It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Norwegian Cruise Line returns to service from US ports this year!!

Norwegian Cruise Line is getting ready to set sail from US ports once again! They have now announced departures from FLORIDA to the Caribbean and The Bahamas; departures from WASHINGTON for roundtrip Alaska sailings; departures from CALIFORNIA for the Mexican Riviera; and HAWAII's inter-island sailings resume this November from Honolulu! All available to book now.

• Norwegian Encore will operate 7-day cruises to ALASKA from SEATTLE sailing every Saturday from Aug 7, 2021, through Oct 16, 2021.
• Norwegian Gem will operate 7-day cruises to the Western Caribbean FROM MIAMI sailing every Sunday from Aug 15 through Aug 29, 2021, and a 4-day Bahamas sailing Oct 17, 2021.
• Norwegian Escape will operate a 7-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean FROM PORT CANAVERAL sailing on Nov 13, 2021.
• Norwegian Breakaway will operate 7-day cruises to Bermuda FROM NEW YORK CITY sailing every Sunday from Sept 26, 2021, through Oct 17, 2021.
• Norwegian Bliss will operate a 7-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera FROM LOS ANGELES sailing on Oct 24, 2021.
• Pride of America will operate a 7-day inter-island cruise of the Hawaiian islands round-trip from HONOLULU sailing on Nov 6, 2021.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Private Beaches & Luxury Villas

Let's talk about luxury villas...which could make for the perfect multi-generational family vacation, but also for a corporate sales incentive, board retreat, or other team gatherings where a traditional hotel might not be the best choice.

When looking for a luxury villa rental we know that ultimate privacy, seclusion, and peace and quiet are top of mind. Each villa featured here is located in lush and hidden landscapes, many of which even have their own private beach, far away from prying eyes and the hustle and bustle compared to a hotel or resort.
Antigua | Barbados | Belize | Cayman Islands | Costa Rica | Fiji | Mexico - Punta Mita and Riviera Maya | Saint Martin | Turks & Caicos | US Virgin Islands | and many other locales are available!
When you're tired of the same old thing, looking for a more unique experience, reach out and let me know. We have a plethora of luxury vacation packages and rentals like these available. | 317.776.1733 |

#MoreThanJustCruises #luxurylife #luxuryvillas #landvacations #multigenerationaltravel #corporateevents #corporateincentives #BeachHouse #islandliving

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Time for a Land Vacation?

After a year of covid, if you're ready to get out and explore once again, I'm ready to help you plan your next adventure. Now booking, land trips all across the USA (including theme parks, cabins, beach vacations & condos, Alaska, Hawaii, & much more), along with cruises for when they start sailing again. Caribbean & Mexico getaways and all-inclusive resorts too!

PLUS! We have a number of exciting curated shared group travel itineraries that you could join including US National Parks, Colorado Rockies, America's Music Cities, New York City Holidays, and others.

Don't delay, reach out today by email, phone, or through the website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

2021 Winter Travel Planner Magazine is Here!


Our newest digital issue of the Travel Planner magazine is here!

If YOU are comfortable and ready to travel, I'd love to help you plan your trip! This magazine is a great source of inspiration, with some great possibilities for land-based vacations that could be enjoyed now, and when the cruise lines are able to start sailing again...river cruises in the USA and in Europe and ocean cruises all over the world. Many of the offers are valid for booking before April 30th, others are through various dates in March. If you see something that intrigues you...ask me about it!
I know everyone has a different comfort level at this time, but please know that a wide range of travel opportunities can be booked for this year, next year, or even 2023. This 45-page e-zine will certainly give you some great ideas to ponder and dream about in the following categories dedicated to those regions or sub-regions.
• Let’s Go Caribbean & Mexico
• Let’s Go USA & Hawaii
• Let’s Go Alaska
• Let’s Go Exotics & Expeditions
• Let’s Go Europe
It also has several featurettes sprinkled throughout, with embedded YouTube videos to continue to spark your travel imagination! When you're ready to book, please reach out to me and I will be very happy to take care of all the details for you. Just click the image to explore and start dreaming! (Plus on page 3, you could register to win a 7-night AMA WATERWAYS river cruise for two! Must enter by April 30th)


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Where2Next Virtual Series: All-Inclusive Resorts

Introducing our NEW Virtual Vacation Webinar Series!  This new monthly series will feature an array of vacation possibilities for when the world opens up again fully for travel. 

