A Day of Exploration and Inspiration at Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center used to be the place to go and spend a day while you waited for a shuttle launch. I remember driving out to Cape Canaveral, on the “Space Coast” as it has proudly been referred to by Floridians, and sitting in traffic for miles. Watching a shuttle launch is one of those things that appeals to everyone, not just “Space Geeks.” No matter what your interests, space exploration appeals to everyone, doesn’t it? When the Space Program closed down, we were afraid of what would happen to Kennedy Space Center. Who would visit a park designed around shuttle launches if there were no more launches?

Well, as it turns out, the people at Kennedy Space Center had a very well thought out plan in place. Kennedy Space Center redesigned the visitor’s center and after spending a day there in February, I almost forgot that it was even missing something…Kennedy Space Center has become a place of history and exploration, education through exciting exhibits and powerful reminders of what Americans can accomplish when we put our minds to it.

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Meet an Astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter

Learn about space travel and exploration from someone who has been in space and experienced it firsthand. While you dine on a delicious buffet lunch, a veteran NASA astronaut relives their journey through space and tells you what it is like to feel the power of g-force and float through the air. You will learn what kind of education is required, how physically fit you have to be and how hard it is and how long it takes to acclimate upon one’s return to earth. There is also the daily Astronaut Encounter, featuring discussions with a veteran astronaut. When I visited, Tom Jones (no, not that one) was in attendance and he couldn’t have been nicer!

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The Space Shuttle Atlantis and Launch Experience 

The Space Shuttle Atlantis and Launch Experience at Kennedy Space Center should not be missed! With simulators, multimedia presentations and dozens of interactive exhibits, the separate building housing Atlantis with the payload doors open and Canadarm extended, details thirty years of fascinating space history.

Just walking through the exhibit was inspiring and I found myself with teary eyes and goosebumps more than once. To be there, so close to the Atlantis and see how ginormous it is – it’s an amazing experience.

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There are two on-site 3D IMAX theaters, each offering unique and unparalleled movie experiences on five story screens with surround sound. The story of the Hubble telescope details the trials and tribulations of building and installing the telescope, while Space Station chronicles life aboard the International Space Station.

Adults and kids alike love the Angry Birds Space Encounter exhibit, which features five unique, interactive exhibits. You don’t even realize that you are learning physics, engineering and math because you’re having so much fun!

There is an on-site cafeteria, which has an extensive variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads. After lunch, continue to the Rocket Garden to view Apollo, Mercury or Gemini or head to the gift shop to purchase exclusive souvenirs.

 

A day at the Kennedy Space Center is enjoyable for the whole family! There is so much to discover and experience you will want to come back for a second day of fun-filled learning.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Hours and Admission

The Kennedy Space Center is open year round at 9 AM but closing time varies by season.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
March 31 – September 1: 9 am – 7 pm
September 2 – December 31: 9 am – closing time varies

The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® 
Now – September 1: Noon – 5 pm
Daily admission tickets are $40.00 and you can buy multi-day tickets for $60.00

You can purchase your tickets ahead of time on KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Tropical Vacations: 10 Steps For An Unexpected Hurricane

You’re so excited to be traveling to a warm coast for vacation! You pack carefully, research restaurants and attractions – you’re ready to go. But, have you thought about what you will do if a storm strikes? No one wants to think about a tropical storm ruining their vacation, but if you are planning to spend time this summer in an area where hurricanes are possible it’s good to be prepared. Here is a list of 10 things you can do to ensure your safe return home.

Storm Coming

1. See how often your destination is hit by tropical storms

When someone says ‘hurricane’ your first thought is probably Florida. You might be surprised to know that, as of 2013, Florida ranked 11th in locations most likely to be affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. The Bahamas, Gulf Coast and even North Carolina are prime targets. Check yearly patterns and seasons so you can pick an area least likely to be hit during your trip.

2. Listen to local news outlets

If a storm is brewing, keep your local news on the tv and a radio close by. Areas that are familiar with these storms will notify you on a regular basis if a hurricane is approaching and offer updates on location, severity and safety measures.

