I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the luxury ship Crystal Serenity. On the day of my tour, guests were embarking on a 74 day World Voyage. To some people, 74 days on a typical cruise ship would NOT be on their list of dream trips! But this is not a typical cruise. Onboard, you'll find an all-inclusive experience: no extra fees for yoga or pilates classes; free enrichment activities like language learning, musical instruments, wine tastings, crafting, and more; all wine, beer, and spirits; specialty dining; even all of the gratuities are included.
But where Crystal shines is their itineraries and ports of call. On this particular World Voyage around South America, guests will have the opportunity to:
In case you're too late to experience this year's journey, there are a few other future voyages that you might want to learn more about. On January 18, 2014, the Crystal Serenity will set sail for an 89-day Full World Cruise, beginning in Los Angeles and ending in London. Featuring 3 full days in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, and Cape Town, and the opportunity for a 3 night Cambodian adventure to Angkor Wat, you can see how this is more than just a cruise, but a truly immersive experience.
Looking ahead to 2015, there is a 108-day voyage planned that will circumnavigate the globe - truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sailing roundtrip from Miami, guests will experience:
Click here for the full itinerary and more details.
If you don't have the time or budget for a World Cruise, it's good to know that all of these longer voyages can also be booked in shorter segments of 12-24 days. And throughout the year, Crystal Cruises features several "shorter" weeklong cruises, allowing even the busiest of people to escape for a truly relaxing and luxurious vacation experience.
For more details on World Voyages, or Crystal Cruises, please contact Sunshine Travel today!
If you're an adrenaline junkie, don't be fooled by Homestead. Yes, it's primarily an agricultural community, and it's surrounded by miles of nature. You might think it's a quiet or boring place...but do not be deceived! Read on to discover the thrilling adventures that await when you venture south of Miami!
If you're in the Everglades, the first thing that usually comes to mind from a tourist's perspective is an airboat ride. Technically, airboats are not allowed to run on National Park property, but there are several outfitters along the park's boundary that are able to take you on a high-speed ride through rivers of grass and up close encounters with alligators. One Homestead outfitter that can give you this excellent experience is Everglades Alligator Farm. You can also get up close with snakes and alligators in their variety of wildlife shows.
If you want to get up close with nature, but you'd prefer to stay in air-conditioned comfort, why not try a tour from Everglades Hummer Adventures? These are custom tours are "the only luxury adventure in the Everglades", and can combine with private airboat rides with your own captain! They'll even pick you up from your luxury hotel in Miami!
On a different note, you can also get a high-speed adventure at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The track was actually built in the mid-1990s as a revitalization effort after Hurricane Andrew devastated the area in 1992. By 2009, it was the first venue to ever host all of North America's premier motorsports championships (IndyCar, Grand-Am, Firestone Indy Lights Series, NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series). Today, you can buy tickets for a variety of races, or you can take to the track yourself and test your driving skills with the Richard Petty Driving Experience or Mario Andretti Racing Experience.
If that's not enough heart-pounding options for you, then take to the skies! At Skydive Miami, you can opt for a one-time rush experience, or become a skydiving student! If you'd like to be up in the air, but with a little less adrenaline, then consider Miami Gliders, with glider and airplane rides that last from 15 to 60 minutes, with views of the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, the Florida Keys, and more!
Which would you try?
A few fun facts about Key West:
Did you know that the concrete buoy in Key West that marks the southernmost point in the Continental US is actually NOT the southernmost point? The true official point is on a private island off the coast. Nevertheless, it still makes a fun photo-stop!
Did you know that Key West is closer to Cuba than the nearest Wal-Mart?
photo courtesy Flagler Centennial Committee
Did you know that January 22nd, 2012 marks 100 years since Henry Flagler's railroad first reached Key West? Click to learn more about the railroad and the historic importance of linking the keys to the mainland.
Did you know: Ocean Key Resort and Little Palm Island are the only two Lower Keys hotels to appear on the 2012 Conde Nast Gold List, Travel + Leisure's Top 500 Hotels List, and AAA's 2012 Four Diamond Hotels list. Be sure to contact Sunshine Travel before making a reservation; even though these resorts are highly acclaimed, there are still other great luxury lodging options available in Key West that may be better suited to your travel style!
Norwegian Cruise Line has always done things a little bit differently than other cruise lines. They were the first cruise line to develop a private island in the Bahamas, the first cruise line to create a full-time kids program, and the first contemporary cruise line to implement the Freestyle Dining concept (meaning you can just show up to eat at any dining venue at any time, instead of the set early or late seating in one dining room). Over time, other cruise lines saw the success of these ideas and implemented them too.
Now, in another “first” for mega-ships, they have created a separate exclusive area on several of their ships called The Haven.
Just saying the word “haven” evokes a sense of getting away from it all. But if you’ve been on ship with 3000 other people (or more!), you know that getting away from crowds isn’t entirely possible. However, The Haven changes that notion and provides a luxurious refuge aboard a mega-ship for a privileged few.
It’s been described as a “ship within a ship” and “a private world of luxury at sea”. If you book a suite or villa in The Haven, you’ll be entitled to extra special amenities not available to the other cruisers. Upon boarding, you will receive a private escort to your suite. After that, you will have access to a dedicated concierge and a 24-hour butler to assist with any other requests, from preferred seating at entertainment venues to priority reservations in the specialty restaurants onboard. You’re even entitled to priority boarding of tenders to go ashore.
Just for guests of The Haven, there is a private courtyard and sun deck with its own pool, fitness area, and hot tub. With a limited number of guests having access to the courtyard, it is certainly easier to find a lounge chair without having to get up at the crack of dawn to reserve one at the main pool!
There are also restaurants reserved just for guests of The Haven, or you can choose to dine in-suite with white tablecloth service.
Some people might feel like this is going back to the “class system” of the old cruise ships. However, I feel that if you’re looking for luxury (and are willing to pay a premium for it), then it’s great to have this option on a large ship. The mega-ships offer so much more in terms of variety of entertainment and dining options than a smaller-scale luxury ship. Also, if you’re a luxury traveler with children, your kids will be able to enjoy all of the special programs onboard that appeal to a wide range of ages…whereas if you’re traveling on a luxury line, you’re much less likely to encounter any children’s programming or even rooms that accommodate families.
The Haven is available on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, and Norwegian Pearl. If you’re curious about the accommodations, here are some examples of suites available. Please note that accommodations vary by ship.
A 3-Bedroom Garden Villa is about 3355 square feet and accommodates up to 8 people – this is definitely one of the biggest and most luxurious suites at sea…enough to call it a “villa”! With three separate bedrooms with their own bathroom, there is also an entire private deck area with your own hot tub, luxury sun loungers, and even a hammock!
The Deluxe Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony has floor-to-ceiling windows all around, plus a separate bedroom, living room, dining area, and large private balcony. The bathroom even has its own whirlpool tub.
The 2-Bedroom Family Villa with Balcony accommodates up to 6 people with a living room, dining area, separate bedroom, and 2 bathrooms.
Designed for just two people is the Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony, it’s a perfect way for a couple to enjoy all of the benefits of The Haven. Like an aft-facing balcony? On the Epic, you can also opt for a Penthouse with Balcony, featuring all the benefits of The Haven, yet grants you that sought-after view.
Unique to the Epic is the Spa Suite with Balcony. These also accommodate a maximum of two people, but include complimentary access to the thermal suites in the Mandara Spa.
So if you’re looking for luxury treatment, but still want all of the amenities and offerings of a large mega-ship, then The Haven could be your perfect solution!