Moon Palace Jamaica – All Inclusive Family Fun

I recently had the opportunity to join several of my fellow agents on a visit to Moon Palace Jamaica. I had the best time and wanted to share what makes this resort one of my top recommendations for clients.

When I say “All Inclusive,” I mean exactly that! There are multiple restaurants available for everything from a midnight snack to a delicious, upscale dining experience. All beverages are included. Non-motorized water sports are also included and they have a great variety of activities. Kids clubs, entertainment and gratuities are also part of the package.

Let’s talk food! If you are a foodie, you are going to love the variety of dining and menu options. Don’t worry if you are less than adventurous when it comes to eating – there is plenty there for you, too!

In addition to the delicious main dining venues – Gondola, Sundeck, Pier 8, Buccaneers and Momo – there is also a 24 hour Boulangerie that serves crepes, gelato, sweet treats and gourmet coffee, the Jerk Hut where you can get authentic Jamaica Jerk chicken, fish or pork, a pizza and panini shop and a sushi bar. Plus, 24 hour room service is included!

I may have spent a little too much time at the Boulangerie, but it was just so good! We also dined at Momo’s, which is a Japanese dining experience. We had a blast!

Pier 8 offers delicious seafood. I tried the grilled octopus and it was out of this world. The Sundeck pizza was another personal favorite, but nothing measures up to that delicious Jerk fish that was my go to poolside lunch each day.

If you are looking for a beautiful beach to relax on or play in, Moon Palace definitely fits the bill. They have the largest private beach in Ocho Rios. While the beach is not huge, it does offer beautiful blue water and soft sand. There is also a second beach area where you can choose to paddle board, kayak, aqua trike and more.

If you prefer to just chill by the pool, you can choose one of three beautiful pools. The kids can enjoy a splash pad, water slide, or Flowrider if they want to add some adventure to their day.

Speaking of the kids, the resort features complimentary kids clubs. For kids ages 4 to 12, The Playroom has games and organized activities to keep them occupied.

Teenagers have their own space where they can enjoy non-alcoholic cocktails, gaming and other activities.

On this visit, I stayed in a Deluxe Resort View room. The room was beautiful, but if I were to return to this resort, I would definitely choose an Oceanview room. All rooms include a mini-bar with complimentary juice, water, soda and beer.

My favorite part of any Palace Resort stay is the complimentary hydrotherapy treatment. You can actually schedule multiple sessions at the onsite spa.

Hydrotherapy is a guided journey that includes hot and cold experiences to open your pores and encourage relaxation. Additional Spa treatments are available at an additional cost.

Moon Palace Jamaica is also home to Dolphin Cove. A dolphin experience is an added cost, but it such a great experience. I loved that it was onsite and didn’t require a transfer.

I spent an hour learning about the 2 dolphins assigned to us. We got to hug them and shake their fins before experiencing a foot push and swimming on their bellies. It was absolutely amazing!

Moon Palace is located super close to many of the most popular activities in Jamaica. This visit I experienced Mystic Mountain Adventure Park. We took the ski lift to the top of the mountain and got to ride the Jamaican Bobsled. It was a total blast and the views were breathtaking.

Mystic Mountain has so much to do. There’s a ropes course, rock wall, ziplining and more. I definitely recommend a day at Mystic Mountain when in Jamaica.

If you have never visited Jamaica, I can’t say enough about how friendly the people are and how beautiful the resorts. I am a Jamaica Vacation Specialist and would love to help you plan your next exciting vacation.

Assemble for an Epic Day at Sea!

I just returned from what has to be my favorite cruise to date! My family and I spent 5 Nights onboard the Disney Magic. This particular sailing featured Marvel Day at Sea and it was awesome!

I am a huge fan of Disney Cruise Line. Being able to see your favorite characters while enjoying the service level you expect from Disney is a no-brainer for me. The food is outstanding, the crew members go above and beyond, there is non-stop entertainment and of course, their incredible private island, Castaway Cay.

A Disney cruise is never a hard sell for me personally, but when you add the Avengers to the mix, I can be packed and ready to go in no time!

Although Marvel Day at Sea wasn’t officially happening until Day 3 of our sailing, I wanted to get in the mood right away. I surprised my kids by ordering the Marvel Day at Sea room decorations. It was so fun to open the door and see our favorite Superheroes there to greet us.

