Our Blog Posts
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.
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.
Accent On Travel’s Mackenzie Melfa was named one of Travel Agent Magazine’s 30Under30 – the top travel consultants in the industry under 30 years old – in its recently released compilation.
This generation of travel professionals “exist in a 24/7 world of nonstop information, and communicate with each other, with other industry professionals and with clients through multiple platforms,” writes the magazine of the agents featured in 30Under30.
Melfa, who is based in the Towson office of Accent On Travel, left a career as an interior designer to enter the world of travel and she hasn’t looked back.
“I took a leap of faith when I quit my job to work for Accent On Travel. I happily filled a need for a Romance Travel Specialist, mainly planning honeymoons and anniversary getaways. Honeymoons were a perfect fit for me since most of the clients were my age. And being engaged myself, I could easily relate to what my clients wanted and needed most,” Melfa said.
After researching various resources, she pursued a career with Accent on Travel because of their professional and forward-thinking model of providing enriching travel and cruise experiences to clients. She was able to “get her foot in the door” of the travel industry with some help from Accent’s mentorship program. Accent On Travel owner Annette Nero Stellhorn helped guide Melfa to start building her business and travel portfolio.
“Mackenzie has a great personality and thrives on people-to-people interactions while still enjoying the dedication it takes to handle travel research, negotiations, and details. Her passion for bringing value to the traveler experience gives her the dedication to handle hundreds of hours of training that is required to become a professional travel consultant,” said Stellhorn. “We took a well-calculated investment and now I personally refer her to my traveling friends and relatives looking for a honeymoon or a rejuvenating vacation with a loved one. Although she can easily handle those looking for the traditionally all-inclusive Caribbean honeymoons, Mackenzie excels at taking the stress off of the couple, getting to know their likes and dislikes, crafting a vacation experience within their budget, tweaking as needed, and designing an innovative and well-planned travel itinerary."
Currently, Mackenzie is working with clients designing vacations to 'off the beaten path' properties in the Caribbean and Central America, as well as destinations such as New Zealand, Croatia, Italy, and Tahiti.
When asked what she loves most about her career as a travel specialist, Melfa says, "I delight in knowing that the honeymoon or vacation I create for my client will be full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that they will always remember.”
Melfa, as are all Accent on Travel's full-time travel professionals, is trained to provide vacationers with advice and reservation management, from planning to departure, as well as serving as an advocate for clients during and after a trip, which often saves clients hundreds of dollars and hours of stress. She meets with Mid-Atlantic regional clients at the office of Accent on Travel at 100 West Road, Suite 300, in Towson, Md., or at a location and time convenient to the couple.
Get in touch with Mackenzie Melfa today to start planning your next memorable vacation experience! Call (410) 296-8330 or email Mackenzie@accentontravel.us. For more information on Accent On Travel, visit www.AccentOnTravel.us.
Whether it is cruising the Caribbean, diving into luxurious plunge pools in St. Lucia, or exploring your exotic side in Croatia, Accent On Travel’s Romance Specialist Mackenzie Melfa is ready to help you find the perfect escape for you and the one you love. Mackenzie loves to send her clients on perfect honeymoons and anniversary trips.
“I have a passion for finding and creating unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” says Mackenzie, who recently completed her certification as a Hawaii Destination Specialist. “I started my career in the travel industry more than a year ago and it happened to be around the same time that I got engaged. It was such an easy transition to take my interest in travel and pair it with romance because I was planning my own honeymoon.”
This insight allows Mackenzie to design a stress-free way of planning a getaway for her clients. “I have so much fun working with couples who are head over heels in love!”
Mackenzie likes to build a relationship with the couples to understand each person’s likes and dislikes. She gathers information on their style of travel, whether they are interested in adventure, culinary, or historic destinations. Then she crafts the perfect trip for them.
“I’m finding that a lot of couples have already been to what we think of as the ‘typical’ honeymoon destinations of the Caribbean, Mexico, and Western Europe before. So I am seeing a strong push toward the exotic, usually a destination that neither person has visited before like Tahiti, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina,” she said.
