Pat here and just recently back from the Travel Forum Conference in Las Vegas. I thought I would share a review of my stay at the Paris hotel property – followed by a rundown of some of the sights and activities you might consider including on your next foray to this perennial favorite U.S. destination. Vegas isn’t just for gamblers these days!


First, an overview of my recent stay at the Caesar’s Paris Resort on the Vegas Strip. Check-in was quick – I utilized one of the self-check-in kiosks which was very easy, intuitive, and took maybe all of two minutes. My room was on the 29th floor — of course all the way at the end of the hallway – impeccably clean, with a comfy king bed, offering an array of pillows at varying degrees of firmness, totally offering something for everyone. The bathroom was lovely, nicely appointed with handsome finishes – a roomy shower, a separate tub – this could be a great space for families. There was also a comfortable lounge chair with an ottoman assuming that occasionally they entertain visitors who might actually have time to lounge. While this was certainly not the case on my visit, nice to have that option. The room was also nicely set up for business travelers – unfortunately, the desk chair was barely adequate – I’ll be gracious and just tell you that after an hour or so, it felt more like a medieval torture device – they need to address this shortcoming soon.

As to the hotel property itself and the public areas – not surprisingly, it’s themed to make you feel like you’ve landed in Paris. Yes, it’s a little hokey – but surprisingly charming as well, and I actually much preferred this to some of the modern, minimalist hotels where I’ve stayed in Vegas. The conference facilities were convenient, spacious, comfortable, and well laid out … this a great property for a large conference like the Travel Agent Forum. At some of the conferences I’ve attended, the meeting rooms have been so strung out that each day was an endurance run just making your way from one session to the next. Venues at the Paris hotel were well located and I especially note that the climate was well regulated – we weren’t frozen into icicles which is frequently the case at most of these large conferences.

One of our evening events was a reception held at the truly breathtaking pool deck on the third floor of the hotel. Truly, to say it is “expansive” is something of an incredible understatement! Pathways meander around a huge pool – if I were on a leisure trip, I could see whiling away many an afternoon here. In early April, there was still a noticeable chill in the air in the early evening, and unfortunately, it was also extremely windy the night of our event, so much so that I didn’t hang around for more than a half hour or so. Still, this is a great venue and if you stay here, do bring a swimsuit to enjoy a few hours poolside. This venue is absolutely stellar!

The one negative in the public areas – the elevators were, frankly, just filthy. The door tracks looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned since the property opened: the doors, corners of the cars … every single car I was in was equally dirty. It wasn’t like the cleaning staff had missed them for a night or two … more like the hotel opened and everyone forgot they were there. Inexplicable to me as I didn’t see anything else in the entire establishment that didn’t look clean and well looked after.

Food. You’ll have LOTS of great choices at the Paris property. American, Japanese, and of course, French-themed restaurants abound. I ate breakfast and lunch at the Americano Café … the Denver Omelet was as good as I’ve eaten anywhere. Fish & chips were fine and the serving generous enough to be shared. I loved The Bedford – themed to mimic Martha Stewart’s own home. The food was so good that I chose to repeat dinner a second time. I had the prix fixe menu on night one which consisted of a beautifully constructed Caesar salad, pierogi in brown butter made from Martha’s own family recipe, roasted chicken, and upside-down lemon meringue pie. Everything was delicious, but definitely too much food for yours truly! I went back again, this time limiting myself to their Frisee salad and a repeat order of those amazing pierogi. I also indulged in their special bread basket that second night. I was honestly just a bit disappointed in the frisée salad – the greens were fresh but for me, the poached egg was slightly overcooked and the dressing was unexpectedly bland. That said, the pierogis did not disappoint and the bread basket was absolutely delightful.

In addition to The Bedford, I had breakfast twice at La Creperie, sampling both savory and fruit offerings, which were fine. Do be prepared, folks – when you visit Vegas, you WILL dearly for meals at any of the hotel venues. I won’t shock you by itemizing what I spent for meals, but a burger and sweet potato fries plus a fountain soda at Bobby Flay’s burger joint set me back $42. And be prepared: every single venue, including the counter-order places, asks you to add a tip.


