Posted by: vanziletravel | April 6, 2017

VZT’s Linda Tack Reports on Cabo San Lucas Hotels

Breathless Cabo San Lucas

The chic, modern and hip Breathless Cabo San Lucas is located on Medano beach, the safest swimmable beach in Cabo.  The resort is just steps away from downtown Cabo. From the resort there is a safe board walk into town. It is about a 30 minute transfer from the airport.

Only 169 ultra-contemporary suites with private furnished balconies and ocean or marina views. Unlimited top-shelf spirits and gourmet dining, 24 hour rooms service, daily refreshed mini bar. The spa is world class spa by Pevoni. Offering cold drink, freshly squeezed juices from the Lush Spa Bar.

Breathless resorts are now offering communal table to experience extra social dining. 7 dining options with three bars. The Purple bar is where the night life takes off. It is on the rooftop of the hotel, where you will also find a hot tub which people will use late into the night.

All AM Resorts offer No wristbands, free Wi-Fi, free international calling to the US and Canada and local landlines.

There is no Casino at this property. There are two pools, one is the quite pool which overlooks the marina. Then there is the party pool which is located overlooking the ocean. The two main building are rooms and three out of the 7 dining options. The other ones you have to walk out of the hotel and down the board walk (just a little walk) to get to.


Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort

Secrets Puerto Los Cabos adults only sits secluded within the exclusive community of Puerto Los Cabos, just 30 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes’ drive from San Jose Del Cabo. The surrounding mountains, Baja desert and the sea of Cortes offer stunning views from all 500 spacious suites. Golf course is located right next door. Four bars, eight restaurants and 24 hour room service. Rooms can have the view of the garden, golf course, ocean or swim out. All AM Resorts offer No wristbands, free Wi-Fi, free international calling to the US and Canada and local landlines.  There is no Casino at this resort.


Grand Velas Los Cabo

Open its doors by the very spot where Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean converge. More than 300 luxurious suites of over 1000 Sq. Ft. with spectacular views, and excellence in service.  They do have meeting space.

The rooms are huge. Each room comes with a full service bar. Bottles of small wine. Snacks in the mini bar. They walk around the pool and place towels on all the chairs and they are folded. You then can see what chairs are available. The dining options are plentiful.  If there are high winds you will feel it while walking down the hall. This is not a cheap place. I would love to go back and stay there for my vacation.

Grand Fiesta Americana Cabo

249 rooms 21 one of those rooms are Grand Club rooms. Jack Nichols golf course is just steps away. Great spa. They offer 6 restaurants and 4 bars one being a Tapas Bar fire pit. The Sushi restaurant was amazing. When I did the site each restaurant offered a tasting of their food. Nothing bad to say about it. They have done some good updating which was badly needed. They do sell vacation club but they have those suites away from the hotel. The menus do have prices on them as those that are in the vacation club can come and dine they just have to pay. Plenty of meeting space. Recently they added a night club. Which I did go check out and it was dead but then again I went at 9pm. The staff was a lot of fun to talk to and learn more about what really rocks the place.

Letter #10, on the Prinsendam.

After leaving the Amazon River we headed north, crossed the Equator, weather hot with day time temps near 90, with the sun rise at 6:10 am and sun set at 6:15 pm. We get rain showers several times each day now, but they don’t last more than 30 minutes. On March 7th we arrive early morning at the island of Guadeloupe (a French Island) 8 of us hire a driver and spend almost 3 hours touring the island, seeing  waterfalls in the jungle and a fantastic beach over 2 miles long in addition to the city itself. At 12:45 pm we return to the ship, yes it rained again. On board at night we have “Pirates Night” and the dining room comes alive with a Pirate theme, the ship throws a theme party most every week to keep things lively aboard!

