Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photography Tips for Fall Foliage

Every October the National Park Foundation announces the peak parks for viewing autumn's colorful transformation to winter. While the 2011 list is not out yet, you can bet that perennial favorites such as Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway, Maine's Acadia National Park and California's Yosemite National Park will be included.
If you are fortunate enough to view the fall foliage at one of these top spots, or if you are simply standing in your backyard, staring with awe at your favorite oak tree, you'll want to snap a few pictures. Here are some tips to get the best snaps of your leafy models:
  • Shoot on an overcast day, or when the sun sneaks behind a passing cloud, which will make the color of the leaves pop out. If shooting during an overcast day, minimize the amount of sky in your shots—focus only on the trees.
  • On clear days, aim to shoot in the morning or evening to take advantage of the “golden hours.” Plus, the air is cleaner in the mornings, so your shots will turn out less hazy.
  • Change the angle of your shot. Lie on your back and shoot up or aim down for a reflection in a clear rain puddle.
  • Don't forget about the evergreens. A well-placed evergreen tree in your shot will contrast wonderfully with the turning trees.
  • While the trees are breathtaking as a whole, also focus on individual leaves, preferably shot with a soft, out-of-focus background.
  • Backlighting the tree, with the sun directly behind it, can create a dramatic shot.
  • Bring a lens cloth. Your lens will be besieged with dust and moisture while shooting outside for a long period of time.
  • Your camera's "vivid" mode was created for this time of the year. Use it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Travel Etiquette 101: China & South Africa

When traversing the globe, we should never forget that we are guests in the countries we visit. Acting respectfully of the local customs is not just preferred but expected, so you should be prepared and know which actions are acceptable. With that in mind, here are general etiquette introductions to China and South Africa.
Bow Now? While bowing slightly from the shoulders is a popular way to respectfully greet someone, shaking the person's hand is also acceptable if that person initiates the hand-to-hand contact. Their handshake may be gentle, so respond in a gentle manner. Also, when meeting a group of people, you should address the most senior person first.
Last is First – Respect and formality are important in China, so address someone with their title and surname, which is their first name when they were introduced to you. For example, international basketball star Yao Ming would be addressed as Mr. Yao, since Yao is his surname.
Saving Face – Public displays of emotion are frowned upon in China, since self-control and self-respect—two concepts behind “mianzi,' or the public face one puts forth—are held in high regard. If someone appears shy or aloof when speaking with you, it is a sign of respect, not unfriendliness.
Hold Your Hand – Hands do not play a part in Chinese conversation, so do not gesticulate wildly when conversing. Yet hands do come into play when two same-sex friends are in public, for you'll often find them holding hands. Do not mistake this as a public display of affection, which is not tolerated. Additional hand-related no-nos: don't put your hand in your mouth, bite your nails or point with your index finger—all considered rude.
Table Manners – Forget what your mother told you, for burping, slurping and talking with your mouth full are all acceptable and, in some cases, signs of gratitude.
South Africa
Respect the Community – Since South Africa is a very multi-cultural nation, citizens form tight bonds within their families, tribes and communities, so never show disrespect to the greater group.
Dress for the Greens – While most occasions call for informal dress in South Africa, one place where jeans are not allowed is at the golf course. Another thing that is looked down upon during a round of golf is skipping the halfway house, which is a small restaurant golfers visit after the ninth hole for a drink and a snack. Even if you're not hungry, other golfers find it rude to skip this pivotal break.
Voice Volume – When speaking with a resident, raising your voice will make you appear overly aggressive and challenging, while lowering your voice to a whisper will make it seem that you are spreading gossip. Speak at a normal tone if you want keep the conversation civil, and keep your hands out of your pockets while speaking, since this is considered rude.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Repositioning Cruises: Long Days, Low Prices

Is a repositioning cruise right for you? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions, plus check out these sample cruise deals for Fall 2011 and Spring 2012.

