Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot Tip: San Diego

Photo by Cynthia Dial
One of my fav nights of the year in San Diego - opening weekend of the Summer Pops.  Let me set the stage: city to the right, bay to the left, patriotic music performed by the San Diego Symphony, Marvin Hamlisch as guest conductor, a fireworks finale . . . perfect!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Inside Las Vegas

What to do during 4 hr delay at Las Vegas a/p, now leaving after midnight? Gambling?@! Popeyes fried chicken for me (C-23).

Hot Tip Sturgeon Bay

In Sturgeon Bay, stop at Popelka Trenchard Glass Fine Art Gallery & Studio. Top talent Jeremy Popelka has taught a glass making class for Dale Chihuly. His wife/partner is equally talented.

Hot Tip Milwaukee

Go to the Milwaukee Public Market, downtown at Water & St. Paul for cheese, wine bar, brats, chocolate cherry candies, cheese curds & chili . . . everything Wisconsin, even cheeseheads. Stop at the Brew City Brand Apparel booth. Amanda will help you.

Five-Hours-At-Airport Advice

Best stop MKE a/p: Renaissance Book Shop (used books). Dave will help you.

Tip: Door County

Stay here. Black Walnut B&B, Sturgeon, WS.

Must-do Door County

Best bet. Door County Trolley Tour.

Must-do Door County

Go here. Windmill Farms, Baileys Harbor, WS, restored 1900s farmhouse, offering home stay, antique shop & art studio.

Must-do Door County

Cherry coffee at Door County Coffee & Tea Co. Try it!

Must-do Door County

"Peter Rowley" at Rowley's Fish Boil makes Door County must-do fish boil fun.

Inside Scoop Door County

Door County. Life is just a bowl of cherries.

One Word

One word Door County. Quaint.

Monday, June 25, 2012

1st Night Door County

Dilemma: I arrived at Door County B&B Black Walnut Guest House in Sturgeon Bay, WS, around 8pm - just in time for a get-acquainted walk around town. But my room, the Eastlake Room, offered another suggestion. Stairs leading to the turret revealed a window-surrounded jacuzzi tub accessorized by tea lights and a red rubber ducky. I opted for the jacuzzi. Did I mention there were lavender bath salts and a plate of chocolates too?

On-the--road Sighting

Thanks Milwaukee Airport for supporting our troops!

Inside Travel Scoop

And the winner of best a/p hamburger award is . . . Northpoint, MKE.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In My Own Backyard . . .

Summer kick-off at The Del in Coronado was deliciously memorable.  Example: Watermelon Carpaccio, Quail with Expresso Laquer, Gouda & Green Garlic Potato Gratin. Did I say it was delicious?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Summer Solstice!

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Happy Summer Solstice! This photo was taken several years ago in Lapland, Finland, within the Arctic circle on 6/21 in celebration of Solstice.  It's 1 a.m.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Straight from the Swiss

Swiss Deluxe Hotels (39 in world): 850 quality standards have to be met to live up to their rigid criteria.


Switzerland is 1/10 the size of California.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Trip Tip

Invaluable info follows for airline travelers.

But first, I have an additional tip.  Set your watch to the time of your destination upon boarding the plane.  It really helps your mindset when you're ready to start that 500 page book but your watch says 1 a.m.  My rules dictate that instead of reading, I go to sleep. The result is that I arrive "ready to go."  Your suggestions?
Photo by Cynthia Dial

To learn more, go to USA Today's Travel Tips.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Today's Travia

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Mexico City has nearly 90,000 taxicabs, more than any other city in the world.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Travel $aving$ for Cruise Afficiondos

New CruiseGlobus Website Links to Discounted Cruises

GLEN MILLS, PA, (June 3, 2012) – Travelius/CruiseGlobus, a leader in the discount cruise industry, announced the launch of, a website devoted to matching cruise consumers with travel agents offering the lowest prices, many at a 50-60% discount.

“This service is free,” said CruiseGlobus founder Mrs. Antoinette Clair.  “The company is able to offer the best cruise prices by having travel agents compete for the business of potential clients.” 

The website process is simple.  Customers complete a form indicating the desired cruise line and preferred sailing date.  Within hours of providing this information the customer is contacted via email by several travel professionals with their agency’s best price, allowing for a comparison of quotes. 

CruiseGlobus’ benefits are plentiful: the customer is not obligated to accept any of the offers, there is no limit to the number of requests made of the travel agents and it is possible to contact the travel agent directly to book the cruise.

