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Editor’s Letter Flipping through old photo albums, it’s amazing to see just how many of those images show my family on vacation. We weren’t big on taking photos for other occasions, but during road trips, the cameras came out. There were plenty of shots of beautiful scenery – on the Rocky Mountains, Peggy’s Cove, a prairie sunset and a lobster dinner in Prince Edward Island. But the shots that stand out for me now are the capturing of the little moments, from me and my brother cuddling a barn cat to everyone gathered around a dining table and laughing hysterically at a joke long forgotten. MICHELE SPONAGLE EDITOR EDITOR@ENSEMBLETRAVEL.CA
I wish now that I had more of those kinds of photos from our travels together. My mom, brother, sister and father are gone now, so it is those photos I look to for bringing back happy memories of our times together. Most certainly, the holidays we enjoyed were the best of times. It underscores just how precious family time is and how important it is to carve out time from our busy schedules to put aside our hectic lives and take a break so we can reconnect. It takes just one person to plant the seed – “Let’s all go somewhere.” Then it’s a question of where should you go. The world is opening up again, giving us an array of choices. That’s where this issue of Ultimate Family Vacations comes into play. It is a rich source of ideas for where to go, what to expect, how destinations cater to families and what to do when you arrive. Whether you go by land, by sea or by air, we’ve got you covered with stories from writers who have already been there and done that, and now are keen to share their stories. Just a few highlights… Lisa Kadane talks about keeping her kids entertained as she cruised with them around the eastern Caribbean, while Chris Robinson writes about his family’s long-time tradition of taking a cruise somewhere in the world and lets us in on his secrets on how to arrange a successful trip for all. You’ll also find in this issue Chris Ryall’s thoughts on the cool things you can do in Copenhagen, where his daughter now lives, a look at the unmissable things to do in Maui from Sarah Etinas, a local Hawaiian, plus engaging activities in London to please a teenager with a mind for science, courtesy of Cathy Senecal. And if your family loves theme parks, Lucas Aykroyd points the way to noteworthy spots in Europe you’ll adore. In some ways, where you go doesn’t really matter as much as who you go with and the fun you’ll have together. As the last two years have taught us, life can be unpredictable, so go ahead and plan your family vacation today. It’s an investment of time and money that will pay off in the form of cherished memories for many, many years to come. Happy travels, Michele
Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
Ultimate Family Vacations 2021 6
Green on Scene Tips for choosing eco-friendly accommodations
Find Unexpected Thrills in Europe The continent’s most amazing theme parks
Ahoy, Matey! Meet friendly pirates in the Bahamas
How to Travel the Caribbean Successfully With Teenagers
The Dane Attraction Family fun and adventure in Denmark
Family Ties How a cruise vacation can bring together generations
Days of Fun in Maui A Hawaii local points the way to unmissable experiences
Best in Class How to spark a kid’s scientific mind in London
CREDITS PUBLISHER Ensemble Travel® Group CREATIVE DIRECTOR & MANAGING EDITOR Valérie Lenoir
SANDOS CARACOL ECO RESORT
MEET THE PIRATES OF NASSAU
RIDE AT PARC ASTÉRIX, NEAR PARIS
MUD BATH AFTERMATH IN ST. LUCIA
EDITOR Michele Sponagle PROOFREADER Isabelle Labrosse ADVERTISING Franca Iuele CONTRIBUTORS Lucas Aykroyd Bahamas Tourism Sarah Etinas Lisa Kadane Chris Robinson Chris Ryall Cathy Senecal Michele Sponagle Ellie Swain CREATIVE DESIGNER Bertrand Richer - Fleur de Lysée
KIDS ENJOYING THE CANAL IN NYHAVN
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COCOCAY IN THE BAHAMAS
ULULANI’S HAWAIIAN SHAVE ICE
RELAXING NEAR THE LONDON EYE
2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations
Green on Scene By Ellie Swain
Reusing towels and using energy-efficient light bulbs is no longer enough to make accommodations eco-friendly or ‘green.’ Fortunately, there are many properties who have stepped up their game and are embracing eco-friendly practices as part of the green trend.
DO THEY USE LOCAL SUPPLIERS?
Consider choosing an eco-friendly accommodation, not just to look after our planet but to help us set a good example to our kids, too. As the green travel industry grows, consider these questions when you book your accommodations for your next holiday getaway:
When it comes to food, drinks, toiletries and other items typically used in accommodations, does the hotel use local suppliers? Again, sourcing these items locally helps families in the region support themselves. This is especially important when visiting emerging countries that may struggle economically without support from the tourism industry.
WHERE IS THE WATER SOURCED FROM?
DO THEY RECYCLE?
While a nice swimming pool is always great for the kids to splash around in, if the hotel or resort is filled with decorative pools and fountains, think about where the water is coming from and if it’s draining local resources.
One of the easiest ways to practice sustainability is by recycling as much as possible. But on vacation, it can be more challenging to control where your waste goes, especially in countries that aren’t fully set up for recycling. Eco-friendly hotels will provide bins in rooms and lounge areas, and recycle food waste from their kitchen.
For example, some excellent eco-friendly hotels and accommodations do their part to conserve water by collecting rainwater to keep plants and lawns green, and using low-flow toilets. WHAT ABOUT ENERGY PRODUCTION? An interesting fact to know is how a hotel produces its energy because it affects nearly all the accommodation’s operations. Buildings that switch to alternative energy sources like solar power clearly make choices to impact the earth positively. 6
© SANDOS CARACOL ECO RESORT
Tips for choosing eco-friendly accommodations for the whole family
Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
DON’T BE SHY TO ASK QUESTIONS As we look forward to travelling together again, consider the green trend and find a hotel that the whole family can feel good about. Don’t be shy about asking your travel advisor questions. Any reputable eco-friendly accommodation should be able to offer answers and address any concerns.
