2019 Review Newsletter from Lovejoy Travel Agency
2019 Year in Review:
I do it for you
A part of my responsibility as your travel agent is to familiarize myself with the resorts and destinations that I am sending you to. I take this part seriously because the internet will only tell you so much, will have mixed reviews, or give you the wrong impression. Having first hand knowledge of what to expect from your travel agent is important when you are leaving the country. Although my trips are glorified a great deal on social media, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into my travels to help you make magical memories. Today, I want to recap my 2019 travel calendar with you and discuss just a few take-a-ways from each destination.
Royal Caribbean Cruise

Cruising can be scary for people. They don’t know if they will get seasick, get stuck sitting next to strangers at dinner, or have enough to do on the ship. I really enjoyed my February Royal Caribbean cruise because I took my family of 5 who have never sailed before. My husband was certain he would get sick so he pre-bought everything Walgreens had before we left. Not only did the family do just fine, but I was able to find them the best rooms for the least amount of motion, something I pay close attention to while booking cruises for clients.
Something else I like to do is schedule your dinner time and request the table size appropriate for your family. You most likely went on vacation to spend time with your family, not with strangers. If you want to chat with strangers, you have all the time in the world at the pool or the bars. Let your family reconnect at dinner and let your waiters get to know your preferences as the same wait staff serves you each night. Lastly, I pay attention to the entertainment. I need to know if the kid’s areas are as fun as the commercials claim or are they a bust. Do you have to pay extra? Can parents be with the kiddos? Is it ‘babysitting’ or are the kids actually learning something? I can tell you, on Royal Caribbean, the entertainment was FANTASTIC, the kids area was BOOMING and if you want to do the rock climbing on the ship, bring your tennis shoes!
Ireland

I have learned that one of the biggest draws for people traveling to Europe is that they want to go back to their own heritage. With Ireland having had huge migrations through the years, there are so many people with Irish blood that wants to see the great island and all it’s wonders. Celtic Tours was gracious enough to let me experience it through there eyes. I could not have asked for a better method to travel Ireland and I adored the idea of taking a tour versus venturing out on my own. Here’s why: With a tour company, they met me at the airport and directed me right to the shuttle. It was hassle free. No worrying about a cab, no trying to rent a car, no issue with getting around. We got on a shuttle and they took us to these small little towns on our way to Cobh, Blarney, Dingle Peninsula, Cliffs of Moher and Killarney.
The thing with the tour was that, I probably wouldn’t have cared about the small towns and wouldn’t have justified the stop if I was taking myself around. Instead, Celtic Tours knew that theses little spots were gems and completely worth stopping at. Also, I love history. I read so much in preparation for this adventure, but the tour guide taught me more than I ever could have found in books or the Travel Channel. Their knowledge was so valuable. My last point on taking a tour vs on your own is driving. I got to sit back and look out the window the entire time not worried about taking a wrong turn, driving on the left side of the road or the narrow roads along the cliffs. I was able to truly enjoy the views and the company.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Jamaica is a big island and there is so much to do, but what resorts are really “kid friendly?” How kid friendly are they? Do they merely allow kids on the property to play in the sand? Do they have state of the art technology and education for the kids? Do they specialize in autism and children that require a little more attention? I had a great opportunity to take my family to Beaches Ocho Rios. Where most resorts require your kiddo to be at least three years old and potty trained, Beaches is one of the few all-inclusive resorts that train their nannies to care for babies. As a mom of three, that is huge! To actually have a vacation on your vacation makes all the difference. The staff was so fun and taught my son (and husband) the latest Xbox games, which is where I would find them when they needed to cool off from the hot sun. When they weren’t with the staff in the kid’s zone, they were at the water park going down the slides and splashing around.
We had such a blast enjoying every moment of Beaches, but I needed to compare Beaches to other resorts, so I planned a day trip to Jewel Runaway Bay to see if the kids would prefer Beaches water park to Jewel Runaway Bay. Jewel Runaway Bay was wonderful… but my kiddos were slightly too short for some of the slides, with 48” being the magic number in the Caribbean. That didn’t mean we didn’t have fun. The music at Jewel Runaway Bay was bumping, the beach was so fun and the Jerk Shack, my lord, my husband just pulled up a seat and couldn’t get enough seasoned chicken. The comparison didn’t stop there. I scheduled a productive day alone doing site inspections at Jewel Dunn’s River and Moon Palace Jamaica. Being able to compare and contrast resorts to best serve your families needs is a big reason why I travel.
Los Cabos, Mexico

