2022 Ultimate Family Vacations

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Ultimate Family

Vacations Creating memories that last a lifetime

Family Travel Trends: YOLO, GOAT, COBC & BRB!

Rough-and-Tumble Kiddos Discover Bora Bora Bliss

It Takes a Brave Mom to Sign Up for Gladiator School

One Boy’s Mission to Earn His Way to Denmark

Plus: Riddles, Plus: jokes, quizes quizzes, and lots andoffun interactive travel facts fun


You make the memories. We’ll take care of the rest. Before you know it, school is out, the weather is warming and you are left thinking, how in the world is it summer already? How do you create moments your family will remember? Easy. By making them unforgettable. Our travel advisors know which beach resort has the best food, which cruise ship has the best kids’ program, and which tour will make your teenagers voluntarily put their phones down. We do all the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is sit back, enjoy, and reconnect. To book your next family vacation, call your trusted travel advisor today.



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CONTENTS 22

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BUSKING FOR DENMARK What happens when you let your child choose the vacation?

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HOW MY KIDS FARED IN A HONEYMOONERS’ PARADISE Rough-and-tumble kiddos discover Bora Bora bliss

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ADVENTURES IN AXE THROWING A short Colorado getaway teaches focus and persistence

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INDEPENDENCE IN ICELAND What happens when a shy child boards an expedition ship?

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FIRE & INNOCENCE A family of five explores to desert landscapes of Jordan

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HARRY POTTER & THE MAGICAL FAMILY GETAWAY A wizarding adventure in Philadelphia and New York City

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PANAMA IS SO HOT What kids learn when they think they’re not learning

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THE BIOLUMINESCENCE OF GRANDPA A multi-generational family adventure on the island of Puerto Rico

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BISCUITS & JAM A story about camping in Romania, courtesy of a childhood journal

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I AM (SO NOT) SPARTACUS It takes a brave Mom to sign up for gladiator school …

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GIGGLES, GRINS & PONIES Crossing the high seas to ride very special ponies

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HOWLING FOR ISIS How one boy made friends with wolves, foxes, and grizzlies

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Departments 3

From the Editor

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Contributors

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What’s Trending

21, 37, 52 Trip Picks


Ultimate Family

Vacations EDITORIAL EDITOR IN CHIEF

Kimberly Buerkle

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Nancy Hellmrich

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Laura Torrisi

DESIGN & PRODUCTION

Torrisi Design Associates

DESIGN & PRODUCTION Torrisi Design Associates, NYC An Ensemble Travel® Group Publication Ensemble Vacations® is a publication of Ensemble Travel® Group

Hi there!

OMG, how fun is it to laugh? I mean really laugh. Not just snickering to ourselves, but doubled over, tears of joy in our eyes merriment. The kind of raucous bruhaha you get when you travel somewhere amazing with your favorite people in the world. We need more of that.

© June 2022 Ensemble Travel, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher. Ensemble Travel Group 256 West 38th Street New York, NY 10018. Ensemble® Ensemble Travel® Ensemble® Hosted Cruises Ensemble® Hotel & Resort Collection Ensemble® On Location Ensemble® Villas & Vacation Homes Ensemble® Exclusives Ensemble® Experience and the floret design are registered and unregistered trademarks of Ensemble Travel, Inc.

Unless otherwise specified, photos are paid stock images or courtesy of travel partners. Submissions: Got a family travel story you’d like to share? Send an email with your pitch to kbuerkle@ensembletravel.com.

To get the ball rolling, we’ve dedicated this issue of Ultimate Family Vacations to trips that make us laugh. And boy-oh-boy did our contributors come through. My cheeks hurt just thinking about all the joy they felt in—Bora Bora, Italy, Jordan, Romania, Scotland, Iceland, Alaska, and more. This level of giggle-inducing, carefree travel comes from trips booked with trusted travel advisors who intuit your preferences, add value where you need it most, and step in to handle the hard stuff … so you can sit back and laugh. LOL,

Kimberly Buerkle Editor in Chief

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Contributors

ALESANDRA DUBIN Alesandra is a veteran travel and lifestyle writer. Her work appears in Glamour, Insider, AFAR, Shondaland, Good Housekeeping, Hotels Above Par, and countless other digital and print outlets. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and twins and can be found online at alicedubin.com. Pages 26–29.

ALEXANDRA BADITA A journaling coach who lives in Bucharest, Romania, Alexandra is the author of the book Write Your Way To Happiness, the journal Impress Yourself Every Day, and hosts the Live Your Impressivity Show podcast. She can be found online at alexbadita.com. Find her story about vacation journaling on pages 50-51.

ANN-MARIE CAHILL Based in Australia, Ann-Marie is a writer with a taste for adventure. She packs light, travels hard, and encourages her family members to do the same. See her story about traveling with her son Noah on page 20. And give Noah a shout out on Facebook or Instagram @DestinationDenmark2020

ELIZABETH F. HEATH Based in Allerona, Italy, Elizabeth is the author of The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Rome. Her work has been published by The Washington Post, TripSavvy, Cruise Critic, Skyscanner, Thrillist, and more. She can be found online at elizabethfheath.com and on social media @myvillageinumbria. Page 34

JEANA SHANDRAW Based in southern California, Jeana is an adventurous traveler with a passion for exploring new cultures and cuisines. When she’s not experimenting in the kitchen with new ingredients from her travels, Jeana enjoys spending time with her family and gardening. She can be found online at SurfandSunshine.com. Page 60.

JULIE VICK Based in Colorado, Julie has written for AFAR, Fodor’s, and Parents magazine. She is the author of the humorous advice book for introverted parents Babies Don’t Make Small Talk (So Why Should I?). She can be found online at julievick.com. See her story about a weekend getaway with her boys, page 31.

VICTORIA CAREFORD-WHITE A former teacher based in the U.K., Victoria is a writer, macro-photographer, and the author of numerous children’s books, including Camping Word Search and Create Your Own World. She can be found online at victoriacarefordwhite. weebly.com. See her story about the Shetland Islands on page 57.

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KYLEE MCCAULEY Based in California, Kylee creates lifestyle content for a variety of web and print publishers, including BetterHelp, CitySignal, and Northwest Travel & Life. She can be reached on Upwork at Kylee McCauley or via email at mccauley.kylee@gmail. com. See her sweet story about a multigenerational trip to Puerto Rico on page 48.

NANCY HELLMRICH Based in Colorado, Nancy is a former advertising creative director and active travel enthusiast. Her work includes stories about grappa tasting on the coast of Croatia, spas in St. Lucia, cycling in New Zealand, snuggling up in Sweden’s Ice Hotel, and glamping in the Sahara. Pages 7-21, 37 and 52.

MADELEINE DELIEE Based in the Washington, D.C. area, Madeleine is a former actor, current teacher, and busy freelance writer with bylines at CNN, Glamour, The Washington Post, Shondaland, Real Simple, Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens, and more. See her story about gladiator school in Rome on page 53.

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MISSI WILSON Missi is a marketer for Ensemble Travel Group who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and son. For her, the most rewarding part of parenthood is raising her three-year-old with a deep love and appreciation for family travel. Read her Harry Potter family adventure story on pages 40-44.

SASHA BROWN-WORSHAM Based outside of Boston, Sasha is the author of Namaste the Hard Way, a Daughter’s Journey to Find Her Mother on the Yoga MUSIC MUSIQUE Mat. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, and many others. She can be found online at sashabrownworsham.net and on social RECIPE RECETTE media @sashabrownworsham. Page 38.

SUZETTE IVERSON Based in Gig Harbor, Washington, Suzi is a freelance writer, avid traveler, and mom to three spirited boys who feature prominently on her blog, Travel With Monsters. She has written for Utah.com, BluntMoms, and Sunstone Magazine. Read about her family’s escapades in Panama on page 47.

