Travel With Bradley

TRAVEL WITH BRADLEY! Bradley has always put his clients first and his tours reflect just that. Making travel dreams a reality is his speciality. Follow this blog and he'll take you around the World!

Latest

Going Topless on New Years Day in Amish Country!

Going Topless on New Years Day!

Its feels and looks like a Spring morning in Lancaster County, PA.  The temp is so mild, you definitely do not need to wear a coat.  The sun is beaming,  The grass is green.  Some hotel guests are outside bouncing a basketball.

From Intercourse, PA to the main highway its around a 8 minute drive and during that short time we counted 17 Amish buggies on the road including 2 courting open air buggies.  The young couples sitting on the Courting Buggies looked so proud.  The young men obviously were trying to impress their dates by picking them up with their open air, “courting” buggies on New Years Day and of course the weather was ideal for their journey.

What a fun “New Years Eve Day and Night” we experienced in Lancaster County.

Our day started with a beautiful sunrise.

B565BE66-8153-4314-BE87-AB4C16D4A341

Dolly met us once again – this time to tour us around the Amish countryside and of course we could not have asked for a better expert – Dolly is just amazing.  The musicals she writes about the Amish are exceptional and my family looks forward to having Dolly and her cast of actors back at our Walters Theatre this summer.

We a number of unique stops as we traveled through this beautiful countryside  – Amish Bakery, Amish Craft Shop, Amish Hardware Store.  Many Amish farmers were busy working in the fields.

FC082DE6-E9F3-4366-8BB7-3DD15F607795

Most importantly and a tour highlight was a luncheon in the Miller’s Amish home.  Ruth Miller prepared us a delicious meal – salad with homemade dressing, boneless chicken (slow cooked for 3 hours so its very tender), beef that my passengers said was delicious, fluffy mashed potatoes that obviously had been whipped for a long time, homemade thin noodles, green beans from her garden, homemade warm bread with Amish peanut butter spread, strawberry jam, pickled beets and finally a very satisfying apple crumble with ice cream.   I loved the look of the old barn on their property.

1EB8E1DA-D29A-4AE4-B2EE-B710366AF205

2CF3C0D0-DD8E-46F7-BB00-186BA1E9EA5E

 

After our leisurely Amish luncheon we arrived back in Intercourse at 2:45pm so there was finally time to enjoy this quaint town.

We gathered a bit later for our New Years Eve event – an upscale dinner followed by a very entertaining Beatles Tribute Show from Atlanta, Georgia.  These entertainers played the parts really well.  My passengers really enjoyed their performance and were singing along to the many Beatles hit songs.  A dance band, then took the stage and soon a lively countdown brought us into 2019 with a live feed from Times Square in New York City.  Champagne was served and there was more than enough hugs and kisses to go around.  The theatre was packed so you could feel the excitement in the air.

BBC04CF0-749E-442B-A5A5-77E0CB73AAB5

 

When we arrived back at the hotel, the staff put out platters of cheese and sausage for us to enjoy before we turned in.

2B5FA2CF-8AD6-4A09-82AA-783B8D6430BC

In this part of Pennsylvania, New Years Day dinner for most of the locals, primarily consists of pork with sauerkraut.  This is considered a “good luck” meal to start the New Year.

We certainly enjoyed an exceptional start to the New Year!  

What a fun journey this has been.

Today’s New Years Day Massive Luncheon Buffet will be an earlier 11am one at Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, PA.  I have brought many groups here over the years.  Its a wonderful spot.

We’ll then continue North to Canada.  Its a fairly long drive so we won’t return until early this evening.

Thanks to my amazing passengers.  Most of them booked this journey many months ago.  I could not have asked for a better group of friends to share New Years with.  Thanks again to our Motor Coach driver, Paul.  My upcoming winter travels take me and my groups to International destinations so I’ll miss not working with him until the Spring.

Happy New Year from all of us to you!

DC088FA5-D359-473B-B6B7-CE5F0ECAAA72

Day 2 – Didn’t need a Wake-Up Call this morning!

Yesterday morning in Intercourse, PA just after 6am a siren drowned out the sound of horses hooves hitting the payment as they pulled the Amish buggies.  I didn’t know what the siren was indicating.  My first thought was a tornado so I called the front desk at our hotel and the reception host giggled when I mentioned tornado – it was the siren for the volunteer fire department.  My passengers are VERY sound sleepers because only a handful of us heard the deafening noise.

We enjoyed a wonderful day!  The weather was beautiful – so mild and sunny.  I didn’t wear my coat most of the day.

Dolly Fowler who brings her Amish shows to the Walters Theatre was our terrific guide in the morning as we traveled to Hershey, PA.  She shared with us the amazing life story of Milton Hershey – a man way ahead of his time.  He built an empire while giving back so much to the community.  The town of Hershey is beautiful.