After two great days at sea, we were all super excited for the big day! My family absolutely loves Breakfast. We are never up for very long before we eat, but on Marvel Day at Sea, breakfast had to wait! There were Avengers to meet and we were ready!

We started our day with Black Widow, Hawkeye and Captain America! They were on point and so much fun to interact with!

Throughout the day, we met with Thor, Spiderman, Gamora, Starlord, Groot, Iron Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and my personal favorite, Loki. We had the best time chatting with them and watching them play off of each other. It was a very cool experience!

The fun didn’t stop with Meet & Greets. There were trivia games and activities scheduled throughout the day. Marvel movies played continuously all day in the beautiful Buena Vista Theatre. There was also a USO Musical Review with a special guest for the finale and a demonstration of the Mystical Arts with Doctor Strange.

In addition to the activities, there were specially themed menus in the dining rooms and quick service locations. Our dinner that night took place at Animator’s Palate and the dining room had been transformed for the celebration.

There were two fun, but very different, superhero shows on the pool deck. During the afternoon, Mickey and friends appeared dressed as their favorite superheroes and talked about the qualities of a superhero. It was absolutely adorable.

At the end of the night, the Avengers defended the ship against Loki and the Red Skull in an action packed show featuring fireworks and Superheroes flying in from upper decks and funnels.

Marvel Day at Sea is available on select sailings from January- March. If you are an Avengers Fan, I highly recommend it. Between all of the activities offered on all Disney Cruises and this special day, you will not regret booking one of these specialty cruises.

Holiday Sailing with Royal Caribbean

This Thanksgiving my family and I had the pleasure to sail Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.

We boarded in Port Canaveral on Thanksgiving day and spent 5 days enjoying everything this fun ship has to offer. Before boarding we had to provide proof of vaccination, as well as a negative COVID test. The process was very simple. Your vaccination card can be uploaded to the Royal Caribbean app prior to sailing day.

Current guidelines require all guests to test no more than 2 days prior to boarding. Be sure to contact your travel professional for the current requirements and accepted tests. We were visiting Universal Orlando prior to our cruise and took advantage of the Home test kit offered by Royal Caribbean. The process was quick and easy. You perform the test under the guidance of a virtual assistant and receive your printable results within minutes.

With 5 Negative tests in hand, we were ready to board! We arrived at the port at our scheduled time, answered a health questionnaire, received our vaccination bracelets and boarded quickly and easily.

Mariner of the Seas is a smaller ship in the Royal Fleet, but there is no shortage of fun activities! We spent our first few hours exploring the ships, grabbing snacks and visiting our stateroom.

I loved this ship and the size. It made getting around so easy and we also got to know the crew so quickly. They were all so friendly and so happy to be back to cruising!

Mariner of the Seas had an overhaul in 2018. Some of the additions include:

  • Sky Pad bungee trampoline experience
  • The Perfect Storm waterslides
  • Laser Tag: Battle for Planet Z
  • Escape Room: The Observatorium

In addition to the new activities, the ship also offers Flowrider Surf Simulator, mini golf, Rock Climbing, and a sports court.

Of course, when people think of cruising, they think of FOOD! Mariner of the Seas did not disappoint! As a musical theatre geek, I was OBSESSED with the Main Dining Room as soon as I realized that it was themed for “The Sound of Music.” It was just beautiful!

We enjoyed the dining room each night, as well as for breakfast on a few mornings. Some of our favorites included the Traditional Turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, Prime Rib, Shrimp Cocktail and Royal Cheesecake.

Other dining options include Windjammers – a buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, The Dog House – with a delicious variety of hot dogs, and the Cafe Promenade for pizza, gourmet coffees, salads and light snacks. Specialty dining is offered at Johnny Rockets, Izumi (Hibachi and Sushi), Jamie Oliver’s Italian and Chops Grille.

I can’t talk about this cruise without talking about Royal Caribbean’s unbelievable Private Island, CoCo Cay! It truly is the Perfect Day that Royal promises!

