Encore! For The Norwegian Encore

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. Amanda recently experienced the inaugural “docked cruise” of the brand new Norwegian Encore. The newest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, she can accommodate 4,000 guests.

For my first time on a ship, this beauty surely did not disappoint! I am not by any means a “cruiser”. In fact, I have never been on a ship in my life. After this inaugural though, I cannot wait to plan a cruise next year for myself! I think I really have been missing out on this on my entire life…

A few of my fellow Travel Specialists are avid cruises and made the experience smooth sailing for me, giving me great tips and tricks… Thanks Boscov’s Travel! Our Travel Specialists really know their stuff. With all the laughs and tears (from laughing so hard) we had while knowing that this was our mini-vacation, I know anyone will be able to go on this beautiful ship and make great memories – just like I did!

Some of Boscov’s Travel Specialists enjoying the ship!
Some of Boscov’s Travel Specialists enjoying the ship!

A little more about the ship… from the classy atrium to the bake shop, to the race track all the way to the mojito bar, this ship had something to offer for everyone. In addition to touring the ship and experiencing the entertainment, we had a chance to hear from Norwegian’s CEO. He shared his plans for the future and how the company is focused on the environment and issues surrounding cruising! HOW COOL!

One special perk of being invited to the inaugural is the ability to tour the entire ship to better inform each and every client. We were lucky enough to be able to tour The Haven which is their luxurious accommodations, and let me tell you they really are! With their own entrance onto the ship, their own private pool, and their own concierge, The Haven is most definitely worth the extra cost.

The Haven private pool

We were also able to experience the cuisine. The Encore has so many dining options so there is something for everyone! I am a very picky eater and I did not go hungry. The restaurants on this ship were absolutely amazing! I was fortunate enough to be able to experience various complimentary restaurants and one specialty dining restaurant. My favorite – the complimentary Manhattan Room (available on several Norwegian ships) – featured my favorite meal onboard, surf and turf. I must say, it might have been one of the best steaks I have ever had.

We also dined at additional specialty restaurants including Los Lobos,  contemporary Mexican restaurant with a modern twist. Everything our table ordered was spectacular and the views were even better. We sat adjacent to the floor to ceiling glass paneled windows and were treated to spectacular views. Paired with a delicious dinner and table-side guacamole, it is safe to say that this is a great specialty dining choice.

Food on the Norwegian Ecnore
Specialty dining, Los Cabos Salad!
Caesar Salad from complimentary dining restaurant, The Manhattan Room
Surf and Turf from complimentary dining restaurant, The Manhattan Room

I know I keep saying this, but this ship has so much to offer! Shows, the casino, comedy clubs, dance clubs, trivia, the spa, virtual games, an arcade, casino, laser tag and go cart racing you will never go bored on this ship. I was able to experience a variety of entertainment on board. First stop, the shows. Choir of Man and Kinky Boots are performed nightly in the theater and WOW let me tell you, everyone raved about these shows, especially Choir of Man. In fact, it’s the highest rated entertainment on all of Norwegian’s ships! And it’s all included – these guys perform at venues around the globe and tickets are in excess of $140/each (and worth it). Luckily, it will be complimentary for you onboard… just be sure to reserve your seats as soon as you can.

I was able to experience the Galaxy Pavillion – the virtual game room onboard –  which was nothing less than amazing! In one scenario you lay down and it feels like you are soaring through the most scenic places. I also tried a game called descendants which sadly I think I might have had the worst record on the ship but man was that game fun! Shout out to our Travel Specialist Tammy from Camp Hill who rocked it, as the worker reminded me (haha).

One thing I never got up to see due to the weather was the Encore Speedway. My colleagues who had a chance to ride it and said it was epic! This speedway hangs 13 feet over the side of the ship. Then once you’re done racing you can head next door to the laser tag on the same deck! How cool that you can have these experiences on a cruise.

My two favorite parts of the ship? The Waterfront and the Observatory Lounge for their views. Let me tell you these pictures do not do it justice. Floor to ceiling windows in the lounge, you will never have a bad view from wherever you sit. Hang by the comfy chairs and enjoy the scenery because that lounge is spectacular. When you’re done there head outside to the Waterfront for the most comfy chairs and views. They also have built in heaters in the ceiling for when it gets chilly. On a chilly Tuesday afternoon in New York, I felt warm with the help of the heaters.

