When it comes to taking a cruise on the river or ocean, it’s pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities, and the opportunity to explore interesting ports. Living in New York City, we have two ports that will conveniently take you on a number of ocean cruising experiences. However ocean cruises are worldwide so it is an opportunity to explore the world from a large boat.
The majority of river cruises are located in Europe although you will find specialty river cruising in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Each one comes with its own unique perks, and depending on your specific needs for your next trip, you might find that one is a slightly better fit than the other. So what are the major differences?
One big difference can be summed up in one word: intimacy. River cruises tend to be much smaller (190 max vs. up to 6,200 on the largest ocean cruises), and as a result, you’re much more likely to be interacting with other passengers and crew members.
That smaller scale translates to all areas of the river cruise. You dine on a regular schedule at tables with other passengers (wine is included in the price of the cruise). Instead of 50 different things to do on board, amenities tend to be more modest with river cruises — think libraries, a workout room, cultural programs, and free Wifi vs. ten kids’ playrooms, glitzy Broadway shows, and a skydiving simulator. There tend to be fewer kids on river cruises, making them popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together.
You stop almost every day at a new port with river cruises, often for walking tours through quaint towns with little tourist traffic, and you’re always in view of land.
With ocean cruises, you can go days without seeing land, and ports of call and excursions tend to be more exotic and high-adventure.
Because of their larger size, ocean cruises offer plenty of options for many ages, from young kids to octogenarians, and they are often more able to accommodate a wide variety of special health needs. For this reason, they tend to make the best option for multi-generational family gatherings that include young children. For the traveler who is into high-octane adventure, ocean cruises provide a wide variety of activities on board, as well as exotic and more daring day excursions.
River cruises do tend to be more expensive per person — but that price also includes more things. Ocean cruises have a lower sticker price per person, but you are often charged extra for alcohol and other amenities.
When you’re getting ready to plan your next on-the-water trip, here are a few questions to consider:
1) How many people are traveling? What are their ages?
2) What time of the year do you want to travel?
3) Do you need the amenities of a mega ship — spas, gyms, a dozen restaurants, and many activities? Or are you looking for something calmer, more intimate and easy-paced?
4) Are you seeking authentic inter-cultural experiences? Or do you prefer more familiar settings?
As always, we are here and would love to discuss your next cruise. We can look at all the moving parts of your upcoming trip — what you need, what you want, what your dream is — and together we can come up with a cruise you and your loved ones will remember fondly for the rest of your life. Contact us today.
Spring break means different things to different people. For some its a time to get away for school and let loose. For travelers with children its a great time to escape the sometimes terrible weather and have some fun with the kiddies. For travelers without children usually we don't get spring breaks anymore but after bad winter weather taking the opportunity for an escape is usually needed.
For a new or returning college student, spring break is typically the first travel opportunity without parental chaperones. This is your time to kick back and have fun with your friends and meet new friends in a relaxed environment. There are hotel resorts that cater specifically to groups of college students traveling for spring break while other hotel resorts are not as friendly towards college spring breakers.
Here is my top pick for college spring breakers (17-22 year old travel groups):
Grand Oasis Cancun: This is the ultimate spring break hotel located in a prime location on the hotel zone. Frequently featured on shows such as MTV Spring Break, staying at this resort will put you right in the middle of the action. While not super luxurious, the hotel will provide travelers with a comfortable place to rest their heads for a few hours in between parties. Only a short walk or taxi/bus ride to other parties in the Hotel Zone, this hotel is perfect for being at the center of the party action.
With the kids out of school for the week, a great way to entertain them is to take them away. When traveling with family members of different ages you have to balance the needs of each family member and also ensure that everyone is sufficiently entertained. Also as a family you probably want to stay away from the wildness of the certain spring break destinations such as Cancun which attracts a large amount of partying college spring breakers.
My top pick for a family-centric spring break getaway is......
