Valiant Lady is the latest, but not the last, new ship for Virgin Voyages. The Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady are just the first two of four ships the budding cruise line has on order, proving Sir Richard Branson’s latest lifestyle/ travel brand is determined to make a big splash into the cruise scene.
 

Start your Trip!



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3 Perfect Outdoor Activities for your Next Vacation in the Dominican Republic
The Caribbean’s second-biggest country (behind only Cuba) may also be its most diverse. The Dominican Republic’s beaches are the headliners, but centuries of history, magnificent mountain ranges, vivid riverways and national parks, one-of-a-kind culture, cuisine and local products, all combine to provide a tropical island destination that goes well beyond the sunny coasts.

You can do more than defrost on the island’s famous beaches this winter. 
 
On your next trip to the eastern half of the Caribbean’s second-largest island, get off your lounge chair and get involved in the Dominican Republic’s most famous sporting activities.
 

Golf like the Greats

 
It’s the most celebrated golfing destination in the Caribbean. Voted “Golf Destination of the Year for Latin America and the Caribbean” in 2019 for the fourth time by the Global Golf Tourism Organization, the Dominican Republic’s courses are legend.
 
Avid golfers can book tee times at lush seaside and inland greens designed by the most acclaimed golf course architects, including Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Price, and Greg Norman. 
 
From La Romana to Punta Cana, Juan Dolio, and Puerto Plata, the country boasts 86 sea-facing holes and 39 ocean-side, where the course design and ocean breezes provide challenge as well as the breathtaking views.
 
Golf pros regularly flock to the country for working holidays and tournaments including the Dominican Republic PGA Tour.   You can get a taste of that high-flying golf lifestyle at any of the DR’s dozens of top-tier golf courses. 
 

Gone Fishin’ in the Caribbean

 
Dominican Republic is a fisherman’s paradise. Surrounded on three sides by rich waters, the island’s local fishermen have a long history of bringing home the day’s catch. You can do that, too.


Whether you’re looking for a laid-back fishing getaway or a high-energy, man v fish challenge on the high seas, you can give your fishing tackle a workout in the Dominican Republic.
 
Visit one of the local sports fishing centers or work with an expert guide who can bring you to the shore’s most abundant waters, where you’ll be certain to reel in a brag-worthy catch.
 
Push your Dominican Republic holiday into May, and you can join other anglers for the Torneo de Pesca fishing tournament. The high profile annual event showcases Bayahibe’s best catches and its unique and colorful fishing atmosphere.
 
Further east along the southern coast, the Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic Tournament in La Romana in April brings visitors to one of the country’s hottest spots for the majestic blue marlin.
 
The pleasure you’ll get from this exciting fishing event is enhanced by the stunning surroundings. Casa de Campo was designed by an Italian architect, and mimics the old seaside villages of the Mediterranean. The Casa de Campo Marina is one of the region’s most prestigious, and accommodates up to 350 yachts.  You’ll want to do some interesting people watching after you return with your day’s catch.
 
 

Dominican Republic’s National Pastime

 
Baseball may be America’s game, but it has deep roots in Dominican culture and history.

Known lovingly as “pelota” in Dominican Republic, is the country’s undisputed favorite sport, the game you’ll see played in every tiny neighborhood park, and the source of dreams for countless young players. The Dominican Republic punches above its weight in producing international baseball stars.
 
Many of the world’s most legendary players hail from the country, including Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, Robinson Canó, José Reyes, Juan Marichal and Bartolo Colón, among many others.
 
There aren’t many opportunities for visitors to the country to play, but lots to enjoy baseball from the stands. Attending a “juego de pelota” is more than just watching a game—it’s also a ticket to a live party, and an opportunity to share with locals a celebration of one of the country’s greatest passions.
 
The Dominican Republic’s baseball season runs from mid-October through late January. Game schedules can be found at the Dominican Baseball League’s official website. Six teams compete at stadiums around the country, and for baseball lovers, the experience is not to be missed.
 
Whether your picture-perfect getaway involves the challenge of an oceanside golf course, a day at the baseball field or an open water adventure in pursuit of your next great catch, Dominican Republic delivers memories that last a lifetime – as well as the opportunity to recharge and refresh pool- and beachside.
 

Start your Trip!


Photos: Dominican Republic Tourism

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The Ultimate Travel Experience for Your Favorite Star Wars Fan
The Force is Strong with This Plane. Just in time for the debut of the movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, United Airlines has unveiled an opportunity for fans young and young at heart to fly the friendly galaxy.

It has re-imagined one of its planes in epic Star Wars mode, from the eye-catching livery on the outside, to the experience on board.


The plane is flying across the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America. But you’ll think you’re in a galaxy far, far away when you see this plane on the tarmac. The exterior paint design captures the Star Wars atmosphere with imagery of spacecraft including X-wing and TIE fighter starships against a black, space-like background. 


