Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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Home Home on the Range

Monday, July 15th, 2013

…where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day!

Herein describes our just completed Amazing Journeys tour of the National Parks of Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons. Nary a white puffy cloud in the sky….an abundance wildlife grazing on the open range….a landscape to make you want to just sit and stare….adventures in hiking and river rafting that exceeded all expecations…and a terrific group of travelers who all made this trip an everlasting memory.

Nature lovers were in their Garden of Eden on this tour.  There are few places on earth that conjure up the bountiful beauty of the open ranges in Wyoming and Montana.  Life in these parts are quite different than the concrete jungles of the highly populated, fast-paced deadline-oriented Big City USA, and an experience that gives one thought for a different way of spending their days.  One cannot help but to stop and watch a grazing bison or take a photo of a snow capped mountain in July.  To hike along The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is not too unlike that of the more familiar natural wonder in Arizona. For some, a bucket list experienced was checked off when Old Faithful erupted “right on time”.  To all, the compilation of a great group, fun times and a majestic landscape provided a week’s getaway that calls for more. (Can you say “Alaska”????)

But no rest for the weary as Amazing Journeys heads off for Italy and Croatia in just a day.  Sixty-four strong, we are soon to embark on a journey through Venice, Rome, Sicily and Naples as well as Dubrovnik, Split and even Montenegro.  Not quite the open ranges of Yellowstone but a treat of culture, history and culinary indulgences that will capture everyone’s sense of travel.  If, however, you covet a gem of Mother Nature, the aformentioned Alaska calls.   Amazing Journeys heads to Alaska in August and yes, you can too.  Give us a call and we’ll tell you more.

Alaska – a paradise of another kind

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

When one thinks of a vacation paradise, the mind tends to conjure up images of a beach in Aruba or a sunset in Hawaii.  A real paradise is something that doesn’t exist in the tangible world; rather it is a meaning that humans give to something that brings peace, tranquility, serenity and beauty to their lives.  Alaska is, by that definition, the quintessential paradise of the highest extremes. By winter, the cold and ice and landscape combine to create images that can’t be described in words alone.  By summer, the adventures, wildlife and seasonal brevity lure people in for 3 months to catch a glimpse of its majesty.

Alaska as a destination is an adventure of the mind, body and soul.  Each season in Alaska is an unusual, profound, memorable and unpredictable experience in its own right.  There is no wrong time to visit Alaska.  Just ask a native.  Just ask yours truly who has been there in the summer, spring and yes, even the winter.  Just ask anyone with a true sense of adventure who has chosen to go where so few have gone…when so few have gone.

Alaska is a blessed place and one where you need go…..and go again, if you’ve already been.  If you haven’t been, go. Go this summer! (Come with Amazing Journeys!! http://amazingjourneys.net/trip/cruise-alaska-2013) If you have been, you really do need to go again; you’ve only seen “the tip of the iceberg” and there’s SO much more to see and do.  There are many many bucket list experiences that you can indulge in – white water rafting down a glacial river, bear watching along a fishing stream, hiking on a glacier via helicopter, biking an a national forest….and so much more.  And that’s in the summer!   In the winter you can go snowshoeing in a national park, dogsledding in the wilderness, Auroroa Borealis (Northern Lights) gazing in all its glory, party with the locals during the Iditarod festivities….and you get to meet some of the most interesting people in all the world.

Above all else, the experiences and memories that an Alaskan journey leaves behind is a place on the planet that touches your soul.  Between the bucket list checklist and the unpredictable wildlife and deeply rooted culture and the vast uncharted landscape…..you know that you have been in a paradise of unparallelled proportions.  Alaska is Mother Nature’s Showcase.   Come! or…Come back again!

 

Tales From the Alaska Trails (if a picture is worth a thousand words, then these memories from our latest AJ is worth millions!)

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Alaska in just a few words…

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The word “Alaska” conjures up many thoughts to many people.  To the uninformed it can mean “eskimo”, “snow”, “ice” and “wilderness”.  To the couch potato, it probably means something like “Deadliest Catch” or “Sarah Palin”.   To the adventurer, it means “exploration”, “extreme”, “uncharted” and “vast”.  For the true Alaska enthusiast, however, the best words to use can only be emitted after you actually experience it. 

There are many general terms that are used to promote the idea of Alaska: “Mother Nature’s Showcase” and “The Last Frontier”are common catchphrases aimed at capturing an immeasurable amount of beauty, nature and charm in just a few words.  We like to use the words “amazing” (for obvious reasons), “majestic”, “uncharted” and “unpredictable”.

