The Galapagos Islands: A Honeymoon Destination

The Galapagos Islands draw thousands of visitors every year, including scientists, students, naturalists, photographers and more. The Galapagos Islands’ status as a must-see, “bucket list” sort of destination also draws in retirees and off-the beaten path travelers. While the Islands are often overlooked by the “in-between” crowd of people in their 20’s and 30’s, the Galapagos Islands actually make for an outstanding honeymoon destination. Why pick Galapagos for your honeymoon? Here are five reasons:

The Galapagos Islands are Romantic

That’s the number one qualification after all, isn’t it? A honeymoon is a romantic vacation, and the Galapagos Islands fit the bill. Moonlit cruises? Check. Exotic location? Check. Excellent facilities and service? Check and check. The dramatic sunsets, fearless wildlife and memorable landscapes combine with first-rate services to create the perfect atmosphere for romance.

The Archipelago has something for everyone.

He wants hiking, she wants a beach. He wants water sports, she wants shopping. Galapagos is about not having to sacrifice or compromise. There are great beaches and hikes on the islands, as well as snorkeling and other water sports. The towns on the islands have a surprising amount of quality souvenirs from all over Ecuador and South America. You can even decide between land-based and cruise ship tours. Why fight over a destination when Galapagos has it all?

The “Enchanted Islands” are a destination for the young and vibrant.

The Islands are on many people’s “bucketlist” of places to visit. Many retirees go because they finally have the time and money to do so. Unfortunately, by the time they get there, many seniors find that some of the hikes and islands are too challenging for them and they miss out. The Galapagos Islands are best enjoyed by those who are old enough to appreciate them and still young enough to hop from one lava rock to the next, perfect for young newlyweds!

The Islands are more affordable than you think.

Many young couples are not yet established and may avoid seemingly pricey destinations like the Galapagos Islands. Although the costs are undeniable – airfare to and from Ecuador and then to the islands, plus park fees and the cost of cruises or lodging – they are relatively low right now. The worldwide economic downturn has had one positive effect: fewer people are visiting Galapagos and the tour companies and hotels are willing to make deals they would not have considered before.

Ecuador has much more to offer than just the Islands.

A honeymoon to the Galapagos Islands carries the side benefit of a trip to Ecuador. Why not spend a few days relaxing in the natural spas of Papallacta surrounded by the Andes, or taking a romantic carriage ride in Quito’s charming colonial center? For such a small nation, Ecuador is home to a wonderfully diverse ecosystem with everything from snow-capped volcanoes to sandy beaches.

Trips to these and other Ecuador destinations are very easy to combine with a trip to Galapagos. So start using our free trip planning serviceand book your honeymoon today!

5 Ideas For Cheap Cruise Travel Deals

Everyone wants to travel the world, right? How does a luxury cruise sound? Warm beaches, exotic ports of call, fine dining, 5 star service, hammocks and fruity umbrella drinks. Who could resist?

Course there is one small issue – the outrageous prices that put the dream of a cruise vacation out of reach for 90% of people. But there is hope. I am here to help you find the absolute best cruise travel deals. Wholesale prices, incentive cruises, and even the occasional F.R.E.E voyage are in the bag of tricks. My goal is to show you how to plan, find, book, and enjoy the cruise vacation of a lifetime on a shoestring budget whether it is your first cruise or your tenth.

Be sure to check out this month’s top hints, insider secrets, and tricks the travel industry does not want you to know about how to get a fantastic cruise travel deal.

Here are 5 ideas to get you started on finding the cheapest cruise bargains:

1) Go Off-Season

Everyone and their brother is planning a cruise in the spring or early summer. Think spring break and that’s where you will find the crowds. The cruise industry is not going to offer any good cruise travel deals during their busy season because they simply don’t have to. Expect a 20-30% cheaper fare for off-season cruises.

BONUS: Airfares will also be cheaper during the less-traveled months saving you an additional chunk of money.

2) Consider Repositioning

These cruises are heavily discounted because the cruise line is simply moving the boat from one home port to another. They have to take that trip regardless of how many passengers sign up. You will get a few less ports – but if you are true cruise lover, the extra days at sea will be no great burden. You can expect to save 40-60% on a price per day basis over regular cruises.

