Imaginative Food Choices in the Heart of Havana!

We took away a lot from our first trip to Cuba earlier this year, so much so that we are happily returning next year bigger and better than ever for our Drag Stars at Sea 2017: Cuba Adventure! Cuba has a lot to offer any traveler, with excitement in several cities and great people to meet along the way. Something in particular from Cuba stands out though: its amazing food. The Cuban people have a special pride about the meals they prepare, and it shines through in their best restaurants! We are going to explore a place in Havana, Cuba today that is known for having delicious food as well as being incredibly fun and trendy!

 

 

304 O’Reilly‘s creators did not use any creativity on this place’s name, its address, instead choosing to pour their efforts into making amazing food! The restaurant is open from noon to midnight and serves a variety of great food and drinks. One of the signature dishes is the fish of the day done up with a mixture of herbs served with fresh vegetables and plated beautifully, as can be seen below. The dishes offer a lovely spread of flavors across the board that are all well received. They also serve tacos that have been a smash hit, they are the talk of the town! Even better than just great food is the fact that the portions are notably generous and the price is absolutely outstanding, with meals ranging from eight to thirteen dollars on average! People leave here with their stomachs full and their mouths satisfied with all of the flavors to be tried!

 

The food is great, but this place is just as famous for the large variety and quality of drinks that they offer! The cocktails they offer are MASSIVE, and people rave about how delicious they are! It is highly recommended that you place a reservation before coming because while it is a great place to eat space is limited and with great drinks and food it’s not hard to imagine why this is one of the most bustling places in all of Havana. It is noted that the energy here is off the charts as well, with a staff that is visibly young, energetic, and always happy to serve with a smile, it will be very hard to find a more welcoming staff on the whole island! Even the owner will get in on the fun at times by sitting down with his guests and giving them an authentic Cuban cigar while regaling them with stories about art and food. It is truly a can’t miss experience!

Havana has a lot of hidden treasures to offer, and I am dedicated to finding them and sharing them with you all as we get prepared for the trip next year! It’s going to be a great time and an amazing opportunity to savor some local delights while you are there! Drag Stars at Sea 2017: Cuba Adventure is going to be a spectacular adventure, and right now we are taking bookings for past travelers as well as reservations for new ones! Get your place in line NOW by visiting here!

 

Taking in History in St. Thomas!

We will be traveling to various places around the Caribbean as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean and we here know that people like a certain amount of adventure whenever they travel abroad. To that end we are going to look at some of the exciting prospects at our destinations and show you a few ideas for you to have a great time on this or any other trip to the Caribbean. Today we are going to explore St. Thomaswhere history’s footsteps are planted all over!

Blackbeard’s Castle is a very popular tourist attraction in the city of Charlotte Amalie. It was built in 1679 by the Danes to be employed as a watchtower to protect the harbor as well as Fort Christian. The original name for the building was Skytsborg Tower, which translates to ‘Sky Tower,’ and is located at the highest point on Government Hill. The tower turned out to be the perfect complement to the fort as the vantage point negated the fort’s weakness of being at sea level, which made the fort very effective at sinking ships with cannons. It isn’t known when the name changed to Blackbeard’s castle, nor if Blackbeard himself ever used the building as a base. The lore states that he used the tower for many years as a lookout for his own nefarious pirate scheming, unconfirmed that it is. Tours around the site are available for those interested in seeing everything it has to offer.

If you’re going to Blackbeard’s Castle you first have to make your way up the 99 Steps, which is actually 103 steps but apparently no one was counting. Referred to as step streets, of frigangs by the Danes, the steps connect several portions of the town to one another. Many visitors note that the elevation of the steps is a remarkable place to snap photographs of the harbor and various buildings and the stairs themselves are often described to be picturesque. The bricks used to construct the steps are from Denmark and were brought over in in the hulls of ships. Originally the steps were named ‘Store Taarne Gade’ which translates to Greater Tower Street.

