My Personal Experience Onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Brand-New Ship the Viva: Q&A Edition

In November 2023, one of our Boscov’s Travel employees went on an inaugural cruise onboard the brand-new Norwegian Viva! Read her incredible experience below:

Norwegian Viva

Q: Was this your first time sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line? – A: No, this was not my first time sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line. I have sailed about six times with them!

Q: Where did you sail to and from? – A: The ship sailed round trip from Miami, Florida to Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

View of Miami from Norwegian Viva

Q: What stateroom did you stay in? – A: I had a wonderful and cozy balcony stateroom.

Q: What did you love most about the ship? – A: What I loved most about the ship was actually the décor! From the colors and all – it was extremely warm and welcoming.

Q: What surprised you most about the ship? – A: The layout of the ship surprised me the most! It was very different than any other class of Norwegian ships that I’ve been on. The new design is a ‘smart design’ allowing for all the fun to be right in the middle of the ship.

The Atrium

Q: What was your favorite entertainment onboard? – A: My favorite entertainment was definitely the Improv at Sea shows. They were hilarious and I laughed all night. I also played a game in the comedy club with other passengers one day and we all had a great time!

Q: What was your favorite restaurant onboard? – A: I enjoyed Hudson’s Dining Room the most. The design was stunning with floor to ceiling windows and great food. One of the times I ate there, I had the Beef Wellington and it was so tasty and savory. I did not have a meal I didn’t like!

Q: Did you enjoy the Indulge Food Hall concept? – A: I really liked the concept of Indulge Food Hall and have never eaten somewhere like it before. Indulge is an eat around the world concept all in one place. I tried a good bit of the food there and it was delicious! Another neat thing about Indulge is there is not much of a wait time. It felt as if my food was fresh and on the table right after I ordered it!

Indulge Food Hall

Indulge Food Hall Outdoor Dining

Q: What was your favorite bar onboard? – A: My absolute favorite bar onboard was the Observation Lounge. I loved the décor there especially and the views! Plus, the drinks were fantastic.

Q: What activities did you do onboard and which was your favorite? – A: I tried out the Viva Speedway (sooo fun!), spent time at the pools and bars, and also played the game at the Improv at Sea as I mentioned. If I have to pick a favorite onboard activity, it would definitely be the Viva Speedway. There were beautiful views of the ocean and it was so fun to zip around three levels of track!

Pool Deck

Infinity Pool

Waves Pool Bar

Q: What did you think of the Oceanwalk? – A: The Oceanwalk was pretty neat with how you are able to walk on the glass above the ocean!

Q: Was there anything on the ship you’ve never seen before? – A: There was much on the ship I have never seen before from the Indulge Food Hall, the Viva Speedway and the layout. This ship was so neat and fun!

Q: You mentioned you sailed to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. What do you want to share about the port? – A: Great Stirrup Cay is a port where the ship tenders. So once on the island, I had a great time and the weather was beautiful. I was able to take a behind the scenes tour, spend time at the beach, ate and explored the island. The beaches were extremely beautiful, and there were many activities/excursions including ziplining, wave runner tours, shopping, eating, relaxing and more. As the island is private, there were no locals haggling at the beaches which was very nice. Great Stirrup Cay is truly a relaxing port to visit!

Great Stirrup Cay Beach Entrance

Great Stirrup Cay Beach

Jumbey Beach Grill

Great Stirrup Cay Ziplining

Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse

Q: Did you go on any excursions? – A: Yes! I was fortunate enough to go on a behind the scenes tour of Great Stirrup Cay which showed us where the employees (who actually live on the island) stay, what they can do when they’re off work, where they shop, and more!

Great Stirrup Cay Behind the Scenes Tour Entrance

Great Stirrup Cay Behind the Scenes Tour Employee Housing

Q: Is there anything else we did not discuss that you would like to mention? – A: The staff onboard the Viva and at Great Stirrup Cay were all very friendly and helpful. They made the cruise even more enjoyable than it already was!

Q: What do you recommend to anyone sailing on the Viva? – A: Definitely, it’s a nice ship whether you’re going for the ship itself or the itinerary.

Q: Would you sail on the Viva again? – A: Yes! Of course.

Does this incredible experience incline you to sail on the Norwegian Viva? Your local Boscov’s Travel Advisor is ready to assist you in planning whenever you’re ready! Contact your local Boscov’s Travel or call 800-755-8020 or visit https://www.boscovstravel.com/cruises/norwegian/index.html to learn more.

 

My personal experience at the ALG Vacations’ Ascend 2023 Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Recently, one of our Boscov’s Travel Advisors attended the ALG Vacations’ Ascend 2023 conference where she took daily classes, toured resorts and learned information and vacation ideas to bring back to YOU, our valued clients!

