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Playa Mujeres, Mexico – A Mexican Secret

Playa Mujeres, Mexico

Looking for your next getaway? Check out the miles of uninterrupted beach—and thoughtful luxury—in Playa Mujeres, Mexico.

Just 25 minutes north of Cancún International Airport is Playa Mujeres, an exclusive beach destination. This up-and-coming slice of paradise is perfect for those who seek a luxury travel destination that’s more private than other Mexican vacation hotspots.

cancun resorts

High-end, all-inclusive resorts like Finest Playa Mujeres, Excellence Playa Mujeres and Beloved Playa Mujeres by Excellence Group prove to be elegant retreats on tranquil beaches. The area offers easy access to Cancún’s energetic nightlife and culture, celebrated Maya archaeological sites, cenotes (natural sinkholes) and other favorite tourist attractions.

Caribbean-style island

Perhaps best of all, Isla Mujeres lies just off the Playa Mujeres coastline. Several hotels offer day trips to this beautiful Caribbean-style island, where you can snorkel, fish, swim with whale sharks, relax on white sand beaches, and admire the Sea Walls Murals in el centro. Rent a golf cart or bicycle for your island tour, and be sure not to miss the ocean views from Mexico’s easternmost point at Acantilado del Amanecer, or Cliff of the Dawn.

 

Images courtesy of Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau

October 2017 Deal Alert

RIU HOTELS & RESORTS

RIU HOTELS & RESORTS

At RIU Hotels & Resorts, you’ll enjoy signature 24-hour all-inclusive service and receive unlimited dining, drinks, daily activities, entertainment and more for one low upfront price. You can leave your wallet at home and simply enjoy your vacation. Choose from an incredible collection of properties surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, the Caribbean and Costa Rica. Plus, Travelife (an international certification system helping hotels & accommodations develop & maintain best practices in sustainability) just awarded 24 RIU Hotels & Resorts with the prestigious Gold Award for sustainability.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

RIU REPUBLICA

Expansion opening November 18, 2017 - Including Splash Water World

Travel dates:

Jan. 5 – Feb. 28, 2018

3 nights starting at $720

Cancun, Mexico

RIU DUNAMAR

Opening December 2, 2017

Travel dates:

Jan. 5 - Jan. 18, 2018

Includes savings up to 10%

3 nights starting at $798

St. Martin, West Indies

RIU PALACE ST. MARTIN

Travel dates:

Jan. 5 - Jan. 18, 2018

 
*Offers and pricing subject to change without notice. Prices advertised are for 3 night stay, hotel-only for 10/10/17-11/1/17 bookings for select January– February 2018 travel. Prices quoted are per person based on double occupancy, are not retroactive, and are subject to limited availability. Added values are based on availability, room category; validity dates or other restrictions may apply and are subject to change. Various cancellation penalties, payment requirements and holiday/weekend/special event surcharges may apply.

Dubai Tops Americans’ Travel Bucket List

Dubai Bucket List Travel

The analytics team at www.US.Jetcost.com recently revealed the results of their research and ongoing studies into the travel plans of Americans. 4,956 Americans aged 18 and over were quizzed about their vacation plans—where they had been and where they would be most likely to go next. The team managed to compile a variety of statistics about the average American traveler’s vacation practices, and a “bucket list” of the top 10 destinations for Americans.

 On the quiz, respondents were initially asked where there most recent vacation had been. 39 percent of respondents—almost two fifths—stated they had been on a vacation in a different state within America, while the top destinations following that were Mexico at 12 percent and Canada at 11 percent.

When asked why they had gone to another state rather than another country, the top responses were “It’s not different going to another country/it’s completely different to the state I live in” at 26 percent and “It’s too expensive to venture outside of America” at 17 percent.

Following these inquiries, respondents were asked where in the world they’d most like to travel given the opportunity. From a full list of countries around the world, those taking the quiz were asked to pick their top three. Here are the top ten countries from the study:

1.      Dubai - 29%
2.      Costa Rica - 25%
3.      Iceland - 24%
4.      Italy - 20%
5.      Kenya - 18%
6.      Croatia - 17%
7.      Brazil - 17%
8.      Switzerland - 15%
9.      Samoa - 14%
10.  Cyprus - 13%

The poll then went on to ask what attracted each respondent to their top three countries. The most popular response for Dubai was “shopping opportunities” (48%); for Costa Rica, the main draw were “the sloth sanctuaries,” (52%) and for Iceland, the “Northern Lights” were the chief attraction (73%).

