Recently one of our Boscov’s Travel Advisors took a trip to Costa Mujeres, Mexico. Read her incredible experience below.
We travel to Mexico two times a year and stay at different resorts each time. We enjoy the beautiful sand, drinks, and food – it’s a great place to go! In the past some of our favorite hotels that we have stayed at are RIU Palace Costa Mujeres, Hard Rock Riveria Maya, Sun Palace and Blue Bay Esmeralda. This April 2022 we stayed at the RIU Dunamar, Costa Mujeres, and all-inclusive beachfront and kid friendly resort. We loved it!
This resort is across the bay on the mainland, just north of Cancun. The beauty is its location. This area feels calm and secluded, but is just thirty minutes away from Cancun’s bustling restaurants and nightlife. Isla Mujeres is visible from the resorts in this area.
Some of the best parts of our trips to Mexico is the all-inclusive amenities! RIU Dunamar offers four specialty dinner restaurants, a lunchtime poolside barbecue grill, six bars, including a 24-hour bar with snacks, and two swim-up bars. I would highly recommend this resort to families because of the Splash Water Park, RIU Land Kids’ Club and poolside activities during the day which are geared towards families.
When staying in Mexico there is a lot you can do with many excursion options to choose from if you want to stray away from your resort. Every time we take our vacation, we take a day trip from our resort to explore the area. On this trip we took a three-hour snorkeling excursion that picked us up at our resort to visit a coral reef, the MUSA statues which are made of material for coral to grow on, a shipwreck and underwater cenotes. The entirety of the excursion was beautiful, fun and educational. Afterward, we visited El Meco which is a small archaeological Mayan Ruins site, which was stunning.
The Mayan Ruins have eighteen structures located off the beaten path to the North of Cancun en route to Costa Mujeres near the Puerto Juarez ferry dock. It has the tallest pyramid on the Northeast Yucatan Peninsula. From the top of the Castillo Ruins one can see the Caribbean Sea, all of Cancun’s lagoons, and Isla Mujeres. I highly recommend visiting some of the Mayan Ruins on a vacation to Mexico.
Obviously, we love vacationing in Mexico and I highly recommend going at least once. Cancun, Rivera Maya and Costa Mujeres are all great vacation spots for singles, couples and families. Since I have a wide range of knowledge on the area, and with all the lodging options and areas to stay in, it is important that I qualify my clients to fit them with the right resort for what they expect on their vacations. Your local Boscov’s Travel Advisor is ready to help you find the perfect fit for your next vacation in Mexico and beyond. Contact us today!
The following post was written by Ken, Branch Manager at our Camp Hill location and is a review of his recent experience onboard Disney Cruise Line’s Dream and the ports of call.
Almost 25 years had passed since I last sailed on Disney Cruise Line. It was both Disney Cruise Lines’ first year and their first ship, the Disney Magic. Walt Disney World was still celebrating their 25th anniversary. Fast forward to October 2021 – my wife and I took our second Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream. This was also our first post-pandemic cruise and I was quite ready to have a change of scenery and take a “real trip.”
I knew that travel during COVID times was going to be a little different. After spending a couple days at Walt Disney World (this time celebrating 50 years), we headed over to Port Canaveral to prepare to board the ship. The protocol was to be vaccinated and take a pre-cruise rapid-antigen test at the pier. Disney very efficiently administered the testing and within 40 minutes we were notified on their Disney Cruise Line Navigator app that we were cleared to board.
At that time we were required to wear masks in indoor public spaces on the ship, but this requirement has since been lifted. The word on the pier was that there were about 1,500 passengers onboard a ship holding up to 4,000. The lack of people onboard certainly made it easy to space people out. In the theatre we were seated at least one row and three seats away from any other passengers. We were even encouraged to only share the elevators with those you were traveling with.
