Fast-growing Viking to have six ocean ships by 2020

AMSTERDAM — River cruise giant Viking’s move into ocean cruising is poised to accelerate with the line operating six vessels at sea as early as September 2020.

A company executive on Tuesday revealed an official timetable for the arrival of its fifth and sixth ocean ships: June 2018 and September 2020, respectively. As previously announced, three other ships on order will debut by late 2017.

All of the ships will be sisters to the company’s first ocean ship, the 930-passengerViking Star, which debuted in April 2015.

The disclosure of a firm timetable for the arrival of the company’s fifth and sixth ocean ships came during a press conference preceding the christening of six Viking river ships along the Amsterdam waterfront.

Offering an updated outlook for Viking’s expansion into ocean cruising, Viking executive Jeff Dash said the company would take delivery of its second ocean ship, Viking Sea, on March 24 from the shipyard in Italy where it has been under construction for more than a year. The next two vessels in the series, Viking Sky and Viking Sun, are now scheduled for delivery on Feb. 15, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2017, respectively, Dash said.

Dash then went on to list the months for the debut of Viking’s fifth and sixth ships, which he called “unnamed one” and “to-be-named two,” apparently forgetting that such specifics had yet to be publicly announced.

“But I don’t think we’ve announced all of them yet, have we,” he said, turning to other Viking executives at the press conference.

“No, we haven’t,” said a company spokesperson sitting in the back, who then added, laughing, “we just did.”

Viking’s rollout of new ships is on track to be one of the fastest on record for a new ocean line. Assuming the timetable holds, Viking will surpass one of its closet competitors, Azamara Club Cruises, in passenger capacity later this month, and it’ll be bigger than rival Oceania Cruises by 2020. Including a new ship starting service in April, Oceania’s vessels now have a capacity for 5,236 passengers at double occupancy. Viking’s planned rollout of ships will give it a capacity of 5,580 passengers by 2020. Oceania has no new ships on the way after April.

Viking is competing closely with Azamara and Oceania with similarly upscale, destination-focused voyages on ships in the 650 to 1,250 passenger range.

Viking also soon will have more capacity than luxury lines Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Crystal Cruises, which also operate small- to medium-size ships. Viking is poised to surpass all three lines in passenger capacity by early next year.

Speaking at a dinner Tuesday night following the river ship christening, Viking chairman Torstein Hagen once again said the company is aiming for at least 10 ocean ships in addition to 100 river ships — numbers he has thrown out at company events several times over the past two years. The company currently operates 56 river ships in Europe and markets several more river vessels in Asia.

Hagen said bookings for Viking’s new ocean cruises are strong. The company has made waves in the ocean cruise industry the past year with its emphasis on a “no nickel-and-diming” philosophy that is relatively rare even on upscale lines. It offers complimentary Internet access to all passengers and an included tour in every port. Both are hallmarks of river cruising that have never caught on with ocean lines. Beer and wine also is complimentary with lunch and dinner on Viking ships, and even little things like movies on the interactive televisions in rooms and the ship’s self-serve laundry machines are available at no extra charge.

For a peek inside the Viking Star, click through our ‘first look’ photo tour in the carousel at the top of this story. For a look inside the Viking Star’s cabins, click through the carousel below.

Interested? Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on line at www.vipleisuretravel.com

New Holland America ship takes to the sea.

Holland America's newest ship, the 2,650-passenger

What will Holland America’s next ship look like under way? Our new photo tour, in the carousel above, offers a sneak peek at the 2,650-passenger Koningsdam undergoing sea trials in recent days off the coast of Italy.

The tour also includes recent shots of the Koningsdam under construction and artist drawings of interior spaces planned for the vessel.

Scheduled to debut in April, the 99,500-ton Koningsdam is the first of a new class of vessel at Holland America that will be larger than previous ships and have a more contemporary design. The line tapped noted resort and restaurant designer Adam Tihany to create interior spaces in partnership with Bjørn Storbraaten, who worked on two earlier Holland America vessels. Tihany also has created spaces for Celebrity and Seabourn ships.