WELCOME TO THE NEW

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ULTIMATE FAMILY VACATIONS: DIGITAL REMIX What’s better than Ultimate Family Vacations? Ultimate Family Vacations in a fast, easy, and eco-friendly digital format that makes plotting so muchENTREVUE more fun. BOOK your next family LIVRE adventure INTERVIEW As you cruise through these pages, keep an eye out for the icons below to see videos, and fascinating insights that sync with the article’s theme. VIDEO

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T O VA C AY Perfec t Da y at CocoCay, Bah a ma s

Take family vacation up a notch and sail to the ultimate private destination — Perfect Day at CocoCay. It’s a tropical paradise loaded with thrills and ways to chill. Plunge down the tallest waterslide in North America. Cue the views from your own Overwater Cabana. Or snap your coolest photo ever 450 feet above the island by helium balloon. And get there by one of 22 of the world’s most incredible ships, sailing from 8 convenient departure ports throughout the U.S. Plus, when you book a Balcony or Suite on select sailings by July 31, 2022, your Travel Advisor can offer you a complimentary specialty dining experience for two. Come Seek the Royal Caribbean ®.

For more details, contact one of our experienced Travel Advisors.

BEST CRUISE LINE 19 YEARS RUNNING OVER ALL AND IN THE CARIBBEAN Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards

Contact your travel agency for more information. Specialty dining experience for two applies to new bookings created July 1-31, 2022 for any 4-night or longer Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, or West Coast sailing departing September 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023 in balcony or above stateroom categories. Offer includes one complimentary specialty dining experience per stateroom for two guests. Offer is valid for lunch for two, one per sailing, at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Jamie’s Italian or Sabor Modern Mexican; or dinner for two, one per sailing, at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Samba Grill, Jamie’s Italian, 150 Central Park, Wonderland or Hooked Seafood. Offer is not valid at Izumi Hibachi or Izumi Asian Cuisine. Venues vary by ship. Reservations for specialty dining offers must be made onboard. Offer may be used on any day based on venue availability. Revenue items shown on specialty dining menus are not included in this offer and are available at an additional cost. Special dining events that take place in Specialty restaurants are excluded from the specialty dining offer. Offer cannot be used toward the purchase of specialty dining packages. Alcoholic beverages and sodas are not included and are available at an additional cost. Specialty dining gratuities are included. This offer does not give guest(s) any priority for reservations, or if there is a wait to be seated in the restaurant. Not all ships feature specialty restaurants. Offer is combinable with all offers and promotions, except other specialty dining offers. Offer available to residents of the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. Offer subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled, cannot be transferred, and may be withdrawn at any time. Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions, disallow any redemption or inappropriately duplicative submissions, or those that are inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the offer, and to change or update fares, fees and surcharges at any time without prior notice. All itineraries are subject to change without notice. Prices are subject to availability and change without notice. All ship features, experiences and itineraries are subject to change without notice. Royal Amplified experiences vary by ship. Perfect Day, CocoCay, Royal Amplified, Amplified and Come Seek are trademarks of Royal Caribbean. ©2022 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. 22003918 • 6/1/2022


WHAT’S TRENDING: LAUGHTER

What’s Trending in Family Travel? Acronyms, apparently! This year, family travel is all about YOLO splurges, FOMO trips, tranquil COBC getaways, and quick, easy BRB escapes. In other words … F-U-N! Plus, we’re sharing silly travel jokes, checking out the latest kids’ travel books, and absorbing all of the amazing, mind-expanding lessons the world has to offer.

What did one raindrop say to the other? Two’s company, three’s a cloud!

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WHAT’S TRENDING: TRIP OF A LIFETIME

YOLO (You Only Live Once) They say “life is not a dress rehearsal” and we’re feeling that more than ever. It seems like every family we know is going for it this year by booking their GOAT (Greatest Of All Trips) … and laughing all the way to the airport.

55% of families say they’re ready to book a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Talk about a clean getaway!

Thermal bathing in Bali’s sacred “Air Panas” hot spring

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Tree Trippers’ Delight We can’t get enough of the awesome treehouse hotels that keep popping up all over the world. They’re super popular, especially for families, so booking early is essential. Beam me up, Mom!

Walking on the moon

World cruises are actually selling out. Private travel – yacht charters, secluded villas, escorted tours – are also on the rise, giving families space to spread out and enjoy quality time together. From splurges on super luxurious tours, cruises, and resorts to awesomely affordable extended adventures (with remote learning baked into the itinerary) we’re lapping up the best things in family travel with absolutely zero regrets.

Vacation Like Movie Stars Filming for acclaimed sci-fi epic Dune included stops on multiple continents with crew visiting Budapest, Hungary, Stadlandet in Norway, Liwa Oasis in the United Arab Emirates … plus Jordan’s Wadi Rum and Valley of the Moon.

Why don’t mummies go on vacation? They are afraid to relax and unwind.

The UFO Treehotel is built for five people—two adults in a double bed and three children, with separate beds, toilets, and living area. Showers and a sauna are located nearby. All rooms come with free WiFi.

Did you know... July 2 is World UFO day?

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WHAT’S TRENDING: GOING, GOING, GONE!

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) We’re not too shy to admit that we like to do what the cool kids are doing—from wearing the “right” shoes in school and playing the latest video games...to vacationing where Blue Ivy Carter, Silas Timberlake, and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor vacation.

Now that’s blowing things out of proportion

Where the Cool Kids Go Yup. That means we’re chilling in Cabo like Jessica Simpson’s fam. Channeling Star Wars a la the Timberlakes. Hanging in Hawaii like Luna and Miles Teigen-Legend. Or striking toddler poses in Italy, like Grimes and Elon’s son, X Æ A-Xii.

Family-Friendly Festivals & Events Lest we miss out on the kid vacay of a lifetime, we’re packing our Spiderman rollies and umbrella strollers for the most brag-worthy events, exclusive sailings, and limited-time offers. One thing is for sure, when this year’s vacations are over, our kids will be royally spoiled … and we won’t have missed a minute of fun.

50th This fall is the quincuagésimo anniversary of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. We’re booking our tours now so we don’t miss out!

Doonagore castle, Co. Clare, Ireland

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Irish. Irish who? Irish you were here on vacation with us!

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And POOF! We’re in India!

Annual Hindu Holi Festival

Harbin Ice Festival, China

A Rabbit, Rabbit A superstition from the United Kingdom. Say it when you wake up on the first day of each month and you’ll have good luck the whole month through.

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YO U R VA C AT I O N W I S H E S A R E A B O U T TO C O M E T R U E Beginning this summer, you can discover all-new magic, imaginative dining and unique entertainment on the latest ship to join the Disney Cruise Line family—the Disney Wish. It’s a one-of-a-kind vacation where fun meets relaxation, where dreams meet reality and where heroes meet destiny. It’s also where families can reconnect, adults can unwind and kids can interact with their favorite Disney stories like never before. The Disney Wish will be embarking on 3- and 4-night sailings from Port Canaveral, Florida (near Orlando). Make your wish come true today! VIDEO

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Artist Renderings. Images do not represent health and safety measures that may be in place during future sailings, such as face coverings and physical INTERVIEW distancing. ENTREVUE ©Disney © 2022 MARVEL Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas DCL_22_2334408

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WHAT’S TRENDING: SHORT AND SWEET Visiting “The Wave” in Arizona is permit access only

BRB (Be Right Back)

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So much to see, so much to do. Sometimes it’s a RECIPE real challenge to cram one more thing into the suitcase of life. We totally get that. That’s when short, sweet family getaways make oodles of COCKTAIL sense. Plus, with lots of quick escapes, we get to dip into more different places and cultures than the long-vacation set. BOOK

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Are we there yet?

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Kevin Costner’s “virtual tour guide” mobile app, which uses geolocation to trigger stories about nearby places of interest or historical significance.

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The number of federally recognized American Indian tribes in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. The best part? It’s a quick trip to meet them and learn about their history.

