Check this list often as new tips, events and deals around Florida come in:
Peruvian Amazon cruise package
Rainforest Cruises is offering a six-day riverboat cruise and Treehouse Lodge package including an Amazon River cruise with overnight accommodation at the Amazon Treehouse Lodge. The program begins with a three-day/two-night stay in the eight-bungalow Treehouse Lodge set in 345 acres of jungle at the confluence of the Yarapa and Cumaceba Rivers. Lodge activities can be tailored to each guest, and include daytime and nocturnal jungle walks to learn about medicinal plants, or to spot insects and night monkeys; piranha fishing in dugout canoes; early bird watching; dolphin-watching; visits to local Jibaro and Kukama communities and a butterfly farm. Cost is $2,499 per person, double. Visit www.rainforestcruises.com.
Summer contest for teachers can net cash, New England trip in autumn
Sophia Institute for Teachers has announced a new summer contest that encourages teachers of all subjects and grade levels to incorporate Catholic teaching into their lessons. Selected teachers will receive an all-expenses-paid-trip to the greater Boston area in the fall and a $500 honorarium for their contribution to a new Teacher’s Guide to be published by Sophia Institute. The contest is free to enter, and is open to all Catholic schoolteachers, homeschoolers, and catechists in the U.S. Sophia Institute for Teachers, the newest division of Sophia Institute Press, publishes classroom materials that are teacher-written, teacher-tested, and scholar-reviewed. Its mission is to support Catholic education with high-quality resources and professional programs for K-12 teachers.
For information or to enter the contest, interested teachers can go to SophiaInstituteforTeachers.org from July 7 through Sept. 1. From there, they can upload an original lesson plan for any grade level and topic that incorporates Catholic teaching into the subject. Each lesson plan is an entry to the contest, and there is no limit to the number of lessons that may be entered. Lessons will be judged on the basis of excellent writing, creative and engaging approaches, and clear connections to Catholic teaching.
Star-studded lineup for Soul Train Cruise
The Soul Train Cruise has unveiled a star-studded lineup for its 2015 voyage, which travels through the Caribbean Feb. 22-March 1, 2015 with more than 30 R&B superstars performing nightly concerts and interacting with cruise guests during more than 25 special events. The fourth sailing of the voyage will star KC and the Sunshine Band, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Gladys Knight, James Ingram, The Spinners, Russell Thompkins, Jr. & The New Stylistics, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Regina Belle, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., original 5th Dimension stars, Valerie Simpson of Ashford and Simpson, Will Hart of the original Delfonics and comedian Alonzo Bodden. Also joining the
cruise are Hitzville: Las Vegas Style Motown Revue, Chicago’s legendary R&B record store merchant “Uncle George” Daniels and cruise host Tony Cornelius. Held aboard Holland America’s Eurodam, the Soul Train Cruise departs from Fort Lauderdale for Turks and Caicos, San Juan (Puerto Rico), St. Thomas, the Bahamas and the private island of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Rates start at $1,975 per person and include all meals, concerts, entertainment and onboard activities. Call 1-855-768-5872 or visit soultraincruise.com.
Life’s a beach in Miami
The oceanfront Marriott Stanton South Beach features the Life’s a Beach package providing two drinks by the pool, two beach chairs, an umbrella rental and Wi-Fi each night of your stay. This package is valid now through Oct. 15, with rates starting at $279 per night. High season rates average at $569. Visit www.marriott.com.
Scalloping season in full swing
Scalloping season has started and runs through Sept. 24. Plantation on Crystal River is offering guided and non-guided scalloping deals. One of the offerings is a guided scalloping package with rates starting at $630 for mid-week stays for four guests and include:
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
Chef will prepare the fresh day’s harvest (scallops or fish) and serve with two sides
Ramp launch, trailer storage and seawall tie for those bringing their own boat
Rates for an unguided package begin at $350 for mid-week stays for four guests. Subject to availability. Taxes and gratuities not included. Info: www.plantationoncrystalriver.com.
Offer extended to Caribbean cruises
Fort Lauderdale-based ultra-deluxe Silversea Cruises has expanded its Silver Select promotion beyond Alaska and the Mediterranean to include select voyages in the Caribbean. The Silver Select promotion enables guests to personalize their voyage with a choice of three offers: a two-category suite upgrade, a $500 per person credit towards the purchase of the Silver Sky air program, or a $500 per person onboard credit that can be used for shore excursions, spa treatments, specialty restaurants and more. Silver Select is available on new bookings made by Aug. 31 for select voyages sailing in the Caribbean, Alaska and the Mediterranean. Among the qualifying Caribbean voyages that depart from Fort Lauderdale is a Dec. 5 seven-day sailing on the Silver Cloud with calls in Key West, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel before returning to Fort Lauderdale. Silver Privilege fares for this voyage, #1436, start at $2,950. Visit www.silversea.com
Hilton Orlando is rolling out nightly rates starting at $99 with a Universal Orlando Vacation package. The package boasts $99 rates when staying now through Aug. 21 and using promotional code UNITRAVEL; $50 off on any vacation of four or more nights; and early admission to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and nightlife at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk with theme park admission. Visit www.thehiltonorlando.com. Rates do not include taxes and gratuities, are based on availability and blackout dates apply.
Naples' Inn on Fifth offers Florida resident deal
Located along downtown Naples, the recently renovated and expanded Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites is offering Floridians discounted summer rates. Now through Sept. 30, Florida residents can take advantage of rates from $129 per night mid-week and $143 on weekends. With summertime rates starting at $269, guests can also experience the Club Level Suites, with added amenities such as large floor plans, rooftop retreat with hot tub and a variety of refreshments throughout the day, including buffet breakfast, full bar with hors d’oeuvres in the evenings and more. In addition to the already discounted rates, guests can book the Florida Resident Rate online to receive the opportunity to purchase a $100 resort credit for $85. The credit can be used at the Spa on Fifth, new Avenue5 restaurant, or to purchase one of the Inn’s bathrobes. Visit www.innonfifth.com. Rates are based on availability and occupancy, and are subject to change. Offer is not available on holiday weekends including July 4. Prices do not include tax and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional rates. Offer must be mentioned when booking. Valid Florida identification required at check-in.
Up to 20 percent off at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort
The LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on Florida’s Gulf Coast — invites Florida residents to make the drive to Naples this summer and enjoy a special Florida Resident Rate now through Sept. 30. The special offers up to 20 percent off lowest available rates, as well as discounted resort and parking fees when using promotional code FLRES online. Rates start at $239 for weekday nights and $269 for weekend nights. LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort encompasses 6.5 acres nestled next to Vanderbilt Bay. Visit www.laplayaresort.com.
Flip flops on Daytona Beach Shores
June 20 is National Flip Flop Day, and The Shores Resort & Spa is celebrating. In addition to collecting shoes for the charitable organization Soles4Souls, the resort will donate $10 for every room night booked on the Flip Flop Package, which runs through July 30. The National Flip Flop Day package includes two-night's accommodations, $60 spa credit, two frozen flip flop cocktails or smoothies, and two pairs of Signature Shores Flip Flops. Rates begin at just $316 (Promo Code FLOP14). The package is based on a two-night minimum stay, and may not be used in conjunction with any other special offers or discounts. Guests are encouraged to donate new or gently-worn shoes for a donation to Soles4Souls. Visit www.ShoresResort.com.
Discounts available for Floridians at the Omni Orlando Resort
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate offers Florida residents’ savings of 15 percent. Located minutes from top Orlando attractions and theme parks, this resort has 720 rooms surrounded by 1,200 acres of greenery and the International and National golf courses, world headquarters of The Leadbetter Golf Academy. Amenities include a full service European-style spa, two heated outdoor pools and an 850-foot lazy river. The resort also features five diverse dining experiences from sushi and sake at Zen to the Italian herb garden and brick oven flatbread at Trevi’s. Promotional code is RESIDE. Visit http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/OrlandoChampionsGate/Exclusive/FloridaResidentOffer.aspx.
