12 Tips for a Visit to Japan

Japan is warm, Japan is beautiful, Japan is enigmatic! Settled comfortably in the east corner, this country is quite intriguing and inviting. It is definitely is great place to visit because you will look beyond the horizon (literally) and walk into a culture you knew so little of. Here are some daily etiquettes and habits that Japanese people adhere to, so on your trip to Japan you will know exactly how to be like the Japanese!

  1. Shoes outside

Like in many Asian countries, you must not walk into a house with shoes on. In Japan, many restaurants also request you to leave your shoes outside. So wear clean socks because you don’t want to walk around with your toe showing or soiled heels.

  1. Silence Please

Everyone in Japan keeps their phone on silent while commuting in public transport; even answering phone calls is considered rude. Respecting your fellow passenger’s peace, do not talk loudly or chat over the phone while sitting in a bus or train.

  1. A business exchange

The Japanese are very chivalrous and they show a lot of respect towards the other person. An example of this is while exchanging cards or gifts; they always use both their hands. When you are giving a business card/gift to a local, do hand it over with both your hands – it simply adds a sense of respect and gratitude.

  1. Bowing and greeting

You may have seen this often, and it is mandatory in the country. Just like in some Western countries people put out a firm handshake or pluck a kiss on the cheek, in Japan people bow slightly and incline your head. You may also shake your hand along with this bow. You do this and Japan is ready to welcome you!

  1. Serve a drink

When there is one bottle on the table or you are sharing the bottle, always pour the drink in your companion’s glass. Allow the other person to do the same for you, because in Japan you don’t serve your own drink. Surely, that works just fine!

  1. Slurp your noodles

Slurping your noodle soup is looked down upon in many countries, but in Japan it is a sign of food joy! By making this sound you are complimenting the chef and informing everyone that the food is delicious. So slurp on!

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  1. Chopstick – only for eating

Chopsticks are not kept for your entertainment, so avoid playing with them or using them are drumsticks or scratching an itch! Another ritual you must know is that passing food with chopsticks or leaving them standing upright in your bowl is used only during funerals and cremations so do not do this during your meal. 

  1. Cross your fingers for the bill

While waiting for your bill at a restaurant, you can simply cross your fingers in an ‘X’. This is an indication for bill; when the waiter sees this, he will bring you the cheque immediately.

  1. No Tips Please

On your holiday in Japan, do guilt yourself about tips! In this country, there is not custom of tipping your servers, they already receive a living wage. Surely, this will excite most travellers.

  • Mask is for a reason

You must have seen the residents of Japan walking around with masks over their nose and mouth; this is because they are very hygienic and health conscious. In fact, if you sneeze in public, you may give someone a heart attack! So avoid blowing your nose and coughing in public, you will just be allowing the locals to warm up against you. 

  1. Carry tissues and wet wipes

Once you finish using the washroom, you will not find any tissue around! Unless you want to use toilet paper, keep your own tissues and wet wipes handy. Japanese washrooms are robotic and do not have any space for hand towels.

  1. Don’t count the change

The Japanese pride themselves to be honest! When you receive change at a mall or a shopping centre and you count the change, you are bound to get a dirty look. They say you will receive the right amount, so don’t disregard the locals.

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Why should you travel to a Foreign Country?

Life is short they say, but remember that the world is wide…Travelling to different places means living your dream and creating many more. Here is why you should travel to a foreign land at least once in your life. Be warned, you will crave for more and more adventures.

  • Introduce a new culture

You may read about various cultures of the world in books, magazines and blogs, but until and unless you experience a culture first-hand you will not know how special it is. There are seven billion people on our planet and each having their own thoughts, rituals, habits and lifestyle. You must go out and discover this variety, ‘cause variety is the spice of life!

  • Experience and exposure

Missing your flights, lugging your bags, breaking your shoe and so many more unforeseen errors occur on trips. So how will you face such a situation? Well, you will know only when you walk out of the comfort of your home! Such incidents is what will open your eyes about what can happen and how to best tackle the situation. So, it’s time to get smart and get confident!

