Category Archives: vacation

Top 5 Reasons Cruising is Great for Families!

TOP 5 Reasons Cruising is Great for Families!

  1. Kids are split into age appropriate groups so making new friends is easy and fun is supervised!
  2. Teens have their own Dance Clubs onboard where parents can’t “Hang around”!
  3. On deck sports activities such as Golf, Rock Climbing, Zip Lining & Water slides keep kids entertained!
  4. Raining?  No Problem!  How about Movies, Arcades, painting, Ice Cream Sundae Parties and MORE!!
  5. Late evening entertainment for the kids & that means MOM & DAD can stay out and have fun where kids can’t “Hang around”!!
Okay, here is the scoop.  I have raised 5  kids  who are now all in their 20’s and I can honestly tell you that Cruising was the perfect vacation for us.
Disney World?  Pretty awesome…but you really need a vacation when you come back from there!!  It certainly isn’t relaxing!
Beach Resort?  I love to relax on the beach and get a massage at a beautiful island resort….but not when the kids get bored and start saying “Mom, can you come in the water?”  “Dad, can you walk me back to the room”?  I
OH!  And did I mention how expensive it is to feed everyone every day?!!!!  Totally unpredictable when each family member has different desires for lunch  or dinner.  Maybe that should be # 6  – Kids can eat WHAT they want WHEN they want it.  (and it’s all included!)
A Cruise solves all of these issues …
 Kids are entertained so Mom & Dad can enjoy some alone time to relax or “whatever”!
Days at sea are just what us parents need to decompress and relax.
Everyone can eat what they want, when they want.  No hassles, no expensive dining bills…and that means no stress!
After our first 3 cruises, it was our families vacation of choice.  Cruising made everyone happy!
Our favorite Cruise Lines for Family vacation?
  • Royal Caribbean (The kids favorite!)
  • Celebrity Cruise Lines
  • Princess Cruises
  • NCL
Now that the ids are grown up, we still love those Cruise vacations…in fact I look forward to our Super Bowl Cruise on the Celebrity Millennium in 2012 with the whole family!
It is still the #1 vacation for our family because a vacation is really about relaxing, having fun and creating your own mix.

Join us on our Super Bowl Cruise in February 2012!  www.MoreThanJustaCruise.com 

A great holiday Gift for your family…togetherness on a cruise!

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Port of Call of the Week – St Martin

A video says a thousand words!!  Need I write more?

Some people say “I have already done that itinerary.  I want to see other islands.”

I say that the great thing about going to the same port many times is knowing exactly “What” you want to do when you get there.  It really is much more enjoyable when you don’t feel pressured to see everything and you can spend all day doing your favorite thing on the island.  In St Martin, our favorite thing to do is spend the day at Orient Beach…more specifically “Coco’s Beach”.   Of course you can go on an excursion to Orient Beach, but then you will be like a herd of cows (not a literal picture!) and not feel special.  Take my advice…take a cab to Coco’s and feel the difference!

Sure…you could go to Kontiki’s, Waikiki (totally expensive!) or Bikini Beach, but you won’t feel the intimate friendly service.  As with any restaurant or resort, service is always key…and at Cocos the employees really care.  You can feel it.  And I attribute that to the owner Sophie.  She is hands on and a part of the experience.  You can always count on the food being fabulous, the service being top notch and the “after lunch specialty rum” being …oh how can I say “rumilicious!” (is that a word?!)

Look for the Periwinkle umbrellas and THAT is Coco’s.  I recommend the lobster salad, the Rigaletto Pizza or the grilled chicken (devito style!).  Ask for Phillipe, Roman and Sophie and tell them Janet & Frank sent you…and don’t forget to say “Bonjour!”

Take a cruise to St Marten, stay at one of our fav hotels (Alamanda or Esmeralda) or renta villa (Casa Lana, Coccinelle or Dolce Vita – depending on your budget)….but just GO!  I have been going there for over 25 years and love it!