Stay for breakfast at the Orlando World Center Marriott
The recently redesigned Orlando World Center Marriott invites Floridians to enjoy fun-in-the-sun with a "Stay for Breakfast” special offer starting at $129 per night, now through Dec. 31. The special offers vacationers a complimentary breakfast buffet for two adults and two children, as well as complimentary self-parking when using promotional code S4B online. To book a “Stay for Breakfast” escape at Orlando World Center Marriott, visit www.worldcentermarriott.com.
Summer offer at La Nouba
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil has announced special offer rates starting at $49 for adult and child seats this summer. The offer, which comes as Cirque du Soleil celebrates its 30th anniversary, is available to all guests for performances from July 1 through Sept. 27.
Those who have seen the show before will note a few changes including a clown act and balancing act. Visit www.lanouba.com.
Promo offered at staySky Hotels & Resorts
The staySky Hotels & Resorts – a portfolio of hotel, resort, townhome and condo properties – features six all-suite properties in Orlando, and one property overlooking the ocean in Daytona Beach. Florida Residents staying at any of the staySky Hotels & Resort properties save 15 percent by providing valid Florida identification. Florida residents can use the code FLRES in the promotion code field to book the special rate based on its availability. Visit www.staySky.com.
Special rates at iconic Palm Beach hotel
The iconic Brazilian Court Hotel invites Florida residents to indulge in the beauty of Palm Beach while enjoying an island vacation close to home. Available now through Sept. 30, Florida residents receive a special rate starting at $229 per night while enjoying complimentary parking. Visit www.thebraziliancourt.com.
Cousteau program for children
Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the m/s Paul Gauguin, and the 88-guest m/v Tere Moana, will offer oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program free on holiday voyages in French Polynesia this December when booked by July 31 –a value of $299 per child. Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society created the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program that introduces young travelers to the natural wonders of French Polynesia through direct, hands-on, interactive learning. The mission of the Ocean Futures Society is to explore our global oceans, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for their protection. Under the guidance of Ocean Future Society naturalists, young Ambassadors (ages 9-17) explore coral reefs, hike rainforest trails, experience Polynesian culture, and visit marae (ancient Polynesian temples). They also learn how black pearls and vanilla are cultivated, how volcanic islands become coral atolls, and how to paddle an outrigger canoe. Parents are encouraged to join their children on eco-excursions and other activities aboard and ashore. The Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program is offered free on seven-night Tahiti & the Society Islands Holiday Cruises departing Dec. 20 & 27, with cruise fares starting from $5,195 per person and includes airfare from Los Angeles. The third guest in a stateroom sails free. Visit www.pgcruises.com.
Celebrating the Keys’ signature dessert
The creation of the world’s largest Key lime pie, the wacky Miss Key Lime Pageant, pie-eating and cooking contests await Key West visitors July 3-5 during the second annual Key Lime Festival. Celebrating the Florida Keys' signature dessert and the tiny fruit that inspired it, the festival kicks off with a 2-5 p.m. Key Lime Bar Krawl on July 3. Plans call for "krawlers" to sample Key lime martinis and margaritas at local watering holes and select their favorites. The festival's highlight is to be an attempt by event founder David Sloan, author of "The Ultimate Key Lime Pie Cookbook," and three fellow chefs to shatter their own record for baking the largest Key lime pie in history. In 2013 the quartet created a gargantuan pie that measured more than 8 feet in diameter and required the juice of 5,760 yellow Key limes. They plan to prepare and serve the 2014 pie, expected to reach 9 feet in diameter, during a street party set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 4, on Greene Street just off Duval Street. Attractions on July 5 include a Key Lime Pie Eating Contest and a pie-making challenge for amateur and professional bakers. Pies are to be judged on criteria including appearance, flavor balance and originality, and spectators can purchase tickets to sample and cast People's Choice votes. The festival is to conclude with a Miss Key Lime U.S.A. Pageant, a tangy takeoff on the Miss America competition. The contestant who scores highest in the talent, costume, vintage style and Q-&-A categories will take the crown and step into the "limelight." Visit www.keylimefestival.com.
New hotel to open in Key West in August
The Gates of Key West, a new independent hotel with 100 rooms is slated to open on the Last Key in August. Amenities include a 2,000-sq. ft. deck with an adjacent long-boarded bar, and swimming pool. Three guest room categories will be available including Terrace rooms complete with private decks around the pool. Complimentary WiFi access will be offered along with moderately-priced European-style continental breakfast with Cuban coffee. Opening rates are from $159. Visit www.gateshotelkeywest.com.
Special rates for teachers and school support staff
Teachers and school support staff may wish to check out the “Teacher Appreciation Rates” at the seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Available for stays May 1-Sept. 30, the rates provide the opportunity to take in the many exceptional special events that are happening at Disney World this summer. This includes the opening of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a new family coaster at Magic Kingdom Park; and the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at Epcot. Located a walk away to the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at the Downtown Disney area, these seven Official Walt Disney World Hotels also provide complimentary shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to all four Disney World Theme Parks, two water parks, and to Downtown Disney Marketplace. And as a bonus, guests at these hotels also receive the “2014 Downtown Disney Deals”
booklet that features discounts and offers from more than 30 merchants for Downtown Disney area dining, entertainment and shopping. The “Teacher Appreciation Rates” are from $99 per room, per night at the B Resort; from $89 at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel; from $75 at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa; from $109 at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton; from $89 at Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista; from $94 at Holiday Inn Orlando – Lake Buena Vista; from $79 at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. Visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com, specifically http://downtowndisneyhotels.com/teachers-special-downtown-disney-hotels-offer.
Rates are based on availability and some blackout dates may apply. The rates do not include the Resort Services Fee or daily parking fee (if applicable), taxes or gratuities. The offer is not valid with any other special offers, promotions, existing reservations, or for groups. All teachers and school support staff must show proof of employment upon check-in.
Pilgrimages to Passion Play in Europe
Every five years for the past two centuries the hamlet of Sordevolo, located in northwest Italy's Biella province, stages "La Passione," a passion play reenacting Jesus Christ's last days on earth, his death and resurrection. The village next produces the play from June-Sept.
2015. Regina Tours is offering five departures of “ Italy and the Passion Play in Sordevolo,” a trip to see the play, followed by a tour of Florence, Assisi and Rome. Italy and the Passion Play in Sordevolo" is available from $3,698-$3,898, based on double occupancy. Cost includes round-trip air fare to Italy from New York, seven nights in tourist class hotels with private facilities, seven breakfasts and seven dinners, admission to all sightseeing tours, airport-hotel transfers, touring by private air conditioned motor coaches, the services of a professional escort and tickets to the Passion Play. Visit: www.regina-tours.com or specifically, http://www.regina-tours.com/STW/STWProduct.aspx?Theme=REGINA&ProductCode=IT-SORDPP-RT.
Latest edition of Tallahassee tourism website
With summer vacation plans in the works Visit Tallahassee has announced the newest http://www.VisitTallahassee.com. With nearly half of travelers planning their trip on a smart phone and a similar number using social media while on vacation, the new website boasts a responsive design that offers a seamless experience for desktop, smartphones and tablets and social media sharing.
Third night free offer in Naples
The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is offering the 3rd night free now through Sept. 30, based on availability, with holiday weekends excluded. For holiday weekends the resort is offering the 4th night free. For more information or for reservations, visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com (specifically http://tinyurl.com/natkas4 ).
