Your Year of Travel

 

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Bryce Canyon Nation Park                   photo credit: Ruby’s Inn

It’s time to start planning your next epic adventure. Whether you choose to cruise through the sprawling pebble beaches of the French Riviera, scale the orange hued hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park or taste South Africa’s mouth-watering cuisine, you’ll find everything you need to inspire your wanderlust in this complimentary issue of Destination Vacation.

For added guidance and unique insight you can’t find anywhere else, call our agency. We’ll use our vast knowledge and expertise to create your perfect itinerary.

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Bucket List Vacations 2016

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Cheetahs jumped on the vehicle of tourists in Masai Mara national park, Kenya.

Walking the medieval streets in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan. Riding a cable car to the top of iconic Table Mountain. Tasting world-famous port wines in Lisbon. Spending a week exploring from a villa in Provence. Spotting a moose ramble through the trees during a wilderness tour of Denali National Park.

Click here for a gorgeous 72-page brochure to find these dream-fulfilling experiences that are Illustrated in attainable details, for we have combined land and sea components to create the world’s most magnificent adventures. If any of these life-changing journeys are on your bucket list, crossing it off will be easy. All you need to do is contact our agency.

Cruise & Travel Masters can arrange additional wish-fulfilling vacations throughout the world.

Contact us today at 800-264-0557 for upgrades, extensions and air-inclusive pricing options for many of these vacations.

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Most Luxurious Airport Lounges in the USA

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After a long day of traveling, there’s nothing more relaxing than checking into a peaceful airport lounge where the internet is high-speed, the food is delicious (and plenty) and showers and other amenities are free. These sacred spots were once only accessible for the elite traveler with first class or business class tickets, however, the times are a-changing. Now, many American airlines offer day passes for any traveler looking to escape the crowded concourse.

Virgin America Loft (LAX)
Virgin is known for their excellent customer service. It’s no surprise then that their lounge is also top notch. Here you’ll enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages from their contemporary bar. The modern, trendy feel will make you forget you’re in an airport at all. No children under 12 are permitted. If you’re in the mood to get some work done, there are plenty of outlets and free internet access. A day pass to this hideaway costs $40.

AA Admirals Club (LAX)
This spacious lounge, operated by American Airlines, is touted for its good food and great customer service. Enjoy gazing at the planes or get some work done while you’re waiting in between flights, you can even take a refreshing shower. Children are permitted in here, but have their own separate play area. Day passes to this lounge cost $50.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (JFK)
This 10,000 square foot space is modern and comfortable. It offers spa services to guests including massages, facials, or even haircuts. Instead of the typical complimentary buffet, this lounge offers table service and a fantastic selection of cocktails. When you’ve had your fill, enjoy a quick game of pool before catching your flight. Day passes to this oasis cost $75.

Centurion Lounge (DFW)
Get complimentary 15-minute spa treatments at this spacious southwestern themed lounge. Enjoy a buffet of southwestern food options for breakfast or lunch/dinner. There also have comfortable seating, workstations, and chaise lounges perfect for napping, working, or reading for any traveler. Day passes to this lounge run $50.

While all airports have lounges, many still cater to the first class fliers, or club members. Annual memberships can be purchased, but first check to see if any of your credit cards carry travel perks for members. Some will get you access to these clubs and others without having to pay a fee at all. Keep airport lounges in mind for your next long layover or cancelled flight.

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How to get a Visa

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There’s so much excitement involved in planning a trip abroad. From deciding where to go, researching places to stay, planning your itinerary, and determining what to pack, there are a million fun things to think about. While you’re lost in your planning frenzy, don’t forget to check if you need a visa for your trip. It’s not romantic or exciting, but if you don’t have the right paperwork, you can’t get to the fun stuff.

The purpose of a tourist visa is to let your destination country know why you’re there, how long you’ll be staying, and that you’ll be leaving. Americans typically don’t need tourist visas for Canada, Mexico, Western Europe and much of Eastern Europe, but if your next trip is taking you elsewhere, you can obtain visa applications from the country’s embassy or local consulate. Visit the U.S. Department of State website to determine if you’ll need a tourist visa for your trip.

If you do need a visa, check that your passport is compliant. Many visa applications require you to have blank pages in your passport. The State Department can add more pages for you if yours is full. Also, if your passport expires in six months or less, you’ll usually need to renew before applying.

There are two ways to obtain a visa: ahead of time or upon arrival. Do your research, while some countries offer an either/or visa option, some countries will only let you in if you’ve secured your visa ahead of time.

If the following apply, better to secure your visa beforehand.

Your destination won’t let you in without a pre-secured visa. Some places don’t offer the option of arrival visas. Better to have your paperwork in order than to be turned away at the door.
The country has strict and complicated travel requirements. Some counties, such as China and Russia, are difficult to obtain visas. In these cases, not only should you get your visa ahead of time, you may want to hire an outside company to help you through the process.
You’re traveling with small children or a large group. Having everyone’s visas ready will minimize hassle and time spent in customs/immigration.
There are also instances where an upon-arrival visa is the better option.

You’re planning a long trip, but don’t quite have it mapped out yet. Why buy a visa if your plans end up changing?

Visas expire. If you can only obtain a 10-day visa and effective as soon as it is issued, best to wait until you arrive to start the countdown clock.
It could save you money. Paying for your visa at your destination is cheaper than doing so through a consulate.
It’s also a good idea to pack extra passport photos, your immunization information, copies of your important information, and access to your proof of funds especially if you are planning on purchasing visas on the go. Happy travels!

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Best places for a true digital detox

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Imagine a world where you aren’t constantly interrupted by work emails, notifications, tweets or texts. A world where you can get lost in your thoughts and connect with the beautiful world around you. If the fear of being out of touch forever is overwhelming, consider one of these digital detox vacations instead. You might just find that a life without buzzing smart phones and TV is the right one for you!

