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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Travel Trends for the Next Decade, Part 2



Last week, we explored several unique travel trends that are emerging or continue to be pertinent in the travel industry. Click here to see what you missed– transformational travel, sustainable tourism and multigenerational vacations.

This week, we’ll continue our exploration into unique travel trends…

Extraordinary Cruising
Cruise lines are getting creative as they target a new group of cruisers, known for their particular interests and expectations– millennials! One high-end cruise line, Uniworld River Cruises, offers millennial-only cruises. The ship’s onboard amenities are designed specifically to meet the needs and interests of millennials, such as rooftop morning yoga sessions, and meals inspired by street food (paired with craft beer) relevant to the destination cities on the itinerary. And once in port, excursions start later in the day so that passengers have plenty of time to sleep in after their late night “out”.

RCCL ripcord


Mainstream cruise lines are also upping their game as they build new ships with never-before-seen attractions. Norwegian Cruise Line's “Joy”, is the first ship to offer a thrilling, two-level racetrack– the first ever at sea. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) offers Flowrider surf simulators that allow participants to "bodyboard" without ever stepping off the ship. While RCCL’s “Anthem of the Seas” features RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulation experience in which participants don flight suits and goggles, and get to "fly" in a wind machine. What will they think of next? We’d like to recommend an underwater oxygen bar!

Volunteer Vacations
Travelers are increasingly choosing to spend time doing something meaningful rather than a typical vacation. Volunteer Vacations offers just that, an opportunity to give back. Travelers can choose from a variety of significant activities such as teaching in the townships of South Africa, assisting with conservation of African lions in Zimbabwe, working in hospitals or clinics in Kenya, or helping to research sea turtles in the Seychelles. Animal lovers can volunteer in the mountain forests of Northern Thailand, and work with traditional elephant rescue communities.

Seychelles turtle

Volunteer vacations are often less expensive than typical tourist packages. Sharing accommodations with other volunteers (often fully catered) can be exceedingly more affordable than spending time in hotels. This also gives volunteers the opportunity to embrace a new culture, and build life-long friendships with others who share their experience.

Extreme Trips
Adrenaline junkies are seeking extreme vacation experiences in droves. From rafting in Madagascar to dog sledding in Canada, extreme trips offer opportunities to explore remote regions and get your heart rate pumping!

Trek the seldom-visited mountains of Peru and traverse deep canyons and rivers using harnesses on cable crossings. Or, try your hand at survival skills as a castaway on an island in French Polynesia. You’ll learn life-changing skills, such as how to fish with traps and spears, and how to collect and disinfect water for drinking.

Gear-heads can test their driving skills on the switchback, winding roads of Tizi n’Tichka, the highest mountain pass in North Africa, which crosses the Atlas Mountain Range. (Can we say nerve-wracking?!)

Tizi n’Tichka


Emerging Destinations
A number of destinations that were once considered less-than-glamorous are now climbing the popularity charts. Manila, Philippines has long been merely a stopover city for travelers on their way to some of the world’s best islands. In recent years, however, its culinary scene has flourished, thanks largely to Spanish, American, and Japanese influence. In a single day you can eat pillowy pork buns in the world's oldest Chinatown, savor yakiniku at bare-bones Japanese restaurants in Little Tokyo, crunch on chicharrón in Quezon City, and enjoy plates of Persian food in Mandaluyong.

Another emerging travel destination is Stepantsminda, Caucasus Mountains, Georgia (the country). Stepantsminda attracts hikers looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of crowded mountain trails in the Alps. After decades spent out-of-sight and out-of-mind for most travelers, the ancient villages and soaring summits provide miles of scenic hiking, often without encountering another soul.

If tropical destinations are your preferred travel choice, St. Lucia, an island in the Eastern Caribbean, ranks in the top 30 emerging destinations for 2017-2018. Don’t miss the opportunity to take in the spectacular landscape, hike the Piton Mountains, or Sea TREK in the warm waters off Pigeon Island. 

Sea TREK St Lucia

Did we miss a travel trend? Or would you like to start your own travel trend? Send us your ideas by commenting below.