Our Experts Suggest... 5 ECO-FRIENDLY STAYS YOU CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT There is no shortage of eco-minded hotels to choose from for your sun holiday. Here are a few to ponder: Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This pretty property ticks a lot of boxes for green practices. It has solar panels on-site, grows its own flowers in its greenhouse, composts food scraps for its gardens and is active in saving sea turtles. The Jamaica Inn Foundation helps support the Oracabessa Bay Turtle Project and the White River Fish Sanctuary.
EXPLORING NATURE AT SANDOS CARACOL ECO RESORT
© SANDOS CARACOL ECO RESORT
MANY HOTELS SUPPORT PROJECTS TO SAVE SEA TURTLES
Casa de Campo, La Romana, Dominican Republic. Guests love this property for its abundance of amenities. It continues to seek greener ways to incorporate into all of them, including electric golf carts for zipping around the expansive grounds, focusing on local ingredients in its restaurants and supporting a local reef and conservation project. Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico. Located in a private gated resort community, the property aims to preserve authenticity and protect the delicate ecosystem of the Mayan Riviera by limiting transport throughout the resort. Only boats, bikes, and electric golf carts are allowed on-site. Menus feature local, organic, and sustainable ingredients, many of which are sourced from area co-ops, fishermen and small producers. Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The resort uses sustainable energy such as solar power along with sophisticated water treatment to reduce both the carbon footprint and the impact to the surrounding environment. They also engage in a variety of initiatives designed to benefit the local community. As a guest, you can take part in these programs and learn more about the indigenous people of the region. The resort has also rescued many abused and neglected animals and acts as somewhat of a nature reserve (biosphere reserve) where endemic species can thrive and live free from poachers and exploitation.
LOCAL FARMS WORK WITH HOTELS IN THE DOMINICA REPUBLIC
© DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MINISTRY OF TOURISM
WIND TURBINES PROVIDE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
Bougainvillea Resort, Barbados. The property aims to encourage teamwork and solidarity in order to achieve the goal of sustainable tourism development within the community where it operates. Their strategic intent is “to work today to minimize any negative effect on the environment of Barbados and in the long term to ensure that our community improves through our involvement.”
2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations
By Lucas Aykroyd
Head to the Old World for your next family getaway to make new memories at the continent’s most amazing theme parks For North Americans, Disneyland and Universal Orlando are perennial family-friendly magnets, but even more fun and adventure awaits at European theme parks. From wild roller coaster rides and wacky encounters with famous cartoon characters to whimsical gardens and wonderful dining experiences, there’s something for all ages. Though Europe is known largely for art and culture, it also has some exciting theme parks families can enjoy together. FINLAND If you love the new Moominvalley cartoon TV series, which includes the voices of Taron Egerton and Kate Winslet, plan a summer visit to Moominworld. Situated on an island adjacent to Naantali, it immerses visitors in the surreal 8
Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
WELCOME TO MOOMINWORLD
storylines of the small, hippo-like creatures invented by Finnish children’s author Tove Jansson. Explore the turreted, blue Moomin House, watch Moomin stage plays at Theatre Emma, and savour the Peculiar Café’s freshly baked cinnamon buns. Hockey fans attending the 2022 IIHF World Hockey Championship next May can also compare the thrills of Taiga, Finland’s tallest (52 metres) and longest (1,104 metres) roller coaster, at Helsinki’s Linnanmäki, and Hype, the first triple-launch coaster for Nordic countries, at Tampere’s Särkänniemi.
FAMILY FUN AT PARC ASTÉRIX, FRANCE
© MOOMIN CHARACTERSTM THEME PARK CREATED BY DENNIS LIVSON
Find Unexpected Thrills In
FRANCE Did you know that more than 380 million Astérix comic books have been sold worldwide? Get into the indomitable little Gaulish warrior’s adventures at Parc Astérix, northeast of Paris. Tour a reconstruction of Astérix’s village and conjure up his magic potion-fueled battles with Romans and Vikings on Les Espions de César, a pedal-powered monorail, and Les Petits Drakkars, a dragon ship ride. Just outside Poitiers, the 1987-opened Futuroscope park abounds with 3D-cinema shows and fantastic experiences like Destination Mars, The Extraordinary Journey and Dances With Robots. GERMANY With more than 100 attractions, the Europa-Park, near the Swiss-French border, is Germany’s biggest theme park. An Iceland-themed area lures adrenaline junkies with the Blue Fire Megacoaster, a launched coaster featuring a 32-metrehigh vertical loop, and Wodan Timbur Coaster, a breathtaking odyssey guarded by Norse god statues. After watching a medieval jousting tournament, devour roast chicken or mushroom ragout with bread dumplings at the Seehaus restaurant. At the Cologne-area Phantasialand, the new, immersive Rookburgh – a steampunk-inspired fantasy city – is generating serious buzz with F.L.Y., the world’s longest flying coaster at 1,236 metres. NETHERLANDS Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2022, Efteling stimulates your imagination with its Fairytale Forest, Haunted Castle, and Max & Moritz roller coaster. One big draw is the 2017-built Symbolica, a trackless dark ride where passengers explore a king’s palace, brimming with wizardry and music, brought
to life with cutting-edge animatronics. Efteling is the largest theme park in the Netherlands. SPAIN Billed as Europe’s fastest roller coaster, Red Force – the signature attraction at PortAventura World’s Ferrari Land – gets thrill-seekers up to 180 kilometres an hour in just five seconds. Other can’t-miss coasters include Dragon Khan and Shambhala. This bustling theme park near Barcelona also boasts the 50,000-square-metre Caribe Aquatic Park with sensational waterslides for all ages. In the Tabernas Desert near Almeria, the Oasys MiniHollywood theme park captivates fans of cowboy movies. Director Sergio Leone chose the location to film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and other 1960s “spaghetti westerns” starring Clint Eastwood on this purpose-built set. Today, watch thrilling live cowboy shows, or head to the zoological reserve with 200 different animal species, or hang out around the aquatic zone and its water slides – a favourite among youngsters, and view more than 250 varieties of cacti. UNITED KINGDOM Alton Towers, one hour north of Birmingham, recently introduced Gangsta Granny: The Ride, a comical 4D adventure where you try to steal the Crown jewels. It’s one of more than 40 rides and attractions here, ranging from children’s faves like Cuckoo Cars Driving School and Peter Rabbit Hippity-Hop to darker fare like the Wicker Man roller coaster and the Alton Towers Dungeon. In Greater London, Chessington World of Adventures debuted Croc Drop in 2021. This shriek-inducing drop tower sends you plunging 25 metres into the jaws of a humongous crocodile, inspired by the Egyptian god Sobek. Prefer real wildlife? The award-winning on-site zoo includes gorillas, Humboldt penguins and Amur tigers.