Tips for talking to your loved one about a romantic trip:
- Talk about memories of places that made each person the happiest
- Discuss various places where each person felt they could spend more time
- Go over a bucket list of adventures each person has always dreamed about taking
- And, most importantly, talk about what a romantic trip would look like for each person
“Do what makes you happiest and that is where you will find romance,” Mackenzie says.
So, what’s the next trip for this Romance Travel Specialist? Her own honeymoon!
"My fiancé and I are taking a two-week trip to New Zealand. We are starting it off by spending New Year’s Eve on a little island off the coast of Auckland that is known for its vineyards and amazing bed and breakfasts,” says Mackenzie. “After that we will rent a car and drive all along both the North and South Islands. I am most excited for our helicopter ride to the Franz Josef Glacier! But a close second would be our sunrise kayaking experience at Cathedral Cove. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip that we will never forget.”
Are you ready to plan your once-in-a-lifetime romantic getaway? Contact Mackenzie at (410) 296-8330 or Mackenzie@accentontravel.us. For more information on Accent On Travel, please visit www.accentontravel.us.
Shown above are views of the Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas.
Accent On Travel’s Katie Pickering experienced the seamless transition from land to sea when she attended a by-invitation-only viewing of the Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas, which was docked at Locust Point in Baltimore. What the certified cruise specialist at Accent On Travel call a ‘No-Fly Cruise.”
The Grandeur of the Seas was about to depart on a 7-night Bermuda cruise from Baltimore, but while it rested in the harbor, an elite group of travel professionals were invited to tour the ship, dock, and go through the boarding process.
“It was incredibly simple,” said Katie. “I could see the ship right off of Interstate 95 and Key Highway. It was impossible to miss. Drive in, park, and shortly, you are in the lap of luxury aboard the cruise ship.”
Katie, a cruise expert, is currently offering several promotions on Royal Caribbean cruises, including:
BOGO (Buy One, Get One Half Off)
BOGO HO ! Holiday cruise special w/free gratuities
Going! Going! Gone! Save up to 20% each week.
Rock Your View Savings on select Anthem of the Seas cruises
These promotions are time sensitive and may expire at any time. However, the Accent On Travel professionals have the most current offers available for Royal Caribbean Cruise Crown & Anchor Society Members discounts as well as first time cruisers on RCI. Royal Caribbean Cruises sails to the Caribbean from Baltimore but also sails in Europe and Alaska each summer!
For more information or to book your next Royal Caribbean cruise, contact Katie at (410) 296-8330 or email Katie@accentontravel.us. To view upcoming cruise itineraries and more, please visit www.accentontravel.us.
Driving up to the pier, the Royal Caribben cruise ship is clearly visible from the highway.
The modern interior of the Royal Caribbean ship is full of light and gives a feeling of openness. Each deck panel is clearly marked and electronic touch panels give information and an overview of the ship.
Accent On Travel joined fellow professional cruise experts in an exclusive OLife with Oceania Cruises Immersion event in New York in July. The ‘by invitation only’ event included Oceania Cruises executive’s presenting and explaining the new Olife onboard experience as well as a ship tour finishing off with a gala luncheon aboard the M/S Insignia in New York City’s harbor.
OLife is an exciting new program allowing guests to choose from a wide variety of Oceania Cruises Summer Itineraries 2016 and receive cruise discounts and cruise onboard amenities. Early booking discounts are on the majority of sailings but the new, and exciting cruise news is that Oceania Cruises is now including complimentary shore excursions. Unlike their sister company, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises complimentary shore excursions are limited and based on the length of the cruise. For cruises up to nine days, cruisers get three free shore excursions. For cruises 10-13 days, get four free shore excursions, and for cruises of more than 14 days, cruisers can get five free shore excursions.
Oceania is also offering free unlimited Internet and free prepaid gratuities for new cruise bookings. These great promotions are only for cruises booked through September 30, so there has never been a better time to cruise with Oceania.
The tour of the M/S Insignia highlighted the newest amenities, including the beautifully appointed Canyon Ranch SpaClub, sundecks, dining options, and suites.
The entire Oceania experience is all about luxury, and this ship is just beautiful, with every accommodation imagined. The OLife program offers great incentives for those still on the fence about a 2016 cruise. Now is the time to book your dream cruise with Oceania and enjoy all the amazing amenities and free shore excursions.