Because Cruise Planners - Christopher Lingren & Associates is SOOO much #MoreThanJustCruises!
We LOVE our land vacation clients and especially love helping you find the perfect all-inclusive resort! Are you DONE with staying at home and ready to plan your all-inclusive getaway? We're ready to help you book it. Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic are welcoming visitors once again so you don't have to wait for 2021 to travel if you choose not to. But even if you do choose to wait, we can get you booked now!
PLUS be sure to join our Where2Next virtual vacation series to learn more on Sept 23rd at 5pm ET.  Win giveaways, tune in for a Cruise Planners® Exclusive booking offer, and one lucky attendee will claim the grand prize!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Who Is Ready to Plan Their Adventures for 2017?

Scotland, Walt Disney World, Aruba, a wedding cruise, Hawaii, Playa del Carmen, New Zealand, Panama Canal cruise, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and a domestic girlfriend's getaway... these are all vacations I'm currently working on booking for some awesome clients. Where can I help you plan an amazing adventure?

#itsvacationtime #wanttogetaway #cruiseplanners #morethanjustcruises

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

stopher's stuff - WONDERful Memories, Fun & More

Wonderful is truly the best word that I can use for my experience on board the Disney Wonder last week.  The sailing was smooth, the food very good, and the service was once again exemplary.  Disney Cruise Line has certainly earned the various accolades from within the cruise industry that they have received. Regardless of how much I spent on my cruise, which was a lot less than the average guest since I was on board for educational and research purposes – the service provided not only met my expectations, but exceeded it. 

I was able to participate in an Agent Education Program, or AEP, where the host line brings travel professionals onboard in order to experience a particular ship for themselves, and then be able to better share the ship and the line with clients and potential clients, making recommendations where appropriate. Being onboard with nearly 90 other travel advisors and agents might make one think that we were receiving special treatment, but I can gladly say that I observed time and time again the same or better service being provided to the full fare-paying guests. 

Some of the many AEP participants from Cruise Planners,
 inside Diversions, one of the adult spaces on board,
following the first class session
Throughout the week, as a group, we were in seminars for 2 to 3 hours each morning.  It was a great experience to be able to meet so many fine people, who like me, enjoy putting together remarkable vacations for their clients, helping them to create memories to last a lifetime.  And through it all, I have made several new friends for a lifetime.  We enjoyed sharing best practices with each other, learning tips and new ideas for sharing the magic of the Disney brand with our clients and potential clients, and got to have some fun together as well. This AEP was put on by the good folks at Disney Destinations, and included three great presenters, one of which has been with Disney for 24 years.  (She certainly knows her stuff!)  Following the morning seminars, we were free to enjoy the ship (or ports of call when appropriate) until show time in the evening.  Then we had the shows, a few informal meet & greets, and second seating dinner after that.  Both were on our agendas, and we were expected to partake of them all, though a couple of times during the week the presenters said attendance at the shows was optional. 

Though our group did have a few pairs of husband and wife, the vast majority of the participants in this AEP were traveling solo.  All of the single travelers had a roommate – some we knew from previous experiences – and others who were meeting for the very first time.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I already knew my roommate, and we’d been planning for this trip for the week or two leading up to the sailing.  It was fun to further cement that friendship, while also meeting new friends along the way.   
Just as the families and friends sailing together onboard do, we ate at the same table each night with assigned table mates, and enjoyed the rotational dining program in each of the beautiful dining rooms on the ship. Just because it was a special program, didn’t mean we received special treatment.  (On this cruise, my favorite meal came from Parrot Cay, unlike when I sailed on the Disney Magic with my lovely bride in October – where my favorite meal came from Animator’s Palette).   Many fun conversations and much laughter came during our dinner conversations.  Table 7 certainly had some fun times together. 

Here I am, in Cozumel, with some rain clouds in the background
In each of our ports of call – Grand Cayman and Cozumel – a number of the agents went off to enjoy and explore the ports together, while others did so solo.  I enjoyed both ports on a solo basis, and then later enjoyed hearing of my various compatriot’s tales about their experiences in both ports.  I will share more about my personal experiences in another entry yet to come. 

The weather on our sailing was mostly superb.  We did get some rain on and off throughout the day we were in Cozumel, and our last at-sea day was windy – very windy – not just the regular breezes you feel as sailing along either – but very windy, which did produce a little more wave action.  Even though I didn’t, a few members of our group were feeling a bit nauseous for the first time all week as a result of the stronger winds.  The sunshine and warmth was a welcome sight after dark grey clouds and rain in Cozumel.   