3) Skip the Flight

Most cruises in the US originate from Florida and California, but did you know that dozens of other ports of embarkation (where you leave from) are available? Unexpected places like New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, New Jersey, and even Mobile, AL offer a few cruise itineraries a year. If you can hitch a ride from somewhere within easy driving distance, how much will you save? Anticipate travel to and from the embarkation port costs to drop easily $1000 for a family of 4.

BONUS: Also, you will not have to worry about hotel on either side of the cruise in this scenario.

4) Last Minute Savings

Often if your schedule is flexible, good cruise travel deals can be had in the last 2 months leading up to departure. Think about it – the boat is going, overhead is relatively fixed, so empty staterooms cost the cruise lines big bucks that can never be recovered. Sign up for email newsletters (cheapcruises.com, vacationstogo.com, and travelzoo.com are my favorites) so you will get priority notification of cruise travel deals.

5) Speak and Cruise

If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know there is a an endless array of entertainment and educational opportunities on board. Everything from underwater basket weaving, to painting classes, to seminars on wine tasting. Did you know that each of those presenters AND their family get a complimentary cruise in exchange for a couple of 1 hour work sessions? Would you work for 2 hours to get a free cruise?

8 TIPS To Rent A YACHT

On a vacation, if you choose to travel by yacht, know that it may offer tons of fun. In fact, it’s going to be an ideal way to unwind after months of the busy schedule. A day on the sea will be an experience that you won’t forget, and yacht renting will make it a lot more special. In this article, we are going to give you a few tips that can help you rent a good yacht.

License

If you have the license and enough experience, you can rent a yacht to become your own captain. In this case, you can organize the necessary details. On the other hand, you may have to hire the services of a captain and crew as well.

Set a Plan

Before you look for a yacht, make sure you plan your journey in advance. Make sure you don’t hurry as this decision involves a lot of expenses. What you need to do is check possible travel dates, the departure place, the period of the trip and the locations you want to visit.

Choose a Company

Make sure you look for a good company. Ideally, you may want to choose a broker based on your plan. If you have a big budget, you can search for a luxury yacht with an experienced captain and crew. On the other hand, if you don’t need the crew, you can consider a bareboat instead.

Port of Departure

For specific search results, you can search for the port of departure as well. You may want to search for yacht websites, boating magazines, and ads. It’s a good idea to get in touch with the port authority, local yacht clubs or harbor master for recommendations.

Visit the Departure Site

It’s better to visit the port of departure in advance. You may find a bulletin board for yacht rentals in addition to free flyers, magazines or papers. These resources will help you compare your options so you can make the right choice.

Yacht Amenities

Make sure you consider the comfort level and amenities offered by the boat. If you are traveling with a group of people, it’s also important to take into account the size of the yacht.

If you and your friends want to relax and sunbathe on the boat, make sure the required services are available onboard. It’s important to know the limitations you have to face as well.

Total Expenses

Don’t forget to figure out the total expenses you have to pay for different yachts. Other things that you may want to consider are the cost of the fuel, insurance coverage, customs, and some other hidden fees.

Food and Drinks

Don’t forget to ask if food and drinks will be offered for free on the yacht. If they are not offered for free, figure out how much they will cost. If you are on a tight budget, you can bring your own food instead. It’s also important to read and follow the terms and conditions of the service provider. You have to be comfortable with them.

So, these are a few tips that you should consider before renting a yacht.

Dos and Don’ts of Using Cruise Control

It’s an American tradition – cruising down the highway, the radio blaring and the windows rolled down to enjoy the warm, sunshiny day. Except when you go to hit the cruise control to maintain your speed, nothing happens. The cruise does not seem to be working even though it was fine just the other week. What can possibly go wrong with a cruise control button? In reality, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, just like any other electrical system on the car you drive. How you treat that cruise control button will determine a lot of how well your system works in the future.

For people who drive on the highway a lot, they might just leave the cruise control button set to on all of the time. That way, whenever they feel the need to set the speed, they just have to flick one more button and it is on. But this habit can be damaging for the cruise as it is always on and at the ready. Being always on and not used can wear out the control mechanisms of the system.

Another habit people have with cruise control is stepping on the brakes to disengage the speed control instead of turning it off. Is that method safer that turning the system on or off at the controls? The answer depends on who you ask. Conservative mechanics say that if you are going to engage the speed again as soon as the person ahead of you moves, then it is fine. It is easier and faster to hit resume than it is to turn the system off, start it all over again.