PORTAVENTURA ENTERTAINMENT, S.A.U
ALL-AGES FUN AT CARIBE AQUATIC PARK
WODAN TIMBUR COASTER AT EUROPA-PARK
VISIT SYMBOLICA, AN ENCHANTING PALACE OF FANTASY
LES PETITS DRAKKARS, A DRAGON SHIP RIDE AT PARC ASTÉRIX
By Bahamas Tourism & Michele Sponagle
Take a trip back in time to meet friendly, swashbuckling pirates at a new interactive museum in the Bahamas Not many places are as steeped in pirate lore as the Caribbean, especially the Bahamas. In the 1600s, it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see a pirate ship illegally docked on its shores. It’s a fascinating chapter in history, which still captivates adults and children. Whether you believe the legend of the Kraken, appreciate Johnny Depp’s eyeliner and swagger from his Pirates of the Caribbean films or get a thrill out of spooky peg-legged pirate tales, it’s always riveting to hear legendary pirate stories. While highseas swashbuckling is now thankfully relegated to the silver screen, you can step back in time to 1716 by visiting the new Pirates of the Nassau Museum. It honours the history of Bahamas and the colourful pirate personalities who played a part in it. Experience life as an actual pirate and grow your 10 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
© THE BAHAMAS MINISTRY OF TOURISM AND AVIATION
HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS FOR YOUR STAY IN THE BAHAMAS
knowledge of pirates through exhibits and interactive opportunities, like Blackbeard’s Escape Room.
inquisitive and have a blast searching for buried treasures. You never know what you might find.
When looking at Caribbean lore, you can’t miss the legacy of pirates, their hidden treasure and perilous shipwrecks. They are infamous villains, who have been romanticized through movies and books despite their dastardly deeds. The golden age of piracy in the Bahamas took place in the late 1600s and early 1700s, when it was a hot bed for their dubious antics.
The next time you visit the islands of the Bahamas, be sure to keep an eye out for lost gems or visit the pirate museum to board a battered barge for a treacherous voyage to the 17th century, when rowdy scoundrels and ruthless corsairs wreaked havoc on seaport towns.
One of history’s most notorious pirates, Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard, based his exploits in the Bahamas. The relatively shallow water of the Bahamas and proximity to 700 islands made this location a perfect hideout spot for these pirates and their treasures. There are still rumours flying around the island regarding a hidden treasure buried on Cat Island by British pirate William Catt. The next time you are there, get
It's all hands on deck for this fun family activity that will transport you back to the golden age of Pirates in the Bahamas
Seeking a great beach guaranteed pirate-free? Cable Beach is a stunning one you’ll want to explore. Book a room at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, a traveller favourite because it offers a ton of great amenities, ideal when you’re travelling with a group with varying interests and ages. It features a casino, a spa, a fitness centre, the Royal Blue Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a racquet club for tennis enthusiasts, 20 restaurants and seven pools, as well as 11 bars and lounges. Boredom is not an option. If you’re staying for a while and perhaps skipping out on a Canadian winter, The Reef at Atlantis on Paradise Island is a prime spot, thanks to its one-, two- and three-bedroom suites equipped with kitchenettes or full kitchens, plus extras that will make it feel like a home away from home. Its sister property, The Cove at Atlantis, is an allsuite hotel with ocean views and an exclusive, adults-only pool for maximum relaxation. For those craving a taste of authentic Bahamian culture, SLS Baha Mar is a popular spot for vacationers. It has a reputation for dynamic nightlife, tasty island cuisine with more than two dozen places to eat and drink, and some of the best cocktails around. Golfers, water sports enthusiasts and spa lovers appreciate it, too, for its stellar amenities.
IMAGES ARE COURTESY OF NASSAU PARADISE ISLAND UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE
2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations
How to Travel the Caribbean Successfully With
TEENAGERS By Lisa Kadane
The golden ticket for a great trip for youths means having limited Wi-Fi, an unlimited buffet and a full slate of awesome activities Before our family flew to Puerto Rico to catch a weeklong cruise around the Caribbean Sea’s southern islands, we believed the cruise portion of our twoweek holiday would come in second to the time spent exploring Puerto Rico post-cruise. Family friends who were joining us – and bringing their own two adolescents – agreed. All four teenagers rolled their eyes at the mention of the ship’s ‘Teen Club’ and went back to staring at their phones. But something marvellous happens when we board the ship in San Juan. Without Wi-Fi access (we refuse to pay the high daily rate), the kids soon discover the swimming pool, all-you-can-eat buffet, 24/7 ice cream machine and gym. And when the ship arrives in port, we disembark for teen-approved shore excursions. With no digital distractions and full bellies, the teenagers are totally down to swim, snorkel, take a mud bath and kayak their way around the Caribbean. Here are our top picks for what to do on each island to keep your minors maximally engaged. IMMERSE IN ST. LUCIA’S VOLCANIC MUD BATHS At Sulphur Springs in St. Lucia, plumes of steam rise from vents in the ground at the base of the dormant Soufrière volcano. Despite the prehistoric setting, it still takes a bit of convincing to get four teenagers to voluntarily submerge in hot muddy water. Once they’re immersed in the brown sulphurous morass, they revel in the calming and therapeutic experience. (Truthfully, we’d sold the excursion as a ‘hot springs’ visit rather than a ‘mud bath’ soak.)
Take the plunge in St. Lucia’s fountain of youth.
