I know it’s been a looong while since I’ve posted things up on my site and I apologize. I used other social media outlets like my Facebook and Twitter very frequently, so if you’re ever looking for updates, please visit those sites. I also wanted to make you aware that I have definitely hopped onto the Pinterest bandwagon–I LOVE it!! So many new and creative ideas on there, but all in moderation. Please visit my Pinterest page and check out all my pins–I’ve got a few travel boards up and pins on each one. I’ve got travel tips, travel essentials, and places on my bucket list posted up there =)
Not much news to report other than that. I’ve been busy getting together my best friend’s wedding cruise which leaves in less than a month! So excited and I planned the whole thing from start to finish. It’s helped re-ignite my passion for travel and I hope I can assist you with your travel needs in the future. There’s a bunch of great cruise specials going on right, especially for the military, so definitely take advantage while you can.
Talk to you soon!
So today I had the great pleasure of visiting Ponce in Puerto Rico. I’m here visiting the island to spend time with my family and decided to do a little business along the way; what good travel agent wouldn’t. I visited 2 very distinct properties: Hilton Ponce Golf and Casino Resort and Hotel Melia Ponce.
If you are looking for a very chill and relaxed resort away from all the hustle and bustle, you can’t beat the Hilton Ponce. It is open air, just like Caribe Hilton in San Juan, but in the picturesque countryside instead of the hustle and bustle of a big city. Situated on a cozy beach, this property is a little gem in the south of Puerto Rico. All rooms are ocean view. Now let me clarify this because the rooms are also ocean front. You will get a really nice view of the ocean from the room, however the resort is not situated right at the beach. Instead of looking directly at the ocean from your room, you are more likely to see some palms trees as well as some of the resort’s activity areas. You’ll probably also see an iguana or two as they are in abundance all around property. Ground floor rooms have a small patio, while the upper floors have a nice balcony. Standard rooms offer a great amount of space! I was happily surprised when I entered the rooms as to how much room to breath guests would have in their home away from home. Rooms are also equipped with flat screen TVs that offer digital channels, wireless internet, hair dryer, mini fridge, etc. The wireless internet is included in the daily resort fee. The fee also covers your use of towels for the beach and pool, as well as the activities the resort offers, and use of the business center. There is a little course of mini golf, playground, and many board games. The pool does have a whirlpool and pool bar close by. Also in the vicinity, is the small fitness center and spa.
Additional features include the beach, casino, meeting space, and clubhouse. The beach is cozy and lovely–not your typical Caribbean beach as the sand and ocean are little darker, but still spectacular. You can see some islands off the coast. The property is actually split in two by the Portugues River and the beach on the other side of the river is much prettier, as the sediment from the mountains doesn’t land there after travelling down the river. The clubhouse is home to the golf course onsite, as well as great eateries, and another beautiful pool area. A shuttle will take you between the main lobby and this clubhouse. There is also a vast casino for those looking to pay off their hotel charges quickly. There are lots of slot games and some card tables. Across the way is a small lounge/nightclub that can be used for private functions as well. Speaking of space, there is an abundance of convention/special event space, as well as an expo center, and board room. All in all, a very wonderful experience to be had here. I would recommend this property for people travelling on business/conventions and those leisure travelers who just want to get away and relax.
The second property I toured was the Hotel Melia Ponce, which is right in the heart of Ponce. From here you will see the wondrous views of downtown as well as the majestic mountains and the Parque de Bomberos. This historic icon is more than 100 years old and for those history and culture buffs, a true treasure. Rooms are small and quaint–this is not the hotel for the luxury traveler. This hotel is wonderful for the budget traveler, or those who are more concerned with getting to know the city instead of lingering at the hotel. Beautiful Spanish tile is laid on all floors and stairs, but their is a small elevator available. There is a charming pool on the ground floor. The property does offer a complimentary breakfast served at the top (fourth) floor, which offers incredible views of the city. There are also small meeting rooms available, which have hosted groups from religious groups to dog show participants. Because there is no restaurant available on the property, the hotel collaborates with a nearby caterer and is willing to assist in hosting dinners and meal functions where necessary. The property is very close to a variety of restaurants and cafes, as well as the cathedral and city hall, which is very proud of their history and Ponce de Leon. Lions are everywhere!
All in all I had a very peaceful day in Ponce and would definitely come back soon. Adventure seekers, don’t fret–there are great options here for you as well including snorkeling, kayaking, and zip lining. For those interested in nature, you will also find bioluminescent bays. If you’ve stayed at any of these resorts, or played in the nearby Ponce area, please comment your experience–would love to hear what you thought!
