Check this list often as new tips, events and deals around Florida come in:
Reduced rate for solo cruisers
Azamara Club Cruises’ is featuring a reduced single supplement program that offers 125 percent of the double occupancy fare for guests traveling alone on more than 25 select voyages through 2014. Travelers can take advantage of Azamara’s reduced single supplement program to embark on a destination-immersive voyage to some of the most intriguing destinations around the world and enjoy longer stays and more overnights in port for night touring. For the list of reduced-single supplement voyages throughout Europe, the Far East and the West Indies, visit www.AzamaraClubCruises.com/special-offers/savings-singles.
For golfers on Amelia Island
Amelia Island hotels and resorts feature a variety of packages for golfers. Among the offerings is a Beaches and Bunkers Golf Package, at The Ritz-Carlton starting at $649 and valid through Dec. 31. The package includes overnight coastal view accommodations, American breakfast for two at Café 4750 or in-room dining, two rounds of golf at The Golf Club of Amelia Island or at The Golf Club of North Hampton, and beach umbrella daily. Visit www.ritzcarlton.com/ameliaisland.
Holiday Nights at Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers
During the month of December, the homes and gardens of Thomas and Mina Edison and Henry and Clara Ford set the scene for the 38th Annual Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. The homes are decorated for the season and visitors have the option of a self-guided tour or a guided tour with an Estates historian. The festivities also include entertainment by school and community groups, culinary demonstrations, book signings, appearances by artists, and the “Children’s Tree Trail,” a forest of trees decorated by Lee County students which is free to the public. The Edison Ford Museum and Edison Botanic Research Lab will also be open during the event. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are at 2350 McGregor Boulevard. Visit www.edisonfordwinterestates.org.
"Me time" package for solo travelers at Jupiter Beach resort
Solo travelers can indulge in "me time" they need at Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa with the Me, Myself and I package. The program includes $50 per day food and beverage credit to use for breakfast in bed or a night in watching a favorite TV show, a signature spa treatment and deluxe room accommodations. Rates start at $303 per night. Offer is valid through December 25. Visit www.jupiterbeachresort.com and use promotional code MMI.
Culinary and wine cruise from Windstar
Windstar Cruises has partnered with Saveur to offer a Culinary & Wine Delights Of Spain Signature Sailing departing from Lisbon on the Wind Surf on April 19. Ports of call include Cadiz, Malaga, Almeria, Cartagena Valencia, Soller and Barcelona. Highlights include cooking demonstrations, wine lectures, dinners with wine pairings, complimentary selections of Spanish wines, local Spanish fare and entertainment, wine tastings before dinner, and choice of two complimentary shore-side culinary and vineyard events (eight to choose from). “Savings Fares” start at $2,999 per person, double (fares are subject to change; government fees and taxes are extra). Visit www.windstarcruises.com.
First ever circumnavigation for Oceania
Oceania Cruises recently announced today its first ever Around the World in 180 Days, a port-intensive 180-day voyage aboard the 684-guest Insignia, setting sail round-trip from Miami on Jan. 10, 2015. This voyage visits five continents, 44 countries and 89 ports of call and will feature 11 overnight calls plus four two-night calls in Cape Town, South Africa; Yangon, Myanmar (Burma); Singapore, Singapore; and Shanghai, China. Insignia's 180-day journey begins by visiting boutique ports in the Caribbean then steers south to South America and east to Africa before heading to India, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Hawaii before returning via the Panama Canal to Miami on July 8, 2015. In addition to crossing the equator four times and sailing through all 24 time zones, the Around the World in 180 Days cruise will traverse three oceans and 10 seas, call on 45 islands and offer the chance to visit 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of the 89 ports visited on this extraordinary cruise, 13 are new to Oceania Cruises, including Corinto, Nicaragua; El Guamache (Isla Margarita), Venezuela; Langkawi, Malaysia; Santa Marta, Colombia; and Xiamen, China. Guests will also enjoy a one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay in Miami and free exclusive shoreside events in Walvis Bay, Namibia; Myanmar; Bangkok; Beijing and Honolulu. Visit www.OceaniaCruises.com.
South Walton app
Visit South Walton has launched Generation 2.0 of its mobile application, the Visit South Walton Perfect Beach app. The location-aware app, which is now available for Apple iPhone and Android smartphones, gives travelers real-time information, including weather forecasts, ocean conditions and more, for their closest beach anywhere in the United States, while serving as a guide to South Walton’s 16 unique beach neighborhoods. The new app is user-friendly and provides an advertisement-free experience. Information on South Walton accommodations, dining, events, entertainment, shopping and popular activities, as well as beach conditions and weather, are available at users’ fingertips. The app even boasts a Sunset Calculator feature, a great resource for both amateur and professional photographers and event planners looking to capture that perfect moment between day and night. Nature-lovers and adventure seekers will appreciate the app’s Ecosploring feature, which maps out activities beyond the beach, highlighting the destination’s state parks and hiking, as well as biking trails. When outside South Walton, the U.S. Beach Finder function provides information travelers need to plan their next beach excursion anywhere in the United States by displaying the user’s closest beach. From real-time temperature and sunrise/sunset information to tides and surf advisories, the app provides everything travelers need to plan a beach excursion. iPhone and Android users can now download the free app in the Apple Store and Google Play. Visit www.VisitSouthWalton.com/South-Walton-To-Go.
Officers selected for new Regal Princess
Princess Cruises recently announced that Captain Ed Perrin will be at the helm of its next new ship, Regal Princess. He will lead a senior officer team with more than 100 years of seagoing experience among them that also includes Relief Captain Dino Sagani, Relief Captain John Foster, Chief Engineer Rosario Segreto, Hotel General Manager Dirk Brand, and Staff Captain Aldo Traverso. Following in the wake of sister ship Royal Princess that debuted this year, Regal Princess launches in spring for a season of Mediterranean cruising. The ship will offer the same dramatic features that have already made headlines on Royal Princess, including a soaring atrium, the dramatic over-water SeaWalk, the new Princess Live! television studio, a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, and balconies on all outside staterooms. Regal Princess will debut on June 2, 2014 with a seven-day inaugural voyage from Venice to Barcelona. The ship will then sail on a 10-day Mediterranean & Aegean cruise, followed by a season of Grand Mediterranean cruises, with two itinerary choices. Visit www.princess.com.
Down to the sea in sips
Celebrity Cruises is shaking up the bar scene onboard its ships by introducing an exclusive selection of 30 new craft cocktails. Known for its popular Molecular and Martini Bars, Celebrity's new craft cocktail experience was created through an alliance with artisanal cocktail developers Hawthorn Beverage Group, founded by cocktail creator Josh Durr. The new craft cocktails blend vintage-style liqueurs with fresh ingredients, organic juices and artisanal spirits, resulting in a combination of new-school libations and updated old-school favorites. A new line-up of "zero-proof" (non-alcoholic) cocktails also will be introduced including such libations as Sparkling Mint Lemonade and Raspberry Fizz, along with an assortment of fine wines by the glass. Celebrity's current list of international beer selections will be expanded, too. Celebrity's guests will have the opportunity to indulge in the full, new craft cocktail experience across its fleet by the end of 2013.Visit www.celebritycruises.com.
For young explorers
The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2014 (hardcover, $21.95) features animals, maps, cool inventions, games and activities. Chapters include Going Green, Geography Rocks, Wonders of Nature, Awesome Adventures, Culture Connections, History Happens and more. The 2014 edition offers 40 percent new content including mobile media features in each chapter, a new cute animals section and a revamped continents of the world section. Visit http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/category/books/kids-books-and-atlases.
New ice cream bar onboard
Norwegian Cruise Line is featuring a new Ice Cream Bar concept debuted on board the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway that will also be available on Norwegian Getaway upon her arrival to Miami in February. Guests sailing on board Norwegian Breakaway’s seven-day Bermuda or Bahamas and Florida cruises from New York City or on Norwegian Getaway’s seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailings from Miami, can indulge in a variety of specialty sundaes, floats, shakes and other ice cream treats during their cruise. Located inside O’Sheehan’s, the ships’ 24-hour neighborhood bars, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway’s Ice Cream Bars serve up classic ice cream parlor creations, from floats, milkshakes and malted shakes, to egg creams and a variety of ice cream sundaes. The signature item on the Ice Cream Bar menu is the enormously delicious Breakaway or Getaway Sundae. This ice cream creation serves from three to four guests, includes nine scoops of ice cream in up to three different flavors and is topped with chocolate fudge, butterscotch and raspberry sauces, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, crumbled Oreos, sliced almonds, marshmallows, gummy bears, whipped cream and cherries. The costs range from $2.50 to 12.75 for the Breakaway/Getaway Sundae. Visit www.ncl.com.
Package at re-imagined Manalapan resort
The re-imagined Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (formerly the Ritz-Carlton) has created an introductory package for Florida residents called Love Thy Neighbor. The package provides rates starting at $199 for oceanfront suites and poolside cabanas, an opportunity for $200 worth of spa credit for $100, a champagne welcome, high-speed internet access, and other features. The package is available through Dec. 13. Visit www.eaupalmbeachlovesthyneighbor.com. Code word is LOVE. Guests must show Florida identification upon arrival.
Cruises commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal
Six Holland America Line ships are sailing various full and partial transits of the Panama Canal this fall and through April 2014 season, coinciding with the canal’s 100th anniversary. Ranging in length from 10 to 22 days, the itinerary options are onboard the line’s ms Amsterdam, ms Statendam, ms Veendam, ms Westerdam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam transiting the canal from six departure cities going between the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Among the offerings is the Zuiderdam’s April 18, 2014 voyage from Fort Lauderdale on an 18- or 22-day transit to San Diego or Vancouver calling at Half Moon Cay, Curaçao, Aruba, Puerto Caldera; Corinto, Nicaragua; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; San Diego and Victoria, B.C. And the Statendam transits from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 15, 2014, on a 15-day cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. Calls on that voyage include Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Corinto, Puerto Caldera, Cartagena and Half Moon Cay. The ship immediately returns to San Diego from Fort Lauderdale on a 15-day transit departing Jan. 30 that calls at Half Moon Cay, Cartagena, Puerto Caldera, Corinto, Puerto Quetzal, Zihuatenejo (Ixtapa), Mexico, and Cabo San Lucas, including scenic cruising in Golfo Dulce. Fares for an 18-day voyage start at $2,599 per person, double. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Central Florida eco-tourism park expansion
Wild Florida, a natural attraction that now includes an airboat tour and wildlife park, is adding a kayak tour, full service barbecue restaurant, 10 new animal exhibits, and nature trails that include a bridge across the park’s gator pond this fall. The additions to the St. Cloud-based attraction are scheduled to open in phases and a grand reopening is scheduled for December. Wild Florida is one of the many outdoor attractions found in the Kissimmee-St. Cloud destination. Visit www.ExperienceKissimmee.com.
Itineraries for 2015-16 unveiled
Sailing to all seven continents, Crystal Cruises has revealed its complete collection of cruises for 2015 through Winter/Spring 2016. In 2015, Crystal will celebrate its 25th anniversary with 64 voyages calling in 248 ports in 79 countries. Crystal Symphony begins 2016 immersed in South America and Antarctica, while Crystal Serenity kicks off the year with a grand Panama Canal cruise that precedes a new World Cruise.
Itinerary highlights through spring 2015, include an Asia series and a 108-day “Silver Celebration” World Cruise circumnavigating the globe round-trip from Miami. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Renovated Orlando resort
Avanti Resort on International Drive recently completed an extensive renovation. The renovation included updates to the lobby and guest rooms, as well as the addition of a 6,672-square-foot amenity building. Visit www.avantiresort.com.
Spa package in Fort Lauderdale
The Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is featuring a Spa Getaway package that includes deluxe accommodations and daily choice of Swedish massage or aroma decadence facial at the Spa at Harbor Beach Marriott, starting at $289 per night. Promo code is SPA and the package is valid through Dec. 31. Visit www.harborbeachmarriott.com.
New downtown trolleys in Delray Beach
Downtown Delray Beach recently added new red and blue Downtown Roundabout Rrolleys that make travel from shop to shop and to the beach easier. The free trolleys can seat about 20 passengers and operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on two routes that run down Atlantic Avenue stopping at 20 locations throughout downtown every 10 minutes. Visit www.downtowndelraybeach.com.
South Beach couple’s getaway
Romantics, here’s an interesting one: The South Beach Marriott’s Couple's Getaway package. The program provides the South Beach coastline view, breakfast for two at Deco Blue or room service, and champagne and strawberries upon arrival. Rates start at $299 per night. The package is valid through Dec. 30, with promo code ROM. Visit www.marriottsouthbeach.com.
New restaurants in Jacksonville
Foodies who haven’t been to Jacksonville in a while have quite a few new choices to explore when it comes to restaurants. Among the recently opened restaurants and food businesses are the Grape & Grain Exchange in San Marco Square selling gourmet cheeses, locally baked bread, charcuterie, craft cocktails and wines (www.grapeandgrainexchange.com); the Taste Food Studio with global cuisine with a Jacksonville twist in Tinseltown in Jacksonville’s Southside district (www.tastefoodstudiojax.com); and Dig Foods offering an all vegan and organic local menu in Downtown Jacksonville (www.facebook.com/digfoods).
New visitors center on Islamorada
The Islamorada Visitors Center recently opened at a newly constructed 2,100-square-foot facility located at the front of Founders Park, Mile Marker 87. The venue replaces the former Islamorada Chamber of Commerce's visitor center located at Mile Marker 83.2. Walk-in hours of operation are Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit www.islamoradachamber.com.
Jacksonville hotel rebranded
The Holiday Inn Baymeadows has re-branded and is now operating under the Wyndham family as the Ramada Jacksonville/Baymeadows. Located at 9150 Baymeadows Road, the new Ramada Jacksonville/Baymeadows has 146 modern guestrooms with microwaves, refrigerators, 32 inch flat screen TV’s, and free internet access throughout the hotel. Visit www.ramada.com.
Key West attractions pass
Through Dec. 15, visitors to Key West can receive special values on museum and attraction admissions, excursions, water sports adventures, beverages and even accommodations by purchasing a Key West Vacation Pass from the Key West Attractions Association. The $49 pass offers values on tickets for historic and museum attractions, sailing and snorkeling excursions, eco-tours, visits to nature facilities and more. Participating businesses and organizations include the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Conch Tour Train and Old Town Trolley, Schooner Adirondack, Key West Eco Tour, and Harry S. Truman Little White House. Passes must be purchased online before arriving in Key West. Some blackout dates apply, as does a $6 shipping and handling fee. Visit www.keywestattractions.org.
Food and wine cruises on the horizon
Food & Wine Trails has announced its 2014-2015 wine-cruise series. During the company's 25th wine-cruise season 11 wineries will be sailing to Europe, the Caribbean, New Zealand and Australia in 2014 and early 2015. All Food & Wine Trails wine cruises include private parties and wine tastings, and an onboard winemaker dinner and optional wine-related shore tours. Most include free or discounted airfare from the US, and booking incentives such as free prepaid gratuities and onboard credits. Wineries for the 25th cruise season were selected for their high-scores in US wine publications and include such brand-icons as Chateau Montelena, Pahlmeyer, Rochioli, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Hess, Siduri and Ponzi Vineyards. Typical high-season starting price for a seven-night 2014 Food & Wine Trails cruise is $2,874 per person double including round-trip airfare from any one of 26 US and Canadian city airports. Visit www.foodandwinetrails.com/cruises.
SeaWorld Orlando Fun Card is back
The SeaWorld Fun Card whereby Florida residents pay for a day and come back again and again for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014 is back. Fun Card that is valid from the date of purchase through Dec. 31, 2014. With a Fun Card families can enjoy all of the special events throughout the year, plus the rides and family fun with no blackout dates. Fun Cards are available at the park’s front gate, online at www.SeaWorldOrlando.com or by calling 888-800-5447.
Eco-adventures in Costa Rica
Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure is a 3,400-acre private mountain reserve bordering the La Amistad International Park, the largest nature reserve in Central America. Located less than an hour from the cruise port of Puerto Limón, Veragua hosts cruise passengers from leading cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. Shore excursion visitors to Veragua can experience firsthand the natural wonders of Costa Rica's tropical rainforest. Activities at Veragua include gliding through the rainforest on an aerial tram while viewing monkeys and rainforest animals, learning about the rainforest ecosystem at the Frog and Reptile Habitats, mingling with hundreds of butterflies at the Butterfly Garden, experiencing the Original Canopy Tour or journeying into the rainforest on one of several walking trails, including one that leads to a 65-foot waterfall. A Veragua Eco-Adventure Full Tour is $66 for adults, $55 for children; a canopy tour only is $55 for adults, $45 for children. Visit www.veraguarainforest.com.
Oceania refurbishing three ships
Oceania Cruises has announced the largest refurbishment program in the company's history. Its trio of R-Class ships, Regatta, Insignia, and Nautica will undergo a combined $50 million dollar transformation during the second quarter of 2014. All public rooms, suites, and staterooms on the three ships will feature new furnishings and décor. Many of the amenities and design elements that debuted on the line’s newest ships - including Baristas, Oceania Cruises’ signature specialty coffee bar, and the state-of-the-art grill in the Terrace Café - are being added during the refits. Visit www.OceaniaCruises.com.
Jet away for the day
The Resort at Longboat Key Club in Sarasota and Aura Jets have partnered to offer Florida residents a luxury daycation aboard a private jet. The "Jet Away for the Day" package at Longboat Key Club, bookable through Aura Jets features limo service to and from the airport, champagne upon arrival, a suite for the day, spa treatments and more. The package starts at $8,500 including private same day jet transportation for up to eight people to/from any Florida airport to the Sarasota Airport. To book the "Jet Away for the Day" package call Aura Jets at 1-888-908-0391.
Dancing with the Stars at sea program extended
Holland America Line has extended its "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" program for another year. The onboard experience brings the excitement of ABC’s hit show "Dancing with the Stars" to the line’s 15 ships throughout 2014. Once again the program will culminate with a Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Dec. 6, 2014, Caribbean sailing of ms Westerdam. Like 2013, the 2014 schedule will continue to feature "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" programming on all sailings throughout the year, in addition to six special "Dancing with the Stars" theme cruises featuring the show’s professional dancers and celebrities. Currently scheduled to sail on all six theme cruises in 2014 are professional dancers Tristan MacManus and Kym Johnson and television personality Carson Kressley and actress Sabrina Bryan. The "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" 2014 theme cruises are: June 14 and June 21 aboard ms Zuiderdam, 7-day Alaska roundtrip from Vancouver, British Columbia; July 26 and Aug. 2 aboard Westerdam, 7-day Alaska roundtrip from Seattle, Wash.; and Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 aboard Westerdam, 7-day eastern Caribbean roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Remodeled gourmet restaurant at sea
A remodeled Le Champagne restaurant highlights a major refurbishment of Silversea’s Silver Wind during a two week dry dock in Palermo, Italy in November. Le Champagne, the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant at sea, received a makeover with an upgraded entrance design, the addition of gleaming, backlit wine displays, a redesigned seating layout, and new wood flooring, fabrics and window treatments. The ship's suites, public spaces and dining venues have been freshened up with the installation of new carpets, new upholstery and other soft goods in an overall palette of earth tones. Other highlights include new tiling and deck furniture in the pool area and a redesigned buffet area in the specialty restaurant La Terrazza. Rounding out the refurbishment was a fresh reconditioning and polishing of teak decks and woodwork. The ship also underwent thorough maintenance on mechanical and propulsion systems. Visit www.silversea.com.
Cyber Week discounts for animal encounter programs at Miami Seaquarium
Miami Seaquarium will offer online bargain hunters discounts on gift certificates for animal encounter programs for the entire family during Cyber Week, Nov. 29 through Dec. 6. The Cyber Week offer gives up to a 30 percent discount on gift certificates for Dolphin Odyssey and Dolphin Encounter plus the Sea Trek Reef Encounter program. The Dolphin Odyssey program is a deep water experience that includes feeding, touching and learning about these magnificent animals plus enjoying a “ride” with the dolphins across the pool. The Dolphin Encounte is a shallow water experience with a dolphin. The Sea Trek Reef Encounter is a helmet diving experience that provides guests the opportunity to descend into the park’s reef aquarium, home to fish, rays, eels and other amazing marine creatures.
Here’s the price comparison: Dolphin Odyssey, regular price: $199; Cyber Week Sale: $134. Dolphin Encounter, regular price: $139; Cyber Week Sale: $94. Sea Trek Reef Encounter; regular price: $99; Cyber Week Sale: $79.
Certificates are valid for one year from purchase date. Blackout dates include December 25, 2013 through January 8, 2014, one week before and one week after Easter Sunday. The Cyber Week Sale is on from 12:01 a.m. EST on Nov. 29 through 11:59 p.m., Dec. 6. Visit www.miamiseaquarium.com/animalencounters on November 29, 2013 through December 6, 2013 to purchase the offer.
"Mancation" in St. Petersburg
The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club is featuring the "Lines & Links" guys’ escape, starting at $1,399 for two-nights, from now until Dec. 30. The package provides two nights accommodations for four (two double rooms), one round of golf for four at The Vinoy Golf Club, Sailing Florida fishing excursion for four anglers and $400 food and beverage credit. Offer is subject to availability. Restrictions and blackout dates may apply. Gratuity not included. Promo code ZJL must be referenced at time of reservation. Visit www.vinoyrenaissanceresort.com.
Upper Keys walking tours
Pedestrians can stroll with Keys author and historian Brad Bertelli during his Historic Upper Keys Walking Tours, small-group explorations of the region's important locales. The Historic Downtown Tavernier Tour spotlights neighborhoods developed by pineapple farmers and workers on Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad. During the hour-long strolls, Bertelli shares stories about people and incidents that shaped the downtown Tavernier community. Cost is $16 per person. The 40-minute Islamorada Hurricane Tour provides an intriguing look into the island's history, its monument dedicated to the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, a storm that shaped the lives of the community, and buildings that still stand today. Priced at $10 per person, the tour also is available at night, under the light of the full moon, once monthly through December. Walking tour hours typically are 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays through Saturdays, as well as Sundays by appointment. Participants must confirm in advance. For meet-up locations and tour details, visit http://historicupperkeyswalkingtours.com/.
Indoor go-kart attraction to open in Orlando
I-Drive Indoor Kart Racing has announced plans to open in January. The attraction, located off International Drive in Orlando, includes a multi-level entertainment center equipped a half-mile long go-kart track; 10,500-square-foot second floor with bowling lanes; an arcade area; and a food and beverage area. Visit http://ampgroupusa.com/.
New eatery coming to Winter Park
Shake Shack, a popular New York-based burger restaurant, is coming to Winter Park in summer 2014. Shake Shack will be located on Lake Killarney at Orlando Avenue and Morse Boulevard. Visit www.shakeshack.com.
Australian Open pre-cruise land package
Silversea Cruises is offering an optional pre-cruise "2014 Australian Open" land package for tennis enthusiasts sailing on Silver Shadow's Jan. 19 voyage. On Jan. 17-18, the middle weekend of the competition, Silver Shadow guests will have the opportunity to experience the tournament's action at Melbourne Park, enjoying reserved seating in the Rod Laver Arena, access to all outdoor courts, meals at select dining venues, an official Australian Open tournament program, access to exclusive bars, facilities and services, plus access to the Melbourne Park precinct for night sessions. The program includes three nights at the Sofitel Melbourne hotel on Collins Street, a short walk from major shopping, entertainment and business areas. Some meals at the hotel are included. Transfers between the airport, hotel, Australian Open and Silver Shadow are also included. Priced at $3,689 per guest, based on double occupancy, this special land adventure is only available on Silver Shadow's Jan. 19, (#3402), sailing from Melbourne to Bali. It requires advance booking through Silversea's reservations department. Visit www.silversea.com.
Eleuthera fall deals on house rentals
Do you fancy vacationing in a house in Eleuthera, in the Bahamas? Among the fall offerings is the Peach Hilltop House, a one bedroom, one and a half bath property that sleeps two and it is on landscaped grounds, located on the hilltop above Governor’s Harbour, in a small community of homes called Governor’s Estate. The property is a short stroll for shops, restaurants and French Leave Beach. Cost is $1,350 per week ($193 per night) through Dec. 20. Visit www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p909777.
New restaurant to open at inn in downtown Naples
Following the recent completion of an $18 million expansion project and $1.7 million renovation, the Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples announced plans for a new restaurant to be constructed on the site of the McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill located at its Fifth Avenue South location. With 240 seats and a private dining room for up to 60 guests, the new 7,000-square-foot restaurant is expected be the largest on Fifth Avenue South. The $1.5 million restaurant will feature a high energy, contemporary ambiance and is expected to open before Christmas. Serving a broad menu of classic American cuisine with a focus on grilled entrees, the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner, as well as breakfast seasonally. Initial plans include an island bar and electric sliding windows offering an open-air dining space along the restaurant’s exterior on Fifth Avenue South and the adjacent Sugden Plaza. Visit www.innonfifth.com.
Pooch parade on the Last Key
If every dog has its day, for dachshunds in Key West that "day" is New Year's Eve. About 200 of the short-legged, long-bodied dogs and their owners are to stroll through the island's picturesque downtown during the ninth annual Key West Dachshund Walk. Set for noon on Dec. 31, the smile-inducing event provides an informal, family-friendly prelude to nighttime New Year's Eve revelry. Dachshunds, their human companions and fans are scheduled to gather at the corner of Whitehead and Fleming streets to begin the canine celebration. Many dogs typically wear offbeat costumes or accessories. Standouts in last year's parade included dachshunds dressed as wieners in oversized fabric buns, a duo portraying rival NFL cheerleaders, a bride and groom garbed in formal wedding attire and a four-legged ballerina sporting a purple tutu. The walking route, deliberately kept brief to cater to the dachshunds' short legs, is to encompass the 400 block of Fleming Street, 500 block of legendary Duval Street and entire one-block length of Appelrouth Lane. Old or sedentary participants can ride along in wagons or strollers. There is no cost to participate, but donations of dog and cat food are requested for the community pet-food pantry operated by St. Mary Star of the Sea Outreach Mission. Spectators can watch the pooch parade and meet the participants on Fleming Street between Whitehead and Duval streets. Visit www.fla-keys.com/keywest.
Nassau Paradise Island offer extended
Nassau Paradise Island’s latest offer for savings on fall and winter travel has been extended. Travelers who book an air-inclusive minimum four-night stay package at any of Nassau Paradise Island’s participating hotels by Dec. 2, 2013 will receive a $250 Instant Savings. Travel can take place now through April 10, 2014 (blackout dates are Nov. 27 – 30, 2013 and Dec. 26, 2013 – Jan. 1, 2014). Among many participating hotels are Atlantis, Paradise Island and the British Colonial Hilton Nassau. This offer is valid for travel originating in the U.S. and Canada. For more information on these resorts, additional fall and winter specials or to book the Instant Savings offer, visit www.NassauParadiseIsland.com.
Holiday getaway in Orlando
The Orlando World Center Marriott invites families to enjoy a "Holiday Getaway" escape starting at $174 per night. The getaway is bookable now - Dec. 15, for stays through Jan. 31, 2014. It offers a $50 resort credit per night when using promotional code: P91 online. Visit www.worldcentermarriott.com.
Key West attractions pass
Through Dec. 15, visitors to Key West can receive special values on museum and attraction admissions, excursions, water sports adventures, beverages and even accommodations by purchasing a Key West Vacation Pass from the Key West Attractions Association. The $49 pass offers values on tickets for historic and museum attractions, sailing and snorkeling excursions, eco-tours, visits to nature facilities and more. Participating businesses and organizations include the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Conch Tour Train and Old Town Trolley, Schooner Adirondack, Key West Eco Tour, and Harry S. Truman Little White House. Passes must be purchased online before arriving in Key West. Some blackout dates apply, as does a $6 shipping and handling fee. Visit www.keywestattractions.org.
Thanksgiving with a tropical twist
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, a private-island resort in the British Virgin Islands, has created a new Thanksgivings on Us package that blends the tropics and traditions into an island escape. Starting at $979 per night, the package includes a seven-night stay for the price of five, accommodations in a two-bedroom ocean view villa, a bottle of wine and four seats at a Thanksgiving Day feast at the resort’s fine-dining Caravela restaurant. The Thanksgivings on Us package is valid for any seven-night stay that includes Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28). Call 877-890-7444.
Silversea to welcome its eighth ship
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises, will welcome the 128-guestSilver Discoverer, in March. Aboard Silver Discoverer, guests will be able to explore remote areas of Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia in addition to the Russian Far East, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia, including one of its hidden treasures, the Kimberley. This vast area in North West Australia is three times the size of England and three-fifth the size of Texas. The small-sized ship, the eighth in Silversea's fleet, will become part of the Silversea Expeditions fleet, which already includes Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos. Silver Discoverer is undergoing a major refurbishment prior to entering service on March 1, and will consist of five suite categories. Facilities on board include 12 Zodiac boats and a glass-bottom boat for exploration of marine life; a swimming pool; a gym and beauty salon; a restaurant and pool grill; a lecture room for stories and briefings about the destinations and a panoramic lounge. She weighs 5,218 tons, is 338 feet long and 51 feet wide. A Silversea Expeditions team consisting of 11 experts, from expedition leaders, divemasters and marine biologists to historians, geologists and naturalists will lead the voyages. Visit www.silversea.com.
New spa for San Juan
La Concha Resort in the Condado District of San Juan, Puerto Rico is slated to unveil a new $1 million spa in the Suite Tower early in 2014. The resort will also launch a refreshed Sereno Beach Front Bar & Grill Deck and updated guestrooms. Rates start at $219 per night. Visit www.laconcharesort.com.
Two grand voyages for 2015
Silversea Cruises is featuring two special Grand Voyages for 2015. The first of these, a 62-day Circle South America voyage is roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale beginning on Jan. 7 and featuring calls in Key West, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Uruguay, Brazil, French Guiana, Barbados, Grenada, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas. Highlighting the itinerary's 36 destinations is a crossing of the Panama Canal, two days cruising Chile's fjords, a two-night stopover in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, overnight stays in Callao and Punta Arenas, plus many late-night port departures. Fares start at $24,390 per person, based on double occupancy. The other Grand Voyage sets sail on Jan. 22, aboard the Silver Spirit on a 64-day Southern Cross roundtrip voyage from Los Angeles to explore 32 exotic destinations mostly in the South Pacific, including the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, and Hawaii. Highlights include sailing New Zealand's scenic Dusky and Milford sounds, overnight stays in Papeete, Melbourne, and Sydney, plus several late-night port departures. Fares start at $25,695 per person, based on double occupancy. And for the first time, Silversea is extending special perks to guests sailing full Grand Voyage itineraries. These include a gala Bon Voyage dinner and pre-cruise overnight stay at a luxury hotel, a $2,000 onboard spending credit (per suite), and commemorative gifts. Plus, for guests on the full "Circle South America" voyage, there will be a complimentary Silversea Experience in Devil's Island and an exclusive event at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Similarly, full-cruise guests will be treated to a complimentary Silversea Experience in Fanning Island (Kiribati) and an exclusive event at the Sydney Opera House on the Southern Cross voyage. Visit www.silversea.com/destinations/2015GrandVoyages.
"Snooze and cruise" plan
The Red Roof Inn hotel chain caters to cruise travelers looking to sleep near their port of embarkation with the "Snooze and Cruise" promotion offering savings of 20 percent off standard room rates at select properties. Among the properties offering the plan are the Jacksonville Airport Red Roof #81, Miami Airport Red Roof #255, Tampa-Brandon Red Roof #173, and Tampa Fairgrounds Red Roof #92. Call 800-733-7663 and mention the “Volume Plan Plus” and Discount Code 606063.
The Keys from above
Marathon's Overseas Aero Tours, is providing an opportunity to see the Florida Keys from a vintage WWII biplane. During the company's biplane rides for two, passengers can view the historic and contemporary bridges connecting the islands of the Florida Keys and spot marine life such as fish, sharks, rays and dolphins in the clear shallow waters below. Highlights include a bird's eye view of Marathon, Pigeon Key, Sombrero Lighthouse and the Seven Mile Bridge. Overseas Aero Tours is a family-run endeavor. Pilots are Captain Brad Neat, who began Keys seaplane tours in 1993, and former Continental Airlines pilot Captain Evan Doumis. Both pilots are certified flight instructors and can provide flight training for those interested. Excursion prices start at $110 for two people and range from eight-to-10-minute tours to 60-minute flights. Overseas Aero Tours' biplane is located at the Florida Keys/Marathon International Airport, Mile Marker 52.2 Gulf-side. Visit www.overseasaerotours.com.
New vessel for Regent Seven Seas on order
Regent Seven Seas Cruises recently announced it has entered into a definitive contract with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard to build a luxury cruise ship with delivery scheduled in summer 2016. Accommodating 738 guests, the new all-suite, all-balcony ship will be named Seven Seas Explorer and will be the line’s third. At 54,000 gross-registered tons, the ship will be the largest vessel in the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet. The contract price for the vessel is approximately US$450 million. Visit www.rssc.com.
And second Breakaway Plus ship ordered by Norwegian
Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that it has confirmed an order for a second Breakaway Plus cruise ship with the Meyer Werft shipyard of Papenburg, Germany for delivery in spring 2017. Along with the first Breakaway Plus ship, which is scheduled for delivery in October 2015, these two new vessels will be the largest in the line’s fleet at approximately 163,000 gross tons and 4,200 passenger berths each and will be similar in design and innovation to the line’s current Breakaway class, the first of which, Norwegian Breakaway, launched in New York in May. The combined contract cost of the two Breakaway Plus class ships is approximately €1.4 billion. Visit www.ncl.com.
Charity cruise from Fort Lauderdale
Princess Cruises has announced a special cruise to benefit the American Heart Association. Expected to raise $1 million for the Association’s heart health programs and educational outreach, the cruise is the second in Princess’ new "Cruising for a Cause" series that devotes an entire sailing to support a charitable cause. Sailing Feb. 10-15, aboard Ruby Princess on a Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale, the five-day voyage will offer passengers a heart-themed experience, focused not only on "affairs of the heart," but also a variety of onboard features themed around heart health awareness – including special guest speakers, educational activities and other programs to foster healthy living. A portion of each passenger’s cruise fare, totaling approximately $500,000, will be matched by Princess Cruises with an additional $500,000, for a total of $1 million. The proceeds will be used to support the American Heart Association’s mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The American Heart Association cruise will sail on a Western Caribbean itinerary roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, with calls at Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Cruise fares range from $599 to $1,649 per person double. A tax-deductible portion of each fare ranging from $100 to $300 per person, depending upon cabin category, will be donated to the American Heart Association. Visit www.princess.com.
Package at re-imagined Manalapan resort
The re-imagined Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (formerly the Ritz-Carlton) has created an introductory package for Florida residents called Love Thy Neighbor. The package provides rates starting at $199 for oceanfront suites and poolside cabanas, an opportunity for $200 worth of spa credit for $100, a champagne welcome, high-speed internet access, and other features. The package is available through Dec. 13. Visit www.eaupalmbeachlovesthyneighbor.com. Code word is LOVE. Guests must show Florida identification upon arrival.
Mainstay reopened on Main Street at Magic Kingdom
A mainstay on Main Street U.S.A., the Main Street Bakery underwent a refurbishment and recently reopened at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Popular Disney-made treats are joined by Starbucks drinks and food items. Starbucks favorites include coffee and espresso and Frappuccino-blended beverages, along with breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
New children’s club at Cape Coral resort
The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village recently unveiled its new Westin Kids Club for children ages 4 to 12. The club features a variety of activities including indoor and outdoor adventures and creative crafts. Westin Kid Club sessions are available for full day (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) for $70 per child, including lunch, and half day (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m./1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) for $40 per child. Additional parent and child activities are also available. Promotional resort rates start at $139 per night and provide free meals for kids 12 and under with the purchase of adult entrees. Visit www.westincapecoral.com. Promotional code is LFR.
Kayaking and yoga on Amelia Island
Kayak Amelia is featuring Yoga & Kayaking Eco-Experience tours, during which guests kayak to a secluded location and experience the natural connection between the rhythms of nature and yoga stretches. Cost of a three-hour tour is $65. Visit www.KayakAmelia.com.
Voyages for the holidays
Crystal Cruises is planning a winter wonderland holiday with a new Antarctica Christmas/New Year’s cruise. In addition to three days sailing Antarctic waters, the Dec. 21 Buenos Aires-Valparaíso voyage aboard the award-winning Crystal Symphony sails through Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Falkland Islands, Drake Passage, Cape Horn, and the Chilean Fjords, with multiple excursions to the Antarctic continent. Crystal is one of the few cruise lines permitted to sail to Antarctica, due to the strict environmental regulations, for which Crystal has incurred extra cost and planning efforts. Guests can fly, hike, and zodiac over and on the icy continent, viewing Air Force homes, penguin breeding grounds, and the glacial scenery of King George and Ardley Islands. Extremely-limited Crystal Adventures also explore more of Antarctica, taste local specialties, and overnight at the Chilean Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base (INACH). The 18-day cruise features onboard speakers including an Antarctic expedition book author, climate change researcher, shark conservationist, and CBS News correspondent. The itinerary visits Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, Port Stanley, Ushuaia (overnight), Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt, and Valparaíso. As guests’ home for the holidays, Crystal Symphony will be decorated throughout, offering gourmet Christmas feasts, a champagne New Year’s gala, religious services, junior cruiser events (including Santa), and more.
Similarly decked-out and celebratory Crystal Serenity will spend the holidays cruising the tropics, with a round-trip Miami voyage also departing Dec. 21, and calling in Turks & Caicos; Curaçao; Santa Marta and Cartagena, Colombia; Roatan Island, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and Key West, Florida. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Changes to fall 2014 itineraries
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced changes to its fall 2014 itineraries for Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager. The company launched 10 new cruises with expanded itineraries that include sailings to such destinations as Tahiti and South Africa. New sailings for Seven Seas Mariner include an 18-day Los Angeles to Papeete TransPacific cruise, a 10-day roundtrip Papeete voyage and a 16-night Papeete to Auckland cruise. For the Seven Seas Voyager, new cruises include a 30-day Dubai to Cape Town cruise including overnights in Mumbai, India; Male, Maldives; Port Victoria, Seychelles; and Cape Town, with visits to Mombasa, Kenya; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Maputo, Mozambique; and Richard’s Bay and Durban, South Africa. Visit www.rssc.com.
Free "Norwegian Flash Deals" app
Norwegian recently launched a smart phone app called "Norwegian Flash Deals" that gives users access to exclusive, limited time cruise deals on select sailings, direct from their smart phone. Those who download the free app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices, will have access to limited-time, limited-quantity cruise deals that are exclusively available to app users. Users also have the ability to purchase the offer directly from their smart phone. The app is available for download in the iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/norwegian-flash-deals/id656505907 and Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ncl.flashdeals.
Recycling is rewarding in the Keys
Members of Recyclebank, a company that rewards people for taking everyday green actions, such as recycling, now can cash in their points for value-added travel incentives from the Florida Keys. Participating Keys tourism businesses include lodging, attractions, dive operators and more. Recyclebank is a free, online community of more than four million members. They're mainstream consumers who engage in simple, everyday green actions. Members earn points online for performing actions, including recycling at home, pledging to use less water and energy or taking a quiz about sustainability. Recyclebank members can learn about the Florida Keys as a vacation destination, and its natural resources and conservation efforts, at specially created pages including www.recyclebank.com/how-to-earn/details/learn-about-the-florida-keys-natural-resources-7905 and www.recyclebank.com/partner/the-florida-keys---key-west-com.The eco-engagement platform is free to join. Visit www.recyclebank.com.
Club Med sea and ski sale
More than 50 Club Med sun and snow resorts worldwide are offering the Sea and Ski Getaways sale, featuring seven-night all-inclusive escapes starting at only $888 per person. Families and couples can enjoy a getaway during popular winter and spring holiday dates, from Christmas to Easter, at properties in the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, China and more. To take advantage of these rates, guests must book by Oct. 29, 2013 for travel through May 2, 2014. Visit www.clubmed.us.
Cuban flavors in Fernandina Beach
Hola! Cuban Café recently opened on North 2nd Street behind the Palace Saloon in Fernandina Beach. Hola! features a menu of sandwiches, pastries and other traditional Cuban food. The Hola! Cuban Café not only has comfortable seating and a walk-up bar for its dining guests, but also delivers its full menu to three neighboring bars – the Dogstar Tavern, Green Turtle Tavern and Palace Saloon. Guests at the restaurant and all three bars can order signature specialties such as an authentic Cuban sandwich with slow roasted pork marinated in a citrus-garlic sauce. Hola! Cuban Café is open for lunch at 10:30 a.m. seven days a week and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Call 904-321-0163 or visit www.cubancafefernandinabeach.com.
Enjoying Aquatica in Orlando again and again after 2 p.m.
Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in Orlando has announced a deal that allows visitors to enjoy the park again and again. For the cost of a single day’s admission, guests can enjoy Aquatica after 2 p.m. throughout the rest of 2013. There are no blackout dates and guests enjoy unlimited admission after 2 p.m. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, After-2 p.m. Pass is $50 for children, ages 3-9, and $55 for adults. Visit www.AquaticaOrlando.com.
Beach wedding packages in Florida and Alabama
Big Day Weddings specializes in beach wedding packages in Florida and Alabama including such locales as Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola Beach. The company can handle every aspect of the wedding including ceremony and reception sites, lodging recommendations, catering, music, photography and more. Visit www.bigdayweddings.net.
Accolade for cruise line
Star Clippers was recently named among the Top Small-Ship Cruise Lines in Travel & Leisure magazine's 2013 World's Best Awards. The awards are voted on by the readers of the magazine, who select their favorite hotels, spas, airlines, cruise lines, outfitters, cities and islands around the world. Among other winners in the Small-Ship Cruise Line category were Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. Visit www.starclippers.coms.
Bike tour roster expanded
Bike Tours Direct has expanded its roster of trips in Asia for the winter 2013-2014 season. The company now offers 70 tours in 20 countries in Asia including programs for various budgets and ability levels. The company’s roster of tours in the Americas includes programs in Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Chile and Ecuador. Visit www.biketoursdirect.com.
Family-friendly Halloween festivities at Miami Seaquarium
Little ghosts and goblins can get set for fun at Miami Seaquarium’s kid-friendly Halloween Extravaganza - Monster Splash Daytime Splash & Nighttime Bash returning for its 19th year on Oct. 25-27 and 31, from 2 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. This year’s event features trick-or-treating at Sharky’s Sweet Tooth Station; kiddie rides and bounce houses at the Little Monsters Play Area; the Monsters in the Mangrove Haunted Walk; Flipper’s Dance Party and Halloween themed marine animal shows. Admission for the Daytime Splash is regular park admission which is $39.95 and $29.95 for children (ages 3-9). Admission price for the Nighttime Bash is $24.95 plus tax after 5:00 p.m. for adults, and $19.95 plus tax for children (ages 3 to 12 years) after 5:00 p.m. Visit www.miamiseaquarium.com.
Desmond Tutu onboard
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, is scheduled to lecture on a segment of Holland America Line’s 2014 Grand World Voyage on ms Amsterdam. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate will sail March 28 to April 2, 2014, from Durban to Cape Town, South Africa. Tutu will address passengers at two speaking engagements onboard about his role as the first black African to serve as archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 until his retirement in 1996, and about his work forging racial equality throughout the world. Rates for 20 to 86 day segments of the 113-day Grand World Voyage begin from $3,899 per person, double occupancy. The full voyage begins at $19,999 per person. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Redevelopment project at Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway’s proposed redevelopment project has been officially approved and ground was broken in July, with a targeted completion in January 2016. The project will feature new, larger seats, upgraded ticket gates and entrances, 40 escalators, 10 elevators and 11 football-field-sized, fan entertainment areas. Visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
New Jet Ski tour operator on Fernandina Beach
New Jet Ski tour operator Flying Fish Adventures recently opened on Fernandina Beach. Visitors can explore Amelia Island’s liquid assets with a guided Jet Ski tour of the Florida and Georgia coastline. Tours, led by a certified master naturalist, showcase the beauty of the Cumberland Island National Seashore, creeks winding through marsh prairies and the Intracoastal Waterway around Amelia Island. Visitors can choose from one-, two- or three-hour guided Jet Ski tours. One-hour tour costs $120 per Jet Ski; $15 extra for a passenger. Visit www.FlyingFishFun.com.
Resort fee? Find out what’s included
Travelers encountering a “resort fee” at their vacation property should always inquire not just the amount of the fee, but also what’s included to determine if it represents value to them. The new Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in southwest Florida, for example, charges a $15 per room, per night resort fee that includes water taxi rides to and from Fort Myers Beach; bike rentals; a kitchen including plates, silverware and cooking utensils and a number of weekly resort activities such as yoga or a guided butterfly bike ride. Visit www.westincapecoral.com.
New restaurant on Rosemary Beach
Havana Beach Bar & Grill recently opened at the 55-room The Pearl hotel in Rosemary Beach, on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The culinary program led by Executive Chef Michael Guerra features a fusion of the flavors and ingredients of the Gulf of Mexico coastline, Creole back country, Mexican fishing villages, and the soul of Cuba. Menu highlights include a classic corn chowder is accented with blue crab, house cured bacon, and Creole vegetables, and Shrimp N’ Grits featuring local Florida shrimp, crisp spicy ham, and Adluh South Carolina Stone Ground Grits. A riff on a classic, Havana Beach’s Mama’s Chicken Biscuits are made with farm raised fried chicken served alongside housemade buttermilk biscuits and The Pearl’s own artisan honey. Fresh local chilled seafood including Apalachicola oysters on the half shell, boiled fresh Florida shrimp, Florida little neck clams, and crab claws are also featured. Visit www.thepearlrb.com.
Pool transformation at Orlando resort
The Orlando World Center Marriott’s Falls Pool Oasis recently completed a multifaceted overhaul. Enrichments include a new Icon Slide Tower featuring two 200-foot winding waterslides and one, 90-foot speed waterslide. A Splash Zone offers kids a zero entry pool and playground as well as a Kid’s Activity Zone and Poolside Bar and Grill. Visit www.worldcentermarriott.com.
Itineraries for 2014 announced
In 2014, Disney Cruise Line will offer new itineraries, including an expanded collection of European cruises highlighting the Greek Isles. Plus, Disney Cruise Line will depart for the first time from homeports in Venice, Italy and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Among the highlights are Mediterranean sailings from Venice and Barcelona from May to August on the Disney Magic. During cruises that utilize Venice as a homeport, the ship will overnight there so guests can experience an evening in the legendary city. Disney Cruise Line also will visit new destinations in the Greek Isles and Sicily for the first time, including Katakolon, Rhodes, Heraklion (Crete), Santorini and Corfu, Greece and Catania, Sicily. New nine-night Mediterranean Greek Isles sailings include such ports as Katakolon (for Olympia), Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes, Mykonos and Venice (overnight). Departure dates are June 26 and July 5. Throughout the summer season, Disney Cruise Line will offer an array of European itineraries with a variety of cruise lengths and ports of call. MRates start at $796 per person for four-night cruises, $995 per person for five-night voyages, $1,015 per person for seven-night sailings, $1,827 per person for nine-night cruises and $2,388 for 12-night European voyages. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Girlfriend getaways in Orlando
Now through the end of the year, Orlando's Rosen Hotels & Resorts is offering a Girlfriends' Getaway Package for $65.99 per night at all four of Rosen Hotels & Resorts' value-priced, AAA Three Diamond properties, including the Quality Inn International (Rosen Inn International as of July 1), Rosen Inn closest to Universal, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista (LBV).
Girlfriends can spend their evenings enjoying the comfort of the Rosen leisure hotel of their choice, then spend their days visiting the 18 million gross square feet of retail space at the area's malls and more than 500 factory outlets. The Girls' Getaway package includes a shopping survival kit with coupons and samples upon check-in (while supplies last).
Complimentary daily scheduled shopping shuttles are available from the Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista to Orlando Premium Outlets and Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. The I-Ride Trolley is accessible at $1.25 per single fare or $4 for an all-day unlimited pass for guests of the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, Rosen Inn closest to Universal and Quality Inn International for shopping excursions to Pointe Orlando and Premium Outlets International Drive. Additional transportation options are available at all four hotels. Guests may also take advantage of the Buy One American Breakfast Buffet/Get One American Breakfast Free (one per stay) at all four hotels. And a Buy One Dinner/Get One Dinner Free offer (one per stay) is featured at Rosen Inn at Pointe, Quality Inn International and Clarion Inn LBV. Rosen Inn closest to Universal offers a Buy One Dinner /Get 50 percent off second entrée at Shogun Japanese Steakhouse. Each hotel also features a Kids Eat FREE program where children ages 9 and younger eat from the buffet at no charge with each paying adult (one child per adult). Visit www.orlandohotels4less.com/girlfriend. This Girlfriends’ Getaway Package rate is based on double occupancy and does not include tax. Not valid on existing reservations, for groups, during special events, holidays or conventions. This offer may not be combined with any other rate plan or discount.
No bad weather worries with Aruba package
Aruba is located outside of the hurricane belt, but for extra sunshine security, The Westin Resort & Casino is featuring Aruba’s "Hurricane Free Escape" package. Starting at $199 per room, per night, the offer features a $74 food and beverage credit (74 being the minimum wind speed of a Category 1 hurricane) if it rains for more than three consecutive hours on any day of a guest’s trip. Additional perks include accommodations in an ocean view guestroom and daily breakfast for two at Bon Bini Café. The offer is valid through Dec. 19. Rates are based on availability and do not include tax and service fees. One $74 credit per room, per stay, credited to the guest on the day(s) of rain during the daylight hours. Visit www.westinaruba.com/hurricane-guarantee-aruba. Rate plan is HURRICAN.
Makeover for the Crystal Serenity
Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity will receive a $17-million redesign this November. The redesign will include makeovers of the ship’s Crystal Penthouses (the line’s top accommodations) and Lido Deck, including the popular indoor/outdoor Trident Grill, Tastes restaurant, and Crystal Serenity’s Lido café. Building upon the success of Crystal Symphony’s "living wall" with its many plants, Crystal is expanding its green concept to the Lido area. Maintenance, cleaning, mechanical updates, and environmental upgrades will also be implemented throughout the ship’s interior and exterior spaces during the two-week dry dock at the Navantia Shipyard in Cádiz, Spain. Come November, Crystal will have spent $52 million on Crystal Serenity’s Extreme Makeover in the past two years and almost $120 million on the Extreme Makeover of its fleet in recent years. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Inaugural transatlantic sailing for Quantum of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International has announced that Quantum of the Seas will be making its inaugural eight-night westbound transatlantic voyage from Southampton on Nov. 2, 2014, arriving in the New York area at Cape Liberty Port, New Jersey, on Nov. 10. Quantum of the Seas will offer "firsts at sea" including a skydiving experience, an adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air and cutting-edge venues such as the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars and roller skating as well as the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever. Visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com/Quantum.
New itineraries announced
Celebrity Cruises has announced the next set of itineraries in "Celebrity’s World Tour." the brand's guest-inspired, destination-rich vacations to seven continents in 2014-15. Among the offerings are Asia and Australia sailings, offering vacationers more options and overnight stays in the region, with Celebrity Century complementing the itineraries presented on Celebrity Solstice in Australia and Celebrity Millennium in Asia. Visit www.celebritycruises.com.
Another ship to call at Banana Coast
Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-passenger Riviera is scheduled to call at Banana Coast, the first mainland cruise destination in Honduras in March 2015. The 66,000-ton Riviera, which debuted in May 2012, is the largest and newest member of Oceania's fleet. The mid-size luxury vessel features a country club-casual ambiance with an emphasis on gourmet dining, well-appointed accommodations and shipboard enrichment experiences. Themed "Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea," the $30 million Banana Coast project is the newest cruise destination in the western Caribbean. Construction on the passenger-reception and shopping center was completed in February and a full slate of shore excursions has been designed. Future plans call for construction of a two-berth, post-Panamax pier. In March 2012 Banana Coast developers unveiled a diverse shore excursion program that includes cultural, historical, soft-adventure and eco-tour offerings. Last November, luxury operator Silversea Cruises was the first line to commit to calling at Banana Coast, in December 2014. In May, Banana Coast announced the signing of Holland America Line, the first cruise line to schedule a series calls at the port, beginning in November 2014. Visit www.bananacoast.com.
Miami Vices New Year’s escape at Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove
The 1980s were Miami’s most decadent decade, and The Mayfair Hotel & Spa was ground-zero when the global TV phenomenon Miami Vice introduced the world to a whole new Miami destination. 2014 is a big year for both The Mayfair and Miami Vice, their 30th anniversaries. To celebrate, the Coconut Grove landmark hotel kicks off its yearlong "Miami Vices" special offers and celebrations with a New Year’s package rejoicing in the fun and sun that made the 1980s television show so sensational. The hotel has recently completed more than $10 million in renovations, just in time to announce its first "Miami Vices" offering, a New Year’s escape that screams Vice: three nights in a Mayfair Suite with a private terrace, and a Japanese Soaking Tub built for two. Those in need for speed can step on the gas in a vintage Ferrari, and thunder across Biscayne Bay aboard an original Miami Vice Speedboat, just like the speedsters from Miami Vice scenes. Other features include being cast in a take-home commemorative Miami Vice video, for posting on social media and to share with friends; a historic tour of 1980s Miami Vice locations, and a Miami nightlife tour; a couples’ massage at one of the Mayfair’s rooftop poolside cabanas; and flamingo-colored 1980s gift bags, including Ray Ban sunglasses, The Complete Series DVD package of Miami Vice, and soundtrack CDs. The New Year’s package starts at $4,000 is subject to availability and to the Mayfair Hotel’s booking terms and conditions. Two week’s advance reservations required. Any modifications or cancellations must be done at least 48 hours prior to the date of arrival to avoid cancellation penalties. Offer components, unless otherwise noted, are not transferable or redeemable for cash and cannot be applied towards future stays. Not valid with group bookings and cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. To book a Miami Vices New Years Escape, call "Vice" specialists at 305-441-0000.
"Mini-Moon" in Miami
EPIC Hotel Miami is one of Kimpton’s properties offering "Mini-Moon Packages" for couples who have time constraints but still want a honeymoon. The EPIC’S three-night program, with rates starting at $2,579, includes full daily breakfast with bottomless Mimosas for two (gratuity and tax not included); welcome bottle of champagne; daily poolside cabana with fruit and water; one three-course dinner for two at Marina Café with a bottle of wine (gratuity and tax not included); couples Fusion Massage at Exhale Spa (gratuity not included); two Mind Body classes of choice at Exhale Spa; Edible Turndown (couple chooses the night); and other features. The package is available for booking and travel now through Oct. 31. Visit www.epichotel.com and use booking code MOON.
Packages for food and wine festival in Lake Buena Vista
The Fourth Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, on Oct. 18-19, showcases more than 40 and beverage stations, along with nine seminars conducted by members of the hotel’s food and beverage team. Highlighting the event will be the appearance of celebrity chef Todd English. One- and two-night packages including tickets to the outdoor festival for two and overnight accommodations are offered, starting at $300 per night. Advance purchase event-only tickets are available for $85 including taxes and include unlimited food and beverage samples on the causeway. Beverage seminars are $45 per person, per class including taxes. A Pasta seminar is $60 per person including taxes. Visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com.
New drop tower coming to Busch Gardens Tampa
In spring 2014 Busch Gardens Tampa will unveil the drop tower, Falcon’s Fury, reportedly, the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America with no connecting structures. Inspired by the bird of prey’s hunting dive and speeds of 200 mph, the attraction will stand at 335 feet and take riders soaring 60 mph straight down. Located in the park’s Timbuktu area, Falcon’s Fury will be visible from any location in the park and even across the Tampa Bay area. At the ride’s highest point Busch Gardens has added an element of surprise. Like its bird of prey namesake, riders will pivot 90 degrees in midair to a face-down dive position. An instant later they'll plunge 60 mph at 3.5 Gs straight down. Oh, my! Visit www.FalconsFury.com.
Fundraiser at sea
Thousands of Disney Cruise Line guests and crew members recently volunteered their time on all four Disney ships to take part in the first "AquaDucky Derby" rubber duck races in the ships’ pools and famous water coasters to raise nearly $14,000 for Make-A-Wish International. The events saluted the 30th anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program, which provides opportunities for Disney cast and crew members to donate their time to worthy causes around the world. The one-of-a-kind fundraiser brought together crew members and guests, who purchased yellow rubber ducks to decorate and then enter in a water-filled race aboard the ships. Races took place in Goofy’s Pool on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, while those onboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy utilized the AquaDuck, the first water coaster at sea exclusive to Disney Cruise Line. All funds raised from the duck sales were donated to Make-A-Wish International, an organization that grants wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions in 48 countries outside of the U.S. Since the first-ever official wish experience 32 years ago, Disney has helped grant more than 81,000 wishes globally and is involved in nearly 50 percent of the wishes granted each year. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
New boutique hotel in Rosemary Beach
The Pearl, a new 55-room luxury hotel in Rosemary Beach is adding to the variety of accommodations available throughout South Walton. Each of the 55 guest rooms and suites features a private balcony, in-room spa products, Apple TV and DirecTV and an iPad integrated with interactive guest services. Other amenities include two restaurants, complimentary morning and afternoon refreshments, private cabanas and poolside service. Visit www.ThePearlRB.com.
Yacht charter company announces new destinations for 2014
The Moorings, a global yacht charter company that features sailing vacations in the Ionian Sea off Greece, along the Croatian Coast, throughout the Windward Islands of the Caribbean among others, has unveiled new destinations across the Mediterranean for the 2014 cruising season including Vounaki, Greece; Kremik, Croatia; and Turgutreis and Fethiye, Turkey. The decision to open these new cruising locations was heavily influenced by customer responses to where they want to spend their vacations. Visit www.moorings.com.
Tennis players and fans alike can experience play and instruction with Seagate Tennis Week at The Seagate Country Club in Delray Beach, Florida. Scheduled to run Sunday, Oct. 6 through Saturday, Oct. 12, the pro-am tennis festival will mix match play, clinics and social events hosted by formerly top-ranked pros with accommodation at The Seagate Hotel & Spa. Seagate Tennis Week includes six days of play and instructional clinics. The Week will be hosted by "Fiery" Fred Stolle, an International Hall of Famer ranked #1 in the world in 1966 and #7 on the All-Time List of Champions; Tennis Hall of Famer Owen "Davo" Davidson, winner of four mixed-doubles titles in 1967 and one of only 12 people in the history of tennis to win a personal Grand Slam; and Dennis Grainger, Director of Tennis at The Seagate Country Club, a former nationally ranked player with myriad singles and doubles title wins in Florida. Tennis Week will feature daily games and practice sessions; daily stroke-and-strategy clinics; pro doubles exhibitions; and guest tournaments including team competitions and doubles matches. Cocktail receptions, fine dining and seaside beach fun will fill the week as well, with events scheduled at Atlantic Grille at The Seagate Hotel & Spa; The Seagate Beach Club; and at The Seagate Country Club. Rates start at $6,700 double occupancy or $6,000 single occupancy for a stay of six nights/seven days in deluxe accommodations at The Seagate Hotel & Spa. A $1,000 deposit is required to secure all reservations. Alcoholic beverages are not included. Rates also include a cocktail reception on Sunday evening, three meals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday and Thursday (guests are free to explore The Seagate's dining options or nearby restaurants), and breakfast on Saturday prior to checkout. Visit www.theseagatehotel.com.