3-day Alaskan cruises are easy-peasy!

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3 to 7

Target age group for Late Night talk show host Seth Meyer’s new children’s book I’m Not Scared, You’re Scared. (HINT: It’s the perfect Alaska vacation read.)

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WHAT’S TRENDING: QUALITY TIME

COBC (Chill Or Be Chilled) CHILL It’s surf and sand season. For some of us, that means taking off for a romantic parents-only weekend. For others, it means bringing everyone in the extended family along on a do-as-you-like cruise or beach escape. We’re all-in for attentive beach waiters bringing us salty truffle fries and refreshing adult bevvies while the children sip fresh local juices and make fast friends in the resort’s posh kids club.

Learning is fun!

BE CHILLED

Beaches don’t have a lock on fun. Some of us use our vacations to beat the heat. And that means jetting off to some place super cool— like Alaska, Iceland, or even Antarctica! Few things help us regenerate better than being in nature. Luckily, Alaska day cruises and family adventures are packed with awe-inspiring wildlife. Iceland is renowned for its safe, family-friendly culture. The air is pure and clean. The geothermal springs are big and warm. They have whales and seals, and horses, and petting zoos, and glaciers, lava caving, and more.

Where do pepperonis go on vacation? The leaning tower of pizza. 14

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Kirkjufell Mountain in Iceland


I’m glad I can swim. Otherwise I’d be bacon in the sun! Underground cavern in Antarctica

I Scream, You Scream … Sunscape Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Mexico

Kulfi (India) – Sort of like an ice cream bar, Himalayan style. It’s made by slowly simmering whole milk that is flavored with pistachio, rose water, and saffron. Patbingsu (South Korea) – Mix together shaved ice, condensed milk, and sweet azuki bean paste. Top with nuts or fruit. Enjoy the crunchy, creamy, chewy experience.

BFG

“Big Family Get-togethers” at an all-inclusive beach resort ensure everyone can chill out in their own special way.

Dondurma (Turkey) – Like ice cream, but chewier and less melty. It’s made with milk, sugar, Arab gum, and salep—a flour made from the root of the early purple orchid.

Did you know... July 17 is National Ice Cream Day? ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022

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WHAT’S TRENDING: BRAIN TEASERS

How do polite Hawaiians laugh? A low ha!

Riddles around the world

1. I saw a cruise ship full of people. Yet, on the cruise ship, there wasn’t a single person. Why?

Did you know... July 6 is International Kissing Day

2. While on safari in Africa, I felt something in my pocket that moved around, had a head and a tail but no legs. Should I be scared?

3. I’m standing on Antarctica’s South Pole, facing north. If I take one step backward, in which direction will I be traveling?

4. Nala’s birthday is January 8th, yet it is always hot and sunny. How is this possible?

Answers: 1. Everyone on the ship was married. 2. You can relax; it’s a coin. 3. North. All directions from the South Pole are north. 4. Nala lives in New Zealand, in the southern hemisphere. 16

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‘TIS THE SEASON FOR NEW LUXURY CELEBRATIONS Bring your family and friends closer together for an unforgettable celebration onboard our award-winning Edge® Series ships, including our newest ship, Celebrity BeyondSM, sailing the Mediterranean and Caribbean. With festive holiday sailings, you’ll find a journey that gives you everything you love about the holidays with none of the hassle. FEATURED SAILINGS 11-Night Panama Canal & S. Caribbean Celebrity Edge® Nov. 21 – Dec. 2, 2022

8-Night Eastern Caribbean Holiday Celebrity BeyondSM Dec. 18 – 26, 2022

7-Night Key West, Belize & Cayman Holiday Celebrity ApexSM Dec. 23 – 30, 2022

Book an AquaClass® stateroom or higher and relax knowing your drinks, Wi-Fi, tips, exclusive dinning experience, PLUS $100 onboard credit agency exclusive are included. ©2021 TIME USA LLC. All rights reserved. Used under license. ©2022 Celebrity Cruises® Inc. Ships’ Registry: Malta and Ecuador. All Rights Reserved.

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WHAT’S TRENDING: LITERARY ESCAPES

Let's Read About the World Grumpy Monkey Are We There Yet? by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang. Sometimes, family vacations involve a lot of waiting. In this book, Jim Panzee learns to be patient. Grandpa Across the Ocean by Hyewon Yum. This book explores the joys of having a relative who lives far away. Even from across the ocean, the grandparentgrandchild relationship is a very special one. Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias. Kylie has only video chatted with her grandmother, who lives in Taipei, Taiwan. In this book, she visits her in real life and learns about Amah’s amazing world. People Are Wild by Margaux Maganck. This book asks what animals think of us. We may not always see eye to eye, but the more we understand each other, the better we’re able to live in harmony.

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Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski. Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Book 1), The Edge of the Ocean (Book 2), and The Secrets of the Storm Forest (Book 3, coming Sept 2022) all inspire kids to travel and explore.

Mission Barcelona: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure by Catherine Aragon. This series continues to be a favorite for families who travel the world. Curiosity and excitement turn each new destination into an exhilarating adventure.

The lengths I go to to help my sister ...


What Are The Kids Saying? The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thomas & Rosemary Mosco, illustrated by Joy Ang. This book spans 47 countries and 100 of the most surprising, mysterious, and weird-buttrue places on earth.

National Geographic Kids World Atlas 6th edition & National Geographic Kids Almanac 2022, U.S. Edition. Updated maps, stats, and fun facts about the people, places, trends, and developments in our world.

We expect to encounter foreign languages when we travel. Yo soy Dora, after all. But when it comes to what our own kids are saying, well, we might need the occasional translation.

G2G PAW POMS HIFW TNTL TIME CSL

ICYMI WAYN ILY PITR KPC GMTA BBBG CYTA

Answers: G2G (Got to Go) PAW (Parents Are Watching) POMS (Parent Over My Shoulder) HIFW (How I Feel When) TNTL (Trying Not To Laugh) TIME (Tears In My Eyes) CSL (Can’t Stop Laughing) ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) WAYN (Where Are You Now) ILY (I Love You) PITR (Parent In The Room) KPC (Keeping Parents Clueless) GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike) BBBG (Bye Bye Be Good) CYTA (Call Your Travel Agent) ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022

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WHAT’S TRENDING: FUN FACTS

Did you hear about the Alaskan who didn’t like to fish? He wasn’t Inuit.

True or False? It’s impossible for a crocodile to stick out its tongue. A shrimp’s heart is in its head.

Did you know...July 24 is Amelia Earhart Day

Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt. A shark is the only known fish that can blink with both eyes. Stinky tofu is the national dish of Taiwan. Maine is the only state that has a one-syllable name. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur. There are no mosquitos in Iceland. The national animal of Scotland is the unicorn. At the Taj Mahal, there is a bench named after Meghan Markle Answers: All are true except the last one; the bench is actually named after Princess Diana. 20

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TRIP PICKS Super Shore Excursions VIDEO

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One of Carnival Cruise’s highest rated shore excursions, INTERVIEW ENTREVUEthe Hovercraft Eco Adventure & Wildlife tour out of Ketchikan, Alaska, is, well … once in a lifetime cool. MUSIC

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Real Families Get Involved They ride a tuk-tuks through Bangkok. Play football with Maasai tribesmen. Sail the Nile in an Egyptian felucca. TrackRECETTE wolves in RECIPE Yellowstone National Park.

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Iceland & Norway Oh My! This summer, global superstar Katy Perry will perform at a christening ceremony in Reykjavík, Iceland, in which Norwegian Prima will become the first ship christened at the Icelandic capital.

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“My most favorite COCKTAIL way to vacation with my family is on the water. Every morning BOOK that you wake up, you get to experience an incredible new view.” — Katy Perry

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Swim Where? Somehow, Collette Tours has managed to BOOK

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When in Cyprus... Consider Royal Caribbean’s 2-night sampler cruise and test out your family’s sea legs.

pack the best of Australia and New Zealand into one 22-day “Uncovered” adventure that our kids are sure to remember for the rest of their lives. And yes, we’re definitely adding on the 3-night Fiji Extension. Duh.