Blackout dates may apply, and the promotion may not be combined with any other offer. Also, the promotion is not applicable to groups.
Windstar debuts new vessel
Windstar Cruises recently debuted the new, all-suite Star Pride, the first of three small luxury cruise ships added to its fleet. The Star Pride’s debut followed a three-week transformation period in which all of the yacht’s public spaces, dining venues, and suites were updated to meet Windstar’s casually elegant, warm, and contemporary style. Windstar partnered with Alan McVitty and Trimline Interiors, both of whom spearheaded the recent $18 million renovation of Windstar’s sailing yachts, to complete Star Pride’s stem-to-stern transformation in Barcelona. The updates to Star Pride’s decor include new furnishings, upholstery, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floor coverings. Additionally, Star Pride introduced Windstar’s new Destination Suites. Each of the Owner’s Suites showcases a signature Windstar destination, complete with cultural decor and local artwork. Windstar will eventually implement the Destination Suites fleet-wide. Star Pride is spending the summer in the Mediterranean. In the fall, Star Pride will embark on Windstar’s brand new itineraries to Asia and Arabia. Star Pride is the first of three new power yachts to join the Windstar fleet. Star Breeze will begin its maiden voyage on May 6, 2015, from Nice, France. Star Legend, will make its inaugural voyage on May 25, 2015, from Rome, Italy. All three yachts are identical, with a guest capacity of 212 in 106 suites. At 10,000 gross tons, each yacht is 440 feet long with a breadth of 63 feet and six passenger decks. Similar to Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze will undergo major transformations to public spaces, suites, and dining venues. Visit www.WindstarCruises.com.
South America cruises in 2015/16
Norwegian’s new South America itineraries for 2015/16 are open for booking, along with alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida, and select Eastern and Panama Canal cruises from Miami. Among the offerings: Norwegian Sun will return to South America for the first time since 2010, sailing 14-day South American voyages between Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina from Nov. 4, 2015 to March 26, 2016. Ports of call include Puerto Montt, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay. Guests will also enjoy a scenic cruise through the Chilean Fjords, Strait of Magellan and around Cape Horn. Fares start at $1199 per person. Visit www.ncl.com.
Florida residents’ rate features credit at participating Hiltons
Hilton Worldwide is spreading sunshine for Floridians this summer with a $25 hotel credit with a two-night minimum stay. From now until Sept. 30, just under 300 Hilton Worldwide participating hotels in the state, from Pensacola to the Keys, are featuring the Florida Residents Rate.
Guests can apply the $25 property credit to any hotel amenity including food and beverage, parking, recreational activities like golf or spa and WIFI. Visit www.hilton.com. Proof of residency and current Florida ID are required at check in.
Summer getaway in Nassau/Paradise Island, Bahamas
For a limited time, travelers who book a summer getaway at any of Nassau/Paradise Island’s participating properties will be able to enjoy special savings. Travelers receive $250 Instant Savings when booking an air-inclusive minimum four-night stay. The package must be booked between June 8 and June 23 and travel must occur between June 8 and Oct. 5. Atlantis Paradise Island, Graycliff Hotel, One&Only Ocean Club and Sandals Royal Bahamian are a few of the 15 properties participating in the Instant Savings deal. The offer can be redeemed through www.NassauParadiseIsland.com.
Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa offer
Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa is featuring the Third Night Free deal that allows guests to pay for two nights and get the third night free with savings of more than $200. Rates start at $146 per night. The offer, valid until Dec. 31, may be booked online at www.jupiterbeachresort.com. Blackout dates apply.
"Babymoon" package in Naples
The Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites in downtown Naples is offering expectant mothers a "Babymoon" package available year round. Designed as a relaxing retreat for mothers-to-be, the three-night package includes modern, deluxe guest rooms, dinner at the new Avenue5 restaurant and a full makeover, complete with professional make-up, manicure/pedicure, and blow dry, maternity pillow for use during stay and cravings basket with sweets. The package starts at $339 per night. Rates are based on availability and are subject to change.
Prices do not include tax and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional rates. Visit www.innonfifth.com.
New dolphinarium in the Riviera Maya
Dolphin Discovery Tulum Akumal is the newest dolphinarium in the Riviera Maya’s nearby Bahia Akumal opening in June. In addition to swim-with-dolphins programs the location will offer adventure tours and recreational opportunities. All the dolphins in the dolphinarium have been born under human care. Visit www.dolphindiscovery.com.
Third night in Naples this summer
The beachfront Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is offering "Third Night Free" this summer now through Sept. 30, based on availability, with holiday weekends excluded. For holiday weekends the resort is offering the "Fourth Night Free." Blackout dates may apply, and the promotion may not be combined with any other offer. The promotion is not applicable to groups. Visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com.
Amelia Island cell phone tour
The Amelia Island Museum of History recently launched a new Cell Phone Tour. The tour allows visitors to take a self-guided walking tour of the downtown historic district of Fernandina Beach at their own pace, while receiving historic tidbits on their cell phone. Cost is $5 per person and the tour includes a location map with instructions. Visit www.ameliamuseum.org.
New hotel on St. Pete Beach
The Hotel Zamora, a high-end property, is slated to open this spring on St. Pete Beach. Inspired by the architecture and design of the rocky hills of Zamora, Spain, it is a contemporary waterfront hotel with Mediterranean-style rooms and suites. Amenities include a marina, fresh water pool, fitness center, Spanish-influenced restaurant, and access to Gulf of Mexico beaches. Grand opening rates start at $199.
Voyages for 2015 announced
Paul Gauguin Cruises has presented its Voyages By Gauguin 2015 Collection Brochure. Voyages feature Tahiti, Fiji, South Pacific, Caribbean, Latin America and Europe itineraries. The brochure features 52 voyages by the line’s two deluxe small ships including
seven- to 14-night voyages on both ships. Among the cruises is a Caribbean and Latin America voyage from Colon, Panama to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, visiting Cartagena, Colombia; Oranjestad, Aruba; and Les Saintes, F.W.I. The eight-night voyage also visits St. Barts, F.W.I.
and departs on March 20 with fares starting at $3,495 per person. A Dec. 12. 2015 departure is a seven-night reverse itinerary with fares from $2,845 per person. Visit www.pgcruises.com.
Budget-friendly Bahamas getaway
For a limited time, travelers seeking a budget-friendly Caribbean getaway can save big at Breezes Bahamas Resort & Spa, Nassau’s first and only Super-Inclusive resort. Now through June 12, guests who book travel through August 8, will enjoy 40 percent off during the Spring into Summer Sale. Per person prices start at just $130 per night, double occupancy. Visit www.breezes.com.
Dads get free round of golf on Father’s Day
Everyone gets complimentary admission at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, and Dads get a free round of golf on Father’s Day, June 15. The first 300 Dads also receive a gift bag. Visit www.WorldGolfHallofFame.org.
"Glamping" concierge available
Westgate River Ranch, an hour south of Orlando, recently introduced "glamping" (glamorous camping), and has further elevated these upscale outdoor accommodations with the launch of a personal glamping concierge. This service, similar to a hotel concierge, is now available 24-7 for the comfort of glampers as they experience this large dude ranch in Florida. The concierge facilitates everything from scheduling daytime activities to starting campfires at night and delivers hot cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit and coffee to glamping tents every morning. Glamping tents are pre-set on raised platforms and include luxury interiors, a screened-in porch with two rocking chairs and access to private bathrooms. Amenities include a mini refrigerator, microwave, air conditioning, electrical outlets, a ceiling fan, private gas propane grill, private picnic table and various board games. The bathrooms are outfitted with showers with hot water and hair blow dryers. Glamping is one overnight option among several offered at Westgate River Ranch, including lodge rooms, cottages, cabins and traditional camping sites. The ranch features activities including horseback riding, nature hikes, trap and skeet shooting, hayrides, an outdoor dance hall, mini-golf, a rock climbing wall, zip line, mechanical bull and bungee jumping. The resort features a 1,200-seat rodeo arena featuring trick riding, bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing. The ranch also offers the Westgate Smokehouse Grill, a saloon, general store and deli, nine-hole golf course, petting farm, swimming, 5,000-foot paved and lighted runway, and a marina complete with boating, fishing, airboat and swamp buggy rides. The glamping concierge is available as part of any glamping reservation at no additional cost. Overnight glamping rates start at $149. Packages are also available and include a golf cart or bicycle rental, a $30 resort credit per night and a s’mores kit. Visit www.wgriverranch.com.