Ascend 2023 Conference

This fall 2023, I had the pleasure of attending an exclusive event hosted in Cancun, Mexico.  Ascend 2023 is an invite only, Travel Advisor event presented by ALG Vacations. The event exceeded and went way beyond all my expectations! ALG Vacations blew me away with all of the branding, participants in the gigantic trade show, guest speakers, lectures, entertainment, and the 600+ professional travel agents that were invited. Everything was truly top of the line. During the conference, I attended lectures, classes, breakout sessions and saw resorts which allowed me to bring back first-hand knowledge to our clients. As a Boscov’s Travel Advisor, I am continuously looking to travel and learn about the destinations and attractions that I think our clients would love.

Royalton Chic Cancun

Junior Suite Oceanfront Double Room

View from Oceanfront Room

With that being said, during the conference Travel Advisors were placed at five different large resorts. I ended up staying at the beautiful Royalton Chic Cancun. The Royalton Chic Cancun was truly stunning and located in the heart of Cancun’s beautiful beaches! I’ve personally been to Cancun eleven times, but have never stayed in the hotel zone which is where this resort is located. Needless to say, I enjoyed it very much!

Beach

With nine dining options (delicious), multiple pools, large well-appointed rooms, and a staff that exceeded my expectations, the resort did not disappoint. There is a rooftop party pool with private cabanas and guest DJ’s accessible to guests and the public for a fee. The resort’s beaches were stunning with perfectly turquoise, warm water. A neat feature the resort has is a keyless entry ID bracelet for resort guests that made access to the room easy-peasy. On top of that, the entertainment team and nightly shows were engaging and fun. The resort truly was incredible!

Ascend 2023 Conference

I recommend the resort to anyone looking for an active resort filled with activities. The Royalton Chic Cancun truly has an energetic adult vibe with luxury features and amenities. If you’re considering a trip to Cancun, you can’t go wrong with staying there. With our wealth of knowledge, your local Boscov’s Travel Advisor can help you plan your next vacation to Mexico today. See you at the pool!

My personal experience at Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Recently one of our Boscov’s Travel Advisors took a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Read her incredible experience below.

We traveled to Iberostar Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica at the end of March to early April, 2023 for four nights. We enjoy the fun activities, entertainment, beaches and great views that Montego Bay has to offer.  The weather is beautiful as the temperatures in winter is around a high of 82 degrees and in the summer 87 degrees. The best part? The ocean water is 85 degrees all year round! It truly is a wonderful place to visit!

To make our trip as timely and efficient as possible, we booked a personal meet and greet service for our arrival at the Montego Bay Airport. This service brings someone directly to you to assist you through customs, immigrations, and baggage claim, then to your resort. And Iberostar Rose Hall is only a half hour away from the airport! We stayed in a room on the third floor with stunning partial views of the ocean and pool.

This resort was incredible with daily pool activities, nightly entertainment, stunning views, delicious food and so much more. One of the best parts of the trip is the all-inclusive amenities! Iberostar Rose Hall offers five restaurants and 6 bars, including a pool bar. There was no time wasted with all the great things to do on the property.

When staying in Montego Bay there is a lot you can do with many excursion options to choose from if you want to stray away from your resort. On this trip we took a two and a half hour Braco Stables Private Horseback Ride and Swim excursion. This excursion picked us up at our resort to visit the scenic sugar plantations and countryside, then to the shore to swim and go bareback riding with the horses on a beautiful private beach. I highly recommend this tour while visiting Montego Bay!

We really enjoy vacationing in Montego Bay and I highly recommend going at least once. Montego Bay is a stunning vacation spot for anyone. Since I have a wide range of knowledge on the area and of the resorts, it is important that I qualify my clients to fit them with the right resort and activities 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 Montego Bay,  Jamaica and beyond. Contact us today!

My experience on the BRAND-NEW Norwegian Prima

Recently one of our Boscov’s Travel employees took a cruise on the brand-new Norwegian Prima. Read her incredible experience below.

I’ll be honest with you the thought of cruising made me nervous, neither my boyfriend Matt nor I have gone on a cruise before. My grandparents and my coworkers have all raved about cruising, but I only vicariously lived through their experiences. I wasn’t sure if I ever planned on cruising, but when I was given the opportunity to go on the new Norwegian Prima, I thought ‘how could I possibly not take this incredible opportunity?’ Our cruise was an inaugural sailing on the BRAND NEW Norwegian Prima. The sailing was 4-nights to Halifax, Nova Scotia roundtrip from New York City, NY (no need to fly!).

The morning of our departure was seamless with transportation to the pier and the ease with being able to be dropped off right at the terminal (and right in front of the big and beautiful, Norwegian Prima). Our driver, which happened to be my mother, giggled, got out of the car and asked us to take her photo because that’s the closest she’s ever been to a cruise ship. It was hilarious, but as you can see, none of us have ever cruised before and this was a big deal. My boyfriend and I said our so-longs to her and we went into the terminal. Everybody in the terminal was so friendly and willing to help us navigate where to go and check in. The process was smooth and it only took us approximately ten minutes. We were given a keycard lanyard that would give us access to all things including our room and reservations. We actually found all of this easier and friendlier than the airport. I couldn’t believe I was actually about to step on to a cruise ship for the next five days.

