Millennial Trips You Must Take by 2020…on a Budget

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. She is new to Boscov’s Travel and wants share her traveling experiences thus far.

Somewhere along my college career I came up with the crazy idea to convince my friends that they would go on a trip with me in the summer of 2018 after we graduate college. Surprisingly enough, three of them were along for the ride. I then reached out to another group of friends (high school) and asked if they wanted to go a trip. They all said yes as well. I found it funny everyone was so willing to travel with me of course, on a budget. With a few “meetings” and the help of a trusted travel professional, we were off!

DISNEY WORLD

Our first trip was Disney World, which I suggest every millennial do with a group of friends. Disney World on a budget….yes you heard me! I had the best time in Disney with my best friends. We are all the same age, want to do the same thing. We spent a whole day in each park and then went to Universal for a day to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I can honestly say eating and drinking around the world in Epcot with my friends will be a memory I will forever cherish and remember.

How to do this on a budget? Talk with a Boscov’s Travel Specialist about meal options and see your choices for a meal plan. The meal plan saved us so much! After much consideration, we spent the couple extra dollars a day to get the dining meal plan. This gives you the choice to sit at Disney Restaurants and relax in air conditioning when we got tired instead of a quick service! Totally optional, but if you are someone who wants to make the whole day count at a park, that extra sitting hour does help you get through the day.

Another way to save money is to plan plan plan. After talking to an agent about how to maximize our budget, we came up with this idea to visit every park but to do it in only three days, not four. By purchasing three day park hopper tickets, we were able to visit Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studio in one day, saving us over $100 since we only needed a three day park option!

Should you stay at a Disney Resort? You should. The amenities you get is worth it. The minute we got off the plane, Disney took it from there. They transport you to any park or Disney Springs, and back to the airport for departure aboard the Magical Express. We were able to save so much over taking an Uber or a rental car.

MEMPHIS/NASHVILLE

The next trip would come as a surprise to some, but again if you and your friends love history and culture, this one is for you!

My high school friends and I decided to take a ten day vacation to Nashville and Memphis. We wanted inexpensive and the most inexpensive flights just happened to be ten days apart. When I told people I was going to Memphis I got so many question about why there. We picked Memphis because we were on a budget and my friend’s family lived in Memphis and graciously offered their home to us for a full five days. I did not know how to feel about it but I can say I am honestly so glad we picked Memphis.

We saw Beale Street, The National Civil Rights Museum and see where Martin Luther King took his last breath. We saw the famous studio where Elvis

Martin Luther King’s Hotel Room

Presley and  others recorded – Sun Studio. We went to the Memphis Pyramid which has the largest Bass Pro Shop in the world. This is just naming a few of the things we did while in Memphis with all activities being under $14 a person at most. Also, in Memphis they have student discounts at every museum. This place was such a great town for learning about history and culture and I would suggest this to any millennial friend group looking for a fun night life while also wanting to experience the past. The Mississippi border is close so we rented a car for a day, giving us plenty of time to go to Ole Miss, tour the campus and town and be back to Memphis in no time to return the car! It was an inexpensive day as well – we could cross off another state we had visited!

Nashville can get very pricey! To save money, we decided to go to purchase groceries for lunches to make in our rental. We then decided to find places to eat with the best Happy Hour deals. This ultimately was the best decision as eating out can get very pricey.

Nashville is known for its country music, right?! Well anyone who wants to experience the museums like The Grand Ole Opry or the Hall of Fame Museum Nashville will love this insider scoop – the Music City Total Access Pass. You save over 50% if you were to go to these places on your own. You get to pick four different places to visit as well as two bonuses, all for $75 (2018 price). It may sound like a lot, but when you price out The Hall of Fame Museum, the Belmont Mansion, Grand Opry, and the Escape the Room it was well over $150. So, yes it looks like a large expense, but these things all take hours on end, so for four fun filled days our total cost was $75 for activities. That is a steal. I promise you.

LANCASTER, PA

We went to Lancaster in September which proved to be a great time to go. Lancaster is coming off their busy season (June – August), so we were able to get a hotel for a fairly inexpensive price. The best thing about Lancaster is all the activities for an inexpensive price. My friends and I are known to shop and purchase nothing. In this case, it worked out because we spent a whole afternoon shopping at the AMAZING outlets and spent very little!

