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Miami’s LGBT scene will be sizzling come spring. First up on the docket, the Miami Beach Pride, held on April 15 this year, will be bringing buzz back to the Deco District. Last year’s event saw 40,000 people march down Ocean Drive, making it the largest single-day event in South Beach’s history, and with the addition of the post-Pride party cruise, one of the most unique.
Setting sail Monday, April 16, through Friday, April 20, onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky, the Miami Beach Pride Cruise offers a chance to extend the party with a 4-night voyage to the Bahamas with stops in Grand Bahamas, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay, the cruise line’s private island. A portion of the proceeds will be donated back to Miami Beach Gay Pride’s charitable causes. Read more
?If you adore the turquoise surf, tangerine sunsets, and dreamy steel drum tempo of the Caribbean, but you get bored after a single day in a beach chaise, sampling four or five different islands on a cruise might be the right romantic getaway for you. Just remember that cruise ships are pretty much floating resorts, each with their own ambience (from intimate to expansive) and clientele (from couple-centric to multi-generational). Here are four great ship options (all of which I have cruised on over the past two years) offering very different cruise experiences for couples. Each is sailing a Caribbean itinerary through early spring and last-minute fares are still available. Or, if you prefer to stay on dry land, check out last week’s blog on “Five Easy Caribbean Island Combos.” Read more
Some cruise ships are designed with couples in mind – and Celebrity’s newest addition, the Celebrity Silhouette, is one of the great ones. The fourth installment in Celebrity’s two-year-old Solstice class of ships, Silhouette combines size (at 122,000 tons and 2,886 passengers, there’s room to roam) with the style-savvy design and extra amenities of a sleek boutique hotel (that’s the popular Martini Bar, shown at left). While some ships’ decor is garish and others’ mundane, Silhouette’s is chic, sophisticated, and, at times, even cozy. Sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, on 12-night alternating itineraries to the Southern and Eastern Caribbean through early April, Silhouette then heads to Europe for the summer of 2012 for 12- and 13-night cruises through the Mediterranean and Adriatic. I recently had a chance to sail aboard Silhouette for a few nights, and am happy to report back on some of my favorite aspects for couples seeking a decidedly grown-up cruise vacation: Read more
A long-time cruise specialist, my aunt Sheila was the first person in the travel industry whom I recall using the term “floating city” to refer to both a ship’s physical size as well as the remarkable depth of things to see and do aboard an ocean liner.
In a way, that term helps shape an important travel-planning question for your family vacation: If you want to take your kids on a cruise, you’ll naturally look hard at the cruise line’s overall reputation. But you’ll also want to factor in which “city” – aka, which ship within any given cruise line – has both a good reputation and the specific attractions and activities that suit your family best.
After all that Oktoberfest frivolity, I suddenly have a hankering for more costumed fiestas, and not just because Halloween is on the horizon. Thankfully Atlantis Events has released its 2012 roster of cruises with two very different Caribbean itineraries, which translates into plenty of options to get your gay pirate on. Swimsuits and circuit parties, anyone?
Book now to take advantage of lower rates and snag a spot, because if history repeats itself these will sell out. Hedging your bets for a later sale is a losing proposition. Read more
Alas, my stint as the Romantic Getaways blogger has come to an end: After 90-plus blogs, I am giving up this weekly freelance assignment to take a full-time job. But I want the romance to live on, so I thought I’d list a handful of my Ultimate Romantic Getaways must-dos – each with two suggestions, one a splurge and the other a steal. I hope you’ll find the time to get away soon and enjoy some of the places I’ve loved writing about.
Enjoy a Private Jacuzzi Rendezvous
Splurge: If you want to feel like you are the only two people in Venice, stay at the Bauer Il Palazzo, and book the private rooftop Jacuzzi (shown above at left) for one hour just before sunset. You’ll get champagne, strawberries, and 60 amazing minutes to soak in the sexiness of La Serenissima – and each other. Rates start at $853/night (private Jacuzzi bookable at an extra charge).
