EZTravelPad set to cruise Caribbean and Mediterranean in 2021
Scarlet Lady in Caribbean and Valiant Lady in Mediterranean
Bimini Beach Club on Virgin’s private island in Bahamas
Join us on either or both – each will be awesome and unique as we cruise-
Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady from Miami to Bimini Beach Club + Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic
Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady from Barcelona to Mallorca, Malaga. Gibralter & an overnight in Ibiza
In case you are not aware, Virgin Voyages is a new brand and a new style of cruising as imagined by Sir Richard Branson. They brought in some of the world’s best designers to completely re-imagine what an open-ocean cruise is all about. Some of the unique differences include-
It is exclusive to adults-only (18+)
20+ unique dining options All-included (and NO buffets!)
Unlimited Wifi is included!
Group workout classes are included!
Basic Bevvies (waters, sodas, juices & more) are included!
2020 has been a long year already, and it’s only a little more than 1/2 over with at this point, but here are a couple reasons to look forward to 2021 I know I am!
On February 28, 2021 we will set sail from Miami on a 5 night trip to the Caribbean on board Scarlet Lady with this itinerary-
Without a doubt, the highlight is the Bimini Beach Club on Virgin’s private island – it’s all day and most of the evening enjoying an unspoiled beautiful Bahamian paradise
But the best part of this entire cruise experience is the price – starting at just $902 per person based on double occupancy ($1804 total) – complete!
That’s 30% off right now, but that price won’t last long…. so reach out now to EZTravelpad for details
Choose to join us on an epic journey from Barcelona through the Baleaeric Islands and even on to one of the most geographically significant places in human history -Gibraltar
The cruise begins on October 3, 2021 and extends for 7 nights aboard the newest ship in the Virgin fleet – Valiant Lady
The itinerary looks like this-
Amazingly, pricing on this 7 night itinerary starts at a total cruise fare of just $1044 per person based on double occupancy. It’s a steal! But again, it won’t last long. You’re not going to want to miss this….
But wait, there’s more!
Pre-pay your bar tab of $300 before departure (cocktails, beer, wine) and get $350 credit – so $50 more bonus beverage!!
There’s much more to relate….and plenty of questions to answer…like, what are we going to do on Palma de Mallorca for Scott’s 60th? Who is going to get a new tattoo at Squid Ink while on board? and what might we do post-cruise in Barcelona?
Join us on either – or BOTH – it’s gonna be fun!
As always – we are “Your friends….in the travel business”
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.
Biking around Bora Bora
Stopping at world-famous Bloody Mary’s for a drink
Food truck rodeo at Bora Bora
Private beach on motu near Bora Bora
Paddleboarding with mt Oemanu as a backdrop
Sailing away with wonderful memories
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.
Well, it’s warm in the summer and cool in the winter – but as far as popular destinations are concerned Croatia is HOT!
Why? Well there are many reasons –
Croatia is one of several destinations made more popular by the HBO series Game of Thrones
Croatia offers a terrific array of medieval cities
Croatia offers some amazing small ship cruises (mostly from cruiselines you have never heard of)
Croatia offers some of the most spectacular natural beauty to be found
Krka National Park is a popular place for hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of pristine waterfalls and more. On a recent cruise vacation we enjoyed a stop in the port city of Zadar (famous for it’s Sea Organ – a very unique piece of musical art). The Krka National Park was an offered excursion from Celebrity cruises so we checked it out and here’s what we found….
a beautiful forest populated by dozens of cascading waterfalls (too many and too vast to experience them all)
The hike was too short,..but it was beautiful
with some swimming possible…
in the waters just past the most beautiful of the falls in this area
Whether spending some time in port or staying in a hotel or nearby resort, the city of Zadar is a good place to spend some time shopping or dining. Actually I could not believe how affordable it was to purchase some great pastries!
There are some cool tours that allow you to experience the city by foot, bike, segway, kayak or e-scooter – or do something really exhilarating like going skydiving!
Yes…Croatia is beautiful with several national parks and other places of outstanding beauty, but there is so much more. Whether it’s an excursion while cruising on a mass market cruise ship, or a small ship cruise with several stops along the long Croatian coastline, or a fully independent yet structured tour incorporating several stops such as Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik & other parts of the interior of the country you can count on “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for sound advice and the ability to leverage our relationships to make sure that you have the best possible experience!
Venice, Italy – A lovely city to start or end your cruise vacation
There are not many things more enchanting than arriving to your Venice hotel in a water taxi.
Words and photos are not entirely capable of describing the emotions that you experience- the sounds, the sights, the sunshine on your face – the anticipation of visiting such an iconic destination.
