Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in Panama, attracting more than one million visitors every year. The ease of travel into and around the small country allows visitors to experience two oceans, enjoy the mountains and rainforests, learn about native cultures and sample the vibrant nightlife -- all within a short vacation period. And, of course, no trip to Panama would be complete without a visit to the Panama Canal, one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, which changed the world’s shipping routes by eliminating the need for a long and treacherous journey around the southern tip of South America, and cut the sea distance from New York to San Francisco from 14,000 miles to only 5,900 miles.

One of Panama’s key attractions is its diversity, and some of the top attractions -- in addition to the canal -- are the capital of Panama City, Panama Viejo, Casco Antiguo (also known as Casco Viejo) and the jungles surrounding the canal area. Panama City, easily the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America, is a modern, sophisticated metropolis that closely resembles Miami and has established commerce, arts, fashion and dining.

Panama Viejo was the first city of Panama. Founded by the Spanish in 1519, it rapidly became a prosperous point where gold and silver from the southern colonies would make it to the Caribbean and on to Europe. The city was repeatedly attacked by pirates, and finally destroyed in 1671. Today, the old stone streets and some ruins of Panama Viejo remain, and the area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following the destruction of Panama Viejo, the new capital city was built a few miles away.

Casco Antiguo (or Casco Viejo) is Panama City´s second touristic destination, featuring buildings that reflect the diversity of Panamanian society, colonial-style government buildings, cathedrals and museums. Although a Spanish colonial city, because of the influence of merchants from around the world, it became a vibrant city with styles ranging from Caribbean to French and even Art Deco. Today, boutique hotels have started to appear in Casco Antiguo, and some of the best bars and restaurants of the city can be found here. It has also become Panama City´s artistic center with the recurrent art events and shows such as the Panama Jazz Festival, the Music Festival, Sobresaltos Dance Festival and many others.

Fifteen minutes away from modern Panama City, visitors can find Parque Soberania, Parque Chagres and Parque Metropolitano, where hiking and birdwatching are popular activities. For those interested in research, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute offers visitors educational tours to Barro Island, one of the most studied jungles in the world.

For most visitors, the Panama Canal probably tops their “must-see” list. There are several ways to experience the canal, depending on the level of interest. For the curious visitor, there are two museums devoted to it -- the Canal Museum at Casco Antiguo, featuring Panama´s history as a crossroads of cultures, oceans and a bridge between continents, and a second museum, located at the Miraflores Locks. This museum shows the technical aspects of the canal, and visitors can observe the ship transits from the balcony of the restaurant on the top. Another way to experience the canal is to cross it -- either a partial crossing, which takes four hours, or a complete crossing, which might be done in eight.

Panama also offers a wide assortment of adventure and “off the beaten path” travel, including Bocas del Toro, with its powdery white beaches and surfing; the mountainous region of the Chiriquí Highlands, home to the charming town of Boquete, the habitat of the Resplendent Quetzal and some of the best coffee in the world at the plantations in the highland cloud forests; and Boca Chica, a small fishing town known as the departure point for world-class sport fishing in the Gulf of Chiriqui.

Panama also includes 1,500 islands on both its Pacific coast to the south and the Caribbean coast to the north. Many of these islands, such as the Archipelago de San Blas, are home to the native Kuna people. The islands of San Blas have beautiful beaches and are great for snorkeling, diving, swimming and escaping reality.

American, French and Spanish food is available in most restaurants in the major cities. Native cooking is similar to creole cuisine -- hot and spicy. And the local seafood is excellent and in abundance. The popular native dishes include ceviche (fish marinated in lime juice, onions and peppers), patacones de plátano(fried plantain), sancocho(Panamanian stew with chicken, meat and vegetables), tamales (seasoned pie wrapped in banana leaves) and empanadas (turnovers filled with meat, chicken or cheese). Top-rated restaurants include Guari Guari in Bocas del Toro, Maito in Panama City, and Rene Café in the Casco Antiguo section of Panama City.

