Niagara Falls Trip Report: August 2015

View from Skylon looking toward the Clifton Hill area HPIM2053 HPIM2054 View of the newer Fallsview Casino Our hotel, the Hilton Fallsview HPIM2057 HPIM2058 HPIM2059 HPIM2062 HPIM2063 HPIM2064 HPIM2066 HPIM2067 HPIM2068 HPIM2069 HPIM2070 HPIM2071 HPIM2072 HPIM2073 HPIM2074 HPIM2076 HPIM2077 HPIM2078 HPIM2079 HPIM2082 HPIM2083 HPIM2084 HPIM2085 HPIM2086 HPIM2087 HPIM2089 HPIM2090 The flower clock Birthday dessert at the Skylon
Arriving in Niagara Falls, ON:

If you are coming up from the NY area, cross over at the Peace Bridge, much shorter lines, fewer tourists use this bridge. Then take the QEW to 420. Coming back over however, we waited for 30 minutes to enter the USA. Try to stay near the middle of the pack and don’t get caught in the RV line.

Hilton Fallsview:

Hilton—no complaints at all, would not hesitate to stay here again. Be sure to join the Hilton Honors program so you can get the free WiFi and use the Hilton Honors line at the front desk. We were able to bypass a very long line upon checkout. As others have posted, be sure to ask that all VOLUNTARY taxes are removed from your bill at checkout.

We decided to not worry about trying to find the cheapest parking around, we just used the Hilton self-park for $30 per night. Quick, easy, painless, no hassle; sure beat trying to drag our luggage from the casino or some lot down the street.

We booked a room with two queen beds, but upon arrival, we asked about a king bed, and they upgraded us to a Jacuzzi suite. It had a king bed, Jacuzzi tub, shower, in room safe, coffee maker, mini fridge, hair dryer, and a great view of the falls. Our room did overlook the casino and casino parking garage, but we still had a great view of both the American and Canadian falls. Upon checkout, I noticed a $50 upgrade charge that had not been mentioned, but I thought it was well worth it considering the great room we got and chose not to argue about it.

Dining:

Skylon Tower revolving dining room. Biggest lobster tail I have seen in a long time; I had the seafood symphony and Estelle had a surf and turf (New York strip steak and smaller lobster tail). Great service, surprisingly great food for a touristy type of place. Fabulous deserts and of course the view of the falls. I made our reservation at 8pm so later during dinner we could see the falls light up at night.

We also ate at Kelsey’s on Clifton Hill. Had a great time, ate on the patio, listened to live music, had the won-ton nachos. We did not realize it is a Canadian chain of restaurants similar to Applebee’s; we would definitely go back.

We also highly recommend Coco’s near the Skylon and Fallsview Casino. Again, we dined outside on the patio, listened to live entertainment, had great wood fired pizza, and watched people walk by.

Misc:

Clifton Hill area—lots to do, especially for families with children. Reminded us of the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Sidewalks were very crowded in the evening.

WeGo bus system. Very easy to navigate. Passes for 24 hours are $7 CAD, or you can by a 48 hour pass. You cannot buy just one ride. We got our passes in our hotel gift shop.

Casinos—we learned they are owned by the same company, so if you get a player’s card, it will work at both casinos. The one in the Clifton Hill area is the older one and does not have craps. Alcoholic beverages are not comped if you are gaming like in Vegas. One afternoon at Casino Niagara we had fun listening to an Elvis impersonator.

If you plan on doing the Journey Behind the Falls or the Hornblower (same as Maid of the Mist, only it leaves from the Canadian side) take a tour which includes these attractions. You will be glad you did when you see the long lines that you get to walk right past. We used Viator and it worked out great.

Cell phone use—we had Sprint 3g or LTE the entire time with roaming turned off. WiFi free at the Hilton if you are an Honors Member but not great coverage; in the room, we sort of had to move around the room to find just the right spot to get WiFi connectivity.

General observations:

In my opinion, this area is not a honeymoon destination unless you already have a family. You must love to be around families and children everywhere if you go to Niagara Falls. If you are looking for an adult getaway, this is not it.

Use a major credit card (one that does not charge foreign transaction fees) whenever you can. You will get a much better exchange rate than paying in US dollars.

I knew I shouldn’t have let Estelle drive the barrel.

