Thursday, June 30, 2011


Of these four, which one does not relate to Bermuda? Pink sand beaches, Bermuda Triangle, Caribbean Island, or Bermuda shorts. If you guessed Caribbean Island, you are correct. Bermuda is a 21 square mile lovely island with an amazing 75 miles of coastline. It lies 650 miles off the coast of the Carolina’s, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of this Travel Specialists favorite all time destinations and I am delighted to share a bit more in hopes that you have the urge to venture there yourself someday.
Bermuda was settled back in the early 1600s when a ship from England carrying supplies to Jamestown, Virginia---was wrecked on Bermuda’s treacherous reef. It is the oldest and most populous British overseas territory and there is much to enjoy all. A few great historical sites not to miss are: Royal Naval Dockyard complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site, museums, century old churches and this country boasts the world’s highest concentration of historic forts. Due to its British beginning, you will find many business-men wearing Bermuda shorts on any given day. Another flavor of life from Britain would be pubs serving Fish N Chips.
The beauty of Bermuda is amazing. According to the locals, Bermuda’s sand has a faint rosy hue because it’s so romantic here that even the beaches blush. However, scientists say the coloring is from calcium carbonate and crushed bits of coral. Whatever the reason, the beaches are so worth experiencing. When on the island, you are never more than a mile away from a beach. The waters surrounding the island are shade of light and deep turquoise and what is below those beautiful waters can be equally enjoyable. You can snorkel, dive or even take a “walk” underwater with strange equipment that allows you to descend 10 feet under for some face time with reef and fish.
Golf anyone? Bermuda is a renowned golfing destination and the courses are as scenic as the island itself. But, don’t let their pretty appearance fool you. Many have holes by the sea or atop ocean-side bluffs, so wind and that big water hazard (aka-the Atlantic!) can play havoc with even the best players. There are nine golf courses to choose from on the island, each with distinct characteristics. For the non-golfer, ideas to spend a day away from the beach or greens are: Natural Reserves, Botanical Gardens, Bermuda Museum Aquarium & Zoo and so much more.
Because Bermuda is in the Atlantic, it’s not warm and tropical all year like many Caribbean Islands. High season is April through October, when the sun shines brightest, warm waters beckon and the island is teeming with activity. Off-season is November-March and this time of year is perfect for golf, tennis or uncrowded beaches. The pace is slower during this time as well and the hotel prices drop. Winter temperature is normally 70’s during the day, so it’s lovely year round.
You can arrive by cruise ship or by air from the states and if flying, accommodation options are plentiful. Everything from apartment rentals to all-inclusive resorts and anything in between are available. No need to rent a car as mopeds or local bus transit is the norm. I highly recommend the moped, but do keep in mind you drive on the left.
If you are interested in much more detailed information, a great website is out by the Bermuda Tourism Board: 3D Cruise and Travel would love to get you there. I hope you have enjoyed this small bit of Bermuda.
Debby Stevens

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Destination-Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Wikipedia states that Walt Disney World Resort is the world’s largest and most visited recreational resort, covering 25,000 acres (39 sq mi). It encompasses four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), two water parks, 24 on-site hotels, over 200 eating venues and more. There are perhaps over 100 guide books on “How to do Disney” and if you ask anyone who has gone, they have their own opinions. The magic of Walt Disney World is real and SO WELL worth experiencing. What I hope to do is share a few basics to help you get planning your Disney vacation. Let me break it down to When, Where, How and I’m Hungry:
WHEN: Christmas, Spring Break and summer are always when people consider Disney, and if those are your ONLY options, know you will face tremendous crowds and you will pay the most money. If you can avoid those times, here are the least crowded/least expensive times to go:
  • Mid-January-early February
  • Week before Labor Day to early October
  • After Thanksgiving to before Christmas
If you cannot avoid “peak” season, there are some great tips that can be given to make the best out of the time you are there. (Debby’s tip-it’s SO WORTH taking the kids out of school for a non-stressed vacation).