No matter what words one can use to describe what Alaska is, or means to them, the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is the only just way to express how special our 49th state really is. That is, short of going there and seeing for yourself.

So, without further adieu….a thousand words:

  Want to see this for yourself?  Join Amazing Journeys on our 14th Annual Jewish Singles Alaska Cruise/Tour: June 29-July 6th!

Traveling Single; A Fast & Furious Growth in the Travel Industry

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

After a long and committed relationship with couples and families, the travel industry is hitting the singles scene full force. There is a growing number of companies exclusively catering to unattached travelers organizing journeys that mix high-end vacationing with coed bonding. Many of these outfits are going beyond the old lonely hearts Carnival booze cruise, rolling out extended excursions to both nearby US National Parks and far-flung locales like Asia, Australia, South America and even Spitsbergen, Norway. 

According to the latest census, nearly half of all adult Americans are unmarried. With young people waiting till later in life to settle down and with more boomers retiring and getting their second wind, the travel industry has a lot of potential single clients. Research has found that 26 percent of leisure travelers took at least one trip by themselves last year. So while many others in the business are just starting to recover from the recession, solo-specific tour operators are reporting two or three times as many 2011 bookings as the industry overall.

Of course, going solo isn’t without its quirks. To begin with, singles-only companies sometimes avoid the single supplement by matching travelers with roommates, a delicate procedure. Then there’s the age factor: Since these trips draw nearly all ages, age-specific trips can lend itself to some people who miss the spectrum to feel left out….yet if a trip is open to too wide an age range it can tend to be too diverse for an interest group.

And women hoping to be surrounded by travel-loving men may be disappointed to discover that the clientele skews so heavily female that a few companies even reserve “emergency” spots for men. 

If you’re already humming the theme to The Love Boat, you’re not far off; while Julie and Gopher may not have been aboard, most early singles tours were cruises. Singles cruises today are no longer limited to just romantic Caribbean getaways.  Quite the contrary as experienced cruisers “outgrow” the fun in the sun idea in lieu of more destination-oriented endeavors.  Indeed, ocean-faring trips are still popular and becoming even more broad with cruising opportunties that not only include Europe, Alaska and Southeast Asia, but unique cruising experiences to far away places like Antarctica, Galapagos Islands and The Amazon.

Still, the singles-travel market now looks much like the general travel industry, with its constant stream of new and more unusual trips designed to appeal to experienced travelers. But no matter how much these companies tout their travel bona fides and stress that they’re not dating services, they say vacationers only care about one thing: more than where they are going, a recent survey showed that they want to know who else is going.

Despite even exotic destinations, it’s really the social side of the trips that has prompts many to sign up again and again.The preponderance of repeat bookers, though, can be intimidating to travelers who show up without knowing a soul. Travelers also report that the trips sometimes develop their own cliques, and even the companies admit that there are often one or two people who need a lot of help being eased into the group. Amazing Journeys, for example works diligently to “cater to the solo traveler”- expressing to first time travelers that everyone traveled with us for the first time once.  By nourishing the lasting value of repeat business while cultivating and catering to first time travelers, Amazing Journeys has had exceptional results in blending the two sources into each and every successful trip.