Coco Cay is an island like no other! There are multiple beach areas, private cabanas, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean – complete with a swim up bar, and Thrill Island Waterpark – home to water slides, a wave pool, Up, Up and Away Hot Air Balloon, ziplining and more! There are splash areas for the little ones and options for delicious food! I literally never wanted to leave!

I have to give a shout out to the Mariner’s great Kids’ Clubs. My boys had so much fun during our sailing. They actually spent quite a bit of time hanging out in the clubs. The team had great activities planned that really kept them engaged. There were card games, trivia, dances and scavenger hunts. The rooms also have gaming systems.

Royal offers Kid’s Clubs for a variety of ages and there is no additional fee.

While the kids kept themselves entertained at Fuel, the adults enjoyed the adults only Solarium by day and the Casino, shows and lounges by night. It seemed that there was always a trivia game happening somewhere. Mariner also offers an Ice Skating show, as well as Broadway style entertainment throughout the sailing. There was never a dull moment.

Overall, I would be happy to sail the Mariner of the Seas again. I loved seeing the holiday transformation that took place overnight. The ship looked even more beautiful than it did when we first stopped on and we had a great experience from start to finish.

Changes to Walt Disney World Vacations

I always say the only constant at Walt Disney World is change. I know a lot of people don’t like change, but with a company as large as Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, it really is inevitable. In this post I’m going to share a few changes that have recently been made and some that are on the horizon.

First, let’s talk about the new Genie system. This is replacing FastPasses at all Disney parks.

Disney Genie is a complimentary service to all guests with vacation packages, tickets, or annual passes. You can access this service through your My Disney Experience app by visiting the Disney Genie Service on your home page or visiting the “Tip Board” or “My Day” on the menu page. 

The “Tip Board” option is more generalized with current ride wait times, show times, forecasted wait times for rides and dining options with next available mobile order windows and restaurants with walk-up lists available.

The “My Day” option is more personalized with live updates throughout the day based on your favorite rides, enchanting extras, and personal dining reservations.

Genie+ is an additional service available for purchase within Disney Genie! 

LIGHTING LANE ATTRACTIONS- At a price of $15 per ticket per day (plus tax), gain flexible access to expedited lines at over 40 attractions. Unlike FastPasses, you do not have to make your choices months in advance. This new system will give you day-of planning capabilities to access the Lightning Lane at your favorite rides and attractions.

All guests have the ability to begin their selection of Lightning Lane attractions beginning at 7:00 AM and you can only ride each Lightning Lane attraction ONCE per day.

There are individual attractions available for purchase too! This service will allow you to purchase and reserve a specific ride time for the two most popular attractions inside each park not included with Disney Genie+.

Onsite DISNEY RESORT GUESTS can access Individual attraction selections beginning at 7:00 AM on each day of your park visit. Guests not staying at a Disney Resort will have the option to purchase individual attractions at the time of park open.

One of my favorite changes is the brand new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot. I was fortunate enough to ride this attraction twice during my last visit and it is so fun! It’s definitely a Must-Do for me now. And while in the France pavilion, be sure to try out the brand new Creperie! They have sweet and savory crepes that are absolutely delicious!

Next up, let’s talk about extra time in the parks! All onsite Disney Resort guests receive 30 minute early park admission. This may not sound like a lot, but it makes getting some of the most popular attractions out of the way super convenient. It also allows for some great photos without a ton of people in the background.

Taken last month at Animal Kingdom during early admission.

WDW recently announced Extended Evening Hours for guests of Disney Deluxe Resorts. This perk provides guests with an additional 2 hours after posted closing times to enjoy Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Hours and availability vary based on date.

Lastly, Disney announced earlier this year that it’s complimentary Magical Express service between Orlando International Airport and Disney Resorts is being discontinued for 2022. Guests will now need to find their own transportation to and from the airport. Transportation between the parks and resorts is still complimentary.

We do work with multiple vendors who will be offering shuttle service. This is a service I provide to my clients so that they are not stressing themselves out trying to figure out their transportation.

With fireworks and Meet & Greets returning, new entertainment, tasty treats specially designed for the 50th Anniversary and more attractions opening, 2022 is going to be a great time to visit Walt Disney World!

Contact me for a No-Obligation Quote or to learn more about my complimentary, expert planning services!

Returning to Disney Cruise Line

I recently had the amazing opportunity to sail with Disney Cruise Line on one of their first return voyages. It was absolutely Magical, which came as no surprise to me.