By Heidi Sarna September 22, 2011

Repositioning cruises are deeply discounted one-off itineraries that pop up when ships travel between two regions of the world, ending one season (in Europe or Alaska, for example) to begin another (in the Caribbean).
Mostly offered in the fall and spring, the typical repositioning cruise includes a long, lazy stretch at sea crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. Perfect for people who don't need a lot of action, repositioning cruises are especially popular with retirees and travelers who have the time for longer voyages.
Repositioning Cruises: Frequently Asked Questions
How many days will be at sea?
Transatlantic and Pacific crossings can have as many as six sea days in a row, while Panama Canal voyages will rarely have more than two consecutive days at sea.
Will it be too cold to swim aboard the ship?
All cruise ships have a gym, a spa, and pools -- though depending on when you cruise, it may be too chilly to swim outdoors. For example, crossing the Atlantic in November would not be conducive to an outdoor swim, though it might be fine in early October. There's always the hot tub, and some ships have indoor or covered pools that can be enjoyed in any temperature.
Will I get bored?
To enjoy a repositioning cruise, there's no question you have to be the kind of person who enjoys relaxing and enjoying the serenity of being surrounded by nothing but water for days on end. If you are truly claustrophobic, then a repositioning cruise may not be for you; unless, of course, the fares are just too hard to resist.
"For people who equate price to value above anything else, transatlantic voyages are the top of the heap by a good margin. We see prices that are below $50 per person per day with a few below $40 per person a day," says Kevin Weisner, vice president of . He says that because more ships were in Europe over the summer than in previous years, more ships are repositioning to the Caribbean, too.
What type of ship should I pick?
The biggest ships not only have more passengers to interact with, but the megaships also offer more entertainment venues and a wide variety of activities such as game-show-style contests, passenger talent shows, and bingo.
On the other hand, the mostly smaller ships of luxury lines (Crystal, Cunard, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea) also do their part to keep passengers entertained by hosting three or four or more onboard lecturers to give talks on history, politics, and other topics. These lines also focus on activities like wine tasting and computer, photography, and other classes.
What other fees should I keep in mind before booking a repositioning cruise?
"Keep in mind, that though repositioning cruises are less expensive than normal round-trip voyages, they tend to necessitate more expensive air itineraries since they require two distinct one-way tickets for your average customer," says Anthony Hamawy, president of
This is especially true if you have to fly to or from Europe or Asia for a repositioning cruise. For a Panama Canal repositioning itinerary, on the other hand, airfare can be more reasonable since the embarkation and debarkation ports are typically closer to home in North America, though some of savings that is offset by other extra costs.
"In the past year or two, Panama Canal port taxes have increased substantially (more than $245 per person), driving cruise prices higher," says Tiffany Neidhardt, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Cruises-N-More.
Repositioning Cruises: Sample Cruise Deals
Check out these sample deals and prices from,, Cruise Connexions,, and other cruise companies.
a 13-night cruise from Barcelona to New Orleans with three ports of call in Spain and Portugal aboard the giant 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas, complete with an outdoor rock-climbing wall and indoor ice-skating rink (departs Oct 30, 2011; inside cabins from $609 per person)
a 16-night crossing from Barcelona to Galveston, Texas, aboard the new 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic with visits to two ports in Spain, plus the Canary Islands and Turks & Caicos (departs Oct. 28, 2011; inside cabins from $749 per person) Note: It may be a bit chilly to enjoy the ship's outdoor water park
a 15-night cruise from Civitavecchia/Rome to Ft. Lauderdale aboard Holland America's 1,404-passenger Rotterdam with visits to five ports in Spain, Morocco, and Portugal; plus complimentary culinary demos and first-run movies (departs Nov. 6, 2011; inside cabins from $749 per person, suites from $1,199 per person)
a 7-night transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England, to New York on Cunard's 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 (departs Nov. 10, 2011; inside cabins from $695 per person, outside cabins from $895 per person). The ship offers lots of diversions including a planetarium and a huge library.
a 23-night spring-time crossing from Miami to Venice aboard the 2,018-passenger Norwegian Spirit (departs April 17, 2012; inside cabins from $1,999 per person). Ports include Ponta Delgada, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Toulon, France; Livorno, Civitavecchia and Naples, Italy; Mykonos and Piraeus, Greece; and Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey; plus an overnight in Venice.
a 19-night South Pacific cruise from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia, aboard the newly refurbished 1,950-passenger Celebrity Millennium (departs Nov. 2, 2012; inside cabins from $2,299 per person) Ports include Hilo, Hawaii; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Suva, Fiji; Tauranga, New Zealand; Auckland, New Zealand; and Bay Of Islands, New Zealand. Perks include being able to view a solar eclipse while at sea and overnighting in Sydney.
a 12-night Middle East and Asia cruise from Dubai to Singapore on the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice (departs Nov. 11, 2012; inside cabins from $1,399 per person) Ports include Muscat, Oman; Cochin, India; and Port Kelang, Malaysia, with overnights in both Dubai and Cochin.
a 17-night crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo on the 296-passenger all-suite Silver Cloud (departs March 31, 2012; suites from $5,698 per person) The voyage includes 10 days at sea, plus visits to Bermuda; Madieria Islands, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar; Porto Mahon, Spain; and Marseille, France. Prices include all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and tips. The sailing features gentleman hosts to dance and mingle with single ladies. Guest lecturers include an English professor and Shakespeare scholar, a drama professor, and a retired U.S. Army colonel and author who served under several presidents.
a 13-night sailing from Lisbon to Miami aboard the 1,070-passenger elegant Crystal Serenity (departs Dec. 8, 2011; deluxe staterooms from $4,235 per person). Stops include Casablanca, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and St. Maarten. If you book by Oct 31, 2011, the deal includes a $500 per person "As You Wish" spending credit, free airfare from selected gateways, and prepaid gratuities.