If you visit Vegas for gambling, you can start in at the airport and hit every casino on the strip – the options are endless. But if the famous casinos don’t turn your crank, Vegas has SO much more to offer. This destination is not just for gamblers these days, and it can even be quite family-friendly as well!

Of course, there is an ever-changing list of high-profile headliners and the huge list of ongoing shows that run year-round: magicians, comedians, and production shows with something for all tastes and interests. Some shows are surprisingly affordable – but the better seats for well-known performers are definitely priced at a premium.

Outside of the Strip, you will find some amazing sightseeing options in the surrounding areas. I personally recommend Hoover Dam to anyone interested in history or engineering and construction – it is absolutely fascinating. Certainly, a full-day trip to the Grand Canyon is a must if you haven’t been.

If you want to get active, just 20 minutes away from the Strip, Red Rock Canyon offers incredible sightseeing as well as great hiking trails. If you have a bit more time – Valley of Fire is only an hour away – or Cathedral Gorge, is just a little over two hours up the road. All of these offer great sightseeing and hiking options.

As to alternative accommodations, Vegas offers excellent hotel & resort options beyond the great casino hotels on the strip. There are fabulous family-friendly resort properties. We love the Holiday Inn Vacation Properties that offers 1 & 2-bedroom villa properties ranging from 700-1500 SF featuring full kitchens, washer-dryers, and balcony or patio. The all-suites Platinum Hotel is just two blocks from the strip and has beautiful suites with full kitchens. Or you might like to retreat to the Hilton at Lake Las Vegas, an intimate lake-front property – no casino –great for families where you can relax, shop, kayak – and even take a yacht cruise on the lake.

There are some other fun & fabulous and very unusual activities in the area as well. Axe throwing, anyone? Or perhaps you would like to book a Social Darts tournament for a group of friends! Vegas can’t be beaten as a great destination for group getaways. One venue even offers the opportunity to operate heavy construction equipment in a safe, family-friendly environment. Guests from two to 100 can operate backhoes, crush a car, or sit behind the controls of a mammoth earth-mover. Rates for an hour can be surprisingly affordable, starting at just $60 an hour for the smaller machines … up to $300/hour for the largest apparatus.

Of course, Dancing Moon Travel can help you with all of this and we encourage you to pre-book your special activities and experiences to avoid disappointment! Our typical seamless packages include air, accommodations, transfers, and car rental – we have access to tickets for most of the attractions, excursions, and shows … just let us know what you want to do and we’ll put together a great custom package that is geared specifically to your unique interests!

Do you have questions or want additional information? – feel free to reach out as we’d love to talk with you.




Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a vacation destination that boasts stunning beaches, rugged mountains, and a rich cultural heritage. Located off the western coast of Italy, Sardinia has a unique blend of Italian, Spanish, and North African influences, making it a fascinating destination for travelers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the island’s top attractions, including the Barumini Nuragic complex, Costa Smeralda Paradise, Gennargentu National Park, cuisine, culture, and wine.

The Barumini Nuragic Complex:

One of Sardinia’s most important historical sites is the Barumini Nuragic complex. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the remains of a Bronze Age village, complete with defensive walls, houses, and a central tower. The site is a testament to the island’s ancient history and the skill of its builders. Visitors can take a guided tour of the complex to learn more about its history and significance.

Costa Smeralda Paradise:

If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway, look no further than Costa Smeralda Paradise. This stunning area on the northeast coast of Sardinia is home to some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, as well as high-end resorts and restaurants. The crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. If you’re a fan of sailing, the area is also home to several marinas and yacht clubs.

Gennargentu National Park:

For those who prefer hiking and outdoor activities, Gennargentu National Park is a must-visit destination. Located in the central part of the island, the park is home to rugged mountains, dense forests, and crystal-clear lakes. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by bike, taking in the stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. The park is also home to several traditional Sardinian villages, where visitors can experience the island’s rich culture and history.


Sardinian cuisine is a blend of Italian, Spanish, and North African influences, with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. One of the island’s most famous dishes is suckling pig, which is slow-roasted on a spit and served with a variety of side dishes. Other popular dishes include malloreddus, a type of pasta made with semolina flour and served with a tomato sauce and pecorino cheese, and fregola, a type of pasta made with toasted semolina flour and served with clams or other seafood.