Borrowed from: http://www.travelagentcentral.com/destinations/dubai-costa-rica-and-iceland-top-americans-travel-bucket-list

10 Things About Dubai

Dubai Skyline

by Hazel Plus, The Telegraph, March 28, 2017

 

The Dubai World Cup, formerly the world's richest horse race, takes place today. But spectators at the Meydan Racecourse won't actually be having a flutter. Because gambling is illegal in the emirate. Here are 10 more things that might surprise you:

1. You'll probably only meet one 'local' person

Emiratis tend to keep to themselves, away from the main tourist drag, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll get chatting on the beach – indeed, most tourists only encounter one Emirati on their holidays: when they get their passport stamped at the airport.

Border control is staffed almost entirely by Emiratis (indeed, most bureaucratic roles are reserved for “nationals”), but this isn’t the ideal place to strike up a conversation about local life. If you do have burning questions, keep them for a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Museum of Cultural Understanding – a brilliant initiative that connects holidaymakers with Emirati people for cooking lessons, traditional dinners and heritage tours.

Emirati nationals are far outnumbered by expats in Dubai, to the tune of almost six to one. The majority of the population is Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Asian and Western.

 

2. It’s not as tall as you think

At last count, Dubai has 1,344 completed skyscrapers – that’s small fry compared with Hong Kong (6,606) and New York (6,180), according to construction data from emporis.com. The city is indeed home to the world’s tallest tower (Burj Khalifa – more of which later), which peaks at 828 metres.

In 2006, a quarter of the world’s cranes were working on Dubai building sites, but those days are over – after the 2008 financial crisis, the crazy construction rate has slowed.

You might think that the ludicrously big Dubai Fountains are the tallest in the world, but they’re not – that accolade goes to King Fahd's Fountain, in Saudi Arabia. Dubai can’t even lay claim to the world’s tallest residential skyscraper: its Princess Tower (413 metres, in Dubai Marina) was surpassed in 2014 by New York’s 432 Park Avenue (426 metres).

3. Its police cars are epic

With so many supercars on Dubai’s roads, its law enforcers couldn’t just pootle around in Fords like the British constabulary. To keep up with the crims, they turn to Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys – of course.

They added a McLaren to their fleet in December 2013, and a Bugatti Veyron in 2014. Powered by a 691 horsepower mid-mounted V12 engine, the force’s Lamborghini Aventador can go from zero-to-60 in less than 3 seconds, and has a top speed of 217 miles per hour. Its BMW i8 makes mincemeat out of fleeing villains, going zero-to-60 in 4.2 seconds.

On a less luxurious note, Dubai police has its own band of bagpipers who perform at state events. If you ask nicely, they might play you Scotland the Brave.

4. It owes a lot to Abu Dhabi

Burj Khalifa, the world’s biggest skyscraper, looms high above the rooftops of Dubai – but it wouldn’t have been completed without the financial help of Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s neighbouring emirate.

Until just before it opened in 2010, the tower was actually called Burj Dubai (literally “Dubai Tower”), but it was renamed in honour of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, the Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai, which had been deep in the throes of a financial crisis, had just been bailed out by Sheikh Khalifa to the tune of £6.13bn – so it showed its gratitude in typically lavish style.

5. It should have had a Steven Gerrard Tower

For all of the architectural follies that have been built in Dubai (man-made islands, record-breaking towers, et al), there are countless other outlandish designs that haven’t made it past the drawing board .

International Chess City (a cluster of 32 black and white skyscrapers, designed to look like chess pieces) was proposed, but didn’t make the cut. The Steven Gerrard Tower met a similar fate. Dynamic Tower, whose floors were designed to spin (yikes), was never built either.

6. The locals are rich, but occasionally forgetful

In case you were in any doubt that Dubai’s residents are minted, take a look at its lost-and-found statistics. In 2015, a passenger left AED146,000 (£35,000) in cash in a Dubai Airport toilet cubicle (it was returned to her) – and in the first four months of 2016 a whopping AED42,171 (£9,000) cash was left in the airport’s lost property.

According to Dubai Police, two diamond rings worth AED150,000 (£33,400) were also handed in to the airport authorities. And in October 2016, a taxi driver handed in a gold ingot that had been left in his cab. It was worth AED3.5million (£780,000), and was later reunited with its owner.