Is Mexico scary? NO, NO, and NO. I love Mexico. It is one of my FAVORITE places to travel to. For whatever reason, Mexico is so much friendlier and cleaner than the Caribbean. The resorts sparkle, the staff is always ready to tell a joke and they adore  ninos . The Mexicans cherish their culture and want you to fall in love with it as well. I have been to Mexico a number of times since the media covered it and I have NEVER felt unsafe, so much so that Los Cabos was my first 2019 trip to Mexico. Los Cabos is a very wealthy area where a lot of celebrities like to hang out. I stayed at Le Blanc, a Palace resort, where Puff Daddy’s son was also staying at the time. In addition, Avril Lavine and George Clooney both have houses walking distance from the resort.
Enough about all that, Los Cabos is beautiful. It is right on the peninsula, south of California. You get that great American feel with Mexican influence. The waters are a little rough in Los Cabos with the Pacific Ocean right there, but you get opportunities to see whales and manta rays right off the coast. There are a few swimmable beaches not far from any resort, which is also a great place to surf. Don’t worry about the ocean, the spas and resort pools will make up for all that. They also have two towns that are absolutely safe for you to wander around to shop or enjoy some night life.
Washington, D.C.

All right, this one was more of a personal trip than work trip as there was a family wedding I was attending but I really think every American needs to make a stop to Washington DC. For one, everything is so much smaller than the TV makes it out to be. You walk and walk and walk and see great architecture, monumental history and life changing museums.
I made a stop at the Holocaust Museum and am haunted by the tragedy that I experienced through the museum. I say this as the greatest compliment of the museum as they effectively portrayed the situation and the emotions of that horrific time in history. We hear about it, we learn about it, we watch it in movies, but the diagrams, the train car, the shoes, these are all tangible and brings it to life. If the holocaust isn’t on your list, the National Air & Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian, United States Botanic Gardens and the National Gallery of Art are some great FREE things to do in Washington DC.
Universal Studios - Orlando

This has got to be up there with a highlight of my year. Disney is nice. It is cute and magical, but Universal Studios was so much more manageable, exhilarating, mystical. My clearest memory while exploring Universal Studios was catching myself grinning so big wondering “how did they do that?” Universal Studios is smaller than Disney. Whereas Disney has four theme parks, Universal has two, those being Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
Disney World will take 5-6 day to cover but Universal will only take 2-3 days to get through the parks, and this is in part to their Universal Express Unlimited front-of-the-line pass which comes with your stay at the Premier Universal Studio resorts, or you can purchase it separately. The Universal Express Unlimited works differently than the Disney FastPass because you don’t need to schedule your rides and you don’t need to keep track of how many rides you have scheduled. You simply walk into the Universal Express line, show them your pass and get on. Then you get off and do it again at the next ride. So easy. I also want to point out the height restriction because so many people believe that Universal Studios is for older kids. I did not take my kids with me on this trip, but there were tons of smaller kids running around. To break it down a little more, there are only two rides at Universal Studios where the kiddos have to be taller than 42” and five rides at Islands of Adventure. Most of the rides involved sitting in seats with the animations that give you the thrill.   
Detroit, Michigan

I didn’t go to Detroit to tour The Henry Ford Museum or the Charles H. Wright Museum, although I did do that and I am a better person for it. I actually went to Detroit to meet with my European reps. I had such a great opportunity to chat with the tourism boards from Germany, Scotland, England, France, and Spain.
I really enjoy my time with them as they live in the countries that represent. They experience their country day in and day out and are such great resources for me to help you make the absolute best of your experience overseas. I especially love getting the inside information such as the best places to stay, where to get the most authentic dishes, easiest way to travel from town to town, and must-see tours. It wasn’t just my Europe reps that I enjoyed in Detroit. I had fun with the Hawaii Tourism Board, Rio de Janeiro Tourism Board and the Jamaican Tourism Board.
The Grand Moon Palace - Cancun

The Grand Moon Palace. I felt so safe in Mexico all the other times I went that I decided to take my 7 year old son with me for a Mommy/Son trip. Everything was wonderful from the sunshine to the smiling faces to the ease of catching the transfer to the hotel, to eating the best food. We had a beautiful room, a water park, mariachi bands, and a stunning beach. Get this, we even left property!
I didn’t want to take my son all the way to Mexico and have him think that all there was are resorts. We took a ride out to Chitchen Itza to learn about the Mayan culture. It is so fascinating how advanced the Mayan’s were long before technology. Their math skills, their architect, their planning. It took great minds to create what they did and for it to still be around to this day. I also wanted to have my son experience the terrain of Mexico, and quite honestly, the cenotes fascinate me. I just had to explore the caves with Rio Secreto. Best thing I have ever done!