Top things to do with a day in Bonaire

Bonaire is a small little Island in the Caribbean down towards South America.  It is one of the Dutch Islands known as the ABC Islands.  We happened to stop there on a Southern Caribbean Princess Cruise.   It is situated right outside the Hurricane belt so no worries about weather.  The island is pretty small and at first most might not even take notice of it as a cruise stop or a vacation destination.

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The little Island delivers though!!!   It has some of the most amazing snorkeling and is a well known dive site.  The waters are crystal clear which make it great for any underwater adventures.  As you cruise around the Island you will see divers everywhere.  They are on every stop you see.  They dive everywhere along the Island no special drop off necessary.  I chatted with a couple and they told me it’s the best diving in the Caribbean.

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We have not acquired our PADI yet so we usually snorkel.   This stop though we chose to go with a golf cart and cruise the Island.  Wow!  What a great choice we made.   Sometimes getting of the ship with a huge amount of people all waiting to do the same thing is a little bit of a drag.  So we opted to just get off the ship at our leisure and see what we could.  After a bit of a back and forth over a scooter. Neither of us have ever drove one.    The woman way “come on it will be fun”, the man way “are you kidding you just had your hip replaced”.  We ended up with the golf cart.  It was the best decision ever.

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We ended up with a cart for the full day and we were able to see basically the whole Island on our own time and stopping where we wanted.  We did one half of the island first.  Bonaire is home to many nature reserves one being the Flamingos.

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Bonaire is home to salt flats.  It’s a unique sight and you see the various stages of salt as it goes through different processes.  This is pink beach and yes that is all salt.  We picked up a few different packages from cooking to bathing on the way back to the ship.

Bonaire Salt Flats

There are many slave huts throughout the island.  It’s a sad but vivid portrait of the history of the island.

Bonaire Slave huts

Culinary delights abound at Foodies where we had a fantastic lunch with some of the best food we have eaten in the Caribbean.  You definitely need the golf cart to get there or the scooter.    I had the Foodies Bites Surprised Mixed Platter with the Chef surprising you with a mixture of Dutch bites.  It was delicious and the hubby even approved.   They have quite a lot of different Dutch style lunches and dinners and I always love to experience a place with it’s food.  So if you happen to visit enjoy it’s a wonderful place to eat and the ambiance and location fantastic.

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So if you happen to be in Bonaire and are not diving or snorkeling rent a golf cart at Bonaire Cruises.  Cruise the island at your leisure and make sure to stop at Foodies for lunch or dinner.  If you would allow me I would love to assist you in a cruise to the Southern Caribbean.  Just let me know.

 

Top 7 ways to save money on a cruise vacation

Top 7 tips to save money on a cruise

 

Whether you are going for the first time or are a frequent cruiser there are various ways to save money when you go on a cruise.  From booking the cruise, excursions, and even while onboard. These simple tips can help you not break your bank when traveling and save money on a cruise.  Unless you want to go all out which is really fun too.  So read along as I help you learn “How to save money on a cruise”

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Everyone always wants to know how to save money on booking a cruise.  The various boards are full of post on how to get the best deal on a cruise.  How to get the best pricing, when, where, and on and on.  Well here is the number one lesson from a Travel Advisor.  Use a Travel Advisor.

I know, I can here you saying I can book it myself right?  Why yes you most certainly can but a Travel Advisor has the ability to check many different cruises at the same time.  They have access to sales from there own agency that you don’t.  They have groups that they could add you into that will give you a little extra something like and onboard credit.  They also can use whatever you received from the cruise line as a bonus when they book your trip.

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Tip number 2 sometimes the earlier the better especially if you want a certain cabin.  You can always update pricing if a sale comes out that is better along the way.  So you are in the cabin you want and when a sale comes up your Travel Advisor would just rebook you into the new sale if it is beneficial.

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Tip number 3 There are certain times of the year that prices drop for cruises.  A good Travel Advisor knows this and will help you with the timing.  That is if you don’t need the cruise to be during a certain time frame.

