Tag Archives: Avalon Waterways

Planning Around The Holidays

Experience a magical time of Christmas in Europe
Experience a magical time of Christmas in Europe

Hope everyone is in a festive spirit and getting ready for a wonderful holiday! In addition to shopping and trimming the tree, TET has been busy checking out a host of  resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean and learning what’s new out there for couples in love, families looking to spend quality time, destination weddings your guests will never forget, girlfriend getaways, bachelor groups and MORE! To see pictures from our latest trips visit Total Experience Travel’s Facebook page There are plenty of albums to get lost in, and more to come.  Look for Jamaica in January!

Know someone getting engaged? Recommend a trusted travel pro for their honeymoon or destination wedding!
Know someone getting engaged? Recommend a trusted travel pro for their honeymoon or destination wedding planning.

Did you know it’s not only the holidays but, it’s engagement season? More couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentines day, than any other time of year.  Did you also know that more than 70% of couples choose an all-inclusive tropical honeymoon?  As a certified Honeymoon/Destination Wedding Specialist, I CAN tell you why!

 

Whether in the Caribbean or Mexico, there is an all inclusive resort for every style and budget. Ask me which is best for you
Whether in the Caribbean or Mexico, there is an all inclusive resort for every style and budget. Ask me which is best for you.

I will help YOU decide which resort and room is best,  be there for you from research thru return, add personal touches & perks –that only a live trusted agent can! Don’t listen to what those paid advertisements tell you, collaborate with someone you can trust. Pssst- it’s the same cost as doing it all yourself.

Christmastime is about the joy of giving. Give the best gift of all, the gift of travel!  It’s not to early to start planning for next Christmas and not too late to plan for that family Spring Break in 2017.  I have all kinds of wonderful recommendations; something to fit every style.

beaches-this-months-featured-resort-turks-caicos_05
A favorite for FAMILIES and GROUPS – old and young! Books up fast – don’t wait to contact me.

 

 

Ask me about my new favorite family resort.

 

 

New Year's Eve in the Caribbean!
New Year’s Eve in the Caribbean! Don’t wait – contact me today!

 

Or the hottest New Year’s Eve party in the Caribbean! There’s still limited space for 2016 and it’s NOT too early to plan for 2017!

 

 

Still not sure where to go next year – read my latest Travel Tips with info on Alaska, traveling abroad, ship nightlife, and Disney cruises for inspiration.  Then, contact me to start planning! I am specialized in All Inclusive Resorts, Ocean & River Cruises, and Guided Tours because these vacations offer best values and are the kind my family and I love to take!  What I haven’t done personally, my clients or peers have.  In addition to expertise, I’m independent so, can be objective when planning a vacation that’s just right for YOU!  It’s a No Brainer

Chris Rakes - Travel Planner & Honeymoon / Destination Wedding Specialist
Chris Rakes – Travel Planner & Honeymoon / Destination Wedding Specialist

When you are ready to plan, plan with Chris 919.589.2437 / info@totalexperiencetravel.com

Happy Holidays from Total Experience Travel!
Happy Holidays from Total Experience Travel!

 

 

The Lowdown on Tours

Adventure, escorted, hosted, independent; here’s the lowdown on Touring!

Couple touring
Couple touring independently

The advantage is clear: you choose an escorted tour to travel stress free. The tour company handles the transportation, daily sightseeing and the local guides, leaving you to absorb as much of the destination as possible. If this sounds like an appealing way to travel, consider these factors before choosing your tour destination.

Notre Dame, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe -France
Notre Dame, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe -France

V.I.P. Access – Line cutters rejoice! Tour groups are often escorted straight to the main entrances of major attractions and ushered directly inside without waiting in line or having to buy individual tickets.

Themes – Some tours are based around a theme, such as wine, gastronomy, hiking, golf, even the sparkling, seasonal Christmas Markets. If you’re looking to make some new friends who share a common interest, look no further.

Great tours are available for all ages and types of traveler.
Great tours are available for all ages and types of traveler.

Age Range – Escorted tours generally attract seasoned travelers who enjoy hassle-free experiences. If the tour has a high activity level with long hikes, then chances are the average age will be on the south side of 50.

history, art, architecture and more
history, art, architecture and more

Exotic Destinations – Escorted tours are ideal for going more afar than you typically would on your own, to places where the customs and languages are completely foreign and the camaraderie of the tour group is comforting.

local knowledgeable expert & tour guide
local knowledgeable expert & tour guide

Questions Answered – Anytime you experience an international destination, your mind is filled with a thousand questions per minute about all of the new and exotic things you see, hear and smell. Thanks to your local tour guide’s constant presence and regional knowledge, you learn the answers to all of your questions and more.