The two sides of the aircraft reflect the two opposing sides of the Force...


even down to the dramatic tail art: a different colored lightsaber lit against the darkness and ready for the hand of its invisible Jedi to wield.



Remember what they said about the Millennium Falcon? Well, no one will call this state of the art, unforgettable aircraft a ‘hunk of junk’!


Just as unforgettable for Star Wars and movie fans is the on the ground and on board experience.

 
You might find yourself running a gauntlet of Stormtroopers en route to your flight.

Or needing some extra time for some photos....


Even pilots are getting some selfies!


Once you’re on board, pick your seat carefully: good or evil? The interior is divided, like the exterior livery, between both sides of the Force, with headrests displaying emblems of the dueling sides: the Resistance and the First Order. 
Classic Star Wars-themed music plays during boarding, and even amenity kits are themed for this final film in the Skywalker saga.  


About Safety, This Is (said in your best Yoda voice). Your in-flight safety video (click here to see it for yourself) features appearances by iconic Star Wars characters, space sequences, footage of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker movie experiences around the world, and some of the most recognizable music in movie history to highlight safety procedures in case of an emergency while you’re flying far, far away. 

The airline’s loyalty club members can even bid their award miles on some additional Star Wars experiences and perks, including access to premieres of the film in LA and London, as well as exclusive screenings in United hub cities before the movie has its theatrical release, travel packages to filming locations, and packages with one-of-a-kind themed collectors’ items.

You can ask your travel agent to book you on your next flight by looking up the plane’s tail number, N36272.
 
And while not everyone will have the chance to see United’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker plane in person, you can track the aircraft via a special icon on online flight tracking platform FlightAware (below image).


For the first time, film becomes aviation reality as flight and Star Wars enthusiasts can track past and future flights by entering the plane's tail number, and the new livery will appear on FlightAware's flight tracking maps as the X-Wing starship.
 

Start your Trip!


Images courtesy United Airlines unless otherwise noted.

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A Dozen Reasons to Visit India During Diwali
India’s biggest and most important annual holiday is also one of the best times to visit the country.  

Ancient civilizations the world over celebrate lunar cycles, the harvest, and the power of light. India’s version of this universal theme is Diwali, and the festival brings centuries of rich tradition alive.

Every year over five days in October or November, communities and families around the entire country – and millions of Indians around the world - celebrate.

Here are 12 reasons why you’ll want to travel to India during Diwali celebrations.

1. Meaning


A Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’ is composed of the words for lamps (deepa or diva) and row (avali). Today Diwali is India’s festival of lights for the row of clay lamps celebrants traditionally lit outside homes to symbolize light triumphing over darkness, reflecting a practice that has been documented as far back as the 7th century.

2. Timing

It’s easy to understand a harvest festival celebrating the light that nurtured the crops that ensured survival of the community. Diwali follows the lunar calendar, and takes place during autumn’s new moon – the darkest night - in October or November. In agrarian India, it was natural to pray for the blessing of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, during the last harvest before winter.

Legends grew up around Diwali, including the marriage of Lakshmi to Lord Krishna. And Diwali began to be associated not just with light, but with new beginnings.

3. Diwali Day 1: Purifying and Shopping


The first day of Diwali features two tasks: thorough cleaning of homes and businesses, a symbol of purification and renewal; and shopping for kitchen tools, and precious metals, especially gold.
 

4. Diwali Day 2: Decorating 

 
Now that homes and businesses are purified and cleansed, comes decorating. People set out clay oil lamps (or modern versions), and make special designs using colored powders, rice, even flower petals on floors and pavements. Oil, flowers, and sandalwood are included in rituals carried out on the second day of Diwali.
 

5. Diwali Day 3: Prayers and Fireworks

 
Diwali peaks on the third day, when families gather to pray to the goddess Lakshmi, as well as Ganesh (with an elephant head), the god of wisdom, and the lord of wealth, Kuber. Music, feasting, and fireworks follow the prayers on the third day of Diwali.

 

6. Diwali Day 4: New Year and Love between Spouses

 
This day marks the first day of the new year, even for businesses throughout India, who mark the fourth day of Diwali as the first day of the next fiscal year.
 
It’s also a day for love. Family and friends visit with gifts and best wishes, and husbands present their wives with gifts.
 

7. Diwali Day 5: Brotherly Love

 
The final day of Diwali extends the themes of festivities, food and gifts – this time between siblings, celebrating the bonds between brothers and sisters also with prayer.
 