Read more:

Interested? Give us a shout and we can get you the best booking.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Mexico destination you may have missed..

Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, where time passes slowly and your dream vacation becomes a reality. Located just eight miles across the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women) from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is only 5 miles long and half a mile wide at its widest point. The downtown area (Centro) of Isla is just four by six blocks. The average temperature is 80 degrees with 60% humidity and the hottest months are June thru September.  Isla's terrain is flat with beaches on all sides.

Historically, Isla Mujeres is a fishing village and though it is now thoroughly discovered by tourists it still retains it's charm and tranquil atmosphere. As you stroll the streets in the evening you will see families gathered together in Caribbean styled homes, tucked between stores and restaurants, mending their fishing nets and relaxing.

From the Cancun International Airport you can take a shared airport “colectivo” van (around $18 usd per person) or private taxi (around $60 usd) to Puerto Juárez which is 15 minutes north of downtown Cancun. There are two express ferry services that will bring you to Isla. Gran Puerto Cancun (The Ultramar) and the Magana Ferries at Puerto Juárez. Both cost 80 pesos one way (about $6.50 usd). The Express boats leave every half hour and the crossing takes 15 - 20 minutes.


There are plenty of hotels to suit any budget, and restaurants are plenty. It is perfect for those of us who truly want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun and enjoy some down time. My husband and I went on our 10 year anniversary, left the kids with grandparents and had the best week ever. It was truly a relaxing, romantic island, and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Passport Day in USA
Planning travel outside the United States? First, get your U.S. passport. We’ll be open on a Saturday to get you started!

On Saturday, September 17 only, apply for your U.S. passport at a Regional Passport Agency without an appointment. You will be able to apply for standard processing (4-6 weeks) or pay an additional $60 for Expedited processing (2-3 weeks, door-to-door). Passport Day in the USA also means passport-themed events for adults and children at Regional Passport Agencies and many passport Acceptance Facilities across the country in communities like yours. If you’ve been waiting to get your passport, this is the time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

60-Second Geography
Cancun and the Riviera Maya
Cancun and the Riviera Maya have become a second home for North American travelers looking for great beaches, lots of sun and exciting nightlife. Mayan ruins sit next door to world-class accommodations and tourism facilities, with water sports and natural attractions close at hand. Only a couple of hours from many United States cities, Cancun is one of the most accessible international destinations available.

  • The Yucatán coast has been a staple of travelers from the United States for forty years or more. The rapid development in and around Cancun became a model for the best and the worst in the ways in which tourism could enrich a population. This area was largely isolated from the rest of Mexico until the Mexican government selected the region for development.
  • The Yucatán’s Caribbean coast is more than 236 miles and stretches from Cancún in the north all the way to Chetumal, on the border with the nation of Belize.
  • The northern half of the Yucatán’s coast is known as the “Maya Riviera “; to the south, the “Costa Maya.” Between the two is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
  • South of Cancun development along the Riviera Maya is on a smaller scale, with a greater understanding for the principles of sustainable tourism and a respect for native cultures.
  • The second longest reef system in the world runs much of the length of the coast. Playa del Carmen, Xpu-Ha, Tulum and the other magnificent beaches occur where there are gaps in the reef and the tidal action of the ocean’s waves pounds the reef into fine sand.
  • The reef provides great snorkeling and diving and the beaches are some of the world’s finest.
  • Ancient Mayan ruins dot the coast and are easily accessible from the resort communities along the coast.
  • Inland, vast caves are present and under ground rivers run where travelers can explore with experienced guides.
  • The choice of accommodations is large and varied from cabins to all inclusive resorts or boutique hotels.
  • The ancient Mayan cities of Uxmal and Chichen Itza remain some of the best examples of the mysterious cultures, the vestages of which exist to this day in the native populations.
© Copyright 2011 Travmarket. LLC.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Highlight Cozumel - our Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Destination!