This ship has so much to offer – I could go on for days, but I won’t. You should just go experience it yourself so you truly understand. I promise you, it will not disappoint. Scroll down for more photos from the ship!

 

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com 

Holiday Travel: Where to go for the Holiday Season

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel marketing department.
Before you know it, the holidays will be here (I know some of my colleagues have started decorating for Christmas already!). If you are like me and like to plan ahead to avoid the rush, stress and are not quite your house can fit one.more.toy., consider giving the gift of travel. Besides, statistics show 53.1% of people report receiving unwanted gifts during Christmas. Give your family, friend or loved one a dream vacation, tour, cruise because we can guarantee that gift will not end up in the trash (like the 4% that are immediately thrown there!). Below are tips and recommendations on where to go on 1) an extended vacation 2) a weekend getaway as well as 3) day trips to experience this holiday season.
Extended vacation

WALT DISNEY WORLD
Most people typically associate the most magical place on earth with summer vacations, but visiting the magic during the holiday season can be the best time to go. The Christmas lights, decorations, shows, weather, WAIT times… yes you heard me right – there are typically less crowds! Just travel before December 23rd as this starts the peak week for Disney crowds and lasts until New Years. My family typically travels to Disney the second week of December and it’s about 70-75 degrees during the day and high 60’s in the evening. It’s so perfect considering Pennsylvania is about 30 degrees at that time.
Let us help you plan your Disney holiday. We still have 2019 packages available through our exclusive non-stop flights from select local airports. Call or visit your local Boscov’s Travel to plan your magical vacation!

CRUISING
If you’ve ever been on a cruise during a holiday, you know the staff goes all out! Whether it be Halloween or Christmas, on cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line or Disney Cruise Line, you’ll be charmed by the activities and creativity of the crew. Plus you can even take cruises into the New Year… talk about the ultimate party at sea. Bonus perk: no time spent laboring over the holiday meal.





Weekend getaway
HERSHEY, PA
Yes, this sounds bizarre but this recommendation is for the people who want that theme park experience, but might be on a budget, have time constraints or you’re looking for something a little closer to home. Hershey is a great destination for winter activities. No, you won’t get that warm weather, but you will get great park deals as well as fewer crowds. Hershey Park remains open during this time with select rides available to ride and entrance is historically anywhere from $20-23. Santa visits and brings his reindeer in for the season for you to visit and feed. How cool is that? Hershey is also known for their Christmas light displays where you experience the dancing lights in the comfort of your warm car. Turn on their radio station and travel through Hershey’s very own Candy Cane Lane! It’s super cute for the young ones and well worth it.
NEW YORK CITY, NY
What a place to visit during the holidays! The city is just gorgeous once the holiday hits the town. The Rockettes, Christmas Village, The Nutcracker, Christmas markets, Rockefeller Center, and beyond… New York really shows up for the holiday. You know when you see movies of people ice skating in NYC? You can do that too! Just visit Bryant Park Winter Village. This 17,000 square foot ice skating rink features lots of activities nearby with vendors and businesses in the area. Be sure to check out Santaland at Macy’s, the New York tradition since 1902.
Day Trips
PEDDLER’S VILLAGE IN DOYLESTOWN, PA
Peddler’s Village is a cute town-like setting with quaint shops and fine dining. They feature grand illumination lighting with one million lights and an annual Gingerbread House competition and display. This place feels like a fairytale when you visit it at Christmas time. With over 60 specialty shops, from bakeries, restaurants, clothing, jewelry stores, unique food stores, this is a day trip I would tell everyone to visit at least once.
PHILADELPHIA, PA
Ohh Philadelphia. Macy parade? Check! City Hall festivities, ice skating, Philly’s own nutcracker, and Love Park village make this a Christmas-y day trip. Holiday pop-ups during the holidays are a draw for the City of Brotherly Love. If you decide to spend a weekend, I would head over to the Macy’s Christmas Light show on the first night. Every two hours there is a free performance and it is AMAZING! Macy’s has the whole second floor transformed into a village so you can relax and enjoy (and stay warm). Once you hit the city for a day two make sure to head over to City Hall. This is where the Deck the Hall Light show plays and you can skate on the ice rink. Then head over to Philadelphia Christmas Village in Love Park. With 80 wooden booths of merchants of all different varieties, there is something for everyone in this village. End your night over at the Comcast Center where you will see a super high-res LED holiday show.
Ready to start planning? Contact your Boscov’s Travel Specialist to get away for the holidays.
Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

The Majesty of Alaska and Cruising with Holland America Line

The following post was written by Lori in our Marketing Department and is a review of her experience aboard Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam to Alaska. Departing September 21, 2019 from Seattle, WA, the ship made stops in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, AL and Victoria, B.C.  

