Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holland America Sale

We've partnered with Holland America to offer an exclusive cruise sale from now through Jan. 11, 2012.

All new individual or group reservations will receive an Onboard Value Booklet with more than $450 worth of savings. In addition, deposits are reduced to as little as $100 per person. And of course, you'll get the lowest fares available.

If you're thinking about a cruise in 2012, now is the time to put down your no-risk deposit and hold space at a great rate as well as get some extra perks.

Contact us now or visit our web page for more information.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gospel Trail opens in Israel

A new trail across northern Israel offers travelers the chance to walk — or trot — through New Testament sites in the footsteps of Jesus.

The newly opened Gospel Trail winds for 39 miles, heading south from Nazareth, across gentle green hills, through Jewish and Arab towns and down to Capernaum, the fishing town where Jesus is said to have established his home base. The Tourism Ministry believes the new trail may attract up to 200,000 Christian pilgrims to northern Israel over the coming year.

On the Gospel Trail, tourists can ride toward the Sea of Galilee on horseback, accompanied by escorts from a nearby ranch wearing jeans, big belt buckles and embroidered cowboy boots with spurs. The scene feels more Texas than Gospel, especially because according to the New Testament, Jesus' mount of choice was a donkey. Horses were considered vehicles of war.

But as the horses canter to Capernaum, past the occasional grazing cow in a grassy pasture, with the sun setting over the distant hills of the Golan Heights, visitors can imagine for a moment that they have returned to the Holy Land of two millennia past.

The new Gospel Trail is a government project. It heads south out of Nazareth, beginning at Mount Precipice, where a mob nearly threw Jesus off a cliff after a sermon he made in a local synagogue. The summit provides sweeping views across the Galilee, from ancient Nazareth and down through the Jezreel Valley, today considered Israel's agricultural heartland. From there, the path goes to Mount Tabor, said to be the site of the Transfiguration, when Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah and became radiant, and God called him his son. Today, priests celebrate Mass in a Franciscan church with soaring ceilings and pristine white marble floors.

From there, the trail winds north, passing, in springtime, through a carpet of anemones and cyclamens. A side path, also marked, heads to Kfar Kana, where Jesus is said to have turned water into wine. Then the Gospel Trail passes double extinct volcanos known as the Horns of Hattin — famous as the site where Saladin's Muslim army defeated the Crusaders in 1187. Today a lone mosque stands as one of the few remainders of an abandoned Arab village on the site.

Nearby is the town of Migdal, named for the ancient town of Magdala, said to be home to Mary Magdalene. Farther north, at Tabgha, the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes commemorates when Jesus fed a multitude with only a handful of food. And finally, travelers pass by the Mount of Beatitudes before heading to Capernaum, where a charming pink-domed white church gives a European look to the lush green surroundings.

The Gospel Trail includes suggestions to take a boat across the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus is said to have walked on water. The boats run between Capernaum and Kibbutz Ginosar, where marine archaeologists found and preserved a 2,000-year-old ancient fishing boat. Another boat route runs to Tiberias, a town dating back to 20 A.D.

All along the way, gas stations, quiet farming towns and luxurious guest houses offer places to recharge. The trail wends through picturesque Biblical landscapes and long stretches of neatly planted vegetables.

A variety of options already exist for travelers, from the Fauzi Azar Inn tucked into Nazareth's Old City, to the luxurious Scots Hotel in Tiberias. There are also country cottages outside Jewish towns, simple beds on farms and homestays in Arab villages. Camping is also easy in the many parks along the trail.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cruise the Caribbean with Ken Griffey and other Baseball Greats

Baseball fans can escape the cold of winter and get ready for Spring Training with this fun-filled 7-night cruise to the Caribbean.