For a full listing of 2016 cruises, please visit Accent On Travel’s cruise finder at www.accentontravel.us. To consult with a cruise expert, please email Consulting@accentontravel.us or call (302) 703-6154.
Middle are views of the deck and the main grand entrance onboard the Oceania M/S Insignia.
Above are views of the interior of the cruise ship, including the luxurious bedroom suite and marble bathroom.
Australian travel opens a world of possibilities for the adventurous traveler as well as those that prefer the best in accommodations and services. And, there is no one better suited to create that perfect experience in Australia than Pauline Early, who spent time in Australia as a child and is now the Aussie travel specialist with Accent On Travel.
Having been a travel professional for over eight years, Pauline was encouraged to meet with the Australian Tourism Board, and go back to Australia to get her Aussie Specialist Certification. Now, Pauline crafts custom tours for individuals and families, planning the tours and travel services at each destination. For those that would like a more inclusive experience, Pauline reviews what experiences the traveler wants, and then she assists in comparing hosted/guided tour itineraries based on inclusions, hotels, destinations, and pricing.
Says Accent On Travel owner, Annette Stellhorn, “Pauline is our go-to Australia travel expert because she knows all the insider tips about Australia and the country’s surrounding destinations. She has experience organizing itineraries so that clients have the best experience as they travel across this vast continent. Fun for Pauline is sending travelers ‘back home’ by zipping out Australian VISAs and giving them last minute tips to ‘go down under’.”
Cruises to Australia starting or ending in Sydney are also popular. Several cruise lines visit Australia’s seaside resorts and cities and also include stops in New Zealand and Tasmania as well!
Whether by cruise ship, guided tour, or rental car/rail, her contacts and experience make each vacation a more enriching travel experience with far more highlights and much fewer wrinkles.
Pauline often uses companies run by Australians with whom she has great working relationships. “They are excellent at knowing the ins and outs of working with the various destination sights, so we can organize the perfect vacation based on my clients' needs and desires.” Accent On Travel has a select list of reputable Australian travel companies that we use based on the budget and style of travel that best suits the client. The company is used in the planning stages and is ‘on location’ to make sure all arrangements run as planned.
Pauline recommends traveling during Australia’s spring (October-November) or fall (March-April) to enjoy the best weather. “The seasons in Australia are the opposite of in the United States, so I always advise my clients what to pack, says Pauline. Everyone thinks the weather is hot and dry, but that is not always the case.
“An often-made mistake by the first time traveler is forgetting you cross the International Date Line, so you also need to plan to have an extra day of travel,” Pauline advises.
Pauline’s recommendation for flights? “Qantas business class! The seats recline to form a bed and they give their passengers pajamas to wear.”
“The people of Australia are veryfriendly, which Americans love! You will hear lots of Aussie slang, such as , mate,” Pauline said. “Most Australians are laid back and casual, even in the cities, which can be more traditional. Dress down for Australia in general, but dress a bit fancier in the cities.”
Pauline’s favorite personal Australian experiences?
Sydney, where she snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland
Aboriginal cultural performances
If you would like to experience ‘Down Under,’ contact Pauline at Accent On Travel to make plans, starting from two months to two years from departure - (410) 296-8330 or Pauline@accentontravel.us. For more information on Accent On Travel or Australia sightseeing options, please visit our website at www.accentontravel.us.
Top: Heading out to FantaSea to sleep ON the Great Barrier Reef
Clockwise above: Feeding kangaroos at Australia Zoo (owned by the Irwin Family who lives on property); Chef's Table on Hayman Island; Holding Willie the koala on Hamilton Island; Black Cockatoo. Lived there for 13 years and never saw one until this visit; and must-haves - meat pie with tomato sauce (ketchup) and a Bundaberg ginger beer.
Oceania Cruises is the world’s only upper-premium cruise line. Providing the finest cuisine, designed by Master Chef Jacques Pepin; sophisticated luxury amenities; and the highest quality service, Oceania brings the best to its customers every day.
Accent On Travel’s owners, Annette and Rick Stellhorn were long-term associates of those who started Oceania Cruises and were some of the first to sell the staterooms on Oceania’s first ships, the Nautica and Insignia. As Oceania Cruises grew, so did the relationship between the two companies. Accent On Travel, as part of an elite group of travel professionals with world-wide connections through Signature Travel Network, has exclusive benefits and amenities for their clients because of this long history.