We also decided we wanted to change things up a little by doing something we have never done before. The Stroudsburg wine and cheese train ride is something we all heard about and it sounded so interesting. It is a relaxing and a fun way to change things up for a group of friends! Also, it’s great spot for posting cute pictures!

Another great part about Lancaster is just driving around to see the Amish way of life. On Sunday, there were many Amish families venturing out in their horse and buggies.  This area is considered the largest Amish community in the nation.

HERSHEY

This is another great vacation for an inexpensive price if you live in PA or are close enough to make it an easy drive to/from. My friends and I decided to stay at the Hershey Lodge because there so much to do and it’s less than the Hotel Hershey. A majority of us were Hershey All Annual Pass members so we have books full of discounts as well as get free parking and entrance into the park. If you’re not a member, in winter months (considered off season), you can get a Hershey Park pass for under $30 dollars a day (2018 price). After you’ve gone through the park, hang with Santa’s reindeer, and you’ve ridden a couple roller coasters (yes, most of them are still open), you can head over to Chocolate World (free entrance) and end the day with some delicious ice cream.

After the day at the park we headed to the Lodge to grab a bite in to eat and spend the night in the lobby. Yes, seven young adults spent the whole night in a lobby. In December, the Hershey Lodge lobby is packed till 2:00AM. I am not kidding – we were there playing games and just hanging by the fire laughing. When we left there were still tons of families hanging out! It was a nice Christmas tradition my friends and I will continue in the future.

NEXT UP……A CRUISE

My friends have been begging me for years to go on a cruise at some point. I hesitated because I fear sea sickness. In the month I have been at Boscov’s I have learned so much about cruises so I finally decided that I am ready to take a cruise! A Travel Specialist already told me that I can reduce the chances of becoming nauseated by staying in an inside cabin, more towards the bottom inside of the ship where there’s less movement. My friends and I are starting to plan out dates and we will be using Boscov’s Travel to help us!

 

If you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, 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

 

A Glimpse into the Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line – known for their ongoing Free at Sea offer where cruisers choose their offer of open bar, kids sail free, specialty dining, and more – just launched their newest ship, the Norwegian Bliss. “She isn’t a new class of ship, but feels like one.”  Our team recently had the opportunity to experience three days on the ship custom-built for the Alaskan market, and we agree, the Norwegian Bliss lives up to her name. See our experience aboard Norwegian’s largest ship ever built.

We found fun around every corner. The Bliss’ innovative design gives cruisers endless opportunities to experience excitement aboard this nearly 168,000 ton ship. Challenge your kids to a go-cart race (the first ever electric track at sea in the North American market), a contest down the slides in the water park, or a lively game of laser tag under the stars.

Everywhere you look there is a new activity! A sprawling water park, a restaurant-lined boardwalk, Broadway-style production shows including Jersey Boys, and a state-of-the-art spa make the Bliss one of our favorite new ships.

If you’ve sailed on Norwegian ships, you know that Norwegian knows food. Fan favorite dining venues like The Waterfront, Los Lobos, Cagney’s and more. But by far, our favorite was the new modern Texas BBQ joint – Q. With live pop country music, this place rocks and is the ultimate southern comfort dining. Enjoy tex-mex delights or get your fill with the Master Platter including four types of meat and four sides.

The largest cruise ship to ever sail in Alaska, the Bliss will spend her summer sailing the coast of America’s last frontier. Over the next two years, she will sail from LA, Miami and NY during the fall, winter and spring.

To learn more about the Bliss or to get a free quote on your next cruise, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

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.

 

Royal Caribbean Sails into the Future with New Technology and Guest Experiences

The following post is written by Kristin from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. She recently attended an event hosted by Royal Caribbean Cruises where they announced enhancements for future travel and what cruisers can expect in the years to come.

(Photo by Diane Bondareff/ Invision for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd./AP Images)

During a presentation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on November 9, Royal Caribbean’s Chairman and CEO Richard Fain introduced what Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara, envisions as the future of cruising by offering guests more interactive and seamless experiences both before they leave home, as they board the ship, and then as they enjoy their vacation on board.