College of Disney Knowledge sling backpack,
Disney Parks branded pedometer, small tin of DCL logo
bookclips, Graduation Certificate, 3 pins & lanyard, our
choice of one onboard photo, and the training manual
Exclusive AEP Graduate Pin
I will say though, that even though we didn’t receive any special treatment throughout the week, we were given a small tchotchke at the conclusion of each seminar, and at the end of the week treated to a nice reception / graduation ceremony on the final afternoon of our cruise.  It was a nice cocktail reception, and we each received our completion certificate and a special pin.  Here’s a photo of the few things that we received.  Other than these things just mentioned, nothing special was done or provided.  Will these things by themselves help me to promote the Disney Cruise Line over any other line?  

Absolutely not – but – the experience and additional knowledge gained about the ship itself and the rest of the DCL fleet – will help me to recommend DCL whenever appropriate.  There is such a perception out there that DCL is just for families, and that is certainly just not true.  When working with clients, I always want to make sure that I am recommending the best experience for their individual needs and desires.  I want to make sure that my clients have the best possible time and get the best value for their hard-earned money.  Many times that will include DCL in my recommendations, but there are times that it just won’t.  Bringing home a couple of pins, a certificate and the like won’t change that.  After all – it’s their vacation at stake, not mine.  The best value and experience to one client will not be identical to another client – so being able to match them up with the best possible experiences is critical.  And AEPs such as this one that I just completed help those of us who sell travel to be able to speak from experience – not just be items to select from on a nameless, faceless website.  I like to treat each client with friendly, personable and professional one-on-one service.  I don’t just view my clients as another number or sale.  I appreciate each and every one, and at the end of the day, want to know that the recommendations that I make truly are the best for each client.  So these types of familiarization trips are not only nice, but necessary. 

So with that, I will bid you adieu for now, or as they say on board… til we meet again, 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tips on Thursday - Passport Information


Passports are required for all travelers, including citizens of the U.S. and Canada, who enter or re-enter the U.S. by air, land or sea.  

There are a few notable exceptions pertaining to land and sea border crossings: 
  • U.S. citizens on cruises that begin and end in the same U.S. port and travel to destinations in Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, the Bahamas or Bermuda are able to re-enter the U.S. with proof of citizenship other than a passport or passport card. Acceptable proof of citizenship includes a U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate (hospital certificates are not acceptable) or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization and a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license). Passports are required for cruises that begin in one U.S. port and end in another.
  • Children under the age of 16 who are citizens of the U.S. or Canada are exempt from the passport requirement for land and sea border crossings. In lieu of a passport, children are able to use a U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate (hospital certificates are not acceptable) or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization as proof of citizenship for entry into the U.S. by land or by sea. Children entering or re-entering the U.S. by air are required to have a valid passport.
  • A new, lower-cost alternative to the passport, called a passport card, is acceptable for entries into the U.S. by land or sea. The passport card is not acceptable for air travel.
  • The following cruise lines require a passport for all sailings, regardless of destination or port of departure: Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal, Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Hurtigruten, Oceania, Orion Expedition Cruises, P&O, Paul Gauguin, Regent, Seabourn, Silversea, Star Clippers, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Windstar.
  • Photocopies of required documentation are not acceptable in any circumstance.
  • Even though passports are not required at this time for U.S. citizens who sail on cruises to the above destinations that begin and end in the same U.S. port, we strongly recommend that all cruise passengers travel with a valid passport anyway. This is because guests who need to fly to or from the U.S. unexpectedly during their cruise will likely experience significant delays and complications related to booking airline tickets and entering the U.S. if they do not have a valid passport with them. For example, a passenger missing a cruise departure due to a late inbound flight to Miami would need a passport to fly to meet the ship at the next port. Similarly, guests needing to fly to or through the U.S. before their cruise ends because of medical, family, personal or business emergencies, missing a ship's departure from a port of call, or a mechanical problem of some sort with the ship, would need a passport. Of course, situations like these are rare, but they can happen.

Passports are not required for U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from Hawaii or a U.S. territory, including Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Passports are required for cruise travel to all International destinations not mentioned above, and for cruises that involve air travel that begins or ends outside of the U.S. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the last day of travel.

For information about obtaining a passport for the first time, or about renewing a passport,  visit the U.S. Department ofState's website

Legal U.S. Residents (Non-Citizens)

Legal permanent residents of the U.S. must have a valid passport from their country of citizenship and a valid Alien Registration Card (Green Card) to enter or re-enter the U.S.

