Tag Archives: luxury all inclusive cruises

Tips From Master Mixologist On #1 Luxury Cruise Line

Originally published by Crystal Cruises.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT INCLUDED ON A LUXURY CRUISE!

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!

 

 

A Luxury Cruise May Not Be Out of Reach

Luxury cruises offer intimate comfortable settings
Luxury cruises offer intimate comfortable settings

A luxury cruise may not be as far out of reach as you think.  I would never say that luxury cruises are cheap, but when you factor in all of the money you spend on drinks, dining, and other onboard expenses, luxury cruises offer excellent value and not as expensive as you think.

If you’ve ever shopped around for a cruise, you probably stumbled across a few luxury cruises at some point only to immediately change pages after you saw that the fares were as high as $500+ per night, compared to $100-$300 on more popular mass market cruise lines (ex. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian).

Obviously, you’re never going to sail on a luxury line for the price of an inside or oceanview cabin — I’m good at finding deals, but no one is that good. Still, when you compare the prices of similar accommodations (suites) on larger mainstream ships and add in all of the extra expenses premium and luxury lines include, you end up with a very surprising picture.

In the breakdown below, cruises from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Oceania, and Regent are compared. All sailings are roundtrips from Miami.  Note: Cruise fares can vary widely (even on the same line), but this sample is representative of the offerings from their respective lines. Onboard expenses are approximated based on the spending habits of a typical cruiser.

Caribbean mass market vs luxury cruise comparison
Caribbean mass market vs luxury cruise comparison

Luxury cruise cost comparison Caribbean * Air pricing is from JFK airport. ** Roundtrip taxi from MIA to the cruise port. *** Based on 1 excursion per port per day @ $150. Oceania includes 4 excursions. **** Based on $35/night for 6 nights. ***** Celebrity offers $150 onboard credit, which we applied to the offset specialty dining cost.

Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? For a comparable experience on Royal Caribbean, you’ll have to pay close to $50 more per night, and a whopping $400 more per night on Celebrity. While the base fares are somewhat comparable, the fact that premium and luxury lines include most (if not all) onboard expenses, airfare, and shore excursions makes them remarkably less expensive in the long run. Sure, some cruisers may be able to trim down the overall cost by purchasing cheaper shore excursions or not buying a WiFi or beverage package, but it’s not going to have a huge effect on the overall results.

To be thorough, a few Mediterranean cruises being offered by the same lines were also compared. All trips are sailings from Barcelona to Venice, except Royal Caribbean which is a roundtrip from Barcelona.

Mediterranean mass market vs luxury cruise comparison
Mediterranean mass market vs luxury cruise comparison

Luxury cruise cost comparison Caribbean * Air pricing is from JFK airport.  ** Based on 1 excursion per port per day @ $150. Oceania includes 4 excursions.  *** Based on $35/night for 6 nights.  **** Celebrity offers $150 onboard credit, which we applied to offset the specialty dining cost.

In this case, Regent is actually the cheapest line! With this in mind, it’s not a stretch to say that if you’re looking at the higher-end options for cabins, there’s a good chance it might be cheaper to sail on a luxury line.

Quality, service, unique experiences and a relaxing vacation
Quality, service, unique experiences and a relaxing vacation

To be fair, it’s worth noting that there is far more to do on your average mass market/mainstream ship (ex. Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian). When you factor the sheer variety of dining options and onboard activities, plus extensive child care programs and Broadway-caliber entertainment, it makes sense that you might have to pay more for similar accommodations. But if you’re looking to sail in a suite (or even a balcony in concierge class), have impeccable service, visit smaller ports, eat excellent food in a comfortable intimate setting, and you don’t need flashy stage shows or 30 different specialty restaurants, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be considering luxury and premium cruises.

Chris Rakes, River & Ocean Cruise Expert
Chris Rakes, River & Ocean Cruise Expert

 

Looking to plan your next cruise?  Ask me about luxury cruising and it’s all inclusive features – 919.589.2437 / chrisrakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

How to Pick the Best Cruise?

Which is the right cruise for you?
Which is the right cruise for you?

