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Dear ActiveTravels Members,
We just came back enthusiastic and inspired by two trips. One was to Spain where we visited our daughter who is studying in Barcelona and our nephew who is studying in Seville. We took the opportunity to see these locales as well as Granada and Madrid. Spain is incredibly popular right now so it's a good thing that we have experienced so much of what this destination has to offer. Let us know if you have Spain on your bucket list and we'll create an awesome trip for you.
The second trip we took was to Northern New Jersey, which was surprisingly (sorry New Jersey members!) beautiful! This was our annual Largay Travel advisor retreat where we get to engage with representatives from tour companies, cruise lines, hotels and connect with other advisors so we can stay on top of our game! Much of this newsletter content comes from the great trips that are being offered this year by these suppliers. If you have any questions, please contact us and we'll get you to these exciting destinations. The picture above is me dreaming of penguins and polar bears with Quark Expeditions, where they run expedition cruise ships with naturalists to both the North and South poles. Very cool, literally!
Lisa & Steve
Seven Trips to Try....
Every March or early April, Lisa and I go to an annual 4-day travel conference arranged by our fantastic host agency, Largay Travel, the gateway to all those Virtuoso amenities you receive including complimentary hotel room upgrades and breakfasts, shipboard credit on cruises, credits for spa treatments, meals, and much more. Largay celebrated 50 years in the industry at the latest bash, so all the finest hoteliers and suppliers came out to introduce themselves in 15-minute meetings throughout the event. These are the trips that left us most excited:
Summer 2019 Alaska Voyage
It seems like every cruise line added ships this summer to Alaska, including Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. In fact, there's far too much inventory, resulting in cruise lines now offering deals including a $250 shipboard credit. But we still love the Regent Alaska cruises because they offer 2 for 1 All-Inclusive Fares, Free Roundtrip Air, Free Unlimited Shore Excursions, Free 1-Night Pre-Cruise Hotel Package, Free Unlimited Beverages including wines and spirits, Free Pre-Paid Gratuities, Free Transfers and Free Wifi. Call us to find the dates where they are offering sailings with as much as $500 shipboard credit for each suite.
All you have to bring is your sense of adventure and a good pair of binoculars! If you have no plans yet for this summer and have always wanted to visit Alaska, now's the time.
Sail Cuba this Winter with SeaDream
Cuba is another destination that's seen far too much cruise traffic as of late. It became a hot commodity very quickly and has since died down some, leaving a lot of open berths on the table this coming winter. Unfortunately, many of the typical cruise itineraries to Cuba start in Florida and barely scratch the surface of what Cuba has to offer.
That's why we like the two112-passenger SeaDream vessels whose weeklong cruises start and end on island. It's the best of both worlds. See Hemingway's home, listen to live jazz, meet the people of Cuba, then head back to the comforts of the yacht for exceptional dining and comfort. You can even sleep under the stars. They have several outdoor Balinese beds available each night for two lucky couples.
For those who prefer more land than sea, we also work with a wonderful tour operator based in Havana, HabanaLive and their sister company, Cuba Educational Travel. Co-founder Megumi Gordon also happens to be the granddaughter of one of our valued ActiveTravels members! She always designs the best trips for our members filled with authentic experiences like boxing lessons with a professional boxer, opportunities to play soccer with local youth and/or meet a local tobacco farmer, visit a local synagogue, or the chance to enjoy live music or a Mafia tour of Havana.
Monarch Butterfly Migration with
Natural Habitat Adventures
All it takes is 2 minutes with Natural Habitat's Director of Sales, Don Martinson, and you're salivating like Pavlov's dog. Every trip is dreamier than the next, from seeing the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba (still have openings on their October 24th departure), to boating with gray whales off Baja to sea kayaking with paddling guru and renowned Georgian winemaker, Olaf Malver, in Greenland.
This year, they're promoting the annual monarch butterfly migration in Mexico's Central Highlands which occurs from January through March. Travel west of Mexico City one hour and you're immersed in a frenzy of hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies. Sign me up!
Safari on a Budget with African Travel
Those of you who have booked safaris with us know it can be expensive, $1,000 per person per day, on average. That's why we love this deal from the highly reputable safari outfitter, African Travel. Throughout 2019, pay $5,995 per person and you'll receive a 12-night itinerary to South Africa with stays at some of the top properties in the country, including the wonderful Twelve Apostles just outside of Cape Town, Rhino Sands Safari Camp in Mayoni Private Game Reserve, and the Oyster Box in Durban. Remarkably, the price includes direct international air from JFK on South African Airways. And if you book this trip before May 31, 2019, you'll receive an extra night at the Oyster House for free. Don't hesitate!
