Thursday, December 29, 2016

How To Schedule a Free Disney Character Call Before Your Cruise

  1. First, you will need to go to and retrieve your reservation. You will need your reservation number and the birth date of someone in your party. 
  2. Next, you see a series of options on the screen. Select the one that says Character Calls.
  3. You will see a screen with Goofy on it. Press the Schedule your free call on the bottom of the pop-up. 
  4. Next, you will be able to select the character that you would like to receive this call from. Options include: Mickey Mouse, Goofy, or Mickey and Minnie. 
  5. Now that you've picked the character, you will see another screen where you will input your information. 
  6. Once you have entered your information, you will get a confirmation message saying that your phone call has been scheduled. You can schedule up to 2 free character phone calls per cruise. Remember, these character calls can be fun for any Disney lover, it doesn't have to be a kid. 
  7. The fine print reads: "Must be 18 years of age or older to order a call. Character Calls open to residents of the 50 United States, United Kingdom, and Canada (excluding Quebec)."
Had fun with your Free Disney Call? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Antique Suitcase Tells a Story

I recently bought an antique suitcase on eBay. I will have a booth at an upcoming Bridal Show in Santa Clara on January 7 & 8 and wanted the suitcase for a display piece. I was told it was from the 1950's. 

The side of the suitcase had two stickers on it. It looks like the one on the bottom says Deck B and the one on the top is from Norwegian America Line. Back in this time period people would save their travel stickers on their suitcases. It was a sense of pride being able to show all the places the luggage had traveled. 

According to Wikipedia, Norwegian America Line was a cruise line that operated from 1910-1971. This cruise line traveled primarily from Norway to the United States and it was both a cargo and passenger ship. 

There were some contents in the inside. A small bar of soap with the brand Lifebuoy. My 71 year old mother recognized this brand of soap. She said it was my grandfather's favorite brand. I had never heard of it. 

There was a small pack of matches. The have Rivera Club, Indiana written on them. I'm assuming that was a nightclub or casino. 

There was a small 5 cent stamp from Argentina that was post marked. It looks like it might have fallen off of a letter or postcard.

A small notebook Indian boy holding a Santa Fe sign was most curious. I believe Santa Fe was a railroad company. The little notebook was blank. I guess it was a handout for the passengers. 

Finally, there were two hair pins. I guess this indicates that the original owner was probably a woman. 

All this made me think. What would my suitcase say about me and my travels to someone who opened it 50 years from now. 

Avatar a New Land at Animal Kingdom

In Fall of 2017, Disney will be opening their newest section of Animal Kingdom. It is themed after the movie Avatar. It is designed to immerse visitors in the world of Avatar, with rides, dining, and shopping all in the theme of the movie. In the above video you can see a sneak peak at what this world will have to offer. Can't wait for it to open. It will definitely be a great experience for children and adults alike. 

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

5 Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

1) Professional Experience
Travel Agents have professional training. They take numerous courses every year to stay up to date on the latest trends in the travel industry. Travel Agents love to travel, so you get a hands on knowledge as well of the destinations and companies. 

2) Exclusive Offers
Agents are often part of a network of providers. The additional freebies that they can include are often not matched by online offers. 

3) More Insurance Options
Cruise companies typically only offer one insurance option. With a travel agent you are able to get access to other insurances. Remember, not all companies cover pre-existing conditions, so if you have one, you're better off shopping around and your agent can help you do that.

4) Loyalty Benefits
While cruising with the same company year after year has it's perks, relying on the same travel agency every year does too. Often you will find that there is an additional layer of benefits provided by the travel agency for your continual loyalty. 

5) Someone on your side
It's amazing how many people say they don't need a travel agent and then they fill up pages on Facebook asking questions about their upcoming trips. If they had a travel agent, they would have a one stop place to get all their travel inquiries answered. 

Also, in the event that something unfortunate does happen during your trip, the travel agent can use their professional connections to help get your problem resolved quickly. 

There's a common misconception that having a travel agent will cost you more and that is not true. Travel agents are paid by the provider, not by you. So your bottom-line would be the same.

If you don't already have a travel agent, consider us

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day Trip to Solvang, CA

Solvang is an interesting tourist location. Experienced cruise travelers know that where there is a Cariloha or a Del Sol, there are a lot of tourists. I watched as buses full of tourists parked and unloaded numerous people. What's the appeal? Well, Solvang is like no other city in California. It offers anything and everything Dutch, from food, entertainment, wooden shoes, and more. It's a nice place to spend the day walking in and out of the various shops and tasting the various foods.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Unusual places to stay, the Victorian Mansion B&B

The Victorian Mansion is a very different bed & breakfast. Each room is themed differently. It's a great place to get away from it all for the weekend. Rooms include: the 50's, Gypsy, Roman, Egyptian, Pirate and French. Each themed room is unique and gives you the feeling that you immersed in that experience. Each room has a hot tub and bathroom, a themed game and movie. If you are looking for somewhere unusual to stay, not your typical hotel room, this is it!

We've stayed in the 50's room where the bed is an actual 1956 Cadillac with drive-in speakers. Watching movies from bed is a whole different experience in that room! We most recently stayed in the Gypsy room. Loved sleeping in the Gypsy carriage. The wall paintings in all these rooms are superb. The paintings wrap around the room and follow the theme into the bathroom. It helps create this feeling that you are truly there.