A major milestone in the construction of a cruise ship, sea trials involve days of maneuvers to test propulsion, steering and navigational equipment, and Holland America says the Koningsdam passed with flying colors. It’s now back at theFincantieri shipyard near Venice, Italy where it has been under construction for more than a year.

With sea trials completed, only final finishing work remains before the Koningsdam is delivered to Holland America by the shipyard. With its addition, the line will have 14 ships at sea.

Koningsdam will operate a diverse range of seven- to 26-day sailings around the Mediterranean and Baltic through the fall starting at $999 per person followed by Caribbean and Bahamas sailings.

Call us to book your next cruise at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

Norwegian Cruise Line to expand in Europe

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Make that five ships in Europe for Norwegian Cruise Line.

The Miami-based cruise operator on Tuesday announced it would send five vessels to Europe for the summer of 2017 — one more than this year and the most in its 50-year history.

Norwegian said one of its newest ships, the 3,969-passenger Norwegian Getaway, would reposition to the Baltic for the summer from its current home in Miami, operating eight- and nine-night voyages out of Copenhagen.

The Getaway’s new itineraries will feature calls in Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland;Stockholm, Sweden; and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Norwegian in 2017 also will offer its first complete season of cruises out of Hamburg, Germany as the Norwegian Jade moves to the city. The ship will operate seven- and nine-day Western Europe cruises; nine- and ten-day Norwegian Fjords cruises; 12-day Norway and North Cape sailings; as well as a 14-day Norway, Iceland and UK cruise.

In addition to Hamburg, passengers sailing the Norwegian Jade during the summer of 2017 also will be able to embark the vessel in the UK and Amsterdam.

Norwegian Jade sailings that include stops in the UK will mark the first time since 2010 that the line has operated from one of the country’s ports.

Other Norwegian ships operating in Europe for the summer of 2017 will include the Norwegian Epic, which once again will offer seven-night sailings out of Barcelona; Civitavecchia, Italy (near Rome); and Marseille, France.

Norwegian Spirit will sail alternating 10- and 11-night Grand Mediterranean cruises between Barcelona and Venice; and Norwegian Star will spend the summer cruising from Venice to the Greek Isles as well as the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey.

Ready to book you next cruise? Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

 

Reasons to book you next trip with a travel agent.

1. A Trip Tailored to YOU: Travel agents not only handle booking travel, but can help find the best cruise for every traveler. A travel agent can create a perfect travel experience based on preferences, tastes and travel hopes. A great agent can also help find unexpected activities and destinations that fit travel styles to create a once-in-a-lifetime cruise experience. For example, are you a Francophile with a penchant for finding the best local cuisines wherever you go? Your agent can help book a perfect Parisian cruise and maybe even provide tips for finding the best crepes and macaroons during shore excursions.

2. An Expert at the Ready: Travel agents are a wealth of travel information with plenty of real-world travel experience. Cruise-focused agents go through extensive training as well as visit ships regularly to provide incredible travel advice. Agents work with a variety a cruise lines so they make a great resource for any questions regarding differences in cruise ships or destinations. Agents can also provide counsel to travelers thinking about everything from travel insurance to dining times to cabin location.

3. Discounts & Deals: In most cases, travel agents have access to deals and discounts that aren’t available to consumers booking directly. Agents sometimes have the ability to book-in-bulk so clients are privy to lower pricing for booking through an agent. As a bonus, the majority of agents are paid through commission so there isn’t an out-of-pocket expense for their services.

4. Perks & Personalized Travel: Travel agents want travelers to be happy and what is one way to make that happen? Perks! Most agents can offer clients incredible perks, like complimentary bottles of wine, prepaid gratuities and onboard spending money. In addition to fun extras, agents can also arrange personalized travel details for your cruise like gluten-free dining or post-cruise transportation home.

5. A Stress-Free Travel Experience: For a stress-free travel experience, identify a credentialed cruise specialist. Many agents become accredited cruise counselors through CLIA’s Seascape Academy or take courses through the different cruise lines to elevate their expertise in cruise vacation experiences. These travel agents are committed to providing the best travel experience for every client every time. This leaves the logistics to a professional, giving travelers someone in their corner if things go wrong. If a flight is missed or excursion is cancelled, an agent can handle refunds and logistics to take the stress out of traveling.

Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008 to plan you next trip.

Follow us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

 

Five myths about Europe cruises

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

There are advantages to doing an ocean or river cruise in Europe this summer, particularly the strong US dollar – meaning more money in your pocket to buy European goods and to try local restaurants while in port.

Here we dispel five myths that shouldn’t be holding you back from cruising in Europe.

1. Europe cruises are all about the Mediterranean

First, the truth is that the Mediterranean is the most popular cruising region. Western Mediterranean cruises from places including Barcelona and Civitavecchia (the port city for Rome) take you to Italy, Spain and France with access to such must-see places as the Colosseum in Rome, Michelangelo’s David in Florence and the Leaning Tower of Pisa; eastern Mediterranean cruises get you to the Acropolis and other ancient historic sites and scenic islands of Greece and Turkey, and may include the wonders of Venice and Croatia. But these are hardly the only cruise itineraries in Europe. Baltic cruises, embarking from Copenhagen, Amsterdam and ports in the UK, get you to the Old World wonders and cutting edge design of Scandinavia and include St. Petersburg, Russia, where you can visit palaces of the Czars and see a Russian ballet performance. Costal Norway cruises bring you to fairytale landscapes and breathtaking fjords. Cruise the British Isles to explore Scottish history, visit pubs and kiss the Blarney Stone. Or explore high culture along the French Riviera. River cruises bring you to inland destinations including the world-class sights of Vienna or the Bordeaux wine region.

2. All Europe cruises are long

While you cover more ground on cruises of two weeks or more, there is a large variety of one-week itineraries. On Princess Cruises, you can explore in a week the western Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey or the Baltics – a sailing from Barcelona to Rome in June on Emerald Princess bargain-priced from $598 per person. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, among others, also have a variety of one-week itineraries this summer. Luxury line Seabourn’s seven-day sailings include the Baltics; sailing and motor yacht line Windstar has one-week cruises to the Greek Isles and Italian and French Riviera (including Monte Carlo). You can explore the Norwegian Fjords on a six-day cruise on Hurtigruten between Bergen and Kirkenes. River cruise lines such as Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways do weeklong cruises in France and on the Danube and Rhine.

3. All Europe cruises are for grownups

Depending on the cruise line, there are likely to be many families onboard. Your kids will find activities galore and have opportunity to meet youngsters from various countries in programs operated by lines including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises. Disney Cruise line, on its European cruises – in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean – gears much of the experience toward families. This year’s cruises on Disney Magic in Norway include appearances by Anna and Elsa and other characters from the movie “Frozen.” River cruises have mostly been the realm of adults, but lines inluding Tauck and Uniworld have specific kid-friendly sailings, and Adventures by Disney is doing family river cruises next year on a ship chartered by AmaWaterways.

A benefit of a cruise in Europe is that you visit several countries without having to hassle with going through several airports, taking trains or checking into a bunch of hotels – your floating hotel takes you comfortably on to the next destination, often several countries each week. Cruise lines have gotten more savvy of late in terms of understanding that some travelers want more time in port, so you may find an itinerary that spends 12 or more hours or even overnights in key ports, affording you more time to explore and experience the local nightlife. If you’re a DIY type it behooves you to check itineraries carefully in terms of time in port, especially if you plan to explore on your own any distance from the ship.

5. All you do is visit churches and museums

Shore excursions bring the benefit of targeting specific must-see attractions from ancient Pompeii to the Hermitage to the Vatican, getting you there with a guide in a hassle-free way, where you don’t have to exchange money or even speak the local language. But there are cultural tours and active tours and even, on some itineraries, beach excursions that have nothing to do with history or religious sites. Those who consider themselves “travelers” or who just don’t like organized tours are also free to take off on their own, mingling with locals at a market, discovering the perfect croissant at a bakery, visiting artist studios, dancing on tables at a taverna. The cruise is your transportation, but you can create your own exploration scenario. There is opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and rhythm of the places you’ll visit – albeit only for a day or two. Those who want to linger can also take advantage of pre- and post-cruise opportunities.

