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Tuesday, 06 February 2018 08:55

World Cruise Tips: Planning for Months at Sea

02 2018 world cruise mainWhat is a World Cruise? These are massive journeys that typically span between 110 and 160 days in length and can have the same per-person cost as a midsized car. On the other hand, World Cruises offer the chance to see the world (or at least a decent part of it) with the luxury of unpacking just once. Our cruise experts here at Accent on Travel share the ins and outs of World Cruises.

But what do you need to know before you actually book a World Cruise? We've rounded up some of the most important world cruise tips to consider before you take the plunge and set sail for months on end.

Get More Value: Full World Cruises Come with Perks

02 2018 world cruise casual dinningFull World Cruise journeys can include perks like complimentary shore excursions, exclusive cocktail parties, and more.

If you book a full World Cruise – meaning the actual full-length voyage and not a shorter segment – you're in for some real, once-in-a-lifetime treats that go beyond the voyage itself. Many cruise lines arrange for special shore excursions, overland adventures, pre-cruise hotel stays, cocktail parties with VIP's from the line's corporate headquarters, and more. Luxury lines will typically take things one step further, throwing in perks like business class airfare and limousine transfer services between the ship and the airport.

Full World Cruise guests are also often treated to some very practical perks, like complimentary laundry and pressing services while onboard – and that can save you a bundle when it comes to packing for your journey.

Concerned about gratuities on mainstream or premium lines? Don't be – prepaid gratuities are typically included for Full World Cruise guests, along with a set amount of internet and / or satellite phone time. Perks vary from year to year and from line to line, so it's always a good idea to see what amenities your favorite cruise line is planning to throw in if you take the plunge on a full round-the-world journey.

You Should Be at One with The Sea Day

02 2018 world cruise relaxOne thing that first-time World Cruise guests often forget – and which experienced, repeat World Cruisers readily point out – is that you should be comfortable with sea days. Although the list of ports on the published itinerary reads like an explorer's dream book, cruise lines often leave out days the ship spends at sea for practical reasons. But make no mistake about it – crossing an ocean can take between five and six days, and some World Cruises can feature numerous stretches at sea. This is particularly true of voyages that transit the Pacific Ocean. Sailing from California to Hawaii to the South Pacific to Australia sounds great, but you should know that there are between four and five days needed to cross to Hawaii; two or three to most ports in the South Pacific, and three to seven to Australia. Bring some good books and some anti-nausea medications, and you should do just fine.

Shorter Segments or ‘Grand Voyages’ Can Be a Good Deal

02 2018 world cruise hal prinsendamCan’t swing a World Cruise? Ships like Holland America Line’s Prinsendam regularly sail longer ‘Grand Voyages’ to different parts of the world.

If you don't have the time or the money to take a full World Cruise, it's worth knowing that many lines split these massive voyages into shorter "segments." Instead of taking, say, a 120-day from New York to Southampton, you might be able to hop on from New York to Los Angeles. Or San Francisco to Hong Kong. These voyages – sometimes called "Grand Voyages" – can still be quite lengthy, with most running between 20 and 80 days. From time to time, however, it's not uncommon to see the odd 14 or 17-day segment; the perfect way to get that World Cruise feeling without having to see your boss's eyes bug out when you submit your vacation request.

Choose Your Cabin Wisely

02 2018 world cruise roomLast but not least, choosing the right cabin is more critical on a full World Cruise than it is on a typical holiday. If you book a cabin you're not particularly fond of on a weeklong run to the Caribbean, it's an inconvenience but not the end of the world. If you booked an Inside Cabin on a World Cruise in the hopes it would save you some money and you discover you're claustrophobic ... well, that's an entirely different matter.