As we walked onboard the Prima, I was amazed. The first area I saw was the atrium which felt like a five-star hotel – three stories tall with a bar on the main level, Starbucks on the next, and a whiskey bar at the top. ‘Am I really on a ship right now?’ I thought. We made our way to our room which was easy to navigate, but there were Norwegian workers to guide the way if assistance was needed. Our room was a balcony stateroom and it was absolutely stunning. The layout was much more spacious than I thought it would be, the bathroom was quaint, the balcony was cozy and the bed was comfy! I was even able to put on my makeup at our room’s makeup stand and hang all our formal attire up in the room’s closet.

Once we got settled in, we went onto the deck and took in the views of the Manhattan skyline and as we sailed away from port we waved to the Statue of Liberty and saw Ellis Island. The view was incredible with the sunset behind Lady Liberty. After this, we knew it was time to explore and make our reservations for dining and entertainment. We wanted to experience every single thing we could to get the most out of our first cruise – and that we did.

My onboard experiences

Dining

I cannot begin to tell you how delicious the food was on the Norwegian Prima. Some of our favorites include the Indulge Food Hall (complimentary), The Local Bar & Grill (complimentary), and Cagney’s Steakhouse (specialty). The nicest part about Norwegian Cruise Line is that there are no fixed dining times which means you can eat when you want, with who you want. I enjoyed this because Matt and I never eat at a consistent time – when we’re hungry we’re hungry, so this worked out well for us. We did have to make reservations for our included specialty dining which can be done on the NCL app.

Indulge Food Hall

AMAZING! In an onboard meeting, I learned that Indulge Food Hall is a new dining concept onboard and I truthfully would not want to go without it. You can literally dine around the world from Indian Food to Italian, Latin and more – don’t forget the incredible Coco’s desserts. There are eight dining options and the food hall is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went here at least once every day. The food choices are endless and I mean it – even if you went here every day for a week-long cruise, you could enjoy something different every single day.

When you order at Indulge, you use a screen to look at all your options and the waiters in your section of the food hall serve your orders and drinks. The staff were super kind and attentive. We even made a friend with our first-day waiter, Bhilly. After our first meeting, he was always ecstatic to see us – he asked us about our day, would recommend food, and just make sure we were having an overall great time. The waiters truly gave exceptional service and I hope to see Bhilly one day again on a cruise.

The Local Bar & Grill

The Local Bar & Grill was a dining option we figured would be more American food as it is a pub option so we waited to go there until our third day for lunch. Boy, were we glad we finally did. I had the fish sandwich the first day and I went back for another the next – that’s how delicious it was. Matt did the same, but with the chicken salad sandwich. All of our appetizers and drinks were perfect. I highly recommend the Local Bar & Grill.

Cagney’s Steakhouse

Apparently, a lot of people like Cagney’s Steakhouse and you can add us to that list. Matt really wanted to go here and we had one specialty dining package to use. For our inaugural sailing, specialty restaurants required reservations so our first day on board we snagged our Cagney’s reservation.

Matt and I ordered an abundance of food to try and there was not a single thing we didn’t enjoy. For starters we ordered the black tiger shrimp trio and the lobster bisque, which had big pieces of lobster in it. I’m getting hungry again just talking about it. For our entrees, I got filet mignon and Matt got the ribeye. Our waiter, Cloyd (fun side note, he said the way you remember his name is either Pink CLOYD or CLOYD Mayweather) came to our table with a box of knives to choose to use with our steaks. Cloyd explained what each knife was good for and what he recommended. Then our steaks came out and I have to tell you, I am not the biggest steak eater, but I’ve never had a better steak in my life. I crave Cagney’s filet mignon all the time now, that’s how good it was!

For our sides we took Bhilly from Indulge Food Hall’s recommendation of parmesan dusted truffle fries and Cloyd’s recommendation of potatoes au gratin, plus some broccoli. I can’t express enough how delicious our food was. For dessert we got the seven-layer chocolate cake and the “omg” caramel-butterscotch cheesecake, both were incredible. If you are a steak-lover or a good-food lover (who isn’t?), I am confident you will LOVE this specialty dining restaurant.

Side note on specialty dining: A few of my fellow coworkers tried out some of the other specialty restaurants including Le Bistro, Palomar, and Los Lobos. Everyone enjoyed their food and recommended their specific choice in specialty dining. I have a feeling you can’t go wrong with any of the specialty dining options.

Bars and Lounges

The bars and lounges on the Prima were so neat and diverse. I’ll touch on some of them.

Belvedere Bar

The Belvedere Bar was tucked away behind the casino. They had fun cocktails and the bartenders were very kind and informative to us as we were new to cruising. The Belvedere Bar was nice for a quiet cocktail during the day and a bit livelier with a small crowd in the evening.

