Category Archives: travel tips
We set out to see if a Disney cruise would be a good choice for two adults. We departed on the Disney Dream from Port Canaveral, Florida for a quick Bahamas four-day weekend. The ship, weather, and stops were wonderful. The adult experience on this Disney cruise ship had its ups and downs.
Up #1: Palo Restaurant: A for- pay specialty restaurant (not expensive) with fine Italian dining. No kids allowed. It was delicious! The sunset view was romantic.
Up #2: The stop at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas was the best thing about the trip. The adults- only beach called Serenity Cove was exquisite.
Up #3: The fireworks show off of the ship! No pictures because I was so enthralled I forgot to take any. Next time…..
Up #4: The adults- only pool area
So now for the downs.
#1 (and only) down: The sound of kids running through the ship reverberates throughout the stateroom areas!
Since kids will be kids, and parents are hard pressed to control them in a Disney environment, this drawback was not a huge problem for us. We actually had a wonderful time watching the kids with the Disney characters, and seeing all of the children running around dressed as princesses and pirates. All of the children we met were well-behaved and polite, as were their parents.
So an adult couple can have a wonderful time onboard a Disney cruise, given the right attitude and the ability to eat and drink in the adults-only bars and restaurants. As a childless couple, we wouldn’t hesitate to go again, and especially would enjoy going as an extended family. We know now that there are plenty of opportunities for quiet, adult time and would quite enjoy sharing the experience with the younger members of our extended family.
Contact me at 561-841-2224 or email@example.com to plan your next Disney cruise. Even a short getaway like ours was a wonderful break from the routine!
Take an onboard tour of the Celebrity Silhouette! Then join us…..
On a special departure fundraising cruise to benefit Free The Girls, an organization devoted to helping victims of human trafficking. We depart from Fort Lauderdale on February 23, 2014 for seven nights on a western Caribbean itinerary aboard the Celebrity Silhouette. Here is your home away from home as she cruises the waters of the Caribbean. Picture yourself here!
The first thing I saw onboard was a beautiful tree growing in the atrium. Elevators surround this beautiful chrome and glass area. A fully-stocked library is opposite.
The grand staircase echoed the modern luxury theme of Celebrity Cruise Lines. Beautiful!
Celebrity Solstice ships have an upper deck area called “The Lawn Club.” A grassy area with rental cabanas and a grill restaurant highlight this area.
The pool area (this is the adults-only pool) is on the upper deck, too.
Not to leave the children out, the Silhouette has extensive (and I mean extensive) areas for children. An entire upper deck is divided into different age group areas, complete with their own sports court. Older children have their special lounge areas, No Adults Allowed! Very nice for family travel.
Also on the upper deck is the Sky Lounge, a huge area that can be used for meetings, club get-togethers, family meet-ups, and at night is a bar and dance area. It was gorgeous!
Staterooms were well-appointed in each category.
I really liked the closets and storage space in the various staterooms. The color schemes were calming, too.
You just have to have a veranda. It makes cruising so special.
Loved the casino area, and you will, too!
Everywhere you look there are gorgeous architectural details and design elements.
Celebrity is known for its fabulously fresh food and the offering at lunch did not disappoint. The wine they served was delicious, too.
I’m not leaving without dessert!
Give me a call at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to experience the Celebrity Silhouette up close and personal. The Silhouette is part of Celebrity’s Solstice Class of ships which includes the Equinox and the Reflection, so those ships will look similar to what you saw here. Has anyone sailed on her?
Visit www.susanmcdanieltravel.com to begin planning your next cruise.
Last Saturday I was invited to tour the MSC cruise ship, Poesia, docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a lovely afternoon made all the more special by the appearance of Richard Hickey, the Manager of National Accounts for MSC. MSC is a newer cruise line poised to welcome the family cruise market to their fleet of beautiful ships. You can show your kids the world for free with MSC. Kids ages 11 and under sail free on MSC. Let me show you what else the MSC Poesia cruise ship has to offer.
The MSC cruise line evolved from an Italian family’s cargo ship company. MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company.
MSC is the fastest growing cruise line in the world. They are very popular in Europe and are making inroads in the US market.
The interiors are opulent and new. In fact, the MSC cruise line has the newest ships in the industry.
