Cruise the Caribbean in Style with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

You’ve decided that you want to go on a luxury vacation to the picturesque Caribbean islands, which is a great choice given the beauty and sheer number of activities that the more than 1,700 miles of beautiful land and islands have to offer.

Finding the Right Caribbean Destination

Finding the right destination and accommodations based on online profiles can be tough, which is where Sunset Travel & Cruise comes in. If you aren’t an experienced traveler — or it’s simply been awhile since you planned a vacation – there are some things you should keep in mind that could make your Caribbean vacation a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Plan the Perfect Caribbean Escape with Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

The Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean

The weather in the Caribbean is pleasant year-round, with the exception of the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, but rates do vary seasonally, and each season brings its own unique events and activities that might factor into your decision.

It’s generally thought the best time to visit the Caribbean is December to April, when it’s slightly cooler (particularly in the northern Caribbean), drier and less humid. However, this is also when most of the tourists flock to escape the cold winter weather from the north. If you go during May to November, know that it can be rainy, with hurricanes possible from July to October – though these are rare in the far south.

With all that said, the most inexpensive rates and fewer crowds happen in May to June and late November to mid December – all while still being able to experience good weather for basking on a beach virtually empty of other tourists.

The Best Luxury Caribbean Vacation Options

Once you know when you want to go, it’s time to decide where you’re going to stay and what you’re going to do. Check out our tips for traveling to the Caribbean here. There are endless options, but Sunset Travel can help you narrow down your choice.

The following are a few of the most popular islands to make your luxury vacation dreams come true.

Antigua and Barbuda

With two islands, you get one paradise vacation. They’re best-known for their pink and white-sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, friendly locals, and the most enjoyable climate in the world. Everything from snorkeling and bodysurfing to historical sites can be part of your trip.

Aruba

The reason this island gets more repeat visitors than any other is because of the beautiful beaches, picturesque weather, and variety of activities offered. Whether you want to take in the vibrant nightlife, snorkel to view the USS Antilla shipwreck, or hike through Arikok National Wildlife Park, Sunset Travel can make it happen.

Bahamas

Comprised of 700 islands and over 2,000 rocks and cays, sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean, this luxury location offers something for everyone. If you have kids, you can visit Aquaventure Waterpark on Paradise Island and play in the 141-acre waterpark. If it’s adults only, go to Arawak Cay (in Nassau) over the weekends and party with daiquiri bars and reggae music.

Barbados

Whether you want to swim, stroll on the beach, or sunbathe, party and play hard or enjoy art, culture and cuisine at its best, you can find it here. Not to mention that it’s the birthplace of rum!

Cayman Islands

More than 2 million people visit this island each year, making it one of the most popular luxury vacation destinations in the world. The tropical beauty of a Caribbean paradise combined with all the amenities you’d expect from stateside sophistication makes it a match made in heaven.

Dominican Republic

One of the highlights of this incredible island is Playa Rincon, a gorgeous beach that has a thick palm forest on one side and the ocean on the other. If you’re looking for adventure, they offer everything from kitesurfing and ziplines to island safaris and scuba diving.

Jamaica

From each morning’s breathtaking sunrise until the sun sets at night, Jamaica presents a magnificent expanse of beauty that makes the island a land of unique experiences, engaging activities, breathtaking landscapes, and a warm, welcoming people. You could literally take multiple luxury Caribbean vacations here and still never get bored.

Travel the Caribbean in Luxury with Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise of Chicago IL 60614

St. Lucia

Here you can recline on the sandy white beaches, soak in the volcanic mud baths of Soufrière, zipline through lush rainforests, indulge in authentic island food, club-hop on the Rodney Bay strip, and ride ATVs through the countryside… and that’s just the beginning.

St. Maarten

The island provides vacationers the opportunity to enjoy three distinct cultures – the delightfulness of the Dutch on one side, the savoir-faire of the French on the other, and the blending of both in an exotically unique way. Not to mention Maho Beach, which is definitely a must-see experience.

Turks and Caicos

Made up of 40 islands and cays, on the island of Providenciales, known as the Grace Bay beach, this destination has been consistently voted world’s “best beach”. Then you have Club Med, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Thinking of Going On a Luxury Caribbean Vacation?

The choices for your luxury vacation are plentiful, and it can be hard to narrow down exactly just where you should go. Contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today, and we can help you plan out a dream vacation from start to finish!

Unravel the Mysteries of the Greek Islands with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

Many people often describe “the Greek Islands” as if they were one giant entity, easily popped into and out of and in between, like shops in a strip mall. But look a little bit closer and the magnitude and diversity of the archipelagos becomes as clear as the azure waters.

The Lure of Greece

In reality, there are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece – and over 6,000 isles of varying sizes in total. Each island has its own residents and its own character, from the whitewashed cave homes of the Cyclades to the lush, green Italianate Ionians, to the Crusader castles of Dodecanese.

