Bora Bora & more on a Paul Gauguin Cruise

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A Cruise on MS Paul Gauguin in French Polynesia’s Society Islands is Unforgettable and Completely Unique

Cruising with Paul Gauguin is unique and different in so many ways.

First, there is the size on the ship. With a maximum capacity of 334 passengers and a staff to guest ratio of 1 staff member to every 1.5 guests, the vibe, feel & level of service are a complete departure from what you may have experienced on a larger mass market ship.

The check-in experience was jaw-dropping. Literally, from the time that we arrived at the embarkation pier through the medical screening process** to the greetings, documents, getting a cabin key & making out way to our cabin where our luggage was already in room took approx 22 minutes.  We were enjoying what waited in no time!

 

Compared to a larger ship this is unheard of and a brilliant way to start the cruise off right.

The same convenience is to be enjoyed on a daily basis in catching the tender from ship to pier at each of the destinations experienced. It just couldn’t be more convenient.

True, you will give up a certain amount of diversity in cuisine and entertainment options vs a much larger ship, but the entertainment staff is engaging and authentic. They amplify the experience of the destination beyond just “putting on a show”. Beyond the entertainment staff known as “Le Gauguines”, the access to and the  ability to interact with the chef & other officers is truly a big plus!

Of particular interest while in Taha’a was the carving of the catch of the day – freshly caught Moon Fish was for dinner a couple hours after this video was shot…

As for the itinerary, it is iconic. Bucket List islands such as Tahiti, Bora Bora & Mo’orea as well as off the radar gems like Huahine and Taha’a were included in our itinerary which was the ever-popular Tahiti & Society islands for 7 Nights, but other itineraries a bit longer or incorporating the Cook Islands or the Tuamotus Islands or even Fiji are options as well.

One of the main reasons to choose MS Paul Gauguin is that it offers unmatched access to these iconic destinations. Other ships simply can’t get close enough, but this ship was built for the destination and even includes a watersports marina on the aft of the ship which allows for Stand-up Paddleboarding or Kayaking directly from the ship – and if you are a SCUBA diver then you’re in luck because not only is the team outstanding but the convenience of taking the zodiac from the marina to a dive site usually not more than a 5-10 minute ride is outstanding (as are the dives, with abundant sharks, sea turtles & of course…more!)

 

Beach Party on Private Motu off of Taha’a is an unforgettable Day in Paradise!

One of the highlights of the entire cruise is the beach day on the Paul Gauguin private motu (one of several small islands surrounding the main island) just off the coast of the island of Taha’a on the 2nd full day of the cruise. It’s like you and several dozen of your best new friends arrive at a comfortable paradise waiting with abundant beach chairs in the sun or the shade of hundreds of coconut palms. The cookout is terrific with lots of engagement with Les Gauguines including a demonstration on how to process a coconut by hand (there’s much more to it than you might imagine but it’s easier than you might think) and yes, there is a floating bar which could not be more relaxing…

On to Bora…

Then of course there’s THE most iconic island – Bora Bora. No island conjures up visions of an idyllic paradise quite like Bora Bora and there’s good reason why – it is simply one of, if not THE most beautiful island on the planet. If you enjoy dramatic mountain peaks, crystal blue lagoons and epic skyscapes it’s tough to beat. Whether it’s biking around the island, catching the food truck rodeo for dinner, paddle boarding on another small motu with private beach or simply enjoying the views as you sail away at sunset there are few destinations more memorable.

But Wait, There’s More!

A full day at Huahine followed up with a full day at Taha’a are then topped with 2 full days to experience Bora Bora, but there’s still 2 more full days to experience Mo’orea, which most people tend to agree tops even Bora Bora for sheer beauty on the island.  The view from the top of Magic Mountain is surreal – and the satisfaction of knowing that you hiked it from sea level is a reward in itself!

While the exhilaration of the 45-60 minute hike to the top is worthwhile, the entire thing can be avoided and still not miss a thing with an organized small group guided tour on an ATV or open back jeep with 8 passengers. The excursion stops at Magic Mountain as well as a few stops at Opanohu Bay, Cook Bay, a pineapple plantation (cooler than it sounds), a juice distillery for some tastings and the highlight of the day –  Belvedere Lookout- stunning!

