Hello, my name is Leah and I’m addicted to pirates. (Hello, Leah) I’ve had this problem for years. My favorite ride at Disneyland was Pirates of the Caribbean (until the Indiana Jones ride opened) for the majority of my life. So, you can imagine my great joy when they made movies out of that ride and cast one of the sexiest men alive as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Anyway, I will move on. Pining over Johnny Depp is another blog entry. We recently had a training session with Lomas Travel about the various excursions that clients have available to them in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. I was appalled that I have been doing this for two and half years and I never noticed the Pirate Assault Cruise Dinner. I practically shouted across the table, “There’s a pirate cruise?”
I told Cathi over and over again that we had to do it. Cathi and I went to Cancun to film the eight Riu resorts March 25-28. I was very excited that she agreed to go with me! I’m really the luckiest girl in the world. I work for (and with) people that are supportive of my pirate enthusiasm and obsession and they only make fun of me a little.
So, Saturday night came and we were transferred to the marina in Cancun to meet our ship. We were on the Black Pearl, or course. I’m not sure how they split up the tickets, but some people were on the Black Pearl and some people were on the enemy ship. Jack Sparrow was the captain of our ship and I think the enemy captain was Captain Hook.
You get on the ship and sit on deck for the first section of the show. The first parts lasts almost two hours as you are sailing around the bay. It was wonderful. It seems like such a fun job…and the actors never quit. They were in character the whole time and having more fun than some of the people on the ship with us. They also were very good at keeping everyone involved the whole time. Cathi and I were sent down to the Brig for our meal and while we were eating the Captain came around to take pictures and make sure everyone was having fun. Side Note: He doesn’t make very good pirate faces in pictures.
I’m probably the wrong person to be writing this blog because I am forcing myself to think of the down side. I mean, come on, it’s a pirate cruise! They could have sat us on deck and paced back and forth glaring at us for two hours and I would have been singing pirate songs in my head the whole time…
But, in an effort to reach out to the peeps, I will say this – this excursion is probably not suitable for people that get really motion sick. It’s a three and half hour tour. (Maybe too close to a three-hour-tour for some people’s enjoyment) During parts of the tour you can really feel that boat moving, it’s loud, and if you don’t like audience participation then you might have to find another excursion while in Cancun.
They turn the deck into a dance floor! A pirate ship, food, pirates, loud music, lights, the ocean breeze in your hair…….and pirates…….doesn’t that sound like the best evening ever? You should go there. Call me. We need to get you on a pirate ship!
One of the most popular excursions we get questions about is swimming with dolphins.
On a recent trip to the Riviera Maya, Philip had the opportunity to swim with these beautiful creatures at the Delphinus at Xcaret. Here are some pictures from his day there.
Usually on our trips to our beloved Mexico we are busy either rushing from resort to resort doing site inspections or we’re busy spending the day on a beach bed having fruity drinks delivered regularly.
On a recent trip, however, we had the opportunity to choose between several excursions to enjoy. I chose to go to Riu Secreto.
From the Rio Secreto website: “Río Secreto could very well be one of the great wonders of the world. Come and experience this stunning underground river with thousands of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. It’s like stepping back in time to witness something mysterious and truly spectacular.”
To get started, we were outfitted with wetsuits and helmets with lights on the front. Swim shoes completed the ensemble. An interesting look.
The water is rather cool, which is why they put you in a wetsuit. It’s very nice as long as you’re in the wetsuit. It’s very refreshing.
I almost hate even putting these pictures up. For one thing, a wetsuit isn’t the most flattering thing a person can wear..it isn’t very kind on the eyes. For another thing, there is no way these pictures will do justice to the beauty of this place. When you are going through it, and especially when you go down through the hole in the ground into this amazing underground world you just can’t help but gasp “WOW”.
There was just one area where we were neck deep in the water. I actually could have stayed in this area longer..it felt great.
Toward the end of our adventure, they completely turned off all of the lights. It is unbelievable how completely dark it is.