Panama has a tropical climate, and temperatures and humidity are uniformly high throughout the year, although the temperature rarely tops 90° for more than a short time. Temperatures on the Pacific side of the isthmus are somewhat lower than on the Caribbean side, and breezes tend to rise after dusk in most parts of the country. Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama.

Climatic regions are determined less on the basis of temperature than on rainfall, which varies regionally from less than 50 inches to more than 120 inches per year. Almost all of the rain falls during the rainy season, from April to December. Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane track.

Passport & Visa Information

Knowing which documents you need when traveling internationally is essential to having a stress-free vacation. Prepare yourself by learning about the latest travel requirements and important information you need to know before traveling.

What documents are required when traveling internationally?

You are required to have a U.S. Passport Book when traveling by air to any international location.

If you are traveling by land or sea to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean Region (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos), you are required to have a U.S. Passport Book or Card.

Please note: U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a port within the United States, travel only within the Western Hemisphere, and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship may present a government issued photo identification, along with proof of citizenship (an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization). Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport to enter the foreign countries your cruise ship is visiting. Contact us before your cruise to ensure you have the appropriate documents.

What is a U.S. Passport Card?

The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.

How long does it take to get a passport?

Processing times can vary depending on workload and occasional unforeseen circumstances. During busier times, such as the summer travel season, customers are encouraged to expedite their applications if traveling in less than 10 weeks.

How long is a passport valid and when should I renew my passport?

  • If you were over age 16 when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 10 years.
  • If you were age 15 or younger when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 5 years.
The Issue Date of your passport can be found on the data page of your Passport Book or on the front of your Passport Card. If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six (6) months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met. If you passport has already expired, you may still be able to renew your passport by mail.

How do I purchase or renew my passport?

Detailed information about passports and international travel requirements, along with instructions for applying for a passport can be found at

*For more information about passport requirements, please contact the U.S. Department of State.




Do I need a visa if I am a U.S. citizen?

U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad they may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. When planning travel abroad, learn about visa requirements by country by visiting the U.S. Department of State’s Country Specific Travel Information.

*Find out more about both the immigrant and non-immigrant visa process at the State Department’s visa main page. U.S. Passports and International Travel.

Set Your Sights On Adventure

This is not a cruise. This is a rule-rewriting, routine-breaking rendezvous for the whole family. Explore rainforests and conquer a volcano in St. Kitts. Brave the rapids to reach jungle pools on a tubing adventure in Grenada. And uncover big savings to take you further — including up to 25% off your third and fourth guests and up to $100 to spend at sea in 2018. Come Seek the Royal Caribbean®.

This offer ends July 31, so book your next adventure today!

Violet Clover Travel Group
Best Cruise Line Overall and in the Caribbean 14 Years Running Royal Caribbean

*Non-refundable deposit booking ("NRDB") cancelled prior to final payment due date will receive a future cruise credit in the amount of the deposit minus a $100 per person service fee ("FCC"). FCC is non-transferable and expires after 12-months from issue date. $100 per person service fee applies to changes to NRDB ship or sail date.