Bigger cabins obviously cost more money, and there are certainly pros and cons to them. On a World Cruise, however – a "once-in-a-lifetime" journey for most of us – it may make more sense to splurge. After all, if you're going to be away for six months, you may want to have a balcony to enjoy. Then again, perhaps not. Guests in the most economically-priced staterooms are still treated to the same voyage and the same ports of call. It's important to balance out personal wants and needs with the financial implications of that decision; simply moving up a single stateroom category can dramatically increase the overall cost of your voyage.

Ready to go? So are we! Let the team at Accent on Travel help you plan your world cruise and check off one of life’s greatest bucket list opportunities. Call or email your accent on travel advisor today!

Ski ItalyThis month we are featuring Club Med; an all-inclusive, family-oriented international resort company. The Club Med concept emerged in hopes of uniting people across social and cultural lines through diverse outdoor sports and group activities back in 1950. Today, Club Med welcomes roughly 1.4 million guests a year to more than 65 Club Med resorts on six continents. From the exotic, including the Indian Ocean, France, Morocco, Brazil, and Thailand, plus new resorts in China and Italy to locales closer to home including Florida, and Mexico. From the stunning beaches of the Caribbean to the majestic peaks of the Alps, their unparalleled all-inclusive resorts let guests follow happiness to the four corners of the world.

A Club Med all-inclusive vacation truly includes everything - which means great value and convenient, stress-free travel. As guests you will enjoy seemingly unlimited sports (with top-tier equipment and instruction), enriching children's clubs, attentive G.O. hospitality (Club Med's extroverted, energetic team that is 100% dedicated to the happiness of their guests, called Gracious Organizers), gourmet dining options (with culinary specialties by international chefs), an endless pour of premium liquors, spacious accommodations (including designer suites, chalets and private villas), live entertainment, parties and shows. At each of their unparalleled worldwide resorts, they take care of everything so families can relax and enjoy each other - which is what matters most.

Call or email your accent on travel advisor to set an appointment to learn more about Club Med for your upcoming family vacation.

Thursday, 21 December 2017 09:04

Amazing Hawaiian Resorts on the island of Kauai

Koloa Landing ResortKoloa Landing Resort - southern coast of Hawaii’s island of Kauai

This is the perfect “Hawaiian” resort for honeymooners or families!  Recently completed construction in March 2017, this property boasts gorgeous villa style property ranging from studios to four bedrooms. All accommodations include a kitchenette or full kitchen that will come stocked upon request, in-room washer and dryer, comfortable outdoor patio and a luxury bathroom. There are six pools on the property two are adults-only pools.  When I stayed, there was 95% guest capacity and everyone was able to spread themselves out poolside without feeling crowded. Amazing chef on site who prepared a delicious buffet for the Luau.   We enjoyed great neighboring restaurants and shopping.

Something to note: This is an ocean view property but not ocean front. You will have to walk about 10-15 minutes to get to the beach; luckily this hotel has a shuttle service to take you.

Grand Hyatt HawaiiGrand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa – Southern coast of Hawaii’s island of Kauai

Wake up every morning to their amazing Hawaiian breakfast buffet situated with an ocean view. The staff will spoil you with some creative pastries and desserts of the island while you indulge in a delicious meal.  This hotel has eight pools, a lagoon, beachfront property with several restaurants.  Accommodations ranging from studios up to two-bedroom suites.  Another Hawaiian resort great for families or couples with so much room to spread out & enjoy this resorts fun and relaxing atmosphere.

St Regis Princeville North Shore KauaiSt Regis Princeville – Northeast corner of Hawaii’s island of Kauai

Located in the northern part of the island of Kauai lies this very luxurious Hawaiian style country club feel oceanfront property.  Perfect for golfers, the renowned Makai Golf Club is a Robert Trent Jones Jr golf course is on the property.  The expansive resort includes a beautiful pool with a sports shack for various ocean activities including paddle boarding surfing, etc. Accommodations range from single rooms to three-bedroom suites ocean view or garden views available. Great restaurants for any palate.  Hotel is expecting a facelift which will be happening in late 2019.  

Something to note: Very expansive secluded property includes beachfront property on the end side of a mile long golf course. 