Sardinia has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its art, music, and traditions. One of the island’s most famous cultural events is the Sagra di Sant’Efisio, which takes place on May 1st. This religious festival features a procession of hundreds of traditional costumes, music, and dance, as well as the blessing of the harvest. Another important cultural tradition is the Mamuthones, a festival that takes place in the town of Mamoiada on January 17th. The festival features a procession of men dressed in traditional black and white costumes, who dance and play music to ward off evil spirits.


Sardinia is home to several excellent wineries, producing a variety of red and white wines. One of the island’s most famous wines is Cannonau, a red wine made from the Grenache grape. Cannonau is known for its full-bodied flavor and high levels of antioxidants. Vermentino is another popular white wine, known for its light, refreshing taste and citrus notes. Visitors to Sardinia can take a wine tour of the island, visiting several wineries and sampling their products.


Sardinia is a truly unique vacation destination, offering something for everyone. Contact Dancing Moon Travel and let one of our professional travel agents assist you with planning your next European holiday to the beautiful island of Sardinia.



In today’s digital age, many people assume that the internet has rendered travel agents obsolete. However, working with a travel agent can provide numerous benefits that simply cannot be found through online booking sites. Here are some of the top advantages of working with a travel agent:

Expertise and Knowledge

Travel agents are trained and experienced professionals who have extensive knowledge of the travel industry. They can help you plan the perfect trip based on your preferences and budget, and can offer valuable advice and recommendations on destinations, accommodations, and activities. They have insider knowledge of the best times to travel, the most affordable flights, and the top attractions to visit.


Planning a trip can be a time-consuming process, particularly if you are not familiar with the destination. Travel agents can save you time by handling all the research, planning, and booking on your behalf. They can also take care of any issues that may arise during your trip, such as flight cancellations or changes in itinerary.

Personalized Service

Travel agents work with you on a one-on-one basis to create a customized itinerary that meets your unique needs and preferences. They take the time to get to know you and your travel style, and can recommend activities and accommodations that align with your interests and budget.

Cost Savings

Contrary to popular belief, working with a travel agent can actually save you money in the long run. They have access to exclusive deals and promotions that are not available to the general public, and can negotiate better prices on flights, accommodations, and activities. They can also help you avoid hidden fees and charges that can quickly add up when booking online.

Peace of Mind

When you work with a travel agent, you can rest assured that all aspects of your trip are being taken care of by a professional. They can provide you with emergency assistance 24/7, and can handle any issues that may arise during your trip. This gives you the peace of mind to enjoy your vacation without any added stress or worry.

Insider Knowledge

Travel agents have access to information and resources that are not available to the general public. They have connections with local vendors, hotels, and tour operators, and can provide you with insider tips and recommendations that can enhance your travel experience. They can also advise you on local customs and etiquette, helping you to navigate unfamiliar cultures with ease.


Booking a trip through a travel agent is a convenient option for those who are short on time or have limited internet access. Travel agents can handle all aspects of your trip, from flights and accommodations to car rentals and activities, saving you the hassle of having to search for and book each component separately.

Tailored Recommendations

Travel agents can provide you with tailored recommendations based on your interests and preferences. For example, if you are a foodie, they can recommend restaurants and food tours that will allow you to sample the local cuisine. If you are a history buff, they can recommend historical sites and museums that will satisfy your curiosity.


When you book a trip through a travel agent, you are often protected by travel insurance policies that cover issues such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost luggage. This can provide you with added protection and peace of mind during your trip.

In conclusion, while it may be tempting to book a trip online, working with a travel agent can provide numerous benefits that cannot be found through online booking sites. From expertise and knowledge to personalized service and cost savings, travel agents can help you plan the perfect trip while also saving you time, money, and stress.



The Algarve is a stunning coastal region located in the southernmost part of Portugal. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and has been attracting visitors for many years. The region is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning coastline, fantastic weather, delicious food, and vibrant culture. I am sure that by the end of this presentation, you will be inspired to visit the Algarve.

Let’s start with the geography of the region. The Algarve has a diverse landscape, ranging from rugged cliffs to long sandy beaches. The region is also home to several natural parks, such as Ria Formosa, which is a wetland area that stretches over 60 kilometers and provides a habitat for a wide range of bird species.