Cruise must be booked between July 1, 2017 through July 31, 2017 the "Offer Period". Offer applies to sailings departing on or after August 1, 2017. Offer excludes China departures. Offer includes 50% off cruise fare of second guest who must be booked in the same stateroom as a first guest who books at full fare ("BOGO"). Offer also includes 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests. Non-Refundable Deposit reservations that are booked six months or more prior to the cruise departure date are eligible to receive a per stateroom onboard credit ("OBC") in the following amount: for sailings 5-nights and less, $25 OBC for interior and oceanview, and $50 OBC for balcony and suite; and for sailings of 6-nights and longer, $50 OBC for interior and oceanview, $100 OBC for balcony and suite. OBC is in USD, has no cash value, is non-transferable, not redeemable for cash, and will expire if not used by 10:00 PM on the last evening of the cruise. All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests. BOGO does not apply to third and higher occupancy guests.
Offer is combinable with, promotional OBCs and instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates. After the Offer Period, the Offer will be removed from the booking if the guest cancels and reinstates the booking or rebooks into a new booking on the same ship and sail date, applies a fare change, or changes the ship or sail date of the booking; certain other changes to the booking may also result in removal of the Offer. Offer applies to new, individual and named group bookings confirmed at prevailing rates. Individual reservations may be transferred into an existing group, assuming required criteria are met, though full deposit will be required at time of transfer. Failure to apply the required full deposit amount may result in the cancellation of the booking. Single occupancy guests paying 200% cruise fare are eligible for full amount of Offer; single occupancy guests paying less than 200% cruise fare are eligible for a prorated amount of the Offer. Offer available to residents of United States and Canada. Prices and Offer are subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled, and may be withdrawn at any time. Refer to for complete terms and conditions. Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions and to change or update fares, fees and surcharges at any time without prior notice.

©2017 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships' registry: The Bahamas. All rights
reserved. • 17057500


Save up to 20% off Monograms Wanderlist Vacation Packages

Save up to 20% off Monograms Wanderlist Vacation Packages

All Monograms packages include:

  • Your choice of hand-selected hotels based on location, amenities and service.
  • Efficient and reliable transportation from the airport to the hotel and from one destination to another (often via first-class train).
  • Half-day of sightseeing in each destination with expert local guides.
  • VIP Access allows you to skip the lines at the world’s most popular attractions.
  • Friendly knowledgeable Local Hosts in each location, so you too can feel like a local.

Featured Monograms Wanderlist Vacation Packages:

7 Day - Barcelona & Madrid
Barcelona to Madrid: Enjoy these cosmopolitan Spanish cities with visits to famous architectural sites and museums with plenty of leisure time.
From $1,679 USD per person, double occupancy, land only.
7 Day - Rome & Florence
Rome to Florence: Visit the must-see sights such as the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel and the Uffizi Gallery on this Italian dream vacation.
From $1,377 USD per person, double occupancy, land only.
7 Day - Paris & London
Paris to London: Sightseeing with a local expert includes Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre and the Changing of the Guard in London.
From $1,404 USD per person, double occupancy, land only
Hear the fascinating stories that only insiders know and see the sights you cannot go home without seeing – like Big Ben. Get VIP access to St. Paul’s Cathedral and witness the Changing of the Guards.
From $1,057 USD per person, double occupancy, land only.

Cairns to Sydney: Monograms has you covered with this 9-day vacation, where you not only get to see the Great Barrier Reef, but your journey will also take you to Australia’s Outback.
From $2,149 USD per person, double occupancy, land only.


*Book a 2017 Monograms "Wanderlist" Barcelona & Madrid (DB) vacation to receive a 20% discount or book a 2017 Monograms Rome & Florence (DC), Paris & London (DK), A Week in London (DL), Paris & Geneva with Mont Blanc (DRF), Amsterdam Getaway (MA), Cruising the Galapagos on the Galapagos Legend (ISK*), East Africa Private Safari (IQH*), Journey Down Under (IPO*), Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong (IABE) vacation to receive a 10% discount on the land-only portion of the core package, including extensions. Not including extra night accommodations, hotel upgrades, intra-vacation air, transfers, taxes/fees, tips or supplements. Booking must be made, under deposit and discount applied between June 1-30, 2017 for travel in 2017. Not applicable to custom tours. Discount will apply to individual members of groups adding a name and non-refundable per person deposit WITHIN the promo window. Not applicable on TBA space. Offer not valid with any other offer except Journeys Club Repeat Traveler benefit and current air promo. Applies to new bookings only, and offer will not be applied to pre-existing bookings. Offer reliant on space availability. Full cancellation penalties will apply. Additional restrictions may apply; see Travel Terms & Conditions for details. May be withdrawn at any time.