Non-U.S., Non-Canada Citizens

The following countries participate in a visa waiver program with the U.S., and citizens of these countries must have a machine-readable passport for entry into the U.S.:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

Citizens of the countries listed above who do not possess machine-readable passports, and citizens of countries not listed above must present a valid passport and a valid United States visa upon entry into the U.S. For those whose travel plans include multiple entries into the U.S., such as a cruise that begins and ends in a U.S. port, a multiple-entry visa is required.


All travelers, including U.S. and Canada citizens, are responsible for verifying visa requirements with consular officials, and obtaining visas where required, for every country visited during their trip, including countries visited via connecting flights.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Magical Port Adventure - Cozumel

Like so many other 7-night cruises out there, our sailing on the Disney Magic through the Western Caribbean included stops in ports of call.  Our itinerary included stops in Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel.   This entry will share some information about our stop in Cozumel. 

Cozumel, also known as the island of the swallows, is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  It is close to the Yucatan Channel, opposite Playa del Carmen, and is one of the ten municipalities of the state of Quintana Roo.  The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel, and it is a major tourist destination for its balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling.   The island is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, and is formed on a flat  bed of limestone, covered with jungles, and is about 30 miles long by about 10 miles wide. 

Like the previous day in Costa Maya, we docked in Cozumel in the morning hours, around 7:30am.  Once again we would be leaving the ship, headed to our adventure at 9:00am.  This adventure would take us out to explore some Mayan ruins, as well as the Discover Mexico Cultural Museum, where we would also enjoy lunch.  Unlike the previous day, the skies were clear, and blue, with hardly a trace of clouds. 

We met our guide, and the driver of the van, and were quickly on our way with about a dozen dozen other guests to the site of the Mayan ruins – San Gervasio Archaeological Site – Mayan Sanctuary of the Goddess Ixchel. 

Everyone was strongly encouraged to cover themselves with bug spray as soon as we got out of the van, and it was a good thing we did.  The site was deep in jungle, and very populated with mosquitos.  We got to see some fascinating ruins of structures that the guide described to us as temples, houses, steam rooms and other structures.  We saw the well where they would have drawn their water, and an ancient road coming in to the site through the jungle.  According to the story shared by the guide, this particular site was the primary worship location where all Mayans were encouraged to go to at least once their life – similar to Mecca is in the Islamic religion. 

Following our tour around the site, we were invited to spend a few moments in the on-site shops, and then we were escorted back into the van.  We got a nice tour of San Miguel de Cozumel on our way to the Discover Mexico Cultural Museum. 

Discover Mexico was an interesting museum, filled with a vast array of artifacts and pieces created by local artisans in the indoor galleries.  We enjoyed a nice 10 minute film on the history and culture of Mexico, and then got a nice tour of the grounds.  Scattered throughout the grounds were large, miniature re-creations of famous Mayan temples, Aztec temples & pyramids, and modern Mexican landmarks.  It kind of felt at times like a Mexican version of a “Legoland” type display, but it was neat to be able to see various structures and things that I’ve read about but never personally visited. 

Following our miniatures tour, we were treated to a fantastic lunch.  Delicious tacos, chips, guacamole and a wonderful mango punch were served.  I enjoyed seconds, and contemplated thirds, but decided in the end that two helpings was plenty.  I have always enjoyed Mexican fare – having grown up in Southern California, my family frequented a number of restaurants serving “real” Mexican food (unlike so many others throughout the country that are a sad imitation), but this lunch was absolutely fantastic.  It was wonderful to enjoy truly authentic Mexican food.

At the conclusion of lunch, our time there was basically done, with the exception of watching the few children on the tour get to enjoy a piñata.  It was fun to watch them try to break it open.  It was all part of the experience, included in the tour, and kind of sad to watch the parents of said children then limit their kids to just 2 or 3 pieces of candy each.  Even the hosts of the museum thought it strange as they were encouraging the children to take more.  But the parents didn’t want their kids to seem greedy, I guess, or were concerned for their teeth, or something… I’m not sure what.  So those kids each only got a few small lollipops and other treats.  But it was still fun to watch, and listen as the hosts all sung a traditional Mexican song as the piñata was raised and lowered during the hitting process until it broke open.

We then were returned to the port, where Julie and I walked around for a short while, taking various photos, until we returned to the ship to enjoy the rest of the afternoon onboard.  I truly enjoyed Cozumel, and cannot wait to return.  It was a beautiful island, and one that I would like to be able to explore further in the future. 