WHERE: Accommodation options in the Orlando vicinity range from rental homes, motels, resorts and Disney on-site resorts. Take it from one who has tried almost all of those, the perks at staying on-site are worth the few (and I mean few) dollars extra. Walt Disney World offers accommodations in 3 categories: Value, Moderate and Deluxe and here are some of the perks:
  • Free roundtrip airport transfers on the Disney Magical Express
  • 20+ various, and really cool themed resorts to select from
  • Extra Magic Hours-one park open its doors an hour early or stays open three hours late on any given day for guests staying on-site.
  • Ease of Disney transit options: bus, train, Tram in and around the 25K acres

HOW; 4 parks, each with rides, shows, parades, shopping and more. How do you do it all? A minimum 7 day stay at Walt Disney World will allow you to see most everything that interests you. Any less, you’ll have to miss a few. And, more days will allow for a more in-depth adventure. Park Tickets are necessary, but can be confusing. Here are the basics:
  • Magic Your Way Base Tickets allows you to see one park per day. A 1-day ticket is $68 (ages 3-9)/$79 (10+). A 10-day ticket is $210/$243, so you can see the value in going more days.
  • Park Hopper Add-On allows you to “hop” from one park to another in any given day. This works well when you want to spend a day at one park and see a night parade at another. These are $52 extra over Base price.
  • Water Park Fun & More allows admission to water parks and other entertainment venues-like ESPN Wide World of Sports. Also $52 extra.

I’m Hungry: Food can be very expensive at the Parks, but Disney began offering Dining Plans a few years back, and these save 20%-40% off your total food costs.
You must be staying at a Disney Resort and have Theme Park Tickets. Options are:
  • Quick Service- selection at over 50 Quick-service venues. For each night, you get: 2 meals, 2 snacks and a refillable mug.
  • Plus Dining- selection from over 100 venues (including Character Meals) and for each night, you get 1 Table Service meal, 1 Quick-service meal and 1 snack.
  • Plus Deluxe Dining- same selection as Plus, but each night, you get: 3 meals (choice of Table or Quick service), 2 snacks and a refillable mug.

As you can see Disney offers lots of options and we’ve not even discussed tips on: solo travel, senior travel, groups, weddings/honeymoons, cruises or more. If Walt Disney World Resort is on your list, allow a travel expert to assist in navigating through the complexity of your decisions so you can enjoy a Magical Disney Experience.

Debby Stevens
3D Cruise and Travel 512-218-0291

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Love a Cruise

As a travel professional, I understand not everyone is going to love a cruise. But, the majority of those that experience just one go again and again and again. Now, I am not trying to sway the die hard “I like my feet in the sand” or “I’d rather experience one destination” travelers out there (I love helping those as well), but for those who might be curious as to what the top aspects of a cruise are, here are mine:
#5: I like the lull of the rhythm of the sea. I will tell you that the first night out, I do take over the counter medicine to alleviate any motion that my brain tells me is not natural, but after that, I enjoy the slight motion. It becomes relaxing and feeds that basic need to feel connected to nature in a way that a car or airplane can’t manage. And, I find the best sleep ever with the cradle-like rocking.
#4: I love the “shippy” stuff. Unlike a land-based resort, cruise ship sailing has not changed much in nearly 50 years in some nostalgic ways that I enjoy. From the ships distinctive horn to the chipper cruise directors, I’m reminded of watching Love Boat every week as a young girl. Also, it’s nice to see officers in full uniform and activities like Bingo and contests by the pool you just can’t experience elsewhere. Lastly, the sound of the wind whipping across the open decks and the excitement of leaning over the railings to watch the water are simply exhilarating.
#3: I know the whole family will have fun. My daughters’ first experience on a ship at 8 years old is still so memorable to us. The dining room staff and cabin attendant treated her like a princess and she just LOVED the fun kids programs. Recently, as a teen, she enjoyed “hanging” out with other teens to do teen things all day: dance, contests, games, pizza parties, etc. My husband enjoys uninterrupted naps and not having a “honey-do” list. For myself, a good book by the pool or a walk around the social decks to see what activities are going on is pure pleasure.
#2: I appreciate the comforts in a safe environment. I love the walk up the gangway and exploring the ship to get my bearings and walking the corridors to find my cabin, which will be my “home” for a week or more. I know the cabin attendant will take care of any room needs and I am only stairs or an elevator away from spa, gym, restaurants, activities, and the sea. The safety onboard a ship gives me peace of mind, which is what I value in a vacation.
#1: I can turn off reality and enjoy. Being on a ship allows me to turn down the volume of a busy life, turnoff the cell phone, take off the watch and clear my brain. Someone else is cooking, cleaning, driving and making my bed. I get to go to various destinations without worrying about the details. I can enjoy room service (at no additional cost) people watch, snack all day, or just whatever……
Thank you for reading this article on my favorite reasons to cruise. My clients share their favorite items they enjoyed on their journeys and it makes my career choice that much more rewarding each and every time I listen to their adventure stories. Don’t Just Dream It, Do It!!!
Debby Stevens

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Got a Group?