Or perhaps, petanque, anyone?
Seaside recently unveiled an addition to its recreational offerings with a new Petanque Park. Petanque, a game that originated in France, is cousin to horseshoes and bocce and the objective is to toss or roll hollow metal balls ("boules") as close as possible to a small wooden ball ("cochonnet"). The park, next to Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar, 2236 E County Highway 30A, is available to everyone free of charge, though players must bring their own equipment to play. Visit www.seasidefl.com.
One-of-a-kind port adventures in Jamaica
Disney Cruise Line invites families to explore Jamaica with one-of-a-kind Port Adventures featuring exclusive Disney touches when the Disney Wonder calls on Falmouth in late 2013 for the first time. As part of its Signature Collection Port Adventures, Disney Cruise Line worked with local tour operators to create excursions that offer families authentic cultural experiences with exclusive activities for Disney Cruise Line guests. For example, bamboo raft rides along the Martha Brae River offer exceptional views of the island’s lush tropical scenery and are a popular activity among cruise line guests. With Disney, cruisers have the unique opportunity to become a bamboo raft captain, learning how to build the raft and navigate the waters. Just outside Falmouth, one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns, guests are immersed in history and culture at an 18th century Great House. Exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, families may enjoy a hands-on pottery painting activity hosted by a local artist. On another tour at the Great House, Disney cruisers become detectives, solving clues around the plantation to experience a multitude of thrills, including kayaking, tubing and zip lining. Disney Cruise Line will visit Jamaica with new itineraries departing from Galveston, Texas beginning Oct. 5, 2013. The new seven-night Western Caribbean sailings will call on Falmouth, Jamaica, as well as Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
South Beach savings for Florida residents
The Beacon Hotel in South Beach offers Sunshine State residents three ways to save on a "staycation." Florida residents who book a stay on Friday and/or Saturday save 10 percent and get free parking (on year-round travel); those who book Monday-Thursday save 15 percent (on year-round travel); and those who book any night save 20 percent and receive two complimentary mojitos (but must travel by Nov. 30). Visit www.beaconsouthbeach.com.
JetBlue loyalty program miles don’t expire
JetBlue Airways has announced that TrueBlue members will be able to earn and keep points without the fear of expiration due to account inactivity. JetBlue's rewards program for frequent fliers takes a further step beyond traditional programs, allowing customers to keep their points for as long as they want. There’s no fine print, no more details to remember. Visit www.jetblue.com.
World cruise for 2015 announced
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has opened the books on its World Cruise for 2015. This grandest of travel adventures begins on Jan. 5, 2015, when the all-suite Silver Whisper is set to embark on a 115-day voyage embracing the cultures of five continents, 30 countries and 50 destinations. Departing Los Angeles with no more than 382 guests on board, Silver Whisper will sail the South Pacific to explore the idyllic isles of French Polynesia, then head west to the scenic wonders of Australia, and north to the marvels of the South China Sea. From there, the journey continues to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and across the Indian Ocean to the glistening sands of the Seychelles. Silver Whisper then traces a course to some of Africa's most intriguing destinations, including Mombasa, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Walvis Bay and Dakar. The voyage concludes with a leisurely Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale, highlighted by stopovers in the sunny Caribbean islands of St. Lucia, St. Bart's and Puerto Rico. Late-night departures are featured in eight ports, plus overnight calls in Papeete, Sydney, Fremantle, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Singapore, Mombasa, and Cape Town. Silversea is offering guests the option to extend their World Cruise by adding a pre-cruise Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles (17 days), or continue on board from Fort Lauderdale to New York (3 days) or Southampton (15 days).
Full World Cruise guests will enjoy a variety of special amenities, including a gala Bon Voyage reception, dinner and overnight stay at a luxury hotel, baggage valet service, complimentary Business Class air (or air credit) and transfers (between home, airport, and Silver Whisper), a $4,000 onboard spending credit (per suite), complimentary laundry service, Internet package and commemorative gifts. For guests sailing the full 115 days, there will also be two complimentary Silversea Experiences, including one in Walvis Bay, offering the rare opportunity to dine under the stars in the Namib Desert, plus three exclusive complimentary World Cruise shoreside events. These include a cocktail reception and evening performance at Sydney's famous Opera House, and a journey by vintage train in Sri Lanka to explore the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, renowned for its conservancy work. Plus, guests will be treated to a tour of Cape Town's Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, followed by a visit to the historic Résidence de France for a lunch set in its beautiful garden, with Table Mountain providing a backdrop. Fares for World Cruise 2015 start at $58,950 per person, based on double occupancy. Segments are available. Visit www.Silversea.com/worldcruise2015.
Accolade for Jacksonville/St. Augustine resort
The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in Jacksonville/St. Augustine has received the prestigious "2013 Certificate of Excellence" from TripAdvisor, which is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travelers. The award places the resort in the top-performing 10 percent of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor. Visit www.renwgv.com.
New alternative restaurant on Queen Victoria
A new alternative dining venue, The Verandah, has opened aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria. The 100-seat alternative dining venue replaces the Todd English Restaurant and is based on the same concept as the popular and award-wining Verandah Restaurant on Queen Elizabeth, with a slightly different menu and a sophisticated, contemporary and relaxed theme. The Verandah menu has been created by Chef Patron Jean-Marie Zimmermann, global culinary ambassador for Cunard Line, who is also a Michelin-starred chef. A particular highlight of the menu is Carpaccio of Smoked Beef with Marinated Aubergine, Quail’s Egg and Truffle Mayonnaise, which combines pairings of flavors with theatrical touches: the dish is served under a glass cloche filled with scented smoke. The Todd English Restaurant, offering a taste of the Mediterranean, will remain the alternative dining venue aboard Queen Mary 2, as befits her iconic Transatlantic Crossings and more even mix of British and American passengers. Visit www.cunard.com.
Theme cruise from Miami
Artful Travelers has announced a sailing Exploring NOVA, the highest-rated science series on television and the most-watched documentary series on public television. Onboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ all-suite Seven Seas Mariner, the 14-night travel experience will sail from Miami on Jan. 25 and arrive in Lima, Peru on Feb. 8. Ports of call include Curacao, Aruba, Colombia and Ecuador. Throughout the journey, private dinners, receptions and shore excursions will allow for one-to-one conversations with PBS and NPR personalities as well as special guests. The adventure will feature leading speakers participating in panel discussions and presentations in the areas of science, politics, culture, current events, the arts and more. Fares include airfare, unlimited shore excursions, beverages including wines and spirits, pre-paid gratuities, ground transfers and more, begin at $9,749 per person, double. and can be booked calling 855-788-7880 or a favorite travel agent.
Spa package in Hollywood
In celebration of the recent opening of the Heavenly Spa by Westin at The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, the resort has launched The Heavenly Spa Package. Starting at $325 per night, the package (valid through the rest of the year) offers 34 percent savings including accommodations, choice of a Heavenly Spa Signature Massage or Balance Facial, per room per night's stay (a $140 value), spa Gratuity included (typically 20 percent). Visit www.diplomatresort.com and use rate plan LCPKG1.
SeaWorld’s 50th celebration
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has announced a multi-park celebration to commemorate a key event in the company’s history: The original SeaWorld park opened its gates for the first time in March 1964 on Mission Bay in San Diego. SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration will feature a Sea of Surprises starting March 21. SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio will share the excitement throughout an 18-month celebration that highlights some of the most memorable SeaWorld experiences. As part of the celebration, there will be more surprise encounters with animal ambassadors throughout the day. A pair of Magellanic penguins, a lemur, or even a parade of flamingos could surprise guests at any moment at all three SeaWorld locations, and a "Surprise Squad" will roam the SeaWorld parks giving away prizes and special gifts. Guests could receive exclusive access to rides or behind-the-scenes experiences, celebration t-shirts or Shamu-themed merchandise, reserved show seating and more. SeaWorld is known for animal shows and each park will have something new for the 50th celebration. Even park pathways will come to life with spontaneous entertainment at unexpected moments, including performers with sea-inspired costumes and props, a bubble brigade and splash mob. To underscore SeaWorld’s commitment to the environment and passion for protecting the ocean, a series of giant sea life sculptures will be displayed throughout the parks. SeaWorld commissioned environmental art group Washed Ashore for the large-scale art created from ocean debris. The works serve as a reminder that our animal friends need healthy environments. Visit www.seaworld.com/celebration.
Local ice cream flavors in Winter Park
Lu Lu's Ice Cream Shop recently opened in Winter Park, serving locally produced ice cream flavors. Owners Mark and Melanie Porter renovated a former barbecue shack into a whimsical cottage for their storefront. Visit www.facebook.com/LuLusIceCreamShop.
Vieques Island Pride program
The W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island has introduced the "W Pride Package Experience" starting at $375 nightly for a three-night stay in one of the most untouched corners of the Caribbean. For travel through November 8th, 2013, the "W Pride Package Experience" includes three nights in one of W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island’s eclectically designed guest rooms, one WET® poolside Cabana reservation, a "Summer Away Massage" at AWAY Spa inclusive of a private consultation prior to the treatment and 50 percent off any additional treatment, two welcome Mojitos in the property’s Living Room, a late 2:00 p.m. check-out. Vieques Island is eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico on Vieques Island, making it a private retreat for LGBT travelers and advocates. Rate code is WPRIDE1. Visit www.wvieques.com.
Angus beef brand steaks at sea
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced serve Certified Angus Beef® brand steaks, are available in Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro French restaurant on 10 Norwegian ships, including the new Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Spirit are slated to begin serving these steaks by August. Guests can choose from a variety of premium cuts, ranging from a 14-ounce dry-aged center-cut strip loin to an 18-ounce bone-in ribeye. Additional offerings include an eight-ounce center-cut filet and a 16-ounce boneless ribeye. Guests can also customize their Certified Angus Beef ® steak with an array of seasonings and signature sauces including garlic butter, gorgonzola-crusted, chimichurri, green peppercorn and more. Cagney’s Steakhouse serves all of the selected cuts, while Le Bistro offers the eight-ounce center-cut filet. Visit www.ncl.com.
The holidays on a tall ship
Star Clippers features five holiday sailings for those looking to leave the cooking and decorating behind this upcoming holiday season and embark on a tall ship. The sail dates are Royal Clipper's Dec. 21, sailing in the Caribbean; Star Clipper's Dec. 21 and 28 departures in the Caribbean and Star Flyer's Dec. 22 and 29 Costa Rica cruises. Holidays are a special time on board Star Clippers ships, and each vessel serves special seasonal dinners. Guests can await a visit from Santa, who tends to arrive not by sleigh, but via zodiac boat. The line also endeavors to be in port on New Year's Eve so guests can enjoy a fireworks celebration. Visit www.starclippers.com.
A "grand" New Year’s Eve
Uncommon Journeys has announced an itinerary for a New Year’s celebration at the Grand Canyon. The eight-day journey features one morning on the historic Grand Canyon Railway for a scenic train ride bound for the South Rim, without the crowds of summer. The trip finale will include a three-night stay at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The holiday takes place from Dec. 29, 2013 through Jan. 5, 2014 and includes stops in Winslow, Ariz.; Williams, Ariz.; The Grand Canyon National Park; and Las Vegas. Fares begin at $1,195 per person. Visit, www.uncommonjourneys.com.
Florida residents' animal encounter deal at Miami Seaquarium
Sunshine state residents are in for a special dolphin, seal and reef encounter deal. Starting Sept. 3rd through Dec. 12, Florida residents can enjoy up to 30 percent off animal encounter programs at Miami Seaquarium including dolphin interaction programs at Dolphin Harbor, Seal Swim and the Sea Trek Reef Encounter. This Florida resident discount fee includes same day admission to the park. Proof of Florida residency is required. Visit www.MiamiSeaquarium.com/Flresident.
Spa package in Miami
The JW Marriott Marquis Miami is offering the Enliven Me Spa Package For Two. The program includes rose-oil infused 50 minute Swedish massage, rose petal warm bath soak in the privacy of a couples suite, breakfast buffet in 345 Restaurant, and complimentary late check out. Rates are from $509 to $639 and the package is valid through Dec. 31. Visit www.JWMarriottMarquisMiami.com and click on the "Deals and Promotions" tab and use booking code ES8.
Pick your perks at popular Florida wedding destinations
Helping couples say 'I Do' in style, Kimpton's three Florida hotels, EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami; Surfcomber Miami, South Beach; and Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, have launched the Pick Your Perks wedding program giving soon-to-be newlyweds more options including a massage for the bride and groom, among the perks to choose from to customize the "big day." The Pick Your Perks weddings offers at EPIC, Surfcomber, and Vero Beach Hotel & Spa are available now through October 31. Restrictions and blackout dates may apply. For full terms, conditions and details, please visit each hotel's individual website – www.EPICHotel.com; www.Surfcomber.com; and www.VeroBeachHotelandSpa.com.
Vacationing like a VIP in Fort Lauderdale
W Fort Lauderdale is featuring the Vacation Like a VIP offer starting at $269 per night. The deal includes complimentary upgrade to a guest room featuring unrivaled ocean views, $100 resort credit for dinner at Stephen Starr's STEAK954, unwind at Bliss Spa or get a new look at Ted Gibson Salon, complimentary valet parking (for one set of wheels), $25 American Express Gift Card, Super Summer Savings card with two-for-one offers at more than 20 participating attractions, spas, golf courses, restaurants and dive operators. Visit www.wfortlauderdalehotel.com. The offer is valid through Sept. 30. Mention rate code VACVIP. Two-night minimum stay required.
Cruises to "bucket list" destinations
SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream II will be visiting secluded ports and small harbors on two 13-day itineraries, "Mystic Malaysia & Myanmar" departing from Singapore Nov. 25, and "Mystic Myanmar & Malaysia" beginning Dec. 8 in Phuket, Thailand. A highlight of both itineraries will be two full days to explore Yangon, Myanmar, with expert guides. Fully inclusive yachting fares begin at $7,199, based on double occupancy. Visit www.SeaDream.com.
Summer voyage collection
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has unveiled its new Summer 2014 Collection featuring more than 60 itineraries in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska, New England, Canada and the Caribbean on its three all-suite ships: Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Voyager. The ships will visit 17 new ports of call, overnight in 19 popular destinations and sail 23 Extended Voyages from 19 to 44 nights. All sailings include two-for-one fares, bonus savings of up to $15,000 per suite and free roundtrip business class air for penthouse suites and higher on European voyages. Visit www.rssc.com.
Steamboat brochure for 2014 available
The American Queen Steamboat Company has introduced its 2014 brochure available for download online at www.aqsc.com. The new brochure, also being mailed to travel partners and past guests, includes the lineup of 2014 sailings and highlights inclusive and premium shore excursions for the newly added American Empress. Calling its homeport Portland, Ore., the vessel will launch in April of 2014 and provide a number of ways to explore the Pacific Northwest along the veins of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. From wine-tasting to zip-lining, this variety of shore excursions will provide an unforgettable experience for guests. Each destination offers complimentary Hop-on/Hop-off Tours or Premium Experience Excursions that are available with advanced bookings on the American Empress. Ports of call include Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Sacajawea State Park, Wash.; Clarkston, Wash.; and Portland Ore.
Kids going back to school? Time for parents to recover
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is offering a Summer Recovery Package that includes a choice of three treatments with rates starting at $149. The new Mokara Spa offers a retreat and the signature treatments and products of the acclaimed spa brand. Mokara entices guests to discover a new level of relaxation, enjoying signature services, premium spa treatments and professional spa services in a serene and sophisticated environment. Visit www.omniorlandoresort.com.
Weatherproof Puerto Rico, please
La Concha Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico has introduced a Weather Proof package. And what better time to plan a fall getaway in the face of an imminent Labor Day holiday and the hurricane season in full swing, than with La Concha’s “risk-free sun-spree” guarantee? The special promotion offers the fourth night free and is waiving the cancellation fee. If it does rain, guests can pour themselves 50 percent off on local beer and retreat to their ocean-front guestroom for a movie night. The Weather Proof package includes fourth night free, cancellation fee waived, ocean-front room, hurricane glass gift (guests who use glass during their stay obtain a 50 percent off on local beer refill), 15 percent discount on all food and beverage purchases, and one in-room movie per stay. Rate code: FLP or call directly at 787-977-3399. Rates start at $229 per night. This offer is available for booking until Sept. 30, for stays through Oct. 31. Minimum four-night stay required. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or booked reservation, and is not available for 10 rooms or more. Rate and promotion are subject to availability. Visit www.laconcharesort.com.
Free dining plan at Disney World
Guests who purchase a non-discounted six-night/seven-day Magic Your Way Package at select Walt Disney Resort hotels receive a free dining plan for use during travel this fall. Booking must be made now through Sept. 15 for the following dates: Sept. 29-Oct. 2; Oct. 18-Nov. 2; Nov. 11-23 and Dec. 12-Dec. 22. Guests can save up to 30 percent on stays at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, valid for stays on most nights (with a variety of dates available, guests can save on their stays now until December. For travel Sept. 29-Nov. 9: book by Sept. 15; for travel Nov. 10-22 and Nov. 30-Dec. 23: book by Nov. 3. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Art and algorithms on the Space Coast
The Space Coast features a new event this fall: downtown Titusville will turn into a digital space when it hosts the Art & Algorithms festival from Oct. 4 through Oct. 13. This 10-day arts festival will highlight creative pieces that intersect art and technology. The festival will also feature two artists from the United Kingdom, Martin Richardson and Clifton Stewart. Also on the agenda are movies, and hands-on digital and interactive exhibits and more. A Full Festival Pass is $25 per adult (10 day pass); Single Day Pass is $10 per day per adult; children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a paid adult. For the film festival, visitors can access all film screenings (90 films from more than 30 different countries) using the Full Festival Pass, or pay $5 per screening. Visit www.artandalgorithms.com.
Paddling in Florida
Paddle Florida leads trips in different seasons and regions of the state, from the hardwood forests of the Panhandle to the mangrove islands of the Florida Keys. Fees for all trips include camping, a t-shirt, a boat decal, maps, evening entertainment, water descriptions, full vehicle support for all gear, and meals (if meal plan is purchased). Among the offerings is the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail on Oct. 12-17. The trip covers 73 miles from Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park to Branford. Registration is $275 per adult; $250 per senior, $225 per youth 8-17/college student; children ages 7 and under are free. Meals are $150 per person. Visit www.paddleflorida.org.
New Winter Park restaurant
Hamilton’s Kitchen, a new restaurant and lounge located at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park, is slated to open in August. Guests will experience the sights, sounds and aromas of food being prepared as they enter the early 1900’s themed restaurant. Visit www.thealfondinn.wordpress.com/hamilton-kitchen.
American Queen Steamboat Company expands
The American Queen Steamboat Company, owner and operator of the U.S-flagged American Queen, has announced the purchase of the Empress of the North from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) for an undisclosed amount. To be renamed the American Empress, the vessel is scheduled to resume sailings on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest April 2014 calling her homeport Portland, Ore. The American Empress will deliver riverboat opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake American Queen. A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore. and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash. The American Empress was built in 2002 and operated by Majestic America Line from 2002 to 2008, sailing Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest. Visit www.AQSC.com.
Celebrating 100 anniversary of Cunard ship
A highlight of Cunard Line’s 2014 voyage program will be the overnight stay of the Queen Victoria in Liverpool, England, in May – the first two-day call in Cunard's spiritual home made by a Cunard ship in almost 50 years. Taking place during her 13-day Around the British Isles cruise, departing roundtrip Southampton on May 23 2014, Queen Victoria will arrive in Liverpool on May 30. That day she will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Maiden Voyage of Aquitania – a Cunard legend that became known as the “Ship Beautiful.” The largest liner in the world at the time of her May 30 1914 Maiden Voyage, Aquitania is considered one of the most beautiful liners ever built. She became one of the longest-serving Cunarders in history – 36 years – and was the only major liner to serve in both World Wars. In fact, Sir Winston Churchill credited her and her two contemporaries, the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, with shortening World War II by a year. The service length and miles sailed (three million) of Aquitania were both only surpassed by Cunard’s iconic Queen Elizabeth 2. On May 30 2014, Queen Victoria will remain in port for a rare overnight stay in Liverpool, the city that was Cunard’s original home port for much of the line’s early history, before continuing on her Around the British Isles cruise. She will also call at South Queensferry, Invergordon, Kirkwall (maiden call), Greenock, Dublin, Cobh and St. Peter Port before arriving back in Southampton on June 5 2014. Greenock on the Clyde also has a close connection with Aquitania, as the ship was built at the John Brown Shipyard located there. Additionally, when Queen Victoria arrives in Cobh, an earlier Cunard ship, Lusitania, will be remembered for her loss in World War I, as is becoming the custom when Cunard ships call there. Fares for the May 23 2014 Around the British Isles voyage start from $2,699 per person, double. Visit www.Cunard.com/2014voyages.
Volunteer project in Costa Rica
Projects Abroad offers volunteers opportunities to promote small business growth and financial independence in communities in the developing world through small loan initiatives in Costa Rica, Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania. To date, 40 volunteers from 14 different countries have signed up to volunteer abroad on these projects since Projects Abroad established its first Microfinance project in Senegal in August of 2012. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad specializes in arranging service projects and medical and legal internships in the developing world. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels can travel to volunteer abroad on a wide variety of projects from a few weeks to a few months. The newest projects are in Ghana and Costa Rica, where the first volunteers are currently working to develop the programs. In Ghana, volunteers help support women who sell goods in local markets. In Costa Rica, volunteers mentor local entrepreneurs receiving funding through a government program. Find out how to volunteer abroad on a Projects Abroad Microfinance project at www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/international-development.
Princess Cruises has announced its 2014-15 Exotics program to ports in Asia and Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Tahiti & the South Pacific, and South America – plus even a special connoisseur itinerary in the Caribbean. The lineup also includes Princess’ first-ever World Cruise sailing roundtrip from North America and additional capacity in Tahiti & the South Pacific. In total, the fall 2014 to spring 2015 program spans six continents and calls to more than 145 worldwide destinations. Eight ships will cover the globe with 114 departures of 37 itinerary options. Among the offerings is the 14-day Caribbean Connoisseur voyage on the Ocean Princess over the holidays sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Barts, Martinique and Virgin Gorda on December 19, 2014. Visit www.princess.com.
Baseball package in Miami
Kimpton's Miami hotels -- EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami and Surfcomber Miami, South Beach -- are offering a seasonal package to baseball fans. With rates starting at $209 per night at EPIC and $209 per night at Surfcomber, the Baseball for All package includes 15 percent off best available rate, complimentary morning coffee and tea, nightly hosted wine hour and inclusive perks with complimentary access to the hotel's fitness center, WiFi when guests sign up to become a Kimpton Intouch member. The Baseball for All package is available for stays now through Sept. 30. Restrictions and blackout dates may apply. Visit www.epichotel.com and www.surfcomber.com. Use booking code BASES for both EPIC and Surfcomber.
Labor Day doesn't mean the end of summer in Delray Beach
Crane's BeachHouse Hotel & Tiki Bar in Delray Beach, which is now offering two new packages that will enable visitors to extend their vacation opportunities beyond Labor Day through the end of September. The hotel is offering two new summer-extending vacation packages for singles, couples and families. The Family Fun-Fun-Fun package, for two adults and two children, provides accommodations for two nights in a suite with full kitchen. Special amenities include 18 holes of mini golf at Putt'n Around, two DVD rentals from the hotel's in-house film collection, a Movie Snack Pack, complimentary parking and in-room WiFi. (package starts at $329). The Affordable Luxury package includes a one- or two-night stay in a one-bedroom suite. Amenities include a pitcher of homemade Sangria and a $50 gift certificate to Deck 84 waterfront dining in Delray Beach (package is $189 for one night, $319 for two nights). Visit www.cranesbeachhouse.com.
The Orlando World Center Marriott that recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation is featuring a Splash into Summer special with savings up to 50 percent off peak season. Rates start at $144 per night, bookable now until Sept. 30. Visit www.marriottworldcenter.com.
New ocean cruise line
Viking Cruises, known for river cruising, has announced the launch of its ocean product line, Viking Ocean Cruises, marking the introduction of the travel industry's first new cruise line in nearly a decade. Developed from the ground up to focus on the destination, Viking Ocean Cruises will begin sailing in May 2015 with its first vessel—Viking Star—embarking on maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. Viking Cruises has aggressive expansion plans in both the ocean and river cruise categories, with a second ocean ship on order for delivery in 2016 and conditional orders and options for four more additional ocean vessels. The ocean ship order follows the company's continued rapid fleet expansion in the river cruise sector, with 10 new river ships recently christened in March of this year and 12 new river ships planned to launch in 2014. Visit www.vikingcruises.com/oceans.
Eco-tours that give back
Florida-based Terra Incognita Eco-Tours features guided adventure programs to such destinations as Rwanda, Brazil, Belize, India and Kenya that give back to the communities they visit. A percentage of each participant's tour cost goes directly and immediately to a conservation partner in the areas visited. Visit www.ecotours.com.
Sailings to the Americas
Princess Cruises has opened the books on its Americas program for 2014-15 -- including Caribbean, Panama Canal, Canada & New England and West Coast cruises. The new sailings include Regal Princess' debut in the Caribbean as well as Royal Princess' first cruises to Canada & New England roundtrip from New York. On the West Coast, new roundtrip sailings from Vancouver add another departure port for Hawaii and California Coastal cruises, and Crown Princess, the line's newest ship on the West Coast, will offer its first full season sailing from Los Angeles. In total, 11 ships will sail on 355 departures of 46 itineraries to more than 70 destinations. In the Caribbean, passengers can choose vacations from three to 28 days, with roundtrips from Ft. Lauderdale and Houston. West Coast cruises sail from Los Angeles, San Francisco and now Vancouver to Hawaii, Mexico, the South Pacific, and along the California coast. For the first time Royal Princess will take passengers to Canada & New England, becoming the line's largest ship sailing on these fall foliage cruises, joining Ruby Princess, also new to cruising the Eastern Seaboard. And Princess will continue in Panama Canal cruising aboard favorite ships Coral Princess and Island Princess. Visit www.princess.com.
Delray Beach offers
The Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach has announced deals for teachers and Florida State residents valid through Sept. 30. Teachers and educators receive 20 percent off room rate and spa treatments and reduced $10 valet parking (offer valid on any room type; minimum one-night stay required. Valid Teacher ID required. The Florida Resident Getaway features 10 percent off room rate, $25 gas credit and one night complimentary parking. Valid on any room type; minimum one-night stay required. Valid Florida ID required. Summer rates start at $179 per night in courtyard accommodations. Visit www.theseagatehotel.com.
Complimentary evening programs ashore
Azamara Club Cruises has introduced AzAmazing Evenings, events ashore that are complimentary for all guests. The evening events reflect the culture and nightlife of various destinations showcasing surprising and delightful colors and flavors. The cruise line's philosophy of destination immersion is reflected in Azamara's voyages, which all feature late-night departures and overnight port stays at a destination, some for up to three days. Guests can revel in a destination's nightlife, dining and entertainment plus enjoy an AzAmazing Evenings event, which offers experiences to suit a variety of culture-seekers. An example of an AzAmazing Evening on the Oct. 1 voyage of the Azamara Journey roundtrip from Rome, Italy, for instance, is the Tuscan Flavors & Three Tenors Concert in the Tuscan countryside on Oct. 2. Passengers' destination: two hilltop castles overlooking the picturesque Greve Valley, the perfect setting for a romantic operatic performance by three tenors. Guests will also be treated to a Tuscan feast of local meats, pasta, pecorino cheese and more, each course paired with a classic Tuscan wine. Visit www.AzamaraClubCruises.com.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Visitors to Disney Parks who would like their makeup to evoke Snow White, the Evil Queen or other Disney characters like Cinderella and Ariel, now have a tool at their disposal: the new line of cosmetics and beauty products for women, Beautifully Disney. The character inspired collection is the first of its kind for Disney Parks and has been developed to evoke the spirit, beauty, and fantasy of Disney. Beautifully Disney provides a rich color collection for lip, eyes, and nail and through character and storytelling on the cosmetic packaging, Disney Parks guests are able to choose from their favorite films and characters in various moods. Coordinating cosmetic bags and beauty tools round out the initial Beautifully Disney collection. Lip gloss in such colors as "Love's First Kiss" and "Poisoned Apple" costs $14.95 Beautifully Disney is available at select retail locations including Tren-D at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista and Disney Vault 28 at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Ca. Visit www.DisneyParks.com.
Endless summer offer in Orlando
Orlando World Center Marriott invites families to slide-in and chill-out with an "Endless Summer" escape, starting at $169/night (available to book now - Sept. 25, for stays now - Oct. 31) and offering 15 percent off peak season rates when using promotional code: ZX0. The resort features the iconic Falls Pool Oasis with enticing enrichments inclusive of a new Icon Slide Tower featuring two, 200-foot winding waterslides and one, 90-foot speed waterslide in addition to a Splash Zone offering kids a zero entry pool and playground, as well as a Kid's Activity Zone and Poolside Bar and Grill. Visit www.worldcentermarriott.com.
Labor Day package on St. Pete Beach
The TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach on Florida's west coast is celebrating a farewell to summer with the Labor Day Weekend Endless Summer package. This package offers a variety of Labor Day festivities including the Taste of the Island buffet and party and several other additional benefits such as the three-story slide on the beach, included in the Resort Amenity Fee. Valid Aug. 30-Sept. 3, the three-night package begins at $645* for both TradeWinds properties – the Island Grand and the Guy Harvey Outpost. Guests wanting to extend their stay can add additional nights to the package for 50 percent off rack rates. The Labor Day celebration party will take place Sept. 1 and will include various activities and entertainment such as face painting, carnival games, contests and prizes. A DJ will be spinning beach music. The "Taste of the Island" buffet menu consists of Caribbean conch chowder, skewered bacon and barbeque grilled shrimp kabob, Montego Bay fried plantains, coconut rice and several other Island-Inspired dishes and desserts. There is also a "Little Islander's" buffet for the kids. At dusk there will be fireworks. Visit www.JustLetGo.com.
Pop-up restaurant hotel package in Palm Beach
Daniel Boulud's Manhattan restaurant, Boulud Sud, is in Palm Beach at Café Boulud at The Brazilian Court through Sept. 2. The hotel is offering a lodging/dinner package that provides a three-course dinner at the pop up restaurant with a glass of rosé. Rates are from $299 plus tax per room night. The package is based on two people per room. Taxes and gratuity are not included. Advance reservations required, based on availability at time of booking. One pre-fixe three-course dinner and one glass of rosé per person are included. Guests are responsible for making dinner reservations with the hotel or direct with Café Boulud. Reservation is based on availability at time of booking. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Comet viewing package in Southwest Florida
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel on southwest Florida's Gulf Coast anticipates Mother Nature's cooperation in giving visitors a chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime holiday light show. Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) is expected to make its first pass by Earth from early November through early January. Nicknamed the "Christmas Comet," ISON is already remarkably bright. If it doesn't disintegrate or break up, the sun will melt off its ice, releasing gas and dust and forming a long tail that could stretch across a quarter of the sky. At the comet's closest swing past Earth, about 40 million miles away, the sky should be moonless, adding to the comet's glow. Area accommodations and attractions are planning special offers and activities to commemorate the comet. Among the offers: the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village is featuring a "Christmas Comet" package that includes rooms with enclosed balconies for viewing the comet, a $30 resort credit per stay and two "Christmas Comet" beverages per reservation. Rates start at $139 per night with a minimum of two nights. The package is available Nov. 1 through Dec. 26, 2013. Reference rate plan COMET. Visit www.westincapecoral.com.
Banana Coast signs with cruise line to schedule regular calls
Banana Coast has signed Holland America Line as the first cruise line to schedule regular calls at the first mainland Honduras cruise port at Trujillo. Holland America Line's 1,260-passenger Ryndam is slated to call at Banana Coast 11 times between 2014 and 2015 on its western Caribbean itineraries. The ship's Nov. 19, 2014, call is Banana Coast's first scheduled visit by a cruise ship, followed by the Dec. 17, 2014, call from Silversea Cruises' Silver Cloud. Themed "Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea," the $30 million Banana Coast project is the newest cruise destination in the western Caribbean. Construction on the passenger-reception and shopping center was completed in February and a slate of shore excursions has been designed. Future plans call for construction of a two-berth, post-Panamax pier. Visit www.bananacoast.com.
New yacht and voyage collection
Windstar Cruises has announced the debut of its new all-suite yacht, Star Pride, and the 2014 Pride Voyage Collection. The new voyages are open for sale and feature four new itineraries exclusive to the all-suite yacht, including Windstar's new itinerary through the Black Sea. Star Pride's nine distinctive voyages highlight small-ship ports throughout the Mediterranean and French Riviera, tucking into tiny harbors and hidden coves. The collection features voyages from May 5 to Oct. 21, 2014. Visit www.WindstarCruises.com.
Products that may come in handy at beaches this summer
The Noblo Umbrella Buddy - Invented by two moms to stop fly-away beach umbrellas (and the injuries that can result from this), the Noblo is a beach umbrella anchor. Beach goers fill Noblo with sand and velcro to beach umbrella. Cost is $14.99. Info: www.thenoblo.com.
Sand Gone is a dry powder that when applied to sandy parts of your body, removes the sand leaving skin soft and smooth. It is made with all natural ingredients with a hint of coconut fragrance. Cost is $12.95. Info: http://www.sandgone.com.
S'well is a reusable, sustainable water bottle company. Their bottles are double walled in stainless steel leaving liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. Not only will users have a good water bottle for the beach, but will help in S'well's effort to bring clean water to the world's poorest communities in partnership with WaterAid. The bottles feature a quartz finish (no-slip). Cost is $35. Info: www.swellbottle.com.
Florida residents' offer in South Beach
The Angler's Boutique Resort in South Beach is inviting Floridians to stay local and play local with a Florida Residents Special. The offer, valid through Sept. 30, provides a 15 percent discount off rates, free valet parking, free Wi-Fi and a beach bag for the day with towels and waters. Must present Florida I.D. upon check-in. Call 866-729-8800.
Family package in Orlando
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is featuring the Love Your Family package. With the package, children are welcomed in style with an exclusive dining privilege (kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal at the hotel's character restaurant, Garden Grove), a Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel coloring book and special Mickey Vision glasses. These special glasses provide children with their own unique way to watch the nightly fireworks by making Mickey Mouse appear in the lights when using them during the show. Families will also be presented with The Kid's Guide to Orlando. Additionally guests receive benefits by staying at this Epcot Resort Area hotel. Those benefits include Extra Magic Hours Benefit, where each day, one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks offers additional time for guests to enjoy select attractions (Valid Theme Park admission and Resort ID required). The hotel also features complimentary transportation to all Walt Disney World theme parks. Call 1-800-227-1500 and mention "Love Your Family". Details of the offer are also available online at www.swandolphin.com/offers. Guests must have valid identification to present upon check-in. Based on rate schedule availability. Taxes, resort services fee and gratuities not included. Not valid with any other special offers, promotions, or for existing reservations or groups. The offer is valid now through Dec. 24.
Utra-thin stereo speakers for under pillow
Travelers who value the importance of a good night's sleep may wish to check out the Sound Oasis Sound Therapy Pillow Speakers. They are high fidelity, ultra-thin stereo speakers that can be positioned under or in the core of any pillow, allowing users to surround their head with sound for sleep therapy or privacy. A 73-inch cord allows users to plug in any 3.5mm. plug that is compatible with iPod/MP3 player, CD player, television, radio, computer/laptop or Sound Oasis sound therapy system. It retails for $22.99, it can be purchased online at www.sound-oasis.com, via phone at 1-866-625-3218 or at retailers throughout North America.
Savings in Fort Lauderdale
The Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale is featuring the "Stay More, Save More" package. Available now through Sept. 30, it has a starting rate of $139 per night before discounts and the offer boasts the following opportunities for savings: Stay one night, save 10 percent; stay two nights, save 20 percent; stay three nights, save 30 percent. Other perks include: saving 25 percent off Echo Salon (open Tuesday – Saturday); saving 20 percent off Planet Massage; saving 20 percent off dinner at Indigo restaurant. Still other features include complimentary Sun Trolley passes to Fort Lauderdale Beach, Friday-Monday from 9:30 a.m.to 6:30 p.m. Visit www.riversidehotel.com.
Scooping scallops at the Plantation on Crystal River
The Plantation on Crystal River, 80 miles north of Tampa, is offering two package options – one with a guide and one without – with prices starting at just $556. The guided package provides a two-night stay in a renovated garden or water view deluxe room, patio room or golf villa; guided scalloping tour including mask, snorkel and fins with one of the area's top captains; souvenir bag with mesh scalloping bag, scallop recipes, sunscreen and water. The chef will prepare the fresh day's harvest (scallops or fish) and serve with two sides, and breakfast daily is included. Ramp launch, trailer storage and seawall tie for those bringing their own boat. Scalloping season runs now through Sept. 24. Visit www.PlantationonCrystalRiver.com.
Mermaids spotted in Fort Lauderdale
Steps from the private beach at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, travelers regularly spot mermaids at the hotel's Wreck Bar, home to the MeduSirena show every Friday at 6:30 p.m. But for those who want to make their mermaid dreams become a reality, the resort is offering an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes to learn the aquatic skills from lead mermaid, Marina Duran-Anderson. Available for select weekends in August and Sept, guests can book the Mermaid Package and receive accommodations at Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach; one-hour Mermaid Lesson; reserved seats to the MeduSirena Show with a chance to make cameo in a show; $25 credit to use at The Wreck Bar. Starting at $139 per night, travelers will receive a 20 percent savings on this experience. For information or to book, call 1-800-325-3535 and mention the Mermaid Package. The Mermaid Package is valid for stays Aug 23 – Sept. 28, excluding Labor Day weekend. The offer is not available to book online.
Family offer in Antigua
Guests traveling to The Verandah Resort & Spa in Antigua before Aug. 31, will receive a $300 air credit on stays of three to six nights and a $500 air credit on stays of seven nights or more in addition to instant savings of up 30 percent. The resort is also inviting families to bring their first child free. Situated on 30 acres along Antigua's northeast coastline and bordered by Devil's Bridge National Park with its landmark rock arch, The Verandah Resort & Spa has an all-inclusive dining and activities program and family-friendly offerings including complimentary non-motorized water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, Hobbie Cat sailing and paddle boats. A favorite among children and adults alike is the resort's 18-hole mini-golf course, which is complimentary to resort guests. The course is open daily and features Caribbean accents including waterfalls, ponds, lush landscaping and Reggae music emanating from hidden speakers placed around the green. The Verandah is also home to a kids' club that welcomes potty-trained children ages two and up as well as younger children who are accompanied by an adult. Visit www.verandahresortandspa.com.
Royal Caribbean float in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates new ship
Royal Caribbean has announced it will return to the lineup of the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. On Thursday, Nov. 28, the line's new float will "set sail" to help ring in the start of the holiday season for millions of parade watchers. Celebrating the fall 2014 debut of Quantum of the Seas, the float's design is a closely guarded secret, but the line hints that it will live up to its family entertainment legacy. The parade airs nationwide on NBC-TV from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones on Nov. 28. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com.
Charity walk event in Orlando
For A Cause, a non-profit organization that orchestrates multi-day charity walks that allow participants to walk for the charity of their choice, has announced "Walk The World," a three-day charity walk at the Walt Disney World Resort Nov. 14-18. The Walk The World event, part of the A Walk Around The World – Fundraising Walking Event series, is a walk-only fundraiser limited to 50 participants. Over the course of three days, walkers will hit the sidewalks and walkways of the Walt Disney World Resort, averaging more than 10 miles a day, following a suggested journey through the resort's theme parks and other locations. The adventure will take them through resorts like Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, water parks like Disney's Blizzard Beach, and several of the theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom, where walkers will experience all the sites and attractions along the way, at their leisure. In addition, everyone will have a chance to enjoy group meals, activities, shows, fireworks and some special surprises. The registration fee for Walk The World is $350 per person and includes lodging at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, group meals, and group theme park tickets. Single participants will be paired with a roommate, although single rooms are available for an extra charge. Walkers must be 14+ years old to participate. There is a minimum fundraising requirement for the charity of the participant's choice. visit https://www.awalkaroundtheworld.org.
Commitment to charity
After achieving a goal of raising $3 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital over a three-year period with their Care to Play: Carnival for St. Jude Kids campaign, Carnival Cruise Lines has expanded upon its partnership by becoming the Official Celebration Partner at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and has committed to a goal of raising an additional $5 million over the next four years. Visit www.carnival.com.
New Halloween, holiday cruises
Disney Cruise Line is launching new Halloween on the High Seas Cruises aboard the Disney Dream beginning on Sept. 22. The voyages feature Halloween-themed parties, entertainment, elaborate décor and tons of spooky fun. On all Disney ships, guests will delight in frightfully fun events and activities, special decorations, unique menu items in the restaurants and themed parties on deck during these special Halloween voyages.
Winter holiday celebrations also start early this year with the first Very Merrytime Cruises departing Nov. 9 on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder and Nov. 10 on the Disney Dream and Disney Magic. In the spirit of holiday cheer, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship, with special stem-to-stern holiday events, traditional “turkey day” fanfare, Christmas feasts, “snow flurries” and New Year’s Eve galas. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Fort Clinch State Park to host Union Garrison event
Visitors to Fort Clinch State Park on Fernandina Beach are invited to an interpretive program that portrays a soldier’s life in 1864. The event, on Aug. 3-4, will allow visitors to interact with living historians to experience life in the fort as it was in 1864. The grounds will be bustling with soldiers in period costumes involved in firing demonstrations, marching drills, cooking and daily activities. Ladies in their dresses, sutlers displaying their wares and drummer boys bring every part of the civil war era to life. Fees are $6.00 per vehicle Park entrance fee plus $2.00 per person Fort admission. Event hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 3; and from 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 4. Fort Clinch State Park is at 2601 Atlantic Avenue on Fernandina Beach. Call 904-277-7274 or visit www.FloridaStateParks.org.
Amelia Island Tailgate Cook-off packages
Several of Amelia Island’s hotels, vacation rentals and inns have cooked up discounted room rates and packages for the upcoming Fourth Annual Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off, August 23-24. Among the property offerings are the Addison on Amelia featuring a free night on reservations of four nights or more during the Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off weekend (www.AddisonOnAmelia.com). Offers do not include tax and are based on availability. Contact each hotel for reservations and any restrictions. For more information about the Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off, entertainment lineup and each of the accommodations offering discounts, visit www.gstailgatecookoff.com.
South Beach package
To celebrate the start of a $9 million transformation, South Beach Marriott is offering a “SOBE Soiree” package, which invites travelers to experience the beachfront accommodations while sipping on complimentary cocktails. With rates starting at $269 per night, the package includes accommodations, two signature drinks at Deco Blue and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel’s redesign, kicked off in May and is slated for completion by the end of the year. The offer is valid through Dec. 29. Visit www.marriottsouthbeach.com. Use promotional code YQ1.
New parade to come to the Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort will premiere a new daytime parade, “Disney Festival of Fantasy” in 2014. The parade will feature characters from popular stories like “The Little Mermaid”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Dumbo”, “Pinocchio”, “Peter Pan”, “Tangled” and Disney-Pixar’s “Brave”. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
British chefs onboard
Silversea Cruises will welcome two of Britain's top culinary innovators to host two of its popular Culinary Arts voyages this year. Jason Atherton, the Michelin-starred chef who owns restaurants in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, will host an Asia cruise, the Silver Shadow's nine-day, Hong Kong-to-Singapore voyage (#3334) departing Nov. 25, and renowned chocolatier Chantal Coady, founder of award-winning Rococo Chocolates, will host Silver Whisper's seven-day Caribbean cruise (#4329) sailing Nov. 8 roundtrip from Bridgetown, Barbados. On Silversea's Culinary Arts voyages, celebrity chefs display their talents during cooking demonstrations where guests can taste and learn first hand the secrets of signature dishes. These voyages also feature escorted provisioning trips to international markets (when the itinerary permits), food and wine pairings, creative regional dishes, and a five-course grand gourmet dinner. Throughout these special sailings, the featured guest chef and Silversea’s executive chef are on hand to share their culinary expertise and answer any questions. Visit www.silversea.com.
Taking it off in Naples
Naples Bay Resort & Spa is stripping down rates and pumping up the added fun with the Take it Off, mid-week getaway – encouraging guests to take it off (the time) too. Available now until December 20, for stays Sunday through Thursday, the Naples Bay Resort has rates starting at $109 per night. The Take it Off getaway also includes 25 percent off recreational services (paddle boards, kayaks, etc), 25 percent off food and beverage, 25 percent off spa services, and $99 full day boat rental (one rental per reservation). Plus, there’s incentive to encourage your friends to Take it Off too. Guests who bring a friend, and book two rooms or more, for one night or more will receive $25 resort credit and a bottle of wine per room booked, per stay. Visit http://bit.ly/15nMqXZ.
Port St. Lucie escape
Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie is offering the WOW Sale, featuring seven-night all-inclusive escapes starting from $119 per person, per night during the most sought-after summer and winter travel dates. To take advantage of the WOW sale, guests must book by Aug. 27, 2013 for travel through Feb. 12, 2014. Visit http://sandpiperbay.clubmed.us.
Island getaway in Palm Beach
The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club is featuring an Island Getaway Package that offers a $50 hotel credit and complimentary valet parking. The package is valid for stays through Sept. 30. A two-night minimum stay is required as well as advance reservations. The package is based on availability. Credit is to be used towards incidentals and cannot be used toward room rate (unused credit will be forfeited back to the hotel). Restrictions apply and the offer is subject to end without notice. Visit www.TheBrazilianCourt.com.
Flavors of Lima
From amateur to master chef, travelers are immersed in the Peruvian food revolution with a three-day culinary package at the new Hilton Lima Miraflores hotel. The program takes guests on a gastronomic journey through Peru’s rich culinary diversity with the Master Peruvian Chef package. Available now through Dec. 31, culinary connoisseurs can embark on a discovery that provides a palate-pleasing landscape of Peru’s gastronomy. Featuring everything from a personalized culinary course at Le Cordon Bleu School to a private cooking session with the chef at Hilton Lima Miraflores’ Social Restaurant & Bar, the Master Peruvian Chef package offers three nights deluxe accommodation including traditional Pisco Sour welcome drink, daily breakfast for two at Social Restaurant, Internet access, parking, access to the fitness center and early check-in/late check-out; private tour of Hilton Lima Miraflores' kitchen on day of arrival with Executive Chef Renzo Alcántara, and photo keepsake of guest with hotel culinary team; personalized 2.5 hour Peruvian culinary course at Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school on day two, including an apron, hat, recipe book and certificate of participation; chef’s jacket to wear during afternoon cooking session with Social Restaurant & Bar chef Renzo Miñan, followed by a tasting; gastronomic tour on day three with a visit to a typical Peruvian market and the exclusive “La Rosa Nautica” restaurant where guests will learn to prepare the famous Pisco Sour cocktail and ceviche, followed by lunch featuring an array of dishes representative of Peruvian cuisine and culture. The Master Peruvian Chef package is available through Aug. 30, starting at $1,365 including three nights accommodation, culinary course and tour, for two guests. Guests interested in extending their stay can take advantage of rates from $209 including breakfast and based on double occupancy. Visit www.lima.hilton.com.
Offers during Orlando’s Deal Season
Orlando is featuring 45 days of offers during Deal Season, Aug. 15-Sept. 30. Among the offers is a day of All Day Dining at SeaWorld Orlando (a $32.99 value) with a paid admission. Guests who visit Orlando during September can take advantage of the Magical Dining Month during which more than 60 of Orlando-area restaurants offer three-course dinners for $33, with $1 from each purchased dinner donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida. Log on to www.VisitOrlando.com/deals.
Summer savings pass to South Florida attractions
Lion Country Safari, Miami Seaquarium, Museum of Discovery and Science and Zoo Miami are offering a Summer Savings Pass that gives its buyers unlimited admission to all four attractions throughout the summer! The Summer Savings Pass is available for purchase at each of the participating parks and will be valid for admission to each of the attractions until Sept. 30. Lion Country Safari, Miami Seaquarium, and Zoo Miami will also have the passes for sale online at their respective websites www.LionCountrySafari.com, www.miamiseaquarium.com and www.zoomiami.org. Museum of Discovery and Science will have the passes available by phone at 954-713-0930. Cost is $55 plus tax, per adult and $45 plus tax, per child (ages 3-12). Annual pass holders of these attractions will be eligible to purchase this pass for only $30 plus tax, per adult, and $20 plus tax, per child. Visit www.summersavingspass.com.
Great Irish Hooley in Downtown Disney for Labor Day Weekend
The Great Irish Hooley returns for four days of Irish food, live music and fun at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Downtown Disney August 30-Sept. 2. Irish slang for a party or celebration, the Great Irish Hooley debuted in 2012 with top Irish bands, music and dance workshops and Celtic fun for all in the family. For 2013, a lineup of Irish bands will play traditional, folk and rock tunes on the restaurant stage and outside on the pub patio. Families can participate in Irish dance workshops led by Irish dancer and choreographer Ronan McCormack of the original Riverdance cast and join in Irish Music Workshops with Dublin-born multi-instrumentalist Declan Masterson. Guests also can kick up their heels during structured set dancing called the Ceili (kay-lee) — a precursor to today’s country line dancing. Celtic face painting and authentic food and beverages are on tap, as well. Among the Great Irish Hooley lineup are Scythian (sith-ee-yin) who will play kicked-up Celtic and world music infused with a touch of punk-rock sensibility; Lisa Canny, musician-singer-songwriter from Ireland’s west coast who will entertain with traditional and folk music; and Elevation, a U2 tribute band, who will rock the crowd with the best of U2. Visit www.raglanroad.com.
St. Petersburg special
Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg is inviting guests to connect with their roots through a History and Heritage package starting at $279 a night. Guests who book the History and Heritage package now through Dec. 31, receive rich bay front accommodations, Ancestry.com Family Tree Maker Software including a one-month membership, complimentary history tour for two, copy of Views from the Vinoy (a book on the history of Vinoy and St. Petersburg) and dinner for two each evening from the 1925 Classic Dining Menu at the Vinoy's restaurant, Marchand's. Promo code ES7 must be used at the time of booking. Visit www.marriott.com.
New golf academy in Orlando
Marriott Vacation Club has introduced the new Marriott Golf Academy, with locations at Marriott’s Grande Vista resort in Orlando, and Marriott’s Shadow Ridge resort in Palm Desert, Calif. Formerly the Faldo Golf Institute, the new Marriott Golf Academy debuts on May 1, with special introductory pricing and packages for 2- and 3-day golf schools and 3-hour sessions through Sept. 30. Marriott Golf Academy offers instructional programming for golfers of all skills levels, from low-handicap elite golfers seeking a competitive advantage to newcomers seeking an introductory golf experience. The Orlando based location, adjacent to Marriott’s Grande Vista resort, boasts a 35-acre instructional facility offering full swing and short game areas, a 9-hole golf course, Swing Analysis Studio, Club Fitter’s Workshop™, and is adjacent to Marriott’s Grande Pines Golf Club, which provides an 18-hole championship golf experience for students. For information on Marriott Golf Academy and the introductory packages and pricing, visit http://www.marriottgolfacademy.com/introductory-pricing.html.
Fort Lauderdale package
The Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale is featuring an Oceanfront Escape Package starting $189 per night now through Sept. 30. The program provides upgrade, daily resort credit and complimentary valet –representing a savings of more than 45 percent from peak season rates. Minimum two-night stay is required. Package may not be combined with other promotions or offers. Blackout dates apply. Resort credit may be applied to food and beverage, in-room dining, and gift shop only. Not applicable to room rate, tax or gratuities. Not redeemable for cash. The $50 resort credit per night is applied against incidental charges at departure. Unused balance cannot be credited or refunded. Visit www.pelicanbeach.com.
Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale in 2014
For the first time in four years, Princess Cruises will offer summertime Caribbean cruising from Florida in 2014. The line’s Caribbean Princess will return to sail on a full season of voyages ranging from a three-day getaway to week-long tropical cruises, all of which can be combined for a longer vacation of up to 14 days. The May to September program features 12 departures of the line’s seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages, which can be combined for a 14-day Caribbean Adventure sailing. In addition, the ship will depart on 13 three-, four- and five-day getaway cruises for a quick vacation and opportunity to sample the Princess experience. All cruises sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Itineraries feature the ports of San Juan, St. Thomas, Costa Maya, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman, plus most voyages visit the line’s Bahamian paradise on Princess Cays. Visit www.princess.com.
Tech detox, wellness program in Costa Rica
Jacada Travel is featuring Costa Rica: A Wind Down & Wellness Getaway (10 days from $5,957). The trip offers a balance of activity and relaxation, sans fancy tech gadgets. The journey begins at a 500-acre private reserve in the cloud forest hills of Bajos del Toro, where visitors can enjoy hiking the rainforest trails, inclusive yoga class each day, spa treatments, and fresh produce from the organic gardens. From the forest to the islands, the journey takes participants to another nature reserve overlooking the Manuel Antonio coastline off the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Here travelers can enjoy private-guided tours of the national parks, water sports or a new selection of spa treatments. With this trip Jacada has included a one-hour aromatherapy massage for each guest along with a one-hour sea breeze hydration facial here. The trip ends by heading up the coastline of Costa Rica with a three-day stay on the Nicoya Peninsula, known for its perfect waves and surfing. Participants enjoy three days of inclusive yoga and surfing lessons. Trips can be arranged on dates desired by travelers year round. Visit http://www.jacadatravel.com/t/example_trip/wind-down-wellness-getaway-costa-rica.
Ponte Vedra special
The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra is offering a special rate of $179 per night for residents of Florida and Georgia through Sept. 14. With a valid ID upon check-in, guests will receive this exclusive rate and access to five championship golf courses, including TPC’s PLAYERS Golf Course and the resort’s private Cabana Beach Club. The resort has also launched their Golf Holidaze offers in support of the major golf tournaments taking place around the world. The resort is inviting guests and locals to view the tournaments on the large screen TV at the Lobby Bar and enjoy signature drinks and menu items tailored to each tournament. During the “Golf Holidaze,” the resort will have the “Floating Hole-in-One Challenge” for locals and guests to take their best shot at the 100th hole on property. Attendees can buy balls from $1, where proceeds go to The First Tee, an international youth development organization introducing golf to young people. Those that make the hole-in-one win a two-night stay at the resort in the Presidential Suite with a dinner and a signature spa treatment at Sawgrass Spa. Visit www.sawgrassmarriott.com.
Package for tweens in Key West
Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, has introduced a Tweencation Relation Trip, a package created for – and available exclusively to – tweens and their parents. Custom-tailored for 9-12 year olds, the Tweencation is designed to fill the “vacation void” many tweens encounter at hotels where they often feel “stuck” between the kids camps that cater to younger children and the teen programs intended for older ones. The program is available through Dec 15, 2014.
Sunset Key’s Tweencation has age-specific activities and amenities, includes a local volunteerism opportunity and encourages parent/tween bonding experiences. To compensate for a shorter attention span, package activities are either compressed (i.e. a 25-minute spa facial versus a 50-minute treatment), move at a quick pace (jet ski tours) or require an increased level of participation – such as parasailing or kayaking. A choice of local volunteerism opportunities is aimed at satisfying a tween’s craving for responsibility and designed to foster an interest in “giving back” to the local community. Experiences that require both parent and tween involvement, such as the upon-arrival scavenger hunt and volunteer endeavor, create bonding opportunities. Sunset Key’s all-cottage accommodations, each with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, offer the space and privacy pre-teens want while keeping them within reach and view of their parents – and the island parameter allows for some independent exploration within boundaries.
Two Tweencation package options are available: Spaaah Total Wellbeing and Wet & Wild Adventure. The Spaaah Total Wellbeing package includes the following amenities for one parent and one tween: three nights’ cottage accommodations; spa experience, including choice of two, 25-minute Mini-Treatments each –staff will discuss age-specific benefits of selected treatments (i.e. reducing test stress, enhancing sports performance, maintaining a healthy complexion) and share take-away tips for continuing the benefits at home; post-treatment Dessert Bento Box for two and two Coconut-infusion beverages as well as a custom-blended take-home body scrub or cream are included; private, one-hour workout session for two: yoga, tennis or Get Fit Boot Camp; private nutritious & delicious culinary demo: “no-cook” healthy lunches, snacks & treats; local volunteer endeavor at Key West Reef Relief or the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center (cash donation included in package price); private, custom jewelry-making experience at Rubies & Clay gallery (includes keepsake take-away baubles); photo scavenger hunt; complimentary photo service (daily download & print); choice of two completed, keepsake photo albums or vacation scrapbook kit for two. The Spaaah Total Wellbeing package price starts at $3,000 for a two-bedroom cottage, including all taxes, gratuities and ground transportation to featured off-site activities. No charge for additional parent and/or additional child same-cottage accommodations. Package activities/amenities for additional parent or additional tween: $500 per person. Package is only available to tweens 9-12 years old, and their parent(s).
The Wet & Wild Adventure Package includes the following amenities for one parent and one tween: three nights’ cottage accommodations; private charter fishing excursion, half-day trip for two (and chef will cook the day’s catch for dinner); choice of parasailing or guided jet ski tour; choice of guided kayak excursion or reef snorkel excursion; ocal volunteer endeavor, as outlined in the Spaaah package; photo scavenger hunt; complimentary photo service (daily download & print); choice of two keepsake photo albums or vacation scrapbook kit for two. The Wet & Wild Adventure package price starts at $3,500 for a two-bedroom cottage, including all taxes, gratuities and ground transportation to featured off-site activities. No charge for additional parent and/or additional child same-cottage accommodations. Package activities/amenities for additional parent or additional tween: $300 per person. Package is only available to tweens 9-12 years old, and their parent(s). Visit www.westinsunsetkeycottages.com.
For fashionistas in Miami
Kimpton’s Epic Hotel, Miami is offering a Shop n’ Stay package available now through Sept. 30. With rates starting at $299, the package includes 20 percent off best available rate; 20 percent off select services at exhale mind body spa; complimentary welcome cocktail at Area 31, a Kimpton restaurant; EPIC swag, including a shoe bag, t-shirt and cap. Visit www.epichotel.com.
Loyalty program expanded
Princess Cruises had expanded its Captain Circle loyalty program with the addition of a new membership category – the Medallion level. The new tier, for passengers sailing on a fourth or fifth cruise, or between 31 and 50 cruise days, fits between the program’s current Gold and Platinum levels. Medallion level members enjoy extra benefits in addition to Gold level perks, including a complimentary upgrade to the Platinum Princess Vacation Protection and a discount on the price of a souvenir Reflections DVD. Medallion cruise cards and pins will feature a deep burgundy color. Visit www.princess.com.
The Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami is featuring the Escape Your Way package for two. The program allows guests design a vacation with a round of golf or a spa service each day. For the spa-goer, the package offers unlimited access to The Spa at Doral’s facilities with one service for each night's stay. For the golfer, the package offers a choice of one round of golf each day on the Red, Gold or Jim McLean course, as well as unlimited use of the warm-up area and golf bag storage. Upgrade opportunities to tee off on the Great White course are available for an additional fee of $65 (from July 1 to Sept. 30). Additionally, this package includes resort accommodations (king or double) and daily American breakfast buffet. Package rates start from $149 per person, per night for stays through Sept. 30. Visit www.doralresort.com.