We spent some time at Chocolate World.  Their “Disney style” ride is a fun attraction and you learn all about the making of Chocolate while on it.  I purchased my passengers a “special edition” oversize bar of milk chocolate imprinted with “Happy Holidays”.  It ended up being an ordeal for the staff to get cases of them from the warehouse but my passengers were very happy to receive them.

Our luncheon was an elegant affair in the “Circular Dining Room” at Hotel Hershey.  This was an extremely pricey event to include but I felt it was perfect for a New Years Journey.  We relaxed while we enjoyed the culinary feast.  The seafood selections were so fresh and my goodness, the desserts were luscious. There was even a bit of time often brunch to gander in the beautiful shops at this very upmarket historic hotel.

9A22CAEA-AB16-40EC-81E6-588FA5088BBF

We then traveled to Lancaster, PA.  Our destination was the American Music Theatre.  We enjoyed prime front seats for “The First Noel”, their massive in-house produced Musical show.  I don’t believe you can find a more elaborate Christmas production than this one anywhere in North America.  The staging, costumes, lighting, choreography – just everything is beyond exceptional.  You leave the theatre going WOW that really was an amazing event.  I’d like to start bringing groups every year to see this thrilling show that changes yearly.

D1829C06-DF15-43C0-AFBA-558C105DBCC0

We arrived at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre just as they opened their hearty dinner buffet.  Once again our seats were prime for the their production of “The Christmas Carol”.  As one of my passengers said all 3 shows that we have seen so far on this journey have each been “outstanding” in their own way.  The production of “The Christmas Carol” was so impressive.  It was amazing how many actors they fit on their smaller stage.  

4DB7B064-BF7D-47F0-BB2E-2401AF81A8F0

We were back at the hotel just after 9am so many gathered in the comfortable lobby, sipped on wine and reminisced about our excellent day!

Where Did the Year Go? New Years Mystery Tour is Back Again!

I have been running New Years Mystery Journeys for a number of years.  Many of the passengers are yearly regulars.  They are like a little family.

We enjoyed a bountiful turkey dinner in Woodstock, ON the evening before travel and were the road after breakfast at 7am yesterday morning.

This journey sold out a number of months ago so the coach is full.

When we finally were to the point of getting cleared at the  border it was a very easy procedure but we were delayed over an hour getting to that point.  There was a very long delay getting to the initial custom booth – not sure why – possibly a shift change?  A full line-run coach was just a couple minutes ahead of us and since 1 coach is looked after at a time they were first.  Unlike a charter when you travel on a line-run they really check passengers over and luggage has to be taken off the coach.  That ate up a chunk of time while we waiting for them.  In a few minutes we were done and the custom agents were very friendly but the waiting put us behind an hour and we were unable to make that up during our travels.

I treated everyone with a taste of Canada (Tim Horton donuts) at our New York State break stop.  Even though we were a hour late arriving for lunch we still sat down at a very decent time 12:15pm.  The Corning Glass Museum in Corning, NY always treats my groups extremely well.  We ended up with prime private seating in their beautiful auditorium.  The 3 courses they served were excellent.  Everyone enjoyed the beef medallions and I heard rave reviews about the pumpkin/raspberry torte (a combination you would not think of).

E4CE7C5A-B357-47B5-977C-8464D08F9938

Our next rest break was a Walmart stop – so convenient when traveling through rural towns as they always have ample, clean facilities.  

Our 1 hour border delay mean’t we lost the hour we would have had at the hotel before dinner so I asked my regular Motor Driver, Paul to take us directly to dinner in the town of Bird n Hand.  The buffet was as excellent as always, featuring a large variety of homemade Amish specialities.  This restaurant is well known for their speciality – ham balls.  The many dining rooms were packed.

Paul and I headed to our hotel in the town of, “Intercourse” PA to drop our passengers luggage.  This beautiful hotel came highly recommended by Dolly Fowler who brings her Amish Musical Productions to the Walters Theatre.

As soon as I stepped into the hotel lobby I was impressed.  The hotel has a very homey feel, unlike most corporate run hotels.  Its the little details that makes this property so much better.  The staff is obviously hand picked – they are overly friendly and so professional.  Most important the hotel is spotless clean.

After dinner we entered a theatre to see the heartwarming Musical Production of, “A Christmas to Remember”.   Everyone loved the show – one passengers told me it should be on broadway.  This production was an earlier 7pm start so we were on back on the coach at 8:30pm.  Our hotel is conveniently just a couple minutes away so after a travel day everyone appreciated the early night.

EA78A8B2-4321-4F57-90B1-017437C7D84A

A wonderful first day of traveling with a wonderful group of passengers!

Day 3/5 – Stowe At Christmas is like “Opening A Christmas Card”!