All-Inclusive Summer Beach Escapes

Barcelo Hotel Group

Getaway with Barcelo Hotel Group and receive up to $1000 resort credit* at select all-inclusive resorts with Violet Clover Travel Group.

Get More on Your Summer Beach Escape

Escape to a Barcelo Hotel Group resort and you’ll enjoy more than just a beautiful hotel and beach; you get water parks, kids clubs, adults-only pool areas, ala-carte dining and exclusive nightclubs. Plus, get up to a $1000 resort credit* and Insider Exclusives. From the colorful culture and cuisine of Mexico to the laid-back Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic, when you get away to a Barcelo Hotel Group resort, you get more than just a vacation; you get memories to last a lifetime.

Barcelo Maya Palace

Riviera Maya
Barcelo Maya Palace

Fronting the dazzling waters of the Mexican Caribbean, the all-suite, 24-hour all-inclusive Barcelo Maya Palace provides an inspired setting for active travelers, spa enthusiasts and families seeking an unforgettable all-inclusive vacation.
Junior Suite
3-nights starting at $654

Riviera Maya
Barcelo Maya Colonial & Tropical

Great for families, active travelers and groups, 24-hour all-inclusive Barcelo Maya Colonial & Tropical caters to each and every visitor with an upscale blend of warm hospitality and dynamic amenities and services.
Superior Room
3-nights starting at $513

Riviera Maya
Barcelo Maya Beach & Caribe

Surrounded by a lush natural park of swaying palms and fragrant fauna, the 24-hour all-inclusive Barcelo Maya Beach & Caribe provides great values and a lively environment perfect for nature lovers, spa enthusiasts, active travelers and families.
Superior Room
3-nights starting at $510

Punta Cana
Barcelo Bavaro Beach

Offering a fun and active ambiance, a sports program, a wide variety of specialized restaurants and spacious guestrooms, this charming adults-only, 24-hour all-inclusive resort provides a personalized vacation experience for each and every guest.
Superior Room
3-nights starting at $371

*The amount of $1,000.00 USD equals the discounts given to the Guest that can only be applied on the purchase of different services and products within the resort with the maximum already stated.
**Offers and pricing subject to change without notice. Price advertised is for hotel-only for bookings 6/5-6/26 and travel 7/2/17-8/1/17 with specified room category.  Prices quoted are per person based on double occupancy, are not retroactive, and are subject to limited availability.  Government-imposed taxes and fees may apply.  Travel protection is not included in advertised prices.  Additional restrictions may apply.  Various cancellation penalties, payment requirements and holiday/weekend/special event surcharges may apply.  Please see the Funjet Vacations Bill of Rights for details.

Buy One, Get the Second Guest 60% Off + Kids Sail Free and Instant Savings on Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean Offer

Offer details:

  • Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 60% Off
  • 30% Savings for third and fourth guests
  • Kids Sail Free Bonus:
    • Guests 12 & under sail free on 5 nights or longer Bahamas and Caribbean sailings departing Sep. 1, 2017-May 31, 2018. Excludes sailings departing 11/17/17-11/27/17, 12/17/17 – 1/8/18, 2/15/18-2/20/18 and 3/10/18-4/1/18

Limited Bonus June 1 – 5: Sail Away Sale – up to $150 Instant Savings:

  • 5 nights or less
    • Inside/Oceanview: $25 per stateroom
    • Balcony/ Suite: $50 per stateroom
  • 6 nights or more
    • Inside/Oceanview: $50 per stateroom
    • Balcony/Suite: $150 per stateroom