The owner, Rod is a very nice person. He has worked hard to preserve this beautiful place and continues to think of ideas on which to add. There is currently a broken down boat in the parking lot that is going to be turned into a suite and next to it there will be an ADA room in the form of tree house and adjoining hobbit house. Can't wait to see how those turn out!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pre-Cruise Hotels in Ft. Lauderdale

1) Rodeway Inn & Suites Ft. Lauderdale Airport - Cruise Port
Rodeway Inn is a 3 star hotel located 3 miles away from the airport and cruise port. Offers complimentary shuttle service to and from the hotel. Includes free wifi and free parking. 

If you leave your car parked at the hotel there is a $10 per day charge, however, if you book your stay with Sweet Travel Group, we have negotiated lower per day rates for during cruise parking. 

Complimentary breakfast from 7am to 10am in our CafĂ© which includes bagels, toast, English muffin, Danish, muffin, fresh whole fruit, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, hard boiled eggs and freshly made waffles, assorted juices and coffee. All guestrooms are equipped with mini-fridges and microwaves. There is a heated outdoor pool located in the tropically landscaped courtyard. They have a gift shop on site and sundries with beverages and snacks available for guest purchase 24/7.

This hotel offers Day Rooms for same day late flights. Post-Cruise "Day rooms" are offered at a reduced rate of $59.99 plus tax and s/c. This includes a guestroom from 10am to 6pm. Guests will be picked up at Port Everglades on a complimentary basis and transported to the hotel. They will provide a hotel room to relax, shower and store luggage and guests may enjoy the facilities including the pool, restaurant and sports bar. The hotel will take the guests back to Ft. Lauderdale Int'l on a complimentary basis.  This allows guests to extend their vacation rather than spending an entire day waiting at the airport for late flights.    

2) Cambria Hotel & Suites Ft. Lauderdale Airport South & Cruise

Cambria Hotel & Suites is a 3 star hotel located 1.8 miles away from the airport and cruise port. Amenities include free wifi, free airport transportation, and an outdoor heated pool.

This hotel does not provide a complimentary breakfast, but it does have a restaurant on site. Breakfast buffet is offered at $9.95 USD per person. Grab and Go items are also available for purchase 24/7. 

Complimentary shuttle service to and from the Fort Lauderdale airport daily from 5 am to 12 midnight. Cruise Port shuttle service is available from 9 am to 2 pm daily please call for shuttle schedules, the service is offered from an outside purveyor and is scheduled by cruise line departure times.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Getting Ready for the Disney Dream 12/30/16 Cruise

We're heading off on the Disney Dream on 12/30/16. We planned and purchased our pirate outfits for Pirate Night. Turns out that Pirate Night will be on New Years Eve. So, I'm assuming will need to forgo our traditional Happy New Year's hat and glow in the dark beads for our pirate costumes.

It's my first Disney Cruise. It's important to us to experience different cruise ships and cruise lines in order to give our guests an accurate representation of what they will experience on their trips. We don't just read about it in the catalogs, we experience it ourselves.

We normally choose a balcony stateroom, however, on this trip I decided to get an inside stateroom. If you're wondering, I am claustrophobic, which is one of the reasons I prefer a balcony stateroom. Disney ships have something called a Magical Porthole in their interior staterooms. It looks like a regular porthole, but as you can imagine, it's much more. The porthole is connected to one of 4 live camera feeds. In addition to seeing a televised version of what is happening outside, Disney has added characters to show up on the window. As I understand it, the characters are sequenced differently for each stateroom, so even if you saw Ariel in your room, the stateroom directly next door might have seen Nemo instead. Disney is always full of surprises and wonder.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Travel to Cuba on Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas April 19, 2017

For the first time in history, Royal Caribbean will be sailing to Cuba starting on April 19, 2017. This sailing is sure to sell out. It's first voyage will be from the Port of Miami and then it will be re-positioned to Tampa where it will it remain as it's home Port. Current prices are as low as $134 per day plus tax.

Ports of Call
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Miami, Florida
4:00 pm
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
Havana, Cuba
8:00 am
6:00 pm
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Key West, Florida
7:00 am
5:00 pm
Monday, April 24, 2017
Miami, Florida
7:00 am

U.S. residents are required to have a Travel Visa in order to enter Cuba and a U.S. Passport. Royal Caribbean has developed tours in Cuba that help satisfy the Cuban Visa Requirements.

Interested in traveling to Cuba on this sailing or any other upcoming voyage? Contact us at or (800)214-8162.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Special Needs Travel

Traveling when you have a special need can be quite the challenge. While the U.S. has come a long way in providing accessibility to all travelers through the ADA, not all countries have followed. Traveling to a foreign country can be difficult. Vendors often claim that their tours or trips are handicap accessible and they're not. It adds to the frustration of the passenger.

Today as I was sitting in the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I witnessed 14 people in wheelchairs being rolled out of a flight. As I approached them and starting chatting, many of them had similar things "I would travel more if it were easier for me".

I am a certified Special Needs Travel Agent. That means that I have additional training and I know how to plan and provide clients with special needs the resources and help they need in order to travel like anyone else. I'm a teacher as well, so I pride myself with treating my clients with the same love and compassion as I would one of my students. I also respect your privacy. I don't need to know your medical condition, I just need to know what help you need in order to make your travel experience easier.

Not all disabilities are the same, why treat them the same? Some people just need a scooter rental for the days they are on a cruise ship, because it is hard for them to walk or stand for long periods of times. Others, need a specific medical equipment with them at all times. Whatever the need might be, I have travel partners that I work with that can help.

Contact me at, (800) 214-8162 and/or visit my website at