Waves Pool Bar

We visited the Waves Pool Bar as we waited for the ship to sail. My favorite cocktail was the frozen Pina Colada. The drinks were delicious and it was nice to watch all the activity on deck.

Observation Lounge

The Observation Lounge is beautiful because its wide-open windows allow you a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean. We were here for two cocktail hours and the time spent was great and the bartenders were very attentive. My favorite part of this bar and lounge was definitely watching the moon come into view over the ocean as the sun went down.

Penrose Bar

The Penrose Bar is so fun and pretty as it is on the lowest level of the atrium. Plus, being in the atrium it’s a great place to people watch.  After one of the entertainment shows, we went there with a fellow colleague and her husband, had some drinks and listened to the live band. They were phenomenal! Every evening there was a band that played here so don’t miss out as they did not disappoint.

Starbucks

The good ole morning friend, Starbucks. There’s not much to say other than every morning my coffee was great and the lounge was cozy. Keep in mind, there’s a Starbucks in Indulge Food Hall if the line in the atrium Starbucks is too long.

Onboard Activities

The activities and entertainment on the Prima were top tier. From the games, slides, experiences and more, there was always something fun to do!

Prima Speedway

I have to tell you the Prima Speedway was so impressive. How can a three-level go-kart race track on top of a cruise ship not be impressive? This had to be one of the most fun activities on board. Zipping around a race track on top of a cruise ship at almost thirty miles per hour is loads of fun. The track had many turns, dips, and brought you up to the top where you could see amazing views of the ocean. All of us got at least fourteen laps in!

The Speedway also has an observation deck where you can shoot lasers at the go-karts in play to give them a speed boost. On the deck there is a winner’s circle where you can pose for a photo op and see the leader boards for your sailing. The Prima Speedway is great for anyone who likes to have fun, is adventurous and competitive. Even better, get off the track and turn the corner and you’ll be at the Speedway Bar for a drink. The Prima Speedway was incredible and you have to try it out at least once!

Tee Time

Mini-golf on a cruise ship, but not your usual mini-golf, this is an interactive course and tech-immersive! There are nine holes mapped out in a Vegas-style backdrop (out of this world). You will receive your golf ball that has technology in it so every time you place your ball on the green, it syncs up to the hole. The course knows it’s you, knows how many times you’ve hit your ball for par, and at the end you can even win a prize – including a free cruise!

The Bull’s Eye

The Bull’s Eye is your classic game of darts with a twist! The game has a video tracking system that automatically calculates each person’s score. There are multiple types of dart games you can play and the technology keeps your game light-hearted, but competitive. So fun!

The Stadium

The Stadium is a fun place to play it up with tabletop shuffleboard, pickleball, subsoccer (our favorite), beer pong and more! Some of these classic games even have a few twists. Matt and I found our competitive sides yet again, and had such a fun time testing out each game.

Galaxy Pavilion

If you enjoy virtual reality, top golf, and simulators – this is for you! The Galaxy Pavilion has a flying, interactive theater, a TopGolf “driving range,” racing simulators and more. The high-tech world of the Galaxy Pavilion is fun for everyone and I can tell you, we definitely had fun here.

The Drop

Intimidating? Kind of. Fun? YES! We stood on the top deck watching people free-fall down this 10-story slide and it was a bit nerve-wracking. I kept reminding myself that I sky-dived before so I could handle a slide. But this was a free-fall slide that went over the side of a ship. Oh well! We gave it a go and it was SUPER FUN! Once it’s your turn, you get in at the top of the slide and the Norwegian employee will explain how to lay for the ride. Then the door closes over, the countdown begins… woosh – The Drop! The slide was fun with turns and at one part there is a window section of the slide where you can see down to the ocean. If you can overcome the nerves – do try this, it’s worth it.

Pool Deck

While it was a bit to chilly for the pool, we did enjoy the pool deck on our first day since it was a bit warmer than the rest of the sailing. If you like to people-watch like I do, this is a great place for you. The pool deck is definitely the hub area for people to gather, hangout and lounge. The scenery of the ocean was stunning and the pool is fabulous. Don’t forget about the infinity hot tubs (super relaxing with stunning views) and waterslides or get a drink at Waves Pool Bar!

Oceanwalk and The Concourse

The Oceanwalk was beautiful and thrilling. Take a walk and you’ll be impressed as you’ll find the first glass walkway at sea! The ocean is right under your feet and the views are incredible! Right next to Oceanwalk is the The Concourse where beautiful interactive artwork is displayed. We took a lot of fun photos and videos here.

Casino

Casinos aren’t necessarily our thing, but it was really neat to see a full-running casino on the cruise chip. If you enjoy casinos, you’ll love this!

