My Personal Experience on an Alaskan CruiseTour: Q&A Edition

My Personal Experience on an Alaskan Cruisetour: Q&A Edition

In August 2023, one of our Boscov’s Travel employees’ Grandmother took a CruiseTour in Alaska onboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. Read her incredible experience below:

Q: How long have you wanted to go to Alaska and what made you want to go?

A: I’ve wanted to go since the 90’s! Alaska sounded beautiful, nice and different. There seemed to be a different way of life and the thought of going there sounded adventurous. Prior to going to Alaska, I have been to 43 of 50 states. Alaska being an additional one I wanted to check off my list!

Q: How old are you? If I can share because it truly makes this entire experience more incredible in my eyes that you were able to finally make your dreams come true, especially at your age! I admire this.  

A: Yeah yeah, sure. I’m eighty years old.

Q: What finally got you to go to Alaska?

A: I finally found someone to go with me and my granddaughter made it very easy to finally go because she works for Boscov’s Travel. She had my friend and I come in to meet with one of the Travel Advisors. This was my first time using a Travel Advisor, but the service at Boscov’s Travel was phenomenal and we were well taken care of. We took an Alaskan CruiseTour for about two weeks – which means when we arrived in Alaska, we saw places by land and then halfway through we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas to see even more of the incredible state by ship!

Q: What did you pack that came in handy?

A: My raincoat and rain pants. While it did not rain much, it did rain early in the morning at Icy Strait and on the last day in the morning at Ketchikan. Otherwise, we had great weather, but that’s why these came in handy. My granddaughter also made us matching shirts which were fun to wear on embarkation day. I wanted matching shirts like you see people wear on cruises and she surprised us with them. We got many compliments and it was fun to strike up conversations with fellow passengers because of our shirts!

Q: What do you wish you packed with you?

A: I wish I packed more capris since the weather was pretty in between each day, which I am grateful for. I do feel I had everything I needed as my Boscov’s Travel Advisor gave me a packing list for Alaska. I felt well set with what I took.

Q: What was the weather like during your time in Alaska?

A: The weather for our time there was great! It was between 65 and 75 degrees most days and sunny. There were a few days that started out with clouds and fog, but it always became nice later on in the day. The entire land portion of our tour was sunny and warm. On the ship it was a bit cooler, but it was still very nice. We encountered rain in Icy Strait, Skagway and Ketchikan, but most of the rain was early in the morning or a drizzle so it did not affect our days very much. Overall, there was not really bad weather at all!

Q: What was your favorite hotel you stayed at during the land portion?

A: Sophie Station Suites in Fairbanks. We had a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. We could walk to a strip mall nearby which had fast food restaurants and also a few grocery stores to get food to make breakfast. There was a restaurant at the hotel, beautiful flowers, and an exercise room. The beds were also very comfortable. Here’s a tip for you, if you go to the bathroom in your room here – the doors are sliding so be careful you don’t get locked in. This was really funny because both my friend and I got locked in.  If you do get locked in, there’s a little round button inside the door hole that you have to push. It took us some time to figure out, but it worked.

Q: What was your favorite land tour destination?

A: Denali Village because it was a cute little village on the river with a beautiful deck off the main building lobby with a restaurant, bar, coffee bar, couches, TVs and a huge deck overlooking the river. There were also hiking paths, little shops, fire pits and the Cabin Night Dinner Theater which had a fun singing and dancing show about Alaskan pioneer times. The family-style food at the theater was very good.

Q: What was your favorite land tour excursion?

A: The excursion we took in Fairbanks was one of my favorites. We started by visiting the Alaskan Pipeline which was really cool. I learned a lot – the pipeline goes from Prudhoe Bay all the way down to Valdez. It was neat to see how big it really was. After the pipeline, we went to the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. They had a lot of artifacts from when the Alaskan villages had tribes. From there we went into downtown Fairbanks and had lunch at the Crepery – absolutely delicious!

