Early morning glimpse of Alaska’s Inside Passage

6am, the ship’s hallway is very quiet and empty. Bundled up with wind-proof jackets, gloves, and hats we make it outside to the upper deck. As you come out, the air is crisp, the wind stiff, the view and lighting is slowly but surely emerging. Our big cruise ship all of a sudden seems miniscule. There is water, islands, and mountains as far as the eye can see, and nothing else. There seems to be no one out there, except for our co-cruisers of course, early risers that are here to hopefully spot a humpback whale or maybe even a killer whale. The view is magnificent. Rays of sunlight perching through the cloudy sky, lighting up a mountain side, or a spot in the ocean. Just like in an art gallery, the sun highlights different natural masterpieces.

alaska, ocean, inside passage, princess cruise, crown princessThis morning we are sailing into the northern portion of the Inside Passage on our way to Juneau. After a choppy night out on the Northern Pacific we have made it to the calmer, more protected waters. Never ending pine forests and steep glacier carved mountainsides, icebergs, waterfalls, and sometimes a small glaciers. Since we are sailing early in the season we also get to see some snow. Later on, July and August, it will be gone. Looking at the stunning countryside one wonders why nobody inhabits the little islands that scatter all over. It would be the perfect place for someone trying to escape from the world, leading a life dictated by the sun and working for survival only. The lack of fresh water, however, prevents just this. There is very little potable water available in the area and hence it is as unspoiled and untouched as it was thousands of years ago.
sun, rays, ocean, alaska, inside passage, cruise, aavtravel alaska, ocean, views, cruise, princess, aavtravelLater today we are reaching Juneau, Alaska’s State Capital. On this first morning along the Inside Passage we did spot some humpback whales as well as schools of porpoises riding the waves alongside our vessel. We even spotted a bush pilot, hero of the last frontier. Alas, the killer whales will have to wait for another day, but no matter, Alaska already worked its magic. There is no falling out of love with it now.
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Written by STEFANIE
PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is a Princess Cruise Lines Certified Expert at AAV Travel. With her personal experience in Alaska she can help you create and customize a personalized travel itinerary. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

AAV Romance’s Honeymoon Planning Tips or How to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon

Each year, about 1.4 million US couples take a honeymoon. The average spends close to $4,500 for their vacation. 15% of those couples take a “luxury honeymoon” which averages at close to $10,000 for 11 days. No matter where your honeymoon falls, I think we all agree, you deserve the perfect honeymoon. After all, you have a one time shot to get it right.
oahu, hawaii, honeymoon, infinity pool, aavtravelYour honeymoon is meant to celebrate your love and marriage. Every couple I meet has different expectations when it comes to their vacation. Personally, I believe it is super important that those are met. If you are anything like me, you want everything to be perfect.

First off, you need to be aware that many things can go wrong during a honeymoon and I bet you have at least one couple in your circle that doesn’t have the best memory when it comes to their vacation. There are a lot of potential traps, like for example:

  • Arriving in a country where no one speaks English, and you realize you forgot to pre-arrange your transfer to the resort.
  • Booking that cheap flight with a 45 minute layover in Chicago. Chances are, you are not making that connection and might get to your destination a day late.
  • Booking an oceanfront room not realizing that this not necessarily means you will see the ocean as the view can be obstructed.
  • Wishing for a wonderful, peaceful stretch of beach not realizing that your resort sits on a public beach.
  • Being deceived by a resort’s marketing. Trust me, even the biggest and best are guilty of altering their photos.
  • And there are many more.

merida, mexico, honeymoon, aavtravelThese are some of my tips on how to make sure you have the best honeymoon possible:

  1. Decide whether or not you want to work with a honeymoon specialist
    Planning the perfect honeymoon takes a lot of time and research. Some people prefer to do it on their own and that is fine. But if you choose to do so, your research must go way beyond TripAdvisor and a couple of reviews from strangers you don’t know. Personally, I love working with experts. I have long learned that the time they can save is priceless. After all, they know the ins and outs which can save you countless hours of research. If you want to make your honeymoon planning easy and stress-free, I suggest you contact a honeymoon specialist. Not every travel agent will do, you need someone that cares and specializes in honeymoons. That being said, do your due diligence:- How many honeymoons have they planned?- Have you heard of them before?- Do they travel regularly and know what they are talking about?

    – Do they have good reviews?

    A great honeymoon planner gets to know you, learns what it is you are looking for and works with your budget.