Something of particular interest to me is the Pirates & Ghosts Night Kayak Tour which is as awesome as it sounds. You will take a glowing kayak through the murky night as the background of 1500 foot mountains shrouds the water in shadows. A guide will talk about the Virgin Islands’ spooky history as you paddle past the many haunting sites of pirates and ghosts of yesteryear! This is certainly an exciting experience for anyone who loves pirates! This tour takes place in Frenchtown, which aside from the amazing kayaking adventure also enjoys a wonderful nightlife and many restaurants which have a certain charm to them.

St. Thomas is a beautiful island with many great sites to see and places to explore. Its rich history and scenic views blend in beautifully together to make an amazing experience. You can visit this grand island, and so many other great places, as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean. For information about this excursion, go here.

 

Going to great heights to experience Antigua!

We will be traveling to various places around the Caribbean as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean and we here know that people like a certain amount of adventure whenever they travel abroad. To that end we are going to look at some of the exciting prospects at our destinations and show you a few ideas for you to have a great time on this or any other trip to the Caribbean. Today we’re going to Antiguawhere the great view is only the half of it!

Shirley Heights, as the name suggests, is a very high point on the island of Antigua. It used to be a military complex which served as a lookout over English Harbor and a small military installation. As the island’s Signal Station, it employed a series of flags during the day or a series of guns at night when they needed to get a message to St. John’s. Aside from the mild historical context the amazing view is what this place is really about. People are in complete agreement that watching the sun set at this particular vantage point is one of the most beautiful in the entire Caribbean, if not the world. Many of the views in postcards and magazines of Antigua, or in photos like the above, come from this location. The breathtaking view of the island is one that absolutely cannot be missed!

The Donkey Sanctuary on the island is a great deal of fun made from something with a more sinister past. Back in the days of slavery the donkeys were used to haul sugar all over the island, and as you can imagine the animals were treated very poorly and were overworked to the extreme. When slavery was abolished and there was no longer mass quantities of sugar to be transported the donkeys were abandoned to their fate. Luckily, a group of very kind people decided that the animals should be given a home and thus this lovely place come into being! Everyone who visits the sanctuary raves about how fun it is, and how remarkably gentle the creatures are. They are quite friendly and most of all the donkeys love all of the attention you can give them. The Sanctuary offers tours of the facility where a knowledgeable guide will give you some great information on the donkeys you are observing! Perhaps not what would expect on a beautiful island, but a must see replace regardless!

 

Hell’s Gate is a rock formation that holds a little bit of mythos behind it. You may have noticed the rock looks very similar to the continent of Africa. Local legend says that when people were being brought over by Africa they would have to pass this rock to reach the island proper, and that over time the formation shifted to match the land where these people came from. Regardless of legends though, the people who visit the rock formation really get a kick out of it and it is a lovely place to take some photographs. All of the pristine water surrounding the formation doesn’t hurt a bit either! You can even go snorkeling nearby, which is a treat due to all of the fish that swim in the waters.

Antigua is a very attractive island with a lot of fun activities to explore! It never ceases to amaze me just how beautiful so many of the islands of the Caribbean are, it is TRULY humbling to be able to view it. We are happy to be visiting here as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean! For all of the information about this trip, please go here!

An excellent culinary experience in San Juan!

One of the great things about traveling is the chance to experience different cultures around the world first hand, and there are few better ways to do that then to take a bite of someone’s food. Like music, food is a universal language. We all eat, we enjoy food in vastly different ways, and one person’s supreme meal is another person’s garbage.  I have been doing a lot of research lately when it comes to the highlights of the world, and quite a bit of that time has been devoted to various eateries. Today’s treats come from San Juan, where local ingredients are turned into something special!