After the Crepery, we completed my favorite part of this excursion, the paddleboat ride! This boat took us up and down the river where we got to see many houses that were built along the river, an airplane landing on the river, and Susan Butcher’s Musher Dog Camp which is now run by her daughters. We were able to see how they hooked the dogs up and watched them pull an atv with wheels since there was no snow at the time. Afterwards, the dogs went swimming! Then the boat went further down the river to a village where they explained the process of how to catch salmon and cure it. Then we got off the boat and went through a village which depicted how the Alaskan tribes used to live. They showed us the animal skins they use to make coats with, the coats themselves, elks they raised and recreated houses that we walked through. The final part of this excursion is where they brought over the dogs from the musher camp so we could pet and play with them. The dogs really liked the kids which was very cute. We ended this fun excursion with a paddleboat ride back to the dock.

Q: What was your favorite place to eat on the land tour?

A: I think the meals we had on the Wilderness Express Train that went from Fairbanks to Denali, then Denali to Talkeetna, and later, Talkeetna to Anchorage were my favorite. We were on this train three different times and each experience of the train was very fun. We ate great food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), had drinks and met fellow travelers. It sounds a little silly but an atmosphere like the Wilderness Express Train makes all the difference for your meals. We got to see a lot of animals and stunning scenery while onboard. The train was a double-decker with the top half being a domed-glass rail car for viewing – phenomenal.

Q: What is your favorite memory from the land portion of your tour?

A: Seeing Mount Denali from Talkeetna Resort. We had beautiful views during the sunset on the back deck of the resort. At first, Mount Denali’s peak was the only visible part of the mountain, but when the sun went down the clouds dissipated and we could see the entire mountain. It was a beautiful and breathtaking moment.

Q: Moving on to the cruise portion of your tour, how was Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas?

A: The ship was very nice! It was just the right size for cruising Alaska. If we were on anything bigger, the ship would not have been able to go to all the ports it did, plus it would’ve taken me too long to get to where I needed to go onboard. They had a lot of activities and our stateroom was nice.

Q: What did you love most about the ship?

A: There were a lot of activities going on so you never were bored. They had trivia in the Schooner Lounge and other games that were fun to play, but also watch. Plus, you can’t forget about the fabulous entertainment and dining options! One of my favorite activities onboard was the parade of flags where they had everyone who was working on the ship carry their country’s flag and put on a performance to show off their country.

Q: What was your favorite entertainment onboard?

A: The Piano Man show was very good. There was a lot of singing, dancing and of course, piano playing.

Q: What was your favorite restaurant and meal onboard?

A: Hands down, my favorite dining experience onboard was Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant. We had a seat by the window and a very attentive waiter. The food was very good. For my appetizer, I had breaded eggplant parmesan with sauce. I’m getting hungry just talking about it. For my main course, I had filet mignon with mashed potatoes, broccoli and dinner rolls on the side. Last but not least, was dessert – tiramisu and coffee. Everything was extremely delicious and my friend also really enjoyed her meal.

Q: What was your favorite excursion from the ship?

A: This is hard to choose, but I really enjoyed Whale Watching in Icy Strait Point. We saw a lot of whales, some were even swimming in groups of three or four, going in and out of the water. The excursion tour operators were great with their knowledge, where to go and where to watch the whales. We learned if you watch the birds and where they flew, there were typically fish there. If there were fish, the whales would also be around.

Q: What was your favorite port?

A: My favorite port was definitely Skagway because there was a lot to do. We went on another favorite excursion of mine here, the White Pass Railroad! This excursion included a ride on the railroad, a salmon bake, Liarsville, and a Red Onion Saloon Tour. We began the excursion by boarding the White Pass Railroad to the Yukon in Canada where we saw some really great scenery along with the path that the prospectors had to take from Skagway up to the Yukon in Canada.

