Disney’s newest dream come true cruise

When you wish upon a star…your dream come true might just be Disney’s newest and largest cruise ship, aptly named the Disney Dream. Parents that like to cruise with the kiddies can set sail to Caribbean hot spots and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, when the Dream departs central Florida on its maiden voyage Jan. 26.

Disney is not new to the cruise industry, having embarked on the high seas in the 1990s with the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder ships. Chances are, if you’re a cruiser with children, you may have already done the Disney thing – complete with signature characters on board and an agenda packed with family-friendly activities– at least once.

So, other than being new, what’s worth checking out on the Dream? To start, the Dream is 50 percent larger than its predecessors and can carry 4,000 passengers – not the largest ship out on the seas, but a sizable ship nonetheless.

The coolest feature to me, however, is the AquaDuck, a unique shipboard water …

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New Year’s travel without the snow and ice hassle

After a weekend of snow, ice and massive holiday travel delays, some Atlantans may be looking forward to a quiet New Year’s at home.

For travelers who were flying over the weekend – or who are still trying to get home – the words “bedraggled”, “exhausted”, “stranded” and “canceled” are all too familiar. As of Tuesday, nearly 7,000 flights had been canceled because of heavy snowfall and brutal winds up and down the East Coast. Juggling passengers and rescheduling flights in the run-up to the New Year, when flights are typically full anyway, could take several more days.

Even some lucky few who were able to get in the air and arrive at their destination found their troubles weren’t over. Passengers on several planes landing in New York earlier this week sat on the tarmac for as many as eight hours before they could disembark.

With train schedules and road travel also disrupted, especially in the northeast, it would come as no surprise that travelers may …

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White Christmas: A traveler’s dream or just a travel nightmare?

With just three days to go until Christmas, most Atlantans who are traveling this weekend have turned a keen eye to the daily weather reports to see how the winter weather is going to affect their holiday travels this year.

USA Today reported Tuesday that half of the United States should “chalk up” a white Christmas in 2010, and while Georgians can expect the usual wet Christmas, you don’t have to travel too far to run into the white stuff. The entire state of Tennessee, plus the vast majority of North Carolina and a slice of upstate South Carolina have a 25-50 percent chance of having at least an inch of snow on the ground come Christmas. Higher elevations in those states can pretty much go to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing their dreams of a white Christmas will come true.

As you can imagine, all that snow can wreak havoc on already traffic-clogged roadways; and icy storms can turn white Christmas dreams into travel nightmares if you’re sitting in the airport hoping …

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What’s the best travel gift you’ve received?

For the past month, I have been getting round first on crutches and now in an aircast boot – all of which has made my typical Christmas shopping frenzy that much more harried and difficult. In an effort to get things done, I have turned to the Internet for gift research and shopping much more than I usually do (and I’m typically one of Amazon’s biggest customers in December).

It was while searching online for gift ideas for my daughter that I stumbled across this report on great travel gifts from Lonely Planet. Some of the ideas aren’t new. A travel journal is a classic gift for the traveler in your life. I have given and received quite a few over the years, and always make sure my children have their own when we head out for vacations.

Some of the suggestions have the potential to be pricey, but they would be lovely gifts, for sure. In this time of crowded airports and heightened frustrations for air travelers, I like the idea of giving my air-bound loved ones a …

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Think outside the bubble at Madison’s microcar museum

After returning from a whirlwind trip to St. Simons for Thanksgiving, I was talking with some neighbors about the traffic over the holiday weekend. They asked me how long it took to get through the infamous I-75 bottleneck that is Henry County. I told them, it took no time at all. Actually, we opted for the long – but traffic and stress-free – way, heading east of Atlanta to Madison, where we followed U.S. 441 south to Dublin to pick up I-16 for our trip to the coast.

That’s when one neighbor, whose family lives out on Lake Oconee, asked me if I had ever stopped by the Dubble Bubble Museum in Madison. My first thought was, “I’ve never even heard of a bubble gum museum,” much less one in Madison.  

My father spent part of his childhood in Madison, and we would occasionally make the family trek there for him to reconnect with his roots. When I was a student at UGA, I would often drive through Madison on my way to St. Simons or to my roommate’s hometown of Albany. …

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Jet lag a drag on travelers’ brains?