One more day at sea before we visit the island of Bridgetown on the island of Barbados; we have been at this island many times, and so we just go ashore for one hour and return to the ship. The following day March 8th we arrive early morning on the island of St. Maarten we are the smallest ship in size among the 8 other monsters ships at dock with us. The small city comes alive with ship passengers today and by 5:30pm all but one ship has returned to the sea heading to other ports in the Caribbean. We will be at sea for 2 days until finally reaching Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday and that will complete our 67 day sailing of the “Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage” for 2017. We sure had a great time with all our 32 Ensemble Travelers and all the other great passengers we have met on board the Holland America Prinsendam!

I hope you have enjoyed the blogs I wrote along the way.

Your sea reporter,

Glen Peters

Letter # 9 on the Prinsendam February 24,

Yesterday we entered the muddy waters of the Amazon River and dropped anchor in the anchorage area. We borded one of the ship’s tenders and spent 35 minutes to reach the city of Belem on the opposite side of the river, yes the river is that wide! At the entrance of the river is the Atlantic Ocean and at the mouth where they meet the river is 125 miles wide and fresh water extends over 100 miles out to the sea!

In the early morning it rained and currently it is extremely muggy, just standing still your body perspires. Most all the people on the ship’s tender head for the city market place. This market is huge and covers 3 or 4 city blocks. All along the river’s edge includes the fish market, vegetable market and dry goods stalls, plus live poultry stalls selling everything from baby ducklings, rabbits, chickens ranging from small eggs to fat chickens. We then move along to cooking utensils, from shiny pots and pans to huge serving trays. Whatever you want or think you need you can buy it at this open air market. After one hour of looking and perspiring I head back to the city pier and board the tender back to the ship and it’s air conditioning.

Our next stop on the Amazon River is the city of Santarem, a fair size city, this year we had a shuttle bus that took us into the far side of the city and a small shopping area just off the Main Street still adjacent to the river. Within 15 minutes we had enough; the heat and humidly were stifling, so we got the next shuttle and headed back to the pier and boarded the ship. Our clothes were dripping wet, and a cool shower was a life saver. I also had a swim in the ships pool. When the ship left just after 6pm for our next stop on the river at Boca Da Valeria, it was dark and large amounts of bugs were attracted to the ships lights. Over to public address system we were asked to close all drapes in our rooms and all outside lights were extinguished to cut down on the bug invasion.

The following morning we arrived at Boca Da Valeria and dropped the anchor in the river. This is a very small fishing village where all the children dress-up for our arrival in hopes we will take their pictures and they can request a dollar bill. Usually they are holding one of their captured pets, like parrots, 3 toad soothe, turtles or even a small harmless snake. At 3pm it starts to rain so we all return to the ship and raise the anchor to head further up river to the city of Manaus. This city is over 800 miles up the river and was first settled by rubber barons in the early days of rubber used to make rubber tires for cars and bicycles just after World War I.

We will be in Manaus for the better part of 2 days and lots of tours are available. We decide on the afternoon of the first day to leave the ship, board the shuttle that takes us to the drop off point, and walk to the city market place. Similarly to several prior days the weather is in the high 80’s with humidity in the 90% range, it isn’t long before we are soaking wet with sweat. Within 30 minutes we have had enough and walk back to the shuttle bus meeting place, then back to the ship to hit the showers. When the ship arrived in Manaus within one hour it is raining, I mean really raining! When it rains in the jungle and on the Amazon River the sky turns a light gray with rain so heavy you can not see more than a few feet in front of you, then within 30 minutes it clears and the sun returns. We have rain most every day and several days more than once or twice. But like the cruise director reminds all of us, we are in the jungle!

We spend the next 3 days retracing our direction and head back to the Atlantic Ocean, topping at 2 additional large towns on the river. On February 2nd, we cross the Equator for the last time on this cruise. King Neptune visits the ship and the ceremony with all the ships crew who has never crossed the equator before takes place at the large pool on deck 9. Our next port of call will be Devils Island just a few miles of the coast of South America. We are scheduled to arrive there and drop anchor just off shore on February 4th, which happens to be our anniversary.

Your sea reporter, for the 67 day sailing.