Travel the Baltics, Georgia, or Uzbekistan with
Exeter International is a tour operator that specializes in Eastern Europe and the Silk Route "stan" countries. I was privileged to sit down with President Greg Tepper, who told me about some of their fascinating tour offerings: a genealogist-led Jewish Heritage tour to Vilnius, Lithuania; a wine, food, and hiking trip to the republic of Georgia (one of his hottest destinations right now, minimum 7 days, 12 days if you want to combine with Baku and Armenia); and a country high on my wish list, Uzbekistan (need a minimum of 8 days). No one knows this part of the world better than Tepper and we're happy to put our members into his company's more than capable hands.
Active Yoga Trips with Backroads
Having been on 3 Backroads trips, including the latest, a multi-sport trip with our kids in Switzerland, it's no surprise that we're big fans of Backroads and book many families, couples, and singles, on their trips each year. New this year is a biking trip on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, active safaris in East Africa and Botswana, and numerous active river and ocean cruises. But, we really like Backroads Active Yoga Adventures (52 trips in 2019), where you stretch each morning and late afternoon with a yoga instructor who also happens to be one of your guides. A great combination!
Wellness Trips with Abercrombie & Kent
Starting later this year, Abercrombie &Kent will debut their new
wellness-inspired Luxury Small Group Journeys
to Southeast Asia, India, Kenya and Peru. I'll be getting a taste of these ancient practices that promote mindfulness, health and well-being when I visit Machu Picchu with A&K in early September. From a guided meditation by a waterfall with a local expert in Luang Prabang to a shaman-led ritual honoring Mother Earth Pachamama in Peru's Sacred Valley, you'll get to experience the timeless traditions that have shaped the cultures you visit. Inspiring private talks with local experts, such as on the healing properties of India's ayurveda and Peru's ayahuasca, will add to an in-depth understanding of each place.
Please call ActiveTravels because Abercrombie & Kent is offering a $1000 savings per couple on select 2019 Luxury Small Group Journeys and we can direct you to those savings and assist you with all arrangements.
Tried and True Travel Tips,
Mobile Passport App
Did you know that you can download an app to your smartphone to expedite you through the lines upon arrival into the US? It's true! Just download the Mobile Passport Control App and you will speed through those annoying lines. It's free to use and will streamline the traveler inspection process considerably.
Travelers will be prompted to create a profile via the app with their passport information. The profile includes the traveler's name, gender, date of birth, and country of citizenship. Upon landing in the United States, travelers will complete the "New Trip" section by selecting their arrival airport and airline, taking a self-photo, and answering a series of Customs and Border Patrol inspection-related questions. Once the traveler submits their transaction through the app, the traveler will receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code. Travelers then bring their passport and mobile device with their digital bar-coded receipt to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the United States.
This service is not at every US airport but most of the major ones and it's available when you enter the US at three major cruise ports as well. Please note: you still need your passport to travel! And, usually it needs to be valid for 6 months past your travel dates. Always check this several months before you plan an international trip. It's costly and stressful to get your passport renewed in the last minute!
Using the app also means that you don't have to fill out that immigration form the flight attendants give you on board your flight. Phew! And, you can add family members to your profile and just submit it in one transaction. Check it out!
On the banks of the Douro River, Porto has all the charms of Lisbon: wine bars, yummy seafood, rooftop views, without the crowds, and April is a great time to visit, before the summer tourism rush.
The two biggest draws here are the photogenic riverfront Ribeira quarter and the close to 20 port wine "lodges" just across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia. Aficionados of port wine can use Porto as a springboard for visiting the nearby Douro Valley, where grapes grow on steep stone terraces. Back in Porto, the city boasts a wonderful food court, streets teeming with boutique shops, historic churches, narrow cobblestone lanes with colorful blue tiles on the walls, and a handful of museums worth a look like the new Museum of Natural History, dedicated to bio-diversity and located in the Botanical Garden of Porto.
new boutique property. If you're an art lover this is your kind of place as each of the 47 rooms are dedicated to an avant-garde artist and designed individually.
Then, extend your trip to Douro Valley and stay at one of the finest properties in the country,
Six Senses Douro Valley
. This picture speaks more than any words can. Go and take in the splendor of their luscious gardens, spa treatments, and delight in their food and wine.
Contact ActiveTravels to get started planning your Portuguese getaway!