Celebrating Ponce in Hollywood
The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood is encouraging guests to get out and discover Florida with the new Ponce de Leon Staycation offer. Exclusive to residents of the Sunshine State, the package includes accommodations, two water taxi tickets per stay and four trolley tickets to explore the city of Hollywood including the nearby Broadwalk, Hollywood Arts & Culture Center or downtown Hollywood complete with quaint shops and restaurants. Starting at $225 per night, the offer is valid through Sept. 30 and requires a two-night minimum stay. Offer must be booked five days in advance and a valid Florida I.D. is required upon check-in. Visit www.diplomatresort.com and use promo code FLRESPKG.
And becoming your own explorer in Cape Coral
The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village invites guests to become their own explorer with the Ponce de Leon Package. Featuring 20 percent savings, the Florida resident only offer includes accommodations in recently updated guest rooms and a choice of one activity inspired by the famous explorer. Guests can choose from the following: kayak rental for two for two hours; guided bicycle ride to nearby butterfly garden with gourmet picnic lunch for two; dolphin & sunset tour for two (valid only for Friday or Saturday stays). The package starts at $179 per night. Visit www.westincapecoral.com and use promo code VISITFL. The Ponce de Leon Package is valid now through Dec 19.
New spa to open at Disney World’s Saratoga Springs
Senses, A Disney Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort is set to open its doors on July 25 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The two-story, full-service spa is inspired by the healing properties of natural springs that have drawn people for centuries to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. Senses will incorporate the springs, nature and the storyline of health in its design and theme featuring design materials and textures including natural stone. The spa will boast 10 treatment rooms offering an array of services including water therapy, massage and facials. Heated loungers, plus a whirlpool and steam room in the wet areas are also featured. Three manicure stations and four pedicure stations round out the services. The opening of Senses, A Disney Spa at Saratoga Springs Resort follows the opening of its sister spa, Senses, A Disney Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort that opened in December, 2012 featuring 15 treatment rooms. Call 407-WDW-SPAS (939-7727).
Atlantic Beach zoo family package
One Ocean Resort & Spa on Atlantic Beach is featuring a new Zoo With An Ocean View package starting at $324. The package includes deluxe accommodations for four, breakfast for four at Azurea, and tickets for four to Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens.
Bring on the drawn butter
Lobster lovers are invited to sample the savory Florida crustacean during Key West Lobsterfest, Aug. 8-11. The festival commemorates the start of the Florida Keys lobster season with a tasty menu of events highlighted by an open-air lobster feast on the island's famed Duval Street. The festivities kick off at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, when lobster aficionados can gather at the Sunset Tiki Bar & Grille, 617 Front St., for a lobster boil that also includes shrimp, andouille sausage, corn on the cob and new potatoes. Live entertainment and libation specials are to round out the evening's action. Fans can sample lobster dishes of all sorts at the Key West Lobsterfest Street Fair, set for noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, in the 100 through 500 blocks of Duval. During the festival "entrée," chefs from as many as 20 local restaurants are to prepare lobster specialties ranging from appetizers to dinners with all the trimmings. Offerings feature fresh crustaceans caught by Florida Keys lobster fishermen. A free outdoor concert is slated for 1-11 p.m. with local, regional and national bands performing from a stage at the intersection of Duval and Greene streets. Attendees also can browse and buy art, crafts and merchandise from dozens of on-site vendors.
Other Lobsterfest events include a lively party Friday, Aug. 9, at Rick's/Durty Harry's Entertainment Complex, 202 Duval St., a Friday night Duval Crawl and a lobster brunch Sunday, Aug. 11. The crustacean celebration benefits a scholarship fund for Key West High School students. Visit www.keywestlobsterfest.com.
Clydesdale-drawn carriage rides in the Keys
Clydesdale-drawn carriage rides are harnessing romance in Islamorada. Visitors can enjoy a special night out in a private carriage operated by Island Horse Drawn Carriage Inc., traveling to and from a resort and through the island's historic art district and stopping for dinner at one of the area's many fine restaurants. For destination weddings, the tour company offers an elegant white carriage crafted from hardwood and brass that can be custom-decorated as transport for a bridal party. Another carriage can be used as a unique parking shuttle for wedding guests. Carriages can accommodate up to six people for private, group, and couples rides for other special celebrations such as engagements, proposals, anniversaries, holidays or birthdays. Carriage horses Brutus and Olivia, Clydesdales like those on the famed Budweiser team, add a unique element to the leisurely ride through Islamorada. Contract rates from $300 are available for weddings, photo shoots and special events. Carriage rides typically cost $150 per carriage for 30 minutes and $250 for an hour. Carriages also can be provided for weddings and special events on islands other than Islamorada for an additional transportation cost. Visit www.islandhorsedrawncarriages.com.
Dancing with the stars at sea
As part of its new “Dancing with the Stars” experience Holland America Line has announced several themed cruises in 2013 and early 2014. The program will feature “Dancing with the Stars” events including dance lessons; a chance to meet the dancers, ask questions and take photos; and a dazzling production starring celebrities and the famed dance pros, complete with glamorous costumes and routines from the TV show. In addition to the theme cruises, every sailing on all 15 ships in the Holland America fleet features an exclusive “Dancing with the Stars” program including dance lessons and an opportunity for some lucky guests to dance center stage in an exciting dance-off performance. These activities feature the ships’ professional dancers and are developed in collaboration with the show’s dancers and choreographers. Among the “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises are: Jan. 5, 2014 ms Nieuw Amsterdam 7-day Eastern Caribbean; and Jan. 12, 2014 ms Nieuw Amsterdam 7-day Western Caribbean. visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Focus on the Keys’ reefs
Key Largo’s Coral Restoration Foundation, dedicated to creating offshore nurseries and restoration programs for threatened coral species, has opened a new Educational Center at its location next to the Pilot House Marina & Restaurant at 5 Seagate Blvd. The center, which serves as CRF’s headquarters, also accommodates visiting and local dive groups for lectures and informational seminars while participating in CRF volunteer dive programs. Features inside the center include a series of information panels and interactive movies showcasing the state of coral reefs and CRF’s offshore coral growth and outplanting efforts, a 500-gallon aquarium tank where visitors can view nursery-grown corals, and information about volunteer and Adopt-a-Coral opportunities for involvement. For more information about the nonprofit conservation organization, visit www.coralrestoration.org.
Florida residents’ rate in Curacao
DAE (Dutch Antilles Express) recently announced plans for new direct lift from Orlando to Curacao and to celebrate, Sandton Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa in Curacao is offering a new Sunshine State Resident’s Rate package. The package includes three nights accommodation in room of your choice; buffet breakfast daily; two welcome cocktails at Jacob’s Bar; complimentary admission for two persons to Museum Kura Hulanda; unlimited use of Fitness Facility including sauna, steam and Jacuzzi; complimentary chaise lounges at swimming pools and beach club; complimentary scheduled transportation to the Sandton Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club – located 40 minutes through the scenic countryside; complimentary daily newspaper and nightly turn down service. All taxes and service charges are included, no refunds on any portion of the package. Extra night rate includes room rate, breakfast, tax and service. The three-night package starts at $580, based on double occupancy. The package is valid now through Dec. 23. Call 877-264-3106.
Star-spangled Fourth, all week long at Disney World
Guests at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando can choose any day of Independence Week, July 1-7, in the parks to celebrate the flag-waving spirit of the holiday as part of Disney’s Limited Time Magic. The festivities include a 14-minute fireworks spectacular, Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky, above Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom taking place at 9 p.m. on July 3 and 4 and at 10 p.m. on July 1, 2, 5-7. Details of entertainment offerings during Independence Week and other Limited Time Magic events are available at www.limitedtimemagic.com.
South Walton guide
VisitSouthWalton.com has published its official visitor guide with information on accommodations (including condominiums, townhouses and villas), dining and events. Special features are devoted to romantic hot spots, family fun and other topics and a beachgoer’s guide and beach safety sections are included. Log on to www.VisitSouthWalton.com to download a free copy of this and other guides to the area.
Complimentary streaming of movies and television news broadcasts at sea
In a cruise industry first, Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has launched a complimentary service that provides streaming movies and live television news broadcasts to guests' mobile devices aboard its Silver Cloud vessel. The service can be accessed on any Wi-Fi-enabled laptop, smartphone, tablet, or even e-book reader – anything with a browser. It includes access to a library of classic and recent Academy Award-winning feature films, with more than 80 per cent of the movies offered in five languages: English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. A limited supply of iPad minis is also available (on a first-come, first-served basis) to Silver Cloud guests wishing to borrow a tablet to view the streamed movies and television during the voyage. By the end of 2013, the service will be rolled out to four additional ships: Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Wind and Silver Galapagos. In the coming months, the company is also planning to add a selection of international newspapers to its menu of streamed media offerings, an option currently in the testing phase. Visit www.silversea.com.
Orlando "Fantasy & Fairytales" offer
As theme park enthusiasts begin flocking to Disney World’s newest Fantasyland attraction, Sky Hotels & Resorts invites families to escape reality and enter a Magic Kingdom with the Fantasy & Fairytales campaign, offered at the brand’s four Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels in Orlando. Rates start at $162 per person, now through Aug. 31, for all-suite accommodations, tickets to Fantasyland and a daydreamer’s park pack. The program features all-suite accommodations for four, four tickets to the Magic Kingdom where the New Fantasyland is located, a disposable camera, four water bottles, and hair up-do and make-up application for the princess in the family. Visit www.staysky.com.
Sample rate is per person based on a family of four traveling for a one-night stay. Offer is subject to availability. Restrictions and other blackout dates may apply.
Expansion, new name at Downtown Disney
Construction has begun on a new expansion that will transform Downtown Disney into the new Disney Springs. The new project will utilize the current waterfront and lakeside charm of the venue. The project will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix of styles, as well as double the amount of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences available. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Caneel Bay, a Rosewood Resort in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, is featuring a “Babymoon Package” ($350) for couples who would like to savor the last vacation pre-baby with an escape to the Caribbean. The package includes a baby gift, a welcome platter of tropical fruits, a trip for two on the Our Sunset Cocktail Cruise (Thursday or Sunday) and a Caneel Bay Memory Box to hold all the keepsakes gathered during the vacation. Rates at Caneel Bay start at $439 per night. Visit www.rosewoodhotels.com.
Alaska cruise program open for booking
Princess Cruises has opened the books on its 2014 Alaska cruise and cruisetour season, which will feature the debut of the line’s largest ship in the state, Crown Princess, plus the return of small-ship cruising aboard Pacific Princess. Throughout the 2014 season, passengers have the opportunity to explore Alaska by both land and sea, with a selection of sailing options aboard seven ships as well as a variety of Princess’ cruisetour options to experience the heart of the state at the company’s riverside wilderness lodges. Highlights of the program include Crown Princess’ debut in the 49th state, Princess’ largest ship to sail in the region, which will cruise on the line’s popular “Voyage of the Glaciers” route through the scenic Gulf of Alaska, joined by Coral Princess and Island Princess. Small ship Pacific Princess, which last sailed in Alaska in 2009, will again bring its intimate cruise experience to Inside Passage cruises from Vancouver. Golden Princess and Grand Princess will offer Inside Passage cruises from Seattle, and Star Princess will depart on 11-day Inside Passage journeys from San Francisco. The cruisetour program combines a seven-day “Voyage of the Glaciers” cruise with three to eight additional nights on land exploring Alaska’s interior. Passengers can pick their perfect Alaska experience with four types of land and sea packages – Denali Explorer, On Your Own, Off the Beaten Path and Connoisseur. All Princess cruisetours include the company’s exclusive wilderness lodges, rail or motorcoach travel, plus the top two attractions in the state – Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park, where visitors spend at least one night exploring the wonders of this area. Visit www.princess.com.
New program for little sailors
Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that the line’s children’s program, Splash Academy, has implemented a brand new “Guppies” program offering interactive programming for kids’ ages six months to three years old. The new program gives parents, with children under the age of three, the opportunity to engage in a variety of sensory-based programs with children including baby art, featuring organic, vegetable-based “Wee Can Too” art products, baby “Rhyme Time,” where a storyteller recites popular nursery rhymes featuring puppets, and “Motion in the Ocean,” a parent and baby mini-workout. Visit www.ncl.com/family.
The FAA-approved Baby B'Air Flight Vest secures babies to their parent so that both baby and parent are comfortable and there is no squirming or potential for baby falling. The Baby B'Air is worn by the infant like a vest. Constructed of 100 percent cotton, the Baby B'Air is used by simply connecting it to the seat belt of the adult. The baby can then be held, fed and even changed while both parent and child remain fastened in their seat. The Baby B'Air retails for $34.95 and can be purchased online at www.babybair.com or in retail stores nationwide.
Florida resident distress rates
Rosen Hotels & Resorts in Orlando have announced the Florida Resident Distress Rates for the 2013 season with the company’s seven hotels opening their doors with special rates for hurricane evacuees and others affected by Florida weather conditions. Free Wi-Fi and pet-friendly (with no additional pet fee with the Distress Rate), prices start at $49.99 per night at Rosen Inn International, Rosen Inn closest to Universal, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista. Visit www.orlandohotels4less.com/hurricane. Guests booking the 2013 Florida Resident Distress Rate at one of the four leisure hotels may add an additional $10 per night to receive two adult breakfast buffets daily. This rate includes the Kids Eat Free Program, where children 9 years and younger eat free when accompanied by an adult purchasing the buffet. Breakfast package must be confirmed at time of booking. Rates at the company’s other hotels start at $79 per night at the Rosen Plaza (www.rosenplaza.com); $89 per night at Rosen Centre (www.rosencentre.com) and $99 per night at Rosen Shingle Creek (www.rosenshinglecreek.com). All guest room rates are subject to applicable taxes, are not applicable for groups or with any other promotions or offers and are based on availability. Guest room rates are offered when a tropical storm or hurricane warning is in effect for any area in Florida and will remain in effect as long as the situation is threatening. Rates also are offered as long as necessary to those who are displaced after a storm. Rosen Shingle Creek, Rosen Centre and Rosen Plaza may assess a fee should the hotels determine a guest room has sustained damage as a result of a pet staying in the room.
New show at Miami Seaquarium
Miami Seaquarium has unveiled its new show, “Sky Riders” as part of the park’s Splashtacular Summer of “Thrills and Chills”. The show which debuted in June runs through August 18. “Sky Riders” features daring motorcycle high wire and acrobatic stunts. The show starts with an inclined motorcycle high wire act, 40 feet off the ground. Acrobats run the motorcycle up and down the incline wires they perform stunts atop the motorcycle while balancing it on the cable. The show then switches gears to fun and laughs with “Tony and his Comedy Trampoline”. The finale of the show are the heart-stopping feats in the Motorcycle Globe of Death, which takes place inside a 14 foot diameter steel mesh cage where two motorcycles crisscross and loop around each other at high-speed. Miami Seaquarium is open to the public 365 days a year. The park provides visitors with a greater understanding and appreciation for marine life through shows, presentations and marine-life exhibits. General admission is $39.95 and $29.95 for children (ages 3-9). Visit www.miamiseaquarium.com.
Couples package in St. Pete
The Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, along the water in downtown St. Petersburg, is featuring a Couples Getaway package available now through December 31. With rates starting at $264 a night, this deal offers: upgraded luxury bay view room, chilled champagne upon arrival, breakfast for two in the resort's Marchand's Bar & Grill or in the privacy of your guest room with in-room dining, and complimentary valet parking. Black out dates apply. Promo code LVU must be entered/mentioned at the time of reservation. Visit http://vinoyrenaissanceresort.com.
New "only in Jacksonville" website
Visit Jacksonville And The Beaches recently unveiled a new website at www.OnlyInJax.com. The site has information on local businesses, special recognitions, restaurants, nightlife, arts, entertainment, adventure, sports, shopping and history that is unique and can only be found in Jacksonville.
New South America land adventures
Silversea Expeditions has introduced new multiple-day land excursions to complement voyages to the Galápagos Islands aboard its Silver Galapagos, a luxury expedition ship set to debut in late September, featuring 50 ocean-view suites (many with private balconies), gourmet cuisine, and the personalized service of a butler. Guests who have the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the Galápagos Islands may now enhance their expedition with journeys to South America. The following land adventures feature deluxe accommodations, all transportation, transfers, guided sightseeing and some meals. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. Among the new programs is a Machu Picchu Explorer to the Lost City of the Incas. In addition to exploring this monument of human achievement, participants will enjoy a scenic roundtrip journey in Peru's Vistadome train. Departing from Lima, the program is available as a pre- or post-cruise option of 3 or 4 nights. Prices start from $3,299. The Silver Galapagos sails Saturday to Saturday on seven-day roundtrip voyages from Baltra Island, following either a western or north central route. On complimentary expeditions ashore guided by an experienced expedition team (certified by the Galápagos National Park Service), Silversea's guests may experience up-close encounters with an abundance of wildlife that includes sun-basking land iguanas, giant tortoises, blue- and red-footed boobies, colorful marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins and Darwin's famous finches. Visit www.silversea.com.
The Aruba Marriott’s Resort & Stellaris Casino is featuring a cultural package including accommodations, two Aruban pastechis per stay from the Lobby Café, two tickets to the Carubbian festival (6 p.m. to 20 p.m. on Thursdays, with roundtrip transportation for two, reservations required) and salsa lessons at the resort pool (on Wednesday only). Rates are from $259.90 per night and the offer is valid through Dec. 20. Visit www.arubamarriott.com and use promo code E0N.
St. Kitts program
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino is featuring a program that provides transportation to and from the airport, breakfast daily and room tax and gratuities for maid and bellman. Rates are from $186.00 per night and the offer is valid through Sept. 30. Visit www.stkittsmarriott.com and use promo code TRS.
Tall ships brochure available
Tall ship cruise line, Star Clippers, has published its Fall 2013-Spring 2014 Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama Canal brochure highlighting its Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama seasons for its three ships that includes two Panama Canal transits and maiden calls at Jamaica and Grand Cayman. In addition to the itineraries, the 53-page brochure is filled with photos, detailed maps, port descriptions and Costa Rica land tour options. The itineraries feature the line’s free air program that covers round-trip airfare and air taxes/surcharges from select cities (including Miami) so guests pay a single cruise rate that includes the free air. For guests wishing to make their air arrangements independently, Star Clippers offers a credit off of the air-inclusive cruise fare. Visit www.starclippers.com.
Environmentally friendly features on new ship
Norwegian Cruise Line announced several new environmentally friendly and technologically advanced innovations on its newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, that debuted this spring. Norwegian Breakaway incorporates a number of emission reducing, energy saving and enhanced safety systems. Among the emission reducing and environmentally friendly features of Norwegian Breakaway is a new generation of ABB XO Azipods, that are smaller and more streamlined, which, together with a new Azipod Dynamic Optimizing system, enhance steering and turning angles, leading to savings in fuel and reduction in emissions. The Azipods are also equipped with a featured called an "x-tail," which reduces fuel consumption even further. Visit www.breakaway.ncl.com.
Partnership for cruise line
The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), founded nearly 200 years ago to advance geographical science, is to enhance Silversea voyages by providing detailed scientific and historical information to guests embarking on some of the greatest journeys around the globe. The Society, based in London, and whose Royal Patron is Queen Elizabeth II, is partnering with luxury expedition cruise operator Silversea to share some of the world's most important geographical research and archive material with guests traveling on Silversea expedition ships, including the Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos. The Society has always been a notable supporter and communicator of the work of geographical explorers and scientists, including that of Charles Darwin, Dr. David Livingstone, Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary. Silversea guests will benefit from a range of specialist visual and written content from the Society, enabling guests to learn even more about their expeditions to destinations including Antarctica, the Arctic, the Galápagos, South America, Africa and Europe. Visit www.silversea.com.
New to Rosemary Beach
Opening this summer, The Pearl brings a new level of luxury to Rosemary Beach on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Overlooking the picturesque Gulf of Mexico, The Pearl is a 55-room resort, with almost all rooms featuring a private balcony, in-room spa products by skincare expert Kerstin Florian, a refrigerator stocked with Nordaq FRESH water and juices, and a Keurig Coffee & Tea Brewing System, as well as complimentary valet parking for overnight guests. Amenities include the Intelity App, enabling guests to book dinner reservations, room service, or place concierge requests before or during their stay via an iPad available in each room. The resort is also the first in the United States to offer in-room Apple TV’s, allowing guests to stream wirelessly from the complimentary high-speed wireless internet. Locally inspired spa treatments, fitness center and tennis club, private cabanas, poolside service from Sol Luna, complimentary morning and afternoon refreshments like fresh fruit and house-made sorbet and regional flavors at Havana Beach restaurant are among other highlights of the resort. Rooms start from $279 in the low season and $459 in the peak spring and summer months. Visit www.thepearlrb.com.
New, free, on-demand stateroom programming
Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess which debuted in early June, features new (and complimentary) On-Demand Stateroom Programming. The in-room television entertainment offers an array of on-demand movies and other programming options. The entire library of hundreds of movies, as well as classic and contemporary television show episodes, is offered free to passengers. The new system also offers a live feed from the ship’s television studio Princess Live! Visit www.princess.com/royalprincess.
Windstar Cruises has announced its new 2014 Dreams of Tahiti voyages are open for sale. Wind Spirit, the line’s newly renovated 148-passenger sailing yacht, will sail seven-day voyages from the capital city of Papeete, Tahiti, May-Nov. 2014 with stops through the Society Islands of Moorea, Tahaa, Raiatea, Huahine, and Bora Bora. Dreams of Tahiti will sail through to November 7, 2014, with voyages starting from $2,799 per person. The week-long voyage on Wind Spirit begins in Papeete, Tahiti and sails to: Moorea (overnight); Tahaa; Raiatea (overnight); Huahine (overnight); and Bora Bora (overnight). Visit www.WindstarCruises.com.
New attraction at Gatorland
Gatorland in Orlando recently opened a new exhibit, Panther Springs. The exhibit, which is more than 2,000 square feet, features Florida panther siblings Neiko and Lucy, will also serve as a chance to educate visitors about the official Florida animal. Visit www.gatorland.com.
New entertainment experiences for new ship
Norwegian Getaway, slated to feature cruises from Miami beginning in February 2014 has announced an all-new dining and entertainment experience, The Illusionarium. The Illusionarium will envelope guests in the world of magic, inviting them to experience the astonishing illusions of world-class magicians and special effects. The new experience is the result of collaboration between Norwegian’s groundbreaking entertainment team and Broadway director/choreographer Patricia Wilcox, Tony Award winning scenic designer David Gallo and veteran magician Jeff Hobson. The show’s design is inspired by the science fiction of Jules Verne, the artistry of legendary magicians such as Houdini and the popularity of recent blockbusters featuring supernatural characters. As guests wait to enter the portal of The Illusionarium, they will be surrounded by antique spell books, magical interactive artifacts and relics in a steampunk-inspired environment. The centerpiece of the Illusionarium is a 30-foot diameter video dome. The Illusionarium will offer 12 performances per cruise, two shows per night. Among other entertainment highlights, Norwegian Getaway will also feature a display of fireworks on every cruise. As guests dance the night away under the stars in the open-air Spice H20 venue at the aft of the ship, a fireworks show will light up the night sky, right above the ship. The show is set to music, creating a finale to the cruise. Visit www.getaway.ncl.com.
New Orlando eatery
La Strada Italian Kitchen recently opened its doors in Downtown Orlando. From chefs Enzo Torre and Michael Kahn, the casual restaurant has a quick-service fine foods concept and features authentic homemade fare. Visit www.lastradausa.net.
New Key West museum
A museum depicting the natural and historic resources of Dry Tortugas National Park and historic Fort Jefferson has opened in Key West, offering visitors an easily accessible introduction to one of America’s most remote national parks.
The Dry Tortugas and Key West Bight Interpretive Center is located at 240 Margaret St. on the Key West Bight, a natural deep-water harbor on the island’s Gulf of Mexico side. The free-admission museum also spotlights the culturally rich history of the bight. Dry Tortugas National Park, lying approximately 70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, is made up of seven tiny coral-and-sand islands. It includes Fort Jefferson, one of the largest brick structures in the Western Hemisphere, on which construction began in 1846. During the Civil War Fort Jefferson served as a Union military prison for captured deserters and others.
Museum highlights include an 11-foot-diameter scale model of the historic fort as it appeared in the 1870s, a 30-foot-long photomural depicting the bight’s historic highlights, an exhibit featuring a life-size replica of the fort’s most famous prisoner, Dr. Samuel Mudd, and a hands-on children’s exhibit showcasing the natural resources of the park. The center’s opening is among several Florida Keys events celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida and the Keys island chain. Adventurer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted the Keys May 15, 1513, according to Spanish chronicler Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas. Later, June 21, de Leon and his shipmates discovered a group of islands they named Las Tortugas (The Turtles) for the scores of sea turtles they harvested there. Operated by Yankee Freedom, whose ferry is the only commercial boat licensed to carry passengers to Dry Tortugas National Park, the interpretive center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Visit www.yankeefreedom.com.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to expand
Universal Orlando Resort has announced the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Expected to open in 2014, Diagon Alley will be located at Universal Studios Florida and feature new shops, restaurants and an interactive ride based on Gringotts Bank. Hogwarts Express will provide transportation between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade located at Islands of Adventure. Visit www.universalorlando.com.
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation recently reopened following the completion of an $85 million Re-Imagination project. The resort features a lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking an infinity edge pool and the Atlantic Ocean. The Omni has added 155 additional oceanfront guest rooms, including 27 suites, for a total of 404 oceanfront rooms. The tiered pool deck with 600 loungers (one for each guest bed) includes an adult infinity edge pool, a large family pool, and kid's splash area. The resort is expanding its programs for kids and teens with new recreation at Camp Amelia, Just for Families events, a Teen concierge, and Gamers, a hangout just for teens. Guests can enjoy the new Heron’s Cove Adventure Golf with 18 family friendly, putt-putt holes. The re-imagination also includes an 80,000-square-feet in meeting space, $3.8 million in improvements to the golf facilities, a spa renovation adding two couple’s relaxation rooms, and a variety of new dining options. Visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com.
New Catholic pilgrimages to Fatima
Regina Tours/1-800-CATHOLIC has announced a new tour, Catholic and Cultural Portugal for 2013. The program is a seven-night exploration of Portugal, including stays in Fatima, Lisbon and Oporto. Along the journey, travelers will visit the fishing center of Setúbal; the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Évora, notable for its Cathedral and Sacred Art Museum; and the historical city of Tomar, home of the 12th Century Castle and Convent of the Order of Christ. Throughout the week, tour-goers will visit Portugal's most sacred sites and learn about the country's spiritual life and Catholic history, while simultaneously discovering Portugal's architectural, artistic, musical and culinary treasures. During their two-night stay in Fatima, pilgrimage-goers can join the Rosary Candlelight Procession in the evening and day trip to the hamlet of Aljustrel to see the homes of the three Fatima children. The tour continues with a visit to Valinhos, where the apparition of the Virgin Mary was reported in August of 1917, by the three Fatima children. A visit to the Parish Church, where the Fatima children were baptized is included. The following day, travelers can enjoy visits to Coimbra, where Mass will be held at the Carmelite Convent where sister Lucia once lived, and the Monastery of St. Clare, the resting place of the patron saint of Portugal, Queen Santa Isabel. The tour continues to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Oporto, where travelers can taste the city's famous port wines and see the extraordinary woodcarvings in the St. Francis Church. Stops along the journey back to Lisbon include the canal city of Aveiro; the town of Batalha, home of a 14th Century monastery; the fishing village of Nazaré; the city of Alcobaça's 12th century monastery; and the beautiful walled town of Óbidos. During the final day in Lisbon, tour-goers will visit the historical area of Belém, home of Jeronimos Monastery and the birthplace of delectable Portuguese pastries, pastel de natas. A visit to Sintra and Cascais, two romantic villages on the outskirts of Lisbon is on the itinerary before the tour group will enjoy a special farewell dinner in one of Lisbon's famous fado restaurants, where they can enjoy some of the region's renowned seafood dishes while listening to extraordinary vocalists sing fado, Portugal's soulful musical tradition. Prices for Catholic and Cultural Portugal range from $2,698 to $3,198 per person, depending on the season. Price includes round trip airfare from New York City area, five nights' first class accommodations with breakfast and dinner daily. Visit www.regina-tours.com.
Celebrating Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s classic “Pride and Prejudice,” Cunard Line will offer a special site tour highlighting the famed author’s regional ties to Southampton, England, Cunard’s home port. Four-day, three-night tours are available pre- and post-sailing for select Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossings and Europe voyages now through December, and include lodgings and select meals. Site visits include the Jane Austen’s House Museum, the 17th century Chawton village home where Austen wrote, Winchester Cathedral where she is buried, the Chawton House Library that Austen frequented and that has a robust collection of 18th century women’s literary works, and Salisbury Cathedral, “Sense and Sensibility” filming site. Sample voyages featuring these pre- and post-voyage tours include, but are not limited to, the following: July 17 for the seven-day July 20 westbound Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton to New York; August 5 for the seven-day August 8 westbound Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton to New York; Sept. 29 for the seven-day Sept. 22 eastbound Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton; and Dec. 11 for the 11-day Nov. 30 Iberian Serenade roundtrip from Southampton. For more information about the special “Pride and Prejudice” 200th Anniversary site tours, visit http://www.cunard.com/janeausten.
For more information about Queen Mary 2, visit www.cunard.com.
Beach fishing classes on Amelia Island
Amelia Angler Outfitters is offering beach fishing classes. The two-hour class is held at Peter's Point, where students enjoy beach fishing and are taught surf fishing techniques. The cost is $50 for adults and $40 for children 16 and under. Additional fishing classes are held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Amelia Angler Outfitters, which includes a PowerPoint presentation, a two-hour class on the water and lunch. Cost is $75 for adults and $50 for children 16 and under. Guests can schedule a class by calling 904-261-2870. Visit www.ameliaangler.com.
New vessel to be launched
Compagnie du Ponant, a French-flagged cruise line, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the July launch of its newest ship, Le Soléal. The 132-stateroom state-of-the-art vessel will be the fourth luxury cruise yacht in the five-star company's flotilla, joining similarly designed sister ships Le Boreal (2010) and L'Austral (2011) and the 32-stateroom, three-masted sailing yacht, Le Ponant. Flexible and able to sail in waters not accessible to larger ships, these yachts visit exotic ports not found on many itineraries, allowing their 64 to 264 guests to discover engaging new experiences aboard and ashore during 3 - to 21-night cruises throughout the Arctic, Antarctica, Russia, Asia, the U.S. and Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Northern Europe and the Baltic, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Greek Isles and Turkey. Options abound, from five-star polar expeditions, cultural cruises and ocean voyages to dive-, golf- and culinary-themed cruises. Le Soléal's inaugural season will explore the "Secret Arctic" in the company of leading polar expedition guides, lecturers and naturalists, visiting adventurous destinations that include little-known spots in Iceland, Greenland and along the Northwest Passage that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Bering Strait. Visit www.ponantpoles.com or http://en.ponant.com.
Package celebrates Florida’s 500 in Key West
To celebrate Florida’s 500th birthday, Ocean Key Resort & Spa prepares to toast the southernmost tip of Florida in true Key West fashion with the "Old Town Get Down" package. Guests are invited to leave conventional lives behind and celebrate the playful whimsy of Key West with opportunities to explore local attractions, dinner overlooking the sparkling Gulf waters, and official Conch Republic passports. Valid now through Dec. 19 ($2,499 for two-night minimum stay), the "OLD TOWN GET DOWN PACKAGE" includes luxury Harborview two bedroom suite, one day bike rentals for island adventures, one day tickets to Hemingway House, Audubon House & Gardens and the Little White House, official Conch Republic Passport per person, two tropical cocktails at Sunset Pier per person, per day, ocean view dinner for four at Hot Tin Roof. Visit www.oceankey.com.
Marriott summer savings
Thirty JW Marriott, Renaissance, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, and Gaylord Hotels in Florida are featuring the Summer Suntastic Savings event, with benefits based on where you stay. Valid on travel from May 15 – Sept. 30, perks range from discounted Great Rates to free meals for kids and complimentary amenities. Rates for the Summer Suntastic Savings event start at $99. Visit www.marriottsummersuntasticsavings.com. Booking window is from now through July 21 for travel May 15 – Sept. 30.
For Florida teachers and school employees on Amelia Island
August through December, the 85-room Amelia Hotel at the Beach is offering teachers and school employees a standard room rate of $69 per night. Now through July, the hotel is offering a 10 percent discount on rack rates for standard rooms. Guests enjoy complimentary Healthy Breakfast each morning, free high-speed wireless Internet and more. To receive the special rates, guests must call the property at 877-263-5428 and mention rate code TECH. All discounts are subject to availability and will require Florida Educator identification upon check in. Certain blackout dates apply. The offer cannot be combined with other discounts or specials. The offer may not be valid during events or holidays.
Sailing for a cause
Princess Cruises’ first-ever cruise to support U.S. veterans will feature a number of special guests including former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen (Ret.); retired senior officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force; an award-winning war correspondent; and other respected speakers, authors and panelists. The groundbreaking sailing will raise funds for two veterans’ organizations: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Inc. and Operation Homefront Inc. The voyage is expected to generate $1 million for the two charities. Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew, a Vietnam veteran himself, will be on board to host the cruise. He will be joined by special guests Admiral Mullen, former Army Chief of Staff General George Casey (Ret.), former Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz (Ret.), and former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead (Ret.), who will each host military branch gatherings throughout the voyage. The senior officers’ wives, Deborah Mullen, Sheila Casey, Suzie Schwartz and Ellen Roughead will take part in a panel discussion centered on the lives of military families and the changing roles and challenges of spouses before, during and after deployment. Additionally, guest lecturers will include award-winning journalist and decorated combat correspondent Joe Galloway. The Western Caribbean cruise will sail November 5-9 roundtrip from Houston aboard Caribbean Princess, with a call at Progreso, Mexico. Cruise fares range from $549 to $1,649 per person double. A portion of each passenger’s cruise fare totaling approximately $500,000 will be matched by Princess Cruises for a total of $1 million earmarked for the two veterans’ organizations to share equally. As part of Princess’ ongoing Military Cruise Benefit Program, active and retired military personnel choosing to book this cruise will receive a $50 onboard credit. The cruise launches Princess Cruises’ new "Cruising for a Cause" initiative where the company will dedicate entire sailings to support select charitable causes. This new, industry-leading program will provide the line’s passengers, many of whom are looking for opportunities to make positive contributions to their communities and the world, a way to make a difference even as they vacation. Visit www.princess.com/cruisingforacause.
Hotel building skybridge to Orange County Convention Center
Rosen Hotels & Resorts is building a new skybridge connecting the Rosen Plaza, its 800-room convention hotel, with the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). The pedestrian skybridge, expected to be completed in the fall, will be named the Gary Sain Memorial Bridge, in honor of the previous Visit Orlando President & CEO agency who passed away in May 2012. Sain had led the region's main tourism-marketing since 2007, bringing about reorganization, a new vision and a name change to what had for years been called the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, or Orlando CVB. Construction of the $1.5 million bridge will be entirely funded by Rosen Hotels & Resorts, completing the final link in connecting OCCC with adjacent International Drive hotels. Rosen Plaza's sister property, Rosen Centre, installed an aerial walkway for pedestrians in March 2011. The bridges are designed to provide meetings attendees with a safe, weather proof and traffic-free "commute" from their guestroom to the convention center. Visit www.rosenplaza.com.
"Fun shops" from "Fun ships"
Shopping on Carnival.com, the cruise industry’s most visited website, recently got easier with the launch of Carnival Cruise Lines’ revamped online retail section, "The Fun Shops," available at www.carnival.com/funshops. The redesign includes a totally new "look and feel," as well as simpler navigation choices like shopping by product, by occasion or one of Carnival’s four exclusive branded options: Cruise Cash, Cherry on Top, Funnel Gear and Portside Liquor. The site also marks the initial phase of a product expansion with new gifting options such as Carnival branded gear or chocolate-covered strawberries rolled in red velvet crumbs. The Fun Shops can be used to buy a gift for anyone booked to sail on a Carnival cruise. If users are looking to surprise a guest with treats while on board, they can click on the site’s new virtual "Booking Buddy," which makes it easy to connect their order directly to a guest’s reservation without having to spoil the surprise by finding out information like their booking number. The "Gift Finder" feature is also new to the site and helps users select a present for a booked guest, ranging from special-occasion delicacies, flowers, stateroom celebratory decorations and themed gift packages. Some of the most popular gifts include cakes, festive cabin décor, cooler packages and high seas gift sets, which are delivered to guests once they board the ship. For additional information and reservations on any of Carnival’s "Fun Ship" visit www.carnival.com.
Culinary features on Anna Maria Island
Mainsail Beach Inn on Florida’s Anna Maria Island has partnered with the Beach Bistro to offer a number of culinary luxuries to guests of the popular beachfront escape. Mainsail Beach Inn now offers every guest (21 years old or older with valid I.D.) one welcome complimentary glass of champagne during Beach Bistro’s happy hour, “Beaching at the Bistro for Sunset,” as well as, a new room service menu, including a “course by course” special occasion menu. From June 1 through June 30, Beach Inn guests will also receive an additional 25 percent discount while dining at Beach Bistro Sunday through Thursday. Visit www.MainsailBeachInn.com.
Staying fit in Fort Lauderdale
The Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale is featuring a new Stay Fit, Stay Here package. The package includes one fitness class per person (choice of Yoga, Pilates, Spinning, Zumba, Kickboxing-based on weekly schedule); one Beach Bootcamp Session; and a 30-minute health and fitness consultation with Harbor Beach personal trainer and nutrition expert. Rates start at $249 per night. Valid through September 30. Visit www.harborbeachmarriott.com. Promo code is Z97.
Florida residents offer in Palm Beach
The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club in Palm Beach is featuring a Florida Resident Rate with up to 25 percent off and including complimentary valet parking. Advance reservations are required and the offer is based on availability. Proof of Florida residency required at check-in. Offer is for up to two rooms per person and is valid for stays through Sept. 30. Restrictions apply and offer is subject to end without notice. Visit www.theBrazilianCourt.com.
Family program in Aruba
Aruba has introduced a new island-wide “One Happy Family” program featuring deals, incentives and activities now through Sept. 30. Aruba Tourism Authority, several tour operators and more than 10 on-island properties have partnered on this program, which includes an interactive VIK (Very Important Kid) component and culminates in a week-long trip giveaway to the One happy island. Visitors who book a stay at a participating hotel or resort and mention the “One Happy Family” package receive free nightly accommodations and daily breakfast for children under 12 years old, a souvenir gift for the family, VIK benefits, and discounts and offers on island attractions and activities through Red Sail Sports, De Palm Tours, Pelican Adventures, Mermaid Divers, Jolly Pirates Sailing & Snorkeling, Gold Mine Ranch, Discovery Glass Bottom Boat Cruise, Butterfly Farm, Fofoti Tours and more. Upon check-in at participating hotels, children enjoy a VIK cocktail and are awarded with a VIK passport featuring several of Aruba’s kid-friendly hot spots, including the Baby Beach, Archaeological Museum, History Museum, California Lighthouse, Aruba Aloe Factory and the Arikok National Park, which covers nearly 20 percent of the island with caves, hidden beaches, cacti and indigenous fauna. As families visit and explore each of these locations, the VIK-holders are challenged with answering questions and completing puzzles. Once finished, kids submit their passports to the hotel to be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a one-week trip for four (airfare included) back to Aruba. Winners will be announced at the end of September. Participating hotel partners include Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, Divi Aruba All Inclusive, Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort, Divi Dutch Village, Divi Aruba Phoenix, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino, MVC Eagle Beach, Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa, Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Talk of the Town Hotel and Beach Club, Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive and The Mill Resort & Suites. Visit www.aruba.com.
Coconut Grove weddings
June, the traditional month for weddings is just around the corner, and those planning South Florida nuptials may wish to consider the Mayfair Hotel & Spa in Coconut Grove. With more than 15,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, the hotel can accommodate small to large weddings, grand receptions and catered social events. Located minutes from Miami’s Biscayne Bay, the hotel offers an open-air courtyard with tropical plants and an Asian water garden. Other facilities include a 4,500-square-foot Jurlique Spa featuring organic products produced in Australia and a 24-hour fitness center. Each hotel suite boasts private balconies and Japanese hot tubs. The Rooftop Cabana Club offers panoramic views of Miami's Biscayne Bay and guests can enjoy the heated, outdoor pool surrounded by private cabanas with flat screen TVs. Visit www.mayfairhotelandspa.com.
Official opening date for Atlantis home
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has announced the grand opening date of its 90,000-square-foot, $100 million home for space shuttle Atlantis: June 29. The exhibit not only will showcase Atlantis as if it were in space—raised 30 feet off the ground and rotated 43 degrees—but also will tell the compelling story of the entire shuttle program, including the thousands of people behind this incredible feat of engineering, its key role in the development of the International Space Station and the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as how it paved the way for today’s new space programs and the future of space exploration. More than 60 interactive exhibits and simulators will provide guests with a perspective on the shuttle’s complex systems, components and capabilities. Visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
Celebrity chef to create restaurant on Miami-based ship
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that celebrity chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will create and oversee the opening of his seafood restaurant, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, on the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Getaway, which will sail year-round to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami beginning February, 2014. The new restaurant is located in the ship’s hub amongst three expansive, action-packed decks called 678 Ocean Place and includes outdoor spaces along The Waterfront, the ship’s oceanfront promenade. The restaurant will bring a luxury seafood dining experience to Norwegian Getaway, utilizing all of the ingredients and techniques that Zakarian employs in his land-based establishments, including his signature modern presentations to three distinct dining locations on board: Ocean Blue, Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, a more casual dining option serving fun and easy fare and The Raw Bar, serving crustaceans and wines by the glass. In developing the Ocean Blue concept for Norwegian’s newest ship, Zakarian orchestrated every aspect of the restaurants, from the menus to the uniforms and the glassware. On select sailings, Zakarian will also host meet-and-greets with Norwegian Getaway guests, along with in-person cooking demonstrations and intimate cooking experiences for smaller groups. The first location of Ocean Blue premiered on board Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway’s New York City-based sister ship in April 2013. Visit www.ncl.com.
For babies on the go
Invented by two Moms by accident during a playdate, the six-in-one Babee Covee is a baby blanket and cover that can be used as a car seat “tent” cover, stroller cover, shopping cart cover, high chair cover, nursing cover and playtime blanket to help protect babies and toddlers from germs when they travel. Prices start at $39,99, Visit www.babeecovee.com.
No need to leave Fido behind
Vacationers traveling to Orlando don’t have to leave Fifi or Fido behind with Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ VIP ¿ Very Important Pet ¿ package that enables guests to bring their family pet with them on vacation at no extra charge for $69 per night. The VIP Package is available at all four of Rosen Hotels & Resorts' value-priced, AAA Three Diamond properties, including the Quality Inn International, Rosen Inn closest to Universal, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista. Not only will guests save the money they would have spent boarding their pet in a kennel, but they'll also enjoy the following perks when they book the VIP package now through Dec. 31: Customary pet fee of an additional $15 per night waived as part of this package; complimentary American breakfast buffet for two each morning; "Pet Welcome Kit," which includes a pet feeding bowl, dog or cat treats, eco-friendly "relief" bags, a "Pet in Room" door hanger and an ID collar to be worn by the pet throughout the stay; complimentary internet/WiFi in guest rooms and public areas; complimentary daily scheduled transportation to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Wet 'n Wild Orlando (reservations required). The Clarion Inn LBV also provides complimentary shuttle service to Walt Disney World theme parks; complimentary parking; deluxe accommodations with two double beds, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and electronic safe; and kids stay free and eat free (children 9 and under eat free with paying adult). Pets must weigh less than 50 pounds, be put on a leash and supervised at all times when outside the guest room. To view the complete pet policy, visit www.orlandohotels4less.com.
New Galapagos itineraries to be featured
Silversea Expeditions is offering special cruise and land packages for its 2013 Galapagos program. Eight new shorter Silver Galapagos voyages of just three and four days have been combined with pre- and post-cruise South America land adventures to create a collection of vacation packages of eight, 10 or 11 days. The new four-day, Baltra-to-San Cristobal expedition voyages, encompassing the islands of Santa Cruz, Genovesa, and Seymour Norte, are: 8301A, Sept. 28 – Oct. 2; 8307A, Nov. 9 – 13; 8309A: Nov. 23 – 27; and 8311A: Dec. 7 – 11. The new three-day, San Cristobal-to-Baltra voyages, tracing a route through the islands of Española, Santa Cruz, and Plazas Sur, are: 8303B, Oct. 16 – 19; 8307B: Nov. 13 – 16; 8309B: Nov. 27 – 30 and 8311B: Dec. 11 – 14. Silver Galapagos expedition cruises offer adventurous travelers the life-enriching chance to discover a pristine paradise that has long been regarded as a natural laboratory of evolution. On complimentary expeditions ashore guided by an expedition team (certified by the Galapagos National Park Service), Silversea's guests may experience up-close encounters with wildlife that includes sun-basking land iguanas, giant tortoises, blue- and red-footed boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins and Darwin's famous finches. The cruise and land packages include an expedition voyage aboard the all-suite Silver Galapagos, Silversea's air package (between Quito or Guayaquil and Galapagos), the Galapagos National Park entrance fee, plus pre- or post-cruise South America land extensions. The land programs include deluxe hotel accommodations, all transportation, transfers, guided sightseeing and some meals. While air travel between guest's home and Lima, Quito or Guayaquil is not included, optional roundtrip air packages from select U.S. and Canadian gateways to South America are available through Silversea. Sample cruise and land package options include an eight-day Machu Picchu & Galapagos Package providing two days surrounded by the history and culture of Ecuador's capital on the "Quito Discovery" land extension before embarking on their three-day Galapagos expedition cruise. After witnessing the natural treasures of the Galapagos Islands, guests will then journey to Peru to spend three days exploring the Lost City of the Incas on a "Machu Picchu Explorer" land adventure, highlighted by a journey in Peru's Vistadome train. This eight-day package is priced from $6,713 per person, double. Visit www.silversea.com/expeditions.
Mosquito repellent you don’t spray on
Campers who would like to keep mosquitoes and other insects away may wish to check out the ThermaCELL Outdoor Insect-Repellent Lantern. The
Patio Lantern is both an insect repellent device and a functional and portable, long-lasting outdoor LED lantern, with both functions being usable separately or together. Providing a 15x15 foot mosquito-free zone, it is 98 percent effective (tested and used by the Department of Defense and the United States Army). It is also non-toxic and non-intrusive, being DEET-free, silent, portable and odor free. It weighs 13 ounces. ThermaCELL utilizes allethrin, an artificial version of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers. The Lantern provides ambient lighting for the campsite or other outdoor setting. Designed with a frosted globe, the lantern offers two illumination settings. The butane cartridge that powers the mosquito repellent provides 12 hours of power and is located on the interior for aesthetics and ease-of-use. Eight LEDs provide the light from the lantern, which has two settings controlled by a switch that is located on the base of the lantern and is powered by four AA batteries. Cost is $31.99. Info: www.mosquitorepellent.com.
Travel planning toolkit from AARP
AARP has introduced a travel planning toolkit that helps travelers compare costs when planning and booking their upcoming trips. Great for travelers, especially those 50 and older, it helps them determine whether to fly or drive to their destination. For those who have already decided to drive, the AARP planning toolkit helps them map their route and calculate how much money they can save along the way using AARP member discounts. Once they decide how they plan to travel, members can book every aspect of their trip – flight, rental car, hotel and even cruise – on www.AARPDiscounts.com.
Family vacations are vehicles to discover each other
A Disney Time Survey of 1,004 parents conducted by Kelton revealed that parents view vacations as a key to cultivate family bonding and strengthen quality time. Ninety-seven percent of parents say that their children have gotten to know new things about them while taking family trips, including more about their parents’ childhoods (86 percent) or facts about other family members (74 percent). Almost one in two parents feel that out of all the time they spend with their children, only half of it, at most, could be classified as “quality time.” However, while on vacation, parents report that 82 percent of time would fall in the “quality time” category. When they do vacation together, the whole family is inclined to be more excited (77 percent), relaxed (75 percent), silly (68 percent), calm (54 percent) and even more affectionate (54 percent). Parents report that they eat an average of 10 meals with their children in a typical week at home. However, when on a seven-day vacation, families say they almost double the number of meals they eat together (19 meals vs. 10 meals) – and 68 percent claim they would eat all 21 meals (three meals per day) as a family.
Visit www.wdwnews.com/disneytime and www.disneylandnews.com/disneytime.
Sweet dreams at home after the cruise
Celebrity Cruises has joined forces with Reverie, the producer of its onboard sleep system, to offer guests the same level of comfort they enjoy onboard Celebrity’s ships, in their homes. A new online retail program now gives the opportunity to buy the Reverie Dream Sleep System, exclusive Celebrity eXhale linens, Reverie pillows, and other bedroom accessories. Celebrity’s onboard sleep program mattresses are made with natural rubber and bamboo – sustainable materials that are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and dust mite-resistant.
Golf package on St. Kitts
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort is featuring a Couples Golf & Spa Package. The program includes breakfast buffet daily for two; two spa treatments; two rounds of golf; bottle of wine on arrival; golf bag storage and room tax and gratuities for maid and bellman.
Rates are from $256 per night and the offer is valid through July 31. Visit www.stkittsmarriott.com and use promo code ES6.
Cruise document holder becomes tablet case
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has introduced a cruise vacation documents holder that can double as a keepsake tablet case for such devices as iPad, Kindle or Nook after the voyage. The new holder, which is soft, brown faux leather, snaps with a magnetic closure and features the line’s logo embossed on the front cover. Visit www.RSSC.com.
Enchanted evenings at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Waldorf Astoria Orlando is celebrating summer with another season of Enchanted Evenings, running weekends May 24 through Sept. 1. This summer-long schedule includes ongoing events and special activities from dawn to dusk and into the evening throughout the season for all guests staying at Waldorf Astoria Orlando, located near Walt Disney World Resort. Daily poolside activities, live entertainment, regatta races and special culinary experiences are some of the activities planned to enhance the summer vacation experience for every member of the family. Enchanted Evening highlights include (additional fees per event may apply) a Champagne check-in on from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays with a complimentary glass of champagne. Guests are invited to experience Enchanted Evenings with Waldorf Astoria Orlando Great Escape package. Offer includes daily breakfast for two. Visit www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com/enchantedevenings.
Amelia Island cook-off lures participants, visitors
The Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau has announced a partnership with Smithfield Rib Super Series for the 2013 Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off, Aug. 23-24. One of 12 high-profile Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned events to participate in the series, the Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off will thus offer professional teams added incentive for competing in the 2013 event. The Smithfield Rib Super Series is a points chase competition with bonus money payouts for the top three finalists in the Ribs category, at each contest, and overall. All participating teams will also receive two complimentary racks of Smithfield Spareribs to use as their turn-in or for experimentation. Teams participating in the points chase will also earn points based on their finishing position at their best four events in the series, making them eligible for additional bonus Grand Prize money. To participate, teams must be registered for the Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off and visit the KCBS Web site at http://www.kcbs.us/smithfield.php for additional registration. Participating teams must be registered at least two weeks prior to the event. For those who just want to taste some of the goodies, The Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off offers barbeque lovers a two-day, family-friendly event with free live musical entertainment, and barbeque samplings from some of the top competitors in the country. Visit www.gstailgatecookoff.com.
Summer’s a blast in Orlando
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is presenting the third annual “SummerBlast!” event May 24 through Sept. 1. This summer-long schedule of special programming and activities will celebrate 101 days of summer vacation and help guests’ kick-start a memorable Orlando vacation, starting with a fireworks display May 25 in honor of Memorial Day Weekend. The “SummerBlast!” activities are spread throughout the weekend, so families can also plan to enjoy area attractions and take advantage of the resort’s complimentary transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort parks. Events include daily “SummerBlast!” Pool Activities: The resort’s recreation team is ready with a full schedule, including activities like mini-football games, water basketball, float races, Marco Polo, candy bingo, beach ball dodge ball, H20 Pac Man, line dance fun, hula hoop games, pool relay games, float races, etc. (Activities vary daily, weather permitting.). Guests can save 15 percent on the Bed and Breakfast Package with the Great Escape. Rates starting at $152 based on a two-night stay. Visit www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com/summerblast.
For coffee lovers at Disney World
Starbucks will be opening locations at Disney theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. When it reopens in early summer, Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom will keep its name and theme and continue to serve Disney favorites such as cookies, brownies and seasonal cupcakes, in addition to Starbucks signature beverages and other menu items. At Epcot, Starbucks products will be featured when the Fountain View location reopens for midsummer. Each Starbucks location inside a Disney Park will reflect the theme of its surroundings.
In other coffee news, Joffrey’s was recently named the official specialty coffee of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Vacation Club properties. Through this agreement, Joffrey’s becomes the first Disney Corporate Alliance sponsor in the category of specialty coffee and will have expanded presence at select Disney dining locations and resort hotels. Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort are already familiar with Joffrey’s. The company has been operating specialty coffee kiosks throughout the property since 1995. In addition to their kiosks, Joffrey's supplies the espresso and specialty coffee blends for the Fine/Signature dining restaurants at both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. With the new alliance, Joffrey’s will develop unique coffee blends just for Disney guests that will be available at additional locations at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and Disney Vacation Club properties, including quick service restaurants and in-room coffee service for guests at select hotels. Guests will also have the chance to bring home those specialty coffees created for Disney through a catalog to be located in their rooms at select hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort and an exclusive online catalog. Visit www.disneyworld.com and www.joffreys.com.
New bowling/dining venue in Orlando
King’s Bowl has announced a new facility, set to open this spring, on International Drive in Orlando. It will feature 22 lanes, two bars, billiards, and a full-service restaurant. Visit www.kingsorlando.com.
Specials on 2014 cruise collection
Regent Seven Seas Cruises recently unveiled its new Summer 2014 Collection featuring more than 60 itineraries in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska, New England, Canada and the Caribbean.The line’s three all-suite ships – Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Voyager -- will visit 17 new ports of call, overnight in 19 popular destinations and sail 23 Extended Voyages from 19- to 44-nights. All sailings include two-for-one fares, bonus savings of up to $15,000 per suite and free round-trip business class air for penthouse suites and higher on European voyages. Visit www.RSSC.com.
Bermuda excursions offerings expanded
In conjunction with the arrival of its newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, launching this May, Norwegian Cruise Line has expanded its tour offerings in Bermuda. The line has added several new excursions that are available only to guests on Norwegian Breakaway, as well as a number of excursions for guests on both Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Dawn, sailing from Boston to Bermuda. The new tour options add to the line’s shore excursion program, which offers guests more than 30 Bermuda excursions. Guests can go reef fishing at night, bike the original Bermuda railway trail and explore the spectacular scenery by paddleboard with the new 2013 Bermuda shore excursions. Norwegian Breakaway guests will also have the opportunity to experience several excursions exclusive to the ship, including the opportunity to explore Bermuda’s natural beauty and hidden treasures with a private boat tour. The new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway will sail 22 seven-day cruises from New York to Bermuda beginning May 12 through Oct 6. Departing on Sundays, the ship will spend three full days in Bermuda, along with three days at sea. Visit www.ncl.com.
Solar charger for cell phones and more
The JuiceBar Multi-Device Pocket Solar Charger ($49.99) stores 2000mAh of clean solar power or indoor lighting in its battery for charging popular mobile devices on demand. It contains a standard USB port that allows use of your own charging cable, unlike other solar chargers that require you to purchase expensive adapters. It works for charging cell phones, handheld game systems, and MP3 players and more. Visit http://cableorganizer.com/pocket-solar-charger.
Summer offers at Disney World
Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista has rolled out summer savings with a special guest resort offer. Guests are able to save up to 30 percent on rooms at select Disney hotels for stays most nights from June 13-Aug. 14. The offer may be booked now through June 14. Visit www.disneyworld.com/special-offers. Also, Florida residents may wish to check out the Discover Disney ticket offering three days park admission for $119 plus tax for adults and children ages three and up. The special Florida resident ticket can be purchased through June 3 for use any day (excluding black-out dates) from now through June 7. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Wedding promotion in Naples
The Naples Beach Hotel is offering a "Grand Opening Celebration Promotion" in honor of its new Gulf-view ballroom for weddings held between Dec. 1, 2013 and Dec. 1, 2014. The promotion includes choice of three of these options: 5 percent off food at one event, or 10 percent off food at two events; complimentary presentation menus; custom signature drink; complimentary aisle markers; hanging lanterns; and 5 percent off the ceremony package. Available for weddings with a minimum of $8,000 in banquet food and beverage at the resort, the wedding must be booked by Dec. 30, 2013, and is based on availability. Call the resort’s Catering Department at (888) 231-2197, and visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com.
Ship to be re-launched with new spaces
Disney Cruise Line’s original vessel, the Disney Magic, launched in 1998, will be re-launched following a dry-dock in September-October that will add new spaces and experiences. Among the new features is a re-designed atrium lobby; plus re-imagined children’s play areas with, among other features, the addition of Marvel characters; and new water play areas including the AquaDunk, a three-story water slide. Guests will step inside the AquaDunk’s translucent tube and the floor beneath them will open like a trap door (oh, wow!). The drop will send the intrepid guests into a swift and splashy ride in a translucent tube that will jut out 20 feet over the side of the ship. Other novelties will include a Senses Spa & Salon (nearly 11,500 square feet of space). Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Behind the scenes tour
Adding to its catalog of on board activities, Cunard Line is offering Behind the Scenes Tours. Led by Cunard senior officers, the tours offer guests unprecedented access to the ships’ private areas, such as the Bridge, Royal Court Theatre, Medical Centre, Engine Control Room, Butchers Shop and the Mooring Deck. Topics range from environmental concerns, such as recycling 15,000 liters of used cooking oil, to the logistics of stocking more than 5,000 lines of consumable products, such as shower gel and beef joints. Available on board Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, the tours last three and a half hours and cost $120 per person. Currently, one tour with a maximum of 16 guests is available per voyage and can be booked on board through the Tours Office. Visit www.cunard.com.
Sweet treats available in Cocoa Beach
Located steps from the Atlantic Ocean along Florida’s eastern coastline, the International Palms Resort and Conference Center Cocoa Beach has added s’mores to its line up of special sweets and treats options. Resort guests can roast marshmallows at the beachside fire pits, and then slide them between graham crackers and a Hershey bar to create a sweet oceanfront delight. The s’mores kits are available for $6 each, and include all the fixings and a roasting stick. Visit www.InternationalPalms.com.