Your phone will power your vacation all from the Sea Beyond app
With the Royal Caribbean Sea Beyond app, which debuted this past August on the Allure of the Seas, and is expected to be rolled out to 30% of RCL’s fleet by the end of 2018, you’ll be in control of your cruise experience from planning excursions, to making dinner reservations, to dimming the lights in your cabin. Royal envisions unlimited possibilities with the app, such as once you load your booking information, you can take a selfie, attach a payment method and start crafting your cruise experience, such as seeing 360 degree views of possible shore excursions. Once on board, use the app for practical purposes, such as tracking your luggage’s delivery to your room, or unlocking your door. Best part of all—the app even allows you to order drinks directly to your lounger, no matter where you are on board!
The app will also power more hi-tech encounters, allowing you to experience the ship like never before, such as discovering hidden games, information and experiences simply by pointing the camera on your app at designated spots. Posters will become games once the app is pointed towards it, and pieces of art will unfold to reveal hidden surprises.
If you don’t have a smartphone or if you’re looking for a more “disconnected” experience on your cruise vacation, don’t worry. Royal Caribbean will allow passengers traditional methods and services for making the most of your trip, allowing you to leave your chargers and phone at home or in your cabin.

Driverless cars will shuttle you to the ship in the future

Directly out of your favorite futuristic movie, Royal eventually plans on autonomous vehicles to shuttle you from parking to the ship.

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Once in the terminal, facial recognition technology makes the check in process easy and efficient reducing your wait time in line, allowing you to get to the fun faster and enjoy more of your well-earned vacation time. Speaking of terminals, expect a beautiful new terminal from Royal Caribbean in Miami in fall of 2018.

Robots will shake (or stir) things up at sea
Royal envisions their bionic robotic bartender arms can do more than just stir your favorite cocktail! Already outfitted in the popular Bionic Bars on the

Harmony, Quantum, Anthem and Ovation of the Seas, the bionic arms, which craft and deliver cocktails to guests, brought an entertaining mix of visual movement synched with lights and music. Royal envisions that their robotic arms could be harnessed in the future for entertainment and more aboard your favorite ship.

Floating on bubbles will deliver a smoother and more efficient cruise experience

A view of a virtual Royal Caribbean ship sails on hulls coated with precisely sized micro bubbles to improve fuel efficiency and reduce propeller noise.(Photo by Diane Bondareff/ Invision for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd./AP Images)

With a focus on energy-efficient solutions to minimize environmental impact, Royal also highlighted their new fuel cell technology and “air lubrication system.” According to their website, fuel cells reduce ship emissions with minimal negative effects on the environment while the air lubrication system coats the bottom of the ship with microscopic bubbles leading to less resistance with the current.

In the future, technology will create the perfect environment inside your cabin
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity’s vision of a future cabin comes complete with a digital sky, floor and artwork, bringing guests closer to nature. Stuck in an inside cabin? Turn on the channel showing the weather outside and local scenery. Weather a little less than stellar in your balcony cabin? Switch to the channel with the rainforest or switch back to the sunny weather from yesterday. Ready to mix it up? Fall asleep to the pitter patter of rainfall on lush leaves in the rainforest.

It’s impressive to see where the cruise industry is headed. By the end of the experience, it became evident that Royal wants to deliver an experience allowing each guest more time to relax. The company will begin rolling out these features this year and guests will experience increased integration with technology fleet wide by 2019.
To check out more details from the event, please visit: http://www.rclcorporate.com/rcl-seabeyond/

If you’re ready to start planning your next cruise, 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

MSC Divina Review (and Why You Need to Stay in the Yacht Club)

The following post features a review of the MSC Divina from Lisa at Boscov’s Travel. Lisa is the Director of Training and Professional Development at the company’s headquarters, and has over 40 years of travel industry experience.

The MSC Divina Ship

MSC Cruises recently became one of our preferred cruise partners (they deliver great value to clients, are a reputable company and work closely offering training and support to our specialists) so I was eager to experience the cruise line. Our MSC Cruises rep, John, highly recommended the Yacht Club, a specific category of cabins. 