Cruise must be booked June 1, 2017 through June 5, 2017 (“O­ffer Period”). O­ffer applies to sailings on or after July 1, 2017. O­ffer excludes China departures. O­ffer includes 60% off­ cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full fare guest. O­ffer also includes 30% cruise fare savings for 3rd and 4th guests booked in the same stateroom as first two qualifying guests. Additionally, Kids Sail Free o­ffer provides free cruise fare of third and higher guests who are 12 years or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom on 5 nights or longer Bahamas and Caribbean sailings departing Sep. 1, 2017-May 31, 2018, excluding sailings departing 11/17/17-11/27/17, 12/17/17–1/8/18, 2/15/18-2/20/18 and 3/10/18-4/1/18. Offer­ also includes an instant savings determined by sailing length and category booked: $25 off­ per stateroom for interior and Oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less, $50 off­ per stateroom for balcony and suite on sailings 5 nights or less, $50 o­ff per stateroom for interior and Oceanview on sailings 6 nights or longer and $150 per stateroom for balcony and suite on sailings 6 nights or longer. All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests. BOGO60 is combinable with Kids Sail Free, Instant Savings O­ffer, 3rd and 4th Guest Savings, Crown & Anchor discounts and NextCruise o­ffers. BOGO60, Kids Sail Free, Instant Savings O­ffer and 3rd and 4th Guest Savings are not combinable with restricted rates. All o­ffers are not combinable with any other o­ffer or promotion. O­ffer applies to new, individual and named group bookings confirmed at prevailing rates. O­ffer open to residents of U.S. or Canada. Prices and O­ffer are subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled, and may be withdrawn at any time. ©2017 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships registry: Bahamas. ©2017 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships registry: Bahamas. 

How to survive the airport

By Michele Lawton

Remember when flying used to be a luxury?  It was an exciting start to a glamorous trip. Well those days are long gone! The airport is a concrete landscape standing between you and where you really want to be. Here are a few tips to help you run the gauntlet.

You can start preparing before you even get to the airport.  First, check in for your flight at home. Most airlines allow you to print the boarding pass about 24 hours before your flight. Checking in online saves time and allows you to skip a step before airport security.

If you can try not to check a bag. But if you absolutely must check a bag or two consider checking your bags at the skycap.  There is no extra charge. I usually tip at least $5 or $2 per bag.  It can really save time in a big airport.

Don’t take any seat; get the best seat for you. When you check in online you can usually choose your seat.  I like to keep the website Seat Guru open in a separate tab when I am choosing my seat to make sure I am not stuck with the worst seat on the plane.  Also, try to get a seat towards the front of the plane; you will get off the plane faster.

Be sure to dress appropriately. I am always blown away when I see a woman in 6-inch heels running through the airport.  Make sure your shoes are comfortable and easy to get off. Remember you are going through security so keep your clothing simple. Lose the belt and the shoelaces and leave the jewelry in your bag or at home.

After I check my bags I go straight through security and find my gate. You may think you have plenty of time, but who knows how long security might take or how far away your gate is.

Now, there are a few things you can do to get through security faster. If you are a frequent flyer you may have received a special invitation for the TSA PreCheck program. Although expedited security is not guaranteed and it only works on domestic flights, most Precheck travelers get little perks like leaving their laptops in their bags, leaving their shoes on, etc.

It you don’t qualify for Precheck, try joining a frequent-flyer program.  Although you may never earn that free flight, some elite-status flyers can get access to faster security lines for themselves and companions.

When you get to security be sure to have your boarding pass and ID ready. Also, keep your carry-on bag organized.  Don’t be that person who has to pull everything of their bag to find the laptop hidden its depths.  I like to bring an empty water bottle, so that I can fill it up after I get through security.

After you have gotten through security and get to your gate double check to make sure the gate has not been moved. You are now free to move around the airport, just don’t go too far. Relax, explore, enjoy your victory.

Here are a few extra tips to help you on your way:

  • Keep a pen in every carry-on bag. There is always some form that needs to be filled out!
  • I like to bring an empty water bottle, so that I can fill it up after I get through security.
  • Did you know TSA has an app? It is a great way to stay up to date on rules and restrictions. Download it on your phone before you leave for the airport.

