CDC Gives Cruise Lines the Go-Ahead to Resume Sailing Nov. 1

The Disney Dream (David Roark, photographer – Courtesy of Disney Travel News)

Is it full steam ahead? It certainly appears so! The CDC has supplied the framework for “Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships” today, Friday the 30th of October!

From the official website of the CDC: This Order shall remain in effect until the earliest of

  • The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
  • The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
  • November 1, 2021

The cruise lines will be able start sailing in North America starting on November 1, 2020 with “a careful approach”. That approach will include testing and additional safeguards for crew members, along with onboard facilities in place to test future passengers. Next, the CDC is requiring all lines go ahead with test voyages to demonstrate the cruise ship operator’s “ability to mitigate CoVID-19 risk.”All ships will have to meet specific requirements for re-certification and then, and only then, can cruise ships start a phased return to service.

“These phases are subject to change based on public health consideration and cruise ship operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk,” the CDC said. The CDC reserves the right to issue additional orders as needed going forward.

The news brings an end to months of uncertainty for the cruise industry, travel agencies, and cruise fans alike. And with this news, brings hope the cruise lines – and many future passengers – will be returning to some kind of normalcy soon!

Although it’s unclear when exactly all ships will begin sailing again as some lines have already cancelled their 2020 season, for others like Carnival and Royal Caribbean, we could see a return to sailing before the end of the year as a real possibility.

What is clear is that when cruises do resume, you can expect new health and safety protocols in place, including universal Covid-19 testing, along with other guidelines…and that’s not necessarily a negative thing, especially if it gets those of us who love to sail the option to return to our paradise on the high seas.

Our cruise specialists will be here every step of the way to guide you and assist you with the new protocols and guidelines to ensure stress-free planning and a smooth sailing for next adventure.

We can’t wait to wish you “Bon Voyage” once again! Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for more information: https://vacationswithcharacter.net/about-us.html 

Vacations with Character® is a Proud Member of CLIA – Cruise Line International Association

 

 

Walt Disney World Holiday Magic Starts November 6

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

We are super excited to share an update on some of the festive experiences coming to Walt Disney World Resort for the holidays!

We know how much Guests love the holidays, and from Nov. 6-Dec. 30, you’ll will be able to enjoy festive décor, themed merchandise, seasonal food & beverage offerings and entertainment all across Walt Disney World Resort. Holiday magic will be in full force at the four theme parks and Disney Springs, and Santa Claus will even make time for special pop-up appearances at each location, waving and exclaiming holiday wishes to all.

Enjoy the sight of festive flotillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, holiday promenades at EPCOT and merry motorcades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Plus, character cavalcades at Magic Kingdom Park will take on a special holiday twist, with Christmas friends on festive floats in their holiday finest. Gingerbread Men? Check! Elves and Reindeer? Check, check! And the Toy Soldiers will join the Main Street Philharmonic as they march through Magic Kingdom Park, bringing musical holiday cheer for all to hear.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

When night falls, special projection effects will give a festive look to Cinderella Castle this year, providing a colorful backdrop for photo ops. The appearance of the iconic castle will be transformed with a rotating series of designs including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a meal among friends and family. Minnie Mouse will be hosting a yuletide gathering for all her friends at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting Nov. 6. Santa Goofy will be there, along with Minnie and more in their holiday best. 

Shifting gears to Disney Springs, You will discover Christmas around every corner as they come across a collection of elaborately-decorated Disney Christmas trees spread throughout this retail, dining and entertainment destination. In the evening, encounter a magical snowfall in areas within Town Center, West Side and The Landing, adding an extra touch of wonder to your holiday shopping. And to top it off, Jock Lindsey will once again be turning his hangar bar into Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar complete with delightful holiday décor and a delicious limited-time menu filled with festive favorites.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Disney Resort hotels will also be decked out for the holidays too, with their lobbies featuring iconic trees and other festive flourishes.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Starting a bit later in the season, on Nov. 27, holiday kitchens will return around World Showcase promenade with favorites like American Holiday Table featuring Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing and Bavaria Holiday Kitchen with dishes like Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl.

Step inside World ShowPlace to enjoy the returning group, JOYFUL! as they present a journey through R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music. Also, the Voices of Liberty will bring their incredible 8-part harmonies to the America Gardens Theatre stage for a special concert of favorite carols and songs of the season.

We’re looking forward to helping you create new traditions this year with unique ways to enjoy the season together. There’s a lot of holiday fun to see and do at Walt Disney World Resort! To learn more about about booking a getaway with seasonal experiences, ask your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for a free, no-obligation quote at: https://vacationswithcharacter.net/ We may even have a few special offers to share with you too!

Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Logo
Vacations with Character® has earned the distinction of being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

 

Five Universal Orlando Resorts Ranked 2020s Top 10 Best Amusement Park Hotels!

USA Today has released it’s top 10 Best Amusement Park Hotels and guess what? Universal Orlando Resorts claims FIVE of them. It’s no surprise, as these are among our top favorites too!