If you’re one of the lucky ones planning a trip to this beautiful land, there are few things that you should know before you go.

Learn More About Traveling the Greek Islands from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

An Overview of the Greek Islands

Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, with only 227 islands being inhabited. The Greek Archipelago itself takes up more than 4,600 miles of the country’s total 9,942 mile coastline, offering everything from beaches stretching over many kilometers and sheltered bays and coves to sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves and wetlands.

Because some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands, the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage, and local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilization.

Best Time to Vacation In Greece

If you’re looking for smaller crowds and beautiful weather, June or September are the ideal times to travel to Greece. When it comes to the busy season — roughly late June through early September — you’ll have more ferry routes and open restaurants and beach bars to choose from. However, because there are more visitors to compete with, there are also higher prices to pay.

The weather will actually depend on which island group you travel to. Crete is warmest year-round, so it’s a great choice for late fall or winter — and while some islands are full of locals and see tourists year-round, others, like Santorini, get very quiet come winter.

If you’re looking to take in some of the religious culture, visit Greece during Orthodox Easter, when each island, town, and village celebrates in its own way with religious parades, firecrackers, and revelry. The later Easter falls, the better the weather.

Which Greek Islands Should You Visit?

With so many options available, choosing where to spend your vacation time can seem more difficult than the crossword puzzle in the New York Times. Many of the Greek Islands offer similar attractions — great beaches, beautiful villages, delicious food, and a list of historical sites. If you’re looking for a quiet escape, head to some of the uninhabited islands. If you’re looking for more adventure, stick to the beaten path.

Traveling to the Greek Islands with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago IL 60614

Here’s a small overview of some of the most popular islands:

Crete

As the largest and the southernmost Greek island, located roughly halfway between Europe and Africa, Crete could be its own country with its own customs, climate, accent, and cuisine. There are tourist traps, but there are also incredible beaches, including the unparalleled pink-sand Elafonissi. Add in top-notch ruins such as the palace at Knossos, and a growing locavore scene, and you could spend weeks here without ever getting bored — or hungry.

Corfu

With rich multi-cultural heritage, historic monuments, a stunning natural landscape, crystal clear seas, and excellent weather all year round, it’s no wonder that Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations. Home to numerous museums and cultural attractions, this destination offers colorful music events, culinary feasts, religious festivals, and carnival celebrations all year long.

Santorini

South east of mainland Greece, in the Aegean Sea, the southernmost of the Cyclades Islands is known as one of the most romantic and beautiful places in the world, making it a popular spot for couples and honeymoons. Thanks to it being a volcanic island, the scenery is beyond compare and one of the main attractions.

Sporades

With dense vegetation, rocky landscapes, and pure blue seas, this island in the northwest Aegean is a uniquely alternative destination. If you’re a movie fan, you can trace the path used in “Mamma Mia!” where the wedding ceremony took place. There’s also a vibrant nightlife, a National Marine Park, the local cheese pie, and gold sand beaches.

Lesbos

Located in the north eastern Aegean, closer to Turkey’s coast than Greece’s, Lesbos is known for its Petrified Forest and for the country’s most famous drink, Ouzo. Unlike some of the other popular Greek islands where mass tourism killed the vibe, Lesbos Island is still a place where you can find the authentic Greek laid-back lifestyle with an ocean overlooking idyllic bays and pretty calm beaches.

Planning a Trip to Greece?

There are just a few of the most popular choices, but it’s really a choose your own adventure — and Sunset Travel & Cruise is here to help you do just that. If you’ve decided to make Greece your next vacation destination, contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today to help plan an adventure that you’ll never forget.

The Best Tips for Traveling to the Caribbean from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago

If there’s one place on Earth that can offer you everything from perfect beaches, delicious cuisines, incredible history, and friendly people waiting for you, that would be the Caribbean islands.

Are you dreaming about the warm sun and sand or do you prefer researching the history of the islands and then taking in the sights? No matter what your perfect island getaway includes, there are some helpful tips to make sure your vacation goes from simply average to absolutely amazing.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean?

With the exception of the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, the weather in the Caribbean is pleasant year-round, but rates do vary seasonally, and each season brings its own unique events and activities that might factor into your decision.

Generally speaking, the best time to visit the Caribbean is considered to be December to April, when it’s slightly cooler (particularly in the northern Caribbean), drier and less humid. However, this is also when most of the tourists flock to escape the northern winter. If you go during May to November, know that it can be rainy, with hurricanes possible from July to October – though these are rare in the far south.

Learn More About Traveling the Caribbean from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

With all that said, May to June and late November to mid December provide the most inexpensive rates and fewer crowds – all while still being able to experience good weather for basking on a beach virtually empty of other tourists.