Choosing the right cruise can be cumbersome.  Commercials draw many in but, some lines don’t advertise at all.  Each line and ship has its own personality. Much will depend on your travel style and interests.  Work with a travel planner to help you decipher which is best for you and your family.  It’s free, it’s personal and they can objectively help you choose the cruise for you. To give you some things to think about before you contact your personal Travel Pro, below is a comparison for some different options.

Azamara Club Cruises

All Inclusive Cruise
All Inclusive Cruise

Size: Small
Cost: Moderate
Style: Couples, luxury
Activity Highlights: Cruises to locales in the Far East and South America feature lots of long 2- to 3-day stays so you get an in-depth look.
Food Highlights: No end-of-cruise surprises — fares include alcohol, as well as soft drinks and tips.  Considerations: Homogenous passenger profile means you’ll be cruising with an active but older crowd.

Carnival Cruise Line

8.14.16 3Size: Large
Cost: Low
Style: Party, couples, family
Activity Highlights: Some ships may quiet down before midnight, but nightlife on these vessels lasts into the morning. Drop-off kid programming starts at age 2 (most start at 3), allowing parents to take a night off.  Food Highlights: We love the 24-hour pizza and (on some ships) the Indian food in the buffet Lido deck restaurants and the new (complimentary) burgers by Food Network’s Guy Fieri.  Considerations: These ships are loud (décor-wise and in terms of volume) and lack learning opportunities.

Celebrity Cruises

8.14.16 4Size: Large
Cost: Moderate
Style: Couples, family, learning
Activity Highlights: Edgy offerings include art tours using iPad devices, Apple stores, and outdoor lawns (covered with real grass) for picnics. Spas are both large and well-designed.
Food Highlights: Chic bars serve molecular gastronomy cocktails.Specialty restaurants include creative Qsine, which serves sushi pops and has menus on iPad devices. Considerations: Lots of things cost extra, from the spa’s Thalassotherapy pool and steam room to Lawn Club cabanas and some classes.

Costa Cruises  

8.14.16 5Size: Medium, large
Cost: Low
Style: Couples, party, family
Activity Highlights: International passenger mix adds flavor to the cruise experience. Lively audience participation includes contests and costume parties, creating a fun atmosphere.
Food Highlights: A focus on Italian food the way real Italians like it: thin-crust pizza without excessive sauce and cheese, and pastas tossed in rich sauces.  Considerations: Announcements in multiple languages can get long and tedious.

Crystal Cruises

8.14.16 6Size: Medium
Cost: Moderate, expensive
Style: Couples, luxury, learning, family
Activity Highlights: Wraparound promenade deck for jogging and strolling, as well as tiered stern decks for quiet sunbathing and wake views, are rare features. Free classes range from languages to computer skills, and guest lectures fill sea days with celeb sightings and food for thought.
Food Highlights: Delicious food includes sushi in the Nobu Matsuhisa-helmed restaurant and homemade pastas in the Italian specialty spot. Wines, liquors, and soft drinks bundled with fares are convenient. Considerations: Service is great, food is impressive. If you have the money for these cruises, they’re a fabulous choice. (We’re still trying to come up with something negative to say…)

Cunard Line  

8.14.16 7Size: Large
Cost: Moderate
Style: Couples, learning, family
Activity Highlights: Great lectures, the biggest libraries at sea, and impressive art and memorabilia collections make the ships as much of a learning opportunity as the destinations. The drop-off nursery for babies is a surprising perk on ships otherwise popular with older cruisers.Food Highlights: Afternoon tea includes scones with proper clotted cream. The grand 2-story main dining rooms are the most elegant grand restaurants at sea. Considerations: Nightlife can be a real yawner; no one seems to stay up past 10 pm.

Disney Cruise Line

8.14.16 8Size: Large
Cost: Moderate, expensive
Style: Family
Activity Highlights: Amazing kids facilities and large cabins make traveling with the whole brood a breeze; high-quality stage productions blow us away. Calling in Castaway Cay, the line’s private isle, is like visiting a resort for the day. Food Highlights: Rotating dining program lets you take your waiters with you; Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy win over adult foodies with upscale French restaurant, Remy. Considerations: High rollers may miss not having a casino onboard. On sold-out cruises, the packed pool deck is a mob scene, with kids elbow to elbow in the water.