My son and I, along with one of my agent friends, spent 3 nights onboard the Disney Dream.

While the experience is basically the same great experience you would have had pre-COVID, there are a few changes worth noting.

First, Disney Cruise Line is requiring all guests over the age of 12 be fully vaccinated prior to sailing and take a COVID-19 test upon embarkation. Guests 11 years old and under are not required to be vaccinated but must take a pre-trip rapid PCR test or lab-based PCR test for COVID-19, as well as a rapid COVID-19 test upon embarkation.

Proof of vaccination must be uploaded to the Safe Passage website prior to sailing.

Once you have uploaded all of your information, you can choose a port arrival time. Port arrival times are being strictly enforced.

For this trip, we drove from our Orlando hotel to Port Canaveral. We were able to pull up and unload our luggage with a DCL porter and were directed to the garage. Once in, there were a series of steps to check in. Your QR check-in code is scanned and your information is reviewed. If a test needs to be administered, one can be done right in your vehicle and you will await the test results in your car before you can board.

Once you arrive at the terminal, you wait in line for check in, receive your boarding group number and then proceed through security. You then head up to the main waiting area and anxiously await your group to be called!

**Masks must be worn at the terminal and at all indoor locations on the ship.

The process is quick and simple. Having completed the health questionnaire and registration online really streamlines the entire process.

Once onboard, the Magic really begins! There is absolutely nothing like the greeting you receive when boarding a Disney ship. A crew member asks for your Family name and then announces you to the crew waiting to greet you with applause.

As part of the new safety protocols, guests are escorted to a dot and only a few parties are admitted at a time. Captain Mickey and Captain Minnie welcome everyone with a song and then you are free to explore the ship!

This particular sailing was Halloween on the High Seas. That means Halloween themed decor, characters in adorable Halloween costumes, and fun activities such as Mickey’s Mousequerade Party! Guests are encouraged to wear costumes for the party, as well. Our group dressed up as Dipper, Mabel and Wendy from “Gravity Falls.”

The ships are currently sailing at reduced capacity, which means character interaction is outstanding! There are no long lines and your favorite princesses can be spotted sitting on the floor chatting with their youngest fans for several minutes at a time. We never walked through the Atrium or sat by the pool without seeing and interacting with a variety of characters.

The entertainment was on point. We had a great time playing games, doing beverage seminars for adults, watching fireworks at Sea, taking in first run movies and so much more.

The Kids Clubs are up and running with some modifications. The clubs for kids under 12 do require reservations at this point. My son went to the teen club, Edge, and they didn’t have any restrictions.

Of course, you can’t talk about cruising without discussing food. When sailing with DCL, you are assigned a rotation of the three main dining rooms. On the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, those dining rooms are Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate. Your wait staff follows you to each dining experience.

In addition to your Main dining rooms, there is also a buffet, poolside options, and cafes. Crew members are currently serving you at the buffet as part of the new safety protocols.

The food is so delicious. I always miss it for at least a week when I return!

My favorite part of any Disney Cruise vacation is a stop at their private island, Castaway Cay. The island offers adults only areas, a delicious buffet, a wide variety of excursions and activities and a beautiful beach.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time back on the Disney Dream and can’t wait to get back to sailing as soon as possible.

I highly recommend taking advantage of the reduced capacity right now! Disney Cruise Line has last minute availability for Halloween on the High Seas or a Very Merrytime Cruise for 2021. Looking to sail in 2022? I can assist with that as well!

Spending the Day at Disney’s Grand Floridian

Last week I checked a major item off of my Disney Bucket List! I finally stayed at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and it was everything I wanted it to be and more!

The Grand Lobby

In years past, I have enjoyed character dining here and walked the grounds during training with my agency, but I had never been able to enjoy the resort as a guest. If there is one tip I would give guests of the Grand Floridian, it is to make sure you build in at least one Resort day! You will not regret it!

So what would a resort day at the Grand Floridian look like?

Well, you can start your day with breakfast on your patio or head over to Gasparilla Island Grill, the onsite quick service option. If you like to kick off your day with a large breakfast, then you should definitely head straight to the Grand Floridian Cafe. We enjoyed brunch during our trip and I finally had the famous Chicken and Waffles! They were delicious and I was stuffed!

