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Air Canada Vacations - Travel Blog

20 Apr

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Cuba with the kids

April 20, 2016 | By |

Cuba with the kids is one of the best choices you’ll ever make: tons of activities, warm, calm waters, and resorts for every style.

Havana

The largest city in the Caribbean welcomes you with rich heritage, glorious colonial architecture and a lively atmosphere of love, music and life. Be sure to wander the streets of Old Havana, a fascinating World Heritage Site.

With the Kids: Lenin Park

Inaugurated by Fidel Castro in 1973, this sprawling park makes for a great day for the family with an amusement park, an aquarium, pools and lots more.

Choose from 20 hotels & resorts

Holguin

Christopher Columbus called this area “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen.” Explore pristine reefs, spectacular beaches, rolling hills and a provincial capital full of life and history.

With the Kids: Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park

A beautiful natural aquarium lets you swim with dolphins and watch trained sea lions. Be sure to enjoy some great home cooking, the mini-zoo and the lovely nature trails.

Choose from 10 resorts

Varadero

One of the world’s greatest beaches! Glistening white sands stretch on forever, touched by turquoise waters and cool breezes. Here, you’ll find lots of family-friendly resorts and activities for everyone.

With the Kids: Boca de Guamà Crocodile Farm

Cuba’s largest crocodile farm is great fun for everyone, offering a unique experience of these incredible animals in a facility that has saved two species from extinction.

Choose from 33 resorts

Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara)

Ringed by the whitest, softest beaches you’ve ever seen, this pristine island is a vacation paradise. Spend your time relaxing on the beach, dining at your stylish resort or exploring the wonderful natural world.

With the Kids: Swim with Dolphins

At the Dolphinarium Cayo Santa Maria you get to swim, interact and have your picture taken with these graceful animals. Now, that’s a pretty great childhood memory.

Choose from 11 resorts

Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo

Tucked away in the brilliant King’s Gardens (Jardines del Rey) archipelago, these two islands offer a getaway full of white-sand beaches, great resorts, watersports, pristine nature and lots of family fun.

With the Kids: Catamaran Tour

For a new perspective, take to the water onboard a smooth-sailing catamaran. Many tours include snorkelling and lunch, so you can make a day of it.

Choose from 12 resorts

20 Apr

By

Sabrina is in the Know

April 20, 2016 | By |

Sabrina Brassard is the Air Canada Vacations Destination Supervisor in Varadero, Cuba. She’s the one that makes sure your vacation is full of all the things you want to see and do. She tells us why she has the best job and why you’ll love Cuba.

What makes this the best job?

This is the best job because it’s different every day; I’m always learning something new. We have an amazing team of destination representatives who love what they do. We all feel great when we help our guests have the best time on vacation.

What do you like most about Varadero? Cuba?

Varadero is an all-in-one kind of place. You can enjoy the beautiful beaches and then go out in downtown Varadero. And you are close to Havana. What’s great about Cuba is that the local people are really welcoming and there’s so much history and culture.

Why will families love this destination?

Almost every hotel has dedicated services for children. Off the resort, there are lots of tours and activities that are fun for kids. And Varadero is very safe.

What’s special for couples, friends or groups?

Lots of our hotels have special packages for honeymooners. For groups, you can book private excursions and activities, and most hotels are open to organizing special group events.

One place we all have to visit?

The Rancho Cangrejo Dolphinarium. It’s in the middle of the Atlantic and you can only get there by boat. All the dolphins were either rescued or born there which makes it extra special.

One thing we all have to try?

A catamaran cruise. You’ll get to go snorkelling, visit a beautiful beach and enjoy a delicious seafood lunch.

20 Apr

By

Cuba, the Great

April 20, 2016 | By |

With so many sights, adventures and ways to have fun, it’s no surprise that Cuba is one of Canada’s favourite vacation destinations. From the cobbled streets of Old Havana to the endless shimmering sand, and gorgeous tropical landscapes, a vacation here is everything you could ever ask for.