8. Celebrating


Themes of Diwali’s celebrations run through the days leading up to the 5-day festival: light in many forms, including traditional clay lamps and also candles lining the sacred Ganges and other lakes and rivers, fireworks, electric lights illuminating temples and historic buildings, and bonfires; celebrating Lakshmi, goddess of wealth through prayer, gold, shopping, new clothes and jewelry; colorful patterns on the floor, henna designs painted on hands, especially of lotus flowers, which Lakshmi is often depicted sitting on or holding; cleaning, purifying, gift giving and feasting.

9. Eating


With one of the richest culinary traditions in the world, India celebrates its biggest festival of the year with an extravagant array of cuisine, both sweet and savory, in an incredible range of colors and visual presentations. Sweets in particular are given to family and friends.


10. Shopping and Spending


Diwali is the festival celebrating Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, so it’s considered an auspicious time for spending and investing. It’s the biggest shopping event on India’s calendar, with spending nearing $4billion during the festival on clothing, gifts, and especially gold and gold jewelry.  The precious metal is believed to attract more wealth to its bearer.

11. Including Multiple Faiths


Diwali may be a Hindu festival, but like India, the festival is a big tent that has expanded to become a national celebration including the entire country’s Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, who mark Diwali by celebrating not Lakshmi, but deities of their own faiths.  A common theme runs through all the celebrations regardless of faith: the triumph of light over darkness.

12. Joining in the Celebrations

 
You can do more than observe Diwali when you’re visiting India. Wish people an ‘Auspicious Diwali’ with the words ‘Shubh Deepavali’. Or dress up for the occasion; ladies can add some sparkling gold jewelry or even don a salwar kameez to feel part of the festivities.

 

Start your Trip!


Images: Getty

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Tips for Drinking in Japan
Just as water is served automatically at a restaurant table in the West, green tea appears magically on every restaurant table in Japan. But what about a more… spirited beverage? Japan’s consumption of alcohol is legendary, and involves its own beverages and etiquette.

Here’s what you need to know before you order.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Sipper-in-Chief, BestTrip TV

Japan has embraced both beer and whisky from the West, and proceeded to develop excellent and well-know brands of both.

But for more local flavor, the two main contenders for an evening’s entertainment in one of the countless bars and restaurants and karaoke lounges throughout Japan you should consider are: sake (sah-kay) and shochu (show-choo). 

Shochu


Shochu originated in Japan at least 500 years ago, and may be even more ‘Japanese’ than sake, even though sake is better known in the West. In fact, while the West sees sake as the essential Japanese spirit, in Japan itself, far more shochu is consumed than sake.

Shochu is sometimes confused with Korean soju, and there are some similarities. They are both distilled beverages made from rice, or sweet potato. Japanese shochu can also be made from barley. Each has its own quite different taste.

If you drink it neat/ straight up or on the rocks, shochu is a stronger drink than sake, averaging 25-30% alcohol.
However, it’s often mixed with cold or hot water, or fruit juice/flavored water, and as a mixed drink, its strength drops substantially.

Sake


Sake is made exclusively from rice, with roots in Japanese tradition dating back to at least the 700’s, and possibly in its earliest forms close to 2000 years ago.

Where shochu is distilled, sake is fermented. You sometimes hear it called ‘rice wine’, but that’s not a good description. In fact, sake is more similar to beer than wine, as it’s made with grain, and brewed and fermented with yeast. Unlike beer, sake then goes through a second fermentation with a certain type of mold.

The results can range from sweet to dry, from clear to cloudy, and are weaker than sochu, with only about 15% alcohol. Although sometimes in the West, cocktails are made with sake, in Japan, it’s almost exclusively consumed on its own.

There’s nothing to warm you up on a chilly winter’s day on one of Japan’s ski hills, like hot sake, served in tiny cups with no handles that warm your hands up in no time.

I’m a big fan of warm sake, but it’s also served at room temperature and also chilled. Right now in the West, the trend-setters and tastings focus on cold sake. It is true that heating can kill subtle flavors, so it’s reserved for less refined varieties. If you are really intent on discovering the differences between different types of sake, room temp is the way to go.
 

Japanese Drinking Etiquette


Never pour your own drink. Your host/ friend/ colleague/ fellow drinker at a communal table will pour your glass for you. You should hold your glass lightly with both hands while your friend pours. 

Similarly, do pour drinks for your friends. 

Here’s where it can get tricky. Alcohol is served in small glasses. Your friends top you up often. So it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’re consuming. 

You know where this is going. So to keep your head on your shoulders, it’s helpful to decline being topped up until your glass is empty, then at least you know you’ve had, for example, three full glasses and it’s time to quit.

It’s hard to decline a drink in Japan; a sense of hospitality, combined with the work-hard/ play-hard psyche of many Japanese people, keeps the drinks flowing. However, holding your hand flat above the top of your glass, or leaving it full, will deflect another hospitable top-up. 

Kanpai! (kahn-pie!) = Cheers!