For more tips on St marten and booking that special vacationClick Here!

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Travel Disasters…Look at the Bright Side!

Half the fun of planning a dream vacation is “looking forward to it” & “looking back on it”.  What happens on the actual vacation…that’s the other half. Sometimes the best planning can’t avoid the unexpected pitfalls…..

True story – My husband, Frank, and I planned our Dream vacation for our 10th Anniversary.  As big fans of St Marten (Orient Bay) we meticulously planned our  3 week Anniversary trip like we were producing the perfect Feature film…

Location – Villa Coccinelle , Orient Bay .  A luxury 4 bedroom Villa with a breathtaking infinity pool overlooking Orient Bay.

IS this heaven or what!!

Cast – Our family of 7 + 14 (Names have been changed to protect “hurt feelings!)

Timeline

  • Frank and I would arrive 5 days ahead to “set up ”  Villa Coccinelle & play house! (HEY, it was our Anniversary!)
  • Our 5 children, sisters family  & Grandma would arrive for Christmas  (family time)
  • Extended family & friends arrive for New Years

It was a dream.  Everything was even better then we thought it could be.  Christmas Eve at Cherri’s, Christmas day on the beach.  Every night, Frank and I would go to bed thinking “This is so awesome!  We did such a great job planning this!”  and then…..

The day after Christmas, while on a family morning jog (sounds nerdy, but true!) Frank rolled his ankle.  A moment in time that he wishes he could take back…but as his ankle ballooned to elephant proportions, he realized he was screwed! And he was in PAIN!  We could have ended it right there and returned home…but with so many family and friends depending on us, Frank decided to make the best of it.    Alot of ice, a pair of crutches & an endless supply of Grey Goose and Frank could make it through!  (Let’s toast to that!)

Just when we all got used to the “altered state” of our vacation, a one in a million event occurred (NO, we did not hit the St Marten Lotto!)…..

His sisters family, returning to their resort one evening, encountered a crazy patch of mosquitos.  Unfortunately as they entered the buzzing fog they realized the windows were down.  6 humans versus a million mosquitos.  Who wins?  The 1 little bug that bit “Ann”.  And a few days later, it was confirmed…she had Dengue Fever.  Yes, she contracted a third world country disease.  (R U KIDDING ME!!)

Again, we made the best of it.  How could we not?  We were in beautiful Villa Coccinelle, lunching at our favorite “Cocos” on the beach (with Sophie) everyday, dinner at our favorite La Cigale” with Olivier and “Marios Bistro, we had great weather and were with our closest friends and family.  Life was good.  But what we didn’t count on was the occasional “clash of the idiosyncrasies” amongst our guests…

Can’t we go to a different restaurant tonight?” “I went to the store yesterday, why should I go today?” “How did your 4 Pina Coladas end up on my bill?” “THEY LEFT FOR THE BEACH WITHOUT ME!!” “It’s your turn to buy the next bottle of Grey Goose!” “Who gets Grandmas Bedroom when she leaves?”  “Who left the mess on the counter?” “Can’t Frank go to the doctor on his own? He is infringing on our beach time!”  And when “Sam” said to “Carol” – “Why do you take so freaking long to do your hair when it looks the same as it did an hour ago!!” … I sensed the tension (okay, so that is an understatement!)

We asked ourselves, was it worth it?  And the answer is a resounding YES!  In fact, those moments of disaster seem to bring about the best memories. WeDoug always knows how to make us laugh! crack up when we think about  night the boys almost ran out of gas, when Doug served Champagne like a Chippendale dancer on NY Eve, when we imagine “Carol’s” face after we left her (tired of waiting), when our 6 foot tall sons jumped on the bed petrified of an island spider, watching Frank struggle in the waves after thinking he could body surf with one foot!  And yes, we even laugh hysterically when we picture “Ann” with bruises all over like she had been poked by a thousand people!

