Get Away With Fran

October 30, 2009

Disney’s Dream cruise ship includes a roller coaster

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 5:31 am


“Awesome,” “Amazing,” “Yippee,” “Wow.” That’s me, hopefully, in 2011, after Disney debuts the first water roller coaster at sea on its Disney Dream, currently under construction in Germany.

The coaster, which will use basically the same technology as Master Blaster at Typhoon Lagoon,” is 2 1/2 football fields long and four decks high and will actually loop out over the ocean, so that the sea will be some 150 feet below. Talk about a rush. High-powered water jets will accelerate rides on the AquaDuck upward and forward at a surging speed of about 20 feet per second.

Cruise executives have joked for years that a roller coaster would some day appear on a cruise ship. But Disney is actually doing it on this 3,000-passenger ship. Because they’re Disney and they can.


And that’s just one of the innovations on a ship that will also feature innovative inside cabins with portholes showing a live video feed of the ocean – so you can see the waves even in the cheapest cabins on the ship.

Since the Disney Dream does not debut until January 26, 2011, there’s no pricing yet and you can’t book passage yet. But it has been disclosed the ship will offer cruises from Port Canaveral (near Orlando).

Stay tuned for more details.

October 29, 2009

Oasis arrives and Disney Dreams

Last night I dreamed about being on a cruise ship with the Pirates of the Caribbean (my favorite ride at Walt Disney World). No, I do not ordinarily dream about Disney (though I will confess to some dreaming about pirates, aye aye captain). But today I head to New York to hear what Disney Cruise Line has in store for its two new cruise ships, the first of which, the Disney Dream, is under construction at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, and due to debut in 2011.

Because we’re talking Disney, there are rumors of course – like that the ships will boast a huge amount of space both indoors and outdoors dedicated to kids. Whether that’s true and what will be in that space (grass? rides? pirates?) is top secret.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest by far cruise ship Oasis of the Seas was officially delivered to Royal Caribbean yesterday in Finland. That means the final payment of the $1.9 billion was made, and the ship is soon to head across the Atlantic for its official debut in Miami on Nov. 20. And yes, I plan to be in Miami too getting a first look.

The Oasis is bigger than a bread basket – in fact as big as an aircraft carrier – with 220,000 tons of space to explore along with the 5,400 other passengers.

I’m packing heels for New York and Disney. For Oasis, I think I’ll bring sneakers.

October 28, 2009

Architecture travel fantasy in Illinois

Filed under: Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 2:21 pm


I am a bit of an architecture geek. No, I’d never try creating anything, but I do admire the work of others – and have been known to go out of my way when traveling to see the latest and greatest, and old and historic.

So I think it’s super cool that the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust is again serving up its Architecture Fantasy Camp in 2010


The camp program takes place at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in the very drafting room where the master worked in Oak Park, Ill., with a program very much designed for non-architects. Dates are March 5-8; June 13-16; August 1-4 and October 3-6, 2010.

As part of the program, which BTW I think would make an excellent holiday gift for any Wright fan, (more…)

October 27, 2009

Passion for Portugal

Filed under: Food,International,Travel Advice,Wine and booze — admin @ 8:00 am


The Portuguese are passionate people. Some might even call them emotional (anyone who has ever seen Fado music performed in Lisbon will surely get this). And this month, I had a couple of opportunities to see how that passion pours over (excuse the pun) to Portuguese wine.

At a tasting featuring several dozen vintners, I sampled everything from young verde(the Portuguese prefer not to call it “green wine” though that’s how most American’s know it) to aged port (a personal favorite).


And last week at Grill 23 n Boston, I sampled a full range of red wines – and one rose – created in the Alentejo region by the Adega Cooperativa de Borba (and distributed locally by L & B Beverage of East Providence, R.I.).

The Rose 2008 was fine with a terrine of foie gras with apples poached in cherry lambic, served with a tarragon egg and “soldiers” toasts.

But the perfect pairing for me was the Reserva Red, 2004, one of three wines served with the main course of slow roasted and braised elk (with yummy creamed bacon and salsify and tobacco onions). In fact, this very drinkable red (which goes for a bargain price of about $15 per (more…)

October 26, 2009

Air France passengers get new class with more space

Filed under: Airlines,International — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 2:00 pm


Air France passengers on AF 023 from New York to Paris yesterday got to see something new. They were on the first flight equipped with the line’s new Premium Voyaguer cabin, which is not quite business class but gives passengers deeply reclining seats with 40% more space than coach.

Christine Ourmières, Vice President and General Manager of Air France and KLM in the U.S., cut the ribbon yesterday officiallyinaugurating the new cabinon the Boeing 777-200ER.

I met with Ourmières recently in Boston, and she was gleeful about the new service. The seats are separated by a curtain, so really are a new class – in addition to coach, business and first.

You can reserve the new seats online- from about $1,303, or about twice the cost of a discounted economy ticket from New York to Paris (but substantially less than the cost of business class). The seats are being added this year on other long-haul routes from the U.S. and Paris as well.