Royal Caribbean Cruise: With dozens of destinations available ranging from 3 night to 12 night itineraries, you will find a ship that fits all your needs. For the adults there are nightly shows, casinos, and spas to keep you entertained while the kids will have access to various activities from video arcades, rock climbing, and the ever popular Flow Rider. For the ultimate experience, check out the itineraries on the Oasis and Quantum class ships for a floating city experience. Perfect Day at Coco Cay will be an experience best enjoyed by all members of the family and is truly a highlight of all itineraries stopping at RCCL's private oasis in the Bahamas.
Adults without kids:
If you are one of the lucky adults that have a spring break you will also be looking for a destination to getaway. Depending on your day job you may not want to be surrounded by kids while on vacation but at the same time you may not want to be around partying college students. Maybe you are looking for a relaxing getaway with some sun, sand, food, and adventure. I recommend staying away from the typical college spring break getaways such as Cancun, Dominican Republic, or Jamaica.
My top pick for an adults only getaway is.......
Hotel Riu Palace Antillas: Located on the picturesque shores of Palm Beach in Aruba. This adults only all inclusive is just want you need to get away from it all. Riu properties have a strict spring break policy so you are very unlikely to run into spring break groups and as an adults only property you will not run into any children unless you venture over to the family friendly sister property Riu Palace Aruba. Located very conveniently from the major airports on the Eastern seaboard you will find all you need while in Aruba. Explore the island on ATVs, snorkel in the bathwater warm beaches, or stretch out on your slice of beach and relax. At night explore the world famous food scene of Aruba or stay on property and experience the cuisine on property.
Your spring break plans can be put together with you having to break a sweat. All you need to do is contact the top travel agency in New York - Million Miles Travel Agency.
With Labor Day approaching and back-to-school shopping complete, the realization that summer is over may be heavily weighing on you. Although autumn is a beautiful time of year marked by crisp temperatures and nature’s beauty, we sometimes cannot help feeling down by the end of summer. Those feelings can be easily erased by booking a vacation for fall.
Autumn is an ideal time to travel, as it is marked by comfortable temperatures, less crowded tourist attractions and more moderate travel costs. Throughout the world, different countries have the most to offer at the most fair price when the calendar turns to September. Our New York travel agents have compiled a list of some of the best travel destinations for fall 2019 to help you decide on your upcoming travel plans.
Bavaria, Germany. Germany, home to the Oktoberfest, is an incredibly popular fall travel destination. In Bavaria, located in southern Germany, a visitor can enjoy Oktoberfest, numerous wine festivals and romantic outings, including hiking in the Alps, horse drawn carriage rides and over two dozen historic castles. In addition, the backdrop of snow dusted, forest lined mountains is an autumn scene from a movie.
Beijing, China. Beijing is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China year round, as it is home to the Great Wall of China. Outside of its vast historical intrigue, this monument is the perfect location for autumn sightseeing. Although the hike may be grueling, the view from the top is breathtaking in fall with the orange, red, green and blue sights of forests and mountains in the distance.
Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is an ideal international travel destination for autumn. With temperatures lingering around 70 degrees, exploring Budapest’s vast history and destinations will be as comfortable as it is exciting. For natives, autumn is marked by annual food and drink festivals and football (soccer) season. It is also the perfect time to explore Budapest’s winding streets and the nearby, renowned wine region. Budapest is also known for its lively music scene, where you can be sure to see both local talent and the world’s most popular musicians.
Nara, Japan. Nara is home to a vast deer population; according to legend, a god arrived in Nara on a white deer. Spotted deer, regarded as a heavenly animal, have roamed the town since. Against the backdrop of colorful fall foliage, watching the deer frolic is especially enjoyable; you can even feed them with food purchased from street vendors. Nara is also home to popular tourist spots including Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, museums and gardens.
