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Friday, December 17, 2010

Family Friendly Travel for the Holiday Season

Almost synonymous with holiday is family. After all, it is our familial ties that require us to show up to our least favorite aunt's house and actually stay for more than 15 minutes. But most people are even vocally more appreciative of their families and seemingly more aware of their worth during the holidays. After working year round for the same people that drive you a little crazy, a little R& R wouldn't hurt anyone. We've got three of the top family destinations giving you ample reason to be jolly this season.

Maui, Hawaii is a top ranked tourist dream in the Pacific Ocean. Home to natural beauties like its famous Haleakala volcano that attracts visitors morning and night as the sun rises and sets, few travelers want to pass up a trip to Hawaii. From morning to night there is something happening here: fine dining and tours, parties and shows. Varied tastes and interests are welcome and there is something for everyone. Out to sea travelers can enjoy scuba diving, whale-watching, or simply take in the scene. Those interested in an active night life will not be disappointed either - clubs, parties, or just meeting up for drinks is a popular past-time as well.

Another exotic location families might consider on their journey to a memorable holiday, especially those with young children or tweens, is the Galapagos Islands. Dozens of species of birds and large turtles inhabit the islands, making it a haven for nature lovers, scientists, and children who love to learn about animals. The shapes of the islands are beautiful and the diverse wildlife will keep your camera busy. Enjoying beautiful climate throughout the year with only two seasons -- dry and hot, humid seasons with lots of rain-- travelers find the winter months perfect timing to enjoy the Galapagos Islands.
Travelers who come in the winter will experience different animals and different animal behaviors than those at other times. December to May are perfect months for a trip to Galapagos.

Across the globe from is a land rich in history where ancient legends are just as real as modern fact - Egypt. Just as engaging for a family of any size or age, travelers can journey to Egypt for a different type of vacation. Visit tombs of powerful and wealthy kings that believed they could take their wealth and status with them to an afterlife, or cruise along the longest river in the world, the Nile. Remnants of the past are weaved into modern society for the Egyptians and they prefer it that way, proud and happy hosts of thousands of visitors every year.


Family travel presents unique challenges for travelers because the location has to be an environment that welcomes families and accommodates their special needs. But it also affords family-friendly destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Maui, and Egypt unique opportunities to provide entertainment, education, and excitement. These are perfect examples of places that should spark interest when planning your next family vacation - regardless of season. Consider boutique cruising as graduation gifts or for immediate family gatherings and group travel. Adventure, fun, and lifelong memories await.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Family Fun and The Amazon

There may be many things that attract a traveler to the Amazon Rain Forest and River. It could be that it comes in second only to the Nile River in length, or its variety and abundance of wildlife -- both within the river and throughout the rain forest. No matter the allure, travelers will not be disappointed. A great location for any traveler, especially family vacationers, the Amazon naturally offers a two-for-one adventure. The rain forest covers some 2.5 million miles and represents more than half of the total rain forests on the earth. Impressive attractions travelers can enjoy all at once.

Typical travelers of this location cannot be narrowed down to a specific persona. Many travelers want to personally experience the famous Amazon - one of nature's many wonders (also the topic of many nature broadcasts and travel channels). Other travelers have a thirst to experience life from a different perspective and want to understand cultures very different from their own. Travelers seeking adventure are a mainstay and in recent years the number of luxury travelers has increased. Tour operators, hotel and resort owners, and boutique cruise companies all anxiously prepare themselves to serve the needs of the many visitors that find themselves here. 

The Amazon Rain Forest is nothing short of amazing. Nicknamed the "Lungs of the Planet" as it produces a fifth of the world's oxygen, it is also the native roots of the famed toucan bird. While it is known to be the an abundant producer of natural life, it is also the source of many scientific studies for cancer and pharmaceutical remedies. Over 70% of plants with anticancer properties are found here. There are so many benefits the Amazon Rain Forest provides all of mankind, not just those looking for an unforgettable time.

Before visiting the Amazon, here are a few facts a savvy traveler would find interesting:
  1. It is the world's second longest river, some even argue that it may be the longest 
  2. The Mouth of the river or Delta is located in North eastern Brazil, originating from the Atlantic ocean 
  3. It alone can produce up to 20% of the amount of water that the rest of the world's rivers pour into the oceans 
  4. This river pours into smaller rivers in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil 
  5. The rain forest is home to over 3,000 edible fruits 
  6. Amazon natives are comprised of 215 ethnicities which speak 170 different languages 
The abundance of wildlife and beautiful terrain make this a perfect family vacation. Some estimates put the number of new species in this area at 20,000 while others say it is innumerable -- new species are always being found. From the flooding of this mighty river to the large stingrays that call it home, facts about the Amazon river are constantly growing as new discoveries are made. Cruising is a great option for a destination like this because of the type of location it is and a cruises ability to provide all the comforts of home -with the backdrop of the almighty Amazon. It also allows the traveler a true experience where the subject of travel is also a temporary home.