Now is the time to book your cruise. Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

Cruising in 2015? Trends We Love!

6 Trends We Love About Cruising in 2015

(Photo: PrincessCruises/Facebook)

Here at VIP Leisure Travel, cruise expert Lori has been sharing the inside track on trends and updates to help readers plan the perfect vacation at sea.  Here are six of her favorites:

1. More deals, better prices

We all love a good deal, and happily we’re seeing more chances to save money on a cruise. It used to be that the cruise lines waited until “wave season” — typically the first quarter of a new year — to roll out discounts and perks aimed at jumpstarting advance bookings. But now we’re seeing many more discounted cruises and lots of free amenities being offered throughout the year, especially on Caribbean and Europe voyages. For examples from the past year,Princess Cruises launched a suite and balcony cabin sale in July, while Royal Caribbean held two of its signature Wow sales in late summer and early fall. In October, MSC Cruisesoffered weeklong Caribbean voyages for an eye-popping $299 per person. One note: These deals always have a short booking window, so be ready to put down your deposit when a great discount, an onboard credit, or other valuable offer comes along.

2. Multi-generational cruising

(Photo: Thinkstock)

Big family groups are embracing vacations at sea like never before. Grandparents splashing in the pool with the grandkids and Baby Boomers on shore excursions with their parents are common sights on cruise vacations today. With meals and entertainment included in the cruise fare, family group cruising has already been seen as an affordable travel option with plenty of activities for all ages. But the trend is gaining even more steam as cruise lines go all out with special accommodations choices, free or reduced fares for children, and more supervised activities for tots and toddlers. And families can now stay close — but not too close — in multi-room staterooms and adjoining cabins that offer both privacy and proximity for multi-generational families. Some family suites, as on Royal Caribbean Internationalships, are configured with two bedrooms and two baths, plus larger balconies for outside enjoyment.

3. Catering to solos

There was a time when cruising solo was only for the well-to-do, because cruise lines charge a single supplement fee when just one person books a double cabin. The fee usually is at least 100 percent of the single fare, meaning you’ll pay the equivalent of two cruise fares. This policy is slowly but surely going the way of the dinosaur. Today, we’re seeing more cruise lines, of all sizes, waiving these single supplements at various times during the year as well as building ships that have specially designed solo cabins. Carnival Cruise Lines, for instance, waived all single supplements on upward of 60 cruises between April and June of 2014, and Norwegian Cruise Line was first out of the shipyard with single staterooms a few years back. We’re expecting more lines to join in kind — so if you’re a solo traveler, read this guide to solo cruising, then start packing.

Ready to book your next cruise vacation? Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

Cruise Deals for Less Than $75 a Night.

April and May could be the best months to cruise this year. Besides the usual seasonal bargains at both major and regional ports, there are some fantastic re-positioning cruises at lower-than-expected rates. Throughout most of the year, cruises under $100 a night are considered good deals, but Yahoo Travel found a number of spring cruises — for under $75 a night!

Keep in mind that the best rates are for inside cabins, but there are also bargains to be found among the outside and balcony class cabins, as well.

Here are some of the best bets for the season.

Houston and Galveston — Worth a Serious Look

Spring Cruise Deals for Less Than $75 a Night. Seriously!

Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas is headed for the Western Caribbean out of Galveston, Texas. (Photo: Carolyn Poirot/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), and Royal Caribbeansail seven-nighters from here — and the competition this spring is heating up. The ships travel to ports like Cozumel and Playa del Carmen in Mexico; Roatan; Belize; Grand Cayman; and Jamaica.

Carnival’s Freedom and Magic have seven-night trips from Galveston with spring rates starting at only $419 per person. That divides down to a mere $59.86 per night per person. On some dates, even the ocean-facing outside cabins fall below $75 per night.

NCL sails the Norwegian Jewel from the Port of Houston with April itineraries starting at $479 per person. That’s $68.43 per night.

Royal Caribbean sails the Navigator of the Seas with rates starting at $499 per person ($71.29 per night) on April 5 and 19, as well as on May 3.