Once you decide to venture out to the resort, there is no shortage of activities. Grand Floridian is home to some great shopping- from fun souvenirs, to bath and body care to clothing and jewelry.

Of course, my favorite way to spend my Resort day is sitting by the pool. Grand Floridian has two beautiful pools to choose from. The Beach Pool has a fun water slide and cabanas you can rent for the day. They also have a fun Alice in Wonderland themed splash area for kids.

The second pool is the Courtyard Pool. This is where you can find the hot tub, which is the perfect place to end a long day on your feet at the parks!

Both pools offer poolside bar and grills. Order lunch and a fun, fruity beverage and relax the afternoon away!

Activities are available for kids and adults to enjoy throughout the day. You can find a schedule in the hotel lobby and also posted around the resort. Anything from lawn games to trivia to Movies on the Lawn or a search for the White Rabbit’s Pocket Watch.

Once you are ready for dinner, you can choose quick service or room service again or up your game and enjoy Citricos or Disney’s Signature Dining Experience, Victoria & Albert’s. Follow dinner with a drink at the Enchanted Rose, a beautiful Beauty and the Beast themed lounge.

Narcoossee’s makes a perfect date night with delicious seafood and stunning views of Seven Seas Lagoon.

1900 Park Fare is a family favorite. We love both of the character meals offered for breakfast and dinner. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, 1900 Park Fare has not reopened. Once it does, it would make a great start to your day or a fun family dinner!

As you wind down your evening, be sure to stake out a spot to watch the fireworks! You can see Magic Kingdom’s firework show from multiple spots at the resort and the music is piped in. It is the perfect way to end a Resort day!

This picture doesn’t do justice to our view of the castle.

As you can see, Grand Floridian is practically a vacation in and of itself. I can’t say enough about the incredible location (walk to the Magic Kingdom on the brand new path).

Beginning October 1, guests of Deluxe Resorts will not only receive early park entry, but they will also receive extended evening hours! This new perk comes right in time for the 50th Anniversary Celebration!

Enjoy a quick walkthrough of our Garden View Room and then reach out to me for a no-obligation quote.

https://forms.gle/f1R4LVqufEWks6nE9

Avengers Assemble at Disneyland

Last week my family experienced the All New Avengers Campus at Disneyland’s California Adventure. It was everything we hoped for and more! If you are an Avengers fan, a trip to California definitely needs to be on your Bucket List.

The Avengers Campus has so much to see and do that you could easily spend a full day exploring! From unique dining options to rides and shows to Meet & Greets with your favorite Avengers, the excitement never ends.

On our first day at the Campus, we were able to ride Web Slingers. This is an amazing ride that takes you on an adventure with Spiderman. The attraction requires that you enter a Virtual Queue. You have two opportunities to enter the queue each day. I followed the tips that I provide my clients and we were able to secure a spot every day of our trip!

If you are not familiar with the virtual queue, it is basically confirmation that you will get to ride that day. You are assigned a boarding group and once your number is called, you can go join the physical line. This process is the same as what is being used for Rise of the Resistance at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

One of the coolest things to do at Avengers Campus is to sit back and observe. You never know who might walk by or appear on the balcony at Avengers Headquarters or when Spiderman might swing from building to building above you.

There are also shows throughout the day. Peter Quill and Gamora host a dance show several times a day in front of the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride.

Dr. Strange invites guests to join him at the Ancient Sanctum where he shares secrets of the Mystic Arts. You may even encounter a surprise guest Avenger!

Even the food at Avengers Campus is an adventure! We had a great breakfast at Pym’s Test Kitchen, but breakfast, dinner and snacks are available throughout the day.

The theory behind the test kitchen is that using shrink-and-grow technology of Pym Particles, Ant-Man and The Wasp lead a team of chefs to create a menu packed with oversized snacks and tiny treats.

Adults should also be sure to make a stop at the Pym Testing Lab to try one of the innovative beer cocktails and craft beers!

Looking for a quick snack or soda? The Schawarma Palace is a favorite stop for the Avengers. Grab a wrap, a soda and your own personal gauntlet at one of two different locations.