Start your Trip!

 
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One of the biggest trends in recent years has been ‘Multi-Gen’ travel, where 3 or more generations of the family come together on vacation.

‘Skip Gen’ travel leaves Mum and Dad at home for some much-needed downtime (or house reno’s or a getaway of their own!) while Grandma and Grandpa go on holiday with the grandkids for some fun times and bonding.

As with any trip, everyone involved deserves to have a good time. When grandparents think about taking their grandkids on an escape, it should be a vacation that means something and appeals to them as well as to the younger generation.

BestTrip TV’s Lynn Elmhirst recommends 4 types of trips for ‘skip gen’ travel:

Historical Travel

 
Grandparents often carry the torch of family memories and how real people lived in earlier times, and historical travel can be one of the best ways for them to pass the torch to a new generation. Grandma and Grandpa can share memories and family history on trips retracing family roots to the old country or to places where ancestors lived when they first came to this country.
 
Or the older and younger members of the family can discover together places that changed both family and world history. A Skip-Gen trip to the WW2 Normandy Landing Beaches gives both generations a taste of the spectacular modern French way of life, as well as the chance to walk the actual beaches where Americans, Canadians, British and other Allied countries came together to retake Occupied Europe and change the course of history.
 
Are Battlefield Memorials Appropriate for Kids? Watch the video at the top for insights about why and how destinations like the Juno Beach Centre (Canada’s D-Day Landing Beach in Normandy, France) appeal to families.
 

Resorts with Adult Amenities Plus Kid Attractions 

 
There are some Caribbean or Mexican Riviera resorts that are ALL about the kids with non-stop fun. Or all about grownups (even adults-only lifestyles). But it doesn’t have to be either/or.
 
How about resorts (all-inclusive or otherwise) that have equal appeal to the older and the younger generations? Places where grandparents and kids can alternate quiet relaxation poolside and fine dining with heart pumping thrills, like Barcelo's Maya Grand Resort, a village of multiple resorts where both generations can change it up from formal to casual to poolside dining, places to bask in the sun of the Riviera Maya, and get the blood pumping at a new adventure park, Ventura Fly & Ride, with 8 unique aerial attractions or test driving skills in vehicles from pedal carts to off-road motorized vehicles – all in the protected environment of the resort grounds (pictured below).
 
 
 

Cruise Ships

 
Like a beach resort, sometimes a ship IS the destination, complete with waterparks, go karts, climbing walls and even a sky diving simulator. If you’re traveling with teens, you could consider ships within a ship – if there are teens, grandma and grandpa can enjoy the relaxing grown up environment of Norwegian Cruise Line’s The Haven while the teens have the run of the adventure park and they can meet up before and after. Win-win.
 
Here’s another thought: make it about the cruising destination. Cruising is the best – and most accessible - way to journey in comfort to epic wildlife destinations like Alaska, or the Galapagos. The grandkids will never forget the trip where they meet a thousand-pound, 100-year old tortoise or see a grizzly bear hunting for salmon, or go fishing with their grandparents themselves, on phenomenal shore excursions. 

(Princess Cruises: Alaska Shore Excursion)
 
Even ultra-luxury ships that are normally geared towards adults embrace young guests on itineraries like these. What’s more, these two itineraries are excellent examples where the cruising season happens to accommodate summer holidays. (Alaska sailings are in the summertime, and Galapagos is a year-round destination).

(BestTrip's photo from the Deck of a Regent Cruise to Alaska Sailing Past the Hubbard Glacier.)
 

Soft Adventure

 
Outdoor adventures together can help grandparents and their grandkids to create lifelong bonds and lasting memories and be healthy and active every day. And the world is full of great places to spend time together outdoors.
 
Holidays with daily opportunities to be active, like ranches where you can go riding, lodges and hotels where you can take nearby hikes, cycling or water sports, and land-based safaris with combinations of driving and walking cultivate healthy habits as well as relationships. 

(G Adventures: Family Adventure in Sand Dunes in the Sahara)
 
The more active the grandparents, the more you can ratchet up the physical activity: taking to the ski hills, climbing Kilimanjaro, cycling through Vietnam together.
 
Time spent with the youngest generation is more valuable than ever, and skip-gen trips give kids and their grandparents the priceless gift of travel as well as close ties.
 

Start your Trip!

 
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The Hotel that made Copacabana Famous
Some hotels help define their destinations.   Not only with an historic pedigree, but with a location that makes them central to the local lifestyle.

The Belmond Copacabana Palace helped create the mystique of Rio de Janeiro that thrives even today.
Imagine a time when Rio’s now-epic beaches were unused and unfashionable. In the 20’s, Brazil’s upper classes lived in the cooler elevations of the hills.


