A Special Mother’s Day Message

 

This year we wanted to take a moment to celebrate Mother’s Day and what it means to us.    We had our team write special messages about being moms sharing the world with their kids, about travelling with their moms or about those other special people and moments that give them happy mother figure feelings.   Grab your tissues and take a read!


ElenaEvery girl needs to have their own cheer team and I can say I’m lucky to have these two beautiful women in my corner.

Over the years they’ve travelled with me to Dance Recitals, to the gridiron to cheer me and the Saskatoon Valkyries Women’s Tackle Football Team on.  And in between we travelled to Alaska with Holland America.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re going it’s who you have beside you”

Mom, love you to the moon & Grandma, Love you both big time

Love Elena

 

 

 


Karen

I had an amazing chance to travel with my daughters to Germany. My oldest daughter was competing with Team Canada on the tap team. After the competitions were all over we got to spend an extra six days exploring our family history and some of the best Christmas markets in the world. Our youngest daughter brought a German phrase book with her everywhere we went and would try to figure out how to order our meals for us. I loved showing my daughters there was more to life than their own backyard.

Karen

 

 


I’ve been lucky enough to travel with my mom a few times. So far my favorite has been Greece! My mom was a farm kid growing up and never thought she’d ever leave North America. Getting to experience this adventure with her was unforgettable. We sailed the Greek Islands with G Adventures and met some amazing people! This was definitely a trip I’ll never forget!

Casie


JoanneI travelled with my niece, Steph to the Mayan Riviera in Dec 2017.

I can’t Thank you enough Steph for taking care of me when I had a medical emergency in Mexico even though I scared the life out of you. You are my hero and not sure what I would have done without you.  A niece is a gift whose worth cannot be measured except by the heart.  I am so proud of you and will love and cherish you forever.

Joanne


 

My happy place is on the beach with the people I love the most!  My little guy is just like his mom… Loves travelling and loves the sunshine!  We always have the time of our lives in Mexico.  I will always hold these travel memories dear to my heart.  Being a mom is the biggest adventure of all!

Czarina


Correna

As a travel agent we do tend to travel a little more than the average bear.  With our love of travel it tends to spill over into our families and our friends lives.  The first vacation that we took as a family was to Puerto Vallarta a few years ago.  Now to say we had to do some talking to convince our Mom that Mexico was safe was an understatement.  We finally convinced her and off the 7 of us went and had the best time.  She still talks about how much she enjoyed her trip and that she felt totally comfortable and safe for the 10 days we were there.

Correna

 

 

 

 

 


Jamie

I love travelling with my mom.  As a kid, we went on plenty of family holidays, but you see your parents in a different light as you get older.  You can connect with them as an adult and appreciate everything they did for you when you were younger.  Being able to travel with my mom and create new memories is a pleasure and a joy and something I don’t take for granted.

You never know when the memories will be all you have, so treasure the time together when you can.

Jamie

 

 

 

 

 


Mother's Day Blog- Kyra

The only trip I have really taken with just my mom and I (no other family members) was my high school travel club trip to France.  My mom came as a parent chaperone and even though there was a bunch of others on the tour, it was still really special for us!  It was her first trip to Europe and our first trip together!  I have such fond memories of our adventure exploring France together that will be cherished for a lifetime!  One of my favourite memories from the trip was in Paris!  We both have always wanted to see the Eiffel Tour and we had the opportunity to go up at night!  I really wanted to see the Eiffel Tower during the day as well and we had free time on our last day.  My friends all wanted to do other activities so my mom and I decided to figure out the Metro by ourselves and made our way to the Eiffel Tower!  We got the hang of the Metro very quickly and had a great afternoon bonding!  I can’t wait for my next adventure with my mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Kyra

 

 

 


Heather 2

When I think about travelling with my mom so many AMAZING memories pop up.   I think about riding bikes together in the Mayan jungle to find ancient ruins, floating in the perfect Caribbean Sea in Negril or trying not to melt to the sidewalks in Las Vegas.   Mostly though, I just think about the fact that we are so blessed to have been able to travel together just the two of us and with our extended family creating countless memories along the way.   Here’s to our next adventure together!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!
Heather