From Canada we took a bus down to Liarsville with a stop at the Alaska welcome sign to take a photo. Liarsville is like a tent city where the miners used to stop before taking the path up to the gold rush fields. We learned the town was called Liarsville because prospectors would make up stories about how much gold they found in the Yukon. I found it very interesting. Liarsville also had entertainment and gold panning where we panned little flakes of gold. There were also little tents set up to demonstrate how the prospectors used to live including a press, madams’ tents, stores and more.  After Liarsville, we went to a salmon bake which was delicious!

Following the salmon bake, we went to the Red Onion Saloon and took a tour of the upstairs brothel and had champagne – very fun! To end our time in Skagway we walked around town and got some ice cream. Something funny to share with you is that we got ice cream in every port because each port in Alaska claims that their ice cream is the best, so we had to try it all.

Q: That’s funny, so who do you think has the best ice cream?

A: They all tasted equally good. But I will say my favorite flavor was Moose Tracks in Skagway, which is ironic being in Alaska (moose), but it was yummy!

Q: What is your favorite memory from a port?

A: This isn’t a port where you can get off the ship, but seeing and cruising the Hubbard Glacier was incredible. The ship did a 360-degree turn during this part of the cruise. We had a balcony stateroom so we sat on our balcony taking in all the scenery and wildlife of this beautiful area. We saw many seals lounging out on icebergs which was cool. I highly recommend a balcony stateroom just for this experience alone.

Q: We’ve talked a lot about the Alaskan wildlife so let’s go over the animals you saw.

A: We really did see a lot of animals! The one place we saw many animals was in Denali on the Tundra Wilderness Tour excursion – so much fun! The animals we saw on this tour included a moose hiding in bushes, brown squirrels, the Alaskan State Bird: the Willow Ptarmigan with its babies, a brown grizzly bear eating berries, caribou, and Dall sheep up on the rocky part of the mountain. If you want to see Alaskan wildlife, this is a great excursion for you! My suggestion would be to go on an early morning excursion so you see more animals as they are very active in the morning. Throughout Alaska we also saw more moose, seals, cows, otters, salmon, bald eagles and of course the musher dogs!

Q: You have shared with me previously you made new friends on your trip. Do you want to share more about that?

A: Sure! We met and bonded with six different pairs and two families during our time in Alaska. During many of our land excursions, we all hung out together and got to know each other. After boarding the ship, we saw some of them and caught up, but we weren’t on any excursions together. Since being home, I have been in touch with about five of the pairs and hope to visit them in the future. We agreed if we ever get to each other’s neck of the woods we would meet up!

Q: What surprised you the most about Alaska?

A: What surprised me the most was how barren Alaska was, even in the towns. There were not many people there at all. Anchorage is the biggest city in Alaska and it’s not much bigger than Reading, Pennsylvania.

Q: Was there anything you did or saw that you wish you skipped?

A: Actually, no.

Q: Is there anything else we did not discuss that you’d like to mention?

A: Well, in Ketchikan the excursion we took was really great! We went to Potlatch Totem Park and saw many Totem Poles. We actually went in a building where they did all the totem carving and learned that the trees are hollowed out so they don’t rot once carved. The carvings each tell a story which is very neat.

After the totem park, we went to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, which was recommended by my granddaughter and a lot of fun. I also now recommend it! After the show, we went to Creek Street a little section of Ketchikan that is built over the water of the Ketchikan Creek. There were houses built on stilts and many shops where the prices were more reasonable than some of the other ports.

We were blessed at Creek Street during the time that we were visiting because the salmon were swimming upstream – meaning we got to see the salmon climbing ladder and jumping out of the water. We also got to see some seals and otters, one which was eating the salmon. We enjoyed this port so I feel it is worth mentioning.

Q: What is a summarization of how Alaska made you feel?

A: Oh boy, I was extremely glad I went there and learned more about the state. It felt like a different country and was so pretty. I was very happy to see everything and had a very good time. So, happy would be the answer to your question.

Q: Would you travel to Alaska again? 