So when the country’s president asked a local wealthy businessman to build a landmark hotel on Copacabana beach to help mark Brazil’s centenary, a lot of eyebrows lifted.

But the idea turned out to be the start of a legend. A French designer created an Art Deco palace inspired by the elegant, white limestone and marble hotels lining the seashore in Cannes and other storied Mediterranean destinations where the rich and famous went on holiday.    

It instantly put Copacabana on the world stage… and ever since, it’s drawn a global who’s who of royalty, celebrities and history-makers, from Princess Diana, to Marilyn Monroe, to Nelson Mandela and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who calls the hotel a second home.

The breathtaking property anchoring Rio’s Atlantica Avenue on Copacabana beach has seen millions of dollars of renovations and upgrades in recent years, and been brought into the Belmond hospitality family that includes the legendary Orient-Express luxury train, and Venice’s most prestigious hotel, the Cipriani. Today, the Belmond Copacabana Hotel maintains its rank among that stratospheric tier of worldwide hotels who help define their destinations.



It is the landmark on what is now one of the world’s most epic beaches, an oasis from the throbbing beach lifestyle, just across from the famous mosaic boardwalk known the world over.

 
The architectural character that includes towering ceilings, period furniture crafted from Brazilian freijo or mahogany wood, along with antiques, French fabrics and fine oriental carpets is married with modern design elements and all the comforts of 6-star hospitality, including beds so comfortable, it’s said Keith Richards’ wife asked to buy some after staying in the hotel while the Rolling Stones were there on tour.

 
Guests can sip cocktails and champagne and enjoy the refreshment of fresh fruit trays and iced towels that pool staff bring around as they lounge by Belmond Copacabana Palace’s scenic, half-Olympic sized pool, spend time in the spa that is the largest urban space of its kind in Brazil, work on their serve on on-site, urban tennis courts, and join the local and international A-listers in Rio’s top bars and restaurants, from the first restaurant on the continent awarded a Michelin star, to an Italian restaurant named after its sister Hotel Cipriani in Venice, to a restaurant that overlooks the Copacabana’s legendary swimming pool.

 
(Photo: Belmond Copacabana Palace)

The Copacabana Palace evokes a sense of being part of a timeless era of international glamour, perhaps most when it hosts the celebrated Rio Carnival Ball, a tradition begun the very year the hotel opened in the 1920’s. The Carnival ball has become an event as synonymous with the city’s Carnival as the costumed samba parade itself, considered one of the greatest shows on earth.
 
The society and couture fashion highlight of Carnival, this is where the rich and famous come from around the world to party like Brazilians. The spectacular black-tie event takes over the hotel, with live samba music in different art deco ballrooms, and on the spectacular hotel veranda, overlooking Copacabana Beach that the hotel helped turn into the legend it is today.  
 

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There’s a constellation of Michelin stars and celebrity chefs bringing their award-winning dishes, TV show hits and cookbook favorites to guests on cruise ships in all the seven seas. 

Dare we say it? Sometimes, the culinary experience afloat is even better than on land, where you may line up around the block or try to book a table in a decorated chef’s restaurant months in advance. And you might need those extra months to save up for the gastronomic indulgence. 

Cruise guests don’t just have easy access, with chef partnerships making their signature culinary stylings available to all the guests on board. The token fees charged for cruise line specialty restaurants by superstar chefs are a fraction of what you’d pay at any of their restaurants on land.

And in some very special cases, at the luxury level of cruising, whether a chef has consulted on an entire ship’s cuisine, or master-minded a single specialty restaurant, these stellar culinary experiences are included in your cruise!

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host and Cruise Expert of BestTrip TV, shares her favorite, surcharge-free gastronomic experiences at sea. 

Thomas Keller on Seabourn Cruise Line

The American chef with the most Michelin stars and a string of renowned restaurants including Napa’s The French Laundry and NYC’s Per Se, created The Grill by Thomas Keller for ultra-luxury Seabourn ships. 

You’ll delight in elevated classic and mid-century steakhouse atmosphere and dishes, some you don’t see often any more, like Lobster Thermidor, and Caesar salad prepared tableside, accompanied by choice selections of wines and crafted cocktails. 

WATCH VIDEO ABOVE FOR A TASTE OF THE GRILL BY THOMAS KELLER ON SEABOURN

Keller also presents popular, family-style set menus some evenings in the casual Colonnade. What’s more, there’s no additional cost for Keller cuisine on Seabourn. 

Nobu on Crystal Cruises

Japanese meets Peruvian cuisine in the kitchens of Japanese celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who has a host of acclaimed restaurants in major gastronomic cities around the world… and on the two exquisite Crystal ocean cruising ships. 