Voyages modified due to unsettled situation in Ukraine
Taking into account the unsettled situation in Ukraine, Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises has modified the itineraries for four Black Sea voyages originally scheduled to call in Yalta, Sevastopol, or Odessa this year. Silver Spirit's July 21 seven-day sailing will remain entirely a Black Sea itinerary with Trabzon replacing Odessa, while three new nine-day voyages will focus on destinations in Greece and Turkey, and also retain the original Black Sea ports of Constanza and Nessebur. The new nine-day voyages, Silver Cloud's Oct. 13 sailing and Silver Spirit's voyages of Aug. 20 and Sept. 29, have an added perk. Departing from Constanza, guests may enjoy a complimentary full-day Silversea Experience in Bucharest, known as the "Paris of the East" for its tree-lined avenues and elegant architecture. Highlights include a scenic drive through Romania's countryside, a Romanian-style lunch, and an exploration of the capital city's Palace of Parliament, Patriarchal Hill, open-air Village Museum, and Revolution Square. Alternatively, guests may opt for a $200 per guest onboard credit. Details of the modified itineraries are as follows:
* Voyage 5422 - Silver Spirit, July 21 - 28, Istanbul to Istanbul, with calls in Sochi, Trabzon, Sinop, Constanza, and Nessebur. Silver Privilege fares start at $3,550.
* Voyage 5426 - Silver Spirit, Aug. 20 - 29, Istanbul to Istanbul, with calls in Kavala, Thessaloniki, Volos (gateway to the rock towers and monasteries of Meteora), Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Constanza, and Nessebur, plus passage through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus. Added
perk: choice of complimentary Silversea Experience in Bucharest or
$200 per guest onboard credit. Silver Privilege fares start at $5,550.
* Voyage 5431 - Silver Spirit, Sept. 29 – Oct. 8, Istanbul to Istanbul, with calls in Myrina (Limnos), Thessaloniki, Skiathos, Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Constanza, and Nessebur, plus passage through the historic Dardanelles and Bosphorus. Added perk: choice of complimentary Silversea Experience in Bucharest or $200 per guest onboard credit. Silver Privilege fares start at $5,450.
* Voyage 1431 - Silver Cloud, Oct. 13 - 22, Istanbul to Istanbul, with calls in Kavala, Thessaloniki, Volos (gateway to the rock towers and monasteries of Meteora), Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Constanza, and Nessebur, plus passage through the historic Dardanelles and Bosphorus.
Added perk: choice of complimentary Silversea Experience in Bucharest or $200 per guest onboard credit. Silver Privilege fares start at $4,650. Visit www.Silversea.com.
Staycation packages to celebrate Fort Lauderdale hotel’s 10th anniversary
Beginning on June 4, The Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a variety of events and "Suite Life" Staycation packages. When guests reserve one of the property’s suites (ranging in size from 950 to 2,200 square feet), the hotel will provide them with a personal concierge who will help them design their own dream Staycation. "The Suite Life" Staycation packages begin at
$299 per night and can be enhanced with a selection of exclusive, personalized services and experiences. Visit www.atlantichotelandspa.com.
Splashtacular summer at Miami Seaquarium
Beginning June 7 through Aug. 17, the Miami Seaquarium will present its Splashtacular Summer celebration. During the event, the park will feature new and interactive aquatic elements for young and old. A Kids’ Water Play Area, inflatable water slides and wet slip-n-slides, seven water-themed slides, Salty’s Pirate Playground and Spray and Play misting stations will provide ways to stay cool. General admission is $41.95 for adults and $31.95 for children (ages 3-9).
Princess Cruises has announced its 2015 program of European voyages.
Highlights include growth in Northern Europe with the line’s newest sister ships Regal Princess and Royal Princess, both deployed in the region for cruises to Scandinavia and Russia and the British Isles. Island Princess will sail in Europe for the first time on the line’s Grand Mediterranean itinerary. Emerald Princess offers a fresh series of Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea voyages that can be combined so passengers can customize their own seven-, 14-, 21-day or longer voyage. Caribbean Princess will return to Southampton for a range of itineraries in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and Ocean Princess offers a small-ship experience on a variety of Northern Europe routes including Iceland, Norway and the Baltic Sea. Visit www.princess.com.
Immersive port adventures
Disney Cruise Line has introduced port adventures during its 2014 European sailings of the Disney Magic now through August. New for the European season, the line will use Venice, Italy as a homeport for select sailings. During these cruises, the Disney Magic will overnight in Venice and participate in one-of-a-kind Port Adventure that gives guests an exclusive after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica with its ornate mosaics, oriental design and treasured relics. Among other excursions is a city tour followed by a chance for children to create a traditional Venetian mask, and another program offers an opportunity to pilot a gondola in the city’s lagoon. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Cruise line donates to Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation
Holland America Line has made a $100,000 donation to the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, following the former archbishop of Cape Town’s appearance as a guest lecturer on a segment of the line’s Amsterdam ship during her Grand World Voyage. The foundation celebrates young people ages 17-22 who are changing the world as the next generation of peacemakers in the U.S. Tutu spoke about his role as the first black African to serve as archbishop of Cape Town and about his work forging equality throughout the world. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Familymoon package in Barbados
Elegant Hotels in Barbados are featuring a Familymoon program this summer. The package includes one dinner on the beach, babysitting services (eight hours, including taxi for baby sitter after hours), one bottle of sparkling wine and fruit basket in room upon arrival and airport transfers. Rates for the Familymoon package range from $377 to
$567 for traditional and all-inclusive options. A minimum five-night stay is required. Promo code is FAMILYMOON. Visit www.eleganthotels.com.
Renovation projects completed at Amelia Island hotel
Amelia Hotel at the Beach recently finished several renovation projects, adding new flooring and paint throughout the hotel and introducing a new floor plan for their Terrace Suites. The hotel is also offering golfers who play the Amelia River Golf Course a discounted rate when they bring in their scorecard. Visit www.ameliahotel.com.
New Royal Caribbean ship will be homeported in China
Royal Caribbean International has announced its new Quantum of the Seas will make Shanghai, China its homeport. The ship will reposition to China in May 2015 following an inaugural winter season sailing out of New York to the Caribbean after her debut in November. Beginning in late June 2015, the ship will sail three- to eight-night itineraries year round from Shanghai to Japan and Korea. Visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com/QuantumoftheSeas.
Active family vacation in Negril
Moon Dance Cliffs, an oceanfront resort in Negril, Jamaica, features onsite amenities including lifeguard-attended cliffs that offer the thrill of splashing into the Caribbean and a 5,000-square-foot pool with waterfall, island bridges and basketball hoops. Accommodations include 480- to 1,200-square-foot rooms and suites, and 1-, 4- and 5-bedroom poolside villas with Caribbean views. Visit www.moondanceresorts.com/cliffs.