One thing that a short blog post like this can do is to open your eyes to this type of bucket list experience, but one thing this blog post cannot do is come even remotely close to capturing the full experience. French Polynesia’s Society Islands feature unmatched beauty for sure, but the warmth and beauty of the crew and the people who call French Polynesia home is something that must just be experienced for yourself.

When it’s time for you to check this off of your Bucket list then reach out to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad.

Email us

We’re here to help – we have experience that a call center cannot match – we know people – and we work to help make your experiences as memorable as they are seamless.

A Day on Waiheke Island – Wine Tasting & More

By | Adventure, Dining, Family Travel, Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Romance | No Comments

Waiheke Island in New Zealand is a Wine Lover’s Paradise

 

A day on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island is as relaxing as it is beautiful. The gorgeous scenery, combined with a diverse amount of vineyards and dining options along with the welcoming residents combine for a fantastic day trip  from Auckland via ferry, or opt to stay for a few days because 1 day just might not be enough!

On a recent visit to New Zealand we had the good fortune to experience a full day on the island. The day trip was booked with a reliable tour operator that we use for many clients in many destinations. The portal offers terrific access to all sorts of the best day tours & activities across the globe including this one.

Upon departure from Auckland’s main ferry terminal the 45 minute trip across the Hauraki Gulf can be a bit chilly and breezy so determining whether to opt for the very comfortable accommodation in the climate controlled main decks or enjoying the view from the top deck exposed to the elements is a decision to consider from the outset. We opted for the breeze (and breezy it was!). But it greatly enhances the arrival in Matiatia Bay.

Starting out from the ferry terminal it takes just a minute to disembark, then a couple more to find your group for the tour (unless opting for a completely private tour) then you are off to a terrific tour of some of the islands top vineyards for tastings and more.

Our group started out at Stonyridge Vineyards for a brief overview and history of the property courtesy of some of the staff as well as wine tastings along the way.

then is was on to a delightful lunch that far exceeded our expectations outdoors near the olive tree plantation.

Quiche, excellent cheeses & guacamole & homemade chips, more wine….(not pictured – we were hungry)

The exterior at Stonyridge Vineyard

As one of the first vineyards on the island it certainly set some of the standards and some high bars, which we were soon to find out would be exceeded!

After Stonyridge we enjoyed some additional tastings at a nearby olive orchard which featured not only some nice olive oils, but additionally some chutneys and other delights were available for sampling and purchase.

But it was wine that we came for!

So on to Casita Miro

To say that this place was memorable is such an understatement. It is quite obviously a labor of love created and curated by the owners Barnett & Cat Bond. Cat focuses on the award winning restaurant

 

 

While Barnett focuses on the wine. A quick overview of the vineyards and brief history of the property….

 

quickly led to tastings of some of the best wines that we experienced in destination – especially the Madame Rouge, which is both outstanding and unforgettable! (and that’s not easy for me to say, as someone who does not generally care for sweet wines)

 

The Spanish influences and Gaudi inspirations are everywhere beginning with the unmistakably Gaudi-esque retaining wall that greets you upon arrival, throughout the property and on to the tasting bar pictured below…

The visit to Casita Miro was excellent, and if ever I get the opportunity to return for a special dining experience this one is near the top to the to-do list for New Zealand, but as they say on television commercials all too often….but wait, there’s more!

The most talked about and highly regarded vineyards on Waiheke Island has to be Mudbrick.

It was recommended and name dropped by everyone who I spoke to regarding putting this New Zealand experience together, and it did not disappoint.

Well, to be honest there was a bit of disappointment involved, but the lovely staff at Mudbrick had nothing to do with it – it was the weather…gloomy, overcast, hazy, chilly & cool meant that spending an extra couple of hours on the patio to enjoy the sunset was not going to be terrific this day, but maybe next time because if it were clear I can only imagine that the view of the sunset across the bay with Auckland in the distance would be amazing!

Still, the overall ambiance is a cut above.

Mudbrick is not only a terrific place for a small group tour or Cellar Door tasting, and of course an excellent choice for a memorable lunch or special occasion dinner, but as well is a top choice for events such a weddings or corporate events.