 There are so many steps involved in planning a great vacation. It is a lot to think about and the reality can be incredibly overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to turn to a professional. Booking your own vacation can take 5 hours or more searching consumer travel sites. Violet Clove Travel Group offers personalized service finding you the right trip for the best value. A good travel agent can alleviate a lot of the stress when planning a vacation.   Contact Tiffany! at 1-216-236-8450 or by email at

The Significance of a Passport in the U.S. in 2017

The Significance of a Passport in the U.S. in 2017

As a result of the 9/11 attacks, a piece of travel legislation was enacted that made American Passports a necessity when traveling to and from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean in 2007.  As a result, millions of U.S. travelers obtained their 10-year passport credentials. And as of this year, all those passports are about to expire, which may result in a log-jam of passport renewals in 2017.  Here are some tidbits you should keep in mind regarding passports, especially if you have to renew your passport like I do.  In addition, additional legislation is being launched that may require needing a passport even for domestic travel too.

Passport Book vs. Passport Card

You may be wondering about your passport expiration date right now.  If you are thinking about taking a vacation outside of the United States, keep in mind that it can take up to 6-weeks, not county any unforeseen delays,  to get your passport renewed.  You may also wonder, if you can save a few pennies and just get that passport card instead.  It’s smaller and will fit into your purse or carry-on bag better.  Let’s compare the two, because it all depends on HOW you will travel that will determine whether you need one, the other or maybe even both.

Both the passport book and the passport card expire after 10 years for those 16 years of age or older.  However, you must pay close attention to your kids passports as they expire after 5 years (more about this later.)  The passport card is small like a credit card but looks more like a driver’s license. The initial cost to purchase one is $55 and the cost to renew is $30.  However, it will only allow you to cross by land in Mexico or Canada or into a seaport in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Bermuda. You will not be able to use a passport card for air travel outside of the United States.

A passport book has a lot of pages for visas, and arrival/departure stamps.  This is the passport credential that covers all bases.  The initial cost of a passport book is $135 and is $110 to renew.  It is what the U.S. government requires that allows you to travel to a foreign country and return to the United States.  Keep in mind there are some countries that require a visa in addition to a passport book.  Your travel professional can assist you with identifying the countries that require visas.

As you can see a passport book is advantageous if you are flying to countries outside of the United States.  However, if you are booking a lot of Cruises or traveling by land into Canada or Mexico, then perhaps a passport card is all you need. Meanwhile, you can save money if you prefer to have a passport book and card.  You can purchase them together for $165 with a renewal fee of $140.

New Security Features

Believe it or not, passports now include technology to assist with security and reduce fraud.  This means that new passports will include a chip that provides all your personal information to a computer. As a result, your former 52-page passport book will be lighter and is reduced to 28 pages, unless you opt for more.

Children’s Passports – Better Double Check

As we mentioned earlier, passport books and cards for children under the age of 16 expire after 5 years.  Keep in mind that some countries expect your passport to not expire for at least 6 months after your return date back to the United States.  Mexico is definitely one of those countries that has this requirement. One last tidbit, and this is a pain, is that there is more paperwork associated with your children’s passport credentials, like consent forms and parent-child relationships, than those for adults.  So check your children’s passport information often and early.  So, when you are thinking of booking a trip outside of the United States and bringing your children with you, remember to double check your children’s passport book and card expiration dates.

How to Renew Your Passport

For those ages 16 and older a passport can be  renewed online through the State Department.  Or it can be renewed in person at a local agency like your local post office or Department of Motor Vehicles.  However, make sure you follow instructions carefully. For example, as of November 1, 2016 you can no longer wear glasses in your passport photo.  If you do, it could delay the process.  If you do have a photo with your glasses on, simply obtain another photo and resubmit to the Department of State.

Using the photo requirements will keep your passport from being rejected or delayed. More than 200,000 passport applications in 2015 were rejected because of bad photos. Here are some passport photo tips:

  • Photos should be against a neutral backdrop
  • Over or underexposed photos are rejected
  • Photos should have been taken within the past six months
  • The image MUST BE the right size, neither too large or too small
  • Photos must be of high resolution

For more specific passport and photo information visit the Department of State by clicking here.