Space Enthusiasts are jetting down to Florida’s

Walt Disney World Resort, where anything could happen during a 2-night, immersive Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser adventure—missions, Character encounters, and more.

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Busking for Denmark by

ANN-MARIE CAHILL

What happens when you let your child choose the vacation? We have a travel tradition in our family. When our kids finish elementary school, they get to travel anywhere in the world with one parent. This does come with a stipulation: they must fund their share of the travel.

play games, build robots, or show scientific concepts, especially in mechanical engineering. So, when we brought up our ‘travel tradition’ to him, we weren’t surprised that he chose Denmark. It’s a big trip with a big budget, yet somehow we knew he could do it.

For Noah, earning money for the trip was an opportunity for his two Now, I’ll be honest. There is no great loves to come together. At way to predict where the kids will the age of nine, he took his clarinet choose to go; it can be a bit wild and and book of Christmas carols down random. But no matter what they to the local train station. He set up come up with, we know it is going to a LEGO bucket to collect money, be filled with adventure, and buoyed homemade signs sharing his story, by their exuberance and youth. For and started to play. our son, Noah, the decision was easy. He wanted to play in Denmark, the Of course, people would stop and home of LEGO®. chat. Most were curious as to why

How It Started Noah has a passion for both artistry and engineering. He started playing the clarinet at seven years old, but LEGO was his first love. To this day, he is always learning new ways to use the ingenious bricks: to tell stories,

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he wanted to go to Denmark. A few even shared their own Denmark travel tips. While the goal was always to visit the LEGO House, the list soon grew to include Tivoli Gardens, the Okolariet Science Centre, and the Jelling Mounds with ancient Viking history.

The more people he met, the more he learned about Denmark—he always came home with a smile and a story to share. Within three years, Noah had saved $6,500. When the day for departure finally arrived, he turned to me with the biggest smile and said simply, “Mum, let’s play in Denmark.”

Let’s Go to LEGO House Noah’s planning ensured our plane flew almost directly to Billund, and our LEGO House tickets were for the very next day! From the minute we walked in, his eyes were bright and wide open. Inside, there are displays, activities, and inspiration points to encourage fans to try new and different things. From one room to the next, Noah built and learned from everything that was on offer. In one section, we made a ridiculous and hilarious “stop-motion” movie with Santa losing his hat. In another, we battled with LEGO robots around a flower garden, laughing at each other’s awful driving skills. We


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“Thanks to Noah, we explored sites I would likely have missed if I’d done the planning.”

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LIVR


Photos: Courtesy of Ann-Marie Cahill

both got so caught up in the fun, we completely forgot to stop for lunch! When we finally paused, I asked him about his favorite part.

"If there is one thing I have learned from this experience, it is that kids really do bring more fun to travel.”

“The whole journey.” His smile was even bigger than his LEGO store wish list. “We made it, Mum. Everyone helped and we made it here. This is my holiday and it is everything I wanted.”

Playtime in Denmark For the record, Denmark is more than LEGO. It is an amazing place to explore and play. Giving Noah the freedom to plan his holiday opened up a whole different experience. Thanks to Noah, we explored sites I would likely have missed if I’d done the planning.

We saw some huge windmills today. I was a big fan.

His desire for tangible entertainment took us to Viking museums, where he could carry a sword, and science museums, where he could touch the experiments. Noah was less interested in restaurants and more interested in street food and corner bakeries (LOTS of bakeries). If there is one thing I have learned from this experience, it is that kids really do bring more fun to travel. The best family vacations are filled with play and laughter. And the best way to guarantee that is to give the kids freedom to plan … at least some of the trip. Thanks to Noah, Denmark will always be my favorite playground. We did everything the 12-year-old wanted to do and we haven’t stopped smiling since. Noah’s travel adventures can be found on Instagram and Facebook at @DestinationDenmark2020. LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies.

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Take the whole family on an Alaska cruisetour with Princess Princess Premier Balcony fares from*

11-nights Denali Explorer Tour DA4 Vancouver, B.C. to Anchorage

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*Fares are per guest and apply to minimum lead-in balcony categories on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares are non-air, cruise- or cruisetouronly, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. Fares and other values quoted in US currency, unless otherwise indicated. ^Refer to your travel advisor for additional terms, inclusions and restrictions that apply to Princess Premier, Cruisetour CA$H and Onboard Spending Money. . ©2022 Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Princess®, MedallionClass®, and the Princess logo are trademarks of Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Ships of Bermudan and British registry.


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How My Kids Fared in Bora Bora, a Honeymooners’ Paradise by

ALESANDRA DUBIN

When my then-new husband and I honeymooned in Bora Bora, devouring every sparkle of crystalline lagoon water like it was our last meal on earth, we only saw other honeymooners in our midst. The world was only made up of loved-up young people unblemished (physically or mentally) by children, wasn’t it? At least, that was how it seemed through our myopic newlywed filter. We fell so in love with this ethereal French Polynesian paradise that we vowed to return for our 10th wedding anniversary, which seemed another lifetime away.

Flash forward 12 years and two kids, and we finally made it back. By this point, my seven-year-old twins, Jordan and Maya, were plenty accustomed to world travel. As the lucky offspring of travelloving parents, they’ve visited corners of the globe from Mexico to Morocco, Costa Rica to Croatia. They’ve become pros at traveling, with a global cultural and

geographical awareness that seems beyond their years. But what they’re not is serene. Or static. They’re constantly in motion, with a knack for shattering the calm in any environment they enter. So how would my roughand-tumble kiddos – strangers to the concept of an inside voice – fare in this honeymooners’ paradise?

And how would Bora Bora and its peace-seeking holidaymakers greet them? Swimmingly, as it turns out. In fact, we learned the South Pacific island is actually an ideal location for a dream trip for the whole family. Now water-safe, Jordan and Maya were the perfect age to indulge

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"Maya’s tooth had been loose for weeks and she worried that, if she lost it on vacation, the Tooth Fairy might not be able to find her.”

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in the island’s signature lodging: the overwater bungalow. We jumped off our deck over and over again into the lagoon, teeming with fish and rays. (Fearless Maya showboated for a few days before finally convincing her brother to take the plunge, too—then cheered him on vociferously.) We splashed, we floated, we chased each other in circles around the stilts, we waved to each other through the windows in the floor.

magical island can be for kids. But here, kids aren’t verboten; they’re graciously accommodated. As a group, they scoured the beach for hermit crabs, and then raced them against each other. The staff organized fishing trips, pareo-dying projects, nature treasure hunts, and seashell necklace crafts.

As a family, we kayaked, paddle boarded, snorkeled, and swam in the infinity pool and the sea, wading out multiple times to the sandbar that doubled as a Robinson Crusoe-like dreamscape for pretend play. We washed down croissants and crepes with ice-cold coconut drinks and tropical smoothies.

Maya’s tooth had been loose for weeks and she worried that, if she lost it on vacation, the Tooth Fairy might not be able to find her. Indeed, that tooth finally gave up its tenuous hold just as she donned her snorkel mask. But lest the Tooth Fairy miss her on this remote speck of sand, the kids club team lovingly collected it in tissue paper so that the Tooth Fairy could make a special delivery (in Pacific francs) to our bungalow that night.

When it was time for my husband and me to enjoy beverages more adult in nature, my kids hauled off to the resort kids’ club. I hadn’t noticed in my newlywed haze just how accommodating this

All along, they bonded with new friends from around the world. A five-year-old boy named Conrad of Greek and British parents just learning to swim. An eight-year-old girl from Canada named Chloe who developed

ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022


a new love for snorkeling. In the evenings, the kids all played together on the beach as the parents, now new friends too, dined al fresco as the sun set.

