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Cruising on the Carnival Splendor: Getting My Sea Legs

The last time I went on a cruise, I was sporting alternating pink- and purple-colored braces on my teeth and spent most of my time in the teen club sipping virgin strawberry daiquiris. So when Carnival Cruise Lines invited a group of travel agents to try out their brand-new ship, the Carnival Splendor, I couldn’t help but say, “Anchors aweigh!”

The Carnival Splendor is the newest, largest, and most innovative ship to date for the cruise line and boasts state-of-the-art onboard amenities like a top-deck mini golf course, a luxurious spa with a Thalassotherapy pool, a big-screen, open-air theater, a Twister waterslide, and the Serenity adults-only lounging area. I was treated to a balcony cabin for my two-night cruise out of San Francisco, and most of the wining, dining, and amenities were included so we could really enjoy the ship.

Saturday is Passport Day in the USA

Get your passports here! Saturday, March 28 is Passport Day in the USA. In anticipation of the change to passport regulations scheduled to take effect on June 1, all Department of State Passport Agencies, and many Passport Acceptance Facilities around the country, will host passport application acceptance events.

According to the Department of State web site ”For this day only, appointments and expedite fees are not required for those applying at a Passport Agency. Applicants can expect to receive their passport in approximately four weeks for routine service and about two to three weeks for expedited service.”

Currently, everyone traveling in and out of the United States by air needs a passport.

Whale Watching on the U.S. Pacific Coast

I get absolutely giddy with joy around spring time.  As an avid whale watcher, the spring season means that humpback and gray whales make their annual 12,000-mile journey from cold Alaska waters to breed in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean further south.

Starting now through early April, state parks, recreation departments, and beaches throughout the West Coast have set up a string of whale-watching sites for visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of a humpback or gray whale diving, jumping, or gliding over the top of the water.  Volunteers are usually on hand to guide visitors, too.  In Oregon, the parks and recreation department has volunteers stationed at 28 different locations to help curious seekers find good whale-watching spots.

This Summer in New York, Party Like It’s 1969?

I just opted out of trips to attend the Coachella and Pitchfork music festivals (not that I don’t love me some Palm Springs, Chicago, and Paul McCartney, but I’m saving my travel budget for some other things this year). So I was pretty excited to read today that Woodstock might return for a 40th-anniversary edition, right here in New York City.

We’ll have to wait to see if the idea will materialize, but Woodstock’s founder is reportedly seeking sponsors for a free, environmentally friendly NYC concert, possibly even in Central Park. If it happens, I’ll be among the first to dole out my $2 to travel uptown.

Name That Hotel!

Have your say! The former Madison Hotel in New York City’s Flatiron District will re-open in June 2009 as part of the Desires Hotel group and the new property needs a name. Here are the contenders:

VIVO nyc

the MIX

stile nyc


the MAVE

My vote went to stile nyc. Would have preferred if it was spelled correctly but oh well. When you cast your vote, you also enter a chance to win a three-night stay for two at any of the Desires Hotels in Miami, San Juan, New York City, Milwaukee, or St. Louis. Airfare also included in the prize. Cast your vote before March 31.