(Photo: Crystal Cruises)

Umi Uma & The Sushi Bar serve the only Nobu cuisine at sea, and they are included in your cruise fare once each for every week-long cruise. Delectable sushi and sashimi are offered, along with fusion dishes like Nobu-style Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu sauce, or a bento box of chocolate souffle cake with shiso syrup and sesame ice cream. 

Jacques Pépin on Oceania Cruises

He’s been with Oceania since its first ship sailed, and shaped the culinary signature of what Oceania bills as ‘the finest cuisine at sea’. The French Legion of Honor member, whose resume includes a long-running, beloved PBS TV series, cookbooks and time spent as the personal chef of multiple French presidents including Charles de Gaulle, brings his mastery of exhalted French cuisine to the Oceania fleet, where all dining, including specialty restaurants, is complimentary.  

(Photo: Oceania)

In addition, on the Marina and Riviera, the restaurant Jacques re-creates an authentic, relaxed Parisian bistro dinner experience. Decorated with heirloom antiques and art from the chef’s personal collection, it’s an escape to the streets of Paris, with rotisserie turning fragrant roasts and seafood is served in classic French style. 

Alain Ducasse on Ponant 

French luxury cruise line Ponant turned to another French culinary legend to ensure the excellence of the cuisine and a ‘French touch’ on its fleet of small jewels of ships. Alain Ducasse remains one of the most decorated chefs ever, with restaurants in Europe and the Americas making him the first chef to have 3 restaurants awarded 3 Michelin stars at the same time.


(Photo: Ponant)

On Ponant’s intimate ships, dining takes place in one or two restaurants (some Ponant ships have both a ‘Gastronomic’ restaurant and an casual, al fresco style Grill). Ducasse ensures the French focus on cuisine thrives on Ponant ships with refined dishes that speak to the shared French heritage, as well as dining inspired by local ports of call.

Jean-Pierre Vigato on Paul Gauguin


(Photo: Paul Gauguin)

The ship Paul Gauguin epitomizes French Polynesia, famous for sailing exclusively in the South Seas. The ship’s namesake French artist, the French Polynesian itineraries… and a French chef raised in the French countryside and rising to the level of having his own, Michelin-starred restaurant on Paris’ Champs-Elysees.  

(Photo: Paul Gauguin)

In addition to L’Etoile,the ship’s main, fine dining room,and Le Grill, alfresco casual dining, the Paul Gauguin has a third dining venue, and all are included in your cruise fare. La Veranda, the third venue, is transformed in the evenings into a gourmet restaurant serving Vigato’s gourmet cuisine. 

James Beard Foundation Chefs on Windstar Cruises


Rather than partnering with a single - or multiple individual chefs, Windstar has partnered with America's most beloved and prestigious culinary institution, the James Beard Foundation. Windstar has formalized its relationship as the Official Cruise Line of the foundation, whose annual awards are referred to as the Oscars of America's culinary scene.

(Photo: Windstar Cruises)

Together, they bring some of the country's most talented chefs and sommeliers on themed Windstar cruises, where they shape the onboard dining program. Imagine dining on dishes created by not just one celebrity chef, but a list of all-stars with the likes of Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab), Evan Hanzcor (Egg), and Jose Mendin (Pubbelly Noodle Bar, Habitat, Baja Bao). Windstar's themed cruises featuring James Beard Foundation chefs and beverage experts are a foodie’s dream, with chef demos, special beverage pairings, and market tours.

From classic or modern or destination-inspired French cuisine, to elegant Japanese and creative fusion, to elevated cuisine from across America.  

Of the countless reasons to treat yourself to a luxury cruise, one of the best must be the gastronomic delights by some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs - that are already included features of your cruise.

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Move over Halloween: 5 Reasons to Travel to Mexico for Day of the Dead
It’s the fantastical backdrop of the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. And one of the items on the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead is often mistaken as the country’s equivalent of Hallowe’en, but Día de Muertos has its own history, traditions and practice in modern Mexico that make it the celebration worth planning a trip at the end of October.

Aztec + Christian Mash-up

Hallowe’en’s roots lie in ancient Celtic culture. But Day of the Dead began with Mexico’s local traditions and a festival dedicated to an Aztec goddess around the time of the fall corn harvest. 

October 31st, November 1st and November 2nd. Three Christian holy days associated with death and resurrection. Hallowe’en emerged on the Christian calendar on All Hallows Eve, October 31st; and Mexico’s ancient local traditions also converged with new, Christian feast days: November 1 and 2, the Catholic All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. 

In Mexico, Day of the Dead still has spiritual significance celebrating death as part of the cycle of life, and loved ones moved on to the afterlife. 

Celebrating Death…

Day of the Dead is not a single day. It’s actually a multi-day celebration where families gather to remember deceased members and provide support for their spiritual journey to the afterlife.  It is not a sad time, but a happy one, where departed loved ones ‘join’ the living for the celebration.