Baseball greats Ken Griffey Sr., Jim Fregosi, Darold Knowles and Stan Bahnsen will be the hosts onboard the MSC Poesia for activities that include:

- Interactive question-and-answer session with the players
- Player-hosted trivia games
- A lively story-telling session in which the players share candid revelations about some of the "characters" of the game
- Pitching, hitting, and defense strategy clinics
- A lively passenger pitching contest

In between baseball events, enjoy stops in Key West; Cozumel, Mexico; Isla de Roatan, Honduras; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Harmony Travel has put together a special package that includes a pre-night stay at an all-suites hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, a special on board party, welcome gift and more.

For more information about the players and cruise activities, visit

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Summer Vacation Planning

As a travel consultant, you would think that planning my own summer vacation would be easy, that things should just fall into place. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and that’s why I’ve procrastinated until just a few weeks before leaving to really start planning.

Choosing where to go was the easy part. Several months ago my wife and I opted for Niagara Falls with a few days in Cleveland on the way. That was the easy part. Putting all of the details together – that’s the challenge.

As the main planner, most of the stress falls on me. I’ve got to balance everyone’s interests not to mention keeping control of the costs.

I’m a go-go-go type of person when I’m on vacation. This may be my only visit to a certain place so I want to see everything and do everything. If I’m sitting around at the hotel resting, I’m “wasting” my vacation.

My wife has helped me find a new perspective. Taking a vacation can mean relaxing and slowing down – not just going non-stop.

Taking those perspectives into account, not to mention that our kids are 8, 6 and 8 months, I set about to finally pull together the details of our upcoming vacation, trying to weave in flexibility, free time and fun.

Day 1 – We’ll drive to Cleveland. Columbus, Ohio is 3 hours from Indianapolis, so it makes a perfect stop for lunch. The headquarters for Graeter’s Ice Cream is located in Columbus and offers a free 30-minute tour to watch how ice cream is made. Close to Graeter’s are two city parks that each have picnic tables and playgrounds. It should make a nice stop for a couple of hours to break up the drive. Once we get to the Cleveland area, everyone can relax in the hotel pool.

Day 2 – Cuyahoga Valley National Park is just 20 minutes from our hotel. This park offers free admission and features numerous trails and other outdoor activities. Depending on how much we do in the park, we’ll still have plenty of time for more swimming at the hotel.

Day 3 – Our family loves baseball, and we’ve been fortunate to get to at least one major league game each of the last few summers. We’ve never been to Cleveland, so we’ll take in an Indians game.

Day 4 – It’s been a year or two since we’ve been to a zoo, so we’ll use most of the day to visit the Cleveland Zoo. Searching the zoo’s web site, I found that there are discount tickets available at a local drug store. I also learned that the zoo has free parking and allows coolers with picnic lunches.

After our trip to the zoo, we’ll make a trip to the lakeshore to spend some time on the beach.

Day 5 – On our way out of Cleveland, we’ll make a stop at the USS Cod, a World War II submarine. Next we’ll drive a couple of hours to Pesque Isle State Park in Erie, Penn., where there are trails, beaches and two lighthouses. Again, it will make a nice stopping point for lunch.

We’ll continue to Niagara Falls in the afternoon. That evening we’ll walk across the Rainbow Bridge to view the falls from the Canadian side, especially as it’s lit up.

Day 6 – We’ll spend the day at Niagara Falls, doing some of the attractions such as the Maid of the Mist ride.

The final two days of the trip are still a bit unplanned. We’ll be driving back to Indianapolis, but haven’t decided what we’ll do or where we’ll stop. Some of that will probably depend on our sweet 8-month-old; when she sleeps, when she eats and when she can’t stand to be trapped in her car seat any longer.

Planning a vacation is hard work. It’s also a good reminder of the expectations that clients have when they call. I hope you enjoy your summer vacation as much as we’ll enjoy ours.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2012 Faith-Based Itineraries Unveiled

Globus, one of the first tour operators to feature faith-based tours, unveiled its 2012 lineup with eight itineraries throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Two new offerings include "The European Reformation" and "Grand Catholic Italy." The Reformation itinerary includes 11 days in Germany with visits to Wittenberg, where Luther posted his 95 theses; Wartburg Castle, where he translated the Bible into German; and the Gutenberg Museum, where original copies of the Bible are on display. The trip also includes stops in Berlin and Munich as well as a day cruise on the Rhine River.