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Tip number 4 Saving money while on ship can be done.  I remember our first cruise, we bought the ship out I think.  Pictures, spa, drinks, specialty dining, shopping, excursions, Casino ect ect.  It was new and we were excited.  It was FUN!  We received our bill at the end and were WOW!  All in and all no regrets.  We enjoy our memories and I laugh and can tell you about it now.  So on ship there are extras and these all can add up.  My suggestion only do the things you really want to do.  Only purchase the pictures you really like not all the whole pack that you can never put up on your wall.

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Tip number 5 Excursions are great but can add up at every port.  My suggestion take a look a head of time at what you would like to do.  Sometimes if it’s not a crazy long trip in the jungle two hours you can pick up an excursion in port.  Like we did renting a golf cart in Bonaire.  You will learn about this later this week when our next update post.

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Tip number 6 Onboard credits, drink packages, free internet, the list goes on an on.  Everyone has things that are important for them.  Some don’t care for internet so this does not matter to them.  Others it’s a drink package they won’t use.  So for the perks on board companies like Norwegian often run a sale with pick 5 free and you choose between what they are offering.  Companies like Princess often run an onboard credit sale.  You can then take your on-board credit and use it for what you want.   There is usually a sale that can fit any traveler.  All these will help you save money on a cruise.

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Tip number 7 there are many other tips a travel advisor has for saving money on cruising one of my favorites is go River Cruising where the price you pay is the price for basically everything .  There are not a lot of extras as your excursions are included.   Overall cruising is an excellent value for your money.  You see many places, unpack once, food is included, and you have entertainment on board.  What are you waiting for GO CRUISING!  I hope you enjoyed the Top 7 things to save money on a cruise.

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If you have any questions on cruising or travel do not hesitate to reach out and I would love to help you.  Who are you traveling with?  Travel with T

 

Finding Luxury on Princess Cruises

Emerald PrincessSo if you have popped in because the Luxury Minimalist tag caught your eye read on.  I call my travel style Luxury Minimalist.  I like a little bit of Luxury and a little bit of price.  So I find that while cruising on Princess Cruise line.

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Now if you follow me at all you know my favorite way to travel is River Cruising but I do enjoy an Ocean Cruise too.  Ocean Cruising is the perfect style of travel for me.  I love to see several different places on one trip.  Ocean Cruising offers it up on a silver platter with Princess Cruises.

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So why is Princess Cruises so appealing to the Luxury Minimalist?   First off they offer a on-board credit for Military service.  So my husband the “Gunny” being a retired USMC we usually come away with 100.00 right off the bat.  We usually can be found using it in the Casino or the Spa.

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Princess also offers 100.00 onboard credit for cruising 7 days as a stockholder.  Which can be quite a little perk if you travel on any of the CCL brands including Holland American, Princess, and Carnival Cruises.

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The Luxury Minimalist in me loves the little extra service that Princess seems to provide.  Booking a balcony cabin or a mini-suite is a little piece of heaven as you sail through Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Ultimate ALASKA.

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Princess treats you just a bit above some of the other lines we have experienced.  I am all about being pampered in the SPA.  Which just so happens to be one of my favorite onboard activities.

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Your entertainment on-board is included from Vegas style shows, to Comedy, to game shows where the talent are your fellow passengers.  I feel the return on your dollar is very good.

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You are able to see many different places on the same cruise.  This is one of my favorite aspects.    I love getting out and seeing things.  Enjoying everything the destination has to offer.   So being able to visit and see different Islands or even countries highly appeals to my wanderlust.

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Can I say PACKING AND UNPACKING ONLY ONCE!  You never have to worry about getting back to the hotel for your next city or country.  You unpack and you are settled until you depart for home.  This is one of my favorite things.  The fashionista in me lets me take a little more luggage then I do for something like Europe.  For Europe I always tend to pack a little lighter but I mix and match a lot of items.  If I am on the move I don’t want to have to haul around too much luggage.  I liked the Samsonite Omni I picked up on Amazon for easy travel when I am in Europe or for an extra piece when cruising.   For the Ocean Cruise I don’t have to worry about a thing because I unpack only once.

