The Safe Return of Cruising

If you’re a cruiser, you love cruising and probably already have one booked for 2021. If you’re not a cruiser, you might be thinking there are some deals to be had. To an extent, you’re right, but you shouldn’t wait too long to make your booking for next year. That’s because demand is sky-high (thanks to all those dedicated cruisers). With the CDC likely to extend its no-sail order for ships with more than 250 passengers through the end of the year, most lines aren’t restarting until 2021. And when they do start, they won’t be at 100% occupancy. So just like with premium hotels and tours, space will be limited and if you don’t book early you could end up waiting for a year or two.

During their time away, the cruise lines have been busy putting together panels of experts in infectious disease, public health, hospitality and maritime operations to ensure they can deliver safe and fun experiences on the high seas. The measures they’re implementing will begin before you even board the ship, with enhanced screening in the terminal before passengers board and negative COVID tests likely to be required. The traditional muster drills at the beginning of the cruise will be done electronically, either via app or in-cabin TV to avoid gathering in large crowds. Masks will be required in public areas, and extra space will be allotted for distancing in restaurants and at shows.

Cleaning protocols will be stringent, with every surface throughout the ship routinely sanitized. Even before the pandemic, Lindblad Expeditions introduced the industry’s first self-disinfecting fleet, powered by the ACT CleanCoat system that breaks down unwanted microbes via a photocatalytic process.

If you want to secure space but still not sure how you’ll feel about cruising next year, that’s OK. Cancellation policies are incredibly flexible, with most giving you until 48 or even 24 hours before sailing to change your mind without losing money. The cruise lines and your advisor want you to feel comfortable, not pressured. If you’re not sure what your schedule will look like next year—and let’s be honest, who among us is?—it’s easy to adjust your cruise dates without penalty, so long as there’s space.

Remember, that no-sail order applies only to ships with 250 or more passengers. Small ships, already a fantastic way to have a more intimate experience and get into smaller ports the big ships can’t even reach, can still sail. That means small ships such as those from UnCruise Adventures, SeaDream Yacht Club, Azamara and others are sailing, and adding some unique itineraries to their repertoires.

Cruises will be back and better than ever. The question is, will there be any space left by the time you book?

Dream Travel Destinations: Botswana, Africa

Is Africa one of your dream travel destinations? If so, Botswana should be on your list.

Seeing the animals from the water offers a different amazing vantage point. I did a land and boat safari in Chobe National Park when I was in Botswana and the highlight was seeing so many elephants playing in the water on the boat safari. The Okavango Delta is a great spot for a safari in a mokoro which is an adventure! Botswana can be paired with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and or South Africa.

Keep in mind, it is best to plan at least a year in advance for Africa as many of the top lodges fill up quickly as they are limited in space. When you are ready, I am excited to plan your African adventure! Email Stefany at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com.

With passion and adventure,

Stefany

The Lowcountry & Sea Islands

Though we often go abroad to capture a sense of an older way of life and unique culture, it’s good to remember how diverse this country can be and how many distinct regions the U.S. has. The Lowcountry of South Carolina and Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida contain a great deal of history among the people, food and architecture. The mention of Charleston or Savannah conjures up images of Spanish moss hanging from ancient oaks, the roots of the U.S. and some of the best meals you could ever hope to have. Venture farther south to Amelia Island and St. Augustine in Florida, and you reach back to even before the founding.

The capital of the region is Charleston, founded more than a century before the Declaration of Independence was written. There, you can have a wonderful dinner at the famous Hall’s Chophouse or enjoy a more modern take on Southern favorites at the award-winning Husk. Out in Charleston Harbor, you can tour Fort Sumter, where the first battle of the Civil War took place. Down the coast are the inviting beaches and verdant golf courses of Kiawah Island, home to Virtuoso-preferred resort The Sanctuary.

All throughout the region, you’ll encounter the Gullah-Geechee culture, kept alive by the descendants of slaves brought from West Africa in the 1700s. They make their homes primarily on barrier islands of the region, just as their ancestors did. Isolated from the mainland, the Gullah-Geechee have managed to preserve their cooking traditions, music and language. At the Virtuoso-preferred Lodge & Cloister at Sea Island, you’ll be in the heart of the barrier islands.

From Charleston or Sea Island, you’re in prime position to journey to Savannah, the first capital of Georgia and a storybook city that reflects its 18th-century beginnings in every square, street and cemetery. One thing that’s quite modern about Savannah is its arts scene, and you’ll find some of the best works among the collection at Virtuoso-preferred Perry Lane Hotel.

The southernmost of the Sea Islands, Amelia Island has seen eight flags fly over its pristine beaches and hiking trails. Arts lovers will not be disappointed here, either, as the island is home to annual jazz, blues, chamber music and film festivals. It’s also just over an hour to St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in what is now the U.S., founded in 1565. Whatever your interests, you can rest easy laying your head at the Virtuoso-preferred Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

The Lowcountry and Sea Islands offer a journey that both preserves hundreds of years of history and carves a path to the future of cuisine and culture, right here in the U.S.

Summer on the West Coast

The weather is still perfect, even if many things have changed. You’ll want to check ahead to see where beaches are open, but just about any spot along the West Coast has vistas that will take your breath away.

Although we can’t travel to Italy right now, we can go to California. With its Mediterranean climate, great wines, mountains and endless coastline, it’s basically the Italy of America.

Starting from the south and working up the coast, you first encounter the Mexican-influenced culture and laid-back California vibes of San Diego. In a matter of minutes you can go from the beach to lush gardens to desert. On the way to Los Angeles, you can head inland to the resorts of the Palm Springs area, where a dip in the pool on a hot day makes everything right. Right now you have to get takeout (or sit outdoors at select places), but you can still eat your way through L.A. with food from just about every culture on Earth.