The new ship Divina will begin making Caribbean voyages from Miami in winter of 2013/2014.
Although known as “quiet ships” with a minimum of announcements, MSC cruisers stay up late in the many bars and lounges. Music continues into the wee hours.
The clientele on MSC ships is quite cosmopolitan. You will experience many nationalities, cultures, and languages.
The food onboard is amazing. They pride themselves on their outstanding cuisine of all sorts, as well as their wine and drink selection. The Italian influence shines through in these areas, deliciously.
From sushi, to Northern Italian, to Caribbean, to pizza…..you’ll find whatever cuisine you enjoy onboard the MSC ships.
The staterooms are nicely appointed. I was told the founder’s daughter and wife personally chose the fabrics, marble, tile, artwork, and furniture found throughout the ship. It really is a family affair onboard MSC.
A standard balcony stateroom on the Poesia is 213 square feet. It comes with an intimate verandah.
You can go right from the Aurea Spa and Fitness Center to the casino, refreshed!
The casino suits every gambler’s tastes.
A popular highlight of the MSC cruise line is that kids sail free. MSC is very family-oriented and anxious to expand into the multi-generational American market. For family reunions, anniversary and/or wedding celebrations, or for an extended-family cruise, MSC will make your travel special. Please call me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at email@example.com to explore the options MSC Cruises has to offer to you and your family. I look forward to introducing you to this gracious and welcoming cruise experience. Visit my website at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com.
I have held my tongue about the Carnival Cruise debacle for days now, and the media frenzy continues. I can no longer keep my thoughts to myself. Here is my take on the Carnival Triumph cruise mess (it was not a disaster, no matter how you slice it).
First, this is a wonderful case for why everyone should be required to have passports when they embark on a cruise. The requirement right now is if the cruise originates and returns to an American port, you can get by with a birth certificate and a photo government issued ID. The fact that people onboard the Triumph did not have passports is why they could not dock in Mexico and fly everyone home.
So, in my opinion, the people who were too lazy, too cheap, or unable (!) to procure a passport were the real reason everyone had to suffer. A passport should be a requirement for cruise travel in the future because people will balk at getting one if they have the option not to make the effort.
Second, the ship is 14 years old. Now that’s not old, old by industry standards, but it’s old to me. A more modern ship would have back-up generators and other features that would have prevented the recent incident. As a cruise consultant, it’s my job to think about this older ship making a trek across the open Gulf of Mexico. As a cruiser, most people generally don’t think about any such details. They board the ship and that’s it. If that older ship was hopping down the east coast, jumping around the Bahamas, or even headed to the Caribbean, it wouldn’t give me pause. There would be a convenient port not too far away. But I wouldn’t put a client on an older ship doing a trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific voyage either. I’m just a worrier, I guess.
Third, cruising is an amazingly safe form of travel and a cost-efficient one at that. To focus on this one “unfortunate incident” is a disservice to the entire cruise industry.
Thanks for listening!
I held my monthly Meetup for Cruise and Travel Lovers of North Palm Beach, Florida, yesterday and was asked a question I had never heard before. Someone looking for cruise deals and bargains asked me if there was a “waiting list” for cruises.
I responded that any cruise that was sold out should usually has a waiting list of people wanting to get a cabin should some other traveler cancel. These waiting- list- travelers are usually required to ante up a $50 per person refundable deposit, just so everyone knows they are serious about taking the trip.
My member said, “No, I mean can I go to the port and wait and see if there is an empty cabin and buy it right there and then and get a deal on the price? Why would the cruise lines sail with empty cabins if someone is willing to pay to sail?”
That was a new question for me! The answer is, “No. You can not sail “stand by” like you can fly “stand by” on an airline.” (Even flying stand-by requires you to have a ticket beforehand.) While you can go to the airport ticket counter, you cannot go to the cruise line ticket counter because there isn’t one.
In fact, you cannot even enter the port without having documentation that you are going on a cruise or have some other business there. Homeland security also needs to have your papers reviewed at least three days before departure. If you aren’t on the manifest, you aren’t going to sail.