Now, back to those Meet & Greets! We met so many Avengers over the course of our time at the Campus and every interaction was so fun!

My personal favorite was Loki, but honestly, they were all perfect.

Another fun activity at Avengers Campus is finding the photo ops! You can pose with Miss Minutes, star in your own TV show at the WandaVision Op, fall into the world of Dr. Strange, check out Sam’s new shield and wings or pose with a classic Disney Friend in their Avengers Best!

If you want to experience this incredible new land at California Adventure, be sure to contact me to book your visit. I will share all of my tips and tricks with you for Avengers Campus, as well as the rest of Disneyland and California Adventure!

There is never a fee for my service, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by working with an expert! Contact me via email at Jen.mcgurn@marvelousmousetravels or submit a quote request at https://forms.gle/cwiG9grDGrs78px58

Traveling with Man’s Best Friend

Every year thousands of Americans pack for vacations that include the family dog!

According to a Feb. 2021 article by Roanoke.com, an estimated 78% of pet owners travel with their pets each year. With this trend increasing and summer travel in full swing, it seemed like the perfect time to offer some tips for traveling with Fido, as well as sharing a few of the most dog friendly areas to visit.

Enjoying a hike in PA with our dog, Emmett.

If you are going to travel with your dog, it is always a good idea to do a few practice day trips. This will help get your dog used to being in the car for a few hours at a time and help you develop good owner habits so that you are prepared for longer journeys.

Of course, there are the obvious essentials you will need such as clean water, food and water bowls, a leash and collar, but you will also want to bring a few things from home to help make the transition easier on your dog.

Packing a favorite blanket and a few toys from home will help your pet feel less anxious in a new environment.

Be sure to have your dog’s collar with name tags on at all times. If something should happen and you are separated from your pet, you want to be sure you can be contacted.

With so many people traveling with their pets, it is becoming much easier to find pet friendly lodging. A wide variety of rental homes are available and many hotels even offer a welcome kit for your furry friend!

Always be sure to read the fine print! Not every dog-friendly hotel will welcome your 80 pound German Shepard! Additionally, many hotels have strict rules about leaving your dogs unattended in the hotel room. Be sure you are familiar with the policies and can plan accordingly.

Should you find yourself wanting to spend a day at an attraction that isn’t dog friendly, check out the Wag or Rover apps! These apps help you locate dog sitters and walkers in a variety of areas!

Also consider a doggie day camp. Many destinations have kennels where Fido can play, relax and be pampered while you enjoy your day.

Walt Disney World is just one example. They offer Best Friends Pet Care where your pet can spend a day, a night or even a few nights.

Some vacations lend themselves better to bringing your four-legged friend along. Websites such as http://www.bringfido.com are great resources for researching the most dog friendly destinations. And of course, your travel agent can also be helpful in finding the perfect fit for you and your pet.

Here are just a few beautiful Dog-friendly destinations to consider.

Old Town Alexandria, VA

Named one of the Top 10 Dog-Friendly Destinations by Expedia, Old Town Alexandria offers a wide variety of dog friendly restaurants and shops, as well as plenty of lodging options. From the multiple dog parks, to an actual Canine Cruise on the Potomac and a walking trail at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, there is plenty to keep the humans and dogs busy!

Sedona, Arizona

With the beautiful backdrop of red rock country, several of Sedona’s best hiking trails are dog-friendly. Many of the hotels welcome well behaved pets and there are more than enough dog-friendly dining options to choose from. Enjoy dining on the patio while taking in breath-taking views.

Sedona also has a large Dog Park with separate areas for large dogs, small dogs, and even senior dogs get their own space. The park also offers a large, fenced area for off-leash hiking.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor is one of the most welcoming cities – even allowing dogs on its buses and is another city that welcomes dog on a boat cruise!

Maine’s Bar Harbor is minutes away from Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre wilderness with more than 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails along the coast.

Florida Beach Bum

Beach towns tend to be very dog-friendly and the towns in Florida are no exception.

Splash in the waves, search for seashells, or take a jog on the beach. With a wide variety of private rental homes, as well as hotels and resorts that welcome pets, you and Fido are sure to have a great time relaxing in the sunshine.

Oyster.com ranks the following beaches as the most popular dog-friendly options in Florida.