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The cabin steward is a luxury in itself.  They visit you twice a day taking care of your room, ice for your drinks and anything you may need in your stateroom while you are aboard.  Would you like robes for your time on-board ask your room steward.  When they arrive in the evening for turn down they arrive with lovely little chocolates that are left on your bed.

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So for a little luxury on your vacation a cruise is one of the nicest adventure at sea you can take.  Princess works for me but it could be Celebrity, Seabourn, Cunard or Holland American for you.

Some of the things I took on my cruise that I really loved Dream Pairs Women’s Open Peep Platform Summer Sandal.  If you happened to catch my voice performance on ship I had these on.  Comfortable and I loved them.  So many complements.  For one evening dinner I wore Urban K Women’s Racer Back Jumpsuit.  This is definitely a keeper and can travel well.  You can mix and match it with anything.  So if you would like to try a cruise I would love to help you book it.  Just use the form to contact me below.   You can also support my blog by purchasing the items I have tried.   (If you like them)  This post contains references to products we have used. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

Take a look at our You Tube Channel for additional information just click on our link.  Travel with T on You Tube

What is the best way to see Vietnam and Cambodia?

What is the best way to see Vietnam and Cambodia?  When you think about Vietnam and Cambodia what pops into your mind?

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Do you imagine gliding along the Mekong Delta sipping on a Mai-tai as you watch a family washing their cow on the bank of the river?  Do you picture looking out from your open air panoramic window that takes up the whole wall of your suite?  What about having morning coffee as you watch Buddhist monks gathering along the bank to watch you as get ready to step off your boat?  Do you imagine evening dinner dining on local regional specialties that are not only there to entice your eyes but delight your palate.  These are indeed some of the things we experienced on our Luxury River Cruise along Mekong Delta.

Floating Markets

To experience Vietnam and Cambodia there is no better way than a Luxury River Cruise.

Life on the Delta

 

A journey along the Mekong Delta is a fascinating immersion in ancient traditions, cultures and history.   As you glide down the Mekong you are witness to centuries old traditions and culture that will create memories and experiences you are not likely to forget.  You will be immersed in iconic scenery as you view life along the delta, from silk towns, fishing villages, floating markets, to monasteries.  The crown jewel on your luxury river cruise if you choose to go from Vietnam Cambodia (which I recommend) is Cambodia’s Ankor Watt.  This is truly a trip of a lifetime.

View from our stateroom

The truth is most will not imagine visiting Vietnam and Cambodia on luxury river cruise but there is no better way to immerse yourself in the culture and experiences of life on the Delta.  Its where you can visit a local family and be invited to share what life is like as they invite you into their home.  Visit the floating markets and spend time with a local fisherman as he shares his family’s life on the delta.

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As you pull up towards the embankment you realize you are not pulling up to a dock you are docking on the bank.  You step off into a small village of silk weavers and your visit helps to support and maintain an art that is not only beautiful but not easily learned.  To experience these opportunities it would take months of journeying through the country.  With a river cruise the work has all been done for you.  You unpack once your luxury hotel travels with you and you make new friends along the way.

 

Blessed in Ankor Watt

To truly visit a place is to experience it’s people and a river cruise allows you just that opportunity.  What about a chance of a life stop in one of the small local villages to spend time helping to teach English in Cambodia?  Truly unique and so very rewarding these are the experiences that build memories that last a lifetime.  These are the experiences you can live on a River Cruise.

Cooking Cambodian Style

So if you are looking for a little adventure with a little bit of luxury included a River Cruise along the Mekong Delta might just be what you are looking for.

The Monkey’s of Ankor Watt

If you would like any information about booking a Luxury River Cruise in Asia or any of the other amazing destinations please contact me and I would love to help you.  I am a River Cruise Travel Agent Specialist.

 

 

River Cruising the Art of Luxury

The art of luxury river cruising

River Cruising
River Cruising

River Cruising and the Art of Luxury

Picture gliding down an ancient river with a gentle breeze just sweeping across face as you sit sipping a glass of wine from the local region you are visiting.   You’re escorted down the river with picturesque countryside and you never worry about unpacking and packing, you never worry how you are going to get from one destination to the next, you never worry about paying for anything on board, you never worry about making a bed, or even what you are going to eat.  

