Travel Blog

Interest in Iceland has exploded over the last few years. I plan many trips a year to Iceland and thought I knew it pretty well based on research and suggestions from DMCs. I was totally amazed on this trip with all I didn’t know. This educational experience was sponsored by Iceland Travel, Signature Travel Network’s number one destination manage company for Iceland. They are based in Iceland and know the product better than anyone. Started out flying on Delta through JFK. Arrival is about 630 am and it is about an hour from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. We saw and had breakfast at the interesting Viking museum on the way. They have a beautiful Viking ship replica inside. Then on to the city. After seeing some nice Icelandair hotels we checked into the Ion hotel. The location was great. I had a wonderful suite with a sauna and city view. We then visited Hallgrimskirkja the beautiful Lutheran cathedral and took a city tour. Dinner was on our own so we visited some of the fun pubs and nightlife for dinner. Who knew you could get some of the best pizza of your life in Reykjavik!

We were up early the next day to visit Krauma the geothermal baths. The experience was going between very hot baths then plunging into ice cold. I definitely felt invigorated! We enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Next on to Husafell Hotel, an amazing resort at the base of the glacier. We then got to go into the heart of a glacier. We tracked up the glacier in super Jeep’s with huge tires made for the climb. Inside the glacier was amazing. It was incredible to hear the history of glaciers in Iceland and how they are shrinking drastically due to climate change. The Husefel restaurant that evening was a treat with such fresh salmon and cod. We went to Thingvellir National park the next day to see some breathtaking waterfalls and geysers then on to Fridheimar Greenhouse. Iceland is famous for lots of greenhouses because of all the geothermal energy used to heat them. They grow the most delicious tomato’s. We were treated to a fantastic tomato soup and fresh bread lunch. On to more incredible waterfalls and lava fields. This night was my favorite hotel Hotel Ranga on the Eystri-ranga river. The rooms were so cozy and the views were astounding. This was one of the best places to see the northern lights. We enjoyed a fresh seafood experience that evening.

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I had a great opportunity to learn more about the American Cruise Line and enjoy a luxury cruise here in the United States. The American Cruise Line offers 35 itineraries that visit 30 different states. Itineraries range from the Pacific Northwest including the Columbia, the Snake, Puget Sound, the San Juan islands to Southeast Alaska; to the Mississippi River including New Orleans, the Cumberland and the Ohio Rivers; to New England along the Hudson River and the Maine Coast; to the southeast coastline of South Carolina and Georgia. There are numerous themed cruises also such as Lewis and Clark, Civil War, Fall Foliage, Music cruises, and food and wine cruises.

Their amenities include full size bathrooms, spacious staterooms, sliding glass balcony doors, elevator access, wifi, locally sourced ingredients for gourmet meals, breathtaking scenery and wildlife. A pre-cruise hotel was included right alongside the river, with a beautiful view of the American Song. Other inclusions are the tips and gratuities, a daily shore excursion, all meals and drinks. Nightly entertainment was also included with popcorn, ice cream sundaes and hot-out of the oven cookies.

My Columbia and Snake River cruise experience included a Lewis and Clark theme and a certified historian who traveled and shared his extensive knowledge of the area and the journey and the importance to the United States of this historic event. He added so much value to my experience and learning. We traveled along the geologically interesting Columbia River Gorge, saw historic sites of Astoria, Oregon; viewed Mount St Helens, Sacajawea State Park, visited the engineering marvels of the Dalles and the Bonneville Dam, and ascended the river through the locks. The beautiful Multnomah Falls are included in the sightseeing as is the REACH Museum which is in the area so vital to WWII and the development of plutonium and atomic bomb.

My American Cruise Line experience was so comfortable. Having an all-inclusive experience just heightens its attraction. The service was incredible as they would go out of their way to give you your perfect experience. The food was delicious, the scenery delightful, the entertainment for enjoyable and the historian was spectacular. This type of cruise is perfect for those who have travelled long and far, but now desire to stay closer to home yet still have a luxury experience. I would highly recommend this cruise line.

