Moon Palace Jamaica Grande

You will depart Montego Bay Airport in an Air conditioned Motor Coach and drive 90 minutes East along the main coastal highway, past many other resorts and amazing scenery, to reach Ocho Rios. I highly recommend utilizing the Mo’Bay Arrival and Departure Lounge and Services as you are personally met and escorted past all line ups and into an air conditioned lounge with where snacks and beverages are included.

On arrival into Ocho Rios, on the left hand side ,is the bay. At the furthest point is the entire Moon Palace Jamaica Grande property. Access is through the fenced and gated property, which gives you immediate access to the middle of the town, local shopping and straw markets. One of the highlights of this prime location is that it is only a 4 minute drive away the main Tourist attractions of Dunn River Falls and Mystic Mountain, home of the Jamaican Bobsled ride.

The lovely, protected and shallow beach has a security guard at the property line, preventing anyone but Guests of the hotel from walking to the point, which holds the Palace Dive shop, water excursion area and the Dolphinarium, home of 3 resident Dolphins and a Nurse Shark.

The Cruise Port is located directly opposite the Resort on the other side of the Bay and offers exciting views when ships call at the Ochi port and along with the Mountain, provide an excellent wind break to beach users. It is the perfect location to enjoy your Salt Fish and Ackee a the buffet where an entire station is devoted to traditional Jamaican foods.

Once inside, guests are treated to a choice of refreshing welcome cocktails and a damp, cold scented face towel to refresh themselves as their luggage is removed and processed for room delivery, before they complete their check in, inside at the very large front desk with 10 guest service stations. The resort gift shop is located directly across from it. There are 3 elevators, each with a 9 person capacity for the 14 floor South tower.

Once in your room, you will notice that the décor is modern, neutral and minimalist with a very large widow covering the expanse of an entire wall, affording you views of the ocean, the bay, the resort, the pools and the town of Ocho Rios itself. There is a small seating area for dinners or working and waiting on the table will be a welcome platter of fruit and wine.

There will be either a King sized bed or two double beds in your room and with the Family suites, there will be a connecting door between them to accommodate a total of 6 family members. The beds themselves are absolutely noteworthy because the comfort is completely unparalleled. Not only will you get good nights sleep, it will be hard to get out of bed, even knowing the beautiful surroundings which await you.

The closet is equipped with a laptop sized safe, a steamer for clothes, 2 housecoats and pairs of slippers to utilize during your stay. The bathroom has a massive stand up marble shower and all the bathroom amenities, like lotion, shampoo and conditioner are CHI products, including the blow dryer and flat iron. This saves valuable weight while considering what to pack for your vacation as all these high end luxury products will be waiting in your room.

jmpg amenities

The large 42 inch wall mounted TV is wired for internet and as a smart TV has the Room Service menu located under the “Palace” tab on screen. Of course your stay at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, comes with unlimited access to the free WIFI throughout the resort which has perfect reception no matter the location. You also have unlimited calling to Canada and the USA by dialing *92, the area code and phone number.

jmpg dresser tv area

The resort is a perfect mid size with a large variety of enclaves to tuck away into, which will provide areas for quiet reading, busy pool activities, music or sporting areas. There is a place for everyone at Palace to find contentment in the lifestyle which suits them best. The rooms with the higher numbers, located on the left as you depart 1 of the 3 elevators, have the best Ocean views. To the right side, the rooms face towards the Bay and over the town itself. As a result, the rooms at the front are much quieter at night time, as the building buffers the nightlife from the active Reggae nightclubs in Ocho Rios.

The resort has a natural and romantic ambiance but is also extremely child friendly; all of the children’s indoor daycare areas, outdoor playgrounds and water park features are located in front of the new building, just being finished and which will open in January 2016. This building is also closest to the water sports beach area and the beach volleyball court.

The area for teenagers, is located just down from the child’s area and can also be reached by paths in full sun or complete shade. There are multiple activities such as 2 ping pong tables, non motorized water sports, a flow rider and a teen lounge which has music, video arcade games and pizza. There is so much for them to do, it will be impossible for them to get bored with it.

The resort grounds are beautiful; from little bridges and river pools, the cement stamped cobble stone provides accessibility for people with limited mobility as well as for strollers.

The luxury pampering you expect from Palace Resorts in Mexico, is continued in Jamaica with their incredible AWE-SPA, which is the largest in the Caribbean with 34 treatment rooms. Not only does it house a salon for hair and nails, but a complete hydro therapy pool room, saunas, cold rooms and heated stone loungers.

