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GUIDED OR INDEPENDENT

GUIDED TRAVEL OR INDEPENDENT TRAVEL?

When you are ready to explore, one big consideration is often whether to travel as part of a guided travel group or go totally independent.

 

There are good things about both guided and independent travel and many things to consider. It is important to think clearly about what makes sense for your trip. Guided travel has come a long way from years ago when group tours were very regimented with a schedule allowing no flexibility. Independent travel formerly was the only way to have control over how your time is spent while exploring. Times have changed!

Our guided travel options include:
  • Both large and small groups

  • Transportation by rail as well as motor coach

  • Custom groups sometimes have a private motor coach

  • Expert guides to show you the iconic sites

  • Combinations of time involved in group touring alternating with time on your own

  • Themed groups such as culinary groups, wine groups, art groups etc.

  • Tours just for Millennials

  • Guided tour groups for families

  • Hiking Groups

  • Bicycle  Groups

  • Groups that can combine both touring on land as well as time on a ship

  • Group activities such as cooking classes, wine tastings or photography classes

  • Family groups with activities for children as well as separate activities just for adults

  • Opportunities to meet new friends with common interests on guided trips

Our Independent travel options include:
  • Transfers and transportation

  • Private or shared tours of iconic sites

  • Private or shared drivers for winery tours or other areas

  • Private or shared boat tours

  • Combinations of hotels, transportation and city overview tours

  • Excursions both private and with small groups to see sights off the beaten path

  • Some independent travel can be combined with hotels booked with a local host to answer questions or help you plan your days

  • In Ireland we can set up vouchers for B&B properties

  • Our expertise to set up the most important parts of the trip, leaving you with unplanned time as well

We often combine both guided group travel with independent travel to customize a trip to what works best for our clients. Guided travel is a very efficient way to explore. Someone else takes care of all the tedious details, leaving you to just enjoy the destination.

When you want to maximize the value for your travels, keep in mind that the high-quality tour companies we work with provide excellent rates for each part of your trip. For example, due to the volume of hotel rooms they book with their many tours, guided tour companies get very good hotel rates. You also have access to excellent tour guides as the top guides are employed full-time with the best tour companies.

 

When totally independent travel works best, having the most important pieces of the itinerary set up ahead of time means you have paid in US dollars at a set price, you know the activities that are special to you are included and your transportation and hotels are confirmed. This gives you freedom to add in other things that you may choose at the spur of the moment to fill in some of the free days that we always include in our trips!  

 

We do not book through systems that will cause you to be bumped from hotels or put in the undesirable room locations that are reserved for discount online companies. Your vacation time  and money is too important to waste any time with those types of issues . We protect you and your money!

Ready to discuss the best way for you to explore?

Click to fill out our inquiry link.

FOODIE TRAVEL

ARE YOU A FOODIE TRAVELER?

Brasserie
Have you thought about exploring this beautiful world using your taste buds? 

 

This might help you decide if you could be a “Foodie Traveler”.

Let's see how many of these sound like you.

 

What did you do last weekend?

Four-course dinner at your favorite bistro

 

What’s your ideal rainy day activity?

Finally trying to make that amazing recipe you saw online

 

When visiting a foreign country, what is the most important phrase to know how to say? 

“Where should we eat”

 

It’s 7:00 AM. What are you doing?

Setting up the French press for the perfect cup of coffee

 

What is your favorite souvenir to bring home when you travel?

A copy of the menu from your favorite meal

 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What’s the one thing you would bring?

One really good bottle of wine - or two

 

Let’s talk about setting up your adventure!

Ready to enjoy a foodie getaway?

Click to fill out our inquiry link.

SMALL SHIP LUXURY CRUISING

SMALL SHIP LUXURY CRUISING

Crowded decks. Crowded ports. Crowded buffets with warmed-over, uninspired dining choices—often, a cruise feels anything but glamorous. But small-ship luxury cruising couldn’t be further from the “typical” cruise.

 

And with inclusive pricing (these luxury lines aren’t out to nickel and dime you once you step on board), the experience is in closer reach than you may think. If you’ve tried mid-range or standard ocean cruises—or you think you’re not a “cruise person” to begin with—it just may be time to give luxury small-ship cruising a try.