Mandara Spa & Thermal Suite

We decided we wanted to have a nice relaxing day here and we’re both glad we did. If you enjoy spas, you’re going to love this. We bought a day pass to the Mandara Spa & Thermal Suite which allowed us access to robes, towels, refreshments, and some of the spa’s neatest features including: the Vitality Pool & Salt Flotation Pool which has a multi-story waterfall, a relaxation area with hot stone loungers and a beautiful ocean view, a charcoal sauna, a Finnish sauna, an infrared sauna, a salt room, an ice room, a steam room, an experiential shower! The spa also offers massages, acupuncture, manicures/pedicures, facials and more. Plus, there is the Pulse Fitness Center attached to the spa for all to use. The fitness center also has panoramic views of the ocean too. The spa was definitely the place to unwind and feel good so do try it if you like that kind of thing!

Entertainment

I cannot say enough how incredible the onboard entertainment was. For each show you need to reserve your spot to the theater on the NCL app, but if you can’t get a reservation there’s no need to worry! Every night before the show begins you can join a standby que on the NCL app and if someone does not show up for their reservation ten minutes prior to showtime, you’ll get notified that you are able to go in to the show! So get there early and all you have to do is show your notification or reservation and you’ll be on your way to enjoy the entertainment. We were able to get into every show by doing this which was so worth it! Keep reading for our favorite entertainment on board.

Prima Theater turned Nightclub

To begin on the entertainment, the Prima Theater was spectacular because not only were there incredible shows, but it is the first venue in the world that transforms from a three-story theater to a spectacular Vegas-Style nightclub. We watched the theater transform in a matter of minutes. After the transformation, the seats were gone and the dance floor was open – AMAZING! Our favorite theme night at the nightclub was the 80’s Flashback night. The music, lights and vibes were all set as we danced the night away!

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

This Tony Award-nominated Broadway show did not disappoint. I thought it was spectacular. You’ll be immersed in Donna Summer’s incredible life journey all while singing along and dancing to the Disco Queen’s hits. Even though I was not alive during the disco era, I can tell you this Prima Theater show is incredible no matter your age!

The Price is Right Live

Yes, this is exactly what you think it is. The Price is Right brought right to the Prima Theater. Seriously, they brought the real traveling Price is Right Live replication right to the ship. When you arrive at the Prima Theater you will get your name tag and hope you are one of the lucky players to hear “come on down” to the stage to play. We weren’t called down, but the entire experience was super fun.

Syd Norman’s Pour House

At Syd Norman’s you’ll have drinks and sing along to your favorite rock hits. We had so much fun here that went more than one night. The house band was comical, fun, and interactive all while rocking out. It’s one of those things where I will say you have to see it for yourself.

The Improv At Sea

We went to both the family show and the late-night adult show, both of which were hilarious! We really were laughing the night away. Comedy at its finest.

Destination and Excursion – Peggy’s Cove, Halifax, Nova Scotia

I was actually fairly nervous to do an excursion as I did not know what to expect or how it worked. We made our reservations for the excursion on Norwegians website and were told to meet in the Prima Theater prior to our excursion start time. Once at the theater, Norwegian employees called the excursion names and when your excursion was called you met with your tour group. We met our group and followed our guide off of the ship. We immediately got into our excursion van and were on our way!

Our ship docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia and we chose the beautiful Peggy’s Cove and Arcadian Maple Syrup excursion. Throughout our ride to Peggy’s Cove our guide told us about the area and pointed out popular sites and attractions that we passed. When we finally arrived to Peggy’s Cove and fishing village, our guide explained what we could do and see as well as told us what time we needed to be back at the van. After that, we took off exploring the entire village. We viewed the lighthouse, tried a lobster roll (YUM), took photos, went into the fishing village shops and more. The area was stunning and if you ever go on a cruise to Canada, I highly recommend Peggy’s Cove!

Once it was time to meet back up with the group, we had a head count to make sure everyone was there and moved on to the Arcadian Maple Syrup store to taste the maple syrup and shop. After this stop we made our way back to the Prima. To get back on the ship all we had to do was scan ourselves in with our keycard lanyard and then be double-checked with facial recognition. Going on an excursion was much simpler and exciting than I expected it to be. I’m so glad we went on one!

I’ve officially filled you in on all of our favorite highlights and experiences from the Norwegian Prima inaugural sailing. The morning the ship arrived back in New York City, I was sad to leave. Thankfully, the process to unload was as easy as the process to board. The Norwegian crew announced on the ship’s overhead speakers when it was each group’s time to load off. We waited in a line and the process was simple to go through customs. Then we found my Mom in the pickup area and as soon as Matt and I got in her car we told her she needs to go on a cruise! We do hope to take her on one someday as she would absolutely love it.

Soooo…. To answer your question, yes, I would cruise again! And yes, the Norwegian Prima is really this incredible. I never thought that I’d be on a cruise ship, let alone something as magnificent as this. What I am going to leave you with is if you have the opportunity to go on the brand-new Norwegian Prima, do it! Explore everything you possibly can, relax and have fun! I really hope to go back on a cruise ship soon and by soon, I mean, like yesterday.