Next time we’ll take a look once more at dining opportunities onboard.  Before that though, for my U.S. readers, whatever you do, enjoy your Thanksgiving!   Thanks once again for reading and following along.  I always welcome comments, and would love to hear from you.  Thanks also for sharing this page with friends and family. 

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not-So-Magical Port Adventures

Like so many other 7-night cruises out there, our sailing on the Disney Magic through the Western Caribbean included stops in ports of call.  Our itinerary included stops in Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel.   This entry will share some information about our stop in Grand Cayman. 

Costa Maya is a small tourist region in Mexico, in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula.  It is close to the state capital of Chetumal, not that far north from the border of Belize. It is a mostly undeveloped area, but growth has been coming quickly and rapidly after the construction of a large cruise ship pier.  It includes two small villages − Mahahual and Xcalak – both with a population of less than one thousand.  The port includes a modern shopping mall filled with jewelry stores and souvenir shops galore, and is generally only open to cruise ship passengers.  It also includes a central plaza with saltwater pools and 'swim-up' style bars.  It is the closest port of access to many of the lesser known Mayan ruins in the Yucatan including Chacchoben and Kohunlich, which are substantially less excavated than the more popular pyramids of Tulum and Coba.

Our ship docked in Costa Maya in the morning hours, around 7:30am.  We were ready to go to leave the ship, having to meet inside Studio Sea for our particular tour at 8:30am so that we would be off the ship and headed to our adventure at 9:00am.  We were heading out to enjoy a Dune Buggy Adventure, which would include a private beach experience for a couple of hours.  Upon arrival in Costa Maya, however, the skies were not as clear and blue as they had been throughout our cruise thus far, but rather to they west they were a bit grey and a bit windy.  It looked like rain was on the horizon. 

As we made our way through the port’s shopping mall over to the dune buggies that were lined up and ready to, our fellow passengers on the excursion were separated into groups.  Each vehicle accommodated 4 guests, so we were paired up with another pair – a father and daughter, who apparently didn’t want to go on the same excursion with wife and other daughter.  They were looking forward to a fun-filled afternoon in the dune buggy as we were! 

After a quick safety lesson, and a brief talk about the ins and outs of driving a stick-shift dune buggy, we were off, headed down the road to our first stop – the “pee pee stop” as our guide called it.  That would be about 10 minutes down the road, prior to our 45 minute to hour-long ride out to the private beach area.  We stopped in the town of Mahahual, and got to walk out onto the beach.  We were given an introduction to the little town , including history, culture and the like, and saw remnants of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dean back in 2007.  

The wind was definitely picking up, and the clouds were definitely moving in.  We snapped a few quick pictures, and then the skies just opened up and it started to pour!  Everyone quickly made their way to the couple of few shops for refuge until the storm could die down.  After a few minutes of waiting, with no real decrease in sight, our tour guides made the announcement that our adventure was being cancelled.  We would have to drive back to the port and we could enjoy the port there or return to the ship.  The private beach was currently getting much more rain than Mahahual was receiving – and with a 45-60 minute ride in open-topped dune buggies, each way, they decided it would be best not to subject 30+ people to the elements.  So we all got back in to our very wet buggies and started the short drive back to the port.

We lingered in the shopping mall area for a while, looking in various shops – seeing the same basic merchandise over and over again (I felt like I was in a Disney theme park, where you see the same basic stuff regardless of which land you’re in) and weren’t overly impressed with any of it.  I thought about getting a t-shirt or other memento, but since my tour was cancelled and I really hadn’t done anything all that exciting there in Costa Maya, I decided against it. 

By itself Costa Maya has a pretty landscape, but isn’t much as a cruise stop when compared to other more popular, better known destinations.  It is in a more rural part of Mexico, and simply “came to be” with the addition of a cruise ship pier.  Of the three stops we made on this cruise, Costa Maya was the longest by far, in terms of hours spent docked in port (we were there from 7:30am until 11:00pm), and the least desirable of them all.  Personally I would have rather spent a longer day in Cozumel or even Grand Cayman, but alas, we didn’t.  While I might give it another try on a future cruise, I certainly won’t be specifically seeking out an itinerary that includes Costa Maya as a “must-do” stop.  Thanks to the long stop though, I was able to get some nice pictures of the ship at night, not something you can typically do!

Next time when we look at our port adventures – Cozumel, Mexico.

Until next time,