Caribbean Cruises: Island Fun and Adventure for Families

image001The Caribbean is one of the world’s most desirable destinations and there’s hardly a better way to visit the islands than by sea, where you can be transported to each island in style, as well as approach the stunning coastal locations of places like Antigua and Dominica from a unique perspective. If you’re considered a family vacation to this beautiful region of the world then check out what you can expect from Caribbean cruises.

 Why a family cruise?

Caribbean cruise deals offer exceptional value for money and especially so for families. On-board accommodation can easily match that of any resort hotel and all-inclusive options are also available, which does make good financial sense on a family holiday. Live on-board entertainment, supervised children’s activities as well as cinemas, swimming pools, fitness centres and spas are all available on today’s cruise ships. The major bonus is of course the opportunity to relax on board as you voyage towards your Caribbean island of choice – fewer airport trips and hours spent in the car are always good.

Adventure activities in Antigua

On-shore excursions do make a holiday and families will love the adventure activities available in locations such as Antigua. This stunning island is home to 365 beautiful beaches and bays but there’s also a wealth of family activities to enjoy. Learn to horse ride in the surf, teach your kids to snorkel or take them kayaking through the eastern Red Mangroves: a stop-off here will be an energetic one! Other ways to see the island can also include zipline canopy tours and jeep safaris through the rainforest, as well as treks through the immense Devil’s Bridge National Park.

Beach fun in Barbados

The most eastern of the Caribbean islands offers a multitude of beaches to suit your taste. If you’re looking for kayaking, jet-skiing and windsurfing then head to the southern, white sand beaches that are favoured by water sports enthusiasts. The beaches along the west coast, with their palm trees and shallow waters, are more tranquil and perfect for family picnics. Cruise ships will no doubt stop at the capital city of Bridgetown and this historic location offers plenty of attractions like the stately Parliament Buildings, as well as nearby Harrison’s Cave, where all ages will be awed by the ancient stalactites.

The Caribbean’s natural beauty spot

Dominica has been called the Caribbean’s Nature Isle due to its unspoilt beauty and this is an island of lush mountain scenery, rainforests and magnificent waterfalls. Dominica is also the ideal island for adventure activities and sightseeing excursions. Day trips can include dolphin and whale watching trips as well as exploring a volcanic crater lake and viewing the amazing Trafalgar and Middleham Falls. A chance to snorkel at the vibrant Champagne Reef should not be missed; the name derives from the bubbles produced by underwater volcanic gases.

These are just three of the many islands that can be visited on a Caribbean cruise. Take your time to research the islands to decide which activities and sightseeing opportunities suit your group. But if you can’t make up your mind, the beauty of a cruise is that there’s always the option of an island-hopping trip!

Images by Rennett Stowe, used under Creative Comms license

Family Friendly Activities in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was one of those places that pleasantly surprised us.  Normally, we do not like big cities. This was especially true after four months of being in SE Asia and staying in some really, really big noisy cities.  But we actually really enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur and found the city to be very modern, clean with a great public transport within the city center.  We also loved the cultural diversity, which we had not seen the likes of in other SE Asia countries. We also loved how family friendly the city was.  Jason and I both agree that Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities that it is very easy being a tourist in, as practically everyone speaks English, signs are in English and it is very modern. We also found everyone to be really nice, friendly and helpful.  At the end of our month stay, it was bittersweet saying goodbye to a city that we had so enjoyed.  Here are some of the activities that we found during our stay in Kuala Lumpur.

Art

There are many art galleries in Kuala Lumpur.  The two galleries we liked were the National Visual Art Gallery and Galleri Petronas.  Both are modern art galleries and are free to visit.  While the National Visual Art Gallery is a more difficult to reach by public transport, it is larger and the inside of the building itself is interesting.  At both galleries, we got to see some amazing art by Malay artists that we would have never seen if we had not gone.  The Galleri Petronas also offers art classes on the weekends for all ages at a very reasonable price.   During out stay, Sydney was able take two classes and absolutely loved it.  Unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside the galleries.

Certificate for Art Class

Certificate for Art Class

Sydney's paintings she made during art class

Sydney’s paintings she made during art class

National Planetarium

This is a gem that we nearly missed.  On the day we went to the National Planetarium, we were originally planning to do an outside activity.  Fortunately it began to pour and the rain did not look like it was going to let up.  We were trying to figure out what to do when we noticed the National Planetarium on the map and decided to give it a try.  I am so glad that we decided to do this.  The museum has tons of hands on exhibits that are in both Malay and English, including a mock up of the International Space Station and Soyuz space capsule.  Sydney got to see how astronauts go to the bathroom and sleep in space.  She even got try out sitting in a model of the Soyuz capsule.  And one of the best parts of the museum is that it’s free.  If you go, don’t miss going up to the observation tower, which has a great view of the city of Kuala Lumpur.