Travelers may enjoy the Amazon in many ways, including boutique cruises or chartering a group of 6 or more. There is no shortage of activities available to travelers and we encourage them to take advantage of our custom-made itineraries by contacting us.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Egypt and The Nile River with all the Bells and Whistles

Egypt exploration along the Nile River opens the door to adventure for travelers. Not only are they traveling along the worlds longest river that is also a major life source for countless people, but they also stand face-to-face with a society that built the most mysterious and marvelous structures, ever.

The Nile River is a major life source for Egypt, a mode of transportation for business and also an avenue to great relaxation for travelers. Cruise operators have found an inexhaustible resource to provide relaxation and serenity for travelers. Voyages can vary in length and interests as well. Visitors may visit local museums or take tours while others venture off to the visit ancient tombs of kings like one Osiris, a pharaoh believed to be the first resurrected person. Majestic temples in Luxor and the Great Sphinx in Giza also receive numerous visitors.

The pyramids make modern architects marvel for many reasons, including the weight and stacking of the stones. Each stone weighing 2 tons or more, leaves many questions about the processes employed for stacking and positioning each stone even modern technology has not answered. The Great Pyramid is the largest monument ever constructed.

The hieroglyphics and events they share tell a story all on their own. Layered with fascinating messages for their gods and beliefs of fallen Pharaohs, hieroglyphics provide an opening into the past from the ancient peoples own perspective. Travelers are always amazed at their ancient peoples beliefs and how it shaped every facet of their lives.

The warm climate and welcoming environment makes Egypt an excellent place to visit all year round, especially cooler months and holidays. Like other beautiful destinations around planet Earth, travelers will not be disappointed.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

A Traveler's Tipping Guide

The last thing you want to be concerned about after you have planned your perfect cruise is the sometimes complicated etiquette of tipping. How much to tip? Who do you tip? When do you tip? Some travelers may not even know that it is customary to leave tips at all if they are embarking on their first cruise.

While each country has different norms, cruise ship travelers are often made aware of their cruise boats policy beforehand. But what about the hotel you stay in before or after the cruise? Traveling should not be stressful and planning in advance leaves more time for what you really came to do - relax.

Hotels Editor Jeri Clausing for Travel Weekly explains that even she has had stress over tipping. While some hotels will make their policy known from the beginning, she concedes that it can be a difficult topic especially when traveling to countries where it is not expected or it is an insult to some who are above the tipping chain. She goes on to talk about the butler services making tipping an even more tricky subject that can only be cleared up by hotel policy. But Lisa Mirza Grotts, author of "A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette" has a simple answer for all those concerned with tipping "Whenever a service is performed of any kind, we need to tip."

Travelers are encouraged to consult with hotel policy if they have questions about tipping. But as you travel by ship, these questions are less important and your focus turns to appropriate tipping on cruise ships. Here are some guidelines on popular small ship cruises:

North America including Mexico cruise ship Safari Explorer leaves the issue of tipping entirely up to the traveler. It is a personal matter based on the discretion of the traveler, but typical gratuities for excellent service are 5-10% of the fare. Additionally, tips are shared equally by all yacht crew members.

The custom built Aqua cruise ship travels throughout the Amazon and staff is often asked about appropriate tipping etiquette for guides and crews. They always reply that the quality of the service should always determine the amount of any tip. Based on their experience, they recommend travelers leave $20-$30 per passenger, per day for the crew. This amount will be equally divided among all crew members. In addition, $7-$10 per passenger, per day should be given to tour guides. Again, these are suggestions and tips should reflect level of satisfaction with the service.

Litvinov, a luxury cruise ship that operates in Eastern Europe, and the River Royale boat that operates in Burgundy and Provence tell customers that gratuity is not included in their prices. However, it is customary for passengers to leave end-of-the-trip gratuities for the cruise director, tour managers, and crew, but amount is up to the discretion of the traveler and should reflect the travelers experience.

Discovery is a luxury-cruise boat that operates in Panama and staff appreciate travelers interest in tipping. While they encourage travelers to leave any amount they deem appropriate, their policy points to international guidelines of $100 - $130 per passenger for their 6-night cruise. Gratuities are divided evenly among all crew members and naturalist guides; there is even an envelope included to deposit the tip into.