When it comes to beaches, the Algarve has something for everyone. From secluded coves to vast stretches of sand, you will find a beach that suits your preferences. Some of the most popular beaches in the region include Praia da Rocha, Praia do Vau, and Praia da Marinha. These beaches are not only stunning but also offer a wide range of activities, such as surfing, kiteboarding, and paddleboarding.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Algarve is also known for its rich history and culture. The region has a long history dating back to the Romans, who established settlements in the area. Today, you can still see the remnants of the past, such as the ruins of a Roman bridge in Tavira and the Moorish castle in Silves.

When it comes to culture, the Algarve is famous for its traditional handicrafts, such as pottery, lacework, and basket weaving. You can find these crafts in the region’s local markets and shops, where you can buy unique souvenirs to take home.

Another highlight of the Algarve is its cuisine. The region’s coastal location means that seafood is a staple in the local cuisine. Some of the must-try dishes include grilled sardines, octopus rice, and cataplana, which is a seafood stew cooked in a copper pot.

Finally, let’s talk about the climate in the Algarve. The region has a Mediterranean climate, which means that summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild and rainy. The best time to visit the Algarve is during the summer months when you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and warm weather.

In conclusion, the Algarve is a beautiful region that offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking for stunning beaches, rich culture, delicious food, or a warm climate, the Algarve has it all. As travel professionals, we highly recommend this destination to anyone who wants to experience the best of Portugal. Simply give Dancing Moon Travel a call and we’ll be happy to explore travel options with you.



The Big Hand (my husband Marvin) and I recently had the opportunity to sail from Fort Lauderdale on Nieuw Statendam. I wanted to share a few words about our experience, especially as I hadn’t sailed with Holland America (HAL) since sailing resumed post-pandemic.

Embarkation. Embarkation was quick and painless, as is generally our experience when sailing out of Ft Lauderdale. Pier personnel were unfailingly pleasant and efficient and we were through security and check-in quickly – despite some sort of issue with Marvin’s passport that for some reason didn’t want to be scanned properly. All in all, getting aboard was a breeze and our stateroom was ready by the time we boarded, which is always a plus.

Accommodations. We sailed in a standard balcony stateroom in a “guaranty” category, which meant HAL assigned our location. We were in 8187, far aft on the starboard side of Deck 8 which proved to be an excellent location for making our way to the dining room, located directly below on Decks 2 and 3. As usual, the regular balcony rooms are more “cozy” than “spacious” – but well organized with plenty of storage. Once emptied, the luggage went under the bed, not to be seen again until needed to prepare for disembarkation. There are drawers, shelves, and more than enough space for hanging clothes. The bathroom was a typical compact size, but the glass shower was comparatively large by cruise standards. We had a small sofa, and the desk provided an exceptionally good workspace for yours truly, with a good solid armchair for seating. The balcony was quite typical with comfortable seating for two, along with a small table. Our room was directly beneath the Lido restaurant … and yes, we did note some occasional noise from chairs scraping overhead, but it was barely loud enough to be noticeable, didn’t occur at hours when it would disturb our rest, and certainly nothing that I would consider problematic.

The onboard décor and ambiance are quintessential Holland America … warm, and intimate, with a certain traditional elegance. The ship is lovely, very easy to navigate, and features beautiful artwork and décor throughout. I did find the décor in the dining room a bit off-putting with a burgundy patterned carpet, red chandeliers, and bright yellow walls – Marvin, on the other hand, described it as “cheerful” – so just a matter of personal taste there, I suppose.

Entertainment and Activities. Entertainment onboard Nieuw Amsterdam was solid. Just don’t come aboard Holland America sailings expecting bumper cars, multi-media aerial performances, roller coasters, and aqua theater – that is simply not their thing. Their onboard dance troupe did an excellent job with several production shows. The BBC Planet Earth presentation was exceptional. Music Row featured extremely talented musicians performing everything from classical scores to classic rock – HAL is an outstanding choice for passengers who love a variety of live music. Performances at Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard were very popular and well attended – you can translate that to mean “get there early if you want to get a seat”! Other activities included talks & lectures, trivia, bingo, movies on the outdoor big screen – art auctions – and most of the usual assortment of activities that are popular with cruisers.