Summer volunteer programs for teenagers
Each summer, Projects Abroad sends hundreds of teenage volunteers abroad to participate in service trips called High School Specials. These programs are designed for teenagers to participate in worthwhile voluntary work for two or four weeks over the summer. Each High School Special follows a schedule of taught sessions and practical and observational service work. Volunteers also enjoy evening activities and weekend excursions. Projects Abroad’s new programs for teens for 2014 include a Medicine in Ghana program on June 22-July 5 and Aug.
10-Aug. 23. Other programs include Care & Panda Protection in China and Public Health in Tanzania. Visit www.projects-abroad.org/hss.
New "gems" at Walt Disney World
In time for the summer season, Disney World has inaugurated the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train family roller coaster in the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland section, and the Disney Festival of Fantasy parade –also in the Magic Kingdom Park. Other novelties include My Magic+, a new way to pre-plan and experience a vacation at Walt Disney World Resort with MagicBands that guests wear on their wrists and enable aspects such as reserving from home FastPass+ (to bypass regular attraction lines); attraction interactivity; Memory Maker photo service and other elements (visit www.MyDisneyExperience.com). Also new are Disney Vacation Club’s Grand Floridian Resort Villas on the Magic Kingdom’s monorail line, and a special offer for parties of six or more who purchase a minimum four-day Magic Your Way ticket by June 14 and receive an additional day for everyone for free. Advance purchase is required. Offer is not available at theme park or Downtown Disney ticket windows. Offer is not available for previously purchased tickets. For offer details, visit www.DisneyWorld.com/Together and for general information, log on to www.disneyworld.com.
Silversea offering new promotion
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea Cruises is offering the new Silver Select promotion that enables guests to personalize their voyage with three offers: a two-category suite upgrade, a $500 per person credit towards purchase of the Silver Sky air program, or a $500 per person onboard credit that can be used for shore excursions, spa treatments, specialty restaurants and more. Silver Select is available on new booking made by June 30 for select voyages sailing this year in Alaska and the Mediterranean. Silver Select is a capacity-controlled program and subject to availability. Promotion code NASELECT03 must be mentioned at time of booking. Visit www.silversea.com/silverselect. In other Silversea news, the line just launched the Silver Discoverer, the latest addition to its expedition fleet this spring. The 120-guest, all-suite expedition ship explores exotic, “bucket list” locales. The ship’s inaugural season will encompass many of the Pacific Ocean’s most isolated corners including rarely traveled lands in Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Melanesia, East Asia, the Russian Far East, New Zealand and Sub-Antarctic Islands. In 2015, the ship will also visit Polynesia and other Pacific destinations. Onboard amenities include gourmet cuisine, butler service, complimentary beverages, wines and spirits throughout the ship and stocked in-suite beverage cabinet. Zodiac excursions and walks ashore, led by marine biologists, botanists, historians and anthropologists are complimentary. Visit www.silversea.com.
Seven Princess ships to sail in Alaska in 2015
Princess Cruises has announced seven of its ships will sail throughout Alaska in 2015. New for the 2015 season, the Ruby Princess will make her Alaska debut, joining sister ship, Crown Princess, to offer Inside Passage cruises from Seattle. The Pacific Princess will sail on the line’s Voyage of the Glaciers itineraries for the first time. She joins Grand Princess, Star Princess and Coral Princess on this route that includes two glacier experiences. Rounding out the program, Golden Princess will offer Inside Passage sailings from San Francisco.
Land and sea vacations are also featured. Visit www.princess.com.
Disney Cruise Line charts a new course for Norway in 2015
In summer 2015, Disney Cruise Line will chart a course to northern Europe, exploring for the first time the Norwegian Fjords, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The cruise line is also returning to the Baltic for new itineraries, including sailings from Copenhagen, Denmark to St.
Petersburg, Russia. Cruises to the Mediterranean, Alaska, Caribbean and Bahamas are also included in the lineup. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Oceanfront resort offer in Vero Beach
Kimpton’s oceanfront Vero Beach Hotel & Spa is featuring up to 25 percent savings with its Florida Sunshine Offer. With rates starting at $179 per night, the program features savings based on length of stay: one- or two-night stay, 15 percent savings; three- or four-night stay, 20 percent savings; five- or more night stay, 25 percent savings. The Florida Sunshine Offer is available for travel through Sept. 30. Blackout dates may apply. Visit www.verobeachhotelandspa.com and use booking code SP1.
Food and wine festival at Orlando resort
Culinary artistry, fine wine and celebrity chef meet-and-greets will be highlights of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic. The event, back for its fifth year, will be held on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, at the Epcot Resort Area hotel. The outdoor festival will include food and beverage seminars, food and wine tastings and live music. Seminars will be led by the hotel’s chefs and certified beverage experts, while the hotel’s restaurants will showcase signature culinary selections to pair with tastings from more than 30 wineries. Celebrity Chef Todd English will be in attendance. English has gained national acclaim through his line of restaurants and cookbooks, and other food-related enterprises. Todd English’s bluezoo is located in the hotel and features fresh seafood. Tickets to the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic are currently available as part of a hotel package or individually. Visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com.
Couples sunset massage on St. Pete Beach
Loews Don Cesar Hotel has introduced the Spa Oceana Sunset Bliss Massage, a full body, customized treatment. The program begins in a private rooftop cabana overlooking the Gulf of Mexico with a selection of light delicacies prepared by the hotel’s executive chef and a bottle of Cristal by Louis Roederer. Couples also enjoy a private in-ocean couples’ cabana for a seaside massage at sunset. Afterward the couple is escorted back to the spa where they can enjoy the facility’s amenities in privacy. Cost is $3,500 per couple. Five-day notice is required and the service is based on availability. Call 727-363-5029.
Crystal Cruises introduces ambassador hostesses
Crystal Cruises has introduced female counterparts to its Ambassador Hosts program. Two Ambassador Hostesses, in addition to eight Ambassador Hosts who dance with unescorted ladies, will be available to dance with solo male passengers on Trans-Atlantic voyages on Oct.
5, June 12, 2015 and Dec. 11, 2015. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
New kids’ club at Cape Coral resort
Looking for a summer family getaway? The recently renovated Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village has such family-friendly features as in-room kitchens, washers and dryers. The property recently opened a new Westin Kids Club featuring activities such as bike riding and a visit to a nearby butterfly garden. Other amenities include a lagoon-style pool, complimentary bike rentals and complimentary water taxi ride directly to Ft. Myers Beach. Visit www.westincapecoral.com.
With seventy miles of beaches, Eleuthera in the Bahamas beckons beach lovers who enjoy privacy and unspoiled natural beauty. Beyond the beaches, Eleuthera is surrounded by coral reefs for diving and snorkeling and the island is famous for bone-fishing, lobster diving, deep-sea fishing and spear- fishing. The Caribbean side of the island is usually free of surf, providing opportunities for sailing, windsurfing, kiteboarding and kayaking. The Atlantic side of the island offers several excellent beaches for surfing, including Surfer’s Beach and Holiday Beach. Trails through the fields and woods invite jogging, hiking and mountain-biking and cco-tourism is growing on the island with the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is the first national park on the island. Located 200 miles southeast of Miami and 50 miles east of Nassau, Eleuthera has three airports: Governor’s Harbour (GHB) in central Eleuthera, North Eleuthera (ELH) at the north of the island and a smaller airport at Rock Sound, on the south of the island. Daily flights are offered from Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Nassau. Governor’s Harbour, in the center of Eleuthera, makes for a good base for exploring the island and offers a collection of restaurants, nightlife, stores and services. Conveniences of home such as grocery stores, liquor stores, banks with ATMs, a bakery, gift shops, dive shop and medical clinic are nearby. It has a nice collection of 19th century homes and churches overlooking a picturesque harbor. For vacation estate rentals, visit www.eleutheravacationrentals.net, www.squiresestate.com, and www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3540964.
