Saturday, July 16, 2016

Panama Cruise - Hope You Can Join Us

FEBRUARY 16-26, 2017


At Sea
At Sea
At Sea
At Sea

Coral Princess is one of just two ships in the Princess fleet specially built to sail through the Panama Canal! Ninety percent of her staterooms offer ocean views, including 700 balconies, perfect for witnessing the engineering marvel of the canal. Spend the evening watching a movie, concert or sporting event outdoors in a plush lounge chair at Movies Under the Stars® or visit the Sanctuary®, a tranquil haven just for adults. Throughout each voyage, guests discover colors, cultures and flavors of the region right on board and come back with new perspectives, new friends, and incredible memories.

For More Information Contact Travel Agent: 
Cindy Graff
Graff Travel
Phone:  (701) 258-0472

Friday, April 15, 2016

9 Free Activities to Do in a Cruise Port

9 Free Activities to Do in a Cruise Port

Having fun in port doesn't mean you have to shell out a ton of money on shore excursions or private tours. Depending on where you cruise, there are a number of activities that allow you to relax, explore or get a taste of the culture free of charge. Swim at a hidden cove, visit an old church or sample local delicacies at the markets. Whether you're a couple, family, group of friends or solo traveler looking for a wallet-friendly way to experience the exciting new destinations on your itinerary, we've got you covered. Here are nine free activities to do in port.

Tip: Although the following activities are free, you should still keep a little cash on hand for meals, transportation, shopping and emergencies.

Hit the Beach

Tropical itineraries are sprinkled with beaches that make for literally priceless activities. Spread out your towels and soak up some vitamin D, walk along the beach looking for seashells or cool off in the crystal-clear waters. Many beautiful beaches are within walking distance or just a free shuttle ride from your cruise port. Pina coladas and lunch won't be included, but at least you'll have money to spare if you work up an appetite. For inspiration, check out pictures of our favorite beaches in the Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean.

Explore the Outdoors

Although many terminal areas might not evoke an outdoorsy vibe, you'd be surprised by what you can find beyond the city limits. Hiking trails abound in a number of ports, and can range from easy paths to more challenging inclines. We recommend doing a bit of research beforehand, or using an app like AllTrails, which lists nearby hiking trails for any given location. Popular itineraries with opportunities for adventure include Alaska, Hawaii, and Australia and New Zeeland.

Tour the City

Why pay for a tour of the city's landmarks when you can see them for free? If you're comfortable getting around on your own, make it a point to visit some of the port city's most prominent sights. From statues and street art to places of worship and sacred monuments, you can give yourself a mini-history lesson by doing a bit of your own research and chatting with locals. Wing it, or follow a self-guided tour that's already mapped out for you, such as those offered by tourism offices or on apps, such as City Walks or Google's Field Trip. Europe bound? Rick Steves' guides offer great walking tours (both written and audio) for those sailing Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, British Isles and European river itineraries.

People walking through the street, passing cafes, restaurants and shops

Browse the Markets

Shopping won't spare your bank account, but browsing the markets is free. While local markets vary depending on where you cruise, you most likely will see handmade crafts, local art and food -- some of which you might even be able to sample. Markets are also great places for photographs, a free souvenir of your trip. If there's a chance you'll make a purchase, make sure you have local currency on hand.

Catch Live Music

From steel drum bands in St. Maarten to accordion players on the streets of Venice, public performances are a great way to enjoy free entertainment in port. (Tipping is encouraged if you stick around.) Live music can be found anywhere from local bars to street corners. If you stumble upon an act that starts to draw a crowd, don't be afraid to sing, dance or clap along. Just be aware of your surroundings; pickpocket thieves love crowds of happy-go-lucky tourists.

Runners Jogging on Track during a Sunny Day

Go for a Run

Fitness junkies aren't confined to onboard gyms and jogging tracks when it comes to getting in a good workout. Cruises are a great way for runners to combine exercise with sightseeing in various ports. Just don't expect to find a suitable starting line as soon as you step foot ashore. Ask your ship's guest services desk if they know of any local trails, tracks or quiet roads (so you don't end up on a busy highway). Bringing along your phone? MapMyRun is a great tool for runners abroad, as it allows you to search and follow user-generated routes.


There's no denying it: Cruises are the perfect places for people-watching and speculating about the story behind the interactions you observe. When in port, it's another way to learn about a country's culture and environment -- plus, it's free. If you feel like kicking back and surveying the crowd, head to a public park or a bench outside a major attraction. Just don't make it awkward.