Know Which Islands You Want to Visit

Knowing when to travel to the Caribbean is one thing, but knowing where in the Caribbean you want to travel is another. The Caribbean islands stretch over more than 1,700 miles in the Caribbean Sea, with some being composed of volcanic rocks, while others of coral and sand. There are some that belong to the U.S., U.K., France, or the Netherlands while some are independent countries. Each island offers up an experience as unique as its personality, including different cultures, popular activities, and tourist offerings.

It’s key to match your island with your personality. If you’re into parties and nightlife, Aruba, Puerto Rico, or the Bahamas will fit the bill. If you prefer activities like hiking up mountains, you’ll find what you’re looking for on more rugged islands like Dominica and Grenada.

Another consideration is air travel, as some islands may require several air connections and only offer infrequent flights midweek. On the other hand, because of its closeness to the U.S. and a sheer number of nonstop flights, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is one of the least expensive Caribbean airports to fly to, as are Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Nassau, Bahamas, and St. Thomas.

It all depends on what you prefer, and Sunset Travel & Cruise will work with you to make sure all your vacation dreams come true.

Choose an Accommodation

Much like choosing an island, the accommodation you choose will be based on your travel style. A popular option is an all-inclusive vacation, meaning you pay only once, but get everything from the room, meals, drinks, activities, transportation, and any other inclusions the resort includes with the deal. This is a good option if you don’t want to spend a lot of time planning the trip, want kid-friendly activities, prefer to lounge around by the pool or beach all day, and don’t care that much about diversity in your restaurant choices.

If you want to really experience local culture and spend time exploring the island, a hotel is the way to go. You will most likely spend more on food and won’t experience as much guidance, but you’re guaranteed an authentic experience.

Keep in mind that off-season rates can reduce prices by up to 40%, so plan accordingly.

Finally, if you’re really on a budget, consider rental options like a villa, Airbnb or Home Away. It’s a popular way of getting cheap accommodation for a few nights, and because they include a kitchen and dining area, you will also save on the cost of meals.

Things to Do In the Caribbean

From taking in the picturesque beaches to exploring the local cuisine, there’s no shortage of activities to do in the islands and it’s impossible to name them all. Simply tell Sunset Travel & Cruise your preferences, and we can find any activity to suit your needs, saving you the time and hassle.

Get Expert Tips for Travel to the Caribbean from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

Some Caribbean Adventures to Consider

Sailing around the Virgin Islands – This is one of the most popular and fun activities you can do. You can get day sails or multi-day trips, a yacht or a catamaran charter; any way you want it, they have it.

Visit Havana, Cuba – Havana is the largest city in the Caribbean and has emerged as a tourist hotspot, rich in history, architecture, and culture — not to mention the subject of one of the most popular songs on the radio. The best time to visit is July when Santiago celebrates its annual Carnival de Santiago de Cuba with music and dancing.

Hike Gros Piton in St. Lucia – If you feel like an excursion and you’re an experienced hiker, plan on taking on the twin volcanic peaks that rise out of the water. They’re a marvel to behold, but an even more incredible experience to climb.

Check out Trunk Bay, St. John – It’s been voted one of the best beaches in the world multiple times, and for good reason. It’s picture perfect with white sands and clear water, and while it costs $5 to get onto the beach, the coral and marine life you’ll see while snorkeling will make it totally worth it.

Planning Your Own Caribbean Vacation?

Whether you want to take in the nightlife in Aruba or the picturesque beaches of Trunk Bay in St. John, Sunset Travel & Cruise will help you plan a Caribbean vacation you’ll never forget. Contact us today!

Learn How to Easily Plan Your Destination Wedding from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago IL 60614

There’s something special about getting married in an exotic destination that you’ve only dreamed of visiting in the past. Maybe it’s in the sand someplace tropical or high on a roller coaster in your favorite theme park. As gorgeous and exciting as these locations are, don’t forget that a lot of planning goes a destination wedding.

Say “I Do” to Destination Weddings

After all, there’s more to take into account than the venue itself (although that’s definitely high up on the list of priorities). You have to think about the timing of your ceremony, what the weather will be like at the location, and guests’ availability to travel.

But with a little know-how — and help from your travel concierges at Sunset Travel & Cruise in Chicago —you can plan a memorable getaway for you and your guests.

Plan Your Perfect Destination Wedding with Expert TIps from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago IL 60614

Pick the Perfect Destination For Your Wedding

It goes without saying that the destination you choose should be perfect for your situation. Your wedding location will determine not only the mood (beachy, sophisticated, adventurous), but also the time and budget you’re going to need to pull it off. The activities and overall vibe of the wedding shouldn’t be what you think others want to see. They should say something about your shared style and experiences so that your guests walk away from your wedding saying, “That was so them!”