A: Yes, but I would try different things and see new places. I would really like to go to Seward and see the Fjords. I would love to see different towns during the land portion of the tour and cruise to other ports. There’s a lot to see and do in each port so even if I went to the same ports again, I could do something different every time. I also want to go to the Mendenhall Glacier on a raft because I was supposed to do this on an excursion, but it was cancelled due to permafrost causing a flood. This was the only disappointment of my entire trip, which was no party’s fault. This just gives me more of a reason to go back!

Q: What do you recommend to anyone wanting to travel to Alaska?

A: Take a CruiseTour and use a Boscov’s Travel Advisor. If you take a CruiseTour, do the land tour portion first because it is very busy and then once you board the ship you can rest the first day since you’re at sea.

Q: What advice would you give someone going to Alaska for the first time?

A: Pack different types of clothing because the weather can be anywhere from 30 to 80 degrees – you truly never know what it will be. Pack some of everything, but make sure you have layers so you can put them on and take them off. Also, take a backpack so you can use it for said layers as needed.

Q: What was your favorite part about using Boscov’s Travel and would you use them again?

A: I enjoyed the ease of being able to have someone assist me in planning my vacation itinerary and flights. It made my vacation experience much more relaxing. I would definitely use them again. Their services were phenomenal from start to finish. My Travel Advisor was there to assist me along the way with any questions I had. This was the best way to book my Alaskan CruiseTour and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Does this incredible experience incline you to explore the Final Frontier? 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://boscovstravel.com/cruises/alaska.html to learn more.

My personal experience onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas

Recently one of our Boscov’s Travel Advisors took a cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay. Read her incredible experience below.

My family and I had recently sailed to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas! We had such a great time onboard and at the ports! The ship sailed out of Cape Liberty, New Jersey with stops in the ports: Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas. So far, I have been on all four Oasis class ships, but this was my first Oasis of the Seas sailing after it’s “royal enhancement,” which means the ship has been newly renovated.

On our sailing, we had adjoined Central Park Balcony View Staterooms and the views were stunning as this neighborhood is set with more than 10,000 plants and flowers – a tropical nature sanctuary onboard. For those of you who don’t know, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships have seven different neighborhoods which include the beautiful open-air Central Park, the Royal Promenade where parades and parties take place, the Boardwalk, the Pool and Sports Zone, the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place, and the Youth Zone. All of these neighborhoods are filled with exciting new discoveries and memories to be made.

The food and bars onboard were absolutely incredible. From the main dining room to the specialty dining, you truly can’t go wrong. We decided to visit the specialty restaurant Chops Grill which was absolutely delicious! My favorite part was the lemon meringue pie which was refreshing and tasty.

Our favorite thing on the cruise ship was the water show Aqua80 – we were blown away! The awesome show is at the ship’s AquaTheater with world-class extreme sports athletes performing top-deck high dives, acrobatics and so much more, all to the tunes of the 1980’s! Aqua80 was truly spectacular!  Don’t forget that on the Oasis of the Seas you need to reserve your showtimes a month prior to your departure via the Royal Caribbean International app.

For our favorite port we visited, we all can agree that we loved Perfect Day at CocoCay! We rented a private cabana on the private island down at the South Beach, which is just one of four beaches on Perfect Day at CocoCay. With our private cabana we received VIP service and our own attendant, which made the experience even more relaxing and fun!

We also took an excursion while we were at Perfect Day at CocoCay. We did a swim with the Bahamian pigs excursion, which was so much fun! The pigs themselves range in colors from black to pink and have cute flat button noses that act as a snorkel when they swim. The pigs were very friendly and so excited to spend time with us. We loved every minute of this excursion!

The best part of our experience onboard the Oasis of the Seas was the great pricing we got for the cruise! We actually booked the cruise with our Boscov’s Travel exclusive public group space, which saved us almost 40% off from the retail promotions that the cruise line runs. These are incredibly special deals! Even better? This Boscov’s Travel group space special pricing is available to you, our valued clients all because of our partnership with Royal Caribbean International!

