(NAPSI)—A growing number of people—an estimated one in five Americans—have already found that a cruise can be a hassle-free vacation.
When asked what they enjoy the most, some immediately point to the convenience factor while others say they like the fact that many cruises are “family friendly,” with quality programs for children that are managed by professionals.
Many also say it can be surprisingly affordable-particularly when compared to the total cost of many land-based vacations.
Other cruising veterans point to the fact that there is always something to do—from entertainment to sports to dancing—some cruises even offer casino action. Plus, if you are focused on meditation and yoga, pilates or aerobics, you can find a cruise that tends to those needs as well. In most cases, people say, the cruise just lets them do as they please.
While a cruise can be a great way to relax, it can also be an excellent way to see the world—whether it’s a favorite destination or a new and exotic port of call.
And then there is the food. Whether you are interested in convenience or fine dining or have to follow a special diet, chances are there will be a cuisine that fits your style.
With cruises setting sail in locations around the country, most people can drive to a home port, reinforcing the convenient and affordable aspects of cruising.
You can speak to, online chat or e-mail a cruise expert or book online and receive onboard credits. To learn more, visit the website at www.DiscountCruises.com or call 877-660-1467.
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A Fun Look At A Trip Through Europe
(NAPSI)—Having just crossed Europe in their latest adventure, Alex the lion and Marty the zebra offer some expert travel advice for anyone planning to take in the sights of the Continent. And even if you’re not heading to Europe anytime soon, you can enjoy the Zoosters’ uproarious antics in “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” on Blu-ray™ and DVD.
Alex: If I had to choose between car, train or plane travel, I’d choose the train, but that’s probably only because we had some, well, mishaps in the car and plane. In general, I recommend any mode of travel without a penguin or lemur on board. That said, a car can be a great way to get off the beaten path...but whatever you do, don’t let the zebra drive.
Marty: Planes, trains and automobiles will get you where you need to go, but they don’t even come close to being shot out of a cannon. It’s the only way to fly! I definitely recommend cannon if you’re in a hurry. Or a Candygram! Ooooh, I’m gonna try that next.
What to Pack
Alex: I personally like to travel light. Light and limber, that’s my motto. Of course, the obvious exception is hair conditioner. You can never carry too much hair conditioner, especially when a certain zebra has a habit of drinking it.
Marty: We made it halfway across Europe with nothing but our wits...I would not recommend it. I say pack everything because you never know how long it’s gonna be before you get back home. Trust me. And I always bring an extra bag so I have room for souvenirs...like those little bottles of shampoo—they’re delicious!
Marty: You know what they say: “When in Rome.” I’m not really sure what that means, but when we were in Rome we barely made it out alive, so I should probably look it up. But drop me into an op art gallery and, baby, I can blend in! Wait, what does “blending in” mean again?
Alex: Well, I like to think that I blend in well wherever I go because lions have a natural gift for camouflage...as long as whatever I’m standing against is sort of tan colored. But if the people get a look at my face, it’s all over. They start screaming in adoration and then they start running away in adoration. It comes with the territory when you’re a superfamous lion.
Marty: Or any kind of lion, really.
Marty: Not knowing where you’ll be next is exciting. I mean, one day you’re being chased through the streets of Monte Carlo at 200 miles per hour and the next you’re being shot out of a cannon in the circus! What could be better than that?
Alex: How about...NOT being shot out of a cannon?
Best Part of Traveling
Alex: Seeing the sights, trying new food, escaping capture—they’re all fantastic. But sometimes the best thing about traveling is just being with your peeps.
Marty: You said it, pal. Those are some good marshmallows.
The film is at bookstores, toy stores, video stores and online at www.madagascarmovie.com.
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Don’t Let Luggage Weigh You Down
(NAPSI)—If you are contemplating travel this holiday season—or at any time—plan ahead and consider shipping gifts, clothing and other belongings to your destination ahead of your arrival. Busy airports, long lines and checked-luggage fees make shipping your luggage an easy, convenient and economical travel option.
Whether you choose to pack a traditional piece of luggage or a sturdy box, make sure all contents are secure and protected. Consider the following guidelines for safe and timely delivery of your packages:
• Before shipping luggage, contact your hotel or destination to ensure that someone can accept it in advance of your arrival and has a secure location to store the bags until you arrive.
• Visit a FedEx Authorized ShipCenter or FedEx Office location in advance of your trip to get sturdy boxes, tie-on tags and a special luggage-shipping bag to protect your shipment.
• Be sure your shipping label is securely attached to the shipment. Place additional address labels somewhere on the outside of the luggage, as well as inside the box or in a luggage compartment. Make sure this label contains complete contact information for the shipper and the recipient.
• Visit www.fedex.com to find information about shipping regulations, calculate shipping rates, and create and print shipping labels.