Patagonia. September in Patagonia marks the beginning of their spring and hiking season. In October, you will see flowers blooming and birds chirping, a happy change to New York’s impending winter, with average temperatures around sixty degrees. These comfortably cool temperatures yield the perfect weather for Patagonia’s countless outdoor adventures, from hiking to sailing.
Piedmont, Italy. Other than its historic landmarks, Italy is most often travelled to for its food and wine, which reaches its peak season in October. Autumn is fall harvest time for Italy’s vast vineyards and is also the time of year in which food festivals celebrating favorites such as chocolate and truffles take place. In Piedmont, a traveler can enjoy unlimited delicious meals and bottles of renowned wine while taking in the autumn sights of the Alps along hundreds of trails.
Puigcerda, Spain. A small village full of unique shops and restaurants, Puigcerda is the capital of the Cerdana region of Spain. One can take in the sights and smells of autumn by walking through the quaint village and the surrounding hiking trails. Puigcerda Lake and Schierbeck Park are two of the best places to capture fall.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. September is the perfect month to visit Rio de Janeiro; autumn temperatures range from mid-70s to mid-80s, so if prolonging summer is on the wish list, this could be the perfect travel destination. The crowds are smaller this time of year, providing ample space to relax on Rio’s pristine beaches. Because Carnival is not during the fall months, travel costs are a fraction of the price.
Every year, summer must come to an end. But that does not mean that the fun associated with summer must end as well. By booking a fall vacation - whether to a warm destination where summer can be prolonged or a destination that fully embraces all that autumn has to offer - you can continue to have fun and explore new worldwide destinations.
Million Miles Travel Agency’s premier travel agents in New York are just a call away, eager to get you on board a plane to your new destination; contact us today to book your fall 2019 vacation.
Even the most seasoned travelers sometimes feel confused about travel insurance — what’s out there, what it covers, whether or not they need it. Even as a veteran travel agent and a licensed travel insurance broker in New York State, I am frequently speaking with my travel insurance suppliers to make sure my clients receive as much coverage as possible.
While coverage and policies vary from state to state, of course, to get started let's break down the types of travel insurance coverages available.
There are five main types of travel insurance. What you might need depends largely on what kind of trip you’re taking, what kind of traveler you are, and how frequently you travel. The five main types are:
1) Trip cancellation and interruption (full or partial reimbursement for a trip you need to cancel prior to departure, a trip that gets cancelled because a tour company or resort goes out of business, or a trip that gets cut short for a wide variety of reasons)
2) Medical (for health issues that occur outside of your normal coverage area)
3) Evacuation (due to disaster, dangerous weather, political emergency, or medical emergency)
4) Baggage (reimbursement for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage)
5) Flight insurance (also called “crash coverage,” this is basically a life insurance policy that covers you while you’re on the plane, in the event of a statistically-rare crash)
Travel expert Rick Steves explains the way they generally work is like this:
“The various types are generally sold in some combination — rather than buying only baggage, medical, or cancellation insurance, you’ll usually purchase a package that includes most or all of them. If you want just one type of coverage in particular — such as medical — ask for that (though it might come with a little cancellation or baggage insurance, too). ‘Comprehensive insurance’ covers all of the above, plus expenses incurred if your trip is delayed, if you miss your flight, or if your tour company changes your itinerary.”
HERE ARE SOME TIPS WHEN PURCHASING TRAVEL INSURANCE
Your Health Insurance Will Probably Not Cover You On Your Vacation
Just because you have health insurance at home does not mean that it will cover you on your trip. You need to check the ins and outs of your particular health insurance policy. It may cover you while you travel, but many do not. In fact, some insurance policies don’t even cover health emergencies experienced on foreign-flagged vessels — which is what most cruise ships are. Check with your provider, ask your travel agent for suggestions, and of course direct any insurance-related questions to the provider. As Steves puts it, “Before purchasing a policy, ask your insurer to explain exactly what’s covered before and after you get to the hospital.”