Overall, we truly enjoyed our cruise to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay. We love Royal Caribbean International and look forward to future sailings on some of their newly innovated ships that are to be debuted over the next year. I highly recommend cruising with Royal Caribbean 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 or visit boscovstravel.com/cruises/royal-caribbean/index.html to learn more.

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

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.

Which Cruise Line is Right for You?

If you are new to cruising or looking to explore a new destination on a cruise, it can become confusing to decide what’s the best cruise line for you. Whether you’re traveling on a budget with family or looking for a one-of-a-kind luxury cruise experience, we can help!

Our travel specialists brought together their top recommended cruise lines based on service, value and overall cruise experience and made a handy quiz to help you to see which cruise line is the best fit for you!

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Click here to view infographic in full screen.

Now that you’ve chosen your cruise line, take advantage of savings and perks during Boscov’s Travel July Customer Appreciation Month! All month long, enjoy discounts, perks and bonus offers on every cruise line featured here. Learn more about our July events here.

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.

 

America’s Last Great Frontier; Exploring Everything Alaska Has to Offer

The following post is written by Boscov’s Travel Specialist Jennifer from our Camp Hill branch. Jennifer recently traveled to Alaska along with Colonial Park Travel Specialist Amy, on an educational trip to experience tours and options that our clients can enjoy while experiencing America’s Last Great Frontier. 

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We experienced a whirlwind 6 nights in Alaska that felt like twice that. It never gets really dark even when the sun sets around 11pm and is back up at 4am. Nineteen hours of daylight feels like 2 days, especially when you are trying to see all that your clients may want to see in a fraction of the time. As travel specialists we tried to take in everything that the tours and hotels had to offer. Next time we will return as vacationers.

It’s hard for me to describe but Alaska is young in many ways. Not to discount the native cultures which are a big part of the history, peoples and culture but it’s statehood is less than 60 years old. Even the Russian influences are ‘new’ compared to the ancient cultures. The buildings are new, the corporations and governments are new, the ‘Alaskans’ are new. In a world of travel we often sell the ‘old’….go see ruins in Mexico, the cathedrals in Europe, historical colonial places from our US history, but how often do we seek out the new? We seek the modern in some places but Alaska is different…

According to the locals, to be ‘Alaskan’ is to live in Alaska for a winter. If you live through the season and stay, then you are an Alaskan and these transplants account for a significant part of the (750,000) population. When you realize that Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas that number seems, well, tiny. But I have digressed into my ‘factoid-ness’.

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The natural landscape of Alaska is clearly very very old. Sculpted by glaciers and home of the highest point in North America, its vistas are breathtaking. When we arrived at 11:30 pm in Anchorage my heart was delighted to see majestic mountains in the twilight. We stayed our first night at the Lakefront Anchorage, which is close to the airport and very convenient. We also woke to see planes taking off and landing right from the lake – a primary method of transportation for the locals in the deepest regions Alaska.

We stayed a second night at the Marriott in downtown Anchorage and proceeded to explore the city. We checked out the “Saturday Market”… on Sunday. It was full of delicious locally made foods, crafts and even entertainment. I had a lemongrass halibut taco that just had me fearing the trip had peaked at that point. Yes, it was that good. We walked some more and found ourselves eating at Snow City Café for a delicious second lunch (or first lunch for my colleague).

We walked a bit of Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and came back through residential areas and Delaney Park. We met up with some of the folks we would be with on the tour and our dedicated tour guide, Jared, that we would be traveling with for the next 6 days. With Royal Caribbean Cruise Tours you will always have a dedicated tour guide for the land tour. We headed for dinner at Sacks. This was a tasty, fancy little establishment. This was just a fraction of the delicious food that Anchorage has to offer. If you happen to find yourself with some free time in Anchorage I highly recommend doing a food tour.