Mexicans build altars in their homes and visit graveyards to decorate with candles to light the way of the departed, photos and personal items, and highly fragrant orange marigolds whose strong scent was believed to draw the souls of the dead to their living relatives celebrating their memory. In some places, families picnic in the cemetery, and spend all night beside their relatives’ graves.

 
Makes you Hungry

Bread of the Dead, a sweet bread decorated with skulls, bones arranged in the circle of life, or teardrops for sorrow, skull-shaped sugar confections, and bottles of pulque (fermented agave juice) or tequila, and jars of cinnamon-flavored corn porridge all featured in Day of the Dead celebrations.
 
All About the Face – A Skull Face

The icon of the Day of the Dead has become ‘La Catrina’, short for La Calavera Catrina, or ‘Elegant Skull’, the image of a female skeleton dressed in historic fancy dress. La Catrina originated from an early 20th century illustration by that name of a female skeleton’s head wearing only an ultra-stylish European ladies’ hat of that era.

It was meant to be a satirical put down of the social pretensions of Mexico’s upper classes. But it took on new life as the symbol of the Day of the Dead. A quote attributed to the artist, “We are all skeletons”, says it all: underneath even fancy dress, we are all the same, and will all eventually die. 
 
Hallowe’en has a whole cast of ghoulish characters, from ghosts to vampires and zombies and other ‘Undead’, but Mexico’s Day of the Dead is symbolized by the Elegant Skull dressed for a formal ball.

Death do us Party

They say art imitates life, but in this case, life may be imitating art. The opening scene in the James Bond film Spectre, of a spectacular Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, actually inspired a concerted effort by local residents to make what had been a small scale, random occurrence into a grand, annual affair. 

Not only has a grand parade leading up to the Day of the Dead become popularized for the local community, it’s become a tremendous tourist attraction, and gives visitors a way to participate in authentic local culture.

You’ll see couples and entire families dressed up, with ladies as La Catrina (many even finding this an excellent way to re-purpose their wedding gowns) and men in formal wear as the male equivalent, catrines.

Visitors are encouraged to don their own skull masks or makeup and historic fancy dress to participate in a revitalized and growing essential experience of Mexican culture.

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Images: Getty

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Virgin Voyages' 'Save Water, Drink Champagne' Easy Button
Oh, and there’s a caviar bar, too.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages says it’s committed to ‘disrupting’ cruise travel, and that means a twist on one of the luxury cruise standards: champagne and caviar.

The cruise line has already shared its ‘ship tease’, with the slogan ‘Save Water, Drink Champagne’ proudly displayed on an outdoor lounge.


Now, it’s revealed what that slogan really means to guests, or ‘sailors’ on the Scarlet Lady when she sets sail in Spring 2020. 

In the rebellious luxe/ music festival at sea atmosphere of Virgin Voyages, it’s never too early for champagne and there’s always something to celebrate.  To help every guest feel like a rock star, they’re offering a one-of-a-kind champagne service: Shake for Champagne.

Virgin Voyages sailors have an app to facilitate their on board experience. When you shake the app, a secret ‘Save Water, Drink Champagne’ button appears, and at the press of the button, you’ll have a bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial instantly delivered in an eye-popping, glamorous Virgin red champagne bucket… anywhere you are on the ship.


In addition to on-demand champagne delivery to your side, the Scarlet Lady introduces the first dedicated champagne lounge and caviar bar, with the fun and cheeky name Sip.

So you can go find champagne in effervescent surroundings when you don’t feel like having the champagne come to you.  The rose, gold and marble of the bar are not only perfectly on-trend in fashion and design, they echo the delicate tones of the champagnes served.


Circling the bar, deep ocean blue banquettes and cool, Carrara marble tables anchor your experience of luxury any time, day or night you visit.

Not only will you discover caviars and a range of champagnes from single glasses to a $1000 vintage bottle, in a nod to Virgin’s quintessential British heritage and eccentricity, Sip offers its own deluxe and eccentric version of a signature afternoon tea. On the Scarlet Lady, you know it’s not going to be your grandmother’s tea!


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Images courtesy Virgin Voyages.

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3 Reasons to Book Off-Season Travel
Experienced travelers know there’s a code when it comes to travel seasons. High season, low season, shoulder season and off season – your choice of travel season can make a big difference to your travel experience. 

Is there a perfect time to travel? Well, there are at least 3 good reasons to take ‘off’ season trips. Here’s why.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer / Host, BestTrip TV

Do you find yourself always heading out of town during ‘high’ season?

‘High’ season is when everyone is traveling.  High seasons are the busiest, most expensive, ‘prime-time’ travel periods.