Our 4-night sailing was both a special Halloween-themed voyage and a double visit to Castaway Cay, DCL’s private island in the Bahamas. The Dream was decked out in fall decorations and the lobby’s centerpiece was a spooky pumpkin tree (which became the backdrop of many photos). Guests and crew really went all out for Halloween. Costumes were encouraged on several evenings and guests really got into the spirit. The costumes were mostly homemade and either Disney-themed or pirates. It seemed like the entire ship dressed up for “Pirate Night,” including the dining room staff and all the Disney characters. Pirate Night culminated with everyone out on deck for DCL’s exclusive “fireworks at sea” show.
Throughout the cruise we gladly lined up to have our photos taken with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and so on. Sometimes this was in the lobby, other times it was up by the pool on Castaway Cay. We mostly used the adults-only pool deck area; but, since there were hardly any lines, we happily rode the AquaDuck Water Coaster numerous times. This was a Disney Cruise after all, where Disney music plays throughout the ship (except in the adults-only areas) and Disney movies are on the big (make that HUGE) screen out by the pool. We were happy to revert back to being kids for a few days when appropriate.
We kept track of all the happenings on the Disney app on our phone which included our “rotational dining” throughout the ship, plus all the various entertainment. I remembered “rotating” through the various dining rooms on our first Disney cruise and how the wait staff remains with you. The big “wow” show was their Broadway style version of “Beauty and the Beast.” It was extremely well done. Other smaller venues offered singers or music throughout the ship.
The highlight during the day was our TWO visits to the beautiful Castaway Cay. We took the shuttle to the adult beach, Serenity Bay at the far end of the island. The water here was crystal clear and very calm. You didn’t really have to leave the adults area as it had it’s own bar and a fantastic buffet/grill area.
I still dream about tropical Castaway Cay and the amazing Disney Dream. I just hope we don’t wait another 25 years to go again!
New and exciting things are coming to Boscov’s Travel! We’re thrilled for the grand opening of our Virtual Travel Office in Niles, Ohio on October 7, 2021. The virtual office is located near the courtesy desk within the all-new Niles, Ohio Boscov’s in the Eastwood Mall. The office has a touch-screen kiosk with a webcam and microphone that clients can use to live video chat with our Boscov’s Travel Advisors along with a printer to receive documents. In addition to live chats, clients can use the touch-screen capabilities to learn more About Us, Meet Our Advisors, and check out some details on different vacation options in the “Wanna Get Away?” section. Here you can also learn about our full services including leisure travel, wedding/honeymoon travel, group travel and business travel.
We are very excited to kick off our first ever Virtual Travel Office! To celebrate, we will be having a month-long company-wide Grand Opening Sale with exclusive travel bonus deals from many of our top preferred travel partners. Visit boscovstravel.com/niles for these awesome deals. We can’t wait to serve our new clients in Niles, Ohio.
Do you ever look back through your photos after traveling and wonder why your photo doesn’t do justice for where you traveled to? I do. As I scroll through my image library, I tend to be disappointed as my photos look bland. What happened to that beautiful landscape, that smiling local, and that delicious meal? These places brought more to the table than what my photographs show and I want to be able to share that experience through my photos – for viewers to feel the excitement, smell the atmosphere, and taste the food. The only way to share these experiences in this way is to learn how to take the perfect travel photo, which is exactly what I did. Now it’s your turn!
To take the perfect travel photo we should know more about the place we are going, right? Yes! This means you’ll need to research the location you are traveling to. Search landmarks, architecture, areas of natural beauty, events, and anything else you may want to see and take pictures of. Make a list and prioritize what you want to see. You might want to find out when the sun rises and sets at the place you’re going to for the best lighting and even look up how to say words like “hello,” “smile,” and “thank you” so you can take pictures of locals.
The first thing may seem obvious to start off with, but you want to make sure your camera and/or phone battery is charged – you can always bring a backup battery or portable charger. Another must do is to make sure there is plenty of storage on your device. You want to be able to take as many photos as you want and not run out of space. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with your camera and/or phone settings. This is so you can change your settings when you need to and you’ll be ready to go! Now it’s time to divulge into the good stuff – lets take a look at lighting and contrast, Rule of Thirds, focal point, frames, and angles.