 

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You dine on regional specialties and traditional fare that is not only delicious but a feast for the eyes as well.  All the while in casual comfort.

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A casual yet refined style of travel known as river cruising is blooming into a new style of travel for most.   The value for the lifestyle is enough to make the luxury minimalist drool a little.   Try pricing out everything you do and see on a river cruise individually and your head will spin as the dollar signs start to rise.   It appears almost exponentially as you start adding things like transfers, comfortable hotels, and exquisite meals.   Yes, I guess you could go really budget and stay in a hostel but why?

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Travel is meant to be a journey, not rushed, not hurried but a wonderful journey into life.   It is not only the destination you discover but the culture and the people.  It’s meant to be smooth, it’s meant to be lived.  It’s meant to be EXPERIENCED.  I captured these moments with my love Nikon 3300 SR I can’t tell you how many times I have dropped it and it still works amazing.

 

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Daily Life along the Mekong Delta

 

 

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Floating Markets in Cambodia

 

The only thing I regret is I hadn’t discovered it sooner.  For those with a passion to travel and experience river cruising provides a wonderful venue for you.  Your back drop is the world and your mode of transport is a vessel that glides along the most beautiful rivers.   If you are lucky to choose the correct line you may be presented with a panoramic view and more than likely you will settle for no less later on.  Yet for the budget minded you can also experience everything a river cruise has to offer in a room with slightly different set up that still will provide you all the experience and wonder you desire.

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There she is my girl Nikon 3300 SR

 

From the Castles of Europe to the exotic venues of Asia you will not be disappointed.  If there is a navigable waterway there is likely a river cruise company that will carry you on your journey.  Gone is the hustle and bustle of the larger lines here you find the destination is the experience.  Everything glides along in a river pace.  Not to be confused with nothing to do and boring because as I mentioned earlier the destination is the discovery and the experience.   You are free to relax and enjoy on your own or join the group as they go out and explore each new stop.  Discover River Cruising and the Art of Luxury you will not be disappointed.dsc_0289

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Contact Travel with T @ TravelwithTtoday.com to discover your next destination discovery

The best time to plan your vacation

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SW Colorado Photo Credit Travel with T

I have to admit every time I see those statistics of people not using their vacation it just makes me cringe.  I actually feel the chalk board nails grinding across the board and I quiver as that feeling creeps up my spine.  I want to run out the door as if it might be catching and scream in horror.  What if I too am infected and I also waste my coveted golden vacation days.  The thought itself is enough to send me into an all out search for my next travel adventure or faith journey.

As I person who travels but also plans travel I often get the question when is the best time to plan my vacation?   My answer today!  Why?  Because why not?  If you don’t start  now when?   Will you too leave your vacation hours sitting there unused and hold on!  Stop the presses!  Or, Gasp! you may lose or for that matter waste them if you have not used them.  I cringe at the thought.

 

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Puerto Rico Photo Credit Travel with T

So the reality is if you want to take a vacation and you want to go somewhere it takes planning.  You just have to get out there and do it.  There is no time that is better than today for making those plans.  Why?  The reason is if you want to go somewhere that takes just a little planning.  Lets just say Europe as in example.  Do you need visas?   Where do you want to go?  How long can you stay?  How are you going to get there and get around?   Lots of planning but that should never stop you even if it’s seems overwhelming.  The earlier the better I say.  Also get the help of a travel planner early on they can save you a ton of time and headache and also some cash.

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Princess Cruises Photo Credit Travel with T

It’s to your advantage say to book a cruise or a tour in advance and one of the reasons why is PAYMENTS for those who can’t spend the total right off the back and maybe don’t want to pay interest if you charged it.   For instance, most cruise lines allow you to book a year or more in advance and your small deposit holds your room until final payment date usually a few months out.  So that gives you plenty of time during the year to put money towards your vacation.  I can hear the words now, I don’t want to cruise or what if I can’t go at the time I think.    Cruise lines are incredible at that and most of them are flexible.  Even when you book a year out with them and a couple of months before something happens and you can’t go.  No worries as long as you are within 60 days out or so just move your cruise out to a more suitable time.   Especially if you purchase insurance than you really have flexibility.   The whole idea of a time share is so that you GO on vacation.  I say skip the time share and plan your vacation.   That simple..