How do you know when an ocean is happy to see you? It waves.

It turns out the lagoon-encircled ancient volcanic island is a dream at any stage of life—even when the company you keep is louder, messier, and more demanding of snacks.

After a week in Bora Bora, I know my kids felt the same thing my husband and I did on our honeymoon those 12 years before: that Bora Bora is the most spectacularly beautiful, relaxing, and just plain fun corner of the planet. No matter how many places on earth we visit, we’ll always dream of going back.

Contact your travel advisor to plan a family vacation to Bora Bora.

Photos: Courtesy of Alesandra Dubin

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FEEL FREE TO LET THE OUTSIDE IN

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Experience an unforgettable Alaska cruise with Norwegian

FEEL FREE TO EXPERIENCE AUTHENTIC ALASKA Explore Alaska’s captivating coastline up close and personal with Norwegian Cruise Line. Whether you are quiet naturalists or brazen explorers, you’ll fall in love with the wilds of The Last Frontier. Norwegian’s award-winning ships offer excitement, relaxation, and everything in between as you experience the awe of the region’s pristine landscapes.

SHIPS CUSTOM-BUILT FOR THE SPECTACULAR Norwegian’s newer ships – Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore – offer one-of-a-kind Observation Lounges that boast 180-degree views with floor-to-ceiling windows. Kick back with a favorite cocktail or cup of hot chocolate in the lounge and soak in incredible vistas or zoom around the top decks on the only race tracks at sea.

FEEL FREE TO TAKE IT ALL IN Enjoy more ports of call and travel deeper into the heart of Alaska aboard Norwegian Sun. With longer, more immersive itineraries, you will have plenty of time to marvel over calving blue-lit glaciers and discover Alaska’s pristine interior aboard the White Pass Railway. Explore the outdoor playground that is Ketchikan, visit the mesmerizing Mendenhall Glacier and experience spectacular Icy Strait Point.

VENTURE DEEPER INTO THE WILD Our 11- to 14-day Cruisetours combine a 7-day cruise with a land vacation that’s fully escorted by local Alaskan guides. Spend two days exploring Denali National Park and stay at an authentic wilderness lodge. Witness spectacular scenery along the Alaska Railroad and hang with beloved Iditarod dogs at a musher’s kennel. Our Cruisetours show there’s so much more to experience beyond the coast.

©2022 NCL Corporation Ltd. Ships’ Registry: Bahamas and USA. 6/22

PLUS, Our Agency Exclusive: Book now to receive onboard credit up to $200 per stateroom on select sailings!


ADVENTURES IN AXE THROWING by

JULIE VICK

When my two school-aged boys viewed the activities at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, one stood out: axe throwing. Graham and Beck are active kids and outdoor enthusiasts who sometimes like to throw things, so this wasn’t a complete surprise. Since they both met the minimum requirements, and would be supervised, I booked a timeslot for our first afternoon. We had chosen the property for an easy weekend getaway from our home in Colorado and were thrilled when we arrived to find elk meandering around the fishing pond. We watched for a few minutes before my oldest, Graham, said, “Let’s go! We can’t miss the axe throwing!” ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022

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After checking into our cabin, we headed to the range, which was in a clearing surrounded by ponderosa pines. Our instructor, a casually dressed man in his 20s, first went over the safety rules that included staying behind a line about 12 feet from the targets and not collecting axes until everyone had finished throwing. The boys started with small, thin metal axes that weighed less than a pound. They positioned themselves in front of targets, stepped up to the line, threw … and both axes flew past the targets into the trees. After several more tries, they were sometimes hitting the wooden targets, but hadn’t gotten an axe to stick. I could see them growing frustrated, but the instructor assured them it would just take practice.

Eventually, Graham tried a hatchet with a wooden handle, a smaller version of the kind I imagine a real lumberjack would carry. Watching his slender figure pick up the axe and raise it over his head with both hands made me slightly nervous, but when he safely threw it, I relaxed. After a few throws, he got one to stick and did a victorious fist pump. Not long afterward, Beck landed a small axe and grinned widely as we all cheered. We did a lot of other activities – archery, a scavenger hunt, indoor rock climbing – but Graham and Beck agreed that axe throwing was the highlight. I was happy that our weekend adventure had taught them about focus and persistence, skills that will benefit them on all of their future adventures.

Contact your trusted travel advisor to learn about tours in the US West.

How did the buffalo say goodbye to his son at the train station? Bi-son 32

ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022


at Club Med’s first all-inclusive mountain resort in Canada

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Discover Club Med Québec's

Locally Sourced Gourmet Experiences

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Independence in Iceland by

ELIZABETH HEATH

A family of three takes a confidence-inspiring expedition cruise “What was your favorite part of our cruise to Iceland?” I asked my 10-year-old daughter. She thought about it for a few moments. “Seeing the whales.” She thought about it some more. “No, saving the baby puffins.” More thinking … “Walking through the glacier. No, helping Jenny with the art show. Wait, no, sleeping in the igloo.” Finally, exasperated, she declared, “My favorite part was all of it!”

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After our first expedition cruise in Central America a few years ago, when Naomi was just seven, we were eager to get back aboard a small ship. We knew from past experience that what expedition ships lack in waterslides, game rooms, and kids’ menus, they make up for with handson learning opportunities, a familial environment, and the chance for intimate encounters with nature. After staying close to home for nearly two years and becoming admittedly way too attached to our television, phones, and computer screens—it was time to get away, to disconnect from our devices and dive into some quality time as a family.


THE PROMISE OF DUBAI Our daughter is a shy kid who’s not inclined to take the lead, and who’d rather stick near us than join in group activities. But on our 11-day expedition cruise around Iceland, we watched her run ahead on the path to hike with new friends she’d made, waved at her from across the lounge as she was invited to sit with a group of staff, and were but mere guests on the curator’s tour she helped lead through the onboard art exhibit. Seeing the whales, releasing the baby puffins, sleeping in the igloo, idling in a zodiac raft under cliffs full of cacophonous seabirds, those are all terrific vacation memories that we happily recall and recount.

But the independence, adventurousness, and self-confidence we witnessed in Naomi, and the sheer fun she had having the run of the ship and the doting attention of the crew—all without a screen in sight? That’s harder to quantify, more difficult to capture in photos, and something that will stay with her for a lifetime.

Icelandic mud packs

Need a bravery boost? Contact your travel advisor to book an expedition cruise today. Photos: Courtesy of Elizabeth Heath

What do you call a duck inside a glacier? A quack in the ice!

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FAMILY HOLIDAYS

Intrepid Travel booking terms and conditions apply. The offer is only valid through an Ensemble Travel Agent and valid for bookings from June 15 – July 31, 2022. Travel must be completed by Dec 15, 2023.

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Fire & Innocence A family of five explores the desert landscapes of Jordan by

SASHA BROWN-WORSHAM

“How can it be so brown?” my 12-year-old daughter asked as our plane descended from the clouds. In just six hours, we’d gone from lush, green Heathrow to this incredible bisque-colored expanse. “We are in the desert now, baby,” my husband explained, as our family of five – Mom and Dad, Samara (12), Alan (11), Adara (5) – touched down in sunbaked Amman, Jordan. Bilal, our guide for the next 10 days, met us at the gate, instantly charming Adara. “In Arabic, your name means innocence,” he told her. “In Hebrew, it means fire. Which one are you?” “Definitely fire,” Adara said. We all nodded in agreement. Definitely fire. For the next week, we explored ancient stadiums and the ruins of Jerash in Northern Jordan. Then famous Petra, where we walked 40,000 steps in a single

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day and marveled at the artistry of the Rose City. “This definitely isn’t overrated,” our oldest said. “This is the life,” Alan agreed when we arrived at our bubble hotel, where each air-conditioned bubble bedroom comes with an outdoor hot tub. Sitting in his own private bath overlooking the Petra Mountains, my son felt like a king. My husband and I would miss that hot tub on a three-hour (stirrup-less) camel trek in Wadi Rum the next day. “I can’t feel my legs,” we both said at one point, laughing so hard tears ran down our faces. Our kids laughed too, but their


light little bodies had no such issues— they loved every second. Later, we climbed sand dunes, racing each other to the top, then falling to the sand, hysterical with laughter and out of breath. After dark, we had a Bedouin feast, which included meat buried in the ground, soft bread, and all the hummus, baba ganoush, and vegtables we could manage. The children made friends and danced traditional dances until they were out of breath with the fun of it all. By the time we reached the Dead Sea, we were satisfied. Bobbing above the water in the salt-saturated sea, we marveled at how light our bodies felt. “This is the best trip ever,” Alan told us our last night.

