Summer Sale with Avalon Waterways!

Have you been thinking about a river cruise through Europe? Now is your chance to save big with Avalon Waterways! Save up to $3,000 per couple on select 2019 air-inclusive European cruises!

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Grand France: 16 day Tour Côte d’Azur to Paris

Begin your adventure on the captivating French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur. On the Rhône River sits Arles, France—famous for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh—and its 1st-century Roman Amphitheater. On a guided tour of historical Avignon, see the 14th-century Palace of the Popes—the largest gothic fortress in the world. On this French river cruise, you’ll enjoy wine, cheese, beautiful scenery, and stops in the most charming parts of France. And your adventure would not be complete without a stay in Paris—one of the world’s most romantic and vibrant cities! The “City of Light” has Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum with its elegant glass pyramid contrasting its ancient architecture. 

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Christmastime Wiesbaden to Budapest: 13 Day Tour Wiesbaden to Budapest

Begin your European river cruise with incomparable festive cheer in the heart of Germany’s Christmas markets. Warm your heart and memories by embarking on your Avalon Suite Ship® in Wiesbaden, then on to a Bavarian Main river village for Christmas scenes and specialty sweets. Your Christmas cruise continues to Würzburg with classic sightseeing of the “Pearl of the Romantic Road” amid the glow of local Christmas markets and the city’s dazzling architecture.

 

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Rhine & Rhône Revealed with 3 Nights Barcelona – Southbound 19 Day Tour Amsterdam to Barcelona

This mesmerizing river cruise and land vacation begins on the Rhine River and then continues on the Saône and Rhône Rivers. Enjoy a canal cruise in splendid Amsterdam, as well as guided sightseeing in Cologne, Koblenz, and Strasbourg. Delight in excursions to Germany’s Black Forest and to Heidelberg—Germany’s oldest university town with its imposing castle. Also, sail through the dramatic Rhine Gorge, see the legendary Lorelei rock, and visit the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz. A motorcoach transfer takes you into France’s Burgundy region to fascinating Beaune for a visit to Hôtel-Dieu. Next, board your ship in quaint St. Jean de Losne and set sail for Macon, France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, as well as medieval Tournon, charming Viviers, Avignon, and Arles. Daylight permitting, sail into the peaceful Camargue area. Disembark your river cruise ship and arrive in the French Riviera, the splendid Côte d’Azur, for a final night in France.
 

Avalon Waterways is a leader in the River Cruising community. They provide amazing service, give you VIP Access and experts guides! Contact your Upon A Star Agent today for more info on booking an Avalon Waterways River cruise! 

Don't have an expert agent yet? Contact one of our travel experts HERE!

Wine Bar George Opens May 19th at Disney Springs!

The grand opening celebration of Wine Bar George begins at 5:00pm May 19th when the 1st glass of wine is poured! The restaurant’s namesake, George Miliotes, is a Master Sommelier – one of only 249 in the world. Wine Bar George is the only wine bar in Florida owned by a Master Sommelier and will offer more than 130 selections by the ounce, glass, and bottle in a range of varietals, vintages, and prices. 

This 200-seat wine bar is centrally located at The Landing. You can enjoy indoor seating with ambience reminiscent of a winemaker’s home or enjoy the sights and sounds of Disney Springs on the terrace with its fantastic views of The Landing and the waterfront stage. 

The Basket at Wine Bar George will offer European-style sandwiches, cheese, olives, hummus, charcuterie, cookies, and wines on tap—served to-go by the glass or carafe.

What a great place to hang out!

 

Want more info on booking your next magical vacation?

Contact our expert agents HERE today!!

 

TSA Cares Program

I love how fast flying gets me to my destination so I can start my vacation, but I am not a fan of the airport.  I completely understand the necessity of the screening process but still feel overwhelmed by it, no matter how many times I travel.  Every airport seems to have its own way of doing their screenings too, which causes real confusion! 

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Now imagine you have a medical condition that makes going through the security checkpoint a very difficult process.  My son, Mike, is on the autism spectrum and has type 1 diabetes.  He wears a wireless insulin pump that uses Bluetooth technology and carries back-up syringes.  He is supposed to avoid scanners as they can interfere with the pump's programming and he always gets his bag pulled for the supplies in them.  This causes him severe stress and anxiety as he waits in line because he knows this will happen.  By the time we get to the agent he can't even verbalize his needs and can be inconsolable. 

I had recently heard the TSA Cares program can help travelers with disabilities and medical conditions navigate the system so my family decided to try it on our most recent vacation to Florida.  It really helped our family get through the anxiety of the screening process at the airports with ease.  The Support Specialists were kind yet efficient, and took the time to explain step-by-step what we needed to do.

Three days before our departure I called TSA's toll free helpline at 1-855-787-2227 and spoke to Jeanette.  She was very friendly and patient with my questions.  She took my flight information and put it in the system.  She asked what accommodations we would need and made note of each of them.  She asked clarifying and relevant follow up questions.  Her knowledge of the process and the special needs of my family really helped put my mind at ease.  She sent me an email confirmation outlining how the program would work for my family.  Jeanette further explained that each airport handles the support program differently and that some would contact us in advance and some would not.  It is also only available in US airports.  She also directed me to their website to download and print out a card I could use at any airport for assistance, even if I couldn't call in advance.