Katie Pickering, a senior travel designer with Accent On Travel, is well versed on the nuances of Oceania Cruises, not only as an experienced cruiser, but also as a full-time cruise expert who regularly works hand in hand with Oceania staff to provide the best vacation experience to her clients.
“Oceania’s Bon Appétit Culinary Center is an onboard option, which allows passengers to observe, learn, and to personally prepare gourmet cuisine,” said Katie, who recently learned to make scones aboard an Oceania cruise. “In addition to learning from Master Chefs, you also get to sample the local produce and learn about the best preparations on the exclusive Oceania Culinary Discovery shore excursions.” Accent On Travel, as an award-winning bon appétit magazine Tastemaster, now includes exclusive food and wine onboard amenities on various Oceania Cruises sailings. These amenities are only available to a select group of travel companies, called Tastemasters, and not available to the general public.
After eating all that amazing food, Katie loves to hit the gym to burn it off or relax in Oceania’s onboard award-winning Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The Spa, affiliated with the famous land-based Canyon Ranch is worth taking the cruise in itself!
One of Katie’s favorite Oceania experiences was her past cruise featuring Italian ports of call.
“Italy is all about great wine and food. I love learning about the culture because in Italy it is family first, slow down, and enjoy life.” Katie said. “Italians work to live, not live to work.”
“The global connections that we have at Accent On Travel really allow us to design an enriching travel experience for our clients,” Katie said. “Whether traveling to Italy, Greece, or one of the 300 destinations through Oceania, I know it will be a trip to remember.”
Katie’s insider tip – join travel supplier ‘reward programs’ to receive complimentary perks.
- When cruising, join their club to receive advance notice of new itineraries and priority reservation status before it becomes available to the general public.
- When renting a car, first join their membership club in order to avoid the long check-in lines.
- When staying at a hotel, join their club to receive complimentary amenities such as bottled water and newspapers in your room.
- When flying, join the airline’s club to accumulate mileage and clout for when things go awry.
Join, join, join! It only takes a minute, and it’s usually free! And, if you are planning a cruise, tour, or resort stay? Use a reputable travel company such as Accent On Travel to receive as-good-as direct pricing, but with added discounts and amenities through their contracts, all of which helps you avoid historic travel planning mistakes, and allows travel designers to help you craft a vacation that truly fits your individual preferences.
With Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania Cruises, former Chairman & CEO at Prestige Cruise Holdings (parent corporation of Oceania Cruises), and current CEO and President of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (who acquired Prestige Holdings in Nov. 2014)
Top: Riviera Christening festivities flamenco dancer/performer in Barcelona
Center: Learning how to make scones in Oceania’s Bon Appetit Culinary Center.
Accent On Travel Owner Annette Nero Stellhorn embodies the essence of culinary travel. Shown enjoying a meal in Mongolia are (l-r) Rick and Annette Nero Stellhorn and Dottie and Gary Johanson, clients of Accent On Travel.
As professional travel designers, Accent On Travel is always looking for new ways to save money for clients while providing enriching travel experiences.
Last month, Accent On Travel Owner Annette Nero Stellhorn was named one of an elite group of 50 travel professionals known as the bon appétit Tastemakers of Travel. By joining three of the most prestigious names in culinary travel - bon appétit, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas - this seal of approval allows the company to invite travelers into a guild of culinary enthusiasts.
“I was thrilled just to be nominated for the Tastemaker designation earlier this year, and I am beyond ecstatic now that I have been chosen to serve as a Tastemaker, providing our clients and bon appétit magazine readers with the most exclusive culinary travel opportunities available,” Stellhorn said.
Because of this award, any traveler reserving an Oceania cruise or Regent Seven Seas cruise with Accent On Travel receives exclusive access to select bon appétit-curated Oceania Spotlight Cruises - the ultimate culinary celebrations at sea, which are helmed by legendary Master Chef Jacques Pepin, executive culinary director, and feature world-class chefs and extraordinary, food-focused itineraries.
This honor also grants a host of exclusive extras. For example, with Oceania Cruises, Tastemaker clients receive private wine tasting events and complimentary wines on select sailings, as well as shipboard credits to participate in onboard culinary classes.