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Harry Potter & the Magical Family Getaway by

MISSI WILSON

A wizarding adventure in Philadelphia & New York City

Wesley grinds herbs

Like many Millennials, my husband, Brian, and I grew up obsessed with the Wizarding World® since our hands first turned the pages of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone in 1998. Now, our three-year-old wizard, Wesley, is as obsessed as we are but at a remarkably young age. To embrace his love for magic, we summoned our suitcases (accio! ) and went to Philadelphia for Harry Potter: The Exhibition and New York City for Harry Potter New York and The Cauldron NYC.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Wizarding robes on display

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Making its world premiere in 2022, Harry Potter: The Exhibition is a technologically immersive display showcasing authentic props, costumes, and set recreations from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts® films, plus the Broadway performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

your experience as you follow the golden snitch, a flying gold ball with Mercury-like wings, throughout the exhibit. When interacting with various spells, potions, and activities, you earn points for your Hogwarts house – 10 points to Ravenclaw and Slytherin (our houses, of course)!

You begin at King’s Cross Station with a kiosk that sorts you into your Hogwarts house (dormitory). You then choose a wand and your patronus, a magical creature defensive charm that is linked to a wristband. This personalizes

Each section brought magic to life–our names appeared on the Marauder’s Map; only glass separated us from Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s robes; mandrakes squealed as Wesley pulled them from their pots; we threw rugby-like quaffle balls through hoops

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"Before exiting, we stopped to have a glass (or three) of Butterbeer. This was definitely Wesley’s highlight as he first thought it was ice cream and then realized it’s soda! Seeing a Butterbeer mustache on him is something I will always remember."


The cupboard under the stairs

to win the Quidditch Cup; dueled with hero-Harry and villain-Lord Voldemort’s wands at the Battle of Hogwarts; and, Wesley’s favorite, we curled up in “the cupboard under the stairs” at 4 Privet Drive, where Harry lived as a child.

Harry Potter New York Located in the heart of New York City, Harry Potter New York is the first official Harry Potter flagship store with the largest collection of Harry Potter series and Fantastic Beasts merchandise in one place. Once I walked inside, I honestly considered just handing over my 401k. Giant magical creatures welcomed us throughout, and we discovered tasty treats like Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and Chocolate Frogs; wands from over 50 characters; personalized house robes; graphic prints by MinaLima, who did the graphics for the films; plus, we posed for a photo in Hagrid’s shoes and the telephone booth to the Ministry of Magic!

For Brian and me, the most incredible part of Harry Potter New York was the one-of-a-kind virtual reality experiences. I did “Chaos at Hogwarts,” a thrilling journey with house elf Dobby to contain magical creatures loose in the castle. And Brian did “Wizards Take Flight,” where you fly through the skies of London to defeat Death Eaters, followers of Lord Voldemort. Before exiting, we stopped to have a glass (or three) of Butterbeer. This was definitely Wesley’s highlight as he first thought it was ice cream and then realized it’s soda! Seeing a Butterbeer mustache on him is something I will always remember.

The Cauldron NYC Although not affiliated with the Wizarding World franchise, The Cauldron NYC’s Harry Potterinspired experience truly feels as if you’re sitting in Professor Snape’s potions class trying to pass your Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations. They offer multiple

immersive cocktail brewing classes for adults and families alike. We did Wizard Afternoon Tea so Wesley could enjoy the experience. The hour and 45-minute interactive session included two different tea brewing experiences, a selection of tea “sandwitches,” and assorted dessert treats. Wesley was given an interactive wand that was used to unlock the ingredients for brewing our custom teas. He was taught to perform “spells” and loved shouting “Abracadabra!” to summon our incredible server. Brian and I assisted him with grinding various herbs and dropping flavorful mixes into his tea concoction. To make sure we properly fermented our tea, our server dropped some dry ice into a tray and it billowed over our table. Watching Wesley’s eyes in amazement was priceless, and we were pleasantly surprised Wesley enjoyed the tea he created! This was a wonderful family activity that we highly recommend. The Cauldron ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022

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Dry ice billows on the table at The Cauldron NYC

Photos: Courtesy of Missi Wilson

Co. can be experienced in New York City, Edinburgh, Central London, East London, and newly in Philadelphia. For our family, the Wizarding World is real. We immerse in it daily with the books, films, and music that have been part of our lives for over 20 years. But Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Harry Potter New York, and The Cauldron NYC gave Brian and me something we had not felt before–real magic. I’m not talking about casting spells and enchantments, but the magic of

being parents and experiencing Harry Potter through the eyes of our son. Seeing and hearing Wesley’s genuine laugh, excitement, and astonishment that Harry Potter isn’t just a movie he watches or music he listens to—but something he can actually feel, taste, and touch—makes me want to put the memories made during this trip into a pensieve (a magical device to store memories) so I can watch them over and over…“Always.”

InterContinental New York Barclay: An Enchanting Hotel Built in 1926 and newly renovated, InterContinental New York Barclay is a family-friendly, Wesley-approved hotel in midtown east. They offer connecting rooms, rollaway beds, and cribs for younger children; plus, children under 12 stay free when sharing a room with their parents. Our Agency Exclusive Amenities • Personalized welcome & VIP check-in • Boxed to-go continental breakfast from local Ole & Steen Bakery for two daily • $100 hotel credit per room, per stay (may be used for in-room mini-bar) • Free in-room high-speed wireless access • Waived daily $20 New York City amenity fee • Daily housekeeping / evening turndown upon guest’s request

Where do eggs go on vacation? New Yolk City!

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Pottermore Publishing and Stage Theatrical Rights © J.K. Rowling. All Rights Reserved. WIZARDING WORLD is a trademark of J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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TURN YOUR DREAM VACATION INTO A REALITY VIDEO

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From first moments to lasting celebrations, Dreams Resorts & Spas offer unforgettable, all-inclusive vacations in luxurious beachfront settings across Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and Europe. Experience first-hand a picture-perfect getaway for you and your family. MUSIC ®

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Contact Your Travel Advisor to Book Today! Tours operated by Apple Vacations. Exclusive discount is valid for bookings made 7/1/22 - 7/31/22 for travel 7/1/22 - 12/15/22 for packaged bookings with Dreams Resort & Spas in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Discount is up to $25 off per person, per booking with a 3-night minimum length of stay using promo code UFVDREAMS22. Not combinable with other promo codes. Information is accurate at time of publication and is subject to changes, exceptions, cancellation charges and restrictions. Properties in Europe are not eligible. 4-night minimum stay required. Standard package is on all room categories except Run of House or Deal of the Day. All amenities are per room. Type of edible amenity is at hotel discretion. Spa discounts apply to spa treatments and services only; not applicable towards the purchase of spa products. Discounted amenities and services cannot be combined with other discounts or special offers on property. All amenities are subject to availability and weather conditions, where applicable. Additional restrictions may apply on Spa Services. All services should be arranged with the concierge after check-in. Resort coupons cannot be combined with spa or romantic dining discounts. Combinable with all promotions. Valid for travel through 12/21/22. Not responsible for errors or omissions in the publication of this information. Valid for new bookings only. CST #2139014-20.

