Archive for Europe

Does a Custom Boutique Journey Fit Your Travel Style? 01 Aug 2016

Italy, Custom Travel, GondolaWould you describe yourself as an independent traveler – prefer to have flexibility in your schedule, look for more off-the-beaten path or unique experiences and/or avoid traveling in a group?  If you answer yes to any of these, you may find that a tailor-made itinerary will fulfill your travel dreams infinitely more than a mainstream vacation such as a cruise, resort stay or escorted tour package. So, what exactly is a custom journey? It is an itinerary designed to fit your desired length of time, available budget, choice of accommodations, preferred sightseeing elements and yearned-for experiences. It should include enough structure so as not to waste time, but allow free time for spontaneous moments to explore on your own.

If you enjoy cruising, you may want to consider personalizing your cruise with private shore excursions or adding time before and/or after your cruise in or near your cities of embarkation and disembarkation. For example, a river cruise starting or ending in Budapest could be enriched by adding on additional time in Budapest as well as time in the countryside exploring its delicious wine region. Perhaps you share an interest with other enthusiasts such as biking, golf, cooking or wine-tasting and would enjoy traveling with them focusing on this interest? This is a perfect fit for a custom-designed itinerary to meet the needs of these travelers. Or, perhaps your extended family want to celebrate the holidays or a milestone anniversary while vacationing yet differing interests and ages need to be considered? There really is no limit to creating a journey that best achieves your travel goals.

Gateway Destinations specializes in custom boutique journeys to all international destinations, Alaska and Hawaii. Call owner, Jan Acorn, at 602-923-1542 for your complimentary 20-minute consultation to discuss how you can elevate your travel experience.
Categories : Blog, Custom Tours, Europe
Comments Comments Off on Does a Custom Boutique Journey Fit Your Travel Style?

Croatia and its Beautiful Adriatic Coast 01 Jun 2016

Steeped in tumultuous history with walled fortresses and intact Croatiaremains of Roman palaces and amphitheaters, there is a lot to be discovered and enjoyed in Croatia.  Its three major cities are very diverse and all should be included in your travels.  The capital of Zagreb is filled with museums, outdoor markets, art galleries and has a world-class orchestra, with castles dotting the surrounding countryside.  Split, a UNESCO treasure strategically located on the Dalmatian Coast, is a major ferry port and boasts a 1700 year-old Diocletian Palace that is still very much in tact today.  The old town of Dubrovnik is like stepping back in time and has become a popular cruise port and is filled with restaurants, shops and an outdoor market.

croatiaAn inland “must-see” venue to enjoy nature is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which offers much scenic beauty and a contrast to the major cities with its waterfalls and 16 lakes.  This can be enjoyed on your way to another area of Croatia, but really warrants a few days to enjoy hiking, boating, swimming and much more.  The peninsula of Istria offers great hiking, biking, wine tasting and truffles.  Experiencing Croatia, however, requires getting out to some of the over 1000 islands.  Regularly scheduled car ferries go to the major islands such as Hvar and Korcula (and also to the ports of Venice and Acona, Italy), but the best way is by private speed yacht or gullet boat, which gives you flexibility to visit a number of islands.  Enjoy great swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing as well as great seafood and delicious local wines.  If you enjoy fresh oysters, you can visit the oyster beds in Ston by small boat and dine on fresh oysters harvested and opened right in front of you!

Croatia is a good value compared to a lot of other destinations in Europe and is a safe destination with friendly, welcoming people.  The ideal time to visit is May and early June or mid-September through October.   Call us to find out how my host for a recent week-long visit, Leonidas Travel, can customize a journey to suit your interests and budget!

Categories : Blog, Custom Tours, Europe
Comments Comments Off on Croatia and its Beautiful Adriatic Coast

Ultimate Luxury at Sea 01 May 2016

While mass-market cruise ships just keep getting bigger, boutique cruise lines maintain their smaller ship size while elevating luxury to new heights by adding new ships, updating existing ones and including more and more services and amenities.  For those of you who appreciate cruising in luxury, here are some exciting developments available with three of the leading cruise lines.