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We were off to Seward! A quick stop at the Chugach State Park Bird Point Trailhead for a short break and a photo opportunity and then another at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. These are great ways to break up the drive and briefly see what Royal Caribbean can offer to our clients. On to the Kenai Fjords Cruise we saw orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, otters, puffins, eagles, porpoises, cormorants, and even at a great distance a goat. We had lunch at Fox Island (delicious) and again just breathtaking views. I feel like we had a day like no other. Alaska is a raw place and sometimes the weather isn’t the sunny clear day we had, but it is a place where the unexpected can surprise and amaze you. We ended the day at the Alaska Sea Life center… I could have spent much longer here learning and observing and even interacting with the animals and caretakers.

Lots of options for food are available in Seward as well. We had a delicious dinner at Ray’s. Let me tell you how important food and beverage is to me – VERY! We watched otters out the window into the marina while we dined. The Alaskan brews are so good too. I love to eat and drink local and Alaska is just sumptuous!

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The next day we were back to Anchorage and the Native Heritage Center with a brief stop in Alyeska, an adorable place just above the quaint town of Girdwood. Alyeska is only seen on the tours that focus on the mountains and the longer tours but from this vantage point you can see some spectacular mountain views. Again, we just didn’t have enough time because we were getting the abbreviated version.

It’s hard to believe that very shortly we would be in Talkeetna. This was the town I was most excited to see… if you are old enough to remember the show “Northern Exposure” about a doctor from NYC that finds himself practicing medicine in a quirky small Alaskan town, well, this is where the idea was born. It’s been about 20 years since this show first aired so I assumed it would be large and commercial now. It’s NOT and I loved this place. It’s a gathering place for climbers before and after their treks to ascend Denali (Mt. McKinley) and while we were there, there were many an unhappy climber because ascent hadn’t been possible in the last few weeks due to weather. Locals singing karaoke, climbers drowning their lament and a dog walking around town (in and out of places of business) made this town charming.

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Talkeetna was also special because we signed up to do a glacier landing on a small plane. Are there any people out there who aren’t afraid of small aircraft? This was no exception. But we had been told, by numerous accounts, that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was not to be missed, so we signed up, butterflies and all. I know I’m not a gifted enough writer to describe this but I will use a few words to try – powerful, spiritual, humbling. When that plane set down on the glacier we were so close to something so large and grand, something that from the distance was awesome and powerful and up close was even more so. We were so small and it was so grand. It brought tears for many of us. It was spiritual.

We would eventually re-board taking off from the glacier to see a little more and have an up close view of Denali. It was amazing to see a huge avalanche (even the pilot was impressed and circled back around), and the base camp for climbers. That base camp was the first perspective I had at the size of everything. Tents on the snow at the base of mountain were like ants….I just couldn’t fathom the massiveness of this. No regrets on this excursion. I will do this again and hopefully share it with my children and husband.

Our time in Talkeetna was all too short. The next day we were to board the Wilderness Express glass domed train for Denali National Park. This was quite a luxurious experience and really enables you to see so much including a view of those living off the grid. I know there are a lot of TV shows out there to teach us about Alaska but they don’t do the ‘real’ Alaska justice, they just scrape the surface.

Denali was our smallest snapshot of what’s included on these tours. Every land tour with Royal Caribbean includes Denali and we only saw a hint in the hour that we had. This just means every last one of us who was on this trip will come back.

That evening it was back to options and my colleague Amy and I did different things. She took to the river and did Whitewater rafting in the Nenana. Quite a few did this tour and everyone loved it. It was cold and a little wet but they supplied equipment to keep you dry! I went to the Husky Homestead to hear four time Iditarod champion Jeff King talk about his life and adventures, and I got to snuggle puppies and see some gleefully mush, even without snow. Aside from enjoying each of our very different adventures, we also once again were captivated by the Alaskan people that we would meet.