An Unofficial List of Amazing Journeys’ Top 10 Lifetime Experiences

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Having traveled to all 7 continents with thousands of travelers over the course of 20 years in the biz, we have been privy to so many amazing life experiences for so many amazing people. While some prefer adventure to fulfill their bucket lists (jumping off the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand), other prefer seeing famous landmarks (The Sydney Opera House). While some are in search of elusive wildlife (spotting a cheetah in Tanzania) others are thrilled to simply experience a paradise (snorkeling in French Polynesia).
Whatever the destination, we live in a world chock full of so many incredible, sometimes life-changing places to see, do and experience. Its why we do what we do–giving folks an opportunity to experience places once only read about in books or seen on television is something we are passionate about.
As a group of “wandering” Jews, we not only crave the next adventurous pursuit…we have strong opinions about how we do it. Feedback is an important component for Amazing Journeys in meeting the needs and understanding the interests of our clients. Through this feedback, we not only learn how to better meet these needs, we learn just how our jobs change lives of people. As our tagline says “Vacations That Change Your Life”.
In light of this premise, check out our Top Ten List of Lifetime Experiences that so many our passengers have shared with us; that have changed their lives. And ours too!
10. Zip Lining above the treetops in a cloud forest…in Costa Rica!
9. Witnessing the birth of a baby buffalo on safari…in Botswana!
8. After a day of waddling with thousands of penguins, having a whale swim so close to our ship that we could almost reach out and pet her…in Antarctica!
7. Cuddling a koala in our arms the same day we snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef…in Australia!
6. Traveling about as far from home as humanly possible and finally arriving at the Taj Mahal….in India!
5. Actually standing on and seeing the endless structure (over 4000 miles long) of The Great Wall….in China!
4. Watching all the pageantry culminated by seating at the famous Samba Parade during Carnaval….in Rio de Janeiro!
3. Physically exploring the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels – a labyrinth of underground survival strategies used by the Viet Cong during the war….in Vietnam!
2. Arriving atop the ancient, hard-to-truly-grasp preserved landscape of Machu Piccu….in Peru!
1. Mushing on a dog sled atop a glacier after the most scenic helicopter ride imaginable….in Alaska!
Now this is by no means a complete and final list. Some honorable AJ-Mentions include visiting The Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia, cruising around Cape Horn-the southern tip of South America, living in scenery that looks like a painted picture in the Canadian Rockies, and hiking in the US national parks. There are so many other life experiences shared by our passengers and you too can experience a few yourself. Check out what AJ has in store for 2012 by visiting our website www.amazingjourneys.net or calling us at 412-571-0220.

Ia Orana (“yo-rah-nah”)

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Ia Orana is a proper greeting (“Hello” or “Welcome”) in the Tahitian language.  This week 36 AJers will will say Ia Orana to each other, and to Tahiti as we embark on an 11-night journey to French Polynesia.  Perfect weather is an understatement as balmy days turn into moonlit nights, and where tropical breezes blow while brightly colored fish swim just below the surface of clear turquoise waters. 

The pampering begins with two nights at an incredible resort in Tahiti followed by a seven night cruise aboard the luxury ship, Paul Gauguin. Built specifically for French Polynesia, this intimate voyage will glide our group of honorary Jewish single Tahitians through some of the most remote islands of the world.  Some of these islands you may have heard of: Tahiti and Bora Bora seems to be familiar to many.  But there are 118 islands-about 50 of which are inhabited-that make up French Polynesia.  Our journey will also take us to the tiny but pristine islands of Moorea (More-aya), Raiatea (Ry-a-taya) and Taha’a (pronounced exactly how it looks).

The ship is equipped with an array of unique features such as a drop-down watersports marina where passengers will enjoy complimentary kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing and waterskiing.  On board, unlimited complimentary drinks, three exquisite restaurants, Polynesian entertainment and a ratio of one crew member to every two guests will translate into one huge Ia Orana (“Welcome”) and memories to last a lifetime. The word ‘vacation’ cannot be more clearly defined than what is in store in French Polynesia. 

To share in the tranquility of these unique islands our new friends will travel from four countries to be a part of this amazing journey: US, Canada, Australia and England.  Stay tuned to our Amazing Journeys facebook  (www.facebook.com/AmazingJourneys) page over the next 2+ weeks for a front row seat on our adventures. 

And then…don’t be left out in the cold yourself.  Why not consider joining us on one of our next upcoming Amazing Journeys:  Spain, China, West Coast Cruise, India, Music Cities of the South, New Year’s Caribbean Cruise, Alaska…and lots more.   Visit: www.amazingjourneys.net  

Vacations That Change Your Life

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Over the past 20 years, (the last 11 years under the name Amazing Journeys) we have taken over 6000 passengers across seven continents to places once only dreamed of .   We tag our Amazing Journeys with “vacations that change your life” and there’s a reason we do so.

Together we’ve gone jetboating in New Zealand, hot-air ballooning in Australia, dog sledding in Alaska, snorkeling in the Caribbean, zip lining in Costa Rica, parading at Carnaval in Rio, biking in Europe, off-roading in Iceland and even swimming in Antarctica! 

We’ve seen the Statue of David, the Sydney Opera House, the massive Alaskan glaciers, the Aurora Borealis, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Grand Canal in Venice and The Grand Canyon itself. 

We’ve been kissed by dolphins, cuddled by koalas, snorkeled with sea lions, swam with the stingrays, witnessed the birth of a buffalo and waddled with penguins. And….we’ve been the venue for the introduction of over 100 “happily ever after” individuals who, for obvious reasons, won’t be seen on an upcoming Jewish singles Amazing Journey.

