Monday, March 29, 2010

Top 10 family vacations spots in the USA!

Where will US travel consumers spend their vacations this yearASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, recently released results of its annual survey of hot travel destinations. The best part about this top destination survey is the information is based on actual vacations booked by consumers, not a list made up by so-called experts.
Here are the top ten summer destinations for 2010:
Orlando – It’s not hard to imagine that the highest percentage of domestic travel bookings are for this popular family destination. Orlando isn’t just about theme parks, although that’s the main draw. Many conferences are held in this Florida city and other attractions are becoming wildly popular. Planning a visit to Orlando? 
Las Vegas – Vegas weddings and mancations are popular in Sin City, but many trade shows are held here each year, including CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and BWE (BlogWorldExpo). 
San Francisco – This city embraces travelers from all backgrounds. Each Sunday from April 25-October 10 the Golden Gate Band performs an outdoor concert. Pack a picnic and enjoy the climate of this top ten destination. 
Miami – Saints. and the SuperBowl,  Need I say more? Plus, who doesn't like the rich and famous?
Los Angeles – The city of Los Angeles is a popular destination, but it also is a great place for drive. There is so much to do.
New York City – The first time I visited NYC I stood in Times Square with my head back and mouth wide open gawking at the massive hi-rise buildings. It was so hard to get a glimpse of the sky and people were walking past me in a rush to get to their destination. 
San Diego – This outdoor summer fun destination is home to the San Diego Air & Space Museum, which offers a new exhibit to satisfy science and sci-fi buffs alike. The Science of Aliens exhibit offers technology to map out what life on another planet might look like. It also chronicles Pop Culture artifacts documenting our fascination with aliens throughout history. 
Honolulu - The Islands of Aloha all are fabulous destinations, but the most popular place to fly into is Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. One of my favorite free things to do near Honolulu is to watch the Friday night fireworks show atHilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach.
Seattle – Somewhere I have always wanted to visit. Heck, Gray's Anatomy is supposedly happening there, well worth the look.
Washington, DC – Every time I visit Washington, DC I leave feeling patriotic and uber-American. This final top ten destination may be where our laws are passed, but the history and architecture keep bringing me back. I love walking The Mall and visiting the Smithsonian Museums. 
“Although the top destinations have remained relatively unchanged for many years, it’s interesting to see some fresh destinations, both domestic and international, appear on the scene,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “Regardless of whether a destination is a perennial favorite or a soon-to-be favorite, working with a professional travel consultant to plan your next vacation ensures you will get a great value and an unforgettable experience.”
We will get back to our trip report in the next post very soon!!! Thanks for reading!
Have you visited any of these travel hotspots or plan on visiting for a family vacation ? If not, where do you like to go? 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is that big yellow thing in the sky??? (Trip report)

We woke up this morning and we were ecstatic to see the sun shining through the drapes. We opened the drapes and low and behold we had bright sun. We were pulling into Ochos Rios, Jamaica and it was a beautiful site. After 4 days of rain so far we were extremely grateful to have sunlight. So, as quick as we could we threw on our bathing suits, lotioned up and off we went for our excursion.

Now we have been to Jamaica before and had done the Dunn's River Falls and tubing before. The falls were a lot of fun, and so was the tubing but once was enough for us. So we tried the Jamaican bobsleds tour. It was not more than 10 minutes from the ship by tour bus. We got out and we were escorted to a ski lift that brought us up the mountain. Below us as we went up was the rainforest. We did not see and animals, but there were many sounds from the forest. The flowers and trees were beautiful. We were at the top in about 15 minutes. They have lockers at the top of the mountain. They take a deposit which all but $1 is returned when you return the key.

At the top there was a beautiful garden you could walk around in. A few artists selling things, a small store and then the entrance to the bobsleds, and the pool. Now we had paid for each of us to ride the sleds once on the cruise ship tour. we each got our own sleds. Now if you have a child or anyone who feels uncomfortable driving the sled themselves two sleds can be connected with the first sled doing the driving. The sleds are on a track, so the only thing you control is the speed and the breaks. There are cameras on the tracks so they do not let people go until they get past certain points so no one can crash into each other. When you get to the bottom, you go back up the mountain on your sled. We immediately purchased 5 more rides for $50 when we got to the top. On the lat ride we did not have enough ticket for me to go, and the attendant was kind enough to let me go on the last ride with my kids. I tried to get video, and will try to upload it from my phone, but it may not happen. There are lots of pictures though, which I will upload and add later to this post. After riding 4 times each, we took a dip in their endless pool. They had a nice size water slide and whirlpool there too. From the pool you had great views of the Navigator and Ocho Rios. We spent about 5 hours there. We could take as long as we wanted as busses came and picked up every 20 minutes. As we rode the ski lift (that holds 4 people comfortably) down it started to sprinkle. In all our excitement we had not noticed that it had become overcast and now the rain was coming in.

We got on our bus and met Phil (the DH) on the road that leads to the ship. We did some shopping (Pandora bracelets) at the ship approved stores and went back to the ship as it started to rain. We showered and went down to dinner.

Our table mates had enjoyed their limited sun as much as we had. The ladies had gotten their hair braided (ok, I was a little jealous I didn't) and had gotten a good amount of color. The men had been offered to have their hair braided too by people. They really were a great group of people to eat with. They had been on a carnival cruise the week before coming on this one and it had rained and been cloudy on that cruise, so they deserved this warm sunny 1/2 day!

Bye Jamaica!

We were so tired we zonked out early....tomorrow our last day at sea!

If you want to have all this us at Second Star Travel 1-508-808-5995

because today's vacations are tomorrow's memories!

Monday, March 15, 2010

My new must have Disney World toy!