“And she gazed at the sky, the sea, the land,
The waves and the caves and the golden sand.
She gazed and gazed, amazed by it all,
And she said to the whale, “I feel so small.”

This is one of my favorite pages from a children’s book written by Julia Donaldson and perfectly sums up my Alaskan adventure. I will try my hardest to describe the majesty of Alaska, the beauty of sailing with Holland America Line on board ms Eurodam and the memories made with my mother — and I’m hoping at the end, you will want to experience it all for yourself as well.

Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam

The Ship

ms Eurodam is Holland America Line’s first Signature-class ship with a capacity of 2,104 guests. Noted for a full Music Walk experience, including Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Billboard Onboard, the talent on board is truly breathtaking. My favorite was B.B King’s Blues Club. The singers and band wowed the crowd with favorite blues from the 1960’s and beyond. The crowd was engaged and couples danced the night away — which was so sweet to watch.

B.B. King’s Blues Club
Billboard Onboard

There were additional performances onboard showcasing comedy, dance and more daily at the Mainstage. My favorite was the comedian David Crowe. His skits were light-hearted and side splitting funny. Equally as entertaining was an illusionist onboard. He wowed the crowd with illusions that had you wondering “How’d he do that?” for days. And if you are sitting next to someone who has their hand raised to help with a skit, you may just get pulled up on stage (me!). I’m still not quite sure where he put the blades he swallowed and later pulled back out of his mouth — eek.

Mainstage

Love America’s Test Kitchen? You’re in luck. Holland America Line has a test-kitchen right onboard. Another favorite of mine, I enjoyed learning new tips and tricks to use in the kitchen. On the menu for the day was adult grilled cheese (cheddar and brie spread, yum!) and creamy tomato soup without dairy. An added bonus, they give a unique URL of all current recipes from America’s Test Kitchen to everyone that sails with Holland America to use in their own home. So far I’ve tried a couple different recipes at home and they turned out great! Also, the demonstrator gave recommendations on places to eat in port and proved to be on-point (Tracy’s King Crab Shack in Juneau, yum!)

America’s Test Kitchen

Dining onboard is another notable experience. Complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in the Lido Market (buffet). Every day they served up fresh and delicious cuisines. You can also grab a NY style pizza at New York Pizza or a hamburger, hot dog and fries at Dive-In, all located on the same deck as the market. You can also choose to dine in the main Dining Room (complimentary table service) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We loved their lunchtime fish and chips meal and the surf and turf served during one of the two gala nights onboard. Also, the afternoon tea served at the Dining Room was a favorite and served the most delicious small plate sandwiches and desserts.
If you enjoy meeting new people onboard, ask to share a table when you go to the Dining Room. We met people from all over the United States and loved seeing them throughout the ship and staying up to date on their adventures as well as sharing our own. You may even meet a couple from the famous Punxsutawney, PA.

Dining Room

Additional photos from onboard:

Lido Pool
Outdoor Pool
The Shops
Loved my time in the gym

Insider tip: If you are flying on certain airlines, take advantage of Port Valet (offered by the Port of Seattle). It is a complimentary luggage service that takes your luggage the night before disembarkation, delivers it to the aiport, makes sure it gets on your plane for arrival at the airport when you arrive home. Port Valet will also provide you with your boarding pass (although some airlines you’ll have to get your boarding pass at the airport). It is an extremely easy process and the benefits of not having to lug your luggage to the airport is worth the 2-minutes to fill out the paperwork onboard.