New hotel in Tampa
Tampa has a new 137-room boutique hotel, a recently constructed Epicurean Hotel for the Autograph Collection of Marriott International. The food-focused hotel, developed by Mainsail Lodging & Development in collaboration with the Bern’s Steak House, features a culinary classroom, signature restaurant, wine shop, rooftop bar, spa, ballroom and patisserie among its amenities. Visit www.EpicureanHotel.com.
Digital signage onboard
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it will expand the digital signage first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway to the line’s entire fleet by summer 2015. The interactive touch screen signs will allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining, shore excursions and entertainment with a scan of their stateroom key. The screens will also be a feature on the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Getaway, sailing from her homeport of Miami in February. Each Norwegian ship will have between 30 and 50 touch and static screens located in prominent areas around the vessel. Visit www.ncl.com.
New shopping opportunities in Orlando
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores recently opened a 2,800-square-foot Polo Assn. store as well as newly renovated Tommy Hilfiger and OshKosh B’Gosh shops. Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is located at 15657 S Apopka Vineland Road (State Road 535). Visit www.lbvfs.com.
Cruise apps from Celebrity
To bring cruise vacation planning out of the realm of daydreaming and into the palms of consumers' hands, Celebrity Cruises has introduced a suite of easy-to-use mobile apps allowing travelers to digitally immerse themselves in the line's vacation experiences in all seven continents. After downloading the free mobile vacation apps onto iPads or Android tablets, consumers will find content including videos and imagery of Celebrity's worldwide destinations, depictions of the modern, upscale experiences found on every Celebrity ship, profiles of Celebrity's shore excursions, itineraries and maps of the array of Celebrity Cruisetour vacations, interactive ship deck plans with the capability to zoom in on specific suites, staterooms or venues to reveal the highlights of each, must-sees, hidden gems and other tips curated exclusively for Celebrity by the editors of Travel + Leisure, and up-to-date pricing on Celebrity vacations. Celebrity has also introduced a "Cruise Lingo," which makes it easy for vacationers to speak local languages by accessing authentic local phrases and relevant information from their smartphones or tablets. The new vacation apps can be downloaded from www.celebritycruises.com/mobile.
Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas are offering Asia cruises this summer, continuing sailings from Shanghai (Baoshan), Beijing (Tianjin), Hong Kong, and Singapore. Through November, Mariner of the Seas will sail roundtrip Korea cruises from Shanghai (Baoshan) on three- to six-night itineraries that call at Seoul (Incheon), Busan, Jeju Island, or Yeosu (Gangyang). The ship’s summer season will conclude with an eight-night sailing from Shanghai (Baoshan) to Singapore, departing Nov. 4, with ports of call at Xiamen and Hong Kong, China, and Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam. For its part, from June through September, Voyager of the Seas will sail four- to six-night Korea itineraries roundtrip from Beijing (Tianjin), and call at Seoul (Incheon), Yeosu (Gangyang), Busan, and Jeju Island, South Korea. The ship will then sail a seven-night Japan and Korea cruise from Beijing (Tianjin) to Hong Kong on Sept. 10, followed by four-, five- and seven-night Japan and Taiwan cruises roundtrip from Hong Kong throughout September and early October. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com.
Certified divers can work alongside salvage experts in Key West
Certified divers now can register to work alongside treasure salvage experts on the wreck site of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha during weeklong programs set for the summer. Believed to be the richest Spanish galleon shipwreck ever discovered, the Atocha sank in 1622 approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West. Approximately $450 million of the vessel's treasure and a significant portion of its structure were discovered in 1985 by the late shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher. Crews led by Fisher's family continue to search for the ship's sterncastle and the gold and silver bars and coins that are listed on the Atocha's manifest but remain undiscovered. The Atocha Dive Adventure, presented by the Fisher family and Mel Fisher's Treasures of Key West, gives recreational divers a chance to be part of the search and recovery effort. The weeklong Atocha Dive Adventure includes training in commercial treasure salvage techniques, behind-the-scenes tours of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and the Fishers' private artifact conservation laboratory, and two days of diving the site alongside salvage experts seeking the galleon's sterncastle. Any participating diver who discovers gold, silver or artifacts will be awarded a previously conserved Atocha piece of equal value, up to $3,000, from the Fisher family's collection. Participation is limited to six divers. Dates are June 9-15 and 16-22, July 14-20 and 21-27, and Aug. 4-10 and 11-17. The package includes accommodations in an Old Town Key West vacation home, welcome party and orientation, a sunset sail and gatherings with the Fisher family and crew. Non-diving companions can participate in all land-based activities and receive a "Key West Treasure Chest" package that includes free admission to Key West museums and a $250 gift certificate to the Mel Fisher's Treasures retail store. Cost for the week is $3,000 per diver. Cost for a non-diving companion to share a room with a participating diver is $1,000. Visit www.melfisher.com/myadventure.
Roster of bike tours expanded
Bike Tours Direct has expanded its roster of bicycle tours in 22 countries in Europe, Asia, and Central America now offering more than 80 programs including some that may be of interest to families as they feature short daily distances, dedicated bike paths, kid-friendly hotels and sometimes discounts for children sharing a room with parents. The self-guided tours start at $550 per person. Visit www.biketoursdirect.com.
Re-branded resort in St. John, U.S.V.I.
Caneel Bay Resort on St. John, U.S.V.I., founded by Laurance Rockefeller and formerly known as Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort, re-branded itself as an independent property in November and relaunched with new amenities. These include the new ZoZo's Ristorante, the former Sugar Mill restaurant that now has new management, dining concept, menu and renovation. Other new amenities include the Cannella coffee shop and Italian gelateria and the recent addition of the Sushi Bar, adjacent to the Caneel Beach Bar & Grill. Visit www.caneelbay.com.
Website features information on parking at ports
ParkingAtThePort.com features information on more than two dozens of the largest cruise ports in North America including such major ones in Florida as Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa. In addition to parking details, the site features information on hotels, transportation services, local dining, shopping and other attractions. Visit www.parkingattheport.com. Royal Caribbean has announced the Quantum Experience Advisors program featuring a group of experts in fields such as design, sports & fitness, entertainment and others who will work hand-in-hand with the line’s internal teams to provide their expertise to help shape interior design, amenities and activities on the Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas that are set to debut in November 2014 and April 2015 respectively. Among the experts is interior designer and television personality on HGTV, Genevieve Gorder. Gorder is collaborating with Royal Caribbean’s newbuild and design team to offer insights and opinions and influence the décor and furnishings of the loft and suite accommodations onboard Quantum of the Seas. Visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com/QuantumoftheSeas.
River cruising company orders 14 ships for 2014
Amid record levels of consumer interest in river cruising, Viking Cruises (www.vikingcruises.com) has announced it has increased its order for additional Viking Longships, bringing the total number of new ships launching in 2014 from 12 to 14 vessels. By year’s end, Viking will have introduced a total of 30 new ships in a three-year period. The 14 new ships in 2014 will sail Viking’s most popular itineraries in Europe. Visit www.vikingrivercruises.com.
Aruba property renovations
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino recently completed the renovation of its Regency Ballroom. Highlights of the property include the aloe-themed ZoiA Spa and Mexicado, an upscale Mexican restaurant, a three-level pool complex with cascading waterfall, two-story water-slide, tennis and basketball courts, private beach and multiple restaurants and lounges. Visit www.aruba.hyatt.com
Volunteers swim with sea turtles in the Bahamas
Earthwatch (http://earthwatch.org) has announced new volunteer expeditions for service-minded individuals to work together with scientists in the field on finding solutions to some of the environment’s most pressing problems. Along with the 52 expeditions already available, among six new programs is Swimming with Sea Turtles in the Bahamas. Participants can jump into the warm waters of the Bahamas to track turtles’ behavior during their uncharted teenage years. Departures for adult participants are slated for August, September, October and November. A teen departure is set for July. Contribution cost is $2,775 for adult departures; $2,995 for the teen departure. Visit http://earthwatch.org/expeditions/swimming-with-sea-turtles-in-the-bahamas.