  • New lingo

Language and lingo – both differ from country to country and city to city. Learning a new language and a lingo will diversify your personality on the whole and improve your communications skills as well. Learn and enlighten because life is an education itself.

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  • Food Food Food!

Most travellers have big appetites! Every region grows its own veggies and fruits and also has specific cooking techniques. Be it the French fries of Belgium, steaks of Britain, spaghetti of Italy or hotdogs of America, go on and try out the dishes of the world!

  • Adventures unknown

Skydiving, surfing, shark spotting, deep sea diving, bunjee jumping, hot air balloon rides… there are so many adventures that give you an adrenaline rush! Experiencing this in the Indian Ocean will be different from the Atlantic, flying over New York City will not be like a hot air balloon ride in Africa – in short every episode is unique! And travelling will gift you such exceptional experiences!

  • Friends turn family

Meeting people is the best part of travelling! There is nothing in the world that will compare to the joy of smiling with a friend from a foreign land. You will be able to understand his lifestyle, his wave length and sense of humour when you spend time with him. In fact, the closer you get to your foreign friend, the more you will realize that we are all birds of the same feather.

  • Identify yourself

The popular saying, “the shortest way to yourself is around the world,” stands completely true! When you sit back on pristine beaches, walk down busy streets and visit globally renowned sights, you will begin a journey to understand who you truly are, accept how God has made you and promise to achieve better!

You should physically visit places to soak into the true essence of the region. Remember, a new place gives you new perspective, new people teach you new kinds of relations and new landscapes gives you new memories!

Things to do in the Magical Land of Bali

Bali is a magical land… Beholding a deep history and culture, travelling to Bali is like finding an all new meaning to life. You will be amazed by the magnificent structures and landscapes – from oceans to mountains, from forests to volcanoes, Bali is a box filled with surprises! Here are some things you cannot miss out on your visit to Bali…

  1. Rice fields of Tegallalang

Rice fields of Bali give a new meaning to green landscapes. Situated close to Ubud, the steps of rice paddies built on hills are indeed a magnificent sight. A popular tourist spot, the entire valley looks like a stairway to heaven!

Tegalalang-Rice-Fields

  1. Tanah Lot Temple

Bali has such a rich heritage! One such legacy witnessed here is at the Tanah Lot Temple on the coast of Beraban. Built on a 3-acre rock with waves gushing against it time and again, this is the oldest Hindu temple in the vicinity. Along with visiting a shrine amidst the ocean, the sunset from Tanah Lot Temple is what attracts millions of visitors.

Ocean Temple

  1. Uluwatu temple

Perched on the tip of a hill, the Uluwatu temple offers amazing views of the ocean and the sunset from every nook and corner! The archaeology of this temple goes way back to the 16th century; so you will find artistic stone structure similar to the sarcophagus. On this extensive holy place, you will also get an opportunity to watch a traditional Balinese dance as well.

  1. Kintamani and Mount Bakur -Volcano mountain

A serene blue Batur lake kissing a small mountain that houses a live volcanic crater is what Kintamani presents to its visitors. The pure mountain air and extensive scenic beauty of this picture calms you down like no other. You can simply opt to relish some authentic Balinese food while facing the water and mountain embracing each other with poise!

Kintamani

  1. Monkey Forest

The Scared Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a comfortable home to hundreds of grey-haired and long tail macaques that may not always be as innocent as the doe-eyed monkeys you see otherwise. A dense jungle, you will find many species of trees and flowers on exploration. It is an interesting place of people to enjoy the serenity of nature.

  1. Elephant Safari

The Elephant Safari park is an extensive land which allows you to get up close and personal with these massive, yet elegant animals. Surrounded by botanical gardens, you can enjoy your time feeding, riding, and observing elephants relax in their home land. Reputed as the world’s best Elephant Park, you will be pampered with other recreational activities here as well.

  1. Kuta night life

Kuta is the most renowned place of Bali. Lined with resorts that cater to all kinds of requirements, you will find a large choice of resorts to pick from. What makes this area a hot favourite is the bars and pubs that offer an amazing nightlife. So don’t miss out a great bar-hopping adventure in Kuta!

