Welcome to my site where I share my travels that hopefully inspire you to plan yours. After reading my articles, I hope you're motivated to plan it - your Planet Family Travel.
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Happy March! I'm so excited about my upcoming ski trip to Utah next week. Haven't seen snow since my last ski trip to Northstar California Resort a year ago.
Travels in the last few month have been quite varied. I took a short cruise from New Jersey on Royal Caribbean's tech-savvy Quantum of the Seas. I love cruising but wasn't sure how I would like such a massive ship. Despite its size I found the decks and venues easy to navigate. But it's the technology that makes the ship stand out. The most technologically-advanced smart ship afloat, the Quantum features transforming entertainment venues, wristbands that unlock doors, robotic bartenders and super-fast wireless connectivity.
After my high seas adventure I spent a week in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was cold but no snow. I was impressed with this college town that has a vibrant downtown with an eclectic mix of dining and shopping options. One of my favorite shops was Cherry Republic. Everything cherries! Chocolate, chips, baked goods, wine, coffee, candy and more.
From the chilly mid-west I warmed up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I stayed at the San Juan Marriott, which has a prime location on Condado Beach. I slept well in my oceanfront room and enjoyed the sunny beach. From the hotel it was a 20-minute bus ride to Old San Juan, rich in history and diverse dining.
August 2014: Clearwater Beach, situated on the west central coast of Florida. This lovely stretch of beach has silky white sand and warm water with little surf. I loved floating in the water, looking up at blue ski, and listening to shorebirds.
I stayed at the Sandpearl Resort, a laid-back luxury beach hotel. My fifth floor junior suite had sweeping ocean and pool views and a spacious balcony - a perfect spot for enjoying room service.
July 2014: Princess Alaskan Cruise
I can now cross Alaska off my bucket list. My two daughters and I took a seven-night Princess Alaskan Cruise through the Inside Passage. It was even more beautiful than I expected. First, the cruise itself was fabulous. We've cruised numerous times but this was our first experience with Princess and I definitely recommend this cruise line. We booked the Golden Princess, which sails round-trip from Seattle, WA.
We had a spacious mini-suite with balcony,which made getting ready for dinner a breeze (three girls in one room and it worked!). Our cabin steward, Andre (from Romania) was super attentive and always around the corner when we needed him. In fact, each crew member we met was very friendly. Votman (a handsome Serbian server) entertained us with dance moves and smiles.
The ship's onboard naturalist (Michael Modzelewski) provided excellent instruction about when and where to see wildlife and gave fascinating presentations in the Explorers Lounge. We saw more than 20 whales from the ship. I even saw an orca from my balcony! It was amazing. During our cruise we also saw bald eagles and sea otters.
Port days were a lot of fun. We hiked on trails to and around Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, hiked and rafted in Skagway, sailed through stunning Glacier Bay, learned about the importance of totems in Ketchikan, and went pub crawling in Victoria, British Columbia (where the legal drinking age is 19). Live music and tasting local brew was a fun way to spend a few hours in the beautiful port city of Victoria. I can't wait to return to Alaska. There's so much more of this state I would love to explore. We didn't see any Grizzlies on this trip like we had hoped, so maybe next time.
We were so lucky to not only hear glacier calving (which sounded like gunshots) but we saw numerous chunks of ice splash into the water in Glacier Bay. I took this photo of a huge section of ice sliding down the glacier and making a huge splash in the bay.
With its location near popular Broadway and honky tonk bars, the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN, is an ideal place to stay. Elegant and comfortable, it's suitable for couples or families.
Borrego Springs, CA
Atlantis Resort, Nassau, Bahamas
There's nothing "lazy" about this one-mile long river that swishes around the resort. Rapids and waves make this an exciting tube ride around Atlantis. There are enough relaxing moments to catch your breath before the next set of rapids. It's a sure way to stay cool!
Built around a 141-acre waterpark and home to the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, Atlantis is a top family-friendly Caribbean resort.
While at the Atlantis we stayed in the Reef Hotel, a spacious and comfortable (the beds are awesome) hotel with ocean views. The Reef is perfect for families because the rooms have kitchens.
Kayak Adventures - Channel Islands, Ventura, CA
Kayaking through the sea caves at Channel Islands in Ventura was thrilling! I was on a guided tour with Island Packers. We kayaked through several caves, some smaller and others large.
Channel Islands Kayak (company) led us through a serene cruise through the harbor. This is great for families with young children.
Year-Round Family Fun in Hawaii
We love the diversity Oahu offers families. One of our favorite things to do is relaxing on a secluded beach. Shown here: Lanikai Beach.
My daughter Christina and I had exciting adventures in Kona (below).
From Hilo to Kona
Glow from Halema'ma'u crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Shot this pic from Jagger Museum. Notice the reddish glow inside of the rim.
While in Kona, someone we met referred to Hilo as "the dark side." We laughed but understood what he meant. Black sand beaches and frequent (albeit short) rain showers are in contrast to Kona's white sand beaches and sunshine.
However, Hilo is also lush and flush with waterfalls and streams. And, of course, is situated on the outskirts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a must-see region. We spent an entire day at the park hiking to the bottom of the crater and staying for the amazing glow from Halemamau crater. As the sun begins setting, the glow starts out as a faded pink and intensifies as the sky darkens. It gets very cold there! Be prepared and wear a jacket. Read more about it on my blog.
Elkhart Lake, WI: I found the colors of this small town to be so vivid: blue skies, lush green trees and sparkling clear lake water. Although peak season is summer, my visit in mid-September was spectacular with comfortable temperatures.
Clearwater Beach at Sandpearl Resort, Florida.The sugar white sand stays cool even when temps are high. The ocean water is the perfect temp - warm enough to walk in without shuddering but still refreshing under a hot sun.