Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Carnival Cruise Has A New Ship With Old Traditions

The Carnival Breeze is coming soon! That's the newest addition to the Carnival fleet of cruise ships. It's scheduled to be ready for sailing by June 2012. They are still working on the ship while it is in wet dock. The interior design work will begin soon. What I find fascinating about cruise ships is the old ceremonial practices that are still part of modern sailing. For instance for Carnival Breeze there was a coin ceremony which is an ancient seafaring tradition. A custom made coin, which symbolizes good fortune, gets welded to the upper deck. This is to bring together the shipbuilders and Carnival Cruise Line.

I'll be posting more about the features of the ship as it gets closer to it's sailing date.

I've been on a cruise and it was a wonderful experience. Sometimes just sitting out on the deck and watching the endless horizon was special, so peaceful and relaxing. I've become so interested in the engineering and history of the ships and sailing ever since.

Been cruising? Feel free to comment below and share your experience.

Sondra Carpenter
Pack Your Bags Travel

Monday, September 19, 2011

Riding Cable Cars In San Francisco

When I lived in the Bay Area of California one of the things I really enjoyed was riding the San Francisco cable cars. I'm sure you've seen many movies with the famous panoramic scene of the Powell-Mason cable car where it seems almost perched at the top of Russian Hill. You can see the magnificent view all around of the Pacific. Breathtaking! And yes...people do actually hang on the sides from the poles! San Francisco is very easy to get around by public transit, which is recommended particularly if you're not accustomed to driving up and down very steep hills. Currently the charge for riding the cable cars is $5.00, but you can also purchase day passes called Passports. They provide unlimited travel on different modes of transit in addition to the cable cars.
To visit The San Francisco Cable Car site click here. There are 3 cable car lines, 2 that go to different parts of Fisherman's Wharf. The other goes through downtown, east to west. So go through them all, there's a lot going on in San Francisco. Check out this site for 20 things to see and do while you're there. 

Been to this amazing city yet? Feel free to comment below on what you enjoy about San Francisco!

Happy Travels,
Sondra Carpenter
Pack Your Bags Travel

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tip For Shopping In The Caribbean Markets

One of my favorite activities in the Caribbean (other than spending time on the beach, of course) is shopping in the crafts markets. I love checking out the beautifully handcrafted items available. I've seen so many items offered from intricately woven baskets, scarves, hand carved wooden statues, original paintings from local artists, hats, and jewelry boxes just to name a few. 
What's important to remember, though, is that by touching something and picking it up you're actually indicating to the seller that you're an interested buyer. That's the way the bartering system works in the Caribbean handicraft and produce markets. So unless you're sure that you're ready to make a purchase, look but don't touch! You don't want to cause confusion in the marketplace. If you have questions, just ask the sellers, they'll go out of their way to help you. So look around and have fun, but know how to play the bartering game!

One of my favorite purchases from a Caribbean marketplace is from Negril, Jamaica. It's a small brightly colored painting of people taking a break after harvesting fruit. After some bargaining I got it for $20.00 USD. The bargaining process is part of the fun for me.

Want to share your story about your special find at a crafts market? Feel free to comment below on what you bought, where you got it and how much you paid.

Happy Shopping!
Sondra Carpenter
Pack Your Bags Travel

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11 Memorial and Museum

In commemoration of the lives lost and resurgence of the City of New York, the September 11 Memorial and Museum was created. It will be dedicated on September 11, 2011, which is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On September 12, 2011 the museum will be open to the public. Click here to visit their site.

Even before a memorial was built, no one would ever forget the horrible events of September 11, 2001 and how it affected this country.

I narrowly missed being a casualty as I used to work on Wall Street and regularly saw the Twin Towers during my work day as a systems engineer. My job was to go out to different brokerage firms to support and troubleshoot their trading software. My contract ended in July 2001. If I was still on assignment for another month and a half it's very likely I may have been injured or much worse. Initially I was upset about losing my job, but obviously things happen for a reason. Fortunately I was home in Philadelphia during that time. I watched the constant replay of the unbelievably frightening images on television. But later I found out that some of my former colleagues were not so lucky.

Despite this tragedy America and its citizens are resilient. We have forged a collective strength that perseveres beyond the pain and horror of the unimaginable.

Feel free to leave comments here about where you were when you first heard about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Sondra Carpenter
Pack Your Bags Travel

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Miami Is Not Just A Beach

There is SOOOOO much to do in Miami other than simply lay around on the beach...although that is definitely an activity to put on your to-do list!

Click here to check out a blog I found that describes lots of activities and events in the Miami area. The Art Deco district is a must see, the Haitian restaurant Tap Tap is also a must...a review is included, spa selections for Miami Spa Month, find out where models go to party, and more. This city is chic and so much fun, one of my favorites, enjoy!

Sondra Carpenter
Pack Your Bags Travel

Friday, August 5, 2011

Share Your Dream Vacation

OK, folks it's time to share. Let us know what your dream vacation is. This is the place or group of destinations that you've always thought about going to and maybe thinking you'll have to wait until you retire. And don't tell me about the typical family vacation spots, either. Want to hear about the destinations that make your eyes glaze over when you watch the Travel Channel or flip through magazines. You know what I mean! And if you've never thought about that dream destination then now's the time! Close you're eyes and imagine where you'd like to go.
Need a little help? For fun take our poll below, vote once, please. If you voted for "Something Totally Different" then comment at the end of this post on what your dream vacation is. Whatever selection gets the most votes will get more coverage on the blog which means I'll post more related travel details.

Want to just share any of your travel stories? You can also post your comments here.

I have many dream vacations on my list, this picture is from one of them. This shot I took in Marrakesh, Morocco in the medina (walled city), at one of the vendor's spaces.

You'll be hearing more about my dream vacations, too, so visit again soon!

Sondra Carpenter
Travel Consultant

Thursday, August 4, 2011

No Fly Cruising

Adding air fare on to the cost of your cruise  vacation can be a little costly, unless of course you don't fly at all! There are lots of cruise ships that sail out of ports other than Miami or San Juan particularly if you're headed for the Caribbean, Bermuda or the Bahamas. On the west coast several cruise lines sail to Hawaii and Mexico.

There are ships that regularly sail out of New York City and Brooklyn NY, New Orleans LA, Baltimore MD, San Diego CA, Boston MA, Norfolk VA, San Francisco CA, and many more, to several popular destinations.

Visit my travel site to see which cruise ships are headed to an exotic location from your home town. You can book your cruise vacation now with just a few mouse clicks!

Happy Cruising!
Sondra Carpenter
Pack Your Bags Travel