• Travelers seeking to ship luggage outside the United States can call (800) GO-FedEx in advance of their trip to inquire about specific international regulations and duties or taxes that could be incurred.
With these suggestions in mind and your baggage winging its way ahead of you, you can find that your next trip is much less troublesome and a lot more fun.
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States Remain Bullish On High-Speed Rail
by Peter Gertler, AICP
(NAPSI)—America’s high-speed rail program is experiencing the best of times. Congress has appropriated more than $10 billion for the effort in the past three years. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia are advancing numerous projects. And about 62 percent of Americans say they would use high-speed rail service between U.S. metro areas, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
Despite the revitalizing benefits of high-speed rail, such as job creation, greater mobility, convenience and energy savings, the mode has been marginalized as a partisan issue. In July, Congress passed MAP-21, a two-year transportation authorization bill that doesn’t mention high-speed rail. Still, there has been an unprecedented amount of high-speed rail activity at the state level:
• California has approved $2.7 billion in bonds to design and construct a section of high-speed rail between Merced and Fresno. Construction could begin as early as 2013. It will likely be the first system to have trains traveling at 220 mph.
• Texas is considering a Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail corridor—a trip distance of 200 to 400 miles with train speeds of 150 mph or higher.
• In the Midwest, the Kalamazoo-to-Dearborn portion of the Chicago-to-Detroit corridor is being implemented, as is the Chicago-to−St. Louis corridor. Construction on Kalamazoo−Dearborn is scheduled to begin this year. When both corridors are complete, service will run at 110 mph.
• On the East Coast, Amtrak has released its updated plan to build a 438-mile high-speed rail corridor by 2040. Trains would run between New York City and Boston or Washington in 94 minutes. Amtrak says the program would create 40,000 construction jobs a year for 25 years and 22,000 permanent jobs.
• Georgia is conducting a Tier 1 NEPA study of the Atlanta-to-Charlotte, N.C., corridor. The study will evaluate 110 mph operations on the shared-use corridor, as well as fully electrified operations at speeds between 180 and 220 mph on a grade-separated greenfield or potential interstate highway corridor.
Thanks to these efforts, Americans are beginning to acknowledge high-speed rail as a critical element of a balanced, efficient, multimodal transportation system.
States can only take their projects so far without federal assistance. To see this alternative transportation mode come to fruition in the United States, we must insist that Congress create a secure, sustainable funding source. We must remain bullish on high-speed rail in America.
Peter Gertler is the high-speed rail services chair for HNTB Corporation. The company is one of the top firms bringing high-speed rail transportation to America.
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Group Getaway? There’s A Vacation Rental For That
(NAPSI)—Coordinating group travel—whether it’s with loved ones, good friends or new acquaintances—may be easier than you realize.
True, each traveler has a vacation preference to take into consideration and, particularly for larger groups, one of the more important vacation decisions requiring a collective consensus may be the type of accommodations selected.
If your plans include spending quality time with the kids, kicking back with the girls or guys for a long weekend or coming together for a grand family reunion, then chances are you’re looking for a comfortable atmosphere that lends itself to making everyone feel as relaxed and at home as possible. That’s why it may be wise to opt for a vacation rental that can deliver many of the conveniences of home while providing the thrill of time away in an enjoyable vacation spot.
Vacation Rental Benefits
Vacation rental companies offer many accommodations with convenient homelike touches such as a fully equipped kitchen, spacious bedrooms, separate living areas and a washer and dryer.
They offer travelers a number of opportunities and amenities:
• Instead of always dining out at a restaurant, families and larger groups may prefer to dine in and share a homemade dinner at the kitchen table or enjoy an outdoor barbecue on the patio.
• Vacationers can relax in spacious bedrooms (many of which have individual televisions), while common living areas let you get together and recount the day’s highlights.
• The convenience of an on-the-spot washer and dryer in most rental units can make packing easier and lighter, while potentially saving you money on extra airline baggage charges.
Confirming these vacation accommodations through a reliable and experienced vacation rental company such as Wyndham Vacation Rentals, which is backed by one of the largest and most trusted hospitality companies in the world, may help take the guesswork—and legwork—out of vacation rental research and pretravel preparations.
To search from a diverse selection of quality accommodations or to learn more about vacation rentals, visit www.WyndhamVacationRentals.com.
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Planning Ahead Can Leave More Time For Fun
(NAPSI)—For many, a Hawaii vacation comes only once or twice in a lifetime. Because it’s seen as such a special event, it’s a good idea to invest a little extra time researching your options before you go.
The good news is that thorough planning can often help to eliminate any loose ends and make for a relatively smooth, fun-filled vacation.