Check out some of these life changing experiences we have provided and shared with our Amazing travelers. If you are one of the lucky one’s who have ‘been there, done that’ then you can attest to the life changing experiences we offer to our travelers and we invite you to come back for more. If you are one of our readers and followers and facebook friends who have yet to travel with us…what are you waiting for?  Life is too short to stay home. Get out there with us and experience what it’s like to have, by true definition, an Amazing Journey.

A vacation that will change your life.

Top 5 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Vacation

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Here at Amazing Journeys we have been company to truly amazing experiences in all parts of the world.  In 19 years of leading Jewish singles to places on all 7 continents, the thousands of travelers we have hosted will attest to remarkable experiences: from zip lining above the clouds in Costa Rica, to dog sledding on a glacier in Alaska…from witnessing the Sumba Parade in Rio during Carnival, to celebrating New Year’s in Hawaii…from riding an elephant in Thailand to marching with the penguins in Chile.

But imagine for a moment if these wonderful experiences in waiting, never happened because of one simple faux pas…one simple misjudgement, one simple moment of carelessness or one simple moment in time that could have and should been avoided.  

These five simple rules of engagement can help you maintain peace of mind in your preparations for that long awaited/long earned vacation.  Don’t let Murphy’s Law rule.  Live by the Vacationer’s Rule where thou art due leisure time away on vacation; to live carefree, to have fun, to leave your worries behind and to “vacate” your life of responsibility for a life of bliss:

1. Mind Your Passport:  Really…..don’t just assume that its where you “usually” put it, and make sure that its on your person BEFORE checking your luggage onto a cruise ship or under a motor coach (thank goodness the airlines ask for it before you check your luggage).  Case in point:  Barbara (names are being changed to protect the innocent) was sure she had her passport in her pocketbook as she checked in onto a recent cruise with Amazing Journeys. After the porters took her luggage for boarding, she realized she packed in her suitcase.  The luggage was somewhere amongst 3000 other pieces of baggage in process of being delivered to staterooms and she was denied boarding until her luggage appeared again. Lucky for her, it was before the ship set sail.

2. Lighten Up, Francis: For so many reasons, travelers need to lighten their load while traveling.  It can cost you more in checked baggage fees…the more you pack, the more you can lose if your bag gets lost….lighter luggage is greener on the planet as it uses less fuel, less manpower to haul, and less materials to wear & tear, etc.  And, it’s easier on you! Even if you have luggage assistance on your tour, somewhere along your way you will have to handle your own belongings and if its too heavy for even you to move, its too heavyCase in point:  Sharon was on her way to meet her Amazing Journeys group at JFK for a flight overseas and the start of a tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  While unloading her suitcase from the taxi, she lost her balance and trying to right herself, tweaked her lower back.  She couldn’t right herself and let alone move her luggage into the airport, she couldn’t even stand upright.  She never made it to Ecuador.

3. Make Things Right, At Home:  Have a checklist of things you need to do to get yourself ready for the trip, that not only includes actual trip preparations (buy sunscreen, pack camera, have enough underwear, etc), but preparations for your leaving and returning to home.  Buy an automatic light timer that will randomly turn a lamp on in your home throughout the days and nights, giving the impression that your home is occupied.   This is a deterrent for would-be thiefs.  Clean all your dirty dishes. Imagine the stench or mold left to grow if your kitchen has perishable food hanging around for a week. Make your bed!  Its just nice to come home to an orderly home after a long time away. The last thing you want to do is organize, clean or fix something.  And finally, if your home is going to be empty, make sure your main water supply is turned off. Case in point: Sam left for his 10 night Amazing Journey to the Med.  One of the pipes leading to his washing machine cracked while he was away causing the water to flow onto his basement floor. And flow and flow it did, flooding his basement and beyond. Because the water flowed continuously for days (he really wasn’t sure when it broke) he had so much water damage in his basement that he needed to gut it all out and basically rebuild it. NOT a fun way to come home from vacation.