The legendary Bing Crosby enjoyed a White Christmas in Vermont and the tourists have been flocking here ever since.

Stowe at Christmas is Like Opening A Christmas Card!

We could not have asked for more ideal “Christmas tour” weather – yes, the air was frigid BUT since over 90 inches of snow has already fallen in Stowe, it was truly a winter wonderland.   

Stowe combines a classic 200 year old village with the beauty of Mt Mansfield, Vermonts highest peak.

The “Trapp Family Lodge” attracts guests from all over World, mainly because of the family history and the movie “Sound of Music”.  The lodge was our home for 2 nights.  Its atmosphere is homey, its layout a bit of a maze so it takes a while to get your bearings, its location is isolated and that adds to its rustic charm.  The mountain views looking outward from the lodge are amazing.  

I arranged for my passengers to meet and chat with “Sam Von Trapp”.  He is Grandson of Maria.  As a “surprise souvenir” I purchased the “Maria” biography for my passengers and Sam graciously signed them.  

The cuisine at the lodge and their nearby brewery was delicious and well presented.  In fact all of our meals in Vermont were excellent.

We visited some of the local culinary attractions – cheese shops, pewter operation, spirits shop, made-in-Vermont stores and of course Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.  Over 750,000 visit Ben and Jerry’s every year making it one of the top 3 attractions along with a store that attracts thousands because they want to taste their freshly made hot apple cider donuts.

There was time to take pictures at the base of one of Stowe’s beautiful Ski Hills. 

Strolling along Stowe’s Main Stree, decorated with twinkling lights put us all in the Christmas spirit.

On our way home our “surprise” luncheon was at Quebec’s top sugar shack.  We were transported to this complex in the middle of a forest by horse and wagon.  This was a tour highlight for many.  A traditional québécois family style feast and live entertainment added to this wonderful experience.

We spent one night in Kingston, ON at the Delta which is rated the best in the city.  

There were a couple more highlights as we traveled home – pie for everyone at the Big Apple attraction and an exceptional farewell luncheon at one of the finest culinary establishments in Toronto – the elegant, Old Mill.  One of my passengers recalled  dining here with an agricultural group 66 years ago!

All in all I don’t think one could have asked for more beautiful Christmas Journey.  

We returned home to green grass and no snow which certainly doesn’t look like a Christmas card but we can cherish our wonderful wintery memories from picturesque Stowe, Vermont.  

Day 2 – Onwards to Picturesque – Stowe, Vermont

It was a wintery crisp morning when we woke.

Breakfast and service was excellent.

We were met by a couple Montreal experts who showed us the sights of this city which is known for having the “largest Underground City in the World”.  Their tour highlighted some of the many “one-of-a-kind” Christmas displays around town.

Todays luncheon was at an excellent Steakhouse in Old Town – owned by an immigrant family from Greece who arrived in Canada many years ago with very little but after a great deal of hard work, now own many restaurants and even a few top hotels in the city.  My passengers had a choice of 3 entrees but most picked the steak with Montreal “frites”.  Many restaurant critics rate their steakhouse as one of the top ones in town, some say its the very best.

23762D5F-49E5-4FE8-AFBA-254F92A65FCC

After lunch it wasn’t too long of a drive before we crossed into scenic Vermont.  Border procedures were very simple.  In fact we didn’t have to get off the coach.  The very friendly customs official collected our passports and scanned them in the customs building.  She then passed them back to me to distribute to my passengers.

The Mountain View’s on our way to Stowe were just spectacular.

ED28604A-FAE5-4061-8C13-6C6549A2B368.jpeg0E761F55-7974-4D89-BCB8-56F87A7C0CE6

Stowe looks like a Christmas postcard.  There is plenty of snow here – a few feet of the white stuff is on the ground,  but the roads are perfectly clear.

Our home for 2 nights is the famous Trapp Family Lodge.

After our arrival we gathered in a meeting space for a historical tour of the Trapp family who we all know thanks to the movie, “The Sound of Music”.

As an added surprise I arranged for Sam Von Trapp, Grandson of Maria to chat with my group and answer their questions.  He is going to return tomorrow for a private book signing.

5762288A-314E-4CBB-A7CD-E981EBF7CB1B

The Trapp Family Lodge is a bit of a maze to get around but everyone is getting their bearings.  My group has basically filled the rooms in this small, very homey resort.  The rooms are fitting with Stowe’s mountainous terrain.  Its the sweeping views that are most impressive due to the higher elevation location of the lodge.

310BE1A7-C777-4EC8-A2FD-EFD14871992D

Some of my passengers are making themselves right at home – wearing their slippers as they walk around.918C29A2-60E4-4B4F-B633-CBFCC7721CC8.jpeg

 

Dinner was off-sight at the Trapp Family brewery.  This is a very large operation.  My group is the largest that they have ever had dine with them.  Their chef is top notch as the cuisine was exceptional – so much variety and everything was delicious.  Some of my passengers were after recipes – they even make their own mustards.