If you are looking for last-minute cruise deals and bargains like this woman, please contact me or any other travel agent. We continually receive notices of unsold cabin space. If you can travel at the last minute, especially out of “season,” there are deals to be had and we get the first notices about them. If we know what you are looking for ahead of time, so much the better.This time of year, though, any cruises to warmer weather destinations are likely fully booked and would require you to get on a waiting list, which I am certainly happy to arrange for you.
Travel Tips from Susan McDaniel Travel Facebook Page
Every week on my Facebook page I offer up travel tips. Here’s a compilation of some recent tips.
Your travel tip of the week: Go to Wal Mart and buy a few disposable rain coats/ponchos for your trip. They are cheap, don’t take up much room, and might come in very handy!
Your travel tips of the week: On your next cruise take along one of those magnetic bag clips. They will stick to the walls and help keep all the papers and notices you receive organized in one place!
Travel tip of the week: Don’t let your toothbrush sit on the counter in the hotel bathroom. Take the paper cup provided for the coffee and punch a hole in the bottom. Turn it upside down and insert the toothbrush handle. Voila!
Your travel tip of the week comes from my friend JoAnn: If you wear sandals to the airport, stash a pair of socks in your carry on. Put them on when you take your shoes off for security. It is downright creepy to be walking barefoot where a million other feet have been.
Your travel tip of the week: Before you drive away in that rental car, use your camera or phone and take pictures of the car from every angle. Use a time/date stamp. May save you a world of headaches later!
Susan McDaniel Travel’s travel tip of the week: Do not get hit with crazy “talk, text, data” bills when you travel. Just because your phone, I-pad, etc. works overseas or on the cruise ship, that doesn’t mean you should use it without thinking. Get an international SIM card and avoid the after-vacation sticker shock!
Susan McDaniel Travel’s travel tip of the week: Save those perfume and cologne samples that come in magazines and direct mail. Use them when you travel. No liquids to lug or worry about spilling or getting through security, and you can still be nicely scented.
More tips to come at a later date….or visit me on Facebook at Susan McDaniel Travel and get this information and a lot more.
The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever – Explore and Enjoy It!
The world is now more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people need to, want to, and can travel. If you’re part of that twenty percent, a world of travel awaits you.
Travel professionals such as myself who are accessible travel advocates certified by Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.
Here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure that when your next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.
Outline your travel needs
Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home?
Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides? How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?
Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.
If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms.
Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions. Again, documentation and paperwork are required.
Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip. Confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.
Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.
Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, make sure the company is aware of your special needs. When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.
Ask the Right Questions
When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.”
For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room?
Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter? Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars?
Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals?
Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort?On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters?
Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.
I look forward to helping you with all of your accessible travel needs!
More cruise lines than in the past are using New York City as a departure port. The opportunity to discover New York City before or after your cruise, or anytime, gives rise to some do’s and don’t associated with NYC adventure.
1.) Do give yourself more than one day to explore this vibrant city if you can manage to do so.
Don’t miss the chance to spend even one day here if that is all you have available to you.
2.) Do fly into Newark, NJ if it is cheaper for you than flying into La Guardia. It is easy to get from Newark to Penn Station in NYC via NJ Transit.
Don’t even think about using Amtrak for this short jaunt!
3.) Do plan on seeing the Empire State Building first thing. It will give you perspective and a beautiful overview of the city.
Don’t buy the tickets there! Purchase them ahead of time and cut your wait time in half. I can get tickets for you.
4.) Do have lunch in one of the many Irish pubs.
Don’t rush. And don’t stick to your diet, either.
5.) Do dress comfortably and wear sneakers. You will be walking everywhere.
Don’t wear sandals or your blisters will have blisters. Trust me. I know these things.
6.) Do stop and have an afternoon cocktail.
Don’t let your cousin talk you into having it at the St. Regis unless you don’t want to be able to afford to eat for a week. Although the Bloody Mary’s are legendary, and delicious.
7.) Do drop by the New York Public Library.
Don’t expect Rockefeller Center to be very impressive unless it is the dead of winter, the Christmas tree is up, and the ice rink is in use.
8.) Do enjoy Midtown and save the other areas like the World Trade Center, Wall Street, Chinatown and more for another day.
Don’t think you can see it all.
9.) Do plan to come back at a later date.