Lighting and Contrast
When taking the perfect travel photo you definitely want to know how to work with lighting and contrast. Working with light takes some getting used to. When you take a photo you will always want the sun to be behind you so your subject is illuminated from the front. If the sun is not behind you, the photo will not be well lit. If you are stuck with direct sunlight, use your camera’s daylight mode. This will adjust the intensity and color temperature so your photo will look fantastic! If you want to manually adjust the color temperature, you can play around with the white balance and color temperature settings on your camera to find the optimal lighting for the photo you’re about to take. If you’re out and about at night, make sure you put your camera’s low light settings on and use flash. This will help warm up colors and help your night time photo look great. It’s very important to know your camera’s settings before heading on your trip so you can effectively change your lighting settings when you need it.
Contrast is a distinguishable difference between objects. You can play with colors to find contrast – think of the color wheel and use opposites when finding colors to contrast in your photo. Contrast can be used with patterns, clouds, and shapes too. When you look around the area where you want to capture your photo, think of contrast and it will help your image pop!
Rule of Thirds
When taking a photo you’ll want to break your photo into three equal parts horizontally and vertically. Some camera settings allow you to place a grid on the screen which will make this process easier for you. Next, you’ll want to find three elements that you want to focus on in your photo. For example, let’s say your three elements are a rock, a mountain, and a plant. You’ll want to place these three elements on three different sections of your gridlines – this will draw your viewers’ eyes to subjects in the photo. Now that you understand the Rule of Thirds you can change up your focal point!
The focal point is what you want image viewers to focus on. If you have a travel companion, put them in your photo as a subject and if you’re solo traveling, look for a subject. You’ll want to look for the small details to find your subject – the quirky, colorful and cultural details. For example, if you want to take a photo of a mountain or anything larger than life, you’ll want to show your viewers how big the main subject actually is. To do this, place a smaller subject in the distance which will show the perspective of how large the bigger subject (the mountain) is. Line the mountain or object in the back with the smaller parts in view. Your viewers will see your photograph and say “wow” just like you did when you were standing there in person. The focal point is just one way to show off your awesome trip.
Another way to take a perfect travel photo is by framing. Framing draws focus to a subject in the photo which can be done in multiple ways. The first way you can frame a subject is by putting one subject clear into focus and blur the background. Your camera will have a setting to be able to do this. On a phone, setting will be called “portrait mode.” A second way to frame is by using leading lines. Leading lines are roads, lines, or anything else that draws a line(s) to the main subject. Using leading lines sends the viewer of the image deeper into the photo. The last way to use frames is by using other objects to frame your main subject to keep the focal point obvious. You can do this by having your subject between doors, windows, trees, branches or anything else you can find that will frame your subject. This will allow your subject to be the focal point, but also adds texture to your photo. Give framing a try, I guarantee you’ll love the results.
Have you ever seen a photographer climbing walls or lying on the ground? Try it! Angles are important to play around with when taking a photo because doing so gives you unique shots and changes up your viewpoint. Changing up a view point in a photo shows a perspective that people normally don’t see, like a view from the ground. Angles are an important part in capturing the perfect travel photo.
Tell A Story
Lastly, tell your travel story! If you want to take a photo, think about what you want to bring to life in your shot. What thoughts, feelings, smell, and emotions do you want your viewers to feel? They say a picture is worth a thousand words – this is so true! Knowing what you want to bring to life will help you acknowledge what you really want to capture and help you tell your story. Try getting up early or staying up late to take the images that most people wouldn’t. Tourist spots won’t be as crowded and you’ll even get the golden hour glow – it’s worth trying!
Another way to tell a story is to get lost on purpose. Take the road less traveled, but first make sure to ask locals that where you’re headed is safe. Wonder around for the day, see what you find. I guarantee you’ll find authentic places and more locals. Locals tend to stay away from tourist areas so if you’re off the beaten path, you’ll have an opportunity to photograph the culture of your travel spot! This is why I mentioned to learn how to say a few words so you can ask locals to take their picture to capture their emotions and day. Bring the entire trip to life in any way possible and tell your story.