Globus continues the popular "Footsteps of the Apostle Paul" tour, which includes stops in Greece and Turkey, as well as the 10-day "Journey Through the Holy Land," where travelers literally walk where Jesus walked.

As a special incentive, Globus and Harmony Travel are offering 10% off 2012 bookings that are paid in full by Sept. 27.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Indiana Dunes State Park

After a long winter of being cooped up at home, Memorial Day weekend presented an excellent opportunity for a quick getaway.

Indiana Dunes State Park is just over three hours north of Indianapolis on the south shore of Lake Michigan.

I hadn't been to the Dunes since high school, so I had only vague memories of climbing around on mountains of sand. All other memories had faded away.

I was quite surprised then when we pulled up to the entrance gate in the middle of a forest. Turns out the Dunes aren't just sand and beach. There are actually more than 16 miles of trails that go through landscape that includes lots of trees, ferns and a marsh.

Since we had left around 9 in the morning and arrived just after noon, our first stop was the picnic area to enjoy our sandwiches.

We then drove over to the Nature Center, which gave us a chance to see exhibits about the types of wildlife in the area, a birdwatching area (I was fascinated by the red-bellied woodpeckers), and even the ruins of a shipwreck that had been retrieved.

One of the favorite displays for me and my two young boys was a place to measure your "wing span." Placing your palm against the glass, you stretched your arms as far as they could go. The display let you know how your wingspan compared to some of the birds in the area - from hawks to herons to the bald eagle.

The Nature Center makes for a good base camp during a visit. Trails 7, 8, 9 and 10 all can be accessed. We started with Trail 7, a 1.1-mile, moderate trail that provides the most direct route to the beach.

It got off to a sandy start but then transformed into firmer ground. The trail ends on a sandy dune hill about 40-50 feet above Lake Michigan. We wandered down to the wide beach to play by the water.

It's a good thing kids aren't fazed much by extreme temperatures. The water temp in late May was only 47 degrees. By Labor Day, the lake warms up into the 70s. The boys splashed around for a while and found some great rocks for skipping.

On our way back to the Nature Center, we ventured off on to parts of Trails 8 and 4 that led us to the highest point in the park - Mt. Tom with an elevation of 192 feet above the lake.

Trail 4 led us to the campground, which was full of holiday revelers. It is adjacent to the Nature Center.

After a short snack, we decided we had enough energy for one more hike. We started off on Trail 10. The entire trail makes a 5.5-mile loop. Our goal was simply to go the first mile to the bird observation tower that looks over the marsh.

We made it to the tower, but unfortunately heavy rains in the days and weeks prior to our visit left the stairwell unaccessible.

By the time we made it back to the Nature Center one final time, we had been at the park for 4 hours. A steady rain had started to fall and we sensed it was time to leave.

There's more to explore during our next visit.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Kids play and stay free at Walt Disney World

Kids ages 3-9 stay and play FREE at the Walt Disney World Resort in 2011.

The offer is valid for 4-night, 4-day Magic Your Way vacation packages at select Disney Value Resorts for stays most nights Feb. 17 – April 16, April 28 – June 14, 2011 or Aug. 14 – Oct. 1, 2011.

Offer Details:
This Walt Disney Travel Company package includes accommodations at a select Disney Value Resort and a Magic Your Way Base theme park ticket.

Booking and Travel Windows:

•Book: Jan. 3 – Feb. 13, 2011
•Travel: For stays most nights Feb. 17 – April 16, 2011

•Book: Jan. 3 – March 27, 2011
•Travel: For stays most nights April 28 – June 14, 2011 and Aug. 14 – Oct. 1, 2011