Archive for April, 2011

Joining Forces

Just recently, First Lady Michele Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced their involvement with “Joining Forces”, a government initiative that brings everyone together to show our support for service members and their families and to give them the opportunities they have earned through serving our country.  When you visit their website Joining Forces, you will have the opportunity to get involved.  There are options to find service opportunities in your community, send a message of thanks to military families and share your own stories of support.  You can stay connected by following Joining Forces on Facebook too at

Disney has gotten involved in this initiative by donating books to the USO for the United Through Reading program for deployed troops to be able to read their kids a virtual bedtime story.  They will also be sending care packages to USO centers which will include DVDs, books and games.

Disney has also extended discounted theme park tickets and room rates through September 2012 for active military and spouses, retired military, National Guard and Reservists.  Discounts are also available throughout the year on select cruises with Disney Cruise Line and at Shades of Green.

How To Pick a Travel Agent

I have heard stories about different experiences people have had with travel agents so I thought it would be a good time to give some pointers on picking a great travel agent.  First I will say that not all travel agents are created equal and no one travel agent is the perfect travel agent for everyone.

It is good to get recommendations from others about who they have used and liked, however, keep this limited to the agent and not the agency.  If your friend used Jane Doe at Acme Travel, John Jones at Acme Travel may not be as “good” of an agent or right for you.

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Salsa, Salsa, Margarita

Here is a blog from our friend Rick who recently cheated on the Mouse, but found a great excursion in Cozumel.  I think we may have to try that next time we are there!

We are just back from Cozumel on RCI’s Navigator of the Seas (what a beautiful ship) out of Ft Lauderdale.  Everyone (party of 4) had a great time and we went on the best excursion ever and just had to share!

Salsa, Salsa, Margarita takes about 4.5 hours and is held at a luxury hotel near the port. We all assembled on a covered outdoor balcony with a beautiful view of the ship and the sea. Fans were everywhere and the breeze felt great. When you sit down you are given a chef’s hat (toke) an apron… and a frozen margarita!

The trick about the margarita is that it will be constantly filled for the next few hours making it effectively a bottomless margarita (you can tell everyone on the boat you only had one drink!)

The fun starts as your dancing chef hostesses  teach you first how to make a “real” margarita (equal parts tequila and cointreau) a squeeze of lime juice and ice… quite delicious! Then we all learn how to make a strawberry margarita and watermelon water. It is interactive and we each had our own bar sets, cutting boards, raw materials (fruits, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) and our own mortar and pestle… so you work along on your own as you follow your fellow (randomly selected) cruise mates who take turns leading the class.

Next we learn how to make 7 different salsas. (You will never buy Salsa again!) and they bring you chips, chicken taquitos and cheese quesadillas to sample your creations. There’s a basic red salsa, salsa verde, guacamole, pico de gallo, tropical salsa, melon mix salsa, and a dessert salsa. I won’t ruin the surprise but let’s just say the dessert salsa will be a treat!!!!

Remember, all along the way your glass has been refilled constantly and the good folks are kind enough to provide you a recipe list so you can recreate the creations at home in the event you….”lose track” of what you have done.

Next we take a break clean up the mess (there will be one!) and learn to Salsa dance! Quite a good time so bring a camera to document this event!

Finally you have about 1.5 hours to swim in the ocean or enjoy the islands largest pool complex!

It was a perfect afternoon and a great time… we would do it again in a minute!  Cost was $88 bucks per person and worth every penny!

They can be found on Facebook at Salsa and Salsa and online at

Happy Birthday “Mom”

For those that have known me for quite a while, you know that I lost both my parents while I was in my 30s.  Luckily though, I found a “replacement” for my mom.  I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I was able to find someone who has been there for me when I needed someone yet still can drive me crazy like a mom can do!

My “mom” will be having a milestone birthday in less than a couple weeks, but since we’ll be traveling, I wanted to take a moment to wish her a happy birthday.  Like any mom, she has been supportive to me when I needed it most.  Sometimes it’s a nice comment, sometimes it’s a few choice words.  Other times she just laughs at me to make me see how crazy my thoughts are.  And every time we see each other, it’s always a big hug.

We “met” online back in 2005 or earlier.  My first interaction with her was in 2005.  I thought she was a bit controlling and didn’t see us ever becoming friends.  We would just be online acquaintances.  We kept in touch for the next year or so and finally met onboard the Disney Wonder in September 2006.  We became instant friends!

She helped me to get into the travel business and has supported me since.  I can’t thank her enough for being there for me.  We’ll get to see her on her birthday while we all cruise to Alaska, so I’m really excited.  Happy birthday mom!  Here’s to many more years!

Castaway Cay Cabanas Now Online

Effective immediately, the cabanas on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay are available to book online.  They can be reserved at the same time as other shore excursions, adult only dining or spa appointments.  In order to prebook, your reservation must be paid in full and wait until the appropriate date.  For concierge guests and Platinum Castaway Club members, this is 120 days prior to sailing.  For Gold Castaway Club members, your prebooking date is 105 days prior and Silver Castaway Club members at 90 days prior to sailing.  If you have never cruised with Disney before, you can do these bookings at 75 days prior to sailing.

It’s Almost Time

Today as I sit here trying to work, my mind keeps wandering.  Not to the taxes we need to get filed, or Spring weather.  To packing, once again.  Only this time is going to be more complicated.

You see in just a few days, we will be leaving for a new adventure with Disney.  We will start out with a few days at Disneyland, followed by two cruises on the Disney Wonder.  The Disney Wonder will be repositioning to Vancouver, BC and starting her first Alaskan adventure!  We will visit San Francisco (overnight) and Victoria, BC on the way to Vancouver.  From Vancouver, we will sail through Tracy Arm Fjord and on to Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.  We have a wide variety of shore excursions planned – both with Disney Cruise Lines and on our own.

In San Francisco, we have put together a private tour to four wineries in Napa Valley, including the Silverado Vineyard.  For those that don’t know, Silverado is owned by Diane Miller, Walt’s daughter.  We will be touring the facilities there along with tastings.

In Alaska, we will be whale watching, seeing Mendenhall Glacier, flying over fjords and glaciers in a float plane, participating in a crab feast and taking the White Pass railroad to the Yukon in Canada!

Finally, after the Alaska cruise we will be traveling to Seattle by train to see that area of the country and hopefully catch up with friends.

Back to packing.  Where do I start?  I have been to Disneyland in late April, early May where the temperatures have reached into the 90s.  Average temperatures in Alaska are low 50s for highs.  Do I bring boots?  Winter coat?  Hats, gloves, swimsuit, shorts?  This weekend I must work on this!

If you have any questions or would like to see more information during our adventure, please comment here or on Facebook or email me at  We’re happy to research for you!

Travel Plan Changes – Are You Ready?

You are ready to book the vacation of a lifetime, or even this year’s family trip. You are about to confirm your reservations when your travel agent asks “would you like to include vacation protection or insurance?”. Those who know of potential issues or problems will say yes, but for many people, they will simply think of this as an unnecessary cost for their trip. After all, no one in the family is sick right now. And they certainly don’t plan to cancel. But is this the right decision?

This year alone we have seen so many things happen in the world – both man-made and natural, that could potentially affect your travel plans. From aircraft problems, fires and political unrest to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and snow, there are many things that can happen that are outside of your control or ability to predict.

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