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See the Best of Hawaii: Travel Opinion and Analysis

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A string of islands melting into deep blue Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the American state which takes a little more effort to reach, but is more than worth it. Indeed, choosing between islands like lively Oahu or the escapist’s dream Lanai has meant that plenty of visitors now opt for the variety afforded by Hawaii cruises as a way of seeing the best of them all.

Playing host to the state capital and much of the native population, Oahu often receives most of the attention, perhaps deservedly so. Add on a few extra days for some partying in Honolulu, make the most of Waikiki beach or see the surfers carving up the North Shore. Cruise lines offer excursions or overnight stays on the main islands so you can explore places like Pearl Harbor or see the famous Diamond Head crater up-close.

Though the islands are close enough together to spend more time on shore than at sea, every port is unique. The largest of the islands is known as the Big Island and is home to black-sand beaches, Mauna Kea, the biggest mountain on Earth and more climate zones than should be possible. Cruise vessels often make port at Hilo and itineraries include the unmissable Volcanoes National Park.

While Kauai is a slice of instant calm, with its preserved natural landscape and ‘Coconut Coast’, Maui is home to sleek seaside towns like Lahaina and unique whale-watching trips. Expert drivers can be provided for those who want to disembark for a nature tour here, while more specific interests are also catered for: golf-fans will have their pick of 14 world-class courses.

Lanai, Photo taken by My VR

Smallest of all, Lanai is where to head if you’re looking for a different experience. With scenery that boasts names like ‘Garden of the Gods’, a few laid-back towns and a complete absence of traffic lights, this is the romantic Hawaii of sunsets and swaying palms. Though not all cruises stop here, this is the perfect excuse to take a time out after your trip, perhaps leaving the ship at Maui and catching the ferry over for a few days of quality time.

Na Pali, photo taken by Barry Ferg

The variety and convenience are only some of the advantages to making your Hawaii holiday a cruise. Parts of the dramatic coastline like Na Pali on Kauai are especially spectacular when viewed from the sea and with optional shore excursions from Luau dances to exploring the lava caves on the Big Island, you can cater to exactly what you want.

Given the chance to hop from island to island in just a few days, without even having to change hotel, it’s easy to see why so many opt to travel by sea. Strolling the impeccable shores, gazing at tumbling waterfalls or pushing through rain forests  however you explore this diverse archipelago, Hawaii leaves an impression that’s unlikely to rub off.

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Barcelona, the top-3 ‘MICE’ tourism destination of the world

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Barcelona MICE TOurism

Corporative tourism —also known as ‘MICE’ tourism mobilized around 18,000 million euros in 2016 in Spain. According to the Spanish Convention Bureau, the number of events, conventions and meetings in Spain has increased by 16%, while the MICE sector worldwide will grow by more than 5% in the next years. The country ranks 13th worldwide in a market led by China and the US, but Barcelona and Madrid are in the Top 10 of the favorite European cities to organize congresses and events.

What is MICE tourism?

The acronym MICE stands for meetings, incentives, conferencing & exhibitions. It is a niche area of tourism that is focused around the planning and booking of groups for large events, conferences or seminar. A top class MICE event organised to showcase your products, build new client relationships, host a company event or to reward your employees for their hard work is an investment and usually it’s one to remember.

The players in the MICE field include corporate meeting planners, meetings and convention departments of hotels, conference centers or cruise ships, food and beverage managers, logistics firms, private tour operators and transfer companies, incentive houses, professional trade organizations, tourism boards, tourism trade associations, and travel-selling professionals. Destinations often market themselves as MICE locations and bid for events through their convention and visitor bureaus. They might be able to offer subsidies to attract large events because of the increased revenue the visitors provide through their economic impact on the host location.

Barcelona, ​​the best city in Spain to celebrate events and conferences

The good position of Barcelona as a destination of congresses and meetings is increasingly more evident and, recently, the Catalan capital has been placed in third position in the prestigious world ranking drawn up by the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) to establish which are the most relevant cities and states in MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), and it is placed ahead of other very important destinations in the sector such as Vienna or London. The Catalan city was hot on the heels of the first two in the ranking —Berlin and Paris — and acts as a pole of attraction to boost the organisation of events all over Catalonia.

The offering to organize events and congresses in the city is wide thanks to the presence of companies such as Eventos Barcelona, an event management agency in Barcelona specializing in artistic and technical production of events for companies, meetings, incentive travels, conventions or gala dinners.

During 2017, Barcelona hosted 2,134 congresses and conventions —10.5% more than in 2016. More than 675,000 delegates participated in these events, and their economic impact in the city is estimated at 1,850€. Throughout 2017, Barcelona obtained the best results since it entered in the MICE tourism industry, increasing its benefits 21% more than the previous year, as reported by the Turisme de Barcelona consortium. The last six months were a little weaker due to the effects of the attack of August 17th and the independence mobilizations of October 1st, but thanks to the entrance of the summer season the city has returned againt to the highest level.