This is an amazing location to explore the Ocho Rios area while surrounding yourself with luxury and pampering. The food throughout the resort is exceptional and the quality of service is exemplary. With the added bonus of a resort credit of $1500, this makes the all inclusive feature at the Jamaica Moon Palace Grande, the best value for your vacation dollar that is available in Jamaica. The best part is, you can actually book your vacation through TravelonywithJodi and I can make sure you get to experience the Moon Palace  Jamaica Grande resort this winter.

Jodi jmpg Nov 2015

 

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Gay LBT Friendly Resorts in Cuba

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Varadero is one of the Gay Friendliest places to visit in the Caribbean. There is no gay “scene” in Varadero as it is a tourist enclave which is kept extremely family friendly by the government, while in comparison, Havana does have a gay scene which is the largest in the entire Caribbean. There are excursions available to Havana from any of the resorts in Varadero, which can be booked directly from the front desk. Another option for guests who are more budget minded, is take the Viazul bus to Havana for day trips.

Varadero itself is all about the beach and sunshine, not necessarily the night life, as the majority of  evening activities take place on the resorts so guests simply don’t often feel the need to venture out to look for things to do.

Quite often you see same sex couples walking hand in hand on the beaches and on resort properties showing normal levels of Public Displays of Affection. The entire community is quite Gay friendly and there are simply not many restrictions or considerations to worry about when choosing your resorts, as all GLBT travelers have not expressed any major concern when staying at them. Many people do develop a preference to their resort destination, in accordance to their own personal style preference and budget.

Caleta is at the beginning of the Peninsula and of Varadero, so it has easy access to shops, restaurants and clubs.  The beach at this end has courser shell type sand, compared to the other end which tends to be finer. All the resort beaches in Varadero are wonderful and you can literally walk for miles.

RESORTS

The first resort I would highly recommend is the Breezes Varadero. Others which are GLBT friendly and accepting are: Royal Hicacos, Breezes Bella Costa , Tuxpan, Be Live Turquesa, Sunscape, Willemsted Curacao, Cuatro Palmas, Barlovento, Arenas Blancas. Arenas Blancas is the higher end sister property of Solymar and guests share amenities between them.

The more lively end of town is near the resorts of Cuatro Palmas, Palma Real and Solymar.

Solymar seems to have a younger and louder clientelle. If you prefer a quieter area, away from larger crowds, then traveling by coach 90 minutes to Cayo Coco might be warranted and properties to consider would be the Iberostar Mojito or the NH Laguna.

CLUBS

The most well known and popular bar for Gay friendly guests is called “CALLE 62” which is at the corner of Calle 62 and Av 1ra; just down the street you will find the “Havana Club”, which is mostly tourists with a 5 or 10 CUC cover charge. The bar hosts lesbians, gays, trans and heteros. At the end of this street is the “HAVANA CLUB” which is also gay friendly. The “Comprisita” is a great club to be found near the 4 Palmas and hosts more locals then tourists.

For pertinent information when in destination, simply ask any of the animation teams from the resorts, who are very familiar with the area and all new clubs which may have recently opened.

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Americans: Book your cruise in Canadian dollars

One of the best ways right now for an American to save money when booking a cruise vacation, is to pay for the trip in Canadian funds. The Canadian dollar has dropped dramatically and quickly over the last few months and as a result, it means an almost 20-25% discount for Americans when they ask their Travel Agent to charge them for their cruise in Canadian instead of US dollars.

You can pay for your cruise fare, taxes and gratuities. You can also prepay for On-board credits, so you don’t pay in USD while on the ship. You can go onto your cruise website and pre-book and pre-pay for your excursions as well and in many instances you can also arrange for things such as spa passes, which you can buy online and in advance of your cruise. Just remember that the exchange rate you are given depends on the day you book your trip.

A little bit of planning can go a long way to make cruising a very affordable vacation option, especially when you take advantage of cruise promotions which can include things such as 3rd, 4th and 5th guest sharing a stateroom, sailing for free, other than just paying taxes which would be combineable with promotions which include all alcoholic beverages or all dining choices at the specialty restaurants or even free wifi or shore excursion credits. It all depends on the cruise line you book with and the promotion’s they have.

Visit my Travelonly page and sign up for my Wednesday email for Travel deals and tips.