If you ask my kids, they will tell you it was the best vacation they ever took.  If you ask my friends, they would go again in a heartbeat.  Even “Ann” & her hubby got an extended vacation (Doctors wouldn’t let her fly) when Grandma flew home with her kids! And us…of course Frank would have preferred to have had both feet working, but in our heads, we are always planning another dream trip to Villa Coccinelle.

So have fun “looking forward” to your dream vacation.  Laugh your head off sharing memories afterwards.  And in the middle…make the best out of it, and remember, those unexpected moments can end up being the best memories!

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For more info on Villa Coccinelle CLICK HERE.

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Does the TSA really want to “Touch His Junk”?!

 

Fly Safe...

POP QUIZ…

Question :

Where was John Tyner when he said “If you touch my junk, I will have you arrested”!

A. – At the Collingswood Flea Market

B. – At the Jones’ yard sale in my neighborhood.

C. – At the Airports’ TSA security line.

If you guessed “C” then you guessed right (and that means you aren’t living under a rock!).

OMG!  This is all I have heard about today!  Like this is something new?  Just last month my husband got the “Pat Down”  at the Airport & I have seen hundreds of other people experience this…yet today, this is the hottest news to talk about?!  I thought this was old news!

So here is what happened:

This John Tyner was at the Airport, going through TSA security checkpoints and he refused to go through the new body scanner that they are using.  As protocol has it, if you refuse to go through the scanner, your option is to get a “pat down” (as seen on cop shows since the Dragnet days!).  Well, this John Tyner wasn’t happy about that! So as the TSA agent was giving an explanation of how he would be “Patting him down” he said “If you touch my junk I will have you arrested”.  The TSA Agent informed him that he needed to call a supervisor since he made that statement (OF COURSE!  that statements says “I am going to sue you and have your job”, so he had to protect himself!).

Long story short…John Tyner never went on his trip. TSA is pretty straight forward – If you don’t go through security, you don’t get on the plane!  I personally like that rule.  But apparently there are many people who disagree with me.  Here is my case…

I fly often and have been very inconvenienced at the TSA security.  I too have bitched & moaned about the time delay (it’s just human nature to complain). And through it all…I am so happy that they are there doing their jobs.  I gladly take my shoes, belt, sweater &  bracelets off.  I gladly pull out my laptop, ziploc filled with liquid items & electronics.  I gladly step aside to be searched more thoroughly when it is requested of me.  I actually get excited, because to me it means that they are doing their jobs!

They are not there to get their “Jollys”.  TSA is there to protect the people, the planes & America from another tragedy.  I say “Thank You” and I gladly oblige.  The day I stop believing this, is the day I stop flying.

John Tyners’ first problem is that he didnt want to go through the Body Scanner.  Me?  I kinda agree with that.  Not because I am worried about someone seeing an image of my body…but because I am not convinced that the radiation is safe.  (Although, I think people wearing burkas or other large garments that could hide so much should HAVE TO be scanned.  That is just common sense!  Cut the “I don’t want to profile and hurt anyones feelings” crap, because this is about safety, and safety supersedes political correctness!)

So I would agree to be patted down.  I have nothing to hide.  I sacrifice a little inconvenience for the safety of all.  I am getting on a plane with many other people, and that is a privilege, not a right.  And everyone else on that plane deserves to have the comfort that I am not hiding anything.  I personally don’t want to get on a plane & worry about someone having circumvented TSA!

John Tyner needs to get over himself and start thinking about the collective good for Airline travel and that is preventing terrorists from attacking us again!  Does he really think that TSA agent wanted to touch his junk?!

I remember when everyone was freaking out that their pocketbooks and carry-ons were being scanned.  I remember when everyone was freaking out about having to take off their shoes!  I remember when people were freaking out about not bringing liquid or sharp instruments through security…and now this is the new thing.  TSA security keeps evolving & changing due to threats and concerns that we (the general public are not even aware of.  As Americans, we need to kinda “go with the flow” as it is a learning process for all of us, and totally for our own good!