Colleen

Just about every year my sisters and I like to take a trip with Mom to some of our favourite destinations. This year was a little special as we were travelling to my sister’s home in Honduras.  There is nothing quite as fun as travelling with Mom and just my sisters.  It makes you feel like you are living at home again with Mom still running the show.  On our way down to Honduras, Mom and I were upgraded to Business Class hence the picture with the free wine.  Everyone should travel with family.  Life is short and memories of great trips are long.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.
Colleen


 

My most special “mother” trip has to be going to Ireland in February 2018; I had just recently found out that I was finally going to be a new momma myself! Traveling while pregnant was definitely a new experience, but I didn’t let it slow me down from doing all the sightseeing I wanted to do throughout Ireland. Luckily I was on a coach tour with Cosmos, so I had lots of opportunities to get in some afternoon naps along the way.

Though the little one won’t be here yet for Mother’s Day 2018, it’s going to be an extra special one for me. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother figures out there!

Stephanie


 

We hope that you do something extra special with the special people in your life very soon. If you would like to plan a trip with your mom we would LOVE to help you make it a vacation to remember.  Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

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TRAVEL AGENT DAY 2018 – GET TO KNOW OUR TEAM

Today, May 2nd 2018, is Travel Agent Day!  It’s a day that we take to celebrate all that our hard working agents do.  There is so much dedication, knowledge, time and love that goes into each trip they book and we know they do their very best to make sure everything about your travel arrangements is carefree!

We had each of our agents take a few minutes to answer some questions so that you can get to know a little bit about who they are.  Check it out!

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Elena photoELENA KUBE

What is the one thing you always travel with? My Bathing Suit you never know when you’ll find a pool.  My blow up floating ring if it’s a beach/hot destination.  And slippers, I don’t like walking on hotel room carpet.

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet? Greece, Croatia, Bali, Ireland

What is your top travel tip? Pack at least one clean pair of undies and a shirt in your carry-on bag.  If your bag goes missing at least you have something clean to change into.  Plus a water bottle, fill it up after security so you have it on the flight or while your touring around on your trip.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? Every trip I’ve been on has been my favorite for one reason or another.

Tell me about your favourite travel moment(s)? Taking an Alaskan Inside Passage Cruise with my mom, grandma and my sister for my birthday.  Going to Turkey & Egypt with my cousin for my 30th  Being proposed to on the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  Landing in Abbotsford and having my 2yr old nephew greet me.

Why did you become a travel agent? I was 18yrs old and right out of high school and went to Australia. I returned I knew I should go back to school so I thought why not become a travel agent.

COLLEEN LORENZEN Travel Agent Day 2018 - Colleen photo only 3

What is the one thing you always travel with?  I always  travel with my reader as it saves me carrying so many books

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet? We have been talking about walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain for so long and we are finally going to do it this summer.  Super excited.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? My favourite is Maui because we have such a relaxing holiday when we go there.  I love that we can travel around the island with no worries.

Tell me about your favourite travel moment My favourite travel moment was when we were at the Pyramids in Giza and because we travelled shortly after the revolution in Egypt there were only a handful of tourists so you felt like you were totally alone with some of the most beautiful monuments in the world.

 

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Stephanie photo onlySTEPHANIE AFSETH

What is the one thing you always travel with?  I never go anywhere without my earbuds. Music or movies help me zone out, especially on long flights, so they are usually the first thing in my bag.

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  Africa is the top of my “one day” list. I’d love to safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Both my husband and I love animals, and I can’t wait for the day I get to see a hippopotamus in its natural habitat.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? So far I love South East Asia the most. The culture is so different from North America, the food is so flavorful, generally it’s cost effective once you are there, and you can’t beat having warm weather all the time.

Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  I’ll never forget my first coach tour. I spent 14 jam packed days in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with Contiki. It was my first introduction to Asia, and to group touring. It’s such a great way to meet people, and many of us keep in touch via Facebook. Seeing the sun rise over Angkor Wat, riding elephants in Laos, and taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai are some of the highlights I’ll always remember.

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Kyra photo onlyKYRA DECEMBER

Why did you become a travel agent?  I became a travel agent because I have a passion for traveling and seeing the world and I love helping my clients experience the world as well!  I love making their experience as stress-free as possible from the moment they start planning until the moment they arrive back home from their own adventures!

Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  My favourite travel moment so far would have to be the hour long helicopter tour over Kauai that I had the opportunity to partake in this January!  I have always wanted to do a helicopter ride and Kauai was the perfect setting for it!  The views of the Waimea Canyon, countless waterfalls, and the Napali Coast were absolutely breathtaking!  We even seen some whales from our helicopter!  An opportunity of a lifetime that I highly recommend!

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  I  want to see as much of the world as possible, however, one destination I dream of visiting is Croatia!  It looks like such a beautiful country with a mix of beaches, history, culture, and nature!  I plan to make my way over there one day!

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Correna photo onlyCORRENA TYMCHEN

What is the one thing you always travel with?  Well Hopefully my passport lol.  You can read about Correna’s stolen passport adventure here  https://goo.gl/kg3WCS

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet? Romania to see Dracula’s castle is #1 on my bucket list.  I can’t wait to see where Vald the Impaler lived and ruled.

What is your top travel tip? Always have your snacks and water as you never know if you will have a long delay.  Also, if you are a dress wearer I recommend wearing a maxi dress on the plane as it doubles as a blanket.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? My favourite is Puerto Vallarta by far.  The weather is usually always good, it is a quick flight and the food and people are amazing.

Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  I would have to say my trip last year to Scotland, we visited one of the castles that was used in the show Outlander.  I can still see Jamie walking out of the castle right into my arms ahhhh.

Why did you become a travel agent? To help make people’s dreams come true.  I work with a few amazing people and companies that help people plan their dream vacations, this is by far the best part of my job.  There is nothing better than to help families make lasting memories.

JOANNE PIDWERBETSKYTravel Agent Day 2018 - Joanne photo only

What is the one thing you always travel with?  Always travel with a small blanket on the airplane.  I always freeze.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? My favourite destination is Iceland.  I still dream about bathing in the Blue Lagoon.  It is exactly like the pictures you see.  Truly amazing!!

 

 

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Karen photo only

 

KAREN KATELNIKOFF

What is the one thing you always travel with?
The one thing I always travel with is my noise cancelling headphones, you never know when you need a nap!

What is your favourite destination to visit and why?
My favorite destination is of course Disney World. There is something magical and carefree that takes over the moment you walk through the gates at Magic Kingdom and you set eyes on Cinderella’s castle. I does not matter how many times I have been there the feeling is always the same.

 

 

 

JAMIE MILTON Travel Agent Day 2018 - Jamie photo only

What is your top travel tip? Always be early – there is always the chance of long lineups, shortage of staff at security, road work, traffic accidents, etc that will delay you getting to your destination or departure gate on time.  You don’t want to miss a flight/excursion/event because of unexpected delays that could be avoided by leaving a bit early.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? Hawaii.  There is always something new to see and experience and each island is so unique.  I love the freedom and comfort of being able to drive around, eat anything, drink anything and go anywhere with my family.  It is a feeling of being at “home”, but the setting is 1000 times better!

Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  We were on our second day of a Safari at Kapama Game Reserve in South Africa.  It was the most amazing day.  We went for a morning game drive, then spent the afternoon at the spa.  On the evening game drive we saw all of the animals we had been waiting for – elephants, white rhino, water buffalo, lions and even the elusive leopard at the very end of our night.  There was a full moon and it felt magical.  After a dinner with the staff singing and dancing, we went for a walk and that is where my husband proposed – on a dry river bed, under a full moon in the middle of a beautiful lodge in South Africa – a perfect end to a perfect day.

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Czarina photoCZARINA SASTAUNIK

What is the one thing you always travel with?   – My phone!  Besides being my camera and my way to contact home, I love utilizing travel apps to help navigate my trip and make it a little easier.  Zomato is one of the best food apps for any travelling Foodie looking for restaurant ideas!

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  Egypt!  I would love to see the pyramids in person.

What is your top travel tip?   Take copies of your passports and travel itinerary and leave with trusted family or friends.    (I can change this if someone has used this.)

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? Too many to list but I have a special place in my heart for Italy.

Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  Feeding kangaroos in Australia was pretty special.  I love the wildlife there!

Why did you become a travel agent?  It’s a family affair!  My mom is a proud retired travel agent and my youth was filled with fun trips all over the world and lots of plane rides.  Becoming an agent has allowed me to travel all over the world.  A new stamp in my passport is always such a thrill for me!

MARCY MELNYKTravel Agent Day 2018 - Marcy photo only

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  Bora Bora

 Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  Seeing the wide eyed look and beaming smile on your young daughter’s face the moment she gets to meet in person her favorite Disney princess at Disneyland.  Priceless!