Now that you have the techniques to take a perfect travel photo, it’s time to head to a destination! When you look back through your photos after traveling, you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been before looking through your photos. As you scroll through your image library you may find yourself proud because your photos give your experience justice. Your viewers will not only see the beautiful sites but they’ll be able to feel the emotions, smell the smells, and even taste the food through your photos. You’ll have the perfect travel photos and they will definitely be worth a thousand words.
People say traveling alone can really make a person grow. That all is great and sounds fun, but right away a fear sets in for me because I’m going to be alone! Is it safe to travel alone? Who will I talk to? All these questions run through my head. But so do the thoughts of “I can do whatever I want, when I want!” It gets me thinking what places are great to travel to if you are a solo traveler. This blog maps out what we think are the best places and best types of travel for people when traveling alone.
So, let’s get into what places we think are great destinations for you to travel to if you’re wanting a solo trip.
Iceland – This is on the top of our list and a bucket list destination. Iceland has a very low rate of crime, and is also considered one of the safest places to visit in the world! They have a strong sense of community and really look out for one another, even visitors. With the best scenic views around and voted #1 on the Global Peace Index you will feel confident to travel solo here.
Portugal – Portugal is another great country to visit, and is becoming a popular travel destination because of its beautiful scenery. We like to call this the hidden gem of Europe because you get the scenic views, the beaches, the historical monuments, and so much more but for some reason, people never make this a first choice to visit which keeps the tourist population low. Portugal is actually ranked as the 3rd safest country in the world. What is better than feeling safe while looking at picturesque views?
Canada – It’s fairly common to have solo travelers in Canada actually! Easy to navigate and friendly citizens you cannot go wrong in this scenic country. Canadians are known to be extremely nice and amazing people and are always willing to give tips to tourists. If you’re a fan of nature and a fan of solo travel, this is the country for you!
Cruising – Cruises are nice in the sense that you can do whatever you’re comfortable with. If you feel most comfortable sitting by the pool, so be it! If you want to hit the casino, go ahead! Also, when you get to ports you can decide to get off and explore or not. Even then, there so many group excursions through the cruise lines, you have the option to stay with people that are part of the cruise. Another great thing about cruises? That all-inclusive price!
Hawaii – When you think of Hawaii you just think of relaxation and that’s exactly what it is! Big things to do in Hawaii are hiking and snorkeling but we do not suggest doing this alone. Don’t worry though! If Hawaii is on your bucket list, think about joining a group tour, so you are not completely alone. Another reason this is a great place to travel to? You feel like you left the country but you do not need a passport to visit the beautiful islands of Hawaii! Speaking of islands, when traveling alone everything is up to you! So, here’s a tip — try island hopping to visit different Islands and experience different things. Again, with this safe destination you would be able to achieve this and feel comfortable.
At the end of the day, trust your gut but we think you would enjoy these places solo! Obviously when you travel you want to make sure you are safe because no matter how safe you feel, you should always be aware of your surroundings. You are in unfamiliar territory all by yourself. Just remember when traveling, you should spend the time and research the area before you go, and keep always in touch with family and friends. Best of all, ENJOY your vacation!
Is it time to plan your SOLO trip? Visit our destinations page to start planning!
As we begin to see light at the end of this pandemic tunnel we have all been in, we thought it would be fun to share some our Boscov’s Travel Advisors’ favorite destinations. We hope some of these spots and best things to see and do will give you ideas for your first “out of the pandemic” vacation plans.
Danube River Cruise
Of all the places in the world, actually 2 of our advisors – Amy Bressler of our Camp Hill office and Kelly Burton from the Neshaminy office – selected an AmaWaterways river cruise from Vilshofen, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. Amy loved how up close and personal you stayed when cruising the river, and Kelly enjoyed the varied shore excursion options at each port town. From biking along the river, hiking up to a medieval castle or sampling wines at local vineyards, it was a beautiful trip. While they did not travel together, they both have a common favorite part – touring Salzburg, Austria! As fans of “Sound of Music”, seeing many of the filming sights was a bucket-list experience.