And don’t forget to book your cruise, too. Cunard has the Queen Mary 2 sailing roundtrip from NYC to St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados and St. Kitts departing December 22, 2012. Other itineraries by other cruise lines are also available. Call me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and schedules.
After the last blog post about avoiding seasickness on a cruise, readers wanted more specific suggestions. In “Five Steps to Smooth Cruise Sailing” I suggested that you entrust your travel consultant with many of the arrangements to make you and your party comfortable. I still recommend that you do this, but here are seven more specific tips.
1.) Get an outside cabin with a balcony. You want to be able to see the horizon as a stable point of reference if you start feeling wobbly. The fresh air will also help.
2.) Get the biggest cabin you can afford so you don’t feel closed in and confined. You will feel like you are in a luxurious hotel rather than on a ship!
3.) Let your travel consultant chose the cabin’s location. You want to be in the middle of the ship, on a lower level, to prevent as much motion as possible.
4.) Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water and eat lightly (if you can resist all the goodies!) for the first day or two.
5.) Don’t have your heart set on a specific itinerary. Be flexible. Due to routes and ocean currents at certain times of the year, you will be more comfortable leaving from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the winter months rather than leaving from a more northerly port. Then, in the Caribbean for example, you will feel better if you head east initially through the protected waters of the Bahamas, and turn south rather than heading straight south to Aruba and then heading north. There are many variables and these are only suggestions. Let your travel consultant scrutinize your chosen itinerary and make suggestions.
6.) Caribbean waters are generally calmer when you travel in the fall after hurricane season ends November 30 (or even mid-November), and spring (March-May). Other areas have their own “seasons.”
7.) Stick with the ships that have state-of-the-art stabilizers. Your travel consultant can guide you to the right choice.
You can never be sure that there won’t be some rocky days, but you can certainly increase your odds of smooth sailing by doing these simple things. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me at 561-841-2224 or email@example.com. An unfounded fear of rough seas prevents too many people from enjoying the wonderful experience of cruising. Don’t you be one of them. Once you cruise you will definitely do it again. I’d love to be the one to introduce you to this type of vacation.
Cruise rookies worry way too much about getting seasick. This issue shouldn’t be a problem for most cruisers, but there are five steps you can take to assure yourself of smooth sailing.
Step one: Find a travel agent with boating experience. Cruise experience does not count. You want someone familiar with boating basics like currents, prevailing winds, and other environmental factors that affect your journey. It’s best to work with Mother Nature rather than work against her.
Step two: Let your concerns be known. It is completely normal to be concerned about getting seasick on your cruise vacation, but most people are embarrassed to even mention it. Don’t be embarrassed! Speak up so we can make sure you have a wonderful trip.
Step three: Be flexible on your dates of travel, your itinerary, and the cruise line. Different times of year are less apt to be rough, as are different routes. If you want to go the Caribbean, for example, think about going later in the spring or in the fall. If you want a winter Caribbean getaway, be open to starting your cruise out of San Juan or points south.
Step four: Trust that your travel advisor has your best interests at heart. The location of a cabin or the choice of a ship has a big impact on the motion of the ocean. You may be asked to pay a bit more for a cabin less prone to motion. Your comfort is well worth the extra $30 or so. Also, listen to your travel advisor’s tips about what ships are equipped with state-of-the-art stabilization systems, and which ones aren’t.
Step five: Visit your doctor and get a prescription for an anti-emetic drug. You will see many people wearing little round “patches” behind their ears. These dispense medication throughout your cruise to keep you comfortable. Be advised, however, that this medication doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t work for me. Bring along some Dramamine or Bonine, some crystallized ginger, and ask your travel agent about other remedies before you set sail, just in case.
Getting seasick shouldn’t be much of a concern if you follow these guidelines. Cruising is a fabulous way to have a relaxing, fun-filled vacation. You will never look back once you try it. But that initial trip needs to be the best it can be. You can be a major component in making it so if you follow these steps. Then you’ll wonder why you stayed land-locked for so long! Cruise once and you’ll be hooked. I guarantee it.
Contact me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about smooth sailing or any cruise related matter. I’d be happy to answer any question you might have. You can also visit my website at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com and start planning your cruise vacation right now.