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Assisi Italy photo credit Travel with T

For those not wanting a cruise a land based vacation at an all-inclusive resort can pretty much be done the same way.  Decide where you want to go.   You place a deposit which is usually more than the cruise deposit but still not the total price of the package.   Then you can pay it as the months go by. You can also wait until final payment usually 60 days out or so and pay it off then also.  Then as the months go by you dream.    This gives you ample time to enjoy the vacation before the vacation as you dream and do some research on your choice.    Many companies that a travel agent can find you will even let you move it to a different date if you need to.

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Mazatlán Mexico Photo Credit Travel with T

So again why are you waiting?   Why aren’t you traveling?  Really there are no excuses you have the time, you can spread your financial obligation out with no interest for up to sometimes over a year.  There are many who get a tax refund and it’s gone on nothing a vacation will give you a lifetime of memories worth much more than a new TV.   You have vacation it has been proven to help people deal better, handle stress easier, and relax more.   So if the beach, ocean, mountains, or some far away country beckons get on it.  Time and VACATION are a wasting.

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Bahamas Photo Credit Travel with T

Why River Cruising is the best way to see Europe

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Travel with T Photography

I have experienced one of the best ways to see certain parts of Europe in a short amount of time which is the American Vacation and that is River Cruising.   Everything is taken care of including getting around the various countries.  No worries over hotels, where to eat, what to do, and countless hours getting to and from someplace.

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In late fall right around Thanksgiving we opted for a different style of travel.  We selected our first River Cruise.  We were very delighted and extremely satisfied and discovered this type is travel is well suited to the luxury minimalist.  There is nothing more satisfying then gliding down one of Europe’s ancient waterways in complete comfort.   From castles, to historic cities, to story book villages you are traveling on a luxury hotel and your trip is as smooth as glass in more ways then one.

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Think luxury hotel, concierge, all inclusive, all in a pace to allow you to see the sights and sounds of a delightful cities along the way.   Think someone to take care of you every step of your journey from your room to your food and drink now this is river cruising.   Comfort, elegance, active, romantic are some of the words I would use to describe this wonderful mode of travel.   For me I discovered there really isn’t anything more romantic than sitting with a glass of wine as you glide down the Rhine taking in the sights of Europe.  Sitting back and just dreaming of how throughout the centuries people have traveled along this river.  Then to think you are doing the same thing except with a little more elegance and definitely more comfort.

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Travel with T Photography

We opted to cruise the Rhine over the holidays and just in time for the start of Advent season.  What a charming time of the year, everything is decorated in Christmas splendor and the Christmas markets are a wonderful breath of fresh air.  You are surrounded by extraordinary delectable delicacies to suit any fancy.

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Travel with T Photography

Now being the luxury minimalist the timing is very good because the prices have dropped, this makes it a great value for the product you are getting. Edging into winter the temperatures are dropping, the sun sets earlier and it is becoming colder.  Fair weathered travelers don’t necessarily want to travel because temperatures are often not ideal.  The crowds are fewer because it is cooler.  Yet here you will discover the Christmas markets which always seem to have crowds.   They are filled with delightful smells and the warmth of many of Europe’s traditional Christmas pastries.   Here you just join in the fun and have a glass of Gluewhine (hot spiced wine)  one of my favorite little indulgences.  A visit to Europe during this time is magical. and a whirl wind of colors that fill the eyes with an experience you will not likely forget.

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The lines are pretty much non existent and you can see what you desire without the rush of summer travel.   You can visit many awe inspirational places of prayer and worship without the press of time from those who in summer are rushing to get to the next tourist attraction.  The brisk weather creates an experience not be missed as the clouds and mist gather around your backdrop of castles.  It is completely magical.