And, thanks to an expert planner, you are sure to go on a tour that is perfect for you! Don’t wait,  contact Total Experience Travel to start planning.  919.589.2437

Chris Rakes is a River Cruise, Tour and All Inclusive Expert Travel Planner.
Chris Rakes is an independent travel planner and tour expert. http://www.totalexperiencetravel.com

Four Reasons to Try a European River Cruise

 

Reasons to try a river cruise - all inclusive luxury
Reasons to try a river cruise – all inclusive luxury. Photo by Viking River Cruises

Since you are probably tired of hearing me talk about river cruising, I thought I’d share an article I can across by a travel writer and fellow river cruise enthusiast.  With over 15 ocean cruises under his belt, he decided to give river cruising a try. He hesitated giving up his week in the Caribbean or Alaska, but as he sailed down the Danube, he realized that river cruises have some serious advantages. Check out what Simon Duvall had to say.

  1. Genuine Destinations (No Tourist Traps)
Reasons to try a river cruise; genuine destinations including quaint historic villages.
Reasons to try a river cruise; genuine destinations including quaint historic villages. Photo by Viking River Cruises

On Europe’s rivers, you’re traveling through the heart of countries like Germany, Austria and Hungary, visiting real villages, towns, and cities where people live. There’s no tourist infrastructure like you’d find in Rome, Florence and Athens, but the small towns have a much more intimate and authentic feel. Even with the growing popularity of river cruises, these places still maintain their genuine character.

I traveled in December, so I had the opportunity to visit multiple Christmas Markets during my trip. These weren’t fake shopping villages set up for the benefit of tourists—locals actually gather there to do their holiday shopping or meet with friends for holiday cheer and revelry.

  1. More Time to Explore
Reasons to try a river cruise ; cultural immersion and longer time in port
Reasons to try a river cruise ; cultural immersion and longer time in port. Photo by Viking River Cruises

When you only have a single day to explore a port, time is an extremely valuable commodity. On a river cruise, you’ll dock right in the heart of small towns and villages, which means less time spent in line and on buses and more time exploring. When a longer bus ride is necessary, the ship typically moves to meet your group further up or down river, so you only have to travel one way.

You’ll have plenty of time for independent touring and to break away from the group even when on organized excursions. On an evening tour to Sharding, Austria, for example, a friend and I were able to skip a portion of the organized tour and spend a little extra time in the village’s charming Christmas Market. The guide was helpful and provided us with the meeting point and directions we’d need to rejoin our small group. When’s the last time you tried that on an ocean shore excursion with 75 of your closest friends?

Rarely does an ocean cruising itinerary offer “scenic cruising” from the ship itself (cruises to Alaska are a notable exception), but on Europe’s rivers, scenic cruising is stock-in-trade. You’ll be sailing among some of the most beautiful scenery and most charming towns you’ll ever see, and you’ll have a great view of the nearby shore right from your own balcony.

  1. Smaller Ships = Better Service and No Crowds
Reasons to try a river cruise; service, staff, space.
Reasons to try a river cruise; service, staff, space, etc. Photo by Viking River Cruises

The conventional wisdom is that you’ll get better service on smaller ships, and my experience has found that to be true. Most river vessels carry less than 200 passengers, and the small size means the staff and crew learn your name right away. There wasn’t a time I wasn’t personally greeted when walking up to (or even walking by) the guest service desk.

The ships themselves are so small it’s impossible to get lost and you’re literally just steps from everything on the ship, but they’re not so small that you’ll feel cramped. The spacious outdoor terraces bring the lounge outside, and the open sun deck on top of the ships has plenty of room to roam. On our Christmas Market cruise it was too cold and windy to take full advantage of the outdoor spaces, but even then, the ship never felt crowded or overwhelming.

  1. Almost Everything is Included
Reasons to try a river cruise; quality food, wine, excursions, service, scenery and more!
Reasons to try a river cruise; quality food, wine, excursions, service, scenery and more! Photo by Viking River Cruises

Figuring out what’s included on your cruise isn’t always a straightforward task, and no likes doing the math to see how many drinks they’ll need to have a day to get their money’s worth from a beverage package. The different river cruise lines include different things but, your travel agent can help you figure out when you can expect at least one shore excursion in every port, gourmet open seating dining, wine and beer with dinner and daily entertainment and port briefings onboard the ship.

Chris biking in Bernkastel, Germany
Chris biking in Bernkastel. crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

If you haven’t you should.  

Contact river cruise  enthusiast & expert Chris Rakes to start planning your European river cruise today!

 919.589.2437