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Helen photo onlyHELEN KLASSEN

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  I have always dreamed of travelling to New Zealand. I have heard so many positive and amazing aspects about it.

What is your favourite destination to visit and why? Ireland was my favorite destination to visit. It is such a beautiful country with it’s stunning scenery, and fun and friendly people. The country offers something for everyone; from it’s poetry and history, to their local cuisine, numerous pubs, and magical charm.

Tell me about your favourite travel moment.  My favorite travel moment was taking my two children to Disneyland when they were young. Seeing the excitement on their faces and watching them believe in the magic of that atmosphere is something I will never forget.

ANNETTE FREYTravel Agent Day 2018 - Annette photo

What is the one thing you always travel with?   The one thing I always travel with is granola bars and Pringles. You just never know when you have a snack attack.

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  The next destination I would like to travel to is Ireland.  The pictures look amazing and a place with Beer can’t be wrong.

 

 

Travel Agent Day 2018 - Casie photo only

 

 

CASIE SCHMIDT

What is the one thing you always travel with?  I always travel with my camera. I love being able to look back at the places I’ve been and memories I’ve made.

What destination do you dream of visiting that you haven’t made it to yet?  I have always dreamed of going to Australia and New Zealand. I would love to go sky diving in New Zealand!

What is your favourite destination to visit and why?  Italy has been my favorite destination so far because of the people I met. It’s a beautiful country to explore plus so much pizza, pasta and wine!

Why did you become a travel agent?  In grade 12 I went to Vietnam and that was my first big trip. I completely fell in love with travel so I became a travel agent to help people make their dreams come true. I think there is so much to see in the world and everyone should experience it.


Want to know more about the adventures our team has been on?  Check out our YouTube channel or our Instagram page for tons of fun content from our own trips.

 

The Big Island of Hawaii, with Kids and Grandparents – Part 3

Big Island Activities:

As our time on the Island draws to a close, I reflect on all we have experienced in our two weeks here.  This truly is an island for those seeking adventure and unique experiences in a beautiful, diverse and laid back atmosphere.  You definitely need a car rental to make the most of your time and you often need to drive around the island to seek out the best spots, but it is well worth the effort.  We will be going home with unforgettable memories – here are a few of our favourites:

 

Beaches:  The beaches are as different and diverse as you can possibly imagine.  From black sand to green sand to white sand and from calm waves to rocky snorkeling areas to big surf…if you don’t like the one you are at – drive down the road and find another.  My personal favourite of the four we tried was Spencer Beach Park.  It isn’t the largest or the most beautiful, but it was a really nice combination of a quiet beach, nice sand, safe water for kids, but still had snorkeling areas and nice facilities.  Great for families.

 

Island Breeze Luau:  I have been to many luaus on several islands.  This was probably my number 2.  I thought the food was great – they even had a kids buffet with chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, etc. which was a hit, the performers were excellent, the cost was reasonable – especially their kids rates.  The only reason I liked the Aulii Luau at the Sheraton Kauai better was the setting was prettier and I thought their MC/host was better.

 

 

Royal Kona Coffee Center:  This was one of 29955270_10155305011165009_1172866991_oour stops enroute from Kona to the Volcano National Park.  It’s free:   FREE walking tour, FREE samples of Coffee and Tea and Rum Cake, they have a great gift shop, a pretty view and a lava tube you can walk through.  All in all it is a great pit stop to break up the long drive.

 

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (City of Refuge):  This is a national park area and normally there is a charge for a vehicle to enter and park.  On the day we were there, the gates were open and there was no charge.  This was another stop enroute to the volcano and was just south of the Kona Coffee Center.  It was an interesting place to learn about the Hawaiian history and a very pretty setting.  I wish we had taken our swimsuits as it was quite hot out and there was a nice little beach spot there as well.  There are no food services, but I asked for advice for a lunch stop nearby and she suggested the South Kona Fruit Stand – at the top of the hill – made to order sandwiches, fresh fruit and smoothies and you could eat in their shady tropical garden.  It was a nice, relaxing lunch spot – smoothies were excellent, sandwiches were ok.  The next stop would have been 40 minutes away and this worked well for us.