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All Aboard for

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Kids Cruise Free on select 2022 sailings*

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Family Fun!

The groans of calving glaciers. The feel of sand between your toes. The sight of old-world architecture. Whether you’re vacationing in MUSIC lled Alaska, the Caribbean or Europe, Holland America Line’s fun-fi voyages are sure to delight children, parents and grandparents alike. Drop the kids off at our onboard youth program, Club HAL®. RECIPE Grab a bite to eat at one of our award-winning specialty restaurants featuring complimentary kids’ menus and half-price meals for cruisers under 13. Sip on an after-dinner drink while enjoying the best live music at sea. And relax in one of our spacious staterooms or suites, COCKTAIL with configurations including adjoining rooms. With Holland America Line, your dream family vacation could be your next family vacation.

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*Children must be ages 5–17 and booked as the 3rd/4th guests in the same stateroom.

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Panama is so Hot

A family of five recalls what they learned on their Central American escape

by

SUZI IVERSON

My husband, Todd, and I wanted a spring break that was adventurous, affordable, educational, entertaining, and relaxing. Our kids wanted only one thing: to go swimming in a sunny place. Like sneaking vegetables into smoothies, we’re the kind of parents that like to sneak history and culture into a vacation. We’ve been to California, Mexico, and Costa Rica. For this trip, Todd and I wanted more than just sun and fun. We wanted our kids to learn something new. We wanted Panama. “The best part about Panama is it’s so hot,” declares Finn, age seven. But he is forgetting how he loved the animal displays at the Biomuseo, the Carnaval dancers at our resort, and the band playing at Plaza Herrera in Casco Viejo. “The fishing was amazing. We caught some bonito,” remembers Gus. He also practiced his sixth-grade Spanish ordering new foods, found he liked papas rellenas, and learned “just how bad Americans are at soccer” while playing on the beach with kids from Brazil and Panama.

Photos: Courtesy of Suzi Iverson

“The thing about Panama is … I love sea creatures, but they don’t love me,” Arthur, age 10, informs me. Arthur, in fact, loves all creatures, from the leaf-cutter ants we spied on hiking trails to the teeny-tiny scorpion Finn found in a shoe. Snorkeling in Panama had been one of his dreams. However, he found out the hard way that there are some creatures – like jellyfish and sea urchins – you should not touch. We all learned a lot, but Arthur, our history buff, may have learned the most. After seeing the famous canal, we stopped and played pirates among the 18th century ruins of the Santiago Battery in Portobelo.

We touched nature, we touched history, we touched new foods, and we even touched some creatures that should probably have been left alone. We came home a little wiser, a little sunburnt, and a lot happier.

Finally, on a quest to make this the “best vacation ever,” we ended our trip at Dreams Playa Bonita, an all-inclusive resort. Which is why our kids still tell people, “The best part about Panama was the unlimited drinks.”

What did the fisherman say to the magician? Take a cod, any cod ...

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The Bioluminescence of Grandpa A multi-generational family adventure on the island of Puerto Rico The boat was bobbing as my grandpa, mother, siblings, and I climbed aboard and spaced ourselves out for balance. Settling in, we listened as the captain described the tour. Then my brother made a joke in Spanish, and we all cracked up, including the captain. It sounded terrible! His Rs were flat and his cadence awkward. But it was the first of many laughing fits we would have on our excursion. Convincing my grandpa to come hadn’t been easy. But we urged him to experience the world while he could, and he finally agreed. We had chosen Puerto Rico for our mid-December escape because it was warm, affordable, a short flight away, and no passport was

required. To make sure everyone had a good time, we each picked an activity. Grandpa wanted to explore San Juan and taste chicharrones and empanadillas. My brother chose an awesome, if muddy, ATV ride in El Yunque National Forest. My sister liked snorkeling, and I was sure the bioluminescent caves at La Parguera, near Lajas, would be the perfect highlight. The private boat tour included both, so we decided it was ideal. At our first stop, the sky looked like it had a filter on it. Shrugging off the strange hue, we grabbed the snorkeling gear and dove in. Out there in the crystal-clear ocean, the only sounds we could hear were

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by

KYLEE MCCAULEY

each other’s excited yells. Then, out of nowhere, heavy drops of rain began to fall and we scrambled back on board. As the captain quickly sped toward La Parguera, I noticed we were no longer neatly spaced out, but all huddled together. All except my grandfather. Grandpa was sitting at the front of the boat, out in the open—his head held high, his shoulders broad, facing the world as it came to him. Despite the stinging rain, this 75-year-old man had the widest smile I have ever seen. I pointed him out to the others and our stress instantly washed away. In that moment, I realized, life doesn’t need to be perfect. That night, the bioluminescent waves were really beautiful and we were filled with awe as we swam and stirred up the water to make the dinoflagellates more active. Sometimes, it’s the chaos and twists of fate that make it all worthwhile.


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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT YOUR TRUSTED TRAVEL ADVISOR TODAY 1Rate is per person, based on double occupancy, for check-in on 10/01/2022, in room category shown. Unless otherwise indicated: rates quoted are accurate at time of publication, & are per person, based on double occupancy. Airfare, taxes, surcharges, gratuities, transfers & excursions are additional. Advertised rates do not include any applicable daily resort or facility fees payable directly to the hotel at check-out; such fee amounts will be advised at the time of booking. Rates, terms, conditions, availability, itinerary, government taxes, surcharges, deposit, payment, cancellation terms/conditions & policies subject to change without notice at any time. Other restrictions may apply, including, but not limited to baggage limitations & fees, standby policies & fees, non-refundable tickets & change fees with pre-flight notification deadlines, & blackout dates. Fees & policies vary among airlines. Contact airline directly for any details or questions. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Pleasant Holidays acts only as an agent for cruise & tour providers listed. CST# 1007939-10. Pleasant Holidays is registered with the State of Florida as a Seller Of Travel ST#37983. Copyright©2022 Pleasant Holidays, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Biscuits & Jam

Recollections of a multi-family vacation in the mountains of Romania by

ALEXANDRA BADITA

“Put down the zipper!” my Mom chided, as my friends and I laughed and complied, sealing the raindrops out of our cozy tent. Our group of three families had arrived in Padina, in the Bucegi Mountains of Romania, just before a light summer rain. The adults had hurried to set up the tents and rushed all of the children, ages 9 to 12, inside, where we happily entertained ourselves with cards and games. Over the following days the warm July sunshine came back out to play … and so did we. One day, we braved the mysterious Ialomicioara Cave— home to the storied Hall of Bears and the Grotto of Zamolxis, an ancient figure some say is immortal! Another day, we hiked through the dense forest to play on the shores of Bolboci Lake. As our group walked amidst the fragrant spruce trees, I remember craving a snack. When we

People still think there are vampires in Romania. I haven’t seen one since 1645.

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(finally) stopped, I took from my little backpack some biscuits and a tiny jar of plum jam. The combination of flavors fueled me to walk for another hour without any complaints. One afternoon, we hiked up to Babele Peak, with an elevation of over 7,218 feet (2,200 meters), and got soaked by another summer shower. But we didn’t care! The days always ended with all of us laughing together over a campfire. After dark, we crouched around the dancing flames slurping instant soups without spoons. Tummies full and warm, the adults were soon ready to go to sleep. But, for the 10-yearolds, the party was just getting started. We competed to find the longest sticks and roasted marshmallows together with some fruits. The


combination tasted so delicious and the smell was so intoxicating! It took a long time to get us children to go to bed. Not even the possibility of a bear being attracted by the scent of our sweet treats was enough to convince us. This camping trip happened years ago, yet the memories are still so fresh in my mind, partly because of the pictures from back then, but mostly thanks to my journal. That’s where I rediscovered my memory of the biscuits and jam! I started writing in my first journal when I was eight. Over the years, I kept that notebook – and all the other ones that followed – as treasured childhood memories. Little did I know that, 20 years later, this habit would shape my mission in the world and I would be teaching kids and adults about the art of journaling. Today it’s well known that, whether away or at home, children who keep journals are more inclined to be connected to their emotions and express empathy and compassion with others. Journaling helps kids become more mindful of their experiences. They drink in more of the delicious details and secret them away for future enjoyment. In my case, the main motivator for keeping a travel journal as a child was the anticipation of retelling the stories. I wanted to remember every moment so that I could impress my friends with the coolest summer holiday stories when I got home. Truth is, there are numerous benefits for children journaling on vacation. The act of recording memories boosts the imagination and helps them be more mindful of each moment.

