Graceland, The King’s Legend Lives On

Despite all the shops selling everything Elvis from records to stam181028_graceland_living_roomps and all things Presley inbetween, once you enter the gates of Graceland and start the drive up towards the mansion, there’s an overwhelming feeling that this is a special place. Whether you’re wandering around listening to an audio tour, or taking the staff led version, you get a definite sense of time having stopped still on the day that Elvis died. The so-called “Jungle Room”, and then state of the art living room are probably little changed from the last time he saw them. Perhaps that’s a little spooky, but hey this is Graceland!

Outside in the Memorial Garden is the best glimpse into what makes Graceland precious to the millions of Elvis fans worldwide. Here the King of Rock and Roll is buried, and the atmosphere around his graveside is full of respectful regret as fans look at their hero’s final resting place as his music softly plays from the hidden depths of the memorial area. With floral tributes from various Elvis fan clubs still in operation, it’s hard to believe how many years it is since Elvis sang his long songs.

There’s a lot of hype around Graceland, and there’s a lot of places in Memphis to buy Elvis related products, but if you’re in any way a fan of the King, then you really should make the effort to visit his beautiful mansion and pay your respects in person. Tourist-haunt, perhaps, but one that’s worth the money to see how a legend lived, and the place he’s laid to rest.

Avoid the Fuss, Get Married on your Caribbean Vacation

The Caribbean offers a huge selection of wedding ideas for anyone who is tempted by the idea of getting married barefoot on the beach. Many of the resorts have a wedding coordinator who can help you organize your ceremony before you even arrive on the island of your choice. 1058580_beach_wedding You will be offered a variety of locations in which to be married, a selection of “extras” such as a wedding bouquet or a wedding cake, perhaps the hotel has their own photographer who can capture the wedding to show family and friends back home, and then you have the opportunity of either staying in the resort for the remainder of your honeymoon, or exploring the island further perhaps going to some romantic places such as Montego Bay, and Dunn’s River Falls if you choose Jamaica. Alternatively you could start married life with some adventure such as white river rafting, or just indulge yourselves in some quality time at the beach.

Getting married in the Caribbean isn’t as difficult as it may first appear. You will be required to produce certain documentation so make sure you start looking into this as soon as you make the decision to be married overseas. The rules and regulations vary from island to island so if your chosen resort has a wedding coordinator, make sure that you use their local knowledge to negotiate the red tape. Apart from paperwork, some islands require you to be on the island a specified period of time before you qualify to be married there. This is usually a few days so again, check this out carefully so that all your plans co-ordinate around the date on which you can legally marry there. Although it may seem complicated, next to organizing a full family wedding at home, it’s nothing! Find out what your chosen Caribbean island requires, comply and you’re almost ready to exchange the rings.

If you’d like to give family and friends the option of attending, give an open invite to anyone to join you providing they pay their own fare/hotel/expenses. There are some close family and friends who will take you up on this so make sure you set out some ground rules in advance so that you don’t bump into your parents when snorkelling with your new husband off St Kitts! Remember that this is your honeymoon as well as your wedding destination and anyone who wants to see you married must to respect this.

With so many islands, the real problem with getting married in the Caribbean isn’t so much how to do it, but rather where! The good thing is that when it comes to making a choice, you can’t make a bad one, so just decide which resort offers you the best deal for your wedding package and make your decision based upon that. Happy Honeymoon!

Diving for Ship Wrecks in the Dominican Republic

Through the perils of pirates and natural disasters the Spanish Galleons approached th823492_the_island-Dom_Repe Dominican Republic only to sink in the waters just off her coastline. Today literally dozens of these shipwrecks lie in their watery graves just waiting to be explored. If you are a diving enthusiast, or are someone who wants to learn a new skill, then this could be a great vacation adventure for you. Some of the wrecks aren’t the result of error or accident however; there are some that are quite close to the shore that were sunk for no other purpose than to create more diving opportunities. Whilst these may not hold the same mystery of the older shipwrecks, their close proximity to the shore means that even more novice divers can explore what lies beneath the waves.

Once you’re finished with the shipwrecks, you can either choose to lie beside the ocean, or take a sightseeing excursion to one of the islands more spectacular sights, the Salto de Auga Blanca where the 87 meter high waterfall cascades down into a beautiful tranquil pool. If you’re interested in ancient history then a visit to the southwest of the country is a must. The Taino cave art in Cueva Las Maravillas can be dated back as much as 2000 years and is another highlight from your vacation to the Dominican Republic that you’ll never forget.

A trip to the Dominican Republic wouldn’t be complete with wandering around the beautiful colonial architecture in its capital city, Santo Domingo. Alongside the restaurants and shops you’ll find the cobbled plazas and buildings of the history city such as the 16th century Caterdral Primada de America. If the ocean world is still calling you then make a visit to the Acuario Nacional where you can walk through plexi-glass tunnels showing a wide variety of local sea life held in the tanks behind. Any kids will be thrilled to enjoy the thrills of the nearby Auga Splash.

The Dominican Republic isn’t just another Caribbean island offering a nice clean beach to lie on. It offers the active and curious visitor a chance to experience the island’s history, admire its natural beauty and explore its ocean treasure. If you’re looking for a Caribbean adventure, you should put the Dominican Republic close to the top of your list!