Dining. We had selected late seating in the main dining room which is scheduled at 8 pm. The food was very good … beef dishes especially consistently exceeded expectations. Soups, appetizers, and entrees were all good with lovely presentations, and we never had a problem finding something appealing on the nightly menus. One significant issue: evening dining service ranged from slow to excruciatingly slow. With dining scheduled at 8 pm, attending the early show wasn’t possible … and the late dining ran too late for us to get seating at the second show. After the first couple of evenings, we solved the issue by simply switching ourselves to “anytime” dining and went at an hour when we could make one of the performances. I suspect that inexperienced cruisers might not be able to “solve” this issue and would miss out on much of the onboard productions. We splurged on lobster a couple of times during the cruise … the broiled tails were huge, but unfortunately, just a tad over-cooked each time. Not terribly so, just enough that they were slightly tough, and a shame to do this to beautiful shellfish like this. As to Alternative Dining, we splurged one night at Rudi’s Sel de Mer where food & service were absolutely impeccable … an experience definitely worthwhile. Unfortunately, our experience at Canaletto was disappointing. Other than the salad, neither of us cared for any of our selections – we ended up splitting a club sandwich ordered from room service later that evening – which, by the way, was excellent.

Surprises. We saw a significant percentage of younger passengers, i.e., under age 40 – and there were even some families with children aboard our late February sailing, which was definitely an anomaly just a few years ago. HAL has made a concerted effort to appeal to a broader demographic without diluting the pillars of their brand – if my observation on this cruise is typical of other sailings, it appears that their efforts are meeting with a measure of success.

Conclusion. There you have it, a quick rundown of our experience when we sailed aboard Holland America’s lovely Nieuw Statendam. Does this sound like a cruise that would suit your preferences and travel style? Reach out to me with questions … we would love to provide a custom quote for your preferred travel dates.


Three Great Ways to Explore Italy

1. OPTION 1) INDEPENDENT TRAVEL This is what we travel advisors refer to as “FIT” — or “Fully Independent Travel”. Please don’t think that traveling independently means “winging it” or flying by the seat of your pants. If you book through Dancing Moon Travel, your itinerary will generally include your flights, ground transfers between airport, rail transportation between cities, and accommodations all included in your customized package – as well as carefully selected tours and day trips.

When it comes to itineraries, options are all but endless! First-time visitors usually want to experience Rome, Florence and – time permitting — Venice. Other popular itineraries are Rome and the romantic Amalfi Coast area with charming cities of Positano, Amalfi, Sorrento, and the Island of Capri … or you might opt for the Lake Country … or Sicily … there are so many amazing options to explore.

We also love to accommodate our independent travelers’ special interests: foodies might be delighted by a cooking class in an ancient farmhouse – while active adventurers might prefer the thrill of a balloon ride in the Tuscan countryside. In Rome, our most popular excursions include food tours — visits to the Vatican including St Peter’s Basilica and museums – and, of course, a tour that includes the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain is a must. Our most-booked day trips from Florence include walking tours that include the Uffizi and Academia galleries – and a delightful full-day tour to San Gimignano & Siena. A day trip to Cinque Terre is also on the list of “must-do” experiences for a growing number of travelers to this region. Just be prepared for the many stairs and steep hillsides that come with this one!

We find that Fully Independent Travel is frequently the best choice for confident travelers who like to explore, who enjoy a balance of planned activities and free time and who prefer to be more on their own and not engaged with a group of travelers.


2. Option 2: ESCORTED TOURS. There are many advantages of group travel. Everything is carefully planned by industry pros, and there is very little to worry about. Frankly, traveling independently to a country halfway around the world where you are unfamiliar with the language, the currency, and the customs – well, for many people this can be quite intimidating. With escorted travel, your guide/tour manager takes care of virtually all the details, so guests enjoy a virtually worry-free vacation. Not sure about where to go or how much to tip at lunch? If the lunch is included with the package, that’s already handled – if not, your tour manager can provide recommendations, as well as guidance on appropriate tipping customs for the country you’re visiting. With an escorted tour, you won’t waste precious time worrying about practical issues but can spend all your time enjoying your destination.

