Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just in Time for Your Beach Vacations!!! It's Shark Week!!

Sink your teeth into 'Shark Week'

  • Time to cue the theme from Jaws, old chums..
Starting tonight, Discovery Channel viewers can once again commune with the Voldemorts of the deep, thanks to that summer staple known as Shark Week. Now in its 34th season, the series will be hosted by Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg (a.k.a. "Chief Shark Officer"), whose official duties included swimming with reef sharks in The Bahamas.
Discovery Channel
As Samberg's encounter illustrates, there are plenty of ways to get up close and personal with the maligned and misunderstood creatures - including four Discovery Adventures tours to the Galapagos Islands (three cruises and one trip that tacks on a visit to Peru's Machu Picchu). Participants will likely see (and perhaps dive with) such species as scalloped hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, reef sharks, white-tipped sharks and whale sharks.
Not ready for the deep end? Several aquariums are hosting Shark Week tie-ins, from shark-themed dive shows and an outdoor screening of Jaws at Charleston's South Carolina Aquarium to $2 off admission at Camden, N.J.'s Adventure Aquarium for any guests sporting fins on their heads. A high-definition, underwater Shark Cam at Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium will beam live views of the facility's shark habitat, and a special version of the aquarium's popular swim and dive program, Journey with Gentle Giants, will focus on shark identification.
Near Bruce's old swishing grounds of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., meanwhile, a corresponding rise in the gray seal and great white shark populations has sparked a tourism boom, notes Discovery News.
Monomoy Island, an 8-mile sand spit where the great whites have been spotted, is a national wildlife refuge. Nearby Chatham has seen a 15 percent uptick in tourism revenues, and New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse told Discovery News that during one recent tour, "a great white took a free swimming seal" in a bloody, violent battle viewed by families riveted to the real life event.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Romance for Two
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A ROMANTIC GETAWAY FOR TWO. No phone calls, no email, no lists of things-to-do; instead, it’s just you and your loved one enjoying the magical thrill of being away from it all. Imagine escaping to the sun-filled shores of a tranquil tropical paradise or discovering the sights and sounds of numerous exotic destinations as you cruise around at sea. With your day-to-day routines out of sight and out of mind, you’ll rediscover all the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Romance awaits you……….what are you waiting for?
Nothing sets the stage for romance like picking the perfect destination that fits your style. Are you an adventurous couple that would enjoy hiking, biking or scaling walls together? Perhaps, sitting by the pool at a resort suits you best or a storybook castle setting. Of course, many would argue that cruising is the most romantic getaway out there. Not sure what style you are? Let a Travel Agent help guide you to finding your own perfect destination.

  • Contact your hotel or resort ahead of time and arrange to have flowers and champagne waiting in your room upon arrival.
  • Book a couples massage at the hotel spa on onboard ship the first day of your getaway. It will immediately put you in the mood for a relaxed vacation together.
  • Stay in one night and order room service. A brunch on your verandah or a candlelight dinner with music will make for an unforgettable experience. (Most cruise ships include room service for no additional charge).
  • Try an activity at your destination that is new to both of you. Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring something new will help you see one another in a new light and will remind you of all of the reasons you fell in love in the first place.
  • If this is a second honeymoon, consider renewing your marriage vows. Many resorts and cruise lines can arrange the details no matter how simple or extravagant you want to be.

The importance and success of having a romantic vacation getaway is not how much you spent. What is important is that you and your special someone actually spend quality time together, with no worries of all your household chores, office work, children and pets. It's the idea of being together, undisturbed, that can achieve what the objective of a romantic vacation getaway, which is to foster if not reignite your relationship.
An annual romantic getaway can be as simple as a long weekend one year, and a week long vacation the next. It is important to keep in mind your budget. No one wants to spend a romantic getaway in a tiny motel with nothing to do. So, save your money, and seek out a Travel Agent that can assist with all the aspects. They will handle all the details to plan a fun and intimate romantic getaway and you can just relax and enjoy one another.