Sure, could the process be improved?  Yes.  Is it flawless? No. Are there always a few bad eggs in ANY job place, that abuse authority and should be fired? YES. But I believe that the TSA is doing the best they can to keep America & Americans safe.

So if the TSA agent accidentally touched this guys junk, I say “Who freaking cares!”

It is simple to me…If you want to fly, you have to follow the rules…or don’t get on my plane!

Just my opinion…..What’s yours?

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The Langosta Lounge, Asbury Park

Ever wonder what the phrase “Very Bohemian” means? I think you can find the definition at Asbury Parks Langosta Lounge. The “very comfortable, relaxed style” is evident in everything from the decor to the staff, the menu and the clientele. Every inch is consistently inconsistent! “Very Bohemian!” We mosied in feeling like we just “fit”. We never expected to fall in love with this eccentric treasure…but we did!

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, there is nothing better than putting down the convertible top and cruising to the beach. Yesterday we ended up in Asbury Park seeking something a little different. And we certainly did find it in the Langosta Lounge. Their business card says “Vacation Cuisine & Libations” – inspired by the places we travel and the people we meet. That fascinated me. I love travel and I love food. Was this the place near home that could “take me away?”

We sat at the bar and decided to order a few menu items. Just like the atmosphere, the selection on the menu was intriguing. We compromised and settled on 3 items. Calamari 3 ways (Brazilian Vatapa, Dialdo Sauce and Thai), Tuna & Shrimp Ceviche and the Langosta Enchilada. 3 Fabulous choices! The Ceviche, with its mango, onion and limy goodness literally was a celebration of flavor! The Tuna truly melted in my mouth. I would have been satisfied with just that, but was too curious about what was next. The Langosta Enchilada is something that I normally would not order, but was very glad that I expanded my horizon. It was excellent. Of course, I could never recreate that dish at home…so I will have to go back! The Calamari was crunchy and the sauces were each very deliciously different. But I was actually too stuffed to truly enjoy it. I will have to start with that next time!

We were not as adventurous with our Cocktail choice. We had a very nice bottle of Savignon Blanc but while probably should have tired the Sangria. It looked so refreshing! Filled with fruit. Watching the Steve, the bartender, make his exotic concoctions was fun! From Bloody Marys from scratch to Blue Margaritas, he was really fun to watch. A “mix Master”!

Did I mention the entertainment? Again, the phrase “very Bohemian” comes to mind. The “Stringbean and the Stalkers” were great! If I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to decide if I was in either New Orleans or the Tropics. They were so eclectic. Very soulful, very cool, very jazzy. The scruffy surfer dude with his harmonica and voice was so fun to listen to. An amazing asset to the Langosta Lounge. Again…very consistent!

Next time the suns comes out on a beautiful afternoon, you can find us at the Langosta Lounge!


The staff tshirts say:

“Tranquillo”
Hay percados
mas grandes para frier

which means:
Stay Cool
There’s bigger fish to fry

I think that will be my new motto!

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My Favorite 3 Places


People always ask me “Where is your favorite place to vacation?” That is such a hard question to answer. Too many places!! It is like asking “What is your favorite song?”. Almost impossible to answer that!! But I am going to try. I think I can manage to narrow it to my top 3.