Are you into food? Think about taking your crew to a place like California’s wine country or Italy. Did the proposal happen at a concert? Then why not host your wedding at Las Vegas where the biggest headliners in the world perform every night? Was your first vacation somewhere tropical? Head off to the Caribbean.

Wherever you choose to go, Sunset Travel & Cruises’s experienced team can make sure it’s a perfect location — ’til death do you part.

Get the Timing Right

Timing truly is everything, especially when it comes to traveling for your big day. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but carefully planning can bring it closer to that ideal. The best weather in popular vacation destinations tends to happen during tourist season, when there are typically more crowds, fewer hotel and venue availabilities, and higher rates for just about everything.

If you’re set on planning a destination wedding during this peak time, let Sunset Travel & Cruise know as soon as possible, as we can offer insider deals you won’t find anywhere else —if given the time.

If you opt for the slower season, you can save you and your guests some money. While the off-season will mean fewer crowds, the weather can be a gamble, and there’s the chance that many stores, venues, and vendors close up shop.

Let Everyone Know What You’re Thinking

Yes, it’s your big day, but you also have to factor in everyone who is going to be a part of your big day. Unless you’re eloping, there’s family, friends, and a wedding party to consider. Tell your bridal party you’re planning a destination wedding before you ask them to stand by your side. This gives them the chance to decline if they can’t financially swing it.

Be sure to send out save-the-dates at least eight months in advance so that the rest of the guest list has plenty of notice and can get the best deals on flights and accommodations. Just keep in mind that some of your your closest friends or relatives might not be able to attend due to the travel or the expenses. Although your wedding is a mini-vacation for you, it might not be one that can actually fit in their plans.

Take a Planning Trip Before Your Destination Wedding

This is the fun part! We can’t recommend enough that you take at least one planning trip to scout out and secure the key venues, such as where the ceremony and reception will take place, the hotels, the caterers and florists and photographers.

The seemingly daunting process of narrowing down your options and booking some of these categories can be done for you with the help of Sunset Travel & Cruise. We’re here from the second you decide where to go to the second you set foot back home!

Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding from the Expert Travel Agents of Sunset Travel & Cruise Right in Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

Ask For Help When Planning Your Destination Wedding

Even the biggest control freaks have to admit that planning a wedding thousands of miles away from home will require some assistance. Many resorts include a wedding specialist in their wedding packages who can help with things like researching and securing local vendors, dealing with logistics, and handling any last-minute hiccups that may start in the weeks leading up to the wedding. A local planner connected with your venue is your best bet, most often, as they can be your eyes and ears when you can’t be there.

Sunset Travel & Cruise right here in Chicago can help book everything from your flights to your accommodations to your activities. We sit down and talk with you face-to-face to figure out how to make the most memorable day of your life as stress-free as possible.

Factor In Extra Expenses

Everyone thinks that destinations weddings are extraordinarily expensive, but if done right, it can cost no more — and maybe even less — than hosting the same party at home.

But there are extra expenses you’ll need to factor in for any destination wedding, like importing décor, finding key vendors, welcome bags for guests, additional activities for guests, and travel costs for you and your immediate families — including your planning trip, and if you have to fly in any vendors.

Ready to plan your destination wedding?

The first step is to make a realistic budget. The next step is to work with Sunset Travel & Cruise, as
we can secure certain deals that you won’t find anywhere else. No matter if you want to celebrate your new matrimony on the beaches of Jamaica or at the most magical place on Earth, we’ll work with you to ensure you’ll member this whole trip “‘til death do you part.”

Contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today!

Learn More About the Top Wedding Destinations with Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

Want to have a destination wedding but aren’t sure exactly where you want to go? There are so many gorgeous locations in the world to hold your nuptials, which is why it can feel so overwhelming.

Let Sunset Travel & Cruise guide you through some of our favorite options!

The Many Options for Destination Weddings

Are you leaning more towards the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip or the serene and laid-back island style of Hawaii? Destination weddings are a great way to celebrate the beginning of a new life together — all while exploring new lands in for a time you and your guests won’t soon forget.

Explore All the Options for Destination Weddings with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Where To Have Your Destination Wedding

Sunset Travel & Cruise, your Chicago travel concierge, can secure your destination wedding plans to any of the top locations below — or anywhere else in the world.

Australia

Why not tie the knot in the Land Down Under? Sydney, the Gold Coast and Hayman Island are all popular Australian destination wedding choices. The country itself features gorgeous landscapes, from urban cities to the rugged outback and the unforgettable Great Barrier Reef. Then there are upscale eateries influenced by Europe and Asia, with world-class local wines. Add in scuba diving, snorkeling, white-water rafting, and zoos, and there’s something for everyone here.

Tuscany

This is one of the most popular destination wedding locations, and for good reason. If you’re going for a rustic, romantic affair, the wine estates and castles of central Tuscany are second-to-none. Add in gastronomical delights you won’t find anywhere else in the world, rolling hills and meadows, and il dolce far niente, or “the sweet art of idleness,” and it’s easy to say “I do.”