Debby Stevens
3D Cruise and Travel

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guess what I did on vacation?
Parents, brace yourselves! Teens’ expectations for family vacations just got higher--and a lot more active. When asked what makes a dream vacation for them, teens say they would most like to brag to their friends about a once-in-a-lifetime activity. Here are some interesting results to a poll conducted online within the United States among 1000 youth ages 8-17. Source: article from June 2007
  • About 4 in 5 Teens desire a unique vacation event or activity that will provide them with bragging rights and about 3 in 4 parents want the same for their children.
  • More than half of teens say their parents join in on their adventurous activities, while only 14% say their parents want to be left alone.
  • Teens favor real-life action on vacation, such as participating in adventurous activities (84%) to playing video games at their hotel (16%).
  • More than half of teens want to tell their friends that they swam with dolphins on their vacation. Other aspects that make up a teen's dream vacation include: exploring a new place (68%), seeing a celebrity (49%), meeting a new friend (42%) and spending time with family (36%).
So, where do you go to get both a “Wow Factor” from the kids and from Mom & Dad? How can you find a vacation to please everyone? Here are just a few favorites: Cowhand/Dude Ranches: all you need are some cowboy boots and a wide brimmed hat for this one. Starting right here in Texas and all over the U.S., there are “dude ranches” that pack a lot of firsts for those normally bored teens: hayrides, lasso lessons, and horseback riding. Many will even allow the kids to pick hen eggs, clean out stalls, brush down the horses and more. The evenings wind down with S’Mores and music by the bonfire.
Snow Resorts: ski, snowmobile, snowboard, snow angels, sledding, dog sledding, etc……. Winter playgrounds have quite an appeal for all ages. From the options in the U.S., to Canada and Europe, snow resorts are plentiful. Mornings spent out on a fresh blanket of snow are such a great way to relax and unwind from the stress of work and life. It’s also incredible family bonding time as everyone has something to share over a cup of hot cocoa.
Tropical Resorts: some of the top travel destinations in the world are found near beaches. With beaches come water sports, diving adventures, sea life sites and incredible nature scenes. Top picks are: Mexico, Caribbean and Hawaii for families. Hot these days are the all-inclusive resorts where all of your accommodations, food, beverages and activities are included in the price. Most have kids programs for all ages at no additional cost. A trip to the tropics will create memories of ocean waves, stars shining, colorful flowers and family time spent in a very special place.
Amusement Parks: for a day, a few days, a week or longer, what kid does not love an amusement park? Close to home we have Sea World, Fiesta Texas and Schlitterbaun. #1 on everyone’s list, both old and young is Disney World. However, each state has many hidden treasures. .Thrill seeking teens will be boasting for years about the roller coaster they rode.
Cruise Ships: many would place this as THE VERY BEST family vacation for any age. Not only are there endless activities offered onboard, but there are teen areas and special events. Of course, each stop at a port can bring its’ own adventures: Bobsled in Jamaica, Parasail on Maui, hiking in the rainforests in South America, and on and on and on.. There are cruise lines that match every style and price range. Teens are sure to love this one.
Give us a call and let us help you make some memories!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

