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Hockey Night in Cuba: Cruise the Caribbean with former NHL players

- November 6th, 2014
Bernie Nicholls, Jack Valiquette and Gary Leeman. (QMI Agency file photos)

Bernie Nicholls, Jack Valiquette and Gary Leeman. (QMI Agency file photos)

This winter, cruise Cuba with some of the NHL’s biggest stars.

Former players from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers have joined Cuba Cruise to launch the special Hockey Night in Cuba cruise program, combining fun in the sun with special events featuring six players from across Canada.

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The seven-night cruise will depart Havana on Jan. 12, 2015 before sailing to six ports of call, including Santiago de Cuba and Montego Bay, Jamaica. A free commemorative jersey, Canadian beer, Alberta steaks, meet-and-greets with players including Bernie Nicholls, Gary Leeman and Jack Valiquette, and hockey-themed events are all part of the program.

Courtsy Cuba Cruise

Courtsy Cuba Cruise

“We are excited to welcome aboard some of Canada’s great hockey champions this season, such as 1993 Stanley Cup winner Gary Leeman,” Dugald Wells, Cuba Cruise president, said in a statement. “Creating unique programs for fellow Canadians to enjoy both onshore and onboard is our top priority, from serving Canadian beer and broadcasting NHL games in our Sports Bar to offering Hemingway-inspired walking tours and Cuban countryside visits.”

Rates for the Hockey Night in Cuba cruise start at $1,442, including taxes and flights from Toronto. Cruise-only rates start at $830. Up to two kids sail for free. To book and for full details, visit yourcubacruise.com and use code HOCKEY.

Mix up some scares with Halloween cocktails from the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

- October 29th, 2014
(Courtesy Fairmont Scottsdale Princess)

(Courtesy Fairmont Scottsdale Princess)

Boo! If you’re throwing a Halloween party this year and are looking for a few frightful drinks to mix up for friends, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has a spooktacular solution with three specialty drinks from their Plaza Bar.

Based on classic tales of horror, The Ripper, Wolfsbane and Penny Dreadful martinis are the perfect brew for this haunting time of year. The Plaza Bar itself will also be decorated in the spirit of foggy 1880s Victorian London, complete with walking dead waiters. Find ingredients for these three wicked potions below and happy Halloween!

Haunted Halloween drinks – Courtesy Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Ripper – The featured craft cocktail poured from The Plaza Bar’s celebrated “black handle” masterfully mixed with house-made raspberry vodka, blood orange syrup and lemon juice, served up with a bay leaf.

Wolfsbane – An elixir inspired by werewolf legends, it is made with 1 ½ ounces sweet rum, ½ ounce of violet reduction, ¾ ounce of lime juice and is served over ice and garnished with a rosemary sprig.

Penny Dreadful – Giving a nod to the sensational and cheap 19th Century British novels, this cocktail is made with 1 ½ ounces house-made lime vodka, ½ ounce of lime cordial, ½ ounce of simple syrup and 2 ounces of bitter lemon soda and is served tall with an edible flower garnish.

Canadians crossing the U.S. border for cheaper airfare

- October 23rd, 2014
(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Have you ever driven across the border to an American airport to catch your flight? According to new data from New York state’s Buffalo Niagara International Airport, 2 million Canadians did just that from Buffalo alone when vacationing last year.

Drawn by a trio of cost-and-time saving benefits, Canadians have decided that an extra hour spent driving to the airport is well worth it. By crossing the border, travellers avoid ever increasing airport taxes and fees, save by booking domestic U.S. fares and go through customs and immigration at a land crossing instead of at the airport.

“Southern Ontarians have to bear some of the highest travel costs in the country,” Pascal Cohen, senior manager of marketing & aviation business development at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, said in a statement. “We are here to offer an attractive alternative for travellers to save on their travel by flying from across the border.”

WHAT CANADIAN AIRPORTS ARE CHEAPEST TO FLY FROM? Check out the 2014 Airport Affordability Index from Cheapflights.ca

Using fare pricing from Travelocity.com, the Buffalo Airport estimates a family of four will save more than $500 by flying to Orlando, Fla. from Buffalo instead of Toronto Pearson International Airport. Rates for parking are also about $20 cheaper per week in Buffalo.

“We are rolling out the red carpet to Canadians to experience all of the benefits of flying from Buffalo,” said Cohen. “Once they do, we know we will see them again.”

airport
Fee comparison example for a party of four, flying roundtrip to Orlando in February 2015 (Tuesday to Tuesday). Includes first checked in bag per traveller and parking for one week in lowest priced discount lot. Average of lowest available airfares inclusive of taxes per Travelocity.com. 

Chile: Event highlights wine, food, culture of South American country

- October 22nd, 2014

 

Think of Chile and visions of a long country – 4,300 km in length to be exact – with fantastic wine, UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Easter Island and Valparaiso, and delicious seafood come to mind. But at a Tourism Chile event at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario, I discovered Chile offers much more – from skiing to whale watching, magical caves to relaxing spas and retreats. To learn more about travel to Chile, visit chile.travel.

 

Day of the Dead: Experience Mexico’s festival of life and death with Velas Resorts

- October 21st, 2014
(Nicole Feenstra/QMI Agency)

(Nicole Feenstra/QMI Agency)

The leaves are falling off the trees and Halloween costumes are being prepared, but Canadians can experience an entirely different fall celebration during Mexico’s Day of the Dead – or Dia de los Muertos – Festival of Life and Death.

The three day festival from Oct. 31 to Nov.2 is a time for Mexicans to remember and honour loved ones who have passed away. Traditions include building colourful altars to the dead, designing sugar skulls, baking sweet breads and creating candles or paper decorations.

PHOTOS: Day of the Dead 2013

Velas Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit and Vallarta want to share these traditions with Canadian visitors with travel packages that include unique Day of the Dead experiences. Take a trip to a cemetery to smell the scents of incense on the altars, savour the food of the feast for the souls and witness ancient rituals that culminate in pulsating drums and hypnotic dances.

Rates range from $167 per person, per night for a studio suite at the Velas Vallarta to $613 per person, per night at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s grand class suite. For more details, visit velasresorts.com.