Marmalade is a truly thrilling experience that any person who enjoys food should treat themselves to while in the city. Not to be mistaken for a wholly casual experience, sandals and shorts aren’t part of the dress code but the ambiance more than makes up for having to get dressed up. Customers note that the service is fantastic with friendly and knowledgeable staff. It was a consistent trend that the bar tenders here know their drinks and create absolutely delicious concoctions to be enjoyed! Speaking of drinks, this restaurant has won six awards of excellence when it comes to wine pairings, so you can expect very high quality wine that suits the food you are eating here.

 

There is a special pride here about how they go about their business. On an island where over ninety percent of the food is imported for consumption, they aggressively pursue and support small producers and local farmers who share their ideals for organic and sustainable means of producing and eating food. They have plenty of vegan options but what is the true common denominator in all of their food is the commitment to excellence and the explosive flavors they pack into every dish. For fish lovers they have the Queen Red Snapper, which is poached in a Thai style curry and coconut broth and then served over a bed of jasmine rice and spiced shrimp-sesame dumplings. Customers rave that the flavors mix beautifully and create a marvelous seafood experience. The Heritage Berkshire Pork Cheeks are another delicious item, served with barbequed black bean puree, garlicky greens roasted peanut and lime emulsion, and a Californian peach-pablano marmalade. The mixture of flavors are talked about as quite the delight!

 

No fine dining experience is complete without some delicious dessert, of course. One of the featured item is the Millionaires Ice Cream, which is churned with fresh French summer truffles on the inside and served with honeycomb & hazelnuts along with shaved truffles on the outside. It is a truly amazing ice cream experience that customers keep coming back for time and time again! For something truly organic one only needs to look towards the Blueberry-Lavender “No-No” cake. No gluten, no eggs, no dairy, no nuts, no refined sugar of any kind, no GMO’s… everything organic! Needless to say it also tastes absolutely fantastic and is one of the most ordered items off of the dessert menu! They also have a peanut brittle ice cream that wasn’t talked about much but that I personally would love to try, as a lover of peanut brittle!

Marmalade is an interesting and creative restaurant that is clearly striving to bring something amazing to the people of San Juan. Their commitment to excellence oozes off all of their decisions, and their welcoming staff proceeds what is world class food. You should stop in whenever you are in town, and you can get in town as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean! For all of the information for this amazing cruise, go here.

Let Love Define Family Series Explores LGBT Family Vacations

Let Love Define Family Series Explores LGBT Family Vacations

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post  |  By

There are a few things you hear over and over again from LGBT families that take LGBT-themed vacations: “It’s completely open and comfortable and a place where you are surrounded by people who are experiencing life in a similar way. It’s not about the destination, it is all about the experience.”

Jeffrey and Chris Hietikko-Parsons and their 8 1/2 year old son, Henry, from New Jersey, have been on 10 trips so far with R Family Vacations. “We always have an amazing time,” they explained. “Everything is so well planned and there is a high caliber of activities and entertainment. It’s not like other vacations — these feel like we’re on a trip with our extended family.”

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Planning a vacation can be stressful for everyone involved: Where do we go? How do we get there? What do we do when we get there? What if we get bored? For the LGBT family, there is also the added challenge of finding a place to truly relax and feel comfortable. So, an entire industry was born to create the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure for everyone!

There is no doubt that family trips create memories and bonds that last a lifetime, but a big part of these vacations seem to be the sense of community and spending time in a place where kids, and adults, feel like their family isn’t so different.

One gay couple conveyed the story about how in just the past week, while going about their day-to-day business with their two children, they were asked by two waiters and a cashier, “Where is the woman of the house?” The quick response is that their 13 year-old daughter is our woman of the household. It can be a subtle reminder that some in society still see LGBT families as a sort of anomaly. That could be a reason why LGBT group travel is growing. It’s not just the activities, it is more about escaping to a world of acceptance and true relaxation.

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“Where we live, being a gay family is not a big deal,” said Jeremy Gransky from Massachusetts, “but there are not many other LGBT families around us, so being in that environment with other families like us makes all the difference.” Jeremy and husband John Gransky, with two kids Will and Natalie, are looking forward to their 11th trip with R Family this summer.