The lodge is filled with many “private” areas where you can gather with family and friends to chat or play board games so many of my passengers took advantage of this last nights before retiring for the evening,

5DFE62C8-1BEA-48AD-91D0-24ACFEDA6500

The weather has been gloomy here for a couple weeks so the locals are happy to see todays blue sky.  I teased the locals telling them that we brought Canadian sunshine with us!

 

 

 

Day 1 – Christmas Cheer in Montreal

When I announced a “Christmas Themed” Journey to Stowe, VT it sold-out in record time.  Vermont is a perfect Christmas holiday destination.

There are 90 of us on this getaway.  We enjoyed a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings and an overnight stay at the Quality Inn, Woodstock the night before this “Travel With Bradley” departure.

After a hearty breakfast we were ready to depart.  I’m pleased to have Bonnie hosting one of the coaches.  She has traveled the World with groups and is just as excited about this journey as I am.  Paul and Kevin are our professional coach drivers.

We stopped in the small community of Napanee, ON for an old-fashioned luncheon smorgasbord.  What a spread – turkey, roast beef, red snapper, pasta, variety of homemade salads, real mashed potatoes – the list goes on and one….  The dessert table was so tempting – it was filled with freshly baked tortes and cakes.  Thanks to this family run operation for opening especially for us on a Sunday morning.

Surpringly we have more snow at home than they do in the Montreal area, where there is just a dusting of the white stuff on the ground.  The temperatures are cold but we are dressed for it.

The boutique hotel that I hand selected for our stay is an exceptional one.  Our suite accommodations dazzled my passengers.  All rooms are unique so it was “open house” for a while as my passengers checked out each other’s accommodations.

 

3ABF3031-17E8-49E1-8BB0-2DB919DE12A2  My passengers then dressed in their festive finery for our Welcome Banquet which reminded me of wedding reception – without a bride and groom….

3072E18A-CC11-4CC2-9811-FF2DF3848E94

The surroundings in the elegant banquet space was ideal for this festive occasion and the delicious dinner was perfect!

8FCA9861-3741-46AE-8020-D6FD9DFEAD1288FF032F-D875-4FC6-8F04-148341F35F22001C1A0A-5AF6-4066-9FB2-BC0133DF29D0A54B74BA-16D3-4136-A93B-938C13556990

 

19963E9F-CC9E-48BB-B4BE-0C5080EB54DB

The staff at this family run, boutique property are so professional.  Its a pleasure dealing with them.  I’ll look forward to bringing them more groups.

After dinner some enjoyed the large indoor pool, others strolled and took pricture of the beautiful Christmas displays.  Everyone eventually relaxed in the beautiful accommodations. 13257D2D-7004-482A-8287-5D5EA38119AF

The NEW “Celebrity EDGE” – Bradley’s Review

When I am asked how I would describe the “Brand New” Celebrity EDGE – the first word that comes to mind is “WOW”!

BFBC49B8-554D-49A3-BAB2-807BCC3B54A3

If you have sailed on a cruise ship in the past, don’t expect the EDGE experience to be the same – the EDGE has dramatically raised the bar and is a totally NEW innovation.  

This ship is very high tech and creative.  Its design is beautiful.  The public areas look spectacular.  It reminds me of an ultra-luxury hotel.  The colors are calming – nothing loud and brash.  As I walked around the ship I kept saying that word “WOW” over and over again.

When stepping on its many interior carpets I noticed how plush they are – you sink into them.

A new cruise terminal was built in Ft. Lauderdale/Port Everglades to accommodate the EDGE.  Its by far the most impressive cruise terminal I have ever entered.  It definitely matches the quality of the EDGE – it is stunning.

E34951B3-3701-4683-9C27-05880601C420.jpeg

Celebrity now allows you to pre-register for your cruise by using their app.  You take a picture of your passport and yourself using your tablet or cell phone – then fill in a few questions and you are basically done.  If you take a few minutes at home to do this prior to sailing, it makes check-in at this new terminal an absolute breeze.  When you finish this at-home process you end up with a bar code on your phone or tablet which a staff member at the new terminal scans.  Next you go through security (just like at an airport) and after one more scan of your unique bar code you walk on the ship.  Your stateroom keys are waiting for you at the entrance of your cabin in a very secure package.  If the package has been tampered with you take those keys to the front desk for replacement.  No lines – no waiting – I could not believe how seamless this procedure is.  The competition cruise lines will take note of this.  Certainly, Celebrity now has the easiest and quickest check-in process.  Well done.