4. KISS Your Vacation (Keep It Simple, Stupid): You’re on vacation finally. You’re feeling relaxed, carefree, like a kid again. Just what you wanted!  Way to go, dude!  But….you forgot one thing.  You’re not a kid anymore.  The reality check here is make sure that you have your vacation, within your physical and emotional means.  Its ok to have a few more drinks than normal, but don’t pound ’em down like you’re at a college frat party.  Do you really want to lose a day or more of your precious vacation to a hangover?  Speaking of drinking, be careful where you are drinking the water.  There are places you want to go where you won’t want to drink the water.  Do your research and ask the questions.  Montezuma’s Revenge will hurt more than a hangover and ruin more than a day. Finally, its ok to take on new adventures but do so with care.  Wear a helmet if you go bike riding or wave-running, wear sturdy shoes if you go hiking and don’t go near any of the wildlife.  Also, don’t go where you’re not supposed to. Case in point:  Phil was in Alaska with Amazing Journeys and after a full day of Whale Watching and biking, he had 30 minutes before he needed to board our ship. Not wanting to miss a single minute of seeing something he took off for an unscheduled, unsupervised and rushed hike, just so he could say he did.  He was so careless in his rushed approach to this hike that he found a secluded rock formation to hike…and then slipped, falling 10 feet into a ditch where no one could see or hear him.  His broken rib causing pain and subsequently losing his wind, he had no choice but to muster up strength to get himself out of the ditch and to the ship. All this in 30 minutes!  The end result was two days in the ship’s infirmary and an early disembarkation so he could be hospitalized.

5. Buy Travel Insurance! For all the aformentioned reasons and so many more, you need to protect your vacation investment.  From lost luggage to a delayed flight or an unexpected need to cancel due to injury or illness to you or a family member…insurance can safeguard what is a significant investment of your time and money.  If there is one thing you do to prepare for your trip beyond packing, its this. Buy insurance. Let me say it again; BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE!  Its a nominal but extraordinarily valuable addition to your vacation planning and it gives you peace of mind should anything go wrong: Case in point:  Just last week, Ethan was booked on our Bermuda Cruise out of Bayonne, NJ.  He was scheduled to fly from Columbus to JFK early in the morning on the day of the cruise, but the airports shut down due to Hurricane Irene. He had not purchased travel insurance because he was “sure nothing could wrong..I’m a healthy guy”.  Sadly he didn’t get to go on the trip and he lost all his money.  Another case in point: Sarah’s luggage came off the belt in Sydney during one of our Australia tours, with a huge gash in the side making the piece unuseable.  The airlines shrugged it off as they do, but Sarah had insurance was able to be reimbursed for a new suitcase.

SWIMMING AT THE POLES

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Granted, this is not a common thought to those of us living in a civilized modern world, but if one were to think on such a plane, one would consider the secret of survival in the Arctic Ocean to be to stay in the boat and not go in the water.  Right?

Well…given a challenge and the opportunity (and being just a li’l ol’ visitor from the aformentioned civilized world), I decided TO go in the water;  to plunge into the 38 degree Arctic Ocean from the northernmost point in the United States, Point Barrow, Alaska.  Barrow is the nearest bit of American mainland to the North Pole and when Amazing Journeys took our Jewish singles group there in 2007 after our annual Alaska cruise, we had the opportunity to join the real and official Polar Bear Club. Membership into The Polar Bear Club in Barrow is authenticated by Club member witnesses from a nearby host restaurant who accept a $15 fee for the right to freeze your butt off.  The do provide the towel, however.  They also provide authentication of such prowlness. The feat must include full submersion into the water and all successful plungers receive a certificate of authenticity and a Polar Bear Club Patch. 


For Barrow visitors, going in the water is something of a tradition, a ritual for the young at heart and the easily bored. But swimming is not Barrow’s sole attraction. There is the novelty of 24-hour light in summer and 24-hour darkness in winter. There are traditional Iñupiat Eskimo festivals—Piuraagiaqta to celebrate spring and Nalukataq for the whale harvest. There is the land itself, flat ground and subtle hills rendered treeless by the permanently frozen soil. There are Iñupiat carvings and handmade fur gloves. There are polar bears.

But we were there to see a land rarely seen by most people from the lower 48.  We were there to meet the people who are mostly isolated from the rest of the US. We were there to taste a remote culture where entertainment includes blanket tossing and whale meat festivals.  We were there to swim (well, I was)….because I could.  Although it stung like a thousand needles, inside, I felt exhilaration as I reveled in the idiocy of my actions.

Cold water swimming is not new for me.  Not anymore anyway.   It was a rare feat to submerge in the Arctic Ocean, but less than three years later, in February of 2010 I had the chance to say that I could be in rare company.  First to swim in the Arctic Ocean and now, the even colder (35 degrees) Southern Antarctic Ocean. I had two friends join me in the Barrow swim, but this time I also had two friends…who didn’t really take the word “submerge” so seriously.  Antarctica doesnt’ offer an authentication, so they got certificates too – but your’s truly took the plunge yet again. 

Sure there is no way to jump into this icy water and be manly about it (yes, we all came out screaming like little girls) – another thousand needles poking my skin….but I am now a swimmer of both poles.!

How utterly cool…in so many senses of that word!