Even Florida Ports are Playing the Spring Bargain Game

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Miami is a popular port for cruises with many springtime deals available. (Photo: Yanni Georgoulakis / Alamy)

Florida is where most of us start our Caribbean cruises. Abundant and affordable flights into and out of most Florida port cities make planning the entire trip easier. But note that prices begin to rise just before Memorial weekend and don’t return to the bargain basement again until Labor Day.

You can sail the Caribbean for 10 nights out of Miami on the Norwegian Pearl for only $649 per person. Think $64.90 per person per night.

Carnival’s Splendor, Glory, and Breeze are all bargains out of Miami with six- and seven-night sailings starting at $67.83 per person per night.

Holland America’s Noordam offers either a 10- or 11-night Caribbean itinerary for the rest of March with prices as low as $699 for an ocean-view cabin.

Short Cruises are Perfect for Last-Minute Escapes

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Take a long weekend and set sail for Cozumel! (Photo: Grand Tour/Corbis)

Look at short runs from the Bahamas, Miami, and Los Angeles on the West Coast.

Carnival’s Ecstasy makes four-night Caribbean runs out of Miami for as low as $219 this spring ($54.75 a night). The trip that really caught our eye was on April 20 with Smokey Robinson live in concert onboard. Tickets to the concert are an additional $35 per guest.

For a West Coast cruise, Carnival’s Inspiration and Imagination make three- and four-night trips to Catalina and Ensenada, with even the ocean-view cabins charging below $75 per night.

This spring the Norwegian Pearl re-positions itself from the Caribbean to Alaska, and the last leg is a five-night West Coast journey (Los Angeles to Vancouver via San Francisco and Victoria), with prices starting at $59.80 per person per night.

Don’t Rule Out Alaska

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Alaska can be a beautiful cruise destination any time of year. (Photo: Norwegian Cruises)

Your friends may be telling you that May is too early to enjoy an Alaskan cruise. Just wave bon voyage to the naysayers while you save big bucks.

The best Alaskan bargain of the year may be on NCL’s Norwegian Pearl, where a 10-night cruise starting on May 7 is as low as $59.90 per person per night.

Princess offers what it calls an Alaska Sampler: four nights on the Ruby Princess starting at $74.75 per night. The catch? The only Alaskan port is Ketchikan.

Aloha, Hawaii!

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Royal Caribbean stops at five Hawaiian ports, including Kauai. (Photo: Thinkstock)

If a cruise to Hawaii is something you have always dreamed of but thought you could never afford, you may be wrong. Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas sails on May 14, with inside cabins on this 10-night sailing for only $64.90 per person per night. Ocean view cabins start at $77.90 per person. You can’t spend a week at a LaQuinta hotel for that!

Re-position Your Attitude by Sailing These Ships on the Cheap

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The Serenade of the Seas allows plenty of aquatic adventures — like snorkeling with the friendly stingrays of Grand Cayman. (Photo: Getty Images)

As long as you are good with lots of days at sea, a re-positioning cruise can be a fun way to get some serious downtime — and some great deals.

On April 11, Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas moves from New Orleans to Boston to prepare for a summer in northern Europe. Hitch a 13-night ride from NOLA to Beantown for a mere $929 per person ($71.46 a night) for an outside cabin. Ports of call include Grand Cayman, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Talk about taking the long way around!

On April 19, NCL’s Norwegian Epic moves from Miami to Barcelona. Jump on board and enjoy a balcony cabin on an 11-night voyage for the ridiculously low price of $54.45 per person per night.

Also on April 19, the Emerald Princess moves from Houston to the Mediterranean on an epic 20-night trip that will only set you back $1,199 per person for an outside cabin ($59.95 a night). Stops include Rome and Monte Carlo. Think about this: in the summer, it can be hard to find a 10-night cruise for that price.

Call us today to book your next cruise at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

The best secret beaches in the Caribbean.

Drive along Roxborough-Parlatuvier Road, turn onto

If you thought all beaches were created equal, think again. Sure, some travelers prefer the party scene but for the bonafide beach aficionado, it’s that quieter nook that is worth seeking out. What the smaller out-of-the way beaches lack in amenities, they more than make up with countless miles of buttery sand, seclusion and serenity. Plant your sun lounger by the water’s edge and check out our list of the Top Ten Secret Beaches in the Caribbean and try not to let the cat out of the bag.