Touted as the most luxurious cruise ship at sea, the Seven Seas Explorer sets sail in July 2016 and will become the fourth ship in Regent Seven Seas’ fleet.  This all-suite, all-balcony ship holds 750 passengers and offers four gourmet restaurants, Gourmet Explorer tours coupled with a culinary arts kitchen for hands-on cooking lessons, and a Canyon Ranch Spa.  Exclusive to the Explorer are a variety of suite choices including the new Regent Suite boasting 3875 square feet with two bedrooms, butler service, private car and driver in every port and en-suite spa with unlimited spa services!  Who will want to leave their room?  All three of their other ships are scheduled for extensive refurbishing during the next 18 months.  Regent Seven Seas include most services in their cruise fare – unlimited shore excursions, fine wines and spirits, crew gratuities, airport transfers, WiFi and even airfare in many cases.

Crystal Cruises recently added the luxurious 62-passenger Esprit, making a total of three ocean vessels in their fleet.  This super yacht was designed for exploration to smaller ports and off-the-beaten path destinations due to its size.  Crystal even expanded into river cruising into 2016.

Seabourn will soon be adding two new all-suite ships beginning this year, rounding out their fleet to five.  Unique to this luxury cruise line is their onboard water sports marina and country club casual environment.

Want to learn about all the luxury cruising choices available and need help deciding the best option for you?  Jan Acorn can streamline the process for you – call us today for a complimentary 20-minute consultation.

Comments Comments Off on Ultimate Luxury at Sea

Epicurean Journeys at Sea 01 Apr 2016

Attention all Foodies!  Looking for ways to enjoy great cuisine while traveling?  Bon Appétit, inspiring food lovers with imaginative culinary delights through magazine recipes for decades, has ventured into the travel arena by partnering with luxury cruise companies, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises.  Cuisine at sea has been elevated to new heights through this innovative partnership.  Well-known chefs have been recruited for designated Bon Appétit Tastemaker sailings – not only to lead culinary preparation onboard, but to also offer hands-on cooking classes and host epicurean adventures such as market visits and wine-paired dinners.

Oceania Cruises offers Bon Appétit Tastemaker itineraries ranging from 7 to 35 days throughout the globe, with sailing dates in 2016 and 2017.   Enjoy special amenities such as a special wine event, complimentary bottle of wine signed by the designated winemaker for the cruise and a Shipboard Credit to use as you please.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers Bon Appétit Tastemaker experiences onboard a number of their 2016 and 2017 sailings ranging from 7 to 57 days.  Their culinary celebrations at sea feature world-class chefs and food-focused itineraries, with special amenities to Bon Appétit Tastemaker guests.

If you enjoy cruising and superior cuisine, then we invite you to learn more about this exciting collaboration.  Gateway Destinations owner, Jan Acorn, is honored to be designated as one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Tastemakers nationwide due to her enjoyment of food-focused travel and dedication to creating extraordinary vacation experiences for her clients.

Comments Comments Off on Epicurean Journeys at Sea

Relaxing and Romantic River Cruising in Europe 01 Mar 2016

Watch the beautiful landscape of Europe drift by your window as you glide by quaint villages, castles, and vineyards in your luxurious river ship.  Unlike ocean cruising, river ships have an intimate boutique atmosphere and give you quick and easy access to the ports you visits.

Unpack once and enjoy your floating hotel as you immerse yourself in the cultural delights of each region.  River ships are well-equipped with many comforts such as multiple dining options, fitness room, massage, live entertainment, and a hot tub or pool.  Many ships also carry bicycles on board to do some exploring on your own!

Experience for yourself what river cruising is all about by joining me for a very special journey in celebration of wine for 7 nights beginning October 28, 2016 in Bordeaux, France.  Not only will you receive a $500 discount off the normal cruise fare, but you will also enjoy special wine events hosted by Jon Rogers with Wines Without the Mystery.  Register by March 31 and also receive FREE pre-paid gratuities!  Call Jan Acorn for details at 602-923-1542 – space is limited.

Comments Comments Off on Relaxing and Romantic River Cruising in Europe