7. There are far more men than women

Of Dubai’s 2.5 million-strong population, 1.7 million are male – that’s almost 70 per cent. Females account for just over 30 per cent of Dubai’s population, according to official census statistics. The higher proportion of men is attributed to the fact that most of the city’s expats are males, who have left their families behind in their home countries.

Dubai residents are a sprightly bunch, too. 58 per cent of the population is aged 25 to 44, with the majority of people aged 30 to 34. Clearly, the cut-and-thrust expat lifestyle is best suited to youngsters: just 15 per cent of the population is aged 45 or over.

8. Its Crown Prince is an action man

The son of Dubai’s ruler, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum – or Fazza, to his friends – is the handsome, media-friendly poster boy of the royal family. He’s widely respected by both the expat and national community, and counts skydiving, falconry, fishing and diving among his hobbies. He also publishes poetry in the region’s traditional Nabati style, which dates back to the 16th century.

His Instagram feed isn’t the bling fest you might expect from an Emirati royal. Ok, so he clearly enjoys flying helicopters, hanging out in private jets and hanging out with Damian Lewis at Royal Ascot, but he also loves playing tennis, cuddling ponies and petting babies. Naaw. He’s even taken the London Underground with his dad.

9. It was built on pearl diving

Before tourism, Dubai made its money with oil. But before oil? Fishing, farming and pearl diving were the emirate’s  main trades. In the early 20th century there were 300 pearl diving dhows (traditional sailing boats) based in Dubai Creek, with over 7,000 sailors on board.

The men would be at sea from mid-May to early September, diving for up to 14 hours every day while the women looked after their families. The average dive would be ten metres deep: divers would reach the seabed with the aid of a noseclip and a weight tied around their waist, and then haul themselves up on a rope.  They would make about 50 dives per day.

10. You can buy pretty much anything from a vending machine

The Gold to Go ATM in Dubai Mall allows you to buy anything from a 2.5-gram, 24-karat gold coin to a one-ounce gold bar. There’s even a computer inside the vending machine that changes the prices every 10 minutes in line with real-time fluctuations in the market.

Bling not your thing? Take a visit to the Sharaf DG store at the Times Square Centre mall, where you can buy a laptop, tablet, camera or phone straight from a vending machine.

This article was written by Hazel Plush from The Telegraph

Travel Agents vs OTAs

What would you say if I told you that travel agents aren’t in competition with online travel agency giants like Trip Advisor, Booking.com, Expedia, Priceline and others? Maybe you’re waiting for a punchline, but I’m honestly not telling a joke. What would a travel agent vs. booking online face-off look like?

While starting a home based travel agency in the shadow of internet giants like Expedia can feel like a David vs. Goliath scenario (umm, where the travel agent is measly little adolescent David), I’m here to bring you glad tidings of why travel agents have an edge over OTAs, and how they can save travelers TONS of time (and money) on their vacations.

Suspend your doubt and hear me out.

No Seriously, Americans Spend So Much Time Online Planning Travel, It’s Ridiculous.   

Recent data published by Expedia documented that American travelers an aggregate of 8.7 capital-B-BILLION minutes of travel planning and booking time per year? It seems ludicrous, right? I know, I did a double take too. But that is the amount of time Americans spent consuming digital travel content in 2015, according to Expedia’s white paper, “The American Traveler’s Path to purchase.”

In the 45 days prior to booking travel—from beginning research to final purchase—the traveling American visited a whopping 140 travel websites. No seriously, that is a not a typo.

How much time does this add up to? Well the report indicates that in the six weeks prior to booking, Americans consume 22.95 hours of digital travel media.

Is your jaw to the floor yet? Well it’s about to get even more slack: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, the average hourly wage in the U.S. as of Aug. 2017 registered at $26.39/hr 1, which means that it costs American travelers $605.65 of work time to plan and book vacations.

What does this mean for travelers?

A). They better research and book vacations while they’re on company dime (preferably not their company) and hope they don’t get fired for it.

Or, better yet,

B.) Go with a travel agent, don’t get fired, and save over $600 of your time.

How OTAs Work, and Why They Don’t Save Travelers Money Anymore

The $600+ savings in work time really just scratches at the surface. There are tons of other ways that using a travel agent vs. booking online save clients money.

1. OTA Access to Inventory Is limited

When you were a kid and asked your parents for a snack, they probably didn’t open the fridge and cupboards and let you have at it. No, they probably pulled out a few choice items and say, “this is what you can choose from.”