  1. Dolphin watching

Watching isn’t the only thing you will be doing on a dolphin watching cruise in Bali. If you really wish to get up close with these adorable mammals, start early and head into the ocean; Bali gives you an opportunity to hug, pet, kiss and play with a dolphin! Yes, you heard right. So wake up before sunrise for this activity, because it is totally worth it!

  1. Dip in holy waters

Built in 692, the Pura Tirta Empul is an ancient Hindu Temple where scared water flows in; this water is used to cleansing rituals. Inside the temple walls, there is pond that has a spring which gives out fresh water – this water is considered holy with the locals. Travellers can also take a dip in these waters and offer their prayers.

  1. Explore a hidden beach

Bali undoubtedly has some incredible beaches, most of which are unknown and unexplored. All travellers should go out and explore all corners of this island to find a tranquil spot of white sand and crystal clear water. Since these may not be commercially developed beaches, you will feel blessed to get one with nature sans any distractions!

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  1. Take a Balinese massage

The whole point of visiting Bali is to relax and rejuvenate! Trained with ancient techniques, the masseurs know the exact points that will leave you walking out with a new feeling altogether. So amongst the calm sound of waves, and green and clean air, spoil yourself with a massage that is to-die for!

Weekend in Canterbury

Narrow cobbled streets, medieval Roman walls and the sweet sound of the flowing river Stour of the beautiful British City of Canterbury will take you back to the fairytale books of your childhood. Awarded as a World Heritage Site, this ancient Kent town is globally acclaimed for its 6th Century Cathedral. In fact, the identity of Canterbury is its antique and bucolic feel. Neighbourhoods all around the main Cathedral dot a huge British shadow with its perfectly manicured gardens, peg tile roofs, brick structures, orchards, and chestnut forests – it is a sheer tranquil atmosphere!

Ideal for a weekend getaway Canterbury’s Cathedral is world-famous. The stunning Cathedral casts a shadow on the entire city – it sees intricate glass paintings on its windows, stone carvings, glorious cloisters displaying superb artistry by creative minds dating back to the 1100s and also people from all corners who visit as a place of pilgrimage. The charm of this city became immortal when classic Geoffrey Chaucer authored the classic Canterbury Tales.

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The city of Canterbury is built inside an oval territory which is bordered by the 270-290AD Roman Walls. Standing 16-feet tall, very little of these Walls remain today. Along the walls are 8 gates like the West Gate, Riding Gate, London Gate and so on. The West Gate is the most popular because it is carefully landscaped and looks extremely gorgeous, followed by the lovely stone work of Burgate which is now converted into a Chapel. However short of long a stay, the Roman City Walls of Canterbury are a must-see!

Another activity to exciting to undertake here is a scenic river cruise which will give you a holistic view of the entire city! Hop on to a traditional boat and sail by a fairytale backdrop; you will also be able to capture grand pictures of the Cathedral, a 13th century chapel and St. Francis of Assisi. In fact, the historic architecture is best viewed from these river cruises.

From Malory Towers, to the Marlowe Theatre, to Heritage Museum, to paintball, your itinerary in Canterbury is filled with plenty of options. Travellers ought to know that at Canterbury, you will walk into an old-school world where chivalry and education is respected, houses are impeccably designed, architecture is appreciated and people are treasured.  All in all, just breathe in the essence and take a lifelong snapshot of Canterbury on your escapade.