Since your itinerary is carefully planned by experts, you know what to expect each day, and many tours are very inclusive so you also know pretty much exactly what it’s going to cost other than personal shopping and souvenirs. Also, with an escorted vacation, you go right to the front of the line at most of the popular attractions.

Other advantages of escorted vacations are that you have a ready-made group of like-minded travelers who share your interests … you could go home with new lifetime friends. The best itineraries also

provide plenty of free time for travelers to explore their own interests, indulge in an optional activity or just relax and smell the roses.

There are options for escorted travel for everyone, from moderate to five-star luxury. Some of our favorite suppliers are Globus at the moderate level – Collette and Trafalgar for the deluxe traveler, and Tauck for the five-star “everything included” travel experience.

ESCORTED TRAVEL is frequently the best choice for travelers who appreciate a ready-made travel itinerary that includes all of the “must-see” attractions of their destination, and travelers who want the safety, security, and convenience of traveling as part of a group.

3. OPTION 3: CRUISE TRAVEL: A cruise can be a fabulous way to explore Italy. A cruise vacation actually combines many of the best features of both FIT and Escorted travel. People love the convenience and inclusiveness of cruising – while not technically “all-inclusive,” you can count on a cruise to provide delightful meals, transportation between your ports of call, a host of entertainment and activities, and more. You board your ship, unpack and settle in and there you are for the next 7, 10 or more days as you visit a variety of delightful ports of call. Itineraries are planned with great care and you can expect to visit some of the most delightful and engaging destinations in the country. You cover so much territory on a cruise in such a pleasant manner, without constantly checking in and out of hotels, schlepping luggage, or maintaining a rigid schedule. Some of the areas of Italy easily accessible by cruise ship include Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast and Capri, and Sicily. Some of our favorite providers for an Italy-centric cruise include Viking, Azamara, Princess, and Norwegian.

A cruise vacation could easily be the best choice for those who already love the convenience of a cruise vacation or anyone – including avowed non-cruisers! — who want a convenient, seamless, and no-stress way to explore this charming country.

So, there you have it … the Dancing Moon Travel take on Three Great Ways to Explore Italy. Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out! We’d love to help you sort out the best option for YOUR unique interests and travel style!


Alaska Cruise

ALASKA CRUISES are a truly unique and unforgettable experience. As you sail through the Inside Passage, you’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery, from towering glaciers to lush rainforests, and an abundance of wildlife, including whales, bears, and eagles. The Inside Passage is a coastal route in Alaska that runs from Seattle in the south to Skagway in the north, passing through the Alexander Archipelago and Tongass National Forest. Tongass National Forest covers over 17 million acres and is known for its diverse ecosystems, including coastal temperate rainforests, glaciers, and fjords.

ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS of an Alaska cruise is the opportunity to see glaciers up close. Many cruises offer excursions to view glaciers, such as the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, which can be accessed via a short bus ride or a hike. Another popular excursion is a visit to the Tracy Arm Fjord, where you can see the South Sawyer Glacier, which is a massive, actively calving glacier.

IN ADDITION TO THE NATURAL BEAUTY, Alaska cruises also offer the chance to experience the culture and history of the state’s native people. Many cruises stop at Ketchikan, where you can visit the Totem Heritage Center to learn about the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures. Another popular excursion is a visit to the Icy Strait Point, where you can learn about the Huna Tlingit culture and see authentic totem poles. The Huna Tlingit are a Native American people of the Tlingit tribe indigenous to Alaska. Their culture is characterized by rich oral traditions, spiritual beliefs, and a strong emphasis on family and community. They have a matrilineal social structure, and their art, such as totem poles and masks, is highly valued and reflects their spiritual beliefs and traditions.

ALASKA CRUISES also offer a variety of recreational activities, such as fishing, kayaking, and hiking. One of the more popular activities available as an excursion is whale watching. This is a chance to observe different species of whales in their natural habitat including, humpback whales, orcas, and gray whales among others. The best time for whale watching in Alaska is typically in the summer months when the whales migrate to the warmer waters to feed and mate. Some cruises even offer dog sledding and flightseeing excursions.

SEVERAL CRUISE LINES SAIL TO ALASKA, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Viking Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn, and Oceania Cruises.