I recommend cruising on the Norwegian Prima as soon as you can, and with our wealth of knowledge, your local Boscov’s Travel Advisor can help you plan your next cruise too! Contact your local Boscov’s Travel or call 800-755-8020, boscovstravel.com.

My personal experience visiting Dreams Tulum for Dia de los Muertos

Last year one of our Boscov’s Travel Advisors took a trip to Tulum, Mexico for Dia de los Muertos. Read her incredible experience below.

I was fortunate enough to experience the celebration of Dia de los Muertos while visiting Tulum, Mexico.  Although celebrated around the same time of year, Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are not the same. Celebrated throughout Mexico and parts of Central America, Dia de los Muertos is a multi-day celebration of family and loved ones who have passed away. It honors their memory and helps to guide them on their journey to the afterlife. It is a celebration of life, and a reminder that all life is cyclical.

While celebrating Dia de los Muertos, I was able to see elaborate alters which are created out of flowers, seeds, paper banners, water and fire – the four elements – to provide the loved ones’ spirits with everything they need for their journey and to guide them on the right path.

While in Tulum I also visited the Temple of the God of Winds. Tulum is a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city that is on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean sea. It was a port city for the nearby ancient city of Coba whose ruins are also available for the public to visit.

We stayed at the Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, which was about a 10 minute cab ride from the ancient ruins, and the small town of Tulum where there are many shops for souvenirs and a number of lovely little cantinas to stop for a cervesa or two. The resort sits on an expansive white sand beach and has two pools including a heated relax pool and a heated activities pool plus a splash park for kids.

You’ll never be hungry or thirsty at this resort, with 6 a la carte, sit down, themed restaurants and a large international buffet to choose from. There are also 6 bars throughout the property and a smoothie bar for all of your drink desires.

We stayed in the Preferred Club section, which gives the guest upgraded status and amenities such as an upgraded, in-room minibar, a Preferred Club section on the beach with Bali beds and wait staff, and a concierge to arrange your reservations, excursions, and spa treatments. It also gives you access to the Preferred Club lounge that serves hot and cold hors d’oeuvres throughout the day, a sit down breakfast service, and top shelf international brand liquors.

When the sun goes down, the night heats up with many activities, entertainments and open bars with live music. One evening they had a complete Mariachi band perform and dance with the guests. Another evening they performed an elaborate stage show depicting Mayan culture and Dia de los Muertos that was wonderful. They had a Cirque du Soleir-like acrobatic performance over the pool with a fire and water theme that was equally enjoyable on another night. Needless to say, their entertainment team is top notch!

If you are considering a trip to Riviera Maya, you can’t go wrong with staying at Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa. While it is a little over an hour away from the airport, it is worth the trip. With our wealth of knowledge, your local Boscov’s Travel Advisor can help you plan your next vacation to Mexico too! Contact us today. See you on the beach!

My personal experience at RIU Dunamar Costa Mujeres, Mexico

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!

 

Niles Virtual Office – Grand Opening!

Boscov’s Travel Virtual Office Grand Opening

 

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.

A Week at the Excellence Playa Mujeres

The following post is written by Adam from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.  Adam recently vacationed at the Excellence Playa Mujeres, and shares his insight into the resort and his overall travel experience booked through Boscov’s Travel.

DSCN0145.JPGAfter spending a week in Mexico two years ago, my wife and I decided to spend our yearly vacation in the land of guacamole again this year. During our previous stay in at the Secrets Silversands resort in Mexico, we enjoyed the beach but it wasn’t ideal for going into the deep waters of the Caribbean. When deciding where to go this year, the beach had to be priority. After much research, discussion and competitive “the resort I found is better than yours” banter we decided on the Excellence Playa Mujeres. And by we, I mean her.

After the flight and breezing through customs we were picked up by AMStar Tours for our private transfer to the resort. The resort was about 20 minutes from the Cancun Airport. Our guide, Carlos, did a fantastic job of providing an update of the Cancun area since our previous visit. During the drop off at the resort, he also provided his contact information in case we needed to change our pick up time or schedule any excursions we wished to take with AMStar Tours.

If you are going to an all-inclusive in Mexico, I would highly suggest using AMStar for airport transfers from the airport to the resort. They are dedicated to providing world-class services and their team is staffed by nothing less than travel professionals. And besides, when you’re stepping into a private vehicle at the airport, it makes you feel like a celebrity. Treat yo self!

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After making it through the city, we finally arrived at the Excellence Playa Mujeres. As always, it’s nice to be greeted with a cold towel and “Complimentary champagne, Sir?” Once inside, it’s always a sight to behold at how large the lobby can be at an all-inclusive resort- three floors and decorated to the nines. After checking in, we were escorted to our room right away. This year we decided to splurge a little more on our room and stayed in a Terrace Suite with Plunge Pool.

This Terrace Suite offers an expansive (807 sq. ft.) private terrace with Plunge Pool, comfortable lounge furniture and an open-air shower. If you decide to spend a vacation at this Excellence resort, stay in this suite. It was nice waking up in the morning and being able to lounge or swim when the sun was coming up. Also, my wife and I would enjoy a cocktail before going down to dinner each evening.