You can also use the nation’s second largest city as a base to escape into nature with an autumn expedition through the Channel Islands with Lindblad Expeditions. Channel Islands is one of a whopping nine national parks to be explored in the Golden State. Back on the mainland, there’s a lot of territory to cover between Southern California and the Bay Area, but every inch of it is gorgeous. Hug the coast, and you get the beauty of Santa Barbara—a key stop on Backroads’ fall West Coast Beaches & California Cool itinerary—and Big Sur, where the Post Ranch Inn is ready to welcome guests. Inland, you have the majesty of Sequoia and Yosemite national parks.

Once you reach the Bay Area, you’ll find a center of tech, history and culture that give way to the wine paradise of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. For a socially distanced stay just outside San Francisco, Cavallo Point in Sausalito is right across the Golden Gate Bridge, and there’s an array of Virtuoso-preferred hotels in the heart of wine country. From there, the Pacific Coast Highway leads up to Oregon with Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwoods National Park and a relaxing stay at The Inn at Newport Ranch to guide the way.

Oregon’s tall firs and picturesque Cannon Beach make for one of the prettiest drives in the country, while the Willamette Valley wine scene, Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls draw visitors to the Portland area. Follow the Columbia River up to Astoria, which you can do on UnCruise Adventures and American Queen Steamboat Company river cruises, and you’ll follow the path of Lewis & Clark while enjoying some of the fine craft beers the West Coast offers.

Just across the river you’ll enter Washington, where the natural paradise of the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands surround Seattle, one of America’s most spectacular cities. The Emerald City boasts four Virtuoso-preferred hotels and some of the best views you’ll find anywhere. Sadly, you can’t cross over to Canada just now but there’s plenty of America to rediscover on your tour of the West Coast.

Contact Stefany at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com to plan yours.

Traveling to Fiji? Don’t Miss These Must-See Hot Spots

Sun-drenched beaches, beautiful palm trees and crystal blue lagoons, what’s not to love about Fiji? The tropical paradise is a perfect location for a vacation getaway, especially during the colder winter months. Every year, thousands of people travel to the South Pacific to enjoy this island area. With so many islands to choose from, the destination is ideal for any traveler! If you are planning to visit Fiji in the future, be sure to hit all the hot spots we list below!

Hindu Temples
Fiji is full of cultural experiences, including beautiful Hindu temples. Vibrant festivals take place throughout the year at the temples, where travelers can get an inside glimpse into the religion. The most spectacular to see firsthand is the Sri Siva Subrahmanya Swami Temple in Nadi. The bright coloring seems unreal with towering spires and intricate architecture throughout.

Island Adventures
If you are up for a little adventure, why not travel to the Mamanucas and Yasawa islands of Fiji? These beautiful islands are perfect for a luxury getaway or if you want to backpack in the region. Resorts can be found on these islands that offer lovely views as well as plenty of activities to explore. With the help of companies like DMC Travel Tailor, you can easily plan your lodging while in Fiji.

Levuka
If you want to get to know the locals, travel to Levuka, a town in Fiji that is home to a colonial museum. Inside the museum, view pieces that tell the history of the region and how the area came to be. The locals are friendly and add to the quaintness of the area.

Hiking Waya Island
For the truly adventurous, take a boat to Waya Island and go on a hiking trip of a lifetime. With amazing ocean views and lush landscape, you will feel like you are in another world as you traverse the trails of the island.

Beqa Island
The even more daring will go from an amazing hike at Waya Island to a shark encounter at Beqa Island. The area is home to bull sharks and sometimes tiger sharks and travelers can easily participate in a shark-feeding dive off the shores of this island.

These are just a few of the amazing things you can do while in Fiji. Try a few or make your entire list filled with these exciting adventurous options!

Top Tips to Travel Italy like a Local

Italy is a beautiful region of the world that most people dream of visiting. If you have traveled to Italy before, then you want to go back as soon as you return home. Italy is filled with unique cultural experiences, history, art, architecture, wine and amazing food. Along with visiting the major tourist attractions like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum, people often visit Italy to enjoy the way of life. Learning how to travel like a local can help you to enjoy a more unique experience in the region.

Starting the Day
When traveling in Italy, it can be fun to live like the locals. The classic Italian breakfast includes a sweet pastry and coffee or a cappuccino. Embrace the culture and start your day with something sweet. Head to a local café or even a bar and you can order a drink and croissant to begin your travels.

Food and More Food
Italians love food and three meals a day is usually not enough to enjoy the tasty cuisine. Plan your trip around multiple, smaller meals so you can truly enjoy the many amazing items the local cafés and restaurants have to offer. The locals often add a meal in-between lunch and dinner and you can too! Feel free to stretch you eating just a bit while in Italy to fully enjoy the local cuisine. Have help planning your meals by working with a travel company like DMC Travel Tailor as you get ready for your trip!

Take advantage of Riposino
Most travelers to Italy have no idea that shops often close for a lunch break, especially during the summer months. The heat in the early afternoon is stifling and everyone wants to go inside and take a break. The word riposino means nap in Italian and it is something that many locals take advantage. Take time during your travels to take a nap and awaken to open shops and a feeling of being fully rested.

Speak to Everyone
When traveling to Italy, it is important to speak to everyone you mean. While there may be a language barrier, Italians are happy to provide assistance or recommendations for restaurants or attractions. Get to know the locals and you might find that a few suggestions of entertainment take you off the beaten path to places you would have never explored before!