I’ve added pictures to my Facebook page, so please check those out to get a better sense of my review
I had never been on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship before this so I was very excited to see what was in store. It is important to note that this is a smaller ship and was originally created for the Asian market so you will notice that things are a bit smaller/shorter. It doesn’t matter to me cuz I’m a shorty, but I wanted to give you the heads up in case you were wondering. As we walked onboard, the atrium was just beautiful and unlike any other ship I had been on before. You could definitely tell the Asian influences as soon as you walked onboard. Another pretty impressive aspect of the ship is that as you are walking to the theater, you literally walk right in by the stage. I thought this was pretty neat. Because this is freestyle cruising too, you must note that there is only one performance of the nightly show.
We went to explore some of the staterooms, and I do have to forewarn that they are on the smaller side with limited storage. My favorite aspect of them was the bathroom! There is no shower curtain, and if you’re an avid cruiser like I am, this is such a blessing! There instead is a shower door, just like at home. On the obstructed balcony we saw, the bathroom was also split, on room for the toilet and one room for the shower–I am a HUGE fan of split bathrooms so this a great benefit to me, as well as anyone sharing a room who wants to be able to use one side when the other person is using the other side. The Shanghai suite was pretty sweet—loved the bathroom! If you can’t already tell, bathrooms are pretty important to me
Next we went to visit some common areas. Sad to say, but I was not impressed one bit by the kids’ areas. That being said, the last kids’ area I visited was on the Disney Dream and nothing can really compare to that. I feel that on the Spirit, the area needs a little refurbishing as carpets are stained. There doesn’t seem to be a lot for kids to do in the area as well, plus it is smaller, like many things on the ship. I would not recommend this ship for families.
We visited Raffles Terrace which is pretty much the buffet area we all know and love. The view and the terrace itself were absolutely amazing! Great space for groups to meet up together and dine for breakfast and/or lunch, or even to conduct small meetings at sea. The children’s pool is adorable. The buffet looked delicious and had a huge hunk of meat waiting for the incoming passengers. There was even a chocolate fountain–with that alone I’m sold! The main pool area reminded me of a Roman bath. It was a beautiful and intimate setting. The lounge and other public areas were very well themed. You can even view the Captain’s Bridge from one of them! We didn’t get to see a lot of the spa, but they have a lot of great options for you. I couldn’t wait to see the fitness center, and they do have great equipment and some classes available for use to stay in shape while on vacation. They have an AquaSwim facility so that you can swim against the current. Oh and for you gamblers, yes, there is a casino.
There are a lot of dining options, being NCL is the king of Freestyle Cruising. They have monitors around the ship to let you know which restaurants are available at the time you are looking to dine. We dined in the Main Dining Room, Windows, and my jaw dropped when we walked into the room. The huge window and view and just the whole atmosphere it brought was incredible! Pictures don’t do it justice. We had some specialties from a few of the options onboard and my hands-down favorite were the BBQ spare ribs. Everything else I found was just OK, and I had heard that before of this ship.
When we finished with lunch, I had to go visit the conference center. The space is great for small meetings or taking an elite group of incentive winners. You could even do a small group of crafters, like quilters or scrapbookers. I loved that the restrooms were really close by as well
Right before we left our inspection, we had seen a sign for a Vodka tasting (at a nominal fee). I’ve never seen this on any other vessel either. Usually it’s just a wine tasting, so I thought this was pretty cool as well.
So now, who would I recommend this ship for:
- Meetings and Groups
- Girlfriend Getaways
- First-time cruisers
The ship has a great itinerary going to Belize, Honduras, and Mexico. If you have any questions regarding specific activities they do or want more details on how to get on this ship, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 407-929-3142 or email@example.com.
Hello Followers! So sorry I haven’t posted, but New Orleans has tired me out! Conference went well and I’ve learned a lot! Please check out my Facebook page so you can check out some of my fun pictures from the trip. Wednesday was filled with workshops during the day and at night, we went on a dinner river cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. We had tons of fun! Our dinner was alright and our server Debbie was great. I loved her accent as well; I guess I have a thing for the N’awlins accent As soon as dinner finished, we went to the top deck of the boat, as we were pulling out of the port. We made our way down the Mississippi River and got some great views of New Orleans from the outside. We passed massive ships and barges, as well as a part of the Ninth Ward, the hardest hit area from Hurricane Katrina. As we sailed back to the port, we got to see how beautiful the city looked in lights. It was magnificent. We had great weather and a great jazz band to listen to on our way back. Check out the video I took here.