Compass Over Stained Yellowed Paper Sheet with Part of Schematic Hand Drawn Treasure Map

Go Geocaching

Geocaching is pretty much modern-day treasure hunting. Roughly two million containers (geocaches) are hidden worldwide, and each contains assorted trinkets and a logbook. Participants use a GPS to hide and seek containers -- signing the logbooks and trading the items inside along the way. It's fun, free and especially great for groups. A number of cruise destinations are home to geocaches. Bermuda has more than 280 on the island, while other popular ports include San Juan and Juneau.

People Celebrating on the Beach

Attend a Local Festival

Attending a festival, or even celebrating your favorite holiday abroad (think: attending an Easter mass or watching a New Year's Eve fireworks show), is one of the most immersive free activities you can do on a cruise. While you'll need to plan your cruise around specific dates, like Carnaval or Oktoberfest (which offer free events and can be accessed by cruise ship), smaller-scale events are more prevalent year-round. Check out the events calendars for your cruise ports to see what will be buzzing while you're there.

--By Gina Kramer, Associate Editor, Cruise Critic

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Rice and Peas Recipes

There is no other place on earth you will find a culture as dynamic as the one in Jamaica. Its people are a mixture of the many ethnicities that have landed on the island’s shores over the past several centuries.

About Jamaican Food
The island of Jamaica is known for being one of the most exotic vacation destinations for it’s beaches, balmy weather, reggae music, rich coffees and rums, exotic fruits and cheerful people. But you haven’t experienced Jamaica until you have tasted the delicious food.

Grilled Jerk Chicken Recipe 
Grilled Jerk Chicken

3 scallions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 to 5 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (3 lb), halved crosswise
2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken thighs and drumsticks

1. Make marinade by blending all marinade ingredients in a blender until smooth.

2. Marinate and grill chicken by dividing chicken pieces and marinade between 2 sealable plastic bags. Seal bags, pressing out excess air, then turn bags over several times to distribute marinade. Put bags of chicken in a shallow pan and marinate, chilled, turning once or twice. Let chicken stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Using a Charcoal Grill:
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney of charcoal briquettes (about 100) and pour them evenly over 1 side of bottom rack (you will have a double or triple layer of charcoal).

When charcoal turns grayish white and you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds, sear chicken in batches on lightly oiled rack over coals until well browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per batch. Move chicken as seared to side of grill with no coals underneath, then cook, covered with lid, until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Using a Gas Grill:
Preheat burners on high, then adjust heat to moderate. Cook chicken until well browned on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust heat to low and cook chicken, covered with lid, until cooked through, about 25 minutes more.

This Grilled Jerk Chicken recipe makes 8 servings. 

Rice and Peas Recipe
Rice and Peas is a staple for any Jamaican dinner. Jamaicans will make a huge pot of Rice and Peas on Sundays, and eat it with most meals the rest of the week. The rice and peas actually start to taste better every day as the seasonings continue to marinate in this fabulous dish. Enjoy.

2 cups of rice
1 cup of fresh red peas (either kidney beans or pigeon peas) drained
5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper (1 jalapeno pepper may be used as a substitute)
3 Scallion (spring onions may be used as a substitute)
1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (2 teaspoons of dried thyme may be used as a substitute)

1. Drain juice from beans, add coconut milk + sufficient water to make 3 cups of cooking liquid.

2. Put beans, “cooking liquid” and garlic in a pot and bring to the boil, simmer for 2 minutes.  Once the liquid begins to boil rapidly cover the pot and reduce the heat to very low.  The flavor of the dish will be more intense if the pot is covered during the entire cooking period.

3. Add scallions, thyme, and black pepper and salt to taste, simmer for a further 2 minutes.

4. Add scotch bonnet pepper (as this is not cut up it will not make the rice spicy, it will just add a subtle Jamaican flavor).

5. Add rice and let boil uncovered for 20 minutes (or until all liquid has been absorbed if this is sooner). Remove scotch bonnet pepper then serve.


Monday, April 27, 2015

What to do on your holiday to Montego Bay?

Montego Bay, Jamaica is one of the hottest destinations for American families, and it is a short distance from Miami (less than two hours by plane) makes it a quick getaway for long weekends or for vacation breaks.  Montego Bay is Jamaica's fourth largest city.  