Holland America Line 

8.14.16 9Size: Medium
Cost: Low, moderate
Style: Couples, family, learning
Activity Highlights: Extras include free movies in a real theater, impressive cooking classes, and the best combination Internet café/onboard library at sea. Food Highlights: Look for free canapés in bars before dinner. Poolside lunch buffets (mussels and crab legs!) are impressive at this price point. Considerations: Sleepy nightlife means you might be hanging with the staff after dinner, since other guests go to bed early.

MSC Cruises  

8.14.16 mscSize: Medium, large
Cost: Low
Style: Couples, party, family
Activity Highlights: Low fares are sometimes shockingly low ($399 per person per week?). Kids under age 11 always sail free in the same cabin with parents. Med cruises are offered year-round, so you can visit in the less crowded off-season.
Food Highlights: Dining options include an Italian venue with a slow-food ethos, where you can sample locally sourced and produced food. Considerations: The international passenger mix means there isn’t always the community feeling you get on other lines, since people speak different languages.

Norwegian Cruise Line 

8.14.16 10Size: Large
Cost: Low
Style: Couples, party, family
Activity Highlights: Edgy entertainment includes improvisational comedy and family-friendly Blue Man Group shows. Nickelodeon characters (think Dora and Sponge Bob) delight little ones, while everyone else has a go at water slides and the trampoline. Studio cabins wow singles. Food Highlights: Open-seating specialty dining options number 10+ on most ships and include a Brazilian steakhouse and Chinese noodle bar, and Ocean Blue gets rave reviews on Norwegian Breakaway. Considerations: Standard cabins are among the smallest at sea.

Oceania Cruises  

Food, wine & pampering
Food, wine & pampering

Size: Small, medium
Cost: Expensive
Style: Couples, luxury
Activity Highlights: Standard outside and balcony cabins on the newest ships, Marina and Riviera, are super roomy. Design is elegant (picture boutique hotels rather than Las Vegas casinos). Cooking schools include plenty of do-it-yourself workstations. Food Highlights: Newer ships have a whopping 9 dining venues (unheard of for ships of their modest size). Seven are complimentary, and all have lots of tables for 2. Jacques Pepin’s restaurant is sure to impress. Soft drinks and water are included.
Considerations: Nightlife sometimes peters out before it even gets dark.

Princess Cruises

8.14.16 12Size: Large
Cost: Moderate
Style: Couples, family
Activity Highlights: Outdoor spaces include wraparound promenade decks (perfect for jogging) and an adult-only sunbathing area. Food Highlights: You’ll find excellent buffet spreads at breakfast, lunch and dinner; pizza made from scratch is offered by the slice poolside and in pies in (complimentary) Alfredo’s restaurant. Considerations: The tiered balcony design on half the fleet means you can peek on your neighbors below — so much for privacy.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises  

All Inclusive luxury w/ first class air
All Inclusive luxury w/ first class air

Size: Small
Cost: Expensive
Style: Couples, luxury, learning
Activity Highlights: All-inclusive fares set an industry standard, covering shore excursions, flights, airport transfers, and a free pre-cruise hotel night. Formal nights are optional, creating a more laid-back vibe. Even standard suites are large. Food Highlights: The 4 to 5 complimentary restaurants include a steakhouse and an Italian venue. All-inclusive alcohol includes a bar setup in your cabin. Considerations: Summer and holiday cruises can result in 100+ kids on small ships not built for them. The result during those times: packed pools.

Royal Caribbean International

8.14.16 14Size: Large
Cost: Low
Style: Couples, party, family
Activity Highlights: Climbing walls, ice skating rinks, and zip lines keep kids and grown-ups busy, and the new Quantum of the Seas will offer skydiving and bumper cars as well as the line’s first nursery for babies. Broadway productions include “Chicago,” “Saturday Night Fever,” and “Hairspray.” Food Highlights: Johnny Rockets diner is well worth the $4.95 cover charge — for the food and the relatively intimate surroundings. Considerations: Cabins are tight, especially on the older ships; food in main dining rooms can be underwhelming.

