Tag Archives: travel planning

Top 50 Must See Cities In The World To See In Your Lifetime

We have talked about dreams and bucket lists and top ten lists of various categories ………. so let’s take it one step further …… what are the top 50 must see cities in the world that you should see in your lifetime? Some of these you may have visited, some may be on your dream destinations or your bucket list. I have had the opportunity to visit 29 of the 50 and hopefully will visit number 30 next spring. Over the years I could have visited several other of the 50 if I been aware of this list and had added them to my bucket list. I will share 10 of the cities daily for the next 5 days. The list is not ranked so the list just includes the top 50 must see cities!

First 10:

Venice, Italy – Picturesque canals, grandiose basilicas, and cozy wine bars!

Seville, Spain – Moorish Castles, narrow streets, and great tapas!

New York City, NY – The crossroads of the world!

Lhasa, China – The spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism and is set against the fantastic Himalayas!

Rio de Janerio, Brazil – Beaches, Sugar Loaf, and Christ the Redemmer Statue and of course Carnival!

London, England – The Queen, museums, shopping!

Marrakech, Morocco – Maze like corridors full of souks, stunning architecture, and more!

Petra, Jordon – Set in the desert, Petra’s monumental rock-cut buildings are a must see!

Rome, Italy – Ancient history and buildings, great food and wine …. and of course the Pope!

Varanasi, India – Set on the banks of the Ganges, Varanadi is one of India’s holiest cities!

10 National Beach treasures for your Bucket List

Everybody seems to enjoy going to the beach and isolated, undeveloped, and lots of nature is even better! Put these jewels on your bucket list and enjoy!

– Point Reyes National Seashore: Just north of San Francisco you will find Point Reyes. Over 80 miles of spectacular native beaches. Visit in the winter to see the elephant seals.

– Gulf Islands National Seashore : Located in Florida and Mississippi these undeveloped beaches and barrier islands are known for their temperate waters and brilliant sand.

– Cumberland Island National Seashore: The largest island off the Georgia coast preserves marshes, herds of wild horses, and wild beaches! It is only accessible by a 45 minute pedestrian ferry from St. Marys.

– Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: You will find some of the newest beaches on earth here due to this constantly evolving part of the Island of Hawaii. Colors vary from black to white to light brown.

– Assateague Island National Seashore: Located in Maryland and Virginia, this beach is known for it’s wild horses.

– Cape Cod National Seashore: Located in Massachusetts, you can think President Kennedy for creating this haven. The over 40 miles of beach was saved from development and remains some of the most pristine coastline in that part of New England.

– Cape Lookout National Seashore: Located in North Carolina, these largely undeveloped barrier islands can only be reached by ferry, and you must bring all your supplies, including water!

– Fire Island National Seashore: Located in New York, this 26 mile section of the barrier islands offers a getaway not too far from New York City.

– Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: This 35 miles stretch is located along Lake Michigan and includes 2 islands. Some of the sand bluffs can be ever 450 feet tall!

– Virgin Islands National Park: Located on St. Johns in the Virgin Islands, this park offers everything from tropical forrest to an underwater snorkeling trail. The park covers over half of the island.

Think nature and plan your visit to one of these treasures!

Does size matter?

Well, I’m talking about cruise ships! That being the case, does size matter? We have sailed on small, medium, and large ships …….. so what is the difference in size and how do you tell the difference! When people talk about cruise ships, they usually compare the gross tonnage of one ship to the gross tonnage of the other.  Because the word “tons” is used in connection with this measurement, people often think the gross tonnage is the weight of the ship. However, as Captain Herman Zini of Royal Caribbean explains, “The tonnage is not the weight, it is a volume measurement. So when we are talking about the tonnage of a ship, we are talking about the volume inside.”

The measurement was developed in order to be able to assess a ship’s cargo capacity. In fact, “tons” as used here is a corruption of “tuns”, an archaic term for casks of wine!

Traditionally, one gross ton was equal to 100 cubic feet of Space. Today, however, tonnage is worked out using a formula but still translates into the internal capacity of the ship.

Gross tonnage is a different standard of measurement than displacement. As Captain Stig Nilsen of Royal Caribbean explains, “Displacement is the weight of the water that a ship displaces. It is actually the weight of the ship.”

Military ships are often stated in terms of its displacement. For example the USS Ronald Regan had a displacement of 102,000 tons while the Brilliance of the Seas measures 90,000 gross tonnage. It would be a mistake to compare these two ships as to tonnage as you would be comparing apples and oranges!

Similarly, gross tonnage is different than deadweight. Deadweight is the amount of load that a ship is allowed to take on board. While the Oasis of the Seas has a gross tonnage of 225,000, her deadweight is only about 25,000 tons!

All that being said, as to cruise ships if we compare gross tonnage, we should have an apples to apples comparison. The gross tonnage normally relates to passenger load also. For example the Azamara Quest has a gross tonnage of about 30,000 tons and a passenger capacity of about 600. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance has a gross tonnage of about 90,000 tons and a passenger capacity of about 2000, therefore the Brilliance is about three times larger than the Quest!

As most of you know the trend is to build larger and larger ships. For example, the evolution of Royal Caribbean ships has been: Vision class – 78,340 tons, Radiance class – 90,000 tons, Voyager class – 138,000 tons, Freedom class – 160,000 tons, Allure class – 225,282 tons. However RCCL’s new Quantum class will only be 167,800 tons. As a rule gross tonnage does translate into not only the size of the ship, but also number of passengers, added activities, more open space, more restaurants, etc. So, size does matter.