Julie Best

If I can help plan your next cruise or river cruise, please contact me:

Street: 1431 South State Street
City: Orem, UT 84020
Phone: 801.483.5230

Business Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

I can’t think of a better way to escape the cold Utah weather than a cruise to the Caribbean. In fact the Eastern Caribbean!

My recent travels took me aboard the beautiful Caribbean Princess sailing from Ft. Lauderdale. Along the way we made stops at Princess Cay, a private island belonging to Princess Cruises. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turks in Turks and Caicos.

Even though San Juan is an American Territory, they remain independent and are self-governed. Old San Juan is a beautiful city that is over 465 years old. It is surrounded by Ft. San Cristobal. The fort was completed in 1783 and was built to protect the city. Across the city hall, there is a monument depicting all of the US presidents that have visited San Juan.

Amber Cove is an area just outside of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It is a beautiful city that enjoys access to the Caribbean blue waters. You can enjoy the day swimming with dolphins, kayaking or just relaxing on the beach.

The Dominican Republic was discovered by Columbus’ flag ship, the Santa Maria in Christmas Eve 1492.

For me the highlight was in Turks & Cacos. I spent the day enjoying the turquoise blue water of the Caribbean, snorkeling & swimming. The highlight was spending time with the stingrays. With the help of our local guide, I actually held a stingray and gave it a kiss! It was a bit salty, but not something I will forget!

Princess Cruises is also in the process of converting their ships to the use of Medallions. Unlike traditional cards used on other cruise lines, these medallions will unlock your stateroom when you approach the door, help you order food and have it delivered to wherever you are on the ship and even find those you are sailing with if you get separated. The medallions are still a bit of a work in progress, but should make your cruise a much more smooth experience.

The best part was I came home with a little sun and ready to face the remaining winter days in Utah!

Susan Hatch

If I can help plan your next cruise, please contact me:

Street: 404 East 12300 South
City: Draper, UT 84020
Phone: 801.483.5228

Business Days:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Visiting Italy can be compared to stepping into your favorite gelato shop — everything looks so good and it can be hard to make a decision. There are so many choices, all so different, and yet all so delicious. There is something in the Gelateria, or the country of Italy, that appeals to everyone. And just like a good gelateria, Italy invites you back time and time again to try a new flavor.

For the first timer a visit to the “Big 3” is essential: Rome, Florence, and Venice. But realize that because they are the Big 3, there’s a good chance that everyone else had the same great idea. For this reason, by getting off the beaten path, even within these famous cities, you can find some hidden gems of Italy. I’ll share my thoughts on some of these hidden gems of Rome, Florence, and Venice and save the other tastes of Italy for another time.

A first timer’s visit to Rome will likely see the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica as well as the sights of Imperial Rome, but let me offer a suggestion for my favorite museum in Rome, the Museo Borghese. Nestled in the middle of the Villa Borghese, a large and beautiful city park sits the Museum Borghese, a 17th century Villa converted to a museum. The museum houses several famous and spectacular Bernini sculptures as well as an impressive collection of art including pieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Reubens. While the Museo Borghese is popular, the crowds are well managed with a required reservation and timed entry for all visitors. The museum is a comfortable size and the entire collection can be easily enjoyed in under two hours. It’s a pleasant break from the city and the crowds. Afterward you can reward yourself with a nice stroll or bike ride through the massive park and finish off the afternoon at the far end of the park in the Terrazza del Pincio. This Terrazza commands an impressive view of the city of Rome and the Piazza del Popolo below.

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We often equate September with back to school; a new start for learning. In September, my new learning wasn't going back to school, but rather going back to the Caribbean. Having been to the Caribbean many times both on cruises and destination vacations, I was excited to explore three new ports of call (two in never-before-visited countries) and a return to a port I visited over 20 years ago.

My fall getaway appropriately was on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship the Getaway. The ship, built in 2014, accommodates almost 4,000 guests, and yet there were plenty of activities, dining options and entertainment to make the ship feel comfortable and not crowded. The ship sails from Miami with stops in Mexico (twice), Belize, and Honduras and allows for a full day at the beginning and end of the cruise to enjoy sailing and relaxing on board the ship. Although shore excursions are offered in every port, I chose to forego the planned tours and enjoyed my time at the beach, poolside and shopping.

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