Unique Themed Cruise Brings Wine, Stars And Seminars

themed cruise wine
payhere/Flickr

Themed cruises are becoming more popular all the time as fans of (insert almost anything here) gather at sea. Music fans dominate the offerings with ships setting sail sold out with fans of Kid Rock, KISS, Blake Shelton and others each hosting their own theme cruise. Then there are fans of movies like the Turner Classic Movies cruise, now in its third year. Another one that caught our attention features music, wine and dining in a way that looks to epitomize what themed cruising is all about.

The Wine, Dine and Music cruise asks a simple question on its website: “Spend a weekend in wine country or a week on a wine cruise – you decide!” Appealing to someone who might go on a weeklong trek through California wine country, this one looks to be a good alternative that brings wine country to you. On your ship. In the Caribbean. With musical guests.Music
Featuring Kenny Loggins, Three Dog Night and others, the Wine, Dine and Music cruise will have nightly entertainment along with Meet ‘n Greet artist sessions and Jam sessions and special music performances on days at sea. For many theme cruise fans, that would be a week’s worth of fun. But there is more.

Wine
Each stateroom gets a free bottle of wine from each of the seven wineries also along for the ride, delivered nightly to their stateroom. Like a tour through wine country, the onboard programming also makes available wine tastings, wine seminars and wine club memberships. Focusing on specialty varietal wines in an experiential sort of way, those on the Wine, Music and Dining cruise are likely to meet and spend time with others sharing similar interests.

A central focus of this well planned themed sailing is to enjoy a gourmet meal paired with excellent wine, with others who appreciate the experience.

Dine
On the food front, the Wine, Dine and Music cruise features menus created by Chef John Ash (Author, From Earth To The Table), also known as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine,” as well as food tastings by Catherine Venturini (Chef-Owner, Olive & Vine), chef recipes and lectures.

Unique to this theme cruise, and something we have not seen before, is the combination of all three elements, Wine, Music and Dining, all on one sailing. Also included is all the regular onboard programming and features with prices starting at $1029 per person. That price compares favorably to a weeklong land vacation through California wine country, minus the vineyards, making the Wine, Dine and Music cruise a good choice for budget travel too.

Sailing November 9-16, 2013, on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, the seven-night itinerary includes Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico as well as Georgetown, Grand Cayman and three days at sea.

Cayman Islands launches solar-powered electric rental cars

solar powered electric carThe Cayman Islands are taking steps to preserve their fragile island ecosystem by launching a fleet of eco-friendly, electric Wheego rental vehicles and installing solar panel charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Grand Cayman.

The new stations, produced by U-Go, generate electricity using pollution-free solar cells, reducing carbon emissions to zero. Over the next year, 12 stations will be installed throughout Grand Cayman, the first in Governor’s Square. The initiative is part of a move toward nationwide Green Globe certification, an industry certification program for sustainable tourism. Members of the Green Globe alliance are recognized for saving energy and water resources, reducing operational costs and contributing positively to their environment and communities.

“We are thrilled to be able to introduce this technology to the Cayman Islands in an effort to further preserve our treasured ecosystem,” said Hon. McKeeva Bush, Premier of the Cayman Islands, in a release. “Our natural environment, including the Mastic Trail, the Blue Iguanas, and our pristine waters, is a source of national pride, which we plan to maintain for years to come. This development is crucial to our success.”

The Coconut Phone: A quirky luxury in Grand Cayman

grand cayman Have you ever been on vacation, laying under a palm tree on a white sandy beach with turquoise waters glistening beneath the sun, and thought about how a tropical cocktail would complement the moment perfectly? For those staying at the Ritz Carlton: Grand Cayman, there’s no need to remove yourself from your comfortable paradise as the hotel offers an amenity that will allow you to order drinks, lunch, and whole lot more right from your lounge chair on Seven Mile Beach: The Coconut Phone.

The Coconut Phone is a complimentary service for guests that allows them to type in and click exactly what they want to eat or drink and have it delivered right to their lounge chair. This sweet piece of technology also relieves the burden of having to bring a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to the beach, as the Coconut Phone is internet-capable and can be used to browse hotel services to make reservations for things like golf outings, the spa, and restaurants. And, since it is iPod Touch equipped, you can also enjoy listening to over 1,000 songs that are already stored on the device, which comes with a waterproof armband. Now, there’s no need to worry about ruining your gadgets at the beach.

For more information, visit the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman website.

Lonely Planet offers Halloween alternatives

Once you pass a certain age (read: enter middle school), the novelty of dressing up and going trick or treating grows old. That is, of course, excluding those who wait all year to dress up as a slutty nurse or Snooki from The Jersey Shore.

In fact, seasoned travelers know that the over-the-top portrayal of Halloween is rather limited to American culture, and that people from other countries often raise eyebrows when we describe our obsession with this admittedly pagan holiday.

So whether you’re traveling, looking for a reason to escape the costume circuit or simply seeking a reason to celebrate that doesn’t involve a skankalicious rendition of an otherwise admirable profession, we’ve found this great list from Lonely Planet of worthy Halloween alternatives.

From mid-October to early November, embrace the Dia de Muertos in Oaxcaca, Mexico, enjoy a classically English bonfire night in East Sussex, celebrate the Festival of the Horned One (sounds dangerous) in Italy, or practice your “talk like a pirate” skills at Pirates Week in the Grand Cayman.

And, of course, if you really want to dress up, Scott Carmichael has the season’s best travel-themed costume suggestions.

[Flickr via I am Rob]

Collect Marriott freebies with “Trick or Tweet” promotion

As Halloween approaches and the weather gets cooler, we realize that winter in the northern US, with its short hours of daylight and negative wind-chill factors, is just around the corner. Suddenly, it seems like there’s no better time to book a tropical vacation. If you’re thinking about a trip to a sunny island paradise, log in to Twitter and start following Marriott Resorts.

Now through the end of October, the company will be giving away daily coupons for perks at Marriott Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Even if you aren’t planning on traveling until the temps dip a little lower (or even until next year), you can still take advantage of the freebies. The vouchers are good through December 20, 2010.

All you need to do is follow Marriott Resorts on Twitter and watch for their “Trick or Tweet” tweets. Click the link and download your voucher, which will be good for deals like free drinks, free rounds of golf, discounted spa services and more. Each voucher is good at a specific resort, so follow along and collect the deals that work for you.

Free drinks in Grand Cayman or a cheap spa treatment in Aruba? I’m feeling warmer already.