Terrie Carrozzella is the Web Designer & Social Media Manager for Sub Sea Systems. Want to contact Terrie about Sea TREK helmet diving, Clear Lounge underwater oxygen bar, or FunCat electric catamarans? Email her here!terrie@subseasystems.com


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Travel Trends for the Next Decade, Part 1


what are the travel trends

Since the onset of the Internet, travel planning has changed drastically. Online resources offer travelers many opportunities to plan their own amazing experiences. Utilizing popular travel sites like tripadvisor.com and lonelyplanet.com, travelers have the ability to not only book airfare and hotels at the best prices, they can also read reviews from fellow travelers and learn about out-of-the ordinary destinations. Travel advisers can easily learn about hot new properties, up-and-coming destinations around the globe, and unique adventures. Spending some time online can reveal travel opportunities and trends that travelers may have never discovered otherwise! Several of the emerging travel opportunities include these unique categories:

lion zimbabwe national park

Transformational Travel
One of the hottest trends is transformational travel, defined as any travel experience that empowers people to make meaningful, lasting changes in their lives. Evergreen X is the first travel company to be entirely built to support travelers in their pursuit of transformation.  Their itinerary called "Life in the Bush - An Immersion into the Communities and Conservation of Zimbabwe’s National Parks,” offers deep cultural experiences, active and remote excursions, and thought-provoking interactions.

Pure Life Experiences, a travel company focused on transformational travel, has won awards for its approach. Excursions include “Churchill Wild,” an arctic “glamping” trip, and a “Dientes Trek” through Tierra del Fuego, with virtually no trail infrastructure. Travelers seeking unique, life-changing experiences might consider going off-the-grid with a nomadic family in Morocco, or cruising Antarctica, a largely untouched continent. Tour operators, such as Peregrine Adventures, facilitate 11-day adventures that include visits to penguin rookeries, searches for humpback whales and leopard seals, and ice camping.

Bisate Lodge

Sustainable Tourism
People are more focused on “being green” than ever before. This holds true while seeking travel opportunities, too; sustainable, eco-friendly hotels continue to trend at the top. In Africa, Bisate Lodge is a sustainable camp located in Rwanda next to Volcanoes National Park (home to mountain gorillas). The park provides more than 66 acres of habitat for the critically endangered animals, and is an easy drive from the lodge. 

Costa Rica, famous for its focus on the environment and strong sustainability practices, offers a wide array of  “green” accommodations, including the popular Lapa Rios. Lapa Rios is a hotel situated alongside 1,000 acres of private reserve in a lowland tropical rainforest. It has won worldwide awards for social and environmental excellence. The hotel offers guests opportunities to discover the area’s natural beauty, and employs four full-time, experienced naturalists to ensure visitors get the most out of their experiences.
    
Yellowstone

Multigenerational Vacations
Multigenerational vacations, which are inclusive of all ages and pique all family members' interests, are more popular than ever. Forego the traditional Disney destination and try something new that will interest everyone from small kids to grandparents. Saddle up at a dude ranch, where the mature travelers can fish or line dance, while children can learn about horse care. Or, visit a US National Park, including Yellowstone or Bryce Canyon, where you can hike a trail or enjoy a unique wildlife sighting. Family campgrounds also offer a wide variety of activities that will entice all generations. You'll find lots of organized activities such as trout fishing derbies, bike-decorating parties and disc golf competitions, as well as plenty of amenities, including waterslides and mini-golf courses. 

If you’re seeking the sun, some all-inclusive resorts cater to extended families with diverse amenities and activities. Woodloch Resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, offers a daily activity schedule packed with activities ranging from knockout basketball tournaments to nightly bingo to "Family Feud"-style games. In between, plan on go-karts, zip lining, bumper car rides, pony rides, kayaking, swimming and family walks around the lake. 

Island trips also rank high in popularity for family getaways. Adults can get in their beach time while the kids can swim, play volleyball or hunt for shells. Hotel Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is an exciting new, all-inclusive, sustainable resort, designed especially with families in mind. There are special suites to accommodate families, along with kids’ and teens’ clubs with an array of fun activities. Not to mention the hotel is located on the Xcaret Park property, a world-renown eco-park, packed full of unique, memorable experiences. You can spend multiple days exploring the park– watching traditional Mayan ceremonies, snorkeling crystal clear waters, and enjoying incredible local cuisine. Check out Sea TREK– a helmet diving tour for ages 8 and older– grandkids to grandparents can stroll the ocean floor in this sensational excursion.

Xcarat sea trek


Have you ever taken a transformational trip, or stayed at a sustainable resort? Share with us below!

Next week, we'll explore extraordinary cruising, volunteer vacations, extreme trips and emerging destinations in part 2 of Travel Trends for the Next Decade.