Exotic Tanzania Tour
Sue Blum of our Reading-East office has logged 16 trips to the African continent, so her choice is no surprise. After befriending and entrusting one of her guides from earlier trips, he hosted her in a very remote, authentic safari camp in southern Tanzania. She experienced hippos, crocodiles, zebras, antelopes, right by the camp that was set up amongst huge palm trees on a ridge overlooking the savannah. While remote, accommodations had every luxury in mind – private tents with mesh screening, comfortable bedding, canvas washstand areas, bucket showers and beautiful lantern-lit paths to the common dining area for cold beverages and gourmet foods. Time out in the savannah got her up close to lions and ostrich families, and experiencing the Great Migration of the Wildebeest herds. Truly a sight to see.
If you like sand and sun, then Erica Putt of our Lancaster office recommends a Bermuda cruise. The cruise is so relaxing, and once in port, there are so many activities for every interest. She mostly enjoys getting a transportation pass and exploring the island. Immersing yourself in the culture through history and cuisine is wonderful, and the locals are so friendly and happy to have you visit their beautiful island.
Banff National Park – Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada
When you’re headed into the Canadian Rockies, be sure to visit Banff National Park and treat yourself to a stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. According to Michelle Tymon in our Easton office, the sunrise canoe excursion on Lake Louise is well worth the early hour. And she is NOT a morning person! The colors are spectacular, and the rhythmic sound of the paddle cutting through the water make you instantly relax and immerse yourself in the awesome and majestic views. Once you’ve worked up an appetite paddling, you can enjoy an amazing breakfast at the Fairview Bar & Restaurant. The service and hospitality at the Fairmont Lake Louise will not disappoint.
Newport, Rhode Island
Not every getaway needs to be far away. Just ask Larissa Hayward of our Easton office. She fell in love with Newport, Rhode Island, with its lovely beaches, stunning architecture and great shopping and dining. If you love historical architecture, be sure to tour some of the “summer cottages” aka mansions like the Breakers and the Marble House. Her favorite was the Doris Duke Rough Point Mansion, which showcased the dedicated patron of the arts love for the finer things. Rough Point is filled with a truly unique collection of artwork and fine décor. You can get great views of these cottages from a leisurely stroll along the Cliff Walk too.
The French Riviera
Paula Heyman of our Moorestown, NJ office likes to say in one place, but still get to experience a number of different areas, and that’s just what she found in the French Riviera. There are so many places close by. She chose Monaco as home base for a single unpacking, but got to see some amazing nearby destinations like Nice, Menton, Eze, La Turbie and St. Tropez in France, as well as San Remo, Italy. It’s just a perfect spot for sight-seeing and as the playground for some of the rich-and-famous, has great people-watching.
Don’t let this fun-in-the-sun destination fool you. Randy Laub of our Lebanon office says that while Aruba is known for great resorts, superb beaches, friendly people and excellent food and night life, you need to get off the beaten path. Try exploring the battered coast in a Jeep, following the trails made after years of Jeep exploration. But don’t go rogue off the trails…the cliffs can get you! This truly is “One Happy Island!”
Tracee Eroh of our Selinsgrove office suggests a visit to Switzerland to experience a whole other part of our world. The scenery is gorgeous. One of the best ways to see and do the area is to rent motorized bicycles and ride through the countryside visiting quaint little towns, seeing breathtaking waterfalls. Stop off in Gruyere, home of some of the best cheeses named after this town. More of a traditional swiss cheese fan? Then Emmental is the one for you. Enjoy some of the best cheese fondue you can imagine. Around here cheese is for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Be sure to do some shopping for some traditional swiss finds like cuckoo clocks, watches and knives.
Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
If you know Dori, you know she’s always up for an adventure! Her cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean had her trekking to semi-active volcanos, riding a pirate ship around the island, swimming in hot springs, riding mules to the top of Santorini and taking the tram back down, walking through the streets surrounded by white-washed buildings with beautiful blue doors and roofs. The smells of sambuca and olive oil overtake your senses – it’s breathtakingly beautiful. On the other side of the island, she visited Vlichada Beach which is a bit pebbly so bring along some water shoes. Amazing that 15,500 people live on this volcanic caldera. It’s a trip of a lifetime!