4583b

Update: Vacation Express Charter Flights From Cincinnati to Cancun

Sunwing AirlinesUpdated Fall 2013 and 2014 CVG Flight Schedule

Atlanta – May 3, 2013 ­- Vacation Express is pleased to announce the opening of its fall 2013 and 2014 schedule from Cincinnati/North Kentucky International Airport (CVG) to Cancun International Airport (CUN). Vacation Express will charter an AeroMexico aircraft B737-700, which seats 112 within coach and provides 12 First Class seats. The flight offers complimentary bar, select snacks, in-flight entertainment, headsets and one free checked bag.

For the period of October 27, 2013 to February 23, 2014, Vacation Express will operate a Sunday 6 Night Program with morning departures and afternoon returns.

From March 2, 2014 to May 11, 2014 a Sunday 7 Night Program will be offered.

Vacation Express will resume use of Sunwing Airlines May 18, 2014 to October 19, 2014; the airline which is currently operating all of the CVG charter programs.

AeroMexico is currently operating the company’s Nashville to Cancun program and will also operate the new Cancun service from New Orleans effective May 26, 2013. “Vacation Express has had a long lasting relationship with AeroMexico and I am certain the company will operate a very successful program from the CVG market starting later this fall,” says Gantt Cookson, Vice-President of Operations.

Out of the Cincinnati (CVG) market, Vacation Express currently operates a Sunday 7 Night Program through October 20, 2013. From October 27, 2013 to February 23, 2014, Vacation Express will operate a Sunday Six Night Program with flights leaving CVG around 10:45 a.m. and returning from Cancun on Saturday around 4:00 p.m.

“Our flights are scheduled at times that are still very convenient for our important drive markets from Kentucky and Indiana. Traditionally, the period of November through early March is a shoulder season from the Ohio area and the Six Night Program saves clients one night at the hotel, while still being able to maximize their beach time thus creating value priced packages,” says Kevin Hernandez, Vice-President of Sales and Digital Marketing.

Effective March 2, 2014, Vacation Express will revert back to its current Sunday Seven Night Program, operated by AeroMexico through May 11, 2014 with Sunwing Airlines resuming May 18, 2014.

Flights from Cincinnati (CVG) to Punta Cana (PUJ) are on sale now until the end of October. The winter schedule from CVG to PUJ as well as charter flights from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans are expected to be announced in the upcoming weeks.

New CVG/CUN Schedule At a Glance:

October 27, 2013 – February 23, 2014 March 2, 2014 – May 11, 2014 May 18, 2014 – October 19, 2014
AeroMexico AeroMexico Sunwing
Six Night Sunday Program with Morning Departures and Afternoon Returns Seven Night Sunday Program with Afternoon Departures and Morning Returns Seven Night Sunday Program with Afternoon Departures and Morning Returns

Vacation Express, part of Sunwing Travel Group Inc. and TUI Travel PLC has been in existence for 25 years and has sold well over 2 million vacation packages. Vacation Express offers quality vacation packages to over 30 destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica with a focus on value and client satisfaction.

Erik from Wisconsin (VW Commercial guy) Visits Mystic Mountain Ocho Rios Jamaica

Happy is a state of mind. Watch as our friend Erik Nicolaisen (VW Super Bowl Commercial) entices travelers from Wisconsin to find their happy on a Jamaican bobsled at Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios.

Thanks to Jamaica Tourist Board for sharing!

Related: Our Votes for Best Super Bowl 2013 Commercial
Related: Things to Do in Jamaica
Related: Jamaica Travel Information

Congratulations to Funjet Vacations for 39 Years!

Funjet Vacations

This week marks an important anniversary for Funjet Vacations–for 39 years, they have worked with travel agents to provide unforgettable vacation experiences to millions of customers.

Since they opened their doors, a lot has changed in the travel industry.  Other competitors are now owned by an airline, online travel agency, competing retail travel agencies, and invested in by a venture capitalist firm. Funjet Vacations remains the only large scale tour operator that is still owned and operated by the family that founded the business. Click the logo to price and book a complete vacation online!

Related: Cruises Are Wonderful, but All-Inclusive Resorts Provide Stress Free Vacations
Related: Funjet Vacations Announces Charter Flights to Jamaica From Dallas
Related: Funjet Vacations Announces 2012 Charter Flights to Jamaica from St. Louis

Cruising to Jamaica? Get a day pass to an all-inclusive resort!

Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa

Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa

Are you going on a cruise?  Is Jamaica on your itinerary?  While your ship is in port, relax and play at an all-inclusive beach resort!  For stops in Montego Bay enjoy the Sunset Beach Resort & Spa.  Cruising to the port of Ocho Rios?  Spend the day at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa for the whole family or the adults-only Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa.  Cruising to the port of Falmouth?  Enjoy your Jamaica shore excursion at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa! Cruisers can enjoy white sand beaches, sparkling pools, savory lunches, snacks, beverages, tropical drinks–all included.  Read more about it here!

Update: May 8, 2015

Bermuda Day Passes are now available for the Elbow Beach Resort! This luxurious resort & spa is named after its private half-mile stretch of beautiful, pink sand beach along the Atlantic Ocean. Come enjoy your day in port on the resort owned Elbow Beach, well known as one of Bermuda’s most beautiful beaches. A private haven for discerning travelers, Elbow Beach offers guests the opportunity to separate from the cruise ship crowds to enjoy the island’s calming sea, soothing pink-sands and golden warmth of the tropical sun.

Your Resort for a Day pass includes use of the private beach at Elbow Beach Resort, a lounge chair & umbrella and a water bottle. Resort for a Day guests have access to Mickey’s Bistro, which is Bermuda’s only bistro on the beach and offers lunch and drinks in a casual ambiance with full beach service. Click here!

Update: April 22, 2015

Bahamas Day Passes are now available for the Atlantis Aquaventure, Atlantis Dolphin Cay, and the British Colonial Hilton Resort! Click here!

Update: March 15, 2015

Jamaica all inclusive resort day passes are now available for the Grand Palladium (Montego Bay) and Jewel Paradise Cove (Ocho Rios or Falmouth)!

Update: December 12, 2012

In Jamaica, Resort For a Day passes are now offered to the Jewel Runaway Bay Resort in addition to the Jewel Dunn’s River Resort (Ocho Rios, adults only).

Update: May 24, 2012

I have participated in online webinars by Stuart, the owner of Resort For a Day, and learned a lot more about this unique product. I have been on many Caribbean cruises, and I sure wish the Resort for a Day program had been available to me. Additional properties and islands have been added:

Jamaica: new port of Falmouth now available (Hilton Rose Hall & Spa); also the adults only Jewel Dunn’s River
Grand Cayman: Westin Casurina Resort and Spa on Seven Mile Beach (but not all inclusive)
Barbados: three resorts to choose from (two are not all inclusive), the Almond Casurina is all inclusive
Nassau: Paradise Island Harbour Resort
Freeport: Viva Wyndham
Cozumel: El Cid Resort or Cozumel Palace
Roatan: Club Natale Bay Villas (New)

Some bullet points I learned about this program:
• Resort for a Day is not affiliated with the cruise lines
• Forms of payment accepted: Credit Cards and PayPal
• Full refund if your ship misses the port
• Can cancel up to 11 days prior
• Your admission to the property is reserved and guaranteed, because some resorts place a limit on the number of day passes available to cruise ship passengers.
• The island properties are NOT time shares—you will be treated as a resort guest
• Jamaica: transfers included
• Nassau: transfers not included
• Freeport: transfers included
• Grand Cayman: no food and drink included, but includes beach chair/umbrella and even a room at the Westin Casurina resort, where you can shower and relax! The resort pass is for up to four guests.
• Kids under 3 free

These day passes are as low as $69 per adult, and in many cases, INCLUDE TRANSFERS from the ship to the resort! How many shore excursions offered by the cruise lines are under $70 and include all your food and drink? Read more about it here!

Related: Cruising to Jamaica, Nassau, Grand Cayman, St. Lucia, Antiqua, or Barbados?  Get a Day Pass to an All Inclusive Resort

Carnival to Expand “Deck Chair Hog” Program Fleet-Wide

Pool chairs

Way to go Carnival!  Great program!  Yet another reason we love Carnival Cruises here at Island Time Travel.

Don’t you hate it when cruise passengers reserve deck chairs by placing towels or books on them, and then they disappear for hours at time?  Under Carnival’s new program, the ship’s crew will keep an eye on deck chairs.  If they see a chair unused, but saved with items, they will place a sticker on the chair with the current time. If the chair is still reserved and unoccupied 40 minutes later, the crew will remove the articles for safekeeping at the towel station, leaving a note for the guest.

Thanks to Travel Pulse News for this article.  Read the whole article below.

Carnival to Expand “Deck Chair Hog” Program Fleet-Wide

Related: Carnival Breeze joins the Carnival Cruise Lines fleets
Related: New Carnival Breeze to Debut Sushi Restaurant, Outdoor BBQ Venue
Related: All inclusive alcohol on cruises?