The shores of Montego Bay create a unique retreat in Jamaica where rainforests, beaches, and cosmopolitan delights mingle for a family-friendly getaway with activities for adults, teens, and children to enjoy.

Here are some ideas for Montego Bay’s attractions:

Animal Farm & Natural Reserve (not named after the book) is a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon with exotic animals, beautiful gardens, rainforest nature trails, a butterfly garden tour, and a petting zoo. Most visitors enjoy hand-feeling birds in the walk-in aviary, but kids can also enjoy a ride on Boxer, the farm’s donkey!

Chukka Caribbean Adventures include an ATV safari, a horseback ride and swim (watch Paradise Found below for details!), a jungle river tubing exploration, a zipline through the rainforest, and the “Flight of the White Witch,” a special zipline tour where you learn about the infamous mistress of Rose Hall and fly 1,200 feet above sea level.

A former plantation with more than 2,000 slaves, Rose Hall Great House tells tales of hardship, romance, and even witchcraft. It is now a museum with tours, including a night ghost walk, great for teens and adults. 

Martha Brae River Rafting is the island’s number one rafting attraction. On a hand-made raft, float down the Martha Brae River as your guide tells you the Legend of Martha Brae, who is believed to have changed the course of the river. If you want, you can guide the raft or go for an swim. The attraction is quite popular and has welcomed Spike Lee, Chuck Norris, Kenny Rodgers, the Queen of England, and more.

Golf is one of the awesome activities for parents to enjoy in Montego Bay with four exceptional courses, including the White Witch Golf Course, 18-hole championship golf course by Robert Von Hagge and Rick Baril at Rose Hall with five tee boxes per hole and dramatic Caribbean vistas; and the Half Moon Bay Golf, a member of Jack Nicklaus’ “Great Golf Resorts of the World” and the host of the Jamaica Open Golf Championship, the Dunhill Cup Final of the Americas, and the Red Strip Pro-Am.

Where to stay in Montego Bay.
Less than 10 minutes from the Montego Bay International Airport there are many resorts for families or adults only who want a little time for themselves.  The full-service resorts offer all-inclusive programs with a buffet breakfast, cocktail hour, lunch and dinner.   Guests can choose from different levels of accommodations.  All of them offer oceanfront, oceanview and gardenview rooms.

Cindy Graff  |  Travel Consultant  |  |  701.258.0472  | 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Basic Flying Tips For Your Next Vacation

Millions of people take planes everyday to faraway destinations to enjoy their vacations. However, making reservations, meeting up at the airport, going through the process of boarding then flying can be a trying one, especially if the trip is going to be a long one.

However, there are some basic flying tips that you can use to help make your group vacation a fun, adventurous one while minimizing the issues that can plague travelling by plane. What follows are just a few tips to help you get through this process as best you can.


Most airline companies offer low priced or budget ticketing for certain flights. However, these flights usually have some type of restrictions as well, so be sure to check all of them first so you are not charged extra fees.

Plus, if you are only using one airline for your travel, then be sure to use electronic tickets as they cannot be stolen, forgotten or lost. You can even have them printed for you at the kiosk or airport counter so that you can save time as well.


For weekend getaways or short vacations, you may want to consider just having carry-on luggage since that will save you a great deal of time at the airport. Be sure to check the limits of what you can take with you as carry-on because many airliners consider laptop bags as a separate item.

One of the most overlooked aspects of flying is the different types of seats that are available on aircraft. Generally speaking, if you are looking for more room, than seats near the tail of the plane often have no middle seat so you can spread out. However, seats at the end of a section or just before the exit row may not recline. Plus, first row seats generally do not have a place for your bag, so it will have to be placed in the overhead bin.


Remember that most airlines charge for baggage and even more for overweight baggage, so try to take only what you need for the trip. Get familiar with the rules that each airline has so you can obey their policies. One neat trick for those who need to carry a lot of items is to ship them ahead in advance, then pick them up once you reach your destination. You may find that you’ll save a considerable amount of money that way.

Flying with Grandkids

While adults can be just as bored as kids when flying, adults do a much better job of handling the stress. Your grandkids will need some type of entertainment that they can occupy their time while flying. You should have video games, laptops or tablets, snacks for fussy eaters, and it always help to give them the seat by the window so they can look outwards, it may help alleviate the boredom and anxiety that they will experience.

Overall, by following these general tips, you can plan your air travel better and be more prepared when flying to your destination. For those of who don’t like to fly but love their vacations, I hope this helps.