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Travel with T Photography

So if you really want to see Europe and experience some amazing travel try off season travel.   Bundle up enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas in Europe and try and book a River-cruise you won’t regret it.   It can really save you some money, time, and is a great value.  It appeals to my luxury minimalist style which means it comes in a a great price for a valuable product.

I would love to help you plan your next River Cruise.  Just send me a little note and let me know what you are looking for.

 

Traveling through Baja California:Destination Ensenada Wineries

 

Cetto Winery

Wineries in obscure places that are completely out of the way are my favorite.   I happened to be spending a little time around Ensenada when I found out they have wineries.  Ensenada is in Baja, California a long time destination for Southern Calif weekend vacationers.  I had been there several times and never made it past the Buffaladora, the restaurants and the bars.  I really never took a moment to discover they offer so much more.

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To my delight, I discovered they housed several local wineries.  In the valleys of San Vicente, Santo Tomas and Guadalupe is what is refereed to as the wine growing region of Baja California.  Just about 90% of Mexico’s table wines come out of this region.  Including Bodegas de Santo Tomas, founded in 1888.

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It appears that much of the Baja peninsula has a semi-desert climate.  You only have to drive through to notice this.  Yet, in Ensenada’s region there is a cold marine current, providing a Mediterranean climate, and it is ideal for growing wine grapes here.  Ensenada has warm summers and mild winters, and many sunny days with cool nights especially during the growing season.  I have learned that every wine growing area tends to produce a style of wine unique to there region.

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Many of the wines in this region have obtained international recognition, and are even exported to Europe, the United States, and Canada.  It’s really an amazing little place right down the southern coast.   We happened on it by chance really.  We were on a Princess Cruise and it was listed as one of the excursions.  So I was like wine yeah I am on top of it.   Drug the husband along and could not have had a better trip.

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We got a chance to visit 3 of the wineries in the area  La Casa Dona Lupe  and L.A. Cetto use old-world methods, and we came to learn that both have become pioneers in Mexico’s wine development.    Both wineries have been plying their craft for hundreds of years and are highly respected for their expertise in the production of sherry, wine and brandy. Oh and in case you think you are going away empty handed you are given a souvenir wine bottle as a gift to take with you.   Visit and winery and then get a bottle of free wine can’t beat that.

Dona Lupe Wine

All in all a great little one day trip if you are visiting the area and one of the best excursions we have been on.  Simplistic yet wonderful and FREE wine.  dona lupe wine 1

This is the lovely Dona Lupe who has been running her winery for quite some time.  She was gracious enough to pose for a picture.

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The cruise itself was traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and it’s final leg of the journey was Ensenada.  I would love to help you take a journey to visit Ensenada’s winery’s either on a cruise or on your own.   TravelwithT.mtravel.com

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Cruising it’s all about Princess or maybe “The Princess”

 

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Puerto Vallarta on Princess Cruises

We have been cruising for several years now and have quite a number under our belt. Our choice being Princess for there superb service, classically beautiful design, destinations, and military friendliness.   For the ultimate experience and pampering you really can’t beat it.  For instance I am a Elite member and this includes yup a free mini bar set up.

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For the luxury minimalist it is a very nice room especially if you book a balcony.   I get to bring two YES two bottles of wine on board and I really love my wine.   I have a room steward who comes to take care of my room twice a day.  I can order room service to be served on my balcony if I booked one over looking that big beautiful ocean.   Or I can have them open my wine as I just sit and relax in ultimate comfort.  It really has a lot of featured comforts that can’t be beat.

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On the Ruby Princess Ocean View with obstruction ok ok it’s a little messy.

 

For this cruise we chose a ocean view obstructed room on the Ruby Princess and it was cabin E632.   We had a great window and there was hardly any obstruction at all.   A little noise in the morning from the opening of the storage door below but really nothing.  When you book an ocean view obstructed you can just about get anything.  It can be completely obstructed to really nothing to speak of.  I try to usually go on line and make sure I am getting a room that is not totally blocked.   This is always a great value and is comparable to a interior room and less than a full ocean view in price.   It’s a great deal if you are not spending a lot of time in the room.