I think if you’re in Cancun or the Riviera Maya you certainly need to check this out. I think it would be especially good for rainy days (because you’re underground) or during the really really hot days because you’re out of the sun and it is so refreshing.
On March 14, the US State Department renewed the travel warning for Mexico. This year, they were more responsible than in years past in that they were more specific in identifying the areas of Mexico that are of concern.
The warning specifically indicates: Northern Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros. Juarez is approximately 1400 miles from Cancun. In comparison, Dallas Texas is less than 600 miles away from Juarez. So, sitting here in my office in Plano, I am closer to the areas of concern than I would be if I were at a resort in Cancun or the Riviera Maya.
The resort areas in Mexico remain the safe destinations you have come to trust and enjoy. As I write this it is 6 days until my next trip to Mexico. I take the safety of my children’s mother (me) very seriously. I have absolutely no hesitation about visiting any of the resort areas in Mexico. The Walmart near my house, however, that makes me nervous.
Here are some statistics to bear this out:
If I were able to find statistics that just isolate Quintana Roo (the state where Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya are located), or Jalisco, or Nayarit (the states where Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta are located), I’m betting the difference would even be more striking.
Just ask anyone who has traveled to the resort areas of Mexico. Here in our office we have people traveling to the various Mexican destinations on average at least once per month. Call our office and ask who has been there last and what they thought. Also, stay tuned to this space because I will continue to add articles links as I find them.
Here are articles that you will find helpful.
We asked our clients who have returned from Mexico within the last month to give us their comments on their safety during their trip. Here are the comments we’ve received so far.
From Leah W., (Returned March 28, 2010)
just got back from Cancun/Riviera Maya on March 28th. I love Mexico. I always get so excited to go and see that amazing blue water!
From Catherine B., (Returned March 28, 2010)
Once again I found Mexico and the people there to be lovely, friendly and as safe as ever. My activities included being out late at night “just us girls”. We never felt the slightest bit unsafe. We went on excursions far away from our hotels and never had a doubt for a moment. I’ve said it many times; I won’t go to the WalMart near my house after dark but I have no qualms about being out at night in any Mexican resort area.
From Elizabeth U., (Returned March 6, 2010)
I’ve heard about the recent happenings in Mexico and definitely understand the concern! But we never once felt nervous about our security. The resort (The Royal in Playa del Carmen) was so respectful and welcoming… more so than many US hotels that I’ve stayed in. By the end of the week, many of the people knew it was our honeymoon and would greet us, grab us a drink, cheer for us haha! We left the resort a couple nights and shopped on 5th Avenue and we still felt safe… there are just SO MANY people (Americans, Canadians) and the people in the shops are only concerned about treating you nicely so you’ll buy something. Back to the resort, me and my husband are doing the math and trying to see how quickly we can get back there!!! It was just perfect: beautiful beach/water, beautiful pools, fun people, DELICIOUS meals… all around- the best vacation I’ve ever been on. We compared the food to 5 star restaurants in the US… definitely a good surprise! (I was concerned about the food and drinks but I shouldn’t have been because we ate better than ever)
As you know, you and your agents have been booking our trips to Mexico for
many years now. Other than rescheduling one trip due to the
possibility of the borders closing due to the Swine Flu, we have not had
any complications during our travels to Mexico. You simply board
the plane in Dallas, land in Cancun or whichever airport in Mexico, look
for the representative from Loomis or Fun Jet. They are very easy to find
and very friendly,
once you get your luggage, they are at the exit of the airport doors. They
will lead you to your transportation to the hotel. These buses and vans are
clearly marked by the company they represent. They drop you off at the
front door of your hotel. The resort towns KNOW travelers provide their
we have never felt unsafe or been put in a compromising position. Of
course, you want to be smart about leaving the resort and going into town
A designated,nondrinking caretaker is suggested, and be smart as you would
if you were going to party in downtown Dallas. Don’t leave the club with anyone
you do not know!! Have Fun and Wear Sunscreen!!
