Oceania Cruises

The thought of sailing away overcomes me in weather like this. I can imagine myself sipping coffee on a balcony, scanning the horizon for dolphins and waiting for the next port.

A cruise is a wonderful way to cross off several destinations (like Caribbean Islands, or Greek Islands) without having the expense to fly to one island at a time.  This is definitely how I hope to do the ABC islands someday soon. (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao)

This week, Oceania (Cruise Line – The luxury division of Norwegian Cruise Lines) caught my eye. They are offering some outstanding deals.  The great thing about these ships is that they are small. 700 passengers or less, feels like a vacation, not like a floating city.

Oceania has just 4 ships in the fleet, and the “Riviera” often makes the top 8 list that Cruise Critic puts out for the Best Luxury Cruises.

The Riviera, does one cruise from Montreal to Miami in late October. It’s a 14 day voyage as shown here.  But, do look at all their European offerings and transatlantic voyages too. Maybe something will catch your eye. (I’m after the Miami to New York cruise that circles the southern Caribbean. I could get my ABCs and more!)

To avoid sticker shock from some of the brochure prices, do look for specials for Canadian Residents, or for particular cruises. Or ask your favourite travel agent for help. There are numerous offers that bring the prices right down, sometimes a 40% discount or more, you just need to know where to look.

Which cruise catches your eye?

 

Air Miles & Vacation Packages

Starting January 8th, 2019 Air Miles collectors will now be able to easily purchase their vacation packages online. Air Miles has entered into partnership with online Canadian travel agency RedTag.ca and has assigned a dollar value to miles.

Almost as straightforward as using a gift card  users should be able to pay for the vacation of their choosing with Air Miles. As I understand it, purchases can be made in whole or in part with Air Miles and the balance paid by credit card.

Air Miles will be valued at 909 Air Miles = $100  towards a vacation package. Therefore a $3000 vacation would cost 27,270 Dream Miles. Or a modest, and well timed vacation to Las Vegas, for 2 adults could cost as little as 9090 Air Miles.

Air Miles used to pay for vacation packages must be redeemed through RedTag.ca and can not be redeemed over the phone or at a local travel agency.

Air Miles can be collected through numerous retailers. Those Air Miles can be collected in two categories: Dream Miles (for travel, merchandise etc) and Cash Miles (for money off groceries, gas etc at point of sale.)

Visit Airmiles.ca to learn more.

Anywhere warm!

The least effort I have ever put into planning a trip was going to Bermuda.

It was the last week of February about 4 or 5 years ago. I was supposed to be starting work for the season, but the weather wasn’t co-operating. If fact it was the worst weather, -35C. This meant zero chance of me starting or even considering working at opening an ice cream store for “spring.” The forecast was awful looking for at least the week ahead. I couldn’t be housebound any longer. I HAD to get out. Get away.

I had travel points, Aeroplan, to be specific. Not a lot, but enough. I literally called Aeroplan and asked the customer service agent “where can I go tomorrow with XX number of points.” Her reply was…. not tomorrow, but Wednesday I can get you on a plane out of Winnipeg and off to Belize, Bermuda or (Sarasota) Florida.

Since I knew nothing about any of the 3 destinations, it was like picking a prize door. So I took my lucky number, 2, and choose Bermuda. I booked that ticket. 4 nights in Bermuda.

Next up, I needed a hotel. I turned to Air Miles and cashed in for the Fairmont Southhampton. It was set on a golf course and had a private beach, that’s all I needed to know. Booked it.

This was actually my first out of country solo trip. I didn’t have any time to think about it. I can’t even remember how I broke the news to my husband. Probably something like…. “I hate this #^&*@@#** weather. I’ve got to get out. Back in 5 days. Good luck with the kids.” Seriously… cabin fever, makes you crazy.

Bermuda weather wasn’t glorious or “caribbean” at the end of February, but it was about 18C which was a literal 50+ degree difference from what I was leaving. Bermudians would tell you that it’s never Caribbean… it’s mid-atlantic. It was definitely good enough.

I ate the regional food, drank the rum (Gosling’s Dark) and stuck pretty close to the hotel. The private beach was too cool for swimming, but absolutely perfect for walks and listening to the ocean. The sand is, indeed, pink. Or a pinkish beige, depending on where you are and the way the sunshine hits it. The water is blue or turquoise and it is truly refreshing. Bermuda is not the kind of place you head to for a hot, all-inclusive beach vacation. But it is definitely a great place to thaw out.

