Posts Tagged ‘boat’

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: A Sunset Sail on the Alli’i Nui


Sailing at sunset on Maui

On my recent girls trip to Maui, I decided to take a sunset cruise to check out the scenery by boat. After reading many reviews, I booked on the Royal Feast Dinner Sail aboard the Alii Nui.


Bare feet aboard the Alii Nui

This two 1/2 hour adults-only cruise provided transportation to and from our hotel (the Andaz Maui at Wailea), and I liked that the luxury sailing catamaran was capacity controlled so that guests plenty of space. The $189.00 all-inclusive price included unlimited cocktails as well as dinner and transportation (gratuity is not included).


Up go the sails on the Alii Nui

The dinner menu included appetizers such as local vegetable crudités, caprese skewers, cheese and crackers and wide array of selections for dinner. Prime rib, Kiawe smoked baby back ribs, sushi, and crab cakes were very popular. Everything I tried was good but food was not the main focus of this sunset cruise. The full bar with cocktails, beer and wine were also included. There was even a selection of Scotch and after dinner liquors.


Magic hour aboard the Alii Nui

The crew of the Alii Nui made us feel taken care of before we even got to Maalaea Harbor. They were great about confirming pickup time at the hotel via text and our transportation arrived promptly. Guests were looped in on the plan for the evening, and the high staff to guest ratio was nice. Everyone was ready to have a good time before we took off our shoes once we boarded the 65′ sailing catamaran for this barefoot sunset dinner cruise.


Pineapple over the Pacific

While the cruise was not a tour, the crew was available to answer questions and made sure everyone got enough cocktails and food. They even offered to take pictures of the guests, which was a nice touch. The music selection was nice and played at a non-intrusive volume.


Blue hour aboard the Alii Nui

I must confess that boats are not my favorite mode of transportation. But sea sickness wasn’t an issue for anyone during this smooth sail.


Sundowner aboard the Alii Nui

Alcohol brands were premium and cocktails did not seem especially strong, but everyone was having a great time. There were also plenty of non alcoholic beverages as well as coffee and tea. Guests seemed fond of the signature Slip 56 signature cocktail and the Alii Nui Mai Tais.


Obligatory sailing selfie with Zan Aufderheide

The other guests were friendly and the boat offered enough space above and below deck for guests to spread out. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience of taking in the blue Pacific waters and the gorgeous sunset and West Maui views.


Sailboats, sunset and windmills and moody clouds

The Alii Nui crew had service down to a science and the separate bathroom facilities for men and women were appreciated.

A little video of the Royal Feast Sunset Cruise on the Alii Nui

I started to think that Christopher Cross might be onto something with this sailing stuff!


Happy customers aboard the Alii Nui

I was impressed with the value for money of the Royal Feast Dinner Cruise on the Ali’i Nui. The Alii Nui offers a wide variety of other charters including whale watching, snorkeling trips to Molokini and Turtle Point, and other speciality cruises. Our experience was so positive we hope to take one of their snorkeling trips on a future trip to Maui.

Alii Nui Sailing Charters
Toll Free (US only): 1- 800-542-3483 Ext. 1 Local: 1-808-875-0333

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A Stay at Villa D’Este Lake Como, Italy

The view from our Lake View Junior Suite in the Cardinal Building at Villa D’Este

This summer I visited Italy’s Lake Como for the first time. It’s stunningly beautiful, even though the weather was mostly rainy during my visit. My husband recently joined LHW’s Leaders Club Unlimited and LHW has an exceptional edit of hotels in Italy, including Villa d’Este.

Pool on the lake at Villa D’Este

We booked a executive Room Garden View but were upgraded to a Junior Suite with Lake View in the Cardinal Building, which was a very nice upgrade. As a Leaders Club Unlimited member, my husband was also given Three course complementary lunch for two at The Verandah (without drinks).

The view from Bar Canova

Some of the entrees, such as smoked sockeye salmon with caviar were € 80. The total value of this unpublished Leaders Club unlimited perk was around $300.  I would not have known the prices if my husband had not told me, this is the sort of old school hotel that gives the woman the menu with no prices.

Art in Bar Canova

Once we got into our Junior suite, we found a bottle of Prosecco as our welcome amenity, and a stunning view of the lake.

Classic Italian luxury is the vibe at Villa D’Este

Service at the hotel was top notch, and the bathroom smelled wonderful. Staff was very friendly, on top of everything and the concierge took care of all our restaurant reservations.