Hawaii

The first big draw to this destination is that it’s obviously drop-dead gorgeous, but Hawaii also makes for a great wedding location because of traditionally good weather, endless amazing photo opportunities, and tons of options for adventure. There’s plenty for guests to do too — everything from exploring the rain forest region and going horseback riding to shopping, snorkeling, or just relaxing on the beach.

Iceland

Located conveniently between North America and Europe, Iceland is quickly becoming one of the most popular wedding destinations. That landscapes include black sandy beaches, historic wooden churches, fields of green next to towering volcanoes and glaciers, and Northern Lights. It’s perfect for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers, with endlessly interesting and surreal backdrops.

New York City

The city that never sleeps will never cease to offer up amazing opportunities when it comes to a destination wedding. You’ll have countless caterers, florists, photographers, and bands from which to make your selection. And your guests? They can enjoy Broadway shows, museums and galleries, four-star restaurants, active nightlife, and block after block of shopping, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Times Square — and that’s just the beginning. Plus, the plethora of taxis make it easy to get from place to place.

Jamaica

The site of many all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica can be one of the most affordable of the Caribbean islands on which to get married. But on the other side of the coin, there’s no shortage of luxurious options that Sunset Travel & Cruise can book for you, including private villas complete with private chefs, housekeeping staffs, and security.

The gardens, flowering landscapes, sandy white beaches, and waterfalls all provide a gorgeous backdrop for the big day.

Say I DO with an Island Destination Wedding with Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Right In Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

New Zealand

Even people who aren’t “Lord of the Rings” fans will still find this destination pretty much ideal if you’re looking to break away from the crowds but still enjoy amazing scenery and adventures. There are miles of golden beaches and pristine forests — both of which can serve as a memorable backdrop for your wedding. New Zealand also offers up luxury spas, sensational wines, and beautiful hillsides in quaint little towns.

Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas, because you’re going to want to tell everyone about your amazing destination nuptials. If you’re looking to explore your wild side, Sin City is the place to go for nightlife, gaming, shows, dining, and even a drive-thru chapel or two. Whether you make it a luxurious event full of VIP service or an Elvis impersonator at 2AM, you can bet that Sunset Travel & Cruise will make it your ideal trip from beginning to end.

Costa Rica

If you’re dreaming of a beach bridal affair, how do sun-baked stretches of white sand appeal to you? Those looking for a preserved tropical background for their nuptials but don’t want to sacrifice their modern urban tastes head to Costa Rica. From mountaintop views to the edge of a volcano, there are myriad places to tie the knot. Since ecotourism is big here, meaning you can “green” up your wedding by staying in eco-lodges and rain forest bungalows.

Greece

Thanks to its extensive history, beautiful coastline, and enviable Mediterranean climate, Greece remains one of the most popular travel spots in Europe — especially for destination weddings. It offers breathtaking sunsets, beachside locations, and stunning scenery. Add in culinary delights, cliffside views, and wines to delight, and you’ll want to have your own “Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

Ready to Plan Your Destination Wedding?

Whether you want to tie the knot on the sandy white beaches of Jamaica or the black sandy beaches of Iceland, Sunset Travel & Cruise in Chicago can work with you to plan every detail to make it unforgettable.

With us, you get real people who will tailor your vision into the perfect destination wedding for you. Contact us today!

Explore the Great Pyramids with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of ancient times is the magnanimous Pyramids of Giza near Cairo. Somewhere far away in the secluded desert is the last standing ancient wonder of the world — the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

The Great Pyramids as a Bucket List Item

Walking down the Giza street you’ll see the Egyptian pyramids looming in front of you as you approach them, the sight no doubt taking your breath away. It’s no wonder that visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt is something on many people’s bucket lists.

Travel to the Great Pyramids with Expert Advice from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Where are the Great Pyramids?

The Egyptian Pyramids are located within the Pyramids complex on the Giza plateau, about 15 miles southwest of Downtown Cairo.

These pyramids include the Great Pyramid of Khufu (aka Cheops), Pyramid of Khafre (aka Chephren), the Pyramid of Menkaure (aka Mycerinus), which is the smallest of the three main Pyramids of Giza.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the East side of the Nile (East bank) was for the living, because the sun rises there. The West Bank was for the dead, where the sun sets, which is why the pyramids were purposely built on the West Bank of the River Nile.

When is the Best Time To Visit the Great Pyramids?

Generally speaking, it’s best to visit Egypt is during the winter. More specifically, it’s best to visit the Pyramids of Giza after the morning rush of tourist buses.

This also has the added benefit of missing out on the haze of pollution that normally envelopes Cairo early in the morning.