The Edge is 129,500 tons and can cary 2900 passengers.  I was very fortunate to be one of the very few invited to the EDGE naming ceremony 2 night innagural cruise. 

4AB3BB57-C06C-48B4-8B3F-E8B2165B8D02

On board were a few top tier tour professionals but it was mainly VIP’s along with press and bloggers who were invited.  I mingled with some very exciting people – the owner of Fine Cooking Magazine, a pair of male bloggers from England who have over 1 million subscribers, a UK film maker who often works with the Royal Family and is personal friends with Price Harry, the publisher of the #1 cruise magazine in Germany, a staff writer from People Magazine and an eccentric instagram foodie from NYC.  I learned a great deal from all of them.

Since there were so few of us on board its impossible for me to comment on how busy this ship will feel when it is full, but I have to assume that this was carefully considered when designing this one-of-a-kind cruise ship.

When I entered the Grand Lobby for the first time my first word was WOW.  Its design is cutting EDGE.  When I walked into my infinite balcony stateroom I said WOW again.  I spent hours walking around the ship – and kept repeating WOW over and over again!

0CACC713-3521-418F-B905-21EF08DE3BF3AE5529F8-6B08-43D4-B058-C141E5C16BC2

Over 80% of the staterooms on board the EDGE are either balcony or outside.

I was fortunate to be placed in an infinite “balcony” stateroom.  The infinite balconies on the EDGE are unlike other cruise ship balconies – somewhat similar in design to what you will find on newer river cruise boats.

The EDGE “infinite” balcony is an extension to your stateroom making it 23% larger and features a floor to ceiling window.  When I walked into my stateroom for the first time the first thing I saw was the ocean – the view was incredible.

There are up and down buttons beside the balcony window – which allows you to bring 1/2 of that window glass down and back up – this quickly transforms the outside space to inside space.  There are 2 very comfortable balcony chairs to sit on while enjoying the vast views and fresh air, but unlike some cruise ship balconies I don’t believe you are going to be able to sit in this area to get a suntan.  Easy to close Bi-fold doors make this area even more traditionally Balcony like.

The EDGE Stateroom restrooms are much larger than you are going to find on most cruise ships and the curved glass door shower compartment is SO large which is an added bonus.  Electrical plugs are out-of-sight to keep a clean look.  The hairdryer is stored in the vanity drawer (glad my rooms steward pointed that out because I didn’t realize a drawer was there as it so easily blends into the vanity).  The bathroom towels are thick and fluffy just as you would expect on a luxury cruise vessel.

In the main part of the stateroom there is a decent size closet which contains a very generous 22 removable clothes hangers (you can always request more) along with a number of drawers.  

The extremely comfortable stateroom bed has 8 pillows on it (4 oversize useable ones plus 4 decorative), there is also a small lounger and a desk with chair.  

An oversize flat screen television sits on the wall in front of the bed.

The colors in the staterooms are calming – greys and dark purples with a pop of red in the framed wall print.

A white box on the desk nicely keeps out of the way, many electrical outlets and usb plugs.  There are also usb plugs conveniently located next to the bed making it easy to charge your cell phone and tablet.  The phone which is next to the bed is a treated anti-bacteria device.

Bedding is of a high tread count.

The wall panel controls are very simple to use.

The EDGE staterooms are very high end – so beautiful yet so comfortable.

 

5EA3DCA3-C2D4-468E-83A6-65575C15C3B43854A79E-4A58-452D-9766-F9AF5E828E16.jpeg

4E571050-0674-4424-BC08-D874F824DB7C

9969D485-A7B3-4861-A9D2-1F72ABAB0538.jpeg

There are some outside and a handful of single occupancy staterooms that also have incorporated floor to ceiling windows but they do not open – another innovation improvement over other other ships that feature small port holes or no-view single staterooms.

I toured all the suite categories – these include some very glamorous suites that are bi-level.

Ok – what next?

Let’s talk about the restaurants on board.

The EDGE dining is innovative too.  There isn’t just one main dining like you find on almost all cruise ships – on the EDGE there are 4 smaller, very intimate main dining rooms that are as elaborate as any cruise “speciality” restaurants.  These main dining rooms are themed – French, Italian, Greek and Cosmopolitan.  Their interiors are totally unique and remind me of very high end, big city restaurants – absolutely beautiful.

These restaurants offer extensive menus with some items exclusive to that restaurant (these themed selections don’t change from day to day), and there are classic food items that are the same in all 4 restaurants and remain the same from day to day (Caesar Salad, Shrimp Cocktail etc) and then there are a variety of food items that are just offered that evening ONLY in all of the 4 restaurants.

It is my understanding when reserving your cruise if you decide on “Select Dining” you can switch among the 4 different main dining rooms.  If you pick “Early or Late Dining” you will be assigned to 1 of these dining rooms for the duration of the cruise. 