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AFTERMATH OF THE MUD BATH, SULPHUR SPRINGS, ST. LUCIA
© BLAKE FORD
When we finally emerge, the real fun begins. We decorate each others’ exposed skin with muddy hand prints, war stripes and Jackson Pollock-inspired splatters, before rinsing off beneath a nearby
STINGRAY CITY AND SNORKEL EXCURSION
waterfall. Afterwards, everyone’s skin is smooth and flawless and we swear yesterday’s sunburn has been soothed by the healing mineral water. SWIM WITH STINGRAYS IN ANTIGUA An excursion to Stingray City, just a 30-minute drive from St. John’s, is a highlight on Antigua. There, in the middle of a shallow pool of turquoise water on the island’s northeast coast, 30 to 40 southern stingrays swim around tourists daily searching for food. Tour guides show us how to pet their silky mud-brown backs and my 15-year-old daughter holds one in her arms in a ray embrace before feeding it a piece of squid. She stays in the water for over an hour, never tiring of interacting with the gentle creatures. The high from the stingray encounter lasts the rest of the day as we visit Devil’s Bridge National Park to see a natural rock arch and Betty’s Hope, a former sugar plantation.
GO UNDERGROUND IN BARBADOS Stalactites hang from the ceiling and flowstone appears to pour down the walls deep in Harrison’s Cave on Barbados. The enormous limestone cavern is part of a cave system stretching underground for more than two kilometres beneath the jungle in the middle of the Caribbean’s easternmost island. On a tram tour, you can see fragile rock formations that grow a tiny bit every year, plus trickling streams and deep pools of clear water. It’s kind of like the Indiana Jones Adventure ride at Disneyland – minus the snakes and special effects – a comparison most teens will get behind. Plus, you can get off the tram in a couple of spots for photo ops. SNORKEL THE VIRGIN ISLANDS’ BEST BEACHES The tiny islands of Tortola and St. Thomas, part of the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, respectively, look like picture-perfect
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UNDERGROUND AT HARRISON’S CAVE IN BARBADOS
© DISCOVER PUERTO RICO
Discover the Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques, the brightest bio bay around the world
GET GLOWING IN MOSQUITO BAY, PUERTO RICO
postcards – their pristine white sand beaches fringed with swaying palms beckon sunbathers and snorkellers like a fever dream. Because teenagers really do love lazy beach days, our goal is to show them the best. On Tortola, we take an open-air taxi to Smuggler’s Cove, located at the west end of the island. The curaçao-coloured bay entices the teens into the water while the competing drink shacks serve cold beer and rum cocktails to the adults. At Coki Beach on St. Thomas, we wade into calm, clear water teeming with yellow and blue angelfish, rainbow-hued parrotfish and iridescent triggerfish. My 13-year-old son marvels as they boldly nibble his fingers, while our daughter dons a mask and snorkel to watch the fish dart around the offshore reef. KAYAK PUERTO RICO’S MOST FAMOUS BIOLUMINESCENT BAY After the cruise, we spend a few days on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, a stay that culminates with a nighttime
paddle on Mosquito Bay. A local tour company drives us to the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay where we board glass-bottom double kayaks. As we glide into the middle of the protected cove under a new moon, each dip of the paddle agitates the tiny dinoflagellates that thrive in the water. They light up like fireflies and then go dark. “It’s like stardust!” says our friends’ son, scooping up a handful of glowing blueish-white water, only for it to disappear when he lifts his palm above the surface. My daughter and I splash our paddles to see the pyrotechnic effect and watch the luminous water pass beneath our kayak as though we’re hitting warp speed in outer space. The spellbinding experience caps off what the teens agree has been a memorable vacation. Though they go back to their old habits when we’re reunited with Wi-Fi, a two-week digital detox definitely encourages family bonding on the land and in the water.
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© LISA KADANE
SWARMED BY TROPICAL FISH AT COKI BEACH, ST. THOMAS
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The Dane Attraction By Chris Ryall
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KIDS ENJOYING NYHAVN AND THE CANAL
© VISIT COPENHAGEN
Ride the wave to family fun and adventure in Denmark
Caitlyn, a long-time fan of Danish design, sought out a university internship in Copenhagen. Her Canadian boyfriend moved there as well. After Caitlyn’s graduation, they decided to make the city home. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times with other family members and getting to know Denmark. As I have discovered during those visits, the country offers activities the whole family enjoys without kids retreating to their smartphone universe. Here is
SURF’S UP IN “COLD HAWAII” There’s no lei upon arrival on Denmark’s northwest coast, known as “Cold Hawaii,” an area with 31 registered surf spots. Waves of the cooler kind will greet you. Klitmøller is the capital of Cold Hawaii and northern Europe’s biggest surf destination. Families can sign up at Cold Hawaii Surf Camp, learn proper technique, don a wetsuit and get stoked surfing the waves. Soak up the surf culture while enjoying a taste of village life in towns along the coast. Warning – embarrassing photos or videos of parents falling off the surfboard may be taken and later be seen on your child’s Instagram or TikTok account.
FOREST TOWER AT CAMP ADVENTURE
EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN FAIRY TALE WITH HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
© DANIEL VILLADSEN
My two children presented such challenges. My daughter, Caitlyn, gravitated towards art and cultural activities while my son, Scott, relished getting his heart rate up and engaging in sports and all kinds of physical activities.
a range of activities and attractions sure to entertain and engage while showcasing Danish culture.
Hans Christian Andersen’s presence in Denmark continues to live on through many books, poems and fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid LILLE LANGEBRO CYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE
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SURFING LESSON IN LØKKEN
© VISIT COPENHAGEN
Family vacations present golden opportunities in forging more meaningful relationships and creating fond lifelong memories. Things however can go south quickly without planning (your knowledgeable travel advisor can help) and input from all family members so it doesn’t result in the wrong kind of holiday fireworks.