On Thursday, we had another long day of workshops and sessions. At night, we attended a fabulous Masquerade Ball! Everyone was dressed fashionably for the occasion and the masks were colorful and elaborate. We first stopped at the Blaine Kern Studio and saw some of the amazing Mardi Gras floats. I personally loved the first one I saw which was shaped like the Trojan Horse. I also saw one of my favorite heroes, Batman! Once we got through the warehouse we had a delicious buffet prepared and competitions for the King, Queen, and Jester of the ball commenced. Such a great night to remember with awesome new friends!
Today, it was the end of our conference and I am more than invigorated and motivated to take my business to the next level and start helping make all your travel dreams come true! Whatever trip you’re thinking of taking, please let me be of assistance and save you the time and stress of planning all the details. As I said goodbye to a few friends, the rest of us went to unload all of our conference goodies and catch up on emails. We later went down to the Seafood Festival in Lafayette Square and that was a lot of fun too. Got to taste some spicy shrimp which an amazing afternoon snack.
I don’t think there isn’t anything I haven’t done on this trip that is typical of New Orleans, besides a horse and buggy ride. I got to taste some New Orleans favorites: jambalaya, po-boy, beignets, bread pudding, mint julep, etc. I saw the Katrina recovery area, rode a streetcar, visited a plantation, partied on Bourbon St., learned about the burial rituals, and posed with Mardi Gras props. I saw some old friends, made new friends, and learned some great tools to assist you in the future. I can positively say that this was a beyond amazing trip and I don’t want to go home just yet. Thank goodness I still have a ship inspection tomorrow
So today was my Monograms tour and it was amazing!! Our guide for the morning portion, Servantos, was extremely knowledgeable and shared with us the history of New Orleans, its burial rituals, and shared with us what really happened in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. Information overload for sure, but it was really insightful. You’ll have to check out my Facebook page to see some of the great pictures I took today. For lunch we stopped at Mother’s, which came highly recommended and for good reason! I ate my first Po-Boy that had their famous baked ham and roast beef on it. It reminded me of something similar that we eat in Puerto Rico, which is most likely due to all the cultural influences here in New Orleans. There’s French, Spanish, and German influences and on top of nationalities, it is a very religiously diverse community, having seen many churches, synagogues, and even a Greek Orthodox church on our tour earlier.
After the morning portion, our Local Host, Angela, took us on a ride out to Oak Alley Plantation. Definitely check out my pictures on Facebook because the setting is to die for! The oak trees at the plantation are over 300 years old and still kicking. Our guide around the plantation was very friendly and even dressed to that time era. Angela suggested we try the mint juleps, and we stopped by the gift shop to try this Southern specialty. I had the Frozen Blackberry Mint Julep which was tasty and refreshing, but a little too syrupy as soon as the ice melted. Couldn’t finish it, but at least I have a nice little souvenir glass
When we came back to town, my group of ladies decided to go around and do some shopping. We stopped at Crescent City Brewhouse for some dinner and that was excellent as well. Our server, Gail, was both friendly and attentive. The atmosphere was great and the Chicken Sandwich was just what I needed. The slaw and sauce made that sandwich amazing! Since we were already in French Quarter we also head down to Cafe du Monde for beignets! One of my favorite places to visit and definitely and must see/eat for anyone visiting New Orleans. And you have to stop at the one on Decatur St. since that is the original–it just wouldn’t be the same at any other location.
To end our night, we rode the streetcar back to our hotel and visited the Harrah’s casino for a bit. In between the streetcar and Harrah’s, we did have a little fiasco at the Hilton. The fire alarm went off on our floor, so we climbed down 23 flights of stairs! Thank goodness nothing serious occurred; someone just happened to be taking such a hot shower that the steam set off the alarm. DeSantos, one of the gentleman working in the lobby, treated us to drinks and a complimentary breakfast for tomorrow, which definitely helps with all the jello legs we are experiencing now. What a way to work off dinner and beignets, right?!
Hello Followers! It’s been a while since I’ve gone on travel, but I’m now in New Orleans for about a week and I’ll try and post up all the fun experiences I encounter. I’m here for a travel conference, but I get to relax these first 2 days. I’ll be going on tours with Monograms, Globus Family of Brands, and we’ll be hitting up all the hot spots in New Orleans. Hopefully I’ll also be able to hit up Cafe du Monde with my roommate for a beignet breakfast!
But anyways, today was a smooth day of travelling—thank goodness! The Airport Shuttle ride was quite interesting as the driver was listening and singing to his Ipod while driving. I did get to see a lot of the French Quarter while we were making our stops and it was beautiful. I love the the architecture in this city and the Old World feel. I’m staying at the beautiful Hilton Riverside and have an amazing view of the Mississippi River. Check out this picture I took from my window of the Norwegian Spirit.