#1 THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
If I am thinking of a relaxing location that makes me appreciate every second…I can only think of the British Virgin Islands! OF course, St John (USVI) is amazing, and it is hard to not mention Caneel Bay, but sampling the variety of the BVIs manages to eek out as the winner! Ever been to Jost Van Dyke? Well, there is nothing there except a stunningly beautiful white sand beach (White Bay) with crystal aqua water that has to be the most amazing beach! Truly what my heaven should be. Not only is the place beautiful, it is also filled with the character of the Islands.
After swimming ashore (there is no dock) your first stop must be the Soggy Dollar Bar (Get it?) and of course you must start the day out with the infamous Pain Killer (Rum cocktail). The casual “yachty” atmosphere will make you feel as though you just swam off your own yacht – even though you didn’t! Feel free to play board games, try your skill at the ring swing game, all while chatting it up with all the other “pretend” and real Yacht owners. It really is a special experience. Take a nap in one of the many hammocks around the beach, under the trees. And as you glance over to the pristine water, with the islands on the horizon, I challenge you to NOT get up and dive in! It is impossible! You will feel compelled…the water is calling you!
THAT IS A DAY AT THE BEACH!

NOT to mention..Peter Island, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and the Bitter End Yacht Club!
I will talk about # 2 and # 3 later……

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Caribbean Nations Take Swine Flu Precautions


Although there have been no reported cases of swine flu in the Caribbean, individual destinations have stepped up measures to help ensure that infected visitors do not enter the country.

In Jamaica, the island’s ports of entry are on alert to screen travelers arriving from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada where cases of swine flu have been confirmed, according to Health Minister Rudyard Spencer.

In the Bahamas, the Ministry of Health and related agencies activated their preparedness plans to limit the spread of the influenza strain if any cases are identified, according to Health Minister Hubert Minnis.

The ministry is stocking antiviral medications and will implement quarantines if necessary, Minnis said.

Surveillance measures in the Bahamas’ ports of entry are monitoring the health of arriving individuals. Immigration and customs officers can contact 24-hour, on-call health officials if there are concerns about a traveler.

Belize, which shares a northern border with Mexico, issued a travel advisory discouraging travel to Mexico, according to Health Minister Pablo Marin. Local authorities have stepped up surveillance across Belize to detect cases of swine flu but none has been found.

St. Kitts and Nevis increased surveillance at official points of entry and mobilized its Rapid Response Team and stockpiles of medical supplies, according to Chief Medical Officer Patrick Martin.

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Miami South Beach

Miami South Beach


Okay, so this time it was a “business” trip, but as usual, it somehow turns out to be “pleasure”! We attempted to find the perfect Luxury Hotel to stay at while meeting someone for Business, and decided on the Ritz Carlton. We wanted to try something different from the others we have stayed at (Hotel Victor, Tides, Delano, Loews) and the Ritz had its’ Ups & Downs.


First Impression –

Lobby – Very warmly modern, with a splash of Art Deco.

Staff – Very pleasant, welcoming and accommodating.

Location – Excellent! Walk 2 blocks west and you are on Lincoln Road. Walking distance to all the action on the Ocean Ave Strip.

Rooms – Well…we were not happy (at first!) But let me tell the story………..


Our initial room (# 831) was a bomb. Not the interior. Ritz is very consistent with the interior design and comfort of the rooms. Decor (with the nautical flair) was simply Ritz. Nautical blues, whites, beiges. Expected and satisfactory. Just enough luxury without being over the top. The Ritz luxury items that are expected and make us smile…including the very plush towels and Bulgari toilettries. If we had come in the middle of the night, we probably wouldn’t have noticed the lack of Balcony and the horrible view!


Truth be told, Room # 831 was very confining…and maybe the worst view in all of South Beach! I have had better views in Detroit! Frank was not a happy camper!


We phoned the Guest services and were informed that there were “Lanai Rooms” available. Only $50 extra. Didn’t take to long to discuss that! Talk about $50 well spent! The room was exactly the same in the traditional Ritz decor, yet spaciousness, mood and view were amazingly different. NOW we had arrived in South Beach!


Welcome to room #382. Walking into the room we were immediately drawn to the wall of windows and the Balcony beyond. Wonderfully sized balcony with ample space for 2 lounge chairs and table, that overlooked the very “South Beach” pool area. Standing on the balcony, pulsing to the beat of the “Beautiful People” music eminating from the gardens, the hotel wrapped around the pool area. Very cozy. Also intriguing. The rooms surrounding the pool area were encased in Black Glass that appeared like dark reflective sunglasses. Interesting. Made me wonder what was going on behind those lenses. People “staring back”? “Making Love”?