  2. Create your honeymoon dream!
    Cuddle up and talk about your honeymoon. These are a few topics you should discuss:- What does your perfect honeymoon day look like?- What do your surroundings look like?

    – Do you want to be very active or are you looking to mainly relax?

    – Any fun things or new things you would absolutely like to try?

    – What kind of romantic experiences are you looking for?

    The clearer your vision becomes, the easier it will be to find your perfect place!
    honeymoon dream sunrise hawaii

  3. Should you stay or should you go?
    Many couples want to leave for their honeymoon the day after their wedding. The idea is most certainly very romantic but in reality you should consider this:- Many flights leave very early in the morning, meaning you are likely not going to get much sleep, if any at all.- It also means that you have to be ready for your trip before you get married. And what if, in all the hustle and bustle, you actually forgot something important, e.g. your passport, or who will be feeding your fish?- It is always nice to check-in 24 hours prior to the flight. Chances are, you won’t have the time to do so on your wedding day.All this being said and done, doesn’t sleeping in the day after your wedding, enjoying each other for a bit, sound much better? I suggest to wait a day or two as your honeymoon departure will be much less stressful. You will have some extra time to take care of things and you will get to your destination relaxed and ready. Extra perk, you will be much calmer should something go wrong on your day of departure.
    beach, oahu, waimanalo, aavtravel
  4. Surprise, surprise!
    Who doesn’t like to be surprised? When talking about your honeymoon, listen to what your significant other reveals. The more you know, the easier it will be to come up with a surprise. Something unexpected. Maybe it is deep sea fishing, maybe it is chartering a private yacht, maybe it is a romantic, secluded pic-nic on the beach. Whatever it is, plan it in secret. It will be extra special and truly show how much you care. You will both treasure that memory forever!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel

Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat has been specializing in planning honeymoons for over 8 years. She is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Island of Hawaii – The Big Island: Island of Adventure – Kailua-Kona, Hilo & Volcanoes National Park

big island, black sand, beach, hawaii, aavtravelThe Island of Hawai’i is the largest and youngest of the main six islands. “Big” Island indeed, as it doubles the size of all of them combined. This is definitely one of the most unique islands because it has 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones. You’ll see white sandy beaches, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, botanical gardens, rainforests and active volcanoes. You will find traditional heiau (temples), rich culture and timeless beauty. Can you name another place where you can experience all that?

Hawai’i, The Big Island Attractions:

Hawaii Volcano National Park – Home to Kilauea volcano. It’s one of the world’s most active volcanoes. This extraordinary place is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s one like no other.

kilauea, volcano national park, hawaii, aavtraveKailua Village – This seaside little town is in the heart of the Kona Coast. Rich with history, it used to be a fishing village and an escape for Hawaiian royalty, but today it’s a popular destination for great shopping, dining and learning about the Hawaiian culture.

kailua, hawaii, kona, surfing, aavtravelHilo – The islands capital city. The region is filled with dramatic waterfalls, rainforests and blooming gardens. It’s the complete opposite of the volcanic Kohala coast! Here you can visit the nations only rainforest zoo–you can see lots of exotic plants and animals, including Namaste, a white Bengal tiger.

akaka falls, hawaii, waterfall, aavtravelAncient Hawaiian History and Culture – Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park provides a look into early Hawaiian culture. Many archeological sites await and it is the perfect place to take a glimpse into Hawaii’s past. Pu’uhonua o Honauau looks particularly beautiful at sunset.

puuhonua, tiki, hawaii, culture, aavtravelKona Coffee Plantations – The Big Island of Hawai’i is home to some of the world’s best coffee. Make sure to stop by a plantation, learn what makes a good coffee, how the beans are harvested and roasted. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the world’s favorite wake up drink afterwards.

coffee, kona, beans, big island, hawaii, aavtravelActivities abound – Kayaking, helicopter tours, hiking, horseback riding, there are so many opportunities to experience this beautiful island. Take your time, soak it in. Allow the Aloha spirit to enchant you.

Snorkeling, Diving & Sports Fishing – Rich in marine life the Big Island is one of the best places to discover Hawaii’s extraordinary underwater world. The protected waters of Kealakaekua Bay for instance are wonderful to snorkel, or you can find one of the island’s many dive shops if you would like to dive deeper. Keep in mind that marine mammals are protected and should not be approached by boat or swimmers.

beach, big island, island of hawaii, aav travel

Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
STEFANIE
PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

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STEPHANIE JELLETTE

Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanieljellett@gmail.com