Little Cayman:

On the southeast coast, the water is ankle-deep for the first fifteen feet and gradually drops off making the beach prime for snorkeling and swimming. (Photo: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism)

It’s no surprise that the best-kept beach secret is on the smallest of the three Cayman isles. Where the maximum speed limit is 25 mph and iguanas have the right of way, Little Cayman is where you’ll find Point Of Sand; the prettiest sandy perch this side of a postcard. On the southeast coast, the water is ankle-deep for the first fifteen feet and gradually drops off making the beach primo for snorkeling and swimming. Accessible by car or scooter, the water is home to the Queen Conch and at least a dozen varieties of reef fish.

Tobago:

Drive along Roxborough-Parlatuvier Road, turn onto one of several paved roads and you’ll spot the entrance to the sweetest little beach on the island. On the northwest coast seven miles from the capital city of Scarborough, crescent-shaped Castara Bay Beach, in the charming fishing village with the same name ,is full of beachy perks like talc soft sand and awesome underwater meet and greets with sting rays, puffers, grunt fish and photogenic white-spotted moray eels. Keeping company with beach-goers, small hawksbill turtles sit on the reef munching sponges and Yellowhead Jawfish with their distinctive light blue body and yes, a yellow head flit about in the watery caves.

Antigua:

One of 365 beaches on the island, the peaceful sliver located within the National Park is framed by green hills and tucked away in an out-of-the-way cove on the south coast. (Photo: The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

If you have a hankering for a tight-lipped beach rendezvous, give the aptly named Rendezvous Bay Beach a try. One of 365 beaches on the island, the peaceful sliver located within the National Park is framed by green hills and tucked away in an out-of-the-way cove on the south coast. It may be tricky to find but with your eye on the prize, the trek from Fig Tree Hill, English Harbour or Carlisle Bay or a ride on a small boat from English Harbour is well worth the effort for the relaxation and cinematic sunsets.

Aruba:

Less than an hour from beaches that front the hi-res hotels on Aruba’s sunny coast, Baby Beach is a delightful half-moon in an unruffled lagoon. (Photo: Melanie Reffes)

Less than an hour from beaches that front the hi-res hotels, Baby Beach is a delightful half-moon in an unruffled lagoon. In Seroe Colorado on southeast side, the water is so shallow that kids (or big babies) can wade out quite a distance and still touch the bottom with their feet and grownups can put their feet up on one of the comfy beach beds. Uncrowded above the waves, down under is busy with a kaleidoscope of barracuda, parrot fish and squid doing their thing towards the inlet. Cheap and cheerful, the Big Mama Grill serves up the best sticky ribs and chicken on the sand.

British Virgin Islands:

A bonanza for bone fishermen and nirvana for scuba divers, the east end is also home to gigantic piles of conch shells that were once pirates’ treasures. (Photo: Paul Hubbard, British Virgin Islands Tourism Board)

On the north side of Anegada or the “Drowned Land “as the Spanish named it, Lo’Blolly Bay is a blinding white beach protected by Horseshoe Reef; the Eastern Caribbean’s third largest continuous coral reef. Twenty miles from Tortola, the nearly-deserted strand is one of several along the eleven mile coastline and with only two hundred lucky people who call the island home, it never gets crowded. A bonanza for bone fishermen and nirvana for scuba divers, the east end is also home to gigantic piles of conch shells that were once pirates’ treasures. For foodies; a surplus of lobsters inspires the annual Lobster Festival held every November.

Curacao:

Amateur photographers will like the daredevils who jump off the peaks of Playa Knip. (Photo: Curacao Tourism Board)

Sitting pretty on the west side, Playa Knip is the Bentley of Beaches with limestone cliffs that shade the cove and cerulean waves that keep a beat with the coconut palms. Unflustered and child-friendly, the beach is a world away from the crowded slivers on the more touristy side of the island. Amateur photographers like the daredevils who jump off the peaks and for those with an international palate; there are plenty of vendors dishing up plates of yummy island food.