© VISIT COPENHAGEN/DANIEL RASMUSSEN
Everywhere in Denmark, there are small wonders waiting to turn your visit into something quite unforgettable
2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations
and The Ugly Duckling. Create your own story following in Andersen’s footsteps and visit the recently opened Hans Christian Andersen House in the 18th-century town of Odense where he spent his childhood. The property also features an underground museum and Magical Garden. You can visit the same castles he did, including the 450-year-old Egeskov Castle with its garden mazes and the Kronborg Castle where you can explore underneath the creepy cellars and come upon a sleepy Andersen statue. Strike a pose in front of The Little Mermaid, the country’s most famous statue. FAMILY AMUSEMENT AT LEGOLAND & TIVOLI GARDENS Where can you find architecture, design, creativity and fun all in one place? Visit the original LEGOLAND in Billund and be mesmerized by more than 20 million LEGO bricks in Miniland, featuring well-known world landmarks. In Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens has been an international attraction for all ages since 1843. The fairy tale-style architecture, lush gardens, light shows and rides, including its 1914 roller coaster, are sure to entertain everyone. Tivoli Gardens and LEGOLAND provide the picturesque setting and building blocks for family fun and adventure. COPENHAGEN’S CANAL PLEASURES
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© VISIT DENMARK
Copenhagen doesn’t take a backseat to Venice when it comes to canals or scenery. Rent a GoBoat, a solar-powered motorboat with a built-in picnic table. Buy sandwiches, pastries and drinks beforehand and bring them on board while exploring the Nyhavn canal and old port district,
© VISIT COPENHAGEN
SWIM AT ONE OF THE HARBOUR’S BATHING SPOTS
featuring 17th- and early 18th-century townhouses and numerous cafés, restaurants and ice cream shops, too. For something completely different, rent a hot tub boat with CopenHot and melt away your stresses while enjoying the harbour views or have a family swim at one of the harbour’s bathing spots. FRIENDLY FOREST GIANTS Who doesn’t like a treasure hunt? There is no buried treasure but the challenge is there – finding six Forgotten Giants scattered around Copenhagen’s forests and meadows. Forests aren’t just home to giants. They’re home to Denmark’s newest landmark, the Forest Tower at Camp Adventure. The 45-metre-tall spiral tower offers incredibly scenic views across South Zealand. Camp Adventure’s climbing park, with tree-top courses of varying levels and Denmark’s longest cable car ride, is family and forest-friendly. THIS SNAKE DOESN’T BITE You can’t visit Denmark without hopping on a bike. Cyclists rule the road here. Combine a family outing while experiencing Denmark’s culture. Copenhagen’s iconic cycle bridge, the Bicycle Snake, winds its way across the harbour and connects the city on its scenic path. Throughout the country, paths lead you to seaside vistas, countryside forests, coastal fishing villages and city streets. Finish the trip on H.C. Andersens Boulevard in Copenhagen and make it a perfect storybook ending to a family vacation.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN MUSEUM IN ODENSE
© VISIT DENMARK
© JESPER GRØNNEMARK
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$49 All travel dates excluding December 19, 2021 – January 7, 2022 $69 For travel between December 19, 2021 and January 7, 2022
Protect your vacation and ask your Travel Agent about our Travel Protection Plan at the time of booking.
The WestJet Vacations Travel Protection Plan (the “Plan”) must be purchased at the time of booking by all guests sharing a room accommodation and is non-refundable. Only applicable to new vacation packages and land-only bookings made after August 4, 2020, for travel after August 5, 2020, to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Applicable to new vacation packages and land-only bookings made after September 12, 2021, for travel after September 13, 2021, to destinations in Canada and the United States. The Plan is not applicable to group bookings, Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms: If a hurricane or tropical storm travel advisory is issued for a guest's origin or destination on their travel dates, a guest may change or cancel their reservation at any time before the first scheduled flight and no change or cancellation fee will be charged. For hurricane or tropical storm date changes, all travel must be completed within one year and the package value must be the same; if the value of the new package increases, the difference in price must be collected from the guest. For hurricane or tropical storm cancellations, the full value of your vacation package is refunded to WestJet dollars. WestJet dollars expire one year from the date of issuance. 1One-time Change Fee Waived: Changes to departure dates, destinations, room categories or occupancy can be made up until three (3) days before departure for destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, and seven (7) days before departure for destinations in Canada and the United States, subject to hotel and flight availability; changes to the hotel are not permitted. If the change(s) results in an increase to the vacation package or land-only booking price, the difference in price must be collected from the guest; no refund is issued if the new price is lower than the original price, and for clarity, the balance is forfeited by the guest. More than one change can be completed within the same phone call for no change fee. 2One-time Free Name Change: Name changes can be made up until seven (7) days prior to departure. More than one name change can be completed within the same phone call for no fee. 3Cancellation Fee Waived: Cancellations will be accepted 25 days or more before departure on vacation packages, or before the first hotel's check-in on land-only bookings, and the booking price will be refunded back to the original form of payment4. Cancellations made 24 - 21 days before departure on vacation packages, or before the first hotel's check-in on land-only bookings, will result in a 50% refund to original form of payment and 50% refund to WestJet dollars. Cancellations made 20 days to 24 hours before departure for destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, and 20 days to seven (7) days before departure for destinations in Canada and the United States, will result in 100% refund to WestJet dollars; no refunds or WestJet dollar credits for bookings cancelled less than 24 hours before departure for destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, or less than seven (7) days before departure for destinations in Canada and the United States. Car rentals, private transfers, excursions, theme park tickets and other attractions are non-refundable. In case of cancellation, WestJet dollars issued can only be applied towards a new vacation package after a 15-day waiting period. To change or cancel your vacation, please contact your travel agent. Offer is subject to change without notice.