Alaska

Alaska, also given the nickname as the final frontier, is packed with staggering mountains, breathtaking glaciers that are continuing to shape the land, wildlife, lively cities, unique culture and is on the top 3 of many peoples bucket-lists. With many cities only being accessible by boat/ship or plane, the people of Alaska adapt to the demands of the ever changing weather as a way of life. The Alaskan people truly adore where they live and can be felt by the warm welcome felt while touring this beautiful state.

Port 1 – Juneau, Alaska

Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Although it is not the largest city in Alaska, the town is bustling with shops, restaurants, a tram ride to the top of Mount Roberts, art and culture, excursions to experience fishing, kayaking, and the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier and visitors center. We chose the latter as our excursion at this port of call and was one of our favorites. After about a 20-minute bus ride filled with local history provided by the tour director, you arrive at the glacier with 2-hours to explore. An easy 1-mile walk up and back on Nugget Falls Trail got you up close and personal with the glacier and the Nugget Falls Waterfall.
Insider tip: For some extra fun, bring rain boots to get super close to the waterfall.

Nugget Falls
Mendenhall Glacier

We had some time before our excursion to explore so I ventured off in search of a new addition to Juneau. A 20-minute walk got me to the interactive lifesize statue of a baby humpback whale. It was worth the walk for the pictures alone and most cruisers aren’t aware of this piece of art yet.

Cruising Glacier Bay

This was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE day out of the whole trip. Holland America Line brings a park ranger onboard this day to narrate the changing landscapes, the wildlife you see passing by and the magnificent Margerie Glacier.

Margerie Glacier

Port 2 – Sitka, Alaska

In Sitka, we chose to do the Bird, Bears and Barnacles excursion hosted by Holland America Line. We visited the Raptor Center and saw injured raptors recovering in real-life environments, bears enjoying their time and a fish hatchery and science museum.

Port 3 – Ketchikan, Alaska

This was by far my favorite port of call. I chose to explore on my own today and did a self-guided walking tour of the town and surrounding landscapes including a hike on the popular Rainbird Hiking Trail. We were in Alaska at the end of the salmon season so I got to see them swimming up the river to lay their eggs and eventually the end of their life (a bit stinky but worth it).

Port 4 – Victoria, British Columbia

This port was the one I researched the least and was the one I was most pleasantly surprised at. We enjoyed sitting down at a local pub and enjoying some beer and bangers and mash before exploring the grounds of the parliament building, the famous Empress hotel and some local shops.

I’m so thankful that I was able to visit Alaska and to experience it with Holland America Line. I can most definitely see why they are noted as the leader in cruises to Alaska from the easy online check-in prior to sailing, the daily turndown, important information and port excursion recommendations being delivered directly to your stateroom daily, the entertainment and activities onboard and the EXCEPTIONAL service and dining. I hope you are able to experience Alaska for yourself one day and you come away as humbled as I am in the presence of such beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

 

More Than Just Mouse Ears in the Sunshine State

The following post is written by Lori from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

For 45 years, Boscov’s Travel has made it easy to get to the most magical place on earth with non-stop flights from select local airports (Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). A majority of our clients use this convenient way to travel and decide to spend the whole 7-days in Disney, but others – like my family and I – venture to other parts of the sunshine state. Below is an overview of our vacation, my recommendations on traveling with a 6- and 3-year old, what we loved about it and why we are already planning to do it again next year.


Non-stop flight from Lancaster Airport to Orlando, FL 

So much to do, but who can go to Florida without going to Disney?

After a relatively easy trip down to Florida (hop to CVS if you are traveling with anyone who doesn’t like the ear popping from the cabin air pressure and purchase Earplanes; I’m not sure they worked or were a placebo, but no complaints from my otherwise not so happy to fly son) we hopped in our rental car (ahem, van) and headed to Animal Kingdom for the day. Our FastPass+ for the day included:
1) Expedition Everest – my 6 year old son LOVED this ride! I was surprised because he is typically timid about trying new things, especially a roller coaster, but he was grinning from ear to ear after both times riding it. And how did he ride it two times back to back? Disney has genius people who work for them and developed a Rider Swap/Switch program…. “If a child does not meet the height requirement or a Guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem! With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again!” 3 guests are allowed back per rider switch pass which is how he got to ride it twice, lucky kid! Recommendation: A+
2) Kilimanjaro Safaris – bigger than all of Magic Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris is truly a unique experience every time. Highlights this time around included a baby giraffe and an aggressive ostrich. Recommendation: A+