New Federal ID Travel Law – READ ID

One of the newest federal laws is the READ ID Act that will soon be enforced throughout the United Sates. This could mean that your driver’s license may not be valid form of ID, even for domestic travel, if your state’s technology is lagging behind.  This is where your passport book or card will definitely come in handy.

If your State is lagging behind and has not upgraded its technology you could be turned away at the gate starting in 2018. As of December 2016, the states that may not be in compliant with this new Federal Law, are:  Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington. Some states have had their deadline extended but everyone must be in compliance by 2020. Frequent travelers worried that their state won’t comply in time may go ahead and renew or acquire a passport instead.  For a current list of compliance, visit the Homeland Security website by clicking here.

The REAL ID, is a federal security standard for state driver’s licenses that was passed in 2005.  It allows machine-readable technology to read a chip on your state driver’s license.  Some states are having trouble with compliance because of not having money in the budget to switch to the new technology. And other states are out right refusing to upgrade to the new technology.

So you are aware, here are some important dates to consider regarding this new federal law for travel:

  • January 22, 2018: The official date the READ ID Act will be enforced.
  • October 1, 2020: This is the date by when “every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.”

So as you can see, the events of 9/11 has changed the way we travel.  To keep America safe, new rules for travel have been enacted for our own protection from terrorists or unsavory characters.  So, whether you plan to travel outside of the United States or not, it may be a good time to consider either a passport book, passport card or both.  If you have any further questions about passports books, passport cards, visas, or READ ID, please contact me! At Violet Clover Travel Group at 1-216-236-8450.

Spring and Summer Vacation Deals to IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts

IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts

Iberostar Deals
All this month, we’re offering amazing savings on all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts located on the best beaches throughout Mexico, Punta Cana, and Jamaica! All of these spectacular resorts are known for outstanding service, fantastic amenities, and spacious accommodations. Perfect for both families and couples, these resorts feature stunning pools, clubs for kids and teens, lavish spas, and nightly entertainment.

Step up your stay to IBEROSTAR’s Grand Collection and experience a truly luxurious, adults (18+) only vacation with gourmet restaurants, highly personalized service, and upgraded accommodations with elegant amenities. Plus, enjoy added values such as exchange privileges with participating IBEROSTAR properties, golf discounts, and more.

Book your spring or summer vacation by March 30, 2017!

 For more information contact me at


New Sandals Property in Barbados

Sandals Resorts is thrilled to announce its second property in Barbados, Sandals Royal Barbados. This all suite resort is available for booking today for stays beginning December 20, 2017.

According to Sandals Resorts chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the new, stand-alone resort was originally conceived as an expansion of the nearby Sandals Barbados.  However, said Stewart, “After reviewing the scope of the project, we felt that expanding may compromise intimacy, essential to a romantic setting, and possibly service standards, so we established a management team dedicated exclusively to Sandals Royal Barbados and designed the new resort to complement Sandals Barbados, where in Sandals’ style –  guests may ‘stay at one, but play at two’.”

Sandals Royal Barbados will offer 222 rooms, which will all be concierge and butler-level suites, including the brand’s signature Rondovals, Millionaire Butler Suites, and Skypool Suites which include private Rolls Royce transfers to and from the airport, along with an extensive Crystal Lagoon Pool Complex including Swim-Up Suites.


Signature suites at Sandals Royal Barbados
Exciting amenities will include a full-service 13,000 square foot Red Lane® Spa, four bars offering unlimited premium spirits and five of the brand’s signature dining establishments including American, French, Chinese-Japanese Fusion, Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisines.

New American Cuisine Restaurant at Sandals Royal Barbados
The resort will also debut a 6,000 sq. ft. conference facility equipped with meeting aids such as a projector screen, microphone with stand, basic internet and more.

Meeting Facilities at Sandals Royal Barbados
Vacations at this new resort start from $251 per person/per night.
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