Air Canada Vacations flies to five of the best areas and offers resorts for every style and budget, including great options for families. So, don’t wait. Pack your bags and head to all the sun and fun of Cuba, the Great.

Enjoy!

13 Apr

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7 Reasons You Should Go To Portland

April 13, 2016 | By |

Keep Portland Weird is the city’s unofficial slogan and the drive behind what makes this such an eclectic, inspiring and wonderful place to visit. Here are 7 reasons you should go. And while you’re there be sure to share, hashtag #PDXNOW.

1. Food Is A Way Of Life

Portland basically invented farm-to-table. For delicious local fare, head to Clyde Common or DOC for seasonally inspired Italian like risotto with spinach-pesto-roasted pepitas. Be sure to stop at one of the 600+ food carts conveniently grouped in “pods”. For the best Thai chicken, look for Nong’s Khao Man Gai, or head to Grilled Cheese Grill where the simple classic is taken to new heights.

2. Coffee Culture Second To None

2013 Travel Portland spring/summer shoot. by Jamie Francis jamierafe@yahoo.com 5039755174 jamiefrancis.com

For lovers of good coffee and delicious pastries, take a break at one of the many artisanal cafés serving a mix of independent roasters. Head to Heart Roasters for a lighter Scandinavian-style roast with subtle fruit flavours and pastries from Bakeshop. Coava serves up some of the best single-origin coffee in the city, while Courier mixes micro-roasting and a deep collection of vinyl.

3. World-Famous Wine, Beer and Cider

2014 Travel Portland beer. by Jamie Francis jamierafe@yahoo.com 5039755174 jamiefrancis.com

The Willamette Valley Winery Tour is a great way to discover Portland’s most famous wine region. This self-guided tour includes stops at David Hill Vineyards & Winery, whose 2012 Estate Pinot Gris earned a rating of 91 from Wine Enthusiast, and Tualatin Estate Vineyards, one of the region’s oldest winemakers. You’ll also find urban wineries offering up sophisticated tasting menus in stylish settings like Hip Chicks Do Wine, which opened way back in 1999.

If craft brews are your favourite thing, Portland boasts over 65 local breweries. Pick up The Portland Beerbook for the most essential choices.

Local orchards support a vibrant cider scene, providing a huge selection of fresh opportunities like Reverend Nat’s blend of heirloom apples, or Swift Cider’s spicy barrel-aged creations.

4. A Whole Year Of Events And Festivals

With a full schedule all year long, you’ll definitely find something to pique your interest. How about the Holiday Ale Festival or the Oregon Brewers Festival for a good brew? If music is your travel passion, don’t miss the PDX Jazz Festival or the Waterfront Blues Festival. But if food is your love, check out the Portland Farmers Market and Dining Month every March.

5. The Great Outdoors

Great Outdoors

About 30 minutes from downtown Portland, you’ll find yourself in the untouched wilds of the great north Pacific Coast. Columbia River Gorge is home to 77 warterfalls and extensive trails. Iconic Mount Hood boasts the longest ski season in North America, old growth forest and 1,000 of miles of trails. Head west to the Oregon Coast for scenic shorelines, nautical history and tasty crabbing.

6. No Sales Tax So Shop Shop Shop

The city has no sales tax! So shop as much as you like, it’s a lot more fun this way. Head to Downtown Portland for famous department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s. Pioneer Place has major brands like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. For a bit more local whimsy, try the Pearl District and the Northwest / Nob Hill areas.

7. Urban Green

On March 13th, 2015 the cherry blossoms are in full bloom at the downtown water front along the Willamette River in Portland, OR. (NOT published)

Portland has 288 public parks ranging from the smallest park in the world, Mill End Park, to the sprawling 5,156 acre Forest Park with 113 km of trail right in the city. For a more polished green experience, head to the Lan Su Chinese Garden or the expanded Japanese Garden. For a daylong adventure, try the 4T Trail. It’s a self-guided tour that uses trails, trams, trolleys and trains for a close encounter with urban nature.