The Best Practice Is To Purchase A Third Party insurance
Avoid purchasing travel insurance from the company that’s also hosting your trip. The reason for this? If that company goes out of business, chances are, so does their insurance. There are major travel insurance companies that will provide all the insurance your need.
What Is The Best Travel Insurance Coverage?
Some companies offer comprehensive coverage that can serve as your primary coverage while you’re traveling. What does this mean, and how can it benefit you? It means that the insurance company will pay first, regardless of what other insurance you have. They don’t even inquire about additional insurance, saving you tons of paperwork and out-of-pocket expenses. TravelGuard and Travelex are two such companies that provide these policies as an option.
Do You Really Need Travel Insurance?
Weigh the cost of the trip with the cost of insurance. If you just bought a $79 ticket for a quick weekend in Chicago — is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. If, however, you’re headed out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that you’ve been saving for for months.
Confused about travel insurance? At Million Miles Travel Agency has a New York State licensed travel insurance broker that can guide you through the process of purchasing the travel insurance product that works best for you and your travel needs.
Contact us today.
A word! I am very excited to have a featured post by Shanta Covington of Shanta Covington Photography and Video who is an amazing photographer and videographer servicing the New York City area. When looking for partners in the romance business, Shanta was the logical choice because our missions are the same which is to provide and capture amazing memories.
So if you are looking for a wedding or engagement photographer in the New York City area give Shanta a call. When you book a photography session with Shanta you will receive $100 off your 5 day or more honeymoon or romantic getaway.
Now without further ado!
Hello Million Miles travel agency followers! I’m Shanta Covington of Shanta Covington Photography and Video.
In addition to booking great travel plans for your honeymoon, one of the services that newly engaged or soon-to-be married couples must have is great photography. Here are my top three reasons why.
1) Leave it to the Pros
While Aunt June or Uncle Joe May have brought the latest and greatest camera, will they have enough time to tear themselves away from the dance floor when their favorite song comes on? Or will they have the knowledge of what different settings are necessary to shoot indoors versus outdoors?
Listen, I get that as you’re thinking of all things wedding, photography is one of many things on your to do list. But I want to implore you that it should be at the top because “getting it right” shouldn’t come at the expense of someone who doesn’t have your special day at the front of their mind. Get yourself a professional photographer who will be focused on you the entire day or session.
2) Realize your vision
We live in a very visual world. A professional photographer can help you get that shot in the middle of a busy NYC street where time stands still and you and your partner are the focus. Or the shot in your favorite park or outdoor landscape where it looks like it’s only the two of you highlighted by an area that is meaningful.
Planning, conceptualizing and capturing your vision is what a professional photographer can do for you.
3) Create Memories
This is perhaps my favorite reason because it really is the crux of why I do what I do. Capturing your story, your love and creating memories for you that you can look back on when you’re in your 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is what this is all about.
A photo really does convey a thousand things. But the one undeniable things that gets captured is your love for one another that is crystallized in an image forever.
Learn more about Shanta and her services.
Vacations are about having fun! Even life with all its responsibilities should have some fun. Even though I am not able to get on a flight ever week, I still love exploring Brooklyn: from the statues and fountains to the food trucks at Smorgasburg. I encourage you to find something new in your neighborhood in the upcoming week.
Now let's talk about your vacation. Do you feel that you have gotten yourself stuck in a vacationing rut?
Maybe you try out different places, but they all kind of seem the same. Maybe you find the planning exhausting. Maybe you stress out over small things so that your energy gets sapped. Maybe you cram too many things into too little time, and you come back more tired than when you left. Maybe you bring work with you, even when you say you’re not going to, so that you wind up giving away precious vacationing hours to your job.
I’m going to be bold and say: This is not what a vacation should feel like.
Here are 5 secrets to becoming a Zen master of vacationing.
Trust me — you’ll never regret taking these on.