St. Vincent and the Grenadines: The Caribbean archipelago of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which encompasses 32 tropical islands, is one of the first in the world to offer “digital detox” packages. These packages include TV free hotel rooms, WiFi free zones and concierges who collect digital devices at the front desk. They’ve even prepared detailed guides to help you acclimate to a tech-free vacation.

Amankora, Bhutan: This remote destination is an ideal spot for those who want to escape the high-tech world, thanks to the stunning backdrop of the Himalayan Mountains and plethora of invigorating experiences. For true relaxation, indulge in a hot stone bath. Locals mix river water with Artemisia leaves and heat it with fire-warmed river stones. You won’t be tempted to connect, not only because you’re experiencing self enlightenment, but also because there’s no internet.

Mirval Resort & Spa, Tucson, Arizona: Located in the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona, this wellness resort is designed for relaxation. They teach courses on healthy lifestyle changes, including altering relationships with digital devices to foster healthy digital habits. When not in class, take advantage of yoga classes, go horseback riding, take a long hike, or try challenging group fitness class.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland, Finland: If the cold is more your thing, get cozy in a glass or snow igloo at this arctic resort. While they won’t take your phones from you, you’ll be too mesmerized by the northern lights, twinkling stars, reindeer safaris, and dogsledding adventures to check your devices.

Serengeti Safari Camp, Tanzania: Follow the wildebeest migration through plains and river crossings on this nomadic safari trip. You’ll see plenty of other animals along the way too, like lions, elephants, hippos and more. A private guide will lead you through this enriching wildlife experience. While there are some creature comforts, the internet is not one of them, but you won’t miss it a bit while you’re on this adventure.

The InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Natadola Bay, Fiji: Travelers can take the “Ultimate Business Break” here, and trade in technology for a personal Itokani Butler. If the Butler catches you checking your emails during your stay, you’ll be forced to enjoy pool time and cocktails as punishment.

Ask our travel specialists about booking a digital detox getaway. Enjoy your time off the grid!

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How to Tip Around the World

How to Tip Around the World

Tipping should be easy: you receive good service, so you leave a little money to show your appreciation of said service. It’s not that simple though. Tipping is not a standardized practice, and everyone has different ideas on who gets what.

Traveling outside of familiar borders only adds to the complex tipping question. Are you somehow embarrassing yourself or the staff by leaving a little extra, or are you not leaving enough? Be sure to ask us about any destination for insider information on tipping. You can also use our quick reference guide below to get a good idea of what to leave for great service.

General Tipping guide

Bellman/Baggage Porter: $1-2 per bag, more if extremely heavy
Bartender: $1 per drink or 15% of final bill
Concierge: $5-10 each time you receive personal assistance
Cruise (busboy): $2 per person/per day*
Cruise (cabin steward): $4 per person/per day*
Cruise (waiter): $4 per person/per day*
Doorman/Hailer of Taxis: $1
Housekeeping/Maid: $2 per day
Room Service: 15%
Shuttle/Bus Driver: $2 per person
Taxi Driver: 10-15%
Tour Guide (short tour): $2 per person for a half-day tour, $3 for full-day tour
Tour Guide (long tour): $3-8 per person per day
Valet Parking Attendant: $1-2
Waiter: 15-20%**

* Some cruise lines include gratuity in their fares. We’ll let you know when we book your cruise.

** In Europe and Asia, some restaurants automatically add a “service charge” and do not expect tips. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter if this charge is included.

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** In Europe and Asia, some restaurants automatically add a “service charge” and do not expect tips. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter if this charge is included.

Caribbean Cruising this December for Only $100 per day!

Fun in the Sun with Royal Caribbean Cruise line!

Fun in the Sun with Royal Caribbean Cruise line!

Let the sun shine on you and your family this December when you set sail from Florida on a 5 night Caribbean cruise! Celebrate an early Christmas with this extremely affordable Caribbean cruise, starting at just $100 a night.

Beginning in sunny Tampa, Florida, you will set sail to your first port stop in beautiful George Town, Grand Cayman. Georgetown is the capital of the Cayman Islands and one of the most popular cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean, thanks to its year-round tropical weather, white sand beaches and clear blue waters. Don’t miss Stingray City and diving and snorkeling near the coral reef. Georgetown offers plenty of duty-free shopping, restaurants and cafes. If you can pull yourself away from the beach, try an excursion to one of the West Indies’ few remaining tropical rain forests.

Stingray-City, Cayman Islands

Your next stop will be in Cozumel, Mexico, one of the top diving destinations in the world for its bright storybook coral reefs, and a variety of pristine beaches. Choose a beach with soft white sand for relaxing, or snorkel off a rockier vista. A destination for both adventure and romance, Cozumel has a year-round Caribbean climate, untrammeled jungle and abundant nightlife.

Enjoy a few days at sea with Royal Caribbean’s friendly staff, amazing accommodations, world-class dining and endless fun entertainment. There is always something to do on the magnificent Brilliance of the Seas®, a beautiful Radiance-class ship that combines sleek swiftness, panoramic vistas, and wide-open spaces. With acres of glass enclosing the nine-story central atrium, elevators facing the sea, and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, you’ll never be at a loss for an incredible view. Bask at the tranquil Solarium pool, recharge at VitalitySM Spa, or reach new heights on our signature rock-climbing wall. When the sun goes down, the night heats up with Broadway-style shows, Casino Royale®, plus 16 bars and lounges that never feature a cover. It’s the amazing vacation you’ve been searching for.

Enjoy a dip on the Brilliance of the Seas.

Click here for more details and contact our helpful travel specialists to book your winter escape today.

Cruise & Travel Masters
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