FAMILY TIES By Chris Robinson
20 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
SOAKING UP THE FUN AT COCOCAY IN THE BAHAMAS
© ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
How a cruise vacation can bring together generations in one place and create memories of a lifetime
In 1938, my parents were married on Christmas Eve. Sixty years later, they were in their eighties and with 15 children and grandchildren scattered across the globe. They decided to celebrate their diamond anniversary by bringing the family together for a special week over the Christmas holiday. A Caribbean cruise proved to be the perfect way to do it. Five years later, we found ourselves on another Caribbean cruise together, this time with a newly born fourth generation, celebrating my parents’ blue sapphire (65th) anniversary. Our family had grown and was even more global, so the gathering was yet more wonderful. The bonding of the generations was simply magical. That cruise was the last time we were all together, as my parents passed away three years later. But their precious gift of family reunions lives on. Every five years, we have reunited for a family cruise vacation. Our group has grown to 26 as new generations are born and partners are added. Each time, attendance has been 100 per cent, even though we now live far apart in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, Switzerland and Singapore. We have visited 20 countries over the years, providing a heady mix of memories made in so many wonderful places. Diving in Roatán. Exploring Mayan temples. Swimming with stingrays. Viewing cloud-wreathed volcanos in Dominica. Many of the most unforgettable moments have been family times that would never have happened otherwise. Experiencing a loud and colourful Sunday morning church
EXPLORE MAYAN TEMPLES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LOCAL CULTURE
© ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
A MEMORABLE SWIM WITH STINGRAYS
service on Antigua with my Mom and Dad. Taking over a fisherman’s beach restaurant in Mexico for a lunch that extended into the evening. A family concert at the cruise ship’s karaoke bar. Dinners afloat when we solved all the world’s problems over cocktails. We didn’t need the pandemic to teach us the importance of sharing travel time with our global family. Two wise old souls taught us that in a previous century. And when we all meet again for our next cruise together, we will raise our glasses to a tradition that just gets better every time – and to the romantic couple who married on Christmas Eve long ago and who surely watch over each successive reunion. JOYS OF FAMILY CRUISING Cruise vacations are perfect for larger family gatherings. Home ports in the U.S. and the Caribbean are convenient hubs for family members who may be flying in from different locations. (We have used Florida, California, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Mexico as bases.) The major cruise lines are experts at catering to extended families. (We have had positive experiences with both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.) Cabin accommodations are flexible for all sorts of family units and budgets. Our family has used balcony suites where the matriarchs and patriarchs can hold court, to inside cabins with additional bunk beds for the young families. Onboard facilities cater to all age groups, with kids’ clubs, piano bars, climbing walls, casinos and more. Cruise ships
© CHRIS ROBINSON
WRITER CHRIS ROBINSON AND HIS FAMILY
2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations
have space in their restaurants, bars and common areas to accommodate large groups together – and enough room to escape for anyone needing some alone time. Our family groups have ranged from babies a few months old to age 90. And it’s an opportunity for the older generation to literally pay it forward to the younger generations who may have more pressing financial priorities. MAKING IT HAPPEN
CUISINE TO PLEASE EVERY PALATE
22 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
© NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Here are some tips on organizing a successful extended family cruise vacation. First of all, plan early. It can be challenging to gain consensus about timing and destinations, so start a couple of years ahead of time when the cruise lines publish their new itineraries. Ensure all family members
© NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
participate in this initial planning phase, so everyone feels ownership of the vacation. Next, engage with your trusted travel advisor, who will be able to pull together diverse flights, recommend the optimum cruise line and cabin needs, identify any applicable group discounts, and finally, book all the arrangements in one neat package. Having an expert coordinate all the many options will ensure that no single family member has to bear all the work involved. Excursions in the ports of call enable you to fully experience the places visited on a cruise, but ship excursions can be expensive. Your large group can also consider personally arranged, exclusive, tailored trips for all, as well as smaller trips reflecting individual interests. Again, your travel advisor will be able to help select and book the best, most cost effective trips for your group. It is always a good idea to build in some pre-cruise time around the home port. Arriving a day or two ahead gives everyone a chance to meet up in advance, shake off any jet lag accumulated (especially if there are family members flying in from other continents) and lessens the risk of missing the cruise departure because of flight delays. It means that you can relax and maximize your time together, from that first thrilling walk up the gangplank to the last sunset cocktail on the final evening.
MINI SUITE ON NORWEGIAN BLISS
© NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES DELIVER THRILLS
© ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
LET YOUR INNER CHILD EMERGE
YOUR VILLA AWAITS
As countries start their slow reopenings, our wanderlust and desire to venture beyond our immediate neighbourhoods will grow, too. Yet, we still must be hyper-conscious of the current situation. With enhanced safety and health measures, thoroughly trained cleaning staff, distanced group arrivals, sanitization packages and more, renting a villa is an ideal option to enjoy an intimate vacation with your family, safely away from the crowds. For more information about the various cleanliness and safety protocols, or to book a stay at one of these villas, contact your trusted travel advisor who is always there for you – before, during and after your travels.
Creating one-of-a-kind getaways and lasting memories at the world's top luxury villas
North America Retreats
There’s no need to travel far for the getaway of your dreams! With everything from mountain retreats in British Columbia to family-friendly vacations in Florida, we’re guaranteed to have the perfect villa for you. A one-of-a-kind getaway may only be a short flight (or drive) away.
Our portfolio of more than 1,200 luxury villas encompasses the very best of the Caribbean with properties from St. Martin to Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, and beyond. Whether you’re looking for a one-bedroom couple’s retreat or a sprawling seaside estate for the whole family, we have it all.
Luxury Villa Rentals in Over 50 Countries Worldwide With over 2,000 luxury villas worldwide, we offer a taste of luxury, wherever you go. From the cerulean seas of Southeast Asia to the old-world elegance of Europe – there's a destination waiting to be discovered.