“The kids are a big focus for us,” explains R Family Vacations co-founder Kelli Carpenter. “The trips will look like every other family vacation, but on a bigger scale. We’re always finding ways to bring wonder and excitement to the experience for everyone, but especially the kids.”

Stephen Botte from San Jose, and his son Francesco, continue on these excursions just for the experiences they have. “In society you’re the gay family, but with these trips you just a family enjoying a vacation. It’s a total VIP experience that you get to share with thousands of people just like you.”

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Since LGBT families are growing, so is the industry. Two of these companies, R Family Vacations and Olivia Travel, are actually teaming up to provide a new inclusive package for everyone in the family!

“We’ve been in the business of lesbian travel for over 40 years and people started asking us about family trips,” explained Judy Dlugacz, founder of Olivia Travel. “Instead of trying to do it ourselves, we decided to partner with the best in the business, R Family Vacations, to create something wonderful for everybody.”

Both travel companies discussed how the LGBT travel market has changed and evolved to offer an array of destinations and options for singles, parents, kids and even extended family and friends.

Gregg Kaminsky, co-founder of R Family Vacations, said, “we started by providing trips for gay and lesbian families, but quickly discovered that people were bringing their parents, aunts and uncles, friends, and it developed into this great experience that was welcoming to all.”

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The first collaboration between Olivia Travel and R Family Vacations will be a Mexican adventure at the Hard Rock Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, July 9-16, 2016.

Stephen was recently at the resort for an Atlantis vacation with some friends. “I was at this gorgeous resort and was sitting by the pool and my only thought was I wish that Francesco could experience this. Now he can, and we’ve already got the dates marked off on our calendar!”

Judy Dlugacz sums it up best: “we’re working hard to provide the best in activities and entertainment that will have something for everyone, no matter your definition of ‘family,’ this is the family vacation for you!”

Let us plan your next LGBT Family trip!

Please contact us at 866-949-1429

Or Fill Out the Contact Form Below:

Please allow at least 24 to 48 hours to receive a response to your inquiry.

This Week’s RUveal For Drag Stars At Sea North America

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Drag Stars At Sea: Europe
Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas. October 2 – 9, 2015Sailing London, Southampton, Vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona

8 DAYS FROM JUST $799

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Drag Stars At Sea: North America (OFFICIAL PAGE)





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ALandCHUCK.travel proudly presents

BREAKING NEWS

Drag Stars At Sea: Europe / aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
October 2 – 9, 2015 sailing London, Southampton, Vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona

Drag Stars At Sea: North America / aboard Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas
January 23 – 30, 2016 San Juan, St Thomas, St John, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, Granada

DRAG STARS AT SEA: North America
“Pirates Of The Caribbean”
Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas,  January 23 – 30, 2016
THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CRUISE

8 Days from $439 plus government taxes & fees

We are very pleased to announce the 5th Installment of Drag Stars At Sea North America aboard the HUGE 139,000 ton Adventure of the Seas sailing from the MOVIE SET of the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean” San Juan, Puerto Rico to St Thomas & St John, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, and Granada.  This amazing itinerary is all brand new and never done before for Drag Stars At Sea and is the most port and beach intensive in our history.  ADDITIONALLY, gone is Thanksgiving weekend allowing you to plan without a holiday and at lower airfares than ever before for a PEAK WINTER CRUISE! This incredible cruise experience will also feature optional tours including our famous London PILLAGE & PLUNDER “Syrens Scream” pre party.  Your 2 Day / 1 night stay is the perfect way to start your Vacation experience.    Best of all, Drag Stars At Sea North America “Pirates Of The Caribbean” includes the largest gathering of Drag Stars in San Juan’s history, fantastic shows, incredible theme parties, unique and exclusive shore excursions, and many other special activities to make this a vacation of a lifetime.  There is NOTHING like this in North America and it promises to be a vacation of a lifetime!