3. Contact your travel company

If you booked your travel through a tour group or travel agency, let them know what is going on. They can offer even more advice on where to go, if evacuation is needed and how to speed up your return home.

4. Have a Plan B for return travel

If a hurricane or tropical storm hits, airports may close or even become damaged, delaying flights. Immediate travel may not be possible by air but, depending on how far you traveled, leaving the area by bus, train or rental car may be possible.

5. Stay inside, away from doors and windows

If you are still at your hotel or vacation rental when the hurricane hits, make sure you are inside until evacuation is possible. As tempting as it is to watch a coastal storm roll in, make sure to stay away from doors and windows at all times.

6. Make a hurricane supply kit

A hurricane often means staying put. Don’t rely on the hotel restaurant or snack shop to remain open. Make sure you are prepared with food, water, and a battery operated light source as early as possible.

7. Know the hurricane procedure for your hotel

Regulations require that hotels have a hurricane procedure in place to protect guests and control chaos. Check your hotel’s website for information or ask at the front desk when you check in so you know ahead of time what is expected: evacuation route, loss of electricity, areas guests are to assemble, etc.

8. Make a physical list of emergency contact numbers

We all have our important phone numbers in our cell phones. But, what happens if you’re without power and lose your charge? Cell phone towers are taken down by high winds? Make sure to write down all of your emergency numbers on a piece of paper so that you have them on hand if you need to use a land line to contact friends and family.

9. Prepack and get all your documents together in case you have to evacuate

Evacuation can happen without notice. At the first mention of an approaching hurricane, prepack your bags and gather your important items such as IDs, passports, credit cards, cash, driving license, contact number list etc. If an evacuation notice is sent out, you’ll be able to grab and go.

10. Follow directions, follow them quickly

The best thing to remember is that the people working around you live in a hurricane region. They’ve done this before and know how to direct you. Follow their lead and do exactly as instructed, without argument and as quick as possible.

Most of all, don’t panic. While some hurricanes have the potential to create damage on land, many will blow over with minimal danger. Keep calm and be prepared.

 

Exploring the OTHER Side of the Caribbean with the Carnival Freedom

I love cruising. I mean, I really, really love cruising. Angeline jokingly said the other day while on the Carnival Freedom, “this is like a hotel that takes you to paradise.” So, so true! A cruise has everything you could possibly want in a fantastic vacation: a lovely room, delicious food available to you 24 hours a day, free room service, fun comedy shows, Broadway-style entertainment, gambling, expert bartenders, a free, built in camp program for the kiddos, inexpensive nighttime childcare, and my favorite part?

Exotic locations at your beckon call!

Exploring the Other Side of the Caribbean with the Carnival Freedom #CarnivalFreedom

I was invited on this complimentary cruise to check out the new Carnival Seuss at Sea themed activities and spaces, as well as the all-new Camp Ocean kid’s program. One of these days, I will get around to sharing some of the awesome stuff the Carnival Freedom has to offer – hopefully it will be sooner rather than later – but for now?

I want to show you some of the amazing places we were able to visit for a day, courtesy of our ports of call.

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Let’s begin with Grand Turk, in Turks and Caicos. We have been to Grand Turk before, but we did a snorkeling excursion on that trip. Last week, we just sat on the beach and soaked up the sun.

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We found a beach vendor selling $5 wifi access and caught up on emails, shared our fun day with our Instagram followers and then headed over to Margaritaville, where the pool water was as blue and warm as the ocean just yards away.

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Next up was La Romana, in the Dominican Republic. We went on the Bayahibe Beach Break shore excursion through Carnival Cruise Lines and spent the day basking in the sun, watching a group play water polo in the pool and taking advantage of the free swim up pool bar!

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Of course no day is complete without a little fresh coco frio…which were free upon arrival!