Interested in learning more about Portland? Click here to find out more or to start planning your trip today!

28 Mar

By

6 Reasons You Should Cruise with Princess

March 28, 2016 | By |

Princess Cruises is a true original. They’ve built their success on one simple premise: you ask, we deliver. That’s why on a Princess cruise, you’re bound to discover the unexpected onboard, at the table, and on shore.

1. The Itineraries

Let your floating resort take you to the fun and sun of the Caribbean. Or perhaps Europe is more your style with a unique perspective of some of the most fascinating destinations like Rome, Barcelona, and the Greek Islands, with special emphasis on UNESCO World Heritage Sites and late night departures. If nature and wildlife is your cup of tea, how about a cruise to Alaska where you’ll explore pristine waterways, glaciers and humpback whales. And with Princess’ newest enrichment program, “North to Alaska,” you’ll get a deeper sense of the history and culture of Alaska through presentations from lumberjacks, an Iditarod champion, National Park Rangers and signature authentic Alaska cuisine.

2. The Excursions

White Pass Railroad, Alaska, Skagway

White Pass Railroad, Alaska, Skagway

Princess delivers an unbeatable experience on shore with immersive shore excursions for every interest, from wildlife to culture and culinary traditions. They’ve even partnered with Discovery Communications™ to offer Discovery and Animal Planet Recommended tours that bring hit shows to life, like Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush. There are also Discovery and Animal Planet Exclusive tours that have experiences you can only get through Princess.

3. The Dining

On board everything is fresh, authentic and delicious but you asked for more so Princess delivered. Award-winning Chef Curtis Stone serves up SHARE, a new concept in dining, based around the connection between people, food and stories. Be sure to check out the exciting Salty Dog Gastropub, and to take a sip or two of Princess’s own brew, the Seawitch Craft Beer.

4. The Activities

There’s always something to do on board day and night. With Princess@Sea you can use your phone to plan your day’s events and activities, review the ship’s itinerary and port guides, browse restaurant menus, even access your stateroom account! Be sure to check out Festivals of the World that recreate all the splendor of Mardi Gras, Rio Carnival, the Carnival of Venice and many, many more.

5. The Fun for Kids and Teens

Fun for Kids

Princess has activities for every age. Their Youth Centers offer lots of supervised activities for ages 3 to 12. And their Teen Lounges, for ages 13-17, are packed with Play Station games, movies, karaoke, and more. Be sure to drop your kids off for a fun-filled kids-only dinner. They’ll have a blast and you can enjoy a few quiet moments to yourselves.

6. The Luxury Beds

Luxury beds2

Princess has thought of everything, including your wellness. They’ve partnered with leading experts in both the science and beauty of sleep to develop the new Princess Luxury Bed. You’ll enjoy the ultimate sleep at sea and come back from your vacation feeling refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated.

Ready to choose your cruise? Get started today!

23 Mar

By

Barbados for the Whole Family

March 23, 2016 | By |

Barbados is the perfect island for a family vacation because there’s so much to do no one could ever get bored. There’s something for everyone and for every age.

Celebrations of Rhythm

The #1 heritage show in Barbados! Share an evening of Barbadian history and culture complete with food, music, dance and a spectacular show with indigenous folk characters, fire limbo, Moko Jumbies (stilt walkers), drummers, singers and dancers.

Swimming with the Turtles

Perfect for the animal lover in your family. You’ll see a whole new world as you snorkel with these amazing creatures. The clear, blue waters of Barbados make this an unforgettable experience. Try a sailboat tour or a snorkelling picnic to make a day of it.

Island Safari

4X4 Land Rovers guarantee that this is a fun expedition. Discover the exceptional nature, history, culture and folklore of Barbados at captivating places usually inaccessible to ordinary vehicles. You really will see the most strikingly scenic parts of the island.