Here’s how MSC describes the Yacht Club:
“The epitome of elegance and luxury at sea, The MSC Yacht Club offers a cruise experience like no other. Lavishly appointed suites, exclusive 24-hour butler service and a dedicated concierge are only the start. All-inclusive private restaurant, unlimited drinks in all venues or from your minibar, complimentary beverage selection in all onboard bars and restaurants, and exclusive access to The One Pool Bar & Grill Deck and Top Sail Lounge are just some of the other privileges.”

In early May 2017, my husband, son, daughter-in-law, infant grandson, and I sailed on the MSC Divina. We took John’s advice and booked the Yacht Club by taking advantage of one of MSC’s annual promotions. Needless to say, John’s recommendation was on point and I definitely felt it to be worth the price based on the service and perks we received!

The Divina is a very attractive, clean, well-maintained ship; we had a relaxing cruise and many times did not realize we were moving.  The Swarovski Crystal staircases are spectacular, especially at night with the lights shining on them…it looked like thousands of sparkling diamonds!  Our sailing was sold-out with a mixture of passengers from the US, Canada, Europe (especially Italians) and South America. 

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MSC Divina

Itinerary

May 6 – Miami, Florida
May 7 – At Sea
May 8 – Ocho Rios, Jamaica
May 9 – George Town, Cayman Islands
May 10 – Cozumel, Mexico
May 11 – At Sea
May 12 – Nassau, Bahamas
May 13 – Miami, Florida

Embarkation (Departure for those new to cruising)

Embarkation was a breeze, there was a separate check-in for Yacht Club guests. Because we were in the Yacht Club, we were escorted by a butler to a private lounge at the pier with cool towels, champagne, juice, and light hors d’oeuvres and cookies. We then bypassed the long lines and were taken directly to the Top Sail Lounge and Concierge on the ship to complete our check-in (we registered our credit cards and met our personal butler who explained how the Yacht Club works, etc.).

Living the Dream at the Yacht Club

Our butler escorted us immediately to our cabin and explained how the elevator system worked with our Cruise Cards. There is a separate bank of elevators at the front of the ship that works magic for Yacht Club guests. You insert your Cruise Card in a slot, push some buttons and the elevators come immediately to your floor. You can also insert your Cruise Card in a slot inside the elevator and make it an express elevator to whatever floor you want.

Our cabin, a Yacht Club Family Suite, was in the front of the ship with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows in both rooms. The cabin was 547 sq. ft. and had a separate living room with sofa-bed, a bedroom with a vanity area and walk-in closet, a large bathroom with double vanities, a full-size tub and a separate shower with an amazing shower system (I want one of these for my house!). We had two safes, two flat-screen TV’s, two phones, a small fridge (fully stocked daily with whatever we wanted), a snack cabinet, a double closet in the living room and lots of storage space (we didn’t use it all). We also received 4 bathrobes/slippers, lots of toiletries in the bathroom, and a choice of 4 types of pillows for the beds. Travelers should be aware that most of the outlets were European (our butler brought us a couple adapters). The only two US outlets were at the vanity in the bedroom (I guess this goes back to their European roots).

The Yacht Club Facilities

Anything you would normally take care of at the Guest Services Desk could be done at the Concierge Desk outside the Top Sail Lounge for Yacht Club guests. There was a full-service bar here which also served coffee beverages plus there was always a light buffet spread throughout the day and into the evening.  

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Top Sail Lounge

The One Pool Bar & Grill on the 18th deck is exclusively for Yacht Club guests. It has a small pool, two Jacuzzis, lots of chaise lounges, a private bar and a small grill/buffet with some cooked-to-order specialties. This quiet area was never full and noisy like the main pool areas on the rest of the ship and the staff was very attentive.

Dining

We had most of our meals in the Le Muse Restaurant which is the exclusive restaurant for Yacht Club guests. For lunch we tried the One Pool Bar & Grill, the Sports Bar, the Eataly Pizza, the Main Buffet and lunch on our two excursions. I was a little anxious about having a 10 month old infant in Le Muse every evening but no worries. My grandson was great and the staff here was very welcoming…the hostess and our assistant waitress loved him and used to entertain him every time they saw him! This restaurant had a special children’s menu for different age groups including toddlers (they don’t carry commercial baby food). Luckily my grandson is starting to eat table food and they also made some special fruit smoothies for him. He enjoyed his meals very much and I don’t think he’ll want to go back to eating baby food after this trip (LOL)!