Terrie Carrozzella is the Web Designer & Social Media Manager for Sub Sea Systems. Want to contact Terrie about Sea TREK helmet diving, Clear Lounge underwater oxygen bar, or FunCat electric catamarans? Email her here!terrie@subseasystems.com



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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hurricane Saviors



Across the US and neighboring Caribbean islands, weather watchers have been glued to their televisions, newspapers, and the internet for updates on the wild and dangerous storms pelting streets and neighborhoods. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, two of the strongest hurricanes on record, have caused extensive damage, temporary homelessness and even death. It’s difficult to view the images released across the media without feeling helpless… and perhaps a little hopeless.

However, there are stories of hope and heroism in regard to these storms. While thousands of people have been negatively impacted by these storms, there are many quiet heroes lending helping hands to those in need.  The human spirit and urge to “do something” to help victims during crises are alive and well.


Cruise ship helps flood victims

Big Business, Big Hearts

Businesses large and small have suffered the consequences of these super storms. From Mom and Pop shops, to SeaTREK operators, to major corporations, crushing winds and rising water levels have caused businesses to cease operation. However, many businesses have also stepped forward to help those in need.  Cruise lines, who have had to cancel thousands of vacations and remove ships from island ports, have come forward to offer assistance. Royal Caribbean sent its ship, “Majesty of the Seas” to pick up evacuees and take them to Puerto Rico. Norwegian Cruise Lines is utilizing their “Norwegian Sky” ship to carry much-needed supplies from Miami to St. Thomas. Carnival Cruise Lines is sending 11 ships to make 36 deliveries throughout the hard-hit island regions. Additionally, Carnival has donated $1 million to disaster relief efforts. Carnival Chairman, Micky Arison, and his wife Madeleine are also contributing $1 million from their foundation.

Large companies are stepping forward with millions of dollars to assist storm victims. Walmart has pledged up to $20 million in cash, products and matching donations, while Verizon has contributed $10 million. On Friday, tech billionaire Michael Dell pledged $36 million to relief efforts. Citgo, the petroleum company, is giving $3 million to relief efforts in Houston, while it’s competitor ConocoPhillips made a $2.5 million donation to both the Red Cross and the United Way of Greater Houston. You can learn more about large businesses and how they are helping with recovery efforts here: http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/30/news/companies/hurricane-harvey-corporate-donations/index.html

Celebrities fundraiser telethon

Celebrities Step It Up

JJ Watt, a Texans Defensive End, began a page on YouCaring, to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He initially set a $500,000 goal, which was quickly eclipsed. At this time the site has raised over $32 million, including a $100,000 donation from Watt himself. And, Houston Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander, initially pledged $4 million to relief efforts, matching the teams’ donation, but upped that to $10 million. 

Singer Edie Brickell and husband Paul Simon gave $1 million to Harvey relief efforts, focusing on the smaller towns surrounding the Houston area, medical emergencies and restoration of homes as priorities. 

Actress Kristen Bell, who is currently filming in Miami, not only organized hotel rooms for a stranded family, she also entertained seniors in a hotel by organizing bingo games and performing song and dance routines.

Former NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow stopped by several Florida shelters, offering a mental break and lifting spirits of Irma evacuees. 

Several celebs banded together and raised funds via a telethon. Houston native Beyoncé joined forces with Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, Stevie Wonder and Barbra Streisand and raised over $44 million dollars to support Harvey victims, via “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief".


People Helping People

While big businesses and well-known faces are assisting by donating time and money, others without the ability to donate financially on a large scale are making a difference in other ways.  Airbnb.com hosts are opening up their rental homes to storm victims, free of charge. 

PinecrestBakery passed out coffee to everyone waiting in line for gas at a nearby station, and provided food to National Guard police officers on duty in storm-riddled Miami. Small businesses in Denton, Texas have banded together to help victims of Harvey by collecting donations and offering free services.

Truly awe-inspiring, Sister Margaret Ann, a nun in Miami Dade, wielded her chainsaw to cut trees and clear neighborhood roadways!

Hurricane Nun chainsaw
  
Animals and Wildlife

In addition to helping human victims, animals have also benefited from relief efforts. PetSmart is donating $1 million to animal welfare agencies that have been working to rescue and relocate homeless pets in the storm-ravaged areas. These animal welfare organizations include the Houston SPCA, the SPCA of Texas, Rescue Bank, and Houston PetSet. Another way that the pet retailer is helping out during this disaster is to provide donations for pet food and supplies.

In Florida, Zoo residents were evacuated to temporary enclosures, including 250 animals that were stored safely in Key West’s city jail. And, amid the two back-to-back storms, the Humane Society of theUnited States has relocated 1,500 dogs and cats from the storm zones to various states, including as far away as New Jersey.