29894285_10155305008535009_492015610_oVolcano Winery:  This little gem is located about 5 minutes before you reach the gates to enter the Volcano National Park.  They make about 10 different kinds of wine – whites, reds and fruit blends. For $5 they let you sample 7 different wines – a good deal!  The ladies who were running the winery were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable about their wines.  They have a unique store where they sell some gift-ware and their wines.  We enjoyed our stop here and the wine tasting.

 

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Volcanoes National Park:  Far and away, this was my favorite thing I did on the Big Island, but mainly because we had perfect Volcano viewing weather while we were there and also because we had planned to spend the night at the Volcano House hotel, giving us unparalleled views of the Kilauea Caldera at night.  The Volcano National Park is about a 2 hour drive from Kona or 35 minutes from Hilo over unfamiliar, windy roads.   We really wanted to see the Volcano at night to get the full effect of the glow, but we weren’t keen on driving back in the dark and it would have been a very long day with the kids.  The Volcano House hotel isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the cost to get the full experience.  I would urge you to consider adding this extra night into your trip budget to maximize your experience.

The Volcano House hotel is a National Park Hotel and was first built in the 1800’s.  It is rustic and quaint, not luxurious.  The lobby has a big wood burning fire place and seating with a view of the volcano.  There is a lounge and a restaurant that both serve lunch, dinner and drinks. The food in the lounge was very reasonable – most adult dinners around $14/15 USD and kids around $10 USD.  In this kind of a captive setting, I would have expected them to charge more.  The restaurant also serves a buffet breakfast that was quite good, but very busy.  Half of the hotel rooms are Crater View – splurge on the extra charge!  All night long, every time I would wake up, I would look out the window and see a glowing volcano.  This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.  The Volcano National Park has hours and hours of hiking trails through Sulphur Flats, around the Caldera Rim, to the Jagger Museum and through the Thurston Lava Tube.  You could spend days here hiking and enjoying the unique nature of the area.  They also have a Parks Center, an Art Center and the Jagger Museum, which outlines the history of the Volcano and also has the very best views of the Caldera at night.  I was glad we had a full 24 hours in the park – we could have easily spent a few more days.  It costs $25USD for a car to enter the National Park.  This gets you entry for up to 7 days.

Panaewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo:  On our way Panawa Rainforest Parkhome from the Volcano to Kona, we took the cross-island route down through Hilo, then across the island, instead of going south.  We stopped in at the Rainforest Zoo – FREE (entrance by donation only).  Their main claim to fame is two tigers (one Orange named Sriracha and one White named Tzatiki).  They also had monkeys, ant eaters, alligators, lots of tropical birds and much more.  It was a nice stop and we would have stayed longer, but it was very hot out and my little guy wasn’t feeling well.

30123879_10155311770040009_8396378751184666624_oAtlantis Submarine Kona:  I was excited to take the kids on their first underwater adventure as they are too young for any real snorkeling or scuba.  Check in is located in the Courtyard King Kamehameha hotel and they offer reduced parking rates for the Atlantis customers.  Check in was smooth, all was well.  We took a boat out to the Submarine – roughly 40 people.  I walked down into the Submarine and found myself walking right back off.  I have never gotten claustrophobic in my life, but I had a minor panic attack before the hatch was even closed and knew I had to get off.  The crew was wonderful!  They let me off and back up onto the launch boat. 29791472_10155311769975009_7733040435504873472_o  The rest of my family stayed onboard and went on the adventure as planned.  I waited out the 45 minutes aboveboard on the boat in the very pleasant company of three other crew members. They filled me in on their favourite places to eat, favourite beaches, etc. and told me some of their history with the island – why they came, or where they grew up, the lava flows in recent history and how they went through a town near to one of them.  It was the most entertaining visit I have had in ages.  My family re-emerged from the deep blue sea, excited and bursting with news of the fish and eels and shipwrecks they had seen and I was quite content with my time spent on the boat.  Thank you Atlantis Submarine all around for a lovely outing.  Side note:  please don’t think you will get claustrophobic – every other person on the boat was fine and enjoyed their time undersea!