Strolling the gardens….

Dining al fresco….

Enjoying a libation….

Mudbrick is a cut above. Next time it will be enjoyed “on the fly” after checking the accuweather forecast!

In the end though, Waiheke is not only about vineyards and wine tastings (although I would be equally happy with a few days here as a few days in Napa & Sonoma), there is more to the destination.

A chill little laid back beach town is how I would describe the primary community of Oneroa. A bit of shopping, a stroll along the beach,

along with hiking, biking, paddleboarding, horseback riding, zip lining & more can help you unwind in this pristine little gem.

When it’s time to talk about incorporating a stop at Waiheke Island into your larger adventure to New Zealand then get with “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for the help you deserve.

We specialize in unforgettable leisure vacations and we are here to help.

Email [email protected] for more

EZTravelPad’s 2019 Photo Contest in on – Now!

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Be a Winner in 2019!

It’s time for our 6th Annual EZTravelPad Photo Contest and you can win one of several prizes to be given away!

 

Based on participation we will be giving away some Starbucks gift cards and other swag for runners up, but the best 2 photos overall (see rules below) will win one of 2 Grand Prizes….each is a $50 Amazon Gift Card

 

We are looking for photos of your – 

 

  • Honeymoon
  • Destination Wedding (or a Destination Wedding that you attended)
  • Family Vacation
  • Friends Getaway
or any other great EZTravelPad vacation experience-
The rules are simple – and there are 2 Ways to Enter & Win- (and yes, 2 Grand Prize Winners)

 

Speed matters-

Method #1- 
Open to EZTravelPad clients traveling during the period from August 17, 2018 to September 14, 2019

Simply email your favorite photo(s) of your EZTravelPad trip with the subject “Photo Contest 2019
Quality matters- Make sure they are good ones – interesting – something you are proud of. We don’t need 50, just a couple of the best will do – photos with YOU, not just scenery or landscapes (although if you have a simply amazing photo of an iconic destination it will be considered this year)

Cut-off for submission is September 14th, 2019 so just a few weeks to get in on the action. Beginning on September 15th the EZTravelPad team will review submissions and pick the 10 best to submit to our professional photographer team for final decision on the 1st Grand Prize Winner

NOTE- By sending in your photos you agree that it is ok for EZTravelPad to use your photo(s) on our website and/or post to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and also use your first names (no last names will be used)
Email photos to [email protected] with the following info

  • Who is pictured in the photo (main characters at least)
  • Where photo was taken
  • What sort of fun was taking place at the time

 

Method #2 –Open to ALL clients who have ever traveled with EZTravelPad, but the photo needs to have been taken during an EZTravelpad booked trip

Simply…

  • “Like” EZTravelPad on Facebook (if you haven’t already you should) and then
  • Post your photo(s) to the EZTravelPad timeline and then
  • Tell all of your friends to “Like” the page and “Like” YOUR photo(s) (plus write a brief comment about what they like about the photo(s))….)
Most “Likes” by September 30, 2018 wins the 2nd Grand Prize
Simple as that, we look forward to seeing your submissions-

 

Thanks in advance and
Best of Luck!!

Northern Lights by Train through Russia incl Moscow & St Petersburg

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Enjoy an Unforgettable Adventure through Russia

Of course you think of EZTravelPad when you think of All-inclusive vacations to the Caribbean – and cruises to just about anywhere, but remember that we help with all sorts of adventures from a few days at Disney/Universal in Orlando to a full-blown luxury Safari in Africa to biking across Portugal and so much more…here’s an amazing option that you might not even know existed

Imagine embarking on a 10 day tour through the most iconic parts parts of Russia including encountering reindeer nomads, husky dog sleds, and viewing of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) – and that’s not to mention spending a couple nights in Moscow and a couple of nights in St Petersburg + a couple of nights on a train

Tour includes all meals and tours

Sound interesting? Check out the video…

For more info, or to brainstorm your next big vacation you can trust “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad to be there for you every step of the way – from conception to your safe return home – always with best service and best price!