Travel agents affiliated with CruiseGlobus are industry professionals who are able to provide the best rates because they continually receive up-to-date information on cruise fare discounts, promotions and special purchases not found on the Internet.  The agents are equally knowledgeable about passenger documents, eligibility and other cruise-related travel services.
“In addition to the booking benefits, our website is a great resource for a variety of cruises to an assortment of around-the-world destinations,” said Mrs. Clair citing that CruiseGlobus currently presents more than 80 ocean and river cruises.

This informative function is complemented by the website’s up-to-date Cruise News section, designed to further assist customers in best matching a cruise to their needs and budget.

“While CruiseGlobus currently offers discounts only in the cruise market, plans are to expand the website’s services to additional areas within the travel industry,” concluded Mrs. Clair.
About CruiseGlobus
As a leading discount cruise center, CruiseGlobus is the go-to online resource for customers to compare different deals, ensuring they receive the lowest price for their cruise of choice. 

Follow CruiseGlobus on Twitter at!/CruiseGlobus22 . 

For more information go to

Antoinette Clair - Owner
Phone: 610-558-0660
Fax: 610-924-7304

Monday, June 4, 2012

Most Important Cruise Commodity? The Food

Most important cruise ship commodity.  Ports of call?  Ship size?  Cruise line?  Dining experience? 

Photo by Cynthia Dial
For many, I've been told a cruise's dining experience is primo.  So, I figured that since eating is such a big part of the cruise experience, you might appreciate a bit of insight into the options on today's top cruise lines.  Bon appetit!

Crystal Cruises
Crystal has two specialty dining restaurants—Prego (Italian) and Master Chef Nobu Matsushisa's Silk Road and The Sushi Bar(Asian) —and allows for one pre-cruise dining reservation in each for a total of two pre-cruise reservations, per stateroom, on each voyage. Once on board, you may see the maître d’ to make additional reservations based on availability. There is no extra charge to guests for specialty dining.
Charming and romantic, Prego brings the flavors of Italy to Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. A seasonally changing Valentino at Prego menu features signature dishes such as Scaloppine Di Vitello Servite Con Capelli D’angelo and Linguine Con Aragosta E Zucchini, along with wines that are served at Piero Selvaggio’s revered Los Angeles and Las Vegas restaurants, Valentino. Valentino is considered by many to be among the finest Italian restaurants in the country.
The eclectic–and delectable–cuisine of world-renowned master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa is prepared by Nobu-trained chefs at Silk Road and The Sushi Bar. Regarded for his innovative approach to sushi, Nobu blends classically styled Japanese foods with distinct Peruvian and European influences. While The Sushi Bar offers an assortment of Nobu’s inventive sushi and sashimi, including Salmon Tartar with Sevruga Caviar, Tiradito Nobu-style and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Silk Road presents his celebrated dishes such as Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and his signature dessert, a Bento Box filled with Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Shiso Syrup and Sesame Ice Cream. The famed chef enjoys a long history with Crystal and unveiled his own line of fine china during Crystal Serenity’s inaugural season.

Cunard ships have an assortment of specialty dining options. Queen Mary 2 has La Piazza, The Carvery, Lotus, and Chef’s Galley; Queen Victoria has Bamboo, Coriander, and Prime; and Queen Elizabeth has Jasmine, Atzec and Asado. A cover charge of $10 per person will be payable in the evenings to dine in these unique restaurants.
Queen Mary2 and Queen Victoria also offer the Todd English restaurant. Reservations are required but cannot be made until on board; there is a charge of $20 per person for lunch and $30 per person for dinner.
Details about Cunard’s specialty restaurants:
• Todd English is a stunning restaurant featuring innovative Mediterranean cuisine, eponymously named for the world-famous celebrity chef. La Piazza serves pasta, pizza and a mouth-watering selection of Italian specialties.
• The Carvery serves the finest carved beef, lamb, pork and poultry.
• Lotus serves a tempting taste of the Far East.
• Chef’s Galley is an interactive dining event where guests observe one of the ship’s chefs prepare each course of their meal. Reservations are required on a first-come, first-serve basis and can only be made once on board.
• Bamboo serves superb Asian cuisine.
• Coriander offers a taste of India.
• Prime features contemporary American favorites and prime steaks.
• Jasmine serves exquisite Asian cuisine.
• Aztec serves interpretations of Mexican classics.
• Asado is a South American grill offering sublime meat dishes.

Disney Cruises
Palo is an adult exclusive restaurant located on all of Disney’s ships. The restaurant serves Northern Italian cuisine for dinner and brunch and high tea on select cruises. Reservations at Palo can be made online or after boarding the ship; seating is limited and dining is limited to guests 18 and older. High tea is $10 per guest; Palo is $20 per guest for both dinner and brunch.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have Remy, an intimate adult-exclusive restaurant offering the most upscale dining experience available onboard. The restaurant serves the finest in French-inspired cuisine for dinner. Reservations are required and can be made online or after boarding the ship. Seating is limited and advance reservations are recommended. Dining is limited to guests 18 and older. Remy is $75 per guest for dinner.