Two-for-one fares on summer 2014 voyages
Oceania Cruises has unveiled its 2014 Summer Collection detailing 90 voyages, 10 new ports of call, an almost entirely new line-up of European itineraries. The line’s five ships – Riviera, Marina, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica – will sail to more than 180 destinations throughout the world. The 2014 cruise collection features 70 European cruises, 93 percent of which are new itineraries, plus 10 Alaska voyages, seven all-new Canada/New England cruises and three Panama Canal voyages. All summer voyages feature two-for-one cruise fares and free airfare with additional bonus savings of up to $3,500 per stateroom if booked by Aug. 31, 2013. Bookings for the 2014 Summer Collection also offer free pre-paid gratuities if made by May 31, 2013. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
The Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites in downtown Naples has announced four
vacation packages that can be enjoyed all year long. Among the offerings is a "High Life, Wild Life Eco Package" stareatures two-night accommodations at the Inn on Fifth, half-day Everglades adventure with Everglades Excursion, including transportation to and from the inn and a 45-minute airboat adventure through the Everglades, upgrade to a Plaza room or better, and late check out. Package prices vary by season and do not include tax or gratuity. Based on availability and package rates are for double occupancy and not available on certain holiday weekends. Visit www.InnonFifth.com.
Delray Beach website
Delray Beach recently launched a new tourism-focused website, www.VisitDelrayBeach.org. The site offers tips on where to stay, what to do, and area special events. Travel specials and packages are also highlighted.
New luxury villas in Delray Beach
The Delray Beach Marriott (www.marriottdelraybeach.com) has unveiled its Villas by the Sea in Delray Beach. This new property, located on the corner of A1A (Ocean Boulevard) and Atlantic Avenue, is comprised of eight luxury ocean view or garden view cottages surrounding a private pool. The one-, two- and three-bedroom Villas offer privacy, with features such as private check-in, an exclusive pool and Jacuzzi, and concierge services. Other amenities include kitchenettes with premium appliances, grocery shopping service, luxury linens and bathrobes, complimentary breakfast basket delivered to the room each morning, spacious living rooms, large verandas, personalized welcome gift upon arrival, and scores of other benefits. Villas guests also have priority to the award-winning N Spa, located on property. Offering a spa menu inspired by earth's essences, N Spa's products and services are nature -inspired from some of the best-known spa brands. The Villas are comprised of four, one-bedroom units, three of which are 1,000 square feet and one that is 520 square feet. One of these units includes a conference room table for eight. There are two, two-bedroom units, both at 1,250 square feet; and two, three-bedroom units at 1,600 square feet. The Delray Beach Marriott and its Villas by the Sea are owned and operated by Ocean Properties, Ltd. (www.oplhotels.com).
Enhancements to private island
Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private Bahamian island, celebrated its 15th anniversary this Caribbean cruise season, and to mark the milestone the cruise line has enhanced island offerings and features. Five new two-story Beach Villas are available for rent during each call that include exclusive hot tubs on the second floor and provide private accommodations for guests while they relax and experience the island’s highlights. Other beach cabanas on the island were refreshed, and the Grand Cabana received new décor and a slide from the cabana deck straight into the ocean. Other novelties include a new glass-bottom boat that carries 290 guests on tours and features underwater viewing of the island’s colorful reefs and sea life. The horseback riding tour, one of the island’s most popular, now has six additional horses so more can enjoy the ride. The enhancement of the island’s features also extended to the Bahamian Church, which has been repainted and outfitted with new pews and interior artwork. The island’s private chapel is nestled in a garden overlooking the sea and provides a setting for cruise guests to enjoy a unique, romantic wedding ceremony or vow renewal. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Universal Orlando package benefits good cause
Universal Orlando Resort has unveiled a one-of-a-kind vacation package allowing guests to spend family time in its theme parks and create unforgettable memories for children at Give Kids The World Village. Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is a 70-acre, nonprofit storybook resort that immerses children with life-threatening illnesses and their families in joy, hope, laughter and fun at Central Florida’s attractions. With this vacation offer, guests will spend two days enjoying the Universal Orlando theme parks and one day making the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses come true as they come face-to-face with their favorite storybook characters, get their faces painted, receive makeovers and more. Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations will also donate $100 to Give Kids The World for every package booked.
The Give Kids The World Volunteer Vacation Package (from $589 per adult, tax inclusive, no additional fees to volunteer) includes three nights’ accommodations at one of three onsite hotels at Universal Orlando; two-day base ticket (one theme park, per day); a four-hour volunteer opportunity at Give Kids The World Village; free scheduled roundtrip transportation to and from Give Kids The World Village; early park admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; Universal Express ride access to skit regular lines at both Universal Orlando theme parks. Vacation package must be booked by Aug. 29, for travel through Dec. 31. Visit https://www.universalorlando.com/Vacation-Packages/Volunteer-Vacations/Overview.aspx?Intsrch=GiveKidsWorldPackage. For information about Universal Orlando, log on to www.universalorlando.com.
New amphitheater for Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach’s new amphitheater stage at Aaron Bessant Park, a short stroll from the Gulf of Mexico and visitor favorite Pier Park is a $2.6 million improvement project completed for the spring and summer concert season. The 7,500-person facility includes an expansive green lawn, dressing rooms, equipment storage and it caters to big name acts and local performers in an intimate open-air atmosphere. Log on to www.visitpanamacitybeach.com.
Quality Inn International on Orlando’s International drive has an updated look in its lobby, restaurant, lounge and gift shop, as well as brand new meeting space for small meetings and family reunions, and complimentary Wi-Fi in all guest rooms, common areas and meeting space. In celebration of this makeover, the hotel is offering a "Ring in the New" package, offering guests the opportunity to experience these changes with family or friends for $69 per night, double occupancy, including breakfast for two. The offer is valid through June 30. Visit www.orlandoqualityinn.com. The rate is based on double occupancy, subject to hotel availability, and tax is extra. The offer cannot be combined with other promotions, offers or group rates. Black out dates and restrictions may apply.
For wine aficionados at sea
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises is rolling out a newWine Series collection of 11 voyages this year designed for wine enthusiasts. On each wine cruise travelers will enjoy sampling great vintages and learning about the tradition and art of winemaking in special tastings and lectures conducted by wine professionals, vineyard owners, and winemakers. Depending on the itinerary, guests may also have the chance to explore some of the world's most celebrated wine regions on optional guided shore excursions. On board each of Silversea's ships, guests also enjoy a complimentary selection of fine red and white wine pairings with both lunch and dinner. Among the special wine-themed sailings is a voyage hosted by wine connoisseur Brian Davis aboard the Silver Whisper from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton on May 1-16. Visit www.silversea.com.
Dive package in Turks & Caicos
The Sands at Grace Bay has partnered with Ocean Vibes LTD -- a leading PADI dive and snorkel facility in Providenciales -- to offer a weeklong scuba dive vacation deal for travel beginning this spring. This "Surf & Turf Scuba Dive" themed travel package highlights Turks & Caicos’ adventures both on-land and undersea -- featuring a discounted luxury resort stay and daily scuba dive excursions. The package boasts more than $450 in per couple savings. Package rates start from $1,130 per person for a six-night stay, and from $1,338 per person for a seven-night stay (based on double occupancy) and include studio Courtyard accommodations (room upgrades are available for an additional charge); resort taxes & fees; two-tank scuba dive excursions for "two" offered through Ocean Vibes: The 6-night package includes 5 days of diving and the 7-night package includes 6 days of diving. For the "turf" portion of the package, guests can enjoy a stay at The Sands at Grace Bay resort situated on Grace Bay Beach with free use of non-motorized water-sports including snorkeling gear, Hobie Cats, kayaks, windsurfing equipment and stand-up paddleboards, as well as bicycles for island exploration. The resort also boasts three free-form swimming pools, lit tennis courts, Spa Tropique treatment rooms, and the beachfront Hemingway’s Restaurant & Bar. The Sands at Grace Bay’s "Surf & Turf" scuba dive travel package is available for new bookings made for stays of six nights or more, for travel through December 20. Package rates start from $1,130 per person for a six-night stay in a Studio Courtyard Suite, and rates vary based on room type, additional night add-ons and hotel availability at the time of booking. Travelers may also customize a scuba/hotel vacation package to meet their needs. Visit www.thesandstc.com.
For people with food allergies
"Let's Eat Out! Allergy Free Passport" is a how-to guide that instructs people with food sensitivities or allergies how to eat what they want, where they want and when they want, whether in their own localities or traveling abroad. Ideal for people who normally have to worry about having a bad reaction to a meal, it gives them a range of info about cuisines, ingredients, preparations, what questions to ask and how to ask them, and helping them communicate their food requirements, order allergy-free menu items and enjoy allergy-free meals anywhere in the world. The guidebook addresses seven popular cuisines (American, Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Mexican and Thai) and gives people the tools to enjoy each cuisine anywhere in the world while avoiding 10 of the most prevalent allergens (gluten, peanuts, soy, fish, eggs, dairy, wheat, nuts, corn, shellfish). It covers more than 175 specific menu items, 200 breakfast and beverage suggestions, 300 questions to ask and how to say them in the specific language, 130 snack and light meal ideas, 50 global airlines, and hundreds of tips from 15 chefs and culinary experts, 10 health, medical and nutritional experts and 20 long-term sufferers of various food allergies with extensive experience in dining out throughout the world. Cost is $19.95. Visit www.allergyfreepassport.com.
Environmental, and free, in Key West
The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, located on the waterfront past the Truman Annex in Key West is a free-admission environmental facility where visitors can experience the Keys’ underwater ecosystem without getting wet. The 6,400-square-foot center showcases the Keys’ underwater and upland habitats, with an emphasis on continental America’s only living continuous barrier coral reef that parallels the island chain. Visit www.floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html.
Animal Kingdom Park celebrates 15th anniversary
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Orlando marks its 15th anniversary on Earth Day, April 22. Guests are invited to a special opening ceremony at 8:40 a.m. and the park will host interactive festivities focusing on animals and nature, and feature unique merchandise and food. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
New mobile sites for SeaWorld
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment recently launched new mobile websites for the three SeaWorld and two Busch Gardens parks last week, providing guests and fans with a convenient way to plan their vacations and purchase and redeem tickets directly from their mobile devices. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are some of the first in the theme park industry to effectively use mobile sites with geo-location capabilities. When a guest is near one of the SeaWorld or Busch Gardens parks and connects to the website, the guest’s phone will immediately default to driving directions. However, if the guest is actually in the park, the site will automatically default to a park map so they can find their next adventure. Receiving the most relevant content, products, offers and promotions based on their location to the parks are just some of the many intuitive features mobile users can now experience. The sites also provide guests with a simplified mobile purchase experience with images, text and steps for the entire process. Once the purchase process is complete, guests will receive their digital admission ticket on their phone, allowing them to proceed directly to the front gate for entry to the park. Guests can also purchase multi-park and season passes. Based on the tickets purchased, the sites will suggest additional experiences and adventures, including behind-the-scenes tours, up-close animal interactions or dining options. The new sites were designed to work with some of the most popular cell phone operating systems, including Apple, Android and Windows. For SeaWorld information, visit www.seaworld.com.
Calling all Bogie fans!
The inaugural Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in Key Largo, May 2-5, will screen a rotating selection of Bogie classics centered around a theme of “Film Noir,” a genre in which Bogart excelled during the 1940s and 1950s. Also planned are a formal Bogart Ball, an outdoor screening of “Casablanca,” a display of Bogart memorabilia, tours on the fully restored African Queen and question-and-answer sessions with the star's son, Stephen Bogart. For details, visit www.bogartfilmfestival.com.
New exotics sailings for 2014
Princess Cruises has announced a variety of new exotics sailings for 2014. Among them is a 49-day South America Grand Adventure from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles. Featuring an overnight stay in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval and Princess' maiden call to Brazil’s Ilhabela, this adventure also starts off with calls in St Thomas, St Kitts, Barbados, Trinidad, and Recife. After an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, the cruise then sails around the famed Cape Horn at the tip of South America and features scenic cruising of the Chilean Fjords, plus calls in Montevideo, the Falkland Islands, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt. While traversing South America’s Pacific coast, this voyage offers the opportunity to take an optional overland tour to the famed Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, plus port calls including La Serena, Pisco, Lima (Callao), Puntarenas, San Juan Del Sur, and Puerto Vallarta. The voyage departs Feb. 15, 2014 on Crown Princess. Visit www.princess.com.
Oceania Cruises is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013 with special events, designated sailings, social media initiatives and onboard celebrations. Guests will have the opportunity to sail with company founders and top executives on four specially designated Anniversary Sailings. Each voyage will feature a different executive who will host an anniversary cocktail reception, celebratory caviar brunch and gala dinner with private label 10th anniversary wine served complimentary. Frank Del Rio, Joe Watters, Bob Binder, vice chairman of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings, and Kunal S. Kamlani, Oceania Cruises president, will sail. Among the Anniversary Sailings is a 14-day Scandinavian Serenade on the Marina departing from London to Stockholm on June 11 with Bob Binder. Other festivities include a special 10th Anniversary dessert called ZEN, a Manjari Chocolate Bar with Milky Gianduja-Yuzu and Hazelnut Croquant featured fleetwide in the dining room, and a menu of Canyon Ranch SpaClub 10th anniversary treatments available on all ships. Visit www.OceaniaCruises.com.
Studying abroad in Spain
All-in-One Academics, in partnership with Sol Abroad, is featuring a Granada, Spain study abroad program June 15-July 13. Designed for high school juniors and rising seniors the courses focus on successful completion of multiple college applications and participation in Spanish language studies, and in special cultural and historical tours that will focus on the arts, architecture, history, cuisine, and natural resources of the region. Visit www.allinoneacademics.com.
Barge cruises in France
French Country Waterways has released its itineraries for barge cruises in 2013. The six-night sailings, April through October, aboard one of the company’s four luxury barges, take in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, Central Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace-Lorraine and the Upper Loire Valley. Fares for 2013 range from $5,095 to $6,695 per person, double. Visit www.fcwl.com.
Nonstop from Orlando to Curacao for $289
Dutch Antilles Express has begun nonstop flights from Orlando International Airport to Curacao and are offering round-trip specials for $289 including taxes and fees. Flights began April 15 and are offered on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. The $289 deal is per person is for flights booked by May 31 for travel between April 15 and June 15. There is a $39 departure tax to be paid at the Curacao airport on the traveler's way home. To book your flight, go to to http://flydae.com/.
Two-for-one summer deals in Fort Lauderdale
Faster than a speeding Water Taxi, more powerful than a deep tissue massage, and able to leap across 23 miles of Blue Wave beaches in a single bound, Greater Fort Lauderdale is upping the ante with its Super Summer Savings promotion, May 1 to Sept, 30, at more than 30 attractions throughout the destination - from the Atlantic Ocean to the Everglades. These savings can be combined with special summer Lauderdeals at luxury beachfront resorts and hotels. Two-for-one promotion highlights include an airboat ride through the Everglades at Billie Swamp Safari, a scenic kayaking excursion on 300-plus miles of navigable waterways, strolling among thousands of butterflies at Butterfly World, catamaran cruises, golf, fishing and diving, shopping at Sawgrass Mills, and visits to area museums and historic sites. When visitors book their stay on www.sunny.org/summer, they receive a $25 gift card. Hot events not to miss when visiting this summer include concerts at BB&T Center with Fleetwood Mac (June 8), One Direction (June 13), The Package Tour featuring NKOTB, 98 Degrees, and Boyz II Men (June 22), and Beyoncé (July 9); and cultural events such as War Horse at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (May 7-19), Viva Florida 500 Celebration tour of replica Spanish Galleon from 1513 (May 14-19). For a list of Super Summer Savings deals and to book a visit, go to: www.sunny.org/summer.
Military appreciation at LEGOLAND Florida
LEGOLAND Florida salutes the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces with Military Appreciation Days now throughout 2013. As an appreciation for their continued service, all active duty military personnel including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists are now entitled to a free one-time single day admission to LEGOLAND Florida throughout 2013 and seasonally at the LEGOLAND Water Park. LEGOLAND Florida also offers savings for family and friends of military personnel so all can enjoy the more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. Active duty military personnel should present their military ID to LEGOLAND Florida’s ticket window the day they plan to visit to redeem their free admission ticket. Family and friends of military personnel receive discounts on admission tickets and should make purchases in advance through participating military base ticket offices. For the most current information on operating hours and special events throughout the year at LEGOLAND Florida, visit www.LEGOLAND.com.
Jacksonville community festivals
Downtown Jacksonville is the place to go every first Saturday of the month for a Riverwalk festival, the Community First Saturday, held behind the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every first Saturday of the month, there’s live music, food vendors, and various activities such as eco-tours and fitness classes. Visit http://communityfirstsaturdays.wordpress.com.
Palm Beach museums package
To experience some of the cultural and art attractions in The Palm Beaches, guests can take advantage of The Chesterfield Palm Beach’s Nights and the Museums offer. Rates start at $230 per night for a two-night stay in a beautifully appointed room or suite with a deluxe fruit plate upon arrival, English breakfast for two each morning and a dinner in the hotel’s Leopard Lounge. Also included are two, one-day admission passes to the Norton Museum of Art, the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and the South Florida Science Museum. Package available now through Dec. 30, based on availability. Visit www.chesterfieldpb.com.
Family package on Amelia Island
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is featuring a “Family: Re-Imagined package starting at $351 per night. The package may be booked by Dec. 31 for stays through Dec. 31 and includes overnight accommodations, Camp Amelia or Camp Amelia at Night, arrival amenity of logo cooler with water and snacks for the beach, one round at Heron’s Cove Adventure Golf for up to four people, nature tour, and large pizza at Natural Slice. Visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com.
Hollywood hits the high seas
From Monroe to Gleason to Burton, Crystal Cruises is planning a red carpet line up for its Nov. 2 Film & Theater voyage, presented in partnership with the Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles. More than a dozen performers and industry speakers will present material created for Crystal, including a special spotlight on one of the industry’s most glamorous, and legendary, figures: Marilyn Monroe. While Crystal Symphony sails along America’s colonial coast from New York to Miami, playbill highlights include Legends Brought to Life on Stage with Marilyn Monroe tribute artist Susan Griffiths bringing her uncanny talent to sea with a new live cabaret show: Marilyn – Memories, Music and Magic. Crystal fan favorite Jim Brochu returns with Character Man, his newest tribute to some of Broadway’s greatest character actors, like Jackie Gleason and Zero Mostel. And LA’s Troubador Theatre Company, or “Troubies,” will perform multiple commedia dell’arte productions onboard, including a satirical Shakespeare-meets-cinema-disco musical theater performance of Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream. Additionally, presentations from guests such as actress Kate Burton — daughter of Richard – and Center Theatre Group’s artistic director Michael Ritchie will provide insider tales from the show business front. A dedicated in-stateroom television channel will broadcast classic motion pictures, theater documentaries and theme presenter insights throughout the voyage. Interactive trivia games will also provide opportunities for guests to show off their entertainment knowledge. Other events include Dinner with Marilyn, a multi-course dinner in the ship’s intimate Vintage Room, featuring wine pairings and hosted by “Marilyn Monroe” (Griffiths) and Marilyn fan club president, Greg Schreiner, sharing tales of Tinseltown and the star’s life. The East Coast and Caribbean itinerary visits New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville (maiden call), Turks & Caicos, Curaçao, Aruba and Miami. All-inclusive fares begin at $4,300 per person for 14 days. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Oceania rolling out new menus
Oceania Cruises has announced the completion of an extensive new menu rollout featuring 85 new dishes for its Grand Dining Room on the line’s newest ship, Riviera. The remainder of the Oceania Cruises fleet will incorporate the new menus this spring. As the menus in the Grand Dining Room change daily, the rollout features a total of 85 new dishes, including three new lobster dishes and 10 new pastas and risottos. New creations include dishes such as Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne, Roast Segovian Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, and Diver Scallops over Orange-Braised Endive with Vanilla Vinaigrette Salad. The new dishes also feature high-end ingredients such as Castilla–La Mancha saffron, Lessatini olive oil from Nice and Ibérico de Bellota pork. There is also a selection of new Canyon Ranch dishes, including Dover Sole Meunière in Lemon Butter Sauce with Sweet Leek Puff Pastry and Steamed Potatoes, as well as Pulpo a la Gallega: Octopus on Warm Potato Salad with Sweet Spanish Paprika de la Vera. The rollout includes an array of new wines by the bottle as well as an extended list of wines by the glass. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
Dive into wedded bliss in Bonaire
Couples looking to “dive” into wedded bliss in Bonaire in the Dutch Antilles may wish to check out the Romance Package at Harbour Village Beach Club, an oasis within a beachfront enclave on a four-acre, private peninsula with a wide range of activities including some of the best diving in the Caribbean. The package offers seven nights in the accommodations of choice and includes a torch-lit dinner on the beach, aromatherapy couples massage, reserved double hammock on the beach and complimentary bottle of champagne, a resort scuba experience for non-certified divers or one day of diving for certified divers (includes one boat dive and unlimited shore diving), full American breakfast daily, unlimited use of the fitness center, tennis courts, and kayaks, and airport transfers to and from Harbour Village. Summer rates (April 14 – Dec. 21) start at $1,275 double. Visit http://www.harbourvillage.com.
Sometimes more is less on Miami Beach
Eden Roc Renaissance on Miami Beach is featuring the Sometimes More is Less package. Starting at $287 per night, the package includes resort accommodations and enables guests to save 15 percent on three-night stays, or 20 percent on four or more night stays. In order to take advantage of this offer, reservations must be booked by May 1 and are valid through May 15. Restrictions apply. Subject to availability. Cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. Visit www.edenrocmiami.com.
Gadgets to make travel easier
Sound Oasis Travel Therapy System is a sound therapy product that combines a high performance sound therapy digital system with a full-featured travel/alarm clock. Incorporating 18 digitally recorded sound therapy programs, including a jet-lag reduction sound, a voice memo feature and a unique "gradual off" volume reduction feature for a peaceful decrease in sound volume, Sound Oasis Travel allows users to drift off to sleep with soothing sounds and wake up to one of four alarm sound types (sound, jet lag reduction sound, voice memo or buzzer). It is powered by four "AA" batteries or the included AC adapter. Its compact size allows the unit to comfortably slip into briefcases, carry-on luggage or even one's pocket. Retails for $89.99, it can be purchased online at www.sound-oasis.com or at retailers throughout North America.
And travelers looking for comfortable footwear for long-haul plane flights and other travel needs may wish to check out Nufoot. Made from sturdy neoprene, they are waterproof and stretchy and feature ergonomic designs and anti-skid soles. Nufoot comes in multiple sizes and colors for men and women. Cost is $9.99 per pair. Visit www.nufoot.com.
St. Augustine shopping package
The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in Jacksonville is featuring a “Premium Outlets Shop & Stay Package.” Available through Sept. 21, the package includes a $100 center-wide gift card at the nearby St. Augustine Premium Outlets, which boasts 85 name brand and designer outlet stores. Stores include Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Coach, J. Crew, Tommy Bahama, Calvin Klein, Nike Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger. The package includes deluxe room accommodations; breakfast for two daily in the resort’s Villagio Italian Grille; a VIP gift from St. Augustine Premium Outlets; and a St. Augustine Premium Outlets VIP coupon book good at participating stores. The St. Augustine Premium Outlets are located just one exit south of The Renaissance Resort, a 10-minute drive. A complimentary shuttle for individual guests of the resort (based on availability) takes to and from historic downtown St. Augustine. Package rates are from $209 per room, per night (plus tax), based on space availability. The package is not available to groups of 10 or more rooms, and cannot be combined with any other promotion. Blackout dates may apply. Promotional code is ZH4. Visit www.renwgv.com.
New extended voyages
Fort-Lauderdale based Silversea Cruises has rolled out a variety of "Grand Voyages" for 2013. Designed for the traveler who wants a more leisurely pace, this collection offers extended voyages combine must-sees with off-the-beaten-path destinations in journeys from 34 to 54 days. Among the sailings is a Mediterranean voyage on the Silver Cloud departing on Sept. 16 on a 54-day "Three Continents Transatlantic" voyage from Istanbul to Barbados with calls in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Malta, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. Highlights include overnight stays in Valletta and Barcelona. Silver Privilege fares start at $19,476 per person. Silver Privilege fares are cruise-only rates per guest, based on double occupancy for a Vista Suite. All fares include Extended Voyage Savings of 5 percent and Fare Guarantee Program. Silver Privilege is a capacity-controlled program and subject to change. Visit www.silversea.com/terms-conditions/fares-guarantee/ and www.silversea.com/destinations/grand-voyages.
Volunteering in the Keys
Visitors who want to make a difference and add an enriching element to their next Florida Keys vacation can connect and get involved with voluntourism opportunities through a recently introduced website at www.keysvoluntourism.com. The site provides direct links to a variety of Florida Keys charities, nonprofit organizations and foundations — all dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of human and animal life in the island chain that are seeking volunteers. Organizations currently involved with the Keys voluntourism effort include Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Coral Restoration Foundation, Pigeon Key, Marathon Wild Bird Center, Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, Habitat For Humanity of Key West & Lower Florida Keys, Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden and Key West Wildlife Center.
And a site for family travelers to the Keys
Web and video features on the Florida Keys & Key West's official website recently debuted to cater to visiting families and can be found at www.fla-keys.com/familytravel. Site visitors will discover a wide variety of family-friendly activities, with featured links to Keys attractions and informative videos about them. They range from the unusual six-toed cats at Key West’s Hemingway Home and Museum to water experiences appealing to adventure-loving kids and adults. Among them is one of the first family-friendly attractions in the Keys, the Key West Aquarium, which opened in 1934. The aquarium is home to tropical fish, moray eels, grouper, tarpon and more. Kids can even pet a shark or interact with small sea creatures in a touch tank.
Jacksonville Zoo turns 100 next year
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens turns 100 years old in 2014 and it will celebrate by opening a whole new exhibit featuring Chinese tigers. The ambitious will complement the existing Asian Gardens exhibit, the latest addition to the Zoo in 2009. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is home to over 2,000 rare and exotic animals and more than 1,000 plant species, and it is Northeast Florida’s most visited attraction. In both 2011 and 2012 the Zoo broke admission records with close to 900,000 visitors each year. Special events at the Zoo include the new ZOOLights during the holidays, Spooktacular during Halloween, yearly garden tours and monthly special deals. Visit www.JacksonvilleZoo.org.
Barge cruising in France’s Champagne region
American-owned and operated French Country Waterways has been cruising the canals and rivers of France for 29 years, offering guests all-inclusive luxury tours that include gourmet cuisine, exclusive wines and an insider’s perspective of provincial France. This year the eight-passenger luxury hotel barge Princess will take guests to Champagne, the region that produces the bubbly wine, on six-night sailings that depart on Sundays between April 7 and June 29. Rates start at $5,495 per person, based on double occupancy. Visit www.fcwl.com.
Offers at Peabody Orlando
From now until summer’s end, The Peabody Orlando is featuring luxury spring and summer vacation offers, Among the offerings is the Feathered Friends & Family package including superior room accommodations for $199 per night, plus an additional guestroom for $99 per night, complimentary self-parking and Internet access, free breakfast for children under 12 at Napa, and $25 credit for use at The Spa at The Peabody. Reservations for the Feathered Friends & Family package are available starting May 2. Rates for the Feathered Friends & Family vacation offers are subject to availability and rates do not include tax or assessments. Visit www.peabodyorlando.com.
Spring value rates at Downtown Disney hotels
Seven Downtown Disney Resort Area hotels are featuring "Spring Value Rates" from April 8 to June 15, for reservations booked by April 30. The Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels’ "Spring Value Rates" are:
• Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel – rates from $79 per room, per night.
• Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa – rates from $89 per room, per night.
• DoubleTree Suites by Hilton – rates from $109 per room, per night.
• Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – rates from $99 per room, per night.
• Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Downtown – rates from $89 per room, per night.
• Royal Plaza Hotel – rates from $69 per room, per night.
• Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort – rates from $79 per room, per night.
Visit http://www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com/SpringValueRates. Some blackout dates may apply.
Oui! Jacksonville goes French for a week
Jacksonville celebrates its French heritage during the first week of May with special events that include a French Dining Week, French Quarter celebration during Art Walk, a Downtown pub-crawl and, of course, a poodle contest. Visit www.coj.net.
Crystal Cruises launches new adventures
Ultra-luxe Crystal Cruises is launching a new collection of exclusive "Boutique Adventures." Debuting this spring with its Mediterranean cruises, the intimate Boutique Adventures take guests inside private estates, art studios, museums, castles, and well-known businesses for insider meals, lessons, workshops, and behind-the-scenes tours with local experts. Accommodating only 1-15 guests, the outings provide cultural opportunities for deeper connections with local hosts and greater schedule flexibility "in-the-moment." Among the offerings is a program in Florence to view the Uffizi Gallery’s private (normally closed to the public) Contini Bonacossi Collection, featuring Bernini sculpture, Bellini and Savoldo paintings, majolica, furniture, and more; and in Taormina, guests can opt to dine and listen to a private classical concert at an ancient Sicilian castle. Prices range from $223 to more than $1000 per person, with exact excursion details and pre-booking available online at crystalcruises.com six months before each cruise. Participation is first come, first serve, so early booking is recommended. Plans include Boutique Adventures in Northern Europe, North America, and other destinations throughout the world. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Princess expands Japan cruises in 2014
Underscoring its commitment to the growing Japanese cruise market, Carnival Corporation & plc has detailed an expanded 2014 Japan cruise program for the Princess Cruises brand, which brings a second ship to the market, features sailings from three homeports and plans to significantly expand the size of the cruise market in Japan to approximately 100,000 passengers. The Japan-built Diamond Princess will join Sun Princess for a cruise program from three homeports – Tokyo (Yokohama), Kobe, and an industry first, Otaru near Sapporo on Hokkaido. Sailing between April and October in 2014, the two ships will offer 42 departures featuring nine unique itineraries ranging from seven to nine days. The two ships will visit more than 20 ports in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Russia. Visit www.princess.com.
New tropical flavors to come to Orlando
Mango’s Tropical Café is slated to open on International Drive in Orlando in late 2014. Mango’s is a targeted tourist destination from Miami’s South Beach and promises live bands, on stage performances and "Dinner & Show" events nightly. The restaurant/nightclub plans to build on a nearly 3-acre site at 8102 International Drive, south of Sand Lake Road and across from the Wyndham Orlando Resort. Visit www.mangos.com.
For foodies on Amelia Island
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is featuring the "Culinary: Re-Imagined" package starting at $823 per night and including overnight accommodations, picnic basket amenity, tapas at Seaglass on Friday evening, breakfast and mimosas at Bobby’s Biscuit Bar at Amelia’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. Other features include preparing a specialty dinner in Chef’s Kitchen with Executive Chef Daven on Saturday evening and breakfast in guest’s room or in Sunrise Café on Sunday morning. The package may be booked now through Dec. 31 for stays through Dec. 31. Visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com.
Country music at sea
The second Country Cruising "Best Country Cruise Ever," will set sail on board Norwegian Pearl from Miami, Jan. 12, 2014. The second Country Cruising event will bring a full-blown country music festival to sea with favorite country superstars including, Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, Wynonna, Neal McCoy, Love and Theft, Craig Morgan, Lonestar and more. Throughout the seven-day cruise, each artist will perform two live concerts in the ship’s Stardust Theater. In addition, cruise guests will have the opportunity to enjoy nearly 100 live concerts and experience live music every night in at least three different venues around the ship. The country star-studded musical line up also includes: Steel Magnolia, Brett Eldredge, Maggie Rose, Frankie Ballard, Chris Cavanaugh, Brandon and Leah, JJ Lawhorn, James Wesley, JT Hodges, Ray Scott, McKenna Faith, Her and Kings County, The Mantz Brothers, Clayton Anderson, Bryan Edwards and other emerging artists to be announced. Other exclusive perks include: songwriter workshops; "The Competition"—a karaoke contest judged by the pros; surprise unplugged performances and jam sessions; question and answer sessions with the artists; late night dance parties. The Country Cruising "Best Country Cruise Ever" will call on Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. Guests will also enjoy three days at sea. Cruises are priced starting at $979 per person based on double occupancy. visit www.countrycruising.com.
Viva La Musica to heat up nights at SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando will present Viva la Música, Central Florida’s Latin food and concert festival on Saturdays from April 13 through May 4. The annual fest celebrates the food, fun, sights and sounds of Latin culture, and features live concerts by internationally renowned Latin musical
Visitors can enjoy savory Latin cuisine prepared by SeaWorld Orlando’s Executive Chef, Héctor Colón who has added his touch to traditional Latin favorites such as arroz con gandules, arroz con pollo, habichuelas rojas y maduros, churrasco, ceviche, alcapurrias and bacalaítos. As with all SeaWorld special events, performances are included with daily admission, Fun Card or annual pass. Viva la Música festival activities begin at 12 p.m. each Saturday, with concerts starting at 3 p.m. at Bayside Stadium. The schedule (subject to change) is as follows: April 13 – Daddy Yankee (reggaeton); April 20 – Willie Colón (salsa); April 27 – Grupománia (merengue); May 4 – El Gran Combo (salsa). Concerts are general seating. Reserved seating is available with the Viva la Música VIP Package. Starting at $24, this package includes a meal (entrée and any one item from a selection of side salads, side dishes or desserts, plus a regular-sized non-alcoholic beverage) at any Viva la Música food sampling area or SeaWorld cafeteria-style restaurant, plus reserved seating. Center Stage! VIP seating can be purchased separately starting at $14. Both packages are available at www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.
Celebrating Florida’s history in Palm Beach
In celebration of Viva Florida, the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival in “La Florida,” The Brazilian Court Hotel— an icon of Palm Beach society with its Mediterranean style and 80 redesigned studios and suites – offers travelers a chance to experience Palm Beach’s lore with the “Rich History” package available now through Dec. 31, starting at $699 per night. The package provides a 1926 bottle of Barbeito Verdelho wine, Augustus Mayhew’s “Lost in Wonderland” book, American breakfast at Café Boulud, two Flagler Museum tickets, “Island Living” historic bike tour, and accommodations. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Summer expansion for LEGOLAND Florida
LEGOLAND Florida has just announced that its newest expansion will be The World of Chima. This expansion, which is slated to open this July, is based on LEGO’s newest product line, LEGO Legends of Chima, which tells the story of tribes of animal warriors in a mystical land battling over a powerful energy source known as CHI. The expansion will center on a highly interactive water ride, the Quest for CHI. Other elements include a new 4D movie experience and the Speedorz Arena, where guests can build ripcord powered vehicle models out of LEGO bricks and compete against each other. Visit www.LEGOLAND.com.
New Amelia Island getaway package
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is featuring a new escape resort package, bookable now through Dec. 31 for available stays through Dec. 31. The "Escape: Re-Imagined" package starts at $284 per night and includes overnight accommodations, two bike or fishing pole rentals, island hopper day rental or a guided Segway tour for two, and beach chair and umbrella rental or two rounds of at Heron’s Cover Adventure Golf for two. Visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com.
Two preview cruises for new Princess ship
Princess Cruises has announced two preview cruises aboard the new Royal Princess, giving passengers a unique opportunity to get a taste of the new ship before its official inaugural voyage. The June 9 and June 14 cruises will sail roundtrip from Southampton on a two-night itinerary featuring a call in St. Peter Port, on the island of Guernsey. Passengers on the short sailings will be able to sample the ship’s groundbreaking features, including a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, Princess Live! television studio, and plush new poolside cabanas before the ship’s inaugural sailing on June 16. Both voyages are on sale with limited availability. Per person cruise fares start at $530 for an obstructed-view balcony stateroom. The ship’s 2013 maiden season will include cruises on the line’s signature Grand Mediterranean itinerary throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale beginning in the fall. Visit www.princess.com/royalprincess.
Food festival for a good cause in Orlando
Pointe Orlando will host the Taste of Pointe Orlando on April 28 from 2 to 5 p.m. The event will feature food --from stromboli to sushi – from 12 of Pointe Orlando’s award winning restaurants. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the event. Proceeds benefit the Florida Hospital Esophageal Cancer Program. Visit www.pointeorlando.com.
Three space heroes to be inducted into U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
Curt Brown, Eileen Collins and Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D. will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on April 20, during a ceremony at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. They are being welcomed to the ranks of legendary space pioneers like Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Jim Lovell, Sally Ride and John Young – distinguished members of the Hall of Fame. This induction is the twelfth group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the first time two women will be inducted at the same time. These retired space shuttle astronauts also share a commonality in their spaceflight history, as they each flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during their careers. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes these former Atlantis astronauts to the Hall of Fame in the same year as the opening of space shuttle Atlantis’ new home. The 90,000 square-foot interactive experience, scheduled to open in July, tells the story of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program and highlights the future of space exploration. Earlier inductees represent the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The addition of Curt Brown, a veteran of six space shuttle flights; Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle; and Bonnie Dunbar, who served as a shuttle mission specialist and payload commander, brings the number of space explorers enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 85. Visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
Zumba at sea
Norwegian Cruise Line will introduce the popular international-inspired dance-fitness program Zumba Fitness to its ships beginning this spring. Norwegian will offer a variety of Zumba classes on every cruise, led by licensed Zumba instructors who are part of the Zumba Instructor Network. Encouraging guests to “ditch the workout and join the party,” the Zumba program combining high-energy dance music including hip-hop, salsa, African beats and Reggaton with global-inspired dance moves to create a calorie-burning bash. With 14 million followers across the globe in more than 150 countries, Zumba is known as “exercise in disguise,” where participants can burn up to 1,000 calories. Norwegian Cruise Line will offer a selection of the most popular Zumba classes at no charge, beginning this spring in a phased roll out to its ships. Visit www.ncl.com.
New swashbuckling dinner show in Orlando
Pirates Dinner Adventure in Orlando has debuted a new show, Rise of the Sea Dragons, this year. The show features life-size dragons and a replica 18th century Spanish ship. Adult admission is $63.95 and children 3 to 12 are $39.45. Visit www.piratesdinneradventure.com.
That's one big bunny in Miami
For Easter, guests at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami are welcomed into the lobby by a 75 lb. chocolate Easter egg hand-made by Pastry Chef Sarah Thompson. The 100 percent edible sculpture, which took over 30 hours to make, is made of dark and white chocolate. For young travelers, Easter eggs will be hidden in the hotel's guest rooms and suites. Once they're found they can be brought to the hotel concierge to be redeemed for special treats. Peter Cottontail will also make surprise visits throughout the weekend. On Sunday, March 31 from 11:30 am - 3 pm, Edge Steak & Bar is featuring a brunch setup complete with stone crab claws, crispy roast suckling pig, and traditional Easter favorites Roasted Aussie Lamb stuffed with Dried Fruits and Aromatic Herbs, Madeira Jus and Spring Leg of Ham Glazed with Lavender Honey, Three Mustards and Pickled Peppers. The cost of the brunch is $95 for adults, which includes unlimited mimosas, mojitos and bloody marys, $32 for children (5 to 12 years) and complimentary for infants and toddlers (0 to 4 years). Room rates start at $569 per night for Easter weekend. Visit http://www.fourseasons.com/miami/.
A "capital" idea: free educational programs for teachers, students
The Bill of Rights Institute, an educational non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virgina, is featuring The Constitutional Academy program for high school students who love history, the Constitution, politics or economics on July 15-20. Students who are accepted for the program will receive a scholarship that covers the cost of lodging, meals, site visits and experiences including scholar lectures, group projects, activities and college and career panels in Washington, D.C. Select students will also receive a travel scholarship (students who do not receive this additional travel scholarship, will only incur the cost of travel to and from Washington, D.C. as all expenses once students arrive at the program will be covered by the Institute). Application deadline is May 1.
For teachers, the Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education are offering the 2013 Founders Fellowship: Civil Liberty, Commerce, and the Constitution on July 22-26. Attending teachers will participate in sessions with a master teacher, lectures and discussion sessions with two Constitutional Scholars, as well as visit the historic homes and monuments of Founders including George Washington. The program begins with required pre-conference readings that will be sent to participants in May. Eligible to participate are Social Studies teachers of grades 9-12 (teachers who would like to apply but do not teach grades 9-12, please email Laura Vlk at email@example.com). Lodging, transportation during the program, and most meals will be covered by the Institute. Lodging and most program sessions will take place at a local hotel in Arlington, VA. A $400 travel stipend will be provided at the conclusion of the program. An additional $100 will be available upon completion of all post-program activities. Required activities include a completed lesson plan, and the administration of two in-class, student quizzes. Participants will be responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the D.C. area and participating teachers will receive a certificate for 30 seat hours. Applications must be submitted by teachers by 5 p.m. on March 26. Visit www.billofrightsinstitute.org.
The Last Key by land and sea
Visitors to Key West who wish to explore its land and sea highlights in a single tour can hop aboard Southernmost Duck Tours, the newest way to view the island city.
Participants board a custom hydra-terra amphibious vessel known as a duck that departs from the corner of Front and Duval streets. After traveling past historic sites and attractions in the island city's Old Town, the "duck" splashes into the water at Truman Annex. The route then takes passengers into Key West Harbor, past the Ingham floating museum vessel and submarine pens, before the unique conveyance returns to land. U.S. Coast Guard approved, the "ducks" operate with a captain and a first mate who narrates facts and offers anecdotes about the island's intriguing history and maritime heritage. The 90-minute tours depart daily at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $36.75 for adults; $15.75 for children. Savings may be available online. Visit www.duckskeywest.com.
Destination wedding in St. Lucia
Looking for a Caribbean locale to say "I do" this spring? Stonefield Estate Resort in St. Lucia has announced its 2013 Wedding Packages that include special rates; bridal flower bouquets; groom boutonnieres; cakes; bottles of sparkling wine; use of an on-site, expert wedding coordinator; romantic turndown services; and more. Among the package offerings is the Plantation Escape ($625) including a Tropical Arch (Palm Frond sides with tropical flower center) in Stonefield's Plantation Gardens or on the main pool deck; a tropical bridal bouquet and groom's boutonniere; one-tier cake; one bottle sparkling wine; service of Stonefield's wedding coordinator; two witnesses if required; administration and legal fees. Visit http://www.stonefieldresort.com/weddings-and-honeymoons/wedding-packages-2/.
Jet-set dining in the Florida Keys
Jet-set dining has come to the Florida Keys with the advent of a partnership between Latitudes at Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, the waterfront restaurant on the 27-acre island of Sunset Key in Key West Harbor, and the boutique jet brokerage Aura Jets/Galaxy Aviation. Guests can book packages that include gourmet dining with a Caribbean flair at Latitudes, paired with a round-trip same-day champagne flight from virtually any Florida airport to Key West. The experience includes a car and driver to transport guests from Key West International Airport to the Sunset Key ferry, a select water's-edge table at the restaurant and a private attendant to oversee the meal. Latitudes' menu features fresh local fish and produce, island classics, traditional meats, poultry and pasta dishes, and a selection of small plates. Meals are complemented by cocktail and fine wine offerings. Jet-set dining reservations are available for parties of two to six people with a minimum of 24 hours notice. Prices begin at $5,000. Visit www.westinsunsetkeycottages.com/latitudes-restaurant. For reservations, call 1-800-840-1995.
Alabama anniversary marked during special cruise
With over 73 million records sold, 43 #1 singles, and more than 150 music industry awards, there is still one thing country music legends Alabama have not accomplished: setting sail on vacation with their biggest fans for a country music festival at sea. In celebration of the band's 40th Anniversary of their first show at The Bowery, Alabama is teaming up with Sixthman, the industry leader in music festivals at sea, to invite some of their favorite bands and fans to join them on board Norwegian Pearl for a four-night cruise from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas, on Oct. 24. The cruise will feature two outdoor concerts from the full band, performances from each of the individual Alabama band members and one autographed cruise poster per stateroom. Guests in each stateroom will also get a rare opportunity to take a photo with the band. In addition, Alabama will be hosting more than a dozen other music acts to celebrate with them on board, treating guests to performances and artist-hosted activities throughout the course of the festival. Fares start at $750 per guest plus taxes and fees. Visit www.alabamafestivalatsea.com.
Key Largo wreck identified
The remains of an early 20th-century shipwreck in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary recently were identified as those of the British steamship Hannah M. Bell. During a field survey last fall, sanctuary staff and volunteers from the National Association of Black Scuba Divers gathered information that enabled maritime archaeologists to confirm the wreck's origins. Previously known locally as "Mike's Wreck," the 50-foot section of wreck lies less than 30 feet below the surface near Elbow Reef about six miles off Key Largo. Measurements, dimensions and construction characteristics of "Mike's Wreck" were compared with records for Hannah M. Bell and found to be virtually identical. So too were its reported sinking location and site of the remains. The 315-foot steel-hulled steamship was built by Ropner and Son in England in 1893 and named for the woman who christened it. Before its demise in April 1911, the ship made trips between European ports, the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, and Caribbean and South American ports. It carried bulk cargos including cotton, sugar and coal. Experts believe the Hannah M. Bell was laden with coal and traveling from Virginia to Vera Cruz, Mexico, when it struck a reef. All crewmembers managed to escape. Since then two steam engines, along with other valuables, have been recovered by salvagers. The vessel's remains rest near two other Key Largo-area shipwrecks: the USS Arkansas and City of Washington. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat including coral reefs. For Florida Keys diving information, visit www.fla-keys.com/diving.
New luxury cruise line blog
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has launched its new blog, Luxury Goes Exploring, celebrating the tastes and traditions of the places the line visits along with insider tips and destination information. As part of this effort, the line announced the appointment of Mara Papatheodorou as its special contributing editor. Papatheodorou, a taste and traditions expert, will provide a regular blog feature called Sail, Sip & Savor. A former editor at Bon Appétit magazine, Papatheodorou will explore the history of cuisine and culture in popular ports of call and will also provide suggestions on where to dine locally and shop for special ingredients and other products unique to the region. Other regular blog features include More to Explore, an inside look at the best tours and excursions for every destination, and Insider, a behind-the-scenes look at the line from executives, staff and crew as well as special announcements on topics relevant to travelers. Visit http://regentsevenseascruises.wordpress.com/.
He's late for a very important date in Vero Beach
Disney's Vero Beach Resort is featuring its annual Easter Buffet from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 31. The bountiful spread includes such delights as Southern crab bisque; a chilled seafood display including peel and eat shrimp, whole poached salmon and green lip mussels; assorted salads; pasta station; artisan meats and cheeses; carving stations with strip loin and honey citrus-glazed turkey; a variety of entrees including grill pork loin and chicken breast will be available after 3 p.m. Breakfast offerings available until 3 p.m. will include eggs Benedict and a made-to-order omelet station. Children's selections and a dessert section will be featured. And bring your camera as Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit will make an appearance. Cost is $34.99 for ages 10 and up, and $17.99 for ages 3-9. Menu is subject to change. Reservations are required. Call 772-234-2180.
Cape Coral promotion
The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, which opened in December as Starwood's first Westin property in southwest Florida, is featuring the Sunsational Savings promotion now through Dec. 31. With rates starting at $259 per night, guests who book the opening offer will receive every fourth night free, $100 food and beverage credit per stay and a complimentary upgrade upon check-in, based on availability. The property, which was previously known as The Resort at Marina Village, has equipped all 263 oversized guestrooms and suites with Westin amenities. Visit http://www.westincapecoral.com/.
David Bilsland, a former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London, is again set to host Silversea's "Relais & Chateaux L'École des Chefs" interactive cooking school in 2013. On 14 ultra-luxury voyages across the globe, Chef Bilsland will present a program developed in collaboration with Jacques Thorel, a consulting Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux. The program -- which is offered completely free of charge -- provides guests with a special culinary curriculum designed to celebrate the cultural flavors of the ship's itinerary, including hands-on instruction, Q&A sessions cooking competitions between Chef Bilsland and the ship's own culinary team, a "Lunch and Learn" event, and cooking demonstrations with wine pairings. "Take It Home" recipes give guests an edge when entertaining at home. Also offered on certain voyages, when the itinerary permits, is a "Market to Plate" experience that provides an escorted tour of a local market followed by a cooking class, and a "Culinary Outing," an instructor-escorted excursion to a local restaurant, hotel or other venue where guests can enjoy a culinary exploration. Among the L'Ecole des Chefs sailings is a Silver Wind seven-day voyage departing Rome on Nov. 19 with calls in Sorrento, Trapani, Valletta, La Goulette, and Cartagena before ending in Malaga. Silver Privilege fares start at $2,050. Visit www.silversea.com. Silver Privilege fares are cruise-only rates per guest, based on double occupancy for a Vista Suite, unless indicated otherwise. Silver Privilege is a capacity-controlled program and subject to change.
New spa at Fort Lauderdale resort
The Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, the newest addition to the Benchmark Hospitality International family of hotels, has a new Alaya spa (formerly the Red Door Lifestyle Spa), one of South Florida's largest spas at 48.000 square feet of space, with 30 treatment rooms, a Zen garden, spinning room and dedicated hot yoga studio, private outdoor heated pool, sauna/steam, salon, fitness center and other facilities. Visit www.bonaventureresortandspa.com.
New blog explores relationships that begin at sea
Princess Cruises has launched a new blog, "Linked by the Sea," that explores the many relationships that begin, or are rekindled, at sea. Featuring touching stories from both passengers and crew members, the blog recounts personal tales of friendship, romance and meaningful connections forged at sea. Visit www.LinkedbytheSea.com. Blog readers are encouraged to share their own "Linked by the Sea" stories through the blog as well. Submissions to http://linkedbythesea.com/share-your-story/ will be considered for future blog posts.
With Puss in Boots in Orlando
Pack your favorite pajamas to party with the coolest cat in Central Florida as Gaylord Palms invites guests and their families to a brand new DreamWorks Experience, the Puss in Boots & Friends' Purrrrrrfect Pajama Party. The event, on March 16, includes an exclusive meet and greet with the feline hero, and package guests will want to bring their DreamWorks autograph book amenity for this one. Guests can also tap into their creative genius by decorating and customizing their very own Puss in Boots pillowcase while snacking on cookies and leche (milk). The party continues outside at Gaylord Palms' Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park with a Splash ‘N' Screen viewing of DreamWorks Animation's Academy Award nominated film, "Puss in Boots." Upon check-in, children will get their paws on some special gifts including their very own magic beans and a memento from DreamWorks' most recent film, "Rise of the Guardians" and package guests will embark on an adventure in the Rise of the Guardians Adventure Scavenger Hunt. Guests can join forces with Jack Frost and the legendary Guardians to solve puzzles, crack codes and find the clues needed to defeat the evil spirit, Pitch, and his devious plan to engulf the world in darkness and fear. Visit www.gaylordpalms.com. Package rates start at $189 per night for a family of four (exclusive of tax, resort fees and parking).
The "Force" comes to Winter Haven
LEGOLAND Florica presents Lego Star Wars Days May 4-5. Celebrating all-things from a galaxy far away, guests may enjoy reliving the Star Wars saga in the park's newest expansion of Miniland USA where the six live-action "Star Wars" movies, as well as a scene from the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars are created of more than 1.5 million LEGO bricks. Also on the agenda are Yoda Scavenger Hunt and a special LEGO Yoda build activity. Visit www.legoland.com.
New golf packages in Delray Beach
In celebration of The Seagate Hotel & Spa's recent acquisition of The Seagate Country Club, guests can now take advantage of four new golf packages available at the Delray Beach boutique hotel. From enjoying rounds of golf on an 18-hole Joe Lee-designed course to an exclusive exhibition of golf collectables at the Cornell Museum of Art & American Culture, golf enthusiasts will have a number of offerings to enjoy in South Florida. Packages include "The Grand Golf Getaway" including a two-night stay in deluxe accommodations at The Seagate Hotel & Spa, two 18-hole rounds of golf, inclusive of one golf cart at the Seagate Country Club, dinner for two ($100 value) at Atlantic Grille, the hotel's award-winning signature restaurant, and two tickets to The Seagate Hotel & Spa World of Golf: The Gary Wiren Collection, with items dating back to the 1500's - at the Cornell Museum of Art & American Culture, Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square. Package rates start at $1,148 per person and are valid through Dec. 31. Promo code is GRAND. Visit www.theseagatehotel.com.
Kennedy Space Center special
Kennedy Space Center has brought back the $99 Four-Pack special for a limited time -- and this time exclusively for Florida Residents. Now through March 24, a party of four can experience Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at the special price of $99 plus tax. The Florida Resident $99 Four-Pack is available only via a printed coupon which can be accessed on the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex website, www.KennedySpaceCenter.com/four-pack.aspx. Guests must present the coupon and proof of Florida residency to qualify for the special rate at the time of purchase.
CityPASS bundles prepaid admission to each city's top attractions -- based on annual attendance -- into one easy-to-use ticket booklet whose cost is up to half off what it would cost to purchase those same admissions separately. And, because CityPASS limits the number of attractions on each city's pass to five or six of the most popular sights, visitors have ample time to enjoy a destination, never feeling the need to rush frantically from attraction to attraction to get their money's worth. CityPASS is now available in 11 North American destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California and Toronto. More than a million travelers use it each year. The New York City booklet, for instance, offers admission to the following: The Empire State Building Observatory, American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art), Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum, and Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or Circle Line Cruises. Attractions included in the Boston CityPASS include the New England Aquarium; the Museum of Science; Skywalk Observatory; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Harvard Museum of Natural History or The Old State House. CityPASS booklets are valid for nine consecutive days beginning with the first day of use. Visit www.citypass.com.
Bringing spice to the ice on Crystal Cruises
A Norwegian Culinary Olympics Team member, Cordon Bleu Master Chef, and Domaine Laroche Brand Ambassador will bring spice to the ice during Crystal Cruises' luxury voyage through the Arctic Circle this year. The special guests will be aboard as part of a "Wine and Food" theme North Cape cruise in July. The Crystal Serenity voyage begins July 5, sailing from Copenhagen to Stockholm, visiting 10 ports over 15 days filled with sipping Europe's finest local beverages, learning about local dishes from gourmands, and seeing the scenery of Lapland. The culinary experts currently scheduled include Sven Erik Renaa, proprietor of Norway's renowned Renaa Restaurants, winner of numerous Chef of the Year awards, and manager of the champion Norwegian National Culinary Team; Gwenael Laroche: Brand Ambasadress for (and family member of ) Burgundy's Domaine Laroche winery, a name that is virtually synonymous with Chablis and has won "The Best White Wine in the World" from Wine Spectator; and Mark Cummings, certified Cordon Bleu Master Chef, restaurateur, and star of TV's The Very Best of Everything. These experts will offer hands-on instruction in preparing chef specialties, live cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and specially-designed menus for select Crystal Dining Room dinners. Foodie fun also segues to shore, with optional programs that take travelers on a "Quest for King Crab" in the waters of Sarnesfjorden (followed by eating the day's catch); to Tromsø's oldest pub and Mack's Brewery to learn (and taste) the art of crafting arctic beer; and to three different ice bars (in Leknes, Stockholm, Honningsvåg) for vodka sipping. The voyage includes overnights in Copenhagen and Stockholm at the cruise's beginning and end; calls in Geiranger, Honningsvåg, Tromsø, Lofoten, Ålesund, Loen, and Bergen, Norway; Crystal's first return to Murmansk, Russia in 18 years; and cruising the Norwegian Fjords, North Cape/Arctic Circle, and North, Barents, and Baltic Seas. All-inclusive "Book Now" fares offer special savings.Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
New tandem hang gliding experiences in the Keys
Paradise Hang Gliding is touting two new offerings for adventurous visitors: an Over/Under and a Fly-n-Dive Ultimate Adventure. Each is packaged with a snorkel or scuba dive excursion to follow a scenic adventure flight above Florida Bay and the Florida Straits. Located at Whale Harbor Marina, Mile Marker 83.4 ocean-side in Islamorada, Paradise Hang Gliding operates daily, weather permitting. Up to six people can be accommodated on the towboat and flights usually are scheduled for 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. One person at a time accompanies tandem instructor and owner Scot Trueblood during the flight, ascending to either the standard 1,500-foot height or to an upgraded 2,500 feet. The glider is towed aloft by a custom aquagliding boat and the line is released at the selected altitude. Fliers then soar silently in a state-of-the-art glider fitted with pontoons just like a seaplane. A GoPro Hero 2 HD glider-mounted camera catches all the action on film. Afterward, guests can enjoy a snorkel excursion to learn about reef ecology and fish identification or join a two-tank dive trip with Florida Keys Dive Center to a local wreck or reef. For information, visit www.paradisehanggliding.com.
Alaska cruise program expanded
Holland America Line has expanded its Alaska CruiseTour program for the 2013 season with some additions, including three new Triple Denali itineraries with three-night stays at the Denali National Park, four new short pre/post "Sampler" tours for guests with limited time and other enhancements to existing CruiseTours. Holland America Line also designed four of its most popular tours to allow them to begin and end in Seattle. Ranging in total length from 10 to 20 days, all CruiseTours combine a three-, four- or seven-day Inside Passage Holland America Line cruise with overland tours. CruiseTours are created to highlight the best of Alaska's wilderness, wildlife, native culture and history. Six tours also feature Canada's Yukon Territory with its Klondike Gold Rush heritage and pristine national parks such as Kluane National Park and Tombstone Park. Departures are from May through September. CruiseTours feature glass-domed McKinley Explorer railcars with forward-facing seats and commentary by guides. In addition, Holland America Line's exclusive Explorer Coaches are used for traveling the highway on Denali and Yukon tours with leather seats, first-class legroom and no more than 44 travelers. Also new for the 2013 Alaska season, ms Amsterdam will join ms Volendam and ms Zuiderdam on select CruiseTours during the seven-day Inside Passage itineraries sailing round-trip from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Some rates for the line's new offerings: the Triple Denali program starts at $1,499 per person, double. Sampler Cruise Tours start at $999. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Sunset schooner cruises in Key West
The 74-foot topsail Schooner WOLF, homeported in Key West and the Lower Keys for more than 25 years, is now offering Saturday and Sunday afternoon and sunset cruises. Known as the flagship of the Florida Keys and Conch Republic, the WOLF is patterned after the 19th-century blockade-runners that plied the waters of the Florida Straits. The classic schooner has appeared in numerous films, is a mainstay of Florida and East Coast pirate festivals and is known for its humanitarian relief missions that bring donated relief supplies to needy Caribbean and Bahamian island communities. The WOLF is docked at Safe Harbour Marina, 6810 Front St. on Stock Island. Ticket prices are $50 per person for adults, $25 for children under 12 and half-price for members of the military and their families. The vessel also is available for private charters, weddings at sea, tall ship events and other nautical adventures. Visit www.schoonerwolf.com.