A Romantic Caribbean Getaway in Jamaica

Romantic Caribbean GetawayOn your holiday in Jamaica you can do exactly that. You can take a romantic ride with your partner – perhaps early morning to see the sun rise together, or in the later afternoon before your evening meal, or if you’d like the opportunity to ride a little more, then you could book a longer horseback experience. It’s possible to take a day, or longer trek where a guide will take you and your partner (either alone, or in a group with others) riding through some fantastic Jamaican scenery.

Another day, why not take a day-trip to the famous Dunns River Waterfalls in Jamaica’s Coho Rios region. This can get crowded on the days that cruise ships are in port so check with your hotel so you choose a time when you’re able to spend a romantic time splashing around in the falls without bumping into large amounts of cruise tourists. Usually the cruise ships will have a set schedule for their passengers so even if you are only in the Dunns River Waterfall area on the same day as the cruise ships, try and schedule your visit before they arrive!

There are many kinds of accommodation on the island of Jamaica, but if you are looking for romance, you probably don’t want to have to deal with children running around, so why not make a reservation to stay at a couples only resort? Here you’ll find that the emphasis is on romance and you’re more likely to have a more peaceful time than you would staying at another resort.

Jamaica is a Caribbean island that’s full of exotic wildlife, clean sand, beautiful oceans and stunning sunsets. It’s the kind of destination that provides a perfect backdrop to that romantic vacation, so find your partner and make that reservation!

Top Tips for Caribbean Cruise Success

Caribbean CruiseCaribbean cruises are destination loaded. This means that you may find yourself in a new port on a different island almost every day. At first it may be exciting, but pace yourself. If you plan on going ashore every day, check out what activities are available in each port and try to alternate a restful day of bus trip/sun bathing/shopping with an activity packed day of hiking and other sports. Also remember that if you’re planning an activity day that has an early time for leaving the ship, you might want to skip the midnight buffet the night before!

Although your Caribbean Cruise may not be too expensive, all those shore excursions can add an substantial amount to your basic price, so make sure you budget accordingly. If you have to make choices to keep your budget down, do some research and see which of the islands have something you don’t want to miss and then book yourself onto those excursions first. If you’ve got money left in your budget, then you can add some others.

Some of the major cruise companies now have their own private island in the Caribbean that has been developed by them solely for the use of their passengers. Whilst the itinerary says ‘private island’, if there are 2000 passengers on board, private doesn’t equal tranquil intimacy! If you’re looking for some peace, and if want to avoid the extra changes that are linked into the private island excursion, then consider staying on board the ship and recharging your batteries for the next day’s activities. With most passengers being seduced by the idea of a beach BBQ, you should find your cruise ship to be far more of a Caribbean dream than the private island.

There’s very little that can spoil the beauty of the Caribbean islands, but make sure that you book the right kind of cruise otherwise the it’s the cruising experience that could turn this holiday of a lifetime into something other than you anticipated.

10 Tips for Budgeting your All-Inclusive Caribbean Holiday

1 The brochure price is possibly misleading. Read the small print to discover any hidden compulsory extras such as gratuities for things such as room cleaning, bed making, luggage carrying etc that may be fixed to your bill at the end of your holiday.

2 Are hotel transfers included in the price, or will you have to organize and pay for your travel to/from the airport?

3 Do they have in-room safes that are free to use, or is there a fee to be paid direct to the hotel?

4What kind of room is provided for the brochure price? If you’re hoping to wake up to an ocean view every morning on your Caribbean holiday, you may find you have to pay more than the basic quoted price.

5 Is all food covered by the all-inclusive price, or only a set number of meals each day? If you enjoy the outdoors and want to spend most of your time making the most of the Caribbean weather, do they provide picnic food as part of the price or can you expect to pay for this locally should you decide to skip the resort restaurant and stay on the beach for lunch?

6 When it comes to drinks, are alcoholic drinks included in the quoted price? Some resorts may only allow soft drinks free, and perhaps a glass of wine with a meal, but otherwise you may need to pay as you would on a holiday that isn’t all-inclusive.

7 If there is evening entertainment at the hotel or resort you’re staying at, are all charges covered for this, or will you need to budget extra in order to enjoy it?

8 Are all activities included in the all-inclusive price? Sometimes they will advertise free activities, but then state that there is a surcharge for some “specialist” activities.

9 Is equipment provided free of charge for the activities or is there a supplement to pay, if you want to go snorkeling for example?

10If it’s an activity you’ve never done before, is there any instruction provided? Is this covered by the all-inclusive price, or is there an additional charge.

Caribbean HolidayIf you can’t find the answer to the questions in the brochure, ask your travel agent for the information, or contact the hotel direct via email if they have a website – and make sure you get their answers in writing before paying your deposit.

What certainly won’t be included in your price is insurance, and you need to consider this especially if you intend to take the opportunity of learning a new water sport such as paragliding. A basic insurance may not cover what the insurers deem to be extreme sports so this so if you’re considering an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation with a large menu of exciting activities to try out, make sure that accidents resulting from such pursuits are covered!

A Caribbean all-inclusive holiday will be full of memories that will last a life-time, but make sure that you find out exactly what it’s going to cost you before making a booking so that none of them are bad ones caused by unexpected expenses.