Excellence offers gourmet dining in ten international restaurants and eleven bars; no reservations needed. All meals, unlimited beverages, snacks, and 24/7 room service are included, plus all of the restaurants feature healthy menus and vegetarian dishes.

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We ate at a majority of the restaurants for dinner, the only ones we didn’t eat at were Basmati (Indian), Spice (Asian), and the Flavor Market (Tapas). And the only reasons why we didn’t eat at those places was because we wanted to eat at Chez Isabelle (French) and Agave (Mexican) more than once. I really believe that the menus in the restaurants at the Excellence are designed so that you are able have an appetizer, a salad, the main course, and dessert, and leave satisfied. The meals are portioned well and never disappoint.

Lunch was another experience all together. The Excellence had your standard buffet for breakfast and lunch. In addition to that, the Lobster House and the Grill offered a la carte menus for lunch. But the one we visited the most was Las Olas. Las Olas is located on the beach and has a selection of fast food, salads, wood-oven pizzas, and grilled favorites. The main course they offered was different everyday. One day we ate Seafood Paella, which was prepared in a giant wok, and another day we had Jamaican Jerk Chicken. It was fresh and served buffet style. It was by far the best place to eat lunch.

During our stay in Cancun 2 years ago, we went on a snorkeling excursion that gave us the opportunity to swim with sea turtles. This excursion is no longer available because the sea turtles habitats are now protected, which is a great because it helps the species from becoming extinct. So this year we decided to buy our own snorkeling gear and bring it with us.

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The beach at the Excellence provided more than enough space and ocean for us to explore the waters. We snorkeled at least twice a day and saw Bluefin Trevally, Starfish, Batfish, Sea Turtles, and a Manta Ray. Because of our decision to buy snorkeling gear, we decided we didn’t need to leave the resort to experience an excursion. We also took advantage of the free water sports offered by the resort and took the Stand Up Paddle Boards into the Caribbean a handful of times.

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Overall, our stay at the Excellence Playa Mujeres was by far the best vacation at an all-inclusive we have ever had. The service of the staff, the accommodations, the food, and the overall experience exceeded our expectations and was nothing short of amazing.

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

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.

Travel Cheaper by Knowing When to Book: How to Get the Best Prices on Your Vacation


_0024_Melissa-Wentzel-SeamanThe following post features advice from Melissa at Boscov’s Travel within Boscov’s at Reading Mall. Melissa has been giving expert travel advice for the past 9 years with Boscov’s Travel and has almost three decades of experience in the industry (she was previously a flight attendant). She has the scoop on the best time to buy air tickets, when to book a cruise and how you can make the most of a European vacation. 

When should I book my honeymoon?
Sandals-Whitehouse-European-beach-coupleHoneymoons should be planned 6 to 9 months in advance of your wedding date. We offer a honeymoon registry which allows your guests to contribute to your honeymoon. Because vacations typically need to be paid in full at least 45-days in advance, we recommend that you plan your honeymoon early, then distribute the complimentary “Registered with” announcement cards with your engagement party and/or bridal shower.

How far in advance should I plan my destination wedding? 
Sunscapes-WeddingYou should plan at least a year in advance to secure the space you want, determine the officiant, decide if it will be a symbolic ceremony or nuptial service, and give friends and family ample time to book their trip. Some resorts allow you to book a few years in advance, so the sooner you choose the resort, the better. If air schedules have not yet been released, you can book your resort now and purchase flights at a later date. Luckily we have Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Specialists to help you to navigate every last detail.

How far in advance can I book a European vacation?

Prices for flights to Europe have been historically low in 2017. Summer is the peak for visiting Europe, so you can typically save a few dollars by booking in the late spring or early fall. Typically we recommend you book 9-months out from your departure date.

How far in advance should I book a river cruise?
Rhine_Cologne_Sunset_Twilight_014Because inventory is lower than other categories due to the small sizes of the ships that need to navigate the canals and rivers of Europe and beyond, we recommend that you book a year in advance to get the cabin and dates that you want.

How far in advance is airfare available to purchase? 
The major airlines typically release pricing 330 days in advance, but the prices are incredibly volatile. If you’re not booking for a flight near a major holiday, we recommend that you book 6 to 9-months out from your departure date. Flight prices are relatively high when they are released, then drop around the 6 to 9-month range.
If you’re planning on traveling around a holiday, expect to pay 2 to 4 times the normal rate. Demand is high during these periods as students and families typically travel during national holidays. In this case, book your trip as soon as you can.

Southwest Airlines is the exception. They release their rates in increments. Right now in April 2017, they have dates available to book 7-months out, or the beginning of November.