I met up with some friends for dinner and we ate at the Ocean Grill. This place was delicious! We sat outside on the patio, which I highly recommend with the right weather. We started with crab cakes and I had to go with a traditional New Orleans meal and had some jambalaya, red beans and rice, alligator sausage, and seafood etoufee. We finished that off with some of the yummy creme brulee, which reminded me a little of my mom’s Puerto Rican flan.
That’s all for today. Have an early start tomorrow, but will keep you posted on all my adventures!
Just wanted to post up the links of our past 2 newsletters here for you, just in case you weren’t emailed one. To get on our mailing list, visit the “Newsletter” section of our website.
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Hello Travel Fanatics!
Last month, I announced that RitaVentures will be offering Travel Concierge services and I wanted to elaborate some of them for you. We already provide the utmost in travel service and assistance, but we know many of you get stressed out with many of the pre-departure details. There is no need for that anymore as we are the exclusive agency provider of Travel Concierge services.
1. Checklists: We both know that you need a checklist to stay on point before you travel. Getting things taken care of on that checklist can be just as time consuming as preparing the checklist itself. Entrust RitaVentures, and we’ll create a customized checklist, whether it be for getting your home prepared before you leave, to what you need to pack in your suitcase. Need us to take care of everything on that checklist? We’ll help with that too!
2. Packing: The dreaded “P” word. It can not only be a time-consuming task, but depending on how many people you’re packing for or what trip you’re packing for, it can also be very daunting. We’ll help make sure you’re every necessity is packed and ready to go before you leave. We can also help pick out your outfit for your visit to the Louvre, stomping grapes in Florence, and formal night aboard your favorite cruise ship. We’ll even help you unpack it all when you return from your trip.
3. Pre-Departure Shopping: You know you need to buy batteries, toothpaste, and a voltage converter, but you just don’t have the time to do it before you travel. Don’t worry because we’re here for you at RitaVentures. We’ll take care of all the shopping and errand-running you need taken care of before you leave to make sure no box goes unmarked on your checklist. We can even help prepare your home when you return from your trip.
Need another service that’s not listed here? No problem! Just give us a call (407) 929-3142, and we will try to accommodate as best as we can.
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Hello Baking and Cake Decorating Fanatics!
I am pleased to tell you that I am in the works of planning a Baker’s Cruise for April 2012 to Bermuda. The cruise will feature Hands-On Classes, Onboard Demos, Q&A Sessions, and possibly even a Culinary Crawl on the island. All details are still tentative, but I should be able to send you finalized information in the next few weeks. I’m very excited to be providing this opportunity to you, as I myself am also a Baking Fanatic!
If you would like to be added onto the future mailing list for this cruise, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Baker’s Cruise Mailing List.
Hope to see you onboard!
I just had to post a quick blog on my love for Digital Scrapbooking! I have been an avid paper scrapbooker since 8th Grade! When I first heard of the Digital Scrapbooking, I was like many traditionalists and had condemned it for being impersonal. Last month, I decided to take a chance; having a 30% off discount didn’t hurt either! I went on Shutterfly and tried their new “Custom Scrapbook” for my trip last year to Tunisia and Madrid. Needless to say, what would’ve taken me more than a month to complete with hundreds of dollars of investment, took me 3 days and a little over $100! When I received my scrapbook in the mail just a few days later, I was in such awe and kicked myself for not trying it before. Their scrapbooks are beautiful and durable, layouts are abundant, and themes and embellishments perfectly fit my travel/wedding theme for this particular book.
So what are some of the benefits of Digital Scrapbooking:
1. Hello–3 days! You save a whole lotta time and effort by scrapbooking online. Layouts are pre-made and you can adjust according to what you’re looking for.
2. Money– What I would’ve spent alone on printing the over 400 photos, I spent on the entire printed album. While I am still a fan of paper scrapbooking, it can definitely be quite costly.
3. Less Stress– Not only do you have pre-made layouts and themes, but you also don’t have to worry about cropping photos, throwing away scrap, and making a mistake (there’s always the handy dandy “undo” button online).
4. Safety– If anything should happen to your scrapbook, you have the security of knowing you can always reprint it online again.
So yes, I’m definitely a convert to Digital Scrapbooking. I will still use Paper Scrapbooking for preserving items such as programs, tickets, and printed photos. This is a must-do idea for everyone travelling the big cities because many of the layouts help you focus on the photo instead of the embellishments. If you’re a Disney fan, check out Creative Memories as they have exclusive rights to Disney Digital Scrapbooking Items. For some free items you can also check out Shabby Princess and Scrap Girls. There are also hosts of websites online that have Digital Scrapbooking Forums to find new ideas.
Preserve your travel memories and start Digital Scrapbooking!
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