There is also a massive, large selection buffet area that features vast views of the ocean, a spa cafe, pastries in the Coffee Bistro and in another corner off the atrium lobby plus a lighter entree salad/sandwich/soup location next to the 3 level Eden Area.  Don’t forget to try out the outdoor Grill for burger/fries.

There are also a number of speciality “for a fee” restaurants that you will not currently find on other Celebrity Ships – including a very glamorous Steak House, French Bistro, Raw Bar, Outdoor Garden Cafe, and the Eden sit down restaurant.  One of these speciality restaurants features an unique “one of a kind” experience.  Your dining room table comes to life as you watch small characters create your meal – I watched patrons constantly clapping for these “make believe” characters.  I can’t wait for the opportunity to try the “Le Petit Chef” experience when I sail on the EDGE next time.  

DE09F956-2C04-4F79-BEEA-7BCFB3AA6CE5

Most Edge cruisers will be thrilled with the four “no fee” main dining rooms and won’t find the need to pay for a speciality restaurant because the atmosphere in the main dining rooms is very “speciality dining” like and the menu selections are extensive and very impressive.

6EAAFAE4-5C19-4F94-B7E1-4B22C0E74A69

If you have been reading about this cruise ship I’m sure you have heard about its Magic Carpet.  When I first learned about it I wondered if it was just a gimmick but when I experienced it I loved it.  The magic carpet is basically a luxurious moveable  platform deck the size of a tennis court that hangs over the side of the ship with many purposes including a relaxing seating area with commanding views, a lounge, at other times it transforms into a speciality restaurant.  Its main home is on Deck 14.

AE3CF93C-4483-47A9-A196-B398853CD4D0

The Magic Carpet can magically be lowered to Deck 2 where it becomes a spectacular landing for boarding tenders heading to shore.  This landing makes it ideal especially for those with mobility changes to get between the cruise ship and tenders.  In fact a young lady who is confined to a wheelchair was smiling from ear to ear when she very easily rode her motorized large wheelchair on the tender. 

I had the opportunity to try this “Magic Carpet Tender Landing” and it was just incredible.  I was “actually excited” about boarding a tender boat because of it.  The area that you gather in before getting on the Magic Carpet platform is also very beautiful.  The “Magic Carpet” lounge remained open as we boarded the tenders.  Many passengers were enjoying beverages on this platform before boarding a tender.

Currently there isn’t any other ship that can state their tender service experience comes anywhere close to on the EDGE.  

3218A8C8-BAC3-4650-8A13-AE074AF640CD

Wait until you board the EDGE tender boats.  As the travel writer that was sitting next to me stated, these tender boat seats are nicer than what United Airlines offers in business class.  They are wide and so comfortable.  These tender boats are even air conditioned!  I can’t believe I am calling tender boats “luxurious” but on the EDGE they are!  I hear rumors that these tenders cost over 1.6 Million each!

9BD72BB3-A26F-44CB-9423-0ADBC433B74D

 

The Magic Carpet is one of many unique EDGE venues.  

EDEN is a massive 3 level “dream like/fantasy” area that incorporates 2 restaurants and a massive lounge/sitting area.  It quickly becomes a favourite day and night destination on the EDGE.  Its filled with tropical plants and has a conservatory vibe.

EB4B960A-9821-43D0-A758-EC834503993B

DB44A743-09A0-490A-9135-ADB56190898D

Another hang out area is the impressive designed outdoor garden which features another restaurant, plenty of outdoor park like seating, a big screen for showing movies and a stage for live music performances.  

291BF161-C403-4890-AA97-BC2A9F8F3696The multi-story main Atrium is the ultimate gathering place for a beverage before heading for dinner.  Its so architecturally stunning, its hard to describe.  Truly another WOW!  The only negative comment I have about it is when this area is at capacity, its loud so if you are going to enjoy a romantic dinner in one of the surrounding speciality restaurants ask for a table away from the noise.  

6D87BB96-2AF3-4704-9E20-374C23040763

The main “partially in the round” theatre is smaller than on most cruise ships so it’s more intimate.  Its audio/visual components are as impressive as the stage show I experienced at a recent “Elton John” concert.

I watched two productions in this space – one show was “pretty far out there” and although it highlighted the theatres impressive technology, I couldn’t figure out what the meaning was of this very futuristic extravaganza.   I forced myself to stay thinking that maybe it might get better but I ended up being one of many that left early.  This is not to say that some people are going to enjoy this “Jewelry Box” Production but it was not my cup of tea…

The other show I saw was so good I came back to watch it again later that evening.  It was basically a high energy live concert event – Marcus Terell, the lead singer was terrific and so was his band and back up singers.  The audio/visual effects were mind blowing.  An exciting atmosphere.