Steal: Every suite at Excellence Playa Mujeres, an adults-only all-inclusive located on a white-sand beach just outside Cancun, Mexico, has a private Jacuzzi with both indoor and outdoor access. Plus, the décor is contemporary chic, with polished marble floors and a dramatic four-poster bed. The beach and the meandering freeform pool may beckon, but the top spot to relax à deux is just steps from your bed. Rates start at $375/night, all-inclusive.
Fresh from a $25 million facelift that gave its staterooms a glamorous dash of retro-meets-modern panache, eight-year-old Crystal Serenity embarked on a series of cruises through the Baltic Sea. Onboard for the most recent 11-day “Jewels of the Baltic” segment, I sampled the award-winning hospitality, service, and cuisine for which Crystal (www.crystalcruises.com) is renowned – all while visiting a half dozen fascinating and historically romantic cities, from Stockholm to St. Petersburg to Copenhagen (shown above at left).
Crystal’s cruise product is luxurious from aft to stern (and, accordingly, Serenity fares start at about $675 per person per day), but the line’s attention to quality is evident in everything from the chic new stateroom decor to the delicious and ambitious menus in the seven dining outlets. At 68,870 gross tons and 1,070 passengers, Crystal Serenity (shown at right) is larger than most of its luxury competitors (many of whose ships accommodate 300 to 700 passengers) and it strikes a nice balance between a small and large-ship experience. The crew’s top-notch service gives Serenity a feeling of intimacy while its size gives it recreation options (two pools, two Jacuzzis, paddle tennis courts, and a walking and jogging track that encircles the Promenade Deck) that smaller ships lack.
Western Germany’s resilient Rhine River region has thrived for more than 2,000 years in defiance of the violent war scenes that reduced entire cities to rubble on the banks of this major waterway. Proliferating through viniculture, the tourism industry, and commercial business activity of cities like Frankfurt and Mainz, this breathtaking corner of the world has only grown more picturesque – if that’s even possible. After diving into a hotbed of German culture, art, and history during my recent river cruise aboard the Avalon Panorama, I’ve rounded up three must-see attractions along the Rhine:
Cathedral in Cologne
For lovers of spires, towers, and all things Gothic, Cologne serves up a particularly satisfying mix of modernity and history. The birthplace of eau de Cologne and Kölsch beer, this city also features a whopping 12 Romanesque churches. Most famous is the city center’s 475- foot-tall Cologne Cathedral. A breathtaking structure visible from just about anywhere in Cologne, the double-peaked skyscraper dominates the landscape. Visitors are invited to climb 533 steps to the South Tower (approximately 53 flights) to savor the view (and burn off any Kölsch beer-induced calories).
What could possibly improve the Disney cruise experience for a family with kids in tow? How about bringing the brood along for free on select Disney Cruise Lines’ sailings?! Kids 17 and under do indeed sail for free when traveling on promotional Mexican Riviera sailings in the accompaniment of two full-fare guests. The company does not limit the number of children, but does say that there are few suites available for more than 4 guests.
Itineraries incorporate day-long stops in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas; additional stops are included in Mazatlán and Manzanillo with some 7- and 8-night trips. This offer applies to verandah cabins (starting rates on adult fares from $1,559 per person) on select embarkations between October 30 and December 18, 2011; be sure to indicate booking code “KFO” at time of booking.
Visit our Mexican Cruise Deals page for more offers to the region.
Everyone loves to travel during the summer – including families with cranky babies, manic preschoolers, and brooding teens. And when it’s just the two of you on a relaxing and romantic getaway, the last thing you want is to choose two chaises on the beach or near the pool and have the moment ruined when a family straight out of National Lampoon’s Vacation plops down right next to you.
So, here are some tips for how to out-maneuver those omnipresent family groups – and with multi-generational travel all the rage, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all too often along for the ride, too – and truly enjoy some adult time (such as the daybeds at the adult-only pool area at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii’s Big Island, shown at left).
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