Best Shopping Destinations in the World

Shopping is the most favourite past time for women and a priority on most holidays. From London to New York to Tokyo, cities all across the world have so much on their platter that it is completely irresistible. Here is a list of the best cities in the world to pick where spending your moolah is totally worth it…

  1. New York City

Topping the charts over and over again, New York City is the ultimate shopping Shangri la. There is so much design history in this city that you will find past fashion hints of Dior, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, and other internationally acclaimed designers here. There is so much talk about 5th Avenue, but when you walk onto this block, you will be in complete awe! Even if these stores are way out of your budget, admiring the mannequins is also exciting. Apart from that you have Macy’s, Bloomingdale and Saks Fifth Avenue which are an all-time favourite. In reality is it is just like the scenes of Sex and the City where outfits are the epitome of style and have the perfect matching pair of stilettos and purse!

shopping destination

2.Milan

One of the top fashion capitals of the world, Milan is a place where fashion trends are incepted. Novelty, boldness and stylish catwalk couture is what you can expect in the stores of Milan. Introducing the world to Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, shopaholics will be overwhelmed with the varieties present here. From Quadrilatero della Moda to Corso Vercelli to the outlet malls, you will be spoilt for choice in Italy’s fashion hub!

milan shopping

3.Paris

Another fashion capital of the world, Paris is a fashion-lover’s reverie! Designers display their latest creations in this city first and you will find varieties of garments from elegant gowns to trendy trousers to statement jackets all in this bustling city. Classic, elegant, chic, or bold – Paris stores cater to all fashion styles. Champs Elysees, Rue Saint Honore, Boulevard Haussmann, Rue de Rennes, and Avenue Montaigne are some popular neighbourhoods to pick up great stuff. Remember, in Paris stores don’t sell apparel, but a lifestyle.

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4.Tokyo

High end designer stores, to trendy talent, to massive departmental stores – the Japanese capital is a shopping hot spot! Global favourites such as Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton stand side-by-side on blocks of Tokyo filled with regular shoppers. Ginza, Shibuya and Harakuju are areas you ought to visit to pick up trendy and designer pieces. Around Omotesando, you will also be thrilled to visit Japanese boutiques displaying cutting-edge designs by local designers. When you walk into the huge departmental stores, your experience on advice from shoes to books to fish will leave you completely satisfied. So believe it or not, Tokyo sounds like a guaranteed shopping delight!

5.Dubai

Retail therapy is best experienced in UAE’s luxury capital. A reputation for its extravagantly designed malls, you will feel like Richie Rich in Dubai! Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall are the latest shopping centres that you would love to get lost in labels like Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Burberry, Tory Burch, Armani, Bottega Venetta, you name it! Along with entertainment and great restaurants, shopping in malls of Dubai is truly fun and relaxing. The souks are another Arabic experience you should take because each market is dedicated to a particular segment. The gold jewellery and carpets you get to see in these souks are so rare that you can’t help but pick up something exquisite!

dubai city

6.Kuala Lumpur

Local indie products, high-end labels and artsy treasure, Kuala Lumpur is a shopaholic’s dream. The malls in this city will leave you baffled; in fact three of the world’s 10 largest malls reside in Kuala Lumpur. Bukit Bintang is the most popular shopping area where you will find designer stores like Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and others, while Times Square, Berjaya and Low Yat Plaza are areas where you can pick up interesting tit-bits. All in all, Kuala Lumpur is a 360 solution to your shopping needs!

7.London

Oxford Street has become the international symbol of shopping! Well, London is more Harrods; you will be ecstatic to walk streets of Mayfair, Convent Garden, Westfield and Berwick Street. From luxury items to quirky pieces to vintage furnishing, London has it all! If designer brands are killing your wallet, fret not because London City has umpteen stores with chic apparel and accessories in all price ranges! Hope you are prepared for a real steal in this City!

8.Hong Kong

The busiest airport and the busiest shopping centre of the world, Hong Kong is the favourite shopping destination throughout the world! It is overwhelming to see the streets and malls lined with countless designer stores and local boutiques packed with hundreds of shoppers. Apart from the fact that it has great malls like Landmark and Pacific Place and the world famous Cause Way, Hong Kong has the widest and most exclusive range of products. To top this, the offers here are the best in the world and the shopping is tax free! Well, all you hear is shop till you drop!

9.Buenos Aires

The most exciting Argentinean city, prepare yourself for some sexy shopping time in Buenos Aires. Dotted as the top fashionable city of the country, the best items to pick up here are leather goods and jewellery. Malls to street-shopping, buying fun things here are a steal. Since leather is popular here, brace yourself for some exquisite shoes and bags that will last a lifetime!