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Our next visit was to the tiny island of Curaçao, which is part of the ABC Islands – which are Dutch! We visited a few lovely beaches and then I crossed the famous Queen Emma Bridge to explore the local shopping and dining scene.

Just my luck…the bridge opened and I was stuck across the bridge from the girls for almost an hour. I had to grab a ferry back!

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We went on the De Palm Island Snorkeling Excursion while in Aruba. While it wasn’t the best beach on the island, it was a prime spot for snorkeling, and there was a water park included in the excursion for kids!

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People just went back and forth between the snorkeling, water park and pretty beach all day! Drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) were included in the excursion, as well as a free buffet! De Palm Island really had everything you could possibly want in a tropical island excursion. The girls had a blast snorkeling right off the beach for hours!

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I’ll be sharing more information about the Carnival Freedom in the coming weeks, be sure to stay tuned!

6 Fun Facts About the Caribbean

Have you ever heard that saying, “American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God?” Well, I’m not a religious person, but I kind of feel that way about being born in South Florida. I love to travel, but have seen few places that I can imagine living as happy a life as I do in Miami. One of the biggest advantages of living in Miami is my close proximity to the Caribbean, which I escape to every chance I get!

One of my favorite ways to travel to the Caribbean is by cruise ship, and with Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean all in the Port of Miami and Port Everglades, the Caribbean Islands are just a shore excursion away! There are so many different reasons to travel to the Caribbean, but I thought it would be fun to share a few facts about the Caribbean to spark your own Wanderlust!

6 Fun Facts About the Caribbean

6 Fun Facts about the Caribbean

1. The Average Temperature in the Caribbean is 80 Degrees

That means that it’s safe to assume that you’ll be able to enjoy a warm dip in the water and wear your cutest sundress no matter when you plan your Caribbean vacation!

6 Fun Facts about the Caribbean

2. The Caribbean is Made up of Over 7000 Islands and Cays

Whether it’s one of the 5,000 popular islands, like Puerto Rico or Saint Thomas, or one of the smaller cays, like Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, you have quite a variety of destinations to choose from, don’t you? While there are beautiful beaches all across the Caribbean Islands, and many of them offer the same activities, there are some that are especially known for certain activities.

Zipline Canopy Adventures in Puerto Rico

3. The Antigua Islands are Made up of 365 Beaches

I have never been to Antigua, but from the stories I’ve heard from friends, Antigua ranks at the top of my Caribbean Vacation Wish List! With 365 beaches, you could literally visit a different island every day of the year! Now wouldn’t that be an awesome vacation?

My friend Jeana from SurfandSunshine.com took a trip to Antigua last year and her photos blew me away!

Sunrise in Antigua by www.SurfandSunshine.com

4. Cozumel’s Chankanaab Park has Some of the Best Snorkeling in the World

Sigh…I love snorkeling, and I have NEVER been snorkeling in Cozumel! I have a port of call in Cozumel on an upcoming cruise with Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas and I am so tempted to skip exploring the Tulum Ruins in favor of snorkeling!

The last time I was in Cozumel was in 2006, and my friends and I just drank margaritas on the beach all day…while that was fun, I have always regretted not getting out to sea while I was there!

6 Fun Facts about the Caribbean

5. Coral Reefs Found in the Caribbean are over 10 Million Years Old

We’ve been snorkeling outside of Key West, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Grand Turk through excursions with Carnival Cruise Lines in the past few years. Nothing compares to swimming around in complete silence while colorful tropical fish swim past you. These coral reefs have been around for eons and are home to so many different species of fish and marine life!

Snorkeling in Grand Turk with Carnival Cruise Lines

6. Saint Lucia is Home to the Only Drive-Through Volcano in the World

That’s right, a drive-through volcano! I am not quite sure I’d have the guts to be that close to a volcano, but you never know. I have been known to do outlandish things while on vacation!

Have you ever been to the Caribbean Islands? My favorite way to visit the Caribbean is by cruising – it’s a fantastic, economical way to see more than one island without breaking the bank when it comes to your budget!