30074460_10155309712645009_728944244_oSunset MaiTai:  While in Hawaii, you need to take time to enjoy the sunsets; weather permitting, they are spectacular.  The best way to do this is to find an oceanfront spot and enjoy a quintessential Hawaiian cocktail – the Mai Tai.  My favourite place on the Big Island for this is Huggo’s lounge.  Huggo’s is oceanfront in downtown Kona, beside the Royal Kona Resort.  They have a free parking lot (bonus) and $5 Happy Hour sunset specials that include cocktails, beer and house wine.  The Mai Tai’s at Huggo’s are the best I have ever had and the view can’t be topped.  We also had dinner one night at this restaurant.  The food was very good and the service was excellent.

Now it’s time to start packing our bags to get ready for the journey back to Saskatoon.   Aloha!

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The Big Island of Hawaii, with Kids and Grandparents – Part 2

“A Tale of Three Beaches”

I knew when coming to the Big Island that it wasn’t known for its beaches – more for the activities, adventure, volcanoes, etc.  I knew that there wasn’t a beach in front of our hotel and that would be the case with most of the hotels on this island.  When you come to Kona, you need to be prepared to explore and find the best spots on the island and you definitely need to have a car.  Being prepared for all of that, we have set out on a quest to find some of the best beaches this week.

 

pexels-photo-91474 snorkel fins beachBeach 1:  Kahaluu Beach Park.  This is the closest beach to our hotel.  It is about a 15 min walk or 3 minute drive down Alii Drive.  It got almost 5 stars on a review site and was reported to be one of the best snorkeling sites on the island when it comes to quantity and variety of fish.  We were told it was a lot of lava rocks, but there were sandy ways to enter the water.  Reality:   This is a very small rocky, black sand beach.  There were TONS of snorkelers here, so I assume the snorkeling was very good.  However, the “sandy” paths to enter the water were very rocky and hard on the feet and there were a lot of sea urchins.  You shouldn’t come without proper water shoes and it was very dangerous and slippery for little guys and old guys.  I would come if you are an experienced snorkeler but not with little kids.  We stayed all of 5 minutes, packed up and went back to the pool.

 

Spencer Beach Park 2Beach 2:  Spencer Beach Park.  After the disappointment of Kahaluu, I called in the experts.  Our friends who have been here with their kids numerous times.  I asked them what a few of their favourite beach spots were for kids.  On their recommendation, we decided to drive the hour or so to Spencer Beach Park up on the Kohala Coast.  There was a bit of traffic as we made our way through Kona, but after that it was smooth sailing and an interesting drive through lots of lava fields.  I think I was most surprised by theSpencer Beach Park number of wild goats!  We arrived at Spencer Beach Park early around 930am and it was a beautiful spot.  It’s a calm bay, good for kids to go in the water and there was snorkeling in the rocks on either end of the beach and the reef a bit further out.  There were two sets of bathroom facilities – one on either end – plus tennis courts and camping areas.  It wasn’t very busy or crowded and was a pretty and safe beach.  I felt it was well worth the drive and we enjoyed our couple of hours there.  On a recommendation from the same friends, we also tried Kohala Burger and Taco – a 4 minute drive from Spencer Beach Park.  It was a friendly little spot that had takeout as well as a few picnic tables to dine in.  The food was wonderful and all the burgers are homemade.  For burgers, chicken, fries and onion rings for five of us, it was about $60, which isn’t too bad for island dining prices.  We didn’t try their tacos, but it was Taco Tuesday and we could have gotten 2 tacos, fries and a drink for $6 which is a really good deal. If you are headed up towards North Kohala, give this place a try!

 

Magic Sand Beach 2Beach 3:  Magic Sands.  On our drive back from Spencer Beach Park, we took Alii Road along the coast, instead of the highway.  We saw the beachfront/touristy part of Kona for the first time and we also noted a nice little beach near our hotel (about 1 mile further than Kahaluu).  It was called Magic Sands Beach and we decided to give it a try the following day.  I read online that the shorebreak could be dangerous and to use Magic Sand Beach 1caution in the water.  We arrived at Magic Sands early as parking is really limited.  It was another beautiful, sunny day and although there was lots of room when we arrived, the beach started to fill up quickly.  There is a lifeguard on duty all the time and it’s a good thing as the waves were big and they constantly kept reminding people to watch their kids in the water and be careful of the shorebreak.  It was very easy to get tumbled around a bit and you need to keep your kids near and hang on to the little guys at all times.  The white sand is like sugar and the water is clear and blue.   It is a very pretty little bay and probably one of the best beach spots in the Kona area.  There are basic bathroom facilities on one end.  We liked this little beach spot and because it’s so close and convenient, I’m sure we will be back.