Of course there are dozens and dozens of terrific hotels with varying levels of service. We chose the lovely Hotel Danieli located just steps from The Bridge of Sighs leading to Doges Palace and Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Plaza) – terrific service and as convenient as it gets.
Venice is a city built on 118 islands (some small and others tiny) connected by hundreds of bridges that make up the city. The history of Venice dates back around 1600 years so as you might imagine there are some amazing examples of many different types or architectural influences including Gothic, Byzantine, Islamic & more. Below is but 1 of many gorgeous buildings
If you are a lover of any style of art and craftmanship then a visit to Murano is a must-do. Murano is a small island about 15 minutes boat ride from Venice. Complimentary tours are available and you will not see a better array of glassworks than you will here. The island is home to hundreds of glassblowers who have different specialties. The glassblowing demonstration is amazing
but what is more amazing is the showroom which consists of room upon room with unbelievable displays of artistic genius ranging from chandeliers to wine glasses and every type of glassware in between
St Marks’s Square & Basilica along with the Doges Palace are also must-see
Water Taxis and Gondolas
Of course no trip to Venice would be complete without spending some time on the water. Whether touring by water taxi…
or enjoying a gondola ride complete with serenade…
these are the memories that you will carry with you for many years to come (and of course taking a few photos helps too)!
There are more shops that you can ever hope to get to even if staying for weeks – and cafes & restaurants are also in no short supply so save up some energy for that!
After a few hours of touring and shopping then a Spritz or 2 in a cafe is not to be missed
In short – Venice is simply magical and unforgettable.
When it’s time for your trip to Venice (or other bucket list destination) then you know you can turn to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for expert guidance and the best values to be found.
Barcelona – easily one of the most enjoyable cities on earth
La Ramblas – the tourism hub of Barcelona
There are many reasons why Barcelona is generally regarded as one of the Top 5 cities to visit in Europe….
I’m not gonna lie, flying all night then arriving in a foreign country, checking into a hotel for a quick change then off to a e-bike tour on virtually no sleep is a bit aggressive, but I’m glad we did it (not sure my wife feels the same lol). It’s either go tour and be active or go to sleep and lose several hours of exploring time. We chose to see all we could in the short time we had there
e-bike tour booked through Viator – 12 participants – a good time all around
We covered alot of ground on those bikes – From landmarks to archaeological excavations to parks to the beach and more
Interestingly the beach area in Barcelona is relatively new, and a key component of the revitalization of the city. Investments into re-imagining the city as a tourist destination rather than an industrial powerhouse led to the 1992 Summer Olympics being held in the city and they haven’t looked back – now Barcelona is widely regarded as one of the top cities in the world for tourists
After some sightseeing on the e-bikes then it was time to sample some tapas from one of the more famous tapas restaurants – Els Quatre Gats (4 cats) which is widely known as one of Pablo Picasso’s favorite bars
But on to other things….
La Sagrada Familia
If there is one thing that Barcelona is know for (besides tapas) it’s Antoni Gaudi’s masterpience – La Sagrada Familia
Construction continues at La Sagrada Familia
Imagine a work so vast that the architect knew, at less than 30 years of age, that construction would last well beyond his death. While this looks massive now, it will eventually soar to a much taller height and a much broader footprint when complete
Construction began in 1882 – they are hopeful of completion by 2026 (in honor of the 100th year anniversary of Gaudi’s death)
The inside is an homage to nature as much as it is to Jesus and to fully understand I recommend a good guide – it’s so worth the extra $$ and photos just do not do justice to this masterpiece
We booked a 3 hours guided tour of La Sagrada Familia in conjunction with a tour of the Hospital Sant Pau. Initially I was indifferent to the tour starting at some hospital, eventhough I was understanding that for there to be a tour it must be something worth seeing. That said, I was blown away. Not only was this once public hospital a masterpiece of efficiency it was also architecturally amazing and beautiful.
our Context Tours guide Zaida was both charming and an expert in the Catalan culture
Once again photos are difficult capture the overall feel but imagine that this is just one of the many separate buildings serving patients with varying illnesses
and here is a model of the fully functional hospital where the main building served as an admittance and admin building then patients were transferred to the appropriate wing via underground tunnels that were well lit from skylights strategically placed throughout the gardens filled with healing herbs and aromatic plants.
So what else does Barcelona offer?
Well…the $15.50 EU bottles of Cava at the cafe across the street from the hotel were pretty great….
and there is SO much more to relate!
For help planning your next great getaway – be it Barcelona or anywhere else amazing please consider turning to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad where we leverage relationships on a daily basis to help insure that you have the time of your life on each and every vacation
As I write this I am sailing down the Danube river through Austria on AmaWaterways gorgeous ship AmaCerto enjoying a 7 night wine themed river cruise.
