I fell in love with river cruising almost 2 years ago. At first, I thought I was too young for this, I mean only older people sailed on River Cruises. Boy, was I wrong!
What people don’t tell you is river cruising is unlike anything else. It allows you to get deeper into a country, and visit small towns and cities often based on the river without having to pack/unpack your suitcase more than once. It’s also a very intimate and luxurious experience. That’s the part I like. On most river cruise boats you will have no more than 190 guests. Some, like AmaWaterways and Uniworld have 78 staterooms or less with impeccable decor, attention to detail, and excellent service. You really get to know each other, the staff, and even the captain.
It’s so much easier to get on and off the ship. You basically walk right on and walk right off. It literally takes less than a minute. If that isn’t a plus, how about the fact that there are many inclusions like all restaurants, tours, drinks both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, and Wi-Fi. Plus different boats have different options, such as 2 to 5 dining options, heated pools, Jacuzzis, spa, gym, running track, and even a theater. Between all of the above and the daily activities when not on shore you really don’t run out of anything to do. The best part of a river cruise is sailing along riverbanks filled with quaint towns and bustling cities.
This past December, I hosted a small group of friends on the new Amalea for a Danube Christmas markets sailing. We had an amazing time! We toured together and many times did our own thing. All of us are in our late 30s to 40s and no one felt out of place. In fact, there were several families with children on board. It was a great mix of ages and made for very interesting conversations. We drank way too much fabulous regional wine and ate way too many wonderful multi-course meals while dancing the night away. Of course, until the late night snack was put out at 10, lol. Almost every night we didn’t head in until midnight. I don’t know about you but for me, nowadays midnight is late. We didn’t have a bunch of early mornings and if you’ve been on ocean cruises then you know what I’m talking about. Typically most tours started sometime between 9 and 9:30, and that’s if you were even taking a tour. Then there are tours which start in the afternoon so you can really sleep in.
We all love that they celebrated Christmas with different things to do onboard. Each night was something different. We decorated Christmas trees, Christmas cookies, Santa came and gave us gifts, we sang Christmas carols, and put our shoes outside the stateroom to see if we’ve been naughty or nice. Between this and the Christmas markets in the cities we visited I can truly say this is been my most magical Christmas ever. Without fail, we’d all definitely recommend river cruising at Christmas time and are returning on AmaWaterways for different sailings next year.
Bottom line is river cruising is intimate, entertaining, out of the ordinary, cultural, comforting, inviting, and one of the best ways to travel. Have you been on a river cruise? If not, what’s stopping you?
Grace Bay on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos has been named the best beach in the world for 2018. Luckily, I had a chance to return in October to confirm this high honor. Now there are many things that make up the best beach, the type of sand, the color and clearness of the water, and maybe even how wide and long the beach is. Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What makes this beach so much more special than any other beach in the world?
First I’d like to say that I visited many properties while there, which include Club Med Turkuoise, Beaches Turks and Caicos, Grace Bay Club, West Bay Club, Point Grace, and The Villas of Grace Bay collection. All properties are located on Grace Bay, and essentially all very different. The one thing that stays consistent is the beach! You will find no other variation of the color blue anywhere else in the world than what Grace Bay has to offer. This also sets the scene for the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. Typically, you don’t even have to go that far out to see some of the most amazing species of fish. You might even get a chance to spot JoJo the dolphin. If you don’t know Jojo, he is the local mascot and greets many of those who are sailing or swimming in the ocean. I would say the second best thing is the sand. I don’t know about you but me, I love nice, soft, white, baby powdery sand. Here Grace Bay packs its punch!
Club Med is on the best stretch of the beach and has the longest and widest section of Grace Bay Beach. But, if it’s luxury you’re searching for you won’t find it at Club Med. Those who are into all things sports would love it here though. Situated next door is Grace Bay Club. They have the second best part of the beach, just as wide as Club Med’s but not as long and you have three different options of luxurious accommodations. Point Grace and West Bay Club also share a piece of this beach and offer delightful accommodations for those seeking smaller properties and seclusion. The ultimate, in my opinion, is definitely the Private Villas of Grace Bay Resorts. The Villa I toured had a carriage house with one bedroom, and the main house encompassed four bedrooms including two masters, a stunning kitchen open to the living room, dining room, and the outdoors. There you will find a huge infinity pool overlooking the phenomenal turquoise sea and your own stretch of beach. This, by far, is my favorite. It’s perfect for a girls getaway, guys hang out weekend, or a bunch of family getting together to create priceless memories. The Villas include breakfast daily and can include a chef to prepare all your meals. You really don’t have to leave the property during your entire vacation.
So if you’ve been to Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos, do you agree that it is the best beach in the world?
5 Essentials Experienced Travelers Carry On
One of the most nerve racking things for many of us before traveling is packing. Do we need ten outfits for a 4-day weekend? How about six pairs of shoes? More important than that is what to pack in the carryon when you are bringing a checked bag. Here are the 5 most important items to bring with you on the plane.
2 Days of Clothing - Just in case that checked bag of yours doesn’t show up at the carousel. Not such a great way to start vacation but the good news is you have something to wear for the next couple of days while the airline finds your luggage. Remember to pack your swim suit if traveling to a warmer climate so you may enjoy the pool or beach whether you have your suitcase or not.
Sweater, Sweatshirt, Or Large Scarf – Will provide you with warmth on a chilly flight or a make shift pillow. Even better it can always be used in case your clothing gets stained, something soft and clean to sit on, and to keep you dry if you get caught in the rain.
Medicine and Toiletries – Help when that headache appears out of nowhere or you want to feel refreshed by brushing your teeth before or after you land. I always carry a pain reliever, nausea medicine, oral pain reliever, nasal saline, moisturizer, deodorant, tooth paste, and a toothbrush. You don’t want to start off or end your vacation on a bad note.
Snacks (in a ziplock bag) – Keep hunger at bay and help maintain your body’s regulation. The right snacks help ward off jetlag and keep you well nourished. Avoid anything with caffeine, lots of sugar or carbs. TSA now requires you to remove any food items from your personal or carry on luggage. Placing these items in a clear zip bag makes it easy to remove and replace in your luggage while going through security. It also is a quick way to find your snacks midflight.
Copy of ID, Passport, and Credit/Debit Cards – Will be your best friend if you happen to lose or misplace the originals or worse case scenario you have been pickpocketed. This allows a smoother process of replacing your passport in a foreign country. It also provides the phone numbers and information of all cards at your fingertips so you can call to cancel them once you realize they are gone.
These tips are in addition to the normal items you would pack in a carry on such as jewelry, cameras, and other valuables. What other items do you pack to take on the plane?