 

Aloha!

The Big Island of Hawaii, with Kids and Grandparents – Part 1

Our family loves Hawaii, we have been here numerous times.  When we started planning our holiday for this year, we decided to try a new island – The Big Island.  My oldest daughter, who is almost 10, wanted to see the Volcano and the rest of us were up for exploring something new.

 

I booked our 2 bedroom condo with the Kona Coast Resort for my family, as well as a 1 bedroom condo for my parents.  This resort was getting great reviews online and looked to have everything we needed.  When it came time to book our flights, Air Canada had a connection on the way here that allowed us to only stop one time in Vancouver and arrive early afternoon.  This seemed like a nice change from always arriving late at night, so we decided to give that a try.

 

Saturday morning saw us all getting up bright and early so we could catch our 4am shuttle to the Saskatoon airport for our 600am flight.  We had pre-arranged a van with Provincial Car Service that would fit all 7 of us with

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Kid’s backpacks with AC Altitude Skyrider tags

lots of luggage.  As usual, they were on time and the driver was excellent.  We breezed through check in with a friendly and helpful AC agent and there was almost no lineup at security.  Our flight boarded on time and all seemed to be going well.  That’s where the ‘easy’ stuff ended. 

 

We were sitting at the gate, boarded and ready to go, when the pilot came on to announce that the fog was making the visibility too limited and we had to wait for the fog to clear a bit before we could take off.  We had a two hour connection in Vancouver so I wasn’t too worried about a few minute delay.  A half hour later, the flight attendant came by to make sure I knew that I would have a tight connection.  I said “but we will still have about an hour and a half right”….she gave me a look that said I was clearly living in a fantasy world, but kindly said “at best” with a sympathetic smile.  A half hour later we were finally cleared to leave, but had to de-ice.  By now, I was sure we were going to miss our connection.  Panic set in, but two things kept me going: 

1) I had called one of the Uniglobe Travel agents at my office and she looked up the next best option – a flight leaving Vancouver that evening and was ready to purchase them for us when we landed in Vancouver if necessary. 

 

2). We had the all-encompassing Manulife Premium Protection Plan insurance.  I knew if we needed to purchase new tickets, get an overnight hotel, extra meals, taxi’s, etc. – all the things that come from unexpected missed connections – that they would pay for these unexpected charges and I wouldn’t be out of pocket all that money.  I also knew that if we made it and our bags didn’t that I could go and buy our necessities until our bags arrived.  Major peace of mind during a crisis!

I have to give Kudos to our AC flight attendant.  I wish I had her name.  During the flight, she knew we were stressed.  She called ahead to Vancouver to make sure they had our gate checked stroller off first, asked if they could get a cart for us (they would try) and made an announcement that we had a tight connection and needed to get off first.

 

Our plane had made up a bit of time, so when we landed we had 1 hour to get across the airport, through security, through customs and to our gate before our plan left.  We had 20 minutes until our flight was boarding.  Eeeek, it was go time.  Our stroller was waiting when we rushed off the plane, but sadly there was no cart available.  Luckily, I knew exactly where we were going and had made that connection a few times to the USA through Vancouver.  I ran, dragging my husband, three little kids and my poor parents through the airport, huffing and puffing and sweating, we made it….to a huge lineup at security.  The longest lineup I had ever seen there.  I asked the AC agent there if we could be put through quickly for our connection.  She assured me we would be fine in the regular lineup.  I had my parents go in one line and us in another in an attempt to speed us up.  Then our lineup stopped.  Dead stop.  They were checking someone’s bags in great detail.  We finally got up to the front and were told our stroller couldn’t come in that line, we would have to go in a different line.  I was about to lose it when my little 3 year old boy looked at me and said “mommy, you’re so pretty”.  He may have saved the day as I then took a deep breath and asked if we could move to the front of the next line.  They agreed and off we went to customs.  I entered all our passports into the machine and we hit another snag.  It didn’t like my daughters passport and told us to see a customs agent.  At this point, I was sure we would miss our flight.  Then they shooed us to the customs agent right away, with barely a look our passports, he sent us on our way.  As we came running out of customs, there was an Air Canada agent asking our name and if we were on the Kona flight – like cheerleaders, the agents were spread along our route waving us on in the right direction to our flight and phew – we made it – the last to board, way past final boarding calls with everyone else seated and ready to go.  What a roller coaster!  I quickly sent a message to our Uniglobe agent that we made it and didn’t need alternative flights and we were on our way.