Drink Package

MSC just started offering the free drink package to Yacht Club guests for everywhere on the ship starting in April. Prior to that, you could only get free drinks in the Yacht Club area. For the IMG_0908most part this worked well, but there were a few times in the non-Yacht Club bars where we got charged for drinks. When this happened, we told the Concierge who immediately removed it from our account. They said their staff is still in a learning curve because of this new program for Yacht Club guests. This free drink package also included specialty coffee drinks and gelato (which is excellent!).

Port Service

Whenever we were in port, our butler escorted us to the gangway (the ramp connecting the port to the ship) where we were taken to the front of the line. When we returned to the ship, we would show our Cruise Card and immediately be taken to the front bypassing the long lines. We had our own entrance to the ship at most ports and priority tender tickets for Grand Cayman. We were always greeted upon our return with cold water and cool towels.

Entertainment

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Theater

We went to one show, “Pirates”, which was good…it was a mixture of singing, dancing, acrobatics, juggling and magic tricks. They were heavily promoting a Michael Jackson show which we wanted to see but they didn’t schedule it until the last night. We didn’t have enough time to see it with packing and preparing to go home. I wish they would have scheduled it earlier in the week because the previews on TV looked very good. They have a decent size Casino (non-smoking) with slot machines (mostly penny, a few $1.00) and several table games.

Disembarkation

We had a few glitches with disembarking the ship but from what I understand MSC is building a new ship terminal in Miami so hopefully once that’s completed , the process will operate more smoothly.

Overall, we had an excellent vacation on the MSC Divina and I highly recommend the MSC Cruises Yacht Club experience to my clients and colleagues. img_0907.jpg

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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.

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

When’s the Best Time to Go to Alaska?

Larger than Texas, Montana, and California combined, there’s so much to explore in America’s last frontier, Alaska. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast looking to hike a glacier, or you’re hoping to see Orca in their natural habitat, Alaska offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences for all.

The most popular way to experience the best of Alaska is by cruise. Enjoy the comforts of an ocean cruise like Royal Caribbean International or Norwegian Cruise Line, delight in a few extra amenities with Celebrity Cruises, or savor the journey with the cruise line that was first to Alaska – Holland America Line. Alaska cruise season is from mid-May through mid-September when the temperatures range from 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the evenings, to up to the 80’s in the daytime during the peak of summer.

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Because it can be cooler at the start and end of cruise season, cruise prices are typically lower during May and September…

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which is good news since the best time to see wildlife is at the start of the season in May. Dawn and dusk offer the best viewing opportunities for the animals. Expect to see bald eagles, moose, salmon, walrus, polar bears, caribou, and more.

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Though if you are a bear enthusiast, you’ll want to go in late June or early July. Look for salmon swimming upstream and you’ll often find one of Alaska’s 85,000 wild bears looking for his next meal. These bears can gain upwards of 200 pounds from spring through fall before hibernation!

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If fall is your favorite season, you won’t be disappointed if you visit in early September. During this time, expect to see the leaves changing into vibrant colors just before the start of the winter season. Be prepared to bundle up as temperatures get cooler.

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So what other experiences can you expect to enjoy in Alaska? Below are some highlights of excursions available for tourists:

  • Bear Sanctuary, Eagle Rescue and Native Trails
  • Klondike Gold Fields and Gold Panning
  • Discover Sitka, Totem Park and Native Dance
  • Dogsled Adventure
  • Dry Suit Snorkel
  • Rainforest Ropes and Challenge Park
  • Sea Kayak Adventure
  • Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour
  • and many, many more.

If you’re ready to start planning your Alaska experience, 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.

What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Cuba

The authenticity of a culture from another time, combined with the lure of being one of the first to visit, make Cuba one of the hottest destination topics for American travelers. How can we travel to Cuba? Can we visit now? Is it legal? How does it work?  What are the travel requirements? As Travel Specialists, we always look to share information to navigate the tricky restrictions of travel, such as those posed by the Cuban government. Here are some quick facts and tips about travel to Cuba, courtesy of the U.S. Department of State.