Barbados:

On the warm Caribbean side, the sand is also a favourite nesting spot of sea turtles gracefully making their way back down to the sea. (Photo: Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc)

Named for the nearby military buildings where drills were once held, Drill Hall Beach is a south coast secret in the Parish of St. Michael. At the eastern end of the sandy strip, the calm water is perfect for kids who like to wade knee-deep and for the surfer wannabees in the family; the gentle waves welcome those testing their skills on a board. On the warm Caribbean side, the sand is also a favorite nesting spot of sea turtles gracefully making their way back down to the sea.

Anguilla:

It may be hard to find but Little Bay Beach on Anguilla is a sandy secret worth discovering. Tucked away with ridiculous views of just about everything, this unspoiled spit that is bookended by cliffs is one of those coveted unsullied spots on the sand. (Photo: Anguilla Tourism Board)

You have two choices; either you climb down the cliff clutching a rope or hop a boat from Crocus Bay. Yes, it may be hard to find but Little Bay Beach is a sandy secret worth discovering. Tucked away with ridiculous views of just about everything, this unspoiled spit that is bookended by cliffs is one of those coveted unsullied spots on the sand.

Jamaica:

Away from the jam-packed beaches on the northwest coast, Doctor’s Cove Beach on the Hip Strip or Gloucester Avenue in the heart of Montego Bay dates back to 1906 when Dr. Alexander James McCatty opened one of Jamaica’s first bathing clubs. (Photo: JIm Smith)

Away from the jam-packed beaches on the northwest coast, Doctor’s Cove Beach on the Hip Strip or Gloucester Avenue in the heart of Montego Bay dates back to 1906 when Dr. Alexander James McCatty opened one of Jamaica’s first bathing clubs. Today, the aquamarine water with a year round temperature between 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and curative powers that ease ailments like arthritis is still the beach of choice on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The cyber-café is a big hit with kids who like to send their beach Selfies to their pals at home.

St. Lucia:

A placid alternative to Reduit Beach across the Bay (you can catch a water taxi to Pigeon Island from Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay Village), the beach is inside the National Park on the northwest coast. (Photo: St. Lucia Tourist Board)

Despite its name, Pigeon Island is connected to the mainland and there’s nary a pigeon in sight although a variety called the common wood pigeon once lived there, hence the islands name A placid alternative to Reduit Beach across the Bay (you can catch a water taxi to Pigeon Island from Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay Village), the beach is inside the National Park on the northwest coast. On the southern side of the park, just inside the entrance, two petite strips of golden sand are standouts for swimmers and sunbathers who also rave about the bites and beverages at Jambe de Bois, a rustic waterfront café. From April 30 to May 10, Pigeon Island hosts the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival with an impressive lineup this year that includes reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff, American rapper Flo Rida and R&B crooner Robin Thicke.

Ready to book your next vacation? Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

Our Quarterly Travel Tips

Being your travel adviser is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

Quarterly Travel Tips

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.

Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

Healthy Reasons To Take A Cruise Vacation

CLIA’s 12 Healthy Reasons To Take A Cruise Vacation

According to a recent study, cruise travelers rank an ocean cruise as the best overall vacation experience. In addition to being fun, a cruise vacation provides a number of health benefits which are supported by third party research.  This week, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) revealed 12 reasons why taking a cruise is a great choice for vacationing and the overall health of the cruise traveler.

“People today are more stressed and overbooked than ever before. Vacations are important to allow the mind and body to re-energize and relax,” said Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “A cruise vacation in particular provides a variety of places to see as well as the chance to take part in on-board activities in a safe and healthy environment.”

“The great thing about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you want, and you’ll still have a nice break from your daily routines at home,” Whitbourne continued. “If you do decide to explore the sights and many opportunities a cruise can provide, you’ll come back from your trip with a set of new memories, experiences and even friends.”