60-Second Geography Cozumel
Twelve miles off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is the small island of Cozumel. It is just 30 miles long and about 10 miles wide; yet, it is home to some of nature’s most coveted treasures. Known as the Island of the Swallows to the Mayans, the island is today a major draw for visitors to the region. Crystal waters and soft sand beaches are protected by one of the world’s largest (and renowned for diving) coral reefs. In the middle you will find undisturbed jungle, dry arid flatlands and swampy lagoons. San Miguel is the main town and home to the majority of the residents of the island as well as the daily home of dozens of cruise ships and their passengers who call on the island.
  • Water is a key theme for any visit to Cancun and neighboring Cozumel. From scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, kite-surfing and deep-sea fishing, you will find it all. Cozumel is home to a number of indigenous species of birds, mammals and marine life. If diving and the beach are not your thing, you can explore the Mayan ruins, trek through the jungle paths and even take a dip in the cenotes—the island’s underground rivers and pools. And surprisingly enough, you can even ride a camel on the beach in Cozumel!
  • Climbing Adventure Park. If the kids – or big kids – in your family are looking for something new to try in Cozumel, then the Climbing Adventure Park may be just the challenge for you. Operated by Alaska Mountain Guides from Haines, Alaska, the park boasts climbing walls, a zipline, abseiling towers and a great beach club with snorkeling for relaxing afterwards.
  • Punta Sur Park. Stunning white sand beach with reef for drift snorkeling and crystal clear water at Punta Sur Park ecological reserve.
  • Chankanaab Park. Famous natural park with lagoon, white sand beach, archaeological gardens, bar and restaurant.
  • San Gervasio Mayan Ruins. San Gervasio is the most important Mayan archeological site on Cozumel Island. The religious center was built as sanctuary to the Goddess Ixchel. It was popular for many Mayans to visit once in their lifetime on a type of pilgrimage.
  • El Mirador Lookout. Take in the rugged natural beauty of Cozumel’s east coast at El Mirador lookout. The sea has carved an arch in the rock which you can climb on top of for great views.
  • Kiteboarding. Whether you’re new to the sport, or an unhooked pro, Cozumel Island in the Mexican Caribbean offers endless possibilities for kiteboarding. Olympic windsurfer Raul De Lille introduced kitesurfing to Cozumel and became the island’s first certified instructor.



© Copyright 2011 Travmarket. LLC.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doggone Fun!’s 2011 Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities to Visit In the U.S.’s Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities in the United States for 2011 give you a wide variety of pet-friendly places to visit.
Portland Oregon tops’s 2011 list of the pet-friendliest vacation cities in the United States. Home to the famous and dog-friendly Rose Gardens and the Lucky Lab you and your dog would have a great time in Portland. These top cities are chosen for their pet-friendly accommodations, transportation, beaches, park, attractions, stores, dining and more. Here are the remainder of this year’s Top 10:
2. Chicago – Visit the Navy Pier, dine in elegance, cruise on a pet-friendly tour boat or walk the parks of the city.
3. San Diego – The country’s best dog beaches and trails and world class pet-friendly shopping centers.
4. Seattle – Take public transportation with your leashed dog. Many pet-friendly venues in a dog-friendly city.
5. Philadelphia – Get a famous cheese steak. See historic early American sites and stay in a downtown luxurious hotel.
6. Minneapolis – Great hiking trails and parks, pet-friendly dining. A pet-friendly atmosphere throughout.
7. Austin – Dog-Friendly parks. Outdoor cafes. Take tours and see the sites. See the Zilker Gardens and the Congress Street bats.
8. Alexandria/ Washington D.C. – See the capital’s sites, walk in charming Old Town, take a dog cruise on the Potomac.
9. New York – Luxury hotels welcome dogs, Central park beckons, off-leash parks everywhere. Shop the famous stores with your dog.
10. Indianapolis – Many historical sites, Nature preserves, trails and parks. Many of the cities tourist sites can be viewed with a dog.