To help, here are some tips:
• A stress-free vacation requires advance planning. Many people head to an island paradise such as Hawaii to get away from it all. Often, that means working to make as few decisions as possible.
That’s one reason many people rent a condominium for their vacation. There are no surprises at check-in. You get what you reserved. Plus, there are local contacts on hand for check-in and for any maintenance needs that may arise.
At a quality condo, such as one of the 16 high-quality condominium resorts managed by Outrigger Hotels and Resorts throughout the Hawaiian islands, no deposit is required prior to check-in and you have the option of changing to a different rental unit if the first one isn’t quite right for you. In addition, there are full kitchens, large living spaces, washers and dryers, great locations and other services and amenities like barbecue and picnic areas.
The services available at their condominiums, located in Hawaii’s best-known vacation destinations, include on-site front-desk staff, on-site management personnel and the security that comes from renting a unit from a highly trusted hospitality company.
• Trying to save a few dollars can make for a very expensive trip. Some people risk their vacation experience by choosing to rent directly from an individual condo owner thinking it will save a few dollars.
They may offer lower rates—but at what cost? The little you save in money can pale in comparison to the cost you pay when it comes to peace of mind.
Owner-direct bookings do not have an on-site representative or services, so once guests pick up the keys to their condo they are, for the most part, on their own and have no options should something go wrong.
Visit www.outrigger.com or call toll free (800) OUTRIGGER (688-7444) for more information.
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Survey Shows Generational Divide Over Relaxation Habits
(NAPSI)—When it comes to leaving work behind, not everyone vacations the same way. That’s a key finding of a recent survey that revealed that boomers (individuals approximately 48−66 years of age) and millennials (individuals approximately 18−31 years of age) have very different approaches when it comes to what they want from a vacation. These differences can be seen in various areas-from how they approach social media while on vacation to how they maintain a work/life balance.
The 2012 Princess Cruises Relaxation Report was commissioned by Princess Cruises with Wakefield Research. Princess Cruises, which annually helps more than 1.3 million passengers escape completely aboard its worldwide fleet of ships, conducted the survey to examine Americans’ ability and approach to relaxation and vacation trends.
“It’s evident through our survey findings that Americans’ approach to relaxation and vacationing is changing with each generation,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president.
Making Time for Relaxation
For starters, it appears that boomers take their vacation time seriously, with only one in three finding it impossible to go an entire vacation without doing anything work related.
In contrast, nearly six out of 10 of younger millennials would not be able to completely escape and disconnect from work on vacation. Millennials are also leaving relaxation time on the table. Of those employed with vacation time available to them, less than half used all their paid time off. Boomers, on the other hand, appreciate their vacation time and nearly 60 percent used all of their allotted time last year.
To Do or Not to Do
Of those surveyed, 57 percent considered themselves “relaxers”—someone who enjoys sitting back and doing nothing—as opposed to the other 43 percent surveyed who described themselves as “doers”—someone who wants to fit as many activities as they can into each escape.
Managing Social Media
In addition to Americans’ varying views on relaxation, many respondents were divided on whether social media is a must-have while on vacation.
For example, 85 percent of millennials reported that a vacation won’t stop them from making a social media update. In contrast, only 48 percent of boomers said they would update a social channel while on vacation.
The No. 1 social media outlet for Americans vacationing is Facebook-nearly six out of 10 Americans said they would likely make an update. The survey also revealed that 16 percent would reportedly visit YouTube and 15 percent would likely visit Twitter while vacationing.
Parenting and Relaxation
Sixty-four percent of parents have taken a vacation without their child, although that comes with a guilt price tag. Of the parents who have vacationed without their kids, 46 percent felt guilty for not taking their kids along. More than half of moms felt guilty about leaving their kids at home but just over a third of dads share their guilty feelings.
Pop Culture Escape Break
On the celebrity vacation buddy front, one in four females said they would like to hang out with Chelsea Handler on a relaxing beach day, whereas 25 percent of all men would rather share their sunblock with Jay Leno.
When asked to describe their perfect vacation libation, 37 percent of females think their dream escape as a mai tai—tropical and beachy—whereas 27 percent of men think of their dream escape as a bottle of beer—party time!
To learn more, visit www.princess.com.
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National Army Museum
(NAPSI)—America’s veterans’ organizations can now receive the recognition they deserve in a new and intriguing way.
Veterans’ organizations, military associations, community groups and membership associations have an opportunity to be forever remembered in the National Museum of the United States Army, planned for Fort Belvoir, Va.
Facts and Functions
According to the Army Historical Foundation, groups that sponsor the museum’s Veterans’ Hall will have their organizations’ names permanently displayed on its donor wall. The Hall will be a space where groups can host official functions.
It will also feature the Registry of the American Soldier, a searchable database of Army veterans.
For further information, visit www.armyhistory.org.
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