Advertising Resorts Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando Resort CBBR, UOR Pool Exteriors kids having fun in pool, children in pool, couples by pool, water slide, lounging by pool
One of 2 Pools at Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

1) Cabana Bay Beach Resort

This resort features a fun retro theme that takes you back to the iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 60s. This property features two massive pools including a water slide and a lazy river, 10-lane bowling alley, arcade, fitness center, delicious food court, fire pit, outdoor activities, and there’s even a even a Starbucks®.  Great for families on a budget, this resort is the perfect place to call your “home away from home” for a week…or two. It’s truly a little getaway all to its own.

2) Universal’s Aventura Hotel

Courtesy of: LB McLeod, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Prime Value, Universal Orlando Resort, Double Queen Standard Room

You’ll say “Ahhhh” at Universal’s Aventura Hotel as you relax and experience a fresh and fun way to vacation. It’s modern and smart, yet vibrant and sleek. At this landmark within Universal Orlando Resort™, you’ll find yourself at home with open areas designed for sharing and gathering. The pool and amazing rooftop views at Bar 17 Bistro are relaxing sweet spots that will be calling your name after time in the parks.

Aventura Hotel Lobby – Courtesy of Vacations with Character®

Dining options are plentiful. Choose from Bar 17 Bistro to Bar Sol to Urban Pantry, the food hall where unique, high-quality restaurants come together offering a multitude of cuisines for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. (TIP: try the salmon, it’s delicious!) And, for those who need their coffee fix, there’s even a Starbucks®. Great for families with tweens or for a friends/couples getaway, this resort will fill the need quite nicely – and without breaking your piggy bank.

3) Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

What can we say about Sapphire Falls except we ♥ this resort! This hidden gem has a Caribbean-inspired theme that transports you to a paradise…and the invitation for relaxation is everywhere.

Every comfort has been built in including a luxuriously landscaped 16,000 square foot, resort-style pool surrounded by cascading waterfalls as its centerpiece. From the beautiful stone turret work in the lobby to the inviting island charm of the 1,000 guest rooms and suites, you’re surrounded by old-world chic, yet modern and timeless style…and you’re only steps away from the theme parks! TIP: the suites are amazing!

You can almost reach out and touch the theme parks from here as well! Look closely at the top left and you’ll see Hogwart’s Castle!

Aerial View of Lowes Sapphire Falls from Bar 17 Bistro at Universal’s Aventura Hotel – Courtesy of Vacations with Character®

Culinary options abound from Amatista Cookhouse, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to Strong Water Tavern, to the grab-and-go offerings at New Dutch Trading Co. You can also enjoy a menu of fresh seafood along with tropical drinks poolside. For those needing some pampering, there’s even 24-hour room service! From families to friends to couples, we recommend this resort for anyone. And believe it or not, it too is budget friendly!

4) Lowes Royal Pacific Resort

Lowes Royal Pacific Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

Explore the island of comfort and sophistication at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Experience touches of paradises such as Fiji, Bali and Hawaii. From lush landscaping to the white sandy beach of the lagoon-style swimming pool, you’ll be surrounded by an exotic feel!

Feast in the Island’s Dining Room or Jake’s American Bar or savor sushi at Orchid Court. Bula means “welcome” in Fijian, and you will love Bula Bar & Grille, a casual poolside eatery featuring tropical drinks, sandwiches, and classic American items.  Tuk Tuk Market, the all-new lobby marketplace, offers coffee, breakfast items, pastries, and exclusive Tuk Tarts, plus hot and cold sandwiches, wok bowls, sushi to go, ice cream and gelato. At Royal Pacific, 24-hour room service is also available as well. We recommend this resort for anyone seeking a luxury vacation in a beautiful surrounding.

Royal Pacific Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

5) Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal Orlando Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

Take a trip to the stunning seaside village of Portofino, Italy without leaving the country at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. The stunning and luxurious rooms, authentic Italian specialties, and warm hospitality make your stay here a taste of what the Italians call la dolce vita – the sweet life. From the cobblestone streets to the outdoor cafes, you just may forget what country you’re in. Kids are not overlooked here as well. The kid’s suites are amazingly fun!

Portofino Bay Hotel, Despicable Me Suite – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

We recommend this resort for anyone seeking an upscale luxury resort vacation but you’ll have to wait to enjoy a stay here as it is currently closed.

Speaking of the sweet life, did you know by staying on property you’ll also receive exclusive theme park benefits? What can be sweeter than that?

Guests staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel or Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites enjoy  Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ one hour before the theme parks open along with complimentary shuttle service (or water taxi for Sapphire Falls guests) to and from the Universal Orlando® theme parks and Universal CityWalk® the dining and entertainment complex.

Guests staying at Lowes Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel® or Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel enjoy exclusive benefits including FREE Universal Express Unlimited™, which provides access to skip the regular lines at participating rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida™ and Universal’s Islands of Adventure™. Plus, they receive Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™ one hour before the theme parks open. Staying at these resorts also means you’re within walking distance-or a short, complimentary water taxi ride-from the theme parks and Universal CityWalk™!