[email protected]

Shop for Travel Insurance

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Travel Insurance Coverage – Quick and EZ

A Credible Travel Protection Policy  Can Be Invaluable in an Emergency

Travel protection can provide coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Medical and Dental, Baggage, Baggage Delay, Travel Delay and much more. Plus, we offer 24-hour Traveler Assistance Service to help you with emergency situations that arise during your trip.

Many travel arrangements are non-refundable, and the best airline and cruise deals usually provide few options if you must cancel your trip. Often, your personal medical insurance provides little or no coverage when traveling abroad. And, how many times has your flight been cancelled or delayed?

EZTravelPad Offers TripAssure – a Trip Mate Brand

Why take a chance?

A good travel insurance plan can be your best resource in a pinch.

Just click here to start shopping – it’s quick and EZ

Dominican Republic – Is It Safe?

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Dominican Republic in the News Recently

There certainly has been more than a little news about the tourism industry and the safety concerns in the Dominican Republic lately –

  • Is it safe?
  • Should I go?
  • Should I cancel?

Well, I’ll take a crack at each of these questions – here goes

Is it safe to go to The Dominican Republic now?

Of course not, but neither is it safe to go to Mexico, or Europe, or for that matter, it’s not safe to go to many places in The good ole USA if you go to the wrong neighborhoods, hang out with the wrong crowd, get caught up in a situation that you knew you should not have in the first place, go to school, church, work, etc (lots of mass shootings you know). Best bet is to stay home…ground floor (stairs are dangerous).

Of course I am joking – kind of.

NO WHERE IS SAFE!! (at least that’s what the media might like for you to believe…after all, your clicks = profits for media!)

Statistically speaking you are extremely safe flying to a resort destination, finding your pre-arranged transfers at the airport, and hanging out at the resort beaches and pools all week – even if you add in a couple of organized adventures off resort! Keep in mind that you tend to get what you pay for – higher priced resorts tend to deliver more dependable quality of food so you are less likely to find food related issues at the nicer more brand-name resorts as opposed to the lower priced options – and trust me on this, the real danger is having an intestinal issue for a few days, that is not uncommon at all.

Should I go to the Dominican Republic?

That one is purely a matter of taste. If you want to go to a pristine beach at a comfortable resort hotel where you can eat, drink, dance and enjoy all sorts of entertainment options for 1 low price – then maybe so, Dominican Republic has a great array of all-inclusive beach resorts to choose from (best to get with a travel adviser who knows a thing or 2) and these resorts typically price very, very competitively. If you are looking for the kind of place where you can rent a car, drive around on your own in a beautiful tropical setting, get into adventures on your own, find the little “hidden gems” off the radar, etc then the DR is probably not for you – consider Hawaii.

If you have a level of comfort in other countries having experienced & enjoyed other places such as  Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Cozumel, St Lucia, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Costa Rica, etc then Dominican Republic might be a great option – if you were previously in any of the places I just mentioned and did not feel safe, then the DR might not be for you.

Should I Cancel?

That’s totally your call, it’s all about level of comfort and level of apprehension. Looking at the stories in the news media lately there are more questions that answers.

It sounds like David Ortiz might have been a victim of mistaken identity in a “hit” gone bad – tragic, but unless you are from the DR I would not suggest being out at a late night club in the capital of Santo Domingo. Bad things do happen to unsuspecting tourists all the time – in every country (including in the US).

The stories of people dying suddenly after having drank from the mini-bars, those are just baffling. I can’t imagine what the common thread could be that would have people dying quite infrequently (last I heard was 8 reports in the past year) at various hotels, different brands, and different places hundreds of miles apart. Toxicology reports will hopefully solve the mystery. If you were smart and purchased the travel protection offered when you booked your vacation then you may be able to cancel (for any reason) and get your money back so if you do want to cancel then check with your travel adviser for the best options. Don’t go if you don’t feel comfortable – your time is valuable and you should enjoy it the most!