E532 Ocean View Obstructed on the Ruby Princess Can you see the obstruction?
E632 Ocean View Obstructed on the Ruby Princess Can you see the obstruction?

I chose the ocean view obstructed because we were traveling with a group this time and was pretty sure I would not be in the room too much.  I was not disappointed as this view was great!  The cabin fantastic.

E 532 Ruby Princess Ocean view with Obstruction
E 632 Ruby Princess Ocean view with Obstruction

Our cruise this time was to the Mexican Rivera our stops were Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.   I have to say my favorite used to be Puerto Vallarta but I really enjoyed Mazatlan this time.  We chose a self guided taxi ride that took us throughout the city and out to the beach area to somewhere called Playa Bruja area.   We stopped and had lunch at a little place right on the beach.

Matzatlan, Mexico Playa Bruja
Matzatlan, Mexico Playa Bruha

The food was classic seafood style Mexican.  I chose grilled lobster which was very good.  Now I have to say that is was not as good as the little lobster village down in Baja California called Puerto Nuevo but it was close.  I was serenaded upon request of course as I enjoyed my lunch with great company.

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Cruising with Friends is always good

If you have never taken a cruise it is wonderful and one of my husbands favorite vacations.  He really enjoys the idea of unpacking once yet seeing multiple places.  It’s great if you just want to step your foot into various places before you make a longer trip.  In the United States our vacation time is some of the shortest in the working world so most try to make the most of the short time.   A cruise is perfect in this aspect because you can see a lot in a relatively small time frame.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Photo Credit Travel with T

For those who just want to enjoy the sea it’s perfect.  You can stroll upon the decks or sit in the International Café and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a nice cup of loose leaf tea.  There is no better place on ship for my favorite past time people watching then the Piazza.

Wine is better on a Cruise
Wine is better on a Cruise Photo Credit Travel with T
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Piazza on the Ruby Princess Photo Credit Teresa Halsey Hollar TravelwithT.net
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Piazza on the Ruby Princess Photo Credit Teresa Halsey Hollar

As always if you enjoyed my review of Princess and would like more information please contact me.  I would love to help you book your destination discovery.

 

 

River Cruising for the Luxury minimalist can we say Viking

DSC_0272 Christmas Markets along the Rhine

Winter, Christmas, Rhine, and River Cruising these definitely are a few of my favorite things.   So when we were scheduled to be in Europe we opted  to pick up a last minute river cruise cancellation.  The deal was not too bad especially for a luxury minimalist as we paid sale price for the cruise due to the last minute cancellation.  It averaged out to a 50 percent reduction on the full cost of the cruise.  Not to bad for my luxury taste and a shoestring budget.

IMG_1640IMG_1635Our Veranda Room

We had a veranda class room which means it has a classic room with a seating area.   What this means is we had an actual balcony with chairs outside to sit at if we chose.  It’s not your typical balcony style as cruise ships have but actually not bad at all.  Also floor to ceiling window glass makes for an incredible cruising experience.   Another popular choice is a French balcony which would have not had the little Veranda sitting area.  It still has the wall to wall window that opens up to provide fresh air (in warmer months) and you are able to lean over a little and enjoy the sights, sounds and experience river cruising gazing at the scenery.   Completely budget friendly and you still have great views.  I would not hesitate to book this style at all.

DSC_0068 Middle Rhine

I have to say being an avid ocean cruiser I did not know what to expect although expected that I would like it.  River cruises always appear to cost more than an average cruise and when you try and compare the two it’s really apples to oranges.   River Cruises are a different product all together and much different really than a ocean cruise.  In my humble opinion there appears to be more bang for your buck with River Cruising than ocean.  Definitely worth the cost.  You are able to see more and do more than a typical style vacation where you are trying to get from one point to another.  In River Cruising it’s taken care of for you.