8468E0A6-E7C2-42FD-AA31-11F8378689DDF242A621-7957-4376-A3F1-47A932D1139E

 

The EDGE has produced 5 exclusive productions which avoids having to fly in main-stage entertainment.  This is now a trend with most cruise lines.  I’m not a fan of this but its the way the cruise industry is going.

I feel once Celebrity Cruise Lines gets feedback on its current entertainment there will be some changes, in order to cater to ALL age groups.  Currently I believe the entertainment is “somewhat” slanted to a Millennial Crowd.  I was told its basically an older demographic that has been flocking on the maiden cruises so I believe the entertainment needs to be more varied.  Celebrity will see this need and I expect will make the changes.  My fingers are crossed that a piano bar lounge and singer will return.

The extensive gym features Peloton spinning bikes so you can attend a live-streaming class.

Most shops on board are pretty high end – there is even a Tiffany’s and Cartier store.  One renowned parfumerie has given the EDGE an exclusive to carry her brand.   I don’t think you’ll see the $10. morning sales like you often see on many other cruise ships.

16D91BD5-7563-4F3C-8A7E-0AE3A96341CA.jpeg

The main outdoor pool is large and very impressive and so is the adults only atrium indoor pool.  There is ample “comfortable” loungers surrounding them and vast views of the ocean.  Don’t be surprised if a staff member brings around a treat for you to enjoy while you are basking in the sun.  Try out the jacuzzis resemble oversized Martini Glasses.

95C1C094-6DDD-4BAA-A6DB-EDB51043A93E

BB15ACE7-353F-4C6A-9B75-7654D6997805

746E86F6-A403-4534-A4E9-991D1BCEAA96.jpegC81522C6-A725-446C-B964-0D4127390830.jpeg

If you are lucky enough to be staying in a suite you can enjoy a wonderful private outdoor retreat with a smaller pool and hot tub.  

7AB64C6F-0C42-4943-870E-44FE99568839

There are 6 oversize, very beautiful, “for a fee” cabanas on the resort deck but their placement is strange – they do not face the pool and don’t seem to be very private.  

A7D8D7DB-0175-42E3-AC35-21B4FBA6D71D.jpeg

I don’t think the EDGE caters to a family audience.  There are more suitable ships out there for families.

The Celebrity Edge is the newest cruise ship on the market and you need to put her on your “travel list”.  Sitting on the “Magic Carpet” is a must for all!  Celebrity Ships are designed for comfort.  Grab a free freshly made waffle cone ice cream from Scoops and sit in one of the ships very comfy chairs – they are not hard to find – “private” areas are everywhere.  I have never sat on a Celebrity Cruise chair that isn’t overly comfy.

Cruisers have been waiting many years for the EDGE to arrive.  It delivers more than it promised.  Can you believe, it is possible to open your stateroom door, and dim your interior stateroom lights using your cell phone!

Malala Yousafzai is the 21 year old “godmother” of the Edge.  She is the first Nobel prize recipient to christen a cruise ship.  The Edge features a crew of 30% women.  The EDGE next-in-line Captain is also a woman.

F564B856-0B33-4ED9-A214-161D4541EE9C

The ship is a blockbuster. 

Be sure to join me from Feb 15-23, 2020 as we sail the EDGE in the Caribbean.  Space is already limited for this “Travel With Bradley” departure.

The EDGE has defined the NEW future of the cruise in industry.

B191B08E-0AF5-4D9A-92FA-FB9895B5F269

I can’t wait to sail on her again!  1641A6A6-C2D1-428C-82CC-2E3CFE342884

Day 4 – Frankenmuth, MI – Homeward Bound

After a hearty Amish style breakfast we departed Shipshewana, IN.

What a beautiful day for traveling – mild temps and sunny, blue skies.

At 11:30am we arrived in the German themed town of, Frankenmuth, MI for our farewell luncheon at Zehnder’s and what a delicious feast it was!

Crossing the border back into Canada was quick so we arrived back in Woodstock, ON, 30 minutes ahead of time – 430pm.

I think my passengers appreciated the opportunity to start their own homeward journey while the sun was still out.

We all enjouyed a wonderful time on this journey that was filled with country, gospel and Christmas music – of course there were also many delicious meals!

The Amish Community of Shipshewana made us feel so welcome.

As usual my passengers were just terrific.  I thank them for traveling with me.  I appreciated the many new passengers that joined us.  Welcome to the family!

Thanks to my Mom for helping me out on this journey.  Thank you to Paul, our professional coach driver.

After that festive getaway we are definitely in the Christmas Spirit!

DB4EB7A1-0250-4A72-B7FA-A6B2A634EC5FA0389F61-E0D4-4780-8823-87D8DD46EE927A628A06-BBBF-438B-BE72-B0A1B5C105F811879EA3-6CB2-47B0-947D-616EAFE75A80

 

 

Day 3 – “Gatlin and Booth Brothers” Christmas

Enjoyed another terrific day visiting Indiana’s Amish Country.

