I am a huge fan of cruising. Once you've been on a cruise, it's easy to get hooked. In fact, cruising has one of the highest retention rates in the travel industry. This means once people cruise, they come back time and time again. I am one of those people. So here are my top eight reasons to stretch your sea legs!
I love an excellent adventure. But I love to get settled into once place. On a cruise, I like settling into my stateroom and not seeing my suitcase again until the departure day. The housekeepers on cruise ships are fantastic. They clean, tidy and in some cases leave little surprises (like chocolate or creatively folded towels) in your stateroom!
Way To Begin to Explore
Travel can be expensive, and cruising is an affordable way to start your world exploration of Europe, the Caribbean, you name it. I have found over the years that cruising is an excellent way to determine whether or not you want to return to a particular destination. I found this to be true with Ephesus, Turkey. I love that place and I discovered it from a cruise! If water is close to the destination, then chances are high you can get there on a ship.
All Inclusive and Buy As You Go
On a cruise, culinary delights are included in your vacation. In some cases, everything is included, but most mass market cruise lines and itineraries include the basic fare and plenty of it. This means you don’t have to eat at a premium restaurant if you prefer not to. A premium restaurant in “cruise speak” is a high-quality restaurant on board the ship where, by paying a nominal fee per person, you can select steaks, seafood, French cuisine or sushi (just to name a few delicacies). But again, you choose how much you want to spend on these extras...and some choose none at all.
River or Ocean
Ocean cruising became popular in in America in the 1980’s. Ocean cruises in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe and Alaska remain the most popular cruises, and for good reason. However, river cruising has exploded in popularity in the last two decades. River cruises are an excellent way to get closer to exotic ports all over the world. Just imagine yourself dancing to the Danube Waltz on the Danube River or learning about Portugal's port wine production on the Douro River...
Kids Are Happy
Cruise lines understand the importance of keeping the kids happy! And most of them do an excellent job. Sure, you would expect Disney to do well with the kiddos, but you may be surprised to learn that Royal Caribbean and Carnival (among others) have extensive programs for kids of all ages. They also offer in-cabin babysitting! Do your homework and then select a cruise line and itinerary that the kids will love!
Active As You Want
Some experienced cruisers I’ve talked to never leave the ship! Hard to believe, but for them, they’ve already been to the ports the ship is visiting. Cruise ships are a means to get somewhere but over the years, they’ve developed into destinations unto themselves. This is where the flexibility really comes into play. While on board you can go to the pool, the casino, the adults' area, the spa or shop in the on board boutiques. Or, you can opt to do absolutely nothing. I mean it. If you want to rest, take in a little sun and be pampered, then a cruise is an excellent idea.
Ah, yes, the spa. Each mass market cruise line has developed an expansive and invigorating spa. We’re talking massages, wraps and cucumbers in the eyes! And that’s jut the beginning. I suggest booking early for the optimal spa appointment times on your at sea days.
Departure City Options
I live in the Northeast and in Knoxville, which means, I have lots of options when it comes to departure cities. Miami and the Atlantic coast have the most choices when it comes to cruise lines and itineraries. But Charleston, Baltimore, NYC, Galveston and San Diego are just of the few of the departure cities from where you can be whisked away to paradise!
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I love fireworks for any holiday, and I am incredibly excited how Colonial Williamsburg has packed an entire day with music, tradition, and fireworks in the unique way only this iconic American city can do. Join me in Colonial Williamsburg to enjoy the holiday festivities of Grand Illumination on Sunday, Dec. 3. After a morning of the town’s special activities and an afternoon of music, the events will conclude with “A Festival of Light and Thunder,” a free fireworks demonstration. Trust me, it’s going to be epic.
First, what is an illumination? In the 18th century, illuminations involved the firing of guns and lighting of fireworks. These guns and fireworks announced major events such as the birthday of a reigning sovereign, military victories, or the arrival of a new colonial governor.
Grand Illumination festivities begin at 4 p.m. when a town crier (of course Colonial Williamsburg begins the festivities with a town crier) officially opens the holiday season from the Courthouse steps. I’ve listed the highlights of the city's December 3rd events below. Visit colonialwilliamsburg.com for tickets and even more details.
Until 6:30 p.m., themed musical performances will be showcased on four Historic Area stages:
At the same time, the William & Mary a Capella group the Gentlemen of the College will sing on the new porch of the Raleigh Tavern.
Fireworks and Parade
The celebration culminates in “A Festival of Light and Thunder” at 7 p.m. with simultaneous free fireworks demonstrations above the Capitol, the Magazine and the Governor’s Palace, followed by a torch-lit procession of the Fifes & Drums down Duke of Gloucester Street. Visit colonialwilliamsburg.com for complete programming details.
The day’s dining highlights include:
Guest parking is available at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center.
Daytime programs included with Colonial Williamsburg admission
Good Neighbor Passes to the Governor’s Palace
Also on Dec. 3, Colonial Williamsburg is offering a single-site ticket to the iconic Governor’s Palace, available in limited quantities exclusively via the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer mobile app for $15. The ticket will only be available on Dec. 3. For just $10, residents of Williamsburg, James City County and the Bruton District of York County can visit the Governor’s Palace and other sites daily and enjoy other benefits with a Good Neighbor Annual Pass. For additional information and to purchase a Good Neighbor Annual Pass visit colonialwilliamsburg.com/good-neighbor.
Tickets and program information are available by visiting colonialwilliamsburg.com. Tickets, reservations and information are available by calling 855-296-6627, toll-free. Information, dining reservations and same-day program tickets are available via the free Colonial Williamsburg Explorer app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Information is also available by following Colonial Williamsburg on Facebook and @colonialwmsburg on Twitter and Instagram.
Knoxville Market Square is just about the perfect sliver of American civic and community life I’ve ever experienced. Located in the center of downtown, the square covers over one acre, with storefronts lining the east and west. The site became popular in the early 1800s, when farmers gathered to sell their produce. Now, you can still visit the local farmers’ market as well as people watch, see street performers, shop in unique boutiques, and eat at some of the best food trucks and restaurants in the area. For ideas for your next visit, check out my top-ten list below!
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!