CRUISE SHIPS themselves also offer a lot of amenities like entertainment and good food. There’s also a variety of cabin options available, from budget-friendly inside cabins to luxurious suites with private balconies.

OVERALL, an Alaska cruise is an incredible way to experience the natural beauty and culture of this unique state. Whether you’re interested in viewing glaciers, wildlife, or learning about the native people, an Alaska cruise has something to offer for everyone.

IS ALASKA ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? Check out this link, then contact Dancing Moon Travel to get more details about an exciting Alaska cruise.


Cruise Connected

Cruise Connected

For many of us, a cruise vacation offers a welcome opportunity to disconnect completely from the outside world.  Others, however, have shied away from a cruise getaway for precisely this same reason.  If you are part of that large segment of the population that is either unwilling or legitimately unable to detach from responsibilities of home or business, now is the time to take a fresh look at the options a cruise vacation offers.

Cruise lines have bowed to passengers’ desire for better and more affordable online access while at sea.  Most contemporary cruise lines have improved shipboard infrastructure to provide better connectivity — to the point that in many cases, the passenger experience is essentially comparable to the service received at home or office.  At the same time, WiFi package rates have been slashed rather dramatically, providing this greatly enhanced service at a significantly reduced price point.

Today’s cruise ships have also added more digital options to stay connected to the world.  Whether you enjoy uploading photos to social media, Skyping with family back home, or just surfing the internet, you can easily share your experience with the world via your cell phone, laptop, or the guest-accessible computers provided in the computer lounge. You now have more options than ever before to stay in touch while you’re away.

The time is also ripe for business owners and professional service providers to take a new look at their options for cruise vacations. Busy professionals can now avail themselves of the tremendous value a cruise offers, confident in their ability to use modern-day technology to “cruise connected” – connected to clients, to colleagues, to the office, and to family.  If the ability to remain connected has been holding you back, we encourage you to consider your options for a truly connected cruise.

Whether you are ready to disconnect completely and “get away from it all” – merely keep up with your friends on social media – or have a serious need for dependable access to clients and office needs – the professional staff at Dancing Moon Travel can find the perfect cruise ship for your needs!  Call us today at (404) 913-4386 or email


Norwegian’s Haven Experience is Heaven

I recently had the opportunity to sail for a week aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s brand new ship the Escape. Not only did I get to experience all the bells and whistles of a new ship, but I got to sail in an exclusive area of the ship called the “Haven”. It can best be described as a tranquil, relaxing, retreat from the hustle and bustle of a 4,000+ passenger ship. Or in one word, Amazing!

selfieTo set the stage I should mention that this was my 30th cruise, so I have a pretty good base for what a cruise should be like. Also, to put into perspective there are only about 300 passengers with access to the Haven out of over 4,000 on this sailing. I loved almost everything about this ship but the Haven was truly an appreciated bonus. It made for what I possibly consider the best cruise I have been on. I couldn’t resist including my traditional cruise selfie!

The Haven experience begins immediately after getting through the port security as you are invited to be checked in through the Haven Lounge. They offer water, coffee, and small snacks in the waiting area and you are seated in comfortable couches to wait for your key cards. Depending on your arrival time to the port you still may have to wait to board the ship, but as soon as the ship is cleared to take on passengers you will be some of the first guests onboard.

You are escorted to the Haven lounge and introduced to the concierge. The concierge goes over important details for the week and lets you know what he or she can do for you. You are then dismissed to go drop off any luggage in your suite, go get lunch, or explore the ship as you please. Below you will see the Haven courtyard which includes a private pool, Jacuzzis, and loungers.

Next up was our “special” cabin. We booked what is called a Haven Spa Suite. Not only did we have access to the Haven and all of its perks but we also had access for the week in the Spa Thermal Suite. I have not spent much time in the thermal spa on previous cruises but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I spent an hour or two in there every morning and left feeling refreshed.

Our cabin was located next to the spa and one deck down from the Haven itself. What is interesting is that this category of cabin is usually one of the lower priced Haven Suites yet it’s the only one to come with spa access. The Haven Spa Suite is clearly aimed towards couples as it only allows for double occupancy and has only one king sized bed.