Cindy Graff  /  Graff Travel  / 701-258-0472  / email:



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seven Blocks, The Signature Cocktail @DreamsCancun

I’m dreaming of the beach today!  Would love to be laying on a lounge chair, listening to the waves with a drink in my hand.  Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa has a very interesting cocktail that you can even try at home.
Here’s the recipe to their signature cocktail, Seven Blocks.


1 cup ice
1/2 ounce rum
1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce tequila
1 ounce triple sec
3 ounces orange juice
2 ounces red win


What do you think? Would you try it?
Thank you to DayDreams, the Official Blog of Dreams Resorts & Spas for sharing this great recipe.
Cindy Graff  |  Travel Consultant  |  |  701.258.0472  | 


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall Foliage Travel Destinations Along The East Coast

Just returning home from the east coast, I discovered wonderful places to travel to see the fantastic fall foliage U.S. travel destinations that can be seen along the east coast.

1. Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains: For travelers looking to enjoy stunning autumn leaves and one of New England’s favorite hideaways, consider the Berkshires. It’s just two hours from Boston and NYC and offers an array of outdoor activities including hiking and hayrides, plus the quaint towns are brimming with museums and galleries, farmers markets, as well as orchards, wineries and farms. There are plenty of accommodations to suit every type of traveler here, from family-friendly hotels and resorts to historic bed and breakfasts and romantic inns. 

2. Adirondacks, New York: The Adirondack mountains locate in upstate New York boast harvest festivals, apple orchards, and spectacular lakes surrounded by fall trees with leaves that explode with bright red, orange and yellow shades. Travelers can canoe, hike, or just relax and enjoy serenity here as they are truly surrounded by nature.  For the best foliage in this forest-laden destination, travelers should aim to visit sometime in mid to late October.

3. Stowe, Vermont: Also known as, “Fall’s Color Capitol,” Stowe offers a quintessential New England mountain resort escape. Whether you’re taking a scenic car ride through picturesque Vermont towns, biking along the Stowe bike path, or hiking up Mt. Mansfield, the highest point in the state, you will be surrounded by trees bursting with shades of orange, gold, and crimson during the peak foliage-viewing season of late September through mid-October.

What’s your favorite Fall foliage travel destination in the U.S.?


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Travel Smartphone Apps Worth Downloading for your Caribbean Vacation

Traveling. It can be a both love/hate relationship for many people. People love the opportunity to explore different parts of the world, while there may be some obstacles to overcome in order to experience pure, undisturbed relaxation. For this reason, hundreds of apps have been created in order to aid travelers in their journey to their Caribbean vacation destination and beyond. Here is a list of some new travel smartphone apps that will ease your Caribbean travel experience:

Zuji Packman
Do you ever feel like you’re forgetting to pack something before a trip? This app is specially designed to create multiple packing lists for your next trip that you able to save in case you may ever need it in the future. You’ll never forget your toothbrush or your camera at home again! If you’re traveling in a group, this Zuji Packman will ease any difficulties you may encounter by uploading and storing your travel itinerary so each person in the group can have access to it. If you’ve ever wondered what kinds of clothes or items your friends are packing, you’re able to view their packing list to get some ideas, although they are able to make certain items private. You’re also able to assign them items to pack for the group and you can set reminders for yourself on any errands you might need to run prior to your trip.

Airports by TravelNerd
Many people might not tend to associate airports with very positive views, but this app created by TravelNerd allows you to have access to all kinds of airport information- detailed floor maps, Wi-Fi availability zones, gate information, lists of shops and restaurants, and more. There is also a feature where users can pool other travels that can share a taxi with them or find alternative ways to get to and from the airport, although it is advised to use this at your discretion.

SeatGuru by TripAdvisor
Have you ever been assigned a seat on a plane that is less than extraordinary? Perhaps it was a seat that always got bumped by people moving around the cabin or it was at a bad angle from the television monitors. By simply typing in basic flight information, this app will give you detailed information about the seat. Each available seat is also given a color code using red, yellow, and green, so green is the best seat in the house and red is the one you should avoid at all costs. Users are also able to leave comments about the seat for future travelers. With SeatGuru, you don’t have to worry about those small details that can turn into a big inconvenience during your flight, especially if it’s a long one.

Every city has attractions that might not be listed on the city’s “must-see attractions” list, but they are worth checking out. Tripomatic was designed to help you find attractions in your vacation destination that you might not have known about that are located nearby. Users are able to create a trip itinerary, share it with their friends on Facebook or Twitter, and see what past visitors have said about these attractions.