New itineraries for 2014
Disney Cruise Line has unveiled its 2014 offerings including new itineraries, an expanded collection of European cruises highlighting the Greek Isles, and departures for the first time from homeports in Venice, Italy and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Highlights for 2014 include Mediterranean cruises from Venice and Barcelona from May to August. New for the European season, Disney Cruise Line will use Venice, Italy as a homeport for select sailings. During these cruises, the Disney Magic overnights in Venice, giving guests the opportunity to experience an evening in the spectacular city. Disney Cruise Line also will visit new destinations in the Greek Isles and Sicily for the first time, including Katakolon, Rhodes, Heraklion (Crete), Santorini and Corfu, Greece and Catania, Sicily. Departure dates for the new nine-night Mediterranean Greek Isles sailings are June 26 and July 5. Rates for European voyages start at $796 per person for four-night cruises, $995 per person for five-night cruises, $1,015 per person for seven-night cruises, $1,827 per person for nine-night cruises and $2,388 for 12-night European cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy. Another novelty for 2014 will be seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan on the Disney Magic including Grenada, a new port of call for Disney, in addition to visits to Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Kitts. Rates start at $945 per person for seven-night cruises from San Juan for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy. Departures are scheduled for Sept. 20, 27, and Oct. 4, 11. Other itineraries for the line include Alaska cruises from Vancouver; Bahamas and Western Caribbean sailings from Miami; and Caribbean and Bahamas voyages from Port Canaveral. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Presidential pampering in Palm Beach
The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club in Palm Beach is offering a Presidential Pampering package in light of President Obama's recent trip to the area to play golf and unwind. The package includes the following perks for travelers, now through March 31, starting at $2,359 per night: luxury accommodations; personal town car transportation; copy of Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope;" cocktails at Café Boulud; patriotic chocolate dipped strawberries; vacials at Frederic Fekkai Salon & Spa; newspaper delivered daily. History buffs, by the way, may delight to discover the matriarch of the Kennedy family, Rose Kennedy, contacted the hotel each year during the holidays to house her overflow of guests. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Windstar to expand fleet
Windstar Cruises has announced that its owner, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has reached an agreement with Seabourn, a cruise company that operates six luxury cruise ships, to purchase three of their ships: Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend, and Seabourn Spirit. Under the project name Global Windstar, the expansion will double the size of Windstar's recently renovated, three luxury sailing yacht fleet, with a total of 1,230 berths. The purchase on Feb. 15, is one of several recent Xanterra Parks & Resorts acquisitions, including VBT, an adventure travel company, and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, AZ, adjoining the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The delivery of the three 104 all-suite ships, which hold 208 passengers each, will take place over the next two years in the Mediterranean. The Seabourn Pride will be the first ship to enter into Windstar's luxury fleet in April of 2014. Following a Windstar branded renovation, the ship will set sail, with a new name, a month later in May 2014; voyages are expected to go on sale in May of this year. Windstar Cruises will take possession of Seabourn Legend in April 2015 and Seabourn Spirit in May 2015. These two yachts are scheduled to start sailing in May of 2015 following their dry-dock period. The fleet expansion will provide Windstar Cruises access to new destinations such as Asia and South America, in addition to the fifty countries the company already sails to. Known for visiting hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world, Windstar will continue to focus on the unique destinations that large ships cannot call on. The opportunities of Global Windstar are already evident with the recent announcement of Windstar's return to Tahiti in May of 2014. Tahiti has been one of the top destinations requested by Windstar guests and travel partners. Windstar's shoreside operations will continue to run out of the company's Seattle, WA headquarters. Additional details, including itineraries, onboard experiences, and renovation details will be released in the coming months. Visit www.windstarcruises.com.
Saving of the green in Orlando
"Luck 'o the Irish and Saving 'o the Green" is a promotion at seven all-suite staySky Hotels & Resorts in Orlando. From March 1 - 31, guests staying at staySky Hotels & Resorts receive 17 percent in savings for their getaway. All the properties are situated between one and a half and four miles to the entrances of theme parks, including Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios. Promo code is "Luck of the Irish."
Savings for college students and faculty
SeaWorld Orlando's Aquatica is water parkoffering a deal for college students and faculty in time for spring break. Now through June 16, students and faculty can purchase admission to Aquatica for $29 for themselves and up to five friends with a valid school I.D. -- a savings of up to $25 per person. This limited-time offer is available for purchase at Aquatica's front gate only. A valid student/faculty I.D. must be presented in order to receive the discount. Each student or faculty member may purchase a ticket for themselves and up to five friends. Additional tickets may be purchased at the regular admission price of $55plus tax. Visit www.aquaticaorlando.com.
Hotel renovation in Palm Beach Gardens
The Palm Beach Gardens Marriott recently unveiled its multi-million dollar, property-wide renovation introducing modern design, a streamlined look and updated technology. The restaurant, bar, private dining room, lobby and front desk, as well as concierge lounge and six guest suites, were all part of the remodel executed by TPG Construction. The hotel's public areas underwent a transformation with the creation of a separate Breakfast Room and Great Room. New flooring, furniture and lighting, including art deco chandeliers, help create the custom-designed décor for each space. Complementing the ground floor renovations are upgrades to the 11th floor concierge lounge, where guests can now enjoy panoramic views of Palm Beach Gardens with new high top window seating in a newly refreshed setting, complete with new wood and carpeted flooring, lighting and paint. Completing the project are makeovers to the hotel's six suites. The hotel also invested $125,000 to upgrade its Internet reliability and now offers top wireless speed as a complimentary service to guests. Visit www.marriott.com/pbipg.
Food and wine in South Walton Beaches
The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, April 25-28, serves up two grand tastings, seminars, and more than 800 wines available to taste. Proceeds from the event benefit the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. Ticket prices vary. A Winemakers & Shakers tasting is $30. For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sowalwine.com.
Trekking in Patagonia
Terra Incognita Ecotours is featuring new trekking programs in Patagonia, Chile, launching for the first time this fall (spring in the Southern Hemisphere). The tour combines puma trekking in Torres del Paine National Park with local guides, with wildlife experiences and stays in luxury lodges. Like all of the company's other ecotours, this one gives directly back to the community with a percentage of every person's fee going straight to puma conservation in the region. Program dates for Patagonia are Nov. 16-23 and Nov. 23-30. Cost is $6,099 per person, double; single supplement is $1,250. Visit www.ecotours.com.
Accolades for downtown Miami hotel
Fodor's, the publisher of travel guides has announced that Kimpton's downtown Miami flagship hotel, EPIC Hotel, has been recognized as a 2012 Fodor's Choice selection. This distinction designates the hotel as a leader in its category for service, quality and value in 2012. Other of the hotel's distinctions include the 2012 recognition in Condé Nast Traveler's coveted Reader's Choice list of the Top 20 Hotels in Florida and EPIC's ranking in Condé Nast Traveler's 2012 Gold List of World's Best Places to Stay. Visit www.epichotel.com.
Very private in Belize
Private island resort Royal Belize offers privacy along with a personal concierge, dedicated chef, on-site masseuse. Couples can enjoy villa- or casa-style accommodation with plunge pool, beach and water sports, and dining by tiki-light. Rates are all inclusive (three-night minimum pricetag is $16,350 for one couple in the Villa Alba, as listed in Royal Belize's website at this writing). Hotel tax is not included and gratuities are at guests' discretion. Visit www.PrivateVacationIsland.com.
Norwegian's sailings in 2014
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its deployment for the fall and winter 2014/2015 season with eight ships sailing to the Caribbean and Bahamas & Florida from five homeports: Miami, New York, Tampa, Houston and New Orleans. Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Pearl will set sail from Miami. Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Gem will continue to depart from New York. Norwegian Sun debuts in Tampa while Norwegian Dawn will be introduced to New Orleans. As previously announced, Norwegian Jewel will set sail from Houston. The line will also increase its seven-day Mexican Riviera sailings from Los Angeles and a series of Panama Canal voyages between Los Angeles and Miami. Visit www.ncl.com.
New option in Southwest Florida
Following an extensive renovation, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village recently opened as Starwood's first Westin property in Southwest Florida. Previously known as The Resort at Marina Village, it has equipped all 263 oversized guestrooms and suites with the Westin Heavenly Bed, Heavenly Bath enhanced with the brand's Heavenly Shower, Heavenly Robe and White Tea Aloe bath amenities. The resort also offers the Westin brand's signature SuperFoodsRX menu, which includes nutrient-rich and delicious options to tempt every palate and a newly renovated WestinWORKOUT fitness studio, where guests have choices for cardio, strength and stretching. Following further renovations, the resort will also offer a new Westin Kids Club and convert its 4,000-foot spa to a Westin Heavenly Spa. Resort amenities include a lagoon-style outdoor pool, world-class dining, access to clay tennis courts, amphitheater, and marina with water sports, cruises and fishing. The resort is offering the Sunsational Savings promotion now through Dec 31. With rates starting at $259 per night, guests who book the opening offer will receive every fourth night free, $100 food and beverage credit per stay and a complimentary upgrade upon check-in, based on availability. Visit http://www.westincapecoral.com.
Madagascar coming to Busch Gardens Tampa
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has announced it will premiere "Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation," an original live musical show featuring the characters from DreamWorks Animation's beloved Madagascar franchise, at Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld San Diego this summer. The 20-minute musical show follows the antics of Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien, Mort and the Penguins during a vacation adventure. The show will feature rock/pop music performed by a live band and include both classic and original songs. The characters also will conduct meet and greets with park guests. Additionally, special co-branded merchandise exclusive to the parks, will be available. The new show "Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation" premieres on May 18 at Busch Gardens Tampa and on June 15 at SeaWorld San Diego. The company also has the opportunity to expand the show to other parks in the SeaWorld family in the future. Visit www.buschgardens.com.
New club level suites in Naples
The Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples has completed an $18 million expansion project, adding 32 new Club Level Suites. The Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites now offer 119 rooms in two buildings steps from one another across Fifth Avenue. The first new hotel rooms built in Naples since 2008, the Club Level Suites feature a contemporary design with floor plans ranging from 516 to more than 1,100 square feet. Two Presidential Suites feature two bedrooms and two baths, with more than 1,100 square feet of space. Visit www.innonfifth.com.
New French restaurant in Epcot
Epcot's France pavilion's more formal in ambiance Bistro de Paris, has been replaced by Monsieur Paul restaurant, an eatery with classic French architecture, bright colors and a touch of modernism. The new restaurant is decorated with mementoes of Chef Paul Bocuse's culinary honors --he was awarded three Michelin stars for 48 straight years at his Auberge du Pont de Collognes in Lyon, France. A new menu, created by Chef Francesco Santin, who worked with Chef Bocuse in Lyon for 15 years is built on the Bocuse tradition of French classical cuisine with fresh ingredients. For example: a classic Bocuse fish entrée prepared in France with red mullet is re-imagined at Monsieur Paul with red snapper from Florida. The new restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. Call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) or visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining.
New York Times best-selling British author Wendy Leigh ("Prince Charming: The J. F. K. Jr. Story," "The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy," and "True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess," and co-author of "Life with My Sister Madonna") will be onboard Silversea's Silver Spirit on April 29 from Monte Carlo to Venice. Leigh is one of several experts to be presented on the line's Silver Perspectives enrichment program this year. Others include British royalty expert Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, OBE. Visit www.silversea.com.
Paddle for a cause
Paddle for a Cause -- Dam to the Bay -- on the Panhandle's Ochlockonee River will cover 76 miles on March 16-22. Non-profit Paddle Florida returns to the land of wild Tupelo honey and the waters of fresh Gulf oysters for its third annual Dam to the Bay trip on the Panhandle's Ochlockonee River. Paddlers will wind through state and national forest lands on 76 miles of the most remote wilderness river trail. The paddle begins at Ed and Bernice's Fish Camp with overnight stays at Huey P. Arnold County Park, Whitehead Lake, Mack Landing, Womack Creek and Ochlockonee River State Park. Trail's end is at Bald Point State Park, on the Gulf of Mexico. For six days participants will camp riverside nightly on north Florida's Ochlockonee River, part of Florida's statewide trail system managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Greenways and Trails. Each evening, paddlers gather for open-air dining, entertainment and educational presentations that explore the region's water ecology and wildlife. Evening entertainment will include two Panhandle favorites—musicians Grant Peeples and Frank Lindamood. Paddle Florida leads trips across the state to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism in general, and paddling in particular. The group fosters water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. True to this mission, Paddle Florida coordinates voluntary cleanups on each waterway they visit. Previous years' volunteers have collected and removed more than 1,500 pounds of trash from rivers across the state. Trip fees cover a paddling, camping, learning, and musical adventure. The Ochlockonee River trip fee is $300/adult, $275/senior or college student; $250/youth 8-17; children 7 and under/free. The recommended meal plan is an additional $175 per person and provides three meals per day. Fees for all trips include camping, a t-shirt, a boat decal, maps, evening entertainment and educational speakers, flora and fauna guides, vehicle support for all gear, and all meals (if meal plan is purchased). Paddlers needing a canoe, kayak or other gear may fill their boating needs with Paddle Florida's official Ochlockonee River outfitter, The Wilderness Way (www.thewildernessway.net). The registration deadline is March 2. Visit http://www.paddleflorida.org/och/ochlockonee.html.
For young sailors
Princess Cruises' new 3,600-passenger Royal Princess debuting in June features amenities for young sailors including expanded space for youth centers. Young passengers will find more space with dedicated outdoor areas including a new teen lounge with a Princess DJ booth loaded with cutting-edge tracks where music lovers can create their own playlist, kick back, relax or dance to the latest club mix. Toddlers can also join the fun with a special area just for kids under 3. The line offers age-specific supervised programs of activities for children and teens. Visit www.princess.com/royalprincess.
Off season rates at Jamaica resorts
Visitors to Negril, Jamaica can enjoy the lowest rates of the year on a spring escape to Moon Dance Cliffs boutique hotel and luxury villa collection. Moon Dance Resorts, a boutique hotel, and Moon Dance Villas Resort, a villa collection poised on oceanfront cliffs feature accommodations that include 480- to 1,200 square-foot rooms and suites, along with one-, four- and five-bedroom private, poolside villas. All the villas have private garden Jacuzzis and stocked wet bars and some also feature full-size pool tables in the living rooms. Off-season rates begin on April 7. Rates are subject to change. Visit http://www.moondanceresorts.com/cliffs/rates.
Europe cruise tours
Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line has launched new Italian Cruisetours. The new Cruisetours can be purchased as part of Norwegian Jade's seven-day Eastern Mediterranean & Greek Isles or Adriatic cruises from Venice, Italy or Norwegian Epic's seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. Ranging in length from 11 to 15 days including the sailing, the Cruisetours transport guests to the heart of Italy, offering the freedom and flexibility to explore the cuisine, history and culture of this country. For guests traveling on board Norwegian Jade's seven-day Eastern Mediterranean & Greek Isles or Adriatic cruises from Venice, as well as Norwegian Epic's seven-day Mediterranean Cruise from Civitavecchia, the 15-day Classic Italy Cruisetour features seven nights of Italian highlights. Beginning in Venice, with walking tours including St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace and the island of Murano, the tour proceeds to Pisa, where guests have the opportunity to view the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as experience a wine tasting on a Tuscan countryside farm. Traveling onto Florence, guests will explore The Accademia of Fine Arts, housing Michelangelo's David, and Signoria Square. The Classic Italy cruisetour finishes in Rome and Vatican City, where guests will visit the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Guests wishing to explore Italy's cultural side may opt for the 14-day Wine & Art of Northern Italy Cruisetour, which features the wine region of Piedmont, the cliffside villages of Cinque Terre and the medieval town of Parma. With activities including Barolo & Asti Spumanti wine tastings; Parma ham and Parmesan cheese tasting; city tours in Milan, Turin, and Parma; and an aged Balsamic vinegar sampling, this tour is available to guests on Norwegian Jade's seven-day Eastern Mediterranean & Greek Isles or Adriatic cruises from Venice.
For those with an adventurous spirit, the five-day Italian Lakes & Parma Cruisetour, offered with Norwegian Jade's seven-day Eastern Mediterranean & Greek Isles or Adriatic Cruise from Venice, highlights the villages and Alpine landscapes of Lake Como, the medieval town of Parma and the fashionable city of Milan. It features a scenic cruise to Bellagio, the beautiful Italian lake district, and city tours in Milan and Parma. Guests who have limited time to explore Italy before or after their cruise can see Rome and Vatican City's points of interest on the 11-day Rome & The Vatican tour, offered for guests sailing on Norwegian Epic's seven-day Eastern Mediterranean Cruise from Civitavecchia. It includes such legendary sites as the Forum and Colosseum in Rome and the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Norwegian is offering these tours with Gate 1 Travel. All tours feature an English-speaking Italian tour manager, first class hotels, time for optional exploring, whisper technology-enhanced touring, some meals including wine and mineral water, and air-conditioned motor coach transportation. Contact a travel professional or call 866-234-7350. For information on Norwegian visit www.ncl.com.
Package for Miami Gardens Jazz fest
W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale is featuring a Jazz Package for the 8th Annual Jazz in the Gardens in Miami Gardens March 16-17. Such acts as Ne-Yo, Monica, Earth Wind & Fire, Charlie Wilson, New Edition, Najee, Mary Mary and Rachelle Ferrell are slated to perform. The Jazz Package includes two two-day prime seat tickets or reserved seat tickets (best available at time of purchase); two-night stay at W Hotel; and two general event roundtrip transfers to Sun Life Stadium. Cost is $660 per person based on double occupancy. Rate includes all taxes and hotel service charges, does not include airfare or airport transfers to and from hotel. Upgrade to platinum seats is $150 additional for two tickets, subject to availability at time of order placement. Visit www.jazzinthegardens.com.
For young explorers
The National Geographic Kids Animal Encyclopedia (National Geographic Kids, $24.95) features 2,500 species with more than 1,000 color photographs, animal facts, maps, and more. Thematic spreads take readers through animal homes and habitats, senses and communication, life cycle and babies, movement and migration, defenses, camouflage, and adaptation, and endangered animals and conservation. Special features in each section include Animal Profiles spreads that focus in-depth on a particular animal and Animal Records spreads that highlight superlatives such as fastest, tallest, smallest, etc. From-the-Field reports focus on National Geographic explorers and their stories about the animals they study. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12. Also, for young explorers who want to learn about our world, The National Georgraphic Bee Ultimate Fact Book Countries A to Z ($12.95) is a 384-page compendium of geography facts and figures about the countries of the world (recommended ages are 9-12). Two hundred black and white photographs are included. Visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
New interactive pirate attraction in the Magic Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has announced a new experience at the Magic Kingdom, A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas. Set to open this spring in the Adventureland section of the park, is a new interactive quest, where visitors will use a pirate map and ‘magic' talisman to help them complete five different pirate raids throughout Adventureland. The goal will be to help locate different Treasures of the Seven Seas and fight off pirate enemies like the Royal Navy and Captain Barbossa, among others. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Fashions in Jacksonville
The third official Jacksonville Fashion Week (JFW), March 27-30, will showcase local and national designer collections through a series of fashion shows and affiliated events. Highlights include a JFW Industry Panel & Cocktail Kickoff Reception on March 27; New to JFW: Accessory Showcase & Shopping Event on March 28; Emerging Designer Showcase & Featured Designer Runway Shows on March 29; Featured Designer Runway Shows with Official Wrap Party on March 30. Visit www.jaxfashionweek.com.
For chocoholics in Kissimmee
Chocolate Kingdom, the Factory Adventure Tour, is a new Kissimmee attraction featuring an interactive journey that shows how chocolate transforms from bean into chocolate bar. A Personal Tour Guide is joined by a Prince and his Dragon to take guests through a Cacao Tree Greenhouse, a Chocolate Museum, a Mystical River of Chocolate and a Bean-to-the-Bar Factory utilizing old world machinery. Visitors have an opportunity to create a customized chocolate bar. The attraction is at 5720 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. It opened its doors on Jan. 2. Visit www.chocolatekingdom.com.
Introductory offer at new Hilton in Lima
Hilton Worldwide announced the opening of the new-build 207-room Hilton Lima Miraflores -- the company's first managed hotel in Peru and its flagship brand's first Hilton Hotels & Resorts hotel in the country. To celebrate, this city center hotel in Lima's trendy Miraflores district welcomes guests with a special introductory offer. Valid now through Feb. 28, business and leisure travelers alike can experience the new Hilton Lima Miraflores with rates starting at $159.00 per night based on double occupancy, including Internet access and breakfast. Rate is a starting rate only and may vary, does not include taxes and service charges, and is subject to availability. Other restrictions apply. Visit www.lima.hilton.com.
Yoga program on Costa Rica cruise
Passengers on Star Flyer's Feb. 24 Costa Rica cruise will have an opportunity to take part in a special yoga program that is exclusively featured on this Star Clippers sailing. The program, led by yoga expert Melanie Camp, will include two complimentary daily yoga sessions on deck under thousands of square feet of billowing sails. Each class is open to all guests and suitable for all yoga levels; no prior experience is required. All classes and lectures are optional, and additional ship activities will be offered as part of the standard daily program. Visit www.starclippers.com.
New space for weddings, events in Fort Lauderdale
The all-suite boutique hotel, il Lugano, located minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale, recently unveiled The Lugano Room, a new weddings, meeting and event space overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. With 1,600 square feet of space, The Lugano Room has capacity ranging from 60 to 100 people for everything from seated dining to board meetings, small weddings, and other events. Modern communication and presentation technologies are available, as are the professional services of il Lugano's production and catering teams. Il Lugano has also expanded event space to include an outdoor wedding ceremony area which accommodates up to 60 people. The space is surrounded by palm trees and offers a clear view of the Intracoastal Waterway. Visit www.illugano.com.
Tips for travel savings this spring, summer
Former CNN/CNBC anchor and Editor In Chief of Recessionista.com, Nicole Lapin offers “sneaky” ways to save on travel tips this upcoming spring and summer.
1. Swipe it. Instead of a debit card, when traveling overseas you might want to stick to hard plastic. Credit cards usually offer a better exchange rate than your bank debit card because Visa, MasterCard and American Express use their size to push for the best deal. Just make sure you use a credit card that won't charge you an extra currency conversion fee. Bonus: it's safer than traveling with a ton of cash!
2. Room service. When booking your hotel room, don't book online or by calling the toll-free reservation number. You'll speak with someone at a reservations desk who has no authority to give you a discounted rate. Wait until Sundays around 4:00 p.m. local time to call the hotel directly; typically, that's when the hotel revenue managers who usually set and control the room rates are not working. Ask to speak with a manager or supervisor with whom you may be able to negotiate the price.
3. Ticket to ride: According to a study by FareCompare.com, Tuesday at 3:00pm EST is the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for domestic travel. This is because weekend fare hikes have had a chance to return to normal, even less than normal. But be careful as most of these discounted airfare rates are pulled on Thursdays.
4. Wednesday is the new Friday: Multiple studies have shown that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly, most likely because it falls between long weekends. So if you're planning on taking Thursday off anyway for a four-day weekend, why not book a flight for Wednesday night? Or, for four-day weekends going the other way, fly back early Wednesday morning; the cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning at 6:00am.
5. Save your suit: Bought a new bathing suit for your trip, maybe even on sale? Before you wear it for the first time, soak your swimwear for 30 minutes in a mixture of vinegar and water (one tablespoon vinegar per one quart water). Vinegar helps set the color and prevent fading from chlorine and sunlight. Once you've broken it in, continue to hand wash with gentle detergent and line-dry; the agitation and heat from washing machines and dryers will cause the fibers to break down more quickly.
New beach boot camp and fat bike tours in Cocoa Beach
The International Palms Resort and Conference Center Cocoa Beach has introduced new hour-long beach boot camp and fat bike tours designed specifically as fitness workouts led by Michael Slotin, certified personal trainer and former Fish & Wildlife officer and include tidbits from Slotin’s experience as a wildlife officer. Boot Camp classes take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 6 p.m., while bike tours occur on Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Boot camp participants can expect to train in and out of the water, using benches, buckets, trees, and more. Bike tours are unique as the fat bikes were originally made for rides through the snow along the Alaskan Iditarod Trail. The four-inch tires provide exceptional stability for riders through water and in the sand. Classes are $15 per person, and guests must be at least 18 years old to participate. Reservations are not required, but recommended. Visit www.InternationalPalms.com.
Valentines package on St. Pete Beach
The TradeWinds Island Resorts - the Island Grand Resort and Guy Harvey Outpost - located along the Gulf of Mexico on the island of St. Pete Beach are calling lovebirds with a special one-night Beach Lovers package. The one-night package, beginning at $199, provides accommodations at the Island Grand or the new Guy Harvey Outpost and a three-course dinner for two in Bermudas Steak and Seafood, located at the Island Grand. Each Beach Lovers package also includes the daily Resort Amenity Fee, which includes a hooded beach cabana with cushions for two, unlimited rides on the three-story High Tide Slide, paddleboats, fitness center, self-parking, wireless Internet access, portions of the children's program, daily newspaper, pool towels, sunset cocktail reception (Guy Harvey Outpost only) and more. On Valentine's evening, guests of the Island Grand can enjoy live entertainment by the bonfire on Pirate Island while indulging in champagne specials at RedBeard's Sharktooth Tavern. And while the parents are enjoying dinner or sitting by the fire, the kid's can also celebrate the holiday with a special Valentine's Day-themed KONK Club (Kids Only, No Kidding) for ages 4-11. As an upgrade, guests can add a touch of romance as both properties offer suites and rooms that include a luxurious in-room Jacuzzi, king-sized beds, large screen plasma televisions and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. The Beach Lovers Valentine's package rate is available on Feb. 14 only. Package is based on availability. Tax on room not included. Additional room nights, room upgrade rates and honeymoon suite rates also available. Visit www.JustLetGo.com.
African-American exhibition coming to Epcot
The Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Collection, an American story of determination, courage, hope, struggle and inspiration will be told through more than 40 pieces of art, artifacts, books and documents on display at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The exhibit, at the American Adventure Pavilion, encompasses the Kinsey’s personal treasures of African-American art and history, amassed from their travels to more than 90 countries and dating back to the 17th century. After previews during African-American Heritage Month in February, the Kinsey Collection is slated to open in March. It is included in Epcot admission. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Championship tour package in Delray Beach
The Seagate Hotel & Spa is featuring a Championship Tour package in honor of the annual ATP World Tour. The package includes two-night stay in deluxe accommodations, based on double occupancy, dinner for two At Atlantic Grille ($100 value) and discounted tickets to The Delray Beach International Tennis Championships Feb. 22-24. The Championship Tour package starts at $978 and is valid Feb. 19-27. Visit www.theseagatehotel.com.
Slide into spring training in Southwest Florida
The Beaches of Ft. Myers and Sanibel are the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. With white, sandy beaches, unique cuisine, an abundance of nature, and two baseball stadiums, this is a fine place to soak in some sun, kick back and enjoy a great game of baseball. Visitors can take advantage of all that the destination has to offer with special deals for the spring training season. For a complete listing of packages, special rates and information on planning a spring training vacation at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel visit www.FortMyersSanibel.com. The Boston Red Sox’s first game is Feb. 21. Their last game of the season is March 30. The games will be played at JetBlue Park, the newly constructed Boston Red Sox stadium. Designed to model Fenway Park, it includes a 37-foot high Green Monster in left field, seating both on top of and behind the wall, as well as a manual scoreboard used decades ago. The Minnesota Twins’ season at Hammond Stadium runs Feb. 24 to March 29. This stadium is inspired by the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. For schedules, deals and additional game information visit the following sites: Boston Red Sox Spring Training,
www.redsox.com; Minnesota Twins Spring Training, www.twinsbaseball.com.
Breakfast or cocktails in Miami
Kimpton’s Epic Hotel in Miami is featuring the Breakfast or Cocktails package with rates starting at $209 per night. For $1 more than the best available rate at the time of booking, guests can choose drinks or breakfast during their stay. The Breakfast or Cocktails package includes King or Double/Double Deluxe Accommodations, cocktails or breakfast for up to two adults per room/per day (guests receive cocktail or continental breakfast voucher valid at Area 31 for each night of stay at check-in) complimentary coffee and tea in the morning and hosted nightly wine hour in the living room. The offer is valid till December 2013. Restrictions and blackout dates may apply. Visit www.epichotel.com and use booking code DOLLAR.
New drinking and dining experience in Palm Beach
The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach has debuted a new drinking and dining experience called HMF, named for its founder Henry Morrison Flagler. HMF is dedicated to the social rituals of cocktail culture in a lively, high-style atmosphere. Internationally-renowned hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany (Per Se, Restaurant Daniel, Le Cirque 2000, MO Bar London) was enlisted by the resort to re-imagine its historic Florentine Room as a contemporary, Palm Beach cocktail soirée venue. Visit www.hmfpalmbeach.com.
Upgrade wave from Norwegian
Through Feb. 28, Norwegian Cruise Line’s “The Upgrade Wave” offers guests the opportunity to book a balcony stateroom for the price of an ocean-view stateroom or an ocean-view stateroom for the price of an inside stateroom on any Norwegian ship in any destination. Every new reservation will also receive $300 worth of e-coupons to use on board towards spa treatments, personal training sessions, discounts in the casino and more, plus reduced deposits on all sailings of three days or longer. In addition to the free upgrades, e-coupons and reduced deposits available, select sailings are also eligible for additional savings. Visit www.ncl.com.
Concerts at SeaWorld Orlando
The Bands, Brew & BBQ Festival at SeaWorld Orlando, Saturdays and Sundays, Feb. 9–March 17 will have a lineup of bands that include the following: Feb. 9 – Chris Young with Jerrod Niemann; Feb. 10 – Merle Haggard; Feb. 16 – The Beach Boys; Feb. 17 – Styx; and Feb. 24 – Third Eye Blind. The event is included with park admission. Visit www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.
New shorter cruises
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has announced a new collection of eight shorter cruises for 2013. These four- to seven-day voyages are designed for time-strapped working professionals, travelers who like to combine a cruise with a land program, and individuals who may be new to luxury cruising and would like a taste of Silversea's experience. Silversea's new shorter voyages for 2013 include a four-day Northern Europe Voyage aboard Silver Cloud on June 15-19 from Hamburg to Copenhagen, with calls in Warnemünde (Rostock) and Helsingborg. Silver Privilege fares start at $1,830. Silver Privilege fares are cruise-only rates per guest, based on double occupancy for a Vista Suite. Silver Privilege is a capacity-controlled program and subject to change. Visit www.silversea.com.
Thin travel gadgets
The bottleBOSS Money Clamp Bottle Opener combines a thin bottle opener, about credit card sized, with a slim profile money clip. Combined, it is only about 1/16 of an inch thick. Easily fits in a wallet or replaces a wallet. It is made out of stainless steel, comes in a variety of embossed designs and retails for $19.97. Even slimmer Money Clip Bottle Opener ($15.95) and Bottle Opener ($9.95) are also available. Visit www.Bottleboss.com.
And for shaving on the go, ShaveTech is a sleek, smart-phone-sized shaver that comes in both black and white and charges right off any USB connection. It is easily maintained as the outer foil hood removes so that users can clean the blades. It retails for $39.99. Visit www.shavetech.com.
For a "down-on-one-knee" moment in Miami
The Conrad Miami Hotel has announced a new engagement vacation package for couples. The "Down On One Knee" package includes a personalized, monogrammed souvenir-pillow will be created ahead of time (as per the groom-to-be’s specifications, with his own monogrammed message for his bride) and will be waiting. Other package perks include a chauffeur-driven Audi A8 ride from the airport to the hotel, and lovebirds will be escorted to a romantic hideaway before the big question is popped. A sunset dinner-for-two will set the mood for the big moment: complimented with paired wines and special selections from Chef McCann at Atrio Restaurant, while overlooking sparkling city lights and Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Adding more flair to the experience, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne is paired with personalized, engraved Tiffany champagne flutes and chocolate-covered strawberries to be remembered forever after the resounding "yes" is heard. A professional photographer will be at-the-ready to take photos right after he says "Will You Marry Me?" so couples can share the experience with loved ones. The next morning, an in-room breakfast for two, followed by a soothing and relaxing 50-minute couples’ massage, will complete the romantic getaway. The package begins at $595 and is based on availability. Reservations are required at least fourteen days in advance. Other restrictions may apply. Visit www.conradhotels.com.
Recovered Titanic jewels on display in Orlando
Titanic The Experience is featuring a traveling exhibit, Jewels of Titanic, in Orlando Jan. 11- Mar. 12. Fifteen of the most prestigious artifacts recovered from the wreck site of Titanic are being displayed including diamonds, sapphires, pearls and gold jewelry that once belonged to some of Titanic's wealthiest passengers. Jewels of Titanic is complimentary with paid admission to Titanic The Experience. Visit www.RMSTitanic.net.
Two new Asia cruises
Due to a rescheduling of a drydock, Princess Cruises has announced two special new Asia cruises. Departing in October and November 2013 aboard Diamond Princess, these 10- and 11-day Asia cruises sail roundtrip from Singapore and calling at Bangkok, Bali, Nha Trang and Phuket, as well as two ports not usually visited on Diamond Princess itineraries – Penang, Malaysia and Sihanoukville, Cambodia. One of the new sailings is Southeast Asia (11 days, departing Oct. 24, 2013) calling at Brunei, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Sihanoukville (Cambodia), Bangkok, and Ko Samui in Thailand. The other new sailing is Malaysia Peninsula & Indonesia (10 days, departing November 4, 2013) exploring Bali, Malaysia’s Capital of Kuala Lumpur, Penang (Malaysia), and Thailand’s beach resort of Phuket. Both sailings can be combined into a 21-day Southeast Asia Grand Adventure. Fares for Diamond Princess’ new Asia cruises begin at $1,449 per person, double. Visit www.princess.com.
Calling at new Western Caribbean cruise destination
Silversea Cruises is the first cruise line to sign on to call at Banana Coast, a new Western Caribbean cruise destination at Trujillo, Honduras. The 296-passenger Silver Cloud is scheduled to call there on Dec. 17, 2014. Construction at Banana Coast, which began in August 2011, is now 80 percent complete, and the facility is expected to have a soft opening in January 2013. The port will be open to host ships throughout 2013 and beyond. Plans for Banana Coast Landing call for construction of a 50,000-square-foot shopping facility and transportation hub on 10 acres of beachfront land. Themed "Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea," the $20 million Banana Coast project currently employs 150 construction workers, engineers and architects. A future phase will see construction of a two-berth, post-Panamax pier. In March 2012, the developers unveiled a diverse shore excursion program including cultural, soft-adventure and eco-tour offerings. Future plan phases include creation of the 100-acre Campo del Mar, which will incorporate an integrated heritage park, river park, wildlife park and nature park -- all easily accessible from Banana Coast Landing. Visit www.bananacoast.com.
Flight search engine uses graphs to help find best flight
WhichAirline.com searches more than 100,000 routes and brings results from all low cost airlines including Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air. Instead of showing a list of results, the site puts the flights into neatly arranged graphs with visual hints for flight duration and all stopovers. The new search assesses both price and duration of flights and shows a list of results sorted by price to duration ratio. Long flights with stopovers are penalized for the extra time and appear on top only if the price is significantly lower than for a direct flight. The site doesn’t sell tickets directly and is a free service. Users are directed to airlines’ or travel agents’ websites where they can purchase flights. Visit www.WhichAirline.com.
May be the ticket for family reunions in Orlando
All Star Vacation Homes is pleased to launch its Guest-Influenced Purpose Built Vacation Homes collection. All Star has partnered with quality builders to create these guest-inspired vacation homes that are constructed to include equal bedroom to bathroom ratios, living and entertainment space that accommodate guest capacity, energy-friendly features and premium amenities. All Star’s first Purpose Built vacation home, features nine-bedrooms and is now available for vacation rentals six miles from Walt Disney World Resort. The 5,404-square-foot, Energy Star-rated vacation home sleeps up to 22 guests and includes nine bathrooms, two half-bathrooms, seven master bedroom suites, a Muppets-themed full bunk bedroom and a "Tangled"-themed twin bedroom. It also features a Harry Potter-themed home theater room with 120" 1080p projector and theater-style seating; a game room offering two arcade machines, an air hockey table, an Xbox 360 and a wet bar and a private pool and spillover spa. To accommodate its high guest capacity, the home provides a double refrigerator, two full-size washers and dryers, a formal dining area that seats 16 and a two-car garage. Visit www.AllStarVacationHomes.com.
Kids sail free from Miami
Children ages 17 and under sail free on select Disney Cruise Line itineraries departing from Miami in early 2013. To take advantage of this offer, kids must travel with two full-fare guests in the same stateroom in categories 4A to 11B. The offer is available for select five-night Western Caribbean itineraries aboard Disney Wonder (valid for most sailings departing between now and Feb. 25, excluding Feb. 16); and for four-night Bahamian itineraries aboard Disney Wonder from Miami between Jan. 24 and Feb. 21. Government taxes and fees are approximately $80 per person for four-night Bahamian cruises from Miami and $65 to $70 per person for five-night Caribbean sailings, based on itinerary and subject to change, and gratuities and port excursions are not included. The offer is only available to residents of the U.S., Canada and Latin America and applies only to stateroom categories 4A-11B. The number of staterooms allocated for this offer is limited and based on availability at time of booking. Booking code is KFM. For complete terms and conditions on this offer, visit www.disneycruise.com or contact a travel agent.
Sailing sans kids? There’s an offer for you too
Disney Cruise Line has also announced special rates on select sailings from Miami: on four-night Bahamian cruises aboard the Disney Wonder now through Feb. 21, fares are $100 per person, per day, in Category 11C, Standard Inside Stateroom (total package price is $998, based on double occupancy). On five-night Western Caribbean cruises aboard the Disney Wonder now through Feb. 25, the fares are $100 per person, per day in Category 11C, Standard Inside Stateroom (total package price is $998, based on double occupancy). The number of staterooms allocated for this offer is limited and rate does not include taxes and fees of approximately $80 per person for four-night Bahamian sailings and $65-$70 for five-night Western Caribbean sailings (subject to change). Gratuities and port excursions are extra. The offer cannot be combined with other specials or discounts and is subject to Disney Cruise Line terms and conditions. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Jupiter Beach escape
The Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa is featuring a Winter Escape providing 20 percent off the resort’s Best Available Rates, plus breakfast for two each morning and $25 daily resort credit. The offer is valid Jan. 1-April 30. Promo Code is WINTER. Visit www.JupiterBeachResort.com.
Cirque du Soleil La Nouba Local Heroes offer
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil has introduced a Local Heroes offer for Florida’s police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel in honor of their service to our communities. The Cirque du Soleil show, located at Downtown Disney’s West Side in Orlando, wanted to kick off the new year with a special rate that salutes everyday heroes. Seen by more than 8 million guests, La Nouba features high wire and flying trapeze acts, stunning acro-gymnastic performances and other dynamic displays of coordination and strength. The Local Heroes offer features 35 percent off Category 3 seats starting Jan. 17. The discount applies to Tuesday through Saturday performances from Jan. 29 through March 9. The Local Heroes Offer Category 3 seats for La Nouba are $48.75 (adult) and $39.00 (child), plus tax. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/lanouba, by phone at 407-939-7328 or at the box office located on the plaza level of the theater. Florida Emergency Responder Personnel ID required. Tickets are subject to availability and restrictions apply.
For two types of romance in Palm Beach
The Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach is featuring a pampered "Honeymoon" Weekend including a one-bedroom guest suite, a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries from Cafe Boulud, a bottle of champagne, rose petal turndown and concierge services. Starting at $779 per night, the package is based on availability at time of booking. And for something a little different: Expectant couples can also dial up romance at the Brazilian Court with the "Oh Baby, Baby" package. The Brazilian Court presents a peaceful escape before the baby arrives. From a soothing stay to an energizing mommy blow-out at Frederic Fekkai Salon & Spa to sweet & salty snacks designed to cure cravings and refreshing “virgin-tinis” for two-and-a-half. Couples can enjoy crave-curing treats of "Pickles and Ice Cream” – a tasting of house-made and artisanal nitrate-free charcuterie with an assortment of Sous Chef James Strine’s signature pickled vegetables, followed by a tasting of Pastry Chef Arnaud Chavigny’s ice creams, sorbets, and fresh-baked cookies. Toast “Virgin-tinis, and enjoy a mommy blow-out at Frederic Fekkai Salon & Spa, and a dinner for two-and-a-half at Café Boulud. Pricing now through April 30 is $679 per night plus applicable taxes for a two-night stay. Gratuity not included. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Romance package in Bonaire
Those looking for a romantic getaway in the Caribbean for Valentine’s Day or other occasion this winter, may wish to check out the Romance Package at Harbour Village Beach Club in Bonaire. Located in the Dutch Antilles on a four-acre, private peninsula, it offers private villas nestled amid lush tropical gardens, surrounded by white sand beaches. The Romance Package offers seven nights in the accommodations of your choice and includes a torch-lit dinner on the beach; aromatherapy couples massage; reserved double hammock on the beach and complimentary bottle of champagne; resort scuba experience for non-certified divers or one day of diving for certified divers (includes one boat dive and unlimited shore diving); full American breakfast daily; unlimited use of the fitness center, tennis courts, and kayaks; and airport transfers to and from Harbour Village. Romance Package rates start at $1,435 (double) through April 13. Visit http://www.harbourvillage.com.
All eyes will be up in the Lower Keys
The 29th Annual Winter Star Party at Big Pine & the Lower Keys is expected to attract 600 astronomers from around the world to view constellations, comets and stars in the Lower Keys’ clear night skies on Feb. 4-10. Lectures, programs and workshops round out the event. Visit www.scas.org/wsp.html.
New dining experiences at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando Resort features two new dining experiences for guests at its Universal Studios Park. The Superstar Character Breakfast offers guests a chance to meet characters from the Universal Superstar Parade including Despicable Me Minions, SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. Guests also have access to a special viewing area for the parade later that day. The second addition is the Cinematic Spectacular Dining Experience where guests can enjoy dinner at Lombard's Seafood Grille followed by dessert in a private viewing area for Universal's Cinematic Spectacular nighttime lagoon show. Visit www.universalorlando.com.
Vacation homes, condos rentals in Fernandina Beach
ERA Fernandina Beach Rentals is offering a 20 percent discount, with rates starting at $128 per night and $720 per week on selected vacation rental homes and condos (some dates may be excluded). Monthly rental rates are available on vacation rental homes and condos from Jan. 1 through March 31. For more information, call 904-261-4011.
New hotel in Orlando
Embassy Suites recently opened the Embassy Suites Orlando - Lake Buena Vista South, a new upscale 300-suite, 11-story hotel. The property also includes 40,000 square feet of meeting, pre-function and event space. Visit www.embassysuites.com.
Executive floor renovations in Curacao
Hilton Curacao resort completed its executive floor renovations, introducing 34 new executive guest rooms, three suites, and executive lounge with ocean views. With this fifth floor makeover, the 196-room beachfront resort now boasts both the newest, and reportedly, the only executive floor on the island. The new executive floor rooms and suites feature a tropical ambiance, complete with new bedding, furniture and residential feel. All executive floor guest rooms and suites are outfitted with the Hilton Serenity Collection of amenities featuring plush bedding, high-definition LCD flat screen television, alarm clock with MP3 player connection, high-speed Internet access, Peter Thomas Roth bathroom products and more. Executive floor guests also enjoy access to the new executive lounge offering daily continental breakfast and light snacks and beverages throughout the day. Executive room rates starting at $229.00 per night. Rate is a starting rate only, subject to availability and change without notice. Other restrictions may apply. Visit www.curacao.hilton.com.
Cultural festival in Eatonville
In its 24th year, the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities (ZORA! Festival) runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 3, in Eatonville. This multi-disciplinary event celebrates the life and work of 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, her hometown, Eatonville, the nation’s oldest incorporated African American municipality, and the cultural contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and the world. The theme for the internationally recognized nine-day event is "Zora’s Eatonville: Culture as Conservator of the Community’s Heritage." Activities include live concerts, educational seminars, heritage tours, the HATitude Brunch and an Outdoor Festival of the Arts. Admission to the Outdoor Festival of the Arts, Feb. 1-3, is free for ages 17 and younger. Adults will be able to enter the Outdoor Festival of the Arts with a cash donation. Visit www.zorafestival.org.
"Re-Jan-U-Ate" in Key Largo
The Hilton Key Largo is offering the "Re-Jan-U-Ate" Package, allowing guests a chance to regain their life back and rejuvenate after the holidays. The two-night minimum stay package includes complimentary in-house movie or $15 iTunes card for catching up on recent flicks; downloading a favorite movie, enjoying some great tunes or indulging in a great book while lounging in a hammock or relaxing on the beach; 20 percent off water sports including parasailing, kayaking or Stand-Up Paddleboard. And kids eat free (breakfast is on the hotel for two children per room, under age2. Rates start at $209. Offer is good through Jan. 31. Visit www.hilton.com.
Suite deal for Valentines in Naples
The Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples has announced a new Suite for Your Sweet package for Valentines Day, featuring the Inn’s Club Level Suites. The package starts at $842 and includes a one-night stay in a new Club Level Suite, a one-hour couple’s massage at onsite Spa on Fifth, sparkling wine in room upon arrival, and late check-out. Designed for two adults and available Feb. 10-17 only, the package also includes Club Level amenities such as access to a private rooftop hot tub and sunbathing area, private check-in, concierge, and daily breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and snacks, and evening cocktails and appetizers. The new Club Level Suites opened in December 2012 in a new building directly across from the Inn’s location on Fifth Avenue South. Package is based on availability and room rate varies by date. Package prices do not include tax and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional rates. No substitutions. To book the Suite for Your Sweet package, call 888-403-8778. Visit www.innonfifth.com.
New dining opportunities on Amelia Island
The dining scene on Amelia Island has been enriched with the opening of several new restaurants recently. Among them is David’s Restaurant, a fine dining establishment opened by the owners of the Hoyt House Bed and Breakfast. The restaurant focuses on service, high quality food with a gourmet presentation and attention to detail. Executive Chef Robert Camp, formerly of PLAE Restaurant, boasts 20 years of experience and features a steak and seafood menu. The establishment’s lounge opens at 4 p.m., offering a bar menu and special martinis. A daily three-course prix fixe menu is offered seven days a week, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., for $35 per person. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m., featuring a menu with items such as Filet Oscar, New York Strip Steak, Dover Sole, Maine Lobster and other delicacies from around the world. David’s Restaurant will also feature local shrimp and ingredients from local organic growers. A wine room will accommodate up to 14 guests for private dining, wine tastings and a signature Chef’s Table. An additional banquet room can hold up to 60 guests for private events, business meetings and luncheons. Visit www.AmeliaIslandDavids.com. Another new restaurant on Amelia Island is Don Quixote’s, featuring a Spanish atmosphere with a menu of fresh seafood, tapas, ceviche, Scallops Mondragon (scallops with a creamy roasted pepper sauce) and Camarone Don Quixote (shrimp with coconut milk, cayenne pepper, and cilantro). The restaurant is located on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach, open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. Visit www.don-quixotes.com.
New Silver Privilege and price guarantee fares
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has rolled out new Silver Privilege fares on all voyages. The fares are structured to make the cruise buying decision easier by offering guests one simple fare for their desired suite. These new cruise-only fares will reward guests who book early with the best possible fare and the privilege of being able to select their desired suite when the best inventory is available. In addition, guests will still be able to customize their entire vacation with Silversea's optional air, transfer, hotel and land programs. With Silver Privilege fares, guests pay only for the vacation components they desire. The line has also introduced a new Fare Guarantee Program for all voyages departing on or after June 1, 2013, effective for new Silver Privilege bookings made on or after Nov. 1, 2012. With the new Fare Guarantee Program, Silversea guests are assured that when they plan ahead and book early, not only will they enjoy reserving their desired suite, but they can also benefit from any future reduction in the Silver Privilege fares for their voyage. The guarantee provides that if Silversea reduces the Silver Privilege fares on the voyage after a booking has been made, the guest may request an adjustment from Silversea equal to the amount of the fare reduction in the relevant suite category. The adjustment will be in the form of a shipboard credit, suite upgrade, future cruise credit, fare reduction or other method. Visit www.Silversea.com/terms-conditions/savings-programmes.
For foodies in Key West
The Last Key is serving up the 19th Annual Key West Master Chefs Classic on Jan. 27. Attendees can sample dishes prepared by leading local chefs during this cuisine competition scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and overlooking Key West Harbor at the Westin Key West Resort and Marina Pier, 245 Front St. Chefs from more than 15 restaurants are to present their most creative offerings at the event, vying for first-, second- and third-place honors in the appetizer, entrée and dessert categories. Attendees can cast people’s choice ballots, while official judges determine the entries worthiest of awards. The culinary creativity raises funds for the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens, also called MARC, a nonprofit agency that provides life services for developmentally disabled Florida Keys adults. Only 400 tickets are available for the event. Ticket prices begin at $65 per person, and groups can reserve tables for four or eight with premium wine and a wine server for the table. Visit www.masterchefsclassic.com/.
Introductory offer at new Hilton in Lima
The new city center 207-room Hilton Lima Miraflores has announced an introductory offer to celebrate the opening of the company’s first managed hotel in Peru and the brand’s first Hilton Hotels & Resorts hotel in the country. Valid Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, business and leisure travelers alike will be welcomed to the new Hilton Lima Miraflores with special introductory rates starting at $159.00 per night based on double occupancy, including Internet access and breakfast. The Hilton Lima Miraflores is located 11 miles from the international airport in an upscale area of Lima known for its shopping, gardens and fine dining. Hotel amenities include a rooftop terrace with views of Lima and the sea, a rooftop heated outdoor swimming pool, two whirlpools and fitness center. Visit www.hilton.com. Booking code is P0. Rate is a starting rate only and may vary. It does not include taxes and service charges, and is subject to availability. Other restrictions apply.
Culinary cruises expanded
This winter, Oceania Cruises is expanding its Culinary Discovery Tours bringing the enrichment experience to the South Pacific on its Marina. Designed for each port, Culinary Discovery Tours provide guests with the opportunity to explore local food markets, vineyards and farms in small groups with an expert chef from the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. Participants then join the chef in the culinary center for a hands-on cooking lesson of the regional cuisine in one of 24 work stations. The new South Pacific Culinary Discovery Tours are offered in the Bay of Islands and Tauranga, New Zealand on the 18-day South Pacific Paradise cruise, among other sailings. Departing Papeete, Tahiti on Feb. 7, the cruise calls on 11 ports throughout French Polynesia, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia before arriving in New Zealand. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
Carnival Cruise Lines recently unveiled additional details of the $155 million makeover that will transform Carnival Destiny into Carnival Sunshine during a 49-day dry dock in Italy. The ship will re-enter service in April with all of the dining, bar and entertainment elements of the line’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program, along with several new features. Among the new highlights are a new racing-themed water park featuring Carnival’s longest water slide, the tropical-themed Havana Bar, a full-service Asian restaurant, and more. Visit www.carnival.com/sunshine, which showcases a number of interior and exterior renderings and details the ship’s inaugural European and Caribbean itineraries.
Free post-cruise stay
Costa Cruises is featuring a new "Europe on Us" program that enables guests to extend their cruise vacation with a free two-night post-cruise hotel stay in Rome, Italy. The package is offered on select seven-, 11- and 12-night round-trip Civitavecchia (Rome) itineraries aboard Costa Pacifica and Costa Magica through April 12. In addition to the hotel stay, the "Europe on Us" package includes a one-way transfer from the pier to the hotel on the day of disembarkation. The offer is valid on new reservations for first and second guests booked in an oceanview or verandah stateroom. Visit www.costacruises.com.
Marathon Weekend package
The Bohemian Hotel Celebration, in the town of Celebration, near the Orlando theme parks, is featuring a Runner’s Delight Marathon Weekend Package. The package includes accommodations, Runner’s Care Package, transportation to and from the race and late checkout. Jan. 4-6 Last Minute Weekends rates from $179; Jan. 11-13, rates from $169. The package is based on availability and restrictions may apply. Visit www.celebrationhotel.com/packages.
For Valentines in St. Lucia
For those who wish to go beyond flowers and chocolates this Valentine's Day, a Caribbean getaway may be the ticket. St. Lucia's Stonefield Estate Resort is featuring a Romantic Getaway Package with villa accommodation with a private pool and ocean view. Rates start at $2,556 for four nights including taxes. The offer is good for travel Jan. 5-April 15. Bookings must be made by March 30. Visit www.stonefieldresort.com.
Alternative spring break trips
Projects Abroad has added a new program in Jamaica to their schedule of Alternative Spring Break Trips. The new Care in Jamaica trip focuses on childcare. Volunteers work together supporting children in orphanages. As a group volunteers can make a difference in a just a week by providing education and entertainment for the children and assisting the local staff with the upkeep of the home. In addition to the Jamaica program working with children, Projects Abroad offers existing Alternative Spring Break Trips building houses in Jamaica, caring for children in Costa Rica, protecting sea turtles in Mexico, and volunteering on community-based projects in Morocco. Though they are scheduled around major university calendars, the Alternative Spring Break Trips are open to volunteers of all ages. Additionally, Projects Abroad also offers trips throughout the year for volunteers of all ages and skills, from high school and college students to professionals and retirees. Visit www.projects-abroad.org/springbreak.
New "travel lounge" in South Beach
Kimpton's Surfcomber Miami, South Beach recently added a "travel lounge," The Docking Station, for virtual workers seeking alternative places to be productive outside of the home and office. The Docking Station features enhanced bandwidth, all day bites and drinks from Lantao Kitchen + Cocktials, Social Club, and other amenities in its lobby living room. The facility provides 24/7 access; food and beverage service from the hotel's restaurant, by texting "Lantao" to 77948 from a mobile phone; discounted valet parking ($10) with Lantao Kitchen + Cocktails validation; power outlets and power strips added throughout the living room, to make plugging in and powering up easy; complimentary WI-FI and complimentary morning coffee and tea daily. Visit www.surfcomber.com.
Universal Orlando offers
Universal Orlando Resort has announced special offers for U.S. and Canadian residents and for U.S. active and retired military personnel. With the offer for U.S. and Canadian residents, visitors who buy a two-day ticket receive a third day free (the offer is valid for purchase through June 16, is valid for 14 days from first use and must be used in full by June 30. Active duty and retired members of the military can now receive a complimentary three-day park-to-park ticket and they can also enjoy the Blue Man Group show at a discounted rate of $29. These military offers are available now through March 31 with valid identification on participating bases at ITT or Leisure Travel Service Offices and must be redeemed by June 30. Visit www.UniversalOrlando.com.
For eco-tour enthusiasts
Terra Incognita features a menu of eco-tours to destinations like Belize, Borneo, Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar and Tanzania. These eco-tours attract travelers who want to visit extraordinary parts of the globe with a guide to show them the way. The company donates a percentage of every eco-tour to the communities that so graciously host its participants and to date has donated more than $125,000 to charities in seven countries. Terra Incognita's travelers get to see those donation dollars at work on each tour by visiting the organization to which they are contributing. In Rwanda, for example, the tours visit the Gorilla Doctors, a non-profit group of veterinarians responsible for keeping the highly endangered Mountain Gorilla population healthy. In India, the groups visit the India branch of World Wildlife Fund where they learn what researchers, scientists and partners are doing to protect the endangered tiger population. Visit www.ecotours.com.
Deerfield Beach-Boca Raton property reflagged
Guests arriving at the Hilton Deerfield Beach-Boca Raton hotel will be greeted with an oven-baked chocolate cookie that is known around the world as a signature of the DoubleTree by Hilton brand. The 220-room Hilton Deerfield Beach hotel has become an addition to the more than 300 hotels in the DoubleTree by Hilton family. Amenities at the reflagged hotel include the custom-created Sweet Dreams by DoubleTree Sleep Experience; an array of body care products by Crabtree & Evelyn and a warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival. Visit www.deerfieldbeachbocaraton.doubletree.com.
Eco-friendly Kissimmee vacation home rental
All Star Vacation Homes has welcomed its first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified home into its vacation home management and hospitality program. The 7-bedroom, 8-bathroom vacation home, located in Formosa Gardens Estates in Kissimmee, has received a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council certifying its high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. With a LEED Gold rating (the second to highest rating), this home has been constructed with environmentally-friendly features including Florida Water Star certified components, gray water reuse system, rain water-harvested irrigation system, central heat and air conditioning with high-efficiency geothermal compressors, whole-house dehumidifier to reduce dust and allergens, cross-draft home ventilation system, energy Star lighting fixtures and other features. Visit www.AllStarVacationHomes.com.
Daytona 500 package
The Shores Resort & Spa on Daytona Beach Shores has introduced a hotel package in conjunction with the Daytona 500 race, held annually at the Daytona International Speedway. With a savings of more than $1,000, the five-night package is valid Feb. 20-25, and includes: five nights of ocean-view accommodations (Feb. 20-25, 2013); Petty/Earnhardt Tower-Level Seating for two at the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Drive4COPD 300 and Daytona 500 races (Feb. 23& 24); Sprint FanZone access for two (Feb. 23 & 24) and other features. Rates are per room. Package is valid only for five-night stay on Feb. 20-25, 2013. Visit www.ShoresResort.com and mention promotion code: D513SH.
Gadget to purify air while traveling
The AirTamer (www.airtamer.com) is a device that can be worn around the neck or clipped on clothing or a belt or placed on a nightstand while sleeping. It utilizes ionic/electrostatic technology to purify the air around personal space while traveling or in poor air quality locations. The device produces and emits negative ions, to force airborne pollutants, bacteria, viruses, smoke, mold, dust mites, pollen and other allergens away from the wearer’s breathing space. The AirTamer has no filters to buy or clean and runs on two included coin cell batteries. The AirTamer comes with a metal traveling case, retails for $59.95 and can be purchased online at www.filterstream.com or at retailers throughout North America.
Swimming with manatees in Crystal River this winter
The Plantation on Crystal River, along Florida’s Nature Coast, 80 miles north of Tampa, is offering a Manatee Package that offers a chance to swim with West Indian manatees and experience the resort with rates starting at $224 for two people. The package includes a one-night stay in a renovated garden view room; welcome bag with plush manatee toy, fun facts and manatee interaction guidelines; manatee snorkeling tour for two from the Plantation Adventure Center; breakfast for two at West 82 Bar & Grill; all equipment needed (mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit); hot chocolate and coffee on boat; enclosed boats for warmth and hot shower facility. Tours leave directly from the dock at Plantation’s own Adventure Center. Prime manatee viewing season usually runs from Oct.1-Mar. 31, but depends on the Gulf and Crystal River water temperatures. Package is available year-round. The package is based on double occupancy. Rate includes Sunday-Thursday stays. Inquire as to weekend pricing; water view, patio rooms, junior suites and golf villas are available for an additional charge. Additional nights and people sharing room are available for additional charge. Rates are subject to availability. Taxes and gratuities are not included. Visit www.PlantationonCrystalRiver.com.
Beachfront wedding in Naples
Couples dreaming of a beachfront wedding may wish to consider the Naples Beach Hotel in Naples. The resort, includes in its latest phase of renovations and enhancements, the opening of The Everglades Room, a new Gulf-view ballroom dedicated to weddings, banquets, and social events. Located where the resort’s Everglades Dining Room (which served breakfast) was situated, the Everglades Room is equipped with a wall of windows for panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. In honor of this new ballroom, the resort is offering a "Grand Opening Celebration Promotion" for weddings held between April 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2014. The promotion includes choice of three of these options: five percent off food at one event, or 10 percent off food at two events; complimentary presentation menu; custom signature drink; complimentary aisle markers; hanging lanterns; and five percent off the ceremony package. Available for weddings with a minimum of $5,000 in banquet food and beverage at the resort, the wedding must be booked between Dec. 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013, and is based on availability. For information, call the resort’s Catering Department at 888-231-2197, and visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com.
Renovation project at Orlando resort
The 146-room Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort is undergoing a $14 million renovation that will feature new interiors; upgraded furniture, fixtures, finishes and enhanced in-room technology in all of its guest accommodations. In addition to the renovation of the Villas, the resort will also be adding a new fitness center. The Villas are proceeding with renovations one block of villas at a time, with no interruption to reservations or resort operations. The project is slated for completion by mid-February. Visit www.grandcypress.com.
