Oceania “Regatta” Ship Tour

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Oceania is an upper premium cruise line offering many distinctive amenities and itineraries. Oceania was introduced in 2003. This cruise line is known for its “points of distinction”. One area of distinction is the culinary experience. The lunch on board was wonderful with many choices. The feeling you get on the Oceania Regatta is country club casual. They want the passengers to leave the tuxedos and evening gowns at home. They provide passionate service on board where the atmosphere is very relaxed. The ships are mid size (ranging from 684 to 1250 passengers) so when you are in a small port like St. Barts you are not docked next to 5 other mega ships.

The Oceania is a great line for retirees that are experienced cruisers looking for a more intimate cruise.  An added benefit is the specialty restaurants do not charge extra for dining in them.  The onboard life is extensive. There is an artist loft and a great library that houses many books and has a warm inviting feel. The shows are musically focused and many itineraries have guest lecturers for more enrichment.   Hands on cooking experiences are offered on two of the ships.

Oceania cruises all over the world. Another distinction is the many overnight stays and late night departures so guests have the extra time to explore the destinations.   For example in Monte Carlo you can experience the Casino at night since the ship is not departing at 5:00 pm. Unique itineraries are the norm, for example when the ship is in Italy it visits Cinque Terre since the ship can get close to the port. In the Caribbean they travel to the British Virgin Isles and Tortola. Also the air is included in the brochure prices which can be a great bonus.   You can sail on Oceania from 7 day cruise to a 120 day around the world cruise.

If a client that normally cruises on Holland America or Princess is looking for a different more intimate cruise experience, then Oceania Cruise Line would be a great recommendation.

XelHa Park, Riviera Maya, Mexico

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The XelHa Park in the Riviera Maya Mexico is a great day trip for the whole family.  The park is a large natural aquarium where you can experience many different water activities.

It was a beautiful warm day in May when we had the opportunity to explore XelHa.  XelHa has a policy on the type of sunscreen you can use within the park.   It has to be organic with no chemicals.  I had thought I found the correct type but when we arrived they would not allow it.  The park gives every guest a sample pack of the sunscreen, which can last 1 to 2 applications.  So it is best to apply at least one coat of sunscreen before arriving at the park.

Our first adventure was to float on tubs down the river in the forest of mangroves.  To get there you can either take the shuttle bus or ride a bicycle.  They have all of the bikes in an area and you just get on and ride.  We choose this route and it was fun riding through the mangrove forest.  When we got to the river entrance you could choose a one person or two person tubs.  Our group started down the river, it was relaxing until I decided to move the wrong way in the tub and fell off.  The water was moving slowly but I could not touch the bottom as it was too deep and I did not want to touch the sides.  I luckily was able, with help of my friends, to get myself back on the tub without pulling anyone else in.  But it was a little unnerving and my heart was racing.  At little excitement always makes the day fun.  The river ends into the open lagoon that is great for snorkeling.

On the large lagoon there are several zip lining adventures.  All of them are at different heights and speeds.  We went on several and it was great to zip into the water.  The next adventure was cliff jumping.  The park also has different heights for jumping off.  I did try one and it was fantastic.  The employees at the park make all of these activities very safe.   There is a very large lagoon that you can snorkel in.  We saw many colorful fish around the coral rocks.  There were a few very large fish that we were not able to identify.   Snorkeling through the coral reefs was fun but tiring.

The park has many walking trails and other activities like swimming with the dolphins and SNUBA which is a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving without the tanks.   There are many areas to relax on a lounge chair and have a cold beverage.  There are iguanas all over the park and a great floating bridge that is fun to walk on.  Though you need to hang on if it is windy and the water is not calm.   I would recommend this park for families of all ages; there are so many fun things to try while soaking up the warm Riviera Maya sun.

An Ireland Family Affair

Photo courtesy of Sceptre Tours

Photo courtesy of Sceptre Tours

Do you need a really special Christmas gift but have been unable to find it?  This special trip may be what you and your family need, experience Ireland with your family. With its rolling green hills, its cozy Irish pubs and great music, an Ireland vacation with the family will give them something to dream about during the cold days of winter.