If you know anything about a river cruise with AmaWaterways you probably know that they include wine and beer for both lunch and dinner (and champagne for breakfast!) – but what you might not know is that on a wine themed cruise there are so many more opportunities to discover new favorites during several tastings that are included, such as the tour and tasting at Castle Gobelsburg pictured below.
I can’t speak for every single wine themed cruise, but on this one there is a vineyard from California named Graveyard Vineyards that is hosting even MORE wine tastings.
So what does that look like? Well here’s our experience during a week on AmaCerto
Monday – board ship – lunch (with wine) – Dinner at Chef’s Table with several courses and wine pairings – late night City Illuminations tour (outstanding cruise along Budapest waterfront with buildings lighted)
Tuesday – Morning excursion consisting of Budapest city walk, city market then back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon wine tasting courtesy Graveyard Vineyards and a terrific dinner in the main dining room
Wednesday – Breakfast (with Champagne), Lunch (with wine), Dinner (with wine) then an evening of traditional Viennese fun with lots of wine, dancing & song at Winery & Heuriger Christ
Thursday – Breakfast (forgot the champagne) then excursion -Bike ride in Vienna then lunch (with wine). Mid-afternoon wine tasting and aroma sampling courtesy Graveyard Vineyards then an after dinner excursion to Castle Gobelsburg for wine tastings
Friday – Hike to Durnstein castle then wine and apricot tasting in Durnstein, Austria. Back to the ship for lunch with wine then late afternoon excursion to Castle Clam for a wine tasting before dinner (with wine)
Saturday – Most people with full day excursions so late breakfast (champagne if desired) then late dinner in private dining with plenty of wine!
Sunday – Breakfast (champagne again??) – lunch (wine again??) – pre-dinner champagne toast to the week that has been – pre-dinner Oktoberfest celebration in port of Passau (lots of beer) – dinner (with wine)
Monday – Time to leave, but friends made and experiences shared will last a lifetime….
Oh – and it is TOTALLY not just about the wine…this was an outstanding cruise with terrific tours included – much more on the highlight destinations of Budapest, Vienna, Durnstein, Linz & more coming up on future blog posts
Oh…and the cuisine!
To learn more about AmaWaterways, River Cruising, or all sorts of other vacation planning just get in touch with “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad
Of course we will be doing lots of exploring on the mainland and we will be kicking things off a couple days early arriving in Barcelona early enough to catch a few of the sites and doing the same in Venice at the end of the cruise
Pricing is as follows (just a sample of some)
$1209 per person on a Cat 9 Inside Cabin
$1689 per person for a Cat 4 Oceanview cabin
$2159 per person for a Cat 2A Balcony cabin
Also the current sale gets 1 free perk with options including-
Adding Shore Excursions Is EZ and Better with Help!
Sure, you can book your shore excursions on the cruise ship – it seems like the safest way to go, but is it the best way to go?
When EZTravelPad cruises we book our excursions sometimes with the cruise line and more often with 3rd party vendors – why? – for a better experience!
Choosing the right shore excursions on your cruise vacation is an important part of the overall planning so get the help you deserve
Often the cruise line excursions are packed with dozens and dozens of people while the 3rd party excursion might be a much smaller group – like this glacier trek we did in Alaska – just 2 guides and 10 guests, the experience was unforgettable!
Same with our whale watching excursion in Alaska – very intimate.
We have had the same sorts of experiences in Caribbean, for example at a place such as Stingray City in the Cayman Islands, when the cruise ships excursions had 50-60 people splashing around in the water with the stingrays, our smaller group of about 14 was much, much better and actually cost less!
Time to get started on your own shore excursions, or know someone planning a cruise this year? Share this link with them or use it yourself to shop quickly and conveniently from home for the best shore excursions available…
Remember – even if you have booked your cruise on your own EZTravelPad is still available to help make the experience as great as it can be! Get with “Your friends….in the travel business” today, you’ll be glad you did
EZTravelPad is a travel agency helping all sots of people enjoy all sorts of vacations, and saving them money all along the way!
– A night in Havana along with a day at Great Stirrup Cay in Bahamas is a great combo!
NCL Breakaway at Great Stirrup Cay
Be among the first to see Cuba as it is, before tourism changes it forever
Norwegian is cruising to Cuba starting May 2017 – here are some details
Starting in May, 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering 4 Day cruises to Havana, Cuba (with an overnight stay) and their own private island, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas starting at just $529 per person (before taxes, fees and port expenses):
Suites- $1839 (book soon because suites are selling fast!)
Guests are currently receiving an all-inclusive, unlimited beverage package as well as onboard credits!