When my boss asked me if I could fly to Montevideo to take part in the unveiling of Silversea cruises remodeled ship, the Silver Cloud, I honestly did not know where it was. After some googling, I realized that it was the capital city of Uruguay, which sits right next to the more popular tourist destination of Argentina. As a child, I often heard about Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Chile, and even Ecuador, however Uruguay was never really on my radar. Here are five reasons why Uruguay should be on your travel list.

  1. IMG 3877Beaches- Upon first arriving and transferring to the hotel, you cannot avoid the beautiful beach that is to the left of you. The beach sits in the upscale neighborhood of Pocitos and has a long boulevard (la Rambla) on the side of it where people walk, exercise and gather. In November, when I visited, Spring had just sprung and locals gathered to the beaches for some watersports since the weather was close to 80 degrees.

  2. Culture- I was lucky enough to get an insight into aspects of their culture such as their carnival season. We had a special performance with dancers in their traditional garb and it was truly fantastic. We also stopped by the Solis Theatre on our city tour. It’s Uruguay’s most famous theater, where locals often attend performances. Back before internet existed, the light on top of the theater would shine red on nights that performances were being offered. I could tell that Uruguayans valued music, theater, and dance as a form of expression during my short stay there.

  3. Architecture- The city was beautifully built. The architecture was incredible, and the city was very different looking than I had expected. My favorite building was Palacio Salvo, it houses apartments and offices, and was built by an Argentinian builder modeling it after some popular architecture in Buenos Aires. This building sits on the edge of one of the city’s squares. There were many squares, and parks which really gave Montevideo a nice, clean, and safe feeling.

  4. Wine- Believe it or not, Uruguay has fantastic wine! We visited a local winery called Juanico, and the winery owners explained how the climate in Uruguay is similar to that of Bordeaux, France. No wonder it was delicious!

  5. Easy access!- You can access Montevideo by a short 2 hour ferry ride if you already have Argentina on your travel agenda. This makes it easy to visit both countries during one vacation.
    If South America is on your bucket list, don’t forget about Montevideo, Uruguay. A 2-3 night stay there would be a perfect beginning or end to your South American adventure.
Monday, 04 December 2017 00:00

Zoerty Review

blue peacocksMy fiancée and I booked our trip relatively soon to departure. We were searching for an upscale, romantic and relaxing experience that was quick and easy to get to for just a few days. Zoetry had great pricing and we were thrilled to find it and excited for the trip.

We weeded through all of the people trying to sell us excursions in the airport and searched until we found an apple rep. He did not have our name on his arrivals clipboard but once we said Zoetry he took us right to our private hotel shuttle where they offered us water and sparkling wine and off we went. It was a quick and easy trip to Zoetry.

We got a tour of the hotel and then were loaded into a golf cart and taken to our room. All of the rooms in the resort are suites and have sweeping ocean views - stunning!

The food and beverage at the restaurant is hands down the best food I have ever had at an all-inclusive! We were always asked by the attentive staff if there were any allergies or preferences and all items were noted with vegetarian, healthy, or gluten free. All changes I asked for were quickly and easily accommodated. The margaritas were amazing. My fiancée enjoyed his first ever pina colada pool side! The wine cellar features fantastic wines from all over the world and it was wonderful to be able to enjoy our favorite French wines while eating delicious Mexican inspired dinners!

One of the other features that really makes this hotel stand out for me is the marina. We had an all-day boat excursion to Isle Mujeres included as was an evening Catamaran cruise for approx. 1.5 hours with sparkling wine. There was an entire fleet and professional crew ready with a large selection of boats and trips or plan your own.

Yoga is offered every day and Fabby who teaches it is friendly and warm and works with everyone; from faithful practitioners to those who just want to try it out.

Gym was small but user friendly. We had to wait a few times for a piece of cardio equipment. The earlier you go the better of course.