Family Villa Vacation Package Description:

This 6 night escorted tour will allow you to travel through Ireland with the luxury of a private chauffeur taking you to and from each destination.   Your base will be at the 5-star Adare Manor Villa in Limerick where you will receive top notch Irish hospitality. The Villas are known for elegant accommodations, a list of amenities offered on site, but also a bit of privacy for you and your family.

You will see the Bunratty Castle, King John’s Castle, the Blarney Stone and the incredible Cliffs of Moher. This tour is especially ideal for families because you have an itinerary each day to get the most out of your time in Ireland but you will also have the freedom to explore over 840 acres of ground at the Villas.

Tour schedule with transfers:

Day 1: Travel back to the 15th century and enjoy a majestic experience at the Bunratty Castle. You will be welcomed by a kilted bag piper before you venture across the draw-bridge into the Banquet Hall. The entire castle perfectly reflects the style of the medieval era complete with candles, long oak tables and goblets of Honey Mead. The entire family will be entertained while enjoying a delicious four course dinner.   

-Transfer from Limerick to Galwalway

-Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet

-Transfer from Galway to Limerick

Day 2: Take a short ride within Limerick to King John’s Castle. This medieval, 13th century castle encompasses over 800 years of history and beauty. After being renovated in June 2013, there is a new visitor’s center, several interactive exhibitions and a café. Check out the castle courtyard for the most picturesque views of the Shannon River.

-Transfer from Limerick to Limerick

-Tour of King John’s Castle

-Transfer from Limerick to Limerick

Day 3: A trip to Cork to visit the Blarney Castle means you’re going to have an opportunity to tour the castle grounds, kiss the Blarney Stone and explore the underrated Rock Close. Rock Close is full of buried treasures waiting for you to discover such as, the Wishing Steps, the giant Dolmen and the ancient Druids.

-Transfer from Limerick to Cork

-Tour of Blarney Castle

-Transfer from Cork to Limerick

Day 4: County Clare is home to the majestic Cliffs of Moher which stand 702 feet at their highest point and extend 5 miles along the Atlantic coast. The view from the Cliffs of Moher includes the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins, Maum Turk mountains and Blasket Islands in Kerry. Climb up to O’Brien’s Tower for a chance to see this breath taking view.

-Transfer from Limerick to Clare

-Admissions to the Cliffs of Moher

-Transfer from Clare to Limerick

For an unforgettable family vacation in Ireland, contact Darby’s Destinations.

Terms & Conditions:
Advertised Package price is based on departure dates as indicated above and were available via the Sceptre Tours call center and may not represent current prices or availability.

Under the Sea at Atlantis

Photo courtesy of Travel42

Photo courtesy of Travel42

Instead of spending the holidays with Mickey™ & Minnie™, you can meet new marine friends when you swim with the dolphins at Atlantis.  Spend the extra time during school vacation and experience something new at the wonders of Atlantis.  The kids will have nothing to be bored about and you will have a great time too in the Bahamas.

This surreal escapist resort boasts has its own postal code, and few guests—especially those with children—will find the time or inclination to journey outside of Atlantis’ jealously guarded gates.

December Hot Dates Sale – Just released rooms. Only a few remaining for December*.
Hot Dates:
December 19 – 21, 2013
December 26 – 29, 2013

Includes unlimited access to a one-of-a-kind 141 acre waterscape, including Aquadventure, one of the largest waterparks in the world.   For a great Atlantis Adventure, contact Darby’s Destinations.

*Rates from $117 per night. Rates listed are per night, dbl occ. for Beach Tower Terrace. Savings on other room categories may vary by tower and travel dates. Must be booked by 12/16/13 for travel 8/24/14 through 12/25/14. New bookings only. Weekend charges apply. Add up to $62 per night for taxes, levies, fees, service charges, and mandatory gratuities. Blackout dates apply. This offer is subject to availability and may be changed or cancelled without notice. Offer not combinable with any other offer listed at time of offer. Not applicable to groups.

US Virgin Islands – The Caribbean Without a Passport

Photo courtesy of Travel42

Photo courtesy of Travel42

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?  Wouldn’t it be great to watch the sunset in the US Virgin Islands, where no passport is required?  Instead of long lines at the chair lift this holiday season, point your toes in the sand.  Water skiing anyone?

A trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands is the closest thing to a Caribbean sampler that you can get, as it provides several different island experiences in one territory.  Form bustling beaches, nightlife and great shopping in St. Thomas to the unspoiled scenery and quiet surroundings of St. John.  For the best of both islands choose St. Croix where it balances a fair amount of shopping and attractions with a relaxed atmosphere and historic architecture.

Early Booking Savings! Save up to 35%!  Bolongo Bay Beach Resort from  $613

For more information on any of the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact Darby at Darby’s Destinations darby@darbysdestinations.com

Vacation inclusions: Hotel only package. Price does not include airfare. Prices quoted are per person based on double occupancy, are not retroactive, and are subject to limited availability. All prices were current as of date posted. Fares are subject to change. All rates are subject to change with or without notice.

The Barbie™Cruise Experience

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

My girls would love to spend the holidays with Barbie™ at sea on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  I can just see them dressing up for the Fashion Show on board.  The girls would love to get their new Barbie’s™ in their cabin when we arrive on the ship.  They will receive all kinds of new outfits to dress them in for the tea party.  This fun experience is limited to 10 – 15 girls per sailing, so girls will make new friends while enjoying the excitement of Barbie™.  Christmas with Barbie, what fun!

Meet new friends, make lifelong memories and set sail in true Barbie fashion with the Barbie Premium Experience, only on Royal Caribbean. Girls age 4 to 11 can set sail on a Barbie dream cruise complete with:

• Barbie Stateroom Package: adorned in signature pink with take-home Barbie® doll, accessories and more!

• Tiaras and Teacups Party: Enjoy treats while having fun learning tips on table etiquette.

• Mermaid Dance Class: Learn surf-inspired moves from the hit movie Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2.

• Fashion Designer Workshop: Sketch and create your own unique designs for your Barbie doll.

• Fashion Show: Walk the runway and unveil your original Barbie fashion creation.

This exclusive package is available for $349 per child on all Royal Caribbean International® sailings*!             *Guests will receive a limited experience for $75 (no tea party or fashion designer workshop) on 3-4 night sailings.

 To plan your Barbie Dream Cruise, contact your Travel Professional, Darby Wojick at Darby’s Destinations.

Universal Park Adventures this Holiday Season

Photo Courtesy of Universal Studios

Photo Courtesy of Universal Studios

What could be more fun with the kids than the new “London’s Diagon Alley” at the life-like Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando Resort?!   The holiday season can be filled with excitement when experiencing the new Universal Macy’s Holiday Parade™ straight from New York and Grinchmas™–who didn’t grow up with The Who’s and that cute dog with reindeer ears   Plus you can all ride the Hogwarts™ Express while enjoying a butterbeer at Universal where kids eat free, not to mention Mannheim Steamroller and the Blues Brothers for some adult time too!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Exclusive Vacation Offer

Venture into a world where magic is real… and excitement knows no bounds at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure® theme park.

4 Night Vacations starting from only $929* per family of 4, tax inclusive

This EXCLUSIVE vacation package includes:

Early Park Admission◊ to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ one hour before the theme park opens, Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks™ – one per person, Hotel Accommodations at a Universal Partner Hotel, 2-Day Base Ticket with 3rd Day FREE^ – one theme park, per day (Must be used by 5/22/14), Access to live entertainment◊◊ at Universal CityWalk®

OR, upgrade when you travel between 9/16/13 – 12/25/13 and stay 3 nights or more at a AAA Four Diamond Award® Deluxe On-site Hotel at Universal Orlando® Resort and additionally receive:

KIDS EAT FREE*** at one of the three deluxe Universal Orlando resort hotels, KIDS PLAY FREE^^^ mini-golf at CityWalk’s Hollywood Drive-In Golf

Offer restrictions:   Terms and conditions apply.

HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s13)

All prices, package inclusions & options subject to availability and to change without notice and additional restrictions may apply. Errors will be corrected where discovered, and Universal Orlando and Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations reserve the right to revoke any stated offer and to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions, whether such error is on this website or any print or other advertisement relating to these products and services.