Seabourn Cruise Line

All Inclusive Luxury
All Inclusive Luxury

Size: Small
Cost: Expensive
Style: Couples, luxury, learning<
Activity Highlights: Optional formal nights mean you don’t have to wear a jacket and tie, and all-inclusive pricing means you don’t have to sign a check every time you have a drink. Food Highlights: Gourmet dining includes the impressive Restaurant 2, serving small plates over many courses. The fresh fruit smoothies and sherbet are refreshing and healthy.
Considerations: Passengers are wealthy, well traveled, and older.

SeaDream Yacht Club

8.14.16 16Size: Small
Cost: Expensive
Style: Couples, luxury
Activity Highlights: Adult toys range from mountain bikes to Wii consoles, keeping the vibe playful. The water sports platform offers easy access to kayaking, sailing, water scootering, and more. Pricing is all-inclusive, and service is over the top: 95 crew cater to 112 guests, an impressive ratio. Food Highlights: The Champagne and caviar beach parties are the elegant, adult version of a fun college party. Diverse menus in the 2 restaurants include Japanese, raw food, and pan-Asian dishes. Considerations: You won’t find one balcony, not even in penthouse suites.

Silversea Cruises

8.14.16 17Size: Small
Cost: Expensive
Style: Couples, luxury, learning
Activity Highlights: Lots of 7-night cruise options around the world, plus Galapagos cruises offered year-round, give luxury seekers choices. Walk-in closets, marble-clad bathrooms with separate shower and tub, Belgian pillow chocolates, and Pratesi linens are included in the (all-inclusive) pricing.
Food Highlights: Impressive cuisine includes a pan-Asian restaurant and an art deco-style supper club serving small plate dishes on Silver Spirit. Considerations: Older clientele, which tends to retire to bed early. Although this is the line hosting the U.S. Olympic basketball team and Coach K in Rio!

Windstar Cruises  

Barefoot luxury & casual
Barefoot luxury & casual

Size: Small
Cost: Moderate
Style: Couples, offbeat
Activity Highlights: The wonderfully casual atmosphere includes sail-away sunset barbecues on deck, a no-jackets-required dress code, and a lively water sports platform.
Food Highlights: Soft drinks and bottled water are included in fares, so you won’t feel nickeled and dimed.
Considerations: These yacht-style cruises are best for outdoorsy and casual types; others may miss some of the formalities.

Travel Planner and Honeymoon & Group Specialist
Chris Rakes – Travel Planner and Cruise Expert

You can look at brochures and websites and still not know how to tell the cruise lines apart.  Plan with a personal, professional travel planner and cruise expert. 919.589.2437 / crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

Innovating for the environment

The cruise industry is constantly innovating and investing in new environmental technologies, including advanced wastewater treatment systems, exhaust gas cleaning systems, efficient lighting and solar panels. In addition to investing $1 billion in new environmental technologies, CLIA Member cruise lines are leading the maritime industry in advancing sustainable policies and sharing best practices.

Nature's beauty
Nature’s beauty

The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is fully committed to the safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew. They are firmly anchored in innovation, transparency, sustainability and accountability. Constantly working to raise awareness about the cruise industry’s environmental stewardship and dedication to the wellbeing of all on board, I want to help them spread the word.

Responsible cruise lines protect the environment
Responsible cruise lines protect the environment

Today, I’d like to bring to your attention what they are doing to minimize impact on the environment while making the greatest impact on the economy.  The following quotes pertain to cruise lines environmental stewardship in the news.  To learn more, click here

“Travel and tourism organizations that rely on our planet’s splendors know that it is in their interest to protect the environment, and cruise lines are at the forefront of corporate environmental stewardship.”

“Cruise lines have spent large amounts of time and money cleaning up their act, and now some are helping to bring sustainable practices to a wider group of players in the travel industry.”

Chris Rakes; All Inclusive Land & Sea Expert and Honeymoon, Destination Wedding Specialist
Chris Rakes; All Inclusive Land & Sea Expert and Honeymoon, Destination Wedding Specialist

Easy is relaxing and relaxing is enjoyable; plan your cruise with an experienced trained travel professional.