Stressing yourself out of the moment

Maybe you can relate… Have you ever been somewhere on vacation but you can’t really remember much of anything? Details are foggy and remembrances are vague, but you were not under the influence of alcohol or anything other than stress.  Well, I’ve been there and frankly I don’t recommend it. If you read to the end, I’ll offer a few suggestions on how to vacation with less stress. But first, the story and why this topic came up.

I was walking around a small rural cemetery just this past weekend. I was looking for my mother’s headstone and initially I couldn’t find it. That was frustrating, because of course, I had stood at that very gravesite. I tried to think back, but the day she was buried was a complete blur. I was present, I know that, but stress had taken my mind out of the equation, somewhere less painful, I fathom. I can genuinely remember very little about that day, with clarity except for my uncle making a smart remark about my choice of footwear, my Grandmother playing the piano at the reception hall, the candle blowing out at the alter and feeling my mom’s presence when I hugged my great aunt. But where the gravesite was, in the small rural cemetery, I lacked any remembrances.

I sometimes feel this way, overwhelmed with stress, when I travel. Maybe you do too? There is so much planning and pressure and money riding on having a great trip, doing everything on your list and capturing every moment with a photo that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on in the moment. Sometimes there’s so much damn pressure that you just mentally check out.

So, how do we fix this and be more PRESENT and CAPABLE in the moment and able to enjoy our hard earned vacations more?  I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I can make a few suggestions. I invite your comments and suggestions as well. Tell me what works for you.

  1. Delegate. Maybe one of your kids could be the official trip photographer? Take something off your responsibility list, anything.
  2. Stop making lists and “must-do” plans just because some stranger on an Internet forum said “this is the BEST restaurant in Alabama and you’ll never know BBQ if you don’t eat here!”
  3. Schedule free time. Yes, actually. Plan an afternoon or even a day of nothing. Free time where you can follow your whims and just be in the moment. Or even sleep in and get the rest your body and brain craves.
  4. Sit and eat and talk to your companions. No phones allowed at the table.
  5. Make tangible connections. That can be with a person, place or thing. Just make sure to pause long enough so that you can genuinely connect.
  6. Remember that things don’t have to be perfect, to be perfectly wonderful!

3 Tips to a lower price on the vacation you want.

You’ve found the vacation you want, but it’s just a little out of budget. Now what? Here’s a few tips that could potentially save you 10% or more.

  1. Change your dates. Even if it’s one day earlier, or later, it could save you hundreds of dollars. Pro tip: Choose “flexible dates” in your search whenever that’s an option.
  2. Take the long way. Rather than the direct flight, take a look at a flight with a connection. Think of this as talking the bus to work rather than driving yourself. The bus is less expensive, will take longer, and is less glamorous, but you’ll still get there. BUT if it eats up another half day of your vacation, is the lower price worth it?
  3. Look for re-sellers like “Sunquest Vacations.” They don’t operate their own flights, but rather purchase packages from other providers (like Air Canada) and re-sell them. Think of them as the Winners (discount clothes/housewares retailer) of travel packages. They are more likely to cut prices than to sit on inventory they’ve already paid for. They will not have the same wide selection of packages, but what if they actually have the one you want? Same as shopping at Winners…. always worth a look. And lastly, just like at Winners, if you see a deal, GRAB IT. Don’t hesitate. If you go back tomorrow, it’s very likely to be gone… sold to someone else.

Use a travel agent. While there is a service fee attached to using a travel agent, he/she has has access to superior search engines, travel consolidators and the inside scoop on promotions. Using an expert (and paying $40+ service fee)  could genuinely save you hundreds of dollars over booking a standard vacation package yourself.  Think of a travel agent as a coupon…if you have one, you should use it and save yourself some money.

Honeymoon Holiday Bargain

Have you dreamt of a second honeymoon,  or even the first honeymoon that you postponed because life got too busy?

I’ve spied a BARGAIN this coming December. Direct flights from Winnipeg to Cancun, and a week at Secrets The Vine Cancun. In a honeymoon, or master suite, under $5000 per couple.

**Other dates available. Rates will be higher. **

The Master suite is over 1200 square feet with a private balcony overlooking the ocean. Teak furnishings and glorious views.

All taxes, gratuities included. Top shelf spirits, room service & more.

Video tour of the hotel

If you’re interested in booking, please call me at (204) 726-8468, 9-5pm Monday to Friday.  (My direct line at McPhail Travel in Brandon.) You can also email me anytime at Cathie@mcphailtravel.net  I’d love to help you plan your romantic getaway.

 

Date:  September 26th, 2018

Rates quoted are current at time of publication. Rates subject to change or sell out without notice.