OTAs operate in the same way. OTAs used to rely on ample off-peak inventory, and empty seats on planes and rooms in hotels to offer discounts, and it worked. Vendors would dump their excess inventory on OTA sites for a premium commission to OTAs. Heck, at the end of the day, selling a hotel room for cheap is better than zippo, right? But the OTAs are no longer the land of milk and honey they used to be.

There was a huge rise in the number of OTAs and suppliers smartened up, doing things like having contracts where OTAs were not able to offer prices lower than what the traveler could find directly on the brand site. They stopped offering premium commissions, and some vendors (like Southwest) even refused to sell their inventory on OTAs. (Does this sounds familiar? Airlines did the same thing, cut commissions to travel agents in the 90s).

In fact, it’s the vendors that price the products—not the OTAs themselves. So, like the stingy parent, OTAs will not (and cannot) offer the smorgasbord of travel products and discounts they used to. They can’t.

Now let’s jump back to the travel agent vs. booking online thing. A travel agent will open all their cupboards, and find the best value available. Heck, they’ll even take you to the grocery store and present a full range of available travel options. Travel agents will not only have access to product and pricing, but they’ll also have the savvy to know the nitty gritty of things like which seats on the plane are more spacious for the same price.

2. Price Discrimination and “Steering”

According to a Wired article, the OTAs pricing would shift constantly due to supply and demand. This means that customers could potentially be directed to sites that weren’t the best deals, depending on the quantity demanded while the traveler book (remember how they try to scare you with warnings of “2 rooms left at this price?”).

OTAs with their Big Brother-like technology know when and how a traveler is booking. So if a traveler is attempting to book a hotel, on a mobile phone, the same evening of their desired reservation date, the OTA’s magic algorithm will smell their desperation, and potentially steer the customer to more expensive booking.

Price discrimination comes into play when they charge different consumers different prices for the same product (which is illegal). According to the Wired article, at one point, “Orbitz was steering Apple OSX users, for example, to more expensive hotels, since the algorithm assumed that an Apple user was more affluent than a PC user.”

Agent don’t, and can’t, do that. There is a level of price stability when purchasing from travel agent—who can put holds on tickets and packages to preserve the price until the end of the day or for 24 hours. (Read more real-life ways travel agents save clients money). 

 

3. Fine Print

Surprise! There are taxes and fees that might sneak up on the purchaser when they get to the checkout of an OTA.

With travel agents, the full cost to clients is transparent at the time they are quoted the price.

4. Group Bookings

Travel agents can especially save for clients who are traveling in groups. According to SmartFlyer’s CEO Mike Holtz in a Travel Market Report article, “travel websites will only show the lowest fare available for four tickets. But an agent might be able to find three seats at a fare hundreds of dollars less, with savings into the thousands of dollars.”

Travel agents—who are not governed by algorithms—have the experience and ability to analyze the options in front of them, and filter through them quickly in order to build group packages that maximize value and save money for their clients. Yet another reason to use a travel agent vs. booking online.

This Is to Mention Nothing of Customer Service and Client Satisfaction

Travel agents save clients money, but really it goes so much more beyond that. Travel agents also create high-value travel over OTAs because (the living, breathing, talented humans that they are) are able to advocate for clients when things go awry.

What can an OTA do for a traveler who is unhappy with a hotel room, let alone stuck in the middle of a natural disaster? The answer, not a whole lot, if anything at all.

Travel agents are able leverage their relationships with vendors in order to provide the best customer service possible to travelers. So not only will the traveler save money, but they can travel with the peace of mind that a travel agent can help them out in a bind if they transfer hotels, switch rooms, or re-book a flight.

In the same ASTA study referenced earlier, it was documented that “63% of consumers polled said using an agent makes their overall trip experience better.” So not only will travel agents save travelers time, money and stress during the planning and booking process––they’ll also help create a more satisfying and relaxing travel experience during the trip itself .  .  . and that, my friend, is entire purpose of a vacation.

How to get the best seats on your next Southwest flight.

Southwest Airlines. You either love them or you hate them. I’m in the “love them” camp. I love the prices and I love being able to take a change of clothes for no added costs, i.e. no baggage fees. I think most other people would agree with that the low prices and the free bags are great. It’s the open seating policy that bothers people. I get it! You want to sit with your travel partner. While it can be stressful having to hustle for a good seat on Southwest, I’ve found that with a few simple strategies you can increase your chance of sitting with your honey and avoiding that dreaded middle seat.