919.589.2437 / crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

GAME ON – Changing the game of the all inclusive

Christine Rakes OF Total Experience Travel ATTENDS SANDALS RESORTS’ LUXURY INCLUDED® WORSKSHOP IN Cary, NC

Chris Rakes - certified Sandals & Beaches Resorts specialist
Chris Rakes – certified @Sandals & @Beaches Resorts specialist

Raleigh, NC 6/29/16– On June 21, 2016, Christine Rakes of Total Experience Travel participated in an intensive travel agent workshop administered by Unique Vacations, Inc. (UVI), an affiliate of the worldwide sales and marketing representative for Sandals, Beaches, and Grand Pineapple Beach resorts. Each workshop – The Closer You Look the Better we Look… –offers detailed information on Sandals Resorts International extensive portfolio – comprised of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts, and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts – as well as an overview of new developments, services and amenities. All who participate in the workshop are eligible to become Certified Sandals Specialists (CSS), an elite group of travel agents recognized by Unique Vacations, Inc. and the travel industry as experts in the worlds only Luxury Included® Resorts.

Beaches!
Beaches!

According to Chris of TET, there is a serious job at hand, understanding the nuances of each brand within the Sandals Resorts portfolio which is critical to her customers.  “My clients rely on me to help them make the best vacation choices so that every hard-earned dollar they spend is giving them true value,” said Rakes.  “I am thrilled to have been a part of this workshop. I have come away with a wealth of knowledge. My clients want to feel confident that the information they receive is based on expert knowledge and now, my Certified Sandals Specialist designation does just that.”

Need help finding this spot?
Need help finding this spot?

According to Gary Sadler, Senior Vice President of Sales at UVI, relying on a CSS travel agent is one of the best ways consumers can get the most out of their Caribbean vacation.  “Vacations are memories in the making,” said Sadler.  “You don’t get a second chance to celebrate the perfect honeymoon or family reunion. It has to be just right. CSS agents such as Christine are helping us to match customers to their ideal vacation experience. We congratulate Christine for participating in our workshop, and wish her the very best.”

Chris Rakes of Total Experience Travel (TET) is a certified @Sandals Resorts Specialist and valued partner
Chris Rakes of Total Experience Travel (TET) is a certified @Sandals @Beaches Resorts Specialist and a valued partner

 

Contact Chris today to plan your best all inclusive vacation yet! 919.589.2437

 

Top 5 Reasons to Sail Alaska in All-Inclusive Luxury

Alaska is a pristine wilderness with natural wonders that will take your breath away. From a spectacular, up-close view of the glistening ice towers that make up the mighty Mendenhall Glacier to relaxing amidst the rustic charm and Alaskan hospitality of George Inlet Lodge enjoying a delicious crab feast in Ketchikan, 2016 is the year to sail Alaska in all-inclusive luxury.

Below, we share our top 5 reasons to sail Alaska this summer.

No 1.
All-Inclusive Luxury

Alaska's majestic beauty
Alaska’s majestic beauty

The best way to enjoy the moments that matter most is to allow us to take care of every detail. With FREE Roundtrip Air, FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions, FREE Unlimited Wifi, FREE Unlimited Beverages, FREE Open Bars and Lounges and FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities, you can enjoy an unforgettable journey to Alaska where everything is included, without exception and without compromise.

No 2.
Best Value

Alaska's wildlife
Alaska’s wildlife

Get the most value out of your luxurious voyage to Alaska’s pristine glaciers and charming towns with our Sale Into Spring offer. Enjoy up to a $600 Shipboard Credit that you can use toward our premium amenities, such as a relaxing body treatment at the exquisite onboard Canyon Ranch SpaClub®, elegant gifts from our boutique shops and rare selections from our signature wine collection.

No 3.
Free Unlimited Shore Excursions

Alaska's exciting free excursions
Alaska’s exciting FREE excursions

With more than 40 FREE shore excursions to choose from, you truly can see it all from Seward to Vancouver. From a nature hike through the Tongass National Forest, to an unforgettable walk through Butchart Gardens, you will create endless memories during your voyage. In Skagway, climb almost 3,000 feet in just 20 miles during an exhilarating ride aboard the White Pass and Yukon Railroad through the Klondike. Become absorbed into a rip-roaring lumberjack competition while in Ketchikan and in Sitka embark on an ocean rafting adventure off of the volcanic coastline of Kruzof Island, where you can get an up-close view of towering cliffs where sea birds nest and fly into caves.