ON LINE RESERVATIONS will open on Friday, January 9, 2015 EXCLUSIVELY for past Drag Stars At Sea guests.  All other guests can start to make reservations on Monday, January 12 (exclusively on line).  Phone reservations will not be accepted until beginning Friday, January 16.  See ALandCHUCK.travel website starting on Friday, January 9 for all cruise details and the booking reservation link. (note: the Facebook 2014 group pages will close on Friday, January 9.  We invite you to the new 2015 Europe and 2016 North America group pages which are now open and where all the conversation will be.)

IMPORTANT FEATURES OF DRAG STARS AT SEA:

  • Reservations are available ONLY with exclusive booking through ALandCHUCK.travel  Guests with reservations from any other travel company or the cruise line directly will not be participants for Drag Stars At Sea.

 

  • NO OTHER ALandCHUCK.travel GROUPS (or its subsidiaries) WILL BE AVAILABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CRUISE.  ONLY Drag Stars At Sea guests will be allowed to make reservations for this cruise and you will be our ONLY special guests aboard the ship.
  • THIS WILL BE A MORE INTIMATE EXPERIENCE achieved by allowing a MUCH smaller number of guests than the full ship experience we have done in the past. In fact, we plan to limit our reservation number to a much smaller total than we have done in recent years.  It allows our cruise to be more intimate and filled with very personal vacation experiences. Our goal is to create a more intimate vacation and travel experience where you can interact with all guests and stars.

 

  • YOU ARE HOSTED BY ALL THE QUEENS, no Queen selection is needed.  New for DSAS, you will have interaction and be hosted by ALL the queens on the cruise.  More time is provided for interaction, meet/greets and many special activities aboard ship.  Our goal is for you to see ALL the talent and have a more intimate experience aboard Drag Stars At Sea.
  • SPECIAL MEET & GREET WITH EVERY STAR ON THE WORLD FAMOUS ROYAL PROMENADE ABOARD SHIP.  This unique four story high indoor mall-like room is perhaps the most amazing public room on any ship in the world and runs nearly the entire length of the ship.  You will enjoy a special meet/greet with EVERY STAR in one place along the Royal Promenade becoming the largest photo meet/greet in history!

 

  • EXCLUSIVE VIP EXPERIENCE WITH THE STARS.  New to Drag Stars At Sea we are providing a very intimate experience with your favorite star.  This VIP experience is just $99.  The VIP Experience is with just a maximum of 8 guests as you interact with your star.  Begin with a 30 minute cocktail meet/greet with your star and exclusive guests (cash bar).  Next you have a special dinner table and enjoy dinner with your star.  It is the ultimate opportunity to talk to and KiKi with the performer at your own dinner table.  Finally you enjoy a show that includes your star with VIP front/near row seating. This VIP Experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  (advance reservations will be available on line)
  • SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE SHORE EXCURSIONS AVAILABLE ONLY TO GUESTS OF DRAG STARS AT SEA.  Special private tours are available in every port at special reduced pricing exclusively with ALandCHUCK.travel guests hosted by our staff and selected Queens.  You can start to make reservations for these special trips on Friday, January 9.

 

  • FOUR SPECIAL PARTIES ABOARD SHIP. Participating in Drag Stars At Sea will allow you to participate in four special parties. Enjoy THE BLACK PEARL BALL which will be our welcome aboard Masquerade party.  We also will have three additional theme & costume parties aboard ship.  These elaborate events welcome you however you see fit.  But if you wish to fully participate, you will enjoy some of the most amazing costumes, drag presentations and a special $500 prize to the best presentation for EACH party aboard.  It makes Drag Stars At Sea a cruise like no other.
  • ALandCHUCK.travel CONCEIRGE DESK ABOARD SHIP.  An exclusive benefit for our Drag Stars At Sea guests is a Concierge Desk that we operate daily.  It will provide information on every aspect of the cruise and goes much farther than what is available through the cruise lines Guest Services.  This concierge service is provided exclusively by ALandCHUCK.travel staff.