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Streets of Havana

REGULATIONS

Currency: U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. Bring cash to pay for any expenses incurred while you stay.

Passports: For any US citizen traveling outside the US, passports should have 2 blank pages and the passport should be valid at least 6 months AFTER your return date.

Tourist Visa:  You must obtain a license from the Department of Treasury or your travel must fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel. These include family visits, official business of the US government, journalistic activity, professional research & meetings, educational activities, religious activities, public performances/competitions, support for the Cuban people, humanitarian projects, activities of private foundations/research/educational institutes, exportation/importation/transmission of information, certain authorized transactions.

If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution. See the Department of Treasury webpage. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Visit the Cuban Embassy website for visa requirements. Cuba also requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which can normally be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba. Questions about insurance should be directed to the Cuban Embassy.

THE MOST CONVENIENT WAY TO VISIT CUBA

Despite the fact that Cuba is now a bucket list destination for a lot of travelers, keep in mind that visiting Cuba is not a beach-style vacation! As per U.S. licensing requirements, the onshore excursion itineraries offered by our vendors are full-time, people-to-people programs with scheduled tours and activities. There will be little free time on most days.

Two preferred vendors we recommend that visit Cuba are Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. Experiencing Cuba as part of a cruise is one of the easiest ways to be compliant with travel regulations and gives you time on vacation to relax with optional experiences at other ports in the Caribbean. Plus Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International make it easy to obtain a visa. With Norwegian, download and submit a certification form and provide via email to Norwegian. On Royal Caribbean, the visa will be provided on embarkation (departure) day from port. Both charge a fee of $75.

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Norwegian Sky
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Royal Caribbean International Empress of the Seas

Cruising to Cuba offers you the security of the cruise ship at night while giving you the authentic Cuban experience during the day. Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean offer overnight stays in Cuba. Optional shore excursions include Hemingway’s Havana, Old Havana City Sightseeing, Havana by Classic American Car, Havana Heritage Walking Tour, Best of Havana, and more.

WEATHER & PACKING

cuba-1092372-pixabayHavana’s temperature ranges from an average low 66/high 78 in January, to an average low 75/high 89 in its warmest month, August. Cuba is known  for its casual, laid-back lifestyle and tourists are encouraged to dress casually. Pack breathable, lightweight clothing, rain gear (summer months can pour over 7″ of rain onto the island), comfortable shoes, sunglasses, bug spray, and hand sanitizer.

Cuba is sure to be a top travel destination for Americans for the next few years. We highly recommend using a Boscov’s Travel Specialist to navigate the travel restrictions before visiting this beautiful and authentic country. If you’re ready to raise a Cuba Libre and to step back in time to experience the culture of Cuba, visit your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist or call 800-755-8020. Our complete vacation-planning services are always free.

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.

Top 7 Reasons Why MSC is One of Our New Favorite Cruise Lines

We’re proud to introduce our newest preferred cruise line, MSC Cruises. What does it mean to be preferred? It means that we thoroughly researched the brand, our travel specialists have cruised with the line and had great experiences, and that the cruise line is dedicated to provide exemplary service to our clients.

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So what makes MSC so great? Here are our top 7 reasons:

  1. 10 new ships in the next 11 years
    Yep, they have plans to spend BILLIONS almost doubling their current fleet of ships! This means more itineraries, more ports and more opportunities to save on an upcoming cruise.
  2. Stay connected for less
    MSC offers three options for staying connected during your cruise. Whether you’re looking to just connect to social networks and chat apps ($19.90 for an 8-day cruise for 1 device) or you’re ready to have full internet access with streaming ($79.90 for an 8-day cruise for 4 total devices), there’s an option tailored to you so you can keep more Benjamins in your pocket (based on January 2017 pricing).phone
  3. Say hello to upgraded status
    MSC’s innovative Status Match program allows you to join the MSC Voyager’s Club and receive the matching status level of other travel brands (cruise, hotel, all-inclusive), guaranteeing a 5% discount on any booking PLUS similar or higher benefit status on board (see a Boscov’s Travel Specialist to sign up).msc1216352_di_aquapark_lrg
  4. Discounts for Military, Civil Servants and Teachers
    In appreciation of your community service, MSC offers a 10% discount on balcony cabins and 5% discount on oceanview and interior cabins PLUS kids sale free, and you can book multiple staterooms with your discount.
    Eligible civil servants: Teachers, Police Officers, Firefighters, Federal Express, DHL Worldwide Express, United Parcel Service, PLUS, family members are included! Learn more here.
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  5. Cruise like a boss in the Yacht Club
    Described as the “epitome of elegance and exclusivity,” the MSC Yacht Club offers top of the line luxury suite accommodations. Located in the Fantasia class fleet, this distinction carries perks including 24-hour butler service, complimentary select wines, spirits, beers, and soft drinks, private seating at select restaurants on board, exclusive access to the Yacht Club Pool, Bar & Grill, and priority check in. Best of all, this experience is between $1900 and $2500 per person for a 7-night cruise (quoted 1/11/17. View current offers).Butler.png
  6. It’s all in the details on board
    From glass walkways, to exclusive partnerships with Cirque Du Soleil, an all new beach condo design concept on board, a private island set to open in 2018, and cuisines cultivated by celebrity chefs, MSC values every feature on its ships.
  7. Save big with 2-for-1 cruise deals
    Give your wallet a break when you get two cruise fares for the price of one. Book by March 31, 2017, to receive 2 for 1 on MSC Divina sailings in the Caribbean departing now through February 2018. Plus kids sail free on select sailings, and rates start as low as $379.50 per person. Call for details.

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Fall in love with MSC? Don’t mind if we do.

If you’re ready to book your cruise experience with MSC Cruises, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or visit 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.

Families, unite for Marvel Day At Sea!

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Families, unite! In 2017, Disney Cruise Line will be introducing the all-new Marvel Day At Sea. Guests will be able to meet Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man, and other Marvel superheroes to participate in all-day entertainment aboard the Disney Magic.

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Beginning in the fall of 2017, Marvel Day at Sea will be on seven and eight-night Disney Magic Bahamian cruises departing from New York on Oct. 6, 14, 28; Nov. 4, 11 and 18, 2017. These sailings will include one day of action-packed activities in which guests will be able to enjoy exclusive opportunities to interact with Marvel heroes and villains, a special Marvel deck party, youth activities as part of the Marvel’s Avengers Academy, exclusive merchandise, and unique food and beverage options.

Kids and adults alike, will enjoy special screenings of their favorite Marvel films and TV shows known to mankind, including the newest releases and Disney XD shows such as Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Some of the highlights on this fantastic voyage include:

  • Meet-and-greet and photos with Marvel Universe Super Heroes.
  • A spectacular Upper Deck Party with music, dancing and games.
  • The Upper Deck Party culminates in a stunning display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects and the largest collection of Marvel Super Heroes and Super Villains ever assembled on a cruise ship.
  • Kids and families summon their Marvel knowledge and enjoy friendly competition during trivia games, covering courageous heroes and fun facts from the Marvel Universe.
  • For young heroes-in-training, Marvel-themed games, activities and arts and crafts will be offered throughout the day in the Marvel’s Avengers Academy in the Oceaneer Club.

All will include a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral, Fla., with a day at the Walt Disney World Resort. Don’t miss these cruises sailing from NYC. Plus, Boscov’s Travel makes it easy with direct roundtrip transfers to the pier. Let us pick you up so you can start your vacation the moment you leave your house.

If you’re interested in learning more how you can set sail with your favorite superhero, contact your Boscov’s Travel Specialist today.

If you’re ready to book your cruise adventure, 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.

Rediscovering my love of cruising aboard the Norwegian Breakaway

The following post is written by Wendy, a member of the Boscov’s Travel Corporate Team.  Wendy recently sailed on the Breakaway, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, as part of a FAM. In the travel industry, FAM trips – better known as familiarization trips – help travel agents learn what’s available for their clients in destinations across the globe. Wendy traveled on the FAM in October 2016. 