Other mechanics say that tapping the brakes can wear on a system. Just slightly. The systems are so advanced these days, however, that it would take a lot of starting and stopping to cause any sort of wear and tear on a system. Cars are built with a lot of great features that are meant to last for the life of the car and the cruise control is one of them.

If the cruise control does not seem to hold the speed or engage, then it might be worth taking it in to an auto shop. There could be a wire disconnected or a short in the system that requires an easy fix to get it up and running again. Cruise control is a great feature to have so it is worth the expense to get it fixed on your car. You never know when, but having the speed set could prevent you from getting a ticket since you know where the speed is set and can focus on the road and not the speedometer!

The Unexpected on Our First Cruise

Much of what I write here may be “old hat” to the experienced cruiser. But to those new to cruising, they can be unexpected even though your travel agent and the brochures you read may have mentioned the items I’m writing about. Experiencing them for the first time is often surprising.

The first surprise is the Personal Identity Card that is issued to you when you roll up at the cruise terminal. You attach it to a lanyard and put it around your neck. It becomes your on-board companion for the cruise. It is the key to your state room; the card you use to purchase items, such as drinks or coffee on board and, with your passport, your right to get back on the ship.

As you board the ship for the first time the crew check your card and take a photograph of you so that each time you leave or return to the ship your card and therefore your photograph are checked. The card also allows you to check your on-board account to see the extent of your purchasers. This also tells you what on-board credits you have. It is quite an unexpected sight, seeing a gentleman in a tuxedo on a dress-up night, wearing his card around his neck.

Now that you are actually on the ship, you need to find your cabin. Oops, they don’t have cabins on board ship anymore. Cabins are state rooms. Finding your state room for the first time is a challenge. There are so many decks, people on the move and very long corridors on every deck. However, there are many crew members around to show you the way. The surprising image of the crew is that there are many different uniforms, each crew member having different roles. Their most important role is to keep the passengers happy and wanting to cruise again.

As you can imagine, with the size of the ship getting lost is easily achieved. So, with the help of the map provided when you board, you are able to get your bearings and get around the ship with ease.

When you first arrive at your cabin, your steward is around to meet you and explain whatever you need to know. He has already put your bags on the bed ready for you to unpack. Each morning he cleans your room and in the evening your bed is turned down, chocolates are on your pillows and the daily newsletter is there for you to plan the next day’s activities.

One of the pleasures of the cruise is the onshore excursions. What is unexpected is the detail to which the crew go to get you on the right tour at the right time. Often, on the day you board the ship, you’ll find in your cabin all the tickets for these tours plus instructions on where and when to assemble on the day of each tour. At the assembly points, you are given a sticker that is attached to your shirt or blouse indicating which tour you are on and any other data you need to know. Each tour is colour coded.

I thought that this process was spectacular but the process for leaving the ship at your destination is even more spectacular. Some days into the cruise you are to fill in a form regarding on how you wish to embark. This involves a time, whether you are catching a plane and so on. Then a few days before you disembark, you get a time, special signs to put on your bags and a place to meet to disembark. Your bags are taken the night before and await you in a designated area on shore ready for you to collect. This process is much quicker than the process to board the ship.

Exercise is one thing you need to do because the meals are so good that we all tend to overeat. A gym on board is expected but having a promenade deck that circumnavigates the ship is a pleasant surprise. The one on the cruise ships I have been on is about 500 metres around or three circuits make a mile. Many passengers are to be seen doing circuits each and every day.

There are novelty/speciality occasions during the voyage. I’d just like to mention just two. On our first cruise, Remembrance Day occurred. A solemn service was performed. The other one to mention is Captain’s Circle Cocktail Party where the announcement of who, on this cruise, has the most cruise days is made. On our last cruise, the number of cruise days was over 2000. That’s well over five years cruising.

The final unexpected happening was the docking of these big ships. They do it with tugs just standing by to help only if necessary. I was staggered with how these big ships were manoeuvred into seemingly very narrow berths.

The reader might believe that these unexpected happenings are the end of the surprises for a first time cruiser. These are all I remember. You can look forward to even more. Happy cruising!