Glen Peters

AM Resorts are opening new resorts every year and Van Zile Travel’s Linda Tack is on site no matter the hotel to assess resort options for VZT’s travelers. Linda recently returned from Punta Cana Secrets Capa Cana adults only resort which hosts 457 graciously appointed rooms. In this entry Van Zile Travel shares her expertise and experience.

When you first arrive on the premise you immediately look down the long hotel lobby and become witness to the stunning blue waters and the near by lobby bar. You are greeted with a welcome beverage and a cold towel. Check in is easy and the rooms are ready by 3:00. I made my way down to the MArket Cafe where lunch is served. The variety was very good. Many different options ranging from sushi, roasted turkey, pizza, pasta, fresh fruit and lots of sweets.

After visiting the Market Cafe I checked into my room which was amazing! There was a four poster bed, double sinks in the bathroom, separate toilet and shower area in addition to an outdoor shower. There was a small issue with the shower inside, as the lip was not built high enough so the water would run out into the bathroom. House keeping kept on top of the issue. The room’s mini-bar was stocked nicely; water, beer, soda, Pringles and M and M’s were to be enjoyed.

I opened the patio to find that this was a swim out room. Wow! Swim out ocean front, spending a bit of extra money is well worth it. The beach is reasonably long to walk and the sand was firm. Yoga classes were done out on the sand and local vendors were kept at bay so there was no hassling you on the beach. The beach is well maintained and the chairs available did not sink into the sand.

Some elements of the resort to take note of are that reservations are not needed for restaurants with the exception of the tapini tables. The resort contains ample meeting space and the spa is definitely worth a visit if just to experience the pool facilities at the spa. The hotel also offers 7 restaurants, 6 bars and 24 hour room service and immaculately manicured grounds. The resort is only about 15 minutes from the airport which makes transfer time easy.

My next stop is a twenty five minute drive from the airport where AM Resorts has opened Now Onyx Family Resort which holds 502 suites. The resort does offer an adults only pool and swim up bar. The beach area is well kept and is comprised of soft brown sand. The resort would be a good option for casual events. 5 swimming pools, one of which is salt water, 2 tennis courts, a paddle court and casino can be found on the property. The have available meeting space up to 12, 347 square feet which is located at the Breathless property next door.

Rooms are set up with 2 sinks and a separate toilet and shower area. The resort also offers swim out rooms which are located on the preferred club side. Also available is a plunge pool, patio and lounge bed in addition to food and beverage service.

Dining abouts are plentiful, no reservations are needed unless dining at the tapini tables. Choices range across 9 restaurants, 7 bars and a Kids Club. After dinner there is a huge open air theater where shows occur every evening.

Like previously stated, next door to Now Onyx is the Breathless property. You can stay at either resort and play at both as an adult vacationer. Breathless is currently building the largest meeting space Punta Cana will have with 750 contemporary suites. The resort caters to adults with a small casino, 7 restaurants and 7 bars, in addition to a huge outdoor stage for entertainment. The night life is endless.

The rooms are very nice, fresh, updated and have i pads provided in the rooms to use while at the resort. Going along with the i pads are available local landlines, wi-fi and free international calls to the US and Canada.

AM resorts features some of the finest properties to be found in Punta Cana and if reading this Van Zile Travel report stirs any interest please do not hesitate to contact Van Zile for more details. Corporate travel, leisure travel or meetings and incentives, VZT is knowledgeable and practiced in the ins and outs of resorts all over the world.

Letter #8 On the Prinsendam

Today we are at sea, yesterday we left Salvador Da Bahia, and tomorrow morning we will arrive in Recife; all located in Brazil. Most of this morning and afternoon I spent setting in a lawn chair on deck 7 which is an open deck for people that want to walk all the way around the ship. As I sat I looked out onto the Atlantic Ocean about 11 degrees south of the Equator. The temperature in the mid 80’s with a light warm breeze; I’m looking out over deep blue water with a robin egg blue sky and fluffy white clouds, at this moment I feel…. Yes, life is good!