The spa was overpriced, being almost double what we are used to living in an upscale resort town. We did not opt to use any of the services. We did hear some guests who used it raving about it.

We would absolutely go back and make more use of the marina and enjoy the exceptional food and beverage team but we would confirm our room type 3 times beforehand since we were originally placed in a room with 2 double beds.

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Top 10 Tips to Know When Renting an Italian Villa - from our Villa Reservation Team.

20171009 134733 bestJust back from a recent trip to Italy where she stayed with 6 other couples in a luxurious Italian Villa, Accent on Travel owner and travel aficionado offers up her tips to book your next Italian Villa vacation.

  1. Keep in mind all deposits are nonrefundable so when you are gathering up friends or family, let them know that their money is not coming back if they have to bail out of the trip unless they buy ‘travel insurance’.

  2. Count on and confirm all the service quotes include the countries VAT taxes and ‘service fees’.

  3. Confirm the contract with the Villa notes what exactly is included - maid service may not be daily or may cost more for more people staying in the villa, heating, air-conditioning may or may not be included.

  4. Tips for the staff are not included and are expected - just find out how much is the traditional amount.

  5. Plan on transportation daily needed - a run to the wine store, grocery store, in town shopping, and touring - ask and have a plan for those needs/desires.

  6. Double check ‘how many the villa sleep’s - it could be single rooms, twin beds, double beds, etc - get specific before you commit if you care about bedding.

  7. Although sheets and towels and paper goods are included, nothing edible or drinkable is included unless it is stated in the contract.

  8. Plan on renting in ‘hot spots’ 8 - 18 months in advance especially during prime seasons - ie wine country.   

  9. Who is paying when something gets broken.  Yes, it happens - a lamp, table, etc

  10. Luggage handling is not included so advise your friends and relatives to pack light to haul their own luggage to their room.  

 

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Annette Rick with the camel and guides in the Saraha Dessert

Welcome back for the rest of our blog on Luxury Travel to Morocco - I just had too much to say to fit it all in one blog. 

Money matters.. Although VISA and Master Card credit cards are widely accepted, I would highly suggest you hit an ATM very quickly to get your money exchanged to Moroccan DH.   Change in 'coin' is given when buying small item(s) which you will need for the expected public bathroom tips. 

Sightseeing - I cannot over emphasize the fact that professional private guides are worth their weight in gold as tour guides, shopping hosts, historians, theologians, cultural educators, and culinary experts.  Although it can be fun to fly into Morocco for a four night stay in Marrakech and or an overnight in a luxury tent in the Sahara Desert, I would recommend staying as long as you can as long as the touring and accommodations are crafted to your preferred style of travel and experiences.

Moroccan culture - During Ramadan and the rest of the year:  We found Morocco to be our favorite Islamic and also the most open to its citizens and tourists.  During our travels, one of the most useful thoughts that arose was to keep in mind Moroccans are very welcoming people especially if you respect their culture.  VIsiting during Ramadan is different and still enjoyable if you keep in mind the country does a slight 'flipflop'.. I.e. there is more activity at 11pm than 11 am, and although food can be found for lunch, saving your hunger for after sunset will be rewarded with more traditional Moroccan good cooking.  It appears to be a time for them to be more focused on their spiritual growth supporting not just their religious beliefs, but also by treating their family and those less fortunate with more care.  In order to get through the fasting from sunrise to sunset, many Moroccans rest during the day which means everything slows down.  On the positive side, there is no real 'morning traffic' during Ramadan since many Moroccans sleep in a bit later or are still asleep after being up much of the night so getting.

Transportation Options - Traveling through Morocco - For those wanting creature comforts while traveling, I would avoid the local bus, taxi, and train and hire private transport for either a day up to the length of your stay which is not unreadably expensive compared to many other areas of the world.  Although traveling by private jet through Morocco sounds excessive, based on a group of 8 or so, it is certainly worth me mentioning if time or comfort is high on your travel requirements. 