New ship for Norwegian
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it has reached an agreement with Meyer Werft GMBH of Germany to build a new cruise vessel for the line, for delivery in October 2015, with the option for a second ship for delivery in spring 2017. The new ship, at 163,000 gross tons and approximately 4,200 passenger berths, will be larger than Norwegian’s Breakaway class ships currently under construction at the same shipyard and incorporate many of those vessels’ unique design elements and innovations. With the project name "Breakaway Plus," this new vessel will be the largest in Norwegian’s fleet.The ship’s contract price is approximately euro 700 million. Meyer Werft, based in Papenburg, Germany, is currently building Norwegian’s two new 146,600 gross ton, 4,000-passenger Breakaway class vessels: Norwegian Breakaway, scheduled for delivery in late April 2013, and Norwegian Getaway, scheduled for delivery in mid-January 2014. Visit www.ncl.com.
Awards for MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises was recognized with 2012 Magellan Awards including one for the MSC Divina, which debuted in May and will be sailing Caribbean itineraries from Miami in 2013-14. The 3,500-passenger MSC Divina, the 12 ship in the MSC Cruises fleet, was selected as the 2012 Gold Magellan Award winner in the Cruise Ship/Large Cruise Ship category. Visitwww.msccruisesusa.com.
Murals restored at St. Pete hotel
The Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Pete, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its reopening in 1992, by restoring four 86-year-old original murals from its original Pompeii Room, now known as Marchand's Bar & Grill. The 86-year-old resort commissioned Florida muralist Robert Schott along with Tom Stovall, the artist who decorated the resort's dining room 20 years ago, to bring the murals back to their prime. Previously covered up by protective panels, the murals have been uncovered and restored. Located between the clerestory windows, the original paintings feature vertical designs of leafy vines and vases. Visit www.vinoyrenaissanceresort.com.
For those with food allergies
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has introduced a new line of allergy-friendly dining initiatives for guests at its 10 parks including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place. These initiatives range from personalized service to new menu options. The company partnered with the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network to train more than 6,000 culinary employees to assist guests with allergen needs. Among the new initiatives are "Chef Cards," filled out in advance by guests to outline the foods to avoid, which are handed to a chef before the preparation of the meal. More menu options, ranging from gluten-free pizza to an allergen-friendly Shamu-shaped chocolate bar, are available. For those on the go, the parks also provide prepackaged snacks such as cookies from companies that specialize in allergen-friendly foods including Divvies and Gluten Free to Go. To help guests plan, information on allergen-friendly services and safety tips can be found online at each park's website. Guests can also download the "Chef Cards" and fill them out prior to their visit. At the parks, in-park educational handouts are available. Visit www.seaworld.com, www.buschgardens.com and www.sesameplace.com.
Accolades for Palm Beach hotel
The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach was named Hotel Of The Year by the Hotel & Lodging Association of Palm Beach County. Other awards The Colony has received in recent years include the Quintessentially Palm Beach Award from the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce as part of the town's Centennial Celebration (2011); the Bernays Award for Best Branding Campaign from the Gold Coast PR Council for the 10th anniversary of the Royal Room Supper Club (2011); and the Providencia Award from the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau. This was the only time in the Providencia Award's 24-year history that it had gone to a smaller, boutique hotel (2009). Visit www.thecolonypalmbeach.com.
New restaurant for LEGOLAND
Construction is under way for an all-new restaurant, Fried Chicken Co., in LEGOLAND in Winter Haven. The indoor/outdoor venue is in the LEGO City zone. Price of a meal will run under $10. The restaurant is slated for completion in late 2012. Visit www.legoland.com.
Guest speakers announced for cruise for a cause
The First Annual Breast Cancer Survivor's Cruise to the Bahamas in spring 2013 has announced its keynote speakers and workshop presenters: Dr. Evelyn Higgins, fitness expert, author and lecturer; Rev. Robert W. Robinson, chaplain for the New York State Council of Churches and Chaplain Crisis Response Ministries; and Lou Paradise, president and chief of research, Topical BioMedics, Inc. Hosted by Denise's Breast Cancer Survivor's Foundation, the "Cruise for a Cause" to the Bahamas leaves from Miami on March 25, and is raising funds to help breast cancer patients and survivors, their families, and caregivers, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Assistance in Healthcare, a charitable foundation headquartered in Tulsa. The First Annual Breast Cancer Survivor's Cruise will be aboard the Norwegian Sky with ports of call at Nassau, Bahamas, Grand Bahama Island and Great Stirrup Cay. The ship returns to Miami on March 29. For more information on Denise's Breast Cancer Survivor Foundation visit www.denisescancersurvivorfoundation.org.
Diving in Bonaire
A Caribbean dive resort, the Harbour Village Beach Club is located within a beachfront enclave on a four-acre, private peninsula on the island of Bonaire. Harbour Village Beach Club features a five-star PADI Dive Center, Great Adventures Bonaire, within the resort and dive sites just off its shore. The nearest one, just 50 yards out from the beach, is the shipwreck of the 60-foot "Our Confidence," a spot for beginners that can even be seen by snorkelers from the surface. Another popular dive site, "Something Special," is also a short swim from shore. Bonaire diving packages are available for both non-certified and certified divers and include a seven-night stay, full American breakfast, airport transfers and unlimited use of the fitness center, tennis courts, and kayaks. The dive shop is located along the beach, just steps from the accommodations. Packages for beginners include the Discover Scuba Diving introductory course, a one-day program that includes instruction and a shallow skill session followed by a shore dive that may be counted towards certification. There are also packages that let younger guests experience Bonaire's undersea wonderland. These include SASY or Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth (ages 5 and up), Bubble Maker (ages 8 and up), and the Dive Instruction and Certification program (ages 10 and up). Visit www.harbourvillage.com.
Refurbished Key West cottages
Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort off Key West has completed a refurbishment of its three-bedroom cottages. The cottages feature upgraded furnishings and an island color pallet. Updated, fully equipped kitchens offer GE Profilestainless steel appliances, solid maple cabinetry, and a glass mosaic backsplash and accent wall designed with the colors of the sea. New flooring in the kitchen and living room is made of wide plank, hand-scraped eucalyptus wood, and new furnishings and accents feature island hues of sun, sea, sand and bamboo. Each bedroom offers either a king-size four-poster bed or two queen-size beds with exotic headboard panels made of woven water hyacinth. Other touches include crown molding, sculpted base boards, bead-board paneling and wainscoting. All cottages offer flat screen cable televisions, CD player, stereo, DVD player, and complimentary Wi-Fi access inside the cottage and on the cottage veranda. Visit www.WestinSunsetKeyCottages.com.
Upscale bowling lounge in Orlando sets grand opening date
Splitsville Luxury Lanes in Downtown Disney West Side in the Walt Disney World Resort has announced it will celebrate its grand opening on Dec. 19. The two-story, 50,000-square-foot retro-style, family-friendly complex features 30 bowling lanes, billiards, live entertainment, a balcony bar and such food favorites as pizza, burgers, sushi and sandwiches. Visit www.disneyworld.com/splitsville.
Stocking stuffer for golfers, travelers
Golfers often wear headsets on the course listening to a swing coach or favorite tunes on an iPod. The problem is trying to keep the long headset wires from blowing around and getting in the way of the club as it comes down and through the ball. Even though everything appears to be in its proper place, often something happens and the shaft may get entangled with the iPod headset wires. A little swing-free headset accessory, the Earbud Yo-Yo, locks down flying earbud wires keeping them out of the way of the golf club. This cord organizer may appeal to travelers too (particularly those carrying more than one set of earbuds that can become tangled in carry-ons). The Earbud Yo-Yo helps owners customize cord lengths, saves time by preventing knots, winds up earbuds with microphones, and locks right onto the cord. It is available in 16 skins and solid colors starting under $10. Visit www.earbudyoyo.com.
"Fore" the ladies package in St. Augustine
The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club in Jacksonville/St. Augustine is offering a new package called the "Fore The Ladies Package." In addition to accommodations for two nightsat the AAA Four-Diamond resort, the package includes one round of golfper person on the resort's Slammer & Squire championship golf course (steps from The Renaissance Resort) or King & Bear championship golf course; one spa treatment per person at the Spa Laterra (choice of a one-hour Swedish massage or one-hour luxury facial or 90-minute manicure/pedicure); complimentary transportation and privileges at the private oceanfront Serenata Beach Club; and complimentary transportation to historic downtown St. Augustine. In addition, the package includesbreakfast daily per person, champagne and strawberries delivered to the room, and range balls. Valid through April 30, based on availability, the two-night package is from $329 per room, per night, plus tax for two people in the room. The rate for four people in the room is from $539 per room, per night, plus tax. Visit www.renwgv.com. For the package for two people, reference Promotional Code GPF. For the package for four people, reference Promotional Code P51. Advanced reservations are required, blackout dates may apply, and a limited number of rooms are available for the promotion. The offer does not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms, and the offer cannot be combined with any other promotions. Other restrictions may apply.
Florida residents' rate in Daytona Beach Shores
Florida residents can enjoy a bundle of specially selected savings at the oceanfront The Shores Resort & Spa. From now through February 2013, Floridians who overnight at The Shores Resort & Spa can enjoy 50 percent off private poolside cabanas; 25 percent off a two-hour stand-up paddle board lesson and tour along the Intracoastal Waterway; 20 percent off services at the resort's Indulge Spa; a keepsake water bottle; and a complimentary s'mores kit for roasting at the property's ocean-side fire pits. Booking code is FL12SH. Visit www.ShoresResort.com.
Feathered friends in the Keys
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is a non-profit wild bird rescue, rehabilitation and education facility in Tavernier at Mile Marker 93.6. Visitors can drop in seven days a week from sunrise to sunset and walk through the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary to Florida Bay and observe many fine feathered permanent residents as well as free flying birds. Donations and volunteerism accepted. Visit www.fkwbc.org
Food and wine voyages
Food & Wine Trails has released a dozen new food and wine cruises for 2013, with opportunities to drink the best wines, experience great meals and travel with top wine and food personalities. Among the offerings is a multi-course, wine-paired dinner at Chateau Smith Haut-Lafite in Bordeaux hosted by Napa winemaker David Ramey on Oceania Cruises' Nautica June 13-20; and a private wine-maker hosted luncheon at a Chateauneuf-du-Pape winery served by a Michelin starred chef on the Azamara Journey July 3-11, Monte Carlo to Barcelona cruise. The per week price of a Food & Wine Trails wine cruise starts at $2,274 per person. This includes the cruise cost with transportation to and within Europe, all meals and entertainment, plus an exclusive to the group wine experience with winemaker dinners, parties, receptions and educational wine tastings. A list of 2013 wine cruises can be found at www.foodandwinetrails.com/cruises.
Mistletoe and magic in Orlando
Five all-suite staySky Hotels& Resorts in Orlando are featuring the Mistletoe and Magic program with rates starting at $118 per two-night stay through Jan. 1. Two-night package rates at the five properties are as follows: Enclave Suites, from $118; Palisades Resort, from $158; Hawthorn Suites by Windham Universal, from $158; Hawthorn Suites by Windham Lake Buena Vista, from $158; and Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, from $218. Visit www.staysky.com and enter promo code: "MISTLETOE".
3RD HOME (www.3RDHOME.com) is a private club for owners of luxury second homes. Featuring over 1,300 properties in more than 66 countries, with an average value of $2.25 million, 3RD HOME enables second home owners to travel the world and stay in premier properties without the expense of renting. Unlike traditional home exchanges, 3RD HOME does not require a direct or simultaneous exchange with another member. By making available weeks of time in their own second home for other members' use, members earn 3RD HOME Keys that can be used as currency to reserve a stay at other 3RD HOME properties. Prospective members are pre-screened for home quality and members provide unbiased comprehensive ratings and feedback on their host and guest experiences in order to ensure the highest quality of both members and their residences. 3RD HOME facilitates the exchange process through an Internet platform. 3RD HOME's two-year membership fee is $495. A reservation fee of $495 per week is also required by a guest member when making a booking to use another property in the club. Visit www.3RDHOME.com.
Starting 2013 on the right foot in Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is presenting the inaugural The Biggest Loser Half Marathon and 5K RunWalk on Dec. 30. The destination has partnered with Dan and Jackie Evans, season five contestants on NBC’s hit show “The Biggest Loser,” to offer the RunWalk as a non-intimidating environment for participants, with longer course time limits to allow walkers to complete the race at their own pace. The Biggest Loser Half Marathon and 5K RunWalk is licensed through the NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group and Shine America. Participants will walk, jog and run the course with the Gulf of Mexico serving as a backdrop. Cost to participate varies depending the time people register: $125 through Dec. 20; $150 at packet pick-up registration (if available). Participants can celebrate the completion of the RunWalk at Panama City Beach’s Fifth Annual Beach Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve. This yearly tradition takes place in the 1.1 million-square-foot outdoor lifestyle center Pier Park, during which an 800-pound glowing beach ball descends to signify the New Year. Earlier in the evening a family ball drop, consisting of 10,000 inflatable beach balls dropped from the sky, and a fireworks display is held. Log on to www.visitpanamacitybeach.com.
Wedding packages in Vero Beach
The oceanfront Vero Beach Hotel & Spa offers two Destination Wedding Packages starting at $5,500 for up to 50 guests for the "Day" package including a one bedroom oceanfront bridal suite for two nights; wedding ceremony on the Shoreline Patio overlooking the ocean with complimentary white ceremony chairs; two hour private brunch reception for up to 50 guests in the Shoreline Room that includes a selection of Cobalt Restaurant specialty brunch items and unlimited mimosas; wedding cake and champagne toast. The Destination Wedding “Evening” Package starts at $9,000 for up to 50 guest and includes a one bedroom oceanfront bridal suite for two nights; one hour welcome reception with wine and cheese; wedding ceremony on the Shoreline Patio overlooking the ocean with complimentary white ceremony chairs; wedding cake and champagne toast; and private two course dinner for up to 50 guests in the Shoreline Room with a three hour open bar. Destination Wedding Packages are available now through Dec. 27. For inquiries please contact Nikki Estes at 772-774-4960. Visit www.verobeachhotelandspa.com/florida-beach-weddings.
Lingerie football coming to Jacksonville
The Lingerie Football League is coming to Jacksonville. The league will move the Tampa Breeze franchise to Jacksonville and rename it the Jacksonville Breeze. The first home game will be played in March. Visit www.lflus.com.
Fresh from a refit
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has renovated its Silver Cloud this fall. The refurbishment took place during a three-week dry dock in Palermo, Italy, and included renovations of the interior decoration, including the suites, public spaces and dining venues. Highlights of the refit include a renewed lobby displaying a color palette of warm earth tones that is carried throughout most areas of the ship with the installation of new carpets, wall treatments and artwork in the corridors, staircases and public spaces. Providing contrast to the main color scheme of the ship is The Bar, which is decorated in shades of teal mixed with neutral tones of brown and beige. All new furniture, carpet, curtains and reconditioned wood flooring give the Panorama Lounge a refreshed contemporary look, while The Spa and Beauty Salon also got a makeover. Dining enhancements include a transformed Le Champagne, the only Relais & Chateaux restaurant at sea, with an upgraded entrance design, addition of backlit wine displays, a redesigned seating layout, and new wood flooring, fabrics and window treatments.La Terrazza's updated interior includes a remodeled buffet area and new banquettes along the walls, offering greater seating flexibility, including more tables for two. The Restaurant, the ship’s main dining room, has chairs dressed in bright new fabrics, new window treatments and reconditioned hardwood flooring. The Grill, with its interactive dining concept, is now featured as the existing Pool Bar and Grill area is expanded with additional seating, a large overhead awning, and the removal of the central stair unit, which is replaced with a curving corner staircase. At this new outdoor restaurant, guests enjoy an innovative dining experience that lets them cook prime meats and fresh seafood on heated volcanic rocks at their table. In the ship’s suites, the sofas and chairs are updated with new fabrics. All carpets, headboards, curtains and outside veranda furniture have been replaced. Each suite has a new mattress custom-made for Silversea, featuring an individual spring system with a soft and firm side that can be reversed to suit each guest's preference. The new beds are outfitted with plush new Pratesi sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers. All bathrooms have new flooring, marble appointments and either a new bath-and-shower combination or a new walk-in, glass-enclosed rainforest shower with sitting area. (This replaces the existing bath-and-shower combination in nearly 90 percent of the ship’s Veranda and Vista Suites). The Owner's and Grand Suites are outfitted with a modern wet room bath configuration featuring a new rainforest shower that is separate from the bathtub. Visit www.silversea.com.
New Norwegian ship to sail from Miami
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that its new Norwegian Getaway will be delivered in late January 2014, earlier than originally scheduled, and will sail a seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary from PortMiamiyear-round. Carrying 4,000 passengers, Norwegian Getaway will be the largest ship to homeport year-round in Miami and will embody a Miami vibe. Following inaugural events in Europe, Norwegian Getaway will arrive in Miami in late January 2014 and begin her first Eastern Caribbean sailing on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Ports of call include: Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. In addition, the company announced the ship’s Transatlantic sailing, which will depart Rotterdam, The Netherlands on Jan. 16, 2014 and include a stop in London (Southampton), England where guests can also embark, followed by nine days at sea before arriving in Miami on Jan. 27, 2014. To accommodate Norwegian Getaway’s arrival in January, the company is modifying the itineraries of its existing ships in Miami during that time. Beginning Feb. 2, 2014, Norwegian Epic will depart Miami on Sundays and sail a Western Caribbean itinerary. Ports of call include: Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. Norwegian Sun will now depart Miami on her 10 and 11-day Southern Caribbean itineraries a day later than scheduled on Mondays and Thursdays. Norwegian Pearl, which had been scheduled to depart Miami on Sundays will be chartered from Jan. 19 to March 21, 2014. In addition, four new seven-day Western Caribbean itineraries will be added on March 21, March 28, April 4 and April 11, 2014. Currently being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Getaway will be 146,600 gross tons and offer a range of accommodations. The ship will also feature a mix of stateroom options including The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 Suites at the top of the ship in an exclusive, private key-card enclave and 22 additional Suites located throughout the ship; the Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers; a range of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites; along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa. Norwegian Getaway’s sister ship, Norwegian Breakaway, will begin sailing from her year-round homeport of New York City in May 2013. Visit www.ncl.com.
The Sandton Kura Hulanda in Curacao is offering a new Best of Both Worlds package that includes two nights accommodations in a Resort Superior Room at the Sandton Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa; three nights accommodations in an Ocean Front Terrace Junior Suite at the Sandton Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club; complimentary bottle of champagne in room upon arrival; buffet breakfast daily for two; complimentary snorkel trip on Saturdays at the Lodge; complimentary admission at the Museum Kura Hulanda at the Hotel; unlimited use of Fitness Facility including Sauna, Steam Room and Jacuzzi; complimentary chaise lounges at swimming pool and beach; complimentary scheduled transportation between the Sandton Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa to the Sandton Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club - located 40 minutes through the scenic countryside of Curacao. Rate valid for Sept 15 - Dec 23 is $1190 per couple; rate valid for Jan 2 - March 31, 2013 is $1390 per couple. Special price includes all taxes and service charges. No refund is given for any unused portions. To book this package, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
World of Beer in Jacksonville
The World of Beer opened this fall in the Tinseltown shopping center on the Southside of Jacksonville. For information on the beer bar, visit www.wobusa.com.
Holidays in Palm Beach
The Brazilian Court Hotel is featuring a Holiday in the Tropics package that includes a Parisian Breakfast for two at Café Boulud daily and a Welcome Sweet Treat amenity from Café Boulud on the day of arrival. The package is available through Jan. 3. Rates start at $364 per night and require a two-night minimum. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
New Senses Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
A monorail ride away from Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando is the newly re-imagined Senses -- A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The remodeled spa graced with an original mural themed to Florida’s natural charms and glass mosaic tiles in the Jacuzzi rooms, is set to open on Dec. 17. It blends the resort’s Victorian elegance with modern touches. Highlights include 15 treatment rooms offering such services as water therapy, sugar exfoliation body treatment, citrus facial, hand and foot ritual with Chinese Jasmine oils, plus a Magical Manicure or Princess Pedicure for youngsters. Lounges, whirlpools, and treatment rooms all offer the healing nature of Florida citrus and botanicals. The new menu of services also includes a signature 80-minute Grand Floridian treatment featuring a special aromatherapy massage. Guests can book spa appointments at the new Senses -- A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort by calling 407-WDW-SPAS (407-939-7727) or learn more by visiting www.disneyworld.com/spas.
Re-imagined Test Track attraction at Epcot
Epcot’s Test Track attraction in the Future World section of the park, which has been closed since spring, is slated to have its official reopening on Dec. 6. The re-imagined Test Track Presented by Chevrolet has a new "Chevrolet Design Center" where guests can become "automotive designers" and create their own custom concept vehicles amid a collection of Chevrolet concept cars and model vehicles. Then it’s vroom-vroom as guests buckle into their six-person "SimCar"ride vehicle and put their design through its paces on the hills, switchbacks and straight-aways of the Test Track circuit. After completing their performance testing, visitors move into a post-show area filled with special effects and be scored on how well their concept vehicle did. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Ringing in 2013 in Jacksonville/St. Augustine
The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club in Jacksonville/St. Augustine is featuring a New Year’s ROCK-IN Eve Party on Dec. 31. The resort is offering a party-only package and one- or two-night stay packages. The party will start at 7:30 p.m. in the resort’s atrium lobby, which will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, live cooking stations and food presentations paired with beer and wine stations. Entertainment, from 8 to10 p.m., will be provided by crooner Wade Tower who will perform favorites from Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra, as well as other favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the party will move to the resort’s St. Augustine Ballroom, with entertainment provided at the "Ball Drop Dance Party" by the high-energy Tangee Renee Band. The party also will feature live coverage of the New York City ball drop, a champagne toast at midnight, late night snacks, and a cash bar. The party will go until 1 a.m. A One-Night Package includes admission to the party for two people and accommodations for the evening of Dec. 31. This package is available starting from $259.99 per couple, plus tax. A Two-Night Package includesadmission to the party for two people, and accommodations at the resort for two nights (with arrival on either Dec. 30 or Dec. 31). This package starts from $359.99 per couple, plus tax. A "Party Only Package" is $75 per person, plus tax (must be 21 or older to attend the party). To purchase a Party Only Package, call 904-940-8587 or visit www.renwgv.com. To purchase the One-Night Package or the Two-Night Package, call 888-740-7020.
"App" is for appetite in Fort Lauderdale
With diverse dining options ranging from waterfront eateries, romantic hot spots, family friendly fare, ethnic cuisine, steakhouses, vegetarian, or fresh sea to table offerings, sorting out the Greater Fort Lauderdale restaurant scene just got easier with the introduction of the new Fork Lauderdale Dining App. Designed for those who want to explore the culinary and nightlife scene in Greater Fort Lauderdale, an enhanced GPS and advanced filters allow tech savvy visitors to spin the dial and easily locate restaurants, bars and clubs. Choose from Sunday brunch to rocking happy hour spots, to gaming and everything in between. The app serves up tasty suggestions and insider tips from locals and reviews from fellow patrons. Available free in the Apple App Store, Greater Fork Lauderdale is the third visitor App created by Greater Fort Lauderdale and follows the success of Defrost Your Swimsuit and iVisitLauderdale Apps. For information on Fort Lauderdale, visit www.sunny.org/.
New resort opens in Belize
El Secreto is a new barefoot luxury resort, 11 miles north of San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye in Belize that opened this fall. Accommodations are in 13 individual villas decorated with tropical woods and Mayan-style thatched roofs. Amenities include marble-finished bathrooms, private patio, hammock and outdoor Jacuzzi and outdoor shower. Visit www.ElSecretoBelize.com.
St. Lucia special
Stonefield Estate Resort in St. Lucia is featuring a new package whereby guests begin their trip staying up north where the nightlife is enriching and where they can enjoy duty free shopping and some of St. Lucia’s finest gastronomy. Guests stay overnight in Stonefield’s new Villa Cybelle for three evenings, which includes views of the town of Castries and the ocean.Then participants head south for four nights in one of Stonefield’s one-bedroom ocean view villas where guests receive daily breakfasts, a couple’s massage and a snorkeling excursion to the coral gardens. Rates for this Duo Package start at $2,995.36 through Dec. 20, and then increase to $4,275.09 Jan. 5, through April 15, 2013. Visit www.stonefieldresort.com.
Sailings for the holidays
The holiday spirit can be felt at every corner of Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships this season--from eggnog, cookies, and yuletide carols to festive décor, themed entertainment, and gingerbread house displays. Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ chefs will serve special European and American tasting menus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sample menu items include lobster and ricotta ravioli, Christmas goose, roasted turkey on chestnut-stuffing, Bûche de Noël, and traditional pumpkin pie. An interdenominational service is also held on Christmas Eve. One of the holiday voyages sails along the Amazon aboard the Seven Seas Mariner for a 22-night cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Miami departing Dec. 16. The Ultimate Amazon sailing offers up to 43 free shore excursions and calls at eight different ports in Brazil, French Guiana, Barbados, St. Barts and Puerto Rico. Visit www.RSSC.com.
South Walton special
The Village of South Walton Beach will provide 30 percent off prepaid 2012 bookings through Dec. 31. Visit http://www.visitsouthwalton.com/special-offers/30-off-for-prepaid-2012-bookings. For information on South Walton, a 26-mile stretch on Florida’s Northwest coast, log on to www.southwalton.com.
For family, friend reunions in Virgin Gorda
Bayhouse, a 6,000 square-feet villa in a bay on the southern coast of Virgin Gorda is situated on 300 yeards of beach frontage and set on almost two private acres between the Copper Mine National Park and The Baths. It features three en-suite bedrooms, open spaces and a professional grade kitchen. Rates for 2012 range from $4,900 to $14,100 per week. Visit www.bayhousevilla.com.
Free holiday open house at Winter Park museum
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park will hold a free Holiday Weekend Open House Saturday, Dec. 22, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, December 23, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is known for its Charles Comfort Tiffany treasures including the chapel interior Tiffany designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Visit www.morsemuseum.org.
Mickey Mouse onboard sailings from Miami
Disney Cruise Line will set sail from Miami for the first time on Dec. 23. One six- and one seven-night Caribbean sailing will set the stage for an extensive schedule of three-, four- and five-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas and the Western Caribbean. Ports of call include Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Key West; Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney's private island of Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. The itineraries offer days at sea to hobnob with Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters and enjoy the facilities and entertainment aboard the Disney Wonder or Disney Magic, and days in port to swim, snorkel, shop and pursue other activities. Rates for the Miami voyages start at $609 per person for three-night cruises; $500 per person for four-night cruises and $575 per person for five-night cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy. Departure dates for five-night Caribbean cruises from Miami to Cozumel and Castaway Cay include Jan. 5, 19; Feb. 2, 16; March 2, 16, 30; April 13, 27; Oct. 27; Nov. 10, 24 and Dec. 8, 22. Five-night Caribbean sailings from Miami to Grand Cayman and Cozumel depart on Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 11, 25; March 11, 25; April 8, 22; Nov. 1, 15, 29 and Dec. 13. Four-night Bahamas voyages from Miami to Key West, Nassau and Castaway Cay set sail on Jan. 10, 24; Feb. 7, 21; March 7, 21; April 4, 18 and May 2. Four-night Bahamas cruises from Miami to Key West and Castaway Cay are slated for Nov. 6, 20 and Dec. 4, 18. Three-night Bahamas sailings from Miami to Nassau and Castaway Cay are scheduled for Dec. 27 and 30. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
For tech, photography gear on the go
The Airbac is a backpack invention that uses a patented, built-in air cushion technology to protect tech gear on the go, including camera, laptop, cell phone and more. Wearers pump the air pocket to the desired level, and the Airbac shields their photography equipment and tech items with a cushion of air. The Airbac's air cushioned design also spreads the weight more evenly throughout the back than a standard laptop backpack, with the majority of the weight distributed to the core muscles of the hips and waist and resting on the top of the wearer's rear end, padded with a cushion of air. Airbac comes in a variety of styles and colors and retails for $49.99-$149.99. Visit www.airbac.com.
South Beach package
Kimpton's Surfcomber Miami is featuring special rates starting at $239 for its Sunrise Package with such included features as a $50 food and beverage credit, complimentary daily beach chairs for two and complimentary bottled water for two. The Sunrise Package is available now for booking and travel through Dec. 27. Restrictions and blackout dates may apply. Visit www.surfcomber.com and use booking code PBRK.
World cruise 2014 itinerary unveiled
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises recently announced its World Cruise 2014, a 113-day voyage from Los Angeles to Barcelona aboard Silver Whisper, departing on Jan. 6, 2014. Guests aboard World Cruise 2014 will visit 54 destinations in 29 countries, with 12 overnight stays along the way. The ship will follow a westward path across the Pacific to call on Polynesia and lands Down Under, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Australia and New Zealand. From there, the ship will sail up to the remote island of Koror and then head west to spend a month exploring Asian cultures -- from China, Japan, and Vietnam to Thailand, Singapore, and India -- including three days in Yangon, Myanmar. The ship will conclude her global tour calling on modern capitals and ancient cities in the Mediterranean. Silversea is offering guests the option to extend their World Cruise by adding a pre-cruise Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles (17 days), or extend from Barcelona to Lisbon (7 days) or Southampton (16 days). Fares for World Cruise 2014 start at $54,550 per person, double. Segments are available. Visit www.silversea.com/worldcruise2014.
Running and biking enthusiasts in the Florida Keys soon will have more miles to travel because the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Department of Transportation and Monroe County have begun work on some of their $13 million construction projects to expand the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail by 30 miles. The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail currently features more than 70 miles of trail paved in segments along a planned 106-mile corridor from Key Largo to Key West. Envisioned as a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facility, the trail serves as a recreational and alternative transportation corridor for the Florida Keys. Paralleling U.S. Highway 1, this recreational pathway incorporates 23 original Flagler Over-Sea Railroad bridges, offering a scenic venue for hiking, running, bicycling, in-line skating, sightseeing, fishing and kayaking. Crews recently began work on six separate Overseas Heritage Trail projects throughout the Keys including new sections of trail from Stock Island to Big Coppitt Key, the south end of Lower Sugarloaf historic bridge, from Lower Sugarloaf Key to Summerland Key, from Big Pine Key to the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge, from Layton to Channel 5 Historic Bridge and Grassy Key to Long Key Channel south. Visit www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/state/keystrail/.
Spa happy hour in Orlando
The nèu lotus spa at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld is featuring a Spa Happy Hour with perks to guests who visit their spa from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday including 35 percent off any 50- or 80-minute spa treatment plus complimentary champagne and light snacks. To make a spa happy hour reservation, call the nèu lotus spa at 407-248-7428. Spa services must be reserved in advance.
New golf website
Florida's First Coast of Golf has launched a new website at -- www.Florida-Golf.org, as a resource for golf in Northeast Florida. Designed to deliver a more user-friendly experience for visitors in search of golf travel packages and booking opportunities, the new site features integrated video, course mapping, and a variety of other tools and information. The site organizes Northeast Florida's golf offerings into five destinations: Amelia Island, Jacksonville & The Beaches, Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine, Clay County and Flagler County. Each area is showcased with video, photography and information on courses, dining, attractions, lodging and more.
Minor basilica designation for Key West church
Key West's St. Mary Star of the Sea, the oldest Catholic church in South Florida, recently was designated a minor basilica by the Vatican. According to archdiocese officials, "basilica" is a title of honor bestowed on a church of historic and spiritual importance. Established in 1846, St. Mary Star of the Sea is the 73rd minor basilica in the United States and the fifth in Florida. The process of becoming a basilica involved responding to 120 questions in Latin and demonstrating the church's historical significance, architectural uniqueness and spiritual characteristics. St. Mary Star of the Sea is renowned for the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, erected in 1922 and said to protect Key West from serious hurricane impacts. The church is located at the intersection of Truman Avenue and Windsor Lane in the island city. The coat of arms for the new basilica incorporates elements including a conch shell that is a traditional symbol of the Florida Keys. Visit www.keywestcatholicparish.org.
Target opening date for Tampa hotel
Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging & Development recently announced a target opening date of November 2013 for the Epicurean, a 137-room boutique hotel devoted to culinary experiences. Located in the trendy Hyde Park historic district of South Tampa, the food-focused hotel will feature a large, state-of-the-art culinary classroom, high-end bistro, wine shop, rooftop lounge, full-service spa, and a retail and production bakery and pastry shop. The Epicurean is being developed in collaboration with the legendary Bern's Steak House, and will be the first newly constructed property to join the Autograph Collection of Marriott International. Visit www.epicureanhotel.com.
Grand opening of New Fantasyland at Disney World
After dress rehearsals and previews this fall, the Magic Kingdom is holding the grand opening for its new Fantasyland on Dec. 6. Attractions of the expansion of this section of the park include Storybook Circus with double Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides northeast of the Mad Tea Party ride; a "big top" that serves as a queue area for Dumbo and features a variety of interactive experiences; a family coaster, The Great Goofini, and a re-imagined Train Station. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, is a new ride where visitors journey under and over the waves with Ariel and her friends to music from the popular Disney animated feature, "The Little Mermaid." Across a stone bridge from this attraction is the new Beast's Castle (from "Beauty and the Beast"), where the Be Our Guest restaurant is housed –an eatery with a ballroom, gallery, murals, and of course, a mysterious "West Wing." It serves fast food –there are seats for 550 diners. Nearby is Belle's Village with shops and Gaston's Tavern. Just beyond the village, visitors get another opportunity to live a fairytale at Enchanted Tales with Belle –one enters through a "magic mirror" to the Beast's library where Belle herself and Lumiere tell the "tale as old as time" with audience participation. More novelties still to come for the new Fantasyland include the Princess Fairytale Hall for meet-and-greets with Disney princesses opening in 2013 and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a coaster, debuting in 2014. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
For young explorers
Young readers have been following Greg Heffley's adventures in Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, including a bout with Cabin Fever and now as love is in the air, they can read all about a Valentine's Day episode in his life with the Nov. 13 release of the seventh book in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel ($13.95). Visit www.abramsbooks.com.
Galapagos programs open for booking
Silversea Cruises has opened the books for its 2013 and 2014 Silver Galapagos programs. Its year-round schedule of seven-day expedition voyages aboard the 100-guest, all-suite Silver Galapagos will begin operating in late September featuring options including a Western Itinerary: Sailing Saturday to Saturday roundtrip from Baltra Island, Silver Galapagos will trace a path across the western, southern and eastern islands, including Santiago, Bartolomé, Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana, San Cristóbal, and Santa Cruz. Another option is a North Central Itinerary: Sailing Saturday to Saturday roundtrip from Baltra Island, this itinerary encompasses the northeast, central and southeast islands of Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Seymour Norte, San Cristóbal, Española, and Plazas Sur. Fares start at $5,450 per person double. Complimentary expeditions ashore are guided by an experienced expedition team (certified by the Galapagos National Park Service). Silver Galapagos features ocean-view accommodations, gourmet cuisine, personalized butler service, complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, and stocked in-suite beverage cabinet. Visit www.silversea.com/expeditions.
For "buddymooners" in Key West
Three is no longer a crowd as Ocean Key Resort & Spa welcomes honeymooners and their friends for a "buddymoon" in Key West. The resort's "Buddymoon Package" valid through Dec. 20, is priced at $4,999 for three-night minimum stay for groups of up to four people. It includes a rum cruise; bike rentals; one massage per person at SpaTerre; two Tropical cocktails at Sunset Pier per day, per person; one waterfront dinner at Hot Tin Roof, and accommodations in a two-bedroom suite with Harbour View. Packages available for up to four people. Subject to blackout dates and availability. Must be reserved by Ocean Key Resort & Spa's Professional Reservations Department from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call 800-328-9815. For resort information, visit www.oceankey.com.
For teens on Amelia Island
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is now part of the revolutionary Teen Connection program, which offers teens a one-of-a-kind travel experience. The resort's own Teen Concierge will provide a teen's perspective on local activities, restaurants and attractions. This program was recently created by the Omni Teen Advisory Board, a select group of experienced teenage travelers, who provide their opinions and propose ideas. Visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com.
Animal encounter discounts for Florida residents in Miami
Through Dec. 14, Florida residents can enjoy up to 30 percent off animal encounter programs at Miami Seaquarium including dolphin interaction programs at Dolphin Harbor and the Sea Trek Reef Encounter. With this offer, the Dolphin Odyssey program is $134 plus tax per person (regularly $199 plus tax) and the Dolphin Encounter program is $94 plus tax per person (regularly $139 plus tax). Children 5 through 9 can participate in the Dolphin Encounter program for the discounted price of $68 plus tax (regularly $99 plus tax). Dolphin Harbor, home to thirteen Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and the park's dolphin interaction programs, features a 12,000 square foot, 700,000 gallon dolphin pool surrounded by an 8,000 square foot facility that includes a reception area, education seminar room, changing facilities and rest rooms. Dolphin Harbor offers guests two different dolphin interaction programs. Dolphin Odyssey is a two-hour experience, which includes feeding, touching and learning about these magnificent animals plus the opportunity for a deep-water interaction with a dolphin. Guests must be at least 52 inches tall to participate in the Dolphin Odyssey program. Dolphin Encounter is the newer program that allows guests to wade out into the pool and have a shallow water experience meeting the dolphins. The two-hour program features an educational seminar and the chance to feed and touch a dolphin as well as learn about dolphin training techniques. Dolphin Encounter participants must be at least five years of age and for those children under 9 years, an older sibling or adult must accompany the child as a participant. Expectant mothers are not allowed to participate in dolphin interaction programs. Program fees include one day's admission to the park. The Sea Trek Reef Encounter allows guests to become one with the park's reef aquarium, while moving in slow motion in a near zero gravity diving system. Sea Trekking, developed by Sub Sea Systems, Inc. can be experienced by non-divers, ages 10 and above – no certification or swimming skills are necessary. In the Reef Aquarium at Miami Seaquarium participants may Sea Trek as deep as 15 feet under water. Sea Trek Reef Encounter is controlled by a compressor system that takes in air, compresses it, sends it through a series of filtration components and on to a control console and manifold to regulate the air flow to participants. Unlike deep sea diving, the participant's entire head stays dry throughout the entire experience. Sea Trek Reef Encounter at Miami Seaquarium takes about 20 minutes and costs Florida residents $79 (plus tax). This Florida resident discount fee includes same day admission to the park. Discounts for Sea Trek are available to participants in the park's dolphin interaction programs as well. The Florida Resident special offer for both programs is valid now to Dec. 14. Proof of Florida residency is required. For more information or to make a reservation please call 305-365-2501. More information on Miami Seaquarium is available at www.miamiseaquarium.com.
British Virgin Islands escape
Biras Creek Resort in the British Virgin Islands can only be reached by boat or helicopter and is a secret address on the tiny island of Virgin Gorda, famous for its "Baths" formed by the spherical granite rocks dotted along the beach. The resort offers a "Sailaway Option" that includes two or more nights for two aboard the classic sailing schooner Crystal Clear in the yacht's king bedded Master Cabin. Captain, cook, all meals and beverages provided on board. Visit http://www.relaischateaux.com/en/search-book/hotel-restaurant/biras/.
Taking flight over the Middle Keys
Middle Keys visitors can take flight with Conch Air Hang Gliding, a Keys business that recently switched from running biplanes to hang-glider towing. Conch Air can accommodate participants of almost all ages, with no prior experience necessary to fly at altitudes of 1,500 to 3,500 feet. Experiences range from a fast-paced joyride to a peaceful look at the eco-offerings of the Florida Keys waters. Conch Air Hang Gliding is a boat-towed hang gliding experience captained by a U.S. Coast Guard certified boat captain, with flight instruction taught by a certified instructor who has logged more than 10,000 flights. Hang gliding prices begin at $99 for an introductory flight. The company also offers packages for becoming a certified hang glider pilot. Conch Air Hang Gliding operates daily by appointment out of Edgewater Lodge on Long Key at Mile Marker 65.5. Visit www.conchair.com.
New tent-only campsites at Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park recently opened six new tent-only campsites in the Atlantic Beach Campground. The sites offer water, a picnic table, fire ring and full restroom facilities within walking distance. The nightly cost is $26 plus tax. Visitors can reserve campsites at Fort Clinch State Park through Reserve America at www.reserveamerica.com or by calling 800-326-3521.
Celebrating life's special moments at Gaylord Hotels
Gaylord Hotels are featuring several getaways to mark some of life's special moments. Among them is the Birthday Getaway, whereby guests who book the first night of their birthday getaway, get the second night free. The offer is valid on select 2012 dates at such properties as the Gaylord Palms in the Orlando/Kissimmee area. Other offers include the Unforgettable Anniversary for couples celebrating an anniversary, and Remember Romance for lovebirds. Christmas at Gaylord Hotels and ICE! with DreamWorks Animation characters including a "Merry Madagascar" theme at Gaylord Palms and Gaylord Texan in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and "Shrek the Halls" at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville and Gaylord National in Washington, D.C., feature packages for those looking for a getaway during the holiday season. Guests seeking a Christmas experience at Gaylord Palms can purchase special "Christmassy DreamWorks Experience" packages starting at $189.99 per room, per night (for a three night stay). Packages include unlimited visits to ICE! and a number of other activities, including a ShrekFeast Interactive Character Meal. ICE! is open daily from Nov. 10 through Jan. 1, including holidays. Ticket prices for ICE! for children start at $9.99, and adult ticket prices start at $18.99. Florida Residents can save $4 per ticket. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.christmasatgaylordpalms.com. For information on packages at Gaylord Palms, visit www.gaylordpalms.com. For details about offers at other Gaylord Hotels properties, visit www.gaylordhotels.com.
Magic in Cocoa Beach
The International Palms Resort and Conference Center in Cocoa Beach is featuring the Magic & Mayhem dinner show every Saturday night. Priced at $19.95 plus tax for adults and $15.95 plus tax for children 12 and under the price includes a BBQ dinner buffet featuring BBQ ribs and chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, potatoes and vegetables. Also included are salad bar, rolls, and assorted desserts, along with iced tea and coffee at the Captain's Grill restaurant and the magic and comedy show by the Magic & Mayhem duo is presented at the adjoining Commander's Club Lounge. Magic & Mayhem have been performing throughout Florida for more than 20 years, including festivals, corporate events, theme parks, and dinner shows in Orlando. The show brings 75 minutes of entertaining skits and magic offering plenty of opportunities for crowd participation for adults and children. The event is every Saturday with dinner from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and the show starting at 7:15 p.m. The resort is at 1300 North Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach. Call 800-206-2747.
American Queen for Mardi Gras
The American Queen Steamboat Company will make its Mardi Gras debut in February to begin its 2013 Lower Mississippi River season. The steamboat will dock in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter, steps away from famed Café Du Monde and a short walk from the revelry of Bourbon Street. Voyages during the month of February 2013 will also showcase Big Band entertainment including the legendary Harry James Orchestra and destination favorites including Natchez, Miss. and Vicksburg, Miss. Among the steamboat's February Lower Mississippi sailings is an eight-night Mardi Gras voyage departing from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn. on Feb. 7 and including an overnight stay onboard the American Queen docked to take in French Quarter festivities. The steamboat will then travel upriver calling on Oak Alley, La.; St. Francisville, La.; Natchez, Miss.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Helena, Ark. Offering an inclusive river cruise experience, American Queen fares begin at $1,395 per person based on double occupancy. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, all shore tours onboard deluxe Steamcoaches in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other amenities. Visit www.AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com.
Giving thanks in Clearwater Beach
Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach is offering a Thanksgiving package, the Thanksgiving "Sandpearl Style" package for guests who book Thursday and Friday, and get Saturday free, with complimentary activities for families including cookie decorating, astronomy night, movies under the stars and other activities. Rates start at $249 per night. Available only November 22-24, 2012. To book visit www.sandpearl.com or call 877-726-3111 and use promotional code THANKFUL.
Or enjoying a Thanksgiving package in Orlando
The Rosen Plaza on International Drive in Orlando is offering guests a money-saving, two-night package for $129 (not including tax or gratuities) to be used anytime between Sunday Nov. 18 and Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. The package includes two nights accommodations for two in a deluxe guest room; breakfast buffet for two at Café Matisse; 25 percent discounts in Café Matisse and Jack's Place restaurants; 25 percent discount on Thanksgiving Grand Buffet on Thursday, Nov. 22; complimentary self-parking; two bottles of spring water upon arrival; additional nights at $69/night plus applicable taxes, based on availability. The package also includes amenities that are always complimentary at Rosen Plaza including complimentary internet/WIFI in guest rooms and public areas; complimentary daily scheduled transportation to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica and Wet 'n Wild (reservations required). Visit www.rosenplaza.com. Additional room nights are available upon request. The rate is based on double occupancy, subject to hotel availability; tax and gratuity are extra. This offer cannot be combined with other promotions or offers or for group rates.
Fall escape for couples at 18 hotels
Fall Escape is a promotion for couples available at 18 romantic hotels, including Florida locations from Orlando to Miami and Sanibel Island to Fort Lauderdale, a resort in Jamaica, and city hotels in New York and Boston. The offer includes the best available rate with a minimum two-night consecutive stay and a minimum $50 hotel credit or more (offer varies by property) for travel now through Dec. 15. Among participating Florida properties are the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando from $99 per night (guests receive a wine amenity at check-in, $75 dinner for two, and spa discount). Other participating Florida properties include the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach – A DoubleTree by Hilton from $114 per night (guests receive a $50 hotel credit); and the Hyatt Regency Sarasota from $149 per night (guests receive a wine amenity at check-in, and $75 dinner for two). For more information and terms and conditions, visit www.LuxuryResorts.com/FallEscape.
Coupon book at St. Augustine resort
Travelers considering visiting Jacksonville/St. Augustine now have more incentive as The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club is providing a "Discover More" coupon book with more than $500 in savings for stays at the resort through Dec. 30. Rates at the AAA Four-Diamond resort start at $129 per room, per night, plus tax from Nov. 1-30. The "Discover More" coupon book features discounts at the World Golf Hall of Fame, the PGA TOUR Golf Academy, The Resort Shop, PGA TOUR Stop, the World Golf Hall of Fame's IMAX 3D Theater, the resort's Villagio Italian Grille, the St. Augustine Premium Outlets, the Old Town Trolley Tour, Sea Love Charters deep sea fishing, in-room movies, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, the Oldest Store Museum, and Ripley's Sightseeing Trains. Additionally, the coupon book features discounts on food & beverage, merchandise and club rentals at the resort's King & Bear and Slammer & Squire championship golf courses, plus a suite upgrade on a future stay at the resort. The coupon book will be provided upon check-in. Visit www.renwgv.com.
Small-ship Caribbean cruise
Princess Cruises is featuring a new, unique, 10-day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the 680-passenger Pacific Princess sailing on Jan. 17. Ports of call include Tortola, St. Barthelemy, Antigua, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. The ship travels the globe and rarely offers a Caribbean cruise, but because the line is rescheduling the ship's dry-dock there is an opportunity for this one-time Caribbean cruise before sailing on her yearly world cruise. Fares for the Pacific Princess Eastern Caribbean cruise begin at $899 per person, double. Visit www.princess.com.
New ships ordered
Carnival has announced it has reached an agreement for the construction of two new cruise ships – a 99,000-ton ship for its Holland America Line brand and a 135,000-ton vessel for its Carnival Cruise Lines brand. A memorandum of agreement has been signed with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of a 2,660-passenger ship for Holland America Line scheduled for delivery in fall 2015 and a 4,000-passenger ship for Carnival Cruise Lines scheduled for delivery in winter 2016. The total cost for the two vessels combined, which includes the U.S. dollar denominated contract price and all owner's costs, will be approximately $195,000 per lower berth. The memorandum of agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including execution of shipbuilding contracts and financing. The Holland America ship, which will be a new class of vessel for the line, will enter service five years after the last Holland America ship, the ms Nieuw Amsterdam, delivered in 2010. The Carnival Cruise Lines vessel, also a new class of ship, will be launched four years after the introduction of Carnival Breeze, which debuted in spring 2012. The timing of capacity additions for these brands is similar to the five-year span between upcoming new ship introductions for both Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises (UK), as previously announced. Including the newbuilds recently announced, Carnival Corporation & plc currently has nine new ships scheduled for delivery – two for 2013, two for 2014, three for 2015 and two for 2016. For details on Carnival, visit www.carnival.com; for Holland America, visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Cruise line's website available in español
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the company's North American website and booking engine is now available in a Spanish language version. Approximately 35 million residents in the United States speak Spanish as their native language and it is the world's third most commonly used language on the Internet. Therefore, the launch of the Spanish language version of ncl.com reinforces Norwegian's commitment to this audience by making it easier for Spanish-speaking guests to make a Norwegian cruise reservation. The new version of the site features the same key elements as ncl.com, including ship and destination content, booking engine and online check-in. The new site also features a toll-free number that connects Spanish-speaking callers to Spanish-speaking cruise representatives so that guests can make cruise reservations and have questions answered in their preferred language. To develop the Spanish-language site, Norwegian partnered with South Florida-based MotionPoint Corporation, a company that specializes in website translation and localization for large consumer brands. Spanish speaking guests can access the new Spanish version of the line's website directly at www.es.ncl.com or by clicking the "ncl.com en español" link on the www.ncl.com homepage.
On Virgin Gorda it's: tennis, anyone?
Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, B.V.I. will host the Legends Tennis Camp featuring clinics with legendary doubles brothers Luke and Murphy Jensen, courtside seats to see former Grand Slam Champions, and a celebratory dinner and auction hosted by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson to benefit charity. All of the above and elegantly appointed accommodations will be served up Dec. 9-13. Offered by Rosewood Little Dix Bay in partnership with Necker Island and Premier Tennis Travel, the camp will feature three days of hands-on clinics for program participants at the resort's tennis complex. Legends Tennis Camp will also feature a Pro Tennis Exhibition with current and former Grand Slam champions engaged in play at the Rosewood Little Dix Bay. Courtside seats and complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be included. Afterwards, guests can mix and mingle with Sir Richard, Necker Cup professionals and exhibition participants at an "End of the World" dinner party, with live music, dancing, guest musicians and a charitable auction. Top tennis experiences, memorabilia and travel packages will be on the block with proceeds going to various charities. The Legends Tennis Camp program includes four nights accommodations at Rosewood Little Dix Bay; three tennis clinics; two tennis mixers; two courtside seats to the Pro Tennis Exhibition; two guest invitations to the "End of the World" dinner party and auction; breakfast, lunch and dinner served at resort restaurants; beverages, cocktails and house wine (based on 2 guests, excludes premium alcohol, wine list and sparkling wines); roundtrip transfers from Tortola or Virgin Gorda Airport; tax and resort fee. Rates are from $4,350 per person based on double occupancy. Visit www.littledixbay.com.
Amelia Island fall special
Guests at the Amelia Island Hampton Inn at the Beach can enjoy a Fall Back Special rate of $89 (plus tax). The offer, which is valid through Jan. 31, is based on availability and not valid during special events. Guests must book by calling the hotel direct at 904- 321-1111 and mention the Fall Back Special. Offer is based on availability and restrictions and black out dates apply. Cannot be combined with any other discount.
New adventures for 2013
Adventures By Disney has unveiled some new adventures for 2013. Among the programs is a seven-day Costa Rica Coast To Coast visiting San Jose, Tortuguero, Arenal National Park, Guanacaste and Liberia. Highlights include zip-lining above the treetops in the rainforest and white-water rafting, Departures are scheduled throughout the year. Other new programs include day excursions in Southern California and Hawaii. Visit www.adventuresbydisney.com.
Beach club package
The "Serenata Beach Club Package" being offered by The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club in Jacksonville/St. Augustine, provides a two-night stay at the Northeast Florida resort, privileges at the private oceanfront Serenata Beach Club; a beach amenity upon arrival; a $50 food & beverage credit at Serenata Beach Club; a complimentary shuttle to and from Serenata Beach Club; a Serenata souvenir upon departure; and a complimentary shuttle for individual guests (based on availability) to and from historic downtown St. Augustine. The "Serenata Beach Club Package" starts at $343 plus tax, and is available through Dec. 31, 2012, based on availability. Visit www.renwgv.com, and reference promotional code V2X. The offer is not available to groups of 10 or more rooms, and cannot be combined with any other promotions. Blackout dates may apply, and a limited number of rooms are available for this promotion. Advance reservations are required, and note that Serenata Beach Club is closed on Mondays.
Remembering Garbo at sea
In conjunction with Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills, Cunard Line will offer guests the opportunity to view and purchase rarely seen items of actress Greta Garbo during Queen Mary 2’s Nov. 20 Transatlantic crossing. Additionally, during the voyage, Garbo’s great nephew, Derek Reisfield, will headline Cunard's on board enrichment program, Cunard Insights, where he will provide a personal account of her life and iconic Hollywood career. Hailed as Hollywood’s "First Modern Woman," Garbo’s appeal spans the eras of both silent and talking films. Regarded for her striking beauty and style, the four-time Academy Award nominee is best known for her classic roles in "Anna Karenina," "The Temptress," "The Kiss" and "Grand Hotel." The on board auction and display will give guests an exclusive preview of Julien’s December Garbo auction event in Beverly Hills, and will feature several of her most photographed belongings, including her iconic cashmere turtleneck and vintage umbrella, used to shield herself from paparazzi. Relics from Garbo's world travels, including her vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase, travel watch and a luggage tag bearing her travel alias, will also be on display for guests’ viewing pleasure. Visit www.cunard.com.
Entertainer of the year cruise
Princess Cruises has scheduled its second Entertainer of the Year cruise. Passengers aboard the Feb. 9-16 Valentine’s Day cruise on the Crown Princess sailing the Western Caribbean will cast their ballots for their favorite candidate from four finalists. To narrow down the field in advance of the cruise, the Princess Cruises entertainment team will select the four top finalists. Finalists will be announced on Princess’ Facebook page along with video clips so fans can see the entertainers who are up for the award. Aboard the Entertainer of the Year cruise, passengers will be able to see live performances from each finalist and then cast their ballot for their favorite. The winner will be announced on the final night of the cruise at a special party. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and will hold the title of "2012 Princess Cruises Entertainer of the Year." Visit www.princess.com.
Inn renovation and expansion in Naples
The 87-room Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples has undertaken a $1.7 million exterior and interior renovation project this fall including new custom-made furniture in guest rooms along with custom artwork fresh paint, crown molding, custom carpet and more. The inn has also undertaken a new $16 million expansion project, which includes the addition of 32 Club Level Suites and meeting space in a new, three-story, 40,000-square-foot building directly across Fifth Avenue from the inn's location. The expansion is slated to be completed in December. Visit www.innonfifth.com.
Caribbean, Mediterranean fall, winter cruises deals
Costa Cruises is offering special deals on fall and winter sailings in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, including new rates on seven- to 11-day cruises with fares from $75 per person per day on balcony staterooms on select sailings through December. Among the offerings are Costa Mediterranea 10-night Caribbean sailings from Miami featuring balcony accommodations from $75 per person per day. Eastern Mediterranean cruises from seven to 11 days start at $899 for a stateroom with balcony, while western Mediterranean balcony accommodations start at $799. On select Mediterranean sailings, kids sail free when sailing as a third or fourth passenger in a stateroom. Visit www.costacruises.com.
Delray Beach accolades
A two-time winner of the All-America City award (1993 and 2001), Delray Beach was named Most Fun Small Town in the USA by Rand McNally, USA Today and the Travel Channel on a nationally televised special, Best of the Road this summer. Delray's Atlantic Avenue, which runs through the center of town from I-95 to the ocean, is reportedly the longest Main Street in Florida. Atlantic Avenue is filled with shops, restaurants and nightly entertainment. The downtown holds such family-friendly festivals as the Delray Affair and Delray Beach Garlic Fest and for the holidays, a 100-foot Christmas Tree, where visitors can walk inside to see animated displays. Delray Beach's art scene includes more than 20 galleries and public art pieces. A variety of accommodations include Sundy House Restaurant and Inn (www.sundyhouse.com); Crane's Beach House Hotel & Tiki Bar (www.cranesbeachhouse.com); The Colony Hotel & Cabana Club (www.thecolonyhotel.com/florida) and the Delray Beach Marriott and Residence Inn Marriott (www.Marriottdelraybeach.com). Visit www.godelray.com.
In conjunction with CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.'s 20th and 30th anniversaries, the sister brands as part of World Travel Holdings – one of the nation's top travel retail networks – recently unveiled revamped websites with new interactive features for an improved online experience. Featuring a more visually appealing design, the sites now offer an enhanced "Cruise Finder" dynamic search tool, a new shopping process and the creative display of cruise line and resort promotions. Visit www.CruiseOne.com or www.CruisesInc.com. For information on becoming part of Cruise One or Cruises Inc., log on to www.CruiseOneFranchise.com and www.SellCruises.com.
Vacation rental villas
Villas of Distinction is a luxury villa provider that has helped travelers find their vacation home for more than 20 years. The company represents thousands of privately owned villas in more than 50 destinations around the world, including 19 Caribbean destinations. Most of the villas feature private pools, butlers, maids and chefs. The company has received multiple accolades including Condé Nast Traveler's Readers Travel Awards' 2010 Favorite Villa Company. Visit www.VillasofDistinction.com.
Extra sprinkle of pixie dust
Guests will find an extra sprinkle of pixie dust each week when they visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts next year, Disney officials announced recently as they unveiled Limited Time Magic: 52 weeks of magical experiences big and small that appear, then disappear as the next special surprise debuts. Among the special experiences: an Independence Day celebration that lasts an entire week; Main Street mainstays the Dapper Dans rocking out with boy band hits in barbershop style; a Friday the 13th dance party with Disney villains that lasts to the 13th hour; a Valentine's Day in 2013 that becomes Valentine's Week with Disney castles blushing pink, surprise meet-and-greets with Disney princes and princesses, and candlelit dinners for couples in love. These and many more experiences will roll out each week in 2013 –for a limited time only. Visit www.disneyparks.com.
For foodies in Fort Lauderdale
Hosted by "Ambassador of Flavor" Chef Allen Susser, Flavors of Fort Lauderdale will feature a lineup of interactive tastings, themed pavilions, parties and dining experiences on Nov. 8-11. Tickets are $79 per person. Visit www.FlavorsofFortLauderdale.com. Grand Tasting access and tickets for other Flavors of Fort Lauderdale weekend events must be purchased separately; must be over 21 to attend.
Club Med early booking rates and kids' free offer for 2013 vacations
Club Med is now offering early booking rates and free stays for kids under four starting with summer 2013 vacations. Families who book by Oct. 29 for travel April 27-Oct. 26, 2013, can enjoy all-inclusive seven-night vacations starting at $749 per person, to resorts in Florida, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, the Caribbean, Martinique or the Bahamas. Price is per person, based on double occupancy in a minimum category room and requires a three-night minimum stay (seven-night minimum for Columbus Isle). Offer available at select resorts and does not include airfare. Valid for new individual bookings only for select travel dates between April 27 to Oct. 26, 2013 and must be booked by Oct. 29. The offer is subject to capacity control and may increase at any time. Holiday blackouts apply. For Turkoise all guests must be 18 and older. Club Med membership
fees of $60 per adult and $30 per child are additional. Other restrictions apply including brochure terms and cancellation/change
fees. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Visit www.clubmed.us.