Before leaving for Disney World I discovered the Wait Time App on Once I heard about it, I told my DH to create an account at, he bookmarked their page, then downloaded the APP on his Blackberry. The download was extremely simple to do and it was installed in a couple of minutes. We checked the wait times, and played around with their program before going on our vacation. Talk about building excitement, we looked at wait times on and off for about 5 days before we left. Yes, we are now officially Disney computer geeks.

Once we arrived at Disney World the first thing we did after checking in was bring up the web page and check to see what park would be the busiest, and off we went. It was not the best weather, but that did not keep anyone away from the parks, rain rarely does. February 16-19 was part of the Northeast winter school break and it was very crowded. Popular rides had over an hour wait to 1.5 hour wait, even It's a Small World had a 30-45 minute wait at times.

So having checked the Line wait we determined what park to attended that day (EPCOT). With out Blackberry in hand off we went. My family and I are big park hoppers, we take advantage of the Disney transportation and usually visit at least 2 parks a day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Sometimes we even throw in some pool time in between or some Disney off site outlet shopping. Another great feature was being able to see the current FASTPASS return time and their forecast of when FASTPASSes will be gone for the day. Single rider lines and their current wait times was also very helpful.

While all the parks were very busy, the App was correct in determining which park was the busiest. Their line estimations were pretty accurate, as people were updating them often. Let me tell you my DH entered line updates on rides we weren't even riding. We found ourselves submitting wait times while hanging in line, while eating a snack etc.... Their submission page was simple to use and took only a few seconds to enter.

We didn’t start a day without visiting Touringplan's web page, and while in the park using the wait times to guide us through our day. I know other services exists, that basically do the same thing but we chose because we have always gotten so much out of their site. At $8.95 for 365 days of their site and the App it is a bargain! It is free if you already belong!

In conclusion their program & touring plans made our vacation much more enjoyable and I recommend the Wait Time App for anyone interested in saving time and maximizing their enjoyment while on their trip.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

As if any of us need another reason to go to Disney World. This is so exciting. I for one can not wait and I do not have small children anymore. Please enjoy this the announcement and video. I will get back to our trip report soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

And the rain came down........(trip report)

and it wasn't just any rain. It was a delude...cats and dogs...buckets....There isn't much to say. We attempted to get off at Labadee, Haiti. Ten seconds later we were soaked. If it had been warm, it would have been fine but within 15 minutes we were shivering. We went to the straw market it is so different than it used to be. Much more organized and lots of vendors. Wish we could have enjoyed it more. We went back to the ship and did bingo, trivia, watched a movie. Katerna and I saw the Battle of the Sexes game that evening...Of course the women won!!! So, here is a better idea of what our day was like....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Someone have a gas mask? And where is the dang sun???? (trip report)

Oh yes, my awesome corner balcony room smells bad still. I am talking baby eating broccoli and spinach for dinner, sitting in a diaper for a while smell here! We had to leave the balcony door open most of the night to take care of the smell. I have got to hand it to the desk staff on the Navigator, they were trying. We had three crew members that could not have been more understanding. We had one who did not seem to understand that just cuz I was on a cruise did not mean I was filthy rich and did not scrimp and save for this trip, and practically said so. The more I talked to her the more she reminded me of the wicked witch in the Wizard of OZ.

My family did not want to leave our awesome room (yes, we are difficult). This room is bigger than a normal balcony room, and the balcony is bigger than most suite balconies! At first there was only one other room to go to. It was a normal balcony room which would have been tight for us. No one wanted to go there and it was on the 6th floor, and even when we went to see it it was noisy above us. We chose to live with the smell than be up all night. Then late into the day we got another call and there was a JR Suite we could move to. I was good with moving but everyone loved the location and the size of our balcony and room. The balcony in the aft room was twice the size as the normal Jr. Suite balcony. Again we said no, they over ruled! They came numerous times and pumped the shower and the toilet. By evening it was smelling better. Not gone but better. We lived with it! Our choice..they tried everything. There were three rooms available for us and they offered us the two that were as good or better than our room...can't say they didn't try.

Ok, the Bingo seal deal( a blue stuffed seal) is back. You buy him for $10 or $15 and you get free bingo cards when you bring him with you. Oh and he is good every time you cruise! Mine lies sexily across blocks that spell Bingo, so he is a sexy seal. No, we didn't win but it was fun, and I love the new BINGO machines where all you do is watch for the lazy people like me! We were so close only needed one number! Yes, Judy still costs a fortune. each time we played and we played twice this trip was $67 and we used all our Crown and Anchor coupons and Bingo the seal :)

We did trivia and lo and behold ran into a family from Franklin, MA. No we didn't win trivia either but we came damn close, 2nd place!!!! What nothing for second place?

Then visited the casino...can you guess if we won? Of course not, but it is sure fun trying. Casinos are entertainment. You go in not expecting to win. I have a budget for the casino each trip. If I win great if not I had a blast!

The pool was to cold to go in, and to windy and cold to stay in the area very long. I tried reading my book, and it almost went overboard. I thought the Caribbean was always sunny. Who turned off the sun? I want it back!! This was what we saw all day. Cuba is there in the clouds.

We had a good time today just looking for thing to do. Today was formal night, and though it wasn't as formal is a 7 night cruise we did wear appropriate clothing. We were shocked to see Bermuda length shorts, polos and even a couple of sneakers in the dining room tonight.  Food was yummy and we had escago which is one of my favorites, but it was Italian night. Lobster night is another night.

Hoping tomorrow is sunny enough to do the Zipline in Labadee Haiti!!!

We have enjoyed the towel animals so far!

If you want to have all this us at Second Star Travel 1-508-808-5995

because today's vacations are tomorrow's memories!