How to Get To the Great Pyramids

There are various different way to get to this destination, and it will truly depend on your schedule and what you feel comfortable with. The first option is to spend the night at one of the hotels in front of the pyramids, which allows you to simply walk up to the main entrance to the site. Once you’re there, you can either walk or get a horse or camel to ride around the pyramids and nearby desert.

If you’re staying in downtown Cairo, your best best is probably going to be an Uber. It’s less expensive than a taxi, which is another option, and it will save you from having to haggle on cab fare. If you do take a taxi, make sure you agree on a price beforehand and don’t be afraid to bargain hard for a good rate.

Another option is a public bus, which is also rather inexpensive. Finally, you can take the Cairo Metro, which gets pretty crowded during peak hours (7 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 6 pm). Avoid that headache by starting your day early and returning after the rush. It’s efficient, cheap, and will cover all major tourist attractions.

Experience the Best of the Great Pyramids with Expert Travel Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Right in Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

What To Do When You’re at The Great Pyramids

Just seeing the pyramids themselves will leave you in awe, but going inside the Pyramids will take your adventure up to the next level. It might cost you a little bit extra, but it’s worth seeing the inside of The Great Pyramid of Giza, Khafre’s Pyramid, Menkaure Pyramid, and Mers Ankh Tomb.

While there are no mummies inside, you can see those at the Egyptian Museum, which is a highly recommended tourist attraction, as well.

Keep in mind that cameras, including phones, aren’t allowed inside the Pyramids. You can leave your items at the entrance with the guards, who will give you a ticket in exchange that’s needed to collect your belongings when you leave.

What to Wear for The Great Pyramids

Since you will be doing quite a bit of walking around, comfortable footwear is a must. It can get extremely warm in the Pyramid complex, so wear breathable material like linen and be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen.

Are You Planning To Visit the Great Pyramids?

If this vacation is on your bucket list, Sunset Travel & Cruise can plan everything from your flight to Egypt to where you stay and the activities you partake in. Leave it up to us, and together we’ll plan a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Contact us today!

Tour Sicily n in Style with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

What’s the deal with Sicily? It’s more than just the homeland of Sophia on “Golden Girls.” It’s a rugged and attractive island — the largest one in the Mediterranean Sea, to be exact — on the southern tip of Italy. It’s one of the country’s 20 regions, and is separated from the mainland region of Calabria by the five km Straits of Messina.

What Sicily Is Known For

Sicily is known for iconic beaches, historic palaces, and cathedrals that are best visited from May to June or September to October, when temperatures hover around 70ºF. While the weather might be ideal during these months, they also bring larger crowds and higher prices.

As tourist crowds thin out at other times of the year, prices for accommodation drop, which makes off-season travel a good option — traveling in November and December is highly recommended. Winter travel will involve more indoor experiences, such as wine tasting and tours of historic buildings, whereas summer travel will involve more outdoor activities, such a basking in the sun and exploring outdoor markets.

Explore Sicily with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

But no matter what time you go, each season has its highlight.

Winter In Sicily

Winters in Sicily average around 53ºF, but temperatures drop dramatically after sunset, so plenty of warm clothing is needed when visiting the island this time of year. Flights to Italy and hotel prices drop in winter, which means you save when it comes to travel costs.

An added bonus of going in the off-season is that due to lack of tourists, it makes it easier to get to know the locals on a personal basis. A more relaxed atmosphere may also mean better customer service.

Plus, winter offers all sorts of gems to discover. If there’s snow, there’s skiing on Mt. Etna. From culinary delights such as the sea urchin harvest season in February to cool weather golf, wintertime in Sicily offers much more than many travelers realize.

Spring In Sicily

If you’re looking to tour historic sites and take advantage of the scenic beauty, this might be the best time of the year to visit. Spring in Sicily has a mild climate that allows locals and tourists to finally spend the day outside, enjoying the scents of Sicily and some fresh air. It’s not too warm, not too cool, and the cities aren’t as crowded as they are during the summer months.

Starting in April, Sicily is overtaken by the vibrant hues of almond and cherry blossoms and ripening citrus fruit. Many festivals also take place in April and May, including those for Easter. The late-spring, early-summer rush begins in May, so be aware that there might be larger crowds — but it’s worth it.

Learn When to Travel to Sicily from the Travel Experts at Sunset Travel and Cruise Right In Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

Summer In Sicily

The most popular times to visit Sicily are early and late summer, which means the crowds thin out for July and August due to the heat. But if you can take the heat, you can find some good deals.

Summer is the perfect time to get out of the cities and instead explore traditional fishing villages, relax on breathtaking beaches, and swim in the turquoise water. Just keep in mind that some businesses shut down and take a break during the hot season, but gear up for the crowds in late August.

Fall In Sicily

After Sicily’s hot summer, early fall brings in 70ºF temperatures once again. And along with those temperatures brings the height of this Italian island’s tourist season — along with May and June.