National Planetarium

National Planetarium

Sleeping in Space

Sleeping in Space

Toilet in space

Toilet in space

Soyuz Space Capsule

Soyuz Space Capsule

View of Kuala Lumpur from the observatory

View of Kuala Lumpur from the observatory

KLCC Park

KLCC Park is located at the base of the Petronas Towers.  Besides having a spectacular view of the Petronas Towers, the park is a great place for kids to run around.  It has one of the biggest play structures I have ever seen and also has a great wading pool.  During our month stay, we enjoyed bringing a picnic lunch and just hanging out in the park while Sydney played with kids from around the world or just waded into the pool.  At night the fountain at the base of the Petronas Towers is lit up and makes for a fun evening out.

Part of the play structure at KLCC Park

Part of the play structure at KLCC Park

Wading pool

Wading pool

Fountain at night

Fountain at night

KL Bird ParK

This is one of the more expensive activities we did while in Kuala Lumpur.  Despite the cost, I felt it was worth it.  KL Bird Park is one of the largest open-air aviaries in the world and while there we were able to see many beautiful tropical birds species from around Malaysia including the hornbill.  KL Bird Park has several feeding times through out the day, so be sure be there during one of the feeding times. For more pictures, check out Sydney’s Corner on the KL Bird Park.

Sydney and the owls

Sydney and the owls

Love Birds

Love Birds

Emu

Emu

Movies

We found that the seeing a movie in the cinema in Kuala Lumpur to be incredibly cheap with prices as low as $7 for the 3 of us.  During our stay we went on a bit of a movie marathon, because they were just so cheap and we couldn’t resist.  Enjoying a movie can be a nice way to spend a down day and escape the heat.  There are several movie theaters in the city center including Suria KLCC and Pavilion mall.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves is about an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur, but can be reached easily by public transport.  Batu caves are natural caves where Hindu temples and sculptures have been built.  We enjoyed seeing the difference in Hindu temples versus the Buddhist temples we had been seeing in much of other parts of SE Asia.  A word of warning: at Batu Caves there are also some very cheeky macaque monkeys. Don’t have any plastic bags out or the macaques will try to liberate them from you to check for foo

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Cheeky macaques at Batu Caves

Cheeky monkey

Cheeky monkey

Cheeky monkey

Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia

This was my favorite activity we did while in Kuala Lumpur.  The Forestry Research Institute is located outside of Kuala Lumpur and can be reached by public transport and then a short taxi ride.  The Forestry Research Institute is set in one of the few rainforests left around Kuala Lumpur and has a great canopy walk.  Although, it is not a long canopy walk it was still impressive walking through the rainforest tree canopy.  It made me realize just how far the tree canopy towers above the rainforest floor.  Be aware that the canopy walk closes during rain.

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Petrosains Science Museum

Petrosains science museum is sponsored by the petroleum company Petronas so it definitely has an oil slant to it.  Despite this, the museum is still worth a visit and is huge with lots of hands on stuff including science experiments.  Sydney really enjoyed this museum and we actually ended up spending an entire day there.  Be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds.

We got to experience winds up to 126 KPH

We got to experience winds up to 126 KPH

Sydney participating in demonstration

Sydney participating in a demonstration

Dinosaur at Petrosains

Dinosaur at Petrosains

Dialogue in the Dark

I am a little hesitant to mention this one.  Not because Dialogue in the Dark wasn’t interesting, but because it is now located outside of Kuala Lumpur in Senlanger and you would need your own transportation.  Dialogue in the Dark is an exhibition to show what it would be like to be blind.  We were taken through several every day scenarios such as going through a market, using an ATM, navigating streets and even purchasing a drink at a coffee shop.  All of these activities were done in the pitch black.  It was an eye-opening experience for me and helped me appreciate how difficult “simple” tasks can become when you are blind.  At the end we had a good conversation with our guide and it made me realize how life is really not about the obstacles, but how we choose to handle those obstacles and whether we turn those obstacles into barriers or hurdles.  For more information, check out Jason’s blog about Dialogue in the Dark. Blind I hope this gives you some good ideas of what to do the next time you are in Kuala Lumpur.  I also hope that you love the city as much as we did.