1. Move a little bit every day you’re on holiday, especially if your job is the kind that has you sitting at a desk all day long. This isn’t about working out; it’s just about doing what your body and brain want you to do, which is move around a little. Lounging is great — there should definitely be time for lounging — but only lounging for days on end has an ironic de-energizing effect on the body. (It’s part of why desk work can be insanely exhausting, even though you technically didn’t do anything physical all day long.) Whatever your level of mobility or fitness, pick something to do every day that gives you a burst of activity: walking, swimming in the ocean, a bike ride, playing with your kids, morning yoga or stretching. If you have some physical limitations, plan ahead and find walker- or wheelchair-friendly spaces to explore, even if it’s just for 20 minutes each day. Your body and your brain will thank you. Activity actually helps boost your body’s ability to fully relax and soak up the restorative purpose of vacationing.
2. Get present to real, peaceful, natural beauty. You might not be the camping type. Or the sporty type. Or the outdoorsy type. That’s 100% okay! You don’t have to hike the Grand Canyon to sit in total awe of it. Even the biggest, loudest city has peaceful places to just be in the presence of natural beauty. If the weather’s nice and you have the option, sit outside for your meal or pack a picnic. Just soak in your surroundings and the view; pay attention to light, sounds, sensations, and smells.
Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser and business author, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review about a CEO friend of his who swore by intentional time in nature to up his business game: “Before retiring from the CEO role, John would try to take these breaks just before his global partners’ meetings because he found that his ideas, initiatives, and even speeches would become much more focused, rich, clear and powerful as a result—even though he didn’t spend any time actively working on them!” We can’t underestimate the power that being in nature has for bringing out the best in our thinking and seeing.
3. Cultivate your appetite for “different.” This one can be challenging — but it pays huge dividends when it comes to creating vacations that are full, satisfying, and memorable. This is less about booking some extreme trip and more about being willing to approach every trip as a learning experience, to being open to the possibility that every vacation can actually make you a better person. Seek out conversations with interesting strangers. Learn some phrases in a new language and practice them and see what happens. Try new foods. Take in a performance that features local music or dance. Take the risk of not knowing and being willing to ask. As Fernández-Aráoz observes, “The world’s most productive people are deeply curious and collaborative and constantly seek out new acquaintances and allies — even when they’re on vacation.”
4. Put your money into experiences, not things. Again, this one can be challenging. We’re taught in our culture that having more stuff will make us happier, even though research has proven this over and over again to not be true. Vacations in and of themselves are experiences — so that’s one step in the best direction — and getting a few small things to remember your trip is certainly not a bad thing. But keep an eye out for ways to maximize your experience of each moment within your holiday. When the moment comes to decide if you want to blow a ton of cash at the duty free shop or a souvenir shop — ask yourself what kinds of experiences you could buy that will be with you forever and that will continue to bring you happiness long after they’re over.
5. Treat your vacation like a vocation. Notice there’s only one letter that separates the time you spend relaxing, re-energizing, and reconnecting and the thing you were born to do. The word “vacation” comes from the Latin vacare, which means “freedom from obligation and duty, release, to be free and at leisure.” The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare, which means “to call” — as in, your personal calling, your purpose, the things that bring you deep joy and bring out the best in you and everyone around you. Think of the joyful energy you would put into your calling — the intention, the planning, the attention to detail, the gratitude. Consider the other word we frequently use for vacation — “holiday” — and note that it means “holy day.” It’s okay to approach your upcoming trip as something that can hold a bit of magic, because it just might. As Fernández-Aráoz writes, your vacation can be the thing that actually brings you back better than you were before — better for yourself, your family and friends, your work, your life.
If you’re looking for ways to maximize your traveling experiences, but you’re not quite sure how to get there, I’d love to help! If planning stresses you out, I can be your best ally. I love this work and can help connect you with the places and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Let’s talk today — you can reach me by clicking here to schedule a consultation.
Lover of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Always looking for the best places to eat wherever I go.