3D908031-B9E3-48FD-B3BE-AA018DA46364

This afternoon the cast of “Annie” at Amish Acres Round Barn in Nappanee, Indiana kept us entertained with their very professional production!  The young Annie was a superb actress.  Couldn’t have asked for better seats in the theatre – 1st 3 rows!

We enjoyed Christmas music during dinner performed by a talented pianist.

This evening “The Gatlin Brothers” and “The Booth Brothers” took the stage in Shipshewana, IN – a perfect “Farewell” Christmas Show – amazing harmonies.

Larry Gatlin performed at our Walters Dinner Theatre a couple years ago.  I have been a fan of the Gatlin’s for decades and could easily listen to their sweet music day after day.

Tomorrow we’ll start to head home filled with the Christmas Spirit.  Shipshewana, IN has treated us so well!

Day 2 – Gaither Homecoming – Christmas Edition

It was a foggy start to the morning in Shipshewana, IN.

8C79D9FF-75C4-4147-B300-7D25AC21F83A

Breakfast at our hotel was buffet style.  An busy Amish cook prepares 5 “made to order” omelettes at a time.

Our first stop of the day was at the Jayco House Trailer Manufacturing Plant where 60% of the employees are Amish.  Young Amish can start working here at the age of 16.  It was an amazing experience watching the speed of the workers – with NO exaggeration they “run”!   We toured the 5th wheel trailer plant on the large campus.  Trailers aren’t made until an order is placed and we understand that business is currently booming – there is even high demand for their $700,000 luxury models.  

There is a bit of controversy though.  These very difficult hourly jobs pay well – approx 75 G a year so many Amish make a career here instead of on the farm as land prices are 30 G an acre and its therefore next to impossible to pay off a farm during a lifetime.  When you work for Jayco or other similar firms you can be debt free.  

Employees work for an hourly wage and there is very little absenteeism.  They start early in the morning and finish early in the afternoon so it is possible to still run a secondary business like growing ducks which is a very popular local Amish business.  

Many of my passengers have toured and some worked at Car Manufacturers at home.  They said they could not believe how different the work ethic was here in comparison.  

We were then welcomed into an Amish Home for lunch.  The “Amish haystack” meal was scrumptious.  The Amish often offer “haystack” fundraiser dinners.  We piled 14 ingredients on our plate just like a “haystack”.  Let me see if I can remember most of the ingredients – crushed crackers, then sticky rice, followed by hamburger prepared with taco seasoning, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers, green olives, black olives, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, crunched up nacho chips, shredded cheese and finally a cheddar cheese sauce covers everything.  Its a mighty filling meal.

Our Amish host told me she prepares a “morning breakfast style haystack” – biscuits piled with vegetables and meats, at Christmas for her family.

There was a choice of 2 different homemade pies for dessert – custard or raspberry cream.  I think our many “hot tea” orders took them a little off guard – they are use to serving coffee to fellow Americans and welcome few Canadian guests so were unaware that many of us drink hot tea.

We then travelled through the countryside with a very friendly/knowledgeable Amish man,  We visited many local Amish family businesses including – a basket maker (works of art), cheese manufacturer (many samples, great variety and SO reasonable to purchase), buggy shop (fascinating – just like buying a car with SO many options – saw a completed special order that was ordered for an attraction in New Orleans 85G).  Finally we visited a popcorn shop – everyone received a complimentary bag of popcorn and most of my passengers purchased a supply of kernels to bring home!

There was just enough time to freshen up at our hotel before heading out for dinner.  The restaurant was PACKED with people waiting for tables but of course we had a reserved space for our Family Style Amish Meal – tonight I selected chicken and roast beef as the meat choices for my passengers.  Delicious meal!

It was a very soupy, foggy evening but we only had short distance to travel before we arrived at the event centre for the “Gaither Christmas Homecoming” Concert.  I’ve been following the Gaither’s for years and often fly to Nashville or other American Cities to see their shows.  Their Christmas Concerts are always my favourite.

There were a number of guest entertainers on the program including the Nelon Family.  This is the first time I saw them on stage – Mother/Father/2 daughters – powerhouse performance – amazing harmonies.  The Gaither Vocal Band is who the crowd came to see and they never disappoint.  The show lasted around 3 hours which is so typical for Gaither Homecoming Events.  An absolute spectacular performance.  My passengers were trilled.

I invited everyone to a private “Ice Cream Sundae” social after the show.  I noticed a number of the man enjoyed a 2nd sundae – that ice cream was so good!

The day was a great one!  I have another busy one with some terrific stops planned for tomorrow!