Third Disney Vacation Club resort on monorail line to open in 2015
Disney Vacation Club’s planned next location, at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, located on Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World Resort, is projected to be completed in 2015. Upon its completion, the Disney Vacation Club will have destinations at all three resorts on the monorail system, allowing easy access to Magic Kingdom Park. The planned development project at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, when completed, will join Disney Vacation Club’s 12 other properties include The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, that opened in late October 2013. In addition to the Disney Vacation Club project, other guest areas within Disney’s Polynesian Resort will undergo refurbishment. Disney Vacation Club debuted in October 1991 with a vacation point-based model rather than the traditional fixed-week timeshare model. Disney Vacation Club units are available for rental when members are not using them. Visit www.disneyvacationclub.com.
Clean and green initiatives at Best Western
The Best Western hotel chain has a new cleaning program on its North American properties that brings hospital technology to the hotel room with new tools including UV wands, black lights and clean remotes. The germiest spots in the hotel room are things like light switches, door handles, alarm clocks that can be tough to clean with traditional cleaning products like spray and a cloth. The brand made the change because customers began citing cleanliness as the most important part of their hotel stay in national surveys. The brand also has a sustainability program whereby every hotel in North America is required to have a green program. Two examples are the Best Western Plus Brant Park Inn & Conference Center in Brantford, Ont., that uses an organic waste program that composts 90 percent of food waste from the hotel's restaurants and conference center, and the Best Western Plus Night Watchman Inn & Suites in Greensburg, Kansas, which was destroyed by a tornado and then rebuilt using eco-friendly materials and design elements, including the installation of a wind generator. The wind generator is on track to produce about 50 percent of the electricity that the property uses. Visit www.bestwestern.com.
Mediterranean cruises plus adventures
Adventures By Disney has announced that on summer voyages in the Mediterranean aboard Disney Cruise Line, passengers can add Adventures By Disney excursions. The programs are available on a variety of European itineraries including five-, seven-, nine- and 12-night cruises. Two Adventure Guides will sail with the participants, lead excursions and organize activities onboard and ashore. On cruises sailing out of Spain, a four-day Adventures By Disney program can be added pre-cruise to explore Barcelona. Visit www.AdventuresByDisney.com.
New Panama hotel marks chain’s 75th property
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. recently announced its Aloft brand has reached the 75th hotel milestone with the opening of Aloft Panama, the brand’s fourth hotel in Latin America. Aloft is already operating in 14 countries and is set to debut in another 10 countries by 2016. In the past nine months, the Aloft brand has opened hotels in Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, Tulsa, Cancun, Bursa, Kuala Lumpur and Ahmedabad. In North America, the Aloft brand recently reached 55 hotels with nearly 20 more in the pipeline, while Asia Pacific remained the brand’s second fastest growing market with a total of 12 hotels currently open. Visit www.alofthotels.com.
Site with Big Apple information
NewYork.com (www.NewYork.com) is a new site with information for New York travel, entertainment, dining, real estate and job needs, as well as fresh local content. In addition to advice from editors, it offers discounted Broadway theater tickets, hotel deals, restaurant guides and more. It is the latest offering from the company that has such travel and entertainment sites such as Best of Orlando.com (www.BestofOrlando.com).
Elopement package at Sandpearl Resort
Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach offers an Elopement package. Arriving in either a 1933 Packard or Rolls Royce, the soon-to-be newlyweds can say "I do" and relax in the two-story Gulfside Suite where their candlelit ceremony will be held. Priced at $5,800, the two-night package includes custom video so the couple can share their day with friends and family, round-trip airport transportation to and from the resort in either a 1933 Packard or Rolls Royce, two night accommodations in the two-story Gulfside Suite on the sands of Clearwater Beach, certified marriage officiate that will provide consultation, file a marriage license and design a ceremony unique to the couple, candlelit ceremony in the Gulfside Suite, floral arrangements including a bridal bouquet and boutonniere, four-course dinner for two with wine pairing served in the Gulfside Suite, and Veuve Clicquot champagne and strawberries. The Elopement package is based on availability (and there is only one Gulfside Suite). Couples seeking an elopement can book by calling 727-441-2425. Visit www.sandpearl.com.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens awarded arboretum accreditation
The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens has been awarded Level I arboretum accrediation in The Morton Register of Arboreta by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum, The accreditation is given to facilities that achieve particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is a zoo nestled within a garden. Already nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for their fauna, the institution’s new ArbNet Arboretum accreditation highlights their floral treasures and ongoing commitment to the historic botanical collection as well as ensuring itself as a public resource for botanical collections, horticultural information and the natural enjoyment of all guests. For additional information on the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program, log on to www.arbnet.org; for details on the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, visit http://napleszoo.com.
Palm Beach package
The Brazilian Court Hotel, ranked the #1 hotel in the state of Florida by Conde Nast Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2013, is offering a Readers’ Choice Package including a two-night stay in a studio or suite, a welcome amenity from Café Boulud and guest’s choice of any two items from the following: a three-course lunch or brunch with wine pairing at Café Boulud, or a Fekkai massage, or Fekkai paraffin manicure and pedicure combo or a Fekkai facial. Call 561-655-7740 (ask for Readers’ Choice Package). Available for call-in reservations only. A 14-day advance booking is required and a two-night minimum is required. Valid for stays through October 2014, based on availability at time of booking, cannot be combined with any other offer. Fekkai Salon & Spa closed on Sunday. Requested times and services based on availability and will be confirmed within 72 hours. Taxes and gratuities are not included. Maximum choice of two services; can be the same service twice. One Café Boulud welcome amenity per stay. Brunch is available on Saturday and Sunday only. Other restrictions apply. Services must be used during package stay dates; guest forfeits any unused services upon departure. Rates start at $663 for two nights.
French cruise line and expedition specialist Compagnie Du Ponant, is featuring several new itineraries for summer aboard its three yachts, Le Boreal, L’Austral and Le Soleal (132 staterooms & suites), and the three-masted Le Ponant (32 staterooms). Through October 2014, the vessels will be cruising in the Great Arctic North and Canada, North Europe and the Baltic, and the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, offering a range of unusual itineraries. Among the new itineraries is a Gourmet Cruise from Lisbon to Bordeaux aboard Le Boreal with a program created by French magazine Cuisine et Vins de France, whereby passengers will be enjoying gourmet cuisine in the company of Michelin-starred chefs and renowned sommeliers. They include celebrity head-chef Hèléne Darroze, Jean Sulpice, Nicolas Magie, Philippe Faure-Brac and Olivier Dauga. Tastings, culinary workshops and conferences will be on the menu between calls into Porto, Viana do Castelo, Vigo, La Coruna, Bilbao, Le Verdon and Bordeaux. The eight-night voyage departs on May 4 and is priced from $3,231 per person, double. Visit http://en.ponant.com.
New spa treatments in Naples
The Spa at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Southwest Florida is now offering five new spa treatments. Among the new services is the Vital Elastine Facial, an 80-minute treatment utilizing Yon-Ka skincare products to smooth the skin, reduce wrinkles, and increase radiance and hydration in the face, neck and décolleté. The Spa also now carries two new products from Yon-Ka, Stimulastine Jour and Stimulastine Nuit, which are an optional, but a recommended, home-care regimen to help maintain the results of the facial. The Vital Elastine Facial is $180 for 80 minutes. The products are $110 each. Visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com/spa .