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Unexpected change of Travel Plans

Travelling often does not make a person a ‘seasoned traveler’. Oftentimes, real and valuable experience comes from running into complications which must be overcome. This helps to create a person who is unafraid of roadblocks and teaches you to easily navigate changes to plans, not just with travel, but in life. It allows you to be creative in your approach to solving issues and enables you to gain confidence that you can overcome them. You create competence with tribulations and you become an expert at knowing you can manage anything that comes your way. So, don’t be upset if and when your travel plans change, treat it like the opportunity it is. Unexpected changes to your travel plans will eventually happen and they do not have to ruin your vacation or the experience you hoped for. It is simply a way for you to grow into a more seasoned traveler who can share your epic adventure with others; remember, no great story ever shared, started with, “Everything was uneventful.”

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Are young adults allowed to drink on a Cruise ship?

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Alcohol is readily available when you cruise and most people expect to see quite a bit of drinking happen by fellow passengers while on-board. It is not unusual to see many guests enjoying libations from first thing in the morning until late at night. While most people are drinking responsibly, remember that this is a vacation and there will be times some adults will become rowdy. There are rules in place for dealing with guests who drink to excess.

The bar staff and attendants can and will cut off guests who become overly intoxicated. In extreme cases, when guests do violate any alcohol policies, such as: over consumption, provide alcohol to minors, demonstrate irresponsible behaviour, or attempt to conceal alcoholic items at security and or luggage check points or any other time, they may be disembarked at the next port or not allowed to board the ship at all.

This means that the guest will have to make their own way back to the port of embarkation, at their own expense. Being removed from a ship for drunken behaviour is not something that would be covered as an insurable claim for reimbursement, even if you had travel insurance, and means the person would be assuming all financial responsibility for their actions. All cruise lines have clearly defines Rules of Conduct for their guests, as well as clear policies surrounding the age of Majority for the legal consumption of alcohol.

When young adult children aged 18, 19, 20 are sailing with their parents and want a clear understanding of the Drinking Policy for them when sailing,  then have your Travel Agent check the drinking policy of the cruise line you are sailing with and go to the Guest Services Desk once you are on-board with your child. This way there will be no misunderstanding as to what the regulations are, surrounding the drinking policy or the responsibility of the young adult or their parent if they choose to allow them to drink wine or beer during their vacation.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on Norwegian Cruise Line ships is 21. Guests who are 18 – 20 years of age can purchase and consume beer or wine when the ship is in international waters (3 miles out of US territorial waters). The age modification does not apply for Alaska and Hawaii sailings. The parent or legal guardian must be onboard the sailing with the young adult and present themselves at the Front Desk so they can sign the form allowing the consumption of beer and wine only. A notarized Parent Consent Form or any other document allowing for temporary guardianship for the purposes of the sailing only will not be accepted.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL)
The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on all Royal Caribbean International on sailings originating in North America is twenty-one (21). For sailings from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand is eighteen (18). The minimum age to consume alcohol at all private destinations remains twenty-one (21) without regard to where the sailing originated. The Company retains the right, on rare occasions, to raise the minimum age of alcohol consumption on any sailing when local laws require or permit such a modification. No guest under age 18 may possess or consume alcohol at any time while onboard. No guest under age 21 may possess or consume alcohol at our private destinations.

Carnival Cruise Line (CCL)
The minimum age for the purchase and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages in the bars, lounges and gift shops is 21 years of age. In the event that Bar/Restaurant/Gift Shop Staff are in question that the guest is less than 21 years old, they shall request picture identification, prior to serving the drink or selling the bottle of liquor.   Carnival reserves the right to refuse the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone.

MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company)
Alcoholic drinks in any form will not be sold to Minors during the cruise. Passengers under age 21 (for cruises that include a USA port) or under the age of 18 (for cruises that do not include a USA port) may not order or consume alcoholic beverages. When the itinerary includes a port located in the U.S.A the same conditions will apply for any passengers under the age 21. Passenger’s may be refused alcohol when in the reasonable opinion of the MSC staff, that the Passenger is likely to be a danger and/or nuisance to himself/herself, other passengers and/or the Vessel.

Celebrity Cruise Line
The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on Celebrity Cruises ships sailing from North America is 21. The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on Celebrity Cruises ships sailing from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand is 18. In certain circumstances where local laws permit or require, Celebrity Cruises may modify this policy which may also require parent/guardian request/authorization. No guest under age 18 may possess or consume alcohol at any time while on-board.

Princess Cruise Line
The legal drinking age of 21 years is always observed onboard and proof of age may be required. The age restrictions are clearly posted in the bars.

Cuba Cruise
The minimum drinking age on-board is 18 years old.