 

  • WELCOME ABOARD MEETING & STARS MEET/GREET. On the day you board the cruise ALandCHUCK.travel will host a Drag Stars At Sea Welcome Aboard Presentation that will include a welcome to all guests, the latest information on the cruise and meeting all the stars of the cruise.  It is an exclusive for DSAS guests.
  • “AT A GLANCE” COMMUNICATION BULLETIN. Your electronic documents will arrive 7 to 10 days prior to departure and will include “AT A GLANCE” the exclusive on board communication tool for Drag Stars At Sea.  This concise summary of all events aboard the ship will help you plan and remember every detail to ensure it is a vacation of a lifetime.

 

  • MAKE UP CLASS.  We offer an exclusive Make Up Class hosted by a star that if you choose to participate can be outstanding for those in Drag or for every day needs (additional charge and advance reservations will be available on line)
  • BAR & DRINK PACKAGES ARE AVAILABLE.  ALandCHUCK.travel is happy to announce that unlimited soda, wine, bar and other packages will be available to Drag Stars At Sea guests.  (advance reservations will be available on line).

 

  • OUTSTANDING DINING CHOICES.  Guests of Drag Stars At Sea will be able to participate in a fantastic featured dining choices including:

MY TIME DINING:  You enjoy open seating for dinner (all meals are included aboard ship FREE in the buffet or main dining room) to dine when you want and who you want to dine with. The ultimate choice.

PORTOFINO Gourmet Italian Dinner:  One evening this specialty restaurant is a feature for Drag Stars At Sea guests to enjoy with ALandCHUCK.travel staff and select Stars (small additional charge and advance reservations will be available on line)

CHOPS GRILLE Gourmet Steakhouse Dinner:  One evening this specialty restaurant is a feature for Drag Stars At Sea guests to enjoy with ALandCHUCK.travel staff and select Stars (small additional charge and advance reservations will be available on line)

CHEFS TABLE Gourmet Dinner Experience: One evening this specialty WORLD CLASS dining experience is a feature exclusively for Drag Stars At Sea guests to enjoy.

  • DRAG STAR AT SEA JACKPOT BINGO PARTY.  During the sailing you will enjoy a jackpot Bingo party hosted by select Queens.  It will be a fun and entertaining event aboard Drag Stars At Sea.

 

  • STUDIO B WHITE ICE PARTY.  During the cruise you will enjoy a special WHITE ICE PARTY that will be held in the largest Ice Skating venue aboard a ship in the world.  Enjoy skating (small additional charge for skates) and music/bar to make the party fun. Dress the part as we offer this special WHITE PARTY unlike has ever been done before.
  • CARIBBEAN OPEN GOLF PARTY.  During the cruise you will enjoy a special round of golf (well, 9 holes of Goofy Golf) as we host a party called the “Caribbean Open.”  It promises to be lots of fun!

 

SAILING ITINERARY FOR DRAG STARS AT SEA NORTH AMERICA:

Saturday  /  January 23, 2016  /  Sail from San Juan, Puerto Rica  /  8:30 pm
Sunday  /  January 24, 2016  /  St Thomas & St John, US Virgin Islands  /  8 am – 6 pm
Monday  /  January 25, 2016  /  St Croix, US Virgin Islands  /  7 am – 6 pm
Tuesday  /  January 26, 2016  /  Antigua  /  8 am – 5 pm
Wednesday  /  January 27, 2016  /  St Lucia  /  8 am – 5 pm
Thursday  /  January 28, 2016  /  Grenada  /  8 am – 5 pm
Friday  /  January 29, 2016  /  Fun day at sea 
Saturday  /  January 30, 2016  /  San Juan  /  Arrive 6 am

*special events are subject to change or modification as required for the operation of the ship.


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