3 Tips For Vacation Journaling With Kids Tell them some great stories Start by sharing favorite stories from your childhood vacations—the more juicy details the better! When your kids see and hear you cherishing your travel memories, the desire will grow in them to save memories of their own. Model the act of journaling When parents keep journals and write VIDEO frequently, kids notice. Children tend to model their parents’ behaviors. If kids see you journaling, they will want to replicate your actions in their own notebooks.

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Resist the urge to get involved As your children record their travels, they don’t need to share them with you. This privacy will MUSIC enhance their creativity and self-awareness. They’ll pay greater attention, write more freely, and learn to identify their own emotions.

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To book a tour of Romania, contact your trusted travel advisor.. ENSEMBLE ULTIMATE FAMILY VAC ATIONS I SUMMER 2022

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TRIP PICKS Call the Sitter Sometimes, parents just want to sneak away to an all-inclusive resort for a little adult time. And that’s okay. If we did want to do such a thing, we might opt for Greece’s chill, new AluaSoul Zakynthos. Because we’re worth it.

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I Am (So Not) Spartacus by

Photo: Courtesy of Madeleine Deliee

MADELEINE DELIEE

I was lying on my back in the Roman dust, struggling to breathe again after an overly ambitious shoulder roll, when I began to question my decision to attend Gladiator School. In my defense, the description of the excursion sounded great: “Train like the gladiators! Fight like the gladiators!” It was an invitation to glory. My kids, a 12-yearold girl and 8-year-old boy, had been game from the start. “Maybe I’ll do it too,” I had

mused, expecting eye rolls. Instead, they seized on the idea. “Yeah! You do it too!” In retrospect, their enthusiasm was suspect; visions of defeating me in the arena were probably already dancing in their heads. “It’ll be fun! What a great memory!” my optimistic side had cheered. “It’ll be awful! What are you thinking?” my innerpessimist had groaned. “You’ll be fine,” I finally told myself as I signed the three of us up. It’s not like they’re giving the kids swords, right?

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The swords were surprisingly heavy. My son wobbled a little beneath the weight. “If my son can do it, so can I,” I thought. Taking a deep breath, I gave my gladius a healthy swing. By the time we reached weaponry, Spartacus – our loincloth-wearing instructor (who also taught CrossFit®) – had already run us through an obstacle course of jumping rope, dodging pendulums, and executing pushups and shoulder rolls – on repeat. I let my breath go when I realized the kids were far more adept at this than I. Relaxing into the thrill of the battle, it dawned on me that there had been a shift in our roles. For once, rather than my teaching and the kids learning, we were all on equal footing. In that arena, we were unified in sweat, trash talk, and, ultimately, cheering. 54

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Our completion certificates bore our Roman names. My son, Hermes—appropriately, the god of mischief. My daughter was Invictus, undefeated … possibly for defeating Mom? I was Achilla, after the Trojan War hero. I felt heroic as we left , sweating, dirty, gleeful, and basking in the knowledge that we had conquered this arena together. Afterwards, my daughter used a picture of me in a Roman queen’s helmet as her phone screensaver. I’m not sure I could hope for higher praise.

To book a tour or cruise to Rome, contact your travel advisor.

What do you call a traveler who doesn’t lose his temper? A nomad.


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Giggles, Grins & Ponies

by

VICTORIA CAREFORD-WHITE

“A pony-tail!” Isabelle giggled, as I tied her hair back, set the helmet atop her head, and secured the strap beneath her chin. I couldn’t help giggling too. The kids had been troopers on the overnight ferry from mainland Scotland out to where the North Atlantic meets the Norwegian and North Seas. Isabelle, aged 8 at the time, is an animal-lover, who wants monkeys, meerkats, turtles, and every other animal as pets. Her brother, Thomas, aged 10, I think secretly likes being dragged away from his computer. Each year, we try to find vacation adventures for them that are both educational and fun. This year, we had chosen the Shetland Islands, home of the world-famous ponies.

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Seabirds called out to welcome us as the ferry docked. Thankful to be on land again, we breathed in the fresh country air and set out across the heathery Shetlandic moorlands in search of the pony stables just a short distance away. Looking like proper little riders in their helmets, the kids lit up as they came face-to-face with their chocolatecolored counterparts and learned to groom their silky coats. Thomas was matched with Bjorn who was a gentle, older pony. Isabelle to Sebastian, who was very cooperative. Of course, both were happy to be fussed over. I had to laugh as Thomas “picked out” Bjorn’s hooves, applying as much concentration to the task as he gives his Minecraft® game. Next, they saddled,

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mounted, and led Sebastian and Bjorn around an obstacle course, before taking a path down to the beach. When the walk turned into a trot, both kids broke into wide grins and Isabelle hardly noticed her helmet sliding over her eyes. We could have stayed and cooed over Bjorn and Sebastian all day, but Britain’s northernmost point had more adventures in store. At Muckle Flugga, we found puffins and gulls aplenty. We clapped at seals and gawped at gannets nesting in the cliff faces. Then we visited a working croft where the kids fed lambs, ducks, and geese. And cheeky Thomas christened a turkey “Christmas Dinner.” Plan the perfect Scottish adventure with your travel advisor today.

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Howling for Isis by

JEANA SHANDRAW

A family of three travels in search of orphaned Alaskan wildlife My son, Whistler, has always loved animals. As a toddler, he would beg to go outside and "check on his friends.” Even now that he’s 12, he continues to be thrilled with every bird, squirrel, or even a bug he comes across in our backyard. So when my husband and I planned our family vacation, we thought it would be an awesome opportunity to indulge Whistler’s passion for wildlife. That's how we ended up at the Kroschel Wildlife Center for Orphaned Animals outside of Haines, Alaska. Steve Kroschel is a former Hollywood filmmaker and current quirky naturalist who creates connections between wild animals and curious humans. A fantastic host with humble Minnesota roots, he began sharing his wild stories with us the minute we arrived.

Photos: Courtesy of Jeana Shandraw

He has been rescuing and rehabilitating injured animals for decades. His family's wildlife center is a menagerie of bears, reindeer, foxes, moose, porcupines, a snowy owl, and

What is a wolf’s favorite leafy green? Arooooo-gula! 60

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even a feisty wolverine. During our visit, Whistler was transfixed by every animal we encountered. He loved hearing Steve's stories, eagerly asked questions about the animals' diets, habits, and habitats, and listened attentively to the answers. He laughed with delight when Steve had us actually howl in hopes that the resident Alaskan Wolf, Isis, would join in. And she did! We watched in amazement as Kitty the grizzly bear splashed and played in her enclosure. And we were thrilled when a curious porcupine, named Aquila, waddled over to say hello. Whistler is particularly fascinated by foxes and even got to pet one. But his favorite animal was the adorable pine marten who pounced on a ball and then rolled around to chew on it. My favorite moment was when Whistler came nose-to-nose with a surprisingly gentle moose named Karen. The whole encounter was hilariously captured on video, and it's something we laugh about when we think back on our trip. Beyond the laughs, we enjoyed soaking up knowledge in the center’s immersive learning experience, which teaches about adaptations that allow animals to survive in the cold climate of Alaska as well as the importance of respecting and protecting wildlife.


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