 

Top 6 Hotels of Paris

Timeless beauty, quintessential elegance and stunning vistas – the City of lights tops the list of almost all travel addicts.  Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Seine and so many more monuments along with cute and bucolic cafes are awaiting your Paris experience. So when you are taking a journey of this charming city, you should try to complete the experience by staying at hotels that speak volumes of the fascinating history and culture of this place. Here is a list of six hotels you ought to look up before visiting Paris, because your stay here is only going to make this a holiday to remember!

  1. Shangri La

When you think about Paris, you wish for elegance, opulence and the Eiffel! Prior palace of Napoleon’s nephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte, the Shangri La is a royal property displaying a splitting identity of Paris. Kissing the Seine and giving a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower as well, this location is ideal to enjoy the finest icons of the city. When you talk about the interiors, you will be thrilled to walk in hallways with ceiling and wall murals boasting of the Napoleon era; the rooms too are utterly spacious embellished with marble bathrooms, rich fabric curtains and traditional silver cutlery! In fact, the suit at the Shangri La is considered a French Heritage site! Is that tempting enough to check out this meticulously grand property, or what?

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  1. Le Maurice

Another palace converted hotel, Le Maurice holds a legacy dating way back to the 1800s. Classical and grand, yet not crammed this hotel is located ideally for art and history lovers. In fact, Salvador Dali the painter was a regular guest as this property which is designed to perfection by Philippe Starck.  Shining as a landmark of the Rue de Rivoli, guests are close to the Louvre and high street shopping of St-Honore. With chandeliers, marble and furnishings galore, this hotel has managed to bring in some chic and modernity in its ambience. When you aim to seep into Parisian history and spend time at museums understanding the culture, this luxurious property is ideally located for a comfortable stay.

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  1. Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Steps away from Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, hotel Le Royal Monceau Raffles is the epitome of French elegance. Housing hand-crafted furniture by Philippe Strack and 149 spacious rooms and suits, this 5 star property is rated in the top three hotels of Paris. Even though the structure is a bequest of the 1930s, it stands chic and modern with top notch facilities impeccably served on a platter. Apart from the luxurious rooms, Le Royal Monceau Raffles is home to a cinema hall, an art museum and an infinity pool. This property is as grand as it can get!

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  1. L’Hotel

The smallest 5 star property of Paris with only 20 rooms, each boasting of customized interiors, a stay at L’Hotel defines Parisian luxury to the T. Built in 1828, it was popular as a pavilion of Love. Many famous people like Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde have walked the hallways of the period-style hotel. In reality, the interiors of each room are inspired by each celebrity who has been a guest at L’Hotel.  An indoor pool, a Michelin star restaurant, an exclusive bar and plush furnishings will all be proof to the best hotel ever visited!

  1. Vice Versa

A quirky hotel, the Vice Versa is quite popular among travellers who are sporty. Designed specially by Chantal Thomass, it is eerily exciting to enter this world inspired by the 7 deadly sins! Be prepared to walk into bedroom which has a lollipop-shaped bed, bank note decorated walls, butterfly inspired setting or a badass anger themed room. Close to the Convention Metro Station, if you are stating at Vice Versa, you will have easy access to Champs Elysees and romantic sights. Exciting and romantic sounds like a great proposal! 

  1. Lenox Montparnasse

Located in the historic neighbourhood of Montparnasse, this hotel is a comfortable 3 star property displaying a charismatic French culture. Spacious rooms overlooking an inner courtyard and a typical and flamboyant Paris street, guests will be right in the heart of Saint Germen des Pres; this means easily accessible monuments of Paris, high-end shopping and Champs Elysees. Guests will certainly be provided the basic facilities like in any other hotel along with a great bar experience. With the rates in Paris being sky high, Lenox Montparnasse appears to be a fantastic deal for budget travellers.

Like most big cities of the world, Paris is known for its miniature apartments. However, if you get a chance to view la Villa Lumiere from any of these hotels, consider yourself a truly lucky soul!