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Carnival Vista Mediterranean Cruise May 1 – 13th 2016

carnival-vista

Carnival Cruise Line makes sailing the Mediterranean affordable and you can do it on her newest and most modern ship, the Vista. We can package the Cruise with the Flights and Transfers, directly from Carnival so the entire process of Travel is seamless and worry free. This is a port intensive itinerary, so it is perfect for people who have never been to the region, to experience a wide variety of destinations.

ITINERARY
13 DAY TO EUROPE FROM TRIESTE, ITALY
Carnival Vista – Sailing Date: May 01, 2016

CRUISE 

DAY 1 Port Trieste, Italy                                                  Depart 7:00 PM

DAY 2 Fun Day At Sea

DAY 3 Port Dubrovnik, Croatia            Arrive 7:00 AM  Depart 5:00 PM

DAY 4 Fun Day At Sea

DAY 5 Port Athens, Greece                  Arrive 7:00 AM  Depart 7:00 PM

DAY 6 Port Izmir (Ephesus), Turkey    Arrive 9:00 AM  Depart 6:00 PM

DAY 7 Port Crete (Heraklion), Greece  Arrive 9:00 AM  Depart 7:00 PM

DAY 8 Port Fun Day at Sea

DAY 9 Port Valletta, Malta                    Arrive 7:00 AM  Depart 5:00 PM

DAY 10 Port Palermo (Sicily), Italy      Arrive 7:00 AM  Depart 4:00 PM

DAY 11 Port Rome, Italy                       Arrive 7:00 AM  Depart 8:00 PM

DAY 12 Port Florence/Pisa, Italy           Arrive 7:00 AM  Depart 7:00 PM

DAY 13 Port Marseilles, France             Arrive 9:00 AM  Depart 6:00 PM

DAY 14 Port Barcelona, Spain               Arrive 6:00 AM

 

Things to do On Board
There are 14 Bars on the Vista, 17 different dining locations (some with a fee), a Library, an Internet café, Bingo, Art exhibitions, Seminars and Auctions, Dodge Ball, Volleyball, Basketball, Mini-putt, Shopping, Dance classes, Bingo, a full Casino, Piano Bars, Theatre productions, a movie theatre, movies played OUTSIDE and under the starts, TONS of live music, Karaoke,  and a Night Club for dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

 

Serenity Adult-Only Retreat
The Serenity Adult-Only Retreat is a world of complete peace, sea breezes and swaying hammocks. On Carnival Vista, we’re taking the chill to new highs with even more options for stretching out and getting comfy. And now, you can get a light bite with a chopped salad station right here. Serenity’s the place to do the stuff that’s hard to do in everyday life — reconnect with your partner, finish that book, or do absolutely, blissfully, nothing at all.
carnival-vista-serenity

Carnival Water Works
For those who flock to waterparks just ready to make a splash, we’d suggest sliding on over to Carnival Vista’s WaterWorks. Classic spiraling waterslides, a giant bucket, an expanded SplashZone, water toys and more — you know, the works — are simply overflowing here for your hydro-delight. But make sure to see the all-new Kaleid-O-Slide… preferably from inside. This raft slide — for one or two — takes speedy-good times to the next level with lights, colors and all-around fun.
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Sky Ride
SkyRide is a bit like riding a bike — you’ll never forget it. But SkyRide is also completely unlike riding a bike, because when was the last time you biked around a ship, high above the deck and even higher above the sparkling blue sea? Zip safely around our two-lane suspended course in a pedal-powered go-mobile, in search of your biggest racing victory, lowest lap time… or simply the greatest view.

 

Cherry on Top
Cherries make the already-sweet a little bit sweeter. That’s why you’ll find Cherry on Top, our candy-and-more store, on Carnival Vista. This is the go-to spot for the sweet stuff… but there are surprises in store, like a premium ice cream counter with goodies for mixing and topping. Cherry on Top also features accessories for celebrations, plus great gifts to take home for that special someone, even if — admit it — that someone happens to be you!
vista candy store

THE PUNCHLINER COMEDY CLUB
Carnival has teamed up with renowned comedian and TV personality George Lopez.

 

HASBRO, THE GAME SHOW
You’ve played Connect 4 and Yahtzee, but have you ever played giant versions of them onstage in a competition that puts your gaming skills to the test? You’ll have your chance when you take part in Hasbro, The Game Show. From SORRY! SLIDERS to YAHTZEE BOWLING, CONNECT 4 BASKETBALL, OPERATION SAM DUNK and SIMON FLASH, you can team up with your friends and family to win great prizes, all in front of a live audience.

 

IMAX (fee for use)
Hollywood blockbusters, recent hit films and IMAX shorts, all in a huge format; the very first IMAX Theatre at sea.