Most standard cruise cabins have a king that is comprised of two twins pushed together. On top of all this it also has an in suite Jacuzzi tub, pictured below. We checked out the cabin for a bit and while we were there we were introduced to our butler. The butler can get you anything you may need from room service to afternoon snacks to drawn baths. It is just another one of the great perks of being in the Haven.

In addition to everything I’ve mentioned so far the Haven also comes with a private sun deck (seen below), a private restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a private bar, and a laundry list of added perks and benefits. We got to experience all the public venues on this beautiful ship but it was always nice to have this retreat.

While I would love to say I could afford to sail this way every cruise, the truth is I cannot. However, if you can, this is the way to go. And for those of you in my situation you at least have to try it once! It truly was a fantastic way to experience the Norwegian Escape and cruising in general. Does the NCL Haven experience sound like it’s for you?

Written by Matt Theriault.

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Should you buy Royal Caribbean’s unlimited alcohol package

Understanding how Royal Caribbean’s drink packages work

Royal Caribbean’s unlimited alcohol package is a simple concept: instead of purchasing each drink throughout your cruise and then having a bar tab at the end of your cruise to deal with, Royal Caribbean offers one unlimited alcohol package that will give passengers the option of paying for their drinks in advance and then having the convenience of not dealing with the costs of each drink.

In September 2016, Royal Caribbean simplified its unlimited drink package offerings and narrowed the options down to one unlimited drink package.

We wanted to do the math and figure out how many drinks one would need to order per day in order to theoretically “break even”.  By breaking even, we mean having enough drinks that would cover the cost of the package if they had ordered the same amount of drinks but opted to pay for them a la carte.

Royal Caribbean has one unlimited alcohol package to choose from, the Deluxe Beverage package, which costs $55 per passenger, per day and features unlimited beers, wine by the glass, cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, premium coffee, tea, fountain soda, fresh squeezed juices, sparking and bottled still water. This package includes drinks with a value of up to $12.

Room service and minibar items are not included in either package. Prices are inclusive of service charges.

Time for the math!

Deluxe Beverage Package

$55 per person, per day.  On a 7-night cruise, this comes out to $454.30 per person (with gratuity).

Mixed drinks/cocktails, martinis, frozens: $12.00

Beers: $6.25 – $6.95

House wines (by the glass): $8.00 – $12.00

Soda: $1.95

Juices: $3.95

Fresh squeezed juice: $4.95

Premium coffee: $3.95 – $4.95

This drink package offers guests virtually all the premium drinks available onboard for a fixed price.  It assumes the guest is interested in consuming the variety of drinks included, which includes to premium coffees, teas and juices.

To break even on the ultimate beverage package with mixed drinks and coffee alone, it would take about 5 mixed drinks and 2 premium coffees per day.

If you are a beer drinker and do not care for much else, it will take about 7-8 beers per day to break even.


Based on the breakdowns of drink prices and the beverage package changes of 2016, the unlimited drink package can be a reasonable value, provided you can drink that much every day of your cruise.

It is important to note that while the drink packages do work on Royal Caribbean’s private islands of Labadee and CocoCay, they do not work while you are in other ports of call.  The more ports of call you visit, the less time you have onboard to take advantage of the drink packages.  However, if your itinerary has mostly sea days, it becomes easier to get the value from the package.

It is also important to know that many guests will see a discount available for their drink package online prior to the cruise, often in the amount of 20% off the package price.  This savings does make the cost-savings ratio lower, since the amount one needs to drink per day is lower by about 1-2 drinks per day. Check your Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean’s web site for availability of such a discount.

The deluxe beverage package benefits guests who want a great variety of premium drinks on their cruises.  Those that mainly drink beers will find it more difficult to make the deluxe beverage package worthwhile over the course of the cruise.

What we often hear from other cruisers is over the course of longer cruises (7-nights or longer), it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the level of drinking required to get the value from the package.

From a financial standpoint, if you can drink enough every day of your cruise to make it worth it, then go for it.  But if it sounds like too much, then stick to paying cash. Or better yet, take the money that the unlimited alcohol packages would cost, save it and then deposit it in your onboard account to offset the cost of your drinks.  Any leftover money can pay for other onboard purchases or you can take the extra money and keep it!

This article is reprinted from Check with Dancing Moon Travel for info about alcohol packages on other cruise lines.

Article Credit:  Matt