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.

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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

Whopping winter storm nearly in Sandy’s path

Hurricane

Photo credit: NBC News

Sharing this story from CNN about a potentially historic winter storm closing in on New England. The storm has canceled thousands of flights and could bring 2 feet of snow.

Read the full article here: Whopping winter storm nearly in Sandy’s path

Another related article: Super Snowstorms Cancel Thousands of Flights

Yet another reason why you must never travel without travel insurance!

Related: How Important is Travel Insurance?
Related: Is Travel Insurance a Smart Bet for Your Vacation?

Windjammer Cruises…Are You Confused?

Island Windjammers Diamant

Island Windjammers Diamant
Photo Credit: Island Windjammers

Many cruisers continue to be confused by the different sailing ship options with “windjammer” in the title.  Hope this summary helps:

Cruise Line: Island Windjammers

Ships: Diamant, Sagitta

Itinerary (Diamant): Grenada and Windward Islands (Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Bequia, Union Island, Carriacou)
Itinerary (Sagitta): St. Maarten and the Leeward Islands (St. Barts, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Anguilla)

Island Windjammers Diamant

Photo Credit: Island Windjammers

Cruise Line: The Maine Windjammer Association

Ships:

    • American Eagle (Rockland, Maine)
    • Victory Chimes (Rockland, Maine)
    • Mary Day (Camden, Maine)
    • Heritage (Rockland, Maine)
    • Stephen Taber (Rockland, Maine)
    • Lewis R. French (Camden, Maine)
    • Nathaniel Bowditch (Rockland, Maine)
    • Angelique (Camden, Maine)
    • Issac H. Evans (Rockland, Maine)
    • Timberwind (Rockport, Maine)

Itineraries: Maine Coast

Cruise Line: Liberty Windjammer Cruises

Ships: Liberty Clipper (Homeport in Summer: Boston), Liberty Star (Homeport: St. Thomas)

Itineraries: Liberty Clipper: Bahamas; Liberty Star: Virgin Islands
Summer Itineraries: Boston, New York City,Great Chesapeake Bay

Cruise Line: Windstar Cruises

Ships: Wind Spirit, Wind Star, Wind Surf

Itineraries: Vary (Destinations include Italy, Mediterranean, Greek Isles, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Northern Europe, Transatlantic)

Related: Cruising to the Caribbean?  Get a day pass to an all-inclusive resort!
Related: All inclusive alcohol on cruises?
Related: The Importance of Travel Insurance

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

Hurricane season at mid-way point shows no signs of slowing down; Tropical Storm Leslie

Hurricane

Photo credit: NBC News

The below article is shared from Caribbean360.com.

Please don’t even think of traveling without travel insurance.   Did you know that TravelSafe is the only one to offer a hurricane guarantee if you have to cancel your trip because a hurricane warning has been issued?

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday, September 4, 2012 – The United States National Hurricane Center is issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Leslie and those in Bermuda are being advised to monitor the progress of the storm over the next few days as it gains intensity as it churns toward them.

The tropical storm is passing north east of the Lesser Antilles but over the next few days could bring life-threatening surf and rip currents to all northern Caribbean islands including Bahamas, Bermuda, and the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Experts say the peak of hurricane season will occur in about a week.

Read the full article from Caribbean 360 here.

Related: The Importance of Travel Insurance
Related: Cruise Lines Imposing Stiffer Cancellation Penalties

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?