Susie Roth is one of our remote advisors, and recommends a trip to Hawaii to explore all the natural wonders of this island chain. While it seems like an exotic foreign destination, it’s still part of the U.S., making travel easy and safe. There is so much to see and do from adventurous outdoor and nature activities to relaxing resorts with some of the world’s best beaches. Every island is unique and offers something for everyone. You can’t beat the scenery, weather, culture and friendly people. Larissa of Easton also loved Maui, and recommends a road trip to Hana to hike to a waterfall, a drive out to see Kahakuloa Head in western Maui, as well as a bike ride down from Haleakala Crater, with spectacular views of the islands and Pacific Ocean from this highest point in Maui.
These are just some of the great places you can explore when you are ready to travel again. Our travel advisors have many miles and trips under their belts, and are happy to “talk travel” and inspire your next getaway. Meet our Advisors to learn more about their travel experiences.
We want to offer up some inspirational options for when the time comes that we can all ‘B’ Together again.
Multi-generational family vacations can produce happiness long after your vacation is over. You’ll create and cherish memories for a lifetime, which will become stories for generations to come. These popular vacations not only will bring a family closer together, but it is also one of the top vacation plans we are asked about. Whether you come from a huge family or a smaller but tight knit family, multi-generation vacations can be some of the best vacations of your life! Here, we suggest some destinations that will fulfill everyone’s interests.
Walt Disney World
Being huge Walt Disney World fans, this is one of our favorite multi-generational vacations. The cast and crew at Disney really do bring the magic when it comes to vacations, for both kids and adults alike. They help everyone and anyone when it comes to situations and experiences. From going with grandparents, to aunts, uncles, and cousins, you really have so much to do here! The food, the atmosphere, the memories! Once Disney opens again, this….is the place to be for some true magic for the young and the young-at-heart.
A Beach in the States (Florida or California)
This suggestion is nice if you want something relaxing but maybe you do not have a lot of vacation time from work — or a passport. The beaches in Florida and California are beautiful, so you can’t go wrong here! What’s nice about this vacation option is when seeking accommodations, you can get your own space as individual family units and everyone can meet up during the day. Mealtime can also be fun, with each family unit taking turns hosting dinners for everyone. This option is such a fun vacation, and for some, only a short drive or plane ride away.
Mexico and the Caribbean
Looking for something more tropical and exotic? Our recommendation would be to stay at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or an island in the Caribbean once these areas open up again. The benefit of an all-inclusive resort is that they are budget friendly since you pay for everything ahead of time. There are any number of locations for any budget and you won’t have to argue about whose turn it is to pay for dinner, drinks or experiences! This option is also great for families who want full-on relaxation 24/7. Sit by the beach, eat, and drink whatever and whenever you want and everyone can make their own schedules. You cannot really go wrong here.
If members of your family are full of adventure and are seeking that once-in-a-lifetime vacation, Europe is top of the list. While this trip will require a lot of planning once Europe destinations are active again, our Travel Advisors can help you plan every detail. Maybe you want to head back to your family roots and learn more about your family heritage.
Similar to an all-inclusive, cruising offers just a little more movement when it comes to relaxing. While operations are paused right now, cruises offer options to have exciting excursions added-on at each destination you visit making it more of an “adventure” vacation. This vacation option might be the easiest one for families of all different age groups when it comes to “things to do”. The kids will never go bored with all the planned activities on board while the adults enjoy wine tasting, adult-only areas of the ship, casinos, entertainment shows, and much more! Plus, it could be a great compromise if some in your family want an all-inclusive experience and others want to cruise, this option can give you both.
With so many vacation options available, we hope this helps you determine the best destination or type of vacation that works best for your multi-generational family when the time is right. If you need help planning or have any questions, our expert Travel Advisors are available to assist plan your perfect family getaway.