Norwegian Cruise Line had invited myself and other members of the Boscov’s Travel family on a 7-Day FAM trip aboard Norwegian Breakaway. For me these trips are a real joy and it had been a number of years since my last cruise, so needless to say I was excited. One of the beautiful things about a familiarization trip on a cruise ship is that travel specialists can experience, well, everything!

img_3715For our Bermuda cruise, we departed from the New York City pier. Boscov’s Travel offers transfers for select cruises to this pier from local Boscov’s in Reading, Camp Hill, Lancaster, and Easton. Our group took one of these transfers aboard a luxury bus from Reading, PA to the cruise terminal. Having cruised before I was quite familiar with the procedures of boarding a cruise ship. I’ll admit, I was blown away by how much more smoothly and streamlined Norwegian has made the boarding process. We were moved along quickly, porters took our luggage, and the staff was polite and friendly. All in all the experience was hassle and headache free.

Unfortunately, the weather was not going to cooperate. Hurricane Matthew threw a wrench in the works. Instead of sailing to Bermuda as planned, our itinerary was changed to Port Canaveral, Florida and Nassau, Bahamas. Seeing as we were on a FAM trip to learn about the ship, this didn’t deter us at all from enjoying everything the Norwegian Breakaway had to offer.

Our first stop was Port Canaveral, Florida. Despite being a little overcast, we decided to check out Cocoa beach. After an enjoyable bus trip to the beach, we felt like we had the beach to ourselves. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought and the weather helped play a small part in that. There are surf shops in the area and made for a nice break in between relaxation sessions on the beach.

The second port we experienced was Nassau, Bahamas. We spent two hours in Nassau at the Straw Market. It was great experience to be able to see hand-made art and local delicacies. According to the locals, the sunset in Nassau is a must-see and we decided to catch it from the Breakaway. And to be honest, the locals were right… was breathtaking.

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The food on the Breakaway was something to behold. We had the chance to experience the Brazilian style Moderno and the Italian style La Cucina specialty dining restaurants during our trip. And if you have the chance, I highly recommend eating at both. At Moderno, your mouth will water as different grilled and slow-roasted meats are carved tableside. At La Cucina, they take classic Italian dishes and put a fresh twist to create something unbelievable.

The rest of the time, we enjoyed the Garden Café Buffet. The buffet style of cooking on a cruise ship has come a long way since the last time I experienced it. Everything tasted as if it had been cooked especially for us. The taste, freshness, and options available were delicious. They also incorporated themes everyday with options ranging from Chinese one day to Western the next, then seafood after that. There were also made-to-order dishes available upon request.

One of our Boscov’s Travel team members is gluten intolerant. One of the best great things about Norwegian’s food options is that they can make anything gluten-free. The staff was very accommodating and understanding of any and all dietary restrictions. During the day, you can go to any of the restaurants and place an order for your dinner that night with your restrictions. When you arrive later that night, your food will be made to your specifications.

The nightlife experiences aboard the Breakaway transformed the ship into the hottest spot at sea. At H2O, every night was a different theme. One night it was a 70’s disco night and the next was an 80’s new wave night. During the day, cruisers could attend a flash mob class and that night everyone would perform the routine they learned that day. We had the chance to experience a flash mob and see everyone perform the dance routine from Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video.

img_3492Entertainment rocked the ship throughout our 7-days. Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor are two of the on board shows you shouldn’t miss. The cast of Rock the Ages was friendly and entertaining and managed to really involve the audience in the show. Even though the 45-minute dance routines from the foxtrot to the salsa of Burn the Floor is not my cup of tea, it was an amazing performance to watch.

Despite Hurricane Matthew changing our entire itinerary, it did not stop us from enjoying everything Norwegian Cruise Line had to offer! If you have the chance to get aboard this floating palace of entertainment, food, and fun; I would highly recommend that you do so. Norwegian’s really taken things to a whole new level with this ship and it shows; from the accommodating staff to every minor detail on the ship. The Breakaway is truly a cruisers dream ship.

If you’re ready to learn more about cruising, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, DM Boscov’s Travel on Facebook, or call 800-755-8020. Be sure to ask about specials!

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.