If you and your friends are traveler aficionados, this app is for you. Once you sign up through Facebook, Tripl is able to automatically detect when you and your friends are traveling away from home and it can create personalized infographics of their journeys and yours, too. This app also allows users to see if any of their friends are in the area. Your friends don’t have to have the app for you to be able to see if they are nearby as long as you’re connected with them on Facebook. Tripl focuses more on sharing what you’re doing while you’re away and seeing what your friends are doing, as well.
Excerpts taken from Caribbean Daily


Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas from Graff Travel

Merry Christmas!
We at Graff Travel Agency want to
thank you for doing business
with us this year.
We look forward to assisting you
in the New Year.  No matter what
your travel plans are or where they
where they will take you, we’re
here to help you with every detail.
Plan now for winter vacations
that will give you a break
from our frigid temperatures!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Money Saving Tips For Your Next Cruise Vacation

People love to cruise. One of the features that consistently attract passengers is the ‘very inclusive’ nature of a cruise vacation. Your traveling resort delivers you to new and exciting destinations each day, while providing a virtual smorgasbord of onboard entertainment and dining options. With so much included with your fare, a cruise provides an incredibly budget-friendly vacation when compared to a similar land-based offering.

 Still, a cruise vacation is not totally inclusive, and without some planning and vigilance, it can be easy to overspend on your onboard account. Following are a few helpful tips to help you enjoy your cruise to the max while keeping account charges in line with your budgetary reality.

Establish a budget

The best way to avoid potential ‘sticker shock’ at the end of your cruise is to create a budget well in advance of departure. Establish the maximum amount for your out-of-pockets, and consider how you will allocate those funds. Plan for staff gratuities as a ‘mandatory expense’ since the crew works very hard and tips constitute a major part of their compensation – amounts vary by cruise line but generally are in the range of $11.50-$12.50 per person per day. Plan where you’ll splurge, be it on shore excursions, casino and bar expense, shopping, spa, or specialty dining. Finally, monitor your onboard account daily to ensure you’re on track with your plan.

Consider a beverage package

Most cruise lines offer beverage packages. Some sell a card or sticker that allows you to consume an unlimited number of soft drinks at costs ranging from $4.50 to $7 per person per day. Other ship packages come with a certain number of soft drinks at a discounted price. These packages can provide measurable savings for people who consume 3 or more such beverages per day. Some lines also offer some variation of a wine and cocktail package. Before you sail, check the specifics of your cruise line’s offerings to determine whether their promotions make sense for you.


While virtually all cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing alcohol aboard, many do permit you to carry on one bottle of wine for each adult over the age of 21. Most will allow you to bring aboard ‘reasonable amounts’ of soda and bottled water as well. Assuming you and your traveling companion bring two bottles of wine and a 12-pack each of soda and bottled water, this should provide savings in excess of $100. Before heading out, be sure to check with your travel advisor about your cruise line’s specific policies.

Shore Excursions

Excursions provide some of the most memorable experiences of a cruise vacation – but they can also quickly add to the bottom line of that onboard account. Consider booking an excursion through a reputable independent provider rather than direct through the cruise line. Chances are you will benefit from a smaller group experience that also provides significant savings over a similar excursion booked on the ship.

Timing is everything

Leave the majority of your onboard shopping until the end of your cruise. The shops frequently offer 2-for-1 specials on t-shirts and other apparel, as well as major discounts on watches and jewelry, on the last night of the trip. This is the perfect time to stock up on souvenirs for the folks you left at home. Schedule your spa appointment for a port day, rather than sea days. A stop in a port you’ve previously visited provides the perfect window for an indulgent spa treatment. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but you can likely take advantage of special discounts offered while most passengers have gone ashore.

Consider a luxury cruise

What? Save money with a luxury cruise? For some, it truly can be the more economical option. If you are a traveler who books suite-level accommodations on a premium cruise line, you may actually save significantly by booking a luxury cruise product. Since so many amenities are included on these upscale products– not only beverages, premium dining, transfers and shore excursions, but sometimes air fare and pre-cruise accommodations as well – you could actually come out money ahead by booking the ‘more expensive’ cruise product.


 A cruise provides an outstanding, budget friendly vacation. With just a bit of advance planning, selecting the best cruise and onboard products for your lifestyle -- and a daily check of your onboard account – you will enjoy a fabulous vacation, and no sticker shock when settling that onboard account.