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Again our time was too short and morning came too soon as we ventured off to Fairbanks. I had the least expectation of this city, which is probably why it surprised me so much. It has a quirky untouched feel but is still modern and artsy. We headed up to Gold Dredge #8 where we panned for gold (and all got some), learned about the mining industry and how it established Fairbanks, about the pipeline and some musical entertainment with a train ride because – why not! We did the Alaska Salmon Bake (they make food taste so good served in large quantities!) and Palace Theater Show (a fun way to learn the modern history of this place).

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Our last day we enjoyed the Riverboat Discovery before heading to the airport. This was on the Chena river and we had the chance to see the Chena Indian Village, Susan Butcher’s huskies (another 4 time winner), a float plane land and take off right beside the river boat, and plenty of stories too! I think when I go back I’d like to start in Fairbanks.

This trip was an educational opportunity but it lit a passion for Alaska in me. Knowledge is a key to explaining but feeling unlocks something else and I know anyone I send to Alaska won’t be able to come home without having these feelings. There is so much of the history and narration that we were given by our dedicated tour guide that made everything not only informative, but interesting and fun.

If you’re ready to book your Alaskan 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.

 

Cruise News, from Boscov’s Travel

We’re in the midst of Wave Season, the time of year when cruising is on everyone’s mind! Typically the best time of year to book a cruise is this time period from January to March because of great deals and exciting new offers coming from cruise lines. Though Wave Season is coming to an end, there’s still time to book a cruise and save BIG whether you sail this spring or late fall. We’re here to bring you the latest cruise news and deals from some of our favorite cruise brands.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line just announced their exclusive premier island destination in the Caribbean, Harvest Caye.  Starting in November 2016, Norwegian cruise ships will sail to this 75 acre oasis. Relax on the beach in your own private villa, sing “Margaritaville” as you enjoy the libation in Jimmy Buffet’s Landshark Bar & Grill, swim with the fishes in the world’s second largest barrier reef, explore the ancient Mayan archaeological site of Nim Li Punit, paddle board on the crystal clear waters, or enjoy time in the pool.

See applicable sailings and learn more here. Going on now through April 10, 2016, choose 2 Free at Sea offers when you book a balcony or stateroom. Free at Sea offers include limited beverages (open bar), specialty dining, shore excursions, or free wi-fi (all other bookings choose 1 offer). PLUS friends & family sail free and pay reduced deposits. Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

Royal Caribbean 

Harmony of the Seas, the World’s largest cruise ship, is launching this May in Europe. From May until October, guests will have the opportunity to experience the best that the Western Mediterranean has to offer. Sail from Barcelona, Spain and visit ports in France, Italy and Spain. In November, the vessel sails to her permanent home in the Caribbean with departures from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Onboard, guests will experience big, bold adventures in perfect harmony.  Activities for the family include a kids aquapark and family-friendly sports zone. For the more adventurous, fly across the ship on the zip line, hang ten on the FlowRider surf simulator or plunge down a 10-story slide.

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Harmony of the Seas features seven neighborhoods including Central Park, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk, Entertainment Place, Royal Promenade, Youth Zone and Pool & Sports Zone. Take in a comedy show or an aqua show in the Aqua Ampitheatre. Enjoy Columbus, The Musical!, multiply your thrills with Grease, or collaborate with friends to find hidden clues and Escape the Rubicon!

Break out the hashtags and post online with Voom, the only high-speed internet at sea. For the over 21 crowd, have your cocktail shaken or stirred by the Bionic Bar featuring two robotic armed bartenders.View the ship’s amenities here and get a sense of its size below: Harmony_Infographic

Going on now through April 4, receive 30% off every guest on every ship (yep, even the Harmony!). Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

 

Other Cruise Deals

Celebrity Cruises – Spring Sale! For a limited time, receive fares from $799 + get free drinks + up to $300 to spend on board. Discover why Celebrity Cruises was voted Best Premium Cruise Line for the past 8 consecutive years. Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Select Cruises – Cruises curated from Boscov’s Travel Specialists with direct transfers from local Boscov’s locations. Earn on board credit and sail with confidence. Learn more here.

If there’s another cruise line you’d like to sail with, let us know and we can help you book it!

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.