New spa features for Royal Princess
Princess Cruises has announced details of the expanded Lotus Spa aboard its new Royal Princess, including a new location just off the atrium – a convenient stop for passengers enjoying a treatment before or after the many activities and dining options nearby. When the ship debuts next June, cruisers will find more treatment rooms than any other Princess spa. New features will include private Couples Villas and The Enclave – a thermal suite that is triple the size of any existing Lotus Spa. Here passengers will also find new options such as the Hammam (a Turkish-style steam room), the Caldarium (an herbal steam room), the Laconium (a dry heat sauna) and the line's first-ever hydrotherapy pool. Visit www.princess.com/royalprincessactivities. The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises. Among the features found on board will be a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. The ship's 2013 maiden season will include cruises on the line's signature Grand Mediterranean itinerary throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the fall. More information and video previews of the ship are available at www.princess.com/royalprincess.
Half off the half shell oysters in Orlando
Ocean Prime is featuring "Half off the Half Shell Oyster Wednesdays." Guests in the Blu Lounge piano bar area can buy a half dozen fresh oysters from the raw bar for $9 on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 28. Visit www.oceanprimeorlando.com.
Kids' meals at sea
MSC Cruises has introduced Happy Dinners whereby children are served dinner from the kids' menu while parents enjoy their opening courses – so everyone can dine together as a family. When the children have finished, they no longer have to wait patiently for the adults to finish but they are picked up by Kids' Club staff members to have fun with friends their age, leaving parents to leisurely savor the different courses. For kids who relish their independence and love the freedom of eating with their friends, away from the grownups, MSC Fun Time Dinners allow children to dine in a separate, specially decorated area of the ship's buffet restaurant with the entertainment team, and then have fun in the Mini and Junior Club while parents enjoy a leisurely dinner alone, picking up the kids when they've finished. Each night, children ages 3-11 can eat together with the entertainment team and their new friends. Three of these nights are theme parties - a Welcome Party, Italian Party, and Farewell and Birthday Party. Both the MSC Happy Dinners and the MSC Fun Time Dinner services are now available free on all MSC ships. Parents need to register their children in advance with the Mini or Junior Club and complete the special "dinner coupons". Visit www.msccruisesusa.com.
Get up, stand up in Jupiter
The Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa is taking stand-up paddleboarding to the next level with the Get Up, Stand Up package. Guests can paddleboard just steps from the resort amid the mangroves of the Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserve and capture the adventure on film with a waterproof professional GoPro camera mounted to their paddleboard. Rates for the package start at $248 per night, based on double occupancy, and include accommodations, breakfast for two, daily, $80 voucher to use at Jupiter Outdoor Center for paddleboard or kayak rental (9 a.m. -- 6 p.m., daily), and GoPro camera rental. The package is valid for travel through Dec. 30. Promotional code is GUSU. Visit www.jupiterbeachresort.com.
For sweet dreams at sea
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea has debuted Pratesi custom-made bed linens on the Silver Spirit in September, to be followed by the Silver Cloud in November and the rest of its fleet in 2013. Renowned for creating linens for the Italian and European aristocracy, Pratesi’s new bedding collection for Silversea features 240 thread count, 100 percent Egyptian cotton satin sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers. The collection complements the line’s other sleep amenities including a memory pillow top and dual-side mattress that can be flipped to provide either soft or firm support, a down duvet, and a pillow menu offering nine different pillow options, from soft down to memory foam, and chamomile or lavender aromatherapy pillow covers. Visit www.silversea.com.
Fall steamboating on the Upper Mississippi River
The American Queen steamboat is featuring fall journeys that stop at many historic river towns including Mark Twain’s Hannibal, Mo. And showcase the stretch of the Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Paul, Minn. Among the voyages are seven-night Fall Colors departures from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn. visiting Hannibal, Mo.; Dubuque, Iowa; LaCrosse, Minn., and Red Wing, Minn. on Oct. 12 and 29. Voyages embarking from St. Paul, Minn. to St. Louis include departures on Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 and call at Red Wing, Minn.; La Crosse, Minn.; Dubuque, Iowa; Davenport, Iowa; Burlington, Iowa; and Hannibal, Mo. Fares begin at $1,995 per person, double, and include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, all shore tours onboard deluxe Steamcoaches in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other amenities. A special three-night St. Paul, Minn. roundtrip voyage is scheduled on Oct. 19 with stops in Red Wing, Minn. and Lake Pepin, Minn. Fares begin at $995 per person based on double occupancy. Single cabin fares are available on all itineraries. Special Free Airfare and Back-to-Back voyage savings are available on select departures. Visit www.AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com.
Miami Heat packages at Kimpton’s hotels
Kimpton’s two Miami hotels -- EPIC in Downtown Miami, and Surfcomber Miami, South Beach -- are offering Miami Heat fans 20 percent off best available rates plus perks starting Oct. 30 just in time for opening night. Centrally located in downtown Miami, the Epic is within walking distance from the American Airlines; the Surfcomber Miami is a short car ride away. At the Epic, with rates starting at $249 per night, the Miami Heat Package is available now through April 30, for booking and travel, and includes 20 percent off best available guestroom or suite rate; complimentary appetizer at Area 31 with purchase of entrée (pre- or post-game); one continental breakfast for two; 20 percent off spa services at Exhale and perks that include complimentary access to the hotel’s fitness center, WiFi when guests sign up to become a Kimpton In Touch member and nightly hosted wine hour in the living room. Visit www.epichotel.com. At the Surfcomber Miami, with rates starting at $199 per night, the Miami Heat Package is available now through April 30, for booking and travel, and offers guests 20 percent off best available rate; bucket of beers upon arrival; complimentary appetizer at Lantao Kitchen plus Cocktails with purchase of entrée (pre- or post-game); inclusive perks with complimentary access to the hotel’s fitness center, WiFi when guests sign up to become a Kimpton In Touch member and nightly hosted wine hour in the living room. Visit www.surfcomber.com.
For adventure lovers on St. Kitts
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort is featuring the Escape Attraction Package that offers savings on adrenaline pumping island activities.
Available for travel through December, the package includes accommodations in a garden view room, island tour for two per room, plus the opportunity to hike to the top of a dormant volcano, zip-line through the rainforest, and explore the island’s cultural sites ($200 credit per room toward tours of choice). Also included are daily breakfast buffet for two and welcome gift delivered to room upon arrival. Rates start at $264 per night based on double occupancy.
Visit www.stkittsmarriott.com and use promotional code ARN when making a reservation.
Military discount in Orlando
Active or retired member of the U.S. military, including United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists, can take advantage of the U.S. Military Discount that is being offered by the seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels in Orlando. This consortium of seven hotels in the Walt Disney World Resort is providing a room rate discount of up to 20 percent at the member hotels to active and retired members of the U.S. military. The Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels (www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com) consists of the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Downtown, Royal Plaza Hotel and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. Valid through Dec. 20, the U.S. Military Discount is available by visiting www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com/deals/promotions. Guests must book directly at the site, and must show appropriate supporting ID upon check-in. The offer is based on availability, and restrictions and blackout dates may apply. The discount is not valid with any other offer.
Golf package in Anguilla
The CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla is offering a five-night Tee Up & Revive package which includes use of three night-lit tennis courts, five nights, six days accommodations in beachfront suite, three rounds of golf, two 50-minute spa treatments or couples massage, lunch for two at Café Mediterraneo, dinner for two or theme dinner at Le Bistro at Santorini, daily breakfast at Café Mediterraneo or in-room continental breakfast, airport and ferry meet-and-greet service, use of non-motorized water sports, complimentary use of health club, scheduled fitness classes. Rates begin at $3,130 based on double occupancy. The “Tee Up & Revive” package applies to new bookings only and cannot be used with any other promotions. Blackout dates apply and promotion is subject to change. Offer valid through Dec. 19. Visit www.cuisinartresort.com. To reserve tee-times, please contact 264-498-5602.
Trip insurance website updated
TripInsurance.com has updated its website to help travelers find the trip insurance coverage that ideally suits their travel needs and give them more support while they are on the road. This website now provides a way to compare travel insurance coverage and save money when buying the right coverage. It features improved, easier-to-understand quote results that simplify the comparison of insurance plan options and provides side-by-side comparisons of plans grouped by Good, Better, and Best options. Options include a review of each plan that lists the pros and cons for each coverage package as well as comparative pricing. A popup window provides details about each option, including trip cancellation coverage, trip interruption coverage, cancel for any reason, medical expense coverage, medical evacuation coverage, non-medical evacuation coverage, accidental death and dismemberment, and more. In addition, instant price quotes are provided based on criteria such as age, dates of travel, and state of residence. Visit www.TripInsurance.com.
Ending 2012 on the right foot on Panama City Beach
On Dec. 30, Panama City Beach visitors and locals can hit the ground running and put New Year’s resolutions into motion at the inaugural The Biggest Loser Half Marathon and 5K RunWalk. The destination has partnered with Dan and Jackie Evans, season five contestants on NBC’s "The Biggest Loser," to offer the RunWalk as a non-intimidating environment for all participants, with longer course time limits to allow walkers to complete the race at their own pace. The Biggest Loser Half Marathon and 5K RunWalk is licensed through the NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group and Shine America. Participants can celebrate the completion of the RunWalk at Panama City Beach’s Fifth Annual Beach Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve. This yearly tradition takes place in the 1.1 million-square-foot outdoor lifestyle center Pier Park, during which an 800-pound glowing beach ball descends to signify the New Year. Earlier in the evening a family ball drop, consisting of 10,000 inflatable beach balls dropped from the sky, and a fireworks display is held. For information on The Biggest Loser RunWalk, or Beach Ball Drop, log on to www.visitpanamacitybeach.com.
For young explorers
Here are some travel-related ideas for games and books for youngsters on your holiday gift list:
-- DestiNation USA (MindWare, $19.95, recommended for ages 8 and up). State by state, this game makes learning about U.S. geography and social studies fun as it highlights important landmarks, historical sites and capital cities that are encountered as players drive their token cars around the continental United States. The goal is to earn the most points possible by gathering state chips (one point) and destination cards (three points) along the way. As long as travelers have playable cards, their turn continues. "Cruise Control," "Alternate Route" and "Fly" cards add twists and turns to the journey. Visit www.mindware.com.
-- Also from MindWare, Color Chart: United States ($14.95, recommended for ages 6 and older) is an interactive foldout coloring map and kit featuring state facts, brainteasers and a picture hunt that help kids develop a deeper understanding of the states within our nation. Includes a 40" x 28" foldout U.S. map, activity booklet and 12 markers. And Extreme Dot To Dot Around The U.S.A. and Extreme Dot To Dot Around The World ($8.95 each, recommended for ages 8 and up) feature puzzles ranging from 500 to 1,400 dots – some covering a two-page spread. Visit www.mindware.com.
-- National Geographic Archaeology Kit: Egyptian Pyramid ($24.95, recommended for ages 8 and up) challenges children to become archaeologists and explore a pyramid model and the treasures within. In their quest, children use hieroglyphics to unlock the pyramid’s secret and tools similar to those used by real archaeologists on the field to carefully excavate a sarcophagus with a model mummy preserved inside, death mask and four urns. Visit www.NGstore.com.
-- The Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan (Disney Hyperion) follows the adventures of Carter Kane and his sister Sadie, who have been in trouble since the gods of ancient Egypt were unleashed on the modern world. Books in The Kane Chronicles series by Riordan, who is the author of the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, include "The Red Pyramid" ($17.99); "The Throne of Fire" ($18.99) and "The Serpent’s Shadow" ($19.99) and are recommended for children ages 10 and up. Visit www.disney.go.com/books.
Free performance of La Nouba in Orlando
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil has partnered with Creative City Project to present a free lunchtime performance featuring more than 30 minutes of live music and acts. The performance is at the Orlando City Hall Plaza, 400 South Orange Avenue at noon on Oct. 26. Visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/lanouba. Also of interest, Cirque du Soleil is offering $50 Florida resident tickets for La Nouba performances at its theater in Downtown Disney in Orlando Tuesday – Saturday through Dec. 14. Proof of residency and advance purchase is required. For information on Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.
For the undecided in Fort Lauderdale
The Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale is rallying vacation activists to "pac" a suitcase and stand behind an unparalleled travel platform—with a politically themed vacation offer presented through Election Day. The hotel’s "Election Stay" travel deal —based on a three-night stay and available through Nov. 6 —includes a special discount—57 percent off—the third night, in honor of the 57th presidential election; two complimentary, all-American themed welcome cocktails; $25 food and beverage credit for guests who show their voter’s registration card upon check in (limited to one per room); plus an opportunity to "Vote for Riverside" by entering contact information into the property’s very own ballot box for a chance win a complimentary two-night stay (Guests to receive a customized "I Voted" sticker for their participation. Winner will be selected and announced on Facebook.com/RiversideHotelFL on Nov. 6). Visit www.riversidehotel.com, enter your travel dates and then select the offer. The offer is valid through Nov. 6. Blackout dates of October 24-27, and other restrictions may apply. Offer applies to new reservations only and is subject to availability. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotions. Hotel cancellation policies apply.
Ghostly goings on for kids in St. Augustine
Ghost Tours of St. Augustine presents A Children’s Halloween With Mother Goosebumps on Oct. 26-27. A milder version of Ghost Tours of St. Augustine’s walking ghost tour, this program provides goodies for each participant and the little ones are invited to come in costume. The tour is suggested for ages 2 to 7. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tours depart from 2 St. George Street at 5, 6, and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5. For information, visit http://www.ghosttoursofstaugustine.com.
Sea views even while showering
The "Reflection Suite" on Celebrity Cruises’ new Celebrity Reflection features an all-glass shower extending out over the edge of the ship. The shower has a special reflective glass to ensure privacy. The 1,636-square-foot Reflection Suite with 194-square-foot veranda is the line’s first two-bedroom suite, complete with sea-view bathroom with rain shower and other amenities including round-the-clock butler service. Visit www.celebritycruises.com.
Hotel renovation in Jacksonville
Candlewood Suites on Belfort Road underwent a four-phase, $1.8 million renovation this summer including upgrade of all guest suites with new carpets, cabinetry and stoves in the kitchen and new tubs and flooring in the bathrooms. Visit www.candlewoodsuites.com/jacksonvillefl.
Wine cruises in 2013
Food & Wine Trails has announced their 2013 wine cruise series with 11 programs hosted by California wineries and one hosted by an Italian winery. Wineries include V. Sattui Winery, Martinelli Vineyards & Winery traveling with Foxen Winery, Mira Winery traveling with Ideology Cellars, Ramey Wine Cellars, Domaine Chandon, Sojourn Cellars, Duckhorn Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grigch Hills Estate and Cameron Hughes Wine. These cruises sail the Mediterranean between April and October. All Food and Wine Trails' cruises include a private onboard wine program, and extras such as free or included gratuities, a $100 early-booking shipboard credit and discounted or free airfare from the US to Europe. Each cruise is held on a small to mid-size Oceania Cruises or Azamara Club Cruises ship, and is hosted by winemakers or winery principals. Stateroom prices for Food & Wine Trails' 2013 wine cruises start at $1985 per person (double occupancy) with departures from April 21 through Oct. 11. Visit www.foodandwinetrails.com.
Chilling out in Antigua
Carlisle Bay in Antigua is featuring a Super Chill Out promotion with inclusive seasonal rates and free accommodations for kids under 15. This new offer also allows guests who book their stay more than 30 days in advance to receive a further 15 percent off rates. Available Oct. 13 – Dec. 20, Carlisle Bay’s Super Chill Out offer is for minimum three-night stays and includes suite accommodations, meals, beverages (excluding premium wines and spirits) and amenities and activities for the entire family. Additionally, the Super Chill Out offer includes a special three-course lunch at restaurants Indigo on the Beach or Ottimo!, a new poolside Italian venue serving traditional Italian fare and pizza prepared in a wood-burning oven; and one three-course dinner at the hotel’s Indigo on the Beach, Ottimo! or East restaurants. Guests will also enjoy daily afternoon tea and a roster of activities including Hobi cat sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, tennis on nine courts (including a beginners’ tennis clinic and round robin doubles competition), guided rainforest hikes, access to the hotel’s 900-square-foot gym and films in the hotel’s Screening Room. The Super Chill Out promotion also sets the stage for an unforgettable family escape, with free accommodations for children 15 and younger, and 50 percent off Ocean Suite rates for teenagers and adults under 21. Carlisle Bay ensures fun for the whole family with specialized programs available during school holidays for different age groups, including the Cool Kids Club for children aged 2-6, Crew Blue activity program for kids 7-12 years old, and a Crush program designed for teens aged 13-18. Complimentary rates and discount are available for separate room or suite for guests staying with two adults. Rates per suite, per night based on double occupancy for a minimum three-night stay start at $695 for a Garden Suite (not including Early Booking Discount, 10 percent service charge and 12.5 percent government tax). Visit www.campbellgrayhotels.com. Rates not available during Carlisle Bay’s annual closure from Aug. 25 to Oct. 12 and are subject to change. Offer cannot be combined with other offers or promotions. Ocean and Garden Suites are not suitable for families with children under 12 years old.
Shopping getaway package in Naples
Waldorf Astoria Naples is offering a Platinum Shopping Package with a shopping card. With rates start starting at $139 per night, the Platinum Shopping Package includes a Platinum Shopping Card from the nearby Waterside Shops, a collection of more than 60 shops and restaurants including Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and anchored by Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. With the Platinum Shopping Package guests can also enjoy the following complimentary options: Shop. Dine. Save. Booklet, featuring rotating discounts and offers valid at various stores; one appetizer from any restaurant located at the Waterside Shops; small ice cream from Haagen-Dazs; coffee from Starbucks; gift wrapping; bottle of water; package check, where the management office will hold your bags while you shop; cocktails for two at The Bar; complimentary upgrade per availability at check-in. The Platinum Shopping Package is available for booking and travel year-round and is subject to availability. Visit www.WaldorfAstoriaNaples.com.
Upper deck features announced for new ship
Princess Cruises has unveiled details about the outdoor entertainment features that will be found on the top deck of the new Royal Princess, including the SeaWalk, the pool areas, an evening light show and a 30 percent larger Movies Under the Stars poolside theater. The SeaWalk extends 28 feet beyond the starboard side of the ship, is 60 feet long, hovers 128 feet above the ocean, and has a glass-bottomed walkway. Adjacent to the SeaWalk a host of lounging options, beautiful palm trees, and two fresh water pools flank an island area between them. A Water and Light Show will be presented at night with the island area between the two pools becoming a stage showcasing an interactive sound and light show featuring dancing fountains. With a sophisticated lighting and sound system, and a computerized fountain featuring 85 water jets, passengers will see streams of water shoot 33 feet into the night sky. Princess’ signature poolside theater will feature a 30 percent larger screen for wide-screen viewing, coupled with a high-tech visual and audio system. Passengers can enjoy movies, sporting events, and concerts while relaxing on a comfortable chaise lounge, complete with pillow, blanket, and free popcorn. On select evenings, the island will be transformed into an outdoor dance floor and will play host to the popular Ultimate Deck Party. Perched two decks up on a special balcony, a DJ will get the crowd moving with an energetic music mix. The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises. The ship’s 2013 maiden season will include cruises on the line’s signature Grand Mediterranean itinerary throughout the summer, followed by Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the fall. Visit www.princess.com/royalprincess.
Celebrating a special occasion in Key West
Boca Raton-based Aura Jets (the charter arm of Galaxy Aviation) has partnered with Latitudes on Sunset Key, located just off Key West, to make the Gulf-front restaurant’s dining experience accessible to bon vivants throughout Florida. With Aura’s nightly jet service, with one simple reservation, guests can book dinner at Latitudes and a round-trip same-day private champagne flight from most any airport in Florida to Key West. A car and driver greet guests at Key West International Airport and expedite transportation to the restaurant at Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort. Reservations include the best table at the restaurant, perched on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, and a dedicated attendant to orchestrate the entire dining experience. Jet Set Dining reservations are available to parties of two to six, require 24 hours notice and are subject to availability. Price begins at $5,000. Call 800-840-1995 for reservations. For information, visit www.westinsunsetkeycottages.com/latitudes-restaurant and www.aurajets.com.
Key Largo package
The Key Largo Bay Marriott Resort is featuring a Glass Bottom Boat Package that includes breakfast for two daily at Gus’ Grille, and two Key Largo Princess tickets for the glass bottom boat experience. The package is valid through Dec. 8. Rates start at $219. Visit www.marriott.com.
New cruise brochure issued
Princess Cruises has published its Europe brochure for 2013. Highlights include the launch of the new Royal Princess that will debut with a schedule of Mediterranean cruises. The brochure includes a summary of the ship’s features as well as the itineraries available during the maiden season. Information on European cruises offered by seven Princess ships on 60 itineraries (124 departures between April and December) is featured.
Information on shore excursions and a "How To Plan Your Cruise In 10 Easy Steps" section is included. The brochures are available from travel agents or online. A digital version is at http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/princess/europe2013/.
Presidential pampering in Palm Beach
The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club is offering "Presidential Pampering" in Palm Beach, available now through Nov. 30, 2012, starting at $2,159/night.
The program includes luxury accommodations; "Patriotic" chocolate dipped strawberries; "Motorcade" transportation; In-room cocktails or mocktails; Palm Beach Post delivered daily; copy of Mitt Romney’s "No Apology" or Barack Obama’s "Audacity of Hope;" facial at The Frederick Fekkai Salon and Spa. Rate quoted is the starting rate and there is a two-night minimum. Must be booked at least 14 days in advance, one-night non-refundable deposit. Cancellation policy is 14 days prior to arrival to avoid 100 percent charge. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Specials at hotel and water resort in Orlando
CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando is offering a variety of discounts between now and Dec. 25. Among the specials, grandparents and their grandchildren receive 25 percent off the best available rate and kids 6 and under eat free with each adult entree. Proof of age 50+ required at check-in. Promo code GRAND12 when booking. Other offers include one for active and retired military personnel who receive a special rate of $69 a night plus tax. Military ID card required at check-in. Visit www.cocokeyorlando.com.
Last Key special
The Westin Key West Resort & Marina is featuring a special: Guests who stay one night receive 40 percent off the next night. Guests must check in Saturday through Wednesday for stays now through Dec. 20. A minimum stay of three nights is required. Rate plan ZB4. Blackout dates and other restrictions apply. Visit www.westin.com.
Cruising from South Florida? Package extends vacation
The Park and Cruise Package at the Hollywood Beach Marriott is a way to extend a vacation in Hollywood, letting you unwind before or after your cruise. The package includes overnight accommodations, breakfast for two, and complimentary covered parking while you are on the cruise. Rates are from $129 and the package is valid through Oct. 31. Promotional code is PCJ. Visit www.marriott.com.
Florida residents special in Palm Beach
Florida residents can book a studio or suite at a discounted rate at The Brazilian Court in Palm Beach. Florida Residents enjoy up to $30 off the daily rate and complimentary valet parking. Florida ID is required at check in and there is a two rooms maximum per Florida ID. The offer is valid for stays until Oct. 31 and is subject to availability. Restrictions may apply, and Florida ID required at check in to qualify for discount; taxes not included. Call 800-552-0335 or 561-655-7740 to book. For hotel information, visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
SeaWorld Orlando and the Miami Dolphins
SeaWorld Orlando and the Miami Dolphins have announced a multi-year marketing agreement. "SeaWorld, Where the Dolphins Play!" is the tagline for the integrated campaign involving a season-long sweepstakes and special deals for Florida residents. The face of the campaign is former linebacker Jason Taylor, who will be inducted into the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll on Oct. 14. Vignettes will feature him and his family enjoying SeaWorld. Elements of the agreement include the SeaWorld Football Family of the Year, a sweepstakes that kicked off on Sept. 21 and will continue through Dec. 31. Fans can register at www.Dolphins.com/SeaWorld to win a grand prize three-day, two-night SeaWorld and Aquatica weekend getaway plus four tickets to all 2013 regular season Miami Dolphins home games. The Game Day Advantage offers Florida resident deals at SeaWorld for Miami Dolphins fans and will be featured in radio, digital and TV throughout key Florida markets as well as in-stadium.
New kids’ menu in Bonaventure
Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center and Spa recently introduced a new menu, "For Kids By Kids," which provides more nutritious, fresh and interactive offerings for children. The menu has been developed in association with the Partnership for a Healthier America. As part of the roll out, separate from the PHA commitment, Hyatt Regency Bonaventure will also offer a three-course organic menu for children developed exclusively by renowned food pioneer and chef, Alice Waters. The "For Kids By Kids" menu was tasted, tested and approved by kids, including 11-year-old cooking enthusiast Haile Thomas, who is spearheading a campaign for healthy eating through her online cooking show, Kids Can Cook. Through their research, Hyatt learned that kids today have a greater level of sophistication in their taste preferences, but also enjoy items with which they can interact. To that end, new menu offerings will present a creative way for kids to engage with their food, such as customizing their own pasta dish and "shaking" their own salad. Sample items include Top Your Own Taco, a whole wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, cheese and fun toppings for breakfast; Shaken Chopped Salad with roasted chicken, vegetables, brown rice and yogurt basil dressing for lunch; and natural beef grilled and served with potatoes, roasted vegetables and garden salad for dinner. Additionally the menu features a full organic meal offering and children may order a half portion of a regular menu item at half price. Visit www.bonaventure.hyatt.com.
Orlando fall savings
Seven staySky Hotels & Resorts in Orlando are featuring special "Fall Into Savings" rates starting at $59 per night, and all-suite accommodations. When booking online now through Dec. 20, visitors take advantage of a $50 excursion credit offered by Florida Dolphin Tours good toward experiences, such as swimming with dolphins or manatees, a Disney character meal or visit to Kennedy Space Center. Among the participating staySky Hotels & Resorts properties are Enclave Suites (rates from $59 through Dec. 20) and Palisades Resort (rates from $99 through Dec. 20). To book "Fall Into Savings," visit www.staysky.com/fall and enter promo code FALL2012.
Proposal package in Curacao
This year, ABC’s newest Bachelorette, Emily Maynard, experienced a picture perfect proposal as the man of her dreams knelt on the cobblestone streets of Sandton Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa in Curaçao. Now the Caribbean resort is offering viewers the chance to create a proposal experience like Emily’s with its new "Proposal Package" inspired by the Bachelorette. The package includes a deluxe suite for five nights at Sandton Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa (the same accommodations that Emily stayed during her time at the hotel); a visit with herbalist Dinah Veeris at the botanical gardens to receive the Bachelorette love potion; island tour; celebratory dinner for two in the Sculpture Garden (where one of the rose ceremonies took place); and rose petal turn down service with chilled bottle of champagne. Additionally, those guests looking to pop the question and recreate the entire experience can opt for a "Proposal Add-On" to the package to mirror the romantic scene where Emily’s suitor gets down on one knee. The add-on includes a midnight set up in the cobblestone courtyard with live musicians, candles and roses...everything but the ring (and the camera crew) to recreate the Bachelorette’s proposal. The five-night "Proposal Package" is $1,750 and is available to book through Nov. 21, for travel through Dec. 23. Pricing for the "Proposal Add-On" is available upon request. To book, call 877-264-3106.
Puerto Rico getaways
Hilton Worldwide hotels are offering a new twist on their popular "Puerto Rico Getaways" promotion. Extended through Dec. 20, the offer now includes discounted nightly rates (20 percent off the best available room rate), welcome drinks and a $25 casino match bet coupon. The offer is valid on all bookings made at www.PuertoRicoGetaways.com now through Dec. 20, for travel during the same period. Among participating properties is El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort with "Puerto Rico Getaways" rates starting at $143. Booking code is "P2". Offer is valid for stays booked and completed by Dec. 20, at participating hotels and resorts within Puerto Rico. Offer is subject to availability and requires a minimum stay of three consecutive nights. Blackout dates, deposit and cancellation restrictions may apply and vary by hotel. Offer does not apply to existing reservations or group bookings, and may not be combined with other promotions, negotiated/qualified rate plans, discounts, or offers. Each hotel has a policy to address deposits, cancellations and blackout dates that may apply. Other restrictions may apply. For specific restrictions please contact the participating property or visit their website.
Rocking the boat
Host Sister Hazel, in partnership with Sixthman, have announced the 13th adventure of The Rock Boat music festival at sea. The Rock Boat XIII will set sail with more than 2,000 guests aboard Norwegian Pearl on Feb. 24 – March 1, from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island. The musical marathon will feature two days on Great Stirrup Cay and showcase both fan favorites and emerging talent across multiple stages around the ship as well as intimate activities with artists and collaborations between musicians. The Rock Boat host, Sister Hazel, will be joined by Alternate Routes, Bronze Radio Return, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers, Good Old War, Will Hoge, NEEDTOBREATHE, Ponderosa, Ben Rector, Red Wanting Blue, Rusted Root, Saints of Victory, DJ Soulman, and Yacht Rock Revue. More artists are to be announced. Visit www.therockboat.com.
And for Beatles’ fans…
The fourth annual Cruise for Beatles Fans (formerly known as the Beatles Tribute Cruises) has put together another cast of Beatles friends and musicians to entertain on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas sailing from Fort Lauderdale on March 3 for seven nights. The cruise will make stops in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas. The sailing will feature private concerts, question and answer sessions and picture and autograph sessions with special Beatles guests, Beatles Trivia, Name That Tune contests and more.
Special Beatles guests include Mark Hudson, a Grammy Award winner and Ringo Starr’s producer; Joey Molland, guitarist for the Apple band "Badfinger" that put out such memorable hits as "Day by Day", and "Come and Get It" (written and produced by Paul McCartney); and Billy J. Kramer, the lead singer of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, one of Brian Epstein’s biggest bands (besides the Beatles) and had hits with a number of Lennon/McCartney tunes like "Do You Want To Know A Secret." Visit http://www.MusicInMocean.com.
Yummy in Orlando
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is hosting its Third Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic on Oct. 12-13. The event will include an outdoor festival featuring culinary selections from the resort's restaurants and lounges, a series of beverage seminars taught by the hotel's certified experts, and opportunities to meet with celebrity chefs like Todd English and Michael Mina. One- and two-night packages including tickets to the outdoor festival for two and overnight accommodations are available, starting at $285 per night. Advance purchase event-only tickets are available for $80 including taxes and include unlimited food and beverage samples on the causeway. Seminars are $45 per person, per class including taxes. Visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com.
Savings in Nassau
Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino, a top-rated family-friendly resort in Nassau, Bahamas, is offering travelers the chance to save this fall. Extending its Instant Air Credit Add-On, which can be combined with the resort's Sunsational Savings Package, travelers can enjoy family time while soaking up the sun. Offer must be booked by Oct. 15 for travel through Feb. 28. The Sunsational Savings and Instant Air Credit Add-On includes the fourth night free; $200 Instant Air Credit and $100 food and beverage credit (stays of four or five nights); $300 Instant Air Credit and $200 food and beverage credit (stays of six nights or longer); 1,500 Starpoints per stay, which can be redeemed for free night awards, flights and more. The Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino features seven acres of waterscape, including three freshwater pools with flowing waterfalls, oversized whirlpools, and a swim-up bar. For families, the resort has the Sheraton Adventure Club with daily and evening activities as well as hands-on educational programs. For more information and to check out terms and conditions, visit http://www.sheratonnassau.com/instant-air-credit.
Star Wars coming to Winter Haven
LEGOLAND Florida recently announced a "Star Wars"-themed area expansion coming this November. Star Wars Miniland will include Lego scenes from the six-movie series of films as well as the animated "Clone Wars" television series. The section will follow a chronological path through the "Star Wars" timeline. Visitors will be able to activate animations throughout the scenes using interactive buttons. Visit www.legoland.com.
"Shriekend" package in Orlando
The Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando is featuring a two-night "Shriekend" package. The Halloween package is $350 for two nights, double occupancy and is good through Oct. 31, based on availability. It includes accommodations in a deluxe double queen guest room, complimentary self parking and use of the state-of-the-art fitness center, 25 percent off greens fees at Shingle Creek Golf Club, 25 percent off on select Rosen Shingle Creek dining and lounging outlets, 25 percent off a service at The Spa at Shingle Creek, excluding spa packages, tax and gratuity. The package also includes special "treats" that are always complimentary at Rosen Shingle Creek including internet/WIFI in guest rooms and public areas and complimentary daily scheduled transportation to Universal Orlando and Wet 'n Wild (reservations required). The Rosen Shingle Creek "Shriekend" package may be booked now through Oct. 31, subject to availability. Rates do not include tax or gratuities. Package does not apply to group business and cannot be combined with any other promotion or offer. To book, call 866-996-6338 and mention "Halloween" or visit www.rosenshinglecreek.com.
"The Sun Also Rises" package in Key West
The Ocean Key Resort & Spa is featuring "The Sun Also Rises" Package starting at $1,066 per night through Dec. 20. The package includes a copy of Ermest Hemingway's novel, "The Sun Also Rises;" waterfront, sunrise breakfast for two at Hot Tin Roof; cocktails at Sunset Pier; in-room Jack Rose cocktail station; passes to tour the Hemingway House and Museum; and lunch at Sloppy Joe's. Visit www.oceankey.com.
Water tours in Jacksonville
Visitors to Jacksonville who would like to see the Intracoastal Waterway in a whole new way may wish to check out Jax Water Tours' offerings. Among the company's programs are Eco-tours every morning and Sunset-tours every night of the week, and a BYOB Fun Tour. The programs provide opportunities to see dolphins and manatees. The tours depart from the Beach Marina in Jacksonville Beach at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and each tour is two hours long. Tour prices start at $39. Visit www.jaxwatertours.com.
Dolphin training in Clearwater Beach
Guests at Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach can opt to swim with dolphins, help professionals train and feed them, go on cruises to see them in the wild or visit Winter the Dolphin, star of the movie "Dolphin Tale" at nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Room rates for the Winter the Dolphin Family Package start at $274 per night and include accommodations, daily breakfast for a family of four, a copy of the children's book "Winter's Tail," and admission to see Winter at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Two-night minimum stay is required and the package is featured through the end of the year. Package promo code is WINTER. Regular room rates start at $199 per night. Visit www.sandpearl.com.
SeaWorld Orlando unveils new site
SeaWorld Orlando has launched a website dedicated to its new attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, slated to open in spring. Features of the new site, at www.SeaWorldOrlando.com/Antarctica, include ways to watch feathery friends live on a Penguin Cam, learn about what makes Antarctica a land of extremes or sign up to receive email updates. The website also provides a way to stay tuned to the series of webisodes that will take fans behind-the-scenes with the designers and animal experts as they create the new attraction. The first webisode provides the first sneak peek into the Making of Antarctica and reveals a never-before-seen trailer.
JW Marriott & CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resorts are featuring the "Escape! Your Way in Cancun" package includes luxury accommodations plus one $100 resort credit per stay and complimentary Internet access. Rates start at $179/night at CasaMagna and $259/night at JW for travel through Dec. 21. Promotional Code is ES7. Visit www.casamagnacancun.com or www.jwmarriottcancun.com.
Grand Cayman off-season rates
Cotton Tree in Grand Cayman typically offers rates that start at $890 per night, but during the off-season they drop to $520 per night (through Nov. 30). When guests book the "Stay 6, Pay 5" offer, they enjoy a prorated nightly rate of $433 (a savings of 51 percent compared to winter months). The resort will be closed Sept. 1-30. Visit www.caymancottontree.com.
Things are a-brewing in Jacksonville
The Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Jacksonville features a Beer School with an interactive class that guides visitors through the ins and outs of becoming a beer connoisseur. After 45 minutes you will know how beer is made, how to properly store it, the best way to pour it and more importantly the best way to taste it. You have to be 21 or older to attend the class, and it is $10 per person. After class visitors can take the Beer Master Tour of the Brewery. The two-hour long Beer Master Tour is $25. For dates and availability check out www.budweisertours.com/z01/index.php/jacksonville/overview/.
New ship to be called Regal Princess
Princess Cruises recently marked the beginning of construction of the second of its new generation of ships with the official keel laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At the same time the line announced that the ship's name will be Regal Princess. The vessel, a sister ship to Royal Princess, will debut in Spring 2014. Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship's keel – which weighs approximately 500 tons – was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than 2 million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel. The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out next summer. Regal Princess will offer many of the same features as Royal Princess, which debuts in June 2013. Among these are an expanded atrium; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; private poolside cabanas; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. More information and video previews of Royal Princess are available at www.princess.com/royalprincess. Additional details including schedules and itineraries for Regal Princess will be announced next year. Visit www.princess.com.
"Scared Shrekless" in Kissimmee
Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee invites guests to come out and experience Halloween a little early this year during Scared Shrekless Family Fun, an interactive experience featuring characters from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.’s Madagascar franchise and this summer’s hit film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, along with friends from the Shrek and Kung Fu Panda franchises. Package guests can dress up in their most spooktacular costumes; trick-or-treat around the resort’s 4.5 acres of gardens; participate in a kids’costume contest with prizes; make ooey, gooey Swamp Sludge; dive into fun at the Madagascar Crack-A-Lackin’ Pool Party and more ghoulish fun. Overnight packages begin at $179 and are available on Oct. 13 and Oct. 27. Visit www.DreamWorksExperienceatGaylordPalms.com.
Families who wish to squeeze out a bit more summer fun may wish to consider this Orlando special: Wyndham Orlando Resort is featuring rates starting at $67 per night now through Sept. 30. Resort amenities include villa-style accommodations, three pools, on-site ice cream parlor, and garden path. Complimentary shuttle service to Universal Orlando Resort, Wet ‘n Wild Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando parks is available. Rates are subject to availability. Visit www.wyndham.com/hotels/MCOWD/main.wnt.
Walk on the wild side in St. Augustine
Walk on the Wild Side at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine is a 2.5 mile Ranger-led walk that starts at 9 a.m. and offers a leisurely stroll through the Maritime Hammock, marsh, dunes and shore line on Sept. 29. Anastasia State Park is at 1340- State Road A1A South. Program participation is free with paid park admission ($8 per vehicle up to eight people; $2 per additional passengers; pedestrians and bicyclists pay $2 each). For details, visit www.floridastateparks.org/anastasia.
Cirque du Soleil offer for Florida residents
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil has announced a special offer for Florida residents for select performances at Downtown Disney West Side at Disney World in Orlando through Dec. 14. Florida residents can purchase tickets in Category 2 for $50. Tickets are available by phone at 407-939-7328 or at the box office located on the plaza level of the theater. Visit http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/lanouba/tickets/florida/offers.aspx.
Universal Orlando specials for Florida and out of state residents
Universal Orlando Resort is featuring a “third day free” offer that we just launched for Florida residents for this fall. When Florida residents purchase a two-day park ticket, they will receive free admission for the third day. Prices start at $99 per adult for purchase through Oct. 31 and valid for use through Dec. 14. Also, Florida residents receive a $50 gift card with a three-night or longer stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (valid for stays through Dec. 22). And still more for Florida residents: tickets to the Blue Man Group show are discounted starting at $49 for select dates through Oct. 28. For non-Florida residents Universal Orlando is featuring a fourth day and fourth night free with a stay at one of Universal’s partner hotels, including accommodations at a hotel near Universal Orlando, park tickets and more. This offer starts at $52 per person, per day (price is based on the cost of a three-night package at participating hotels with a Three-Day Base ticket, one park per day, and travel is valid through Dec. 19). Out of state guests can also save up to $350 at one of Universal Orlando’s three on-site hotels with the Save and Play Getaway package including four nights accommodation and Three-Day Base ticket (one park per day). Package starts at $95 per person, per day for travel through Nov. 20. These limited time offers are available for booking now through Oct. 22. Visit www.universalorlando.com.
Barbie To Be Onboard
Royal Caribbean International has partnered with Mattel to bring Barbie, arguably the world’s most popular doll, onboard. The new Barbie Premium Experience will be available on some Royal Caribbean ships starting in January and will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet by March. The Barbie Premium Experience includes themed staterooms with Barbie keepsakes, an invitation-only tea party, mermaid dance class, a fashion design workshop and Barbie Girls fashion show. Cost of the Barbie Premium Experience is $349. A variety of complimentary activities will be offered in the line’s Adventure Ocean youth program including A Barbie Movie Night and Barbie Story Time. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com/Barbie.
Celebrity chefs spice up sailings
Renowned chefs and food writers are set to share some of the world's finest gastronomic traditions on seven upcoming Culinary Arts voyages aboard Silversea Cruises. These culinary themed cruises showcase the skills of culinary experts and award-winning chefs of top dining establishments from around the world, including the internationally acclaimed chefs of Relais & Châteaux, the distinguished international association of charming properties and gourmet restaurants. Among the Culinary Arts voyages is one titled The Flavors of Europe, aboard Silver Explorer's Expedition Voyage 7309, sailing April 29 to May 13, from Lisbon to Portsmouth, offering an array of culinary demonstrations and activities on board and ashore. On this voyage, guests will have the opportunity to visit a farm near Bordeaux dedicated to the cultivation of heirloom fruits and vegetables; learn how to prepare Basque pintxos (bite-sized delicacies); partake in a gastronomic celebration at Château Kirwan in the Bordeaux countryside; experience an authentic afternoon tea at a manor house in Guernsey; and join Silversea's culinary team for a provisioning excursion to a seafood market in Santander, Spain. The voyage will be hosted by Chef Rudi Scholdis, Silversea's culinary director; Chef David Bilsland, culinary trainer for the "Relais & Châteaux L'Ecole des Chefs" cooking school aboard Silversea; and Conrad Combring, Silversea's director of expeditions. Another voyage features Robert Wemischner, a pastry chef based in Los Angeles and author of four books including “The Dessert Architect.” Wemischner will be aboard Silver Spirit’s Voyage 5303, Jan. 17 – Feb. 1, from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles. Visit www.silversea.com.
Girlfriend getaway on Atlantic Beach
One Ocean Resort & Spa on Atlantic Beach in northeast Florida is featuring a new “Girlfriend Getaway” package available now through December with rates starting at $528 per night. The package provides ocean front accommodations with balcony for two, beach-ready pedicures for two, seashell massages for two, private yoga class on the beach, beach chair rentals during stay, and homemade snacks and wine upon arrival. The package is valid through Dec. 31. Visit www.oneoceanresort.com/special-pkg/girlfriend-getaway.aspx.
Cruise for a cure
The three-night Cruise For A Cure – Walk In Paradise sets sail on Feb. 8 aboard Norwegian’s Norwegian Sky. Features include a “Walk in Paradise at Atlantis Resort” benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure Miami/Fort Lauderdale Affiliate; a celebration after the walk hosted by Atlantis Resort; a Passionate for Pink Party costume contest and more. The sailing, from Miami, visits Nassau-Paradise Island and Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian’s private island) in the Bahamas. Rates are from $376.63 per person, double (interior). Price includes roundtrip bus transportation to Atlantis, donation to the Susan G. Komen Miami/Fort Lauderdale Affiliate, private events, meals and snacks onboard, entertainment onboard, taxes and government fees. Prices are subject to chage without notice. Gratuities and insurance are additional; 100 percent of donations benefit Susan G. Komen Miami/Fort Lauderdale Affilicate. Reservations are to be made only through Julie Aliseo, Cruise Planners, American Express Travel. Call 954-899-8818.
South Florida family getaway
Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles is featuring a Family Escape Package available through Dec. 20. The package offers guests complimentary spa access, complimentary access to the AcquaMarine Children’s Program, a daily $40 body or facial spa treatment credit for up to two adults, daily continental breakfast for two served by Il Mulino New York, Internet access and valet parking daily. The longer guests stay, the more they can save with Acqualina’s Family Escape Package. Rates start from $375 per night for one to two night stays, $350 per night for three to four night stays and $325 per night for five nights or longer. Rates vary by season, room type and length of stay. Rates are subject to availability, blackout dates and certain restrictions may apply. Daily rates are based on double occupancy, subject to 13 percent tax. Offer is not combinable with other offers and is valid on new bookings only. Call 888-804-4338.
Green Lodging Program distinction for Naples property
The LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples recently announced its newly added distinction as part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Green Lodging Program. Located between the Gulf of Mexico and Vanderbilt Bay, LaPlaya offers sun seekers the perfect locale for a Florida beach vacation and now provides peace of mind that efforts are in place to protect the environment. On top of the intense criteria required to earn the distinction, over the next year, LaPlaya will look for additional ways to better conserve water, reduce energy usage and increase recycling while reducing waste volume to the landfill. LaPlaya features a private beach with Beach Butlers, cabanas along a cascading falls pool, David Leadbetter Golf Academy with a private 18-hole Cupp golf course, and exotic SpaTerre. Visit www.laplayaresort.com.
Florida residents’ savings in Palm Beach
Florida residents enjoy extra savings when visiting The Palm Beaches this summer, thanks to more than 15 participating hotels and resorts offering discounted rates and special incentives for Floridians. Among the deals for Florida residents: The Breakers on the Ocean of Delray Beach is offering Florida residents a 15 percent discount when booking before Oct. 31, and Florida residents can save 10 percent at Casa Grandview Historic Luxury Inn, Cottages & Suites when staying two or more nights in a guest room, or five or more nights in a cottage or cabana suite before Dec. 31. Visit www.PalmBeachFL.com/Residents.
Entertainment, culinary novelties on NCL’s new ship
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the five-time Tony Award nominated musical “Rock Of Ages” will be featured on its new Norwegian Breakaway, along with two additional Broadway shows: “Burn The Floor” and “Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy.” The line also introduced the varied and exciting entertainment acts and venues that will debut on the ship, including the comedy troupe The Second City and Howl at the Moon at Headliners Comedy Club and New York’s own Slam Allen in Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club. On the culinary front, NCL has announced that celebrity chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will create and oversee a seafood concept to open in May. The restaurant, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, is envisioned as a luxury seafood dining experience, utilizing all of the ingredients and techniques that Zakarian would employ in a land-based establishment. In addition to the dining room that will focus on elegant modern presentations, Zakarian will have The Raw Bar, an adjacent bar highlighting crustaceans and wines by the glass; and Ocean Blue on The Waterfront, a more casual dining option serving easy fare. Zakarian will orchestrate not only the menus, but also every aspect of his dining areas, from the uniforms to the glassware. On select sailings, Zakarian will also host meet-and-greets with guests, along with in-person cooking demonstrations and intimate cooking experiences for smaller groups. Under construction at Meyer Werft shipyards in Germany, Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in her year-round homeport of New York City in early May. The ship will begin weekly summer seven-day cruises to Bermuda on Sunday, May 12. From October 2013 through April 2014, the ship will offer voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas & Florida and the Southern Caribbean. Visit www.breakaway.ncl.com.
Free Internet in Orlando
Guests at the three Rosen Hotels & Resorts convention hotels in Orlando, the 1500-room Rosen Shingle Creek, 1334-room Rosen Centre and 800-room Rosen Plaza, enjoy free internet access – both wireless or hardwired – in guest rooms and public areas. Rosen Hotels & Resorts implemented this change this summer as part of its ongoing commitment to providing value and service to business and leisure guests. The costs will not be reflected in a resort fee or otherwise hidden. Visit www.RosenHotels.com.
Juniors riding shotgun
The Richard Petty Driving Experience is offering “Junior Ride-Alongs” at Walt Disney World Speedway in Lake Buena Vista. Children will experience real-life racing while riding shotgun with a professional driving instructor for three laps, in a specially equipped two-seat NASCAR racecar. Cost is $59. Riders must be 6-13 years old and at least 48 inches in height and no reservations are required. Visit www.drivepetty.com.
For young explorers
National Geographic Kids Ultimate Weird But True (hardcover, $19.95) has 1,000 cool facts like that a great white shark can weigh as much as 15 gorillas. The book features 500 photographs and 200 themed spreads including animal antics, freaky weather phenomena and nature’s most bizarre creations. Ultimate Weird But True is the next installment in National Geographic Kids Weird But True series, which started as a popular feature in National Geographic Kids children’s magazine. It is recommended for ages 8-12. Visit www.ngchildrensbooks.org.
Beach friends forever getaway in Vero Beach
The Beach Friends Forever getaway at Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa in Vero Beach allows buddies to save more the more friends they bring. When guests book two rooms, per night, guests save 10 percent off the entire stay; three rooms per night saves 20 percent off entire stay and four rooms per night saves 30 percent per stay. The BFF getaway is only valid for stays through Sept. 30 and only applicable for groups of 4 to 20 people (max. 5 rooms) and to minimum 3 night stays. The offer is not valid for existing reservations or in unison with other special offers or promotions. Rates do not include taxes, are based upon availability and subject to blackout dates. Costa d’Este Beach Resort also has debuted a new level of personal WOW service with the addition of the pool- and beach-side Splash Stylists. This team of waterside attendants offers a variety of complimentary services including poolside foot massage from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily; sunglass cleaning; a selection of the latest weekly magazines; a selection of chilled sunscreen and spritzers; frozen grapes and a welcome mojito. Visit www.costadeste.com.
LOL package in Sunny Isles
With back-to-school here, the Marenas Beach Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles (North Miami Beach) welcome parents for some well-deserved (kid free) playtime with the LOL getaway. The package includes 15 percent off best available rate for two nights, $50 resort credit, buy one get one free applied to dinner each night, one complimentary bottle of house wine, waived fesort fee. LOL is available during September and October. Visit www.marenasresortmiami.com.
Golf package in Orlando
The Villas of Grand Cypress, a golf resort minutes from Downtown Disney, is offering the Two Fore One getaway. Starting at $145 per night, the Two Fore One offer, valid through Sept. 30, features 2 “Fore” 1 dining, valid at Villa dining outlets only and based on equal or lesser value menu item (excluding alcohol); 2 “Fore” 1 rounds of golf when playing together; and 2 "Fore" 1 golf lessons when taking shared lessons. Visit www.grandcypress.com and use the booking code 2fore1.
The Aruba Marriott Resort is offering families a vacation that includes a savings of 33 percent with the “Escape! Your Way Family” package. The package includes daily breakfast for two adults and two children; tickets for two adults and two children for the Aruba Butterfly Farm; complimentary on site activity for children (beading or tie-dye shirts); pizza-making course at La Vista (Mondays at Italian dinner buffet); and arrival welcome amenity. “Escape! Your Way Family” package rates start at $309/night and are available through December 21, 2012. A minimum four-night consecutive stay is required. Visit www.arubamarriott.com and request promo code MAJ.
New accommodations in Orlando
The Peabody Orlando has debuted The Loft, a new elite accommodation comprising 52-rooms located within three private-access floors in the Mallard Tower. Complete with private lounge access, The Loft offers a complimentary glass of wine and gourmet snacks during daily wine reception from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Visit www.peabodyorlando.com.
Bring the kids to St. Kitts
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts features unlimited adjoining guest rooms and dining discounts for kids 12 and under. Along with guaranteed connecting rooms (as many as families need), St. Kitts Marriott invites kids five and under to eat for free, while young guests aged 6-12 receive a 50 percent discount. Families visiting the St. Kitts Marriott can enjoy all three of the resort’s kid-friendly pools, the sandy beach, a specially designed kids program and an array of on-property casual and fine-dining restaurants that feature kid-friendly menus. Families can book the Super Escape! Inclusive Package starting at $399 per room, per night that offers the following with a three-night minimum stay: accommodations, room tax and service charge; choice of two (per room, per stay): a round of golf, spa treatment or casino value package; daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, including room service for two adults; kids 12 and under eat free from the kids' menu or buffet; children ages 13-17 pay an additional $75 per child per night; unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, gold standard alcoholic beverages, local beers, house wines by the glass; tennis courts, beach rentals and pool floats; Kids' Club (ages 5 to 12 years of age); and 20 percent discount on treatments at the Emerald Mist Spa. The Super Escape! Inclusive Package is valid for travel through Dec. 21. Visit www.stkittsmarriott.com. Refer to promotional code P50.
Florida residents rate at Discovery Cove
Discovery Cove has announced Florida residents' savings available through Dec. 31. Florida residents can enjoy a "Dolphin Swim Day Resort" admission for $199 plus tax or "Day Resort" admission (full day, without dolphin swim experience) for $129 plus tax. This offer includes an unlimited admission pass to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica through Jan. 31, valid after the date of Discovery Cove visit. Proof of valid Florida residency for each adult is required upon check-in at guest reception. Visit www.DiscoveryCove.com.
Dining package at sea
Norwegian Cruise Line has a new Specialty Dining Package, "Signature Trio," that gives guests the opportunity to pre-purchase three specialty restaurants prior to sailing at a special rate. Guests who take advantage of the package can experience three of the line's most popular specialty restaurants: the steakhouse, French bistro and Italian restaurant at a special package rate of $47 per person. The offer is available on all ships fleet wide. To take advantage of the Signature Trio Specialty Dining Package, guests with a cruise reservation can either pre-purchase the package by logging into their "myncl" account on www.ncl.com. The offer is not available for purchase on board. The package is not available for sailings that occur during Christmas or New Years.
Golf package on St. Kitts
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort is featuring the Sun, Sea & Golf package, a "sweet" deal for golfers headed to Sugar City this fall. In addition to enjoying luxury guest rooms trimmed with West Indian accents and cutting edge comforts, guests at the hotel from Sept. 1- Oct. 31, receive complimentary green fees at Royal St. Kitts Golf Club..The Sun, Sea & Golf package also includes breakfast daily. Rates start at $159 per room, per night, based on double occupancy. Tax and service fees not included. Offer valid for stays from Sept. 1- Oct. 31. Course closed Sept. 3. Cart fees and club rental not included. Visit www.stkittsmarriott.com and reference promo code H47.
End of summer deal in Orlando
The seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels are offering End of Summer Value Rates valid through Sept. 30. End of Summer Value Rates are: from $79 per room, per night at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel; from $99 per room, per night at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa; from $99 per suite, per night at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton; from $89 per room, per night at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista; from $89 per room, per night at the Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Downtown; from $79 per room, per night at the Royal Plaza Hotel; and from $74 per room, per night at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. As an added bonus, guests receive a Downtown Disney Deals booklet that features 40 exclusive discounts on Downtown Disney area dining, entertainment and shopping including the Rainforest Café, T-Rex, Wolfgang Puck Express, Steve Baker Caricatures, Lego Imagination Center, Planet Hollywood Downtown Disney, House of Blues Restaurant, La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil, Cap'n Jack's Restaurant, Bongo's Cuban Café, and Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. The hotels are within walking distance of the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at Downtown Disney, including Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba, and offer complimentary shuttle service to the four Disney parks, two Disney water parks and Downtown Disney, Visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com, specifically http://tinyurl.com/8svb48f. Some blackout dates may apply.
Water-related experiences in the Keys
The Keys are about "water, water, everywhere." Here are some new opportunities to have water-related fun in the Keys on your next vacation
-- Islamorada's Otherside Boardsports have recently opened Keys Cable, a new water-sports cable park where adventure enthusiasts and can participate in wakeboarding, wakeskating, waterskiing and kiteboarding. The cable system is an overhead towing device used to pull riders across the water. Located at Mile Marker 59 on Grassy Key, Keys Cable has two two-point cable systems that are independently operated atop a seven-acre lake. The park's independently controlled system gives the operator the ability to create a customized ride, as only one rider is allowed on the cable at a time. Cable time rates begin at $22 for 30 minutes or $32 for 60 minutes. Two-hour, half-day, full-day rates, as well as monthly, seasonal and annual passes also are available. Private rentals can be arranged for large groups and parties. The park offers full equipment rentals as well as instructional and private coaching. Keys Cable is open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit www.KeysCable.com.
-- Levitation-like flight soars to new heights in Marathon with the summer debut of Florida Keys Kiteboarding's new Flyboard water-powered jet system. The Flyboard is a floating levitation device that attaches to a personal watercraft for power. It uses a water jet for precision flying through the air or underwater. The Flyboard consists of a 50-foot power hose, foot bindings on a board with two thrust nozzles, a stabilization thrust nozzle on each wrist and an optional electronic management kit so that the person on the Flyboard can control the throttle and the on/off switch. After a few minutes of instruction, participants can hover on top of the water with ease and then start learning how to hover 40 feet in the air, perform precision flying, diving, flying underwater and aerobatics like back flips, spins, twists and dolphin swimming. Flyboard sessions are offered through Florida Keys Kiteboarding for $99 for one to two participants for 40 minutes or $199 for one to four participants for 90 minutes. Visit www.FloridaKeysKiteSurfing.com.
-- PADDLE! the Florida Keys, located in Tavernier at Mile Marker 94.5, recently opened its doors to offer eco-friendly adventure in the Upper Keys. The new paddle shop offers stand-up paddleboards and kayak tours, rentals and instruction. In addition, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and gear are available for sale. Kayak and SUP delivery service is available with rentals starting from $30 per day and $100 per week. PADDLE! the Florida Keys offers two- to three-hour guided eco-tours through the mangroves of the Upper Keys. Tours begin daily at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. or by appointment. Participants can choose either a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak for $50 per person with a minimum of two participants per tour. PADDLE! the Florida Keys is open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but closes at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays for the shop's weekly paddling meet-up. During meet-ups, participants of all levels can enjoy a social paddling excursion of the Upper Keys. These excursions are free for participants who have their own paddling equipment and offered at equipment rental cost for those who do not. Visit www.paddlethefloridakeys.com.
-- A new kayak launch park has opened in Marathon at Events Field, located behind Marathon City Hall between 98th and 99th streets, across U.S. Highway 1 from Florida Keys Marathon Airport. The kayak launch park features two tiki-hut style pavilions, a boardwalk and four kayak docking stations. Two of the docking stations are designed for single kayak use while the other two can accommodate both single and double kayaks, with pull-up bars at each kayak docking station to assist riders getting into and out of their kayaks. Events Field borders the Atlantic Ocean and the field is dog friendly and has an open area for kite flying, exercise and other activities. Events Field and its kayak launch park are open daily during daylight hours. For further information, contact the Marathon Parks and Recreation office at 305-743-6598.
Award for Naples restaurant
HB's on the Gulf, the beachfront restaurant at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, has once again captured the "Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the restaurant has won the award. The award is given to restaurants in recognition of their commitment to a fine wine list, with a diverse selection of better producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Wine lists need to be extensive, and usually offer 100 or more quality wine selections. HB's wine list features more than 150 selections from around the world. HB's on the Gulf is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m., and nightly from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. weeknights and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant is located at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, at 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. North in Naples. Visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com.
Paddling programs in Florida
Paddle Florida has announced its trip schedule for 2012-13. From October through March, five trips will take paddlers down Florida's Suwannee, Wekiva, St. Johns, Withlacoochee, Rainbow, and Ochlockonee Rivers, and across the coastal waters of the Florida Keys. These trips showcase Florida's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage while promoting the non-profit's water-oriented ecological mission. Trips are scouted in advance to ensure waterway conditions and selection of shoreline camping spots that maximize comfort and showcase views. Partnerships with local outfitters provide paddlers with canoes, kayaks, and other gear to rent as needed. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminates the need to weigh boats down with food and camping equipment. Lead and sweep boats guide paddlers on each day's journey. Featured trips include a Suwannee River Wilderness Trail program (65 miles) on Oct. 26-31 and a Wekiva/St. John's River Ramble (30 miles) on Nov. 30-Dec. 3.
Florida-based entertainment or educational programs are provided along shorelines each evening by artists, musicians, authors, and naturalists local to the region. Paddle Florida also coordinates voluntary cleanups of each waterway visited. Previous years' volunteers have collected and removed more than 1,000 pounds of trash from Florida's rivers. For trip details and registration information, visit http://paddleflorida.org/.