“Dancing naked”? What was going on with the drapes open

that I COULDN’T see?! Mystery. Intrigue.


The landscaping was well manicured. Perfect. White on White with the black glass and the signature Ritz Blue enhanced the pool . Cool and serene. The crisp blue surface of the pool rippling in the breeze. Yes, I am in South Beach.


And then…the disruption. Imagine sitting on the lawn, in front of an ampitheatre on a starlit night, listening to Andrea Boccelli. Romantic, mood perfect, beautiful music. And then static starts blaring through the speaker system. An annoying static, like AM radio in a car! That is what it was like at the pool, at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach! look, I love kids. Raised 5 ! I know what it is like to take kids on vacation. I also know that kids will be kids. And it is tough to take them to a small boutique-ish hotel. The Loews would have been a great idea! When kids and floats consume the pools surface and turn it into a camp pool, that adults can’t wander into safely…it becomes a problem.


When the sunbeds that couples pay $250 to use for the day are next to 14 un-ruley kids fighting on the next bed…it becomes a problem. The Ritz Carlton should have rules about that. It was a spectacle all day, and the sunbeds on either side were vacated.


Parents need to take responsibility and if they don’t, the hotel staff needs to nicely correct the situation. There were families that had control of their children. Kudos to them!


Every day, from early morning till late, kids took over the hot tub. COME ON! Yes, they do have a right to go in. But what thinking adult would go in after 17 kids have been in and out all day! WE KNOW what warm water does to little kids!!! Maybe the Ritz Carlton should post a sign that the hot tub is for “Adults only”.


We should have done more research. Next time we go to South Beach for relaxation during a spring break…we would choose a more adult hotel. Guess that was ultimately our fault!


Notables that were definitely “Ritz Carlton”:


Staff – Wonderful, attentive and polite. From general service to water and juice being served Butler Style around the pool. Service was great.


$250 Charge for Sunbeds – Very fair. Large, plush towel covered beds that include 2 large bottles of H2O, 2 bottles of Champagne and a very attractive Fruit Plate. Nice way to spend the day in the sun.


Clientele – Very “Connecticut Style” wealth. A bit stuffy. An older crowd then hotels like the Delano or Hotel Victor. It is almost as though everyone staying at the hotel could be family! It is almost like a private club.


Lunch at the restaurant was a treat. If you are under the watchful, caring eye of Julian (the supervisor) and have the good fortune of Liz waiting on you…life (and lunch) is good! Service is the most important aspect to a great dining experience. The Ritz Carlton should be proud of thier staff. They did a great job.


As I return to my luxuriously padded lounge chair, I can’t help but notice the “Ritz Calrton Secret Service” patrolling the grounds. Suddenly opening umbrellas for fear of a sun shower…or is there someone famous in the midst? or is it ME?! I think it is me! That is how the Ritz makes you feel!


Lounging in the sun, in this atmosphere, it is hard to not have a glass of sparkling water and a glass of chilled wine at my side. Just another elegant touch. Once again, I feel blessed to be here. After all, it is the first day of spring (and it snowed in NYC this morning)!


Extra mentionables:


Hotel Mondrain – We went to dinner at the Mondrains’ Asia de Cuba. Very impressive…if you like Alice in Wonderland! I felt like we were in a fairytale. Everything was oversized. Strangely elegant and very white!!! Asia de Cuba was very over priced and the service was horrible. Would not return.


Settai – Heaven. Simply gorgeous. The pool area was comprised of 3 long sleek pools, surrounded by luxury sunbeds, Some of the sunbeds were encased in tall hedges. Absolutely stunning. Will definitely return! (con – Vodka and Orange juice $20!!!)


Miami South Beach…We will return!!!



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