Individuals made amazing efforts to help animals. Betty Walter of Houston rounded up four of her own dogs, a handful of foster dogs awaiting adoption, as well as some friends’ and neighbors’ dogs into her care. As they awaited rescue, the group stowed away in her attic to avoid rising floodwaters. Walter even fashioned some makeshift stairs to get a 120-lb. Great Pyranees up to safety. The group was later evacuated by neighbors via a rescue boat. Read about Betty here.

Hurricane animal rescue


Perhaps the most famous, non-pet animal rescue so far, is of a hawk named Harvey. Harvey climbed into a taxicab to shelter from the storm — and a video of this went viral. Harvey is now being cared for by staff of the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Centerhttps://www.twrcwildlifecenter.org/, who are assessing his injuries and believe he wouldn't have survived the storm without rescue. Watch the video featuring Harvey here. 

Harvey Rescue hawk
  

You Can Be a Savior, Too!

You can help storm victims and be a hero to those who are suffering the consequences of Harvey and Irma. Check out these organizations: 

Funds:







Volunteer:Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is organizing volunteers for disaster relief.



Small gestures can make a huge difference to stressed evacuees. Share this with friends and families. Let the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma know that they are not forgotten!


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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Common questions and misconceptions about the SeaTREK experience



Kids can sea trek

SeaTREK is an amazing underwater adventure! Rated 5 stars on TripAdvisor for St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, and Lanzarote, Spain, SeaTREK helmet diving gives travelers the chance to walk underwater without any diving or swimming experience. It’s often rated a “bucket list” item for adventurers! From cruise ship passengers to aquarium visitors, SeaTREK is an attraction meant for just about everyone. In fact, since its inception in 1999, there have been nearly 3 million visitors to walk underwater via SeaTREK!

With any unique activity, there are many questions asked by potential participants. We have gathered some of these often asked questions and provided answers that will hopefully quell any misconceptions about TREKking, and answer important queries regarding everything from appropriate attire to safety concerns.

Q: What is the age limit/weight limit on SeaTREK?
A: Participants as young as 8 can SeaTREK! There is no weight limit.

Q: Do I have to know how to swim?
A: You do not need to know how to swim to TREK! Guests should be comfortable in the water, but no swimming skills are required.

Q: Does water get inside the helmet?
A: Water does not enter the helmet. You will not even get your hair wet!

Q: How deep is the water?
A: The depth varies by location. The deepest SeaTREK location operates at 30 feet (10 meters).

Q: Can I wear contact lenses or glasses?
A: Yes, you can wear prescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses during the SeaTREK tour. You remain completely dry from the shoulders up.

sea trekkers have a visit with a turtle


Q: Are there sharks?
A: We cannot guarantee that there are no sharks in the ocean. We can tell you, however, is that the chances of seeing a shark are very rare! There is a wide variety of fish and sea life for you to observe.

Q: How heavy is the helmet?
A:  The SeaTREK helmet weighs approximately 70 lbs (32 Kgs) above water, while beneath the surface the weight is about 15 lbs (7 Kgs).

Q: How can I possibly hold a 70 lb. helmet on my head?
A: You will never feel the full weight of the helmet due to the way you enter the water. Most SeaTREK locations use a ladder to enter the water. As you climb down the ladder a surface attendant lowers the helmet onto your shoulders; the weight of helmet is not fully released until you are comfortably underwater. And once underwater, the helmet only weighs 15 lbs (7 kgs).

Q: How do you stay down on the ocean floor? Won’t I just float up to the top?
A: The weight of the helmet keeps you comfortably walking on the seafloor. As long as you remain walking upright, there’s no chance of floating up!

Q: Can you do Sea TREK while pregnant?
A: Unfortunately, no. We do not recommend you try SeaTREK if you are beyond the 1st trimester of pregnancy.

Q: Do I need water shoes to do my TREK?
A: No, you do not need to bring water shoes to your TREK. Some locations require that you wear special shoes, such as dive booties or Crocs, and they will provide them for you.

Q: Do I need a diver certification?
A: No. You do not need to know how to dive or have any certification to participate.



Q: Can I bring my own camera?
A: Most tours allow you to bring your own underwater camera! You won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a sea life selfie! Some tours provide a professional photographer that will take your pictures for you, and make them available for purchase after your tour.

Q: How do I find out if SeaTREK is available at my vacation destination?
A: Visit: http://www.sea-trek.com/where-to-go/ for a map of SeaTREK locations.


Do you have more questions about SeaTREK? Visit the website, Facebook or tripadvisor.com for more information.

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