‘Bleisure’and gastronomy, the key to success in MICE tourism

‘Bleisure’ is the buzzword in corporate tourism. Its name mixes the B of business with the word pleasure —that is, combining business trips with pleasure tourism. Therefore, many events are organized in local destinations and non-conventional spaces. The salons and conventional spaces lose importance against of unusual spaces, which are also more profitable because visitors can enjoy a wider leisure offer (such as spas, cursos de coctelería, showcookings) and team building activities, combining both work and fun in an entertaining and relevant way.

Nowadays, congresses and events want to offer a more friendly, funnier face than the pompous and rigid meetings of yesteryear. The idea is to personalize the experience of a congress with the emotional connection of each assistant thanks to the flexible and dynamic spaces. This emotional connection is achieved by taking care of the details, which is valued above all in the younger generations. Interactive and collaborative activities, non-traditional speakers and sessions with a spirit of commitment rather than instructive are the booming formats.

Gastronomy is another distinguishing factor for MICE events’ success. The youngest attendants to these events –mostly workers under 40 appreciate that the culinary proposals of the events include healthy alternatives, fresh food, fruits and foods that provide energy, instead of unnecessary huge meals full of empty calories. Also, mixing the gastronomic experiences and technology is very helpful. Incorporating innovative cuisine techniques and exotic foods with creative, very ‘instagramable’ preparations, are all a synonym of success. Once again, new technologies provide another guideline on how to succeed in these events.

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Discover natural wonders found nowhere else in the world with a Galapagos Island cruise

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Galapagos Island cruise

If the Galapagos Islands are not on your bucket list yet, then they should be. This unique and beautiful place is home to amazing creatures and scenery you will not find anywhere else on the planet.

And there is really only one way to truly experience the wonder of it all – from the sea. Only that way can you discover all there is to fall in love with.

Experience a real island paradise

Situated around 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, this magnificent archipelago of 19 islands, and many more small islets, is also known as the Enchanted Islands. And for good reason.

Each island is unique and beautiful in it’s own way, whether it has stunning white sandy beaches or dark, forbidding and barren volcanic rocks. Add this to the sapphire blue waters surrounding them, and the abundance of wildlife, and this is something that every visitor will remember for the rest of their lives.

There is nothing else like it, and Galapagos island cruises are just the thing to see it all in it’s full glory, where travellers can enjoy the majesty, the sounds of nature and experience the intimacy of such a special location, with a specialist guide and every need catered for.

It is best to travel at night, making the most of the epic night sky as you have never seen it before, and using the day time to explore the different islands and what they have to offer.

Get up close and personal with nature

The Galapagos Islands themselves, and the surrounded marine reserve, are a perfect melting pot of marine species. Ideally located at the confluence of three ocean currents, with islands created through ongoing volcanic activity, it has allowed flora and fauna to develop in such a way that is simply unique to this area.

It has been called a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ due to the species thriving there. So much so, that when Charles Darwin arrived on his ship The Beagle, the things he saw later led to his development of the theory of evolution.

Add all of this to the extreme isolation of the islands, and a lack of natural predators, the wildlife has little fear of inquisitive visitors and are just as likely to observe you as you are them.

Playful sea lions and gigantic and majestic sea tortoises allow humans to get up close is a way you will not find anywhere else. If you have not booked your visit yet, what are you waiting for, a Galapagos cruises last minute trip is one you will never regret.

Check out each island and it’s amazing uniqueness

Each island has its own features and persona.  Take for example Santa Cruz island, which hosts the largest city, Ayora. Here you can visit the Darwin centre and see where the turtles and iguanas come to breed.

Then there is Isabela island – the largest in the archipelago. Formed from five volcanoes, and still active, reaching as high as 1,700 feet, this island is a landscape  of petrified lava, and home to flocks of flamingos and giant tortoises.

Fernandina island is also an active volcano, but you are able to set foot on the island at Punta Espinosa to see many thousands of marine black iguanas warming themselves on the rocks in the sunshine, and red crabs moving about the rock.

Then on the islands with beaches, such as Rabida Island, you get the rare chance to see sea lions in their own habitat, playing with their young, and relaxing.

And this is only a tiny fraction of the things you can see in this beautiful place. Description does not do it justice, it has to be seen and felt to truly appreciate this inspirational location.

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When is the Best Time to Vacation in the French Riviera?