 

Discover why:
Cruising, Reimagined

 

A luxury small-ship cruise is more relaxed, more refined, and definitely offers more breathing room on board. Sleek, often yacht-style ships range anywhere from fewer than 100 to about 800 passengers—you’ll never feel like you're crushed on your cruise like sardines in a can! Luxury comes into play with gourmet dining (often reflecting the cuisine of the destinations you visit), spacious suites, top-shelf liquors, and polished design touches. This is the opposite of kitschy cruising.

 

Explore More Authentically

 

One of the biggest benefits of your ship’s small size is that you get to dock where those mega cruisers can’t. That means more off-the-beaten-path ports of call, where you can enjoy authentic interactions with the locals. Small-ship cruising sails you right to a region’s “hidden gems,” still untouched by mass tourism.

 

Experience the luxury of real discovery, with tailored excursions built around cultural immersion. Join knowledgeable guides on city walking tours, exclusive vineyard visits, or biking excursions into the countryside. Or, simply stroll off the ship and start exploring on your own! Because of your ship’s size and ability to dock in smaller ports, you don’t have to board a big tour bus every time your cruise ship lands to ride into your destination. Instead, you arrive right in the heart of your destination—and it's all yours to discover, at exactly your own pace.

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Toasting on Cruise
Little Touches, Big Difference

 

Smaller ships mean a higher crew-to-passenger ratio—and that leads to a better, more thoughtful on-board experience. Don’t be surprised if the dining room waiter remembers your name, or the mixologist whips up your favorite cocktail without you even having to ask. With small-ship cruising, you’re trading in anonymity for intimacy.

 

The focus on service is what truly catapults your experience into the realm of “luxury.” All the little pampering touches end up making a big difference, as the in-tune crew anticipates your needs.

 

You’ll enjoy luxurious touches you didn’t even know you were missing on previous cruises, like complimentary laundry service (how nice will it be to unpack clean clothes when you get back home!).

And with inclusive pricing (these luxury lines aren’t out to nickel and dime you once you step on board), the experience is in closer reach than you may think. If you’ve tried mid-range or standard ocean cruises—or you think you’re not a “cruise person” to begin with—it just may be time to give luxury small-ship cruising a try.

READY TO SET SAIL IN LUXURY?

As small ship luxury cruise experts, we’d love to pair you with your perfect-fit cruise experience. Just fill out our trip inquiry form to get started!

RIVER CRUISIN

EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISING

When we started our travel planning business in 1996, at that time we knew about European River Cruising, but most of our US clients did not yet know anything about this style of travel. There were also a lack of good options for exploring the US on rivers and lakes. So much has improved in both regions of this beautiful world and we are so happy to share this experience with you!

 

European river cruising has become known to Americans and we are happy to explain how it works! During the 1990s, the Rhine-Main-Daube canal was finished.This canal made it possible to sail Europe’s rivers from the North Sea all the way to the Black Sea. This created so many great options for exploring central Europe! The Danube and Rhine are the two most popular rivers to explore from a cruise ship.

 

Cruising the rivers and Great Lakes of the US is a perfect way to see vast areas of our wonderful country.  You avoid the hassles of driving yourself and then the disappointment of not really seeing the types of sites you want to see in each region.  Travel on our river and lake cruises opens up so many opportunities to immerse yourself in areas you might not be able to see otherwise!

 

Cruising on our recommended river cruises is such a lovely experience, and so much is included! You will enjoy a luxury level experience while onboard, with beautifully prepared meals and highly refined service. As you stop each day in the towns along the river, you will enjoy the included shore excursions, with local expert guides. You are also free to just step off the ship into the small towns and walk those ancient cobblestone streets on your own!

Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer
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We know the ships and the itineraries, so when you use our services, you will have an expert helping you craft a wonderful experience. Some of our river cruises have butlers, some have pools on the upper decks, and work-out areas and spas onboard.

 

The river cruise lines are expanding options all the time based on feedback from guests, so staterooms are getting larger, amenities are increasing, and cuisine is becoming more attuned to special dietary needs of guests.

 

Cruising rivers eliminates concerns some travelers have who may experience sensitivity to motion when sailing on other types of ships. River cruising is not a good match for those with mobility problems, so we would have other recommendations for those travelers.

 

River cruises are a perfect setting for group travel such as wine clubs, culinary clubs, wellness groups, yoga groups, and history buffs. The combination of interesting activities and the relaxing atmosphere of the ship makes a river cruise the idea venue for a group of friends to reconnect by sharing a getaway.

Ready to explore on a European river cruise?

Click to fill out our inquiry link.

US RIVER CRUISING

US RIVER CRUISING