“I look forward to planning future culinary adventures with the elevated exclusivity of the bon appétit Tastemaker offers,” Stellhorn said. “It is a privilege to work with clients who are excited for a travel experience that will linger for a lifetime.”
For more information, call 302-703-6154, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.AccentOnTravel.us.
“The more time you have for an Alaskan vacation, the more you will enjoy it,” said Alaska Travel Expert with Accent On Travel, Bryan Clement.
Did you know?
Alaska is the same length as Miami to New York City.
“I can create a great 10-day Alaskan cruise/tour taking you into the heart of Denali for a few nights that you will always cherish, or we can make the most of a 7-day cruise with the right Alaskan shore excursion options if your time or budget is limited,” said Bryan.
Having experienced Alaska himself several times and an Alaska travel advisor, Bryan uses his professional training and expertise to provide suggestions on what cruise line/ship, itinerary, time of year, and inclusions would be best for individuals or family groups based on their personal budgets and styles of travel.
Bryan was bitten by the travel bug while in college in Utah. He decided on a major with a travel aspect and completed his senior internship at Snowbird Ski Resort. During the internship he was able to experience what goes on behind the scenes in the resort industry. He worked in the reservations department for five on-site hotels.
After graduation, Bryan continued his education in resorts and travel, living in southern California and Key West, Florida. A trip to Alaska peaked his interest in “The Last Frontier” and he has visited several times since, extending his knowledge of the hiking, biking, fishing, and the restaurant scene.
Bryan’s Cruise Picks for cruising to Alaska
Crystal Cruises – Great for multigenerational families that want a more relaxing and inclusive experience to Alaska. With the greatest variety of enriching onboard activities as well as ‘hand selected’ shore excursion experiences, Crystal brings their midsize ships to Alaska on rare occasion.
Regent Seven Seas – Regent Seven Seas is the all-Inclusive Alaska cruise experience for those that don’t know if they really want to take a cruise. With open seating ‘no scheduled’ dining, all drinks included, and a wonderful selection of included shore excursions, travelers are surprised that the ‘return home’ cost of their luxury cruise vacation on Regent Seven Seas is within 10% of what they would have paid on a premium product like Princess Cruises. Annette’s top pic for Alaska!
Princess Cruises – The most marketed cruise line for Alaska! With a variety of cruises and cruise tours, Princess offers a wide selection of moderate 1st class cruising with great hotels on land.
Celebrity Cruises – Offers for past passengers a competitive product in the Alaska cruise vacation market with a few selected itineraries that are worthy of consideration for the price sensitive traveler.
Holland America Line – The traditional cruise line for Alaska cruises, offering trips from 4 – 10 days or Alaska cruise tours from 10 - 28 days.
Disney Cruise Vacations – the family friendly cruise line offering Alaska with onboard and on land kid friendly shore excursions!
Royal Caribbean Cruises – A great alternative for those families wanting plenty of kid’s activities for their Alaska cruise without paying the premium pricing found on Disney Cruises.
“The hiking, whale watching, and trains of Alaska are unbeatable,” Bryan said. “Trains are very big in Alaska because they take passengers through some of the most scenic areas – some of which can’t be accessed by any other method of transportation.”
His favorite place to visit is Skagway, Alaska because it mixes the feel of a small frontier town with the ability to easily travel to larger destinations.
Lately, Bryan is working with several groups planning trips to Alaska.
“People are drawn to Alaska because it is still wild and pure,” Bryan said. “There are so many scenic views, so many mountains that are untouched and waters that still teem with fish. It’s an amazing place that you just have to see for yourself.”
Bryan is able to truly customize each trip’s experience using the tools available through Accent On Travel’s partnerships.
“Accent On Travel gives me a lot of freedom to maximize the guest’s experiences and meet their needs,” Bryan said. “When working out pricing, I am able to go through our Signature Travel Network to save my clients a good amount of money. There are many added benefits and having contacts the world over really allows us to maximize what we offer to each client.”
Bryan is just one of Accent On Travel’s Alaska travel specialists and is a family vacation planner expert as well. You can reach him at (410) 296-8330 or email@example.com. For more information on Accent On Travel, visit www.accentontravel.us.