To Learn More, Ask Your Trusted Travel Advisor
Days of Fun in MAUI By Sarah Etinas
BLACK SAND BEACH
Maui is regarded as one of the best vacation destinations in the world. With sunny beaches, fantastic snorkelling and the exciting road to Hana, it is an amazing destination, especially for families, whether you’d like to spend your time relaxing or adventuring. As a resident of the neighbouring island of Oahu, my family and I have made many trips to Maui. I began visiting with my parents when I was just six years old. Ever since then, we’ve visited regularly. In other words, most activities on itinerary below have been tested and approved by yours truly. CHILL BY THE POOL OR AT THE BEACH After the lengthy flight to Hawaii, you may want to take things slow on your first day. Simply check into a lovely hotel, like Grand Wailea. With its oceanfront location and top-notch service, you’ll immediately feel like you’re in paradise. 24 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
GRAND WAILEA MAUI, A WALDORF ASTORIA RESORT
© HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / TOR JOHNSON
Spend your Hawaiian vacation exploring everything from black sand beaches to a farm with friendly goats
Watch the world’s only water elevator at the Grand Wailea Resort Once you settle into your Hawaiian-styled room, head to the pool to try out the dozen thrilling water slides. Bonus: instead of climbing back up the stairs for repeat rides, take the world’s only water elevator back to the top. If you like, you can combine your pool day with a beach day. After all, Makena Beach, a.k.a. Big Beach, is just 10 minutes
away. While there, you and your youngsters can swim, enjoy the sun and build sandcastles to your hearts’ content. HEAD TO HALEAKALA Despite a restful day, you and your family might still feel jetlagged, but that doesn’t need to be a disadvantage. Use your early wake-up time to enjoy sunrise on Haleakala, the tallest peak on Maui. Once you’ve watched the pastel colours paint the sky, make your way back down the mountain for a visit to Alii Kula Lavender. This lovely farm boasts picture-perfect lavender fields, exotic flowers and tasty lavender-infused treats, like scones, tea and honey. You’ll also want to check out Surfing Goat Dairy, where your kids can say hello to the friendly goats, take a tour, and buy some delicious goat milk cheeses.
© HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / BEN ONO
TIME FOR ULULANI’S HAWAIIAN SHAVE ICE
© HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / LUC DELAMARE
ENJOY A SNORKELLING EXCURSION TO MOLOKINI
GO SNORKELLING Dedicate some time for a snorkelling excursion to Molokini, a small crescent-shaped island off the coast of Maui, known for its colourful coral, spiky sea urchins and friendly fish. If you’re lucky, you may see Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Molokini is very kid-friendly since it’s protected from large swells and many of the commercial boats have lifeguards present to help protect guests. ROAD TO HANA The road to Hana with its 600 turns may be the most famous activity on Maui. This experience is all about the journey, not the destination. To fit in all the neat stops along the way, get started early and don’t forget to fill up on gas in Paia. The first stop worth your time is Twin Falls. Getting there is an easy hike, so it’s suitable for kids of all ages. When you reach FRESH BANANA BREAD AVAILABLE ALONG THE ROAD TO HANA
© HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / TOMMY LUNDBERG
© HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / TOR JOHNSON
PLAYING IN THE WAVES
© ALII KULA LAVENDER FARM
the end of the trail, which takes about two or three hours, you’ll be rewarded with views of two gorgeous waterfalls. By the midpoint in your journey, you may need a snack. Luckily, there is a fantastic snack stop on Keanae Peninsula – Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread, known for having the best banana bread on Maui. Buy a loaf or two for the road. The final stop before you reach Hana is Waianapanapa State Park, a lovely spot with sea caves, ancient Hawaiian temples, lava tubes and a black sand beach. (Make sure the kids put on footwear since the sand can get very hot.) Just a couple of kilometres further, you’ll finally reach the sleepy town of Hana, where you stay the night in a hotel, camp and explore the coastline. 26 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
STATE FISH OF HAWAII, HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUAA (REEF TRIGGERFISH)
© GRAND WAILEA MAUI
SAY HELLO TO THE FRIENDLY RESIDENTS OF SURFING GOAT DAIRY
© HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / DAEJA FALLAS
DAYBREAK SUNSHINE AT ALII KULA LAVENDER FARM
EXPLORE THE WEST SIDE Lahaina is a popular town for shopping and strolling on Front Street. If there’s just one shop you have to visit, it’s Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. Thanks to its natural fruit syrups and smooth ice texture, this local company boasts the best shave ice in the state. Before you return home, enjoy a luau, one of the coolest Hawaiian traditions. The Old Lahaina Luau is widely known as the best on the island because of its authenticity, from its cuisine to the talented hula dancers and death-defying fire dancers. It’s the perfect blend of culture and entertainment.
SEE ALASKA WITH THE BEST SEE ALASKA WITH THE BEST
Have you been dreaming of visiting the Great Land? Trust the cruise line voted Best in Alaska. With more itineraries that include Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve than any other cruise line, you can Have you been dreaming of visiting the Great Land? Trust the cruise experience the Alaska of your dreams. Extend your adventure to line voted Best in Alaska. With more itineraries that include Glacier our own McKinley Chalet Resort where you can then retrace the Bay National Park & Preserve than any other cruise line, you can Klondike Gold Rush to Dawson City with our exclusive access to experience the Alaska of your dreams. Extend your adventure to the Yukon. We’ve shown guests the majesty of Alaska for nearly our own McKinley Chalet Resort where you can then retrace the 75 years, and we’d love to show you as well. Klondike Gold Rush to Dawson City with our exclusive access to the Yukon. We’ve shown guests the majesty of Alaska for nearly 75 years, and we’d love to show you as well.
Now you can Have It All with our best amenities included in your fare: * Shore Excursions, Now Drinkyou Package, Specialty can Have It All Dining and Wi-Fi! with our best amenities included in your fare: Shore Excursions, Drink Package, Specialty Dining and Wi-Fi!*
AFAR Travelers’ Awards 2020 PORTHOLE Best Alaska Itineraries 2020 AFAR Travelers’ Awards 20202020 TRAVEL AGE WEST Wave Awards PORTHOLE Best Alaska Itineraries 2020 CRUISE CRITIC Cruisers’ Choice 2019 TRAVEL AGE WEST Wave Awards 2020 CRUISE CRITIC Cruisers’ Choice 2019
*Have It All fares available on cruises 6 days or more, excluding Grand Voyages. Restrictions apply, see hollandamerica.com for details. Holland America Line cruises departing through December 31, 2021, are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved *Have It All fares available on cruises days to orthe more, excluding Grand Voyages. Restrictions COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days6prior beginning of the cruise and have proof apply, see hollandamerica.com for details. Holland America Line departing will through of vaccination; details at hollandamerica.com. Requirements forcruises 2022 itineraries be December 31, are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved announced as2021, available. Consult https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/covid-4/coronavirusCOVID-19 leastCDC 14 days prior to the beginning of the and have proof cruise-shipvaccine for the at latest cruise travel advice, warnings andcruise recommendations. of vaccination; details at hollandamerica.com. Ships’ Registry: TheRequirements Netherlands. for 2022 itineraries will be announced as available. Consult https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/covid-4/coronaviruscruise-ship for the latest CDC cruise travel advice, warnings and recommendations. Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands.