United Kingdom: 1 Country, or 4?

We recently tried to count up all of the countries that we have visited and became stumped when we got to the United Kingdom. We were not sure if England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland should be counted as individual countries, or if they should be grouped under one country, United Kingdom.

To help us find a solution to our quandary, we sought out our trusted friend, Professor Google. This is where things got weird. Many of the definitions we could find called England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland “countries” and the definition for United Kingdom mentioned that it consists of 4 countries, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Some of the other definitions we found did not call them countries, but called them “divisions.”

Not having any luck finding a clear definition, we sought out the United Nations list of member states. The UN only lists the United Kingdom as a member, and not England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. So now the question is, should we only go by the UN list of countries like many people do? But here’s the problem. The UN does not list Western Sahara and Palestine (and a few others) as member countries, but they are included on Countries in the International Organization for Standardization list. But this list does not include England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland; just United Kingdom. However, according to our good friend, Professor Wikipedia, it states that the ISO list of the subdivisions of the UK is supplied by British Standards and the Office for National Statistics and so uses “country” to describe England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland, in contrast, is described as a “province” in the same lists.

And to confuse us even more, here is a great video to explain the United Kingdom:

Daunted by the lack of a clear definition, we posted this question on our Facebook page to see what others had to say. The results were interesting and the majority of people were in favor of calling them separate countries. This question also sparked some good debates. Here are the results of our very unscientific, yet entertaining, poll:

UK GraphSo, what have we decided to do? We have decided to count them as separate countries for our own country count.

What are your thoughts?

Travel Photography Contest: Winner Gets $100 in Concert or Event Tickets

Travel Photography Contest

Time for another Travel Photography Contest with an exciting prize for the winner. Just follow these simple rules and you will have a chance to win $100 in concert or event tickets through ScoreBig.com.

Please note that the concert and event tickets are only available inside the United States. Please check ScoreBig.com for available cities.

Rules

  1. Like our Facebook Page (if you don’t already)
  2. Share this contest on Facebook and other social media sites
  3. Submit a link to your favorite travel photo in the comments below or email your submission to [email protected]
  4. Photo submissions must be received no later than 12:01 AM US Pacific Time on Saturday July 26, 2014

Photo Guidelines

  • Photo must have been taken by you
  • Only one photo entry per person
  • Please provide a photo title and a brief description
  • Please keep photo dimensions and file size reasonable
  • No obscene or offensive photos (sorry)

Prize

One winner will be selected at random. Winner will receive a promotional code by email good for $100 towards concert or event tickets during checkout from ScoreBig.com. Promotional code can only be used once, so if you purchase tickets for $85, you will NOT have $15 to use later on.

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About the Contest’s Sponsor, ScoreBig.com

ScoreBig.com enables consumers to get great tickets for live sports, concert and theater events – at guaranteed savings of up to 60 percent. ScoreBig.com customers pick their own price on seats from the floor to the rafters, always pay less than box office price, and never pay any fees. For its partners, ScoreBig.com is the first and only opaque sales channel to move unsold ticket inventory in a way that protects the ticket owner’s brand and full-price sales. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., ScoreBig.com was founded in 2009 and is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners. ScoreBig.com was recently recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Most Promising Companies and by Billboard as one of the 10 Best Start-ups of 2012.

Quick Facts

  • You are guaranteed to save on each and every ticket on ScoreBig.com
  • Tickets for sports, concerts, theater, Broadway, family shows, and attractions
  • No fees – free delivery
  • Choose Your Seating Area – all seats ordered together will be next to each other
  • Tell us what you want to pay – you have all the control, it’s thrilling!
  • Get an instant answer – you find out right away if your offer has been accepted

How it Works

  • Choose your event
  • We don’t tell you what to pay, you decide…how much you save is up to you
  • By choosing a seating area rather than an exact seat, you’re giving the ticket providers the flexibility they need to give you great deals
  • Get an instant answer

Entered Photos

Entry #1

“Waves of Sand” by Scott C.

The picture is of the afternoon light on the Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado. The great sand dunes are the tallest dunes on the North American Continent, rising to 750 feet. The wind drops grains of sand at the base of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain range, which contains six 13,000 ft. peaks in the area. A creek runs at the base of the sand dunes during wet weather and kids have fund building sand castles or sliding down the dunes.  The camp grounds contain showers to get the sand off.  Bring boots for your dog or plan to carry it, because dogs do not do well on the hot sand.