At 5pm we dress for the evening meal and at 5:30, the dining room is open with a 5 course selection. We finish the evening meal just about 7pm, go forward on the ship to the ocean bar where a 4 piece band is playing for listening and dancing pleasure. Then at just before 8 we take our seats in the main show room that seats 600 people for the evening’s performance.We have had a large variety of performers on this cruise too please most everyone’s taste.

On February 21 we arrive in Fortaleza, Brazil. We take the shuttle bus into the city and it rains all the way into our drop off point. We forgot to bring our rain gear, so we just stay on the coach and ride back to the pier and go back aboard. In one hour the rain stops so we re-board the free shuttle bus and go back into the city and visit the former jail which has now turned into a huge craft display area with numerous stalls. Fortaleza is large, with over 2 million people but it is very dirty with garbage and trash everywhere with graffiti on most all buildings. Within 2 hours we return to the pier and call it a day. On the 21st we enter the Amazon River and at our first port we will anchor in the river and take the ships tender boats ashore.

Your ship’s reporter,

Glen Peters


Letter # 7 on the Prinsendam.

February 13th,  We are two days at sea on our way to Rio, I thought I would say a little bit about what we do on sea days aboard the ship.

Today the sea is a little bumpy but no white caps. We get up around 8 am and head to the main dining room for breakfast; we enjoy lots of fresh fruit along with a host of items to select from the menu. The “daily navigator” sets out the entire days events. Starting at 10am is a talk on our upcoming ports of call, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza & Belem. Our shore staff Brett,  is very good and has lots of photos to show on the big screen. At 11am we have in the ocean bar a gal from Rio who will be teaching Samba. At 1noon lunch is served in 3 different venues. At 2pm we start our lecture series given by retired college professors and or noted speakers in their chosen profession, all lasting for 45 minutes. At 4 different times each sea day we have a computer teacher from Microsoft who gives training lessons all at no charge. Later in the day at 5pm we return to our state room and change clothes for our evening events.

Our dinner meal is served at 5:30pm and lasts for at least 90 minutes. Then at 8:00pm follows our evening entertainment in the showroom. We have had every kind of performers you could think of, from full stage productions to single performers. Then at 9pm several areas of the ship offers dance bands, to Classical music and every thing in between. By 10pm we are ready for our bed. Tomorrow, February 14th. is Valentines Day and we arrive in Rio and have our final special tour and lunch for our Ensemble group.

In Rio we meet our Ensemble step-on guide at the gangway; he leads us to the coach and in no time at all we are underway with 28 guests. The rest of our group decide to take the ships tours to see different sights that we will not be seeing. In just a few miles of driving we arrive at the Samba school where each Samba group construct their float and make their own costume for the 2017 parade. We see the huge float nearly complete we  are told each float cost several millions of dollars and are sponsored by corporations who pay the bill.

We next drive to the Botanical Gardens and have a walking tour of the lush gardens located in the heart of the city. Our walking tour lasts for just over one hour. Next, we are driven to the barbecue restaurant for our special meal. This is a huge establishment that can seat over 300 people at a time. We enjoy a salad bar with over 60 items to choose from. 10 minutes later waiters arrive at the tables with 13 different kinds of meats on skewers all meats are cooked to perfection, you just select the kind of meat you want to try and the weather slices it of the large skewer onto your plate. The waiters pass by the tables each offering a different kind of meat and they circle several times. When every one is completed 2 hours later we again board the coach and head back to the ship by way of the famous beaches, we arrive back to the ship a little after 3:20pm. A great day was had by all!

The following two days we are at sea heading north to our next port of call, with calm seas both days. Speaking of calm seas, we have not had a day so far with rough seas and have had day time temperatures in the 80’s.  On February 17th we arrive at Salvador Da Bahia. We spend the morning doing a little sight-seeing in this old city, best known for the early African slave trade many years ago. The ship will leave port at 10:30 pm and head back out to the open seas, on our way to Recife, still in Brazil.