10 Common Travel Scams

By Tom Hall
Lonely Planet

While you’re often safer overseas than you are in your hometown, a few scams seem to pop up all over the world. Repeat the mantra: if it looks too good to be true, it must be too good to be true …
1. Fake police
Sometimes also the real police, they’ll demand to see your passport and find something wrong with your visa, but then suggest your troubles will all be over if you pay a fine. To them. In cash. Right now. Standing your ground and offering to accompany them to the station will usually see the error "excused."
2. Gem or carpet deals
On entry into a store, often prompted by an enthusiastic taxi or rickshaw driver, you will be offered a deal so preposterously lucrative that refusing it seems unthinkable. Think again — those gems are going to be worthless and the carpet you buy may not make it home at all. There are legitimate traders selling both jewels and rugs, and they don’t act like this.
3. Airport taxis
Drivers taking you into town might try every trick in the book, from asking you for an inflated fare to driving around the streets to raise the price higher. This is usually harmless, but you should only travel with licensed taxis and, if you can’t pay in advance, agree on a fee before starting out and don’t pay until you get where you want to be.
4. Timeshares
You're approached by an extremely genial young man who offers you a scratchie card, no strings attached. He's friendly, so you accept the scratchie card and, lo and behold, you've won some sort of prize, which could be anything from a T-shirt and cash to a holiday. What's the catch? The local insists you must accompany him to a hotel (which might be an hour's drive away) to collect your prize. If you haven't smelled a rat by now, you need your senses tested.
The penny drops, you start staring at the ground and shifting your feet uncomfortably, the seemingly-genuine local says that if you don't come with him, then he won't get paid for his job. However, if you do end up going with him, on arriving at the hotel you'll be shuffled into a room with a bunch of other tourists and forced into watching an hour-long presentation about timeshare apartments, which you are pressured into buying at a very special discounted price by slick Westerners. If you come out of it with your wallet intact, at worst you would have wasted an entire afternoon you could have spent lying on the beach.
5. 'This is closed'
In some countries everyone from touts to taxi drivers will try to tell you that your chosen hotel, restaurant or shop is closed … but there’s another, even better one you should visit, where they can pick up a commission. This is more annoying than harmful, but always insist on having a look for yourself.
6. Motorbike scam No. 1
Living out your dream of riding a scooter for a day around the countryside quickly turns into a nightmare when the bike you're riding breaks down or you have an accident. The owner of the motorbike is quick to escort you and your damaged bike (which doesn't look in that bad a state) to the repair joint of their choice, where the mechanic makes a grossly overinflated estimate of the damage costs. The owner of the motorbike insists you cover the costs, otherwise no customers will want to rent his bike. You shell out hundreds of dollars to cover the costs of the damage you possibly made, plus cosmetic improvements to the bike that you have now also covered for the owner.
More than likely, you've just lined their pockets with more cash than the locals would earn in a month. Take photographs of the bike before you start riding, preferably with the renter in them, so they can't blame you for imaginary damage costs to the vehicle. And don't rent from companies that are attached to hotels or guest houses.
7. Motorbike scam No. 2
The motorbike you have hired comes with a lock and two keys: you have one, and your rental company has the other. When you park the scooter and wander off, an enterprising person from the rental company arrives and "steals" your scooter, thus later requesting you pay a large sum of money to replace the "stolen" scooter. As you handed them your passport and you signed a contract, you're obligated to pay for it. Carry your own lock and key and an old passport to avoid getting sucked into this scam.
8. Bird poop
The surprising splat of bird poop landing on you from a great height is followed by the swift appearance of a stranger who towels you down. In the confusion, valuables are removed from your person, never to be seen again. Another variation on the same scam has someone "accidentally" spilling mustard or other condiments on you.
9. Bar/tea shop scam
Notoriously aimed at male travelers, young local girls approach a tourist and, after gaining trust with some idle chit-chat, you agree to accompany them to a local bar/tea shop. Thrilled at the opportunity to converse with a couple of local lasses, you offer to buy them a drink. On receipt of the bill, the girls are gone, and all you are left with is a massive shock when you glimpse the sum total, which can amount to hundreds of dollars.
10. Hotel scams
As you hop off the train or bus into a strange town and into a waiting taxi, you ask them to take you to a specific hotel. You're dropped off, hand over the money for several night's worth of accommodation, you're persuaded to sign up for a number of day tours then escorted to your hotel room. The hotel's unusually quiet and it doesn't seem like the advertised atmosphere. Alarm bells ring: you've been duped by the friendly local who talked to you on the bus, and the quick phone call he had to make was to the awaiting taxi, whose driver was very quick to escort you to the hotel of their choice.
Like a well-oiled machine, they worked together to ensure you handed over all your cash immediately, and fleeced you for a couple of tours while they were at it. Many hotels trade on the names of popular hotels and are rarely of the same standard, so make sure you check the name and address of the place before you're shuffled in to sign your life away.
This story, Buyer beware: 10 common travel scams, originally appeared on