You can find Caribbean cruises with many ports of call throughout the islands from the following cruise lines in South Florida:

Carnival Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines Announces Seuss at Sea Program for 2014!

One ship, two ships, it’s Dr. Seuss on cruise ships! Carnival Cruise Lines recently unveiled an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring the beloved children’s brand and favorite characters to the line’s fleet of 24 “Fun Ships.” In an industry first, the Carnival Seuss at Sea program will offer a variety of exciting and immersive onboard youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences featuring the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss.

seuss at sea

“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how,” said the Cat in the Hat in the iconic Dr. Seuss book. The fun on Carnival starts in the main dining room during The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends. Attendees will have the opportunity to kick off their day dining on playful foods straight from Dr. Seuss’s imagination – green eggs and ham, moose juice and goose juice, along with colorful fruit and pancake stacks, funky French toast and more, with traditional breakfast favorites also available. While Carnival’s wait staff set the tone with Dr. Seuss-inspired uniforms, popular Dr. Seuss characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam will be joining guests at their tables for fun interactions and one-of-a-kind photo opportunities. Hosted on the first sea day of each cruise, this special breakfast will be available for $5 per guest.

seuss at sea with carnival cruise lines

Every ship in the Carnival fleet will have a selection of classic Dr. Seuss books, toys and themed activities for children to enjoy. Special showings of beloved movies such as “The Cat in the Hat” and Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will be shown outdoors on the giant screen of the Seaside Theater on Lido Deck as part of the cruise line’s Dive-In Movies programming. On Carnival Freedom, which is undergoing a major refurbishment in May, and Carnival Vista, which debuts in early 2016, there will be a Dr. Seuss Bookville facility — a unique and dedicated Seuss-themed play space featuring iconic décor, colors, shapes and funky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. The perfect place for families to relax, unwind and enjoy each other’s company, guests can read one of many available Dr. Seuss books or stretch their imagination through other family-fun activities including arts and crafts, toys and Dr. Seuss-inspired games.

Story time at sea will never be the same with the introduction of Seuss-a-palooza Story Time, A Rhyming Good Time – an interactive reading event that brings to life the colorful world of Dr. Seuss for kids of all ages. Hosted on a sea day each voyage in a custom-created environment on board or within Dr. Seuss Bookville, this memorable storytelling event will feature some of the most beloved Dr. Seuss characters.

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At other times during the voyage, children and families will have the chance to meet and interact with favorite Dr. Seuss characters and participate in special photo opportunities featuring colorful and zany Dr. Seuss-inspired artwork, as well as through events and activities such as the Seuss-a-palooza Character Parade where guests can join Dr. Seuss characters in a swirly conga line along the Promenade. A variety of Dr. Seuss-themed retail items will be available, as well.

The Seuss at Sea initiative builds upon Carnival’s leadership position in family cruising. The line carries more than 700,000 kids aboard its fleet each year — nearly half of the total number of kids carried by the entire North American cruise industry.

“Our youth and family programming continues to be highly rated and extremely popular with the millions of families who sail with Carnival, but we’re constantly challenging ourselves to uncover unique and interesting ways to further enhance our guest experience,” said Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations for Carnival Cruise Lines. “We are thrilled to bring the fun, whimsical and wonderful world of Dr. Seuss to life for our guests of all ages to create even more fun and memorable moments during our cruise vacations.”

“Dr. Seuss inspires imaginations across generations and encourages a playfulness and whimsy that is often lost in today’s ‘always on’ society,” said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. “We’re excited to be working with Carnival Cruise Lines to bring some of the timeless magic of Dr. Seuss to the families that sail each year. Seuss at Sea will let kids and parents alike explore their imaginations through the memorable onboard experiences we’re building together.”

Roll-out of the Seuss at Sea program will begin aboard Carnival Splendor in February 2014 with implementation across the full fleet by 2015, as well as Carnival Vista when that ship enters service in early 2016.

For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

carnival cruise lines seuss at sea

All photos used with permission, courtesy Carnival.com