Moroccan Culinary:   We decided to take a 1/2 day cooking class to top off our exploration of Moroccan cuisine.  the classroom was the finest room I have seen used in my world food travels and I highly recommend Rrserving a private or small group experience if you find yourself in Marrakech.  We made a luscious aubergine tapenade, chicken tagines with olives and lemons, and the traditional milk pudding.  Bottled water was readily available and required a must for brushing teeth to drinking everywhere to avoid stomach issues.  Eating any raw veggie can be an issue even herbs unless eating at the luxury hotels where they grow their own and rinse veggies only with filtered water. 

Tagines -  A pot used to make a meal of the same name.  Options include chicken, fish, lamb.  Dried dates ( a stable as a meal side dish), raisins, dried figs, lives, preserved lemons, etc may be included to make a sweet or tangy tagines ( I tried them all while visiting and found all to be delicious..

Soup - During Ramadan a traditional vegetable soup is served about 30 minutes after sundown to break the fast.. we also found this to be quite good.  Typically, it is served with their homemade daily bread and dates as the sweet. 

Snacks - some of the best almonds, olives, dates, veggies and fruit are available.

Moroccan deserts are such a wonderful treat.  With such a variety of fruits, nuts, and honey available even our most discerning anti-sugar travelers caved in to a few local delicacies.  Moroccan desserts have also been influenced by the French and Spanish so you can enjoy light custards and flaky pastillos worth every calorie.  We even enjoyed their sudden but welcome change to traditional almond and honey sweet options during Ramadan's more limited eating offerings.

Moroccan Accommodations - We were very fortunate to have contacts through Accent On Travel provide us valuable insights on where to stay and what type of accommodations. THrough the efforts of the staff, everyone in our group enjoyed upgrades valued at over 100% of rack rate, many additional included meals and even a complimentary hammam at Sir Richard Branson's Moroccan Retreat, Kasbot Tamadon. SPELL?  Our traditional Riads were all luxurious boutique properties perfectly situated for the best city stay experience possible.riads typically include a full and lengthy breakfast and optional dinners served either rooftop, open court, or small fashionable decorated small indoor dining areas.  Service in the luxury properties in Morocco is impeccable.  Our Sahara Desert private camp experience provided us the ultimate travel memory of arriving by camel at sunset to an exclusive use luxury tent (with private bathroom in each tent) and without view of any other camp sites.  topped off with Welcome drinks of either their traditional Moroccan whiskey (a special green tea steeped with mint leaves), a cold Casablanca beer, or a glass of Moroccan white or red wine, we were quite content while they made our three course dinner and completed their sunset absolutions and prayers. 

Sahara Desert visits vary from 4 x 4 races, sunset visits, one night stays or full luxury culinary events across the desert with a camping entourage to handle travelers needs.

Without question, working with a travel professional who knows the options and the contacts in Morocco is key to using your time wisely and staying healthy while traveling.  The travel experts at Accent On Travel work hand in hand with companies such as #AbercrombieandKent to design your perfect Moroccan travel experience.  Please feel free to contact us at consulting@accentontravel.us for your next memorable vacation plan.

Ciao! Annette

 

Arriving at our luxury camp

I had vague notions of what our travel to Morocco would be like having designed the group's day by day itinerary with my reputable ground operations.  But as with most travelers, felt both curious and a bit on edge of traveling to a Muslim country.  Not only was Morocco far more than I and any of us expected in terms of feeling the friendliness of the Moroccans but I could relax my 'travel guard' after a few days of seeing the locals reaction to Americans.  All of us felt very comfortable walking the streets of the ancient cities and small villages that were on our itinerary.  Every day included at least one pleasant surprise in regard to food, sightseeing, or accommodations and ALL of us had to pull out that extra suitcase to pack away our newly found Moroccan purchases!  