IMG_1648 One of my favorite people

Viking Cruises did not disappoint me in any way.  From the moment we walked aboard until the moment we departed.  You are presented with a much more intimate form of cruising.  The vessels are smaller and the service is impeccable.   Your price includes not only your floating hotel but your meals, not to exclude wine and beer at dinner and at lunch, but also your tours in every stop you make.  You even have the option to purchase additional tours while you are in the various ports.  Transport to and from the different areas if needed is also included.  This might be somewhere that has a city center that may be a little farther away from the dock.   On an ocean cruise you arrive and you are on your own unless you have purchased or purchase on shore a pre-planned tour package or transport.

IMG_1652  Chef’s were always awesome on Viking Kvasir

Of course the luxury  minimalist is always looking for not only a little luxury but also value in the product she is purchasing.   Viking river cruise on the Rhine supplied just that.   Hotel rooms are not only smaller In Europe but very expensive if you want to be close to the city centers.   At 50 plus being the luxury minimalist I prefer not to choose to stay at a hostel.  Which would completely offer affordability but not much on luxury.  I am just fine staying at a nice hotel in the center of town adjacent and close to things. Because train, tram, and bus travel adds up when you are trying to see various places.

So river cruising is a great value for the money.  Your floating hotel is with you, your transportation is provided, you have a tour guide if you want to take advantage of it, your meals are included, and to top if off so are drinks.  Well beer and wine at least for lunch and dinner.  Give me wine and I am sold.  Ok, so the picture is of a beer but you get the point.

IMG_1654 My typical lunch beverage

IMG_1653Lunch on the Aquavit Terrace served daily

So once you can get over the sticker price shock and then start to realize the value of the service you are being given and you understand the said value it’s really a fantastic option.   I cannot think of one area where Viking failed me.  From start to finish the product was top notch.   Service was everything that it had promised and more.   There was not one moment that anything we needed was not available or easily acquired.   I never let on I was in the travel industry as not to change their perception or mine.

DSC_0108 Scenic Cruising at it’s finest

On a River Cruise similar to an Ocean Cruise they have what is known as the Program Director except the program director on a river cruise is completely accessible and is on the ground when you depart the ship.  He or she and the concierge make sure everything is in order on the ground, that everything is coordinating and that the local tour guides are there, ready, and have everything they need too.   They make sure you understand they are available and even go on various tours with you.  It’s pretty cool really and you are taken care of very well.  It’s that extra little step to make sure you have a wonderful time.  You will never be lost, and losing valuable time up trying to find things, places, streets, hotels, trams, buses and everything else that goes along with that.   When you only have so much time for your vacation and are using your hard earned cash this makes all the difference in the world.

IMG_2049 German food while we were in Cologne

Meals on board are exceptional with a nightly dinner for all in the main dining area.  Often featuring local cuisine styles and chef inspired creations.   Most of the evenings we chose what the chef recommended and were completely satisfied and often delighted.  It’s fine dining and more.

IMG_1700 Enjoying our evening with wine of course

We chose Vikings “Rhine Getaway” River Cruise which began in Amsterdam with a visit to Kinderdijk for a visit to Netherlands UNESCO Windmills.  We were then on to Cologne, Germany for a visit to Colognes magnificent Gothic Cathedral dating 1248 another UNESCO site.  It was then on to Koblenz and a tour of Marksburg Castle which took around 700 years to build.  We traveled down to Rudesheim gliding along the most scenic portion of the Rhine filled with medieval  castles, quaint little towns, picturesque countryside, while passing the Lorelei, a legendary rock formation rising 440 feet above the river.   From this it was on to Heidelbery & Speyer and then on to Strasbourg, France.

DSC_0298 Strasbourg, France Photo Credit TravelwithT.net

The final two stops were the Black Forest in Germany and concluding in Basel, Switzerland.    So in 8 days you will see 4 countries, amazing history, as well as some of the most amazing scenery in the region.  Christmas if fantastic for seeing this region often with less traffic then the summer season.  Not to mention those fabulous Christmas Markets.

IMG_1744 View from Cathedral to Christmas Market Photo Credit TravelwithT.net

In the next part of this series I will delve a little more into the sights and sounds of the Christmas Markets and the places themselves.

As always if you have any interest in any kind of travel please don’t hesitate to let me know.  I would be happy to help you book as that is how I make  living.