Personally we prefer the smaller ships, like the Azamara Quest or RCCL Radiance class, but we have also had some great cruises on larger ships.

As for me, going forward I am going to think not only of the ship’s gross tonnage …………. but that the ship might be able to hold that much wine!!!

TSA fees double today!

You may not realize it but you are paying double today to support TSA! Yes TSA fees (tax) is being increased! I wonder what we will get for our extra dollars? I have always felt that there is a lot of waste in the TSA, and I really do not see that by doubling the fee we are going to solve any security issues. Why don’t we just use common sense and “profile” during the screening! I know we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling. If the issue where white, 65 year old males, a little over weight, short gray hair, and about 6-1 in height ……… I would not have a problem with being profiled for extra screening! But instead we all are screened and they always seem to have to confiscate my little Swiss Army pin knife!

Where will you go this year?

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We all tend to be creatures of habit! We find a restaurant, a hotel, a beach, a cabin in the mountains …….. and we go back year after year ………. why? We are all comfortable with the familiar! But why not once a year, try something new …….. try a new restaurant, a new beach, a new country! Get out your bucket list and take that first step toward your dreams!

More Regal Princess Information!

Entertainment on the Regal Princess reaches new heights!  There is Fiera, a fairground of excitement, merriment, and a story of love, set to  chart topping hits! Then there are hot Latin nights. Experience Caribbean flare with the excitement of Hot Latin Nights ………. enjoyed on the top deck, under the stars!

The Regal Princess will visit Princess Cays, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten! You can enjoy the shopping in St. Thomas, make a trip over to beautiful St. John, or enjoy one og St. Thomas’ awesome beaches. In St. Maarten you can enjoy the best of the Dutch and the French …….. beautiful beaches, cold beer, secluded locations, great snorkeling, and of course a visit to Orient Beach!

Check out the Regal Princess and you may want to have her on your bucket list!

Azamara Club Cruises!

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If you have never sailed with Azamara Club Cruises, you need to get them on your bucket list! Azamara is the top end of the Royal Caribbean family and with only two ships they make you feel like family! Their two ships, The Quest and The Journey, are about 30,000 tons and have a capacity of about 600 passengers. Azamara is all inclusive with gratuities, port transportation, and on-board drinks (wine, beer, and cocktails) included in your cruise price. Azamara tends to sail into smaller ports that larger ships cannot get into or closer to city center of ports which are frequented by larger ships. Azamara does tend to do a lot of over night ports so you can enjoy the port in the evening. We have sailed Azamara twice, both on longer repositioning cruises, one from Singapore to Athens and the other from Seville to Miami. We enjoy the sea days and ability to enjoy the ship. We have had the same Hotel Director and Cruise Director on each of our cruises and they do make you feel like family. With the smaller ship you do get to know the crew and passengers more than you would on a larger ship. The ship’s food is awesome …………. whether you dine in the main dinning room, one of the two speciality restaurants, or at the self service cafe with outdoor seating, you will not go away hungry! Consider becoming part of the Azamara family! Azamara does reciprocal elite benefits with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity which is not common with other cruise lines.

Where do you get your travel information?

When researching possible travel ideas, do you find it difficult to find accurate information? I think this is a challenge for us all. There are lots of avenues to follow when researching travel:

Travel books – There are usually many books available with travel information. Frommer’ s, Fodor’ s, Access, Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Virtual Tourst, and many other sources offer lots of travel information. What I do most of the time is make a visit to Barnes and Noble, get a cup of coffee, select a few books on the area of interest, find a comfortable chair, and research while making notes. If I find a book that has the information I need I will purchase it, other wise I just make notes. Your local library is also a great source of books. I personally do not like travel books in e-book format as it is very difficult to go from one area to another, so I do stay with a hard copy of travel books.

On-line: There are numerous sources on-line to research travel. Most of the books noted above all have web sites that offer good information. The number one web site for travel information is Tripadvisor. I have found that I tend to use Tripadvisor as my number one web site also and supplement their information from other sources. On-line web sites of various hotels and airlines can also be used. I usually use Orbitz, Trivago, Expedia, Kayak, etc. to research multiple hotels and airlines prior to focusing on a particular hotel or airline. I have found some great, economical hotels on Tripadvisor. Their rating systems to be fairly accurate and I find the reviews to be accurate. Do be cautious in using on-line reviews as some may not be accurate.

Travel Professionals: Travel professionals are always an excellent source of travel information, especially with complex trips. They have many resources available, some that are not available to the independent traveler. They also my have personal experience with a particular travel area or may have booked similar trips for other clients. Some on-line web sites offer a combination of independent travel research and the input of a travel professional. Even when I use a travel professional I do my own research also.

Videos: Various web sites, YouTube, Netflex, and others also have an abundance of videos available for review. I have found these very useful in travel planning. Rick Steves and Samantha Brown in particular have excellent videos available.

Friends: Friends are an excellent source of travel information, at times.
If someone has been to a location or taken a specific trip, their input and experiences can be valuable to you. Just remember that everyone tends to have their own opinion and experiences and you may or may not have the same experience. I also find that talking with new friends made while traveling can be a good source of information.

Just remember the trip is yours, so make sure you do what you want to do ………… It’s your vacation and you are paying for it!