Jet lag. Just thinking of those two words makes me tired. Turns out, people who frequently experience jet lag may have problems thinking as well as sleeping.

New research shows that chronic jet lag — the kind frequent international travelers, pilots and flight attendants may suffer – doesn’t just mess up travelers’ sleep patterns for a few days immediately following a trip; it can have long-term effects on the brain’s memory and cognitive functions. Studies performed on hamsters, simulating repeated jet lag from a New York-to-Paris flight, showed that brain activity in the hamsters was still disrupted a month after the hamsters returned to a normal schedule. Not only were the animals tired from the repeated simulated “flight” spanning several time zones, but they continued to experience problems with learning and memory tasks weeks later.

So what does that mean for the traveler who frequently criss-crosses time zones?

“The takeaway is that if you are repeatedly …

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Waterfront Christmas Traditions

While Thanksgiving has been the traditional starting gun for the race to Christmas, it seems the retailers haven’t waited this year to put up Christmas decorations or start “Black Friday” sales.  Christmas in my mind is a Bing Crosby “Winter Wonderland,” but in the southeast, snow and sledding are less likely than rain and mud-bogging.  In that tradition, southerners have all kinds of options for getting in a coastal Christmas spirit.

This weekend, travelers to North Myrtle Beach can enjoy the Intracoastal Christmas Regatta.  Since 1984, the Regatta has kicked off the Christmas season in grand fashion.  This year, the parade will begin at the Little River Inlet at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 27, and will end at the Dock Holidays Marina at 7 p.m.  Spectators and participants donate cash or unwrapped toys for local needy children and enjoy the sights of brightly lit boats floating down the Intracoastal Waterway.   

Also on Saturday, the city of Savannah will …

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At what point do you just opt out of flying?

In the past week, the hullabaloo over airport security checks has reached heightened levels, to say the least. Few travelers – or anyone for that matter – can have escaped news stories detailing the Transportation Security Administration’s move from back-of-the-hand pat downs for passengers who refuse full-body scans to searches where security personnel use the front of their hand.

Concerns over privacy loss from full-body scanners’ well-defined images seem to have led to some travelers enduring more personal or uncomfortable techniques. Groping, sexual assault and probing “where the sun doesn’t shine” are just a few of the printable descriptions some fliers are using for the new screening techniques at airport checkpoints. The result? Reports of a growing frustration among fliers and airline personnel, along with a week’s worth of video of long security lines, travelers receiving pat downs or frequent fliers worried about the long-term health effects of …

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What are the best and worst things about travel in the 2000s?

In two weeks, the 2010 holiday travel season will be in full swing. When it’s over, we will have crossed over the threshold into 2011 and the dawn of a new decade of travel. TripAdvisor.com released yesterday a survey of travelers, which asked among other things, for people to name the best and worst travel developments of the past decade.

Their response? For starters, travelers have become quite fond of online check-in since the beginning of this decade. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed said the ability to check-in for their upcoming flights was the number one development of the past 10 years.  Candid travel reviews and increased options for online travel bookings tied at 16 percent each for the next best development for travelers. In short, the Internet appears to have helped travelers — whether they’re jetting round the globe or driving round the state — make the most of their journeys in recent years.

On the flip side, the traveling public stood strong in its …

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Are you an adventurous traveler or a cautious one?

The other day, I ran across a headline that described vacationing Americans as the least adventurous as compared with citizens on holiday from four other similar countries. A survey by Intrepid Travel revealed that among Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and British travelers, Americans were least likely to try a variety of vacation experiences. The Kiwis were the most adventurous.

Intrepid Travel organizes tours to small, off-the-beaten-path locales, and encourages travelers to meet with, and often stay in the homes of, locals as part of their vacation experience. Among the questions the company surveyed were whether travelers in each country would be willing to eat deep-fried tarantulas, go on safari, sleep in a hilltop village hut, explore ancient ruins and haggle at local markets. In essence, travelers were asked how willing they were to embrace the culture and people of their travel destination.

Within the United States, certain regions showed they were …

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