Waves of Sand

Waves of Sand

Entry #2

“Like Sunrise on Mars” by Alison C.

The picture is sunrise over Goblin Valley, Utah.   The dusty landscape is filled with hoodoos large and small.  Since it is a state park, visitors can actually climb around the rocks and hoodoos, and children enjoy games of hide seek. It is off the beaten path, and a real jewel in the natural resources of Utah. A project called the “Mission to Mars” project is kept near the state park. Educators, scientists, students, can go there to experience what life on Mars might feel and look like.  The Mission to Mars was created by educator and long time Civil Air Patrol volunteer Col. Barrainca.  It can be very hot in the summer at Goblin Valley, with little to no shade, but the star gazing is beyond compare.  Spring and Fall visits to Goblin Valley are very pleasant.

Like Sunrise on Mars

Like Sunrise on Mars

Entry #3

“The Bluebell Woods” by Kerry M.

Trying to think of my favorite photo from any traveling I have done proved to tough, so, I tried to think of my favorite place.  I love England.  I love trees.  The woodlands in the South of England are so beautiful, so comforting in a Winnie the Pooh sort of way (quite literally) I ended up with this shot.  Near where my family are from in Hampshire, the bluebells explode over the forest floor each Spring.  It’s like a Fairyland.  It really is this pretty!  Amazing on a small island that has been populated for so many hundreds of years, that so much Nature manages to not only survive, but thrive.  So, my favorite travel photo is of my Spiritual Home.

The Bluebell Woods

Entry # 4

“Phewa Lake” by Becky K.

This photo was taken last year at a lake outside of Pokhara, Nepal.

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Phewa Lake

Entry #5

“Surfer’s Paradise” by Tonya Z.

This is a photo of myself at Surfer’s Paradise.  That day was awesome!

Surfer's Paradise

Surfer’s Paradise

 Entry #6

“Dutch Windmill, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands” by Veronica

This photo was taken in Alphen aan den Rijn in The Netherlands in December 2012. We were living there at the time and I was riding around on my bike with my new camera trying to catch pictures of pure Dutch-ness. I think this picture qualifies. I hope you like it too.

Dutch Windmill

Entry #7

“Sand and Salt” by Cassie C.

Here in the endless miles of sand and salt by Wendover, Utah, is where hundreds of kids have grown. Civil Air Patrol Cadets come out to the Great Salt Flats and learn from each other about true leadership and followership. These endless miles make the cadets rely on each other to truly excel.
Sand and Salt

Sand and Salt

Entry #8

“La Laguna De San Carolos, Panama” by Erin C.

This is a picture of La Laguna De San Carolos, Panama in 2013.

La Laguna De San Carolos, Panama 2013

La Laguna De San Carolos, Panama 2013

Entry #9

“Parents in Redwoods” by Kerri C.

Picture of my parents walking hand and hand in the Redwoods at Lady Bird Johnson State Park in CA.

Parents in Redwoods

Parents in Redwoods

Entry #10

“Near Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico” by Wendy M.

I had never been to New Mexico before. My friend that I was visiting graciously drove me around half the state, so I could take it all in. She stopped at my every whim, so I could take photos and this is probably one of the best from that trip. Absolutely stunning scenery!

Near Ghost Ranch

Near Ghost Ranch

Entry #11

“Hórreo and Roses Along the Camino de Santiago” by Wendy S.

Very hard to pick a favorite, because so many of my beloved photos are small details that are great because of the stories they tell…but on first glance might not make someone else think “travel.” So, we’ll go with this one.  I took it while walking the Camino de Santiago with a group of teenage pilgrims. Hórreos are used for grain storage, and are a common sight in Galicia. What makes this one uncommon are the roses and ivy.

Hórreo and roses along the Camino de Santiago

Entry #12

“Silver Falls, Oregon” by Eli F.

This picture is of Silver Falls in Oregon.

Silver Creek Falls

Silver Creek Falls, Oregon

Entry #13

“Sad Hill Cemetery” by Chris D. 

This picture shows the area around Carazo, in northern Spain.  The final, climactic scene of the movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was filmed here.  They converted a cow pasture into a graveyard featuring several thousand burial mounds with a large stone circle in the middle.

48 years later, the grave markers are long gone, but the burial mounds are still there.  They appear as a series of concentric rings in the photo.
Sad Hill Cemetery

Sad Hill Cemetery

Entry #14

“Bourbon St.” by Steven S. 

One of the local characters on Bourbon St. having some interactions with some bar staff.

Bourbon St.

Bourbon St.