Best in CLASS By Cathy Senecal
28 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
RELAXING NEAR THE LONDON EYE
© VISITBRITAIN/CLARE FISHER
How to spark a kid’s scientific mind in London
On a trip with Jasper, when he was 16, he chose places, such as the Science Museum and Tower Bridge, because he was keen on understanding how things worked. We added outdoor activities for a balance of seeing and doing. Read on for these and more ways to spark the interest of a teenager with a scientific mind.
© VISIT BRITAIN/MALCOLM GRIFFITHS
Being together with family in a new place changes the focus, wonderfully and necessarily, from tasks at home to new memories elsewhere. If your family includes older kids, London delivers with so many things to see and do. You can further narrow your focus to expose your teen and preteen to music or drama or, in my teen’s case, science.
JET TOUR ON THE THAMES RIVER
GET THE ADRENALIN FLOWING The Thames River has all kinds of boat tours, but speed is what it’s all about with the Thames Barrier Experience. Besides the wild James Bond music pumping ride, your teen will marvel at the 21 sights you whiz past to reach the barrier, a fascinating piece of modern engineering. Massive silver piers raise and lower 10-metre steel gates that protect London from tidal flooding. CELEBRATE SCIENCE UNDER ONE ROOF A natural choice, the Science Museum’s interactive possibilities never seem to end. We spent hours here. Start with Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery, where lightning strikes
– literally and maybe figuratively – forces are at play, and everyday science is revealed again and again. In the timely exhibition on Our Future Planet, your teen and preteen will learn about the technology scientists are developing to reverse climate change. Meanwhile, Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom exposes the debate this civilization underwent to understand the natural world. For more modern science explorations, Hubble 3D (U) explores the mystery of space on a massive screen in the museum’s IMAX cinema, now with a next generation IMAX laser 4K projector.
© VISITLONDON.COM/ANTHOINE BUCHET
2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations
DRAW THE LINE AT TOWER BRIDGE What kid doesn’t love a drawbridge? Time your visit to Tower Bridge with a bridge lift – an estimated 800 times a year – and watch the massive decks go up. High-level walkways give you a view down to the river through glass floors. Learn how steam engines worked in the engine room. Visuals and interactive displays make it real by telling the stories of the individuals who “drew” the bridge. BIKE PAST BUCKINGHAM PALACE FOR A FRESH AIR BREAK An early morning bike tour quickly put us in a great mood. We pedalled around London for a glorious three hours, seeing places such as Big Ben and Trafalgar Square, briefly but meaningfully. We zipped past the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace – with a quick stop to peak over the fence – then on we sailed through leafy parks, and along the South Bank. We were as happy as dogs lolling out a car window. THINK BIG AND SEE A SHOW Blast the myth that rational thinkers are less creative and delight your logical teen with a ride back in time. Back to the
CYCLE TOUR ACROSS LONDON
© FAT TIRE TOURS
FLAME-GRILLED BURGERS AT BOROUGH MARKET
Future: The Musical, an adaptation of the blockbuster film, runs until spring 2022 in London’s West End. When an eccentric scientist builds a time machine – a DeLorean car – teenager Marty McFly finds himself back in 1955, and accidentally changes the course of history. Hilarity ensues as he races to fix the present, leave the past behind and get back to the future. SUSTAIN YOUR BRAIN Even young scientists require sustenance. Borough Market and Greenwich Market are great for handheld bites, but for a rich treat, head to SAID London, famous for chocolatey drinks and cakes. If your teen is social savvy, he or she will be snap happy here or at other Instagrammable cafés. Whether or not Tower Bridge’s cogs and Thames’ locks inspired my son’s pursuit of a master of science degree later on, it exposed him to feats of science and engineering that sparked his mind. Better yet, we created great memories recharging as a family in London.
30 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021
© WONDERLAB BY SCIENCE MUSEUM GROUP
THINK LIKE A SCIENTIST AT WONDERLAB: THE EQUINOR GALLERY
Manulife’s COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan Policy provides: UP TO A COMBINED MAXIMUM OF $5,000,000 CDN FOR: • Emergency medical coverage not related to COVID-19 • Emergency medical coverage for COVID-19 and related complications provided the vaccine was received • $1,000,000 CDN in emergency medical coverage for COVID-19 and related complications if the vaccine was not received* *Conditions will apply for cruise travel
• Quarantine expenses after a positive COVID-19 test result during your trip, up to $200 CDN per person or $400 CDN per family per day for 14 days
Please contact our travel agency.
Conditions, limitations and exclusions apply. See policy for details. Underwritten by
The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife). Manulife, Stylized M Design, and Manulife & Stylized M Design are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license. © 2021 The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. All rights reserved. Manulife, PO Box 670, Stn Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2J 4B8. Website: www.manulife.ca Telephone: 1-800-268-3763 Accessible formats and communication supports are available upon request. Visit manulife.ca/accessibility for more information. 21_220380 (10/2021) AC
WE PLAN - YOU ENJOY. Relieve the anxiety of planning your family vacation and focus on the fun of exploring, dreaming and reconnecting. Our team of professional travel advisors will guide you through planning your next family vacation, recommend great locations and even let you in on a few travel tips from their own experience.
CONTACT US TODAY.