Your sea reporter,

Glen peters

Letter # 6 aboard the Prinsendam,

Well, we get ashore in Port Stanley and visit the Penguin colony, but the weather was cold and very windy at the Penguin Rockery. It even started to hail, but we did get some good pictures. After sailing for 2 more days we reached our next port of call, Puerto Madryn in Argentina. We have never been to this small settlement before. Our tour today is 4 hours in duration and our first stop after driving at least 20 miles out of town is to visit a Sea Lion Reserve. The coach stops at a high bluff overlooking the sea below. We walk to the viewing spot and far below where we stand is at least 50 Sea Loins on a sheltering beach. Several more Sea lions swim to shore and drag their large bodies onto the sandy beach; we are told by our guide they weigh 300 lbs. or more.

Returning to the coach and our next stop is to a sheep farm. We are in a real barren land with only scrub brush as far as the eye can see. No houses or anything, even the road is just a path in the sand. We ride for at least 30 minutes and see nothing other that barren land and brush. Finally, in the distance we see several small buildings and some sheep and when we arrive we are greeted by the farm owner and a few farm hands. We are then ushered into the sheep barn and witness the sheering of a very large sheep and he doesn’t like it one bit! The farmer tells us all about the farm and how he works the land. We are taken to a large room and we all enjoy some fresh baked goodies and tea or coffee. Twenty minutes later we board the bus and return to the town and the ship.

We are at sea for the next two days before reaching our next port that being Montevideo, Uruguay. Today is February 8th.  For today we have selected a 4 hour tour entitled Montevideo highlights and tango at the alchemist’s castle home. Montevideo is a small country sandwiched between Argentina to the south and Argentina to the north. Our driver and step on guide drive us through the city and show us some of the cities highlights as well as passing several sandy beaches. When we arrived in port the tide was out and at least 400 feet of the beach was just sand, but when we returned to the ship 4 hours later tide had returned and very little of the sandy beach was visible.

On February 9th we arrived in Buenos Aires and we will be in this great city for an overnight stay. This city is known as the “Paris of South America” and it lives up to its name. Beautiful buildings wide 10 lane streets and parks scattered thought-out the city. 22 million people live in and around this city. Automobile and truck traffic clogs the streets from every direction. I believe even more-so than NYC. We have been in this city several times before so we selected a tour that takes us out of the city for a 40 mile ride to a famous working horse ranch to visit Gaucho’s life on the Pampas (farm). When we arrive we are treated with a local snack, a hot meat empanada. We then take our seats to witness a horse riding demonstration by the local Gaucho’s followed by each person being offered a ride on horse back or a buggy ride. Returning to the ranch house we are offered a cold drink of our choice, then we are taken to a large dining area where we enjoy a real Gaucho meal, including steaks, chicken, salads all kinds of drinks and a rich desert. This was followed by tango dancers, farm songs and a folkloric show. We return to the buses and enjoy the 40 mile ride back to the city and the ship. The next day most of the folks who went on this 8 hour tour just rested aboard the ship. Then at 4pm we set sail for the open ocean and on February 11th we arrive at our anchorage in Punta Del Este, Uruguay.

This is a resort city on the ocean with 100s of expensive boats in the protected harbor costing several million each. We have a 6 hour tour with lunch at this sea-side resort. This city is filled with really expensive homes and villas lining the sandy ocean beach front as well as high-rise condos. Our tour ends shortly after 6:00 pm and we return to the ship. For the next 2 days we will be headed to our next port, Rio De Janeiro on February 14th and our final Ensemble tour, stay tuned.