Fall is known as the time of olive harvest, and given that the food in Sicily is seasonal, travelers are in for a treat. Enjoy the flavors of the local seafood pasta, arancini, pizza, gelato, and other delicious treats, eating your way through the region while getting to know the culture and the people.

The moderate temperatures mean you can explore the historic landmarks and colorful scenery without overheating. This is why so many people choose fall for their Sicilian vacation.

Are You Planning a Trip To Sicily?

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It’s something that’s on many people’s bucket list — swimming with live dolphins in the beautiful Florida Keys.

Swimming With the Dolphins Is an Ideal Family Vacation

In fact, dolphin encounters are perfectly suited to the Florida Keys because it combines several elements of a visit — family activities, ecotourism, education and conservation, respect for local wildlife, snorkeling, boating, getting in the water, and even a sunset if you time it correctly.

All throughout the Keys, from north to south, visitors can swim with dolphins in their natural environment or participate in a structured encounter. Either way, interacting with these highly intelligent marine animals is an experience you’ll never forget.

Structured or Unstructured Swimming With Dolphins

Most dolphin-swim facilities offer both a structured and an unstructured swim, and it all depends on your personal preference.

Unstructured swims are your best option if you want to interact with dolphins in a more natural environment. Here you can engage with dolphins by mimicking their movements, but keep in mind you shouldn’t touch them. Dolphins will often approach swimmers and interact with them on these swims, but you’re not guaranteed contact.

On the other hand, you have the structured swim, which guarantees contact and includes a trainer who helps participants interact with dolphins.

Whichever swim you choose, there are a few popular places that these can occur.

Dolphin Plus

Located just an hour drive south of Miami, Key Largo’s original swim with the dolphins program, Dolphin Plus,  offers both structured and unstructured swims. The natural, or unstructured, swim lasts for 30 minutes, whereas the structured swim lasts until each swimmer has had a chance to make direct contact with a dolphin.

Both programs offer an approximately 45-minute educational program about bottlenose dolphins and dolphin interactions. In addition, they offer sea lion swims and dolphin therapy.

Dolphin World

Dolphin World offers multiple packages that allow you to swim with dolphins in Key Largo. If you opt for the Full-Day Dolphin Swim Mini Workshop, you’ll get a brief educational presentation, a structured 30-minute interaction with dolphins in both deep and shallow water, 1.5 hours of coral reef snorkeling, and a photo opportunity with a dolphin. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to take a dolphin ride across the facility’s pool.

Experience Swimming with Dolphins in the Florida Keys with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

It should be noted that while the facility provides snorkel equipment, guests should bring their own towels.

Dolphin Research Center Marathon

The Dolphin Research Center in Marathon is another 30 miles south from Islamorada and a 501(c)3 not-for-profit research and educational facility. They offer several different daily presentations that demonstrate the dolphins’ high flying athletics, dolphin education fun facts, dolphin research, new behavior training, medical behaviors, and much more.

Not only can you swim with the dolphins, but they also offer a selection of interactive experiences that include the chance to observe, meet, play, splash, or even paint with the marine mammals. For those wanting to take it up a notch, guests can accompany a trainer for a full day, learning hand signals, and participating in actual training and feeding sessions.

They’re open every day except Christmas.

Theater of the Sea in Islamorada

Known as a marine mammal adventure park, at Theater of the Sea in Islamorada you can swim with dolphins, sea lions, and stingrays in their natural salt water lagoons through their interactive swim programs. This family-owned attraction has been going strong since 1946, and comes complete with turtles, alligators, sea lions, parrots and more, offering several experiences designed for various age groups.

In addition to swimming and snorkeling with dolphins, the 30-minute dolphin swim includes learning about certain dolphin behaviors like dorsal tows, kisses and hugs.

Ready to Swim With the Dolphins?

If getting into the water with these fabulous creatures is on your bucket list, contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today to make it happen!

The Elephant Experience of a Lifetime in India with Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Imagine climbing on onto the back of a mighty elephant as you make your way through breathtaking sights. If you’re visiting India, that dream can become a reality and an experience of a lifetime.

Elephants Create the Experience of a Lifetime

Elephants aren’t just a part of zoos and national parks, anymore. Now you can enjoy your vacation with elephants in more ways than you can imagine.

How to Ride the Elephants in India with Expert Advice from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

Elephant Safaris In India

One of the most popular ways to get up close and personal with these magnificent beasts is to take a safari through forest-filled destinations like Kerala, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and others. In fact, they’re offered through almost all the national parks and sanctuaries in India.