  1. Brohard Paw Park, Venice.
  2. Bonita Beach Dog Park, Fort Myers Beach.
  3. Davis Islands Dog Park Beach, Tampa. …
  4. Fort DeSoto Park Beach, Tierra Verde. …
  5. Jupiter Beach, Jupiter. …
  6. New Smyrna Beach’s Dog Park, New Smyrna Beach. …
  7. Canova Beach, Indialantic. …
  8. Doggie Beach, Panama City Beach.

So, tell me, do you travel with your dog? If so, is there a favorite destination you recommend?

Beaches Ocho Rios – A Family Vacation in Paradise

Hello fellow travelers!

My family and I recently returned from an incredible stay at Beaches Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

If you have never experienced an All-Inclusive Resort, you are truly missing out. I compare it to a cruise on land, but there are certainly some key differences.

From the moment you clear customs in Jamaica, you are treated like royalty. You are welcomed to the private Sandals/Beaches lounge where you are served complimentary beverages and snacks while you await your complimentary shuttle to your resort.

Upon arrival at your resort, you are greeted with cool wash clothes and ushered to the lobby for check in. If you are booked at the concierge level, a staff member will bring champagne for the adults and juice for the kids and you will be checked in privately. You are then escorted to your room and given an overview of your room and resort policies.

Our room was absolutely beautiful with such an incredible view. This is one major difference between cruising and staying in a resort. The rooms are so large! We are a family of 5 and we had plenty of room.

We stayed in a Concierge Caribbean Honeymoon OceanView Suite. We had a King bed, a trundle bed that slept two and then a rollaway for the 5th person. All of the beds were very comfortable and even with the rollaway in our room, we still had plenty of space.

Let’s talk about all of the fun activities available to you! From sun up to sun down, you can stay as busy as you like or just relax on the beach or at the swim up bar.

Each Beaches Resort differs in the activities offered, but all have plenty of options for all members of the family, including the Sesame Street gang appearing for a variety of activities and complimentary Kid’s Clubs.

At Ocho Rios, there are multiple tennis courts and even a tennis pro who will play with you or your kids if they need a partner. There is a basketball court, an Xbox lounge, shuffleboard, croquette and more. Golf at a world-class golf course is also included.

In the evenings, the Beaches staff entertains with musicals, game shows, karaoke, trivia and more. We had a blast!

Of course, no visit to Beaches is complete without water sports and activities! From Pirate Island WaterPark to snorkeling to a Glass Bottom Boat tour and everything in between, there are so many fun activities to book during your stay!

I can’t talk about Beaches without talking about the FOOD! All food and beverages are included with your stay and you are never more than a few steps away from a delicious cocktail, decadent snack or 5 Star Gourmet meal.

Beaches Ocho Rios offers 3 Main Restaurants for Dinner, as well as Bayside Skillet for Breakfast and lunch. They also have a BBQ and Pizza restaurant right beside the main pool, a 24 hour coffee bar, a piano bar and multiple walk up bars on property. Our family especially enjoyed the Creperie. The creperie offers sweet crepes, savory crepes, smoothies, milkshakes and hand-crafted coffee beverages. We stopped there at least once a day.

I’ve shared a lot of the free activities that are included, but there are a few optional activities you can add to enhance your vacation.

Beaches and Sandals Resorts are home to Red Lane Spa. The spas offer a wide variety of body treatments for individuals and couples. On this trip, I booked myself a Coconut Pineapple Body Scrub. It was heavenly!

The resort offers a complimentary photo shoot, however the photos are extra. Current pricing starts at $18 per photo and multiple packages are also available. Our photographer, Linval, was awesome! He was so fun and even let my older son and husband take some playful photos. We ended up with some really beautiful photo memories of our vacation.

Another extra we enjoyed was a Sesame Street Breakfast. We had the best time. Each of the characters come out for pictures and they dance and play with guests. Current pricing starts at $12 per adult.

It is definitely worth mentioning that all Beaches Resorts are Certified Autism Centers. They were the first All-inclusive Resorts to receive this certification. In addition to highly trained staff members, Beaches also offer special activities with Julia from Sesame Street. Julia is a fairly new Sesame Street friend with Autism.