Segway Barbados

An eco-friendly outdoor adventure. The whole family will love this new way to get out and explore the beautiful scenery, stunning coastlines and natural wonders of Barbados. Plus, you get to enjoy all the fun of smooth-riding Segways.

Spy’s Watersports Flyboarding

The most fun you can ever have! The latest watersports craze is like becoming a real life superhero. Fly into the air, dive into the waves and try some tricks. It’s fun and surprisingly easy to learn. You’ll be a hero in just a few minutes.

Oistins Fish Fry

A true island original. At night, this little town is transformed with music and dancing, the aroma of fried fish and the most sumptuous Bajan dishes. It’s a great chance for the whole family to cut loose, meet some locals and really immerse yourselves in Barbadian culture.

23 Mar

By

Peter Takes Us Home

March 23, 2016 | By |

Peter Mayers, a Bajan native, is the Director of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. for Canada. He takes us back to the island of his youth to tell us just why it’s such a magical place.

Why will Canadian families love Barbados?

Canadian families come for the beaches, culinary scene and rich list of events in Barbados; but they return repeatedly because of the warm, friendly people and celebratory spirit.

What do you remember most about growing up in Barbados?

The strong sense of community, which still exists today.

If you took us on a tour, where would we go?

The scenic spots like Harrison’s Cave, and the best beaches on the east and west coast. The historic spots like the Garrison Historic Area in Bridgetown (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Plus, no trip to Barbados—the birthplace of rum—would be complete without a trip to Mount Gay Rum or St. Nicholas Abbey.

What kinds of accommodations will we find?

Barbados offers everything from the elegance of world-class resorts and private villas, to family-friendly all-inclusive resorts and full-service suites.

The best thing for kids to do?

Discover! There are subterranean streams and waterfalls to explore, and an underwater shipwreck to see in a submarine tour.

Your favourite dish?

The catch of the day with grilled potatoes and veggies from Oistins Fish Fry.

Any tips for an amazing family vacation?

Visit during a festival for a truly unforgettable experience. You don’t want to miss the culture and colour of Crop Over in July.

Any fun expressions we should know?

There is a Bajan saying: Every day don’t break the same way! It means “every day is different”; and indeed it is, with so much to do in Barbados!

23 Mar

By

Summer is for Barbados

March 23, 2016 | By |

This year, give your kids something priceless. Give them a summer to remember with a family vacation to the island of Barbados. Choose a family-friendly resort from the Air Canada Vacations’ Family Collection and enjoy discounts for kids, kids pools, a supervised kids’ club and more. Or if you’re feeling more independent, choose a villa and take the opportunity to discover even more of this great island.

Barbados has so much to offer families. Enjoy long, calm beaches on the Caribbean side, incredible local restaurants for every taste, and activities for every age. And all this, with the welcoming warmth of true Bajan charm.

22 Mar

By

8 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Hungary

March 22, 2016 | By |

Hungary may not be on the tip of your tongue when you think of where to go in Europe, but it should be. For centuries, this amazing country, and especially its capital, Budapest, were the heart and soul of Europe. Here are 8 things you probably don’t know about Hungary:

1. Incredible Architecture

Hungary’s artistic heritage survives in its architecture, from Roman ruins, medieval towns, baroque churches and Art Nouveau bathhouses. One of the grandest buildings of them all is The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. Completed in 1904, this palatial building is the largest in Hungary and the highest in Budapest. Its construction included half a million precious stones and 88 lbs of gold. Hungary also boasts the second largest synagogue in the world.

2. The Year of Gastro Adventure

Year of Gastro Adventure2

2016 is a yearlong celebration of the variety and quality of the Hungarian culinary tradition. Hungary is the host country of the Bocuse d’Or European culinary championship. There are festivals throughout the year where you can taste traditional and international dishes, meet the farmers and craftsmen, and sample world-renowned wines, like the honey-gold Tokaj. The largest of these events is the Festival of Folk Arts in Budapest in August.