Learn how the Southwest Airlines seating process works.

Southwest Airlines has a unique open seating policy – basically, seats are not assigned. When you check in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1-60). Your boarding group and position determine the order in which you will be allowed to board the flight. During the Southwest boarding process, passengers are instructed to line up in order based on their boarding group and position. So, passengers holding A group boarding passes board first, then B, then C. Within each group, passengers will line up based on their numbers. For example, A1 will board before A20. Upon boarding the flight, you may choose any open seat. Seats on Southwest flights are in a 3×3 configuration.

The key to getting a good seat on Southwest is, obviously, to board early.

I’ve found that an A group or early B group (B1-B30) is always sufficient to provide me with several good open seats and plenty of overhead bin space. B31-B60 can be okay too but it depends on how many people you are traveling with, how full the flight is and whether the flight is connecting from somewhere else. The C group usually means “center seat” and may require you to also gate check overhead bags.

Check in EXACTLY 24 hours before your flight.

If you would like to get a good seat on your next Southwest Airlines flight, follow this rule. Check in opens 24 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. The earlier you check in, the earlier your spot in line will be. Many passengers will also be checking in 24 hours before the flight so a few minutes or seconds can make a big difference in your boarding group or position.

If you are unsure whether you will be able to check-in 24 hours prior to your flight, purchase EarlyBird Check-In.

I prefer not to spend any more money than I have to but found EarlyBird Check-In useful for those occasions I know I will not be able to manually check in. Effective March 14, 2016, the cost for Early Bird Check In is $15.00 one-way per person. When you purchase EarlyBird Check-In, Southwest automatically checks you in and assigns your boarding position within 36 hours of your flight’s departure. Southwest Early Bird Check In doesn’t guarantee an A boarding position, but you most likely will be in the A or early B group.

Pay even more money or fly more often to guarantee early boarding.

The only way to absolutely guarantee an A1-A15 boarding position on Southwest is to purchase a Business Select fare. This isn’t the most attractive option for leisure passengers though as the fare is more expensive. If you still want a crack at that A1-A15 spot but don’t want to purchase a Business Select fare, you can try Upgraded Boarding. Warning: this is not a guaranteed option as it may not be available. On the day of travel, inquire at the gate or ticket counter before the boarding process begins. If Upgraded Boarding is available, you can secure a boarding position in the A1-A15 group for $30 or $40 per flight, depending on your itinerary.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards members with A-List and A-List Preferred status are also automatically assigned boarding positions ahead of general boarding – just like EarlyBird but without the fee. Not much you can do about that.

Tips on How to Get a Good Seat on Southwest Airlines

Why travel insurance is important?

If you are traveling overseas, or even domestically, taking out travel insurance is highly recommended.

 1. Getting help overseas

Thousands of Americans experience some kind of trouble when vacationing overseas each year.

Having the right level of travel insurance cover is critical when traveling. If you fall ill or have an accident while overseas, travel insurance can ensure that you get the best quality of care and you can be moved, either back home or to a better medical facility, if needed.

2. Travel insurance provides you with protection from medical costs

If you require medical attention while traveling, you may be liable for the cost of your treatment if you don’t have travel insurance.

In many countries, medical treatment for visitors can be incredibly expensive.

3. Travel insurance can cover disruptions to your trip

It’s no secret that when you travel, there is much that’s out of your control. Flights can be delayed or you might need to return home if an emergency occurs.

 Without travel insurance, disruptions to your trip can end up costing you a fortune. In many cases, you lose the money you’ve already paid, and have to pay for new bookings too.

 Many travel insurance packages will cover you for incidents that are out of your control, so that you don’t have to spend your own money if something goes wrong.

4. You can be reimbursed for your losses and expenses

If your luggage is stolen, lost or damaged overseas, you can end up significantly out of pocket – and if you don’t have travel insurance, you will be responsible for replacing your items.

If you take out the right insurance, however, you can be reimbursed for your losses and expenses, meaning that you won’t lose money due to an airline or hotel blunder, or a thief’s wrong doings.

 How much is your luggage worth?

Panama

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 travel.state.gov.

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

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Visas

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


SET YOUR SIGHTS ON ADVENTURE
Offer
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
info@violetclovertravelgroup.com
216-236-8450
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 www.royalcaribbean.com 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

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