Boats at Villa D’Este

The hotel was offering daily boat excursions on the lake complete with a tour guide and a 90 minute stopover in Bellagio for € 90. I was going to go but choose not to because of the weather (and the bed was really, really comfortable).

Rainy but beautiful morning on Lake Como

The property has over 25 acres of grounds and gardens and huge fitness center complete with indoor pool. Due to the rain, the outdoor pool was closed during much of my stay.

The Queen’s Building at Villa D’Este

Breakfast for two was included in our room rate and the food and service was good. My only criticism– the breakfast buffet was not as impressive as everything else at the property.

Stunning gardens at Villa D’Este

It was also fun instagramming pictures from the property and having “George Clooney’s Villa” pop up as a possible location.

Pasta and tomato soup al fresco

Villa d’Este was not cheap, but the great service and luxe accommodations made up for the dicey weather.

Aperol Spritz at Canova Bar

The hotel had even set up a lounge and big screen television in one of the rooms on the ground floor to make a top notch lounge for World Cup viewing.

Sun & an Aperol Spritz

Villa d’Este is open from March through November.

Villa d’Este

Via Regina, 40

22012 Cernobbio, Italy

Tel +39 031 3481

Fax +39 031 348873

Rates start at $696 .78 (€ 520.00)

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Exploring Capri’s Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra)

Capri’s Blue Grotto is One of the Island’s Most Famous Tourist Attractions

Part of the fun of traveling with a friend is bonding with them while taking in the local sites. Today my friend, Justin, and I hired a water taxi to explore the Blue Grotto also known as Grotta Azzurra.

How can you not want to visit a mysterious natural sea cave described as Tiberius’ water-filled nymphaeum?” We decided to go first thing in the morning, since you can’t visit if the seas get rough and during our time on the island we’ve noticed the water gets rougher in the afternoon.

After about a 15 minute water taxi ride from the main port in Capri, we knew we were getting close to the entrance based on the number of Japanese tourists groups in the boat traffic jam.

You enter the blue grotto in a row boat lying on your back

We then had to transfer to second boat– this one a row boat– to enter the grotto. We paid €12.50 Euros each to enter and while we waited our turn we noticed the Japanese tourists leaving the grotto were giggling like school girls. I’m a big fan of people watching, and I think it was worth the price of admission alone to just watch the Japanese tourists have so much fun.

Watching the Japanese tour group get into their row boats was like watching passengers flee a sinking ship, but with more giggling.

In addition to the price of admission, you are expected to tip your oarsman.

One you are in the row boat you have to lie on your back to enter the Grotta Azzurra because there is a very low clearance to the cave. That’s why you can’t visit if the seas are rough. you might get a little bit damp, too.

I took these shots with my Canon DSLR once we entered the cave.

I was surprised at the color of the water once we entered the grotto.It was shockingly Tidy Bowl Blue. The color is caused by the minerals on the rocks below being reflected in the light. It was rather fun, kinda drippy and cool.

Row Boats filled with tourists in Capri’s Grotta Azzurra

I loved the tourist’s iPhone in the foreground of this shot. It adds so much character.

Tourists enjoying the boat tour of the Blue Grotto

It took a minute for our eyes to adjust to the the sunlight after emerging from the grotto

Obligatory tourist cliche shot of tourists exploring the Blue Grotto (complete with Devil Eyes). We paid for an oarsman, not a photographer.

The Blue Grotto is definitely worth a visit if the weather allows and you’re visiting Capri. It’s fun to check out and not that time intensive. Sometimes it’s fun to be a silly tourist– especially when jovial Italian oarsmen are involved.

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Kerala, India- A Photo Essay Shot With a Plastic Camera

Editor’s Note: I visited Kerala, India before I started this blog. Kerala is a state in southwest India, along the Malabar coast. I enjoyed floating around on a houseboat in the part of India that is known as the birthplace of Ayerveda. While the trip was relaxing, the light there was rather flat which was disappointing to me as a photographer on my first trip to India.

I worked around that photographic obstacle by shooting film with a plastic Lomo camera, and then I hat it cross processed when it was developed. Today I would duplicate the effect shooting with my iPhone 5 and using the Cross Process app.

You can learn more about Kerala by visiting Kerala’s tourism website.

Hotel Beach Kerala

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