 

PRICING
Pricing is going to depend on room location. Mid-ship and higher floors will be priced higher than lower floors or those located at the Forward or Aft locations of the ship. A Balcony will cost more than an Ocean view and an Interior room will have the best entry level pricing. A mid ship Balcony, on an upper deck, will start at around  $2,499.00, an  Oceanview room will start  $1,719.00 per person and an Interior at $1,449.00 per person.
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Contact TravelonlywithJodi to get more information on current pricing and availability for this amazing cruise.

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When a valid passport is unuseable

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Most people in North America are familiar with the fact that for Trans-border and International travel, you will be required to present a valid passport to gain entry into another country. Every country has its own requirements for entry and the country you may be going to, might have different rules than the one you just left. Most countries require a certain amount of unused time on an individuals passport.

The sole responsibility for understanding the rules for entry into another country, is the person seeking entry. Navigating various Government web sites to ensure your pre-travel knowledge of Passport requirements, Health regulations and Visitors Visa’s, can be both daunting and time consuming.

The cost of a Canadian Passport is more than reasonable and with upwards of 70% of Canadians holding valid passports, it means that a high number of Canadians are travelling outside of the country for vacations and for work purposes. Roughly 33% of all Americans now hold valid passports as well.

Statistics show people are applying for and using their passports to travel, so it means there are a lot of new Travelers, who may not completely understand that they are responsible for knowing the entry requirements into other countries, especially if they have booked online and did not have the assistance of a Travel Professional to help guide them, through the experience. This is compounded by the problem of people not reading the fine print, where the majority of the important information is located.

The biggest misunderstanding people seem to have with their passports validity period, is that while a passport may be valid for a period of 5 or 10 years, depending on the option you chose to get, you may not be able to use that passport to travel with into another country; if the passport expires in less than a year from your expected date of travel, then you must check the rules of the country you want to visit, to see if you can use your existing Passport.

This upsets some people, as it seems that if you’re paying for a 5 or 10 year period of time, the reality of the document might be that it is only really be valid for 4.5 or 9.5yrs. This is a general misconception, because the validity may vary depending on the destination and not the actual passport. Do not make travel plans or purchase travel until you check and understand the rules of the destination you are going to. Some countries even require you to have a blank page on a passport or they refuse entry.

Travel requirements for a Canadian citizen, holding a Canadian Passport are subject to change and the below list is a general idea of what the rules are ‘now’ and may not be valid when you travel, which is why it is imperative to check before you purchase any tickets. If you attempt to travel using a valid Canadian Passport, that does not meet the requirements of the country you are going to, then you can be denied entry, even if you actually were able to board a plane and travel to the destination.

Being stranded at immigration in a foreign country, being denied entry, means that you would have to pay for a change fee to alter your ticket, as you would be required to immediately leave the country on the next flight back to your country of origin. This expense is NOT something that would be covered by insurance. This is the reason why most passengers who make this booking mistake are stopped from boarding by an alert attendant at the point of departure. Ignorance of the rules do not absolve you of fault or financial liability for your error.

Canadians can travel on their existing passports as long as the expiry date on the Canadian Passport is valid up until the date of departure from that country which they list, as permissible. Just be aware that various Airlines and Tour Operators have rules which require your passport to be valid longer than what is required by the country you are visiting, which means you must check with their terms and conditions as well as the countries requirements. This is no different than what Americans can expect when travelling.

As an example, a Canadian Passport holder can travel using their valid passport with the expiry date as shown on their passport to: United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Bermuda and Turks and Caicos. A new passport would be required for travel to the following countries:

1 month from date of expiry: Cuba

3 months from date of expiry: Sint Maartin, Bahamas, Greece, Croatia, France, Spain, Italy, Germany

6 months from date of expiry: Honduras, Israel, India, China, Russia, Ivory Coast, UK

For American travelers, it is exactly the same concept as in Canada and it’s vital that they also check which countries require a 6 month validity on an American Passports. Unless you have the time available to research the rules and regulations as well as the terms and conditions surrounding your travel plans, then perhaps you should consider using a Travel Professional who books thousands of vacations and work related trips annually and who can provide you with guidance on how to navigate your trip successfully and with as little stress as possible.

Online is great for looking, but a Travel agent is the best for booking; it’s the extra things that they take care of, like researching the Passport and Visa requirements of various countries for you, which you may not even be aware of, which ensure things go as smoothly as possible. The best part, is the cost is the same whether you book alone or with professional guidance. By not using a Travel Professional, you’re really giving away some wonderful, valuable services.

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