Some ‘high’ seasons are due to ‘non-negotiable’ travel events. Think: the ones scheduled around school breaks and essential family holidays like Thanksgiving. Whether or not you want to fight the crowds, risk delays caused by disruptive snowstorms, and pay through the nose, you’ll be at your parents’ table in time for turkey.

Others are due to weather. The very best kind of weather. Sometimes you’re aiming for opposite weather, like traveling from the chilly North in the winter to warm up in the sunny islands in the Caribbean. And sometimes, you’re heading towards your ideal conditions of what you already have, like leaving the dirty snow of the city for the perfect powder on the slopes.

‘Low’ season is generally due to sub-optimal to quite bad local weather conditions. No one’s traveling to get there, and no one’s there when you arrive. The perfect weather or main attractions or signature local experiences may be completely missing during low season. In extreme cases, some hotels or resorts are closed, the locals have all gone on their own ideal vacations, and it’s a ghost town. 

The main attractions of a new destination during ‘low’ season are quiet and solitude. It could be worse than just 'quiet' too. In the case of the height of the Atlantic hurricane season in the US South-East and the Caribbean, or typhoon season in South-East Asia, you could end up spending your holiday navigating a serious weather event.

'Shoulder' season is right on the edge between high and low seasons. It’s not the height of perfect weather or timing, but it isn't the worst, either, and for the right travelers, it could be perfect. That's the 'off'-season sweet spot.

Here are the best reasons to consider booking off-season travel:

Lower Prices and More Perks


Everything is less expensive in the off-season, from flights and hotels, to packaged tours and cruises. On top of lower prices, you can also score perks that can allow you to stay longer, take more of your favorite people with you, or get freebie inclusions. 

Book early or last minute, and you could multiply the savings. (Booking early is best for people who like the most choice, but if spontaneity is your thing, last minute off-season travel can be very rewarding.)

You can pocket your savings, or use them to upgrade to a more luxurious experience, or book special treats, like spa treatments, special dining experiences, even a pricier locally-made souvenir than you might otherwise indulge in.
 
Off-season Cruise Travel Bonus: in the off-season, when storms head your way, a cruise ship can navigate to fairer skies. Although your itinerary may change and the skies may be cloudy, your cruise will likely not endure the worst of any bad weather.

Flexibility is always the key to enjoying off-season travel.

Fewer People


If you’re the kind of person who hates line ups and crowds, off-season is the one for you. Why spend your time waiting in line to go up the Eiffel Tower, when you could be having your second café au lait while people-watching at a picturesque sidewalk café?

Locals unwind once high season is over, too. They have more time to spend with the guests who do arrive. The relaxed pace of off-season can give you some of the most memorable exchanges with the people you meet on your journey.

Special Events


There’s only one harvest season in a vineyard. A short window of time when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. And a few short weeks when the Christmas markets are open. That's what high season is all about.

But more and more destinations are creating local events to extend their tourism seasons - events that are not contingent upon Mother Nature or long-standing cultural traditions. In many places, shoulder seasons are becoming the most exciting times to visit. Culinary and wine tasting and music festivals, races and marathons and yoga retreats, art shows and film festivals. No matter what your interest, there’s likely a fascinating destination with an off-season event celebrating it.
 
Some travel timing is unavoidable. But if you have flexibility about when you travel, a travel advisor can help you design the best vacation during the season less-traveled.

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There are more ways to explore the earth than overseas and overland. And the new Scenic Eclipse takes you there. 
With 2 helicopters for ‘flight-seeing’ and a submarine to reveal vast beauty of underwater realms, this luxury expedition ship covers all the bases – and with its top Polar Class-rated hull, it can sail in any of the world’s seven seas.

What’s more, Scenic’s sleek, sophisticated style makes the Eclipse feel like a billionaire’s yacht… with fewer than 200 fortunate guests at a time sharing an adventure of a lifetime.

BestTrip TV got a tour of the Scenic Eclipse on her inaugural voyage and discovered there’s more than billionaire’s toys to the first ocean cruising vessel for a company that’s already made its mark on luxury land tours and river cruises.
The Scenic Eclipse echoes the luxury of its river cruises and land tours. For all the head-turning design and deluxe amenities and experiences you’ll find on board, as an expedition ship, the focus of any Scenic Eclipse voyage is outdoors.

An expedition team and local guides take guests on hikes, kayak excursions, and a host of ship to shore zodiac landings in remote coasts of the world – and that’s even before you step foot on the submarine launch deck or the helipad.

The Eclipse’s itineraries take her around the globe, from the Northwest Passage across Canada’s Arctic coast, through tropical adventures in the Caribbean and Central America, to the remote wilds of Patagonia and epic Antarctica, the storied coasts of North and South America, the maritime cradle of Western civilization in the Mediterranean, and north to the fjords of Scandinavia and the volcanic landscapes of Iceland.
 

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