How early can I plan a Walt Disney World vacation?
Disney-Mine-TrainTravelers typically book Walt Disney World 6 to 9-months in advance. As of the beginning of April 2017, rates for tickets and resorts at Walt Disney World for 2018 were not yet available. There are a few options for booking Walt Disney World vacations with with us due to our Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Walt Disney World package.  If you are just booking a Walt Disney Travel Company land package (meaning tickets and resorts), you can book in the 6 to 9-month time frame then call us to see if you can take advantage of a future sale or offer through Walt Disney Travel Company.

How early should I look into booking an all-inclusive resort?
Beaches-Turks-&-Caicos-poolWe recommend booking an all-inclusive resort 6 to 9-months from your departure date. It’s also the ideal time to book air, so we can help you purchase it as a package with transfers from the airport to the resort.

How far in advance should I book an ocean cruise like Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, or MSC Cruises? 

Booking opportunities typically become available more than a year in advance. The average lead time is 6 to 9-months for booking a cruise. You may be able to get a good last minute deal if you’re flexible with the accommodations, though you may diminish the difference if you need airfare as rates typically increase for last minute bookings. If you’re driving to a local port like Manhattan, Bayonne, NJ or Baltimore, MD, a last minute booking may help you save a few bucks. Luckily, the cruise industry has changed dramatically over the past few years and almost every cruise line offers exceptional values throughout the year.

When should I plan a Disney Cruise Line cruise?
Disney-Cruise-Line-ShipDisney Cruise Line cruises are a different animal as spaces fill up relatively quickly since there are only four ships (to give you a point of reference, Royal Caribbean International has 25!) in the fleet. Since the ships sell out in advance, we recommend you book at least a year in advance. As space sells, the prices increase. As of April 2017, the 2018 schedule is available and several 2019 itineraries can also be booked.

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

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.

Seven Things to Do with Your Tax Refund

Tax season is almost (thankfully) over! If you’re one of the approximately 83% of Americans who receive a refund, figuring out what to do with it is most likely on your mind.

We recommend using it (or a portion of it) to plan your next vacation. According to a recent study, vacation had similar stress-reducing benefits as meditation and participants showed positive effects 10 months after taking the vacation. Still need more reasons to get away? It’s good for business.

Now that we’ve established that it’s in your best interest to get away, let’s talk vacations! Whether you get re-energized from an adventurous hike or by kicking up your feet by the pool, we’ve got an idea for you. Here’s our list of seven things to do with your tax refund:

1. Cruise
RCI_MJ_AerialCocoCay158R.pngSail to the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, New England and more! Going on a cruise is easier than ever. There are literally THOUSANDS of options – number of days, destinations, activities, room accommodations, departure ports – that there is a choice for every budget. We recommend Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International who make it easy with cruises directly from ports in New York and Bayonne, NJ (plus Royal Caribbean also sails from Baltimore, MD). With all the options and activities to do on board and off, cruising is the new go-to for vacationers with the bonus of unpacking only once. Looking to save your hard earned money? Opt for an inside cabin.

2. All-inclusives
SESRC_Aerial_Year2016_1.pngLeave your wallet at home because everything’s included on these easy vacations. Pay one price for your flight, transfers to the resort, hotel, meals, drinks (including open bar), most activities, and entertainment. Options include family friendly accommodations as well as adult only resorts. Popular destinations include Punta Cana, Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and Jamaica. A four-night vacation with flight could be less than $800 per person. Search now

3.Walt Disney World

cinderella-castle-gallery02.pngIf you have kids, they have inevitably asked, “Can we go to Walt Disney World?” Whether you’re ready to go this year, or want to put a deposit on a future trip, Boscov’s Travel gets you to the magic faster with the Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Walt Disney World. Fly non-stop from local Pennsylvania airports including Harrisburg, Lancaster, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, or Reading Airports. Service is in the spring and fall, fly Sunday/return Saturday, and every weekend in spring through fall (airports vary). Learn more here.

4.Cuba
Get major bragging rights for being one of the first to see this newly opened country. We make it easy with cruises that stop in this unforgettable country. Get all the Cuba facts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.River Cruise

Offering a whole new perspective on your destination, river cruises have grown in popularity due to their immersive experiences and less time spent traveling (you’ll sail to your next destination while you sleep). Stops include popular destinations as well as less crowded villages easily accessible from the river.

 

6.G Adventures
154e86bc0b91759f6ff328aac9cc8101.pngIf you seek adventure, look no further than G Adventures. One of our preferred tour operators, G Adventures gives you access to the world. Camp on your hike up to Machu Picchu, tour the Great Pyramids of Giza, kayak in Antarctica, or view the Irrawaddy dolphins on the rivers of Mekong.

 

 

7.Buy travel protection
Boring, right? There’s nothing exciting about planning for a vacation to go awry, but it can happen. But just like in life, by protecting your travel investment with travel protection, you buy yourself peace of mind and assurance that you will (eventually) take a vacation. Purchasing travel protection is easy. Get an estimate here.

If you’re ready to put your tax refund to good use, call us at 800-755-8020, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or visit us for current deals.

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. As to Disney artwork/properties: ©Disney