Questions? We’ve got answers…and tickets…and special offers available for your next amazing vacation to Universal Orlando Resort.  You can also read our blogs about the reopening and all of the safety features in place to keep you safe by starting here:

RELATED: 10 Tips To Experience Universal Orlando Resort

Ready to visit? There’s never a better time to plan your trip! Contact a Vacations with Character® Vacationista for a free quote for tickets or packages today, and let’s get you back to enjoying life and creating amazing memories with your family and friends!  Just visit us at: https://universalvacationplanners.com/

We look forward to hearing from you!

Vacations with Character® is proud to be recognized as a Universal Orlando Preferred Travel Agency. This distinction is only offered to top sellers for Universal Orlando Parks and Resorts.

 

10 Tips to Experience Universal Orlando Resort

The parks, hotels, and CityWalk are open and welcoming guests back with a few changes and welcome surprises! Read on for more details.

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

As previously reported on our social media accounts, things may be a little different when you arrive with new operational guidelines that put your safety, and that of the Team Members, first.  Rest assured, it’s still the Universal you know and ♥! Here are some tips to experience the parks and make your visit a stress-free one, which = more fun for you!

RELATED: 10 Tips for Universal Orlando’s Reopening and 10 Tips for Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay Reopening

1. The Universal Orlando Resort App is Your New Best Friend

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

Take a minute to download the Universal Orlando Resort app! More than ever, this will be the most useful thing during your visit. It will help you navigate around the crowds, trim down time waiting in queues, minimize physical interactions, and so much more! Here are some top features:

  • – Virtual Line experience for attractions
  • – Mobile food and drink ordering for select restaurants
  • – Interactive park map
  • – Virtual wallet where you can purchase and house your park tickets, Express passes, and also set up your TapuTapu for your visit to Volcano Bay
  • – Wait time alerts that you can set for when the times drop

(Download it for FREE from the App Store and Google Play. Data and other charges may apply; check with your wireless provider’s rate plan for details.)

2. Dodge Crowds with the Virtual Line Experience (see #1 above!)

Courtesy of Derek Funk, Universal Partner Community

3. Order Your Food Ahead of Time with Mobile Order (see #1 above!)

4. Make a Game Plan Beforehand

Create your list of “must-do’s” and then use the app to navigate wait times while also utilizing the virtual line queue, plus mobile ordering.

5. Get a More Personalized Experience With Social Distancing

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

Maintaining social distancing spaces actually makes you feel as if you have rides and attractions almost to yourself and provides for a more personal and intimate experience!

6. Take a Break in the U-Rest Areas

In addition to planning out what you want to do, make sure to slot in time to take breaks. There are new U-Rest areas sprinkled throughout the parks and CityWalk, where you can recharge with a drink or snack with your face covering off. You can find them in the following locations:

  • Universal CityWalk
    • Down by the waterfront in front of Hard Rock
  • Universal Studios Florida
    • Fear Factor Live Theater
    • Central Park by the lagoon
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure
    • Port of Entry Landing by the waterfront
    • The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show Theater in Lost Continent (the show is no longer available)

7. Make Way for Perfect Selfies and Photo Ops!

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

With limited crowds and social distancing, there is plenty of free space all around so you can capture some really great memories – and photos of your favorite spots without other guests crowding in.

8. Early Park Admission = More Time and Fewer Crowds

Booking a vacation package  OR purchasing your tickets from Vacations with Character® allows you the perk of entering the park one hour earlier than the general public! Can you say…sign me up??? We are also experts at helping you navigate the hotels, new policies, attractions, transfers, and more…and our services are FREE for our clients! In fact, we may be able to save you money…money you can use to buy a new Wizarding Wand or a few ButterBeers and VooDoo doughnuts. 😉

9. Your Bae This Summer is Volcano Bay

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

With minimal crowds, plentiful areas to relax, social distancing enforced while you play, and the TapuTapu wearable – made exclusively for Volcano Bay – this park truly makes you feel as if you’ve escaped to a relaxing, tropical paradise and you will simply fall in LOVE! Plus, masks are not required in the pools, on the slides, or while eating/drinking because your space is always maintained with new guidelines and markers. Plus, with Tap Tu Play and Tap Tu Pay on your TapuTapu wearable, there is no  standing in long lines to experience an attraction, no more carrying wallets, cash or credit cards around the park and no fumbling for a locker key. They have truly thought of everything!

10. New Experiences are Waiting to Welcome You Back

The parks may have been closed for a couple of months, but select Team Members have been hard at work creating new experiences for you to come back to. With new “Love is Universal” and anniversary merchandise to snatch up, new food and beverage offerings, and even new entertainment attractions like The Bourne Stuntacular and Raptor Encounter (baby raptor Sierra is the cutest!), there’s never a better time to visit!

Questions? We’ve got answers…and tickets…and special offers available for your next amazing vacation to Universal Orlando Resort.  Contact a Vacations with Character® Vacationista for a free quote for tickets or packages today and let’s welcome you back!   https://universalvacationplanners.com/

We are honored to be an Authorized Universal Orlando Vacation Planner!

Many thanks to Denielle Ricci, Associate Editor of the Discover Universal Blog and Universal Partner Community Representative for help in providing this information!