Cindy & Thomas
So you’ve taken the plunge and called a travel agent to help you plan a great vacation. How can you help make sure that the vacation you have in your mind is the vacation your agent plans for you? To start with, there are four basic things you can make sure your agent understands at the beginning of the planning process.
#1 – Make sure your agent understands your budget. If you’ve been saving all year and you have a certain amount of money you can spend on this vacation, you might as well make sure your agent understands that up front. Understanding the budget at the beginning of the process will also help your agent steer you in the right direction and help you know what to expect.
You’d be amazed at how reluctant many people are to share their budget with their agent. It’s like they are afraid that if they reveal their budget it will give the agent carte blanche to spend the maximum even if it isn’t required to get the vacation you want. Let me just say that if you have an agent who would do that, you need to get a new agent. If you don’t trust your agent to give you the level scoop, you shouldn’t be working together anyway.
#2 – Make sure your agent understands your schedule. “Oh, we can go anytime.” This most often stated sentiment can be a roadblock to successfully planning your vacation. It isn’t realistic to think that you can actually go any time. I have yet to meet a person whose schedule is that flexible. It is more helpful to say “I’m available from the 1st through the 10th and it would be great if we could be gone over the weekend so we use less vacation days.”
#3 – Make sure your agent understands what your deal breakers are. If you’re looking for a beach vacation, but your traveling companion’s ex went to Jamaica with them – so there’s no way you want to go there…be sure your agent understands that.
You might only be interested in an adults only place, you might only want an oceanfront room, you might only want a place that you can get to on a nonstop flight. Many people have deal breakers, make sure your agent understands yours.
#4 – Make sure your agent understands what you see yourself doing on a typical day of your vacation. People have different vacationing styles. Do you see yourself on a beach bed reading books all day and being served cool drinks while occasionally gazing out at the water? Do you like to go out on excursions in the destination? Is it important to you to be near shopping options? Is the vacation of your imagination peaceful or full of adventure?
Make sure your agent shares your vision.
A professional travel agent is a great asset in vacation planning. They can only do their best work when they have all of the information required.
How do I get a passport?
We get this question all the time! We are so thrilled that people want to get passports and see this wonderful planet we all live on.
Getting a passport is fairly simple. You do have to fill out paperwork, assemble a couple of documents and write a couple of checks and run an errand or two, not to mention wait by the mailbox for it to arrive. Maybe it isn’t so simple. JUST KIDDING.
Alright, step one is to fill out your passport application. My recommendation is to fill out the online form that you’ll find here Now, you don’t submit this online, that isn’t how it works. You fill out the application and then hit ‘print’ and voila, you have a neatly filled out passport application. Doesn’t that beat trying to write legibly and not make any mistakes? The other magic of filling out the online application is that when you print it out it has a barcode on it. That barcode means that when you submit your application and it goes to the big warehouse somewhere where people process it, rather than trying to read your handwriting and key everything in perfectly, they just scan the barcode and the system automatically populates with the exact information you entered. Faster and more accurate. Great!
Next you’ll need to gather your birth certificate and your drivers license. That is, if you were born in the United States and you are licensed to drive. If you don’t fit this criteria, refer to the state department website which is travel.state.gov.
You’ll need to make a photocopy of the front and back of your drivers license on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and take it with you.
Next, you’ll need to get your passport photo taken. We take them here in our office for a fee of just $5.00. Many passport offices take them also and their fees vary.
Last, take your checkbook with you. You’ll have to write several checks to various government entities, and currently the total of those fees is right around $100.00 for an adult passport. Considering that it is valid for 10 years, that’s a bargain.
For kids under 16 years old, you will have to have both parents physically present at the passport office or there is additional paperwork that must be filled out.
For complete detailed passport information, go to travel.state.gov
We just got these postcards back from the printer and they are going out as we speak. Keep your eye tuned to your mailbox!
We are so proud to announce that our very own Terrah Rominger was selected as one of the top 30 travel agents under 30 in the country by Travel Agent magazine!