Flying into Casablanca gets you to some of the better sights faster than by ferry from Europe or flights into Tangier.   We entered into the country from the US with nonstop flights from Washington, DC.  The only negative about the flight was that surprisingly, #Royalairmaroc , does not accommodate for the Islamic absolutions that occur periodically throughout the day so the restroom floors, sinks, etc are wet and littered with wet and dry towels as custom requires washing of feet, hands, and face prior to prayers which take place before bedtime and prior to breakfast.  Avoiding seats near the rear of the aircraft is recommended by buying their 'economy comfort' which is nothing more than buying a better placement of a seat.  Fellow coach class seat mates tended to be both friendly and accommodating to strangers.   Business class was not an option for us since #Royalairmaroc has no relationship with United, American, or Delta which many in our group would have used points to upgrade.

Cities of Interest:

Casablanca- the movie may have been romantic but unless you are interested in the largest mosque or Jewish history, the airport coming and going is the only site to you need to see if your vacation time is limited.  I would highly suggest using Rabat, the capitol of Morocco or Fez, another imperial city as your first or last night's stay instead to gain more time for sightseeing.  Having said that, a private transfer from Marrakech to the Casablanca airport is approximately three hours away.

Fez - The beautiful capital is worth a few nights stay and is generally the departure point for private jets and land travel arrangements to the Sahara Desert.  (Stay no less than 2 nights to really capture the flavor).

Marrekech - Possibly the culinary heart of Morocco with thousands of food stalls in the ancient (3rd century Medina).  Allow at least three full days to visit the gardens, Medina, and more

Off the beaten track locations:

Oasis accommodations - several to choose from all 1st class - luxury worth staying 2 - 4 nights.

Sahara Desert - luxury tents with private bathrooms... make sure you add that camel arrival at sunset

Want to learn more? Our blog continues next week with more pictures and more insights! 

Ciao! Annette

 

 

Alaska Denali

 

Alaska Airlines New Flights to Alaska

With new Alaska Air flights offering less expensive alternatives and better connections, the Alaska Cruise Experts at Accent On Travel are excited that this wonderful destination has become an affordable cruise option for next year's summer vacation!


Owner Annette Nero Stellhorn reviewed the options offered by the contemporary lines such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line Norwegian Cruises and Royal Caribbean. "Bryan, Accent On Travel’s Alaska Expert, and I have both traveled to our 50th state many times and have helped hundreds of clients explore this great land. Neither of us have seen prices like this since the early 1990s."


“Cruise prices do not seem to be increasing from 2015 to 2016. And, with our electronic alert system, if the price goes down on a cruise reserved through Accent On Travel, our advisor gets an alert and applies the decrease to our client's reservations automatically. So, booking now gives you the best accommodation selection, the best flight options, and the best price on both," Stellhorn said.


For those postponing Europe for 2016, Alaska is one of the best destinations to offer American culture, scenic natural beauty, wildlife viewing, and outdoor activities. If you have been thinking of getting the entire family away for a travel experience, Alaska could be the best fit. For under $30,000, a family of 6 adults and 5 children can enjoy a 7-day Alaska Cruise in balcony staterooms with meals and sightseeing, flights and transfers included.


Luxury cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises, and adventure Alaska vacations with companies such as Backroads or Lindblad, are going to be more expensive. However, Accent On Travel has as good or better than direct rates on any Alaska option.


To speak to an Alaska specialist, call Accent On Travel at (800) 848-3273, email Bryan@accentontravel.us, or visit www.accentontravel.us to view Alaskan vacation options.

Monday, 07 September 2015 03:00

Healthy Sicilian Chick Pea Salad

Escorted by Rachel Mavity

Healthy Sicilian Chick Pea Salad

Rinse & Drain 3 cups cooked chick peas

Mix together with 1/4 C finely shredded carrots & 1/T finely chopped white or green onion

In separate bowl, whisk together:

2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice + 1 t olive oil + 1/8 t black pepper & salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let sit at least 20 minutes before serving

Makes 6 servings.

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