3. Over 1,000 Thermal Springs

Hungary has over 1,000 thermal springs and a rich spa culture to go along with it. From the Romans through the Ottomans to the present day, these baths have been developed, celebrated and preserved. Budapest alone has over 300 thermal springs including spectacular Turkish baths. Hungary also contains Héviz, the second largest thermal lake in the world, and Miskolctapolca, Europe’s only cave bath.

4. 200 Caves Under Budapest

The labyrinth of caves and tunnels under the streets of Budapest is rumoured to be more than 120 km long. Guided tours take you to the vast, museum-like Szemlő-hegyi cave, a WWII underground hospital and parts of the subway system (the 1st on the continent). For the more adventurous, caving expeditions are available.

5. 8 World Heritage Sites

World Heritage

Historically fascinating, culturally rich and vibrant, it’s no surprise that Hungary has 9 World Heritage Sites, from caves to abbeys to the Hortobágy National Park. The Banks of the famous Danube are recognized heritage and so is the delicious Tokaj Wine Region, well worth a trip. On the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, you’ll find the Busó festivities at Mohács in southern Hungary that mark the end of winter with fearsome masks and costumes.

6. The Danube

Immortalized by Strauss’s The Blue Danube Waltz, Europe’s second-longest river has long held a special place in our collective consciousness. From its source in Germany, it winds through 10 countries before finally reaching the Black Sea. Many river cruises, starting or ending in Budapest, trace its journey.

7. Budapest Loves the Nightlife

Szimpla Kert is the most famous of a unique kind of nightspot found only in Budapest, the “ruins pub.” These pubs all share a few main ingredients: usually in an abandoned building, a bit of thrift-shop décor, and some of the best people you could ever ask for. At the other end of the spectrum is A38. Voted the Best Bar in the World by Lonely Planet, this multi-disciplinary institute lives on a reconstructed Ukranian ship on the Danube.

8. Classical Music Adventure

Hungary has always been celebrated for its classical music. Be sure to attend a performance and the beautiful Opera House, or a fascinating piano concert at the 150-year-old Liszt Academy of Music. And if you’re travelling in the spring, be sure to check out the Budapest Spring Festival.

Interested in learning more about Hungary? Click here to find out more or to start planning your trip today!

 

24 Feb

By

Treat Yourself!

February 24, 2016 | By |

Your Luxury Included® Vacation should be about enjoying the very best things in life, whether that’s a day of pampering at the spa or an unexpected island delight.

Go ahead and treat yourself.

Exclusive Offshore Island at Sandals Royal Bahamian

Escape to an authentic offshore adventure with two secluded beaches: one for relaxing and exploring the Bahamas’ best snorkelling, the other for high-energy water sports. Treat yourself to an oasis of private beach cabanas, the chic Beach Club, and a Zen garden. Paradise: found and included!

Red Lane® Spa at Sandals Emerald Bay

This award-winning sanctuary offers you Caribbean-inspired treatments to help you relax and replenish. On your day of pampering, enjoy 17 treatment rooms, a beauty salon, a Yoga-Pilates studio, steam room, intimate relaxation areas in secluded gardens and lots more.

Unlimited Golf at Sandals Emerald Bay

Sandals Emerald Bay features a Greg Norman-designed 7,001-yard, par-72 championship golf course that rivals any oceanside course in the world; and it’s also the longest course in the Caribbean. This award-winning course offers a challenge to novices and pro golfers alike.

Island Routes Caribbean Adventures

Island Routes is the bigger, better, funner way to experience authentic Caribbean adventures. In the Bahamas, try snorkelling and swimming with the dolphins, or heading out on the town to enjoy a famous fish fry fête. Or, try a fun-filled, action-packed deluxe catamaran cruise.