 

The flight to Kona with AC Rouge went well – smooth and on time, even with our slight delay.  We had lunch onboard since we didn’t have time to eat in Vancouver.  The sandwiches and cheese plates were quite good!  When we arrived in Kona, our bags were the first off (obviously the very last ones put on!) and we were quickly on our shuttle to the Hertz rent a car location.  Within 20 minutes or so we had our minivan and a car for mom and dad.

Our rate was significantly better than the current rate – it really pays to book car rentals early in Hawaii – last minute rates tend to get much higher.

Sunset from patio

Sunset from our lanai

It was about a 20 minute drive to our resort.  The Kona Coast resort is lovely – beautiful resort-like grounds with lots of landscaping and flowers.  There is a quiet pool at the back of the resort with a hot tub, a hot tub and playground right outside our door in the middle of the resort and a family pool, hot tub and restaurant at the front of the resort.  The resort is oceanfront, but there is no beach right at the hotel.  Our two bedroom unit is in Phase 2 and over the past year they have all received new carpet, new furniture, new granite counters in the kitchen, new bedding and curtains.  They have AC for a small extra daily charge, in suite laundry and dishwashers and the kitchens are well stocked. 

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There are three BBQ’s right outside our patio by the hot tub and playground.  Our location is excellent!   Across the street from the resort is a shopping center with lots of restaurants, a few shops, a large grocery store, a Longs Drugs, a medi-clinic and a movie theatre – very handy.  I’m about to head over there for our first Shave Ice of this vacation and will keep you posted on our adventures as we go through the next two weeks!  Aloha!

 

COLLEEN VISITED UTILA, HONDURAS

Recently we were in La Ceiba Honduras and decided to take the ferry over to the island of Utila and I am very happy that we did.  Utila is a very small island about ½ hour ferry ride from La Ceiba that is your perfect island getaway.  It is only 11.2km long and 3km wide so it makes it easy to walk almost anywhere.  It is known for its great diving as it is situated on the edge of the Mesoamerican reef which is the second largest living coral reef in the world.  I was told that it is also the least expensive place to get your PADI dive certification.

 

IMG_2189 (2)When our ferry pulled up to the dock we were met by different dive companies picking up passengers and hotels looking for customers.  We already had a reservation at the Jade Seahorse so we just jumped into a Tuk Tuk and we were off.  Because the island is so small, there are no cars.  Only Tuk Tuks, bikes or motor cycles.  We had heard great things about our hotel but we were not prepared for the beautiful artwork that makes up the grounds at the Jade Seahorse.  At the back are the 6 cabins that you can rent, each with its own decor and art work.  I say cabins but they all had a fridge, air conditioning, basket of toiletries and floor fans.  We stayed at the Fantasea which is on the top floor with roof top patios that have views of the ocean.  You would have to see it to believe it.  If you are not staying there, you can come in and have a look around.

 

The island is known for its greatIMG_2203 (2) restaurants and night life.  With names like Rehab, Relapse and Skid Row Bar and Grill it makes you think there is a theme there.  Utila is very inexpensive!   Beer is around $2.00 and suppers are no more than $20.00 .  If you are looking for someplace new to go where the water is fine and the living is easy, you should check out Utila.  We will definitely go back!

 

 

Uniglobe Basebar

Correna’s Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Royal Princess – Part 3

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lotus spa logo provided by Princess Cruise Line

So today we were in St. Lucia. It was very cloudy and extremely humid. I had my 12,000 steps in before 1030am and decided the moment I got back to the ship I was going to make a trip to the spa. The Lotus Spa on the Royal Princess had a great port day special. They had a Top to Toe massage and facial for 129.00 USD. The spa was amazing and a shout out to Danni who gave me the best message and facial ever.

Did you know that when you arrange your next cruise with a travel agent you will usually receive an on board credit that you can apply to your on board services and purchases.

The regular price of the massage and facial was $219.00 USD so take advantage of great savings when you visit the spa on port days! If you have plans to visit the spa while cruising your busiest days are on sea days as well the most expensive. Just your tip for the day. 😊

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