Harmony G which operates in Greece and the Mediterranean offer another tip suggestion for passengers, acknowledging that it is customary to show appreciation for service to the crew. They concede that gratuities should be adjusted based on satisfaction but suggest an amount of 46-60 Euros per passenger.

Traveler's should not have anxiety before or during their vacations because of the complex and touchy issue of tipping. It is a common theme among all cruise ship operators that level of satisfaction be considered when leaving the tip. With a little planning in advance and knowledge of your cruise ships tipping guidelines, you can enjoy your cruise free from tipping stress.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Galapagos Islands -- A Feast for the Eyes

The Galapagos Islands, literally translated to mean the Island of Grand Tortoises is simply fascinating. Located just 1000 kilometers offshore from Ecuador and situated directly on the equator; it enjoys only two seasons but is home to several hundred species of animals. There is simply no place in the world as diverse in wildlife as these isles, as noted in the famous On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.

Many animals that call the islands home today are thought to have floated there and then later evolved to be completely different species than their ancestors. There are hundreds of species of fish, several bird species, giant tortoises, and the famous flora and fauna plants. These islands are so closely weaved into the fiber of mankind that ninety-seven percent of the land service has been designated as a national park with even some of the surrounding sea being protected as a marine reserve.

So what can we share about these beautiful islands that you may not already know?

  • There are 19 large islands and dozens of smaller ones but the largest part of the islands is under the sea!
  • Tortoises can grow up to 6 feet long and as large as 700 lbs.
  • This island had been discovered more than a couple of times before Ecuador finally claimed it as theirs.
  • It is sometimes difficult to see the islands from short distances because of the mist that covers them sometimes due to the unusually cold water for that part of the ocean.
  • There were no human inhabitants on the island but now some 30,000 people have settled there.
  • All wildlife coexists in harmony; reptiles can even be found resting among seals.
 
Galapagos Islands is a nature lovers dream adventure and a feast for the eyes. Though not diverse in plant species as one would think, the land formations, cool weather, and animals found here make this a dream destination for travelers. Flightless cormorants and pink flamingos are only two examples of the vast differences one can experience from one animal to the next.








There is literally no other place on planet earth similar to the Galapagos Islands!
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Fun in Maui

Warm. Exotic. Remote. Unforgettable. All these describe beautiful Maui -- one group of Hawaii's breathtaking islands-- especially this time of year. It is plentiful in luxury accommodations and activities, which are as varied as the thousands of people that visit throughout the year. Whether you like to hike, shop, jog, sun bathe, ski, or just take in the beautiful scenery, Maui is a great place to vacation. It is definitely more than another beach vacation as there is so much more than beaches here. Travelers and natives can visit the historic Haleakala National Park which is home to the 10,023-foot-high dormant volcano, also known as Maui's biggest natural attraction. Visitors usually arrive before dawn to watch the sun rise over the volcano crater, but the park is enjoyable any time of day.

Outdoor lovers can participate in other activities such as snorkeling, whale-watching or...just laying out on one of Maui's 80 beaches! If relaxation is the purpose of your trip, many resorts offer wellness packages and activities designed to help you forget about your daily responsibilities at home, for a little R & R. There is always a mai tai, some music, or a masseuse somewhere just waiting to help you unwind.

Just like the daytime, the night offers no shortage of activities -- sunset cruises, dancing, museums, shows, or partying with the locals make for an unforgettable experience from sun up to sun down. You are certain to find multiple activities day or night that interest you and have you planning your next trip before you leave. You can book the perfect cruise for two or family vacation knowing there is something for everyone. Enjoy great food, a Broadway-type show, some boutique shopping or relax on a small ship cruise...it's up to you...

Jean
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome


When World Luxury Cruise Vacations began, interacting with clients and providing relevant information about the locations we cruise to was sent to individuals, on an 'as-needed' basis.

In our first of many posts -- we welcome you! Cruising Planet Earth will provide focus on popular and exclusive destinations throughout the world. Our intention is to be a rich source of information, provide inside tips from our travel experiences, and most of all, get to know you better.

We encourage you to leave comments, send in your own photos and experiences, and enjoy. For those not acquainted with our company, we offer small-ship, luxury cruises. With more than 20 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, we believe this blog can enrich you in many ways. From local traditions in the Caribbean or the best wine in the South of France, there is hardly a place we have not been or something we cannot share with you. Visit often and enjoy!

Happy Travels,

Jean F. Dabrowski & Ana P. Valente
Founders of World Luxury Cruise Vacations
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