To wrap it up, do I feel uncomfortable in the DR, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta or the Riviera Maya? Heck no, those places are awesome for the value that they provide and I send lots of vacationers to those places all the time – almost everyone loves them! But it’s YOUR vacation – and if you feel more comfortable in a more expensive destination (Hawaii, Bahamas, Aruba, Turks & Caicos, Bermuda, Bora Bora, Cote d’Azur, etc then we sure do help with all those sorts of trips as well. Beef up the budget and go enjoy yourself where you are comfortable – but either way…GO ENJOY YOURSELF

For more info this is a link to a NY Times article from a few days ago

at EZTravelPad we like to think of ourselves as “Your friends….in the travel business” and as your friend i would never suggest going somewhere that I felt was unsafe…. reach out anytime at this link

Great deal for Christmas Vacation 2019!

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Family Travel, Mexico | No Comments

Looking for a DEAL for a Great Beach Resort during the Christmas Holiday?

 

 

 

If you want to make your 2019 Christmas Vacation unforgettable this year – and you are interested in a great beach resort….

If you are ok leaving from O’Hare in Chicago….(for best pricing)

and

If you have some flexibility “just in case” (see more on that below) then the value is outstanding!

Check out what the view from the beach will look like….

 

..and the spa!

.

 

Why “just in case”?

Well, it’s slated to open in early December 2019 but sometimes delays happen….and if so then you could potentially be redirected to another great resort in the area instead (but there’s more to explain and it’s not bad news…) .

It’s kind of a secret…and there’s a lot more to explain, but if something like $1990 per person incl flights for a week at a fantastic 5 Star All-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya during the holidays sounds appealing then let me know asap at this link with possible dates of travel and I can elaborate on details!

Of course anytime you want to talk about other vacations ideas you can always trust “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for the best advice – and best price!

Great deal on Paris to Zurich River Cruise + $499 for flights this Summer/Fall

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You’re Considering a European River Cruise Aren’t You?

It’s ok – a European River Cruise is an amazing experience that, having experienced, I can attest – it’s unforgettable!

There are many choices (there are many rivers in Europe) but here is one that caught my attention – starting off in Paris, visiting 4 countries with 10 included tours and much more included (like food, beverages, etc)

Check out this brief video for a quick overview of a few of the highlights

But there’s much more to learn-

For Expert Help and the advice you need turn to

“Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad

Virgin Goes For Resort Feel On the Sea

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Think Adults-Only Resort + Cruise to Havana (and more)

Virgin Cruise Ships will debut as Virgin Voyages set sail in 2020

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Empire + Cruise + Adults-Only

One of the most exciting developments in leisure travel in recent years is the unveiling of the new Virgin Voyages brand which will set sail in the summer of 2020 with 4 Night Sailings & 5 Night Sailings to Bahamas + Havana  or Bahamas + Mexico or Bahamas + Dominican Republic (plus more to come)

What’s exciting about it?

Well, to name just a few things, the vibe, the commitment to “Green”, the inventive cuisine, the 1st Tattoo parlor at sea – and much more

The overall feel is proclaimed ‘Rebellious Luxe”

Make no mistake- it’s gonna be a party – and it’s virtually all-inclusive (except for alcoholic beverages) so bring your game and your dark sunglasses to hide the dark circles because you are over-nighting in Havana and that can make it a LATE night! (other itineraries do exist if Cuba isn’t your top pick)

 Want to see what it looks like on board?

Been On A Cruise Before? – This One Is Different…Here’s How

No Gratuities – They Are Included!

No Buffets – 20+ Innovative Dining Options!!

No Disconnecting – Free WIFI – They WANT you on Social Media!

Group Fitness Classes Included so Get Your Spin On for Free!

Lots of other ways that extra charges are NOT the style on this ship…its cruising the way it should be – care free and inclusive!

But there’s much more to learn-

For Expert Help and the advice you need turn to

“Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad

Another Year, Another Great Opportunity and Recognition

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It is with great pride that I announce –

 

As a recognized leader in the romance vacation market, I’ve been asked to be a part of the exclusive 2019 Romance Travel Forum!

I was personally chosen out of hundreds of travel sellers from across the US and Canada to be among this select group of top professionals!

With my destination wedding and honeymoon clients in mind, I’ll be experiencing first-hand all that Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit has to offer, including attractions and visits to the most sought-after hotel properties!

Plus, I’ll have the chance to meet with top providers on a global level representing the most romantic destinations, hotels, packaged vacations and so much more! Just 1 more reason why EZTravelPad should be your pick to help make your romantic vacation dreams a reality!