Group Cruises = Great Value for YOU
No other vacation option enables guests to unpack one time and feel at home while visiting multiple cities, countries and in some cases, continents. Meals are included, shore side tours can be organized, entertainment is provided, and pampering is possible. Cruises really are an all-in-one vacation. When it comes to foreign travel, where the dollar is weak, a cruise is one of the most affordable ways to see the world. And, when you travel with a group: family, friends, organization, hobby group, etc………the benefits get even better.
When you travel as a group and you reserve your sailing early (9-12 months in advance), you receive the best early prices, preferred stateroom accommodations, and many valuable extra’s such as shipboard credit or gifts in your room. Also, if your group wants to have a special event, such as a private cocktail party, culinary demonstration, conference rooms, venue for scrapbooking or other, most times space is free. Basically, your group can do the functions it likes to do best and enjoy a vacation at the same time.
Often, when a Group Leader comes to a Travel Agency and can promote the sailing, based on number of cabins sold, that Group Leader can easily sail FREE. The Agent handles all the arrangements and can even set up a promotion night to answer questions. Intriguing? There is not catch except to get excited and get those in your circle to get excited as well. Here are some of the TOP GROUPS that sail together:
  1. Culinary and Wine Groups: those who are part of Dinner Clubs or Wine Tasting groups. Sampling foods and wines from around the world together.
  2. Wellness Groups: Martial Artists, Yoga, Spa/Fitness Clubs. Do seminars at Sea as well as utilize the state of the art fitness centers together.
  3. Sports Groups: golf, baseball, poker or ANY sport you can think. Gather and talk about all things, share stories and if allowed, play onboard or at ports.
  4. Wildlife/Nature Groups: especially HOT for photographers and those who like the great outdoors.
  5. Hobby/Craft Groups: Scrapbooking, needlepoint, quilting, you name it. Spend countless hours of uninterrupted time with others who love to do the same.
  6. Dancing/Music Groups: Dance Troupes, Bands and anyone who loves music. You can play in lounges or hold private dance lessons onboard.
  7. Ladies Social Groups: Ret Hat Society, or similar ladies groups have a BLAST!!!
  8. Fundraising Groups: need to raise money for a Nonprofit Organization? This is the vacation that benefits everyone. Vacation for a Cause.
  9. Family/Friends Groups: from ages 2-102, there is something for everyone. Celebrate a special anniversary, birthday, graduation or retirement with family and friends.
  10. Business Groups: for an employee incentive or a conference at sea, it’s a great way to work and play.
You may have your own club, hobby, church, or friend group that this list brought to mind that you feel this would be a great fit for. Most cruise lines consider a group to be 8 or more cabins, and there have been many groups that have chartered entire ships of 1000+. Basically, when an interest, hobby, passion is shared, a cruise is a wonderful avenue to consider. Are YOU ready for a vacation? Grab your group and do it. You won’t regret it.
Debby Stevens

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Since last weeks post was so popular, let's continue on topic..

Best Travel Web-Sites
As the popularity of traffic on internet sites increases, record number users in the U.S log on daily for a variety of reasons. Many top sites are travel related. As we sit in our cubicle or are up late sipping tea after everyone else is asleep, we appease our dream of faraway places by searching for that perfect vacation. For the “do-it-yourselfers”, surfing through pages after a Google entry can seem daunting.
Allow me to ease the pain by providing some top sites for you. Many of you are familiar with sites like:,,, etc. Be aware that you might not always be getting the best information on hotel ratings or even best pricing. Beware of service fees and if you have a problem after making your reservation, have patience with their toll free line staff. Ask to see your quote in writing/email format before paying in full, which they require for any reservation.
I’ll follow up with some reason to consider contacting a Travel Professional if it becomes too much to handle. By the way, most agencies should be able to match any online travel quote for your vacation package. Just ask......