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While many people are happy to go on vacation at a particular time of the year, there are some locations where the weather is so hot tourists are advised to stay away during the summer season. Other locations are too cold during the winter months, whereas some offer visitors the very best at that time of year. So if you’re determined to trawl through some french riviera vacation rentals lists so you can stay in this lovely part of the world, how do you know you’ll be visiting this location at the best time of the year? It’s easy, just read on for more information:

One of the very best times to visit the beautiful French Riviera is at any time. That’s right, there is no specific month that offers you so much more than any other month. Every season and every month within each of the seasons offers something wonderful. Of course, the range of activities that are on offer from month to month will vary with the seasons, but there is always a lot to do in this part of the world.

The French Riviera in:

January

In January, the temperatures tend to be as low as 8° Celsius, meaning you’re unlikely to be able to sun yourself on the beach. However, this time of year is great for anyone who loves to head to the ski slopes and brush up on their skills. This means if you’re an avid ski-fan, you should think about heading to the French Riviera in January.

At this time of year, you’re unlikely to see much nightlife, however, if you insist on partying you should think about heading to Monaco as the International Circus Festival takes place and is not to be missed!

February

Fête du Citron French riviera

Fête du Citron – Image by Leona Lorraine flickr/[email protected]

During the month of February, temperatures tend to be around 9° Celsius, just slightly warmer than the previous month. This is also when the tourist season starts, meaning many hotels will open their doors once more after a bit of a break. February happens to be the month when the Carnival of Nice and the Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) takes place.

March

In March, temperatures rise a few degrees, and you can expect to see them rise to 11° Celsius. While it might not be warm enough to head to the beach and swim in the sea, if you’re a lover of all-things skiing, this is the best time of year to visit. You may also want to head to this part of the world in March as the Paris-Nice bicycle race takes place, as does the Festin des Cougourdons, which is worth seeing. So book your villa and enjoy the start of spring.

April

Temperatures in April can be as high as 12° Celsius, making it feel a little more like spring. Although you may be tempted to visit the French Riviera at this time of year, you should be aware that the area does get pretty busy during the Easter holidays. If you insist on coming here in April, you may want to pay a visit to the Honey Festival that takes place on the last Sunday in the month in Mouans-Sartoux.

May

In May, the average temperature is around 16° Celsius, making it one of the better months to visit this part of the world. You may want to be aware that in May there are quite a few national holidays which means traffic tends to get quite busy. May is also the month when the Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in Monte Carlo, so you may want to avoid Monte Carlo during May if you’re not a fan of racing. However, if you love film festivals then you’re in for a real treat as the Cannes Film Festival takes place during this month. If you want to do a spot of movie star spotting, Cannes is the place to be.

June

With temperatures as high as 20° Celsius, the first signs of summer are seen. Beaches in the French Riviera start to get a little busier as the sea’s temperature rises, and the sun beats down quite strongly. This could be a really good month for you to book your villa as the French aren’t officially on their summer vacation just yet.

July

In July, the average temperature is around 23° Celsius, and the whole of the French Riviera seems to be partying. The Nice Jazz Festival takes places in July, as does the Cannes Nuits Musicales du Suquet. In fact, there are quite a few musical events taking place this month. One festival that you simply cannot miss is the International Festival of Fireworks which is located in Monaco.

August

During the month of August, you can expect temperatures of 23° Celsius, even though it can feel quite a bit warmer. There is a national holiday on the 15th of August, but once that’s over and done with you should expect the area to be less crowded. This means you’ll have plenty of room to sun yourself on the beaches, and you may even want to head to Les Nuits du Sud in Vence, a fantastic music festival.

September

September is the month when temperatures start to fall. During this month, you should expect to see an average temperature of 21° Celsius. The good news is it’s still beach weather, despite it not feeling quite as warm. Head to Cannes if you get the chance so you can visit the Boat and Yacht Show. You may also want to find out when the Journees du Patrimoine takes place as national and local monuments are open to members of the public during one weekend this month.

October

In October, temperatures can be as low as 16° Celsius, and this month can be quite wet, but this isn’t always the case. The good news is there are some excellent festivals taking place in October, such as the boat race in Saint Tropez, and a fair in Vence.

November

During the month of November, you should see temperatures reaching just 12° Celsius, which means the beaches are usually pretty quiet. However, the local bars and nightclubs tend to be very busy, and the International Dance Festival takes place in Cannes, making everyone want to go out and dance a little more. If you’re in Monaco on the 19th, you may want to stick around for the celebrations as this day is Monaco National Day.

December

With temperatures as low as 10° Celsius, many locals hotels start to close for the Christmas holidays. The good news is that visitors to the area have the chance to enjoy local Christmas markets, buying souvenirs and presents to take home.

As you can see, the French Riviera is the ideal place to visit any time of the year, so make sure you book a place to stay during your chosen month and get ready to have a great time in this stunning part of the world.

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