It’s best to watch big jungle mammals from close quarters, and if you’re on a lion or rhino safari, staying on top of the elephant keeps you safer than if you were traveling by foot or low to the ground.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Some safaris will not be available throughout the year. They’re usually closed during monsoon season, and for good reason, so be sure to inquire about the availability of the service.
  • Because a safari can last more than two hours, it’s important to carry water with you and stay hydrated.
  • With that said, don’t over-pack and bring more than necessary. Your bag should be compact and easily fastened to the back of the animal.
  • Never try to feed the elephant and always treat it with respect. Trying to get on its back on your own, or kicking/hitting the animal can have dangerous consequences.

Elephant Camps In India

If you want to get really up close and personal with these magnificent beasts, elephant camps are the best way to go. The elephants in the camp are trained to play with both children and adults, meaning you can help bathe them, feed them, play with them, learn about them, and go on a safari in the camp.

Some of the top camps are Sakrebailu, Punnathur Kotta, Theppakadu, and Dubare.

If you’re at an elephant camp, keep in mind:

  • You should never feed any outside food or snacks to elephant — only what the caretaker provides you.
  • Do not irritate the animal or hurt it in any way, always show it the utmost respect.
  • Do not approach the elephants without a caretaker and their approval.
  • If you want to bathe the elephants, it’s best to reach the camp as early as possible.

Ready To Ride the Elephants In India?

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Tour Machu Picchu with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Take a Hike To Machu Picchu

Hidden away for centuries in the mountainous cloud forests of Peru, the well-preserved Incan ruins of Machu Picchu are on the bucket list of many travelers — and for good reason. Even though this UNESCO World Heritage site location atop a mountain isn’t exactly easily accessible, thousands of visitors still hike out to see it every single day.

But before you pack your bags and go, there are a some tips that you should take in.

Experience the Best of Machu Picchu with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

The History of Machu Picchu

Located in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is believed to have been built at the height of the Inca Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It was thought to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years the abandoned citadel’s existence was a secret known only to peasants living in the region. That is until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911.

The site itself stretches over an expansive 5-mile distance, featuring more than 3,000 stone steps that link its many different levels. Its central buildings were created through a masonry technique mastered by the Incas in which stones were cut to fit together without mortar.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Peru’s most visited attraction, and South America’s most famous ruin, Machu Picchu welcomes thousands of people every year that marvel at one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.

The Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

The weather is typically dry and pleasant between July and October, which is why it’s the busiest time of year to visit Machu Picchu. If you’re dead-set on going during this time period, prepare for crowds and make sure to book tickets and tours well in advance.

The rainy season runs from November through March or early April, with downpours (and muddy trails) at their peak between January and March. It should also be noted that the Inca Trail is closed each February for maintenance.

To avoid the worst of the crowds and the rain, visit Machu Picchu during April, May, and June.

When to Buy Your Tickets

If you’re considering buying your tickets at the gate, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

It’s recommended that you plan your trip at least six months in advance. In fact, in some cases, the Inca Trail hike that culminates at Machu Picchu fills up almost a year out, especially during high season.

If you’re lucky and it’s the slow season, it might be possible to get your ticket weeks or even days ahead of time. But in order to avoid disappointment and to make sure you have the trip of your dreams, it’s best to plan as far ahead as possible.

How to Plan a Hike In Machu Picchu

The most popular way for travelers with a sense of adventure to reach Machu Picchu is the famous Inca Trail.

This will take you on a four-day trek through the mountains and directly to the ruins. For those who aren’t into the physical exertion or simply don’t have the time, there’s a two-day version of the Inca Trail that’s shorter and easier.

However, access to the trail is restricted to just 500 people per day (including support staff – you can’t hike the Inca Trail without a guide), and permits sell out months in advance, so again, be sure to plan ahead.

The good news is that there are alternatives if you’re up for a challenge. The strenuous five-day Salkantay trek will delight hikers with incredible high-altitude scenery, and the four-day Lares trek makes stops in local Andean communities. There’s also the Choquequirao trek, which takes you to hidden Inca ruins that most visitors to Peru never get to see.

If you want to do a small trek that’s included in the price of your ticket, consider those to Sun Gate or the Inca Bridge, which are family friendly and at a much more leisurely pace.

Be Prepared to Conquer Machu Picchu with Tips from the Expert Travel Agents at Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

What to Wear at Machu Picchu

The most important part of your trip is how you dress and prepare. First of all, comfortable, close-toed shoes are a must given that Machu Picchu is a large site with lots of hills and stairs.

In addition, the bugs can be merciless, which is why it’s recommended that you wear pants and long sleeves, despite the warmer temperatures. This means that you should pack some potent insect repellant and apply it liberally throughout your trip, preferably one with a high concentration of DEET.

Because the weather can quickly change, you’ll want to pack sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and rain gear so that you’re prepared no matter what you encounter.

Ready To Visit Machu Picchu?

A trip to Machu Picchu is an experience unlike anything else on the planet. Let Sunset Travel & Cruise help you plan the trip of your dreams. Contact us today!