1. Sunshine: There’s no better place to enjoy the morning sunshine than a cruise ship deck. Studies have found that getting an hour of natural sunlight in the morning can help fine-tune your internal clock, allowing you to get more (and better!) sleep. Sunshine also has long-term benefits since it helps the body produce the important Vitamin D which has been found to help fight off heart disease and cancer. Moderate amounts of sunshine will also boost serotoninlevels that fight off depression. So apply sunscreen and enjoy the rays!

2. Relaxation: Finding time to relax plays a vital role in overall health. Chronic stress can lead to a myriad of problems, including impaired memory, inflammation, high blood pressure and heart disease. Skip the stress by lounging at the pool, enjoying spa treatments and relaxing in comfortable accommodations. Best of all, cruising allows for a stress-free vacation experience where vacationers can just “go with the flow” of the itinerary.

3. Cleanliness: Cruise line cleanliness is highly regulated. Each room and common area is kept clean, presentable and disinfected. From door handles to poker chips, cruise ships are regularly sanitized for the well-being of everyone on board. Clean hands also guide a steady ship, as those on-board are urged to wash hands frequently.

4. Ocean Air: The benefits of fresh, ocean air are seemingly limitless and cruisers can take full advantage day and night.  Between daytime excursions and nights spent relaxing on the ship deck, there is plenty of time to breathe deeply! Fresh air is known to help keep lungs clean; aid in digestion; improve heart rate; strengthen the immune system; and provide an energy boost.

5. Salt Water: Isak Dinesen knew what she was talking about when she said, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” Cruisers can take full advantage of the amazing benefits of the ocean. Aside from the stress relief a day at the beach provides, swimming in salt water can also help improve circulation by restoring vital minerals to your body. Ocean water and on-ship salt water swimming pools are also a natural beauty treatment, as the magnesium has been found to help hydrate skin and improve inflamed or red complexions.

6. Camaraderie: Humans are wired to connect with one another and in our hyper-digital age, this isn’t always a daily reality. Cruising allows for high amounts of quality bonding time with your vacation partners while also allowing you to socialize with new people. Whether over a gourmet dinner in the dining room or during a comedy routine in the ship theater, cruise ships offer time to connect with others free of work emails, smart phones and hand-held gaming systems.

7. Exploration: There’s something to be said about the benefits of exploration and having an adventure (not to mention the stories to tell!). Pre-planned cruise shore excursions allow cruisers to scuba dive, parasail, check out local sites in exotic locations and more, without the stress of making planning every detail or reading millions of reviews to find the right activities. Cruisers can see the world without spending months planning.

8. Healthy Dining Options: Though many people think it is impossible to eat well while on vacation, cruise ships around the world offer healthy dining fare and lighter meal options to accommodate every diet. Gluten-free? Vegan? Low-carb diet? Cruise ship chefs are happy to accommodate. Additionally, cruise ships offer buffets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to help you build a better plate.

9. Staying Active: Cruise vacations offer vacationers a chance to stay active. There are plenty of onboard activities, like rock climbing, basketball or table tennis. In addition, many cruise ships offer full-service gyms and fun fitness classes like yoga in the morning or nighttime tai chi. It’s easy to stay active with options abound on each ship.

10. Meditation: Whether packing a dance card with endless excursions or taking a leisurely stroll around the port, “think time” on a cruise can help clear the mind. Meditation has been found to help reduce stress, negative emotions, recharge the mind and increase self-awareness. Nothing takes the mind to a peaceful place like gazing into open waters or meditating in a beach chair.

11. Stress-Free Vacation Planning: Vacations are important in terms of “getting away” and bonding with loved ones but the stress of planning every detail can be daunting. Cruising allows for stress-free vacation planning with pre-planned excursions, inclusive meals and endless on-ship entertainment. More importantly, a cruise vacation allows you to unpack and get settled in your cabin without the hassle of having to move your belongings, while you visit multiple destinations.

12. Better Budget Value: Nothing can bring down a vacation high quite like returning to a pile of credit card bills. Cruise vacations are a great all-inclusive way to enjoy a variety of vacation experiences without a variety of hidden costs. Cruise travel agents are also available to help budget and pre-plan trips for the most budget-friendly experiences.

Now you know. Call us today to book your cruise vacation at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008. Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com

Vacation & Cruise Insights