                      Mike's TSA Notification Card

                     Mike's TSA Notification Card

Within 24 hours I received a call from PIT (Pittsburgh International) airport support.  They gave me a number to call once I checked in for my flight.  When we arrived and called the number, a TSA Support Specialist met my family at Arch (the giant mechanical statue).  He went through the entire process of how the screening would go.  They would not separate us for the screening.  He confirmed the special services we needed and walked through security with us, talking to us the entire time about next steps.  He even sat with my son Mike after the screening and chatted about our vacation while Mike put his shoes on and got re-organized.

                                                     Mike loves Arch!

                                                    Mike loves Arch!

For our return flight out of MCO (Orlando International) we hadn't heard from anyone prior to our arrival at the airport.  I used the TSA Card Jeanette had recommended and showed it to the first TSA officer I saw.  She had our family stand to the side while she called a Support Specialist, who arrived to meet with us in just a few minutes.  The Support Specialist explained to Mike every step of the process and stayed with us through the line and screening.  When Mike started to get to the private pat-down screening he started to get very agitated with his eyes darting between me and the Support Specialist.  She must have picked up on it and said there was a male officer that would handle it and that we were all allowed to stay together through all of security.

When we reached the gate area I found I had missed a call from MCO's TSA Support team.  They had called 2 hours before my flight to make arrangements.  They must have called while we were going through security.

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The TSA cares program really helped my family make it through security this trip without Mike freaking out or melting down.  It was one of the smoothest TSA screenings we have had with him in all the times we have traveled.  If you have someone with special needs or a medical device, I recommend this services.

You can find more information on the TSA website HERE and get the TSA Notification Card HERE

 

Real ID Act! Be prepared!

Just an update on the Real ID act and what it means for you. Just remember that right now, PA & NJ both have an extension only through October 10, 2018. PennDOT will not be issuing RealID compliant drivers licenses until early 2019. California is issuing compliant licenses now, but you must choose that as the option; not all licenses are RealID compliant. It is unclear as to when NJ will issue RealID compliant licenses. As long as the federal government continues to issue extensions, Pennsylvanians, Californians, & New Jersey residents may continue to fly with current ID. The final deadline for enforcement is 2020. 

Pennsylvanians Click here for more info

Californians Click here for more info

Those from TX and OH -- your states are compliant, but please ensure that your Driver's License is the RealID compliant version.

What this means:
At this time, those traveling on/after Oct 10, 2018 will need another form of ID to board aircraft:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

It is possible that PA/NJ/CA will receive another extension, but it is not a given.
TSA requires that adults boarding aircraft use proper ID, but ID is not required for children under age 18.
If an extension is not granted beyond Oct 10, as of right now you will need another form of ID to fly.

If you have any questions or unsure of what ID you will need to travel, please contact your Upon A Star Agent today for more info!

 

Dining at Maria and Enzo's

If you've followed along on any Upon A Star adventures or social media accounts, you probably know that Disney Springs is a rapidly changing and rapidly growing place! In fact, it was recently listed in a travel blog as one of the top 20 places to visit -- and I couldn't agree more!

On our recent trip in January, Brady & I ventured with our friends down to Disney Springs several times - after all, a foodie's gotta eat!

Maria and Enzo's is one of the newest eateries. It's themed - stick with me here - like an airport! The back story is that Maria and Enzo had a small bakery in the airport, but when it closed, they converted the whole thing into a dream restaurant (with the help of the owner of the Edison next door - but that's another blog post!). 

As you might imagine, this restaurant serves Italian food. The views are fantastic -- overlooking the water -- and the food I had was wonderful.  I loved the whole look and feel. There were travel & aviation posters lining the walls, and the room had an open and airy feel.

In addition to the main seating area, there is also a "First Class Lounge". There are no outside views, but it does have tablecloths! Due to the diners, i couldn't snag a picture of those tables.

But let's talk about the real star here - the FOOD.  I love Italian food! And I really enjoyed everything! The menu is somewhat limited, but very good. The first picture was our appetizer, the Arancini di Carne (fried rice stuffed with meat ragù, peas and mozzerella).  For my entree, I had the Busiate con Granchio (spiral pasta with lump crab meat) -- it tasted fresh and was so delicious! Brady had the Rigatoni, and our friends had the Spaghetti. Desserts were the Cannoli and the Sicilian Ricotta layered sponge cake.

All four of us were impressed with our food - and with our server! Martina was amazing - be sure to request her table when you go!

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In terms of pricing, you are definitely going to pay over $20 per entree. Disney Dining Plans are not yet accepted; but for me, I don't mind paying for a great meal every now and again.

Want to try it for yourself? Let your Upon A Star agent know that Maria and Enzo's is a must on your next trip -- we will set it all up for you. 

Buon Apetito!