Entertainment for the whole family including the Guppies Program for infants 6 months to 2 years; Splash Academy (ages 3-12); The Zone (ages 13-17); a children’s pool and family pool; video arcade; nighttime entertainment; Active options such as a basketball/volleyball court, golf driving net, jogging/walking track, fitness center; Relaxing options for adults such as the Mandara Spa and 5 hot tubs; Not to mention onboard shopping, an internet cafe, the Mark Twain Library and of course the Sky Club Casino!
Don’t miss out on unforgettable excursions in Havana including tours to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (world-class art collection) and many other historic tours; Rum, Cigars and Art Tours; Dining at family-owned restaurants for authentic Cuban fare; Music and Dancing shows; and of course shopping!
Tours in Great Stirrup Cay offering many water activities such as Wave Runners, snorkeling opportunities to see a vast variety of fish, stingrays and more, Dolphin encounters and the beautiful white sand beaches!
Treat yourself to one (or all!) of 3 specialty restaurants including Cagney’s Steakhouse, Italian cuisine at Il Adagio or French cuisine at Le Bistro.
Get with “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad TODAY – don’t miss the boat on this great opportunity!!
Cruising in Alaska Is Beyond Breathtaking – It’s Life Changing
The natural beauty seems endless with the air so clean and the nature so close
Recently some of the team here at EZTravelPad were able to both accomplish a bucket list trip and at the same time celebrate a very important birthday – a terrific celebration that was simply unforgettable. We cruised out of Vancouver on Celebrity Infinity doing a 7 night inside passage voyage to Alaska with stops at
Icy Strait Point (terrific whale watching!)
Juneau (more adventures than you can accomplish if you had a whole week)
Hubbard Glacier (awesome scenery)
Ketchikan (terrific shopping and history)
If you have cruised Alaska before then you know what I mean when I say…WOW!
If you have yet to experience this most amazing destination then you owe it to yourself to go – and go as soon as you can
One of the most amazing days was spent in Juneau on a 3.5 mile trek to the Mendenhall glacier
The hike was difficult but worth every scrape and sore muscle . We were able to hike on the glacier (and yes, I did fall through a soft spot but no serious injuries). On the glacier we experienced the ever-changing landscape of ice caves and ice streams on this frozen river of ice which is constantly in motion.
In Icy Strait Point the whale watching was unreal – we experienced a large pod of humpbacks bubble feeding all around us for over an hour. It is indescribable unless you have experienced it – simply awe inspiring
Previous to the whale watching adventure was a Bear Viewing excursion (photo at the top) – bears so close that the guides with rifles were on their toes the entire time – in all we spotted 9 brown bears in their natural habitat
In Ketchikan we took a float plane through the Misty Fiords National Monument – there’s nothing quite like landing on the water deep into the Alaska wilderness!
After the float plane adventure we got in some shopping at the historic area once built to house the first businesses…brothels which serviced the local fishermen 100 years ago….
It’s about the nature and it’s about the beauty and it’s about the wildlife – the stunning beauty like the Hubbard Glacier pictured below…
There are many ways to experience the awe inspiring splendor of the largest state in the US but for most people the preferred method is on a cruise, and if that’s your choice then we strongly urge a balcony cabin – why? See for yourself – there’s nothing quite like sipping a bottle of champagne as you listen to some tunes on your bluetooth speaker watching exhilarating scenery slowly reveal itself
and like any cruise, it’s also about the ship – and the food – and the fun on-board. Qsine is a fun restaurant that gives you the sense you have passed through the looking glass and arrived to dine with Alice or the Mad Hatter
Of course the departure port is another big part of the overall cruise experience and I would strongly suggest planning a fewextra days pre or post-cruise to enjoy either Seattle, or North America’s top rated city – Vancouver, BC. We completely fell in love with this amazing and gorgeous city – truly a fantastic place from which to start a great adventure!
Celebrity Infinity is a terrific choice but depending on the experiences that you want to enjoy and the destinations that are best suited to what you have in mind, either Holland America or Princess are also fantastic choices – that’s where it is helpful to get some guidance from your friends….in the travel business!
EZTravelPad is a travel agency well suited to help with your next vacation – be it to Alaska, Caribbean, Disney, Europe, South Pacific, Latin America…you name it.
Get the help and guidance that you deserve, all with no added fees and best prices guaranteed!
At EZTravelPad we like to think of ourselves as “Your friends….in the travel business” After all, when you seek advice don’t you go first to your friends? The friends that know something about the task at hand?
Think of EZTravelPad as your friend who knows about travel.
A friend that knows the best places to go
A friend that knows how to uncover the best deals
A friend that has been there before
A friend that knows the names of people on the ground where you are going
A friend that will be there for you if something goes wrong
When you think about it, it really is good to have a friend in the travel business...