Puerto Rico’s "undiscovered" coast
The Copamarina Resort & Spa, a 20-acre tropical property in the seaside town of Guanica offers a base to explore Puerto Rico’s “undiscovered” southern coast. The property recently updated its spa (which now offers salon services) and rooms. Other amenities include two on-site restaurants, including Alexandra, a seafood restaurant, several swimming pools and nearby attractions including the Dry Forest Reserve, Bioluminescent Bay, Ponce Museum and Gilligan’s Island. Room rates start at $145 per night. Visit www.copamarina.com.
New in Winter Park
East End Market recently opened in Winter Park. Highlights of the facility include market hall, demo kitchens, farm-fresh restaurant, event space, and an urban garden. Visit www.eastendmkt.com.
Legendary San Juan hotel is being reborn
The Condado Vanderbilt, a historical Grand Dame hotel built by Frederick William Vanderbilt in 1919, re-opened its food and beverage venues and event spaces in fall of 2012 and is slated to launch its guestrooms in summer 2014. Executive Chef Juan Jose Cuevas, formerly of Dan Barber’s Blue Hill, is at the helm of the upscale 1919 restaurant, a farm-to-table culinary destination in the Condado neighborhood. Visit www.condadovanderbilthotel.com.
Renovated properties in Orlando Convention Center area
Two Marriott properties in the Orlando Convention Center area recently completed renovations. The Residence Inn Orlando Convention Center by Marriott has expanded workplaces and added wireless Internet in the lobby as well as refreshed its 124 suites. The SpringHill Suites by Marriott now features an updated lobby, a new business center, expanded dining area, new fixtures and finishes in guestrooms and corridors and an outdoor heated pool and play fountain. Visit www.marriott.com.
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.
Costa Rica options for nature lovers
Two Costa Rica lodging options for nature, adventure and luxury seeking travelers are the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose, at a 30-acre coffee plantation, and the oceanfront Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort resting within a 1,100 acre rainforest. Highlights of the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose include 250,000 two hundred year old tiles covering the hacienda’s roof that were brought in from the colonial city of Granada, Nicaragua; a dining table in the signature restaurant, La Isabela Tapas & Wine Cellar, made from a 350 year old door from a Guatemalan church; antiques brought in from Guatemala and Mexico; and a coffee-inspired Kuo Spa that incorporates beans from the property’s plantation into its treatments. Guests of the 300-room/eight suite hotel have included Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Laura Bush, Deepak Chopra, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Julio Iglesias. Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is a Spanish colonial-style hotel with 201 rooms, an 18-hole Ted Robinson designed golf course and a multi-level outdoor perpetual pool. Nearby activities include zip lining, canopy excursions, deep-sea fishing and more. Highlights of Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort include a massive sculpture by woodcarver Fabio Brenes Morales in the golf course that was carved out of a 300-year old ceibo tree that fell alongside the ninth hole; 15,000 square meters of Costa Rica handmade floor tile throughout the property; and 375,000 Nicaraguan clay tiles that make up the hotel’s roof. Visit www.marriott.com.
Firehouse Museum in Key West
History buffs can learn about Key West's past through its firefighting heritage at the Key West Firehouse Museum at 1024 Grinnell St. The museum is housed in Fire Station No. 3, active from 1907 until 1998 and one of the oldest fire stations in Florida. Spearheaded by retired second-generation Key West firefighter Alex Vega, who also is a historian and writer, the museum contains artifacts from the island's firefighting history. Notable items include a 1929 American La France fire engine, a bell dating back to 1906, historic photos and an early alarm system that communicated a fire's location. The station also contains what is believed to be one of the only remaining coal pits in America, dating from the days when fire engines were horse-drawn steamers. Uniforms, helmets and other items belonging to men once stationed at the firehouse are displayed as well. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $10 per adult, with a discount for firefighters, and free for children under age 12. Visit www.keywestfirehousemuseum.com.
Silversea publishes 2014 brochures
Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea has released two new brochures detailing an array of voyages in 2014, when its seven-ship fleet will visit more than 500 destinations on seven continents. The brochures are available in digital and print formats, and can be viewed online at www.Silversea.com by clicking the E-BROCHURE link. The new Voyage brochure, devoted to the journeys of Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, and Silver Spirit, is complemented by an Adventure guide highlighting the expedition cruises of Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos, ships known for exploring some of the world's most remote regions.
Northern European voyages
SeaDream Yacht Club is featuring Baltic and Norwegian Fjords voyages this summer. The SeaDream I will explore the summer yachting ports of Northern Europe including overnight stays in popular cities with berthing privileges afforded only a mega-yacht such as docking up the Neva River by the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Stockholm’s historic Gamla Stan, and anchoring steps from Tallin, Estonia’s “Old Town” in the inner pond. Seven to 14-day voyages will be offered from late May through August.
Yachting fares begin at $4,499 per person, double. Visit www.SeaDream.com.
Cunard to celebrate its 175th anniversary with global voyages in 2015
In 2015, Cunard will commemorate the 175th year of the company’s founding with global voyages. This festive time will herald several Cunard Royal Rendezvous events during World Voyage itineraries: Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth will depart Southampton together on Jan. 10, 2015; on March 12, 2015, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will meet in Sydney; and on May 3, all three Queens will return from their World Voyages to Southampton. One of the global offerings, the Queen Mary 2’s 113-night World Voyage from Southampton will visit 38 ports of call in 21 countries and is priced at $16,399. Segments are available ranging from eight to 24 days starting from $1,599. Visit www.cunard.com.
Princess Cruises to sail out of Shanghai as homeport
Carnival Corporation & plc have announced it will introduce its Princess Cruises brand to China in 2014, naming Shanghai as home port for the Sapphire Princess during a four-month season expected to carry 70,000 passengers. The new roundtrip cruises begin in May. The China season will feature four different itineraries ranging from three to seven days. The seven-day itinerary will take passengers to the Korean capital of Seoul, on to the beach resort of Busan and finishing at the Island of Jeju, before returning to Shanghai. The five-day cruise will call at Jeju and Inchon; the four-day itinerary will call at Busan and Jeju, while the three-day cruise calls at Jeju. In addition to the international cruise experience offered by Princess around the world, passengers on the new China-based cruises will be treated to cultural, culinary, entertaining, and inspiring programs including world leader dinners, sommelier wine excursions, daily English high tea, Tai Chi and Zumba at sea, a “Princess Night” bedtime experience, and a shopping experience. Designed to appeal to multigenerational groups, “Touch of Class” personal enrichment courses will also be offered for adults and children. The 116,000-ton Sapphire Princess carries 2,670 passengers and, at 952 feet long, has 18 decks and 28 premium suites with private balconies. The ship also includes a casino, duty-free shops, fitness center and spa, sports deck, children’s and teen’s centers, library, internet café, wedding chapel, art gallery and a golf putting course, among other features. Visit www.princess.com.
New book on Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales
Bok Tower Gardens: America’s Taj Mahal by Kenneth Treister and David Price [Skira Rizzoli 2013, $50] is a new book recently released with a foreword by Derek Bok and an epilogue by Bob Graham. A National Historic Landmark, built in 1929 and rising 205 feet over central Florida’s rolling hills of citrus, Edward W. Bok’s art deco, neo-Gothic Singing Tower, houses one of the world’s best carillons. According to Price, co-author and president of Bok Tower Gardens, Bok’s story is one of appreciation and giving back to the community that gave him so much during his life. Publisher, philanthropist, and naturalist Edward Bok commissioned two esteemed designers—landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and architect Milton B. Medary—to create a sanctuary that would preserve the area’s natural beauty and become a haven for birds and wildlife. The 224-page hardcover book has 120 color and black and white photos of Bok Tower Gardens.