Your sea reporter,

Glen Peters

Sailing the Frozen Land #5

The ship made the final stop at the base of the Beagle Channel stopping at the lowest city on Earth, that being Ushuaia. We have been to this small city before and the thing we enjoyed the most was to ride the train to the end of the world. So we left the ship just after 9:00am, hired a taxi and he drove us to the train station about 10 miles out of town. We purchased our tickets and boarded our vintage rail car narrow gauge train that puffed its way on the 45 minute ride through the beautiful natural landmark of the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

The views were so picture perfect that we stayed on for the return trip back to the station. We shared a cab with two Russian ladies and returned back to the city and the ship. We then sailed all night, and the next morning we arrived at Cape Horn, the southern most part of the continent. We then continued sailing south for just under 15 hours until reaching Antarctica. This is a very barren landscape, temperature is 20 degrees, sunset is at 10:35pm and sunrise is at 4:38am. This is truly the “White Continent”. Snow and ice cover everything while tall mountains take your breath away with beauty.

We slow down to take on professionals from Palmer Station who spend 6 to 12 months at the station. They initiate a question and answer session to explain what they do at this frozen outpost. The session lasts for quite some time. The speakers enjoy the food and comfort aboard the ship,  while one of the ladies got her hair done some of the men got a real shave. At just after 9:35pm they all board their rubber boats and depart the ship and head back to their station. As a special bonus they take boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables with them.

We will be sailing in these waters for a total of 3 days. A great number of photos will be taken and the sea life consists of several different kinds of whales along with penguins and seals and various sea birds. This certainly is one of the highlights of this cruise for all aboard!

Next, we will be sailing North with our next scheduled stop being Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. After two days of ocean sailing we will be arriving on the 4th of February. We will have a 3 hour tour for visiting a penguin rookery. Hopefully we will be able to go ashore as Port Stanley has no dock so we have to tender to shore. If the wind is not cooperating we will not be able to launch the ships tenders, thus good bye Port Stanley.

Your sea reporter,


South America 67 day cruise #4

On January 27 we dropped anchor in the protected harbor of Robinson Crusoe. We have been at this island several times before, so we just take the ships tender to shore and look around. We visit 3 or 4 small shops then sit in the park and view the sorrowing mountain peaks. At 4 pm. we take the tender back aboard the ship. Shortly after 5 pm we are underway to our next port, that being Castro, Isla in Chile. Again we are at anchor we don’t have a tour in this town either so we just walk the main street and mingle with the local fishermen. We return to the ship in time for the noon time lunch. Did you know, Chili is the longest, thinnest country in the world?

Just a few minutes after 6 pm we pull up the anchor and head into the Chilean Fjords and will sail for 2 days, the scenery is some of the best  in the world. Our following port will be Punta Arenas, Chili by way of the Patagonian & Fuegian Channels. We arrive early morning to overcast skies and wind, the temperature is now just under 65 degrees. Today we do have a ship tour scheduled, we meet at 9:15am in the showroom and are shortly called down to the ships tenders to board. The ride to shore is just under a mile ride in; upon leaving the tender we go through the local customs building and proceed to board our 52 seat coach.

Our step-on guide tells us about this small city and about the tour we have selected. We pass through the downtown shops and are then driven to city overlook to view the entire city below us and the Straits of Magellan. When the early settlers moved to this area the Chilean government gave out to the well to do Europeans large blocks of land mostly 1000 acres of rocky mountainside barren land. One of these early settlers also brought 10 sheep on the boat. In 30 years he had over 25,000 sheep and in turn became a very rich man. Several families did prosper in this barren landscape and were richly rewarded for their efforts. Each built a European mansion in the city. These elegant homes are now historic homes and are open to the public.

Our final stop is to visit a sheep farmer’s ranch. We meet the farmer, enjoy a light snack and then are taken to his large barn to witness a sheep shearing demonstration! Each sheep is sheared once each year taking place in January or February. The farmer  also has sheep dogs and raises lamas. We soon say goodbye and head back to the pier.

The following two days we will be sailing south into the Magellan channel on our way to Cape Horn.

Your Sea Reporter,

Glen Peters


Posted by: vanziletravel | February 3, 2017

Simple Tricks for Saving Money When You Travel

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