Lastly, I have to mention the incredible staff. We didn’t encounter anyone who wasn’t super friendly, but there were several who stood out, who went above and beyond.

My older son injured his foot on our second day and we had to spend some time in the nurse’s office. A manager stayed with us, the nurse was wonderful and we felt safe and reassured throughout the entire experience. Word got out pretty quickly and the Kid’s Camp staff came to check on him. His favorite beach bar servers asked him about his foot every time they saw him for the rest of the trip. Management called our room to check on him. I was so impressed with everyone from check-in to check out.

This was easily one of our favorite family vacations.

It is always a great idea to book your vacation with a travel professional who can help you prepare for visiting another country, let you know what to expect and make recommendations. It is even more important right now as COVID restrictions continue to change and required documentation changes on a regular basis.

Beaches Resorts can be booked through 2023 with just a $98 deposit! If you are interested in a no obligation quote or more information, please reach out to me at Jen.mcgurn@marvelousmousetravels.com

Traveling to Orlando with New Guidelines

Who would have thought even just 6 months ago that we would still be facing ever-changing requirements to travel?

Even as sailings get canceled, masks are required just about every where you go and COVID tests are being required to leave and return to your home state, it is absolutely possible to travel safely IF- and only IF – you feel ready.

If you have been following this blog, you know that I have visited a few different destinations since July. Each time I have traveled I chose to test before and after and also self-quarantined. Now, that is no longer a choice, but a requirement in most states.

The great thing about that is that testing is much more accessible than it was initially and in many places, it is free! Orlando now has several testing sites to make it convenient to fly home knowing you are negative.

The Walt Disney World Resort is currently offering Free Rapid Testing.

The Maingate Complex Testing Site is run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. It is walk-up only so there are no appointments. Hours are from 8AM to 5PM daily. Depending on when you visit, your wait time could exceed 2 hours, so I recommend going as close to your departure as possible, but not on a Park day.

This is state run and funded. So no cost. No insurance needed.

Another great option is the onsite Rapid Testing at Orlando International Airport. Appointments are accepted for this option and there is a $65 fee. As with the Disney testing, you will have your results within minutes!

Orlando is full of testing sites throughout the area. Some are free and some are not. If you are visiting Universal Resorts, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove or another destination, just be sure to check for the closest site. You can drive or Uber/Lyft to whichever site works best for you.

I always provide a list of testing sites to my clients prior to travel so that they don’t have to worry about figuring that out once they arrive.

As far as the parks themselves, not much has changed from my previous blog post. Masks are still required. Social distancing continues and hand sanitizer/hand washing stations are readily accessible.

At Walt Disney World, temperature checks take place prior to entering the parks and Disney Springs. When visiting Universal, your temperature is checked daily at your resort and you are given a wrist band to show you have been checked. If you are ticket only, your temperature is checked at security before entering.

The nice thing is that while the parks continue to operate at reduced capacity, many of the experiences that guests look forward to are back or scheduled to return in the near future.

Universal has brought back its popular Nighttime Cinematic Spectacular and it is just as amazing as ever!

Disney World has added new dining and shopping options. On my last visit, I visited a few of these new spots. I think my new favorite has to be the cookies at Gideon’s Bakehouse! These half pound cookies are out of this world!

I also enjoyed a visit to the new M & M Store and Everglazed, a gourmet doughnut shop.

One great way to not only take your trip to the next level, but also reduce your time standing in lines or navigating crowds, is to add a VIP Experience at Universal Studios.

The Experience includes breakfast and lunch and gives you behind the scenes and front of the line access. Your private tour guide works with you to create the experience you want on a private tour. The non-private tour has a more set itinerary, but your guide will definitely ask for input.

Throughout our 8 hour tour, we rode every single ride in the park, toured the Mardi Gras Tribute Store, enjoyed two delicious meals and learned a lot.

The highlight for me was riding Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure twice – with zero wait! Amazing!

There is no doubt that travel looks different right now, but it is absolutely possible to do it if you want to. Using a travel professional is more important now than it has ever been. There have been so many horror stories about people being left at the airport without proper documentation needed to visit a particular island. People are spending hours on hold trying to change reservations or get refunds. Requirements and guidelines for testing and return to your home state continue to change.

Reach out to me for assistance with navigating all of these changes.