No. 4
The Most Luxurious Ships in Alaska

Alaska's most luxurious ships
Alaska’s most luxurious ships

Sail aboard all-suite, all-balcony –  most luxurious ships in Alaska and be enveloped in exquisite comforts. Watch whales breach from the privacy of your suite’s balcony. Relish the onboard ambiance that is so spaciously intimate, you never have to wait in line for anything. Indulge in being pampered by our onboard Chefs, and sip on exquisite wines, paired perfectly by our Sommelier. Delight in the convenience of FREE Unlimited Wifi throughout the ship and instantly share photos of your unforgettable summer with your friends and family back home. And for the younger members of your family, the Youth Programs offer FREE specialized activities supervised by a staff of experienced and enthusiastic youth counselors. There is something for everyone.

No. 5
Because You Deserve It

You deserve it.
You deserve it.

You deserve the very best. You will enjoy just as many enriching encounters aboard as you do ashore, from the company of like-minded luxury travelers to being pampered by a professional staff, you really can have it all. Expand your horizon by attending riveting lectures that bring the region to life in spectacular fashion, whether it is Terry Breen narrating your journey through the Inside Passage, or a Smithsonian Journeys Expert hosting insightful discussions.

Chris Rakes, River & Luxury Cruise, All Inclusive Expert
Chris Rakes, River & Luxury Cruise, All Inclusive Expert

This is your next favorite summer vacation.

Contact this travel and luxury cruise expert to start planning, today!  919.589.2437 / crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

In partnership with Regent Seven Seas Cruises

 

How to Become a Better Smartphone Photographer

smartphone photography tips
smartphone photography tips

Want to increase those likes, shares and comments on your vacation photos this year? Instead of packing an expensive camera, grab your smartphone and follow these easy tips and tricks from the pros.

  • Brighter is better
    Natural light is your friend. To get a great photo, put yourself in a position to get the best shot. If you’re indoors, set up your shot next to a large window. However, if you’re outside in the mid afternoon, direct sunlight can be too harsh on your subject. Look for creative ways to shade your subject to keep your photo balanced. You can also aim to shoot outside during the fabled “golden hour”- during sunrise and sunset.
  • Avoid too much zoom
    Extreme zooming on any subject can create an unwanted grain to any photo. If you need to zoom, wait until you already have the image you want and then zoom and crop in the editing phase.
  • Focus is key
    Your camera’s autofocus could be doing your photos more harm than good. Luckily, most smart phones allow you to pinpoint your photo’s focus directly from your palm. Set up your shot, and then touch and hold the main focal point on your screen until you see the yellow Auto Exposure/Auto Focus Lock appear. Take your photo as normal, and the final image should clearly highlight your subject.
  • Polish polish polish
    Once you’ve selected your favorites, it’s time to make them shine. There are dozens of options and free apps for your phone that will give your photos a professional edge, here are a few.

    • VSCO Cam: This app comes with its own filters and allows you to subtly adjust photo elements. For example, if you take a photo that’s too dark, this app can help lighten the photo without retaking it.
    • Snapseed: Auto-correct photos with a tap, or enhance them yourself with this app. This app also offers filters and special effects to polish your photos.
    • Pic Stitch: Make your own tiny collages with this easy-to-use app. It’s as simple as choosing your photos, choosing your layout, and sharing on social media. This is a great way to share several images without overcrowding your followers’ feeds.

    While filters and special effects offer exciting details to your photos, take care not to go overboard. Sometimes less is more.

Chris is a River & Luxury Cruise, Hosted Tour, All Inclusive Expert and Honeymoon, Destination Wedding Specialist
Chris is a River & Luxury Cruise, Hosted Tour, All Inclusive Expert and Honeymoon, Destination Wedding Specialist

For more tips around river & luxury cruising, hosted tours and all inclusive resort vacations — Contact an Expert.