Best Cruises in the World

Cruises are where are dreams are set to sail! The endless blue waters and an infinite horizon mixed with magnificent islands and sceneries which are inaccessible by road is quite a special experience. Now, the Mediterranean Coastline, Hawaii Islands and the Caribbean are the popular cruises and rightly so -picturesque Italian and Greek coastal towns, green haven of Hawaiian islands and crystal water of the Caribbean are very exciting for first-time cruises, but try taking one of the offbeat cruises listed below because you are just going to be swept off your feet on these!

  1. Antarctica

The ‘white continent’ cruise will definitely be the trip of your lifetime – the penguin colonies, towering glaciers, and mammoth icebergs will dwarf even the grandest of ships! Unlike other cruises, you will not have a minute-to-minute schedule on this trip; here the weather dictates how your day is going to be. The season for an Antarctica cruise is in the summer season of Southern Hemisphere – November to March. Apart from breathtaking pictures of the black and white friends from the South Pole and magnificent glaciers, you can go out and admire places like Hope Bay, South Shetland and Falkland Islands, Coronation Island and others.  The journey to embark on an Antarctica cruise maybe slightly tedious, but totally worth it!

Antarctica-Cruise

  1. Australasia

The world knows of the beautiful treasures that reside in Australia and New Zealand; and one of the best ways to get up close to these treasures is hop onto a cruise that takes you on a scenic cruise of these Southern jewels. Visiting cosmopolitan places like Auckland and Melbourne may sound quite regular, but it is the natural sights that make this cruise special – the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberleys and the Milford Sounds look a hundred times more precious from the ocean. The ship allows you to get as close as possible to these wonders and capture overwhelming photographs! Go on and experience this awesome feeling!

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  1. Baltic Sea

Seeing the Scandinavian countries over waters gives you a 360 degree view of the history, culture and stories of the region. Very little is known about Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. From the busy and important ports of Helenski, St. Petersburg, Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen to glimpses of snow-capped peaks, incredible fjords and untouched, tranquil landscapes your journey is assured to be magical. A cruise across the Baltic will give you a clear perspective on the entire region and of course pictures that you will treasure for a lifetime.

  1. Alaska

Dramatic ice formations, pure white mountain peaks, a unique wildlife and you – Alaska gives a new meaning to ‘awesome!’ On your cruise ride to Alaska explore magnificent ice caves, trek on glaciers and of course walk through the widespread national park. Be prepared to capture pictures of the whale migration and the iconic natural wonder – Mount McKinley. Whether it is hiking, padding, skiing or fishing, you will be living your life to the fullest on this holiday. This adventure to Alaska is a “see it to believe it” kind of experience. So pack your bags for a trip to the North Pole!

  1. South Pacific

A South Pacific cruise is for all the lovebirds and luxury buffs! You will be cruising on perfect ocean blue waters lined with a golden coast and naturally manicured palms touching the flawless islands of the Pacific. You will be blessed to walk on the tropical paradise of Moorea, Bora Bora, Fiji and Tahiti. There isn’t much to say about these magical islands, because a picture speaks a thousand words! So if you truly wish you enter a picture-perfect destination like those in paintings, the South Pacific cruise is for you!

  1. Galapagos

This is a museum of marine life! Situated at the confluence of ocean currents, it is a melting pot of animals unseen before – sea lions, seafaring lizards, short-feathered penguins, and so many more species you have never heard of, are casually spotted on this UNESCO Heritage site. Less exposed to the real world and untouched by pollution, this is probably the purest of all islands.

The best time to sail through this unique jungle of marine animals is in April and May.

  1. Mexican Riviera

This is a warm-weather cruise which best suited for people who are looking to sit back and relax! The laid-back energy on these cruises tricks you into having fun at your own pace and cherish the little joys of life! The main destinations on a Mexican Riviera cruise are Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. From typical Mexican hospitality to the Mayan ruins to local margaritas, the coast of Mexico is a holiday in its truest form. So when you are in dire need of a vacation, head on a Mexican Riviera cruise for a real treat!

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Remember, cruises have the power to sail to destinations unknown and places untouched. So keep calm and cruise on!