Holland America Line
Holland America Line features two specialty restaurants—The Pinnacle Grill (fresh seafood and Pacific Northwest specialties) and the Tamarind Restaurant (Pan-Asian fare).
The Tamarind Restaurant is exclusive to Holland America Line’s Signature-class ships, ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Dinner reservations are $15 per adult, $7.50 for children ages 13-17, complimentary for children ages 12 and under, and may be pre-booked online or with Ship Services. Lunch reservations may only be made on board, but incur no extra charge.
The Pinnacle Grill is available by reservation only for both lunch and dinner and is ideal for a romantic dinner or a special group celebration. Adults are $25 per person for dinner or $10 for lunch. Children under 12 dine free of charge and a discount of 50% applies for children between 13 years and 17 years of age.
HAL exclusively offers “An Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill” aboard its fleet of 15 ships. On every voyage of seven days or longer, the Pinnacle Grill is transformed for at least one night into a Le Cirque-like atmosphere which is available to all guests.
Canaletto comes to life for dinner when a section of the Lido restaurant is transformed each night into the family style Italian restaurant. Canaletto’s menu features daily, traditional Italian favorites with entrees rotating nightly. It’s a casual dining venue that seats 66 at no extra charge. (Reservations are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted.) Available on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Oosterdam, ms Amsterdam, ms Veendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam, ms Statendam and ms Maasdam.

Norwegian Cruise Line
With Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising comes Freestyle Dining. You’ll have access to specialty dining restaurants with cover charges between $10 and $30 per guest; reservations are recommended. Choose from a traditional Steakhouse, French gourmet Le Bistro, Asian Fusion, Brazilian Churrascaria, Teppanyaki for grilled steak, seafood, chicken and veggies, plus sushi (priced a la carte), Chinese (also a la carte), and more.

Oceania Cruises
The Marina, Regatta, Nautica and Insignia each have specialty restaurants Toscana (Italian) and Polo Grill. Marina also has Jacques (French, named for Jacques Pépin) and Red Ginger (Japanese and Vietnamese). Reservations can be made in advance online or on board and number of reservations may be dependent on sailing category. There is no additional charge for any of the specialty dining rooms.

Princess Cruises
On Princess Cruises, specialty dining venues vary by ship. Sabatini’s has authentic Italian fare, featuring pasta and seafood specialties in a setting reminiscent of a Tuscan villa. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $20 per person. Crown Grill is premium aged beef and fresh seafood. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $25 per person. Bayou Café Steakhouse is the first New Orleans-inspired specialty restaurant at sea, serving traditional Cajun and Creole influenced food with live jazz. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $25 per person. Sterling Steakhouse is a more refined approach to cooked-to-order aged beef.

Regent Seven Seas
Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager have steakhouse Prime 7 and the Mariner and Voyager also have Signatures, a French restaurant featuring Le Cordon Bleu®-inspired cuisine. Reservations can be made in advance or on board. All dining is included in Regent’s all-inclusive cruises.

Royal Caribbean International
There are two specialty restaurants most of the RCI ships — Chops Grill and Portofino Restaurant. Advanced reservations are recommended; however, reservations can be made at the restaurant based on availability. There is a $20 per person service charge to dine at the Portofino Restaurant and a $25 per person service charge for Chops Grille.

On Silversea, specialty dining is available on all ships, except Silver Explorer, the line’s expedition vessel. The Relais & Chateaux restaurant is Le Champagne (French), plus the Silver Spirit has Seishin (Asian). Reservations can be made on board and there is a charge of $30 for Le Champagne and the same for Seishin.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Adios Dominican Republic

The Duty Free shops at Puntacana airport make leaving a bit easier. The newest addition to the lineup is Victoria Secret (opened yesterday). Then there are options of Dominican Republic rums (dark or light), DR coffee (delish), DR cigars (said to be better than Cuban), Presidente beer (most popular island drink) and jewelry made from Larimar stone (only mine where it is found is in DR; the light color of turquoise is said to simulate the blue of the Caribbean Sea).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Puntacana Perk

Final night Tortuga Bay treat: bubble bath, bougainvillea and candles. Return from dinner surprise.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Breakfast Memory

Morning breakfast with golf legend PB Dye is a memory. Learned that of Dominican Republic's 26 courses he and his dad designed 11. That's quite a stat.