Chris Rakes 919.589.2437 / crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

For The Health-Conscious Traveler

Healthy Cruise Options

Going on a cruise doesn’t have to mean leaving your healthy habits at home.  From specialty cruises focused on well being to rejuvenating onboard spa treatments, there has never been more options to stay fit and healthy while traveling on a cruise vacation. Cruise lines today offer a variety of options that allow you to eat healthy, stay active and enjoy true relaxation.
  1. Make Nutritious Choices: Amidst the creamy pastas and delectable desserts, there are more healthy cuisine options aboard a cruise  than ever before. Travelers can opt for lighter plated
    Healthy Food Options
    Healthy Food Options

    choices to accommodate every diet from gluten-free and low-carb to vegan and buffets that are full of locally-sourced fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Some best choices:

  • AvalonWaterways helps passengers stay healthy and hydrated with fruit-infused waters offered throughout their ships, helping travelers boost daily antioxidant intake.
  • Cruisers can opt for spa cuisine, Celebrity offers a menu created in collaboration with Canyon Ranch that uses quality carbs, a balance of protein, healthy fats and is free of artificial sweeteners.
  • Princess Cruises offers diners lighter, healthful choices at every meal complete with caloric values so it is easy to stay mindful.

2. Get Up and Get Moving:  Cruising doesn’t have to be about lazing

Biking between the river and vineyards in Europe
Biking between the river and vineyards in Europe

around the pool.  Cruise lines today offer some of the best fitness programs and activities for staying active. In addition to modern fully equipped gyms, jogging tracks and numerous fitness classes, you will find ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, bowling alleys and boxing rings.  A simpler way, and my family’s favorite for getting a little extra exercise is to take the stairs instead of the elevator. More favorites:

  • Norwegian Cruise Line brings some of the most sought after land-based fitness options to sea, including FlyWheel, boxing, yoga,TRX and bootcamp.
  • Those looking to step outside of the gym can make the most of cruise decks for morning walks or jogs, as well as find active ways to see the sights while in port. For example, AmaWaterways carries 25 complimentary bicycles aboard their European shipsthat cruisers can use to explore the scenes independently or on escorted bike tours.  Biking in the Moselle valley along the river in Germany was a highlight for me  on our river cruise.
  • At you ports of call, choose fun and active shore excursions — like hiking  or kayaking around an destination.  Snorkel instead of lye on the beach.  Two things I’ll never forget;  hiking the NaPali Coast and snorkeling off Hawaii’s Big Island with my daughter.

3. Soak, Scrub & Sparkle: Everyone deserves a bit of pampering and

Pamper yourself with luxurious spa options
Pamper yourself with luxurious spa options

there’s no better place to indulge than on a cruise where some of the most luxurious spa treatments can be found on deck.

  • Princess Lotus Spa offers high-end treatments for hair, skin and body, including seawater hydrotherapy, ceramic lounges modeled after Turkish baths.  Holland America Line’s Greenhouse Spa & Salon offer treatments that blend exotic cultures including Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Thai Herbal Poultice Massages.

4. Enlist the Experts: Many cruise lines have top healthy living

Yoga on deck
Yoga on deck

experts and professionals available for passengers, ranging from personal trainers and spa specialists to chefs focused on healthy cuisine.

  • Travelers can surround themselves with experts on specialty wellness and healthy living cruises, such as Avalon Waterways’ Wellness River Cruises that boast world-renowned health and fitness experts and outdoor activities like yoga. Passengers can also attend educational lectures with healthy living takeaways.
  • Star Clippers Cruise Line offers expert-led seminars on a variety of wellness topics.

5. Relax! Relaxation is the key to overall well being, and cruising

Relaxed & Happy Couple Onboard
Relaxed & Happy Couple Onboard

offers travelers a truly stress-free experience. Cruising allows travelers to unpack their bags and settle in which means there’s more time to meditate in the sunshine and breathe in the salt water air. Stress-free planning and all-inclusive travel make for a relaxed, at peace traveler. Vacations are best spent enjoying new destinations and loved ones, so relax. Soak in the sights, recharge and enjoy a cruise!

 For more information about healthy cruising and to plan your most relaxing vacation, contact me today! 919.589.2437 / crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

Chris Rakes; Luxury & River Cruise Expert and Honeymoon, Destination Wedding Specialist
Chris Rakes; Luxury & River Cruise Expert and Honeymoon, Destination Wedding Specialist