Speaking of Air France, a few years ago I wrote a column on their Phoenix Project, which basically is a (more…)

October 23, 2009

Whiskey dreams and Ireland


The other night I had very unusual dreams involving Leprechauns and such that I can only credit to the fact I went to a Bushmills Irish whiskey tasting at the brand new Post 390 restaurant in Boston. I am beginning to understand why Jim Morrison was such a fan of the stuff. I did not quite hallucinate, but…

First let me admit I know very little about whiskey. I’m much more a vodka gal. But my whiskey education included learning the fact I actually rather like the Bushmill 16 year, with a little water and ice, especially when accompanying a gussied up version of meatloaf – Post 390′s is veal, beef and pork, stuffed with ham and Fontina cheese and topped with a slightly sweet Marsala sauce. Yum (and my favorite dish of the evening). But I digress.

Colum_Egan I am newly intrigued with Irish whiskey and just may have to head to Ireland to discover more. There could probably be no better guide than Colum Egan, my host at the tasting in Boston and the Master (more…)

October 21, 2009

Stressed in Boston – but maybe a Princess Cruise will help

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 5:58 am

Even travel writers have off days and I was having one yesterday. But today I woke up with a new, and better, attitude because it turns out I live in one of the most stressed out cities in America. So I am not alone.

My epiphany came courtesy of Princess Cruises, which has released the results of a Harris Interactive survey it commissioned on – get this – Life Balance (gee, can you tell the cruiseline is based in California?).

My city, Boston, tops the list of  places where people’s lives are not in balance, as in, we are crazy stressed out or, presumably, lead unbalanced existences. More stressed out than Beantown, is Chicago and Houston and rounding out the list is Los Angeles and San Diego.

Cities where people are more mellow. or at least claim to have balance in their lives, are Miami, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Dallas/Fort Worth (hot and lively, boring, boring, crazy lively, boring, so go figure).

The survey, according to the surveyors, finds “Americans continue to strive for the ultimate life balance, which includes juggling work and personal priorities” but concludes “only approximately one-quarter of people in the U.S. actually have achieved this goal.” Gee, and you thought (more…)

October 19, 2009

Vodka with taste, from Slovakia

Filed under: International,Travel Advice,U.S. — admin @ 9:54 am

Combine really good vodka, Double Cross, and the culinary expertise of Boston top chef Michael Schlow at Via Matta, at a vodka tasting, and of course you have a winning combination. And for those who say vodka has no taste I say blahhh. If there is not taste (which I would argue there is) vodka certainly presents itself in a sensory way, and in Schlow’s hands even a sensual way as well.

First to the vodka. If you haven’t yet heard of Double Cross you will, if for no other reason than it comes in an incredibly cool narrow rectangular bottle and that it hails from the unusual vodka destination of Slovakia (the double silver cross on the bottle is reflective of the Slovakian flag and there are sayings in Slovakian on the label). In fact, Double Cross is the only Slovakian vodka distributed in the U.S.

And the vodka does not even hail from any place in Slovakia you’re ever heard of. It comes from a 13th century village in the mountains near the Polish border and not from Bratislava, and not from more cosmopolitan Bratislava (Slovakia’s up and coming capital city). The vodka uses locally-grown winter wheat and mountain spring water drawn from aquifers located 200-feet below ground level.

How a Slovakian vodka landed in fine restaurants, bars and liquor stores in Boston involves an (more…)

October 13, 2009

Around the world in 26 days and in luxury style


If you have $29,995 handy, 26 free days and want to see the world and/or are looking for a perfect holidaty gift, check out the “trip of a lifetime” being organized by AHI Travel in Chicago.

The “Grand Journey Around the World” tour visits eight countries on three continents, stopping at nine UNESCO World Heritage sites (including Jordan’s Petra, in photo, above).

You also fly in business class, stay at world-famous hotels (including the Peninsula hotels in Asia) and do tours with only 20 fellow passengers. Nice.

You start off flying from the U.S. to Japan, and do Kyoto and Tokyo before flying on to Beijing, Bangkok, Dubai, Cairo, Jordan (Petra), Jerusalem and Germany’s Rhine Valley – yes, an odd but interesting assortment of exotic and not.

Some meals are also included as are gratuities and other extras. And you can even earn more than 25,000 frequent flyer miles on Star Alliance carriers (not a reason to spend $29,995, of course, but add it all up and it’s a pretty good deal).

Departures for the tour are August to October 2010.

October 9, 2009

Bermuda and U.S. Virgin Islands – Book now and snag a bargain

Filed under: International,Travel Advice — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:39 pm


Act fast and you can get a great deal that will allow you to explore the pink sands of Bermuda (one of my personal favorite islands) at a bargain price, and at the fancy Fairmont Southampton Princess, no less.

The hotel is holding a 7-day sale, with rates from only $149 per night if you book by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 13. And that’s an amazing deal. They are even throwing in breakfast for two (plus kids eat free), complimentary golf on the resort’s championship course, and free access for kids to the resort’s Explorer’s Club camp. And here’s the best part: The offer is good Nov. 1 to Apr. 16, including holiday periods. When booking, use promotional code PTLZ. (BTW, that’s lovely St. George’s in the photo.)


Speaking of deals, the U.S. Virgin Islands is enticing travelers with a $.25 room promotion. Yup, a quarter, with a maximum of three nights at that price. The Cent-sational Promotion is sensational (despite the cutesy name), and honors the fact there’s a new U.S. quarter in honor of the USVI. Participating hotels include Bolongo Bay on St. Thomas, the Carambola on St. Croix, the Marriott on


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