Kilimanjaro Safaris

3) Dinosaur – noted as being dark, scary, loud and jerky… I would say those are 100% accurate statements. My adventurous 3-year old daughter (who is surprisingly tall for her age and met the height requirements) was excited to ride it, but noted “I didn’t like that ride at all,” at the end. My recommendation would be to not use a FastPass+ on this ride. If the standby wait is under 15 minutes and someone in your party really wants to try it, go for it. Otherwise, I’d say it’s a leave-it attraction. Recommendation: thumbs down

We also all went on Kali River Rapids (check the height requirements for little ones). While in the standby line, which was about 45 minutes, we ordered some counter service food from Harambe Market with the new mobile ordering feature offered on the My Disney Experience app. Having that extra time to look through the menu – especially with picky eaters – was super convenient. And not having to stand in the long lines that can form was icing on the cake (I didn’t get cake). And we got to fully enjoy Kali River Rapids. Both of my kids loved this ride and while you do get wet, it’s not terrible. We would have rode it twice, if our lunch wasn’t ready for us already!

Kali River Rapids

With loads of shows, attractions, rides, Animal Kingdom has grown into a park you can truly stay the whole day at and never truly see it all.

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 1) Gorgeous beaches

About a 2 hour drive from Orlando, Sarasota boasts diverse dining options, enriching arts and culture and last but certainly not least, the most beautiful white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters you typically find in the Caribbean. Plus, there is usually little to no waves, so the ocean becomes the biggest swimming pool and is always just the right temperature. We adore the beaches in Sarasota for free parking, free “admission” onto the beaches, concession stands that have delicious lunch options, playgrounds with shade and nice running paths for a pre-beach workout. Our go to beach is Lido Beach for all of the previous mentioned amenities, especially the lobster rolls at Lido Beach Restaurant.


Lido Beach, Sarasota

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 2) Myakka River State Park

Noted as being the “real Florida”, Myakka River State Park is full of wildflower cover prairies, wild wetlands and gorgeous pinelands. The majestic Myakka River flows though 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. I would recommend first time visitors to stop at the Visitor Center to learn about all the park has to offer including hiking, biking, camping, boat tours and more. The park rangers at the Visitor Center are very knowledgeable about the park and debunked the tale if an alligator is chasing you, run in a zip-zag pattern (do this and they’ll just get to you quicker as they can do short spurts up to 30mph). We enjoyed driving around the park, exploring and stopping at all of the “alligator sighting” spots. Although the highlight of the day was the canopy walk. “Completed in 2000, this structure is the first public treetop trail in North America. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy. The taller tower soars 74 feet in the air to present a spectacular view of treetops, wetlands, and the prairie/hammock interface. You can look down on eagles, hawks, vultures, and the tops of Live Oak and Sabal Palm trees.” Florida State Park site. 

Canopy walkway, Myakka State Park

Hammock Canopy, Myakka State Park

A pre-packed picnic lunch by the lake, enjoying the beauty of wildflowers blooming, some shopping at the gift shop and more adventures to see alligators ended our day at Myakka State Park. A definite must see in Southwest Florida.

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 3) Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Mixed reviews had us going into this adventure with little expectations, but it ended up being one of our favorite activities for both the kids and adults alike. Activities include: feed a flamingo, hold a parrot, attend a variety of wildlife shows, feed an alligator and more. The highlights of the day were obviously feeding the flamingos and holding parrots, seen below.

 

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 4) Miscellaneous

Along with everything mentioned above, Sarasota offers unique shopping and dining in St. Armands Circle, boat tours, – or if you are more adventurous – boat rentals, miniature golf, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey museum, beautiful botanical Gardens, aquariums, famous sights and landmarks including the Unconditional Surrender Sculpture and so much more.

If you are looking for for a well-rounded vacation with tropical vibes all while still staying in the US, I’d highly recommend Sarasota for all the area has to offer. And most importantly, traveling the Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania made getting to Florida super convenient and stress free, a service in which only Boscov’s Travel can provide on the Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Orlando. To learn more about this feature (non-stop flights from select local airports: Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), contact your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist or call 800-755-8020.

If you’re ready to start planning your Florida getaway, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com