No more tangled ear buds when you fly
For those tired of wasting time untangling messy ear buds, CordCruncher headphones have a cord length that adjusts from 16 inches to 3.5 feet and an elastic sleeve to store the cord when not in use, thus eliminating tangles. So no more tangled cords around the airplane seat belt, armrest or tray, and the headphones can be stored in carry-on luggage for hassle-free retrieval. The accessory crunches between uses and can be worn as a necklace or bracelet. It is available in three colors: pearl blue, matte black and rocket red. Cost is $24.99. Visit www.cordcruncher.com.
New brochures available
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has released two new brochures showcasing more than 200 voyages sailing from January through December 2013 to more than 450 destinations on seven continents. The new 176-page 2013 Voyages atlas is devoted to the journeys of the Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit. Silversea Expeditions' 2013 Voyages brochure is now available as a stand-alone 48-page guide to Silver Explorer's voyages of adventure. It highlights 27 expedition cruises sailing from pole to pole and to some of the world's most remote destinations in between. For complimentary copies of the brochures, visit www.silversea.com and click on the "ORDER A BROCHURE" tab.
Renaissance era wizardry on Key West
The Westin Key West Resort & Marina, and sister property, Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, and Mel Fisher Maritime Museum have partnered to present the Harry Potter Package. The program includes tickets to an exhibit including Renaissance-era artifacts like those used by Harry and his friends in the Harry Potter books and movies. The magic in the Harry Potter series is partially based on Renaissance traditions which played an important role in the development of Western science and medicine. To explore the link between Harry Potter and the history of science and medicine, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has created a six-banner traveling exhibition: "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine" (www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/harrypottersworld). Each banner covers an element of science or medicine, such as potions, monsters or herbology and describes the connection between its reference in the Harry Potter books and its actual historical orientation. In Key West, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum dramatically enhances the banner display with a collection of historically significant artifacts like those used by both renaissance-era scientists and Harry and his friends. Such artifacts include real Bezoar stones, authentic cauldrons and serpent cups, silver and gold platters, bars and coins. The museum's exhibit also features Renaissance surgical tools recovered from the famous Atocha shipwreck, the kind of tools thought to have been used to examine monsters and fantastic beasts, and to practice the age old wizardry of alchemy. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum (http://www.melfisher.org) is the only museum in the country to show the exhibit with these precious artifacts. The NLM's Harry Potter banner exhibit is otherwise traveling only to public libraries and universities. The Harry Potter Package offered by The Westin Key West Resort & Marina and Sunset Key Guest Cottages includes two nights' accommodations, two adult and two children's tickets to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum's Harry Potter Exhibit, one $25 gift card to the Key West Toy Factory, two adult cocktail certificates (at Jimmy's Car Bar) and two children's smoothie certificates, for a "potion" of choice at Sunset Celebration at The Westin Key West Resort & Marina. Package is available through Dec. 20. Package price starts at $1,212 for a two-bedroom garden-view cottage at Sunset Key Guest Cottages, and $460 for a guestroom at The Westin Key West Resort & Marina. Visit www.westinkeywestresort.com.
Celebrating grandparents' month in Naples
The Inn on Fifth in Naples is celebrating National Grandparents Month (September) with two packages designed for multi-generational getaways including the Naples Family Adventure
Package. Starting at $200 per night, the Naples Family Adventure package offers three-night accommodations, in-room snack basket, tickets to the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, a cruise aboard the Double Sunshine and a family dinner at Riverwalk, two double scoop ice cream waffle cones at Regina's, pizza dinner with sodas at Café Luna, admission to the Botanical Gardens and more. Courtesy transportation to the beach and beach chair rental are provided. Package prices vary by season and do not include tax or gratuity. Reservations are based on availability. Package rates are not available on certain holiday weekends, including Labor Day. To book the package, call 888-403-8778. Visit www.innonfifth.com for information on The Inn on Fifth.
Exploring Miami via electric bike
Conrad Miami is offering electric bicycles for guests who would like to explore the city in an eco-friendly way. The hotel partnered with Wheels 2 Go Miami to offer the bikes, which can go up to 20 mph and cover up to 40 miles without pedaling, thus enabling riders to dash around the city and explore stops in the Art Deco District, South Beach, Design District, Wynwood Arts neighborhood, Coconut Grove and Key Biscayne. The bikes, which are noise-free, also include an audio player with headsets for self-guided tours of South Beach. With every bicycle rental, Conrad Miami provides helmets, lock and key, storage bags, maps and energy "on the go" snacks. Riders, who must be at least 16 years of age, can rent the bicycles for $49 for three hours; $59 for four hours; or $79 for eight hours. The hotel also offers multi-day rental packages. Also available are room packages that include two electric bicycles, complimentary breakfast for two, and discounted access to the beachfront Hilton Bentley South Beach, located in the heart of "South of Fifth." Visit www.conradhotels.com.
New welcome center at Port Canaveral under construction
Construction began this week at Port Canaveral on a new $21 million Welcome Center, a seven-story building that will feature an observation deck, exhibits, event space, auditorium, gift shop and café. The project is the first phase of a revitalization of the Canaveral Cove. The structure is expected to be a magnet for visitors to Brevard County and convey the maritime history of Port Canaveral, as well as reflect the rich stories of the region's military battles, space exploration, and beach culture. The 22,000 square foot facility is designed by GWWO Architects of Baltimore. Skanska of Orlando is general contractor, working with Ivey's Construction of Rockledge. A public viewing platform will allow visitors to monitor progress of the project set for completion by July. Visit www.portcanaveral.com.
The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced the 2013 schedule for the American Queen. These fabled river voyages on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers depart from such cities as Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Paul, Cincinnati, Chattanooga, and Pittsburgh. Voyage highlights for 2013 include 30 departures from Memphis and New Orleans, showcasing the fabled Lower Mississippi's plantations, civil war battlefields, history and Southern culture, five special departures featuring Natchez's Spring Pilgrimage Pageant; and a "Blue Hawaii" Elvis Tribute. Red, White and Blue Pricing offers value including a free one night deluxe hotel stay in the city of embarkation, all shore tours on our trademark SteamcoahesSM in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other amenities. A variety of voyage lengths, ranging from four nights to 12 nights are featured. Fares start at $1,095 per guest. Visit www.AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com.
Family reunions on St. Lucia
St. Lucia's Calabash Cove Resort & Spa, a sought-after setting for destination weddings, is also popular for family reunions and gatherings of friends. With its beach – perfect for lounging as you catch up on each other's lives – and gardens filled with extensive local flora as well as banana, cane and pineapple patches, Calabash Cove provides a picture-perfect backdrop for group photos. Families can book a group of rooms or the entire resort for reunions. Calabash Cove's 26 accommodations include unique Swim-Up Suites and Water's Edge Cottages, many with private pools and all with Jacuzzis and ocean views. Amenities include a pristine beach and custom boardwalk, infinity-edge designer swimming pool with a natural rock waterfall, restaurant, spa and fitness center, cocktail bar, and music and game library. Accommodations include daily breakfast buffet. Meal and beverage plans also are available. Room rates begin at $385 per night through Dec. 22, based on double occupancy. Booking the entire resort for up to 52 guests on a Carefree All Inclusive package costs $17,000 through the same period. Visit www.CalabashCove.com.
Labor Day package on St. Pete Beach
The TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach is celebrating a final farewell to the season with the Labor Day Weekend Endless Summer package. This package offers a variety of Labor Day festivities, an Island Buffet, carnival games and contests, a celebration party, and several other additional benefits included in the Resort Amenity Fee. Valid from Aug. 31-Sept. 4, the three-night package begins at $582 for both TradeWinds properties, the Island Grand and the Guy Harvey Outpost. Guests wanting to extend their stay can add additional nights to the package for 50 percent off rack rates. The Labor Day Celebration party will take place Sept. 2 and will include various activities and entertainment such as face painting, games, contests and prizes. A DJ will be spinning beach music. The “Taste of the Island” buffet menu consists of coconut curried chicken, grilled sirloin with caramelized Bermuda onion demi, Montego Bay fried plantains, mango passion fruit cheesecake and several other Island-Inspired dishes. There is also a Little Islander’s buffet for the kids. At dusk there will be a fireworks show. Visit www.JustLetGo.com.
For young explorers
The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 ($13.99) features several new sections including a games and fun section, crafts and activities, and weird-but-true facts including that some frogs glow when they eat fireflies and that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the biggest living structure on earth. Also new are digital media extras including 10 QR codes to scan that feature more games, videos and photos for smart phones and iPod Touch. Visit www.ngchildrensbooks.org.
Cooling off during dog days and beyond
If the dog days of August have you looking for a respite here’s a cool offer: Aquatica, SeaWorld Orlando’s water park is offering a Weekday Pass that allows guests to gain unlimited weekday access through Dec. 31 for $59.99 plus tax. There’s also an option to purchase a weekend day for just $15 when a Weekday Pass is shown at the front gate. Aquatica features dual wave pools, two lazy rivers, beaches and swimming areas along with plenty of water slides. Visit www.aquaticabyseaworld.com.
The holidays steamboat-style
‘Tis the season to be jolly “steamboat style” this coming December. The American Queen Steamboat Company is introducing Cajun and Creole Christmas traditions onboard with five Old Fashioned Holidays voyages on the American Queen available from New Orleans roundtrip or between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn. These itineraries offer guests authentic holiday experiences including the old Louisiana tradition of bonfires on the levees, special Christmas shows in the Grand Saloon, door-decorating contests and even a visit from Santa Claus and his elves. Seasonal culinary delights and decadent desserts including a Creole Réveillon Christmas Dinner, prepared by Culinary Director Regina Charboneau and her team, are among the many tasty highlights. The seven-night Old Fashioned Holidays voyages depart from Memphis, Tenn. to New Orleans on Dec. 1 and Dec. 21. A voyage upriver is also available from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn. on Dec. 20 with all itineraries calling on Vicksburg, Miss.; Natchez, Miss.; St. Francisville, La.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Oak Alley, La. A five-night New Orleans roundtrip Old Fashioned Holidays voyage departs Dec. 8 featuring the ports of Oak Alley, La.; St. Francisville, La.; Natchez, Miss.; and Baton Rouge, La. A seven-night New Orleans roundtrip Old Fashioned Holidays voyage embarks Dec, 13 calling on Oak Alley, La.; St. Francisville, La.; Natchez, Miss.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Houmas House, La. Five-night Old Fashioned Holidays fares begin at $1,395 per person, double, and seven-night voyages start at $1,995. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other amenities. Visit www.AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com.
Historic happening on the Space Coast
For the last time in history, a space shuttle will take flight from the Kennedy Space Center when the Endeavour Space Shuttle flies out atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on Sept. 17. The Endeavour will be on its way to the California Science Center where it will be permanently displayed. Spectators can watch the historic event from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Note that although the date for the fly-out has been set for Sept. 17, if conditions are not favorable NASA will re-schedule it. Visit www.kennedyspacecenter.com.
Lion King wing opens at new Disney World resort
The Pride Lands of Africa is the scenic setting for the “Lion King,” the third phase of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort that opened this month at Walt Disney World Resort. The new Lion King wing celebrates the journey of Simba, with landscapes and theme that reflect scenes from the Academy Award-winning Walt Disney Pictures animated film “The Lion King.” In the new Lion King wing, guests embark on a journey through Africa with encounters with characters and scenic moments from the film classic at every turn. King Mufasa towers atop Pride Rock while his evil brother Scar slinks in the shadows beyond the elephant graveyard. There’s Pumbaa and Timon with a young Simba dancing across a log bridge in true carefree “hakuna matata” fashion. Scar’s crazed and comical hyenas “guard” the elephant graveyard, an area for youngsters. The storytelling also comes to life inside the 320 family suites. Zazu takes center stage on the headboards while Pumbaa and Timon decorate the shower curtain. Youngsters can rest on a leaf-shaped chair or sleep alongside Simba who slumbers at the head of one of the beds. The Lion King wing marks the third in the four-phase opening of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Earlier this summer, 320 “Finding Nemo” family suites and 480 “Cars” family suites opened. Each of four wings of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort celebrates storytelling, spirited characters, original sketches and playfulness with icons inspired by classic Disney and Disney-Pixar films. The property, situated adjacent to Disney’s Pop Century Resort, offers rates from $248 per night. The 1,120 family suites include two bathrooms, a kitchenette and three separate sleeping areas that can sleep up to six. The 864 standard rooms at the “Little Mermaid” wing, opening in September, will sleep up to four, with rates from $94. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Cruise for a cause
Reservations are being taken for the First Annual Breast Cancer Survivor’s Cruise to the Bahamas, hosted by Denise’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization based in Stormville, NY. Guests depart from Miami on March 25, aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky, with stops at Nassau Bahamas, Grand Bahama Island, and Great Stirrup Cay (private island in the Bahamas) before returning to Miami on March 29. The cruise raises funds to help breast cancer patients and survivors, their families, and caregivers through Denise’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s Foundation, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Assistance in Healthcare, a charitable foundation headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Open to the public, the cruise is offered to men and women who are currently receiving breast cancer treatments, breast cancer survivors, caretakers, families, friends, and anyone who simply wishes to enjoy a relaxing vacation knowing they are, at the same time, helping individuals who are coping with cancer. Activities include a welcome cocktail party, workshops, guest speakers, and other special group functions, with free time for enjoying the tropics. Fares start at $410 for an inside cabin, $450 for an ocean view, and $699 for a balcony. Prices are per person based on double occupancy, and include cruise fare, meals, group activities, port charges and fees. Reservations are open until Oct. 25. Contact Denise Robinson at 845-592-1458 or visit www.denisescancersurvivorfoundation.org.
Family golf festival at Marriott properties
As an alternative to playing 18 holes, golfers of all ages and abilities are invited to join their family members and experience “family togetherness on the links.” Marriott Golf is celebrating its 5th Annual International Family Golf Festival program, a year-long series of one-day family golf events taking place at Marriott Golf-managed destinations throughout the world. The program, which encourages parents and children to learn and play the game together, invites families to Marriott Golf properties for an afternoon of free golf instruction, clinics, activities, interactive golf games, family golf programs, chances to win prizes, and more. In addition, after 3 p.m., families and children can play golf for free as part of Marriott Golf’s “Kids Golf-4-Free” program. Florida properties participating in the 2012 Family Golf Festival include The Rookery at Marco (Aug. 18) and Falcon’s Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee (Oct. 20). Visit www.marriottgolf.com.
Celebrations in South Walton
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties of Miramar Beach in South Walton is currently offering a special Celebration Vacation package for travelers who have a reason to celebrate, whether it’s a milestone birthday, anniversary, graduation or a reunion of family and friends. Newman-Dailey has partnered with Table Five to offer a chef-prepared meal right in the diners’ vacation rental. To capture the special memories, Newman-Dailey has also partnered with Steve Wells Photography to offer guests a one-hour photography session. Package is valid at least through the end of summer. Visit http://www.destinvacation.com/Destin-Deals/CELEBR8/.
The Westin Playa Bonita in Panama is featuring a Stay 5, Pay 4 deal. Guests who book four nights get their fifth night free, plus complimentary daily breakfast, $75 food and beverage credit and room upgrade with the Sunsational Savings offer. Starting rates, normally $300 per night, drop to $210 per night in the off-season. The offer is valid through Dec. 31 (five-night minimum stay is required, and the offer is based on availability). Promotional code is SNFREE. Visit www.westinplayabonita.com.
Summer concerts in Maitland
The Art & History Museum of Maitland is celebrating the season with a summer concert series on the second Friday of each month through September. On the agenda are music, poetry, art and food truck fare with concerts starting at 7 p.m. Admission is $3. Visit www.artandhistory.org.
St. Lucia summer specials
Bay Gardens Resorts in St. Lucia (Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa, Bay Gardens Hotel and Bay Gardens Inn) are offering a variety of summer packages. Among the offerings is the Summer Loving Package, a romance program, available at all three Bay Gardens Resorts properties. This package reflects a savings of up to 36 percent and includes accommodations for four nights, with a one-way transfer from the airport and a welcome cocktail upon arrival; daily breakfast; day trip to Pigeon Island with a picnic lunch; dinner for two; couples massage at La Mer Spa. Cost at the Bay Gardens Inn & Bay Gardens Hotel is $899 based on double occupancy in a superior room; at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa pricetag is $1,299 based on double occupancy in a one-bedroom pool view suite. Family and adventure packages are also available. All packages exclude taxes and service charges. Packages and special offers cannot be combined with any other offers online. Guests at the Bay Gardens Hotel and Bay Gardens Inn have access to Reduit Beach through Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa and may also enjoy the Resort’s amenities such as La Mer Spa, Dive Shop, water sports and the restaurants by reservation. Visit www.baygardensresorts.com.
Florida residents’ special at La Nouba in Orlando
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney West Side in Orlando has announced a special offer for Florida residents and Cirque Club members to select performances now through Aug. 25. Florida residents and Cirque Club members can purchase tickets in Category 2 at 35 percent off the regular price. Discounted tickets are $57.85 for adults and $46.80 for children (plus tax) for performances Tuesdays through Saturdays, now through Aug. 25. Tickets are available by phone at 407-939-7328 or at the box office located on the plaza level of the theater. Cirque Club members can buy online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/lanouba (go to the offers page). La Nouba’s regular performances schedule is Tuesdays through Saturdays at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The theater is dark Sundays, Mondays and select times throughout the year.
Adding value to a Boca Raton stay
The Boca Raton Resort & Club is featuring a value-added plan this summer called Boca Bonus that all guests can enjoy. Now through Oct. 8, guests can add a layer of great savings by booking any available package and adding the Boca Bonus. Any leisure reservation, regardless of rates and/or promotions, qualifies for Boca Bonus extras: complimentary upgrade on arrival (based on availability) valued up to $125; complimentary breakfast for kids aged 12 and younger with paying adult at Palm Court or SeaGrille (limit two children per room); complimentary use golf greens fees (cart fees apply); complimentary use of the tennis facilities; complimentary welcome cocktails for two. Visit www.bocaresort.com.
New Fantasyland grand opening set at Disney World
Disney has announced the grand opening of the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom will take place on Dec. 6. Attractions included in the opening are Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid, a "dark ride" that takes guests "under the sea with the beloved character;" Ariel’s Grotto for meet-and-greets with the Little Mermaid; and some featured themed to the "Beauty and the Beast" animated film including the Be Our Guest Restaurant; Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts. Previews of these attractions begin on Nov. 19. Earlier this year, the Storybook Circus with attractions including Dumbo, the Flying Elephant, opened to visitors and still on the horizon for the New Fantasyland are the Princess Fairtytale Hall in 2013 and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in 2014. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
And new entertainment complex to open at Downtown Disney
Splitsville, America’s Bowling Alley, is slated to open at Downtown Disney West Side this fall. Splitsville’s 50,000 square feet, two-story location will have 30 lanes separated into several clusters. It also will boast billiard tables, live entertainment, a balcony and outdoor seating. Splitsville will also greet guests with upscale sushi bars, plush booths and dynamic decor overlooking the bowling lanes. Menu items will include hand-tossed pizza, fresh-rolled sushi, grilled mahi-mahi with "Voodoo" shrimp and hand-cut filets as well as alley-classics such as cheeseburgers and crinkle-cut fries served right at the lane. Visit www.splitsvillelanes.com.
Stay more, save more at Florida resorts
Those looking to get the last few minutes of summer in at a savings may wish to check out the Stay More Save More getaway at Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels Florida Collection. The offer, valid now until Sept. 30, rewards guests who stay longer at One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, Marenas Beach Resort, Costa d’Este Beach Resort, Villas of Grand Cypress or Naples Bay Resort. Guests will receive 10 percent off their entire stay of two nights or more; 20 percent off their entire stay of three nights or more and 30 percent off their entire stay of four nights or more. Rates at ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa in Bal Harbour start at $251 and can be reserved at http://bit.ly/T4GjT6. Marenas Beach Resort & Spa located in Sunny Isles offers rates starting at $159 (visit http://bit.ly/OLpXhp). Rates at Costa d’Este in Vero Beach start at $179 and can be reserved at http://bit.ly/OLqpME. Rates at the Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando start at $109 and can be reserved at http://bit.ly/RYKZHO. Rates at the Naples Bay Resort in Naples start at $159 and a getaway can be booked at http://bit.ly/NZUmKM. The fine print: offer is valid on new reservations made from now through Sept. 30, for travel through Sept. 30. Offer is not valid in unison with other special offers or promotions. Penalty of one night is applied to early departures. Offer is subject to availability, taxes and resort fees; not applicable for existing or group reservations or combinable with other offers and packages; blackout days may apply.
Bailing out traveling families in Fort Lauderdale
Newly released 2010 survey results show that the recession has reverted the median net worth for U.S. families back to 1992 levels. In response, one South Florida hotel is offering to bail families out of their traveling financial woes. The Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale has launched a deal the "Family Bailout" offer, available through Sept. 20 and featuring rates starting at $92; a $92 food and beverage credit to use at the hotel’s various dining venues; and 50 percent off valet parking. The offer is based on a minimum four-night stay. Visit www.riversidehotel.com and click the Packages & Promotions tab, then enter the access code 9250 or log on to https://booking.ihotelier.com/istay/istay.jsp?HotelID=15542&ProdID=438646. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. Offer applies to new bookings only, is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other promotions. Hotel cancellation policies apply.
Amelia Island BOGO
Among five Amelia Island accommodators featuring a Buy One, Get One (BOGO) offer available through August is the Amelia Island Beach Hotel (www.ameliaislandbeachhotel.com, 904-277-2300). Guests who book a Sunday night stay at this and any of the five participating properties will receive a Monday night stay for free. For additional offer information, visit www.ameliaisland.com/BOGO. BOGO offer valid at participating properties through August (excluding holidays). Payment may be due at time of booking with no refunds, changes or cancellations allowed. Some blackout dates or other restrictions may apply. Offer may not be combined with any other offer. Check with individual properties for terms and conditions before booking. Contact individual properties by phone to book.
Orlando summer offer
Rosen Plaza hotel on International Drive in Orlando is featuring a Summer Staytacular offer. Guests who book two consecutive nights at Rosen Plaza between now and Sept. 7 will receive their third consecutive night free. Package guests will be among the first to enjoy a new menu with summertime healthy dining options at the hotel's casual fine dining restaurant Jack’s Place. The menu supplements the current menu and features seasonal favorites created by the hotel's culinary team. For more information or to book the Summer Staytacular offer, call 800-627-8258 and mention the word LOCAL. The Summer Staytacular offer is based on regular rack rates and based on availability; blackout dates may apply. This offer does not apply to existing reservations and is not valid for groups, citywide conventions or in conjunction with any other offer or discount.
Specials for teachers
School’s out and teachers and educators are invited to take advantage of the following offers (valid school I.D. or pay stub and photo I.D. must be presented):
-- The Marco Island Marriott (www.marcoislandmarriott.com)
is offering school employees 20 percent off lowest retail rate on Tropical Resort Guest Room for stays Sunday thru Thursday. Rates start at $151 per night. Promo Code is W8Z.
-- The Jupiter Beach Resort (www.jupiterbeachresort.com) is featuring 20 percent off best available rate plus breakfast for two adults to school employees. They also receive 20 percent off spa treatments and 50 percent off valet parking. Promotional code is MKTEDU
-- San Juan Marriott Resort (www.marriottsanjuan.com) is offering teachers and educators 25 percent off all reservations (rates from $149 to $243). Promotional code is SUM.
Endless summer in Fort Lauderdale
The Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale is featuring the "Endless Summer" package, starting at $269 per night. The package includes up to a $50 daily resort credit, which can be used towards on-property food and beverage, spa treatments and more. In addition, guests who book the package will receive a complimentary room upgrade (based on availability). The deal is available to book through Sept. 9 for travel between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30. Visit www.marriottharborbeach.com and use promo code ZX0. Blackout dates apply.
Fourth night discount in Naples during August
To mark National Family Fun Month (August 2012), the Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples is offering the chance to add a fourth night to the Inn’s Naples Family Adventure package for $59. Starting at $200 per night, the three-night package includes several meals, beach toys and admission to some of the area’s family-friendly attractions. The package includes accommodations; in-room snack basket tickets to the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens; a cruise aboard the Double Sunshine and a family dinner at Riverwalk; two double scoop ice cream waffle cones at Regina’s; pizza dinner with sodas at Café Luna; admission to the Botanical Gardens, which includes interactive Children's Garden featuring tree houses, a butterfly garden, and more; beach toys to enjoy at the nearby Gulf of Mexico; and courtesy transportation to the beach and beach chair rental. Visit www.innonfifth.com. Package prices vary by season and do not include tax or gratuity.
Reservations are based on availability. Package rates are not available on certain holiday weekends. To receive the fourth night for $59, the stay must take place in August.
Free summer nights on Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and the Bradenton area are inviting summer visitors to extend their vacations with free nights at 10 properties. As part of the Your Summer, Your Way program, other island and mainland accommodations are also offering a variety of discounts, including 25 percent off weekly rentals, Florida resident rates and cash discounts. Visit www.AMILBK.com/Deals for all offers and complete details.
Package on Fort Lauderdale Beach -- The Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel invites guys and their ladies to let loose this sunny season and head to Fort Lauderdale for an "Everyone's Invited Escape," Starting at $548 for two nights the program is valid now through Oct. 15. Program features for couples include Battle of the Sexes beach volleyball, margarita-making lessons dinner at Dos Caminos, and reserved umbrellas and beach chairs. For gals, the package includes water taxi tickets for a day of shopping at the Galleria and tickets to the Museum of Art. For guys, features include a round of golf at the Diplomat Golf & Country Club and an Aloha Watersports wave runner rental. Call 888-627-7109 and use rate code GETAWAY.
Little River Band to headline Amelia Island's Southern Tailgate Cook-off -- The Australian rock band Little River Band is scheduled to headline the musical entertainment at the Third Annual Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off, Aug. 24-25, on Amelia Island. The group will perform Saturday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. on Main Beach, offering new arrangements as well as classic hits. The Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off is a free, two-day event on Amelia Island, offering live entertainment, and barbeque from some of the top competitors in the country. The event features more than 50 professional and backyard (amateur) teams competing for more than $20,000 in prize money and trophies. Visit www.gstailgatecookoff.com.
New overland programs -- Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises is featuring a collection of 14 optional mid-voyage land adventures, nearly half of which are new that will enable World Cruise 2013 guests aboard the Silver Whisper to spend more time discovering the culture, heritage and uniqueness of the exotic destinations they will visit. Each of the unique overland extensions includes deluxe accommodations (if overnight stays are required), porterage, all transfers, sightseeing and some meals. Prices range from $999 to $7,999 per person, based on double occupancy. Among the new programs is an "Outback Odyssey" that ventures into one of Australia's most remote areas, famous for its rugged beauty and one of the country's most enduring symbols, Ayers Rock, shrouded in myths and legends. This five-day/four-night program is offered from Adelaide on February 8. For more information and complete details on the full collection of World Cruise overland tours visit www.Silversea.com/worldcruise2013/landadventures. Fares start at $49,999 (per person, double occupancy) for the full 115-day 2013 World Cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale departing on Jan. 4, and shorter segments are available.
For Beatles' fans -- The fourth annual Cruise for Beatles Fans (formerly known as the Beatles Tribute Cruises) has put together another cast of Beatles friends and musicians to entertain on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas sailing from Fort Lauderdale on March 3 for seven nights. The cruise will make stops in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas. The sailing will feature private concerts, question and answer sessions and picture and autograph sessions with special Beatles guests, Beatles Trivia, Name That Tune contests and more. Special Beatles guests include Mark Hudson, a Grammy Award winner and Ringo Starr's producer; Joey Molland, guitarist for the Apple band "Badfinger" that put out such memorable hits as "Day by Day", and "Come and Get It" (written and produced by Paul McCartney); and Billy J. Kramer, the lead singer of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, one of Brian Epstein's biggest bands (besides the Beatles) and had hits with a number of Lennon/McCartney tunes like "Do You Want To Know A Secret." Visit http://www.MusicInMocean.com.
For art lovers in Key West -- An eclectic pop up gallery is enticing art lovers in Key West. Located in the former Fast Buck Freddie's emporium at the corner of Duval and Fleming streets, the cooperative gallery features oils, watercolors, sculpture, mixed media, fine art photography and more. Within the large high-ceilinged space are displays of artistry from Key West's well-known Gallery on Greene, Harrison Gallery, Joy Gallery and Lucky Street Gallery as well as individual artists Eric Anfinson, Carlos Cuba, Martha DePoo, Alan Kennish and Sherry Tewell. The gallery was the brainchild of longtime arts advocate and philanthropist Tony Falcone, founder of Fast Buck Freddie's boutique department store. A Key West landmark for more than 35 years, the store was lauded for strikingly designed and often subtly humorous -- window displays that rivaled those of upscale New York and Chicago department stores. When Falcone closed the store earlier this year, he made the space available to Florida Keys art galleries and artists for a group showcase until he selects a long-term tenant for the building. Fast Buck Freddie's Pop Up Art Gallery, located at 500 Duval St., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. Visit www.facebook.com/FastBuckFreddiesPopUpArtGallery.
Accolade for South Beach boutique hotel -- The Angler's Boutique Resort on South Beach has been awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence for 2012. The property, on 660 Washington Avenue in the heart of the Art Deco district, has an urban tropical feel and 660 At The Angler's restaurant, particularly known for its Sunday brunches. For information, visit www.theanglersresort.com.
Pampering package in Delray Beach -- The Delray Beach Marriott has a new Spoil Yourself Spa Package that includes partial ocean-view room, 50-minute Swedish Massage and 55-minute Essential Classic Facial. Guests can leave refreshed to go stroll Atlantic Avenue's shops, bistros, cafes and art galleries. Rates are from $289 and the package is valid through Dec. 15. Promotional Code is SPA. Visit http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pbidr-delray-beach-marriott/.
New restaurant in Orlando -- The Fifth, a new restaurant from The V Group (Vintage Lounge, Vixen Bar and NV Art Bar), has opened in downtown Orlando. Featuring comfort plates and desserts, the Fifth is open for lunch, dinner and late night, with access to the adjacent Vintage Lounge. Eclectic music is streamed daily, along with the music from Vintage's live DJs nightly. Reservations for dinner are available. Visit www.thefifthorlando.com.
Planning a trip to Canada? Virtual maps are available -- Mapmobility, creator of the MapArt brand Canada paper map products--is now offering virtual maps as a way to connect to a growing mobile consumer-base. The cartographic company will provide Canadian digital maps for consumer use on the iOS platform through Avenza's PDF Maps app. Through the app, users can navigate Canada without having to worry about losing reception due to cell tower proximity or high data roaming charges. The PDF Maps app is available in the iTunes App Store free of charge for personal use. Pricing of Mapmobility's maps range from $0.99 to $8.99. Visit www.mapmobility.com.
Activities, events, and savings in Orlando -- Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is presenting SummerBlast!, a schedule of special events, activities and programs to celebrate summer vacation. Now through Sept. 4, guests of Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek can participate in activities ranging from duck races, dive-in movie nights, arts-and-crafts and more, Guests can save up to 20 percent throughout the summer with Great Orlando Summer Getaway rates from $129 per night. Visit www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com.
Dog days of summer at four "furry" Florida resorts -- Benchmark Hospitality International's pet-friendly Florida hotels encourage guests to bring their furry friends along for the ride. Jet set pets can enjoy summer stays and special amenities at Naples Bay Resort & Spa in Naples; ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa in Bal Harbour (Miami Beach), Costa d'Este Beach Resort & Spa in Vero Beach; and Villas of Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando. Here are details on the programs:
Naples Bay Resort & Spa features the Fido-friendly U Nauti Dog escape that combines amenities for man and his best friend including accommodations in guestroom or upgrade to a suite; large pet bed for pet's use during their stay; food and water dish for pet's use throughout their stay; welcome amenity with Wagatha treats (5 oz), pet scoop mitts, "U Nauti Dog" pet bandana, list of nearby pet-friendly businesses, beaches, parks. Additionally, Naples Bay Resort has announced the opening of Fergie's Closet Doggie Boutique at the resort's retail shops. Offering everything a pampered pooch needs like Nylabone toys, dog apparel, life preserver vests, bling collars, no choke harnesses, Fabuleash leads, and of course, Doggles sunglasses. Rates start at $139 per room, per night, subject to availability, tax and resort fee. The resort does have a refundable pet deposit of $100 and guest must sign waiver at time of check in; size limit of pet up to 40 lbs. (larger at discretion of General Manager). Standard cancellation and deposit policies apply, not valid on group business. Visit www.naplesbayresort.com.
ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa features the Posh Pets Program with a Pawcierge to arrange any desired appointments or assist with directions to any location. Upon check-in, pet is escorted to room and provided with a plush pet bed, a place mat with food and water bowls, special treats and bottled water. The Posh Pet program also has a special pet menu with organic dishes and there's a turn down service for the pet. Every pet is a VIP (Very Important Pet) and is given a welcome letter and a special pet brochure that gives them all pertinent information (dog walking routes, parks, pet attractions, and veterinarians). Rates start at $329 with an additional non-refundable cleaning fee of $100 per room. Resort guests may maintain one (1) household pet in their guest room or suite. Dogs are limited no more than 25 pounds. Pets may not be in the public areas with the exception of when being walked. Pets may not be of an inconvenience to other guests. Visit www.oneluxuryhotels.com.
At Costa d'Este Beach Resort & Spa pets can "Party like a Pup Star." Pets along with their owners receive luxury accommodations that feature tile floors in case of muddy paws and amenities including a dog bed upon request and a welcome amenity treat; VIP (Very Important Pet) Gift Pet Travel Bag including two collapsible bowls (for food & water) a detachable case (for treats or waste bags) and two storage pockets; donation in guest's name to the Indian River County SPCA. The hotel's guest service staff can also help identify local dog walking, boarding and veterinary facilities. Costa d'Este Beach Resort welcomes dogs 45 pounds and under. Party Like A Pup Star starts at $225 weekends and $175 mid-week. Rates are subject to availability and room tax. The resort has a refundable pet deposit of $125 and guest must sign waiver at time of check in; size limit of pet up to 45 lbs (larger at discretion of General Manager). Standard cancellation and deposit policies apply, not valid for group business. Visit www.costadeste.com.
Villas of Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando offers 1,500 acres for a "walk in the park" for pets and their owners. With no elevators and lobbies to pass through, the villas offer all the comforts of home away from home with direct access to the outdoors and a two-mile nature path for long, leisurely walks. Villas of Grand Cypress welcomes dogs up to thirty pounds with a $150 per stay, non-refundable cleaning fee. Guests are welcome to bring up to two dogs per room. For the property's full pet policy and general information, visit www.grandcypress.com.
Playing like Poseidon on Hutchinson Island -- Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina is encouraging guests to partake in a vacation adventure filled with ocean-themed activities and a 65 percent savings this summer. The "Play Like Poseidon!" package, available to travelers who book and stay between June 1 and Sept. 30, the deal is based on a minimum two-night stay and includes rates starting at $189.95 per night. The package includes a $100 voucher for Treasure Coast Paddle to enjoy aquatic adventures via kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes and more; four complimentary tickets to The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center (each valued at $15) with hands-on interactions with marine life; and a $25 gas card. The package is valid through Sept. 30. Visit www.marriotthutchinsonisland.com and use the rate code U29. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Florida residents' offers at Orlando attractions -- Walt Disney World Resort is offering Florida residents After 2 p.m. Annual Passes for its water parks of Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. The passes are $60 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $48 for kids (ages 3-9). Visit www.disneyworld.com. Wet 'n Wild is also helping Floridians make a splash as it has lowered the price of Florida Residents Single Day Admission from $49.99 to $34. Visit www.wetnwildorlando.com. And if all that splashing around makes you hungry, Pirate's Dinner Adventure unveiled a new show on July 24, Camelot Knights (based on the legend of King Arthur and Lady Guinevere) that includes a three-course meal. Admission is $25.95 for Florida residents ($57.95 for non-Florida residents). Visit www.piratesdinneradventure.com.
And for Florida residents in South Beach -- The Angler's Boutique Resort in South Beach is offering Florida residents 15 percent off their rates, free valet parking and Wi-Fi, and a beach bag for the day with towels and waters. Offer is valid through Sept. 30 and must present Florida I.D. upon check-in. For reservations, call 305-534-9600.
New Disney debit card offers perks -- Chase has announced the launch of the new Disney's Visa Debit Card giving customers access to special Cardmember perks when visiting Walt Disney World and Disneyland and when shopping at DisneyStore.com and Disney Store locations. The card, which is available now, has no annual fee. Year-round perks include 10 percent off on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at DisneyStore.com and Disney Store locations and at select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland; access to a private location at Walt Disney World and Disneyland where Cardmembers can meet some of their favorite Disney Characters and receive a complimentary 5 x 7 photo; 10 percent off select dining locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland (meal period restrictions may apply); 20 percent off the non-discounted price of select guided tours; $50 onboard credit when Cardmembers pay for their Disney Cruise Line vacation in full with their Disney's Visa Card and mention this offer; and access to a dedicated toll-free customer service phone number. Visit www.DisneyDebit.com/Perks.
For adventurers and lovers of the outdoors -- Rescue Bands, 'paracord' (parachute cord) safety accessories may come in handy for adventurers and for those seeking general outdoor safety in an emergency situation. Rescue Bands combine adornment, ingenuity and a parachute cord to create a multi-functional accessory that can turn into a life-saving rope or tourniquet. Designed as a bracelet in a variety of colors or as a key chain, Rescue Bands are handmade in Tampa. When unraveled, they can hold up to 550 pounds of weight. "Glo" is one of the latest styles that comes with a clip to attach to a bag or backpack and LED light that glows in the dark. Price of Rescue Bands ranges from $8.95 to $35. Visit www.rescuebands.com.
Summer savings on Miami Beach -- Eden Roc Renaissance, overlooking Miami Beach, invites guests to celebrate the summer with Suntastic Savings. The offer starts at $219 per night including a $50 daily resort credit and is available now through Sept. 30. Promotional rates are valid for reservations booked by Sept. 7, for stays through Sept. 30. Promotional code is SUM. Offer is not applicable to groups of ten or more. Credit cannot be applied to room rate or be redeemed for cash. A limited number of rooms are available and blackout dates or other restrictions may apply. Visit www.edenrocmiami.com.
Free transportation in Daytona Beach Shores -- The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores is providing complimentary transportation services for guests at the resort. A stretch limo and two 14-passenger vans are available to transfer resort guests to and from the Daytona International Airport, and between a variety of area locations, including the LPGA golf courses, Daytona International Speedway and Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, among others. Guests may also arrange transportation to nearby restaurants, entertainment and shopping districts. Visit www.ShoresResort.com.
Suite deal in South Florida -- Aqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach has announced a "3 For 2 Suite Deal" whereby guests who book a suite receive a complimentary third night stay at the oceanfront property in South Florida. Travel dates are between Aug. 20 and Oct. 31. In addition to a complimentary third night stay, guests receive luxury oceanfront accommodation, complimentary internet access, daily $40 body or facial spa treatment credit for up to two adults at Acqualina Spa by ESPA, and complimentary access to Acqualina's marine biology-inspired AquaMarine Children's Program. Available on all of Acqualina's richly appointed suites, the deal is also applicable for the resort's elegant Oceanfront Rooms. Rates begin at $575 per night for an oceanfront room and range to $1700 per night for a deluxe two-bedroom oceanfront suite. Visit http://www.acqualinaresort.com/rooms-suites/special-packages/.
Star Trek exhibition in Orlando -- "Star Trek: The Exhibition" opened at the EMS Exhibition & Event Center on 7220 International Drive in Orlando with sets, costumes, museum pieces and props from all five Star Trek television series and 11 Star Trek feature films, including the 2009 blockbuster film directed by J. J. Abrams. Admission price is $15.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 5-12. A combo-ticket for Star Trek: The Exhibition and CSI: The Experience, located in the same building, is $29.95 for adults and $18.95 for children ages 5-12. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is expected to remain there for 18 months to two years. Visit www.startrektheexhibition.com.
Revamped cruise and travel retailer website with interactive features -- In conjunction with the company's 20th anniversary, CruiseOne recently unveiled today a revamped website with new interactive features, to provide an improved online experience. The site now offers an enhanced "Cruise Finder" search tool, a new shopping process and the creative display of cruise line and resort promotions. Visit www.CruiseOne.com.
New shore programs on Carnival Breeze -- More than 180 different optional shore excursions are available to guests of the new Carnival Breeze during the ship's inaugural season in Europe until October 25. The wide-ranging excursions provide Carnival Breeze guests with a variety of unforgettable landside experiences, from guided tours of famous museums and centuries-old architectural marvels to touring the European countryside and savoring local cuisine and wine. Guests can also enjoy more active pursuits such as exploring dormant volcanoes, cycling or kayaking along a coastline. Among the offerings is a Three Island Yacht Cruise (Dubrovnik, Croatia) that features island-hopping aboard a luxury yacht; and Vatican Gardens, St. Peter's & Rome (Civitavecchia, Italy), a private 10-hour tour. Visit www.carnival.com.
Swashbuckling getaway in Delray Beach -- Crane's BeachHouse Hotel & Tiki Bar in Delray Beach has announced a special summer swashbuckling getaway, including free passes to the Pirates, Myths & Legends exhibition at the Museum of Art & American Culture at Old School Square in downtown Delray Beach. The Pirate's Treasure Getaway package at Crane's BeachHouse Hotel includes two-night, three-day accommodations for a family of four in a luxury suite with full kitchen. Starting at $369 plus tax, this special pirate-themed vacation package includes four free passes (two adults, two children) to Ahoy Maitz, the family-friendly and interactive Pirates & Treasures exhibition at the Museum of Art & American Culture at Old School Square, featuring works by artist Don Maitz. Also included is the chance to man the water cannons during a Delray Yacht Cruise, with a photo opportunity for the whole family; a $50 credit for dining at Deck84 Waterside Restaurant, a special Treasure Chest at hotel sign-in, including DVD movie rentals, snack pack and welcome gift and complimentary breakfast, parking & WiFi. The offer is based on availability and some restrictions and blackout dates apply. The offer is non-refundable and for new reservations only. Additional room nights are available for room only and rates vary based on dates of travel. Offer is valid for travel July 1-Oct. 28. Additional taxes and fees may be applicable. Package value is more than $500. Visit www.cranesbeachhouse.com.
Celebrating the Olympics in Orlando -- The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando is celebrating the summer games with a special event in the Dolphin lobby featuring the broadcast of the opening ceremonies in London displayed on large screen televisions, complimentary food and beverage and an opportunity to meet with past summer games' medal winners. The event will take place Friday, July 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is open to hotel guests and the general public. On hand to interact, take photos and sign autographs with guests will be medalists Wendy Bruce-Martin ('92 gymnast), Scott Johnson ('84 and '88 gymnast) and Fred Tyler ('72 swimmer). "Gold medal" cookies, British-themed edible treats and recreational activities for kids will all be part of the festivities. Visit www.swandolphin.com/summergames. (Reservations are not required.).
Water-related summer camps in Key Largo -- Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo offers a Summer Camps series including fishing, sailing and diving through August. Day or week-long programs are taught by professional and certified instructors. Kids can take advantage of nature's classroom onboard skiffs and sailboats as they discover techniques to improve skills in their favorite water activity. Many camps at Ocean Reef Club offer overnight options for an additional cost, which includes dinner, evening activities and accommodations in dormitory housing with their peers. Parents are also invited to partake in the summer fun while the kids are enrolled in camp with accommodations at the oceanfront Inn. Access to the many activities and facilities that Ocean Reef members enjoy is also available. Among the summer camp offerings is the Orvis Fly Fishing Camp, five days of lessons on essential techniques. Practicing from kayaks, flat skiffs and offshore reef boats, anglers ages 12 to 16 years will perfect their fly cast, fish fighting methods, and learn how to safely handle and release fish alongside Orvis Instructors. From land they will learn to tie essential knots and tie, select and fish flies. The Orvis Fly Fishing Camp starts at $1,295 and is offered July 30 through Aug. 3. Visit www.oceanreef.com.
Palm Beach special -- The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club in Palm Beach is featuring a "Divorce Party: The Musical" package July 10 through Aug. 19. Before or after taking in "Divorce Party: The Musical" at The Kravis Center, guests can check out the summer sales on Worth Avenue, steps away from the hotel, and experience Palm Beach's golden sands with chauffeured car service to the Brazilian Court's private Beach Club. There is a maximum of two people per package; 50 percent deposit required upon booking; theater seats limited to Best Available. There is a 72-hour cancellation policy to avoid 100 percent charge. Parking is included. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Everyone's favorite crustacean celebrated on Panama City Beach -- Schooners on Panama City Beach will host the 23rd Annual Lobster Festival & Tournament, known as "The Largest Lobster Festival in Florida" on Sept. 13-16. The Lobster Tournament divers will be competing in a variety of categories including Spiny lobster, Shovelnose lobster and Big 6. Weigh-ins begin Saturday, Sept. 15 and end Sunday, Sept. 16, when the grand prizes will be awarded and spectators enjoy a Lobster Feast. A festival highlight is the popular Sand Sculpting Contest is now in its 14th year taking place on the beach behind Schooners on Saturday. Visit www.schooners.com.
"Triple Play Package" in Miami -- The Hotel Urbano at Brickell in Miami is featuring a "Triple Play Package" summer travel deal with rates starting at $79 per night. By booking the "Triple Play Package," travelers can receive their third night free plus three free beers offered at the Bistro Urbano bar. Guests who present their Miami Marlins winning ticket stubs to the hotel staff can also receive Hotel Urbano's "Miami Friends & Family Rate" for booking a discounted return visit to this chic Miami boutique. As an added bonus, hotel guests can now enjoy free roundtrip transportation to/from the Miami Marlins Stadium on game days via the new City of Miami Trolley. With Hotel Urbano situated on its regular route, the Brickell Biscayne Trolley connects Downtown Miami with free rides every 15 minutes to major area attractions including stops at the Mary Brickell Village, Bayfront Park, Bayside, the Adrienne Arscht Center, the American Airlines Arena, the Miami Convention Center and more. During their stay, sports fans can relax at Hotel Urbano's outdoor swimming pool and poolside bar and lounge complete with flat screen televisions for watching the latest Miami sports games. The package is valid for new bookings made on all room categories for stays of at least two consecutive nights now through Sept. 30. The travel offer includes a free third night hotel stay as well as three free domestic beers provided by the hotel's Bistro Urbano bar, per booking. Guests who book this package and attend a baseball game won by the Miami Marlins can present their Marlins Park game day ticket stub to the hotel staff, to receive Hotel Urbano's "Miami Friends & Family Rate" to book a discounted future visit to the hotel. Promotion code is "Marlins." The offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other hotel offer and is not applicable for groups. Visit www.HotelUrbano.com.
New for anglers on Amelia Island -- Charter Fishing with Captain Russell Tharin has a new 2012 Skeeter ZX 24v vessel that can accommodate up to four anglers. Capt. Russell is on the Skeeter Boat Pro Staff Team and his new Skeeter is powered by a 300 V6 Yamaha Outboard. The boat has such features as the 101 Minn Kota trolling motor, dual Power Poles, Humminbird sonar with side scan imaging and GPS. For rates and details, visit www.flyfishingameliaisland.com.
Mall expansion in Orlando -- The Florida Mall will open an array of new stores and dining options in addition to existing tenant expansions and relocations. Wasabi Sushi- Modern Japanese Cuisine, Pinkberry, iFix and Repair and Signature Day Spa will join The Florida Mall tenant lineup this year. Victoria's Secret is undergoing an expansion and New York & Company and Clarks have relocated. Along with the addition of new stores, a transformation of the Center Court area, just outside of the Food Court is planned. The area will be modernized and re-designed to provide a space for comfort, relaxation and customer service. Visit www.thefloridamall.com.
St. Lucia sojourn -- Guests at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa don't have to choose between relaxation and adventure. This beachfront boutique resort in St. Lucia offers luxurious accommodations located just steps from--or right on--the beach, as well as expert concierge service to arrange a variety of island activities, including a Piton Trek to climb to the peak of the Gros Piton, a World Heritage Site, with a guide and a rainforest zipline adventure. Room rates at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa begin at $385 per night through Dec. 22, based on double occupancy. Visit www.CalabashCove.com.
Minimum requirements for summer vacation home rentals -- All Star Vacation Homes is offering two-three night stays available for specific dates and select vacation homes, town homes and condos through August. The company is waiving the minimum requirements to book a vacation home, inviting guests to reserve a short summer getaway. Guests can choose from a list of vacation homes, town homes and condos that are available for the promotion from All Star's collection. Options range from three-bedroom condos to nine-bedroom vacation homes with amenities including private pools and spas, multiple master bedrooms, game rooms, home theaters, themed bedrooms, full kitchens and more located within 6 miles of Disney World. To view a list of vacation homes and condos offering two-three night stays, visit www.AllStarVacationHomes.com/orlando-vacation-rental-specials.asp for available dates. This offer is only valid on vacation homes, town homes and condos listed and for select dates. Offer is not valid for Lighthouse Key Resort & Spa and cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. All dates are subject to availability. Cleaning and processing fees apply.
Can't cross the pond? Enjoy Olympics in style in Palm Beach -- The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club in Palm Beach is featuring Summer Games, Golden Sands, available now through Oct. 31, 2012, starting at $449/night. The program offers a choice of "Olympic-style Games": sailing, boating, biking, kayaking, tennis and swimming; British-inspired dishes at Café Boulud; and an American flag beach towel. Price is starting rate and pricing is subject to activity and room type availability. Must be booked at least 14 days in advance; 50 percent deposit, non-refundable is required. Cancellation policy is 14 days prior to arrival to avoid 100 percent charge. Beverages, taxes and gratuity are not included and transportation to activities is not included. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Bird's eye views of Amelia Island -- Sky Coast Adventures is offering helicopter tours of Amelia Island, Cumberland Island and Tiger Island. Departing from McGill Aviation, Sky Coast Adventures offers 10- to 15-minute tours for $85 per person and 15- to 20-minute tours for $130 per person. Tours are limited to three passengers and offer a unique way to experience the scenery of Amelia Island. Visit www.skycoastadventures.com.
New activities and promotions in Bonaventure -- Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center and Spa has announced the launch of new activities and promotions for families. Among them is the Free Time promotion in which guests stay two nights and get a third night free. Nightly rates start at $109 per night, and this promotion additionally includes complimentary daily breakfast for two and 2 p.m. late checkout. The Free Time promotion is valid for stays now through Dec/ 30, 2012, and guests can reserve accommodations with offer code FRTIME. Visit www.bonaventure.hyatt.com.
Don't have to miss out on the Olympics while at sea -- Cunard Line will air live coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games on board Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth so sports enthusiasts can catch all of the action while taking a cruise vacation this summer. Guests traveling between July 27 and Aug. 12 will be able to enjoy extensive coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games, including rowing, athletics, diving, gymnastics, cycling, swimming and basketball programming, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. All coverage will be shown live in public areas on board, and is satellite dependent. Visit www.cunard.com.
Amelia Island BOGO -- Five Amelia Island accommodators have created a Buy One, Get One (BOGO) offer available through August. Guests who book a Sunday night stay at any of the five participating properties will receive a Monday night stay for free. The BOGO offer is available at the following Amelia Island hotels: Amelia Hotel at the Beach www.ameliahotel.com, 877- 263-5428; Days Inn & Suites at the Beach www.ameliaislandbeachhotel.com, 904- 277-2300; Hampton Inn at Fernandina Beach www.ameliaislandhamptoninn.com, 800-426-7866; Harbor Front Hampton Inn & Suites www.hamptoninnameliaisland.com, 800-426-7866; and Seaside Amelia Inn www.seasideameliainn.com, 904-206-5300. Additional information is available at www.ameliaisland.com/BOGO. BOGO offer valid at participating properties through August (excluding holidays). Payment may be due at time of booking with no refunds, changes or cancellations allowed. Some blackout dates or other restrictions may apply. Offer may not be combined with any other offer. Check with individual properties for terms and conditions before booking. Contact individual properties by phone to book.
Fresh look for ship -- Regent Seven Seas' Cruises' 490-guest, all-suite Seven Seas Navigator recently received a renovation that includes the redecoration of the ship's eight Grand Suites and Master Suites and the debut of Sette Mari at La Veranda, an intimate Italian dining experience offering both buffet and a la carte service. Additionally, the line has rolled out new perks and privileges for concierge-level and above suites that include priority shore excursion and restaurant reservations and new amenities such as coffeemakers. New concierge-level amenities and perks are also available fleet wide on Regent Seven Seas Cruises' all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager. All suites aboard Seven Seas Navigator have been outfitted with new teak on the ship's balconies. The ship's popular breakfast and lunch buffet venue, La Veranda, has been re-purposed to create Sette Mari at La Veranda offering an extensive menu of authentic antipasti and Italian specialty dishes available from the buffet and also cooked to order. Al fresco dining is also available. Prime 7, the ship's American-style steakhouse, has been enlarged to accommodate 70 guests and features a new contemporary sculpture at its entrance. The popular Galileo Lounge has also been redecorated. As part of the ship's new look, ultra-plush carpeting has been installed throughout the public spaces and on Deck 12 guests will find updated saunas at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Visit www.RSSC.com.
Day spa options in the Florida Keys -- Looking for a spa break in the Keys? Here are a few options: The Caribbean Spa at the Pier House Resort in Key West boasts nine treatment rooms for experiences such as Caribbean Coma massages, Milk and Honey body treatments, mud wraps and facials. A hair and nail salon also is on site. Visit www.pierhouse.com.
In Marathon, Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort offers guests a range of therapies including custom herbal scrubs and poultices, facial and body masks and vibrational energy balancing. Visit www.tranquilitybay.com.
If your travels take you to Islamorada, an option is The Spa at Cheeca Lodge. It offers four massage rooms, two facial rooms, a wet room with a Vichy shower for scrubs and wraps, poolside cabanas and an ocean-side tiki hut for outdoor treatments. Visitors can indulge in a Vie Facial using Age Concept ingredients or the Phytomer Body Scrub combining seawater, seaweeds and marine plants for soft and supple skin. Visit www.cheeca.com.
New dining experience on Amelia Island -- The Hoyt House is offering a new eight-course Ultimate Dining Experience for two. The dinner includes a wine pairing and is served in the outdoor gazebo with candlelight and draping ivory sheers. The menu includes dishes such as Warm Fresh Mozzarella Crab Meat, and Shrimp & Smoked Salmon with a Fig Reduction. Cost is $459 plus tax and 18 percent gratuity. Only one dining experience is available per day and on limited dates throughout the month. Visit http://hoythouse.com/packages/ultimate-dining-experience.
Polk City attraction BOGO -- Fantasy of Flight is offering Florida residents buy one, get one free admission through Sept. 30 with proof of residency. Offer is not valid with any other offers or discounts. General admission is $28.95 for adults, $14.95 for youth (ages 6-12) and free for ages five and under. Visit www.fantasyofflight.com.
Tennis, anyone? -- Ranked as the No. 2 Tennis Resort on Florida's East Coast, and one of the Top 50 Tennis Resorts in the U.S. by Tennis magazine, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation recently announced a new partnership with Cliff Drysdale Tennis (CDT). Experts from CDT will now direct tennis clinics and personal lessons for resort guests and locals. Additionally, certified and award-winning Scott Colebourne, director of tennis, comes to Omni Amelia Island from the CDT. Go to www.omniameliaislandplantation.com for more information.
New dining option in Palm Beach -- Chef Daniel Boulud has opened Boulud Sud at Café Boulud at The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club in Palm Beach, a pop-up restaurant, which will be open until Sept. 2 and the property is offering a special hotel and dining package. The package for two includes a four-course Boulud Sud dinner highlighted by the flavors of the Mediterranean with a glass of rose per person, and luxurious accommodations. The Boulud Sud Dinner Package is available July 3-Sept. 2 and starts at $269 a night (excluding tax and cost of additional beverages). Starting rate is per room night plus tax. Additional beverages and tax on dinner are excluded. Additional nights are available without dinner included. Pricing is subject to season, activity and room type availability. Package is based on availability at time of booking. Dinner reservation time and date subject to availability and is the responsibility of the guest. Cancellation policy: Seven days prior to arrival to avoid one-night charge. Package is valid for single/double occupancy. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
For young explorers -- Young visitors to New York City's Museum Mile get a new perspective with two interactive books, Chet the Architect: Learn to draw New York City's Fifth Avenue Museum Mile ($14.95, including drawing board and pen), and Chet the Architect Shows You New York City's Museum Mile ($12.99). Written and illustrated by architectural designer Kathryn Koller, the books show how to identify and draw architectural details of nine museum buildings including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Both books are recommended for ages 4 and up and are published by Butterfly Artistic Media. Visit www.chetthearchitect.com.
Beachfinder app. -- Visit South Walton has unveiled its new U.S. Beach Finder app. which gives travelers real-time information, including weather forecasts, ocean conditions and more, for any beach in the United States. Smartphone users can also utilize the U.S. Beach Finder app to learn about the amenities found in South Walton's 15 beach neighborhoods, whether they're in the Northwest Florida coastal destination or not. The new app is available for Android-powered smartphones and the Apple iPhone. Android users can download the app by searching for U.S. Beach Finder on Google Play (previously Android Market). For additional information on all of Visit South Walton's offerings, visit www.VisitSouthWalton.com/South-Walton-To-Go.
Savings on longer voyages -- Oceania Cruises has introduced special savings and onboard amenities for travelers who book a 36-, 46- or 71-day Grand Voyage. Three spring itineraries masterfully blend popular ports with lesser¬ known locales in the Far East, South Pacific and Europe. Grand Voyage guests receive free round-trip air, complimentary prepaid gratuities, a $250 shipboard credit and savings of up to 68 percent off brochure rates. Among the Grand Voyages is a 71-day Beijing to Rome aboard the 684-guest departing on March 10, 2013. Fares start at $16,481 per person, based on double occupancy. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
New restaurant/lounge in Sunny Isles -- The Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles recently launched Bella Beach, an oceanfront culinary and leisure refuge that promises to transport South Floridians from Florida's Riviera to the Mediterranean. Bella Beach-goers are invited to lounge on plush daybeds and custom chaises while enjoying exquisite Mediterranean-styled bites like salmon caviar, spice-poached jumbo shrimp and mini Waygu burgers. An assortment of spirits, including an extensive champagne and wine selection is available. Bella Beach also features live entertainment on select days. Open daily to hotel and local guests, Visit www.bellabeachclub.com.
Americas and Exotics cruises for 2013-14 -- Princess Cruises has opened the books for its 2013-2014 Americas and Exotics cruises for booking, offering a variety of vacation options from close-to-home cruises to far-flung worldwide adventures. The season includes a new series of shorter cruises in the Caribbean and along the West Coast, the line's first year-round ship based in San Francisco, and the Caribbean debut of the new Royal Princess. Passengers can now book cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, West Coast, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, the South Pacific, Asia & Africa, Australia & New Zealand, as well as a 100-day World Cruise. In total, the line's 17 ships will sail on more than 400 cruises on 90 itineraries to 182 destinations around the globe. Among the firsts for the line: Princess will have a year-round ship based in San Francisco, giving the line two West Coast homeports, with an expanded schedule of cruising from California. Bay Area cruisers will now be able to sail aboard the extensively renovated Grand Princess throughout the year to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and on the line's popular California Coastal cruises, never before offered from San Francisco. Visit www.princess.com.