AIRLINE- and best search engines for airfare pricing shows seat diagrams of most any aircraft to help you select the ideal seat. It also keeps pretty up to date info on phone numbers, baggage rules and more on most carriers. monitors fare when booked direct on airline website and notifies of price drops.

CAR TRAVEL- identifies the fastest, most direct route in more than 100 U.S. cities. allows you to punch in a zip code and download a list of stations to your PDA or iPhone based on interest.

HOTELS- is a leader in hotel reviews by consumers. short videos preview all aspects of a hotel and compares it with its competitors.

FOOD- links to reservations of top restaurants, making it easy to secure a table.

5 Reasons to Use a Travel Professional
  1. Updated Information- Travel Specialist are constantly communicating with the travel community, thus giving you the most up to date info on airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel visas, and other travel services to consider as you plan your trip.
  2. Expert Guidance- Travel Specialist are experts in helping travelers get where they need to go and in helping  create possibilities most people never would have dreamed were possible.
  3. Choice- Travel Specialist offer you an array of options and price quotes from a variety of travel suppliers, giving you the upper hand when making your final travel decisions.
  4. Best Value for Your Money Spent- Travel Specialist can help you to make your dollars go farther while you are away.  They have access to finding all sorts of deals ranging from flights to hotels to dinner recommendations. 
  5. Location, Location, Location!!!!- Travel Specialists can help you to find a place to stay pretty much anywhere you desire.  If it’s a hotel with a view of the ocean in Hawaii or a jungle hut in the Nilgiri foothills, a travel agent can help you make it happen.

Debby Stevens

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why Would I Need to Use a Travel Agent Anyhow?

Have you ever wanted to take a vacation but you just didn’t know where to start? A friend mentioned that they always use a Travel Agent and you wonder, “Why would I need to use a Travel Agent anyhow? I can do this myself.” Before you go to the internet and peruse through the 165,478 options, ponder these scenarios:
*You’d never been to France before, so you asked around for some travel advice. Your college roommate’s brother, who had spent a semester in France, happily gave you a list of all the places he stayed. It wasn’t until after you arrived in Paris that you realized you booked yourself into the most popular youth hostel in town.
*You’d heard cruising is an all-inclusive experience and it was pretty exciting when you went on that discount cruise website and saw those great photos of passengers sipping cocktails and touring great sights of the Mediterranean. It was kind of embarrassing when you got onboard and realized that none of those things were part of your “all-inclusive experience.”
*You wanted to get away for the weekend, so you “tweeted” a question to the masses asking if anyone knows of a great B&B in San Diego. JackTravels, was the first to respond with a great offer for a cute looking place, which turned out to be his house. You ended up sleeping in his kid’s room all weekend and having cereal for breakfast.
*You knew you shouldn’t have dawdled in the marketplace during your shore excursion, but you thought your cruise ship would NEVER take off without you. But, it did! The website you used to book your cruise wasn’t prepared for you to call them with the news that you needed help getting off the island.
*A room overlooking Athens sounded just swell in the online hotel description and it only cost 150 euro per night. Such a deal! Turns out it did overlook Athens, but it was from 10 miles out of town and a cab to the city was 75 euro each way.
*You weren’t really sure what a repositioning cruise was, but it sure was cheap!! Who knew it would only make 2 stops during the 10-day voyage?
*You asked your friends on Facebook where you should go for your honeymoon and a guy you went to high school with (whom you only sort of remember) told you he ran a travel company and that he’d get you a discount. It was only after he’d taken your money and disappeared that you remembered the trouble maker he was in high school.
*You and your fragile, aged, wealthy aunt both love animals, so you thought the cougar cruise, with the “too good to be true price tag” sounded fun. After seven days of constantly being mistaken for a woman on the prowl, your aunt has written you out of her will and you figure you’ll only need seven years of therapy to recover from the experience.
In the world of Vacation Travel, things online are not always what they seem and the old adage, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” is spot on. If you want a vacation with wonderful memories, trust a local professional who will work with you to find you the best for your taste, budget, and style.

Debby Stevens
Owner/Cruise & Travel Specialist